How to Tell if Your House is Haunted.

It can be an unsettling thought to think your house might be haunted. But truly, most houses do have some type of supernatural stuff going on. It really is very common. However, some folks know for sure their house is haunted, because it is obvious. I’ll cover some obvious signs first and then move on to the more subtle ones.

Visibility

I’ve cleared houses where the occupants are certain of haunting, because the ghosts were actually making themselves visible to the people in the house. One such clearing involved a ghost that was appearing out of proverbial thin air and scaring the children. And while this is not the norm for ghosts (most like to keep to themselves), it certainly does happen. The possibility of seeing a ghost mostly depends on the ghost, but also how sensitive the residents are. Some folks are simply more sensitive to this sort of thing and can see ghosts better than others. Some see ghosts in their mind’s eye and some see them with their physical eyes. That particular ghost was mean and arrogant with the goal of amusing himself by scaring people. He fed on the energy of their fear.

Other visible signs to be aware of are vapor, shadows of figures, mist, and movement out of the corner of the eye.

Physicality

When physicality gets added into the haunting mix, things can get a lot more serious, because people can get hurt. But they may also only touch your arm so that you feel as if someone blew air across the hairs of your arm. You may feel as if someone just breathed on the back of your neck. Or you may wake up with unexplained scratches, bruises, bites, or red marks on your body. Again, it will depend on the ghost and their personality. The aforementioned ghost who appeared in front of the children to scare them also tried pushing family members down the stairs.

Some ghosts want to do actual physical harm to humans. One such case happened with a woman who fought nightly with the same male figure in her dreams. For a long time, she thought she was simply having nightmares. He always attack her, straddled her chest, and would try and strangle her, and she spent her nights fighting him off. Her husband slept soundly beside her, none the wiser. She told him about the dreams the next day, but he wrote it off as her just having nightmares. But one night during her battle with the ghost while “dreaming,” the ghost hit her under the chin with his fist. It was quite painful and her head whipped back with the blow, but she still managed to fight him off again that night. But the next day her chin and neck were swollen and bruised. That is finally when she called me. Please don’t wait until it gets to that stage of danger before you call me for help!

And unfortunately, there are also ghosts who have tried to rape people in their sleep. This happened to me personally a few years ago. One night as I was sleeping a man I was attracted to appeared in my dream and began to make love to me. At first I thought it was just a really great dream, but quickly it became obvious that that was not the case. Firstly, it didn’t quite feel like a dream. It had a dark, desperate feeling. Secondly, when I put my hands on his back, his skin felt weird. There were pocks all over his back. Instantly, I knew something was not right. I woke up with a start and began to quickly clear him out. He seemed surprised, and then angry, when I energetically whisked him right out of my space and took him home.

A ghost may also manipulate inanimate physical objects. For instance, lights flicker (or maybe you suddenly have electrical problems in your home), doors and/or windows slam shut or open, electrical/technical issues with computers and phones, battery-operated toys move without batteries in them, objects move, wind chimes move and make noise indoors (where there is no wind), objects disappear and reappear somewhere else, etc.

Noises and Smells

Some ghosts make noises. They knock on walls, doors, and windows. Or they will make a noise that wakes you, but it appears that no one is there, so you assume it was a dream. Some bump around against walls and pipes in attics and basements when they are angry or upset, making sure they get your attention. Some may be vocal, also. You may hear a voice or laughter or a conversation with no one else in the house, and it may be obvious that it did not come from outside. They also may slam doors and windows.

Sometimes it is possible to smell a ghost. That ghost may be communicating by producing a smell that had meaning for them. For example, a woman who always wore a signature perfume in her physical life may smell of that same perfume as a ghost. A ghost who loved gardening may smell like roses. A ghost with dark intent may smell like feces—or like rot, etc.

Unusual Thoughts and/or Dreams (Including Personality Changes)

If you have a ghost living with you, no matter their temperament, they will influence your dreams and thoughts. Thought-sharing is inevitable when you are in close proximity with anyone—including ghosts. You probably don’t consciously realize it, but it happens anyway. Some ghosts influence your dreams and thoughts intentionally, intent on doing harm. Or perhaps they just like amusing themselves by messing with you.

Think about it. If you were a soul that was lost and lonely—your friends and family died years ago—and you don’t really remember who you are anymore, then if would make sense that you would get bored and begin experimenting with your immediate environment and the people in it.

If you or anyone you live with suddenly begins to have weird, dark, or scary dreams and/or nightmares, that is a clear sign that something weird is going on. One such instance was when a woman called me and told me that she and her husband had both had the same very scary sensation at night of being drowned in thick darkness. They both said it didn’t feel like a dream, but like they were weighed down by complete blackness. They both had to struggle to wake up.

