Piercing the Veil


11/11/2022

“Are you ready to come with me?” I asked. “Now is the perfect time. You want to come back, don’t you?” I held my breath, and everything felt eerily silent while I waited for his answer.

“Yes.” His answer was simple, and it came quick. I wondered if I’d heard him correctly. I started breathing again. My heart began to beat wildly as I turned away from him. I had work to do. I looked to the ground where a golden path appeared beneath our feet. Its warm glow would lead him home, back to where my physical body waited for me. I felt the pull of the physical world as I saw the path anchor onto his soul. I knew it wasn’t enough.

This was something new. Something that hadn’t been done before, not by me, at least. Still, my soul worked as if it had done this a thousand times before. It worked with an urgency, knowing we had little time to spare. I needed more than just me, I realized.

We weren’t alone anymore. Visitors began appearing all around us. One held out a glowing thread. I felt relief as I gratefully took the thread from the giver. My old friends were with us now. My black horse stood in front of him, waiting to take him down the golden path to home. She was there too. I can never remember her name, but our souls know each other and last March she came to me in a dream and reminded me that I could always count on her. I’ve been asking her to bring him home. I knew she wouldn’t let me down.

I don’t give it a second thought. I attach the glowing string to the horse’s tail. Others follow suit and now there are many glowing strings. I’m starting to see the faces of souls I recognize and stop short when I come upon my mother. She hesitates and I think for a second she may not give me her string. This is important, I know. I’m holding my breath back in my physical body. I know I need her approval for this. She does it. I can breathe again. More strings. I come to his father and again, there is a hesitation. I wonder why those who brought us into this world are hesitating, but I need that string and I stand stubbornly in front of him and wait, as I did with my own mother. He gives it. It’s the last string from the large group of souls waiting here for us.

“Wait! I need one more.” I tell the group. I disappear into an invisible door and I’m talking to someone I can’t see. “I need yours. I have to have it. It’s important.” I feel pushback and I don’t know how much time passes. I know I leave with the requested string. I hear a gasp from the crowd as I emerge from the hidden space, string in hand. I attach it to the horse’s tail.

He is on my black horse now. My friend is on her white horse. She promises to lead him down the golden path. I remember the box of “chocolates” from my dream a few nights before. They’re not really chocolates. I don’t know what they are. They remind me of chocolates. They fit into this box like a Tetris game or a puzzle. They’re important somehow. I tuck them into a saddlebag. I tell him he’ll need them when he gets to the end to pierce the veil. She knows what to do with them. She’ll help him. Edith is in the crowd. I think back to a few nights before when I bought them from Edith in a dream world and tricked Greg into telling me Edith’s name. This is another story for another entry, but Edith was not too happy about this. She steps forward angrily out of the crowd when I put the package in the saddlebag. Greg pulls her back. Not everyone is happy about what is happening here.

They begin riding. I walk with them for a while to make sure that he is okay. We leave the crowd of anxious souls behind us.

“He’s got to stay on the path.” She tells me. “He can’t get off the horse.” I tell her it’s okay. He won’t, but she warns me that the path will get worse; harder. Things will make him sick as he transitions. It will fight him. It will try to trick him into staying where he is and to turn back. We walk for a while until I notice that he’s starting to struggle. I get on the horse behind him to try and comfort him, but I can feel the sickness and the pain that this part of the journey is causing him.

I check periodically throughout the day. They continue to ride the path. I have no idea how long it will take. I can only conclude that he will end up back in the place where he first left us and so I wait. I wait here in the physical world to see where that golden path is going to lead him. In my mind’s eye I see the path leading to my home. I see it light up into the night like a lighthouse leading a ship to safety. After all this, who knows where my dreams will take me tonight.

I Feel Like I’ve Met You Before…


Like many of my dreams, this one started out one way and ended another way. Graywyn and I were searching for a candy store we’d heard about. The sun was setting as I parked my car on the side of the road in a sleepy little town I didn’t recognize, but also seemed familiar to me. I’m not a big candy eater, so we were on this mission for Graywyn. I prefer to get my calories through pasta.

We entered a quaint shop and began wandering around in search of the famous chocolate we’d heard so much about, but there didn’t seem to be any candy there. Instead there were interesting gifts and random things to look at and purchase and I realized I could spend hours there and probably a lot of money too.

