Tag Archives: creepy

Long, Long, LONG Overdue.

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I can’t believe it has taken me longer to write this final post than it took Catherine to build a whole vortex tunnel from scratch! But here it is…. my final words about My Sister’s Halloween. It is with pride, admiration, relief, and a wee bit of sadness that I write this. It’s hard to believe that Catherine’s Halloween era has come to an end. But there’s something to be said for ending on such a high note…

What a HUGE success! More than 400 people showed up to be scared, horrified, awed, and impressed by Catherine’s talent, creativity, and countless hours of blood, sweat, and tears (and, yes, there were all of those – plus a massive head wound to top it all off!). In the end, it took a whole team of supporters to pull it off:

First and foremost… my sister’s devoted and dedicated husband. Not only did he put up with the chaos, mess, and disruption of turning his house into a haunted town and inn for nearly a year, he provided much manly-man strength and support across the board. And did it with a great attitude and smile on his face (most of the time…).

Our collective parents – this event never could have been pulled off without the love and support and contribution of all of our parents. It says a lot about Catherine to witness every one of the four parents involved rally and pitch in with anything and everything. The vortex tunnel never could have been made without our dad, who mistakenly thought his new-found retirement meant he would have the luxury of lots of leisure time…. wrong! The pirate ship would have looked like a cardboard backdrop without our incredibly talented mom, who can turn a piece of cloth and a few plastic gold pieces into a scene straight out of the Pirates of the Caribbean. The clown tent never would have functioned properly the night of the event without the dedication and determination of Catherine’s wonderful father-in-law, and no one would have had the most spectacular desserts without the nicest woman ever… Catherine’s mother-in-law. These are only a small fraction of examples of the efforts put forth by all.

My fantastic husband – the event would have felt like a silent movie without my husband’s constant attention to ensure each scene had creepy, frightening, and haunting music playing at just the right intensity and location. The event took on a life of its own with all of the sounds and music of Halloween.

The local high school drama club – a special thanks to the incredibly talented and entertaining group who came as zombies, pirates, voodoo witches, creepy clowns, and all kinds of characters, who never broke character and provided incredible realism to the Macabre Inn and Haunted Meadows.

And to all the other helpers and supporters – this truly was a team effort and it would never have been the home run success it was without everyone’s contributions.

The best way to end this blog is with this link. It is a video that was shown to the guests as they entered the event – a spectacular compilation of the transformation of my sister’s house into My Sister’s Halloween. Please enjoy the video and the photos of the actual event.


Finally… to my incredible sister – you provide inspiration, excitement, and laughter to all those around you… especially to me! I am lucky to have you in my life.  You touch so many people in so many ways.  Thank you for everything you do and for being the person you are.

Catherine and Heather Halloween

Cirque du Fatale – A Tragedy and Lessons Learned

I started writing this post a couple of months ago. Catherine had long ago picked out a fantastic name for her defunct, dying, and bizarre circus that was the “local entertainment” at the Macabre Inn. The perfect name for the circus – Cirque du Fatale. The big top tent is filled with crazy clowns on unicycles, creepy children acrobat performers, the infamous elephant’s behind, and even an old popcorn machine that has been infested by rats.

But as I sat down to write this post about the Cirque du Fatale, I learned of the very tragic accident that occurred during a real, live performance of the Cirque du Soleil show “Ka” in Las Vegas on June 29th. The tightrope on which long-time performer, 31 year old Sarah Guillot-Guyard, was performing snapped and she fell to her death. In deference to that tragedy, I postponed writing the post. The more I thought about it, though, the more I learned from it. The ultimate lesson being life is short, so do what you love. Sarah died doing what she has known and loved since she was four years old. She followed her passion with enthusiasm, and was one of the best in the world. Pictures of her show a never-ending and captivating smile on her face. I write this post having once again been reminded to follow your passion. Life is too short to let it pass by without chasing dreams.

My sister’s dream this year was to make the most spectacular Halloween production yet. She has followed that with undying passion, and she’s almost done! In the 38 remaining days before the showcase, there’s more to do than I can even comprehend. But one thing is certain…. it’s all coming together. Catherine’s circus is going to be one of the many highlights. The attention to detail she gave the Cirque du Fatale sign alone is amazing. She knew “Big Top” stripes were essential:Big Top Stripes

Strips Finished

And decided the letters must be three dimensional so she hand cut them out of foam, then meticulously painted each one:

Fatale Letters

Of course, she had to flank the name with an elephant’s head (with one eyeball hanging on by a nerve and a vein) and a lunatic clown. Perfect! Cirque Du Fatale

The sign is but one example of the wonders to come at the Macabre Inn. Those fortunate enough to see it in person will be amazed, shocked, and hopefully inspired to follow their own passion. It’s what life is all about.

