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SNOW CAT

Dear Diary,
The kittens experienced snow for the first time.


They were apprehensive at first.


But with an "oh f%$^ it!" Savage dove in.


Maddie helped her kitten, Mouse, feel more at ease.


Savage was a little more playful in the fluff than his scaredy-cat siblings. He tasted some ...


... Climbed the retaining wall and dipped his chin in it ...


... While the rest of the herd was like, "what the f^%$ is wrong with you, dude?"


Hissy preferred to hide.

 
They were all too eager to come back inside.

Pinkie the Elephant - DeForest, WI

Dear Diary,
Driving I-94 from the Twin Cities through Madison and continuing on to Chicago takes 6 long hours. The drive is monotonous and tedious.

But then, rising above the pavement and farm fields, something surprising: Pinkie the Elephant.


Pinkie stood proud at this gas station since the late-1960s, when the owner sought a way to make his gas station stand out from his competition. It endures as a roadside attraction and a local landmark.

Her draw continues to be successful as well - it worked on us, choosing this slightly more expensive Shell gas station for this photo-op and fill-up!


This pink elephant, along with others, were produced by Sculptured Advertising in Sparta, WI.

Pinkie was first produced in 1963 and installed in front of the Pink Elephant Supper Club in Marquette, Iowa, and upon her move here, remains one of the last in the area. Only after Pinkie was installed at this gas station did she receive her cool, Buddy Holly-style glasses.

Other elephant statues can be found at car washes, antique malls and car dealerships in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Tennessee.


The gas station sells Pinkie merchandise (we were satisfied with pictures) and works to keep the statue clean. Unfortunately, she's a sometimes target for graffiti.


You never know what you'll find on the side of the road, but discovering new things is always worth it - like pink elephants!

Shell Gas Station
4995 County Road V
DeFortest, WI 53532-1966

I Downloaded a Ghost Detector App. This is What Happened ...

"Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back."

Dear Diary,
With all due respect to those in the profession, I certainly believe that not all paranormal researchers or "ghost hunters" are created equal. Those that do it well offer some very compelling evidence, explanations and empathy, and I like that it makes me think.

I mean, whether or not there is an afterlife is probably the world's greatest unsolved mystery. And if I'm being honest, the idea that this world is not all there is does make our mortality a little less frightening.

I tune in to a few such shows that seek evidence to confirm what comes next. I've stayed in haunted hotels, traveled to historic cities and experienced things I cannot explain. Lacking the funds to purchase equipment conduct my own research (most importantly however, I'm too inexperienced), I haven't done much to see for myself.

But in the spirit of Halloween, I downloaded an app that can "detect" the presence of ghosts. After all, when, if not on Halloween, can one follow her curiosity and download a ghost-hunting app to test out?!

Maybe its a slap in the face to the professionals (not my intent), maybe the app is not to be taking seriously (it is categorized as "entertainment," after all) or maybe - there's something to it.

I shared in a few past blog posts about the history I've been able to find about my property and the city we moved to.

While the house is merely 24 years old, the land it sits upon has been in existence for millenia.

So ... maybe?

I opened the app and started walking around my house.

I've found a "lost soul" in my guest bedroom, a vengeful spirit named "Sallie" in my laundry room and a nameless "vengeful spirit" on the kitchen counter - in an odd, isolated, dark corner.


In the app, you're able to type questions to it - similar to equipment I've seen professionals use on their TV shows.

Some of the answers seem relevant.



Others I assume are pre-loaded to answer to instill a little fear in the user.

(I asked what it wanted ... and well, I am a mother ...)

The question and answer on the counter made my pulse quicken, but then the "Mommy" answer made me raise an eyebrow. There was nothing to accommodate what the app presented - no cold spots, no unexplained footsteps, no disembodied voices. Honestly, it didn't come near the chill I experienced that morning in the Pfister hotel.

Still, it's enough for me to question how much I don't know about life.

How much have I not yet seen? Or heard? Or felt and tasted? What can this subject teach me about living my life to its fullest in case, this is all there is?

