"The glacier knocks in the cupboard, The desert sighs in the bed, And the crack in the teacup opens A lane to the land of the dead."

-W.H. Auden

Monday, November 21, 2016

As though Of Hemlock Had I Drunk

During a walk in the woods, I came across masses of what appeared to be hemlock, although closer examination shows it might actually be wild parsnip. I wasn't willing to run any tests to find out.

"As though of parsnips had I drunk" doesn't sound quite as poetic, though.

And here are these trees, just because I thought they looked nice.



Saturday, November 19, 2016

What I Wore Last Thursday

On the Thursday after the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, I found myself at McDonald's, where I'd stopped to get my morning coffee. In the cold and echoing restroom, I took this selfie in the weird selfie-mirror they have because, I suppose, we are now living in some kind of bizarro world and I hoped the me on the other side was having a better time.

Looking back, I kind of admire the way I fail to exactly match the color scheme.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Little Crow

On Halloween, our little one got his fondest wish, to dress as a crow. Although he was glad enough to play raven to his older brother's Poe. As long as he could flap his wings and play in the grass "just like a real bird", he was as happy as a cla...erm, corvid. :)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Spooky Scary Skeletons

It's late October, the year is turning, the weather is cooling and leaves are beginning to fall. Along the streets, signs of Halloween appear. In the shops, ghostly figures gather.
There are a lot of things to do, like planning hayrides and carving pumpkins. The little one wants to be a crow this year, so there's a complicated costume to make. But for me, personally, the most important thing about Halloween isn't dressing up or trick or treat, though naturally this is great fun. It's a spiritual night, the time I feel closest to my ancestors and loved ones who have passed on. They have been known to drop by at any old time of the year, but Halloween is special. The air fairly crackles with it.

My favorite Halloween memories are not of anything dramatic, but small moments infused with an ineffable...something.

The school Fall festivals and playing games under the full moon. Baking pumpkin pie.Crossing the bridge above the creek and hearing the leaves rustle ominously. And then there is my very favorite memory, the time I saw the last trick-or-treater of the night - a young girl dressed as a witch - jump the wrought iron fence on the corner. She could have walked around it, but she jumped instead, and I was so glad. She was about 11, and I knew, with a certain melancholy, that her fence-jumping days would soon be over. For that moment though, she was truly a little witch.
 
And as always, there is the sense that spirits are close at hand.

After midnight, when everyone has gone home, it's time to leave offerings for the dead. There is candy, fruit, and (when I can manage) bread baked in the shape of little men. Scoff all you want, but when you have guests, you should always show them hospitality. Most times the weather is warm, but sometimes cold wind whips around my ankles as I make my rounds. Regardless, it must be done, because this is the essence of it all, the point of connection between the living and the dead.

In our family, we often joke that Halloween is a more important holiday than Thanksgiving or Christmas, our equivalent, and we'll be like the family in the Ray Bradbury story, Homecoming. Perhaps this will be the day everyone will come for the holidays every year, fluttering home like bats through the moonlight.

It's not a bad idea. They know we'll always leave a light on for them.


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Supernatural Domestic Gothic 5 - The Craft, Or Never Trust A Man In A Bolo Tie

A charm to ward off evil spirits and diaper rash - you know she's going to need it.
More commonly known by the rather dull title To Save A Child, this TV movie was broadcast as The Craft back in 1994. This was the only name I'd known it under, which made it onerously difficult to find, not the least because the big budget film "The Craft" buried any search results. Luckily, the site What Was That Weird Movie came through and revealed the facts, assuring me that it did indeed exist. I'd searched for it so long I was beginning to wonder.

Isabella is a young bride, a doctor's wife who is expecting a baby. She moves from her hometown to her in-laws' ranch in the Southwest, but before she does, the religious studies professor she works for gives her the charm seen above - he must know something she doesn't.

At first everyone in the remote desert town seems friendly, almost overbearingly so, and soon there are signs that something is amiss. Her mother-in-law is all up in her business, her father-in-law is gropey and her husband is always away, leaving Isabella to cope on her own. What's more, there is something not right about the townsfolk. In fact, the whole town is chock full of not right. It makes Twin Peaks seem normal in comparison.

