Monday, October 31, 2011

From the Annual Party at the Nest

This Is Halloween!

Happy Hallowe'en, All! Here's to good, still weather and a ton of ToTs!
Click for the song!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Legend of the Scarecrow

An old favorite. Click on the pic to watch.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This is Just My Week. Meh.

There has been a long string of one thing after another for the past several weeks. Car problems, overwork, behind in schoolwork, etc. And now this. Please don't read on if you're grossed out by real dead things.

O.K. so remember that Hauntcast episode where I told you to pull out your props a month early so you had time to do repairs? Yeah. That just didn't happen for me. I was way too busy making stuff to sell, teaching and going to school. I really screwed myself on the whole repair thing this year! Bad ShellHawk!
"Beloved" became a rat condo since last winter, apparently. The smell was awful, but seeing the extent of the damage that had been done just made my heart sink. Oh, and then there's the disgusting part:
Why yes that is a dead rat stuck to the side of the tombstone. I'm used to gross things, but that, combined with the smell of living and dead rats was almost too much for me to bear. Did I not tell you this was just not my week?
Because I'm stubborn and stupid, I decided to try to repair her in time for our Saturday party. I have my doubts she'll be completed, but maybe some clever lighting will take care of that... So it was off to Goodwill to drop off a bunch of Mr. ShellHawk's old clothes that no longer fit because he's a svelte supermodel of a guy right now. I took a minute to see if they had a cheapie wedding gown to destroy. They did. Friend Stacy models, below. 

We cut the skirt off and hot-glued and duct-taped it to the existing body, then went to town with the monster mud. By the way, not one but two drill batteries were dead, and the drill I borrowed at first wouldn't take my mixing squirrel. Thankfully, the last one worked! I can't vouch for how long the repair will last, but I'm sure it will at least take us through Hallowe'en.
Two tone was not a good look for this, so on with the mud!

She was still wet in patches today, so I dragged her out into the sun to dry. Perhaps tomorrow I'll be able to Dryloc her. 

*sigh* Back to other work!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rule #4: Always Check Your Candy

You know what happens when you don't check your candy, right? Click the pic to watch...

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Last Jacks

Friday morning, I opened the kiln to the last jack-o'-lanterns (and one last plate) of 2011. I really had been pushing hard to get these finished in time for this last weekend up at Jack Russell Brewery, as one of them had been made with someone special in mind.

No fancy pics, really, as I literally haven't had time to take them. (I should also be working on my Power Point presentation for the Rotary Club speech I'm doing on Thursday morning, but we'll let that slide for five minutes.
The booth looked really nice this year. The banner shows up really well on my new tent. (Thanks to Guy of House Bloodthorn for another great design job on that banner!) This pic was taken Friday, before Stacy of Necrotic Creations came up with her nifty wares.
I do have to say that as a seller, while it's gratifying to hear how cute or original things are, it's more gratifying when they go home with someone! There are a couple of pieces I have that have been handled a lot, oohed and aahhed over, but put down, and they weren't high-end pieces, either.
Be that as it may, there was one very satisfied customer that came through the ol' booth yesterday. She's the owner's daughter, and I made this Jack especially as a gift for her. I know she'll keep it forever!
Clay: $10.00. Glaze: $20.00. Time spent making, firing (two seven hour cycles) and glazing: eighteen hours.

Making a Jack Skelington fan happy: priceless.

If you decide you need anything last minute from ShellHawk's Creations, use coupon code LASTJACKS2011 at checkout for a 10% discount.

ShellHawk's Creations Shop.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Favorite Ghost Stories-Mr. Macabre of Mr. Macabre’s Cerebrations

