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Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

Orbs In The Barn

Orbs In The Barn, Glenwood, Minnesota, May 2006, photo © 2006-2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


It’s Halloween, the time of year when the veil between the worlds is thinnest. Have you ever taken a photograph and were later surprised to find you had captured an orb? Orbs are small, floating, transparent balls of light, most times unexplainable in the context of the photograph. Some claim that orbs are the building bricks from which ghosts are formed.

Do you believe in ghosts? When I was in high school, we would drive around looking for abandoned buildings that might be haunted. We rarely saw anything supernatural and most times managed to scare ourselves silly. But in the years since, I have been visited by two ghosts. One was from my grandmother in Tennessee the night that she died. She came to see me in (what I thought) was a dream, and told me she loved me. The next day I called Mom to ask if Granny had passed away. She said, “Yes, how did you know?”

The second ghostly visit was from my friend Leslea not long after she died from pancreatic cancer. She appeared in my bedroom, pulled on my toe, and knocked a writing book off the shelf at 3am in the morning. It was one of those cover your head with the sheets moments. I didn’t want to see, but could not forget. There are many TV shows that deal with the paranormal these days. Ghost busters and ghost hunters who travel the world documenting the presence of ghosts. What are your ghost experiences?

In his new book Ghost Hunting — A Survivor’s Guide, John Fraser documents a brief history of ghost hunting and explores definitions of poltergeists, doppelgangers, animal ghosts, and crisis apparitions that occur at the point of death or near death of a loved one. Fraser has several chapters on methods of ghost hunting. He divides ghost hunting tools of the trade into scientific and low-tech. Many of the paranormal ghost hunters we hear of today are using high-tech, scientific methods.


High-Tech Ghost Hunting Equipment

  • EMF Meters — commonly called ghost detectors and used to measure electromagnetic fields of various frequencies. These devices measure fluctuations in electromagnetic energy in the environment. [Last week I heard a radio interview with a psychic that said many times EMF detectors are not useful because ghosts like to hang out where there is an abundance of electrical currents like airports or malls.]
  • Cameras — used in ghost hunting for well over 100 years, commonly to capture orbs or mists
  • Thermometers — traditional mainstay of a ghost hunter’s kit used to register changes in air temperature. Digital is the best today. Some use infrared thermometers for target spotting. The theory is that ghosts often suck up the warm energy around them, leaving cold spots where they hover or stand.
  • Tape Recorders — Ghosts and poltergeists often make audible sounds or electronic voice phenomena called EVP. You will hear EVP’s recorded with digital recorders in many of the ghost busting TV shows.
  • Camcorders — camcorders are placed in paranormal hot spots and later reviewed for images or disturbances
  • Night Vision Scopes — for open-air locations where mediums feel more comfortable operating in the darkness
  • Barometers & Motion Detectors — compact and digital, to measure changes in air pressure. Like EMF meters, barometers do not detect ghosts but indicate a change in the environment or warning of poltergeist activity.
  • Spirit Box — a regular portable AM/FM radio modified to continually scan up and down the dial without stopping. The radio produces small snippets of clearly distinguishable voices as it scans the stations, noises that are clearly not part of any broadcast. Many believe that the spirits, who lack a voice of their own, are able to harness and manipulate radio signals to give voice to their thoughts.


Low-Tech Ghost Hunting Equipment

  • Graph Paper — for drawing clear plans of the haunted site
  • Rulers or Tape Measures — used to measure distances of objects moved
  • Watches — digital and viewable in the dark for timing events, synchronized among investigators
  • Voltmeters — used to check electrical power faults and cuts
  • Strain Gauges — to measure the force it would take to open a door or drawer, or the weight of an object that has been moved
  • Magnifying Glasses — for closer viewing of evidence
  • Transparent Envelopes — safe place to store unusual objects collected
  • Flour — simple device for sealing off a room, sprinkling a large area, seeing if footprints are left by any intruders
  • Black Thread — for sealing rooms to detect and prevent hoaxes
  • Torches — to light dark ghost hunting corners, castles, and caves
  • Candles — for lighting and to detect air flow changes
  • Whistles — to call for help if needed. Can also use a two-way radio.
  • Survey Maps –– to document history of what the property may have been used for in the past
  • Chalk – to make temporary marks showing the location of objects before and after they have been moved


Many ghost hunters also use human sensitives, intuitives, psychics, or mediums to help detect paranormal activity. If you want to read more about ghost hunting, your local library is a great resource for books on the paranormal, including the newest from John Fraser. Get your ghost hunting kits ready because tonight is Halloween. We’ll have a fire in the fire ring and candy in hand, ready to stave off tricks in favor of treats.

Ghosts make for good Writing Practice too. Whether haunted by figurative ghosts or the real thing, there is juice in ghost writing. Write the word Ghosts at the top of your page — 10 minutes, Go!


-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, October 31st, 2010

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This is for the person or people who recently landed at red Ravine by searching the following term:


spider growing in face



I didn’t want you to be disappointed.