Upon tuning in, I felt mental illness was involved with the sensations they had experienced. I asked her if they had had any recent contact with anyone who worked with mental patients in an institution. She told me that they had spent the weekend in a haunted hotel that was built in the 1880’s and used to be a hospital—with a mental ward in the basement. That made sense to me. The ghost had attached itself to them and followed them home (which is very common, by the way).

Please also be aware of anyone you live with that very suddenly becomes suicidal or has a drastic personality change. This is a serious sign and should be addressed as soon as possible. Some suicide victims kill themselves but then don’t realize they are dead, so they will attach to someone living and then negatively influence their thoughts. Their soul may be hanging out, still depressed, not realizing it is dead, and attach to someone healthy and happy.

Feeling Like You are Being Watched

This is one of the less obvious signs of a ghost, but you really should not ignore the feeling—especially if it suddenly starts happening and you’ve never noticed it before. Ghosts and entities of all sorts are everywhere, so it is really not unusual for one of them to follow you and make itself at home. If you have a feeling that someone or something is watching you—even though you can’t see anything—it may be true.

Most ghosts are not perverts, although there are exceptions, of course. Most ghosts are simply lonely and just want to hang out somewhere where they can hide or don’t feel threatened. They may even be embarrassed to watch you and may leave when you are dressing or bathing. It depends on the ghost, how they died, and their personality when they had a physical body.

Pet Behavior

If your pet suddenly begins to act strangely, don’t ignore it. Is your pet suddenly always fascinated by nothing that you can see? Does he/she stare at nothing, as if watching someone/thing invisible? Another sign to watch for is if your pet starts to be afraid of things and places in your home where it has never shown such concern. Your dog may not want to go into certain rooms, for instance, when she has never had problems in that room before. They may become territorial and protective, trying to protect you from the ghost, but because you cannot see the ghost, you may assume they are just misbehaving. Again, this is best judged when you suddenly see a behavioral change that was not there before.

Sudden Stains and Weird Substances

If you notice a stain somewhere in your house—ceiling, walls, floors—that is sudden and is not being caused by obvious physical means (leaks in the roof, etc.), you should take notice and be aware. Some ghosts manifest in interesting ways, and this is one of the common ones. A client called me because she watched a dark stain appear one night above her bead in the ceiling. It moved around as she watched. Once the entity was removed, the stain disappeared.

Also, if you notice weird, unexplained substances appearing and/or dripping on you or things in your house, you should beware. This is a clear sign of paranormal activity.

History of your House

Have you just moved in and noticed weird stuff happening? Did you check the history of the house before you purchased it? Does this house have frequent turnover of residents and/or owners? There are many reasons a house could have ghosts, and traumas and dramas that happened in your house could be one of those reasons. Traumatic deaths of all sorts can leave ghosts attached to a house. Drama and abuse can leave bad energy and ghosts attached to a room or whole house. If you do some research on the house before inhabiting it and find some of this in its history, you may be looking at a haunted house.

The Good News

All of these problems can be fixed. I know you want your dreams to be your dreams and not be influenced by a ghost. I know you really want to buy that house, because you fell in love with it, but are afraid it’s haunted. I know this stuff can be scary. I’ve been doing this work since 1993. Give me a call if you notice any of these signs, because I’m your huckleberry.

The Dirty D-Word: A Letter to My Biological Male Parent after His Death due to Covid-19.

Stock photo from Pexels.com

I have no name for you—nothing that doesn’t stick in my craw, anyway.

I’ve tried many names on you over the years, but nothing fits for long. Mostly now I just try and ignore you, but I still don’t have a name for you that sits well with me.

A few years, way back, I called you “insect,” because I hated insects at that time. I considered them repulsive, creepy, and at least they were squishable. I never again want to touch you or for you to touch me—the same way I felt about all insects.

But then I fell in love with, first, honeybees and then all insects followed, to include a healthy respect and admiration for even the aggressive yellow jacket. I gained too much knowledge about and respect for insects to continue to fear and hate them. As I began to have respect for them and their ways, I had to search for another name for you.

I tried “infant” for a while, because you are so ignorant and selfish and unaware—so base and primitive. That one didn’t last very long, though, because infants are mostly innocent, and in my lifetime, that you most certainly never were.

I briefly considered calling you “motherfucker” or actually more like “mother fucker,” and you were—are–my mother’s fucker. But then, by that definition, you would also have to be a “childfucker,” and, well, they already have a word for that, don’t they?

I only thought about calling you “the sperm donor,” the way I have heard others refer to their own no-good, sorry fathers, but never could—mostly because it made me about throw up, thinking of how you used me as your human garbage can.

“Son of a bitch” only got a few moments of consideration, as I really have little to no beef with your mother, my gra’ma.

I thought about and used the word “garbage” for quite awhile as your name. It turned out to be appropriate for a long time. I stole it from one of my early therapists, who was always saying that someone or something was, “…just a piece of garbage.”

