Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Halloween Honey's Summer Road Trip

This is all a very hypothetical post.  While two of these locations are within my great state of Minnesota, real life responsibilities often get in the way of fun.  Stupid real life.  However, since it is Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, if life worked out exactly the way I wanted it to, this is what I would do this summer.

Road Trip!  Or, more accurately, weekend trip!  Last week my friend Karen planted the seed in my brain that us girls should take a road trip to the Villisca Axe Murder house in Iowa.  It is approximately six hours from the Twin Cities area and a very do-able trip.  We have birthdays about a week apart from each other in June and I suggest it we do it to celebrate our birthdays, but then, Karen came across some information that made her think she missed the boat on visiting this creepily historic location.  Apparently, the owner is newly widowed, and decided she no longer wanted to own the property, so it goes up for public auction on June 2nd!  Oh no!  What if the new owners decided to make it a private residence and raise their young family there?!  Highly unlikely.  None the less, it lit a fire under our bums to make us want to go there even more, hopefully, our wish to go there in June will be fulfilled.  But the idea of road-tripping to Iowa (What do you call a 100 John Deere tractors in Iowa circling a Dairy Queen on a Saturday night?  Prom.  HA!  Minnesotans love/hate all our neighboring states, we kinda think we are better than the rest of them.  What do you call a pretty girl in Iowa?  A tourist.  What does Iowa stand for?  Idiots Out Wandering Around....okay, I'm done.) made me want to be sure to see all the haunted/infamous for horrible reasons locations in the Midwest before they too are sold at public auction.

Aside from Villisca (What do call a pig on a tractor in the mud in Iowa? State Fair.) there are two locations I really want to try and visit this summer, and if I can spread all these locations out over the three official "summer months" June, July, August, I can totally do it!  First up is a location I have already been to!  But I was five and didn't care at. all.  I just remember the tour guide gave us candy at the end of the tour and that was the best thing evah!  I got Smarties!

Te Glensheen Historic Estate:

Located in beautiful Duluth, MN this historical 39-room mansion was build by lawyer Chester Adgate Congdon, who was originally from Rochester, NY in 1908.  Even though Congdon came to Duluth as an attorney he came to be a huge influence in the iron and copper industries in the area.  When he passed the mansion was left in the hands of his daughters Elisabeth and Helen.  By the time Elisabeth was 35 years old she found herself unmarried with no children.  She decided to open her home and heart to two adopted daughters, Jennifer Johnson and Marjorie Congdon.  Marjorie was....not a well girl.  She was considered the black sheep of the family and constantly asking her mother for money.  She was even officially diagnosed as a sociopath in the early 1940's, but since we all know how well the mentally ill were treated in those days no actions were taken to improve her condition and no mention of her affliction was ever made.

Marjorie went off into the world on her own, married, and had seven children of her own, whom she spoiled with the majority of the spoils coming from her mother Elisabeth.  After things went south with her first husband Marjorie remarried Roger Caldwell, and began to beg her mother for money even more than usually.

On June 27, 1977 at the age of 83 Elisabeth Congdon was found smothered to death by a satin pillow in her bedroom.  He night nurse, Velma Pietila was found on the window seat bludgeoned to death by a candlestick.  It seems she was trying to protect her patient from the assailant.

After much drama and a long trial Roger Caldwell was eventually found guilty of murdering his mother-in-law and her nurse, and Marjorie was was tried with aiding and a bedding but was found not guilty. Marjorie and Roger stood to inherit 8 million dollars.  The pair claimed Elisabeth was refusing to give them the money before she passed.  They wanted to money so they could open a horse ranch.

In 1988 Roger Caldwell committed suicide after his sentence was overturned and converted to a lighter sentence.  In his suicide note he claimed he did not kill Elisabeth Congdon and Velma Pietila.

Marjorie has gone on to live (she's still alive) a life of crime and general craziness.  She was convicted of arson, twice.  In fact, in Arizona, where she lived after her first arson conviction in Minnesota, she was found guilty of 11 counts of arson.  She was accused of killing not only her third husband, but also his previous wife via poisonous marmalade!  She's out now, of course, and as recent of 2010 has been accused of trying to bilk fellow senior citizens out of money through internet fraud.  So, she has adapted to 21st century technology when it comes to being a bad person.

I have been to the Congdon Mansion, officially called the Glensheen Historic Estate (which is now owned by the University of Minnesota Duluth) but like I said, I was about five years old when I was there and was BO-RED the entire tour.  The house was old and musty, the tour guide was old and musty and I heard Mom and Dad whispering about a murder or some such, but the guide played stupid whenever anyone would ask him about this.  Even when I was five I wanted to hear all the salacious details.  I would love the opportunity to go back now that I am older and appreciate things like...old musty houses and people.  Plus, my sister Cori was there only a few summers ago and she says the hype the hell out of it being the "murder house."  They even bring you into the room where it happened.  Aw, way to go, Duluth.  Finally realizing that is the main reason people go there.

As far as investigations at the Glensheen Mansion, I have never heard.  Of course the possibility of it being haunted is high.  Two gruesome murders of two well-liked, kind-hearted women motivated by greed is pretty much a perfect recipe for trapped spirits and high paranormal energy.  Minnesota Ghost Hunters: Has there ever been an investigation at the Glensheen Mansion?  I can't imagine it would be very easy to get any kind of permission from the U of M to get in there at night alone with your group.  Plus, 39 rooms is a lot of ground to cover, but I think there are a few groups in Minnesota that would love to tackle it.

The second location I would love to visit would be The Palmer House in Sauke Centre, MN. I don't know much about this location, but I know it is in high demand with paranormal investigators.  So much so The Palmer house has the luxury of charging paranormal investigation groups to get in there and snoop around.  Sauke Centre, however, oh, I know me some Sauke Centre.  It is one of those towns that falls into the category of "Up Home."  Sauke Centre, St. Joe, Avon, Melrose, Grey Eagle, Spring Hill, all these little towns just north of St. Cloud  I have relatives sprinkled throughout all these small little towns.  My Grandma grew up mainly in Melrose (population, 300-something) and now refers to all of these locations as "up home." She has my entire life and it will always be that way.  In fact, my great-grandmother was in a nursing home in Sauke Centre and passed away there at the age of 94 in the mid-2000's.  You can't kill those hard-headed German women, I tell you.

