Your Monster in Your Haunted House

happy-halloweenCreate your own haunted house.

Plan the layout, the type of rooms, the design and colours. Write about the street appeal and what people see, hear, smell and sense from out on the street.

Then, create the monster living in the house, the surprise in the centre of the maze of rooms and storytelling. What happened to create this monster and what will happen in the future? Do things get better or worse for your monster in your haunted house?

Art from: ASCII Artist.com

Message in a Bottle Delayed

messageinabottleSource: 25 Incredible Stories From The World Of Ships, Boats, And Sailors

Pretty unbelievable. One of those things you would guess as false and yet wonder if it’s just odd enough to be true.

Imagine you found (by some long chain of events) a message in a bottle from a long forgotten relative. Just as in this case,  written as he or she was dying then left to be found. You could create a whole story about how the message was left but lost and wandered around for centuries only found by some odd mixture of events. It wouldn’t need to be a message in a bottle. It could be found in a time capsule. It could have been under the floor boards of an old house being demolished. So many options to choose from or invent.

Write the story, from start to finish, all the places and people who became involved in that old message along the way.

Writing Prompts for Preschool Children

Easy ideas for preschoolers to get writing:

Would you rather…?

  • have potato chips or French fries?
  • play with a cat or a dog?
  • dance or sing?
  • climb a tree or roll in the leaves?
  • swim or skate?
  • make a cake or eat a cake?
  • jump in puddles or stay dry?
  • go to bed late or get up early?
  • have a pet mouse or a pet elephant?

What would you do if…

  • a pet lion came to visit your house?
  • you caught a giant fish?
  • you had an invisible bicycle?
  • you found a real treasure map?
  • you found a secret door?

Start storytelling by asking the children to tell you about their drawings. There’s always a story behind them, for whoever listens. How many words can they write to go along with the words they have drawn?

 

Miranda, The Ghost Next Door

miranda1I read a book about a ghost named Miranda, when I was about 12, and I’ve been haunted by it ever since. I could not remember the title, the author or anything else very helpful. But, it seems I had a lot more in my mental storage than I thought.

On impulse I searched for “Miranda ghost book” today and I found it! I was sure it was the same book as soon as I saw the book cover! I felt that connection to myself from so long ago. I remember how I felt then. A feeling of loss, sadness and the drive to never forget Miranda. I even decided I would name my first daughter, Miranda. (I never had a daughter but today I’ve read at least two other women named their daughter Miranda based on this book).

The book was written by Wylly Folk St. John and is titled The Ghost Next Door.

The best place to read more about Wylly Folk St. John was all the blog posts and photos from  Elizabeth Harper, her great-niece.

I don’t have a clear memory of the facts from the story but all the feelings are still there. Looking into the book again today the feelings are coming back, almost as fresh as the day I turned the last page when I was reading the book.

The book seems to be out of print now. Maybe the publishers thought the story had become too dated to sell. There is another edition but it lacks the illustration from Trina Schart Hyman.

wylly-folk-st-johns-obituary-pg-14wylly-folk-st-john-obituary-pg-2-used3

GoodReads: Wylly Folk St. John

GoodReads: The Ghost Next Door

Sherry Alston had never been told about her dead half-sister Miranda. So when Sherry came to visit her Aunt Judith, no one could explain the odd things that started to happen. Who was the elusive friend Sherry said she saw in the garden? Was she an imaginary playmate – or could she be the ghost of Miranda who had drowned in the pond years ago? Uncanny reminders of Miranda began to turn up – a blue rose, a lost riding whip…

Wylly Folk St. John’s house has been preserved as part of the historic preservation society.

Amazon: Wylly Folk St. John

Disney made her Secrets of the Pirates’ Inn into a TV movie. I found the full movie (1969) on YouTube.

The Dark Stories of L.M. Montgomery

amongshadowsAmong the Shadows: Tales from the darker side of L.M. Montgomery (the writer of Anne of Green Gables).

What makes a story creepy? There are obvious things like ghosts, graves, death, etc. But, what could you write without obvious creepy things?

I still think the real horror isn’t the stuff made into a typically horror movie or book but the day-to-day stuff we all but take for granted. The real horror is losing your place in the world. Losing your credit card – that flash or flush you feel when you realize you didn’t just misplace it in the house.

Horror is simple and strong at it’s best. Being chased by bloody corpses, ghosts or assorted made up monsters does not compare to the horror of getting audited for unpaid taxes, not being able to find your child in a department store, or … what?

