For your ears

Some sonic diversions for your end of the week listening…

Inspired by Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla
Illustration: Isabella Mazzanti

dearest, your heart is wounded from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

Tracks:

Flowering Vines, Unwoman | The Pomegranate, Solitude Forest | Dulcinea, Redefine my pure faith | We Are As Ghosts, Friends of Alice Ivy | Under the Fate of the Blue Moon, JILL TRACY | Wake Up Wake Up, The Groundskeepers Daughter | Control Me, Kandle | Sisterblood, Burning Leaves | Tiny Wars and Quiet Storms, Alter der Ruine | Rosebuds, White Hex | FUTURE GHOSTS, Sidewalks and Skeletons | Carpe Nacht, Espectrostatic

 

Twin Peaks Gets ’80s Synth Soundtrack Reminiscent Of Blade Runner, Miami Vice And Escape From New York

 

Hide From The Sun is a  trippy “Jodorowsky-esque take on Where The Wild Things Are”, from Swedish psych-rock band Goat and is both fantastic and groovy, in that order.

 

AR is the collective pseudonym of Autumn Richardson & Richard Skelton. “Diagrams for the Summoning of Wolves marks a stark shift in their response to environmental degradation. Their previous works (Wolf Notes, 2011; Succession, 2013) have expressed profound sadness at the ecological losses of the upland landscape of south-west Cumbria, where they have lived since 2011. They have observed the absence of deer, fell fox and wolf, whose names survive only in place-names. They have found the ghost forests of Furness in the buried pollen drifts of alder, birch and oak. The music, words and art they have created in response to these discoveries are forms of elegy, but they also offer glimmers of hope for a return…To play this music is to participate in its summoning – to become a node in a lattice of light.”

 

“His most personal album to date, The Summoner is based around the 5 stages of mourning and is made after a year of losing several close friends. Hard enough material to work on, he decided to add a 6th stage, entitled The Summoning to be able to arrive at the finalé, Acceptance.”

Currently…

Currently…

…Digging into Tenebrous Kate’s Forever Doomed ‘zine, a “tongue-in-cheek but loving look at the theme of doom” and which includes new essays and comics such as “Erotic Rites of the Nazgûl” and ‘Adventures at Maryland Deathfest” (both of which I am very keen to read!) If you enjoy Kate’s blog, which touches on all things dark, fantastical and forbidden, you’d do well to pick up a copy for yourself while they last.

 

…Sniffing my way through Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s 2014 Yule offerings. I really wanted to love Practical Occultism (“A Victorian occultist’s incense, invoking the Four Archangels: precious wildcrafted Indian frankincense with myrrh, cassia, sandarac, palmarosa, white sage, red sandalwood, elemi, and drops of star anise bound with grains of kyphi.”) But I think my favorite thus far is Chionophobia (“Fear of Snow: A suffocating, oppressive white shroud: a fragrance heavy with ice, strangled by damp oakmoss, artemisia, and muguet.”).  It’s a lightly mossy, white musk that reminds me of being 15 years old and waiting at 6AM on a cold, damp morning for my ride to school.  That’s not exactly a pleasant memory, and I loathed school, but it’s still a nice scent!

Knitting a leftovers blanket.  I’ve years and years worth of little bits and bobs of sock yarn, the amounts that were leftover from a pair of socks and that did not add up to enough to do anything useful or interesting with.  I recently stumbled upon this blanket using up these leftover bits as wee mitered squares and became inspired to do the same myself.
Knitters -  I have a favor to ask, and I don’t normally ask for favors, so I hope you will indulge me. Do you have any leftover sock yarn that you know you are never going to do anything with? I’d love to incorporate it into the leftovers blanket that I am currently working on. It would also be neat to have little pieces of friendly, generous folks knit into this thing. Er, well. That’s a little creepy. Which is just perfect for me! Do let me know! I know I am asking you to drop something in the mail, which costs a bit of postage, so I understand if it’s not something you are able to do. But if you are…I would really appreciate it, and it would make the project extra meaningful.  Drop me a note at mlleghoul AT gmail dot com if you are interested in helping out.

