Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Halloween Post Inspired

There is a child in every one of us who is still a trick-or-treater looking for a brightly lit porch. - Robert Brault

Recently, my blogging friend, the Insomniac, did a blog post entitled Creatures of the Night Soiree, or an Evening With the Insomniac.
The article details her plan to host a Halloween event at a hotel local to her. Apparently, the Insomniac laments the fact that hardly any trick-or-treaters come to her doorstep now that she has moved to the Spooky Forest.

I find her post inspiring because our situations are quite similar. First of all, no one ever comes trick or treating at my cabin either. This is probably due to the facts that I live almost surrounded by cemeteries and that some local people apparently view me as somewhat of a dark figure. Just as a case in point: several weeks back, I walked into my favorite pub/restaurant and took a seat at the bar. The bartender informed me that a little girl, who comes in with her family for pizza, asked where the "witch man" was. Apparently, she likes witches and learned about them from The Wizard of Oz. Still, I suspect that the witch man perspective may keep trick-or-treaters from my place. Unlike the Insomniac however, I don't mind eating the leftover chocolate myself. I just don't do it all at once.

I must also add that the local powers that be strive to have all the trick-or treaters come to our town square after school. I understand the reasoning behind this as they want to keep the kids safe. In my mind however, there's something terribly wrong with trick-or-treating while the sun's still shinning. It's called All Hallows Eve for a reason!

Proof of our society's decline is that Halloween has become a broad daylight event for many. - Robert Kirby

Admittedly, I'm somewhat of an introvert, and I suspect that this is a personality trait that my blogging friend shares with me as well. So, I was inspired by her determination to make this Halloween meaningful and thought I'd share what makes it meaningful for me.

The other day I was asked what my plans are for All Hallows Eve. Truth be told, I have none. In the past I used to love going down to our entertainment district to watch the goings on. A decade or two ago it used to be a real freak show down there to say the least. Over the years the local university has gone on a campaign to bring thousands more students under its wing. So these days, the entertainment district is overloaded with young people and noise. The sound of live bands playing inside almost every open door now bleeds into an ungodly cacophony that spills onto the sidewalks and street. These kids don't handle their alcohol very well and bad attitudes are often present. That said, I generally avoid the area and no longer go there to observe the festivities. So, when I was asked the other day what my plans are, I replied with a simple "nothing much."

You see, I'm very traditional about Halloween. I don't feel very enthusiastic about seeing imperial storm troopers running around and with so many people dressed in super-hero costumes, all I can say is, no thank you. Give me witches, vampires, ghosts, ghouls, skeletons, black cats, and Jack O' Lanterns. Now that's Halloween. The pagan in me recognizes that Halloween is about being the time of year when the veil between the worlds is the thinnest. It's about digging up childhood memories and even more importantly, the feelings I experienced way back then.

So this time around I'll probably do what I almost always do. I'll paint my nails black, and in general, will get my goth on a bit more than usual. If the weather is cool enough I'll wear the vampire hunter cloak that the Insomniac made for me. If it's warm, I'll still be wearing a shirt that I plan on ordering next week from Black Rose
out of London. It's a spooky one though, and I know that I'm going to enjoy it. Then, I'll likely go to the pub and enjoy a couple of stouts along with some costume gazing.

There is one other thing: Every year, I put a candle inside of a Jack O' Lantern. I used to use a plastic one, but last year I actually carved a pumpkin for the first time--and I was happy with the results I'll be doing it again this year. What I absolutely love is when I get home and see old Jack with his eyes aglow and flickering on the stairs. I always pause, stand in the darkness and look at that glowing face--a pumpkin containing the fires of Hell as it stares back at me while illuminating the darkness. For me, that's the essence of Halloween and for just a few moments, I am transported back to the Halloweens of my childhood. I don't have to do anything special on that night because I've got that. It's all I need. Then, I'll unlock the door and take in an episode of Dark Shadows before turning in for the night.

Thanks for the inspiration, Insomniac!

