Advice for next year’s Halloween costume. If you are going to a party, wear a comfortable costume. If you’re going to a concert/costume contest, which is sure to be crowded, don’t wear costumes that protrude out beyond you, for example, bat wings. Even more important, if you should choose to ignore my advice and wear bat wings, don’t hammer so many beers that you don’t realize that your “dancing” (drunken gesticulation) is causing your wings to molest everyone around you. Just don’t do it.

With that PSA done, here are this year’s Halloween photos. First, Cavity Cove. Because it’s always fun. Today as I was taking pictures, the owner of the house was still putting up finishing touches. I asked him how many trick-or-treaters they get, and he said depends on the weather and on the day of the week, but last year they got about three thousand (yes, 3000!). He said they’ve lived there 14 years, but that the tradition of insane in a good way decorations on D Street goes back 50 years. Thanks, Mr. Cavity Cove, for carrying on the tradition, and for raising money for the local homeless shelter, COTS.

On site dentristy = take a picture with Cavity Cove's resident "Demented Dentist."

On site dentistry = take a picture with Cavity Cove’s resident “Demented Dentist.”

Halloween2016-03

The dentist couldn’t help the mermaid victim of sharknado.

Halloween2016-05

Don’t like smoke? Suck it up anyway, because “the beatings will continue until morale improves.”

Halloween2016-04

I usually hate these decals, but I’ll forgive you, Mr. Cavity Cove, because you and they are awesome.

Down the street a bit, this giant snake lurks in waiting.

Halloween2016-01

He’s so colorful, he’s a party.

The collaboration-competition houses have grown from two to four houses. They have a lot of stuff. Some of it’s themed, some just creepy.

Is that the Colonel?

Halloween2016-12

I’m not hungry any more.

Halloween2016-14

“Maybe if we look cute, they won’t want to eat us? How are we doing?”

Halloween2016-15

It’s like Farm to Table cuisine, only ickier.

Halloween2016-16

They’re hungry and waiting in line for the chicken diner.

Halloween2016-10

The Zombie Drum Band

Halloween2016-11

Moonshine, a hillbilly treat

Halloween2016-09

Scary swamp people

Halloween2016-08

More scary swamp critters

Halloween2016-17

Ack! Even scarier critters

Halloween2016-07

The scariest critters of all

 

 

Here’s the rest of the best of last year’s Halloween. Two or three houses collaborate — or is it compete? — on themed displays. As you scroll through the photos, admire how many mannequins they assembled, how many signs and t-shirts they created, and how much time (not to mention storage) they must spend. I kind of want to interview the homeowners to ask them how this all started, but with Halloween less than two weeks away, they’re probably frantically busy.

Last year’s theme was “Satan High.” One house had the quotidian activities of high school, including the science lab and the resultant visits to the nurse’s office.

20141031-Halloween-043

Is Biology a required course? Can I skip it?

Ouch.

The lunch ladies.

20141031-Halloween-046

No, thanks. I think I’ll just get a candy bar from the vending machine.

Detention.

Detention and shop do not mix well.

And, of course, football.

20141031-Halloween-036

Don’t mess with any of them. And that goes double-time for the band.

My money’s on the Devils.

Burning hot!

20141031-Halloween-039

I can even forgive the misspelling, because “Clip Their Wings” is genius.

The house across the street focused on end of year activities such as the prom, complete with King and Queen and live music.

20141031-Halloween-029

Those kids are square pegs.

20141031-Halloween-032

Nobody else stood a chance.

I love live music, but this band scares me, especially the drummer.

And graduation.

20141031-Halloween-050

Voted least photogenic.

20141031-Halloween-054

Go Team! No, really, go. Get the hell out.

 

You could say I’m woefully late with last year’s photos, or I’m early for this year’s Halloween. Doesn’t matter. I’m celebrating the crazy spirit my town has for this holiday. Go Petaluma!

Kids trick or treat in the downtown area, and several of the shops hand out candy.

I learned that a pirate fairy is a thing.

Some of the shopkeepers get into the fun and dress up.

Bunny was excited to see all the little ones.

On my way to the mansions on D Street, I saw this kid. He saw me taking his picture and posed for me. Love him.

Reminds me of when my nephew went as a cheerleader.

