I Visited a Castle Today!

My husband and I went to Loveland, Ohio today to see a real castle built by hand by one guy (allegedly by a French knight, but that turns out to be more legend it seems). Here are a few of my favorite photos from the tour. First, the castle itself:

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Me, trying to look regal sitting in the throne chair, but instead doing a good giraffe impression:

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Me in black and white, dancing on the top of the turret:

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The cute, soft little buddy I found:

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We had fun, but now I’m worn out!

 

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An Attempt at Artsy Nature Photography

Yesterday my husband and I went for a short walk at a local garden/park. We saw our first snake of the year:

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I also tried to take some artsy nature photos:

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I found a perfect crow feather that I put aside to pick up on my way back out of the park, but someone stole it before I got back to it! That bummed me out. I didn’t realize crow feathers were that popular!

Rough Week, But Some Good News

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This has undoubtedly been a rough week for me so far, but some good things have happened too. Here is a short run-down of the last few days:

Sunday and Monday, one of our pipes froze because of the freakishly cold weather so we had no water until that section thawed out. Luckily, it didn’t cause the pipes to burst or anything like that. My husband thinks he solved the issue by replacing the insulation around the pipe, but I guess we’ll find out the next time we all freeze.

Yesterday I had my appointment with the rheumatologist to get my Ehlers Danlos testing done. I’m officially a zebra! Right now my diagnosis is Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos, although I do plan to try to pursue genetic testing to make sure none of the other EDS genes are playing a part. The doctor also highly suspected I have POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome), which would help explain my dizzy spells, vertigo, feeling faint, and maybe even a few episodes of passing out when I was younger. It sucks that there is no cure or really even further treatment other than what I’m already doing, but it is wonderful to have some answers that finally make sense!

Tuesday I made the mistake of posting in a Facebook chronic illness group about my surprise that a zoo we want to visit charges $25 for the use of a wheelchair for a couple hours. Soon I was accused of being entitled, expecting everyone else to pay for my disability, and even being too poor to go to the zoo if I couldn’t afford the extra charge. The attacks got to the point that it actually made me cry because it hurt my feelings so much. I wasn’t even saying that the zoo had no right to charge for use of their equipment, I was just questioning whether the price was a bit high for the time it would be used. Of course, then I heard that some zoos and theme parks charge way more, some even over $100 a day! I can’t help but feel personally that is taking advantage of the disabled. Maybe I’m wrong, but I still feel that way.

Last night all this stress took its toll on me. I had the worse migraine I have had in years. Luckily, I still had some migraine pills from the last time I filled the prescription which was several years ago. They were technically expired, but still did their job. Today I have that slight headachy, hung over feeling I always get after a severe migraine.

 

I Froze My Butt Off at a Christmas Theme Park!

I’m feeling rough tonight, maybe because last night I went to a little Christmas-themed park and got really cold, which often tends to aggravate my CFS, Fibromyalgia, and Ehlers Danlos joint issues. I had a great time though and wanted to share a few fun pics of the night.

Here is me getting cozy with the Gingerbread Man:

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Who doesn’t love a big fire pit when it’s cold out?

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Here is some crazy guy climbing the giant Christmas tree (I’m guessing he wasn’t supposed to be doing that):

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Is it just me, or are these trees a bit spooky?

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Pretty lights on the water:

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Alien Abduction Experience?

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You all seemed to enjoy my post the other day about past life dreams, so I thought I would share another weird experience I had years ago. This is the closest thing to an alien abduction experience I have ever had. This is only one of two experiences I have had where I honestly wonder if I was awake or asleep (I’ll tell you about the other otherworldy experience another time). It certainly felt like I was awake for the following experience, but it was so odd I can’t help but wonder.

Here is what I remember of that night:

Being woken up by a bright light and sitting up in bed. I have memories of looking at the window blinds in our room to try to figure out where the light was coming from. The next thing I remember, a few small alien beings entered the room and stood around the foot of my bed. I don’t remember them walking in or anything like that, it seemed like they were just suddenly there. The beings resembled the small grey aliens that have become popularized by pop culture/paranormal communities, maybe around 4 foot tall or so. I remember how smooth and shiny their skin seemed. They seemed to be silhouetted with bit of light too, but nothing like the bright light that woke me.

Naturally, I was terrified by these events and I remember trying desperately to wake my husband up, who was sleeping peacefully next to me. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get him to wake up, which panicked me even more. Suddenly, I found myself laying down again, almost against my will it seemed. I felt myself floating upwards in this horizontal position and then I don’t really remember much else until I was returned. I do not remember going through the ceiling, or being aboard a spaceship, or tests, or anything like that, but I do feel like a lot happened during this blank time in my memory. I do remember kind of floating back down into bed later, the same way I had started to float up. I remember being really sleepy and kind of out of it, almost like I had been drugged or sedated. Due to this, I fell asleep quickly.

If this was a dream and I was asleep the entire time, I find it odd that I don’t remember any of the middle part, even though I remember the beginning and end so vividly and emotionally. Normally, I remember a dream fairly in its entirety, and the more I think about the dream, the more details I remember, but no matter how much I have relived this experience, I really do not remember what happened after floating upwards until I came back down.

