Not Quite Being a Paranormal Writer

I applied for the Paranormal topic at About.com today. But, I tried 3 times over the afternoon, the site keeps giving me a 404 error when I send the application. So, for personal posterity, here is what I sent.

Time travel, mad science, aliens, cryptozoology, the supernatural, lost worlds, the unexplained, weird science, history, and magic absorb me. I would enjoy exploring and writing more about these topics and others for About.com. Of course, it isn’t possible to write about anything without burying yourself in it and exploring your way out again, eventually. Getting lost is part of the adventure and with anything paranormal getting lost is expected. We don’t have all the answers, if we did it would all just be science.

I am an urban explorer, photographer, history geek, Pagan, artist and I’ve just joined the local archivist group in Barrie, Ontario.

I love history and old places. I’ve been interested in the paranormal since I was a kid but I’ve grown to be skeptical about a lot of it. I do believe there are mysteries and unexplained things we just are not able to understand with our current knowledge. I like theories and I will read about pretty strange, unexplained and unusual stuff but I like to make sense of it in some way. I also like reading theories I don’t agree with because we need to hear from both sides and, often, you can find something that does make sense or gives you better insight from those who disagree with you.

I believe in ghosts and I believe places can be haunted, but I am not a ghost hunter. I have a friend who runs a ghost hunting group in Colorado but I don’t think it is really possible to make contact with ghosts or spirits on our level of existence. I do believe in reincarnation. I do believe places can be haunted but not by ghosts who can interact with living humans. I don’t think anyone is going to be having a social cup of tea with a ghost. Ghosts are something leftover from life. I prefer to think we don’t hang around after death but get recycled/ reincarnated and move on to something new instead. Possibly not always a human being, people seem to take that for granted.

I photograph old and abandoned houses, mostly in rural Ontario. I’ve been doing so for more than 10 years now. I’ve never seen a ghost or felt a presence. I did get attacked by bees, birds and once I think I stepped on a frog – that was the grossest thing. Afterwards I couldn’t find it but it still squicks me (gives me sick shivers). I’ve also seen my share of mummified animals. But, it’s the living animals which usually keep me from entering an abandoned house. I also don’t like the idea of trespassing beyond what I feel is polite. I am Canadian.

I have been a Pagan since my college days, officially. I always questioned religion but didn’t do much about it until I was out in the world, on my own. I think of myself as an Atheist Earth Witch because I don’t believe in gods but I do believe in life, nature and people. I’m a quiet Pagan, a lot of what I do is personal, just for myself. But, I do like to help anyone who is interested in learning more.

I read about issues involving ecology, history and science. These seem very connected to me. If I could go back in time (and not die right away) I would like to be an alchemist. They didn’t just get stuck at turning things into gold. They were early scientists in the time of herbalists and Witches. No doubt they had thousands of great theories which didn’t get written down somewhere – or more likely did get scribbled out somewhere, had something spill on it and wound up being used for kindling.

Looking forward to getting started!

Laura

Social Media:

I am an editall editor at dmoz. I’m careful about how I use this but it does enable me to at least list my sites.
Twitter is my favourite social media but I do have Facebook and other sources, like Scoop.it. I have three active blogs, two of those are listed on Alltop, Writing and History topics.
http://laurabrown.ca/
http://wordgrrls.com/
http://wreckyratbird.com/
http://asciiartist.com/
https://twitter.com/thatgrrl
https://www.flickr.com/people/thatgrrl/
http://thatgrrl.tumblr.com/
http://pinterest.com/thatgrrl/
https://www.facebook.com/ThatGrrl
https://ello.co/thatgrrl
http://www.scoop.it/u/laura-brown
http://www.dmoz.org/editors/profile/view?editor=shedragon

The Challenges of Saving Lighthouses

This is reposted from Swallowtail Keepers Society blog. The blog is abandoned but the post is worth saving. Far more involved with saving lighthouses than I would have thought. (I did think about the weathering).

Lighthouses are usually located in the face of storms, exposed on several sides to strong winds and sea spray, frequently difficult to get to and challenging to maintain. With lighthouses de-staffed or de-commissioned, budget cuts rampant, and maintenance minimal, it is hard to see these once well-maintained structures deteriorate to a point that they begin to crumble but it is becoming all too common. The magnitude of the maintenance or restoration, and the ability to get to the lighthouse is often overwhelming. We have been fortunate with Swallow Tail that ownership has been transferred, access is challenging but better than many, and through the support of the community and access to various sources of funding, restoration work has been possible.

