The Dwarf* in the Closet – Little Things Mean a Lot of Fear

Imagination is a womderful gift until you hear something in the dark.

The best thing to do is to name it and then deal with what you think it is. Be it werewolf or vampire or zombie or mummy, once you identify it, you know the rules for escaping or defeating. Silver bullet, wooden stake, headshot, just run because mummies are slow. If there is something large or human size coming at you, you can easily see and hear it.

BUT – What if it’s the dwarf in the closet?

See, he is small. He can hide in small spaces. He can hide under the bed and slice your hamstring. He knocks at night just to remind you not to visit the bathroom. He steals your shiny stuff so you crouch to his level to search for it, then he attacks.

*Now I am not speaking of smaller humans, little people. Everyone is made differently and I respect that.  This is a DWARF – who should not be in this realm of all things good. Who definitely should find whatever cosmic portal he dropped through and vacate my closet and my imagination.  I picture him solidly in my  mind’s eye: He has dirty fingernails, fangs, big angry eyebrows, a corkscrew dagger at the ready.  And he has homicidal thoughts about the humans who tramp about above his crawlspace during daylight.  He is a culmination of all the “Little Things” in lore, legend, books and film that have horrified us over the years.

With Hallowe’en approaching, here are my top ten scary little things:

10. Let’s get the campy ones out of the way: Leprechaun, Children of the Corn, Village of the Damned, Dolls, Chucky from “Child’s Play”, Gremlins, Ghoulies and “It’s Alive!”

9. Resurrected Gage from Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary”.  He is a cute little guy and so beloved in the book before he “comes back”.  But the old Indian burial ground does bad things – the horror lies in both his familiar sweetness. his pallid adorable face, and his sudden adept talent for murder.

gage

8. The rage children from “The Brood”.  If you think PMS is bad, what if you literally had a baby every time you got really angry.  Nola, the lead character, is the controlling mother of disfigured, faceless manifestations of her own wrath,  Yes, they travel in a pack and she can order them to kill.

the brood

7. Annabelle the doll.  One of those “based on true experiences” stories.  Annabelle is part of the Ed & Lorraine Warren history. She is housed in a glass box in the Warren’s Occult Museum.

annabelle

6. Robert the doll – another “based on true experiences” story.  Robert is now housed the East Martello Museum.  It is said that you must ask his permission to photograph him or bad things will happen to you. I am not sharing his picture, but you can google him.

5. The puppets from “Puppet Master”.  They are savage and creative.  The franchise is endless, but I really liked the first movie and “Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge” which gives us the origin stories for the main puppets and their creator.

puppet master

4. Rumplestiltskin.  Yes he starts out all helpful.  Then he wants to steal your baby.

rumple

3. Olivia from “The Haunting of Julia” (aka “Full Circle”).  A murderous little girl died once.  But he ghost is still hanging around and would like some attention.

olivia

2. Fats the dummy from “Magic”.  Sir Anthony Hopkins is brilliant in this. His face is amazing and he is able to embody painful shyness and heartbreaking dependency on his wooden self.  The dummy is the evil mirror of Hopkins very sweet and open face.

Anthony-Hopkins-in-Magic-006

1. The serial killing dwarf from “Don’t Look Now”. The movie itself is more of a drama, but that last 8 minutes had me gripping the chair arms and I did not sleep for 3 nights. It’s the kind of linger fright where you feel like you’ve been slapped and it tingles for days.

don't look now

 

 

Animal Friends – Welcome Visitors

About 3 years ago, we gave up apartment life and rented a house in a woodsy, out-of-the-way little neighborhood called JoAnn Manor. It’s a quiet neighborhood built sometime in the late 1950’s. Most of our neighbors have been here since the 70’s, take care of their homes and plant gorgeous gardens. Nearly everyone has a dog. There are retirees and new families, and people like us who just love the idea of not being boxed in. We actually found this house with the help of my mother’s lifelong friend, Shirley, who lives around the block and is without a doubt my fairy godmother.

Now the end of the longest road, Big Hollow, ends in a large pond. This pond is home to turtles, water birds and every other creepy pond critter. As a result we are visited frequently by furry, feathery, feisty denizens that share our yard space. I thought I would introduce you to our extended wildlife family:

The rabbits:  There is an entrance to an established warren right at the foot of our giant fir tree (also known as the bird condo).  Hazel is the oldest – he is very large and grey and has been here since at least the first year we moved in.  He is obviously named after The Watership Down Hazel and seems to be the grand-daddy rabbit in the family.

Hazel and Morrissey

Heike is a younger female. She has a very distinct golden patch on the back of her neck. She is fearless and comes out during the day to feed on fruit and seeds from the birdfeeder. She has come within 2 feet of me while I was gardening and watched me for quite a while. Heike means “ruler of an estate”. And she certainly is in charge.

