Off-topic: News on the chickens, the apartment, and other stuff.

I know it’s supposed to be Media Monday, but the truth is I haven’t had any time lately to watch an interesting paranormal-themed film for review or commentary. In these last few hours – which I blocked out for writing / blogging time – I should have been composing something spooky, but instead I’ve been writing a brief chicken-care manual, and individual bios for each of my hens, in an effort to finalize the arrangements for our girls. I received quick responses, so I now have some news about the fate of the chickens.

Our nine girls are to be split into two town-sized flocks. As I write this, two different households are busily planning and building back-yard coops. One flock of four – including Buff the Bantam, whose photo I posted here a while back – will be living with my daughter’s best friend (and her family). The other five – including the giant twins that were partially visible in that same photo – will be living with a family which includes twin daughters! (How perfect is that?)

There are other developments in this unexpected, but not entirely unwelcome, process of changing everything about our lives. You may recall we were working on re-homing a total of five cats. Three of them have been spoken for. We have found an apartment that we love and we will be moving in February. There are no new jobs for either of us yet, but we’ve crafted resumes, and the application blitz will begin this week. We’ve started sorting our ten-years-in-the-same-house possessions, and I’m surprised to find that I am enjoying simplifying and down-sizing. That’s all the news for now.

In the spirit of Media Monday, I will take this opportunity to point you to a PBS video that increased my understanding of (and mania for) chickens. It is currently available, via  instant streaming, from Netfix. (Or to purchase from PBS.)

Image of Natural History of Chickens DVD

Click here to go to PBS for an overview and ordering information.

If you have an interest in these amazing, wonderful, surprising creatures, this program is a great way to spend an hour. (Learn, for example, about Mike the Headless Chicken and a brave little silkie hen who protected her chicks from a bird of prey.)

Last day of January, WriMoProg: 13 + 71 = 84/200 How am I going to set a goal for February?


Macabre Media (Special Edition): Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922)

Title Card: Centuries have passed and the Almighty of medieval times no longer sits in his tenth sphere.
Title Card: But isn’t superstition still rampant among us?
Title Card: And the little woman, whom we call hysterical, alone and unhappy, isn’t she still a riddle for us?

Click image for IMDb’s summary, complete synopsis, interesting trivia, etc.

I spent most of this snowy day sorting all of our books in preparation for moving. This was no small task. Upon figuring out how many bookshelves will fit into the new apartment, we realized we had to ruthlessly cull our collection. Of course we want to take along as many as we can, so I needed to physically move great stacks of books from downstairs to upstairs and vice versa – just to find out which groups of books would fit best on which shelves. You see, the shelves that are currently bolted to the walls upstairs will go in the new livingroom, and the shelves that are downstairs will be in our bedrooms. Obviously then, I decided, my cookbooks (31) had to go up and my writing books (79) had to go down – to cite two examples.

Those parenthetical numbers, by the way, are just the books that survived the cull. You don’t want to know how many “groups” we have, and you certainly don’t want to know how many books are in each of those groups. As for me, I don’t want to think about how many of my beloved volumes are now in bags, waiting to go to Half-Price Books when the roads get better.

But I’m supposed to be writing about Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages, aren’t I? There is a connection: I was only able to settle in with a silent movie this evening because I was physically tired from lugging books around. Usually, I knit when I watch TV, but I have a tendency to stare at my hands rather than the screen, which makes title cards problematical. In fact, I have attempted Häxan before, but was not able to concentrate enough to really follow the story that the filmmaker, Benjamin Christensen, was trying to tell.

Tonight, I was able to stay with him. In the process, I was reminded I should set aside my handwork more often, because I do relish the experience of being transported to the early days of filmmaking. My enjoyment was enhanced, I think, by my recent viewing of the 2011 movie, Hugo – which helped me understand the art and craft that went into the films of Georges Méliès – an early and prolific film maker who basically invented special effects at the turn of the century.

Yeah, Georges Méliès is the guy that made THAT film.

Häxan – which was made twenty years later – had plenty of special effects, and I was surprised I found them effective, despite my jaded 21st-century sensibilities. The structure of the film was unusual – I’ve not seen the like before, even in other silent films. It’s a cross between a documentary and a dramatic story, presented in seven sections. One thing that struck me was the appearance of the decidedly non-glamorous actors. We are not used to seeing people who look this … real on a screen. No special effect makeup was required to make these actors look appropriate to the roles of medieval peasantry – I believe the toothless monk really was toothless. Apparently, the movie was quite shocking, in its day, due to scenes of torture and brief nudity. (These are very tame compared to today’s movies.)

The most fascinating section of this silent film comes in the seventh and final act, when the filmmaker, Benjamin Christensen, compares superstitious, middle-age practices and beliefs to those of modern times. Of course, the progressive and compassionate ideas of Christensen’s time strike the 21st-century eye as simplistic and sexist. It makes me wonder how people of the future will perceive the way we currently deal with mental illness.

Chains of recognition.

The talented, funny folks over at have included me in this Versatile Blogger Award thing that I’ve been seeing around. It was a pleasant surprise. Eyelaugh is a bright spot in my often dark (by choice) blogroll, and I always enjoy coming across one of their new comics in my reader. (Thanks for choosing The Paranormalist guys!)

When I think about the award itself, I realize that it’s all about the networking. It’s a nice way to share other blogs with one’s regular readers. With that in mind, I’ll follow the rules and offer the award to 15 folks on my list. With a couple of exceptions, I’ll try to keep my suggestions in line with my theme.

Each recipient can do as they please with the award – some folks might not have the inclination to play along, and that’s ok with me.

Before I list my nominees, I should share “The rules for the Versatile Blogger Award”:

1) Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them in a post
2) Share 7 things about you
3) Pass the award on to 15 more bloggers
4) Contact the bloggers you have chosen to let them know that they have been selected

Seven things about The Paranormalist:

  1. I already have a ‘13 things you’d hate about me‘ list on my Backstory tab.
  2. I chose to educate my son at home, independent of a school for entirely secular, academic reasons
  3. …and the term “home school” makes me choke every time I use it. (It makes me think of homespun.)
  4. My favorite flowers are freesia and wild roses.
  5. I adore seafood – well, more specifically, shellfish.
  6. I sleep, almost every night, with the TV on.
  7. I believe there are very few situations that a hot – really hot – bath can’t improve upon or make better.

Now, my nominees:

First, my Tumblr blogs(?) – I’m not sure they are blogs in the traditional sense, but I subscribe to them via my google reader. I can’t even figure out how to comment on their posts – so I don’t know how I’m going to inform them of my selection. In truth, I still haven’t really figured out what a Tumblr is supposed to be, but I love these images that come streaming at me. (Be aware – in the first two, there is occasional partial nudity in the form of Victorian images.)

Now for the at-least-slightly-paranormal-flavored blogs at WordPress and Blogger, as well as the self-hosted:

And, finally, these are distinctly not-paranormal – but I really enjoy the voice / writing / work of the authors:

That was harder than I thought it would be. I faithfully read other blogs as well, and I enjoy each for its own strengths. In the end – I guess – I chose the blogs which I think might most appeal to you – let me know if you find a new love thanks to my recommendations.

If you are one of the blogs I selected above, and you want to participate:

  1.  Download (save file as) the Versatile Blogger Award icon found above, then upload it to your blog in a post similar to this. I’ll be looking forward to your suggestions.