Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Writer survives night at haunted B&B

After the video and a house tour, the time read 8 p.m.— much too early to turn in for the night. I thought I would explore a bit., so I headed outside to take some pictures of the house. As I walked onto the front porch, I was surprised…not by a ghost, but by the sight of two ladies sitting outside on the porch in their nightgowns…and as I found out, they were ghost seekers.

The Alabama women were on a girls’ getaway to Lafayette and New Orleans. They had come here specifically because of the house’s past and one of them wanted to encounter the ghost. I talked with them awhile. They seemed a bit jealous that I had the balcony room, but they were nice and I invited them to sit on it.

While there, the ghost seeking woman decided to rearrange a few things because we were told the ghost doesn’t like things changed. I wasn’t too keen on this, so unknowingly later I fixed it all back. I wasn’t about to make this night any worse. The ladies and I made a pact that if I got spooked than I would stay on their room’s couch. This scaredy-cat had a back-up plan!

About 10:30 p.m., I headed to my room. Amid some creaking and settling of the house, all I heard was the TV I switched on and watched until I found myself nodding off to sleep at one a.m. I jolted awake but then looking around and seeing nothing unusual, ended up going back to sleep nestled tightly in the covers, hoping I wouldn’t awake by a cold chill running down my spine or a realistic nightmare about falling into a well.

Thankfully I got through the night as a chicken should with the TV on and the lamps dimly casting a glow on the room. I didn’t rest well due to waking up every hour to fight to sleep again, which was likely caused from my overactive imagination and the light shining in my eyes all night.

Six a.m. came and I could not sleep, thus the scaredy cat survived the night. The welcomed morning brought sunshine and a simply amazing breakfast. After getting dressed and packing, I wondered downstairs to find the ladies. They were back on the porch—this time in regular day attire. They asked how I fared and I said fine, though I confessed about the lights. They said they had a great night’s sleep with nothing strange. I was glad for that. I met the owners and Mrs. Maugie had donned her red silk pajamas as per her tradition. She took me on a quick tour of the outside of the house.

I wanted to see the well. She took me out through a narrow winding garden path to the backyard. The well was barely noticeable except for the slight sunken piece of ground there. After she went back inside, I walked around a bit to check out their guesthouse, known as the “Garconniere” or gentleman’s house, and walked smack into the path of a black cat.

“Wow…” If I were superstitious, I would have probably passed out right on the spot. Instead I watched the cat pass, meow and disappear under the building as I wheeled around to go to breakfast. The meal was incredible. Chilled fruit served in a long stemmed goblet and the main course was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten—three crepes, done Acadian-style I presumed and stuffed with a light cheesecake filling and topped with strawberries, blueberries and Bananas foster. Très magnifique!

I headed to leave afterward with a glance behind me, half-expecting to see a young woman standing where I had stood myself on the balcony the night before. I saw nothing but that’s not to say someone wasn’t watching me.

For more information about the B&B, visit their Web site at www.tfreres.com or call 1-800-984-9347.

For more photos, check out their listing on TripAdvisor. http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotos-g40261-d113629-w2-T_Frere_s_Bed_Breakfast-Lafayette_Louisiana.html#36478696

Writer books night at haunted B&B

Let’s just say this writer is quite brave when it comes to going overseas by myself, wandering in the jungle by an active volcano, braving non-English speaking locales and dealing with cultures so unlike my own…but when it comes to ghost stories, horror movies and haunted houses I’m a big chicken.
 
A few years ago, right before Halloween coincidentally, I had to go to Lafayette on a business trip and decided not to stay in a hotel but go with much more character - a bed and breakfast or B&B.
 
I chose a beautiful one called “Aaaah! T’Frere’s B&B.” According to their website, the house was built in 1880 of Louisiana red cypress hauled from a nearby Vermillion Bayou and the structure’s architecture was inspired by the Acadian colonial style.

From their website
It seemed like a nice place and they had won various travel awards and accolades for their nice accommodations and the amazing gourmet breakfast prepared by the owners, Maugie and Pat Pastor. Mrs. Maugie is well known for serving breakfast in her silk red pajamas. It all sounded good to me, so I booked a room for the night.
 
It wasn’t until about an hour later that I discovered I booked a bit more than just a bed and breakfast. This B&B has been featured on The Travel Channel’s “Haunted Hotels.” I could almost hear the movie climactic sound effect “duh…duh…duhhhh” play in my head. “Great,” I thought, I had unknowingly booked a haunted B&B for the night.
 
According to www.GhostTraveler.com/Louisiana, a phantom woman, who is apparently a benevolent (friendly) spirit, abides there. On the site it reads that “a young woman either killed herself or accidentally drowned in a cistern on the property decades ago, while she was running a high fever; the Catholic church ruled her death a suicide and she was never given a proper Catholic burial. Patrons credit her spirit with moving objects - including furniture, walking around at night, and generally being a kind spirit. She has been known for playing the piano and music boxes, and was blamed for changing the color of one guest's wedding punch.”
 
