Halloween at Jen Manor

The leaves are turning and the dead are risen and have shambled their way through the gates of Riverside Cemetery and around the town as part of the second annual Asheville Zombie Walk. Also, Albus Dumbledore is gay.

It must be Halloween.

Here at Jen Manor, fall always means a trip to local crafts stores to dig up further additions to my seasonal yard decor.

This year I hit the new Halloween Express store in Westgate Mall by Earth Fare. It focuses more on costumes and accessories than what I was looking for (decor), but the warrior batwings that could flap out and spread were very cool-looking.

I also liked the hat that made you look like a rat was chewing on the bloody bandage around your head.

(I should have taken photos, dammit.)

Come to Halloween Express for gory haunted house decor (Donner Party meats, etc.), canned costumes, cool accessories and decent FX makeup. Michael’s (the craft chain) is still the place to go for decor.

I did exit with a sort of pumpkin-stand that looks like a skeleton hand, a battery-powered pumpkin light that can be set to different colors, a very cool Pumpkin Masters flashing pumpkin light (I have used this before and loved it with my cyclops pumpkin).

I also got a paper lantern with bats on it, a glow-in-dark spiderweb and some green glowsticks. You can actually use these inside your pumpkin in the place of candles for a cheap and eerie effect.

This year, inspired by the excellent ExtremePumpkins.com, I am trying the tiki pumpkin.


Imagine that lit from inside with a green glowstick. And sitting on a skeleton hand.

ExtremePumpkins has all kinds of really creative, inspiring pumpkin designs. Check out the contest winners for 2003-2006, the chocolate Twizzler werewolf and the Frankenpumpkin.

Last year my Halloween was a dud due to poor planning. This year I am breaking out the giant rope spiderweb and fuzzy black spider, the skeleton wind chimes and the orange luminaries that light the way to my door.

I am carving at least two pumpkins, and also making evil little little shrunken-head-style jack-o-lantern turnips to suspend from the maple tree in my front yard.

Add to that my homebrew Halloween spooky-music mix (Exorcist theme, Twilight zone theme, various creepy sounds), and I consider my yard to be done up right. I don’t get all that many trick-or-treaters, but I do love to hear people say they love how my yard looks.

I love how it looks, too. I like to show the neighborhood kids a good time, be that house on the block they all loved to visit, where the candy was good and the mood was always right. I love Halloween, where the fear of death meets Irish paganism, creativity, meeting your neighbors, kids staying up late, mayhem in varying levels of innocence, autumn weather and a license to pig out on chocolate candy.

Truly, the most wonderful day of the year.

This year I plan to load up on Halloween candy (I always buy the good stuff, Mounds and Snickers and Reese’s miniatures) and seasonally appropriate movies. I’ve invited two friends over for a Halloween Knit Night, and will spend the evening handing out candy (and small gifts for the best costumes of the evening — so far my favorite ever was the 9-year-old tax attorney in a suit who carried a briefcase labeled “IRS” and said “Trick or treat! Can I do your taxes?”), knitting, chatting and watching scary movies.

Last year I was in a Hammer state of mind. This year I am thinking Sleepy Hollow, Mad Monster Party (an old Rankin-Bass movie, from the stop-motion people who did Rudolph and Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town) and Joe Dante’s political zombie movie, Homecoming.

Today on the drive to class I listened to my Halloween homebrew CD for automobile listening. It is holding up beautifully in its second or third year. It has the classics — “Spooky,” “Werewolves of London” and a few favorite, lesser-known spooky tunes that come highly recommended for Halloween listening:

Tenacious D – Tribute

The Kinks – Wicked Annabella

Concrete Blonde – Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)

Coil – Love’s Secret Domain

Dead Can Dance – The Fatal Impact

And here is the part of the show where I trot out some fun seasonal links. For all who love Halloween as I do, hope you enjoy!:

retroCRUSH: 100 Scariest Movie Scenes of All Time (version 2.0, now with even more David Lynch!)

Haunted Memories Changing Portraits

Overheard on a Salmarsh

May your days be filled with the sun on golden leaves and the smell of woodsmoke. May your nights be filled with brisk walks in cool evening air, warm times at home and fall smells of spice and baking, whether from your own kitchen or that of someone you love.

May your treats be many and your tricks just enough to keep you good-humored about the vagaries of life.

And may everything that goes into your bag always be brand-name chocolate.

Happy Halloween and happy fall!

One response to “Halloween at Jen Manor

  1. This pumpkin is absolutely amazing. ha ha. Makes me want to become a pro pumpkin carver!

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