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04 January 2012 @ 02:14 am
The new year makes most of us take stock of what is working and what isn't. For the most part, this "building a platform" thing is working great for me. I've enjoyed meeting so many new and interesting people. I've been challenged - in a good way - by the need to come up with content, and I'm writing more days than not.

A while back, I made a video, which required me to learn YouTube. Just lately, I've branched out to Twitter - which still feels alien to me, but I'm getting the hang of it. Besides that, I've joined a 366-day photo challenge at FLickr, and I will be starting a creepy / eerie / sometimes melancholy-themed Pinterest board soon.

I've worked out some guidelines for myself in relation to social media. My plan:

  • post video as needed for paranormal investigation work (maybe once a month or so)
  • blog 2-4 times per week (unless it's one of my seasonal NaBloPoMonths)
  • do a quick bit o' creepiness update to my Facebook pages and Tumblr once a day (most days)
  • check in with Twitter 3-4 times a day, when I take SHORT breaks from my other work
  • add content to Pinterest as I find (or--fingers crossed--make) great images & links

I had to devise a structure for platforming - now that the worst of the learning-new-things stage is past - so that I can get back to spending the majority of my available time doing paranormal investigations and actually writing. (And revising, and critiquing others, so they will critique my work in turn.)

Thus ends the nervous preamble leading up to this announcement: I will be doing my blogging, from now on, at Wordpress. Mirroring the kind of content I like to post (which is usually full of links) is too time-consuming ... and my head is going to explode If I kee trying to keep all the slightly-varying control systems straight. 

After a good two month trial of blogging here, as well as at Blogger, Tumblr and Wordpress, I find that I am most comfortable at Wordpress. 

I didn't feel much angst posting a version of this note over at Blogger, because I have been able to at least keep up with their blogs using Google Reader. (Though I was no better there than here about getting my posts mirrored in a timely fashion.) At LiveJournal, it's a different story. I can't seem to subscribe using a reader, probably because friends' lists work differently than a regular blog.

I kept my very first journal here at LJ - some of you knew me when. It pains me that I can't seem to keep up. I've hardly made it in to read your posts, and that just sucks. I hope to fix that. My plan is to strip down my friend list to the minimum, and check it just like I check Google reader, but I won't be seeking new connections. And I won't be posting entires here.

This is my invitation for you to follow me over to my now one and only blog address. Those of you who don't use a reader, please consider liking my Facebook page - I always post a link to my new posts there. (Besides, the little stuff I share there is kinda fun.) All my contact information is listed below.



YouTube ~ http://www.youtube.com/user/RRudeParanormalist<

Tumblr ~ http://theparanormalist.tumblr.com/ (I still have to revamp my approach here, so it might not be current for a little while yet.)

Twitter ~ @RRudeParanormal

Pinterest ~ pending (It will be posted at Wordpress when I get it set up.)
I’ve been a busy beginner-paranormalist these last couple of days. On Sunday afternoon, I gathered my ghost investigation equipment before heading out to Anoka’s Oakwood Cemetery. There, I practiced using all of my tools … except the digital voice recorder – which I forgot I had with me. The laser thermometer and the EMF meter are simple, seemingly foolproof, tools; I didn’t spend much time fussing with them during this dry run. I concentrated, instead, on overcoming my fear of my husband’s expensive camera. Once I tamed that, learning my son’s cheap digital video camera was a cinch.

Yes, I enjoyed spending the afternoon wandering the graveyard. No, nothing even vaguely paranormal occurred.
On Sunday night, I figured out how to transfer all the digital data I’d collected to the computer … and how to organize it in a way that makes sense to me. I went to bed pondering what I could do with it.

I spent the daylight hours of Monday learning Twitter … well, getting started in Twitter – I’m sure I have much more to learn. Tweet me: @RRudeParanormal, if you are so inclined 

Monday evening, I settled in at the computer with a program called Windows Live Movie Maker. Determined to figure out how to make a slideshow, I took a deep breath and dived in. Seven hours later, I surfaced with this one minute and forty-seven second “movie”.


Yep, it has a typo. I would like to fine-tune the title. And there are a couple of time adjustments I’d like to make. (I don’t know how I failed to notice those problems in any one of the dozens of times I reviewed and tweaked the damn thing before hitting save – but I did.) I am, however, valiantly resisting the urge to go back in to make the fixes. Sometimes it’s best to just let. it. go. I am going to have to be very careful – I can’t afford to spend too many hours playing with this wonderful new toy if I intend to maintain a healthy writing practice.

Still, I can’t wait to go get more footage (maybe even of something interesting) so I can make better, stronger, longer movies.

