Hello, fellow bookworms! I see you there! You’re the people who bring books with them wherever they go. (They’re like having a friend with you). The ones whose TBR pile is getting out of hand. The ones who could have a tidy house if it wasn’t for all your books!
Last year I managed to read 49 non-academic books. So this year I stuck my challenge at 60 because I think that’s plausible.
I decided that I wanted 12 of those books will to be a self-help / inspiring / science / sustainability-related. These are all things I’m interested in but I’m less likely to pick up these books than say, a Stephen King novel.
Come join me on Goodreads and set yourself a goal, even if it’s 3 books. Tell me just one book you want to read this year, or more if you have ideas! Without further ado, here are my 12 must-reads for 2020.
“No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference.” – Greta Thunberg.
Starting off the year with something short, sweet and to the point. Greta Thunberg might only be 16 years old but she is inspirational. To all those hating on her, you are sheep. You have not opened your mind to her reality. She is fighting for all of our lives, and learning takes place in the world. Not just in school.
As I write this, this book is not yet in my possession. I had to pre-order this book because it was not out until January this year. Madeleine is one of my favourite YouTubers, I’ve learned so much from her on my sustainability journey.
When she told us she was writing a book I genuinely felt relieved. Here is a guide that I can hold in my hand to simplify my life.
Also, Madeleine and Alex just got engaged. She’ll never read this but I just wanted to wish them congratulations and all the best in their journey. They are a gorgeous couple and deserve all the happiness. I hope Roxie is at the wedding!!!
“A Mind of Your Own.” – Kelly Brogan, MD. Another gift from the glorious Booblé Bear. It’s basically a book about depression in regards to women, and how it affects them differently. I.E hormones, period, social challenges.
“On Writing Well.” – William Zinsser. In case you didn’t know, I am writing my PhD thesis this year… did you know that? Haha well anyway, this is a book about writing non-fiction well so I think it’s time to read it. Another gift from Le’Boo. He knows me so well.
“Women who Changed the World.” – Various Contributors. My Mama got me this for Christmas. She wrote a beautiful inscription inside it, and I will cherish it forever. I love her so much, thank you, Mama.
“Other Minds: The Octopus & The Evolution of Intelligent Life.” – Peter Godfrey-Smith. This was a gift, (a trend eh?) from one of my besties Jes. She got me this for my birthday last year, and I actually want to get around to reading it! She knows me so well and I trust her judgement when it comes to books. Also OCTOPUS!
“Clifford Geertz by His Colleagues.” – Edited by Richard A. Shweder & Bryan Good. This is a book I’ve wanted to read for a while. Clifford Geertz is my favourite anthropologist, he has a wonderful sense of humour that I cannot get over. This is a book about him both as an anthropologist and a human. So really looking forward to this one.
“A Life Less Throwaway.” – Tara Button. I meant to finish reading this like in March… of last year… so I really need to finish it. I enjoyed what I did manage to read of it and hopefully, it will inspire my 2021 sustainability goals.
“You are a Badass.” – Jen Sincero. This was a Christmas gift from Le’Boo and I really think he’s trying to tell me something. Also, I love yellow book covers.
“The Kybalion.” – The Three Initiates. I’ve read this before technically, as I’ve listened to it on audiobook, however, I wanted to absorb it with my eyeballs!
“The Emerging Mind.” – Vilayanur Ramachandran. Le’Boo brought this home from work, a likely story… However, it piqued my interest. Look a monkey!
“A Room of Ones Own.” – Virginia Wolff. I read this many a moon ago when I was a young idealistic person. I would very much like to read it again as I have totally forgotten it except for the very famous bit. “For a woman to write, really write. She must have a room of one’s own.” This is also nicely tied in with the book gave me at Christmas, “A Mind of Your Own.” Also, look at my manky old copy of it!
Hello Moonlings, maith an lá, how are you all? Normally this post would come earlier in January however my life was stupid crazy coming up to Christmas. Also, I had to move it to suit my impromptu post of last week.
I’ve made some wonderful changes already like using bamboo toothbrushes and reusable coffee cups. I find spacing out the changes make them easier to handle.
So in case you are interested in previous sustainability posts they can be found here. Otherwise, let’s jump right into it!
