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Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Little More Spooky Shite

Only one other spooky event for myself and of the light weight sort. Earlier this year visited a friend at her beautiful old Victorian home. Her home, conveniently enough came with a small boy's spirit. Perhaps he died in the home, but no one has looked up any history on the house yet. Also, the spirit of a deceased buddy hangs around my friend most of the time, I reckon for old time's sake. So, going in I always know there are two friendly spirits and one dear, live friend at the old Victorian. Anyway, I was being treated to a tour of the home and wondered if the two - no longer alive - friends would put in a visit. They didn't - not directly - but when we were in the rear of the house, a light bulb overhead exploded with a loud pop. I was startled and freaked. My friend wasn't so I told her when spirits are attempting to materialize they must absorb warmth. So the light bulb might have blown up as one of the household ghosts suddenly absorbed the energy of the lit bulb - or perhaps it was just an old bulb - you never quite know with these things, Oh well! Either way, no doubt, the timing of the bulb's explosion was creepy.

Earlier this month when I was visiting nephew Kirk and his family, Kirk and I visited a couple of old mansions. At one, I asked a visitor center guide if the mansion was haunted. I was joking - kinda - but am glad I asked, because it opened up the topic of 'spooky shite' with my nephew.

Kirk, has loads of spooky shite that happened to him over the years and I'll relate what I can recall here. This is GOOD spooky shite folks!

The Brooklyn Hag

Ages ago, Kirk was lying in his Brooklyn bed and the torso of a creepy old woman floated into his bedroom window. Long stringy hair flowed from her head and needless to say, she was terrifying. Kirk did the traditional Brooklyn dive under the covers and the creature disappeared. Some time later, Kirk visited with his southern born Grandmother and told her of the incident. His grandmother responded in the matter of fact way as if nothing more than a firefly flew into Kirk's room.

"That was just a Hag", she said.

Kirk couldn't believe the casualness of her response. He told me, "It was like 'Oh yeah, we see those floating around, choking people down here in the South every once in a bit - no biggie'.

The MoMA Elevator Ghost

Kirk once worked as a docent at New York City's Museum of Modern Art. He was often there at odd hours and behind the scenes. This was back when Mrs. Rockefeller, was still alive and he saw her occasionally and thought her a very nice woman. Several times while docenting at the museum, Kirk said he heard wild laughter from a back elevator and even saw a man in an old fashioned outfit in the elevator. It kind of weirded him out, and he didn't quite get why. Then one of his fellow docents told him, the man in the elevator was the ghost of a man who was once accidentally locked in the elevator over a weekend - he died in the elevator and now occasionally haunts it.

The Dictator's Daughters

Kirk went to a large Baltimore University and a couple of his classmates were a pair of scary young women, granddaughters of a major, bad arse, third world dictator. No one messed with the girls because they were voodoo witches and could throw a wicked jinx on whomever they chose. You don't believe in voodoo do you? Of course not! Rational people do not - at least not until you see it in action for yourself as did Kirk. First up, the girls did not mess with Kirk. They came into his room once and saw an incense burner, which Kirk got from his grandfather, my father. It was of foreign origin as soon as the girls spotted it they freaked.

"Where did you get that? Who is your family!" they demanded to know.

After unsuccessfully badgering Kirk, they fled - couldn't get out of the room fast enough. My family isn't exactly voodoo central so the incense burner was just that - an innocent incense burner. That is, at least as far as we know. Bwah ha ha ha ha!

One of Kirk's classmates was a straight up, East coast Muslim sort with the bow tie and neat clothing. He was boyfriend to one of the dictator's granddaughters and had carelessly shirked the girl off. Big mistake. Apparently his insulted ex took her revenge on him. Kirk said the guy went overnight from being Mohammad Straight-laced to the hippy-dippy guy in blue jeans with the sole goal of making money and giving it to his ex. That was some whammy she threw on his arse! It resulted in a complete change of personality that everyone noticed and couldn't believe. And who were the spooky granddaughters? Should I tell you? Hell NO! Don't want any voodoo doll out there with my name on it. I have trouble with the voodoo story, but that's because I've yet to have first hand experience with such goings on. That's all that stands between you, me and believing in 'stuff' you know - experience.

