Happy Halloween

Thanksgiving is truly my favorite holiday. Though I abstain from eating any meat or poultry, I love gathering together with so many loved ones and sharing such a wide array of vegetables: turnip, squash, pumpkin pie and green bean casserole are some of my favorites. But Halloween is a pretty close second.

I’m turning 50 in a few weeks but, if you turned those numbers around “05”, 5 years old is about how old I act when it comes to “dressing up” for the occasion. I have never outgrown it. No, I don’t go trick-or-treating–or mumming and guising, as it was originally called–but I like to make people laugh. Or, at the very least, smile. And, no matter what costume I decide on, it usually does elicit an upturn of lips wherever I go. To me, that’s reason enough to indulge that inner child.

Halloween tends to be a bit controversial within the Christian community. All Hallows’ Evening (Halloween is a contraction for this holiday), is said to be the time when the veil between the Otherworld and this one is particularly thin and the souls of the dearly departed are free to roam the earth–and, potentially, to right their wrongs. This, of course, has its roots in Gaelic traditions. The night of Samhain (pronounced SOW-en) marks the end of the harvest season, when spirits–or fairies–enter this world and must be appeased to ensure that people and livestock survive the long winter ahead. Earlier generations would invoke God’s protection upon approaching their dwellings, and guising–or the donning of a costume–was done to disguise oneself from the Fae Folk. The carrying of a Jack-o’-lantern by guisers was to protect one from any evil spirits lurking about. And, interestingly, the Jack-o’-lantern was originally either a turnip or a mangel wurzel (a type of beet). When early settlers to the Americas arrived, they adopted the native fruit–the pumpkin. Within the Roman Catholic Church, All Hallows’ Evening is part of the triduum of Allhallowtide, a time set aside for honoring the saints and praying for the souls of those dearly departed as they journey from Purgatory to Heaven. In many countries, All Hallows’ Evening celebrations also include a church service and the lighting of candles upon the graves of departed loved ones. However, as many Protestant religions do not believe in Purgatory, this practice, or belief, goes against their notions of predestination. Hence, some of the controversy surrounding this holiday.

For myself, the only “controversy” I feel about any holiday is the commercialization of it. Big box department stores have been lining their shelves for weeks with costumes and accessories, many of which will wind up in landfills after tonight. I’d hate to think I had so little gumption as to buy a costume. I’d rather give the creative genius a little room to spread her wings. Albeit, as I type this, I will confess to purchasing some rather toxic make-up to enhance today’s disguise. If anyone has a safe, less-toxic means of creating green face paint, I would greatly appreciate it for next time.

In the meantime, I am looking forward to seeing the smiles, and receiving a few chuckles, as I don this year’s ensemble. And I will continue to tell myself that the smiles and laughter are a tribute to that creativity and not the result of everyone thinking, “Look at that old fool!” Eh, you’re only as young as you feel…and I won’t say “No!” to a bit of soul cake* either!

May God bless you and keep you!

*Soul cakes were given during the Middle Ages to children and the poor when they came knocking during mumming and guising. They were cakes made with allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, raisins and/or currants and topped with a cross to signify their giving as alms. Homemade with organic ingredients they must’ve been much healthier than our sugar-laced commercial treats (albeit, I won’t say “No!” to a Kit Kat either…and hang the IBS! LOL!)

**Information retrieved from http://www.wikipedia.com for educational purposes only.

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Wednesday’s Weed Walk: Belladonna

Do NOT try this at home, kids! I repeat, DO NOT TRY THIS at home, in the office, in the car on the way to the office, in school, church, the local gym or even the grocery store. Today’s post is strictly for educational and entertainment purposes ONLY! And because this is also the last “weed walk” before Halloween/Samhain, writing a blog post about an herb whose other common names include: Banewort, Devil’s Berries, Naughty Man’s Cherries, Death Cherries, Beautiful Death and Devil’s Herb (Wikipedia), seemed appropriate for the occasion.

