Friday, April 14, 2017

TWO ROWBOATS AND A HELICOPTER

Hi, all. Sorry for the long delay in blogging. Unfortunately, I ran into another health problem that required a long stay in hospital and physical rehab.

It's a sad sorry, but much good has developed from it.  Warning: I am going to include photos which, in and of themselves, are neither "gross" nor "sickening" in my opinion. However, some people have weak constitutions, so bear that in mind before reading this entry.

I have slowly developed neuropathy in my hands. Although not as severe as in my feet and legs, it prohibited me from feeling hot and cold. I was trying to be careful when microwaving food, but managed to burn my fingers anyway.  The blisters on my left hand healed.  The one on my right, index finger did not. One Sunday morning, after my shower, I noticed that my finger had turned white, and a rash was running down my arm. Within 12 hours, the finger had turned black.





By then, Claude and my housekeeper were at my flat. An ambulance was called, and I was taken to Saint Peter's first, then transferred to Robert Wood Johnson/ Barnabas Health. They had a hand specialist. Initially, the surgeon didn't think I would need surgery, but changed his mind when antibiotics failed to improve the condition of my top joints. It was gangrene.

Now, here's the wacky part: initially, the surgeon said it was a "dry" gangrene. "We can send you home, and just wait until the finger falls off!"

At first, I just starred at him, slack jawed. Then replied, "I have a cat. There I'll be, sitting on the sofa, petting my cat with my left hand when - boing - I feel my right hand jerk...and my finger is hanging by a thread of skin. When it falls off completely, I get to chase the cat, who thinks he has a new, tasty toy."
"Oh, it won't be THAT fast," says he. "It's the natural way to let it happen."
"Cut it off."
  "But general anesthesia is so.."
"You're cutting it off."
And so...he did.

I was awake for the entire procedure, and insisted on seeing the end result. I was shocked that he was only able to save 1/3. Then he informed me, even that small portion was in danger.



What was left was purple and swollen...not a pretty sight.  

I tried to stay positive. I was soon advised that cultures for the remaining bone only showed staph infection. The portion they amputated was riddled with osteomyelitis. Good thing I didn't wait to have it fall off!

I was sent to Cranbury Center, in Monroe Twp., to complete physical and occupational therapy.  It was only a few miles from home, and has a wonderful staff and physical plant. While there, the finger improved. 

It went from purple to normal color, and reduced in size.


As the old, infected skin peeled away, "Dexter", as my nub was now called, took on a strange appearance.  With the stitches on top looking like hair, and scabs that resembled a nose and ear, Dexter bore a strange resemblance to a crying baby with a swollen eye!


In less than three weeks, the surgery site was virtually healed.

Today, it is better still. I've been adapting to writing sans index finger, and typing. Now, as to the good that came out of this: I've stopped playing games with my health. My sugars are now better controlled, my diet has improved, and I've lost weight. I am tired of going to the grave a bit at a time.

There is an old joke about a religious man, experiencing a flood. When a rowboat goes by his house and offers to evacuate him, he refuses. He insists that Jesus will save him. 

As the waters get higher, he is forced onto his second floor balcony. Another rowboat comes by, but is again refused.  

Finally, he us forced to the roof. A helicopter offers to air lift him, but he insists Jesus will save him.

The flood waters wash him off the roof, and he drowns.  He appears before Jesus and says, "Where were you? I believed in you, and trusted that you would send help!!"

To which Jesus replied, "I sent you two rowboats and a helicopter, what more did you want?"

The gods have sent one last message.
This time, I think I got it.

Next time, I'll tell you all about my weird experiences in my "Haunted" room in RWJ/Barnabas Health, and the aftermath. Strange story.

Finally, the last cemetery crawl from last Summer!












The Fairmont cemetery is also in Newark  NJ. It's an easier drive-thru than Mount Pleasant, but fewer unique examples of grave art. Above is an interesting statue of someone named "Clark". No relation ...I don't think. However, my grandfather was left an orphan in Newark, so...?














It's obvious that those who have the riches can't take it with them, but family can enshrine it above them!

Next time, Princeton!

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

ONE MORE TIME, WITH FEELING



Just wanted to start with a little fun Sherlock to kick the year off right.
So, here we go. First off: an announcement!

Calling all Vendors, Psychics & Paranormal Groups Saturday, September 30, 2017  11 am to 6 pm 
ParaX presents:  Behind the Veil 2 
Psychic/Metaphysical/Paranormal Fair At the East Brunswick Elks Lodge 21Oakmont Avenue, East Brunswick, NJ 08816 
A day of fun for the public to kick off the fall season, filled with Psychic readers, unique merchandise, lectures, food, local artists and authors on the subject of ghosts, witches etc. Vendors & a helper receive free admission with their paid 6 foot space, chairs supplied, but you must provide your own (6 ft.) table.   Half price space if you are approved to be a lecturer. A raffle, just for Vendors! You will receive directions and a final flyer via, email. We will also provide the website and facebook links, so you can help us advertise. We look forward to having you! 

