Thursday, October 30, 2014

Say BOO! by Robin Janney

Nothing good can come from this omen...
It's that time of year again.

Halloween.

Perhaps one of the most controversial holidays in existence.  I say this because of one paragraph I read in the Wikipedia article about this fall holiday.  While I realize Wikipedia is not always a reliable source, I found the article to be absolutely intriguing.

The word Halloween translates as "Holy Evening".  The holiday we have now is a far cry from its origins, first as Samhain, the Celtic festival celebrated from sundown on the 31st to sundown on the 1st.  Samhain directly translates as "November" and marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the dark days - It should come as no surprise that Daylight Savings Time ends this weekend and we switch back to standard time.

This time was marked with moving heard from the higher pastures down to the lower winter pastures, and choosing which animals would be slaughtered for the upcoming winter.  It was a time for bonfires and feasting.  Many times the hearth's of homes were doused previously so they could be rekindled from the new bonfires.  Different places had different customs, which remains true today.  This time of year was believed to be a special time of year when then the fabric between dimensions thinned.  Because of this believe there were also many rituals performed during Samhain.

As early Christianity spread across Europe, they influenced the Celts and began to celebrate All Saint's Day the same time as Samhain.  All Saint's Day was originally May 13th, but was later moved to November 1st.  Whether it was because of the two holy days' similarities or as an effort to "combat" the pagan traditions, no one can agree.  There is even the possibility that the church in Rome ordered the change because the city became over crowded during the feast in the summer, especially with the Roman fever a danger.

Graveyards are spooky no matter what time of year it is!
Trick or treating, bobbing for apples, carving jack-o-lantern's are just a few of today's traditions that have been passed down through the years.  Traditions still vary from place to place.  I remember trying to bob for apples once, I wasn't very good at it!  I was 18 when I went trick or treating for the first (and only) time!  And had my fingers shut in a car door for my trouble!  I've never been toilet papering, but I helped a lawn grow plastic forks once...but that wasn't for Halloween...it was an out of season prank.

It's a time for pumpkin everything and scary stories.  There is a lot of emphasis on the departed.  One thing that has lost emphasis in my corner of the world is the remembering and honoring of the departed.  I mean, I've never been to an All Saint's Day service.  I have been to a funeral at this time of year, as my oldest brother died on Halloween 3 years ago.  When the phone rings at 4:30 in the morning, the news is seldom good.

The reason why I call this a controversial holiday isn't because of the mixed attitudes Christians have toward it.  This is a holiday that no religion can agree on.  Some Jews won't celebrate it because it is in violation of a commandment to not participate in Gentile (non-Jew) customs.  Islam is just as split, lumping Halloween in the same category as Christmas and Easter.  Some Neopagans and Wiccans don't participate in the secular version of the holiday, preferring to stick to Samhain traditions.

I used to fall on the 'Halloween is evil and shouldn't be acknowledged' side of the Christian argument.   I wouldn't even participate in church held evangelizing outreaches on the night of trick or treating. Then I switched to the camp of 'Let's shine our light in the darkness.'  Partly because of subtle pressure from the pulpit.  Partly because the pulpit was making sense.  If there's darkness, the light will will push it back.  But since leaving the church, my mind has changed on a lot of issues.  I no longer regard God as this scary judge sitting in heaven taking notes on everything I do.  Life is too short to live in fear that dressing up as a princess or ghost will be held against you after your death.  I myself doubt it would even register on a list of things to be judged.

In many ways, I have to agree with the author of this blog post on the subject.  It's not about whether or not we celebrate Halloween, but how we treat people.  Dressing up as that princess or ghost won't damage a person's faith anymore than dressing as a telephone booth damages his daughter's faith.  The truth is, all the holiday's have become secularized and commercialized to the point it's easy to participate in without subscribing to the beliefs that started it.

Halloween isn't the same without waiting for the Great Pumpkin!
I might even buy some candy and answer the door on Sunday when our community holds trick or treating.  Because it's fun.  I saw trick or treaters in town as I returned my library books, and wished I had kids so that I could have joined them.  Or course, that's still a few days away and I am just as likely to buy a pumpkin and try to cook it down in my slow cooker just to see if I can do it.  Because I love the smell of a pumpkin being cooked down to be used in pies and bread later for Thanksgiving.  Depending on how I'm feeling, because right now this chick just wants some chicken soup and a warm blanket.  I'm settling for warm ginger ale and a sweater until I sign off here.

