Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ghost Hill

In keeping with the spirit of Halloween Week, I’ve been reminiscing the past few days of the things that spooked me as a child.  Considering I ended up being a teen who loved all things haunted and supernatural, it’s kind of funny to recall that I was really a 'fraidy-cat kid during my elementary school days.

I was the girl who stuck her fingers in her ears and shouted “LALALAICANTHEARYOU” when other kids tried telling scary stories at sleepovers.  At a friend’s Halloween party, her uncle dressed up as the Devil and tore through the house to the delighted screams of the other kids, while I cried and they had to call my mom to come pick me up.  I remember going on a camping trip with my class, maybe Grade 4 or 5?, and freaking RIGHT out when the girls in our bunk room decided to try out Bloody Mary in the bathroom mirror.

And then, there was this little problem called Ghost Hill.

You see, I live in a small town about an hour away from “the city”.  The main artery leading out of town towards the city is called Highway 148.  And it is home to a rather creepy stretch of road called Ghost Hill.

Back then, I was quite sheltered in our small town, and trips to the city seemed to be rare.  Few and far between.  We were more likely to head for Renfrew, Arnprior, or Pembroke – going the opposite direction, away from Ottawa/Gatineau region.  Yet, I had often heard about the hill – kids love to tell scary stories, you know – and so even though I didn’t travel it often, I knew it well.

It’s a windy little stretch of highway, with a marshy area at the foot of the hill, and an old stone church (which has since been converted to a house) at the top.  The bush is dense on either side of the road, twisty branches reaching across the road overhead to almost create an eerie canopy.

And when you’re coming down the highway and you hit that steep hill at just the right speed, you can feel your stomach do that funny little drop  and feel the hairs raise on the back of your neck.  The sort of things that happen on rare –and creepy – occasions.

I went through a phase as a child when Ghost Hill scared the bejeesus out of me.  People said the church at the top of the hill was haunted.  They claimed ghost cars would come straight at you and drive right through you.  Someone even told me once that back in horse and buggy days, a man had accidentally mistaken his friend for a cow charging at him, and shot him, and now that “man-cow” roamed the hill, just waiting to charge out in front of a car and scare them.

They often said you should drive over that stretch of road as fast as you possibly could, or who knows what might happen to you.

Likely fueled by the tormenting tales of my school friends, I grew to dread going anywhere if I knew I had to go by Ghost Hill, especially if it was after dark.  I literally remember begging my mother, if I knew we were going to the city, to please please please take a different route.

I know now that there are ways around Ghost Hill.  You can always cross to Ontario via the Quyon Ferry, or if staying on the Quebec side is your preference, there’s the herky-jerky-pot-hole-filled Mountain Road that can be taken to get around it.

But I can also see why my mom would lie to me and promise we’d go another way, then take the more direct Ghost Hill route anyway, despite my fears.

See, I was a pretty unobservant kid – still am, actually – so I’d trust my mom’s word when she’d vow that we wouldn’t go by way of Ghost Hill.  And then I’d sit perched in the back seat and remain completely oblivious to my whereabouts, until we got to the point where I’d realize, Holy crap on a cracker, we are AT GHOST HILL!!!!!

“MOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!”

My mom isn’t a very ghosty sort of person.  She doesn’t like scary stories, and she rolls her eyes at tales of the supernatural.  She used to laugh at me and my fear of Ghost Hill.  Literally laugh at her terrified little girl.  Imagine!

I’m not sure how or when it ended, but somewhere along the way, I got over my fear of Ghost Hill.  Probably after I realized nothing bad ever happened to me when I was traveling it.

No ghost cars, no weird happenings, no haunted man-cows roaming the ditches.

Many people from our area commute to work in the city every single day of the week, and I imagine they pass this section of highway much the same as I do now – without the bat of an eye, without even a second thought as to where they are on that long drive each day to and from work.  Nothing to even make them think of the fact that they are going over Ghost Hill.

