When I Was Seven I Was Kidnapped On Halloween Night

In 1957 I was in second grade and was mildly kidnapped on Halloween. Just before dusk kids from up and down Mary Street yelled out,”The dogs are out!” which meant, four footed sweet hearts were “let out for the night”. We all knew and patted the doggies in our neighborhood during the day when they were walked on their leashes. But at night the doggies were let out their front doors and became a pack of snapping hounds running through non-fenced front yards and massively pooping everywhere.
About the same time we were all attempting to be let back into our homes, needing to eat fast and to change back into the costumes we’d worn to school that day. We needed to get and get going.
The year before I’d found myself looking like a fool because I’d carried the cute Halloween bag I’d decorated in my school class. The year I was seven I’d tossed the silly bag, and quickly scribbled a pumpkin in orange crayon across the largest paper bag I could find and worried this might not be even big enough.
In my family candy was only allowed twice a year, as told in my book If Mrs Greeby Asks.  Halloween was a sure thing, Christmas was ify so I was ready to meet my best friend from across the street as early as I could and come home as late as possible. But parents always established a time limit because the later we were out the more cars filled the road. The cars swerved around dog packs and they sometimes hit witches and kids dressed as bats..
Large and small groups of kids swarmed Mary Street. We worked our way, back and forth, as fast as we could, shifting around dog packs and trying look somewhat polite to our generous neighbors.                                                                                                               Then we candy collected our way into the kid napping scheme.
The porch light was on, we entered the enclosed porch, and waited behind a bunch of kids, as they rang the door bell again.  Was this a waste of our time?   Possibly, yet the adult inside might finally understand and give each of us an entire mixed bag of candy.  “Anything is possible!” we told ourselves.
As we were weighing our options the door opened and an old man and his wife TOLD us to come in.
We all stared at each other.  This wasn’t right!  We didn’t GO IN. For one thing it was a waist of time!  But these old people knew what they were doing.  The woman held the front door open and the old guy worked his way through us, and by this time more kids had come up behind us on the porch, and he LOCKED the porch door!

So we when in the house.  “Sit down!” we were commanded.  My friend and I shifted between others on the couch and waited for the room to fill.  The two old people watched at the window. If an adult accompanied a group of children candy was taken out to the porch full of kids. If not the old people waited until it filled then herded another group of kids in their house.

Mean time we in the room were completely still; no sound, we were stunned. No sound except the ticking clock and Keith’s whimpering. And there no movement.  I faced the clock and It was ten minutes before all standing room was filled.  Then the two old people stood in front of us and lectured us on being a good neighbors.

We were never to step on their grass, even the strips between the side walk and street. ( I knew my rights, They didn’t own that lawn.)  We were never to allow dogs to step on, dig at, or soil their grass.  I lost track of all else they said. I was trying to remember if having walked my friend’s dog, only twice that whole year, we’d been responsible for LEAVING something!   But then I remembered the dog packs; I shouldn’t be responsible for THAT!

Finally, after close to fifteen minutes, the old guy unlocked both the front and the porch doors, not even offering candy.  We ran.  There was one more things to fear on Halloween nights than spooks, cars, dogs. Old guys behind enclosed porches and a WAIST OF CANDY COLLECTING TIME.  nancymauerman.com

Grandpas Knocking On Doors Holding Out Trick Or Treat Candy Bags

My mother told me that when she was young Halloween was a teenager’s holiday and there was very little candy involved. Groups of kids would sneak into a farm yard, wait for the man of the house to go to the out house and lock him in it and leave, or take apart a family’s Model T and reassemble it on top of a barn.
In the 1950s only small children went trick or treating, and if you were getting on in years, approaching twelve the year of doom, or were tall for your age, the people that opened their doors would glare and half would slam their door on your face, leaving you empty bagged.
A few years ago mostly big teenagers came to my door and many apologized for being there. They didn’t look homeless and I’m sure they had money for candy so I wondered, “Why were these kids on my porch?”  Perhaps they didn’t have a party to go to and wanted an excuse to dress up. Or possibly the teens were going from house to house asking their neighbors if they, as teenagers, were accepted and valued.
A few thoughts from my book If Mrs Greeby Asks are: Every year my mother wants to cancel Halloween… Every year I trade candy with Don so I end up with only chocolate but while I’m sleeping half of my candy disappears and my mother always says she didn’t do it…this year I hid my bag of chocolate! You should know that one day I had two pieces of chocolate left and the next day the bag was totally open and absolutely empty.
This is a sad story about a persistent kid whose life gets worse by the day but she wins in the end.
No kids come to my door now and grown ups are the primary celebrators of Halloween. I’m wondering if in forty years I’ll see Old Grandmas and Grandpas dressing up and perhaps coming back to my door.  nancymauerman.com