When black cats prowl and pumpkins gleam
May luck be yours on Halloween. -author unknown

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Summer 2016

It's been a hot summer here on East Mountain and the surrounding areas, with temperatures often hovering from the low to mid 90s. For those of you of the Celsius persuasion that translates to temperatures well above 32 degrees. It's been a rainy summer though; and although that can be a good thing, it has kept the air quite humid, which only adds to the discomfort. It could be worse though; I've seen temperatures much hotter than this. Still, it's enough to turn any goth's fancy to Halloween. It's coming folks. It really is!

The season has not only provided warm temperatures, but has ushered some major changes into my life. As I mentioned in my previous post, my elderly parents arrived here in late April and my father passed from this Earth just a little over two weeks later. My sister, who lives out in the country, has taken on our mom's primary care. I generally get out there once or twice per week in order to either give Sis and my brother-in- law a much needed break, or to watch Mom while they go out and try to function. Leaving her alone is not an option even though she is recovering from her hip injury and is becoming more mobile.

I can only imagine what it's like being in my mother's position. She grew up and spent her entire life living in New England and is now living here in the American South; this, after being jettisoned from a rehabilitation center and being flown here within days. Although she doesn't quite come out and say it, I know that she has some discomforts adjusting to the local culture and life in the country. Still, she has a lot to look forward to as she recently bought a mobile home, which will soon be moved and attached to the house she's currently living in. 

It's really an attractive dwelling that comes complete with an electric fire place, kitchen, master bedroom, living room and a second-floor loft, which I'll be able to stay in from time to time in order to keep her company and give my sister a break. Mom is looking forward to this new arrangement as it will give her more privacy and a sense of being at home without compromising any of the care and surveillance she requires. 

It goes without saying that my mother's presence has changed the overall flow of my life. Yes, it partially accounts for my absence from the blogging world, but my lack of post ideas has a lot to do with it too. Oh yes, I was out one day and was suddenly struck with several ideas for blog posts, but by the time I arrived home I had forgotten what they were. Don't you just hate t when that happens? 

Some of you may recall that I left you hanging with a partial story contribution during this year's Vampire's Day Soiree, sponsored by Holly B. Strange over at Holly's Horrorland.
If you're new to this blog and would like to know more of what I'm talking about, you can find that post here.

At the time, I commented to some of my readers that the full story will be available when I publish my next book. Well, I'm getting closer to that goal as I just finished a piece called A Fall From Grace: The First Hunt, which is the third in my Fall From Grace series. The first two pieces in the series appear in my book, Tales of Dark Romance and Horror. As you can probably guess, the third entry once again features the beautifully seductive but deadly vampire, Lady Andrea, as well as a new cohort. Other stories slated for the new book include Horror in the Tunnel, from which February's cliff hanger was derived, a ghost story involving a cemetery caretaker (imagine that!), a Krampus piece and the tale of an old man trying to evade the Grim Reaper. 

I have two more stories to write and then I'll get back into the publishing phase; after which, my promise to those I left hanging will be fulfilled. I readily admit that I'm not the fastest writer in the world. I simply don't have the discipline to assign myself specific hours to sit down and write. I write when feeling inspired, and that doesn't happen every day of the week. Still, I'm looking forward to this second publication and hope to accomplish it before the passage of too much more time. For those interested, you can learn more about my book, Tales of Dark Romance and Horror by following this link.

I'm still following through on my goal of watching all the episodes of the original Dark Shadows. Last night I watched episode 447. Now I'm aware that there are literally hundreds of episodes remaining and that I may never finish them at the rate I'm going. But for me, the point isn't finishing the series as much as it is simply having it to enjoy as a nighttime treat.--and at this point, all I can say is wow! Barnabas Collins sure does have an evil streak!

The book I'm currently reading is Anne Rice's Prince Lestat. The novel is her much celebrated return to the Vampire Chronicles. Although I've always been a fan of her material, I'm a bit disappointed because this piece is moving too slow for me. I'm well over 200 pages into the novel and it seems that she's still setting up the story by introducing the characters and/or refreshing the reader on the roles they played in previous publications. Lestat himself has only made a brief appearance so far. Considering the good reviews I've read, things should pick up soon. In the meanwhile, I will persevere. 

