Black Magic Woman...and Musings

Okay, first I was a week I'm a day late!

This topic came up last weekend, but I decided to save it for Halloween. However, as readers of my other Web site (CAT Tracks) are aware, a "close encounter of the worst kind" distracted me. However, I am now back to important stuff!

As for "Black Magic Woman", I'll let the e-mails sent at that time speak for themselves...

From: Ron Newell
Date: 10/25/08 10:14:52
To: De De O'Shea (H); Ruth Bailey (H)
Subject: Black Magic Woman

Julie just won't leave me alone!

Decided to give up the "signs" for a while after yesterday's double posting...decided to go downstairs and start tearing out the carpet and linoleum so that ******* can lay some tile.'s damned quiet down here, how 'bout some music, Maestro!

They are doing a "Halloween Special" on 104.7...the oldie station that Julie has begun "channeling".

No, it wasn't the first song...maybe the 20th song. Actually, I "felt" it coming...

Don't remember what song was playing, but "Black Magic Woman" crossed my mind...yeah, THAT was certainly true. Sure enough...couple of songs later...the same!

I'm just going to keep that one between least for now. I'm tired of typing...

Back to the basement!

Y'all have a GREAT weekend!


From: Ron Newell
Date: 10/25/08 10:21:51
To: De De O'Shea (H); Ruth Bailey (H)
Subject: Postscript...

Forgot the "hook" to the Black Magic Woman song...

After it played, the DJ pointed out that it was a hit in 1971!

She sure was...let the courting begin!


PS: Hell, I may have to stop and do a post after all!!!

As for "Musings"...

Dinner and a movie?

Well, I did have plans last night for maybe popcorn and a movie...been wanting to see "W." since I saw the ad on TV about a month ago. Had scoped out a location and a starting was playing at the Cape Plaza at 3:40 p.m.

Had an ulterior motive...get out of town...avoid "Trick or Treat"...always my least favorite "holiday" of the year.

Well, the aforementioned encounter of CATs and the Cairo Superintendent of Schools threw off the timing. Instead of being in the theater as planned, I was at Cairo Jr/Sr High School listening to offended teachers...telling me that they were ready to take up picket signs!!!

Talk about the horrors of Halloween...

After listening to, commiserating with, and trying to calm disgruntled teachers, I returned home briefly to add a couple of "PS's" to my earlier "hot off the presses" CAT Tracks (or wannabe "Enquirer" in the opinion of the Superintendent). Finally, about 15 minutes before the "bewitching hour" of 5 o'clock...the beginning of Trick or Treat, I got into the car and headed out of Cairo.

I had the (mistaken) notion that the next showing of "W." was at 6:15 p.m. and timed my arrival accordingly. BUST! Parked the car, walked into the lobby to buy my ticket, looked at the board of show times...6:40 p.m. DANG...a 45 minute wait!

Decided to go back out...I mean, I'd eat up all my popcorn before the movie even began if I proceeded as planned. As I walked toward the car, I "did the math"...a two hour plus movie, starting at 6:40 p.m. It would be almost 9:00 p.m. before it was over! Then, even at 120 miles per hour, it would be a 15 minute drive home...too late to catch my nightly anti-McCain-Palin news show...MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and "Countdown". Next showing 1 a.m.; waaaay past my bedtime!!!

So, a political decision was "W."

But, still too early to think about going be accosted by witches and goblins. Had my fill of ghoul for one day with stories of the Cairo Superintendent!

What to do???

When in doubt, head for a bookstore! Hastings was right down the street, so I spent a bit of time no avail. Finally decided to visit THE bookstore...Barnes and Noble.

Looked at the new arrivals, but didn't see anything that struck my fancy. Actually, I've been "off my read" hold of a "bad book" that seems to have spoiled my appetite. Also, I've got two books on order that are supposed to ship on November 4th...allowing me to celebrate or "cry in my books" following the election!

I was about to leave the store, when I gravitated toward the "Inspirational" and "New Age" section. This has happened a couple of times in the (which I related in a previous post) ended up with me buying a "butterfly" book - i.e. my eye being captured by a butterfly on the cover.

Well, déjà vu, all over again...

Okay...I'm a sucker...I bought it!

Hey, I don't really believe in this stuff! However, since my "cemetery experience", let's just say that I have an "open mind". You will be relieved to know that I "passed" on John Edward and that lady psychic that appears frequently on television. Let's just say that they have failed to "contact" me...or my favorite spirit!

