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My Kind of Grim Reaper

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Headstones and Queen’s Crowns

Here’s another little painting I did of a place across the street from our library that creates granite memorial headstones. Some are the usual gray and some are the polished pink granite that we see a lot of around here, mainly in WPA era buildings like our courthouse.

I like this site mainly because of the vine growing unchecked up the telephone pole in front. The locals call this vine “Queen’s Crown.” Here’s what I found when I Googled it:

Queen’s wreath (Antigonon leptopus), a buckwheat-family member also known as coral vine and queen’s crown, is a fast-growing Mexican plant that has become a prominent Lone Star resident. This tuberous perennial bears delicate heart-shaped leaves and copious lacey clusters of hanging radiant pink or white flowers throughout summer and autumn. Virtually pest-free, except for enthralled bees, it thrives in heat and withstands droughts in zones 8-9. In fact, too much water will impede blooming. Perfect for sunny fences or arbors in well-drained sites, this easily-grown tendriled tropical can reach up to 30 feet and can become territorially aggressive.

This one has definitely claimed its territory.  More power to it, I say!

 

Nagel Memorial 2

 

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Things That Go Bump…

Halloween is fast approaching, and even though it can’t begin to compare with the sheer bowel-wrenching scariness of the current government shutdown/debt ceiling debacle we have Ted Cruz to thank for, I thought I’d give it a nod with a ghost story from my past.

About seventeen years ago we moved into an old house in Texas which was built in the late 1800s.  It was constructed partly of limestone blocks that had been hand-quarried and featured an upstairs room running the length of the house.  This had served as a sort of dormitory for the boys in the family.  The house is quite small, but it held two families of ten kids each over the years.  When we moved in, it was just the two of us and we marveled how those early folks had managed to thrive in such small quarters.  By the time we bought the place, all the modern conveniences were there, but outside there was a remnant of an old outhouse.

A reminder that we had it pretty good, so no complaining allowed.

Eight months prior to our move to Texas from California, we had to have our 16-year-old long-haired Chihuahua, Lolita, put to sleep.  We had one other Chihuahua, Pepe, and a mini-Dachshund, Rudy, who made the trip with us, along with four big Collie-mix dogs.  All six of them and the two of us traveled together in our Econoline van.  When we stopped at rest stops it was like the clown car at the circus.  We opened the back doors and the dogs just kept on a’coming.

About a month after moving into our new (old) house, we’d turned in for the night in the bedroom downstairs.  Not long after turning out the light, we heard the sound of a little dog running across the wood floor.  It came from the adjoining dining room and ran toward the door to the porch, which was at the foot of the bed.  It stopped there, scratched the door two or three times, and then ran back across the room.  This happened several times over the course of the next hour.

Pepe and Rudy were soundly asleep under the covers.  It wasn’t them running through the room.  The big dogs were outside.  The hair on the back of my neck stood on end.  What the…?

Just about every night thereafter the same routine occurred.  Sometimes it started right after lights out, and sometimes it wasn’t until one in the morning.  A couple of times, soon after turning out the light, I would hear the “ghost dog” (as we’d started to call it) get up from the sofa near the bed, shake its ears enough so I could hear them flap and then jump down to the floor.

We had become friends with one of the “kids,” now in his late 70s, who’d grown up in the house and we nonchalantly inquired if the family had a little dog at any time in the past.  He said no, they hadn’t.

Then it dawned on us that when we moved we’d brought along Lolita’s old dog bed.  Why, I can’t say.  And then we realized that we’d stuck it in the dining room which was serving as a catch-all until we could get everything sorted out after the move.  That’s where the activity seemed to be emanating from.

So we took the dog bed and put it upstairs in the dormitory room.  It wasn’t long before we would hear ghost dog come clicking down the stairs on her nightly run.  She also was heard rustling in the wastebasket next to the desk upstairs while my husband was working there.

I took to sleeping with a little flashlight I called my “ghost buster.”  Whenever the activity started, I would take the flashlight from the table next to the bed and scan the room on the off chance I’d finally see something.  All it did was stop the activity—for a bit.  Some nights I would hear her drop what sounded like one of our other dogs’ Nylabone chew toys on the hardwood floor.  When I lit up the room, there was nothing there.

Other nights, Lolita (by this time we figured it had to be her) would bonk around under the bed like she used to do when she slept in her dog bed under our bed back in California.  We would even hear her tripping over the extension cord on the floor.  Sometimes Rudy and Pepe would look up after hearing her, but they never growled or seemed disturbed by any of it.

This went on for almost a year until the terrible day that Pepe was bitten by a rattlesnake and died hours later on my bed.  We were grief stricken.

Maybe a week or so later, we heard two little dogs running around upstairs, like they were chasing each other.  There was more rustling in the trash and just double the activity in general.

