Saturday, October 31, 2020

Not Our Normal October (A post of too many photos)

Happy Halloween!

What a strange month in a strange year. 

Lots of things to catch up on, including a few things Halloween, and way too many pictures of leaves, so if you like photos, this is the post for you.

First off: No costumes. 

I never expected to have to go cold turkey on the making of all the costumes at once. I figured Aden would go off to college, and maybe every other year or so want me to help her make something again, and that would be fun. Mona's been mostly doing costumes on her own, but sometimes still needs help, and I liked shopping with her for fabric. Quinn had a few years left. We had been working our way through a list of different categories of creatures, and I think "amphibian" was next.

But no in-person school and no Trick-or-Treat--and frankly, no sense of time or feeling that one day is different from another--means no desire for costumes. So... no costumes.

However, I feel like I don't want 2020 to get to steal everything, and I know a lot of people pull up my blog at this time of year to see what we've made for Halloween, so I can offer up the pictures of some of the minis.

Every year for Christmas I use scraps from each of the Halloween costumes and make little mini versions for my kids to collect in a box. My thought was that instead of getting sentimental over the full-blown costumes and hanging onto them forever taking up space, my kids could have a little keepsake. Of course they currently hang onto all of it, but it's still a nice idea.

So, here are Quinn's costume minis from 2007 to 2019: Kangaroo (twice), Purple Cat, Blue Jay, 13-Lined Ground Squirrel, Skunk, Wolf, Pigeon, Iguana, Lobster, Lion Fish, Chimera, Hoatzin

(I have links here to all those actual costumes, but for some reason the images on the post about the 13-Lined Ground Squirrel aren't appearing, so I'll put that with the mini images.)

Kangaroo (2007 and 2008)

Purple Cat (2009)

Blue Jay (2010)

13-Lined Ground Squirrel (2011)

Skunk (2012)

Wolf (2013)

Pigeon (2014)

Iguana (2015)


Lobster (2016)

Lion Fish (2017)

Chimera (2018)

Hoatzin (2019)

I'm really sad not to have gotten to make any costumes this year. Maybe in 2021?

But instead, this month I put my Halloween energy into the window displays at the violin store. Normally the Bay View Neighborhood Association puts on an event called the Pumpkin Pavilion, and it's a weekend of pumpkins and music and food trucks, etc. Not such a good idea in a pandemic, so they decided to create a map of cool displays. We signed up, and had fun coming up with violin-themed spooky stuff.

I decorated the window on the left. I went with a Cell-O-Lantern, and a violin graveyard. There's even a coffin case with a violin Aden decked out as a vampire. And the white violin "ghost" in the back is an instrument we experimented with 3D printing a while back. (That's its own scary story.) I have lots of dead and destroyed instruments in our storage area, and decided a violin back or top cut in half could make a pretty good pair of headstones


Then to explain all the musical jokes in the graveyard, I put up a key on the side window of the store.

The window on the right side was all Aden's work. She wanted to do a sort of mad scientist laboratory using broken instruments.

I think my favorite thing was the scrolls in jars. They are just in water, but over time the water got good and creepy looking. (The scrolls also sank eventually, after they had absorbed enough water.)

For our efforts, today we received a GOLDEN PUMPKIN award, for best Halloween business display! 

Wasn't expecting that, but it made an otherwise lackluster Halloween an awful lot nicer. Next week we'll pack up all the headstones, etc., but I'll leave the Cell-O-Lantern up a little longer, and probably the jars of scrolls (mostly because I'm very curious what will happen to them the longer they sit).

Deviating from Halloween for a moment, the other big thing for me this month was that I got to spend a couple of weeks at our cottage in Michigan. I drove out there with just Aden, and it was absolutely the peak time to see changing leaves. We spent hours on that drive simply saying, "Wow!" over and over, and feeling ridiculous that we couldn't find better words. It was almost too beautiful, to the point that we were a little relieved after a couple of weeks on the drive home that things had softened to a more comprehensible level of beauty.


The original goal of the trip was to hand Aden off to my mom where she could isolate for enough time to then visit my brother's family in New York, but it didn't quite work out. She ended up spending time with her grandma in Detroit instead, while I got to see my friends for a weekend, and then Aden helped me shut down the cottage for the winter and we drove home together.

On this trip to the cottage I got to learn how to replace the heating element in the oven. (Plus now I own a nice new hack saw, because after driving an hour away to get the new part and discovering it was too narrow, I had to adjust the connecting plate by widening it to fit. Good times.) But the lovely thing at the cottage, is even though things go wrong and there are unexpected projects to do, it doesn't matter.

After months of being isolated at home, the cottage was a welcome break from that kind of frustration, and a way of embracing seclusion. The cottage is simple. It's easy to keep organized, there's no pressure to get anything done at a certain time. And I got to have some time to be truly alone, and it was wonderful. I kept a fire going in the fireplace in the evenings. I watched whatever DVDs I wanted from the library. I was unplugged from the internet (except for those visits to the library when I checked my email). I wasn't responsible for anyone or anything. I carved scrolls, ate garlic bread, and read books from cover to cover. I loved it.

Plus, I took walks and admired all those leaves and the lake. I don't remember a more beautiful fall.  (And keep in mind that I never use a filter on my photos. If anything, my camera kept toning down everything I was trying to capture.)


So, yeah. Very pretty. Not too cold, but not hot enough to make you sweat. Good jacket weather. On the days it rained, it was nice to be inside by the fire and read. When Aden was there with me, we watched movies and ate down whatever was left in the fridge.

The only sad part was knowing this should have been my annual writing retreat there if not for the pandemic. The past two years I've gotten so much writing done with my friend Fernanda, where we read each other's work and push each other to finish our projects. Although, to be fair, I'm not sure what project I would have worked on. Last year I proofread "Just Friends, Just War" which I published in the spring, and I added to "1001 Weddings" which is currently being considered by an agent (fingers crossed--I feel like this is my most marketable book to date). So I suppose if there were a year I didn't get my writing retreat, this would have been a good choice for it anyway. Still.

On the upside, I did get a kick out of seeing my first two books at the local library.

Okay, back to Halloween. The kids did what they could with it today. They made cookies. They made pie from actual pumpkins (which I've never done). Mona made some horns, so I guess we can say some costume work happened this year.

(They don't believe me that their cookies are cool, because they think it's just "Mom Compliments," but they are wrong. These cookies are cool.)

And now we're off to admire other decoration displays around the neighborhood. Tomorrow we may do a scavenger hunt for discounted candy. I still can't believe that our neighborhood's trick-or-treat finally fell on actual Halloween, and a full moon, and nice weather, and we didn't get to go. Yet another moment of 2020 where we had to make do and call it good.

I hope whatever your Halloween looked like this year that you enjoyed it! Happy October. On to the next month. (Leaving you with my demon dog! Spooky.)