Monthly Archives: October 2011

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween from Brown Road Chronicles.

May your day be filled with ghosts and ghouls and witches and black cats and vampires and werewolves and jack-o-lanterns and  friends and family and kids and trick-or-treaters and Twix Bars and Snickers and Three Musketeers and whatever else makes Halloween special for you!

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Trick-or-Treat

Last year on Halloween night I was home with the flu. Because we live out in the country, we typically spend Halloween evening at the home of some close friends whose kids are similar ages to our kids. They live in a small neighborhood nearby and the kids can trick-or-treat to their heart’s delight while the adults sit back and share a pizza and a few drinks. That’s the one thing I don’t like about where we live, that we don’t get to experience kids coming to our door, dressed as ghosts or witches or hobos or athletes or all the other myriad costumes. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and I’ve always felt our home would make the perfect spooky haunted house.

I just didn’t feel up to being out, though, with an aggressive fever and the toggling of sweats and chills. So I sent my wife and the kids off for the evening and plopped myself down on the couch to watch some of the usual Halloween fare on the TV.  Flipping through channels of zombie and werewolf and vampire movies and the yearly Halloween series marathons, I eventually settled on the classic Boris Karloff version of Frankenstein, knowing I’d probably fall asleep in a few minutes anyhow… which I surely did. It was about 8:30 p.m. when I was awakened by someone knocking on our front door.

Who in the hell would be here on Halloween night, I wondered, especially at our front door, which no one ever uses. Shaking the sleep from my head, I hoisted myself off the coach and walked into the kitchen where I could vaguely see someone standing on the front porch.

“Jesus Christ, should I answer it?” I mumbled under my breath as I inched a little closer to try to get a better view of this person who was intruding on my sick-rest.

Soon I was close enough to the front window where I could see outside to the porch and in the faint light cast by the moon I saw a young boy, probably about my son’s age, dressed in tattered overalls and a heavy flannel shirt, all of which appeared to be soaked and muddy, dirt streaks on his face and tousled, sandy-brown hair. Perhaps he was a trick-or-treater, I thought, dressed in the traditional hobo costume that kids have been wearing since trick-or-treating became a mainstream activity… but here, at my house, in the middle of nowhere?

Still questioning my decision to answer, I walked to the door, unlocked the various bolts and slowly opened it to this guest.  The door creaked loudly as the old, rusted metal hinges were forced back to life after many years of sitting still. There in front of me stood this boy who reminded me of the classic Huck Finn character from the Mark Twain books.

“Hi there” I said “can I help you? Are you trick-or-treating?”

The boy looked panicked.

“I was… he paused… with my friend Ollie Evans” he replied. “But I can’t find him. We were playing around in the swamp behind your house and I lost track of him. I need you to help me find him!”

“Ollie Evans… from down at the end of the Brown Road?” I questioned him. “Buddy, what are you talking about?  Mr. Evans died just the other day, had a heart attack.”

His eyes bounced back and forth from me to the blackness outside. “No, we were just trick-or-treating, but then we decided to play in the swamp and I can’t find him now. I need you to help me find him!”

“Son, are you okay?” I asked, now quite alarmed.  “Where do you live? Are you lost? Can I call your parents?”

“I’m not lost. I live just down at the end of Brown Road, just around the corner a little bit. So you haven’t seen Ollie, he didn’t stop by?”

“Buddy, are you talking about Mr. Evans?” I inquired again. “He just died a few days ago, had a heart attack, he was in his eighties. Why don’t you come inside and get dried off and we’ll figure out what’s going on.”

“No, I have to go look for him. Can you please call the sheriff?” he asked, as he quickly turned around, stepped off the porch and ran into the night.

Stunned, I stood there at the door for a few moments, staring out into the darkness of the Halloween night as the faint moonlight cast shadows over our oak trees. I grabbed my phone and considered calling the police before dialing Mrs. Evans’ phone number.

