Set me a seal upon your heart,
As a ring upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death...
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
A flame of the Eternal.

Song of Songs viii 6-7

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Monday, October 31, 2011


Have you ever had a strange experience, one that you could not explain using common logic or natural law? In fact, your experience was so bizarre that you were hesitant to tell anyone, even a friend, for fear they’d think you were a crackpot or a fool.

Join me Halloween night on for: One Agnostic’s Journey on the Bumpy Road to Belief. I will be highlighting the paranormal and supernatural phenomena (over 50 happenings in one year) that I began to witness just days after the death of my dear husband. Several of our loved ones and friends had their own uncanny experiences too!

I am a retired research statistician who had no beliefs for over 30 years – until I virtually craned my neck so bad that I got “whiplash” from witnessing all the incredible paranormal activities in my home! This extraordinary experience, which began on January 1st of ‘04, changed my life forever.

Now I know that Death is not The End.

Just go to register and log on. Then go to the Home page, turn up the audio on your computer and listen! (My 10/31 interview starts at 10 p.m. Central time. "See" you there!

Happy Halloween everybody!!!

Mandy Berlin

Sunday, October 16, 2011

INTRODUCTION to my upcoming book!

The Hope and the Knowing is a chronicle of paranormal, mystical, and supernatural events. Three hours before the Christmas Eve of Two Thousand Three, the soul of Max Blau departed from a hospice in Tempe, Arizona. Yet, in Oxford, England, Christmas Eve had already arrived. There, in Max’s former home, sat his grief-stricken sisters and guardians who had received word that he died on their most beloved holiday. Yet, just hours after Max’s “purported” departure, strange things began to happen – in Oxford and in Arizona as well.

Despite the terrible sadness caused by the untimely death of Max, my husband and dearest friend in all the world, I soon realized that things were not as they seemed. During Christmas week alone, I began receiving telephone calls from loved ones and friends dear to us. Oddly, some of the callers sounded happy, if not downright joyful soon after Max had left us! In fact, his sisters and even a few of his close friends phoned to tell me their uncanny stories. From the outset, these incredible tales had a strange effect on me. You see, I was an agnostic then. I had no beliefs one way or the other. Nevertheless, after hearing these eerie tales, I decided to do what I did best – sit at my coffee table and take notes.

After obtaining an advanced degree and working as a consulting statistician in education, psychology, health care and government for approximately twenty-five years, I remained, as ever, a curious person. So, when these events began to take place, I knew I had to write down the details if I wanted to investigate further. Later, for validation purposes, I sent written “reports” to those who had kindly taken the time to tell me their stories. If there were any truth to these rare claims, my notes would have to be corroborated and the required corrections made.

Then, amazingly on New Year’s Day, two days after Max’s burial, I began to have experiences of my own. In fact, I was soon to become a party to some outlandish and baffling happenings – in places like my home, restaurants, cafés, gardens, and even during my first trip to England! As these paranormal and supernatural incidents began to “hit home”, I sat down at my computer to flesh out the details – those of our loved ones – and now mine. Before long and without much effort, I had made a document for each “event” which had been logged on paper initially and saved in a calendar. Despite the strange goings-on, I was glad I’d kept track of the dates and even the times of day. My background in psychology and years of logging research study observations had come in handy, to say the least. Nevertheless, as you will see, my journal is written not in clinical form, but in story form. I have also added post scripts to a number of the journal entries. These will be described below.

In The Hope and the Knowing, rare and unusual episodes – encounters with the explained and unexplained alike – are called "events". The story begins with the amazing events of December 23, 2003. It ends with the eye-opening display and revelation I experienced on December 23, 2004 – on the anniversary of Max’s ostensible departure.

Through research conducted following the fifty-odd incidents and encounters (and odd they were), the phenomena were later classified into some rather rare and interesting categories:

the shifting and displacement of physical objects in and around rooms; apparitions and other spirit encounters; synchronicities and extreme coincidences; automatic writing; numinous dreams, the movement of undated coins; intelligent haunts; residual haunts; uncanny telephone activities; electrical demonstrations, malfunctions and breakdowns; object alteration; “third eye” phenomena; spirit communications received through clairvoyance, clairaudience and clairsentience; soul travel; spirit guide communications; validation of “rare” events based on the frequency of repetition of the events; validation of rare events based on statistical hypothesis testing; and the discovery of a corroborating written record found after the occurrence of a supernatural event.

In the Post Script sections following key phenomenological activities, I discuss and sometimes attempt to examine an event further or to review subject matter associated with the event. Therefore, post scripts (as detailed below) are reserved primarily for post-event commentary and research. Although many of the events in the book are left unexplained, potential explanations are offered wherever "doable", with respect to key paranormal events. Interpretations are made wherever possible.

The timeframe of The Hope and the Knowing is December 23, 2003 through December 23, 2004. Nevertheless, the paranormal, supernatural and synchronistic happenings have gone far beyond the boundaries of one journal year, changing my life forever. Because of the rare and challenging life changes I experienced over a subsequent six-year period, I decided it would be a good idea to continue journaling. After all, the paranormal events didn’t stop simply because one journal year had ended. No, not in any sense of the word! Consequently, I have continued to keep a log from 2005 onward. On the other hand, my focus shifted somewhat because of a tremendous increase in synchronistic events, intuitive perceptions, signs, wonders, and even a few predictions which were later born out.

As my intuitive side became evident, I sought to understand and develop this gift under the guidance of Sunny Dawn Johnston, psychic medium of Sunlight Alliance. In 2006 while watching a news program on television, I learned of Sunny’s incredible work in Arizona, with Hay House of California, and around the country. I contacted Sunny immediately and began taking her intuitive classes, such as Angel classes, Law of Attraction classes, and a number of her Mediumship classes. Sunny, who is my mentor, conducts personal conferences in her office and by telephone.

Unfortunately, in 2007 I suffered an illness affecting my physical vision, i.e., amazingly my intuitive vision remained unaffected. However, to my chagrin, I was unable to continue with the mathematical work I performed as a consulting statistician, i.e., work with spreadsheets, long columns of numbers, and so forth. Now I am happy and thankful to report that I found a doctor who has been treating the illness successfully for a year. Due to this wonderful and most welcome development and the paranormal happenings I’ve experienced since 2004, I am gaining in energy and perseverance every day. Since I have kept all my phenomenological notes on file, these are tomes yet be formalized beyond The Hope and the Knowing! I look forward to the prospects with delight and appreciation for these renewed capabilities.

Since my dear Max went to the light, our poignant, bizarre and sometimes even comical communications have been rare. Nevertheless, he still visits the earthly plane of existence from time to time, most notably on special occasions. You see, Max loves parties and get-togethers. What a communicator he was and always will be! After the transition (death) the individual personality remains the same. I have found this to be true over and over again. You see, in the past seven years other spirit beings have visited me as well: my dearly deceased father, his parents, my step-father who recently passed at the age of ninety-five, angels as I prayed in church, spirit guides, and loved ones of classmates and friends. Most of these wonderful encounters have occurred subsequent to the writing of this journal and will be revealed in an upcoming book. Nevertheless, a few of these exchanges did take place in 2004 when I was first “introduced” to my spirit guide. I am pleased to present these stories in The Hope and the Knowing.

Journal Entries. This volume contains seventy-one journal entries, beginning with the events of December 23, 2003 and ending with the unparalleled event that happened on December 23, 2004. Consequently, my journal contains data and information concerning over fifty paranormal experiences, spanning a year and one day. The last day is simply too mind-boggling and personally meaningful to exclude from my chronicle of events. Indeed, it is the sine qua non of the book! Yet, many more than fifty paranormal events occurred in 2004. The “over fifty” refers to recurring events because I did not document or even count a particular event more than once in the book. The most repetitive paranormal events were “The Hair Dryer Affair”, Max “curling up” on the couch, “The Toaster Trick” and Max’s appearance in the gardens at church. Although I recorded and presented the account of the toaster trick just once, this incident happened approximately two to three times a week for many weeks in 2004, and on into 2005. I am sure that I witnessed the unbelievable “toaster trick” at least twenty times. This is a very conservative estimate. It may have happened fifty or more times, I just don’t know.

My journal entries are based on the occurrences of uncanny, sometimes mind-blowing, and often extraordinarily meaningful events, such as communications with Max, “coincidental” electrical events, and the unfortunate deaths that occurred in proximity to Max’s passing. In this sense, the journal is episodic in nature – unlike a diary or a journal of daily activities, thoughts, and concerns. The narrative was written in the past tense. However, the paranormal sequences were written in the present tense to “glue” the reader to the scene while revealing the observer’s thoughts and feelings about the phenomenon.

Event Recording. Due to a meticulous bent brought on by working with numbers, I have included a date and often a time at the top of each journal entry. In this way, associations and interpretations can be drawn for a better understanding of the paranormal incidents in question. Because I am aware that the moon has an effect on nature, I have also included phases of the moon. At the start, I hadn’t yet made the decision to chronicle every observation or to keep track of dates. Then later, as I began to include dates and times in the narratives, I expressed my apologies for being unable to recall a few of the dates and some of the times of day. To that end, I supplied estimated dates (such as 1/xx/04) and times of day like Sunday Morning or Wednesday Afternoon, at least whenever possible.

All of the paranormal and supernatural data and information were first logged and then described in detail in the The Hope and the Knowing. However, about ten percent of the information was subsequently removed from the book. For example, if I witnessed an event that I was later unable to recall in detail, the event was then excluded. This happened a few times. I have likewise excluded two separate paranormal accounts which I received early in 2004 from two of Max’s dear friends, a man and a woman. They are friends of mine as well. Since that time, I have been unable to reach either of the two to obtain detailed corroboration of their stories. So I decided it would be best to remove their narratives from the body of my book. However, I am able to state with confidence that the first event happened to the man while he was taking a walk in the woods about a week after Max died. The second event concerned a phenomenon that the woman said she witnessed in my home while I was vacationing in Sedona. She had been “pet-sitting” and watching my home. The nature of the details surrounding each of these events is still somewhat unclear so I must unfortunately exclude their accounts. However, I do know this: both the man and the woman told me their stories with great enthusiasm. They both appeared to have been stunned, to say the least, by what they had seen and heard. The dear man has since moved away and his phone has been disconnected. And despite my phone messages and invitations, my friend and confidante, the woman has not entered my home since the time she witnessed the paranormal phenomenon. Indeed, I have been unable to reach her for a long time. Though my friends tells me not to wait, I miss her and have hopes that she will return to say hello someday, perhaps when I least expect it.

