Welcome to Awakenings

Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Witching Hours

With tonight being the eve of Halloween, it's time to finish gearing up and get ready for the witching hours. Each year Awakenings features the writings of Micki Peluso, author of ...And the Whippoorwill Sang. Read more on Micki at the end of the article.

How much do you know about Halloween?

This is a story of the origins of Halloween from olden times up to the present.

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Photo Credit: photobucket.com
Strange shadows dart stealthily across sparely lit streets, as dusk settles heavily on quiet neighborhoods of tree-lined sidewalks and cheerful well-kept homes. The eerie scream of a screechowl, more likely the brakes of a passing car, echoes deep into the night. Looming ominously from nearly every window is the menacing glare of smirking Jack-o-lanterns, while the often nervous refrain of "Trick or Treat" rings out in repetitious peals. Halloween is here, and with it the shivery remembrance of things that go bump in the night.

, a holiday once favored second to Christmas, is not as much fun as it used to be. The last few Halloweens have brought tampering scares, such as finding razors in apples and poisoned candy. A sick segment of society has forced many parents to hold neighborhood parties, instead of allowing their children to trick or treat. The tricks have been turned on the children, ruining an a once magical evening.

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Photo Credit: photobucket.com
Gone are the days when children, dressed up hideously, or gaudily beautiful, could enter the home of a stranger, and be offered chilled apple cider with cinnamon stick straws, and homemade gingerbread, or cupcakes with orange icing and candy corn faces. No longer can mischievous children creep up on neighborhood porches to toss corn kernels against the front door, or generously soap window panes, without triggering house alarms and angering guard dogs kept behind locked fences. The mystical lure of Halloween is becoming a commercial enterprise for the sale of candy, costumes and decorations.
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Photo Credit: photobucket.com

Halloween is a Christian name meaning All Hallows, or All Saint's Day, but the custom of Halloween dates back to the Celtic cult in Northern Europe. As the Roman conquest pushed north, the Latin festival of the harvest god, Pomona, mingled with the Druid god, Samhain. Eventually, the Christians adopted the Celtic rites into their own observances.
Halloween signified the return of the herds from the pasture, renewal of laws and land tenures, and the practice of divinations with the dead, presumed to visit their homes on this day. For both the Celts and the Anglo-Saxons, Halloween marked the eve of a new year. The Britains were convinced that divinations concerning health, death and luck, were most auspicious on Halloween. The devil, himself, was evoked for such purposes.

The Druid year began on November first, and on the eve of that day, the lord of death gathered the souls of the dead who had been condemned to enter the body of animals to decide what form they should take for the upcoming year; the souls of the good entered the body of another human at death. The Druids considered cats to be sacred, believing these animals had once been human, changed into cats as punishment for evil deeds.

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Photo Credit: photobucket.com
The Druid cults were outlawed by the Romans during their reign in Great Britain, but the Celtic rites have survived, in part, to the present day. By the time these ancient rites migrated to America, the mystic significance was lost, and all that has remained is an evening when children can dress in outrageous costumes, and collect candy from obliging neighbors; yet a tiny part of every child still believes in witches, ghosts, and the nameless entities that creep about on Halloween, relatives, to their young minds, of the monster that lives under every child's bed.

In the ancient days, it was believed that Halloween was the night chosen by witches and ghosts to freely roam, causing mischief and harm. Witchcraft existed before biblical times, believed in by ancient Egyptians, Romans and American Indians. The Christian Church held varying opinions on witchcraft, at one time accrediting it to be an illusion, later accepting it as a form of alliance with the devil. As late as 1768, disbelief in witchcraft was regarded as proof of atheism.

Halloween customs varied from country to country, but all were related to the Celtic rites. Immigrants to this country, particularly the Scotch and Irish, introduced some of the customs remaining today, but there were many more that are unfamiliar. On Halloween in Scotland, women sowed hemp seed into plowed land at midnight, repeating the formula: "Hemp seed I sow, who will my husband be, let him come and mow." Looking over her left shoulder, a woman might see her future mate.