Head Monkeys Hopping Over The Economy

A typical conversation between two men is; “There are no leaks.” That’s John, then Eric from the water company says, “The meter count is over 300 above your average.” Three minutes of silence and John says, “I sent the guy out.” Three more minutes of silence and the Eric says, “OK.” Four minutes of silence….and so it goes on as slow as congress fixing the economy.
A conversation between two women is typically like this, “Did you see that poodle with pink hair? I know someone who…”  I’ll call this lady Margaret.
So while Margaret talks, her friend Nancy is; 1/4 listening, 1/4 THINKING about her Grandma’s poodle, hit by a car, but dragging itself on two legs, and saving old granny from a burning building. The next 1/4 of Nancy’s mind is thinking, all and at the same time, “Hurry up! Hurry up! I’ve got something to say.” The LAST 1/4 of Nancy’s brain is gauging Margaret’s thoughts and cuts her off just before she can finish speaking.
Then it’s Nancy’s turn, and while she’s telling about Grandma’s remarkable poodle, Margaret partly listens, forms a connecting but COMPLETELY separate topic, waits to interrupt in a polite place, and HER crazy head monkeys are jumping up and down, yelling, “Hurry up! Hurry up! I have something to say!”
Can you imagine how many head monkeys are hopping during a woman’s convention on the economy?
I like both men’s and women’s talk but I’ve discovered a secret about life! While I’m ‘listening”, I sometimes tell myself, “Hey, try this out. You didn’t die the last time you tried this, so you’ll be OK.  Just listen.  Don’t tell Margaret about Grandma’s puddle, although the information you would have given her might save her life someday.  Just listen.  What is she TRYING to say between the words she using?  Maybe comment on that later, much later, maybe you’ll say nothing at all.”
Let me tell you, there are monkeys hiding in the corners of my mind that only jump out at these moments! But when they wear themselves out. then I have a remarkable experience. Something I can’t explain happens when I listen between the words.
In my second book in the Leafman series, A Plethora of Monsters, Anna and her grandmother have a crazy-fun conversation, of half listening and always talking to each, other. The subjects of their talk are; 102 boxes of monsters and that awful attacking Leafman. This great fun is found on Amazon and is an especially good story for Halloween.  nancymauerman.com

I Met Bach When I Was Twenty

Growing up, my home, was filled with classical music; records and radio. We listened to everything except barque music, which I found out much later, my father disliked. Looking back I can understand him not buying records of Bach if he didn’t like them but how did I not know about the Bach boys until I was an adult? Dad must have turned the radio off every single time their music was played.
Hearing Bach for the first time was like waking up one morning and seeing red, magenta, pink, and orange for the first time.
I have a friend who told me she needed music every day, exactly like she needed food. Much later in our friendship she admitted that she’d been angry with me for years because I bought a grand piano and couldn’t even play! Later I told her I had difficulty learning, music was important to me too, and I knew unless I made a big commitment I would never learn to play.
She thought about this for a good long while and decided her small spinet wasn’t a big enough commitment in her life! So, she moved her dinning table and chairs out of the dining room the filled the room, wall to wall, with a grand piano.
John and I were in her area once and stopped by hoping she was home.We were greeted, shown in, scurried through the living room, and instead of my friend saying, “Please sit down.” she said, “Lay down!”
“What?” I asked. She pointed under the piano where pillows were waiting! We crawled under, somewhat dubious, but settled in on the pillows and she began to play for us. She’d taped a set of beautiful pictures under her piano and I requested Bach.  nancymauerman.com