…Cooking all of the things!  I am not sure if I am finally shaking off the laziness and lassitude of the holidays or what, but I’m much more inclined to putter around in the kitchen than I have been the last few months.  Over the weekend I made not one – but two! – suppers -and for someone who is firm believer in dining out all weekend long because somehow she came to believe that’s what fancy people do and she likes to pretend she is fancy – that’s no small feat..  Sunday night saw us simmering Baby Lima Beans in Chipotle Broth from Heidi Swanson’s Supernatural Cooking (but you can find the recipe online here) and on Saturday we made Giada De Laurentiis’ oricchiette with mixed greens and goat cheese - which is a simple but incredibly tasty one-pot meal.  Also, both vegetarian, if you care about such things.

What are you up to these days, in your part of the world?

this, that, and the other thing (vi)

Precious Australian weirdies The No Frills Twins have released their debut single, “God Bless The Internet”.  I am probably too old to love this as much as I do, but these two really seem to get it.

“No desire to meet real people
We chat once, no need for sequel
Quick and easy, cyber mateship
No attachments, use it, ditch it

Put my head down, put my screen up
Make it seem like at night I raise my red cup
Don’t tell me I’m wasting my youth
Got my headphones in to block out the truth “

 

The vision of the skinless man as a twisted modern-day fairytale, ‘He Took His Skin Off For Me’ is an adaptation of the original short story by award-winning writer Maria Hummer. Think Margaret Atwood meets David Cronenberg.

 

Isabella Mazanti’s illustrations for Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla. I believe it is a special edition for the 200th anniversary of Le Fanu’s birthday (published October, 2014).

 

Forever Doomed includes essays and comics by Tenebrous Kate that take a tongue-in-cheek but loving look at the theme of doom. Includes the widely anticpated “Erotic Rites of
the Nazgûl.”



Mothmeister’s strange and surreal ‘Wounderland’
– a weird and wonderful universe in which the creators portray anonymous, ugly masked creatures as “a reaction against the dominant exhibitionism of the selfie culture and beauty standards marketed by the mass media.”


Björk has announced Vulnicura, her March 2015 follow-up to 2011′s Biophilia!

Fans of board games (or those trying to coax new players into a game) might find this chart helpful.

Sexts from the void, where typical sexts take a hard left turn into the abyss.

Must be something in the air – these two related items crossed my path in the same day.

Lecterings: what if Hannibal told cheesy jokes instead of implying cannibalism?

What fun! Kathack, a bookmarklet that turns any page into Katamari Damacy. Works best in text-heavy pages, like wikipedia.

Death Salon at the Mütter Museum in October 2015!  I am so there.

Headphone Commute’s year end lists are always a treat.  I always know I am going to love their selections for Watching the Snow Fall Slowly in the Moonlight.

The Valentino Pre-Fall 2015 collection is full of wonderful folk art and celestial embroidery…all quite different and very beautiful.

Chris Ovdiyenko, creator of the Oracle Mystifying Playing cards has a new Kickstarter for his latest project, a playing card deck based off of the Arcana of the Tarot. 

small kindnesses

I thought I might start 2015 by writing a bit regarding a project that I have been working with on and off over the the past few years.  I don’t think I realized it was a project until I had noticed a pattern to how I approached what I was doing and then, without setting out to do so exactly, the small project was born.  Ach! I sure can beat around the bush and ramble on, can’t I?  Well, please indulge me just a while longer, if you will.

