Mirror, mirror, on the Wall… Robert Bloch’s “The Hungry House”

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Deal Me in 2014 Short Story Reading Challenge – week 8

This week, I drew the four of spades, which led me to a ghost story, Robert Bloch’s “The Hungry House,” published in 1951. (My complete roster of 2014 stories for this challenge may be viewed at https://bibliophilica.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/my-2014-short-story-reading-challenge/ ) I own this one as part of the anthology, “The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories.” Bloch is probably best known for writing the novel “Pyscho” in 1959. Maybe you’ve seen the movie.

(Below: Robert Bloch)

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Anyway, the luck of the draw this week led me to a story which turned out to eerily complement the first story I read of DMI2014, Steven Milhauser’s “Miracle Polish.” Both involve mirrors. While Milhauser’s story has a protagonist who becomes obsessed with mirrors and his reflection in them, Bloch’s story features a house once occupied by a woman, now long dead, who shared the same affliction. Mirrors are her pathway of choice to haunt the living and perhaps influence them to “do things.”

The young couple who moves into this house is unaware of its history, but both soon (individually) notice that they’re not alone. Both hesitate to tell the other anything for fear of seeming silly, but things begin to come to a boil when the husband finds an old, locked closet full of mirrors in the attic and later when they host a party for other couples in the neighborhood, which provides their spectral roommate more people to play with. I enjoyed the story, but it was far from being the best I’ve read in the genre. I wasn’t able to find the story available anywhere online, I’m afraid. If you’re interested in reading it, I’d recommend “The Weird” anthology mentioned above – well worth purchasing for all the other great stories it contains.

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Have you read any of Robert Bloch’s works? What are some of your favorite ghost stories?

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“Party Talk” – a ghost story by John Gaskin

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It’s October and time to read some ghost stories. I was quite fortunate in my first choice. I still had a handful of stories remaining unread in my collection, “Haunts: Reliquaries of the Dead,” which features many great, scary stories. Some of those I’ve posted about before are linked below (my favorites were “Is There Anybody There” and “City of Dreams”)

Grandfather’s Teeth and Grandmother’s Slippers

Is There Anybody In There?

City of Dreams

The Door

Our narrator in the story is a party guest and writer of ghost stories. He allows himself to be trapped into a conversation with an old lady at the party who, reclining on an old-style chaise longue tells him, “Sit down. I have a tale you must hear.”

She relates a story from her youth where she, after committing an indiscretion with a youthful gardener, is shuttled off to live with an aunt, out of the way and out of the view of public shame. She is kept busy with many tasks, one of which is planting some roses amongst some old graves near the transept of the local church. During her shallow excavations, she unhappily discovers she has uncovered several bone fragments. She stores them behind the old tombstone of one Elenor Ward. She learns from a young rector that Elenor was a victim of a local knave also known for getting other young girls “in trouble.” The young ward walks her partway home to her aunt’s residence (“Toburn Hall” – described by the author as being “large and untenanted by youth or laughter”). On the remainder of the walk, she notices a discomfort in her boot and when reaching home is shocked to find the suspected “pebble” to in reality be a tooth from among the bones she had unintentionally disturbed. She resolves to return it to rest with the others the next day and places it on a mantelpiece in her bedroom. This, predictably, sets up a night of terror that completes the story of the old party guest.

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(photo from http://julieannchristian.wordpress.com/)

Gaskin’s not done with us yet, though, as a further, added twist left me with not a few goosebumps on my arms this Friday morning…

I highly recommend this story and the book which includes it. It may be found for sale at amazon.com  or Barnes and Noble

Author Gaskin lives in Northumberland in the U.K. And is also the author of a story collection called The Long Retreating Day: Tales of Twilight and Borderlands, which I may want to check out now that I’ve read this story.

This post is also written in conjunction with the R.I.P. VIII Challenge.

Will YOU be reading any ghost stories this month? What are your plans?

(below: a “chaise longue” perfect seating for a ghost story, wouldn’t you say?)

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Steven Millhauser’s “Phantoms”

It’s been a couple months ago that I read this short story as part of my 2013 Short Story Reading Project. I acquired it, along with nineteen others, when I purchased “The Best American Short Stories 2011” anthology, edited by Geraldine Brooks.

