Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I have been sick sick sick. Came down with a terrible cold that just kicked my butt. I was able to get Halloween put up, but it was not done to my normal Type A standards. Oh well, there's always next year.

Speaking of next year, we have decided it will be our last Halloween extravaganza. It takes 6 weeks to put and 3 weeks to take down, pack and put away. It's just becoming to hard to do (at our age.) And now Jim is sick sick sick.

We had a record crowd this year. Gave away all the candy I bought for 1200 kids, plus several sacks of candy our neighbors gave us. CARNevil and the expanded Room of Doom were a big hit. There were adults who would not come down into the courtyard because of the clowns! I was telling grownups "it's not real, it's all play."  Which of course, was not entirely true. Here are the clown volunteers, Cheryl, Rich and Jim. Rich spent some time playing dead clown on the ground and kids would kick him trying to decide if he was real or not.

I wish you could have seen how scared people were of Arachnophobia, trying to avoid the cobwebs and sidestepping the spider webbed bodies. People had to go through a couple of times before they got over their fear of the bodies.
We had more live actors in the Room of Doom this year and it was great! Lots of screaming and laughing. People loved the Bates Motel Room because the stuffed guy looked so real they were focused on him and  didn't see the live actor on the other side of the room who scared the heck out of them! Here are a few pics from the finished Room of Doom.

This narrow hallway leads from Bates Motel to the Morgue. You have to go by a boarded up window that has fake hands and masks stapled onto it. One of the hands is real and scares people when it touches them in the dark!

Scariest of all was Mom who passed out candy, pretty cool for 84 years old! She used blue permanent ink to line her lips, good thing it came off. Love the fact that my Mom helps with Halloween.
Next year we are adding the Tunnel of Terror. It's a garden path next to the house that's shaded by trees and shrubbery, feels REALLY enclosed. I don't like walking down this path at night, it's always creepy. Plan on doing a pumpkin terror theme with a version of these pumpkin scarecrow's for this scene. Will be adults only and super scary. Love it!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The storm has finally moved out of our area. We had 6 inches of rain and high winds. Needless to say our Halloween display suffered some damage in the storm. Today is sunny and warm so we'll straighten out the clowns and witches, anchor the black plastic in the Room of Doom, stand up the tombstones, etc. We should know by now that every year we have one of these storms right before Halloween. Usually they're more wind than rain, but they always cause us extra work.

We bought a bubble machine on sale for 1/2 price last year year. The bubble machine is a big hit with the kids. Each bubble is filled with smoke so when the bubble pops it leaves a smoke ring! The kids run around like little Indians popping bubbles.
This year we bought a laser light at Spirit Halloween. We tried using it outdoors, the light covered the house and the trees behind the house! The effect was interesting but not a big WOW. Put it in the Room of Doom and it's so cool! Looks like green bugs crawling all over everything. Here's my finished chandelier  with the laser light on it - pretty cool.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

We opened yesterday. Had quite a few "customers" as Jim calls them. Also had a visit from the Paradise Fire Department. I don't think I mentioned we discovered that the Town of Paradise has a Special Event Permit for Haunted Houses. For a few days we were worried we would have to close down the Room of Doom. The Fire Department was AWESOME to work with, the Fire Chief gave us lots of helpful suggestions on ways to make our Halloween event safe. Next year we have to change the Room of Doom to Fire Resistant Black Plastic. It's really expensive so we may need to scale back the size of the Room of Doom, but that's OK.

Started taking pictures of the finished product, looks pretty good! The glow in the dark rooms have been tricky to photograph due to the low light and the glowy things. The Arachnophobia Room has been a big hit. People weave their way through the swinging spider victims trying hard to miss the spider webs, egg sacks and spider covered bodies.
The panels I made with spray foam and old plastic skeleton parts came out great! This room is lit with one 24" black light at ceiling height and two rope lights on the floor.