I had a terrible time making friends when I was younger.  I just didn’t understand how people came together, connected and moved on from there to form the bonds of friendship, I suppose.  It all seemed like such a production and I didn’t know how to even initiate the process.  I started a very bad habit of giving my toys away around that time.  I figured if you give people things, then they have to like you, right? In the case of 7 year old girls it does not mean that at all, no – it only means that they keep expecting you to give them more stuff. Pretty soon my Barbie doll collection was looking awfully meager and I came to the conclusion that this just was not working for me and I closed up shop.  Around that time we moved from Ohio to Florida; this presented a new set of challenges for me and shifted my focus to other things and what do you know – once I stopped focusing on desperately getting schoolmates to like me, well, they started to like me a bit more.

I think about it though, every now and then.  Giving away beloved possessions to people you barely know – from a child’s perspective that might make good sense and as a grade-schooler I didn’t really know any better, but as an adult I still get terribly embarrassed whenever it crosses my mind. I resolved long ago to save my nice things for folks who were actually worthy of them.

One summer evening, back in 2012, I was knitting a shawl from some grey wool that resembled wispy fog and felt like low morning mists as it slipped through my fingers.  It made me think of a lovely, brilliant woman with whom I’d had some correspondence online and who I greatly admired.  I posted photos on Instagram of the finished item when I had just woven in the last stray end, and strangely enough, she was the very first person to comment on the picture.  It just sort of clicked for me right then: I think maybe I was knitting the shawl for her all along.

ladygrey

‘Clapok-tus shawl for P.

And so it has been over the last two years.  Sometimes I will start a project with no one in particular in mind, and over the course of the yarn choosing, the pattern repetition and the trances induced by midnight hypnostitches – it just comes to me.  Ah!  This shade of red would be perfect for this person’s fiery, feisty personality!  Oooh, this dark night blue would be marvelous for that incredible space babe!  Or sometimes, someone will know just the right words to say to me after my mother has died, just the perfect combination of gentle, thought provoking kindness and reflection, and I will know that the next project I am going to embark on will be a journey through mourning and forgiveness and that particular person is going to be a part of it, every step of the way. It can’t belong to anyone else but them when it is finished.

It all sounds a little silly, and maybe a little crazy, doesn’t it?  And how do I know anyway, that anyone will even want my shabby handmade things?  I do hope that everyone who has received something from me in the recent past knows that what I have given them is because they gave me something I needed first.  A moment of levity during a rotten day, a compliment, a beautiful story, a provocative thought, some small measure of kindness.

Below is a bit of a gallery of some of the projects I have worked on and subsequently sent away over the past few years.  It should be noted that a few of these are actually swaps with other creative folks, who may have sent me one of their handicrafts for one of my knits.  And it was also called to my attention that I may have started doing this long before I realized I was doing it! Lovely E. sent me a photo of a sari silk scarf that I must have knit 7-8 years ago! Wow.  I hope to continue this practice for a long while.  Thank you for not being too weirded out about it, and for your kindnesses to me over the years.

‘Fetching’ mitts for B.

10867215_10204160449905970_1905154108_n

‘Song of the Sea’ cowl for C.

edith

Sari silk scarf for E.

maika

‘Lenore’ socks for M.

10723920_1565567550332163_1659017921_n

‘Dashing’ mitts for E.

lisa

‘Hanging Gardens’ shawl for L.

 

10402763_10152937745747162_3838651948404591779_n

‘Charade’ socks for L.

laurel3

‘Celestarium’ for L.

‘Ilean’ cowl for T.

‘Herringbone’ scarf for B.

10865059_1536663339939293_835011424_n

‘Imagine When’ shawl for A.

‘Blackjack’ shawl for A.

‘Evenstar’ shawl for A.

 

 

14 things I liked in 2014

There’s been a bit of bloodletting (painful, but cathartic) on the blog in the recent past and so I think I would prefer to wrap up 2014 on a frivolous note. Here’s a hodge podge list of things I either stumbled across or that were recommended to me, in no particular order, that I ended up being pretty thrilled with this year.