I am talking about Atropa belladonna, more commonly known as either Belladonna or Deadly Nightshade. This is one of the most deadly plants one can have in their garden as it’s attractive fruits entice the palette–especially that of children’s–yet it takes only 2-3 of those plump, sweet berries to prove lethal for a child. Adults are not immune either though it takes about 10 of those berries to prove lethal for us; lower doses are said to incite hallucinations and, as such, it has a history of abuse as a recreational “drug” but it has some very unpredictable side effects so, again, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! Or anywhere else. And I don’t care how redundant I’m being. This is one of those you can never be too cautious about.

Interestingly, Belladonna also has a history of medicinal uses. Many of the hypnotic properties in this plant also deaden pain and it is used even today in many modern pain relievers. Modern pharmaceuticals have found a way to isolate these painkilling properties to produce Orthodox medicines for treating ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, diarrhea, peptic ulcers, chronic bronchitis, asthma and vertigo, among others. Deadly nightshade/Belladonna contains an anticholinergic agent that blocks the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the central and peripheral nervous systems (Wikipedia), systems that control the parasympathetic nerve impulses. Your parasympathetic nerves control those involuntary movements of the smooth muscles, those that control the gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract, your heart, your lungs and many other parts of the body. These are muscles that expand and contract, or function, without any conscious thought on our part. These nerves, we could say, work “behind the scenes” in our bodies, helping us to breathe, digest food and eliminate waste. Which would be one of the reasons this plant is so deadly as too much would likely shutdown these automated systems so we’ll leave this one to the pros…and, perhaps, to the memories of the wise women and cunning men of old.

Of course, in the days of cunning men and wise women–the true crones of old, who were often regarded as witches for their uncanny knowledge of the herbs–Belladonna was more commonly used as an anesthetic to relax, or deaden, the body for surgery, or for the making of poison-tipped arrows for men of war. That it was effective in the latter, and these early surgeries were often unsuccessful, hence, I shall throw another word of caution in here. This is definitely not a “simple” you want to brew in your home-grown apothecary.

However, it is an attractive plant and I know of many who do keep some in the garden for aesthetic purposes. It can grow up to 6’6″ tall with 7″ long, ovate leaves and lovely bell-shaped flowers that are a dull purple in color with just a hint of green and, when ripe, shiny black berries. Bees often make honey from the nectar of the flower. Wild birds and animals often eat the berries, despite their toxicity, dispersing the seeds in their droppings but this plant has proven toxic to many domesticated animals, as well as humans, so this homesteader-in-the-making would rather admire it from afar rather than in the garden.

The name “Belladonna” is Italian for “pretty woman”. In addition to its earlier uses as a medicine, and poison, it was also used by ladies as a cosmetic. A tincture of Belladonna dropped into the eyes will give them a seductive appearance, an appearance that was much favored by earlier women. However, it also distorts the vision, creating a near-sightedness that inhibits one’s ability to focus on things close-at-hand; it also increases the heart rate and, over prolonged periods of time, causes blindness (Wikipedia).

As a quick aside, I am citing Wikipedia throughout and I know this free, online encyclopedia is definitely NOT approved as an appropriate reference academically or professionally but there were enough citations attached to this listing that I decided to use it anyway. As an herbalist, though I would never consider working with such a toxic plant, it is one that I have learned about in various herb classes for safety and educational purposes–enough to know this Wikipedia listing is accurate enough to instill a big WARNING sign over anyone’s intentions to throw caution into the wind on this one. Because it is so deadly, few, if any, of my herbals lists it as a curative. For the sake of this posting, I am more interested in sharing some of the folklore I found about it, folklore that I do have in some home herbals about their magickal uses.

