Halloween Ghost Story

Hey, do you want to hear a ghost story?  It’s a good one!

I posted this on my MySpace blog on May 21, 2006


For those who don’t know her, my sister Phaedra is an extremely scientific mind…she’s very logical and very rational and she does not believe anything that she can’t prove or see.  Because of this, I absolutely believe this story….

Phaedra works for a nature center in Colorado and lives in a very old cabin on the grounds.  For the entire year that she’s lived there, she’s often felt like there was something strange going on.  She’d often wake up at night feeling as if someone was in the room with her (she lives alone).  Once she woke up and there was a light around the door….in the middle of the night in rural Colorado. 

A few weeks ago she woke up and heard what sounded to her like children playing.  She opened her eyes and there was a boy standing beside her bed looking at her.  She says that he looked to be around eight years old and had wild hair.  Her first thought was “I’m not on medic duty, why did they send a kid in here?”….then she thought “It’s Sunday, there aren’t any kids on the grounds tonight”.  At this realization, she stiffened and may have gasped.  At that moment, the boy disappeared.  (it’s okay, you can say it– HOLY SHIT!!!)

She said that, even though it was dark she could see him well, as if he were emitting a light.  He didn’t say anything, just looked at her. 

Creepy, eh?




Before I had kids, I remember always hearing about how crazy Halloween, and the weeks leading up to it, were.  The costume indecision- or worse, inability to find THE costume.  The balance of sugar-high and sugar-crash.  The bargaining and threats and bribes (which I can only assume was designed as a warm-up to Christmas).

But then, when Amelia was born, Halloween didn’t seem that scary.  *As with everything else “baby”, new parents are lulled into a false-sense of security before their kid turns 2 (or 4 or 12…) and karate kicks the hell out of their happy dreamworld*  a halloweenSo, for Amelia’s first Halloween, we dressed her up as an adorable little cheerleader and paraded her around to all of our friends and neighbors.  No drama.  Years 2 & 3 were fairly similar, a little more effort to figure out where to go trick or treating, but no drama.  Last year Amelia & Zaven’s mermaid & pirate costumes even managed to tie  into a theme az halloween

This year, we started talking about costumes early because I knew that Amelia would want to think about it (warning: NEVER let your 4 year old think about the costume..it only leads to trouble).  Amelia’s first suggestion was that brother would be Michael Jackson…and she would be a doctor.  This was NOT suggested to her, she came up with it on her own.  However, I knew that the fine people of Douglas County would look at them and assume that their parents had a really twisted sense of humor (well…).  Amelia really wanted to be a doctor, so we decided that Z would be a pig….an homage to this year’s Swine Flu epidemic.  Great.  All set.  Start researching toddler pig costumes. 

But then, after a spin through a costume aisle, Amelia decided that she’d rather be Dorothy instead.  By this time I’d found the best price for kid’s doctor costumes (after deciding NOT to attempt to sew my own child-size scrubs) and found a good do-it-yourself pig costume.  I’d heard about this flip-flopping that occurs when a child is given too much time to think about their Halloween costume (see?), but I thought that I could steer her back on course.  Nope, she was fully committed to the Wizard of Oz.  Despite my disappointment at losing the chance to have my kids dressed in clever socially relevant costumes, I went with the Dorothy thing. 

I came to the conclusion that we would skip the expected (Lion, Tin Man, Scarecrow) and Z would be either a flying monkey or a member of the Lollipop Guild…depending the availability of a reasonably priced toddler size monkey costume.  It was looking like I’d be crafting a giant lollipop when I found a monkey costume at Target for 30% off.  I’d just found Z’s size and was making sure we didn’t need anything else when Amelia said, while looking at the costumes, ‘Mommy, I want to be something different.  I want to be a princess.”  NOOOOOOOO!!! 

Now, the Dorothy costume had been a hand-me-down from a friend, and the Target costumes were on clearance…..but I HAD FINALLY FOUND A MONKEY COSTUME! I said ‘No’.  Amelia’s lip started quivering.  I tried to distract her but she was already gazing at the Disney princess dresses. 

