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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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.

Friday, January 7, 2011


Journal Entry
Thursday 12/2/2004
Around 10:30 a.m.

While waiting in my doctor’s office, I was reading a pamphlet when, out of the blue, came the “Metaman” tune. Straight up, I perched wondering if Max’s little ditty had come blazing through to me from some parallel dimension. You see, I never knew how to whistle the tune he wrote, back when. I mean, I could hardly even remember how it went. Max was the only one who could whistle it as perfectly as I “heard” it today while sitting in the doctor’s office.


So, what is “Metaman” anyway?

Well, one day about five years ago, Max and I had been lounging on the back patio, talking about the things we’d do when we retire.

“Hey, I’ve got an idea!” he said as he brushed Tiggi, lounging on the picnic table. “I’m gonna give the old folks in Sun City a super time.”

“How’s that?” I said while nosing through a Victorian magazine.

“With popsicles. Metamucil popsicles.”

“Whu?” My brain lapsed into a kind of stupor and the magazine slipped through my fingers. “What did you say?”

He put down the brush, knowing he now had my undivided attention. “Picture this,” he said, “me driving my white truck, playing a little ditty as I hand out Metamucil ice cream bars in a wide assortment of flavors and colors.”

“Okay, now I know you’re joking.”

“Nope, I’m serious as a post. Think of it, it’ll be fun and good for them. Good for me too.”

I was practically boring a hole through his shirt as he said, “So hey, here’s ‘Metaman’ – dig it!” And suddenly, impromptu, he began to whistle a cheery little tune.

As the last lilting note bounced off the table, Max sat back and said, “Well, what do ya think?”

I just shook my head and cackled, “Well, I have to admit, Metaman, you have created a catchy little number there. Carefree, light… a popsicle kind of tune.”

Thus, Metaman was born.

But was Metaman a tune or a man?

In retrospect, I think it was a little of both. Like a big kid, Max used to whistle his tune on weekends, especially whenever he could catch up with the ice cream man and get our Saturday drumsticks. Max had such a gregarious nature. I wouldn’t have put it past him to ask the popsicle man what he thought of Metaman… the tune, that is.


So today, as I sit waiting for my doctor, I hear Max’s sweet little ditty for the first time since he died. Its light-hearted tenor brings such happy thoughts to mind. Tapping my toes, I turn the page of my medical pamphlet, and there at the bottom of the page I see canisters – colorful Metamucil canisters.

Max! I shriek in silence.

Oh, what am I doing? Sighing, I stash the pamphlet in my purse. Time to take a trip down the hall before the nurse calls my name. But on the way back, I am touched by the lovely voice of Karen Carpenter. Her melancholic sound is resonating through the office Musak:

I've just one wish on this Christmas Eve
I wish I were with you...*

Somehow, I manage to restrain myself until I reach the car. Then, safe inside, I let go.


* “Merry Christmas Darling” from the “Christmas Portrait” album released in 1978. Written by Richard Carpenter & Frank Pooler and recorded by The Carpenters.


Journal Entry
Thursday 11/25/2004
Thanksgiving Day

Max’s brother used to call him Toad. It had a way of sticking. In fact, one Christmas I bought Max a little light-up toad for his jacket. He even deigned to wear it when he was in the mood. And we ordered “Mistletoads” labels for all our Christmas cards. Toads had become a delightful way of celebrating our lives.

Then, one day we were telling each other stories about some of the shenanigans we got into when we were kids. Max confessed that one time when he was no more than a tyke, he did something “just plain stupid.” Of course, he did this thing because his parents had told him never to do it.

He had been playing a game of, “I wonder what would happen if….” and, as if to challenge the very laws of nature, he stuck his tongue up against an icy pole. Well, needless to say, his tongue stuck to it. That must have been spine-chilling enough. But, to make matters worse, the boy soon realized that no one was around to help him “unstick” it.

What a quandary for such a small child. What could he possibly do?

Well, before long, Max figured out that whenever he exhaled, the warmth of his breath melted some of the ice. And in minutes (seeming like hours) he was finally able to retract his tongue without undue suffering… except perhaps for the indignity of it all when he finally told his parents about the ordeal.


So today, I’m sipping a mocha coffee, my Thanksgiving dessert, while watching a Muppet movie. And what, or who, should appear on screen? Why, it’s a tiny toad. But the poor little fellow is crying for Kermit’s assistance. Due to toady’s miniscule size, I am barely able to make him out. It seems he is saying something like this: “Ermie, elp ee! Elp ee, ermie!” He moans but to no avail. Then, as the camera rolls in, I finally catch a glimpse of the toad in full view.

But alas, the little guy’s tongue is stuck to something.

No, it can’t be.

Yes, it is.

A pole, an icy pole.

I’m “losing it,” coffee backfiring through my nostrils, splattering all over my jeans. I grab a heap of napkins from the table and shout, “Wow!”

“It’s like déjà vu,” I cackle, catching dribs and drabs of coffee straight away.

Then, in a flash, comes a high-spirited sound… like from where, another dimension?

Regardless, the words are clear and strong: Luv, it’s like déjà went! he cries.