Enjoy your Halloween, no matter how you chose to celebrate it.  Be safe and have fun.

Do you have any favorite Halloween memories you'd like to share?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Autumn and Things That Go Bump in the Night: PART TWO

Bradford County in full autumn splendor.
Halloween is only ten days away and the TV is full of scary movies and animated holiday favorites. Eateries and coffee joints are offering customers all sorts of pumpkin flavored treats. The only drawback at this juncture is our fall foliage in the Northeast is well past peak season. With that said, here’s hoping I still have your interest for Autumn and Things That Go Bump in the Night: Part Two. I don’t know if Robin Janney has recovered yet. If you haven’tread Part One, here’s the link.
Who ya gonna call? The original ghost hunters.
(Image from Flavorwire.com)
After our experiences following Easter, my husband and I knew we needed to get to the bottom of what was happening. It may seem crazy putting ourselves through it, but we took to watching shows like Paranormal State and Ghost Hunters while this was going on. Gluttons for punishment? Not so much. Viewing those shows helped us feel not so crazy because there were others out there having similar experiences. I decided to email the folks from the semi-local Paranormal State to see if they could investigate. They never responded. As weeks passed and we experienced more activity, I took to the internet looking for other Pennsylvania-based ghost hunting organizations. My husband and I were concerned, more than anything, for our children’s safety. In July, I sent an email to HOPPS: Heart of Pennsylvania Paranormal Society. I liked the fact that one of the founding members, John Herr, was retired military police. Within the day, I had a response from them. John thanked me for contacting them and asked me to call so we could discuss matters. After the call, a date was set up for their investigation and he told me there was no charge for their services. Their only goal was to obtain irrefutable proof of the afterlife.
On the evening of Saturday, August 1, 2009, John and Crystal drove up from the Williamsport area to conduct an investigation. As safety precautions, they requested our children and dog not be home. It was early evening and they asked to be shown around while it was still light outside. They walked our yard, including where our children’s play area was and a sight of previous paranormal activities. Unaware of the details of our experiences, including the fact that Harry’s ashes were spread in our backyard, Crystal, who prefers being called a sensitive versus a psychic, picked up her first impressions of the investigation. Her discomfort was palpable, but my husband and I didn’t feed into it. We moved into the house where John began taking baseline readings of ambient temperatures and electromagnetic fields. We were thoroughly impressed with how professional and scientific he was. In all honesty, while John was kind and empathetic to our concerns, he was completely neutral. As he explained to us, his job was to debunk or prove our experiences both scientifically and by recording the events through their investigation. It was an unspoken message of “We’ll believe it when we see it” thing.
My Gal Friday was with us since my husband was going in that night for overtime. There was no way in hell I was going to be home alone for the investigation or alone afterwards! Viv wasn’t scared at all. In fact, she was a total skeptic. She’d lost her older sister during her twenties to a rare type of cancer and Viv said that, if there was such a way to come back, then her sister would have done it because they had been so close. When they finished with baselines—and John had already had an unexplainable spike in Mackenzie’s room that left him scratching his head—I offered to go on a fast food run. My husband and I hadn’t eaten dinner yet and we were starving. John and Crystal declined anything and said that they would begin setting up their cameras and recorders while Viv and I were gone. My husband, a skeptic about psychics, took a seat on the sofa and watched as everyone went their separate ways.
When Viv and I returned with two value meals and her McFlurry, we found the house completely dark except for the full moon outside. We’d only been gone forty-five minutes, but it was evident the investigation was already in full swing. Once inside, my husband admonished us for taking so long. He was markedly upset. In fact, he sounded a lot like Scooby-Doo after he and Shaggy come into contact with their latest specter. Apparently, it only took the well-prepared ex-military cop ten minutes to set up five night vision cameras and two or three handheld digital recorders. As he began telling us that things began happening shortly after they went “lights out,” John and Crystal returned to the living room to join us. John was in an extremely jovial mood and told us that, since becoming a paranormal investigator, he’d never experienced a house come to life as quickly as he had with ours. There was no mistaking his professional excitement. Crystal, who had been very talkative earlier in the evening, wasn’t as chatty. The best story of their shared experiences came from my husband—whom seldom talks about the paranormal even though he’s had his share of experiences. Here’s what he told us:
He said that shortly after we left, John and Crystal began walking from room to room doing EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) sessions while he stayed glued to his seat on the sofa in the living room—in the dark. He could overhear John introducing himself and encouraging any spirits present to show themselves or speak to him or <gulp> touch him. By the time John walked into my oldest daughter’s bedroom and Crystal stood in the doorway of it, my husband’s skepticism over Crystal’s abilities was quickly obliterated. As I said, the moon was full and it spilled plenty of ambient light into our house. It was easy for him to see a dark shape emerge from our youngest daughter’s bedroom and come down the hallway to stop directly behind Crystal. Since she was standing in the doorway, my husband could only see her backside. Being critical, he didn’t say anything about what he was seeing. Not a word, gasp, or anything. His feeling was, if Crystal is a sensitive, then she should know something was behind her. That’s when Crystal exclaimed, “There’s something behind me right now!” She turned on her little flashlight and spun around to illuminate thin air. My husband said that was when his doubts about her abilities disappeared. The event completely unsettled him.
But that wasn’t the only event of the night. John had unexplained EMF spikes and he and Crystal had both heard noises they were confident would show up as EVP’s during the analysis. As they told Viv and me what we missed, we ate in the dark while clustered around the coffee table. What happened next, was the most unnerving experience for me up to that point since everything began. While kneeling on the floor and eating my Big Mac, John’s EMF spiked and held. He consulted the temperature gauge. It had dropped. Crystal became uneasy as she shifted in place across from me where she was kneeling. I was straining to hear or see something when my left foot went ice cold. It didn’t stop there. The sensation slowly moved up my leg. It was like being immersed in ice water. I was afraid to say anything. My husband and I had mocked folks on paranormal TV shows for complaining about a cold spot. We would always laugh and say something like, “Yes, it’s a nervous system reaction to fear. That’s your chill or cold spot, moron.” That moment changed my beliefs forever. Not long after the cold sensation hit my left side, I was touched. Three distinctive fingers stroked down my back between my shoulder blades. I say distinctive because it was impossible to call it anything else. I came unglued. That fight or flight reaction people talk about? My response was flight. I had to put my back to something so I could turn and face it. I felt completely vulnerable where I was. Somehow, after shouting a long expletive phrase, I got over/around/under the coffee table and planted my buns on the sofa between Viv and my husband. I have no recollection how I arrived there, but I do recall shaking like a leaf and almost hyperventilating. I had never been so afraid in my life. The unknown. Some unseen force in my house had touched me. Viv told me my reaction pretty much convinced her that something was going on inside our house. She’d never seen me freak out in such a way before. I hadn’t even realized I was shaking until she told me.
As the night went on, light anomalies were seen, John was unable to debunk any of our personal experiences we’d had prior to their visit, and other personal experiences happened. At 2:30am, John and Crystal THANKED US for inviting them into our home. He told us it would take at least a week to go through the many hours of footage, but he would get back to us as soon as he could with the analysis.
video

