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Author Topic: Halloween home haunts - what are you planning?  (Read 2124 times)
Miranda.T
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« on: October 08, 2015, 11:09:03 pm »

'Tis the season to be... scary.

With less than a month to go before Halloween, and with it falling on a Saturday this year, I was wondering if it might be fun to share any ideas for home/garden haunts?

We've just fetched down from the loft a mechanism we built three years ago, but hasn't had any use for the last couple as we've been out at events for the 31st, but this year my eldest wants to go on a (adult supervised) Trick or Treat walkabout, so after that we will be at home, ready to give the local children a little scare. Here is the body of it:



It's a mechanism to make a nearly full-size vampire dummy rise out of its 'coffin'. On the cross-piece we put a jacket stuffed with bubble wrap (light but filling), the front of which has pinned into it some material made up to look like a waistcoat, shirt and bow-tie (think Bela Lugosi). A vampire mask on a paper mache head goes on top, and black trousers, along with the coffin's lining material, are draped over the mechanism to hide it.

The electric screwdriver off to the left drives the bottom axle (I still need to find the connector for the two) to raise and lower the framework. The wires coming off it allow a circuit to turn it on, rotating clockwise or anticlockwise. The copper tape visible on the rod touches one of the bolts, making a connection to allow the controlling circuit to know the 'vampire' is upright. There is a similar one on the underside to allow the circuit to know it is flat.

Here's the control circuit:



The various connectors are for power, control to the screwdriver, inputs for the up and down position 'switches', output to a computer (connected to the button of an old mouse) to trigger the playing of an audio sample, and an input from a PIR.

So, someone approaches the 'coffin' and triggers the PIR. The circuit activates, the screwdriver starts and raises the vampire whilst the sound sample plays (hides the sound of the screwdriver). When the copper strip touches the bolt, the screwdriver is stopped. A timer hold it there for about 30s, then the screwdriver is reversed to pull it back down again, ready for the next victim...

Anyway, more pictures as we get it properly set back up. So, what are the other lovers of Halloween here planning?

Yours,
Miranda.
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GCCC
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« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2015, 11:37:25 pm »

That sounds pretty awesome.

We get so many young trick-or treaters that we've just gone with a jack o'lantern/pumpkin theme for the outdoor decor so as to not be so intimidating that the little ones won't approach the house. We're well-lit and the yard casts a definite orange glow, but even then we've avoided scary-faced pumpkins.

We have been considering, however, running a smallish haunt on the lot adjacent, but setting that up as a charity event, with either canned food donations for local shelters or asking for cash donations for cancer research.* Whether or not we'll ever be able to do that hinges on health and money, of course.

Miranda, don't forget you need shadows ascending stairs, somewhere!

For all you other home-haunters out there, there are a number of places where you can obtain animations (run from a video projector) which will cast singing pumpkins onto your (blank-faced) pumpkin, and a number of DVDs which will show humorous and/or horrifying images from your windows, not to mention flying ghosts, witches, bats or crawling insects and spiders on the outside of your house. These are quick and easy ways to add a little bit of "spook" to your home.





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Caledonian
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« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2015, 08:45:59 am »

Since I started studying in Amsterdam, this might be my first year to see Halloween actually celebrated. It's not big here in the Netherlands, but in multicultural Amsterdam almost everything is celebrated. (This includes saint patricksday, carnaval, the American independence...)
I hope to finally see what the whole Halloween thing is about...
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Miranda.T
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« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2015, 06:48:25 pm »

That sounds pretty awesome.

We get so many young trick-or treaters that we've just gone with a jack o'lantern/pumpkin theme for the outdoor decor so as to not be so intimidating that the little ones won't approach the house. We're well-lit and the yard casts a definite orange glow, but even then we've avoided scary-faced pumpkins.

We have been considering, however, running a smallish haunt on the lot adjacent, but setting that up as a charity event, with either canned food donations for local shelters or asking for cash donations for cancer research.* Whether or not we'll ever be able to do that hinges on health and money, of course.

Miranda, don't forget you need shadows ascending stairs, somewhere!

