Category Archives: October glory

Improve Your BOO I.Q.

Creepy cupcakes will make your teeth a delightful orange. (All photos by Marylin Warner)

Creepy cupcakes will make your teeth a delightful orange. (All photos by Marylin Warner)



Cafes like Bon Ton's in Colorado Springs get in full swing for Halloween.

Cafes like Bon Ton’s in Colorado Springs get in full swing for Halloween.

The staff at my mom's assisted living facility go all out with decorating pumpkins.

The staff at my mom’s assisted living facility go all out with decorating pumpkins.









The good news is you still have a week to get into the Halloween spirit. The even better news is this post will help you become prepared in case you’re ever a contestant on television JEOPARDY or playing Trivial Pursuit with friends!

Beyond the usual costume choices and vandalism facts of Halloween, here are five lesser-known Halloween details: First, if you’re looking for love, be prepared on October 31st. According to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, games like bobbing for apples and sharing special sweets and chocolate candies can predict future romances and compatibility.

Second: Halloween is the 6th most popular American card-giving holiday, with an estimated 20 million cards sent each year. Christmas is the 1st with 1.5 billion cards. Take a guess what the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th are. Here’s a hint: successful bobbing for applies and sharing special sweets could led to most of them.

Third: In 1950 in Philadelphia, trick’o’treaters traded a sweet tooth for a sweet action.  Instead of going from door-to-door for candy, they collected spare change to make a change in the lives of mothers and children in developing countries. UNICEF was created in the United Nations, and after Philadelphia it soon spread across the country via schools, youth groups and churches.

Fourth: According to statistics from the Dept. of Agriculture, the number of pumpkins bought for baking cookies, pies and puddings for Thanksgiving comes in behind the number of pumpkins bought to carve for Halloween. Spooky wins over tasty.

And fifth: Got leftovers after Halloween night? Dark and milk chocolate can last up to two years if stored in a dry, odor-free place, and unopened packages of candy corn can last at least nine months. Careful planning can keep you Halloween happy for quite awhile.

My parents used to Ooo and Aaah over the neighbor children who showed up in costume on Halloween night. Mom always bought bags of Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers, and Almond Mounds. During their last Halloween at home they gave out candy to early Trick’o’Treaters, the very young pirates, princesses and little ghosts. Then they ran out of candy, so they turned off the porch light and went to bed. Many months later when I cleaned out their house, there were many bags of candy bars stored in the cabinet with the laundry supplies. They looked like they were still edible, so the 5th detail must be right.

You don't have to wear a costume or paint your face at Halloween ~ dress up your feet!

You don’t have to wear a costume or paint your face at Halloween ~ dress up your feet!

These will always be my favorite Halloween costumes!

These will always be my favorite Halloween costumes!


Filed under art projects, autumn lessons, Dementia/Alzheimer's, memories for great-grandchildren, neighbors, October glory


(All pictures taken by Marylin Warner in Abilene, KS, and at Rolling Hills Zoo)

(All pictures taken by Marylin Warner in Abilene, KS, and at Rolling Hills Zoo)




The question applies to all birds, and today is WORLD EGG DAY. I suppose we could add human females to the list, based on the reproductive system, but we won’t, okay?  After all, we’re including a cooking recipe here…

Before dementia. my mom was an outstanding cook. On short notice—as long as she had eggs and basic ingredients in the refrigerator—she could whip up a tasty dish to fill a lot of hungry tummies. Here’s my favorite egg recipe she taught me:

egg recipe ingredients



This is a delicious breakfast dish, perfect for special get-togethers on hungry evenings and chilly mornings. If your cholesterol numbers are running low, Eggs A’La Goldenrod will help change that!

You will need:

6 hard boiled eggs if you’re cooking for 3 people; otherwise, hard boil 2 eggs for each person ~plus extras if they’re really hungry ~   1 T. butter and 1 heaping T. flour for every two eggs ~  1/8 t. prepared mustard for every two eggs, or more if you like a lot of mustard   ~ 2/3 c. whole milk for every two eggs (or Almond milk or lowfat milk if you’re health conscious, but what’s the point with all these other ingredients?) ~ and 2 slices of toast or  2 split biscuits for each person participating in this feast.

Salt and pepper to taste while cooking; sprinkle paprika or dill weed on top of the final product.   Mom always added a healthy pinch of garlic salt or garlic powder, too, but she added garlic or chopped onions to everything, so either is optional if you’re not crazy about garlic or onions, or planning to fix this meal for a first date or something.

Here’s what you do:

Over medium heat, melt butter in a decent-sized pan.  Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour.   (Note: always have wooden spoons on hand.)  Stir in the milk, adding it a little bit at a time.  Keep stirring.  Don’t let it stick or lump up. Add the chopped hard-boiled eggs and mustard.   Stir gently so you don’t mash the eggs like potatoes.