Mr. Macabre runs a delightfully southern gothic blog (Mr. Macabre's Cerebrations) that balances a dollop of twisted humor with a healthy serving of down home Hallowe'en goodness. I'm so pleased to share his ghostly experiences with you today!
I'm not psychic, let me put that to rest right now--although I wish that I was-- but for some reason, I have had many encounters from what I can only attest to as being supernatural. I don't ask that you believe in ghosts, spirits or what have you. I'm just reporting this sampling of true incidents that have happened to me in my life. You can make your own decisions about ghosts yourself.
Starting from childhood (we are talking 4 or 5 years old) I remember lying in bed watching "the changing face", for lack of a better descriptive word for it. It was a semi-transparent head that floated in my bedroom and morphed from male to female to different people. Sometimes it would be at the foot of my bed, around 6 feet from the ground, sometimes to the side. I would watch it night after night; it always stared straight ahead, never looking at me, changing faces constantly (about one every 4 or 5 seconds). For some reason, I wasn't afraid, or maybe I should have been, I don't know. I thought this was just something that I experienced, but by happenstance I was talking to a friend that told me of a little gold dancing man on his bedposts. He said he would watch him night after night and although it wasn't the changing face, it was something that he wasn't scared of, but maybe should have been. 
Fast forward to my early 20's (and no, this isn't the 1950's era as some of my friends like to tell me, I'm not that old, yet). All h-e-double hockey sticks breaks out in the paranormal. I would sit in the front yard in the swing at night and just swing by myself; it was just something that I liked to do. I would see fleeting black figures in the yard at times. More than once I observed a swirling black 'void' above our front lawn, silently turning. I would watch it for many minutes before it melted away. 
What the weirdest thing was that I was just swinging one night and I look over to my car, an 83 gold Honda station wagon. It was a figure; it looked like a corpse. Its skin was decayed and it was grinning at me, the eyes a dull glowing yellow. He had a shirt on. It looked like a gray work shirt, tattered but it buttoned up the front. He grinned as he rested his chin on the top of my car, looking right at me before disappearing. During that time I heard whispers, sometimes male, sometimes female, sometimes in chorus but definitely 'human' voices. The voices could be easily located; I could pinpoint the location from where they originated, beside the stairs, by the bush beside the carport door, any number of places. I saw streaks of light at night, in different colors, but mostly white. I could watch them through windows. I don't think that they were an illusion of any sort because I could pinpoint their proximity. I would go outside and reflex dodge when one zipped too close. Sometimes there were many, sometimes few, sometimes none. Sometimes they arced, sometimes they went straight, sometimes they were bright, sometimes they were dim. Yes, I went to the optometrist, my eyes were fine. Were they orbs that I was observing? Who knows? 
And then there were the footsteps…I could deal with apparitions but footsteps were another matter.
My brother and I were alone in the basement and we heard them the first time coming from the kitchen, through the dining room and into the den. They were heavy footsteps, like men's boots. We ran out the back door and scampered up to the next door neighbor's house and called the police, all the while keeping a close eye on the house. 7 patrol cars were in our yard in minutes and the house was thoroughly searched, from attic to under beds to closets to basement.
We had a vantage point to see every door in the house, to see if anyone came out. No one did, no one that could be seen, at least. That was NOT the last time that footsteps were heard. My mother heard them repeatedly, as did my brother and I. Sure it could have been a pipe banging…until I came home for lunch one day… 
I worked as a cashier at Piggly Wiggly one summer and my folks had taken my brother (unwillingly of course) on vacation with them to Williamsburg. I was a typical teen, 'family fun' was an oxymoron to me. I said I couldn't get off of work (lied) and got the house to myself. I came home one day for lunch and was sitting in the kitchen…alone, or so I thought. I heard the steps coming down the carpeted hall, hitting the hardwood floor and then the area rug in the foyer, muffling that one step before stepping onto the hardwood floor again, getting louder, coming to the kitchen. It was EVERYTHING I could do to stand up and look around the doorway (like a dummy, I should have gotten the #$%^ out of there) to see…nothing. Silence. No one was there. That was terrifying. But the pièce de résistance was yet to come… 
look at the lower right corner of the window by the
front door,a bright orb is there.  No flash is used.
Orb is outside the window, more on the frame of
the window. 
Orb is passing through the glass/window
frame, going inside the house.
Window pane frame can be seen around orb.
I joke about being old at times (and sometimes I feel that way) because I like to go to bed at oh, 8:30 or 9:00 and get up at 5:00 (you know the old saying, early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and an obnoxious morning person that you want to kill). Alright, I know, I'm old. But it wasn't always this way, I used to go to bed at 2 in the morning and get up at 6 or 7 and able to go all day. Those days are LONG gone. 
I remember coming home one night late and my folks were home in bed asleep. It was late, maybe 1:30 or 2 in the morning. I didn't party, never have really and I'm not able to drink alcohol (I'm allergic to sulfites, a component to a lot of alcoholic beverages, it makes my guts cramp but that's TMI, isn't it?) so I wasn't drunk and I never have done drugs (ok, smoked weed 5 times in the early 80's…had a deep philosophical conversation about Dr. Seuss and decided it wasn't for me). I had been having a strange repeating occurrence near that time…my house key was bending in my pocket. It would bend just enough to make it hard to get it into the lock and I would have to take a pair of pliers and bend it back. It was a brass Kwikset key, I couldn't bend it with my own hands, much less accidentally in my front pocket. My folks had forgotten to turn on the carport light and I was fumbling for the house key to let myself in when I heard it: Demonic tongues. The sound was by the mailbox at the end of the driveway, it was a loud, rough, old and raspy male voice speaking in an unknown language that sounded somewhat like people that speak in tongues in church, except it was guttural, snarling, and definitely evil and loud. Nothing was there to see, no one could be hiding nearby, no one could have made that sound or that language. 
