Virtually all present Halloween traditions can be traced to the ancient Celtic “day of the dead.” Halloween is a holiday of many mysterious customs, but each one has a history or at least there’s a story behind it.

Perhaps you already know that the wearing of costumes, for example, and roaming from door to door demanding treats can be traced to the Celtic period and the first few centuries of the Christian era. It was thought back then that the souls of the dead were out and around, along with fairies, witches, and demons. Offerings of food and drink were left out to placate them.

As the centuries wore on, people began dressing like these dreadful creatures, performing antics in exchange for goods and drinks. This practice is called mumming, from which the practice of trick-or-treating evolved. To this day, witches, ghosts, and skeleton figures of the dead are among the favorite disguises.

Halloween also retains some features that trace back to the original harvest holiday of Samhain, such as the customs of bobbing for apples and carving vegetables, as well as the fruits, nuts, and spices cider associates with the day as well.

Don’t be scared now, but according to the U. S. Census Bureau, as many as 36.4 million potential trick-or-treaters, 5 to 13 year olds, don scary disguises that may bring on smiles as they go door to door among about 106 million occupied housing units in search of treats.

Along their way, the merry and/or mischievous trick-or-treaters, many dressed in scary garb rented from one of America’s 2,581 costume rental stores, encounter much of the 998 million pounds of pumpkins produced annually in the United States.

Illinois, with a production of 457 million pounds, leads the country. Pumpkin patches in California, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York also produce a lot of pumpkins; each state produces at least 70 million pounds worth. Now that’s a LOT of pumpkins. The value of all the pumpkins produced by these states is about $100 million a year.

So, whether you’re celebrating in Transylvania County, NC, Tombstone, AZ, Pumpkin Center, NC, Cape Fear, NC or Skull Creek, New Brunswick (population 291, with no known zombies), have a safe and happy Halloween!

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We all have dreams!

We have a vision of something we would like to have, a place we want to visit, or something we hope to be or do.

Many of us, just like Lysette Hayden, who is a vibrant, young Christian woman working for a pest control company, dream of finding love with a “special someone” sometime in our life; preferably sooner rather than later. Sometimes, we get lucky and find our match; sometimes, we don’t.

I want to share Lysette’s love story with you. Her introduction to romance began on the day that Marvin Kozlov walked into Action – Termite and Pest Control. Like the folds of a great cloak, a wide range of activities and emotions encompassed them: from autos to adventure, church to charity, lust to love, and mice to marriage.

Her story, “It’s All About Love”, is my latest book that’s now available at or contact me directly at if you’d like to purchase a signed copy.

Have you found true love in your life? What is your definition of love?

According to the Bible, “Love is patient; love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude; never selfish, not quick to take offense. There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, and endurance. In a word, there are three things that last forever: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of them all is love.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13

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After certain events in past weeks and months, I question if I truly recognize my beloved country. Extremists rule the day and have changed the face of the America that I loved. Anarchy, confusion, hissy fits and a lack of tolerance and respect define what I see in the 21st century.

Where is America the beautiful? Her spacious skies, her amber waves of grain, and the purple mountain majesties still remain but where does one see the beauty and the love? Specifically, the love of God, family, and country that embodies a sense of patriotism in flag-waving citizens on national holidays.

Honestly, I couldn’t believe my eyes at the sight of the White House lit in rainbow colors celebrating with the LGBT community on the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling. Call me old-fashioned but I still believe marriage is between a man and a woman.

On the other hand, everyone deserves a shot at being happy and having equal opportunity for fame, fortune, and falling in love. I wonder when the first human/pet marriage will raise a flag and a cry for equal rights? Don’t laugh…I’ve seen some mighty good hunks of fur walking down the streets in my neighborhood! And some are patriotic, too, with small emblems of the American flag adorning their collars.

In today’s world, I see a lot of flags in various locations; i.e., Old Glory on the back of bicycles and trucks, attached to front porches and fences, adorning cemetery graves, schools and public buildings. We see state flags, world flags, religious flags, school flags, advertising flags … you name it, there’s probably a flag for it!

EXCEPT for the Confederate flag, yep, and simply because a group of politicians now consider it unsuitable for display. In the years after the Civil war, the Confederate battle flag was probably less displayed than it is today. But after World War II, it had a second life, a life associated with defiance of the Federal government and opposition to the Civil Rights and racial equality in the South. It has historical significance and should be recognized as such. Museums are most appropriate or on private property, like as background on my computer screen.

Obviously, that’s not enough for some people. I read an article by James W. Loewen who wrote, “ … de-Confederatizing the United States won’t end white supremacy, but it will be a step in that direction.”

He also stated, “the Dean of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. noted that the cathedral needs to de-Confederatize its stained glass windows.”

Loewen also believes “the Pentagon needs to de-Confederatize the Army. No more Fort A. P. Hill. No more Fort Bragg, named for a general who was not only Confederate but also incompetent. No more Fort Benning.”

And lastly, adding insult to stupidity, it’s been announced that episodes of the Dukes of Hazzard as well as their famous General Lee car have been pulled and are forbidden.

Enough already! I’m tired and disgusted with the aggressive PC society we’ve become. I shudder to imagine what could be coming next???

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

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Well, I couldn’t control myself. It happened again and now I can’t think of anything else. I’m in love again!

The object of my affection is not a person or a place; it’s a thing. I’m in love with the joy of writing and creating a new novel. My interest in writing went from being a hobby to becoming an addiction back in 2009. Good habits, as well as bad ones, are hard to break.

I’ve started another journey down a new path of adventures with the written word…but I’m facing a serious chasm and I’m reaching out for a boost across it.

