Month: August 2016

Operation Autumn 2016

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Remember yesterday’s frantic, mopey, the rest of the year is ruined post?

Never underestimate the power of 24 hours.

I’m moving. The apartment is bigger, I’ll have slightly better bus access, and we’re going back to Mid’s old stomping grounds. Yep, I’m moved to cliches again.

There’s a lot of stuff to be settled out, the normal ‘breaking lease and moving’ stuff-but I know what’s happening now, and that’s a lot of where the stress was coming from.

So I feel safe in setting up another year’s worth of Operation Autumn.

 

  1. Door Wreath
  2. Go to a Corn Maze
  3. Haunted History Witch Walk
  4. Go to a bonfire
  5. Bake an apple pie
  6. Bake a pumpkin pie
  7. Go to a fiber festival
  8. Read M.R. James
  9. Go to the Festival of Trees
  10. go apple picking
  11. Go to a pumpkin farm
  12. Go to a haunted house
  13. Roast a turkey
  14. Roast a ham
  15. Make apple jam
  16. Make apple sauce
  17. Hold a haunted tea
  18. Make pumpkin butter
  19. Hold a chili night
  20. Go to Buffalo Screams
  21. Hold a Misgiving’s Day Party
  22. Hold Mabon
  23. Go to Van Horn’s halloween event
  24. Go to Iron Island
  25. Have a Starbuck’s pumpkin latte
  26. Go to Forest Lawn
  27. Go the farmer’s market halloween party
  28. Go to Oktoberfest
  29. Hold a Hammer Films marathon
  30. See what Target has out for Halloween
  31. Go to a pumpkin festival
  32. Make fudge
  33. Donate to a food drive
  34. Hold a community thanksgiving
  35. Watch Thankskilling
  36. Hold/attend Samhain
  37. Have a bread baking day
  38. Make my Christmas shopping list
  39. Write my 2015 gratitude list
  40. Start my Christmas cards
  41. Decorate my plant
  42. Go to the haunted zoo
  43. Go to the park
  44. Got to Letchworth
  45. Go to the Chattaqua Institution
  46. Go to Lily Dale
  47. Go to the USS The Sullivans
  48. Watch The Gravedancers
  49. Ride the haunted train
  50. Go to the Farmer’s Museum
  51. Carve a pumpkin
  52. Make leaf crafts
  53. Drink pumpkin beer

Candied Nuts

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This has been one of the hardest, most mentally challenging periods of my adult life.

I am fighting one of those battles where you finally face a choice-stop, recharge, and figure out how to be more productive or continue throwing energy at the situation until either it or you breaks. I will be moving in the near future, though it remains to be seen if it will be my choice or my landlord’s. I spend so much time cleaning and organizing and purging personal items that I have literally gotten to a point where I can’t tell if the place is actually dirty or if it’s all in my head.

Like I said. It has not been a good month.

I have finally made a decision, however. If constantly running on so few resources that I have allowed my own body to trigger my anxiety disorder is not winning the war, then I might as well pull back and start giving myself the grace that I would be giving other people in this case-that advice that if 10 is good, 100 is probably not going to fix anything either, if 10 is ten times more than what most people would be putting in anyway. I’ve been already grieving the loss of my fall since my future seems to be nothing but scrubbing floors and looking for new housing [or worse].

I found a bag of raw nuts at Target, and today is my normal day off anyway. I miss the feeling of sliding into autumn and I miss my normal excitement leading up to the season. So I made candied nuts and called it an act of self love and self care.

Candied Nuts

Note: I bought the ‘normal’ sized bag of raw Planter’s mixed nuts. This made enough sugar mixture that I probably could have used double the nuts and still have been fine. You can coat a lot of nuts with the sugar mixture as written.

At least 1 pound raw nuts

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon pumpkin spice

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg white

1 tablespoon water

 

Preheat oven to 250

Mix dry ingredients-the sugar, spices, salt

Add nuts, egg, and water

Toss until well coated

Line a tray with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Bake an hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so.

Let cool, and place in a jar.

 

 

Mount Misery Road, Huntington, New York

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Long Island is way too far off for this legend to be listed as a Haunted Western New York entry.

[That may seem obvious, but I, and many other New Yorkers, know that a lot of people who aren’t from the state split New York into New York City and Not-New-York-City with very little understanding of the geography of a fairly large state. Long Island and Buffalo are pretty much at opposite ends.]

However I do still favor New York ghost stories, especially during a month filled with them.

According to legend the road is not called Mount Misery because of the stories associated with it-it was just not a nice area to live in and extremely hard to farm. However the name is probably not aiding the road in shaking any ghost stories that have been started through the years [have you noticed that a cemetery is much more likely to be haunted than the OB ward of a hospital, even though if we’re honest with ourselves, they both most likely see a fair amount of death?]