“Hello” she answered in her creaky eighty-something voice.

“Hey, Evelyn, it’s Mr. Warner, how are you doing tonight?”

“I’m doing fine” she said. “Just trying not to think about Ollie too much.”

“Yeah, I understand, he was a good guy” I said. “But hey, he’s the reason I am calling, something strange just happened. A kid came knocking on my door and when I answered it, he was soaking wet, covered in mud and wearing overalls with a heavy flannel shirt underneath. I asked if he was trick-or-treating and he said he had been, but then he said he was looking for Ollie.”

A deep chill crept through my body and the hair on my neck and arms was suddenly at full attention. “I spoke to him for a minute, tried to get him to come into the house and then he abruptly ran off.”

“That sounds like Jimmy” she said faintly.

“Who is Jimmy?”

There was silence on the line for what seemed like an eternity but was likely only a brief moment.

“Are you still there?” I asked, breaking the silence.

She began to speak. “Jimmy was my older brother, just a year older than me. You see, he and Ollie were best friends when we were kids, they did everything together, just two country boys, always outside and roaming around in the woods all day. We all went to school together at the old school-house that used to be across from the cemetery down the street from you.”

“Anyway, back in the thirties when we were all just about your son’s age, the two of them would trick-or-treat on Halloween nights around here.  Of course, just like now, there weren’t any other trick-or-treaters around, you know, all the houses are too far away from each other.  But everybody knew that Ollie and Jimmy would stop by on Halloween night so the neighbors all knew to keep a few treats on hand. They’d walk for miles to the six or eight houses that they could reach. Then they’d call it a night.”

“So you’re saying this kid is your brother?” I interrupted.

She continued. “I’ll never forget the year, nineteen thirty-three.  I was at home, when the sheriffs came to the door and told us what had happened. I remember my Mother collapsing on the floor. You see, on that fateful Halloween night as the boys were making their way back home, they decided to go play around in the swamp behind your house. It was dark and they didn’t have any lights with them… you know how dark it gets around here at night. They were chasing each other around and they got separated and then Ollie got caught up in some weeds in a deep part of the swamp.  He was calling for Jimmy to help but they had gotten too far away from each other for Jimmy to figure out where he was.  Jimmy ran to your house that night and knocked on the door for help. The Browns were living in your house back then. Mr. Brown went to phone the sheriff and Jimmy ran back to the swamp to try to find Ollie. When the sheriffs finally showed up, they were able to pull Ollie safely out of the water…”

She paused again for a long time, before continuing on.

“… but Jimmy drowned in the swamp that night trying to find his friend.”

“Oh my god, I’m so, so sorry” I offered, feeling like I wasn’t doing much to help.

“It’s okay Steve, it was a long, long time ago. We buried him in the old cemetery and although my parents were devastated, we did our best to move on. But for many years afterwards, people claimed to see Jimmy’s ghost wandering around the swamp and around your place on Halloween night. I guess he was still looking.”

“Of course many years later, she added, Ollie and I ended up getting married and one of those years Ollie decided to walk to the cemetery and talk to Jimmy at his grave site, tell him he was okay and that he didn’t need to look for him in the swamp anymore.  He continued to do that every Halloween night for almost seventy years… it seemed to work, no one has seen Jimmy’s ghost since… well, until tonight. With Ollie passing just the other day he didn’t show up at the cemetery. Jimmy must be looking for him.”

Chills roared through my body and in complete disbelief, I said goodbye and hung up the phone.

With a wobble in my knees, I walked back to the couch and sat down quickly as the fever and the shock of what had just happened hit me like a ton of bricks. Still reeling, I grabbed the bottle of Advil and glass of water from the nearby end table and threw back a couple of pills, emptying the glass of its contents.

Boris Karloff was still gracing the screen and I grabbed the remote and abruptly shut the TV off. Although the family was still out I decided to head up to bed to try to get a decent night’s sleep so I could possibly go to work the next day. I slept right through the noise of them coming home and the kids dumping their bags of candy on the kitchen table to sort out their hard-earned loot.

