Exercise the Spirits of 2009

No, I”m not missing the “O”.  I mean exercise.  Time to get you and your extended family of ghosts off your backs and butts and let in some fresh air.

2009 is on the way out.  2010 — which all signs point to being radically better than it’s former incarnation — is on the way in.  Let’s oxygenate it.

How do you exercise your spirits?  Certainly, there are as many ways as there are opinions about the paranormal.  The infamous ‘brown lady’ in the picture obviously prefers stair work.   Here’s some other ideas…

Ghosts in the (Heavy Equipment) Machines…

There seems to be evidence that at least one ghost digs heavy equipment work-outs.  Take this story of one Missouri fitness-freak-phantom, preferring hefty gym equipment late at night.  Thanks to a motion censor in the gym and both CNN and CBS’s need for filler news, this muscle bound spectre may have been caught working out.  Click here for the link to the CNN news story — or here for the shorter CBS story.

The Haunted Backyard Gym…

Another man seems to be having the same problem with his home backyard gym and frankly, it’s left him baffled.  Seems pretty obvious to me.  There’s a ghost in residence who digs working out.  Of course, the spirit might be himself…. but you decide.  Here‘s a link to his video account.

And I Thought it Was the Cat Moving Around my Weights…

Last but not least, for definitive proof that ghosts are into pumping iron, we can thank YouTube for being the conduit of truth.  Click here for the expose.

Stairs, gym memberships, home weights — something for everyone.  Considering that some people don’t even let death stop them, I’m feeling a bit lazy in comparison.  Does poking around Haunt Spots count as exercise?  It can have a quite a cardio impact.

Here’s to a spirited 2010.

Happy Haunts,

Susan

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Thank You, Haunt Jaunts!!!

Thanks so much for naming me and the Haunts Blog “Best Guest Blogger of 2009”!

So veeeerrrrry cool!

Check out all the awards at HauntJaunts.

Susan

The Spirits of Christmas

I am privileged to hear wonderful and personal ghost stories, especially at this time of year.  They range far and wide in tone — from mild to bone-chilling.  Most often during the holidays, they are downright sentimental.

It seems that when our need for human contact and kindness is most keenly felt, our loved ones sometimes find a way through.  They may be just a breath to let you know that you are still loved and that there’s a connection that will never die.  Sometimes, there’s more — much more.

These stories delightfully cross all bounds of age and experience.  I have a sentimental love of nursing home stories where a long gone (from this realm, anyway) wife or husband will make a comforting nighttime visit.  Or where a person will swear that they felt the familiar fur of a loved and lost pet brushing against their leg just when they needed them most.

In some stories, it’s not always necessary to have known the person.  There are connections from ghosts who  find a corporeal being who has an attractive spiritual energy.  There may be unfinished business or a simply a desire to connect which finds you giving of yourself versus receiving.  In the stories I hear and my own personal experience, the best always seems to happen when you release fear and are open to this moment of peace.

Your connection may arrive gift-wrapped as a memory.  Try letting it linger.  It may transform into a connection that you both will cherish.  Once you’ve each offered your gifts of solace or love, you say goodbye.  Seems to be all the karma that’s required.

When a sparkle of otherworldly joy may be just the right gift this year, it could be  waiting for you.  Say hello to your Christmas spirits and share some quiet meaning.  And keep telling your stories.

Wishing you peace, love and happy haunts,

Susan Scot Fry

Krampus

KrampusI miss Krampus. Oh, and Sinterklaas.  But mostly Krampus.

December of 2008 was the inaugural Krampuslaufe for Fry and Co in Milwaukee, WI.  No-one knew quite what to expect, but man it turned out to be a wild and fantastic party.  Blahblahblah has conspired to keep us from expanding on that with a much anticipated 2009 version.  Sigh.  I’m wistfully missing getting bundled up and tromping the snowy and frigid blocks around our house dragging tin cans and threatening to beat naughty children and stuff them in a sack with about 70 of our closest friends.  Good times.

As Scarlet O’Hara is my witness, we will Krampus in 2010.

