Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween.

Just a few fun facts about one of my favorite holidays (from

Because the movie Halloween (1978) was on such a tight budget, they had to use the cheapest mask they could find for the character Michael Meyers, which turned out to be a William Shatner Star Trek mask. Shatner initially didn’t know the mask was in his likeness, but when he found out years later, he said he was honored.

The first Jack O’Lanterns were actually made from turnips.

Halloween is the second highest grossing commercial holiday after Christmas.

The word “witch” comes from the Old English wicce, meaning “wise woman.” In fact, wiccan were highly respected people at one time. According to popular belief, witches held one of their two main meetings, or sabbats, on Halloween night.

Fifty percent of kids prefer to receive chocolate candy for Halloween, compared with 24% who prefer non-chocolate candy and 10% who preferred gum.

The owl is a popular Halloween image. In Medieval Europe, owls were thought to be witches, and to hear an owl's call meant someone was about to die.

According to Irish legend, Jack O’Lanterns are named after a stingy man named Jack who, because he tricked the devil several times, was forbidden entrance into both heaven and hell. He was condemned to wander the Earth, waving his lantern to lead people away from their paths.

The largest pumpkin ever measured was grown by Norm Craven, who broke the world record in 1993 with a 836 lb. pumpkin.

Stephen Clarke holds the record for the world’s fastest pumpkin carving time: 24.03 seconds, smashing his previous record of 54.72 seconds. The rules of the competition state that the pumpkin must weigh less than 24 pounds and be carved in a traditional way, which requires at least eyes, nose, ears, and a mouth.

Trick-or-treating evolved from the ancient Celtic tradition of putting out treats and food to placate spirits who roamed the streets at Samhain, a sacred festival that marked the end of the Celtic calendar year.

“Souling” is a medieval Christian precursor to modern-day trick-or-treating. On Hallowmas (November 1), the poor would go door-to-door offering prayers for the dead in exchange for soul cakes.

The first known mention of trick-or-treating in print in North America occurred in 1927 in Blackie, Alberta, Canada.

Cats have a prominent place in Halloween folklore and decor.  With their link to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (a precursor to Halloween) and later to witches, cats have a permanent place in Halloween folklore. During the ancient celebration of Samhain, Druids were said to throw cats into a fire, often in wicker cages, as part of divination proceedings.

“Halloween” is short for “Hallows’ Eve” or “Hallows’ Evening,” which was the evening before All Hallows’ (sanctified or holy) Day or Hallowmas on November 1. In an effort to convert pagans, the Christian church decided that Hallowmas or All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2) should assimilate sacred pagan holidays that fell on or around October 31.

Black and orange are typically associated with Halloween. Orange is a symbol of strength and endurance and, along with brown and gold, stands for the harvest and autumn. Black is typically a symbol of death and darkness and acts as a reminder that Halloween once was a festival that marked the boundaries between life and death.

Ireland is typically believed to be the birthplace of Halloween.

Halloween has variously been called All Hallows’ Eve, Witches Night, Lamswool, Snap-Apple Night, Samhaim, and Summer’s End.

Halloween was influenced by the ancient Roman festival Pomona, which celebrated the harvest goddess of the same name. Many Halloween customs and games that feature apples (such as bobbing for apples) and nuts date from this time. In fact, in the past, Halloween has been called San-Apple Night and Nutcrack Night.

Because Protestant England did not believe in Catholic saints, the rituals traditionally associated with Hallowmas (or Halloween) became associated with Guy Fawkes Night. England declared November 5th Guy Fawkes Night to commemorate the capture and execution of Guy Fawkes, who co-conspired to blow up the Parliament in 1605 in order to restore a Catholic king.

Harry Houdini (1874-1926) was one of the most famous and mysterious magicians who ever lived. Strangely enough, he died in 1926 on Halloween night as a result of appendicitis brought on by three stomach punches.

Looking in a mirror at midnight on Halloween was thought to reveal a boyfriend's face
Scottish girls believed they could see images of their future husband if they hung wet sheets in front of the fire on Halloween. Other girls believed they would see their boyfriend’s faces if they looked into mirrors while walking downstairs at midnight on Halloween.

According to tradition, if a person wears his or her clothes inside out and then walks backwards on Halloween, he or she will see a witch at midnight.

