A little Diego, a little Dracula

When you are on ghost duty, getting away with only a bat encounter comes as a relief. At least, it did for me.

There are other times in life, I’m sure, when a bat encounter would not be a welcome surprise. 

Sitting in the near-darkness in a cabin deep in the woods, I prepared myself for anything that might happen. By prepared I mean I had a pair of fresh undies nearby and a bottle of vodka.

I was on edge. When I began hearing a faint fluttering sound coming from the ceiling, followed by the screech of nails on metal, the hairs on the back of my neck were standing at attention. Louder flapping and then a flash of something inside the wood-burning stove had me off the couch and in my special attack stance. (Quivering, wide-eyed, with hands over my head.)

Since I am most certainly the girl who WILL go in the basement when the deranged killer is prowling for fresh meat, I grabbed the nearby flashlight and aimed the beam in and around the stove. Inside the stove I found a scared and frantic little brown bat, bouncing off the sides of the firebox, up into the chimney and back to the hearth again. When the light hit its face, the creature retreated to a dark corner and tucked its head under a wing.

I tested the latch on the glass door. Engaged. I examined the chimney and cast iron stove body for openings. None.

Next, I wrote a note and secured it to the hearth with a glass candle holder:  Live bat inside. Do not open door.

Then I went to bed and pulled the covers over my head just in case.

The next morning, I checked the stove and found the bat still inside. Feeling all “Go, Diego, Go” we grabbed our animal rescuer gear (fishing net and spatula) and began coaxing what looked like a big-eared, winged mouse out of the coals and ashes. 

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The bat, still inside the firebox, clinging to the door handle, encased in netting

It cooperated and flopped into the waiting net. We carried the net outdoors. Knowing the hot sun was probably torture to the nocturnal creature, we overturned the net on a bed of leaves in the shade. It wouldn’t let go. More prodding, poking, and a little shaking and finally it hopped to the ground.

Then it spread its wings and began shrieking, exposing a fine set of teeth, including little fangs. I asked myself: Are these teeth really necessary for eating mosquitoes? At that moment I was immensely grateful the bat didn’t find a way out of the stove last night.

batface

This is NOT a mouse with wings. Mice are much cuter up close.

 

We stood nearby, watching as it shivered and screeched but did not spread its wings and fly away.  Eventually we grew bored and walked away. Within five minutes, the creature had gained enough strength to flap its dark wings and set off on a jagged path deep into the forest. Mission accomplished.

free

The bat looks scary, but it was shivering with fear.

Where’s my drink?

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The opposite

shadows1

Happiness is yours; it grows from the opposite of what you expect.

Instead of control, it grows from letting go.

Instead of stuff, it grows from simplicity.

Instead of the need for 15 minutes of fame, it grows from planting flowers and vegetables in an abandoned city plot, anonymously.

~ Geri Larkin

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Put down the damn phone

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

I love social media.

I have two blogs. Two Twitter accounts. I’m on Facebook.  I belong to countless online communities.

So I understand the lure, the pull, the sexy side of it. Even though I have all this stuff, I know I don’t always use it in a productive way. This has bothered me a bit more lately, as other matters push for my attention. I’m trying to strike the right balance between doing things that are fun, doing things for professional benefit, and living in the real world.

I’m trying to keep a firm line in the sand between online and real life.

However, lately I’ve noticed more and more folks hauling out the iPhone or some other model of smart phone for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with phone calls. 

My teenage daughter and her QWERTY camera phone are a thorn in my side. Just today she sent me a picture message. Of what? Some stupid candid picture of me doing yard work. Great. It’s probably on her MySpace page by now.

Sure, we pay the bill. If she pushes our buttons too much she knows she loses the privilege of having it. We’ve threatened it and we’ve followed through.

But what to do with all the adults out there who don’t have that behavioral threat hanging over their social-media addled brains?

Which brings me to today’s installment of Bitchfest:

Unless it’s a social media event or work-related, put down the damn phone.

