Tag Archives: Inn

Amazing Transformations – Halloween and More

Catherine has transformed her home into a Halloween-freak-show-haunted-broken-down Inn. The change has been dramatic, virtually impossible, and has taken nearly all her energy. I say “nearly” because she has managed to save just enough energy to embark on another kind of transformation. She and her husband have decided on a joint project – transforming their bodies. After years of laughing with each other at watching gravity (and a few extra beers) get the better of them, Catherine and my brother-in-law are getting back what has slowly slipped away – muscle tone… (and the ability to stand under a florescent light in the closet in front of the mirror without wanting to cry.)

Those of you who have followed this blog from the beginning know that my sister has spent the last ten months planning, prepping, and creating the most unbelievable spectacular for Halloween 2013. And the transformation of her home into the Macabre Inn¬†is now taking shape. As a writer, I am sometimes offended by the “a picture is worth a thousand words” expression. (After all, I can’t imagine a picture could illustrate a point better than my words… ūüôā ¬†). You’ll notice that I said “sometimes offended.” These pictures tell the story of the creation far better than my words ever could.

Catherine’s garage has become the Macabre Inn. And the transformation is amazing. She took down every single measurement possible, then mapped out the structure, using blue painter’s tape to outline where she would build the walls:Garage Bare Floor

Then she framed in the structural elements:Garage just walls

If you’ll recall, the doors were a major source of inspiration for Catherine. Here they are:Garage Hall with closed doors

She had to wire it for sound, lighting, and control cameras:Garage electrical

More electrical – we only hope the fire department doesn’t come for an inspection:More Electrical

The lighting and the “walls” finally take shape:Garage Hall Lighting

There are so many rooms in the Macabre Inn that I couldn’t possibly post them all. Here are some of my favorites. The finished hallway (the flash kills the effect a bit, but you get the idea):Hallway

The crazy lady in Room 1:Crazy Lady

The old couple who couldn’t resolve their differences in Room 4 (well, I guess they’re resolved now…):Hangman:

Surprising the guest while he’s relieving himself in the bathroom:Bathroom

The on-sight daycare room:Daycare Room

The hard work, endless hours of commitment, sweat, and determination have more than paid off. This place is beyond amazing! I can’t believe the creativity, ingenuity, skill, and talent that have led to the transformation of my sister’s garage to the Macabre Inn.

Likewise, hard work, endless hours, sweat, and determination have gone into Catherine and her husband’s “other” transformation. They look great! Feel great! (except immediately after their workout), and have started to see the amazing transformation of their bodies. Don’t worry… I’ll spare you the pictures. But trust me on this one – I’m not sure which of the transformations has been more difficult, or been more impressive. All I can say is they are both truly inspirational.

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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….

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…).

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.

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