Mexico celebrates the Days of the Dead (Días de los Muertos) on the Christian holidays All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2) instead of Halloween. The townspeople dress up like ghouls and parade down the street.

During the pre-Halloween celebration of Samhain, bonfires were lit to ensure the sun would return after the long, hard winter. Often Druid priests would throw the bones of cattle into the flames and, hence, “bone fire” became “bonfire.”

Dressing up as ghouls and other spooks originated from the ancient Celtic tradition of townspeople disguising themselves as demons and spirits. The Celts believed that disguising themselves this way would allow them to escape the notice of the real spirits wandering the streets during Samhain.

The National Retail Federation expects consumers in 2010 to spend $66.28 per person—which would be a total of approximately $5.8 billion—on Halloween costumes, cards, and candy. That’s up from $56.31 in 2009 and brings spending back to 2008 levels.[3]

In 1970, a five-year-old boy Kevin Toston allegedly ate Halloween candy laced with heroin. Investigators later discovered the heroin belonged to the boy’s uncle and was not intended for a Halloween candy.

In 1974, eight-year-old Timothy O’Bryan died of cyanide poisoning after eating Halloween candy. Investigators later learned that his father had taken out a $20,000 life insurance policy on each of his children and that he had poisoned his own son and also attempted to poison his daughter.

According to the National Retail Federation, 40.1% of those surveyed plan to wear a Halloween costume in 2010. In 2009, it was 33.4%. Thirty-three percent will throw or attend a party.

In 2010, 72.2% of those surveyed by the National Retail Federation will hand out candy, 46.3% will carve a pumpkin, 20.8% will visit a haunted house, and 11.5% will dress up their pets.

Halloween is thought to have originated around 4000 B.C., which means Halloween has been around for over 6,000 years.

Teng Chieh or the Lantern Festival is one Halloween festival in China. Lanterns shaped like dragons and other animals are hung around houses and streets to help guide the spirits back to their earthly homes. To honor their deceased loved ones, family members leave food and water by the portraits of their ancestors.

Halloween celebrations in Hong Kong are known as Yue Lan or the “Festival of the Hungry Ghosts” during which fires are lit and food and gifts are offered to placate potentially angry ghosts who might be looking for revenge.

Both Salem, Massachusetts, and Anoka, Minnesota, are the self-proclaimed Halloween capitals of the world.

Comedian John Evans once quipped: “What do you get if you divide the circumference of a jack-o’-lantern by its diameter? Pumpkin π.”

The Village Halloween parade in New York City is the largest Halloween parade in the United States. The parade includes 50,000 participants and draws over 2 million spectators.
 And finally, here is this year’s jack-o-snake-gourd from the Kuhn garden.

Carpe Halloween,
David Kuhn

Monday, October 29, 2018


  “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.  I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life . . ." 

Henry David Thoreau

 What he said.  And, to participate in our blackpowder  club's Fall Rendezvous.

 Here's the old man (me) loading his muzzleloader.
And, just for fun, a shot of Andrew D. making fire with flint and steel.

Have a great week (We're waiting for a team of plumbers to come out and, hopefully, finally fix our backup problem).

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Friday, October 26, 2018

Problems Welcome; Bring Solutions!

 A vice-president of a large corporation I worked at years ago had a sign on his door that read, "Problems welcome; Bring solutions!"  He was basically in charge of solving problems, but he wanted you to have carefully vet out the problem and offer possible solutions -- not just complain about it.

In that spirit, here's my solution to the "caravan" that's peacefully approaching our border and asking politely if they can come in (or storming the castle walls -- depending on which news channel your watch):

Step 1) Hold a special election with a simple, one-question ballot: "Do you believe that the individuals in the caravan should be allowed into the United States?"  Vote Yes or No.

Step 2) All those who voted "NO" will be given a bold red, white, and blue "I voted today" sticker. 

Step 3) Congratulations to all those who voted "YES"!  All those who voted "YES" will be visited by a U.S. Government Agency and their home(s) assessed.  That agency will determine how many rooms you have in your home that are not being occupied.  Obviously, you get to keep your bedroom and any bedrooms the rest of your family is using, but the rest of the rooms will be set up for your new friends that you voted to come to stay with you -- say, four friends per room. 

