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Velvet-flocked black cats with arched backs and yellow eyes. Jack-o-lanterns made of orange construction paper strips. Goofy loose-limbed skeletons with brass brad joints.
f you start today, your apple monsters will be dried just in time for Halloween. These freshly-made owl and eyebrow monsters have a couple days to go. - Photos/EDEN KRUGER
As much as I liked gluing cotton balls to construction paper for Santa Claus’ beard when I was a kid, my siblings and I reserved a special enthusiasm for the evening my parents pulled the Halloween box down from storage.
It was unofficial tradition for my dad to fish the Groucho Marx glasses/nose/push-broom-moustache disguise from the box and don it while we untangled the fake spider webs to unearth the plastic hinged vampire fangs and the He-Man costume complete with warrior abs and battle belt apron. Under a rainbow wig and a bald cap, the collapsible witch’s hat could be found mingling with a long gray beard that hooked on over the ears.
To complete the joy, the orange jack-o-lantern buckets with their triangle eyes spraypainted on were set by the front door — a reminder that we were going to get to go door from door, neighborhood to neighborhood — hooligans wanting handfuls of candy. After a night of trick-or-treating, we would dump the candy out on the living room floor and sort it. It always felt like we were arriving at midnight, after a long evening of collecting, but it was probably 8.
I liked the Sixlets, but besides that, most of my candy was donated to the candy bowl we kept for guests in the weeks after Halloween. What I liked was exploring my neighborhood and adjacent neighborhoods in the dark. I liked seeing my neighbors, even the ones who gave me oranges, toothbrushes and dimes in my bucket. I liked the way they decorated their front doors — the orange lights, the black crepe paper, the occasional smoke machine.
We begged our parents. “Please. Let us keep the He-Man costume out. We would use it all the time.”
“Don’t put away the gray plastic sword with bejeweled handle, it goes with Thanksgiving too.”
Nowadays, a couple decades later, the sight of decorated houses makes me happy. Here in Oregon, you can get pumpkins easily unlike in Hawaii. Here, they’re sprawled out over hay bales in front of all the big stores and they’re in large cardboard boxes inside. Carved or not, I appreciate seeing them perched on doorsteps all over La Grande.
Another thing I like decorating with are apple monsters.
They are easy and fun to make. Do you pass by an old unattended apple tree on your walk home from work or school? If you have permission to gather some of them, even if they have minor blemishes, this apple monster project could turn out to be free.
Stick a Popsicle stick or a spare emory board or whatever you have into the bottom of the apples and dry them slow. I dry them in a cold oven, turning it on for a few seconds if I don’t think they’re drying quick enough. As they dry, you can mold the features with your fingers and make ‘em look real scary.
When they’re all dry, you can hang them up with paper clip hooks and string or make bodies for them out of old rags, paper bags or old pantyhose. If they’re kept dry, they’ll supposedly keep for years. Or you can compost them.