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I selected several of the stories therein to include in my annual project in hopes of adding a more contemporary flavor to my roster (I tend to read or re-read a lot of classic stories and authors in these projects). Not all of the stories in the anthology are on my list for 2013, but the ones that are were chosen based upon the contributors’ notes in the back of the book. Millhauser (a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1997) says of this story: “For a long while I wanted to write a story about a phantom woman. It never came to fruition, for reasons I can only guess at. One day, unexpectedly, a different kind of phantom story appeared to me and dared me to write it. The story “Phantoms” is the result of that dare.” I liked that. Especially how a phantom story “appeared” to him – what else would a phantom story do? The story was originally published in issue 35 of McSweeney’s Magazine (cover pictured below).

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The narrator of this story (which should not to be confused with the Dean Koontz novel of the same name) is from an old town, founded in 1636, and surprisingly, matter-of-factly explains how these non-malevolent phantoms “plague” his town. So many of the people in the town have encountered phantoms that those who haven’t are actually a small minority.

What I Liked about this story was the unique way in which the supernatural was presented. Calmly, rationally, the author enumerates six separate proposed “explanations” for the phantoms. E.g., “the phantoms are the auras, or visible traces, of earlier inhabitants of our town,” or that “…the phantoms are not there, that those of us who see them are experiencing delusions or hallucinations brought about by beliefs instilled in us as young children,” and so on. Millhauser also includes numbered “case studies” and “histories” that sync-up with the different explanations.

The phantoms of this town always, upon discovery, disappear, but not after giving their spotter “The Look” described in this passage:

“Most of us are familiar with the look they cast in our direction before they withdraw. The look has been variously described as proud, hostile, suspicious, mocking, disdainful, uncertain; never is it seen as welcoming. Some witnesses say that the phantoms show slight movements in our direction, before the decisive turning away. Others, disputing such claims, argue that we cannot bear to imagine their rejection of us and misread their movements in a way flattering to our self-esteem.”

There is something about the rational and matter-of-fact way the town’s phantoms are presented that makes the story more chill-inducing than your standard issue “ghost story” too. In a section titled simply “You”, Millhauser challenges the reader:

“You who have no phantoms in your town, you who mock or scorn our reports: are you not deluding yourselves? For say you are driving out to the mall, some pleasant afternoon. All of a sudden – it’s always sudden – you remember your dead father, sitting in the living room in the house of your childhood. He’s reading a newspaper in the armchair next to the lamp table. You can see his frown of concentration, the fold of the paper, the moccasin slipper half hanging from his foot. The steering wheel is warm in the sun… the shadows of telephone wires line in curves upon the street… You pass through a world so thick with phantoms there is hardly room for anything else.”

Good stuff, huh?

In his final section, titled “How Things Are,” he finishes us off:

“For though we have phantoms, our town is like your town: sun shines on the house fronts, we wake in the night with troubled hearts, cars back out of driveways and turn up the street. It’s true that a question runs through our town, because of the phantoms, but we don’t believe we are the only ones who live with unanswered questions. Most of us would say we’re no different from anyone else. When you come to think about us, from time to time, you’ll see we really are just like you.”

I really enjoyed this story and its fresh approach. I’m sorry to say I had neither read nor even heard of Steven Millhauser before now, but I certainly plan to seek out other works of his. What about you? Does your town have phantoms or not? Have you seen any yourself? I have. (Well, kindasortamaybe.) Have you heard of, or read something by this author before?

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(above: author Steven Millhauser)

Deux par Guy de Maupassant

How profound that mystery of the Invisible is! We cannot fathom it with our miserable senses, with our eyes which are unable to perceive what is either too small or too great, too near to us, or too far from us – neither the inhabitants of a star nor of a drop of water.”

Over the last few days I’ve had the pleasure of reading a couple short stories by the french master, Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893). The first was in one of my “go to” anthologies – my 1941 edition of 1937’s “Great Ghost Stories of the World: The Haunted Omnibus” edited by Alexander Laing, with eerie yet beautiful illustrations by Lynd Ward. (title page pictured below)

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The first story, “The Horla,” was my favorite of the two. Having just been reminded of it from reading another blog (and I’ll be darned if I can remember which one now – if it was you, let me know so I can link and give you credit), I thought I would read it again as part of my seasonal reading for October.

