Last Halloween Blog Of 2022

It’s a little sad. This will be the last Halloween Blog for 2022. It also saddens me that some of you still do not know how to decorate for the season. Below you will find some sample of the kind of decorations that should be displayed in October:

As you can see in this following picture, even Starbucks knows how to celebrate the season. This picture was taken on October 27th and there weren’t any patches of red or green, no Christmas holiday cups, and no Cranberry Bliss bars. I have discovered new respect for my overpriced coffee. I will go back sometime before Monday.

I will note that I did vote for my favorite decorated pumpkin. I won’t tell you which one I voted for. We will just have to wait and see.

Now for the real scary abomination that I saw this year. This picture was taken on September 22nd. Yes, you read that correctly. September 22nd. That was before the start of the 31 days of Halloween that most of us observe. I like to celebrate October by watching all of my favorite Halloween movies on television. Why else would I subscribe to Disney Plus except to see Hocus Pocus 2? Now the Hallmark Channel has started airing Christmas movies 24 hours a day. How rude!!!!!

I also noticed one other sad state of affairs when I went to at least 5 local stores looking for some Thanksgiving decorations. I did not want a pumpkin and I did not need any fake fall leaves to scatter around. I need turkeys! No, not the kind you cook in the oven. I have been looking for silly hats and other turkey accoutrement, because the skeletons want to dress up after Halloween and commemorate the fowl holiday. They always enjoy dressing up for all holidays, but this is the first year they have asked about Thanksgiving. Finally I found a few items on Amazon. DO NOT JUDGE ME! I shopped locally first, but could find very little in the way of the November feast day. Amazon was my last resort. Anyway, you have to admit these skeleton turkeys are awfully cute. Next week, I should have received the Turkey Hats and will let the skeletons model them for you.

Except for overeating, parades and football it seems as though Thanksgiving has less and less importance in our fall holiday schedule. What will all of the live turkeys do who want to receive a place of honor in the middle of the dining room table? How will we burn down houses if we don’t deep fry the turkeys? So many questions and so few answers.

Until next time.….……Happy Halloween!


October is here and I couldn’t be happier! Both I and several of my neighbors are in the midst of pulling out our Halloween decorations for all the world to see! Grim Reapers, hard of hearing Skeletons, Ghosts, Goblins, Witches and all variation of spooky creatures are popping up everywhere. Have you and your neighbors started with this annual tradition? Scary and spooky movies are beginning to pop up everywhere as well. The weather is beautiful. Why not go outside and try to scare somebody?

Of course, if you’re like me, you’ve had decorations up all year round. I just add a little bit more every year and tweak a few things. However, witches and skeletons remain my favorites. It is always fun to see how many ways I can include Halloween decorations in all aspects of my home decor. Then when September 1st comes around, I slowly begin to move things outside. Slowly at first. Nothing too showy. Until Now!!! Once October 1st shows up, then all bets are off.

Here are a few of my friends just sitting outside enjoying the beautiful (for Houston) Fall weather. As long as the days are sunny and the temperatures stay below 95 degrees, I decree that Autumn has arrived. Up until now these skeletal folk have remained pretty quiet. That’s all going to change this weekend. I have lights and I have sound effects and I intend to use them! It used to be that I never saw Halloween decorations in the stores until September. This year I found really cool stuff out early — which is fine as far as Halloween is concerned. For years people have chided me for decorating too early or too much. My dreams have come true. I am now the crazy old cat lady with just a few too many skeletons and I don’t care. Enjoy!

It gives me hope to see my neighbors enjoying this Holiday as much as I do. I personally always think about Halloween as that time when we can look at scary things and enjoy them. Maybe have a good laugh. Share the joy with friends. Some might say that there is so much to be scared about this year, that we have to have Halloween so our own ghosts and goblins can scare away the frightening events that we can’t control. Enjoy the season! My biggest regret this year is that I don’t subscribe to the Disney channel. I am working on ways to see the movie Hocus Pocus III might have to come up with a spell in order to get it on my television. Or will I break down and subscribe to the Disney Channel? What would you do?

