Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Happy Haunting

The current weather is not boding well for trick or treaters. We are experiencing gusty winds, fog, and drizzle...which has thickened to rain, at this point.

However that is supposed to stop by mid-afternoon. In fact, Environment Canada's forecast is for sunny periods later today and clear all through the evening. Wheee! The witches may fly after all!

Click here for a magical treat from the BBC! 

Our hood a few nights ago - pure magic! 

Monday, 30 October 2017

More Mat Night

Soooo...while on the other side of town yesterday we ended up with a flat tire. Luckily we had one of those cans of foamy sticky stuff that you can inject into the tire to get you where you're going. Which was home. That meant a change in plans for today. This morning we were up early to get the winter tires out of the shed and into the car. It's about that time here anyway so we figured it was a good time to get the tires changed. Also got us a good deal on a new set of summer tires.

Because of the tire problem and the fact that I forgot hubby has to work this evening, well, we changed up the schedule. Last night we carved the pumpkins and watched the two Tooms X-files episodes. Both episodes made me scream...heeee hee! We also watched two episodes of Stranger Things....cuz hubby can't watch one tonight. By the way, I'm loving Season 2!

That evening walk in the woods is off too. But not just because hubby has to go to work tonight. The weather's looking iffy for this evening -- calling for fog and maybe rain overnight -- but I won't be walking in the woods tonight mostly because of what happened on our last woods walk with the cats.

On Friday we harnessed up the cats and headed out the gate and on up the usual route. But both seemed somewhat reluctant. Sometimes the older one, Cat #1, will be but the younger one, Cat #2, is usually quite keen. By the time we got to our usual little loop both were acting nervous. Cat #1 stopped at the crossroads which is where I left hubby and her. I went on ahead with the Cat #2 who NEEDS the exercise. Well, we need him to get the exercise so he'll nap for a few hours instead of yowling at the door.

Anywho, I was going to take the loop back around and meet hubby and Cat #1 in the usual place a little further up the path from where I left them. But clearly the cats' could smell something. Even Cat #2 started acting nervous and stopped moving forward. At this point it was just quicker to keep going round the loop but to keep moving I actually had to pick him up and carry him part of the way. When I did put him down he went shooting forward at such a clip I actually had to run to keep up!

Hubby and Cat #1 didn't make it to the meet up spot but I could hear him calling. I met them back at where I'd originally left them because Cat #1 had refused to budge. Soon after I left them there my hubby told me something started moving fast through the undergrowth. It was moving away from them but towards where I was with Cat #2. Which explains why I had to pick up my little buddy and carry him. And indeed I could smell something a bit ripe on the air.

We hightailed it back to our place with the cats pulling us the whole way!

Could have been a fox...



So, today is candy prep and a bit more decorating round the front door. If the weather holds, might add some cobwebs to the cemetery out front.

Mat Night & Spooky Viewing

Because I'm originally from Quebec I still refer to the night before Halloween as Mat Night. And well do I remember how excited some kids, particularly boys, got on this day. In the schoolyard, at recess and lunch time, there were many whispered consultations as plans and plots were hatched for the evening's mischief; egging cars, TP-ing trees, or placing poo in brown paper bags on people's doorsteps and then blowing the bag up with fire crackers, ugh!

I never participated myself. No, really. But I was always excited and full of anticipation on this night. Kind of like Christmas Eve...but spoooooky!

As an adult I still find Mat Night particularly exciting. It's got all the quality of Halloween night going for it but I don't have to hand out candy. So I can do whatever I want by way of soaking up the atmosphere.

On this Mat Night I plan on the following. If the weather is good, we'll go for a walk in our back woods around sunset. Then we'll be in the kitchen carving pumpkins and roasting seeds. And then, candles lit, spooky lights on, we'll be settling on the couch to watch three special X-files episodes.

I mentioned before that we've been re-watching the X-files. Well, through our re-viewing we have watched every single episode...except for three. I skipped these because I consider them among the scariest and, naturally, wanted to save them for tonight. (I have another favourite classic scary and ghostly X-files episode, but I save that one for Christmas.)

So tonight's viewing will include first, a double header. "Squeeze" (Season 1, episode 3) and "Tooms" (Season 1, episode 21)



And then the classic 'Home' (Season 4, episode 2). Many agree this is one of the top 5 episodes of the series. And it features Newfoundland actor, Sebastian Spence!



Will I survive the night?