For all you other home-haunters out there, there are a number of places where you can obtain animations (run from a video projector) which will cast singing pumpkins onto your (blank-faced) pumpkin, and a number of DVDs which will show humorous and/or horrifying images from your windows, not to mention flying ghosts, witches, bats or crawling insects and spiders on the outside of your house. These are quick and easy ways to add a little bit of "spook" to your home.





*
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

All the best with setting that up; indeed a very worthy cause. A few streets near to us used to put on a massive Christmas light display with donations to charity, but unfortunately had to abandon it when it they started being invaded by hawkers and fast-food vans.

Projectors do indeed add an extra element to a display, and if you're really fancy you can project onto a mist (if you happen to have a misting unit) or a water droplet fan (e.g. from a garden sprinkler) to make the apparition appear to be floating.

We do indeed have steps down the side of the house (we live in an 'upside down' house that follows the slope of the hill), and I put a red filter over our security light in that side to highlight our garden graveyard (plastic skeletons apparently clawling their way from the ground, quite effective in the low light when surrounded by leaves). But yes, projecting creepy shadows... I'll have to have a think about that one...

Since I started studying in Amsterdam, this might be my first year to see Halloween actually celebrated. It's not big here in the Netherlands, but in multicultural Amsterdam almost everything is celebrated. (This includes saint patricksday, carnaval, the American independence...)
I hope to finally see what the whole Halloween thing is about...

Oh yes, jump in and enjoy! Halloween was not a big thing in the UK when I was a child, always overshadowed bu bonfire night, so I think that's one reason why I go a bit mad on it every year now (and of course we still set off fireworks, burn the Guy  and eat lots of baked potatoes and hot-dogs the following weekend).

Yours,
Miranda.
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GCCC
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« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2015, 11:05:01 pm »

I realize, like Phileas Fogg, that my days are crossed from the Eastern Hemisphere. So, while I'm waiting for darkness to fall, Europe and Asia will be in various degrees of facing Sunday morning. So, to all of you, Happy All Saints/Souls Day.

Miranda T., how did the home haunting go? Caledonian, how was your first immersive experience? Have you experience the post-Halloween sugar crash, yet?

I don't officially "open" for another 75 minutes (I usually man my post from 6-9 p.m., or 6-10 p.m. if the holiday is a Friday or Saturday, like this year) but I'm very concerned that Halloween may be cancelled in Texas this year. We've had a major rain event throughout much of the state, and I'm not even sure if my lady is going to make it home in time to play Bride to my Frankenstein. I just hosed any residual damp soil (not full mud, but close) off the driveway and porch. Normally by this time I'd have the rocker bench where we sit, the candy stand, the fan and the laptop (from whence we watch Halloween movies while waiting for the kids to show up) all set up, but it's still raining. We may at least have to forgo the electronics. It's still so humid I may not put my head on this year. Probably just as well my health didn't allow for setting up the "full" pumpkin patch this year (I simply could not manhandle hay bales this year).

If the rain tapers off like we'd been led to believe, I may stay open all the way 'til 10 to catch the stragglers. If not... Well, I'll be surprised if we can even justify staying outside 'til 8, let alone 9 (yes, I know we could just wait for them to ring the doorbell like normal people, and thus stay completely dry, but we stay in the back part of the house and don't always hear them when they come; plus, it's more reassuring to the parents to see who their kids will be dealing with up front).

Ah, well... First world problems, and all that. The dentist will have to pull out all my teeth if I can't manage to give away all this candy tonight, 'though...

Miranda, would love to see pictures of the place if you were able to get any. Caledonia, would love to hear your impressions.