Unlike Glensheen, The Palmer House plays up it's paranormal reputation.  They host past life regression sessions, psychic readings, and, like I mentioned earlier, paranormal groups chomping at the bit to get in there for a little looksy.  Again, unlike Glensheen, The Palmer House has been featured in quite a few media outlets, TV, books, even Minnesota's own Darkness Radio.  In fact when the Ghost Adventures crew was in Minnesota a few weeks ago conducting a lockdown, I have a pretty good theory they were at The Palmer House.  Mostly because Zak Bagan's tweeted pictures of himself grocery shopping at a Coborn's and all Minnesotans know Coborn's only exist Up Home.  Well, I have a Coborn's about two miles up the road from my does that mean I live up home?  Anoka is considered a part of the Twin Cities...whatever, it's handy when I want ice cream and don't want to change out of my comfy pants.  Who am I kidding?  I go to Target in my comfy pants.

So my road map is laid out before me!  The easiest location for me to go to will probably be The Palmer House.  I'm actually going Up Home for a family reunion next month!  It's not in Sauke Centre, though, it's at some chicken farm in a town I've never heard of, but...well, I'm pretty excited about the chickens.  I once went to a bridal shower on a pig farm!  But, Sauke Centre is probably an hour and twenty minutes tops away from my house, Duluth maybe two hours.  Villisca is the furthest, therefore going to be the trickiest to make happen since my main responsibility, my 18 month daughter, can't be dropped off at the YMCA daycare so I can work out for 45 minutes without freaking out.  That may be an exaggeration.  She does well at grandparents' houses.  It's not like I would leave her at the Y daycare for 12 hours.

Anyways, as it is in summer in Minnesota there is a thunderstorm a' brewin' outside right now and it's making me nervous because I don't like scary weather all that much, so I'm going to go now.

Thanks for going on my hypothetical roadtrip with me, friends!  Let's all go!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Interview With A Ghost Hunter

The one question I was meaning to ask last night and I didn't was, "Do you prefer the term 'Paranormal Investigator' or 'Ghost Hunter'?"  I think if it were me I would prefer Paranormal Investigator because Ghost Hunter conjures up an image of Ghostbusters and Elmer Fudd (wabbit hunter), but Paranormal Investigator means you can investigate ANYTHING paranormal. UFOs, Bigfoot, an array of monsters, and if you are cornered by your more conservative relatives and they ask you what you do, you can say, "I'm a PI" and let them make the assumptions they are going to make, which would be that of you sitting in a car with a long lens camera taking pictures of someone's cheating spouse in a dumpy motel.

Last night I had the extremely good fortune to meet with an interview with real deal Paranormal Investigator Ross Beard of Anoka Paranormal Investigations.  We met in the pouring rain last night at Billy's Bar and Grill in the great city of Anoka, a town we had quite an interesting discussion about, but I'm saving that nugget for another blog entry.

I came to know of Ross after attending a community education class he taught, Ghosthunting: 101.  I found the seriousness and passion he approached the subject with to be quite impressive.  I sort of thought it would be kind of a "Ha, ha, ghosts right?!" type of class (it was a held at a bar, for Pete's sake) but it wasn't.  It was a very eye opening experience and made me realize how much actual work and science goes into this sort of "hobby."  I reached out to Ross to see if he would be willing to let me interview him for my little bloggity boots here and he was more than receptive, AND by the end of the interview I found myself being formally invited into his group, Anoka Paranormal Investigations!  I told him that I was a huge chicken and me doing investigations may be something long, long, if ever, in the future, and I would love to play more of a behind-the-scene role as some sort of Web Mistress for the group, which he agreed to.  Just happy to be on the team, coach!

I started out with the most basic question, "Why Paranormal Investigating?  How does someone get into this field?"  Ross said he had been interested in this sort of thing since his early teens growing up in Mound, MN.  "I was the only one who would, ya know, spend the night in the haunted house as a kid." He also credits the show Ghost Hunters as being a huge influence as to why he went into the field, "When I first saw it I was like 'Finally, someone is showing this stuff.'"

Being a busy working husband and father doesn't really lend itself well to this sort of field, however.  Ross did admit that he does find it hard to strike a balance between investigation and evidence review and family life since the former is such tedious work.  "We have five camera set up, all running for six hours.  That's thirty hours of footage that needs to be gone through, along with still photos, digital recordings, and everything else.  It takes a lot of time away from my kids.  When we first go into it we thought it would be kind of fun and light-hearted, but for the clients, we are their last hope.  They contact us when they have no one else to turn to, when they're one step away from going to the loony bin."

"It's worth it though," Ross continued, "for that whisper of an EVP, for the shadow you catch for a split second on video."

There are some people in the world who aspire to live in a haunted house, but for most people it is not the ideal situation.  That is why Anoka Paranormal and most other paranormal investigating groups stress confidentiality.  "They don't want the neighbors to know, they don't want people coming over to their house to know." Ross said.  When investigating, if Ross is able to debunk something he isn't disappointed, "That's our job.  To debunk, do find another reason for why all these things are happening.  We present the information we find to the client in black and white.  Good and bad, no matter of what the evidence we collect."  Anoka Paranormal is also a big believer in getting the family involved with the investigation.  "We had one lady throw us her keys, say 'There's a frozen pizza in the freezer and pie in the fridge, lock up when you leave!'  Oh no, get back here, your helping us."  Ross believes when doing an investigation they are merely taking a snapshot of their 24/7 lives in this location, they need to be in on the investigation, "And of course, for liability reasons."  Ross has discovered most activity seems to happen in the early morning hours.  I asked him why he thought that was.  "If you go outside in the in the middle of a sunny day and shine a flashlight, how many people are going to notice that?  Now if you shine that same flashlight in the dark, when everyone is quiet and asleep, you'll get a lot more notice."

As I spoke to in an early blog post about the Paranormal and Religion, I had to ask Ross if he did anything special to prepare himself for an investigation.  "Prayer of protection." he quickly answered, "And I tell everyone else in my group to do the same thing to whatever they believe in."  He said that is something you fast become schooled in, what other people believe.  Not only to help the homeowners and guide them in the right direction when it comes to "cleansing" the location, "We haven;t done our job unless the family is at peace.  When we present some people with the evidence we collected and it shows that their place is haunted some people say, 'Okay, cool great.' And don't want to do anything about it, but most people ask us, 'What do we do now?' and that is when we need to contact a priest or whatever they believe or feel comfortable with to help put these spirits to rest."  Ross then said, "That's something you never seen on all those shows.  They are never done, they never do anything to help out the owners."