1. For some time now I have noticed my skin is acting in strange and unexpected ways. The nose and forehead that use to be an oil-slicked nightmare are now dry and tight, and the once plump, moony cheeks, well…they are still plump and moony, but they are now blotchy and flaky, as well.  Wearing any sort of makeup became impossible; no matter how I exfoliated or how much I moisturized, my visage still resembled and felt like an awful, patchy mask.  The final straw was when my sister glanced over at me, did a double take and demanded “what THE HELL is wrong with your face??”

Shortly after that, quite unprompted by me, I noticed a facebook friend waxing poetic regarding a natural line of skin care over on etsy, Naturallogic.

Truly Natural, Organic Skin Care & Body Care, handmade FRESH from original recipes based on Nutrition, Holism, Plant Medicine & Ancient Practices, using Certified Organic & Wild Harvested, Food-Grade Super Foods, Phyto Nutrients, Clinically Proven Bioactives, Botanical Extracts, Enzymes & Pure Herb, Plant & Flower Oils.

Apologies for slipping into hyperbole but this stuff is nothing short of miraculous. Within a weekend my skin had completely turned around. I was beyond ecstatic. The proprietress of the shop was super helpful and helped me put together a regimen that would work for my skin type, and thoughtfully included a few extra samples as well. Note that I am *not* getting paid to say any of these things, nor am I getting any sort of free product.  Don’t I wish! Because to be completely honest, it is not inexpensive.  But it is absolutely worth it.
I actually just placed a second order to replace all of my empty bottles – this is the first time I have ever been so happy with such things that I used them all up!  Also note: I purchased the wrong toner the second time around.  I don’t mind though, because it smells incredible.
Unfortunately, despite my skin doing much better, I am still having a hard time with makeup.
I can’t find a foundation or even a BB cream (forget about concealers or powder) that won’t eventually flake up and look awful on me a few hours after I apply it. What works for you?  Any suggestions are appreciated!

2. I don’t wear lipstick often.  Maybe four times a year.  I have a horrible fear that it will migrate to my teeth and no one will tell me and I’ll be walking around all day completely unawares, with a garish crayon-toothed smile.  I also worry that with all the lip biting I do, I actually end up eating most of my lipstick, which is pretty gross if you think too long on it.
I was intrigued though, when I saw several folks wearing Limecrime’s Velveteen lip color in ‘Salem’. (It is sold out on the site, but you can also find it at Urban Outfitters and a few other places if you poke around). It’s such a unique color and it reminds me of all of my favorite parts of the 90′s – dark floral babydoll dresses, velvet chokers, stompy boots. The formula too is really lovely; it looks like a gloss, but it goes on completely matte.


3
. Last year for the holidays my beau gifted me with Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Isa Does It, which is a gorgeous book with a million wonderful vegan recipes (we are not vegan, nor even vegetarian, but we do like to experiment!) and hands down, the recipe that I have made the most is her Roasted Red Pepper Mac & “Cheese”.  It is so, so good. Make it tonight. Seriously.  You don’t even have to buy the book, here is the recipe:
http://www.theppk.com/2013/10/roasted-red-pepper-mac-cheese-video/


4, 5, and 6. (Music)

Year end find: Tetrolugosi. I’ll admit, I was already in love when I read this described as Fabio Frizzi and Riz Ortolani by way of Gary Numan and Ladytron.

Previously mentioned: Dance With The Dead. These guys create the dark, 1980s sci-fi/horror soundtrack for your life that you didn’t know you needed.

The Bombay Royale: The Island of Dr. Electrico. “…from lonesome spaghetti to surf-rock, from psychedelia to spine-bending space disco, overlaid with the voices of our protagonists The Tiger and The Mysterious Lady”.  Ah!  How can you resist that description? I couldn’t.


7, 8, 9 and 10. (Cinema)

Only Lovers Left Alive.  You’d probably be hard pressed to find a year-end list that this did not make, eh? Somber, sad, wicked, clever, impossibly elegant. All of these things. A favorite for sure, and not just for now – perhaps all time.


Byzantium
.  Another brooding, elegant vampire film, but a bit of a peculiar take on familiar lore.


