Sunday, May 28, 2023

The Restoration/Updating Continues

View of the living room as Mom had it for many years
The restoration/updating of the old homestead hits another milestone — the removal of wallpaper, repainting of rooms, pulling of carpet, and refinishing of the original hardwood floors is finally complete. Not to mention all new plumbing (the old galvanized pipes were had reached the last of their death throes) and a new roof. We still have a ton of stuff to do before the final move, especially prepping the Greensboro house to go on the market, but from this end, there's something akin to light at the end of the tunnel.
I was all set to keep the work going at a strong pace, so I came up on Thursday to get a head start on the weekend. Then... boom... I get hit with a miserable stomach bug that is just now beginning to abate. No food other than a half bowl of soup and a piece of bread over the past three days. I'm feeling better, and I've been able to eat a little today, but I'm so weak, just going from one end of the house to the other about does me in. If I can keep getting a little nourishment into me, maybe tomorrow.

The walls painted (courtesy Standalone Kustoms), the carpet removed. The original hardwoods were deeply stained, but the refinishing (courtesy Macarena Hardwood Floors out of Madison, NC) worked wonders.

Before and after the floor refinishing, viewed from the opposite end of the living room.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

The Canterbury Nightmares

Now Available for Pre-Order from Crossroad Press:
The Canterbury Nightmares... a new anthology of terror tales, all of which combine the essence of Chaucer’s pilgrims on their journey to a shrine with the apparent climax of the recent global COVID-19 pandemic. These stories were born in a time when personal connections were few, breathing the air in a grocery store felt unsafe, and the country all but dissolved into divided and seemingly irreparable factions.

The Canterbury Nightmares: Eleven travelers head out to visit The Grand Canyon, all motivated by their own powerful, personal reasons. All have suffered profound losses; all harbor secret but consuming agony. An old man taking a long-promised journey with his wife. A congregation that has lost its way. Individuals of different backgrounds and cultures, all dealing with grief, loss, and isolation. In The Canterbury Nightmares, you will be led not only to the soaring precipices of the Grand Canyon but also into deep, dark, unimaginable recesses.

This one features my story, “The Secret Place: A Knight’s Tale,” as well as ten more chilling works by some of today’s most compelling—and perhaps prophetic—storytellers. The book is due for release in September 2023.

“The Old Man’s Tale” – Steve Rasnic Tem
“The Liberation of Brother Buffalo” – Michael Boatman
“Think of the Family” – Ai Jiang
“To See Her in Sepia” – Scott J. Moses
“The Preditor's Tale” – Terence Taylor
“The Wife of Wrath’s Tale” – John B. Rosenman
“The Secret Place: A Knight’s Tale” – Stephen Mark Rainey
“The Sacred Clarion” – S.A. Cosby
“The Tour Guide's Tale” – Anna Tambour
“Every Form of Person” – J.A.W. McCarthy
“Vending Machine Girl”– Eric LaRocca

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Conquered Hurdles and a Frenzy of Wild Beasties

The estate sale that Ms. B. and I held this weekend is now done, and though we still have a passel of leftover stuff, we moved a decent quantity and made a respectable few bucks in the process. For me, it’s been a full week of both DIY home restoration/upgrading and prepping for the sale — 12 to 15 hours a day—and in the words of our perpetually fatigued felines, I haz a tired.

My crowning achievement for all this, I believe, has been categorizing and organizing ALL my old books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, and LPs and putting them on reasonably respectable display. This little chore been on the docket for years upon years, but I had pretty much reconciled myself to not living long enough to complete it. The books, as you might expect for a writer/avid reader, proved the biggest challenge, simply because of their sheer number. A few years back, I had downsized the book department to a considerable degree, but that was kind of like emptying a few buckets of water from an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Yesterday, after the estate sale,  Ms. B. and I provided pizza as well as a variety of munchies and adult beverages for friends Terry, Beth, Bob, Yvonne, and Samaire, plus my daughter Allison. The weather was decent, so we made it an outdoor party, which may have prompted our neighbors to wonder whether a gaggle of wild beasties had somehow taken over the property.

Happily, the sale — and subsequent celebration — marked the successful conquering of several of our most daunting hurdles. There’s more to come, to be sure, but at this point, it feels like we’re getting closer and closer to seeing the downhill run to the finish line... whatever the hell the finish line ends up being.

A feeding frenzy of wild beasties! Allison, Old Dude, Samaire, Beth, Terry, Bob, Yvonne

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Back in the Shadows Again

I recently wrote on this blog that I’m getting too old for this shit, and I’m thinking I might swipe that line from Danny Glover on a more permanent basis. Whew! Brugger and I are well into getting the Martinsville house restored, although there are still weeks and weeks’ worth of (expensive) work left ahead of us. Today, it’s the new roof. Concurrently, we’re trying to whip the Greensboro house into saleable condition, which is also anything but a small (or inexpensive) job. Since all this restoration work began back in April, I’ve been going to bed each evening mostly satisfied with the progress we’re making, but so sore of muscle and bone that getting a solid night’s sleep is possible only occasionally.

Still, there’s so much cool stuff happening. It was nice to get some of my old books—all the James Bond novels (and certain associated titles), the Dark Shadows novels (and certain associated titles)—back into the old homestead where they and I grew up together. The Bond books, at least all the old Signet editions, are back on the same shelf in the den where I discovered them as a youngster, when they belonged to my dad. It was in that same den that I first started watching Dark Shadows on a regular basis (right at the start of the Leviathans storyline in 1969), so I’ve put all the Dark Shadows books together on the shelf below the Bond books. And, for shits & giggles, I’ve started rewatching the Dark Shadows Leviathans episodes on Freevee.

