The pond is a muse that saved my sanity.

This week’s WordPress photo challenge theme is “muse”.  To me, a muse is anything that inspires me to do or to feel or to be.

For the purposes of this postaweek, I decided to gather up some photographs of the pond behind our apartment building. These shots are each taken from basically the same vantage point, our balcony.

Our windows all face this pond, so it’s the first thing I see every morning when I wake up, it is present in my life as I go about my day, and its reflective surface often lulls me to sleep. Seeing it there, with all its changing moods, often inspires me to take a photo.

This, then, is a “do” muse … but it’s more than that.

HOW THE POND SAVED MY SANITY

The pond is also a “be” muse. It has helped me to be content as I adjusted to an entirely new lifestyle.

When my husband lost his job, at the tail end of the The Great Recession, we were forced to move from our little farm in the country to an apartment in a first-ring suburb of St. Paul. It was a terrible time, even though the decision was right for our family. I was particularly devastated by the thought of losing my daily interactions with the wildlife that regularly visited our property.

(Sometimes, those interactions were inside our house! We were victim to an annual invasion of mice in the fall, for example. At least field mice are cuter than regular house mice.)

We chose the building where we now live based on its affordability, its location, and its pet policy. (Our dog is 50+ pounds.) I’m sure we would have taken one of the units on the other side of the building (the side that overlooks the parking lot and a major freeway) but the only two-bedrooms available at the time were on the pond side.

Moving to this particular apartment was a practical choice, but it was also incredibly lucky.

When we were preparing to leave the house, it never occurred to me that there was a place, such as our current apartment, where I could learn to love all the perks of city life, while still having access to nature every day.

(And I don’t miss the mouse roommates at all.)

THE POND ITSELF

Our pond is shallow. It rises and falls from one year to the next, depending on weather. It’s a habitat for all sorts of critters. At first I thought it would host just waterfowl and mosquitoes, but a few days of observation revealed an intricate, well-populated ecosystem.

I saw muskrats, raccoon, turtles — even an occasional jumping fish. The waterfowl was so much more than I expected. Sure, there were “just” Canada geese and mallards, but there were also wood ducks, teals, egrets, bald eagles, and a great blue heron.

The first time I looked out at the far shore and saw a deer, I cried with gratitude. Later, when I saw a red fox playing along the bank, I laughed. Back on the farm, I would have had to worry about my chickens. Here, in the city, I can just enjoy the sight.

By the way, I honestly don’t have any still photos of the pond in the winter. (Most of you know how I feel about that horrible season.) I did find a short video, though:

MUSE

This theme is fascinating to me, and I’d like to do at least a couple of different versions. It would be fun to create galleries that capture some of the muses that inspire me to write. I’d do at least one comprised of haunting images and another of bookish things.

But.

My art is really writing, not photography, so — for the moment — I’d better get back to my book project. I need another thousand words before I sleep.

I'm part of Post A Week 2015

Click here to visit the Post a Week home.

Here are some of my favorite entries for the Muse prompt  from others:

(I’m still adding as I have time to browse the entries, so feel free to check back.)

Black Hills of South Dakota | The SunJakarta cityscape (esp. the storm shot) | It’s my Park! | Graves | As long as you keep that fire alive… | Weird is Beautiful | Emily, a guiding genius | many moods of a cute dog | buskers | looking up | a perfect shot of beach, sea and sky |


This Week in Macabre & Mysterious Media: June 28 – July 5

~YOUR MUSICAL INTERLUDE~

Johnny Cash & Joni Mitchell – The Long Black Veil

My most heartfelt recommendation this week:

insideoutenglish

~THE MOVIES~

NEW ON NETFLIX & IN REDBOX:

A few favorites are LEAVING Netflix streaming soon, so catch them while you can:

Stephen King’s The Stand (1994) TV mini-series

Leaving Netflix streaming on July 1st.
This is a great (Gary Sinese) and terrible (Molly Ringwald) adaptation. I’ll recommend it, but I admit it’s mostly about nostalgia, and love for the book.
On IMDb here.

