Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Already Counting the Days Until Next Hallowe'en

Hallowe'en here at Tumbledown is sometimes all about the pumpkins.

If you don't know this yet about me, Hallowe'en is my fave holiday of the year. It's gotten more so as I've aged, and each time it nears I'm reminded of every Ray Bradbury story I've ever read and my head spins with his images.

To me it's all about the atmosphere.

Now it's usually more about the 'creepy' than the 'cute.'
In past years my holiday decor consisted of pumpkins, gourds, jack-o-lanterns, scarf-draped lamps and tarot cards, flickering candles and mulled cider and Ouija boards. But since James moved in with me all that has changed.

James is an old-school, 'slasher film' kinda Hallowe'en guy. And a Young Frankenstein kinda Hallowe'en guy. There's humor in his holiday, and a healthy pinch of gore. He's not above the pop-up-and-scare-you stuff (at which I draw the line). And a trip to a seasonal Hallowe'en outlet with him is 'interesting.'

Left on our own, I will go directly to the atmospheric stuff (The candelabra! The fringed black tablerunners!), but James wants the crawling zombie animatronic. He wants the clacking and sparking lab device, the knife switches, the bubbling beakers with their contents of fake bloody body parts. He wants the quaking tombstones and the screaming wraiths....

So I've taken to divvying up the house: I get the inside, he gets the outside. And then I tweak all that he does because I'm a Hallowe'en control freak.

Mr. Bones relaxes by the fire.
This year, one of our first holiday purchases was a full-size skeleton. I've always wanted one, and I've held out over the years until I could find something that looked 'just right.' (There are a lot of skellies out there, but the bulk of them just look cheesy....)

Before we even got him home I'd already named him Mr. Bones. Not original, I know, but when I first saw him in the store I couldn't help but say, "Ahhhh, we meet again, Meestah Bohnz!" (Admit it; not even you can say his name without sounding like a Bond villain.) And not surprisingly, the name stuck. What can I say?....

This looks equally nice as a mantel scarf!
In the same picture (above) you can kind of see the lamp on my fireplace mantel. You may or may not be able to see that it's a real working electric meter, but that's not the part I want to show you. This year I spookified my mantel lamp with a fringy black valance from a curtain set that I'd bought at a Hallowe'en store once upon a time. (I wasn't sure then what I was going to do with it or if I'd ever use it, but it's better to be safe than sorry, right?). I ran a shoelace through the spaces in the top of the valance where a curtain rod would go, and then I tied the ends of the shoelace together before draping the whole thing over the lampshade. When it was in place, I finger-pleated the curtain. Voila! :)
I love the result, don't you?

While I was playing around indoors, James was busy in the front garden, stomping my sedum and artemesia into fragrant dust while negotiating the logistics of the fog machine. And then there were tombstones to hook up to it, obelisks to arrange, and battery-operated Angels of Death to suspend from my garden hooks -- all before the trick-or-treaters were due to arrive.

This season we discovered a creation at the Goodwill that we refer to now as 'Cocoon Man.' It's a vaguely body-shaped lump wrapped in fake spiderweb. The thing I love about it is that even though it's battery-operated to do stuff, it's still pretty low key for an animatronic. No deafening sound effects. No stupid cackling voice shrieking things like, "Get me out of here!" (I could never figure out why it's not enough for Hallowe'en decorations to just look cool....)

The photo doesn't do him justice, but you get the idea.
At first we were going to simply suspend Cocoon Man by his feet from a tree branch. But I couldn't help thinking how much better he'd look hanging vertical inside the lighted archway that I normally keep inside my house by the front door. (Yes, it's a Hallowe'en prop, too, but I didn't have the heart to pack it away; it's just too cool. And leaving it outside year 'round was out of the question, and not because I care at all what the neighbor's think. I just didn't want it to fall prey to the Minne-snow-tah elements.)

After combining Cocoon Man with the archway, I again couldn't help thinking how much better he'd look with some more of my tweaking. I entwined the arch with a swag of black plastic maple leaves, then wrapped Cocoon Man in more spiderweb before sprinkling him with a few plastic spiders. Then I affixed a large furry spider (it has a funny face, so I'm guessing it was originally meant as a table decoration) to his throat to make it look as though Big Mama spider had chosen him as dinner for her spiderlings. Mwa-ha-haaaaa. I had no idea that the whole effect would look so awesome come nighttime....

Cheap top hat + valance + eyeliner = costume
Since I was knee-deep in the doldrums at the time, I had little interest in doing more for the holiday than we already had. However, five minutes before our first trick-or-treater was due, I found the interest and energy to cook up a quick costume. One floppy top hat (again from the Goodwill; this one had the word 'Bridegroom' across the front of it, but I blacked the letters out with marker), one additional black lace curtain valance, some liquid eyeliner and I was good to go.

Three dozen trick-or-treaters and a handful of Addams Family TV-series reruns later and Cocoon Man and the rest of his graveyard friends were back inside, awaiting their return to the basement again until next year.

Sadly, our trick-or-treater count was down from seasons past. James thinks that our usual Goth teens have grown up and moved on, and he hopes that we're somehow inspiring Hallowe'en-lovin' little ones to return in future. At least a couple ventured forth with their parents this year and whispered shyly to James that they 'love our house,' so it was nice to know that all James's work was noticed....

And I say 'James's work' because he really did do the bulk of it. I felt bad that because of my mood this year I was unable to do much of the stuff I usually do for Hallowe'en. No pinky-grey Jell-O molded to look like a human brain. No paper lunchbags inkstamped with witchy images and filled full for the trick-or-treaters. No Body Bag Tacos or cauldron brimming with green margaritas. No haunted house sounds moaning from the stereo speakers.... I'm blaming it all on a bout of Post-Fest doldrums followed by a month that was all about obligation when it should've been about recovery...

But I have high hopes for next year.


Lest you think I've forgotten, today's additions to the Thankfulness List are:

1.) A birthday that's in the month of October.
2.) Leftover Hallowe'en candy.
3.) Ray Bradbury and how he gets into my head more than ever each autumn.
4.) Actress Carolyn Jones' oh-so-curvy Morticia Addams.
5.) A guy in my life who doesn't mind putting away the Hallowe'en flotsam. (Thank you, James!)

1 comment:

  1. Love, love, love all the holiday decorating you do!!!! Everything looks great, and I especially love the first photo of all the pumpkins in front of the fire place. Really sets the mood. I'm declaring you Queen of Hallowe'en!