Caughterized

Hope you all are doing your best to enjoy the new year. Wait, what? February almost a thing?

Hello, summer!

Speaking of sunny climes, my older brother is in Florida for a bit and loving it.

When I visited last March he showed me small holes in the lawn left by some varmint. There were no sightings of the animal. Just the piles of dirt each day.

He started off the new year buying a brandy new cage. I guess enough was enough.

On January 30th, he sends me (and my other brother) an email with the caption, “Finally caught him!”

This is the critter.

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It’s an armadillo for those of you not familiar with the animal. I lived in Texas for a dozen years so had my fair share of them poking in my gardens.

Anyway, I was glad that all of my brother’s hard work paid off in the end. I know the battles that can be waged. Humans vs. nature.

My dad was forever on the losing end with the skunks and squirrels. He’d trap and release them at the nearby golf course. I felt like they played a quick round on the links and hightailed it right back home. He never made a dent in his backyard squirrel population.

I have also kept myself up, many a night, plotting revenge and planning strategic moves to stop squirrels from eating every single bit of the backyard bird food. My mind is like a game of freaking Stratego. Serious stuff.

Yes, I am not ashamed to admit that I have greased the pole (that holds the bird feeder) with oil so the squirrels couldn’t climb up it. They did anyway. Sure, they looked like little strippers in an adult club but they did it.

I sprayed a mixture of cayenne pepper and water on the food-supposedly it doesn’t bother birds but squirrels don’t like it. Didn’t work.

Bought special bird feed that was already treated with “hot” spices.

Also measured the space where the feeders were positioned-far enough from bushes and branches so they couldn’t catapult themselves. But they still managed to attend the early bird special. Munching away. They’ve chewed on the feeders and broken them.

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I’m not gonna lie. I feel like I’m being mocked.

So I can appreciate the glee that comes with winning. I can’t wait for all of the juicy details. Tell me, brother, every step of the hunt.

After my initial “Wow!” I send another email.

Gonna lob an easy one at him-for starters.

“What did you use as bait?”

Eagerly anticipating the blow by blow. The hunter and its prey story.

I’m thinking maybe he put a slab of meat or peanut butter in the cage.

He sends me a response,”Didn’t even bait it. Took three weeks till he finally wandered in. Lol”

What???

I immediately text back, “I do not think THAT constitutes a “Finally caught him!” header on an email. While you’re floating around the pool in your lanai slurping on a Bud Lite doing absolutely nothing!” For three weeks. And then Dopey wanders into the cage.

Update: Today he sends me an email. “Caught another one. Could be the same one. LOL.”

Mocked and burned.

I hope everyone enjoys the rest of the weekend!

Good Spirits-Part Two

Happy New Year to you all! Wishing everyone the very best!

I need to finish up “part two” so I can get it out of my head to make room for more.

So, in the last posting, I wrote about how we (the Hannah and I) happened upon a witches’ tea and a spirit gallery in the Northeast pocket of Vermont. You’ll need to go back and read “Part One” if you haven’t seen it yet. Just to familiarize yourself. Totally random.

We were signed up and ready to participate. It was a group setting. Salicrow, the Medium, would pull five or six names out of the jar and act as a conduit for the visiting spirits. One at a time, of course!

The session, per her numerology love, begins at 3:33pm and ends at 4:44pm.

As I previously mentioned there were a few folks finding comfort in hearing from parents who passed. As well as the very sad case of a spirit whose earthly body left way too soon by ghastly measures.

Salicrow displayed nothing but compassion and care.

She reaches her hand in the jar and whips out another ticket. I check my stub and it’s a match! I’m never a winner. Not saying I’m a loser. Not that. I just don’t usually win things.

So, I have to go and sit in the chair next to Salicrow. My daughter is thrilled. She later tells me she prayed so hard that I would get chosen.

It was mentioned, at the beginning of the session, that some people record the experience because it can be a lot to absorb. We didn’t but I wished that we had.

I’m skeptical. When it comes to me. I am a pretty grounded person with a light-hearted personality. But I am no airy fairy. I’m tolerant of those folks but I am not one of them. It’s just a fact.