Also leaving, The Langoliers.

Natural Born Killers (1994) Director’s Cut NR

Leaving Netflix streaming on July 1st.
What a cast: Juliette Lewis, Woody Harrelson, Robert Downey Jr., Tommy Lee Jones. Written by Quentin Tarantino. A brutal movie, but a great one. (I have not seen the director’s cut, which is most likely MORE bloody and brutal than the theatrical release — though I’m hard pressed to imagine how.)
On IMDb here.

The Manchurian Candidate (2004) R

Leaving Netflix streaming on July 1st.
Another great cast: Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber, Meryl Streep.
On IMDb here.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) PG

Leaving Netflix streaming on July 1st.
I missed this completely when it came out, then forgot all about it. Is it worth a watch?
On IMDb here.

Mission Impossible – seasons 1-7 (1966-1973)

Leaving Netflix streaming on July 1st.
Well damn. I wish I’d realized this was available to me before it was too late to make any real headway.
On IMDb here.

Knight Rider – seasons 1-4 (1982 – 1986)

Leaving Netflix streaming on July 1st.
And the same goes for this one.
On IMDb here.

Clearly, I need to do some research into what’s already out there, when it comes to great old TV shows. (I sense a special edition of M&M Media in the near future.) And now for the recent releases:

Underworld (2003) R AND Underworld: Evolution (2006) R 

Underworld: Evolution becomes available on streaming on July 1st. Underworld is already there.
This is a great opportunity to see the first and second installments of the Underworld series. If I remember right, Underworld is a fun adventure movie–not great art, not great horror, but a fine way to spend a couple of hours. I’ll rewatch and, if I still like it, I’ll give the sequel a go.
On IMDb here.

Ascension (2014) TV mini-series

Available on Netflix now.
This was a three-night mini-series on SyFy, in December. I’m a sucker for a good period piece and the reviews look promising.
On IMDb here.

The Secret of Roan Inish (1994) PG

Coming to Netflix on July 1st.
I can’t find a decent trailer, which does not bode well. Still, I think I liked this when it came out. I’m not going to give it a color rating yet, because I don’t really remember it. If I give it a go, I’ll come back to update my opinion.
On IMDb here.

This week, Redbox will be getting in a couple of things worth mentioning too:

Maggie (2015) R

(Click here for original listing w/ trailer.)
Available in Redbox on July 7th, but you can add it to your wishlist now.
It came and went so fast that I didn’t get a chance to see it in the theater. Now I’ve got it pre-reserved at Redbox. ‘Still looking forward to it.

The Houses October Built (2014) R

Already  available on Netflix streaming.
Coming to Redbox on June 30th.
Saw it. Eh. I liked the first third best, and the ending felt rushed. Neither as suspenseful (which would have been good) nor as gory (which would have been bad) as it could have been. Also, this is one of those movies where you end up thinking they are all idiots, who could have walked away at any time. I’ll add it as an alternate to the Halloween movie list, because it’s not horrible and it does capture something about Halloween. I will say that it made me realize I’m awfully trusting (too trusting?) when it comes to haunted attractions.
On IMDb here.

 

IN THEATERS:

Terminator Genisys (2015) PG-13

In general release on Tuesday, June 30th.
Boy, this one cries out for a drive-in screening, doesn’t it?
On IMDb here.

Max (2015) PG

In general release already.
Here’s my complete outlier for the week. We saw the preview for Max while waiting for Inside Out to start. All three of us choked up. (The 19 year old boy, the Ogre and me.) Way to hit me in multiple tender spots, movie-maker-people. As soon as we all have a day off again, we’re going to see it. I will bring a purse full of Kleenex. Can someone reassure me that the dog doesn’t die? Please?
On IMDb here.

Speaking of movies that hit me right in the heart:

GO SEE INSIDE OUT! 

