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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Take the ByWay!

Planning a trip to Vermont? You must know by now, I love this state, and am very happy to offer this suggestion to the would-be traveler:  If at all possible, take any of these historic Byway routes instead of the Interstate.  Leave the Interstate to the "18-Wheelers" and other trucks. Our byways are not only scenic, but are also a great place for the adventurer. Depending on the byway, our roads can be anywhere from 30 miles, up to 400 miles long!  And yes, just for the record, I have traveled every single one of these byways by car or motorcycle....

Please note:  all links will open in a new window.

Please take a look at this map (PDF) which I found on the Vermont Byways Program website.  If you go to this webpage, scroll to the bottom and click on any of the byway signs for a more detailed map of the area you wish to travel.  I recommend printing the maps in color to put in your glove box or add to your atlas.  Of course, you use your GPS, but they are not always 100% accurate. Here is their website:  http://www.vermont-byways.us/

"Vermont Byways are established from the ground up by local residents taking part in the National Scenic Byways Program, and funded through the Federal Highway Administration. Byway supporters realize their local areas are rich in history, culture, scenic and recreational opportunities. They are proud of their heritage and the place they call home and want to tell their story to you, their guest." Source:  http://www.vermont-byways.us/

Vermont Deadline will tell you that there are 10 Byways in Vermont, to date.  I recommend any of them.  I also recommend stopping in a town and exploring.  Have lunch or dinner, talk to the locals and see what happens....  




Yesterday, we hopped on the Goldwing and headed north through Montpelier, and onto Route 2 to Middlesex.  We took a left onto Route 100 which is the Mad River Byway (detailed larger scale PDF map).  

Route 100 for a day trip is a beautiful choice as the road is in great shape and the mountain scenery is in your face.  I love the peppery scent of cedar and pine that mixes and fills your senses as you drive along this road.  But, driver beware!  Be on the lookout for deer, moose, as well as bicyclists!  Route 100 gives the traveler plenty of opportunities for hiking, canoeing or kayaking.   You can access the Nation's oldest long-distance hiking trail:  The Long Trail or stop by any of the small communities and discover their secrets.  

Photo: yourplacevermont.com
Byways are the very best option to discover quaint villages, who sell local Vermont products.  You can find local maple syrup and dairy products to natural soaps to handmade arts and crafts in various mediums.  

You can stop along side the byway to dip your feet or swim in the Mad River or stand at an amazing waterfall to have your picture taken! There are plenty of historic sites to visit and great places to eat, and taverns to drink (link to D's Dog House, Granville where you can sometimes be lucky enough to hear the Band "CRUISE CONTROL").  The bucolic settings offers plenty of photo opps such as many steeple churches, town greens, vast countryside with the Green Mountains as a back-drop and lots of native farms, as well as covered bridges! There are also chances to play golf, to go fishing, camping, skiing, snowboarding or to play tennis....and the list goes on!

Old Rusty with his "baby"
The road we chose, took us through Moretown, Waitsfield, Warren, and into Granville.  Below Waitsfield, is the Town of Irasville, where you can turn onto Route 17 which is also part of the Mad River Byway and will take you to Baby Stark, Molly Stark and Beane Mountains, respectfully.

madrivervalley.com offers this description:

A 2.6 mile round-trip hike that gains over 500' of elevation to a unique lookout. From Rt. 17 you hike north on the Long Trail, which climbs steeply, passes a spur to the Mad River Glen Lookout, then reaches a high point at the flat ridge of Molly Stark Mountain summit. The trail goes over the summit and on to Molly Stark's Balcony where there is a great view of Camel's Hump, the intervening peaks, with the Worcester Mountains visible to the east.

In Waitsfield, Russ and I walked through the Vermont Festival of the Arts, which was a public, outdoor event. There was plenty of food to sample, a band was playing and a multitude of various local artisan's selling their wares.

