Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Haunted Humpday VI - It's Pick Your Poison Day!

Here we are at Haunted Humpday VI! Burt and Ivy are joining Marfi at Incipient Wings for some fun leading up to Halloween. The skeleton crew has been having an interesting time.

We had a happy surprise on Monday afternoon, a visit from a Monarch butterfly. When it landed on this plant I have to admit, I got a little worried. It's botanical name is Aconitum napellus (I added that because I originally intended this blog to be about gardening and sometimes I feel the need to throw in some horticultural lingo) but it's also known as Wolf's Bane and Monk's Hood. It's usually the very last of the perennials to bloom in my garden and I'm glad it was around to help out this late butterfly.

My main reason for planting it was because it flowers in late autumn when all the other plants are done for the season and I like to have something to look forward to besides raking up leaves. Having all those awesome names was another plus. This was all before I discovered that not only was knowing it's many names mandatory for Snape's Potions Class but that it's notoriously poisonous. 

Not that the skeletal inhabitants of the backyard have anything to be concerned about, but those of us who are still breathing are wondering why the garden center would sell them in the first place if they were really that toxic. After all, the bees and butterflies manage to survive drinking the nectar.

Apparently, it's only poisonous if you eat a lot of it, particularly the root. It's supposed to taste bitter and most of the documented poisonings have been intentional, not accidental. I can verify that it can produce an itchy rash. According to the Healthline web site it's associated with witchcraft and magic and was said to send witches soaring on their broomsticks. Or maybe they just thought they did!

Hold onto your hat because it looks like Ivy took quite a hefty sniff!

Meanwhile, Burt and Kibitz were indulging in one of their favorite treats. They wait all year for the Bag of Bones Cheetos to return to the grocery shelves. It's really doesn't count as a poison, it's just not very healthy and that's really not something those two are ever going to care about. 

Ivy survived her trip and made it back in time to sweep up after the Cheetos frenzy.

Burt just can't get enough of that white cheddar cheese flavoring!

Much later, it was time to light up the pumpkins for the evening and get into the spirit of  Halloween.

Burt's found something to light up also. Tonight's poison of choice is a bit more conventional than Ivy's. It usually doesn't make you itch all over and the flying part is only a hallucination.

Although, like all good poisons, it can make you a little silly!

A special thanks to Marfi for hosting and all the inspiration from her great gifts!

Thanks for dropping by, I hope you're having a very Happy Haunted Humpday!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Haunted Humpday V - Decorating Skeletons

Wow, it's Haunted Humpday V! Burt and Ivy are joining Marfi at Incipient Wings for some fun leading up to Halloween. The skeleton crew and friends finally got down to business this week!

Kibitz was very upset because he couldn't get Burt and Ivy interested in decorating for Halloween. They kept ignoring his pleas, and with the holiday less that three weeks away he was beginning to get very worried. In fact he was in a panic about what to try next to convince them to get to work. In a desperate attempt to move things along he decided to confide in Spenser and ask for his help.

It really wasn't a big problem. Burt was simply up to his old tricks, surprising Ivy and making her laugh. They were just having too much fun to bother with unpacking all the decorations.

Eventually, with a little encouragement they finally managed to get to work and in no time had arranged the haunted houses in the curio. It looked spooky enough but they were quick to point out that there was a sorry lack of skeletons among the village accessories, in fact there was only one!

By coincidence, Kibitz and Spenser came across a box of skeletons at the exact same time!

They moved on to the piano and decked it out in black candles, tarnished silver and glittery gourds. Burt and Ivy couldn't keep their noses to the grindstone for very long however, especially since neither of them actually have much of a nose, so they decided to take a little break.

There's nothing like some spooky Boogie Woogie to gets your toes tapping and bones rattling!

Unfortunately Spenser was becoming more and more indignant. He had been trying his best to think of ways to incorporate this newly discovered cache of tiny skeletons into the decor but between Kibitz's constant pestering and Burt's silly antics he just couldn't concentrate.   

Next, the skeleton crew focused their attentions on the mantle where the centerpiece is this wedding photograph of two of Burt's long lost relatives. This cherished piece was a gift from Marfi and has become a favorite among all the Halloween decorations. 

The only other thing it needed was a couple of ravens, for a touch of black. 

Spenser decided all this creative thinking was way too much for his brain to handle. He put off deciding on how to use the little skeletons but now it looks like he has another issue to deal with! Poor kitty, maybe he should just stick to eating, sleeping and looking out of the window.