Yes, we are doing the expo again. If anyone is interested, please let me know and I will send you a form.

The end of last year was a total wreck for me. First, in October, I had to give my presentation to the Red-Headed League of New Jersey on "Arthur, Sherlock, and the Supernatural." I believe it went well. It was also the group's 40th anniversary. Here is a picture of the cake:



And here are some of the goodies that were given out (including the Sherlock protection pouches with the 221B house key. (Those were from me.)




And here I am, with a microphone threatening my personal space.


I was not feeling well that evening, and I look it. However, I received many kind remarks on the lecture, pouches, and free Fate Magazines provided by my publisher.

Next up was the Expo. Great vendors but low turn-out. We saw areas for improvement and are addressing them for the next go-round. Still rather ill, tension was made worse by friend Bob's sudden illness. (He was going to do a lot of my tote and carry for set-up.) He made the show, but my sister Diane really came through for me. She helped set up the night before, attended the show, and stuck around to help break it down. My Jeni, Keith, and other friends also pitched in. I also got to meet Bruce Tango, father of Dave and one of the folks from "Ghost Hunters".






Yup. No matter who you are, sooner or later you get to push the wheelchair. Mostly that fell to Bob or my sister, bless their hearts.

After that, I really fell ill to exhaustion, chills and fever,,, and I still had the holidays to sludge through. By the time New Year's Eve rolled around, I was whipped.  It has only been the last week or two that I've started to come alive.

I managed to finish an article I was doing on an investigation of White Hill Mansion, and get to posted off to my publisher.  It should either be in the next Fate issue, or posted on their web site (the jury is still out on that one.) Meanwhile, my article "Missing Mabel" - about the first dean of Douglass College - is in the current issue :



'Tis a mystery, this one...a spooky mystery!

Ellen and I also did a third cemetery crawl.  I'm falling behind on those, so allow me to share the first adventure in Newark, NJ.




Mount Pleasant cemetery reminded me a bit of  Green-wood cemetery in Brooklyn. I think that is primarily due to the ornate gate. Unlike Green-wood, there was no welcoming bathroom. At our age, Ellen and I LIKE welcoming bathrooms very much. Still, we persevered.                                                                                   





It had the typical  Victorian greco-roman designs. The tomb on the bottom looks like a cremation was being carried out, but it's only a cloud.                                                                                                

This is a tribute to a fireman. It was extremely tall, and very difficult to shoot.                                                                     

There is the occasional Celtic cross...







...and we have the typical urns, spheres, and pointy needles.  Ellen compares them to a part of the male anatomy...over and over... We also have a cut-off column on the left of the last shot. Life cut short, as it were.                                                                                            

    There is a nice, little receiving vault...                                             
                                        
as well as the individual graves of the wealthy. Ellen liked this grave in particular because, right next to this memorial...

...is the humble stone of Peter Rankin, "A Faithful Servant".  Touches the heart strings...poor Peter.                                                               
I was certain that we would be in a doubtful part of town. Newark doesn't have the best of reputations, but we were fine.  Actually, the biggest threat came to the bottom of Ellen's car. There were branches, disappearing pathways, ruts, bumps...the tombs were pretty but the general upkeep failed to impress.  If you decide to do a crawl there, rent a junker for the day.                                              

That's it for now. Next time I'll do the other Newark crawl, and a spell to rid yourself of the influences of unwanted people, so you can start the year with cleaner, happier energy.    

Be well...and avoid the plague running rampant in New Jersey!                                  

Thursday, September 22, 2016

KARMA IS A...WELL...YOU KNOW.


Well, the Autumnal Equinox is here. The balancing point of night and day comes with a whisper of Indian Summer heat, but soon the downward slope will claim our momentum.  I love this season, with its cool winds and colored leaves. I don't mind the darkness.  It makes me feel more alive.




But lately, I'm also starting to feel my mortality.  This year was full of health concerns, not just for me but also my friends.  I turned 62.  My friends are generally part of my generation.   Almost every one has had procedures, scares, risks...honestly, who expected this when we were in University? Hiking through the campus, walking downtown, caving with friends, who knew I'd be round, crippled, and nearly house bound 40 years later?  Plus, there are shadows looming overhead, hinting of more troubles to come.

So, in thinking over my history and how it intertwined with others, I decided that I would reach out to several individuals who left my life abruptly, and in a hurting manner. There was never a true parting, never an explanation, never a "Hail and Farewell".

 There are one or two that I no longer cared about, but I had several others in mind. I would find them, write them about how their actions wounded me, and then...let it go. I felt I needed this closure, and didn't want to take it to the grave no matter when I died. I no longer wanted these old injuries. Time to speak out, and be done.