Before arriving in Rochester, we passed "Genes Road", and I couldn't help but wonder, is this were people find their routes [roots]?  Bad joke, I know...but my mind tends to wander on the back of the bike....
Great food, great service, great local folk and Cousin Cora works there 
We continued down the byway below Granville and arrived in Rochester where we ate lunch at Sandy's Books and Bakery  as the Rochester Cafe was packed and not a single seat left!  In the gorgeous town of Rochester, you can discover a variety of fun stores, and a large and beautiful town Green, complete with a gazebo.  Rochester hosts their Summer Concert Series here, and artists naturally gravitate to this area to build their businesses and to live, respectfully.  

Rochester's "Green" in the fall
After lunch, we continued south but then turned onto Route 73 (still in Rochester) through Goshen toward Middlebury. Here, the road will take you onto the bottom of the Lake Champlain Byway (Route 7).  The Lake Champlain Byway is another fantastic road to take for a day trip, as this will bring you north into Vermont's Islands District. You can continue straight north into Canada in Alburgh

On Route 73, you travel through the town of Forest Dale (which is either a hamlet of, or part of the town of Brandon). I thought to myself, I want to live in a town by this name!  I pictured fairies dancing in backyards, Celtic music playing and people dressed in Ren Faire clothing.... but alas!  It was just a passing fancy as we drove through. 

Lilies are used domestically, and they are found growing wild all over the state during our summer months.  

My view from the back of the Goldwing sometimes....
If you were to continue south on Route 100, you will discover that the road turns into Scenic Route 100 Byway, through Pittsfield, Mendon, Rutland and continues to the very bottom of the state! 

We traveled up the Lake Champlain Byway, and then turned onto Route 125 which brings you through Ripton and eventually lands you back on Route 100, and returned home the way we came.  

My new catch-phrase:
"Get off the highway, take the byway!"

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Remembering Mary Jean

hen I was a little girl, my parents came home from a shopping trip, with 3 gowns for my sister and I (and all of the girls in the neighborhood) to use for play and dress up. I can remember that there was a light pink gown, a fuchsia colored gown, and a gold gown.  Today, I know they were either old bridesmaids or prom gowns from a thrift store, but at the time, I felt as if I had walked into the fairy tale.  Though, my sister promptly took them for her own, and I rarely had the opportunity to play with them again, I still remember trying them on and how I wonderful I felt in them.  Even today, I wonder what became of those old gowns...

As a kid, I was always "stuck" with hand-me-downs until Grade 6, because I shot up a full 6 inches taller than my sister as she has never grown over 5' 2".  My parents then had to buy clothes that fit me, and since most of what they bought were my Mother's choice, I hated everything I owned.  My parents did what they could with 4 kids and one salary at that time...no disrespect intended.  So, I got a job after school working in a small-time electronics store and in the summer time doing yard work, and I got a few baby-sitting gigs.  I was now able to buy what I wanted.  Thus, beginning my love affair with 1970's "hippie" and "Bohemian" clothing from which I have never truly recovered.

 Shortly before this, in my hometown of Poultney, (it must have been around 1973 or '74?) there was a little Boutique called "Bombadils" that was owned by this beautiful woman by the name of Mary Jean Lobdell.  She was slightly plump, with very long brown frizzy hair in a Carol King sort of style, that she had grown down to her buttocks. Her face, to me was angelic, in an almost Victorian sense.  Today, I would label her as an all-natural woman, who was an authentic "hippie".  She wore peasant blouses and halter tops over large breasts and long floral skirts, with dangling earrings.  Being young and impressionable, I was always mesmerized by her style.  

Bombadil's was located in the basement underneath our town's laundry mat.  I remember the round sign that hung over the doorway on which were the round popular '70's style writing bearing it's name. Each time I would walk into her shop, my sense of smell would be filled with fragrances that I have never forgotten.  Nag Champa incense, essential oils and mostly I remember sniffing the strawberry scented candles.

Her clothing inventory was geared toward the "College Girls" - from Green Mountain College - with high quality India Imports, brass and wooden incense holders, Indian bedspreads, candles and jewelry.  Ravi Shankar and George Harrison music frequently played while she ironed clothing. 