Sunday, 29 October 2017

X-files fun

I think I've mentioned before that my husband and I are re-watching the X-files on Netflix. We are in Season 5 right now, which is where I find things start to get somewhat bogged down. However, among the episodes we've watched up to this point are a few that I think are fine Halloween viewing.

If you are looking for something typically Halloween-y then Chinga or The Calusari might interest you.





If you are looking for something a bit more blood filled try Die Hand Die Verletz.



But if you are looking for something a little lighter try The Modern Prometheus (a re-telling of Frankenstein).



I am saving 3 of the scariest episodes for tomorrow night....

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Safety First

Working at Spirit Halloween has given me some insight into parents who buy costumes. First of all you should know there are more adults than children trying on costumes. Second, of the kids that do try them on there seems to be a choice between a costume for indoors or one for outdoors. Costumes for outdoors, trick-or-treating, need to be a larger size so that long underwear and sweaters can be worn underneath. Costumes for indoors, a Halloween party often at school, need to fit...well, at least mostly fit. Listen to Gerry Seinfeld's Halloween clip for more on the fun of kids, costumes and Halloween; it's a classic!

So, as for masks, well, some costumes at the store come with them so I wouldn't know whether or not they get worn. But I can tell you that the majority of our masks are for adults. The mask section of the store, while popular, doesn't need to be restocked as often. Why? Well, sure, the masks are fun to wear around the store but it's not long before we find them abandoned on the floor. Yep, every day I have to put back the wolf mask...or the alien...or the Beast...or that minion nemesis guy in Despicable Me. And then there are those crazy clowns!

"No, sorry, we do NOT have the clown from IT."

Thanks to the Internet Archive for this little safety video!

Friday, 27 October 2017

Today's News - October 27, 2017

Another double post as I realize that there are two Halloween related deadlines today.

1. October 27 is for the Gorey Envelope Contest deadline. Sad to say I again failed to complete and enter a submission (best intentions, eh?).

2. Today is National Black Cat Day (in the UK at least). Click here for more info on the plight of black cats from Simon's Cat.

3. Today is also the day Netflix releases SEASON 2 OF STRANGER THINGS!!!

4. And I wanted to let you know that I've decided on my costume for greeting the trick-or-treaters. Instead of being the tarot card reader or spooky Victorian lady I've decided on something....else.

The mask is for later in the evening...
when the teens come out ;)


Wilkie Collins

Back to the topic of books and stories...

I can't remember when I first came across Wilkie Collins; another author considered to be the founder of the detective / mystery genre. I'm not even sure how old I was when I read The Moonstone. Maybe I came across it amongst my father's old books? Or the old books that used to kick around the summer camp I went to?

It's also possible I read a short story by Collins in one of those horror anthologies and then went searching at the library for more. I used to read so voraciously...

...and I see that, yes indeed, a story by Collins did appear in the 4th Fontana anthology. Just have a look through its contents, or any of the others (here and here) to see how many you may have read. And while it's true, I have NOT got round to re-reading anything but the Introduction from the 8th edition of Fontana Book of Ghost Stories, it's also true that winter is long and dark here. We had snowflakes just the other morning! So, there will be plenty of time to snuggle up with it.

Now, I recall preferring The Moonstone to Wilkie's other novel, The Woman in White. The former is more exciting involving a legend and a mysterious gem from India. Ah, India; that place where the very creepy monkey's paw (W.W. Jacobs, 1902) came from. Of course!

In Wilkie's story...

Colonel Herncastle, an unpleasant former soldier, brings the Moonstone back with him from India where he acquired it by theft and murder during the Siege of Seringapatam. Angry at his family, who shun him, he leaves it in his will as a birthday gift to his niece Rachel, thus exposing her to attack by the stone's hereditary guardians, who, legend says, will stop at nothing to retrieve it... - Source

And in The Monkey's Paw...(which I know I read in one of those anthologies!)

The short story involves Mr. and Mrs. White and their adult son, Herbert. Sergeant-Major Morris, a friend who served with the British Army in India, introduces them to a mummified monkey's paw. An old fakir placed a spell on the paw, that it would grant three wishes. The wishes are granted but always with hellish consequences as punishment for tampering with fate. Morris, having had a horrific experience using the paw, throws the monkey's paw into the fire but Mr. White retrieves it. Before leaving, Morris warns Mr. White that if he does use the paw, then it will be on his own head. - Source

Of course, the UK's connection to India is long and...eventful. Like many other colonizing forces throughout history, an unfamiliar society and its cultural practices can become both a source of intrigue and fear for the colonizer. Maybe that's why India features so frequently in 19th C British literature. Especially when there is something mysterious or supernatural that is integral to the plot.