Despite all that has happened (or not), I carry a big pad of sticky notes and a pen and take them with me wherever I go. While writing the first draft of The Hope, I never thought, as a few friends suggested, that “the recording of all that data” would be too tedious a task to stick with for long. Quite the reverse. I felt comfortable with the idea because the phenomena were often so awesome or wacky that I felt compelled to get my observations down on paper. Keeping track this way, I would then be able to tell my mother and friends the story. Nevertheless, I soon found myself “fleshing out” these accounts on my laptop – before work, after work, on the Wednesdays of my four-day work week, and on weekends as well. In that sense, I was confident I wouldn’t be relying on old memory. Before long, a book was born. Lives were forever changed!

Song Lyrics. (Please note: the song lyrics are primarily reserved for the book, i.e., most of the songs are not contained in this Blog). The paranormal events sometimes arrived with a song – on the radio, while drinking coffee in a café, through musak, or while working in my office. Quite a few of the songs, coupled with the associated paranormal phenomena, had a synchronistic quality and became a fundamental part of the experience. Even today, as I recall seeing Max’s spirit on January 3rd 2004, I can still hear “Unchained Melody”. This beautiful song was an integral part of my paranormal experience because the song and the movie, “Ghost” were on television. That is, approximately five minutes after Max appeared on the arm of my sofa, I changed the television channel and I heard the song, “Unchained Melody”. There before me was the movie, “Ghost” as Max’s spirit hovered just above the arm of my sofa. I was stunned!

People are incredulous when they hear this story, thinking it could not possibly have happened. It sounds surreal, they say – too perfect to be true. Objectively, I agree with them, to be sure. But I am here to tell you, to my absolute bafflement, it happened. And in all humility, it happened to me. Why would any person set herself up for potential derision by writing such a far-fetched story unless it were true? I certainly would not. My “Ghost” story happened as I described it. I cannot and will not delete this account from my journal simply because it is too fantastic for people to believe. That, in point of fact, would be a form of deception. I am only here to tell you to the best of my ability about the paranormal and supernatural phenomena I experienced.

Because of activities that are “linked” like these, the inclusion of one or two lines of lyrics tends to give people a better picture of the experience. The reader can then visualize and perhaps even “feel” the event from the perspective of the one who witnessed it – thinking and “hearing” the song as the observer heard it while the event was happening. Using the required standards for abridgement, these songs are an integral part of my journal because they add the element of sound (i.e., the recollection of the melodies) to the equation – bringing another dimension to the reading of the book. Music lovers might even enjoy listening to the tunes online as they read particular passages.

Post Scripts. The post script sections of this book fill an important need. Post scripts allow me to separate the paranormal events from comments and research concerning the events. In this way, no paranormal story is ever changed or manipulated beyond revisions for clarity, grammar, punctuation, style and the like.

As I rewrote my journal, I expanded on the post scripts. There was a need for more definitions, commentary, and further research on paranormal phenomena to shed light on the most baffling events and perhaps the least understood activities. Post scripts are primarily reserved for:

• My comments and inquiries concerning an event

• Paranormal and supernatural definitions and descriptions

• Key information from theories of consciousness

• Key information from quantum theory -string theory, parallel universes, etc.

• Post scripts providing new material, such as “Law of Attraction” concepts

• Logical analysis of an event

• Statistical analysis of an event, where possible

• Interpretation of key events

In addition to the post scripts, Journal Entry 34 contains quite a bit of information on quantum physics and “The Theory of Everything” as related to rare and unusual phenomena. Journal Entry 59 strictly concerns “third eye” phenomena.

I certainly do not pretend to have all the answers. In that sense, I do not attempt to analyze and interpret every event documented in The Hope. Some incidents are brief and self-explanatory, in terms of the typical conjectures set forth to make sense of the phenomena. Although I have attempted to depict every event logged in detail, some events simply defy description and explanation. I have provided post scripts after particular journal entries, as needed, along with comments, questions, research, analysis, and where feasible, interpretation of the event. I encourage readers to take a stab at it. Get together with your friends and mull over mysterious events. Try to analyze and interpret these phenomena to your satisfaction. This is half the fun and joy of the book. The other half is the incredible stories, all true!

Please note: Due to the paranormal nature of the subject matter and as a protective measure, names have been changed in the narrative sections of the book. Nevertheless, the true names of a number of people have been kept in the narratives, as requested. I have retained my pen name and that of my deceased spouse, Max Blau, for The Hope. I assure you that no person, place, nor story is fictitious. Every happening hereby recorded is true to the best of my ability to capture the quintessence of a paranormal event. I freely admit that some events have left me baffled. Yet, isn’t that what makes life fascinating?

I continue to keep records of rare and unusual events even into the year Two Thousand Eleven. However, there is more than enough to tell – based solely on what happened the year after my beloved Max died. I humbly present my story to you, my readers, in The Hope and the Knowing.

~Author, Mandy Berlin

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Dear Readers,

Now busy finishing the final draft of my book! So looking forward to getting my book proposal sent to an agent, i.e., the next step. Due to this process, I see that I neglected to make a posting to my blog around mid-September. To make it up to you, I just posted two happenings which took place while I was vacationing in England. These true stories set the stage for the mind-boggling supernatural event I encountered the week I went to see Max's old school in Wellington, England. I hope you like them!

As ever,
Mandy Berlin

PS - Plan to post the incredible Wellington incident around mid-October. Stay tuned....


Journal Entry 49
Thursday through Saturday
09/9 – 09/11/2004

The London and Oxford tours were conducted by my personal guide, Char. How lucky can I get? Then, Thursday we enjoyed a tasty Middle Eastern dinner with Char’s sister, Alicia and her daughter, Sandy. The next day, Char carted me off to the pastures for a “mixer” with Alicia, Sandy, and their beautiful horses grazing in a field greener than anything I’d seen since the Amish country. Just before sundown, we snapped a few shots, “manely” of the horses, of course. (Couldn’t resist.)

In the morning, we moved on to Hensley for lunch with Max’s cousin, Nate. After a few laughs, some who-do-you-knows, and an authentic shepherd’s pie, I unhappily said so-long to Char. Then Nate took over and drove us on to Surrey where he and his wife, Chloe, live with their lovely daughters, Carmella and Rianna.

On Saturday, we five motored to Windsor for a tour of the Queen’s Castle. Their knowledgeable staff provided us with an in-depth look at the royal family – the allure, the glamour, the joys, and the sorrows they have endured. Some would say, “What about the wealth? We don’t have what they have.” Yet, I came away with the feeling that the old adage, money can’t buy happiness, holds true for this family as well. (My Post Script highlights the subject of wealth, ponderings written years after my trip to England. I’ve included some information about The Secret which I first stumbled upon in 2006.)

After our tour of the beautiful castle, we hiked over to the gift shop to engage in some blatant browsing. In the end, I did get a few things. You see, I just had to buy some Windsor silver, four ornate towels, five boxes of fragrant soaps (they were small, really) and several calendar collectibles – gifts for Mom and a few of our friends. Then, being the record-keeping fool that I am, I bought and kept a Buckingham Palace calendar for my office.

Thoughts before traveling: how will this stuff ever fit in my suitcase?

We returned to Thorpe before dark, a little bushed but ready for dinner. Chloe’s spaghetti certainly had the effect of reviving my spirits. Then after her delicious meal, we revved up some more with high tea and conversation. What a time we had, remembering the humor, love, and joy our dear ones, Clyde and Max, had brought to our lives. Nate’s father, Clyde had passed away in March, not long after Max. This sad event occurred only a few months before my trip to England. I told Nate and his family how much I had wanted to meet Clyde – even more because Max and I had been corresponding with him for years. Although my travel plans had been in the making for months, regrettably, I was too late.

Yet Nate, Chloe and the girls had so many amazing stories to tell me that it was easy to paint a picture of their father (and grandfather) in my mind’s eye. He was a family man, a caring man, a gentleman – truly a gentle man. Somehow, on this extraordinary night of Saturday, 9-11, I had the feeling that Clyde and Max were there with us. I can’t help but believe Nate and Chloe felt that way too as we shared an evening of reflection, joy and love. I do not exaggerate when I say we had a night I will never forget. It is fixed in my heart forever.


Post Script

Concerning the subject of wealth, I have since learned that no matter how much money we may amass in life, happiness is truly a state of mind. As Rhonda Byrne, Mike Dooley and all the inspiring authors of The Secret say, “Thoughts become things. Think the good ones.” Isn’t this where wealth – the wealth of a full and meaningful life – begins? Perhaps we would do well not to underestimate the power of our thoughts. From birth to death, regardless of any outside forces that appear to impinge upon our lives, every thought we have is ours, every choice we make is our own.

The Secret says that we manifest or materialize all things (positive and negative) through the kind of energy we create with our thoughts, beliefs, feelings, emotions, and our inspired (or not-so-inspired) actions. As a result, according to The Secret and the law of attraction, we are the masters of our lives. Concepts from The Secret link ancient metaphysical notions with the scriptures and, most amazingly, with energy theories of quantum physics. This is where science, metaphysics, spiritualism, and religion join forces.