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Spider Growing In Face doodle, pen and ink on graph paper then stylized in Photoshop Elements, image © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.





-Related post: NEWSFLASH: You Can Reach red Ravine Via This

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cat on the fence

Cat on the Fence, greeting (sort of) visitors to the homestead one late afternoon in September, photo © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.




Something about October’s approach. Strange things start to happen.

Earlier this week I drove up the long drive to our house. There on the mahogany fence was The Cat. I don’t know where she came from—originally that is. Probably came with the house, along with the 1950s powdercoat-yellow metal lawn chairs, left behind by the former owner.

I do know that Sony the Pug mangled the poor tabby and that Jim keeps her (the cat, not Sony) because he has likes to move her from place to place around the yard. She lounged in the wide Y of an old cottonwood all summer long, and then suddenly there she is, sitting on the fence one late September afternoon, looking as real as real can be.

Then yesterday when I got up, I heard rustling in the laundry room. The tea kettle was about to whistle, and I had just come in from dumping the day-old coffee grounds out onto my ice plants. I could hear the noise, like a rummaging through paper. I hit the light switch; the sound went away. Turned off the lights and went back to my morning routine, disturbed by the notion that a mouse must have gotten into Sony’s dog food bag and couldn’t get out. (Of course, I planned to wait for Jim to get out of the shower before testing that theory.)

Moments later as I approached the kettle to pour hot water into the French press, I noticed a dark blob moving across the linoleum. Oh no, I thought, a hurt mouse! I moved closer. It hopped. And hopped and hopped, toward the Chambers stove. I thought it was going to hop right into the crevice between stove and cabinets and back behind the appliance where I’d never be able to capture it. There it would hide out for years only to emerge five times fatter and bumpier. I held out my hand and turned away as if I were picking up dog poop. It took me several tries but finally I caught the toad and took it out the shade garden.

This isn’t the first reptilian visitor to the house. Week before last I had to escort a young bullsnake out to the garden. I found it trying to slither across the floor in our bedroom. It wasn’t getting far, thanks to the miracle cleaning product vinegar-and-water; in fact, it looked more sidewinder than bullsnake.

And this wasn’t the first snake, either. Jim found one once when I was traveling. Nor are snakes and toads the only reptiles that like to visit us inside the house. We also once found a box turtle making its way down the hall, and one night I caught a lizard that had fallen asleep under a lamp near our bookshelves.

The great outdoors has been making its way indoors through the doggy-made doggy-portal, which is actually a large right-angle slit in the screen door that Sony the Pug (yes, she is a bundle of chewing, scratching energy) created so that she wouldn’t have to wait for us to let her in and out.


cat close up




What is it about fall? Harvest moons and long shadows.

Tonight Em spent an hour brainstorming Halloween costumes. Last year she was a Porta-Potty. This year she thought maybe she’d go as something more stylish—Lady Gaga, for example. But her older sister warned that everyone and their brother will be Lady Gaga this Halloween, so the search continues.

We’ll keep our eyes peeled for unique costume ideas. Hey, maybe we could dress her up as one reptile-creature that I hope to NEVER see in my home. The chupacabra.

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Pumpkins In PA, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, October 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 
 

Back in Minnesota and it’s Halloween. I’m home from the 2400 roundtrip air miles, Minneapolis to Pennsylvania. The road trip with Mom from Pennsylvania to Georgia clocked around 1200 driving miles. Fall is beautiful on the East Coast and we had a lot of fun stopping in Fancy Gap, Virginia on the way down and the Pink Cadillac Diner in Natural Bridge, Virginia on the way back to Pennsylvania.

One thing that sticks out for me on this trip is the difference in temperature and light from East to Midwest. When I was snapping sunset photos in Virginia for Twitter, Liz noticed that it was already dark in Minnesota. And this morning when I awoke, the temperatures in Harrisburg and Augusta were surprisingly similar, topping out in the 50’s. Yet in Minneapolis, it was only 32 degrees.

Cold and dark. It’s going to be a crisp evening for the trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood. My sister told me last week that in Pennsylvania, they trick-or-treat on the Thursday before Halloween, something I had not heard of here. As far as I know, there is only one Halloween evening in our neck of the woods. And that is tonight.