Finally got Dracula put up! Made a lot of changes to this scene, had a four year old who liked it and a Dad who thought it was gross! Right now the pristine white wedding dress ($5 at Salvation Army)and it's several layers of petticoats is getting drenched in the pouring rain.

Bought the large bat early in the season, now the darn things are on sale 1/2 price! Oh well. Already scouring the Halloween stores and web sites getting ready for the Nov 1, 50% off sales. Thinking of putting in a graveyard with grave diggers next year or maybe really scary jack-o-lantern scarecrows.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Things are getting down to the wire. We open Friday, Oct 22 and there are still a couple of things left to do. One of them is finishing the MORGUE. So today I had Jim lay down on the back porch and covered him with plastic, then a sheet. Then I splattered Jim's form with blood red paint, it turned out to be more work than I anticipated (in more ways than one.) Looked pretty good.

I left the sheet to dry and went to back out front to work on hanging bats in the Dracula scene. Later I needed something from the back porch and came back to discover this................

Life is never dull with a Basenji in the house. And let's be clear - this was my fault. I know how much Maggie loves to roll in strange smells. Bear and Moose poop, SHOUT stain release, Jim's underwear. So I should have known better. Since Maggie does not like a bath I climbed in the tub with her. Just us two girls taking a bubble together while Jim shot pics (thank God they're all out of focus!) By the time I discovered her, much of the paint had dried. It took some real scrubbing to get the caked on paint off of her. I didn't have the heart to scrub her ears or muzzle, so she still has some paint on her. Right now she's curled up in the chair behind me giving me the Basenji stink eye! I told her how shiny and pretty she looks and how good she smells now but she isn't buying it. Probably the only good news in all of this is we now have a GREAT photo of Maggie for the 2012 Basenji calendar contest. Back to the bats.   

Sunday, October 17, 2010

HOLY TOLEDO! We got a lot done yesterday. The Room of Doom is now divided into several rooms - Glow in the Dark Room finished! Butcher Shop - finished! Aracrnophobia - finished! Curse of the Mummy - finished! The Bates Motel, the Morgue and the Werewolf - works in progress!

Last year my brother Rich was the dead guy wearing the chest plate and guts I'd made. This year the dead guy is a prop with a Haunted Hedge motor in him. Noise actives the motor and it shakes hard and moans loudly. Also in the morgue this year will be a live actor under a bloody sheet who sits up when you enter the morgue! Should be good for a few screams!
It's raining today so we ran around pulling HUGE garbage bags over all the characters. The rain won't hurt them, but when the stuffing gets wet everything tends to sag. Speaking of stuffing, I use plastic grocery bags to bring dimension to my characters. It's light weight, fluffs beautifully, repels moisture and they're free! I have my friends and neighbors trained to save their grocery bags for me (HOORAY!) I used to use big garbage bags which was not cheap.

Today I will work on fine tuning and finishing the Room (s) of Doom.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Have started installing CARNevil, all the main characters are in place, looks pretty good. Jim put up the trapeze artist and rigged a motor to swing the guy back and forth.

Awesome! Still need to do the Human Pincushion and set up a spot for my sister -in - law Cheryl to sit in a clown costume. Cheryl and my brother Rich add a wonderful, entertaining and spooky element to our Halloween displays. Haven't decided yet what Rich will be.

Started on the Room of Doom today. We've increased the footage from 240 sq ft to 600+ sq ft so there's a lot to do. Almost done with Aracnophobia.  Can't get into Room of Doom without running the spider victum gauntlet in the almost dark spooky spider's lair. Check out the poor guy caught today - he's doomed! Figure if clowns don't scare you the spiders should.

Granddaughter Elizabeth and boyfriend Dana, daughter Sherry and husband Jimmy are going to help me today with Room of Doom. I'll let the youngsters do all the hard stuff. I'll be happy if we get the huge glow in the dark room done today.

Finished the Four Legged woman for the Circus of the Dead sideshow. Got the hat and dress at Salvation Army (love that place.)