Step 4)  Churches will also be assessed and new friends dropped off for you to host (if you choose not to participate, you will lose your tax-exempt status).  TV networks, radio stations, newspapers, magazines, etc.  that editorialize about how unfair it is for keeping these folks out will also be receiving a few busloads. 

Step 5)  You will pay for shelter, clothing, food, and health.  You'll also be responsible for finding them work, and working with them to legally become U.S. Citizens.  For these service you will receive no tax write-offs, no aid, no anything.  Just a good feeling that you're making the U.S. and the world a better place.

Step 6) If one of your friends commits a crime, YOU are an accessory to that crime.  You may have to serve some jail time, but the good news is that it frees up a room in your home for more from the caravan.

Step 7)  Each time you successfully release one of your friends into the U.S. as legal U.S. Citizens, you will be assigned new friends until there just aren't anymore. 

- - -

So, there you have it.  My solution to the "caravan" problem. 

Ready to vote?

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

P.S.  The vice-president I spoke of earlier was fired after everyone realized that he himself never offered any solutions of his own.  Sort of sounds like a lot of talking heads on TV these days.  Just sayin'.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

We have not inherited the earth . . .

 Suzanne and I stepped back in time Saturday to Perry County, Indiana.
 The Shubael Little Pioneer Village is dedicated to the preservation of Perry County History through the collection of 3-Dimensional Artifacts, cabins, and documents. The site is being developed and maintained so that present and future generations may appreciate, understand, and learn from the past.
So true.

The village is located in the rolling hills of Southern Perry County, near the Ohio River, at 7590 East State Road 66, Cannelton, Indiana, 47520. The village is 1/4th mile north of Rocky Point.  Check out their website or Facebook page for special events.  Well worth the drive.

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Woke up alive today


Here's a quick "poem" I culled from bits and parts of other works that were swimming in my brain:

Woke up alive today
Damn fine way to start the day
Rinsed my dreams away
Cleansed away yesterday
Woke up alive today

Woke up alive today
Washed delusions from my eyes
On the lookout for blessings
Both overt and in disguise

Woke up alive today
Each moment a new event
There is no wealth, but life
A holy present

The path may be crooked
Wretched mysteries around each curve
It’s true that I may not have all I want
I’m just thankful . . .
I don’t get all that I deserve

Woke up alive today

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Monday, October 22, 2018

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Sometimes, you can tell a lot by how a story is going to progress and end by the opening line.  For example, stories that begin, “Once upon a time . . . “ usually have a fairy book ending.  On the other hand, stories that being, “We thought it would be a good idea to . . .” end, well, read on.

It was a gorgeous Autumn day, so we thought it would be a good idea to wash curtains and clean windows.  To knock the chill off the house we kicked up the heat a little.  That’s when the smoke alarm went off.  The perfume of burning plastic hit us.  We quickly shut down the heater and quickly assessed the situation.  After a thorough search, we found no flames or smoke.  We figured that it might just be the first time the heater was on for the season.  We hope.

Next, curtains.  Took them down and loaded the washing mashing.  Those of you who actually read this blog might remember that this is a NEW machine because of a fiasco early this year (spoiler alert, the machine performed perfectly — this time).

Windows.  These are those tilt-in, easy to clean replacement windows.  And they are tilt-in. And they are easy to clean.  And they will shatter if, while closing one, the one next to it tilts wide open and crashes against the wall.  The sound of a shattering glass explosion is unmistakable.  Suzanne rushed in to witness the carnage.  Thankfully, no injuries.

 So, while Suzanne went upstairs to find the paperwork on the replacement windows, I went to the closet to get a broom.  That’s when I walked past the downstairs bathroom and noticed the toilet overflowing — really overflowing.  I mean really, really overflowing.  Seems that the gallons and gallons of water exiting the washing machine was backing up and out the toilet.  TOWELS! (A problem that we’ve had multiple times through the years — usually on a holiday when family is in and someone is in the shower.)
Have you ever had to call a plumber on Sunday overtime?  I’m not going to say that it’s expensive, but when people try to tell you how expensive something is they use the metaphor, “As expensive as a plumber on Sundays.”

Anyway, Chuck — a very nice guy and seemed to really know his shit — pulled the toilet, brought in some heavy equipment and cleaned out the drain.  At least for now.  “You really need to get someone back to dig that pipe up and see what’s going on!” says Chuck and he drives off into the sunset to live happily ever after.