Unfortunately, in five months, three other lighthouses in the Maritimes have disappeared. Two collapsed during storms, the abandoned Fish Fluke Point on Ross Island decommissioned in 1963 but defied gravity for years (November), and Church Point on St. Mary’s Bay, NS, decommissioned in 1984 (March), and one burned to the ground, the remote fibreglass lighthouse at Point Aconi on Cape Breton Island (February). Fire was always a worry before lights were electrified. Elodie Foster, one of the light keepers at Swallow Tail, died from her injuries after her clothes caught fire while trying to start the burner for the light. More recently, electrical issues may be the cause of some fires because of the heavy salt presence and corrosion of electrical connections. Two electrical issues at Swallow Tail threatened to cause fires last fall and had no one been working in the lighthouse, the problems would have gone unnoticed until it was too late. Vandalism has also been a cause of some fires and has plagued locations such as Partridge Island in Saint John, and may have been the cause of the grass fire at Swallow Tail in April, 2007, which threatened the lighthouse and keepers house. It has prompted some communities to install security cameras. The ones at Swallow Tail can be viewed on the Village of Grand Manan website (www.villageofgrandmanan.com).

Fish Fluke Point lighthouse in better days.  (unknown origin of photo)

Collapsed Fish Fluke Point lighthouse as seen from the air in November 2013.

Church Point lighthouse before collapse. (from CBC.ca)

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Church Point lighthouse after collapse, 27 March 2014. (from CBC.ca)

Point Aconi lighthouse before it and the building beside it, burned to the ground in February, 2014. (from Cape Breton Post)

Collapse was not thought to be an issue at Swallow Tail but once work began last fall, it became apparent that it could have been possible. The lime had eroded out of the mortar, making the mortar crumble. The stone foundation was slowly pancaking, with the stones being pushed outward. The eight guy wires and the massive concrete floor in the equipment room were the only things holding the tower upright with probably only five large stones in the foundation carrying weight. Had any of the guy wires failed, the tower would have begun listing or worse. To fix this, all the stones were removed, one side at a time, and then returned with new mortar between the joints. The large corner stones, too heavy to easily lift, were adjusted back into place. The foundation is now functional again and should last for many more years with minimal maintenance.
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Peter Devine rebuilding stone foundation at Swallow Tail, September 2013.

During this process, it was discovered that the large wooden beam under the front door had completely rotted away. The remains of the beam were removed using a dust pan. Instead of trying to fit a new wooden beam back in a very tight space between the large immovable concrete step, stone foundation and the floor joists, a concrete beam was constructed. One of the 1859 wooden pegs, used to hold the heavy timber structure together, was discovered in the crawl space during the work, looking the same as the day it was made. This was the only spot were the heavy timbers of the lighthouse had completely rotted.

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Rotted timber beam under front entrance, September 2013

New concrete beam to replace rotted timber, September 2013.

Salt corrosion is another challenge, rusting nails so they no longer do their job. When some shingles were removed on the northern side of the bell house, the boards underneath came off as well. This was also an earlier problem with the boathouse and the entire southern wall began to fall off in large pieces as the nails disappeared and that wall had to be rebuilt. The shingles were stripped off the bellhouse, the boards renailed, and new shingles returned. Shingles on some sides of the tower were also falling out because the nails were gone. Face nailing to hold them in place during previous work only complicated the problem with water getting behind the shingles and rotting the wood. Several places on the tower, notably where the windows had been boarded up, were in worse shape than the rest of the lighthouse, even though the boards were only 40 years old compared to over 150. As the rot continued, longer nails were used to hold the shingles which further exacerbated the problem. It was very noticeable while scraping the sides where the problems were located because of the sponginess. Replacing the rotted wood and shingles where required, caulking the nail heads, plus one to two coats of primer and two coats of finish paint will prevent this for a few years. Because of the extreme weather conditions experienced on the point we hope in the future only the paint will suffer and not the wood behind.

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Northern wall of the bell house.  The nails had rusted off and the boards had to be nailed back in place before the shingles could be attached.

Areas on the lighthouse that needed repair because of water penetration causing rot.  The area around the fog horn was because of caulking and flashing failures.  The upper area on the tower was probably because of face nailing shingles allowing water to penetrate.

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Custom blade on paint scraper.

The entire lighthouse and bell house were scraped, primed and received two coats of paint.  The new shingles were primed twice.

Removing the windows in the tower in the 1970s was actually beneficial in many respects since there was little maintenance after the lighthouse was destaffed, but it changed the interior with no natural light or ventilation. Having the opportunity to return the windows to the original locations in the lighthouse was a goal during the restoration but a challenge since everything had to be built from scratch. One window could not be returned because the current fog equipment is located in that spot on the first floor. Windows from an 1849 house in Ontario were donated by the owners, who had once worked at a lighthouse in British Columbia. They were honoured to have them reused at Swallow Tail. The storms and gablets (or dormers) were new construction from mahogany with copper flashing and sills in an attempt to resist the harsh climate. The interior has been completely changed with the additional of natural light and makes it a very pleasant inside.

