A Haunting We Will Go

What with all the hoopla going on about The Conjuring, (which I have yet to see, btw) and the myriad of ghost hunting shows out there, I figured it was time I shared my own ghostly experiences. It truly makes no difference to me whether others believe in this sort of thing or not. My boyfriend is a total non-believer and I still love him regardless.

The earliest true ghost story I was told came to me from my maternal grandmother, Angeline.  She was visiting friends for the weekend and had been given the spare room to sleep in. This room was used by anyone who came to visit them, including numerous grandchildren. On her first night there, she was preparing for bed. As was her habit, she always read a bit before turning off the light for the night. She was doing just that when the door opened and a little girl entered the room already dressed in a simple, white nightgown. The child smiled at my grandmother and asked if she could sleep with her because there wasn’t any other place to sleep. Angeline, of course, didn’t hesitate to let the child hop into the big bed with her which the little girl did and wished her a good night. Gram finished her chapter shortly after, turned off the light and went to sleep herself. By the time morning came about, the child had already gotten up and left the room. Gram got herself up, dressed and headed out to the kitchen where coffee was brewing and breakfast was already starting to be made. As she got her coffee, she asked her friends which grandchild had come to visit. They shook their heads and denied that there were any grandchildren there at all for the weekend. Gram told them about her little night visitor. It was then that they both smiled and said, “Oh, that’s our ghost. She shows up sometimes.” Prior to this, they had never mentioned this presence to my grandmother.

My earliest personal experience I’d have to put around the age of 11-12. At the time my best friend, N., was living in a very large, very old house. Keep in mind the house had two staircases. There were the front stairs with a fancy carved, curved banister – lushly carpeted at the front of the house. At the top was her brother’s room, to the right was her parent’s room and her room was located through a doorway at the start of a long hallway.  At the opposite end of this hallway, that was lined with doors, was the bathroom. There were at least three more bedrooms they didn’t used up there. Beyond the bathroom was the second staircase that lead to the back of the house and the kitchen.

As we sat up in her room talking and playing records we heard someone come running down the hall, knock on her bedroom door then run back down the hall.  N. had an older brother and this sort of activity would be right up his alley so we didn’t really pay much attention. It happened again a few minutes later. The sounds were very clear and we both heard them. The second time she told him in true little sister fashion to “Knock it off!” as she pulled the door open. Of course, there was no one there but clearly he’d made his way down the front stairs quickly. N. closed the door and we went back to whatever we were doing but kept our ears open, determined to catch her brother in the act. Running footsteps, KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK… N. yanked the door open. The hallway was empty.

We went downstairs to where her parents and brother were sitting watching TV. N. said, “Mom, tell B. to stop coming upstairs and knocking on my door!” Her brother, who was sprawled on the sofa looked up, kinda confused, “Huh?” Her mother said, “He’s been sitting here watching TV with us for at least an hour.” N. and I looked at each other with surprise and retreated back upstairs to her room.  The sounds did not happen again that night.

Many years later when I was newly married, my  husband and I were searching for a house to buy for our new family. We wanted something old, with character and maybe a little bit out in the countryside. During our search we found a lovely house and prior to contacting the realtor we were having a look around the outside of the place. It needed work but it looked big enough and the location suited us. It was early Autumn and leaves were already changing and falling to the ground. The front yard was scattered with them and as you walked they made that lovely sound of rustling. I was on one end of the house, towards the front. My husband, R. was on the other side towards the back. As I stood looking up at the eaves and determining that a paint job would be in order, I heard the leaves moving as of someone coming back around to where I was standing. Assuming it was R. I didn’t pay too much attention. Movement caught my eye and I looked down to see a youngish woman in a white dress that dated around the turn of the century round the corner of the house. She had brown hair that was loosely pulled up into a ‘Gibson girl’ style. I looked right at her and she at me. Then she was gone. No fading away just suddenly not there.  Startled and excited, but not scared, I went in search of R. and told him what had just happened. Though we did not go on to purchase this particular house, we did find one more in town and where I still live, that is also haunted.