However the name came into being, there are suggestions that the area has had a haunted reputation for almost as long as the area has been settled-though it is worth noting that just because the stories claim connection to the 1700s doesn’t necessarily mean that the legend itself dates to the same era. Regardless, the legend claims that there was an asylum built along the road in the 1700s and a female patient was killed [the dates for the hospital are shaky, and increase the potential for the eras to have been added at a much more modern point-some reports place the hospital at a much later 1840]. She eventually became the first ‘woman in white’ ghost seen along the road, and her story may have slowly merged with more modern stories who claim a phantom hitch-hiker in the same region.

The Lady in White is not the only type of ghost claimed to be haunting the road. There are stories of lights, suicides, ghost vehicles, and ghosts that will interfere with vehicles to ‘stop’ accidents (even if the road is already clear). There are echoes and implications of wider regional legends such as the presence of the ghost of a woman murdered and dumped along the road; this is a legend that exists throughout the Long Island region as a whole, as well as potentially linked into wider Mid Atlantic and New England lore.

Regionally, there are some potentially troubling ghosts that are supposed to be haunting the region. Like several other areas settled by Western Europeans (especially the British and Dutch) both Mount Misery and Sweet Hollow Roads have their own black dogs/black shuck style ghosts. Reflecting the dullahan and its American cousin the Headless Horseman, there is a man supposedly wandering the area with a basket of severed heads. Finally, a cop will sometimes pull you over or appear a the scene of minor accidents and break downs. There have been reports that he is missing the back of his head.

Mount Misery and Sweet Hollow Road

Mount Misery

Homesteading 101-Balancing Ideology with Sanity

 

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When you need to put out pest traps but can’t afford to give up all the space in your cabinet. That’s the bay leaf left over from the pest war.

No one actually -wants- to be dealing with bugs, but bugs are pretty much a natural side effect of human dwellings. Same with rats, mice, and other pests-while there are certainly ways of keeping infestation to a minimum, there is a strong possibility that you’re going to be dealing with a pest at some point even if you don’t actively know it’s there. I remember reading, though how accurate it is I’m unsure, that something like a full third of all American homes have mice regardless of socioeconomic status-meaning, it doesn’t matter where you are or  how much money you make, you might have mice.

I am almost phobic about bugs. Really, truly phobic of bugs. My mental defense has always been ‘it’s okay, because I don’t have bugs’. All of the talk with people I’ve had about bugs, all of the research, all of the reading of pest control sites assuring the reader that bugs sometimes really do just happen does -not- make me any less upset that I’m dealing with this year’s bug issues. Nor is spending multiple hours stripping out my pantry to just open the door and find another one hanging out behind my spice rack doing me any favors, at all.

Yes, this has driven me back to writing in cliches. I -censored- hate bugs.

I hate bugs on a level to where I realized a very important thing this afternoon in relation to homesteading: at some point you have to figure out which means more to you-effectiveness (or sanity, in this case, or maybe both), or ideology.

I run a fairly green household-I do generate more trash than I’m comfortable with, but I use home cloth, send Mid to work with a thermos every day, will try to avoid mainstream medication when I can (though I do use it when necessary), and make a lot of my own cleaning products. My immediate reaction was to start looking for ‘all natural’ ways of attacking this problem.

Which lead to me googling how to use geckos to control roach populations. Not even joking. The only thing holding me back is that one of my doors doesn’t sit flush and I have a random hole in my kitchen floor. Also, not even joking.

Realizing that I wanted to find a lizard to eat roaches was the point where I realized I might have to go outside my comfort zone-I bought bait traps. I’m generally pretty anti-insecticides but the amount of time and mental stress I had put into this was enough that I really needed to do something to feel like I had -done- something. Because all of the bleaching shelves and packing food into glass jars was a necessary step but I could see myself bleaching shelves in January, sobbing. So I weighed the act against not doing the act-I don’t have children, I don’t have pets (not even a gecko), I would just have to put them down and walk away, they’re fairly inexpensive at well under $10 American for 12 traps, they’re relatively safe as opposed to bombing and I don’t think the infestation is large enough to require bombing right now…the bait traps seemed the way to go.

And I’m suddenly happy in my home again. [Sort of, I keep finding myself opening cupboard doors -hoping- to find one of the -censored- because I want to catch them poisoning themselves. It’s twisted.] I’m not afraid to walk into my kitchen, thinking I’m going to find something scuttling across the floor. I know that it’s a slower method than what I would really like but -I feel proactive- and that lets me be productive-and frees up my cleaning time from pulling everything out of my cupboard and bleaching everything every morning (and I’m really sick of the scent of bleach).

That’s the big thing that this I taught me-and I think that it’s an important realization for homesteading in general. There comes a point where you need to ask if what you’re doing is effective and helping you stay calm and happy in the homestead, and when you’re doing it for simple ideology reasons. Because if the only reason you’re doing it is because ‘this is the way you do things’ but bay leaves and canning jars aren’t really getting anywhere, you’re not really using your time in a way that’s helpful or even potentially healthy.

