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Baylis Park in Council Bluffs & Other Things

Yesterday hubby and I did our weekly grocery shopping. It was a sunny day:

We went to several places, including the restore where we picked up a couple of ceiling fans, Menards where I finally got a couple of trellises, and we tried Freddy’s (who has frozen custard and steak burgers! I didn’t try a burger but their hot dog was really good!).

I insisted on some pokemon time, but he didn’t want to go back to Omaha, so instead we hit up the Baylis Park area. Normally we just drive around it, but the fountain was working and lit up, so we stopped and I took a bazillion pictures of it because it changes color!!

There’s also a cool gazebo thing there:

Everything is squirrel themed, though I have no idea why. Something to google I guess.

Anyway, I was thankful yesterday for getting to play around the fountain. The wind was blowing the spray around in a fine mist, and I really enjoyed hopping around in it, squealing, and hopping away and such. Like a toddler in the sprinkler. It was a lot of fun.

And now I need to go hand wash my dishes because our dishwasher died. Yeah. Already. Hubby thinks it is the motor. Not happy about it, but I’m pretty sure the warranty is over (we’ve had it for just over two years.). Something else to look into, though.

Have a playing in the fountain kinda day!

Jo 🙂

 

The Axe Murders of Villisca – The Movie

The horror movie The Axe Murders of Villisca has finally migrated to Netflix where I managed to watch it the other day. Living in Villisca, here’s my official review.

If you don’t know, there was a famous axe murder in Villisca in 1912 (So shocking it knocked the sinking of the Titanic out of the headlines). While the Moore’s were sleeping, an unknown assailant murdered the husband, wife, and three children with the blunt side of an axe (to really rub it in, it was their own dull axe, used for chopping coal up.) The killer also slayed the two little Stillinger girls who were staying the night (The family had been to a church function called Children’s Night that evening and the girls lived out in the country and did’t want to walk all the way home in the dark, plus one assumes they were friends with the Moore children – weirdly no one ever bothers to mention that angle.) Though there were lots of suspects, lots of finger pointing, and even trials, to this day no one knows who committed the murders, or why. A priest, dubbed “the little minister”, who was visiting Villisca at the time (and in fact spent that night in my aunt and uncle’s house) confessed to the crimes, but was found innocent. Another prime suspect was the senator’s son, and even the senator himself (having hired someone). Adding to it the whole fracas were several weird details, such as the mirrors in the house all being covered, the fact that all but one Stillinger girl was found with the face bashed in (heads covered) but laying in bed, as if sleeping, and of course the bacon (though I’ve since read an article that offers a disturbing idea about it), and the sloppy investigation. Half the town had walked through the crime scene before police ever got there, and people took home souvenirs, including chunks of the dead people’s skulls. The house (Three blocks from me) is now a tourist/paranormal location where you can pay 10$ a piece for a day tour (I’ve done this), or a lot, lot more and stay the night (I inadvertently was in there for several hours one night, but that’s another story). If you google it you can find a lot on the house, the history, and all the rest.

Now that you know the basics, on to the movie!

The Axe Murders of Villisca begins with a quick flash of the past, showing the “little minster” as the killer, and from there hops forward to modern day in the small town of Maryville, Iowa (which I don’t think exists.) It’s fun to note that most of the town shots for Maryville, and later Villisca, are all actually Villisca. (More on that later). We meet our two main stars, Denny, a gay teenager who has graduated school last year, and his best friend Caleb who, for whatever reason, is finishing school up late – this October day is his last, where he will earn his GED.

At the school, we meet the girl of the group, Jess, a Chicago teen who has moved to small town Iowa. Not sure how long she has lived there, but it was long enough to date – and have sex with – the local jock, who then uploaded the video of them online. Of course she is shamed and made fun of for it. Caleb defends her to a jerky bully who has apparently made a career of picking on him and his best friend as well, and school ends.

