Amphitheater snowman

Apparently, the strange goings-on at the amphitheater include people creating a snowman with tentacles coming out of its head.

Or was it people who created the snowman? After all, no…human being would stack snow like this. (

Snowman 3


Christmas Eve candlelight service

Ella’s artistic compromise

The day after Thanksgiving, there are various events in downtown Detling that culminate with the illumination of the holiday lights downtown and a small parade. I knew that The Bookmark was going to be part of the parade but didn’t know what Miriam and Ella had in mind for it, so late that afternoon I stopped in to find out.

The first person I saw was Ella, dressed in what looked like a pilgrim’s outfit: a plain, dark, long-sleeved dress with a white collar and apron. I figured that for the parade she was representing a literary character and I asked which one. Ella smirked and cocked her eyebrow. “I’ll show who you I was going to be,” she said, pulling an in-process prop from under the counter:


“Oh, Ella,” said Miriam in a maternal but good-humored sort of way, approaching from the back of the store. She was wearing a white sweater over a puffy pink gown, plus a high crown. She was holding the hand of Annabelle, who was wearing a sweater and blue checked dress and had her hair in pigtails.

“Miriam doesn’t think parents would appreciate explaining what the ‘A’ stands for,” said Ella. “So…” she removed her white collar and apron. “…now I’m Jane Eyre.”

Miriam told me that Ingrid was going to drive them in her pickup truck for the parade. I asked Miriam if she was going to throw books instead of candy to the crowd. She laughed and asked me if I wanted to join them in the parade. I declined, ignoring Ella’s suggestion that I could be the vampire from the Twilight books and make the teenage girls swoon.

I watched the parade and thought Ella and Miriam had the most creative idea of all the participants. Though I did see another memorable figure from one of the other local businesses: someone in a blaze orange jacket wearing a deer mask that looked like this. The realistic style of the mask and the baleful way the creature’s mouth was open made the figure a little frightening; it looked like something that would torment hunters in a Midwestern vegetarian Dante’s Inferno.

The Perkins call

If you have any experience living in a town the size of Detling, it may not surprise you to know that word made it to my mother that Ella and I had gone to Perkins late last Saturday night.

“You had a date with Ella?” my mom asked when I talked to her on the phone today. Given the circumstances, I hadn’t really thought of it as a date and I’m pretty sure Ella hadn’t either. But I didn’t want to get into the whole thing about confronting an evil spirit, so I kind of panicked and said “Sort of,” which prompted Mom to ask why I qualified it that way. I responded with something vague and unimaginative, like “I don’t know…we just sort of…went.”

Mom didn’t press me on it but I’m pretty sure she thinks of it as a date. I should probably warn Ella in case my mom goes to the bookstore sometime soon.


I went to The Bookmark today to buy another Spindle book, which Ella was happy to sell me. Feeling curious about the amphitheater, I asked her if she knew anything about its location. Before it was used as an outdoor stage, I mean, since I don’t think these guys would find their way into Ella’s studies about inconceivable monstrosities from beyond the stars.

She said she had strong suspicions that it was used for ceremonies she’s seen references to in some of her sources, but hasn’t found anything definite. She’s thinking of doing a covert one-woman excavation there some night.

“It just feels strange there, doesn’t it?” she asked me. I don’t know about that. I stopped there for a while after leaving the bookstore and it didn’t feel strange at all. I felt like I belonged there as much as I did anywhere else in Detling. Maybe even more.

Walk in the woods

This morning I went for a walk in the woods outside campus. There’s less woods there than I remember.

When I went for these walks when I was a kid the feeling was different. More mysterious, almost like I was trespassing. Not on someone’s land but on a more fundamental level, as if I was walking where people, dogs, birds – hell, carbon-based life forms – just should not be.

I realized it was this feeling that the names of Ella’s mythological beings reminded me of, but I’m not sure why.

Even parts of the campus can feel a little weird when no one is around:

Meeting Miriam and Annabelle

I went to the Bookmark today to check out their new beverage options and the owner greeted me at the door. Her name’s Miriam and she looks to be in her late 20s, though she had a serene, unironic pleasantness I don’t normally associate with secular women under 60 years old. She’s slightly shorter than Ella, and I wondered if she made a point of hiring people of that stature.

She took me toward the back of the store, where the serving area was, and rushed forward with an anxious kind of sound. Following her, I saw a row of stools around a counter, and Miriam standing at the leftmost stool with her back to me. She stepped aside and faced my direction, revealing a young girl sitting on the stool.

Miriam’s hand was on the girl’s shoulder. She had the same oval-shaped face as Miriam and the same hue of brown hair, though hers was straight and Miriam’s was wavy. Two things I’m not good at estimating are distances and children’s ages, so I don’t know how old the girl was, though she wasn’t big enough to have gotten to the top of her stool without help.

Miriam introduced the girl as her daughter, Annabelle. While Miriam was beaming, Annabelle regarded me solemnly, looking like a cherub that had just been informed I told a child Santa Claus was a myth.

“Hi, Annabelle. Do you like coming to the bookstore with your mom?” I asked. There was no response. “You like coming here, don’t you?” asked Miriam. “Yup,” said the girl, still looking at me.

I asked Miriam if she’s from Detling, and learned that she moved here from Saint Paul. I asked Annabelle if she liked her new home. “Yup,” she answered. Miriam said they have a bigger backyard now, and Annabelle has more space to play. Annabelle looked at Miriam. “Yeah, that’s a fun thing to do, isn’t it?” said Annabelle.

I must have looked surprised at the sophistication, so to speak, of that last one, because Miriam explained that Annabelle is kind of a mimic. Annabelle then started saying a series of words in a sing-song voice which, except for something that sounded like it could have been the word “early,” were all nonsense.

“Really? That’s fascinating!” Miriam said to Annabelle. Annabelle looked at me again with the same expression she had before. “Yup,” she said.