Making Bone Broth in the Crock Pot, the Long Way

  1. It’s getting near the time of year where you realize it’s almost time for camp. Which means it’s your normal week for deep cleaning.
  2. Realize, for a lot of really complicated melodramatic reasons it’s time to start looking for a new home. So you start cleaning like you’re moving, because eventually you’re going to be. And -really- clean.
  3. Realize that you have pantry moths, so you start to freeze all your grains and decide that after your week at camp you’re to start shifting every loose food item into glass jars-including your spices.
  4. As you’re freezing the grain you realize that you need to get the bones out of your freezer to make room so you decide to make bone broth.
  5. That requires going through your cupboards to pull out spices…and realize that you have larger pest issues than just pantry moths. Whatever it is, it doesn’t look like WNY roaches. Which is comforting, and you find out that they really hate bleach cleaner.
  6. Set up your bone broth, and spend an hour and and a half bleaching cupboards and putting spices in glass jars.
  7. Spend some time googling roaches because what if the five bugs were roaches?

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The fruit of my labor is an apartment that smells of bleach, a bag full of empty spice jars, and more information than I wanted to know about roaches. The upside, such as it is, is that I am mildly comforted with the knowledge that in a modern global reality where things are carted here there and everywhere a lot of bugs just hitchhike into your home and stay there. It’s not a filth issue though that certainly doesn’t help-they can show up pretty much anywhere, because roaches and such love cardboard boxes. This is however not how I wanted to spend my summer.

Connecticut Phantom Crash, 1997

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I have spent a fairly long time on a fairly ancient laptop, as far as laptops go- the machine I had been running was over a decade old. It finally died outright, for all intents, this weekend and I bought a tablet/2-in-1. The machine itself works much, much better so hopefully I will be able to blog more consistently now (and I do mean actually be able-it was taking me close to half an hour to write three or four paragraphs). I am trying to figure out the battery patterns on this machine, though. I’ve never seen a computer that decides when or if it’s going to charge and I don’t know if it’s a battery issue or if this is deliberate.

 

I will admit that this is a very vague story, but one that I really wish was better developed online (even if it were to be truly folkloric).

The development of new technology will eventually become reflected in the folklore of the era. So we start  with phantom armies, and move into phantom carriages, trains, cars. Therefore it’s really only natural and probably a matter of waiting for the development of ghost planes and phantom crashes.

One of these crashes is claimed to have taken place in Westbrook, Connecticut in 1997. There were witnesses to the crash-though the reports were admittedly odd. Eyewitness claims stated that there were no waves kicked up from the plane, let alone wreckage. However rescue crews were sent out and nothing was ever found of the supposedly downed plane.

The crash report is vague and sounds suspiciously like at best a misidentification and at worst an outright fabrication. However this is not the only case like this on the books in the United States. Reports of phantom plane crashes in various forms ranging from distress calls and sounds to full visual sightings may date as far back as 1955-and may become more common as aircraft and air travel become that much more ingrained in culture.

List of phantom crashes

The Death of Addie Grey

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The Death of Addie Grey

Accessed as an Ebook

Amy Cross

237 pages

$0.99 at time of writing

 

I am always a little skeptical (okay, critical) going into a piece knowing that it depends on children to push the plot forward. Done well, children in horror can be terrifying. Done poorly, the results are a little hysterical and eye rolling.

While Addie Grey has a few eye rolling moments (I’m not a fan of over the top parents in horror-this led to an, uh, interesting thread on my Facebook wall about why parents in horror insist on referring to themselves in the third person), the book is actually pretty solid. Falling somewhere between true haunting and true possession horror, with something of a time travel (but not quite) thrown in, the story line manages to cover a lot of traditional ground with enough new ideas to keep the plot from seeming stale. However, if you’re looking for a ‘true’ bump in the night haunting novel or a ‘true’ demonic or possessed child plot, this is probably not the book for you.

The plot does have a few bumpy places-like I said, the characterization of the parents manages to come across as a little wooden (the mother cares just a little too much and the father cares just a touch too little). There’s a little too much resistance in the plot to the reality of their situation (which, admittedly, would probably slightly less interesting as a book if they were a little more willing to involve outside aid). And there’s a comment about how the reality of the thing hits home due to a change in vocabulary-but I’m not sure the entity that’s involved would be someone that would use that language either (there’s an issue with age, but I’m not sure the spirit involved would be of that age either).

Addie Grey is a child who, after a long period spent in a coma, comes back to consciousness…different. After a series of escalating events her parents are forced to accept that the spirit inhabiting her body may not be the child that they knew prior to her accident. When her mother finally accepts that her child is no longer her own-both she and Addie are forced to confront a series of challenges potentially larger than what they ever would have thought possible. By the end of the ordeal, her mother is convinced that everything has returned to normal-but the suggestion is made that the door has not been shut all the way.

The thing is, the novel is -good-. Not awesome, not amazing, not top of the pile for quality. But it is easy to read, the plot moves well, most of the characterization is solid. There’s a few plot twists that aren’t overused and even the ‘monsters’ such as they are are generally sympathetic (as in, you can understand why this is taking place on an emotional level). You can certainly read a lot worse in this genre. But it’s sort of the horror version of a beach read-this isn’t going to be a classic in genre but if you just want entertainment, you’ll find it.