This is when we find out that Caleb is moving to Omaha now that he has his GED. As a last hurrah, his best friend Denny, one half of the so-called Marryville paranormal society, has planned a trip to “nearby” Villisca. As they’re leaving, Jess shows up (on advice from her friend) and ends up tagging along. To some the scene may seem contrived, but I remember teenagedom well, and some of the weird places I ended up going because of a cute guy, so I bought it completely. By this point there has been some good character development, and some hints that the boys have dark pasts/secrets as well. There’s also an underlying hint that Denny has a crush on Caleb – which gets touched on a bit later but then sadly falls by the wayside.

They get to Villisca, where they get a day tour of a sprawling, huge Victorian house (aka a stand in for the real, and very small house.) The tour ends abruptly when the tour guide’s wife goes a bit batty over Jess touching a piece of candy (going so far as to scream, “You didn’t touch anything?” which gave me the impression that this act of touching that candy is what brought the evil to life and why it suddenly manifests when it obviously has not done so since 1912.)

Kicked out and disappointed, Jess suggests they break in after dark to finish their tour, which they do, by going through the cellar. Playing with their phones, Jess posts a pic of her and Caleb to instagram, which our bully boys (who are parked somewhere getting high) see via their instagrams, which then leads them to head to the house to cause trouble. Meanwhile, at the house the other three set up a seance.

Now from here things start to get a little watery. We find out the secret of the boys’ dark pasts. Caleb helped his father rob a convenience store where someone was shot, and Denny’s parents died in a car crash that he survived. We get to see the ghost of the littlest Stillinger girl (which I thought looked pretty good) but, as it goes along towards the climax, it kind of forgets all that character development – well, doesn’t forget it, but doesn’t give us any of the payoff for it. Which feels a bit like the first 2/3 was written carefully, really developed, and then the ending was sort of rushed. (I did read that they had to redo some of the script because of another movie that came out that was “similar” – don’t know that this is true – so perhaps that’s where the disconnect comes from.)

As far as horror movies, it was good. No “found footage” – which was nice (those are getting old) – good acting, good sets, good makeup. I wasn’t particularly scared anywhere, but then I rarely am (except for Lights Out. Long story.) I think there were a couple of jump spots that I flinched at, though. Nothing that made me cover my eyes over gore, but I find that a plus. Gore can be great but so often it is overused. Their mythos is present from early on in the film, though in a more subtle classic horror kind of way and not overly explained as a lot of modern movies do (A mention that the area used to be a native American graveyard for the insane reasons that the murders took place back in 1912 because that the land was already possessed by crazy evil spirits that could not find rest, and so these spirits possessed the minister who was a lecherous man and had come to see the older Stillinger girl – and had brought her a piece of candy like the one the girl touched in the display. This same evil is what posses our teenagers and makes them try to kill themselves and each other.).

All in all, as a family vote, it got a four star rating from us.

Of nitpicky variety though are three things:

1) they didn’t use the real house – BUT this could be for several reasons. The real house is small, so I don’t know that they could have had the same plot without all the extra rooms, and certainly not without the connecting cellar (though they could have used the house fro a straight on front exterior shot and then done whatever the heck they wanted for an interior, letting you believe the house was narrow but long.) There’s also a chance they couldn’t get permission to use the house, which would be no fault of their’s, so I wouldn’t discount any points from my rating for that.

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The real house

2) They leave for Villisca AFTER school. The girl has had time to go home, get on her laptop and skype her friend. It has to be getting on to 4pm. They then drive to Villisca, take the tour, and leave, all in daylight. It gets dark here in October at 5pm. No way would they still have sunlight. Again, this is a silly, picky thing that I wouldn’t take any points off for either.

3) They do not show my house! How unfair is this? They show lots of things around me, for instance:

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This is two blocks down from us.

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That’s the church at the end of our block – it’s also a Pokemon gym. If you look up the street, you can see a light pole. That light pole is on my corner in front of my house. The very square white house next to the church that you can see is two houses down from me.

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This is at the other end of my block. We call this Eggsecute corner (as we often catch Eggsecute pokemon there).

