Howling Dogs



My wife and I live at the end of a dirt road in a small valley deep in the forest, with a big garden outside, just near to a creek. Besides some distant neighbors, and the mail lady, we seldom have cars come down our road. Most of the year we go to bed to the sounds of the crickets, peeper frogs and katydids. We awake to birds singing. We think of it as idyllic. We have lived here for three years. About six months ago some people moved into a house on the crest of one of the valley ridges. Just close enough to hear their dogs howling fiercely. We at first found that a bothersome addition to our paradise, but no more than a small irritation.

Then it got worsts.  The owners of the dogs began letting the them roam late afternoons and evenings. We began being awakened by their barking and howling, as they roved our forest hunting our beloved deer, foxes, skunks, possums, raccoons and their kin.

I took to cursing these dogs terribly. I was very bothered by our loss of solitude and tranquility, but, being a civilized person I drove up to the house a few times, until I was able to catch the couple at home. I went to the door and rang the door-bell. The woman who opened  the door was very stiff,  with a very unfriendly look. I stated my concerns. She did not seem very interested or concerned. Her husband came and stood beside her. He felt somewhat aggressive, a business person who decided that country-side was now his new playing-ground. I tried to explain that hunting was illegal hereabouts, and that their dogs were disruptive to everyone, especially to me. They matter-of-factly stated that they had moved to the country to be able to have dogs. Then they dismissed me and closed the door in my face.

I endured the noises a while more. Then one afternoon, as the sun was setting, I was hiking out in the forest and I spied a mother deer and her young fawn. I sat down and watched as they nibbled leaves. Then, like banshees, the dogs descended on the young fawn and ripped it apart. They did not eat it, instead they race off after the escaping mother. I was shocked, but still decided to follow them, only to eventually see them catch her and kill her. Again, they left the carcass and raced off for more pray. My fears had been confirmed. They were brutal killers who killed just to kill. I went home and told my wife. We were both unnerved. The howling seemed to get worse after that.

About three weeks later I was walking in the forest as the sun was setting, and the dogs came out of nowhere. Going for me. One bit my leg. I kicked it with my other foot and grabbed a large branch and began swinging it wildly. The dogs stood their ground. They saw my leg was bleeding and wanted to finish the kill. I kept swinging the branch, while I awkwardly bent down and managed to clutch a large rock. I aimed, and hit one of the dogs in the nose, splitting it and drawing blood. He stopped growling and whimpered some, but the other dog became more aggressive. It advanced on me. I struck it hard on the nose and my branch broke and it kept coming at me. I tried to hold it off with my broken branch, but tripped as I backed up and fell backwards. My right hand fell on another rock, I picked it up and smashed it into the dogs open mouth. It yelped and ran away with his partner following. I limped home. My wife urged me to call the sheriff. I lodged a detailed complaint and they said they would investigate. Nothing seemed to happen, however. I called twice more with the same response and no results.

A few weeks later I had to be away a week on business. I have left my wife alone. She had always been fine with being alone. But, this time she called me on the sixth night I was away, and she was very shaken. She said that the dogs had come up our stairs and tried to claw their way into the house, howling all the time. She had locked the door and searched for some friendly sort of neighbor’s phone numbers. The neighbor couple had come to the house after a long agonizing time. Together the three of them had eventually chased the dogs away.

When I returned home I was terribly bothered. But, I just couldn’t come up with a plan. The howling seemed to have increased to most hours of the day and even louder in the early dark mornings. We kept pipes by our door and carried them on walks, and even walking to the car. We considered buying guns, but this was so against our principles that we just couldn’t. The idea of shooting and animal was disgraceful.

However, the dogs and their howling took over our lives and permeated everything we did. It seemed like it would never end. I would even jump out of bed from dreams of the dogs in our house, tearing us from limb to limb. I felt I was possessed and going mad.