I remember that once or twice, she painted my finger nails, and offered me a cup of herbal tea.  It seemed she had endless patience and always had a place in her heart for me.  Thinking back, I wonder if I was obnoxious, just showing up in her shop, but she never alluded to it.  The only thing I ever bought was a leather bracelet - and I wore that thing to death.  I just remember how much I loved her because of her genuine kindness toward me.  

Growing up on Main Street, I would walk down to see her.  One day when I was preparing to do so, my sister and her friend Carol Jones stopped me to ask where I was going.  I told them I was going to visit Mary Jean.  Carol held the Rutland Herald newspaper in her hand, and handed it to me.  

The article that she pointed to, explained that Mary Jean had been driving in her blue Gremlin, went off the road and "died of massive head injuries".  Those words jumped off the newspaper.  Strangely, I did not know what to do with this news, as no one I had ever known had died before.  I remember feeling completely numb with tears rolling down my face, and I sat on a hassock in the living room. I was too scared to cry in fear of my sister and Carol laughing at me, because I felt that everything to them, was a joke back then.  But they didn't laugh, and they looked sad, too.  All I remember was, walking up the stairs to our bathroom and weeping into a towel, having no where else to spill my grief.  I was devastated.

I remember that a woman named Harriet Holcomb and her boyfriend Ben took over the store when Mary Jean died.  It was never the same.

About a year or two later a store called "Pearls", which used to be occupied by an old A&P Store on Main Street, came to be.  They had shirts made in India, and I remember buying a few of them over the course of one summer.  If I recall, they went out of business around 1978 - the year before my parents moved my little brother and I to Williamstown.  

My love of clothing today, borders on sickness, and over the course of the last couple of years, I've gained weight and can't fit into a lot of my beloved inventory.  I keep the clothing, vowing to loose the body fat....but let's be honest:  No one wants to read about that!

I still think of Mary Jean.  I don't clearly remember her face any more.  She crawls into my mind when I enter into certain boutiques and smell the incense or essential oils.  In particular, when I smell a strawberry scented candle, I think of her.  I think of her little Gremlin that was parked on the street the week before she died, and can't help but wonder, what made her loose control of her car?   These are things I may never find out, and all I can say is that her spirit truly lives within me.    

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Art of The Séance

Enter Stranger... 
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"a meeting at which people attempt to make contact with the dead, especially through the agency of a medium."

I think it would be easy to say that for as long as we have had the ability to communicate with one another as humans, we have also sought communication with the dead - or someone who has passed into the "afterlife" or, with forces that are believed to be on a higher plane than the mortal being.  Consider the worship of Gods and Goddesses, the belief of angels, ancestor worship, visions by people believing they have seen an entity - whether it be good or evil.  The list is infinite - and in the simplest of terms, it is the belief in ghosts.

Brown Lady of Raynham Hall, a claimed ghost photograph by Captain Hubert C. Provand. First published in Country Life magazine, 1936
In it's most pure setting, the Séance is normally conducted wit a medium who leads communication with spirits, by going into a trance and having the ability to channel what they have heard.  During the height of the Spiritualism movement, many of these mediums were exposed as fraudulent, however, there are those who have recorded sessions which leaves us in wonder and in awe.  Do spirits really talk to us?  The jury is still out, and it is still in debate.

Seance with Eusapia Palladino at the home of Camille Flammarion, Rue Cassini. Full levitation of a table." 12 November 1898, Gelatin silver print.
"Spiritualism is a monotheistic belief system or religion, postulating a belief in God, but with a distinguishing feature of belief that spirits of the dead residing in the spirit world can be contacted by "mediums", who can then provide information about the afterlife."  - Carroll, Bret E. (1997). Spiritualism in Antebellum America. (Religion in North America.)

"Séances are frequently attended by people who wish to contact a loved one that has recently died. For many, their experiences at a Séance provide comforting knowledge that their loved ones have not ceased to exist, that there is an afterlife, and there is a possibility of being reunited with those who have been lost."  - newworldencyclopedia.org

Some of the best classic literature contains tales of ghosts, by great authors such as Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, and William Shakespeare  - and these are but a few that come to mind.

