Tag Archives: halloween

Have a Great Weekend

The only thing better than a month until Halloween and a Friday the 13th in the middle of October? (Well, besides a Triffid Ranch exhibition on that Friday the 13th weekend?) Finding lots of Texas-based music that sums up the season. Now that the heat is breaking, it’s time to get outside.


Cat Monday: The Halloween Edition

I’ve said before that Halloween at the Triffid Ranch is much like what New Year’s Eve was around Hunter S. Thompson’s house: it’s the day where we back off and let the amateurs get their time in. Many people look at Halloween as just the beginning of the American holiday season, and can’t wait for it to hit full swing. These people go to shopping malls without being held at gunpoint, and who don’t hum “The Gonk the whole time inside. They like all-Christmas terrestrial radio stations, and think that anyone who doesn’t sing along with the eightieth playing of “Santa Baby” is a Scrooge or Grinch. These are people who look forward to company Christmas parties so they can wear their best holiday sweaters, and not because they’re looking for an opportunity to get away with disemboweling everyone in the hotel or restaurant with a peppermint Hershey’s Kiss.

These people are sick.

For the rest of us, the ones who may actually be the sane ones, the week before Halloween is the time to stock up. Much like pikas storing huge caches of grasses in order to survive the Canadian winter, we stock up on rubber lizards, foam spiders, Jell-O molds in the shape of brains, and anything dark and spooky in anticipation of the next four to six months. Some of us, whose businesses celebrate the autumnal equinox the way others celebrate the first day of summer, stock up not for ourselves, but to spread the joy to others when the yellow hurty thing in the sky takes over more and more of the earth’s rotational cycle, and we start thinking “Nine months underground and emerging only to suck eggs and eat baby bunnies…you know, maybe Gila monsters have the right idea.”

And thus, that’s how I ended up in a Michael’s crafts store. In North Texas, Michael’s isn’t just a dark, quiet place to escape the worst of the summer. It’s our annual reminder that the Heat Will End. By the end of August, right when the heat and glare are at their most oppressive, Michael’s can always be depended upon to start stocking the latest in animatronic bats, poison bottles, and skeleton hands. For a little while, one can walk inside and look forward to pulling jackets out of storage, opening the windows to let the cool breezes inside, and grabbing a cup of something hot without shuddering. For many of us, it’s also the season for the year’s new Lemax Spooky Town collection. For years, Spooky Town resin mausoleum and tombstone figures have been an absolute in Triffid Ranch plant arrangements, and when the big draw this year, the Hemlock’s Nursery carnivorous plant nursery display, was for sale at half off, it had to come home.

If I fits, I sits

Well, one of us was more thrilled than the others at the newest display in the office. Demonstrating her namesake‘s attraction to “If I fits, I sits” cat photos, our Cadigan decided to demonstrate that the only thing better for an orange kitty than a box from which to hold court is a Halloween box. Oh, she’s going to be disappointed when we finally have to take down the decorations and acknowledge that All Hallow’s Eve is over and done…by mid-May or so.

If I fits, I sits

If I fits, I sits

If I fits, I sits

Have a Great Halloween

Putting the Sarracenia to bed – 1

I’m not even going to think about suggesting that the drought may be over. I won’t even suggest that it may be easing. That said, our gullywasher storm on Saturday was followed by mist all Sunday and thick fog on Monday, the humidity is more evocative of New Orleans than Dallas, and we’re getting warnings that October 30 might end with severe thunderstorms. In other words, what we used to call “a typical Halloween season”. Compared to last year’s dust-dry autumn, nobody’s complaining.

Since this exceptional weather, in classic Texas fashion, usually precedes unnaturally cold or stormy weather, the last couple of weekends went into cleaning out and modifying the new greenhouse. That included putting in just short of two tons of rainwater as thermal mass, resealing gaps and potential weak spots in the greenhouse film, and putting down new flooring. Friends scream, not unreasonably, about how much they hate weed cloth in garden beds, but this stuff is wonderful for allowing excess condensation seep into the soil under the greenhouse while preventing popweed clover from taking over the whole place.

With the improved weather, it’s time to say goodnight to the Sarracenia. Although the pitcher plants still attract and capture insects, they won’t be doing so for long, as the insects are either dying off or going dormant for the winter. Because of this, the Sarracenia follow the lead, gradually dying back over the next month until they’re dormant about the time we start getting killing frosts in December. They’ll stay that way all winter, only coming out of dormancy around St. Patrick’s Day when it’s time to bloom. Until then, all I’ll have are pictures, but it was a good season for Sarracenia, and we can only hope for a better one next year.