Just so you can REALLY appreciate what Halloween means at our house here are a couple of photos of the front yard!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

You're all probably wondering why a perfectly sane middle aged woman like me would want to spend six weeks every year working herself to death putting up a Halloween display; spending more money on Halloween than I will EVER admit to my husband; or worrying and planning all year long to do a fresher, bigger and better Halloween than the previous year.

Well, as most stories do, this one starts in my childhood. My Dad died when I was a kid and even though my Mom worked two jobs to support us, there just was never enough money for a big Christmas, so Halloween was my deal. Halloween did not depend on money. A few old clothes and a little imagination and you could be whatever you wanted for Halloween. Then it was just a matter of how fast your feet could carry you. And of course, you had to have a Trick or Treating plan. The people who were never home on Halloween, but always left a HUGE bowl of candy at their front door were always first. Then back down the block to the little family owned Viotti Winery. They would always decorate their back yard and all the adults would sit outside and wait for the kids to show up. I had my cheeks pinched more than once by those fun loving Italians. After that, the lady who made awesome popcorn balls. The good old days, back when kids could run loose like little Indian's and parents didn't have to worry about needles in candy or someone taking their kid.

When people ask me why I do this I tell them it's because my Mom scarred me for life (NOT.) At the tender age of 12 she told me it was my last Halloween Trick or Treating. I was devastated! I used my babysitting money and purchased the makings for a Peter Pan costume (the movie "Peter Pan" with Mary Martin had just come out.) All dressed up in store bought green tights and leotard I flew down the streets filling my bag to overflowing with candy for the very last time. After that year I got to chaperon my sister and brother on Halloween.

Now Halloween is about money, with kids picking out costumes at Halloween box stores that cost 30 or 40 bucks. This year I got to make a costume for my granddaughter, Sophie. She wanted to be a ghost and all the ghosts at the Halloween stores were too scary for her. She now has a ghost costume made of bridal quality white satin with a shimmering, ectoplasmic organza overlay. I hope someday she will understand how much that meant to me. Getting to share the whole Halloween costume experience with her. The rhythm of life repeating itself in a third generation of  excited Trick or Treaters. I like to think that someday Sophie will do the same for her children and grandchildren. I remember sewing costumes for Sophie's Mom when she was a little girl. One year I made her an angel costume with wings and a halo fashioned from coat hangers, a white feather boa and some glitter. It's still one of my favorite photos of her.

Now I am trying to pay it forward. Providing all Trick or Treaters (young and old) with the same powerful and happy memories I had as a kid.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Finished the Pirates of the Caribbean, used last year's Deliverance swamp cabin, worked out good for Pirates.

Finished Frankenstein, this scene was a pain to put up.  

Started on CARNevil today, finished four full size clowns. Still need to do 3 or 4 more clowns.

In between bending bailing wire, tearing DucTape, pushing in stick pins and using the HOT glue gun my fingers are a disaster! They are SORE SORE SORE!

Tomorrow we takes friends to San Francisco to catch a flight to Italy so my fingers will get a rest.

Here is the Tiger Tamer from Circus of the Dead in the sideshow tent. I got lucky finding the pith helmet, went to Salvation Army for a dress for the Four Legged Woman and found the helmet in a pile of junk!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Yesterday Jim put up the awning for the Room of Doom. Today he started hanging the black plastic to enclose the interior creating the pitch dark conditions needed for glow in the dark effects. It's warm here today so this has been REALLY HOT work. We've moved 40+ boxes (containing most of the small Halloween props) out of the garage and attic and into the Room of Doom for sorting and installation.