The first one was simple. I knew where she was.  She was my oldest friend, and had lots of talent and potential. However, she had a way of making me feel small and unworthy. I would ask her to go somewhere for fun. She would say, "OK - unless something better comes along."  I give her points for honesty..and deduct them for being cruel. She told me, when we were adults, that when we were children, I would go walking through the neighborhood trying to find her, and she would hide with the neighborhood bully, mocking me.  Once, she even left me down a train embankment. I had weak legs and couldn't climb back out. She went home to dinner. I was stuck for hours.


She wanted to be a singer, but never put herself out there. She got drunk, she got high, and eventually spent time in a mental health facility.  She was widowed, and inherited money. When it was gone, she moved South to live with her retired parents. Last I heard, she joined a church. 




She never remarried, never developed a career, or even held a job for long.  So, there she sits in Mamas's house. 

When I thought about it, I decided she didn't need a letter.

Another gal was a close college friend. She dropped out of my life because a mutual pal decided she no longer wished to be associated with me. Apparently, she felt I had pushed her into our coven's Eldership.


 (And here I thought Wiccan students rebelled when you DIDN'T give them an Eldership!) So, our mutual friend decided to also cut ties. It was senseless, and painful. I wasn't forcing her to take sides.

 It has been decades, but I eventually found her on a popular website.  She had gone to University to be a writer.  




When that didn't work out, she took more mundane employment, got downsized, and is now out there, somewhere, without a job.  At 62, that's a rough row to hoe.

A younger, male student of mine was determined to be a country singer. He had the voice and the talent. He fell in love with a young woman who couldn't stand me. I'm not sure why. I'm no threat to anyone's claim on any man.  


He left my group by hanging a bag of borrowed books on my door handle, along with a "Dear Jane" letter. 

 Coward.

He called me about 7 years later because he thought we had "ended things badly",  whatever that meant.  He wanted to come see me.

"What about your wife? She won't like that."
  "She will have no say in MY business."
I waited a few beats. "I'm not your business."

He set up a time to come visit. I knew he would cancel. He did.

I looked him up, and found him on Facebook. Three kids, a job with some kind of media agency, same wife...and a face I could barely recognize.  No musical career.  No hint of the activities he use to love.  Hum.





Then there was the friend who had a job at a Space Agency.  She was bullied out of it, then lost her home.  I have no idea where she lives now, but she still has delusions of grandeur.  While she was employed, she blew her own trumpet and made sure everyone knew that - whatever we accomplished - she had achieved more.  Now, I see her picture from time to time popping up at certain conventions.





Finally, I found another old student. She left because she was angry I wouldn't tell her new boyfriend all about the Craft and our Tradition. I told her I simply couldn't; I took an oath. I didn't hear from her in years but -again - there she was on social media. She had two more children, lived with her mother until she died, and ended up homeless. Last I heard, she was sacking in at her daughter's place, trying to raise money on a "Go Fund Me" site.

I sat back.

I looked at this short string of lives.  Lives that had intersected with mine. Lives that had learned from me, and then abandoned me. People that I trusted, and loved, and cherished. Looking over their stories, I realized that they had created lives that led to remarkably similar places.  Almost all of them had homelessness issues, and  had given up on their talents and dreams. Their callus way of treating me was probably one situation in a string of situations which brought them where they are. It wasn't necessarily me, personally, that caused their behavior.  They probably used the same pattern when dealing with everyone.




I'm not happy that things turned out for them this way. Far from it. Maybe they are being taught wisdom by the Lords of Karma.   Maybe I'M being shown a lesson by the Lords of Karma. The last thing these folks need from me is a "tell all" letter about how they made me cry. What they did to me are just memories; what has happened to them all is real and present.

It's true, what they say: Never wish to exchange your troubles for those of another.  I've been blessed. I have a great family. I have wonderful friends. I have food, a roof over my head, and I'm warm in Winter. I've always wanted to be a writer, and I am one.  I always wanted to be a feature writer for Fate Magazine, and I am.  I've always wanted to teach English (I have) and bring the existence of the Craft to the attention of educators and the serious public (which I continue to do). I've worked hard to accomplish these things, but not everyone is fortunate enough to succeed. 

I have not done it alone. I have had the support, comfort, and love of those that I consider my family, and extended clan. 

I'm sending energy out to these one-time friends. Samhain season can be harsh on those in need. May they all make it through to next Beltane with Strength and Hope.





I decided to end this blog with a wonderful parody by the Hindi sisters and Hillywood.  They also did a marvelous "Hocus-Pocus" parody, and the best "Dr. Who" I've ever seen.  Check them out on YouTube!











May the Autumnal find you happy, healthy, and full of life, Lay your burdens down, and dance in the crisp joys of Harvest. Samhain will be here soon enough!

Next time: More cemetery crawls!