Tag Archives: skulls

Keeper of the keys: day 6

Last morning shift checking out keys to the gates. It’s slow business in the office so I can pack and clean and photograph skulls or their attachments. I didn’t get all the skulls like the beaver on the window sill or the mountain goat on a corner shelf. Staff bring them in when they find them. They fit in with a place that’s all about wildlife. If you like to write or draw monsters, these aught to suggest some creatures to design.

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Wolf next to the front door. It changes directions occasionally. Sometimes I move it, sometimes it’s just different.

 

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Coyote in the background. 

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I cleaned this California Big Horn Sheep skull with a soft paint brush. The pile of tiny sawdust on the dresser told me it had insects gnawing within. It was covered with a dusty towel that I put in the laundry and covered it again with a clean sheet. A cotton ball with a dab of cedar oil set nearby will protect it from bugs. I can imagine this form as the foundation for “the monster behind the closed door upstairs”. Don’t open the door. I know it’s a trope, but still . . .

 

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It’s really heavy! The last 3 Big Horn Sheep in the Andrus Wildlife Management Area died of pneumonia. This one was found in the fence above Brownlee Dam with it’s neck broken. The biologist thinks it might have been fleeing for its life from something and ran off the cliff above the rock fence. Running from a predator might be a rather common cause of death in nature. Remember those 2 suicidal quails yesterday?

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This small horn was on a side table next to several deformed antlers in the living room. It’s not very big, maybe as long as a new pencil.

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What a perfectly shaped pair of antlers on the dining room wall.

Goodbyes with staff and I’m headed up the highway to visit my 94 year old aunt in Cambridge. Whoa! I left my coffee press in the dish rack! Back at the ranch the staff were talking about me and thrilled to see me in the drive way. They wanted to learn how to make the sourdough rye bread I baked for them. I showed them where to find it on my blog and offered to give them the starter I had with me (more at home) but they want to do it all from scratch including creating their own starters. One of them had hollowed out the end of the loaf I gave him and stuffed it with baked quail, cheese, and vegetables. The other had sliced his and stacked slices with mozzarella bites and vegetables open faced like tapas. He ate his slices with baked quail and wine. We talked about writing and art and ghost stories, lots of ghost stories from Hells Canyon. They urged me to use suicidal birds in a story and to create a character based on the technician. He would carry a hatchet everywhere he goes and we could call him the Kindler (he chops kindling and other things). The biologist told us about his epic character. He has written more than 25 adventures for it. He also used to create radio shows with a friend. It was an enthusiastic conversation and I’ve no doubt I’ll be back to visit these new friends.

keeper of the keys: day 4

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Coffee brews in the press and I have a little time before I open the office at 7. Let’s check the sourdough sponge set up last night. Look at the mark where it raised when the yeast were in their feeding frenzy and reproducing like crazy before death, like any organism. And then the sponge fell as it should after the protein in the flour was devoured. Oh! those bubbles! Looks just right and smells like beer. The surface is moving with gasses. I’m hoping bread at nearly sea level, where I am now, will turn out as well as that at 350 feet when I’m home. Natural yeast can be fussy. This should turn into rye bread like the piece in the bag. Tomorrow. I add more bread flour and water, cover the bowl with a small plate again, and walk away to open the office.

A few hunters stop in for a key or to exchange one for a different location. I take a reservation by phone. The Andrus Wildlife Management Area has gates to 6 different drainages or roads. Sunday morning is not very busy but in the evening I recorded surveys with 9 keys that were dropped off. It’s been a 3 day weekend for those who didn’t work Veterans Day holiday.

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Today I take the chairs off the table and make room for water color painting. Seating for 12, this could be the mead hall or else it serves a whole lot of castle servants. What a great place to spread out projects. It’s overcast, might rain, so I go for a walk to collect leaves from different types of trees.

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The idea is to trace a leaf and paint a landscape inside the shape. Water color takes patience, just like sourdough baking. While paint dries between layers I make a vegetable and rice curry soup with fresh tomatoes I brought from my garden.

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Sometime in the afternoon I add more flour and water to the sourdough and by bedtime it has bubbled up to the top of the bowl. In a larger bowl I mix the dry ingredients with my fingers and then stir in the fermented sponge. For this rye bread I substitute rye flour for the whole wheat amount and add 3 tablespoons of dark baking chocolate to give it stronger flavor and a rich color. Rosemary, yes, chopped up and added for interest instead of caraway seeds. I hold back on the olive oil, using less than a full table spoon. I hope it will rise well. I stir it and then knead it a little in the bowl but the flour mixture doesn’t integrate well with the wet. It looks mottled. Hoping for the best I cover the bowl with a big loose fitting plate and a light dish cloth and leave it on the counter over night.