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Photo Credit: photobucket.com
Apples and a six-pence were put into a tub of water, and whoever succeeded in extracting either of them with his mouth, but without using his teeth, was guaranteed a lucky year. In the highlands of Scotland in the 18th century, families would march about their fields on Halloweem, walking from right to left, with lighted torches, believing this would assure good crops. In other parts of Scotland, witches were accused of stealing milk and harming cattle. Boys took peat torches and carried them across the fields, from left to right(widdershins), in an effort to scare the witches away.

The Scots strongly believed in fairies. If a man took a three-legged stool to an intersection of three roads, and sat on it at midnight, he might hear the names of the people destined to die in the coming year. However, if he tossed a garment to the fairies, they would happily revoke the death sentence.

Scotland's witches held a party on Halloween. Seemingly ordinary women, who had sold their souls to the devil, put sticks, supposedly smeared with the fat of murdered babies, into their beds. These sticks were said to change into the likenesses of the women, and fly up the chimney on broomsticks, attended by black cats, the witchs' familiars.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia
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In Ireland, a meal of callcannon, consisting of mashed potatoes, onions and parsnips, was solemnly served on Halloween. Stirred into this concoction, was a ring, a thimble, a coin, and a doll. The finder of the ring would marry soon, the finder of the doll would have many children, the thimble finder would never marry, and the one fortunate enough to find the coin would be rich. Jack-o-lanterns originated from Ireland, where according to newspaper editor and writer, George William Douglas, "a stingy man named Jack was barred from Heaven because of his penuriousness, and forbidden to enter Hell because of his practical jokes on the devil, thus condemned to walk the earth with his lantern until Judgement Day."

A more serious custom was the holding of the General Assembly (Freig) at Tara, in Celtic Ireland, celebrated every three years and lasting two weeks. Human sacrifices to the gods opened the ceremonies, the victims going up in flames.

England borrowed many of the Scotch and Irish customs, adding them to their own. Young people bobbed for apples, tied a lighted candle to one end of a stick and an apple to the other. The stick was suspended and set spinning, the object of the game being to bite the apple without getting burned by the candle. This custom was a relic of the fires lighted on the eve of Samhain in the ancient days of the Celts.

The only customs bearing no relation to the ancient rites is the masquerade costumes of today, and Halloween parades. But the custom of masked children asking for treats comes from the seventeenth century, when Irish peasants begged for money to buy luxuries for the feast of St. Columba,a sixth century priest, who founded a monastery off the coast of Scotland.

From the north of England comes the activity known as "mischief night", marked by shenanigans with no particular purpose, or background. Boys and young men overturned sheds, broke windows, and damaged property. Mischief night prevails today, but is mostly limited to throwing eggs, smashing pumpkins, and lathering carswith shaving cream. The custom of trick or treat is observed mainly by small children, going from house to house. The treat is almost always given, and the trick rarely played, except by teenagers, who view Halloween as an excuse to deviate from acceptable behavior.

Children today, knowing little or nothing of the history and myths behind Halloween, still get exited over the prospect of acting out their fantasies of becoming a witch, ghost, devil, or pirate. It is still pleasurable for an adult, remembering Halloweens past, to see the glow on a child's face as he removes his mask and assures you that he's not really a skeleton. Watching the wide-eyed stares of young children warily observing flickering candle-lit pumpkins, is an assurance that even today, thousands of years beyond the witch and ghost-ridden days of the Druids, a little of the magic of Halloween remains. Children need a little magic to become creative adults; adults need a little magic to keep the child in them alive. So if, on this Halloween, you notice a black cat slink past your door, trailing behind a horde of make-believe goblins, it probably belongs to a neighbor. And the dark shadow whisking across the face of a nearly full moon is only the wisp of a cloud, not a witch riding a broom... probably.

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By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
Open, locks,
Whoever knocks!


Happy Halloween, my pretties!