"What do you think of all those shows?"  I asked him, "Ghost Hunters is my favorite, but in the last few years they started using emotions as evidence and I don't agree with that."  I asked him about my personal fav, Ghost Adventures, "Those guys..." he said, "They get what they ask for.  You go out looking for something demonic, you're going to find it."  Ross has so far been truly blessed (in my opinion) to not come across anything demonic, but we did have a rousing discussion about Ouiji boards and I said if I were ever stupid enough to use one and found that, whoops, opened a gate to Hell, I said I would burn it.  "No!  Never burn it!"  Ross said, "You drowned it!  They can't cross water.  But it's not the Ouiji board that opens gateways.  It's the people.  People don't realize how much power they have."  Amen brother.  I asked him how willing the clergy has been with not only talking about these sorts of thing,s but with helping out if need be.  "Depends on who you talk to.  And if you don't like what this guy has to say, all you gotta do it find another priest."  He then alluded to having a priest on speed-dial, as it were, who has helped him out with many investigations.  I asked who it was and what church he was affiliated with, but I was shut down, in the nicest way possible!

We then got into the science of things.  Now, this is the part I have a hard time wrapping my TV-and-wine soaked brain around.  I get it, in theory, but I don't get it.  It's like math.  I'm terrible, TERRIBLE at math, but I had one teacher in one grade in high school and with her I got it, but then I forgot it, so oh well, at least I passed.

"I tell people all the time, it's more about physics than it is about paranormal."  Ross said.  He was kind enough to keep the science chat to a minimum because I told him, "Yea, I don't get it."  He gave me a brief lesson on quantum physics (for those of you who know me, you can only imagine the look of confusion mixed with horror on my face, but I really tried hard, you guys!  It was like when the monkey in Homer Simpson's brain set the tambourine down and and pointed at the person talking to him like, "Pay Attention!") And when Ross was telling me about how the city of Anoka traps energy because of the limestone beneath the streets filled with quartz I was fascinated and kinda annoyed at myself that I didn't understand it better (I'm saving a lot of the Anoka-centric and Billy's stuff for another blog post.  Local interest!) Maybe I should see if community ed. offers a Science For Dummies Who DayDream Too Much class.

I asked Ross if there was any location he would flat-out refuse to investigate.  After a bit of contemplation he answered, "No."  Well, how about this then, I asked "If you ever run into something demonic, would that make you quit?"  "No."  He answered.  Bad Ass.

I had such a blast interviewing Ross last night and I got to hear first hand some great ghost stories about not only the place we were sitting in, but a lot of private homes in the area.  So, thank you, Ross for letting me interview you and I so look forward to working with Anoka Paranormal Investigations!  Funny story, when I was trying to tell Ross all the great marketing opportunities the internet has to offer I told him, "You can purchase domain name for thirty dollars for two years!" He literally took thirty dollars out of his wallet and threw it at me!  It was awesome!  I felt like some sort of stripper!  Make it rain!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Happy (Or Sad?) World Goth Day!

It's World Goth Day today, according to the internet.  I'm not sure exactly what that means, I assume it is a celebration of all things Goth.  Music, fashion, trends, that chick on that one show, etc.  I'm pretty excited about it though, the timing is a bit funny since I heard a song on Pandora Radio that I hadn't heard in years and it took me back to how Goth and cool I used to be.  No lie, being a parent makes you a total lame-o.  The song is called Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm of a War Drum.  I can't exactly listen to that with my daughter hanging out in the backseat.

 I used to be what I am calling a "pseud-Goth" back in my teen years, late '90's and early 2000's. An admired of the aesthetic, hair, clothes, make-up, but approached it reeeeeeaaaaalllly half-assed.  And I assumed my undying love and devotion to all things Nine Inch Nails and Trent Reznor were enough to bring me into the Goth fold, I just figured no one had to know how I once declared, "I've never heard a Destiny's Child song I didn't like!"

 It was a culture that celebrated music, I love music and I used to devote A LOT of time to it.  I had a subscription to Spin Magazine (I was, and still am kind of against Rolling Stone since they never a feature a female on the cover without her in some state of undress) I sought out almost every new band they recommended, and I even had cool friends that would make me mix tapes of songs I wouldn't have otherwise heard (not that I don't have cool friends anymore, I just don't have a tape player anymore.) I had black hair, I wore almost exclusively band t-shirts or my dad's clothes (my parents divorced around this time and when I would spend the night at my dad's house I never packed clothes, so I would always end up rooting around in his closet long after he went to work for something to wear to school.  What a weirdo!) And I was generous with the eyeliner.  But I could ever really get on board with the thought and feeling behind what I thought being "Goth" meant.  I was never an outcast (even though I often wore men's clothes) I was generally a happy girl and me and my sister loved to blast some pop and hip-hop music quite loudly in whatever beater she was driving around at the time.  I tried to be sad and mopey, but it just didn't fit on me.  I loved, and still love, the emotions in Nine Inch Nails's music because I think it's something I've never experienced and the empathy in me rises up and I love it because it's a nice emotion to feel even if it kinda bums you out at the same time, and they kick so much ass live, Best Concert Evah!  And I saw them only a few years ago when Reznor was WELL into his forties, I can only imagine what it must have been like to see him fifteen or twenty years ago.

I was pretty good at convincing the normals that I was a real Goth though however because in those days I worked at a gym (a total job for a Goth, right) and one of my fellow tan, blonde male employees walked by me and just yelled "Marilyn Manson!" When I later approached him with a "WTF?" he said, "I'm sorry, it's the first thing I think of when I look at you."  Whatever, dude.  Since I was such a Reznor purist I took that as an insult.  Even when I was out of high school and working my first full-time job as a receptionist at a law firm my co-worker (and now one of my longest friends) Christy used to call me "Goth Rox" and I didn't even have black hair anymore.  Maybe there is a part of me that is Goth to it's core.  That's aiight.  I still look at those kids with affection, and I look at the Goth adults with even more revere.

It's hard to make the transition to a teenager with poor, Hot Topic provided fashion choices to an adult who has to live and function in the real world.  There aren't many who can make the leap with grace and be taken seriously.  Those in the entertainment industry have it easier especially if they came into the game with that vibe.  Robert Smith of The Cure still slap-dashes his lipstick and brushes his hair with a pillow and gets out there and sings those songs like he did twenty-some years ago.  Same for Tim Burton, Neil Gaiman, and even my beloved Trent Reznor.  He's more of a muscle man who has an Oscar a neatly clipped hairdo look, but he still for sure gives off a Goth-y vibe.  And to a lesser extent, Zak Bagans (I seriously just typed his last name "Baggins" as in Bilbo) from Ghost Adventures.  He is an adult with a Goth look.  Black hair, black clothes, t-shirts with some of the most decorative crosses I've ever seen this side of the jean pockets of a Real Housewife.  But he's also pretty muscle-y...maybe the trick is that you need to either be the artistic wisp you once were in the '80's with strange hair and glasses, or you better hit them gym.  Maybe I was ahead of my time, working at a gym in the throes of my Goth phase.

I will always hold a special place in my heart for the Goths of the world.  They are my spirit animal, as it were.  