Coming back to some of those hallucinogenic properties, many the wise woman and cunning man was reputed to use Belladonna to “fly”. A common mixture was of Belladonna, the opium poppy, monkshood and/or poison hemlock. What I found was that this combination (and I shudder to think of what sort of “trips” these herbs combined created…)(Again and again, don’t try this at home…) was used in an ointment so, my guess is, as my sources do not give detail, that it was absorbed through the skin–our largest organ. Having had some lightheaded experiences working in the “High” bed in the Herb Garden at Old Sturbridge Village, I can testify that the absorption of potentially toxic, or lethal, plant matter can be quite potent, indeed. In my case, it was Lily of the Valley that had me reeling a bit.

But I digress…

In his excellent book, Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Scott Cunningham also alludes to this ancient practice of using Belladonna “to encourage astral protection and to produce visions, but safer alternatives are available today and belladonna is best avoided’ (53).

May God bless you & keep you!

Works Cited

Atropa belladonna. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web.
Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atropa_belladonna. 26 October 2016.

Cunningham, Scott. Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Second Edition. Llewellyn Publications, Minnesota: 1985.

Violet?

As we wind down towards the end of October and one of my favorite holidays of the year: Halloween, or Samhain (pronounced SOW-en), almost all of the hauntings I have related thus far, occurred between 2001-2002 when Dan and I first purchased this property. After awhile, they seemed to die down unless some major changes were happening here (i.e. our divorce; renovations; roommates, etc.). Albeit, one can still hear voices whispering late at night if you’re awake into the wee hours of morning and, occasionally, a push pin or two will drop seemingly out of nowhere. But, overall, it is pretty quiet now.

However, a question I often get asked is, “Have I seen any ghosts?”

To that, I have to say, “Maybe.”

And this ambiguous answer stems from some small part of me not wanting to own up to this “visit”, a bit fearful that someone really might send the men in white coats to my doorstep.

Another weekend morning I was lying in bed, awake, but indulging in not having to get up early. The property wasn’t a homestead-in-the-makings then so no livestock to feed and water. And, as it was still fairly early, I was confident the dogs would be okay for a few more moments while I gave in to a bit of laziness. I don’t remember what I was thinking or daydreaming about, or even for how long, but I started to feel distracted. At the opposite end of the hallway from the master bedroom was/is another small bedroom that Dan used as a computer room/office space. I thought I heard someone moving around there but it didn’t really worry me because Dan spent his early weekend mornings playing video games, such as “Tomb Raider” on the PC. I glanced down the hall but, while the computer was turned on, Dan was not sitting at it. I saw shadows moving on the wall behind the PC but, as the shelves where Dan kept his video games (this was an old, 1998 Sony desktop model–a dinosaur today) were on the opposite side of the room, again, I wasn’t worried. I simply assumed he was searching for whatever game he was in the mood for that morning.

I snuggled back down into the pillow and contented myself with scratching the chin of one of the resident felines, smiling at the rumbling effect. Until the opening of a can of cat food downstairs and Dan’s, “Kitty, kitty, kitty” sent said feline racing downstairs for breakfast.

Wait a minute…

If Dan was downstairs, then who was moving around down the hall?

I glanced up and noticed the shadows moving on the wall again. Traffic from Route 6? I was about to laugh at myself for being so spooky when one of those shadows took shape.

Standing behind the computer desk’s chair stood an older woman, rather thin and transparent–I could still see the desk and PC behind her but I could also see her. She wore dark clothing: full skirts, dark veiling behind her head (a widow or someone in mourning?), dark gloves, and a cameo broach. Gray (or maybe blondish) hair was pulled up in a bun on her head; her eyes were dark. She stared at me a moment, said, “I’m Violet” and then walked into the wall. I can tell you I made it downstairs to the kitchen in record time.

“Oh my God! (Yes, I was shaken up enough even to taking His name in vain, something I usually refrain from doing) You are never going to believe this.”

Dan’s response was that, “In this house, I’d believe anything.”

