What you're seeing is my first attempt on carving a jack o'lantern; a trial run. The next one comes this weekend, where I use a tealight candle instead of a torch.
I was tempted to call this entry 'Planning For Jack', but then that brought to mind the XTC song 'Making Plans For Nigel.' And while I was trying to come up with an appropriate title, I realised that Jack's been waiting ..so, yeah, there's your title.
For all my years on this earth, I'd never had the urge to mark Halloween, but I guess there's something to be said for exposure to ritual and such, since last Halloween was when I decided, 'yeah, let me get some' and opted to get into it (the full background behind this is on the HWA site here).
Never having carved a pumpkin jack o'lantern before, or seen how it's done, I decided to do a little research. Since Halloween is on a Sunday this year, the plan was to buy two pumpkins: one on Halloween weekend and one the weekend before. The pumpkin for the weekend before would be for the trial run. One step-by-step guide is here:
So. I already have the pumpkin, as of last week's grocery order. A carving pumpkin, apparently. I don't know what the difference is between that and a regular pumpkin but as long as it's easy enough to cut, then I'm happy. I'm not exactly lacking in upper body strength but if I wanted a workout, well, that's what MuscleWorks is for. Rummaging around in a kitchen drawer sees me come up with an old knife; not the longest blade, but it might do. A blade I'm sure was serrated with bite many moons ago, but is now more bumpy-smooth. I might have to buy a new one. I'm no longer a teen or a twenty-something, but I wonder how easy it'll be for this black man to step into a shop and buy nothing but a knife (since I have everything else I need to meet Jack). Still, the old knife might do. Hell, even after hanging with a friend this weekend just gone and telling her of my plan, she lets me have a whole bag of tea-light candles after I tell her that I put some on the last grocery order, but they were out of stock.
So, now I have everything, right?
Because what I haven't had thus far is any time to carve the damned thing.
In a very real sense, I've been on the go since FantasyCon 2021 - yes, a month ago. Life has been busier since then. A good busy, but busy nonetheless. Which has left less time for writing, at least in the short term. I say 'in the short term' because I'm mindful to keep the product moving. As I've said so many times: the writing is the bottom line, the be-all and end-all, the alpha-omega. Yes, even if I stopped writing right now, I still have work that is already sold that's due for publication - one this Halloween weekend, in fact. But the machine needs to be kept running, as it were, so I need to keep writing. Thankfully I'm starting to get a sense of normalcy and routine in the day-to-day. Which leaves the evenings and weekends to write.
And, in this case, to carve two pumpkins. Gotta practise first, right? After all, Jack and I need to have words. There's a lot to discuss.