The Elephant in the Room

It’s crunch time at the Macabre Inn. Well, not exactly. It’s more like decision-making time. For the last few weeks, as she has been working virtually non-stop on creepy clowns, pool zombies, and circus creations, Catherine has uttered more than once (way more than once), “I’m trying to decide if I should back out of Halloween. I’ll give myself another week to make up my mind.” What??  Back out? You’ve gotta be kidding me! She’s been planning and creating since October 2012 – she’s been designing, constructing, imagining, and bringing to life all kinds of gory, scary, and even disturbing at times, scenes with everything from werewolves eating victims to hypnotized swamp walkers, to the most amazing “check in” desk for the Macabre Inn – complete with the old hag in a broken down rocking chair.

If I know only one thing about my sister, it’s this – there’s NO WAY she would back out of this. Halloween makes her feel good. The creation process brings her to life. She can accomplish things that virtually no other person can. If she pulled the plug now, she would never forgive herself. Ever. I don’t really know what triggered all the talk of scrapping the whole project, but I did know that there would be something – one thing – that would bring her normally unyielding energy and focus back to Halloween. And that one thing happened to be…. an elephant’s butt. Seriously.

As well as I know her, I still have no idea what made her think to put a life-sized elephant’s butt in her clown tent. And to top it off she made sure to hook it up to a compressor so she could make it pass gas as the visitors are passing by (no, I’m not kidding!). As strange as it may seem, I’ve gotta admit – it is no doubt one of her best creations.

She started with some concrete blocks, the base of a wrought iron table, and tied it all to the compressor nozzle.Elephant stand

Then she hand-formed chicken wire to give it a life-like shape.Elephant wire

Finally, she applied the absolutely most perfect and realistic looking fabric. Then pinned on the tail.Elephant FinalIt is truly an amazing creation. Yes, as we walk by, the air compressor fires and the elephant’s tail flies up in what is quite an impressive gas-passing event. Everyone laughs. Everyone is amused.

And that is what made Catherine stop talking about calling the whole thing off. Although, I must say, not one of us who truly knows Catherine ever thought for even a minute that she would back out of the Macabre Inn. Not a chance. It was as obvious to all of us as the elephant in the room….

Halloween Passion – Gargoyles

My sister’s ideas never fail to amaze me. So, either I’m easily impressed, or she is truly remarkable…. And everyone who knows me knows that I’m definitely not easily impressed! What does impress me, though, is when someone follows his or her passion. Almost without fail, following your passion leads to great things. There’s no doubt about it – Catherine is most definitely passionate about Halloween.

That passion has led to incredible creations, including these mystical, ominous, eerie gargoyle heads that spew dense fog and muted blood-red lighting. Somehow, my sister can turn a piece of Styrofoam, cardboard, or plastic into a whole environment. And that environment is what elevates her creations from good, to great, to unbelievably amazing.

So where do the gargoyles fit in? Picture this… my sister’s house sits behind a long, tree-lined driveway. The 50 foot walkway up to the front door is lined with vine-covered columns and perfectly accented lighting. It’s a beautiful environment. But certainly not the environment Catherine wanted for the entrance to the Macabre Inn. So she figured out how to completely change the look and feel. Hence, the gargoyles.

I’m not sure where she found the basic foundation for them, but a stack of 6 of these was delivered by the UPS guy (yes, the good-looking one who makes daily trips to Catherine’s house…).gargoyle 1

She cut out the eyes and mouth of each one.gargoyle 2

Then painted each head to look like the grotesque stone-like figures of actual gargoyles.gargoyle 5

Catherine wanted evil, glowing, red eyes, so each one was implanted with a red light bulb right between the eyes on the inside of the forehead.gargoyle 3

The decorative cutout of each column that lines the walkway is fitted with the gargoyle heads that have been secured on plywood.gargoyle 6

And she completes the whole effect by attaching a dryer vent hose that has been connected to a fog machine to the back of the gargoyle’s mouth.gargoyle 8gargoyle 9

The environment has been perfected. As guests are walking up to the front door of the Macabre Inn, there will be six gruesome, stone-like, evil-eyed gargoyles looking down on them, filling the walkway with fog and mist. Very creepy. Very scary. And simply perfect.

