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Tag Archives: Halloween

The Trash Can of Shame


This is it.  This isn’t even the kitchen trash where I sat for two hours waiting for the 10 trick or treaters. This is the trash can in my bedroom where today, the day after Halloween, I proceeded to eat most of the leftover candy. I only ate two Almond Joys. I bought these because I don’t like them. It appears that no one else does either because my roommates ate all the Reeses and left the coconutty rejects.trash2

I admit to also eating two bags of candy before Halloween which forced me to buy said Almond Joys. In my favor, I lost a bunch of weight this summer and have been trying to gain it back. This seems to be helping except that I can’t sleep and am forced to blog as penance. I wish I could have given more candy away. But with Halloween being on a Wednesday and the weather being a chill 15 degrees, I knew I was not going to meet my charitable goal.

Not that I didn’t try. Here are my window decorations. You can’t see the strobe light I’ve got inside which makes the demons flash!


Here are a couple of brightly coifed characters hanging out on my porch.


The best moment of the evening was when one of the children asked if he could give the seated character a hug.  It gives me hope that a new generation of children is full of empathy for those who are different. This piece was originally rising from a grave at our workplace haunted house. The grave read “R. I. P.- But I wasn’t tired yet!”

How lucky am I to work at a facility which has both a haunted house and children who come in to trick or treat??!!.  Since it’s a “long-term care facility” the residents chose to have a haunted hospital room and a graveyard.   Residents played a nurse and doctor dressed in precaution wear encouraging people to get their flu shot with a giant syringe. Beside them was a dummy covered in cobwebs and surrounded by bats, (especially on point as two bats invaded the place this summer.) Another resident was the Rock Star gatekeeper to the cemetery. I ushered people directly from the hospital to the cemetery giving them a quick brain transplant made from paper mache in between.

Before work, I was so busy bringing in costumes and props that I forgot my own costume.  Luckily I had an extra “Annoying Orange” costume in there that I could slip over my clothes. Several residents surprisingly remarked that it fit my personality perfectly. Those are definitely very much like my eyes and teeth but my skin is a bit more wrinkled.


When I got home I was exhausted and probably looked scary in a pasty white person way. My first visitor came alone and looked exactly like this.


I was caught off guard as I could not fathom that any young person would know who Charlie McCarthy was. I started to ask him but he was not talking, because of course, he came alone.

I am alone now and very awake with a sugary irritation in my head.   I swore at the computer and at Microsoft Publisher before I left work. Then I ate more candy. Our staff agreed, maybe less is more.  Perhaps next year we will have a parade instead of a haunted house.  The haunted house did keep the residents busy for a month building something to share. One of my favorite touches was the SAD light which was repurposed to show skull xrays. We also purchased twelve extra super jumbo bags of candy. It was a joy to watch the residents share these with the visiting kids.

I spoke to a resident today about death. They shared that their spirit will live on without pain. I am reminded of all of the spirits who live on in me through my exploits. Someday I will join with them in a haunting of this world. Until then I will celebrate whenever I can even when my trashcan betrays me.




On living to be as old as my mother did

Samhain or Halloween is a time of transition from one year to another in the pagan calendar. Spirits rise and snow falls, at least here in Anchorage. I just had a landmark birthday in that I have lived to the age my mother died.  My life has been unlike my mother’s. I have not married or had children. I am unlikely to die this year. Yet I am stung by the awareness available to me given both my distance from her experience and my similarity in age and temperament.

I spent most of my life trying not to become as trapped as she felt. Instead of resenting commitments, I have learned to take more time in making the choice to commit and to treasure moments of uncommitted time each day or night when I share her somewhat common inability to rest. Like her, I have a mess of books aside my bed where I can escape to a world where I do not exist but where I have the freedom to love and fear on a grand scale.

My mother and I shared a love for William Shatner. She would watch TJ Hooker and I would watch Star Trek. This week at work I searched YouTube for an old horror movie to show the folks. We wound up watching “Valley of the Spiders” with Shatner in the role of a veterinary doctor up against an army of eight-legged adversaries. The film was dated enough not to scare the pants off sensitive viewers but contained just enough scares that people chose to be late to dinner in order to catch the ending.

