Friday, October 31, 2014


I don’t like Halloween.  I think I have always felt sort of negative towards the “holiday” because it seemed to me that it was not something worthy of a special designation for celebration.  It was always dark and mysterious and somehow related to the false doctrine of ghosts floating around, senselessly bothering people who had done nothing to them.

My first recollection of the day was when we lived in Logan while Dad was finishing his master’s degree.  We lived in the prefabricated married student housing, basically a roof over our heads and not much more.  One night some teenage boys knocked on our door and said what sounded to me like, “Tweet, tweet!”

Mom fished out some sort of goodies and gave it to them and they left. I asked her in my six-year old innocence what that was all about.  “Oh, they are trick-or-treating,” she said to me. 

I asked her what that meant.  She said kids go out to their neighbors’ homes, knock on the door, and say, “Trick or treat.”  You give them a treat so they won’t pull a trick on you, like putting soap on your windows.

That seemed not right to me.  What gave people the right to place a ransom, a blackmail sort of thing?

I always wondered what sort of tricks would be appropriate for someone who did give a treat.  One year I went with some friends in Sugar City, so I must have been about 6, and we knocked on a friend’s door, expecting to receive a nice treat.  Some old lady with a witch mask on her face and broom in her hand came screaming out of the house, swinging the broom, beating us on the head and shoulders until we managed to escape onto the lawn.  I still can’t figure that one out.

We lived in Rexburg, I was in about the 5th grade, and some friends invited me to come with them to gather goodies Trick-or-Treating.  My friends all had big grocery paper bags, so I took one, too, and off we went.  We actually accumulated a sizeable amount of loot and I was feeling good about the prospects of munching on the stuff for several days.  Bach then the goodies were usually things like popcorn balls or homemade fudge or a stick of gum.  If someone gave us a real candy bar, that was a luxury.

We were walking along a dimly lighted street, heading toward our next victim, when I noticed a couple of much bigger boys rising up out of the weeds along the side of the road.  They rushed noisily towards us, yelling and screaming as they came.  I froze, but two of my friends took off running for the nearest house.  These guys grabbed my paper bag, which ripped up the side, dumping all the candy on the ground.  They also took my friend Brad’s bag, and then they were gone.

Nobody was hurt, but we were mighty frightened.  We just walked back to our houses and that was the end of the night’s activity.  I think I told my mom what had happened, to which she offered some heart-felt but fatalistic condolences, and I went to bed.  The next day I went to where we had been attacked and found one little Bit-o-Honey, still in its wrapper, in the dust.  Brad had gone home and told his dad, who loaded him up in their car and drove to the crime scene, where they recovered some of what had been spilled in the attack.  I always felt that Brad’s dad must have loved him more than my dad loved me.  Silly, huh.

Over the years there have been parties at the schools to try to get the kids off the streets and out of harm’s way.  At least, that is the reason for the social activities in my own mind.  It was not so much about having a good time, because I never really had a very good time.  There were booths with grown up people acting like kids.  There were games and lots of sugary goodies, and I ate my share, but I never really felt satisfied by the result.

In Lewisville such a party was being held at the school, so I decided to go with a friend.  We walked everywhere, then.  As I was moving along the street I saw some 5th graders running towards us (we were in the fourth grade), clearly intending to make the night miserable for us.  We dashed off the road, cut through a neighbor’s yard and apple orchard, and managed to lose the attackers, while getting scratched by the branches and muddy when we slipped in the wet ditch.  I don’t think we ever got to the party.

Many years later some of the kids in our ward, mid-teen aged boys, would get in a pickup truck and ride around smashing pumpkins that people had put out on their porches or in their yards as decorations for the Halloween remembrance.  In a very unfortunate accident that night, one of the boys fell out of the back of the truck and broke his neck at about C-1.  He was rushed to the hospital, but he died anyway.  That capped my dislike of the celebrating.

My wife and I disagree about the value of the celebrating that goes on.  I decided that if we were going to give out junk to the little beggars, I would give out toothbrushes.  Often the parents would be standing back a little just out of the light from the porch.  Once in a while some little tyke would say, in disgust, “Toothbrushes!?”  The parents would say, “Yes!”  I sensed that there were others who liked the practice as little as I did.  My wife, however, would stand out there and pass out the little candy bars, for which she received glum mutterings of thanks. They act like it is a guaranteed right vouchsafed by the Constitution.

So to you who celebrate Halloween, all the best.  Tonight I will be sitting in my home with the porch light turned off.  We have not had trick-or-treaters for the past several years.  That suits me just fine, but clearly, I am in the minority.
Siegfried and Brunhilda

Monday, October 6, 2014

Autumn in Southern Idaho

I love the fall in Southern Idaho.  This is the time for football, World Series, colors in the mountains, harvest, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, cool nights, warm days, and General Conference.

BYU is not doing so well.  Taysom Hill is out for the season with a broken leg.  Utah State beat the Cougars at Provo for the first time since the Dark Ages.  Utah beat UCLA.  Boise State is not bad, but nothing to get excited about.  Baseball is in the league divisions playoffs. I am a National League fan.  I think pitchers should bat.  The leaves in the mountains are just beginning to turn colors, which is at least several days later than I remember from before our mission.  South Hills, Stanley Basin, and the Snake River Canyon are beautiful any time, but even more so this time of year.  The tomatoes are coming on well.  The deer have eaten much of the new growth on the tomato plants, which has actually helped them grow better fruit.  I wish the deer would go away, however.  We have not had a killing frost yet.  That will come soon.  The potatoes have been dug and are sitting in a big tub, waiting to be eaten.  I can't eat that many spuds.  I have some pretty carrots this year coming in colors other than the traditional orange variety.  They all taste the same, though.

We have had George and Sharon Peterson visiting us for a week.  They drove out from Ohio and came to see us first.  We went to the mountains, where it was rainy and cold, but also beautiful.  We also drove to Orem where we attended our first PRSJM reunion.  Pres and Sister Alvarado were there and it was great to see them.  We also enjoyed visiting with the young missionaries with whom we shared many experiences over 18 months in the Caribbean.  President told me that I did a good job as a missionary.  I was glad to hear him say that.

The best part is General Conference.  The messages were the right on point.  We are led by inspired men and women who have delivered the word and will of the Lord right into our home.  What a blessing to be living in a time when technology makes all this possible.  There were several messages that were very important instructions for how to live in the confused world of our day. I love Conference!
BASE jumpers going off the Perrine Bridge.  This guy is going into the water, on purpose!

Southeast of Twin Falls

Sunbeam Hot Springs by the Salmon River

Redfish Lake in Stanley Basin

Sawtooth Mountains near Stanley Idaho

Missionaries having fun

Still learning how to do a Selfie

Debbie's Special Pumpkin

Carrots from my garden

Gay and Sharon.  They think it is cold, at 55F.

Trees in South Hills near Twin Falls

In Stanley Basin

Chain-saw art

Near Redfish Lake