Except.

Except when it comes to friends and family who I miss. The welcome mat is always out for any/all signs and visitors.

Salicrow asks who I want to communicate with today. I should have said, “Strongest spirit” to see if this gig is all legit. LOL. But I was a little nervous about being the center of attention in a group.

So I spit out, “My Dad.”

She begins. Says my dad is here. He’s proud of me. She says that he was more involved as a grandfather. That he’s sorry he didn’t play with me. He says he loves me. Said that one of the grandkids was clingy.

Wants to know if the number fifty-six means anything to me. It doesn’t. I’m skeptical (like I said) so I’m thinking she can ascertain ages of people. And does math in her head. I’m fifty-four at the time. But I do try to cooperate because I am a pleaser. It’s tough when you are in the spotlight. All thinking goes out the window.

I offer, “Maybe the year he came to this country?”

But I don’t think that’s it.

Then she is asking if he had an accent (because I said he came to this country?) so I laugh and say, “Yes, he had a heavy Rhode Island accent.”

Everyone chuckled.

And that is true. Even though my Dad was raised in Ireland he died with a Rhode Island accent. But he never let go of the Irish pronunciation of TH. It came out as just T. He’d be yelling for me, “Mary Bet”-my nickname was Mary Beth. In all fairness to dear old Dad I have heard many Rhode Islanders who suffer that same affliction.

To prove that I am not making up this bit. On his eightieth birthday I had a prepared speech (as the self anointed emcee) which included a game, “How well do you know Pat?” This skit included memories and fun facts.

One of those memories was when my kids were little and teasing him. Asking, “Papa, what are the gas prices in Rhode Island?”

They couldn’t wait for his answer, “Tree-tirty-tree.”

Total setup. How they giggled.

One of his six sisters, my Auntie Maureen, immediately came to his defense (even though she wasn’t even there-but that is sister behavior all over the world) and said that the Irish don’t pronounce the TH because the Irish language didn’t have a TH. And I guess never fully converted to the English.

So this party is documented somewhere. And Hannah is the one who later reminded me of that memory.

The session this day began at 3:33pm. Like Papa and the gas price. Tree tirty tree.

Anyway, I didn’t learn anything new from this session. I know, without any doubt in the world, that my father loved me. And I loved him.

True, he didn’t play with us. Except on vacation. Or sometimes throwing baseballs to my brothers in the backyard. But there wasn’t a dad in my neighborhood who I can recall playing with their kids. It was just the time. The seventies.

And Salicrow could have figured that as well.

Anyway, it was all a feel good moment.

When I returned to Rhode Island I was sharing the experience with my older brother. He said, “I’m fifty-six.” Which is also how many years my parents would have been married at that time. Sometimes when you are on the spot you suffer a mental block!

Fifty-six, three-thirty-three and more. A lot of coincidences that day.

Reminds me of Albert Einstein’s words,”Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.

I’d like to think that’s true.

Wishing you all a year of health and happiness.

Good Spirits-Part One

Finally I will write this one. It’s long and windy. Not windy like the wind. Like lots of bends. So strap yourselves in and enjoy the ride. Grab a glass of wine (or water) and sit back.

Sometimes I wonder why my head doesn’t explode with all of these stories just sittin’ and fermentin’ every day.

On Mother’s Day weekend I was up in Vermont. Met the youngest daughter at her university dorm room on the Friday and we loaded up the cars (hers and mine) with the boxes. Another school year in the books. Lol.

I planned to stay for the weekend. So Saturday and Sunday was ours. To do whatever we wanted.

Our destination was the Northeast Kingdom.

I had never heard of the Northeast Kingdom. It sounded like something out of a movie I probably wouldn’t even like. Shivers. But it is actually a region in the Northeastern part of Vermont-wriggling its way right up to the border with Canada. A natural, rugged beauty. Protected areas. Lots of wildlife. Not a ton of people.

Lake Willoughby, our final destination on this trip, was lovely. And empty since lake season had not quite arrived yet. We walked and stretched our legs. Had a good look around and took in the glory of nature.

Here are some of the photographs taken that day.