Isabella's only friend is Janelle, a battered wife who warns her that "when the light hits a certain way, the townspeople don't even look human" and that she should leave because "they're gonna get you, and for sure they're gonna get your baby."

See? Chock full of Not Right.

When Isabella sees something nasty in an outbuilding on the ranch, we know that all bets are off.

To Save A Child (Aka The Craft) 1991
https://youtu.be/nLvIUhqohXM
  
Because I consider this (only slightly acerbically) to be the best TV movie ever made, I was surprised to learn that it had actually been a failed series pilot that was repurposed as a stand-alone film. Perhaps this is one of the things I like about it so much, that it's necessarily open-ended to leave room for a series that never happened. That adds something to it, I think. Despite plot similarities to The Lighting Incident, the somewhat surreal camera work and twangy guitar soundtrack owe quite a bit to Twin Peaks. Just more overtly sinister and in the desert, which is fine by me.

Some may question my taste - after all, I thought Two Moon Junction was great - but I maintain that they just DON'T UNDERSTAND.

Supernatural Domestic Gothic has fallen out of favor in recent times, replaced by hackneyed teenage vampires and more straight-up horror themes, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that one day, one day, it will come back into vogue.

When it does, I'll have the popcorn ready.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Supernatural Domestic Gothic 4 - The Lightning Incident

Also known as The Lightning Field. I could swear it was broadcast at least once under the name "The Night Of The Lightning", but I can't find any confirmation of that. Perhaps, like the heroine of the Lightning Incident, I was having a visionary experience.You can never be too sure about these things. ;)

In this film, Nancy McKeon plays a pregnant sculptor who is working on an art installation meant to attract lightning in the desert. (Pity no one told her there already is one ). After she begins to have the aforementioned visions, she discovers a connection to a sinister South American cult. This is bad news for our heroine, because the cult happens to want her baby for nefarious purposes. As you can imagine, Drama ensues.

Sadly, there's no way to link to the film because the only one on youtube is private, but there is a trailer:
https://youtu.be/0GpJpAXbsmk

I liked The Lightning Incident because it delivers most everything you'd want and expect from this type of TV movie, and the desert setting is a refreshing change from the usual New England (or very occasionally Old South) locales where TV movie producers must assume these things happen.

 I have to confess though, mainly I liked it because of the strong similarity it bears to my very favorite TV movie of all time, the one where the genre reaches its highest heights, the ultimate triumph of the form. That one will be the next and final post in this series, so stay tuned.

 Obviously, you'll be waiting with bated breath...

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Supernatural Domestic Gothic 3 - Midnight Offerings

While Midnight Offerings does involve domestic settings, this classic piece of 80's pop culture is more of a teen/school drama. Instead of the mean girl vs nice girl trope, however, we have bad witch vs good witch. And Vivian is a bad, bad witch indeed.

Seriously. I mean, look at that set-up in her room. No teenage occult dabbler I ever knew had gear like that. It must have cost a fortune. Girl was dedicated.

If you've ever had dark suspicions about the fumes emanating from your teen's bedroom, this is a film for you.

Midnight Offerings, 1981
https://youtu.be/DacsxjzSLZc


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Supernatural Domestic Gothic 2 - Midnight's Child

 
If that Swedish Au Pair seems too good to be true, she probably is.

Midnight's Child, 1992
https://youtu.be/tjGGxCs0Ug4

Midnight's Child is genuinely eerie and does a good job of playing on unconscious (as well as conscious) feminine fears. One issue, though, is that the heroine is so often cranky that I find myself rooting for the nanny. Then again, maybe that's what we're meant to do...

Supernatural Domestic Gothic Part 1 - Bay Cove

I confess to having an inordinate love for Domestic Gothic. Your nice new neighbor is acting a bit secretive? Well, perhaps he/she is a psychopathic killer or member of a sinister cult. Your husband dismisses your sudden, uncharacteristic bouts of memory loss? Watch out, he's probably drugging your tea. Before you know it, you'll be committed to a psychiatric ward and he'll have control over your grandfather's fortune. Dastardly!

