29 July 2007


(If you haven't read HP and the Deathly Hallows yet and plan to, don't read this post.)

One week and several hours after purchasing it, I have finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

What a satisfying end to a tremendously entertaining series. Snape is good - mostly. Voldemort dies. Harry lives, though almost until the very end, J.K. Rowling wants you to think he's going to die, and she does a pretty good job of making you feel like it may happen. Dumbledore's actions, as they are revealed, were questionable, though I believe done for the right reasons. It just goes to show that even the most wise wizards are still human.

Those people we wanted to end up together, did. And in the epilogue, we get a glimpse of their lives after Hogwarts and youth. (If you are left wanting more, you can read an interview with Rowling here to find out more details about some of the characters' adult lives.) My one beef is that none of Harry's and Ginny's children are named after poor Fred Weasley.

Some of it was perhaps predictable, but had the book ended any other way, I would have been extrodinarily disappointed. Now that the story is complete, I look forward to starting over from book 1.

24 July 2007

I'm just wild about Harry

(Professor Trelawney reads the fortune of a Muggle present at a Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows release party Friday night.)

No. I am not done with the book. It's 759 pages and I have a toddler!

But I did purchase Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows shortly after midnight on Friday. And yes. I attended a book release party. But it was under the guise of reporting on it for my local paper. No. I didn't dress up. But yes. I thought it would be funny to go as Rita Skeeter, horribly annoying reporter for the Daily Prophet, a wizard paper.

It was incredible to see how much excitement a BOOK caused amongst readers both young and old. Nearly 1000 people showed to the party held at my local, independent bookstore, which featured games, crafts, fortune telling, animal demonstrations. treats and a costume contest. The only thing missing was a full-on Quidditch match.

I am about 400 pages into the book, and, well...it's incredible, and dark. As the owner of the bookstore told me, Deathly Hallows is "not something you would normally give your 7- or 8-year-old."

But I, for one, am enjoying it.

My biggest hope? That Draco Malfoy finally gets his.

19 July 2007


(Medium Maureen Wood, in the basement of The Windham restaurant in Windham, NH, channels the ghost of Jacob, an angry and violent man who haunts the place. Please note that the EMF meter in the bottom right hand corner is bright red, a sign a spirit is near. )

It's been 6 days, and still I am running on little sleep. Nights just haven't been the same since I went on the ghosthunting expedition with the New England Ghost Project. I am more scared now than I was in the deserted restaurant with no one but DG to protect me. I am afriad that every time I peek out from under the blankets I will see an orb, or, the holy grail of ghosthunting, a full body apparition, hovering above me. (Now I know why my mother BEGGED me not to go. You were right, mom.)

Besides the fact that my dashboard lights blew out on the way there, the night started out easy enough. The restaurant was full of people. Lights were blazing. And DG and I were putting Ray Parker, Jr. to shame with our rendition of the theme song to the movie Ghostbusters. (Rich, by the way, has been referring to me as Dr. Venkman since Friday.)

We hung around for a couple of hours, listened to the group's live radio show, talked to the techies who were busy setting up base camp with cameras and EMF readers and infrared video. At midnight, though, the real fun started. Contractual obligations prohibit me from telling you exactly what happened. (The full story will appear in Merrimack Valley Magazine in September.) But we were visited by Jacob and watched him attack the Project's lead investigator Ron Kolek when he didn't want to answer any more of his questions.

I suppose my continued fright could mean I believe in this stuff, but I was also scared after I watched the Blair Witch Project, a movie in the theater I thought was completely ridiculous. It's funny how the mind will grow an idea that is planted in it.

11 July 2007

I hope I don't see dead people

This Friday, I am going to be doing something that I know is going to scare the shit out of me.

For a magazine piece I am writing, I am going on a ghost hunt.

My guides will be the people at the New England Ghost Project , an outfit out of Dracut that investigates paranormal activity in peoples' homes and businesses.

My journey will take me to the Windham Restaurant long reported to be haunted. Windows open, chairs move, the ghost of Jacob roams the basement. Awesome.

The folks at the NEGP have been there before, and if you click on the pic on their home page, you can hear all about it. I listened, for about a minute, but Maureen Wood, a medium, channeling the ghost of Jacob, completely freaked me out. Heavy breathing. Gravelly voice. Eyes closed. I do not want to talk to dead people.

So why am I doing it?

