These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

postponing the inevitable

we got news taht my dad's operation, scheduled for thursday, has been postponed. there were complicationgs earlier in the week. then today my sister called after receiving news from my mom in houston.

it seems that after some ct scans done monday, the doctor found two things, one good and one bad. the good is that the left side of his liver, which had some cancerous stuff scooped out, is doing well. the bad news is that there is a large tumor in his right side that had doubled in size since the last time he was in houston nearly a month and a half ago. in addition, there is a strange growth in the liver and they are going to check it out to see if it's cancerous or his liver growing. also, my dad said he feels weird inside and they are scheduling an endoscopy tomorrow. a pet scan will follow on friday to determine if the additional growth is bad.

if it's bad, then he will be operated next friday, sept. 8. if it can hold off, thenhe'll be operated on sept. 18.

my dad had a feeling that it wasn't going to be that easy and knew something was up. he's pretty frustrated with everything. and it must be disappointing to learn that a tumor has doubled in such a short time.

the good news, if there is any, is that it's all taking place on his right side where the operation is taking place. so it will be all cut away when the time comes.

still, it's disheartening to hear this news. just when you think it's all going fine, there's another turn in the road. i guess it could be worse; it could have been his left side and that would have been very bad.

it's just tough news to hear, especially after one of our stringers, beth walton, had her father die of cancer monday. he'd had the cancer for several years now, since i've known beth, pretty much. he died in his sleep at home. i called up beth to give my condolences. she's always been friendly and nice to me.

so now it's the waiting game once more with my dad. we'll find out friday what news the pet scan brings to us. i'm hoping that next friday he'll be in surgery.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

melon heads

who would have thought that a trip to the book store would result in such a strange and compelling local tale about deformed humans called "melon heads," who supposedly roam the allegan woods near the felt mansion.

i scanned the book "weird michigan" and came across the felt mansion, since me and some coworkers have been talking about a halloween story and the felt mansion came up. i opened up to the page and began reading. soon dawn picked up a copy of the book and exclaimed, "oh, i forgot abll abut the melon heads." being from holland, she had heard of them.

the tale said that the melon heads were created by a doctor who injected the brains of children with fluid. the children were said to be safflicted with hydrocephalus. the injections made the heads longer and longer, eventually becoming melon-shaped. one day the melon heads, now very feral, either burned down the place where the doctor had them and killed the doctor, escaping into the nearby woods and living there.

i was so intrigued by the melon heads taht i googled them later saturday night. to my surprise, i found many entried with the word melon head in it. some were about sports fans and sports, but a good majority were on the melon head people.

i started glancing through the links, eventually making my way through a good 10 of them and staying up to almost 3 a.m. reading accounts of these strange creatures.

tales vary, according to the link and person telling it. some tales have the creatures going mad after the doctor's wife died and burned down the place, others say they killed the doctor, who had government money to perform experiments on these kids, some owhich were kidnapped by the doctor, who was referred to as dr. crowe (one site having a picture of the actor russell crowe in it). other acounts place the melon heads in ohio, lake county in michigan and in bridgeman, michigan.

some say the melon heads hate "normal" people because of their own deformity and will run after, kill, and eat people who are unlucky enough to encounter them in the woods. others say their spirits haunt the place where they were supposedly created, which is a building behind the felt mansion in laketown township, in allegan county.

i ran into local accounts of them online by a person (now an adult) from holland who revisted his youth and said he and friends were out drinking in the vicinity of the allegan woods and started talking ghost stories and the tale of the melon heads came up. they saw nothing but quicky left. another individual from hudsonville is glad the melon head tale is online and not forgotten, while a blog from someone who owns the grass cup cafe south of holland said she lives in the area where tales of the melon heads are common (so i'm guessing she's heard tales from locals who requent her cafe).

i looked up another entry on the felt mansion, located in laketown township, and the link said something about "getting activity going and scaring off the melon heads." after clicking on it, i found it was a guest book where people could write comments about the mansion. there must have been 100 comments and i never found that particular comment.

still, it's amazing how once you find something interesting you can locate so much info online, and it's something that is practically in my backyard. i never knew of the meon heads, even though dawn did as a child. their presence was used to scare kids. and in my nearly three years here, i've never encountered the tale of the melon heads. i enjoy reading tales of the bizarre and of things that can't be but still make their way into people's imaginations, starting off as a story then progressing into a story that eventually makes its way to the internet. it's crazy.

would this make a fascinating halloween story for the newspaper? hell yeah. i'd love to talk to locals about it. go up to the felt mansion and see the old building behind it where supposedly you can see the curtains (your imagination at work?) moving behind broken or cracked windows. maybe get permission to go up to the mansion one saturday night and hang out there for awhile, if not all night, and get a feel on the atmosphere of the place at night with no one around but myself and some friends. who knows, maybe a melon head will pop out of the woods and we'll make its acquaintance. hopefully it'll end with us running for the car and not into the woods, getting lost and only to be found by a group of ravenous melon heads who make quick work of one or all of us.