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It is a story in the form of journal/diary entries of a man who is either losing his sanity, or being dogged by a supernatural entity (the titular “Horla”). At first, he is describing a “classic case” of the phenomenon known as “sleep paralysis” but over time it becomes more than that. Much more. The man’s struggles to free himself from, or even just understand the nature of, this entity lead him further down the path toward madness. The story can be read for free online here:

http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/Horl.shtml

The other story was more pedestrian. **Spoiler Alert** Promisingly titled “Ghosts,” it sounded perfect for another seasonal read. Despite its title, it turned out to NOT include supernatural elements at all, but instead a scheming clergyman, taking advantage of the superstitions of one of the locals. I found this story via my iPhone app “Short Stories.” It may turn out to be memorable to me just because I learned a new word from it: “Latitudinarian” – from my Merriam Webster app – “not insisting on strict conformity to a particular doctrine or standard: tolerant; specifically, tolerant of variations in religious opinions or doctrine.” Actually, I think I may have a bit of Latitudinarian in me…

What are your experiences with Guy de Maupassant? Favorites? Recommendations?

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(above: Guy de Maupassant)

“Grandfather’s Teeth and Grandmother’s Slippers”

You’d probably think “Grandfather’s Teeth and Grandmother’s Slippers” sounds like a strange title for a ghost story. You’d be right. It is actually two titles of ghost stories found in the same collection, “Haunts: Reliquaries of the Dead,” which I have been working my way through since last year (it’s taken me awhile because I usually only read “horror stories” in October when, after all, they are most appropriate…).

I’ve written often about how I enjoy coincidences and the little connections that seem (spontaneously) to form among the books and short stories that I read. So, naturally my radar “went off” when I got to the short story, “Grandfather’s Teeth” by Lisa Tuttle, in the collection mentioned above. “Haven’t I read another ’grandparent’ story lately?” I thought. Sure enough, last November I also read Sarah Pinborough’s “Grandmother’s Slippers,” and it was in the same collection. I thought the editor (Stephen Jones) of the anthology must’ve had a chuckle over that – two “grandparent stories” in one book!?

(Below: author Lisa Tuttle)

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(Below: author Sarah Pinborough)

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Each tale explores the premise that inanimate objects can be imbued with some remnant (revenant?) of one’s spirit after death. Though I enjoyed both stories, neither would make my favorites list for the year. “Grandfather’s Teeth” is the darker story of the two, but was, I thought, weakened by the lack of clarity regarding WHY the set of false teeth would be so malevolent. I even went back and re-read the early parts of the story, and there is only a vague reference that the grandfather was anything other than a victim of dementia.

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“Dougie could remember when his grandfather had been a kind, gentle man who seemed to know everything there was to know about birds and animals, and who had taught him how to make a kite, but that soft-spoken, intelligent man had gone, replaced by a big, bad-tempered baby who wouldn’t even put his teeth in at mealtimes…”

Maybe it was not the ghost of the grandfather that possessed the set of false teeth; maybe they were evil in themselves, and that’s why he sometimes refused to wear them. Hmmm… I like that. Yeah, I think I’m going to go with that interpretation. 🙂 Grandson Dougie certainly found out they were evil, though, whatever the cause.

The other story, Grandmother’s Slippers, started out scarier but ended up with a much less gruesome touch.

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Jason’s grandmother had been “dying for a long time” when she finally passed away. His mother is having more trouble accepting “Gran’s” passing, though. This is when Jason finds an old pair of Gran’s slippers in a downstairs cupboard. Not even her “latest” pair either, but one of thirty years ago. He takes them out and examines them, reminiscing. Later, he replaces the slippers and closes the cupboard door. Only to subsequently find it open and the position of the slippers changed. His efforts to dispose of them are unsuccessful, as they continually reappear. Jason realizes, or so he thinks, that they are somehow after his mother (for now, they are both staying in Gran’s house) and he senses there is some unknown, unfinished business between them that she is reticent to discuss. The climax occurs when he returns home one night to find muddy, “slipper”y (ha ha) footprints going up the stairs and leading into his mother’s room…

These stories are both worth a read, but not by themselves reason enough to buy this collection. There are however, other stronger stories that provide sufficient cause. Here is a link to where you may find it at Amazon if you enjoy a good ghost story. http://www.amazon.com/Haunts-Reliquaries-Dead-Stephen-Jones/dp/1569759847

What about you? How is your October reading going? What ghost stories have you read this month (or recently)?

A Ghost Story: “Is There Anybody There”

I’ve read, just this morning, a “ghost story” by an author I’d never heard of before, England’s Kim Newman (below).

