Archive for October, 2012

Spooky Full Moon

on October 29, 2012 in Misc 8 Comments »

I think I finally had a ghostly experience.

How appropriate for Halloween week.

It wasn’t much anything.   In fact, I can’t cross “seeing a ghost” off my scavenger list ’cause I didn’t see anything, and I don’t wanna get into the details ’cause the  story sounds silly.  But I will tell you that something seemed to be communicating with me, and the setting was spooky in a lovely way — Cheesman Park a couple blocks from my home,  just as night was falling and a beautiful full moon was rising over the “Greek Temple” (as I call it) on the park’s hill.

See, back in the Old West days the park was a big open field where poor folks, criminals, and anyone else who couldn’t afford a tombstone was buried.  Eventually it was designated as a park, and the authorities dug up and moved the human remains elsewhere.  Inevitably they missed a few, and every once in a while groundskeepers discover a few more skeletons.

Funny thing is, once I had walked to the middle of the park, I was more paranoid about the few live humans running along the paths or walking their dogs than I was of anything supernatural.   I kept looking over my shoulder even as someone rather unearthly seemed to be keeping me friendly company.  If it weren’t for the fact that I was a woman alone in a park after dark, which isn’t a smart thing to be, I would’ve happily lingered in the moonlight and chatted away with… Well, whoever or whatever it was.  Instead, I soon went home.

Of course before I went out on my dusky walk I slipped my camping knife into my jacket pocket.  It closes up like a pocket knife, but with a flick of my thumb its spring action makes it open like a switchblade.  Very handy for us ladies.  For other occasion I could use my self-defense baton that can, with a flick of the wrist, open into a long pole — a near perfect tool for a fencer like me.

The reason I’m segueing into such tough stuff is because this last week a co-worker told me about a scary incident she had while riding a city bus.   A big offensive jerk started to harass her, and when he wouldn’t get out of her way she had to shove him.  The bus driver took over from there and the jerk got off at the next stop.

It was a minor incident, but it shook her up a little bit, and of course I’m thinking What if?  As in what if I were in that situation and the guy tried something violent, what would be my best moves?  Of course I don’t usually carry a knife or club or pepper spray with me.   Then I thought of a hat pin.

See, the weather has gotten colder and pretty much every morning and evening to and from work I have on my winter hat (small, black, quite fetching).  Today I add my silver-and-lapis-lazuli pin to it.  Doesn’t sound like much of a weapon, but I think a three-inch steel needle shoved hard into a neck or face can give an attacker pause.  It also complies with the Filipino martial art of escrima, which emphasizes using any sharp object as a weapon.

This post has taken a macabre turn, hasn’t it?  But hey, since it’s almost Halloween macabre is fitting.

Do you have any self-defense weapons of your own?  Whether for humans or ghosts or vampires or whatever…

Happy spooky week.

Finding Something

on October 22, 2012 in Misc 8 Comments »

Well, it’s not like I came across a $5 sketch at a garage sale that turned out to be an Andy Warhol original worth a couple million…

(That really happened to someone.)

And it’s not like I came across a fragment of a lost ancient gospel in a souk in Cairo…

(You’d be surprised how many priceless historical artifacts are found that way.)

But for me finding one of Long John Baldry’s earliest vinyl albums in a funky shop not far from my home is kinda like finding a small, personal holy grail for a blues singer I fell hard for back in my wayward youth.

See, I didn’t have a lot of free time this weekend, but I figured I should at least get in a practice run on that scavenger hunt I’ve written about.  What I have in mind is looking for lost, undocumented petroglyphs, lost gold and silver caches (in the American West, you’d be surprised how many legends there are), and maybe rare evidence of pioneers or Spanish soldiers.  Then there are misplaced or unidentified old documents, diaries, letters and other stuff that have turned up in the oddest places and made us rewrite history books.  Or our novels.

So yeah, it’s a fat chance that I’ll find anything of worth.  But you know I just want to have fun and some adventures, so who cares?  Anyway, when all I had was a couple hours on Sunday afternoon, I figured maybe I should just drive around and see if I got inspired.