Add salt and pepper.  Add more milk, or more butter and flour, if mixture gets too thick or too thin.  Stir some more. (This is one of the extra benefits of Eggs A’la Goldenrod; you’ll have strong arms. To keep your arm muscles looking balanced, switch hands while stirring.) When everything is hot and yummy, ladle it over the toast or split biscuits. Sprinkle with paprika or dill weed and serve.

Very important reminder:

Before eating, have everyone at the table join hands, and ask someone ~ usually the dad, but moms and kids are good, too ~ to ask the blessing.  Just being around the table together, eating and laughing and talking, is a good reason to be thankful.  But don’t let the prayer drag on and on. Eggs are definitely more tasty when they’re eaten hot.


This was the first recipe I posted on my blog. It was August 2011, and my mom was thinking much more clearly then. She wasn’t sure what a blog was, but she said to invite all my blog friends over and she would help me make a big batch of Eggs A’La Goldenrod.

Consider yourselves invited. It’s World Egg Day, after all, and you’re our blog friends.

P.S.  U.K. author Angela Carter said, “A day without an argument is like an egg without salt.”   Whatever that means…

Benjamin Franklin wrote: "An egg today is better than a hen tomorrow."  (Again, interpret that as you will.)

Benjamin Franklin wrote: “An egg today is better than a hen tomorrow.” (Again, interpret that as you will.)


Filed under Cooking With Mom, Dementia/Alzheimer's, just doing the best we can, lessons about life, lessons for great-grandchildren, October glory, recipes, special quotations


moon between trees







Hand-painted pumpkins greet visitors at the entrance to Mom's assisted living. (Pictures by Marylin Warner)

Hand-painted pumpkins greet visitors at the entrance to Mom’s assisted living. (Pictures by Marylin Warner)

Erma Bombeck was one of my mother’s favorite humor writers.   Not only was she a good writer, but her books and columns also contained real life truths.   I remember Mom laughing, and then she would read aloud the excerpt and say something like, “I know just how she feels!”

This Bombeck quote perfectly describes my mother:  “A grandmother pretends she doesn’t know who you are on Halloween.”   Mom was the perfect, appreciative audience for her costumed grandchildren…and all children.

Seven years ago, these were the types of trick or treaters Mom enjoyed most--her great-grandchildren!

Seven years ago, these were the types of trick or treaters Mom enjoyed most–her sweet great-grandchildren!



When Mom opened the front door and greeted the young neighborhood kids chirping “Trick or Treat,” she pretended not to know any of them. “Oh my, who is this pirate on my porch?” she might say.   Or, “What a scary ghost you are!” and “I didn’t know we had a real princess living nearby!”   The children would giggle and hold out their sacks, and most of them said, “Thank you” for the goodies she gave to them.   It was a happy time.



Then, as years went by, Mom and Dad started forgetting names and faces—and not just when children were in Halloween costumes—so they began leaving a bowl of candy on the patio table (and eventually they even forgot to do that).   They would turn off the porch lights and the indoor lights, lock the doors and go to bed early. Halloween was no longer fun for them; it was too confusing.

There is a traditional Scottish saying about Halloween that is also a prayer: “From ghoulies and ghosties ~ And long-legged beasties ~ And things that go bump in the night ~ Good Lord, deliver us!”

Based on my own experiences with my parents—and as a prayer for all of us—I’ll add this:   “From confusion and fear and forgotten memories ~ From the losses and sorrows of Alzheimer’s and dementia ~ And from scary things that go bump in the night ~ Good Lord, deliver us!”


Farmers harvest a HUGE smile for Halloween.

Farmers harvest a HUGE smile for Halloween.

Our daughter Molly made these Halloween "teeth" treats for her kids' class rooms: apples slices with peanut butter holding the marshmallow teeth.

Our daughter Molly made these Halloween “teeth” treats for her kids’ class rooms: apples slices with peanut butter holding the marshmallow teeth.


Filed under autumn lessons, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, lessons for great-grandchildren, October glory, special quotations


Dear Mom,

What is it about autumn? During my last visit with you, by mid-afternoon I was turning on all the lights in your apartment. Overhead lights, table lamps, the kitchen and hall lights, anything to make the day seem brighter, longer.


October is a month that seems to tell us to slow down, to rest and brace for the winter days ahead. October means shorter days with less light, but also mood swings that match color swings. Leaves change from green to gold, red, orange and yellow, brilliant at first, but then they turn brown and fall from the trees, leaving spindly bare branches.

