Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stirling Castle Graveyard

There are few places in the UK that I will visit over and over, no matter how many times I have been, and towards the top of the list is Stirling Castle in Scotland. It is similar to Edinburgh Castle, sitting on the top of the city as a castle fortress.

Many battles and ghost stories here....but , for this audience, I will focus on to the graveyard.

Below the castle is an very old (in US terms) graveyard full of incredible tombstones.

For the front yard I plan to create something close to these monuments - definitely Chris Follies :)

Completely unrelated....
For those of you going there or have been here in the last 8 years.....I have to agree with almost every local that I have talked to. The limewash on the Great Hall looks out of place. I know they restored the great hall to its original look, but it just looks like they put stucco on the building....:(

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Graveyard ideas

Besides the full Davis Graveyard. There are other graveyard ideas I would like to try in other parts of the yard. These are displays that will not likely be seen, so they would all be "Chris Follies"

I thought about recreating famous grave markers. HP Lovecraft, Poe, Vincent Price, Boris Karloff or just other notable figures (the very tall Celtic cross for Flora McDonald would be on the top of my list!) I have done a bit of work on it, I have seen the actual graves of some people I would like to recreate - but most of them are monuments and are massive in scale. So I would need to research actual graves (not just the monument) and see if they exist and create the "Famous Graveyard"

I recently finished "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman. Throughout the book he mentions 12 - 20 gravestones and a ghouls gate. I am a fan of his work and graveyards, so it is an exciting idea to me to actually create the graveyard from the book. I could ask permission, but I won't.

In my back yard I have a large weeping willow - which I love and hate (that will be another blog entry) that is perfect for a graveyard. A friend of mine (who knows these things) informed me that willows on gravestones are usually used for the death of children. Creepy and sad.
I think this area would be a great place to take the idea very seriously and create a very old graveyard and monument wall in the backyard.
I have a vision in my mind of a cross between the graveyard at the ruined abbey in St. Andrews (top) and the Greyfriars graveyard/kirk (bottom), Edinburgh (both in Scotland). I love the tall moss covered (ruins/cemetery walls) that are covered with monument plaques that are almost unreadable from age. This graveyard would have no "clever" tombstones. I want this one to look "real."

I was also equally inspiredby the graveyards at both Stirling Castle and a small graveyard outside Roslin Chapel on the way down to the castle ruins, and one of the most memberable things I ever saw was a graveyard, walled off in the middle of a sheep field on the Isle of Skye, oh, and then there is New Orleans.....but those are for another day.
:) As if I have the time.

I have seen the enemy

I know where it lives.

Bring your pellet guns and follow me.

The Enemy

October 31, 2009

I know, it is only November, but I am already thinking about Halloween 2009.

Right now I am going through photos from this year's haunt and for the book and continue to put away decorations both in the house and in the shop. This has given me a bit of time to really look at things.

I know that each year when we start to set up that I have to let a lot of ideas and standards go. Just not enough time and resources. Each year I think I get a bit closer until I look at the pictures.

They pictures are fantastic - the props, well, some of them, not so much so.

On a whole, it is an impressive display. I mean the yard is 120' wide - that is a lot of props! (There are over 60 tombstones alone. And I still need more to fill up the empty spaces!) So, for years, although I have made an effort not to do "crap" stuff and almost nothing store bought, some of it is just not what I would like it to be - but I live with it because I need to.

Favorite example - the spider - ugh! Can someone explain to me why the prop you hate, people like? I get a dozen or so comment cards a year telling me it was their favorite thing. Really? Have you looked at it? You must be seeing it at night. Actually, that doesn't help much, it looks horrible in the dark too. Whenever I see it in a picture or on video - I cringe. Then there is the whole webbing issue - which, when I bring up, husband crawls under the desk to hide.

That is just one.

Not to being negative, some of the props I am happy with, the mausoleum and her ghost are close to perfection.

So, in 2009 I want to improve the props that look like shit (and work my way back from there). And make only a few new props. I want the days of saying "it's good enough" behind me and start making things that I can take out of the yard on its own and still be impressed.