Happy World Goth Day, friends!  Even if you weren't ever a Goth, you probably know a couple, or knew a couple, or were set up on a date with one, like that one dude that wore a long leather duster jacket and spun in a whimsical circle singing Tori Amos songs (that ones for you, Christy.)  

Friday, May 18, 2012

Religion And The Paranormal

I had the very good fortune of being raised by two incredibly open-minded parents.  Nothing was really off limits when it came to questions and nothing was really set in stone when it came to rules.  It was a house of fluidity, and I think because of that, me and my sister were supernerds who rebelled against nothing well into our late teens and then ended up getting married, moving to the suburbs and having children in our late '20's.  Free wheelin' parenting gets you boring and dorky kids, apparently.  But, I am glad that I have the parents that I have because most kids don't.  One topic that most parents are the strictest on is religion.  Rarely, I have found, do parents allow their kids to kind of pick their own path and question things when it comes to religion.

My Mom was raised Catholic, somewhat strictly.  They attended church every Sunday, she went to Catholic school for a while, and even when my grandpa retired we went and worked as a caretaker of the church's grounds.  He was very well-loved within the church community and when my grandpa passed away the church was packed for his funeral.  I see where my mom's disillusion with religion comes in, however.  My grandpa was very spiritual and a very good man, my grandma, however, well her goal with being as "Catholic" as she is,  is to just barely avoid hell.  She's not a bad person, per se, she just does what she thinks she is suppose to do for the Get-Out-of-Hell free card.  Still goes to church every week, tithes what she can to the church, prays the rosary every night, but it's all kinda on the insincere side.  I won't really get into why that is, she is a special breed of woman, but I see why when raising us Mom didn't really emphasize going to church and praying the rosary and visiting dead relatives in the cemetery, because it was all really a bunch of bullshit.  If you want to pray, then pray, there isn't a special set of words you need to say or props you need to have near you to do it, God isn't in a building once a week, He's everywhere all the time, and why would you want to go and visit a loved one's gravesite? That's not them, it's just their decaying body.  This is what I was raised to believe, and she's right, as far as I'm concerned.  My dad didn't really have much to say about religion when we were growing up because he was raised in your typical, casual Minnesotan Lutheran household.  We did sometimes go to church on Christmas and Easter, whenever we spent the weekend with our grandparents you better believe it we had to go to church with them, but Grandma kept us quiet with sticks of Doublemint gum.  Whenever I chew a piece of mint gum, it still reminds me of St. Tim's.

As I mentioned in blog posts before, growing up we were exposed to the idea of the paranormal quite a bit, since it was something that interested our mother.  She shared her books with us, we all watched TV shows about that kind of thing together (maybe this is what made me and my sis such nerds...) and yes, everything is true.  Aliens, ghosts, Bigfoot, and if you are told otherwise it's probably just a government cover-up.  It's almost like The X-Files was made especially for her.  But, out of all the paranormal things that existed, demons where the realist of them all.  This didn't terrifying me at all as a child, oh no.  I certainly didn't lay in bed a night waiting to be infiltrated by a demon (actually, when I was a child, my biggest fear at night was an alien breaking into my bedroom and stealing my heart, as odd as that may sound.)  Even though Mom doesn't put much stock into organized religion, she is a big believer in holy things.  Blessed things.  God's protection.  She may not pray the rosary, but she has a bunch of them in a drawer.  Anything that could be perceived as demonic or inviting to the devil was outright banned in our house.  I even was the '90's Board Game Ask Zandar for Christmas one year, and Mother thought it was a little too close to a Ouiji Board and was mad at whoever got it for me. (I'm pretty sure it was my Aunt Carla, my mom's sister, just to annoy her.)  We even watched The Exorcist on Easter one year (now if that isn't a story ripe for therapy, I don't know what is.)  I just want to say, the year we did that I was well into my teens, it's not like Mom was forcing me to watch these movies as a little kid.

Now, in my pursuit of the paranormal as an adult I am starting to wonder where a lot of these paranormal people fall when it comes to religion.  I know there is quite of few Christian beliefs that state there is no such thing as ghosts.  I actually had a really nice, very Christian girl explain to me this viewpoint.  She said she didn't believe in ghosts because God would never do that to a soul.  He would never not release them after death, either to heaven or hell.  However, she believed anything that was thought to be a ghost was actually a demon trying to trick the willing to be tricked.  I understand how someone who believes that God is Love has a hard time coming to terms with why their benevolent creator would allow a soul, no matter how tortured, to remain on this plane of existence.  She certainly gave me something to think about, but then again, I was brought back to something my mother taught me.  God doesn't make good things happen and God doesn't make bad things happen.  God is an overseer.  I understand where she is coming from with this theory, but I'm not 100 percent on it.  I like to believe that God makes good things happen and the bad things that happen are just bad luck.  I'm a big believer in thanking God when something super awesome happens, or even when that moron who wasn't watching where they were going on the road looks up at the last minute and sees my car.

I also don't know if I believe my friend's logic on God being such a benevolent being that He would never trap someone on this plane of existence. To believe in God calling all the shots all the time, then you give up the idea of free will, and if God wouldn't want someone to suffer after death why would He allow them to suffer in life?  Why would anyone suffer in life?  I believe in free will, and the choices we make make us the people we are.  I also believe in the notion of unfinished business, and the idea of something happening so violently and sudden that you are truly stuck.  That would explain such mental health issues as PTSD and that sort of thing.  You get stuck in the moment, and sometimes you don't know which direction to go.  It happens to the living all the time, and if you die in a rash of unexpected, violent circumstances your soul gets stuck and you don't know what to do.

I think most paranormal people have a certain level of respect for religion.  After all, you can't really believe in ghosts if you don't believe in some kind of afterlife.  And when those boys of Ghost Adventures suddenly get a hot sensation on their skin and bam! three fingered scratch on their backs or legs the first thing they yell out is "Mocking of the Trinity!!" one has to have some sort of belief.

I think if I were to ever gather the courage (and equipment) to actually attempt a ghost hunt of any kind I just see myself being loaded up with all the blessed crosses and rosaries and holy water I could get my hands on.  Mostly because my mother would insist I bring all these things with me, but because it also wouldn't hurt to have a little of God's protection on your side.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Psychic Party Round-Up

Yes!  I'm blogging!  How did I get this opportunity, you may ask?  Well, I had it coming to me.  Yesterday was Mother's Day, and while yes, I did have the chance to sleep until ten am, it was still an incredibly busy day with love of my life 18 month old daughter visiting all the Grandma's we and she are related to.  And as we were about to leave standing in the backyard at my mother-in-law's house and my husband was painting a picture of what I was going to be able to do when I got home, "glass of wine, bath, blog...." as I began to daydream, barely gripping the leash of my K9 baby Phineas, picturing myself relaxed and quiet...out from the house sprang Hermione, my MIL's little yipper dog.  Phineas took off like a bullet after her, and to preserve my arm from leaving it's socket, I simply let go of the leash.  Hermione circled around me, and around came Finn, trailing his his nylon retractable leash that hadn't retracted, around my ankles they both went, the leash wrapped around, and Finn still continued to chase Hermione at full steam ahead.  Down I went, and eventually the leash unwrapped itself, but I was left with a stingy, painful burn on both my ankles leaving it very difficult for me to walk.  I didn't cry though!  I made sure of that since about seven children circled me as I was on the ground waiting for my reaction.  I held it together (until I got into the car) What a champ!  And a bath was out of the question for me, but I did have a glass of wine dammit, and read my book, since I was feeling too sorry for myself to write.

