Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Hippie Halloween - Cool Costumes But No Sugar!

One of the best times of year growing up in my family was Halloween. Cool costumes...happy cider...banjo playing by big bonfires.

But wait. No candy!

You see, my parents didn’t allow us to eat sugar back then.It was a time filled with mixed emotions for me. An exciting jumble of anticipation and superhero dreams. But at the core, times like Halloween also presented complex challenges more scary than the ghosts and goblins of the Day.

On these monumental days of tradition and consumerism, I became increasingly aware that my life was very much different from that of many of my friends.

Occasions like Halloween offered stark contrasts between the way my parents did things with the way some of our neighbors and classmate’s families did them. Don't get me wrong: being different wasn’t the challenge. The challenge was with the little things, like not getting to eat sugar on Halloween, or with costume malfunctions.
My mom was an expert at helping us design funky handmade costumes. They were cool and all, but I must admit I was always a little envious of the other kids who got to wear store-bought masks that looked more real. Take my Spiderman outfit when I was 10. It was a rustic patchwork that included loosely fitting dark blue tights featuring unevenly finger-painted stripes. I wore a black cotton ski mask and a red sweatshirt with embroidered spider-like shapes stitched across the chest. Looking back it worked out ok, but back then I used to imagine having a costume that really looked like the comic book hero. I would dream about the store-bought plastic costumes my friends got to wear.But the costumes were hardly the main thing me and my brothers were envious about. While lots of the other kids from our school were filling up bags with juicy candy, my parents had a different trick-or-treating route planned for us -- one a little more natural to say the least. The houses on my parents' route gave us fresh apples, hot cider, and bags of dried fruit. Instead of chocolate bars, we got carob bars and popcorn sprinkled with honey. Apparently, none of the homes on our journey used sugar in anything!

Let's be real. Even hippy kids want to trick or treat for a little sugar on Halloween.

But all in all, besides the funky costumes and sugarless treats, Halloween was full of good times. And I didn't realize it then, but it was many of those little differences at the time that have made me stronger and healthier today.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Hippie Kid Names...

Maybe it's the water in Iowa, I dunno. But many of my friends from childhood also have interesting and different names. Perhaps that's one reason why I never considered the name Unity as being out of the ordinary.

Here are some names of friends and family to give you an idea of what I mean:

Silas Starr
PatrickSpirit (bro)
Cayenne (bro)
Gardenia (sis)
Vadra (sis)

It should be an interesting study to see what all of these people name their own children one day...I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Mom, Who Are The Bald Men In Orange Robes Chanting In Our Living Room?

All sorts of interesting people used to visit our farm when I was growing up.

I will never forget the morning I awoke to a strange noise humming from our living room which was located just under my room in our old creaky house. The sound was slow and steady and ebbed and flowed in a continuous but warm pattern. Even though the noise was barely audible, it managed to seep through the floor boards to surround me upstairs. I wasn't quite sure what the noise was and had never heard such an amazing sound before.

The sun hadn't risen yet, but the sky was on the cusp of turning light. I peaked out my window and saw orange streaks burst through the darkness. It was much too early for me to wake up and it was cold outside of my covers. But I had to see what could be making such sound from below. I pulled myself out of bed and tip-toed down the stairs.

The humming noise grew more powerful as I walked toward the living room. I peaked around the corner to see what was about. What I saw were a group of six friendly looking bald men dressed in beautiful orange robes sitting in a circle with their legs crossed and eyes closed. No one seemed to notice me at all and I tried not to let the floor creak beneath my feet. I just sat and listened from afar with one eye peering around the doorway. I must have stood there and watched the men chant for twenty minutes before seeing anyone of them make a movement. They all sat totally still, amidst fumes of incense sparkling on our woodstove.

The sun came up and the men in robes started to move. Before they noticed me, I skedaddled up the stairs and jumped right back into bed wondering what the heck was going on down in my living room so early in the morning. The ominous sound seemed to keep me warm though, and I fell right back to sleep no problem at all. Later that day I asked my mom what was going on. She simply explained that we had some friendly monks visiting us from Asia and that they were praying for world peace. Ok I said...

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Mom and Pop, Grant Wood Style

I love this image for many reasons. It tells so many stories. Mom, probably just in from her garden, wields a pitchfork with grace and style. The late afternoon sun glows red off Pop's ZZ Top beard. And one of my parent's friends contemplates life off in the distance. Everyone seems happy and content, relaxed and at ease on the farm...
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