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Well, sort of. It was a very quiet Halloween. No trick-or-treaters. Honestly, between my tall fence and my creepy dead tree, I wouldn’t be surprised if the neighborhood kids think my house is haunted. Oh wait, it is. ūüôā So I give you this little creepy goody, taken at Kelsea’s favorite place in the mountains.

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Central City, Colorado.

Quote of the day: ‚ÄúRemember your name.¬† Do not lose hope–what you seek will be found.¬† Trust ghosts.¬† Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn.¬† Trust dreams.¬† Trust your heart, and trust your story.‚ÄĚ — Neil Gaiman

Daily gratitudes:
The little girl in the unicorn costume at the grocery store
Being warm inside when the wind is blowing
The crunch of dead leaves underfoot
Watching Mr. Man watch the falling leaves
Feeling a little better

Today’s guest poet:¬†Emily Bronte

Lines

I die but when the grave shall press
The heart so long endeared to thee
When earthy cares no more distress
And earthy joys are nought to me.

Weep not, but think that I have past
Before thee o’er the sea of gloom.
Have anchored safe and rest at last
Where tears and mourning can not come.

‘Tis I should weep to leave thee here
On that dark ocean sailing drear
With storms around and fears before
And no kind light to point the shore.

But long or short though life may be
‘Tis nothing to eternity.
We part below to meet on high
Where blissful ages never die.

Photo title: Old Boo

Baltimore, Maryland.

Quote of the day: “A house is never still in darkness to those who listen intently; there is a¬†whispering in distant chambers, an unearthly hand presses the snib of the¬† window, the latch rises.¬† Ghosts were created when the first man awoke in the night.”¬† —¬† J.M. Barrie

Daily gratitudes:
The person wandering around downtown Denver in the Angry Bird costume
The man with the scarlet socks
That I forgot that it was Halloween today, which makes people in costume a special surprise
Working late in Starbucks
Watching the night fall and glow
Anything silk

I’m not a big fan of Halloween, and I never have been.¬†But I surprised myself this year. Somehow or other, I found out about The Shining Ball.¬† And somehow or other, I asked my new beau, MKL, if he’d like to go. And somehow or other, he said he would. So a few weeks ago, I found myself renting a real Halloween costume.

Image of The Ritz courtesy of http://www.metromix.com

I don’t know why I’ve never liked Halloween. I like the concepts that it encompasses – souls, spirits, alter egos, revelry, chocolate. Still, not my favorite holiday. Kelsea has always loved it, so I did the dutiful costuming of myself to accompany her when trick-or-treating. Generally those costumes would consist of nothing more than¬†a neon colored wig.¬† I like neon color wigs.

A couple of years ago, I did fall into possession of a slutty pirate costume, that I still have and like very much.¬† But that was a seriously bizarre Halloween that will never be discussed. It did make me contemplate why 95% of Halloween costumes are slutty.¬† Is that seriously what women’s alter egos are?¬† Slutty cheerleaders, slutty pirates, slutty nurses, slutty vegetables?¬†I really couldn’t say.

What I can say is that Friday afternoon found us making our way to The Ritz in Boulder to pick up my costume, and, after a slightly aborted start, we were off  to the lovely little town of Estes Park.

Estes Park view from the Stanley Hotel

Estes Park is known as the Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.¬† Founded in 1859 at an elevation of 7,522 feet, it was long ago a summering area for the Ute and Arapaho Indians. It earned the nickname “The Gutsiest Little Town in Colorado” after it rebuilt itself following the Lawn Lake Flood in 1982, in which an earthenware dam collapsed, flooded the main street and beyond, and killed three campers¬†.

Image courtesy of http://www.estesnet.com

Our destination today was the famous Stanley Hotel. Opened in 1909, this beautiful Georgian architectural style hotel was built by F.O. Stanley, one of the inventors of the Stanley Steamer automobile.

