Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dewey's House

Dewey's Home

(as published in the Blue Island FORUM on 11/3/10)

by Jude Coyle

I love writing, history, and telling good old fashion ghost stories, and a town as old as Blue Island is a great resource. So each year I try to provide the FORUM one Blue Island ghost story at Halloween.

Last year was incredible. Ursula Bielski, in cooperation of the Library, the Historical Society, the FORUM and the Chamber, spent one September afternoon interviewing residents about activity in their homes. Ursula is the founder of Chicago Hauntings, Inc., and the author of several books about Chicago ghost lore, including Chicago Haunts, More Chicago Haunts and Chicago Haunts 3. I had the honor of tagging along and recording the behind the scenes activities for the FORUM.

I also got a chance to meet two born and bred Blue Islanders, whom I called Faith and Crystal. These ladies are sensitive to their surroundings, and were quite helpful in establishing what the homeowners were experiencing.

Candi also participated. She's taken some unusual photographs which were used in the special filmed that day for WDDE.

This year I wanted to tell another great story, but there was no way to top last year's program. After several false starts, I asked Sandy, my editor, if I could interview Faith and Crystal again. She suggested that I contact a man I'll call Dewey. He had recently hosted a paranormal group in his home.

He said, “Sure. But I'd really love to have Faith and Crystal check my home out.” So we made arrangements.

Faith, Candi and I arrived simultaneously. Where Candi and I met on the sidewalk, Faith passed us by and continued on towards the church next store. She stopped half way between the two buildings, and then waved us over. “I'm being called over this way,” she said. “There's energy here.”

What kind of energy?” I asked as I dug in my purse for my tape recorder.

I feel like there are a lot of people here, both Black and White. And they're trying to tell us something.” She went on to explain that they came from two eras, the 1950's and the 1800's, and they came to spread joy, as there is too much negativity in the world. I asked if this was something that the world is experiencing now, or were they addressing negativity in general. “Some are saying the negativity is of today's world and others are saying in general.”

The people wearing '50's garb were the descendents of the older people. They were members of a church community, and their love was radiating outward, towards their neighbors. They were attached to the church property, although not the church itself. They belonged to a universal, all inclusive church. In fact, Faith told me that she saw a different building on this property.

I handed Candi a camera and told her to stick with Faith. If she felt something, please take a photo.

Let me qualify my beliefs. Anyone can make claims, but that doesn't make anything true. I was skeptical upon meeting Faith and Crystal, but vowed I'd keep my mind open. I talked to Faith mostly. Without going into details, let me just say that there were two incidents that morning last year when she told me things about my life that she couldn't have known unless she lived in my house and dealt with me on a day to day basis. Both incidents were jaw dropping experiences. So I believe her when she says there are spirits standing between a church and a home, trying to spread a positive word about God.

I've had little contact with Crystal. I trust her because she and Faith are sisters. But there is something else. She radiates light and love, particularly about her eyes.

Back to the story.

Faith passed on Crystal's regrets. She couldn't attend because something came up. Then Faith took the tape recorder, and she and Candi walked to the back of the building.

Our target was not the church, but the apartment building next store. This is one of those big, brick two flats from the twenties that are situated all over Blue Island. Dewey, a tall gentleman who should be familiar to most Blue Islanders, joined me at the sidewalk. His coworker, whom I will call John, joined us as well.

At that point, Faith turned back, pointing at the rear of the building, she said. “There's a man standing up there, watching us. And I'm hearing something about Suzy and Dan. Does that sound familiar to anyone?” We said no, and she and Candi continued on.

Dewey lives on the second floor, and he hears footsteps in his hallway. Also there is a bedroom where he spends as little time in as possible. “It raises the hackles on my neck to be in there,” he said.

He has lived there for about eleven years. When he first moved in he had friends over for pizza. One of the ladies stepped into the kitchen in order to help herself to a glass of water. She saw a woman in period clothing standing at the sink. “My friend is very sensitive,” Dewey said.

He had showed me how the paranormal group had set up their instrument board outside on his porch. He escorted us into the building and up the stairs. Inside we found a wonderful example of 1920's style architecture, complete with plaster walls, crown molding and wainscoting. It was neat, and evidence of his love for reading was everywhere. Books and bookcases were pressed into every available corner and against every empty wall.

They set up two cameras,” he explained. One was in the living room, pointing at the hall where he hears footsteps, and the other was in the kitchen, pointed at the sink.

They didn't spend much time here.” There's a coat rack in the kitchen. Dewey wondered if his friend had mistook it for the lady. The members of the paranormal group expressed the same concern. They spent most of their time outside shining flashlights up, through his windows and into the apartment to see if they could make the coat rack look like that. In the end they said they had no evidence of a haunting. That doesn't mean there isn't one, only that if he shares his apartment with spirits, they chose not to make an appearance that night.