The next morning started at 6:00 a.m. with my alarm blaring in my ears and I crawled out of bed and walked downstairs to find my wife sitting at the kitchen table sipping from her favorite coffee mug.  Still dazed from the night’s activities and wondering if the effects of a fever were playing tricks on me, I sat down at the table and asked about their evening of trick-or-treating.

“Pretty typical Halloween night” she said, “lots of adorable little goblins and ghosts around. The kids had fun though. How about here, she asked, was it creepy being alone on Halloween night in this creaky old house?”

“I was fine” I lied. “I went to bed early. Pretty quiet night, though I’m still not feeling great, I didn’t sleep well last night, had some pretty fucked-up dreams. I think I’m going to stay home from work today. I could probably make it, but they’ll be okay without me for a day.”

“Good idea” she said. “You need the rest. It’s supposed to be a nice day, if you start to feel better this afternoon and you feel like getting some fresh air, the front porch could use a hosing off…”

“… looks like the kids have tracked mud all over it.”

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Skim vs. Fat Free Milk

Son: We’ll I guess I can’t have cereal this morning!

Me: Why would that be?

Son: Because we only have skim milk.

Me: So?

Son: I don’t like skim milk, I only like fat-free milk.

Me: It’s the exact same thing.

Son: No it’s not.

Me: Yes it is.

Son: No it isn’t.

Me: Yeah, I’m pretty sure that it’s the exact same thing.

Son: It’s not, it’s different.

Me: Would you like me to call the U.S. Department of Agriculture?

Son: Who is that?

Me: That’s not important, but I’m telling you its the same thing.

Son: No it’s not, it tastes different.

Me: It doesn’t taste different, what don’t you like about it?

Son: It’s disgusting!

That’s how most conversations about food end with him unless they are foods from the six major food groups that appeal to boys, which I discussed in an earlier post. Those being:

1.  Pasta Foods: such as Macaroni and Cheese, Spaghetti, etc.
2.  Canned Pasta Foods: such as Spaghetti-O’s, Chef Boyardee, etc.
3.  Tube Shaped Foods:  Hot Dogs, Corn Dogs, etc.
4.  Nut and Jelly Foods:  Peanut Butter and Jelly, Jelly Donuts, etc.
5.  Foods with cool mascots: Cereals, Pop-Tarts, Kid-Cuisine Meals, etc.
6.  Foods that used to be chickens:  Nuggets, strips, etc.

We only drink skim milk at our house.  I call it gray milk, because it has that kind of grayish tinge. There are a few different grocery stores around us and some of them sell skim milk and some of them sell fat-free milk so depending on where we shop sometimes we have skim milk and sometimes we have fat-free milk.

My son won’t drink skim milk. He’ll only drink fat-free milk. Actually he doesn’t really drink that much milk but he uses it on cereal. In my superior knowledge of worldly things, I’m relatively confident that skim milk and fat-free milk are pretty much the same thing and that there really is no noticeable difference between the two. But he has it in his head that they are different. This is a recently discovered phenomenon so we think maybe he tasted some “skim milk” that was perhaps beginning to go bad at one time and now he thinks that there is a difference.

So I did a little research. The website Buzzle.com makes it, as they say, “quite clear”!

You can read the whole article here if you want… or just read the conclusion which I have copied below.

Skim Milk and Fat Free Milk: Final Conclusion

From the above discussion, it is quite clear that skimmed milk which contains 0.5% fat, is known as fat-free milk. 1% milk is the low-fat milk. 1% and 2% milk can be considered as skim milk. Milk containing 0.5% fat is recognized as either fat-free milk or skim milk. Normally, one cup of skim milk or non-fat milk contains less than 0.5 gm of fat per cup. Skim milk (0.5% fat) and fat-free milk, being the same, do not portray any marked difference in their nutritional value. Fat free milk is just the new term for marketing skim milk which has negligible fat.