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The story was part of a collection titled “Haunts: Reliquaries of the Dead.” It’s a book I started last October but have pretty much left alone since then, waiting patiently for another October to roll around.

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***Spoiler Alert***
If you’d like to read the story yourself, the book may be found on Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Haunts-Reliquaries-Dead-Stephen-Jones/dp/1569759847 (the kindle version is “only” $9.99)

The premise of the story “Is There Anybody There?” was unique to me and, I thought, brilliant. It is set in the early 1920s, where we meet “Madame Irena,” a spiritualist/medium who is involved in a Ouija board “session” with one of her sitters. One might think this story would be headed toward a “fraudulent medium getting her just rewards from beyond” theme, but that is not the case here for, you see, Madame Irena (aka Irene Dobson) does have the power to communicate with spirits and “presences.” As Newman explains:

“She was no fraud, relying on conjuring tricks, but her understanding of the world beyond the veil was very different from that which she wished her sitters to have. All spirits could be made to do what she wished them to do. If they thought themselves grown beyond hurt, they were sorely in error.”

Make no mistake about it, though, she is in this line of business for the money and for personal gain. The presence she encounters in this session, however, is somehow different from all those other spirits of the departed she has contacted. Identifying himself only as “MSTRMND,” he uses a slightly different method to spell out strange answers on the Ouija board, eschewing moving the pointer toward the “Yes” or “No” on the board, he instead compels them to move it to simply the letter “Y” or “N” as if he were using some abbreviated form of communication, YKWIM?? No, it’s not that he’s “texting” either, but he is clearly using some shorthand form of communication of a more modern time…

You can probably guess where this is leading. MSTRMND is really “Boyd,” a 21st-century internet hacker and predator (though the latter may be too strong of a word), trolling for “victims.” Somehow, his chat room messages are ending up being transmitted across time to the ouija board in Madame Irena’s parlor! Who will be “reeled in” by the other, though, and what methods will be used? The duel between these two animates the second half of this great story.

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(above: a Ouija Board complete with pointer. The pointer is called a “planchette.”)

What about you? Are you familiar with this author? Have you ever “played” with a Ouija board? You can tell me…

“City of Dreams” by Richard Christian Matheson

The fate of the cookies prayed on my mind for days.”

Isn’t it funny? In my last post, where I once again briefly described the mechanics of my annual short story reading project, I mentioned how letting fate decide the order of my reading often led to curious coincidences. Then, in the post before that, I related how a collection of an author’s short stories is something like a batch of cookies. Should I really be surprised, then, when just a few pages into my latest story, the protagonist decides “to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies?” Once again I feel like Haruki Murakami’s Chance Traveler

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The Ace of Spades which I drew this morning led me to Richard Christian Matheson (son of the great sci-fi author Richard Matheson, of “I Am Legend” and many Twilight Zone episode credits fame) and his story, “City of Dreams.” It has immediately become a candidate for my favorite short story of the year (and in the process perhaps proven that literary talent has a genetic component.) Those who’ve been paying attention already know that my stories in the Spades suit are “sci-fi/horror/ghost stories,” and this one was a home run. I acquired this story when I bought the anthology “Haunts: Reliquaries of the Dead” last October (I like to read scary stories around Halloween :-)) It has thus far proved a rich source of great stories. I’ve posted before about another story (“The Door” by England’s ‘Prince of Chill,’ R. Chetwynd Hayes) in this volume.

(below: Richard Christian Matheson)

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Today’s story:

The human brain has a tendency to “fill in the blanks” in the absence of sufficient data. This is the premise or observation around which this ghost story was built. The author relates in the introduction how, in real life, while sitting on his patio, he would occasionally overhear just tiny bits of conversation, etc. from his new neighbors, who he had yet to meet, which led to speculation – and wild imaginings – about who they were and what they might be up to. The protagonist of “City of Dreams” finds himself in a similar situation when a mysterious, obviously wealthy neighbor moves in next door, updating the property with security camera and landscaping (a “leafy moat”) additions, not to mention guard dogs, in the process. The clockwork comings and goings of a black limousine only add to the tantalizing “mystery” of his new neighbor, who he only thinks of as “the Royal.”

