Monday, August 31, 2015

It Depends

Jim worked today again as a substitute teacher at the middle school. It's his new normal in retirement, at least until he hits 66 and can file for full social security. We're not touching the bulk of our retirement account, trying to live on his federal retirement pay. But we're spending much less moolah now. No train tickets into the big bad city, no overpriced lunches at Union Station, and no tanks of gas just to drive an hour away to catch the train.

We're both rediscovering the lost art of the nap. Like today, around 4:30 I found myself just completely wiped out after using the time Jim was teaching to sweep, mop, vacuum, dust, scrub and straighten. I laid down for a few minutes for a quick nap. Jim joined me a few minutes later. Never did that before he retired. I had to be sick in the bed sick to lay down in the bed during the day.

Jim's learning it drives me nuts when he leaves the kitchen cabinets open or takes out the trash without replacing the trash can liner and I'm cooking from scratch for every meal because Jim prefers it. We're settling into his retirement without the drama, angst and tears that accompanied the first week or so.

My language classes are going well, I'm starting to finally get in the groove of how languages are taught very differently than they were when I last attending college thirty years ago.

Late afternoon I got a call from my friend that told me that young people learn so much quicker and other silly things almost as if she were trying heartily to discourage me. She called and said that she was calling to cry on my shoulder. I laughed and told her if she was going to try to tell me I'm too old to learn Spanish again I was not going to be in a mood to listen to her cry. Then I laughed. Hard. She realized I was joking/not joking, slightly miffed about her discouragement of the other day.

We're good friends, good enough to be honest with each other and not have to totally agree on everything. A mutual friend of ours is having a time of it with the treatments for brain cancer and she just needed to vent to someone how hard it was watching our friend struggle so hard.

Damn, I need a brownie right now. Time for homework.


It has been an interesting few weeks once the news that Josh Duggar banged a porn star and had two Ashley Madison accounts came out. I've been busier with No Longer Quivering than a proverbial one legged man at an ass kicking contest. Crazy Duggar news fuels crazy hit numbers and even crazier commentary.

The funny of it for me involves three things.

1 - Josh Duggar's 'turn ons' and requested sexual hijinks reported from the Ashley Madison hack were so completely safe, boring and vanilla. I don't know why but I was picturing him snorting blow off a dead transexual hooker's ass, not requests to give and receive oral sex and cuddling. Bill Maher put it best this last weekend, it basically boiled down to anyone not breastfeeding a baby while wearing a prairie dress.

2 - I wrote an article on how taking the purity culture thing way too far leads to guys turning out like Josh Duggar. I was careful to neither bash or praise Josh, I explained the danger of purity culture and got a crazy capacious ass-load of complaints from Christians coming into No Longer Quivering accusing me of making up excuses for Josh, for defending him.. Me? Defending Josh? Not on your tintype. I'd be more likely to hop, skip and jump around a lava pit than defend that boy! At least it gave me lots of interesting fodder for the Jerks4Jesus site, including two different young men claiming to be virgins. Well, bully for them but they're missing out on the most fun a person can have that doesn't involve laughing gas.

3 - Vyckie Garrison was interviewed by In Touch several times and was quoted by People magazine in both their print issue and online coverage of the Josh Duggar Infidelity Goat Rodeo. Almost immediately after the People publication a site decided to try and say that Vyckie does not know what she's talking about. It's a site that we used to be affiliated with but now avoid. The reason we stopped having a relationship with them involved a certain nasty group of people that are behind the scenes there. They've gone on to attack a large number of others, forcing someone I know out of the organization that she founded, harassing a number of online religious bloggers and writers including The Naked Pastor and Rachel Held Evans.

The interesting thing is that I can almost hear word for word the voice of the leader troll behind the scenes in the piece and it's someone that Vyckie launched that has no gratitude at all, merely jealousy and hatred. I was laughing reading the piece because it's disjointed and confusing plus it is glaringly obvious it was written out of the greenest of jealousy. Ms. Troll cannot stand the fact that Vyckie was the one being interviewed for these publications. That's unfortunate because Vyckie and I both have always been supportive every time Ms. Troll is interviewed and during all of her projects. I'm always glad when something good happens in the recovery movement no matter who is happens for, but not everyone is apparently. I've heard some pretty crazy stories about survivor wars from my friend Cindy Kunsman and others.

But here's the thing, it takes two sides to fight and quite frankly I don't care enough to fight. I am in the zero fucks zone now. Let the dogs bark but the caravan moves on. I'm only interested in moving forward.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

So What Happens When A Child-Raping Pastor Leaves Prison?

I don't know what's going to happen after IFB big shot Jack Schaap finishes serving his twelve year prison sentence for violation of the Mann Act by taking a 16 year old girl over state lines to have sex with. But I am getting a view to what it looks like in a small town.

