It’s Mr. R’s birthday today. A big one–he’s fifty! You might recall a few years ago when I freaked out over turning the big 5-0. That’s right, I’m a proper cougar, LOL!
Back then, we didn’t have money for a big gift or anything, but he made me this promise–one day we’ll take a trip to Ireland, Scotland, and England. Now, having nearly finished our extreme renovation, and being smack in the middle of a life re-set, we are in the same position. My promise to him–one day we’ll take a trip to Spain. He longs for Madrid and Barcelona.
Those trips will happen. We’re just the kind of dreamers to believe. For now, I’m content to add to my bucket list. And one of those must-do items is: Pay a musician in a pub in Galway to play Galway Girl. Did I ever mention the time Mr. R paid a guy at my favorite bar in the world, the James Joyce Irish Pub in Ybor City, to play Dirty Old Town? Another story for another day.
Tonight, I have two different Galway Girls, and I’m obsessed with both of them. They were each posted by my favorite bar in the world (and yes, I have about five of those) Paddy Reilly’s in Manhattan. Once on a business trip (and for teachers, those are RARE) I dragged my whole group from the upper west side where we were staying, to Paddy’s on the lower east side, just to hear The Prodigals play their home bar (Bucket List item #27, check!). Follow Paddy Reilly’s on Facebook for great music, including the moments they go live. Trust me, you’ll love it!
Anyway, from the pair of us dreamers, to you and yours, Happy Saturday night!
We’re having a quiet holiday here at Chez R. We went out yesterday and bought a new Christmas tree, all pre-lit with the option of clear or colored lights at the flip of a switch. We also got strings of colored lights for the outside. This morning, I spent an hour or so decorating the tree while Mr. R. risked life and limb hanging lights on the front of the house. That’s right, we’re getting all festive up in here.
Dinner will be later in the afternoon, just the two of us. My sons are out in the mid-west living their own lives. Matter of fact, my Airman daughter-in-law is deployed this holiday, so if you think about it, maybe shoot up a little prayer for her safety and a swift return.
We have lots to be thankful for, Mr. R. and I. First of all, we have each other. We’re reasonably healthy, we have enough, and we’re realizing we’re at a point in our lives where we have options. In the new year, we’re planning on exploring a few of those possibilities, and we’ll be sharing with you along the way.
I’m also eternally grateful for your friendship and companionship throughout the year. While the world seems to have lost its mind, I’ve met the nicest, kindest, funniest, smartest, strongest folks right here on WordPress, and I want you to know that I appreciate you all.
Hallelujah, friends and neighbors, it’s been one hell of a week. I’m feeling the need to vent and since it’s my blog, that’s what I’m going to do. Some folks may be offended by what I have to say, but I’d challenge you to read to the end. Everything’s not as black and white as people would like to think. Black and white would be easy. This situation is anything but easy.
On Tuesday, America elected itself a racist, fascist, misogynist, megalomaniac narcissist as our new leader. I could not have been more stunned. I knew we the people were smarter than that, we’d evolved beyond believing that Mexicans are rapists, all Muslims are bad, and women are sub-humans to be objectified. How could this happen?
Before you go getting all defensive, understand that I can’t stand Hilary. For years, I swore up and down that I’d never vote for her. I think she’s the very definition of greed and avarice, of selfish ambition and ‘win at any cost’. Enter Donald J. Trump, with his message of hate and intolerance. The man bragged about sexually assaulting women. Billy Bush got fired. Trump got elected President. What the ever-loving fuck?
So, shortly before Election Day, I took myself to one of the early voting sites, choked back the vomit, and voted for Hilary Clinton. Because I knew that whatever she was selling, it wasn’t the hate and vitriol that Trump has been spewing for the last year and a half.
I still can’t wrap my head around the results. Can’t imagine anyone I have less respect for than Trump. And there’s that nagging fear–Holy shit, what if he makes good on his promises about reversing gay marriage, about deporting undocumented immigrants and banning Muslims, about all the other bat-shit things he said?
There’s a movement afoot, a peaceful protest aimed at sending a message to those folks Trump would marginalize. Like-minded people are wearing a safety pin indicating support for those at whom Trump has aimed his special brand of hate. If you see me around, I’ll be wearing the biggest safety pin I can find, and I’ll do it until everyone is safe.