Except for that tiny little tummy flip that happens every now and then, when you hit the steep hill going at just the right speed…

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

If your house HAD to be haunted…

OK, so it’s Halloween week, as we all know, and thus I have an urge to explore all things scary.  (Well, sort of scary, anyways.  I still need to be able to sleep at night, of course.)

The other morning as I was getting ready for work, they were discussing an interesting dilemma on the morning radio show I listen to:

If your house HAD to be haunted by something, what would you choose:

A) A vengeful ghost

B) A possessed doll

C) An evil leprechaun

D) A demon

This is an actual study that was recently conducted, apparently.  Some people have way cooler jobs than I do…

Anyways.  For me, the answer was quick and obvious.  If I HAD to be haunted (God forbid), I would choose the vengeful ghost.  If there’s anything I learned from my Scary Movie Marathon this past weekend, it’s that ghosts really just want you to listen to them, or do something for them.  They are angry because they have unfinished business.  So even though I’d probably crap my pants if a ghost showed up in my house, I would try to see if it had a message for me.  I would try to listen.  And if it had something it wanted me to do, I would try to do it for them.

The Sixth Sense ghost

Ghosts, I believe, can be reasoned with.  And if I ended up with a Bruce Willis ghost, I’d be delighted.

sixth-sense

A possessed doll?  No thank you.  Old dolls can be terribly creepy.  If they could blink and move around and do damage?  Ten times creepier.

Creepy_doll_17

An evil leprechaun?  I didn’t even know such a thing existed. I thought leprechauns were jolly and came with boxes of Lucky Charms and pots of gold and mugs of green beer.  When did they suddenly turn evil?

evil leprechaun

A DEMON?! 

Hell to the no.  Who in their right mind would EVER pick a DEMON!??!

Demon-ghosts-and-related-paranormal-stuff-32272501-800-500

Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about demons.  I live next door to a church.  Which means, Jesus is my next-door neighbour.  I believe in my heart that He would not allow a DEMON to move in next door.

Actually, I’m kind of counting on Jesus to shield me from the ghosts, dolls, and leprechauns too.

Another interesting tidbit… In the same study, they found that 13% of people would not buy a house if they address was 666. 

jamies-haunted-house1375200625

I’m not sure how I feel about this.  I’ve always kind of half-considered 666 my lucky number (DEMONS, if you’re reading this, I did NOT just say that!!!)  See, Wade Redden’s number was 6, and one time in high school they had one of those giant jars full of jelly beans and you had to pay $1 to guess how many were in there.  I guessed 666 in Wade’s honour, and I won.  I ate jelly beans for months and months.  I mean, how LUCKY could I get?!

However, the other day I noticed I had 666 friends on Facebook and it gave me the heebie-jeebies.  I think I need to delete a friend.  Maybe I wouldn’t buy a house with that address after all.

So, folks?  What do ya think?  If you had to house a supernatural entity, what would you choose to be haunted by?

And if your dream house had a 666 address, would you still buy it?

Happy Halloweenie pondering, friends! :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Tuesday Random

  • I’ve been in a blogging rut lately (in case you couldn’t tell by the lack of posts going on here).  Not sure why – I think the Car Rally craziness invaded my brain too much for awhile, and I’ve never really gotten back on track since.  I’m going to make more of an effort this week.
  • It’s Halloween week!  I LOVE Halloween!  And I LOVE that it’s falling on a Friday this year!  I have my treat bags all set to take to my mom’s on Friday night to greet the trick-or-treaters with her.  And I’m already thinking of what I want for my fun Halloween supper.  Pizza?  Macaroni?  Nachos?  The possibilities are whirling… Also hoping I can talk Mom into watching a slightly Halloweenie movie with me – nothing too scary, of course, but perhaps Signs or The Village?  We’ll see…

Signs

  • I bought Halloween candy last week to make up my treat bags, and of course, there’s now “leftovers” floating around.  The only good news is that I didn’t buy it as early as I did last year, and I didn’t buy as much “extras” as I did last year.  So the candy binge shouldn’t be as bad as last year’s.