Bent key or no bent key, that *$&^% key got into that lock in record time. I was shaken; I looked outward from the supposed safety of the kitchen door window.Nothing. 
For years, things quieted down, except for a couple of incidents here or there. After my grandfather died, my grandmother was scared to stay by herself so I would spend the night with her every now and then. My grandmother (and grandfather) viewed ghosts as a 'normal' part of life. My grandfather was a hellfire and damnation Independent Baptist preacher who worked for the railroad (who at about 6'4" was a VERY imposing figure) and had ghost stories that he would tell as someone would explain the weather, very matter-of-fact. "Ghost lights" that would hover above a house that foretold an imminent death was a favorite of mine. 
My grandmother was the same, she called the house one morning asking about me if I was ok; she had seen a young man dressed in "old fashioned" clothing walk down the hall, sit in a chair and disappear. I think that she said he looked at her. Ghosts were a part of my grandparents' lives. She asked me if I minded sleeping in my grandfather's room, some people minded sleeping in a 'dead man's bed' as she referred to it. I didn't care; I loved my grandmother like life itself and understood her terminology. HOWEVER…apparently my grandfather had issues with me in his bed. I had just laid down and closed my eyes (I had a light on, whaaat? I didn't want to stump my toe if I had to get up) and I heard my grandfather clear his voice plain as day in the room with me. The sound came from the left front of the bed, about 6 feet up…about as high as my grandfather was and there was no mistaking it. 
I moved to the next room. 
I casually mentioned it to my grandmother the next day. She told me that he still came by to check on her (she had what is now diagnosed as apnea which is stopping breathing in one's sleep, just like her grandson), waking her up sometimes at night by saying "Mae, you alright?".
Fast forward to 2004 and the birth of Mr. Macabre. After a fierce battle with our own unscrupulous realtor, Mrs. Macabre and I get our dream house. Big front yard, great neighborhood, good neighbors, grand back yard, perfect for us! 
Comes complete with 2 ghosts, no extra charge. 
This is when we first stepped foot in
the house with the Realtor
.  Snapped this picture in the kitchen.
Glowing balls of light showed up on photographs both indoors and out, from different cameras. We would catch the scent of a woman's perfume in the house and in the yard occasionally, just a whiff but strong. I asked my next door neighbor what kind of perfume that the lady that lived here wore and it was the exact perfume we smelled: White Shoulders. Keep in mind the house had been vacant for over eighteen months and the lady had died in a nursing home years before. We would smell pipe tobacco in the living room. It would be strong but no smoke, just the scent. I asked my next door neighbor did the man of the house smoke a pipe…the answer was yes, but was only allowed to smoke on the back porch. I guess he sneaked in and could now smoke in the living room. 
We had been moved in a bit and were still
being checked out to make sure we were
going to take good care of the house.
Oh, and did I mention that he died in the late 1960's?We heard noises on the roof at night, like walking, sometimes; sometimes it was like people gathered around up there. We dismissed it as the house settling. Strange though, it doesn't happen anymore in spite of the fact the house is older. 
Mrs. Macabre didn't believe in ghosts. There was always an explanation, even though one might not be readily available. Until one night… 
I had gone to bed early (yeah, big surprise), and it's an ordeal for me to go to bed with a CPAP machine. Once I'm down, I'm out for the count. 
About 45 minutes go by and Mrs. Macabre bursts into the bedroom,"Have you been up?!"
Groggily (and ticked off, I just had started dozing off),"No, I haven't." 
"Someone just walked down the hall! I heard heavy footsteps down the hall!" 
I smiled to myself, "It's probably just Mrs. Murtz taking a look around to make sure everything's fine." Did I mention that Mrs. Murtz was a portly woman?I went back to sleep and Mrs. Macabre went to bed a believer. 
Halloween party. Apparently, we had an
invisible party crasher.
The paranormal incidents have slowed. I didn't say stopped, I said slowed. Mrs. Macabre one day told Mrs. Murtz that everything was fine in the house and to not worry about it, we were taking good care of it. Events started to wane and I can't say I wasn't disappointed somewhat. I enjoyed the fact of living in a 'haunted' house. 
But things still happen occasionally. About a month ago we were coming in from shopping and we stepped into the door. Mrs. Macabre abruptly stopped, "Someone's' here! I heard them say 'they're back!'" I asked if it was male or female, she said it was a male voice. No radios, no television, no telephones were on. I didn't hear it but we searched the house over including the attic. And yes, you guessed it. 
Our cats sometimes chase and watch unseen objects. By itself, it's not that unusual, but there's a difference between one psycho crazy cat playing by himself when he gets good and wound up and a cat playing with something. Maybe one cat, but multiple ones doing the same thing?I can sit in the den sometimes and hear faint music and voices over the air cleaner machines. I can sometimes sit quietly, close my eyes and start to hear something like broadcasts. It hit me one day about the air cleaner, it's making a white noise. Sometimes I hear music from the 20's, sometimes western, sometimes an old radio show with people talking cheerfully but all of it old. No radios are on or televisions or any other musical device.And this is not all, just what I can remember. Then there's the Samara story ( in which a waving young woman in a black dress appears to Sausage Von Trapp and I one morning and disappears. Someone I believed tried to communicate with me at one time through an app on my iPhone ( I still have occasional visits from phantom cats gently walking on my bed ( as well as glimpses of figures in and out of doors.
As I said, I'm not clairvoyant. I'm not on a crusade to make the world believe in ghosts, this is just things that I have experienced in my life. It's probably just air currents, happenstance, coincidence, banging water pipes, overactive imaginings, or some other rational, logical explanation. After all, we are living in the 21st century, with our superior level of civilization, it would be utter nonsense of us to lower ourselves to the level of superstitious tomfoolery to believe in such poppycock as ghosts, spirits or the boogy man…Or maybe not…