Does anyone out there know what the actual hierarchy is in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church? I was raised Catholic before joining my old fundigelical church that was not affiliated with the IFB. Emailed that fount of wisdom over all things IFB Bruce Gerencser, but haven't heard back yet. I'm confused as to who is actually in charge, or is it like my old church where each pastor was the leader of his own lil' fiefdom and allowed to behave much like King Henry the VIII and enact as many crazy rules and laws as possible while the rest of us scramble to make it happen. I just do not know.

Here in the Culpeper area we had an IFB church and school that was ruled over by King...eerr.. Pastor Charles V. Shifflett. Shifflett was palsy-walsy with Jack Schaap's father in law Jack Hyles, founder of the Hyles-Anderson College in Hammond, Indiana and Pastor at First Baptist in Hammond. Shifflett had Hyles down here to speak a number of times over the years and the church sent a large number of young adults to Hyles-Anderson. Symbiotic relationship.

There were always whispers about Shifflett, that he'd beaten this child or been sexually inappropriate with that one. But the church covered up any rumors, kicking out anyone that disagreed with him. Finally in 2005 during a church split former members and their children came forward with horrendous tales of rape, beating and other claims of bizarre sexual abuse. Half the church went with Shifflett to form a new church in Brandy Station, Virginia, First Baptist Church of Culpeper. The other half stayed behind and started with a new pastor.

When the Commonwealth finally brought charges again Shifflett and he was convicted in 2008 it was not for child rape, it was for a variety of other things. From Stop Baptist Predators:

Shifflett, who was pastor at Calvary Baptist Church for 17 years, received five years each on nine counts of obtaining money by false pretenses from his congregation, three counts of filing fraudulent documents to obtain a worker's compensation award, five counts of obtaining money by false pretenses from two insurance companies and three counts of making false statements on 2003-05 Virginia income-tax returns.

I've written about this before because I was mistakenly told last year that he was out of prison even after receiving a 100 year sentence. That wasn't true. But he's out now and more crazy and outrageous things have come to light.

The new church he started, First Baptist Church of Culpeper, has been paying him a full pastor's salary the entire time he's been in prison, roughly seven years now. Not only that they've not paid the man who's been acting pastor in all that time, only Shifflett got paid while he did de nada. When Charles V. Shifflett emerged from prison one of the first things he did was attempt to return to the pulpit at First Baptist. But Shifflett was unsuccessful, there are a few attending now that sit on the elder's board that stymied his return. But guess what? They have to keep paying his salary to him.

I've been closely watching this church for quite some time now, keeping tabs on who is attending and who the pastor is. I'm not surprised at all that Shifflett tried to retake his pulpit, but I am shocked that they've been paying this child raping criminal while he's been serving prison time. That's just low.

One day his buddy's son-in-law, Jack Schaap, will emerge from federal prison and we'll see something quite similar go down if past history is a indicator of future behaviors. Betcha the first thing Schaap tries is to regain his throne.

The Substitute

Jim got to substitute teach this week. In a class for kids with behavior problems. At the middle school level.

To me this sounds like hell. He says he liked it.

The comedic aspect is that one of the kids kept asking him if he'd ever been to a strip club, or gotten a lap dance, if he smoked pot or looked at porn. Ha!

When Your Friends Aren't Your Friends

Last night I got a phone call from a friend of mine. We were talking about the challenges in our lives and I confessed that I'm struggling with the college beginning Spanish class I'm taking. I'm struggling to keep up with the 18 year olds in the class, struggling with the hour plus of home work every single night.

She'd been sharing about some struggles related to a particular job opportunity, including that she'd decided against pursuing it because it would mean working some hours when her husband would be traveling for his business. Travel she always accompanies him on. Plus she wasn't willing to put in the classroom and study work the job was going to require.

I was surprised by her attitude because I know she and her husband are in serious financial straits and need the money she could bring. But I still encouraged her to find something she could do.

Her advice to me was a shocker. She started telling me that 55 year olds cannot possibly learn as easily or as swiftly as 18 year olds so I'd better be thinking about dropping the class and getting a refund before that deadline passes. She then went on to say any number of discouraging things about going to school as an mature adult.

The last time I had a friend try to run a number of me like that was something like fifteen years ago. That person just about complete derailed my life on many levels. For many months this friend, who is now deceased, tried to guilt me because I'd married out of college and not pursued my art career, like she had. She kept proclaiming what she'd done as 'true' and 'honorable' and 'artistic' and what myself and others had done by marrying and keeping our art only to a hobby as 'small-minded' and 'predictable' and 'waste of a life and education'.

I nearly bought it, I just about walked away from my marriage and my life because of all the guilt and condemnation she heaped me with. I could have stopped her, I could have told her how wrong she was, but I didn't. I allowed her jealousy to infect everything good about my life for about 18 months before I woke up and realized she was upset that I was leading the life she always wanted. Our friendship ended over it once I discovered that she was manipulating me in order to make herself feel better.