Eventually, he seeks to break the ice by making a gift of the aforementioned batch of cookies and leaves them gift wrapped in the mailbox with a kind of introductory note. It appears at first that he is doomed to be snubbed as there is no reaction or thank you forthcoming, and he is just about to give up the chase when he finds a handwritten note in his mailbox saying simply, “We must meet. How about drinks tonight over here. Around sunset?”

When he visits, he is greeted by an “exquisite” young woman, whose smile takes his heart “at gunpoint.” He talks with her at length “without finding out much about her.” Near the end of his visit he admits, “I thought I must be falling in love. I still think I was, despite everything soon to befall me.” (Everything soon to befall me!? How’s that for in-your-face foreshadowing?) Upon their parting, she presents him with a gift, but encourages him to open it “tomorrow, when you’re alone” so he takes it home with him.

Now begins my cliched struggling with how to end this post without giving everything in the story away… Does the woman really live there? No. Is the present given really hers to give away? No. Just who is this woman? This last is the real question, and it was answered to my satisfaction… If you’re looking for a good collection of “ghost” stories, you could do a lot worse than this one. You can find it for sale at: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/haunts-stephen-jones/1103855598m which is where I bought my copy. Happy reading!

Oh, I forgot. I’m supposed to end blog posts with a question. 🙂 Here’s one: What’s your favorite ghost story (and why, if you’ve got the time to share)?

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“Ladies and Gentlemen… The Doors!”

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No, no…. Not those guys….

Not long ago I wrote about a recent coincidental sequence of reading I’d done that all featured executions, of all things. The theme of recent weeks, apparently, is simply “doors.”

It all started over a month ago as I was listening to NPR, and they were interviewing author, Chris Bohjalian about his new book, The Night Strangers. Like many of us, I’m sure, I enjoy learning what the source idea of a story is. It turns out that in this case, the author and his family had not too long ago bought and moved into a large house in rural New Hampshire (or was it Vermont? I can never keep those two straight). One of the unique features of the house, we listeners learned, was that it featured a basement with a largely earthen floor (the one exception being where the laundry machines stood on a concrete slab). Not noticed initially by Bohjalian was a door in a remote corner that was nailed shut and apparently hadn’t been opened in many years. The curiosity such an object aroused in him was the kernel of the idea that grew into his novel, The Night Stangers. A story that I hoped would be perfect “Halloween Season” reading, but in the end was a bit of a disappointment.

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Later, I learned via another blog of the recently published horror story anthology, Haunts: Reliquaries of the Dead, edited by Stephen Jones. I purchased this one “immediately” and am about five or six stories in thus far. In short, it is everything that I had hoped another recent purchase (The Haunting of Twentieth Century America) would be, but wasn’t. (how’s that for an awkward sentence?). Great, genuinely scary “ghost” stories! The third of which was titled “The Door,” written by Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes, a.k.a. Britain’s “Prince of Chill”(!) love that nickname!

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In this great story, a writer has purchased a 300-year old door from a lately demolished 16th century manor house. His grand plans for it involve replacing a cupboard(!) door with it (after enlarging the aperture) so that it will be facing his work desk. “It will inspire me!” he proudly tells his dismayed wife. The door had an “intricate pattern that seemed to grow more complicated the longer it was examined.” The man begins to play with his imagination, speculating on what kind of room the door must have led to in its heyday. “There was a certain eerie satisfaction in creating an imaginary world for the door to guard.”

Via his imagination (or was it becoming more than that?) he even is able to transport himself to that room of long ago that the door once served. Of course, and we knew it was coming, the door turns out to be a two-way portal (as all doors are, aren’t they?)… A great, very creepy story, inducing chills in me that proved the validity of the author’s nickname. There are other great stories in this book and, even though I’m only part way through, I highly recommend it.

“Hey, wanna see something really scary?”

(Yep, there’s Dan Aykroyd again, this time from the intro to Twilight Zone: The Movie from back in 1983, before – AND AFTER – he asks the question of the driver of the vehicle…)

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It’s October, and Hey, I “want to READ something really scary” this month. MY book club is cooperating with its (sort of) annual Ghost Story Month, but I WANT MORE! Friday night, I read about a book titled, A Monster Calls, which sounded great so I downloaded immediately. It was short – only about 125 pages – and was a very good book, but it wasn’t scary enough. My own personal short story reading project for 2011 (Project “Deal Me In!”), which I’m woefully behind on has conspired a little to help me through October. Maybe. I’ve assigned my 52 stories (one per week) to the fifty-two cards in a standard deck (see the “Deal Me In selections” on the “pages” section on the left margin of this blog for the list), and the Spades suit represented largely ghost or horror stories. As luck would have it, I’ve only drawn a few of them so far this year, so there are lots remaining to be picked. Maybe a few will come up in October as I’m trying to catch up…