Friday, October 21, 2011

Jack O'Lanterns

Never blow out a jack-o'-lantern!

Classic Beauty

This illustration always gets me in the mood for Hallowe'en! Thanks, Mr. Mugnaini.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Michael Lays Down the Rules

Click on the pic to watch.

30 Second Bunnies-Trick R Treat

As bunnies would have it! Click on the pic to watch.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rule #2 Pass Out Treats

Click to watch...

Rule #1: Always Wear a Costume!

Click the pic to watch!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Favorite Ghost Stories-Pam Morris of Labyrinth Creations

I'm so glad that Pam Morris of Labyrinth Creations took the time out of her schedule to join us at the Nest again this year! I find her ghost story offering deliciously chilling!                 

Well, I could say it was a dark and stormy night, but it wasn't. And, despite the fact that I was a mere seven and a half years old, I distinctly recall each and every little detail. It was, as a matter of fact, just a few days before Christmas. This I know because a baby brother was born the 14th of December, and he was now ensconced in the little room next door to my brother's and mine. The excitement was building as the big holiday drew near and to vent some of it, my brother and I lay in our trundle beds and I made him listen to me sing carols. (And I have the worst voice in the world so perhaps I relieved some of my holiday 'stress' but I don't think I did much for my brother's.) I finally drifted off, my voice worn out and my brother already fast asleep.
Well, I could say, "when what to my wondering eyes did appear..." but that would imply I had seen something delightfully child-like and pleasant -- that was far from the truth. No, instead I woke up in a terrible sweat, hot, uncomfortable and--scared. My eyes frantically searched the room for some reason for my distress... I found it very quickly. In the doorway, swaying gently back and forth was a VERY tall cloaked figure--the kind of tall where the individual would have to duck his head beneath the door-jam before he could straighten up again. He (I say he because I KNEW it was a he) was dressed in a muted shade of grayish white, what I now know to be a monk's robe, hooded-- just a blackness where the face should be. He said nothing. He merely stood there--just inside our room with only the slightest bit of movement and then he slowly 'floated' into our new baby brother's room.