That’s when I passed a tiny used bookstore I’d never before seen.  I went in and found in a box of books that hadn’t been shelved yet an overlooked first edition of Zane Grey’s Writers of the Purple Sage.  The clerks couldn’t sell it to me since they didn’t know how much the owner might charge.  I was just pleased I’d found it.

Then I wandered next door into Wax Tracks, a used vinyl album shop I hadn’t been in for a long time.  Lo and behold, the place had not one but two Long John Baldry albums!  One of them (It Ain’t Easy) I’d bought way back in the seventies when I was very young and visiting London.  See, John Baldry was never big in the U.S. and wasn’t very famous in Britain either, even though he was one of the first blues singers in clubs around London.  But I just plain fell in LOVE with It Ain’t Easy and played it to death.  I mean, that white man could sing the blues.  And I never, ever came across Baldry’s albums anywhere here in Colorado.

Until today.  When I proudly bought for $3 his Good To Be Alive album.

When I got home I figured I should at least check to see how rare this vinyl is. Turns out that on Amazon there are a total of 14 used ones available.  In the entire country.

Okay, so this find o’ mine sounds puny.  Doesn’t rate for a real hunt.  But for me it was fun to go out and see if anything might turn up, and I loved how something did.

Now if only I could find the lost treasure of Dead Man’s Cave…

That’s supposed to be a real place somewhere in the Sangre de Cristos mountains.

Well, I thought I’d have more to tell you about my semi-planned scavenger hunt, but my leg and hip kinda killed off any chance of me getting out this weekend and DOING something – like say, hiking off in search of artifacts.

See, since late August my left hip and leg have been off and on kinda painful.  Maybe this isn’t surprising, since I do Layla stuff like fencing, working out, and occasionally basic parkour.  But something really felt jacked, and even my chiropractor told me I should probably see an orthopod (that’s a doctor, though the word sounds like a prehistoric crustacean), or a physical therapist.  I opted for the therapist, and since seeing one my leg and hip have been better.  But yesterday and today weren’t such good days.

But now I’m hopeful that a cure is on the way.  This is because I may have discovered a big reason for the joint and tendon pain and other (really weird) symptoms.  It gets into a specific nutritional deficiency, and after doing a fair amount of research I’ve started a supplement and diet change that has already caused a couple symptoms to vanish.  It’s also possible that this deficiency is a major reason behind the pain.  A few more days of supplementation and diet changes, and I should know for sure.

I can’t tell you what a relief this is.

Anyway, since I had nothing exciting to tell you this week, it seemed that the least I could do was to leave you with one of my humble, crappy, literary poems.  Hope you enjoy today’s effort.

When writing a fictional story
It’s alright to be Stephen King gory.
You can slash zombies dead,
Shoot ghouls full of lead,
And end up in best-selling glory.

You can scribble ’bout love and addictions
When writing great pieces of fictions.
You can sparkle a vampire,
George R. Martin an empire,
Or cast paranormal afflictions.

A writer may weave a deep mystery
Or whip up romance hot and blistery,
She might rip a tight bodice,
He might Grisham a codice,
Or pen fifty shades of porn history.

No genres or rules are required
When you write what you truly desired.
Your book is your own
In its heart, flesh and bone,
And it leaves your readers inspired.

A Scavenger Hunt

on October 8, 2012 in Misc 8 Comments »

I’ve decided to create a kind of grand scavenger hunt for myself.

Well, maybe not grand, just unusual.  Within the next few months in my (rare) free time, I want to search for and find some out-there rare or strange objects and experiences.

Why? Because I need a heavy dose of fun challenges.  This is also something Layla does: she searches for important artifacts and has adventures.  Okay, so she lives in Europe and hunts there and in the Middle East, where in odd places you have to take care not to trip over ancient ruins and antiquities.  Me, I live in modern Denver. I gotta make adjustments.

