Friday, October 20, 2017

The Apparitionist

The Apparitionist-National Ghost Story Competition 

To embrace and honor the heritage of storytelling in Western North Carolina, Tryon Arts & Crafts School (TACS) is initiating this exciting National Ghost Story Competition. Winning stories will be read to an audience on Halloween evening, October 31st, 2017, 7 PM, at TACS, 373 Harmon Field Road, Tryon, NC.

Back in July I saw this announcement in a newsletter for writers and realized that a story I had written several years ago to read to my fellow campers at Wildacres Writing Workshop might be just the thing.  

The guidelines said that the story should include a ghost, spirit, paranormal activity, mysterious circumstance, or a folklore tale that could be perceived as a ghost story.  It also said that the winning stories would be selected by Jack Sholder, director of  Nightmare on Elm Street II (and many other horror films) who should know from scary.

Done. I had just the thing. I spent some time polishing it then sent it in. 

Lo and behold, on Tuesday I got a call saying that my story had won first place!  So I'll be heading to Tryon on Halloween to read "The Bargain" to an audience.  

As a matter of fact, on this blog post HERE, you can see when I first began the story, some seven years ago. 

I believe that the story in its entirety will eventually be posted on the Tryon Arts and Crafts School site -- probably after Halloween. I'll let you know when that happens.

So glad I finally finished it!.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The New Moon and the Morning Star

This was such a lovely thing to see when I sat up in bed yesterday morning. By the time I got to the living room and grabbed my camera the light was growing stronger and the moon less distinct.

Not great pictures but I had to preserve the moment -- perhaps this will inspire me to get out the paints and attempt to recreate the magic.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Me Too?

If you're on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, you've surely seen it -- the meme that urges victims of sexual assault and/or harassment to respond by posting "Me Too" in order to highlight the enormity of the problem.

Though the first Me Too campaign began years ago, this new incarnation seems to have been prompted by the Harvey Weinstein revelations.

It's been sobering, thousands and thousands of women -- and some men -- who have responded and sometimes shared their stories. One commenter suggested that if a woman didn't say Me Too, she was probably in denial.

Which got me to thinking. . .

I've never been sexually assaulted -- or even sexually harassed, as far as I can remember.  I've been very fortunate (or oblivious.) Really, the only incident that stands out is a phone call once (back when we lived in Tampa) from someone who started telling me he wanted to __ __ ___(insert common phrase for oral sex.)

I laughed and said, "____, is that you?" Because John and I had a friend back then who just might have thought that would be a funny thing to say. 

The caller was understandably taken aback. "Uh, yeah," he said, "this is ___."

And then I suddenly realized this wasn't our friend and hung up. The phone rang a few times and I ignored it. End of story.

As I said, I've been fortunate. I certainly was aware of discrimination against women and experienced it to some degree in college and as a teacher. And I had friends who suffered sexual assault or harassment. 

I think I've  always been aware of the possibility, have always had the awareness that It's Not Safe out there. Not fair, not right . . . but, ultimately, not safe.

I hope this Me Too campaign raises awareness and prompts victims to speak out at once against those offenders, as well as those who perpetrate this culture by hushing it up or dismissing bad behavior as "locker room talk" or "boys will be boys."

I hope that things will change. Weinstein has resigned from most of his posts of authority.  I'd like to see the trend continue.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Autumn Wreath

Summoning my inner Elizabeth Goodweather for a spot of wreath-making. It's been a while since I did this and this is my first time using magnolia leaves. 

The finished product was a bit clunkier than I'd like -- I should have stuck to using the smaller leaves. 

But I had fun making it with the glass gem corn I grew a few years ago and greenery from trees I planted about thirty years ago.

Note: The pumpkin is store bought. I learned my lesson there. . .


Friday, October 13, 2017

Bingeing on Mary Stewart

Mary Stewart was a favorite author of mine in my younger days. And recently I've been delving back into her quite extensive works. I'm beginning with the romantic suspense -- partly in the spirit of wondering how they hold up -- I mean, young women in peril and a hero who always appears at just the right moment . . .

I couldn't resist showing these two covers for the same book. I'm pretty sure the long gown and billowing cloak in the first isn't accurate. Might as well have had her clutching a candelabrum with all the candles aflame. The girl on the second cover is a far better representation of the typical Stewart heroine -- young, attractive, adventurous, intelligent, and very much of her time. (I wonder if these books would appeal to the current crop of young women? Probably not -- far too innocent.)

The books I remember best are from the Fifties and Sixties, though Stewart's books were still coming out in the Nineties. 
Her Arthurian books, a very different and wonderful kettle of fish, came out in the Seventies and I'll get to them when I've had enough of plucky girls in distress.

The thing I'm finding is that, in spite of the sometimes hackneyed  setups, the plots are devious and fascinating, the heroines are charming and independent, taking matters into their own capable hands and not depending on the timely arrival of the hero. Stewart is, indeed, credited with  doing away with the hapless, helpless damsel in distress by making all her heroines intelligent.  

But even if all her heroines were wimps (they're not) and all her plots totally predictable (they're not,) it would still be worth reading Stewart for her absolutely glorious descriptions of places. And what places! Provence, the Isle of Skye, a French chateau, a convent in the French Pyrenees, Greece, Northumberland, Crete, Corfu, Austria, Damascus . . .

I'll be in one of these place for the next little while -- cheering for the plucky girl.

Do any of you remember the Mary Stewart books? If so, did you have a favorite? There are many more I haven't shown -- The Ivy Tree, The Gabriel Hounds, Thornycroft, The Stormy Petrel . . .

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


This is Igor who hangs out in our bathroom. Sometimes s/he falls out of the towel I've just picked up to dry off with. Or out of my nightgown. I figure that the adrenalin rush is probably good for me.

Mostly, though, Igor just lurks . . . ignoring me and waiting for a unwary bug.

Yesterday Igor posed nicely on the scroll that hangs behind the toilet. Perhaps s/he was checking out the Edward Gorey book and the pictures of strange insects.

I've been calling this critter a wolf spider but Google searches have only confused me. Wolf spiders evidently have eight eyes bit I'm seeing only six.

Whatever sort of spider Igor is, s/he's a handsome specimen.