The 100 best novels: No 19 – The Moonstone

Christopher Lee reads The Monkey's Paw

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Long Meg and her daughters

You know I love me a stone circle! Another deleted post from the before times focused on an all too brief visit I made to Avebury back in 2010. Ever since watching Children of the Stones back in the 70s, I've been fascinated with the megalithic features and sites in Europe's landscape. Click here to watch a recent episode of Walking Through History featuring Stonehenge.

If I can dig out my Avebury, Stonehenge, and Newgrange photos I will repost. In the meantime, here's a stone circle I did not get to. One associated with a witch.

The most famous of the many legends that surround the stones is that they were once a coven of witches who were turned to stone by a wizard from Scotland named Michael Scot. It is said the stones cannot be counted - but, if anyone is able to count them twice and come to the same total - the spell will be broken or it will bring very bad luck. Another legend states that if you walk round the circles and count the number of stones correctly, then put your ear to Long Meg, you will hear her whisper. The name itself is said to come from a local witch, Meg of Meldon, who was alive in the early 17th century.[18] From a certain angle, the Long Meg stone resembles the profile of a witch. Long animal bones found buried at the site may have been misinterpreted in the past as a 'Giant's bone and body'. - Source

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Explore at your peril

Who doesn't like a good ghost town? The first and, admittedly, only ghost town I visited was in southern Alberta. I have to also admit to being incredibly disappointed. Just a few deserted timber buildings surrounding a failed mine. Not even that old really. What was I expecting? Something spooky, I guess. I was with a family member who was not interested in exploring inside the buildings, for which my younger self was secretly OK with. So maybe it was a bit spooky.

If you've ever read, seen, or played Stalker you might find this particular place spooky. I'm sure it is in the depths of the loooong arctic night.

 

But I'll share something else with you (discovered last year) that I have found incredibly eerie. Those videos posted on Youtube by explorer types who use Google Earth to spot things in the middle of seemingly nowhere and then go investigate. There's also the more urban/rural explorers like these guys in the UK who recently explored an abandoned mansion supposedly owned by Pink Floyd.

Chilling and thrilling.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

More books

These are from my husband's collection. But he is getting rid of them! His Dad gave them to him when he was a kid but he didn't really get into the whole boy mystery thing. Whereas I definitely went through a Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys phase when I was young. So, I'm going to hang on to them...for now.

Read and listen more re: the Hardy Boys (there's a drinking game apparently) & Nancy Drew.

- The Hardy Boys Drinkbook podcast
Noir Factory Podcast #24 – The Hardy Boys & Nancy Drew
9 Things a Grown Man Can Learn From the Hardy Boys (all are very applicable to women too!)





Monday, 23 October 2017

Sunday, 22 October 2017

In Search of...

...Frankenstein!

We finally have almost everything we own under the same roof. And that includes ALL the books we've had in storage here and there.  I tend to give my books away whereas my husband does not. So the bulk of the boxes we've been unpacking are my husband's (he is a teacher as well as a bibliophile).

I did find a few books of mine I'd forgotten about. Including In Search of Frankenstein by Radu Florescu. I used to have In Search of Dracula too, but I think I gave that to someone. Florescu was the first guy to link Bram Stoker's vampire with Vlad the Impaler, by the way.

In case you are interested here are a couple of links to articles about Florescu after he died in 2014.

Radu Florescu, Scholar Who Linked Dracula and Vlad the Impaler, Dies at 88 - NYTimes
Radu Florescu - obituary - The Telegraph

I get the sense that after In Search of Dracula the Frankenstein book was disappointing for some as it looks more at the influences on Mary Shelley as the writer of the story rather than searching for a real Dr. Frankenstein or reanimated patchwork corpse (although there's a bit of that too).

Mary Shelley would have been exposed to much of the era's budding scientific research and breakthroughs through her father and philosopher / publisher, William Godwin (explore Shelley's Ghost a virtual exhibit about Mary and William's relationship). There was also the inspiration and influence of the gloomy and rainy Swiss vacation in 1816 when Byron, Shelley, et al entertained themselves with ghost stories at Villa Diodati.

For more on that 'holiday' you can read the fictional re-imagining in Haunted Summer by Anne Edwards. Or try watching the more dramatic movie versions in Gothic (1986) or Haunted Summer (1988). Gothic is the somewhat campier version but features the mesmerising Gabriel Byrne as Byron. Worth seeking out for his performance alone.