F.O. Stanley and his mirror image

The hotel has housed numerous famous visitors, and most notably, Stephen King, whose stay in Room 217 on a blizzardy¬†night inspired him to write “The Shining”. While the Stanley Kubrick film by the same name was not filmed here, because Kubrick didn’t think that audiences would find such a hotel believable¬†in a location like Colorado (hello? reality check?), it does run on a continuous loop 24/7 on one of the stations on the hotel’s televisions. On the other hand, the mini-series, which was much less violent because it was made for TV, and much more accurate, because Stephen King was involved in the production, was filmed on site.¬† And coincidentally, my boss’ husband appeared on-screen several times in his role as an “extra”.

I have never seen either the movie or the mini-series, nor have I read the book, having sworn off Stephen King some time ago. I have tremendous respect for his writing, but reading it is simply destructive to my psyche. But The Stanley makes the most of the connection, with exhibits pertinent to the novel, and The Shining Ball, a wonderful costume ball and Halloween tradition.¬†Room 217 is also included on the hotel’s Ghost Tour, which we missed out on. But not entirely. More about that in a bit.

On the lobby typewriter

The Stanley offers rooms in the original building and the Manor House, built slightly later.  Our room was in the original building in a little dormer on the fourth floor, which is the most haunted floor of the hotel.

Our little dormer

Dormer rooms are small, but cozy.

Word to the wise (and now head-injured) - the shorter person takes the side of the bed with the low ceiling.

Since it was so late, and cold, and parking spaces were rare, we decided to have a light supper in the Cascade Room, taking the stairs this time, instead of the terrifying cage elevator. I’ve had a deathly fear of cage elevators since I was a child, but I took it when I had to.¬† The staircases though, were too beautiful to resist.

Beautiful balustrades

Dinner was expensive but delightful, made all the better by our wonderful server, MaryAnn, who had worked at the hotel for 21 years and told us her own personal ghost stories. She made us promise to come back the next night in costume so she could see us.

Shadow play at dinner.

We had wasted no time upon arrival in exploring our creepy hallway. Fortunately for me, MKL is rather a sensitive in this area, as I am, so at least he doesn’t think it’s nuts when I pick up on energy or see stuff that would spook most humans. In fact, he often shares the same experience. So it’s quite a pleasure for both of us to have someone who understands.

The Seemingly Normal Creepy 4th Floor Hallway

About halfway down the hallway, I got dizzy. I got queasy. My head ached. And the farther I got towards the end, the thicker the air became, until it felt like walking through goo. And yet everything appeared perfectly normal.  Energetically, however, normal it was not.  We experimented with the hallway many times, and with other hallways in the hotel. The experience was always the same, hitting at the same place, and it never happened in other hallways. On one of these little escapades, I turned and quickly took a photo, and caught the culprit in orb form.

My little orb

It vanished in the next instantaneous photo. I know there are plenty of naysayers out there, but I’m a believer in my orb.

The next day was gorgeous.¬† But bitterly, freakishly windy. Painfully windy. Wind that, as MKL¬†put it, was throwing dirt and rocks and branches and small children at us as we tried to make it to the car from breakfast at The Egg and I. It totally deterred us from our planned explorations of town. So we stopped at the excellent combination pharmacy and liquor store to pick up some champagne (who can’t love a store that sells both drugs AND alcohol?) and retreated back to the hotel, picking up some sandwiches for late night post-party consumption.

A lovely Colorado day and the lovely Stanley Hotel

Our room was, as I said, on the haunted fourth floor. The hotel runs ghost tours from around 10:00 am until 10:00 pm, taking small herds of visitors (who, by the by, sound like baby elephants tromping¬†around the old creaky floors) to the spookiest¬†places in the hotel. Room 401, which housed the infamous Lord Dunmore, who remains a mischievous ghost, was just down the hall next to the elevator. Room 428, home of the kissing cowboy ghost, was next door to us.¬† Room 418, supposedly one of the most haunted rooms, where ghost children take candy if it’s left out on the dresser, was down the hall. Room 406 , where we started getting the most creepy vibes wasn’t specifically mentioned on the tour, but in the hallway itself numerous ghost children run up and down it at all hours, playing ball, and flushing toilets in rooms repeatedly. Including ours.¬† Yes, that toilet started flushing itself on our second night, periodically, refusing to stop.

