Saturday, October 24, 2009

Lively weekend

Last Saturday, after long calling hours, Mr. Hall said, "How about a nice romantic supper, with candlelight and attentive service?" Splendid, Mrs. Hall had replied, and was just settling in nicely when the car turned into the Marcellus High School parking lot. "Here we are!" he said sprightly. Not quite what Mrs. H. had in mind, but she had to admit, was a change of pace. The seniors ushered them into the lunchroom, where the lights had been dimmed and candles placed on the plastic tables. Hopping up on a circular stool and draping a four inch square napkin over her lap, Mrs. Hall beamed at Mr. Hall. She was always happy to be supporting the local school system, just as long as it didn't involve sharing pasta à la that awkward scene from "Lady and the Tramp." As soon as they finished their slice of homemade white cake and set the plastic forks aside, the anxious student staff brought 'round the coffee pot again. Mr. and Mrs. H. had to agree it was a pleasant diversion from home- they had not seen too much of any young ones the past few days. But that was about to change...
On Wednesday, young Katie Hall drove up from Washington D.C. for a quick shot of Central New York hospitality and a chance to celebrate her birthday with Mr. and Mrs. Hall. While they longed to fete her properly, Mrs. H. had to take Ian to PT in Auburn. “Swaby’s will not be the same without us on Wednesday,” remarked Mrs. Hall, “but give my best to Katie, along with these presents.” So while Ian ran cadences in the rain, Katie and Mr. H. held court at the club. Happily, he was able to convince her to stay on til Saturday, so they could all meet up at Daniel’s for their usual Friday fun, before she had to run off again. The Halls wished her happy trails and a safe trip home; it's always a pleasure to see her.

They're not dead; they're living-impaired
The Halls first attempt at a Zombie Mob drew far fewer participants than expected, but yielded very entertaining results. Through a mistake borne of a general lack of planning, the little band had not anticipated the SU football schedule and the size of the pre-game crowd on the SU hill. Driving up, Colleen and Mrs. Hall suddenly realized that the quiet little route they had successfully run the week before, was now completely taken over with rabid sports fans, tailgaters and their barbecues, parking lot shills (hawking spots starting at $20!) and the occasional religious fanatic with a megaphone. But the zombie gods were smiling that day, and miraculously, almost directly across from their route, a parking spot opened up in front of them on the street, and scraping up sufficient change for an hour or so on the meters, they managed to slide the van in. Joining a small but dedicated group of companion zombies, they shuffled and lurched their way along the prearranged route. There were concerns that among a crowd of fans dressed in orange wigs, foam fingers, all manner and shape of cold weather gear and fan paraphernalia, whether or not zombies would actually be noticed; but the effect on the crowd was entirely satisfying. Colleen won a shouting/ groaning match with the fanatic, much to the happy cheers of the pub crowd across the street. Dozens of folks took pictures of them and several insisted on having their pictures taken with the zombies. Good natured appreciation greeted them all along the way.
Kudos to the members of Zombie Mob 2009- though hoarse from moaning and full of sugar and gummy brains, they returned to their homes happy and ready to terrorize another day!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's getting scarier every day

Halloween decorations have been springing up daily at the Hall, where the residents really get into the "spirit" of the holiday. The pumpkins have been placed in their most seasonally satisfying positions, between the remaining geraniums and the fast-fading petunias, no thanks to an early frost this year. Bats and ghosts fly freely about the Hall, and in a yearly nod to the revelries, Mrs. H. has refrained from her usual dusting schedule* to allow the arachnid population at the Hall to get a headstart on their own little cobweb display. The children are really getting worked up about the upcoming candy fest, but Killer (who has grown to some rather scary dimensions herself) remains obstinately unfazed about the whole event.

(*Mr. Hall remarks it's a futile gesture, at the very least- Mrs. H.'s dusting "schedule" is little more than a once a month loosey- goosey swish, rather than any strictly adhered to weekly regimen.)

A quick note from our Rockin' Rumor department: Did you forget? Have you taken your zombie outfit out of mothballs and checked to see if it needs a trip to the cleaners? Reports are coming in fast now, and interest is really growing for the Zombie Mob 2009, coming up October 24th. Check out the website for details here and/or follow the fun on Twitter. Get your Zombie on now- remember: brains are good for you; they're Mensa approved!

