Monthly Archives: October 2012

Transient Billets, a True Ghostly Tale

It’s been more than a decade since I left my post at the newspaper. While there, I kept an ongoing journal in my work computer. When I left my job, I printed a copy of these random ramblings, tucked them into a folder and stuck it in my file cabinet.

Goal for 2013, clean out file cabinet.

Last week, while searching for some old Halloween art, I came across the forgotten folder. Inside, a ghostly tale which I had recently shared from memory with friends. But the one thing about memory, sometimes it becomes cobwebby and we forget the important details. And you know that old saying, the ghosts are in the details.  (Okay. I made that up.)

Anyhow, after reading my printed ramblings, I realized I had left out parts of the story.

So, grab a cup of hot cider, dim the lights, and read this ghostly tale by the glow of your computer screen….

It was November and the weather was gloomy when my sister and I arrived in Germany to visit her daughter serving in the U.S. Army. We stayed at a hotel in Giessen which is about an hour and a half drive from Frankfurt. The hotel was actually a transition house for incoming and outgoing American soldiers and their families. But originally, during W.W. II it had been occupied by German soldiers. There were tunnels beneath the hotel boarded by thick, steel doors.

Before I go on… keep in mind I knew nothing of the building’s history prior to what I’m about to tell you.

Within minutes of checking into our room, I opened the window and door, then began to burn sage to rid the small, cramped room of any negative energy (I had learned about smudging at a Native American retreat.). If some moody/cranky person (the living) previously occupied the room, I didn’t want their negative vibes to spoil our visit.

My original clay smudging bowl.

My sister and niece laughed at my quirkiness. Then my niece returned to her army base across the street while my sister and I decided to catch a cat nap before dinner. Jet lag.

That’s when I had the most peculiar dream, a dream that seemed so vivid and real. I found myself wandering along the long corridor which led to our room. There, sitting on the floor, in the small alcove in front of our door, was a young soldier dressed in a drab, green uniform and wearing military black boots. He had reddish hair and his face was solemn, almost expressionless.

I hesitated then slipped past him, making my way into the room. I shut the door, but wasn’t quick enough. The soldier pushed from the opposite side of the door as I threw all of my weight against the door from the inside. He repeatedly said, Billy. Hungry. Billy. As I struggled to keep him out, I glanced over my shoulder and saw my sister dead asleep on the twin bed. I called out for help, but it was as though she couldn’t hear my pleas. At last, just as I managed to shut the door completely and twisted the old-fahioned lock, I awoke to a sharp rap. It was my niece.

I let her in and shook off the strange dream.

Before leaving for dinner, we stopped at a pay phone in the lobby. I called my husband to let him know where we were staying in case of an emergency. When I asked my sister for the name of the hotel, she darted outside to check a sign post she had seen hidden by overgrown shrubs.

The name of the hotel….Transient Billets.

During our stay we visited places like Nuremburg and Paris. We had a great time. The morning before leaving for home, we packed our suitcases. We were joking around when all of a sudden I noticed the antique doorknob slowly moving back and forth, back and forth.

Click. Click. Click.

“Oh, someone’s here,” I said, thinking it was my niece again.

I flung the door wide ready to greet her. No one. Hmm. I looked down the long hallway and didn’t see anyone. (We were the only guests staying in that part of the building on the second floor). I found it odd since the old, wooden floorboards creaked and groaned whenever we walked across them. So, why didn’t I hear anyone coming or going?

Then, my sister fessed up. She had witnessed the doorknob jiggling back and forth several times during our stay. And each time she opened the door, no one was there.

“Remember my dream,” I reminded her. “The soldier trying to force his way into our room?”

“I don’t believe in those things,” she said as she continued to pack her suitcase.

And I dropped the subject.

Is it possible that when I opened the door and window then cleansed the room with the blessed sage that I shoved the earthbound soldier out of his space? The hungry earthbound spirit whose name I thought was Billy?

A few years later, I learned that billet is another german word for room. Billy… billets? Coincidence? Maybe. And maybe the wandering soldier just wanted to take back what belonged to him…his room.

I suppose in this ghostly encounter, my sister and I were the intruders.

Happy Halloween!

Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever had a ghostly experience you’d like to share?

Halloween Junque Journal

Next to writing, I love crafting.