So last January I gave up beef forever. I had a few mishaps in November / December. No excuse I was just ill and needed/wanted beef. However, I’m back to that again. Then in February I only ate meat on weekends, which I mostly stuck too. Except for again November / December. Ya girl was sick ok?!
Anyways to narrow it down, even more, I am only allowed to eat meat once a month! So it will be a treat that I have to choose carefully, like if it’s a day I’m going to a nice restaurant or Christmas day for example!
Books. I love them so much. They are my friends, my distraction, and my portal to other worlds. However, I could be better with my hoarding of them. Firstly, buying second-hand. Secondly getting it from a library or borrowing from a friend. Thirdly If I need to buy new for whatever reason buy on kindle or audiobook. Secondly, reading the actual mountain of books I actually already own!!!
Still working through my plastic razors, but I would very much let to finally get a reusable, metal razor. The kind my grandfather would have used. I will get around to this. Eventually.
When the spring hits, the fashion world pulls in the winter colours and throws so many pastels at us. Greens, pinks, blues, they are so beautiful. Do we really need them though?
For April I will be doing another Jeffree Star Lipstick inspired lookbook, using all my own clothes. No new clothes for April whatsoever.
Now I only buy from sustainable companies or second hand, but what is more sustainable than not buying at all!? I will begin at the top of the sustainable list. REFUSE!
This is the month where I finally learn how to recycle properly. Ireland is pretty awful in fairness. In some countries, you get money back for recycling like Germany. No. Here we need to pay for certain items to be recycled. Especially certain plastics. Now we do have
I’m pretty ok in general with recycling. I try to refuse first, so I make my own sparkling water now. Which reduces the need for buying it in plastic bottles, which yes can be recycled, but less is always better.
Reuse, I have a reusable coffee cup, water bottle and cutlery (for eating in places like Boojum).
However recycling is something that still needs to happen, and I need to really learn how. There are a lot of plastics in Ireland that people throw in their recycle bin that can’t actually be recycled.
Ok so April was to do with Fashion and clothing and June will be the same. I will be going through all my clothes and sell on depop and donating what I don’t wear to charity. I do this about 2 times a year anyway so it doesn’t get out of hand.
I want to only keep what I actually wear, maybe try the Marie Kondo method. I am a bit of a divil for keeping clothes I don’t wear because they’re uncomfortable but are so cute, or they are too small and I’ll lose weight.
I am not losing weight unless it’s a result of eating healthy and my yoga routine. I’m not overweight the internet and society just like to tell me I am.
Plant a tree! My lovely Sister-in-law bought me a tree for Christmas from Grown Together. You get the location (which is Lacakamore in Co. Clare), the coordinates (!) and the certificate number. See their mantra below!
However, I would love to actually volunteer and plant a tree, or donate to a plant a tree place, or plant a tree at my home! Ok, maybe not a tree, but a plant. I love the trees!!! They are our friends, and they give us our oxygen.
Stop buying beauty products that are sold to us but really have no purpose. For example micellar water. My make up is mostly vegan and skin-friendly, which means it’s easy to wash off with warm water.
This will give me time to use up everything I have that is store-bought as I am writing this in January.
Toners and moisturisers, they can be made with natural products. I’m hoping Madeleine Olivia can help me out there. I got her new book in January also… Yes, here she is!
Ok now for the single-use items, they are everywhere! Cotton pads, baby wipes, cotton buds, paper towels. Why do we do it, our parents got through life just fine reusing things.
Like paper towels in the kitchen. Every time I use a piece I feel guilty, so no more. A dishcloth is just fine, and you can wash them!!!
Also my darling sister-in-law Nicole also got me reusable cotton pads for Christmas. Here is a picture.
Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without her, she keeps me grounded. She is the zero waste sustainability queen. Perhaps she would come on my channel?
Y’all know how much ya girl loves Halloween. It’s my Christmas, it spooky, and horrific! Love it so much. What I don’t love is the plastic, single-use decorations. Honestly, I’ve been prey to them myself, I won’t lie, but it’s time to invest in ones that I’ll have my whole life.
Like this beautiful ‘snow-globe’ with a crow and tiny bats from, yes, you guessed it, NICOLE!
Ok for real this time, I would like an electric car. Now I know they aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, I mean the electricity doesn’t come from politicians farts. Hopefully, I will be finished my PhD and have an actual job where I get paid consistently again.
