The Chamber Magazine

I am super excited today! I submitted 2 ghost stories about a young woman who is a sensitive, or someone capable of feeling the presence of paranormals. The first story called The Cold Spot will be published on April 2nd at 10:00 am. The second story will appear on April 9th in that next edition online. It is simply called Stull. Stull is the name of a paranormal mecca, a gateway to the underworld located outside Lawrence, Kansas. Both ghost stories are works of fiction but inspired by true locations in the Kansas City area.

Here is the link to The Chamber Magazine. They are seeking submissions like poetry or short stories that involve horror, dark subjects, gore, ghosts, monsters, etc. To learn more, check out their site:

New Stories, Poetry, Interviews, and Articles

Cars

We visited Galena, Kansas yesterday. It is along old Route 66. Galena was the town that inspired the Pixar Cars animated movie with Lightning McQueen. When you visit the town, you can see Luigi, Towmater, and all the gang from the beloved movie. This is a great place to see with family and also is just a short distance from the Joplin waterfalls. Remember the waterfalls scene in Cars? Here are some pictures from our trip:

It Has Been 10 Years Since the Joplin Tornado

The Joplin tornado hit in Southwest Missouri on May 22, 2011. I can still remember it like yesterday. We were living 20 minutes drive from Joplin. Everyone was in shock at the devastation. The walls of the Home Depot collapsed inward. The Walmart was just a torn up mess of debris and dangerous wires everywhere. A huge swath of the Rangeline shopping district had been ripped apart. The St. John’s Hospital was completely destroyed. Cars were crushed and tossed here and there. People were stuck in their basements trying to get out. Homes were wiped out. Bodies were here and there. It was bad. Unlike anything I’d ever seen since 9-11.

My friend Jordan and her husband Dr. Fox headed down there immediately to help triage patients. My husband Dennis drove as fast as he could to Joplin to help Kelly, his brother-in-law. Their house was obliterated, all but the bath tub pretty much. They survived. Alot of people did not.

There were stories told. Awful stories like a mother that heard about the tornado too late and went to get her daughter who was playing outside only to find the girl had been swept away by the winds. Then there was the story of the boy that was sucked through the sunroof of his car while his Dad tried desperately to cling to him to no avail.

Yes, I have lived in tornado alley most all my life. We sorta scoff at them naders as we call em. Ain’t scared a no nader. But the truth is we all remember Joplin. It will be something we will never forget. Some of us still can’t even communicate our feelings fully about that day.

Tornado season is approaching. This weekend, we’ll clean up the basement a little and put pallets down in case of too much rain. We’ll put the usual chairs and table in the storm shelter and leave the back door open for any neighbors that need to seek shelter underground quickly with us. The storms have grown more frequent and harsher than I remember as a kid. Perhaps it has to do with climate change.

I, myself, have only encountered a severe wind storm tottering near level 1 tornado. But it was enough to scare the heck outta me. There was no time. It came up very fast. The lights went out. I ran from my bedroom to my children’s room. Things were hitting the house. Lots of things. Very loud. I pulled my sleeping children off their beds. I put them underneath me in a pile. We were all suddenly scared. I remember the sound of the wind in the dark as I looked up at the popcorn ceiling. There was no time to pray or for sirens. There was just a tremendous sucking noise as if something was gonna lift the roof clean off. My only thought was, “This roof is gonna come off us.”

It lasted maybe thirty seconds. I heard the timbers busting in the roof. I heard stuff hitting the house. Big stuff now.

And then it was gone. Just like that. We sat in the dark huddled together and in the distance a lone tornado siren began to sound a few minutes later. It was eerie.

The power came back up the next day. My Dad came to our house about 2 am with a lantern. He said, “Don’t go outside until the morning. You’ll step on something.” I don’t know how he managed to get through all the debris to us. The first thing he asked is if we were okay. I nodded. The kids had gone back to sleep.

The next day I saw the neighborhood. Whole trees were uprooted and tossed into homes or sheds. Trampolines were all bent and twisted up and thrown around. Alot of roofs were busted up, including ours. We had several broken timbers in the roof and there was a dent in the ceiling above my bed. The mall was a mess. Signs were thrown everywhere or toppled over. Even stuff was busted up in the cemetery. I had never experienced a night like that before and I hope to not again in the future. They say when you might die, your memories flash through your mind but all I could think in that moment was “dang, this roof is about to come off.” Anyway, we moved from that place. Found a place with a basement shelter and we love living here. If we can just only get through that dang tornado season….