The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears
. A lush, surreal, deliberately disorienting neo-giallo. the sooner you abandon hope of following the story or figuring out the plot in favor of allowing your eyeballs to be dizzied and dazzled, the better you’ll be.  The exquisite, labyrinthine apartment building made for a strange and wonderful character on it’s own.


Under The Skin. Moody and strange and mysterious. It’s difficult to say more about this one. Can you tell I am awful at reviews?  That’s really all I can tell you. That, and don’t read the book – it’s utter rubbish.

 

11, 12, 13, and 14. (Books and Literature)

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.  I read this at the very beginning of 2014 so most of the details elude me, but what I took away from it mostly is that it is a beautiful love letter to great art.  I found it an absolutely gripping, compelling read and with my attention span nowadays, that’s saying quite a bit.

Through The Woods by Emily Carroll. Beautifully designed, meticulously crafted tales of quiet, nightmarish horror.  An equally disturbing and breathtaking creation.

Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky. Bizarre, bawdy, brazen. Ridiculously good fun.

The Children of Old Leech. A Laird Barron tribute anthology full of terrifying things. whispered of in darkened forests beyond the safe comfort of firelight. Standout stories for me were “Love Songs From The Hydrogen Jukebox”, “Notes For ‘Barn In The Wild’”, “Ymir”, and “Tenebrionidae”

Bonus round, television series category!  True Detective, Penny Dreadful, Les Revenants, and Mirror Black.
Extra super bonus round!  Kimchi Furikake rice seasoning.  This stuff is amazing.

What are some of your favorite discoveries in 2014?  Do share!

The Christmas Service of the Dead

tumblr_ldrkjxkxYI1qclcde

The Christmas Service of the Dead

People say that long ago the dead held a service on the night before Christmas.  Once a woman arrived too early for Christmas service.  When she entered the church she found it lit up and full of dead people, singing:

Here we sing, our bones all bleached,
Here we sing with beautiful voice,
When shall the day of judgment come,
What yet have you to say?

The story continues on as the woman recognizes her dead sister among the congregation. Warned by her sister that she must flee, for the dead will take her life, the woman escapes, dropping her shawl behind her to confuse her cadaverous pursuers.  When the church warden comes in the next morning and puts the lights on, he spies the shawl in the empty chapel, torn almost beyond recognition.

This tale is widely spread in Europe and is extremely old, having been set in Autun, Burgandy, by Gregory of Tours in his De Gloria Confessorum.  See below for an illustrated version of the best-known Scandinavian variant of this migratory legend, “The Midnight Mass of the Dead” from Asbørnsen’s “En gammelgags juleaften” (“An Old Fashioned Christmas Eve”).  These wonderfully evocative images, full of dim shades, grim shadows and midwinter’s eerie light, were created by artist Chris Van Allsburg (JumangiThe Polar Express) and can be found in Ghosts“ volume from theTime Life Enchanted World series.  These scans are from my personal collection; higher-resolution, more detailed versions can be found here.

tumblr_ldrkdh8JXR1qclcde

tumblr_ldrklzdjPF1qclcde

tumblr_ldrkkp43Dn1qclcde

tumblr_ldrkovq6vR1qclcde

tumblr_ldrkpcguJA1qclcde

tumblr_ldrkqdDAHn1qclcde

tumblr_ldrkr6pkGW1qclcde

Wishing you peace and light in this dark, dying time of the year, and may you not be without your shawl or other talisman this winter holiday when the dead are afoot and hungry for your company.

(originally posted at After Dark In The Playing Fields)

 

Echoes of Hearts Long Silenced (pt1 &2)

Haunting favorites from 2014 still echoing ’round my skull.