16 December 2011 @ 03:10 am
A well-worn path runs around the circumference of the five-plus acre dog park we visit on Thursdays. From the  dog-lock (double gate), my boxer-cross sighted his kind at the north end of the park. I unsnapped his leash and released him from his impatient heel. His paws kicked up a low cloud of gravel dust as he raced toward them. The pack he joined was ranging over the tussocks and slopes that bordered the path but, from my vantage point, I could see they never left the orbit of the cluster of owners who were trudging anti-clockwise around the perimeter of the park.

At first, I hurried along in my dog’s wake, trying to catch up to the cluster. The biting north wind stole my breath. When I paused to tug the hood of my sweatshirt from under my coat collar, a radical thought struck me: I didn’t have to follow the path. I could instead cut across the frozen but snow-less meadow, and meet the group after they swung southward again.

The dogs noticed me immediately, of course. For just a heartbeat, I swear, they considered. Then – led by my dog and a sleek German Shepard – they came leaping into the un-trampled grass. Even the smallest dog – a beagle I think – plunged in. He bayed as he chased his long-legged companions.

The canines didn’t come to me. They investigated an iced-over puddle, a prickly-looking bush and a big stick – which inspired an enthusiastic game of keep away.

Not a single human left the path.

It wasn’t long before the calling and whistling began. One by one, the dogs returned to their owners. Having crossed the meadow, I fell into line with my dog.

Tonight, I’m wondering why I did that.

This photo was actually taken the night
our very good, very strong, dog learned to pull a sled.


I just finished reading Into the Shadows – America’s Unsolved Mysteries and Tales of the Unexpected, by Troy Taylor. As a veteran reader of books on the paranormal, I can say this collection of stories is the best I’ve discovered. Often the actual writing in such books is barely tolerable, but Mr. Taylor’s work is clean, his voice is personable, and his tone is not overwrought. One story, in particular, fascinated me.

In Missouri, in 1913, a childless, 30 year old housewife named Pearl Curren regularly met for afternoon tea with her mother and a neighbor. On July 18th the women decided to experiment with a Ouija board – a gadget that was all the rage in the spiritualism-friendly era. A presence which introduced itself as Patience Worth came through. Over the next weeks, Patience showed a particular affinity for Pearl. Eventually, Pearl was able to dispense with the slow Ouija board, and simply recite and/or write that which Patience wanted to share.

And Patience wanted to share a lot – over the course of the next twenty-five years, she dictated personal communications, essays, a play, several novels and over 5,000 poems. Much of her work was critically acclaimed.

*Lullaby – Patience Worth
Dream, dream thou flesh of me!
Dream thou next my breast.
Dream, dream and coax the stars
To light thee at thy rest.
Sleep, sleep, thou breath of Him
Who watcheth thee and me.
Dream, dream and dreaming,
Coax that He shall see.
Rest, rest thou fairy form
That presseth soft my breat.
Rest, rest and nestle warm,
And rest and rest and rest.

The story becomes particularly interesting when the pre-Patience life of Pearl Curren is examined. By all accounts, she was an “indifferent student”, with no particular knowledge of history nor attraction to spiritualism or writing.

Of course I’ve been all over the web, but I would say the best source for more information and further details is over at Smithsonian.com.

By the way, I would never touch a Oujia board. I hesitated to even post a picture. ‘Too many horror novels & movies for me, I guess.

*I found the text of this poem at Google Books. It was in the public domain title Antholgy of magazine verse.

In recent days, I have been struggling against a depression spiral, complicated by a nasty cold. (Which may be probably is a manifestation of my mood swing – yes, I can make myself physically sick.)  I’m actually drafting a post about the experience, but tonight I just wanted to pop in, reconnect and share an invitation.

While I’ve been moping about, sneezing, sleeping, and having vivid nightmares about being forced to be become a captive superhero, Diana at dianaprichard.com has been turning a shared, writerly dream into a reality. Check it out (by clicking the picture.)

Join us.
11 December 2011 @ 02:58 pm
Originally posted at main blog on December 3rd.

Last night, instead of watching another great horror flick, I settled onto the sofa – properly equipped with a cup of tea and my knitting – to enjoy a Miss Marple mystery. As my cats passive-aggressively dueled for my lap-space, and my dog warmed my feet, I added another 2-3 inches to the baby blanket I’m hoping to finish before Solstice eve. (One of my goals is to knit an item for charity each season. This one, I think, will be dropped off at the hospital with a request that it be given to the next baby born to a young single mother.) When the movie finished, I went to sleep. It was not yet three o’clock in the morning.

Last night was a portent of things to come. My blog is likely to … soften a bit in the next month – for two reasons:

1) Despite my general dislike of the yuletide season, I am not entirely immune to the warm fuzziness of Christmastime, with its sentimental music, uplifting movies, and incessant good cheer.

