YouTube Junkie

“We toss the coin, but it is the Lord who controls its decision.” (Proverbs 16:33)

Who would have thought that life could change so much in the blink of an eye. I know that sounds like a cliche; it is. I’m not sure what I would have–could have–done differently. I fell while going out to shovel the driveway in anticipation of work the next day. Sure, I could see the ice coating the driveway but, in order to shovel myself out, I had to navigate over it.

Now I’m laid up.

Yesterday I was wallowing in self-pity. The mortgage is behind. I’ve been knocking on every housing assistance door in Connecticut. Mom & I have visited a couple of local food pantries to get by until I’m back to work. I put up a Go Fund Me campaign to see if I can generate help with the bills/mortgage that way. And I am grateful to the friends who have been generous in their support; it is appreciated far more than you can ever imagine. I’m still looking at a hefty mortgage payment in three days that I don’t have adequate funds to pay.

But I’m taking it on faith. Either He will provide the means in time. Or He won’t…because maybe He’s forcing me into a decision I haven’t quite been able to make. I’ve spent the better part of 9 years’ oscillating between selling out and relocating (which might just mean closer to my work in Massachusetts) or finding another part-time income to help supplement…provided I can get back to work next month. My medical leave has been extended another month until the third week of March. Of course, part of that oscillation has been the very honest two years of unemployment, followed by 6 years of underemployment. It’s only been a little over a year that I finally found a full-time position. So, in short, the financial means to relocate hasn’t been here…anymore than the means of providing the most basic cost of living. I was still playing “catch-up” when my accident happened.

Okay…so some of that wallowing factor is still happening here…

And yet, it’s not crippling me completely. I’ve spent the better part of the afternoon knocking on those doors I mentioned earlier, filling out applications, etc. to see if there’s something to help preserve this would-be homestead…either here, or in a new location. We have to allow for processing time though. So…

…in the meantime…

When I’m not writing, working on my novel, I’ve become a bit of a YouTube junkie. Having my left arm in a brace means my activity levels are pretty low. Where my days’ off, especially in winter when farm activities are pretty minimal anyway (outside of feeding), used to be spent watching gardening shows on YouTube (Jon Kohler’s Growing Your Greens: BBC2 Gardener’s World with Monty Don; Charles Dowding’s No-Dig Gardening), now I’m expanding. Roots and Refuge Homestead. Off Grid with Doug and Stacy. The Urban Farmer with Curtis Stone. Living Big in a Tiny House. Tiny House Living. I’ve watched videos on raising angora rabbits, angora goats, silkworms, and training border collies to herd the sheep I don’t have land enough to raise.

Yet…

In addition, Mom & I have had a lot of laughs watching Late Night with Stephen Colbert and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. And ooh-ing and aah-ing over agility competitions where, most of the time, the border collies rock! I’ve watched interviews with old “idols”: Kevin Von Erich (pro-wrestler); Rik Emmett (frontman, Triumph); Jane Seymour. The latter happened to be a walk-through with her researching what became of two of her aunts during The Holocaust; it was actually quite interesting. And she gave a bit of advice in one interview about how her mother always taught her that when you’re down and have nothing to give, you give more. I’m paraphrasing but, in essence, her mother was big on giving back, of giving help to someone else in need. By doing so, you open the door to resolving your own problems. That one’s been taken to heart quite a bit. I’m looking for ways that I can do just that.

Lastly, I’m feeling like a kid watching MTV again. Music videos. This weekend it was some 80’s, early-90’s music that I haven’t heard in a long time: Powerstation; Platinum Blonde; Andy Taylor; Triumph; April Wine; Concrete Blonde, etc.

Of course, the nostalgia conjured up by this music does sort of feed the wallowing factor a bit. I remember my dreams back then and how I gave up on them. I have no desire to give up on the current ones. Ironically, in remembering, it also feeds my determination to hold on to the current dreams; I’m not getting any younger.

Maybe in a month’s time that first draft…well…let’s not jinx it by giving voice to it.