I loved the way that phrase always fell so directly and easily right out of her mouth—landing in my lap like a tidily wrapped package to be scooped up and unpacked later in my own secret of secrets.

How could she say it so fearlessly? Sometimes even with a little giggle hanging off the end of it?

Didn’t she know that this piece of garbage she was talking about had often held my very life, my continued, literal, existence is his hands and at his whim?

I loved to feel her fearlessness, her nonchalance as she said it. It felt reckless to me, though, and I would only join in the (for me, nervous) laughter with her when it was only she and I in her office.

Even then, I was frantically and mentally checking over my shoulder, listening for those terrifying footsteps in the night.

But I loved the way those words strung together came right over and swirled around me, delicious, as I practiced them over and over to myself, liking the rotten image, liking the putrid smell, liking the power of it, the very rightness of it.

And wishing I, like her, could say it—hell, even think it, without fear—without baggage.
Such a longing I had for that indifference.

But then I began composting, and garbage, I discovered, was Earth itself, waiting and longing to be baked back into itself. You don’t even have to turn a compost pile—it may take longer—but you can just pile organic stuff up and it will eventually turn back into dirt; it’s like magic.

I came to love compost and see it for the miracle and magic that it is. Compost is a saving grace and a forgiveness—and that absolutely did not fit for you.

The word “shit/feces” had a short trial run: “shit, shite, govno, merde.” But then there was that whole composting thing again—manure into earth, Mother Nature’s fertilizer. You could never deserve such a regal name as “shit/manure.”

It was too good for you.

These days if I have to refer to you at all—which I mostly avoid, I call you the bmp—all small case. I will not bestow an all-caps acronym on you.

It stands for: biological male parent. The “bmp,” I say, I write.

Kinda sounds like that little store down on the corner, doesn’t it? It sounds way too innocent, but I guess the fact that I don’t use the word “father” or “dad,” or god forbid, that dirty word, “daddy,” gives it away, doesn’t it?

I almost want a different word, a name that really says it all. Do they have this word—perhaps, in another language? Perhaps even in English but of which I am ignorant—I just haven’t found it yet?

For instance, there’s a word from the Yaghan language, “mamihlapinatapai,” which translates as, “looking at each other hoping the other will offer to do something that both parties desire to have done but are unwilling to do themselves.” The Guinness Book of Records lists it as the most succinct word in any language, and it’s regarded as one of the hardest to translate.

I love that word.

Is there a word out there for you? That encompasses that whole, long paragraph of descriptive words that, in short, mean child-abuser-rapist-monster?

I’ve thought that maybe I should just make up a word for you, but then I have a lot of respect for words—in all languages. I can’t insult the sounds, the letters, a word like that. It would be a waste of good letters on you, exquisite breath and sound.

You do not deserve it.

“Daddy” = you don’t deserve the title and by definition, you are not one.

“Daddy” = an obscene, dirty word that evokes revulsion in me.

“Daddy” = a word that until recently, caused bile to rise up into the back of my throat and panic to twist my gut every time I heard it said out loud by some innocent passerby or in a conversation.

I hear it said all over the place—everywhere, and I am envious of its familiar use. I long for it to be wiped clean of connotation. I long for it to be just another innocent word—better yet, a word that actually evokes good feelings, feelings of love.

I hear people walking down the sidewalk talking on their phones saying the D-word. Toddlers asking for reassurance, turning to find him, “Daddy?” they ask, as they turn and look to find him. They are really asking, “Are you still there? Do you still have my back? Can I count on you?”

I tell myself I have forgiven you; because I have done my work, continue to do any more work that comes up—infrequently now—to be healed. I understand some of the “big picture karma” involved, understand that I would not be the compassionate, nonviolent person I am today without that early abuse and neglect.

But if I have truly forgiven you, wouldn’t I want to talk to you, try and bury the proverbial hatchet—make peace before you die?

Because I still want to never see you again.

(This blog post was written before he died and published only after his death.)

What happens Behind the Mask, Stays Behind the Mask

I can tell you

that

every girl-

,and indeed,

boy-child

learned how to cry

quietly

– no telltale noise, no telltale movement.

And you

,too,

know

it is true.


To be sure,

doesn’t everyone

– regardless of age –

know

how to accomplish

the same?


Every woman

caught in

a blinding

moment

of

panic

and rage

at the

system that binds

her

into “female,”

Every man

punching out

against

the undertow tide

of

masculine

that tells

him

that to

cry

is to be

a “sissy?”


2020 taught me

the

beauty

(and privacy)

,indeed the intermittent necessity,

of secretly

and quietly

crying

behind a mask.


Walking in public.

Shopping in a store.

In a socially-distanced meeting.

During a mental health check-up session with a suicidal friend.