The night before I left Pennsylvania, my sister brought home pumpkins for my niece and nephew to carve. She grabbed a few extra for my mother and I and we went to town. I had not worked that hard on a pumpkin in years. I’m not fond of cleaning out the guts. But my sister and niece were masters at expunging the stringy goo from the hollowed out orange shell. I learned a thing or two about pumpkin carving that night:

 
 

 
 

place a big plastic table cloth down on the carving surface to catch all the guts and gore that fly through the air

 
 

 
 

use ice cream scoops and scrapers to remove extra pumpkin goo

 
 
 
 

 
 

draw your design out on in pencil on a white sheet of paper before carving

 
 
 

 
 

tape the paper to the outside of the pumpkin

 
 
 

 use an ice pick to punch holes along the lines of the design (when you remove the paper drawing, you have a dotted line pattern of holes to follow)

 
 
 

 
 

when carving in groups, you’ll need plenty of sharp knives and serrated pumpkin carving tools

 
 
 

 
 

X-Acto knives work well for the more intricate designs

 
 
 

 
 

toothpicks can help repair a misaligned cut from a knife that slipped

 
 
 

 
 

you’ll need stamina in the wrists, for punching the design with the ice pick and to complete the carving

 
 
 

 
 

for those whose wrists can’t take it or who don’t want to carve, painting pumpkins works great

 

When we finished carving, we placed votive candles and tea lights inside each pumpkin and arranged them on the front porch for photographs. Mom’s is the painted one over by the scarecrow Paul won a few weeks ago (he’s always been lucky like that). The scarecrow lights up in multicolored LED’s, adding another dimension to the overall decor.

It occurred to me that this was the same porch where we celebrated Halloween in the 60’s and 70’s growing up. Ghosts of all the ghouls and goblin costumes Mom created for my five siblings and I in the house where we were raised danced in and out of the breezeway.


3’s Not A Crowd In Pumpkin World (Dark), 3’s Not A Crowd In Pumpkin World (Light), Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, October 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Happy Halloween 2009. We’re preparing to watch a scary movie and chuckling at the inventive costumes (check out ybonesy’s daughter’s costume this year) of the little Midwest trick-or-treaters that drop by our door. In two days, it will be the full November Frost Moon (will bats be hibernating?). It’s blustery and chilly in Minnesota. Part of my heart is still in Pennsylvania.


-posted on red Ravine, Halloween Night, Saturday, October 31st, 2009

-related to posts: Halloween Short List: (#2) Build Your Own Casket, halloween haiku, Taking Jack To The Cemetery, The Great Pumpkin Catapult

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Start with a box, then paint a sign…
 
 
porta potty (two)
 
 
 
 
 
            …add a handle on the door and a stovepipe vent…
 
 
                    porta potty (three)
 
 
 
 

…throw in a few flies (because flies like stink)…


porta potty (four)





                    …and ya got the best Halloween costume ever!


                    pizza and potty (bleh!)





What are you going to be for Halloween??





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Postscript: The incredibly creative and talented Eric and Margherita, parents of one of my daughter’s best friends, made this costume. The kids all pitched in to help. Their daughter is a Plumber for Halloween.

At the school carnival, reactions to the Porta Potty costume were varied. Many people pointed and laughed. A few plugged their noses. Some looked baffled and offended, apparently by the idea that we’d dress our daughter as an outhouse. But hands down, this was the most surprising, most original costume of the day.

Many thanks to Eric and Margherita for making it happen!! You guys are Halloween geniuses (and next time you ever make it to southern California, I have just the person you have to meet).

Seriously, folks, check out Heather from Anuvue’s Alien Invasion — The Queen of Halloween has just been promoted to Halloween Leader of the Free World and Dictator for Life! _______________________________________________________________________________________



-Related to posts Halloween Short List: (#2) Build Your Own Casket and halloween haiku

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Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved

Bat photos provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande
Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved.

 
 
 
There is a cycle in our community that has to do with the seasons at dusk. It begins when our Rio Grande Valley evenings start to warm in spring, pulling us out onto the patio. We look into the purple-orange sky and notice a black flicker here, another there, appearing in herky-jerky fashion. By fall, the air becomes dewy and cool at sunset, and the dancing black flashes are few until finally, they’re gone. This is the coming and going of bats.

Yes, bats. Mice with wings. Strange little critters that frighten some but delight many, including us. They live—or, perhaps the proper term is hang out—on our (ybonesy’s) property in two bat houses that sit on long poles out on the grounds, a sort of summer residence for bats.

Maybe it’s the season, or perhaps fueled by a desire to not take our bat companions for granted, we decided to learn more about these amazing flying mammals. We sent our questions to bat guru Michelle McCaulley, director of the bat program that set up our bat houses and many more like them. Michelle shed light on these nocturnal creatures.
 
 
 
 
 

Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved   Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved   Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved

 



Fifteen Questions with Michelle McCaulley



Q. You have a pretty unconventional job; can you describe your role as it pertains to bats in the community?

A. I see myself as a biologist—that is actually what my degree is in—and an educator and conservationist, not only when it comes to bats in my community but other animals as well.


Q. How did you get involved in this program?

A. My father, Jim McCaulley, had started the Corrales Bat Habitat Program, installing 30 houses with a small grant from US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) Partners Program in 2002. When he passed away in 2005, I was thrilled and honored to continue with this mission. It was also a chance to do what I love, which is to study animals—in this case, bats.