At back yard cookouts, weddings, family parties, children’s birthday parties, time and again I see one or two folks checking out of the moment and getting lost in cyberspace. I used to be ignorant. I thought they were checking their messages or calendars. Maybe they were on-call for work? Nope. They are Tweeting away or Facebooking or browsing around. 

I’ve watched a guest at a cookout sit and stare down at his phone nestled in his lap while his children splashed in the pool and his not-so-social-media-savvy host sat nearby. Last weekend I was at a party where a guest just could not stop talking about and using his iPhone. It was a child’s birthday party. Obviously he was bored.

His rudeness paved the way for a few others to haul out their smart phones. Let the pissing contest begin. Meanwhile, who’s watching the kids?

Let’s put it another way: If I pulled the book I’m reading out of my purse and opened it and began reading while seated at a party, would I be viewed as rude? If I brought my laptop to a wedding reception so that I could compose a blog post or check Facebook, would I get a few dirty looks?

Put down the damn phone.

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What would Jason and Grant do?

mirror

Do you believe in ghosts or paranormal activity?

The older I get, the harder it is for me to answer no to that question. Part of me feels downright silly typing this post. But that other part of me — the one that is preoccupied with this ongoing situation — feels the need to get it in writing.

Maybe then I’ll see how silly it is and move on. Maybe a reader will be able to debunk all these incidents and I can sleep through the night. Maybe Jason and Grant will put me on their Sci-Fi Channel show.  

I think something is haunting our cabin in the woods.

For the record, I’m not the only one who has had experiences in and around the property, which is far enough removed from civilization to be considered isolated. Years ago, a relative of mine reported seeing ghostly figures in the form of soldiers moving through the woods to the west of the cabin. In fact, just about every odd occurrence outdoors there has happened in those west woods. Another relative swears she heard a disembodied voice whisper her name.

Recently, the activity levels have increased. Odd things. Little things. If only one of them happened, I’d dismiss it. But string them together and it’s unsettling. 

Consider:

The radio: Upon our arrival a few summers ago, we suspected our radio/CD player batteries were dead. We popped them in and pressed play, twisted the tuner back and forth across the AM-FM spectrum and nothing. We pulled out and reinserted the batteries to make sure they were in properly. Nothing. We added eight D batteries to our shopping list and headed into town for provisions.

When we returned and killed the car engine, we heard the most godawful sound emanating from the cabin, a sort of country music wailing accented with static and station fade. It was loud. My husband, Girl from the West and I looked at one another with confusion and worry. Was someone in there? Were we being “Punk’d”?

We examined the radio.The batteries were in just as we had placed them earlier. The radio was in the same place on the table. After a moment of wonder, we dismissed it as a case of defective batteries.

Later that weekend another electronic item inside the cabin went off  without provocation. Again, it could be faulty equipment.

The flying objects: Last summer, as I was relaxing after dark on our screened porch at the back of the cabin, I heard what sounded like a bunch of spice bottles toppling on the shelf over the stove. I went in, shined the flashlight around and couldn’t find anything out of order. 

When I went to bed later that night,  I drifted off only long enough to be jarred wake by a cardboard box being tossed to the concrete floor. This was not a gentle tumble prompted by a breeze or the toppling over of an imbalanced object. We all leaped out of bed and began examining the area, attempting to explain how a box on a solid surface, nowhere near an open window, could be thrown to the floor. Our only theory: mice. Some body-building, steroid-addicted mice.

The door: Sometimes late at night, the heavy front door shifts for no apparent reason. It makes a sound like someone or something is leaning against it. Wind? Animals? I don’t know. I’m not willing to hang around in the dark outside to find out.

Let me point out a few things:

There is no electrical service to the cabin. No electricity source nearby. So, no EMFs to mess with the central-nervous system. This is a common explanation in many suspected hauntings.

We may have mice, I mean what deep-woods cabin doesn’t? But not so many that we ever see signs of them. No droppings. No gnawed food boxes or bags. We have found bats in the fireplace. But a bat knocking over a box would still be a bat in the cabin and it would not escape our attention.

