Halloween recap


Crow’s Costume:

My Hero Zero

My Hero Zero

My Hero Zero, lights off

My Hero Zero, lights off

Arrrgh, those boot tops. Friday was a really effed-up day, I was supposed to have the day off but Crow had a no-sleep night mid-week and my plans didn’t work out. So I wasn’t home to inspect the costume after school, and didn’t see that the elastic that holds the boots in place had detached. So they were very mobile all night, and there were puddles, and one of the clips on the battery packs snapped off and I had to just shove the thing down the boot. Crow was totally great about it, I offered to take them off but he was too delighted with his costume to consider it even though walking wasn’t the most fun thing.

As usual, we invited friends over to trick-or-treat with us and/or hang out and have pizza and cocktails and check out the costumes. My neighborhood is very enthusiastic about Halloween. Many people decorate, we give out good candy, and the streets are full of kids. It’s fun.

We did not play the Elsa drinking game, because we would have died, although not as quickly as if we’d been drinking for every Avenger that came to the door. My friend’s parents also joined us this year, which is why I have any decent photos at all. Photo credit: Rose (thanks!!).


Because the week was less smooth than I had hoped, I had to drop a few projects from my list. So objectively, I know that the house looked OK, but I had trouble enjoying it because it wasn’t what I had wanted to do.

DSC_5991-3 pano_1


Clever observers may notice that I put my witch crash up on the roof backwards this year, so her legs don’t match up to any reasonable flight pattern. This was not worth another trip up the ladder.

Kids love those stacked pumpkins by the walkway, which are just a bunch of garage-sale Funkins jammed onto a stick. The ground was so hard this year (stupid drought) I could barely get the stakes into the ground, so they’re a little tipsy. The poor pumpkins have been doing this for three years now and are really in crappy shape but kids keep asking if they’re real so I guess it works. I might paint them next year.

Fog! Fog! Fog!

Fog! Fog! Fog!

You know who loves fog machines? My kid (seen here pre-costume in his skeleton shirt or as he calls it, ‘X-ray shirt’). That’s why there is a very large amount of fog in some of these these pics. One of the machines didn’t work this year, which is why no one called the fire department. Crow plus two fog machines probably would have alarmed the neighbors.

I had planned to set up the pop-up canopy in the driveway without the top, and just string lights on the frame, but with the rain I thought it made sense to keep the top so that I could stage the fog bubbler and fog machines under there. The rain didn’t come back, and folks ended up taking chairs out there and hanging out to people-watch, so that was a win and I will probably do it next year.

Halloween 2014: It Is What It Is.

Deep in Halloween-land


Very very busy right now, but here’s a hint of what’s going on, in photos.

Crow previews his My Hero Zero shirt

Crow previews his My Hero Zero shirt

Crow's pumpkin pail, now with EL wire

Crow’s pumpkin pail, now with EL wire

Seriously, I’m crazycakes right now, and not just because I ate some of this crazy cake, which one of the Sisters of Death Awesome made for Crow’s birthday earlier this month:

Crow gazes in wonder at his cake

Crow gazes in wonder at his cake

My Hero Zero cake for Crow's 8th birthday

My Hero Zero cake for Crow’s 8th birthday

I’m crazy-busy but this has been a good October overall! See you after Halloween, with pics!

KISS the girl*


I have these in my bathroom now, expanding my mermaid wall. They’re not vintage, but they’re from vintage molds, so it totally counts.

Now I want to visualize everything in mermaid form. I feel like there should be a Mr. T mermaid. That should happen.

KISS mermaids.  Because YES.

KISS mermaids. Because YES.

*Joke boldly stolen from one of my fb friends. Sorry, Mike.

Artist’s Etsy shop

Halloween Update


This will not the be last inappropriate object held by this snowman.

This will not the be last inappropriate object held by this snowman.

Garage-sorting went very well today, the spiders in the garage all say hi. Also, ‘something something eat your soul,’ but I don’t really speak Spider so it could have just been, ‘have a nice day, freaky biped!’ Probably the soul thing, though. We grow ’em big out in the garage.

My indulgence for this Halloween is a bubble fog machine. We saw one at a neighbor’s house last year and Crow was entirely delighted by it. It makes bubbles that are full of fog, so when you pop the bubble, there’s a little poof of smoke. Pretty much the pinnacle of fog-encasement technology.

