Friday, December 14, 2012

Saved from a scam!

 
Last week I received an order for Psycards from Cairo, Egypt.  I was thrilled--thinking that my book might be sold in the shadow of the pyramids!

But the man ordering was a difficult customer.  He insisted that I use a particular freight company that he had an account with.  I was instructed to contact the company for a quote.  The order was for approximately $250 worth of stock.  The freight quote was for over $600!  I suggested that the client let me find a cheaper shipping method and found the US Postal Service could have handled the shipment via Priority Mail for around $150. But he insisted that his shipper, FasLink Cargo Express, was reliable and knew how to get the right paperwork through customs, etc.  He also said he would pre-pay the freight.  I thought Why not?  It's his money...

So I invoiced Mr. Benjamin Oliveros of 115 Cairo Street, Giza, Cairo, Egypt the total amount of $866.50.  He then sent me a payment via his Master Card because PayPal doesn't service Egypt. I actually checked with PayPal about that and they confirmed it.  I still didn't like the idea of wasting that much money on freight--I wondered how he could possibly sell Psycards at a profit with shipping charges like that.  But, hey, it was his money...

I used my Square credit card port with my new smart phone.  First transaction ever.  Mr. Oliveros called to see if I had paid FasLink yet and arranged the shipment.  I had not because the Square transaction did not post to my home bank account for two days.  For two days, he called me and emailed me several times a day.  I kept telling him I couldn't do anything until I received the payment.  And then I would pay FasLink and schedule the pickup.  He didn't seem to understand that I had no control over how the banks work or how soon the shipper could get his package to him.  I began to wonder why he was in such a hurry.

This morning, the money arrived in my bank account.  In the meantime, I had contacted FasLink to make payment.  They sent me odd instructions--I was to send the money via Western Union!  Aggravated at how difficult this was becoming, I still didn't quite get the message.  I tried to convince FasLink to set up a PayPal account and let me pay them that way.  They insisted on the Western Union transfer.  I set up an account with WU and actually tried to make the payment.  Thank Spirit that WU has good security--they refused my transaction.  I still didn't hear the bell.

I contacted FasLink and told them.  They said I needed to get cash and actually go to the WU local office to send the money.  Of course, Oliveros had already called me wanting to know what was going on.  A real pain in the ass and I was getting very aggravated with both of them.  I was outraged that they expected me to get up and go to my bank to send money to a shipper!  Why didn't he just prepay them directly?  But I tried to remain a good customer service person and make the client happy.  Still, the more I thought about it, the madder I got.  Something wasn't right.  (I know, you're thinking, "Duh!")

Then the light came on.  The bell rang.  It likely wasn't his money!  So I called the FBI.  And they said this was likely a scam.  I needed to check that credit card.  It was probably stolen.  So, I called my bank.  They agreed this was not right.  They arranged to send the "payment" back to Square.  I called MasterCard and they put me in touch with Citibank.  The card was a closed account.  I emailed Oliveros and FasLink and told them I had talked to the FBI and I thought this was a scam.  I haven't had an email or call since.

In the meantime, I have filed an official fraud report with the following:  IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union, MasterCard, Citibank, the FBI, the London police, the Federal Trade Commission, Western Union and gmail.

Here are the names and email addresses of the fraudsters:  Benjamin Oliveros, benolive7482@gmail.com.  FasLink (Alan Oxford), faslinkcargoexpress@rocketmail.com, the recipient Rita Greg in London.  Mr. Oliveros spoke very polished English with a slight Spanish accent. Feel free to share this with anyone who might be a victim of this scam.

My angels and good security practices protected me this morning from my own blindness.  I won't make that mistake again.  I will be drafting specific rules for transactions and posting them to the Psycards USA web site.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

September 26, 2012 Photo Essay


Meanders and mist


I never did find the scenic overlook in the dark, and I was glad I turned back—it was a hard walk after so many hours of driving.  But the next morning, we drove to it and spent our before-breakfast time reveling in the magnificent light.  Here is a photo essay:

Autumn peeking...
A patient crowd...
Structure and light... 
Mississippi mists...
Pike's Peak sunrise

Effigy Mound morning

The Hum

'The Hum' has been blamed on many things, but one thing is sure: It is maddening for those who hear it
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1184592/Have-heard-The-Hum-The-throbbing-noise-just-wont-away.html

One of the things I won't miss about this house is the constant and annoying presence of what I have learned is called The Hum.  

It started about five or six years ago.  I got up one summer morning and went to the bathroom (as we all do in the morning).  I noticed a deep rumbling, thrumming sound and grouchily concluded that it was someone blasting the bass on their stereo--I practice I abhor.