'Dipped' Apples

October is... rapidly nearing its last day, which will end in celebration of Halloween. Throughout the month apples have been at the center of attention since October is National Apple Month and apples are APPle, AppLE, APPLE-licious! Of all the apple celebrations, one in particular stands out during local fall festivals and is a must for Halloween.

October 31 is...

National Candy Apple Day

"Almost all wild apples are handsome. They cannot be too gnarly and crabbed and rusty to look at. The gnarliest will have some redeeming traits even to the eye." -- Henry David Thoreau, Wild Apples

Candy apples are made by coating an apple with a layer of sugar heated to hard crack stage. The most common sugar coating is made from sugar (white or brown), corn syrup, water, cinnamon and red food coloring. A variation on the red candy apple is the caramel apple. Then, with the holiday right around the corner, decorated Halloween candy apples fit the scene most appropriately.

Halloween Treats & Desserts (Recipes)

A Bit of Candy Apple History...

http://www.womansday.com/food-recipes/cooking-tips-shortcuts/how-to-eat-a-candy-appleAmerican William W. Kolb, a veteran Newark candy-maker, produced his first batch of candied apples in 1908. While experimenting in his candy shop with red cinnamon candy for the Christmas trade, he dipped some apples into the mixture and put them in the windows for display. He sold the whole first batch for 5 cents each and later sold thousands yearly. Soon candied apples were being sold along the Jersey Shore, at the circus and in candy shops across the country, according to the Newark News in 1948. Source: en.wikipedia.org
Candy Apples (Recipe)


Candy apples are not limited just to on-a-stick treats...

Caramel Apple Cheesecake (Recipe)

Caramel Apple Cupcakes (Recipe)

Candy Apple Cookies (Recipe)

Happy Halloween!

Even the candy apple has the apple as it core!

Is your mouth watering yet?

Next on the Calendar...Stay tuned!

Appalachian Spring

Today in Music History: October 30, 1944

The film industry yields entertainment by bringing stories to life on the silver screen: intriguing, mysterious, adventurous, romantic, futuristic, historical - war and peace, family, drama, comedy, even horror. Each different genre demands its own kind of music accompaniment to make it complete. Otherwise, we would still be reigning in the days of silent films! The same goes for Broadway and the ballet. Each performance is accompanied by appropriate orchestral arrangements. Today's spotlight shines on a visionary composer from the 40s often referred to as "the Dean of American Composers."

http://www.biography.com/people/aaron-copland-9256998Aaron Copeland: an American composer, composition teacher, writer, and later in his career a conductor of his own and other American music

Aaron Copeland was a music natural. He studied piano and composition both in the United States and Europe later influencing many other great orchestral leaders. He became one of America's foremost composers of the 20th century whose influential music had a distinctive blend of classical, folk and jazz. Aaron Copeland died in 1990 at the age of 90 years old.
Copland was a renowned composer of film scores as well, working on Of Mice and Men (1939), Our Town (1940) and The North Star (1943)—receiving Academy Award nominations for all three projects. He eventually won an Oscar for The Heiress (1949). And more than a decade later, Copland composed a stark, unsettling score for the controversial Something Wild (1961). Selections from his various works would be used in TV series and commercials over the years, as well as films like Spike Lee’s He Got Game (1998). Source: Aaron Copeland Biography
Geoffrey Moull conducts members of the CBC Radio Orchestra
in a live performance of Aaron Copland's 'Appalachian Spring'
(the original chamber orchestra version for 13 instruments composed in 1944)
1944 Music that brilliantly evoked the rural American heartland made Aaron Copland famous. One such work—arguably his greatest—was the score for the ballet Appalachian Spring, which became one of the most recognizable and beloved pieces of American music ever written almost immediately following its world premiere on this day in 1944.
Though written expressly for the ballet and for only 13 instrumentalists—a limitation dictated by the size of the orchestra pit at the Library of Congress—Appalachian Spring was soon adapted into an orchestral suite, which is the form in which it became widely popular. Appalachian Spring was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1945.
"The fullest, loveliest and most deeply poetical of all his theater scores....It is, as the saying goes, a natural." ~New York Times review on Aaron Copeland's Appalachian Spring (1944)

And the music goes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times...