Image: |DbrDbr| on flickr

Track List:

A WAR, bird | Pressure, My Brightest Diamond | Idle, Peggy Sue | Goddamn The Night, Melt | Selkie, Tori Amos | Never Wanted To Be, Sumie | Silk Road, Hannah Peel | Blind, Laura Zocca | Bronze, The Woodlands | Dust, HÆLOS | West Coast (Radio Mix), Lana Del Rey | Beast (stay hungry), Lucy Kruger & The Lost Boys | Whispering Light (Undressed), Featuring Willy Mason jescahoop | Blood I Bled, The Staves | The Refractory Wovenhand, Mirel Wagner, Oak Tree | Harvest Home, Mark Lanegan Band | Death’s Kiss, Purson | BLIND ONE, Black Mare | All Must Die, The Oath

Image by Ellen Rogers

Track List:

‘call across rooms’, grouper | Oblivion, Deaf Center | Double Bind, Rudi Arapahoe | The Land Of Grey, underhill | Monroes Stockport, Leyland Kirby | Ganz leise kommt die Nacht, Bohren und der Club of Gore | …shortwave nights, HISS TRACTS | Aphorismes MMXIV, thisquietarmy | A Winged Victory For The Sullen – Atomos VII | Emergent, Jakob | Blood In Blood Out, Roll The Dice | Stille ft. Alev Lenz, Lucy Claire | Maarten Vos, Romance | ‘brain fog’, christina vantzou | Sneeuwland, Oskar Schuster | The Vanishing, Sophie Hutchings | I, Julien Marchal | Rêverie, Endless Melancholy | Kromantik, Sóley | Lost at Sea, AEAEA (Kris Force, Anni Hogan, Jarboe, Zoe Keating, Meredith Yayanos)

This, that, and the other thing (V)

I was once accused of being overfond of “melancholy piano tinklings”. Dance With the Dead, my current aural obsession is as different from that sort of sound as you can possibly get. Think retro 80′s synth on slasher night.

 

On another music related note, John Carpetner’s Lost Themes – the iconic filmmaker/composer’s debut solo album – will be released on vinyl, CD and digitally on February 3 via Sacred Bones Records. In addition the album’s nine original tracks, the deluxe edition includes six remixes by Zola Jesus & Dean Hurley, ohGr (of Skinny Puppy), Silent Servant, Blanck Mass, JG Thirlwell and Bill Kouligas

 

The adorable trailer for Song of the Sea, from the same folks that brought us The Secret of Kells

 

I’ve been a long time admirer of the haunting ladies caught on film by photographer Andy Julia. This shot from the Carmilla editorial for LUSH magazine is beyond gorgeous.

 

These exquisite landscapes of the brain in gold, ink, dye, and metal, by neuroscientist-artist Greg Dunn, are inspired by the sumi-e style of ink wash painting.

 

Shitty horoscopes, written and illustrated by Amrit Brar, are so hilariously perfect. I should probably just get badges of the taurus ones and pin them to my clothes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello, goodbye

Not long after my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in December of 2013, she converted to Catholicism.  I can’t speak to how devout she was and it doesn’t matter to me – I believe the idea of faith and the trappings of belief and ritual gave her great comfort during her last year – so who cares if she never made it to church or attended a single mass.

And so what if she collected blingy rosaries alongside gorgeously rendered gilt-edged tarot decks in her final days- can’t a soul have room for more than one set of beliefs, more than one way for communicating with the divine? Or maybe she was hedging her bets, who knows.  Her relationship with her creator and her spirituality were no business of mine.

For as long as I can remember my mother cultivated a strange system of beliefs.  I recall, at the age of six or seven, sitting silently in a kitchen chair across a ouija board from my mother, my small hands on one edge of the planchette, her slim fingers on the other, and a phone cradled between her ear and shoulder as she chatted with a friend at the same time we were attempting to make contact with spirits.  At a very tender age I learned that my mother just didn’t do things the way other people did, I guess.  I imagine I grew up thinking if you weren’t carrying on conversations with both the dead and the living at the same time, you were probably doing it wrong.