Angry and ready to find the culprit and press the local constabulary upon him, I ran outside to see if I could pinpoint the source--and ran right into silence.

Nothing.  There was no thrumming sound here.  Just birds and the usual sounds of morning traffic, and the river noises--barge horns and train whistles--drifting up over the hills.

Back into the house.  I can hear it again. 

Hmmph.  Perplexing.   
Is it the washer or dryer?  No, no laundry is running.  Is the furnace on?  No, again.  Fans and air conditioners were equally silent. But the whole house was humming!  It seemed loudest in the bathroom, but was clearly audible in other rooms of the house as well.  

Later, it was confirmed by everyone else that I was the only one who could hear it.  

I chased it over the next couple of days--it was keeping me awake at night, making me irritable.  I wandered our neighborhood in the pre-dawn searching for the source.  I drove the car downtown, along the river, near the factories.  By now I could hear it even outside, although it was much fainter there and I tried to locate it by listening on every corner.  I found nothing.

Finally, it occurred to me that I might be hearing what has been called The Hum.  I had heard about the Hum many years ago, when I first came across reports about Taos, New Mexico, where many people experienced an environmental humming sound that they could neither identify or locate.  There was great speculation about its possible source, including several conspiracy theories.  But the evidence is thin, so conclusions are impossible.  I had also heard of the Kokomo Hum in Indiana, and I believe I came across a Native American legend or two about certain places in North America that have mysterious sounds.  I suspected that the modern hum-hearers were hearing some sort of military activity; and the pre-technology stories were likely attributable to some local scientific phenomena, like water in underground caves, or wind in certain canyons.

Naturally, I went googling and after several hours of reading, discovered that the Hum is experienced by between one and three percent of any given population.  It is heard in cities and in the countryside, as well as in wilderness.  It is heard all over the world.  It seems that more women than men hear it.  And more women over 50 than under.  Many report that after a few years, they stop hearing it. 
http://www.unsolvedrealm.com/2010/12/26/unexplained-hum-heard-around-the-world/
So, what is it?  Let’s start with what it is not.  It is not tinnitus—one of the first dismissive answers offered.  But with tinnitus, if you put your fingers in your ears, you can still hear it.  Tinnitus is inside your ears, so blocking outside sound waves won’t stop it.  If you block your ears, you can stop hearing the hum, so the source must be external. And tinnitus is most often a high-pitched sound, not a pulsating, growling, vibrating, irregular Hum. 

What does it sound like?  Like a Theraman on steroids.  Vibratory like electricity, irregular but pulsing, varying in intensity and volume.  Some days it is subtle and easy to ignore.  Other days I have to turn up the TV to drown it out.  Some mornings it is so loud it will wake me from a sound sleep.  Because of its vibratory nature, I think it awakens some instinct we have about earthquakes, and makes one one to rise and flee.  

After reading through many ultra-scientific speculations, I came across one that suggested we might be hearing the Schumann Resonance—the natural electro-magnetic pulsebeat of the planet Earth. Other speculations suggest that we are hearing the waves from cell towers, vibrations from HAARP or other secret military operations, or even colliding ocean waves. 

All of these lack enough support or evidence to help narrow it down, but I do like the Shumann Resonance theory--that I can hear the Earth's heartbeat, so to speak. 

There is little study done on this phenomenon—are there other Hum-Hearers out there?  Certainly.  I invite them to share their experiences.  I also invite experts—scientists, physicians, audio specialists—to bring their trained minds to bear on this experience.  I would also be willing to share my experiences with any investigators pursuing the answers for this mystery.

I, for one, am hoping that traveling will reduce my experience with the Hum.  It can be annoying, irritating.  Some days I don’t hear it at all (these are rare), others I hear it, but it is background noise, and I have habituated much of it.  Others—especially when it is cold at night—it vibrates so loud I hear it over and above everything else, and it feels to me as though the whole house is vibrating with this irregular pulsating noise. On its strongest days, I can even hear it outside.  (Most people report that it is louder indoors and I’m among them.)  I’m also hoping that I turn out to be one of those people who hear it for a few years, then mysteriously outgrow it.  But whether or not I hear it, it is a mystery for which I will continue to seek answers. 


This image was borrowed from The Alien Nexxt Door, a blog by SF Girl located at http://sfgirl-thealiennextdoor.blogspot.com/2010/10/what-do-planet-earth-human-brain-and.html

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Eat, Pray, Live




Tonight I am watching Eat, Pray, Love.  I was thinking about this movie today—and indeed since I first started the blog, so I take the appearance of it tonight as a sign of affirmation from the Universe.

I hope that my spiritual journey and writing about it will become something like Eat, Pray, Love—a story that give us hope that we can find our authentic selves—if only we are willing to pursue it.