I’ve checked the ground for tracks or footprints around the cabin after an incident. I’ve not found any.

This summer I returned with The Atlantic Paranormal Society approach. I sat up late into the night. I kept a small light nearby. I even had a camera handy but not a lot of motivation to use it. I waited and waited. 

Nothing. Both nights were deafeningly silent.

On the last day, as we were cleaning and packing we stepped outside to take a break. I mentioned to my husband that maybe we had finally debunked all the weird activity. I told him how I invited something to happen on both nights, invoked the ghost to show itself, send a sign, and nothing happened.

He listened. He made no comment, just shrugged his shoulders and shook his head. 

Within moments of those words coming out of my mouth there came a heavy crash followed by a cracking sound from the west side of the cabin. We thought a limb had broken free from a large tree and struck a window. My husband ran to the west side of the cabin. When he came back, he walked slowly. He had on his serious face. 

“You just had to open your mouth and say it,  didn’t you?” he said.

I stood up and ran to the cabin.

It was the wall mirror. On the floor. Shattered. So, too, were my nerves. 

We told ourselves it was the wind. Although neither of us recalled a big gust in the moments preceeding the crash. I think we both kept to ourselves what we were really thinking.

Haunted or not? What do you think?

It's time to unplug

needle

Last night, there was too much noise. 

There was enough noise and mayhem to send me running for the sleeping bags and outdoor gear.

We’re heading out of the city to unplug, recharge, refocus and relax.

I’ve traveled in too many directions lately, juggled too many balls. This week, I lost my way and dropped all the balls. I feel a little like Humpty Dumpty.  This is surely a sign that I need a break.

I need to get away from a lot of things. Mainly I need a break from the noise.

Yesterday, within a few miles of our home, a home exploded from a natural gas leak, then a tanker truck crashed on the freeway, resulting in multiple explosions, causing a raging inferno, followed by a bridge collapse.

Once I read about the accident online (thank you, Twitter) the wail of sirens, the buzzing of helicopters, which must have been in the background all along, came to the fore.  Toss in the jerk neighbor and his endless supply of illegal fireworks and the marching band practicing two blocks away and you get the idea of the Symphony of Chaos.

Independently, these things do not bother me. I like marching bands. Fireworks, when ample warning is given or it’s a holiday, are dandy.  A random siren, a chopper overhead, are not really a big deal to me. Last night, the cacophony nearly unhinged me. 

I had a hard time falling asleep last night. Too much to worry about. Not much in the way of solutions. Not to mention the thoughts about all the folks involved in these disasters. What traumas are they working through today?

It’s time to escape for a few days. It’s time to get off the grid. It’s time to unplug and unwind.

I know not everyone is into camping or roughing it. It’s a lot of work. But it renews my spirit to follow the rhythms of nature. 

We will not have: television, cable, Internet service, or electricity of any sort. We will not have running water. Phone service will be spotty at best.

We will have: peace broken only by birds calling, deer snorting, assorted woodland creatures gnawing and shuffling and clawing about. We will have the sunrises and sunsets to ourselves. We will have a starry night to take our breath away, complete with shooting stars, and if we are lucky, aurora borealis. 

While I am breaking out in hives and hyperventilating about the idea of disconnecting, I know it’s what my soul needs now.

I need time to wake up with the sunrise and bird calls, to collect fire wood and cook over an open flame.  I need to spread a blanket  on the forest floor, crack open a book, and read or daydream or write stories in long hand. I need meditation time on the banks of a woodsy stream.

I tell myself that I do not need to know what’s going on with everyone and everything at every given moment. I do not need to relive Michael Jackson’s hair fire or  to know whether the Jonas Brothers are still chaste.

So, I’m giving the keyboard a rest. I won’t  be Facebooking; I’ll be facing a book. I won’t be tweeting but I’ll be listening to the chatter of birds.  I won’t be blogging, but I will be gathering logs and maybe even hiking by a bog. Maybe I’ll carry some logs along a bog. 