Think of a situation which would be very dark, creepy and horrifying for you and write about it.

Where Did “Piss Poor” Come From?

Where did “piss poor” come from?

If you’re young and hip, this is still interesting.

NOW THIS IS A REAL EDUCATION

Us older people need to learn something new every day…

Just to keep the grey matter tuned up.

Where did “Piss Poor” come from? Interesting history.

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot.

And then once it was full it was taken and sold to the tannery…

If you had to do this to survive you were “Piss Poor”. But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot…

They “didn’t have a pot to piss in” and were the lowest of the low.

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn’t just how you like it, think about how things used to be.

Here are some facts about the 1500′s

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June.. However, since they were starting to smell, brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.

Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water.

The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water,

Then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children.

Last of all the babies.

By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.

Hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!”

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath.

It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof.

When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying, “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house.

This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed.

Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection.

That’s how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt.

Hence the saying, “Dirt poor.” The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery In the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing..

As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way. Hence: a thresh hold.

(Getting quite an education, aren’t you?)

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire.

Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers In the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day.

Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while.

Hence the rhyme:

“Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.”

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special.

When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off.

It was a sign of wealth that a man could, “bring home the bacon.”

They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat.

Those with money had plates made of pewter.

Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death.

This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status..

Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle,

And guests got the top, or the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky.

The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days..

Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial.

They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up.

Hence the custom; “holding a wake.”

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people.

So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave.

When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell.

Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, “saved by the bell” or was “considered a dead ringer.”

And that’s the truth.

Now, whoever said history was boring!!!

So get out there and educate someone!

Share these facts with a friend.

Inside every older person is a younger person wondering,

“What the heck happened?”

We’ll be friends until we are old and senile.

Then we’ll be new friends.

via Where Did “Piss Poor” Come From? | Green Living History.

What to do with Broken Books

book drunkardBooks get broken. Some can be repaired. Some aren’t worth repairing but could be repurposed/ upcycled instead. Book art is nice to see but, I think it needs to be practical so we aren’t just creating clutter but something useful too.

I don’t have many hard cover books these days. I miss them.

When you buy a book now it’s either a paperback or a bigger sized paperback book. Very few books are published and distributed as real hard covers any more. In stores they seem to think those big sized paperback books are the new hard cover books. They’re wrong. I think they just don’t want to reduce the price. But, do they really think we are that easily fooled?

The old hard cover books, the real hard covers, needed some extra looking after once in awhile. The old bookbinding sometimes came a bit unravelled if the book were well read many times. We would recover the book. We used wallpaper left over from a home decorating project, drawing paper from architectural drawings my Dad didn’t need any more, or plastic which was intended as drawer liners but worked very well as book covers too.

It wasn’t just book covers that took abuse. We taped up pages and made home made repairs to the book spines too. Tape wasn’t the best choice for fixing pages though. After time the tape would get yellowy and sometime after that it would eventually lose its stickiness and fall right off as if it were just an ordinary piece of plastic. I guess, by that time, it was.

Helpful Links

Books Beyond Saving Can be Upcycled

Not all old books can be saved.

Sadly I lost a few boxes full of books when the water heater tank leaked and eventually cracked down in our basement at one house. No one noticed right away. So there was water on the floor awhile. The boxes were in the same room, sitting in the water. The water was soaked up into the cardboard box and into the books.

The books on the bottom were the worst off. Some were mildewed and I wasn’t even able to pick them up due to allergies to mould and mildew. Books in the middle were water logged, thickened with wavy pages. They couldn’t be saved. No store would have taken them in trade and I couldn’t keep them due to the allergies. Most of them were past being readable anyway. Some books on the top were not too bad. But, I was so disheartened I wrote them all off.

We burned them all. At that house we had a large backyard on the edge of a small rural town. So burning out in the back garden was ok.

Burning isn’t the only option for books beyond saving. If the pages are okay still you can do a lot in creating book art. Books in bad shape can still be used, just in different ways.

Be Creative but Practical Too

I think there is one very important thing to keep in mind when we repurpose books or anything else. That is to keep the repurposing functional. Yes, a lot of the book art is cool or interesting to see, but where will it be a year from now even? Will we still like it, want to keep it and want to give it space in our home – or will it just become one more piece of stuff we have around adding to the clutter?