I soon realized that the shopped seemed to be split into two areas. One area was managed by an older woman. She was selling beautifully made hand-embroidered pillows, tapestries and things of that nature. I’ve already forgotten what the other side had for sale, but there was a younger woman on that side. Older than me, but younger than the other shopkeeper. She had long dark brown or black hair; straight. Her face and appearance was a bit weathered; like she’d lived a long and maybe somewhat harder life. Her eyes sparkled, though, and a smile came easily to her face. She was more approachable than the older woman, so at some point I asked her about the candy shop. She explained to me that the place I was looking for was next door. I could see the sign for it out the window as she pointed. The name started with a B, but I have since forgotten it.

There are probably some details of this dream I have since forgotten. That happens a lot after I dream. I’m amazed I remember so many details so clearly still. I remember talking to this friendly woman for a little bit and before I turned to walk away from her, she said to me, “Let me know if you ever need a ride. You’ve given me a ride many times and I’ll never forget that.” I know I studied her for a moment, because there seemed to be hidden meaning in what she said. It gave me the good kind of chills and it still does when I think about it. The way she worded it was odd. I remember thinking that in the dream. I couldn’t quite place her, but when she said what she said, I knew I’d met her before in my life and maybe more than once. Perhaps she represented more than one person. Maybe the ride she spoke of wasn’t a car ride at all. Maybe it referred to good deeds I’ve done for others. At least, that was the message I got from what she said.

The other thing I noted in my encounter with the woman, who, I forgot to mention, stood behind a counter, was that there was a single discarded woman’s black boot in front of the counter. I also noted this and thought it was odd. I wondered as I first approached her if it was her boot and if so, why she’d thrown it down and where the other one was. I would later (in my waking hours) come to realize that this black boot was probably more of a symbol.

I walked away from her a bit perplexed and Graywyn was now replaced with my mother, who passed away in 2008. Now we were shopping for a family member, who I will not name. She was concerned about this person, saying that the person was not feeling well and so we needed to find a pillow with the color yellow in it, because that person would like that. I thought about it for a minute and said that yes, I had received cards with a lot of yellow from this person and agreed that a yellow pillow would be best. My mother said that the pillow would bring comfort. I then remembered back to a time last summer when I had broken my left foot and badly sprained my right and I was feeling very ill. As it turns out, I’d had several medical things going on that had caused me to fall. It’s still a bit of a mystery as to why I passed out in my backyard and injured myself, but the doctors did find that I had a blood clot on one of my pacemaker leads. I did have dreams prior to that possibly warning me of the incident too (I’ll hopefully talk about them later, if I get a chance). I have now been on blood thinners for months and the clot has been reduced, but is not gone. I feel a lot better, but this conversation between my mother and I made me think back to this time when life seemed so depressing and low, because I felt so low.

I found a pillow and wanted to grab it for myself, but saw a price tag of $250, so I did not. I had grabbed a hand bag for myself and saw my mother had one too, but we were struggling to find the right pillow. By the way, the boot theme continued here, because when I was thinking back to my broken foot, I remembered that I had to wear a boot on that foot while it healed.

I woke up never finding the yellow pillow, but I had a lot of symbolism from that dream and some most definite messages. Somebody is trying to tell me something in my dreams and I am finding them to be most interesting.

Carnival Thievery


The dream began in an odd setting I didn’t recognize. We were “at home”, but not a home I’d ever seen before in my waking life. Graywyn was there and a third person (I won’t name him, but we’ll call him “J”). Our house was close to a park. In was implied that we visited there often and today was no exception. Little Andromeda was nowhere to be found in this dream world. It was just us three humans and Baby Blue, who seemed to go to the park often.

In this dream world, it was Blue’s habit to walk unleashed from one area to another. This is something I would never do in waking life. I’m too overprotective of my dogs, especially in an area like this, which had several lanes of heavy traffic. When we got to the gate at the entrance of the park, Blue darted away. It was my worst fear. All three of us ran after him. I was sure he’d be run over. After some doing, we did catch him and I heard myself mutter that we could no longer allow him to walk himself to the park. He would now have to be leashed.