Q. How long has the program been in existence, and how has it been received in the community?

A. The Corrales Bat Habitat Program began in 2002 with 30 houses. In 2006, the name was changed to Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, and it became a non-profit 501 (3)(c) tax-exempt organization. To date there are over 60 sponsored bat houses, primarily in the Village of Corrales but also around the rest of New Mexico. The Village of Corrales passed a resolution about eight years ago in support of the program. Residents have been enthusiastic and very supportive ever since. I usually have a waiting list of willing sponsors who would like to enroll in the Rio Grande Basin Bat Habitat Expansion Program.




Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved






Q. Bats are extremely beneficial, which is, I assume, large part of why this program exists. Can you expand on the benefits of bats in a community?

A. Not only do bats consume half of their body weight a night eating insects, they are primary pollinators of some plants. If you like tequila, thank a bat. Bats pollinate the agave from which tequila is derived. Bats are also a good biological indicator for healthy communities. Spraying of insecticides and pesticides is very harmful to bats because the chemicals are stored in a bat’s fat reserves, which could affect how well that bat survives the winter to live another year. The bats that live in NM are insectivorous bats meaning they only eat insects.


Q. We understand that bat season is winding down. What exactly do bats do as the weather gets cooler?

A. There is not a lot known about exactly when and where bats go for winter. We know migrating birds follow the same route each winter and back each summer, but this is not clear for bats. Many species of bats take up winter residence in caves, some in trees and rock crevices. For our bats in Corrales, they could be wintering as close as the Sandia Mountains. They hibernate like many other mammal species, and the weight they have gained in the summer sustains them through the winter. If disturbed during hibernation, bats use more energy and may not have enough reserves to make it through this time. In the end the disturbance could cost the bat its life.


Q. What is the general state of bats in the area? Are they thriving?

A. It is difficult to tell just by the data I have collected from bats using our artificial bat habitat. There would be other ongoing factors to consider, as well more information about bat behavior in our area. I have not compiled the information gathered from this year, but in the past three years, the use of the houses has increased from ~50% to 74% by 2008. The increase could indicate a temperature preference for the artificial habitat or a loss of preferred nature habitat, for example.


Q. We understand there are some pretty major threats to bats in other parts of the world, and that large populations of bats are dying out as a result. Is there a risk that New Mexico bats will be affected?

A. In the past, the pet trade, loss of habitat, and indiscriminate killing of bats have all been threats. However, an even larger threat to cave bats has emerged, especially in the Northeast. Bats are dying from White Nose Syndrome (WNS). WNS was named such because of the white fungus around the noses of bats found emaciated, flying (not hibernating) and dying during winter months. The fungus was also on their wings and other body parts. It is unclear how the fungus is affecting the bats or whether it is the cause of the deaths or a symptom of some larger ailment. At this time WNS has not been documented in NM.




Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved






Q. As we head toward Halloween, we’re reminded about the way bats are always associated with this holiday. Is that a plus or minus, in your opinion?

A. I think it’s a plus. The Halloween season is an opportune time to educate people about bats and help dispel some the myths in the process.


Q. What time of year will we see the bats active again?

A. They will return sometime in May. They typically follow the hummingbirds, so when you have a hummer you mostly likely will see bats.


Q. Tell us a little bit about the mating and communal habits of bats?

A. Typically bats mate in the fall but delay ovulation and fertilization. The egg does not release from the female’s ovary to unite with the sperm for fertilization until the following spring. Both sexes congregate for hibernation. In the spring most females bear and raise the young together until the young are furred and ready to fly. Females usually bear one offspring.


Q. Can you talk about bats and disease? I think there’s a fear that bats carry disease, such as Rabies, and that bats can be dangerous. Do bats carry many diseases or is this a myth?

A. Bats, like any other mammal can contract rabies from another infected animal. Only ½ of one percent of bats contract rabies. The best protection from being bitten by any wild animal is to not handle the animal and call a professional for help. Always vaccinate your pets as well. Bats are good combatants again West Nile Virus (WNV) as some of their diet is made up of mosquitoes when this prey is available. Bats will not become infected by WNV by eating an infected mosquito but may be if bitten by a mosquito. Bats are considered a dead end host for WNV because the infected bat will not transmit the disease to humans or any other animal. I am a certified bat rehabilitator in NM, by the way, and so I can be called in when bats are found sick and/or hurt.




Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved






Q. Are there similar bat programs in other communities that you know of?

A. To the best of my knowledge, the Rio Grande Basin Bat Project is not only the largest community bat project; according to Bat Conservation International (BCI) we are the only program of our kind. The complied data from each bat year is submitted to BCI and to the USFWS Partners Program. Corrales should be very proud, this is a great honor and a testament to village motto for being animal friendly.


Q. Any resources you’d like to highlight for anyone interested in more information on bats?

A. Yes, please visit my website for more information about bats, bat houses, and our mission. We also offer several gifts that are sure to please the bat lover in your life!

In addition, I work with and am Secretary for Bat World Sanctuary, located in Mineral Wells, Texas. They are largest bat sanctuary, as well as a teaching facility for rehabilitators of insectivorous bats. They care for hundreds of insectivorous and fruit bats rescued each year from inhumane conditions or sometimes from the pet trade.