I arrived in Lafayette around 7 p.m. and was given a quick tour by the owner’s son, John. The two-story house was lovely—painted white though covered in shadows in a ghostly night way. The large wraparound porch and small balcony lent a cozy factor to the establishment and the interior was just as comfortable with dark wood antique furniture and soft floral prints on sofas, curtains and bed spreads.
 
My room was the one with the balcony, which was fitting since it is referred to as the “Widow’s Balcony” and the ghost is supposedly seen roaming on it. It was actually attached to the bathroom down the dimly lit hallway. I had to take a quick peek and knew it was a bad idea when I was met with two sets of glowing eyes. I clutched my chest in fright, then realized it was just two spooky Halloween ghoul decorations hanging up.
 
Upon descending the narrow stairwell, I was offered the welcome appetizer of crab crustard—lightly toasted French bread topped with a delicious spread of crabmeat and melted cheese. I also took the chance to ask John about the house’s “history.” He caught on.
 
Some people can be a bit superstitious, so I didn’t want to ask outright. He said he doesn’t talk about it because the last time he did something strange happened. He told the story to two women guests and afterward while they were in the dining room and when he was in the kitchen he felt someone pass behind him and whisper over his shoulder. He turned and no one was there. He was creeped out and decided to not talk about it again. However, he did show me the “Haunted Hotels” Travel Channel segment as I sat in the glass enclosed porch dining extension.
 
The young woman’s name was Amilee Comeaux and it is believed her brother-in-law was the owner of the house. She lived there in the late 1880s after her husband passed away. She went into the Acadian tradition of a mourning year, which required her to dress in black and not go out in public. Thus she was confined to the house. She spent her days turning a wistful gaze at the outside world from the balcony.
 
She never remarried, thought to have taught math to local children and lived at the T’Frere’s house for years until she grew gravely ill in her early 30s. She was running a high fever—tossing and turning in her bed—and in desperate need of water to quinch her thirst. She ran out of it in the house so, in perhaps a delirious state, she stumbled outside for more from the backyard well. She never made it back to the house and was found dead in the well.
 
The local Catholic church deemed it a suicide and denied her body’s burial in hallowed ground thus leading many people to believe her spirit is at the house to this day—unable to rest. Several occurrences over the years have caused belief from dishes crashing noisily to the floor, to music playing in the house or babies crying to even sightings of a young woman looking through the curtains. Let’s just say I had plenty of information about the house’s “history” now but it somehow didn’t help the matter. We would have to see how the night progressed.
 
[To be continued later today…]

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Attention: New "Pens on a World Map" Content!

Attention Penners!

I have another new aspect of this blog enacting this week and I need YOU! Get excited!

It’s called “Penner’s Spotlight” and it will feature fellow traveling writers. I’m looking for “Penners” to step up and get involved. I think it will be fun. All you do is pick somewhere you have traveled, whether in your state, nation-wide or internationally, and send me a picture of you at that place with perhaps some interesting scenery or landmark behind you. If you’d like, you can send the mentioned picture and another one or two pictures from this location too.

Now for the writing part…Wait! Before you get all scared because you say you're not a real travel writer, hear me out.

All you have to do is write a little blurb about where you are in the picture/s and what you were doing, what you liked, etc. It can be a few sentences or up to 300 words in length. It’s your preference, but the idea is to hear about your travels. It's a way to place your “Pen” on this World Map blog.

The “Penner’s Spotlight” will be posted every Friday. If you are interested, please send your picture/s and blurb to morganltarpley@yahoo.com. Also please add in the e-mail if you have a personal website or blog that you would like to be mentioned. I will also give a quick shout-out for your books or giveaway/contests here too (include a book cover image and brief synopsis). Just mention it all in the e-mail.

Here is the first "Penner's Spotlight" post, so you can have an idea of how it's done. I hope to see some of your "Pen" on this World Map soon! :)

God Bless & Happy Travels,

Morgan Tarpley

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How to Stop and Smell the Roses

Recently, I received an interesting e-mail from a friend and let’s just say there is a reason she sent it to me. It’s a list of ways to reduce stress and I am guilty of not doing nearly all of the stress relievers on it. I don’t feel stressed, but I do keep a fairly tight schedule between work, hobbies and family.

I’m a go-getter type of personality—not able to stay still long. I’m used to my busy life, yet I do think there is time to “stop and smell the roses” so to speak. The most unique thing about the list is that it offers 36 ways for Christians to reduce stress. No wonder these items hit home. God doesn’t want us to worry. 
An English Rose in London
Matthew 6:24-27 addresses this exact subject. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

Below are 36 items to compare with your life to see if you have unnecessary stress (and let’s face it…we all do.). We may need to make some adjustments. I plan on taking many of these to heart.