Reginald Owen starred as Ebenezer Scrooge
in the 1938 film of "A Christmas Carol" 
I have never conducted my own Séance, nor have I attended one, but it doesn't mean that I haven't done my homework!  I would like to conduct an event at some point, but would have to hear from others who would like to participate!

I previously wrote about my own Ouija Board, in an earlier blog post, that I've yet to use.

Why am I waiting?  

For the fear to go away.

Preparing for your Séance

If you plan to host a Séance, naturally, you will invite people who have a purpose for attending, or at least believe in what you are attempting to accomplish - communicate with spirits.  For instance, prankster-type personalities would not be welcome.  "Non-believers" will disrupt the flow by allowing negative energy and adverse effects as you attempt to contact the spirits.  Drinking alcohol or using illicit drugs are absolutely discouraged.

"WHAT TYPES OF PEOPLE MUST BE BANNED? A circle sitting for mutual development should never admit persons addicted to bad habits, criminals, sensualists, strongly positive persons of any kind, whether rude, skeptical, violent tempered, or dogmatic. A humble, candid, inquiring spirit, unprejudiced, and receptive of truth, is the only frame of mind in which to sit for phenomena, the delicate magnetism of which is shaped, tempered, and made or marred as much by mental as physical conditions."
Source: empathys.co.uk

A planned gathering can be from 3 to 12 people, but smaller crowds are preferred.

In the room that you decide to host the gathering, you will want to ensure that it is quiet and comfortable for all guests.

Utilizing a round or small table is optimum, but a small table will work; or, if you would like, gather in a circle on the floor.

Fresh flowers only.  If you have old flowers reeking in vases, remove them and replace them with fresh flowers.  White roses and lillies would be a nice choice. The same goes for fruit that you may display.

Do not use overhead lights, or lights that are too strong.  Ideally, a few unscented candles scattered around the room would be acceptable.

"Avoid strong light, which, by producing excessive motion in the atmosphere, disturbs the manifestations. A very subdued light is the most favorable for any manifestations of a magnetic character especially for spiritual magnetism."  Source: empathys.co.uk

Prior to your guests arrival, decide upon with whom you wish to make contact, and during the course of the day, think of that person. Each person should be instructed to think about them, by manifesting their image in their mind.  Do you wish to contact a friend or relative?  What do you remember about him or her?  What do you know about this person?  What are your memories?

I have read that perhaps bringing an article or articles that was previously owned by the deceased loved one(s) may entice a spirit to draw near.  Perhaps a photograph, a diary or journal, a stilled watch or an piece of clothing may suffice.  You may even want to carry that "thing" with you for the duration of the day, prior to the Séance to fully draw it's energy toward you.

Turn OFF cell phones.  No calls.  No texts.  Leave your phone in your car or shut it off.  Period.  Frequencies from cell phones disrupt the flow.  Other video or audio equipment can be used, but chose the method carefully and place it strategically.  Still photos are acceptable.

Winter:  Never turn up the heat.  Maintain a comfortable - but never hot room.  Summer:  Keep temperatures as natural as possible.  The reason for this is that some activity from spirits may cause temperatures to fluctuate, and you will want to experience this to know with whom you are dealing.  Malevolent spirits commonly will produce an icy feeling.  If this happens, ask them to immediately leave.  With other spirits, you may experience a chill, or a wave of heat.  This is all natural and part of the process.

Planning to conduct your event at night is optimum, but can easily be arranged for daytime, as spirits do not live in "time" as we know it.  Try to plan the Séance at a time when you are the least likely to be interrupted.  Once the circle is formed, do not allow late arrivals to enter.  Do not break the circle!

Don't muck up the air by using incense.  And that would go the same for sage burning, cigarette or marijuana smoke.  If you are seeking a true experience then, stave off using any kind of smoke for the duration of the event.

Allow everyone to use the bathroom or smoke prior to forming the circle.

Assign someone to "lead" communication, this may be pre-planned, or perhaps you have invited or solicited a medium to conduct the Circle.

There is an old theory that holding or "joining" hands is mandatory during a Séance.  This simply isn't true.  A belief in the collective conscience is preferable.  Think of the "power of prayer", which is essentially the key.