Instead of a week, I heard from John the following Monday. He called to ask me, what he called, a sensitive question. I had no idea where he was going. John asked me if my husband or I had lost a child. I told him no. He asked if I’d had a miscarriage. I told him no. He then explained that the camera set up inside my oldest daughter’s bedroom had picked up a very distinct EVP and he wanted to see if it had any relevance to our family. He was sending me an email with the sound bite as an attachment. While he wouldn’t give me details about what I was actually listening for, he did offer me two tips: for best listening, wear headphones and that the EVP came up shortly after he said, “I’m gonna show you something.” He left the rest up to us to decide on what we heard. A short while later, the email arrived and I did as instructed. The first time listening, I could hear the EVP just fine, but not enough to be able to discern what was being said. I listened a second time and knew, without a doubt, what words were spoken; “Mom, I love you.” An all too chilling revelation. Only, it bore no direct meaning to me other than to strike a chord with my maternal instincts because the voice was very childlike. The thought of a child spirit broke my heart. My husband came home from work and I played it for him without giving the content away. It took him until the third time to hear it. His reaction was similar to mine. It made us anxious to see what else HOPPS was able to pick up during their investigation.
The following week, HOPPS’ analysis packet arrived. Inside it was multiple DVD’s labeled with the room information of the camera placements. We took all of them to my parents’ house that evening since they have a ginormous big screen and digital surround sound. The first DVD was coverage from the living room camera. Although it showed multiple orbs, John is not one to jump on the orb band wagon. For him to even begin to consider it as an authentic orb, it has to meet the following criteria: self-illuminating, avoids obstacles or makes discernible changes in path, able to be photographed without aid of illumination. Otherwise, John chalks it up to dust, reflection, or even an insect. Nothing stood out and we only had time to watch the one disc. The following night, my parents viewed the disc without us. At 9:30pm, our phone rang. Caller ID said it was my parents. Right away I thought something was wrong. My parents always turn in early. Instead of delivering news of a health emergency, my mother said, “We’re watching the DVD from Mackenzie’s room and you won’t believe this shit!” She then went on to tell me how my father noticed it first. Halfway into the investigation, the camera begins to pan, very slowly from side to side, turning on its tripod. You can even hear it making a clicking noise. Now, I need to dispel the doubts from the skeptics reading this. The camera was set up at the rear wall of her room and pointing at the front of her room—where the door is—the only way to access her room. No one entered her room at any point during this phenomenon. In fact, when John and Crystal passed the doorway while doing another EVP session in another room, all activity with the camera came to a stop. And then started up again after they returned to the living room. Only, this time, the camera began moving up and down. Very chilling to see and hear when we went to their house the next day to watch it. I phoned John the following morning to tell him. He explained that, while doing video analysis, he will often have it on his computer with a split screen so he can watch multiple videos at the same time. It stood to reason the incident with the camera slipped by him since the movement was so slight. We also discussed the second video EVP they captured in which he asked, “Can you touch me?” and a female responds, “Yes.” He said there were other EVP’s picked up, but he was unable to make out what was being said. To be considered a true EVP, John will only report them if they are unquestionably clear.
video

