Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

How To Make A Mummy

What? Halloween is tommorrow and you don't have any decorations? Need a great centerpiece for your Halloween party? Have no fear, you still have time to make a mummy!

What you will need:

1. One willing person (don't worry, they won't be mummified - they will be free to walk awayfrom your mummy)

2. A few rolls of masking tape
3. Old clothing that is no longer wanted - one long-sleeved shirt and one long pair of pants
4. One pair of stockings (panty-hose), or one footy-stocking

5. One pair of old socks

6. One pair of old gloves or vinyl one-use gloves

7. Lots of newspapers

8. Scissors

9. spray paint (optional)

Now: Convince the willing person to put on the old clothing. Wrap the masking tape around the limbs, torso, and arms of the person (not tightly). The arms of the person should be straight, not bent. Carefully cut the clothing/masking tape shell off of the willing person. Stuff this shell firmly with newspaper and tape up the seams. If you want bent arms on your mummy, you can bend them during the stuffing process and use tape to help them stay bent.

The head is a little tricky. Use only one of the foot-ends of the stockings. Pull it over the willing person's head. Carfully wrap the face, leaving the nostrils open for breathing, and part of the top of the head with the masking tape. Do not wrap the entire head! You must be able to pull the stocking off of the willing person's head. The shape of the face will stay due to the masking tape. Now stuff the empty stocking head with newspaper and shape it so that it's head-like. Finish wrapping it with the masking tape. Remember to cover the nostril area.

Hands and Feet: Put gloves and socks on willing person's hands and feet. Wrap with masking tape. Remove, cutting away if necessary. Stuff hands and feet with newspaper. You will need something like a pencil to help stuff the newspaper into the fingers - you may even want to use paper towels in the fingers. It's a little easier to stuff in there, but make sure the fingers and hands and feet are stuffed well and firmly. Tape up any seams that you may have cut.

Now you must assemble your mummy. Tape the head, hands, and feet to the rest of the mummy, adding stuffing where it's needed.

Wow! Look - you have a mummy! At this point you can spray your mummy with a mummy colored spray paint - probably something not too different from the masking tape color. This helps it look aged and less like masking tape. The mummy in these pictures has not been spray-painted, although I have done it before to nice effect. This mummy shines a little in the flash of the camera - spray paint would help lessen that if that's important to you.

So get going - quick! Halloween is tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A (True) Strange and Creepy Travel Story

Welcome to my Blogapalooza Strange and Creepy Travel Story Post! There are over 30 Blogapalooza participants. You can read all of the strange, scary, and creepy travel tales by visiting travel writer Angela Nickersons's Just Go! blog and following the Blogapalooza link list. And don't forget to enter the drawing over at her site for one of three wonderful goody bags! If you like spooky tales, visit the stories, Solitude and Spirits, and Ghosts (only available until midnight, Halloween [Edit~ The time has passed and this story has now disappeared!]) over on my short story blog. Hope you encounter some hair raising tales!

My Strange and Creepy Travel Tale

One summer many years ago, my sister, a roommate of hers, and I rode our bicycles through Europe for five weeks. Our destination every night would be either a campground or a small town with an inn.

One evening while we were cycling through Germany we came into the town of Rot, which in German means red.

Actually it was Rot an der Rot, meaning the town of Rot on the River Rot. It was very small, we could have ridden into it and out again in just a few minutes. The sun was setting as we cycled into a little square where two inns sat opposite each other. We chose one, got off our bicycles, and went in to see if we could get a room for the night.

When we walked in, we could hear a lot of men having a good time in what we thought must be the common room where you could go for breakfast, or at other times for a bite to eat or something to drink. We went up to the desk. I was the only one who spoke German, so I said we were looking for a room for the night.

The woman behind the counter glanced toward the noise of the revelry, looked at us three young women in our twenties, and became stern. “No,” she said. “We have no rooms, you cannot stay here. Try across the way,” and she motioned toward the other inn across the square.

