Friday, May 31, 2024

Dracula and Decor


The 26th of May is World Wide Dracula Day so The Crew decided this was a good month to reacquaint themselves with the book. It also sounded like a good excuse to put off the garden chores.

Last fall, Ivy bought this slightly rearranged version of the book that began as a sort of internet read-along in 2021 and is still going strong today. Because Bram Stoker used personal correspondence, diaries and even newspaper articles to tell the tale, every event in the story occurs on a specified date. Matt Kirkland, a web designer, had the brilliant idea to put them all in chronological order and send them out in an email newsletter on the corresponding days. So, not only do you have the excuse of taking six months to read the book but also the fun of looking forward to the next episode. The physical copy of the book isn't really necessary unless you want it for reference or to cut down on your screen time. 


 Who can resist a new twist on an old classic?

 Of course, it'a impossible not to wonder how the story develops as it was written. There is an old, abridged paperback gathering dust somewhere in our basement, but Amazon is just too convenient. Not only did they have a fancy edition illustrated by Edward Gorey but also a Toy Theatre version of the sets he designed for the 1977 Broadway play. Since they were delivered a few days before the eclipse, it was only fitting that they should be photographed during the peak. This was as close as we got to totality. The sun was actually being projected as a crescent through our pine trees, but it looked more like bats to me. What do you think? 

The Crew is currently enjoying the book in both forms. Ivy is wondering what will happen in June. Burt chose the original version since he has no patience and will probably skip to the last chapter to see how the story ends. 

Soon after the Dracula Daily reading began, the Skeleton Crew were delighted to discover there were outdoor Halloween displays and inflatables for sale at Lowes and Home Depot. This was followed closely by some early, Halloween-ish decor at both Michael's and Joann's! Naturally, they had to check this out as soon as possible.

Calling this "Halloween-ish" is obviously a stretch. Michael's Nevermore Collection is maybe more pastel goth than anything and, like many other Halloween fans who voice their opinions on the internet, The Crew was clueless as to what it's all about. Not that everything needs to have a purpose or make sense, but what is going on with that lace over the eyes of those bubblegum blowing busts?

At least Michael's tried. You have to give them credit for bringing a little variety to a time of year that's usually dominated by overt patriotism and pool noodles. There definitely seems to be more than one theme running through this collection, in addition to the Dark Academia /Cottagecore vibes. Although, this display box would be great for anyone wanting the look of a collection without having to search for it themselves. Naturally, a couple things did to come home with us.

Down the street, at Kirklands we found this see-through, faux insect wall art. His Madness felt the need to prove it was actually transparent. 

Next, we moved onto the Eclipse Collection at Joann's. It was definitely more spooky and included a good selection of potion bottles, snakes and skulls. Lots of bling, too. Not that you can tell from this photo. The shelves weren't quite filled up so it may require another trip to see if they add more.

There were a number of pieces that lit up, a crescent moon, some purple pumpkins and signage. We didn't indulge, but I did bring home one of their big ceramic cauldrons to use as a planter.

So, Halloween 2024 has officially begun, months before The Skeleton Crew expected that to happen! They seem to have found enough spooky pastimes to keep busy until the rest of the decor comes out in July. Guess it's time to get those pumpkin seeds in the ground!

See you soon and thanks for stopping by!


Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Halfway to Halloween


We've been having a dark and stormy spring that's also been unusually warm. In fact, it's been warm enough to bring all the trees and flowers into bloom weeks ahead of normal. This has made the reality of climate change even more scary!

 We do what we can to but in light of the situation, the Crew decided this might be the time to take a break from worrying, try to to find some stuff to decorate with and celebrate Halfway to Halloween. They even found the perfect flowers. Who could resist pansies with a name like that? They even look spooky in the sunshine and of course we will be reusing or recycling the plastic pots. 

Sometimes it helps to look at things from a different perspective. It can be a good distraction. 

There is one pumpkin leftover from last Halloween that is big enough to carve, but who wants to tackle that?

Don't worry Spenser's, no one is expecting you to do it.


Then there's the dilemma of what decorations to use. The coffee shelf is always cluttered with things that  don't get put away when the holidays are over. Currently, these items cover three seasons and six holidays, not counting the seeds and their tin, but there's not much leftover from Halloween. Those Jack-'O-Lantern spoons barely show up, maybe it's time for to unpack a few boxes.

After taking a good look around, Ivy found Mickey and Minnie in their Halloween costumes with the Haunted House in the curio cabinet.

The black metal Jack-'O-Lantern was easy to find, it spent the winter on the patio.

Burt decided to bring in the plants. They're destined to be planted in the urns on either side of the front door but that may be awhile thanks to our freakish weather. Even though it gets up to 80° F. during the day, it ends up being 30°F. overnight.


Finally, the Toad Witch has emerged from the linen closet in the hallway, where she has been living, waiting for spring. The green candles were a shipping mistake but they are a good match for her complexion. Looks like she's getting ready to cast a spell by blowing out the candle.

I've been buying ivory, Root taper candles from Amazon for years. They're not cheap but they last longer and don't drip as much as the lower priced ones. Last January I placed my usual order for a box of twelve and received red candles instead of ivory. After realizing that returning them for the correct color involved a byzantine process, I decided to keep them. They worked okay for Valentine's Day and I saved the rest for next Christmas. With that problem solved, I ordered ivory candles again and got green ones this time around. Can't wait to see what color they'll send next! 

With all the candles and the Jack-'O-Lantern lit up, The Skeleton Crew is all set to celebrate the coming of spring. Or maybe it's just the end of winter? Not sure what else they will be doing, but they will probably think of something.

