I knew a smooth Halloween was not in the cards for me when I stepped out on the front porch three days before the big event to discover what had been making that curious thumping and crashing sound the night before.
Raccoons ate my pumpkin!
Actually there were four uncarved pumpkins marking the porch steps, and thankfully they only dug right inside of one. Another had some holes in it, and the remaining two had the sort of surface scratches that meant they were probably going to stay non-rotten until I actually had to cut in there and find out. Also, it was garbage day, and the trucks hadn't been by yet, so I was able to run the two wrecked ones to the curb for instant removal.
The one I cut into was fine; I didn't risk it with the other. The cut-into one became a cat, with spaghetti whiskers - and may I recommend boring holes for the spaghetti rather than expecting it to push in there on its own? I broke a lot of spaghetti while trying not to have to look around for a tool that would do that. The non-cut-into one became a canvas for a second cat drawn on with marker. I forgot to take pictures of either, mostly because they weren't finished and in place until about 45 minute before the first trick-or-treater, a neighbouring zombie with impressively cut-up pants, arrived to terrorize my house.
The night before Halloween I was invited to an outdoor movie party, wherein the guests would be watching a movie projected on a sheet at the back of some friends' house. I missed last year's party but I knew that good use was made of blankets and several layers of long underwear, so I dressed accordingly (which you should read as 'unattractively') and filled a bag with blankets and walked over - only to find the back yard was empty.
I didn't have the wrong house.
The party had been moved to indoors.
Also, a bunch of other people decided to wear costumes. So while I was in the bathroom peeling off layers and trying to decide what I could leave on that would look remotely presentable in a party situation, everybody else was wearing cool wigs and/or hats and crazy-yet-flattering outfits and taking silly pictures of each other.
It was a fabulous party and I had a great time in spite of being way too hot but about three minutes into attempting conversation with people I either knew well and like a lot or had never met but wanted to know better I realized I was about as exhausted as I've ever been in my life. I mean, I could barely string a sentence together.
Thankfully about an hour in somebody handed me the resident baby and I was able to spend the rest of the evening curled up in a chair with her. Sleeping babies are only slightly less restful than briefly awake babies that stare and stare at you before snuggling back in and nodding off again.
As I was leaving I ran into a friend who was just arriving. I told her I had cool wig envy and she said she'd had hers on for 20 minutes and it was itching her like crazy and did I notice she had only one false eyelash on because they are super hard to glue in place? I had, but said that I thought it was part of the effect, which was true. I mean, how cool is that to show up in a weird dress with a crazy long-haired wig and one false eyelash? You're like creepy demented zombie lady, then. That is totally going to be my goal for next year, when probably it will turn out to be an outdoor party after all.
Of course the nice thing about having Halloween on a Sunday is that you really can spend the whole day just doing that. And since I have a thing about decorating the lawn, this is a super nice feature.
When I first moved here, there were no kids to take candy off my hands, which was problematic. So I started doing all these beacon things - several carved pumpkins all lit up and glowing in the driveway, an open door, lots of lights inside, and so on. Leaf bags became a fixture - I'd draw faces on a bunch of them and gradually I started adding branches for creepy reaching arms and putting floodlights on them to make them a focal point.
And more kids did start to come over the years, mostly because more kids moved onto the block. But now I've made a tradition of the Leaf Bag Ghouls and the Headless Man (coveralls stuffed with leaves, accessorized with an old pair of men's snowboots and a pair of filthy work gloves) I really have to keep up with it.
This year's big project was the Giant Leaf Bag Ghost, rendered by stacking up a bunch of leaf bags and throwing a length of white cotton purchased for bag linings over the lot of them. Why do I still have a huge length of white cotton when I could have sewed it into bags, do you think? Because it won't hold a press, which is just so unsatisfying. I will totally use it again outdoors though. It makes a great ghost.
The Leaf Bag Ghouls are usually in a row, starting with a happy oblivious one and leading up to a really terrified one who realizes he's standing next to a Ghoul of the demonic variety. This year, they were progressively more scared of Giant Leaf Bag Ghost.
Leaf Bag Ghost's arms are fallen branches, and his hands are white cotton manicure gloves.
His face is courtesy of hockey tape. I couldn't face drawing directly onto the fabric in case I find a better sewing use for it some day.
He looks too happy to be scaring the Ghouls, don't you think? But they are easily frightened, and they're probably too short to see the smile on his face way up where I slid a beach ball onto the highest bag. He had to be a smiley ghost, because there are some very little children on the block just now. And I needed them to come up the steps because it is Not Good when too much candy gets left over after Halloween.
Of course, once they got to the door, they had to park themselves near Headless Man.
Headless Man got a head this year because I found a broken broom handle in the garage that still had a partial broom on top. Somebody threw it on the lawn at some point in the summer and I never got around to throwing it out. Also, I decided not to be so attached to the white pillowcases I bought at a discount store 20+ years ago. I mean, you can wash these things after all.
As the day progressed, an improvement suggested itself, and the pillowcase was filled with leaves and the hockey tape was pressed back into service for a face.
Talk about luxury for Headless Man. The pumpkin with the cat on it went into his lap, so he spent a very relaxing evening indeed.
The other pumpkin should by rights have been in the driveway on beacon duty but I quickly discovered it was very easy to knock the spaghetti whiskers off its face while dashing past. So I moved it over to the other side of the steps where the Ghouls were standing, leaving the driveway dangerously empty.
Solution: dragging out the two evergreen topiary things that normally stand alongside the porch steps, and putting bags on them, and taping pumpkin faces to the bags.
It would seem that these were the most popular decorations of all, so I think they may make a return appearance next year.
The beauty of all of this last minute do it yourselfness with stuff you already have is that it can be quickly disassembled and put back where it all belongs - no need to find storage crannies for a giant skull or inflatable lawn-sized light-up witch's cauldron.
And now that it is for all intents and purposes November I can sigh a deep sigh knowing that everything is already back to normal except for a giant bowl of un-treated candy it is now my job to consume.
Oh, and Christmas sewing. But I will wait a day or two more before panicking about that.