Fear and Loathing with the Fuzzies

“There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.”

― Alfred Hitchcock

“Obviously, this man pillow has never met the Tessa dog.”

 ― Zoey the Cat

Right…so I have been spending quite a bit of time pondering the nature of fear. Ghost stories make you do that. This leads me to think about Alfred Hitchcock….and Honey Badger…and Zoey and Tessa.

Rainbow kittyZoey is my Honey Badger. She don’t care. My fuzzy girl is fearless. Tessa is my sweet, sweet darling scaredy dog. She is terrified of a strong breeze.

This really happened…

Let’s start with Tessa on the porch. It’s a lovely, sun-kissed day. As Tessa reclines, buzzing things hover over her fur. Annoyed, she snaps occasionally at the buzzies. Zoey walks past the dog-thing into her house. She is large and in charge. Nothing gives her royal purrrrrness any reason to pause.

Suddenly, Tessa snaps at a bee that has been buzzing her. Zoey jumps and searches for something to killl. Instead, she endures me. Laughing my head off, I scoop up Zoey in my arms to laugh and laugh and laugh. HA! She is not fearless! She has just shown her fraidy-cat side. Tessa frolics at my feet.

Zoey is not amused.

As Tessa settles into another light sleep, Zoey plots her revenge. Quietly, carefully, Zoey stalks Tessa. Just as Tessa lets her defenses down, Zoey jumps up on a metal table and forces the table to upset. BAM!!!

Tessa is mortified! Zoey calmly jumps into my arms. Every inch of her furriness screams, “See Momma. That’s what I do with traitors.” Tessa hides.

I’m telling you…it was on purpose. Once Tessa startled Zoey, the WAR was ON!!!

What frightens me and fills me with awe is how fully and completely Zoey the Cat understood the nature of Tessa’s fears. Loud noises always horrify Tessa. Thunderstorms turn Tessa into Jell-o. Things going bump? Crash! Zoey knew what would horrify my puppy the most, and she calmly executed her plan to terrify Tessa.

I think it is quite possible that my kitty is a better author of fearful mayhem than me.

What normal, natural noises scare you the most?

photo credit: Fulla T via photopin cc

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Star Wars – Not Your Typical Ghost Story

Hello everybody. I had a wee tiny little mental health breakdown that required a short vacation from the internet and blogging. Nothing serious. Don’t be concerned. Just a small bout of the writerly working girl blues. It happens. But I’m MUCH better now.

So let’s get back to Haunted October! And Star Wars!
Ghost Peeps and StormtroopersHuh? Ghosts and Star Wars? The original Star Wars trilogy has been called many things – the most elaborate, most expensive, most beautiful movie serial ever made (The New York Times), a spectacular intergalactic joyride (The Washington Post), the greatest space fantasy of all! (Marvel Comics) – but I don’t believe anyone ever refers to the original trilogy as a ghost story.

Well I’m here to change that. Remember this guy?
Ghost of ObiWan on Hoth

“You can’t win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.”

-Obi-Wan Kenobi

Ah, Obi-Wan! My favorite fictional ghost of all time. Who could not love the crazy old wizard who turns out to be a wise and fearless Jedi master; calmly accepting death so that others may live? [Sigh] And yet, even death could not stop Obi-Wan from mentoring and encouraging the callow youth destined to save the galaxy. Obi-Wan is so awesome in ghostly form, he even has a ghostly action figure.

Ghost Obi Wan Action FigureBut seriously, Obi-Wan’s ghost gave me my first glimpse of a deceased person who CHOSE to hang around in ghostly form to do some good. Aside from the Holy Spirit, I had never heard of a good ghost. I’d never even imagined a ghostly mentor willing to show up with just the right advice at just the right times. Think about it. Most fictional ghosts are depicted as vengeful victims (Hamlet’s father), or wretched penitents (Jacob Marley), or dangerous entities unleashed by evil deeds (Poltergeist) or pathetic lost souls who can’t seem to find The Light (any episode of Ghost Whisperer).

Obi-Wan depicted a hopeful, powerful, enlightened, comforting ghostly image. And this was very important to me. VERY important.