Which has always been a bit of a dilemma, creating things that look creepy in both daylight and darkness. I have talked to several haunt owners about their fantastic props and they always say to paint it in the light that it will be viewed in. When I tell them that I have the range from day to night.....they smile, wish me luck and ask me to share how I did it if I ever pull it off.

Then there is in the inside for the party...making the small attempt that I did this year was good. But it brought into sharp focus, how much farther I need to go.

Like my sister and I joked years ago when we came up with our fourth version of the tombstones (current) - that by version 5 or 6 we should be happy.

Crap! That means I got to make more tombstones!

Now I am going to go hide under the desk!

Who am I today?

We have to wear name tags for work when we are out in the community representing our splendid company. I have a habit of forgetting mine often or have been known to trade with other workmates to see if anyone notices.

One of my workmates had two custom tags made for me for Christmas. I wish I could wear them in public (without getting fired) :(

They are magnetic, so I am currently using them to hold up frog pictures in my office.

Look, there is another

real frog on a pumpkin!

This is Yoda on a pumpkin.

A workmate of mine's son has frog, and, being the Frog Queen that I am, I get updates and occasional pictures of Yoda. This one is my favorite. (big surprise :)

I think that Yoda is a perfect name for a frog.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

He is right, he does not sleep

I am at home sick yesterday, perfect opportunity to catch up (as if) on my reading. As always the nonfiction pile is much larger than the fiction pile at my house so I thought I would tackle the bigger problem.

I am feeling a bit lost and a bit more out of control when it comes to my life at the moment so the book "Write it Down" sounded good. I remember picking it up, longer ago than I would like to admit, thinking that it was a good plan for the lost red head girl.

I get to chapter two....wait a second,...she is telling a story about a guy named "Marc Acito"
You have got to be kidding me. Really? Honestly, felt kind of strange...don't know why. Small world. :)

He was talking about "The Artists Way". That book is haunting me, I have picked it up at least two times a year for at least 5 year, We have even talked about it ....I just cannot seem to get past the first few pages. Hummmm, I am beginning to believe the universe is out to get me on this one.

I might have found the answer. I will write it down as one of my things to do :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

The winner of

my birthday card contest is from my sister.

I got a lot of very funny cards this it was tough. Thanks to everyone for participating :)

This is so perfect for me. Aren't we all glad I don't have any offspring? :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I got a banned book

for my birthday! My friends know me so well. :)

The Book of Bunny Suicides

LOL! You gotta read these! Thanks Babbling Banshee!

The soundtrack

to revamping the living room consisted of:

Tom Waits - all 123 tracks on my iPod

to break it up (while husband was helping)

The soundtrack to Wicked
Kate Bush - Hounds of Love (always Kate in there somewhere)
Liam Finn - I'll Be Lightning

and of course Dr. Horrible (that is my soundtrack for the year, of course.)

If you love something set it free

I do love this birthday card. It is inspired. This one is literally pulled out of thin air :)

I was so proud of myself when I found it, I knew exactly who I was giving it to :)

I gave it to him, he loved it, but secretly ....I was sad to see it go.

But it came back to me for my birthday!

Funny, the friend that gave it to me said "I was so proud of myself when I found it!"


I found the coolest present for Lex

but I can't post it on the blog, cause her dad reads it......she might accidently see it. But trust me. It is so cool. I am sooooo happy!!!

I hope she gets to keep it, her dad may steal it from her.....crap, I knew I should have gotten two!

"See, I am not really a wino"

she said as she took the empty glass that she requested and proceeded to pour half of her white into a the glass and then fill the rest with water. (My jaw dropped)

Husband and I look at each other. Did that really just happen?


I dislike white wine as much as the next person :), but I would not even add water!! That is just alcohol abuse!

I finished my pinot noir "water free" thank you very much. I guess I am a wino - but you all knew that. :)

They are following me

and I am scared.

It appears that there was a Lutheran Teacher's Convention in Seaside. We happened to be there just as they were breaking out for lunch. We ran for cover in a "Funarcade" hoping they were not going to play video games (BTW- I need a Lord of the Rings Pinball game :)

When we got out, they were all safely back in the convention hall (in Seaside, really, they have a convention center, yes we were surprised too!)- we made a break for the car and headed back to Cannon Beach.