So tonight’s serenade… We lost Leonard Cohen this week. Maybe his heart just couldn’t take it, I don’t know. But we need a little healing up in here.
Hug those you love. Remind them that hate and prejudice are never okay. Maybe reach out to someone in Trump’s cross-hairs. Hallelujah. Happy Saturday night!
Here’s one final spine chiller as we gear up for Halloween. The title is pretty self-explanatory. It’s completely true and like I said below, it’s the reason I am considerably less skeptical than I once was. I hope you read it to the end. I’m tacking on a new little snippet that happened a few weeks ago.
On a side note, there is some creepy shit on Pinterest.
This last October story is the most personal. I have no photos or other documentation to prove what I’m saying but this is the single reason that I now entertain a certain amount of curiosity about the paranormal. Up until this point, I was pretty sure I had it all figured out. Yeah, right.
In the earlier days of our relationship, my sweet lived in a haunted house. No, honestly. I know what you’re thinking. Even I didn’t believe it at first. He tried to tell me. I just thought he was messing with me.
Before Mr. R. and I got married, he rented a house with two other guys for a little over a year. It was just a regular older house in a normal neighborhood and it was owned by a personal friend of Mr. R. There was nothing remarkable about it, in fact, it needed quite a bit of updating, but it was a nice size with three bedrooms and three bathrooms. It also backed up to a large lake and had a nice pool in back between the house and the water, these two features being really the best of the whole place.
I vaguely recall Mr. R. mentioning to me that there were times when his roommates were out and he felt as if he were not alone in the house. I completely blew this off. I am an educated, logical person. There is always an explanation for everything. I just thought he was trying to creep me out.
We spent many Saturdays hanging out at the house, sometimes swimming in the pool or fishing off the dock, lots of nights watching television in the converted sun porch just off the dining area. I never noticed anything weird. Never even thought about it. Until…
One night we were watching television and I left the room. As I headed through the darkened dining area, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. My heart jumped and I stopped immediately, looking to my right, the direction of the movement. Mentally, I scolded myself. You saw yourself in the mirror, I thought. There was a mirror on the wall and that explanation made total sense. Except…I was about 10% certain that myself was not what I saw. I shook my head and went about my business.
After that, from time to time as we watched television, I was almost certain that I saw movement in the dining area. Let me describe a little of the design of the house. The tv room and dining area were separated by double french doors which were always left open. The double-wide opening was flanked in the tv room by the multi-paned french doors pushed flush against the wall. The panes of glass reflected light and color from the television, not to mention the lights of the boats passing outside on the lake. So it made sense that the movement I saw was the reflection in the glass doors from the television and from outside. Except…There were times I was sure the movement I saw was not in the glass on the sides of the doorway, but in the empty space of the doorway which would be the center of the dining room.
Mostly I just tried to ignore it, sure that I was being silly. And there were long periods of time when nothing unusual happened. I would forget about it, have no expectation of anything at all.
Until the night I had an experience that I could not explain in any way. Once again, we were watching television. During a commercial, I glanced out into the darkened dining area where my purse was hanging on the back of a chair. Oddly, in the space between the top of my purse and the handles hanging on the chair, I saw a tiny red light, like the ready light on something electronic.
That’s weird, I thought. What in the world is it? My first thought was that it was my phone. But I realized it couldn’t be my phone because: a) my phone didn’t have a red light like that; and b) my phone wasn’t sticking out of the top of my purse, it was in the pocket in the end of the purse, which was the reason I bought that purse to begin with. That’s so weird, I thought, and I looked back at the television without thinking about it beyond being perplexed. When I glanced back at my purse, the red light was gone.
I was properly freaked out for the first time. Mr. R. realized something was wrong, but I’m from the school of thought that says, If I don’t say it out loud, it didn’t happen. I made him sit beside me, and it was only after the show was over, when we went out onto the back deck that I told him what I’d seen.
