Friday, October 31, 2008

When October Goes

Yes, I'm out of the closet about my affinity to Barry Manilow and his music. In fact, I have been for a long time. In double fact, if you know me, you probably know that I am the proud owner of a quadruple CD set of his called "The Complete Collection and Then Some" that Graywhale actually paid me to walk out the door with some ten years ago or so. I have owned vinyl, audio cassettes, CD's and recently an mP3 of his music spanning from seventh grade to the present. But I digress.

{Photo: Quoth the Brahmie, "Nevermore."}

October is my favorite month of the year hands down. And this year in particular has been the most brilliant fall I can remember since moving to this neighborhood. The weather has been warm all month (except for the day of the pumpkin festival but that's a tradition so it doesn't count) which makes it seem like fall has lasted longer this year. Not the calendar fall, the beautiful leaves and sunny afternoon fall. Barry Manilow, Tony Bennet, Paula Cole and others have sung down the end of the season in my home this month with songs like "The Autumn Leaves", "Indian Summer" and the title of this entry, "When October Goes". Johnny Mercer wrote the music to that tune but never finished it with words. Manilow approached Mercer's widow for permission to add lyrics and make a recording. Permission was granted and the result is a wistful tune that enunciates the end of a warm, colorful season and laments the beginning of a cold and gray one. Sigh. Double sigh.

So today is the last day of the month. We went to Oliver's Halloween party at school this morning and are now washing the dishes from lunch and cleaning up for tonight's festivities. My sister Vicki and her husband come down every year to trick-or-treat around the neighborhood with us around the neighborhood. Before we head out we grab a bite to eat of the traditional "Cheesy Beef Hideaways" and fresh-pressed "apple slider" as Oliver has called it since he could talk. Then it's back to the house to examine and plunder the loot, of course. I make my anal attempts to buy off their candy with trans fats and HFCS in it then we settle in around the fire and try to stay awake as long as we possibly can before November 1st inevitable arrives.

{Photo: Here lies the body
Oliver Croft Briggs
he sucks his white fingers
like ghostly-sweet twigs.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wise As Serpents

Since Brooks and I moved out of the house, we've been eating breakfast together every morning as a family. We all have to leave the house at the same time to get to school, work, etc., and so it just works out that way. We find this to be a convenient time to read scriptures with the boys since they can't talk while their mouths are chewing or get up and run around with a hand stuck to a spoon. So far it's working.

A few weeks ago we started in on some of the war chapters in Alma to make sure and hook them in good and strong.

That's working, too.

One day back at our house, I hear some squawking in the back yard and decide to investigate. Going out the back door, I'm nearly bowled over by Oliver who zooms past me into the house with Brahm in hot pursuit.

"Mom!", he yells, running up to me. "Oliver's not following the rules! He was shooting me with his squirt gun when I didn't even have mine loaded yet!"

He's not just annoyed, he's mad. What's worse, Oliver has taken cover before Brahm can exact his revenge. He's frustrated as am I when they fight. We both stand there not knowing what to do.

Suddenly, the Holy Ghost descends on me like a dove.

"Hey," I begin nonchalantly. "Do you remember when we were reading the other morning about Moroni and Teancum? They wanted to get the city of Mulek back from the Lamanites but to do it, they first had to come up with a way to lure the Lamanites out. Do you remember how they did it?"

The clouds begin to clear from his face and I watch as his plan of action takes form.

"Yeah...", he says slowly, a smile curling up the corners of his mouth. "They came up with a decoy."

What happened next was nothing short of genius on the boy's part. Preying on his little brother's weakness for sweets, he runs out the side gate, hides behind the fence and begins to make the sounds of an ice cream truck.

"Do do dooo dah de dee, dah de dee dum.", he croons to "The Yellow Rose of Texas".

And I'll be a monkey's uncle if it wasn't Oliver's knotty little head that pokes itself around the corner of the back door not two seconds later. Bam! Bam! Bam! With impeccable timing, Brahm jumps out from behind the gate and soaks the little bugger from head to toe, sending him screaming into yonder parts of the neighborhood.

I don't recall seeing a look of satisfaction like that on Brahm's face for quite some time. I must have had a similar expression on my face, too, judging by the way I felt. Justice had been served and a lesson learned - maybe two. It would probably be a while before Oliver came up against his brother again and as for Brahm, maybe he would never have to ask the question, "But what does all this have to do with my life?"

Monday, October 13, 2008

Elections 2008 Brinkel-style

This is for Brandi who says I need to update my blog.

From the backseat in the car on the way to school last month, Brahm pipes up, "Mom, you know who I'm voting for for president? Obama." I'm surprised and amused, not by his choice per se but by the fact that he's given it any thought.

"You know who I'm voting for?", Oliver chimes in, removing his sucking fingers from his mouth only long enough to say the words. "John McCain."

This amuses me even more. I am imagining our '96 Subaru wagon rattling down the street with a McCain bumper sticker on Oliver's side and an Obama on Brahm's.

It's Brahm who interrupts my thoughts. "You know why I'm voting for Obama? It's because we've never had a black president before and I think it would be good if we could have one."

There's an audible pause and then this from the little brother: "Obama's black?"

"Yep." I confirm, "He's black."

"Is John McCain white?"

"Dear child, they don't come any whiter."

Another pause and then,"Well then I'm voting for Obama, too." I raise my eyebrows and glance in the rearview mirror to see if I can interpret his face for a reason behind the change. I can only tell that he's thinking.

"Why don't you want to vote for McCain anymore?" I finally ask.

"Well, if you put a black crayon on a piece of white paper and color it, the black will always win."

Aaaah. Now I see. No, I don't pretend to understand the logic behind the decision but with Oliver, it's all about winning, whatever the context, whatever the reasoning. Therefore, come November 5th, may the best crayon win.