Monthly Archives: October 2013

No Pain… No Gain. Catherine’s Version.

Do you remember way back when I wrote about how I was going to expose all the details of the unfolding of this year’s Halloween spectacular – the successes and failures? The good, the bad, and the ugly? Well, here’s the ugly.

My sister is a little crazy; it’s one of the things we love about her. She’s always striving to achieve that little extra something that no one else can. It’s also one of the things that can be frustrating about her at times. Occasionally, Catherine doesn’t know when to say when.

Case in point – Catherine’s desire to make the perfect pirate ship… complete with sails, rails, and realistic details. Well, putting up the sails requires someone to climb up on the top of a 16 foot ladder, balanced on top of plywood that sits precariously on top of the elevated hot tub. (You can all see where this is going….maybe.) Take a close look at this photo. At the base of the ship, you can see a larger than life sized pirate. Right above him, you can see my dad standing in the ship, helping Catherine. Then look all the way up to the top of the ladder. That’s Catherine. Yep… she’s crazy! Pirate Ship Construction

To make matters more interesting, Catherine and our dad (who has been tirelessly helping her with all kinds of projects for this event) can’t seem to agree on whether or when to use C-clamps during the construction of all of these projects. My dad wants to use them. Catherine can’t stand them – too heavy, too awkward, more of a pain than they’re worth.

Fast forward about an hour from when that picture above was taken. It got a call from a very weak-voiced Catherine, “I’m on the way to the hospital. Dad’s taking me. Bad head injury. Blood spurting and gushing. I just wanted you to know I love you.” (Makes me tear up even now…)

I dropped everything I was doing and immediately jumped in my car to rush to the hospital where I found Catherine covered in blood, slumped (but alert) in a wheelchair being pushed by my dad in the ER. She looked horrible. And quite honestly, my dad didn’t look much better – white with worry. My mom (who has also been helping non-stop) stayed back at Catherine’s house to clean up the blood splattered mess that covered the deck all around the pirate ship. Although I didn’t see her at that time, I have no doubt my mom was also somewhat panicked.

So here’s what happened – when Catherine and my dad were attaching the ship’s sail at the top of the mast, she couldn’t quite get the leverage she needed to get the job done. My dad suggested using the large (and very heavy) C-clamp as a solution, so he passed it up the ladder to Catherine (despite her protests since she hates that thing). She still couldn’t get it, so she climbed down the ladder to reassess the situation, when my dad moved the ladder just a bit to give her the angle she needed.

Catherine had left the C-clamp on the top of the 16 foot ladder and the slight adjustment my dad made to the ladder caused the C-clamp to come crashing down on Catherine’s head. It hit her right in the temple (a very dangerous spot), splitting the skin and who knows what else. Thankfully, she had partially parried the C-clamp’s full force with her hand. Otherwise who knows how this would have ended. Four hours, several stitches, and a finger splint later, her husband brought her home for rest (and maybe a beer…:) ). We were all so grateful Catherine was home safe and sound.

And wouldn’t you know it…? Instead of flopping on the couch to put her feet up (like normal people would do), she walked outside and finished securing the pirates to the ship! Like I said, Catherine doesn’t know when to say when. It’s one of the reasons we love her. And it’s one of the things that frustrates all of us who care! But I must admit…. the ship looks great! Was the pain worth the gain? I have no doubt Catherine would answer with a resounding “Hell Yeah!”  Pirate Ship Final 3

The Addams Family… Reincarnated?

I was doing a little reading up on The Addams Family – that iconic, bizarre television family from the 1960s (’cause I’ve got nothing better to do…), and I came across a source that called the Addams Family a “satirical inversion of the ideal American family; an eccentric, wealthy clan who delight in the macabre and are unaware that people find them bizarre or frightening.” And then it hit me… we must be distant relatives of the fictitious Addams Family (ignoring the “wealthy” part…)!

First televised in the 1960s (although it started as a cartoon in the the New Yorker in 1938), The Addams Family has had numerous iterations, including a live Broadway musical, and has struck a chord with much of the American population. Perhaps the most endearing aspect of the show is that, despite the gruesome, dark, bizarre likes and dislikes the family embraces, the family is a solid, tight-knit, caring, and generous one.

Much like the Addams Family, our family embraces Catherine’s Halloween creepiness with love and devotion. Our dad, for example has been working tirelessly on bringing Catherine’s Vortex tunnel dream to reality. I have no doubt that my father’s endless energy he has poured into helping her find the perfect rebar sizes, locating and ordering the requisite 28 foot 2x4s, and figuring out exactly how to make it easy for guests to enter and exit the spinning tunnel without creating a catastrophe isn’t necessarily because he’s fascinated with Vortex tunnels. It’s because he loves Catherine.Vortex

Likewise, our mom has spent countless hours helping my sister create the most realistic, incredible shipwrecked pirates scampering off the gangplank of a near-life-sized ship with their pirates’ booty in tow. All done out of love.pirate

But my very favorite Addams Family-Morticia-Pugsley moment happened last week. A major part of creating the perfect, old, broken down, dilapidated Macabre Inn scene is all of the dead branches and bushes she finds throughout the washes and fields in the area. She brings in the lifeless scrub, and meticulously arranges it all around to create the ideal “dead” look.

Catherine came home after a day of running to Home Depot (a dozen times, or so), Spirit Halloween, her storage units, and a few other places to help her perfect the Macabre Inn environment, only to find the most absolutely perfect, brittle, decaying, ten foot branch lying lifeless in her driveway. She assumed my mom found it for her. Nope. Then she actually for a minute thought her husband brought it home for her. Ha! (Not a chance!). When she was all out of ideas about how the perfect piece landed in her figurative lap, her 11 year old son walked around the corner with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on his face and asked her, “Did you see what I brought for you?”branch

Apparently, he saw it when he got off the bus and dragged it more than two blocks home to his mother’s Macabre Inn creation. He wasn’t even deterred when the cute girl from down the street who takes the same bus home questioned him. He simply replied to her with that Addams Family twinkle in his eye, “Don’t ask.” Yeah… that’s probably best.

Now that’s real love! And it still brings a tear to my eye.

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