Well, I could say I bravely sounded the alarm to my parents, but I didn't. I seemed to be voiceless and despite nearly dying of heat, I did what any sensible child would do and yanked the covers all the way up to my eyeballs. I waited. It seemed like for a very long time. And then, he floated back into our room--never coming past the doorway-- just hovering there and watching. This was repeated twice more and when he finally disappeared into the baby's room, I went for it. I gathered every ounce of my child's courage and I did it, man, I jumped out of bed, and ran screaming and yelling into my parents' room, "There's a man in Andy's room! There's somebody in there!"

Well, I could say my parents gently shushed me and told me I was just having a bad dream, a nightmare, but they didn't. My terror was so genuine, the sweat glistening off of me, my eyes wide as saucers, that my father took one look at me, jumped out of bed and ran for my brother's room. After a short time, all the lights turned on, he returned, looked at me closely and said, "Pammy, there's nothing there". And yet, he knew I had seen SOMETHING. There was no chastisement, nothing more said. (I did, however, get to spend the rest of the night in my parents' bed, safely snuggled between them.)Well, I could say that my child's imagination got the better of me, that the next day I just blew off the whole experience, but that wasn't the case. I have never had a dream or encounter even remotely like the one that night, and I am very far from childhood. No, I remain convinced that what I saw, I saw. I did indeed see a ghost.

And yet today I consider myself fortunate to have had that experience (especially since I lived to tell of it). I will never forget that extraordinary fear, the extreme terror I experienced that night. What a rush. Perhaps that's why I'm a dark and macabre artist; why I have loved Halloween for as long as I can remember and now take such delight in scaring the %#*! out of people at my little "Home Haunt". What a feeling... what a rush!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Tell-Tale Heart

It was one of my very first exposures to Edgar Allen Poe; The Tell-Tale Heart. Of course, when you're a child, you're probably not able to grasp why the narrator is a madman, or the graceful nuances of storytelling Poe used. You may even be tempted to sort of agree with the narrator, for a bit, because he sounds so reasonable.

At first. And then, the heartbeat, and the murder.
I've made a playlist of several different interpretations of this chilling tale, and one musical interpretation of which I'm fond. I hope you enjoy them! Click on the pic to watch...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Poor Mr. ShellHawk

It's been a helluva week for me, and I'm really glad to see the back end of it!

Turns out the editor of Child Style Magazine essentially got herself some free product, as I haven't yet seen the link for the "Halloween supplement" in which my tombstone salt and pepper shakers were to appear. I had to write a politely phrased nasty email, as nicer ones were ignored. When the editor got my note, she threw something up on the blog without even proofreading it. The sentence is clearly copied and pasted from the description I sent her, with several of her own words thrown in randomly at the very beginning; the sentence doesn't make sense. Lesson learned, I guess.

Thursday evening, my Explorer was acting up badly enough I knew I needed to put it in the shop. Of course, Friday is the day I go to set up at Jack Russell Farm Brewery, so when else would the car not work right? Oh, and Mr. ShellHawk had a business trip over this weekend, so there wasn't a car in our garage that was going to work for the purposes of schlepping everything up the hill for the booth. 

So Thursday night, after I get done teaching, I'm pretty stressed out. Mr. ShellHawk told me Thirsty Thursday was being held across the street, so I headed over there after I dropped my stuff at the house.

Fortunately, Mr. S. had worked out a mechanic for me with one of our other friends, and my neighbors offered their Suburban for my use. Whew! What a relief!

Now, here's the funny part.