The whole point of fog-bubbles is to chase and pop them, which isn’t really compatible with having decorations all over the lawn, so my plan is to set up a little dance party space on the driveway. I’ll block it off with a little DJ booth, manned by DJ (something skeleton-y, still working on that part), and run the bubble fogger there. Have I mentioned that we get a lot of trick-or-treaters? We get a lot of trick-or-treaters. Our neighborhood has a reputation.

I brought this skeleton inside tonight to give him a sprucing up (not sure about the glam cape for this year, that was last year’s look), and test my idea to use the base of an old stand fan to keep him upright. It looks like that’s a go, by the power of zip ties. If my life needed a tagline, I would consider using By The Power of Zip Ties, at least once October hits.

DJ Something Clever.

DJ Something Clever.
The music they constantly play, it says nothing to me about my life.

The Doe Is a Lie


It was another all-city garage sale weekend, so the Sisters of Death and I were out at it again on Saturday, filling the Minivan of Death with an amazing assortment of crap.

The overall quality of the sales was meh, especially compared to last week’s haul, and unlike last week, none of the people holding sales were drinking frozen watermelon margaritas with their neighbors at 10:00am.

One of our early stops was a sale where I honestly have no idea what happened. I believed, deep in my heart, that I bought a carton with one 32″ fiber optic tree (ONE! One tacky-ass tree! Ah ha ha), and also that I bought a lighted deer sculpture and got a second non-working one free. This was the sign accompanying them:

Papa Deer Needs Love (don't google it)

Papa Deer Needs Love (don’t google it)

So I thought the box the sign was taped to contained the doe, because of saying ‘lighted deer sculpture’ on the outside. The sad love-starved papa deer was in a heap next to the box. I did not look inside the box. This is mostly a lesson about looking in the box.

The cardboard carton for the fiber optic tree had a price sign (with no hint as to the emotional state of the tree) and I could see the front of a box through the top, so all good there.

Slightly Homicidal Tree

Slightly Homicidal Tree

I made a deal for the deer, the fiber optic tree (can’t resist the fiber optic, it’s so modern and glamorous!), and this kinda pretty gold metal tree, with a sharpened point hidden under that star.

That gold tree fell out of the back of the van the next time we opened it to add more crap, exposing the maiming spike, so we moved it into a seat, where it tried to kill one of the death-sisters by falling over on her. Our working theory is that it’s haunted.

So! The boxes. After I got home, I wanted to photograph/test everything before garaging it (see, I’m trying to be better about that!) but the way that went was, I opened the deer box and found…nine new boxes of clear Christmas lights. Huuuuh. So I guess those are for applying love to the Papa Deer, although 900 lights is way too many for one smallish deer? And there is no doe? Okay. Not really upset about this, as I can use the lights and I don’t even know how many damn deer I already have in the garage from this year’s garage sales. I also found a wireform sleigh this year, but probably 3/4 of my deer are in the feeding position, so it’s going to look like Santa picked all the lazy stoner deer if I hook them up to it.

So then I was curious about the fiber optic trees, and opened the carton. The carton of FOUR TREES. Four! Four tacky-ass trees! Ah ha ha. I have more fiber optic than 90s telecom advertising.*

Lawn styling by massive drought.

Lawn styling by massive drought.

I’ll note here that I also get to decorate my office building’s lobby and our department’s holiday breakfast, so I will actually be able to use four fiber optic trees for the betterment of mankind. Most likely, the Deluxe Special People-Person will be waving its happy candle in the middle of a fiber optic forest [wow that sounds like the beginning of a fanfic I don’t want to read].

In summary, I have no idea what happened at that sale. I have a lot of trees and maybe there’s a doe wondering why we drove off without it? Maybe there never was a doe and it was all a ruse to get rid of the light strings?

While the gold tree has not managed to kill or maim anyone I know, the same cannot be said for the 7.5′ artificial tree I bought for $5 at one of the other sales. That thing has tasted blood.

I also bought that tree in a closed box, mostly because I really don’t care about the condition of it – I want to build a Portal Tree for the lobby this year so I don’t need anything nice. Nice is probably my enemy here, but I was still pleased to find a decent tree in the box, and I set about assembling the bottom 2/3 on my front lawn. I propped it against a deck chair for support, and leaned down into the box to get a look at the stand. And then it came down on my head. You wouldn’t think that would hurt much, but it really did. Don’t take a Christmas tree to the head, kids. It’s not as cool as it looks. I’m available to film PSAs on this matter.