This is just a warm-up for the Halloween decorations. Ha ha. Should I say cool down?

I sometimes feel like a dead dog after yoga.

Camp Scare was open again last year, with some new activities.

Fishing. And look, there’s water — proof that it did rain some last year.

He doesn’t seem to enjoy the zipline.

And once again, Cavity Cove did not disappoint.

As panoramic as I could get. That tree on the left moved. Creepy.

20141031-Halloween-022

Beware the kraken.

It was an election year. When I first drove by the Cove, I was disappointed to see politics in their display. Until I got closer. I fully endorse this measure!

I vote YES!

There’s still more. Stay tuned for another post. But beware if you have coulrophobia; there may be some clowns (and not the cute kind).

Two years ago, I said it would likely be 18 months before we’d have a party in our new house. We’re still not in. But we’re close. So very close.

I’d said, “It’s a little hard to wrap my brain around the whole thing, even now that there’s no backing out.” That was back when we only had this:

FieldOfDreams

My brain’s been taxed even more since then.

Imagining that this house would ever leave to make way for our house. (We recycled a house!)

Mobile

That this machine would clear enough space to make way for a foundation:

Scraper

That this mess would ever be a foundation:

Scraped

That this foundation would ever become an actual house:

FoundationPoured

That these pods were house modules:

Modules

That the modules would survive their flight through the air:

FlyingHouse

And that this house — as housey as it looks here — is not done. That from here, it would still take another three months. There’s interior patching, drywalling, plumbing, exterior decking, septic system, etc. I’m about ready to take my air mattress out there and camp out. (I was especially ready to do that last week, when we had 100-degree heat for several days in a row. Our current house does not have air conditioning.)

AlmostHome

All that’s left is garage siding, garage doors, a gas line, and cleanup. That’s “all.” I’d hoped we’d have our annual summer solstice party in new house. Clearly, I was overly optimistic. Now I’ll be happy if it’s before winter solstice. And I’ll be ecstatic if the packing genies actually show up this time.

Two weekends ago, I saw my cousins for the first time in ages. They were visiting Dad in Daly City on a rare hot weekend, so drinking and conversation turned to beer. I told them Petaluma’s vying to become the epicenter of Northern California microbrewing and every little restaurant in town has several local beers on tap. Mostly, I was trying to ensure that their next trip is longer and includes a stay up here.

The day after they left, I texted this picture to Tony.

PetalumaHills

He texted back, “You’re making me jealous!”
Success!

I’d told him Porterluma is my favorite local beer and how we’d been eagerly awaiting the opening of the Petaluma Hills Tap Room ever since we’d first tasted Porterluma in a beer-tasting class. Now that we’ve finally made it to the tap room, I can also recommend the red tag ale and the ESB (we did tastes instead of pints to maximize variety). The shiny new bar overlooks the brewing area, so we watched the beer making instead of the TV. The owner is friendly and answered my geeky questions about harvesting yeast.

I can remember when my only question about beer was “Why do you drink that?” I also remember the first time I thought beer was good. I was about 18 and on a whitewater-rafting trip with my friend’s dad, acting as his adopted daughter for the weekend. It was sweltering hot, and I was parched.  The sodas were in a cooler on another boat. I asked for a diet coke, and someone sent one flying through the air. I caught it, but it slipped through my wet hands and sunk to the bottom of the American River. Of course, that was the last soda available.

It was 100+ degrees, and the beer was cold, wet and therefore delicious. My friend’s dad floated by in the other boat and gave me a sideways glance as I drank my beer, and I shrugged and told him there was nothing else to drink. (Bottled water hadn’t been invented yet.) For a long time after that, I thought beer was only good if it’s really hot outside. What I didn’t realize is I wasn’t drinking good beer. As I got older, I discovered beers I like even when I’m not dying of thirst. I’ve enjoyed beer while traveling and found “What’s a good local beer?” a fun question to ask.

That was only the beginning of my questions. I wanted to learn more: the difference between ales and lagers; how various styles are made; etc. Basically, I wanted to go into a pub with multiple taps and be able to choose confidently. I’d wanted to take Beer 101 for years, but didn’t find an extended ed class until we moved to Petaluma. Once a week for several weeks, we sat in a community college chem lab drinking beers of different styles, learning about brewing processes, taking notes, and enjoying beer. Best chem lab experience ever! It taught me that I’ve still got a lot to learn, but I don’t have to travel far from home to continue my education.