Have lots of spooky fun! Halloween is here and I plan on enjoying every second of it!

Until next time.….

The End of a Royal Era

Back when I was about 12 years old, I became a feminist. Part of that process involved looking around at the world both local and global and noticing how many women were in positions of power. One of those women was Queen Elizabeth II. There were a few others, but she managed to out last all of the women and most of the men as well. This is a book I read about her back in the 1990s and I still use it for reference material today.

In 2018 I was visiting the Museum of Fine Arts here in Houston and came across this picture of Queen Elizabeth II and Governor Ann Richards. Both women were wonderful role models for feminists everywhere. Maybe it is a sign that I am getting older that I remember so much about the lives of these women, but it is knowledge that I am glad to have.

In the meantime, I believe it is now proper to say “God Save the King”, However, I will always remember Queen Elizabeth II.

Until next time.….

Preparations for Fall and Halloween

Just because Halloween isn’t here yet, that doesn’t mean we aren’t getting ready. And by that I mean not only humans. I was visited this past week by a group of skeletons fleeing the rising waters in other parts of the country. Also, they wanted a warm, dry spot where they could gather and catch up on their studies. Apparently now there is an invisible sign over my home that reads, “Ellen’s Skeleton Hostel and Tea House”. Of course, that sign may change if other creatures need to find respite to prepare for the upcoming holidays.

I am getting no end of inspiration from them for the haunted reading that I am preparing. On November 5th there will be a Haunted Holidays reading that is being sponsored by the Brazos Bookstore, the Houston Writers Guild and the Women in the Visual and Literary Arts. This year the reading event will take place inside the store. We are making plans for decorations and costumes. Having this event in November covers all holidays from Halloween, El Dia De Los Muertos, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years Eve and everything else in between. Several folks have joked that they wanted to include the election. This should be very interesting. I’ll provide more details as I have them.

Now, back to my skeleton visitors. As you can see they all gathered together for a long study session the other evening. They brushed up on spells, potions, magic brews and sorcery. There is a Book of Fright and a Book of Charms. All in all it’s a lot to cover, but they’ll have it all down by All Hallows Eve. Right now everyone is practicing and studying here in my home. Around the middle of September it will be time for them to move outside and practice their magic skills on the balcony and around the neighborhood.

Sometimes one of the older skeletons will work on a special project and have one of the younger crew assist him. That is what is going on here with the typewriter and extra books that are being closely studied. You may not have realized that in addition to magical skills, there are some skeletons that have impressive intellectual skills. They write the books for other creatures like themselves to learn from. Just like any science, there is always more to know. They have visited several black holes and are very impressed with the amount of knowledge humans are gathering on that topic. The skeletons can’t wait until you learn some more.

Of course after a long day of studying, writing, and practicing, all good skeletons deserve a little time to rest and refresh. Sometimes it’s nice just to sit back and chat with friends. They listen to music, but really don’t have much use for television. In their invisible state they can go to the movies and theater. Just the other day they went to the Symphony and heard their favorite piece, Danse Macabre.

At other times, the older skeletons will “belly up to the bar”, pardon me, I know they don’t actually have any bellies, but you get my drift. They can enjoy a refreshing beverage. How do they do that you might ask? They don’t drink as you and I do, but they love aromas. Chamomile relaxes them and coffee wakes them up. Any kind of alcohol makes them tipsy so they tend to avoid it.

Until next time.……

Pandemic Road: Trying To Hurry Up Fall

Every so often it’s nice to know that the world is trying to catch up with me. I have never seen Halloween decorations out in the stores as early as July. But yet, this year I have already made purchases at HomeGoods and Michael’s. How can I possibly find room for more decorations? It’s magic. That’s how I do it. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. At this point all decorations are inside my home. Sometime in September they will forge their way out into the neighborhood, but not yet. I am sure the neighbors already think I am strange enough as it is. But maybe in another decade, the outside decorations may stay up year-round. By then, my hair will be completely white and long. And as the poem states, “I will wear purple, With a red hat that doesn’t match.….” Yes, I have already started practicing for those days.