Books on astrology and mediumship were always stacked precariously on our kitchen table; I can picture my mother’s face through a haze of smoke over breakfast as I picked at my Wheat Chex, while she thoughtfully read the paper and drank her coffee, a dangerously long ash from her cigarette dangling over the cover of a Linda Goodman title on Love Signs or perhaps something by Louise Huebner.

I grew up thinking that in every house there were hidden chest of tarot cards, that every stray slip of paper was a piece of an astrological chart, that candles and incense and yoga circles were every family’s Wednesday night. This was a huge part of the curiously fascinating, terrifyingly intense woman that my mother was in life, this yearning for hidden knowledge and a connection to a plane beyond our own.  So it only made sense to my sisters and I to honor that facet of her personality in death: with a visit to a medium, almost a year after her passing.

Welcome Center at Cassadaga

Despite the fact we had been bandying the idea back and forth for almost a year now, we were ill-prepared for this.  We realized we didn’t even have a code word.  As in, I suppose, some absurd word or phrase or inside joke that only we would understand, and we  would recognize immediately if the medium in question was the real deal if he or she were to utter it.  (Since then we have all come up with individual code words and phrases. If you intend to communicate with your loved ones from beyond the veil, I suggest that you take a moment or two to mull it over and do the same!)

Furthermore, we really didn’t even know how to go about finding a recommended spiritualist. We were terrified we were going to get a dud.  You know the kind: “I see a color…a number…a man! …or maybe a woman!” OKAY THAT’S $250 NOW SCRAM”.

Fortunately for us on the day of our intended sojourn, one of my sisters recalled a medium she visited a few years ago in Cassadaga.  “She wasn’t …too bad…?”, she offered doubtfully. And with that, we decided that not too bad was just good enough for us, and proceeded to make an appointment for later that afternoon.

I am really not sure how to talk about the afternoon that followed.  Much of it – two thirds of it, really – is not my story to tell, and that ventures into sharing -details-that-are-none-of-my-business-to-share territory. I can, however share some of my impressions of the reading.

Our medium/psychic, Birdie, lived in a small, unassuming house at the edge of the spiritualist camp -you’ll recognize it by the “Spiritual Garden” sign outside, beside the small dirt driveway which guests can park in.  The rickety screen door, wood-paneled walls and crocheted throws seemed to belong to any other older Florida home, and as we took our seats around a small desk at the rear of the house, I could hear Birdies’ husband mowing the lawn or doing related noisy things in the backyard. It was perfectly ordinary and absolutely surreal all at once.  As if on cue, the three of us giggled nervously.

Birdie seated herself, turned to us, and without missing a beat, asked “why do I see bananas?” This threw us for a bit of a loop.  Why WOULD she see bananas? It then dawned on me that my mother despised bananas (as do I! wretched fruits.) and I offered that piece of information.  Birdie seemed to take this as a sign that we were indeed talking with our mother.  I wish I had thought to ask how this all works.  I mean, was our mother’s spirit there, like an ectoplasmic parrot on Birdie’s shoulder, whispering things in her ear?  Or was it more like a crackly, static-y connection to the next world and maybe our mother made some sort of collect call? Even if I had the wherewithal to ask…how do you even ask that?  Is that too personal, or some sort of spiritualist faux-pas?  I am still pondering this.  Feel free to weigh in.

I am not too certain that I should have been concerned about any hurt feelings though, as Birdie herself was not terribly diplomatic with the messages she delivered.  Maybe it’s a “don’t shoot the messenger sort of thing”, or how you can’t be terribly upset with a translator for passing on the unintentionally rude mumblings of diplomats.  An example of this: at some point during the reading she looked at my two sisters, and then me. “You”, she said, pointing at me “you don’t seem to think as much as these other two girls do”. Well!
But the funny thing is…she isn’t wrong.