Baby Blue frolicked and played in the park for a while and then it was time to walk back home. As we walked back, I carried him in my arms, holding him close to my body. I hadn’t forgotten how close he’d come to death on our way earlier. Graywyn and J seemed to get further and further ahead of us and I decided I wanted to cross a busy road at a different point than they did. I also realized by now that the walk back seemed much further than the walk there. My surroundings started to look strange to me and I questioned if I’d taken a wrong turn. Baby Blue was no longer in my arms. Now I walked with a black horse in his place.

This horse was old and I had the sense that he’d been with me a very long time. I loved him more than I could ever love another thing. Nothing could happen to this horse. He had to complete the journey home with me. I continued to worry that we’d lost our way as I crossed an intersection that seemed to get wider as I walked across it. We did make it to the other side, but now I wondered if I was following the correct path home. I approached an older woman and asked her if she knew of a particular area (I no longer remember the name). Her face lit up when she heard this name and she said, “Oh, yes! I do. You’re not far at all! Just keep walking in that direction and you’ll be there soon enough.” I was relieved to know that I had, indeed, been walking in the right direction.

The woman also was going in that direction and we continued on together. My stomach started to feel a little sick and I was apprehensive to keep going as I approached an area that looked to be a carnival. I knew this place. In fact, I’d been here before.

“I don’t know if I’m allowed to walk a horse through here.” I said to the stranger walking with me. She assured me it would be okay. I kept going, if not a little slower than before. I felt a little relief as I looked through the large crowd of people and saw that there was at least one horse trailer and a horse there.

It was here that I ran into a small group of women I seemed to know. There were three or four of them. I was happy to see them, but it was a mistake to stop and talk to them, because before I could continue on my way, carnival magician of sorts walked over to us. I felt like I knew him, even though I didn’t necessarily recognize him in this dream. That sick feeling got stronger and even though I politely talked to him, I just wanted to take my horse and go. Still, when he offered water to the horse, I knew we had to take it. My old horse looked tired and thirsty from walking and he needed to drink to continue on our journey. What would a little water hurt?

We walked deeper into the crowd and accepted the water offered. As my beautiful old boy drank his water, the magician told me how he wanted my horse. I told him he was not for sale. He couldn’t have him; he couldn’t take him from me. We exchanged quite a few words. I told him the horse would go with no one but me. He told me it didn’t matter, his water was laced with something that would make him groggy. He would soon be asleep and he could do what he wanted. I’d lost and he would have the horse. I felt panicked. My horse was looking groggy, but he was still awake.

The evil magician told me one of my friends could have the opportunity to win my horse back for me. My friend and I agreed. I knew in my heart this was pointless. The game was probably rigged somehow. We were sure to lose. I saw another woman there. A carny. I begged and pleaded with her to help me. She looked deep in the horses eyes, as if she was communicating with him somehow and then she whispered in me ear, “Bring it to the 40 and you’ll win.” I didn’t know what that meant, but I told my friend those words and she was walking up to a wheel of numbers to play “the game”, whatever it was, right as woke up from my dream.

Bring it to the 40 and you’ll win. Those words have stuck with me since I had the dream. I’ve wondered what they mean (or will come to mean to me). My dreams have been trying hard to tell me something, especially the last few days. I guess we’ll find out.

Where to Buy Toilet Paper Online: Coronavirus News


Some retailers are limiting the number of items (toilet paper, hand sanitizer, etc) consumers can buy in one purchase. Yesterday, we could still buy quite a bit of toilet paper at our local Dollar Tree and Dollar General. This morning I could have ordered as many cases of toilet paper as I wanted from Dollar Tree. This afternoon, not so much!

There are still places you can stock up on toilet paper, but they’re running very low and will be out soon. All I can say is stock up (because now we’re being forced to), wash your hands when you come home from being out in public, limit your use and do what you can.

At the time of this article, you could still buy toilet paper online from the following retailers:

Grove Collaborative

Staples

Overstock

Office Depot

Good luck, folks!

That’s Not All She Wrote, Folks…An Announcement


If you’ve been following my blog at all, you may have noticed that it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted. If you’re connected to me or follow me on social media, my attendance has been shotty there too.

There’s a reason for that.

Many of my readers know that I’m a free spirit. I like to travel. I’m adventurous. I freelance and work for myself and I like to live my life in my own unique way. I make my own rules.