A glimpse into the eternal flushery

So, all of this knowledge we gleaned from listening to the ghost tour outside of our door. We also ran into a crowd outside Room 217, where Mr. King found his muse, and outside of Room 237, where Elizabeth, a former chambermaid, “looks after” guests. Elizabeth is very benevolent, and MaryAnn told us that when she first started, she could feel Elizabeth looking after her, leaving lights on and such.¬†It was rather awkward, though, when guests in these rooms would open their door when a tour was stopped in front of it. And slightly startling to find people taking pictures of your room door.

Mirror,mirror

The time came for us to get dressed up and head down to the ball. The Shining Ball. In full costume with about three hundred other people in the haunted MacGregor Ballroom. We felt like such royalty going down the beautiful staircase.

Almost time

We came as the Phantom of the Opera and Christine. While I don’t yet have any photos of the two of us together, we were told by many people that we were a gorgeous couple.

My slightly blurry phantom

A slightly overexposed Christine

We are waiting for our new friend Natalie to send us some of the photos she took of us. I didn’t like the only two I have – I felt like they made me look big as the hotel. Natalie looked stunning as the Black Swan.

Natalie as the Black Swan

Her adorable mother Mary came as a slutty gypsy. We ran into these two right in our hallway when we first checked in, again at breakfast and later, they saved us some seats at the Ball.¬† I loved watching these two. I hope that when Kelsea is Natalie’s age, she and I have a similar relationship. In fact, I look forward to it.

A Mother-Daughter Moment

And so we had cocktails, we danced and danced, we went outside to cool off in the chill mountain air, and we people watched. There were some amazing costumes. I’ll share a few here:

A well-decorated MacGregor Room

An extremely intoxicated wood nymph..

doing highly inappropriate things with Tigger.

The Blues Brothers got their own solo.

The Shining Twins and the Headless Bride (her costume was AWESOME)

Cousin It

Twin swans. Or ducks.

My favorite horns - he made them with cotton balls, red dye, and something else.

We had a marvelous time. There were lots of people dancing on their own, which is great, although sometimes it got a little creepy because of the costume.  There was a jester always at our elbow, checking out MKL.  There was the incredible hulk who kept sort of thrusting himself into all partners.  There was the red toga lady who was really getting into grinding on me from behind while MKL and I were trying to dance, until her husband (Nero) called her off (literally). And there were a phenomenal amount of exceptionally tall people there.  Really.  Close to seven feet tall. Weird. And lots of my photos of partygoers also contained orbs, so the ghosts enjoyed the festivities too.

Stopping for a final martini in the bar before bed, we watched a very tall guy dressed as a cowboy trying to decide if he wanted to accept the attentions of either of the guys who were hitting on him.¬† He looked pretty drunk and pretty confused.¬† We wished him well, and turned in at almost two. I haven’t stayed out that long in years.¬† I felt like a princess. It was so cool.

We got a slightly late checkout, had a wonderful breakfast at the Mountain Home Cafe, and talked about what we might be if we go next year. It would be a lovely tradition.

A view to a future

Halloween has never been my favorite holiday, and I can’t say why.¬† I’ve always liked dressing up, I don’t mind a good scare, and I believe in all things paranormal.¬† Maybe that’s part of it, that somewhere inside me, I take it seriously, and have a sense that¬†the current festivities are¬†somehow disrespectful.

Be that as it may, it’s¬†Kelsea’s ULTIMATE holiday.¬† She’s always loved it and loves to be scared.¬† This year, she’s going as Hannah Montana’s true self – the Hannah Montana outfit and long blonde hair – with a red demon mask – representing another pop icon that has become the scourge of little girls of our society.¬† She’s going trick-or-treating with her best friends today, and then to The Asylum, one of Denver’s scariest haunted houses.¬† I’ve never been in a haunted house (other than the ones I have actually lived in), and have no intention of going, so it’s a good thing her friends’ mom likes those kind of things.

As for me, I’m in hiding for the weekend.¬† No trick-or-treaters for me.¬† I’ve taken off for a couple of nights to parts unknown and unnamed.

As my treat for you today, I wanted to share a few Halloween tidbits.

