Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

We hope you all had a fun and happy Halloween. We were excited all season, hoping to have trick-or-treaters for the first time since we got married, since we are living in the house now. We were not disappointed, we have had several groups of children and a few teenagers stop by for candy. I stock piled chocolate and fruit candy and yesterday Pam gave me a whole bag of individually bagged SweetTarts that the library is trying to get rid of.

We carved pumpkins at my parents' house a few nights ago. I picked out Nathan's design of the Headless Horseman and he picked out the Raven with witch silhouette that I carved. I think Nathan's looks much better.
He even carved the little face on the pumpkin the Headless Horseman is about to's so cool.
I didn't realize until I was finished carving it what was so weird about the witch part. The witche's hat is not pointed like we're used it, it's a fedora.

We even took our traditional "cat hat" picture. This year I asked Nathan to hold the cats so they would sit still for the picture.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but ravens (or crows) are HUGE this year as far as Halloween decorations go. I do not remember a year in which I have seen black birds line store shelves as "seasonal decorations" quite like this year. When I first saw them I thought it was interesting, but could not for the life of me figure out why, suddenly, ravens were "it."

Then, one day as I talked to Pam, a thought struck me and I went to Wikipedia, keeper of all knowledge, to find out. Wikipedia confirmed my theory, 200 years ago this past January, Edgar Allan Poe was born. I take a pretty gloomy view of how aware the average American is of national history (or any history).

And I have to say, a big round of applause to the American marketing industry. I was flabbergasted that someone in corporate America thought "Hey, a great American writer would be 200 years old this year, let's make the icon of his most famous poem a Halloween decoration."

After that I was determined I had to have one and my wish came true. Thanks, Mom!

I may not be a huge fan of American literature in general, but I do love Poe.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I think there's a kitchen in there!

Since April, Nathan and I have been operating with 1/2 to 3/4 of a kitchen. When we moved in, you may remember, we had neither oven nor stove and were living out of the microwave, crockpot, and griddle. Then, a friend of Nathan's gave us his old stove/oven, of which only the stove really worked.

I was happy, I could boil have no idea what it was like not being able to boil water. And the oven worked once in a while, so we were pretty happy.

The kitchen is set up so the place where the refrigerator would stand is overhung by regular-size cabinets, so we need a refrigerator that is roughly my height or a little shorter. These are a bit hard to come by, so our refrigerator was a full-size model which was in the house Nathan grew up in. At our house, it sat in the breeze way which connected our kitchen and garage. So if we needed anything out of the fridge we had to leave the kitchen and try to keep the cats in, which was sometimes a bit of a challenge.

A few months ago, Nathan's sister and brother-in-law let us know about a smaller fridge and a stove/oven just became available. We brought the appliances to the house where they sat in the garage for a few months until we had a free weekend. I am happy to report that the fridge fits under the cabinets (just barely). I celebrated this by covering it in magnets. And I attempted to make tuna casserole today and the oven...WORKS!!!

So happy!

Thursday, October 22, 2009


We are no longer living in an icebox. Our furnace was officially turned on at about 5:35 p.m. today! I was out this evening and when I got back, the living room was warm...the living room hasn't been warm in so long it took me a little while to realize what was different.

I have to say, I'm loving it!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Three Years Ago

Three years ago right now...3:17 p.m., my brand new husband and I were being chauffeured by my good friends to our wedding reception.

It has been a wonderful three years with lots of new experiences and lessons. I love you, Nathan!

This picture is from our honeymoon in Ireland.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Richard Sharpe and me...and Nathan

The rarity of this makes it worth a blog post.

Nathan and I have actually found a movie...or in this case series of movies...that we both enjoy. Bernard Cornwell has a book series about a British soldier in the Napoleonic Wars named Richard Sharpe. I love these books. I love the character and the setting and everything.

Several years ago, the BBC began making the books into a movie series. I ordered one from the library and loved it. Nathan wandered through the room a couple times while I was watching it and also took a shine to it.

It took me a while to realize they did not make the movies in the same order as the books and the movies have so little to do with the books that I don't feel bad watching movies before I get to that particular book in the series.