By the power of our minds, we possess the tools necessary to design what we want, i.e., using a “mental” pencil, pen, paper, crayons, brush, paint, and easel. But what are the internal tools necessary to create what we desire? Amazingly, these are just our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and the inspiration needed to “paint” whatever pictures we want to see: whatever we would like to do in life, whatever people we would like to meet, and whatever way we would like to live. As a result, we need nothing outside ourselves to bring into material existence the things we’d like to have, be or do. Stated differently, using our thoughts, beliefs and energy “vibes,” we “attract” specific people, places and things into our lives, which then become the “stuff” of our lives.

If you think about it long and hard, would you really want it any other way? The Infinite always provides for us in foolproof ways we never dreamed possible, if we but choose to learn, harness our knowledge and practice practice.

Though this review is geared more toward an upcoming workshop, I would like to emphasize that The Secret arrived at my door in 2006, like an enduring force in my life! From the video and audio teachings, I have since been learning how to attract wonderful people, places, events, and yes, even written checks, rings, and material things that have enhanced my life in so many unique and wonderful ways. Of course, I’m creating more all the time. It’s easy because, like gravity, the law of attraction is always in operation – whether we choose to think consciously with intent, and use our energy effectively; or not. In the last analysis, it’s a matter of learning how to use the law of attraction appropriately to generate the results we wish to achieve. Yet, it’s not so much the quantity as the quality of the end result that most appeals to me. I certainly don’t need another wardrobe filled with clothing, but a summer home would be nice. (The hundred-degree temperatures in Arizona have tested my faculties enough! I’m going to start using The Secret to picture my lovely home – way up in the pines.)

A life of abundance truly comes in different packages for different people. Thank the universe for that.

And thank yourself for thinking about it.


1. The Secret URL:


Journal Entry
Wednesday 09/8/2004
Oxford, England
Time Unknown

I met up with Char in London again and she drove us on to Oxford, her home. Because there was still so much to see, she decided to take more time off. This gave us the opportunity to tour Christ Church, Warwick Castle and some quaint shops in dreamy Oxford, not necessarily in that order. Knowing our time was short, we tried to cover as much territory as possible – that is, considering Mandy’s toasted marshmallow toe.

First, we stopped by Char’s house so I could spend some time with her parents, James and Wilma, and drop off my luggage. I hadn’t seen them since they had flown back to the states to visit Max and their daughter, Paulette, in Sonoita. Char said her folks weren’t well, but they were doing a little better than they had been for quite some time. Bless them, I was glad to hear that they were improving, at least. I so hope their progress continues this way.

Amazingly, as we pulled up to her home on another one of those sweet sunlit days, Char spotted something wiggling in the bushes. “Look, I think it’s a hedgehog!” she said, jumping from her car seat.

“Oh, where?” I said, hobbling around the other side. One time Max told me that when he was a lad, he had found a hedgehog somewhere in the brush. He said he tried with persistence to make a household pet out of the little fellow.

Char zeroed in, with me trailing behind. “Char, I don’t see him at all.”

“Shush, over here!” she whispered, pointing and tiptoeing into the brush by the house. Before long, I actually spotted the brown-barbed creature, quivering and darting about. “How cute he is!” But, alas, he scampered away, tunneling under the leaves and loam.

“Oops, maybe not so happy to see us,” Char said.

“I’ve never seen a pint-sized porcupine before. Let me have at him!” I said, lunging forward, forgetting that to touch the prickly animal would probably prove to be quite painful.

“Watch out, he might get you!” Char said. Leaves scattered as the miniscule hedgehog burrowed even further underground. Maybe he thought he’d be lunchmeat if he stuck around too long.

“Okay,” she smiled, “he’s buried.”

“Hey, come back here, little guy! Darn, he’s gone.”

“You’ll never get him now.”

Nevertheless, our little hedgehog encounter couldn’t have been a more auspicious way of welcoming me to the lovely home where Max had once lived with his guardians “and my sisters,” as he used to say. Though Max had been adopted sans records, he always called James’ and Wilma’s three girls his sisters. I liked that.

One time when Max was talking about his pint-sized playmate, he told me the hedgehog was the only pet he’d ever had as a child. And so, with a lump in my throat, I followed Char to the ivy-lined house where her parents stood waving and opening the screen door, ready to welcome us inside. On the way, I couldn’t help but think we were somehow playing a part in the delightful tale, The Wind in the Willows, with the hedgehog, Mr. Badger, Toady and the whole gang.

Of course I believe "The Toad" was there with us – if not in corporeal form, then surely in spirit.


1. Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows, abridged and illustrated by Inga Moore, (London: Walker Books Ltd., 2000).

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Journal Entry
Saturday 09/4/2004
London, England

Max’s sister, Char, met me in London. My first trip abroad, and oh, what a trip! She told me they’d had nothing but rain and cold weather for weeks on end. But the day I arrived, the sky was clear, the air balmy, with temperatures climbing “high” into the seventies. Char said I must have brought the desert heat with me. I chuckled because the air seemed a tad brisk to me. In any event, these delightful conditions certainly satisfied both of us.

What a great landing. It took me less than an hour to fall in love with London: people promenading in the streets and that catchy tune, “England Swings Like a Pendulum Do” reverberating in my brain. It was an ice cream, popcorn and beer kind of night. After all those years, I was finally learning first-hand what the hullaballoo is all about.

Despite that residual case of “balloon toe,” I silently applauded myself for keeping up with Char. I’m sure she thought differently, because every so often she’d turn around and holler, “C’mon, let’s go!” You see, we had to run-limp to get to the theatre on time to see “The Mousetrap,” an incredible play, held over for fifty years. No, not fifteen, fifty! Things like that just don’t happen in the States. We are all too ready to throw out the historic hubs of yesteryear in favor of a couple of catchy sound bites and the must-have toys of today, all of which lose their luster as soon as we’ve had our flimsy fun with them. But England doesn’t strike me that way. Most people seem rather unassuming and perhaps a bit more appreciative of what they have. Was it World War II and the bombing of London that had such a strong and lasting effect? Or maybe it’s their form of government. On the other hand, England’s hefty tax structure would probably cause any inhabitant to be more appreciative of their possessions, material or otherwise.

Amazingly, we arrived on time. What a great show – enigmatic, powerfully performed and funny. I could have seen it three more times. That’s because my eyelids kept drooping, but not because of the play which was brilliant! It was because of the “all nighter” I pulled while crossing the Atlantic. With a newborn crying next to me, I caught maybe a half hour of sleep all night. But it didn’t matter. I certainly couldn’t stay mad at the little darling, stuck up there on the plane like me. I mean, we had a lot in common. I was just about ready to bawl too. Let’s face it, we were all in the same boat, er ship, er contraption that attempts to fly in the air.

Thank goodness, it did!

For these reasons, my descent into oblivion began not long after the curtain ascended – as I settled back into my seat. Yes, Char did her best and gave me a couple of nudges… or more. Lucky for me, she wasn’t hardnosed about it. And yes, I did try to straighten up, but my body had other ideas. I’d sit up straight as a post and soon find myself drifting off… again.

During the intermission, I begged Char to pour vast quantities of coffee down my throat. “Oh, their espresso should work just fine!” I said.

She just smiled dubiously.

Well, the stuff did help, for about ten minutes or so. Never mind, if I hadn’t been punch-drunk, I’d have been mortified by my own behavior.

After the final curtain and copious rounds of applause, Char was finally able to slip into the powder room and tend to herself for a change. I hoped she wasn’t too annoyed with me, but I decided it best to wait outside.

Maybe the brisk night air will clear out this brain fog.

Ah, taking in the smells of the city, I thought, where’s all the soot they kept telling me about? Smiling, I savored the richness of the extraordinary evening. Yet, as I watched the passersby, I was beginning to feel like a kid at the zoo. Something strange is going on, I thought. Maybe it has happened already… a dash of déjà vu… or as Max would say, déjà went. Had the play made me giddy? Perhaps it was the coffee, or just a lack of REM; or maybe it was the narrow buildings, pitched at an angle (like me) as if they might topple over at any moment. No matter, I just stood there, enthralled by the sights and sounds of London.


Then, without warning, a blast of cigarette smoke sears my nostrils.

“What the hack hack… heck?” I rasp. Sensing the perpetrator to my right, I turn, about to say, “You ridiculous fool, how dare you blow smoke in my face!”

I look hard, expecting to find the joker doing his dirty deed. But, oddly, not a soul is there.

Perhaps I’ve stymied the very word. For my eyelids start to flicker and no sooner than you can say magical mystery tour,(1) a hologram-like figure takes shape before the leaning towers… no more than a few feet from my nose. I can almost make out the image, translucent yet diffuse in color… then, a maroon jacket emblazoned with a crazy Rupert the Bear insignia…

…the one so dear to me. “It’s you!” I gasp even as I think, So you’re the culprit I’ve been looking for. And I watch him glide around London in that juvenile jacket of his, incongruously smoking one of his favorites… flowing toward me like the cloud of smoke he’s exhaling.

A design within a design – Chaos modeling at its finest.

“Max,” I smile and say, “you’re like a Lorenz attractor, but wavier.”(2)

Swept up on the wings of a profound sense of awe, I try to gather what’s left of my earth-bound self – if only for the benefit of the lingering few who might think I’ve lost it, talking to the air and such. Then, going deep, I step back into the shadows and breathe in the spicy scent of a wayward city: London, the cacophony, the ultimate harmony. And, in the stillness of the deep, a trace of sandalwood and a smile… he comes ripping through. Max.… home, at last, I merge with the heart of him. For here, time has no measure. Here, we turn together in silence, marveling at the mind-boggling slopes in the sky. Here, my sight softens into the sliver of a moon and a star. And in this singular moment, I know the meaning of forever.


1. From the “Magical Mystery Tour” Soundtrack Album (compilation) by The Beatles, released in the United States on 11/27/67.

