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velkommen

Welcome. This is my blog, and you're my most coveted guest. If I seem a bit too intense, it's only because I have so much that I want to share with you, and I can see that you're eager to begin as well. So, please...make yourself at home, sip an East India cocktail (I blended the pomegranate juice myself), and sample some of my domestic and imported Arcana: useless, but fascinating information about Victoriana, Steampunk and other favoured topics; music which evokes that dark, lost Lenore sensibility; and other pleasant or, perhaps, unsettling non sequiters whispered in a darkened room. Linger long or short, leave a comment or refrain, but remember to come back soon to play a (shhhh) parlour game.
Velkommen. Dette er min blog, og du er min mest eftertragtedegæst. Hvis jeg synes en smule for intenst, det er kunfordi jeg har så meget at jeg vil dele med jer, og jeg kanse, at du er ivrig efter at begynde så godt. kan du ...føl dig hjemme, sip et East India cocktail (jeg blandetden granatæble juice mig selv), og prøve nogle af mine indenlandske o importerede Arcana: ubrugelig, menfascinerende oplysninger om Victoriana, Steampunkog andre begunstigede emner; musik der fremkalderdenne mørke, mistede Lenore sensibilitet, og andrebehagelige eller måske foruroligende, ikke sequitershviskede i et mørkelagt rum. Linger lang eller kort,efterlade en kommentar eller afstå, men husk at komme tilbage snart til at spille en (Shhhh) selskabsleg.

ABOUT ME

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I love my grown children, miss all the dogs I ever had, and I cry at the drop of a hat, I believe in true love, destiny, fairness, and compassion. If I could be anywhere right now, it would be the ocean. My favorite city is New York, but I am always longing for London and craving more time in Copenhagen. I'm drawn to desolate places, deserted buildings, and unknown byways. I don't care how society perceives me as long as my gut tells me that what I'm doing is right. I am interested in paranormal things, spiritual things, historical things, and things that glow at night. I like to drink, I smoke when I write, I can't stand small talk, and despite my quick temper, I would rather kiss than fight. I'm selfish with my writing time, a spendthrift with my love. My heart has been broken so many times that it's held together with super glue and duct tape. The upside is that, next time, I won't be tempted to give away what I no longer have to give. But I will let you buy me a Pink Squirrel.

Fuldmane

Fuldmane
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Helvede's så Nocturne

Helvede's så Nocturne
The raw, aching sadness with which the following words were typed has been reformatted to fit your screen. No need to adjust it. All names have been expunged to protect the innocent and the willfully insane.

Nocturne in G Flat major

Chopin, darkness, light, sand and wind, starlight tread. Beethoven, love, fear, madness, redemption in the night. Liszt, waltzing widows, desperate bargains, pleasure's secret plight. Now, then, before, always, forever. Promises made on lonely beaches, celestial summer's perfect kiss, passions quenched in salty breezes, the lure of distant mist-draped heights. Bitter interlude. Final, private nocturne. Burned down like a candle. Doomed bleeding beauty. Fated sacrificial night.
To be continued...

Gentle Visitor

Gentle Visitor
And now, Gentle Visitor, won't you please lend an eye (we've worked so hard)...
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
We love all things dark and mysterious, macabre and obscure, odd and unfathomable. Nothing is too strange or bizarre for our little blog. And although we would never presume to offer definitive answers to the great questions of life, we shall do our best to enlighten, inform and delight our visitors with our whimsical potpurri of facts, anecdotes, trivia and informational outpourings. We strive not to offend, but to edify those who wish to reach beyond their comfort zone and touch the fabric of another time and place, and of distant, but genuine worlds and lives. As Victorian-themed blogs go, ours may not be the most austere, nor the most comprehensive, but we know what we like, and if our readers like it as well, then all is as it should be in this ramshackle corner of our own personal Victorian empire.