Q. What is your favorite bat fact or bat story that you can share with our readers?

A. I can’t pick a favorite because everything about bats is remarkable to me. After you get to know a bat, you’ll see that they, too, have their own personalities and are very kind creatures.


Q. Anything else you’d like to share about bats?

A. This is only a tidbit of bat information. I encourage everyone to learn more, not only bats, but all of the other wonderful animals that share your community, state, and planet. Each one is incredible in its own way, worth appreciating and certainly worth protecting. If everyone would play a small part, even in their own community, our planet would certainly be a better place.





Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved   Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved   Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved







Michelle McCaulley runs the Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, which was created by her late father, Jim McCaulley. Michelle planted the idea for the project when, as she recounts on her website, In 1999, I built my parents a nursery style bat house. They installed the house beside the 1/4 acre pond on their property. Their house was occupied the very first spring with over 150 insect munching bats. The house is a successful nursery. The prosperity of this house sparked an unusual idea.

So in January of 2001, my father Jim McCaulley, drafted a preliminary plan for a pilot project to build about 30 bat houses to be installed within the Village of Corrales. The goal was to provide an natural alternative to insect control rather than spraying insecticides, while also providing additional habitat. The plan was reviewed, approved and funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) under the auspices of the Partners for Wildlife program.

Michelle continues the program today, a bat evangelist spreading the truth about the benefits of bats and other wildlife. Thank you, Michelle, for your dedication, energy, and passion to and for these wonderful creatures. We love them!

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Halloween Spider Exit, Casket Arts Building, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Halloween Spider Exit, Casket Arts Building, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Spider Walk, Casket Arts Building, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Spider Walk, Casket Arts Building, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Casket Arts Halloween, Casket Arts Building, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Casket Arts Halloween, Casket Arts Building, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



There was a Halloween Open Casket event at the Casket Arts Building last weekend. We spent several days hanging out in our studio, visiting with community artists and art lovers who stopped by to view and talk about art.

One couple had just moved into the building and we were talking about how the entire 3rd floor was once filled with women who sewed silk casket linings for the Northwestern Casket Company. And the polished maple we were standing on contained patches of thrown away boards from the casket builders downstairs.

That got me to thinking about caskets and, well, things just snowballed from there. Here’s my short list of fun things to do on Halloween.




1) Take A Casket Decorating Class


All things associated with death, including obituaries, caskets, and burials used to be an art form. People spent painstaking hours building and decorating caskets with the art of Rosemaling or Dalmalning. And there are people who still excel at this craft.

Rosemaling is Norwegian decorative painting. In an interview, Casket Painting Uplifted by Folk Art Tradition, Alegria talks about how she got started in casket painting. It’s spiritual work for her:


I do what I do because I have been given opportunities to experience dying, death and loss in the biggest ways, and I want to take what I’ve learned and experienced and help transform grief to glory.


If you head over to the Alternative Funeral Monitor News, you can read the whole interview with Alegria and see a photograph of a casket with Rosemaling.


Here’s an excerpt:


I paint Folk Art, primarily Rosemaling, a Norwegian folk art. I also use other forms, including Dalmalning, which is Swedish flower painting, and Baurnermalerai, a Bavarian folk art. In fact, every country has specific ethnic folk art forms, with designs and patterns that have been used for centuries.

Rosemaling actually comes from the early itinerant painters who traveled throughout Scandinavia. They stayed with families, became part of the family and decorated precious dowry trunks, beams, walls, ceilings and pews in the churches for the people. This art helped to bring light, color and joy into the long, dreary, dark winters.

The patterns and designs invoked spirits that the wood carvers had first carved on the Viking ships, such as acanthus vines, serpents and dragons. The shapes have meanings which they incorporated into the designs of this early work.

In addition, in the earliest burial customs, people were buried wrapped in a shroud. Later, when customs started to change and people harvested timber and used planks of wood to make caskets to bury people in, the custom began of adorning and decorating caskets. The ancient motifs and designs I paint with rise from the subconscious that now really is a form of tribal art.



2) Learn To Build Your Own Casket


The North House Folk School up on the Harbor of Lake Superior in Grand Marais, Minnesota is offering a Build Your Own Casket class. I don’t know about you, but this looks fascinating and fun to explore. What better way to prepare for that final resting place.

There are photographs and more at the link below. Just scroll down the Woodworking page to get to the casket building class.


Bury Yourself In Your Work – Build Your Own Casket
Instructor: Randy Schnobrich
Session Options: 12/5/2008 – 12/7/2008


None of us are getting out of this alive, so you might as well bury yourself in your work. Join a growing number of independent-minded people looking for a more meaningful alternative to today’s burial arrangements. This course covers a range of important details such as: proper sizing, joinery, handle construction, hardware and design options.

The finished casket need not wait for a final departure before being put to use. Above-ground applications include use as bookshelves, coffee tables, storage containers and entertainment centers.