He told me a few more stories, and now, of course, I was all ears. The master bedroom of the house was separated from the master bath by a short, narrow hallway that ran between ‘his and hers’ closets. Mr. R. said that once he’d been on his way into the bathroom when he’d suddenly changed his mind and turned around in that area between the closets. As he abruptly turned, he said he saw someone standing there, then instantly he didn’t see someone. His sense at the time was of someone who was lonely and desperately wished to be ‘one of the guys’. He told me about many times when he’d been in the kitchen cooking and he’d felt certain that someone was just behind him, looking over his shoulder.
After that experience, I was very aware of the nights when we’d hear thumps and bumps of unexplained origin. I chalked a lot of those up to the wind getting under the eaves, but that only explained some of the noises we heard.
One night, after his roommates left for the evening, Mr. R. and I were in the house by ourselves. We were sitting together on the sofa just chatting about nothing in particular when we heard, from the other room, the distinct sound of someone clearing their throat. “Ahem!” We just stared at each other. “You heard that, right?” we said simultaneously.
One of the last things I experienced in that house happened as we were making dinner one night. Mr. R. left the room, leaving me alone in the kitchen. I heard, from another part of the house, a loud sort of boom, bang, crash as if a stack of pots or something had fallen. I moved in the direction of the noise, the direction Mr. R. had gone, saying, “Hey, are you okay?” I met Mr. R. coming toward me saying, “Hey, are you okay?” We’d each thought the other had knocked something over, yet neither of us had.
As a result of the strange things I experienced in the house, I became somewhat interested in investigations of the paranormal. No, I’m not going out to buy a bunch of electronic gizmos (except maybe a phone app). But I have come to appreciate the TAPS investigators from the SciFi show, GhostHunters. The reason I like them is that they set out to disprove paranormal activity, to find logical, rational explanations for odd things that people experience. One thing I learned from them is that high electromagnetic emissions, such as would be present in an older home with faulty wiring, can cause various physical reactions including feelings of unease, of being watched. I absolutely believe that explains some of what Mr. R. experienced in the house. And then, every once in a while, the TAPS team comes across something that really defies explanation. I can relate to that, too.
Now, a little history on the house. These are things I know to be true, they can be verified in the news and by talking to the family members who owned the house. Some years before Mr. R. and the boys rented the house, the family who owned it experienced an unfathomable tragedy. A teenage son was murdered in a violent robbery at the fast food restaurant where he’d worked. The mother, utterly devastated by his death, hired a psychic to come into the house and give a reading. The psychic advised the mother to place some of the boy’s personal belongings around the house to encourage his spirit to stay. Turns out, there were some skateboards and other things placed in the attic and other spots around the house during the time Mr. R. lived there. Now, normally I’d say that whole business is a load of crap. But things happened there that I can’t explain.
All of that to say this–I’ve always believed that most of the things that happen in this world have logical, rational explanations. I still believe that. Now, I also have to concede that some things simply defy rational explanation.
It gets real when you experience something for yourself. Take, for example, those photos from the Pilar in Islamorada. Or the photos from the Riddle House. I’m much less certain that I have it all figured out. Still, I’m okay with that.
I wouldn’t spend any time alone in that house, though. Nope.
As promised, one last little tale…
Mr. R., before he quit his job (don’t even get me started again), was a steely-eyed newsman. His most recent position was as an assignment editor–those are the folks in the newsroom who know what’s going on and send out reporters and photographers to cover stories. They take phone calls, keep in contact with community leaders and law enforcement, and keep an ear on the scanners.
In that capacity, one day shortly before his last, Mr. R. overheard an odd conversation over the police scanners.
Town of Palm Beach Dispatcher to officer on patrol: I received a call from an on-duty private security guard. He’s reporting that in the house he’s guarding, he keeps hearing children whispering and giggling. The thing is, the house has been empty and boarded up for several years. Can you check it out?
Officer on patrol: (long silence) Oooo-kay.
I’m sad to say that Mr. R. never heard the outcome of that call, but like all my other October stories, it’s true.
We’re in a state of flux in the R. house these days. I mentioned in a previous post that we’re taking on the adventure of a huge renovation on the foreclosure we bought five years ago. We’re putting in wood flooring in place of the cheap carpet we bought when we first moved in. We’re replacing the builder-grade kitchen cabinets and counters with beautiful custom made cupboards and granite counter tops. And we’re completely overhauling both bathrooms.