We sat down in the living room to wait. We talked about the neighborhood, about his experiences, and John and Dewey discussed work. A few minutes passed before Faith and Candi arrived. They wandered about the apartment, going from living room, to hall, to dining room, to the kitchen. They stopped at the center bedroom last. I saw the flash from a camera.

There's a lot going on here,” Faith said when the pair joined us. In the backyard they came across several boys, about the ages of ten to twelve playing baseball. A man inhabits the upstairs portion of the back porch. He and the boys are related, maybe not in life, but spiritually. They aren't grounded to the property. It's just that the man feels comfort in Dewey's presence, and in fact, when Dewey cooks, he often stands by the stove. He said he really misses eating, particularly hot dogs.

Faith asked, “Do you hear running in the halls?”

Running?” he asked. I could see it in his face. Dewey had one of those jaw dropping moments like I had when I first met Faith. “Well, no. Footsteps.” Mind you she barely talked to him when we arrived. When he explained his experiences, she and Candi had already started exploring and were well out of ear shot.

Pitter patter?”

Well,” he said, “Maybe that. It isn't heavy, but it's definitely there.”

That's the boys running in the hall. They don't mean to harm anyone. They're boys. They're having fun.”

There's someone in your pantry,” she continued. “A woman, and Candi feels like she's trapped. I agree. I don't think she can leave.” She turned towards the hall again.

About your middle bedroom.” She had him again. “There's something in there. I can feel it.” She went on to explain that whatever it was was holding back on her as she wasn't sure even of its gender. “It's in the closet, but I feel it is attached to something in the bookcase. It came in with a book maybe.” She had told it to go into the light and it refused. “Do you have holy water?”

He picked a cruet off the mantle and handed it to her. She led the way to the middle room. She approached the far closet and Candi waited behind her. She began with a silent prayer. Then she sprinkled holy water in the closet. After that she closed the door and using holy water on the tips of her fingers, etched a cross into the wood.

I had to leave at that point because I had a City Council meeting.

I caught up with Candi later. She took seven photos, and was disappointed to find only one tiny orb located on the closet door. “That's him,” she said. “And he was pissed.” She explained that Faith wasn't able to shake the thing, so she, Faith and Crystal would return. “Crystal does a lot of cleansings.” I asked her what she felt in the bedroom. “You were in it, right?” she asked.

No, I waited at the door.”

There were actually two things in there. I could feel it. There are two closets, one on either side of the room. I could feel the one shrinking as Faith prayed over it. The other one though, got really sad.”

A week and a half passed before Faith and Crystal could return to Dewey's. Candi and I didn't join them, although Faith and I talked on the phone later. Asked about the entity in the closet, Faith explained that it had shrunk, and it changed in texture. It still stubbornly clung to the closet although the anger had subsided. She said the closet needed a psychic airing of sorts.

We discussed what it was that brought the creature into the apartment. “You know when I first entered the room,” she said, “And I felt him in there, my eyes went directly to the top row of books on the one bookcase in that room. There's a collection of books pertaining to UFO's. I think it came in with one of those.” I thought it odd that she brought that up simply because I had a hard time focusing on anything else in the room. In fact I never noticed the second closet.

I asked about the other entity Candi had described. “It isn't so much of a spirit as it is a memory. The energy is sad. Dewey says it feels to him as if a child had been locked in there for punishment.” She explained that often times when someone pulls an odd feeling like this out of the air, it is correct.

Crystal identified the spirit of an older man who said his name was Stephen. “He wanted us to know that he spelled his name with a ph rather than a v,” Faith said.

They talked to the neighbors. The names Dan and Suzy came up when Faith and Candi first toured the property. A neighbor told her about a man named Dan who had passed while still in his twenties. His sister's name was Suzy. Faith thought Dan might be the man on the porch.

That of course led to a discussion about the boys. “We toured the basement.” It seemed to be clear of activity, except for a path directly in line with the path in Dewey's apartment where he had heard footsteps. She said that the boys might be spending most of their time in the basement, although their movements were psychically connected to Dewey's apartment.

I spoke to several people about her connection to the land next store. Mike Kaliski of the Historical Society explained that the Church was built in 1956. Richard Bauer said he remembered when, but thought the land was vacant. Mike confirmed that it should have been. Prior to 1919 it was part of a dairy farm. If there were any buildings located on that plot, they would have to be outbuildings.

I mentioned earlier that Faith had provided me with two jaw dropping moments when we first met. Officially, let me say now that I have had my third at her hands. I thought there was nothing else to report or to learn about the church property, so I focused my research on finding Stephen. I returned to the library and began looking through directories from the 1900's through the 1930's for someone living at Dewey's address with the name Stephen, Stephan or even Steven. I wasn't successful again. I'd have to go elsewhere to look through later directories.

