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It was Wednesday, May 23, 2012. The skies were darkening, a threat of severe weather imminent, as people lined up around the block to see the world premiere of Christopher R. Mihm’s B&W 1950s drive-in-style B-movie, House of Ghosts.

We had a sold-0ut show, with just a few scalpers out front selling available-at-the-last-minute tickets.

My gown cost me $6.99 at a Goodwill store! I borrowed a genuine antique brooch from my friend Carol Johnson. Many enthusiastic fans arrived in vintage clothing of their own, and they deserve some runway recognition.

Executive Producer Bonnie Kane, me, and Kailynn Neal (one of Bonnie’s fellow dog groomers at Royal Pet Beauty Shop, where our Westies were made continuously gorgeous for filming)

’50s Fashionista Jenn Farmer with me.

Josette Elstad, owner of JoJo’s Retro and Vintage (www.jojosretroandvintage.com)    and Kiera McMillan, another of                  Royal Pet’s great staff.

Clockwise from top center, the feet of Jenn Farmer, Maggie Schultz, Anthony Kaczor, me, and Christopher R. Mihm.

Writer/Director Christopher R. Mihm with Ann Segar and me.

Anthony Kaczor, my hubby and butler Piers in the movie, shows off his great new Christian Dior tux (ebay $29). To the right, I’m squishing Bonnie Kane.

Ann Segar and “House of Ghosts” lighting designer,        Cherie “Rhuby” Gallinati, looking spectacular.

The cast and crew of “House of Ghosts.” From left: Sid Korpi, James Norgard, Dan Sjerven, Mark Haider, Andy Wilkins, Cherie “Rhuby” Gallinati, Catherine Hansen, Anthony Kaczor, Horror Host Dr. Ivan Cryptosis, Michael Kaiser, Stephanie Mihm, Liz Kaiser, Christopher R. Mihm and Mitch Gonzales.  I was holding Blanche, and many of the rest of the cast were pouring out an invisible tribute to our “homies” Mike Cook, Mark Scanlan, and Justen Overlander, who’d already left for home.

Nurse Kira checks the Angel of Death (created by Mitch Gonzales) for a heartbeat.

I’m holding Blanche up to Christopher R. Mihm who is beside the Angel of Death and its creator, Mitch Gonzales.

Here I am with the four, four-legged stars of “House of Ghosts.” (Oliver, Blanche, Keely, Ambrose) They’d come down to take their BOWwows.

Stephanie Mihm (Ursula), in a lovely dress made for her by her mother Carol Eade from a vintage pattern, with frequent Mihm-movie star Dan Sjerven, and Mike Cook (Harlan).

Writer/director Christopher R. Mihm prepares to cut the cake by Melissa Dirtzu.

After taking out the bobby pins from my ’50s hairdo (by stylist Hannah Rouser).

The more than 50 bobby pins I’d removed from my hair!

“Doctor” Warren Porter and “Nurse” Kira Pontiff at the Heights Theatre lobby.

Earlier: Getting Nurse Rachet’s hair ready. Behind the scenes, back home just before all the hubbub was to transpire, I helped to prep our faux nurse (Kira Pontiff) and faux doctor (Warren Porter), who were going to pass out “fear shields” to audience members to save them from dying of fright.
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A neat ghostly event happened last night, as we finished our “House of Ghosts” shoot. (That’s the B&W 150s-style B-movie by Christopher R. Mihm we’ve been filming at our house.) At 7:35 p.m., during the shoot, TWO of our pendulum clocks just stopped. The big grandfather clock in the living room was one of them, and that has NEVER just stopped before. Since it was that one and Anthony’s deceased mother’s clock in the parlor, and since she’s known for doing that occasionally to let us know she’s around, we’re guessing it was she who was saying she was watching the final scene with her kid. A nice send-off, don’t you agree? 🙂

Remember to get in your RSVPs for our Open House of Ghosts. You can meet these mystical, magical clocks in person!

Friends of the Mihmiverse,

you are cordially invited to attend the

Open House of Ghosts

Whether you’ve been on screen, behind the scenes, or in the audience at a Mihm movie, please join us on-site for an open house party on Friday, Dec. 30, 2011, from 5–9 p.m. at the historic South Minneapolis Victorian home where Christopher R. Mihm’s latest major motion picture, “House of Ghosts,” was filmed.

What’s in it for you?

• Meet and greet the director himself, as well as cast members from this and many of his earlier movies at this unprecedented Mihmiverse mini-reunion.

• “Audition” for a walk-on role in an upcoming movie by re-enacting a scene from one of his movies with the actors present or take the Improbable-Dialogue Memorization Challenge.

• Shop for Mihmorabilia—and get it all autographed.

• Pre-order your “House of Ghosts” DVDs and/or reserve your collectible tickets for its May 23, 2012, premiere event at the Heights Theatre.

• Bring along friends or family members who’d like to check out the perks of becoming an associate producer.

• Hors d’oeuvres, soft drinks and desserts will be served.

Please RSVP to rsvp@sainteuphoria.com by Dec. 20 to get the address and directions to the house. For more information, contact Christopher R. Mihm at chris@sainteuphoria.com or Sid Korpi at sid@tworightfeetdance.com.

This past weekend, I performed a wedding ceremony alongside the shore of Lake Superior in Two Harbors, Minnesota. The setting alone was magical, but several things set apart this event as singularly meaningful for me. The first was that my hubby and I took a six-mile walk along the harbor that morning and at the end of the journey encountered a doe and her white-spotted fawn. I knew that was a wonderful omen for the ceremony that would take place later in the day. Then, an otherwise cool-ish, cloudy/foggy day miraculously cleared to temperate sunshine just half an hour before the ceremony. Finally, one of my most poignant experiences of the afterlife and our connection to those on the Other Side, as recounted in my book in the story Mavis’ Ladybug (pg. 76 excerpted below), came back to revisit me.