halloween-candy

  • I had my Scary Movie Marathon on Saturday, and I watched The Sixth Sense, An American Haunting, and Stir of Echoes.  When it was over, I was sufficiently spookified, yet still able to sleep, so I consider that a successful Scary Movie Marathon.
  • I still had to leave the hall light on, though.  Just in case.
  • Despite the excitement for Halloween, my mind is jumping ahead a bit, as I know that by Saturday, it will be time to dive head-first into Christmas decorating.  I’ll have exactly one month to prepare for the Christmas House Tour, and there is SO much to do!  I have a list made of things that need to be accomplished during that month, and there won’t be any time to spare.  I can’t wait!
  • I loved that my 2-year-old niece Neve came to our church supper Sunday wearing her “Let It Snow” shirt.  My kind of girl!

Let It SNOW card 2009 008 (1)

  • I also need to start seriously thinking about Christmas gifts – a Wishlist for myself to email out to my “Secret Santa”, and lists to buy for the family member that I drew, as well as for the kids.  I always get a little stressed out over shopping, so I want to be on the ball this year.  Sadly, I’m lacking in ideas, so I need to give this some serious thought.
  • To dress up on Friday, or not to dress up on Friday?  That is the question…

I think that’s all I’ve got for this Random Tuesday, friends!  Hope you’re all having a good week :)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Somber Friday Confessions

I confess… that when I’m upset, I write.  And the urge to write this week has been very strong.  However, I’ve yet to find time to sit down and really let my thoughts and feelings flow with pen and paper, or by keyboard, so for today, it will be in quick Friday confession format.

I confess… that after sitting glued to my computer a week ago Wednesday, praying for my sister’s friend’s safety and searching social media and news websites for updates as we waited for word following the avalanche and blizzards in Nepal, I didn’t think I’d be doing it all over again so soon.  One week to the day.  Our country’s capital under siege, a gunman on the loose, a soldier shot at the War Memorial, the halls of our Parliament building echoing with gunfire, the downtown core under lockdown… It was surreal.  It was terrifying

October 22 2014 1

CANADA-ATTACKS-SHOOTING

October 22 2014 3

I confess… that of course my first thoughts were of my sister and brother, and many of my good friends and relatives, who work in the downtown sector of Ottawa.  I felt lucky that I work in the country, removed from the chaos and fear that gripped the city that day, yet still I couldn’t stop worrying about all of them, and hoping they were all okay.  Thankfully, they were.

I confess… that I kept thinking of the beautiful city streets of Ottawa, and the lively activity on Parliament Hill.  I used to work downtown (what feels like a lifetime ago), but I’ve strolled those very streets many times.  I used to catch my bus in front of Parliament Hill.  I know my family and friends are in the area on a daily basis.  It makes me shudder to think of how close they all were to it.

Parliament-Ottawa

I confess… that at a time like this, the Mr. Rogers quote about how in scary times, we should look for the people who are helping, resonates with me.  It brings me comfort; it brings me pride.  I think of the first responders – the people who ran towards the sound of gunfire instead of away from it, the people who put themselves in the line of danger to try and save Cpl. Nathan Cirillo after he’d been shot, to the Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers who eventually took the gunman down in outside the Library of the Parliament buildings, all of the police, RCMP, and emergency workers who were trained and ready for a dreadful day just like this.  For them, I give thanks.

MISTER-ROGERS-HELPERS-QUOTE-570

kevin vikers  This is a picture of Sergeant At Arms Kevin Vickers in the halls of our Parliament building moments after he took down the gunman

I confess… that I still can’t believe this has happened in our country.  I know I should have expected we couldn’t be shielded from it forever, but to have two members of our military killed in one week in two separate acts of terrorism – one on Monday, when Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was hit and killed by a car in St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, and then Cpl. Nathan Cirillo who was shot on Wednesday – both acts committed by Canadian-born radicals – it still sends shivers down my spine.  Not here… this can’t be happening here…

I confess… that I try not to pay much attention to scary stuff in the news.  Ebola, wars in other countries… I tend to stick my head in the sand.  They trouble me too much to allow myself to be consumed by them.  And to be very truthful, I really hadn’t paid much attention to the story of the warrant officer being killed in the parking lot in Quebec on Monday.  But when tragedy strikes in your own back yard, there is no running and hiding. 

