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This is the scariest week of the year. Of course, many of us say that every year, especially those of us who jump into Halloween festivities with a fever. I have always loved Halloween - probably got started with the candy thing. We didn’t have access to candy then the way I think many kids do now. Candy was doled out on special occasions or we saved our little quarter-a-week allowance to indulge ourselves. I remember how big a pillow case of candy seemed, even before the days of king size pillows.
I do know that it was always the costume-making and masquerading that was the big draw for me. I can remember a long line of great costumes, each year learning something more about what makes the perfect outfit. Besides being silly, sexy, literal, conceptual, colorful, creepy, and highly original, the costume receiving high marks from me has a lot to do with how functional it is, as in you should be able to walk. I learned that when I was about eleven, when I tried walking around the block trick-or-treating wrapped up like a mummy – forced to take miniscule steps, barely able to lift my legs up stairs, generally being so slow and awkward that I was left behind by my older sister and her friends, who, let’s face it, were happy to ditch me.
Then once I was older and going to parties and bars, there was the matter of dance-able costumes as in you must be able-to-dance… not too hot, not with extremity add-ons that can trip you or hurt other people on the dancefloor, not masks that you can’t breathe or see, or an ensemble that has to be pulled apart and tossed aside within the first half hour. One of my favorite works-of-costume was transforming my mother’s wedding dress into a mermaid outfit years ago – green shiny sequined material for the long fish-tail sewn onto the lacy white bodice of Mom’s dress. I controlled the tail with a string attached to it from my wrist. It was all-in-all a very comfortable fun costume - the only trouble was when I got too far into character and jumped into the kiddies apple-bobbing basin like a mermaid-outa-water who had just returned to the sea. The big galvanized bobbing tub fit me nicely – but sent all the kids running to the parents crying, ”Mom, Kay just sat in the apple-bobbing water. YUCK! We can’t bob for those apples now!” I tell ya – some people’s kids…
So I carry on each year, searching for great costume ideas, always happy when something works out real well. This year, having just returned from several weeks away in the US, England and Spain, all I could do was throw a bunch of sarongs and pearls into a bag along with a great pair of shoes that I had bought at an amity years ago for a costume but never worn. I arrived on Friday at my friend Carolyn’s and said, “Please make me into a costume”. These thrown-together things often work out just swell – and so it was that I became some sort of Haitian voodoo queen with cleavage…and great shoes.
But first, being the scariest week and all, there was a freaky story to be told when I arrived at Carolyn and Chuck’s house near Westport. They have the cutest little dog, Ziggy (or Zigmeister, Ziggidy-dooda, the Zigster…). He is a beauty, a mid-sized dog of African descent – a Basenji – that Chuck brought home about a year and a half ago. All the extended family and friends have fallen in love with him. Reading about the breed, I found that Basenji’s are hunters with cat-characteristics and ”silent voices”….it is true, Ziggy doesn’t bark all that much, always a loveable trait especially in small dogs.
About three weeks ago, Carolyn had gone walking with Zig, leaving their home, across Faerie’s Hill (where the magic people dwell), through the backfields, her eye to the colored foliage along the windrows. They heard coyotes as they went along, Zig’s ears perking up with each sound. Being a natural hunter, he doesn’t particularly shy away from things, but up until this point it has only been a case of keeping him inside at night so he doesn’t mess with the skunks. At one point Carolyn saw three coyotes a good distance away, walking along a path that follows the edge of the field. Zig took notice and went running to them – so fast that Carolyn couldn’t stop him - and the coyotes advanced towards him. Next thing, one of the coyotes had picked the Zigitito up and tried to run, little black and white body in his mouth.
As Carolyn told it, this all happened in a few loud heartbeats. She went running, arms flapping, screaming toward the canine chaos. The other two coyotes ran away but the one with Zig tried to keep him. Zig isn’t that small and no doubt fought back. The coyote finally had to drop him as Carolyn arrived.
Ziggy was gashed up pretty good but had survived – nipped Carolyn as she tried to pick him up so we figure he had got a few good ones in on the coyote as well. Carolyn carried him back over the fields and took him to the vet for a buncha stitches. When Chuck came home a few hours later, as he put it, Carolyn was more freaked out than Zig – who was basically just stoned on pain killers and (maybe) just happy to be alive.
I’m happy to report that Zig is now, three weeks on, feeling back to himself and the hair on his shaven wound areas is growing back. Everyone I talked to in town was talking about poor little Zig (and poor big Carolyn) and we are all glad that he survived and wasn’t taken into coyote slavery – or worse. There is a sad story out in eastern Ontario this week – very scary for the owners of the missing wallaby known as Wendell – who got loose last week and has been spotted far from home (but, come to think of it, getting closer to Chuck & Carolyn’s home). I hope that he is caught and returned home, because this wallaby won’t survive the winter, that alone dogs, cars, coyotes, etc. So if you see a fleeing wallaby, you know what to do (throw a pillow over his head and call…)
Saturday afternoon I spent a couple of nice hours at Stillwater Books in Westport – hanging with my friend Steve Scanlon and signing books. We had a few visitors – and sold a nice number of books. It was great to see some folks I haven’t seen in awhile and don’t get to see often, and trade Wolf stories with some other folks who have been to Monteverde and met him. Steve and I are going to think up a different approach next summer – maybe an outdoor table, some music and food??
On Saturday night was the spook-tacula-fiesta. This was the fourth annual at Chuck and Carolyn’s off-the-grid music hall out there on Faerie’s Hill (where the spooky people lurk) and keeps growing. This year was the best hardcore group of dancers you could wish for. At most points in the night there were more people on the dance floor than around the edges. My kinda crowd.I used my sarongs and pearls and Carolyn not only put a great face on me (she knows how to make great lips) but tied her and my hair up around yogurt containers to great effect. I think I’ll try it with coconut shells some night I’m going out and see if anyone notices. I was colorful (check), comfortable (check), sexy in a creepy voodoo kinda way (check), and had the best dancing shoes on that kept my feet moving all night (check check). We danced our dead souls alive – but also wandered out into the frosty forest and looked at the dozens of carved pumpkins that were waiting out there. A store in Westport (the Life is Good people) had organized a hundred or more pumpkins to be lit along the town dock and once Halloween was over, encouraged people to take them. Carolyn and Chuck were able to bring a bunch to light along their long drive, their flickering orange faces welcoming the folks, and then scattered through the woods of Faerie’s Hill (where the pumpkin people grow).
I really appreciate when people put a little thought into the costumes and this was no exception - we had tall shiny people, finely dressed damsels, a lovely whirling dervish and a whole bunch of men in various costumes but with very similar hats.
The best costume though was the simplest – by putting on just the right duds – bicycle helmet, rayon summer shirt and shorts – and gluesticking a little ball of white cotton fluff on his chin, a friend of Chuck’s came dressed – as Chuck. We all knew who Brin was immediately – if Chuck hadn’t been so made up as Beetlejuice, we wouldn’t have known the difference between them.
Now the scariest part of the week. It is the eve of the Great American Election. I can’t even imagine how most people I know would feel if Obama isn’t elected. I refuse to dwell on it, but the thought crosses my mind. And the safety of this courageous man and his young family also crosses my mind, as I know it does most people I know.
Keep him safe. Let things be as they should. Give the world some good news so that we can at least for awhile believe that positive change is possible in the too often over-whelmingly long tunnel of negativity in this world.