Suzanne finished the curtains at the laundry mat.  I finished washer a few more windows without incident and spent an extra amount of time cleaning the bathroom floor because, well, you know.
So, no.  This is not one of those, “Once upon a time . . .” stories.  At least not yet.  Window company is on the way out to take a look and the plumber has a ticket in and I need to set up an appointment to have some major work down to fix this crappy plumbing problem once and for all.

This blog started with, “It seemed like a good idea . . . “  In the future when I write about our home maintenance issues, I may use author Lemony Snicket’s line from A Series of Unfortunate Events:
“If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book.”

So, how was your weekend?

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

I good exercise in Care Diem, ADPIE, Serenity-Courage-Wisdom . . .

Monday, October 15, 2018


Years ago I took an emergency responder course and am certified by the county and local fire department to be an asset in case of an emergency --  tornado, earthquake, flood, etc.  I suppose I just wanted to know that I was, in some small way, an asset to the community.  (No, a pat-on-the-back tool was not included in the kit.) 

Though I've never been activated into the field, events such as hurricane Michael remind me that I am at least somewhat prepared to help. 

There are a lot of acronyms in the emergency response and medical fields, including ADPIE. 

The process has 5 steps: assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation. These steps are detailed phases with their own set of actions designed to streamline victim/patient care. As the process is always ongoing, there is no set amount of time for any step to begin or be completed.

It actually fits nicely into the Carpe diem Life acronym because it can be a pretty good tool for ANY problem you're facing. 

So, trying to tie together a few ideas I've written about lately, here's one way the whole process could flow:

Serenity to accept the things you cannot change.  )If you recognize this right off the bat it will save a lot of grief.)
Courage to change what you can.
Wisdom to know the difference. 


Choose to change.       
                        Assess the situation.
                        Diagnose the root causes of the problem
                        Plan Solution
Action List               
Persistent Action
                        Evaluate Progress
Evaluate and
Direction Change if needed and seek continually to
Enjoy the process because ultimately it's
My Responsibility and my


So, there you have it, the "Serenity, Courage, Wisdom, ADPIE, Carpe diem LIFE Problem Solving Flow Chart" (presented in the most convoluted way possible). 

Just a word of advice:  If you're standing in the middle of the road and see an on-coming truck about to run you over and you think to yourself, "I seem to have a problem!" don't stop and go through each step.  RUN LIKE HELL!

Just a few thoughts to chew on this week. 

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Wednesday, October 10, 2018


I came across an interesting word yesterday:  Vanitas. 

First, it reminded me of Sydney Harris.  Harris was a journalist for the Chicago Daily News and, later, the Chicago Sun-Times. He wrote 11 books and his weekday column, “Strictly Personal,” was syndicated in approximately 200 newspapers.  Every once in a while he'd write a column called "Things I Learned While Looking Up Other Things."   Just a purging of random facts he had discovered while researching other articles (and probably a fall-back when he had occasional writer's block.

Anyway, back to today's "has nothing to do with Carpe diem -- or does it?" blog.

Definition of Vanitas, (Latin: “vanity”) in art, a genre of still-life painting that flourished in the Netherlands in the early 17th century. A vanitas painting contains collections of objects symbolic of the inevitability of death and the transience and vanity of earthly achievements and pleasures; it exhorts the viewer to consider mortality and to repent.

The vanitas evolved from simple pictures of skulls and other symbols of death and transience.  Curiously to me, they were frequently painted on the reverse sides of portraits during the late Renaissance. 

Later, It had acquired an independent status and become its own popular genre that included certain standard elements:

Symbols of arts and sciences (books, maps, and musical instruments) Wealth and power (purses, jewelry, gold objects)
Earthly pleasures (goblets, pipes, and playing cards)
Death or transience (skulls, clocks, burning candles, soap bubbles, and flowers)
Sometimes, symbols of resurrection and eternal life (ears of corn or sprigs of ivy or laurel

 How cool is that?

And, a quick image search on the web-thing shows that the genre continues today.  

I'll leave you with this for the next week; I'm off to ponder the meaning of life and Vanitas.