Now today, since I'm still a bit dodgy on the whole walking situation, my husband had to stay home from work to help me wrangle our daughter and niece.  I just kicked him and the kids out of the house to enjoy the beautiful day before it got too hot...and now it is so silent and nice in the house and I am pretending today in my own special Mother's Day, so blogging I am!  And let me tell you all about my Psychic Party I had on Saturday!

Saturday night I had a little girls get-together for a general celebration of women on Mother's Day Weekend.  I asked the psychic, a great woman named Ardys who I have known for the last five years if she would come out of retirement and do a little reading for a small group of friends as a personal favor to me.  She was more than willing to, which was wonderful!  Ardys was a professional psychic for 30 years but decided to quit after she was starting to run into too many sad and scary situations.  She even read for one man who she knew was going to kill someone, and didn't know what to do about it.  She told the man, "you have a lot of anger."  But who knows whatever came of that situation.  But, Ardys had long since retired and was working at Party Papers on a part time basis for about 20 years.  She said she still does pick up on things for people, but only approaches them if she feels it is a health risk and they need to see their doctor.  She told me when people usually ask her to do readings for them she says no, but she said to me, "When I do agree to do readings I usually know that I am doing them for a reason."  I relayed this comment to the rest of the group, which freaked them out for some reason.  I guess you had to have heard her say it, because the context wasn't ominous or scary.  She was a positive!  But, alot of the women I had over were a bit on the nervous side.

We all gathered about an hour or so before Ardys arrived and made inane chit-chat.  For some reason we were all talking about how we have never baked bread from scratch and how, while delicious, homemade bread is a waste of time.  It was a flippant conversation that had nothing to do with anything.  Ardys arrives, and askes, "Is anyone pregnant?"  None of us are (or none of us think we are I guess I should say) and then she said, "Were you guys actually talking about baking bread?"  Holy cats!  She laughed, "I didn't think it was actually that, I thought it was more of a 'bun in the oven' thing but I saw bread baking."  So she instructed all of us to make homemade bread because you learn life lessons when you bake bread.  Duly noted.

Since everyone else was a bit on the hesitant side, I volunteered to go first since I knew Ardys personally.  We went in to my kitchen (where she told me to set her up since, "kitchens have good karma.") and we began my reading.  The way she does it is by touch.  It's like a mix of palmistry and psychic touch (I know there is a technical term for this, but I don't remember what she called it.)  She first told me how weird my hands are (because they totally are) and told me what a mixed personality I am.  I attributed this to my intense Gemini-ness.  We also discussed some personal issues about how I try to take on too much and so on and so forth, and how I need to ask for help more (which is something my sister tells me quite frequently) and how she sees me near the ocean sometime next year.  Woot!  Road trip!  We had a good session and I felt I was given a lot of insight and made to feel like I can make some positive changes in my life a little bit.  No big overhaul required.  She then said, "I feel like you have a question I didn't answer."  And I told her that since I am such an avid writer and I enjoy it so much will I have ever have any kind of success with it.  To which she replied, "if you make your world bigger, you will."  Ardys then asked me, "I feel like you have started to write about one thing in particular but I can't see what it is."  And I told her that I was trying to learn more and write more about the paranormal since it is something that interests me and has interested me since I was a child.  To which she replied, "Don't get taken in by charlatans."  That surprised me a bit.  She continued, "And when you are searching out things to read about the paranormal and that sort of thing, try to read older books.  Go to the library and see what kind of older things they have, if that makes any sense."  And then she noted how it's good for me to be alone like when I go to the cemetery.  Wow!  I often don't tell  alot of people I tent to walk to the cemetery, because it's kinda like, weirdo behavior, but hell, I'm gonna do it more often now!  I was very pleased with my reading and found it to be very accurate.

As for the rest of the group, since it's personal information I'm not going to go through a list of names and what they were told, but they all found her to be spot-on, good, bad or otherwise.  I am so happy that things worked out they way they did and she was the real deal.  Not that I didn't think she was, but like I said, I had known and worked with Ardys for five years and she never "read" me or told me anything that would be perceived as psychic information.  She also told me burning sage before hand was an excellent idea!  Cleansing!

Also, I hit up Trader Joe's before the festivities and managed to get all kinds of yummy cheeses, crackers dips and bread to feed ten people all for under 30 dollars!  So here is an unpaid advertisement for Trader Joe's!  If you ever going to have a party, get your snacks there!  Plus, 3 Buck Chuck.

The thing that Ardys told me that stands out the most (that has to do directly with this blog, I should say) is to not be taken in my charlatans.  This struck me, first and foremost by the use of the word "charlatan."  What a great word!  But, also, I thought back to to who and what I have met or done so far in my pursuit of knowledge when it comes to the paranormal.  I went to a GhostHunting Class, but I felt that those guys were very sincere and passionate about what they did, and I've had Ardys over for a psychic reading, but she herself was the one to tell me not to be taken in.  Hmmm...I do watch a lot of TV shows about ghosts and ghost huntings, and a lot of paranormal shows in general, but I don't always 100 percent believe everything I am seeing, could those be the charlatans she's talking about?  Or am I yet to encounter them in the my little path I am going down?  Maybe it was a bit of a warning.  Maybe as I attempt to make my world bigger to improve my writing skills I will come in contact with more people who are full of it, which is true in any case, not just in pursing an interest in the paranormal.  I think if you were pursing say, a hobby of collecting basball cards, the more people you meet the more likely you are going to run into someone who tries to sell you a counterfeit card.

I think that is the beauty of a psychic reading.  It's all in the personal interpreitation.  And I think the first thing you attribute whatever you have been told to is the first thing in your life your probably need to work on, or need help with.

In my quest to learn and experience more about the paranormal I will now forever be on the lookout of charlatans.  And I better get into some kind of swimsuit ready shape if I'm going to the ocean next year!