Sarracenia leucophylla

Sarracenia purpurea


Have a Great Weekend

Have a Great Halloween

Yes, music in the 1980s was a bit, erm, different, wasn’t it?

Remember The Reason For The Season

Halloween Display

A very important consideration to understand when trying to understand Texas is that we get involved in Halloween festivities. It’s not because Halloween marks the end of harvest season: out here, the end of September marks when we start our fall and winter gardens. It’s not marking the last few warm days before the nightmare of winter falls upon us: I’ve regularly spent Christmas Eve picking habanero peppers and tomatoes for Christmas dinner. You could make an argument that in as repressed an area as Dallas, Halloween is an essential safety valve, as the innumerable seasonal Halloween stores popping up in otherwise empty strip mall storefronts might suggest: that’s an argument that has merit, considering that half of the costumes inside are some variation on either “sexy” or “zombie”. There’s really only one good reason for us to go insane about Halloween festivities, though: this is a completely justifiable celebration of the end of summer. As of right now, we have seven months of air that doesn’t smell of burned flint, seven months of opening windows at night instead of running air conditioners all night long, and seven months of being able to go outside for more than ten minutes at a time without bursting into flame.

If you think we’re enjoying an end to outside conditions more evocative of a cement kiln than a back yard, you should see the plants. The problem out here isn’t that things get so hot during the day, but that most of that heat is trapped at night, too. Most of our native plants shut down over the summer, because temperatures only drop at night to the point where they can photosynthesize for an hour or two at dawn. Non-native plants either struggle or burn off, which is why we’re so fond of separate spring and fall gardens in between the days of “I’m Going To Blow Up The Sun Just So I Can Sleep at Night.”

Candles of Doom

If it means we go a little insane in Halloween festivities, then so be it. Sure, I can name the number of times I’ve seen an actual hard frost on Halloween Week on one hand, and still have enough fingers left to play baseball, but that just means that the decent weather lasts that much longer. It’s pretty comparable to the craziness at Easter in higher latitudes: we’re just celebrating that it’s OVER!

That said, it’s not all spiderwebs and werewolves. Fall in Texas means that the fundamental conflict between two groups of obsessives comes to full force. You have us, the normal people who bawl our eyes out at the end of Alien when the best-developed character in the whole movie gets thrown out the airlock, and then there are the freaks. The people too busy for haunted houses and apple cider because they’re focusing on Texas’s one real official religion. Yeah, the football fanatics.

It’s always a struggle. Always. You don’t see workplaces telling everyone “Come in Friday dressed as your favorite monster,” and then threatening anybody who wears anything but vampire garb with disciplinary action. Downtown Dallas doesn’t smell like beer vomit and Rohypnol every weekend because of roving gangs of pumpkin carving hooligans. I have yet to hear of a single case of a crazed parent shooting or threatening to shoot a drama teacher because his/her kid didn’t make the cut in a theatrical makeup competition. And when the costumers have their big party, we tend to clean up after ourselves. It’s no surprise that one of the great philosophers of the Twentieth Century was so succinct about his fear of Dallas:

(Fifteen years ago, I was living in Portland, Oregon when King of the Hill first premiered. I was already pretty homesick for Texas, but nothing hit me so hard as having to explain to well-meaning co-workers why this line was so convulsingly funny. Spend a few weeks in Dallas this time of the year, though, and you’ll understand.)

Most years, there’s no real conflict. The football fanatics hold up garlic. We grab it away and use it in chili. They retaliate with tailgate parties. We reciprocate by asking “Not used to staying up all night, are you?” They stay away from the apple cider doughnuts, and we don’t spraypaint “REMEMBER 1996?” on SMU’s new stadium. It’s mutually assured destruction, but it keeps us both a little sane.

Well, that was then. Someone amped up the war. Some sick vermin crossed a line that was set about a mile back, and grinned while doing so. This person or persons unknown produced what’s probably the most horrifying Halloween decoration I’ve ever seen. This person, when found, will PAY.

Football Jack O' Lantern

This is uncalled for. I couldn’t come up with anything this sick, and I’ve spent the last week overdosing on Ego Likeness albums. Is someone REALLY wanting to awaken at dawn to find us standing over him, ready to plunge a goalpost through his heart to stop the nightmare?