We marched across the square. The woman there didn’t seem pleased that we had been sent her way. She told us the same thing, she had no rooms and we couldn’t stay there. I asked if there was any other place to stay in the town, explaining that we were on bicycles, it was getting dark and the next town was too far to travel to that night. The woman became almost cross and told us to go to the monastery around the corner and they would put us up for the night.

We had never sought shelter in a monastery before. It seemed very medieval. We walked our bikes around the bend in the road and came to a sandy-yellow-walled monastery. We found our way into a courtyard and went up to a wooden door. There was a bell, the kind with a dangling chain to clang the clapper. We rang the bell. Nothing happened. We rang again. Nothing. We knocked. No answer.

We decided that maybe we could find a place to pitch our tent for the night. We went back to the first inn to ask where it might be okay to do this.

We entered the inn and heard again the room full of men. The woman behind the counter seemed annoyed that we had returned. I explained that the other inn had no rooms, that we had tried the monastery but no one answered the door, and that we were on bikes and couldn’t go any further that night. I asked if there was a place in town where we could pitch a tent.

No! We certainly could not pitch a tent in the town! Suddenly the woman had one room available and we must stay there. I asked her where we should put our bikes for the night. She said, “Follow me,” and grabbed a ring of keys.

We followed her out of the inn where we collected our bicycles, and around to the side door of an adjoining shop. She put a key in the door and turned it. The door opened into the back area of a butcher shop. The floor was tiled and had drains in it. There were tables for the cutting-up of meat. And there were sharp knives and hooks and cleavers hanging all over the place.

The woman told us to lean our bikes against the tables. They would be safe there for the night. Then she led us through another door and, voila! We were back in the inn.

She led us up a set of stairs. We could hear the room full of men below, the noise of their chatter taking on almost a chanting quality. The stairs ended on a spacious landing. The woman pointed to one door and indicated that it was the bathroom. Then she led us across the landing to another door.

She opened it and said sternly, “Here is your room. Stay in it and do not leave for any reason except to use the bathroom if you must.” We entered, the door closed. We were left standing there with the muffled voices of the men below drifting up to us. My sister locked the door.

The only people we had seen in this town had been the two women at the inns, both of whom seemed almost angry that we were there. Our bikes were now locked in a butcher’s shop, and we had just been told to stay in our room and not to leave it for any reason, except to use the bathroom.

My sister and her friend didn’t even leave the room to use the bathroom that night. I braved it, but didn’t linger. We heard the revelry of the men all through the night.

In the morning the woman unlocked the butcher shop and we retrieved our bicycles. We didn’t stay for breakfast or to buy any food for a picnic lunch later. We were happy to ride away, past the monastery, and leave the creepy town of Rot behind us. And we didn’t see another soul as we headed out of town.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Why We Need Darkness

Another quick break from this month's spooky posts.

Part of the reason the name of my blog is The Inconsequential Blogger is because I was feeling a little frustrated back in April when I started the blog. I felt that things that I cared deeply about were inconsequential to everyone else.

Part of my frustrations stemmed from the planning commission in my little town. I had recently attended a meeting in which they would be deciding on whether or not to install nighttime lighting on two of the baseball fields in the park next to my house. Living right next to the park of course I don’t want the lights, so I went to the meeting to voice my opinion and concerns. Among my concerns were light pollution, and the effects of artificial nighttime lighting on the wildlife in the area.

I was cut off in the middle of describing the wildlife in the park. It made me feel kind of foolish. Like I was some sort of nut or something. The lights were approved, so now little-leaguers can stay up late playing ball.

Today I felt a little bit better about my concerns and that maybe they aren’t so inconsequential, when I looked at the November issue of National Geographic that came in the mail. On the cover the “dazzling Chicago nightscape lights up the clouds but obscures the stars” in a striking photo by Jim Richardson. In large words on the cover it says, “The End Of Night - Why We Need Darkness.”

