Sunday, November 26, 2017

And the Howl Happened

About a month ago.  In all the previous years I haven't written  much about the Howl because I've either been crazy busy getting ready for it, crazy busy doing it, crazy busy cleaning up after it, and then too damned tired to even think about it.

That's not what happened this year.  After the Howl being a major part of our lives for the last 15 years or so, this year we backed off.  Mutually the Sick Puppies (Jeff, Rob, Bob and myself) decided that we were officially burned out.  Time to let someone else take over.  

We still gave suggestions.  Jeff did a lot of consulting, and finally couldn't stand it and built one scene.  Bob and I helped a bit at the last with some decorating, and I got people into costumes.  For the Howl itself, we opted to work the line, keeping the customers entertained while they waited.  That's actually really fun--I get more scares on the line than I ever have on the Trail itself.  That--and get our pictures taken a few dozen times.   I did get a costume made to go with the Swamp Beast mask.  (not obvious from the pictures, but I did made hooves (which meant wearing high heels, something I'm not used to) and the legs were padded to give that animal "backward knee" look.  I was pleased to no end when I heard someone comment "how can they stand with their knees locked backward like that??"

Bob reprised his Spider Lamprey persona:

And yes, that will freak the hell out of people when it comes at them in the dark (I'm very pleased with that mask)
It felt good not to be exhausted, but a little strange and sad.  We used to start coming up with ideas around - - - May.  Start building in June.  Lots of enthusiasm.  But over the last several years we just sort of ran out of ideas.  And energy.  And there is that desire to do "even better" every year, with the constraint that we had to build from scratch (and then immediately tear it all down).   It's just time to make room for something else in our lives  (although Halloween will always be my precious and my biggest holiday.  I just love the idea that people give into whimsy for one month of the year).
Oh--remember the Toucan mask?  Laura made a costume to go with it.  Maybe one year *I'll* go cute instead of creepy---yeah, no.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Up, Up, and Away

Can't believe I've been home from my trip for three weeks and haven't written about it yet.  That's what I get for living my life instead of writing about it.

Anyway--quick New England visit.  Quick, because I believe in the dictum that "fish and guests grow stale in three days."  For many years Mike would come visit us in October--to be here for Dad's birthday and so that we could work him to death at the Howl.  But Dad stopped having birthdays, and this year we really cut back on the Howl (more on that in the next post, whenever that happens) so I opted to go up there instead.  

I remember when flying was glamorous.  No more.  There seems to be a polite protocol in planes where you ignore the fact that you're pushed up against some stranger for a few hours (wearing earbuds helps you sense of personal space).  And the Atlanta airport reminds me of a kicked-over ant nest--thousands of people rushing around clutching their carry-ons like so many eggs.

The problem with Boston is that there is *so* much to do--one must narrow it down to time and stamina available.  Day 1 we went to the DeCordova sculpture museum to wander the outdoor sculpture garden (there is an indoor museum as well but they changed their hours the day before we went and were therefore closed).  There is much lovely stuff, and strange stuff, and stuff that makes you go "huh"?

These are several truly huge piles of newspapers that were put out there about 4-5 years ago, and the art is seeing them slowly become part of the landscape.

Wednesday was the big day.  We got up way too freakin' early (like 4:30) because I thought it would be really amazing to go see the fall colors from a hot air balloon (I'd never been in one).  But the balloon was scheduled to take off at dawn and the place was about an hour away.  I did have some doubts when the alarm went off . . .

But it was worth it.  The morning was chilly but not really cold, and it was clear, and the weather cooperated (one of the passengers had scheduled the trip 5 times before the weather was right)
You start inflating the balloon with a big fan. 

Then you turn on the heat.  After a few minutes, you notice the ground slowly dropping as you gently lift.

It's quite the view.  And very peaceful just drifting along.  We mostly went at treetop height (Mike grabbed some leaves for a souvenir).  High would have been fun--we went up briefly but the wind was too strong and the trip would have been over far sooner.  Then came time to find a place to land--this can't be planned in advance because you never know where the wind will take you.  New Hampshire is 85% wooded areas--and most of the rest is roads and highways (and it's frowned upon to land on one of those).  So mostly you look for a house with a big yard.  Our pilot Tony said that occasionally someone tells them to get the hell off their property, but mostly people find it exciting.  Tony does keep up a long tradition.  When the Montgolfier brothers first created hot air balloons in the 1700's, they would terrify farmers who had never seen anything in the air before (except for birds).  They would be grabbing for their pitchforks, which could be rather hard on a balloon.  So the brother took to carrying bottles of champagne with them to appease the natives.  After we got the balloon down and deflated, Tony presented the yard owners with a bottle of champagne and a voucher for a flight.
And he had some more champagne and brunch for us after the flight.
We got home in time to have lunch with Margo, go shopping at the farmer's market for salmon for dinner, and visited the library where they volunteer.  I got to try out a virtual reality machine--which is fun and strange.  Margo has a rather long video of me mostly just wandering around waving my arms--but I was in a cartoon kitchen making sandwiches and frying eggs.
Thursday we were either going to go to Salem (which I expected would be pretty tarted up for Halloween) or to the aquarium in Boston.  But when I got up I realized that I had traveled Monday, been in the car Tuesday and Wednesday, and would be heading back to the airport and home on Friday.  And Mike had been driving all those days.  So I proposed a stay-at-home day.  It was a pretty and cool day, so we took a long walk around Dedham (their town)--lovely place with old architecture.  I watched Mike put some gold leaf on a project (it took three days of work to get the piece ready for the leaf) and showed him how to paint eyes on the back of glass discs.  I got to see the wild turkeys that like to saunter around in their yard.

It's odd to look out at this and know that we're 12 miles away from Boston Commons.
  The three of us played a truly epic game of Scrabble.  Margo's son Rich had given them a supersized Scrabble board--bigger, with quadruple point letters and words possible, and more letters.  The downside is that it take much longer to play a game.  At the end of 2.5 hours of playing we were close to a three-way tie--there was a six point spread between the highest and lowest scores (and I'll hang my head and admit it--I was at the bottom)

Friday saw me safely home and back with cats that love me (their Moonlight didn't show quite so much antipathy this time, partly because I carried a can of cat treats around with me, but I think she was happy to see me go)