The Apple Corps

Mrs. Hall waved to Mr. Hall as he pulled the big black car out of the hanger and sped off to work. It was very odd to not be in the copilot's seat in the morning, but she and Ian had big plans; they were off to the Masonic Lodge to help the Eastern Star ladies and gentlemen in the kitchen. Autumn apple harvest time means the annual OES Apple Pie Sale, and that brings out all the usual suspects around Marcellus for one of the last remaining American vestiges of the community event. Like old fashioned quilting bees and barn-raisings, these community affairs used to be common place in an agrarian society; but time, having marched on even in these backwater eddies, had taken it's toll, and all that can be found of gatherings on that scale around these parts, is the Pie Sale.
All the Hall's children, and usually a few hostages brought along unawares, have taken part in the pie making at one point or another. It's good for them to see the neighborhood come together, says Mr. Hall; and with the added bonus of being able to put their time in as community service hours towards their high school requirements, it's usually not hard to round up extra kids. Throw in the fact that the Lodge provides a free lunch and apple pie for dessert and you've got the recipe for a humdinger of a fundraiser.
The Monitor was lucky enough to get some photos of the pie makers in action Wednesday; several of Marcellus' most prominent citizens can be seen manning the tables and tools. Shown at left: Bon vivant and man about town Mr. Hugh Norris (former owner of Norris' Funeral Home)was seen cutting up with Mrs. Carol Czolowski (former employee of the IRS). "Death and Taxes", as they are commonly called, are most likely to be found jabbing at each other good-naturedly, near the pie presses.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

If it's got sprinkles and frosting, it's a cake

The smoke detector has been working overtime at the Hall lately; both Ian and Colleen celebrated their birthdays this week and under careful supervision, Mrs. Hall was allowed to light the candles for both events. Ian's perennial favorite is Grasshopper Ice Cream Pie, made with mounds of mint ice cream, crushed up mint Oreos and crumbled Andes Candies on top. The original treasured recipe for this had it made in a pie dish, but improvements over the years, having undergone several reincarnations, found making it in a springform pan much easier affair. That's a lot of pie, remarked Mr. Hall, who said he felt his teeth hurt just looking at it. Mrs. Hall reminded the little band that no grasshoppers were actually harmed in the making of it. The pie was preceded by the world's largest Angus burgers (made indoors on the Forman grill, due to unseasonably chilly weather this year) topped with Ian's now signature topping request: Smoky Gouda cheese, bacon and carmelized onions on a kaiser roll. Everyone agreed the accompaniments were inspired!
As for Colleen, she took a completely different tack. She and Mrs. Hall spent the entire day shopping, chatting, drinking coffee, solving the problems of (at least their little corner of ) the world, and slathering the local community college with posters for their upcoming Halloween treat: the Zombie Mob. Since no real suggestions were floated, it was left to Mrs. H. to come up with some thoughts of birthday gifts, and since no one she knows can resist the lure of fleece, both siblings came into cozy, fuzzy windfalls. Shown at left, is Colleen modeling her new bathrobe, apparently constructed from the material left over after making The Cookie Monster for Sesame Street. (No Cookie Monsters were harmed in the making of this bathrobe...) Present but not easy to spot: her fleecy pajama pants extolling the virtues of high amounts of caffeine in the morning and Ian's fuzzy camoflage pajama pants, which, even if they weren't camo, would still be hard to see in the jungle that is his room. Colleen had not specified a particular cake either, and while she admitted her breath had never been fresher, she could not imagine tackling another cake of that magnitude. Luckily, the Hall came up with a somewhat smaller alternative.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

It's finally official!

The Halls dropped off Master Ian at the recruiter’s office Tuesday morning, with a valise in his hand and a lump in his throat. He was nervous, but ready. After taking the ASFAB test required of all incoming recruits, Ian was put up at a local hotel courtesy of the US government, to spend the night and await his physical. He called Mrs. Hall, just to check in, last evening. “Hey Mom- I did great!” he said. Apparently, when he asked the sergeant how he had scored on the test, at first Sgt. Phillips had looked down and said, well, he didn’t do very well but with some luck and persuasion, the sergeant might be able to get him a job as a cook. Ian was dashed, but then realized the sergeant was just pulling his leg, and came around laughing. “I was thinking about driving tanks, but Sgt. Phillips is recommending me for intelligence.” Mrs. Hall told him he could do whatever he liked but he should keep an open mind and consider the good sergeant’s advice.
The next morning was rainy and raw; there were news reports of damage all around the Syracuse area from a strong storm that had passed through early morning. Master Ian was already waiting for the Halls at the office at the 174th Fighter Wing at Hancock Airport, anxious and ready to swear in. “The storm was blowing away like mad when we got off the bus this morning,” he related- “It was so cool!” Nothing was going to dissuade him today. Promptly at noon, Ian was ushered into the ceremony room and sworn in, in front of his sergeant and Mr. and Mrs. Hall. It was a proud moment for them all.
A quick lunch afterwards, and then they dropped him off at the Hall. “We have to go back to work,” Mrs. Hall explained, “but we’ll see you tonight for festivities.” But Master Ian was nearly asleep on the couch under the huge Marine flag he had hung up on the wall over him. It had already been a full and wonderful day for him.

Tell your friends!