So, I'll give Janis Amatuzio, MD (the forensic pathologist) a try...see what she has to say about "Life & Death".

If the book "speaks to me", I'll be sure and let you know...

Now...I don't know if it's because of "the season" (of all saints and all souls), or whether Julie is already providing positive feedback on my book choice, but when I opened my New York Times e-mail this morning, one of those "coincidences" struck me.

It took the form of an Op-Ed piece...

November 1, 2008
Op-Ed Contributor

A Date With the Departed

Milford, Mich.

THE pumpkins, penny candy and neighborly hordes of goblins and ghosts shouting “Trick or treat!” remind us of the ancients and their belief that the souls of the dead must be appeased. But it’s the days that follow Halloween that most interest me.

All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are time set aside to broker peace between the living and the dead. Whether you are pagan or religious, Celt or Christian, New Age believer or doubter-at-large, these are the days when you traditionally acknowledge that the gone are not forgotten. The seasonal metaphors of reaping and rotting, harvest and darkness, leaf-fall and killing frost supply us with plentiful memento mori. Whatever is or isn’t there when we die, death both frightens and excites us.

Thus, throughout most of the Western world, graves are decorated on these first days of November with candles and fresh flowers. Picnics are held among the old stones and markers, relatives gather round family plots to give the dead their due of prayers and remembrances.

We humans are bound to and identified with the earth, the dirt, the humus out of which our histories and architectures rise — our monuments and memorials, cairns and catacombs, our shelters and cityscapes. This “ground sense,” to borrow William Carlos Williams’s idiom, is at the core of our humanity. And each stone on which we carve our names and dates is an effort to make a human statement about death, memory and belief. Our kind was here. They lived; they died; they made their difference. For the ancient and the modern, the grave is an essential station.

But less so, lately, especially here in the United States, where we whistle past our graveyards and keep our dead at greater distance, consigned to oblivions we seldom visit, estranged and denatured, tidy and Disney-fied memorial parks with names like those of golf courses or megachurches.

In her honors seminar, “Death in American Culture,” at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, N.C., June Hobbs takes her students on a field trip to Sunset Cemetery in nearby Shelby. She believes that cemeteries have much to tell us about ourselves. For most of her students, it is their first visit to a cemetery.

“I find this astonishing,” says Professor Hobbs. “This county had more casualties during the Civil War than any other. The dead were everywhere, the churchyards filled up, Sunday afternoons were spent visiting graves. The dead were very much a part of the community, kept alive in everyday conversations.” Now they’ve been downsized or disappeared.

She speaks to a culture that quietly turned the family “parlor” into a “living room,” the “burial policy” into “life insurance” and the funeral into a “celebration of life,” often notable for the absence of a corpse, and the subtle enforcement of an emotional code that approves the good laugh but not the good cry. Convenience and economy have replaced ethnic and religious customs.

The dead get buried but we seldom see a grave. Or they are burned, but few folks ever see the fire. Photographs of coffins returned from wars are forbidden, and news coverage of soldiers’ burials is discouraged. Where sex was once private and funerals were public, now sex is everywhere and the dead go to their graves often as not without witness or ritual.

Still, there remains something deeply human in the way we process mortality by processing mortals in the journey between life as we know it and life as we imagine it, in whatever space the dead inhabit. Wherever the dead go or don’t, it is the duty of the living to get them to the edge of that oblivion.

Since the first cave-dwelling Neanderthal awakened next to a dead kinsman and knew something would have to be done about it, we humans have looked into the tomb or grave or fire and asked ourselves the signature questions of our species: Is that all there is? Can it happen to me? What comes next? Only the dead know the answers. And the living are well and truly haunted by them.

Perhaps Professor Hobbs is right. The dead have something to teach us still. A visit to your local cemetery, here in the month of all saints and souls, is a course in humanity. There are inklings to answers among the stones.

Thomas Lynch, a funeral director and lecturer at the University of Michigan, is the author of the memoir “Booking Passage.”

Hey, I didn't go looking for it. It's the news e-mail that I receive every day...providing some of my stories for CAT Tracks.

And, I'm not through yet...

Things usually happen in threes, right?

Started going through my other standard news sources and was confronted by the following...