When we feel driven to do something, be something, accomplish something, to become something or someone greater than we do or are right now, we must follow that drive, despite the “others” who will tell us that we “should” do or be something else or someone else.

I am lucky—I have a partner, a man, a love in my life that is willing to accompany my on this journey.  It’s a lot less scary than doing it alone.  Of course, the danger is that I will collapse into his presence, become so dependent on him that if I am ever faced with being without him, I might truly collapse—just fold up and die.  So, I must remember to love him, to appreciate him, but to remain my own self, too.  Fierce and feisty and funny.  Independent, not co-dependent. 

But the Universe has called me to go forth into the world.  And provided me with the perfect companion—a man who is funny and warm, patient and cheerful—most of the qualities I lack.  And we have the RV, so we are never truly homeless, and I must release my PTSD fears from my previous homelessness.  I remind myself every day that I have put all my old wounds and resentments onto paper and lit them in a ceremonial fire of release and forgiveness.  They cannot haunt me anymore.  And if I am tempted to pull them up and wallow in them, I have that fiery moment to remind me that I don’t belong there anymore.  I am here, now, and I am a new me, a better me, spreading her wings and flying off into the world, into my own best life.  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Healing and Rebirth



Healing places, sacred spaces—these are my destinations.  I want to go where there is awe and reverence.  I want to witness beauty, grandeur, the power of the cosmos, the wonder of water, the splendor of trees.

I want to feel—no, commune—with the spirits of the land, the guardians of this continent.  And I want to write about those experiences. 

Soon, the chaos and demanding physical work of moving will be over.  I dreamt that I was dying, rebirthing myself, and with birth there is always labor. 

I experience the labor now of this house, this house expelling me out into the world.  This house which has truly been like a mother to me, nurturing, providing safety, and allowing me to heal from my trials in the desert so many years ago.  I bless this place a thousand times over, shower it with gratitude and pray it provides such benevolence to all who follow me to reside here.

There is a growing sense of peace and excitement.  In truth, the election of Barack Obama to a second term gives me hope and a great sense of relief.  I rejoice that America made the right choice.

We are only days away from leaving now.  One last round of moving sale this weekend, then the big push to put everything into storage, donate what is remaining, and the final sorting and clearing of files and writing ad other assorted paperwork.

This month has, as predicted, brought a big breakthrough—New Leaf Distributing has picked up the Psycards!  The largest distributor of “woo-woo” products and books in North America (if not the world) now carries Psycards.  This should be the turning point in the establishment of Psycards as an iconic tool like rune stones or Angel Cards.

I have already been invited to visit and give a workshop at Jan Ross Gifts & Books in Phoenix (the irony of which I will not share, but merely savor).  So, January calls me to the desert again.

All but one cat has found a home.

There are other things to report, but I will wait and add those in-between blogs later.  I felt called by Spirit to post this one today.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

First RV Overnight September 25


Off on our first adventure


It is 10 PM and I am feeling relaxed.  A couple drinks of whisky, a full day of travel and sunshine, an evening of campfire and woodsmoke and making friends with the folks in the next space.  They are here to get married—two couples marrying tomorrow afternoon at the scenic overlook at Pike’s Peak State Park.  
 
Lovely day of travel, up to Waukon to interview veterinarian “Doc Holliday” for Acres USA.  So, we took to the Great River Road—the long way there, but it you can’t take the scenic route, what’s an RV for?

The weather:  perfect.  Seventy degrees, relatively dry, sunny with scattered clouds.  The leaves of autumn beginning to turn, growing more brilliant the farther north we get. 
Autumn’s peaking shyly at first, orange, yellow, pink, among the green.

A crane along the backwaters of the Maquoketa River near its confluence with the Mississippi.

Cornstalks, yellow-brown, stand a patient crowd awaiting harvest in whispering fields.

Lush meanders, river-blue, trace sparkling paths amid the woods.  Dancing butterflies, yellow sprites flutter over grasses still of green.  Fluff, the stuff of next year’s flowers drifts in search of purchase.

I sensed right away when we embarked that this trip will give me the hope I need to get through this next month.  I already feel free, relieved, happy.  I actually feel like writing, like making poetry, like capturing images in words or “on film.” 



We hadn’t intended it, but we accidentally crossed the very high, very narrow, blue bridge into at Sabula into Illinois.  So rather than go back across, we merely continued north up the Illinois side, through the tidy little town of Hanover (“Mallard Capital of the World”), and across the idyllic Apple River and into Galena.