Instead I picked up the library copy of The First Hundred Years, and began thumbing through it. A section on the establishment of Blue Island churches caught my eye. I read through explanations of the beginnings of our older churches. Most of them began by meeting in residents homes, so I hoped maybe I'd find something about one group meeting in a barn. Then I came across a denomination called The Universal Church. They came to Blue Island for a short time, and met in homes. When Faith originally pointed out that space between the Church and the apartment building, she said several times, “They belong to a UNIVERSAL church.”

Friday, October 22, 2010

Happy Halloween - 2010

Happy Halloween

As printed in the 10/20/2010 Blue Island Forum

by Jude Coyle

If you read my Halloween story last year, you'll remember that I spent a day with two Blue Island born and bred sensitives, whom I called Crystal and Faith. Along with Ursula Bielski, a WDDE film crew, representatives from the FORUM, the Chamber of Commerce, the Library and the City, we visited homes that were reported to be haunted. It was an incredible experience with wonderfully perceptive individuals, and an eyeopener to say the least.

Another young lady joined us at the end of the day. Where she didn't appear in the film, she offered some insight. Her name is Candi, and I know her because she belongs to an organization that my family belongs to. At Christmas time particularly, we work to help the less fortunate enjoy a good meal, gifts and clothing at what can be a painful time of the year.

Candi was in kindergarten when she first joined her brothers during the Boy Scout Food Drives. She passed out fliers and later picked food off of porches. Over the years she's sought out volunteers and organized food drives at her schools. And now that she's out of school, she continues to help.

Candi is a psychic photographer. Both she and I have taken to carrying a digital camera, partly because I need it for work, and partly because she used it to take some really unique photos. I don't know how many times she'd point and tell me to take a photo of a bush, a door, or even a fence post. I'd do it, giving into her fancy, as I would indulge a spoiled child. Only when downloading the memory card, I'd find a shot of a huge orb. “I just felt him watching me,” she'd say as the hair follicles on my arms stood up. Other times, she would just show up at my door with creepy photos she took all over town. One is a shot of several faces constructed of mist.

I should point out that paranormal investigators use digital photos as corroborating evidence and not as the evidence itself. They will pick up dust and water vapor in the air, and unless Candi can eliminate those things, she won't declare it to be proof of anything.

Now Faith is an integral part of our group. If you haven't guessed by now, this is a story of something that happened last Christmas.

Each year, an area realtor provides us with work space. Last year we worked out of a food processing plant, which must have been empty for quite some time as our directors spent many long hours cleaning. In spite of that it was still dusty.

There was a huge factory floor, with equipment still in place. We stacked clothing and canned goods along the walls and between the equipment. There was a lunchroom, a sales office with cubicles, and a couple of executive offices. The outer offices were painted bright, lime green, and was basically empty except for some beat up office furniture. We called it Santa's Wonderland. New toys were stacked on tables, waiting to be wrapped, while the cubicles held wrapped gifts.

The big hauncho had once occupied the last office. It was still occupied by a wrap around desk and credenza. Except for a thick layer of dust, it looked as if the owner had just gotten up to refill his coffee. Framed product labels hung on the walls, and sales propaganda, photos and trophies adorned the furniture. The walls had been painted the color of orange juice.

After dropping off several food drives, I asked Candi to please organize a work crew to sort our haul into boxes by kind. She and her brothers drafted their friends, including one young man I'll call Sal. Sal is also sensitive.

We had barely started working when Candi declared, “There's someone in here.”

Excuse me?”

A spirit or something.” She took off with Sal at her heels.

A few minutes later Sal returned. “Candi wants you.”

I followed him into Santa's Workshop, and past stacks of wrapped and unwrapped gifts.

There's someone here,” Candi assured me when I entered the orange juice colored room. She nudged Sal, who agreed wholeheartedly. I nodded and left to get my camera.

Once she had it, she snapped away. Finally she lowered it and turned to leave. “You know,” she said, “That desk is really cool. I wonder if anyone would notice if I figured out how to sneak it out of here. I really like it.” She stopped suddenly and turned on Sal and I. “Oh my God. Someone just kicked me in the shin!” It wasn't us. We weren't even that close.

That night I downloaded her photos, and sure enough, huge orbs saturated every photo. “It's too dusty.” she reminded me. In her eyes it wasn't enough to prove what she saw and felt.

Well, vindication comes in unusual ways. A week or so later I dropped in to visit with the Boss. We discussed our schedules, volunteers, and the amount of work still to be done. I mentioned Candi and described our experiences in the back office. “Oh, my God!” the Boss exclaimed. “That was Candi?”

Yeah, why?”

