Boo!

Yesterday was Halloween. All Hallow’s Eve. Fright Night. Frankly, Halloween does nothing for me. It never has; it likely never will.

I hear collective gasps.

For many years, we went to one or another of the grandkids’ houses and watched them get into their costumes and handed out candy while they trick-or-treated. The last couple of years, we have been in AZ for Halloween, and that will probably continue for some time.

Each year that we’ve been here in AZ, Maggie has invited me to go with her and her family to a friend’s house, where they have a neighborhood Halloween party. That is apparently pretty common here in the Valley, as it seems to hold true in my nieces’ and nephews’ neighborhoods as well. I guess that’s a good thing, because it would seem that your kids might be safer trick-or-treating amidst friends. But every year I politely decline, because, well, COSTUME.

I have only been to one costume-required Halloween party in my adult life, and it was probably 35 or 40 years ago. I remember that I dressed up as a doctor, but I remember little else about the party. I hate dressing up. I even hate wearing good pants and a clean blouse to go to church on Sunday. Being retired, I dress so casually that putting on something besides grundgy capri pants for Sunday Mass feels like a costume party.

I wasn’t entirely sure how the grandkids were dressing up this Halloween. I asked on a number of occasions, but each time I asked, it seemed like I got a different answer. Early yesterday morning, I got an instant message from Kaiya.

She: Nana, are you awake?

Me: Yes. Good morning.

She: Today is………………………………………HALLOWEEN!!!!

Maybe you have to be a kid to really understand the excitement. Frankly, I get more excited by Groundhog’s Day.

As our IM conversation continued, I learned that she was dressing up as a Spider Princess this year. I wasn’t aware that spiders had royal families, but indeed they must. I asked her to explain, and it seems the primary costume element was fake spider webs.

As the night went on, I began getting photos of the grandkids, starting with the Vermont clan, who went out trick-or-treating earliest. Despite the fact that Joseph is perhaps the sweetest-natured child I have ever known, he makes one heck of a scary Dracula, doesn’t he? As for Micah, he is ready to go out and fight crime. You can tell by his hands….

joseph-micah-halloween

Adelaide, who is 13, forwent trick-or-treating this year, and instead attended a party. Nevertheless, she is an exceptionally pretty panda bear. As for the others, well, Alastair – perhaps in honor of the World Series – went with a baseball theme. Dagny appears to be some sort of a spider vampire (I’m going by the vampire collar and the apparently-ever-popular spider webs) and Maggie Faith, well, I’m not sure. Maybe a fairy of some sort having a bad hair day?……

mclains-halloween

Kaiya was, indeed, a spider princess. Mylee, for the third year in a row, went with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume. This year she was Raphael. As for Cole, he was scheduled to represent the animal kingdom as an adorable little fox. As it happens, he firmly eschewed his costume and elected to portray a Terrible Two-Year-Old boy instead. But he does it well…..

zierks-halloween-2016

We had a grand total of two trick-or-treaters in our mostly-adult neighborhood here in Mesa, AZ. Oh well. Leftover Butterfinger candy bars for us.

I must leave you with one more photo. Our daughter Heather makes one heck of a victim for Dracula, doesn’t she?……

heather-joseph-halloween-2016

Ask the Librarian

I got my first library card when I was probably 6 or 7. Back in those days (when dinosaurs walked the earth), we didn’t learn to read until we were 6 or so. These days, kids go to kindergarten already knowing how to read. When I was in kindergarten, we learned our colors, our shapes, how to take naps on little rugs on the floor, and how to be away from our mommies. Reading didn’t come until first grade when we met Dick and Jane. See Spot run. Run Spot run.

But as soon as I was able to read, Mom took me down to get my library card. I have had a library card ever since.  And it isn’t something that just disintegrates in my billfold. I am an active library user. In fact, I am very happy because now I can have a library card from two different library systems. Look up geek in the dictionary and there I happily am!

searchWe can thank Benjamin Franklin for coming up with the concept of libraries. Apparently when he wasn’t out flying kites in lightning storms (and who thinks that is a good idea?), he was spending time in the more valuable pursuit of figuring out ways to encourage people to read.

The library in Columbus (at least when I lived there; it has since moved) was located in a big brick building downtown. You climbed up the long cement staircase, walked through the wooden doors and were greeted by an array of books that could make you cry from happiness. I literally can remember to this day how it smelled.

Off to the right was the children’s library. When I was younger, I recall I was addicted to a series of biographies about famous people of all sorts – Susan B. Anthony, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Florence Nightingale, John Quincy Adams. The stories were seemingly endless.

As I got a bit older, my tastes began to gravitate towards mysteries. And heaven, sweet heaven, I discovered Agatha Christie. My life was forever changed. The library had the complete set of books written by the Queencollins-crime-club of Crime. They were hard-covered, and on the cover and the spine there was a little gun and the words  “Crime Club.” I remember this distinctly because when I was in 6th grade, I had an Agatha Christie book on my desk at school, and Sr. Amica spotted it on one of her prowls around her classroom. She held it up and pointed out to the class about the sinful book I was reading. “Crime Club!” I remember her saying as she looked at me like I was Adolf Hitler. I remember even at that young age, and even being so painfully aware of wanting people to think the best of me, thinking, “Seriously? Agatha Christie? Miss Marple?”

Sr. Amica passed away that school year, and, well, that’s all I’ll say about that.

neighborhood lending libraryI began to think about libraries because Jen sent me a picture of something she saw during one of her walks in Fort Collins. Someone built a lending library of sorts in their front yard. It is full of books, and apparently you are invited to borrow the book, bring it back when finished, donate your own books, etc. I really, really love this idea.

I have mentioned before that I have become an avid ebook reader. In fact, ebooks are literally the only way I read these days. I get them from the library if I can; if I can’t, I buy the book either from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. I like that I always have a number of books at my ready. The biggest disadvantage, of course, is that most ebooks are not sharable unless you are willing to actually hand your reading device to another person. I’m not.

But if I still read paper books, I would sooooo take advantage of this enthusiastic reader’s personal lending library. In fact, I would be happy to donate some of my own books to his/her cause.

One final word about libraries. When I was in college, one of my work/study jobs was to reshelf books at Norlin Library at the University of Colorado. I would get the books reshelved in quick order, and had enough time at the end of my shift to peruse the stacks. Even a few minutes to read. It was while working at Norlin Library that I read Dracula by Bram Stoker – in 15 minute increments.

Thank you Benjamin Franklin. You deserve to be on the Hundred Dollar Bill. Libraries were one of your best ideas.