Birthday Party Bonfires & Ghostly Faces

Elizabeth Harper Ghostly Face in Bonfire Smoke

I’ve been in the UK long enough to have attended a bonfire or two especially since they occur routinely on the 5th of November every year, but last night was actually my very first one. John and I went to a 50th birthday party for a friend in the village and in addition to fireworks, there was a huge bonfire. While I expected to see a roaring big fire, I did not expect to see the faces that you see in two of the images I took.

Elizabeth Harper 2x Ghostly Face in Bonfire Smoke

An interesting observation is that these two photographs are separated by six photos in-between, none of which have anything resembling a face, making it seem to be a look that came, went, and re-emerged from the smoke.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen something unusual in a photograph and I’m sure there must be an explanation, I’m just not sure what it is.

What about you, have you ever had a ghostly image show up in your photographs? 

Selling A Dream – Where Are They Now?

Elizabeth Harper 1979

Elizabeth Harper – Woolco Department Store -1979

In 1979, I worked briefly in Woolco department store which was owned by a name you may more easily recognize as Woolworth’s. While my job title was ‘Camera Department Manager’ the only thing I had to manage beyond inventory and sales was the boredom I felt on the job everyday. (See goofing off image above)

Woolco was well into its decline when I landed there as most of its potential customers had moved on to the new malls that offered more excitement than our discounted merchandise and a long-term lay-away plans.

While I did my job well enough to receive an employment offer from a local station (religious broadcasting, as I remember it) for finding some dated equipment that they had not been able locate anywhere else, the biggest deal I closed was with two young men about my age who were passing by the camera counter during a slow day in March of 1979.

After realizing pretty quickly that they were not interested in camera gear, I remember talking about the future and what I wanted to do with my life. At that point, I was secretly considering joining the military. Having graduated early from high school and spent six months studying commercial photography by the time I’d turned 18, I was back at home with my parents while working and trying to decide what to do next.

I probably told them that I had three immediate goals which were,  to see more of the world, save money for school (University) and become independent. I can’t remember what they said or how I convinced them that three years in the army might give them opportunities they could not get by staying where they were, but by the end of our across the glass counter chat, I had talked two strangers into a life changing decision.

A few days later, they met me at the recruitment office and before anyone could say, ‘ I’ve changed my mind,’ we were all in the employ of  our Uncle Sam. I came in at a higher pay grade having earned one stripe for bringing two qualified candidates in with me which fit the requirements for the Buddy program in place at the time.

All this occurred 34 years ago this month and I can’t help but wonder how things turned out for the daring young men who joined the army after talking with me. I guess I was doing a bit of life coaching before it was trendy.

One of the things I like about Facebook and the internet is the ability to see what folks you haven’t heard from in years have done with themselves. I enjoy seeing who they’ve become, what dreams came true, and what new ones are in front of them. I wish I could remember the names of the two young men who enlisted with me so I could see if the leap they took on an afternoon in March was one that helped them live a bigger life than they had imagined possible in 1979.

I know it sounds crazy, but I thought with the internet being what is today and the way we can share information, if you could pass this along to your social network, then perhaps someone who has heard a similar story from a man, describing how a young woman with a dream talked him into a bold adventure at a camera counter on an afternoon in March … maybe I might find out how things turned out for them.

Thank you.

Accidental Meetings – A Place Where Past And Present Intersect

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Most of my friends and family know of my fascination with photographing old churchyards and cemeteries. I can get lost in a one for hours if left alone and I was delighted when I first came to Cornwall to find John living in a village with a lovely church only a short walk from home.

Since marrying him and moving to the UK, I’ve spent a lot of time in the churchyard especially when I felt a need for a quiet moment, not that it’s very busy or noisy in our village of 500. It’s a peaceful spot to watch the birds fly in and out of the church tower or to photograph the seasons as they change and I used to stop there for a rest at the end of a run. Even though my runs have become more of run/walk in the last few years, I still like to have a look around when I’m passing by.

I am always interested in photographing the gravestones, especially the old ones, and I notice when I spot an unusual name. The gravestone below first caught my eye because it is next to one (not in the picture) that has Elizabeth on it. I know it may sound strange, but I always look for headstones with John and Elizabeth lying next to each other. Click here to see a post about a churchyard over looking the sea where I posted some gorgeous photos and wrote more about how we always seem to find our names together.

Like any small community, you can discover a lot about its history through the names on the gravestones. Unusual names like, Axworthy tend to make me head for my computer pretty quickly to see what I can learn, but I have to admit that until I met a member of the Axworthy family last Sunday, I had not followed up on the research.