.....then... a few days later...

we were having lunch in Cannon Beach near our hotel, and there they were again! A crew of them sat down next to us!

When they started counting seats in the restaurant to make sure they had room for the bus load that was on its way......yikes! I ate fast. :)

You know, the christians didn't used to scare me ...but after prop 8 passed in California, I have completely lost heart :(...I find myself avoiding them so that I do not burst out screaming! :)

Must think of happy thoughts....graveyards, kitties, pumpkins, skeletons......ah, yes, I am much better now :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Of course

the cobweb mantle cover and the skulls go back up, and stay up all year. Why do you ask?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Why, why, why?

both the cats and husband ask...."why do we have to disrubt our lives! The room looks fine."

Listen, you all know the drill, if you all want to continue to live here than you will bow to the Frog Queens will.

You fuzz balls, get your paws out of the paint tray and quit bugging me. Seriously, I am not buying that "I'm starving" stare....go away, there is dry food in your dishes.

Yes, husband, the ceiling needs a second coat of paint. I am not saying that to make you crazy, It is a fact.

Listen everyone, the sooner we get this done, the sooner we can all get back to normal.

I bribed husband with a new TV to get him to help, I think the cats want caviar.

See what I have to work with!

If I must

sleep on the plastic, then I will, but I won't like it, it is not very comforta . . . . zzzzzz

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I am on vacation

....but when I think of work, this is the image that comes to mind.

They say that money corrupts, I am willing to give it a try, because, this working for a living sucks!!!

"Man, your embarassing us...

you gotta cut down on the nip, buddy."

This was the look I got from Dorie and Hal as they were looking at me and then at Mason rolling around on the floor like he we was possessed, in a pile of catnip.

As you can see, I spent the first day of vacation torturing my cats. Looks like I am off to a good start :)

That cats are saying "WTF?"

We are repainting and decorating our living room, it has been about 17 years, I think we are due :)

Anyway, took all the furniture out and paper covered the wood floors, so the cats are completely confused.

All the comfy couches are in the middle of the room so they might as well be brand new to explore! The big bonus is that the music room is now a cool labyrinth of stuff from the living room....they are going to sleep good tonight.

BTW - thanks to Preston for helping us move the big stuff into the garage. :)

Friday, November 7, 2008

I am just two loads away

from having all my laundry done and put away for the first time in 2 months. No more getting dressed in the basement! Funny the things that get put off for Halloween.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Things not everyone knows

about the Davis Graveyard.

Beside creating and installing a display the Davis Graveyard hosts:

The Milwaukie High School Dance Team - they perform a "Thriller" type number in the driveway. Yes, we stole that idea right from Rocky Pointe, thank you Cydney, I hope you are enjoying your retirement :) We raise money for them through donations and events.

Community Open House - we invite people to spend the afternoon in the yard asking us questions and looking at yard from behind the scenes. We have a crew that comes in and helps us handle the crowds. The dance team performs, takes donations, and sells treats to raise money.

Fundraiser - Bane of the whole season for me! After two years, I cannot seem to get this one off the ground. :( Lot of work and money for not a lot of return. We made several props and tombstones - even got a friend to make a custom tombstone. We did get a few donations and some good deals on supplies, but if we did not pay for everything ourselves for the event, it would make no money. In fact it costs me more to have the event than we raise, or very close. Not likely to return next year. At least that is what I am saying today.

Raffle(s) - We make a prop, this year, a large monk figure that is auctioned for charity. We make it, take it to the venue, and then deliver it to the winner. We also sell tickets at our location too. This year we purchased a Bucky (human sized) skeleton, aged it and sold tickets for the dance team at our events.

Make Props for The Bishop Cemetery - We over extended ourselves this year in helping our fellow haunters (we trade with them), but their yard looked fantastic. We took some of the props we made for the book and expanded from there....a bit too much. I don't think I will do that many props for someone else again, unless we scale down our own haunt :)

Coffin Cruiser Hearse Club - This year we partnered with the local hearse club to visit our events. This is a great opportunity to work with like minded people in our community. They are the greatest group to work with. (Special thanks to Dan for making all the custom tombstones!)

