Sunday, July 27, 2014

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

When my husband and I moved into our new apartment, I was adamant that I do a full cleansing before we took a single item in.
As is customary, I threw out our old broom and purchased a new one.  This broom was the very first thing to enter the door.  I then set to work.  After clearing the space using sage, candles, purified water and salt, I opened a full circle throughout the entire apartment.  I even had my husband take photos of it for an article I'd planned on making that never came to fruition.  This was before I purchased my fantastic camera, so the pictures were incredibly grainy and I deemed them unusable.



But sometimes, try as you may, a place has a permanent negative vibe that you just can't clear.

I did the cleansing the day before we officially moved in.

The next morning, I had a terrible sharp pain in my eye.

I immediately self-diagnosed it as a corneal ulcer, which it was. With it being a Sunday, all the doctors offices were closed.  My husband and I were between insurances so I sought out a Walgreen's Minute Clinic where I was given some antibacterial eye drops.  That did clear the corneal ulcer, but I began experiencing bruising sensation in my eye and cheekbone.  As doctors tried to diagnose it in the following weeks, the pain grew and my vision began to blur.  By October, I was out of work, using my computer for incredibly short stints at 150% magnification and unable to workout, drive or make my own food.  Things were rapidly going downhill with my health.  Doctors speculated on everything from MS to a pituitary gland tumor.  I was left most days sitting on the couch, contemplating my own mortality at the young age of 25.


Before I was eventually hospitalized and diagnosed with scleritis (an inflammation of the white part of your eye), we had other events that became clear warning signs of the problem our apartment was about to become.  When we moved in, we also made a major purchase: Our first brand new mattress.  Aaron and I had been sleeping on the same bed he had as a teenager growing up in his parents' house.  Prior to the move, we could never afford to replace the damaged spring mattress, which had more than once poked me to the point of blood.  I was so excited to get it.

I was less excited about climbing into bed one night and finding a huge wet spot where the ceiling had leaked through to the mattress.

We spent days drying it out while the complex and the roofing company they had a warranty with argued about whose responsibility the repair was.  The mattress was up against the wall, a bucket in the center of the room to catch the water, and our bedroom was essentially defunct.  My husband and I resigned to sleeping in the front room on my old futon.


It might have been some stroke of a miracle, or maybe a curse, that we did.

One night, I woke up to a strange, light breeze.  As my eyes tried to adjust, I thought it might be a relatively large moth and attempted to ignore it.  The more awake I became, and the more I took a look, I realized the animal in question was much larger than a moth.

It suddenly dawned on me as I climbed out of the futon across my husband and grabbed our dog, squealing, "Aaron, there's a bat in the house!"

Bats are super cute, but not when they're flapping around your front room at 4 in the morning.  Zeus and Hermes, our incredibly large Maine Coon mix hunters, were terrified of this bat.  Its wingspan was nearly a foot.  This wasn't just a tiny fruit bat; this thing was huge.  Aaron grabbed a towel and locker-room-slapped it out of the air.  When the towel hit it, it gave the loudest shriek and I instantly felt horrible, but I couldn't let it stay inside.  I grabbed another towel, tossed it over the semi-unconscious bat and threw it out onto our balcony.  It took a second for it to move but it eventually flew off.


With the leak still going in our bedroom and the horror of a bat in our apartment, I called the office positively enraged.  It would take two days for them to seal off our fireplace, and another several weeks for them to finally come to an agreement with the roofers and fix the leak.  But by then, things seemed to be evening out.

This was about the time that I had officially beat scleritis, but I was beginning to have terrible episodes of stomach pains.
Often times, I'd be curled up in a ball, vomiting from pure pain every hour or so.  I would begin seeing a GI specialist.

In December, I noticed some strange looking dandruff on our indoor-only cat.  With a bit of searching and a few tests, I discovered that what our cat had was remains of fleas above his tail.  I was positively mortified.  In the four years that I've owned pets as an adult, and the 18 years of owning dogs as a teenager and kid, I'd never, ever had a flea problem.  We kept our pets clean and checked them routinely for issues. I did all of the standard flea warfare, between Dawn dish soap, chemicals and natural options, but nothing solved it.  Even worse, even my husband and I were getting eaten alive.  It was completely out of control in a way my ISTJ Virgo II personality would never, ever allow to happen. 

When we first moved in, our next door neighbor noted that she had a bit of a flea issue.

It turns out, our neighbor's flea issue was a flea infestation, and we were reaping the consequences. 

Apparently, she let her cat be an indoor/outdoor cat, but would literally never bathe him or treat him for fleas.  In an unfortunate move that made enemies with my neighbor, I had to turn her in to the complex.  They flea bombed my apartment building and I had to put all of my pets on expensive flea pills.  As a rescue volunteer, flea pills are the only absolutely, 100% positive way to ensure fleas do not return.  As long as our neighbor kept on top of her problem, we probably wouldn't have had to begin pilling but I simply could not trust her to do so.


Somewhere in here, I left my original Circle after a miscommunication.  It's not something I can elaborate on, but it didn't lessen the stress of this complex.

I was then diagnosed with Celiac Disease and IBD, as well as a Vitamin D deficiency.
After my hard work last year of losing 42 lbs, I was bake to square one.  I began exercising again, but something felt incredibly off.  Maybe it was the negative energy, or maybe I had simply never seen a healthy day since we'd moved into our apartment, but I just felt like I couldn't get healthy here.  I posted about my concerns on Facebook and tried to vent it out.

In May of last year, we moved my friend Charli and her boyfriend down from Chicago.  They moved into this complex as well, but just haven't had any of the same experiences we've had.  They had even originally moved into a one bedroom but upgraded to a two bedroom and had good luck with both apartments.  In attempt to work with the complex, we tried looking at an apartment right above theirs. However, this apartment looked like it had a rough road in comparison to our current one or Charli's.  The appliances were much older, one even having mold in it, and there were some serious issues with the walls and carpet.  In the end, we decided to stay put.


Then came this week, which has been absolutely surreal.  Monday had been an incredibly strange day to begin with.  As my husband, myself and our friend Tony left out to get food, I watched a woman's dog have a heat stroke right in front of us.  I jumped out of the car and began helping cool her dog off while she went back on her walk to get her car.  It took her about 15 minutes to get back to her house and get her children in her SUV.  During this time, I hydrated the dog slowly, cooled him down by putting rubbing alcohol on his feet and getting him damp enough to shift the direction of his fur.  By the time she pulled up, Bobo was sitting up on his own but still very disoriented.  My husband and a few other neighbors help move the dog by blanket to the front seat of the SUV and I gave her directions to the nearest emergency vet.

Guys, if it's 92 degrees out and you own a large 9 year old Lab mix, don't walk your dog two and a half miles in the sun.  Please.

I digress.


On our way back from dinner, my husband got a phone call from a friend who was stranded downtown.  I drove him downtown and dropped him off to help out with the car, then returned home with Tony.  When we walked in, we noticed flashing lights and cop cars blocking off part of our parking lot.

Apparently, two men fatally shot a 19-year-old and ran off.

Granted, the event was likely isolated - some sort of personal vendetta, drugs or something of that nature - I couldn't help but be rattled by it.  We spent the next two days having detectives question us.  Of course, Tony and I had nothing to say.  Even more so, my husband didn't get home until about an hour later.  So we obviously have no information.  But it didn't make me feel any more comfortable about being out and about in the evening.

I typically prefer running late at night - around 9 to 11 pm.  It's cooler, the sun's down and there's something invigorating about running in the dark.  After Monday's homicide, I stopped running at night.  I can't seem to bring myself to run in 90 degree heat during the day, so I haven't been exercising like I should.  That's been a bit of a problem.


Then, today, we noticed a Fox 4 news vehicle outside the parking lot and many emergency vehicles.

Turns out, a man driving drunk in a meat truck crashed into a bottom floor apartment in my complex.   

This evening, I began cleaning up the bathroom and knocked over the broom we had purchased for the apartment.  Out of it spilled a dark, watery substance.  It's probably some sort of dirty condensation from being stored in the bathroom but seriously? 

How many signs do I need?

I admit that, despite moving every single year for the past three years, I'm still terrified of moving.  The apartment complex is incredibly accepting of the fact that we have four pets despite the fact that the pet limit is two.  I don't know that that's something we can manage to find again, and hiding two cats has been terribly exhausting since 2011.  The management company has even stepped up their game at the beginning of the year and the office staff has actually been pretty awesome since.  And our maintenance guy is amazing.  Heck, if we wouldn't have moved to this complex, we would have never rescued Apollo.  And I can't even imagine that.

After the homicide, my husband's exact words were, "It's likely an isolated event. We shouldn't be too concerned."  After the DUI driver crash, I asked him, "How many isolated events do we have to witness before we're involved in the next one?"  We sat down tonight after discovering the news article and had a serious conversation about our future in this apartment.  Even Aaron agreed that two events like this in one week are just a little much and that he has grown to strongly dislike this complex.  We both agreed that a new start, for the fourth time in a row, might be just what we need.



I love our granite counter tops in the kitchen.  The bar and its lighting is wonderful.  And our fireplace is pretty spectacular, but is it worth it?

What would you do?

Friday, July 25, 2014

August Eve / Lammas / Lughnasadh Altar 2014




August Eve is the first harvest sabbat of the year!  It falls between Midsummer and the Autumn Equinox, making it an equilibrium of summer and fall.  The colors I use to decorate my altar for this sabbat reflects both of those attributes.  Golds represent both the grain harvests of wheat and corn and their creative derivatives, such as breads and ales.  Gold also represents the hot sun we typically experience for Kansas City Augusts.  Green is symbolic of the fertility of the earth as well as the green still seen in the trees and lawns.  I also like to add a red-violet to the mix.  I typically see violet as a fall or winter color, but its warmer tones remind me of late summer.  Red-violet also happens to be the color of apples, grapes and wines! 


This altar includes many grains, as this sabbat is the harvest of the grains!  This includes corn...




... as well as wheat.  It also includes things you often make with those grains, such as breads...


... and ales.



I've also included appropriate flowers, local honey and jars of corn kernels.  The jars can even be representative as we often begin jarring and canning food for the winter at this point.



In the center of my altar on a pedestal is a corn doll. Corn dolls are customarily made on August Eve as it is a grain sabbat.  It is believed that the spirit of the corn found itself homeless after the last harvest.  Corn dolls served as a means of giving that spirit a home until the next crop was planted.


Along foods, I've added items representative of the kitchen as August Eve is a baking sabbat.  These items include my mortar and pestle...


... as well as my wooden salt and pepper mills passed down to me from my grandmother.  These are sitting in the wreath just above the altar.


I'm sure you've also noticed the Elder Futhark rune Jera in several of the pictures.  Jera is the harvest rune, representative of cycles and years.  In the picture above, you can see a Jera card from the Lo Scarabeo Rune Oracle Cards.  I've also included a rune tile from a set that was burned by the amazing Urban Crone.  You can see that one on the top of the bread in a previous picture.


In the center of the altar, I have five candles that reflect the appropriate colors for August Eve. They are arranged in a staircase spiral to reflect the cycle of the seasons.


I was very happy with last year's altar for this sabbat, so I kept many design choices from that.  I then added to it from items I've procured over the course of the year.  As always, an altar should not just reflect the sabbat you're celebrating but it should also be representative of who you are as a pagan, Wiccan or witch!

I hope you've enjoyed the pictures of my altar!  I'll leave you with a full visual explanation.  Enjoy!


Have a wonderful first harvest and August Eve!
Coming soon: Circle of Northern Fountain's August Eve celebration.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

KC Pagan Community Notables

Loss and a Pagan in Need
A member of the KC pagan community has recently and suddenly lost her mother.  Her mother had no life insurance and she currently lives on disability, so she is reaching out to the community for financial aid.  Please click here to find her GoFundMe fundraiser to help garner the money for her mother's cremation and final bills.

First Annual Mabon Grape Picking Event
Sunday, September 21st at 8:00 am
Holy-Field Vineyard & Winery
A fellow KC pagan is hosting a grape-picking event this year!  It does land on the last day of Gaea Goddess Gathering, but the vineyard is 40 minutes from Camp Gaea, so it is possible to do both.  If you're interested in going, please RSVP to the Facebook event linked here!

Do you have a notification from the KC Pagan Community
you would like posted here?
Let me know by commenting below,
or e-mail me at witchywordsblog@gmail.com.