Many homeowners in my small town not only have caught up with fall, they can rock on porches or by fireplaces — depending on temperatures — until Thanksgiving.
Their scraggly flowers now nourish compost piles. These Fall Go-Getters ordered bulbs in July and have planted them in well-fertilized beds.
On a scale of one to five, they’ve earned a six.
My flowerbeds? Half-dead blooms huddle around my house — though the fake, sunflower-laden hat on our front door earns two points.
Super-organized souls not only keep up with the seasons, they forge ahead. By August, autumn wreaths adorned their doors. “Welcome, Fall!” signs, pumpkins and jewel-colored chrysanthemums decorated their porches by September 1. Six points.
One house boasted acres of inflatable skeletons and chain saw murderers. Must I give credit to these scary overachievers?
Sigh. They must have worked day and night. Six points.
However, I itched to inform those Halloween enthusiasts about my porch’s genuine spider webs, which stick to visitors when they enter. Now, that’s fall authenticity. Three points for me.
Especially since cobwebs abound not only outside, but inside. Cleaning disturbs autumn’s ambience, so I avoid it. Two points for me.
I do envy self-starters their autumn interior décor (six points again). Fireplace mantels boast Hobby Lobby’s colorful leaves and fall flower arrangements, 50 percent off. Mine still features tulips — but peach-colored, like some fall leaves. Don’t they count for a half-point?
So far, Go-Getters have scored 24 points. Me? Seven-and-a-half.
But, wait. There’s more!
Go-Getters’ freezers, defrosted last spring, abound with perfectly stacked storage containers of homegrown, self-picked produce labeled with contents, date and time processed.
Six points again.
However, homegrown and self-picked produce also abounds in my freezer. So, there!
But I must remove 10 sort-of-labeled, amoeba-shaped packages to find something unexpired for supper. Three points.
Fall Go-Getters: 30. Me: 10-and-a-half.
It’s only October. I’ll make a run between now and Thanksgiving.
Then Hubby peers outside. “Beautiful day. Want to go for a hike?”
If I do, I’ll never catch up …
Light shimmers through oaks’ and maples’ leaves embroidered with scarlet, gold and russet. Crickets and cicadas sing an end-of-summer concert. Cornfields rustle a welcome: “Our Creator throws a great harvest party, doesn’t He!”
I’ve caught up with fall.
This Go-Slower earns nothing, but she’s just been given 100 points.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you caught up with fall?
O Lord, It’s only October, but I can’t buy a can of beans without seeing a Santa Claus. You, who made the sun move backward to preserve daylight during an Old Testament battle —OMG, could you pause on lovely fall …
If nobody has wished you a Happy October, consider yourself greeted. Also, Happy Sun-Dried Tomatoes Month!
October’s traditional holidays — Columbus Day and Halloween — have come under fire. The Internet graciously supplies us with alternatives so we now can venerate dehydrated fruits? — vegetables? — this month.
Though shouldn’t we celebrate in July, when tomatoes become one in spirit with plump, red humans who also roast and wrinkle in blazing sunshine?
October is also Class Reunion Month. Has anybody ever held a class reunion in October?
In a related issue, October offers Be Bald and Free Day.
But wait just one politically correct moment. Does this imply people who are not bald can’t be free? Sorry, but I doubt this will fly as a holiday. Not even with Hallmark.
Neither do I celebrate Reptile Awareness Day (October 21). Are we supposed to kiss a crocodile? Snuggle with snakes? Once, a new home’s owner discovered the former one had bequeathed him a pet python who popped out of heating ducts to say hello.
I lived a half mile away. That’s as close to reptile awareness as I want to get.
I also suggest we remove the bad-mood stigma from my favorite month.
True, our stressed society could benefit from International Moment of Frustration Scream Day, releasing pent-up feelings toward TV political coverage and souped-up leaf blowers. Following up with National Kick Butt Day might, paradoxically, prove a bottomless delight.
But October has gone overboard with Cranky Coworkers Day (the 27th). It has even been chosen as National Sarcastic Awareness Month. Gre-e-eat. We’re supposed to cheer every 16-year-old who rolls her eyes? Maybe crown Miss Supreme Sarcasm?
We also are expected to choose a Menopause Queen to celebrate World Menopause Day today, October 18. Riding a parade float, she and her royal court might throw plates at cowering crowds while a band plays “We’re Having a Heat Wave” and drill teams fan each other with flags.
October used to be a nice, simple month.
I’d hoped November would improve the holiday outlook. But, no. November begins with Plan Your Epitaph Day (November 2). I see that on the 19th, we are to celebrate Have a Bad Day Day.
