October is…

October is one of my very favorite months of the year, mainly because it’s the month where the “dog days” of summer are well over with, and the dark chill of winter’s reign is still a ways off, and once in a while we’re treated to those special Indian Summer days—periods of unusually warm and pleasant weather in late autumn.

It’s the month when the furnace gets its first re-awakening as the first frosts and freezes re-appear, letting us know that the cycle has wound its way around again.

It’s a time for sweatshirts and long pants and bundling up for the grandsons’ Friday night football games and splendid Saturday afternoons in Memorial Stadium in Champaign for Fighting Illini football!

October is, without a doubt, a month of resplendent colors. Gold, yellow, red, and rust adorn the maples, oaks, and various other trees and bushes throughout the great Midwest, providing a living bonus for those of us who are fortunate to call this part of the country home. At the same time of this explosion of brilliant colors of OctoberIMG_8626IMG_8628, those same leaves begin to leave their branches and fall—slowly in the beginning, but ever increasing as the month grows late and the winds of autumn increase.

By October, all of the outdoor furniture and decorative accoutrements and plant vases and pots have been cleaned and stored safely away until their resurrection next spring. 

October is a month when we are content to be inside much sooner, as the afternoon sun fades away much more quickly and the outdoor lights are set to come on earlier than before. There’s a contented quiet now as darkness settles over the neighborhood.

The feelings of Halloween begin to whirl and swirl around in the imaginations of both young and old, and the days grow shorter. I find time to enjoy all over again, the tales of Irving and Poe.

Thumbs up for October!

Oil change, morning TV, and late-October musings…

cropped-countryroad1.jpgLate October—very late! Halloween rolling in tomorrow. Weather changing. Patio and deck furniture hauled to the garage. Solar lights pulled from their places of importance around the yard and brought in for cleaning, battery removal, and storage.

One of the last mowings, trimming, and edging for the year before mower gets traded for snow thrower that’s been hiding out in son’s shed down the road a ways.

Car in for oil change this morning. Large TV blaring in waiting room in Service area. Screaming fans in the street and gushing hosts and hostesses on program annoying and headache inducing! I hate TV in the morning, especially GMA, but I can’t very well get up and turn it off. It’s not mine, after all! So I sit and wait. Try to read my Jeff Shaara book about the siege of Vicksburg, but Taylor Swift is rattling my concentration with her birdlike warbling.

Commercial break. Two to three minutes of political spots that paint opponents as the most evil and vile persons walking this planet! These do nothing but add to my distaste for having the damned TV turned on in the first place!

A lady beside me is bending the ear of an older gentleman two seats away—something about the tree that fell next to her house and the giant sinkhole that scared the bejabbers out of her neighborhood. He shakes his head as if to say that he is spellbound at all that she is telling him.

Some employee from the front comes in, apparently on some mission of importance, and re-stocks the styrofoam cups for the coffee machine, that is now woefully near empty!

Fortunately, oil change and tire rotation is done within forty-five minutes, so I’m free to escape and regain my equilibrium in the peace and quiet of my Equinox. Best part: maintenance service still under warranty and no charge, and everything checks out A-OK. Still like new!

On the way home, I pass many farms and fields. Harvest in full swing, and farmers working hard to beat the impending rain and big weather change that’s heading our way here in northern Illinois by tomorrow.

Nearby orchards and farm stands have closed for the season. Out of apples, pumpkins, and other autumn delights. Signs proclaim that another season has come and gone and “Thanks for your patronage…see you next spring!” Owners preparing to head south for the winter, I would think. Basking in the sun while we’ll be basking in the driving snow as it flies at us from our snow throwers on a regular basis.

The busy “writing season” is creeping in now. Important to take care of outside chores so when the frigid winds howl and the snow begins to fly and the furnace reports for duty once more, work on next novel and short stories can move along without so many interruptions. No NaNoWriMo for me this November. Have enough work to do on current WIPs. Maybe again next year.

Now, time to move along to next items on “To Do” list. Happy late-October, all…CortlandWriter 🙂No Sun Up in the Sky...

