I guess it was pretty windy last night. I woke up and started to haul my Halloween bins down to the basement. I picked up the 1st bin, and headed towards the back of the house. There I stopped. The dead elm tree in the back yard that I had been allowing the grapes to use as a arbor was now laying on the deck. Actually, it wasn’t actually on the deck, as a number of strange things conspired to keep our deck, and the house safe. 1st off when the tree fell it fell diagnoally so that it would just barely miss the corner of the deck. On the surface that seems great, except that area to the east of the deck is my new flower garden full of new plantings. Not to worry thboguh, the wrought iron bird feeder hangers I placed on the corners of the deck decided to lend a hand. The spirals of the hangers grabbed ahold of the tree, and clamped down the branches and held on saving the garden. The small wrought iron hangers them selves woudl not have been able to take the full weight of the tree, but they didn’t need to, the grape vines intertwined into the tree held on tight and acted as ropes holding the majority of the weight of the tree. I think this was the easiest “disaster” to clean up from that we have had in a long time. 25 minutes with a saw and I had the old tree stacked up in a pile ready to burn when the weather permits.


Why I Haunt

There was a post on another board I follow asking :

How did you celebrate Halloween as a kid? Do you find that appropriate?/Are you happy with that? How do you celebrate it now?

I responded, and then decided so as not to loose the message I would place it here as well.

Those that really know me probably have wondered this question a lot this past month as I’ve been pretty preoccupied getting ready. πŸ™‚
As a child Halloween was celebrated at our house with a few paper decorations and a single light up plastic pumpkin standing next to a cat which my grandma would put in the living room window about 2 weeks before Halloween. (I wish I could find it now because I always enjoyed looking at it ) In the weeks prior to Halloween night my grandmother, and mother would work together to sew whatever costume I wanted for the year. Some were elaborate, others weren’t. It really depended on what they could come up with. On Halloween night my grandmother would always make sure we had enough candy for the Trick-or-Treaters (TOT’s) and would put it into a bowl just inside the front door where she would sit and wait for the kids to arrive. My mother was usually working night shifts unless Halloween happened to fall on a day she had off so she often wasn’t home for the nights fun.
Most years I would get dressed in the costume provided (with help) and head out on my own down our street. (It was a much simpler time, and our street is very well lit) Occasionally I would team up with a friend and her mother but usually I was alone. I’m not much of a candy fan so I never really cared what they gave me, it was more about getting out and seeing how much I could collect, and to just have fun. Halloween night it didn’t matter who you were you could be anyone, or anything you wanted to be. I think that’s actually part of what I enjoy about faire, the ability to re-invent yourself for a day / weekend. I almost always loved Halloween as a kid although I do remember one year my mother had off and she made herself a scary witch costume. She surprised me a day or so before when she finished it by tucking me into bed while wearing it. I was about six or seven and I was completely terrified. But after she took off the mask and I saw everything was ok, we laughed about it and it’s become a fun family memory. (I do still have that mask in my bins of Halloween stuff)

As far as the question of appropriateness goes, looking back I find it very appropriate and certainly wouldn’t change that for anything in the world. I think Halloween is a wonderful tradition and a great way to help kids overcome fears of things that go bump in the night. There are far worse things in the world to be afraid of, and Halloween is a great way to have safe fun.


A few of my neighbors would always decorate their houses with ghosts (made from bed sheets or pillows) and stuffed dummies and I recall our mayor dressing up as a stuffed dummy a number of years and terrifying people when he would actually move or talk to them. The idea of that always seemed fun to me even when I was the one getting scared by him and when I hit sixth grade there really wasn’t much draw to go trick or treating anymore especially since I didn’t like the candy. I decided then I would stay home on Halloween and do my best to scare kids like my neighbor did. I would wear a scary mask and hide in the bushes or in a darkened corner of the porch and pop out at the kids my age or older and try to scare them. It worked a lot of times, and was always great fun. They too seemed to enjoy it and always left chuckling after they had recovered from the initial shock. As the years progressed I started adding more and more decorations to make the house even spookier. In eighth grade my friends and I even built a haunted house in my garage, we charged $.50 admission and most people left screaming. (I think I must have had something to do with the life sized stuffed dummy we had hanging from a noose that would drop right in front of the exit as they were leaving. πŸ™‚ ) To my surprise it was a hit, and the neighbors were quite disappointed when I didn’t do it the next year. I often volunteered with the areas haunted house to see what fun I could have, and started getting asked by other people to help them with their decorations as well but I always did the most for my own house.
Things stayed at a relative standstill on the level of complexity of my house haunt for a number of years, until I discovered the internet, and found that I wasn’t the only one doings stuff like this. πŸ™‚ At that point I not only found others doing similar setups, but found that they were willing to share their plans for their props. I immediately set upon building the various props and putting into place ideas I had received online. I started noticing the number of TOT’s increasing each year as I added more props. It seemed word of mouth was taking off and that only severed to drive me to do more. (still does, I might add) I am pretty much the only game in town now when it comes to decorating for Halloween, and in a town of 1400 people the fact that I get around 300 kids (that make it to the door) every year tells me I’m doing something right. πŸ™‚ This Halloween the Village board stopped and asked me in the middle of the board meeting if the hours they had chosen for trick or treat were ok with me.
Each year I try to add a little more to keep people guessing. This year I added a 9 ft skeleton puppet I designed, and built that I wear and interact with people with. It was a major hit, drawing in people from all over town. It seems the kids would go home and then drag their parents back to meet and interact with the big skeleton. (They affectionately named him “Mr. Skeleton Man”) Although we don’t actually keep count of the adults, I believe we had between 150 to 200 adults this year as well. It is really heartwarming to see and hear the families together out to enjoy the night. I constantly overhear parents telling their kids things like “Ohhh here comes the scary house, remember how you used to be so afraid, and now you’ve been talking about it for the past week.” Those are the only rewards I need to encourage me to keep it up year after year.

And that’s how I celebrate Halloween now. πŸ™‚

I would also like to toss in that I, like Doug, do not go for gore. I work towards spooky, and scary, with out the need for gore. I also, due to vandalism, put everyhitng up the morning of Halloween, and take everything down after trick or treating. I used to decorate for Christams 10x more than I do for halloween but my displays were ALWAYS destroyed. People (prolly teens on town with notheing better to do) would come and take wire cutters and cut light strings, bash in expensive figures, unplug every cord they could find, etc.. etc.. so I no longer decorate heavily for Christmas. I put out a wreath or two, and the nativity scene. The rest, whats left of it, is resigned to stay in my basement for eternity.