By this point, cats “escaping”, scavenger hunts, and VHS fascinations had already transpired so this was just another haunting in a long list of them. By this point, it was becoming old hat. And, while I can still see her face and hear her introduction of herself, despite all of the other occurrences, I still doubt my senses, wondering if during my daydreams and ruminations, I didn’t conjure her myself. I mean, what are the chances?

That’s what I kept telling myself. Until Mom arrived in September 2014. I received a very sarcastic “Thank you” after she was moved in and then I began telling her about some of these hauntings. As she was a new occupant, I worried that maybe things would stir up again here. However, for the first month or so, it was business as usual.

One night Mom couldn’t sleep. As she made her way downstairs to the bathroom, she happened to glance down the hall to that same computer room–now my bedroom (Mom is in the master bedroom)–and saw a woman standing in the doorway. A woman in dark clothing: full skirts, dark veiling and gloves, a cameo broach at her throat and her hair in a bun. Mom said she nearly screamed but found it wouldn’t come. It was then she remembered my description of “Violet” and, though still shaken, ran downstairs to the bathroom where she waited, long after her business was completed, before climbing back upstairs. She says she glanced back down the hall when she reached her bedroom door but Violet had disappeared. Later, she confessed to worrying that I might think she was crazy–or dreaming but I’ve seen dead people, too.

As I have records going back only to the late-1970’s of former occupants here, with her full skirts, I have never expected to find Violet’s name in these more current records; more likely, she may have been an occupant during the years when this house was first built, around 1911. I like not thinking she may have been one of many lost souls who met her Maker under a chartered oak. As she has never done more than stare at us, I prefer to think of her as someone’s old-fashioned granny watching over us in sleep, someone who may have died peacefully in her sleep many generations ago. At the very least, perhaps she was convicted of a more minor crime. As I’d rather not find that she was an ax-murderer in 1874 or some such year, I’ve neglected any further research and prefer to stick to the grandmotherly figure; it makes sleep a bit more easy, if you get my meaning.

And, yes, after each haunting, after each incident, I always pray for their souls and bid them to “Go to the Light!”

May God bless you & keep you!

Haunted Movie Night

I’m going to date myself a little bit but there was a time when all of my movie collection was on VHS tapes. When Dan and I first bought this home, that’s what we had. I lined them up on a bookshelf in alphabetical order (I have stated before that I’m OCD, right?) near the entertainment center for easy access…and the site for another unexplained incident.

VHS tapes, for those who may be unfamiliar with them, came in two different types of protection. Some had a hard-shell case that snapped open and shut to protect the tape from damage. The other was a cardboard “sleeve” that slid over the tape. The majority of our movie collection had the latter type.

It started out innocent enough. I found a couple of sleeves pulled up to reveal the bottom inch or so of tape. I pushed the sleeve back down. A few days’ later, I found a few more sleeves pulled up. This kept happening over the course of a few weeks, with more and more sleeves pulled up until it seemed a regular pattern was developing where one sleeve would be pulled up; two were down; one was up; three were down, and so on and so forth. I pushed them back down only to come back a day or two later to find them up again. I started getting irritated and suspected Dan was pulling them up but I couldn’t figure out why. Was this a practical joke? But, no sooner did I push the sleeves down again, I’d forget about them until the next time, so I never thought to ask him.

Until one afternoon, we were both in the living room together and I looked over to find the sleeves all up in that crazy every-two/every-three pattern.

I huffed out a breath of impatience and asked, “Why do you keep doing this?”

“What?”

“Pulling up every second or third video sleeve. I keep pushing them back down. Why do you keep pulling them back up again?”

“Dammit! I finally left them alone because I thought you were doing it and I was afraid if I kept pushing them back down again, I’d finally catch hell for changing it.”

He wasn’t angry. Just resigned to his fate.

“Why would I pull them up like this?”

“I don’t know. I thought maybe it was something you saw in ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ or something.”

