A long time coming, but now there’s happiness to spare.

I’ve been away from the Post-A-Week photo challenge, and from my blog, for a long time. (I’ve been almost totally silent since February, and — if I’m being honest — I went mostly-missing not long after last Halloween.)  I was busy being overwhelmed and obsessive about the things that needed to be done so that we could move from Minnesota to North Carolina.

It was a long, scary, and stressful process — one that began as a dream, more than seven years ago; then became a goal, about four years ago; then became a plan, at the end of last year.

It shouldn’t have been so all-consuming. I know folks do this kind of thing all the time, but when I was a younger woman it would never have occurred to me that I would. I was a Minnesota girl, through and through. I was rooted. I expected my life to unspool like that of all my friends and family members, who did not just pick up and start all over again in an unfamiliar biome and an unfamiliar society.

But then life happened.

(I don’t want to write about the circumstances that are included in that “life happened” phrase tonight, but if you want an overview, you’ll find it a pretty good one in the middle of this post which I wrote a couple of years ago, when we were still in the goal stage.)

The point is we are now here, together, in warm, lush North Carolina, and it’s time to get back to taking photographs, and blogging, and writing …  in short, it’s time to get back to living a life instead of planning for one.

I have two photos for the “spare” prompt:

First a very literal one. I had mentioned to my Ogre, on Friday night, the topic of this week’s photo challenge. A couple of mornings later, as we sat at the breakfast table doing our usual morning stuff, he suddenly looked up at me and said, “Wait, you need a photo for spare, right?” then he pushed his puzzle toward me. Slam!

Spare crossword

This next one, though, is the photo that really captured something special about spare for me this week.

2016.05.30 the rainbow from poolside

This is the pool at our new apartment community. We were relaxing in two of the loungers in the late afternoon. The sky was restless, with layers of clouds chasing each other about, and it was occasionally sprinkling us with soft, heavy, warm raindrops. We were talking about our new budget, and our new life, and about how much he’s enjoying his work, and how much I want to settle in to mine.

Then the rainbow came to delight us. A good omen.

The second bow? The one that came a few minutes later? That’s the spare one.

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 “spare” prompt  from others:

(I’ll add more as I have time to browse, so feel free to check back.)

The Simpler the Better | Once a Home | Iceland | spare tires | this reminds me of the paranormal hotel | a spare chair | love the way this is written | refreshing | bone | ooh, a creepy one | spare (ribs) | spare words |

Caution: You are entering a temporarily abandoned blog.

Hi Folks. I suspect many of you have picked up on the fact that my life is changing dramatically, but I should have written a post about it more than a month ago. Apologies. (My mind is just completely overwhelmed these days.) Here’s the official announcement:

We are moving from Minnesota to North Carolina

at the beginning of April, 2016.

That’s 1,200 miles, give or take, and the logistics of the move are nightmarish. Consequently, I have to admit that I won’t be blogging until I can think about anything other than organization, transportation, and packing.

Long term readers will know that this has been our goal for the last four years. I can’t wait to get there, and I can’t wait until this part of the process is over!

Answers to questions you may have:


1  The Ogre (my husband) asked for a transfer to a North Carolina branch of the company, but local management said no, they couldn’t do without him.

Instead, they made him the happiest techie-introvert on the planet… he’ll be keeping the job he has, but he’ll be doing it out of an office we’ll set up in our apartment. (He’s a software engineer, and his company employs a number of 100% telecommuters. In fact, he already works daily, via teleconferencing, with some folks who live in other states and work from home. He just didn’t realize he could be one of them.) Isn’t the modern world a magical place?

2  We are taking the dog and the cat with us. (And hasn’t that complicated our travel plans exponentially?) We are not, however, taking most of our furniture. We’ll be living like newlyweds / college kids for a while. (Won’t that be fun?) We want to take our time finding pieces to replace the stuff we don’t want to drag across country. (Plus, to be honest, this whole process is expensive! We’d rather live on folding chairs than go into debt to furnish a new place.)

3  We’re moving into a large three-bedroom apartment in a lovely complex. (We need that extra room for Ogre’s office.) On the property, there’s even a pool, a real fitness gym, and a dog run with agility obstacles. (Bonus: I’ll have my own washer and dryer again.)


4  We are done with snow, and ice, and cold … and feeling like we age a few decades, and become shut-ins, for four or five months out of each year.