One thing you may not know (unless you are a close friend) is that I have suffered many health problems my entire life. I discovered I had my first heart issue at 22. I was healthy otherwise (at a good weight, active, young, etc). I ended up with a pacemaker. This was not my first surgery, but it was probably my first big one.

A couple years later, a new heart problem was discovered. The doctor attempted to fix it. I was his first failure. I was put on medication. Today I am 38. I’m no longer in the best shape of my life and I’ve had many surgeries for many different reasons by now. I have a scar across my neck because two years ago I was told I had lymphoma. A biopsy would be the only way to determine if it was or not. A PET scan showed tumors on all my vital organs and my spine. The biopsy was negative for cancer, so they diagnosed me with sarcoidosis. There is a lot of conflicting information about sarcoidosis.

During the biopsy time, I had been so misinformed, I thought I was dying. When the doctor mentioned my brain tumor, I thought he was nuts. I had been to see a neurologist the year before complaining of headaches, dizziness and some major forgetfulness.

The doctor ran a bunch of tests and concluded I needed to see a psychiatrist. I was already in counseling and felt brushed off. As it turns out, during a routine cat scan, he’d discovered a brain tumor right in the center of my frontal lobe, but I was never notified of this.

Imagine my shock when I learned that I could have known about this for a year and it had gone untreated and unchecked.

After I moved from WI to OR, it took me months to get my insurance and doctors in order. I ended up in one of the worst counties in the state and am limited to doctors in this county.

I finally got an updated brain scan and was referred (months later) to a neurosurgeon in Eugene. His schedule was full and he had to squeeze me in. This all took forever. When I finally saw him, he said the brain tumor would need to come out at some point in time, but it may not need to come out then. For some reason, he had my newest brain scan, but not my old ones to compare, even though my regular doctor was able to obtain them.

He said if the tumor had grown in between scans, it needs to come out now. He said he would do a craniotomy and that I’d be off of work for up to 8 weeks. He calmly described a surgery that sounded like it was straight out of a horror movie. He’d cut up one side of my temple along my hairline and all the way across my forehead, peel my forehead down, remove the forehead plate, remove the tumor and put it all back like a neat little jigsaw puzzle.

Of course, if the tumor hadn’t grown, I’d be okay, but the thing is that my doctor’s office told me that when they compared my old scan to my new scan, they could see that it had grown. By then, I knew this. My headaches were getting worse and I had lost almost all my sense of smell. Also, my forgetfulness made it hard to function day-to-day, to focus on work and so forth.

With all that being said, tomorrow is the day that I go back to see my doctor. It’s been 6 months. I’ve contacted my old clinic in WI and asked them to send all my old scans to him in Eugene. Tomorrow is the day he compares 3 years worth of scans and tells me if I need to have surgery.

I have been distracted, worried, stressed and to be honest, completely freaked. I’ve kept this info to myself, except for close friends or if there was a reason to disclose it (like if I needed to explain how I could forget something simple to someone). I also didn’t want to say anything or make it public knowledge unless I had all the facts. Even though I don’t have all the facts as I write this, I thought it best to let my readers know what is going on, so they understand my silence, my lack of interest in social media and all that. The struggle is real, folks.

I have no idea how I will survive for 2 months without work. As a freelancer, I have no savings, no personal days, no sick days and so forth. I have stayed living in an extremely cheap place for over a year in preparation for this. I’ve done everything I can. Now all I can do is find out what the coming weeks and months will bring and go from there.

I have several manuscripts in the works: I need to finish editing book one of the Shadowlands series, I’ve been working on a new horror series called Raven’s Hollow and I’d like to restart the progress on my tween series (Turvy Town). I have so much to write and so much to give back to the world, so I can only hope that this tumor will not get the best of me and that if it has to come out, I will still be my normal self afterwards so that I can live a better life and be the writer I’ve always been. Maybe even better.

Snickers Cheesecake


 

There is nothing I love more than a good cheesecake. A few years ago we were living in Ireland. We spent about a year and a half in Dublin and then we moved to Dromod, Co. Leitrim. I loved it, but our Internet wasn’t as good. Since I couldn’t work online like I had in the past, I needed another way to make money. I started making and selling desserts; mostly cheesecakes. It was easier to get my home kitchen certified in Ireland than it would have been in the US and I quickly gained regular commercial clients (mostly coffee shops). By the time we returned to the US in 2014, I was getting pretty busy. (If it had been my choice, I would have stayed and continued to grow my business.)