Eastern Hemisphere peeps, hope you had a good night. Western Hemisphere peeps, hope you have a good night.
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MWBailey
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« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2015, 11:27:09 pm »

Nothing too elaborate, just me slightly dressed up, handing out goodies:



(yes, I tied the bowtie myself).
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« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2015, 12:09:40 am »

Zombie chef.  Went O.K. even though I could do nothing in front of the house.  Next door is doing building work so there are already too many trip hazards near my home.
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rovingjack
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« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2015, 03:15:34 am »



that's me, seems every year I end up having to shave for my costumes. The car isn't a delorean, it's a Bricklin SV1. So I guess the space time continuum got a bit jumbled on my trips back to the future.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2015, 04:42:41 am by rovingjack » Logged

MWBailey
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« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2015, 04:02:19 am »

Apparently, pith helmets and mint green bowties are hilarious, judging by the kids' reactions  Cheesy
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« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2015, 05:02:01 am »

Well, it stopped raining just before 6, so everything was a go. My lady even showed up before the first trick-or-treaters showed up (only just; she had to unpack after the first squadron came through), however the humidity was such that we dispensed with our heads this year; no one minded. The rain started again just at 7, but not heavy, and I suppose the kids had been cooped up indoors waiting too long to be allowed onto the streets, because the rain did not deter them (none of them really walked far, just from the car door of the waiting parents up the drive to the porch; I really need a contingency plan for next year involving a waterproof awning set up at the end of the driveway, so I can go the car with an umbrella, ask how many kids in the car, and just hand the candy in through the window). Rain slacked off again about 8, and the next wave came by.

Now, I realize that my use of the terms "squadron" and "wave" imply hordes and hordes of trick-or-treaters; this was not the case. Almost certainly the number of potential visitors were diminished by the weather; hopefully parents had gotten together to throw indoor parties in anticipation of rain. Regardless, we managed to disperse 99 bags of candy to the various Spidermen, Disney princesses, and sundry ghoulies, and still had to dip into the unbagged reserve. Do not think, however, that we had 99 kids come by; we did not. Because of the inclement weather, we decided to give each child who braved the elements two bags of candy. Some bags also went to a few parents, the pizza delivery guy... The neighbors and we determined we'd had our last visitor a little after nine, so we shut it down about 9:30. Pretty successful, considering the weather.

I don't know if they do it anywhere else, but there's about three groups of families who take their kids around in a flatbed trailer. Very efficient, and fun to see them come by, since they're usually done up as if they were in a parade. This year, with the weather, they only had deck umbrellas and glow necklaces, but still... Other, smaller family groups come by with the kids loaded up in the truck bed, and of course there are the two or single families in cars and minivans.

Nothing too elaborate, just me slightly dressed up, handing out goodies:



(yes, I tied the bowtie myself).


Very dapper; I'm glad the kids liked the look. I'm sure you did nothing to ham it up for them...  Grin

If you live in the general area I think you do, did you guys get any flooding? I really wish this rain had come before Buesher and Bastrop parks caught fire; that drive up 71 was depressing enough after the last one.

Zombie chef.  Went O.K. even though I could do nothing in front of the house.  Next door is doing building work so there are already too many trip hazards near my home.


Would have liked to have seen that. Sorry about your obstacle course. How was your foot traffic this year? Any impediments besides the construction?



that's me, seems every year I end up having to shave for my costumes. The car isn't a delorean, it's a Bricklin SV1. So I guess the space time continuum got a bit jumbled on my trips back to the future.


Looks good! Do you have one of those replica "Mr. Fusion" props on the back?
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MWBailey
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rtafStElmo
« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2015, 05:11:46 am »

Flooding all around us, but as far as I know, all anybody around here got was full-to-the-brim gutters and lakes in our backyards - but nothing in anybody's houses. Freeways and Bayous all over Houston were flooding; Buffalo Bayou and Allen Parkway were a river, and lots of people were flooded out of their cars in East and Southwest Houston, the Medical Center and just about eveywhere else. (Judging by the news, anyway. Why people try to get out and drive in that kind of rain is beyond me, apparently they have no braincells).
« Last Edit: November 01, 2015, 05:13:32 am by MWBailey » Logged
GCCC
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« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2015, 05:20:02 am »

Flooding all around us, but as far as I know, all anybody around here got was full-to-the-brim gutters and lakes in our backyards - but nothing in anybody's houses. Freeways and Bayous all over Houston were flooding; Buffalo Bayou and Allen Parkway were a river, and lots of people were flooded out of their cars in East and Southwest Houston, the Medical Center and just about eveywhere else. (Judging by the news, anyway. Why people try to get out and drive in that kind of rain is beyond me, apparently they have no braincells).

