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18 Days

halloween decorations

Can you believe there are only eighteen days left till Halloween? I can’t. I’m trying to lull myself out of a how-is-it-already-October shock by decorating for the holiday. I didn’t want to buy a bunch of decorations we’d have to store all year, so instead, we went to the market and picked up a bunch of beautiful fall squash. I love how festive they are, but I really love knowing that when we’re sick of looking at them, we can eat them.

little punkin

We also spent six bucks on some warty little gourds. When we’re done using them for Halloween decorations we’ll either try to find a recipe for them, or turn them into tea-light candle holders for Thanksgiving. Not sure which yet.

not a real rat

I’m particularly proud of my centerpiece for the coffee table. A little bit of spooky tucked in here and there. I have a box of old Halloween decorations I’ve yet to go through, but I’m excited to get them out and see what’s worth displaying. What about you? Are you going to dress up this year? Are you decorating or carving pumpkins?

A Dog and Her Bone

Here’s Valentine, guarding a horse vertebrae we found while camping in Utah this summer, during our cross-country drive.


That’s what it looks to actively wish you had hands, thumbs,
and the ability to walk upright on two legs

I put it on the floor while I was dusting so I wouldn’t forget to vacuum it out (it was stuffed with dead leaves from it’s tenure in the campground) and Valentine decided it was hers. She tried to carry it into her crate, only it was too big for her mouth. She’d pick it up, then drop it, then pick it up, then drop it, then try to pick it up again, only to drop it once more. (Apparently, Chihuahua/Terrier mutts aren’t designed to eat horses.) Finally she gave up and decided instead to sit and guard it. When I finally took it away from her she growled low in her throat, then ran off with her tail between her legs. It’s so cute when she tries to be ferocious.

Portrait of a Dead Pigeon

dead pigeon

You can imagine the gawks and stares and gasps from the swarm of people parading the sidewalk while I crouched, trying to get the perfect angle without actually touching the pigeon.  I wanted to touch the pigeon.  I’m not squeamish.  Had the pigeon been on a quiet street or in an empty park, I’d have had no problem either laying belly down alongside him or moving him so I could get the photo just right.  But I was on the corner of 42nd Street and 9th Avenue, probably one of the busiest corners in Manhattan (except for the corner of 42nd and 8th), and I didn’t want to cause a scene.

I am a connoisseur of dead things.  My obsession started when I was very small and was handed down to me by my big brother.  I’ve documented my love of dead things here and here and on a whim last summer I blew up several of my favorite dead animal photos and hung them on the wall in my living room.  I think they’re beautiful.

When I was a little kid I found a dead seal on the beach and I spent the whole afternoon at her side, sitting on my hands so I wouldn’t stroke her slick coat.  I went back every day for a week to see how she changed, bit by bit, how her flesh softened and sank, to watch while flies and crabs chewed out her eyes, her nose, her fins. Somewhere there’s a picture of me, gap-toothed and pigtailed, a stuffed rabbit clutched to my chest, crouched in the sand with my new dead friend.

In the city the dead things are pushed aside, flattened against buildings, sloughed into the gutter like so much garbage.  But they are not garbage.  They are lives that came full circle.  I want to pick them up and carry them home, watch them decay, save their bones and string them back together, set them up in doll houses or dioramas, treat them as treasures. Instead I take their picture.