5  We’ll be joining our daughter (aka Pooka) and her beau, who have been living in NC for almost seven years. In fact, our new place is very close to theirs. Our 20 year old son is relocating with us. Our little family will be reunited.


6  The plan is to for Ogre and me to take at least a year to explore NC in a quest to find a town or neighborhood to settle in — one that we will love as much as we have loved White Bear Lake, MN. (Which would be perfect, if only it weren’t in MN and subject to so freakin’ much winter.)

7  Our son is leveling up to roommate status. He’ll continue to work and save money, and look into his college options, while he is establishing his residency for in-state tuition. He already has his AA Degree, so he’ll basically be a junior when he can go back to school in 2017. (Not too far off the planned trajectory, age-wise.)

8  Finally, I expect I’ll be clear-headed enough to start blogging and writing again by mid-May. Maybe sooner, if things go well. I miss it.

So. Did I forget anything? Ask anything you like in the comments … and wish me sanity and fine weather for the cross-country caravan trip that is coming.

We’re going home!


This Week in Macabre & Mysterious Media: Dec. 21-26, 2015


My Christmas gift to you:

We are hardwired to get along, you know.

Christmas isn’t really my season, but I miss you all so I took a look a what’s available this week. I’m pretty excited to share two things in particular:

 I’ll be back to regular blogging soon. 




The Ref (1994) R

Available streaming on Netflix.
I was so excited to see that this is available on streaming this year, so I could recommend it to you. I’m going to give you a fan-made trailer here, because the professional one is just dumb. This is perhaps my favorite modern Christmas movie. Dennis Leary and Kevin Spacey are terrific. Dark. Funny. Satisfying.
On IMDb here.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (2003) PG

Available streaming on Netflix.
Another favorite from recent years, but I usually watch this around Halloween.
On IMDb here.

Most of my other  modern favorites are NOT available on streaming right now, but in case you have alternative ways to access them, here’s the list:

White Christmas (1954)

Available streaming on Netflix.
My go-to classic. I’ve actually seen it playing on a variety of cable channels, but if you’re looking for a pure, commercial-free, watch, queue it up on Netflix. (I have a huge crush on Danny Kaye.)
On IMDb here.


The Twilight Zone “The Night of the Meek” | METV | Christmas Eve at 2:30AM/1:30C

Here’s the first five minutes of the episode:

Art Carney as a down and out Santa who finds a magical sack of gifts and seeks his redemption. Set you recorder. This is a great one. It has its own IMDb listing here. EDIT: When I set my DVR, I found the program description says this is a REMAKE of the classic episode. It’s possible the guide is just wrong. I hope the guide is just wrong!

ABC’s The Year: 2015 | ABC | Tuesday | 9/8c 

A year in review news show. I’m betting there will be a ton of commercials, so I think I’ll record it and watch it on time delay.

The Jinx | HBO | On Demand 

Nothing Christmas-y about this one at all, but I just marathoned it and enjoyed it immensely. If you need a break from holiday cheer, you could do worse than this documentary.

I don’t recommend a lot of premium cable shows. We often confine ourselves to a basic cable package, so I don’t have reliable access. Our provider screwed something up recently, though, so they gave us a few months of HBO.

I made a bee-line for the six-part documentary, Jinx, which I’d heard about and coveted. It was well worth the time investment. The first episode is the weakest, but I found myself intrigued anyway. By mid-way through the second episode, I was hooked. Over the hours, I developed an opinion, changed my mind, changed my mind again, and got literal goosebumps at the end.

Here’s the homepage.



Find links to all featured Macabre & Mysterious Media 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. A good movie that lives up to its reputation.

A flash of color.

A young friend of mine, who may or may not be bipolar, recently described one feature of depression as a dimming of the colors. Though I’d never thought about it that way before, I was immediately struck with the truth of the statement … in both a literal and figurative sense.

Today I snapped a photo simply because I actually noticed the depth and vibrancy of the colors:

20151118 hp november colors

To find and notice color in mid-November, in Minnesota, is a good thing, especially on a rainy day.

(And, by the way, it’s a miracle that we’ve only had rain and not snow … a miracle that I appreciate very much.)

When I uploaded the above image from my phone to my PC, I noticed a backlog of unnamed, unsorted, un-posted files, including the following shots, which I took almost exactly a month ago, at the height of leaf season:

I took the photographs because I could objectively see how lovely the colors were, and I had good intentions of posting them somewhere, but I don’t think I ever did.