Friday, May 11, 2012

World's Worst Ghost Hunter

I am trying to become more brave when it comes to the paranormal.  I am so interested in it and really love all the exploration and contemplation of all the unknown things, but I am a total chicken.  I have been reading my favorite Ghost Hunting Muscle Man Zak Bagan's book, Dark World, about his experiences as a paranormal investigator, and strangely enough, it's not keeping me up at night.  Not because it isn't good!  It's very good!  I'm really enjoying it and find it interesting, but because unlike Zak's show, Ghost Adventures, it isn't scaring me to the point of tears sometimes (like, no joke.)  I think it's because my mind doesn't have the creepy text font used to caption the EVPs nor does my brain have the fancying editing or the Travel Channel budget to relay Zak's experience I read on the page to look anything like they do on TV.  So, thank God for my lack of imagination, I guess?  Lack of scary imagination, I should say.  I'm not picturing the ghost of say, an executed convict to look like some sort of Rainbow Bright character or anything like that, I am just making him a lot less scarier than he probably ever was in life or death.  Ghost Adventures the TV show continues to frighten me to no end, since my husband and I finally watched the Linda Vista Hospital episode that had been sitting in the DVR for months the other night and I was afraid to get up and go the the bathroom. 

So, in my attempt to force myself to be braver I decided to make, at best, a halfhearted effort to communicate with the resident spirit at my job, Party Papers, the party supply, Halloween and costume store.  The building that houses Party Papers, which is called Main Street Square, has been standing in it's spot nestled between 1st and 2nd Ave on Main Street in Downtown Anoka, MN (the Halloween Capital of the World!) since around 1880.  The buildings age really shows in the basement where our store and the other places of business in Main Street Square use for storage and backstock.  The basement can be described as nothing but dank and deteriorating.  This is the case for most basements in the buildings in Anoka, since I have had the (good, bad, or otherwise) fortune of working in another old Anoka building many years ago with an equally creepy and cruddy basement. 

Here is a picture of the stairs to our front stockroom in the basement of Main Street Square:
I go on about the basement only to give you an idea of how old the building is.  Yes, the basement is scary and yes, a hobo once found a way in from a hole in a side street and lived in the basement for actually quite a while until one of the other merchants found him and kicked him out, but the basement is not where the ghost resides.  Morris likes to kick it upstairs with us girls. 

Morris is the name we've given our resident ghost even though no confirmation on a name has been found. And the theory is Morris isn't the only ghost that haunts Party Papers and Main Street Square, a woman in clothing from that era has also been spotted, but we all know Morris personally. 

Our building on Main Street has always been a store of some kind or another even in the late 1880's and we believe that Morris used to keep the shop that was there long before we moved into the building.  At first, what we feel was attention getting measures, Morris would knock napkins off of displays and send them flying across the store.  So much so he frightened costumers away.  The owner of Party Papers, Mary, who lucky for Morris is an incredibly spiritual person with a wide-open mind decided to call in a medium to see if there was indeed someone there looking to be noticed.  The medium immediately saw him.  A bald, older man where clothing that would be common in the late 1880's, sweeping the store.  She sensed that he was a benevolent man who meant no harm and was a kind person in life.  This satisfied Mary, but it didn't stop Morris from wrecking displays.  After a particularly active night, after the shop closed, Mary said to the spirit, "You and I are both shop owners, and I want to appeal to you on that level.  When you ruin my displays or throw my merchandise around you make it hard for me to sell things and I could possibly lose customers and money.  I am asking you, one merchant to another, please stop throwing my things around."  After that Morris stopped.  He may have stopped throwing napkins and paper plates, but he hasn't left us, by no means.

Our website manager came in one day and saw him, describing him to Mary just as the medium had.  This man had no knowledge that our store had a resident ghost and it freaked him out quite a bit.  Only a few short months ago another employee witnessed a statue that lifted up on it's own and was moved clear across the store.  I personally have seen our sticker displays spin around on their own and there was an incident between Morris and I a few years ago where I was making price tags and setting them down and he would just go ahead and take them when I turned my back to them.  One of my favorite stories happened just this past October when a Ghost of Anoka tour stopped by and the story of our ghost was being told, down came an entire end cap of plates and napkins, all for the tour goers to see.

Mary did do her homework too and went to the Historical Society. Sure enough, a picture from around 1890 was found of the building, and proudly standing in front of his shop was our Morris, holding a broom. 

Last night I worked at Party Papers by myself, and I thought, what better time than try to face my fears and attempt to make contact with Morris than when I was alone!  I knew Morris wasn't a bad guy and only wanted some attention.  So, I started by just walking around the store (I just want to say, the four hours I was alone, we had approx. 3 customers come in, so I wasn't NOT working...) just seeing if I could "sense" anything.  I did get a little queasy, but I think I was just psyching myself out.  And I was quick to mistake the air conditioner kicking in as "cold spots" (so weird, these cold spots are all occurring right underneath an air vent!)  Then, I attempted to just be still for a while, so I stood behind the cash register.  No dice.  And I found I cannot stand still because I was playing with my lanyard with all my keys on it the entire time I was "still."  So then I set the lanyard on the counter next to the register.  Nothing.  And then it was time for me to close so I had to shut all the lights off and I got really scared and did the money as fast as I could and hit the road.  I am the world's worst ghost hunter. 

But!  Personally, it's huge that I even maybe thought about attempting to make some sort of contact.  I wanted to, but my chicken-ness just got the best of me.  I'll get there!  One day. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

To Be A Kid Again

As I like to do during beautiful days such as today, I took my daughter Violet, 18 months and my niece Evie, 15 months, for a walk this afternoon.  We went on a walk because being a stay-at-home-mom/aunt can get so boring sometimes your eyes will bleed.  I was having one of those days today, so away we went!  I got the babes (well, technically toddlers) into the 'ol reliable double stroller and off we were.  I skipped the Mississippi River Community Park, which is a block away from my house. It is a beautiful park with a nice walking trail and playground equipment, but I have dubbed it "the rape park" because it's very wooded, the river runs along side it, and there are always creepers hanging out there all the time (not on weekends though, when it's usually populated with nice families, or dads kicking around the soccer ball with their kids or whatever) so I tend to steer clear of it when I am alone or with two toddlers.  So, we headed for an area I call the "neighborhoods" behind my neighborhood.  This area is only a short walking path away from my house.  It is an older development, the houses are mostly from the 60's and 70's, there are always people home during the day on weekdays, mostly senior citizens meticulously looking after their lawns.  I like to walk back here because I feel safe, it's a fun little route and I can take a number of ways back home!  One such way is through Forest Hills Cemetery.  