These days I'll order one and it will come in and we usually watch it within a day and the next day Nathan asks me to order the next one.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Life in an Ice Box

Nathan tried to turn our heat on last week. Nothing happened. I don't know quite how things got confused, but there is an east and west of our street and we live on east. The gas company seems to think we live on west. Nathan had to fax them a copy of our lease, a copy of his driver's license and a few other things to try and prove to them we do in fact live where we say we do.

It was fine not to have heat least week. It wasn't that cold. I put flannel sheets on the bed and we just dealt, mostly. It made the cats a little more cuddly, trying to absorb our heat. It's not so fine this week. While I was gone this weekend, Nathan, who probably should have gone to spend the weekend with his mom and dad, just borrowed some of their space heaters and set them up in the bedroom. Now, we have enough heat in our room, but the rest of the house is at the very least, chilly.

This is fine during the day, since I spend most of my time at my desk in the bedroom anyway, but it's doing nothing for the pile of dirty dishes in the kitchen or the pile of bills on the desk in Nathan's office.

We were told it would be anywhere from five to ten days before we had heat.

Haunted Alton Tour Kicks Haunted Macomb Tour's Butt

I love ghost them. I love the atmosphere in which they are usually told, I love the tense tingly feeling I get and the way the hairs on my neck stand up. I'm not sure whether or not I believe in ghosts, but I do know that I want to believe in them. When Nathan and I moved into the house we live in, I was fairly certain it was going to be haunted and I'm still not entirely convinced it isn't.

The unfortunate part of all this is that even though I love ghost stories, they do horrible things to my dreams. As a child one evening I watched a series of shows called Castle Ghosts of England...Ireland...Scotland. I was enthralled, I was excited, I was terrified. I went to bed that night and had the absolute worst nightmares of my life. I kid you not, I woke up crying at least twice. It was awful. I stayed away from ghost stories after that for the most part until college.

My freshman year, several girls on my floor and I saw an ad for Haunted Macomb Tours and decided that this was the perfect activity for a cold October night. In all honesty, I don't remember much of this tour. I don't remember all the places we went or the stories they told. I just know I didn't spend much of it being frightened. It was a fun way to spend an evening with friends, but that was about it.

Elizabeth's roommate was gone this past weekend and she called me a few weeks ago asking if she got tickets for the Haunted Alton Tour if I would go spend the weekend with her. If you haven't picked up on it recently from all the posts about it: I love Alton. It's a river town with a ridiculously fascinating history and my trips down there are a blast. On top of getting to see Elizabeth, I also get to hang out in Alton. I'm setting my second work of fiction there and whenever I find myself there, I do some research and learn interesting things.

Alton is also supposed to be one of the most haunted cities in the country. And given its history: 9 underground railroad stops, a Confederate Civil War prison, the death of Elijah Lovejoy, and many other incredible happenings, I wouldn't doubt it. Elizabeth is a skeptic and was really doing this for the stories (which were great) and because she knew I would like it.

We started the evening in front of a building which had at times been a private home and a hospital and now serves as apartments. The remarkable thing was that in the basement there was a "tunnel" which was a stop on the Underground Railroad. It was freezing cold that night so we were wearing sweaters and jackets and Elizabeth had the foresight to buy mittens, which I loved. Her coat had two zippered pockets in which she put her phone and wallet and kept them zipped up. We went down to the tunnel and came back out and Elizabeth said to me very quietly "My pocket is unzipped." It was the pocket with her wallet and that was the side I stood on. As her fiance pointed out over the phone, she probably just got it caught and it pulled open. I don't care, I thought it was awesome.

This was taken in the tunnel. It was dark, that's why the top of her head is missing.

We roamed all over Alton that night listening to stories, in one case which could easily induce the nightmares I was so sure I was going to have. We ended in a church in Alton which is supposed to be one of the most haunted buildings in the town. Those of us on the tour were instructed to sit in the pews and then the leader asked for two volunteers and I, of course, jumped up. Elizabeth was less excited, but came along like the good sister she is. We went into a big socializing room behind the sanctuary and the guide told us the reason he needed us there was because that room was usually particularly active and he needed us to vouch for him and so he could vouch for us when we said things were moved or different.

We took note of furniture placements and then he took us down a little hallway and stopped the doors and asked us to take note of which ones were open or closed. One was the door to the nursery, which was locked and the inside of the room was dark (there was a little window in the door.) We went back and sat in the sanctuary and he did his talk about the church history and why it was haunted and then everyone moved to the back room to look around. He asked Elizabeth and I to look around the room and go down the hallway to check things. As we were moving towards the hall way we passed through a spot which was noticeably colder than the rest of the room. I looked at Elizabeth and said "Cold" and she said "Yeah, I felt it too."