Snickers Cheesecake was my most popular order. I’d sometimes make 5-10 of them a week.

Since it’s Easter, I decided to make one to celebrate and I’m so glad I did. I haven’t had a cheesecake this good in a very long time. For the first time EVER, I’m sharing my recipe here. (Usually only very close friends and family can get this recipe out of me…with a lot of begging and pleading.)

Ingredients

Snickers Cheesecake

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Servings:  8

Prep time: 2 hours

Ingredients

  • 3 (8-oz) packages of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • pinch of salt
  • 1.5 cups chopped snickers candies (if you use the mini pieces, you can cut them into fourths)
  • Caramel sauce
  • Whipped cream (optional) 

Crust

  • 3 packages of graham crackers
  • 1 cup butter (melted)

You will also need:

  • 1 (9″) springform pan 
  • blender
  • 1 large roasting pan
  • parchment paper
  • foil
  • boiling hot water
  • cooking spray
  • pencil
  • scissors

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325º.
  2. Prepare everything for the cheesecake first. Use a pencil to trace the circular bottom of the springform pan onto the parchment paper. I save the insert that comes with the packaging for this also. Cut the circle out with a sharp pair of scissors. 
  3. Spray the bottom and sides of the springform pan. Place the parchment cutout in the bottom and spray it also.
  4. Wrap the bottom and sides of the springform pan with foil. I use four large pieces I can crisscross and then I press them firmly around the outside edge (up the sides). You are trying to prevent water from going inside the pan during baking. 
  5. Place the foiled springform pan inside the roasting pan and set aside. 
  6. Blend the graham crackers until they are fine crumbs. Stir the melted butter into the crumbs until they are all coated.
  7. Press crumb and butter mixture into the bottom of the springform pan. You can either make it one thick layer (or cut the crust ingredients in half) or you can press it up the sides a bit too. Use the back of a spoon. 
  8. For the batter: Cream softened cream cheese and sugar together until smooth.
  9. Add in vanilla extract.
  10. Mix in eggs, one at a time. 
  11. Add pinch of salt and cream and mix until smooth (don’t over-mix). 
  12. Gently fold in one cup of the chopped Snickers bars. Reserve remaining half a cup. 
  13. Pour mixture into the springform pan.
  14. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan 1/4 to 1/2 up the sides of the springform pan.
  15. Carefully bake for approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. 
  16. Do not open the oven for at least an hour. When the cheesecake is done, the top will turn a light caramel color and a knife inserted into the center will come out with a slight amount of cheesecake “goo” on the tip. This is okay. It won’t be completely set during the baking. 
  17. Sprinkle remaining Snickers pieces around the top of hot cheesecake just after taking it out of the oven. I like to decorate the edges of my cheesecake with cream cheese, so I place them in the middle about an inch away from the edge. 
  18. Cool at room temperature for 30 minutes and then cool in the fridge (don’t remove it from the pan) for at least 6 hours (8 is better).
  19. Remove the cheesecake from the pan onto a cake board (or plate or whatever you have). Drizzle caramel over the top for decoration and if you like, decorate the edges with whipped cream. I use homemade whipped cream frosting (recipe to come), but you can do what you like. 

If you like my recipe, please share, but please give me credit and include a link to my blog. Thank you!

Winded Gypsy Chronicles: Entry 1 – The Beginning


Beth and Crixus 04 07 19
This is me with my lab, Crixus. Photo taken a week ago.

This is my story. I’ve wanted to sit down and write it for a long time, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it until now. I justified my lack of enthusiasm by telling myself my story wasn’t done yet, but what is done? Death? I can’t write this down when I’m dead and given my health and the black cloud that seems to follow me around, that could happen at any moment.

I want to say first that I will try to post these memories in somewhat of an order, but I may jump around a bit as different things enter my mind.

Let’s jump back to June, 2010. I want to start here, because this was where the real trouble began. I was living with my boyfriend at the time and our 2-year-old daughter, Graywyn. (I’ll often refer to her as “G” for short.) I own a small 2-bedroom home in Wisconsin (hopefully not for long, though).