In the meantime my friends, enjoy this fun video of the Tiefrunnauer Krampusse.  My favorite incarnation is 2007.  We weren’t quite this far along in our costume designs in our Milwaukee Krampusse, but visions of horns and fur were dancing in my head.

Here’s to 2010.  Let’s pick a date now!

Happy Zwarte Piet,

Susan

Monmouthshire’s Ghosts – A Christmas Story…

A Caper Company Christmas and Holiday greeting to you.  I ran across this tale of a Christmas-time ghostly encounter and thought you might enjoy it too.  As the tale begins, “No Christmas is complete without its complement of ghost stories…”

Grab a cup of cheer, cuddle up on a frosty evening and enjoy.

Happy Haunted Holidays,

Susan

MONMOUTHSHIRE’S GHOSTS
The Nuns of Usk Priory

By Maria Hubert, Countess Von Staufer

Usk Priory

No Christmas is complete without its complement of ghost stories, and Monmouthshire has its fair share. Never one to take such stories too seriously, I still cannot quite believe what happened to me on my first visit to Monmouthshire in December 1970.

One bright Winter’s day, shortly before Christmas, I went to Usk Priory . The property, a twelfth-century foundation, had in Post-Reformation times become a gentleman’s residence. After a fire, it was put on the market and that is how I found it. Looking for something unusual to turn into a restaurant and hotel, here I had it all: even the adjoining churchyard was a place of pilgrimage – `Goody, pilgrimage teas,’ I thought.

I had decided that I would buy the place even before I looked around. There were some builders working on a large house nearby, and I stopped to ask them the way into the ground `You going in there alone?’ asked one. I thought he was afraid for my dainty ankle on the upper floors, damaged by the fire! `Of course,’ I answered. `I hope to buy it.’

`Needs a bit of doin’ to it,’ answered my companion doubtfully who had indeed become so, escorting me through the grounds and to the house door. `Are you sure you ought?’ He seemed anxious not to come into the house, but said that if I did not return in half an hour, he would come and check on me.

‘Leave it an hour, I want to get the feel of the place and take some measurements,’ I rejoined. `Don’t worry, I’ll scream if I fall through the floor.’ I grinned at him as I turned the huge iron key in the lock.

I could not decide whether he was after a building job or whether he had taken a shine to me in my Christmassy- red hooded top – and a nose to match, no doubt. Anyway, I began my tour of the house. Five enormous rooms downstairs, a kitchen with a door leading out to the court where I planned to have my pilgrimage teas. Along a corridor here which was obviously part of the old monastic cloister to a wonderful library, it turned the corner to a dead end, with signs of what was once an arched stone doorway, where the cloister would have carried on to meet the side door of the church, which still served as Usk parish church. I spent some time in the library, a big sunny room with huge Elizabethan windows. It was wonderfully welcoming, even in its poor state. After sandwiches and hot chocolate from a flask, I went upstairs.

The rooms here were just as impressive. The bathroom left a lot to be desired: just big enough for a bath and toilet, It was within the thickness of the wall over the cloister. There was also a narrow staircase leading up to the attics. Three times I started to climb that stairway, and yet could not continue. I was gripped with a fear which I could not explain. I am not a claustrophobic person – I hid in cupboards and holes as a child, and still like cosy poky corners. The room at the end of the house, over the library, was boarded off because this was where the fire had been. It had been the nuns’ private chapel in the original convent, but subsequently, I assume, just another bedroom. There were no details about it on the estate agent’s sheet.

I went back to the first room, and stood looking down on the courtyard, planning my restaurant, wondering if the church bells would edify or annoy hotel guests, and toying with the idea of asking my building acquaintance to come and give me an idea of costs to get things started. Then to my annoyance, in the dusk, I saw five nuns walking from the far end of the house, by the library, towards the church. `Blow it! I thought. `Obviously someone else is after the place too.’ The estate agent had said something about another interested party, but had I known nuns were after it, I would not have bothered getting all steamed up about the place. It was a perfect convent setting in the twelfth century, and still was in 1970, and I was not one to oust a convent of nuns just to have restaurant!