There should be new value added to anything we repurpose. If we are just creating mindlessly or for the joy of the moment then are we really repurposing and upcycling at all? Or are we just giving the book a temporary stay of execution?

I think it’s very important to find new uses for old things but they should actually be useful.

If you can’t fix them… repurpose them!

Why Do I Like Exploring Old Houses?

“Don’t blink. Don’t turn your back and don’t look away.” Quoted from Doctor Who.

I love Doctor Who. The stone angels episode is still my favourite for downright creepy. In spite of seeing it half a dozen times I still half crawl out of my skin at the scenes in the old house. Ironic, considering I photograph old, abandoned houses and never feel anything creepy in any of them. The worst that has happened was the time I think I stepped on a toad. (I’m still hoping I didn’t).

Animals are a challenge with exploring old houses and abandoned buildings and sites in general. I’ve been attacked by a swarm of wild honeybees, chased by all kinds of birds (from hummingbirds to turkey vultures) and cautiously walked around deep holes in the ground belonging to animals I didn’t want to see in person. People don’t give me a problem about walking around. Most are just curious. Some have given me background and history about the location, which I always appreciate hearing. The odd time someone questioned my motives, at those times I discovered the place I was photographing was derelict but not actually abandoned. It happens. People can live in a run down house and still call it home.

 What makes an old house seem creepy to you?

Phone Books are for Tourists

It is a sad thing that we seldom use our phone books any more. At least, not for their intended purpose. With the Internet as a quick source for local information (like business addresses and phone numbers) the phone book has become a large recyclable object. Sometimes an effective doorstop, child booster seat or an especially thick phone book can be added to the wood burning in the fireplace (if you have one).

It’s ironic that once the Internet was booming the phone books started dropping out of the sky. We were getting five different phone books each year at one point. The main one still being from the phone company itself. Then four others from various other sources, all companies who sold their service to local business and then promised great results. Well, who needs that many phone books in one place (one small house in my case). I did recycle all of them – without ever having used them at all.

This brings me to this past week when I was travelling to Sudbury, Ontario with my nephew and his Grandmother (my Mom). We were there for him to tour his university. Zack will be living on site and taking psychology this Fall. Anyway, I’ve been to Sudbury before. There were a couple of places I wanted to see again, like MIC (a Canadian themed restaurant). We stayed three days so I wanted to find more to do and see. Thus the phone book. I looked up all the standard things I look for (secondhand bookstores and coffee shops). Zack looked at the games stores and my Mom looked at garden centres. We each found a few places to explore. So the phone book was put to it’s intended use.

I think it is only in such a case that the phone book is still useful. Yes, we could have found the same information online and we each did have the hardware to do it. I just dislike pulling out the computer when I’m travelling. I like being less digitally inclined and having a small digital sabbatical.

Did you know that businesses can opt out of the Yellow Pages phone directory now? I wonder why they would do that. I can understand not placing a large ad but to at least have the small text ad, to at least be mentioned, still seems like a worthwhile idea. Not everyone is as plugged into the Internet that they rely on it fully and completely. If you have a business which helps people in times of crisis (like a personal trauma or the power going out), you really should have a yellow pages listing.

So goes the legendary phone book. When did you last use it in some way? Whether you found a creative use for it, actually looked up a business or just added it to the recycling – I hope you did not do it without a little thought for the old phone book.

Energizer Advanced Lithium Batteries are Dead

My note to Energizer:

I have a pair of Advanced Lithium batteries, expiry date 03/2019. One of them has rusted out inside the remote control for the TV. They are no longer functional. Plus they have damaged the remote. From what I have read on your site they should have lasted much longer. How do I get these 2 AAA batteries replaced through Energizer? Also, will new batteries work now that the batteries have caused damage to the electronic device?

What do you do with dead batteries? I tried scraping the rust off and got them to work twice more. Now they are doing nothing. Annoying because you can’t buy just a pack of two when you go to the store. So there are two more somewhere, I just don’t know where. I don’t really care to use batteries from the same pack and risk more damage, so it’s not vital to find them. If I did keep them.

There is nothing else in the house which runs on AAA batteries. I’m careful not to get other sizes because I hate buying a battery which will only work for one thing. You end up never being able to just buy a pack of two so you’re paying double for the batteries right from the start.

Anyway, I don’t know if I can freeze these, dip them in vinegar, or anything to get them working. I wrote to Energizer but likely it will take days and then all I will get is a form mail reply worth absolutely nothing.