I am also trying very hard to imagine that fall weather is right around the corner. We are beginning to get some rain which drives the temperatures down from a gazillion to only 500 degrees. But unfortunately the rain increases the humidity. Actually this does make my hair frizz and helps me to look like that crazy old lady I am slowly turning into. Another sign of fall has just cropped up at Central Market. It’s Hatch Chile time. I personally have never eaten a Hatch Chile myself, but many of my friends and acquaintances have. You can buy them fresh roasted, in chocolate bars, in twice baked potatoes, cookies, chips, among other things. And for those of you who are too young to get the reference, Central Market is also giving a nod to Woodstock and the Magic Bus. (It was the “1960s”. Either Google or ask your parents and in some cases grandparents.….sigh).

Last but not least the little hobbit town has returned to the neighborhood. Not only has it returned, it looks new and improved! I am hoping that these little critters will come over and introduce themselves to my Halloween decorations once I start placing items outside my home. There are hobbits, gnomes, fairies and various small forest creatures. Since it is supposed to rain tonight, I hope everyone stays safe. I wonder if they climb inside the tree trunk when inclement weather sets in? That makes the most sense.

Until next time.….

Pandemic Road: On Planet Earth and Beyond

I don’t know about you, but I have been watching the news lately. There are a couple of stories I am following, but still too much of the serious stuff is not good for my mental health. So, this week I have taken the time to enjoy all of the great pictures that are coming from the Webb Telescope. More and more of them keep getting shared on the internet. I hope you have enjoyed them as well. Folks are having lots of fun with them on Facebook. This is one of my favorites. It really helps me put all of my earthly worries into perspective.

I also like this other picture. I have suggested to Fern Brady that there is a dragon in there. Think about how much fun science fiction writers can have with a dragon that flies around from one universe to another. Maybe this is the reincarnation of Puff the Magic Dragon of the song that was released by Peter, Paul and Mary in 1963. I’ll just bet Puff lives on a planet called Honah Lee. Excuse me if you are not old enough to get the reference. Check out the song on Google or YouTube. I promise you will be enchanted.

So much for my musings. I have finished my June Writing Workshop and am now busy catching up on all things literary. I just wrote a small piece for the virtual anthology that celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Archway Gallery. Additionally, Archway Readings, which have been held on zoom for so long, is finally returning to in-person live readings this month. I can’t wait. I am also working on The WiVLA (Women in the Visual and Literary Arts) Collaboration that will exhibit in December. I have paired up with two different visual artists for two different entries. I will share more about this collaboration when the time draws near.

Last, but not least, Haunted Holidays will happen on November 5th this year. It will be a joint effort between Brazos Bookstore, WiVLA and the Houston Writers Guild. Last year the event was conducted on zoom. We are hoping that we will all meet in-person at the Brazos Bookstore! Again, more details to come as the date draws nearer.

Yikes, I’m busy!

Until next time.….

Pandemic Road: It’s Getting Crowded

Happy July 4th weekend. From reviewing social media and listening to the news, I’ve discovered that a lot of people are traveling right now. The destinations are many and varied. People are going to Europe — all over Europe, Canada, and a lot of northern states. I received an email from one friend in one of the Dakotas bragging that she went for an eight mile walk and never broke a sweat. I’ve seen pictures of cathedrals and one friend is even staying in an honest to god castle. Interestingly, I have not heard from any one who is traveling to the Southern United States. I guess it’s too hot and tropical weather is beginning to kick up.

