Happy November! Can it be possible that the holidays are right around the corner? Oh, it CAN be–judging by the sudden onslaught of Christmas displays in the stores and the commercials on television.
Last weekend was cool here in south Florida. A/C was turned off, windows were opened, a fresh breeze whisked away all the stale air from the house. We even had a fire in the fireplace a couple of nights. This weekend is more or less back to normal for this time of year–bright sunshine and low humidity with high temps around 80.
But last weekend put me in a mood. I want to escape to a pub in Galway, and sip a pint of Guinness while listening to a local band.
I love this song by Ed Sheeran, and I adore this video even more. Join me for a pint, and celebrate this beautiful fall evening. Be sure to hug those you love. 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.
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…
Leading up to Halloween, I thought I’d rerun my spooky stories. Hope you don’t mind…
Here’s an 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.
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…
Six years ago October 2, in a delightfully weird ceremony conducted by a dear friend who happens to be a dotty little Wiccan, my love and I exchanged vows and became Mr. and Mrs. R. It was not the first rodeo for either of us, but it’s our last. I often refer to him as my ‘happily-ever-after’.
I’m so excited, because tonight we have a late reservation at a chichi local restaurant. We’re going to get all gussied up and go out to celebrate all that we have together.
The traditional gift for the sixth anniversary is iron. That presented me with a dilemma. Last year was easy–the fifth anniversary is wood. Or, as I like to refer to it, the gift that keeps on giving.
I briefly considered a new cast-iron skillet. After all, he’s the chef in our house. It didn’t seem like a very good anniversary gift, though. So again, I searched and searched. Finally, Google came through for me. I ordered a mermaid handcrafted of iron to sit on the shelf over his desk. A Navy man from way back, Mr. R has a thing for mermaids.
I also ordered a bottle of good Kentucky bourbon, because, well, it’s a great gift. But shhh! Don’t tell him. 😉
Also happening this week, my eighth book launches on Tuesday, October 3. This is the first new one since I started writing full-time, and I’m really excited about it.
The third book in the Dream Dominant series, it’s about red-haired submissive Jessi Crenshaw, whose husband Graham dies unexpectedly.
But it seems that he had in inkling that his health was in decline, and he tapped his friend and protege in the Lifestyle, Dominant firefighter Judd Farris, to look out for Jessi until she gets back on her feet.
A platonic Dom/sub relationship–it’s unconventional. But Judd’s determined to keep his promise to his friend. Could it be that Graham had more in mind that merely a temporary solution?
FOR SPARROW has been available for the pre-order sale price of 99¢ for the last month, and will continue to be through Oct. 3. My purpose is to have it hit Amazon like a bomb on release day, and I’ve set a goal of 100 pre-orders. If you’d consider placing a pre-order, I’d be forever grateful. Here’s the link: books2read.com/ForSparrow
I’ve been pushing hard these last few weeks, but tonight, it’s all about the really important things. I hope you’re spending the evening with those you love. Hug them and let them know how much they mean to you.
It was a week. I can’t complain, not really. We had a Cat 5 hurricane barreling toward us, and ended up losing power for only about 15 hours. No damage to the house, just a lot of tree branches and debris down in the yard. Parts of the Keys are devastated. I almost feel guilty for feeling relieved.
Local news was 24/7 hurricane coverage for a good five days, warning us of doom, gloom, and imminent disaster. We had no idea what was going on in the rest of the world.
When the electricity and internet were back up, I was ready to go back to normal life. Not so fast, though. Not everyone around here has had their power restored. We were apparently among the very fortunate. And the county just lifted the curfews they’d enacted. For quite a few days, there was no going anywhere from dusk to dawn.
Cabin fever forced Mr. R. and I to go exploring on Wednesday. On the most off chance, we cruised by one of our favorite watering holes, knowing that because it’s on the water, it would definitely be closed.
It wasn’t. Precious few people knew, so it was blissfully uncrowded and we spend a nice hour decompressing toward normal.
I’m ready to feel good again. So for tonight’s serenade, I’m bringing along Ed Sheeran with Castle on the Hill. I love this song. It makes me feel happy.
I hope you’re enjoying this September evening. Is it cool where you are? It’s still steamy hot here. Hug those you love, and maybe consider donating to hurricane relief. Between Texas and Florida, there are a lot of hurting folks out there.
I’m writing this post on Thursday. On Saturday, we’re supposed to be under tropical storm conditions, then Sunday (as of now), we’re supposed to have a Cat 4 hurricane pass right over our heads here in north central Palm Beach County.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, this isn’t our first rodeo. Coastal areas are going to be under encouraged, if not mandatory, evacuations. We’re about 15 miles away from the coast, so we’re just going to batten the hatches and hunker down.
Roads, and I mean I-95 and the Florida Turnpike, are crowded with folks seeking higher ground. But the storm is supposed to ride up the entire peninsula, so unless you’re planning on heading to Omaha (which we considered–our son and his wife live there), you might as well stay put.
I should be nervous. I’m certainly taking the situation seriously. We’re securing valuables, packing up some changes of clothes in case we need dry things, storing water, digging out the battery-operated and solar lights, etc. It’s pretty much a given that we’ll lose power and wi-fi. We have a well, so we’ll lose water until the electricity is restored.
But I’m feeling cheeky. So tonight, we’re Riding the Storm Out. And, as a two-fer, we’re going to Rock You Like a Hurricane. We’ll keep you posted, and we’d appreciate your prayers, if you’re so inclined.
Hug those you love–I know I will. Happy Saturday night!