You know Faith, right?”

Faith, the sensitive? Sure. Why?”

She was wrapping presents in Santa's Wonderland. She said that there was someone in that back office. He told her that no one was going to take his desk!”

Next month I hope to bring you another story. Faith, Crystal and Candi are going to visit the home of a resident, and report on what they see. And, with luck, we'll bring you more stories in the future. Faith commented that she would enjoy spending alone time in some public buildings in town. Hopefully we'll have that to look forward to as well.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Us, being us.

Summer is Over

Been so busy. Work is silly at best and the kids are back to school already. The van is down, which is a real pain, because Ed is taking the bus. That means we have to scavenge up bus fare daily.

We almost didn't get him off to school this year because of his knee. As I said earlier, he blew his knee out weeks and weeks ago. It isn't healing, yet he has a good, long walk to the bus stop each morning. By the time he gets home, he's sore and he's icing it up. Ed has Philosophy, Psychology, Piano 2, Speech and Trig. He's already studying like crazy, and I would love to trash his keyboard.

Becki is also walking, although in her case, it is train station. This might be a good thing for her. Becki is taking Quantitative Composition, Art Basics and Composition. She was trying to figure out the difference between Quantitative Composition and regular Composition, and wondered if they didn't screw up giving her the same class twice. Imagine her surprise to find out Quantitative Composition was actually a math class. Ha ha. Thought she got out of that one. Becki isn't a strong student, never has been. She knows that she only has six years of grants so she has to finish her degree within that time frame. If she keeps up the way she's going, it will take a full six years.

She had a big surprise when she returned last week. There were 100 kids in her class last year. Sixty dropped out. I know when I went to parents orientation last year, they said they had only lost seven from the previous year. My bet is, the economy wiped them out big time. Becki also said that there are no classes on Friday, which leads me to believe that they were hit hard by the recession.

Sunday we had the opportunity to visit with family. Bill's mother's family that is. They come from Pennsylvania. We saw the sisters last when Becki was a baby, and they came in for Thanksgiving. We hadn't seen their mother and stepfather since the boys were babies. We spent the night at their home on the way home from Washington D.C. Ed was 3 and Jon was 1. I remember Ed studying the stepfather's guitar saying, "Botar, botar!" He even tried playing an air guitar to show him what he wanted. Anyway, maybe four years ago, Bill, Becki and I were in PA for a family reunion, his father's side, and we drove within a few miles of this family's house. We'd have to take a road coming away from this bridge. As we approached it, we both recognized it. Bill kept asking me, "Should I? What do you think?" "Go!" I told him, pointing to the side road. He did, too. We interrupted his cousin at Sunday school. She took us back to her house where her eldest daughter and her husband were. We visited with them, and we spoke to her other daughter on the phone. The second daughter was a librarian in Ohio at the time. Anyway, we made a point of keeping in touch. Every weekend Bill calls the mother and daughter in Pennsylvania, and then the second daughter in Ohio. The husband passed away since we first got together with them again. He was 95 years old. It was good to see him before it happened.

Then the second daughter was laid off. It took her quite a while to find another job, and much to all our surprises, she landed in a small town in Indiana. She's only an hour and a half away. Bill and the boys met her, her mother and sister and helped them move her into her new place. The second daughter joined us Fourth of July weekend for ribs. This past weekend, her mother and sister drove in from Pennsylvania. Bill had been teasing all of them about not knowing what real pizza tastes like. That we have a place right here in town that has killer pizza and that they had to try it. He invited them to join us. Being that he's kind of stuck in a chair for the most part, he called everyone he could think of, and asked them to join us if the Pennsylvania/Indiana cousins made it. They did, and so did a few Illinois family members. It was great having about three hours to share. What was better yet, the cousins who had moved to Arizona and were abandoned there, also joined us. It was possibly the second outing they've had since returning at Easter time.

It just goes to show you how important even extended family is. I don't think either one of us could have lived with ourselves if we hadn't taken that detour that day.

Friday, July 30, 2010

My New Favorite Writer?

I don't know if I'd go that far. Chuck Palahniuk is a damned good writer. His stories are easy to read and to follow and his characters are interesting. Of course when someone begins his story by saying, "Don't read this book," you know I have to find out why.

The plots are just plain weird, and the plot twists are weirder. There's no way on earth I could have ever picked up the first book I read, Choke, and expect a man to choke on his meal so he can sponge off his rescuer, over and over and over again. It was good. It was funny. Somehow, though, I don't know how I can say this about any book that is just so weird, but as unexpected as each plot and twist is, the endings aren't. I think I figured them out about half way through each book. Go figure.....