A Musical Note

A Musical Note: We feel that our blog is best viewed when accompanied by one or more of the following musical selections. Then again, we also feel that our blog is best viewed when accompanied by a glass of absinthe, a bite of lemon cake, and a foot massage (preferably by someone you know). So, to paraphrase the otherwise completely irrelevant-to-our-blog Mr. Aleister Crowley, "Do what thou wilt...but be open to Chopin."
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And now we begin

And now we begin
"One must strive to show decorum even when scrolling." Queen Victoria, Buckingham Palace Blog, August 11,1879

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

OUR LOVED ONES LIVE STILL!: TALES FROM A 19TH CENTURY TRUE BELIEVER


In 1893, Elizabeth Shore published a book called Our Loved Ones Live Still!, a thin collection of anecdotal accounts of visits from beyond the grave as told to her by the recipients of those visits. The self-described "daughter of a Midwestern newspaper editor", Shore's writing would never pass muster in a newsroom. It's not only anecdotal, but unabashedly sentimental, and in relating the second-hand stories which make up the collection, she never questions the validity of what allegedly occurred, or even attempts to offer evidence to support it. But her folksy, unpretentious style makes interesting reading nonetheless. We offer the following stories from her book for your persual.
On the morning of June 17, 1884, 29-year-old Lorena Trumbell of Hitchensville, Illinois, was preparing for what she expected would be the saddest day of her life. Three days before, she had awakened to find that her two-month-old son had died in his crib during the night. As any mother would be, Lorena was inconsolable, so much so that the town doctor was summoned to give her a dose of laudanum to help her sleep. But no amount of laudanum could assuage her pain, or shake her "unreasonable conviction" that she was somehow to blame for the child's death. Unable to rein in her emotions, she had remained sequestered in her bedroom during the wake, refusing to see anyone but her husband, their two other children, and an aunt who had come to help with the funeral preparations. But now, on the day of her son's funeral, she was trying to gather herself together for her first public appearance since the tragedy had occurred.

As Lorena prepared for the funeral, her aunt, known as "Aunt Cece" to Lorena and the rest of the immediate family, recalled that her niece's attitude was "very quiet and grim" and that "she hardly spoke a word" as she put on her mourning clothes, and then sat down in front of her dresser mirror to fix her hair. Lorena's husband, Thomas, had apparently not been very supportive of her distress. The owner of a dry goods store, he was, according to Aunt Cece, "a man who kept his thoughts to himself" and apparently believed that his wife should do the same. In fact, Aunt Cece recalled, "when I told him that I was concerned for Lorena's state of mind, he made a very unfavorable remark as to the weak nature of women in general."

And so, as Aunt CeCe readied the couple's other two children for the funeral, Lorena was left to her own devices in her bedroom. When it was finally time for the family to leave for the church, Aunt Cece went upstairs to fetch her niece, "expecting to find her in the same sad state in which I had left her." However, to her surprise, she opened the bedroom door to find that Lorena's "countenance had changed completely." But before Aunt CeCe could ask her what had brought about the change, Lorena gushed out the unexpected news that she had just seen her dead child. "I asked her what she meant, and she said, 'Julia brought him! I saw them both, there, in that rocking chair, only half of an hour ago! He lives, as sure as you and I do!" Aunt CeCe was more than a little taken aback by the news since "Julia" was the name of Lorena's birth mother, who had died when Lorena was very young, and who, being dead, had no business sitting in a rocking chair in Lorena's bedroom, or anywhere else for that matter. But Lorena continued to insist that her dead mother had been there, and that she had been holding Lorena's recently deceased son in her arms. "My niece told me that (Julia) did not speak to her, but only smiled, lingering for quite a few minutes until she seemed to fade away, very slowly, from sight." So, what did Lorena really see that morning? Did her long-dead mother actually return to comfort her daughter by showing her that both she and the baby were alive and well in spirit? Or was it merely a grieving mother's desperation that sparked a momentary illusion? It's impossible to say, of course. Like all anecdotal accounts of "spirit visitations", especially ones which occurred over a century ago, Lorena's story is long on details and short on evidence. But, fortunately for those who want to believe that such a thing could and did happen, we have only to turn from Lorena's story to that of the Billings family of New London, Connecticut.