Burt and Ivy put the finishing touch on the Halloween decorations by hanging up the haunted mansion mural, yet another gift from the generous Marfi. She is definitely the Queen of Halloween!     

Then they got busy working on their costumes! Who said they aren't into the holiday spirit?

Here's wishing you all a scary Happy Haunted Humpday!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Haunted Humpday IV - Better Haunts & Gardens

Are you ready for Haunted Humpday IV? Burt and Ivy are joining Marfi at Incipient Wings for some scary fun leading up to Halloween. The skeleton crew has been very lazy this week!

Now that October is finally here, you would think that Burt and Ivy would be totally excited and ready to get into the spirit of the season. Unfortunately, that's not been the case. It's been unseasonably warm here and although that's nice, it's been very hard to get them to take their Halloween roles seriously. It's also very frightening to realize our nice weather is probably due to the devastating effects of climate change but that's a different kind of scary story for another time!


It seems like all they want to do is hang out on the patio with the kitties, doing nothing and enjoying the balmy weather. No late night walks through the cemetery or leering out of the windows at people walking their dogs for those two. They don't wander too far during the evenings since the temperatures haven't been cold enough to wipe out the mosquito population, which has become more blood thirsty than ever. Nope, there is not so much as a hint of spookiness from either of them!

All this rain and heat has produced a bumper crop of dahlias. There was a huge selection on display at the Farmers' Market and Ivy couldn't resist bringing home an armful last weekend. So she's given up rattling around in the dead of night, moaning loudly and slamming doors for creating flower arrangements and finding places to show them off. The house does look a little like a funeral parlor.

She even decided to spruce up the patio with some autumn leaves. While she got to work adorning the mirror, Spenser was busy creating a tangled mess. At least he didn't knock over the flowers.

  Lazy bones Burt snoozed through it all.

Sometimes it's a struggle to give up on summer and embrace autumn, mostly because in our part of the country there's a long, deep freeze on the heels of all those pretty red and yellow leaves. It also doesn't help that most of our late flowering perennials bloom in summery colors of pink and purple.

Not that anyone actually seems to mind, especially the butterflies!

Burt did finally decided to wake up and tackle a couple gardening projects. Those fall flowers won't plant themselves, usually. Hey Burt, how about putting a little effort into digging that hole!

 Apparently he decided it was easier just to ask someone else to do it while he went to get some potting mix for Ivy's new rose. Good thing His Madness was there to help out.

Although he will never admit it, Burt avoids setting foot in our creepy garage because of all the spiders and he's not very fond of their cobwebs either. He also doesn't care much for bats and other creatures of the night. There's even a rumor going around that he's frightened of his own shadow! To be fair he's always cheerful and happy to lend a helping hand or shoulder a heavy load.

Until he slips up! Oops, our rainy September apparently left things a bit slick. He'll be fine.

Maybe sitting around, enjoying a few lazy days and arranging flowers isn't such a bad idea after all. As the nights grow longer and the temperatures plunge, eventually a cold rain will lash at the windows and Burt and Ivy will return to their usual business of haunting the neighborhood.

Thanks for stopping by, I hope everyone is having a wonderful Haunted Humpday! 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Haunted Humpday III - The Halloween Hunt

It's time for Haunted Humpday III! Burt and Ivy are joining Marfi at Incipient Wings for a bit of scary fun leading up to Halloween. Hopefully, the skeleton crew will make it all the way to the end!

This week it's time for some serious Halloween shopping! Since it was a beautiful day Burt and Ivy decided to go to the farmers' market and then check out the latest displays of Halloween decorations before they are pulled off the shelves and replaced with Christmas ornaments!

 The first stop was the garden center where they found a good selection of pumpkins.

Just as they were thinking about how retailers seem to devote much less time and effort into Halloween they ran into quite a group of old friends, but they didn't want to hang around too long . . . 

so they went back outside to check out this a giant witch jack o' lantern chiminea . . . 

. . . as well as lots of cool purple flowers and some cute ghosts.

 Big decorations are all well and good but sometimes it's the little things that are the most fun.
It's hard to pass up a pumpkin scented candle, especially when there's a good pun on the label.

Burt decided this Trick or Treat banner that lights up was a necessity for the front door, plus there's a black cat riding on the Witch's broom so it was destined to be added to the collection. 

He also spied this miniature version of himself so it had to come home, too.


After all that shopping a stop at the liquor store was inevitable and they found some tequila with the most fabulous labels. It was too hard to decide which one they liked best so they got both!

