I tried the Rotten Zombie Skittles…

…and they weren’t that bad!

If you haven’t seen them, these are Skittles with various evocatively named flavors, mostly delicious, but a few of them are purported to be flavored like “rotten zombie.”

Most people who have written about them think they are absolutely horrible, and the company says that different palates may experience them differently.

I liked them.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I have a taste for well aged human flesh.  To my palate anyway, when tasted with an open mind, I found the flavor of these Skittles to be rather like spiced hamburger.  It was like hamburger with paprika, a hint of garlic and perhaps cinnamon, the kind of thing you might have with spaghetti.   The main oddity was that it was still sweet, because it was still a Skittle.  So maybe even mincemeat?

Anyway, if I had a wild imagination and was thinking of zombies, and it were closer to Halloween, they might be grosser tasting.

You may be wondering why in the world I would want to try Skittles that promised to have a gross flavor hidden among them.

Well, curiosity killed the cat – but satisfaction brought her back.

So when my coworker handed me this fun size bag of Skittles though, emblazoned with the legend “produced with genetic engineering,” I realized that the flavor couldn’t be too gross.  After all, this is a product meant to be safely eaten without having anyone sue the company for attempted poisoning.

Just like the Every Flavor Beans that Jelly Belly makes, the flavors are nasty but don’t really taste entirely like the originals.  Quick example, and it’s probably not the one you’re thinking of:  I ate plenty of grass as a kid.  Lawn grass, beach grass, you name it.  I chose relatively clean sources and long blades, I chewed grass and made whistles from it too.  The grass jelly bean doesn’t taste like anything like the real green plant matter, and I should know.  Therefore, I’m pretty sure that imagination has a pretty large part to play here.

So I ate the Skittles and lived.  My taste buds could be worn out I suppose, and there is that caveat from the company about differing palates, but it really wasn’t that bad!

Who’s walking on my bed?

Halloween is different for everyone – some people use it as a religious day, others an excuse to eat massive amounts of candy, some love to make costumes, some go to parties, some watch the goriest movies they can find, and some use it as a time to say hello to the dear departed one more time.

October 31st has been all of those things to me, except maybe for the day to watch movies, and lately it’s been more a time to say hello to those whom I’ve loved and lost.  You should see what they do during the Japanese festival of the dead, they party for three days.  Obon is a really fun time.

For me, though, the end of October is a time when the veil between the different realities seems a little thinner, there’s a snap to the air even out here in Arizona, and life seems just a bit more sad and a bit more beautiful, like it could end at any moment and I’m reminded to tell everyone just how much I love them.

This Halloween tale is true, every word of it.

It’s simple enough:

Last night around midnight, a cat walked on my bed.  His steps were light and fast and both I and my spouse felt him.

Here’s the thing though.  There are two living cats in my house.  One of them was in my study, the other out in the living room, snoozing away on a pillow.  That left the third – who was a sweet black furred gentleman named Orion, who had golden eyes, a rumbling purr, and gave great hugs.  He would jump into my arms when I asked him and always seemed to understand me.  He taught my current calico, Nezumi, to put me to bed at night and get me up in the morning.

With both cats’ locations known, that left only one possibility – Orion, nine years gone, had come for another visit.  We feel him sometimes, usually walking across the bed, sometimes brushing against our ankles.  The site mascot, Nezumi, sometimes reacts to him too.  He’s actually the reason why I think sometimes people, whether they have two legs or four, come back to visit friends and loved ones.

Orion continues to teach me quite a bit, even though he’s no longer a physical person.  I think he might actually be happier now, since he doesn’t have a body to deal with and all its problems, and he can’t get hurt, and he can go wherever he wants.

I guess he’s the ultimate Halloween kitty – a black cat who IS a ghost!

 

 

(Photo looks like Orion but isn’t.)

How To Eat Candy Corn

For the 21st day of Inktober, I have a special treat: A guide on how to eat candy corn, and a reminder of the book giveaway that runs October 21-23!

candy-corn-infographic

Halloween is in the air. For me, that means an annual candy corn craving. Most people in the US are probably familiar with these fun little tri colored treats. Did you know there’s more than one way to eat them?