Welcome to the Hotel Macabre – Opening Halloween 2013

So exciting! The ideas have been batted around, and the options have been weighed. The theme has been determined. Halloween 2013 is officially Hotel Macabre! And the name describes it perfectly!

It’s fascinating to watch the creative process. As I sit here and write this post, I’m replaying in my head all the events over the last few months in an attempt to pinpoint exactly what led Catherine to decide she would turn her home into a gruesome, ancient, haunted hotel for this year’s Halloween. I’m coming up blank… I have absolutely no idea how or when that idea popped into her head. Here’s a replay:

  • I found the creepy old lady witch in my husband’s car one night
  • The Buddha baby appeared out of nowhere and ended up in the Christmas manger scene
  • The scary clown theme developed
  • Werewolves were created out of plywood and chicken wire
  • An amazing 4 foot moon was constructed to provide the right atmosphere for the werewolves
  • Zombie people have begun to take shape

A hotel? There’s absolutely nothing in these events that would lead my brain to scream hotel! And, yet, it’s the perfect plan! The day after Catherine texed me with the theme, I stopped by her house and saw an 8 foot, absolutely beautiful, dark mahogany-looking, ancient “door” that she created out of styrofoam. That must be it. It’s the door! Her plan is to create a series of hallways lined with these doors that look like they came out of a haunted hotel from the 17th century. Through each door, the Halloween 2013 tourists will be treated to a scene full of “previous guests” who have gone bad, mad, or are just plain psychopaths. The possibilities are endless, and it all began with a door…

That’s what I’m talking about! Creativity, guts, and a willingness to follow your instinct. Catherine has all of that, and more, which is why the Hotel Macabre will be a spectacular showcase. How many doors? How many zombies? How many guests? Time will tell, but lyrics to an old song come to mind…

“You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave…”

The Werewolf Part 2

The werewolf is neither man nor wolf, but a Satanic creature with the worst qualities of both – From the movie “Werewolf of London”

One might wonder why Catherine was compelled to create a pack of werewolves as her first Halloween 2013 creation. I, of course, know the answer – she is driven to create. Create something memorable. Create something few others could. Create something that requires skill, precision, imagination, vision, talent, and even manual labor. Something that people will talk about for months, if not years (despite the lack of discussion about the 7 foot werewolf at our last dinner party).

She is driven; and accomplishment is borne from drive and determination. While the werewolf is not in his final resting spot (bringing terror to those who dare to ring her front door on Halloween), and the pack is not quite complete, these photos will show just how powerful drive and determination can be. As you know from my last post, Catherine built this from the ground up – plywood, chicken wire, PVC pipe, and more. Now she’s put the final touches on the gruesome captor savoring his prey, along with the assistance of “junior.”

It truly is an amazing process to watch. Seven days ago there was a pile of PVC, chicken wire, spray foam, “fur” material, and a few cans of paint. Today there’s a spectacularly scary werewolf duo eviscerating an unsuspecting victim.

Listen to your drive. Follow your passion. And great accomplishments will happen.

She carefully wrapped him in fur

She carefully wrapped him in fur

She got injured making his accomplice
She got injured making his accomplice

She created the victim
She created the victim

Added some oozing flesh
Added some oozing flesh

Added "realism" to the flesh with 3 colors of paint
Added “realism” to the flesh with 3 colors of paint

And pulled the whole scene together
And pulled the whole scene together

How strange is this…?

Halloween prop #1. It’s just about done. (And, yes, I know it’s only January and we’re talking about Halloween props!) Nonetheless, Catherine has decided to put a “family” of werewolves just outside her front door this Halloween (and I’m pretty sure the “daddy” werewolf is going to have captured his prey – ick!). Needless to say, building a werewolf family takes some doing so Catherine decided she better get to it.