We decided this Christmas that Christmas crackers from shops are cancelled in our house. They are awfully wasteful with nothing good in them. We are going to make our own Christmas Crackers this year. Nicole from Mullen Crafts will have to be the creative director but I will happily write the jokes!
I’m also leaving wrapping paper that isn’t environmentally friendly in 2019. It’s
Moonlings! I have been missing for many weeks, and it’s the longest I’ve gone without posting. If you follow me on other platforms, I posted why I was missing. A huge milestone in my PhD was due, so I knuckled down to get it done. I promised an excerpt so here is some of it in quotes.
Agriculture has been the lifeblood of humankind for millennia. The cognizant of control over food growth allowed our evolutionary path to deviate from similar great ape species. Humanity’s propensity towards an omnivorous diet precipitated the development of the larger prefrontal cortex, giving us the gift of critical thought. This provided the building blocks to the cultivation of certain crops. Previously shifting groups associated with the hunter-gatherer lifestyle soon became unattractive for many tribes, as they began to put roots down in more ways than one.
When settled, humans became territorial. Villages became townships, the power of horses, mules, and donkeys were harnessed not only assist with the cultivation of crops but the transportation of surplus crops for trade with neighbouring towns. Riverbanks were preferred areas for settlement and families banded together for the management of larger areas of cultivated land. From there the portrait of our ancestry is clear. Our settled nature became the norm for most, as it provided food security whereas the nature of hunting and gathering could not.
As one of the cornerstones of humanity, agriculture has a universally deeply ingrained tradition across all cultures. Throughout the ages, when crops were in danger from natural forces, disease, or swarms, humans organised themselves so they could protect their most precious resource; food. This resulted in the domestication of various animals, the passing of herding knowledge through communities of practice and the improvement of agricultural tools which made the process of farming more accessible.
For most of human history, we have been hunter-gatherers. During pre-history (which is considered to be history before the written word), we hunted animals and gathered plants. Although there may have been an unconscious attempt to nourish the plants we ate, by not disturbing the roots or over-cultivation, the agricultural portion of humanity did not really take place until a period which is called the Neolithic Revolution (Embers & Embers 1996). To contextualise, this is roughly 10,000 years ago. It has since been established that agricultural development is one of the most important developments in human history (Anderson 1992). The ability to secure a reliable food source, allowed humans to settle in one place, thereby creating villages, towns and subsequently cities. Entire civilizations such as the Egyptians were built and sustained by agriculture (Brier & Hobbs 2008) consequently the link between agriculture and food consumption/production is essential to explore.
In the present day, tacit agricultural knowledge has still provided the most resistance to technological adaptation. Within the Republic of Ireland, where this study is poised, farming is synonymous with heritage and connection to the land. Generational farming is widely practiced where farms are still passed to the eldest child, along with the necessary knowledge for resilience. While farming communities have extensive resources available to them from governmental and non-profit organisations, they still enact convivial groups to ensure the health of their farm. Although national governments have a responsibility to their farmers, a disconnect can be observed between the two. Trust cannot be cultivated overnight and most threads of agricultural knowledge are woven between the past and the present. Adoption of technological changes which governments offer are often seen as suspicious to farmers, as ulterior motives can be attached to them.
In order to boost collaboration between useful information provided by governmental bodies and farmers, an understanding regarding local farming networks, and their importance is vital. This study aims to bridge that gap, when elements of a local network are understood, formal institutions have a greater opportunity of having a healthy dialogue with the farmers.
While the above is the aim of the study, the context in which the study takes place is also crucial. We have reached crisis levels globally in respects to the environment and climate change. Now more than ever we need to attend to the wisdom farmers can offer. According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) the highest Co2 emissions in the Republic of Ireland in 2016 was the agricultural sector. Although the Department of Agriculture, Food and The Marine recognises the need for change within the sector, Ireland is still poised to miss the Co2 goals set out in the Paris Agreement.