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A friend called just when I needed to walk away from a painting and we talked for a long long time. All the while I studied skulls and antlers and horns that have been gathered from the wildlife area. They are on the walls and coffee tables and window sills. Everything needs dusting. If this were not home to a wildlife management area anyone could wonder about someone who would put bones around their living room. As a naturalist they interest me. As a writer they inspire me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s so late when I get off the phone I don’t have energy to write today’s post. I turn the wolf skull to face the door when I turn off the light. Up stairs in  bed I read some twisted stories in  The New Black, A Neo-Noir Anthology edited by Richard Thomas. 

Previous posts of my stay as keeper of the keys are here and here.

transmogrified

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Definition of transmogrify

transmogrified

transmogrifying

  1. transitive verb

  2. :  to change or alter greatly and often with grotesque or humorous effect

  3. intransitive verb

  4. :  to become transmogrified

I’ve been enchanted with the grotesque since I learned about gargoyles in my 7th grade French class. And I’ve always liked the humorous. Walking in Madrid in September I paused and clicked a few shots of this window decor while my friends advanced ahead of me, not noticing the window or that I was no longer keeping up. The skulls and rocks have been transformed to serve practical functions; they are no longer in their original forms. Go back and look closely and you will see what’s going on inside the room as well as reflections of street action. Let your mind feel the shifts in perception captured by the lens.

And if you like to feel the mysterious and horrifying I think you will like Transmogrify (Starring into the Abyss), the collection of dark and disturbing stories by Richard Thomas. He writes unique blends of horror and noir that dig into your psyche and leave  you cringing for more. The Kindle collection sells for only $0.99 on Amazon.

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I met Richard Thomas when he was instructor at the Horror Writers Workshop Transylvania, Edition 2015, in Bran. One day on our way to write in a haunted castle we had lunch in an ancient cemetery. Richard made the original photo of this group of grave markers and I messed with it a bit to create this transmogrified image.

This post is for the Weekly Photo Challenge:  Transmogrify.

You might like these related photos and posts:

haunted castles and morbid stories

piles of bones, transmogrified, in Washtucna

skull on a blood colored wall

Now, please excuse me. I have crates of bones to transmogrify, and a pair of pumpkins, too, before we ignite the Samhain bonfire this stormy evening.

 

Ghosty horned skull thingy

ghost skull in flashlight

And this wraps up my creepy posts for this week’s photo challenge CREEPY. Not everything about Bran Castle was eerie, but some of it definitely was. To see more scary images from my visit to Transylvania in July look at my recent posts below or in the left sidebar. To participate in the weekly photo challenge or see what other bloggers have posted for the creepy photo challenge click here. Not all my posts are about horror so please come back and see more gentle posts, soon.

by window light in a castle

Here’s another response to this week’s photo challenge, CREEPY. Today I look into windows and out of windows at fortresses in Transylvania, high up into the Carpatian Mountains. I consider sitting or standing in nothing but window light in Bran Castle. Would I be content? Would I be a prisoner or hostage in olden times? Would I be a ghost of someone who knew intimately the light inside the torture chamber? What secrets are hidden in dim  light of a castle window? What shall I compemplate at my own window today in the Rocky Mountains?fortress window skulls

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Favourite Place

by Terry Collett

For the umpteen time in as many days
You were caught sitting in the window
Of your uncle’s room, and he in as many
Times scolded you for disturbing his
Papers and books and cluttering up
The place, as he put it in his bass
Voice, which vibrated the timbers.Go elsewhere and sit and stare
And clutter up another room, and
Don’t look at me like that girl,
He moaned at you, jabbing his
Stubby finger into your bony chest,
Giving you the I’m-the-adult-around-here
Stare, and so you moved off and out
And pulled the door closed on his musty
Room with his dusty books and papers
And that smell of tobacco and old
Men and never went back again.

At least that’s what you told him
Thereafter, although you often crept
Back in and sat in the window looking
Out at the orchard, where, on certain
Times of night or day, you could see
Your now dead auntie, wave as she
Went on by the trees and on her way.

Poem from http://allpoetry.com/poem/5640287-Favourite-Place.-by-Terry-Collett
See more of my photos for the photo challenge CREEPY when you click here and here. 

Wall

Deer skull on red wall

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wall. See more photos by other bloggers or learn how to participate here https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/wall/.

To see more photos of bones on my blog look at https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/solitude-together-hike/ and https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/2014/10/17/washtucna/.