I have one more tornado story to share. A few years later, we were heading to Colorado in an old RV bumper pull. We had two flat tires back to back. It was getting dark in the sky and the winds were picking up. We were on our way to Dodge City. We had to limp the RV slowly into a little town called Kinsley, a place I’d never heard of. There were tumbleweeds blowing strongly across the road as we made our way there. We stayed in the only spot we could, a little park on the outskirts of town where the Farmers’ market would be held the following day. That night the winds really picked up strong and rocked the RV back and forth. We eventually fell asleep.

The next morning we opened the door of the RV and the people from the Farmers’ Market were set up with tents and wares all around. They helped us get the tires repaired and gave us breakfast. They were very kind to us, especially my children. They told us we were lucky to find Kinsley. Some semi trucks further on down the road to Dodge City had been picked up and thrown off to the sides of the highway overturned. We asked why Kinsley was important. They said it was an old Indian settlement surrounded on three sides by a ridge. It was near Greensburg. They said tornadoes hit all around Kinsley but never hit the town. It was protected. It was a special place. I guess those flat tires were a good thing after all.

Here’s some old footage of the Joplin tornado. It will be 10 years this May 22nd.

Virtually Kiss the Blarney Stone

St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching! This is a wonderful holiday full of cheer and good tidings. I love the Irish blessings I see passed around every year on Facebook. Here is mine for you:

Since you are a writer, a poet, a blogger, an artist, a musician, or a dreamer perhaps….here are some pictures of the Blarney Castle for you. It is said that if you kiss a certain rock while hanging upside down at the top of the castle…you will be gifted with the finest eloquence the world has ever seen! Here’s to you and yours this wondrous St. Paddy’s Day. May you have love and laughter all the days of your lucky life.

I know I include music quite often in my blog…perhaps too much but I play this song often for my children in the car. It reminds me of an old Irish blessing. It was played for me on the day I graduated high school. This song has a special place in my heart from that day. I intend to play it for my son and daughter the day they graduate from high school too some day. Listen to it and have a wonderful St. Paddy’s Day!

Part 2: The Importance of the Redneck

I’ve been watching news in India of the farmer protests with some concern. India is one of the big four producers of food for the planet: China, India, Brazil, and the United States. We should be watching what happens more closely as it may impact the world quite a lot.

Although agriculture represents a very small percentage of our GDP, here in America food producers make a large portion of the total world food supply, enough to feed approximately 10 billion people.

Wait a sec. The current world population is 7.84 so why are there famines all over the place?

I’m not sure. There are probably a myriad of reasons including a need for better food systems that prevent spoilage.

The U.S. is first in the world in corn production, third in wheat, fifth in potatoes, tenth in sugarcane, and twelfth in rice production.

Why is the U. S. such a powerhouse for food supply? The geographical and atmospheric conditions for farming here are some of the best in the world and we have the quickly depleting Ogallala Aquifer.

The Ogallala Aquifer is one of the largest groundwater resources in the world. It lies under 112 million acres of land and under 8 states: Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, South Dakota, and Nebraska and Wyoming. Nebraska has the bulk of the aquifer and the deepest areas. The aquifer can go as low as 1,200 feet. About one third of U.S. agriculture is irrigated by this great aquifer. Once depleted, it will take 6,000 years to restore. We are taking way more water out for irrigation than is sustainable at this rate. Expected complete depletion year for the aquifer is around 2060.

America used to be plagued by dust bowls and drought or even severe flooding in the Midwest. Two adaptations after WW2 fixed some of this: dam systems to control flooding more and also central pivot irrigators for better irrigating of crops. Many of these dams now are very old, at least 50 years and were created under the great infrastructure plans of FDR and Eisenhower.

Maybe the answer to our joint economic and environmental concerns here is to initiate another set of infrastructure improvements that will hire many men and women to build or repair civil engineering and environmental engineering projects.

