Coming Along...

Wondering what we're working on lately? Currently we are working on creating a strong financial foundation, preparing for a move to North Carolina (goal date: summer 2013), slowly building up a collection of spooky items, and starting our foray into miniature models.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Kittens! Inspired By... Kittens!

There will be no actual kittens in this post. What there WILL be is reminiscing about something that has provided me with endless inspiration over the past ten years. A place near and dear to my heart because it is so much more than a location, so much more than a tacky tourist trap on the side of the road (though I love those too, don't get me wrong); its very existence has been a life-changing experience for me. It is that bastion to creativity, that ode to dreams, that wonderful crazy machine that is... The House On The Rock.

If you've never been there, or possibly have never even heard of it, I know what you're thinking... 'a house on a rock? What the heck is that? How could that possibly inspire a lifetime of dreams?!' To which I would respond - words cannot possibly explain it. You just have to go there. You'll walk in and either you'll get it, or you won't. Those of you that get it will be the ones that eventually come and join me in Spookytown. Judging from the many people that flock to HOTR each year, I suspect many of you WILL 'get it'. Those of you that don't, well, not everyone is moved by the same things. That's how life goes. I still hope you'll visit us in Spookytown and have a little fun one day.

Approximately ten years ago, when I was a young doe of 23 or so, my dad's family decided to have a reunion at the Wisconsin Dells, a few hours north of us. I was living in Chicago proper at the time, single and having the time of my life. (Now I'm married with kids, living in the suburbs, and having an entirely DIFFERENT kind of time of my life!) My parents and I decided to drive up to the Dells together. A couple days before we left, my mom called me and said "hey, why don't we stop at The House On The Rock on our way to the Dells?"
"House On The Rock? What is that?" I asked, not knowing at the time that my life was about to change in a few short days.
"I don't really know! It's some house in Wisconsin that people come and visit. It's supposed to be really neat. It's sort of on our way; I thought it would be fun to stop in and see it."

I'm pretty much game for anything, so I shrugged and said sure. I figured it would probably be some small architectural sightseeing spot on the side of the road or something; we'd spend an hour or less looking at it, and be on our way.

WE HAD NO IDEA WHAT WE WERE IN FOR. As we drove up the road towards HOTR, I had my nose buried in a book while my dad drove and my mom struggled to follow the directions she'd printed. After 20 minutes or so, she said "Oh! There it is!" I looked up to see... a long drive flanked by trees, with a sign proclaiming "The House On The Rock". No house anywhere in sight. We turned onto the drive and slowly made our way through what seemed to be a forest to nowhere. Shortly up the road, a peacock composed entirely of musical instruments beckoned to us; just beyond him was a giant flowerpot with huge dragonlike lizards climbing on it. That's when I first began to realize that this was going to be an experience like no other.

My mom and I, way back when, by one of the dragon-lizard flower pots.
What can I say about the house itself? As I mentioned above, it's nearly impossible to describe. Neil Gaiman featured the house in his bestselling book American Gods, and he has spoken on the subject and mentioned that he actually had to TONE DOWN the description of the place because it was too unbelievable otherwise.

Did I mention my husband and I spent Halloween 2010 at HOTR *with* Neil Gaiman, celebrating the Gathering Of American Gods? OH YES WE DID.
The house just goes on and on, from one room full of beautiful crazy contraptions to another to another; and just when you think it can't possibly astound you anymore, it changes direction and sideswipes you from an angle you didn't even see coming. We had no idea how HUGE the place was. My mother, father and I ended up having to RUN through the entire second half of the tour on that first trip because we had to get to the Dells for the reunion dinner. It was wonderful, amazing, and completely overwhelming.

what is this i don't even

The Mikado; a room-sized Asian music machine. I dressed as it for Halloween 2010.


The world's largest carousel. Pictures cannot do it justice.

Near the end of your tour, the Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse bid you adieu. SEE YOU SOON...

another 'what is this i don't even' moment. I didn't notice these little guys frolicking at the base of this tree until my fifth visit.

The Infinity Room. It just goes on and on and oh yeah, it's hanging up 300 feet above the forest, held up by... NOTHING BUT AIR.

My husband standing by my favorite music machine. It's an old-fashioned hearse that plays the Funeral March, followed by When The Saints Go Marching In.

We seem completely oblivious to the fact that THERE'S A GIANT SEA MONSTER BEHIND US OMG

Seriously. A giant sea monster. We're talking THREE STORIES TALL. *INSIDE* the building.

I *told* you I dressed as the Mikado for Halloween.
Since then I have been back there many times, and each time fills my soul with wonder and my brain with crazy pipe dreams. When I walk in I feel like I'm amongst my own people; I feel like I'm HOME.

On the Sun Deck, July 2006.

On the Sun Deck, September 2007

On the Sun Deck, May 2010

On the Sun Deck, Oct 2010
That first visit planted the seeds that eventually grew into my vision of Spookytown. Each subsequent visit serves to remind me that this is really what I'm meant to do with my life. I'm so excited to finally be working towards my dream.

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