Monday, July 19, 2010

Flight to California

My heart goes out to my kids. Jon and Gloria have been planning a trip to California for months. They got their flight months ago, with hotel room and car, and they made plans to meet up with one of Gloria's friends who lives out there. Jon even went as far as to pay his bills up a month in advance so he wouldn't have to worry about how much he had to spend.

They were scheduled to take off this morning at 6AM. Their flight was suppose to go out of Midway. Anyway, their alarms didn't go off and their ride didn't show up. They drove to her mother's house to have her mother drive. Mom took the wrong turn and wound up at the wrong terminal. It only took a few minutes to find where they were suppose to go, but those few minutes proved crucial. They arrived at 6:33, a full three minutes after they closed the gate. They weren't allowed to board.

Instead they were told they would have to fly standby. There were two more flights departing from Midway, one taking off at noon and one at 6PM. The noon flight came around and one seat became available. Rather than one taking that flight, they decided to wait until they could fly out together. The airline decided though, that their luggage would take that flight. Unfortunately there weren't any seats on the 6PM seats either.

So after waiting at the airport all day long, they are now spending the night at her brother's place, and without a change no less. We're praying that their luggage doesn't get lost, although we're betting on the idea that when they land in California, they'll learn their luggage was returned to Chicago.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Pact

I started walking in the evening of late. Sheeba is not very good on the leash, so I figured that the exercise I'd get from walking would be wonderful, but the struggle to keep the dog in line would be even more beneficial. She's either stopping to smell something, or bouncing like a fool when she sees someone she wants to visit it. Either way, I have to tug at her to get her to do what I want.

Mike usually follows us. Now he's another problem. He will stay a half of block behind us, so I stop all the time, to call out to him to catch up. Now figure cats are territorial. There are times as we walk when Mike will cross the street and walk even with us. I know for sure that at the one point he does it most often, there's a big, old tom cat that lives there. I also noticed that if he's someplace he isn't sure of, he'll catch up with us and walk step for step at Sheeba's side. Now figure that's Sheeba's best friend. Some mean old cat tries to take something up with Mike, Sheeba would bite him in half. Surprisingly we don't see many cats on our walks.

The neighbors at this point are coming out to look at us. Tonight we walked by a family who sat on their stoop as their boys played soccer on the parkway. I have to admit that we make kind of a comical procession; me, my dog and my cat. One little boy ran up to Mike, pointing at him. "Kitty! Kitty!" Mike hurried to catch up to Sheeba again.

I confess that after about four outings, I tried to blow it off.

Jon took issue with that as I dearly need all the exercise I can get. So just to make him happy, I began again after about a week's break. So last night, these two started in on me. I hadn't taken them the night before, and they weren't going to have it again. Mike moved to sit in front of my computer screen as Sheeba placed her front feet on my chair and howled. I gave in and got the leash. We did four blocks last night. Tonight after they ganged up on me again, we did six blocks. I have no doubt they won't leave me alone tomorrow. I don't get it. This dog only kind of understands my cats, and yet they both know when it's time for a walk. So, I hate tugging at Sheeba's leach and calling for Mike to catch up. But maybe this isn't such a bad thing. They can use the exercise, too.

Friday, July 16, 2010


I really think this kitten is the cutest little thing I've ever met. She's about 8 months old now, and is still not very big. Although her feet are huge. The older she gets the more adept she is at using her thumbs. I mean she really uses them like thumbs, or as close to opposable digits as physically possible.

Becki bought her a pink collar. I forgot how well pink goes with gray. It looks so feminine and dainty on her. It has a double row of rhinestones and a little bell. Becki bought matching ones for the boys. J.J. got green to go with his eyes, and Mike got purple just because the only other color in his size was pink. It took them a couple of weeks, but somehow they boys managed to lose theirs. Scrambles still has hers, and thankfully I can hear her coming.

First thing in the morning, she starts to run. If I forget to close our bedroom door, she usually cruises the bed at high speed, being sure to aim for one of our stomachs. I love her as much as I've loved other kittens, but early morning is not a good time for me without her acting like an idiot.

I allowed Becki to bring her home just because my boys, Mike and J.J., aren't good mousers. Considering they're already here, and even if Mike pisses me off from day to day, they're still my babies. There's no way I could turn them out. So when Scrambles decided that she loves to chase mice, it made my heart feel good. I hate mice. Last week alone she caught three.

She's also the loudest animal I ever met. When Becki brought her home, she had her hidden in her pocket. We couldn't see a bulge even, but we heard her. From outside, meowing at the top of her lungs, my God, it was almost deafening. Last week we were trying to tell Jon how loud she is. He didn't believe it, especially since she wouldn't get loud once we got her meowing. At least not until he left.

Anyway, there's another side to her personality that just blows my mind. She adores Sheeba. I wish I had a picture of it. Sheeba will be sitting on the floor and Scrambles will walk right up to her and rub cheeks with the dog. Sheeba isn't quite sure what to do about it, but you can tell that in spite of her confusion, she likes Scrambles, too.