Cheers to Halloween shopping and a Happy Haunted Humpday to all!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Haunted Humpday II (Friday Edition) Happy Birthday Stephen King and a Possessed Kitchen Tale

Wednesday was Stephen King's 69th birthday so Burt picked three sunflowers in his honor. As you might expect, Bag of Bones is Burt's favorite novel and there's a creepy reference to sunflowers in it. Unlike the flowers in the story, Burt's are obviously not the size of searchlights and just in case anyone happens to be wondering, these didn't grow up through the floorboards of our porch either.

A sunflower did grow up and bloom in a rain gutter at my parents house once. 
That was scary in so many, many ways.

I had to admire it's tenacity! 

Ivy is also a big fan of Stephen King and thought the flowers were a terrific way to commemorate the horror master. It is her favorite book but she only indulges in frightening literature during the  daylight hours of the summer, preferably at the beach with lots of people around.

I have a sort of, eerie tale to tell about my own house, specifically our possessed kitchen.

Many years ago just after we moved to town, we found this cute little home for sale.

The kitchen was terrible, the appliances were vintage 70's

 and the cupboards and sink had been there since it was built in 1929, but

since it needed to be completely redone we could do whatever we wanted.

It also needed some paint and a few repairs but the price was right so we bought it.

As it turned out, there were lots of things that needed immediate attention,

way more than we had first imagined so it took a few years

before we finally got around to remodeling the kitchen.

The temperature had soared to the mid 90's that day in early May

when the designer came to measure our kitchen for it's big makeover,

and we were very surprised to discover that our furnace had turned itself on

and was blasting away yet more heat into an already stifling situation.

No matter how hard we tried we couldn't get it turned off.

Eventually a repairman got it under control by shutting off the gas to the whole house.

So the kitchen went on hold while the furnace and air conditioner were replaced.

 A year went by and on the day we were going to approve the plans and choose new cabinets,

two tiles fell off the upstairs bathroom wall just above the bathtub faucet

and water started streaming out.

 Again the kitchen plans were shelved while we attended to the bathroom.

I came home from work one day during the renovation to find two bathtubs in the dining room,

a 4'x6' hole in the kitchen wall, half of the pantry ceiling gone

and plaster dust covering every surface on both floors.

I had just missed the two bats that flew out of the bathroom wall

when they opened it up to work on the plumbing.

A couple months after the bathroom was finished we were more determined than ever

to get back to work on the kitchen since it was now in even worse shape than before. 

We made an appointment with the designer but had to cancel

because we had been awakened at 4:30 am when the smoke detectors went off 

because our house was on fire.

Luckily, it was confined to our sunroom and we all got out alive, including our pets,

but smoke goes everywhere and gets into everything, makes a really horrible mess

that smells awful and takes nearly a year to fix. 

When our house inexplicably caught on fire everyone blamed us,

especially our insurance adjuster, who kept asking us why the fire started in our sunroom.

He finally gave up accusing us of setting it deliberately 

(in the middle of the night when we were all asleep in the house)

when I flatly stated that if we were going to set a room on fire it would be the kitchen.

He took a good look at the kitchen and was very helpful from then on.

It seemed like every time we started to work on the kitchen

something else would come up that was more urgent.

That's when I got the notion that maybe the kitchen didn't want to be remodeled,

maybe it didn't want to be expanded and shiny and improved. Was it cursed?

Or maybe, it was possessed.

So I gave up on installing shiny new gleaming white cabinets and came up with a plan

to keep most of the original ones and have new ones made to match the old. 

I didn't want to make it angry, maybe it just wanted to be accepted for itself.

We decided to just refinish the original floor (an impractical decision),

junk the ancient appliances and spend a small fortune on a new sink that looked old.

I wondered if we should get a priest in to perform an exorcism

but settled on buying a new broom and sweeping the floor. 

Did that break the curse? Drive out the evil? 

Nope. The first day work started on the kitchen a pipe broke

which led to the discovery that all of our plumbing needed to be replaced

and eventually the electrical wiring, too. The whole process was plagued with problems, 

it took nearly six months (over the winter) and cost three times the original estimate.

So when anyone asks me if my house is haunted I say no but

my kitchen is definitely possessed.

As a postscript to my possessed kitchen tale I should say that we had a few peaceful years

with our kitchen until a month ago when the dishwasher had to be replaced. Then

at the start of the Labor Day holiday the hot water heater sprung a leak, here we go again!

A belated Happy Haunted Humpday to everyone and thanks for stopping by! 

So what's your favorite Stephen King novel?