One of the concerns raised in the article was about the increasing light pollution worldwide and its very real effect on wildlife. And something else that the article brought up was that “at least one new study has suggested a direct correlation between higher rates of breast cancer in women and the nighttime brightness of their neighborhoods.”

We need darkness because we are diurnal creatures. Artificial nighttime lighting interferes with our natural circadian rhythms, and the natural feeding, reproductive, and migratory rhythms of the creatures which share our world. The article states that of all the types of pollution, light pollution is the easiest to combat through better lighting design and light curfews.

I’m sure the National Geographic article won’t sway the planning board in my little town. In fact I’m sure they don’t even remember the kooky lady who they had to cut off mid-sentence because they didn’t want to hear about wildlife in a park made for little-leaguers and soccer players. I, however, feel a little teensy bit vindicated. But I’m still sad about the lights.

Strange and Scary Travel Tales - A Wednesday Blogapalooza Event

On Wednesday I'll be participating in a Blogapalooza hosted by the Just Go! travel blog. Just Go! is a creation of travel writer, Angela Nickerson .

Those participating in the Blogapalooza will relate their strangest, scariest, or spookiest travel story. There are over 30 bloggers participating. Angela has a Blogapalooza link list up on her blog. All you have to do is visit her blog on Wednesday and click on the blogs on her list to enjoy a host of spooky, strange, and scary travel stories.

And there are goody bags! Enter for a chance to win one here on her blog on Wednesday. What's in the goody bags? Visit this post on her blog to find out what you could win.

My strange and creepy travel tale will be up on my blog on Wednesday - and it's all true! Every word of it! Stop back on Wednesday to find out if I survived =^..^=

And don't forget to read the other strange and scary travel tales posted by lots of other bloggers on that day!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Decorations

It all started when we moved into our house a little over seven years ago. Our house is the last on a dead-end street way at the back of our sub-division. I figured that I would have to lure children down to our end of the street. We had lots of moving boxes left over from the move, so with a few of them I built Hagrid's Hut:

We put it in our yard with a light shining on it and a few props and sign next to a grouping of trees nearby which said, "Forbidden Forest." I sat by the hut with a cauldron full of candy and told all of the little ghosts and witches and goblins that came by that I was Professor McGonagall and that I was handing out candy for Hagrid because he was, "away on Hogwarts business."

That little effort was a big hit and the next year as Halloween began to draw near people would ask me if Hagrid's Hut would appear again. Unfortunately it had gone the way of all used-up boxes, so I had to think of something else to do to lure the kiddies our way.

Each year we've picked a different theme and done the garage and the yard up. Our garage has been Balin's tomb from The Lord of the Rings movie, the treasure cave from Pirates of the Caribbean, Honeyduke's candy shop from Harry Potter, an Egyptian tomb, a witch's lair, and the home of a creepy old lady who kept her dead husband's casket on her table.

Here's the witch's lair - I 'magically' turned 'fun sized' candy into the regular big size in my cauldron and gave those out to the kids:

The creepy old lady with the dead husband lived next to a spooky graveyard:

Here are some 'artifacts' viewed through a hole in the Egyptian tomb's passageway:

Fog enshrouds the Shrieking Shack in our front yard (again made with boxes) - Honeyduke's was in our garage:

This year we will have a gypsy tent in our front yard. My daughter will play the violin and I will tell fortunes. The forcast for Halloween is 59 and clear. Hope they're right!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Scotch Tape X-Rays

The spooky picture at right is an x-ray of a finger made with scotch tape. Scientists have found that when you peel scotch tape from a roll, x-rays are emitted. In fact they were able to make take an x-ray of one of their fingers by peeling scotch tape.

It only happens in a vacuum though, so don't go throwing your tape away.
You can read more about it here.
Scientists are thinking about how they might use this knowledge to make low-tech x-ray machines in impoverished areas.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Witchcraft and Spells - but I'm not a witch

Okay, I have resumed my spooky October posts~

In my collection can be found these two books, but I am not a witch (contrary to what my daughter may tell you at times).

