A Special Edition: Halloween Countdown—One Day

Saturday brought torrential rains, wind, power outages, downed trees and a few damaged decorations. In the spirit of the Bard, the show must go on.

Sunday night we ran into one of our neighbors inside the Spirit of Halloween store. When her grand children realized we were “the graveyard people,” they told all the store clerks.

The clerks looked at us mystified until we explained our contribution to Halloween in the neighborhood.

Monday night the local driver’s education students put us on the training drive route. Nervous 15-year-olds drove up and down our street, ostensibly for driving practice. And they were not nervous because they saw this. Or were they?

Objects in tombstones

We are far enough from the standard training route, the neighbors lined the street to wave and invite them back for Friday night.

No pressure there.

Tuesday night another neighbor stood in his driveway with his youngest teenage son discussing the final touches to their Halloween yard transformation. We stopped by to cheer them on.

Because if you build it they will come, doesn’t fly anymore without the rest of the village tossing their hats into the yard.

I might have taken that one a little too far. Wouldn't it be creepy if they could sing, too!?!

I may have taken this one a little too far. Wouldn’t it be creepy if they could sing, too!?! Maybe next year.

Wednesday night: Candy strategy night. Do we have enough? Because guano happens.

Guano HappensNow we are only one day away for those of you who celebrate on Halloween night . . . for those of you who have already celebrated, sit back and relax. And the rest of you who might share the Easter Bunny’s view. Well . . .

The Easter Bunny is a little saucy in October.

The Easter Bunny is a little saucy in October.

You know where I’ll be tomorrow night. Celebrating. So we’ll crank it up in the graveyard with Kool and The Gang. Take it away gentlemen.

Seventies costumes welcome.

Happy Halloween!




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A Special Edition: Halloween Countdown–Eight Days

Every graveyard has a story to tell, ours has more than one.

The Moon Has  Eyes

T’was eight days before Halloween, and all through the graveyard, every creature was stirring, even the bard.

Powerful Trouble

All the candles were lain on the table with care, in hopes Halloween soon would be there.

Candle Staging for Halloween
I, in my witch’s hat, and George Gnome with his cat, all snuggled in for our eternal nap.

George and Boots the Cat

When up on the coffin lid arose such a clatter, I flew with my broom to see what was the matter.


When what to our rotting eyes should appear, but Killer Bees Espresso serving pipe cleaner reindeer.

Killer Buzz

*  *  *

No special edition is complete without music, let’s pump up the volume in the graveyard. MARRS with Pump Up the Volume. Yes, we listened to this one year ago.

Until next week. . .



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A Special Edition: The Halloween Countdown Continues

I cannot concentrate on important things like blogging during the month of October, here’s an update on the annual yard transformation.

Children on skateboards, bicycles, and foot-powered scooters stop by in the afternoon. Cars drive down our street each night.

Here’s some of what they see . . .

The cat stalking the Great Pumpkin. Happy-Go-Lucky there is ignoring the Grim Reaper. Does he look nervous to you?

This is what happens when you leave your decorations unattended.

This is what it looks like when they’re actually working.

And why you never see cat skeletons in trees.


This is the least likely decoration to appear in my yard. Unless . . .

The least likely decoration to appear in my yard at Halloween. Unless . . .

It’s tradition to include music with a special edition. Since there was a special request, Liz, this one’s for you.

Fifteen days and counting.

Until next week.



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Greg Bear

Fannie Cranium:

This month’s contribution to the Blog of Funny Names. Author, Greg Bear.

Originally posted on The Blog of Funny Names:

Greg Bear. Photo by Geoffrey A. Landis

Greg Bear wrote a book, more than one. (Photo by Geoffrey A. Landis)

Polish up your geek glasses people, I’ve just spent a month driving close to 9,000 miles with my husband and we’re rolling it into high gear.

Fortunately for me, jocks need nerds and my husband understands my need to geek. He helped me check off an item on the bucket list—jumping over the continental divide . . . feel free to join me. And 5, 6, 7, 8: East, west, east, west. (Shades of lumbago, I needed the exercise after being in the car that long.)

In 2013, we ended the BoFN year with Gary Gygax, founder of Gen Con, the gaming convention. Now Halloween approaches, and costumes will be in full force, let’s segue to our latest installment of geekitude: Author, artist and founding member of Comic-Con San Diego—Greg Bear. Not to be…

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A Special Edition: Halloween Countdown 2014

*Fannie cues up the Addams Family*

Today’s special edition is dedicated to my favorite decorating holiday. Outside the blogosphere, my husband and I spend the month of October setting up our “parent bait” to ensure more than two “Trick or Treaters” come to our front door—guaranteeing we relive our favorite childhood Halloween memories through others.

Since we returned home late from our travels this year, several of our neighbors stopped by to make sure we were okay because we hadn’t started our Halloween construction. Some even stopped by before half time on Monday night football. It’s great to live in a small town.