Tomorrow is Halloween. There will be fear... BWAH HA HA HA HAAAAAAA!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Time for SPOOKY SHITE - 2010

Spooky Pumpkin at Whole Foods Store, Baltimore MD

Hurrah, it's the time of year to look back and reflect on all the spooky, weird & unexplained stuff of the past year.

Last Spring, a friend of mine came to spend a weekend at my place. The morning after her first night at my house, she told me, she woke during the night. She was of course, in my guest room. She told me, she could hear voices coming from the living room and the hall outside her closed bedroom door. She said she had trouble at first deciding if she was hearing the television, or live people talking - perhaps some of my neighbors had come by the house. She couldn't quite make out what the voices were saying but she could hear laughing and a lively conversation. She said she could hear someone, she assumed was me going up and down the hallway, and then she heard someone running in the hallway.

I explained I had gone to bed and was out cold till morning; there was no TV watching, nor, for once, had I gotten up even once during the night to hit the bathroom.

My friend thought I was pulling her leg and was insistent she heard several different people talking in the living room, me walking in the hallway.

Later that day I got out the white sage and smudged the crap out of my house and my garage. The purpose of the smudging was to let whatever uninvited dead types that were laughing in my house and treading in the hallway know they needed to get the hell out of my home, because it is MY house, not theirs. That night, my friend was also awake for a while, but this time the house was dead quiet – as it should be.

So by now you’ve concluded that I am nuts, and so is my friend, or you’ve had spooky shite happen to you and/or family/friends, so you know what I’m talking about. In my experience the only ones who know there are ghosts out there are the ones that have to put up with them or who have well trusted people in their lives who have dealt with them. Anyone who hasn’t dealt with such things are bound & practically required by law to remain stubbornly insistent that ghosts and such are just figments of one’s imagination. That spooky stuff must ALWAYS be explained away by heavy draughts, rats in the attic or dreams that are mistaken for as being supernatural.

That’s fine by me. As a matter of fact, I wish I were still in the same state of disbelief. Unfortunately, after loads of things happening to me & or family, friends, I have had to give up all pretenses and face up to reality, even if that reality is supernatural. Happily for 'moi' nothing very bad has happened, just weird stuff. May I spend the remainder of my life with nothing worse to pass along than the odd weird tale. Tomorrow – more spooky shite.

Oooh, I have a special Halloween event I will post on Monday November 1st. What is the event? I bet you're just dying to know - Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hurrah! My Visit to D.C.

[Management is obliged to point out this posting on November 7th should actually have been posted earlier, but was delayed. It shall remain here a few days, then magically fly back to its correct date of October 15. Please - return to your gawking.]

Hurrah! Kirk, Sydney and I were off to Washington D.C. To get there we drove to a park and ride lot at the metro.

Kirk and Sydney head up to the trains

The Metro

We took a 20 minute ride to downtown. The train was clean and the scenery was interesting. Before long we made it to our destination.

Washington D.C. Metro

Guess Where we were!

We walked off towards our destination and on our way enjoyed a short, fun stop with the goal of staring at the sun without melting our eyeballs.

The mini-planetarium offering safe and free peering at the sun

Sydney & the Sun - in a brightness contest,
Sydney would win, hands down

After our brief view of the sun spots, we walked another block or two arriving at our destination.
And there it was - HO!

The National Museum of the American Indian, a place I've wanted to visit since it opened back in September of 2004. It represents all American Indians, from Alaska to Argentina. First up here are the impressive bits that give the museum its panache. There was a planter filled with the crops of the southwest tribes – maize, beans and squash. Which brings up the question, did the Southwest Indians have trouble getting their kids to eat their veggies?

"Don't play with your squash Little Hawk, eat it!"

"Aw Ma...."

The Three Sisters - Corn, Squash, Beans

I was totally excited when I entered the museum, particularly as our first objective there was - lunch. We headed straight to the museum’s famous, Mitsitam Cafe. I knew nothing of the Mitsitam, which I've found out means, "Let's Eat". Immediately on entering the place I was flabbergasted - no McDonalds type fare, corn dogs or milk shakes. Instead there were Native western hemisphere foods, served in creative dishes that paid homage to the original food of the Americas. The various cuisines were represented by a kitchen for each geographic area.