The first one is quite fitting to be the top of the list: pray. Go to bed on time. / Get up on time so you can start the day unrushed. / Say “No” to projects that won’t fit into your time schedule, or that will compromise your mental health. Delegate tasks to capable others. / Simplify and unclutter your life. / Less is more. (Although one is often not enough, two are often too many.)

Allow extra time to do things and to get to places. Pace yourself. Spread out big changes and difficult projects over time; don’t lump the hard things all together. / Take one day at a time. / Separate worries from concerns. If a situation is a concern, find out what God would have you do and let go of the anxiety. If you can’t do anything about a situation, forget it.

Live within your budget; don’t use credit cards for ordinary purchases. Have backups; an extra car key in your wallet, an extra house key buried in the garden, extra stamps, etc. / K.M.S. (Keep Mouth Shut) – This single piece of advice can prevent an enormous amount of trouble. / Do something for the kid in you everyday. / Carry a Bible with you to read while waiting in line.

Get enough rest. / Eat right. / Get organized so everything has its place. / Listen to a CD while driving that can help improve your quality of life. / Write down thoughts and inspirations. / Every day, find time to be alone. Having problems? Talk to God on the spot. Try to nip small problems in the bud.

 Don’t wait until it’s time to go to bed to try and pray. / Make friends with Godly people. / Keep a folder of favorite scriptures on hand. / Remember that the shortest bridge between despair and hope is often a good “Thank you Jesus.” Laugh. / Laugh some more! / Take your work seriously, but not yourself at all. / Develop a forgiving attitude (most people are doing the best they can). / Be kind to unkind people (they probably need it the most). / Sit on your ego. / Talk less; listen more.

Slow down. / Remind yourself that you are not the general manager of the universe. / Every night before bed, think of one thing you’re grateful for that you’ve never been grateful for before.

Do you have other methods to destress? Please share.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Words with the Power to Transport Us


Emily Dickinson once said, “There is no frigate like a book to take us lands away..." Her words express exactly how this writer feels about reading. I’ve always enjoyed the written word and how it can take me places I would never be able to go, even if I had the money, time and possibility.

 “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” - Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” - George Orwell’s 1984

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” - Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities

“Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the riverbank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, ‘and what is the use of a book’, thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversation?’” - Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” - Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

“There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.” - Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre

“Squire Trelawnay, Dr Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17-- and go back to the time when my father kept the Admiral Benbow inn and the brown old seaman with the sabre cut first took up his lodging under our roof.” - Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island

Like the famed book openers above, good books intrigue us…allow us to enter into another word – whether of fantasy or reality. We can relate to the characters, their issues and the decisions being made.

Reading is an unparalleled escape for me. It has fueled my imagination and dreams since childhood and through the information and the imagination I acquired through it I set my dreams and goals higher. I also came away with a love for writing.

Reading provides a temporary escape from everyday life. It entertains yet also can expand our horizons and fuel our dreams. It sure fueled mine from a young age. I used to make up elaborate stories that I would scribble into a notebook in my childish script.

My parents and teachers encouraged me. Without that encouragement and the desire that God placed in my heart, today I would not be doing what I love – writing.

So…please encourage others to read and write, especially young people. Visit your library and start turning the pages of a good book - your frigate to other worlds.

I know that most writers are readers, but people, in general, should be readers too. What books have inspired you to fulfill a dream or accomplish a goal? Please share.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Antics of Small Town Life :)

Why were they after me…and how could I lose them? I thought as the four police cars—lights flashing crazily—came ever closer behind, no doubt in pursuit of me alone.

I ran with all my might around the next corner, making a sharp left off Second Street. A huge white building loomed ahead and I wondered if it could offer me a hiding place.

I’ve been chased before—don’t get me wrong—this is not a new thing, yet I knew I had never been in this much trouble.

Speed is what I was in need of at the moment. My legs were becoming increasingly tired as my feet continued to pound against the hard asphalt pavement. I really just want to go home. How did this get so out of hand?

Upon entering Third Street, I ran through someone’s yard and began to put on full speed as I headed downhill—still in pursuit.

Seeing a clear path before me, I have just began to run uphill when two police cars turn into the street right in front of me—heading me off, making me dart off the roadway and into a small patch of woods to my immediate right. The trees will offer me cover while I plot my next move.

“The fugitive is fleeing into the woods between Third and Fourth Streets, get into position. Over and out…” I overhear one of the officers shout into his radio.

They are not relenting…There must be nearly a dozen police officers after me now.