I don't think this friend is deliberately doing what the dead friend did. But I do think there's a measure of fear tinged maybe with a soupcon of jealousy. This person isn't very self-confident and has asked me before how I dare do some of the very things I love to do and doesn't seem to understand I do what I do because I want to do those things.

One thing is for sure. While the homework is long and arduous, and I'm not loving the classroom time I'm no quitter. I'm going to see this through to the end, pass or fail.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Ten Years On

This week is the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and I still remember and feel echos of the pain from that time. Much of my family of origin lived in South Louisiana that the time. Most of them have now left New Orleans and the surrounding areas.

All the remembrances in the media have made for a jumpy week for me.

The week before Katrina I was at the last Christian conference I would ever attend. The Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship people were in Houston, another 'Acquire The Fire' event.. I think. It was held at a big Evangelical church near Harris County Barbecue. Laura, my Aunt Jo and I attended the week long conference, staying at a large new all suites hotel a few blocks from the hotel.

I had a good time that week. Jo and I sat with a charismatic Catholic priest for some of the sessions. One of the most touching things I've ever seen occurred at one of the teachings where a Baptist minister washed the feet of a Catholic priest, who washed the feet of a Assemblies of God minister and so on, a time of real unity.

Laura had returned from Romania a few weeks before this trip and got very sick during that week. Later we realized it was from the bus she was riding on in Romania malfunctioning. It filled with smoke and the kids started screaming and hopping out of the bus. Some of the asthmatic of the group ended up in one of the primitive hospitals in Oradea, Romania. Laura seemed fine at the time, but started having problems on the trip, ending up having hideous fatigue and coughing fits. More than a few sessions she ended up laying on the carpeted floor of the sanctuary exhausted and pale.

We'd no sooner flown home, unpacked, gotten Laura to our family doctor for treatment when Hurricane Katrina was forecast. As always since I lived through Hurricane Camille as a child my habit is to nervously watch the hurricane coverage on television and worry about relatives. Phone calls to and from Louisiana told me that some of my family had left and some stayed. My mother had long since relocated to north of Baton Rouge, so I knew I didn't have to worry much. Rarely do hurricanes do much more than rains, winds and flooding, nothing like the jackhammer force they sometimes pummel the New Orleans area with.

I remember early Weather Channel coverage, snickering as some stupid newscaster tried to walk and report on the high winds in the French Quarter only to be knocked down like a bowling pin. He did a header right onto the brick pavement, and then things got worse.

That week was awful, was on the phone many hours as relatives far flung were trying to find places to land. I watched as many parts of my childhood were swept away. One of my aunt's house was a mere block from the 13th Street Canal levee break. An elderly relative disappeared after refusing to leave his home in Uptown New Orleans, popping up in Gramercy on his bicycle a week later.

The worst day was the day the Yacht Club burned down. My father always had a boat, going way back to a boat with an Evenrude outboard engine that sat in our carport, to a big sailboat for awhile and eventually he ended up with a much larger boat christened Boba. For the first time since he'd died I was thankful he was dead. My father loved New Orleans, loved the history, the party atmosphere and would have taken the devastation worse that I did.

Some of the worst tales came out of two of my uncles, working at two different news stations in New Orleans. One told of having to fend off looters and hysterical locals with a shotgun from the roof of the station. But I'm immensely proud of both as they stayed at the stations round the clock in order to get information on the dire state of the city out to the rest of the world.

I was depressed over it for a very long time, feeling it anew each time a horrible story about surviving Katrina emerged in the media. We funneled every single excess money we had to my relatives as they started to try to accomplish the monumental task of reclaiming wrecked homes and careers.

One of the rough things about it was that my husband used to work at the foot of Prytania St. at the Army Corp. of Engineers. Every single year the Corp of Engineers tried to get federal funding to shore up and fix the crumbling levee systems, warning that something like Katrina would happen only to get funding denied. What they did get was a warehouse of a 100,000 body bags for the expected casualties of a Category 4 or 5 direct hit on the Greater New Orleans area.

What really added to my personal angst as I was trying to do the few things I could for my loved ones from far away Virginia was the comments and questions that started being asked of me by people from my old evangelical church. Either someone would ask me if I thought this was divine punishment for the 'sin' of New Orleans or they'd just straight out proclaim this was God washing all the scum and sin away, that the people of New Orleans brought this on themselves.

I might have still been drinking the koolaid of the old church but comments and questions like that made me see red. Especially after grim stories and video emerged of the poorest and most vulnerable Big Easy residents begging to be air lifted from their roofs. How insensitive to claim this was God's justice and judgment.

Jim and I drove down to Louisiana for Christmas that year. His mother was living in retirement community by then and we stayed in her old home, camping with the few pieces of furniture left. It was a strangely subdued Christmas. My mother was in Dallas with two of her sisters so I didn't even get a chance to see her.