Then, the noises gradually subsided and finally stopped altogether.

I’d had a dream (or visitation?) from Pepe the morning after he died.  He used to wake me up by standing on my chest and licking my face.  That’s what I awoke to—or dreamt I was waking to.  He was backlit by white light and I was crying, I was so happy to see him.

Then he faded away and I realized I was awake and he was gone.

But maybe he wasn’t.  Maybe he hung around with Lolita for a while before they both went off to doggie heaven together.  Maybe…

Happy Halloween

Lolita swami

LOLITA SEES ALL…KNOWS ALL…

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“Trick or Treat!”…Your Papers, Please

I know I’ve posted this cartoon of mine before, but with Mrs. Bachmann doing sooo well in the Republican presidential polls, I thought it was worth another visit.

Especially this time of year, when the scariest Halloween creatures are the ones we saw the other night sitting around that big round table.  Brrrr….

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Happy Hallowthanksmastine!

Help me out here.  Christmas was only just last Friday, right?  Baby Jesus, Santa Claus, presents, ho, ho, ho and all that jazz?  New Year’s Eve wasn’t even on the radar yet.

Barely two days later, I walk into our local mega-mart to find the shelves are being stripped of anything remotely Christmasy and Valentine’s Day crap is hurriedly being stocked in its place. 

Out with the snowmen and angels, in with the big heart-shaped boxes of candy and the stuffed teddy bears that have “I Wuv You” embroidered on their furry chests.

All of the holidays are being compressed into one continuous frenzy.  Last August, Halloween and Thanksgiving reared their collective heads when we were all sweating bullets from the unusually hot summer here in central Texas.  The last thing I wanted to do was contemplate slaving over a hot oven whomping up another turkey dinner.  And the grandkids were giddy to try on Halloween costumes even though I knew that in the heat the polyester material would stick to them like napalm.

Halloween was swept out almost before Oct. 31st, but Thanksgiving and Fall decorations remained, joined by the Christmas onslaught—in spades.  Mass produced straw scarecrows vainly jockeyed for position alongside the more glitzy snowmen and angels. 

It was kind of like watching a beauty pageant, but without the breast implants.

I hate to be one of those old farts who preface their complaints about the modern age with “Back in my day…”, but….I will. 

Back in my day, the holidays were more distinct ( or at least they seemed that way to my little brain.)  There was a separation between Halloween and Thanksgiving.  Christmas decorations and all the attendant hoopla didn’t begin to show up in stores until it was officially December. 

 One holiday was allowed the opportunity to gracefully fade away before the next rose up to take its place.  Now, it’s all one big sales extravaganza. 

I know the economy sucks, but would it be too much to ask for a brief breather between holiday festivities before we’re being urged to hurry up and have fun (and buy, buy, buy) again?

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The Devil Is in the…Box of Dots?

Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network posted this gem from blogger Kimberly Daniels, which was later unceremonio3891489562_34c6a3ba1e_ously taken down by that same site. 

Too much crazy, even for them?  

(The emphasis below is mine.)

“The key word in discussing Halloween is “dedicated.” It is dedicated to darkness and is an accursed season. During Halloween, time-released curses are always loosed. A time-released curse is a period that has been set aside to release demonic activity and to ensnare souls in great measure.

You may ask, “Doesn’t God have more power than the devil?” Yes, but He has given that power to us. If we do not walk in it, we will become the devil’s prey. Witchcraft works through dirty hearts and wrong spirits.

During this period demons are assigned against those who participate in the rituals and festivities. These demons are automatically drawn to the fetishes that open doors for them to come into the lives of human beings. For example, most of the candy sold during this season has been dedicated and prayed over by witches.

I do not buy candy during the Halloween season. Curses are sent through the tricks and treats of the innocent whether they get it by going door to door or by purchasing it from the local grocery store. The demons cannot tell the difference.

Even the colors of Halloween (orange, brown and dark red) are dedicated. These colors are connected to the fall equinox, which is around the 20th or 21st of September each year and is sometimes called “Mabon.” During this season witches are celebrating the changing of the seasons from summer to fall. They give praise to the gods for the demonic harvest. They pray to the gods of the elements (air, fire, water and earth).

Mother earth is highly celebrated during the fall demonic harvest. Witches praise mother earth by bringing her fruits, nuts and herbs. Demons are loosed during these acts of worship. When nice church folk lay out their pumpkins on the church lawn, fill their baskets with nuts and herbs, and fire up their bonfires, the demons get busy. They have no respect for the church grounds. They respect only the sacrifice and do not care if it comes from believers or non-believers.”

Kimberly, honey….to paraphrase Freud, sometimes a candy bar is just a frickin’ candy bar.

 I dedicate this ATC of mine to all the kiddies out there who just want to have a fun Halloween, without all the fundamentalism.

witch parking