Grandpa Eldon died in March of 1980. He was the only man I ever called Daddy, my best friend and the light of my life. (Sorry, Mom. I know that makes you cry, but it’s true.) He suffered a massive heart attack in the middle of the night and I was not allowed to visit him in the hospital during the final days of his life. We didn’t have the chance to say goodbye.

Or so I thought.

Three months later, my grandmother took me to see The Empire Strikes Back. There were many reasons why that movie changed my life. Among those reasons, Obi-Wan’s ghost along with Yoda’s teachings (“Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.”) were far greater comfort to me than any of the Biblical passages that were muttered over the cold, square hole in the ground when we buried my Grandpa.

Not long after seeing ESB, my beloved grandfather came to see me in my dreams. That first night, he walked me through our house. Each room was decorated for a different holiday; it was Christmas in the front room, Halloween in the TV room, Thanksgiving in the kitchen and Easter in the front yard where he had hidden a rainbow of plastic eggs for me to find. Overjoyed to see him, I asked my Grandpa why everyone had lied to me and told me he was dead. He just smiled and told me he would always be with me. Always. Through every season and every holiday.

OK – all you skeptics and amateur psychologists out there might be tempted to point out that Grandpa Eldon’s message echoes Obi-Wan’s final line in A New Hope and that might lead you to the conclusion that this deeply spiritual and powerful experience from my childhood was just a case of wishful thinking. To you I say, pthththththth! It was real.

Grandpa continued to visit me in my dreams as I grew up. When my dog Pom Pom died, she started scampering through those dreams. In my late 20’s, after many years of not seeing him, Grandpa brought my recently departed kitty Charlie to say goodbye. Even though Charlie was very ill and suffering when I made the decision to let him go, I was plagued with debilitating grief and self-loathing for days after the vet carried him away. Grandpa assured me I’d done the right thing, taken the most compassionate action, and he was proud of me. Charlie was free from all pain and suffering now. I woke up after that dream, locked myself in the bathroom and cried. Oh how I cried! But it was a really good cry.

Whether anyone other than me believes that these dreams were real visitations doesn’t matter to me one wit. I don’t believe, I KNOW. My grandfather helped raise me from beyond the grave. Just like Obi-Wan helped train Luke from beyond the grave.

Recently, a sudden realization hit me; an epiphany of sorts.

I believe that the fictional depiction of Obi-Wan in ghostly form opened a door in my mind…a door that my grandfather walked through. And so, for me, my love of Star Wars and my fascination with ghost stories will always be intertwined. And perhaps I’m not the only one…

Ghost & Fett PumpkinsWhat about you? Have you ever had a loved one guide and comfort you from beyond the grave? Would you welcome a ghostly mentor? Or, like Scrooge, would you try to dismiss the encounter as “an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato”?

photo credit: ShellyS via photopin cc, JD Hancock via photopin cc, thepollen via photopin cc & Simon Davison via photopin cc

Florence (sans Machine) on Ghosts

Quote

“I’ve got quite a vivid imagination and I’m easily overwhelmed by sensations and things that are beautiful or scary. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ghost—I think I’m probably haunted by my own ghosts than real ones.”

 – Florence Welch

Florence+Machinephoto credit: skARTistic via photopin cc

Top 10 Witches I Have Loved

I still remember the year my grandmother carefully crafted a hand-stitched, hand-painted witch’s costume for my Halloween trick-or-treating. I think I was 9 or 10 years old. Oh, how we fought over that costume! I wanted to be a pretty witch, like Samantha or Glenda. As far as my Grandmother was concerned, every witch had crow’s feet, green skin and a huge wart on her nose. Otherwise, who would know I was supposed to be a witch?!?

In that same vein, I do not like the way witches are depicted by Hollywood. As a general rule, films about witches are NOT my favorites. But there are a few exceptions…

Here’s the Top 10 List of My Favoritest Film Witches of All Time:

10  –  Samantha Stephens (Bewitched TV Series 1964 – 72) While I hated Darwood…er, Darren (in all of his incarnations) and also hated the fact that Samantha was willing to subjugate herself to her husband’s inexplicable shame over of her witchcraft, I still love Samantha. Who does not love a woman who can wiggle her nose to produce Ben Franklin?