3) Read Old Obituaries (1920’s – 1950’s) & Write Your Own


This one offers immediate satisfaction. We’ve talked about the obits many times on red Ravine. After reading today’s obits, I’m stunned by the richness and character of the old obituaries, how people used to take time to honor people in death by writing about their lives.

Mom uses obituaries in her research on the family tree and they often lead to uncovering buried skeletons. What a treat!  It makes me wonder if there used to be people in a community who excelled at writing obituaries, writers that the grief-stricken would turn to to write the obit of a lifetime.

Here’s a link to FR – FZ section of a few Wisconsin ancestral obituaries. And a little bit about the poetic character of Anton N. Freng in this short excerpt from his obituary:


Anton Nilson Freng was born in Brottom, Norway, on July 31, 1852, and died at his home in South Valley, town of Summer, on November 6, 1933, having lived 81 years, three months and six days. He learned the painting trade under Master Erick Alm. In 1873, the family immigrated to America, stopping at Chicago for a few weeks and then making their home in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

A.N. Freng was a man of action. He served on his school district board for many years, was an organizer and director of the Osseo Canning Company, and served for thirty years as director and agent for the Pigeon Mutual Fire Insurance Company. He was secretary of the South Valley church for the past 45 years.

Mr. Freng was the leader in his community. He was endowed with more than ordinary amount of common sense and courage. His neighbors depended upon his counsel. He was a man of sterling character. He had a kind and jovial disposition. He was loved and respected by all who knew him well. His oft repeated phrase, “Another of our old and venerable pioneers has gone to his well-earned rest” has again come true, and may we add that the greatest of them all has gone.

Coming from a foreign country at the age of 21, not knowing a world of English and having had but little schooling, he rose to heights and power unsurpassed by many who had much greater advantages. He was great because he had ability, because he was honest and sincere. He expended his energies in the right direction, for the betterment and advancement of his community and country. The world is better for his having lived.

      -Written by J. Reese Jones. THE WHITEHALL TIMES – NOVEMBER 15, 1933

 


Mr. Ghoul, Casket Arts Building, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Pumpkin Man, Casket Arts Building, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Mr. Ghoul, & Pumpkin Man, Casket Arts Building, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.





Any takers? There’s nothing boring about death and dying folks. And for an extra special treat, visit Heather’s blog, Anuvue Studio. She goes crazy every Halloween with all things wild and wonderful.



Happy Halloween. Happy Day Of The Dead. Happy Samhain.





     Casket Arts Glow, Halloween at the Casket Arts Building, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Ghoulish Toast, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2006, photo © 2006-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.String Theory, Halloween at the Casket Arts Building, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


-posted on red Ravine, Friday, October 31st, 2008

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Monkey face (also known as cat face or humpback; official name Araneus gemma), Jim found this large Orb Weaver spider in our yard in the Rio Grande Valley, October 19, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.









oh humpback spider
so ugly you are pretty
now leave me alone








here kitty kitty
tabby or a calico?
what strange eyes you have








Em wrote this haiku:


monkey face spider
spooky creepy and crawly
a halloween fright













NOTE: A search on “monkey face spider” will also turn up this and this. However, I did validate that the spider Jim found in our yard is, in fact, a “monkey face” spider.

According to Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, the A. gemma is “sometimes called the ‘cat-face’, ‘monkey-face’ or ‘humpback’ spider since it has a pattern of dark markings and raised areas on its back that seem face-like. Females of this spider are generally rounded with angular ‘shoulders’ and can reach a size exceeding a quarter. They make webs in undisturbed corners, often near porch lights, and are often found in late August and September around the eaves of houses… A. gemma hides in dark corners at the edge of the web during the day. She remains in contact with the web via a ‘trap-line’ thread that signals when insects have been ensnared.”

Jim found this spider under a cropping of overgrown juniper bushes. It was a large spider but not nearly as large as the Orb Weaver pictured in recent post Reflections On My Love Of Fall.




-related to post: haiku (one-a-day)

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Day Of The Dead Birthday Celebration, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Day Of The Dead Birthday Celebration, detail of Halloween bouquet, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


We went out to dinner at Mysore Cafe in Uptown to celebrate a friend’s birthday last night. It was All Souls’ Day, day after All Saints’ Day, and both days following the Celtic rooted celebration of Halloween. The Indian vegetarian buffet was hearty and we stayed until closing, laughing, singing, telling stories, and chanting. (Yes, chanting.)

The highlight of the celebration was when we broke into Happy Birthday To You a total of 9 times over the course of the evening. There was the Traditional melody (1) when we picked the birthday girl up at her house. (She slipped into the car, and we slipped into harmony.)

Then there was the celebratory, we-found-a-parking-spot-right-in-front-of-the-restaurant Happy Birthday (2). Followed by the Marilyn Monroe to JFK, soft-puckered-lips Happy Birthday (3) before we got out of the car. We sang the Traditional version again after dinner (4), and (at the special request of the birthday girl), the low toned, Gregorian Chant Happy Birthday (5) filled the room right before we left the restaurant.