So Dan wasn’t pulling them up either. I walked over to the shelf and pushed the covers all back down, flush with the shelf. It was then that each of us started sharing some of the strange things we’d been noticing around the house, things we each thought we were nuts to consider and afraid to share with the other. We did have a penchant for “Haunted History” and “Haunted Travel” (or whatever the shows were called on The History Channel and The Travel Channel, respectively; it has been a while since I’ve watched either); perhaps our imaginations were running wild. As we talked, I think we both felt a sense of relief to be finally sharing these phenomena–if, indeed, that’s what it was.

Dan got up and went into the kitchen, both of us still talking, and got a drink out of the refrigerator. Rather than yell through the house, after a glance back at the shelves, where all of the cardboard covers still lay flush against the shelf where I had straightened them, I got up and followed him into the kitchen. Our conversation continued as I made myself a cup of tea.

When we returned to the living room, maybe fifteen to twenty minutes later, we both glanced over at the shelf of videotapes. They were all back up, every two/every three, marching across the shelves.

May God bless you & keep you!

Odds and Ends…and Apologies

First, the apology. For being “absent” for the last two days and sporadically posting this past week in general. A recent resignation by our Titles’ Clerk at the dealership, just days before our supervisor’s week-long vacation, has provided some much-needed extra hours (and pay!) to keep things running, well, maybe not “smoothly” but certainly running…period. And I am happy to pitch in and help. But it’s certainly thrown a curve ball into my daily routine. I’ve even fallen off of the wagon, so to speak, with my 3:30 a.m. rising time; the longer days requiring some extra ZZZ’s to stay on top of things. However, this morning I awakened at exactly 3:44 a.m., which isn’t bad considering I forgot to set my alarm last night, so maybe this is a sign we’re getting back in the groove again–a good groove. My apologies for allowing myself to fall out of that groove in the first place. While this is a free blog, there is an old saying that “paying customers deserve prompt and regular service”; my regular readers deserve regular posts to keep reading.

Anywho, now that I’m back–albeit, my work schedule is still fuller than usual for the rest of this week–some updates on the homestead.

I hate making these reports. I lost one of my Plymouth Barred-Rock chickens Saturday evening. My Patience started looking “off” a few days’ before, back roached, stomach distended. One of my other chickens started pecking at her–not brutally, more like a nudge to say, “Hey, are you okay?” but I decided to bring her indoors, lest, some of the more aggressive birds decide to have a real go at her. After checking to be certain she wasn’t egg bound, I heated some olive oil in a sauce pan, added a tablespoon of minced garlic, and let it simmer for a while. After it cooled, I filled an eyedropper and gave it to her. Garlic is a fine antibiotic as well as being good for expelling worms, and chickens fairly love it. I added a bit more of the dried, minced garlic to her feed, along with some fennel (good for digestion) and dried parsley, which is also good for worms. Parsley has the added benefit of being good for constipation and obstructions of the intestinal tract (De Bairacli Levy 118-119). She balked at these treatments at first but, over time, I would say she at least resigned herself to them. I even gave her an olive oil enema because she was not passing her waste but it was to no avail. I found her when I came home from work Saturday night. Patience was one of my older hens but, losing beloved pets, is something you never quite get “used to”. Albeit, I have noticed a certain thicker skin happening where my chickens are concerned. Despite a healthy, varied diet, plenty of room to stretch their legs, dust baths, and good, clean housing, they tend to go down rather quickly and, sometimes, unexpectedly. They can be quite stoic, not displaying any symptoms of illness or even injury until those final moments. They are also pretty high on the food chain and predation can also be a problem. However, I never considered, when I first took up homesteading, how many times I would also adopt the role of “gravedigger”. I know that nobody–human or humane–lives forever but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier–and I hope it never does become “easy”; that’s when I quit.

