Our annual let's-pretend-we're-in-college-again soirée was (and maybe I say this every year, but...) my favorite yet. The be-cosutmed attendees took the whole thing to another level, and it's the first year we've had the police grace us with a visit (two cruisers the first time, and one came back to hang out later). Part of me sometimes goes, "Dave, why do you still have a party like this?" I mean, I'm old... we have kids... I can't just spring back into action the next day like I used to. But every year I have a great time. Maybe that's why. I was proud of Sharaun too, she closed the place down with me and the usual late-night crew around 4:30am, sitting around a big bowl of molten pizza rolls drinking rum on the rocks.
And, while I didn't have a whole ton of time tonight (Sunday, "beggars' night") to write a fancy blog (even though you might think I'd have a bunch of test stored up after last week's dalliance), I did find time to upload some pictures of the costumes from the party to the normal place. Thanks to Bill for the loaner camera after our died midway through the evening, and double-thanks for the Saturday morning upload that made the gallery possible.
Until tomorrow, take care.
Monday. Almost didn't write. Fired this off around 11pm when I realized I had one thing to write about and that Sharaun made a neat video.
Here's the one thing: Wouldn't be the run-up to Halloween if there wasn't some catastrophe with our stupid-complicated house and yard decorations.
In the past it's been vandals, poor workmanship, and storms.
This year storms struck again. A two-day rainstorm with freak winds strong enough to wreak havoc on the props. The witch tore her moorings to the fascia and dropped to the driveway below. The mausoleum blew over and couldn't be set right without falling apart at its shoddily nailed joints. On its way over it took out two of the homemade tombstones. It was a mess to wake up to. I'm not sure I can make all the repairs before Friday's party... it'll be race at best.
Here's the video:
8:40pm and the first free minutes yet tonight find me writing, listening to Spirit's eponymous 1968 debut with the house wide open.
I've just finished reading to Keaton before Sharaun puts her down (which she's currently doing), we're starting to get back into The Hobbit after too long a break where she'd tired of it. Surprisingly she remembered exactly where we were and what had been going on and so picking up where we'd left off worked well (the company just escaped the warg and goblin firefight). Tonight, instead of lamenting each "chore" speeding me from my homecoming to my late-night meeting, I decided to purposely engage in these clock-moving tasks without care. I played with Cohen, fed him a bottle and held him while Sharaun made some homemade caramel in the kitchen. Keaton and I climbed trees with Gandalf and Bilbo and Thorin. And, even though it's 9pm and I'm really just now getting "time off" (a whole hour before my 10pm meeting), I feel better about not counting the minutes.
This weekend I pulled down all the Halloween props and, with Keaton's help, got most things setup and running. I still haven't run the air to the pneumatic props nor have I setup the motion detectors or prop timers or anything like that. But I'm happy to report the standard yearly prop maintenance wasn't too bad this year. Things look to be holding together OK, and where they're not I've been lucky with repairs, spare parts, and replacements. In a fit of creativity I decided to build a new prop for the cemetery. In the span of a few hours, and with some help from a buddy, I'd built a little mausoleum in which we placed the animatronic witch Sharaun found on clearance at Ross last year. The little structure keeps her out of the elements, protects her electric internals, and gives me something to anchor her to to stave off theft. You can see a snapshot of the unfinished creation accompanying this post.
It's been a productive few days.
Halloween has come and gone.
We had our usual party. It was well attended and fun. The costumes were great. The next night, Halloween proper, we got together with a few close friends and took the kids trick-or-treating around the block. I also fired up the fog machine, strobe light, and scary music while I handed out candy. A neat story came of this, read on.