As for other news, there isn't much. Summer nights here on East Mountain are beautiful. It is a wonderful thing to gaze into the cemetery under the full moon. The grave markers and monuments cast an eerie shadow in the moonlight while the fireflies dance above the deceased, all to the chorus of thousands or even millions of katydids. Things are peaceful here--as they should be. There is beauty in darkness.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Relicks From the Past

On Friday, April 29 my parents arrived in Northwest Arkansas--for good! On Sunday, May 15, just sixteen days after their arrival, my father passed away.

Some three years ago my sister and I made the suggestion that perhaps, our folks should consider moving here. Faced with deteriorating health. They could find a place here, we told them, could live less expensively and would have plenty of family available to come by and look in on them when needed.

Family was always important to my father, and from time to time he would reminisce about the good old days, when so many members of the extended family would come by on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yes, my dad thrived in that atmosphere. Yet, when the suggestion was made that he and my mother pull up stakes and move here, the idea was kindly rebuffed. I can only imagine that the notion of moving hundreds of miles away from friends and the location that they were bonded to was just as unthinkable for them as it would be for me today, were I faced with that choice. We respected their decision and let the matter drop.

Over the course of the next few years my mother suffered a series of falls, each seemingly worse than the one before it. Last fall she took a spill that seriously injured her elbow and shoulder, landing her in a rehabilitation center for a few weeks. I don't remember exactly when she was released from professional care, but sometime in February of this year she fell again. This time she had broken or fractured her hip, landing her first in the hospital, then back to the rehabilitation center. My sister flew up to Rhode Island to help Dad out and I arrived about a week later, having driven the distance over the course of four days. During the two weeks or so that I was up there, my parents decided that they would come down here, taking residence at my sister's place.

My dad and I didn't see eye to eye very often and it was not at all unusual for us to clash. As far as I can tell, I was a big disappointment to him for a variety of reasons that are mainly related to not following in his footsteps. Be that as it may, I'm glad that I had the opportunity to stay by him and tended to his needs as best I could during his last night here on Earth. I'm not even sure that he was aware of my presence during those last hours, but I suspect that he was, even though he slipped in and out of consciousness. Today, I take solace in knowing that, in spite of all our disagreements over the years, I did right by him in the end. He was buried with military honors Thursday in our National Cemetery.

On Tuesday or Wednesday of this week a cousin whom I hadn't seen since childhood tagged my sisters and me on Facebook with the above photo. He wanted us to guess who the people in the photo were. Scanning the picture, I was able to recognize a couple of the kids in the image. But that man on the left, I wondered, could he be my great grandfather? I had never seen a photo of my great grandfather before, and I soon learned that the man on the left is indeed him and the woman on the right is my great grandmother. In the front row next to him is my father. Also pictured is an aunt and my father's first cousins. All in all, I found the above photo absolutely amazing; and with the passing of my father so fresh in my mind, the photo filled me with a deep sense of melancholy as well as a profound feeling that I had somehow been propelled into the distant past. It brought alive those who have long passed from this world. It helped me become acquainted with ancestors I had never known; I felt connected.

My cousin, who lives about 45 miles away, brought along other photos that I found equally amazing. Also included among his relics from the past were letters and cards my mother had sent to his so many years ago. She looked through them with amazement. I was glad to see her hearkening back to the past. I understand that the world of the 21st century is quite alien to the simpler times she grew up with.

During the dark hours following the funeral it occurred to me that everything my father had wanted and desired for so long occurred on the day of his funeral and burial. Through his passing, the family and its relics from a past that he so cherished had come together in his name--and I find that quite magical!

Rest in Peace, Dad!  

World Goth Day

Sunday, May 22 is World Goth Day.
However you choose to celebrate this yearly event, which is a celebration of our subculture, the Gothic Embrace wishes all its readers a wonderful day followed by a night filled with dark dreams.