Their investigation eased our fears. Nothing malicious was picked up. Crystal didn’t sense anything malevolent. If anything, they were able to reassure us that we could live in co-existence with whomever was residing in our house. They told us they were only a phone call or an email away if we needed further help. While they don’t perform house blessings or such, they could provide us with the proper people to do it through their massive network of professionals. We had one other visit by HOPPS the following year. John and Crystal returned with four other members of their team. They were eager to use it as a training session with the hopes of collecting more evidence and answering the question of who or even how many spirits were in our home. Overall, it was a great experience working with HOPPS and a longstanding friendship has formed with John. He and I keep in touch through Facebook since we share similar political views—and we both appreciate sarcasm as a second language.
One of our friendly orb photos in this family photo.

Over the years, my family and I have learned to coexist with the things that go bump in the night. Don’t get me wrong, when things happen, it is still disconcerting to experience, but we have come to accept it. We have no explanation for the spirit activity. Our initial experiences tied in with the original homeowners, but disappeared after having the house blessed and asking them to move on. What started happening around Easter 2009 cannot be explained. It has been suggested one of our family members is a psychic beacon and that spirits are drawn to them. I happen to believe this theory. It would explain the almost transient spirit feeling we get. It’s almost like they are passing through. The holidays usually bring on increased paranormal activity. Like John is fond of saying, “As we do in life, we do in death.” Holidays bring families together. We just have a very different extended family.
While this blog post is a very condensed version of our experiences, I hope it was enough to bring on a little Halloween chill for you. If you’ve had any ghostly experiences, jump on the comment section and share it with our Broads of a Feather readers. We’d love to hear about your paranormal experiences! Well, maybe not Robin so much. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Brief Interlude by Robin Janney

I can't say that I am all too happy with all the technology in my life.  I had my post all written up on the mobile app on my phone - I just wanted to come home and check it on the computer before I published.  Well, the app ate my post.  I can see where it's supposed to be, but it won't open no matter how many times I tap the screen.

I'll see if I can't recreate it.




My peers keep their distance
So that I stand alone
To face the coming winter
On my own

Naked and exposed
I raise my limbs to the sky
Offering all that I am
Though I am rotting away inside

I will stand firm
Rigid in my determination
As I have in years past
As I will for years to come

This is who I am
Who I was meant to be
Though the wind may blow
And the sky rain down



Not exactly how I had it written, but it will suffice.  I really didn't want to post much, because I didn't want to break the spell Carol had cast with her last spooky post.  I really don't like reading stories like hers, because I always start looking at the shadows cross-eyed.  But I read them anyway, with all the lights on.  It doesn't help that I include the supernatural/paranormal in my own writing...it sure does make it hard to sleep sometimes!

Speaking of, I've uploaded my Ring of Fire file to CreateSpace and Kindle Direct publishing...so it's not much longer and they'll be hitting the shelves.  So to speak.