It was fun to visit Galena, though, since it figured so prominently in my novel, The Scrivener’s Tale.  Galena itself is full of ghosts.  Just a brief walk down the street there triggered my psychic impressions.  I wrote in my jotting journal,

“Haunted as Jerome [AZ].  Indians in the hills still—lights at night, local citizens often see unexplained balls of light in the trees.  Civil war conflict?  Indian fighting—hand-to-hand, tomahawk-style.  Glowering spirits, no airy-fairy here, but heavy, dense,  town sits on lead and iron.”

After Galena, we traveled through little towns like Garnalillo—an unlikely name in an area full of German monikers—where we lunched at the Thoma Dairy Bar CafĂ©, one of those places where the real America lives, or the once-idealized America lives on.

Thoma Cafe
Once in Waukon I met with Holliday, then we proceeded to Pike’s Peak.

We arrived after dark, so we haven’t seen the total beauty of this place, but I can feel it.  This is a sacred place and I am happy to see it protected as a park. We are just a couple of miles downriver from the Effigy Mounds National Monument, but I know now why the Indians built their worshipful places here. 

The town of Marquette—at the foot of Pike’s Peak State Park is delightful, too, like Galena but not as touristy.  The Peak itself is named after the same man—Zebulon Pike—as the Pike’s Peak in Colorado, both places being part of his explorations of the west. 

I captured a rare moment on camera--that perfect sunset moment and it felt like dessert after a fabulous meal.

 

I think I will don my sneakers and go for a walk in the three-quarters moonlight, look at the stars and maybe find the scenic overlook. 

Scenic Overlook north of Galena, Iowa side of Mississippi

Monday, September 24, 2012

First RV Excursion



Tomorrow is our first little toodle in the RV. Today our very helpful neighbor Fritz came by and showed us how the propane, water, generator, plumbing, etc. all works, for which we are very grateful.

So, we are headed to northeastern Iowa to the town of Waukon, where I am going to interview Dr. Richard Holliday, a holistic veterinarian of some renown for Acres USA.  “Doc” was first interviewed by Acres in 1974—yes, that’s ’74, as in That 70’s Show. 
Between here and there are a couple of stops:  a bookstore in Dubuque to promote Psycards, and a visit to Effigy Mounds.  Then on to Waukon, find a nice campground nearby, visit Decorah the next day for another bookstore, then home at our leisure—probably on back roads, which are always more interesting.  I remembered to bring all the batteries for the digital camera and digital recorder. 

Our maiden voyage, so to speak.  Just an overnighter, but I’m certain we will learn a lot about what to do and what NOT to do in the RV.  Let’s hope the adventure is simply one of fun and learning and not hard lessons or the kind of adventure that a friend of mine called simply, “bad planning.” (Thanks, Dave!)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Digging up the garden



Birds chirping in such voluminous quantity that they sound like rushing waters, a veritable cascade, waterfall of sound.  Hundreds of them clustered in two oak trees across the street, the trees alive with song.

A small woodpecker tap-tap-taps his way to dinner above my head.  I have my hands in dirt, holding the rhizomes of lilies—daylilies, oriental lilies, who-knows-what lilies.  I hold in my hands life, the life of a plant.  They are tired, crowded and none of them bloomed this year.  It was too hot too soon for me to do any work of significance in the garden. Now it is fall, and almost too hot but not quite, so I am forking them up from the ground where they have grown together so densely I can barely insert the fork, to separate them from one another and give them a chance at new flowering life next year in my daughter’s garden.

Blithely, I tear them apart, thumping them on the brick walkway to shake loose the dirt.  This does not hurt them; instead it stimulates them to grow, to make leaves to drink in the sunshine that will give them the power to bloom.  Ah, the sexuality of plants!  Make love to the sun and give birth to flowers. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The down side of down-sizing




There was a time when I moved eight times in two years.  I was adept at packing, sorting, deciding what to keep and what could go.  This was followed by a period of relative stability—five years in one house.  Then, the crumbling of a marriage, a family, my life, my home, and the ensuing years of uncertainty, shifting sands, and homelessness off and on.

Then here, to this place, this house I bought when everyone told me I couldn’t buy a house (by standard wisdom, they were right, but I managed to buy one anyway).  Here, for thirteen years, we have lived and loved, laughed and lamented, struggled and studied. Here I served my country as a VISTA volunteer, with the American Red Cross during the year of 9/11, obtained four college degrees as I promised myself, and found a place to express who I wanted to be.  Here I rediscovered and redefined myself, and liked what I found and who I have become.  This is the site of my redemption, my renewal.