Maybe I'll have to ask the ghosts ...

Book Review: Bellevue

Note: This post contains an Amazon Affiliate link. If you use my link to purchase this book, or make any other purchase through it, I may receive a small commission which I will use to buy more books.

Dear Diary,
I work in public health, specifically in administration, and after 5 years I find myself fascinated by the chronology and history of modern medicine.

There have been things I've seen, overheard and personally experienced that have shaped a perspective I don't think I would otherwise have. It's true and unfortunate, that it takes an exposure to the "other" sides of things - both the unplanned and the unexpected, often painful - to become enlightened.

And regarding the topic of public health, America can do more. We can do better.

It was then I found the title, "Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America's Most Storied Hospital" by David Oshinsky. I read Alexandra's review of the book after she finished it, but what struck me most was this quote on the book's back cover:

"Bellevue is rich in anecdote, history, personality and narrative. It is an indictment of a society's failure, almost three hundred years on, to extend medical benefits to all, despite the efforts of this extraordinary hospital." (Nature)

Such truth resonated that I dove into it headfirst.


Upon coming up for air at last it seemed, as I finished the final sentence, my immediate reaction was, where did we go wrong?

What the f&%* has happened?

To call this book an indictment against the current state of our country's healthcare system is spot on, and is certainly not what I want my children to inherit when they age-off my employer's health benefits.

Though I don't hold a position of influence to effect any immediate change, I do believe this book enhanced my perception, my belief and what I envision for the improvement of this country.

Read it. This book is as fascinating as it is infuriating, and with the upcoming elections, I couldn't have finished it at a more proper time.

The Haunted Pfister Hotel - Milwaukee, WI

Dear Diary,
The Pfister Hotel is a historic landmark, a Milwaukee icon, and it was built in the Romanesque Revival style and opened in 1893.

(The Pfister's grand lobby ...)

It's beautiful. In fact, I struggle to associate a proper adjective that captures the hotel's grandeur and luxury. It is simply something that must be experienced in order for it to be accurately conveyed and understood. It's for this reason that the Pfister has hosted Presidents and celebrities.

It's also incredibly haunted.

CONSIDERED MLB'S HAUNTED HOTEL

Charles Pfister who, alongside his father, Guido; owned the hotel, was a big baseball fan and supporter of the local team. When he passed away, rumors began to circulate that he would haunt the visiting team's players with the hope that it'd give the home team a bit of an advantage.

Today, as professional baseball and basketball players stay at the Pfister when they're in town for games, recent reports may point to that rumor being true.

Rangers player Adrian Beltre said he heard knocking in the hallway and on his door when there was no one around, and there was pounding on his headboard.

Rays player Carlos Gomez said as he got out of the shower to get ready for bed, he saw an iPod on his dresser start to vibrate wildly, causing it to shimmy across the furniture. Still dressed in just his towel, he raced downstairs to the front desk stating, "get me outta here."

(I wonder how many guests ran out on this carpeting due to their fears.)

HISTORICAL TIMELINE

The hotel cost $1 million to construct and houses the largest collection of Victorian art in the world. At the time, however, it was completely state-of-the-art, boasting fireproofing, electricity throughout and individual thermostat controls in every room.

In 1962, movie theater mogul Ben Marcus purchased the aging hotel and renovated it to its former glory. A 23-story guest room tower was added to the structure as part of the Marcus investment.

And for over 125 years, the Pfister has served its community and beyond.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

Yes, I have one.

I had booked a small suite in the barely-touched, historical section of the hotel. For my money and when I have the choice, I always opt for the historical experience. I admired the craftsmanship and attention to detail, and was delighted in the fact that this renovated hotel still celebrated its history.

One morning, I was drinking coffee in the suite's sitting area. I was the only one awake, and I was surrounded by silence.

Suddenly I was startled by a knock on the door. Before I could get up to answer it, I watched the door knob turn clockwise, then counter clockwise, and then snap back in place.

The stillness and silence that followed that moment chilled me to the bone. There was no one around. And I have no explanation as to how that could have happened. To this day, I am convinced the Pfister Hotel lodges both the living and the dead.