We are kicking it into high decorating gear over here. So I’m sharing last year’s Halloween photos/post below. Here’s a little bit of what’s going to appear over at Chez Cranium this year.

What more need to be said?

What more need to be said?

Gnomes must love to travel, or do they?

Gnomes must love to travel, or do they?

Perhaps there are darker forces at work here?

Perhaps there are darker forces at work here?

But they still have their sense of humor.

But they still have their sense of humor.

What graveyard doesn't need a little color?

What graveyard doesn’t need a little color?



Then there was this photo. I nearly deleted it until I noticed the image created by the flash . . . clearly the Grim Reaper shops here. ;-)

The flash on my camera caught the image of the Grim Reaper arriving in time for Halloween.

The flash on my camera caught the image of the Grim Reaper arriving in time for Halloween.

Twenty-two haunting days left. So in the words of Nu Shooz, “I Can’t Wait” . . . .

Eighty’s costumes welcome. ;-)

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A Special Edition: Hippopotamus, Cows and Bear, Oh My

The joys of the penning the written word might resemble wanting a hippopotamus for Christmas—it’s all about the journey. Because of several goals I set for myself this year, my time spent penning original short stories about Richard and Fannie for this blog appeared almost non-existent.

Well, I wrote two.

The rest of the time my pen and I entered five literary contests. And spent some time on a book proposal which is now sixty percent complete.

My husband and I traveled for work most of the month of September.

On a ranch in Montana on the border of Wyoming along Interstate 90, we spotted a small black Angus calf about a mile from the freeway. It trotted from the far side of a rolling hill covered in long, golden grass. Sage brush sprouted in clumps over the hill in the manner of discarded litter. No clouds. The sun cooked the air to a little over 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32+º C).

The calf turned back in the direction it came from. It gazed down the hill. Turning on a dime and popping the clutch, it went from zero to maximum warp.

Something was wrong with the way the calf ran. My husband pulled the car over to the side of the road. Seven black Angus steer crested the hill. The calf looked over it shoulder, then in our direction, about a half mile from our position. The calf transformed into a 300-pound black bear.

It slowed at the base of the hill and trotted across the open field toward the barbed wire fence a mile ahead of it.

The steer, each twice the size of the bear, broke into three groups. Two stopping about one-third of the way down the slope in a tight formation. The next two slowed about three-quarters of the way down the hill and trotted to a stop about twenty feet apart. The final three steer picked up the pace, the lead steer bugling.

The gap closing, the last three steer spread out like the Seattle Seahawks defensive back line.

The bear kicked in the nitrous. Outpacing the steer—perhaps taking inspiration from Usain Bolt—running straight for the barbed wire fence. In a fluid motion, it flattened onto its belly. Speed crawling under the fence like a rabbit running from a fox. No lost fur.

The bear came to a stop twenty yards into the next pasture. It looked over it’s right shoulder. His breath in quick spurts.

The lead group of steer slowed to a trot about 100 yards away. Closing the distance.

The bear trotted the last three acres. Stopped and looked back.

The lead steer bugled. It stood thirty feet from the fence. The rest of the steer fanned out behind him.

The black bear cleared the next barbed wire fence. It disappeared into a glen of green leafy trees.

We pulled back onto the freeway.

Behind the hill, the cows formed a defensive circle around the calves.

Cow survival strategy.

As bloggers, we all have different reasons for blogging, but we’re in this together—wanting our own hippopotamus for Christmas.

Just make sure you watch the sides of the road for bears in cow’s clothing . . . .

Dream big. Try different things. Build your space. And invite us over for a visit.

Until next week.



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You Get What You Pay For—Redux

Thank you for joining me for the summer redux series. I am re-posting stories you may not have read, in the fashion of a summer re-run. We’ll get back to our regular posting schedule in two weeks.

The original “You Get What You Pay For” posted back in May 2012. It’s been embellished since then.

*  *  *

A loud crack issued from the bathroom, followed by a muffled thud.

“Richard, are you all right?” I asked, rushing toward the bathroom in our West Seattle apartment.

The former round, mint green toilet seat, shared the fate of a turkey wishbone. The black interior porcelain exposed. The broken halves dangled from either side of the bowl.

“That’s gonna leave a mark,” he said, rubbing his backside. He dropped his running sweats the half mile of his long legs to around his ankles.

“What happened?” I asked, running my fingers through my shoulder length brown hair.

“I was getting ready to take a shower and sat on the toilet to unlace my shoes,” he said, twisting around to view the welts forming on the back his legs. “When I bent over, the toilet seat snapped in two.”

“That looks horrible, I said, shaking my head. “I’ll call the landlord and ask him to deliver a new seat.”

“No, Fannie, I’d rather go down to the hardware store and pick up a new one,” he said, his voice taking on the quality of a military commander.

“Richard, this seat has to be at least 35-to-40-years-old. I’m sure this happens all the time,” I said, crossing my arms and staring up at him and trying to will him to be reasonable.

“No, we’re gonna get a new one after I shower.” The color in his cheeks matched the welts on the back of his legs—angry.