We bought the place in January 1995 and the haunted stories are too numerous to get into here in any great detail. Our first indication was within weeks of moving in when the back kitchen door opened several time on its own until R. said, “Okay, we know you’re here and you are welcome to stay, just stop opening this door and waking us up.” It never happened again. The porch light turned on and off on its own a lot at first. The television did the same.  Kids toys have rolled out of rooms in which there were no kids (or anyone for that matter) playing with them. Footsteps have been heard going up the stairs or walking across the dining room. I’ve heard the front door open and close thinking my son was coming home from work only to go say hello and find no one there. I’ve heard footsteps come up the stairs and a bedroom door close as if one of my kids had arrived home only to find myself still alone. We attribute all of this to a man named Hermann who – by his own daughter’s telling – died in the bedroom upstairs that we designated as the guest room. Over the past years, I’ve grown rather fond of Hermann’s visits. He’s never done any harm to anyone and as far as I’m concerned he can visit whenever he likes.

So, now you know why I’m A Believer. Other things have happened in other places. Not always pleasant things but each one has only solidified my belief that Spirit can and does return to this world and that we can interact with it.

 

 

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The Fine Art of Censorship

It’s nice to know that Big Brother Amazon knows me so well that he has taken it upon himself to keep certain offensive books off my reading list. It makes it so much easier for me to have someone else pick and choose what I can and cannot read. Heaven forbid I should have to make up my own mind on this one. Ah, censorship.

Though it has been going on for years, I only recently learned of Amazon.com’s little foray into book banning and censorship and frankly, am not pleased. Makes me not want to do business with them at all. I will certainly think twice about ordering anything, books or not, from them in the future. Here’s part of the Policy that Amazon claims so many small, indie publishers of erotica are violating and thereby getting arbitrary books banned from sales through Comrade Amazon.

Pornography Pornography and hard-core material that depicts graphic sexual acts.
Offensive Material What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect. Amazon Digital Services, Inc. reserves the right to determine the appropriateness of Titles sold on our site.

I respect their right to pick and choose what they sell but I can still go there and buy the Beauty Series by Anne Rice. I can pick up a couple copies of novels written by Marquis de Sade and while I’m shopping for my porn/erotica – maybe I’ll grab a copy of Shades of Gray, too. Oh, and remember that V.C. Andrews ‘Flower’ Series (Petals on the Wind & etc…)? Talk about INCESTUOUS!!  Yet, a copy of “Bound To Be Bitten” by Victoria Morris published by a small indie company called Pink Flamingo out of Michigan is not to be mine. Pity, looked good – sexy, motorcycle riding, bdsm-practicing vampires, ya know? Matter of fact, seems there a whole SLEW of Pink Flamingo books Amazon says I will find offensive. Founder of Pink Flamingo, Lizbeth Dusseau has a few words to say about this on her blog of July 17th.

And she’s far from the only one. Self-Publishing Revolution posted some commentary on this subject back in 2010. Joni Rodgers, another Indie author and booksellers spoke up in 2012 as did Seela Conner. Business Insider also published an article on this topic as have a myriad of other writer, publishers and business people.  

From my understanding, this ban rule only applies to getting the books on Kindle. Someone correct me if I have that wrong, please. So, I can still get any of the banned books in a regular book form just not on an eReader. Maybe Amazon is just trying to sell more of the hard copies of these books because they make more money on them? Their policy makes no sense and their selection process for banned titles is so random it’s almost humorous, save for the fact censorship is censorship is censorship and the freedom of speech and choice is being taken away by a bunch of faceless people who think they know what I want to read (or write for that matter!). As an author, I want to be able to choose my writing topics without the fear that Big Brother Amazon is going to work against me when I seek publication.

If Amazon is going to ban books that contain pornographic, erotic, incestuous and violent materials then they should ban ALL of it and not just the titles being put out by the smaller Indie Publishing houses. Course, that would wipe out a HUGE selection. Sadly, it seems all about money anymore and not the creative, unique works being put out by these smaller houses. Still… maybe being on the Banned Book List is a good thing. Check out some of these Banned Books (ironically on Amazon) and you’ll see what I mean.