2. From Chaos Theory, in this case for small values of the Rayleigh number, ρ. The Lorenz attractor, named for Edward N. Lorenz, is an example of a non-linear dynamic system corresponding to the long-term behavior of the Lorenz oscillator. For pictures, plots and further details, see Lorenz attractor online in Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, 8-2011.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Journal Entry
Sunday 08/29/2004
Mid afternoon
Day before full moon

Today I began to rummage through some jewelry bins and boxes to prepare for my trip abroad. Though I still have a few days left to pack, I decided to polish my rings, earrings and some other sparkly pieces. Moving at a leisurely pace might even help heal my toe, I thought. So I hobbled to the kitchen and made up a tray of tea and cookies and set it on the coffee table. Then slowly, I lifted my bandaged foot onto the table.

“Ouch… there.”

“Once it’s steady, it’s fine.”

Soon, my attention turns to an antique basket of rings and I start poking around. One by one, I turn them over in my hand; the golds and silvers, the shapes and colors of each gemstone remind me of days gone by. Brushing back a little tear, I rummage around till thumb and forefinger hit something large and seemingly out of place.

Lifting it up with my index finger, I smile.

“It’s yours,” I say to my alter ego. “You used to call it your ‘Turkish wedding ring’.”1 I lift up the interlocking chain and spin it around on my finger. Why did I think I’d stashed away it in my velvet pouch?

So many memories…

I’m no longer able to contain the water so I just let it flow and grab a tissue off the table. “It’s oxidized,” I say, puffing away. “Time for a good buff.” So I reach for the silver polish and a soft cloth. It’s a stubborn one, but soon the tarnish begins to wear thin, revealing the natural gleam of silver. Hey!

Still, something’s gnawing at me. “Why do I have two of your rings? I don’t need to keep more than one. “Giving it a final buff, I say to myself, Most widows get rid of their husband’s things after they die. Some of them even do it in the first few weeks.

But I can’t seem to… I just…

Sighing, I try to resolve this by saying what my friends keeps telling me, “Maybe you just need a little more time, dear.” Regardless, one thought leads to another, and soon I’m remembering my wedding ring and the interlocking band matching his own. No more than a few minutes before Max’s friends and loved ones began to arrive at the funeral home, I put my ring in his keepsake chest. “Take this with you, darling,” I said. Then, smelling the sweetness of the lonely rose, I placed it softly beside the ring.

Now, I look up at the ceiling as if my dearest friend and husband might still be hiding there, somewhere, like a charming caracal. I cry out in sadness, and yet with the greatest of joy, “Hey Max, I’m on my way to England!”

“Will visit your family first, of course. Then, guess what, I’m going to take a bus to Wellington. You know, the headmaster’s taking me on a tour of your old school. How cool is that?” The room is getting warmer as evaporation tickles my cheeks, so I scratch my face, but nothing can stop the babbling stream. “And guess what else, I’m going to Windsor to see your cousin Nate, and… and…” and in a flash, comes the roar of an engine, gaining in speed and might! I look around as if I might suddenly find myself sitting on the scary railroad tracks of yesteryear. As the clamor rises up, Tiggi darts in from the hall and stops short. I watch her in disbelief as her eyes practically pop out of their sockets as an ungodly sound emanates from her mouth.

That’s the first time I’ve ever heard a cat snarl like a salivating pit bull.

Still, she’s ogling something at the east end of the house. Fear crawls like thorny branches up the back of my neck. “My God,” I cry, “it’s coming from the dining room!”

Not considering my toe, I can’t even get myself to budge.

Soon, a crackling sound, an electrical pop and a crash… “What’s happening!” I scream. Despite the little mallets beating at my chest cavity and a deep-seated desire for self-preservation, curiosity conquers all reason. I hobble to the dining room doorway, only to watch in horror as books, candles, flowers, and my purple vase “hurl themselves” from the table to the floor – well, this is exactly how it looks! I make a lunge for the purple pot, but it’s too late, I’m no match for the velocity of this mighty projectile. I can only look on in indignation as my lovely vase smashes against ceramic tile…

…slivers fly everywhere in slomo.

I scream, “My God, this can’t be happening!”

And, as the objects stop spinning and slowly settle in place, numbness fills my body and my brain.

This is not real.

Now there is no sound… no movement… nothing. My ears are ringing as an eerie calm descends upon the room. I’m sitting in a crumpled ball on the futon, staring at the clutter before me. Tiggi mews disconsolately, attempting to coil her trembling body around my arm. I want to stroke her but my hand feels like a fossil, petrified… and soon my brain lapses into a freeze like I have never known.


After who-knows-how-long and shadows skulking like trolls along the dining room wall, I come to the dim realization that I had lost consciousness. After viewing what I had always considered to be impossible – a manifestation made only for moviegoers – I must have blacked out. Then after awhile, in an effort to get my bearings, I come to the vast conclusion that I must do something, anything. After all, the clutter on the floor is not going to get up and walk away.

Still, I am gratified to see that nothing more has moved. “Well, that’s a start!”

And so, with the heartening mews of one courageous cat, I pull Tiggi up and give her the bear hug she deserves.

By and by, I turn on the high beams and, like an inspector, conduct a sweep of the area… from the now-bare table to the incredible mess on the floor. All the while, I’m shaking my head in stupefaction. It is incomprehensible to me that all the things that cluttered my dining room table for an entire week now reside on the floor. Under normal circumstances (hmmm, like when would that be?) I keep my keys, books and other things on the table so they’re handy for me when I go out. Maybe I’ll read a chapter between appointments, I think, as I grab my keys and dash to the car. Now I’m staring at the daunting mess. What to do? What to do?

Thankfully, in due course, this (all too familiar) state of bewilderment starts wearing off; perhaps brain cells are beginning to form once more. And so, with a renewed sense of purpose, I focus my attention on the bits and pieces amassed at the west end.

“Wait a minute, my lace tablecloth….” As if draped by a decorator, the cloth has come to a perfect point on the floor. “How strange, it seems to be pointing to the plant.” Soon, like a jolt from a super-sized espresso, I’m alert and scrutinizing the tablecloth, the shattered glass and other remnants scattered about.

No, I see. It’s pointing to…

Bending down, “What?” I ask, quizzing any imp that might want to play.

Making little worried “wookie sounds,” Tiggi jumps off the futon and wriggles around like a bunny. She’s now sniffing my hand and the shiny object at the tip of the tablecloth.

I pick it up. “Hey, it’s a coin!” I say, tossing it in the air. The Tig rears back on her hind legs, ready to go for it. (Sometimes I don’t think she’s a cat; more like a cross between a dog and a rabbit, a dabbit?) Still, I’m taller of course, so I catch the coin before Tiggi can possibly reach it. The poor thing mews disconsolately. I’ll have to give her a big treat tonight.

“Good girl for trying!” I say.

Now I must have a look at this coin, so I take off my glasses and set them down. Oddly, I can see things better if I put them up to my face.

So, where did it come from, hmmm? I stoop down to examine my find. The Tig zeroes in like Watson nosing the prize, as if she can determine its value in a couple of sniffs.

“The markings are strange.” I must sit down and look at both sides.

“Oh, wow! There’s no date on it.”

I pick up my glasses and put them on. “Well, it’s not a quarter.”

A few days ago, I had dusted all the knickknacks and sundries setting on the dining room table. And one thing I know for sure, I have never seen a coin like this before. I tap the piece on the table and put it in my purse. Soon, I come to a rather strange but obvious conclusion:

“This coin bears no date. It would never spend.”

Hey Max, what just happened here?


Post Script 1

The day I left for England, I received the answer to this puzzling question. Yet, because of what Max used to do when he was alive, I realize now that I should have figured it out sooner – much sooner. The answer is contained in a poem I wrote entitled, “A Shining Piece of Silver,” published in our book, For the Time Being, (Authorhouse, 2007). I wrote it in a style reminiscent of one of my favorite periods, the Victorian Era:

A Shining Piece of Silver

Gath’ring up my courage with my clothing
For a voyage I knew that I must take
All purpose had died along with you, dear,
Oh Lord, it was a time I couldn’t shake.

Packing jewelry, thinking and rememb’ring
My wedding ring you carried to your grave,
When before me, a quaking at the table
And the tablecloth flew off with a wave!

Before I knew it, clutter crashed on ceramic ~
Books and orchids, my lovely purple vase.
“This can’t be happ’ning!” I said in sheer amazement,
Then sat and stared at the remnants, in a daze.

Befuddled, I picked up all the pieces,
And the tablecloth that was so elegant,
Lay pointing to a shining piece of silver
Hidden shyly beneath a blooming plant.

Perplexed, I sat down with the silver
Not knowing from where the coin had come.
I studied that shining piece of silver
Most certain it wasn’t from that room!

So simple, it looked just like a quarter,
But it wasn’t ~ the coin was something else!
I shook my head, returning to my business,
And slipped the piece safely in my purse.

The day arrived when I’d venture on my journey
And a thunderbolt hit me through and through ~
I locked the door, keys landing on the silver,
And remembered something that you used to do.

“You’re trav’ling, my sweetheart,” you would tell me,
“And to ensure that there is no blasted curse,
Take this coin along with you on your journey
And keep it tucked away inside your purse.”

“And when you’re weary and your trip is over,
Fly back to me and I will see you through,
But don’t leave behind this little piece of silver;
It will guarantee that I’ll be seeing you.”

‘Though we’re parted and you’re so far away now,
I keep your silver coin tucked away inside
To remind me, again, we will be meeting
When my journey takes me to the Other Side.


Mandy Berlin


Journal Entry
Sunday 08/08/2004
Around 6:30 a.m.

In a twilight sleep, I found myself weaving in and out of the dream state as Allie purred and curled up in the crook of my arm.


Out of the blue, my eyelids start to quiver and blink. I try to hold them but soon give up because I’m unable to control this curious movement. Then, at once, I find myself staring at two silvery-blue balloons that look like butterfly wings, or perhaps the wings of a bird, yet way overblown. Suddenly, the being plummets from a white ceiling fan that is, in reality, nowhere in the room. Abruptly, he freezes, a tightwire artist in midair! Radiant light shines a spotlight on the creature as he descends in slow motion. Now I hear the whirring sounds again (see Journal Entry dated 8/6). His enormous wings flap and swoop down as if he’s coming to raise me up, to be a partner in his dazzling aerial show. Strangely, I’m not afraid. I am bowled over by a stunning array of silvers and cobalt blues – an incandescent peacock flitting right before me.