First off, let me¬†apologize for failing to alert you to last night’s holiday – Haunted Refrigerator Night.¬† It was your chance to clean out all the scary stuff that has been lurking in the fridge for who-knows-how-long.¬† I suppose the curmudgeons among us can then throw all their spoiled food at unwanted trick-or-treaters tonight.

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2009’s¬†most popular costumes are….Swine Flu and Michael Jackson!¬† Zombies are also quite chic this year.¬† And you could combine all three to create something very interesting.

If you see a spider on Halloween, it is the spirit of a loved one watching over you.¬† So for heavens sake, don’t step on it!

giant-house-spider

Samhainophobia is an intense fear of Halloween.  I wonder how it expresses itself?

Halloween is believed to have its origin among the Celts.¬† I’ve always like the Celts and all things Celtic.¬† Before it was cloaked in more Christian-friendly garb, this night was considered to be the time when the border between this world and the other became¬† transparent, which allowed spirits to freely cross over from one side to the other – and not just good spirits either.¬† People wore costumes and masks to keep the harmful spirits at bay, the thought being that disguising oneself as a harmful spirit would fool the harmful spirits into thinking that no good was to gained from that person, that it was just another bad brother.

According to Wiki, bonfires would sometimes be built side by side on this night, and people and livestock would pass between the two as a cleansing ritual.  I suppose that the livestock that wandered a bit too close to either blaze would then be served as dinner.

The bonfire thing seems to have fallen by the wayside, but the whole costume concept is (as you know) still going strong.¬† Since I have not truly partaken in a costume in — oh, let’s say almost forever — I am perhaps more objective about available costume choices than more enthusiastic revellers might be.¬† And after shopping for costumes with Kelsea this year, I have come to the following conclusions:

– Men want to dress as:
      a) Disgustingly gory, bloody, gross creatures
      b) Giant pieces of food
–¬†Women want to dress as:
      a)  slutty witches, pirates, nurses, soldiers, police officers, storybook characters, astronauts or vampires
      b)  anything else slutty not mentioned above

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for sluttiness as fantasy-fun, and I definitely think there’s a place for it in our society.¬† But c’mon, it’s not every woman’s dream Halloween costume!¬† Give us a little credit!¬† And at least 60% of women probably can’t carry it off – those costumes are not for the generously proportioned.¬† So what is the rest of female America supposed to do – stay home?¬† Wear a sheet with the eyeholes cut out?¬† (I did that one year as a child.¬† My parents weren’t big on Halloween either.)

Boo'd_Ghost

Departing from the costume rant, I’m going to quote freely (read plagiarise with credit) from Uncyclopedia here, because I find it just classic:

“For those children too young to skank-out, a series of rituals were created to get them out of the house and on the streets, so that older couples could enjoy each other’s costumes in “private”. Some of these rituals and customs are listed below.

  1. The egging of trees in white wrappings – To ward off the ancient mummies of Egypt.
  2. The spraying of white foam on one another, and road signs РTo disguise their scents from the foaming rabid werewolves, and to keep the werewolves from finding their way through town.
  3. The beating of one another with socks filled with flour – To create puffs of flour, allowing them to see and avoid passing by spirits.
  4. The throwing of eggs at one another and at houses that give crappy candy – To symbolise the life and death of the spirits. The egg represents the birth, the throwing represents the life, and the splattering and the pain on impact represents the death… and the stinky rotten egg smell represents the undeath and haunting.
  5. The giving of empty hot-dog casings (“hollow weenies”).
  6. The ringing of doorbells and dashing off into the shrubbery – to confuse stalking demons inside houses.
  7. The playing of bobbing for apples with the local neoconservative dynasty.”