Watching a black man being lynched in public, for all the world to see, while the white man doing the lynching arrogantly showed off for the cameras…

How’s Your Pandemic Going?

Me? Well, I’ve been through a lot during the last few months. Most of it good, actually, but some of it not so good. I haven’t written here in a long time—mostly because I have been so busy getting through all that stuff. I plan to write about all of it, but there is so much that I will most likely break it down and not try and cover all this crap in just one post.

Here is the short list of things I’ve been doing/having/navigating since January 2020:

~We got a new minister at the church where I was the office manager

~A sweet almost-friend who was really an acquaintance died

~I discovered some major lumps in my right breast

~I had to have several mammograms, an MRI, and biopsies on said lumps

~The pandemic happened—oy!

~I got to work from home and discovered just how VERY introverted I really am—yay!

~My abusive father to whom I had not spoken in 20 years died of Covid-19

~I found out an old ex (and now friend) of mine is in hospice

~I got laid off from my job

~I had to break up with my church—again

~I’ve had to learn how to get unemployment insurance for the first time in my life

~Holy shit, that’s a lot!

I am ready for the roller coaster to slow down nice and easy like, roll to a gentle stop, and let me off, thank you very much.

More details to follow.

And that’s my photo of my kittle, Mr. Maui. I need soft, fluffy cat photos these days to calm me.

Stay well and strong,

Grace

Small Inspiration.

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Last week I found Ann Wood Handmade and fell in love. And it inspired me to finish a doll I had in my workroom that had been languishing, naked, waiting for some clothes.

Boy, did she finally get some clothes! I drafted tiny patterns and sewed—mostly with a thread and needle and by hand—to outfit her. I even crocheted her a tiny mohair scarf to keep warm. I really like the striped socks.

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I was inspired by Ann Wood’s tiny creatures and their tiny clothes. The doll I finished stands about 15 inches high, but Ann’s littles are LITTLE. Her tiny rag doll fits in the palm of your hand—even more reason to be impressed—and inspired.

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I love her patterns, her ideas—her. Now when I want to feel better, I go to her site and just look around. It is a simple, pretty site. The colors are great. The light is uplifting. It just makes me feel good to meander through her website.

I’m not sure where this new obsession (?) will lead, but I derived such pleasure from the process, that I know it will lead me somewhere…

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I’m especially proud of my (tiny!) hand-stitched buttonhole on the fleece jacket. Look for more dolls—art, rag, etc.—in the future in my Etsy shop. And make sure to check out Ann’s website and blog. You are in for a treat!

 

 

Hope is the Battlefield.

hope

Where Hope is the battlefield,
and wielding the companion swords
of Love and Kindness,
may we remember who we really are:
warriors of love, advancing with honor and integrity
toward understanding, peace
and unity.

A few years ago, I had a visitor where I worked at that time. He was a former coworker of mine from years before, and I liked him and had liked working with him. On this visit, though, I saw a side of him I had never seen before. He was complaining about the world—about young people and their habits, in particular. The longer he spoke, the deeper he seemed to sink into his own rut of despair, hopelessness—and even disgust.

As he spoke, a part of my mind recognized that the rant he was on sounded like every other rant I’d heard in my life that came from an older person looking at the changes in the world around them, angry at how the younger generation was “ruining” the world. Throughout my life (even when I was one of those young people with “radical” ideas) I had heard those type of speeches, and it had come to seem to me that what I was really hearing was:  The world is changing too quickly for my likes, and I’m afraid of the changes happening around me. I don’t understand why we can’t leave well enough alone, and I don’t know how to navigate these changes. Further, I don’t want to.

This is a reoccurring theme throughout history, usually coming from those who are supposedly older and wiser, talking about some “corruption” or other—be they youthful ideas and conduct, or some new-fangled book, movie, game, trend, etc. There seems to always be something “corrupting” us, and these things can take our hope and propel us into fear, worry, disgust, and negativity if we let them.

  1. In the 1790 book Memoirs of the Bloomsgrove Family, Reverend Enos Hitchcock wrote,

The free access which many young people have to romances, novels, and plays has poisoned the mind and corrupted the morals of many a promising youth; and prevented others from improving their minds in useful knowledge. Parents take care to feed their children with wholesome diet; and yet how unconcerned about the provision for the mind, whether they are furnished with salutary food, or with trash, chaff, or poison?

  1. Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and the 1894 essay “The Philosophy of Umbrellas,” could tell a lot about a person based on what they held over their heads when it was raining:

A mendacious (which means, if you’re like me and don’t know the definition of that word, “lying”) umbrella is a sign of great moral degradation. Hypocrisy naturally shelters itself below a silk; while the fast youth goes to visit his religious friends armed with the decent and reputable gingham. May it not be said of the bearers of these inappropriate umbrellas that they go about the streets “with a lie in their right hand”?