Then the awesome being flaps his wings, working them into a deafening thunder, and at last, begins his ascent. I shout, “Yes, you are here!” but I’m thinking, don’t go, take me up there with you!

Still sensing traces of his vibration, feeling very much at peace, I slip into a deep and abiding sleep.

Post Script

I am blown away by the beauty and wonder of the visions and dreams I’ve been having of late. This morning’s vision was clear, lending a compelling sense of realism to an otherwise unfathomable exhibition. Were my eyes open when the being appeared? I don’t know for sure, but I do believe they were, though they were quivering at first. The room looked the same except for the presence of the ceiling fan, the bright light, and the phenomenal creature, whether bird, butterfly, or spirit being.


Journal Entry
Friday 08/06/2004
Around 6:30 a.m.

This morning on awakening, I hear a loud whirring sound in my right ear. The humming gradually softens, as if descending… then turns strident, ascending… and softens again (decrescendo… crescendo… decrescendo….). This reverberating hum lasts about a minute, if not hours. Now in a synchronous state of mind, I close my eyes and merge with the boundless stream of consciousness.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Mandy’s Journal Entry
Tuesday 07/20/2004
Around 6:45 a.m.

Standing in the bathroom, I’m talking to Max as I sometimes do while getting ready for work. After all, who is there to listen to me besides my two little ladies? Perched in the hall are my cats, gawking at me now. Their little ears flick with each inflection. Nattering on, I pat on some blush and dry my hair. Then, I turn off the dryer and set it down on the counter. But as I brush back my hair, at once, I hear the word “Beautiful!” full-bodied as it can be, causing me to turn around and really look.

You see, when Max was here, “Beautiful” had become a standing joke between us. Sometimes when we got ready to go out for the evening, he would lean up against the bathroom door and watch me fix my hair. Then, as I’d finish getting ready, he’d peek in and say, “Beautiful!”

“Max,” I’d smile, and we’d smooch or something.

At other times when I was getting ready, Max would walk by and say, “Beautiful!” in passing. When this happened, I’d peer into the hall, and say, “Oh, you’re just saying that to get me to move faster” ~ as in, hey you look fine, but let’s get going!

Still, he seemed sincere. Sweet moments held forever in memory, forever in time….

So I’m standing in the bathroom looking in the mirror, brushing the same spot over and over again. And, from nowhere, again comes that high-spirited sound, “Beautiful!” like an echo through time immemorial.

I brood at the mirror, staring at the woman who is scratching her forehead, staring back at me. Is this just another one of those memories, a fond recollection of a time gone by?

Or am I “hearing” his thoughts?

So I set my brush down and stand very still, close my eyes and breathe like I do when I go into a meditative state.

“Max, are you here?” I ask aloud.

Then, focusing more, I say, “Hey, if you’re here Darling, would you give me a sign?”

I put on my lipstick and start to laugh, “You know, I remember the time….”

In an instant, whoosh, the hair dryer begins to blow, like all by itself! It’s moving all over the counter. I’m amazed it doesn’t fall on the floor. Aghast, I let out a blood-curdling scream and jump back as if it’s a Gila monster about to devour me! (By this time, the cats have vacated the premises.)

The Lizard rages on and on.

Then, just as astoundingly, it stops.

Yep, the hair dryer turned itself OFF, or so it appeared. I never touched the thing, I promise.

Stunned, I sat down on the toilet seat and tried to comprehend what had just happened. Needless to say, I had a bit of trouble getting to work on time. I was just a little freaked out.

Post Script 1

Since Max died, my hair dryer had turned itself ON a number of times (four, I think) without my intervention. This is strange in itself because it never happened before he died. What is more, the hair dryer had never turned OFF without my first switching it off ~ not until today, that is.

Of course, I had to be sure my hair dryer was still working. So, as I continued getting ready for my proverbial job (if, indeed, I still had one) I decided to test the contraption:

I turn the switch ON. No hesitation there; the dryer starts as usual and blows with as much force as ever. Then I flip the switch to the OFF position; no problems there either. The dryer stops as it should. Then, to be sure, I flip the switch several times in succession to find that my hair dryer is still working quite well. No problems at all.

Yes, my hair dryer had turned ON by itself several times in the past. And yes, this time it stopped (clicked to the OFF position) without my ever touching it ~ certainly something new and out-of-the-ordinary there. But I’m still overlooking something. What is the missing link? Hmmm…. I need another cup of coffee, but I don’t go get it. Instead, I go back to the toilet seat to collect my thoughts and pull at caked-on mascara.

Then, as I breathe and pull, the answer comes: Bingo! Oh wow, I can’t believe it. The dryer turned itself ON right after I asked for a response.

“Darling, would you give me a sign?” No more than seconds later, The Lizard goes Whoosh…. The hair dryer comes ON!

Pattern: Stimulus ~ Response ~ Contiguous in time

Post Script 2

Was this hair dryer affair just another fluke ~ another coincidence within an inordinately large series of coincidences and bizarre happenstances? I don’t think so.

In light of the fact that I have determined I have a fully functioning hair dryer:

The ON signal which arrived within seconds of my verbal request as well as the hair dryer turning OFF without any human intervention whatsoever ~ both phenomena, which occurred contiguous in time ~ suggest the involvement of a higher intelligence.

There comes a time when one must concede there is more going on than meets the eye.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Journal Entry
Thursday 06/03/2004
Around 7:30 p.m.
Full Moon

After an inane day at the office, I tossed my purse on the living room floor and collapsed on the couch.

Though I hadn’t planned to meditate, I soon find myself slipping into a meditative state of mind. And from nowhere, a figure begins to form to my right. Out of the blue, I feel a gentle pressure on my hand, as if Max would have a corporeal hand to offer me.

“Max,” I smile and say, “you seem to be doing well.” On a subliminal level, I know he is in good hands… now that he’s beyond mine.

Closing my eyes, I catch “the eye” now starting to form in my field of view, just as it had before (see journal entry 2/27). It is vivid, large and pixel-like. I do not know where this eye comes from or what is causing it to appear, but I call it my “ethereal eye,” my window into uncharted territory.

The eye blinks ceaselessly. I look on in awe. Then, without warning, “poof” it evaporates! Light trails of “pixel powder” shimmer and scatter like particles of dust into a burgundy night.


Post Script

I have been wondering what is causing the eye to show up. Sometimes I think maybe it’s Max winking at me. After all, tonight he made his appearance just before the eye materialized. I don’t mean to sound facetious. Of course, it is possible that something in my mind or brain may be triggering this visualization. Nevertheless, I need to find out more about the eye and what is causing it to “appear” when my eyes are closed. Is this a mental image or is it a physical phenomenon, set off somehow by the neurons of the brain? Or is it something else entirely? If it is mental, am I receiving the image through some kind of telepathic signal (by means of electrical input frequencies) or is my mind manifesting the whole scenario? Also, what causes the perceived movement of the eye?

I haven’t even mentioned the full moon. It is common knowledge that the moon and various planetary conditions affect the tides in measured ways. Some studies have even found a correlation between lunar phasing and the number of visits to emergency rooms, for example. However, this research tends to be inconclusive. In the general sense, then, the moon may affect behavior, wellness or illness in some way that has not been fully examined.

In light of the fact that today’s event happened on the night of the full moon, what can of worms would this open up?

It’s obvious I have more questions than answers about the ethereal eye. The possibilities appear to be endless. I plan to do some research on this matter as soon as I figure out where to begin.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


My dear step-father, Joseph, passed away on June 3rd of a long-term illness. You will find his picture in the photo section at the bottom of my blog. In memory of Joe, I am posting “The Garden,” a poem I had written under my married name. This poem was first published in our family memoir, For the Time Being (Authorhouse, 2007).

Faithfully yours,
Mandy Berlin



You found me crying in the garden for my sweet one who went away

His spirit's rising on the wind now, to greet the newness of the Day.

His sadness drops away like petals falling on a sparrow's nest

His joy is in the little creatures I hold so dearly to my breast.

His laughter's in the morning sunshine that lights my path along the way

His heart is hiding in the wildflowers I gather tenderly today.

His soul is searching for the New World, a world I have as yet to see

May his spirit find refreshment in some sweet river flowing free.

May the dove of peace alight now, on his shoulder on the way

May he pick the fruit of New Life to give him nourishment each day.

May he find his truest freedom in the World that lies beyond

And may his spirit lie in peace now until we meet again, at Dawn.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


A Note from the Author: long after the bizarre "book-flying" phenomenon occurred, I performed a proper statistical analysis of this real event with amazing results, i.e., way beyond statistical significance! Although the numbers have not been included here in my blog, the statistical analysis, results, interpretation, and review of this 5/8 phenomenon will be included in my upcoming book, The Hope and the Knowing. I promise!

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the story, below, upon which the analysis was based.

Yours very truly,
Mandy Berlin
Writer and Statistical Consultant of 24 years

Journal Entry
Saturday 05/08/2004
Around 4:00 p.m.

I had such success with my last meditation that I decided to do it again. Better not wait too long, I thought, or I might lose some je ne c’est qua – whatever I’d already learned how to do. So I returned to Sylvia’s CD as discussed in my May 1st entry. Based on Ms. Browne’s guidelines, I decided to use my meditation time to find out what I could, or perhaps should be doing with my life right now.

But first, to underscore the upshot of today’s incredible event so it makes sense to the least and most circumspect alike, I must first backtrack and tell you a bit about my lifelong situation.

As a youngster, my IQ tests revealed above average ability in the Mechanical Domain. In spite of that, I must say that I have no experience with anything of a mechanical nature. In fact, it is probably closer to the truth to say that I have no desire to work on anything mechanical like changing an oil filter or even installing kitchen drawer handles. That is, I could do it, but would I? Probably not.

Zero patience, you see.