I didn't plan on cutting through the cemetery today because I didn't think the girls would tolerate that long of a walk (last summer, when they were both still babies I could walk forever because they would usually fall asleep, now they love the birds and the wind and the trees and cars that zip by, but they also want to get out of the stroller and run around, and get antsy very easily.)  I was armed with their favorite treat, Twizzlers, and two sippy cups of water, so imagine my surprise when we made it to Forest Ave. without incident.  I figured if they were still content there wouldn't be any harm in taking a nice long walk through the cemetery today.  I turned down the street and we got to the very edge of the cemetery....then my daughter started to wave.  She waves all the time.  Usually at people or animals, and rarely at nothing.  I will say though, every morning we get up and open the front door to let the dog out and we do say "Hi Outside!" and wave to the still quiet neighborhood, but that is about the extent of it.  As she waved I stopped the stroller and watched my niece Evie, who was happily chomping on her Twizzler, greeting no one.  And she is a champ at waving at people, usually with both hands.  It's not that I was afraid of who or whatever Violet was waving at, but I decided at that point maybe we shouldn't cut through the cemetery and we headed back home.

I think if I wasn't by myself with the two girls, if my husband had been with, I would have felt a little braver (okay, maybe I was a bit....afraid) and we would have gone into the cemetery but, I was already huffing and puffing from pushing a collective weight of 40 pounds and walking for a half hour, it was time to go home (any excuse, right?)  So, I just said, "That's right.  Hi Cemetery People."  and turned the stroller around and headed for home.

Now, I am a big believer in young children being more open and sensitive to seeing ghosts and spirits.  I believe it to a fault.  I believe as we grow up that type of thing is either squashed in us, or that we are told so often it's not real so we believe and and we either choose not to see it, or those spirits and ghosts don't waste their time with adults who have closed minds and busy schedules.  Children, like cats and dogs, are more open to seeing things that us oh-so-important-and-busy adults may not see because they are open to it.  My dog is so open and inviting to just about anything or anyone who comes over to my house I don't even think he would be that much of a help if I found myself alone at night in the rape park with just him for protection.  He LOOKS menacing though, so that's all that matters.

  Kids are the same way.  It's trust.  Trust is so ingrained in children and that is why unfortunately so many of them are abused and taken advantage of.  Even after I yell at my daughter for being naughty (usually because she smacked Evie in the face) and take her toy away from her, she comes running to me for hugs and comfort.  When this happens my heart usually breaks and I feel terrible for yelling at her in the first place, but she does have to learn not to hit...but think of all the kids out there who are slapped or hit by a parent, and then run to that same parent for comfort.  It is an unsettling thought for a cynical adult like me to have.  But, it is the same theory applied to why kids see ghosts and spirits and things on other planes of existence.  They don't fear it and they accept it as it is because they haven't been taught otherwise.

Here is a story:  My cousin's daughter Bailey was probably about five when her and her mother were driving past a cemetery one day.  Bailey asked her mom "Why are those people so happy?"  Her mother said, "How do you know they are happy?"  To which Bailey replied, "Because they are all smiling."  Now, what kind of five year old makes that up?

When I was a child I had an imaginary friend.  Her names was Cherry and she had curly red hair and lots of freckles.  Lately, I have been trying to think back on Cherry, I wasn't one of those children who insists that my imaginary friend has dinner with us and her own place setting and that type of thing, I just liked to push her on our swing set and play out in the yard with her.  I don't remember too much about Cherry, other than how she looks, and I kinda doubt she was a spirit, since her looks, the bright red hair and freckles, are a very common trait on my dad's side of the family.  I'm sure I was just manifesting a friend out of how a few of my cousins looked.

If Violet did truly see a ghost or spirit today, I'm okay with that.  And if ever there comes a time when she is a little older and she comes to me and says something like "Mommy, this old man wants to stay for dinner." and gestures to absolutely nothing, I am going to take a deep breath, try not to pee myself, and set the old man a place at our dinner table.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Coming Soon...Dark Shadows!

Let me just begin by patting myself on the back.  I just successfully put two toddlers to bed (one 18 months, one 15 months, respectively) without too much incident.  Yes, I do have my daughter and niece everyday (well, my niece from 8am to 5pm) and we nap without a problem in the middle of the day the majority of the time, but that usually consists of the three of us cuddling on the couch for a good hour and me napping right along with them like much kittens and their mama cat.  But, bedtime is different.  Since I don't make it a habit to go to sleep for the night at 8pm, they have to sleep independently of me and they are!  Hooray!

Why do I have my niece tonight, you ask?  Well, my sister and her husband, along with my husband, step-son and some friends of ours are out seeing The Avengers!  Now, why oh why wouldn't I want to go to that, you may ask.  Simply answer, "Meh." Yeah, I am so lukewarm on this movie it's not even funny.  I like comic book movies, I LOVE the new Batman movies (so much so I have read a Batman graphic novel or two in the last few years) and I did like the Iron Man movies, but beyond that I haven't seen any of the other movies that introduced the rest of the Avenger group, nor do I care to.  I am kinda over the whole Superhero genre at this point.  Of course, I will be the first one in line, like a day or two after it comes out.... for the new Batman movie later this summer and I have a vague interest in the the totally pointless Spider-man reboot with Andrew Garfield, mostly because I think he's kind of cute (even though I heard there was a huge press to have Donald Glover from Community play the new Peter Parker/Spider-man, and that would have been so awesome.  I think he is just about the cutest thing ever.)  So, here I sit, trying to be quiet, blogging, listening to Pandora radio with two sleeping toddlers and a zonked out dog who almost barked at the neighbors coming home, dear god, I would have killed him! (Not really.)

Now, I fully intend to bank in on my babysitting deeds with my sister in the next week when the new Dark Shadows movie comes out!  Woot!  Now, that, I am excited about.  Not because I am a Tim Burton die-hard or anything like that (my favorite movie of his is Corpse Bride, which deserves a blog post all on its own) and yes, like a lot of movie-goers I am too am growing wary of Johnny Depp wearing kooky costumes and chomping on scenery like he hasn't eaten in months in every movie he has been in lately.  I am excited for Dark Shadows because as a kid my mom used to make me and my sister watch that weird show with her in re-runs.  Not only do I remember the hazy-looking original from the 1960's, we also were avid watchers of the early '90's re-boot that only me and my sister seem to remember.  It must have existed though because it is on the imdb.  It aired in 1991 when I was eight, and Mom let me stay up to watch it (have I mentioned what a huge influence she has been on me and my interest in the paranormal? ) and all I really remember is the huge dresses the women wore and a wrought iron fence that surrounded Collinwood Manor.  I knew it was a show for grown-ups and I knew I probably shouldn't be watching it, which made me love it even more.  It was appointment viewing, but apparently we were the only ones watching it because it didn't live to see a second seasons.

