What’s top of my mind: Hallowe’en of course! Everything this week relates to All Hallow’s Eve. Although it is late in the month to do so, I plan to put up decorations in and outdoors. It will be a lot of work but I think it worthwhile.

What do you do (if anything) for Hallowe’en?

Where I’ve been: Michigan. The trip east to see the sights and the relations was a pleasant one. I saw fall color, in sunshine and in a gray rain. We had cider and doughnuts; we carved pumpkins. We played “The Haunted Mansion” board game.Princess-Goddess is a sharp cookie and she knows how to plan moves. Good for her! Father was pleased to have his family. Brother #3 is proposing a week in January for skiing; I suspect that is when I next return to MI to house/dad/pets/chicken-sit.

Where I’m going: Palm Springs. After Sunday when all the ghosts and ghoulies are put away, I can turn my thoughts to the upcoming week-long holiday in California in November. This is the first proper vacation since 2019. I am sure to write about this, for I have mixed feelings to go. Tune in next week.

What I’m watching: YouTube vintage Hallowe’en tunes. There are a lot of songs about ghosts and scary things. It is fascinating to hear them ‘by the decade’, for the style and contents change. Here is “Spooks” performed by Louis Armstrong, set to a Mickey Mouse cartoon.

What I’m reading: ‘Old Black Witch” This is picture book (circa. mid-60s) is from my youth. It is a story about a boy who moves with his mother into a so-called empty New England house. Unfortunately, the house already has a lodger: The Old Black Witch. The boy’s mother wants tidy up the place and open a tea-room. OBW becomes part of the business, her specialty being blueberry pancakes (the book includes the recipe and proper spell to say when making the batter). “Don’t worry dearie” she says to the worried customers “I made them myself”. It is a whimsical read, just right for Hallowe’en.

What I’m listening to: “The Isle of the dead” by Rachmaninov. This isn’t Hallowe’en music per se but it is a haunting piece apropos for the season.

What I’m eating: Not much. After a weekend of eating no-nos (buns and things) I am trying to ‘keep it sweet’ this week. There hasn’t been time to go to Uncle Albertsons, and the next Blue Apron box isn’t due until Thursday. This week we are ordering out a lot. At least this allows me to watch what is being ordered.

Who needs a good slap: The Hartford Company. An aspect of my job I still can’t stand is filling out infernal insurance forms for patients who are off work due to illness. The companies always question this. I believe they purposely find fault with the paperwork to stall payment long enough so the at-home patient becomes frustrated and returns to work rather the pursuing coverage. The Hartford is especially difficult. I figuratively become ‘a dear in the headlights” when I see The Hartford elk logo on the form in front of me. Oh the pain. There is always several back and forth attempts with the insurance company blaming me so the patient’s ire is directed at me and not the insurance company. I have to hand it to them. This stall tactic usually works: patients become despondent and return to work given their desperate need for money.

I give The Hartford Company and their ilk four slaps (on a 1-5 scale)

What I’m planning: A dinner. Every year on Hallowe’en I make a full course dinner, with dishes apropos for the holiday. This is my equivalent for Thanksgiving. Here’s what’s on the menu:

Black martinis

Pumpkin dip with chips

Pumpkin gruyere soup

Stuffed peppers served in a pool of blood (tomato sauce)

Spooky slaw

Hard Cider

For small chocolate cone: Skull cakes.

Do you prepare anything special for Halloween?

What’s making me smile: My daily Facebook profile picture. Every day this month I have changed my portrait photo using icons of Hallowe’en. It’s been fun to see which ones get the most ‘likes”. The winner so far is “Dr. Frank-N-Furter from “The Rocky Horror Picture show “. I suppose he wins due to bias of the judges, who are mostly over 50 and have all attended countless showings of the movie, and a few friends known to have dressed accordingly.

Well ! How bout that!