Well, Becki brought home a turtle she calls Zanzibar, and damned if this thing doesn't swim to the front of the tank as if to say hi. Well Scrambles is so intrigued about this, she'll go into the bedroom and sit next to the tank for hours. We figured if the tank didn't have a lid, she'd probably go fishing. That is until the day we found her sitting on the lid, purring her butt off. Zanzi was sitting comfortably on the rock right below the kitten.

Becki brought home a rabbit next. We were suppose to be rabbit sitting while its owners went on vacation. I think Becki figured we'd just fall in love and let her keep it. I was tempted, but there's too many animals now. Chris finally took it.

We spent most of the time it was here trying to rename it. The original owners called it Hagrith (sp?), like the giant in Harry Potter. Bill and I opted for Harvey, like the 6 foot rabbit in the movie. He said Harvey Wallbanger, and I said Harvey Headcase. Becki came up with a different name everyday. We finally decided to call it someone else's rabbit when it looked like no one was going to pick it up.

Getting back to Scrambles, she decided she liked the rabbit, too. One more time, we caught her either rubbing up the cage with her cheek, or sitting on top and purring. I won't mention the unmentionable act the rabbit was involved in with the tube inside it's cage. It is a male, and it is a rabbit. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

I had enough of that behavior today. Ed, who is laid up at the moment with a wrenched knee, asked Chris to help him with the air conditioner in his room. It was leaning in and dripping on the floor. So anyway, Chris went through the garage, looking for something to use to tilt it in the other direction. He came up with a brick and a piece of wood. He found the wood worked best. Once he had it fixed, he left the brick on the chair in Ed's room. That's where I found Scrambles. Sitting next to the brick, rubbing it with her cheek and purring her ass off. I'm just thankful she isn't that sweet to the mice.

Ed has been laid up now for two weeks. I will say that it hasn't been as bad as it could be waiting on him. The thing that intrigues me is that most of the animals, with the exception of Mike and Scrambles, aren't that close to him. Since he's been hurt though, I can usually find at least two animals curled up next to him. It's like they take turn taking care of him.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Monk In our Backyard

I came across a comment after my last post. Apparently the reader was confused about what ghosts had to do with jewelry. She had a good point. I was attempting to relay Becki's, who is now selling jewelry, continuing experiences with 'other worldly' beings. Just to be sure I don't confuse anyone else, I figured I should probably add a link to the original story about the Monk in our backyard. Becki and I are still going around and around about why it took two complete strangers to get me to believe something she's been telling me since she was little. Anyway, read the story, and I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Jewelry, Craft Shows and Ghosts

I hate to make excuses, but seriously, I have a few. Work has been confusing at best. We've been busy. And I've been paying more attention to Travian, Helium and my newest blog, Politics - My Way. I can't go through life without shooting off my mouth, so let that be the place.

Ed and Becki are getting ready to return to school, which is good. Along with that, Gloria and Chris both mentioned that they want to as well. I'm thrilled. None of them have work, with the exception of Gloria, so they might as well go to school. It can't hurt to have something bigger and better to offer when the economy straightens up. As President Obama explained about the Stimulus and the Health Care Reform, there are provisions for greater education opportunities just because as the needs of the economy changes, so will the jobs. Not only will we need our younger workers to better educate themselves, but we will need our older workers from time to time to broaden their understanding and abilities as technology advances. This is a good thing.

So Becki has been busy selling jewelry, which isn't as easy as it sounds. The product is nice and it is expensive, which is the last thing anyone wants to spend money on now. Where she's finding buyers, she's not finding hostesses. We did a craft show a few weeks ago. To say we received an education here, is an understatement. We sold five pieces all together, for a decent total. A problem arose when we took a book order from a young lady who shouldn't have ordered anything. Without going into details, it proved to be a nightmare. As I told Becki yesterday when we discussed it, when we sell at craft shows for now on, it will be from the jewelry we have on display and not from the catalogs. She agreed whole heartedly.

Gloria held a party for her. She lives way out south and neither Becki nor I are familiar with the neighborhood. I was unbelievably ill that day, but I insisted I would go with Becki just because the old van is ready for the junkyard, and I was afraid she'd get lost. So we got lost together. On the way home, we got turned around, and we found ourselves further south of where we were suppose to be, and in the middle of the night at that. Not to mention we were in one of 'those' neighborhoods that the Southside is famous for. We found directions easily enough, and we were able to get home, but it took a lot longer than it took to get there. I thank God that we stayed safe, because obviously the neighborhood we were in has a bad reputation.

Becki was asked to babysit for a friend of Jon's. When she came home after having spent the day there, she said, "Mom, that house is screwed up!"