A couple of years ago we bought a large metal chadelier at a yard sale with the intent of turing it into a creepy chandelier for the tall ceiling in the Room of Doom. Never got around to doing anything with it. In between helping Jim hang black plastic, I've been working on the new chandelier. So far so good, love working with cheese cloth for Halloween. That and fabric stiffener are two of my favorite materials for "creepifying" stuff.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Jim has finished putting up the Room of Doom. He put up two more tents this year. The Room of Doom went from 280 sq ft to 624 sq ft. Jim, brother Bill and son in law Jimmy put up the Deliverance cabin and hauled all the heavy stuff out front. Halloween is starting to take shape at the Massies.

Went to the thrift stores today and found two more used costumes that were perfect for CarnEvil, Circus of the Dead! I am dressing six skeletons for a circus side show and needed small and cheap costumes. So far I have a snake charmer, ring master, Gypsy fortune teller and trapeze artist dressed.

The Bearded Fat Lady is finished. Found the PERFECT dress ($3.00) at the Salvation Army Thrift Store. The mask was only $15 online so she was really cheap to make!

Today I made two panels for the Anachrophobia Room. I used ceiling tiles and wired on skeleton parts, then I used spray foam to make guts. Then spray painted the panels in black, yellow and red. Should look excellent with spiders and cobwebs! Here's before and after photos.

Two years ago we bought a used chandelier at a yard sale. It was missing two lamp shades so it was CHEAP. Loved how big it was and thought I might do something with it for Halloween. Completely reworked the chandelier, should look great in the glow in the dark Room of Doom.

Also finished putting up the sideshow tent. Sits over the fountain in the middle of the courtyard. Really tics me off that Spirit Halloween is doing circus theme this year. We've been buying/planning for CarnEvil since spring of 2009. Oh well. Next is the Scary Clowns. Have been gathering "stuffing" from friends and neighbors to fill out all the new clown costumes. Also have to make the Human Pincushion and the World's Strongest Man.

My house looks like a nuclear device went off inside. Halloween crap everywhere! But thanks to my new Roomba my floors are vacuumed!

Maggie is also getting ready for Halloween. We bought her this costume at Target in San Diego. Sophie and Grace thought it was so funny I just had to get it for Maggie Waggie. Doesn't she look spooky? She's glad it will hide her surgery scars!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Our visit to Dan and family in Washington was great. Lots of rest and family time. We got to Dan's in time to help celebrate Brandon's 13th birthday (hooray!) Brandon's favorite place to eat is Mazatlan, so we went there for a celebratory dinner.
Taught Dan, Alyssa and Brandon how to play Rummikube, LOVE THIS GAME! Our friends Henry and Pearl introduced us to it on a prior camping trip. Rummikube will make your brain hurt trying to figure out your next move. In exchange for whupping the kids at Rummikube they taught me a Wii car racing game. I was pitiful, I kept driving off cliffs, driving the wrong way, etc. Needless to say, after one complete game (3 races) the kids let me off the hook!

After Dan's we spent a couple of days at Cousin Jerry's house in southeastern Washington. Never been to that neck of the woods before and it was a big surprise for us, it's desert! Really beautiful basalt bluffs nestled up against the Columbia River, gorgeous county. Like California, Washington has turned their desert into agricultural land. Cherry's, potato's, spearmint, apples, wine grapes, corn, asparagus, etc are grown here. Had a really nice visit with Jerry and Lucinda.

Back on the road again, we head to Portland for a stopover with Niece Jeanie. It was nice to see Jeanie, Paul and Cal, but it's time to go home. We had planned on driving half way home and stopping at Seven Feathers Casino for the night. Instead, we kept driving and made it home by 9:00 pm. We were pooped, but really glad to be home. 

We traveled 13,271 miles in the truck, hauled the trailer 8,121 miles, spent almost $4,000 on diesel, and had more than $6,000 in truck repairs. Alaska was incredible, we're already talking about going back. Loved the people, the spectacular scenery and of course the amazing animals! I will be posting lots more photos  on Facebook in the next week, so stay tuned.  