Having refinanced the house and taken out some of the equity, these projects will be done with cash. We’ve met with the contractors a couple of times and we’re finalizing plans to begin in January. It seems we’re all systems go.
However, there is a monkey in the wrench–two weeks ago, Mr. R. shocked me to pieces by announcing one afternoon when I returned home from work that he’d quit his job. Just resigned and walked out. Yep. It took me a little time to wrap my head around it. I knew he hated the job. I just didn’t think he’d up and quit. Anyway…
The reno is still on. He’s not sure what he’s going to do to help pay the bills, but he’s working on a plan to start his own media business, including a production company. He’ll probably have to get a job and do that on the side right now, like I do my writing on the side.
Long-term, we’re talking about completing the renovations and thus increasing the value of the house so that in a couple of years, we can sell it and use the money to move somewhere new. Mr. R. grew up here in south Florida and is itching to live somewhere with seasons and mountains. I’m not entirely sure why anybody’d want to leave paradise, but I’m hip about quitting my job, and selling the house will allow for that. I can write anywhere, and he can do his business anywhere, too.
So like I said, we’re in a state of flux. Tonight’s song? We have a man-cold at our house this weekend. I thought the song was fitting. In lieu of flowers, feel free to make donations to your favorite charity. I’ll keep you apprised of the situation. Happy Saturday night!
P.S.~ Oh, and we will be sharing our adventure in home renovation. Up first, an unintended project due to self-inflicted Hurricane Matthew damage. Yep.
Here’s another October Story from the archives. Much of the post involves information I discovered as I researched this location. Although I have toured the Riddle House several times since this incident, I have not experienced anything like the visit I describe here.
There’s one final story I’ll tell later on. And I have a new tale to tack onto that one. Happy October!
On Saturday I had the opportunity to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. On the closing weekend of the South Florida Fair, I was thrilled to find out that Mr. R. and I had been given free tickets. I’m not much of a rider of fair rides, but I love to walk along smelling the fair food, checking out the livestock (one day I will have chickens), and of course, I needed the annual hand-dipped corndog with loads of mustard. But none of those were the main reason I was excited.
Situated at the fairgrounds is an area called Yesteryear Village, a collection of historic buildings, houses, barns, and artifacts dating from 1875 to 1945, comprising a “history park.” Some of of the buildings and artifacts been moved to the fairgrounds from their original locations, while other structures and items are reproductions.
One of those original historic buildings is the Riddle House, an early 20th century farmhouse, and it was the object of my attention that day. The house was built shortly after 1900 in downtown West Palm Beach on the edge of the Woodlawn Cemetery. At the time it was known as the “Gatekeeper’s Cottage” and it was used as a funeral parlor.
There are various stories of tragedies that happened in relation to the home. According to news reports, a cemetery worker was killed at the house during an argument with a local man. Some years later a man called Karl Riddle became city manager and he and his family moved into the home. During the time the Riddles lived in the house, an employee hanged himself in the attic. Over the years, there have been stories of strange and unexplained happenings and it is said that the Riddle family finally left because they found it too frightening to stay. After the Riddles moved out, several business attempted to operate in the house but none ever remained very long, some blaming unexplained experiences for their departure.
Much later the house was known for a time as Dobbs House, a women’s dorm at Palm Beach Atlantic College, before being condemned by the city in 1980 and slated for demolition due to disrepair. A Riddle relative wanted to preserve the historical value of the building and had it moved to Yesteryear Village where it was restored and is now occasionally open for tours.
It’s open for tours, for example, during the South Florida Fair, which brings me back to where we started. I had heard the rumors about the Riddle House. I also know that some paranormal television shows have been there to investigate, the most famous of which was the team from Ghost Adventures, which I consider one of the least reputable of that lot.
But I was excited to have the chance to check out the house for myself. I made sure my camera battery was fully charged and as Mr. R. and I approached the house, I began snapping pictures. We walked into the house and toured the first and second floors. The rooms were roped off so that you could only peer inside the from the doorways. I found the house charming, neatly restored and decorated with period furnishings, decorations, examples of clothing and accessories, and home fashions. I took pictures in every room open to the public. Notably off-limits was the attic. I overheard some other guests touring the home talking about the hauntings and I had the feeling that the docents were absolutely over hearing about ghosts.