A lovely way to begin would be to have all gathered, close their eyes and offer a prayer to the loved ones with whom you are trying to contact, that they protect and guide you.  It may be helpful during the prayer that all visualize light surrounding all of you.

Breathe deeply, slowly and normally.  This will help raise your consciousness and awareness.  Close your eyes at first and open them with you feel ready to do so.  Keeping this deep state of relaxation, proceed to invite those whom you want to communicate. Relax.

The lead will begin to "call the spirit".  Do not interrupt this process.  Some may later report changes of temperature, fragrances of perfume, specific food smells or cigar smoke may occur, or you may hear certain noises.  These are all to be expected, so don't panic or gasp.  Stay calm.  Let the moment be and allow the lead to make contact.  She may invite you to speak with the entity, but keep your questions logical.

Don't antagonize or taunt.  Don't ask stupid questions like who is going to win the Superbowl or for numbers of a winning lottery ticket.  Your questions should be poignant, clear and authentic.  Ask your question just once.  Everyone should have a chance to ask a question.

ghosttheory.com states: "Understand that the spirit has to cross worlds to heed to your call, and this is very painful. Thus you don’t want to anger it with such curiosities."

I found the following tips from crystalinks.com/seance, and the content has been taken, directly:

Seance Begins

Sometimes spirits may come that you did not expect. Chat quickly with them, thank them, and tell them to move on.

Some spirits chat a lot but some just say one or two things then leave. Some answer questions while others just bring messages.

There is no length of time for a seance. This is up to you, the spirit, and the medium.

It's humorous when several spirits come down and they all want to talk at once. This must be paced as one would any discussion in a group.

A seance can be a wonderful emotional healing experience when done in the proper setting with the proper medium.

Not all spirits are human. Some are animals, generally pets who have crossed over. They speak in imagery and thought as ALL is frequency of consciousness.

Some are other aspects of ourselves as we are all multidimensional and exist simultaneously in other realities.

Some are spirit guides.

Most spirits want their loved ones here to know they are okay on the other side or to clear up unfinished business.

Some come to talk about their deaths, especially with murders or suicides.

Some are funny, others sad. It's interesting that even without a physical form, many still show emotion, leaving one to believe that in some way that are attached or trapped to our physical grid reality.

Some come alone. Some come with others who wait quietly or they all talk at once, really confusing for the beginner who must tell them, "One at a time."

Some come for personal issues then continue on to tell me more about the changes occurring in the universe.

Not all spirits can come to talk when called. Some simply chose not to come. Some have returned to source.

This question remains, What do I do if the entities are negative and say things like "Die!" Stop immediately. If you can not get rid of the spirit after a few minutes, and it probably won't leave, stop the seance for that session. Someone has attracted that spirit for the adventure of it all. Dysfunctional people will attract dysfunctional spirits, for the drama of it. Be sure you know who is in your group, especially if you are a beginner.

Sometimes a person can become hypnotized during a seance and fall into a trance or deep sleep. This also occurs during group meditations. Just allow the person time to wake-up slowly after the seance is over. They should have a message to report to the group.

Ask your spirit guides to protect you. We all have guides even if we don't know their names.

Photos taken during a seance can reflect the appearance of spirit, photo scrying, and is up to personal interpretation.

ALWAYS, always....CLOSE THE DOOR:  Always thank the spirit(s) for coming.  If someone at your event, has fallen into a trance or fallen asleep only wake them afterward, and do so very gently.  Listen.  Do they have a message?

TELL the spirits good bye and that they can now move on.  It is perfectly acceptable to offer another prayer of gratitude before closing the circle entirely.  Do not be surprised if you are visited in your dreams soon thereafter the Séance.


If you plan to use the Ouija Board, the same rules apply, as stated above, with the only difference being that you are using the board as a conduit to the spirit world.  Always educate yourself thoroughly prior to communicating with the spirit world.

Cool Links and information:

How to Conduct a Seance

Psychic's Universe

New Age Seance

Do's and Don'ts

This post is for information and entertainment only.  Any use of this blog post is your own responsibility, and any unpleasant consequences are your own doing.