At one point, while I was out trick-or-treating with Keaton, a friend stayed back at the house to hand out candy in my stead. While he was there, a young girl braved the path to our door. As happens with some of our 'treaters, they get a little scared and edgy by the time they've navigated around the pop-up coffin, an animated witch, and a hovering ghost - and by the time they get to the door it's a testament of will that they've made it. And then, just in time, a skeleton drops from the ceiling above their heads with a loud ooga-booga noise. For this girl, it must have been to much. Bill, the buddy covering candy-distribution while I was out, said she turned and ran as fast as she could into the house. Too bad the screen door wasn't open. She ran right into it at full speed. Man, why couldn't that have happened while I was there?
I'm afraid that, tonight, I don't have much for the blog. I spent most of Saturday nursing a hangover and cleaning up the aftermath of Friday night's party, and then after church Sunday I killed the afternoon taking down and storing the Halloween props for another year. Both days were long and made busy with the work of the hands. But, the house is back together and things are as much in order as the ever are. So, not much writing... but, I did find time to upload the costumes from the Halloween Bash to get the voting started. So head on over here and cast a vote for your favorites from the evening.
Yes, Halloween has come and gone; and now it's time for Thanksgiving and beyond that, Christmas. That
Well friends, it's Sunday afternoon and I'm taking a bit of a break from doing some housework. Keaton is dancing around in her Princess Araura costume as Animal Collective plays. She keeps singing something about finding her "Prince Charlie."
Prince Charlie... I LOL'd.
Oh and yes: housework. As the sole proprietor of this here shop for another Mr. Mom weekend, I've busied myself tidying, laundering, and scullionry. After church Keaton and I swung by the grocery store to pickup some foodstuffs for lunch (and I couldn't resist a sixpack of Sam Adams Octoberfest brew, a cold bottle of that goes so well with housecleaning). She got a turkey sandwich, some grapes the size of small eggs (which were on sale), and a glass of milk. I had a few salt-and-pepper kettle chips ("send a man shopping," they'll say...), grapes, and a turkey sandwich of my own. I heard they changed the food pyramid recently... wonder how I did?
Random topics today, if you hadn't already figured it out...
Y'know, I've got to hand it to whoever does the new Scooby Doo cartoon on TV. We caught an episode of it while in the hotel room down in Mexico, and I was pleasantly surprised at how true-to-formula it was (that formula being how I remember the show when I was a kid). The voices are spot-on, the stories develop and play out as expected, and the jokes are still aimed at adults as often as they are kids. Keaton seemed to dig it (she is my child, after all) so I was more than happy to setup a recurring recording for it on the DVR. Watching it with her is like going back in time a little. Good job Scooby people, good job.
I spent a good bit of time Saturday further tweaking all the props to get them perfectly dialed-in. And, as expected, once I had things pretty much how I wanted them, two of the props suffered major breakdowns. Always; always, always, always. The stupid coffin popper appears to have popped his pneumatic frame right off the bottom of the coffin - that's not going to be an easy fix; and I found the crank ghost as a sad crumpled mess of glowing cheesecloth, hanging by one arm and going up-and-down. Ugh. At first, I figured I'd just let 'em rot for a day or two... not wanting to see how badly things were broken and learn how long it'd take to fix it all. But, I had some free time Sunday between loads of laundry so I took a look. Happily, things were all fixed and back to working order in under thirty minutes.
Yes, we're back... and yes, I'm back to work. Confined once again in my tiny shoulder-height grey box, staring at my monitor, typing, and talking on the phone. It's a far cry from the routine we'd fallen so easily into last week on vacation.
For reference, that routine went exactly like this: Wake up at 8am, get Keaton and Sharaun up. Change into swimsuits and lube up with the sunblock. Meet our co-vacationing friends for breakfast at 9am. Poolside by 10am at the latest. Bloody Mary or Malibu and pineapple to start the day. Swim; read; lounge. More drinks. Lunch around 1pm. Swim; read; lounge, drinks. Back to the hotel to shower and change around 6pm. Meet for dinner at 7pm; switch to martinis. In bed by 11pm to do it all again tomorrow.
