Sunday, February 26, 2023

Take a Stalk on the Wild Side

Today, I had the pleasure of running into more fellow geocachers out on the trail than I usually see at a geocaching event. My newest geocache, “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” — GCA551P (see “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” February 21, 2023), was published early this morning, and shortly thereafter, friend Old Rob posted a DNF (Did Not Find) log. Now, Old Rob is anything but an inexperienced geocacher; in fact, many of you already know that he is one of my regular caching partners (and anyone I allow to go geocaching with me must at least be able to find his way to his own front door; so far, Old Rob has not failed at this). I thought he might have spied the cache from the ground but opted not to climb after it, since reaching it does present a moderate terrain challenge.

No; he just never saw the thing.

So, to satisfy myself that the cache had not gone missing before anyone had even hunted it, I drove out to the Osprey Trail and hoofed it out to ground zero. Sure enough, all was well with the cache. (I may have to rethink Old Rob’s geocaching qualifications.) I verified the coordinates were okay and started to head back to the Rodan Mobile when I saw a familiar figure on the trail heading for GZ. It was friend Rhodorooter (a.k.a. Dave), en route for a possible first-to-find. He checked out GZ for a while, without success, so I finally guided him to a location where he could better get an eyeball on his quarry. Once he had the location locked down, he performed the minor acrobatics necessary to procure the cache, but he very sportingly decided that, since I’d been on site and given him a substantial nudge, he would decline the first-to-find honors. After that, we headed back to our respective vehicles and bid each other adieu.

Later this afternoon, I decided to go out on another maintenance run at one of my night caches (I’ve been on a vigorous cache maintenance jag for a few weeks now) on the Laurel Bluff Trail, not too far from the Osprey. As I passed the Osprey Trailhead, I saw about eight vehicles parked along the road, a few of which I recognized as belonging to geocachers of my acquaintance. So, I pulled over, parked the car, and trucked on down the trail to see if I might catch any of this crew in the act of finding my new cache. Indeed... not far from the cache site, I saw them in the distance. So, using a certain amount of stealth, I positioned myself on a hillside above the cache, snapped a few shots of the crew at work, and texted the photos to them. This, as I suspected it might, inspired a few exclamations of surprise.

In the photo above & left, you’ll see the caching crew going about their business, blithely unaware of the mad horror-writing-geocaching fiend photographing them from afar.

So, it was my pleasure to stalk friends Night-Hawk (a.k.a. Tom), Canter Girl (a.k.a. Jeannie), Skyhawk63 (a.k.a. Tom), Punkins19 (a.k.a. Linda), and — Ha! — Old Rob (a.k.a. Old Rob) as they made their successful FTF effort. From there, all but Rob were moving on to other caches, so he and I headed back to the trailhead, and from there, I headed on to the Laurel Bluff Trail to perform any required maintenance on my night cache, “Have You Seen the Yellow Sign?” (GC9KG68). None needed to speak of. Anyway, on my way back from there, I then ran into friends MWFerrell65 and dgnc, from the NC Triangle, along the trail. We yakked for a bit, and then I made my way back to the car and Casa di Rodan.

After a long weekend doing artsy-fartsy things in Hillsborough, Ms. B. returned home this afternoon, so now the household cats have their mom to bother, rather than just dad. What a time!
Panoramic view of the host for "Take a Walk on the Wild Side" (That's not the cache on the log;
that's my coffee mug.)

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Congrats to editor James Aquilone — and all the contributors (hey, one of them is me!) — for the Kolchak: The Night Stalker 50th Anniversary Graphic Novel making the HWA Bram Stoker Award final ballot. This is a dynamite book, and I am mighty proud to be a part of it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Another geocache maintenance outing today, again to the Osprey Trail up by Lake Townsend. I hiked out to work on a couple more of my supernatural/scary–themed caches — “The God of Moab” (GC690ZK, indeed named after my novella of the same name) and “Oren Grey” (GC705P2). While out there, I came upon a spot that appeared to be screaming for a new cache, one with at least a moderate terrain challenge. So I undertook the challenge (hence its title, “Take a Walk on the Wild Side”), hung a cache, and submitted it to I hope it will be approved and published in the next few days.