We spontaneously broke into Happy Birthday four more times on the drive home. The first was the Beatles Birthday (song) (6) when we got into the car after dinner. Then the Traditional Happy Birthday To You (7) when we pulled up in front of our friend’s house to drop her off.

There was the Johnny Depp pirate version for Halloween (8) when she got out of the car, and, as she stepped around the corner to go up to her apartment, we rolled down the windows and sang one more Traditional Happy Birthday in 4 part harmony (9). Let’s see, yeah, I think that’s 9.

We had a blast. But what I really want to say is that today, November 3rd, is the 1 Year Birthday of our first post for red Ravine. Though our blog didn’t yet have a formal name, ybonesy and I started planning and writing for red Ravine well over a year ago.

Halloween Bouquet, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Our WordPress launch date is April 7th, 2007 (and our stats only go back to April), but we’ve been at this labor-intensive, sometimes crazy, most times supportive, endeavor for well over a year. And though we have those days when it seems like too much, for the most part, after over 50,000 hits, we are going strong!


So Happy Birthday, ybonesy! It’s the one year anniversary of our formal writing for red Ravine. And if you’d like, I can see if my friends would join me across the miles in the Happy Birthday melody of your choice. (Too bad we can’t do a podcast!)


Happy Birthday, red Ravine. Long may you rock!


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

-related to posts, Back Of The Napkin & 100 Year Old Bones – The BoneWriters & RE: 100 Year Old Bones

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Day of the Dead Gathering 2, pen and ink on graph paper, doodle © 2007-2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

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Boo!, All Hallow's Eve one year ago, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo by QuoinMonkey, all rights reserved.

Boo!,  All Hallow’s Eve by the fire, one year ago, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2006, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




 

North

pumpkin-faced Milk Duds
Willy Wonka candy corn
12 tricks for a treat?


South

Dead flash toothless smiles
2 Grandmothers walk the earth
Spirits dance on fire


East

gloved hands wipe chafed lips
crooked teeth eat twisted stems
shadows swim through oaks


West

hollow frosted rose
Hunter’s Moon drops the sky
veils the Evening Star





-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

-related to posts: WRITING TOPIC – HAUNTED, The Great Pumpkin Catapult

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Halloween Tea Rose, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Halloween Tea Rose, out in the front garden, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


We worked on last minute details in the yard today. It was cool, cloudy, sunny. Bending over the 7 transplanted tea roses with the green water bucket, I noticed a distinct peripheral rush of red. A confused October tea rose was sporting a new summer bud.

We hauled wet, decaying bags of leaves to the city’s yard waste site, nabbed a geocache near an empty ball diamond, and drove home on winding country roads. An ordinary Fall Saturday. I didn’t notice the strings of cobweb until I took a closer look. It’s always good to take a closer look.

Traditionally, October is the month I feel the happiest. Something shifted this year. But tonight I count my blessings. It’s the little things. Maybe the budding Halloween tea rose with the silver thin cobwebs is not confused at all. Maybe it’s me.


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, October 27th, 2007

-related to post, PRACTICE – Fish Out Of Water – 15min

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The Great Pumpkin Catapult, Grantsburg, Wisconsin, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

The Great Pumpkin Catapult, The Lee Roberts Farm, Grantsburg, Wisconsin, October 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Yesterday Liz and I traveled out to Siren, Wisconsin with friends to check out Verne Peterson’s lifelong rock and mineral collection. It was a beautiful Fall day and the almost two hour drive flew by like a breeze. Founded in 1895, Siren used to be Syren, the Swedish word for lilac. But the Postal Department later changed it to Siren.

It took us several hours of talking rocks with Verne and perusing his vast collection before the four of us decided on the day’s catch. I ended up with a Zen piece of black and white Calcite from Busse, Iowa and a piece of Kona Dolomite so heavy I can’t lift it with one hand. When we left, the trunk was two boxes deep in rocks and minerals.

Great Pumpkin Counterweight, Grantsburg, Wisconsin, October 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. On the way home, Liz spotted The Great Pumpkin Catapult along Highway 70 near Grantsburg and the four of us stopped to check it out. For $5 you could take your shot at hitting the barrel castle in the distance with a medieval sling designed by farmer, Lee Roberts.

Lee hopped on to his rusty tractor while his son, Duane, and middle school grandson hooked up a chain to hoist the pumpkin counterweight, an old backhoe bucket full of rocks.


When the catapult was set, I braced to pull the string while my friends chanted and cheered:  P-U-MP-K-I-N, P-U-MP-K-I-N, complete with hand gestures and acrobatic bends. All at once, I yanked the white string, everyone held their breath, and the great pumpkin went flying out of the cloth sling and landed about 19 feet away from the castle, a solid miss!