TV, print and radio - I send out about four press releases during the season to let people know about the graveyard and our fundraising efforts. Jeff and I take turns at the PR thing. Husband works at home and handles the bulk of the contacts.

Hosting on the weekends - we run the display on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We are out there each night making sure everything is running and answering questions - along with selling raffle tickets for the dance team.

Halloween Party - Host our own party - FUN!!!

Close the Street - for Halloween we close the street with the generous help of the Milwaukie Police Department. The cadets come help so that they can get the hours they need for their training, we get safety for the thousands of visitors/trick-or-treaters. Win, win for all of us!

When I started typing this I thought I would be far more impressed with the scope. Hummmm, guess that when it is happening, it seems like more work than I have listed :) I am just a "sissy" as my friend has said.

And . . . .this year, we held a tombstone workshop, helped host and presented at FrightFest Northwest, attended and presented at Hauntcon, worked with a local film maker for a graveyard scene, received a grant from The Clackamas County Cultural Trust, attended and presented at the Rocky Mountain Haunters convention, sponsored the Haunt X Awards and worked on our book.

It takes Husband and I and about 12 family/friends (that are family at this point) to make this happen. I would be dead half way through without them :)

I wouldn't have it any other way! Happy Halloween!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Have I missed any trick or treaters?

I say that throught the gate into the larger crowd of people in front of the gate, looking for children in costumes to come forward with their bags to say "trick or treat!" It is a large crowd and not everyone knows that we are handing out candy. I found that announcements to the crowd worked well.

And I get a few that make there way to the front of the line. I hand them some candy and keep an eye out for more.

"If you have a three musketter bar, I will take one of those." comes from the lady standing in front of me (by herself, no kids.)

I think, "you will, will you?"

For good PR reasons only I look through the bin for some candy, this goal is distracting me from all the things that I want to say out loud to her, but I can't because there is a crowd of mostly civil people and they should not all have to pay for her rudeness.

I had her the candy and she takes off - no thanks, nothing. I bet she did not even leave a donation.

I didn't die

I finally got around to sending my perfect play list to 94.7 a few weeks ago, and the ultra charming Gustav had me come in on Halloween to share. No big deal? Well, . . . . .

#1 - it was Halloween evening, I should be at the yard helping set up. So husband had to do it all on his own*. :(

#2 - Don't care for public speaking. I can do it, you know, on the small office presentation basis, but knowing that there are a LOT of people (well, I might be flattering myself a bit there) listening, scary!
This is because I have to be nice and say nice things....not the first words that come to mind. Filter must be installed AND working!

I was sure I was going to die.

But Gustav was patient (like he had dealt with nervous people before :) and we got through it. He helped me promote the Davis Graveyard so we could get the people out there and raise money for the dance team and share our creation with the masses.

Oh, and let me play a few songs. I got to play Kayleigh by Marillion! Fish is one of my favorite songwriters!! (Sugar Mice is my all time favorite!)

Afterwards, I know, most of my friends were saying...."Really, a Kate Bush song, only one? Really?" ;)

Even though I made it through the broadcast, I totally blew it because some friends of mine were in the building on another station talking.....a voice in my head said "It's Friday, you should ask the receptionist if Marc is here".....nah, that would be silly....and I really should be going. Given another opportunity, I would have likely said "fuck" on the air - or something as hugely embarrassing.

I drive away and turn on the radio....yeah, he was there, I could have crashed their party too :)

*BTW - Things have been working great all season....until Halloween night - we had to change out a projector for the talking head and the graveyard ghost blew her amp!!! So by the time I got home....Jeff was missing me :)

Chris folly #1

I had several Chris follies this year. :)

Since I seem to have started a tradition of reading H.P. Lovecraft around Halloween, I thought it would be only fitting that he had a tombstone.....and a small monument.

It was not enough to carve a skull with a candle on some books on the tombstone, I had to over do it by creating a stack of books and with a skull and have candle light mounted on top (that hooked into the custom 3 volt lighting system for all my candles :)

This is not part of the tombstone but an actual monument that sits on the ground next to it. A Chris folly.

When we were taking the yard down this weekend a friend would not let me put it away, he said it was too cool and needed to stay out all year.

That is why he is my friend :)

I know, I know

...but this one made me laugh outloud!

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