Tag Archives: hotel

Dumpster Diving

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure….

The etymology of this saying is a bit difficult to pin down. Some say the first iteration is the 17th century proverb “one man’s meat is another man’s poison.” Others claim Urquhart’s intro to the 1860s Popular Tales of the West Highlands, where he said “One man’s rubbish may be another’s treasure” is where it all began. The true origin is irrelevant, though. For in today’s world, we simply call it “dumpster diving.” Well… that’s what Catherine calls it. And it makes her incredibly happy.

In Arizona, we have “large trash pick up” once a month. This is when homeowners go through their houses and yards and throw out all of their junk. Driving through the neighborhoods during large trash week is an eye-opening experience. You can see who got new patio furniture since the old stuff is piled high by the mailbox, whose baby finally outgrew that crib, who got sick of tinkering with that 30 year old lawnmower, and you can even tell who’s getting a divorce from the haphazardly thrown out pile of old wedding and honeymoon photos (that one’s kind of sad). And, yes, you’ll even see the neighbors’ “dirty laundry.” Really. Not a pleasant sight…

So when Catherine is planning her Halloween spectacular, she counts down the days until each and every large trash pick up day. She climbs into her car as the sun breaks the horizon (so she can beat the other dumpster divers to the “good stuff”), and she combs the neighborhood (well actually, that’s neighborhoods. Plural.) She sets off to find her treasures. We all wait to find out what she snagged to furnish the Macabre Inn. (And, yes, we’re all a bit nervous – you never know what she’ll drag home!) My sister outdid herself this year. What’s an old Inn without a bunch of tattered, dirty suitcases?Luggage Pile

And of course, the “guests” will need a place to sit…Old Bench

And sleep.Mattress

And here’s my personal favorite – apparently the werewolves, witches, zombies, clowns, and Macabre Inn guests all have something in common. They all need one of these (I can just picture Catherine hoisting this up into the back of her car…)toilet

(And to think, we were all chuckling at the neighbors’ “dirty laundry.” Imagine how hard they must have been laughing when they watched Catherine drive up at the crack of dawn and sneak off with their old, used, broken toilet. I’m thinking they got the last laugh on that one!). Which brings us back to the original point…. Trash or Treasure? It’s all in the eye of the beholder (nothing like mixing a couple of idioms…).

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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…”

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