I admit one of the few mechanical things I’ve taken any time to do is to pummel nails into walls. I enjoy hanging pictures so, out of necessity, had to learn how to wield a hammer. Such as it goes…. I won’t tell you what Max had to say about my veteran hammering skills.

Taking into account this factor alone, I knew I had married the complementary man for me – the one and only Max Blau – a guy who liked puttering around the house, repairing cars, troubleshooting computer systems, fixing electronic equipment… you get the picture. To beat all, Max whistled while he worked. Maybe I liked that most of all. And when you consider his intellect and a bunch of the other traits he possessed, well it didn’t take long for this girl to fall in love.

Perhaps you can see that there were other losses that accompanied the greatest loss of all – the loss of my dear friend and husband.

Now, to add insult to inconceivable injury, this woman who is admittedly all thumbs, owns a home she is unprepared to maintain. Common widow’s lament? I do believe, though it was probably a more frequent cry in my mother’s day. As a group, the women of today are probably more proficient at repairing almost any broken contraption they encounter… cars, computers, perhaps even cranes. (Admittedly though, that would scare me to death!)

Now I find myself just “getting by” when it comes to doing anything mechanical. Sure, I change light bulbs and last month I broke down and installed a new air filter. I even did some patch painting. Hey, really something there. But when the toilet broke, well, that’s when I said, “Okay, time to find that handyman coupon in the kitchen drawer...”

Of course I used it, with no compunction at all.

Well, after hearing this pitiful bit of history, you might think today’s event is not that big a deal. But I will tell you this, it freaked me out. Even as I go back and edit my entry, I tell you:
I am still freaked!


I’m able to offer no natural nor scientific explanation for what happened at about four in the afternoon. I was sitting on the sofa, going into my meditation, breathing in and out, and following Ms. Browne’s instructions. Before long, I drifted into a kind of meditative stupor – that wonderful, harmonious state of relaxation and bliss. Then, several minutes later, with Sylvia’s promptings, I popped my intended question: I’d like to know what I ought to be doing with my life right now – what should I focus on?

Thoughts and images swirled around in my head – perhaps I’ll go to a day spa, or even get a new job, or write another book, or travel to England or Egypt… Eyes closed, feeling relaxed and free, I continued with the deep-breathing process.

Yet, never in my life did I expect to get a response so quickly… so outrageously.


No more than about ten seconds after I pose my question, I begin to hear just audible noises rising up in the background. At first, I think the sounds are coming from Sylvia’s recording. I feel composed, in control, breathing in and out as images of the pyramids float around in my head….

Then, without warning, comes a long, low series of rumbles that build into a crescendo, like a fine drum roll gone wild. Out of the blue, I hear it TRIP, THUD and POP into a thunderous BOOM!!!! Chills whisk at the back of my neck like icy fingers. “It’s in the dining room!” I scream. Jumping up, I run like a fool… no place to go… nowhere to hide. “What am I doing? I have no clue!”

Still, curiosity soon gains momentum like a colossal cat sitting on a fencepost on a moonlit night… overshadowing all my fears. Nose pressed up against the front door, I whip around and storm like a half-crazed sprinter into the dining room.

Skidding on slick ceramic, I stop short at last.

“Whut the heck?” For there, in the middle of my dining room floor “sits” a book long since abandoned. No, the tome is not “setting” on the floor, it’s “sitting” there as if it owns the property, as if it’s saying: Now that I have your undivided attention, Madam ~~ TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT ME !

I stand speechless, rapt in disbelief as an awesome reality becomes apparent. For, in less time than you can say whiz-bang, I know that this book did not just “fall off” the shelf.

Humor me. Allow me to explain how I know this and to reveal what it implies.

I had never read the book that is “staring up” at me from its Machiavellian place on the floor. But I do remember that about seven or eight years ago, Max read quite a bit of it. He said he found it very practical for his work and hobbies as well. Regardless, I never even looked at the book, except to check out the Table of Contents. And after reviewing that, well, I had no desire to read it at all. So I dusted it off and put it on the bottom shelf. “For future reference,” I said.

And I forgot all about it.

Now I see that the books on the bottom shelf are, of course, tilting into the slot where I’d placed the forgotten volume so long ago. And, as I move and breathe, I realize the book was ejected by force – by some energy that caused the popping and booming sounds as the book “flew” off the shelf. You see, I found it in the middle of the dining room floor, over three and a half ceramic tiles away from the bookcase!

I surmised that if the book had simply “fallen” off the bottom shelf, which is three inches from the floor, it would have landed near the bookcase, i.e., closer to the empty slot. But the book did not land anywhere near the shelf. In fact, this tome appears to have ”flown” across the room, after having been expelled from the bookcase by some inexorable force – a force powerful enough to generate all the weird and wacky noises I heard from the time of the rumble until the book hit the tile floor!

One thing I can say for sure: no earthquake, tremor, thunderstorm, tidal wave, monsoon, or automobile accident occurred anywhere near my home today, and my cats were sunning themselves in the back bedroom at the time. That is, no creature nor human (not even me) had been anywhere near my dining room when the book flew off the shelf. I should qualify that by saying: “… no ‘one’ or ‘thing’ that I was able to detect in a visible way.”

So, what is the name of this dilapidated old book?

How to Fix Damn Near Everything *

I just stood there, stunned, afraid to pick it up. Nevertheless, I soon heard a voice, the one in my head: makes sense… of course… my God. And, as the title of the book registered in my brain, I did the only thing any rational human being could do. I got down on the floor and doubled up, tears of laughter streaming down my cheeks.

Never did I believe what Max used to say when something mystifyingly funny would happen. “Mandy, God is a joker,” he’d cry, sometimes with a little tear of joy in his eye. Though I’d often laugh with him because of his delight and passion for the weird and wonderful, I held no conceivable archetype of my own.

I just didn’t believe it.

Until now.


* Franklin Peterson, How to Fix Damn Near Everything (New York: Wings Books, 1977).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Journal Entry
Saturday, 05/01/04
Around 4 p.m.

I can’t seem to recall the date this wonderful event occurred, but I believe it was on or around May 1st. I know it happened at about four o’clock because I usually meditate around that time of day, at least when I’m home. I’d been meditating a lot the past month and plan to continue with this practice. The deep breathing clears my mind, tends to alleviate grief, and in consequence, helps me sleep. Because of a health issue, I did some research and learned that meditation is a great way to retain the health we have or to return an ailing body, mind and spirit to healing mode.

Mandy’s motto: an ounce of prevention is worth a shot. So I ordered more meditation CDs; so happy to find they arrived on time for the weekend.

Well, after doing the Saturday chores, I glanced down at the mystifying stack of disks I’d arranged on the end table. Hmmm, I thought, let’s try this one, “Spirit Guide Meditation” by Sylvia Browne. I’ve never attempted to contact a spirit guide,” I said to Tiggi, my tiger-striped confidante. “So what have I got to lose?”

“Maybe I’ll learn something!” Swiftly, Tiggi’s tail shot up and curled in approval.


So I sit up straight on the sofa and attempt to keep my feet flat on the floor. Soon, with Ms. Browne’s recorded guidance, I slip into the deep-breathing process of meditation and begin to feel pretty relaxed. Sylvia then calls to mind several pathways that I’m now visualizing in my mind’s eye: a lovely field, a gazebo, and so on.

Before long, I’m slipping away and I hear her say that it is time to make my request.

So I clear my throat. “Okay, here goes….”

I say it aloud with confidence. “What is the name of my spirit guide?” For some reason, I believe I will have to wait awhile. Not so….

For truly, no more than a few seconds elapse when I am thunderstruck to find the colors shifting in my field of view. Waves of violet, green and gold surge before my closed eyes. Then, at once, I hear a gentle voice as clear as the crystal chimes ringing on my patio! There is no mistaking his name:

“Charlemagne!” he says.


Please note: During my meditation, I learned that Charlemagne is my spirit guide. In addition, I received some more interesting information: Charlemagne is a spirit entity not to be confused with Charles the Great, the Frankish king of old. At the end of this session, I became infused with the knowledge that my spirit guide and King Charles are not related in any way.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Taking a break from my 2004 journal entries, I stop to pay homage to the Supermoon, at its peak (in terms of perigee and syzygy) on March 19th. Then, the unexpected….

Saturday 3/19/11
10:17 p.m.

I’m gazing at the aptly named “Supermoon” from my dining room window on the east end of the house. Its wide, hazy ring holds such a mystical quality my breath catches in my throat.

Captured, at last I shout, “The moon is so close to me, Max!”

And, in less than a twinkling, I “hear” the words, As am I….
I turn as if I might actually find the face of the one I knew so well, all lit up in “moonglow.” But all I find is Tiggi, curled up in the wicker chair behind me. Now she’s bleating like a newborn goat.

“Oh sweetie, of course you are important to me, don’t you know?” I pick her up as wisps of fur tickle my mouth and nose. Blowing it away, I stroke her behind the ears and a familiar verse begins to echo through the nooks and crannies of my brain.

What was it?

Oh yes…

… a poem I’d written not long after Max had left our earthly plane.

Unlikely Triad

The moon is my connection
as fading summer's eve mystifies

The moon holds my reflection --
in shallow pools of silt, I see the eye

While autumnal gatherings ensue,
I drift by scattered leaves to find the muse.

The moon is my redemption,
though drear the winter days without your sigh

The moon holds my attention
as vagrant thoughts and melodies arise

Until the spring's renewal sets them free,
the moon is my connection with Thee.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Winking Eye and Untangled Necklace

Journal Entry
Friday 02/27/2004
Around 7:00 a.m.

Half asleep, I found a pixel-like eye “winking” at me. Strange, I’ve never seen anything like it – an eye winking while my eyes are closed. What’s this about?

Even so, my mind is drifting and I begin to wonder if one eye winks or if it actually blinks.*

Suddenly, I open my eyes and look around. Oh, it’s too early in the morning for this.

“After all, it’s Friday, and I have to go to work. So let’s get on with it.”