These books are in my collection for research purposes. They are very interesting, full of all sorts magical information. Browsing through them can start the creative storytelling juices flowing.

I mark interesting pages and passages with sticky notes and little colored post-it flags. You never know what might be useful in a story that you might want to write.

For instance, this is from the spell book in a section about fabrics:

"Spells are cast by embellishing fabric: many traditional needle-work arts are intrinsically connected to spiritual traditions. The exquisite traditional embroidery motifs of Baltic, Hungarian, Romany and Slav women confer blessings, power, protection and fertility."

In one book I read over the summer, the author obviously was familiar with this notion. In the book, a group of women gathered once a month under the auspices of a sewing club so that they could sew, knit, crochet, and embroider the spells needed to keep what they believed were harmful fairies from entereing through hidden doorways into their world. What the leader of the group didn't know was that her own grand-daughter was half fey. The grand-daughter knew, though, and lived with the fear that her mortal-hating fairy half would show itself at some point - and worse, that it was drawing the malicious fey to their world in search of her.

Things don't turn out exactly the way you might expect in the book. It was very entertaining and I really liked the idea of these women meeting and working so hard to protect thier world with their handicraft. See, you can take a small idea and build an entertaining story around it, even if you're not a witch (which I'm not).

I'm still gathering information and letting it all whirl around in my head. Hopefully a story worth writing down will settle out eventually.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Old Farm Apples

Here’s a little break from the spooky posts this month. There are several apple trees growing wild on the edges of the park next door. The fruit of these trees is always wormy looking, although this year, one that grows in a row of brambles and trees behind an old 1800’s farmhouse and barn in the park, bore apples that were so red we were tempted to grab a few. The ones close at hand were full of holes though, so we just admired the colors until they dropped from the tree.

There is another apple tree that isn’t on my walking route, but I found it the other day when my dog and I veered from the beaten path. It’s not too far away from the barn and it’s an old thing, which leads me to think that the farm utilized its apples. It was still full of fruit. I found one that was sound and tasted it – tart, but good. There were a few wormy ones, but it looked like there were lots of sound apples too. I came back to it yesterday with hubby, doggie, bushel basket and apple picker in tow. We managed to gather about half a bushel of what looked like sound apples. It was a little less than that after sorting out the bad ones. Today I turned the hale and hardy ones into apple jelly and apple butter.

Many of those apples would have rotted on the ground. A few would have been nibbled on by deer and other critters, but I think it’s very satisfying to harvest what might have gone to waste and turn it into something to be enjoyed. We’ll send some out with Christmas gifts and keep the rest to enjoy over the coming months.

I’ll leave you with these pictures of my calendula (click on them for an eye-popping treat):

They're still blooming despite the frosty mornings:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Ghost Story for the month of October

Just for the month of October, I've posted the first chapter of the young adult novel I'm currently working on over on my other blog, Story Time Break.

The novel is aimed at boys, ages 11 and up. It has rugby, ghost hunting, and a new girlfriend who may or may not be a ghost ~ but hurry, when October's over, the story will disappear!

Click here to be taken to the first chapter of
[Edit- Too late! As October has come to an end, so has the chance to read this story. It has disappeared!]

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Graveyard Book

Here is chapter four of Neil Gaiman's new children's book, The Graveyard Book, read by the author. Why chapter four? Because it was included in a book of his short stories before he wrote the rest of The Graveyard Book. After I read it I was anxious to know what happened before and after.


You can find the complete posting of his reading of the book, chapter by chapter, at his official website, here.

Or you can look at the Oct. 1 - Oct. 9 postings on his journal blog, here, to find the chapter readings.

A Halloween Story

I entered an online Halloween story contest and my story was one of the ones selected to be published. You can read it here on the Creativity Portal website.

It's called The Dark Street.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Magical Thinking and Cornish Witchcraft

An article in the November/December issue of Archaeology Magazine talks about witchcraft in Great Britain. Recently, an archaeologist uncovered strange pits while doing work to extend a barn on her property in Cornwall. She has since brought students out to help her uncover several more pits and an ancient spring, all filled with what she believes is evidence of witchcraft spanning many centuries, including the 20th.