Isn’t it funny how that drab view of a clump of wet sticks caught me by the heart today and inspired this quick post, when that golden tree failed to move me to action just a month ago?

Maybe I’m coming out of the worst of this thing … though I am tired of resolving to feel better, so today I’m just letting whatever happens happen. Instead of fighting, I’m trying to make peace with my black dog.

This blog hiatus I’m on was actually planned. By mid-October, I knew I was going to need a break as soon as Halloween was out of the way. (November is a terrible month for a paranormal-themed blog anyway.) I did intend to come in and made some kind of announcement about taking November off, but I didn’t quite make it before I crashed. So this is that belated announcement. I may be back before December, but right now I’m not really planning on resuming regular posting (or being much engaged with social media) until then.

And on that awkward note, I’m out for now. My Ogre has come home and we’ve got plans to go stock up on soda while the prices are low.

(Hey, I’m a little surprised I decided to write anything, to be honest. The words aren’t coming easily at all lately.)


This Week in Macabre & Mysterious Media: Oct 26-Nov 1


Danse Macabre

recommended by Joanna Wagner at Danse Noir

This week, I’m most excited about:


For this installment of M&M Media, I looked for stuff that seems particularly appropriate to this very special week. At Netflix, I’m concentrating on the best scary films that are currently available on streaming.  Many of them are classics, others are more recent entries into the macabre & mysterious genre. (Click on the linked title to add the film to your Netflix streaming queue or to watch straight from your desktop.) When it comes to television, I’m highlighting nostalgic programming. See the TV listing info provided and set your DVR appropriately.

Speaking of retro, check out THREE fabulous Halloween safety videos, over at Patrick Keller’s Big Seance blog.




Note: there’s a big difference between the R rating of today (which usually indicates a lot of blood and gore) and the R rating of classic horror (which usually indicates adult themes.) There’s something telling about that, isn’t there?

Rosemary’s Baby (1968) R

On IMDb here.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) NR

On IMDb here.

The Omen (1976) R

On IMDb here.

The Fly (1958) NR

On IMDb here.

Metropolis (1927) NR

OLD school sci fi.
On IMDb here.

Children of the Corn (1984) R

Perfect if you’ve got a trip to a corn maze planned for later in the week🙂
On IMDb here.

Laura (1944) NR

Not remotely horror, rather noir suspense / mystery. If you haven’t seen it, and it you want something involving but not scary, per se, give Laura a go.
On IMDb here.

Barbarella (1968)

This is one I have not actually seen. After watching the trailer, I’m not really inclined to change that. All I can say is WOW. Interestingly, Netflix says it’s R, while IMDb days it’s PG.
On IMDb here.

ghost stories & hauntings

The Others (2001) PG-13

A pretty gentle ghost story, nice if you don’t want much blood or gore.
On IMDb here.

The Awakening (2011) R

On IMDb here.

Dream House (2011) PG-13

I’m sharing a short clip here, because the actual trailer really spoils the movie. This movie is somewhere between horror and drama. I loved it, but it is sad.
On IMDb here.

The Sixth Sense (1999) PG-13

Pretty sure everyone has already seen this on, but sometimes it’s fun to let a  classic play while one’s attention is on other things, like carving pumpkins, or putting final touches on costumes or decorations.
On IMDb here.

Housebound (2014)  NR

I’ve raved about this movie before. If you haven’t seen it yet, it really is great fun (and well written) and quite spooky to boot. (A bit of gore but that’s not the point.) It’s more understated than the the trailer suggests.
On IMDb here.

The Pact (2012) R

A great haunted house story with a female lead character who isn’t an idiot.
On IMDb here.


Let the Right One In (2008) R – Original Swedish Version

Yes, it’s subtitled. I think this is superior to the American remake, in part because the kids seem more like kids, which is creepier.
On IMDb here.

Byzantium (2012) R

Not the easiest  or most straightforward film, but lovely in its own way. This is a real drama wrapped in a real vampire story. It’s a bit annoying in some parts, but overall, I think it’s worth the time it takes to watch it.
On IMDb here.

The Corpse Bride (2005) PG

Tim Burton doing his thing. 
On IMDb here.

V/H/S (2012) R

An anthology style film with a lot of fans. Some segments are better than others. Note that R rating. It’s earned.
On IMDb here.

Silence of the Lambs (1991) R

Another that you’ve probably seen, and perfect for background ambiance. 
On IMDb here.