2) My autumnal bout of hypomania has all but faded away. Coming to this realization so quietly is a good thing. By acknowledging and accepting what is happening, I am less likely to spiral into a depression. With luck, I will simply shift gears and become more domestic for a little while.

This month I will cook and putter more. I will stay home as much as possible. I will dote on and pet my menfolk as much as they will allow. I will make a point of taking the dog for a walk in the brightest part of the day. When the real cold comes, I will fret about the chickens and the feral cats, and make warm meals for them. (A grain and veggie mash for the hens, a kibble and gravy mush for the felines.) Despite my resolution to not fuss over the holiday, I will probably decorate something with twinkle lights. I will listen to classic standards by the likes of Mel Tormé and Bing Crosby. I will watch White Christmas. Probably more than once. Because it features the incomparable song and dance man, Danny Kaye.

But I will also re-read Stephen King’s It, as I have done, during winter break, for the past 25 years. And, if I follow my pattern, I will spend more time in my closet-office, with the door closed, wearing my headphones, listening to Midnight Syndicate, writing about witches and ghosts, pretending it is whatever season my characters are living in.

Here in the blog, I might not write about haunts and horror as much, but my interests will remain skewed toward the mysterious and the magical. In that vein, let me point you to a wonderful web find: Edinburgh’s mysterious book sculptures.

Watch a news clip about the sculptures by clicking HERE.

I’d recommend that you search the web yourself for more information. I poked around enough to learn that a total of ten sculptures were gifted to libraries in Edinburgh, and that the artist has indicated she is female. I don’t really want to know any more than that – I prefer that some mystery remains.
Originally posted at main blog on November 30th.

I have less than an hour to get something down today. I feel compelled to write something “really good” which isn’t helping. I could have started writing an hour ago, but I’ve been reading everyone else’s posts instead of coming up with something to say. I suppose it’s best to just let that go, and finish this the way it wants to be finished.

I should be pretty tickled with how well this has gone. It was nice that launching my blog coincided with the challenge. NaBloPoMo provided just enough pressure to get me to really dive into the blogosphere and figure things outs. I am pleased I managed to do ANYTHING for 30 days straight. (Consistency is not my strong suit.) I’ve made new friends. Overall, it’s been a good experience, even when it was tough to force myself to deal with the commitment.

Despite all those positives, I’m feeling a little sad and lost. What happens tomorrow?
I know only two things for sure:

1) On my 101 in 1001 list, item # 48 says: successfully complete NaBloPoMo once each season. Next year, I’ll do the autumn run in October – which should be pretty darn easy, considering my theme.

2) I’m hoping to participate in National Novel Progress Month for December, and beyond. Even if the group doesn’t tackle the task again, I will absolutely set a goal for myself and track my progress.

Oh. I know one more thing:

BONUS THOUGHT) I will be writing – something, somewhere – tomorrow. Because that’s what I do.
So. That’s it. Congratulations to everyone who finished any of the November writing challenges. And congratulations to everyone who tried.

Originally posted at main blog on November 29th.

I took my dog out for his last walk of the night just now, but I was feeling lazy. I snapped him to a long-line (40+ feet) and let him wander off into the darkness. I stood in the middle of the extraordinarily quiet yard, gazing up at the stars.

At first, he calmly took care of business. Then he found a stick that he could toss for himself. I knew this, not because I could see him in the pitch black beyond the cozy glow cast by the porch light, but because I could hear him romping in the lawn’s thick layer of dry leaves. When he crossed from the mowed yard into the meadow, all the crunching and crackling ceased. The night’s silence was broken only by the sighs of the tall, soft meadow grass as he swished through it. After a while, he started tugging a bit too much, indicating to me that he was actively running back and forth.

Not wanting him to get tangled around any of the many trees and posts in our yard, I positioned myself so that his line ran straight and taut from where I stood to where he played. Then I called his name. By the sound of it, he responded by coming out of the tall grass fast, crushing leaves and snapping twigs as he bounded toward me. In a few strides, I could see him, running flat out and low slung, like some sort of Savannah predator. I was about to brace for impact when I heard something else crashing through the leaves beyond him. It sounded like it was a few yards behind, but it was drawing closer. I strained into the gloom, trying to see what creature could possibly be fast enough to gain on my athletic boxer-cross. Whatever it was had to be small, because I could see nothing.

One of the feral cats? No. They run away. A fox? Only if it’s rabid – it would have to be crazy to chase my powerfully built dog. Something … else?

My heartbeat sped up. I urged my dog to come faster. I turned to run toward the house. Then my very-good-dog leapt into the space next to me, happy that I was obviously going to play with him. His panting and prancing was the only sound I could hear. The pursuing creature had stopped … in fact, had disappeared.