When you look at Kansas, my state, it is still called the bread basket making 400 million bushels a year with two thirds of this shipped to other countries. Kansas is ranked third in cattle and produces the majority of the grain sorghum. In 2017, Kansas produced 5.69 billion lbs. of red meat.

Texas leads the states in number of farms with around 247,000. Missouri is next with 95,000. Iowa is third with 85,300.

When you think of farming, you imagine the Midwest probably. But the top supplier of a whole lot of farm food is California.

The U.S. makes 139.5 billion in food exporting but, as I said earlier, is just one of the big four: China, India, Brazil, and United States.

We should really watch what is going on in India with the farmer protests because it may impact us all. Also, the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer is a major issue. 2060 is only thirty-nine years away.

How do we sustain a growing world population of 7.84 people with depleting resources, older dams and infrastructure in need of repairs, and political strife involving our food producers as well as our food pickers? This topic involves labor issues in regards to immigration policies too. How do we take care of these immigrants that work in agriculture? How do we create more efficient food systems? These are important issues for the upcoming years.

Great Article

I like this short article by Jackie Gingrich Cushman. I think it expresses the sentiments of many Americans at this time. It is not overly one-sided but reaches across both aisles of the debate to shake hands. I like that part. It also delves into our past and the thoughts of previous presidential leaders such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Barack Obama.

I tried to embed the link to send you to the article. It is an opinion piece titled, “A More Perfect and Lasting Union.” Well worth the read. And, I agree 100% about the exceptionalism part of it. I agree with Obama too that Americans are capable of “exceptionalist” behavior without being preachy, arrogant, narcissistic, or vain. Exceptionalism as defined this way is working towards a better common good and opening ourselves to a capacity of change/correction if necessary to improve life for future generations. Through introspection and discussion, we celebrate where we went right and recognize where we went wrong and strive/endeavor through positive action within our communities to improve.

It doesn’t mean I’m a self-identified Republican nor a Democrat, rather simply that I view myself as part of a very large group of diverse people that inhabit this land called America.

Here is the article:

https://magicvalley.com/opinion/columnists/cushman-a-more-perfect-and-lasting-union/article_71c2d6c4-8381-514b-b0ca-38a8725507fc.html

E Pluribus Unum

This was the official motto of the original 13 colonies during the American Revolution. It was proposed in 1776 by three men to become the Great Seal motto. These men were Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. Later on, this saying would be replaced in the 1950s by the words, “In God we trust.” I’m not sure where the Latin phrase for “E Pluribus Unum” originated. It really reminds me of the phrase of the French Four Musketeers. That phrase was “All for one, one for all.”

E pluribus unum simply means “out of many, there is one.” It means we stand together as a union, in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, through tragedy and through celebration. We recognize our unique qualities and diversity yet also lean on our human bond as together we pursue life, liberty, and happiness. This is not a revolutionary idea. It is a motto for all friendships and relationships and it’s loyalty is the fundamental cornerstone of our foundations in life and as a nation.

We need to bring back this motto.

The Pig Farmer Who Became Rich

I was born in 1978. In the early 80s, I remember being a little girl and going out to western Kansas to visit my uncle and his family on the farm. It was a small farm. I’m not sure what kind of farm it was. I think he might have been a pig farmer. A year or so later, we learned that my uncle had sold the farm. He had cashed in everything to start a business. He said it was a “water filtration business.” He called it the wave of the future.

I remember folks being a little doubtful about this new business idea. After all, it was the 1980s and everyone drank water out of the tap. We reasoned why would someone pay extra money for more expensive water when they could get it practically free out of the tap?

He started the business operation anyway. As the years went by, we would go to visit their family from time to time and I remember seeing his business offices and setup. He had these bizarre looking things he called “water coolers.” He would fill them with blue jugs of water he filtered. He sold them to area businesses for their employees to drink out of. I was a kid. I didn’t pay much more attention to the business other than that.

There were quite a few naysayers as the years progressed and people that thought his business would fail. He kept at it though, year after year, and the small business slowly grew. He added another side to the business of setting up water softeners in people’s homes too. I remember my mom and dad got one he installed. I remember the first shower I had with the softened water and realizing it made my hair so soft.

It was about 1990 when the first bottles of filtered water started showing up at the local convenient stores. I remember looking at them with my friends when I was a kid. We all said, “Nobody is going to buy that!” Why would you buy that when you can just drink out of the tap!”