Now I’m embarrassed to admit that I said in this blog a few months ago that I would be doing some kind of hunting, but then the summer broke records for heat, the forest fires were out of control, and I didn’t really PLAN to get out and do anything.  And if I don’t plan and block out time and make an effort, nothing happens.  I have a bad habit of letting time get away from me.

Therefore I am hereby dedicating a few days a month to having FUN with my kinda strange scavenger hunt.  Granted, this hunt will be a lot more official once I come up with a freakin’ LIST.  But I’ve got a few ideas, like pioneer artifacts and locating rare old maps or books, and a lost mine or treasure hunt would be great.  What I should also do is just go to some old ghost towns and see if some piece/object of history has been overlooked.  Or maybe I could search for a corporate bank CEO’s conscience (okay, that’s just cynical of me).

Oh, and I wanna find a ghostly experience too.  I know that sounds silly and as you know I’ve tried to ghost hunt before but with no luck.  But hey, it’s October and Halloween is coming up, so a spooky activity is in order.  I could check into the Stanley Hotel, but that place is booked solid for Halloween, and it’s SO expensive.

By the way, if y’all want to go on one hell of a scavenger hunt, a retired antiquities hunter living in Santa Fe NM has hidden a box with $2 MILLION worth of jewels and gold and antique stuff.  Just about all he says is that it’s in the mountains north of Santa Fe.  Which doesn’t exactly narrow things down.  He’s also written a poem that he says has several important clues, but to me it’s more confusing than illuminating.  If I can figure out those clues I’ll see if I can make the trip down there before the snowstorms come.  I could so use $2 million.

So have you ever gone on a really crazy, long-term scavenger hunt?  Got some ideas for me?

First, a quickie factoid you might like…

Zombie bees are here. And they’re real.

I am not making this up. When I first read the headline “Zombie Bees Discovered in Washington State,” I figured this was a story in The Onion.  But nope.  Turns out the zombies are honey bees that have been infected with the eggs of a parasite, which makes them “fly at night and lurch erratically” and eventually kills them.  Shades of The Walking Dead!

You know, the more I read about real-world discoveries like this, the more impressed I am with the novels and movies and TV shows with storylines that have predicted just such phenomena.

As writers you might also be interested in something my sister the hypnotherapist told me.

She’s taking a course in a new technique that emphasizes metaphors. The instructor is the same man who created it, and what he saw, after twenty years of being a nurse specializing in neurology, is that metaphors have a HUGE impact on how we think.  He’s found that at the heart of just about anyone’s problem or anyone’s image of him/herself is a metaphor.

More than we realize, our brains and especially our subconscious think in pictures. So when a patient comes to him and says he/she is depressed, this therapist doesn’t ask useless questions like, “How do you feel?” because usually the person answers with some useless adjectives.  Instead he pushes the patient to explain what he/she really means.  Finally the patient will say something like, “I feel like I’ve hit a brick wall.”  “I’m locked in a dark room.”  “I’m on a sinking ship.” Breakthrough!  With the metaphor uncovered, treatment moves forward at lightning pace.

What my sister told me reminded me of yet another reason why Shakespeare’s language is so powerful: it’s chock-a-block with metaphors.  Great example: when Romeo sees Juliet for the first time, he speaks in one metaphor after another and another.  When he and Juliet speak to each other for the first time, it’s in a sonnet that’s all metaphors.

One of my favorite book titles is Ray Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” which of course is a metaphor from Macbeth.

Then there’s the ugly side of metaphors.  I don’t want to get into gross details, but years ago I was going through a very bad, very emotional time, and the metaphor I kept using in my head literally started taking place in my body, and I ended up in the hospital.  I later read a stack of books and articles on the mind/body connection, and what psychoneuroimmunologists say (and yes, there’s a name for the specialty) is that the body can take literally what the mind is thinking metaphorically.

So tonight as I head off to bed I’m gonna tell myself that I’m floating on air, everything’s coming up roses, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.

I’d love to hear if you have a few metaphors at the center of your life or in your writing.