And my favorite:

  1. In its July 1859 issue, Scientific American rallied against a wicked game that made both the mind and body weaker—chess:

A pernicious excitement to learn and play chess has spread all over the country, and numerous clubs for practicing this game have been formed in cities and villages…chess is a mere amusement of a very inferior character, which robs the mind of valuable time that might be devoted to nobler acquirements, while it affords no benefit whatever to the body. Chess has acquired a high reputation as being a means to discipline the mind, but persons engaged in sedentary occupations should never practice this cheerless game; they require out-door exercises–not this sort of mental gladiatorship.

The current “younger generation,” no matter what it is up to, is not the problem. The fast-pasted world spinning perpetually all around us, social media, the internet—these are not the problem. The powers that be and what they advocate and instigate and propagate and mandate and itinerate are not the problem. These things have always been, and will likely always be, present. Just take a look at history.

The more I look at hope vs. hopelessness, I can see where I have always believed that outside circumstances weigh the heaviest to tip the balance in the decision on whether to be hopeful or not. Think of the classic line: “The situation seemed hopeless.” But what if hope has nothing to do with the situation, with outside circumstances?

Even out of something so horrific as the Holocaust, come stories from survivors of how love and kindness and humor among the prisoners (and sometimes even from the guards) fostered hope, and how that hope helped them preserve basic human dignity, gave them a reason to keep going, gave them a reason to believe that people really are basically good, even as there was so much horror around them.

So, what did I say to my former co-worker when he visited me that day? I waited patiently while he ranted.

Then… I smiled at him. And as gently as I could I said, “I must respectfully disagree with you. I have such high hopes and trust in the younger generations. I see my beautiful, funny, intelligent daughter in all of them. And I trust her. So, therefore, I trust them. I think they, living in such a global atmosphere, are gonna be the ones to finally unite and heal the world. I have complete faith and trust in them. What I see of them, gives me hope for a much better future on this planet.”

So it is almost the first Sunday of Advent (of which I am not a fan, by the way, as Advent, in the admittedly limited research I’ve done on it, seems to be all about fasting and penitence, and getting rid of my “sins” (which I don’t even believe in) in preparation for “the coming”—either the first coming, the birth of Jesus—or the second coming, when he returns to physical form on Earth, depending on which tradition of Advent you choose to believe in and follow—and some include both). And it is the Sunday of hope. On this day of hope, I offer this thought.

What if hope—hope for myself, hope for you, for democracy, for freedom, for fairness, for the planet, for humanity, for equality, hope that we are not somehow going to pollute ourselves out of existence, hope that we might one day once again have a Broncos team that makes the playoffs—what if hope comes from within and is not influenced by, or subject to, all the “corruptions” and situations outside of me?

What if hope comes from trusting in the goodness in everyone—especially the younger generation, trusting that they, like we were, are smarter and better and healthier than the ones that came before? What if I trust so strongly in the goodness and trustworthiness inside myself, and inside of those around me, that I know FOR SURE that everything will, somehow, be okay, that goodness will prevail? That I really will, not only survive, but that I will thrive, WE will thrive—as individual persons, as a city, as a country, as a world? What if I hold the key to love and hope, as the song says, all in my trembling hand?

Choosing hope is a blind choice, isn’t it? Choosing hope takes faith. And despite all that, what if I simply choose it anyway? And if I can’t reach and find and grasp hope yet (and believe me, I’ve been to that mean roadhouse many a time—most recently the last 11 months of 2019!), what if I employ a friend’s old trick? What if I say to myself, “I’m willing to be willing to have faith”?

I am willing to be willing to have faith.

Suet Recipe and DIY Suet Holder for Winter Bird Feeding.

suet4

We got loads of snow last night (no school, businesses closed, etc.)—and it is still snowing. Which made me realize when I got up this morning that I had yet to get some suet out for the birds. In summer, I certified my backyard as a wildlife habitat. It’s easy to do at the National Wildlife Federation‘s site, if you’re interested.

2019-11-26 11.59.58

And that means that birds and squirrels are accustomed to getting fed and watered in my habitat, making me realize that I was probably dropping the proverbial ball by not having some suet out there. So I did a quick search online and got in the kitchen to make some suet and find a way to feed it.

I came across Rebecca’s Bird Garden idea to put suet in small, shallow jars to hang outside. I had plenty of jars to use. I used two old artichoke heart jars and one shallow Mason jar. And being the farm-raised girl that I am, I had bailing wire lying around, as usual, so I fashioned the handles/hangers out of bailing wire and had almost-instant suet feeders.