We drove into New Orleans proper one day over the holidays. I've never forget how unnaturally quiet the city was. The medians on some of the grander streets were piled as much as fifty feet high with refuse from the storm. Very few traffic lights were operational in the city, four way stops were the rule of the road.

We drove through the Lakefront neighbor my aunt had lived, near the levee failure, jaws dropped, mouths ajar at the destruction. But for all the destruction you could feel a real sense of purpose, of community in the people that remained and started to rebuild. I felt hopeful. Sadly enough it hasn't exactly worked out that way, except for the few houses built in the Ninth Ward by actor Brad Pitt. It seems now ten years on that the rich have remained and rebuilt while so many of the poor are still in transition ten years later.

I figured that might happen when I noticed every single time I flew in Baton Rouge to see my mother and as we were descending for a landing at Ryan Airport you'd see the Fema trailers parked squashed between the oil tanks of Exxon and the airport for at least three years post-Katrina.

Not even going to get into the politics of what happened or while party or politician is responsible. I just wanted to record my memories before they completely fade.

Pictures of the Lower 9th Ward from 2012

From New Orleans December 2005

Post Katrina pictures from Biloxi, Mississippi December 2005

Saturday, August 22, 2015

When You Least Expect It

Originally I was coming in here to whine about how hard this week was. I started college anew merely to learn Spanish and how they teach foreign language at a college level has changed drastically. How this will play out for me is unknown at this time. I'm studying and utilizing the online language labs. Can this old lady learn new tricks?

The other sucky is that this week brought more Josh Duggar sexual predator news. Meaning, just like in May, I'm spending more hours sitting at my computer reading the news feeds and endlessly updating the information on No Longer Quivering. Yeah, yeah, I know it's my job, but I cannot help but feel sorry for Anna Duggar in this last cheating scandal.

But on the good news front my friend Joanie stopped by yesterday afternoon and we sat in the newly landscaped area on our front lawn we're calling our 'front lawn living room'. The weather was gorgous, live has been so busy that this is the first real time we've had to connect and talk.

But that wasn't what so good and awesome about the visit. It was the fact that Pedro, my scaredy cat Siamese that for the last six years we've had him hides from anyone that is not immediate family. Pedro didn't hide, he came strolling over and flopped down in the grass something like fifteen feet from where we sat talking. We both greeted him and he didn't run, he stayed and I could see from his body language that he was completely relaxed.

I don't know if it's because Joanie has been at our house a great deal and he finally realizes she's no threat to him, or if he's just starting to mellow out in his old age. It's the first time that a non-family member hasn't made Pedro hide under the sofa or a bush.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Laundry Day Blues - Political Meltdown Version

So yet again my oh so very expensive European dryer has done its every 24 month breakdown and I'm waiting the obligatory two weeks or so it takes the certified manufacturer's repair guy to get here from Maryland. It died last Tuesday in the middle of my post Michigan vacation mountain of laundry.

Meaning I do what I always do when that strangely delicate and finicky dryer decides to break down. I do the wash daily and hang it to dry on my large portable drying rack. There's only one problem doing it this way, actually three problems: sheets, towels and jeans never seem to dry soft enough on the line. Which means one weekly trip to the local laundry mat to dry those three types of laundry.

I don't mind it, really I don't. There's a laundry mat a few miles from the house that is clean, well-maintained and safe. The interior is painted the prettiest shade of light butter yellow and there's a wall paper border with charming prints of clothing hanging on an old fashioned clothesline. Clean folding tables and comfortable chairs, rolling carts and it's clean, very clean. Run by a nice lady that I see almost continually sweeping, mopping or wiping down surfaces. The Diet Cokes are cold in the machine and beckoning me. I like it there.

Even the fact that this takes time away from my day to sit in there with a book and wait for my clothes to dry isn't a big deal. I find those weeks I have to use the laundry mat force me to take a relaxing break and simply read.

Today's drying of the sheets, towels and jeans wasn't quite so relaxing. I had only powered up my Kindle a few moments earlier when someone I'd seen at the church I go to now entered the place. She's older than me, but not by much, perhaps ten years. I noticed as she came into the laundry she didn't look very happy, and like me was toting many laundry baskets of wet clothing. If I had to guess I would say she's another victim of a stubbornly dying dryer.

She looked uncomfortable, nervous even, making her way with her loads of wet clothes to the wall holding the dryers. I noticed she was fumbling with her change, having trouble figuring out how to use the dryer and she'd ignored the notice on that dryer saying it was broken.

The lady stood out from everyone else in there by the mere fact that she wore a knit pantsuit and expensive low heeled pumps. Everyone else was dressed far more casually, a young mother with her baby wearing jeans and a tee. An African American lady in gym wear, a Hispanic in  capris and a tee. A bunch of people I know from the soup kitchen and shelter that were all in jeans and tees. Myself in a loose casual skirt and tee. I know she had to feel so out of place on so many levels.