*When I think of 90s telecom advertising, I remember these AT&T ads, which were on some of the mst3k VHS tapes I played into the ground. I still sometimes find myself adding, “YOU WILL” to plans for future versions of things. Yes, I do eat lunch alone most of the time.

Sokath, his eyes uncovered!


Story from Crow’s IEP last week:

Crow filled out an All About Me worksheet the first week of school, with help from his new aide. It’s the usual stuff, I’m blah years old and I like to blah and here’s a drawing of my family and of course,

Question: When I grow up, I want to be…
Crow: Six

His aide asked the teacher if she should try to drill down and get a more typical answer. The teacher said, no, Six means something to him and it’s not a wrong answer just because we don’t know what it means.

If you’re not grasping how huge this is, she’s letting Crow speak in Crow’s number-language and realizing that her inability to understand him doesn’t make him wrong. I explained the number language to her when we met last Spring, and included a recap on my User’s Guide to Crow back-to-school intro flyer, so she knew she was seeing a language barrier and not a lack of effort or ability.

Huge. Simply huge.

I suspect that somewhere there’s a picture of a person doing a cool job while wearing the number 6, and that was the picture in Crow’s head, and the most important thing about that picture in his head is the number, so Six is how you’d talk about it. We’ll figure it out later.

One of the shorthands I use for my life is, it’s Darmok all the time around here.

I’m referring to the Star Trek:TNG episode Darmok (I mean, OBVIOUSLY). It’s the one where they meet the aliens who only speak in metaphor, and they can’t communicate until they have a shared foundation of stories.

If you haven’t seen it, or haven’t seen it since 1991, here’s a nice edit with a distillation of the communication theme from the episode. The joy on the face of the alien in the last scene in this edit, when Picard has FINALLY understood him for the first time makes me tear up a little. I know that look.

In my experience, communication is a matter of patience, imagination. I would like to believe that these are qualities that we have in sufficient measure. — Capt. Picard

Yeah, I just quoted Picard in a blog post.

I heart other people’s stuff


All-city garage sales are the best! Yesterday, I shopped with two of my friends who, now that I think about it, need blog-pseuds. For now, I will call them Sisters of Death because it amuses me, and they are sisters. Anyway! The Sisters of Death and I met up at 8:00am to go a-trolling. We loaded into the Minivan of Death and picked a neighborhood at random.

Here’s the back of the van at 10:00

10:00 haul

10:00 haul

Yes, there’s a disco ball back there, and a lot of Christmas and Halloween lights, and a mummy costume. The big doll is a Christmas animatronic, I think it’s the same kind as a Santa I picked up last year, in which case it will move its head and arms creepily while holding a proportionally-unwise lit candle.

Deluxe Special People animatronic

I don’t know why the text on the box is Deluxe Special People, as there is only one person inside, whose special deluxeness is somewhat debatable.

And that might have been the biggest sales-copy score of the day, except over in the lower right corner of the van there’s one of these:

Vintage Massage Pillow

Vintage Massage Pillow

It’s a massage pillow, and the box tells us that it can be enjoyed by Businessmen! Sportsmen! Salesmen! I’m guessing those are the three models men came in at the time this was marketed.

The instructions. This appears to be the deluxe version, which is good since I gave them $1.00 for it. I demand only the finest.

How to use your massage pillow

How to use your massage pillow

“A vigorous benefit that is pleasingly penetrating” Well then.

My goal is to use the pillow’s motor in a Halloween prop, the awesome box and instructions are a bonus.

We shopped hard, finally giving it all up for the sweet embrace of awesome burgers and sweet potato fries at 2:00. At the end of the day, the van looked like this:

Final haul

Notable additions are the FIVE NEW BLOWMOLDS I got at one sale.

Beco candlesticks

Beco candlesticks

Candles by Empire

Candles by Empire

I’ve never seen the Beco candlesticks before, and I’m not getting a lot of information about them from googling. The glitter letters will need to be touched up, but I feel that I am up to that challenge. The plugs are clearly original, so I’ll be taking a look at the wiring before I use them.