I confess… that with each photo I see of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, tears prickle my eyes, and I can’t believe the sense of loss I feel over a man I didn’t even know.  In the pictures, I can tell he was a happy guy, always smiling, often pictured with his dogs, enjoying the outdoors, and in uniform.  A 24-year-old father.  Handsome as all get out.  An army reservist who was standing as a ceremonial guard at one of our nation’s most sacred monuments.  His weapon not even loaded.  His death so senseless.  It breaks my heart.

cpl nathan cirillo

cpl nathan cirillo 2

Cpl-Nathan-Cirrilo-Ottawa-shooting-Canada-213835 This particular photo was posted to Twitter by a girl who was visiting in Ottawa this past weekend and asked this “handsome guard” to pose with her for a photo, and he kindly obliged.

I confess… that on a day when sports did not matter in the least – as was evidenced by the NHL’s postponement of the Sens/Leafs game that night – oddly, it was several sports writers who, for me, best captured how I was feeling.  TSN’s James Duthie’s thoughts are here, and Bob McKenzie’s here – both poignant, heartfelt, stirring.

I confess… that I thought the Pittsburgh Penguins’ pre-game ceremony on Wednesday night was the definition of class.  Normally, the Canadian national anthem is only sung before hockey games in which a Canadian team is playing, but that night, with no neighbours north of the border in their barn, they sang it loud and proud, in an act of solidarity and support.  I can’t tell you how much that meant to us. 

ocanada-penguins-twitter

I confess… that I’m wearing my poppy early this year.  I normally don’t put one on until after Halloween, but in the wake of this tragedy, and in honour of our fallen soldiers Patrice Vincent and Nathan Cirillo, I am wearing it now.  The poppy has always been important to me, but it means so much more to me now.  I’m wearing it for them.

poppy

condolence460

 

I confess… that there’s so much more to say.  So many more thoughts that I haven’t yet expressed.  But as I enter a fun weekend, with many plans made with friends and family, I know that the events of this past week will never be far from my thoughts.  I know it will continue to be discussed.  Our country changed on Wednesday, but in the end, I know this will unite us and make us even stronger.

I’ve always been a proud Canadian.  This week has only made me feel that even more deeply.

cpl. nathan cirillo

Monday, October 20, 2014

I’m alive & well. Sorta.

Everyone knows that a stressful week + Jill = nothing good.  Hence, my absence last week.  I was wound up tighter than a bobbin, with my mind bouncing around like crazy, and no good blog posts could come of that.

It was the week before Car Rally.  My team won the Rally last year (unfortunately), which meant that we had the job of planning this year’s route and questions.  It’s a big job.  We’ve literally been working on it for a whole year.  And with the big day finally on the horizon, I was worrying, second-guessing, and stressing over every little detail.

On top of all that, we had a rough day last week when we received word that one of my sister’s best friends, Virginia, was trekking the Annapurna trail in the mountains of Nepal when the blizzard and avalanche hit, and she and her friend were initially unaccounted for.  I spent the day glued to Twitter, Facebook, and every news website I could find to keep updated, praying for their safety and hoping we’d hear good news.  That word finally came in the middle of the night Wednesday – Virginia was finally able to contact her family and post to Facebook and that she and her friend were safe and sound, and would be turning back as soon as it was clear to do so.  Thank God for answered prayers!

With that stress eased, I was back in Car Rally mode.  We had everything ready for the big day, and Saturday finally arrived.  Our theme was “Celebrating 2014”. I was such a big jangling ball of nerves by that day.  I swear, I don’t think I could ever get married.  I don’t handle these big events very well!