I work at a long-term care nursing facility. Most everyone there feels trapped. Some are trapped by life and some by death. My job is not just to distract them from this feeling but to encourage appreciation of their choices. These facilities used to be called “nursing homes” but they were rebranded because no matter how hard we try they are more like hospitals than homes.

There is a revolution coming in this area. The members of my generation will lead it demanding a different kind of care that does not include being trapped in a regimen of vital signs every few hours and thickened liquids.  These are small efforts to prolong life that few people appreciate. Life and death are vital concepts in my work. What constitutes a life? Is lying in bed all day okay? Can institutionalization be lessened by surprise and humor? Could singing be one of the best therapeutic interventions ever? Can it be fun to laugh at death?  That’s what Halloween is about. This year the residents have chosen to host a Haunted House with a Hospital Room and a Graveyard.


Winter in Alaska arrived just this week. The mountains wear their white hair proudly. The snow has fallen only lightly in the lowlands but it’s cold enough to discourage a sexy  Halloween outfit. I’ve connected with friends and family in the last week and remembered how full of life my mother was until she was not.  She was a lover of Halloween, The Fourth of July, of Christmas and of Sunday dinners.  I continue her tradition by making up as many holidays as I can. I resist the promotional “National Bubble Gum”, “International Chocolate Brownie”, and “Salute your Soldier” Days to make each day a celebration that is not dictated but becomes itself.

The First Day of Snow is a natural one for most people I know and there is much walking around the town. The Day of the Most Mistakes is one that usually falls on Saturday, the end of my work week. The Day of Deliciousness coincides with the cooking group and The Luckiest Day of the Week is the day on which the Bingo game is held. I dress up for all of them, wearing a fancy apron or a silly hat. There may be many logical reasons to fear the darkness of winter, the upcoming election or the result of a medical test but there is also my mother’s way.  My fondest memory of her illness is when she explained from her hospital bed that she had made a week’s worth of soup for us and it was in the fridge. I hear this now from other women who are losing what we call “reality orientation” but in truth they have located their most important reality, the ability to show love and hospitality.

Everyday will have a new guest knocking at the door. It may be winter, a giant dinosaur, a new roommate or a death.  The treat may be candy or a bowl of soup. My mother is with me now as I write this thinking of chocolate and what it means to be a young at heart elder floating in eternity, grounded only in hospitality and humor.

Here is a funny costume I saw today.


Happy Halloween!

Take a bite out of Trump-cake

Wanted to share this Halloween treat hack with you in time for weekend parties. This is my effort to get out the vote in the sweetest way possible. Top your cupcakes with an upside down candy pumpkin add some eyeballs and a smush of yellow frosting and you will have your own “Take a Bite Outta Trump-Cake”


Obviously, I am not the best decorator so if you create a successful rendition of this cupcake, would you mind taking a photo and adding it to the comments? I would love to see them.

Cheap DIY Halloween- let it begin!

I’m going on vacation for a week so I am starting my decorations tonight. I made a big  spider for a spidey web and a mini skeleton to ride one of those twirly bike things you put in a garden. I love the spirit of creating one’s own decorations. It’s probably the process of finding stuff around the house or in thrift stores that amuses me. Repurposing items is a good creative challenge and keeps me out of trouble as the days get darker here in Alaska.

We have a bike like this in the garden at my work.


 Here is a gentleman I made out of a pencil, some skewers, tape and tin foil. Maybe I’ll throw a black cape on him.


He’s more flexible than I am! This took about 20 minutes and he is about a foot and a half tall. If you want to festoon your home with glittery death you could have a bunch of kids make one each and learn a bit about anatomy to boot! Note that I kind of skimped on the ribs.

Here’s the spider which is all tinfoil and tape. It’s about two feet wide. It’s not heavy and the legs can be bent into any shape on that cheap spider webbing. I have to add some black dots for eyes.