Morrissey is Heike’s brother.  He has a darker, bluish coat – very goth for a rabbit.  Thus Morrissey suits him.  He is not a fearless as she is, but he will follow her lead.

Morrissey

Tiny is well…tiny. I am not sure if he is Heike’s child or little brother.  He certainly has her fearlessness.

Heike & Tiny
Heike & Tiny

The crunchy heads:  We have 2 grey squirrels and a chipmunk that are here the most. The obese older squirrel is Chunk. He lives in the oak tree next to the driveway and prefers filberts. He is old and has some scarring across his back.  He is a ballsy old man squirrel.  I have caught him swinging upside down from the birdfeeder with his old grey head jammed inside gulping the seeds. The first time, I came out and yelled at him to get down.  He just looked at me and then went on gulping. I had to put a Slinky around the birdfeeder pole to keep him from eating all the seed in one day.

His little skinny brother is Slink.  Slink is lightning fast and prefers to swipe food then run away to eat.

Crunchy Head, the chipmunk travels via concrete gap near the garage door.  He will indulge in the fallen bird seed even though the birds all scold him. He is called Crunchy Head because my old dog, Doc, would try to go after him.  We also joked that when Doc was sleeping, he was dreaming of eating Crunchy Head.

Crunchy Head
Crunchy Head & Heike

Crunchy Head almost lost his life once to Natty, the Hawk.  Natty (and Natty’s lady friend) have been here more than once.  I call him Natty after Natty Bumppo (Hawkeye). He had a bit if a wrestling match with Crunchy Head in the back yard, but did not succeed in making him an entree.

Natty

The birds: The fir tree bid condo is home to many varieties of feathered neighbors.  There are the Mertzes – Fred and Ethel – the cardinal couple (who did have babies this past summer).

The yellow finches, Sonny & Cher. (We also have black and white finches).

Yellow Finches

The red house finch, Morty.

redhousefinch1

Wilson, the white woodpecker.

White Woodpecker

Harry & June, the doves.(Too flighty to stay for a picture.  They are shy.)

This is a mama turkey hen. She built her nest close-by somewhere and patrolled our back yard for a bit.  Daz went to take a nap on a warm early summer day.  He was sleeping in the chaise lounge and woke up to find her directly in his face.  He claimed she was eyeing him like a piece of corn!

turkey hen

I am so happy to share my space with these wild ones. We don’t interfere with them other than putting our birdfeed or fresh basil sometimes for the rabbits. We do not hunt ot try to frighten them. They often share their seeds and fruit peacefully and I love watching them.  It gives me a sense of family.  I can’t wait to see what next Spring brings – new birds, new bunnies, new friends.

 

 

 

 

Poetry: And the Banshee Raises Her Wail

This weekend found me full of the Halloween spirit! Decoration are up and Connor’s costume is almost done. He is going as Link from Legend of Zelda.
banshee3
I wrote this poem about 3 years ago. And yes, it is about a monster of sorts. The Bean Sidhe (or Banshee) is the messenger in Celtic legend. She is the harbinger of death or transformation, connected always to the Tuatha De’Danaan (Tribe of the Goddess Danu) and especially to the Sidhe (Fairies).
The Bean Sidhe is a monster very dear to my heart.  She is the unbridled spirit living in every woman –  the part that refuses to buckle and surrender to arbitrary rules made by others. She is that voice inside that tells us to leave a bad situation. She can only be true to her nature and call out for what is required. Transition or death.  For most of us it is transition – standing up for yourself, speaking up and speaking out, voting, protesting, making your presence known.
And when we embrace her and let her out, she is fierce. Her wail, her warning, used properly can blow open doors, frighten the people around us who may have never heard us actually speak for ourselves.  It is the voice of preservation, the clarion call that things must change – if only for you. Authentic nature will not be silenced.
Please enjoy!
banshee00
Bean Sidhe
Deeply sonorous, most defenseless
Unaware, unawake, poor man.
Red curtains shiver o’er shuttered window
Painting all the air with blood cast shapes
I sigh, next to him
Dressed in spasm of shadow from candlelight
Breath so quiet, sweet taste of camphor and kiss

Lingering like a faraway lover

For I am already gone and done
Already in the trees outside raising my wail
Already calling pale armies to raid
House and Soul
“Come down and be a good girl,” he said.
“Come down and make a home and try love
Wake before each sunrise next to me.”
And I did.
And oh the invisible cage
of his embrace
Even when he was not with me…
We built seasons, tore down dreams,
We built routine, tore down ideas.
I could not make a home with all the wild in my body
I could not constrain the savage driving my heart
So I wake before each midnight next to him
So the feral cry climbs in my body and twitches my limbs
He is all beauty–
base and innocent of the thing I am
He believes darkness only lives out in the trees
Poor man.
For when I next open my mouth,
it will be the last sound he hears.

