Tag Archives: werewolf

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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All Kinds of Kinds

We went to the Miranda Lambert concert last week. It was fantastic from the opening act all the way through Miranda’s finale. Lots of energy, lots of talent, and a whole bunch of entertainment. Of the dozens of songs we heard that night, one in particular struck me as poignant. I know, I know… most people don’t think “poignant” when they think of Miranda Lambert, but trust me on this one.

While I love the message of the entire song, it was the opening stanza that caught my ear; it’s all about people in a circus. And I immediately thought about the Macabre Inn and the old, dysfunctional, broken down circus that my sister is pouring her heart and soul into. How can I not think of Catherine when I hear:

Ilsa was an acrobat who went and fell in love with that
Horatio the human cannonball.
A weddin’ ‘neath the big top tent with barkers clowns and elephants
Sideshow family oddities and all.

Ever since the beginning to keep the world spinning
It takes all kinds of kinds.

The Macabre Inn’s circus has acrobats, clowns, elephants, sideshows, a big top tent, and so many other cool and interesting displays. (I’m ignoring the “human cannonball” line for fear that when I get home tomorrow, she’ll have somehow constructed a life sized cannon and experiment with shooting large stuffed animals out of it – although that would be preferable to experimenting with her dog or youngest son…)

Which leads me to the meaning of the song. The chorus – It takes all kinds of kinds.  I’ve rarely heard one line that captures so much. It sounds so simple, but the truth in it runs deep. If it weren’t for people’s differences, what would this this world be like? I’ve told you that I was never really into Halloween. I kind of don’t get it….. And yet my sister lives and breathes this passion. I know there are times that all of us around Catherine on a daily basis look at her like she’s nuts for putting in the kind of time, energy, blood, sweat, and tears we all see. But in the end, her Halloween passion brings awe-inspiring joy and amazement to hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

What if everyone were like I am…? That would be tragic; there would be no Halloween festivities, no place for people to gather to gawk at an incredible display of talent, drive, and determination. And what if everyone were like Catherine? That would be scary! The world would be full of zombie and werewolf creations. (And no one in her family would have dinner on the table… 😉  )

I think about the various people I come across in any given day. – some of them drive me crazy. Some of them make me laugh. Some make me shake my head in disbelief. Some of them make me sad. There are those who inspire me. And those who make me think I’m SO glad I’m not like that! But the real truth is that all of them add to my life in one way or another – for better or worse – they give my life depth, balance, and perspective. It is always good to step back and reflect on what others add to your life. Because it takes all kinds of kinds.

How Halloween Unites a Family

My very conservative Catholic father might take exception to my assertion that Halloween unites a family (well… unless I tie it in to All Saints Day, which I’m not doing). But perhaps after reading this blog post, he may change his mind.

Let’s take a look at the typical modern American family. Since I’m fairly certain that our family is pretty typical, heck! let’s take a look at our family! (Yes, I’m well aware that there are those who would argue that ours isn’t exactly typical, but we’ll save that argument for another day. For now, I’m talking about the big, broad, brushstrokes of a typical American family).

You’ve got parents pulled in multiple directions, usually due to job necessities or other obligations. You’ve got college age kids who are more interested in the next frat party or drinking game than hanging out with family. There are the boys (young and old) who would far rather play video games than do just about anything else in the world. The teenage girls, of course, are significantly more interested in their social life than catching up with siblings and parents. Even the young ones would rather be riding bikes, playing instruments, or creating some new art project, than sitting around the table talking about the same subject as the others (not that I’m really complaining about that one…).

So where does Halloween fit into all of this? It’s come as a surprise…. even to the most optimistic of us adults. And it has trickled its way into our daily lives over the last few weeks. The parents are working together to solve problems like coming up with the perfect name, figuring out how to get the zombie people to stand up in the pool, or whether to build or buy the clown tent. The college age kids are suddenly talking about memories of Halloweens past, and that they can’t wait to bring their friends from school home to see this year’s spectacular. Grandparents are showing up with ideas about werewolf fur and oversized invaders scaling the walls.

The boys – yes the boys – are taking great pleasure in discovering what new Halloween object was created or purchased that day. (The other day, I came home and started cooking, only to notice there was a creepy skull placed on my cutting board. One of the boys could hardly wait to see my reaction to finding it where I normally prep all the food. He was honestly more interested in waiting for my reaction than he was in the game he was playing. He completely cracked up at my reaction. It was awesome to see!)

And even the teenage girls – perhaps the toughest nuts to crack – have joined in on the fun. They put down their Facebook, iPhones, and snapchat to find out how they can help create a piece of the Macabre Inn.

Everyone is engaged. And everyone is working together. That, my loyal readers, is how Halloween unites a family.

P.S Just in case any of you are worried about my conservative Catholic father being a buzz kill on the whole thing, you can lay those fears to rest. He is every bit as involved as the rest of the gang. He is all queued up to help Catherine build the vortex tunnel, the clown tent, and anything else that requires his assistance. So I’m pretty confident that in the end, he’ll have to agree with my premise. And he’ll do it with a smile on his face.

It’s 5:00 Somewhere… soon.

Werewolves, witches, and even writers need a vacation. It seems as though the only way my sister, her husband, my husband and I ever get a true break from our hectic and crazy lives is to get away. Really get away. So the four of us are packing our bags and getting out of dodge. We’re leaving for a much-needed, week-long cruise where we’ll all be treated to fabulous food, endless views of the Caribbean from our balconies, fantastic on-board entertainment, warm weather, and – most importantly – rest and relaxation.

While there will be lots of reading, snorkeling on excursions, river tubing, and exercise, I imagine there will also be a fair amount of Halloween planning, writing, and even a small amount of work. No matter how far away or how isolated we get, those aspects of our life follow us everywhere. It’s what makes life interesting, fun, and challenging for all of us. We wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. Life is good!!

But when I think of our trip that commences less than 48 hours, as we’re planning our wardrobe, swimsuits (Catherine swears she won’t let hers see the light of day… we’ll see about that!), and leisure reading material, the predominant thing running through my mind is that Alan Jackson/Jimmy Buffett song… So here’s to some margaritas, pina coladas, rum and Cokes, and who knows what else! 5:00… here we come!

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.

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