Mavis’ Ladybug

I was blessed to know a phenomenal woman named Mavis Vitums
for more than a decade. There were more times than I could count
when I saw evidence of her doing the work of angels in people’s lives,
my own included. She was the most giving person I think I’ve ever
known. In her sixty-eight years on Earth, she had fostered dozens
upon dozens of children and later gave homes to adults in need of
foster care, including my stepfather Leonard and his mentally
retarded brother Benjamin, who both lived quite happily in Mavis’
home until their deaths in 2001 and 2003, respectively.
After years of battling numerous forms of cancer and heart disease
— after even having died twice in the ER and been resuscitated — she
finally chose to let herself stop fighting and truly transform into the
celestial being I knew she always was on the inside.
However, while she was in hospice care in her nursing home
room, a few days before she died, I had said to her, “Mavis, we have
to work out an important detail. What are you going to send me as a
sign that you’re around and doing all right once you pass? I want to
be able to recognize it.”
She thought a moment and then said with a grin, “A ladybug.
Red with black spots. I think they’re classy.”
Well, she died on September 19, 2007, and I was to perform a
wedding ceremony on September 21. I’d gone into the ladies’ restroom
at the golf course clubhouse in Shakopee, Minnesota, for a
final freshening up before the ceremony was to begin, and when I
reached into a basket of paper towels to dry my hands, I stopped
short because there, atop the stack of towels was a red ladybug with
black spots!
The members of the bridal party who’d been gathered there waiting
for the big moment said they’d seen it earlier and just thought,
“Oh that’s nice. It’s good luck.”
I told them of Mavis’ promise to send me a ladybug, and they
promptly cursed me out for making them all cry before the ceremony.
I put the bug on my left palm and ran around the party room, showing
as many of the 250 guests and/or wedding party members as I
could find. The ladybug just contentedly sat on my hand, occasionally
stretching its legs and preening but otherwise never budging. I
picked up my note cards and decided I would perform the ceremony
with a bug on my hand. The wedding went off without a hitch; I can’t
imagine where my newfound confidence could have come from!
My husband took a Polaroid picture of this as untampered-with
photographic evidence.
After about an hour of holding my palm turned upward, though, my
hand started to cramp. I said to the ladybug, “I’m going to have to have
you climb up on my dress, okay?”
As if it understood me, it began crawling toward my chest when I held
my hand next to me and wound up positioning itself on my dress approximately
where a brooch would go. It sat there for nearly another half-hour then got a little bit “antsy,” pardon the pun, and crawled along my collar.
I said to it, “Oh, I get it. You have to go now, right? I’ll take you
outside.”
I placed the bug back on my left palm, where it sat, pouting, legs
tucked in and unmoving. My husband, Anthony, and I went outside
to near the waterfall beside which I’d just performed the ceremony.
The ladybug remained motionless until I said, “I see some impatiens
in the rocks over there. I’ll put you there, okay?”
The instant I’d said that, the bug began crawling up my palm to
the tip of my index finger, just like a trained flea circus performer. I
placed my finger next to a leaf on the purple impatiens plant, and the
ladybug readily climbed onto it. I turned for just a second to hug my
husband and say tearfully to the heavens, “Mavis, you rock!”
When I turned back, the ladybug had disappeared.
Later on, as we were leaving, I saw Stacy, a.k.a. the new Mrs. Jake
Adelmann, racing across the parking lot like a runaway bride, only
she was running toward us. She called out, “Tell your friend how
grateful we are she came to our wedding!”

Back to the present-day wedding. After we spotted the two deer that day, I had said aloud to my husband, Anthony, “Now all we need is a ladybug to make this wedding perfect!”

After the ceremony, Anthony and I were assigned seats at the table with the groom’s parents, grandparents and other family friends for the reception dinner. Later on in the evening, I was chatting with one of the family friends about my book, because she and her husband are animal lovers and she’d shared that her own neighbor had just lost her young chihuahua who’d been hit by a car, and for some reason I’d just started sharing the “Mavis’ Ladybug” story when my eye was suddenly drawn to the table’s centerpiece (made, I later found out, by the bride’s mother). Earlier on, I’d seen two ceramic mushrooms standing in a bed of succulent-like ground cover, thought it was a lovely arrangement  but investigated it no further. When I took a closer look, however, chills broke out on my arms and I squealed in delight.

Set in the center of the table’s decoration was a vintage-looking box with the word and a picture of a LADYBUG. In its open slot was a ceramic ladybug itself! This was the only design of its kind in the whole room, and I was seated next to it! I took a photo of the arrangement as evidence, yet again, that Mavis was watching over me.  (Double click on the photo to see it enlarged for detail.)

If all this weren’t twitterpating enough, I learned the reason the bride’s mother had chosen this particular item was because when her daughter was a teenager, her nickname was “Ladybug”!! (When she saw me totally spazzing over it, the bride’s mother kindly agreed to go to the store where she’d found this one and send me one of the ladybugs as a memento. Anthony gave her the money to cover the purchase.)

Then, she topped all this off by my telling me that she and her husband had seven adopted children and, over the years, 19 fostered kids—giving homes and love to those who need it most—just like Mavis had!!! Don’t hand me “coincidence” here. This is what miracles are made of in my world!

Mavis, you continue to rock, nearly three years after your passing from this physical plane!! The afterlife connections continue, and I am forever grateful!

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