If you can, go when the theater has a mixed audience of adults (male & female) and kids. For more thoughts about this movie, visit its updated listing here.

~ON TV~

Humans | AMC | Sundays | 9/8c | June 28th

This show premiered on SUNDAY the 28th. If you can’t On Demand it, you can watch it at AMC.
From IMDb:
“In a parallel present where the latest must-have gadget for any busy family is a ‘Synth’ – a highly-developed robotic servant that’s so similar to a real human it’s transforming the way we live.”

I’m especially vulnerable to emotions inspired by the ethical problems inherent in A.I. (The movie did a number on me.) I just saw Ex Machina, though, and I liked that. Perhaps I’m too sensitive about the topic when it involves a child robot. I’ll absolutely give Humans a shot. I think shows like this can be a good way to get people thinking about, and talking about, the potential consequences of bringing artificial intelligence into the world.

Zoo | CBS | Tuesdays | 9/8c | June 30th

From IMDb:
“A young scientist searches to find out what’s causing a rash of violent animal attacks.”

From James Patterson. Hmm. Not sure about this. I hate seeing animals killed, even in fiction. I’ll probably give it a go, but I’m skeptical.

~***~

Recent Macabre & Mysterious Media links here.

The color of the title is keyed as follows:
Black = Have not yet experienced. I’m interested … or I think you’ll be interested.
Red = Have experienced. Not recommended. Worse than the reviews or buzz indicated.
Orange = Have experienced. Recommended, with reservations or cautions.
Green = Have experienced. Recommended. Good (or great) work that lives up to its potential.

A Roy G. Biv gallery, by the book.

The photo prompt for this week’s challenge became available last Friday. I wasn’t sure I’d participate because I was feeling under the weather.

But then: serendipity. On Sunday, Ogre and I stopped at the library to pick up a book he’d reserved. I decided I wanted to just browse the psychology section. I wasn’t thinking about the challenge at all when this book title popped out at me:

Sometimes the universe makes my life so easy.

All I had to do was go through my photographs to find the ones that most closely approximate the shades of Roy G. Biv — as illustrated by the book. (Yet I’m still posting it on the last possible day. Sheesh. It was a rough week.)

I'm part of Post A Week 2015

Click here to visit the Post a Week home.

Here are some of my favorite entries for the Roy G. Biv prompt  from others:

(I’m still adding as I find them, so feel free to check back.)

A Rainbow in Winter | Light as a Feather | wife at the end of the rainbow | Street Art [Rendition] | a setting sun in Scotland | wet tarmac | Peggy Lee sings a rainbow (must listen to song)Roy G Biv and his shy twin Vib G Yor | in black and white | a lovely misty spectrum | a crisp spectrum (love the oranges) | rainbow jello (and hair) | shop front | including fire & ice | just the ice, as prisms | in one shot, at Epcot | round rainbow through the trees (gorgeous) | hand-painted silk scarf | ghosting orb | inspiration for a rainbow of (unprintable) words | an ode to indigo |


Photographing memories, off-season and on.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you probably already know that I’ve been taking more photographs lately. (It’s easy to take a lot of pictures in the good seasons–any season except winter that is–because I actually go out and about instead of huddling like a post-apocalyptic survivor in my home.)

My new (nearly) daily practice makes me more aware of my surroundings and it entertains my muse. Some of the shots are artistic, some are just personally meaningful, but they all capture something about my life that I’d like to remember.

Today I started a Flickr album just for those pictures, because I realized they will get buried in my social media feeds and eventually disappear. I might do something with them here at the blog too, but for now–if you want to see them all in one place–feel free to pop over to my hauntingphotoaday album at Flickr.

I’ve been getting so much satisfaction from this practice that I’ve decided to plunge in just a little bit deeper, by starting to participate in the WordPress sponsored photo a week challenge, which you can read about here:

I'm part of Post A Week 2015

Click the badge to go to the homepage.

“Off-Season” is this week’s photo prompt, which gives me a fine opportunity to embarrass myself. I would have liked to start off with something more like actual photography than the following very-snapshot-y pics, but you get what you get when you’re responding to a prompt.