This was already a particularly low time for us. We had previously been doing very well with a commercial and residential construction company we were essentially running out of my garage. We had all the tools, the truck, the crew and we’d made a name for ourselves. We were doing big projects like Walmart, Sam’s Club, Victoria Secret, Harley Davidson and other name brands. We offered general construction, but tile was our specialty.

We’d been thriving before our daughter was born, but it took the two of us working together for one paycheck to make it happen. We always had money in our bank account. We had savings, were able to do things we wanted and we were pretty happy. I worked until I was about 6 months pregnant. We lived in Columbus, Ohio during my pregnancy and after we took a job that required us working on the 20th floor of a building with no elevator, I was pretty much done. I realized I didn’t have the energy to do the work. After I stopped going, things kind of went downhill.

By the time we found ourselves in June, 2010, the construction business was all but over with. Companies were filing for bankruptcy and homeowners didn’t have the money. We switched gears. I focused on writing and transcription, which is what I had done from home before the construction. I loved working with university research departments (still do for readers who may need transcription services). We were now focusing on flipping cars and doing car repairs out of that same garage.

The money just wasn’t there and we were struggling. We were still doing some construction and had a couple local homes (within a block of my house). My ex’s brother was living with us. Over a two year period we’d had a lot of people live with us to help balance out finances and to help them out. At one time, his brother and my sister were both sleeping in the finished basement and another worker of ours was living above the garage. It was a full household and I grew tired of being an adult and having to share my personal space.

By now, only his brother remained. I became aware that he was doing and most likely dealing drugs a few weeks prior to this. I’d seen him make a quick hand exchange (product for money) across the street of my house during a family party. I was pissed. I told me ex his brother had to move out…immediately. He didn’t right away, but by now he had.

He claimed he had work back in Ohio where more of their family lived. He said he was coming back, but we both knew he wasn’t and to be honest, we didn’t want him back. Enough home sharing and enough drug activity. He basically packed his stuff and left in the wee hours of the morning one day. There was something off about it.

A few days later, one of the guys who had worked for us, whose car my ex had been working on and who seemed to have some sort of beef with my ex and his brother, approached me. I’d always gotten along with him. I remember I had bought Christmas gifts for his children one year when I knew they were low on money. I do stuff like that when I can for people.

He told me that my ex was mixed up in something bad. He said it was drugs. I asked him to give me info I could verify (like where was he hiding the drugs, etc). His warning was simple. He has screwed someone over big time and these were the kind of guys who would come for me and my daughter, he said, to get to him. He told me I needed to leave.

I believed him about needing to get out of there. I’d had a dream a few months before about it. Sometimes I dream things. In the dream, I was home alone. I saw a man in my driveway with a gun. I remember locking the side door off the kitchen (the most likely door he’d go to) and then realizing my back door was unlocked. My dog was out in the back in the dream. I remember thinking he might help protect me. It’s silly now when I think about it. A bullet would stop him.

I was trying to figure out what to do next when I woke up. There were other elements in the dream, such as the knowledge that my ex’s brother was involved. The dream was vivid and served as a warning.

After the warning, I remember standing out in the yard with my ex telling him we needed to leave then. He didn’t say he didn’t believe me, but he did think my reaction was a bit extreme. He asked me where we should go? I had no idea and as I listened to my voice, a bit higher and more excited than usual, I sounded crazy to my own ears.

In the end, we didn’t leave. Instead, we went about our day. I sensed it coming, but had no idea I didn’t have more time.

Later that evening we were sitting in the living room watching a movie. It was about 10 o’clock at night and our daughter was asleep in her bed. I got up to make a later dinner. We were having egg-in-the-hole. I had the kitchen windows open and couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being watched when I was in the kitchen. I looked over at the kitchen door and noted the handle was unlocked. I started to go over to it to lock it, but something stopped me. This decision would make no sense to me until later.

I finished making our dinner and sat down on the couch with our plates to finish the movie. The house is rather small, so the kitchen, dining area and living room are all right there in an open space.

Just like in the movies, we heard a twig snap/crack outside the windows. We turned off the movie and set our plates down. My dog, Horatio, a wirehaired pointer/lab mix stayed silent. This was unusual, because any other time someone even breathed in our direction, he’d be barking. He walked silently over to the kitchen door and listened, his head cocked to the side. My ex quietly said, “You stay here.” Just like any stubborn heroin in a book or movie, I completely ignored his command and followed him over to the door.