After a few frustrating minutes ticked by without the lady realizing that this dryer was never going to work she ended up going to the laundry manager to ask for a refund. I didn't hear what was said as I was busy folding sheets, but I did overhear every word of her meltdown as she pushed away from the counter and started ranting about how we were all going to be put in our places once the presidential election happens and Donald Trump is president.

What? Ranting about politics in the laundry mat? Yep and it was embarrassing to sit through. I should have taken video on my Iphone and uploaded it to YouTube as she went around pointing and telling folks off.  No doubt it would have gone viral, like every other ranting nut bar video does.

What did she say? She started off by shouting at the lone Hispanic woman that Trump would be deporting her ass back to Mexico rapido before turning to the others there and telling all of us that The Donald would be kicking our asses off welfare pronto as well.

I don't know if anyone there is or isn't on welfare but by the time she moved on to telling individuals that they shouldn't be having fancy manicures and smart phones on welfare I'd had enough. It felt too much like Fundytown and all the pointing/blaming and shaming that goes on there. When she got to me she was still shouting, this time pointing to my Coach purse, my Kindle, my pedicure in bright turquoise glitter polish and my expensive sandals, telling me I was a 'Welfare Queen'. She made a bunch of Tea Party type statements and wouldn't stop.

Finally I had to say something. I asked her if our pastor, Pastor Randy, would like what she's saying, where was the love for her fellow humans in what she was saying. I hated going immediately to the fundy-shut-the-fuck-up card of mentioning the pastor but I couldn't think what else to say to stop her verbal abuse of everyone in the room. I think it is a hangover of how you handled the public misbehavior by fellow church members in Fundy Town.  It was only at this point that she realized she knew me from church and she shut up finally. I sighed, helped her get her washing into working dryers and explained how to use them.

After talking her off that rant cliff  I realized she's out of her element, her comfort zone of nice white middle class folks and this is her reaction to it, wrong or right. There was more than a touch of white privilege going on too. But I have to say she's not the only older person I've seen lately that loved Donald Trump and loves the idea of throwing people off welfare and deporting all the Mexicans. I have older relatives who've expressed admiration and support from Donald Trump.

Never have I seen a time where people are so divided by race, class and politics. It makes me fear for our future. Very depressing.

But at least I have clean sheets again.

Monday, August 17, 2015


I had a conversation with my friend Joannie this morning. She's the one that we'll be sharing the resort suite with in Fort Lauderdale. She's a good friend, has been for a long time now, one of the few good ones I've kept post-Fundytown.

One of the things we discussed is that I told her of my plan to hop a tour bus in Fort Lauderdale for a day in Key West with my pal Cindy. We've be talking about a Key West day for ages. I invited Joannie but had to warn her that a) we would be drinking copious amounts of cold adult beverages and b) there might be a few visits to paranormal hot-spots and a pilgrimage to the museum holding Robert the Haunted Doll.

I knew Joannie is still pretty conservative and still living part-time in Fundytown so I wasn't surprised she was not a fan of my plans. She wants me to put off the Key West trip until our co-family vacation is over. I'm not inclined to do that so I'm anticipating push-back at some point.

Rarely do I go looking for the paranormal, but Key West is like my visit to the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum five years ago. I cannot resist the allure. Plus the weather, scenery and beaches make it a day trip I must take.

One thing it did start me thinking about is all the insane paranormal places and experiences I have had here in good old Central Virginia, listed below not necessarily in order. None of these places have I ever gone attempting to have an encounter.

The Graffiti House - Brandy Station, Virginia: This is one of those places where the electrical energy is so strong that I usually get very sick to my stomach. I've been touched there, heard disembodied voices and once found what I can only assume was General Hooker telling me he's angry that people associate his name with prostitutes.

The State Theater - Culpeper, Virginia: Used to work for the theater chain that owned the State as well as the theater I worked at when I first arrived in Culpeper. My experiences at the State were when I was still trying to ignore and suppress the things that seemed to happen around me. The State Theater was built originally by Mr. Pitt and he's been seen by many people working there, including me. He's usually spotted in the balcony overlooking the place. The State is old, very old, dating back to the beginning of the motion picture industry invading every small town. Once while called in to start the film on a late night showing I looked over the balcony after coming down from the projection booth and saw that the entire theater was filled, blinked and looked again, only seeing some twenty or thirty people.

The projection booth was most interesting because it was straight up a very steep flight of stairs from the back of the balcony area. It was built for the days of the old carbon arc movie projectors, when films switched from reel to reel between two projectors. The projectionist had to stay in the booth while the film was running to pick up on the film cues (round circles at the end and beginning of the reels) and move from projector to projector to keep the film running without any lapses. So the projection booth at the State was built with a toilet in the center of the booth, which always made me laugh! One of the weirdest things about the projection booth was the rare times I got called over there to start a film I would lay out the splicer and other tools just in case the film broke, leave the projection booth to go work the candy counter and lock the projection room door. Later I'd come back and find that all my tools had been rearranged in the booth. I heard from others that ran the projectors that they had similar experiences.