In the early spring of 1887, nine-year-old Cassandra "Cassie" Billings, who was known for her "abundant golden tresses" and "cheerful disposition" came down with a cold. It was hardly surprising, given the recent spate of cool, rainy weather which had cast an unwelcome shadow over what should have been a delightful return to warmth and sunshine following a long, cold winter. In fact, Cassie's parents, George and Esther Billings, felt confident enough in their daughter's general good health to go ahead with a planned trip to Boston to visit Esther's ailing mother. They left on a Saturday morning, consigning Cassie to the care of her married sister, Roberta and Roberta's husband, Bernard, who had also agreed to look after the couple's other three children in their absence. But that night, Cassie's health took a sudden turn for the worse. By the next morning, she was so ill that a doctor was summoned. But it was to no avail. A week later, George and Esther returned home to find that their beloved daughter was dead.

Four months later, as the seasons were turning once again, this time from summer to fall, the Billings family were still doing their best to come to terms with their loss. Life had gone on, as it always does in such cases, but a sense of bleakness continued to hang over the household, shadowing even the most mundane of activities. George Billings, a senior accountant with a highly respected accounting firm, took solace in his work, "leaving the house each morning with a shameful eagerness to be separated from reminders of the family's loss", but his wife had no such outlet for her pain. Compelled by propriety to remain at home with Cassie's younger sisters and brother, she was so overcome with grief that she had begun to suffer from blinding headaches "which required a doctor's prescription to overcome." It was as she lay on her bed one afternoon in the throes of such a headache that she "saw Cassie."

As Esther lay in bed with a cold compress on her forehead, she felt a sudden "presence" in the room and opened her eyes to see what appeared to be her deceased daughter standing beside her bed. "She looked as she always did, as alive and solid as though she had never passed from this earth," Esther recalled. "I thought I must be dreaming. But as I could hear the clock ticking across the room, and the sound of voices from down the hall, I knew that I was not." Overcome with joy and disbelief, Esther exclaimed, "Cassie! Oh, my darling! How is it that you are here again?" In the "same soft, dear, familiar voice" that her mother had not heard for four months, Cassie replied, "I have come to tell you not to be sad for me, Mother. Tell Father that he must not be sad anymore, either, for I still live. I am happy now, and very well." Then she vanished from her mother's view. Esther waited until her husband returned home from work that night to share the news of their daughter's visit. Not surprisingly. George attributed the story to the effects of the medicine that his wife had taken for her headache. Thrilled with what had occurred, and feeling a renewed sense of energy for the routine of day to day existence, Esther took his disbelief in stride and went on with her life. Neither she nor her husband discussed the matter again for several weeks. Then, one morning, as the couple were sitting alone at the breakfast table, George told her that he had seen Cassie as well. "He told me that he had awakened the night before to see our beloved daughter standing beside the bed, looking at him with an expression of deep concern," Esther recalled. However, this time around, Cassie didn't speak, but, instead, simply reached out a hand and touched him on his shoulder. "He told me that he could feel her fingers on his shoulder as she touched him, at that moment and afterward, and that it filled him with an immense sense of comfort," Esther said.
Once again, the anecdotal nature of Cassie Billing's "visitation" to her grieving parents can never proved. But what we can take away from the story is that something occurred, and that, whatever it was, it brought solace to George and Esther Billings. Perhaps there are some people who would find the idea of a visit from a deceased loved one a frightening prospect. But, in these two cases, at least, the recipients of the visit chose to take it as a sign that the dearly departed was safe and well and drew strength and courage from that belief. Elizabeth Shore went on to write several more collections of anecdotal accounts of ghost sightings and hauntings, none of which are still in print. It's probably safe to assume that her work, while commendable, never convinced anyone of anything which they didn't already believe.

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