Stay, if you dare:
424 E. Wisconsin Ave.
Milwaukee
Web site

Related Post: An Evening at (Eric) Church

Farmington Middle Creek Historic Cemetery: Revisited

Dear Diary,
A lot has changed since my last visit to the Farmington Middle Creek Historic Cemetery.

The fallen leaves and thick foliage cast eerie shadows on the slippery path.



The cemetery entrance at the summit of the hill was haunting.


But the most important change, was the fallen headstone I photographed previously was returned to its rightful place. It remains the only headstone with legible names.


The one constant that holds true of this site - information is hard to come by.

What I do know is this: originally called the Farmington Presbyterian Cemetery, the site was devoted as a final resting place in 1868. It was in use until the early 20th century, when for reasons unknown, it was abandoned and fell into neglect.

A grave robber is purported to have disturbed at least one grave in 1980.

It was largely undocumented about until a developer proposed building a subdivision at the site in 2001. As a condition of approval, the developer had to survey and stake the boundaries, and fence it in.

Then in 2003, its name was changed to Middle Creek Historic.


A stone sticks out from the leaves. I can't be certain if there are inscriptions on it, as the age, weather, and moss have rendered it illegible.

For whatever reason, this cemetery was not used after 1906.


By accident, I discovered a geocache hidden here.


In a way, thanks to the curious like me and those who geocache, this final resting place receives plenty of visitors. It is my hope that respect is paid, and it is my hope that the souls at rest remain at peace knowing they are not forgotten.


Related Post: Farmington Middle Creek Historic Cemetery

The Haunted Flamingo Hotel - Las Vegas, NV

Dear Diary,
On December 26, 1946, Bugsy Siegel opened the Flamingo Hotel.
 
 
Unfortunately, the opening night was a flop. Bad weather kept many Hollywood celebrities from the event, and because the gamblers didn't have rooms, they took their winnings and gambled elsewhere.
 
Bugsy's mug shot (source)
 
The casino lost $300,000 in its opening week, after investors fronted $1 million on the site that was already under construction by Billy Wilkerson. As you can imagine, Bugsy's mob affiliations were not too keen on how he managed the property, and he was murdered in his Beverly Hills Mansion in 1947.
 
The crime remains unsolved to this day.
 
(Taken during my visit in 2017.)
PRESENT DAY 
 
As you can imagine, The Flamingo underwent numerous management changes in its long-standing history. They've also tried to distance themselves from any association to Bugsy.
 
Instead, the hotel celebrates the distinction of being the third hotel opened on the strip, and the oldest in operation today.
 
My husband and I stayed there when we traveled to Las Vegas in 2017. The fact that my grandparents stayed there decades ago was enough of a connection and history to satisfy me, but then, I learned of the hotel's supernatural side.
 
(The flamingoes that live in the garden's wildlife habitat.) 

THE GHOST STORY

Nicknamed "Bugsy's Last Haunt," there are numerous reports of his ghost wandering the property.

He lingers perhaps, because The Flamingo brought upon his death. Or, because he never saw the success it has today.

Whatever the reason, Bugsy's ghost is most often seen in the hotel's garden near a memorial to the mobster. Despite the casino's initial endeavor to disassociate itself, there was just no escaping the connection. Now it's true that the ghost may not be Bugsy, but if that were true, the spector sure likes to be in the presence of the memorial.

Even now in the afterlife, it seems Bugsy isn't at rest and he is stuck between two worlds. For whatever reason, his spirit chose to remain at The Flamingo.


When I was in Las Vegas, I ventured into the garden with the sole intent of seeing the flamingoes. I didn't see anything out of the oridinary (even by Vegas standards) and I did not feel anything weird.

Still, the stories beg the question - when Bugsy was murdered, the Flamingo was his unfinished business. Perhaps his ghost is seeing through what his living self could not ... the success of the oldest hotel currently in operation on the Las Vegas strip?

See for yourself:
3555 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas
Web site

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