So now that we're home, the weeds are taking over, all of my roses need pruning, but everything will have to wait until after Halloween. It took three days to clean the four months worth of dust from inside the house and another two days to unpack the trailer. I also did 11 loads of laundry. I think Maggie is glad to be home, although I am not sure she remembers the house. I am off to see Kimmy, Jeff, and the kids for a few days, then it will be time to start Halloween. Just as Google changes it's Doodles for holidays and other noteworthy occasions, I will be changing our blog's format for Halloween. All the Alaska articles will be still be there, in case anyone needs to catch up on their reading. Thanks for following along!      

Saturday, September 4, 2010

As I said, we are homeward bound. In checking the route to Vancouver I found a road we had not traveled. It's called the Sun to Sea Road and it goes through Whistler, where the Olympics were held. It sounded like  one last adventure so I told Jim we should take it! Beautiful scenery, lots of aqua blue glacial streams, towering Canadian Rockies and fireweed in bloom, just gorgeous. Did I mention there were several 14 and 15% down grades, lots of hairpin turns, one lane bridges, etc etc. Our brakes were SMOKING and BILLOWING, Jim's nerves were shot, my nerves were shot,  it was not a good drive. During all of this Jim discovered our trailer brakes were not working. We got to Whistler really late, the campground where we were going to stay was $57 a night and you had to pay $1.50 extra for a shower. We found a campground south of Whistler that was cheaper so we drove there. Turned out their road was REALLY STEEP and long, but we finally reached it. Had really nice views of  the mountains and valley and the showers were free! Turns out Whistler is NEW NEW NEW, looks like Lake Tahoe, so we didn't stop for a look, just headed to Vancouver.  Fortunately the road from Whistler to Vancouver was great and we made good time. The road skirts Howe Sound for some 20 miles before entering North Vancouver. This is where we came to a complete stop, traffic was backed up as far as we could see. Occasionally we putted along at 10 mph, but mostly we sat in the sweltering heat (80 degrees) wondering what the h... had happened. Traffic finally clears and we quickly reach the border crossing. We sit in line for an hour, get within maybe a dozen cars of the border guards shack and see a sign that says RVS CANNOT BE IN THIS LINE! So now Jim is trying to figure out how to get in the next lane (which is coned off.) And of course, NO ONE is going to let us in, even if Jim drives over the cone things. We finally get over, pull up to the boarder guard and he says "what are you doing in this lane!" We explain there was an electronic sign that told us to, this pisses him off because no one told him about it! He lets us go without an inspection (hooray.)  We are now at Dan's for a few days, then on to see Cousin Jerry Parker and then we'll stop overnight in Portland to see Niece Jean. Hope to be home on Sept.11.
We have arrived in Prince Rupert. The town sits in a sheltered inner harbor protected by a rim of islands along the Inside Passage. Once a thriving port town of 18,000 there are now less than 10,000 people. In the past few years the town has lost its logging, fishing and tourist industries. Many businesses are closed up, lots of homes are for sale. We walked down by the harbor, an area referred to as Cow Bay. In 1908 a load of Swiss dairy cows was shipped to Prince Rupert by barge. It wasn’t until the cows arrived that they realized they had a problem, there was no way to unload the cows. The solution? They tossed the cows overboard into the bay. Thus the name Cow Bay. Good thing PETA wasn’t around then!

We visited the Museum of Northern British Columbia where they had an amazing collection of First Nation artifacts. We walked the town’s sunken garden which is being restored to its former grandeur. So much for Prince Rupert.

We drove around the bay to Port Edward (population 577) to see the North Pacific Cannery museum. In the late 1800's, from the Sacramento River in California to the Yukon River in Alaska, there were almost a thousand salmon canneries. Today, most of these rural canneries are gone, burned down and forgotten. When these canneries operated, workers in Canada were segregated. Whites had individual quarters and did office work or held managers positions.

Indians lived together in communal buildings and fished or mended nets.The Chinese also lived in their own communal building and they fished or did construction on the cannery.

So much for Port Edward, 250 miles out of the way, wasn't worth it. Time to get serious about going home.