But who cares about candles when we have the Creepy Choirgirl of Doom? Seriously, people used to voluntarily have gangs of these on their lawns. Maybe they’re less threatening when they still have pupils? I do not understand.

Poloron choir girl

Poloron choir girl

She has been the victim of a bad attempted repaint, which is both unfortunate, because it looks like they tried to use house paint on her robe, and fortunate, in that I can only improve it, right? Not this year, though. I’ll put her out as-is this year. If she doesn’t kill me in my sleep first.

And that’s why All City Garage Sale Day is one of my favorite holidays.

School has started. I can start obsessing about Halloween now.


School is going very, very well. Crow loves walking to school, and is delighted to get there. His brain is buzzing from learning multiplication and division, he wants to do flashcards and play math apps and skip-count up to 1000. I’m saying the boy loves numbers, and school is giving him plenty of numbers so life is good.

He’s been in school for two and a half weeks and has worn a Planes shirt every day. Not the same one, he has several. He just hasn’t been to school in a non-Disney shirt yet. I remember a time when I might have actually cared about this, instead of just noted it with a, “huh, that’s weird,” while giving Crow a choice of which one to wear that day. Apparently my time of being overly invested in what my kid wears to school is over. Except for Halloween. Still overly invested in that.

Halloween 2013 - particularly pleased with the DIY crashed witch on the roof.

Halloween 2013 – particularly pleased with the DIY crashed witch on the roof.

Now that school has started, it’s only reasonable to focus on the next phase of the year: Halloween Prep, and incidental early Christmas Prep. That may sound more impressive than it actually is; it mostly involves going out to the garage and figuring out what-all I bought at garage sales over the summer. I really don’t know what’s out there. I should do a better job of photographing things before they go into the garage.

Very little of what I use for Halloween was bought new or in its current form; if it was new, it was probably bought in November at 75% off, otherwise it’s all garage sales and DIY. I do all of this stuff off-season and on the cheap, which is why I lose track of it during the acquisition stage.

The other thing I like to do in September is start on Crow’s costume. I don’t want it to go to the last-minute (and yet somehow it always does, there’s a lesson there somewhere but I probably wouldn’t like it so IGNORE). So first we need to figure out what options to offer him (open-ended questions are not Crow-friendly).

In response to the obvious idea of making something Planes-based, there’s not a lot of intersection between an anthropomorphic vehicle costume and Crow’s costume preferences. He’s not a fan of hats (see The Man Whose Mommy Carries His Yellow Hat costume of 2012), and bulky costume parts will be shed as quickly as possible (see Jetpack Joyride costume of 2013 – the photo below is the best one I got all night).

Man with the Yellow Hat Which Was Not Worn (2012)

Man with the Yellow Hat Which Was Not Worn (2012)

Jetpack Joyride (iPad game) costume.  There were orange LED lights inside the flames, it was pretty sweet.   I also put a speaker in it, to play the game's theme song.  That was not a hit.  (2013)

Jetpack Joyride (iPad game) costume. There were orange LED lights inside the flames, it was pretty sweet. (2013)

So, not Planes. We’ve been watching SchoolHouse Rock lately, especially the multiplication ones. So here we have My Hero Zero.

My Hero Zero, the best Halloween costume for a number-obsessed boy!

My Hero Zero, the best Halloween costume for a number-obsessed boy!

No hat…number-based…basically pjs and a cape…this has potential. Crow is enthusiastic about the idea!

Wow, that’s so easy, I can just forget about this whole Halloween thing until late October and slap it together in an evening! Yes!

Ha ha ha no. This is me. If a costume project does not reduce me to a profanity-laced questioning of the divine order of the universe at least once before the end of September, why it’s just not a real Halloween. I love Halloween, and I love deciding that I totally know how to do things I’ve never done before and should just dive right into projects well beyond my ability level. What could go wrong?

So I’m thinking Electro-Luminescent wire.

I’m thinking about it a lot, actually, and am eagerly awaiting my package from SparkFun so I can get started!

I showed Crow a sample of it and he is on board, he loves things that light up. I’m prototyping the cape tonight, to figure out the biggest cape I can make with 3m of wire for the border. Obviously, I’m ending it above his ankles, as the dragged cape only works in cartoons and for users who can actually fly.

Once I get this knocked out and the garage spelunked, I need to decide what I’m doing for an outdoor project this year.