Saturday, 21 October 2017

Apple cider

My husband is a fan of apple cider. One his favourites is the Nova Scotia brew, No Boats on Sunday. I'm not a huge fan of cider but even I like this very crisp and apple-y beverage (review here). Also love the label (see below).

Now, if you are looking for a good scare with apples at its core (forgive me) then you might want to watch the video below. It's the first episode of Midwinter of the Spirit, which I posted about a couple of years ago. It's based on Phil Rickman's book Wine of Angels; a mystery series with Reverend Merrily Watkins as the protagonist/detective/exorcist.

This story features a creepy old man, a spooky old apple orchard, and ciiiiideeeerrrrr (reference to the audio book).

The Guardian Review here


Crossed oars will keep the demons at bay! Source

Friday, 20 October 2017

Seasonal Beer

I'd forgotten that most of my booze related posts were in the before times. Before I deleted the blog and then started it up again. Fickle? Maybe. Either way it means the year of Hobgoblin is gone! Also the year of Mr. Dan Ackroyd's Crystal Head vodka (still have the bottles). So, here we go.

Now, I'm a beer person. I started out as a beer person then switched to wine. Later I moved on to single malt or vodka and the occasional splash of tequila here and there. In the last decade I've landed solidly and honestly back on the side of hops. At this point in my metabolic life, I'm better off with a pint or half.

So, with a bit more effort than last week I went out and scored some seasonal brews. Wychwood Brewery's offerings are usually top of the list. Happy to say I scored some HobgoblinDunkel Fester, ScarecrowGinger Beard and, of course, Black Wych (isn't this t-shirt cool!).

I also picked up the Belgian Moon (USA) cause the label seemed seasonal and, well, pretty. I drank it the other night and would definitely get it again. A bit hopsy but with a nice hint of citrus. Haven't tried the St. Ambroise Pumpkin Ale (QC, Canada) so looking forward to that!




Thursday, 19 October 2017

Spiders

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

RIP - Gord Downie



Obit - Macleans

Mirkwood

One of my two favourite chapters in The Hobbit is Flies and Spiders; the Mirkwood chapter. Nothing in any movie version has ever come close to my childhood imaginings of that dreaded, forbiding, dark, spooky place. I still find being alone in 'the woods' somewhat creepy. And thanks to Stranger Things, that has not changed.

So imagine my genuine delight when we bought this house and built a gate in our back fence to access the greenbelt behind it.  It's where we routinely walk our cats. There are trails in there for moose (yep, we've seen tracks), dogs, walkers, and mountain bikes, as well as ATVs (grrrrr !). There are also areas off the trails where the trees are so close together, well, very little could get through. We refer to those sections as Mirkwood. (You may recall my incredibly long winded post about people disappearing in the woods?)





Yeah, I bought this

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

MMMMuffins!

Made some muffins with the sugar pumpkin mush. I've made these 7 grain pumpkin chocolate muffins before and will again! After these cooled I was greedy and ate two. With my pumpkin tea. In my skeleton hand mug.

I didn't have much breakfast...really. The pumpkin pancakes have not happened.



Monday, 16 October 2017

Witchy-poo and drinky-poo

The witch was made by my mother-in-law. The Kahlua, well, what can I say? There's a dearth of Hobgoblin beer in this town. Argh!



Sunday, 15 October 2017

Hectic Times

I feel the need to do another double post to make up for the month's slow start.

So, remember I posted that things were getting hectic? Well, it's true. As well as still doing projects around our new home I've been working part-time. Where you ask?

Spirit Halloween, of course. Truly!

That has certainly helped whip up the old ectoplasm. And it's fun but talk about busy! I have today off. For which my feet and exhausted body are so very grateful.





Burning Witches Records

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Trying new things

We went to Lester's again a few days ago. Had to make sure we had our pumpkins for carving on Mat Night. We also bought some veggies AND my first sugar pumpkin. Yep, I cooked it the other day and now have a load of pumpkin mush to make things with. I also did the seeds; of course. But I did something different this time.

Waaaaaay back in my childhood I started baking the seeds with salt. I thought I was the only person who did this and that it was an original idea. That's youth for ya! Anywho, over the years I continued to bake them with salt. I did branch out on occasion and use cumin and curry. One year I made them so spicy it was a bit of a challenge eating them!

