Somewhat Acceptable

I love Halloween- my favorite part is a tie between the candy and making costumes. If I think our costumes are particularly awesome, we like to go somewhere where people are judging and giving prizes for the best costume. We’re not really dead-set out to win, mostly it’s just a chance to show off the costumes in front of a wide audience. Then again, maybe it’s a good thing we aren’t all hellbent on winning, because we never do. We’re perpetual runners-up.

Three different times, three different costumes, have gotten us called up on stage for the final judging.

One year it was when we were the Residents:

We lost to a Dalek who’d clearly fashioned the costume from cardboard and household items. The MC thought she was a saltshaker, but her costume was absolutely the best one and she deserved to win.

Last year we were Lord of the Flies castaways:

We lost to Bender Bending Rodriguez who’d really outdone himself and deserved to win.

This year, though, we broke away from our usual habit of making matching/complimentary costumes. Both were of an Adventure Time theme, though. Jon was a seven-foot Earl of Lemongrab.

And I was the Flame Princess:

It was understood from the get-go that my costume wasn’t really the centerpiece this year. I spent way more time making Jon’s and he was the horse we were betting on. Besides, my costume only seemed to shine when I was around actual fire.

So off we went to The Shelter, proud of the Lemongrab costume and wondering if we had a shot at winning this year. We believe that at these nights, part of the trick to winning is not just to show up in a kickass costume, but to play it up as much as possible, look like you’re having fun. Funny how that works, though- trying to look like you’re having fun is much more fun than just sitting there brooding and waiting for the judging to begin. So we danced all night.

Earl Dancing

The problem with Jon’s costume, which is a frequent problem with a kickass, elaborate costume, is that his vision and mobility were severely impaired, as well as his hearing to some extent. Jon also reports that it was about 1,000 degrees inside the papier mache Lemongrab head. And staying decently buzzed enough to dance while maintaining proper hydration proved to be very challenging.
Earl Drinking

At times, he just needed a break. Fortunately, sitting quietly and brooding looked really good, and in character, while wearing a Lemongrab head.

Earl Sitting

Since I was not overheated (despite being a Flame Princess) and I could hear and see, I sometimes felt like a Seeing Eye Princess for Jon on the dance floor. I made sure he didn’t bump into anyone or knock people’s drinks over. His pointy nose did jab me in the eye at one point, though. I was the perfect height for that weapon to be at exactly eye level.

Finally it was time to award the prizes for best costume. They called out the names of the finalists, and neither Jon nor I were all that surprised when the DJ said “Where’s the Earl of Lemongrab? Can we get Earl of Lemongrab up here?”

So there he was.

I was not called on stage, but I wasn’t really expecting to be. I was happy to hang out by the pretty spiderwebs.

Flame Web

And they announced the first runner-up….The Earl of Lemongrab.
Earl Posing

UNACCEPTABLE! Jon was pretty happy, but this was the first time I felt a little robbed at second place. Those other costumes really weren’t that great. And the Dalek? I’m a Dalek snob now after that first costume contest several years ago. That winning Dalek had a full body cardboard costume that she was hiding in, not an R2D2 hat with a dress. Lame. She wasn’t the winner, though. The winner was the one I thought was second-best, the Grady Twins. I admit they’re creepy and horrible, but clearly they didn’t put the same amount of work into it. Besides, I’ve seen it done before.

I guess it just means we’ll have to do something even better next year.

Princess Potluck

We had a bunch of Princesses over the other night. And an Earl. And a few people that I couldn’t seem to twist into princesses.

Let’s see who we have here.

Earl of Lemongrab
Ah yes, the Earl of Lemongrab. He seems smaller on TV, but apparently in person he’s seven feet tall and makes the big mural look hardly bigger than a poster.

Flame Princess
Flame Princess, who makes kind of a mess when she lights up in the house.

Princess Tim
Princess Tim, whose shoes are lamentably not show in the photo. That was the best part, too.

Not a princess, but some sort of Fraggle Rock doozer who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Piper Chapman
Again, not a princess, but she sure seemed to think she was during her first few weeks at the Litch.