I’ve needed this. August is our least-favorite month of the year, because most of it is the space between the end of summer school and the start of the new school year, aka the time when Crow’s need for structure and intense activity gets blown the fuck up, it’s too damn hot, and the world gets dumber and meaner. August is the worst. I will not miss it. September is great, September is when anything is possible, including building a giant pumpkin out of coiled strapping and threaded rods. I will not actually do this, but right now I feel like I totally could get that done between now and the end of next month, because that is so far away. And don’t even get me started on all the stuff I could get done between now and Christmas! Sky’s the limit!

(*fine print: limits are nowhere near the sky, I will be lucky if I can just figure out how to get the sleigh and reindeer blowmold back on the roof this year after the Roof-Mounted Tree Is Suddenly No Longer Mounted On The Roof incident of 2013*)

Yay September! September’s birthstone is self-delusion.



Third Grade!

Third Grade!

Crow started third grade yesterday! He was nervous but brave.

He is at our neighborhood school this year, so we can walk to school for the first time. I don’t miss driving him to school, and I especially don’t miss parking there. We’ve been all over the district since preschool. Doobie and I walk with him and then we get to walk home together which is a nice way to start the day before I drive off to work.

His class is grades 3-5. If this placement goes well he could stay with this team until it’s time to leave for middle school. Crow’s school experience has been very good overall (if we pretend Kindergarten never happened, and we do).

Crow has been really into counting things with his hand-clicker lately. One day last week he and Doobie’s mom counted up every Cars toy and book he owns. The number was over 500.

This is why John Lasseter has a really big house.

This is why John Lasseter from Pixar has a really big house.

He has been collecting them for years. For a long time he just enjoyed lining the cars up or crashing them into each other, but gradually he moved on to re-enacting scenes from the movie, then to doing his own story mash-ups. The other night the toys from Planes were re-enacting an episode of Thomas, which was pretty far through the looking glass. It was a Percy-centric episode, though. I have strong feelings about several trains, but I really have it in for Percy. #OccupySodor

I’m sure there’s a Buzzfeed quiz about this. Which Thomas Character Makes You Stabby? The answer may surprise you!

Suit Up


I still haven’t shaken off that jerky encounter from yesterday.

I want to expand on what I said about not wanting to let things like this bother me, because if you don’t live in my awesome world, you may think that people being dicks because my kid stands out is something that happens rarely.

Ha ha ha ha ha.

At the BlogHer Special Needs session, Shannon from Squidilicious said that we need to learn to wear an emotional flak jacket in public. I tend to think of mine as more like body armor.

Last year, I helped chaperone Crow’s class on a field trip to the children’s museum. His sweet young teacher was shocked by some of the rude comments she got from other parents at the museum. She asked me if that happens a lot, and I started to say that it doesn’t but then I realized that it happens all the time but I barely register it at this point. The looks, the little comments made to someone else but loud enough for me to hear, the disapproving head-shakes – they still happen, I’m just not thinking about it.

I think the part of my brain whose job is to generate fucks to give about random people’s approval of my child/parenting has mostly shut down from lack of use.

this is me

this is me


And then something like yesterday happens, where it’s clear that there are people who don’t think I should be out in public with my kid, that we haven’t passed some kind of ‘you must be at least this normal to ride’ bar. And on the one hand, fuck those people gently with a chainsaw, but on the other (the hand without a chainsaw), I’m still capable of feeling shame when someone is trying to make me feel ashamed. Even when they have exactly zero legit reasons for doing so and we have exactly a millionty (©Crow) rights to be exactly where we are, doing exactly what we are doing. It still hurts, even if the hurt morphs into anger pretty quickly.


Gratuitous Pic of Crow on a Train

I said it’s body armor, I didn’t say it’s always effective. It sucks that just being out in public while disabled has to feel like so much disobedience and rebellion. It’s energy I’d rather be putting into other things, but that’s not an option. This is my life now. It’s why breaks like Doobie going to High Sierra Music Festival and me going away to drunkenly craft with my friends in hotel rooms matter so much – it’s a chance to slip the armor off entirely for a while.

Maybe one of my new responses should be to (perkily) ask people who are sharing their wisdom with me if they are familiar with Wheaton’s Law, and if they aren’t, just say, “It’s simple. Don’t Be A Dick.” with a big smile and turn away.