Thirty minutes later we walked down the toilet aisle of the local big box hardware store. Oblong, round, and horseshoe shaped seats with colors ranging from red to black and white hung on the thirty foot long display.

We stood in the aisle looking up at the display, the fluorescent lights over head taking turns between bright and subdued.

“Do you see one that matches our toilet?” Richard asked, studying the display.

“No, what do you want to do?”

A store employee, matching Richard in height, approached us. “Do you need some help?” she asked.

“Yes, our toilet seat failed this morning and we need to get a replacement,” I said, looking up at her.

“What color is the existing toilet?”


“I would recommend you get a contrasting color, such as black, white or gray. Otherwise the seat will clash and you’ll hate it.”

Richard and I looked at each other.

“What’s on sale?” I asked.

“The sale items are at the end of the aisle,” she said, guiding us.

“Fannie, look they have a white seat for only four dollars,” Richard said, grabbing a box from the stack.

*  *  *

Three weeks later my parents stopped by for a visit.

My father wore his signature sky blue polo shirt, khaki pants, and a slight sheen of sweat rimmed his graying horseshoe hairdo.“Fannie, the Memorial Day traffic was terrible, can I use your bathroom?” my father asked.

“Of course, Dad.”

One minute later, the telltale crack reverberated throughout the apartment followed by a slew of expletives not fit to print.

Using masking tape, Richard and my father triaged the toilet seat.

Standing in the toilet display aisle, the four of us searched for a new seat.

“Fannie, Richard, I found a lovely seat for only fifteen dollars. That should do the trick,” my mother said, holding up a two-tone gray and black speckled seat. Her dark brown Suzanne Pleshette wig tied into place with a pale blue scarf rolled into a tube. Her sky blue pantsuit matched my father’s shirt, and she finished off the ensemble with three-inch-high white sandals. “And it should last a lot longer than your previous seat.”

*  *  *

The trees next to our apartment turned a flaming red and gold. A crisp, damp chill clung to the morning air. The Puget Sounds salt air seasoned the chill.

Two orange tabbies perched in the living room window chasing a fly when we walked into the apartment after our run.

“Richard, I’m going to take the first shower.”

The cats followed me into the bathroom. Wicket leaped onto the toilet seat followed by Sadie. I turned on the water. They watched the steam rise from the faucet. The fly joined us in the bathroom. Two orange heads pivoted as one.

The fly circled the room twice, landing on the clear plastic shower curtain. When I closed the shower curtain, the fly flew straight above the cats. Wicket leaped into the air and caught it in his mouth landing back on the toilet seat with a thud followed by the crack. Wicket let go of the fly and the two cats raced from the bathroom.

“Fannie, are you okay?” Richard asked, tripping over the cats on his way into the bathroom.

“I’m okay, but we need another toilet seat,” I said, laughing.

“I bought some duct tape yesterday. That should hold it together until we can get another one.”

“Can I just call the landlord?”


“Why not?”

“It’s a thing,” he said, nodding his head as if that answered my question. Richard’s skilled hands wound the duct tape over the broken seat. “Look, good as new.”

“How can you say that with a straight face?” I asked, laughing at the now designer seat.

“Trust me, the duct tape will hold,” Richard said, his devilish grin spreading across his face.

*  *  *

Two days later, my sister, Eleanor visited. Like the rest of the women in my family, she teased the five-foot mark. Shoulder length brown hair and wearing a pink and red flowered peasant blouse that escaped from the sixties. “Love what you’ve done with the toilet seat, Richard. I think you should autograph it,” she said, winking.

*  *  *

The next day we took the familiar walk of shame down the toilet display aisle. At the end of the aisle on a black velvet background with jewelry display lights beaming on it, hung a white opalescent toilet seat. Below it, a placard listed the price as $32.

The opalescent sheen’s rhythmic pulse enthralled under the display light. We stood mesmerized.

“What do you think, should we spent that much money?” I asked, watching the ever changing sheen on its smooth surface.

“At that price, it should last until we move or die, whichever comes first,” Richard said, taking a box from the stock below. “We can’t go wrong.”

Rushing home with our new treasure, we raced up the stairs to our apartment. Richard removed the duct taped designer seat from the toilet. I opened the box and removed the plastic wrap. Handing him the toilet seat, we both froze.

“That’s a problem,” I said, looking at the oblong seat.

Laughing, Richard said, “Fannie, think of it this way, it will be much more comfortable than the old round seat.”

“Well, I guess we can tell my family we are starting an new fashion trend in bathroom decorating. Maybe they’ll all want to join in,” I said, bungee cords held the grin to my face.

“That’s the spirit.”

*  *  *

Eight years later we purchased our own home. On moving day, I polished the opalescent throne for the last time. Richard and I watched as the seat shimmered in the light.

“I guess you were right when you said it would last until we moved,” I said.

Putting his arm around my shoulders, he gave me a squeeze. “It just goes to show you, you get what you pay for.”

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