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Reglazing 1849 windows donated for the lighthouse.  The bottoms had to be cut down to 8 from 12 panes.  New glass was installed in each window.

Window unit – gablet with storm, all new construction.

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Windows restored on the southern side of the lighthouse.

The harsh winter weather stopped work in mid-December at the lighthouse. Work will begin again sometime in April. The windows and interior will be completed including repairing the lathe and plaster and painting, the boardwalk from the keepers house (cabled in place to protect it from the strong winds) will be built, and museum displays installed. We are hoping to have the lighthouse open again this summer. Restoration work could not have been possible without the financial assistance of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Regional Development Corporation, New Brunswick Built Heritage, Village of Grand Manan, Grand Manan Rotary Club, and generous donations.

The Red Well with Warnings of Ghosts and Witches

Somewhere in Scotland. What an interesting little place. Likely the tales of ghosts and witches were based on suspicion/ fear and just trying to keep people from getting hurt in there. Now it’s locked. What a sad, and yet sensible, ending.

There must have been (or still are) other places like this. Is it even a well? Seems an odd structure to use for water, wouldn’t it get stagnant without some sunlight and air flow?

Below is the Red Well, said to date from Roman times, also said to be haunted by an old lady ghost and to be aligned for sunrise sunbeams on the summer solstice. I lived in Whitehills for a short time as a child and remember the beehive shaped building being called ‘the witch’s hoosie’ and kids shutting each other in there for ‘fun’. It’s now locked.

Source: going coastal – Ailish Sinclair

Male Witches Out Of The Broom Closet

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Male Witches Unite

Male Witches Out Of The Broom Closet

The Male Wiccan

The Male Witch

Guys Can Be Witches, Too

The Pagan Man (abandoned in 2012)

Pinterest – Male WitchPagan Men

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1. Magic is everywhere
2. It’s important to stay grounded
3. All seasons are great
4. Poker isn’t the only card game worth playing
5. Intent is everything
6. You get back what you throw out (with interest)
7. The Wicker Man is a really good film

Via – 7 things paganism can teach the modern man – Telegraph

Velvet Pagan Backpack

backpack
I really like this but… the pentagram is the wrong way up. (For me).

Maybe I’m just not 100% pure atheist. I wouldn’t like to wear something which is known for drawing negative energies.

Killstar Damsel Velvet Backpack …but not in distress. In fact, more of a threat than you could’ve ever imagined~ This amazin’ backpack features an ultra plush black velvet construction with 100% vegan leather trim, roomy interior with bucket style drawstring closures, top flap with pentagram harness strap detailing, clasp hook closure, and plenty of zippered pockets around tha exterior.

Source: Killstar Damsel Velvet Backpack | Dolls Kill

Why Don’t Mice Believe in God?

First you may try to debate the point that mice do believe in God. But, if they did, there would be signs of their worship. I don’t see mice building monuments, fighting holy wars, etc. I’ve never seen one pray, as far as I could tell by human standards. There may be a mouse god, but if the Christian (or any human version of a god) god were real wouldn’t mice also believe, pray and worship. Or, do you think mice don’t have a soul they need to save?

Many people may not care what mice do or do not believe. They are small rodents after all. Pestilence. Laboratory animals and pets spinning wheels for human amusement.

But, of course, mice matter. They are one of god’s creatures. Even as an atheist I still think of mice as one of the little creatures on the planet.

So why don’t mice believe in God? A God, any god?

Don’t they need protection and help? Or are they really just alone on the planet, responsible for their own actions and uncared for and unknown but almost every other creature?

I don’t think mice know there is a god. No one has ever told them god is an option. They just go about their mouse lives, oblivious to all the benefits they could have if they just worshipped god. What has god ever done for a mouse? Could it be such a vicious circle where if god only knew and the mice only knew… they could be so much better off. But, they’ve just never been introduced. Although, god did create the mice, right?

So does god just not care about the mice? In all this time god just let the mice go on, not knowing how much better they could be if they just knew there was a god who would offer them eternal life, shinier souls, angels, heaven and of course… demons, devils and hell.

The poor mice. Maybe all of them are just being shipped straight to hell because they don’t worship or believe in god.

Someone really should do something about this. Save the mice!

Well, I will think more about it all. Right after I check the mouse trap under the kitchen sink.