The birds have already found the suet and are pretty excited about it. My habitat/backyard (and front yard—I put a couple there too) is quite active today, despite the 15+ inches of snow out there.

suet2

I have a couple of suet feeders outside already, so I froze some of the suet in the bottom of small plastic containers to fit in those. I had some extra suet, so I froze it in containers and then popped them out with the help of a butter knife along the edges and put them in a plastic bag to keep them in the freezer to feed as needed.

suet1

I found lots of recipes and great ideas—and realized I couldn’t follow any one of them exactly with what I had on hand, but I knew I could find plenty of stuff in the pantry to make suet. Here’s the recipe I ended up using:

Suet Recipe

Coconut oil

Peanut butter

Sesame seeds I had in the fridge

Quinoa I had in the pantry (since it’s a seed)

Black sunflower seeds (I have them on hand to fill my bird feeders)

Oats

Almond flour

Cornmeal

Clover seeds (I use for sprouting)

I melted the coconut oil (about 1/2 cup) and peanut butter (about 2 T.) together on low heat, and then took it off the burner and added everything else, stirring it after each addition until it was thick but still pour-able.

I poured a small amount into the bottoms of several plastic containers and packed it down with a rubber spatula. I filled the jars and packed them down too.

I put all the containers in the freezer and let them freeze (only about an hour). Then I took some outside to the suet feeders and hung the jars from some branches. It is not supposed to get above 25 degrees today, so they will all stay frozen out there.

2019-11-26 12.00.40

Birds use a lot of energy just to stay warm in the winter, so the fat in suet is much needed for their survival. Feel free to use any natural oil in your suet that gets solid:  unsalted butter, peanut butter, lard, coconut oil. Also feel free to use all kinds of seeds; cornmeal; small, or chopped, fruits (dried and fresh); etc.

Make sure to not feed dry legumes, however, as they are not the best for birds. So raid your pantry, but do your research first if you have questions about what birds can and will eat.

Get more tips for winter bird feeding at the National Wildlife Federation’s post. I hope you have fun making and feeding suet this winter to help wildlife!

 

 

 

You Are Here.

loss

How did I get here? That’s what I have been asking myself for the last few months. I am on, what I hope is, the tail-end of the year from hell.

In January my partner’s passive aggressive ex blatantly let me know that she was still after him. He and I had been together for over four years at that point. I have been putting up with her bullshit for over four years, hoping she would not only catch a clue, but that she would give up her childish, manipulative, passive aggressive games. To find out so obviously that she was still hanging on and still happy to make my life hell was not a good start to my 2019.

In March we went on a vacation that included air BnB’s with scented plug-ins that inflamed my multiple chemical sensitivities, sending my health into a downward spiral and making it a necessity to wear a mask for several months. I still carry it around with me, because it only takes a few seconds of smelling someone’s synthetic perfume—or even clothes washed in scented laundry detergent—to make my skin start burning and itching and the coughing start.

Soon after returning from our trip, it became evident that it was time for my old cat and dog to be helped into their next life. I couldn’t justify putting one of them down without the other, because they were both in pain—despite both being on pain meds—were both old, and were both peeing all over the house. I was exhausted mentally and physically, trying to take care of them, not stress them out, keep my partner soothed about animals peeing in the house all the time, and trying to take care of myself.

So, in April I called our veterinarian and discussed it with her. She agreed with my sad conclusion and said she’d come to the house so they wouldn’t have to be stressed with any travel.

It was one of the saddest days of my life. I still mourn their leaving and am crying right now as I type. I miss my weenie-boy, Mr. Stormy, and Miss Bella the crazy, one-eyed, feral, pirate cat.

In May, I received a nasty email from someone who had never had the decency or balls to confront me in person, like an adult, to tell me about all the (apparently) horrible things I’d done to her. She told me how bad a person I am/was and then proceeded to tell me what I should do to remedy my many problems. She advised that for the sake of everyone around me, I should quit my job and not inflict myself upon them anymore.

She wrote it as a nice, this-is-for-your-own-good type of letter—you know, that passive aggressive, “sweet” style that ensures that anyone besides me reading it would assume she really did have my best interest at heart. I never responded, but it sent me into a new tailspin.

Meanwhile, I was still grieving the loss of my pets, and my health was still suffering. I couldn’t seem to get back to my own “normal” on the scent issue. Every little sniff of perfume, laundry detergent (clothes folks were wearing), cologne, scented plug-in, etc. sent me back down the proverbial rabbit hole. I ended up having to wear my mask almost all the time when out in public (this is not a fun thing to do, trust me).

Another “meanwhile” came in the form of having to navigate constant big transitions at work this year—with dangerous undercurrents of mistrust and, what still feels like, hate. The stress of having people always think the worst of me has taken a huge toll on my life, happiness, and confidence.

As fallout from losing my pets, in the summer I visited an ex from years ago to get to see his cat—one of Miss Bella’s kittens from years ago. I just needed to be in the presence of something Bella had created. I missed having pets so much. The house felt so empty and weird, and I couldn’t seem to get over how empty my life felt without my fur babies.