Now, packing and sorting is nearly a forgotten art.  And I am not moving “up” in a way that will give me more space, or a place to hoard my memories.  We are moving into an RV, a downsizing of literal proportions that, for me, has its own down-side.  Where will I put the books waiting in line to be read?  Where will I store the files I am using to write the articles, the book, the novel, the stories I am currently working or hope to work on soon?  I can’t possibly take everything I will need for any extended period of time—like a year or two.  I can, of course, store it in such a way that I can return to my “well” of goods and documents to replenish a supply, or swap out old and no-longer-needed for what is needed today. 

In this process, I have found that initially there is sorting and packing—say, in one room—then there is more sorting and packing.  Eventually my mind/spirit/knowingness comes back around to the first room, only to discover I can trim even more.  It is a learning process that is occurring more in my mind than anywhere else.  It is also a process of grieving and letting go—of the cats, the garden, the books.  It is a process of blessing and thanking and releasing, then grieving anew, but with less vigor.  Revisit again another day and there is still blessing and thanking and releasing, but the grief is passing, fading in a fit and seeming sort of way.

Today, I packed part of the bedroom—the books that have resided there, some for many years.  And I found that some of the books and things that I kept the last time I moved no longer had any value to me in a personal way.  I’m discarding more than I ever thought possible. And it is surprisingly painless.

Still, there are the books I want to read, but I can’t possibly take them all with me. So, I pack them away in carefully and thoroughly labeled boxes, sensing that when the time comes to unpack them in a new home—wherever that may be—there will still be something to look forward to, still new things and ideas savor and relish, things I will be glad I kept, but also glad I didn’t drag along with me like ankle weights. 

I am grateful, too, that this process of leaving here has taken so long.  It has given me time to process it, to assimilate the idea and the emotions, so that it is not a trauma as so many other changes have been in my life.  Six weeks left, and though there is anxiety about the deadline looming, there is a sense of purpose and control as well and I know that if I listen to myself, trust myself, my feelings, my urges to keep and do and toss and don’t, that all will be well and I will have grown in new and unexpected ways.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Leaving the Land a Little Better Off



I am reading a little-known environmental/farming book called Pleasant Valley, written by a quite prolific writer, Louis Bromfield in 1943.  In it, like Aldo Leopold, he talks about the land he has purchased and although I am only to chapter five, I see where he is going.  He writes:


“I knew in my heart that we as a nation were already much further along the path to destruction than most people knew.  What we needed was a new kind of pioneer, not the sort which cut down the forests and burned off the prairies and raped the land, but pioneers who created new forests and healed and restored the richness of the country…I had a foolish idea that I wanted to be one of that new race of pioneers.”


This give rise to thoughts about my own impact on my land—on this city lot on which I have lived and gardened these past thirteen years.  I like to think I have been a bit of a pioneer here, too.  I have never used one pesticide or herbicide here, except those organic cures like beer for slugs or tobacco juice spray for the plants.  I compost as much as possible, but in a lazy way.  I don’t turn or move my compost, just pack it into compost cages I have in various places in the yard, where it rots or feeds the squirrels as nature decides until the bottoms of the cages yield loose, dark brown, rich new compost-y soil, usually a year or two.  Then I use that soil to repot my houseplants, or to mix with the really strong compost I buy from the City of Davenport’s recycling center to top-dress the garden beds. 

I have made the place into a backyard wildlife habitat.  Everywhere there are birdhouses and niches for wildlife.  We have all sorts of songbirds, crows and ravens and starlings, and even once a red-tailed hawk for a couple of weeks.  We have seen raccoons, and oppossums, chipmunks, snakes, and the ubiquitous squirrel in many colors.

Wildlife habitat sign and daylilies at the base of an oak.

 I planted native flowers in the front where there is sun, and planted understory trees beneath our oaks.  I have added peonies and hostas and other shade-lovers to this oak-guarded property, and I have allowed the back to return (or at least begin its return) to its natural woodland state.  As a result I get lovely woodland flowers each spring, wild roses, and wild strawberries.

I have added my own hand to it, too, with tulips and daffodils, crocuses and hyacinths.  For summer color I have daylilies and Asiatic lilies and Oriental lilies (though I never really learned the difference).  They are crowded now and not flowering as they once did, but I am unable to garden as much as the summers have grown hotter and hotter.

The American redbuds (“Clara Barton,” planted in 2001 when I was a Red Cross Vista volunteer) I planted are now respectable tree-size, and the lilac has swollen to dominate the southeast corner and soars at least twelve feet.  It is too high now for me to even prune anymore. 

I have added groundcovers for the hillside on the south side, to prevent too-rapid runoff that contributes to downstream flooding.  I have ignored the lawn in favor of the creeping charlie, which I think smells better than grass when you mow it, and it has nice little purple flowers in the spring.  I allowed the mint to run rampant, too, and for a few years I had a lovely harvest of mint throughout the summer and fall.  Now, the heat and the drought have defeated even the indefatigable and invasive mint. 