Ok, I have to go turn some more lights on as I await for the second part of Carol's story...

Monday, October 6, 2014

Autumn and Things That Go Bump In the Night: PART ONE By: C.P. Stringham

Country roads, take me home.
Autumn is my favorite time of year.  Always has been since my earliest recollection. The changing of the leaves, fresh apple cider, fall recipes with anything pumpkin, and Halloween. Maybe it’s the little kid in me, but Halloween is still my favorite holiday. I love the TV specials from It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (from 1980 and starring Jeff Goldblum as Icabod Crane), and the more modern tale Hocus Pocus (especially the cameo role with brother and sister team Gary and Penny Marshall playing a bickering husband and wife). I’m forty-three and I still tune in when they broadcast the specials on TV. In fact, I even follow ABC Family’s 13 Nights of Halloween on Facebook so I can keep up with their programming schedule.
Love these Halloween Classics!!




As a child, we lived in a large mobile home park in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Hereford Estates had, easily, 150-plus trailers. Trick-or-treating there was incredible. My father would take my little brother and me out each year and, instead of plastic Jack O’ Lanterns, we used standard-size pillow cases to collect our candy loot while my mom stayed home to hand out candy. We would come home and dump everything out and sort through it. I would stack mine by like kinds and my brother and I would swap things out if one of us liked a particular candy more than another. I was never fond of Clark Bars and O’Henrys. He hated candy corn and Heath Bars. Mom permitted us to eat as much as we wanted on
Always nice to find treats inside my Charlie's Angels lunchbox!
Halloween night and then she would take the rest away from us. She would give us two pieces a day until it was gone. Often times, she’d put our two pieces in our lunch boxes. My school friends were always amazed at how long our candy supply lasted, so much so, that by fourth grade, my closest friends began spending Halloween night at my house so they could go trick-or-treating with me.

And this is sort of what my haul looked like only with full 
size candy bars! (Internet Photo)
Over the years, I have enjoyed all the tales and folklore that come along with the Halloween season. There’s something about that spine-tingling feeling one gets while hearing a particularly chilling story or from watching a scary movie. I’m not a fan of slasher movies. I’ve never watched any of the Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, or Michael Myers franchises. I prefer the supernatural stories the likes of The Amityville Horror, TheShining, and Poltergeist. I like when we are teased by the lead up as they stretch out a scary scene and the music works to elevate our pulse rates as it builds to a crescendo of suspense—try watching the original Psycho without the sound and you’ll see that the movie isn’t nearly as suspenseful. Hitchcock knew what he was doing. Over the top gore isn’t necessary. If a film has a thought-provoking and believable plot, with capable actors, and everything is paced just right, it’s what the viewer doesn’t see that can make the fear factor even worse. The best scares are achieved when the film makers allow their viewers the opportunity to let their own imaginations run wild. It plays off of our own fears. The Blair Witch Project (if you could get through the jerky handheld camera movements) had some great elements including this amazing back story that had moviegoers believing the film was based on true events. The website is still set up to look that way as seen here using this link. While it’s a film worth seeing, nothing will beat the experience of seeing it in a dark theater on the large screen.

Harry's too harmless to cause nightmares!
After admitting to getting enjoyment out of such tales, how ironic would it be to learn that my family and I live in an honest to goodness haunted house? We began having paranormal experiences shortly after moving in back in 1998. The family member most effected in the beginning was our oldest daughter. She would run screaming from her room, all of two years old, to tell my husband and me that “Harry” was in her room. We didn’t know of any Harrys. My only thought was that she was referring to Harry from the Harry the Dirty Dog book series she loved having me read to her. When I questioned her, she adamantly told me it wasn’t a dog but a man coming into her room at night. I shrugged it off as an active imagination. And then other little things began to happen. Noises, voices, and lights switching on by themselves. Little things.  

