The veil

The veil
And as the earth moves to slumber so slips the veil

Saturday, November 5, 2016

To Every Season...

To every thing, there is a season…

September brings the promise of nostalgia as autumn marks a season of rest . Summer draws to a close, and the kids go back to school. Crops are ready for harvest, sweaters come out storage, and our minds turn from water skiing to cozy nooks piled high with books.

Autumn has always been my favorite part of the year. Where some mourn the loss of sunshine and barbecues, I revel in the crispness of the air, the golden hues of the trees and the sunsets, and the promise of a quiet that descends upon the earth, like a down comforter.

While the hazy days of summer fade, the scent of cinnamon and apples permeate the air. Suddenly, all-things-pumpkin take over coffee shops and bakeries. Grocery store aisles are filled with apple cider, spiced tea, and mulling spices.  The boys of summer run toward the World Series, and suddenly televisions are filled with gridiron games narrated by barrel-voiced baritone armchair quarterbacks.

And suddenly, I find myself longing to visit with an old friend…Ray Bradbury, and his hauntingly beautiful story, Something Wicked This Way Comes.

There is a magic to his words which hypnotize the heart, propelling the reader, back in time, to a world where every town had a Main Street, where every community was the village that raised each child, and where evil only existed in the dark of night behind the folds of a mystical carnival tent.

Bradbury’s story gives us so much more, however. Through Will Halloway’s father, we see ourselves.  Adults who strive to carry a torch and follow the path, occasionally pausing to look back and find that children we once were, frolicking in the leaves, and running with wild abandon and laughter into that golden sunset.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Bubble Bubble

Bubble Bubble…

October! Time for fireside tales and ghost stories.  I adore this month of suspense. Notice I said suspense…not slasher stories. 

I grew up in another age, when October meant hot chocolate with marshmallows,  fall festivals, and harvest bonfires. When I was a child, station wagons filled with kids would spend Halloween night driving throughout the county, from one teacher’s house to another’s, getting scared by the high-schoolers dressed as ghosts, before earning our mug of homemade cider for our bravery.

We would  get out of the car at the end of one street and knock on every door along the blocks, until we reached the far end of the street, bags filled with candy and homemade popcorn balls, or fudge. And since everyone knew someone who knew all the people in the town, nobody ever had to worry about sabotaged sweets.

And when all was said and done, we would create spooky stories that usually ended with “and when they looked again, it had disappeared.”

So in honor of the things-that-go-bump-in-the-night fun, here is a list of some of my favorite tales~books and movies.

Shows and Movies
Dracula (I prefer the PBS series with Louis Jourdan or ‘79 Frank Langella)
Dark Shadows Television Series.
Tales from the Dark Side
Anything directed by Alfred Hitchcock
The Lady in Black
The Haunting of Hill House  (Book by Shirley Jackson, as well as the Julie Harris Movie)
Young Frankentstein
MacBeth (Patrick Stewart…spookiest, ever)
Halloween~#3  This is the only one I will watch. Completely not like all the others.
Hocus Pocus
Lost Boys
The Village
Lady in the Water
Harry Potter…the entire series

Books, stories, and poems
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Sixth Sense
The Shining, by Stephen King
The Witching Hour, by Anne Rice
The Raven, by Edgar Alan Poe
Mask of the Red Death, by Edgar Alan Poe

Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Harry Potter…the entire series, of course!

Did I leave any out? I’m sure!  Tell me, what are your favorites?

Saturday, July 9, 2016


Radio was a wonder, oh, say seventy years ago, before everyone had one or more television sets in the household. Radio, you see, brought voice, and story into our lives.

While I am not old enough to remember an age before television, I did grow up with old radio shows. Our local public radio affiliate would broadcast the old comedy and mystery shows each week. CBS Mystery theatre always had me on the edge of my seat on the ride home from dance class.  Likewise, the Shadow raised questions and eyebrows. Tuesday night meant comedy shows, like Fibber Maggie and Molly, or The Bickersons. 

However, from the age of eleven, I was glued to the radio on Saturday nights when Minnesota public radio would broadcast A Prairie Home Companion. For two hours each week, audiences tuned in to a real old-fashioned live broadcast, complete with musicians, sound effects, skits, singers, and of course Tales from Lake Woebegone. Comedy, mystery, drama, satire, conversation, all combined on that stage to make the world seem a bit smaller, and for a moment, suspended in time.

In our imaginations, we the audience, could visualize each performer, and each character at the mic. Our minds would envision the roads and houses that filled Garrison Keillors hometown. We could almost smell the rhubarb pie.

Radio was the bard. It told us stories, brought us news, delighted us and humbled us with world events.  Radio allowed us to share our grief over Pearl Harbor, JFKs assassination, and even 911.

Storytellers and radio fans everywhere, shed a tear as we listened to Garrison Keillor say good-bye this past week. For forty two years, he has drawn American audiences together, and has given us a glimpse of ourselves, through the spyglass of that Norwegian hamlet where~well, you know.

No doubt the velvet voiced narrator will find new adventures. Whether it be in the performance halls that dot the midwest, or the bookstores that offer his memoirs, his own story will continue to move forward. For many of us, though, the best adventures came from Lake Woebegone, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Once Upon a Time...

Those who say history is boring, have never lived it.

           Certainly, the  routine of a medieval peasant, or a industrial-age mill worker must have been a bit mundane (get up at dawn, work until sunset, go to sleep hungry). However, each age has had some spectacular historical moments.  

           Consider the expansion of the Romans across Europe; this empire plowed through countries, building roads, aquifers, building cities, and of course engaging in war. 
           What about the Celts who migrated from the farthest reaches of eastern Europe to Eire (Ireland), and managed to influence art, music, and legends throughout the world? And those pesky Vikings…they were the original party crashers. 

           For those who think that history is boring, perhaps they just never had anyone who was passionate actually engage them in the wonder of it.  

           Many years ago, a friend who was teaching a middle school class about the civil war, had the kids divide into two equal groups. As the two sides advanced toward one another, he called out their names and they fell to the ground, complete with dramatic death scenes. He told them that each fallen student represented about 2000 soldiers, wounded or killed.  In that moment the history became real for them. They were engaged.  No boring number on a page to memorize; they each committed to memory the event, and so they all learned the impact of Gettysburg.

          Whether it is Hadrian’s Wall, or Watergate,  the Transcontinental Railroad, or the Triangle Factory Fire, these moments in history have stores to reveal to all of us. The tales of the people whose lives were part of these histories are what makes them real for us. And sometimes, we find ourselves part of the history. I remember at 15 months of age, looking through the slats of my crib and seeing my mother watch the televised funeral of JFK.  I remember seeing it, myself, although I had no idea what it was. I remember her crying.  That was history in the making. And it was anything but boring, then or now.

        Friends often say, “Wow, it must be a lot of work to write medieval stories. You must do a lot of research.”  I have done a lot of research, but because there are magnificent stories in the histories, not just  fact checking.  To stroll through an archaeological display in a museum, to read about a newly discovered treasure, to study the anthropological connection that is discovered through tribal pottery. I challenge anyone to wander through the Titanic exhibit and not feel something powerful from the personal items reclaimed from the depths of that tragic shipwreck.

This is what connects us to one another. And our histories offer some magnificent tales.