I shall be sad to leave this garden, these trees I have loved so dearly, the Mother Oak in the front and all her sisters, which still, I believe, mourn their missing member that was removed from the backyard some years before we bought the place, and is marked now by a never-fillable sinkhole. 

Instead of concrete walkways, I laid down old screen doors found in an alley and filled them with wood chips I got from a tree-trimming service.  They were glad to dump the chips in my yard, rather than pay to have them disposed of at the recycling center.  So I helped that small business save money and got my mulch for free.  The screen doors placed in this way formed natural and soft walkways, which I directed carefully around the sinkhole grave of the fallen oak.  They lead back into the woodland and wander beneath the magnificent magnolia that puts forth such robust blooms in the spring that by May the back yard looks as though it is covered with giant rose petals as the magnolia blossoms drop.  Enormous pink velvet rose petals. 

Also in May, the lilies of the valley hug the foundation of the house and put forth their tiny delicate white bells that give off such a sweet and subtle fragrance.  In the front, I have placed a bench, now falling apart that I loved to sit on and survey my garden, watch the sunlight dapple its way through the oak canopy that towers over the green roof of the little yellow cottage that has been my home. 

Yes, I am sad to leave.  But I hope that I have left it a better place.  That I have somehow restored a bit of the land’s original dignity and added some aesthetic enhancements that do no harm.  I can only hope now that whoever attains the place at auction will love it and belong here as much as I have.  I leave it in the care of the grand old oak guardians who watched over it before I came and I hope will continue to do so long after I am gone.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Screaming in the Oak



So I'm sitting indoors, with the a/c on, all the doors and windows closed, watching one of my paranormal shows and I hear a sound outside. Now, in my neighborhood, I am used to all sorts of wild sounds, including gunshots, but this---this was different. It was a kind of screaming, but not human screaming. There was a chuff-chuff sound, then screeching, screeching, really loud.

I ran to the front door to see what was going on in my front yard. Despite the porch light I saw nothing, but this unearthly, inhuman, terrifying screeching was coming from the "mother" oak tree in the front of the house. It sounded like a monkey being torn limb from limb by some predatory bird. I grabbed my flashlight and tried to shine it up into the tree, but saw nothing.

Then I heard things fall and what I thought was the sound of something running. Because it was only semi-lit and my vision is not good, I kind of freaked that something might be running toward me--either predator or prey, but that it might be dangerous. And yes, for just one-tenth of one second, I was scared it might be something demonic.

I ran back into the house and turned up the outside lights, hollering at Rick to get UP! off the couch and come hear this. I wanted validation that I wasn't imagining it.

Finally he got up and got his flashlight and pinpointed the eyes of two raccoons in our oak tree--apparently they had been mating! After a Google search, I learned that raccoons mating is a terrible screaming affair, but it was certainly one I had never heard before! Scared the hell out of me.

Well, now I know. Even when something sounds preternatural, it isn't necessarily anything outside of nature. One must strive to keep a cool head. On my behalf, I may have run, but I didn't scream.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Trip to the Hospital

There are few things more unnerving than having your beloved in the hospital.  For me this always triggers fears--of loss, of carrying on with some additional burden, of having to change plans suddenly in an unhappy way, of not having enough resources.  A true test of faith in the goodness of the Universe.

Rick is home and is doing well now, and I won't share all the details, except to say that in a few weeks he will have to have a long (ten hours, I'm told) surgery to repair a previous hernia repair (this will be the seventh such surgery).  Let us hope that the power of seven means an excellent outcome and we won't have to endure this again.  Rick, as always, is cheerful, laughing, joking and busy reassuring me that he isn't leaving this planet just yet. 

I just want to share some photos taken on the two drives to Iowa City to the University of Iowa hospital (took Rick in on Friday, and picked him up on Sunday).

I thought this row of farm implements looked like ducklings.
Looking up from the ground floor
Can you find the photographer in this picture?
This looks like spot lights on an empty stage.
This blue glass bowl is just one of many beautiful works of art throughout the hospital.
The same bowl but I loved the slashes of light that look like knives.
Everywhere in the hospital are these great lines and bones of the building.  This is outside the main entrance.
More art work.  The lobby and main hallways look more like a big airport than a hospital.
Of course, there is more to life than health concerns. There are family and celebration and love and laughter.

Here are Grandpa Rick and Kyle enjoying fireworks on the 4th of July. I love the silhouettes.


Embracing the Woo-Woo: Spiritual Freedom


One of the things that has been on my mind lately is the idea of spiritual freedom.

And indeed it is this idea that led me to the concept of “embrace the woo-woo.”