A few years ago I bought Mom the original Dark Shadows series on DVD and I said I would watch them with her.  Like a good, dutiful daughter, I did.  That show was....not good.  So hazy!  And the camera work was beyond shoddy.  Sometimes they would totally miss actors completely or cut off half their faces.  Ah, the 1960's TV.  Sock it to me, amirite?!

However, the crappy TV show isn't the only reason I want to see the Dark Shadows movie, it also has a kick-ass supporting cast.  Michelle Pfieffer is so beautiful it should be illegal and I wanted to name my daughter after Helena Bonham Carter but was shut down a several levels, Johnny Lee Miller!  Who who knows who Johnny Lee Miller is doesn't love Johnny Lee Miller?  And someone made the mistake of once saying I kinda maybe looked like Eva Green.  World's  Biggest. And. Most. Inaccurate. Compliment.  But, hey, I'll take it.  I am pretty pumped.

Speaking of Johnny Depp movies, here is my two cents.  The best Johnny Depp movie is Blow.  Never have I seen a movie that actually made me want to do drugs.  So glamorous and fun!  Nice work, everyone.  It reminds me of when my daughter was a newborn and we would be up at 3am for a feeding and it was on TV and long after she fell asleep I would (like an idiot) stay up to just get to the montage of cocaine debauchery set to Lynyrd Skynrd's "That Smell."  Such a good soundtrack too!

Can you tell I really just wanted to blog because I'm so thrilled both the girls went to sleep for me?!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Fairy Love

From 2006 to about 2008,  I experienced a weird obsession with Fairies that came out of absolutely nowhere.  I think it may have stemmed from attending Renaissance Festival for the first time in 2006 and deciding to attend wearing a fairy costume (after I discovered that that was an option, any excuse to wear wings, amirite?)   I also happened to get married in 2007, right in the thick of my fairy fling.  Because of this, my wedding ended up having a definite fairy-vibe to it (technically, the theme was "Magic Garden Party", but whatever.)  At my wedding wore a necklace with two fairy charms on it (one I ordered off the internet, and one that had a lot more significance.  A charm from my soon-to-be mother-in-law who bought it for me on a cruise she was on right before our wedding.) And my flower girl even wore fairy wings! I wanted my whole wedding party to wear fairy wings, but my sister who was my maid of honor said, and I quote, "There is no way in hell I'm wearing wings." Okay, fine.

 I decorated the apartment my new husband and I shared with fairy statues from the greeting card shop at the local mall, mostly Amy Brown artwork converted into cheap porcelain ( I say cheap because most of my statues have broken by now) and I attempted to transform some fairy pictures I printed off the computer into artwork appropriate to hang on the walls to continue the fairy decor I decided our apartment should have.  It looked cheap and horrible, but I didn't even care.

In 2009,  my husband and I bought our first house, and suddenly I decided I didn't want all this fairy shit everywhere.  I had a house now I should probably decorate it like an adult (that has yet to happen, See: My Witch House)  Now my fairy statues are spread out between a shelf on the bookcase in the living room, a few reside on my dresser in my bedroom, and the rest live in the in the hutch in the loft upstairs, no longer the centerpiece of my home.  As for dressing as a fairy for Ren Fest, eh, I have some beautiful pairs of wings, but, since I make it a hobby of...partaking in adult beverages while I'm out at Fest usually, I feel as a public service to my fellow Fest goers I do not attempt to Wear Wings While Drinking for fear I may kill them or poke out several eyes.

Also, in 2006, I was introduced to one of the biggest celebrities among the Ren Faire Folk (which is quite possibly the dorkiest kind of celebrity you can be) Twig the Fairy:

 Derek, my sister's boyfriend (who is now my bro-in-law, they got hitched in '09) was madly in love with Twig for strictly perverted reasons.  He still is.  Every year we make a trip to Twig's booth and he makes googly eyes at her and gets something signed.  One year, he even brought his dog with to introduce her to Twig and get some little extra attention from her, which worked:

  And now that we all have kids, oh man, you better believe it that he is using his little daughter, and mine, as Twig bait, which also works.

I find the popularity of Twig interesting.  As someone who works with people who are very much in the Ren Fest lifestyle, they work at Fest, they own booths, they camp out there among the other performers and merchants, and I have heard many different stories about Twig and the woman who plays her.  I know she's from Minnesota, I have a co-worker who attended college with her and I've never heard anything negative about her.  But, what an odd way to make a living, playing a mute fairy.  If you are unfamiliar with Twig, she is a cute little woman who prances around Ren Faires playing a little tune on her flute and handing out small crystals to children and adults alike.  She doesn't talk.  At. All.  Obviously, the woman who plays her is an actress, and a dedicated one at that.  And she has a fanbase large enough to warrant a calendar, two books, and a website.  She has over nine thousand followers on Twitter (she doesn't talk, but she does Tweet) and even a Robin to her Batman, fairy sidekick named Zinnia.  Now this is a person who has really immersed herself in Fairy Culture, and even has a column in Fairy Magazine (again, she doesn't talk, but she does write.)

A few years ago I was so taken with the idea of Twig and how someone falls into that sort of niche career I even attempted to write a short story about a young woman who attends a Ren Faire, gets stinkin' drunk (I may have been projecting) acts like a fool, and somehow parlays that into a career as being a mute fairy at Ren Faires around the country.  That sounds about right, right?  I mean, how else did Twig become Twig?    Actually taking the time to create a character and teach oneself to play those double flute dealies?  Unlikely.

I am a Twig fan, and an admirer of her (in a non-perverted way) I admire her dedication and that she gives young people something to aspire to.  Example:

I was working at Party Papers a few years ago on a Saturday afternoon with the owner Mary.  A mother and her young daughter came in and the daughter was taken with all the fairy trinkets we sold.  The mom rolled her eyes at us and said, "She loves fairies.  In school they asked all the kids what they wanted to be when they grow up and she told her class she wanted to be a fairy."  To which Mary said, "Oh, you can be.  Have you ever seen Twig the Fairy out at the Renaissance Festival?"  The little girl shook her head, "Oh, you should see her.  She grew up to be a fairy."  The little girl was nothing short of inspired.  It was probably the first time an adult didn't laugh at her and call her silly.

Whenever spring rolls around my love of fairies re-sprouts, even though here in Minnesota were we skipped spring and went right to boiling lava hot and thunderstorm-y summer, but according to the calendar, it's spring, so I look at my pretty figurines and am glad that I have fairy wings hanging in my and my daughter's bedroom, I like the re-growth they represent, the mischievousness, the fantasy of a whole 'nother world.  Maybe I'll be a Fairy again for Ren Fest this year....smaller wings, less injuries to others.  Something to keep in mind.