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We were soon on our way back to Burlington, Vermont. No rush. Enjoying the scenery and the company.

Like all long road trips sometimes a rest stop along the way is a necessity.

And like most small towns all over New England there isn’t much to distinguish one from the other. Quaint main streets, charming historical brick buildings, lovely flower arrangements hanging in baskets and window boxes. Always a train depot. Defunct or not. Mostly defunct.

So we stopped in a place called Lyndonville. Pulled in a parking spot curbside-in front of a cafe. Perfect. My daughter, Hannah, wanted a coffee or tea so we popped inside the shop.

I felt like I was walking onto a movie set. No joke. The place was filled with females with pointy ears and elaborate makeup. I didn’t know what to think. We were in the company of fairies. I honestly (no joke) started thinking to myself after a few minutes, “Fairies are real?”

Oh my gosh. Wait, are unicorns real??

Hannah orders her coffee and we ask the woman behind the counter what exactly is going on in the shop.

It was actually a “witches’ high tea.”

Okay. Not exactly what I was expecting but okay.

She went on to explain that they had hosted different workshops that day. She shares that the last event will be in a half hour. We ask for details.

It’s a spirit gallery with a psychic named Salicrow.

My daughter and I looked at each other questioningly like,”Want to?”

“Why not?”

It was currently 3:00pm and the event was scheduled to begin at 3:33. Not 3:30. But 3:33pm. Would end at 4:44pm.

I figured there would be safety in numbers instead of a one on one. So I’d be protected from any haints gone rogue.

You pay for a ticket and your number goes in the jar. Salicrow will pick out maybe five or six names in the hour. If your number is called then you up and sit in a chair next to her. The spirits will use her as a conduit for communication.

You could buy more than one ticket and increase your chances of being chosen. I declined.

We purchased our tickets.

Had some time to kill so we checked out the bookstore on the corner. Lovely spot. Crammed with lots of reading material. We scored. Hannah found a book that was on her “to read” list. The last one on the shelf! The author, Emily Bernard, is a professor at Hannie’s university and on her radar. As an aside- the title is “Black Is The Body.” Great read!

Then I found a children’s book I had wanted to read. Miss Rumphius. A story about making the world a little more beautiful. Also the only copy left on the shelf.

We both felt good and ambled back to the cafe.

Chairs were positioned in the rear of the cafe space. To be frank, it appeared to be mostly middle-aged white women. A few younger ones. There was one young fairy girl breast-feeding her baby who I assume was a next generation lil fairy. I think just two men were present.

So Salicrow is cool. I like her.

One of the guys asks at the beginning why we are starting at 3:33pm. She said numerology is her thing and gives some explanation. Doesn’t bother me none.

She starts pulling out names and has the person sit beside her and asks them who they want to hear from today-someone special or the strongest spirit?

A few ladies want to talk to Dad or Mom. I guess that’s normal. We will always want to hear from those who gave us life/a life-especially if we loved them. No matter how old we are.

She calls out another number and a young, blond woman with red-rimmed eyes takes the chair next to Salicrow. Obviously going through an emotional time.

Salicrow says something about the woman and why she is upset. I then realize that we (Hannah and me)are probably the only two people in the room who are not from the area. We don’t have a clue as to what/who she is talking about when she mentions the case of the school teacher. But we didn’t just fall off the turnip truck so quickly figured out that something very bad happened to a beloved local woman and that this blond woman was a cousin of the victim. Wanting to connect with her.

It was hard to watch. To see a young woman crying her eyes out because her cousin died as a result of a vile crime. Wanting to communicate with her-letting her know that she was advocating for her son (who was a two-year old, strapped into a car seat, during the actual crime). Yeah, none of that was easy to hear. Except that she was hearing what she wanted from her cousin’s spirit.

Once again, reminded about the unimaginable horrors inflicted upon women. The perpetrator (as I would later read) told police, “I wanted to get a girl.”

Let that sink in for a bit.

A woman living her life. Teaching at a private school. Caring for her little two-year old son. A good life.

And some evil person says, “I want to get a girl.”

I am sorry for the darkness. But I didn’t create it. I am just sharing it.

