October 1st: The First Day of Appropriate Pumpkin Carving

The sign of the season.

Every year, the day of reckoning comes.  We all search for the crazy person lurking in the bushes with a chainsaw.  We hear the blood-curtling screams at the neighborhood haunted houses with teenagers who pop out from cauldrons.  We always feel the noodles in the bucket and think their worms at our bosses completely lame, and over-the-top Halloween party (unless you work at SAS from what I hear, everything they do is magical).  Anyway, Halloween is when the ghosts are supposed to come out to play.  My favorite is one you have a neighbor who refuses to celebrate because of religious traditions and they turn all the lights off and sit in the lonesome dark to avoid all the giggling children.

All the psychics, mediums and tarot readers get frantic from the buzzing in their heads and we expect half-Jesus-apocalypse, half-zombie attack.  We have bomb shelters made out for that occasion filled with packets of ketchup and sweetener.  We leave lights on in the rooms we don’t even go in.  My mother plays howling witch music from the stair landing window.

Assorted dead vegetables.

I used to trick or treat in high school when I thought dressing up as Britney Spears was cute; bellybutton and pigtails – what’s not to love?  Or, in college, when my drunk roommates threw full water bottles at sorority girls from the back-seat window and I drove the getaway car.  Or, going to the Design school concert and dancing the night away in the rainy mist with my best friends.  All of these are fond, and ridiculous memories, but it’s time to get out of the alcohol binge and do what real people do (married with children, old people do): carve pumpkins, like we’re on some evening sitcom.

All I can remember from pumpkin carving was gagging at the inside mush and guts.  I have a pretty strong gag reflex (now that’s an awkward thing to put in a blog).  Here’s an example: brushing my tongue. And things like; bananas, mushy apples, sometimes even yogurt makes me gag.  So, the stringy, yet smashed guts of pumpkins really set me off.  I like to look at them in their orange, round, glory, but cutting and touching isn’t really my mastery.  Thus, why I have a professional knife welder to help me out in the pumpkin carving process.

One big pile of strange, and a tower of gourd off to the right.

Yesterday, we went on a pumpkin hunt.  It’s not enough for me, just to go to Walmart and snatch an obtuse, half-moldy pumpkin from a large cardboard bin and call it a day.  I have to have the creme de la creme of pumpkins, straight from the North Carolina Farmer’s Market.  Grown from organic soil, hooked stem, biologically raised for me…etc, etc.  They’re so good, they hide them in the very back of the Market, like overgrown monsters instead of crystal carriages.  We found neck squash (at least I think that’s what it’s called) and I put it on like a vegetable boa.  We found the leper of all pumpkins, gourds the size of small children with colors you only see on deserted islands.  There were crates upon crates of pumpkins, perfect pumpkins, with large stems that hooked around like beat-down pirates.  And crates of ginormous pumpkins costing in the twenties, which really isn’t too much to ask if you can design like nine pictures on those suckers.

The Sketch. I know...masterful. We're talented.

I think my favorite part of the whole day wasn’t any pumpkin in particular, but drawing up pumpkin sketches.  MAU can draw, he has like…abilities, that my veined hands just don’t have.  In fact, his pumpkin eyebrows were something to marvel at, while mine were bushy – and needed their other half.  Fortunately, we went with half my design, half his design for the face (you can decide which you think is which) and so my unibrow was put to death by a much mellower version.  For a direct eyebrow image see: Andy Rooney.

Let me sidetrack for just a second with that last statement. Last night, October 2nd, 2011, was Andy Rooney’s last five minute rant on Sixty Minutes.  For more than twenty-five years this man has been picking apart his desk wood, your under-the-sink-cleaners, department stores, the human race, and tonight I was really sad to see him go.  Every Sunday, my dad, being the old fart he is, sits down to hear the latest from 60 Minutes.  We share two couches, and a large downstairs television so I sit quietly listening to the data spew from the lips of the reporters, usually more than accurate.  60 Minutes informed me of Greg Morteson’s shameful lies, they’ve had Obama more than a few times, my political motives often revolve around their speeches and no one updates better on the War in Iraq than 60 Minutes.  The thing I like most, although he is a surefire dick, is Andy Rooney.  Eyebrows made of bushes on fire, and all.  I encourage you to watch some Andy Rooney clips on youtube to make this experience full throttle.  In fact, let me share this last one:


Let’s take a minute to say a fine farewell to Andy.  He’s ninety-two, looks like a bridge troll and talked to you about things you already knew for the last thirty years…he’s a legend.


Or, you could end up with the special treat to your left.

Okay, back to the pumpkin heads.  We set out on this pumpkin carving journey with a few hidden, rusted knives in a small wooden adobe on MAU’s countertop.  I had high hopes for our pumpkin.  You know what I mean.  Here I am, living in suburbia, and every house has some sort of talent living in its upstairs windows.  All of a sudden during October you start to see it creep out in the faces of pumpkins.  There will be a wolf howling at the moon pumpkin across the street.  Then, your next door neighbor has a witch, literally, on a broom in the night sky with one feint eye looking from under her cap.  And finally, the real show stoppers, the haunted houses, intricately designed into the pumpkin skin – fit with door knobs and ivy growing up the side of the wood planks, smoke coming from the chimney and shingles dusted in glowing sparkle.

Yea, those people suck.  They’re the same people who out-do you in Christmas lights every year.

Their father is on the roof in his boots, dragging threads of white lights.

The wife is safely planting small, Christian, candles in every window and waiting until night fall to plug them in, all at once.

MAU and I are not those people.  We’re simple.  We used three large butcher knives, no kit or stencil.  We just drew out one starry eyed, evil pumpkin and then carved into our twelve-dollar, better-than-your-pumpkin.

But first, there must be mustache.


Okay, whew, glad that’s over with.  Here’s our pumpkin-process.


SUPER excited

It’s like when your dog starts to look like you….isn’t it?

6 thoughts on “October 1st: The First Day of Appropriate Pumpkin Carving

  1. Bea Mannes says:

    Love the pumpkin artwork, and when did people start looking like their pumpkins?
    Also, so long Andy Rooney, you were a grumpy curmugeon…did I spell that right….but I did love your work at the end of 60 minutes. Your feelings about writers and writing was spot on, and I hope any writers who saw your interview last Sunday were inspired.

  2. Audra (Unabridged Chick) says:

    omg, you about killed me with the snorty laughing water inhaling thing but so.worth.it. Loved this whole post.

    I live abt 40 min from Salem, MA which means October is AMAZING and I love it. I want to live in Salem to celebrate cartoon-y Halloween every day.

    • Cassie says:

      Haha, Ahhhh I love watching that happen to someone else, but it’s quite painful when it’s happening to you! I’m glad I could make you laugh that hard though :) Have fun in Salem, put pictures up PLEASE!!!


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