When I was organizing photos last week, I came across one, taken back in April, in which I am giving the photographer (probably Ogre) The Look. It’s not one of my favorite photos of me, but it nails that particular expression we are all guilty of. It amused me, so I put it up on my personal Facebook page. Here it is:

The Look

Within seconds, I got this comment from a woman I went to high school with: “Is it still Christmas at your house?”

That’s when I saw, for the first time in months, that gold garland hanging on the wall. Oops.

Regular readers know that I’m not a fan of holidays (other than Halloween) and that our family doesn’t do much in the way of decorating for Christmas. This last Christmas, though, I got caught up in the holiday spirit and spent a whole day lining the ceiling in our living room with multi-colored “firefly” blinky lights and garland.

We fell in love with the way the lights reflected off the ceiling and made the room glow when all the lamps were turned off. After Christmas, we still wanted and needed the cheerful lights to get through the winter. So we left them up. When spring came, we discovered we STILL liked the way they looked at night, when we were curled up watching TV or working on our individual projects.

Now it’s summer, and they are still up.

off season

Last night, we noticed that one of the strings is dying. In the next couple of days, I will take them down, because there’s little more depressing than a half-dead string of twinkle lights. If they were still burning brightly, though, I wouldn’t touch them.

So how’s that for off-season?

Edit: I’m doing the neighborly thing and taking a peek at other participant’s responses. Here are some of my favorites:

Off course | And in walks …(An artistic) Christmas Lights in June | Doormats | California Polar Bear Plunge | Off-Season DQ | East Harlem | Long Beach Island in September (These remind me of NC.) | Last of the summer blooms | Chicken Season | Frost Rose | “A rose garden is a still, expectant place in England in late May.” | Lonely Sailor | Germany’s North CoastCougar feasting on carcass (reminds me of working at the wolf center) | TomatoesSummer Cabins, Closed for Winter | South England | Rain Gauge in the Sierra Nevada Foothills |

And the challenge led me to a blog that features “Life & Death in a Small Town (including cemetery photos.)


This Week in Macabre & Mysterious Media: June 15 – 21, 2015.

~YOUR MUSICAL INTERLUDE~

Ella Henderson – Ghost

This week, I think I’m most interested to give this a go:

insideoutenglish

~THE MOVIES~

NEW ON NETFLIX & IN REDBOX:

Before I Go to Sleep (2014) R

Available on Netflix streaming here.
Colin Firth & Nicole Kidman.
“After surviving a brutal assault, a woman awakens each morning incapable of remembering anything about her past, including the previous day.”
I don’t think this is a new listing, but I just noticed it and I do want to see it.
On IMDb here.

Practical Magic (1998) PG-13

Available on Netflix streaming here.
This one is LEAVING the Netflix streaming line-up on June 20. I don’t have to catch it before it goes, because I own a copy. If you don’t, and if you’re in the mood for a chick-flick or have some nostalgia for the movie, watch it this week before it’s gone. 
On IMDb here.

IN THEATERS:

Inside Out (2015) PG

Opens in general release Friday, June 19th.
On IMDb here.

I don’t get excited about a lot of animated films but this one has been on my anticipation list for months. Just watching the trailer makes me smile. Also, there’s a personal little prize for me because the family is apparently moving from Minnesota to California. (I know it’s not remotely macabre or mysterious, but sometimes I’m just a big child.)

UPDATE Here’s your Oscar winner for animated film, 2015. Go. See. This. Movie.

On Father’s Day, my Ogre and I went, with our 19 year old son, to see Inside Out. The theater was more than half full. There was a little girl sitting behind us. It was a perfect movie-going experience. If you can find a similar crowd, do listen to who is laughing at any given time. This really is a family movie with stuff for everyone. By the way, I don’t think you have to be a parent to appreciate it. Though I did think about raising my kids while watching, I was also thinking about what it was like to grow up. Even now, as I think about the way they expressed how memories and emotions work together, I am tearing up. If you have ever struggled with depression or melancholy, there’s something very important here for you.