If you look carefully, you can actually see the container, dead center in the photograph above. Yeah, take that walk!

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Things You Find Along the Trail

I frequently find odd things when I’m out trail hiking, and some of them make one wonder “Why this?” Today, it was a plastic bag containing a couple of hard-boiled eggs, one of which was decorated for Easter. I’d gone out to do maintenance on a couple of my night caches along the Osprey Trail in north Greensboro, and on my return hike, I happened upon these items near the banks of Lake Townsend. I sort of wonder if they've been out in the lake since last year —or perhaps longer — since it’s still a few weeks until Easter. Since I wasn’t hungry, I didn't eat ’em.

Both night caches — “The Tripods” (GC690XE) and “The Witch’s Woods” (GC70RY0) — did need maintenance, more than I could perform with the supplies I had on hand, so I’ll be making another trip out there quite soon, preferably at night, which is the way to experience these caches anyway.

The Osprey Trail is one of my favorites in the area as it’s usually less crowded than most (I saw only one other human being out there on today’s venture), and it’s got some of the best views of the lake. Not far from the Church St. trailhead, there’s an old chimney standing next to the trail, all that’s left from some old homestead going back Yog knows how many years. Once upon a time, there was a cache at the top of the chimney, courtesy of friend Ranger Fox (a.k.a. Christopher), which required particular tools of the trade or a very dexterous climber (if I remember right, we fashioned a tool out of a long, forked tree branch). Sadly, that cache is long gone; it was something of a local classic.

It’s supposed to rain all day tomorrow, so it’s not likely I’ll be out there to finish up maintenance until probably next week. Bummer, sort of.

The Fugue Devil Goes to School, the Old West House, and Kau

Author, professor, and good friend, Dr. Leverett Butts
A full day, generally a good one, winding to an end. Up early this morning to give a Zoom presentation about horror, writing, and the Fugue Devil to friend Leverett Butts’s literature class at the University of North Georgia in Gainesville. I’d met Lev in person on my last trip to Georgia back in October (“Sabbatical 2: Return to Georgia”), and he’d invited me to speak to his class. We had it set up for today, and I was originally planning to head down there to make a personal appearance, but circumstances didn’t work out so well for the trip. Regardless, it was a fun hour, and I felt like the presentation went swimmingly.

Immediately afterward, I set out for the West House Trail over by Lake Brandt with Old Rob, who wanted to do maintenance on a few of his caches. I went along just for the walk, and it turned out to be exceedingly pleasant. A couple of miles of hiking in moderate terrain and perfect weather.

For the rest of the afternoon, I did freelance graphic work for The Mailbox, which is good for some bucks, although I didn't manage to fit in any writing. Tomorrow, I should finish up the graphic stuff, so I figure I’ll be able to either finish or come damn near with my latest work-in-progress.

Last night, for Valentine’s Day evening, friends Terry & Beth came around for dinner at our place, so tonight, Brugger and I went out to Kau at nearby Revolution Mill, a quite nice establishment with good drinks and decent food. Kim had a Funky Bleu Cheeseburger (excellent), while I had a Braised Brisket sandwich (fair; very tender and would have been tasty, I think, if it hadn't been overwhelmed by Dijon mustard). An enjoyable outing, though, and not so crowded on the evening following Valentine’s Day.

I sleep now.
Gray day in the forest
Old Rob in front of the old West House
I think the wonky weather has confused the flowers in the woods about the season
A nice post-Valentine’s Day celebration at Kau

Monday, February 13, 2023

The One-Man Chainsaw Brigade: Huzzah!