Thank you, Tom Petty

We someone famous dies, we talk about them. Everybody talks about them. If they are like Tom Petty, mostly we just extend our gratitude that we happened to hit this mortal loop at the same time. Tom Petty had a long career and an impressive body of work – listen to the whole catalog – the texture of his work is neither glam-rock smooth like Bowie nor quite as unwashed as Mellencamp.  There’s a earthy, sexy grit to it, a forward groove, and a feeling that everything will be all right.

There are gems like “Runnin’ Down a Dream”, arguably the best driving song since Golden Earring’s “Radar Love”. “Don’t Come Around Here No More” stands out with its creepy Alice in Wonderland video. His biggest hit, “Free Fallin'” started out as a way to make fellow Wilbury Jeff Lynne laugh.

But when we praise the work of an artist, it is usually in terms of how their gifts affected us personally. What does the song mean to you? Which one got under your skin and cracked your heart wide open, leaving your brain in the dust?

“American Girl” was released in 1977.  The urban myth states that the song is about a college girl from Petty’s home of Gainesville, Florida who took LSD and jumped thinking she could fly.  I never read that part of the story til a few days ago. I’d heard the song hundreds of times, sang along, knew the words.

In the summer of 1989, on my first night in Paris, I was standing alone on a balcony at 3am. It was quiet, rainy and cool.

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My balcony at Hotel de la Cite Rougement in Paris.

 

Earlier that night, I had struck up a conversation in a cafe with a boy named Karim. He was swarthy and beautiful and looked vaguely like Jeff Healy’s drummer. We were both 20 and far from home – although he would not talk about his home. He asked if I would like to go to the Eiffel Tower.  Well, of course!  He had a car and we could be there toute de suite!

He was a very fast, very terrible driver. Worse than me when I started driver’s ed and nearly took out some trees. It was after midnight though and the streets were clear. He bolted down close alleys and jerked the gearshift. The little orange Citroen hopped and screeched. And then suddenly, there we were. We parked on the Seine side and got out. 1989 was the 100th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower (from the 1889 World’s Fair).  “100 ANS” was spelled out in lighted letters down one side. I had showed up in Paris at an auspicious time.

TE100ans

The air was heavy and sweet. And Karim kissed me and the clouds opened.  The rain drenched and pounded us, but we did not move from our place. We kissed and kissed because the moon was full and the tower was lit and the rain gods couldn’t stop us.

We both started to shiver. He drove me back to the cafe like a maniac.  Except now, he was a chilly, excited maniac. We agreed to meet for lunch in the same place. He kissed me goodnight and I didn’t want to let go, but I did.

I walked home slowly, cool insistent droplets pattering my head and hands.  Back to my hotel. Back to standing alone on the balcony.  Back to when I did everything I could just to be here.  I couldn’t help thinkin’ that there was a little more to life somewhere else. After all it was a great big world.

I stood there, stopped shivering, tasted the warmth of his kiss lemonade beer and Gauloises cigarettes.

I knew I would never see him again. Not my choice. My group was leaving for Alsace in five hours. I breathed in the night deep as I could.  God it’s so painful/something that’s so close/still so far out of reach. I wanted to make it last. Make it last all night.

I don’t play the what-if game. Life happens the way it is supposed to.  I am exactly where I need to be. Wherever Karim landed, I hope he is happy.  Whenever “American Girl” comes on, I sing along. It’s not about me, but it is. I appreciate what it means to me.

It got under my skin, cracked open my heart, left my brain in the dust for 3 minutes and 33 seconds.

Thank you, Tom Petty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art Makes Family: A Book of Love

Every year for Daz’s birthday, I try to make something original that expresses the way he makes me feel.  I made this little book for him, but I want to share it with everyone.

Art has become the catalyst for me – whether it is drawing or painting or writing or cooking or singing. It is my WD40 AND my duct tape. It smooths the edges and keeps us together. I have typed the wordss out under each picture, Please enjoy!

 

Art1

Art: noun, The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.  But what if ART is more than what we make? What if ART is what we are? What if WE are the medium – pulled together in a cohesive torrent of creative LOVE?

art2

ART brings us together in a masterpiece of the human tapestry. Our history in every language.  Our skin in every color. Our truth in every version. Our story whether small or epic.

art3

Our perspective at every angle.  Our memories at every age. Our love in every expression.

art4

We see ourselves woven and folded and part of beauty and the living tableau of ART.  We see with our eyes and mind and heart.  We feel color.  We hear texture.

art5

ART makes beauty and life and love and home. ART makes FAMILY.  Thank You for being my family, my partner and helping me create this life everyday!

Love, H.