Childhelp Alice C Tyler Village - Lignum, Virginia: Worked there about a year and had a handful of very unnerving experiences including whenever I worked alone in the main reception building I'd encountered the spirit of a small boy. Many times the electronic toys in the playroom in that building would turn on by themselves when this spirit appeared. Measured the EMF in the building and it was much higher than normal.

One of the cottages I would frequently hear the laughter and murmuring of a small boy in the locked office when no one was around.

Others I know have reported seeing and hearing things around the building that Alicia Showalter Reynold's body was found behind as well as seeing Civil War era soldiers at the pier near the Rappahannock River.

Route 3 Road -  Lignum, Virginia - Both myself and a family member have seen Civil War era soldiers coming out of the woods where the lanes narrow from four to two. This has happened more than once.

The Hunton House - Madison, Virginia: Pre-Civil War hotel on the main drag it faced the quilting store I worked in. Many times at twilight I've glimpse a face or shadowy figure in the upper stories of the building. The building is devoid of residents with the exception of the caretaker, an elderly man who lives in a ground floor apartment.

The Old Tuberculosis Sanitarium - Madison, Virginia: Across the street from the Hunton House is a small white building sitting on Main St. that was used back in the 1800s as a place to quarentine tubercular patients. Frequently saw faces at the windows and heard noises coming from the completely empry building.

The Little Quilt Shop - Madison, Virginia: Worked at the shop, which was situated in an old church built in the 1800s. Doors would open and close by themselves, we would hear overhead footsteps in the choir loft and occasionally you'd hear snippets of hymns being sung. Building is empty and closed now.

Manassas Battlefield Park at Bull Run - Manassas, Virginia: Many times in my way to see my adult children I take a a short cut down an old Post Office road and the same road that the Yankees and Southerners marched down. I sometimes see the soldiers if I'm driving through the battle ground area at night.

There are more but it's late and I'm wearing out. Any Central Virginia ghost hunters out there? These might be good to start with.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Planning and the Paranormal

Jim is having a meeting right now with his Malaysia business partner/possible con man Mark right now, so I'm sitting here listening to some 70s nostalgia music trying to drown out Mark's voice while I plan our fall vacation to the Palm Beach/Fort Lauderdale area. I need the beach!

What I do not need is having no choice in listening to Jim and Mark's Skype meeting. Just the sound of his voice pisses me off immensely. Not Jim's voice, Mark's words and inflections.

It started back when he zeroed in on Jim back in February and has been attempting to get Jim to go into business with him. First it was building houses, then it was building rental homes, followed  by buying old cars to fix up and resell. All of these schemes involved Jim putting up the money and Mark putting up the work and then the two of them splitting the profit 50/50. I was able to shut those down pretty quickly by pointing out to Jim that the risk was entirely on our side.

My gut instinct is telling me that Mark has zeroed in on Jim as an easy mark with money, not figuring on my putting up any fight over these things. I'm sorry but I have a tough time trusting people that brag that they know millionaires when it's obvious the only millionaires they know are the Pangburn's candy of the same name. Add in a nomadic life and some years spent running a Russian mail order bride dating service and I'm even less impressed. Everything smells like a possible con from here.

Once Mark got into trouble with his job, decided to up and quit, flee the country (and likely the IRS) he decided that he and Jim would go into business together doing furniture imports from Malaysia. He's pushed pretty hard and Jim has dutifully gone out and tried to get furniture orders. Mark's frustrated right now with Jim, claiming that he's spent over five thousand dollars on his end on this furniture business. I keep trying to get Jim to make Mark quantify this claim as all I can see on this end is that he's contacted a few furniture factories, held a few Skype meetings and scanned in the manufacturer's catalog. There's just no huge impressive investment that I see.

No investment on this end beyond business cards, a cheap and nasty website and a CD catalog I put together just so Jim would have something to hand out when he has met with furniture buyers.

I sense a money plea coming soon...

One of the things we did this very busy week was drive into the city to have a meeting with an organization run by retired executives that give advice on starting up businesses. The guy who'd worked for the Commerce Dept handling import and export policy and working in the field pointed out to Jim that this was at best a very long shot because of a couple of factors, 1 - Jim knows next to nothing about furniture at all and 2 - getting your foot in the door with the buyers is going to be a long and costly process, likely we'd have to go to the trade shows with product.

Again, money, money, money, something I'm not wild about spending on this... and it would be way more than five thousand dollars.

I guess there's no harm in trying sales calls, but my inner voice is telling me this is some sort of scam.


One thing I do know, I'm looking forward to going to Key West for the day with my friend Cindy. I want to see Robert the Haunted Doll, drink copious quantities of coconut rum and visit all the paranormal hotspots in Key West. I'm excited.