Then one day the howling and barking just stopped. I felt off balance and confused. I drove by the house of the owners of the dogs, but could not see any sign of the dogs. I took to roving the woods and did not encounter them, or even hear them. They still haunted my dreams, but with time that began to lessen. Then, one day, while hiking far from our house I stumbled upon the decomposing remains of the dogs. I got on my knees and examined them. Something had gnawed on them, but more importantly their skulls seem to be crushed. It seemed that someone else had had enough.

Nearby there were a couple rocks with what must have been the remains of dried blood on them. And, oddly enough, by the rocks was also a handkerchief, looking just like one my wife and I shared. It too had blood on it. I thought this was a strange coincidence. Walking away from the scene I almost stumbled over a lead pipe. I was really confused, but in the end, I decided life is strange. The dogs that had so ruined our quite paradise were finally gone.

Yet still sometimes I awake at night, and think I hear their howling. Then, I find myself wondering if mean dogs have ghosts and if these ghosts are unforgiving?

(This is my attempt at fiction. How did I do?)

The Art of Living Life Magically

The Art of Living Life Magically
Okay, so this month is June. I seem to have been confused about that last issue, but I am pretty sure this piece of writing will be printed in June. It is easy to get confused when you are working on three issues of a magazine at once. Believe me.
As I write, I think of magic as I often do. For me magic is a way of viewing reality and moving in the world. It can have moments like those we imagine the magician Merlin had in the legends of King Arthur, or similar to Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, and even those experienced  by the characters in Harry Potter. But usually, it shows in the simple things.
There is no TV in our home. We don’t watch it. Occasionally we watch a downloaded movie for relaxation. But usually, we try to spend our time savoring our lives, rather than escaping into the make believe and far-off dramas of mainstream media. We try and keep our food intake simple and healthy. We are hardly purists, but we eat lots of vegetables and greens from our garden and drink many homemade herbal teas.
Real magic, I believe, has lots to do with intent and expectations. If I intend my life to be filled with magic, it is more likely to be. If I expect magic to exist everywhere in my life, it is more likely to.
We are taught in countless ways that reality is only what we can see and touch. What if the material world we live in is only one slice of the reality of existence?
I often ask “what if?” questions: What if other dimensions and expanded realities not only exist but parts of us already exist in them? What if we can use the possibility of these other realms as a source of magic? What if I could do magic, what would bring me and those I love the most happiness, love and laughter? What if I could talk to gods and goddesses, what might they say? What if there were forest folk living around our home, and what might their reality be like? What if I could talk to the dead, what might they tell me I need to hear? These questions open me up to possibilities that because I choose to try them out, become realities.
When we do watch movies, I enjoy them. I mostly choose movies which uplift and inspire me. I have found, however, that my personal imagination becomes kidnapped by the memories of the movies. This makes magic more difficult and challenging for the next twenty-four hours, or so, after we have watched one. I’m still not sure why that is for me. I’m not sure if TV and movies affect most people this way. But I do advise people who want to live more magically, to take a two-day or longer break from media and see how your imagination changes.
While doing this, I encourage any who are interested to play with magic. Start by giving gratitude for all that is good in your life. Let the forces that be, know you want more good of the things you enjoy in your life. Then ask for something specific. Start small. You can pray for more magic or for something to occur. You can pray to God, or to Christ, or to any spiritual being you prefer. You can walk and repeat affirmations of what you want, or visualize all the details. Or you can write down what it is you want, and place it where you see it all the time. It is your ceremony, so set it up so it feels right to you. If you need inspiration on how to perform ceremonies, I speak of some ways of doing them in my books, as do many authors. There are also many sites on how to perform rituals and ceremony on the internet.
I have found any of the above techniques to be great for simple things – such as to bring old friends I can’t find back into my life. They also work well for finding lost items. Once you begin having small successes, build up to a better job, or a great relationship, or major life change you want to manifest.
I still cannot fly, or translocate, but I will let you know if I manage to. Or, as my wife would have made me say it: when I manage to. In the meantime, Happy Magical Life.