Friday Night Picture Show: Old House Dreams

Allow me to share a new hobby of mine – Old House Dreams. This is where I can look at listings for, and pictures of, beautiful, creepy, old houses that need someone special to love them. Sadly, the only way that special person will ever be me is if I manage to become rich, because I am neither handy, nor willing to learn to be handy.

I’d love to pay fine craftspeople fair wages  to bring such places back to life though.

Old House Dreams is a personal blog, not a commercial site. This is from the about page:

I’ve been fascinated with old houses since I was a teenager. I was the girl that grabbed real estate magazines off the stands, cutting out my favorites to add to my scrapbook of nonsense. As an adult I bombarded my moms inbox with houses that neither of us could ever buy but we both enjoyed looking at. In 2009 I started Old House Dreamer (later changed to Old House Dreams) to share my finds.

Each week I search every state, looking for houses that are as original as the day they were built, although some have been updated they all have the unique charm and history that only old houses can possess.

I hope this site inspires those that are thinking about buying an old house to take the plunge (it has before), or give ideas for those restoring, or the rest of us a place to day dream about what could be.

At Old House Dreams you can create a profile and save your favorite houses. I have a lot of homes in the Mid-Atlantic region saved (because a girl can dream, right?) but I also look for just-plain-interesting properties as inspirations for future story settings.

Here are just a few I discovered as I poked around tonight.

Click the pic to be whisked to the listing and more photographs, including interiors, of these beauties:

ohd WI cream brick exterior 30 years abandoned

Abandoned 30 years. Built 1864. Wisconsin.

Already salvaged and destroyed.

Already salvaged and destroyed.

stone wall

In Maryland. Has a surrounding stone wall.


PS Don’t forget to submit your pics for #HauntedPhotoAWeek in February.

New and old original shots are both appreciated.


Friday Night Picture Show



Paranormal day #17,061: dreams, dreams and more dreams.


Here at my “professional blog,” I’ve been concentrating on all the good buzz-words: creating quality content, and organizing a schedule of evergreen / pillar posts, and thinking about SEO. I’m fine with all that, and it’s been paying off in terms of total hits, but sometimes I feel like I get a little lost amongst those things.

Lately I’ve been doing an awful lot of personal blogging at a secret location — daily blogging, in fact. It’s felt good to just babble, and the denizens of the secret location seem to like it when I do. I think, maybe, this blog needs a little babbling too.

Remember the definition of “paranormal”?

Para- / par-ə / Prefix. ”Alongside, near, beyond, altered, contrary to.”
norma/ nawr-muhl / Adjective. “Conforming to the standard; usual; regular; natural.”

Truth is, no matter how much I love all that is traditionally paranormal, I spend an awful lot of my life just the tiniest scootch to the left of plain-old-normal. And that means that I deal with all sorts of mundane issues and problems. It means I have the same kind of personal dreams as about 99% of the population. It means I’ve got to use this time of year — when ghosts and monsters and Jacks are far from the minds of most folks, including me — to pursue my non-paranormal dreams.

In the next few days, I’ll share a couple of tools I found to help me with my own classic (if mundane) resolutions: creating a healthier body and improving my financial situation. I’ve been using them since before January, and I think they have had amazing results. (I’m down 10 pounds & eat vegetables occasionally now, AND I have more than $500 in an actual savings account For me, these developments are nothing short of miraculous.)

Now is the time to deal with snow and cold and ice. It’s the time to get through each day in such a way that will lay a good foundation for future, more-paranormal-activity-friendly months. It’s the time to do the WORK of keeping one’s New Year’s Resolutions, and that’s what I’ve been mostly doing in these last couple of months.


Still, the light changes a little each day. In 37 days, it will be equinox, and I can feel it coming. I covered a shift at the #ParanormalHotel last week, just to help out in an emergency. As I drove over at 5:57p it was not yet dark.