God’s Gift To My Cats

Thought #3 on materialism ;With out stuff I couldn’t have made my cats a cat toys. My cat’s favorite toys are an old ladder that reaches the curly willow branches I’ve hung below my sky lights.                                                                                                                        Amy brought me two speakers. I’d been doing without. She said, “If I ever need them at my house I’ll come and get them.” John recently bought our first sewing machine. He and I have both sewn on 1950s machines but they have great limitations. John, being a guy and loving tools and machines, has decided the sewing machine is “HIS.”  It lives in his room and he gleefully hauls it out a few times a week for me to borrow. He’ll open the case for me and again says things like, “Do you see how they’ve improved this part?” Then he points to something else and says, “They didn’t even have this on my old machine.”
You may know John from previous blogs and know if he finds something wonderful he goes back and buys SIX more of them. We didn’t have the money, I DIDN’T HAVE THE ROOM for SEVEN SEWING MACHINES so he bought only one more.  Now Jillian, her sister, her Mom store it at their house. They needed one, we needed to store one. If our sewing machine breaks we could go get the one living with them.
I used to teach Jillian’s Mom in Sunday School. Both of our families were living N.E. Portland where the houses are big, fancy and OLD. I suppose there was someone living in that neighborhood that “thought” they OWNED their house but I never ran into them. Everyone there felt they were honored to borrow the house and be a steward over a piece of history. Each family saw an obligation to make at least one major improvement or restoration.
John’s thinking the plumber isn’t going to charge us a fee, because the water company insisted that we have a professional inspect the entire crawl space and look for leaks (that weren’t there). And the plumber inspected it twice. John hopes we’re NOT charged money by the plumber because he wants to buy the plumper a pair of FIRE HOSE PANTS as a thank you. John’s just crazy about these Duluth Fire Hose Pants with a life time guarantee! John does not want a pair himself, he doesn’t need a pair, he simply loves matching up a neat product to someone who needs it.
Having “stuff” is great. I need tools in order to work, invent, grow, created new ways of thinking, and to share. But having too much is a burden and mentally buries me. If I have too much stuff I have no new thoughts, and I enjoy life less. God filled the world with things, creatures, and space. I need balance and order and to know I never own things. I am responsible to be a good steward and share.  nancymauerman.com

Martha Grimes For Kids

Thought #2 on materialism; John came home and headed for the kitchen to put away the dishes he’d previously washed and I said, “Whatever you do, don’t ask Amy if she wants her grilled cheese sandwich on rye bread.” and as she laughed from the other room I added, “Boy, that was a mistake!”
“I can’t even imagine.” he replied. And Amy and I could almost hear the brain surge splash though his head.
I said, “You’ll never guess the connections, but they have something to do with big fat grey giraffe tongues!”
Amy called in, “It has to do with Portland.”
I didn’t think that would help and added,”Oh no, don’t say that. It’ll only confuse him with thoughts of nude bicycle riders.” (Portland is famous for them)
Amy and I never did tell him the story behind the rye bread and he never asked; Sometimes it’s nice not to know and let our minds graze on the possibilities.
Haven’t you ever read a book that started with wonderful possibilities. Then it developed into the mundane and finished with a big fat splat? When I see that splat coming I leave at the “possibilities” section.
I’ve noticed that the people that come to my house to play with me and visit John enjoy connections also  for instance the giraffe tongues / rye bread. In my books about Leafman ideas hop one to another creating the story. Character development isn’t said; it’s shown, as when we’re told,”Grandmother’s Neda’s house was full of plants but twice full of problems, one hundred two to be exact, and one hundred three was knocking on her red front door.”
You’re hopefully asking’, “What problems?” As the story answers this it shows Grandmother’s mind making some of those connections I like, ” Her poor bugbear mind thought, what if 102 boxes had babies? what would happen then? And if the babies had babies, I’d run out of air! They’d find me standing up dead because there’d be no place to fall down.”
I could never find the books I wanted to read so I wrote my own. They’re also for children, but now I’ve discovered a treasure! Martha Grimes writes Richard Jury mysteries and they’re wonderful!
How dose this connect to materialism? May I suggest that you let your mind surge, splash,slosh and graze.  nancymauerman.com

