Unhappy Halloween. Ended up needing a root canal and crown when I went to the dentist for an overdue cleaning. The dentist's wife has some KGB blood in her veins, makes you feel criminal as soon as you walk in the office. My last visit was July 31, 2012. More vertigo? No thanks, just getting over sprained ankle and flu. Minor in the grand scheme of things, yet still annoying.

Vacuumed a downstairs room when my sister-in-law stayed over, sucking up cobwebs just before Columbus Day. Other people on the block and around town had already planted fake tombstones, fake cobwebs complete with large spiders, and an assortment of Halloween inflatables, which I find both oddly disturbing and interesting. My favorite is a ten foot tall black cat with an insane grin, tethered like a parade balloon.

We've already had the woodstove going, but today it's raining lightly and is 60 degrees, so I let the fire die down during the night. Quiet last night, no mischief-makers soaping or applying shaving cream to windows or cars, no raw eggs thrown, no trees draped with toilet paper. I like to think younger people are realizing the economy is still precarious. The price of everything is still going up. Some city is billowing with flames every day on the news.

When the kids were younger, we went on hay rides to pick pumpkins. I baked sugar cookies in the shapes of Halloween. We carved the messy pumpkins into jack 'o lanterns, baked the seeds with a sprinkling of salt. I decorated the house inside and out, made up 50 or 60 little paper bags, filled with candy for trick-or-treaters. Invariably, whatever costumes my sons had worn for weeks, usually clowns; they would decide the night before they wanted to be something else.

At school, they would have a parade and a Halloween party at lunch. Pizza! Cupcakes! Then, after dinner we would walk around the neighborhood, going to maybe 15 or 20 houses. It had yet to become the money monstrosity of today. There were no slutty fairies. Kids still collected pennies for UNICEF, a throwback to my childhood. The world is changing, oh yes, the world is changing.

Ending on a more positive note, the fall foliage is happening in what seems like slow motion, the large maple tree in front has barely turned yellow, the burning bushes (Euonymus alatas) have yet to blaze red. Perhaps we'll surprise my mother tonight, bring over food and the 1953 Houdini movie, starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, plus The Houdini Code, a film by Donna Zuckerbrot.