By the way, a couple of weeks into the job, Langston had an especially bad night, in an especially bad weekend, and ended up being let go. He made a questionable judgement call and the consequences were really expensive for the hotel owners. The decision came down that he’s not mature enough to handle the night shift. Since then, he’s found a new job working at the deli counter of a local grocery, so it’s all good. 

Sometimes, when the wind stops blowing and the sun shines, I can sense the promise of spring in the air. The other day, when The Boy and I driving to school with the windows rolled partially down, we heard this:

It was only one refrain, and we couldn’t see the little guy, but we both instantly smiled. Sadly, the invisible bird was a bit premature, as the weather is not actually spring like at all. I remember having winters like this as a child, but The Boy doesn’t … it’s been that long since we had this much snow and cold here.

Even in this state of hardy snowmobile-loving, ice-fishing souls, the zeitgeist is that we’re DONE with this crap:

#hauntedphotoaweek #chilling

#hauntedphotoaweek #chilling #fucksnow


I’ve been sleeping often, long and deep for a couple of months now, but I think that’s coming to an end … thank God. I hate feeling tired all the time, and I especially hate descending so deep into unconsciousness that I don’t dream. Or at least don’t remember my dreams.

Apparently, two nights ago, I talked in my sleep. The Ogre tells me that I rolled over to tell him, “I didn’t think your horns would be so big.” He attempted to get me to expound, but that’s all I’d say.

I’m going to assume that I encountered a satyr or a talking beast of some sort in my dreams, because I don’t want to be consorting with demons, conscious or not.

Of that, I have no memory, but I had a dream within a dream just last night. Creepy as hell. The dog and I had fallen asleep on the sofa. At some point, he decided to move to the floor, which woke me slightly. I re-positioned myself and drifted back toward sleep. Then I “realized” someone was standing across the room, in front of the TV, (which was off) just watching me. The presence was male and not benevolent, but not terribly threatening. At least he didn’t make any move to approach — which was creepy in its own way, because it made me understand that it wasn’t just one of my menfolk. He was large, and had a sort of dark energy about him. I couldn’t make out any details. I actually tried to see him more clearly, so I could determine if he had anything that could be termed “horns.” As far as I could tell, he didn’t.

Then I “realized” I was dreaming. I got up and went to the bedroom, to cuddle in with Ogre. When I got there, I tried to wake him up a little, just so he could soothe me. But he wouldn’t wake. I grew increasingly insistent and scared. I was shaking him and shouting his name when I woke up … on the sofa.

(Yes, I had seen the latest Walking Dead episode earlier in the night.)

Once I’d actually gotten up, gone to the bedroom, and easily awakened my husband, I felt much better. The moment I knew I had just been dreaming, the events of the dream became story fodder. And that’s why I love dreaming, even when it’s frightening. It means I’m going to be able to write fiction more easily soon. In fact, it means I’m going to have to.

And that brings me full circle back to the first kind of dream in this post, doesn’t it?

Beyond: Two Souls – an interactive movie / video game.

It’s Macabre & Mysterious Media Monday. (Formerly, Mondays were all about music, but I’m feeling the itch to be more inclusive.)

I’ve been meaning to write about Beyond: Two Souls since November. You may recall that my daughter came to Minnesota from North Carolina to celebrate Halloween with us. She was here for almost three weeks, which was awesome, but the inevitable final night and half-day of her visit arrived and we were at a loss about how to cope with it.

In this family of geeks and nerds, the answer was pretty simple – we rented a video game and marathoned it.

Now, understand that I don’t actually PLAY a lot of games myself, but over the years I’ve certainly had many opportunities to watch my kids play. I’ve seen an awful lot of brightly colored blips jump and spin across and around platforms. Even more often, I’ve seen swords and sorcery adventures unfolding on the big screen. I watch, sometimes, just because one or the other of my spawn wants to show me some exciting element in the latest game … usually flaming weapons or gravity defying parkour-type maneuvers. I ohh and ahh because I indulge my kids at every opportunity, but the truth is I don’t really care about the stories in the games.