Oh, I had it in my head you were in the Hill Country. My bad, you're coastal. Good to hear the folks in your area did alright. Had your weather cleared out before the trick-or-treaters showed up? What was your foot traffic like?
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Drew P
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« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2015, 03:08:57 pm »

Bricklin? So, pretty much, you're at a stand still, stuck in time......so to speak. Wink
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rovingjack
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« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2015, 06:34:38 pm »

Bricklin? So, pretty much, you're at a stand still, stuck in time......so to speak. Wink
funny you should mention that. Housemate took it out for a run (had to jump start it) and got stopped by a cop who made him turn the engine off... it cost him a fair bit to get a tow truck to bring it back. and then after trying to jumpstart it a bit we just opted to push it into place until he can get it into storage for the inter. (pushing it and lifting the doors by hand has informed me that it may infact be brick lines, the doors are heavy as heck and the thing weighs a couple tons)
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rovingjack
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« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2015, 06:47:35 pm »

Looks good! Do you have one of those replica "Mr. Fusion" props on the back?

I could make one but it's my housemates Bricklin, and he's trying to fix it up... goodluck with that. At some point I do want to see if I could make some of the props from the movies. I have a tendency though to try and make them not just set dressing but function in some way.
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J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2015, 09:32:32 pm »

Anyhow,  it's not all over yet.  Happy All Hallow Tide and Day of the Dead!
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von Corax
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« Reply #16 on: November 01, 2015, 10:32:43 pm »

I could make one but it's my housemates Bricklin, and he's trying to fix it up... goodluck with that.
Hey, just because it was designed by the guy who thought importing the Yugo was a good idea... Roll Eyes
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GCCC
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« Reply #17 on: November 01, 2015, 10:35:03 pm »

Anyhow,  it's not all over yet.  Happy All Hallow Tide and Day of the Dead!

How was the water in your part of Austin? The news has mostly been focused on San Antonio, but I know y'all got hit, too.
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MWBailey
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rtafStElmo
« Reply #18 on: November 01, 2015, 10:37:49 pm »

Flooding all around us, but as far as I know, all anybody around here got was full-to-the-brim gutters and lakes in our backyards - but nothing in anybody's houses. Freeways and Bayous all over Houston were flooding; Buffalo Bayou and Allen Parkway were a river, and lots of people were flooded out of their cars in East and Southwest Houston, the Medical Center and just about eveywhere else. (Judging by the news, anyway. Why people try to get out and drive in that kind of rain is beyond me, apparently they have no braincells).

Oh, I had it in my head you were in the Hill Country. My bad, you're coastal. Good to hear the folks in your area did alright. Had your weather cleared out before the trick-or-treaters showed up? What was your foot traffic like?




My heart could be said to be in Austin (grandparents and most of the rest of my immediate relatives either live or used to live there).

Most of our weather was relatively dry by the time the spooks came out. Our local kids were absolutely adorable - but then people from other areas started showing up in vans and SUVs ten or twenty at a time, many of them teens or young adults in just regular street clothes, and we ran out of goodies in short order and had to close the door and turn out the lights. They still banged on the door and rang the bell and demanded we open up, so we turned off all the lights, shuttered all the blinds, and sat in the dark until they went away. People these days...

Still, the local kids were so adorable and sweet! I wish I had been able to take pictures.
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J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #19 on: November 01, 2015, 10:48:32 pm »

Anyhow,  it's not all over yet.  Happy All Hallow Tide and Day of the Dead!

How was the water in your part of Austin? The news has mostly been focused on San Antonio, but I know y'all got hit, too.

Not as bad as it could have been up central an north Austin,  but people in the southern regions,  most notably Onion Creek, did have to evacuate,  and a great deal of damage,  and we lost the use of the airport control tower due to 6 inch flooding on the ground floor,  but otherwise few deaths if any, as far as I know
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GCCC
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« Reply #20 on: November 01, 2015, 11:26:03 pm »

Anyhow,  it's not all over yet.  Happy All Hallow Tide and Day of the Dead!