Can somebody help me??

I’ve been thinking of ideas for another book and somehow the thought of “regrets” popped into my head. We all have them, including myself, but not enough of them to fill a book. Therefore, I’m looking to add stories from others about their personal regrets, more specifically their BIGGEST – something they regret having done AND something that they regret NOT having done.

I thought it would be interesting to see if there is a common “regret” among a group of different people. Ask your friends if they’d like to participate, too. The more contributions I can get, the more interesting I think the book could be.

Of course, entries can be kept anonymous if someone doesn’t want to “admit” a regret to the world, if and when the book is published, but nameless or not, I will still need your permission to use the story in my book. I regret having to say there is no monetary compensation for your entries.

If you’d like to help, please volunteer your biggest regret in life. Send your contribution to me via this email address: … and if you feel the ground shake, it’s me doing a huge dance of joy!!

Many thanks and may the future highways we travel be lined with green lights, pleasant memories and far fewer regrets to recount.

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Hi Everyone!

We all know how easy it is to get caught up in this month-long frenzy of buying, rushing, decorating and partying. There are commercials on TV with colorful advertisements of all the latest toys, clothing styles, sports items and technical gadgets. Children and adults get caught up in this craving for things, and we went them now!

Five-year old boy named Barry stood in line with his father at the checkout counter in a department store. He asked his father, “Can I have that?” referring to a toy that was on display. Dad said, “Christmas is a month away. You’ll have to ask Santa.” Barry replied, “I know a quicker way. I’ll ask Grandma.” Little Barry has already bought into the instant gratification of our culture.

And when the Christmas season ends, how do we usually feel? Often, we have the post-Christmas blues and are utterly worn out. We must take down the tree, send the decorations back to the attic and contemplate bills that we must face in January.

I believe there is one character in the original Christmas event with whom we can identify – the Bethlehem innkeeper. Usually in Christmas plays, the Bethlehem innkeeper is cast as something of a villain and an excluder. There is no reason to believe that he was a bad guy at all. He was just busy, taking care of his customers, making change in various currencies, and keeping peace among the many quests. Privacy was minimal and I’m sure there were some guests that snored. The tragedy is that when the most important birth in human history took place in his backyard, he missed it entirely. Not because he was bad, he was just too busy.

We, too, are busy because of all the cleaning, cooking, writing Christmas greetings, shopping, etc. the season requires. Isn’t it a shame that we buy lots of gifts that are not needed and often never used? Think of the time we spend trying to think up gifts for people who don’t need anything and those gifts are relegated to the back of closets never to see the light of day.

Want to try something different this Christmas season? Instead of an unneeded gift, why not offer a missional gift in honor of some person or family? One of the essential guidelines in the early church was “to remember the poor”.

Most likely, it’s no trouble to find a party or holiday event every night of December. Why not save a few evenings to stay at home and put a log on the fire, decorate the tree as a family, read a Christmas story with Christmas music playing in the background, bake and enjoy Christmas cookies. Take charge of your calendar. It’s okay to take time to relax and do nothing.

Think about this – many wonderful gifts are not purchased with money. These are the gifts of time and effort on behalf of others. Helping someone anonymously can be wonderful. If we don’t know a person or family with special needs this Christmas, the local VFW Chapter, Salvation Army, a church, or a school may be able to assist us.

Here’s an idea to help prevent Christmas from becoming a year-long financial hangover, set limits. Jesus received three gifts on his birthday – gold, incense, myrrh. A family I know explained it this way, “If three gifts were enough for Jesus, three should be enough for us.” These kids grew up to anticipate just three gifts on Christmas morning. Uncontrolled gift buying may be good for the economy but we can transform Christmas from a chaotic, exhausting, materialistic binge into a meaningful, peaceful, joyful celebration.

Start a new tradition this year, read the Christmas story (Luke 2:1-7) and sing “Happy Birthday, Jesus” either before or after opening the gifts, depending on the age and patience of the family members.

I offer these suggestions because the biggest enemy of Christmas is not the ACLU; it’s the cultural kidnapping of Christmas. The danger is that in the midst of all the busyness, buying and partying, people miss the real meaning of Christmas. Just like the Bethlehem innkeeper.

“Have yourself a merry little Christmas, my friends, and as my favorite Christmas song says, “Let your heart be light”.

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Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation
(from the collection of Lincoln’s papers
in the Library of America series, Vol II, pp. 520-521).

“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come. Others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations. Order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict, while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship. The axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.

Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.”
– Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation October 3, 1863

I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday:

“May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
and your pies take the prize,
and may your Thanksgiving dinner
stay off your thighs!”

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According to Albert Camus, “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”

I hope everyone enjoyed this year’s pleasant, albeit unusual summer season. Perhaps there were opportunities to vacation or to accomplish some home projects (indoors or out) that were on your “to-do” list or simply to sit on the deck, catch some rays and read a good book.

As autumn begins, don’t think for a minute that the fun times are over!

Have any special plans for Thursday, September 25, 2014??

If not, I want to invite you to the Algonquin Authors’ Fair on that day, scheduled from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m, at the Algonquin Area Public Library – Eastgate Branch, 115 Eastgate Drive, Algonquin, Illinois.

This celebration will feature 16 published writers (including myself) from our local area. Authors will read five-minute passages from one of their books that are available for sale and autographing.

Mysteries, romance, sci-fi, memoirs, free verse and fantasy will all be represented along with non-fiction and children’s books as well.

Come and interact one-on-one with us, share stories, get some insight into the publishing business, and perhaps be inspired to try writing yourself.

Mark your calendar. I’ll be looking for you and your beautiful smile!

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