It was triggered by a story I heard from a friend.  Wendy is a spiritual medium, and a very good one.  Her connection to Spirit is very pure and refined and her reading for me a few weeks ago has made a big difference in my own gifts.

Wendy was doing regular readings at a spa near her home.  She has known the owners for years and has been doing this for some time.  That is, until one of the patrons of the spa—an influential Christian pastor in an evangelical church—threatened to ruin the business if they didn’t rid themselves of this woman who was clearly doing the Devil’s work.  The owners caved and asked my friend to kindly stop her practice—which was the sole means of income for this single mother.

I was outraged.  First of all, this kind of ignorance of spirituality that does not follow an organized institutionalized form of religion as being “of the Devil” is a dangerous superstition directly out of the Dark Ages.  It is right up there with the idea that women are the source of original sin and are therefore evil and inferior. 

And second, no other practitioner of a “recognized” religion could be forced out of work based solely on their religious convictions.  It is clearly a case of discrimination.  And a virulent one at that.

The United States is supposed to be a nation of religious freedom—but it seems that it is only a nation of religious freedom for those who belong to organized religions like Christianity or Judaism.  Buddhism is recognized.  Native American religions had to fight for recognition not too many years ago.  Jainism and the Ba’hai faith are viewed with little suspicion.  Current prejudice against Moslems is at the very least protected under the law, but the prejudice against sole practitioners of direct experiential spirituality is rampant and tolerated.  In fact, New Agers, Wiccans, Druids, shamanic practitioners and others are often mocked, derided, and scorned.

Express a belief in reincarnation at the office, or admit to the checkout girl at the grocery store that you practice astrology, and you will be given the cold shoulder, subjected to eye-rolling and whispers behind hands to co-workers.  Freak.  Nut.  What, you believe in all that woo-woo stuff?

So, following the example of the homosexual community in the 1970s and 80s who embraced the derisive epithet “gay” and made it their banner, I openly declare that I now embrace the woo-woo. 

It is time for those of us in the New Age community (we could use a better term than New Age—a more inclusive term) to stand up for our spiritual freedom, and demand the same respect for our beliefs and our rights to dignity as anyone else.  I exhort all persons who follow a personal and direct spiritual relationship to the Divine to consider that they must begin to stand up for their rights.  (One friend called it coming out of the broom closet.)

Embrace the woo-woo!

(If you want to tell the world that you are in favor of personal spiritual freedom, T-shirts are available at this link:  http://woo-woo.propellshops.com).

About 2012 and the "End of the World"


 
These people who think that 2012 is the end of the world are clearly disconnected from any Spirit truth. It is (most likely) not the end of the world.  It is a pivot point that will mark a shift in human history. 
This idea that some folks have that they need to create a “colony” for survival is ludicrous.  If it is the end of the world, there is nowhere to hide.  If it is not, you have wasted a lot of fear, anxiety, money and energy to avoid something that is NOT going to happen. 
It is the end of the Mayan long-cycle calendar.  But nowhere does it say that the world will come to an end.  There is nothing in the long-cycle that proves the world “ended” 26,000 year ago!  There is no evidence whatsoever that supports the world has ended before.  Certainly the world has experienced shifts--the end of the last Ice Age, for instance.  But the world itself and the people and animals and plants and insects and other spirits who inhabit it continue on.  Life persists.
I’m a real psychic and I want to tell them they are all idiots.
Ask the Jehovah’s witnesses.  Ask the Heaven’s Gate.  Ask the other silly eschatological cults who wait obediently for the end, only to find that in the end, they have only their own power to make their lives mean something. 
I believe in the Grand Divine.  I believe that the Mayan calendar has significance.  I believe that after December of this year, my message will be better received.  Because we will have to acknowledge that we are stuck with making the world a better place on our own.  We are divine expressions of God.  And God knows what he is doing. 
And we can never, no matter how much of a prophet one thinks one is, know the ultimate truth.  We can know glimpses, but as Jesus admonished—Do not believe them, those who tell you salvation is in the mountains or in the desert.  Jesus gains more of my respect every day.  Jesus knew what he was talking about. Jesus eschewed anyone profiting from worship.  He overturned the money-changers tables in the Temple. 
I have no “survival site.”  My survival site is here, on Earth.  If it is the end, then let me be found doing what I am called by Spirit to do. Don’t people know how foolish it is to try to hide from God?  There is no survival shelter that will protect you if it is the end of the world.  There is no preparation one can make—if it is the judgment day—other than to offer up one’s life of caring, believing, being the best person one can be.   No gas mask, no volume of canned goods, no amount of guns or gold, will save you.
What did Jesus say?  About amassing treasure?   Your treasure is in Heaven (i.e., in Spirit).  Anything else will rust, rot, fade away.  I want to say, “Grow up!”  It matters not if you survive physically—what matters is who you are, what you believe, what good you do in the world.  Anything else is a waste of time, energy, and hope.
So, blessed be and bless the world as you go.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mixed Emotions


RV Blog June 14 2012

Mixed emotions.  Truly mixed emotions.  There is sadness at having to give up five of my beloved cats and to tear apart my garden to give or sell the pieces.  I know the bank won’t care for the garden, and I will feel better knowing that others will still have the plants I have loved and cared for. 