It was a pretty crappy day weather-wise, but we still had a strong turnout, with 59 cars registered and departing every five minutes all day long.  They followed our route, searching for clues and answering questions about holidays and special events during the year.  We had a fun day sending everybody off, then marking their answers when they returned.  I was so thankful to be with my friends – I honestly wouldn’t have done it with anyone else!  I think we worked really well together, and hopefully everyone enjoyed our Rally.  We had lots of positive feedback, so that made us feel good!

At the end of the day, it was a group of women that had won the Rally a few years back that won ours as well, and we are excited to see what they have in store for us next year.  We really enjoyed the last Rally they planned, so I’m already looking forward to being back in it next year!

Will we win?  Hell to the no.  Never again!  Once was enough for us! haha!

Half-way through the day Saturday, I realized my throat was starting to get sore.  Yesterday was spent pretty low-key, as I tried to fight off the sickness.  I’m still not feeling wonderful today, though the cold has never really developed.  I’m just feeling tired and achy, and I’m anxious to get home to the couch tonight!

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pre-Thanksgiving Confessions

Happy Friday, friends!  AND the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend… what could be better?! 

But before the turkey and the pumpkin pie and the giving thanks stuff… we must confess!

I confess… that I’ve started losing sleep over Car Rally. I didn’t think it was going to happen.  My team has been so organized and on the ball and on top of things that there is no reason to be losing sleep.  And yet, for the past few nights, I’ve lain awake long past my bedtime, staring into the dark, running over and over in my head the things that still need to be done, and how that day is going to go.  My brain can be so annoying.

I confess… that I don’t know if I’ve looked forward to a day quite as much as I’m looking forward to the day after Car Rally.  I can’t wait to be a regular Car Rallyer again next year.

I confess… that I made another loaf of beer bread this week – this time a honey whole wheat version.  Beer bread is taking over my life.  I made it simply because I was fantasizing about grilled cheese sandwiches, and wanted to try one with beer bread.  (the sandwich?  didn’t turn out so great.  but the bread was still delicious.  not as delicious as the original version I made, but still pretty good.)

whole wheat beer bread

I confess… that I’m not losing any weight these days.  We’ll blame that on the current beer bread obsession.

I confess… that I placed my Amazon order this week for my Scary Movie Marathon, which I intend to hold on Oct. 25th.  I selected Stir of Echoes, Rosemary’s Baby, An American Haunting, and Disney’s The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (because it has The Legend of Sleepy Hollow on it).  I’ve seen all of them except for Rosemary’s Baby, but I hear it’s a good one.  Oddly enough, the one that still creeps me out the most is the Disney cartoon one!!

adventures-of-ichabod-and-mr-toad

I confess… that in the last stage of my order, it told me the expected delivery date was Oct. 29 – Nov. 4th. Clearly after the day I’ve chosen to hold the Scary Movie Marathon.  I went ahead and confirmed it anyways, because my Amazon orders always arrive earlier than the date they estimate.  Knock on wood!

I confess… that I wish I’d never read these 2-sentence horror stories.  A few of them creeped me out BIG time, and oddly, I don’t think of them until I’m alone in my bed in the dark.  ugh.

I confess… that I kind of can’t believe my nephew Caden is turning nine this weekend.  NINE.  My sister forwarded me this pic of him and his buddy Carter (who also celebrates his birthday this weekend), from when they turned three at daycare.  Crazy how time flies!

photo 1

I confess… that I’m really excited about my plans to go see Gone Girl tomorrow.  I loved the book, and can’t wait to see how the film adaptation works out!

Gone-Girl-Poster

I confess…that I was very jealous that my mom beat me to the theatre to see it.  My mom.  The woman I usually have to drag to the movie theatre with me.  No fair, man.

I confess… that I’ll forgive her probably after she feeds me turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy and pumpkin pie this weekend!! ;)

pumpkin pie

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, my Canadian pals, and to the rest, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! :)

Thanksgiving

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Wednesday Random Thoughts

The days keep marching on, and ta-da!  Here we are on Wednesday.  Which is good.  On the downward swing to Thanksgiving weekend… I’m so frigging excited for turkey!