Mr. Maui lived with my daughter and me until he was about four years old, then we asked my ex if he wanted to take him. I found out when I visited him that my ex’s early-onset dementia had progressed to such a state that he did not recognize me. A few weeks later, I found out he was being moved out of his home of 40 years to a memory care facility, and it broke my heart to think of him losing his life that way. I began grieving again—or maybe just added another loss to the pile.

Then in August, my partner of five years told me he was going through what looked and sounded like a personal existential crisis. He began examining his life, and began the exhausting work of figuring out what he needs to do with himself, his life, what his purpose is, etc., to the degree that we are not living together, so that he has the space and time to figure things out—even though he continually (in the face of my over the proverbial top, stressed-out worrying) assures me that we are still a couple.

Despite his assurances, my (normal for women) over-active amygdala continues to talk me into losing faith, and I have difficulty believing anything positive right now.

It is October now, and I ride my bike as much, as long, and as far as I can each day to keep from imploding, to keep from disappearing. When in doubt, pedal it out, right? That has worked for me for years. It is still a good practice. Last week while riding the Poudre Trail, the question surfaced again, “How did I get here?”

How did I let my life slip into this unhappy, unhealthy, unnatural state? I must have been so very oblivious and/or asleep to have let this happen on this large of a scale. I know I am responsible for my life, but it feels like, somewhere along the way, I handed the tiller over to someone who doesn’t give a fuck about all those sandbars and rocks up ahead in this stormy, choppy sea. I’ve been crashing into them for months now, limping along trying to survive each hit, each ding, each rupture. I’m taking on too water.

I am tired. I don’t sleep well—or I sleep way too much. I am raw and stressed; I cry all the time. I am fearful. I am depressed. It takes gargantuan effort to reply to normal, simple, everyday questions without shattering and flying into tiny little shards of grief, sadness, anger, oblivion, & regret:  the shrapnel of too much stress for way too long without a break and no relief in sight.

I spend my time alternating between working my ass off to stay busy and preoccupied, numbing-out by watching too much Netflix, working on my own shit when I’m able (self-hypnosis, BWRT, EFT, EMDR, I’d like to buy a vowel, Alex), trying to meditate and remember those things (where are they?!) that make me happy, not giving a shit what anyone thinks about anything I do or say, caring way too much about what everyone thinks about what I say and do, wanting to move far away and try that stupid geographical fix thing (which everyone knows does not work), breathing, sleeping as much as possible, staying home as much as possible, going out to do things I (might) love to do, (did I mention the crying thing?), obsessively watching the movie Interstellar, and talking to amazing girlfriends who are sweet and funny and make me laugh—even at myself.

How did I get here?

While pedaling, the answer came, “It doesn’t matter HOW you got here. YOU ARE HERE. How are you going to get OUT of here? That is the important question now.”

I saw myself inside my head under a big, black, not-to-proportion “You are here” arrow on a directional map.

Yes, there I am. Under that big arrow. You are here. How the fuck am I gonna get out of here? I don’t know.

Yet.

“That’s me in the corner. That’s me in the spotlight, losing my religion.”  ~REM, Out of Time

Dementia Grief.

maui

Mr. Maui

What if you woke up one day and a bunch of your friends showed up unannounced to take you out for the day to have fun, and then at the end of the day they took you to a totally different place, and told you that this is where you would be living from now on and that you could not return to your old life?

This is what just happened to a long-time friend of mine. He has early-onset dementia and has been struggling to live in the “regular” world for a while. He has steadily become more forgetful in the past few years, to the point of not even remembering me the last time I went to visit him.

I totally understand and support the move his sisters and friends carefully arranged for his benefit. And I know absolutely that he will be taken care of. I feel better about him now, knowing he is in a memory care facility that will ensure his comfort and safety.

And I wonder how much he understands and remembers about his former life. Does he realize that he is never going back to the house he has owned for over 40 years; does he remember his cat of eight years, and does he know they will likely not see each other again? His house is being cleaned to get ready for an estate sale. Then the house itself will be sold.

What does he know and not know? What does he remember and not? That is the insidious nature of dementia, isn’t it? And everyone knows, according to the standard safe practices of our day, that the best thing for those with dementia is to, at some point, make sure the dementia-sufferer is kept as safe and as happy as possible.

When I last saw him, he was quite frustrated and agitated. He was paranoid, as anyone would be, I suppose, who can’t remember people and events. I mean if you can’t remember where you put your shoes, and you have looked everywhere, then maybe you really would begin to think that someone is coming into your house to take your shoes. What other explanation would there be if you can’t remember that you can’t remember, if you are trusting yourself, but don’t remember that you can’t trust yourself anymore?