One of the guys mentions how I need a new car or minivan or something that's going to be more dependable. Now, Mr. ShellHawk and I have been good stewards of our money and agreed that next year, we'll start to figure out what the vehicle is going to be, right? We haven't discussed budget, but we know we want to pay cash because we don't want any car payments. (Before you ask, no, I haven't sold the Dodge, yet. I haven't been able to get myself to let go, even though it hasn't run in over a year-but that's another story involving the neutral safety switch.)

Then one of the guys comes up with, "You should just buy her a hearse!"

Now, I've wanted a hearse since I was seven or eight years old, so my whole demeanor perked right up at that. 

Mr. ShellHawk's face did not light up, I'm sorry to say.

Pressing the advantage, one of the other guys says something about how a hearse would have all the cargo space I needed, and would be fine to get the dogs to and from the dog park and the vet, etc.

I said I'd sell the Dodge and the Explorer to buy a hearse.

Now, Mr. ShellHawk has had an unreasoning hatred for my Dodge Dart from day one. If I die while the Dodge is still in my possession, he'd have it towed to a junkyard immediately, in spite of the fact that (other than the neutral safety switch) it runs like a top and has a pretty new old stock set of seats. He might even take it to the desert and set it on fire. Why? I have no idea, but that's the lay of the land.

So needless to say, when he heard "sell the Dodge," he got really happy.

"Fine, but the money has to go into buying the hearse."

Neighbor V asks about the budget and he tells her. "Great," she says, "Shell, you need to start looking now that you know what your budget is!"

I smiled. "Done." I turned to the five other people there, "You're my witnesses, right? You heard him say I could get a hearse, right?" Everyone allowed as how they did hear it.

The, "Oh, shit, what did I just do?" look came over his face. He tried to rally.

"But it's got to be your everyday car." Like that's supposed to be punishment or something? Really?


At this point, all the guys start chiming in with how we've got to get the "funeral in progress" sign in the window and put a fake body in the back and drive down the carpool lane in a procession to see if the CHP has the nerve to pull me over. All of them are trying to outdo each other, and Mr. ShellHawk has got the deer-in-headlights look in his eyes. Then neighbor Dave delivers the coup de gras.

He holds his phone out to Mr. S. "Look! Here's a 1986 Cadillac hearse on Craigslist!"

We are all busting up at this point. All except Mr. S., who plaintively asks me, "Why can't you be normal?"

I told him I was like this when he married me. That probably didn't make him feel any better.

Now, funny story and good-natured ribbing aside, it's still unlikely that I will get a hearse, just because I really do like being married to Mr. ShellHawk. Neighbor V pointed out that he "got all pinched up" about it, and that it was a good idea if maybe I didn't mention it for awhile. I'm still tempted to email him for sale ads, just because I'm wired that way.
I mean, I could be driving this 1938 Packard Formal Town Car! I'm only $100,000 short on my budget!

As for Mr. ShellHawk, it occurs to me that though I'm sure to make him comfort food and have a martini waiting for him when I know he's had a rough day, he still has to put up with some pretty odd things from me. Poor guy.

Update: Official words this morning, October 17th: "If you buy a hearse, I will kill you. It's completely impractical!"

*disappointed sigh*

I may have to get a "real job" for awhile to buy one. It might even be worth going back to that horrible feeling that my soul is being killed inch by inch. Not to mention the horrible florescent lights and the weird, repetitive conversations...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ghost Song...

Click on the pic to watch. 

Image via World of Ghosts.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Jack and Ape Snuggle

I understand that Jack was quite impressed with Ape's ghost costume.

Thanks, Patrick! It's beautiful!