Today would have been my paternal grandfather’s birthday. He would have been 111 years old so not likely I would still have him in my life even if alcoholism hadn’t ended his time here on earth at only 68 years’ old, but I always mark this day as special, remembering him and the legacy he left behind. Calef Burbank (and that’s pronounced with a long A: KAY-lef) wrote for the Providence Journal for 40 years as an investigative reporter. He was even nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for his writing. Some of my earliest memories of him are watching him bang away at the old manual typewriter and emulating him. I loved that old typewriter and, though I prefer the speed at which my fingers can fly over this modern PC keyboard–a speed that can keep pace better with my thoughts–there will always be a nostalgic love for the manuals. In addition to his writing, he was a gifted pianist, guitarist, taught me to play chess at the tender age of 3, enjoyed learning, bird watching, and ginger snap cookies. I can say “ditto for me” with the exception of piano playing. He tried teaching me as a little girl but I was too impatient, preferring to bang away with wild abandon and a lot of discord; he finally gave up on me. Today, I wish I’d absorbed those teachings as readily as I did the chessboard.

Lastly, I spent an hour yesterday morning building four more raised beds for the herb garden. I am hoping this wonderful Indian summer lasts long enough to build a few more before the cold creeps back in. With a little luck–and a lot of hard work–next summer may be the first of many physical “weed” walks. Keep your fingers crossed!

May God bless you & keep you!

Works Cited

De Bairacli Levy, Juliette. The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Farm and Stable, Fourth Edition. Faber and Faber, New York: 1991.

The Right Tools

Yesterday saw me being warmed the first time by the wood for the woodstove. For those of you unfamiliar with the old saying, when you heat your home with wood, that wood warms you twice. Once during the splitting and stacking, the second in the woodstove or hearth. Albeit, this is wood for next year’s heat but I worked up a sweat nonetheless. Primarily because these logs are too thick for the splitter and need to be cut down into more manageable pieces; the little hand saw I have is too small for the job. But I am stubborn woman. I was determined to get some wood cut. So I sawed away and, while the back and wrists screamed abuse at me, I also managed to create at least a small pile of wood that’s just the right size for the stove. When I look at that pile, I wonder how much more effective I would have been with the right tools, how much more progress I would have made.

Living with alcoholism–someone else’s, not my own–is much the same. I was a child growing up with a stepfather who drank heavily and remember my mother cajoling and threatening him to stop drinking. You’d think I had learned a valuable lesson watching all of this but, years later, I found myself in a relationship with an alcoholic and guess what? I cajoled and threatened him repeatedly to stop drinking. I even stayed in the relationship longer than necessary out of that sheer stubbornness–even when the relationship turned abusive. No, he never beat me; he threatened to. But it was enough…along with the verbal and mental abuse that leaves more permanent and painful scars than any physical abuse ever could. I used the wrong tools. And, though there were periods of sobriety and a glimpse at the beautiful person lost in this dis-ease, how much more effective would that campaign have been had I used the proper tools?

Proper tools? “Tools” such as faith; such as “Letting Go And Letting God”; such as detaching with love; such as minding my own business and taking care of myself, despite his drunken escapades. In short, working my Al-Anon program. Instead, every time he opened a can of beer or a bottle of something stronger, I waited and watched, making myself scarce until he nodded off from the effects. Then I did the chores I needed to finish before bed–a bedtime that came much too late for such an early rising time. Doing them while he was awake and alert might’ve incurred some harsh criticism from him; how I did my work was never good enough. And I was liable to take exception and give in to the jabs, to take hold of the bait for another argument. As I went through these nightly routines, I did so on tiptoes, afraid to awaken him. The same result would have happened; we would end up fighting. Sometimes I even went so far as to open a few cans while he slept and poured them down the drain. Did I really think that would stop him if he believed he’d drank 10 cans instead of 6 or 8? Did he really care about the number of cans or the amount of whiskey still left in the bottle? Was he fooled by my pitiful manipulations? Not in the least. He knew exactly how many beers/how much whiskey he’d consumed before he nodded off. We fought anyway. I tried to control him as he often controlled me. I tried to change him, to force my hand. The right “tool” would’ve been to change myself. I eventually did. The relationship ended. And he’s still drinking heavily, night after night.