The Return 2009

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day in the UK and I had the pleasure of meeting a woman who was born in the cottage which use to house the old post office for our village. She moved away when she was seven, but still comes back a few times a year to have a bit of lunch and a look around the village. I recognized her maiden name right away when she told me because Axworthy is one of the more interesting names in the churchyard. She was in the pub with her son and daughter-in-law who told me she still lived in a village nearby.

Gwendoline Axworthy

Gwendoline Axworthy

After she told me her name and where she had been born, her son mentioned that there was a photo on the wall in another  room of the pub that had some of their relatives in it. I went around ‘borrowed’ it and after talking about the men in the photograph, I asked her permission to take a picture of her holding a copy of the photo of her great-grandfather, Austin Axworthy and great-uncle, Edgar Axworthy.

Cornwall 2013

They are sitting in front of the cottage/post office where she was born in 1926. While I don’t think there are Axworthy’s in our village anymore, there are certainly Pengelly’s living here. Tom Pengelly was the postman according the family.

I was pleased to meet such a delightful woman with a history and link to this place that has become my home and I was happy that she and her family gave me permission to use the photo and share our meeting online.

The stone cottage she was born in has changed a lot over the years. You can just see the edge of it where the women are standing in the doorway in the photo above.

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In this old black and white photograph provided by Shirley Runnells, the cottage that housed the old post office is on the right side with the phone box near the doorway. With a family living upstairs, I can’t imagine there was much privacy when trying to use the phone. The two cottages attached to it were later joined to form one.

Cornwall 2013

I took this photo taken last week and while you can’t see it, there is a window behind the blue car that used to be the doorway to the middle cottage. I am not sure when the two became one, but the old post office was housed in the white cottage until 1999.

Cornwall 2013

The stone cottage across from it is the ‘Old Smithy.’ I am not sure why we still call it that when we don’t have another blacksmith in the village.

When I researched the Axworthy name, I confirmed that it was Saxon in origin, something John had already told me, and the earliest recording of it in writing was during the reign of Henry VIII when Harry Axworthy was christened in 1542 in Lezant, Cornwall.

It might be easy for some to take the history of a place for granted, but in a country where you don’t have to go far to see something like the Celtic cross which marks the intersection of two lanes on the left in this photo, it’s difficult not to occasionally imagine the ghosts of those who lived here before me.

Talking with the great-granddaughter and great-great-grandson of the man in the photograph may have answered a few questions, but the real gift was more of a day-dreamy one as I imagined the lady before me as a baby and young girl learning to walk the same paths I’ve come to love in the village where we live.

Have you ever had an accidental meeting of a similar sort? 

The Not So Lost Original 82 Posts … Of Gifts Of The Journey

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Unearthing An Archive

If you’ve been paying attention to my blog over the last few days you may have received an update or two you that found confusing. As long-time readers know, GOTJ had another home before moving to this one.

Stalker Forces Change

I was forced to change my website in early 2009 because I couldn’t moderate comments on iWeb and I had begun to accumulate ugly comments from a woman who had stalked and harassed me for months before finding my blog and making her vitriolic comments public. It’s an old story that I thought had died after not hearing from Maggie Namjou or  Margreta (Maggie) Kerr for several years.

Emails From Others

I have received emails from other people asking about her during this quiet time, people like Louise and Ian who contacted me last week with questions about what John and I went through while Maggie was harassing us.

Having saved hundreds of emails she sent us and recordings of the screaming rants in our phone messages on our wedding day, we told Ian and Louise that we would be happy to help with evidence as they deal with a lawsuit involving Maggie Namjou.

I don’t need to rehash the past, but if you don’t know the ugly story and want to know more, you can read about it by clicking on the links. http://stalkerupdate.wordpress.com/ and  http://giftsofthejourney.com/stalker-alert/

After Louise contacted me about the missing links to the old posts dealing with Maggie Namjou, I decided while I was dusting off the past for her, I would repost the original 82 posts ensuring all writing associated with GOTJ could be found in one place.

History Repeats Itself 

So if some of what you see over the next few days or weeks looks familiar, check the date to see if it’s one of the missing 82.

I’ve been able to transfer the comments associated with each post, but the links back to the blog sites of those commenting seems to be lost. Please feel free to leave another comment if you’d like and thanks so much for your interest.

New Posts

One last thing, I plan to add new material during this time so don’t stay away thinking it’s the season of reruns … you won’t even see the 82 unless you’ve signed up for an email notification found in the top right corner or you go looking for them in the archives. I found my footing with these early posts. I hope you’ll find something in them too.