The other day while I was out purchasing something we didn't really need I chatted with the clerk about pumpkins and seeds. She told me she always bakes hers with cinnamon! Really? So, I tried it. Melted some butter, and mixed it up with local honey, some very good cinnamon and then coated the seeds and baked them. Slowly at 170 °F and then, because I got impatient, I upped the temp to 300 °F for the last 5 to 10 mins. They turned out real tasty!!!

So, I think I will try something else new. This weekend I will try making Pumpkin Chocolate pancakes. Yum...I hope.





Friday, 13 October 2017

Bad and Good Luck in Newfoundland

Umm, I feel that maybe I need to do a double post today. I did miss a few at the month's start so, yeah, that's it. Has nothing to do with being superstitious...nope.

Bad Luck
- coiling a rope against the sun
- buying a broom in May
- red-haired women (sigh...)
- black cats
- solitary crows (one for sorrow)
- whistling while floating on water

Death
- augured by banshees and broken clocks striking the hour
- heralded by a glaring cat that looks you in the eye (I guess my cat's are out to get me!)

Taboos 
- stepping over a child

And beware the terrible power of a widow's curse; ; little carts drawn by horses at a brisk pace; and trapped dead hares on sale in the streets.

Good Luck
 - horseshoes (often still found in the walls of older houses)
 - two black crows (two for joy)
 - clothes inside out (remember my post about fooling the fairies with bread in your pocket, well wearing clothes inside out is supposed to confuse anything wishing you ill)
 - finding a pin or a white button
 - a rooster sounding off on your doorstep
 - bees blundering into the room

Excerpt from My Newfoundland: The Sensations of Landing on the Island Long Ago Haunted a Writer's Final Memories by Paul Noden West (1930 - 2015). Newfoundland Quarterly;Volume 109, Number 4, 2017


Hygge

Friday the 13th. Well, I could post something about bad luck, black cats, walking under a ladder, or that movie but instead I've gone another way. Today it's all about 'hygge.'

If you haven't heard the term before then check this out here. Basically, it's Danish for a somewhat indefinable variation on our term 'cozy' but tinged with lots of nostalgia for 'simpler' days. I gotta say my only trip to Copenhagen was full of hygge. There was that amazing restaurant where the only lighting in the entire place was candles. And, oh the old jazz they played! There was the canal boat/bar we stopped in for a warming tipple. And then there were all those outdoor vendors and Xmas markets (sorry, I have to mention the time of year) and versions of glogg (a kind of mulled wine) on offer everywhere. I felt like I was in some version of heaven. But no, it was just Danish hygge.

Regardless of the politics behind the term (for that you can read this here) I feel the snap I took at Lester's a few weeks ago captures it. Certainly the feeling I got on that chilly, overcast day when I walked in from Lester's fields and saw that fire, felt it's warmth, and found myself smiling uncontrollably at the other people in the check out line...well, MUST be hygge!

And those two pumpkins just make it, don't they? Sigh...


Thursday, 12 October 2017

Harvest Time

Have been to Lester's Farm a few times over the last few weeks (am incredibly impressed with how much longer the produce I buy from them lasts in the fridge). Pumpkin Festival time approaches. It's this Saturday in fact! Nice to see they have been busy getting things prepared. The fun area has been open in the afternoons for the last 2 weeks. I notice the organization they are doing this year looks to alleviate some of the crush of last year. Can't wait!








Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The Changeling

Life has been hectic...more on that later -- so I've found myself woefully behind in my posts. Also in the Halloween spirit. So to try and get the old ectoplasm flowing I decided last week to watch The Changeling. I was going to save it for Mat Night but I was particularly tired this day and needed some couch time. Besides there will be other things going on Mat Night to keep us busy.

So, I first came to know about this film because an old boyfriend loved it and thought that, other than The Wicker Man (1973), it was one of the scarier movies he'd seen. Now maybe he'd described enough of the plot to me that I ended up thinking I'd seen it. I was familiar with the bouncing ball scene and I remember there'd been a tragedy and a subsequent move by George C Scott's character but after that everything else was like watching something I hadn't seen before! And that was great because this is a really good spooky vengeful ghost story; similar to What Lies Beneath (2000) or Lady in White (1988). Definitely worth a look if you haven't seen it.


Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Spooky Listening

"Rawhead & Bloodybones" deftly spins together sampled Appalachian folk tales and field recordings with newly composed music. The album focuses on folk tales mostly told by children and recorded in the 1940s. The tales are humorous, gruesome, and full of meaning and character. They are weaved together with archival samples and newly composed instrumental parts. The combination of the youthful voices and often-grisly tales offer a strikingly beautiful contrast. - Source