Fast forward now to 2020 and practically everyone around the world drinks filtered water and the convenient stores are stocked high with filtered water bottles. And my uncle, the one that a lot of people doubted and said wouldn’t make it…….

Well, he’s the wealthiest man I know.

Morale of the story: If you got a vision or idea…don’t listen to the naysayers or doubters. Keep trying. Maybe you got an invention, or a business idea, or a piece of art, or music, or writing……maybe you got a film idea, etc. Keep trying.

Who knows…..your idea might change the world.

You might succeed or you might fall flat on your face and fail miserably. But, at least you were brave enough to dare. Brave enough to try. And there are a whole lot of people out there that cannot say they even tried. People who live with regrets.

Try. Just try.

Getting Through the Covid Positive Experience

I’ve been reading some online articles about the experiences of many people that have gone through the physical and emotional symptoms of testing positive for Covid. There is much written about how to avoid exposure. However, I could not find a lot of material written about enduring the experience itself of finding out you or a loved one or your whole family are affected by this disease. I wanted to help out any reader that is looking for some advice on how to deal with it. This is what our family did to get by. Maybe some of these suggestions will work for you. Maybe some won’t. Take what you want and leave anything that doesn’t apply behind.

My husband and I tested positive for Covid with rapid Covid tests about one day after the other. He was showing many symptoms and is older and diabetic. I, on the other hand, was mostly asymptomatic. I waited in my car outside the urgent care clinic after my swab and was surprised when the nurse called me in and said quietly, “Yes, you also are positive. It is a good thing you came in to test yourself, Mrs. Speer.”

Our kids were subsequently tested the next day and were both negative to our happy surprise. However, we were all going to be in quarantine together. We live in a long ranch home. So, the kids stayed on the south side of the ranch house in the bedroom areas and had their own bathroom. My husband and I chose not to sleep in our bed, due to the cough and the phlegm in our respiratory systems. So, we holed up in the living room and kitchen area on the other side of the house for most of the quarantine. The kids put together a makeshift kitchen in their area with plenty of microwaveable food and snacks and bottles of water. They had their video games and books and remote learning school activities set up in their rooms. They could also watch TV or Netflix. We bought them a few Play Station gift cards at the beginning, so they would be happier.

Ok, so here are some things we did that might help if you are in a similar circumstance:

  1. We opened the windows to the house to let in fresh air and circulate the air better. It was November and a little chilly but my husband and I found as we started to get winded from the disease that the fresh outdoor air helped us breathe a whole lot better.
  2. We kept a vaporizer going at all times in the living room to help us breathe better. I added some Clove essential oil to the water.
  3. We rubbed down our upper lips and chests with mentholateum.
  4. We drank lots of water throughout the day and for some reason, neither my husband nor I could stomach acidic drinks much like coffee or soda. We just stuck to water primarily.
  5. You might lose your sense of smell or some of your ability to taste food for a while. Don’t be alarmed. Just the illness running its course.
  6. We ordered groceries using a phone app and had them delivered to the bench outside the front door. It was pretty simple.
  7. We tried ordering via Door Dash some restaurant food but found that it upset our stomachs. I don’t know why. I wouldn’t really recommend it.
  8. We seemed to prefer more alkaline food.
  9. We ate pineapple too because it is supposed to help with respiratory infections.
  10. We slept on the couches at incline positions and NOT on the beds flat on our backs. I highly recommend doing this so you don’t get the phlegm in your lungs because that stuff is like glue and extremely hard to clear out of your system for some reason.
  11. We took Vitamin D3, Vitamin C, Baby Aspirin, and Zinc Tablets every morning along with the medicine the doctors prescribed.
  12. The whole family upped their personal hygiene levels taking showers every morning with lots of soap and washed our hair every day and brushed our teeth.
  13. My husband was dealing with fluctuating blood sugar levels for about a week. When his blood sugar got high, he would drink more water and restrict food intake. When it got low, we kept honey by his Lazy Boy chair to feed him if needed and we purchased glucose tablets. We bought a portable urinal as well because of the dizzy spells. That helped out immensely.
  14. Keep fans close by and cold towels and ice packs ready in case a family member has a bad fever. If the fever goes to 103 degrees, it is recommended to go to the hospital. A little bit of Tylenol also helps with the fever and headaches.
  15. Have a trusty thermometer at hand and for diabetes, the Freestyle Continuous Monitor is definitely helpful.
  16. Coordinate with your workplace and supervisors early on. Make sure they know what your quarantine dates are from the health department. Learn about the CARE Act and how to continue getting paid. Make sure your check is direct deposited.
  17. If you gotta make meals for other family members that are negative for Covid, purchase plastic gloves for meal preparation and wear a mask when cooking. Leave the food trays outside their area of the house. Always keep at least 6 feet distance from the others.
  18. You can communicate a lot with family via texting.
  19. Get some sunshine outside every day. It will make you feel better and calmer.
  20. Try not to worry too much. Just keep taking one day at a time. Rest and relax your body by watching TV or taking naps.
  21. Find positive things to lift your spirits. Find a happy book or funny show to watch. I got through four seasons of Schitt’s Creek on Netflix and it helped a whole lot.
  22. If you find yourself experiencing some sadness or feeling a little alone with this experience, hey……it is SO NORMAL! Don’t be hard on yourself or your family members. You will get through this. We had a lot of neighbors, family, relatives, etc. that sent prayers and asked how we were doing or sent care packages, etc. However, there were still moments when I felt scared about the future. It’s ok. It’s normal to feel that way. Just don’t dwell too much on the negative.