Brushes with the afterlife: Woman who was shot reconsiders stories about near-death experiences

Saturday, November 1, 2008
By Bridget DiCosmo
Southeast Missourian

From the Bible to popular culture, people have recounted experiences outside the realm of the everyday when having a brush with death.

Sometimes the experiences come in the form of beings they describe as angels, and sometimes they involve interactions with loved ones who have already passed on.

Still others describe stepping outside of their own body while watching their family members say goodbye as doctors struggle to save their lives.

After nearly 11 years in the medical profession, Kristina Bosco remembers many occasions where she's had patients talk of connecting with deceased loved ones, sometimes hours before they themselves died.

While always sympathetic and professional, Bosco is not sure if she ever gave the impression she believed their accounts.

Now she thinks she knows what they may have been feeling.

Suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, Bosco doesn't remember the ambulance trip from her Cape Girardeau County residence to Saint Francis Medical Center, though she found out later she was conscious and speaking to paramedics.

The first clear memory she has after being shot Sept. 8 came when she heard the words, "that vessel's not supposed to be there," Bosco said.

At the time, she was undergoing the brain surgery that saved her life.

When Bosco looked around, she realized she stood next to her grandfather, who she'd been with when he died four years earlier.

He told her "I'm not supposed to be here either, but I'm going to be," she said.

Taking stock of her surroundings, Bosco became aware they stood on a small crest of a hill, curving slightly as though a child had drawn it, and the sun was coming up over a field.

Her grandfather wore the same clothing she'd seen him wear every day for as long as she can remember, and she had on a blue sundress.

"I'm not sure where that came from because I don't wear dresses unless I have to," Bosco said.

When she woke up Sept. 11, she told her mother, Kathy Newell, about the experience. When she met Dr. Joel Ray, the neurosurgeon who'd performed the operation, she knew whose voice she'd heard at the start of the vision.

She recognized Ray's voice instantly and told him what she remembered hearing and seeing during the time doctors were saving her life.

Ray recorded everything Bosco told him to preserve her memory of the details. Though her memory of some of the events before and after seeing her grandfather have become fuzzy, Ray said Bosco's account of the vision has not wavered even slightly.

"It's like it happened yesterday — clear as a bell," Bosco said.

Bosco underwent three surgeries Sept. 8, one to treat injuries caused by an entry wound at the front of her head, one to relieve the pressure on her brain and one to remove bullet fragments from the back of her head.

A hernia, or protrusion of tissue, would have moved the vessels in her head, Ray said, explaining his choice of words during the surgery.

Bosco's father, when he came to visit, brought her a handful of pictures of her new home in Arkansas. Included in the stack was one from Bosco's childhood, the only family picture he'd chosen to bring. It was taken at a park in Nevada that mirrored the field she'd seen in her dream.

She hadn't even been 3 years old at the time.

"It blew me away. I hadn't seen it before," she said.

Now she finds herself intrigued by what happened to her and avidly read a book Ray provided her on the subject, "Closer to the Light," by Dr. Melvin Morse of Seattle, a pediatrician and researcher of near-death experiences.

Dr. Brian Anderson, the senior pastor at CrossRoads Fellowship in Jackson, has had people confide in him about experiences with the afterlife and with angels. He believes they have been credible.

"I certainly believe in angels, and I think if God chooses to send one to talk to them, they will see an angel," Anderson said.

He recalled one conversation he'd had with a woman while they waited in the emergency room after her nephew had been in a serious car wreck. She told him she wasn't afraid of death, and she shared her own brush with mortality, when she'd been brought back after her heart had stopped beating.

"I think it's something that, unless you've actually experienced it, you can't really know," Anderson said.

Two years ago, Ray had another patient, Viola Surface, who suffered a broken vertebra in her neck. She underwent a life-saving treatment during which she had an out-of-body experience.

The 80-year-old woman described a blue light bathing her body and said she saw a tiny version of herself on the emergency room treatment table.

Ray recorded Surface's description shortly after she regained consciousness to preserve the details of her experience.

In his book, which involved hundreds of in-depth interviews, Morse wrote that near-death experiences are natural and normal parts of death and dying.

"They are not obscure psychic phenomena to be lumped together with UFO sightings and Bigfoot," Morse wrote.

Okay, I'm sitting here with a chill literally running up and down my spine...

As I was formatting the last article, my mind strayed...and I don't even know why. There is NO connection.

For some reason (and it wasn't the "chill" in the house because it's 72 degrees) mind turned to my furnace. My furnace is "sick"...the blower won't turn off. I had to take the front off the furnace to get it to stop.