Since I am not traveling, I don’t have any travel pictures to use in this blog post. But, don’t worry! Whenever I need a picture, there is always my cat, Hannah. While I am not traveling like so many others, I am getting laundry done. Hannah loves laundry day, especially when I wash and dry a load of towels. During the last couple of years doing things like laundry over a holiday weekend wouldn’t have been so noteworthy. During the pandemic, travel was much more complicated and restricted. Staying in hotels and all the variations of B&B’s had their own unique dangers. I’ve stayed in a hotel once during the past 2 to 3 years and I kept wiping everything down with Clorox wipes. I am pleased to report that I survived the ordeal quite healthy!

Now that July is here, I have completed the June Writing Intensive that I attended literally all month long. Many thanks to Max Regan for holding this retreat every year. I was pleased with the writing I accomplished and my story arc seems solid (at least at this moment in time). Now the trick is to keep up the momentum of my writing until next June. In addition to attending many zoom sessions and spending lots of time writing my current story, I listened to the news. My head is still reeling from everything I heard. I don’t care what your political affiliation is, this has been a wild time to be alive and alert. In the current stories I am writing, the main character is a Grim Reaper. One morning before a zoom class I walked into my office to find my friend sitting on my desk. She was expressing her displeasure with what she had heard recently. Why yes, my characters keep up with current events and express themselves as appropriate. One of the great parts about being a writer is that I can always conjure up a cast of characters to demonstrate my ideas and opinions of society. In case you’ve never seen the Grim Reaper, this is her picture.

Okay, to end on a happier note for a holiday weekend, I did get to go to see the Houston Ballet. My date and I wore masks, because we were inside at a crowded event. I am always delighted that the Houston Ballet gets the crowd it so well deserves, but I am very disappointed at the number of audience members who go without face masks. I understand that this pandemic is slowly getting better, but I still prefer to take safety precautions. Don’t take it personally if I try to avoid you if you walk around with a naked face. But the Ballet was wonderful. I have come to expect nothing less from a company with so many talented people.

Until next time.….

Pandemic Road: Halfway Through June Intensives

Writing Desk with computers and lots of paperJune. The beginning of summer. Also as you can tell from both Fern Brady’s blog as well as my blog, we have been attending Max Regan’s June Writing Intensives. There are two of them that we can attend via zoom. In the good old days before the pandemic and rising gas prices, we could travel to Boulder, Colorado. Oh well. Now I have my writing desk. Doesn’t it look neat and tidy? I had to clean it up to take this picture. The papers are usually much more scattered and the computer is used for both writing and research. The other day I needed a name for a character who is 85 years old. I came up with some of my own ideas, but then I literally Googled something like names for old guys. I had quite the list to choose from before I settled on the name Vincent.

Hannah the cat sitting on a pile of blanketsIs your summer as exciting as mine? It’s too hot to go outside. So, I stay inside and try to exercise with video and virtual classes. One time I decided to take a break and watch some television. This is the look I got from my cat, Hannah. She considers herself to be both my supervisor and co-author. . Considering this side eye I am getting, I decided to get up off the couch turn off the television and get back to work. Of course Hannah does take long naps in the afternoon. She is 17 years old and needs her rest. That’s when I sneak out to go to the store for more provisions and a little bit of sunshine. But only a little bit of sunshine because like so much of the nation, temperatures are just way too HOT!

Plastic Halloween Pumpkin in StairwellHowever during one of my brief journeys outside my home, I ran across this pumpkin in a stairwell of all places. I was delighted to see it. Halloween is coming! So, is the spirit of Halloween following me? I hope so and would not be in the least surprised. Just in case I feel like I am having a heat stroke or something, I can remember that my favorite holiday is only a few months away. I did not take this pumpkin, but left him right where I found him. I already have quite a lot of decorations just waiting for the chance to jump into place around my home. Also, I hope Mr. Pumpkin inspires others to remember that there will be an end to summer and fall will be here before we know it!

Now I must get back to writing. The second intensive begins this evening and I have much to do.

Until next time.….….

Happy Birthday! RoadBroads Is Four Years Old!

Has it really been 4 whole years? My how time flies. The RoadBroads Blog is actually 4 years old. Wow! No wonder I am feeling older all the time.