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This is behind our block (that yard and tree on the left are from the house pictured above).  But, the real kicker is…

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This is across the street!!! This is the neighbor’s house that gave us cucumbers and cookies! Had they just filmed from the passenger side of the car they’d have had us – but nooooooooooo! And why not? Just because our paint looked shabby? Huh? Huh? Huh?

LOL!

Here are a few of the other Villisca locations in the movie:

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The train overpass – as in the train passes over and cars go down in a very dark tunnel (where my magic shoes came from).

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Main street.

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Our “embargoed” bridge – it’s very sad that it is embargoed, but being in a movie has cheered it up considerably.

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The grain bins.

There were a few other quick shots, but you get the idea, anyway. Honestly, I think it is beyond cool that they used shots of the real town in the movie. I’ve never seen a movie before and thought “OMG! I’ve been there!” let alone know things about the actual locations. As I commented on another post elsewhere, I know a lot of older Villiscans are unhappy that we’re famous for an axe murder, but I say embrace it. Not like there’s much else bringing people here. (Watch the movie – the part where they say everyone is dead pretty much shows all of main street on it – though the school they show is not here. I have no idea where it’s at, though it does look weirdly familiar.)

Anyway, as I mentioned, for a horror movie, there’s not a lot of gore, mainly because the movie is NOT about the axe murders. It is about the contemporary story unfolding. The axe murders are just a sort of backdrop that show that the evil struck once before. I understand that initially the film was just called Villisca, and though I get why they changed it, I think they’d have been better off to leave it. The unfortunate title of The Axe Murders of Villisca makes audiences expect it to have a lot more to do with the murders themselves than it does. In fact, the house has a bigger role than the murders do.

All in all, it’s worth a watch, just don’t expect a lot on the murders themselves or you will be disappointed.

Have a Your-Town-In-A-Movie kinda day!

Jo 🙂

 

Thankfulness #125: Moving the Trees

Yesterday I was not thankful to find out that our neighbor Joanne passed away. She was an older lady who’d gone to stay with her children in Des Moines, so while it wasn’t a shock, it was still sad. I won;t pretend we knew her well – we’re not good neighbors. Maybe we spent too many years in apartments, but I tend to have a “mind my own business” kind of attitude as opposed to the stereotypical small town midwest “we’re all family” belief. But the few times I did talk to her, she was very nice, and she let us have lilacs from her tree and peonies from the bushes that border our yard.

As I mentioned, she went to stay with her kids over the winter, and I was pretty sure she wouldn’t come back – not because I anticipated her passing, but because I imagined they’d keep her with them. Our first year here we planted some pussy willow trees very close to what I assume is the property line (the lawn mower guy says our garage is right at the line, though that creates an odd thing where it would mean that our garage roof overhangs onto their property, which I can;t imagine the city giving a permit for, but whatever.) Assuming he’s right, then the trees were pretty much on it (there was a misunderstanding between myself and the person who planted them about where they were supposed to go). When it was Joanne next door I wasn’t that worried about it, but with the chances of the house being sold, it could be a concern. So I hit google, where a website informed me they could be moved if we did it while they’re young.

I made plans to do that when it warmed up, but, even though it’s May, those trees were still there, right on that line. I’ve been buried under working on the book, hubby has been doing six 11 hour days and if someone does have a minute we have plans with someone or else it’s raining. But, with Joanne’s passing came the very real push that they WILL be selling the house, and probably soon, so we need to get it done.

We got it done today. The root systems looked nothing like the online diagrams. Instead of spreading out they pretty much went down, down, (to goblin town – little LotR reference there) and there weren’t very many of them, so hopefully we didn’t somehow miss something and hack off all the roots. I did learn that I don’t like digging, at least not with the short handled shovel we have.

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Now we’ll see if they die…

We also took the birdhouse down (I am going to paint it and put it back out in a new location), but there is a metal eye/anchor that we can’t get out of the ground. The thing goes down for probably four feet. It’s on the list to tackle later this week.