 

Not sure how this guy fits into Halloween, but I like him (and his pride-mates) a lot better than the flamingos across the street.

DSC_0150DSC_0148

This house has no need of decorations, because c’mon, it looks haunted without trying.

DSC_0102

But, stop. Stop and behold Cavity Cove. Many, many people — including drivers — paused to admire the dedication and artistry. I was not the only person taking photos.

DSC_0105

The story I heard is that the current owners of the house inherited the tradition of, and decorations for, Cavity Cove from the previous owner, a dentist. They’ve continued to expand the tradition.

DSC_0052DSC_0131

And while Cavity Cove is my favorite by far, a special shout out for this unique Halloween offering. I wonder if you need to be in costume to join in the fun.

DSC_0079

The bat’s wings wouldn’t stop flapping in the wind.
The other side says “6pm until they’re gone!”

Whether you’re trick-or-treating, handing out candy, or hiding in the back of the house with the lights out, I hope you have a very happy Halloween.

Fairly simple, but way better than spider webs:

DSC_0046

I have come to learn that some Petalumans really celebrate and decorate for Halloween. Today, I wandered around like a creepy neighbor taking pictures of people’s homes. (I can’t be the only one.)

First, My favorite Victorian in Petaluma, with its own hanging mummy:

DSC_0072

And a close-up:

DSC_0141

Another house went all-out with their theme. I can’t help but wonder if it changes every year:

DSC_0110

There’s engineering involved in them there pumpkin heads — at least the ones standing up.

DSC_0026

The reclining ones may be a little easier.

DSC_0036

But the most frightening part of CampScare? Look closely at the Grill Master — he’s cooking up his own kin. What kind of cannibalistic barbecue is this? And why is he so gleeful about it?

DSC_0116

Saving the best for actual Halloween. See you tomorrow!

 

I’m all for Halloween decor, but this? Not so much.

Please, Not Purple

What spider spins purple?

It’s better with some Photoshopping — a little more creepy old house and a bit less purple. Even still, those spider webs are my least favorite Halloween decorations (especially without a single spider in sight).

The Local Haunted House

Better. But the best is yet to come.

The genies never came to pack our boxes at the old house, nor to unpack them at the new one. We were living in Boxlandia for several weeks, but now the new place is really shaping up. Not enough to take interior pictures, mind you, but shaping up.

Waiting to sign the lease

Waiting to sign the lease

The new place isn’t as charming as the old place, but all the appliances work and the house is unlikely to crash down in an earthquake. We can run the microwave and the toaster at the same time! Plus, now when I’m washing dishes, I look out at a cute patio instead of at a wall.

new view

Someday, we’re going to hike that.

From home to downtown takes 10 minutes on bike (the return trip takes me 15; it’s uphill & both my bike and my body are heavy) or 30 minutes on foot. Either way, I cruise past lovely Victorians. Best of all, the downtown is humming with activity and restaurants (even one that stays open until 2 am!).

Even better, our first in-town adventure led me to baby goats! My head did not explode as Derek feared it might from the volume of unbearable cuteness, but I couldn’t stop smiling. I not only tasted yummy cheese, I held a baby goat. And I told the woman leading the tour, “You’d better just get another goat, because I’m not letting this one go.” I held it until it was time to go. Mama Goat was none too pleased.

Camera couldn't focus on goat because my smile was too bright

Camera couldn’t focus on goat because my smile was too bright.

The only kids we're gonna have

Cyn says: “The only kids we’re gonna have.”

Never say, "No, I'm not going to hold a goat." Because this is what happens.

Never say, “No, I’m not going to hold a goat.” Because this is what happens.

My drive to the gym takes me past sheep and goats, and if I go even a few miles to the north or south on the freeway, or west on country roads, I see cows. It makes me happy to drive by cows. I’m simple like that.

We don’t have trees or chickens or a pool of our own just yet, but the rolling wine country hills are pretty awesome, and I know a month is kind of early for such declarations…but I think I love Petaluma.