I’d better back up here a little. This is NOT a sad movie, overall; in fact it’s lovely. But I suspect you will cry.

Inside Out is everything the critics are saying about it. We are seriously thinking about going to see it again, while it’s still in theaters. We suspect we missed a lot of the fine detail that Pixar is famous for. I’ll end with a quote from our son, who said after the movie, “During [that one part] I was holding my breath, because — in a theater full of children — I didn’t want to be the first to sob out loud.”

~ON TV~

Proof | TNT | Tuesdays | 10/9c | Series premiere June 16th.

From the homepage:
“Jennifer Beals plays Dr. Carolyn Tyler, who has suffered the recent, devastating loss of her teenage son, the breakup of her marriage and a growing estrangement from her daughter. Carolyn is persuaded by Ivan Turing (Modine), a cancer-stricken tech inventor and billionaire to investigate cases of reincarnation, near-death experiences, hauntings and other phenomena, all of it in the search for evidence that death is not the end.”

I haven’t watched anything from TNT for a while, but this one SOUNDS like it’s right up my paranormal alley. It’s not high on my list, but I may give it a go. (It’s good to see Jennifer Beals working.)

~***~

Recent Macabre & Mysterious Media links here.

The color of the title is keyed as follows:
Black = Have not yet experienced. I’m interested … or I think you’ll be interested.
Red = Have experienced. Not recommended. Worse than the reviews or buzz indicated.
Orange = Have experienced. Recommended, with reservations or cautions.
Green = Have experienced. Recommended. Good (or great) work that lives up to its potential.

This Week in Macabre & Mysterious Media: June 8 – 14, 2015

~YOUR MUSICAL INTERLUDE~

Sharp Was the River Bending by Jus Post Bellum

This week, I’m most excited about this:

movie poster jonathan strange & mr norrell

~THE MOVIES~

NEW ON NETFLIX & IN REDBOX:

Nightcrawler (2014) R

Will be available on Netflix streaming June 10th.
I’ve enthusiastically recommended this fantastic movie before, and now it’s coming to streaming. You have no excuses. :)
On IMDb here.

IN THEATERS:

Jurassic World (2015) PG-13

Opens in general release Friday, June 12th.
On IMDb here.

~ON TV~

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell – BBC TV SERIES

BBC AMERICA | Saturdays | 10/9c | Series premiere June 12th.
From the homepage:
“1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation’s past. However, scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains — the reclusive and skillful Mr Norrell (Marsan). His displays of magic soon thrill the nation. In London, he raises the beautiful Lady Pole (Englert) from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French.”

Oh, my! I didn’t know this was coming. I can’t wait. (Did you read the book?)

UPDATE: I watched the first episode and set my DVR to record the next. I am intrigued by the story. The acting and settings are both appealing. My caution comes from two things: I’m not convinced by the special effects and I have trouble following some of the dialog because of the heavy accents of some of the characters. (The street magician / prophet, for example.) This is a personal failing. I can’t decipher “street” (cockney?) English very well. 

~***~

Recent Macabre & Mysterious Media links here.

The color of the title is keyed as follows:
Black = Have not yet experienced. I’m interested … or I think you’ll be interested.
Red = Have experienced. Not recommended. Worse than the reviews or buzz indicated.
Orange = Have experienced. Recommended, with reservations or cautions.
Green = Have experienced. Recommended. Good (or great) work that lives up to its potential.

Building the Paranormal Hotel

Over the last few weeks I’ve been puttering around behind the scenes here at The Paranormalist. There are several improvements and additions coming. One of them is the Paranormal Hotel homepage. Though the project isn’t complete yet, it’s time to share what I’m doing with the Paranormal Hotel posts I’ve written over the years. I’m pretty pleased with the way it’s coming together.

Come see:

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 426 other followers