Farming can be a tough yet rewarding life, and without the necessary respect to those who dedicate themselves to producing our food, its security will be challenged. To address this gap in knowledge, this study develops a narrative based on embedded local farming practices within their network, including their opinions and perspectives. The aim is to understand why there is a need for a local knowledge networking systems. Furthermore, the study will explore how farmers might benefit from formalised services which are available from governmental organisations and investigate if there is a disconnect between both types of knowledge. While the context the study is from an Irish farming perspective, given the universality of farming, agricultural literature from a vast array of countries has been collected and reviewed. This was to ensure that the commonalities in contemporary agriculture is address accurately.
The narrative nature of this study will provide benefits through the lens of anthropological practice. Anthropology as a discipline has, for over 100 years, provided the philosophical expressions of every day. Perspective is provided by narrating the habitus of personhood (Bourdieu 1987) giving credence to individuated modes of cultural expression, skills and habits. Once this data is collected itis read very much like a text (Geertz 1973). These practices explored by Geertz in accordance with his considerations of interpretive anthropology and its enhancing possibilities:
“Given the dialectical nature of things, we all need our opponents, and both sorts of approach are essential. What we are most in want of right now is some way of synthesizing them.”
With all these considerations of local knowledge context (Ichijo & Kohlbacher 2008), we can return to the problem which is thus; If local knowledge from farmers can be captured, governmental policies may be enhanced (Hayhurst, Dietrich-O’Connor, et al 2013). This is of paramount importance as without a change to farming practices, the ensuing economic, environmental and sustainable issues will continue to grow (Fleming & Vanclay 2010). Convergence between these two perspectives needs to be established, wherein the farmers are protected in their tenuous situation. The role that knowledge plays and how that knowledge is transferred is can help address this conundrum.
If there are Selena stans here please forgive me for never realising her worth as an artist. I didn’t dislike her, I just had no opinion about her whatsoever.
I discovered this song on a meme page. They were discussing her emotion and how many pieces her heart had been broken into. Me being the kind of person who adores poetry and emotional songs, I thought I’d give it a listen.
I was not expecting the impact it would have on me. Selena is a beautiful soul and this song is potent. It brought me back to the girl I was in 2011. I was 21 / 22 again.
That girl is pictured above, and that’s what this post is about.
The girl pictured above is wearing a false smile. She is happy because she’s with her friends. Yet she is hurting inside so deeply she’s self-medicating. The smile is the lie she tells to those around her. It was her goal to appear nonchalant, but her mind was in turmoil.
Then this girl below. You’ve probably seen her before. Better yet you may have even been this girl before. (This is not about shaming, this is about growth).
This girl is trying too hard. She changed her hair because she wanted to change her identity. To bleach out the previous two years. She sold herself the narrative that she wasn’t to blame. She was the victim.
You were not the victim. You were a strong girl, who let her sense of self be diluted. You chose to ignore someone who told you who they were. You refused to listen and pretended that they were someone else. That you could be suited somehow if you just bowed yourself enough.
“When people show you who they are, believe them.” – Maya Angelou
Yet I have a tenderness for this girl because she was in so much pain. Pain because another relationship didn’t work. She didn’t want to address the fact that she may be to blame, she wanted to blame the other person.
There was equal blame.
The pain from not being who she thought she was, and really, she didn’t know who she was yet. It took her longer to find herself than most, but less time than some.
Eventually, though she learned how to transform the pain into understanding, and the blame into a lesson.
Basically, this doesn’t apply to everyone. Some people are victims because they’ve been manipulated, emotionally, physically or both. I wasn’t. (Well not so much so that I wouldn’t be able to get away).
I was angry, I was hurt, and I was so tired. Instead of realising both my culpability and my power, I ended up blaming the other person completely. Taking it out of my hands entirely.
Nothing is ever out of your hands entirely. You have choices. Don’t let life happen to you.
Anyways hindsight is 20/20. What I’m happy about now is how much I’ve grown to the point that I can actually admit when I’m wrong. (If Le’Boo is reading this, he’s probably laughing his ass off right about now).
This is that girl now, She is a WOMEN and Bish, she is not bowing for anyone.
I would like to make a disclaimer here that I was given a reviewers copy in order to review the book. My views are my own, if I like a book I say so, if I dislike it, I say so. All my opinions below are my own, they do not reflect anything the author has said.