While TV shows like Desperate Housewives were big hits, I claim that Domestic Gothic reached its most perfect televised form in the Lifetime Television Movie. Back in the 90's, I was an eager consumer of such things, huddled in my darkened living room with endless bowls of popcorn. Will the heroine foil the evil plot? Will she escape in time, hopefully with the remnants of her social and/or family structure intact? Of course she will, and in a suitably dramatic fashion, too

While Domestic Gothic comes in many forms (you know you're watching Domestic Gothic by the way the camera follows the heroine around like a creepy voyeur) my favorite subtype is Supernatural Domestic Gothic, which is what I'll be highlighting in this series of posts. What could be better viewing for this spooky Autumnal season? Garden-variety psycho killers are nothing compared to fighting posses of witches or the devil himself!

First up - Pamela Sue Martin discovers there is something very strange going on in the sleepy village of Bay Cove. Why has no one been buried in the church yard since the 1700's? Who is that old man watching her? Why is there a flaming pentagram in the basement of the general store?

Bay Coven, 1987
https://youtu.be/5Ftsu9xbFx4

I can't embed the video here, but please click the link for thrilling, cheesy fun. :)





Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Tree In Silver

Just to make this a trio of trees, a lovely talisman I found last Summer. It has a most lucky feel to it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Witch Fire Tree

Yesterday's post about The Witch Tree Symbol reminded me of this photo from California's witch fire, in 2007. Sort of a fiery twin of the other. If you look carefully, you can see the simulacra of a witch in this one, too.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Witch Tree Symbol

During a discussion of favorite book covers this weekend, I recalled this one from back in the day. The right cover can make a book memorable, and this is a good example. I was a huge Nancy Drew fan as a kid, but the plot of the Witch Tree Symbol wasn't my favorite -  that honor might have to go to The Secret of The Wooden Lady or The Mysterious Mannequin. However, the cover painting was truly awesome. Girl detective, dark night, spooky tree - what's not to love? But the best part, the very best part, is the witch.

Can you see it?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Storm Is Brewing...

And not just the 2016 presidential election. I mean a literal storm is brewing, in the sky above my house. There will be lightning before long.

But about that election...

I know well the trouble with using tarot to predict the outcome of an election. Or predicting too far in advance. How could I forget Bush v. Gore, when I had been reading the cards every day for months? It had come up Gore every time - until the day of the election itself. Then the cards wouldn't read at all. They wouldn't even shuffle. They had suddenly become slippery, and I knew something was amiss.

Call me crazy, but I had the unnerving feeling that some invisible hand had reached in and changed things - changed the channel, as it were. Or (tarot being what it is) had altered the probablities. I was down at the corner shop when FOX news called Florida for Bush way too early. (Of course it had to be at the corner shop, because no way were we watching FOX news at my house.) I walked back home, shaking my head, because it was obvious something was off. Well, we all know what happened after that.

With this in mind, I've been hesitant to do too much forecasting in regard to this year's election. Not that I've done none - are you kidding? This contest is making me very nervous, so of course I have - but am showing admirable restraint.

First I read for the conventions, because I was worried there would be danger there. The cards showed nothing you wouldn't expect, and - proving that I'm not much a psychic without the medium of the cards - showed that Trump would become the Republican nominee. I'd thought for sure the GOP would give him the bum's rush. The outlay for Clinton showed her in a very strong position. So far, so good.

The next time I felt anxious enough to do a political reading was Monday night, before the first debate. I was anxious, but there was the benefit of knowing the outcome in a couple of hours. The layouts were interesting. I won't bother with all the details, just the striking ones.

The majority of Clinton's cards were strong (the high priestess, strength, the ace of swords etc.) and in the future position, the magician in the upright position. The reading for Trump, on the other hand, was mostly weak, from a political standpoint - (the devil, five of wands, seven of wands reversed). Most striking: in the future position, he also had the magician, but reversed. So far, it was pretty clear - it looked like Hillary Clinton was going to open a can of Whoop-ass on Donald Trump.

That's why the final outcome card in each reading was so strange. (final outcome meaning the debate, not the election.) For her, it was the three of swords, for him, the nine of cups, otherwise known as the wish card. Say what? Clinton would win, but be emotionally distressed, Trump would lose but be triumphant?