And the Title Goes to...

Giants won series 4-3
Game 7, Final - yesterday, 8:07 PM
Ewing M. Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri

Let's recap...

What a Series! Giants started with the lead winning 7-1 in Game 1; then, the Royals rebounded in Game 2 with a 7-2 victory resulting in a tied status (1-1). Game 3 ended with the Royals securing a second win 3-2 switching the leader. In Game 4, the Giants blew it out of the water with a score of 11-4 bringing the Series back to a tie (2-2). Makes you feel like a teeter-totter or a yo-yo definitely keeping adrenalin pumping! On to Game 5, where the tie is broken as the Giants shut out the Royals 5-0. Now, the pressure is really on. Game 6 becomes the determiner. Is it all over but the shouting for the Giants or will they be forced into a decisive Game 7? Royals clinch the win 10-0. Series tied 3-3.


As his Giants teammates closed in, third baseman Pablo Sandoval celebrated
after recording the final out in Game 7, a foul popup by the Royals’ Salvador Perez.

Orlin Wagner/Associated Press
Game 7 did not deter one bit in the excitement. No one team shut out the other as both contenders remained in full swing! It was the Giants, however, who came out on top capturing their third World Series title in the last five years with a 3-2 victory against the Kansas City Royals.
The Giants' cardpath to victory has been a little different each year, but this title was the most unconventional. How do you win a World Series with a one-man starting rotation who moonlights in middle relief in the biggest game of the season? Read MORE...
Hats off to the Royals! The royals played a stellar game against Madison Bumgarner's outstanding performance. The Royals had much on their side, including recent history: The home team had been victorious in the last nine Series Game 7s, dating to 1982. 

Be proud of the Royals and the community who supported them all season long!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pre-Halloween Sugar Rush

Nothing says Halloween better than "candy". And, no candy says Halloween better than Candy Corn! Its creamy taste is unmatched. Countless parties and Halloween trick-or-treaters will be loaded up, laden down with oodles and oodles of the deliciously sweet yellow, orange and white tiny candy morsels. It is tradition when gearing up for Halloween! Therefore, let's take a day to celebrate these mellow candies for a pre-Halloween sugar rush. Be sure to hide a bag for Halloween night!

October 30 is...

National Candy Corn Day

Ick or treat? 5 strange facts about candy corn

Did you know candy corn has been around for more than a century? In more than 100 years, its look, taste or design has never changed!

According to oral tradition, George Renninger, a candymaker at the Wunderlee Candy Company in Philadelphia, invented the revolutionary tri-color candy in the 1880s.  It was made to mimic a kernel of corn and became instantly popular because of its innovative design. It was one of the first candies to feature three different colors! The Goelitz Confectionery Company brought the candy to the masses at the turn of the 20th century. The company, now called Jelly Belly Candy Co., has the longest history in the industry of making candy corn -- although the method has changed, it still uses the original recipe.

Today, candy corn is a favorite American treat to enjoy during the Halloween season. The National Confectioners Association estimates that 20 million pounds of candy corn are sold annually. Grab a handful to celebrate National Candy Corn Day!

Recipe of the Day...


You may even want to make your own candy corn...


October 30 is...Buy a Doughnut Day! 

To continue the pre-Halloween sugar rush, October 30 is also Buy a Doughnut Day! Buy a dozen and take it to the office for mid-morning break! Or, even better bake or deep fry your own ring-styled or cream-filled. 

Step back in time, revisit National Jelly-Filled Doughnut Day (Not your plain donut!) and National Cream-Filled Doughnut Day (Sandwich & Dessert) for ideas and recipes. Any of these can be decorated with Halloween flair!

Check with your local Krispy Kreme and/or Dunkin' Donuts in your area. There is the chance either or both of these franchises will be celebrating the holiday. A trip to their websites doesn't cost a thing to see if there are any "specials" going on.

Is your mouth watering yet?

Next on the Calendar...Stay tuned!