Beyond: Two Souls was totally different, and I was intrigued from the first moment The Boy suggested it as something I’d like. I was completely on board after he showed me this trailer.

Ayup, those voice actors you just heard were Willem Dafoe and Ellen Page. Not bad.


PS3 console
1-2 players, each requiring a controller of their own


The game centers around Jodie Holmes, who since birth has been connected to an entity named Aiden. After being left by her foster parents she is brought up by researchers Nathan Dawkins and Cole Freeman  who conduct research on the infraworld for the fictional United States Department of Paranormal Activity, the DPA.

We had to go to three different Redbox kiosks to find a copy of the game. Once we were at home again, we drew the blinds and switched off all the lights. The kids set up in office chairs in front of the TV, and Ogre and I snuggled in on the sofa under a blanket. For the next eleven or twelve hours the world of Beyond: Two Souls kept us all engaged and entertained. Somewhere around three o’clock in the morning, we had to sleep, but by ten the next morning, we were back in our places, determined to get through the complete story before it was time to take my daughter to the airport.

I never touched a controller, so I can’t tell you if the game controls are easy or hard. I know there was a little bitching as my kids figured out how to do certain actions but — because my kids are experienced gamers —  for me, this was one long, smooth interactive movie.


And that’s what will make you love this game or hate it; it really is just movie.

This particular plot (involving government conspiracy and a ghostly entity) was right up my ally. That said, it’s not a great movie. It’s sort of predictable, and there are some problems with the plot. The motion capture, obtained by making the actors do this:


doesn’t work very well on the Dafoe character, in my opinion. (Either that, or he’s more of an over-actor than I remember.) Ellen Page, on the other hand, comes through beautifully.

Sometimes the motives of the characters don’t ring true. The bad guys in this are unremittingly bad. There are situations where it seems like the actions taken by Jodie could alter the way that some of these bad guys would act, but no matter what she does, there is a forgone conclusion. There are several love interests for Jodie, but none of them would make me look at them twice. (Well, that one guy isn’t too bad.) Honestly, I think there was too much emphasis on romance.

As a game, according to the kids, it leaves a lot to be desired. Even I could see “the rails” that forced certain actions, and made some choices basically moot. The game is advertised as having 23 possible endings, but we think it comes down to 11 or less. Though it technically allows two people to play (one as Jodie and one as her entity companion) they must take turns.

The list price of this game is steep: $69.99. Considering how fast we burned through it from start to finish, I’m not sure I’d want to invest that much money. There’s not much replay-ability here, once you’ve tried a few of the different endings. It is, however, still available in Redbox and I think it’s well worth the cost of a few night’s rental.

It seems like I’ve given this a lukewarm review, and I don’t want to leave you with that impression. Though there are problems with it, it was a great way for us to spend some low-stress but engaged time with each other. There were lots of opportunities to discuss which way we wanted to take the story. Once it was over, we had some really interesting conversation about the central themes of the game.

Also, the concept of interactive movie games fascinates me. The potential of the genre is mind-boggling. I’ve long thought that there aren’t enough alternatives to fast-twitch video games. I believe we need more puzzle-focused games, for those of us that enjoy the thrill of solution seeking but don’t want to invest years of our lives developing the reflexes of a fighter pilot. This is the style that could be used to create the kind of sandbox I want to play in: one well-stocked with layered, intricate, complex environments to explore.

To be fair, I want to share a video review by one of my son’s favorite professional reviewers, Yahtzee. Be prepared, he HATED this game. (But his review is funny if somewhat foul-mouthed. Warning: spoilers.)

If you try this game, you’re probably going to want the following links eventually. Warning: massive spoilers.

Here’s all the Beyond: Two Souls endings, and how to get them

Beyond: Two Souls Wiki

From Forbes Magazine — ‘Beyond: Two Souls’ Review: Paranormal Interactivity – This is a well-written, comprehensive review of the game, including detailed information about mechanics, plot and theme.