This project started out as a writing diversion for a couple of writers who were headed for Boulder, Colorado. That’s where Max Reagan lives and that’s where he used to always hold his June Writing Intensives in person. In 2018 a group of Houston writers made the trip out west. This was my first time to stay in an Air B&B. We would enjoy group meetings in the Boulder Bookstore. Post COVID I understand that this establishment is still going strong. Just like I have attempted to support local bookstores here in Houston during times of lockdown, the people of Colorado have supported their bookstore as well. I can’t wait until the day when I can see it in person again.

In 2018 when it came time to have one-on-one meetings with Max, we always met at the Dushanbe Tea House. Whether we sat inside or outside, this was the most relaxing place full of wonderful teas and good food. Of course in Boulder, unlike Houston, it was very comfortable to sit outside and have a meeting during the middle of the day. Good times. Last I heard, this restaurant is also still open like the bookstore.

It seemed like that wherever I was in Boulder, I could always look up and see the flatirons. I saw other mountains as well, but I had no idea what their names were.

Strolling on the Pearl Street Mall was always an interesting excursion. On the weekends there would be street performers that always drew a crowd. Back in 2018 there was no need for social distancing or masks. I understand that Pearl Street is coming back. I hope it continues. Again in Boulder, unlike Houston, one can walk around during the day without risking heat exhaustion.

We enjoyed writing for this blog so much that we continued with it after returning back to Houston. In 2020 writing a blog about road trips became quite tricky during lockdown. That’s when I started writing about the Pandemic Road.

Four years ago, I was so proud of myself for learning how to write and produce a blog. Now I have also added zooming to my technical repertoire. That is how I am attending this year’s June Writing Intensives. The first one begins this Friday. I’ll catch up with you in two weeks to let you know how it is going.

Happy Birthday to RoadBroads!
Also many thanks to everyone who has worked with this endeavor and helped to make it a success!

Until next time.…..

Pandemic Road: A Place To Park Art

Inside Pavilion at Smither ParkLast Saturday I spent a good bit of time outside, which was surprising since the weather has turned quite warm. However, I met up with some of my WiVLA (Women in the Visual and Literary Arts) sisters in the pavilion located at Smither Park on Munger Street. This park is an ongoing living, breathing and growing art installation. WiVLA has been working on a design for a small part of the wall. We hope to design in the summer and actually create it in the fall (hopefully with cooler temperatures). All materials used in the creation of artistic pieces in this Park are made with recycled and found materials.

Below are some samples of different sections of the Art Wall:

Art Wall at Smither Park

Art in Smither ParkThere are also 3‑D and life sized pieces of art to enjoy. Rumor has it if you sit down at this table, the nice couple will actually talk to you while you enjoy a refreshing beverage. While we were there enjoying the scenery, a couple of artists were working on some on-going projects. I can’t wait to see what WiVLA comes up with for their section of the wall. In the warehouse next to Smither Park, I think I saw some folks working on an Art Car for next year’s Art Car Parade. So much color and so much creativity.

I even managed to get a selfie of sorts while I studied my reflection in a large mirror. This is located in a second pavilion where music plays and if you stand in the right spot you can hear echos. How do I look? I feel quite Picassoesque. If you look closely you can actually see my feet and maybe a hand. My face is there somewhere. See if you can find it.

Right next to Smither Park is the Houston art institution known as the Orange show. It was actually began by a local mail carrier in a lot near his home. As the name implies, oranges were his favorite fruit so expect to see a lot of the color orange while you visit there. Again, there are many pieces of art that utilize recycled and found pieces.

Art from the Orange Show

Between both of these art installations, there’s plenty of shade, so it is easy to visit even during the summer. Just take some water and plan on spending a few hours strolling the grounds on Munger Street.

The same Art Patrons that keep these two locations open and growing also manage the historic Beer Can House. But that is located in another part of Houston and will be the topic for a future blog.

Thanks to Margo Toombs and WiVLA for coordinating this Saturday morning in the park!

Until next time.……