When I left, the nuns were not in sight – probably looking round the church, I thought. Going round by the builder, who was packing up as I passed, I called to him that I was OK, and took the key back to the agents. They had already closed, as it was just after 6 p.m. so I put the keys through the letterbox and went into the old pub on the square in front of the priory walls. Curiously the locals began asking questions, the whys, whos and wherefores of my visit somehow they already knew I had been up at the priory.

`You’ll get plenty of help locally,’ commented one. `We’re all keen to see the old place come to life agin’

I said that I was very keen but would not make a decision unless the nuns who were there did not buy. There was a strange silence and a few guarded glances. then one said in a quiet but confident, blustery way `Oh they old biddies won’t buy, they bin there long enough already!’

As it happened, dry rot, a shortage of cash for the basic repairs and a few rules about not being able to have paying guests without all sorts of health and safety certificates which Usk Priory would definitely not get, spoilt my plans.

In recent years, I have moved back into Monmouthshire, and began looking into local history and lore Apparently, the original convent at Usk was for five nuns of the Benedictine order. At the suppression of the monasteries the five nuns were pensioned off, having given their allegiance to the king thereby saving their lives and the probable destruction of the priory. The arched doorway I saw by the library was indeed part of the cloister, and the walkway where I saw the nuns was the way to the church. At 6 p.m. on a winter’s evening they could have walked along there to attend Vespers, Several people have written about the sightings of the nuns, always along that walkway, or on the upper landing going to the house chapel. But I swear that I knew nothing of the history of the priory, nor the stories of the ghostly nuns when I visited just before Christmas in 1970!

Spirit Animals

Bear Totem art by Linda IsraelHey Baby. What’s your totem?

For a number of my friends and acquaintances, that would be the perfect pick up line.  Being of Native American descent, I’ve already found my spirit animal.  Tooling around on the interwebs, I also found this fun on-line quiz.  I was a bit skeptical, but the quiz did come up with the correct spirit animal.  Oh me of little faith.  Jeri Smith-Ready posted the quiz on her blog to draw attention to her novels, but the quiz is cool too.  Her novels might be fab also — I confess, I haven’t read them.

Speaking of faith, a spirit animal can be a mighty fine companion — especially when times are tough.  It’s like having an imaginary friend regardless of your age.  I highly recommend it.

So, if you’re up for a wee, non-peyote induced spirit quest, try this — take the quiz and find your animal.  Then go to Linn’s Domain and page down to the bottom.  Scoot past where she’s selling tarot readings and the like — unless you’re interested, then knock yourself out.  Towards the bottom of the page are links to all kinds of spirit animals.  Find yourself and click.  I really like the way they’re presented here.  Who knows, you might find something to think about.  At the very least, it’s an enjoyable distraction.

By the way, the beautiful bear totem art is by Linda Israel.  There’s a link to her website under the image.

So baby, what’s your totem?

Rawr,

Susan

We Are Not Alone — Paranormal Trade Shows

J-Random Trade Show ZombiesTo me, the words ‘trade show’ conjure images of zombie-like packs of business people prowling around a convention center clutching one of those plastic vendors bags. They stop at every booth and grab all the swag they can, while assiduously avoiding eye contact. You know what I mean.  You’ve been there, too.  Later, after the fugue wears off and you sort your booty, reason returns and the questions begin.  What are you going to do with all this useless crap? Why do you have that brochure? You have no need to purchase vermiculite by the truck load or to get your gutters replaced by solar compost receptacles.  To whom can you give this pencil with the sparkle eraser?  Into the trash it all goes.

Trick or Treat!Now, imagine yourself at the newest trend in trade shows – the Paranormal Convention. What’s going to end up in your bag here?  It may feel a bit more like trick or treating than killing time away from the office.  Of course for those readers who are already afficianados of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and comic book cons — attending a paranormal convention may already be  de rigueur.