Princess Chuck
Pretty Princess Chuck, with a squid growing out of his ear. I’m very fond of taking pictures in which it appears that something is growing out of the subject’s head.

Princess Lisa
Princess Lisa, with a squid growing out of her head.

Princess Sparklepony
Princess Sparklepony, or possibly Sparklebrony, with a squid growing out of his ears. Sparkleponies really shouldn’t be allowed in the house. A lot of rainbow manure to clean up.

Prince and Princess Bike
Prince and Princess Bike, whom I had to ask if that was a costume or if they normally dressed that awesomely. A little bit of both, they said.

Princess Mom
Princess Mom, complete with her valium and vodka tonic. I forgot to ask her to pose in front of Sharktopus.

Princess Nurse
Princess Nurse, because a Halloween party without a nurse is lacking, plus you need someone who knows first aid.

Princess Paul

Likewise, at a Halloween party there’s always that one guy who’s too grumpy to dress up. He’s still a princess, though.

The last of the eurypterids

Obviously the worst thing Vivian ever destroyed was my robot rat taxidermy. We sent her to the glue factory for that.

Giles has definitely destroyed a greater number of items than Vivian, though nothing as valuable as that rat. Arguably. I can easily say what the worst thing was that Giles has ever destroyed. And he did it twice. I blame myself both times, though. In both instances, the destroyed objects were kept in one of the dog-free rooms of the house, but we had somehow, through some lapse, failed to block off access to the dog free rooms while going out and leaving Giles at home.

The two object in question were both hardened, molted skins of the Atlantic horseshoe crab, Limulus polyphemus. They were very valuable to me because I’d collected them on a trip I’d taken with Jon to the Cape in the summer of ’10, the last summer we were still living in Massachusetts. It was an especially awesome day, despite nearly getting my finger clipped off by a crab.


Not all crabs are as unpleasant as that one, though. That doesn’t segue into my horseshoe crab pictures as well as I thought though, since horseshoe crabs aren’t crabs at all. They’re about as closely related to crabs as we are to say, eels.

So without any more flowery build-up, I’ll say that one terrible day, I found the mostly-eaten remains of my precious horseshoe crab exoskeleton all over the carpet. Giles had even eaten the pointy tail part. Since these skins were collected on the beach, I can imagine that they were salty as well as crunchy, and Giles probably perceived them to be some fishy-flavored potato chips. As usual I told him he was a terrible dog and that we would never love him again. But sometimes that doesn’t ease the pain, and I was heartbroken to have lost these sentimental items.

So last weekend, three years later, we finally had a chance to get some new ones. Can you believe we had to travel 1200 miles to replace what Giles had eaten?

Nevertheless we did. We couldn’t even guarantee that we’d find horseshoe crab molts this time, but Mom came along and we succeeded.

Horseshoe Crab Mom

Upon reading more about horseshoe crabs, I learned that the reason that the skins wash up on that particular beach in Welfleet, MA, is because horseshoe crabs prefer well-protected tidal flats while they are immature. They shed about 17 times before reaching maturity and heading out to sea, and in the meantime, the bay at Lieutenant Island at this beach is practically a spiral and full of grassy marshes, keeping the young safe from most predators until they’re ready to strike out on their own. A nursery beach, if you will. Every time they shed, their skins ends up washing up on the beach, where I gleefully collect them. Once they reach maturity, they never molt again and so once they’re out at sea, they have no shed skin to wash up on any other beach. This explains why while I grew up with easy access to about 12 different beaches and while I sometimes came across live adult crabs, the only place I ever found these skins were on one specific beach on Cape Cod.

While searching for molts on this magical horseshoe crab haven beach, we also came across a large dead female who must have either gotten lost or felt like visting her children. All the barnacles and limpets all over her made her look like she was about 1,000 years old.

Dead one

Who knows? Maybe she knew she was going to die and wanted to visit her childhood home one last time. We let her family visit her and pay their final respects.

Crab Family

Lucky for us we managed to find a way to get a chance to come out here once again and replace the seemingly irreplaceable. Even better, all of these extremely fragile casts survived the trip home in my suitcase somehow. The Terrible Dog is going to have to try harder to ruin everything next time.