I guess I’m on a mission to encourage everyone to make decorations instead of buying so much. I’m not one who wants everything to look “life-like”. I would rather everyone have their own version of a spider than a mass-produced one. You could make a plump spider or give it a nice little hat. It’s supposed to be more fun than scary,

I’m not a purist though.  I bought myself an inflatable  Tyrannosaurus Rex costume online this morning. My excuse? I’m turning 59 soon and I think it will be so much fun to wear anywhere. Okay, maybe not to the airport or a store or riding a bike but definitely for shoveling snow or for work!  What do you think? Could I get away with this at church? Can you imagine going up for communion? How about a twelve step meeting? It seems anonymous enough!


Tis the Season to SCREAM!!

The clocks are going forward which is SO stupid in Alaska where most of us have seasonal affective disorder. It’s going to be pitch black when the school bus comes no matter what time you call it. It’s also going to be cold and for some children, way up North, there will be polar bears waiting to eat them at their bus stops.

The only redeeming aspect of this weekend is Halloween. Most kids will go to malls or well orchestrated Halloween Townes or Trail events.  But we still have some old school ghouls with their porch lights on. One family in Mountain View has their home open as a Haunted House this weekend.  My roommate and I have put our unit on The Trick or Treat Map and are almost through decorating. Sad to say, I am almost through the first THREE POUND bag of Halloween candy as well. Here are some photos of the yard. Nothing was purchased  except the $3.50 zombie head, which I decorated myself.


This next guest is a favorite of mine. My roommate created it and it has a seat of honor right by the door. I am using gender neutral language because even though it looks like a chicken, I don’t want to make assumptions.


This creature reminds me of the  Malcolm McDowell film, “O Lucky Man,” which featured the following result from an advertisement for paid participants in medical research.


A not so lucky man!

We also have other obscure guests on our porch.


Yes, that is a rat with a rotten banana. How about a grave with ketchup?


That is a stake, not a steak which I believe is more commonly associated with ketchup. On the subject of scary food, how about a really obnoxious orange tree?


My roommate made an excellent sign for us since we live in The Valley of The Moon.


We do our best with very little cash but I did buy one of those laser lights that you see on TV which make it look like there are fireflies everywhere. I consider it a great investment as it works for Christmas as well as for indoor parties. Now I will never have to hang lights again.  Hanging lights is not my forte. The ones you see on the window above were originally hung by me but I caught my roommate rehanging them so they would be more artistic. I am messy but Halloween can be messy, I hope. At least as messy as election season.

Maybe that’s why my seasonal affective disorder is so bad this year.  I’ve lived here a little too long. I need some more adventures that don’t involve being cold, wet, or  the online dating of Republicans. Perhaps I will put the zombie as my primary photo on OK Cupid. I seem to peek the interest of men in Florida. Does that mean that only really inaccessible men like me? or are people in Florida more likely to fantasize about the cold? I don’t fantasize about Florida. I dream of a state with less expensive health insurance and a few less Right wing zealots.  .

Please feel free to stop by my house this Halloween. I only get a few trick or treaters. I mostly decorate to keep my recovery strong. After all, there is no better time to be obsessed with death and doom! Except, once again, election day.

Living on The Dark Side

A few photos to illustrate my mood:

I've got a growth!

It’s not a bush, it’s a growth Buddy.

Welcome to your doom

Welcome to our final restroom

Yes, Halloween is gone but I have two new jobs starting in the next couple of weeks and an impending sense of doom. I had a scary actor dream last night where I didn’t know my lines and the play was cancelled because of me.  I’m feeling most inadequate at getting all the prep work done for employment.  Every time I think I’m done with the paperwork there’s another bale of it.  I should be excited. Instead I’ve started reading Holocaust literature again.

It would help if there was snow. Alaskan winter nights without snow are desolate. Nobody comes to rob your house or is screaming in the street.   I went running tonight with my little headlamp and my reflective winter hat.  It’s warmer running outdoors than sitting in my house.  We keep the heat at around 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  My sister told me we should bubble wrap our windows to keep the heat in. It sounds like there would be much postal tape involved and I would make a mess of it.  It’s pretty convenient just to sit under the covers and mope or swear at some form I’m trying to fill out.