Ok, that’s probably enough advice. Hope some of these ideas will work for you. Just remember, to take it easy on yourself and your family and trust that good things will happen for your family. Keep the faith.

Lots of love,

Janea

The Little Things

If anything, the pandemic has taught you to enjoy the little things. The parks are closed. The theaters are closed. Amusement parks and various forms of entertainment either closed or very restricted. You can’t really travel much. It’s a pain to go to the grocery store now. You’d rather just stay home. Thank god for the internet, right? It is nice to still feel some human connection as you toodle away on your computer looking at endless hours of YouTube video tutorials or maybe watch Netflix movies…..or rather…. the previews to the movies.

Does anyone else do this? You decide to watch a Netflix movie but you can’t really decide for sure which one and you know Netflix films kinda have either a hit or miss ratio……so you scour over endless previews searching for just the right and perfect one. Then, after about fifteen to twenty minutes, you hopelessly give up and switch over to regular cable. You wonder if you are the only one who does this?

So, anyway, back on topic…..enjoy the little things lately. Things like buying a parakeet at the local pet store to keep you company and speculating over whether to call him Sugar Ray, Steve Miller, or your son decides on the name Paco which means in Spanish the word “free.” And, you think to yourself of the Lynrd Skynrd song “Freebird.” Yes, Paco it is. Paco it shall be. Welcome to the family, Paco.

You don’t go out much anymore. Besides, it would be smart to save your earnings…you never know what might happen coming up. The local high school football game gets cancelled cause you hear the other team has half their kids in quarantine for COVID. Then, there’s your co-worker and his wife from work. Their whole family is in lockdown quarantine for having COVID. You heard he had trouble breathing for three days and you worry about them.

And…..

You realize you’re damn lucky to still be here…….to spend your evenings listening to endless hours of Def Leppard or Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin on YouTube. You love to watch the animal videos too. Can’t get enough of the funny cute stuff on social media and the endless corny memes.

You’ve gotten used to the solitude on the weekends. You’re not only enjoying the solitude now….you are extremely grateful for just the opportunity to have it.

So, crack open your favorite drink….whatever it may be. Find some goofy pick a card tarot reading or perhaps a makeup tutorial on how to overline your lips so you too can look like them sexy models (at least at home….your 65 year old mother would still get upset with you if you posted a sexy selfie on social media. Some things never change even during a pandemic.)

Find something at home to make you smile, to make you laugh, to make you feel alive, to make you truly grateful for being here in this moment on this circling planet.

Damn you, COVID. Damn you for what you’ve done to so many heartbroken families. Damn you for your cruelty and brokenness.

But thank you too, COVID. Thank you for making us realize we need to hug and cherish our loved ones as much as possible in this brief time we have here. Thank you for making us finally appreciate all those little, little things.