It was a few heartbeats later that I realized what I had heard. The long-line was lying in a narrow curve that stretched from hand, out toward the meadow, then back to my dog’s collar. This curve had been dragging through the leaves behind him as he ran.

Maybe I should cut back on the horror movies a little.

This is my boy when he was only 17 weeks old.

He’s much bigger now :)
Originally posted at main blog on November 28th.

Recently, two stories of night visitations have been related here at The Paranormalist. (My own and that of my great niece.) Tonight, lets talk about a different kind of visitation.

I wrote about my great-grandmother and my grandmother, Marie, in the post The Paranormalist’s Family Album: Jack, Marie & Edward, with guns – 1910s. Marie’s story – unlike her mother’s – is well known to our family. She was sent from Norway to American, with her brother Jack, because her mother was dying, to live with siblings from her mother’s previous marriage.

The first half-sister who took in the children was not kind. There are stories of Marie being stripped of the nice things she had with her when she arrived in Minnesota, and of being forced to sell a certain number of apples before she could return home for the evening.

Time passed. Stories of the children’s mistreatment made their way to northern Minnesota, where Edward and another adult half-sister lived. This half-sister went to fetch Jack and Marie while they were still young teens. A few good years followed. Marie learned the womanly arts, like sewing and cooking. She went to the local barn dances. She fell in love with a German boy, John, who had a wild reputation (for his time.) She married him and moved to his homestead. Then things went horribly wrong.

By most accounts, the abuse was harsh and frequent. The marriage yielded three children. Marie’s only son took the brunt of John’s legendary temper, but the girls did not escape unscathed. (One afternoon John speared my mother through the thigh with a pitchfork, because she wasn’t packing the hay wagon tightly enough. She wasn’t yet twelve years old at the time.) Though Marie adored her children, she was not able to protect them. Sometimes she was able to deflect John’s rage from them to herself.
One by one, the children ran away. Eventually, the couple sold the farm and moved to a small house in town. Marie became a licensed practical nurse. She worked with The Sisters, as she liked to say. She settled into a rough peace with an aging John.

Very late in her life, Marie divorced John and came to live with my mother and me. She was in her eighties, I was in my late teens. She didn’t take up much room. She just needed a place to keep a few few delicate things – her nursing pin, her sewing basket, her china cup – she had brought with her, from the little house she had shared with John. It was easy to make her happy. She enjoyed a very small scoop of vanilla ice cream, in a pretty dish, at the end of each day. She died of heart failure before I was graduated from high school.

Just a year later, I became pregnant. When my daughter was born I became a single mother. My family remodeled the basement of my mother’s home into a nice little apartment. My daughter and I lived there for four years.

By the time my girl was a year and a half old, she was frequently talking about her friend, “Tee-tee”. Tee-tee liked to have tea parties. Tee-tee liked soft, pretty things. Tee-tee was very quiet. Before long, the imaginary friend faded from my daughter’s life, but every once in a while she would reminisce about spending time with the little woman, whom she now referred to as Grandma Teacup.

It wasn’t until years later that my daughter first saw a photograph of Marie as an elderly woman.

You already know the end of this story, don’t you?

I’m sorry I don’t have a way to upload a picture of Marie tonight, but I will when my scanner is working again.

03 December 2011 @ 02:28 pm

image credit: Miljoshi and Fresheneesz

The moon was new on Friday night. Right now, it is a waxing crescent. I care about this because I’ve been using the lunar phases as my new measurement of time. When the moon was last new, I committed to two daily tasks: meditating (for at least 10 minutes) and  using two online trackers, (one to monitor my mood fluctuations and one to keep account of my routine chores.)

I’m a veteran of dozens of organizational systems, from Getting Things Done to FlyLady.net. I keep lists for everything, including my 101 things in 1001 days list. (Which is now about 6% complete.) It feels like my entire adult life has been about learning to manage my time and energy … which is not unusual for a bipolar. My biggest obstacle to effective self-management has always been my resistance to routine and repetition. This is a problem for a mother, a home school facilitator and a writer.

Common wisdom dictates that it take 21 days to establish a new habit. Or six months. Or a year and a day. Depending on what self-improvement guru you subscribe to. Obviously, there is no magic number. The key, I believe is to choose a time frame that makes sense to you.

I use Google calendar religiously. I track many of my practical goals in terms of months, weeks days and hours. Some personal tasks though – like meditation and mood management – don’t seem to want to fit inside those neat, even boxes you can find in a daily planner.

So. For the entire last cycle of the moon – from new through full and around to new again – I managed to persuade myself to honor my commitment to my two goals – even when I was dead tired. It helped that I could step outside, breathe, and look up into the sky – where Luna was showing me how far I’d already come.

In the current cycle, I will add daily yoga or walking into my day. I’ll let you know how it went, when the moon goes dark again.