My childhood Halloweens were spent trick-or-treating up and down both sides of two blocks of Buchanan Boulevard.¬† (Once or twice, we ventured a block west to Lancaster Avenue, but¬†one block made a huge¬†difference in the neighborhood back then.)¬† Apparently,¬†ours was such good trick-or-treating ground that kids were bussed in from other parts of town to trick-or-treat there.¬† I remember the sidewalks being quite crowded.¬† I went with my brother, and we were required to stick together.¬† Most years, one parent would go with us, for fear of us getting lost, stolen or poisoned.¬† The tradition of trick-or-treating was in its own adolescence then, having originated back in the 1940’s, and trick-or-treat-for-Unicef, where we went around asking people to put coins in those impossible-to-assemble orange cardboard boxes, was a relatively new thing.¬† I never liked it much, I’m ashamed to say, because the grown-ups would give us EITHER candy or Unicef money, but not both.¬† I was a selfish little beast with a sweet tooth.

Trick_or_Treater

I stopped trick-or-treating at a pretty early age – I preferred to stay home and hand out candy, instead of dressing up.¬† I went freshman year in college with a bunch of friends, at their insistence, thinking it would help heal a heartache.¬† It didn’t.¬† I felt like a total idiot and attracted the attention of a very bad individual, resulting an even worse experience several weeks later.¬† Talk about a heaping helping of heartbreak.

After that, I worked every Halloween night through college.¬† In those days in Boulder, the Pearl Street Mall hosted the infamous “Mall Crawl”, which incidentally some people have been trying to revive this year.¬† Clearly, they never experienced it in its heyday, and don’t understand the wisdom of its forced demise.¬† Back then, I was making pizzas, and Halloween was a zoo in the pizza place – wall-to-wall people, we cranked out more pies that night than any other week in the year.¬† And made more tips.¬† The crowd outside was dressed wildly, drunk as a submarine crew on shore leave, and packed as tightly as the proverbial can of sardines.¬† The first couple of years, it was fun and energizing.¬† The last couple of years it was bad-scary.¬† The crowd would take it upon itself to sway, and since smaller people like me could barely put their feet on the ground, we’d be caught up and carried along.¬† People would climb lamp-posts, break windows, trample flower beds, pick fights.¬† It got really bad.¬† And so the town stopped it.¬† They put up roadblocks coming into downtown, and stationed police officers to keep anyone in costume away from the Mall.¬† It worked.¬† The Mall Crawl died.

pearl street

I have accompanied Kelsea on many a night trick-or-treating, but never really dressed up.¬† Sometimes we just went around our neighborhood, but most years, we went to one of our friend’s houses, as she was tight with their daughter.¬† The wives would take the girls for a few blocks, then circle back to their house and trade off with the husbands.¬† It was fun.¬† Their daughter is in high school now, and I lost those friends in the divorce, so that’s done with.

And now, it’s now.

No pumpkin for me this year.¬† We never have had much luck with them.¬† I always come within a hairs-breadth of cutting off one of my fingers when carving, and then the squirrels quickly decimate anything I might have created.¬† So while trips to the pumpkin patch are always fun (we used to do our family picture in the pumpkin patch every year – guess that’s off now too), I no longer go to the expense of purchasing one.¬† Nicer just to look.

PumpkinPatch15LR

Here’s an abbreviated version of the legend of the origin of the Jack-‘O’-Lantern:¬† A drunken Irish gambler named Jack met the devil on the road one night.¬† He tricked the devil into climbing an apple tree, then trapped him in it by carving a cross into the tree trunk.¬† The devil was furious, and when Jack died, he exercised his revenge by denying him entrance into hell (where Jack had a reservation) and condemning him to wander the earth at night for all eternity, carrying a lighted candle in a hollowed-out turnip.

(In an interesting cultural variation, in certain African countries, Jack is known as “Big Sixteen” and is refused entry into hell by the¬†devil’s widow, for having killed the devil.¬† And on a side note, why do we capitalize God but not the devil?¬† Does capitalizing something automatically give it more power, importance, or validity?)¬†

It would be disastrous to give every costumed reveller a lighted, hollowed-out turnip in this day and age.¬† Thankfully, it’s too challenging to carry a lighted, hollowed-out pumpkin, especially when trying to juggle a bulging bag of candy and pounding on doors.¬† Not that I’ve tried.