October is one of the SADD months, when less light causes Seasonal Affective Depression Disorder in many people, which causes problems including making them feel less energetic, creative and hopeful. (I learned that SADD is also actually an acronym for numerous situations and organizations, including Students Against Drunk Driving, Students Against Destructive Decisions, Senior Attention Deficit Disorder, and my favorite now that our daughter Molly found this and pointed it out–Same Accident Different Day–which is a real acronym, too.)

Some adults, and many children, might think that Halloween is the only bright spot in October. But there’s another day coming soon that should make us all smile: Sweetest Day. In 1922 Herbert Birch Kingston declared the third Saturday of October as Sweetest Day. Herbert Kingston was a Cleveland, Ohio philanthropist and candy company employee. To show orphans, shut-ins and the under-priveleged that they were not forgotten, on Sweetest Day he gave them candy and small gifts, and he often recruited movie stars to distribute the gifts. For instance, on the first Sweetest Day in 1922, movie star Ann Pennington presented 2,200 Cleveland newspaper boys with boxes of candy in appreciation for their service to the public.

Mom, you were only four years old when Herbert Birch Kingston initiated the first Sweetest Day, and I don’t know if you ever realized that each year the third Saturday in October was the day of this celebration. But I’ll tell you what I do remember you saying about “blue” days, cloudy or feeling-down days that people complained about.  You said that the best way to cheer yourself up was to help someone else. To make your own day brighter and happier, the best thing to do was brighten another’s day.

I remember gray rainy days, not just in October but also in other months, when I’d come into the kitchen and you’d be kneading bread dough or baking cookies or making jam to pour in pretty little jars. It wasn’t just your regular baking. When the project was done, you’d take a jar or a wrapped loaf or plate of cookies and go to visit someone who was ill or was alone or troubled. And you’d send me out, too, with another treat to deliver to someone. As I got older, I could choose the neighbor or friend on my own, because I’d picked up from you the message of cheer or friendship that would be delivered along with the goodies.

Were you doing it for them, Mom, or sometimes were you also doing it for yourself? Is this why I don’t remember you being discouraged or lethargic or sad…because you encouraged yourself at the same time you encouraged others?

Thank you, Herbert Birch Kingston, for your generosity and concern on Sweetest Day.  Thank you, Mary Elizabeth Hoover Shepherd, for your generosity and concern for others during any other days that needed a little sweetness.

This year, Sweetest Day is next Saturday, October 20th.  Friday, October 19th, is “Evaluate Your Life” Day.  Hmm. Not a bad combination. October is looking better and brighter already.

Smiling llama, North Pole (Colorado) all photographs by Marylin Warner

The Yarn Tree: group project at Old Colorado City Library, Colo. Springs west side


Filed under art, art projects, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren, neighbors, October glory

Autumn Homes

Dear Mom,

You and I have always loved the last weeks of October.  In autumn the trees changed from green to brilliant red and orange, bright yellow and gold.  When they were at the peak of their change, we pressed my favorite leaves between books.  They became the “accents” in almost every room, spread out on tables and counters and bookshelves until they crumbled apart.

When I was a child, we raked the leaves into huge piles at the curb,jumped into the center, and then raked them back into piles.  On chilly evenings, all over the neighborhood the children watched in wide-eyed wonder while adults monitored the crackling, burning leaves.  Sunday evenings at our house meant eating popcorn and sliced apples while we watched Gunsmoke and Bonanza.

Things change.  Children grow up, move away, and many have their own children and grandchildren now.  Spouses and friends are gone, and houses hold new families.  The October lawns are still covered in rustling colors, but leaf burning is banned.  And on crisp fall evenings you no longer sit at the picture window, a notebook open on your lap as you pen poems and stories about children jumping in leaves and animals preparing for winter.  Your home now is a cozy apartment on the second floor of Presbyterian Village, and your failing memory and poor vision no longer inspire writing ideas.

So during this visit, as the sky darkened outside we turned on all the lights in your living room.  You snuggled in your recliner, covered with the fluffy bright green blanket.  We shared microwave popcorn and orange slices.  I flipped through some of your light verse poetry, reading the titles aloud until you seemed to choose the one titled “Homes.”

The milk cow sleeps in the barn,

A house is home for folks.

The little birds sleep in a nest in a tree;

In the pond the bull-frog croaks.


The milk cow wouldn’t like my bed,

And I couldn’t sleep in a nest.

The bull-frog doesn’t like the barn.

Each one thinks his home is the best.

Mom, that’s  your charming poem, “Homes.”  You didn’t recognize it as something you had written.  As I reread it, you closed your eyes and took a nap.  I kept reading, just in case…

Things change, but memories remain, passed from mother to daughter to grandchildren to great-grandchildren.  It’s okay if you forget, Mom.  I’ll remember for you, and pass the memories on.  I promise.

Love, Marylin


Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, memories for grandchildren, October glory