The reason I say "for some reason"...again, it's NOT chilly in the house AND the furnace "died" during the past week. The repairman was contacted and is scheduled to be here on Monday morning. It's suppose to be in the 70s for the next few days...

So, why thoughts of the furnace???

As I started thinking about the furnace, I began wondering...what day was it that it went out? I stopped formatting and looked it up on my calendar...WEDNESDAY!

Now, Wednesday doesn't mean anything to you...because I didn't do any posts on Wednesday. Oh, I was wanting to...hoping to...but it didn't happen. BUT...I was too busy LOOKING FOR SIGNS.

You see, last Wednesday was the "final anniversary". (People had cautioned me of the first Thanksgiving without Julie, the first wedding anniversary without Julie, the first birthday without Julie, etc. Then, of course, there was the first anniversary of Julie's passing...Julie's funeral service.

The one "first anniversary" that I didn't "advertise" was one that was very personal to me. Last week, I eagerly awaited see what would see if I would be honored with "a visit".

If you haven't caught on, last Wednesday...

It was one year ago last Wednesday that I had my "cemetery experience". (Yeah, I mentioned THAT above, but at the time I typed made no connection whatsoever with what I'm about to relate below. It was strictly the "book connection". Okay, I guess the subconscious can work at its own deliberative speed, but...)

A sure sign of a desperate man, I made sure that I visited Julie's grave site at the exact same time. Yeah, I looked for butterflies and birds. Saw some butterflies, but they didn't do any "tricks"...didn't spell out "You Are Not Alone" in the grass or in the air. Saw a solitary bird gliding in the distance, but, "signs". And, when I trudged back to the car...I don't remember what song was playing, but it didn't "speak to me". Oh, well, as I've said so often..."signs happen".

When, oh, when am I going to remember NOT to try to force the "signs"!!!

Came home, laid down on the couch and read a book. At some point, I dozed off...only to be awakened by the persistant ringing of the door bell.

Yep, it just so happens that I have a witness to my (missed) "sign". No, it wasn't a Jehovah's Witness, although that would have been appropriate with Julie's religious upbringing! No, the witness was even MORE appropriate...and he doesn't even know about it...until he reads this posting.

And, actually, what makes it even more appropriate is that HE was witness to an earlier posted "sign"...the "RAIN" sign.

Yes, it was one of the ministers who officiated at Julie's funeral...James Gibson. James was one of Julie's last major "causes" in life...urging him to fight a wrong done unto him by Cairo School District Number One...a fight that continues to this day.

James dropped by because he just happened to be "in the neighborhood"...having subbed that day in a near-by school district.

Anyway...while James and I were sitting, talking, I noticed a cool breeze kept blowing. I tried to ignore it, but it was persistent. The source was obvious...the breeze was coming from the furnace grate on the floor. Since I usually don't sit where I was sitting at the time, I thought that maybe it was "normal". I kept watching the plant in front of the grate...the leaves moving...waiting for it to stop, to indicate that the furnace had finally turned off.

It never did...

Finally, I remarked to James that something seemed to be wrong. James indicated that he had felt the cool breeze also. I went to the thermostat and turned it to off...thinking that should stop things until such time that James left and I could investigate. Well, THAT didn't work. Finally, I excused myself, went downstairs and took the front off of the furnace...finally silencing the fan.

I then went upstairs and finished visiting with James. Neither of us thought anymore about it. After James left, I went down and confirmed that I had furnace problems and made mental note to seek service.

Never thought anymore about it until just a few minutes I have indicated above.

Was I looking too hard - AGAIN - for a "sign"...missing the obvious???

Did Julie play a trick on "Ronnie"...again showing her vesatility...NOT one to be limited to prescribed delivery system???

I've told you in the past about Julie's "electrical powers"...all the way back to our first "charged" kiss, through the automatic doors at the hospital, the new car, the handheld slot machine, the REAL slot machines, and (I think) the malfunctioning TV.

Could Julie have decided to "take out" the furnace on the occasion of the "anniversary" of her original "sign" her "former client" James Gibson just happened to be sitting in HER living room, paying a rare visit...unknowingly becoming witness to yet another "sign"?

I'll let you mull over this doo dee doo dee doo dee doo dee moment...I'll let YOU wonder! I don't need to...

I've got a new book to read!!!