How was the water in your part of Austin? The news has mostly been focused on San Antonio, but I know y'all got hit, too.

Not as bad as it could have been up central an north Austin,  but people in the southern regions,  most notably Onion Creek, did have to evacuate,  and a great deal of damage,  and we lost the use of the airport control tower due to 6 inch flooding on the ground floor,  but otherwise few deaths if any, as far as I know

Day-um.

Well, at least you're alright; were your Halloween plans rained out?
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Miranda.T
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« Reply #21 on: November 01, 2015, 11:51:42 pm »

It sounds like you chaps in Texas had been hit really hard - I'm glad it wasn't a complete washout for you though. We've been really lucky - over the last few days we've had a bit of rain in the daytime but dry for the evenings.

Admiral GCCC - you are generosity personified; I can see why your's is a favoured stop for the local directorates.

Mr Bailey - very dapper, and a pith helmet is practical wear whatever the weather. I do sympathise with the annoyance of people who haven't even bothered to make the effort to dress demanding sweets. We had that a few years ago; the worst was a group of boys, normally dressed. who came around trick-or-treating a full two weeks before the 31st... Luckily that seems to have abated for us now.

Admiral rovingjack - great pose! I'd love a car with gull wing doors, but a lack of ignition is a bit of a draw-back...

We got a couple of piccys of our 'haunt'. The witch set up by my daughters:



I decided to put Billy Bones in the coffin rather than Drac this year:



However, rather frustratingly, after getting the 'sit up' mechanism set up on the afternoon, I came back into the car-port towards the evening only to smell burning and find the battery on the electric screwdriver had overheated and died (I'd left it on charge as testing during set-up had run it down), so for this year it had to be a static prop. Annoying, but I'll have it fixed for next year.

Actually, today has been really misty; far more Haloween like. I have a theory; next year is a leap year, so that means for the last three years each year has actually been a quarter of a day too short. So in terms of the Earth's orbit around the sun, maybe today should be Halloween... I've lit the children's pumpkins again, just to be on the safe side...



Yours,
Miranda.
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GCCC
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« Reply #22 on: November 01, 2015, 11:57:24 pm »

Flooding all around us, but as far as I know, all anybody around here got was full-to-the-brim gutters and lakes in our backyards - but nothing in anybody's houses. Freeways and Bayous all over Houston were flooding; Buffalo Bayou and Allen Parkway were a river, and lots of people were flooded out of their cars in East and Southwest Houston, the Medical Center and just about eveywhere else. (Judging by the news, anyway. Why people try to get out and drive in that kind of rain is beyond me, apparently they have no braincells).


Oh, I had it in my head you were in the Hill Country. My bad, you're coastal. Good to hear the folks in your area did alright. Had your weather cleared out before the trick-or-treaters showed up? What was your foot traffic like?

My heart could be said to be in Austin (grandparents and most of the rest of my immediate relatives either live or used to live there).

Most of our weather was relatively dry by the time the spooks came out. Our local kids were absolutely adorable - but then people from other areas started showing up in vans and SUVs ten or twenty at a time, many of them teens or young adults in just regular street clothes, and we ran out of goodies in short order and had to close the door and turn out the lights. They still banged on the door and rang the bell and demanded we open up, so we turned off all the lights, shuttered all the blinds, and sat in the dark until they went away. People these days...

Still, the local kids were so adorable and sweet! I wish I had been able to take pictures.


Hey, no costumes, no candy (unless they can subvert expectations, a la Wednesday Addams' "I'm a serial killer; we look just like everyone else."). Heck, if nothing else, grab your mom's eyeliner pencil and draw some stitches on your face; that's something, at least. I pay real money for candy, and I require entertainment and bemusement!  Wink I even accept the high schoolers coming by after their Friday night game (if Halloween's on a Friday) in their football jerseys, cheerleader outfits, and band uniforms. Wear your church clothes, and let me believe you're bankers and lawyers. It's not as though it's hard to do a costume if you don't want to wear a mask or makeup:



Now, if you're concerned, as I have been a few times, that some of these non-costumed beggars would later cause trouble, I have given them one of the loose "fun"-sized candies rather than the bagged stuff. Additionally, I haven't quibbled over giving a bag (or more) to children who appear to be underprivileged. But van loads of uncostumed*, older visitors? They're just lazy.