I attempted to make business cards today.  You make them 10 to a page then print them out on this cute little paper with 10 cutouts. Unfortunately, I backspaced and one of the cards disappeared, then three more lost their photos. Perhaps God is telling me to replace the cute little photo with a skull and crossbones.

I got a new smart phone because I thought it would help me feel professional. I keep stabbing it with my finger to make it do something. Today I dialed my landlord by mistake. He thought it was funny because I usually only call to tell him something is wrong. i pretended everything was okay.

So don’t go and worry about me. If my paperwork is incomplete so I can’t work tomorrow I will make fudge instead.  Even if I do work I can make fudge later.  I can also wear my annoying orange costume from the Halloween store to keep me warm.

Closing up The Halloween Store and other spooky adventures

I have been blessed and spooked by my temp job at The Halloween store.

My first observation – My God! What kind of world do I live in? There is absolutely nothing anyone needs to buy in this store and yet people are. I bought my fair share today on 50% off day.

Want to know what people got? Rick Grimes. I have never seen Walking Dead and probably never will but I know what he wears.


I wish I had come up with that caption but I am too uninformed.

Most asked question:  Do you have the mask from  (fill in  comic  book/horror film/cosplay which I ( the writer) have never heard of). Describe it as a kind of a white mask.  My answer to this is, ” I heard they have him at Hot Topic downstairs.”

Oh another most asked question, “Does my butt hang out of the back of this, ( fill in your choice of nurse, soldier, convict, policewoman, first mate outfit)?”  My answer: “You can wear leggings.”

Scariest question: ” Do you have a Slender Man costume?”

Looks like me and my father

Looks like me and my father

What did I buy? I bought only things I could wear on a regular basis such as some lovely red dalek knee socks and a waist cincher that turns any skirt into a pirate/peasant/hippie dress.  I also got a Pirate over the shoulder bag which will be my new go to bag for when I just want to carry my id and a key while riding my bike or on board a leaky boat, (it’s 100% plastic, thus waterproof.)  I dressed in my own private pirate wear for Halloween. One of the basic pieces is a pair of bright red balloon pants I got in Paris.  Some times people are confused because it is not the sexiest of pirate looks. I tell them that middle aged pirates are meaner.



The hair scares young people to death!

I got some funny items to use for dramatherapy which is another one of my work identities. These  costumes are silly so that individuals and families can have fun with their issues. They are easy to characterize and don’t take much fit. Best of all they were free discontinued items such as The Annoying Orange, and Framed art work into which you can put your own head such as a self portrait of Van Gogh and American Gothic.

I made my own costume for a party I went to.  I tried to think of the thing most everyone  fears the most. Gluten. I wore all tan, drew on an eye mask, taped the  title “Gluten girl” on my tee shirt, used an old sheet for a cape, wore brown stockings and carried a loaf of bread.   Two people immediately announced that they were Celiac  ( about 1 in one hundred are) and the majority of the rest admitted they were gluten intolerant.  It wound up that the minority of people at this event could actually eat gluten. I persisted in hitting all the gluten haters with my loaf of bread until they laughed.  I could have come as halitosis or herpes and started fewer health related discussions. Gluten freeness is the new Stay Free Mini pad.

I love how I look bloated with carbs here

I love how I look bloated with carbs here

Did I mention I have half a pizza box on my head as a helmet?

Now let’s show you a really scary picture. I was hiking up a mountain with some friends the other day.  It was very misty and we couldn’t see much. We thought the climb would be worth the view on the top but the view was like this.

This was actually the furthest we could see on the whole trip.

This was actually the furthest we could see on the whole trip.

But look what I got a  nice clear shot of.

Clearly droppings from a bear who likes berries

Clearly droppings from a bear who likes berries

On a happier note, The Halloween store provides a bit of joy and laughter to the world. There is an ice rink in the mall where I saw a fine adult skater wearing one of our “Ollie the Ostrich” costumes which makes you look like you are riding on the bird’s back. It made me proud.

Three cheers for goofy people!

Three cheers for goofy people!