Many moms have told me that sometimes you just have to pick your battles…so that’s what I did.  We came to a compromise- Amelia would be Snow White at her school Halloween party on Friday & she’d be Dorothy, accompanied by a flying monkey, on Halloween.  Everybody’s happy, Amelia gets to wear two costumes and the whole deal only cost $10.  (Added bonus: Jason got a much less complicated hairstyle to contend with while getting Amelia ready for school.  I’m not sure how pigtails would have gone…).

So….another crisis averted.  Now we’ll see how the whole candy thing goes tonight.

And just so I can start preparing now…it WILL get worse next year, right?  I thought so….

Kal Penn Being Political

You know when your stoner friend from high school grows up and gets a real job and wears a suit and you giggle every time you see him because he looks like an adult? Yeah, that’s how I feel about this photo.


That’s Kal Penn in the middle. You know….Kumar. He’s now working for the Obama administration as Associate Director in the Office of Public Engagement serving as a liason between the White House and Asian-American & Pacific-Islander communities. I love it when people do things that are (pleasantly) unexpected. I was impressed and intrigued last April when I read about Penn’s career shift (although I’d JUST started getting into ‘House’ and was bummed that he was leaving the show).

To be fair, Penn (or Kalpen Modi, his birth name that he’s now using as a non-actor) has played a few notable stoner ROLES. I know nothing about his personal life. However, I’ve spent enough Saturday afternoons watching ‘Harold & Kumar go to White Castle’ to find the irony in the fact that he’s now working for ‘The Man’.

*I’ve never done drugs and I generally don’t find drug humor all that funny…but for some reason, ‘Harold & Kumar go to White Castle’ is one of my favorite movies. I credit Neil Patrick Harris. It probably also helps that John Cho & Kal Penn remind me of half the guys I went to college with. I dunno…it’s weird.*

And, yes, I do feel like he’s an old friend. I’m not quite sure why. Maybe it’s because he’s my age and I’ve spent so many years watching him act. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t strike me as a “Hollywood” guy. Maybe it’s that whole “wait, didn’t I go to college with him?” thing. Either way, I enjoy seeing him do big things.

Thanks For the Memories Div

During the summer of 1997, between my Sophomore and Junior years of college, I had what I like to call my “Vermont Student Summer”. During the day I’d scoop Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, sometimes AT the Vermont Teddy Bear factory. And at the end of the day, I’d drive straight up Shelburne Road to my internship in the Sports Department at WCAX. I’d arrive during the 6p newscast (usually smelling of cream and chocolate) and be settled by the time the show was ending and the anchors were filing out of the studio.

Compared to the newsroom I see every day now, WCAX was small and and pretty plain. But at the time, it was the most exciting place I could imagine. Nobody outside of Vermont will understand this, but I saw Marselis Parsons, Sharon Meyer and JJ Cioffi every day. EVERY DAY. Sure, it seems silly now. But, like any kid in any city, I’d grown up watching the local news team every night at 6:00. It didn’t matter that they were just up I-89 in Burlington…these people were on TV.

One of my favorite stories from that summer was when I was working at Ben & Jerrys one Saturday and Marselis Parsons, 6pm anchor and known to friends & colleagues as “Div”, walked into scoop shop. I was still rather new to the station and, being a sports intern, I hadn’t had that much contact with the newsroom team. Still, I saw somebody I recognized and my reflex was to smile and say Hi. For a second, I panicked and worried that he’d think I was an over-familiar fan or worse…a complete dork. Instead, he smiled warmly and said “Hi Jessica!” and introduced me to his entire group as “the newest intern on the sports crew”. Then he said “I wondered if I’d ever bump into you here.” After I scooped their ice cream, he left a good tip and told me he’d see me Monday. It should be said that this entire time there was not one other sound in the ice cream shop. Everyone was staring (some which their mouths open) and as soon as the door shut, they (co-workers, customers) were asking me how I knew Marselis Parsons. My manager later remarked that “Robert Redford came into the shop a few years ago and didn’t get even close to that reaction.”