There are few YA books which address violence quite so elegantly as Villimey Mist’s ‘Nocturnal Blood.’ The protagonist Leia bursts onto the scene, not in traditional ass-kicking style, but violence of the all too ordinary kind. Bullying. Leia is dealing with some mental health issues that we’ve all heard of, but often fail to understand. Leia’s OCD ruled her life as a teenager, and her quirks caused her callous classmates to torment her.
This is violence that’s all too common to those of us that struggle with mental health issues. Yet OCD is a very common condition, characterised by certain irrational practices. It is debilitating enough on its own without your peers troubling you. So when Sophie Gardner attempts to befriend Leia, her years of pain cause initial distrust. When Leia realises that Sophie is actually serious she lets her guard down. Sadly life deals Leia another blow as Sophie’s mother and step-father move them to Canada. Leia slowly loses her only friend as letters slow, and then cease.
What follows is an exhilarating story which rarely takes a pitstop, always surprises and truly disturbs. When I say I read this book in one day, I couldn’t help myself. Sophie Gardner reminds me of Sophie Amundsen from Sophie’s world, grappling with moral philosophical issues, while simply being a human animal. She drags poor Leia along for the ride, and Leia soon discovers that there is a brave princess buried in her somewhere. Her name right soon becomes her authentic self as she breaks out of her shell in an attempt to save her only friend, Sophie, from the laws governing a parallel world. The world of vampires.
You don’t want to miss out on this book. You can see the influence that Joss Whedon’s Buffyverse has had on this generation of writers, as they deal with vampires as beings of duality rather than simply monsters. Vampires must feed to survive, but they have a code of conduct which must be followed and is reflected by the humanity we see in Kenji Yamasaki. The friendship between Leia and Sophie is harrowing while Leia comes to terms with what Sophie has become, and Sophie struggles to remember her humanity, which Leia represents to her.
This book leaves us wanting more which is excellent because a little birdie told me book two is on the way.
Thank you firstly to Megan from A Geeky Gal for the nomination. I adore Harry Potter and it’s the perfect time of year for a Potter-inspired tag! This tag originally came from Michelle from A Geek Girl’s Guide FYI.
I have been a fan of Potter since I was 12 when I read The Chamber of Secrets. The first book was already checked out in my school library, and I couldn’t wait to see what all the fuss was about so I took out book 2. I have been hooked since.
You have to go shopping in Diagon Alley! What store do you go to first?
Oh, man straight to Eeylops Owl Emporium!!! I adore birds in general but there is something particularly human about owls with their forward-facing eyes. If I could have an owl I would be happy forever and ever!
You’re on the Hogwarts Express! What snack are you getting from the trolley?
I’m not really into sweets, however I would totally be into collecting the Chocolate Frog cards. I’d just give Ron my frog to eat!
It’s time for the welcome feast! Which table are you at?
I have been sorted into Ravenclaw officially, and that’s the house I most relate to. However, I have been known to relate to certain Hufflepuff traits, but I think it just means I would get on well with my Hufflepuff classmates.
You get an elective this year? What will it be?
When Hermione was running around in The Prisoner of Azkaban taking extra classes with her time turner, I always wanted to hear more about her class Study of Ancient Runes.
You’ve got a break between classes! What will you be doing?
Reading in the library, or doing homework. Yes, I’m a nerd, I am in no way ashamed of it.
You get to go to Hogsmeade this year! Where do you go to first?
I would go straight to The Three Broomsticks to try a Butterbeer. I would probably hate the taste of it because it sounds incredibly sweet, but still.
You’re meeting up with friends to hang out! Where in the castle are you going to chill?
What up my spooky Moonlings! I filmed a video for my YouTube channel Thinking Moon where I answer questions from the Halloween Tag.
I also tag my friend and fellow YouTuber Megan from A Geeky Gal. I am so looking forward to your answers Megan. You can make it on YouTube or your blog. Don’t feel obliged I just thought of you when I made it!
Here are the questions and I tag any of my darling followers who want to answer them. Make your own blog post, video or podcast episode. Whichever you like. Or even answer the questions down in the comments below.