The other day, I dug up an envelope, which I feared had gone forever missing, of old love letters (as well as a few that expressed something distinctly other than love) from certain young ladies in my junior high and high school years. Marybeth, Gretchen, DeeDee, and Courtney... it’s so nice to read all those lovely sentiments again, haha.

We’re holding an estate sale this weekend, Saturday, 5/20 and Sunday, 5/21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Here’s the Facebook listing for it: Estate Sale, 5/20–5/21. If you’re in the vicinity, stop on by.
Some of the James Bond novels, the original Signet editions of which now re-reside on their original shelf
in my dad’s old den

Sunday, May 7, 2023

More Discoveries

I never thought I would grow weary of finding keepsakes from days of yore, but the sheer number of keepsakes that keep turning up at the old homestead has about done me in. Some of them, at least, are absolutely agreeable, especially the occasional old photo I didn't know (or had forgotten) existed, lots of half-forgotten toys, and scads of my artwork. I discovered a couple more pen & ink drawings from the late 80s/early 90s, which you see above. The critter is Gaira from War of the Gargantuas, my favorite of Toho's non-Godzilla daikaiju flicks. The haunted house is a place my brother and I happened upon while exploring the wilds of Henry County back around 1991. I took quite a few photos of the creepy old place and then made a drawing of it.

I'm reasonably fond of these, so I appreciated actually seeing them again. I remembered them, but I had no idea where they lurked or whether I'd ever see them again. So... yay!

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Yours Sincerely, Wasting Away

I guess you could call it a landmark birthday, basically by way of a Beatles song. That look of the dude in the photo is when your body turns 64 but the rest of you is something like half that. That's the lord's truth.

It was a pretty pleasant day, which helped blunt some of the stress I bitched, moaned, and whinged about about in my previous blog entry. Geocaching on my birthday is a longstanding tradition, so I headed solo over Burlington way to pick up an even ten that have been lurking over there for a little while now. Some of them were considerably more than a walk in the park, so I had a nice time of it. On a somewhat sad note, my old friend and longtime geocaching partner Old Rob is more than a little under the weather, and it has the potential to remain an issue for some time to come. I'm sending out every good wish for him, and I hope you will too, whether you know him or not. He's several years older than I, but I remember like it was yesterday when he turned 64 and placed a geocache titled after that same Beatles song. I believe it's still out there in the wild, so it's almost tempting — almost, I say — to revisit it for old times' sake. I've been revisiting quite a few older caches lately, some of my own to perform maintenance, and some others just for the sake of hiking.

After Brugger got off work the afternoon, we ventured over to State Street Wine Company for a few celebratory drinks. It's become one of our primary go-to establishments since it's so close to home and the folks there are very personable. Rather than go out to dinner (we have dining-out plans with friends Terry & Beth and Joe & Suzy on tomorrow night), Brugger and I made Thai spring rolls, which was my dinner request. They were awesome.

All in all, a mellow day, and under the circumstances, that was just what the doctor ordered. We'll see how it goes in the coming days and weeks. Peace out.

Monday, May 1, 2023

A Perfect Storm

A much-needed evening oasis at friend Samaire’s place

Sigh. I was going to sit here and elaborate on how stressful and even traumatic some of the snowballing issues that have beset Brugger and me over the past month or so have been (I did, in fact, compose a considerable number of words on the subject). I deleted the bulk of them because it all began to sound like a great big whine. Still, I can’t help it; here is a bit of that post, abridged.

For me, April has historically been the worst month in existence, since it’s in April that I lost my dad, more good friends than the law ought to allow, and the majority of my many beloved pets. Beyond that, it’s in April that the universe, with perverse glee, releases the storm of misfortune it has saved up for us over the course of the preceding year with a great big “BLAM!”

This year, the horrendous sewer line issues that hit us, beginning in March (of which some of you are at least aware, since I did whine a bit), seemed to set off a veritable freight train of new and damn near catastrophically expensive issues.

However, as I wrote this little treatise, it all began to sound like a big whine. Now, on occasion (sometimes on frequent occasions), I have been known to vent. Anyone who has heard me vent will almost certainly testify that, to the chronic pessimist, my vent is a thing of rare beauty. Conversely, to the blissful live-for-today-first-world-problems-mean-naught-zen-is-good kind of soul (or simply the uninitiated), more a display of explosive horror (or perhaps amusement, in the way that a spectacular self-inflicted injury can make one chuckle). All that said, there is little more I hate than coming across as a fucking crybaby. Life can be a goddamn bitch, and I know damn well that many, MANY folks would trade places with me in an instant. I’m not without some degree of self-awareness.

Still, in the spirit of my original post, suffice it to say that I’m gonna call this April a pilgrimage to the summit of Fuck-This-Goddamn-Motherfucking-Bullshit-Fucking-What-the-Fuckity-Fuck Mountain. To the more level-headed, even-tempered souls among you (however deluded you might be), this was a mere uptick in the severity of pretty-damned-severe first-world problems.

There were good things. In fact, many good things. Most recently, Scares That Care AuthorCon II was one of the best events ever, as far as affirming my life choices as a writer. Similarly, Shortwave Publishing announced what I feel is one of the most important creative projects I’ve overseen, the next chapter in the history of Deathrealm, a brainchild of mine from almost four decades ago. I sold a couple of short stories. And this April saw some lovely times with good, GOOD friends, which helped me realign my sights on what’s really important.

Well, okay, yeah, I’ve still whined (and I’ll do it again, maybe soon). But this one is fucking done. At least April is, until next year, history.