It took me a good couple of seconds before I realized what she meant. "You mean Jon didn't tell you about that place?"

"You mean he told you?" She said that when she first arrived, she heard a lot of commotion in the kitchen, but considering it wasn't her house, she assumed it was the noises that are unique to every house. They had a cat who spent most of his time in the back room, so she assumed maybe it was him. But when she went to get a change for the baby from the baby's room, she said, she felt something in there and it didn't like her at all.

Checking around I learned that the baby's brother doesn't sleep in his room every night because he feels uncomfortable there. I was told that one sitter was holding the baby in her arms and began to fall asleep. She woke up when someone tried to take the baby from her. "That could be a good thing," I told her. "Someone is protecting the baby."

"Scared the hell out of me," the person told me. "I won't go back there."

Later Becki had a jewelry party at a home where the previous owner was a clock collector. She said she felt his presence when she walked through the door. When she mentioned it to the owner, she was told that every so often what is left of the collection winds itself up and sets off the alarms.

Then yesterday Becki invited her friends from Chris's car club over for a fire. She said it was kind of embarrassing. The monk came out for the first time in months, and it followed her around the yard. I told her she has to be firm and tell it not to bother her. "Yeah, Mom. These people already think I'm nuts. What are they going to say if the catch me talking to the invisible monk in the back yard?"

Ah, good question.

Did I mention Ed and his buddies where having a fire in the yard when he threw his knee out? Poor kid has been laid up all weekend. He spent his Fourth sitting in the emergency room at Cook County waiting for someone to come look at him. Jon, too. It was suppose to be Jon's birthday party, only Jon had to drive. My brakes went out so I couldn't. Anyway, Ed is wearing a brace and I am waiting on him hand and foot. He hasn't been so bad that I'm ready to strangle him, so I won't complain. It's hot here and he isn't. Not so bad I guess.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Been a While

So, it's been a while again, since I posted anything. I started a new blog, called Politics - My Way. With all that is going on in the Gulf, I really need an outlet. It just pisses me off big time, to think of all the damage caused and the total lack of remorse.

So, we are kind of keeping busy. Ed is planning to make a film about local musicians. It seems that there are quite a few successful musicians in our town. Everyone he's talked to is excited about it. So am I. Festival in the Park starts next week, and Ed's best friend from grammar school is scheduled to appear with his band. Ed is going to film their performance. I should point out that Jon was nice enough to find a camera online and purchase it so Ed could do this. If necessary, Becki can run it for him. He'll have his friends involved, but it also seems to be becoming a family thing as well.

Becki is trying to sell jewelry. It is all very pretty, and fairly expensive. Last Sunday she and I rented a table at a yard/craft sale at the park. It cost us $15 for the table. We sold 5 pieces for about $120. It took us all of 6 hours. Even so, it was worth it. The way I figure, we can participate in regular craft shows and hopefully do better. She has three home shows coming up soon, and a brochure party. It isn't as much as she had hoped, but she is working and she is selling.

Last night I had to go to a meeting for work. A federal agency came to town to discuss their services. It was an extremely enlightening evening. I'll leave it there because I don't want to discuss it further. Instead, let me just say that I ordered a pair of hoop earrings from Becki, which I wore last night. I got more compliments on them.

So it's been stormy here, as it seems everywhere else. Today we lost power for a short while because a huge windstorm blew in. Scrambles panicked. She stood by the door and cried like a baby. The others didn't pay any attention. J.J. sat by my side throughout it all, while Mike and Sheeba slept. When it all passed, Scrambles had worked herself up so hard, she threw herself on the floor and slept for an hour. She's getting so big.

Speaking of animals, did I mention Becki brought a turtle home? Leave it to her. She finally got it through her head that we will welcome no more mammals in this house. Now we have to make her understand that reptiles aren't welcome either. Too much is too much. Oh, the turtle's name is Zanzibar.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Crazy Weekend

I mentioned to Jon that I would like to go out to lunch on Mother's Day with my family even if I had to pay for it myself. Jon and Ed agreed that they would pop for lunch. So Bill, Ed, Jon, Becki and Chris accompanied me to Tetnochtitlan for Mexican. We got there between lunch and dinner, and stayed long enough to enjoy a band from Spain. As usual dinner was great, and the Margueritas were better. The music was good, too. Although the company was best of all.

Jon promised me afterwards that he would pick me up after his game on Saturday this past weekend, and we would spend the day together. He said I should think about where I wanted to go. I suggested the Oriental Museum, which is located on the University of Chicago campus in Hyde Park. (Hyde Park is President Obama's Chicago neighborhood.) Ed had visited it last semester in order to complete a report on an ancient culture. I had never heard of it prior to that, which really surprised me. My Mom used to drag me all over the City to museums, which has sparked my love for museums. Anyway, Jon, who went with Ed when he went, was all for it. He couldn't wait to show me a large collection of stamps.