Happy Halfway to Halloween!

Thanks for stopping by, see you soon.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Plants in the Basement and Flowers at the Museum

Happy Spring and Happy Easter!
It's been so cold and snowy here lately that we nearly forgot that winter doesn't last forever. 
Although there have been years when it came pretty close, this one hasn't been that bad.

Still it's hard to get excited about spring when the first crocus to bloom gets buried in snow. It will probably open once it thaws out.

Since spring is currently more of a concept than reality, The Crew decided to hang out with the patio plants that spend the winter in the basement. They're no substitute for tulips and magnolias but they will do for the time being. 

If they look hard enough they might even discover a primrose bloom or two.

Spencer was a little too enthusiastic in his examination of this begonia. He was forced to give up the search after a stern warning it was poisonous to cats.

He obviously wasn't too happy to learn it could make him very sick.

Fortunately, we have another way to escape from the perpetual winter. Every other year, at the beginning of March, one of our local art centers brings in florists from the area to show off their design expertise. It's called Rooms of Blooms since it's located in an historic home. It's a nice reminder that spring will be here eventually, or in a couple of months for those of us in the frozen north.

We finally remembered to attend the member's preview this year and I have to admit that the evening viewing wasn't ideal. At least on our way out we caught a rare glimpse of a starry night sky. If you look closely you can just make out the constellation of Orion in the upper middle of the photo.

As always, the flowers were gorgeous and there was definitely a natural appearance to the arrangements. This bouquet, combined with the china gave off a very woodsy vibe.

There were some more casual looks, too.
Now we know what to do with all those broken pots!

The gallery exhibit, Mao Lor: A Journey through Hmoob Paj Ntaub featured the intricate embroidery and hand-sewing of textile artist, Mao Lor. Her beautiful work includes both the traditional patterns of her culture and her innovative adaptations of those techniques for contemporary storytelling.  

The one issue I've always had with this event is having to peer around floral arrangements to see what's hanging on the gallery walls. It was especially an issue with the complexity of this embroidered artwork. As in the past, it almost seemed like the arrangements weren't just overwhelming the art, they were competing with it. His Madness and I always go back when the flowers are gone to get an unobstructed view.


Fortunately, the rest of the flowers looked absolutely stunning.

There are always a few paintings that have an uninterrupted view.

By far the most unique display was among the fantasy dining tables set up in the Great Hall. How would you like to be seated between this pair of giant fairy wings? Is there enough elbow room?

Wonder if the basement plants could ever look so otherworldly? 

Probably not. Maybe The Crew can give it a try next year, for now we're just happy they're still alive.

Happy Spring everyone and Happy Easter to all who celebrate.

Thanks for stopping by, see you soon!

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Hibernating on Valentines Day


Happy Valentine's Day!

The Crew decided to celebrate by spending the morning lounging about doing nothing, which is actually what they do everyday so it's really not all that special. However, they do highly recommend that everyone give it a try every now and then.  

So they've been watching videos,

 and reading,

or just looking at the pictures,

while indulging in a little social media and a lot of coffee.
They will be responsible tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by.

See you soon and don't forget to be good to yourself!

Wednesday, January 31, 2024


January has been really, really weird in our neck of the woods. In the dead of winter, it's been either too warm or too cold to get outside and have some fun. Since the usual activities were canceled, we've ended up stuck inside with only our hobbies or Netflix for entertainment.  

Of course the Christmas decorations could have been taken down, but thanks to their perpetual procrastination disorder (which is a totally made up and self-diagnosed condition), the Crew still hasn't done that. This is what happens when the Halloween decorations stay up until the middle of December and you hang the last ornaments on the tree the day after Christmas.


According to several silly and totally unnecessary web sites (the kind I can't get enough of), January is National Hobby Month and the second Monday is National Clean Off Your Desk Day. They've probably been around for awhile but this is the first I've heard of them. No one in this household needs any more hobbies but that desk could use some decluttering. To be fair, there's nowhere for anything to go until the Christmas decor comes down. Maybe February should be Get Your Hobbies Under Control Month and Put Those Christmas Decorations Away Month?

His Madness never stops making pinhole cameras, so this is nothing new for him. 

I don't know if gardening is actually a hobby for me or if  I just like planting flowers. In any case, it's not easy to get into a pastime that comes to a complete halt for six months and the garden centers apparently understand this. These cute plants can be planted in the garden in spring. If they live.

In January there's also a lot of talk online about garden design. For me, that usually results in placing an overly ambitious order from a nursery while totally forgetting what already lies beneath the snow. Apparently, it's never too early to acquire seeds that you can't possibly plant for a couple of months and won't remember where you put them when planting time actually comes around.

At the moment, the Calamitous Garden isn't looking too bad, thanks to the blizzard that dropped the most snow we've seen since Halloween. Until recently, it was a very unattractive shade of brown. Sunny skies followed and brought below zero temps for a whole week and now it's in the mid 30°F. Such strange weather but at least the snow is pretty. 

Burt and Ivy's hobby is frightening the neighbors and that's an ongoing thing no matter what season it is. They do like to enhance the experience with a spooky jack-'o-lantern and are currently holding a serious debate about which leftover pumpkin to carve. The yellow one was picked green before a freeze and it has "ripened" while sitting on the kitchen floor. It also might not actually be a pumpkin, not that they really care, but it could be a little iffy on the inside. The other two came from the local supplier and seem okay. 

Since it's winter, they opted for the Ghost pumpkin. It was hard as a rock but not rotten inside.

Looks like they're all set for the evening. Happy January 31st everyone!

A very late Happy New Year to all and thanks for stopping by.