It’s been 10 years since I left Vermont for the glitz & glamour of 24 hours news, but I still love watching the WCAX 6pm news when I’m home. It just sounds comforting….the opening music, the news about agriculture, the softness (or complete lack) of the letter ‘T’. Marselis’ voice is the background while I’m helping my mom set the table or sitting on the couch with my dad. Unfortunately, next time I go home, the 6 o’clock news will be a little less familiar.

Tonight, Div will say good-bye to his WCAX viewers and the people who have spent a life-time watching him. He’ll wake up tomorrow retired and not having to be somewhere at 6:00 every night. After 42 years, he’ll have absolutely no professional obligation to know what’s happening in Vermont (although something tells me he’ll never quite turn away).

Unlike the long-time anchors in bigger markets, Parsons isn’t slick or flashy. He has no need to be. He’s not some Ron Burgundy-esque blow-hard, full of ego. He doesn’t have molded hair or strangely white veneers. He’s just a guy…the guy you get your news from.

But, you know, he’s still sort of a superstar to me.

Happy Retirement Div.


Seventh Generation Disinfectants

I’ve been meaning to post about this for a week now…


Seventh Generation debuted a line of disinfectant wipes and sprays at the Natural Products Expo East a few weeks ago.  This line will be the first naturally-derived EPA registered disinfectants approved to claim “kills over 99.99 percent of germs naturally on hard, non-porous surfaces”. 

BURLINGTON, VT — (MARKET WIRE) — 09/25/2009 — Seventh Generation, the nation’s leading brand of non-toxic, environmentally safe household solutions, incorporates the latest breakthrough in green chemistry with the introduction of a new line of household disinfectant wipes and sprays. Debuting at the Natural Products Expo East in Boston this week, the product line has the distinction of being the first and only naturally-derived EPA registered disinfectants approved to claim “kills over 99.99 percent of germs naturally on hard, non-porous surfaces” and effective against the common Influenza A virus (“the flu”) and its related strain, H1N1, otherwise known as “swine flu.”

Personally, I prefer to keep it simple with using just Baking Soda & White Vinegar to clean around the house.  *Remember, “green” products are popular right now, but a big part of saving the world is reducing the extra “stuff” that we buy.*  As devoted as I am to my 50/50 vinegar-water mix, every so often I feel the need to use the hard stuff to deep clean (which usually involves a date with Mr. Clean).  I remember my sister telling me a story once about how her workplace was very environmentally friendly & cleaning supplies were always non-toxic, but that whenever the boss would leave town, they’d break out the bleach to get everything REALLY clean.  Sometimes you just need to sanitize. 

I’ll be interested to see whether these Seventh Generation products will really be tough enough to satisfy my urges to clean.   Either way, I’ll definitely check it out.  Seventh Generation has blown up, but I still consider it a hometown company (and yes, I will always consider Vermont my actual home).   If nothing else, I’m sure that these cleaners will smell divine.    The Lemongrass and Clementine Zest dish soap has literally ruined me for other dish soaps. 

“I sound like a housewife,  Hey ‘chelle, I think I’m a housewife”    -Michelle Shocked

Recipes for a Family in Need

Two weeks ago, the Atlanta area was deluged with so much rain so quickly that any area remotely near a river or body of water was severely flooded (while other areas, like my house, were completely unaffected).  Sadly, most of the casualties were on my side of town.  One of the people who lost their life was a young mother named  Delena.    I didn’ t know Delena, but her family attends my friend’s church.  She was a mom who lived a town away from me and I could have seen her at Target or Kroger on any given day.

At a time like this, it would be natural for the community to rally around her family to provide money or material goods.  Instead, this woman decided to take a practical, and very sweet, approach.