I have no idea what really happened that night, but I’ll never forget it. We do live near Wright Patterson Air Force Base, which I later found out is rumored to be highly connected to the Roswell incident, Area 51, and other secret space programs, but who knows? I have heard that UFO activity is common in the area around the base, but that could be due to various military-related programs.

Fun Visit to the COSI Science Museum

Today my husband and I visited the COSI Science Museum in Columbus, Ohio. It is only about an hour from where we live and I had been wanting to check it out. We had a lot of fun there today, and my husband even got free admission for being a teacher! Here are a few of my favorite photos of the day:

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They had a large dinosaur exhibit, which is always really cool. I like to see how big these animals really were! I liked some of the mock displays they had of prehistoric wildlife as well, especially this cute one of dinosaur babies:

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My other favorite exhibit was the Oceans one. The best parts of it were some cool cave-like tunnels that led into a huge Poseidon water fountain which was impressive. Here is a pic of me casually leaning on the world in front of the fountain (which I did throw a penny into while making a very special wish):

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Before leaving, we also saw a cool 3-D movie called “Amazon Adventure”, which was based on the true story of Henry Bates, who was an explorer in the 1850’s who helped provide proof for Charles Darwin’s theories of species changing over time due to evolutionary processes:

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Life Update: MRSA, Cleveland Vacation, Freelance Writing, and Book Awards!

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Me at the USS Cod Museum in Cleveland, Ohio

As June 2016 draws to a close, I thought I would do a quick life update. Things have been kind of crazy lately between health problems, summer vacations, book releases, editing and freelance writing, vlogging, etc. So here are a few highlights (or low points) of my recent days:

*We went on an actual vacation for the first time in a few years! We went up to Cleveland, Ohio and went to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the USS Cod Submarine Museum, the Cleveland Zoo, Cleveland Botanical Gardens, and Lake Erie. I found some awesome driftwood while walking along the beach, drooled over the Michael Jackson and Nirvana memorabilia at the Hall of Fame, rode a camel, and ate way too much junk food!

*My hubby is fighting off another MRSA infection, which makes me afraid we are both going to be passing it back and forth again. Even with all the bleaching and cleaning we do, that stuff is hard to keep from spreading!

*I am proud of the fact that my career in freelance writing and editing continues to expand, with many repeat customers and brand new clients! My favorite projects are those that align well with my natural interests (specifically children’s writing and poetry), but even some of the more technical jobs have been more fun than I expected! These jobs allow me to continue to do what I love to do and work at home!

*My YouTube vlog, Maranda’s Toys & Books, continues to grow! I have been pleasantly surprised to find out I’m not the only nerdy adult who still loves collecting dolls, ponies, action figures, and other things from her childhood! I am even getting some free toys and books to review on my channel which is pretty darn awesome!

*My new middle grade children’s book, “Creepy, Funny & Just Plain Weird: Stories and poems for kids“, has already been nominated for a children’s book award! Fingers crossed that I win! If you haven’t read it yet, please give it a try!

A Sad Tribute to Paul Laurence Dunbar

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Last weekend my husband and I visited the Paul Laurence Dunbar House here in Dayton, Ohio. Being a poet myself I have wanted to check out the historical site for a while. When we arrived, I was happy to see quite a few others there, including several kids. I noticed that we were the only “white” people there (other than the tour guide), but I hoped that was just coincidence and didn’t mean that people from different ethnic backgrounds ignored this part of history. I have noticed over the years that many people tend to only care about the history of their particular heritage, which I find sad. There is so much to be learned by experiencing different cultures and studying the lives of people from all kinds of backgrounds.

Before we toured Paul’s house, we all watched a mini documentary on the life and times of Paul Laurence Dunbar. As the film went on, I began to feel worse and worse. They talked about how Paul was highly educated for his time, even becoming class president and the founding editor of his high school newspaper, but was still denied jobs in the fields he studied, because as they put it, “an uneducated white man was still considered better than an educated negro”. Paul eventually had to take a lowly job as an elevator operator. They went on to explain how even though Paul did eventually gain some notoriety as a poet, he was truly saddened because the public refused to notice his deeper, more thoughtful poems written in standard English and instead only celebrated the lighthearted ethnic “dialect” poetry. Even worse, they used his poems to back up their belief that African Americans were not as smart or important as “white folks” and even worse, that they had actually enjoyed being slaves.

When we walked over to the house, the tour guide explained that Paul and his family were the first African Americans to move into this nicer part of town (much to the dismay of some in the neighborhood). Most of the people of his race were forced to live in the “ghetto” in little shanty homes that were nothing more than thrown together huts. As I listened to all this I looked at the faces of the sweet, innocent kids around me. I felt awful that they have to live in a world where this kind of prejudice once existed (and still exists), even if the circumstances have gotten better since Paul’s day. I know it isn’t my fault and that I didn’t cause it, but I felt awful that my ancestors were likely a part of the society that so mistreated (and continues to mistreat) an entire race of people.

I could write about some of the other unfair things that were talked about, like the Dunbar family’s slavery background or how African Americans soldiers were considered “good to stop a bullet” but not good enough to be appreciated…however, I think a few of Paul’s words capture the frustration and unfairness best –

I know why the caged bird beats his wing

Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;

For he must fly back to his perch and cling

When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;

And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars

And they pulse again with a keener sting –

I know why he beats his wing!