How about we skip ’em all?
Instead, let’s celebrate Thanksgiving every day!
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite way to celebrate October?
“Why didn’t we do this years ago?” I savored my pasta Alfredo. My husband clasped my hand across the restaurant table.
We knew the answer.
Dining out now: priceless. Dining out as a family decades ago: panic.
Like many young parents, we cruised drive-throughs. The pizza delivery guy was our patron saint. Cabin fever drove us to kid-friendly establishments. Or maybe we wanted to watch our small children trash somebody else’s property.
Venturing out without Hubby, I wished I could sprout an extra arm. My children shot through restaurant parking lots like pinballs. After chasing them down and gathering survival gear, we headed inside.
If fast-food restaurants were in tune with young mothers, they’d provide parking lot pack mules to carry kids, diaper bags, baby seats, and the Strawberry Shortcake potty my discriminating two-year-old favored. Instead, the pack mule answered to the name “Mommy.”
Normal people ordered their favorite cholesterol. Me? I led my caravan to restrooms while others ate juicy burgers and hot, crusty fries.
My stomach growled. I hadn’t tasted anything warm since the ’70s — except melted ice cream.
Potty Party trumped Pity Party. I unbuttoned, unzipped, toilet-paper-ripped, then reequipped. I sang the Strawberry Shortcake song 19 times. I passed out compliments and balloons for jobs well done. Only two hours later, we emerged triumphant.
Finally approaching the counter, we received gold cardboard crowns. Baby ate his.
Can you say “free toy”? Sisterly relations disintegrated when the restaurant had only one Princess Penelope Piddle doll. Discontinued.
Grudgingly accepting Princess Penelope Piddle Sings Punk cassettes instead, my offspring talked me into a playground picnic.
Are fast-food restaurants really responsible for children’s obesity? Of 11,451 hamburgers ordered, only 5.37 made it inside my kids.
Also, with chasing them, why do parents gain weight?
Oh. I ate the 11,445.63 leftovers.
When our family attempted meals at restaurants where diners didn’t ride horsies, toddlers left their smiles at the door. Ours loved fast-food forks. In “nice” surroundings, we hid metal ones and handed him spoons. He sent them flying, yelling, “FORK! FORK!” for a solid hour.
He couldn’t pronounce Rs.
You figure it out.
The following week, we donned cardboard crowns.
No more. Now, Hubby and I dine out weekly. We remain seated throughout the hot meal and converse.
I don’t even hide my fork.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your should-have-stayed-home restaurant story?
Perhaps you, like Hubby and I, are a Baby Boomer. Tradition ruled, and many infants were named after parents and grandparents. Later, the plethora of Juniors and Roman numerals would confuse every computer on the planet.
One-syllable, biblical boys’ names often prevailed, e.g. John, Mark and James. Hubby, one of thousands of Stephens (also biblical), always met other Steves at school.
According to the Social Security Administration, the top 1950s names for baby girls included Mary, Linda, Deborah and Susan. My schools teemed with them. I met only two other Rachels, their names spelled differently from mine. Pastors’ daughters too. Sigh.
My mother, Betty, disliked associations with Betty Grable and other brazen hussies of her era. Her children’s names would be biblical and different.
We were different, all right. No respectable Boomer bore names like Nathanael, Rachael, Aaron and Jonathan.
Yet, Mom named our sister after a singer, Janis Paige. Why couldn’t I have been named after Debbie Reynolds? Instead, I received not only a little-old-lady name, but Mom handed me an additional “a,” as in “Rachael.”
The nurse “helping” her with my birth certificate frowned. “Not the correct spelling.”
“I want it spelled that way.”
Later, Mom told me I was “Rachael.” I spelled my name her way into adulthood.
When I applied for a passport, though, I discovered my birth certificate said “Rachel.” That “a” provoked hostility that rivaled the Cold War’s. Eventually, I plowed through bureaucracy to pay for the name Mom gave me.
Then Jennifer Aniston played a character named Rachel in Friends. During 1990, “Rachel” rated 15th in girls’ names.
When Rachael Ray hosted cooking shows, even computers stopped rejecting me as an alien.
Nowadays, in grocery stores when a stern mother commands, “Rachael, put that down,” I still cringe and return the squash I was planning to purchase to its shelf.
I miss my name’s uniqueness. Maybe I could smear it with individuality: ®àĉhæɬ.
Recalling the Great A Controversy, maybe not. Such a hassle over one silent letter.
Shakespeare, whose name has been spelled 80-some different ways throughout the centuries, would agree. “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
I bet the IRS didn’t like him, either.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: If you changed your name, what would it be?