All this trouble for little old me…for a brief moment, it is almost comical until I spot the first of the officers breaking through the tree line, which sends me running back the way I came.

I have them chasing me in circles as I attempt to sneak past them again—and succeed!

I am sure I’ve lost them, confused and frustrated them even more…but suddenly it is as if they come at me from all directions—from driveways and both ends of the street. I run as close as I can along a tall wooden fence. I see no other option but to run within the open gate of the fence, which I know in the next second is not a good idea.

I hear the wrought iron gates swing closed with a swift squeak as I run to the back corner of the yard and stand face to face with five men, watching my every move—trapping me, but I won't go without a fight.

Later…
I am caught. One of the officers leads me away. I gave them a run for their money. Heavy perspiration dots their brows after our yard skirmish. I see a familiar vehicle with an old red trailer behind it. I know I am heading home.

I hear one of the officers report into his radio that the fugitive was apprehended on Fourth Street and is in custody…he continues, “Here's the description...The suspect is about four hundred pounds with black and white fur, a small set of horns, four hooves, and a lot of aggression.”

[The above story might have been the case if the young cow—being pursued in downtown by police officers, Sheriff’s officers, a state trooper and its owner on horseback—were able to tell her tale. I was merely an observer and photographer of the event, which caused everyone a good laugh after the cow was safely placed behind bars of a cattle-moving trailer after two hours of pursuit.

The whole ordeal resembled the antics of Andy Grifftith and Barney Fife. If the cow had been arrested, I think she could be charged with resisting arrest, fleeing an officer (15 counts), destruction of property (one count), littering (a few counts), aggravated assault of an officer (numerous counts), disturbing the peace, simple escape (many counts), trespassing, and speeding.]

I just felt compelled to share this true glimpse of life in my small town. I know everyone has their own unforgettable and comical moments in their lives...and their places of residence.

What is one antic that sticks out in your mind? You know the one where you just shook your head and thought, "Is this really happening?" Please share. :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Life reminder comes from popular song

“This is my temporary home/It’s not where I belong/ Windows and rooms that I’m passing through/ This was just a stop on the way to where I’m going/ I’m not afraid because I know/ This was my temporary home.”

Music is truly a gift from God. There are certain songs that just can touch someone through to their very soul. “Temporary Home” performed and co-written by American Idol and country music sensation Carrie Underwood is one of those songs for this writer.

“Temporary Home” resonates a reminder to everyone, especially to Christians. It is a reminder that this life is temporary, like a vapor that fades away and that we should live each day like it was our last one in this world.

It’s been a difficult few years for my family as I’m sure many families can reciprocate in different ways. It’s been hard for my Dad’s family especially because we’ve had three precious family members pass away: my grandfather in 2008, my uncle in 2009 and my grandmother in 2010.
 
Me with my grandparents who have passed away
Listening to “Temporary Home” and remembering God’s promise to me that this world is not my final home is what is helping me cope with their deaths--especially the most recent passing of my grandmother.

Memaw, my grandmother’s nickname, was a woman, who was full of life. She always took care of everyone, whether they needed it or not. She was strong in spirit and in the Lord and was a great example to me of what a Christian woman should be. She loved to garden, travel, take photographs, spend time with her family and go to church, things that I love as well. (Okay…maybe not gardening. I don't exactly have a green thumb like she did.)
 
Memaw had a free spirit like me. She was not afraid to stand up for what she believed in or listen to someone if they needed to be heard. She also was a prayer warrior, always continuously praying for her family and people of the community. I will always miss her but I know this wasn’t her permanent home.
 
She needed and wanted to go to her real home after a three year health decline from Parkinson’s Disease. Though her body was failing her all throughout that time she never lost sight of God’s promise and the love she had for us. Even when times were so difficult with grief and pain, she kept as strong as she could, knowing there would be an approaching day to go to a place with no grief or pain. I’ll always remember the value of life despite what happens in mine and the life that she lived. 
my uncle
James 4: 13-15 says, 13) Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit.” 14) whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15) Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

The truth is that we can plan, make schedules and talk of the future, but we have no idea if we will even be here tomorrow or what will change. It’s a sad but true fact of life. It’s also where hope comes in. We have to have faith that we will see another day or year and that even if we don’t that we have the most important hope—if we have accepted the salvation Christ offers—of having a second (better) life in heaven.

Like part of the ending lyrics of “Temporary Home,” no matter what happens in our lives we must hold on to the hope we have in Christ Jesus and remember that “3) at one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4) But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5) He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6) whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7) so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”– Titus 3:3-7

“Old man, hospital bed/ The room is filled with people he loves/ And he whispers don't cry for me/ I'll see you all someday/ He looks up and says, ‘I can see God's face.’/ This was my temporary home.”

Have you ever had a song that comforted you through a hard time? What was it?