I have a deep fear of dementia, I think, because that last paragraph gives me the actual chills. And we, ourselves, at some point, would never really know if we have dementia or not, would we? We are at the mercy of those around us to tell us what is going on. And that involves great trust, doesn’t it?

Wow.

He is an introvert, and he valued living by himself, spending whole days in silence, alone. My sincere hope for him at this point is that he actually doesn’t remember too much. Because if he does, I know he is grieving mightily. If he remembers too much, then I know he is grieving the loss of his privacy, his home, his kitty, his huge workshop with all of his wood-working equipment, and his life.

Maybe it’s just me grieving for him. Maybe – hopefully – it’s just me that is trying to fill the hole in the universe that was his life. Maybe. I hope. I pray.

Meanwhile, my kitty has been returned. He went to live with my friend about 8 years ago when Maui was 5 years old. And now he is back with me. I lost my last pet in April, and now Maui is filling the house with lovely, sweet kitty energy again. I feel him missing my friend, so I cuddle him close and leave my tears in his fur. Life cycles around and around us, doesn’t it?

The trick is, can we ride that cycle with grace and humor and acceptance, or do we fight it and make ourselves and everyone around us miserable?

I don’t know what to do right now except mourn for my friend and be happy and relieved for him all at the same time. The Universe marches on, and time rushes at us like a metal measuring tape rushing back to its little shiny metal house we’re holding, rolling itself up at high speed, ready to snap off a finger if we’re not careful.

Godspeed, Stephen.

Listening to Sorrow.

dreams

Sorrow is a weird thing. It can come from so many sources—conscious and not—and blindside you with a smack to the back of the head before you can figure out what is happening.

Recently I was rereading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Near the end of the book she describes a wonderful meditation. Every time I read the book, I do some form of that meditation, because it is so informative.

She describes how she sat in silence and asked all of her sorrows to come and present themselves to her. She let them come, one by one, listening to them, feeling the sorrow as if each were happening for the first time. Sorrows came from her entire lifetime.

She listened to each and then told each one, “I hear you. I see you. Now come into my heart and rest.” And each sorrow moved into her heart. She then went through all her anger, all of her shame.

It’s a very informative, enlightening meditation. It is not an easy one to do, but I highly recommend it.

So I began with sorrow, as usual. I asked them to line up and present themselves. One by one, they came, telling me of their pain, the grief and sadness. They started in my childhood and marched forward in time. The death of my sister, my divorce, the death of pets…

One relived the grief of giving my daughter away in marriage a year ago. Because even though I love her husband as my own son, I still feel pain and sorrow at “losing” my only daughter. And then a pain came that I couldn’t readily identify. It took me a few seconds to recognize it.

It was the pain of being hated. That surprised me. I hadn’t expected to feel pain at being hated.

Brene Brown talks about how we are hardwired for connection and belonging, and how even though many of us talk about how we don’t give a shit what anyone else thinks, that is not what we are wired for. It’s important to have a few folks whose opinions we do care about.

So I sat with the sorrow of being hated, listened in surprise at the pain. There was a lot of pain.

I’ve been having to deal with a lot of hate coming my way lately. And I’ve been trying to brush it off, to sink inside myself in response to find the stillness, the peace that knows no hate. I thought it was working. Apparently, and unbeknownst to me, a part of me was grieving despite my best efforts to “rise above it all.”

I listened to Jeannie Zandi talk on Sunday about how we, as humans, often try to worm our way up or down in response to hate, a crisis, the natural “wreak” of human life. Up, to rise above the fray of humanness and become as close to god-like as we can; or down, to vilify our actions, thoughts, and emotions as “sinful” or lacking in faith in some way.

Which is exactly what I been trying my best to do:  worming my way up to hopefully not feel the sorrow of being hated. It is very interesting to me that it was not working. I also find it interesting that I was grieving on a level that my conscious mind was not aware of. The worming up was not reaching my heart of proverbial hearts; it was only my mind that believed it.

So now I breath into that sorrow, asking it to reveal itself to me. I invite it into my heart to rest. I promise it respite, and I promise it I will not try to rise above an issue that needs my attention.

I also make a promise to myself: speak up to the haters. Because even though I cannot stop the haters, I can voice my discontent. I can tell the haters to fuck off. I can be a human with a need to belong, a need to connect—a human that feels pain at being hated. I can feel the pain. Then I can turn to those who love me, knowing I am loved, knowing I belong. And also knowing I have not “sinned” or been unfaithful.

This human condition is sloppy at best. Sublime occasionally. Sucky quite often. We are not gods; we are not demons.

In response to my new promise to myself, I sent an email to a long-time hater, telling her I was tired of her disrespect and passive aggressive behavior toward me. I told her stop it immediately. I don’t know if she will stop or not. I do know that a whole world of anger lifted off of me when I clicked “send,” and I felt free.