Because as someone that loves to write, I think it will be fun to WRITE about this. I only wish I could do it without actually having to go in a dark basement with all sorts of sophisticated equipment, and potentially rub elbows with old dead eyes. Because I AM SCARED. Which is why I have enlisted the help of best pal D.G., who thinks the ghost stuff is just a bunch of bullshit. She will act as bodyguard against evil spirits.

What's worse, in case you haven't already checked the date, Friday is the 13th. Again. Awesome. To make it worse, we will be starting at 10 p.m. Double awesome. And if you are interested, the show will be broadcast live. Find the link on NEGP's Web site. And if you hear someone screaming like they've seen a ghost - it's me.

08 July 2007

There's no sorry in tennis

Despite the ominous clouds that hung in the sky much of the morning, when D.G. - up for a weekend visit - suggested we play a bit o' tennis this morning, I felt up to the challenge.

Having not played, for oh about 4 years, Rich and I dusted off our rackets, packed up the little man in the car, and, with D.G. talking a lot of smack about how she was going to open up a can of whoop-ass on us, we headed to Cashman Park, a perfect spot, complete with tennis court AND playground. Rich and I thought we could tag-team it, one getting his "ass whipped" while the other climbed the faux boat with the little man. But much to all our dismay, the court was taken by a mom and son duo who mostly seemed to be stopping for snacks at the net.

So, it was off to Atkinson Common.

Yes, two courts free! But as we approached the courts and I saw two women dressed in serious tennis gear, playing hard (complete with grunts), I panicked. I am not much of a tennis player, and often spent much of my playing time running over to the next court to retrieve ill-hit balls. But, we were here, and I was jazzed to play. So I let it slide.

I took first shift while Rich and the little man, dragging around his little red wagon, walked around the Common. I waited for my ass-whooping, but it never came. Me and D.G. are actually pretty on par when it comes to tennis. So the first few minutes were less like a tennis match and more like a warmup to an Abbott and Costello routine. But then we got our groove on and managed a few good volleys. I love the "thwack" of a well-hit ball.

Rich was up. I'm not exactly sure how it went because the little man was obsessed with the tiny bridge that spans the tiny manmade pond on the other side of the park. But when we returned for snack, there was a couple of good rallies, but again, no ass-whooping, as promised. My turn, again. It went something like this.

"Thwack." Sorry. "Thwack." Sorry. "Thwack." Sorry. And D.G. reminding herself and me, "There's no sorry in tennis."

That's my tough warrior princess.

All totaled, we played for about an hour and a half. We were tired, dripping with sweat and sore. But damn it felt good. Thanks D.G.

Next time, there will be an ass-whooping. Only, it will be all yours.

Traveling the marginal way with a toddler

The two men "hike" to the top of a rocky knoll in Ogunquit.

We three explorers set out Friday morning for Perkins Cove, a haven for fanny-pack wearing, tee-shirt buying tourists, but home to the scenic Marginal Way, a three-mile path that hugs the coastline of Ogunquit, ME, and offers spectacular views of wildlife, waves rolling into tiny inlets and a dilapidated, spooky house bearing a wigged skeleton head in it's large front window overlooking the ocean.

It was an enjoyable and pleasantly uneventful morning. We moved at a turtle's pace down the path, our son pausing to painstakingly pick out a special rock every few feet. He also insisted on growling every time he spotted a child a bit older than him, which we've determined means he's excited. We made it about a half-mile in a half-hour before we decided we'd better turn around and start heading back to reach the car by dark. Other than that, there's not too much to report, except that when spotted a few feet behind my family holding my son's sippy cup, two men holding hands accused me of having a drinking problem.

05 July 2007

How can this happen?

There are a lot of things I just don't understand. But at least many of them I can wrap my head around enough to know that.

This however, I just can't grasp, at all. Not only the sheer brutality of the physical attack, but also, how anyone, nevermind a mother, could knowingly conceal from police that this was happening to another human being. And the fact that the biological father places NO blame on the mother is also unfathomable and leads me to believe there was a VERY good reason for him being barred from seeing his 3-year-old daughter, who was so disfigured, Boston Childrens' Hospital doctors could not put her back together again.

When I read the report online, I stared at the two mugshots of Bryan M. James, 34, and Jessica Silveira, 26, and imagined all the punishments that would befit a crime of this magnitude. I don't think I should go into detail about those thoughts here. What really pisses me off though, is that SOMEONE, a friend, relative, neighbor, the DSS workers who had been working with the family for months, HAD to know something wasn't right.

All I know is that someone didn't do their job - legally and morally - and now an innocent, 3-year-old girl, is suffering, and will suffer all her life for it. And that makes me extremely sad.