See how clear that was. I’m always right!

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The 100th Subscriber Contest

Yesterday I received my 99th subscription.  I know you are not supposed to discuss your subscription numbers, that’s kind of like discussing salaries around the workplace coffee station.  But I am going to break the rules and do it anyway. That may sound like a lot of subscriptions to some bloggers and not much to other bloggers, but I thought it was a pretty neat milestone that I was on the verge of 100 subscriptions.

Other than a very small handful of friends and family (under 5 people) all of my subscriptions are folks that I don’t know other than through this blog. They come from all over the United States, Canada, Australia, Europe and South Africa, which is really cool! I have never really opened this up to my local friends via Facebook, etc.  I have a reputation to protect, you know! I am proud to say I have earned these subscriptions through hard work, shameless commenting on other blogs, dropping a few f-bombs here and there, some cute little poems, and of course writing some pretty good posts (and admittedly some crappy ones as well) that have drawn people to hit the “subscribe” button. As well, because of the sauciness of some of my posts, I have not had the benefit of FP’d to bring readers to me. I’m not bitter about that… it’s okay… sniff… really… I’m not… sniff… seriously… not… sniff… bitter.

A few of my posts have been responsible for lot’s of subscriber activity.  BOOBS, of course, has brought me many readers.  Getting Fu…Fu… Freshly Pressed has brought me a good number of subscribers and is likely the reason I will never be Pressed… but that’s okay… sniff.  Most recently my post The Meaning of Life generated roughly 10 subscriptions. Apparently that struck a nerve with people.

So I’ve decided to hold a little contest to generate my 100th subscriber.

Here’s the rules:

1. You MUST be a WordPress user. It’s just easier to interact with WordPress users.

2. You must be the 100th subscriber.  Yeah, I know that seems pretty obvious! But if I don’t get a chance to announce who the winner is right away and you subscribe thinking you won and someone beat you to it… well… you get the picture.

3. You can’t be a current subscriber… yeah, I know… duh!

Okay, so those are the only rules.

What do you win?

Well, as soon as I can, after seeing that wonderful e-mail come in that tells me the 100th subscriber subscribed, I will edit this post and tell everyone who that blogger is and put a big ‘ol link back to their blog

Then, if you want to, you will win the opportunity to write one guest post on my blog (yes, at my discretion).  That will, of course, put you in front of 99 other bloggers.  Not that 99 are really reading, so maybe 75 other bloggers… or perhaps 50 other bloggers… or perhaps only 25… actually I don’t really know how many of those subscriptions are actively reading.  But in any case, I’ll let you write a guest post.

That’s all you get… sorry there is no money involved… no little graphic awards. You know how I feel about awards, right?  So let’s get this party started. Good luck.

Ready…

Set…

Go…

WE HAVE A WINNER!!

Sarah at Keeping the End in Mind is the 100th subscriber! A quick glance at Sarah’s blog and she appears to be very new to the blogging scene, so please take a peek and give her a warm welcome to our little neighborhood of the WordPress community.  Her theme seems to be about “self-coaching” which is something I think we could all probably do better.  I can’t quite figure out where she is from but some of the word spellings lead me to believe she is not in the U.S.  We’ll see!

Now Sarah, first I will encourage you to update your “ABOUT” page as that is one of the first places readers go when they decide to stalk your blog.  Then, if you’d like to write a fabulous guest post I will post it on my blog here for all these other fine folks to read.  So, introduce yourself, write about whatever you want people to read or know about you, whatever… just keep it… you know… mostly clean.  This is a family oriented blog you know! Yeah and don’t ask all those commenters about that… they don’t know what they’re talking about.

You can reach me by commenting here, or at stevetwarner@yahoo.com.

Thanks for visiting Brown Road… and for being my 100th subscriber!  Myself and 99 other readers look forward to what you have to say!

Steve

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