After some toast and a shot of café au lait, I return to the knots in the necklace I’d planned to wear today. Due to another riotous week at the office, my eyelids had begun to “clamp shut” way early the night before. And as I continued to work on the knotty (naughty) necklace, my head began to bob like a buoy lost at sea. Thus, it wasn’t long before Magoo tossed the wicked chain on the coffee table. “Ach, no luck there.”

Oh well, I’ll try again tomorrow.


So I put my mug down on the coffee table and pick up the necklace, only to find something startling if not downright impossible: for the chain is smooth. But soon I feel a lump… the one in my throat as I say to the walls, “Wow, all the knots are gone.”

This is just plain weird. Before I went to bed last night, I was sure the chain had several tangles in it because, despite the ensuing delirium, I struggled for almost an hour to remove them… to no avail. Sure I was frustrated, I couldn’t even get one knot out!

Now beyond baffled, I turn the necklace around in my hands and start to wonder: Could those little knots have come undone as I tossed the chain on the table?

Well, I suppose one tangle might have worked its way out, but several?

Nah, no way. Flopping down on the sofa, I sigh remembering how I used to leave my jewelry for Max – right there on the coffee table. He had a knack for getting the kinks out of almost anything. In fact, he just seemed to enjoy the challenge of fixing things and would have most any kinky piece ready in a snap.

Well, we must have been a match of sorts because I was always finding things for him to fix… week after week. Yet, he never seemed to mind.


Hey guy, I hope my smiles said something about how I felt when you fixed my jewelry. But just in case, I want to say thanks, hon… not only for being so adept at repairs, but because you never seemed to lose your enthusiasm in doing things for me… year after year… after year.


*Reminds me of the “sound of one hand clapping.” Does one eye wink or does it blink? I leave this madcap question for the reader to sort out.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Max "Curls Up" with Mandy

Journal Entry

I labeled this journal entry “01/xx” because, when so many wild and curious events began to take place, I hadn’t been keeping a record of everything. I do remember, though, that when the following event happened, I’d been meditating a lot – praying for peace, fortitude, knowledge and understanding.

And so, right around this time, I’m lying on the sofa when out of the blue, I get the sense that my husband, now a disembodied spirit, is curling up around me. I am barely awake. Even so, I’m able to discern powerful thought-forms and emotions surging toward me in waves. I doubt this will make much sense to anyone, but this is the only way I can describe it: I can hardly hear Max’s voice as if it is light years away, yet I distinctly hear him cry out, “M-a-n-d-y, I love you! Mandy, I love you!”

Then, without forethought and certainly without any effort, I find myself screaming, “Max, Max! I love you too!”

“Where are you? I mean, I feel you, but where are you?”

Then, I hear him say, “Mandy...” but I am unable to hear the rest of his words. Like the blips from a bad radio signal, his sound simply fades into a hum… then nothing. And as his voice drifts away, so does his being.

Still, I do not feel alone or empty, and I glide into a bottomless sleep.


These incredibly heartfelt, if not impassioned moments happened about four or five times over a three-week period. Nevertheless, I am at a loss because I cannot fully comprehend what took place. But in light of all that has happened since December of 2003, I decided to try to capture and make note of these beautifully compelling thoughts and feelings coming through to me. Sometimes the forms arrive as symbols and visual patterns, sometimes as emotions, and other times as words of the English language – all having Max’s unique, resonant quality.

Regardless, my words do not and never will do justice to these overpowering experiences.


Post Script

As the receiver and object of the above thoughts and feelings (in essence, a part and parcel of the not-so-scientific study at hand), I am unable to verify what I have seen or heard. Nevertheless, I do not believe these visions, sounds and sentiments are coming from me, i.e., solely from my mind. In general, this puts me into the dubious category of “object” of the event in question.

Is Max, then, the subject? It would seem so. However, some would say that I am the subject and object as well, i.e., the only “creature” playing a part in the entire scenario. Apart from any commentary at large, I find that as these sounds, sights and sentiments arrive in my field of consciousness, they appear to be extraneous to my being. They are “flying” toward me in what I can only describe as shock waves, soft yet loud – another contradiction – at least on the surface. These waves are filled with an intense energy (or perhaps a consciousness) of their own.

Forgive me. It is difficult to talk about these notions in any humanly intelligible way, but I do hope you will bear with me. It is my best effort at explaining such awe-inspiring yet incomprehensible encounters.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mandy's Prayer is Answered -- in Less Than 24 Hours

Journal Entry
Saturday 2/21/2004
New Moon
Early Afternoon

In light of the prayer I said last night, what happened today was truly extraordinary. Still, it shouldn’t be so surprising if we believe that our prayers are answered.


“The remote’s broken,” I said while attempting to change the channel. “Nothing’s happening!”

Hmmm… becoming a familiar scenario, isn’t it?

All right… okay… let’s check the batteries. Finally, I got off my duff and went to the garage. Let’s see, where did Max put the battery pack? Rummage… grope… fumble fumble…. not here I take it.

Before long, I ambled my way to the kitchen to look in the hutch by the phone. Well, after tossing out some junk at the top of the pile, I spotted something. “Yay, a whole pack of double As!” I hollered like an anthropology student on her first dig.

Regardless, I didn’t stop there; course not. You see, whenever Mandy finds a pile of stuff, she has to poke around till she hits bottom. Hmmm, what’s this? And there, underneath the batteries like a lost pup, was the handheld recorder Max used to keep in his pocket. I chuckled remembering how he liked to tape his project notes and other vagrant thoughts while sitting in traffic; a great way to make the most of otherwise wasted time.

But I wondered if the old machine still worked. Soon to find out…. I jerked the contraption out from under the rubble. It’s a wonder I didn’t break the darned thing.


Fumbling around, I finally notice something. “Geez, there’s a tape in it,” I holler, as if my mother were still around. So, I set it on the counter, press “Play” and turn it up full-blast.

No sound… nada.

Okay, maybe it’s reading the end. So I rewind the thing and press “Play” again.

In order to maintain some semblance of patience, I sit back on the barstool and tap… tap… tap. It’s like a day goes by.

At last, a buzz… a treasure unearthed from a time gone by as I perceive a familiar timbre. Sitting up, I say, “Man, it’s Max.” Like a small child who’s just opened her first Christmas gift, I’m in total awe. The recording may have been made back when, but this is happening now, for me. I brush back a tear because the tiny ribbon has captured the character and tone of Max’s voice so beautifully. It’s like he’s here right now, talking to me. Bowled over by his words and thoughts, I’m powerless to keep the water from my eyes; so I just let it flow.

From the start, I’d been amazed at the nature and depth of Max’s ideas. His tendency to “think outside the box” had a way of defying time-tested notions – catching people off guard, testing me all the time, and sometimes even inciting me to riot. We had so many heated (yet fun and thought-provoking) debates. I think one of Max’s primary purposes here on earth was to challenge people. And that he did, but in a rewarding way. After sitting down to dinner with Max, you went home with more than you came; a thought, a feeling, insight into something new, perhaps even a totally different reality to ponder. I can truly say no one ever left our table indifferent.

The recording ends. I eject the tape and try to drum up a title. “Hmmm, I’ve got it,” and with a felt tip pen, print the words:

On Art and Life: The Philosophy of Max Blau

I’ll keep this tape forever, Max.


But I must remember to make copies for our friends, so I scribble a note and pin it up on the board in the kitchen. Then, as if he can hear me, I say, “Hey, I hope you don’t mind, I titled your tape.”

You see, Max never titled any of his work unless his employer requested it. He even disliked borders or frames around works of art. Guess that’s another way he thought outside the box. In fact, Max reviled titles, labels and limitations of almost any kind, just as he despised the way people are often labeled.

In short, Max was my hero. But how could you possibly tell?


As the last rays of a blazing sun reflected off the patio chimes and onto the living room rug, I sat cross-legged on the floor and replayed the tape. It relaxed me to hear Max’s calm voice and his amazing views on life. And as the glittering lights danced on the blue rug, I listened to the tape again and again. Before long, day turned to dusk and with a wrinkled sleeve, I wiped the salty crust from my face. “High time for a nap,” I said, gaping and lifting my arm just enough to pull down a pillow. Then, before you could say short circuit, I slipped into a stupor.

Hours later, I awoke to patio chimes proclaiming another blustery night. And, as I got up and watched the cut glass flicker in the light, this way and that, it dawned on me that Max’s tape had seriously – if not joyfully – diverted me from my noontime plans. So I pulled up the remote and installed the new batteries, at last. Then, reverting to the channel surfing of yesteryear, I did a little test.

“Okay, everything’s working fine. Just needed batteries, that’s all.”


Humor has a way of relaxing me. So I dial around in search of a sit-com before bedtime. After all, it’s Saturday night. Yet, despite my desire for a little lighthearted entertainment, thoughts of the day capture my mind like an old time movie. Soon I realize that I don’t need a TV set at all – the show that’s burning my brain has me rapt.

One by one, the events of the day materialize like pictures moving in string formation. And what they reveal is astounding:

1. The remote control is broken

2. But is it broken or are the batteries dead?

3. I search for batteries in the garage and hutch

4. Finally, I find an unopened pack of batteries in the hutch

5. Now I find Max’s tape recorder, buried just underneath the batteries

6. Then, to my amazement, a tape of Max’s voice is still in the machine

Ironically, in the formlessness of the dark, the undeniable sequence of events unfolds, shedding light on an unseen reality. Like a flying portrait, “The Big Picture” virtually hits me in the back of the head.

“Oh my God,” I cry, looking up at the ceiling – like I can view The Man. “How did I not get it?” I ask, arms outstretched. “How could I not see?"

Last night I prayed to hear Max’s voice. And, in less than twenty-four hours, You answered my prayer.

Mandy's Prayer to Hear Max

Journal Entry
Friday 02/20/2004
New Moon

Despite all the incredible happenings that have given me hope, I realized I am missing Max again. For one thing, I miss his voice – the one I heard on New Year’s Day, nine days after he died.