The Museum's collection was structured chronologically, beginning about 3000 BC with artifacts from Mesopotamia. I wasn't very impressed with the small group of findings that included hand tools like awls and needles, spoons and jewelry. The next chamber had bigger artifacts, and the next had bigger yet. We went through chambers relating to the Middle East, Iran, Anatolia, Egypt, etc. Each gallery represented a different time and a different nationality. I began to catch onto a bigger picture as we traveled along. We started with a group of people who lived in pit houses made of clay and with grass roofs, and ended with palaces with halls the size of football fields. The last gallery had artifacts from Babylon that were dated about 300 AD. Some of the artifacts were incredible. There was an 18 foot statue of King Tut, and wall reliefs that were 30 or forty feet long. Most of what they had was found between 1918 and 1921 by a group of archeologists from the University of Chicago. A lot of the exhibits were highlighted with photos from the digs and of the restoration process. There were photos from when the building was built. They left one wall down because there were huge reliefs that didn't fit through any of the doors. Once in place, they then finished the building.

About halfway through, Ed called. He and his friend, Amanda, went to a wedding. The Chicago police had called her to say her dog was found wandering the streets. Apparently he had a micro chip in his ear, which is how they tracked her down. Ed asked if Dad could go to the Morgan Park Police Station and pick up the dog? Sure, if we were home, we'd ask. So Ed called home.

I should explain at this point, that Chicago is broken into neighborhoods. I live in a town bordering Chicago. Just to my north is a neighborhood called West Beverly. Just to the east of West Beverly is a neighborhood called Morgan Park. These neighborhoods get their names usually because prior to becoming part of Chicago, they were towns with those names.

After the museum we drove around Chicago. I wanted to see the historical area around Prairie Street. This was where George Pullman, of Pullman Palace Cars, lived, along with Marshall Field, Colonel McCormick, and many other Chicago entrepreneurs of the 19th Century. We found it quite by accident. More or less, 'okay, turn here. Turn there.'

Not far away we found a park that had been dedicated to the first settlers from Fort Dearborn. In 1803, as they were attempting to make their way to Fort Vincennes in Indiana, they were attacked by Pottawatomie Indians. I should point out that this was a reaction on the part of the Natives because the settlers had promised them guns for safe passage. The settlers broke the guns up and blew up most of the reserve gunpowder before leaving Fort Dearborn. Anyway, this park, which is blocks from the current Lake Michigan shore line was sand dunes at the time of the attack.

We went on from there to find the Chicago Fire Academy, which was built on the site of Katherine O'Leary's home. It was her cow that took the blame for burning down the City in 1873. She became the scapegoat. It wasn't until later that anyone realized that Pegleg O'Sullivan was drunk when he snuck into her barn and fell asleep. He kicked over the lantern, and not the cow. The O'Leary home survived whereas every other home in an 8 block area burned. That didn't help Katherine's claim of innocence.

We also saw the Chicago Water Tower and the Pumping Station which survived the fire. We ate at the White Palace Restaurant, which was featured on Drive-ins, Diners and Dives, and we drove along the Lakefront.

From there we went home. Chris was having a birthday party in our backyard and there were a lot of people there. I wasn't warm and it was a bit damp. And I wasn't in the mood to party.

And I wanted to meet Bonkers. He was this huge black lav puppy with a fitting name. Ed mentioned before that her dog was another Sheeba, only quieter. Bill told me how when he showed up at the Police Station, he told the cop, "I always figured I'd have to bail my kids out of jail. But no, I'm bailing the dog out instead." He had no idea what this dog looked like, and only hoped the cops knew they were handing him the right dog. As it turned out Bonkers was the only dog in custody. They also commented that the name fit him.

Only when Amanda called to check on him we learned his name was actually Brody. Anyway, Bill fell in love with him. Which really pissed Sheeba off. It's one thing to bring another cat into her home, but God help another dog. Brody wanted to play and Sheeba wanted nothing to do with him. When Brody tried to play with Scrambles, Scrambles was willing. The problem was neither one knew how to play with the other, so they stood around, puppy and kitten, staring at each other, as if waiting for the other to make the first move.

Then bed time came. Bill and I crawled into bed and Brody crawled between us. He woke me up a couple of times when he tried to find someplace more comfortable to sleep. I finally found him on the sofa come morning.

The wedding was way up North, so Ed and Amanda spent the night at Ed's friend's house. Ed said Brody was happy to see her when they arrived home on Sunday morning. Sheeba was too, especially when Brody left. It wasn't until late Monday that Sheeba decided to talk with us again.