I Lean On My Floor For Comfort

Thought #1 on materialism: John and Bart are waiting, like small children on birthday morning, for Bart’s new fire hose pants (see previous blogs) and I’m dancing a celebration ballet for not having a virgin sweater!
I used to have an invisible aquarium where John’s computer now sits. I needed empty places in my view to remind my mind to think new thoughts and give a place for them to hatch. John and I both find strange and odd things entertaining and as a result we fill up our home. For instance I found a doll and tore apart then reconstructed a new creature for my ugly doll collection and reconstructed a small mouse and stitched together a pet aardvark for her to carry.
I had a difficult time explaining my need for empty to John, until I found a thing, an object to sit in the empty place; the invisible aquarium.
My floor is my empty space right now. I lean on it for comfort.
A few days ago we drove past a second hand store where I saw a white sweater with big horse heads knitted on either side of the buttons. I thought about it; I wanted it, so as I worked yesterday John was kind enough to go pick it up for me, having asked a price range to work within.
He came home with books for Amy ; no sweater for me. The sweater’s price was $85.00 above my limit! I was thrilled with Amy’s new books and couldn’t wait for her to take them home to share with her daughter but double thrilled to NOT own an $85.00 virgin wool sweater. From John’s description this piece of clothing is also a piece of art and I agree with the price. But it gives me a thrill NOT TO OWN IT!  nancymauerman.com

Early Christmas And Wild Boar

“Do you wear the same shirt every day?” I asked John when I first met him.
To my surprise he said, “No, I have seven of the same shirt.” I didn’t get the joke but with John there was always so much to talk about, so we were off to something else.
Now it’s Christmas again at our house. Last week John had horse books for Amy, this week Bart will no longer have to fear wild boar! John and secrets can not exist in the same place at the same time so he called Bart when he discovered Duluth Trading Company is selling fire hose pants and decided Bart couldn’t live without them.
Both men talked to each other on the phone. In each home they they poured over the Duluth’s online advertizement, which told them that if Bart was attacked by a boar it’s tusks would not puncture his pants and he could wear them diving to prevent his wet suit from being torn and also protect him from mustard. They are also guaranteed for life.
I like the looks of those fire hose pants, and their longevity is interesting, but some of my favorite clothes are little more than tissue paper to be worn over a black shirt and stretch pants, which brings me back to the strangeness that is John’s wardrobe. The first time I opened John’s closet I found seven shirts all EXACTLY ALIKE, even in color! There were three such sets of duplicate shirts and sets of seven pairs of pants, their obvious prerequisite being as many pockets as possible and a construction that provided for kicking an attacker in the head if necessary. John told me that when he found something he liked he got seven of them. Now he can hardly breathe waiting for Bart’s pants to get here!  nancymauerman.com

John and Cat

When John was sick and lay abed
our old cat sang to him and tapped him gently on his head.

Now sick, she is not at all surprised
when John knells down and sings to her. She looks into his eye.

I’ve drawn our cat, Formica Dinnette Patrice Foxford Mauerman in the background of many pagess in my book, Eagles and Banana Peels.  nancymauerman.com

You Could Have Died!

My brother, Don, moved in with me and soon began gardening in his bedroom. He believed in fresh, moist, rich, ocean air, and circulation so opened both bedroom windows and forbid their closure. As an attempt at interior decor he heaped dirty clothes and guy stuff in mounds that were higher in the four corners of the room than elsewhere. It was on these mounds that I found big healthy toadstools!
This was not new to me nor a surprise, although I wasn’t particularly happy. I remember helping Mom make dinner (I was about fifteen, Don thirteen) and he walked in from fly casting in the middle our Orange County dul-de-sec (he didn’t need water) and heard Mom tell me about cleaning out his bedroom closet.
“You can’t do that!” he screamed, making us jump.
“You could have died!” We stopped, food goo on our hands and stared at Don all decked out in his fly fishing gear and holding his long limber rod.
“You didn’t touch the piety dishes in my closet did you?”                                                “Yea,”  my Mom said.                                                                                                               “I was growing deadly spores in there!   You could have died!” He was telling the truth. nancymauerman.com