Gosh, I hope this little rant doesn’t get found by those Amazon execs in charge of throwing darts at random book covers to see who’s next on the ban list, “Blood of the Scarecrow” might find itself up there on the board. (Despite having very little violence and virtually no sex at all in it.)  And just because I’m not feeling too warm and fuzzy towards Big Brother right now, that last link is a NON-Amazon one!

READ ON!

Pass The Toilet Paper, Please.

They say the secret to living a happy life is surrounding yourself with the people and things that bring you joy. That’s not always as easy as it sounds and along the way you’re likely to lose a lot of people you once called ‘friend’.  We all know it only feels good when you are the one doing the dumping. Being the Dumper is so much more liberating than being the Dumpee.

As Dumper, I’ve known the reasons behind me decisions to rid someone or something from my life. If the Dump involved a person, I’ve tried to have the courtesy to explain to that person why. They may not have understood or agreed with my reasons but I have a clear conscience that I did my best to give them answers. As Dumpee I’ve not been so fortunate. There are a lot of unanswered questions in my mind about the reasons things went the way they did in some of my relationships. Learning to live with those questions hasn’t always been easy and in at least one case, I am still very confused about the whys. 

Maybe those involved feel that knowing the truth would hurt a whole lot more than having so many questions hanging in the air. Maybe they are ashamed of their reasons for dumping me. Maybe they simply don’t care. That’s what hurts the most, that and having it all happen so quickly and out of the blue.  You’re best buds for years and years then suddenly BAM! they won’t even speak to you or answer an email. They are just gone. If there had been the tiniest of red flags that things were in jeopardy, maybe there could be some sort of understanding but there wasn’t. It simply ended.

I’ve done some scrying in my day, read a few Tarot cards and rune stones but I’ll be damned if I’m a mind reader and I’m trying very hard not to assume what other people think because chances are pretty high I’d be wrong.  Yeah, being the Dumpee really sucks.

On the other hand, I try to imagine their reasons and see it as them letting go of something that no longer brought them any joy. I hate to think I have brought someone such misery as they’d quit speaking to me but maybe I have.  I want my friends to be happy even if in a couple of cases I’m not convinced these people have a clue what that means.  

All this hasn’t prevented me from being happy. These past couple years have been some of the happiest ones of my life. If not being able to share that happiness with a person or two is the price I have to pay, then it’s worth it. I am surrounding myself with the people and things that bring me joy and I will continue to do so even if it means I am the Dumper or the Dumpee.  I can’t be part of everyone’s life no matter how much of a shared history we may have. I do miss those people and the idea of growing old with them in some capacity. But, life is too short to dwell on what was and has been lost. I sincerely hope that those that have dumped me are doing the same thing – following and finding their bliss.  

In the end, the best thing to do for yourselves is use that little extra bit of TP you have, give your hands a good hard scrubbing and leave the bathroom and the waste behind. If you really needed that poo in your life it wouldn’t have left you, would it?

I’m gonna write on… write on.

I must confess I am at feeling overwhelmed. Maybe this is why my writing has suffered.

The passion to write has not gone away. If anything it has grown stronger and yet I find myself writing less and less despite my spoken and written statements that I will get more of it done. For the current novel I’d set my sights on having it done by the end of August. This doesn’t seem possible to me now. By the end of this month I’d hoped to have the submission papers ready for an agent. Although I’ve made headway on that, getting five of the six requirements done, my feet (fingers?) are dragging on the last one. I’m not sure why. This whole thing means the world to me. Writing is my world, my greatest passion and something I have longed to do but since I was nine.

I want to get ‘That’s What Shadows Are Made Of’ done.

I want to get the agent papers done.

I want to finish with the illustrations for “Bill, The Worm Who Ran Away”.

I want to work on the two ghost stories I have in mind.

I want to get “Speeding Chicken By Road” and “Cecil B. Snail” written down.

And with all this going on in my head, I can’t focus on the Top Two on the list. I gather my materials and I sit down at my desk then all the ‘oomph’ just kinda gets sucked out of me for some reason. It’s frustrating, at times to the point of tears. A perfect example is this very moment where I am blogging about not being able to work on the stuff I should be and blogging instead! Argh! Insanity!