Hazards Of Being A Curious Explorer

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

It would be a mistake to imagine you might be able to veiw Cornwall properly from the window of a passing car. If traveling near our home, you’d see the wide open spaces of course and the immediate beauty of Bodmin Moor, but the tucked away places require a bit more effort to reach … and maybe a pair wellies if you want to keep your feet dry.

Last Saturday, John and I set out on a path we’d been on a few times before. We parked on a patch of moorland grass, slipped on our wellies and started walking towards King Arthur’s Hall.

Bodmin Moor, King Arthur's Hall, Brown Willy, Rough Tor

King Arthur’s Hall with Brown Willy and Rough Tor in the distance.

It had been a while since we had walked to the unusual rectangular shaped area on the moor  that is surrounded by 56 stones like the one in the photo above. There are a lot of suggestions as to its age and original use, but like the Arthurian legend, no one can say for sure. You can read more about the monument here. (Do have a look at the links as the details are interesting)

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

You never know what kind of livestock you may come upon or how they will behave. Cows are always interested in you until you get close enough for them to see that you are not bringing anything for them to eat. These were part of a larger group that alternated between following us and running away. What looks like a pile of rocks behind them is Rough Tor. You can see me standing on top of it in my header at the top of this post.

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

Remember when I mentioned that you would miss a great deal if you only saw Cornwall by car … this stream of water is the first sign of the unexpected for those thinking moorland is just an open grassy space. Crossing over this footbridge takes you into what I think of as, ‘The Dark Wood.’ There are gorgeous bits of light that break through the tightly planted rows of trees at times, but not on this day.Bodmin Moor, Winter Trees

I shot this after walking through the narrow swath of trees. It was so green that I modified the color a bit making it look a bit more wintry than it actually did on Saturday.

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

There are loads of circular stones once you are through the woods and they line the hillside reminding you that neolithic communities and medieval villages once stood here. The wind is always blowing when we’ve walked through here and I can’t imagine how the people who lived in these stone and likely wooden structures (I think) ever felt truly warm.

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

Rounding the hill and in the distance sits an old stone cottage that appears as if it has changed little over the years. The windows are not original, but with no electricity, or running water, it is still very primitive. I think the single pane of glass in the windows looks as if there is no glass there at all adding to the abandoned feeling that makes one want to hurry past … unless your name is John Winchurch.

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

You wouldn’t think it to look at him, but John likes to make his own set of rules sometimes and while he gives off this easy-going vibe and is certainly a gentle soul, he is not often deterred when I say, ‘ I’m not sure we’re allowed to do that ‘ as was the case on this day. While much of the moor is accessible to walkers, this cottage is not abandoned nor have I ever been as close to it as I have now. I generally like to keep a respectful distance, but when John walked up to have a quick look I couldn’t help following behind.

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

Even though I felt a bit guilty for peeking in the window, I was so intrigued by what looked like a place forgotten by time that I couldn’t help taking this image of a smaller window on one side of a primitive kitchen setup through a larger window on the front of the house. As much I wanted to photograph more of what I saw, I wanted to be a bit respectful so I took two quick photos of the window before following John up the hill behind the house as we took a different path back to the woods and on to the car.

I wondered aloud to John as we walked, talking about the history of the house and what it might be used for now. It was clear from our hasty look that someone was using the house from time to time and John suggested it might be used as temporary shelter for farm workers or a primitive holiday cottage for someone with a city life.

Fast forward a few hours to evening when we meet up with friends for dinner. We had no idea when we accepted the invitation to their home that there would be more than the four of us and were pleasantly surprised to see we were part of a party about twelve, many of whom we’d not met before.

Conversation was lively and the food excellent and just to keep us on our toes, the Universe sent us an answer to our  earlier questions about the house when we realized that the man we were seated next to at dinner … owned it.

That’s right, the one time I go past the gate for a sneaky look and a photo, I end up face to face with one of the owners.

He was very pleasant and shared the most interesting details about the land and area around the house. That said, I don’t think I ever actually mentioned that I took a photo of kitchen window, but given that we discussed my blog, photography, and how to find me, there’s a good chance he’ll know now.

I wonder if some artistic interior shots might make amends, not that I have them yet … because I’m not that nosy!

But with a proper invitation, I could do some lovely things.

Warning! Comfy Slippers Can Lead To Public Embarrassment

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I gave my husband a pair of slippers as one of his Christmas gifts. He’d needed a pair for a while and had been walking around in red wellie socks for several months looking like a movie extra in Dr. Zhivago, one of his favorite films.

Finding them was no easy task. He is particular about his feet and while they are not big, he prefers a looser fitting shoe with a bit of extra width. I found Clarks, King Switch slippers in a nearby town and they’ve been perfect.

