Kage Baker, would, by this time of the afternoon, now be insanely engrossed in her Hallowe’en rituals. They had grown enormous, time-consuming and madly detailed by the end of her life; the Goddess only knows what we would have been brought to if she had lived longer. Actual bonfires, I suspect.
Here at Chez Atwater, we are also deep in the final details. There are things you just cannot reasonably do until The Day appears; and a lot you can’t really do until the light begins to dwindle a little. How to place the last lights, for instance, so the central lawn display of tombstones, skeletal flamingos and vultures is properly back-lit. The lawn flamingos are our own creations, BTW – ordinary pink ones, some of which have been painted black with white bones, and others of which have been altered to look like vultures – paint them black, but leave the head a naked pink, and give them a ruff of white marabou. They are darling!
The porch is ringed with lights: orange, yellow, red and purple. There are jack o’lanterns ready to light up all over the place, including the enormous one amid the flamingos that requires a dozen glow-sticks to illuminate. The plasma generator is in the front window, framed in black and lending that mad scientist look to the place … and the zombie gnome is in a welcoming pose on the edge of the steps.
And I just set up the fog bubble generator in the driveway. The bubbles and rifts of fogs are always a big hit – sometimes kids have to be literally dragged away by their parents, they are having so much fun chasing the bubbles.
Kimberly, being the one around here with common sense, has put down safety tape on the driveway so the small people staring out of the eyes of gods and monsters don’t trip and go splat. She has swept the dead leaves away, trimmed all offending bushes, made sure no one can run carelessly onto the lawn, and made sure there are no open flames on the porch. She’s even washed the pumpkins! We don’t do spooky music, because it scares the very small ones – and as we live half a block from an elementary school, we get a lot of exceptionally tiny goblins.
All this Kage and I used to do as well – although, living as we did in remote places most of our lives, we seldom handed out much candy. When you live in an oak grove or a sea-side cottage, there are fewer neighbors’ kids around. Kimberly, on the other hand … she has an arbitrary cutoff of 300, and always stocks enough candy for that many. (Plus the extra bag the family has already eaten. Smarties come but once a year, man.)
Kage used to be going insane at this point, trying to get the holiday dinner on the table in time: complete with the symbolic empty place setting, which was for our beloved dead. Kimberly, being knee deep in trick-or-treaters, is sensibly sending out for pizza … it’s a good meal for Celtic holidays, in its avatar as a flaming circle.
The little black cat is bored – she’s a pro at this. The little orange cat is totally freaked, as her familiar house is transformed and she keeps being moved from place to place by expostulating humans who – for inexplicable reasons – keep trying to put weird glowing things where she likes to sit. Harry won’t care until the little voices at the door start – then he’ll be yelling back, all enthusiastic and ready to join in.
We’re a holiday family, Dear Readers. We always have been, in all our branches and roots, in all our locations and beliefs. We are proudly That House. This is one of the ways I remember Kage the most intently.
And at midnight, Dear Readers, I will start my annual National Write A Book In A Month (NaNoWriMo! NaNoWriMo! NaNoWriMo! Rah rah rah!) marathon, as well. Something good always comes of it – though not always a whole book; only twice, so far, but it’s the momentum that matters. And I always hope that it’s that effort, that movement, that will lure Kage by for a brief visit.
I assume there is enough chocolate and rum in the Afterlife to keep her happy. But maybe she’ll stop by to tell me how to spell something properly.*
One can hope …
*My thanks to Maggie and Kate, who reminded me where the apostrophe goes in Hallowe’en. And to Kimberly, who patiently went back in and fixed all the places where I got it wrong.