We had a dinner party last night (as a side note to my loyal readers… you’ll notice that every time I talk about Catherine having a party, I say “we.” There’s good reason for that… I do the cooking. And I don’t just mean for the parties. I cook for Catherine’s family and my family 5 nights a week. We both have lots of kids, so that means on any given night, I cook dinner for anywhere from 10 to 17+ people. Every night. Week in, week out. She pays for the food; I cook, and she does the dishes. We both LOVE it! It’s a perfect set up!). And occasionally we have guests over. Last night we had a party for Catherine’s son’s birthday (I can’t believe it’s been 17 years since he was born! Time really does fly…). So in addition to the usual crowd, we had all sets of grandparents, as well as our niece. It was a full house, to say the least. And that’s why this story surprises me. Back to the werewolves…

Earlier in the day, Catherine sent me a series of photos. The first prop for Halloween 2013 was being created! How exciting! This is the part I find truly amazing – Catherine’s creativity, talent, and determination. It all comes together through her props. She starts from scratch – plywood, screws, PVC pipe, chicken wire, etc. Then builds from the ground up.  Here’s what I’m talking about:

Halloween Werewolf - 2 (2)Halloween Werewolf - 2 (1)Haloween Werewolf - 3The werewolf stands  over 7 feet tall, has bloody fangs, claws that could rip her little cockapoo dog to shreds, and currently stands in her kitchen during the assembly phase (she’s still perfecting the fur coat!) Yet when all the guests came over for the birthday celebration, not one person even mentioned it. Not one! I find that shocking…

Maybe I’m way off base here, but I would think that if one walked into someone’s house and there was a 7 foot tall, half-built werewolf standing in the corner of the kitchen, one might say something. Something like, “Wow! How amazing it is that you built that!” or “How did you do that?” or “how long has that taken you?” or even “is that going to stay in your kitchen for the next 10 months…?” (The answer to that is no, just in case any of you are wondering…) Nope. Nothing. Just “pass the Chardonnay please” and “this Malbec is really great” and “what’s for dinner?” (I suppose that one should make me happy… 🙂 )

So what does it mean when you’ve worked on creating something amazing for two days and those closest to you don’t even notice or comment? Does it mean that people are unobservant, insensitive, self-absorbed, and judgmental?

Or does it mean that those who love you most, know you best…  And they accept and appreciate your passions, dreams, and desires, and don’t want to hinder them in any way. They accept those passions as part of you and who you are, and it’s all those things that make them love you in the first place, so there’s no need to even comment on them. (Well, not every time, at least…)

In this case, the answer is clear – every person at the party is kind, generous, loyal, and would do anything for Catherine. There’s not an insensitive or self-absorbed one in the bunch. They love and adore her, and are thrilled to see her doing Halloween again – seeing her creativity and enthusiasm. They know it makes her happy and are along for the long haul. They’ll watch 7 foot werewolves, headless corpses, swampy jungles with crocodiles and pythons, and zombies appear out of nowhere. And most of the time, everyone will be quietly awestruck at all she accomplishes. It’s just Catherine, it’s who she is. And everyone loves her for it.

Send in the Clowns…. Halloween Style.

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I have very few childhood memories. I don’t know why that’s the case, particularly because I had a great childhood – two parents who loved me, nice house, good schools, tons of sports, great family. So there’s really no good explanation for why I don’t remember much of it.

One clear memory I do have, though, is spending countless hours on the piano bench learning to play the iconic Send in the Clowns. Of course, back when I was 14 I had no appreciation for the true meaning of the song – I simply thought it was a sweet and beautiful ballad about a girl waiting for the piece de resistance of a circus. I had no idea the song was actually dark, distant, and haunting.

Apparently, my sister’s take on clowns is much closer to the somber and ominous nature Sondheim intended when he wrote that song. (No doubt she spent more hours over those ivory keys than I did!) And while we both now know the song actually has absolutely nothing to do with clowns, our childhood impressions still manage to permeate into things we do today.

My impression…? Clowns are sweet and innocent and bring joy and happiness to young children.

Catherine’s? Clowns are creepy, scary, dark, and will fill people with terror and nightmares. Which of course translates to Halloween! The research has begun. creepy-clown-monster-faceThe design has taken shape. And the images are beginning to fill her “ideas” notebook.

So while our childhood memories have formed our individual views of clowns, I’m guessing Catherine’s perspective will have a lasting impression on everyone who is brave enough to make it through the “circus tent” at Halloween 2013! I’d love to hear which camp you’re in…. cute? or creepy?


Don’t you love farce? 
My fault, I fear. 
I thought that you’d want what I want… 
Sorry, my dear! 
And where are the clowns 
Send in the clowns 
Don’t bother, they’re here.  – Stephen Sondheim

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