I am sure that over the years much has changed in China when Halloween comes swooping in. Unfortunately I believe it is most likely not for the good. Western celebrations, if we count Halloween as a celebration, do tend to be carried out to a level of craziness I have not seen at home. The following is the story of why I will never offer to do anything for the day unless I am either paid exceedingly well or have helpers chained to me to do my bidding – preferably both.
My daughter likes Halloween so I did a bit of decorating
The day was October 31, 2001, Xin Cun, Guangdong, China. Halloween 🎃. I have a vague memory of a white pumpkin, or possibly it was green. The following are from the crypt archives. Cue the spooky music – I think I played Monster Bash first. Sadly, no pictures were taken. I hope everyone has a marvellously crazy Halloween! Time to read the Monkey’s Paw again.
It was indeed a Monster Bash! 500 students is a lot. We set up three stations with apples hanging from poles to have apple bobbing which meant everyone was sitting in a large three deep circle. I put candles at each station, we had some “scary”music, turned out the lights and told a scary story.This meant reading by candlelight. To this day I am surprised there was not a fire!After eachsentence, read slowly and with what I hope was arelatively spooky voice, another teacher translated. Like the mists of October much most likely went over their heads but the translations had enough of the creepiness that students listened.
Iwalked around the room – a good size auditorium- and would approach a student to emphasize things. My two younger daughters wandered behind the students and would say BOOOO! every now and then. Great spookyeffects.After that things were a bit crazy! My juniorstudents were the ones most interested in doing applebobbing. My youngest would try to pick students from different classes but they were mostly unwilling. Wehad about 200 students try bobbing for apples then Ihanded out the remaining apples. It is no small feat to tie up a couple hundred apples!
Unfortunately none of the teachers “helping” actuallyhelped! This meant I had to keep telling the students to sitdown before I would give them anything. The candy wasanother story!!! One of my daughters was so incensed at how rude, in her view, everyone was and lost her voice from yelling at them! One would think these kids did not getfed.I swore that if I ever do anything like that again I will insist onhaving more time in the one day and doing each class separately.
I already knew that was possible after putting on a great Halloween party I with other English teachers at a different school a year or so earlier. We even had a moving, talking mummy! (We wrapped my youngest up in toilet paper, she was laid out on a table and would rise when given the cue. As each class came in separately through one door then out the other end there was no chance of warning other students. That was a major success.
Originally I was going to do things in each classroombut that would have meant two or three days ofHalloween! I had 7 classes, each 40 mins. I reallydidn’t want to take that long for what is supposed to be a one day activity and settingit up would have been a logistical nightmare.
It seems writing pieces of my epic Atlantic trip are not flowing off the pen as easily (or flying across the keyboard) ad my past trips. Rather than force anything I am taking a break – sort of. I am working again. Lots of feelings on that note. Which is why I started taking photos of things that were my bright spots of the day. Here are my discoveries at the College campus where I work.
“The design incorporates three cedar elements: the sun, the blue heron and the salmon, floating on aluminum waves.” Carved by Tsawout artist and alum Douglas (Bear) Horne.
I have also discovered towering sunflowers, an edible garden that I always stop at on my way to work to smell the rosemary, and working in a space on my own. These are a few of my bright spots.
I found it was far too difficult to keep up a Blog when moving from one place to another every day or so. Rather than take away from enjoying the trip in real time I decided to attempt to capture the memories in chapters, or categories. Naturally an important part of travel is the food. The following is a sampling.
My favourite meals ended up being our picnics. Whether on the beach, in a stopover, a park, or even in one of our rooms, these were opportunities to enjoy spending time together mostly unplugged (although our phones were with us for taking photos my daughter and I managed to ignore them unless messages from a very limited list). My only hoped for stop will be to my favourite coffee shop, Crave, in Kingston. I have no idea if we can sit inside, or if there is a patio. The plan is to go with my grandson. Then I fly home a couple of days later. Next chapter: lighthouses (probably).
Whoever said ’getting there is half the fun’ did not travel during a pandemic! It appears my great planning to get to the airport in plenty of time flew out the window. There are not any city buses to get me there in time. Shuttles remain shutdown. I did seriously consider getting a hotel room in Sidney the night before then a morning taxi. Pricey.
“Please arrive at the airport a minimum of 2 hours prior to your scheduled departure to account for additional processing times. Find up-to-the moment safety information, COVID testing updates and more at westjet.com/safety.”
Look at what was in my email today. 2 hours! My flight is only 4 1/2 hours. It takes about 35 minutes from where I live to the airport depending on traffic. All I can do is hope everyone does not head out at the same time. I changed my taxi from home for earlier.
Seems my silly daughter decided I should be a lady of leisure, and navigator – she did not put me on the car lease. She said it will cost an extra $10.00 per day. She knows I am perfectly capable of long and windy roads but maybe my very recently diagnosed moderate to severe carpal tunnel syndrome played a factor in that decision.
In exactly one week I will be on the city bus heading to the airport to wing my way to Ottawa where I will meet my eldest daughter to drive to Montréal where we will stay for two nights before wending our way to New Brunswick. (NB) This is my first trip off the island, or even beyond my area for two years. I am excited, anxious, and worried. I have also been making lots and lots of lists.
Why now and why the Atlantic? Especially now? First, my daughter and her husband have been posted to England. I have not seen them, nor my grandson, nor her sister and my other SIL, since this time in 2019. Which, as we all know has been an issue for so many people. When it finally became possible to travel, and finally having dates that worked for everyone I waited with bated breath before finally getting flights booked.
Second, New Brunswick is where my third daughter lives, in her sister and BIL’s house while they are in England. We decided to make this an epic trip. Nearly three weeks of visiting family and friends and places we would otherwise possibly not see for even longer. NB, PEI and Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia (NS) are in our plans.
Back to excited, anxious and worried. Excited to see everyone. Anxious because I will be flying – not an unusual feeling even without a pandemic. (I know many people try to avoid mentioning the whole thing but it’s part of life as we know it right now so meet it head one in order to mitigate any problems) we have to fill out forms, go through inspections, maybe even testing for PEI, and NS. Finally, yes, I am worried. Infections are rising again despite high (81%+) first vaccine and second (close to 70%) in my province. Also in other areas. Everything can pivot from one day to the next. Everything can pivot for many reasons. My hope is that if nothing else I will see my daughters. Meanwhile, I am ready.
I haven’t ventured too far lately which has meant few opportunities for discoveries of any kind. Rain was one reason. Lack of incentive beyond just walking was the other. I did go to a bookstore with my daughter the other day. I think we may have a problem. A good way to while away those rainy day blues when not out discovering new growth and idling monsters. Better than running across bears.