Whoever it was tried to open the kitchen door, but it would stick, so they couldn’t get it open on the first try. By the time they did open it, we were both there. Two men were on the other side, armed. Both had ski masks on and gloves, but the first guy stuck his gun hand through the door opening first. This was his mistake, because Horatio lunged for him, grabbed onto gun and hand. My ex and I dropped to the floor and the two of used our body weight to slam the door on his arm repeatedly until he pulled his arm out, falling backwards off the deck onto my car.

“You’re dead, mother fucker!” He yelled over his shoulder before both gunmen fled. As soon as he pulled his arm out, we’d gotten the door shut and the deadbolt locked.

Thinking like a mother, my instinct sent me rushing into my daughter’s room where she still slept peacefully, not knowing what had happened at the other end of the house. I didn’t know if they’d left, if they’d just start shooting or what, so I grabbed by baby out of her crib and crawled to the central part of the house (the hallway). I laid her down on the floor and shielded her with my body while my ex dialed 9-1-1.

Police came. They assumed it was drug-related. The ran a drug dog through our house, our vehicles and our garage and came up empty. The police never fully believed our story and began investigating us.

As far as not locking the door, I feel like if I had, they would have kicked it open; probably broken it and we would not have been able to lock them out.

It’s the kind of scenario you replay in your mind constantly. I do, at least, since the night it happened. There was a knife block right there. Why didn’t one of us grab a knife and cut him? Would the police have believed us if there had been blood/DNA? Then I think if one of us had cut  him, would his natural reaction had been to shoot? Would one of us be dead or injured? I guess it played out like it was supposed to.

We stayed awake all night. The next day, we packed some belongings and fled to the Dells. We stayed a couple of days and then went to a family member’s hard-to-find cottage.

We’d visit the house to get essentials. Neighbors would approach us and say they knew of the bad things that went down. They were scared. They didn’t want to get involved and would not be talking to police, but wanted us to know that my ex’s brother had left town with about $10,000 worth of drugs from a local gang (not to be named here, but a very well-known name) and that they wanted revenge. We were told by multiple people that there was a price on all three of our heads. $20,000 for me and him and $40,000 for my child. I guess the price doubles if you have to murder a baby.

I would never sleep a night in that house again and for years, I’d only go when I had to.

We didn’t know what to do next. At the time, I was managing about 250 writers for an online academic writing and research company. The owner lived half the time in the UK and the other half of the time in Cairo. Egypt was on my bucket list of “must visit” places, so when she heard what happened and offered to fly the three of us and my dog to Cairo and put us up in one of her apartment buildings, it seemed like a good plan.

And so the course would be set for worldwide travel….

The Flooring in the RV is Installed!


 

The flooring is in. I love the way it turned out. Quarter round still needs to be added, but I think it looks great. This flooring is very easy to install and I could have installed it by myself, but I had help. (Mostly I just sat and watched, but I have installed this before.)

In case you’re interested, the flooring is: SuperFast® RidgePlex Lite Mist Floating Vinyl Plank 7 x 36 (19.48 sq.ft/pkg). I bought it from Menard’s for $44.59 a package. I ended up needing 5 boxes. I figured approximately 70 sq. ft. was needed if you figure 10 % waste.

This flooring did not need any power tools for installation (it can be scored and snapped or if you have a snap cutter, which we did, you can cut it easily) and it’s a floating floor, so it did not have to be glued down.

I love this flooring and how everything is coming together. I also received the new outside step in the mail today and it’s supposed to be installed tomorrow, so that will be great too. The current step feels like it is going to break underneath you!

Getting the Countertop Done


I was excited when I realized I had everything I needed to do my resin countertop about three days ago. Because of the design I finally decided on, it cost me about $50 more than I had originally planned for. The entire thing was about $200. I suppose I could have just gone to a Menard’s or Home Depot and ordered a laminate countertop or I could have installed the charcoal roll of laminate the previous owner bought for the dash and counter, but it wouldn’t have been all that customized and it wouldn’t have looked like stone.

In the end, I got to choose my colors and I customized the design to look exactly like I wanted it to. Not to mention that it is 100% unique and I can say I did this myself!