I hope it’s quiet where you are.

Coincidence?

oneglove
MJglove
Life is odd, isn’t it?

My Girl from the East does not know the name Michael Jackson.

We don’t own any of his music. There are no pictures of him in our house.

But right about the time MJ died, Girl from the East found this one white dress glove and started wearing it.

It is a right-handed glove.

Sometimes she starts dancing while wearing this glove.

I know it’s just an odd coincidence. 

I suppose if she asks for a pet chimp, I’ll worry.

Cute only goes so far

 For the sake of all humanity, do not say these things out loud:

“I really had a crush on you back in the day.”

 ”Do you still have your fat clothes, because I know someone who could use them.”

“Tomorrow I’m going to relax and take a day for myself.”

When you utter these words out loud, they hurtle into the cosmos for consideration.

The cosmos, being the bitch that it is, often lobs back this response on the appointed special day:

  •  You will be awakened at dawn to the sound of a floor lamp stem cracking in half and then falling like a mighty oak in the woods. The sound of metal and glass striking wood and plaster will jar you from your much-needed rest, while everyone else in the house snores away undisturbed. Your wishes lay in shards at your feet. So it is with your favorite lamp. 
  • You will haul a twisted, top-heavy lamp to the basement, to rest next to all the other broken junk that you think you will fix someday when the solution strikes you or an amazing handyman moves in next door. Next, you’ll haul the vacuum up the steps to pick up all the small pieces of glass embedded in the carpet. Muttering under your breath, you’ll put the room to rights and restore your morning. 
  • After coffee, a shower and a few other preparatory measures, you will return to the scene  of the crime  to discover that the four-footed perpetrator of destruction has struck again. This time it’s the potted plant next to the lamp. Except now the pot no longer houses a plant. Or dirt. It’s an empty vessel on its side. The contents are a muddy mix scatted in a wide arc across the carpet. The plant itself, one that you’ve nurtured along for 14 years is in a twisted heap, its willowy branches and leaves splayed unnaturally, exposing pale, tender roots. The whole display is reminiscent of an underage socialite at an after-hours party.  Under the nearby chair, you will see two yellow, unblinking and unrepentent eyes peering out at you.
  • In your haste to get on with your special day to yourself, which is seriously behind schedule and veering off course, you will grab the vacuum still handy from the previous spill, and begin to sweep over the muddy mix. Except the mix does not get sucked into the machinery, it adheres to the wheels and brush plates underneath, serving as more of a frosting knife than suction tool. So now you have transformed the arc of mud into a sunburst of mud. You consider mudding the walls to match and calling it a design concept.

Instead you burst into tears, shout a string of expletives and curse the day you gave up the dream of living alone in a mountain cabin.

Congratulations, your special day of aloneness and renewal include:  one broken lamp, one destroyed plant, one big black mucky circle on your office carpet and one indifferent kitten licking his left paw. Next move?

Trapping and killing the kitten?

Buying a wet/dry vac?

Jumping out the window, hopping into the car and driving to New Mexico?

For it is only through the spontaneous escape, the unplanned departure that you will ever, ever get your special day to yourself.

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See the blur of movement? Notice the trail of destruction? Cute, isn't it?

 

Detroit blogger meet-up 1.0

MZgoesout

MomZombie goes out to play

No one is sure how it started.

Maybe I tweeted the idea of meeting other Detroit-area bloggers. Most certainly rockanddrool.com took the idea and made it a reality (thank you, thank you, thank you). It doesn’t matter. We planted a seed. It sprouted.

Last night we reaped the harvest: Five of us Detroit-area bloggers came together to chat, have a drink or two, chat some more, laugh, eat, take pictures, tweet about it as it happened, and go home feeling like we made new friends and learned a thing or two.

Five bloggers is a nice start.

I’m glad I said something.