May God bless you & keep you!

PS I would be so grateful if you would share my Go Fund Me link with your friends, family, acquaintances and readers. https://www.gofundme.com/9fymzf-medical-leave?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=email&utm_content=campaign_link_t&utm_campaign=welcome

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One Day At A Time

“He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in Him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord! Trust in the Lord God always, for in the Lord Jehovah is your everlasting strength.” (Isaiah 26:3,4)

I’m holding onto these words of encouragement. As I navigate through this forced convalesce, and watch the bills pile up, and receive letters from the new mortgage company threatening foreclosure, and the bank account getting smaller, the above passage from Scripture reminds me that He really is in control…and my faith tells me He has a plan.

Even if I can’t see it.

I’ve been on the fence about whether to sell and find land/farm in another location, somewhere a little more manageable from a financial standpoint, but also more acreage, less house. The logical, human side of my brain says, if I do default, what are my chances of being able to purchase again? I need to keep up on everything to build my credit score up. Yes, I can see that dream farm somewhere in upper-state New York, or Maine. But my “day” job is in Massachusetts. Logic is saying it’s all beyond my reach. That I need to really push back, commit to staying. And trust that He’ll get me over this rapidly-growing bump in the road.

My faith says to trust in Him…regardless of the outcome. Though it all looks impossible, nothing is impossible with God. He is not bound by human rules of equity and credit scores. And, if the opposite is His will for me, then He’ll provide whatever I need to make the next mortgage payment, car payment, etc.

He’s teaching me patience…I say this while I rail and chafe against both my limited mobility–and my limited cash flow.

More importantly, He’s teaching me to truly put my trust in Him. I have too much of a grasping nature, holding on too tightly to what I have. In short, He’s teaching me to let go.

Can I do it? This one’s a tough one. I don’t like not being in control (as if!)…or at least feeling as if I’m in control.

So, I take a deep breath…

And wait…

And fret…as only I know how to do.

And keep reminding myself that, even if I can’t see the outcome at all, He’s got this. And His ways are always perfect.

May God bless you & keep you!
https://www.gofundme.com/9fymzf-medical-leave&rcid=r01-15506107597-500376eb83394fe0&pc=ot_co_campmgmt_w

My Apologies for the Delay…

Good morning (or whatever time of day it is in your part of the world…)

In the middle of some major “renovations” here on this blog. As soon as they are completed, I will certainly include more information about them. For the time being, I thank everyone for their patience. New content will be added soon.

In the meantime, keep working towards that faith-filled, sustainable and compassionate future. We CAN be the change we wish to see in the world.

May God bless you & keep you!

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!

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!

Haunted Kitties

The first Christmas season here in Brooklyn, CT, I came home from shopping one afternoon to see a black-and-white tuxedo kitty running around the back of the house. My first thought was “That looks like Pazzy” but Paz, Woody, and Ariel, the three cats that shared our home back in 2001, were strictly indoor cats; I never let them outside so I simply assumed this was a stray that looked like Paz. I didn’t get that good of a look at him. So I went about my business of unloading the car and carrying my bags to the door. By the time I had opened it, the stray cat had completely slipped my mind except for a vague wish that he or she would not find Route 6 any time soon.

Setting down my bundles, I noticed that none of my kitties came to greet me at the door. That was very unusual because they always did. However, I still wasn’t making the connection between the Pazzy-lookalike and my own precious felines. I called a greeting. Still no response. That’s when it hit me. That “stray” didn’t look like Pazzy; it was Paz!

My first thought, because I assumed Woody and Ariel were still somewhere in the house, was that he’d slipped by Dan when Dan went out to visit his friend, Timmy, and play some cards. After all, the door had been locked tight. But where was Arial and Woody? I started searching the house. Nobody sleeping on the bed, the sofa, any of the chairs. I checked all the usual “haunts”; then even scoped out the closets and every other possible hiding place just to rule them all out. Finally, I had to concede that somehow they had all gotten out and there was no way that all three could have slipped by Dan together. I ran outside and around back where I’d last seen Paz.