So, I walk around the garden and look at what I have wrought.  The lilac is over ten feet tall.  What once was only open lawn is now a lush jungle of hostas, peonies, flowering perennials, flowering understory trees (American redbud, hawthorn, white dogwood, among others).  I have a wishing well, bird feeders, bird baths, planters, milk cans, old barrels, ladders with climbing vines, an herb garden (overgrown now, but the thought is still there).  This is a National Wildlife Federation certified backyard wildlife habitat.  I shall miss my little yellow cottage on the corner lot, set back from the street and surrounded lovingly with century old oak trees. 

This has been a place of succor, of healing, of safety and recovery, of spirituality and service to community.  Rick and I have made it a home filled with love and life, a sanctuary for children and wildlife and pets and songbirds--and fairies.  And I am saddened now, to think of losing it all.
Backyard Wildlife Habitat
The lilac on the corner

But the house is not going away, I am.  I am going away into my own future, my next level of development, my next spiritual mission. My reward for these next weeks of angst and hard work with packing and sorting and down-sizing will be two years of freedom, and of time spent alone with my husband.  Nothing sounds more fun than traveling with Rick.  His joyful nature and his wide-eyed wonder at seeing new places, faces and things is a wonder to behold.  I have never spent time with anyone who makes me as happy and playful as Rick.  It’s good for a sometimes deadly serious person to learn to relax and have fun.  It not only chases the blues away, it absolutely forbids the anxiety to take root.

So there is the freedom—to have fun, to be free from the troublesome details of home ownership, and bills.  Not that RVing is without its costs, too, but they seem fewer—gas, satellite, cell phone, wifi hotspot—less than $200 according to current estimates (except for the gas, which could be whatever we can afford this week!).  Yes, there is eating and camping fees, and whatever maintenance is required (plus propane), but overall I don’t anticipate a lot of financial anxiety—another treasured freedom. 

Then there is the freedom to have silence.  To be unavailable for the crises of others.  To read.  To think.  To write.  To paint or walk in the woods or just nap near the sound of rushing waters.  To see stars at night, to hear the coyotes and the wind in the trees.  To learn something new.

The freedom to see the places I have always wanted to see. To walk labyrinths all over the country, to see a multitude of sacred places, to worship at a hundred different shrines. 
Our Lady of the Snows Shrine near St. Louis
So I am excited, too.  And I feel proud when I look at Intrepid, at our Ford Honey Class C RV.  I found it and negotiated for it and paid for it and it is ours!  (With the title in my name, I feel territorial—it’s MINE!) But of course, mine is ours.

Then there are the reactions of others—almost all happily envious—how they wish they could do this!  So I am reminded that this opportunity is truly a gift, an opportunity on so many levels.  So there is in the end the feeling of gratitude, of true thankfulness to an abundant Universe that has brought me here, now, has afforded me the chance to achieve my goals of education and publication and love. 

I am gratified at the little planning stuff, too.  Where will this live?  Do I need that?  How can I set up a working office with a minimum of objects?  Challenging and scary at the same time.  Can I do this?  Yes, yes, I think I can.

My cup is indeed full—with all of these feelings and more.  And I honor, express and embrace all of them, for they are the stepping stones to my “next” life.

Anticipation


June 12, 2012

Facing the idea of a two-year self-imposed simplification of my life brings mixed feelings.  The main sense is one of relief and relaxation.  To have less to think about, to worry about, to clean and dust and maintain, is freeing.  The second is one of anticipation—I look forward to having time to read, to think, to write, to be creative without the distractions and demands of modern life. 

These are followed closely by fear/anxiety.  What am I doing?  How will I feel safe?  Will I suffer anxiety all the time if I am rootless?  Or will I simply be able to shed my anxieties and embrace the wonderful world of simply living?

I know this:  the more I pack and the less stuff I am surrounded by, the better I am feeling.  This is a spiritual journey above all and no spiritual journey was ever without its contradictions and paradoxes.  In fact the journey is about making your peace with all that.  And learning it experientially, because knowing something in your head and truly knowing it are two different things.

I look forward to a chance to remember how to be me, just me, my original self.