Then I realized my mistake. I was reading the reactions of the candidates themselves. It was entirely possible that Clinton might win, but feel less than great emotionally. Trump might lose, but feel that he won - or get what he wanted from the debate, anyway. It occurred to me, too, that Trump might want to lose because he doesn't really want to be president. He might want to run for president, but not actually want the job

Regardless, I realized what I really needed to know is what the public perception of the debate would be. I threw down a quick couple of yes/no readings. Would the majority of people watching the debate feel that Clinton won? 6 up - definite yes. I asked the same for Trump. 5 down 1 up - so most people would say  no but a small percentage would say yes.

I laid out a full reading. What would be the majority opinion about this debate? The final card was most telling: the king of wands, reversed. Ah, so Trump would bring out his blustering, authoritarian side. It had been something the papers had been wondering about all week. I wasn't so sure myself. The presidential debates are high stakes, surely he wouldn't go that route.

But the cards are right far more often than I am. It only took about 15 minutes for them to be proved correct. By midnight, all reports showed the reading had been spot on.

Again, so far, so far, so good. But I will continue to exercise restraint. No reading for the election itself until it draws closer. I will do another reading before the next debate and time permitting, throw them up on the blog.

We shall see.





Sunday, September 25, 2016

Carnivalia

 It's county fair and carnival time again - at the proper time of year, not Winter, like Victoria (seriously, Victoria,WTF?) No, it's after a long hot summer that communities traditionally gather to judge each other's vegetables, sheep and pies. Also to blow wads of cash on midway games.
,
After visiting the petting zoo and the art display (where my son took home first prize - congratulations L.!) we rushed to hit our favorite part, the carnival.

One may reasonably wonder why, at my advanced age, I'm still enamored of thrill rides. Well, there's no instantly transformative experience like defying gravity. The moment I think I'm too old for carnival rides will be the moment I'm officially no fun any more. You might as well pack it in.

Anyway, it's hard to be miserable when you're whirling around in a giant teacup.

I do love carnivals for other reasons though, something more Bradbury-esque.  Just at the time when the year begins to wind down, this strange, transient world appears under cover of darkness. It's all light and color and noise, when the day before it was only dusty ground. It's like a portal of sorts, into something most unusual.

And even if you aren't trapped forever, the mirror maze will force you to confront your mortal image...
at the end of September, when the veil between worlds begins to grow thin.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Equinox

The Autumnal equinox has come, so it's time to post my requisite picture of grass. :)

It has been a strange, chaotic Summer; hopefully it will be a far more peaceful Fall.



Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Ghost Of Coffee Comes To Call

I was annoyed when I spilled my coffee the other morning, until I saw it had become a ghost.
The coffee ghost looks rather annoyed, too, mind.

Hopefully it won't continue to haunt us with sleepless nights.

Moon Over Whataburger


The Harvest Moon rises over Whataburger, and for a moment, everything is as it should be. ;)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Prognostication By Firefly

I was outside watching the stars the other night when a meteor flamed across the sky. Close. Really close. Right above my head. Wait a minute, that can't be right. 

I looked up and saw another another. Ah, a firefly, obviously. But it was flying fast, in a swooping trajectory that left a trail of light. It was easy to see how I'd mistaken it for a shooting star at first. 

Not that I'm an expert, but this wasn't the usual low hover and slow blink of the local insects that makes them so easy to catch.  Its behavior seemed odd, even erratic.

The last two evenings, just at twilight, the fireflies have been crazy active, fast blinking. Sometimes the hedgerows seem lit from the inside. It's a beautiful thing to see, this luminescent mating ritual. But I get this feeling that the fireflies are so busy because they know time is getting short. There's more than a little desperation in the air. 

Granny Clampett never said anything about predicting the weather by fireflies, but I'll take a crack at it - I predict a change in the weather. I suspect Autumn will come early this year.
There was not exactly gold at the end of this rainbow, but there were t-shirts for $7.99, which is just as good.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The End Of The Season

If you go down to the end of the resort, where the buildings thin out and the tourists never go, you'll find these last couple of rooms, straddling a murky canal.

I can't imagine they rent these rooms - not these days, anyway. The errant inner tube floating there indicates even the staff have abandoned it.

It must have not always been this way. I wonder how it came about, these derelict rooms in a busy resort. Surely the water had been fresh and flowing once. Perhaps all the changes and renovations they've made have altered its course, creating this dead end.