So, whenever I take a mini-break from the keyboard, I search for fun and easy crafting tutorials on Youtube. I like the kind of crafts I can make in an afternoon.

This past summer, while taking a break from editing my novel, “Butterfly Hollow,” I had a blast creating these cool junque journals.

I found Tangie Baxter’s tutorial the easiest to follow. Tangie has a series of three videos starting with a Junque Journal Introduction. I love the fancy way ‘junque journal’ is spelled. Though, I’ve also seen it spelled ‘junk journal.’

So, what’s a junque journal? It’s like a junk drawer tucked away in a book. And it starts out as a composition book just like this one.

Then, with a little scrapbook paper, glue, ink, and some ribbon it’s transformed into a scrapbook/journal where you can tuck away paper ephemera such as photos, concert tickets, postcards, or anything else flat that can be glued or clipped onto a page.

Since I love Halloween, I used all of my favorite Halloween paper and created two journals. I know I’ll have fun filling them up. Junque journals also make great gifts. And with the holidays around the corner, I’ll be sharing a few more with you soon.

Here’s my Youtube video featuring both of my journals. Sorry about the rainbow discoloration in my video. My iPad acts goofy sometimes.

Do you like to make crafts? If so, what type of crafts do you like to make?

A Halloween tribute to Ray Bradbury

I don’t remember how I found out about the new writer’s group forming in our small mountain community, but I looked forward to spending Sunday afternoons with fellow wordsmiths. It was through my writing group that I learned about author Ray Bradbury presenting a lecture at the Hilton Hotel, in Lake Arrowhead, California.

Ray Bradbury. I only knew of him from reading Fahrenheit 451 in freshman English class. And our oldest son had read The Martian Chronicles several times as well as other Bradbury paperbacks.

At the lecture, as soon as Mr. Bradbury began speaking, it was as though he were talking among old friends. I was mesmerized by his storytelling, the way he spoke of his youth and his love of comic books, carnivals, and his passion for writing.

To this aspiring writer, his words sparked like magic.

Afterwards, I purchased a copy of The Halloween Tree then had Mr. Bradbury sign my book.  That day, I became a Bradbury fan.

The Halloween Tree is one of my all time favorite reads.

Here’s the blurb on the back of the book…

On Halloween night, eight  trick-or-treaters gather at the haunted house by the edge of town, ready for adventure. But when Something whisks their friend Pip away, only one man can help the boys find him. Join the sinister Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud as he takes them on an unforgettable journey through space and time, deep into the mysteries of this spookiest of all nights. Can the boys save Pip before it’s too late?

In 1993, a Hanna-Barbera animated version of The Halloween Tree narrated by Ray Bradbury and featuring the voice of Leonard Nemoy as Mounndshroud became available on VHS. To my knowledge, it’s never been released on DVD. If you find a copy, treasure it. Your best bet of finding the video is on eBay.

And during that time of year, when Halloweenistas make a beeline for the Haunted Mansion, when it becomes Jack Skellington’s house, there’s an oak in Frontierland with jack o’lanterns hanging from its branches. It’s the official Ray Bradbury Halloween Tree.

Me (Maria) in front of the Halloween Tree at Disneyland, in Anaheim, California

The oak tree is dedicated to the famous author and his beloved book.

With Ray Bradbury’s passing earlier this year, my hubby and I wanted to pay tribute to the author who loved Halloween as much as we do.

Here’s our version of The Halloween Tree.

Hubby made a long pole with a hook, wire hooks for each pumpkin, then carefully placed each one in just the right spot.

After a second trip to Target to buy more pumpkins, our Halloween Tree is completed.

At dusk, hubby flipped on the lights to our Halloween Tree. Neighbors smile as they drive by.

Santa Ana winds began to pick up and pumpkins sway as though ready to come to life.

Happy Halloween, Ray Bradbury. And thanks for everything!

Sally Bell’s art is a sweet Halloween treat!

Meet former Disneyland artist, Sally Bell.

Here are the cool Halloween art prints hubby treated me to during our recent visit to the Live Oak Canyon Pumpkin Patch, in Redlands, California. The illustrations are creations by artist Sally Bell. I can hardly wait to shop for frames, so I can display them in my work space and enjoy Halloween all year long.

Enjoy!

Headless Moon

Monster Treaters

City Witch

1313 Grimsley Lane

Late Arrivals

Headless Horseman’s Playground (Because of its size I split this one up into two pictures.)