In the Great Plains you could have bison chili on fry bread
with with mesquite pinion cookies for dessert

The 'Northwest Coast' serves up the yummies shown above,
washed down with Chia Seed Lemonade

You can imagine how hard pressed I was to decide what to sample. I stood in the center of the room with my empty lunch tray, spinning like a top as I tried to settle on which region's food to sample. The final decision the 'Northeastern woodlands' and the shores of New England. I went for a yummy cup of Quahog Clam & Corn Chowder with Parsley Foam. I has the appetizer for my entree - roasted duck with wild sprouts (below on the right). I've heard of Quahog clams and was amazed they could be purchased at all. I wondered if the shells of the Quahog clams were saved to make wampum and jewelry as in the olden days.


My nephew Kirk opted for the Great Plains, having a spicy bison stew - I tried nicked some - delish! I also sampled his Wild Rice with cranberries, pinon nuts, pumpkin seeds and such - I am so going to get that recipe! Kirk also had a nice bit of fry bread, which was served as a dessert, sprinkled with powdered sugar. Niecelette Sydney went for universal Indian children's fare - that is, chicken tenders with fries.

Kirk found the bison stew a tad too spicy

Sydney enjoyed her chicken tenders with fries

When adequately stuffed, as advised we headed to the fourth floor to start our museum tour. The museum building is built to move its visitors in gentle circles that flow like the seasons. There exhibits detail the old and modern lives of many, many tribes from Northern Canada and Alaska to the tip of Argentina. Looking over my photos I wasn't surprised to see what mostly caught my eye was the Plains Indian's things and the treasures from Northern tribes like the Athabaskan and Inuit.

Friendly little Inuit dolls - I love the
knowing looking doll on the left - what a face!

Charming and warm Inuit boots

Children's toys from the Central Plains of North America

But there were other things I hadn't expected. For example there were many animated movies that told classic Indian tales. They often just played by the displays and dioramas, giving the feeling you were being told your history by a village elder - fascinating.

tale of the 7 brothers

After touring the floor, we came out where we could look down onto the first floor. There was a man playing a hand drum down there, where there were various Indian boats on display, and plenty of casual seating.

Looking down 4 levels to the drumming

One of the exhibits I loved was on traditional clothing worn by Canadian Inuit. The video was about the 'old fashioned' seal skin gloves and how they were gradually replaced by manufactured gloves that added no additional warmth and detracted from the tribe's traditions of having the women produce gloves with seal fur for their families - really, I didn't stay long enough to hear the whole presentation. That is why I have to return some day and take a full day to tour the museum. Hummm... I think I will bring a little portable chair so I can hear the presentations in comfort when my feet give out.

Yes. I'm now officially an old fart.

One more thing, in an alcove on each floor there was a single statue. One was an Indian firing an arrow into the air, but my favorite was this one - a present from Oneida Indians to the museum, and it is entitled Allies in War, Partners in Peace. Awesome statue.

Click to see the incredible detail of turtle,"
wolf and bear at statue base

The museum has gift shops on the second and first floor, and it took all my self-restraint to not go nuts and spend all my retirement money. Life is cruel when you are among the newly frugal.

When we had toured all four floors I decided at some future visit I will have to spend a full day at the museum. I also decided I will bring a folding chair so I can sit and listen to the various exhibits. Read ‘old fart’ comments above.

Outer areas Sydney in front

We decided we had time for one more museum. Even leaving the museum was interesting. There were fountains and ‘streams’ surrounding the building.

On the left, you could look over the waters and into the Mitsitam Cafe

After visiting the National Museum of the American Indian, we didn't have much time left but we decided to stop at the National Air and Space Museum. The entrance was changed since my first visit back in 1985 - how dare they!

Just inside the front doors of the Air and Space Museum

Sydney takes that one giant step, no,that's one giant smile for mankind

The bit of the museum dedicated to the first flight

We visited a room that saluted the Wright Brothers - having been to Kitty Hawk last February, it was nice seeing the exhibits.

After a quick tour, it was time to head back to to Kirk's house. There was more scenery to give a look-see on the walk back to the Metro.