We Are What We Are (2013) R

A darkly beautiful, slow burner. Yes, it is about what you think it is, so no surprise there, but the performances and the atmosphere are memorable.
On IMDb here.

The Addams Family (1991) PG-13

My favorite love story ever.
On IMDb here.

Nightbreed (1990) R

This is fantasy, not horror. Very Clive Barker. Very 1990.
On IMDb here.

Stonehearst Asylum (2014) PG-13

A fairly faithful retelling of the Poe tale, The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether (You can read the short story at this link.) Lovely to look at. Kate Beckinsale, Ben Kingsley and Michael Caine. This is a great movie for anyone who doesn’t want grue & violence but does want something macabre & mysterious. Again, I’m sharing a clip rather than the trailer which gives away the plot. (What’s up with that anyway?)
On IMDb here.

The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014) R

I’ve recommended this before. A brave, absolutely stunning performance here by Jill Larson, who plays the title character. The first 2/3 of the movie is the best … really, really creepy.
On IMDb here.

Twixt (2011) R

A surreal, beautiful film. A bit of a challenge, and (as is so often the case) it devolves toward the end. There’s some sharp, witty moments in the writing … especially about writing. Quirky. I love it for the look and feel more than the story.
On IMDb here.



(Check you cable/satellite provider directory,  or go here to search for it. You probably have this channel which features retro TV shows. I’ve shared the original air date, but most of us saw these in syndication.)

Svengoolie presents “Frankenstein”

James Whale’s 1931 horror masterpiece for Universal Pictures returns in a gorgeous new print. See Boris Karloff’s monster in crisp detail. What better flick to put on for Halloween night?

See it on MeTV on October 31 at 10PM | 9C



Original air date: October 7, 1963

 Beware that old Rimshaw house! Opie and his pal hit a ball into the decrepit manor. They hear eerie noises inside. Andy sends Barney and Gomer to investigate, and those two get spooked as well. We won’t give away the ending, but anyone who’s watched Scooby Doo can surmise it’s not supernatural.
See it on MeTV on October 30 at 9PM | 8C.



Original air date: October 31, 1963

 This early episode, the sixth overall, has a premise that seems unlikely to modern ears: The Clampetts have never heard of Halloween. The new Beverly Hills residents make the rounds to meet neighbors and are delighted to earn candy along the way.
See it on MeTV on October 30 at 8AM | 9C.



Original air date: October 21, 1978

 Thirteen black cats jump from a van in front of Ponch, kicking off an array of lighthearted Halloween capers. The saddlebags are filled with candy and costumed kids — sporting some great boxed Ben Cooper costumes of the era — are about. It all makes for one of the most enjoyable CHiPs outings.
See it on MeTV on October 30 at 6PM | 5C.



Original air date: October 29, 1974

 The gang sports some great costumes here. Richie wears a classic skeleton suit, like the punks in The Karate Kid. Ralph is Alfred Hitchcock. Potsie is a superhero. Fonzie is, well, the Fonz with a mask. At one point, Joanie tells Richie that it looks as if, “Bela Lugosi sucked all the blood out of you!” Learn how Fonzie bobs for apples.
See it on MeTV on October 30 at 9PM | 8C.



Original air date: March 22, 1977
Laverne and Shirley and Lenny and Squiggy head to a supposedly haunted Ramsdale Manor for a couch. Shirley warns, “Beware the legend of the Ramsdale Hairy Thing!”
See it on MeTV on October 30 at 9:30PM | 8:30C



Original air date: November 1, 1982

Just as Cheers was starting, George Wendt appeared as a guest on this late M*A*S*H— as a Private with a pool ball stuck in his mouth. Again, there are some fantastic costumes here, perfect for a deep reference for your next Halloween party. Hawkeye is Superman, BJ is a clown, Hot Lips is a geisha, and Potter is a cowboy. A psychologist would have a field day with those decisions.

 See it on MeTV on October 30 at 7:30PM | 6:30 C



Original air date: November 1, 1962
The wonderful Ellen Burstyn is in the horror hall of fame for her role in The Exorcist, a genuinely disturbing film. A young Burstyn plays a part in this Halloween mystery, too. Saying any more might give away whodunnit!

See it on MeTV on October 28 at 9AM | 8C.



In  “Monsters and Junk Like That,” father Steve is stuck wearing a costume of a Tin Man.