Calling his name, I looked everywhere for all of them. Suddenly, Paz flew out from under the back deck, streaked by me and scurried under the shed. This wasn’t going to be easy and I needed help. I ran back inside and called Dan.

“By any chance did you let the cats outside?” I asked because I still couldn’t fathom how all of them had escaped at once.

“Of course not. Why?”

“They’re not in the house. I saw Paz running around the back of the house when I got home. And none of the other cats are in the house either. Paz just crawled under the shed. I can’t find Woody or Ariel anywhere.”

“I’ll be right home.”

Dan and I spent the better part of two hours trying to find them. After another careful sweep of the house, we ascertained that none of them was inside. We checked all of the doors. All of them were latched and locked tight; there was no way anyone could get in or any possibility the wind could’ve blown a door open to let them out. We headed back outside.

Flashlight in hand, Dan started shining it under the shed. Nothing.

“Are you sure this is where he went?”

“Yes. He was under the deck before that.”

A light bulb went off in both our heads. Maybe they were all under the deck. Outside was probably a scary place for three inexperienced kitties. But how were we going to get them back out? There was no access for humans under that deck unless we started taking it apart.

Suddenly, Dan grabbed the garden house and turned on the water. Walking backwards and forwards he started hosing down the back deck. Within seconds Paz came scurrying out. I managed to scoop him up and put him inside, rejoicing that I had one little bundle of joy safe at hand again. Dan kept the hose running, concentrating on the back corners now. Ariel excavated some of the dirt away from the bottom of the deck and seemed to grow out of the ground like a giant mole. I caught her up and took her inside, too. That left Woody. And, as he was the most skittish of the three, after another 20 minutes of hosing the deck, we were both forced to conclude that Woody had not joined his siblings under the deck. Where was he? Dan turned off the hose.

By now, I was in hysterics. Where was my Woody? Though I love all of my cats, Woody held a very special place in my heart. Though all three are/were extremely affectionate, Woody was the ultimate cuddle bug. Got lap? Have Woody. He just couldn’t be lost. I started praying, an endless litany of the same thing over and again. “Please don’t let him be lost for good, Lord!”; “Please help us find him.”; “Please don’t let him get out on Route 6 or let anything attack him.” Shuddering at the thought, I walked to the edge of the road and looked up and down it, breathing a sigh of relief that no little gray and black tiger-striped cat was “gracing” it. I started walking towards the woods. I would overturn every rock and branch in those woods if I thought it would help me to find him. I noticed some teenage boys sitting atop the hill and wondered, briefly, if they could have let them out as a prank but how did they get in to do so? Again, all three doors were locked, as were the windows. It was December, after all. More likely, they were drawn to my big mouth calling for my cats and were simply getting a show.

It was then that I heard Dan call out, “I’ve got him!” Woody had chosen to hide in the front bushes. Dan searched them on a hunch and Woody came right to him; he didn’t like his trip outside.

“Thank you, Lord!”

I never ran so fast in my life.

Later, after all three felines were safely inside again, Dan and I started wondering how they had gotten out in the first place. We checked the doors again. They were all closed tightly. All of the locks on the windows were set and there was no sign of any forced entry. Though I still don’t rule out a teenage prank entirely, it is only because I hate thinking that some “other” entity had a hand in their escape. Though I am by no means an expert on the supernatural, or ghosts, I’ve read, watched and studied enough documentation to know that pets are often innocent targets during a haunting. And would teenage boys hang around after the fact? It is more likely they would have lit out of there, not wanting to get caught as suspects in a breaking and entering.

Today, I’m just grateful we found them all. Paz and Ariel are still beloved blessings in my life; Woody was likewise until his passing in 2012. And his memory is something I will cherish until my own dying day. I am also grateful that “my” ghosts have not seen fit to let the cats out again…

Perhaps it was a teenage prank after all…

May God bless you and keep you!

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