How much pumpkin pie can one person eat? I think I tried to set a record this year. Now my son would tell you that it's not the pumpkin pie I overdosed on. That would actually be the whipped cream. Do you like a little whipped cream with your pumpkin pie? I confess I like a little pumpkin pie with my whipped cream. Is there really any other way?
Much of this over indulgence of all things pumpkin happened while visiting my mom. But in between the feasting I also spent time with a childhood friend. My old piano. It needed tuning decades ago so C sharp still sounds a half step off. But something about that familiar out of tune key was as comforting as everything else in this house.
I remember how my little terrier would curl up on the pedals by my feet. Certain notes bothered his ears which meant it was time for a sing-a-long. Skipper's low sad howl became a regular part of Ignace Leybach's Fifth Nocturne just like the tick tock of the metronome that kept the beat while I played. It's been years since I tried to play this piece.

This sweet simple brown upright my parents acquired when I was 5 prompted the beginning of 14 years of piano lessons and recitals in poofy dresses and big bows for yours truly. The story is that my mom wanted the piano for me but my dad knew that secretly she wanted it for herself too. Over the years we spent thousands of hours playing it.
My mom saves everything. Some of my sheet music still lives in the piano bench with the noisy hinge, too old and worn to hold up the heavy wooden lid. A little fact I often forgot until it crashes down on my hand.
My mom still likes to listen to me play. She smiles through all my missed notes and sad attempts at sight reading just like she did all those years I sat in this same corner protesting. Even my son was listening too. Surprised and amused that his mom actually knows how to read music. I think it's like forgetting someone you've know all your life speaks another language.
I wish I had room at my house for a piano. I always thought someday I might but my old piano belongs here at my mom's house. With all my memories, out of tune keys and all.
It wouldn't sound right in any other place.
I hope you had a lovely weekend.

late fall, kitty eyes and gratitude

Fall arrives very late in northern California, especially here in the Central Valley. I always envy friends that post gorgeous fall colors in September and October since it's not unusual for us to have the ac running while we're carving pumpkins. But I can't complain because this past Halloween was perfectly magical.
By November it finally looks and feels like a real autumn. The Japanese maple in my backyard is bursting with miniature orange and crimson leaves.
There is a carpet of deep violet foliage under LaLou's plum tree, blanketing her favorite spot.
I still miss her dearly and it's nearly a year now since I said goodbye to that sweet little cat. I sat in her spot for a minute and wondered what the world looked like under her tree.
How did all the trees look through her pretty kitty eyes?
Did she like padding up the leaf covered walkway that led to my backdoor? Did she know how she made my heart smile when I saw her through my kitchen window?
I really miss my beautiful green eyed fur baby.
Maybe it's because my Luna has a little cold right now and I hate it when pets are sick no matter how insignificant it is. But she is doing better and I think she's ready for the cooking and feasting that's about to come.
I'm looking forward to seeing my small family tomorrow, mom, my brother, his wife and their two little dogs. I started on a few things and the rest we will do together tomorrow.
Whatever delights you will be enjoying this last harvest holiday I hope you're having them in a warm, cozy home and in the company of family and friends. I am truly grateful for mine.
Happy Thanksgiving

a quiet escape

 I really love the soft quiet of November. After all the excitement of October and Halloween I like to escape for a little bit. This is the time it finally starts to look like autumn here and even if the stores are already in full Christmas mode I stay away from it until it's actually December.
I get into a very cottage mood after I put away all my ghosts and ghouls. I imagine just escaping to a cottage in the woods, brewing up soups and potions and catching up on all of my favorite witchy reads.
I would love to magically make my house look like this adorable cottage.
And I absolutely love this amazing digi by FictionChick from Deviant Art.
How could I forget this one?
Edward and Bella's cottage featured in the upcoming Breaking Dawn 2.
A few years ago we went camping in Big Sur, off the Pacific coast and we stopped by Deetjen's Big Sur Inn. November is my favorite time to go camping in the woods.
Deetjen's is a cluster of rustic inns tucked away among giant California redwoods. The decor is simple, cozy and reflects the inn's Norwegian heritage. You can easily imagine stumbling across an enchanting witch's cottage in the Black Forest.
For me it's the ultimate cottage in the woods. We went in November and they still had all their fall decorations out with just the right touch of kitties and pointy hats that made it feel like a fairy tale. It's one of my favorite places in the world.
Now if I can't get to a cottage in the woods my next best escape would be a sweet little vintage camper. Any of these would make a perfect gypsy wagon.
I can imagine enjoying a quite cup of hot chocolate here, just listening to the waves and waiting to see the moon come up.
What do you do in November? Do you jump right into Christmas or let autumn linger a little while longer? Are you busy planning a big Thanksgiving get together?
Have a lovely week whatever it is you're doing and for everyone here in the US, get out there and don't forget to exercise your right to vote.

still feeling spooky

Well there goes another Halloween. I hope yours was safe and fun and for those of you out on the east coast dealing with the hurricane I hope you are safe and well. We enjoyed our spooky pumpkin day and feel blessed to have great weather. It was perfect in fact, just the right amount of clouds all day with the rain staying away until the end of the night to scare off the last of the trick-or-treaters.
My son and I had a blast making last minute decorations all week. I bought a couple of sheets of black poster board and we kept adding more stuff to our front window. He came up with the grim reaper for the top of the window.
I made more spooky fence silhouettes to give our graveyard a backdrop and we put one of our last minute ghouls on a lamp behind the fence. My son thought of doing the hands coming through the shutters.
The black tube behind the tombstones is part of my son's fog machine contraption. It's attached to a cooler filled with ice which chills the fog juice and lets it creep along the ground. The front of our house is pretty bare right now other than a large tree near the sidewalk. But while I was driving around yesterday I saw a pile of tree clippings waiting to be picked up for recycling. I thought they could work with our decor so I loaded them into my jeep and they were perfect for our haunted cottage and graveyard.
The crowds were a little smaller than usual. I think the coming rain kept a lot of them indoors so we have lots of extra candy this year. But it's always fun seeing all the kids costumes and watching them and their parents enjoying our decorations. I went darker and more sinister this year and I have to say I loved it. Some of the little kids were actually afraid to walk up to the front door! I always love dark and eerie but I'm also learning to embrace ghoulish and creepy. Maybe having a teen does that. I don't like guts and gore though, I just don't have the stomach for it yet but who knows.
Today is Dia de los Muerstos, the Day of the Dead. If you celebrate this beautiful tradition I hope you're enjoying it with your friends and loved ones
Image source: Cultural Intrigue
I'm never ready to take Halloween down and if my son had his way it would be up all year. This morning he was already plotting next year's theme. He said something about using the garage. That's my boy!
This October was lots of fun and just more hectic than I anticipated. I finally got caught up on emails and thank yous and the last of my packages are finally on their way. Thank you to all of you for helping to make this a magical season for me again. It means more to me than you know.
Happy November and enjoy the rest of Fall.