You can eat them by the bunch – good if you’re really hungry.

You can eat them by the piece – good if you want to make them last.

You can let them dissolve – good for long term flavor.

You can nibble them by the color – see if you can taste a difference.

You can break them into pieces and eat them in little heaps of each color – good for the obsessive people among us, like me.

You can let it dry out so it’s crunchy.

You can try different flavors too. I like Brach’s candy corn, because they use honey and I think that makes the flavor richer and more mellow.

Protip: Dollar store candy corn doesn’t taste as good – the flavor is weaker and it leaves an aftertaste. FIfty cents more gets you the good stuff.

Candy corn also comes in cappuchino, peanut butter, chocolate, caramel, and my favorite, pumpkin spice. In my opinion, pumpkin spice and candy corn flavor is a match made in heaven.

What’s your favorite way to eat candy corn? Any odd flavors I’ve missed?

 

 

 

 

 

The Spirit of Halloween

As a Pagan, Samhain was a holy day for me. As a kid and a part-time, nominal Christian, I mostly had fun with the candy and costumes and pumpkins aspect. At this point in my life, I like the candy and costumes and pumpkins part of things, as well as the spiritual side.

I’ve put a glass out for departed friends so they can stay and partake. Every year on the thirty-first I take a moment to pause and remember my loved ones. My ‘household spirits,” if you will. Mostly they are animals but there are a couple of two-leggeds also. I even remember my grandfather fondly. I have put away much of the pain and bewilderment he caused and have learned to think of him with compassion. So his spirit would be welcome at my table, should it choose to come and visit.

The Japanese have the right idea. Their festival of the dead is called Obon. It lasts three days. and is full of music, dancing, big drums, and bonfires. The people dress in festive clothes and celebrate the joyous reunion with their beloved dead. On the last day, they give them a proper sendoff, with lighted lanterns floating down the waterways and out to sea. It’s a beautiful scene at night.

Here is the best part: The Japanese people had a Lunar calendar, and changed it to a Solar calendar in the modern era. They liked the festival of Obon so much, that they celebrate it at the new time, which is earlier in the year, AND at the old Lunar time! Someday I want to go to Japan and watch the lanterns float down the river. Farewell, loved souls, we will welcome you again next year.

 

Obon-Fixed

The Cat Pumpkin

When I was a teenager, my mom would often take me to see my grandmother. I didn’t really mind visiting. It was a little boring but not so bad really, and nice to get out of the house. She lived in a retirement community, basically senior living apartments.

One time they had a halloween party. There was pumpkin carving and anyone who knows me knows I’m all over pumpkin carving. That time was no exception. My favorite pumpkin, and one my mom still remembers too, was the cat pumpkin. He had ears and whiskers and everything. Everybody loved that cat pumpkin!

If you want to make your own cat pumpkin, make sure the eyes are fairly large when you cut them out and keep the pieces whole. Then trim those pieces down to nice triangular ear shapes. Secure them with bits of toothpick to the top of the pumpkin. Carve a small triangular nose and use three more toothpicks on either side for whiskers. You may need to whittle them a bit so they stick in more easily.

Everybody loved that pumpkin and I loved the memory!

Nature Art: Making a Leaf Man

When I was little, my folks took me on nature walks all the time. In the fall, we would walk around and collect colorful leaves, and then go home and make leaf men. They made a nice decoration for the door! Here’s how:

Walk around and gather a bunch of colorful leaves. Enjoy the crisp fall day.

Pick a big leaf for the body, a smaller leaf for the head, long leaves for legs and arms, use clear tape to attach them. It’s a simple project but you can use glue to attack other odd bits to make mustaches, skirts, hats, and almost anything else to your leaf creation. The limit is the imagination. And the fun is enjoying the process!

Finally, hang your leaf man or woman on the door. These usually do better outside, because you are likely to bring little critters in if you hang them inside. It’s a really fun thing to do instead of a wreath!