When we got home I loaded the pictures on my computer. At first I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary and to be honest, I really didn’t expect that I would.
HOWEVER, these are the first three pictures I took as we walked up to the house. Notice the right window upstairs. In the first two pictures, it looks as though someone is lifting up the corner of the curtain to peek outside. You don’t see that in the third picture.
We didn’t notice this while we were there. It was only after we were home looking at the pictures that we saw the difference. The obvious logical explanation is that someone is up there looking out the window. EXCEPT that the room is roped off. We looked into that room from the doorway. The window is all the way across the room on the opposite wall. You can’t get to the window without crossing the rope. And there is a lady just in the hallway to make sure you don’t do that.
So…I don’t know. It makes a decent October story. I still have one more you haven’t heard…
This article is copied and pasted from a post I wrote a couple of years ago. WordPress being what it is, I can’t schedule a reblog, so it’s got to be like this. Thanks, WordPress.
Anyway, this is a true story, and the photos from my Samsung Galaxy are completely unretouched. You’re seeing what I saw. Enjoy…
I took the folks down to Key Largo for a couple of days this past summer. Before heading home, we drove south just to sightsee a little. You can’t get that close and not cross the Seven Mile Bridge, right? Mr. R. missed the trip because of work, but he recommended that we stop and check out an outdoor store in Islamorada called World Wide Sportsman (which is actually operated by Bass Pro Shops, but that’s neither here nor there).
Aside from being a cool place to look around, as are most Bass Pro Shops, this particular store had something that interested me. According to Mr. R. the store had a fishing boat that is the twin of the one used in the Keys by Ernest Hemingway. Okay, it’s not his boat, but it’s one just like it.
And so it is that we stopped in at World Wide Sportsman. We found the large shop fairly uncrowded and sure enough, the Pilar was sitting smack-dab in the center of the place. Again, the Pilar is not Hemingway’s boat. It just happened to be built at the same Brooklyn shipyard and is a twin of the more famous one that is supposed to be in Cuba these days. But I was curious all the same.
Some years ago, I read an interesting novel by Michael Palin (yes, that Michael Palin, the one from Monty Python) called Hemingway’s Chair. In the story, a mousy postal worker with a fascination for all things Hemingway learns that Papa’s fishing chair is about to be sold at auction and he schemes for ways to make the chair his own.
And so, having left the others browsing for souvenirs and trinkets, it was with curious interest that I climbed aboard the Pilar with hopes of snapping a photo of Hemingway’s chair. And there it was. Right on the stern of the boat. But it was unlike any fishing chair I’d ever seen. It was made of highly polished wood and sat low with a beam that jutted forward from the seat parallel to the deck with a footrest at the end, so that if you were in the chair, your legs would stick straight out in front of you. As I puzzled over the unexpected style and how best to capture it with my trusty phone, a couple boarded the boat and the wife plunked herself down into the chair and began mugging for her husband’s camera. Seriously?!
Annoyed, I took myself below deck, if only to escape the rampant dumb-assitude. There, in the dimly lit cabin, I found something I liked even better than the fishing chair. There was a vintage desk complete with typewriter and chair. I know. It’s not Hemingway’s typewriter. But it was cool. Plus, I thought it was the perfect illustration for one of my favorite Hemingway quotes: Write drunk. Edit sober.
So I snapped four pictures in fairly rapid succession. I hurried, figuring Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum would undoubtedly be down any second. I had to use a flash in the murkiness of the room and I couldn’t actually see what I was getting, but I hoped that at least one photo would be good enough to post with the quote.
It was not until later when I wanted to choose the best shot that I saw something interesting. I’ve arranged the photos in the exact order in which I took them. In the first and second frames nothing seems out of the ordinary. In the third you begin to see a hazy little anomaly to the left of the typewriter. The anomaly is clearer in the fourth photo.
What is it? I don’t know. Like I said before, I’m not really a huge believer in the whole ghostie thing. But I’ve lived long enough to know that there are some things you simply can’t explain.
Before October is over, I’ve got another couple of weird stories for you. Stay tuned…