It took three weekends of chainsawing, hauling wood, stacking wood, and massaging sore muscles with various libations, but... at last!... I have conquered those big fallen trees in the yard at Pleasant Hill. Huzzah!
The BIG one was an ash tree, which has gotta be the hardest, heaviest wood I have ever laid hands on. Mother of Yog, a 3-foot log from this beast weighed 50 or more pounds, and when all was said and done, I calculate that tree weighed well over a ton. Which means the woodpile I made weighs that much and more, since the smaller tree that fell—a rotting poplar—is also part of the package. Now my arms are stretched out long like a gorilla's.
Kinda hoping no more trees fall here. Just last week, a little ways up the road, a big tree fell on a small house and totally destroyed it. Fortunately, no one was home, else they'd have been flattened.
Thus endeth the inaugural battle of the One-Man Chainsaw Brigade. (Part 1 may be found here; Part 2, here.)
Just starting out
A spot of progress
Last week's whittling away

L) How it began: fell over; R) How it ended: a wee bit of battle damage

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Really Gorgeous, Really Well-Done, Really Good Stuff...

Author/reviewer Christine Morgan’s review of Fugue Devil: Resurgence makes my day and re-ignites my creative energy. Thank you, Christine's Horror Fiction Reviews!

The review originally appears at Christine's Horror Fiction Reviews website (February 2023, scroll down to the review).

"Stephen Mark Rainey has a solid reputation in cosmic horror circles for very good reason, and this collection shows exactly why it’s so well-deserved. These stories, many of them interconnected in their own shared universe, hit just the right balance of melding our understandable everyday reality with the greater otherworldly eldritch, done with an approachable, readable style that brings them close to home..." Read more here: Christine’s Horror Fiction Reviews

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Return of the Living Dead Bedtime Story

It's one of those days when the compulsion to go hiking grabbed me before I even got out of bed. In the absence of any new nearby trail geocaches, there was nothing for it but to go maintain a cache or two of my own... and undertake some good, old-fashioned wandering about. I got going pretty early, my sights set on one of my oldest cache hides — "Threading the Needle" (GC1EQD2) — about 1.5 miles out on the Reedy Fork Trail along Lake Townsend. The cache itself, which I placed in July 2008, turned out to be in excellent condition, considering its age. I also decided to wander about the woods, thinking I might be able to rediscover the container from the very first night cache I ever hunted.

That cache was called "Bedtime Story" (GC112D8). A few friendly reprobates and I hunted it in April 2008, and what an entertaining experience that turned out to be! (If you're feeling masochistic, an account of this adventure may be found here.)

Nowadays, I keep detailed notes of all my cache finds, including the coordinates to the final stages of multi and puzzle caches, but in those early days of geocaching, such a helpful notion had not occurred to me, and it wasn't until 2012 that added the capability to store such information on the cache pages. So, I have only dim memory to draw on as far as the location of the final container, which was an ammo can hidden under a prodigious deadfall not far from the lake bank.

Today, since I was a long way out on the trail where "Bedtime Story" is hidden, I took it upon myself to go looking for it. Now, without having access to its coordinates, I knew it'd be something of a crapshoot. And I really don't even know if the cache is hidden where it used to be; the cache owner, Ranger Fox, has changed things up with it over the years. Still, I decided to follow a few hunches and see whether I might find myself somewhere that might look familiar enough to lead me to the hide.

The long and short of it is that I did not. However, I had a great time finding many of the old reflector tacks that led you to the different stages of the cache. Some of those are still usable for the cache's current incarnation, some are probably not. On one of my side trips off the trail, I happened upon a big-ass barrel near the lakefront, which aroused my curiosity, but I did not attempt to pry it open because you never know when a big-ass barrel in the woods might contain a flesh-eating zombie. I mean, it has happened. Remember Return of the Living Dead! Like hell I'm gonna go down that road!