In closing, for those of you partaking in Halloween – have fun, practice safe celebration, and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.¬† That pretty much leaves the door wide open.

door

“From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties, and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord deliver us.”¬† — courtesy of the Scots

On Sunday (was it Sunday?), I talked about angels.¬† Today, I want to talk about vampires.¬† Why, you may ask?¬† Well, several reasons, the foremost being that today is Bela Lugosi’s birthday, and as you know, he was the most famous portrayer of Dracula on-screen (though he was kind of hokey).

bela_lugosi_aka_dracula__15

It’s been interesting to watch the latest revival of interest in vampires with the publication of the “Twilight” series.¬† Of course, Twilight seems to have seeped its way into every marketing gimmick ever imagined – candy, cards, music, clothes, games, posters, jewelry, bookmarks, switchplates, and heaven only knows what else.¬† Kelsea said it seems to be taking over the universe.¬† I haven’t read the book, but I have seen the movie, and I am missing the appeal.¬† Unless it just sparks the imagination from a romantic standpoint – the whole thing of two people who meet and feel destined to be together, who seem to understand each other so well, who seem to be irresistably drawn to each other, who feel they want to be together, protecting and supporting each other, for eternity.¬† Ok, that sounds pretty good when I put it that way.

Just ignore that eensey detail that one of them happens to be undead.

But this is not a Twilight rant.¬† Nope, I’m not going to let Twilight take over MY blogging universe.¬† This is about vampires in general and my rambling thoughts.

I’ve had a fascination with vampires since childhood.¬† I was younger than Kelsea when one of my favorite Christmas gifts was “The Annotated Dracula.”¬† I still have it.¬† It’s a wonderful book, the original Bram Stoker manuscript with footnotes out the wazoo.¬†

66c9729fd7a0498c240fc010.L._SL500_AA240_

In 5th grade, my English teacher showed our class the 1922 silent German film “Nosferatu” with Max Schreck in the role of the vampire.¬† Mrs. Bugg (my English teacher) thrilled us with the rumor that Schreck actually WAS a vampire.¬† I’ll allow that he is one creepy dude in the film, in his previous and subsequent roles, and apparently in real life as well.¬† Anyway, that film has always remained in my mind.¬† It was truly vivid….those fingernails…those teeth…ewww.¬† A real classic.

max-schreck

Bela never lived up to my expectations of a vampire.¬† But most other film vampires didn’t do the trick either – Christopher Lee?¬† No.¬† John Carradine?¬† Nope.¬† Louis Jourdan?¬† Closer (much closer).¬†¬† And then we got to Frank Langella, and he was wonderful.¬† Handsome, suave, romantic – my¬†dear friend Lisa Rohaly¬†and I just adored him, and stayed out way too late one night in Columbus, Ohio to sit through the movie twice.¬†

4066447

There it is Рthat fantasy-romance thing that currently appeals to teens, showing up in me when I was a teen.  Hmmm.

Of course, as an adult, one knows such things more than likely aren’t real.¬† There are people who are metaphorical bloodsuckers.¬† And there are cultists who are sort of vampire-wannabes.¬†¬† And there’s some interesting viral stuff out there, purported to be from real vampires (who, by the by, are not undead), like this site: http://vampirewebsite.net/index.html.

I find it interesting that my daughter has a similar fascination with vampires and general supernatural stuff.¬† It’s not something I intentionally focused on with her, although she has “the shine”, too, so it may just be innate for her, as it seems to have been for me.¬† I will say she has more stomach for the disgusting side of creepiness than I do, like theatrical haunted houses and horror flicks.

Do I know if vampires exist?  Nope.  I know the mythology.  And that, as with angels, almost every culture has a touch of vampire lore.

I know that I have seen people on the streets of New York who were so fascinatingly vampirical in their everyday appearance that they took my breath away and I literally could not stop staring at them.  And that was really wierd for me, so wierd that I remember it now, almost 20 years later.

I know that, as Shakespeare said, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”¬† (That’s from Hamlet, if you’re not up on your Shakespeare.)

I know that there are many kinds of energy in this universe and, just as with angels, a vampiric energy could likely be used for good or for evil.

I know that, even though Halloween is not my gig, ¬†this is a spooky time of year, and it’s fun to speculate.

Halloween

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