There is a whole lot of light in the world. But don’t forget that the darkness exists. We don’t need to be paranoid but we do need to be aware and vigilant. Be kind but be careful.

I told you this story was going to be longer than usual. Leaving off for now. Will finish this story in my next posting.

Bless you all. Stay safe.

 

 

Changes

Greetings all!

Hard to believe the seasons are sailing past us. I know there is no magic wand to slow it all down. Nor should there be. Because then I’d just be playing God with the seasons.

Swish of the wand.

Spring. Sure, stick around, temps are good. Green buds everywhere. Life.

Summer, you too, are welcome to just laze. No one rushing you.

Autumn, I know I said I always loved you.

Attractive boots. Sweaters. Apples. Cider. Colors everywhere. Rah rah from nearby stadiums. Wool suits. Burning leaves in the backyard.

So many people proclaim, “I love the Fall.” And I agree with them smiling. Say things like, “Me, too.” Now I say, “Me, too, but it’s the transition thing that’s tough for me.”

This year wasn’t too bad. Because the youngest returned to school early for three weeks of training. So it wasn’t like September 1st rolled around and my kid was gone again. It was still warm and summer when I helped unpack her at university.

But I ride my bike down the East Bay path and the beach is empty. The cacophony of the park and recreation area, normally present in the summer, has been stilled now that all of the little day campers have gone. No more thwonks of tennis balls hitting the courts. Only the honks of the Canadian geese, befouling/befowling the area, are heard.

Traffic patterns changed. Tourists and summer folks left while the school buses returned. The ones you’ll do anything not to be stuck behind when they pick up or discharge their precious cargo. God bless them. But still. We all have things to do, right?

It’s dark. The clocks have been changed. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Xmas shopping.

I have not been sitting here moping. Been a busy woman. Did some community service in town. Organized a team for an Alzheimer’s Walk. Visited youngest up in Vermont. Sat in on a couple of her university classes. Am ahead of my reading challenge (100 by end of year) by one book! Had Lasik procedure on my eyes. Felt blessed that my mom turned 80 years old last month. Delved into African-American authors. Enjoyed visitors up until last week. Currently doing my civic duty and loving it.

But still. Haven’t packed up the entire patio. Or transferred garden ornaments into the garage.

Maybe this weekend.

Here is a poem by Langston Hughes. Recently finished a book of his. So enjoyed it. And I am not a “sit under a leafy tree and blow on dandelions while making wishes/reading poetry type of girl.” He was good.

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I mean, that’s it in a nutshell, isn’t it? Autumn. And then Winter.

With that being said, I do enjoy the change of seasons. I pined for it while living out of New England. Even more so when we moved overseas.

I enjoy the change. Not the transition.

 

 

 

 

Old Skool

My younger daughter is encouraging me to continue my education. I am actually considering it. The kids have flown the coop and I am not ready to be put out to pasture quite yet.

So I started slowly exploring it. Not even to complete a degree but because I am so very curious about things. Not calculus. No, not that. Other subjects. 🙂

My first on-line search was a nearby private, liberal arts university. Would be super convenient. I typed in the address to access their website. Was a bit dismayed when I found the description of their program that would suit an adult learner like me.

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I then started poking around the website. The errors in grammar and spelling throughout the site were more than a few.

Now, nobody’s perfect. I totally get that.

But I am allowed to make all the spelling mistakes in the world. Because I am a learner. Not an institute of learning!

Of course, I feel it’s my duty to let them know that their website needs some attention.

Side note: I also let a local long-standing brewery know that their web page needed a spelling correction. And kept the administrator of an author’s Facebook page in the loop when errors glared. Can’t help myself.

If someone has a business or product they want to sell then I think it absolutely needs to be done properly and professional. On-line or not.

It is no different than the receptionist at a Doctor’s office. It helps form the first impression and is a representation of your business. Or how you do business.

Now, let me git bak to explorring mi opchins for furtha edukacation.

 

The Keys

We were recently in the North End of Boston. Very historical. Beautiful place. Fabulous weather. Good eats.

Passed by Paul Revere’s house on the way to a restaurant. About a block up, near a corner curb, there’s a bit of a crowd. Couple of older gents and ladies looking at the ground.