The turrets are the Smithsonian

The fun didn't end with our return home. Later in the evening, Kirk, Nicole and the kids & my sister Dolores, and my niece Bea and her husband Avon, all headed over to the condo home of Nicole's parents, the Colemans. Very chic building! No photos, so you must use your imagination. The Colemans had a dinner - in my honor - can you believe that! I was floored.

It was a pleasant evening. Ok, I hate to focus on food - and you KNOW I do! - but the dinner was to die for! The stand outs of the meal were the best crab cakes that ever floated over my tongue, and an okra/nibblets corn veggie dish I adored & got the recipe for. I have got to post it with my favorite recipes some day.

So it was my last evening in Baltimore - I was flying back to California in the morning. I can't believe it took me so long to take up Kirk's invitation to Baltimore. I won't be waiting long for a revisit. You can count on that, as sure as the maize grows, the rivers run and the bison roam the plains.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Wet Thursday in Baltimore

Dolores, Ain and Nicole, headed for the Baltimore National Aquarium

As my niece Ain says, it wasn't raining but 'spitting' when she picked up Dolores and myself for a day at the Baltimore National Aquarium. The area has a Nicole met us there, as she had the passes we needed to get in.

Modernistic Baltimore National Aquarium at the wharf

I was agog at the size of the aquarium and most of all, the split level set-up. In Monterrey, the aquarium is 2 level and sprawled across the waterfront. But for the heavily developed waterfront of Baltimore, the aquarium has a small footprint and with so many levels I lost track of them all. The bottom layer has the jelly fish displays.

Lovely Clot of Upside Down Jellies

From there you take an escalator up another level to see various reef fishes, pink anemones and coral beds.

Looking at Ray Tank from upper level

Little 'Nemo' fish in Corals

Reef Fishie

Dory fish and Yellow Tang swim in and out of the Reefs

Weaving Through the Exhibits

Another escalator gets you up to the fresh waters of the Amazon with shifty cayman, huge turtles, pancake sized angelfish and loads of HUNGRY piranhas.

Piranha eye you back

Authentic looking Amazon Shore, complete with terrapin

My favorites was display of poison dart froggie after poison dart froggie in rainbow hues.

Green and Black Poison Dart Frog

Rare Panamanian Golden Frog

Blue Poison Dart Frog

Another escalator ride got us to the Rain Forest where stairs could be hiked to get up on the level with sloths, scarlet ibis, cardinals, Sun Bittern and Parrots. And check out this noisy bugger!

Ain and Dolores in the Rain Forest

The ride back down the escalators has as many levels and exhibits on the way back down as on the way up. There are twisting walkways and circular giant tanks with busy schools of fish that swim fast moving marathons around visitors.

Time to head back down the escalators

Loved the lit silhouettes of sharks on the downward ramps

The long ramps back to the ground floor

We made it through the Aquarium in time to see the 1:30 Dolphin show. The indoor arena was huge.

The Dolphin Show

"Hey you! Got any dolphin food?"

We had a great time at the aquarium. There weren't such aquariums on the Eastern coast when I was growing up in New York City, back when dinosaurs ruled the earth. After a nice lunch of 'real food' at Chipotle next to the aquarium, I asked Ain to drop me off at the nearby Phoenix Shot Tower.

The Phoenix Shot Tower

Kirk told me in the old days, they used to drop blots of molten lead from the top of the tower, to a vat of water at the bottom of the tower. The lead blobs formed into perfect circular spheres, cooled and formed by the water. It is wonderful the tower was left intact, as it was only actually ever made bullets and cannon balls from 1828 to 1892. Happily as it was once the tallest structure in the U.S., it was spared the indignity of being flattened in the name of progress.

Loved the Tower's Olde Sign

Lovely old cobblestones line the streets around the Tower

Shot Tower's Stats

Following my quick exploration of the Shot Tower - which is closed - we finally headed home. Ain left, the kids got home and then Kirk got home from work. Hurrah! The next thing I knew, Kirk, Dolores, little Sydney, James and I were off to the movies to see The legends of the Guardians - which is about owls - in 3D.

What ends a day perfectly? Cool Owls in 3D!

I think seeing such a cool movie with my eensie little Great Niecelette & Nephew had me so happy I was particularly blubbery and I got all misty when the owlettes learned to soar and when the heroic Soran saved the day. Perfect end to a perfect day!