See it on October 30 at 6AM | 5C.


Elsewhere on the airwaves:

On History

The Real Story of Halloween 

 “A look at how our modern-day Halloween traditions have ancient roots.”

See it on Oct. 27 at 4PM | 3C OR Oct. 31 at 6PM | 5C



American Experience: “War of the Worlds”

“Recalling the 1938 radio broadcast of H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds” by Orson Welles and his “Mercury Theater on the Air” crew, which occurred on Mischief Night. Some listeners believed the program’s account of a Martian invasion to be true and panicked due to the format, which featured “reporters” breaking into “regular programming” with realistic accounts of an in-progress attack. Included: remarks from film historian Peter Bogdanovich; and Welles’ daughter, Chris Welles Feder.”

See it on Oct. 27 at 8PM | 7C

Secrets of the Dead: “Vampire Legend” 

This episode follows a group of scientists as they uncover ‘deviant’ burials dating back to medieval England, pointing to a belief that the dead could rise from their graves. Predating Eastern European legend, these discoveries force a reexamination of modern vampire lore. The show features an interview with a modern-day vampire slayer, who, for the first time publicly, gives his account of the vampire-slaying ritual.”

See it on Oct. 27 at 9PM | 8C



It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

“An hour-long special that includes the original Peanuts classic and the bonus cartoon “You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown.”

See it on Oct. 29 at 8PM | 7C


On FXX (Look up your channel here.)

The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror

“All 25  episodes air in consecutive order.”

Oct. 31 from 12PM-12:30AM (Central time:11AM-11:30PM)



Wicked City | ABC | Tuesdays | 10/9c | Oct 27

Ash vs Evil Dead | STARZ | Saturdays| 9/8c (?) | October 31


Find links to (nearly) all featured Macabre & Mysterious Media 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. A good movie that lives up to its reputation.

One week until Halloween 2015!

2015 1 week til halloween

Another week has flown by. I hope you all are having a great season so far.

I’m still not at 100%, but today I’m heading out for a whole day with a friend. Our plan is to go hunting at the Goodwill, then drink too much coffee and talk our heads off on a patio somewhere, (if the sun will come out!) then, after dark, venture into the Alchemist bar.

alchemist with tenders

A shot from the day Ogre & I discovered it.

Here at the blog, great photos are still coming into The 2015 Halloween Photo Hunt. Time is running out for participating in this year’s hunt. It’s a perfect weekend to print off a list and go out taking pictures for an artist date (solo) or a game (with friends.) Now’s the time to catch all the fall colors and decorations, while they are in full-bloom (so to speak.) I’d love to display your results.

Here’s this week’s cross stitch project progress photo:

cross stitch 1 week until halloween

I’m almost done … except for those bleeping black areas. To complete it, I’ll need a bright, sunny day. Because I’m old. (Black on black is a challenge for 40-something eyes.) Meanwhile, I’m designing my next project … which I think will be a sampler. Gotta tell you, I’m a bit shocked I’ve actually made so much progress in about five weeks.

What have you been doing to celebrate the season?

Two weeks until Halloween 2015!


2015 2 weeks til halloween

Another week has flown by. What have you been doing to celebrate the season?

Me? I’ve been having a bad spell. It seems inevitable that I will go down for the count at some point every October, and this has been that week. I’ve been sleeping a lot more than usual. I’ve been watching movies and catching up on TV shows. I’ve been cross stitching … kind of obsessively.

My son turned 20 this week(!) so we had some guests over and ate more pineapple upside down cake than is reasonable. We also managed an outing to the pumpkin farm / petting zoo that we have visited so often in the last decade or so. (When we were home schooling, we used to take his lessons there so he could spend the day working near the goats and chickens, usually with a cat in his lap.) This week, we were very aware that it was probably our last trip to the farm.

Yeah. I’ve got some melancholy going on.

Here at the blog, great photos are still coming into The 2015 Halloween Photo Hunt. (I’m going to have to take a day when I feel more up to it to go out and get a bunch of pics for my own album.)

Here’s this week’s cross stitch project progress photo:

cross stitch 2 weeks until Halloween


Don’t forget to check out my daughter’s cool Halloween buttons, there’s still time for them to arrive so you can hand them out at Halloween.

I hope you all are having a great season so far.

If you need a little boost to get into the mood of things, consider watching some recommended movies (Halloween, Ghosts, Iconic) and/or taking some seasonal photos.