Our ranch-style house was built in the 1950’s. We bought it as a fixer-upper because, more than anything, it was extremely outdated and in need of lots of TLC, but that old adage about location, location, location is what really worked for us. A week after the closing, our contractor came in to build an addition, fix the wiring, install modern insulation, and replace the roof on both the house and garage. We also had a smaller list of things to do that involved replacing flooring, priming and painting walls and ceilings, and such. Most of these projects were completed by my husband, my father-in-law, and me. At one point, my husband’s nickname was Spackle Boy. In old houses, one uses lots and lots of spackle.  Our house has had three previous owners: Mr. and Mrs. Davis, Mr. and Mrs. Grondon, and Mr. Aloi. Since my husband was born and raised in the area, he knew the house’s history. None of the previous owners died in the house. Sounds like a silly fact to be concerned with, but we’re both superstitious. My husband had always referred to the original owners only as Mr. and Mrs. Davis while talking about them. It was a respect thing since they were both advanced in years. He fondly remembered them coming in to shop at the local grocery store he worked at as a high school student. He never once mentioned their first names and recalled that they were both on the short side.
Skip ahead to daughter number two who was born a year after moving in to our house. She was our ten to twelve-hour a night sleeper. An angel at bedtime. If I didn’t help her to bed by the time she was ready, she put herself to bed. One late summer night, all four members of our family turned in early after a pretty exhausting day. It was so early, that at 8:30, it was still reasonably light outside. Not long after our heads hit our pillows, we began hearing our youngest, age three at the time, over her baby monitor. She started by giggling uncontrollably. You know that giggle kids get when you are tickling them and they can barely catch their breath and laugh at the same time? Well, that’s what Mackenzie was doing. And then she began saying, “No. No. Stop it. No more.” Followed a few seconds later by, “Okay. Nite. Bye.” My husband and I sat up in bed and he said to me, “Who is she talking to?” Convinced someone was in our house, I left both him and our oldest in our bed and took off to check on Mackenzie. I opened her door, flipped on her light switch, and found her room empty except for her as she sat upright and blinking away from the harsh light. I asked her who she was talking to and she pulled her covers up and told me goodnight. I checked under her bed and in her closet before turning her light off and closing her door. I still wasn’t convinced it was nothing so I thoroughly searched the entire house. With living on a main road, we had installed slide locks on the tops of both the front and back door to prevent our children from opening them and wandering off if we were still sleeping. During my search, I found both locks slid in place, proving that no one had exited the house. The locks couldn’t be slid closed from the outside. The next morning, I relayed the story to my mom. She urged me to question Mackenzie using open-ended, non-leading questions. I did. What she told me scared the hell out of me. This was our conversation:
Me: Honey, you know when mommy came into your room last night? Who were you talking to before I came in?
Mackenzie: (as she played with her toys) Oh, you know. The little girl that is old and the little boy that is old.
Me: They were talking to you? About what?
Mackenzie: Stuff. They are mad at us.
Me: (I think I began perspiring at this point) Why are they mad at us?
Mackenzie: (she shrugs) They said we broke their house.
As I mentioned, we built an addition on our house. This involved tearing out the kitchen/exterior wall, a portion of the back porch, and a nice spring bulb garden with hyacinths, daffodils, and tulips. We saved what we could, but they were in small batches everywhere. And then, our most recent project came that particular summer—replacing our septic system. It entailed having to move it to a new area on the property in order to accommodate a costly sand mound system with its septic tank, pumping tank, and sand leach mound. Basically, when the gentleman from the county came in and told us where to put it, we really had no choice. You do it because you want to be able to enjoy those simple modern conveniences again since the alternative sucks. After it was finished, my husband began the chore of getting the surface ready for grass seed. My husband is obsessed with our yard. As we were picking rocks from the dirt, our next door neighbor came over to offer us his dragging tool to make quick work of the rocks. Before leaving us to get it, he said, “It’s kind of ironic they made you put your septic system here. This is where Harry and Phyllis had their vegetable garden. They loved their garden. In fact, when he died, that’s where he wanted his ashes spread.” As Joe walked away from us, my husband and I stood there, rooted in place, with our mouths gaping open, as this latest news registered. Harry. Ashes. Garden. Septic System. I asked my husband how he could forget that Mr. Davis’ first name was Harry. He reminded me that he was a kid and taught to address adults by their last names. It was an honest omission on his part—especially since he has the world’s worst memory.
Getting back to my conversation with Mackenzie:
Me: Was last night your first time talking to them?
Mackenzie: No.
Me: (gulp) How many times?
Mackenzie: (as she starts getting aggravated with me) A lot.
Me: What else do they talk about?
Mackenzie: Stuff. They play with me.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! Everything started coming together. Sydney’s nightly visits from Harry. Mackenzie’s conversation with “the little girl that is old and the little boy that is old.” The Davis’ were on the shorter side—unlike our family. To a child like her who is used to looking way up to everyone, her visitors would be just as she described them. I called my mother and told her. That’s when she told me about the strange experiences she’d had at our house while babysitting. Experiences that our dog, Star, reacted to with initial curiosity and then fear. My mother confessed to me that our house freaked her out from the moment we purchased it.
We had the house blessed. I wish I had this suspenseful story to share with you about some strange event that happened while it was being blessed, but I have nothing. Nothing out of the ordinary took place. Prayers were recited, Holy water squirted, and nothing. Six years passed and all was well. My oldest had even returned to sleeping in her own room. No more weird visits, no voices from thin air, nothing. It was great. The lightness we felt was unimaginable unless you've had a similar experience to understand.
And, then, Easter Sunday 2009 came. Around 2am, my husband and I found ourselves awake at the same time. Disoriented. He asked me if I had heard something and I, honestly, told him I didn’t know why I was awake. That’s when we heard it. Something was moving a thick plastic bag. The crumpling noise was quite loud. It only lasted a few seconds. Silence and then it happened again. We listened to it happen a handful of times. My husband got up and switched on a light to investigate. I told him it was probably a mouse and he cursed our two lazy cats for not doing their jobs. We decided the noise was coming from my side of the room and he made his way around. The bag turned out to be a refill package for baby wipes. It was sealed with nothing able to get inside it. He moved it and I watched to see if I saw a rodent scamper off to hide, but nothing presented itself. Chalking it up to the package “settling,” he turned off the light and returned to bed. The noise started again. And again. And again. He repeated his earlier actions only, this time, he put the package on top of my dresser. Take that, Mr. Mouse! He climbed into bed again. Not even two minutes pass when the noise happens again. He decides to turn on his bedside light and watch. He witnessed the plastic move--I heard it. But that’s not the worst of our experience. While waiting for it to happen, we could hear the distinct sound of feet shuffling along on our thick carpet. Step, drag, step. Step, drag, step. On my side of the bed. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe!! That night, we knew our reprieve was over.
A few days later, I was home watching television and talking on the phone with our elementary school’s secretary when something in the hallway caught my eye. At first, I figured it was nothing and went back to my conversation. There was no mistaking it the second time I saw it. A full size human shadow was cast along the hallway wall and making its way towards the living room. Where I sat. I told the secretary what I was seeing. I didn’t care how crazy she thought I was because I had to tell someone. She explained to me the experience she and her husband had at their former house. Still feeling like I imagined it, I refrained from telling my husband or anyone else about the event. The next day, my husband and I were watching TV when I saw him look in the hallway and react to something. I asked him what was wrong. He told me nothing. Five minutes later, he exclaimed, “I knew it!” I shocked him when I said, “You saw the shadow, didn’t you?” The two of us discussed our experiences. We then proceeded to try and figure out what could be causing this “illusion.” Was it a reflection? Did it happen when cars were going by the house? Was it one of our pets casting a weird shadow from a distance away? We did everything we could think of to prove it was something commonplace causing the effect. We were unsuccessful.
A few days later, I received this email from one of Mackenzie’s teachers:

Sent: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 8:21:44 AM
Subject: Kenzie

Carol,
I wanted to let you know that Mackenzie has mentioned a couple of times about having a feeling that someone or something is watching her while she sleeps at night.  She had mentioned it to me prior to Easter and to Mrs. A***** yesterday.  I did not comment on the matter, but I wanted to let you know what she had mentioned.
C****

My response (in part):

Sent: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 9:38 AM
To: ***** ******
Subject: Re: Kenzie

…Kenz has a bunk bed and, for months, put up blankets around her bed to act as curtains.  She said it was to stay warm.  I made her take them down a month ago.  It's all making sense now that you say she's been talking about someone watching her.  It seems to almost coincide with when things began happening around here again.  We've tried to not talk about things in front of her, but when she's involved with some of the stuff going on, it's hard not to especially after you read my e-mail to J***.  Kenz is sort of a main character.  I guess I'll let her put her curtains back up…found her asleep on the sofa with her blankets up over her head this morning…

Her response:

Sent: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 12:54:50 PM
Subject: RE: Kenzie

Carol,
I remember you had told me about the ghost when it happened before.  I am sorry that I did not tell you prior to Easter.  I just got so busy working on progress monitoring it slipped my mind.  Have you had a chance to bless the house again?  Is it better?  I will let you know if Kenzie says anything about it again.
C****


So, yeah, that was going on, too. I’ll finish up this tale in my next blog post the week of October 20th. It includes real life ghost hunters, Scooby Doo, and a Big Mac.