So we moved down the hallway and the first door I went to was the nusery door, which was locked when we were there with the guide. As I started to turn the handle it turned completely and the door opened. I turned to Elizabeth with eyes which, I'm sure were the size of dinner plates and she nodded and made note of the fingerprints on the window. Just then, the women's bathroom door opened and an older lady came out. I could tell Elizabeth was about to give her what for. "Are you with this tour group?" Elizabeth asked, a definite edge in her voice. "Yes," the lady responded. "Well then you need to be in that other room listening to him talk and you just scared the hell out of me." I tried not to laugh and we returned to the socializing room where Elizabeth told our guide what happened with the nursery door. "Really?" he responded. "That's never happened before. If anything happens with that door, it's usually just rattling."

We were both quite frightened at this point and Elizabeth bowed out of going into the basement. I wanted to see it, so I went. The guide gave his talk and then said, "If you want to see a floating skull I can show you one. There was a girl who took a picture and sent it to us saying she saw a skull on the wall. I said I'd try to see if I could recreate it and I did. It happens, that stone over there looks like a skull if the flash hits it right." I took a picture of it and looked at my camera. Unintentionally, I said "Oh, holy crap!" really loudly. The guide was right next to me and asked me if I captured the skull. "No, but the stone next to it looks like a face." Seriously, it looks like Abraham Lincoln. I was weirded out. The guide says "Oh, right, I forgot to say that."

Then Elizabeth and I departed, as that was the last stop of the night. As we were leaving, she told me one of the chairs in the socializing room did seem to move while she was there. She said in the beginning they were in a straight line, but when she looked back later, one was moved up a bit. She asked people there if they had sat in them and everyone said they hadn't.

She called her fiance, Eric, King of the Skeptics. She said to him, "I know most of this can probably be explained away, but there is a church in Alton that is seriously haunted." I thought that was pretty cool. And he did try to explain most of it, she said the only thing he couldn't explain was the door.

I know most of this probably seems silly to most people, but please don't deflate my enthusiasm. I love things like this, they make me happy....and terrified.

Friday, October 2, 2009

"At Your Age, You Always Know What's Usual..."

I recieved a phone call very early this morning, it was the school district I grew up in, asking me to come substitute fourth grade at in my old school. Happily, I got dressed and went in to school and got ready for the day.

I learned something about fourth graders today. They are very big into routine. I spent my entire day learning about what the class "usually does" or what the teacher "normally" lets them do. It started off with me passing their morning exercises back through the rows and one boy muttering, "This isn't how we usually do this."

I ignored it and went on with the day. I was then informed that the teacher usually lets them read in a special area at the back of the room when they are done working, which I didn't allow because I wanted things as controlled as possible. She usually reads to them right after lunch, which I didn't know so I went right into the spelling test and read to them after science.

Normally the social studies class gets to play games after they are done with their work, which I let them do at first, but then they became raucous and had to go back to their desks. Their teacher knows when to get them ready for bathroom breaks and who is supposed to pass out what at the end of the day so it does not become a free-for-all like my day did.

All in all, it was a fairly "unusual" day, for me and them.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Hecate's Holiday

Yesterday, because I couldn't wait any longer, I decorated for the upcoming Hecate's Day. Yes, our cat has a holiday dedicated entirely to her. Or at least, that's what you'd think if you saw how we got ready for it in this house. In reality most people call it Halloween and so did we before we got Hecate.

Last year for Christmas, I received an abundance of decorations which either are black cats, or have black cats on them.

This is our Halloween candy bucket for any trick-or-treaters who might come. I hope we get some this year, we never had any in Tinley Park.

I'm thankful this season only lasts a month, otherwise our cat might develop a God Complex.

You may remember this decoration from a post last year, it was gift from Elizabeth. This year, I think Hecate might be bigger than it.

Last Halloween, my mother-in-law bought me this decoration and then realize she liked it so much she went back and bought one for herself, too.

I hope everyone enjoys decorating and getting ready for Halloween in your own way. I just feel bad Hyperion doesn't have a holiday of his own.