We also had a lot of adorable kids, and like you, I wish we could have taken pictures, but as damp as it was (a) we didn't want the kids just standing around and (b) we hadn't brought the camera outside with us anyway. Two girls had come up, with one dressed as a pirate, and the other one had sort of a multi-color long tutu with one of those feathered Mardi Gras masks in the same colors as the tutu; she was the parrot! And because we "got" who he was, the boy portraying Chunk from The Goonies did the "Truffle Shuffle" for us (we didn't ask for it, he just launched into it); I almost fell off the bench from laughing.

Knocking after the porch light's off? Nobody taught these kids about Halloween etiquette, clearly.

Otherwise, it sounds like you had a great time!



*Spell Check wanted to turn this word into "unconsumed"... Oddly appropriate, given the date.
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« Reply #23 on: November 02, 2015, 12:23:37 am »

It sounds like you chaps in Texas had been hit really hard - I'm glad it wasn't a complete washout for you though. We've been really lucky - over the last few days we've had a bit of rain in the daytime but dry for the evenings.


We were luckier than our fellows in other parts of the state; positively dry compared to J. Wilhelm's neck of the woods and further west and north of him. I'm just grateful we had the actual "breaks" in the rain during the shift, and that when it resumed it was light. Now, shortly after we shut down... Mild compared to earlier in the week, but still a ditch filler. Glad to know that somewhere on the planet the kids could go out without risking pneumonia!

Admiral GCCC - you are generosity personified; I can see why your's is a favoured stop for the local directorates.


(Blushes.)
Aw, shucks, ma'am, 'tweren't nuthin', really.  Embarrassed

Seriously, 'though, I think of myself as more selfishly motivated than that. As a person who has always enjoyed the season, and then as a teacher, and then as a person who daily grows more and more of a resemblance to a certain jovial fellow who shows up near the end of December, I just think it's important for kids to be allowed to be kids, at least for a night. One doesn't know what their daily lives are like, after all. I don't even mind the (costumed) older teenagers; I'd rather they show up on my doorstep asking for candy than any number of other, less reputable/savory activities they could be getting into.

Oh, and by the way, thank you.

(Blushes again.)

We got a couple of piccys of our 'haunt'. The witch set up by my daughters:




Awesome! As a kid I would have loved your house. (Oh, who are we kidding? I'd love it as an adult!)

I decided to put Billy Bones in the coffin rather than Drac this year:



However, rather frustratingly, after getting the 'sit up' mechanism set up on the afternoon, I came back into the car-port towards the evening only to smell burning and find the battery on the electric screwdriver had overheated and died (I'd left it on charge as testing during set-up had run it down), so for this year it had to be a static prop. Annoying, but I'll have it fixed for next year.


Bummer. But, as you say, there's always next year.

Actually, today has been really misty; far more Haloween like. I have a theory; next year is a leap year, so that means for the last three years each year has actually been a quarter of a day too short. So in terms of the Earth's orbit around the sun, maybe today should be Halloween... I've lit the children's pumpkins again, just to be on the safe side...




Did your children do that, or you? Either way, those are very well done.
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MWBailey
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rtafStElmo
« Reply #24 on: November 02, 2015, 02:47:09 am »

Just heard this afternoon that Pasadena and several of Houston's southeastern neighborhoods had been severly flooded in many spots; tornadoes ripped through La Porte and knocked down trees by the score, and damaged many homes. I haven't heard yet from the folks as to whether or not a relative of ours in Pasadena is OK; I assume she is, since Mom would have been crying if she weren't.

All in all, it seems I was ridiculously ignorant of the damage in the rest of Houston; we're kind of leery and tired of the TV media and TV in general these days, is my only excuse. sorry for not reporting accurately.
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