 From  http://douglasnews07.wordpress.com/2009/10/07/cookbook-recipes-needed/

Hi – My name is Sara McMichael.  I would like to put together a cookbook for my friend Ty Weathers, who lost his wife Delena, in the floods Monday.  He has 2 small children that he is going to have to learn how to cook for!  I was wondering if you could post something on your site regarding this?  I would like to try to get as many kid-friendly, EASY recipes as possible.  These can be main dishes, sides, desserts or whatever!  

Thanx – Sara

Your readers can email them directly to me saramcmichael@hotmail.com.


Please consider contributing.  It’s not cash.  It’s not time.  It’s just emailing a recipe.  It’s simple and it will benefit this family forever.


Good-bye Saturn

Saturn’s hometown stunned as car company calls it quits


By Aaron Cooper


SPRING HILL, Tennessee (CNN) — The town that Saturn put on the map is

worrying about its future, and hoping its giant auto plant and jobs won’t go

the way of its most famous product.

General Motors announced this week that it would close its Saturn line

after a sale to Penske Automotive Group fell through.

At the end of “Saturn Parkway” in Spring Hill sits the huge plant where

— as the ads touted — “a different kind of car company” produced a “different

kind of car.”

The first Saturn, a red S-Series, rolled off the line in 1990. The

factory, the town, and its workers have played a major role in the company’s

image and advertisements, even hosting tours and “reunions” for Saturn car


There is a community pride attached to Saturn. That first car is still at

the factory — now on prominent display in the visitor’s center. In city hall,

the walls are decorated with old photos of the small town that Spring Hill was

before Saturn came to town.

“I think people are very proud an American-made car was made here,” said

resident Barbara Williams.

Mayor Mike Dinwiddie credits a lot of that growth to the Saturn plant.

“GM back in the mid 80s is the reason this town began to grow in the

first place” he said.

Eventually, however, GM decided to move production elsewhere. The last

Saturn made in Tennessee rolled off the line in 2007. After retooling, GM

started building the Chevrolet Traverse in Spring Hill, but that production is

on its way out, too.

In November, it will be moved to a plant in Michigan, leaving Spring

Hill’s plant idle.

The move to shut down Saturn has left some in town disappointed and


“It’s been a great car,” said Keith Slep, who runs an auto repair shop a

few miles from the factory. He had hoped Penske would make the car work because

“he has a track record that won’t quit of being a great business man and a good

leader. I don’t know what happened.”

Barbara Williams, who was eating lunch in a Spring Hill park with her

granddaughter, had the same question.

“I’m like everyone else, how can this happen? GM has been a forerunner in

the automobile industry, and it’s just a really sad indictment on what is

happening,” Williams said.

The mayor said the proposed plans are close to where Saturn was decades


“We are kind of curious as to why the decisions have been made that have

been made …,” Dinwiddie said. “I do know that what GM is trying to do now as a

company, as far as how they are trying to operate and what they are saying,

the improvements they need to make almost mirror what Saturn was 20 years ago.”

Resident Joyce Avello said the federal government is to blame.

“It’s an abomination what the government is doing to the automotive

industry … Get it out of the government’s hands. They don’t know how to do

cars. They can hardly do the government.”

Dinwiddie is optimistic about the future of Spring Hill.

“I have to believe the plant is going to come back. It all depends on the

overall economy,” he said. “I hope that Americans start buying American

products and start supporting the American auto manufacturing industry, and if

that happens we’ll get a product in this plant.”

Dinwiddie said he has been working with General Motors on a daily basis,

and has invited the president and the auto recovery czar to come and tour the


“I don’t think they understand what this plant is capable of doing, and

once they see that, I think that they will be well aware of the situation and I

think they could probably give us some help,” he said.

G.W. Bowman, 94, has lived in Spring Hill most of his life and remembers

stories of his grandfather collecting the mail in the area during the Civil


With Saturn gone and the local plant preparing to idle, he said, the city

is reeling.

“Of course it’s going to hurt, but it’s not going to kill Spring Hill,”

Bowman said. “Spring Hill was here a long time before they came in.”

TM & © 2009 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.