I’m asking for recommendations from my readers and fellow bloggers. What are some of your favorite scary stories or novels? I will put any suggestions on my TBR list…

M.R. James’s: “Mr. Humphreys and his Inheritance”

Okay, very little of this post is related to the story in the title, but I’m using it as an excuse to write about my day last Thursday…

Last Thursday, I got an opportunity to go on a day trip with the Indiana State Museum volunteers.  The trips are a semi-annual perk for the many volunteer workers that are part of the museum’s staff. My mom is one of them, and usually invites me to come along.  This time, we went to the town of Wabash, IN, known for being the first town in the world to be electrically lighted.

Our first stop was at the very recently renovated Charley Creek Inn.  Manager Kathryn MacMillan took us on a 45 minute tour of the building, which is in downtown Wabash and was originally opened in 1920.  I must say they have done a tremendous job in the restoration and the hotel is definitely someplace I would enjoy staying at overnight.

From a news video, see here:

For a video by the architects, see here:

Next, we went to see the Charley Creek Gardens

Their website is here:
It was the best time of year to visit as many of the flowers were in full bloom (azalea’s especially).  I also learned the ‘difference’ between the words “labyrinth” and “maze.”   There is a small hedge maze on the property.  I have been interested in hedge mazes ever since reading the M.R. James ‘ghost’ story, “Mr. Humphreys and His Inheritance,” which prominently features a hedge maze.  You may find this story to read at http://arthursclassicnovels.com/jamesmr/humphriesin10.html

The difference between the two words, which are used somewhat interchangeably by most (me included, but I’ll try to do better in the future), is given below (lifted from amazeingart.com)

What is the difference between a maze and a labyrinth today?
Today people think of mazes as tricky and confusing puzzles, with false passages and dead ends. Examples include the Dole Pineapple Plantation maze, cornfield mazes, or the art from the Amazeing Art book. Labyrinths, on the other hand, are thought to have a single path that winds into center, and are often (but not always) circular. The best-known labyrinths are Church labyrinths, such as at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco or Chartres Cathedral in France.

Our guide at the gardens also  pointed out that their labyrinth is used as a ‘healing,’ meditative type of practice for some people – apparently as you navigate toward the center of the labyrinth you visualize yourself shedding your worries or troubles, and by the time you are done, you have healed yourself somewhat.  I had never heard of this practice before.  Below is the Labyrinth at Charley Creek Gardens.

Dr. James Ford historic home.

After a quick lunch at the gardens, we made what was probably my favorite stop at the Dr. James Ford historic home.  Ford served as a doctor during the Civil War (fitting right in with my reading project for 2010), and lived to a ripe old age.  The website for the home maybe be found here.

http://www.jamesfordmuseum.org/

As is my habit, I asked one of the caretakers of the home if there were any associated ghost stories, but – alas – she said “no,” mentioning that she had spent a lot of time in the house alone and “never noticed anything.”

One other item related to my reading this year was that the chairs in the dining room of the Dr. James home were the same chairs used in the movie Gone With the Wind to furnish Aunt Pittypat’s parlor.  The caretaker said many people want to know “which one Clark Gable sat in”…

I took a picture of some of the books on display in the doctor’s ’operating room’ in the house (complete with life-size model patient) which I used as the first photograph in this post.

Our fourth stop was at the Wabash County Museum, which currently features an in-depth exhibit about Stephen Douglass (of the Lincoln-Douglass debates fame) – another appropriate tie-in for my 2010 Civil War reading project.  Most of us were also held spellbound by a rather large model train set-up in another part of the museum.

Our final stop was at The Honeywell House, one of the region’s more opulent homes and the former residence of Mrs. Mark C. Honeywell.  The house also serves as a bed & breakfast from time to time – but only to a limited clientele (I think you have to ’know somebody’ to book a night’s stay there).  A beautiful house, though, and we were served a delicious dinner there as well.

That was it, except for the 105-minute bus ride home.  (One would think I could’ve gotten some reading done during the travel time on this trip, but I must sadly report, that I only read a few pages… )