It just takes one, right?

A person looks up and we all look up because we are curious beings. A person looks down and we all look down because we are curious beings.

It’s a touristy area. Heavy foot traffic. At this point, foot traffic slows and everyone is looking down and asking, “What’s up?”

Or really more like, “What’s down?”

There is a sewer grate.

Everyone’s first thought is, “Oh good God, did their phone fall through the grate?”

Okay, maybe it was just my first thought.

But that is our society. Right or wrong. We can’t live without those phones.

Well, it wasn’t a phone.

It was the man’s car keys.

What kind of perfect storm is that? Keys dropped right into the sewer?

Oh, boy! Everyone who heard that sort of let out a sympathy groan. Tourist or local. Was like a collective groan.

You can lose your phone and get a new one. Totally stinks but it’s not the worst.

But your car keys? Dang. How are you going to get home? And maybe the house key attached?

A perfect Sunday in Boston for them. Until it wasn’t.

This little scenario rippled up the blocks.

Nope, it wasn’t a murder. Or a crime. But it rippled just the same.

I heard suggestions, “Call the city!”

And, “Call the cops!”

The next block up, a couple of waiters having a smoke outside the restaurant were like, “City ain’t gonna help ’em. Cops ain’t gonna help ’em.”

Matter of factly.

In my head I was like, “This is soooo New England.”

A few things struck me.

Everyone that passed by the man actually felt his pain. They put themselves in his shoes at that very moment. Because they could actually imagine themselves in that very same situation. Losing their keys in the sewer.

Dang. 

Everyone was sort of thinking, “Oh, the poor bugger. Thank God, it’s not me but I’m still feeling really bad for him. I’d like to help.”

There’s the rub.

If we can identify with a fellow human being who lost his car keys in a sewer grate then why can’t we identify with all of the others?

Why can’t we feel the pain of others? Put ourselves in a different pair of shoes for a moment? Actually imagine ourselves in the very same situation? It would even be okay to think, “Oh, the poor thing. It’s not me but I feel really bad. I’d like to help.”

That’s compassion. That’s humanbeingism at its best. Wouldn’t it be swell to see a bit more of the best?

 

 

The Fan

In my last posting I mentioned that I would share some “signs” I’ve received. From my father. Looking back I’d have to say the signs have been pretty amazing. Maybe someone thought I needed “spectacular” to be convinced.

June 14th was a lovely day. I took a drive to the cemetery where my father is now resting. Again, it’s me, myself and I. At least as far as my eye can see.

I pulled up near my Dad’s headstone. Did the usual. Greetings and a prayer.

As I wrapped up with a big amen (okay, it was a little silent amen) I turned from the grave and headed toward the car. I said (aloud because no one was near me and I wanted to hear my own voice), “Okay, Patrick, do your stuff. Give me something.”

So, as I am waiting, I take a few steps across the lane to look at other tombstones. Lots of folks from my growing up community reside in this cemetery. I like to read some of the different names or epitaphs. Sometimes pray for those I know. Maybe a parent or grandparent of an old friend or neighbor. I ambled over to one that had the last name “WORK” on it. Never heard that surname.

Dad used to say, “Hard work always pays off.”

But that’s not the sign.

I don’t think.

Anyway, within two minutes of me asking Dad for some magic, I spot something else! It’s about four graves down from the WORK tombstone. I can see that it is partially hidden by the last grave in the row. And it’s moving!

I should be afraid since I am totally alone. Not a person in sight. Could there be someone out of sight? A murderer? Or possibly a street urchin?

There is some type of fanning motion. Back and forth. What on earth? A geisha in the midst of a fan ceremony?

I start toward the grave to investigate. The thing starts to move away from the tombstone! I am hot on its trail. Not a bit afraid.

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Mystery solved.  Tom the turkey just taking things slow on a sunny afternoon.

The turkey spirit animal is a symbol of abundance. It is an encouragement to celebrate your resources that nourish your physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects. The turkey symbolism brings the message of unlocking the richness of your life so that you can appreciate everything.

Thanks, Dad. Miss and love you.