We drove home from Michigan and Jim's friend Gary's home and decided to forego the Ohio and Pennsylvania Turnpike for a change. We took back roads through rural Ohio and West Virginia instead. Funny bits, started getting the same massive sick to my stomach I always get in high EMF fields, looked at the map and realized we were a few blocks from the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.

Unfunny bit: My perfectly maintained old lady mobile started to overheat slightly on highest point of Highway 33 through West Virginia. Starting to have problems with the air conditioning, I'm thinking this caused the over heating. We ended up pulling over at a scenic turnout and taking a break.

This week back has been filled with activity too. Jim had physical therapy appointments. I had to get my VPAP and nebulizer checked out at the medical supply place. The trip into the city for the business. Also I had some crazy fall out to deal with from our scuffle with the IRS four years ago. The IRS never told the tax people in the state of Virginia that they'd accepted our amended return for the year our broker screwed us by only reporting our sales but not that we'd turned around and reinvested the money. So the state had threatened to go into our checking account to take the money they thought we owed. That was an enormous pain the rump to fix, but I did it. We own them nothing.

Today I went and visited Laura just to get a breather from the insane busy of this week. Just something as simple as a grocery shopping trip with my daughter was a much needed break. Laura has discovered she hates 'adulting' - paying bills, buying groceries, trying to juggle a full time job and classes for her Masters degree. I feels her. I have days when the idea of playing with bubbles, coloring in coloring books and eating a Lunchable seems so so desirable. I'm proud of how she's turned out, even if she hates to adult as much as I do many days.

I may have solved the Jim nagging me and trying to get me to do things with him all the time. I have him picking the apples from our trees so I can make jelly, canned apples and pie filing. The secret to him not driving me nuts is to have a powerfully long 'Honey Do' list.

School starts soon and I'll be in class many days so there's that.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Next Time A Hotel

I hate to admit it, but I'm something of a snob. A movie snob, a television snob, a food snob.

This only usually becomes a problem when traveling, or when Tom Smith was haranguing me about my tastes back during my old church days. He once wrote me a long ranty email about how I was an evil bitch for liking more independent films and non-chain restaurant.

"Game of Thrones" - awesome. "Friends" - not my cup of tea. It's not that either is a better or worse choice than the other, they are just so fundamentally different. And that's okay. It's all a matter of personal choice.

One of the other things about coming out of fundamentalism is that I have no use for playing 'nice' over culture any longer. I have no patience for things I consider to be banal or a waste of time. Where once I would sit quietly and watch a movie I didn't like for the sake of not offending the other person I don't do that any longer. I don't make a sense about it, I just leave the watchers to it and go do something else entirely. Life is too short to sit through things you don't like when you could do something else.

We're staying with Jim's high school buddy and his wife. Tonight they wanted to watch a movie and I have to admit I was rolling my eyes at the list of stuff they like. "Twilight"? Oh please no. "The Hunger Games"? No thanks... and a long list of other over hyped films that Hollywood promotes and releases that just have never appealed to me. Which is why I'm bitching on this computer instead of watching a film....

I think next time we're going to have to stay at a hotel, a hotel where I can easily bow out of watching a film, or don't have to wait for the lone bathroom to be unoccupied. They are nice people and I've known them for years and years and years, it's just I'm getting too old, too cranky and too filled with back pain from sleeping on an old twin bed mattress to feel very accommodating right now. Ready to go home.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Michigan Friends and Ghost Adventures

Here I am in Michigan. Life has been too busy since Jim retired to do much updating. It's all I can manage to update NLQ daily and keep up with him. When I last posted Jim decided on his first day of retirement to drag out everything in the garage onto the front lawn and then demand I come out and help him sort it. I was steamed, so pissed I couldn't see straight because he didn't plan it, he didn't consult me, he just bullied his way on through. Eventually we did get it sorted, gave away a huge pile of things to Goodwill, threw away others and sorted what was left back into the garage. The hardest task I had to do was save a few of Andy and Laura's childhood toys from Jim's sorting rampage.

We left on Sunday for a week here in Michigan so Jim could do his yearly re connection with his high school buddies. We made a lunchtime stop in Ohio and had lunch withNLQ writer and just general all around good guy Bruce Gerencser, his wife Polly and delightful daughter Bethany. Jim and I enjoyed our stop a great deal and really liked the Gerencsers a great deal! One of the trip highlights so far.

Jim does this yearly, this visit to his old home town and friends. First we spend a few days in East Lansing with his friend Joe. Joe was on the outs in high school, a weirdo avoided by everyone but Jim.The first time I met Joe he kept flipping between porn channels on television in front of my kids and I.

I never particularly liked Joe until last summer when we just clicked, and I was able to finally see the goodness inside of him. Before I was still looking at him with the prissy filter of a evangelical Christian woman who would always look down her nose at people with substance abuse problems who could not keep jobs or conform to Christian societal norms. His porn viewing in front of my kids didn't help.