The entire process didn’t take long. I think I spent more time taping everything off than I did on the coating. The coating itself only took about 15 or 20 minutes. The rest of the time is waiting for it to dry. It does need to dry for 24 hours before you can put a final clear coat of the resin and hardener mix on (I plan on doing that tomorrow).

I first had to paint the wood countertop with a paint/primer mix from Home Depot called Sued Grey. I don’t have a Home Depot close to me (there is one about an hour from where I live), so I ordered some product online. This was before I realized I was going to be near that Home Depot a couple days later and could have just gone into buy everything! As it turns out, I could not find what I ordered in the store, shipping was cheap and so it turned out well anyway. On the website, you can order a sample paint, so I think it cost about $4 for a sample of Sued Grey. The smallest containers of that color in the store were around $14 to $17. I had a very small amount of counter to do (approximately 3 to 4 sq. ft.), so the sample worked. I even had paint leftover.

I started by taping everything off, including taping on plastic drop cloth I bought from Dollar Tree down the front and side of the cabinet, because this stuff does drip over the edge when you use it. I also used Dollar Tree tape (hope that doesn’t prove to be a mistake later).

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I painted 2 coats of the paint/primer on the wood, sanding with 220 sandpaper in between.

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I then “fogged” some of the black spray paint over the grey. Fogging pretty much means that you lightly mist areas of the surface (randomly).

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After the black spray paint dried, it was time to to apply the resin/hardener mix that I got from Stone Coat Countertops. This was easy. You mix equal parts of the Resin and the Hardener. Because I had such a small amount of countertop to do, I was able to order their sample kit, which costs $50 plus shipping. I believe it does 10 square feet. I’ll have some leftover if I want to do the same treatment to the very small outdated countertop for the bathroom sink. At some point, I probably will, so they match.

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Now comes the fun part. I got to play around with the spray paint and the metallic sprays. At first I followed the instructions in the video I’d watched for this particular design (LIQUID EPOXY with a paint stick), but in the end I just did what I wanted until it looked the way I wanted. The color recipe for this particular design is called Lace Blue.

I bought three spray paints for this color recipe: Gloss Black, Gloss White and Gloss Dark Blue (on the video they say to get Cobalt blue, but I couldn’t find that, so I just pulled up Cobalt Blue on my phone and held it up to the paint can caps until I found one that was pretty close).

I also purchased three metallic powder colors from Stone Coat Countertops: Deep Silver, Bright Silver and White. These little guys were $15 a piece and from Walmart I bought three empty spray bottles and rubbing alcohol to mix them in. I eyeballed the alcohol and put approximately 6 to 8 ounces in each bottle, marked the bottles with a permanent marker and added each metallic color. You have to shake these really well before you use them. I put the spray on these at the finest mist I could.

I started by fogging in the black spray paint, followed by the blue spray paint and ending with the white. I did these one more time in random patterns. I then came back with the metallics, alternating between them.

After the colors had been added, I used a paint stick to kind of pat or chop certain areas in a random design. This created a very cool circular effect. We did this, playing with the colors, until it looked the way we wanted.

I was very pleased with the end result and left it alone to dry.  This is what it looked like when it was done:

Everything has to dry for 24 hours, so tomorrow after work (I work until about 11), I will stop over and put the final coat on. The guys from Stone Coat Countertops recommend buffing the finished product after it has cured. I will probably do that. I’m not using the RV right now, so this was the perfect time to get this done. If I remember correctly, you can’t use the countertops for something like 7 days.

I absolutely loved this process. For the dramatic effect I got, it really was not all that much work. One tip about taping everything off is to make sure to tape off the backsplash. I only did a line of painters tape and unwisely did not tape plastic up over the wall, so when I sprayed my metallics it splattered. It’s okay, because I will either touch up with paint or I may cover it with a backsplash, but now I have to do something with it.

Also, make sure you wear gloves! I got a 12 pack from Walmart’s paint section for $3 or $4. It’s worth it.

Now my big fear is that with as fantastic as the countertop looks right now, something will be messed up when I pulled the tape and plastic away! I hope not, but I am dying to know. I won’t be able to do this until Sunday. *sigh*

I will post final photos once the tape is removed, so you can see how it looks with the sink and oven, etc.

Here is one final photo of my daughter, Graywyn, chopping areas with the paint stick:

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