Check in for Autumn and Things That Go Bump In the Night: PART TWO in two weeks. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Better Late Than Never - By Robin Janney

And then there is that moment, when you look at the blog schedule and realize..."Oh yeah, it was my week to post something!" and the week is almost over.

I'm usually all on top of that kind of stuff, but even my mother's birthday snuck up on me this year and that's been the same date since before I was born!

Of course, with the pressure on...my mind is completely blank.  But apparently it's been on the blank side all week!

The road goes ever on and on,
down from the door where it began....
But, my trip to my mother's last night gave me a bit of inspiration.  Another thing I have in common with my writing cohort, is photography.  Although I am nowhere near Carol's caliber, I love taking pictures!  My hands are so shaky any more, I'm lucky to get whatever good shots I can.

Lucky shot
With the invention of the digital camera, especially in camera phones, it's a lot easier to take pictures and have them 'developed' than it used to be.  All a girl has to do it point her phone at some pretty fall leaves, click and then upload to Facebook.  Well, if she's on Wi-Fi - it doesn't eat data up that way.

I have two tricks to get good pictures with my cellphone.  One of the things I love about my new cellphone is how quickly it can take pictures.  I can take several in rapid succession; which gives me some great Google AutoAwesome pictures by the way.  So one of my methods is to take several shots all at once and hope one of them is good enough to upload and share.  Sometimes I get lucky with a single shot, if I'm careful to keep my hands halfway steady.

The view out my back door...
The second trick is to use the video setting on the phone and then watch it, pausing at the spots I want and take a screen shot.  That was how I was able to get pictures from out my back door.  I just swept my phone slowly along the ridge, then snapped some screen shots.

I still have to look up to get the view, but it's worth it!
I learned the video trick from one of my husband's relatives while at a family reunion.  It was a large reunion, and there were a lot of people there and I don't even remember this teen's name.  He had commented on my iPhone's  casing, which was 'custom made' as it was pieces from two different sets.

It's a good time of year to be snapping pictures anyway.  Not that there is ever a bad time.  But with the fall colors creeping in, far too quickly, the mountains and the country roads are breathtaking.  So much color here.  I probably have scores of pictures of fall foliage, both in Facebook albums and in physical photographs.

My Jaclyn
I also like to take pictures of my animals.  I wish that camera's on cellphones were more common when my Little Bear was still alive.  I would have so many more pictures of her!  She was a special dog, and I credit her with saving my life during a very dark time in my life.  But that's okay.  It's not just my own animals I'll snap pictures of.  I have no problem snapping pictures of my mother's animals too.

Mother's cat - Fuchsias
My brother's dog Buddy, who is more mother's dog...
Mother's cat is a bit spoiled.  He was named by her one grandson and so his name is a bit different.  Think the color Fuchsia and pluralize it.  We're not sure where he came up with that name, or what it meant in his young head.  But it stuck, even though the cat is clearly yellow and not pink!  And he was male before mother took him to the vet.  And he is most definitely Mother's cat.  He doesn't like her grandsons' playing with him, and will tolerate us other grownups petting him.  He'll curl right up on Mom's lap though and sleep with her through most nights.

I'm not sure what to tell you about poor Buddy.  He was brought home by my youngest brother as a pup (look Mom, can I keep him?), who then later moved out and left the purebred coon dog with mother.  He'll run away looking for his master, even though he loves Mother and is clearly her dog as much as the cat.

Believe it or not, there is a deer in the picture...
All the way down where the sunshine is...
Honest...
As I was leaving my mother's last night, I had my phone's camera open and ready in case my suspicions were correct:  when I walked down to get mother's mail and newspaper, I took my phone with me to grab some fall shots; when I lowered it, I happened to see movement in the distance - a deer crossing the road.  So when I left a little bit later, I was hoping it would still be there when I drove by.  And was I ever right...and then some!  I got a few stills, but then decided that wasn't good enough and switched to video.  They cooperated for longer than I thought they would.




And last but not least, I managed to snag some pretty cool sunset pictures as well.  I'll leave you on that note, hoping you've enjoyed a slice of my life in pics.

a bit of heavenly fire

or heaven's gold, if you prefer

AutoAwesome rocks...