A year of not posting

I see I haven’t posted here in almost a year. Like a lot of people, I’ve been a tad distracted, and not busy enough writing. A quick list of what’s happened:

1. Post-election freakout and obsession over the direction my country is headed in. It’s been taking up a lot of headspace.

2. Participation in the Women’s March on January 21. I was awake for almost 24 hours straight. I’m still amazed at the experience.


3. A trip to a resort in the Caribbean that I would never have been able to afford on my own. 


4. Dealing with the aftermath of my significant other’s severe ski injury right after getting back from #3, plus the resulting money concerns that are ongoing.

5. The death of one of my beloved pets, which is still too painful to write about. 


6. The completion of a story on roller derby that is appearing in issue #49 of Weird NJ. This involved a lot of travel around the state, and I learned a lot about an amazing community of people. 


7. The completion of two online writing classes; one on weird fiction and another on writing into the body. I fear I’ve been too distracted by other things to have participated the way I should have. 

There’s more, too. I could have been blogging like mad about any of it, but I’m having a hard time getting enthusiastic about writing…and many other things. 

But for now, at least there’s this, right?

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An update on KD

About a year ago, I wrote about KD Cyr, a young woman and fellow lover of the weird who died in a car crash. I wanted to let you know that you can learn more about her through the website that her family created not only to mourn her loss but to also celebrate her many talents. Please take the time to check it out.

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Home State Hauntings now in print

Today I was surprised to find out that an eBook that features a lot of my writing and editing has become a printed “special issue” of Weird NJ. Home State Hauntings: True Stories of Ghostly Places in New Jersey is available through the magazine’s online store, as well as their Amazon store. As you can guess, it’s about ghosts in New Jersey.

I believe it has the same content as the eBook: Just a different format for you luddites out there. With illustrations by the always amazing Ryan Doan.

Trees have died so that you may have this.

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Sunflower


I planted a few sunflowers from seed in my veggie garden this year and this is one of only two that managed to fight through the weeds into flower status.  I already see little birds eyeing this one up, so I took a photo for posterity. Next year I’ll try to plant more. 

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Being quiet near a little stream

One of my favorite websites is Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings. And an image that frequently pops up on the site is this:

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The artist is Maurice Sendak and it appears in the book “Open House for Butterflies,” one of many he collaborated on with author Ruth Krauss. Every time I see it, my heart is glad because it’s dead solid good advice.

I’m lucky to have a little stream to be quiet near and listen. Though the stream is technically a creek: Wawayanda Creek, to be exact. And this is what it looks like:

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The Wawayanda going past Pacem’s mill-turned-concert-hall. Photo by me.

It meanders through an outdoor sculpture park called Pacem In Terris in Warwick, NY. It features the work of Frederick Franck, who along with his wife, Claske, opened it up as a park/museum in 1965. He lived there until his death in 2006.

I’ve been volunteering at Pacem for about 12 years, spending about one Saturday a month during the spring/summer/fall doing what we call “watch,” though that makes it sound a lot more serious than it actually is. I open the place up, stay there all day to make sure that visitors behave themselves, and then close it down at the end of the day. Sometimes I sell books, prints, or postcards that are available for purchase. Sometimes I recommend nearby restaurants.

It’s not all about that, though. In the course of an average day there, I have time to meander, to write in my journal, and to take photos (not of the artwork so much as everyday things that are also there). And I have time to sit by the Wawayanda and listen.

It’s a distinct white noise, made more deliberate than a stream thanks to the small waterfall that intersects the creek about halfway along the property. The air around it is tinged with a metallic smell that I love to inhale. Sometimes, after a rough week, it’s like breathing after being under water a tad too long.

It’s very easy to take Ruth’s and Maurice’s advice seriously there.

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Rabbit Tree Redux

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It’s been 18 years since some photos I took of the Rabbit Tree in Vernon Township were published in the May 1998 issue of Weird N.J. These photos taken last weekend show that it hasn’t changed that much, except that somebody unhelpfully decided to spray paint over the “eyes” and “nose” of the rabbit, in case you couldn’t figure that out from just standing there looking at it. *Sigh.* Anyway, it looks pretty surrounded by the phlox.

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Katie in Death’s Garden

My story, Katie Likes Flowers, was recently published on the Cemetery Travel: Adventures in Graveyards Around the World website, as part of the Death’s Garden project by Loren Rhoads. Check out the story and take the time to read the other posts on the website, which features stories about cemeteries, graveyards, and how death impacts life. It’s all really amazing.

And thank you, Loren!

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Katie Likes Flowers

This short piece about an experience I had in a nearby abandoned cemetery was originally published in Weird Hauntings (Sterling, 2006).

Many abandoned bits of civilization are found in the woods in the part of New Jersey where I live: Towns that simply disappeared off the map for one reason or another. Their remnants include foundations of buildings, mineshafts and cemeteries—and the closest I’ve ever come to a haunting was in one of these forgotten cemeteries. Continue reading

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Leo the MGM Lion

The Asbury Park Press recently published another story I wrote for the “Last Exit” special issue of Weird NJ: This one is about the original Leo the Lion, one of a number of roaring lions that MGM featured at the start of its films. This Leo in particular lived on a farm/animal sanctuary in Gillette, NJ, and is rumored to be buried at the foot of this pine tree.

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Kinda looks like a roaring lion, right? Photo by me, 2009.

Here’s a closer view of the alleged burial site.

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Leo the MGM Lion: Buried here? Photo by me, 2009.

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When a celebrity jumps your ride claim

It was January 2008 and we’d just arrived in Salt Lake City. Jim and Ted were there to ski in Utah. I was there because I was going to see a bunch of films at Sundance while they skied.

We’d had an uneventful flight out from Newark to Salt Lake City. Except there were lots of famous people on board our plane.

One of them was Paul Giamatti, who was sitting in the row in front of us in coach. Any time I felt like it, I could look at the bald spot on the back of his head. And I felt bad about this, but there it was. But I along with everyone else in coach kept their cool about him being there, even after the plane landed and the people in the rows behind him waited for him to grab his bag and leave. We KNEW it was him, as much as I think he’d hoped we’d think he was a just guy who looked like him.

I don’t think Paul Giamatti would have stolen my ride, though.

Up in first class were Maria Bello…and Sarah Jessica Parker (hereafter referred to as “SJP”).

I had no issues with SJP. I remembered her in “Square Pegs.” I liked her take as an insipid TV show host in “Mars Attacks.” I never really watched “Sex in the City,” but I got the premise. She was going to Sundance in 2008, I’d later learn, to promote her movie, “Smart People.”

I never thought I would have to compete with her for a ride. Continue reading

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