I’ve learned some valuable lessons about having the right “tools”. While my cajoles and threats might have resulted in a few, brief periods of sobriety in this alcoholic–much like my stubborn insistence to cut wood with a saw too small for the size of the wood, resulted in a small pile of heat source–they did not effect the change that would’ve meant “success” for me. Instead, the alcoholic drank more and the fighting grew worse. This dis-ease is too great for mere stubbornness and manipulation to conquer, just like those enormous trunks of wood are too great to split and stack with a mere hand saw and an aging back. But, unlike the former situation, I can purchase a bigger saw, a better tool–the right tool–and get exactly the result I crave…and my back will thank me for it. Had I used the right tools with the alcoholic, and given the situation to the God of my consciousness, who knows what miracles might have taken place?

May God bless you & keep you!

Haunted Scavenger Hunt

There was an afternoon, shortly after Dan & I purchased this property, that Dan came home from work, having just cashed his paycheck, and placed $300.00 in an empty sugar bowl that was on the kitchen table. This was mortgage money and he did not want to carry it on him while he ran some errands. So he put it in the sugar bowl, placing the lid over the bowl, for safe keeping until he returned.

A short while later, Dan returned from his errands. He had one more. That was to make a deposit of the cash he’d placed in the sugar bowl. He walked in the house, walked over to the kitchen table and lifted the lid on the sugar bowl. It was empty! What the –?

Of course, anyone’s reaction would initially be panic. The table sat in front of a large picture window. Did someone see him “hiding” the money through that window? His first reaction was that we’d been robbed…even though the doors were locked and none of the windows showed signs of having been jimmied open. Eh, we’re not living in Mayberry anymore; crooks are getting craftier by the minute. But before Dan could call the police to report it, Woody, our gray tabby, came running around the corner with a $20 bill in his mouth. Phew! Relax. Breathe. The cats were simply into mischief…

and somehow managed to take the lid off of a sugar bowl, remove fifteen $20 dollar bills, and place the lid back on the sugar bowl as snugly as Dan had initially left it? Somehow, Dan just couldn’t wrap his mind around this one but there wasn’t any other answer. Thus, began his scavenger hunt for the other fourteen $20 bills.

The first few that he found fit the story of the kitties being responsible. Two or three were wadded up and “rolled” under the couch, a chair, even the bed upstairs. However, the rest were inexplicable–unless you have a few restless ghosts roaming around the house. One $20 bill was peeking out from between the mattress and box spring, perhaps an ode to a common, antiquated practice of hiding your savings under your mattress. Another was peeking out of a dresser drawer. Still another peeked out between the cushions of the sofa. He found one in a jacket pocket–and, as these were crisp, new bills, we were both fairly confident that this wasn’t a forgotten bill from another time. The strangest one, and one that couldn’t be easily explained whether from kitty capers or otherwise, was found folded lengthwise over the rod in our bedroom closet, held in place by a couple of hangers.

Dan had just found the last one when I came home from work. Needless to say, he was quite flustered due to all of the strange places he found the money, places that no cat–even were any gifted with a pair of thumbs–could accomplish. Trying to wrap our minds around it, we considered the teenage boys we’d seen up on the hill the day the cats were found out-of-doors. But would teenage boys create a scavenger hunt? More than likely, if they were gifted enough to break and enter without detection in broad daylight, in the middle of a commercial district on a major interstate, they would likely have pocketed the $300.00. And what would be the point of the scavenger hunt? None would be able to watch and laugh at their joke…unless thieves and pickpockets from another era had played such a plank.

Whoever, whatever it was, I am simply grateful the money was found. But, as any “mother” will tell you, even her “fur” babies are a cut above the rest. Maybe Paz, Woody and Ariel played a practical joke after all.

May God bless you & keep you!