In structure, a paranormal themed convention is pretty similar to any other trade show.  There are workshops, guest speakers, a vendors room and a big party where people far from home hit on each other.  Of course, with this theme, the big party may also take the form of an actual ghost hunt — for a nominal fee.

For us in the Midwest, all roads currently point toward Ohio.  The next big paranormal convention coming up is Extreme Para-Con 2009 in Cincinnati on December 11, 12 and 13.  Info at http://www.extremeparacon.com/.  In between, there aren’t a lot of local-ish choices on the calendar yet.  After Cincinnati, the next one I’ve been able to suss out is in Dayton, Ohio in August of 2010. Check it out at http://www.ohioparacon.com/.  There’s a more comprehensive list of upcoming events and recent passings at http://www.allconferences.com/Society/Paranormal/

So, Hello Milwaukee and Wisconsin!  Is it time for our own paranormal convention?  I’ve got some goodie bags that need fillin and don’t want to drive all the way to Ohio to do it.

Happy Haunts,

Susan

New Paranormal Reality Show on… Animal Planet (?!)

Uh huh.  It’s official.  Everybody and his hairy cousin is jumping on the paranormal tv bandwagon.

The latest entry is “The Haunted” on Animal Planet.  Yes, Animal Planet.  It’s about spirit dogs, ghost cats and spectral lemurs (okay, I made that one up) and the places they haunt.  In the style vein of Discovery Channel’s “A Haunting”, this new show seems nicely done.  It’s about quality storytelling, and I hand it to Animal Planet here. The storytelling is good.

Live pets are also heavily featured as “The Haunted” explores the theory that animals are sensitive to paranormal activity. From their “About” page…

“Animals are commonly believed to be more sensitive than humans. According to psychics, they are capable of sensing spirits that cannot be seen or heard by even the sharpest minds. THE HAUNTED chronicles true, chilling and terrifying stories of animals and their owners who are experiencing the unexplainable.”

Check it out for yourself at http://animal.discovery.com/tv/the-haunted/ If you watch their video clips, you have to get past their sponsor ads. But if you’re used to hulu, it’s not so bad. They’re short.

Their next episode is on December 6th at 9pm CST. Add this to the line-up and I’m never going to get out of the house. Bliss.

Happy, Hissy, Haunts,

Susan

ps. All opinions here are mine. If I could get a sponsorship from Animal Planet to flog their show, you’d hear me shouting joy from the rooftops. 😉

But, hey – I will happily mention BlogSurfer.us in this post!

Is it Too Soon?

KnifeEd Gein?  Maybe yes, maybe no.

Jeffrey Dahmer?  Probably.

The 14-year old boy who was brutally killed in Whitnall Park?  Yes.

You won’t be surprised to discover that, in the course of researching Haunt Spots, I run across a lot of murders.  Sometimes, it’s a fit of passion that ended tragically.  Sometimes, it’s more extreme — as illustrated by these first two names.

If the crime occurred long ago, the energy of the area may have become tolerable and the crime has passed into folklore.  There’s no magic number of years, though.  The boy mentioned earlier was killed in 1974, but there will need to be many more years before his story could be considered for a Haunt Spot.  The energy is too painful.  His story is too heart-breaking.

There are still plenty of bullys to encounter.  On the “A No Safe Haven Caper” tour, Explorers go through a mini-cleansing before leaving one Haunt Spot.  It’s for their well-being and my conscience.  No-one wants that meanie to follow you home.

Conscience does make cowards of us all, Hamlet, Act III Sc. 1.   Hey!  I’m not a coward!  My conscience is a personal gauge of right and wrong.  Far be it from me to censor anyone, but I’m responsible for the quality of your experience.  It’s my job to help Explorers have a good time.  If I think a Haunt Spot is too dark or too fresh, I’ll ask other opinions.  Thus far, the opinions have all agreed.  There are a few locations that you may never see.

They aren’t my stories, but I get to tell them.  I do so with a sense of adventure but also a sense of care.  So, no you don’t get all the haunts.  Some should be left, if not in peace, in respectful solitude.

For now.

Happy Haunts,

Susan