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Fairy Rings

 They’ve been spotted — at least evidence of them.  Them?  Fairies, elves, pixies.  They’re real and they’ve been dancing and playing around our neighborhood.  Of course, I haven’t seen them in person as I don’t want to disturb them and risk getting caught up in their magic.

Here is the proof:

Top photo borrowed off the internet; bottom photo borrowed from Ann Taylor's Facebook page (who lives in the next neighborhood). 

These fairy rings, which scientist say occur naturally (but I know better), usually pop up in fields, lawns, or forests this time of wet year.  They live off decaying organic matter in the soil.
Disclaimer:  Many poisonous mushrooms can look very similar to edible ones. Don’t take a chance and eat one (Of course, consuming the “right ones” will increase your chance of seeing fairies, elves, pixies . . .  and god knows what else). 

Cool weather is finally going to arrive this week.  Take the time to get out and explore.  Perhaps you’ll discover your own fairy ring — just don’t get caught up in their magic.  Or, if you do, report back and share your story.

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Monday, October 8, 2018

Unicorn Dreams

My granddaughter turned seven last week.  Lots of birthday parties with a uniform theme.  Lots of presents.  Perhaps her most precious present, surprisingly to many people, is her first journal.  A real journal with a unicorn cover.  A real journal -- with a lock!

After all the presents were opened at the Kuhn get-together, she immediately took her journal, picked out a beautiful color from her new gel pen set, and went off to a corner to secretly write.  And later, I spied her off to the side of the gathering just observing everything, then thoughtfully penning something in her private journal. 

It's hard to believe that there are children in this day and age that want to write.  After all, there are so many forces pitched against writing. 

But I think writing, as Mark Edmundson writes, is a meditation;  "Writing is as close as some of us can come to prayer; writing is a way of being, righteously, in the world."

When one writes, wonders can pour out.  Is it good?  Is it bad?  I don't know.  All I know is that it simply is.  It is.  It is and my seven-year-old is now doing it. 

Thanks to a unicorn journal with a real lock!

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Rinse away dreams

 My 3-year old grandson loves waterfalls.  So do I.  Even little ones in streams. 

Image from:

I was reminded of all this today when I read a line from Tao Meditations:
Rinse away dreams.

Rinse away dreams? 

First, let's put the two together (waterfalls and dreams) and see what we get.  According to one "meaning of dreams" website:  Waterfall dreams are overwhelmingly positive dreams, waterfalls symbolize rebirth, baptism, and initiation. Waterfall dreams herald a time of purification, a period of washing away the old and allowing vibrant new energy, enthusiasm, and information to enter the mind and body, filling the soul with inspiration and renewal.

Wow.  I never thought of it before, but that's exactly what I feel when I stop and stare at a waterfall.

Now to the Tao study:

Rinsing away dreams is a way of saying that we must not only dispell the illusions and anxieties of our sleeping moments but those of our walking ones as well.  All of life is a dream.  Not because it isn't there, but because we all project different meanings upon it.  We must cleanse away this habit.

Admittedly, I don't really understand what all that means.   Something about cleansing away obscuring layers to reach the inner One -- the divine.

That's not a bad thing to "dream" about.

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Monday, October 1, 2018

When life gives you . . .

You know the old saying, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade"?

But, last night, as I was paddling around a lake in southern Indiana, I didn't come across any lemons.  I did, however, come across dozens and dozens of persimmon trees growing and hanging over the water.  Mine for the taking.  Only thing was, what to do with them.
 Shot Suzanne took last night as I was out paddling.

My wife tried to make persimmon bread one time.  As I remember it, a LOT of hassle.  But, the end result was delicious.  According to one website, it's too bad Americans aren't more familiar with persimmons since the Latin word for it means “food of the gods.”  Persimmon is Japan's national fruit and that's where it originated (American persimmons are mostly ornamental).
(photo stolen off internet)

Persimmon seeds first came to the United States when Commodore Perry sent them from Japan in 1856. Today, persimmons are grown in a plethora of varieties in China, Burma, Northern India, and Australia; in the US, it grows in Southern and Southwestern states, predominantly California. -- and in Lynnville, Indiana.  I know that they are there; just an awsome surprise when I paddle up to one.

And, it turns out that there are a lot of delicious recipes for persimmons, from power bars to cookies, bread, pudding, and even salads. 

So, when life gives you persimmons (or you purchase them at the grocery), make  . . .

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn