Monday, May 30, 2022

A Desert Haunt Part 3-Guest Blogger

Part 3 of guest blogger's Rick haunting is finally here!  You can catch up on Part 1 by clicking here & Part 2 by clicking here

If you'd like become a guest blogger and share your story, we encourage you to do so!  Our goal remains to help others and give them strength.  Sharing your story could help others get the help they need!   Click here to become a guest blogger!

Hope you enjoy reading Part 3 of Rick's story!

Lance & Jennifer

A Desert Haunt, Part 3

With the consensus reached that we were dealing with something (or things) paranormal, Sheri and I decided we had to take action. The only problem was what action could we take?

For my part, I went to my go-to solution for anything I didn't understand: research. I used my standard internet search engine to read up on what to do if your house is haunted. That got some really interesting results. But I went through the list like I was weeding a flower bed. I tried to evaluate the sources and throw out the advice that didn't pass my gut check and spent my time on those that seemed more credible.

I have to say it wasn't an easy task. It wasn't an exact science, either. I went with what made sense to me or resonated with my own experiences. I wasn't wanting mystical, religious, or ritualistic solutions. I wanted something that would work once for all. I was naïve. I know now it doesn't work that way, but that was my starting point on this journey.

For Sheri's part, she was depending on me to come up with a strategy while she was dealing with the strange activity on a near daily basis. She was in the midst of the fight, so to speak, and had no time to develop tactics. Thankfully, she was open to ideas and, like anyone in a fight, quick to grasp anything that might give her the advantage.

My online research soon shifted to television and the massive amount of programming about the paranormal. It had been several years since I had watched Ghost Hunters and I was amazed at how the genre had just exploded. The show I was most drawn to was The Dead Files, because of Amy Allan. To me, she was sincere, gifted, and was working with people dealing with things in their homes like Sheri and me. Steve DiSchiavi's investigations added the validation to Amy's walks.  It didn't take long for me to learn from her that every solution was unique and they also took time. I watched every episode I could. Sheri watched with me, sometimes we got more than a little freaked out about the things Amy would see. I'm sure Sheri thought I was becoming obsessed with watching the show. I guess I was. Finding an answer to our problem kind of drove me to it. We even talked about trying see if she would come to our home.

So what was our problem? I described most of the activity in Part 2, but I wouldn't actually call that the problem. That was just weird stuff that happened. Things to talk about. Stories to tell. To me, the real problem was how living in our home was affecting each of us. Things that are not easily described or measured but the real mental toll it was taking as time went on.

I was dealing with some serious mood issues. I am not normally a moody person, let alone downright angry. But I am here…it's something I struggle with to this day. We had certainly gone through a serious life change after my leaving the military (a part of my identity that was stripped away and now gone). That's a story in itself and anyone having gone through the separation process will know what I mean. I'll just sum it up this way: One day you're a 24/7 contributing member of something that, once it's done with you, revokes your membership, replaces it with papers that show you once belonged, and sends you on your way by moving you one final time to where you want to go. Oh, and thank you for your service. Yeah, it was hard for me after 30 years, 6 months, and 15 days. Maybe that explained my mood changes.

Accompanying the moodiness was the unease. I guess some might argue they are the same, but not me. I do agree they complement one another, like peas and carrots, to borrow from Forrest Gump. Both of us were on eggshells, not from worrying about what kind of mood the other might be in, but from whatever was happening in the house. What would "it" do next; would we do something to set "it" off?

A month into my research and I had got some sage and started cleansing our home about once a week using a combination of techniques I'd read about that seemed appropriate for our situation. I had no idea what I was doing, but intent seemed to be a common theme from what I was reading. So I went with what felt right to me and the intent for spirits to have a one-way path to leave but not come back. Having been raised in a Christian home I also returned to prayer and began meditating to envision God's positive energy surrounding our home and pushing out the negative. This seemed to reduce the activity, but I needed to repeat the sage weekly along with constant prayer and meditation to keep things semi-quiet.

Buddy was my early warning device that activity was ramping back up. He would start avoiding certain areas and keep watch on them. His interest at these times was mostly centered around the heating vents in the floors. The kitchen was not a happy place for Buddy. He would growl low and quiet at it from the entryway, back up and cautiously approach again like he was trying to make sense of something that required extreme caution. Another early warning was the smell of cigarette smoke. That's when I knew it was time to sage and send up prayers again. We would go through every room wafting the smoke into every corner and repeating out loud that this was our home and only for the living. Anything else had to follow the smoke out of our home and off the property.

At least it felt like we were doing something. I think now that we were likely amusing our unseen roommates but they were willing to play along and tone it down for a while.

While this was going on I was bombarded with dreams. Dreams I can't remember other than that I had them and how I felt afterward. The impressions were raw and vivid. I tried keeping a dream journal for a while but gave up after not being able to remember them or put into words the impressions they left on me. These were hazy, confusing feelings of impending doom, of running and hiding from something. I would usually wake myself up from trying to yell or confront whatever was in my dream, but my voice wouldn't work. I would then pray and try to surround our house with my vision of white light descending through the home and pushing the darkness out every window, vent, and pipe until I fell back asleep.

Sheri suffered through this period too. Sometimes my attempts to yell would awaken her and then she would wake me up saying I was having a bad dream. Needless to say I wasn't getting much rest and neither was she. While my fellow commuters slept on the bus to and from work, I used my time to read and watch the paranormal shows, seeking an answer to our predicament.

Sheri was affected more physically than me. Not only was her sleep disturbed because of my dreams, she started having health issues. She began getting terrible migraines and unexplained pinpoint pains throughout her body. Bruises appeared on her legs and arms without any explanation or recollection of bumping into anything. Strange rashes appeared in odd areas and disappeared. Every so often she would have the sensation of being touched. In April 2019 she had a sudden debilitating pain in her abdomen that resulted in an ambulance trip to the emergency room and the urgent removal of her gallbladder. The medical promise of a quick recovery from what was considered a routine procedure took over a year for the pain to subside even though the surgery part healed quickly and without infection. Three years later and that area will sometimes become sensitive to the slightest pressure, resulting in sharp pain.

As things were spiraling downward in 2019, her moods changed too, although not to the extent of mine. It was just enough for our combined moodiness to create conflict, resulting in our snapping at one another over the smallest issue. We would retreat into our own thoughts or activities, not feeling like talking to each other for a while. These were the times to leave the property and go out to dinner or shopping. Once away from the place, we would almost immediately return  to our (previously) normal symbiotic selves with normal conversations and laughter and enjoying each other's company again.

Sheri also saw shapes floating around which would leave her questioning her own eyes. Once while standing by the refrigerator she saw something that looked like a solid black sheet of construction paper appear in the kitchen and float into the utility room and disappear in the wall. Another time she saw something white through the slats of the wood fence that gave the impression of someone coming up the driveway. The horses noticed too, but when the object should have reached the end of the fence and continued in plain sight up the drive, nothing ever emerged. She also saw a gray rectangular shape appear in the desert while riding near the house. It floated across the ground like a magic carpet and then disappeared. The horse was watching it too with pricked ears. At other times, something would slap the bottom of her stirrup hard enough to feel and make a sound. It also spooked the horse. There were no sticks or shrubs high enough to reach the stirrup, which would have hit the horse's chest anyway. If not for the reaction of the animals to these things, Sheri would have thought she was hallucinating.

Speaking of the animals, we believe they were being affected too. They reacted to things seen and unseen. Buddy didn’t have any health issues, but he was reacting to things inside the house we couldn't see. The same cannot be said for the horses. We arrived here in 2018 with two healthy horses and in March 2019 we added a third mare. The first indication was when the horses became unusually lethargic. In June, Sheri took the youngest of the two original mares, Maggie, to the vet who ran a series of tests. The surprising result was she had a heart murmur and beginning stages of heart failure. A condition the vet said was very unusual in horses, especially Arabians. She was given medicine and told to bring Maggie back for a checkup in a few weeks.

Because of that diagnosis, Sheri took the other two mares for a checkup. Our oldest horse, Samantha, was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Again, the vet said this was unusual because thyroid issues in horses usually accompany other health problems that Samantha did not have. The vet called it a standalone thyroid condition and prescribed her a medication to treat it. Our newest and youngest horse, Summer, basically received a clean bill of health.

Over the next couple of weeks Maggie's health continued to worsen. On July 30, 2019, Sheri made the heartbreaking decision to have our sweet mare euthanized. Our last day at home with her was a tearful day outside in our little backyard patch of grass letting her graze while giving her favorite treats of watermelon, cantaloupe, and grapes. I still tear up remembering that day with her.

Shortly after, Summer was found in her corral laying down and unable to get up. She had foundered overnight and her front feet were too sore for her to stand. Sheri worked with her and was able to get her back on her feet for short periods of time. We thought we were going to lose her also. Thankfully, Summer recovered enough to stand and eventually make a partial recovery but she still has bouts of lameness and sore feet.

Samantha has been on the thyroid medicine for three years now. The levels have never returned to normal, so the medicine is the only way we have of controlling it. Other than that, she seems fine and is a great trail and lesson horse for children. Our trusty paint mare is pushing 30 according to vets, a pretty old age for a horse.

Throughout all this, sage-ing, prayer, and meditation were a continual part of our lives. Somewhere during that time, an episode of The Dead Files aired featuring a place from my home state of Missouri. This was my first introduction to the Eberhardts, although I didn't know at the time how important their story would become to us.

This Memorial Day weekend is especially significant because of two events that happened on the same weekend in 2019. They started us on the path to turning our situation around. It's funny how the intersection of these two important events were lost on me until going through my notes to write this. But there they were, staring right in my face. You don't always recognize the importance of something right away.

The first event was an unexpected Saturday visitor from a young lady who lived in this house several years ago as a child. The second was an innocuous one-word reply from Amy Allan's Twitter to a Tweet by Lance about his blog…this blog. Following that link opened a connection to their complete story.

I left the page open in my web browser for 2 or 3 weeks before joining the Eberhardt's on their paranormal journey from the beginning. It took me a while, but I finished reading everything in September. Their story hit me in a way I could never have imagined. After reading that last entry, I posted a comment to Lance and mentioned our current situation. One small part of Lance's reply set me on the path to dealing with our home. He said, "My only suggestion would be to handle it now; head on & without fear."

That short sentence in the midst of Lance's reply had an enormous impact. It said I could handle it. I needed to face it. I did not need to be afraid. Time was not on my side.

I hope you'll forgive me for being flexible with the chronology. Many things were happening simultaneously while I was trying to make sense of them and seek answers. In my next post I'll wrap up our story with the revelation of our 2019 Memorial Day Weekend visitor and the decisions we made to "handle it", thanks to Lance's encouragement.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

A Desert Haunt Part 2-Guest Blogger

 Here's part 2 of Guest Blogger Rick's haunting.  If you want to catch up, you can read Part 1 by clicking HERE.

If you like to be a guest blogger, we'd love to hear from you.  Click HERE  to get the information to submit your story!

Hope you enjoy Part 2 of Rick's story!

Lance & Jennifer

A Desert Haunt, Part 2

Well, our little rescue desert dog, Buddy, had just arrived on the scene at our home in the Mojave Desert and strange happenings started picking up in our house. This was now February 2019, right at one year since we moved in. The only odd thing Sheri remembers prior to Buddy moving in was the occasional odor of cigarettes in one area of the house.

I will add here that the week before Buddy showed up, on January 15, 2019, our landlord brought a 10'x16' building from a nearby property. He put the building close to the horse lot so Sheri could use it to store feed and tack. Great! What a nice gesture! Or was it?

I've always been paranormal-curious and was a big fan of Ghost Hunters back in the early 2000s. I also loved watching the early seasons of Supernatural, Medium, and Ghost Whisperer. My interest goes further back than that since I'm a huge Scooby-Doo fan from my childhood to this day. So, taking the step from the strange things happening around our home were just strange to calling them paranormal wasn't a huge leap. What to do about it? That was an entirely different dilemma.

Shortly after Buddy moved in with us the flags started adding up. I worked all day and usually spent the evenings staying busy until bedtime, so I wasn't as aware of these things as Sheri, who rarely left the property except to ride the horses or get feed for them. After Buddy's treat-basket incident, we began talking more about what she was experiencing. This led to me noticing them more and more when I was home.

The first thing was the smell of cigarettes got stronger and moved to other parts of the house. Neither of us smoke. The most common area we smelled it was in the living room where we had put a left-behind loveseat that I usually sit in. The rooms are really tiny in order to accommodate three bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen, living room, dining room, family/office room, and utility room. So there are only so many ways to configure the living room if you have more than one piece of furniture. I'm sure our setup matched many of the previous tenants over the place's 30-year history. We actually don't know anything about the loveseat other than it was simply here and we asked if we could use it, along with a dining room table that was also left behind by someone. They don't smell like smoke if you put your nose up to them. The other most common area we would smell cigarettes was around the back door leading out to the rear porch and small fenced-in back yard.

If that was all, we could have kept ignoring the signs. But there was more. They mostly happened to Sheri and I got to hear about them later. That was the most frustrating thing for me. She would call me or text me while I was at work freaked out about another experience she'd had and I had absolutely no idea what to do. I needed to protect my family but I didn't know what I was up against.

As Spring wore on, the unexplained stuff just kept ramping up. Below are some of the events. I can't necessarily recall dates or sequence, but they seemed to go from less obvious things that simply made you wonder to more physical stuff that was hard to just shake your head and move on from.

         At first, things inexplicably fell off shelves, tables, counters. Stuff would also go missing, then show up again later. A pocket knife I'd carried for years went missing and was never seen again to this day. I totally understand these things can be written off to being misplaced. That's exactly what I did at first.

         Sometimes the computer or phone would start behaving strangely. Especially if you were trying to type something. It would just start adding symbols or random characters. In some cases, the only solution was to restart the device.

         One weekend afternoon I was in the living room watching TV and a loud commotion came from the bedroom. Buddy lost his mind barking and growling at the sound and all that caused me to jump. I followed him into the bedroom and he went straight to the closet, his hair up and growling. Some of Sheri's shirts had come off the hangers; some of the hangers were swinging and some had come off the rod. Nobody was in the bedroom, and Buddy & I were alone in the living room. That wasn't the only time things in that closet came off the hangers.

         Sheri started having her bra unsnap while she was working outside. It didn't happen all the time, however over a couple-week period it was rather predictable. Sheri would work all day without any problems with her bra, then, when she finished up her chores for the day and was coming inside for the evening, her bra would come undone right at the base of the steps to our front porch. It almost always happened that way, no matter if she was finishing early or late. Sheri swears, since she's been wearing a bra most of her life, she had never had this kind of trouble with her bras before. It didn't matter if they were new, old, or what. It would come undone at almost the same place as she approached the house to come inside for the evening. It wasn't just confined to her or the house area though. Once it happened to one of her riding lesson students in the middle of a lesson. The young lady was so embarrassed she didn't know how to tell Sheri what happened. It also happened to Sheri once when was getting out of the truck to go into a feed store.

         Sheri was in the bathroom and saw, through the frosted glass window, the dark shape of a person walking up the front porch steps. It looked like the shadow of a person backlit by the sunlight. She thought it was UPS delivering a package, so she hurried to finish her business and went to the front door to find nothing. No package, no person, no vehicle. There were no sounds of footsteps, knocks, or a vehicle pulling up to the house. Just that unmistakable shape of a human being.

One of my favorite things to do here in the desert is sit outside in the evening around our fire pit. The night air cools down and the warmth of the fire feels really good. The house is surrounded by gravel, put in so the owner could move heavy equipment and trucks around without worrying about them getting buried in the sand. I took advantage of all that graveled space to put out a fire pit and not have to worry about the fire getting away from me. Sitting by that fire in the evening is the best way I've found to relax at the end of a long day. When I lived back east I could only imagine what it would be like to sit outside, drink a cold beverage, and not be attacked by night insects. I can now do that, but after one particular night I have to wonder if something else might deliver a different sort of attack.

The sun had slipped over the horizon 30 or 40 minutes before and I was listening to some music, drinking a beer, and trying to pick out constellations in the darkening sky. Sheri was in the horse lot off to my left finishing up with her evening feeding and I was waiting for her to join me. From behind me, I heard the unmistakable sound of footsteps running through the gravel. I thought I was about to be hit from behind…with what, I didn't know. I jumped up and yelled out a warning to whoever was rushing me. I grabbed the fire poker and pivoted 180 degrees toward the sound of those steps and got in a fighting stance, prepared to defend myself as best I could. With my heart racing and my adrenaline stoking my courage, I tried to locate the threat. Nothing was there. There is easily 10 yards of open space all around where I was sitting. The gray sheet-metal fence that had been to my back was the closest thing and anyone would have been outlined against it. I reached for my flashlight and probed all around in the gathering dark. Nothing. I sidestepped, still facing the perceived danger, until I could see beyond the corner of the sheet-metal fence. Again, nothing. I was all alone.

That experience unnerved me more than anything up to that point and since. Were we in danger? I couldn't be sure. The sound of those footsteps running toward me, crunching in the gravel, haunts me to this day. The menace and purpose in them were apparent. They could not be ignored. Neither can they be forgotten. I don't know what made that sound. My eyes told me there was nothing around that could have made it. My physical reaction to it told me something had to have made it.

I told Sheri what happened when she joined me a little later. She could tell how disturbed I was. We wondered what we could do. I admitted I was scared. She acknowledged she was too.

What do you do when you finally accept you're dealing with a haunting? Where do you turn? In part 3, I'll try and explain how the experiences affected us and how we tried to fight back.

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