But I am jumping ahead. One of the next things that happened is that she glanced at my youngest sister, who was wearing a tee shirt that said something about Indiana and asked “why do I look at you and see California? Does that make sense?”  I don’t mean to be stereotypical, but I don’t think anyone could really look at my sister and see California; she is pale and small with shocking red hair and a penchant for historical fiction and a love for rainy afternoons. However, she has lived out in the deserts of California for the past 7 years, working as a librarian.  Birdie was spot-on. How did she know? Weird.  We had not told her anything about ourselves ahead of time, and other than showing her a picture of our mother (it was actually a 50+ year old photo of a graduation), she had nothing at all to go on.

The next 45 minutes was peppered with those sorts of instances. Birdie asked if we knew a “Sandy or a Sandra”.  Our mother, she said, was apparently spending a lot of time visiting this person. Sandy was my mother’s best friend, and they’d had a bit of a falling out in the months before she passed. Aha!  Another question: “does the name Rose or Rosemary make any sense to you?  She’s with your mother right now.”  A chill ran down my spine when I heard this, for Rosemary Denise Kelly (or Kelly Denise, I can never remember which) was my mother’s much beloved, very pampered cat, who died many years ago. It sounds silly, but whatever other nonsense or baloney we heard during the session (and there was a fair amount of it), *this* was the small thing I had been waiting to hear.  Picturing my mother with that dumb fluffy cat in the afterlife was more comforting than I could possible explain.

Another thing that she said, that gave us all a laugh, and a profound sense of relief I imagine, was when Birdie asked “did your mother ….curse a lot? I get the feeling she swore like a sailor ”  Ha! Did she ever! That was such a huge part of who she was, and if Birdie hadn’t picked up on that, I think we would have been concerned.

Our time was up before long and we silently shuffled out and drove up the road for lunch.
Over a bottle of wine at the Cassadaga hotel we discussed our thoughts.  It was nothing like any of us had expected and yet I think, each in different ways, we found a bit of peace from something we had heard.

I suspect that we were all hoping for an experience that was maybe a little more…atmospheric?  Swaying curtains and lit candles and maybe a cold spot or two, knocks on the walls, something to indicate the…presence of…something?  We’ve probably seen too many movies. I know I’ve for certain read Richard Peck’s Ghosts I Have Been too often; I was really hoping for a crazy Blossom Culp-like encounter.

Although not much changes from year to year – and I do visit Cassadaga once a year now, usually every October – we did take some time to walk around the town, to sort of decompress (it was rather nerve-wracking, at least for me) and to absorb everything we had been told and our thoughts on it. This was our first time visiting the town, all three of us together, and so we bought some tee shirts to commemorate the occasion, and I picked up a pendant that sort of looked like a cross between some far-off nebula and a really girly eye of Sauron.

Though I don’t know for certain how our mother might have felt in her final days about us consulting a medium, and if she would be able to reconcile that with her newfound love of The Lord, I do know beyond the shadow of a doubt that as a lifelong shopping addict, she would have approved of a few purchases and shiny baubles to end the day with.

something in the sky

something in the sky from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.
image: Aleksandra Waliszewska

OKAY! Here is the penultimate Christmas playlist! And by that I mean I have envisioned this soundtrack playing as we are invaded by changeling creatures from beyond the moon and it just so happens that this threat to our planet occurs during the holiday season. There actually is no Christmas music in it. Alright, I won’t lie. This is kind of anti-Christmas music.

Track list: Requiem (Intro), VHS Glitch  |  The Return, FANTASTISIZER  |  The Child (extended version), Umberto  |  Cry Havoc, Rock Action Records  |  Black Lotus, Displacer  |  War Against Machines, PERTURBATOR  |  SEQUENCER LIEBE, Sankt Otten  |  Only a dream, DANCE WITH THE DEAD  |  Zombie Workout, Vincenzo Salvia  |  Summoning The Forgotten One, Voyag3r  |  Orfada, Spirit of the Forest  | Apparitions, In Death It Ends  |  Mozart On Lsd, In A Church, With Vampires​.​., Alonewolf  |  Beyond Event Horizon, Quantum

1 2 3 6