Blissful; it was blissful. But being back is OK too. We got home at past midnight on Saturday (OK Sunday), and I spent Sunday putting up all the Halloween decorations. Got everything up too, but things need the usual tweaking and yearly repairs. Coffin guy needs a new head, time has disintegrated the plastic near entirely. The ceiling dropper's rope broke from friction and strain again, so I have to replace that once more. The ghost needs to be re-tied at better heights so her motion is more natural, and the witch's dress needs a new pinning to keep it in place. But, over the years I've streamlined the setup so much (with permanently installed hooks, platforms, and ties) that everything went up easily. So easily, in fact, that I'm thinking of trying to finish off an old prop concept I started and never finished...
Today at work Buffalo Springfield’s “I Am A Child” shuffled up on the iPod. Any time I hear Buffalo Springfield, I get mega-nostalgic. For whatever reason, the part of the past when I bought their greatest hits record, back in middle school, is indelibly burned into my brain. I write a lot about how certain music melds with memory for me, forever linking a song or album or sound to some event – and Buffalo Springfield is one of the strongest of those associations. I have the clearest memories of sitting in my room back in Florida listening to that album over and over. One memory in particular is actually strange enough to share.
Before I was exposed to marijuana, I was already fascinated with the concept of smoking something to “get high.” After all, practically every 60s musical and cultural icon I idolized as a teen glamorized the experience… how could I be expected to not want to try it? At one point, I can remember hearing, somehow, that cloves could get you high. This led to Kyle and I rolling up and smoking cloves, yes… plain old dried clove, whole and un-ground from the spice rack, and nearly coughing to death as we tried in vain to catch a buzz. Ditto with the recipe for “banandine” we got from the Anarchist Cookbook. Try as we might, we couldn’t seem to figure it out. But really... try we did. I mean, we'd pretty much smoke anything.
I remember one afternoon, while listening to the Buffalo Springfield album that spurred this whole ramble, actually smoking and inhaling some spent firecrackers I had in my room. Over the years I've wondered where I would even get such an idea... I used to be obsessed with fireworks (well, fire and fireworks in general, really). I used to ride my bike around the neighborhood early on the morning of July 5th, collecting the burned shells of the previous nights fountains and bottle rockets and roman candles. Not only did I love the labels and packaging, but I loved the burned-out smell of the things. Maybe that's what made me decide to try and "smoke" one. Buffalo Springfield in the background, bedroom window open, and I'm sitting there "smoking" a used ladyfinger.
The weekends are never long enough; this one was no exception. Despite being jam-packed with activity, it still managed to feel too short by half.
The weather cooled off significantly Sunday, so much so that, after church, I opened the house wide to get the fresh air in. After reneging on what would've been my second kids' birthday party of the weekend, Sharaun took Keaton off and left me to the breezy Sunday afternoon. After a nice sandwich, I settled down on the couch for a long nap while the iPod provided background. But, that's not why I started this paragraph. In fact, I wrote it to talk about the weather and how it's turning (which isn't really happening yet, but today's cooling got the ball rolling) gets my brain turning to the Fall. My favorite season; Fall.
This morning Sharaun called from Ross, "Hey," she said, "They have this big animatronic witch here, she stirs a smoking cauldron and you can speak through her with a wireless microphone. It looks pretty cool and expensive, but they have it on sale for $60." I was vaguely interested, but having not seen the prop myself not quite enough to recommend a $60 purchase. Then, later that day, after checking the mail, a Halloween costume catalog arrived. In the catalog Sharaun found the very same witch she'd seen earlier at Ross, but retailing for $230. Being able to see the thing in the catalog, I realized it's actually pretty dang cool, and that $60 is a pretty hefty discount from a $230 pricetag. So, after dinner we stopped by Ross and picked her up. Could be an easy "gimme" prop for the year... but I still think I'm going to try and build something. Buying props already...
Ahhh... who am I kidding. I've got nothing more to write. Good weekend, busy week, same old stuff.