This year we were especially concerned to visit Joe because he was recently released from the hospital after a bout with pneumonia. It was discovered while he was in the hospital that he has hepatitis C and has likely had it for years. The odds are not looking good for his longevity, plus Joe is refusing to take the medicines he was prescribed in the hospital. He looks awful, the most unhealthy gray pallor along with barely weighing a hundred pounds now. Death not even warmed over.

We've taken Joe to lunch and hung out with him at the video game arcade before taking him shopping. He has to rest frequently lest he get out of breath. I don't mind that as I'm having one of the worst bouts of asthma I've had in over a year. My oxygen levels seem to want to hover between 85 and 91 percent. I'm getting out of breath pretty easily too.

But while in Lansing I've gone out of my way to avoid one of Jim's high school friends, T-Bone. Last year I realized at the high school reunion that the years I've felt sorry for T-Bone for having no luck with women were misplaced. He showed up with a fiance, the fourth or fifth one since I've known him, and she would have been wife number three. T-Bone kept talking horrible things right in her face, like she was good enough for 'right now' until someone better came along. He said things I would have had to smack him in the head for if I had been in Irene's shoes. Poor Irene just got very drunk after lots of begging T-Bone to buy her more drinks. I saw very clearly for the first time that T-Bone uses his big bank account to manipulate women to control them into treating him the way he sees himself as king. I am guessing this wasn't a new behavior.

Add in that no one in Jim's circle likes T-Bone, Jim barely tolerates him combined with his habit of spamming Jim with porn, the fact that Facebook banned him and I really do not want to be around him. One of the things that Jim has complained through the years about T-Bone is that T-Bone insists on everything going his way or else.

Right before our trip into Michigan Jim let it slip to T-Bone that we would be staying in a Lansing area hotel for three days. T-Bone insisted quite forcefully that we cancel our hotel reservations and drive an additional three hours to stay in his lake front home with him and the former fiancee pre-Irene, Miss Doris. He got angry and told Jim he wasn't taking no for an answer. I told him no after T-Bone refused to listen to Jim, because Doris smokes nearly continually, I'm having bad asthma right now, plus I'd prepaid for our hotel rooms to get the best rate and that came with a no cancellation policy. I didn't add that we couldn't stay there because he gives off creep vibes, slavering lusting creep vibes and I'm turned off by his manipulation of women.

Avoid the T-Bone!

Today we're at Gary's house, probably Jim's best friend from high school. We stay with Gary and his wife every summer. Every time in the last four years they've been in a different house. They got caught up in the housing financing mess and lost their long time home and have moved and moved and moved. Now they are in a home they just bought, a fixer upper near a lake that went for a small sum. They've done wonders with this house, removing walls, remodeling the kitchen and baths, installing hardwood floors, tastefully light earth toned carpets, stonework, tiling, you-name-it. It is well on it's way to beautiful. That's sort of where my problem comes in with staying here.

This morning after everyone left, Mrs.Gary for work and Gary plus Jim to a Detroit Tigers game, I was washing my hair in the lone bathroom sink. When I straightened up and started to reach for a towel I saw her, rather her reflection in the mirror showing she stood just behind me. In the seconds before I saw her all the hairs on the back of my neck, wet as they were, started to stand on end and I knew I was not in this beautifully remodeled home by myself as I first thought.

I've not had a good solid encounter with the other side in a few months. I never seek these things, they just happen. They find me. But I do what I can to not encounter them.

I don't know her name, she hasn't revealed that yet, but I'd say she's elderly, perhaps in her mid 70s and boy is she pissed off. She used to live in this house, from the time it was built. She picked out the awful black and white tiles still covering the floor of the still to be redone laundry room. She chose the glaring orangy-peachy paint on the walls of the also untouched basement rec room slated to be remodeled next.

Now she's pissed off that our friends, the new owners, are in the process of erasing her stamp on the house. She hates the new kitchen with the trendy deep black sink and marbleized countertop. She's angry about the carefully taupe carpeting and buttermilk color painted walls. She wants me to tell the new owners that she's unhappy with their renovations of their house.

I am doing no such thing. I've told her this several times now along with telling her she must move along, this is no longer her home and she is dead. She's pissed, stomping around and making noise. The lid of the washing machine had banged down and I hear thumps and heavy footsteps upstairs.

Guess what I'm doing this afternoon? If you guessed spiritually cleaning house here you'd be right. I have my supplies out. This is so not what I wanted to do today. I was planning on sitting around on the deck reading. But she needs to go. Now if I could just get T-Bone to leave me alone at Saturday night's class reunion this easily things would be better.

The existence of the paranormal is the real reason I cannot totally toss God out with the fundie bathwater. I've seen evil, I've seen that consciousnesses survives the death of the body so I cannot totally rule out God.