Anyway, I fit in a good 3.5 miles of hiking, much of it in fairly rugged terrain. So now I has a tired. Got real writing to do, so off I go!
Tis mighty swampy out yonder
Odd little lean-to I happened upon; probably someone's makeshift duck blind

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Wicked Sick: Maladies to Anticipate

A while back, I wrote the introduction to a new anthology featuring work by members of the New England Horror Writers group, and it's now been officially announced. It's something to look forward to — and I'm especially honored to have written the intro since I'm a Southerner, and those other folks are not.

From Editor Kristi Petersen Schoonover:

"I'm over the moon to announce the cover and Table of Contents for the anthology I've been editing with Scott Goudsward, Wicked Sick! How awesome is this cover art by Mikio Murakami?

"If any of you is a fan, this collection will definitely be up your alley, but there's something for every taste — a little terrifying, a little noir, a little lit, a little poetry, a little Poe-esque, a little Lovecraftian... all dark and intense. And Stephen Mark Rainey, an amazing writer whose story "Night Crier" appeared in 34 Orchard's inaugural issue, wrote us a stunning foreword.

"You won't want to miss this. I'll keep you posted!"

  • "They Come at Night – Greg Bastianelli
  • "The Cancer Ward at Midnight" – L.L. Soares
  • "Will’s Theory of Free-Floating Fat" – Peter N. Dudar
  • "Worry Wart" – Kurt Newton
  • "Toad in the Hole" – Gevera Bert Piedmont
  • "Moonsickness" – Jenna Moquin
  • "Irish Wake" – Mike Deady
  • "Happy Valley" – Harold Odentz
  • "Exorcising Attention Deficit Hyperactive Demons Requires an Order of Operations" – Trisha J. Wooldridge
  • "Author’s Note" – Rob Smales
  • "Body Work" – Nancy Brewka-Clark
  • "House of Tupper" – Meg Smith
  • "Eternal Prison" – Timothy P. Flynn
  • "Ghost Trains" – Tom Deady
  • "The Tall People" – Catherine Grant
  • "The Cancer Eaters" – K.H. Vaughan

Friday, February 3, 2023

The One-Man Chainsaw Brigade, Part Deux

A couple of weeks back, on my regular Pleasant Hill visit ("The One-Man Chainsaw Brigade," 2023-01-27), the backyard was invaded by a couple of grande-size trees, which had the temerity to fall down and go boom (thank you, endless weeks of rain).

So, last weekend, I set to work with newly purchased chainsaw, hoping it would have the blade length and horsepower to show the interlopers who's boss. I cut a fair bit down to size, but for a lone old fart, it's been a pretty damned big job. Now, this morning, I excised another few dozen cylindrical feet of interloper, and for the most part, ye olde 18" Craftsman chainsaw performed well — although getting through the last dozen feet or so of the tree, where it's at its thickest, appears to be problematic, as the saw up and said "nope" once I got down there near the rootball.

The image below shows the latest, possibly final progress (the "before" image may be found at the previous blog entry, linked above). I didn't take a separate photo of the wood pile that left behind by the beast, although you can see a portion of it in the "after" image. That's far less than the whole picture, as there's a separate, smaller woodpile behind the visible one. Initially, I intended to lug the logs a bit farther back in the woods, but once I determined that their actual mass far exceeded their relatively innocuous appearance, I said fuck that noise and started piling them at the nearest possible coordinates beyond the Land Where the Grass Grows. (Yes, I know it's covered in leaves right now, but Summer Is Coming.)
Now, with all that stuff done — as much as will be done, anyway, at least for now — I must ask the rhetorical question: how can so much naughty fit into such a wee little package? (I'll mention that, prior to the snapping of the photos below, yon critter traipsed across the shelves to next to the bureau you see here, prompting every item on said shelves to vacate their traditional stomping grounds and fling themselves to the floor with devastating consequences). It's gotta be rough being a cat.

Thanks, Cannoli.