Many of the pits were lined with the skin (including the feathers) of a swan, on top of which were placed varying amounts of eggs almost ready to hatch, pebbles, and bird parts and claws from various types of birds. The spring was lined with quartz and contained things like nail clippings, human hair, straight pins, and small pieces of cloth. Part of a cauldron was even found.

Quoting from the article, the archaeologist, Jacqui Wood, said:

"Over the last 30 years I've been quick to dismiss ritual as an explanation for unusual archaeological finds. It usually means that the archaeologists can't think of anything better. So now it seems especially ironic that I end up with a site absolutely full of ritual."
The earliest dates for the pits are the mid-1600s. Whatever was being done here was important enough for the practitioners to risk being pointed out as witches. The 1600s were a dangerous time to be caught doing anything with a pagan tinge. It was doubly risky because swans were symbols of royalty and owned by the crown. And apparently whatever these practices meant is still important. One of the pits dates from the 1950s. It was lined with the skin of a dog and contained dog teeth and the baked jaw of a pig.

Old magic and magical thinking is still among us.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Favorite Halloween Movies

Here are some movies I like to watch when it gets to be fall-like and Halloween-y out:

Dracula with Bela Lugosi. My favorite part is the Count's reaction when he is offered a cigarette from a case with a mirror in the lid.

The Mummy with Boris Karloff. Ardeth Bay is the scariest looking mummy ever.

Arsenic and Old Lace with Cary Grant. Whenever I see fall leaves blowing down the street I think of this movie. It's lots of fun and creepy too. What's not to like about two lovable old aunts who poison lonely old gentlemen with homemade elderberry wine?

The Wolf Man with Lon Chaney Jr. My favorite thing about this movie is the old gypsy woman.

Abbot and Costello Meet the Mummy. This is an Abbot and Costello spoof of The Mummy. When I was little I thought the mummy's name was Clarence. I wondered why somebody from ancient Egypt would be called that. When I grew up and saw the movie again, I realized that the mummy's name is Claris.

Hocus Pocus. I can't put my finger on why I like this movie. Maybe it's because the witches are so funny, or because of the black flame candle, or because of Billy the (un)dead boyfriend, or Binks the cat who used to be a boy and has lived for hundreds of years. It all comes together in a very entertaining Halloween movie.

As you can see, I tend to lean toward the old classics. I also like I Married a Witch with Veronica Lake, and Bell Book and Candle with Jimmy Stewart (interestingly enough, in this movie about witches there is an actress whose real name is Hermione G., but the G doesn't stand for Granger, it stands for Gingold).

Well, Happy October to you. I'm going to watch a few of these movies this month.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What is this "cleaning the house" you speak of? I must learn your strange ways.

I haven't posted in a few days. I've been busy trying something new. I've heard a lot of talk about it over the years and I thought it was about time I jumped on the bandwagon.

What is this thing I've been trying?

It's called cleaning the house.

For the thousands of fans I have out there =^..^= who are bored looking at the same old post over and over, why don't you try visiting my other blog, Story Time Break? There are a few short stories over there if you're into that kind of thing. Here's a run-down:

Bjarn ~ Little Neddy Fairborn is far removed from the land of runes, but his ancestor, Bjarn was not - he lived and breathed there, and was up to things perhaps he shouldn't have been . But then, if he wasn't, perhaps there would have been no Neddy...

Love ~ About love and broken hearts, inspired by this John Mayer song.

Solitude and Spirits ~ I won third place in a local short story contest with this one. It's about the desert, a spirit, and one plucky woman.

The Fairy's Tale ~ This one is based on a young adult novel I wrote. In it you'll find a little Celtic myth and legend, warrior women, manticores, leshies, and, of course, fairies.

From shortest to longest, they are: Bjarn, Solitude and Spirits, Love, and then The Fairy's Tale.