Favorite Ghost Stories- Mike C. of The Skull and Pumpkin

Making Hallowe'en is such thirsty work, isn't it? Let's all head down to the pub and see what Mike is serving up at The Skull and Pumpkin, shall we?
When I was around 8 years old, I had two good friends living right across the street. They were two fun and pretty girls, Joanna and Denise, and their very kind but busy parents had hired a nanny named Mai, a crushingly beautiful young Japanese girl who made the best crepes, the best fried rice and told the best ghost stories I'd ever heard in my young life. Of an afternoon, especially in the summer, we'd close the curtains, turn out all the lights, and gather in the hallway with a single candle between us, and Mai would whisper her tales in her charming broken English.
The one I remember most was called 'Mujina', and Mai said it was very famous in Japan. The way she told it absolutely terrified me, not in panic but in a subtle, unsettling kind of terror I hadn't felt before. 
I cannot recall her exact words after these 35+ years, but I found the original English text as it was first told from Japan to the rest of the world by Lafcadio Hearn in his book Kwaidan. It still frightens me, and as I read it, I can easily hear Mai's voice, whispering...
 MUJINA, from Kwaidan by Lafcadio Hearn
  On the Akasaka Road, in Tokyo, there is a slope called Kii-no-kuni-zaka, which means the Slope of the Province of Kii. I do not know why it is called the Slope of the Province of Kii. On one side of this slope you see an ancient moat, deep and very wide, with high green banks rising up to some place of gardens; and on the other side of the road extend the long and lofty walls of an imperial palace.
  Before the era of street-lamps and jinrikishas [rickshaws], this neighborhood was very lonesome after dark; and belated pedestrians would go miles out of their way rather than mount the Kii-no-kuni-zaka, alone, after sunset. All because of a Mujina who used to walk there.
  The last man who saw the Mujina was an old merchant of the Kyobashi quarter, who died about thirty years ago. This is the story, as he told it:
  One night, at a late hour, he was hurrying up the Kii-no-kuni-zaka, when he perceived a woman crouching by the moat, all alone, and weeping bitterly. Fearing that she intended to drown herself, he stopped to offer her any assistance or consolation in his power. She appeared to be a slight and graceful person, handsomely dressed; and her hair was arranged like that of a young girl of good family.
  "O-jochu [young girl]," he exclaimed, approaching her, "O-jochu, do not cry like that!…Tell me what the trouble is; and if there be any way to help you, I shall be glad to help you." (He really meant what he said; for he was a very kind man.)
  But she continued to weep, hiding her face from him with one of her long sleeves.
  "O-jochu," he said again, as gently as he could, "please, please listen to me!… This is no place for a young lady at night! Do not cry, I implore you! — only tell me how I may be of some help to you!"
  Slowly she rose up, but turned her back to him, and continued to moan and sob behind her sleeve.
  He laid his hand lightly upon her shoulder, and pleaded: "O-jochu! O-jochu! O-jochu!… Listen to me, just for one little moment!… O-jochu! O-jochu!"
  Then that O-jochu turned around, and dropped her sleeve, and stroked her face with her hand; — and the man saw that she had no eyes or nose or mouth,— and he screamed and ran away.
  Up Kii-no-kuni-zaka he ran and ran; and all was black and empty before him. On and on he ran, never daring to look back; and at last he saw a lantern, so far away that it looked like the gleam of a firefly; and he made for it.
  It proved to be only the lantern of an itinerant soba-seller who had set down his stand by the road-side; but any light and any human companionship was good after that experience; and he flung himself down at the feet of the soba-seller, crying out, "Ah! — aa!! — aa!!!"…
  "Kore! kore! [Here, here]" roughly exclaimed the soba-man. "Here! what is the matter with you? Anybody hurt you?"
  "No, nobody hurt me," panted the other, "only… ah!"
  "Only scared you?" queried the peddler, unsympathetically. "Robbers?"
  "Not robbers, not robbers," gasped the terrified man… "I saw… I saw a woman — by the moat; and she showed me… Ah! I cannot tell you what she showed me!"
  "Ha! Was it anything like THIS that she showed you?" cried the soba-man, stroking his own face... which therewith became like unto an Egg—
 --- and, simultaneously, the light went out.

 Man! That sobe seller's wry, sardonic scare, his knowing entrapment of the victim, has always impressed me. I try to frighten in my haunts the way he did -- subtle, quiet, then a quick wink of recognition and a dousing of the lights, and they screeeeaaammm all night long. 
Thank you Lafcadio, and thank you very kindly, Mai. I wonder where you are now, and if you still make the best crepes and tell the greatest ghost stories to your kids' kids.
Happy Hallowe'en, all.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Making Friends

Click the pic to watch.
Happy Hallowe'en to you, too, Mike! 

New Tombstones for Your Table

 ShellHawk's Creations on Etsy.
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