Tonight I prayed to hear him again. “Forgive me,” I said. “I hope it isn’t wrong to ask for such a thing. Will You please let me know?”

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tessie's Awe-Inspiring Vision of Max

Journal Entry
On or Around 02/02/2004
Time unknown

Tessie, our dear friend, phoned me and told me something incredible. She had been daydreaming in her room when Max appeared to her in a vision. She said she was awake when it happened, rather than simply seeing him in a dream.

Tessie said Max appeared to be young, perhaps about eighteen years of age. His hair was longer than usual and rather wavy. She told me he seemed euphoric, marching back and forth with what looked like a long pole that he would sometimes twirl and tap on the (seeming) ground as they talked. He wore a white shirt and a pair of blue shorts that looked perhaps like a uniform –clothing Max might wear for school sports like field hockey or soccer.

Before Tessie’s remarkable vision faded, she said that Max told her adamantly, and I quote:
Remember what the dormouse said,

Max’s words have apparently been taken right from the song, “White Rabbit” (Slick, 1967). Note that Jefferson Airplane’s name was subsequently changed to Jefferson Starship.

The reader might wish to try and translate Max’s intended meaning. I decided to take a stab at it in my Post Script.


Post Script

To my mind, when Max quoted Gracie Slick’s awesome phrase, “Feed your head,” he meant that while we are here, we ought to be reading, learning and expanding our minds. Of course, there is the drug culture innuendo and all the implications that can be derived from the “White Rabbit” lyrics. One could probably write a treatise on this song alone, not to mention Lewis Carroll’s wonderful work (Carroll, 1898).


Not long after hearing Tessie’s account, just for fun I called Max’s brother, Mark. Did he happen to remember his school colors? “Why, they were dark blue and light blue,” he said. (Of course, Max’s colors were the same.) I then realized the blue shorts Tessie saw in her vision do not contradict Mark’s statement, and that the clothing appears to be part of a school uniform.

Another interesting note: out of the blue, I remembered that Max and Mark had each held the Wellington School record for Javelin Throw, Mark’s in earlier years. In fact, Max seldom hesitated to remind me he had topped his brother’s record around 1969 or ’70. Both brothers had learned how to throw spears from the proper source – the boys of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. They played games with the young Rhodesian lads when they were just tykes themselves. What better way to learn?

Could the long pole in Tessie’s vision that Max sported so proudly have been a javelin? I mean, an “intended javelin”, as in Max’s communication to Tessie?

Tessie knew about none of the above facts until I phoned her later. She sounded surprised and delighted to hear about Max’s javelin throwing record and his school colors. These details also tend to provide validation for her vision. Regardless, I believed Tessie’s account from the start. As a good friend, I knew she would have no reason to tell me a yarn, knowing how serious I am about the writing of my journal and the accurate recording of narratives.

Above all, isn’t it fantastic that Tessie received corroborating evidence for something as ethereal as a vision?


1. Slick, G. (1967). White Rabbit [Jefferson Airplane] On Surrealistic Pillow [Record]. Hollywood: RCA Victor. (1966)

2. Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, illustrated by John Tenniel, (London: MacMillan and Co., Ltd., New York: The MacMillan Company, 1898).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What is The Hope and the Knowing?

The Hope and the Knowing is an upcoming book written by Mandy Berlin. Her journal manuscript contains a chronological account of paranormal and supernatural happenings which began just hours after the death of Max Blau, the author’s husband. Along with the mind-blowing and sometimes miraculous events witnessed by the author, she details a number of bizarre and inexplicable occurrences reported to her by mutual friends and loved ones dear to Max. Ms. Berlin, a former agnostic and research scientist, has kept a fastidious and comprehensive account of episodic data. She refers to a phenomenon as an event, beginning with those that happened the night of Max’s departure, December 23, 2003, and ending with the incredible event that occurred on the first anniversary of his death.

Through research and review conducted after the occurrences of these uncanny activities, Ms. Berlin learned that the phenomena she and her cohorts observed, heard or perceived tended to cluster qualitatively into a number of classes. These categories include but are not limited to: the physical movement of objects in and around rooms; numinous dreams; apparitions and other spirit encounters; synchronicities; automatic writing; the movement of rare coins; object alteration; electrical demonstrations and electrical breakdowns; third eye phenomena; spirit communications received through clairvoyance, clairaudience and clairsentience; astral travel; guide communications; validation of an event through event repetition; and the discovery of validating written records after the occurrence of the significant event. The writer examines these and other topics in the sections that follow key events. These sections, labeled Post Scripts, are reserved for post-event research and review where she offers explanations and an interpretation of the event in question.

Although the time frame of Ms. Berlin’s book is December of 2003 through 2004, the paranormal, supernatural and synchronistic happenings have gone far beyond the boundaries of one journal year. Surprisingly, the rate of occurrence increased in 2005 and 2006, especially with respect to synchronistic activities. She attributes this fact, in part, to an increased focus on event recording over time. The author believes she lost track of some of the paranormal happenings just after her husband died, because she either misplaced her notes or neglected to record them in the face of such awesome activity. Although Mandy’s incredible encounters with Max have not been as frequent as in the early years, they do happen from time to time, notably on special occasions. For this reason, she has staunchly continued to document rare and unusual events, even into the year 2010.

Author’s note: To protect my friends, loved ones and colleagues, I have changed their names in my forthcoming journal. However, I assure you that no character nor story in this book is fictitious. Each and every incident documented in The Hope and the Knowing is true to the best of my ability to capture and record the quintessence of a phenomenological event.


Journal Entry
Thursday 01/22/2004
Around 6:00 a.m.

Wow, the “toaster trick” happened again.

Since Max left us, our toaster has been acting up – “behaving” quite strangely I must say. How else can I put it? You see, on some mornings when I fix my breakfast – coffee, cereal and a slice of toast – the toast pops up and stays in the toaster. (I imagine that this is the normal situation for most people.) Yet, about two or three times a week now, I’ve noticed that amazingly the toast pops up, flies into the air and lands right on top of the toaster.

One time, the toast “missed” the top of the appliance and alighted like a bird on the counter. Mostly though, as if by an invisible sleight of hand, the toast lands on top of the toaster and stays there. What a sight to see, makes me “flip” every time! It’s like someone is saying, “Madam, your toast is served” or “See, I can make you laugh after all!”

I am here to tell you that the toaster trick never happened before Max died. No, not once. Our toaster worked normally then. In fact, it still works fine but with value added: the toast pops up, flips in mid-air, becomes parallel to the counter, and lands on top of the toaster.

It’s as if the toast is presenting itself to me so that I might further delight in eating it with butter and jam.


Post Script

Max used to make my toast in the mornings, though not every day. He only did it if I was running late or had work to do before driving to the office. Seems like he’s still here helping me get to work on time. Hey, did I tell you I love you today? he used to say. Now I say it to others like that… like I’m Max.


Author’s note: As we begin a New Year, I’m posting a journal entry that falls near the beginning of my book. In fact, this story is the 2nd journal entry of The Hope and the Knowing.

I hope you don’t mind, I decided to save a few of the eeriest, most mind-boggling entries for the time of publication ;) ;)…. Nevertheless, the following thunderstorm was a fearsome one, hitting our town on Christmas Eve just hours after Max left our world… so they say.

Hoping you enjoy this story and the other true stories posted to my blog.

With warm regards,

Journal Entry
Wednesday 12/24/2003
Christmas Eve
Chandler, Arizona

At around two o’clock in the morning, I awoke to a deafening boom as torrents of rain whacked the windows, not unlike the bombing of London. Lightning bolts lit up our living room like Grandma’s colossal Christmas tree – all happening in Arizona, in the heat of the night, in the dead of winter – a mere five hours after Max left our world.

Too fearful to make a run for the bedroom without him, I rolled myself into our pathetic old afghan, my makeshift security blanket. Thunder bellowed like Thor himself as another bolt blew... and another… and yeow, a shocking third! Cowering in a corner of the living room, I screamed like a banshee. Maybe I’m leaving my body… no… more like my mind. Then, without warning, a blast hit our roof, or so it seemed.

Thankfully, the house hasn’t toppled… yet, I thought. It’s just those daylight detonations besieging an overwrought mind. Reaching this cosmic conclusion, I surfaced like a cave dweller ready to view the world. “What a strange phenomenon,” I said aloud, as if this meager stab at a scientific approach might bring me some relief. It didn’t. For another bolt blew and all I could do was cringe and crawl back to my corner. Fingers trembling, I managed to reclaim my ragged afghan.

Glancing up at the ceiling, I cried in silence, Oh, how I miss my Max, a man I never thought I had taken for granted.

But somehow, I did.

I must have.

Yet, no matter my sorry words, the storm showed no mercy as bongo sticks pelted the patio table. Perhaps in an act of defiance, I finally got up enough pluck to fling open the living room blinds and confront my tempest. Staring out into the mist and an all but visible backyard, at last, my sentiments softened as I remembered how much Max loved the rain. Whenever storm clouds threatened, he’d lift the garage door and call me out to catch the sights. Together, in our little haven, we’d watch nature fling its fearsome fireworks. And smell the sodden earth and the sweet, wet grass. There I felt happy, at ease in Max’s company, protected in his arms. Sometimes it seemed he called me out to see the storms just so we could connect, share those beautiful moments of closeness and camaraderie. Yet, even as he and I both became a part of my cherished past – a past so new and troubling in its very finality – the thought of our thunderstorm moments somehow had the effect of allaying all my fears.

Soon the winds blew the clouds high as if heading out to chase some distant folly. At long last, I managed to amble my way back to bed… er the sofa. Punch-drunk, I nearly sat on my tabby cat. “Oops, Tiggi, digging at that old afghan! Here, come sit next to me,” I said, pushing on a pillow, soon to become her paw partner. Rolling and tumbling around a bit more, we finally found our comfy spots and settled in for the night.

I don’t recall waking up again… till dawn.