I’m glad the right person came along to make it happen.

I’m glad others showed up.

It’s good to step out of the box once in a while

It’s one thing to hide behind an Internet name, a persona, and if you are me, a Little People character (which, by the way, I brought with me as an identifier since I blog anonymously). It’s quite another to step out from the shadows, tell people your name, let them see you in bright light and without the aid of Adobe Photoshop. It’s quite another thing, too, to hear the voice and see the three-dimentional version of the person you’ve been talking to online, who was nothing more than an avatar and a name with the @ prefix before the meet-up.

Personally, I am thrilled about this.

I took home with me little bits and pieces of the amazing life story and world travels of diapersanddragons.blogspot.com a.k.a. TeacherMommy;  it was wonderful to meet the beautiful, warm woman behind rockanddrool, a.k.a. Melissa, who has so many great ideas in development; I wish I had more time to talk to Todd J. List, avid Twitterer, who is in the process of developing his own Web site and who, if I meet him again, I promise to be quiet and let him do some talking;  and Rachael of www.warmheartshappyfamily.com who strives to strike a healthy balance between being a young mother and a successful businesswoman. What a positive bunch of people.

I hope I got that right, guys. As for the rest of you out there in the blogosphere, if you’re nearby, join us next time, please. If you’re not nearby but are curious about it all, fill up the tank, stop by anyway. We’ll buy you a drink. What’s the worst that can happen? You talk to a grown woman who plays with toys? Your picture ends up on the Internet?

What’s the best that can happen? You can hang out with us. You can take your own pictures. You can write your own version of the event. You can make a new friend.

 

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Name tags on, left to right: MomZombie, Todd J. List, Teacher Mommy, Melissa of rockanddrool and Rachael of warmheartshappyfamily.

WABbloggers

Name tags off, left to right, Todd J. List, TeacherMommy, MomZombie, Rachael of warmheartshappyfamily and Melissa of rockanddrool.

 

No problems here

 

from gapingvoid.com

gapingvoid.com

 

“At what point do our interests, passions and pastimes cross over into that shadowy zone that separates normal and pathological?” *

 This is the question I ask myself after reading this article on the Psychology Today Web site. I found it through a link on Twitter. I was on Twitter after a quick check of e-mail and Facebook. All this when I was supposed to be doing something else.

But it’s a good thing I avoided responsibility and took this very important quiz. Apparently, I’m sliding on the slippery slope toward blogaholism. 

I’m not a blogaholic. But I may have a friend who is one, because she has way more of these symptoms than I do. 

I’m not a blogaholic. If I were, I’d be packing my suitcase for BlogHer, right? I’d have a Facebook fan page for my  blog, OK?

I’m not there. Yet.

It’s a greased pole to rock bottom. A few more signs listed in the article help me understand how the mighty fall:

 Recurrent blog use resulting in failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school or home.

 I’m a little ashamed of what has happened to some of my gardens this year. And the lawn? Can we just get one of those Arizona type gardens with all the rocks and cactuses and stuff that you can ignore for a year or two? 

Recurrent blog usage in situations in which it is physically (or emotionally) hazardous (driving and/or making love).

So, writing a blog post while making love while driving is crossing the line. Got it. I’m OK on that one. Although I do occasionally write dirty prose in longhand while driving. My husband just bought a new touch phone so I’ve felt a little left out of that party.

Continued blogging use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused by or exacerbated by the effects of blogging.

Well, this is a tricky one here. You know, I send my husband messages on Facebook and DM him on Twitter when dinner is ready or when I need him to go to the store for me, but we don’t always connect. Sometimes he doesn’t get the Tweet until an hour after dinner. He arrives home to a meal that has gone cold. Or burned. Or cooked without a key ingredient.

 I just found out he was mad at me last Thursday. The e-mail somehow ended up in the Spam folder. I’m hoping we can work it out somehow.

Honey, leave me a comment, would you please?

 

* Blogaholism-Is It In You? — Psychology Today