Here’s some random Wednesday ramblings…

  • It was extra-dark this morning when my alarm went off.  My bed was extra-cozy.  And the rain pattering against my window was extra-soothing.  It was one of those I just want to stay curled up in bed instead of going to work mornings.
  • I’m not sure why, but I never actually do that, even when every inch of my body and soul yearns for it.  I blame my parents for instilling that “You never play hooky!” mindset into me.  I’m afraid even if I DID do it, my day would be ruined by my feelings of guilt.
  • But we all need one of those days every now and then, right?  A day to do nothing but bum around home, curl up on the couch with a quilt and an extra mug of coffee, no rush to get ready.  Read. Watch mindless daytime TV.  Make a pot of soup or bake cookies. An afternoon movie with a bowl of popcorn.  And then, a nap.  Why do we have to be SICK to get those days, man?
  • OK, I’m being a teensy bit dramatic.  I kind of had one of these days on Saturday.  Aside from a trip to WalMart, I lounged around, made a pot of chili, a loaf of beer bread, a loaf of pumpkin bread, and watched a movie.  Super stressful, eh.
  • Still, I keep longing for this one day in particular… Just this past spring, I woke up early on a Saturday morning to a heavy snow falling, and my plans for that morning were cancelled because of it.  I literally had nothing to do.  I snuggled on the couch, watched Retro Toon, and drank an extra cup of coffee (which I never do)… I didn’t even get out of my jammies and head to the shower until noon.  It was pure and utter bliss.
  • So yes, I guess it’s official.  I’m already wishing for a snow day.   Bring on the hate mail.
  • I have a new favourite thing, and that is beer bread.  I made it on the weekend, and it was delicious.  Even better?  SUPER easy to make.  I’m already trying to think up an excuse to make it again.  Maybe even tonight…

beer bread

  • It was Worldwide Communion Sunday this past weekend, and our minister Nancy encourages us to all bring our favourite kinds of bread, or bread that represents where we come from, to share for Communion.  I had never brought bread before because anything I’ve ever tried in the past was such a failure, and I don’t know of a bread that represents “where I come from”… But the beer bread turned out so wonderfully, I just had to take it and share it.  When asked for the recipe, I just told them there was a “secret ingredient”.  ‘Cause I’m pretty sure it’s against the rules to bring beer bread to church for Communion…
  • What does it say about me that I chose beer bread to represent me?  Probably not a good thing… lol
  • I thought last night that I was getting the flu.  I felt extra-tired all day yesterday, and mid-afternoon there was a smell – a normal “farm smell” around here that usually doesn’t even bother me – that kept making me feel nauseous.  I went home and did my usual workout, but it felt difficult.  I felt lethargic, and had to force myself through it.   Then I ached all evening, and ended up sleeping on the couch for most of the night, before moving to my bed and sleeping uninterrupted there until my alarm went off this morning.  I was almost half-expecting to wake up sick, but today I feel fine.  Go figure.
  • Of course, it would never work out that on the day I longed to lie in bed and listen to the rain hitting the window, that I would actually have reason to do so.
  • Have I mentioned lately that I’m excited for turkey this weekend?  ‘Cause I am.  Extremely excited.  I so love Thanksgiving!!

turkey_dinner

  • Originally, I thought Thanksgiving would be overshadowed by Car Rally doom and gloom, but as it turns out, I’m feeling really good about it right now.  We’re getting together on the holiday Monday to do some last-minute tweaking and preparing, then it will just be a matter of printing off the questions and getting ready for the big day.  “Life after Car Rally” is almost here!!
  • As it turns out, there really is no break or rest in “Life after Car Rally”.  The weekend after will be jam-packed – a birthday dinner for friends, preparing food for our church’s Harvest Supper, Scary Movie Marathon, and then attending/helping at the Harvest Supper.  Mostly fun things, but it will be busy!  Then it will be Halloween, and THEN it will be time to dive head-first into Christmas House Tour preparations. 
  • For this reason, I’m planning on doing absolutely nothing on the Sunday after Car Rally.  I’m just going to lie around and smile because Car Rally will be over.

Happy Wednesday, pals :)