 I tried to think back to the way things used to be, but the park has changed so much and so often that it's impossible for my mind's eye to see. So many places built and rebuilt and paved over. With no map for reference, it becomes as vague as Stonehenge. The only thing left is a nagging feeling that things were once different, somehow.

It's something that always catches my eye and intrigues me, these signs of abandonment. It sometimes troubles me, too. Perhaps there's a subtle hint of foreboding in it. The changes that time inevitably brings.

I wander about the resort, noticing the bits and pieces left over from the past. The traces are growing dim, like my own childhood, and eventually must be replaced with something new.

In the meantime, though, we are still standing, like this empty room at the end of the season.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Secrets of a Rainy Night

The night feels very close tonight, enclosed, as if it's drawn itself around us.

There was a rain shower earlier, a surprisingly cold one, and I had to go out in it. The feeling started then, I think. Dashing around, as if I could avoid getting wet. But it was the kind of rain that just makes you laugh. There's no point in trying to stay dry. Might as well get wetter.

The rain stopped after a few minutes. Here and there, little patches of mist rose from the ground. The flowering bushes seemed to lean toward us, the hedges making little tunnels to walk through. It all felt very different, as if the ordinary world had been replaced with a secret one.

Indoors, it was the same, as if the night had come inside too. The hallway was another tunnel, with soft glowing lights. Mysteries in every corner. It does feel like that; as if the night has a secret, and you could know what it is, if only you knew how to listen the right way.

Even if I knew it, I would never tell.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Fried Food And Heartbreak

It was one of those stupid teenage crushes, stupid because it was doomed from the start. Even worse than that, the fact that he didn't like me had begun to seem like a point in his favor.  

Sigh.

Low self-esteem will make you do the most ridiculous things.

The stupidity of all this didn't mean it didn't hurt. Golly gee whiz it hurt. I was quite sure I was dying. The only way I could think to ameliorate this condition was to go down to the water park and lie there like a dead dog in the lagoon.

Oh, I could have been more active, climbed to the top of the water slides and such, but whenever I did that, I'd just end up scanning the horizon, wondering where he was. Or, there was a chance that I'd see his 1968 Dodge Dart tooling around the streets below. Possibly with another girl.

Nope, it had to be the lagoon for me, floating in my inner tube of anguish. When droplets of water hit the rubber, they sizzled like bacon grease, but so what? There was the sound of people laughing as they splashed around, and Graham Parker on the radio. At least they hadn't rejected me. Well, not explicitly.

The food stalls next to the lagoon gusted delicious frying smells across the water. Cheeseburgers. Churros. Funnel Cakes. Regardless, I was unmoved. There's nothing like a bad romance to kill an appetite. Probably I didn't eat another bite 'til October, but that's beside the point.

The point is that I went down there again today, to the food stalls next to the lagoon, and I thought damn, what do you know? After all these years, fried food still smells like heartbreak.


image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Funnel_cakes#/media/File:Funnel_cake_2


Sunday, July 17, 2016

3 AM Eternal

Due to an unscheduled hangnail that's making typing intensely painful tonight, I'll leave you with this picture of me lurking in the dark. Lurking is more fun than writing, anyhow. :p

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Old Skool Summertime Fun


I'm pleased to report that Sunday was one of those days, the kind that require nothing more than simple pleasures. Things like pinwheels and bubbles and the hum of cicadas in the trees.

Romping with the dog on the lawn...
She's recaptured the ball by this time and has no intention of giving it back. That's why she's smug.
Or pretending the tree fort is a pirate ship...
ahoy, matey
 



An evening drive to the robo-wash
Because who doesn't love the robo-wash? When I say simple pleasures, I really mean simple.
To the ultimate July third destination, the fireworks stand on the edge of town

"It's like a candy store with explosives", says Middle Son. gleefully.
Ending the night with some sparklers in the dark.
I'm pleased to report that it was a very good day.

Notes:
 Middle Son needs a haircut, but he's growing it out for a cancer charity. Anyway, have you ever tried to shear a 15 year old against his will? Good luck with that. :p

Every time Youngest Son went down the slide from his tree fort, he'd shout "diabetes!" When I (naturally) asked why, he said it means he has a really great idea. I can only surmise this means diabetes is the new eureka.