I’m really liking how “…Shadows” is turning out so it’s not like I’ve lost interest in it. I wrote up some outline notes for future chapters. My constant thoughts of “Gotta get it done, gotta get it done…” have paralyzed me at the keyboard for anything beyond what I consider for myself to be fluff. Everyone else seems to have such interesting things to say in their Blogs. Mine feels more like a Blargh. Not sure what goes on in my life that anyone else would really be all that interested in knowing about.

And so.. I am overwhelmed. Everything feels like it’s on a deadline and if I don’t do it now, it won’t get done in time… in time for what? Mortality? Now, there’s a cheerful topic! NOT.

The Secret To Life Is…

There’s a hash-tag thingy over on Twitter: #TheSecretToLifeIs I added my two cents to which I will tell you my contribution to at the end of this post.

My good friend Lily came over this past Saturday. I don’t get to see her and her husband Pete as much as I’d like. They are one of my most favorite couples. Of all the people I’ve known for more than twenty years, Lily is the one friend that I actually see the most. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t have Facebook. We can’t stay caught up on each other that way. It’s truly a blessing in disguise. We get REAL face time, sitting at the kitchen table noshing on homemade salsa & guacamole with chips and hot tea. It’s always ALWAYS a pleasure to spend time with her. Pity it only happens a few times a year.

We talk about a lot of things, Lily and I – pets, politics, religion, hobbies, work, family and etc. The topic of belief came up this time around. We share a very common belief system, it seems. That’s cool. I don’t find a lot of people that seem to get “God” along the same lines as I do. I’ve truly run the gammut when it comes to religion. I’ve been a Born Again Christian & a Satanist. I’ve been a Pagan & Agnostic. Today I classify myself as Gnostic which would take reams to explain so I will  merely suggest you take a gander over on that link to save me a whole lot of typing time & space.

When I was Christian – boy howdy was I ever Christian – I spent a lot of time wearing crosses and praying in churches and reading the Bible and singing worship songs. When I think back on those times I find it really hard to remember actually BELIEVING in what I was doing. I suppose I must have but somewhere in there I never had that JOY I’d heard so much about. I think deep inside though I simply felt those things: the crosses, the prayer, the Scripture – were just that… things. Maybe I was too young & inexperienced in life to grasp it all.

Let’s make it clear that the Satanic portion of my spiritual journey was very short lived. It was damn scary. You really don’t want t go there kids. ‘Nuff said.

I entered my Pagan path after that. I’d always been fascinated by witches and the like. I did my High School term paper on the different theories behind what had happened at Salem. I’m even a descendant of Rebecca Nurse. She’s like my 7th great grand aunt or some such thing. Yeah, the blood is thin but hey, it’s still fun to be related! I looked into Wicca and other variations of Paganism. None of them truly fit me so I ended up making my own version. It felt right at the time – sorta. But as with the Christian thing and the Satanic thing – this square peg never fit into that round hole. I couldn’t believe in the “power of crystals’ or any of that other stuff. To me the crystal was just a crystal. It didn’t contain any of its own powers but MAYBE it could be used as a focal point for a person’s own energies – much like the Crucifix I used to wear. Like in so many vampire movies, ya know? You have to BELIEVE in the cross for it to work against the Prince of Darkness.

I resigned myself to being a hermit as far as religion was concerned. Little did I know that even that was leading me somewhere else. I may not be seeing it by its technical origins but the word “Hermit” makes me think of “Hermetic” and/or “Hermes.” A few years ago a friend of mine asked if I’d heard of Hermes Trismegistus. I had to admit ignorance. He’d not really say a whole lot about it just told me to few books I might find interesting to look at. Being the research junkie I am and a big fan of the cross referencing of world theologies, I dove right in. And my keen interest in Gnosticism was born.

In as small a nutshell as I can explain we must go back to the beginning of my post and the Secret of Life. Remember the movie ‘Dumbo’ where he had that little feather held so tightly in his trunk? He believed that only while he held that feather, he’d be able to fly. Turned out that wasn’t the case. You don’t need the Feather. You don’t need that Cross, candle or statue. You don’t need that crystal or pentacle. They are just things of the material world. All you need to find and be with God is right there inside you. That is what Gnosticism has taught me.

And so… The Secret To Life Is You Don’t Need That Feather To Fly.