Harvest time & October tales…

Cover of "Harvest Home"
Cover of Harvest Home


This morning, while reading through a few of the blogs I follow, I read a very enjoyable post from the blog Eagle-Eye Editor. (http://eagleeyededitor.wordpress.com) The writer asks the readers if we believe in ghosts and then proceeds to write about a strange experience that could be something of a ghost tale, or at least something hard to explain. After that, she mentions her enjoyment of the spooky stories of L.B. Taylor, Jr. Since I had not heard of this author previously, my curiosity has been aroused, and I will check his work out. And there is no better month than October to get the spooky stories of ghosts and all-things-weird up and about!

This also led to another thought this morning as I was enjoying my pancakes (with Michigan blueberries!) and coffee. I thought about why I love October so much, and part of the answer was right outside our sliding door. No more than 100 feet out is a golden cornfield, standing patiently, waiting to be harvested. Much farther out, all trees are colored rust, or yellow, or deep gold. Until now, they were rather plain and unobtrusive. Even the slant of the sun has realigned itself throughout the days, and the shadows of late afternoon seem different. The air is clear and good, summer’s heat and humidity gone.

The word harvest seemed to trigger something about October and the tales that are so good during the month. Perhaps one of the spookiest stories I read years ago was Harvest Home by Tom Tryon. Written in 1973, the book is certainly not new. A TV movie followed and was quite good, mainly because it is a good story and the cast was excellent. Bette Davis portrayed the strange Widow Fortune. It’s a creepy tale of a family from New York who chuck that lifestyle for a quaint and bucolic New England small town. What they discover, as the tale unwinds, is that things aren’t what they seem. I would recommend a visit to your library to locate this book. A search at Barnes & Noble or Amazon might yield results as well. Either way, Harvest Home is an excellent October read—before all of the Halloween and other standard fare is offered up later on.

I’ve always loved stories such as this one, and I believe that there is no better month than October—harvest time—to enjoy some all over again. I just pulled my old copy of Harvest Home from its spot on the bookshelf and shall be re-reading soon. And, thanks to Eagle-Eye Editor, I’ll begin my search for L.B. Taylor, Jr., and add him to my October reading pile.

It’s a great month to read those cool tales that keep us looking over our shoulders and wondering what that movement in the shadows was….CortlandWriter

Enter October…busy times!

October has arrived, which means it’s time to get back to the old “routines” of life after the summer cottage/lake season. Although we’ve had a couple of weeks to unpack, re-settle, “untangle,” and re-adjust, there’s the realization that our busy lives are “kicking in” once again.

Saturday (Photo credit: Brother O’Mara)

Whether it’s picking the grandsons up from school, staying with them until Mom and Dad get home, or the various errands and other tasks that take up time hither and yon, the calendar is rapidly filling up. Plus, there are the grandson’s flag football games to attend two times a week for the next few weeks, and the little side trips to Nebraska and Michigan to see family the next few weekends. And though I’ve vowed to get back to work on my writing, I’ve not done a very good job in fulfilling that vow—so far. Need to work on this!

And then there are the two book clubs I’m in, meaning I’m juggling the various books to have them read and digested (somewhat) by the next meeting date. The books we’ve read and discussed in the Saturday morning men’s group have been, for the most part, enjoyable, with a couple of exceptions. But as the good wife points out, I’m reading books I wouldn’t otherwise consider, let alone purchase. Regardless, it’s fun getting together for an hour or so, drinking coffee and eating doughnuts, and having some intelligent conversations. In this group, we’re currently reading The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science. I’m three-fourths of the way through it, and I’m finding it pretty enjoyable, despite some sections that tread way too esoteric and sciency for me! But as I said, the coffee and doughnuts are very tasty on those early Saturday mornings.

Cover of "The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of ...
Cover via Amazon

The other book group is made up of long-time friends from our previous town. We gather every couple of months in one of the member’s homes, have a meal and dessert, and chat and offer our opinions of the book we’ve just read. Some books have included The Lost Symbol, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, The Help among others. Just this past summer, we attempted to plough through Moby Dick. It was an exercise not unlike slogging through a swampy marsh! In spite of our sometimes “slogging,” it’s always fun getting together with the group.

What it comes right down to is  there never seems to be enough time (“to do the things we want to do…” Jim Croce) for really accomplishing everything we look forward to doing. Being retired, I’m not really under any pressing time constraints or deadlines, but it has been difficult for a few years in making the adjustment. At any rate, I keep trying. On this wonderful sunny October morning, with a nice chill in the air, I understand that it’s finally time to re-adjust my priorities and efforts so there’s time for all that is important. Now, to do something about that writing routine…CortlandWriter