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This does not do it justice

And now I have to get to work reading on the fantasy book. Been so long since I worked on it with the brother that I’ve forgotten what’s happening, so I have to start at the beginning. He’s not happy about it, but I can’t help it.

Have a tree moving kinda day!

Jo 😉

Thankfulness #106: More Painting

Today I am thankful because the dining room painting is almost done – and we have a full gallon left at this point:

So we have plenty of paint – yay! I was afraid it wouldn’t be enough, but then I am a bad judge of how far paint will stretch. When we get this room done we’re going to redo the woodwork in the bathroom/kitchen because we used cheaper paint and it is coming off already, then it’s on to the front room. Yay!

In other news, I did some book cover and formatting stuff today:

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And my poor doggy was not feeling very well, I don’t think:

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But he is very soft and silky since his bath yesterday. let me tell you he needed it!

What else… Oh, Snapchat was fun…

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I wish I looked that good in real life, sans the nose ring. I think it would be uncomfortable.

I also got the pre-orders for Goddess of Night going, so I can share links soon… and I did some other boring stuff no one cares about, so I’ll end this.

Have a painted kinda day!

Jo 🙂

 

 

Thankfulness #102: Painting

Today I am thankful for my uncle and brother getting some paint on the wall in the dining room. I had book covers to work on, so I had scheduled it for tomorrow, but the uncle proposed an exchange of labor and who am I to say no? (Okay, actually, the bro made the arrangements, I was uninvolved, but that’s all right)

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That’s the first coat. wOOt! If we can get this done then we’ll go down and get our china hutch and some other stuff from storage in a couple of months. Double wOOt.

And now I have a blog tag to do and then on to Turtles.

Have a painted room kinda day!

Jo 🙂

Thankfulness #83: Organizing

 

I mentioned last night that it was snowing, well the snow managed to last the day for a change.

The poor dog has a cold and has been coughing and looking kind of droopy, but he’s still eating and drinking and doesn’t seem to have a fever. If he’s not better tomorrow we’ll have to take him to the vet.

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I did some writing, not a lot though, and we did a test paint patch:

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That doesn’t quite capture the color, but anyway we’re trying Glidden complete which is supposed to have stain blocker built in. If it does it will save us a ton of money because the alternative is a prier coat of killz, which gets pricey. So cross your fingers that the stain doesn’t eat through it in the next few days.

In other news, hubby’s Valentines present arrived. Yeah, it is Edwin the Duck, whose main attraction was that he was a blue tooth speaker that was waterproof and looked like a rubber ducky. And he lights up and does other cool stuff via phone apps.

I got lucky and found a previously enjoyed version on Amazon for a third of the normal price. Go me! I did let him have it early, because that is also the kind of person I am.

And now for the thankfulness. Today I am thankful to Maegan Provan for helping me get the Valentine’s Party organized for Saturday (It’s a facebook party, so you can ALL come join us!). We worked the schedule out and I got all my graphics made and my bits written up.

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That’s all the cute little graphics in my party folder (yeah it’s named Book born coz that was the first place I had a party on after the reformat and I have been too lazy to change the name). The blank spaces are images that have the winning answers on them – not gonna give them away 😉

And that’s all I’ve got. Have an organized/light up ducky kinda day!

Jo 🙂

Thankfulness #45: Cookie Baking Time

I know.  I missed a couple days. Not because anything traumatic was going on, but just because I was busy and lost track of time. For instance on Friday I got my hair cut:


And we went shopping. Hyvee had some great items in the bakery I did not buy but enjoyed looking at:


Saturday I worked on Mom’s present -no pics coz I don’t want her to see it – and between Saturday and Sunday we got the dining room completely scraped, wiped down, and patched:


And today Mom and I made Christmas cookies! 


They still need frosted, but all that’s left after that is 3 kinds of candy. Even better than baking though was that we got along for a whole day. I think that’s some kind of record. 

And now I need to go to bed.

Have a getting along kinda day!

Jo 🙂 

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