Headless Horseman’s Playground

For more cool art by Sally Bell, you can drop by her Web site at http://www.sallykinzstudio.com

Former Disneyland artist, Sally Bell, tends to her garden where Halloween grows all year

October is the month for ghosts, goblins, candy, and fun, spooky surprises. So, meeting artist Sally Bell at the Live Oak Canyon Pumpkin Patch was a special treat for this Halloweenista.

Maria (me) with artist Sally Bell

Sally’s pumpkin-orange tresses tucked beneath her awesome witch’s hat and quirky get-up caught my eye. As soon as I stepped inside her crafty booth The Witch’s Garden, I fell under her magic spell. My gaze quickly shifted to the Halloween art sprouting all around me.

Sallys paints on gourds grown at the Pumpkin Patch, in Redlands, California

Beckoning were fantastic images of dancing skeletons, black cats, witches joy riding on broomsticks, lively haunted houses, graveyards, spooky trees, and the legendary Headless Horseman. The Halloween scenes are all captured on gourds, hat boxes, original art prints, canvas, and ATC’s (artist trading cards). And did I mention she designs cool potion bottles?

And all of her prices were in my mad-money price range, so this girl was in Halloween heaven!

Sally, who worked for Disneyland, in Southern California, as a decorator and designer inherited her passion for all things creative from her mother. While working for The Mouse, she designed window displays throughout the theme park including the store windows on Main Street U.S.A. The same windows I’ve oohed and awed over for years.

I totally love this orange cape with the blact cats!

She also designed and installed the uppermost room of the Tarzan Treehouse where her artwork can be enjoyed throughout the attraction. She even painted a picture of herself which sits on the dresser in the Gorilla Room.

“It was a fabulous creative job,” she said. “I will always love Disney.”

Sally’s other love—Halloween. She created her first haunted house when she was only twelve years old, and every October she transforms her family’s home into a haunted mansion. I mean, how cool is that?

Sally’s artistic motto—if she hasn’t done something creative, she feels the day has been wasted. A good motto to live by. Where are my sticky notes? This writer is jotting that one down and posting it by my computer.

It was fun meeting you, Sally Bell! I love your hat. And your artwork is awesome!

Stay tuned… tomorrow’s blog will feature close-ups of the artwork we purchased from  Sally Bell.

To learn more about Sally Bell and see more of her fabulous artwork, visit her at www.sallykinzstudio.com

 

Pumpkin Picking Time

Yippee! Halloween means pumpkin picking! Aside from dressing up in cool costumes and trick-or-treating, there’s nothing more fun than picking the perfect pumpkin and turning it into your very own glowing jack o’lantern.

Recently, on an early Sunday morning hubby and I ventured out to the Live Oak Canyon Pumpkin Patch nestled against hills covered in a blanket of dry Califonia brush. The farm is one of my ultra favorite places to hang out during the month of October.

I love the varieties of pumpkins and gourds grown at the farm in Redlands.

And I especially look forward to visiting the gift shop featuring unique seasonal items.

On weekends, the farm bustles with families roaming the fields of low-lying, tangled vines, searching the grounds for just the right pumpkin.

And to add to the fun, fall festivities, there’s a corn maze, life-size real monsters, hayrides, bounce houses, and a petting zoo for little ones, and so much more!

Joey and I had a great morning at the pumpkin patch!

Happy pumpkin picking everyone!

Arrrooo! Happy Howl-o-ween from Jack & Sally!

Now that our children have grown up and moved out of the house, hubby and I have enjoyed raising our canine kidlets, Jack and Sally. Though, you can’t tell by looking at them, Jack and Sally shared the same womb. Jack is the handsome spitting image of his chihuahua pop, and Sally is as cute and lovable as her terrier mom. They’ve been a part of our family for seven years, and they make us laugh as much today as they did when they first arrived at our home.

Here they are modeling the latest Halloween garb from Target.

Aw, but I wanted to be a princess.

Do I really look as pretty as peacock, Mommy?

I don’t wanna look at the camera.

Huh, treat? Okay. I’ll look at the camera, but only for a second.

Oh no! How did a skunk get into the house?

It’s s’mee, Sally!

Oh, oh! Where did Jack go? Jack! Jack!

Woof! Woof! Jack and Sally wish you all a Haunting Halloween with fun, spooky treats!