8 Bundles Make A Shock, Grantsburg, Wisconsin,photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.  It was great fun. And as we were carefully choosing and buying our Halloween pumpkins at the end, Liz kept saying how Letterman should cover Lee’s Great Pumpkin Catapult on Halloween.

I can see it now, live remote from Grantsburg, Wisconsin. With the P-U-MP-K-I-N cheerleaders dancing in the wings.


Note:  the battery died on my camera about this time (after taking over 100 photos at Verne’s), so I took these 3 photographs with Liz’s Canon. Liz took more photos and detail shots of The Great Pumpkin Catapult, along with a few of Lee and Duane. If she ends up posting them on her Flickr account, I’ll add the link.

Have a great Halloween!


-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, October 14th, 2007

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The Haunting, All Hallow's Eve By The Fire, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 31st, 2006, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

The Haunting, All Hallow’s Eve By The Fire, one year ago, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 31st, 2006, photo © 2006-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Maybe it’s the time of year — Halloween and Day of the Dead nearly upon us. Nights grow longer. Frost kills the plants, and another season is put to rest.

Or maybe it’s our era, so many things to haunt us. We seem to be troubled, melancholy. Is the world crying, or is it just me?

I believe in ghosts, and not just the kind that might spook one cold, dark morning. (Who just caused the book to fall in the room next to me?)

It doesn’t take much to be haunted. Something someone told you that you can’t shake. Or something you saw. Experiences can haunt, and the specter of disease can haunt, and memories — my, how they haunt!

Is it bad to be haunted? Or is the ghost only as menacing as we allow it to be? (Remember Casper, anyone?)


In the October 1, 2007 issue of The New Yorker, Philip Roth said this about the inspiration of ghosts and haunting for his novel Exit Ghost:

‘Haunted by the past’ is a commonplace phrase because it’s a commonplace experience. Even if one is not, strictly speaking, ‘haunted’, the past is perpetually with one in the present, and the longer it grows and the further it recedes the stronger its presence seems to become. I agree with the Chekhov character who, when, in a crisis, he is reminded that ‘this, too, shall pass’, responds, ‘Nothing passes’.

What do you think of when you think of haunting and ghosts? Are you frightened? Or do you regularly revisit your old ghosts?

Write about ghosts and haunting. You can write about the ways you are haunted figuratively, or write about your real experiences with the supernatural. The topic is rich. Write more than once.

At the top of your page, write these words: I am haunted by … and then for three or so minutes list all the things that haunt you. Just like in Writing Practice, don’t stop to think about your list. Just click off each item.

When you’re finished, pick one of the “ghosts” on your list and write about it for ten minutes. Pick another and write for ten more. If you’d like, send us one of those writing practices to post on red Ravine. We’ll publish as many as we can.

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Wonder Woman Headgear - from ComicBloc.comI got a short, one page letter in the mail on Wonder Woman stationery from someone in last year’s Taos writing Intensive that inspired me to scour the world for Wonder Woman quotes.

It made me wonder if they actually remembered that writing practice I read about carrying the Golden Lasso of Truth through Missoula, Montana on Halloween, 1975, dressed in powder blue, unribbed long underwear, navy wrist bracelets, a fire red breast plate, and yellow domed headgear.

Or do they just love Wonder Woman as much as I do?

Here are the best quotes I found from DC comic books and the 1975 television series The New Original Wonder Woman with Lynda Carter. I also found The Wonder Woman Pages to be an incredible archive of information.

I’m reminded that TV, screen, and comic book scribes are writers, too.

Tawanda!

[Oh, wait, that was Fried Green Tomatoes, one of my favorite films of all time. And, yes, I’ve even eaten them!]

_____________________ 

“This is the Golden Lasso. Besides being made from an indestructible material, it also carries with it the power to compel people to tell the truth. Use it well, and with compassion.” – Queen Hippolyte (played by Cloris Leachman)

“Go in peace my daughter. And remember that, in a world of ordinary mortals, you are a Wonder Woman.” Queen Hippolyte

“Please take my hand. I give it to you as a gesture of friendship and love, and of faith freely given. I give you my hand and welcome you into my dream.” -Wonder Woman #167

“If it means interfering in an ensconced, outdated system, to help just one woman, man or child…I’m willing to accept the consequences.” -Wonder Woman #170

“What was it that John Lennon said? ‘Love is the flower you’ve got to let grow.’ Let it grow already, and quit trying to legislate it!”  -Wonder Woman #200

“Of all people, you know who I am…who the world needs me to be. I’m Wonder Woman.” -Infinite Crisis #1

 _____________________ 

And, finally, my personal favorite:

” A new journey to be started.
A new promise to be fulfilled.
A new page to be written.
Go forth unto this waiting world with pen in hand, all you young scribes,
the open book awaits.
Be creative.
Be adventurous.
Be original.
And above all else, b
e young.
For youth is your greatest weapon, your greatest tool.
Use it wisely.”

–Wonder Woman # 62 by George Perez
the scene where Vanessa Kapatelis graduates and Diana is hugging her

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

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