Too perfect, in fact.

Before I say any more, I want to let you know that I have John’s permission to share this next part.

Lately, John’s been going on walk-about in his slippers. It began one night about a week ago when he set off on foot to meet me and some friends at the pub. He noted privately to me that he was running a bit late as he’d walked half-way there before realizing he was wearing his house slippers. We had a little laugh about it and went on with our evening.

A few days later, John dropped me at my evening spin class and went off to do some shopping. When we got home later that evening, I noticed he was carrying a bag of groceries in one hand and his slippers in the other. On his feet were hiking shoes that he keeps in the back of the car for impromptu coast path walks which confirmed what I knew before I asked, ‘Did you go out in your slippers again?’

He said yes with a slight bit of exasperation and after I had a laugh, I said, ‘You didn’t wear them into the store, did you?’ He said he went into Asda to pick up a few things and went up to their shoe area to see if they had a canvas shoe he’d bought in the past. He’s been looking for his size for some time and when he didn’t see it, he decided to try on a different style to see if it might be a good substitute.

Looking down to take off a shoe to try on one of the new ones, he realized he was still wearing his slippers and said, ‘Oh, bugger!’ Then he remembered that he had just done the grocery shopping at Morrison’s and said, ‘Double bugger’ before hurrying back to the car to change.

I asked him if he saw any of our neighbors while he was out as it’s unusual not to run into someone we know. He said no and that they’d probably gone the other way after seeing him coming down the aisle in his slippers. He said they’d probably thought, ‘Poor old chap’ if they had seen him, although as quickly as he likes to move through the store, I’d say it’s unlikely anyone had a chance to notice his feet.

We had a pretty big laugh over the visual he would have presented shopping in slippers. After that, I wondered what makes Clarks slippers feel so different than his previous ones … I gave them a good going over and after talking with John, decided it must be down to two areas.

It turns out that the solid no slip soles on Clarks slippers along with the firm bit across the top contribute to the solid shoe-like feel.

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Clarks King Switch Slippers – Internet Photo

I told him if they were as comfortable as he said they were, I was going back to the Clarks store to buy a few more to tuck back for when these wear out. He jokingly said he might try them on the TMB the next time we walk it.

That would be an interesting test … 105 miles through the Alps in his slippers. What would people say?

I never forget to exchange my slippers for shoes before leaving the house … I wonder why?

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Since we’re sharing funny stories … what’s your funniest ‘Oops’ moment?

A Big Serving Of Hate With A Side Order Of One Person’s Version Of Christian Love – No Friend Of Mine

Some people seem to have lost their minds over the election and not just people like Donald Trump.

My friends and family have remained civil over our political differences of opinion, as should be when people who care about each other disagree.

Some folks however, have gone into total meltdown mode and have been spewing some shocking rubbish.

And the really scary part is they actually believe what they’re saying. Heaven help us if these people have guns because they’ve been whipped up into such a frenzy who knows what they might do in the name of God.

They scare me.

The day after the election I was forced to ‘unfriend’ someone on Facebook. She’s the only person I’ve ever had to exclude from my Facebook life and ironically, for the second time. About a year ago, I don’t remember exactly when, I unfriended her the first time. We’d graduated from the same high school, although years apart and I never knew her. I had approved her request both times based on mutual friends I could see that we had in common. The first time I unfriended her had to do with what I considered to be aggressive over the top hate talk, but it was nothing like what she said on Wednesday after President Obama was re-elected.

I unfriended her quietly the first time and thought no more about her, but the problem was that she came back. After a some months I got a friend request from her and I must have not been paying attention because after seeing her connections to a lot of my high school friends, I accepted her friendship. This is a mistake that will not happen again!

I’ve omitted her name as I have no wish to shame this woman and she probably won’t even know this post has been written, but what would her Christian friends think about her hate filled rant … what about her adult children and her grandchildren?

It might be easy to just dismiss her as unhinged, hope she gets help, and move on, but she’s not alone and that’s the really scary piece to me.

Most of you who’ve read my blog for a while know I have many questions about faith and God and how I feel. I’ve touched on it here before and I’ve been open about my doubting Thomas thoughts about the power of prayer, but I have to admit that lately I find myself whispering a few words that begin with ‘God,’ and end with ‘please, keep him safe,’ because I think President Obama needs some extra protective energy around him, especially now.

I don’t know what you’ve heard, but here’s a look at one person who while no longer in my social circle, is still very much out in the world sharing her message of hate while calling herself a good Christian.