9  –  The 3 Witches (Macbeth)In case yesterday’s post didn’t warn you, I think these three hags are the best part of the Shakespeare drama.

–  Morgaine (Mists of Avalon)Julianna Margulies as Morgaine? Yeah…nuf said.

–  Esmeralda (Bewitched TV Series 1964 – 72)With her mod hairdo, thick blue eyeshadow and flowing psychedelic wardrobe…who would not want to be Esmeralda?

6  – The Sanderson Sisters (Hocus Pocus)OK – yes they are evil and out to suck the living essence out of innocent children. But it’s Bette, Kathy Najimy & SJP!

–  Gillian Holroyd (Bell, Book and Candle) Come on! Kim Novak as a witch with a fatal attraction for Jimmy Stewart? (SIGH) And Pyewacket! Oh, Pyewacket!!! I have spent my life looking for my very own Pyewacket.

4  –  Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series)Do I really need to explain this one? Hermione is the best witch of our age!

3  –  Alexandra, Jane & Sukie (The Witches of Eastwick)Heh, heh, heh…one of my favorite mistakes! I highly recommended this movie to my dear, sweet, VERY Christian cousin..without telling him any of the details (Hey, I was in high school! And had no idea he would take a girl to see this movie on a FIRST DATE. Doh!) Still, I love this movie. Why? (Hint: It’s not really a movie about witches and the devil. It’s an allegory.)

2  –  Mary Poppins (do I really need to tell you the movie?)What is that you say? Mary Poppins is not a witch? I beg your pardon! She communicates with animals, jumps into cartoons, teaches lessons with a crystal ball, totes a carpet bag full of impossible wonders and flies through the air with an umbrella. Yeah, kids, last time I checked that’s a witch. And she might just be the most wonderful witch in the history of literature or movies!

1  –  Aunt Frances & Aunt Jet (Practical Magic)I love this movie. Love, love, LOVE it!! And while I cheer for Sally and her impossible true love, it is the allure of the outrageous Aunts and their magical house by the sea that draws me back to this story over and over.

This list is personal, highly subjective and entirely open to debate. Did you notice I have a bias for the Good Witches? What about you? Who are your favorite witches (good or bad) that I missed and why do you love them?

Welcome to October 2013…Enter 3 Witches

Breathe in the magical air of autumn. Breathe out all doubts and fears. Stand tall. Refuse to accept a mundane existence. Bring the boil. Forget the trouble. Fire up your cauldron. Feel the bubble.Witchy FeetMACBETH, Act 4, Scene 1

Thunder. Enter the three WITCHES.

 First Witch
 Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d.

 Second Witch
 Thrice and once the hedge-pig whined.

 Third Witch
 Harpier cries “‘Tis time, ’tis time.”

 First Witch
 Round about the cauldron go;
 In the poison’d entrails throw.
 Toad, that under cold stone
 Days and nights has thirty-one
 Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
 Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.

 ALL
 Double, double toil and trouble;
 Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

 Second Witch
 Fillet of a fenny snake,
 In the cauldron boil and bake;
 Eye of newt and toe of frog,
 Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
 Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
 Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
 For a charm of powerful trouble,
 Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

 ALL
 Double, double toil and trouble;
 Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

 Third Witch
 Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
 Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf
 Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,
 Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark,
 Liver of blaspheming Jew,
 Gall of goat, and slips of yew
 Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse,
 Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips,
 Finger of birth-strangled babe
 Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,
 Make the gruel thick and slab.
 Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
 For the ingredients of our cauldron.

 ALL
 Double, double toil and trouble;
 Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

 Second Witch
 Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
 Then the charm is firm and good.

 Enter HECATE and the other three
 WITCHES.

 HECATE
 O well done! I commend your pains;
 And every one shall share i’ the gains;
 And now about the cauldron sing,
 Live elves and fairies in a ring
 Enchanting all that you put in.

 [Exit HECATE.]

 Second Witch
 By the pricking of my thumbs,
 Something wicked this way comes.

—William Shakespeare

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