(Internet Image)

This was the comment on Facebook that cause me to unfriend her:
“Obamacare will be the death of America!!! WE see what it has done to other countries and we don’t like it. We like our freedom of choice in doctors. We work hard and we deserve what we want and can pay for. Those living on welfare need to get off their ass and go to work!!!! I’m tired of keeping them up and all the give me programs out there. The US economy did not grow, it’s terrible! The number of people laid off work, loosing their homes, cars etc. If it grew it was the RICH that got richer from it. The news media would like you to think that because they are all corrupt liars! Obama is an EVIL, communist muslim! I doubt very seriously that any of it was legal. Blank panther parties keeping out voteres, maching going down, Am. soldiers votes lost…..blah blah blah!!!!!!! I don’t know where your from Claire but if you live in the US your in for a rude awakening. Wait and see! America is a nation divided …and a nation divided will fall!!!!!! A nation without God is doomed and that is what America has become. America has a disease….That disease is socialism with unlimited federal power and it will take the entire strength and will of the people to overpower it.” SAD SAD day in America….. November 7, 2012 …. the day America died.”
Then she sent messaged me on Thursday with the two comments below that were sent a minute apart.
Elizabeth….. YOU know nothing about me and that is clear to see. You speak not with your lips! It is clear to see that you are the typical Liberal that thinks only his/her way is right. I have seen OBAMACARE first hand with my parents. I know what it exsists of and I have read most of the papers on it. As have my friends. All he wants is to help the elderly die…quick so he doesn’t have to pay for them. You have the right to post what you like but I also have that right as well. Being on FB and posting allows you to say what you please as most people do or defriend them, as I did you. It doesn’t mean I don’t like you or hate you, I choose not to be your friend any longer. It doesn’t matter if you agree with me or not, Obama is clearly NOT a Christian. ( that is NOT why I didn’t vote for him ) Nor was he born here in the USA. Time will reveal that, I only hope and pray that it isn’t to late. Whether he wants evil for us or someone has named him as the person to do the job, evil is upon us.
From what I’ve heard, and I have friends in the UK, the health care system there is a mess! WE don’t want your type of health care~!~~ Most americans, the ones that actually work for a living, do not want OBAMACARE! We want our country to stay the same with the freedom to choose our doctors and type of medical treatment. When you have spent your whole life working at a job and retire with benefits, the president should not be allowed to strip them from you. THAT IS COMMUNISM my friend! Most Americans don’t need welfare, food stamps or free health care. Only the sorry, lazy people need that!
NOT one single person can name anything that Obama has done good for the USA….NOT ONE! The people that voted for him or the ones that one FREE everything….they live in a give me, give me state of mind, constantly demanding freebies, they are lazy and worthless, white, black and any other color!
I personally do not care if the President is black, green, purple or orange or his religious beliefs ( as long as he keeps it to himself) …for without the help of congress and senate the president can’t do anything…but what I do care about is the fact that our President needs to be more concerened with our military, protecting our men in other countries, not vacationing in VEGAS and lieing to cover his ass from NOT being here when this country needs him and OBAMA has not been! He has also proven that in the latest storm on the east coast where he showed his face for TV, and they are still without power, food & water. NO help has been sent in. He is a coward and a lier!!!
Truthfully John I don’t care who is upset with my remark, what bothers me is that you ENGLISH think you know what is best for us in the USA!!! The USA was not founded on Communism or muslim beliefs and we don’t want it forced don’t our throats! If they try there will be another revolution like you have never seen! You need to listen to other news stations or media sources and get ALL the facts before voicing your childish remarks.
Unfortunately there are not a lot of educated people on politics in the USA, they just go vote based on one thing that bothers them like abortion or gay rights. Those are things that need to be addressed but not the sole reason ( which most have proven here on your page ) when voting for a President. They should be more concerened about the happenings of this country and where it is headed. I’m ashamed that Americans are that stupid and uneducated!
My feelings about your comments would be a waste of my breath. I feel you have NO say so in the events of this country since you are now a citizen of the Brits! I don’t count duel citizenship. You can not be loyal to two countries during a time of war, so I don’t understand why they even give that. Makes no sense at all to me.
I wish you nothing but happiness, because I am a good Christian person with a huge heart of gold and would never wish bad on anyone. Hope you new country gives you more happiness than the one you left :)
I did not mean to offend you or John, I would never do that and for that I’m sorry. I just want you to know where I’m coming from with this letter.

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I did find the smiley face a bit much in light of what she said during her ‘letter’ to let me know where she was coming from.

According to CNN, a lot of unfriending is happening on Facebook post-election, and I wonder if any of you have had a similar experience.