*All characters and places in this piece are fictional and do not reflect anyone alive or dead. Flathead National Park is a real place, but as far as the author is aware, it is not haunted. This story may have content that some readers find offensive or disturbing, so discretion is advised, especially to those under the age of 13.*
The rustling leaves of autumn drew Callie outside, filling her distracted mind with the sounds of nature. She sat on the ground and watched them gently dance in the breeze. She heard Ranger Stevens before she saw him. He had a distinctive way of walking. “Hi darlin’ you talking to the trees again?” Callie blushed as she quickly rose to her feet to face him. She was hyper-aware of her hand-me-downs clothes and ancient fleece that had either belonged to Hep’s or the twins. No one knew anymore. “Hi, Ranger Stevens, I was just taking a break. Can I help you with anything today?”
“Callie I’ve told you it’s ok to call me Mike, I’m not a police officer or anything.” His face lit up as he grinned and Callie swayed a little on her feet. Her homeschooling had limited her interactions with real boys. She didn’t consider her brothers to be real boys) and Mike happened to be a particularly handsome one, but it didn’t matter, Callie Barlow would have been awkward with any boy. The only boys she really knew were her brothers, Hep, Are and App. “Sorry, Mike, how can I help you today?”
“Well I’m looking for your father actually, is he around?” He took off his hat in anticipation of speaking to Lucas Barlow. Callie was certainly among the softer of the Barlow family siblings. Her eldest brother was exceptionally rough and ready despite all the classical training their mother Joanne had given them. He was very much a carbon copy of his father Lucas. Who was known as crass, angry and loud. Yet Lucas Barlow was well regarded in the town of Mirth and the Barlow family had lived in Flathead National Forest for generations. “Daddy will be back soon he was doing his morning rounds of the land. Would you like to wait and have some coffee?” Her voice cracked nervously as she asked this, but she was relieved when Mike nodded almost furiously.
“That’s great if any of your brothers are around I might speak to them too?” Callie’s heart sank. If it was a palaver with her brother’s Mike wanted, she wouldn’t get a word in. Mike seemed to notice this, and said kindly, “of course you know these woods just as well as them, so you will certainly have some useful input to give Callie.” Callie blushed again at this. Not just because he was so kind, but because he had noticed her disappointment. Nobody took much notice of Callie when her brothers were around. She nodded and beckoned him inside.
It was early morning and the sun had only just risen in the East, but the Barlows had been up since before dawn. It was the family way even before Callie was born, and she knew no different. They would begin their studies at 9am. Well, she would, Hep and the twins had already taken their SATs. Beforehand the chores would need to be done. Chores from which Callie had been skiving off from. “Callie, are you finished checking on the deer jerky?” Her mother Joanne had an ability to appear from thin air. Both Callie and Mike jumped. They had thought themselves alone in the quiet kitchen. “Yes ma’am, mother. I invited Ranger Stevens in for coffee while he waited for Father.” Joanne folded her arms and took in Mike silently. A silence descended and as expected, Mike nervously filled the gap.
“I’m sure you could help too Ma’am, Mrs Barlow, it’s about another missing tourist. Two actually. They went into the forest last night. It was meant to be an overnight camping trip, but when they didn’t call their girlfriends this morning at the crack of dawn as promised, well the girlfriends got frantic and called the police. You know the reputation these woods have so the coppers asked Chief Ranger Makowski if he’d look into it. I thought that since Mr Barlow, and your family have had such luck with turning up missing people in the past, knowing the woods so well…” Joanne finally smiled and Mike trailed off. “No problem Mike, I’m sure Lucas would be delighted to help once he returns from his rounds. In the meantime let me get you some breakfast.”
“Oh you’re very kind but if you could just let Mr Barlow know we will be mounting a search party down at the ranger cabin that I would be very grateful.” Callie’s heart sank. Mike would have happily stayed for a chat if her mother hadn’t appeared. Callie had been so sure her mother was out back feeding the chickens, but Joanne Barlow had a way of knowing when to appear uninvited. She didn’t like Callie talking to outsiders, especially not men, despite what was thought of the family in town. “Are you sure Ranger Stevens? I was about to start breakfast, the boys always come back from their rounds, ravenous.” Her eyes glinted in the early morning light, and Callie could see Mike audibly shiver.
“Much obliged Ma’am, but I best be on my way, thank you now.” He dipped his head and slipped back out into the yard. Callie watched him as hopped onto his bike and quickly disappeared down the path from the Barlow homestead. “So, you think he’s cute do you Calliope?” Callie froze, she could feel her mother’s eyes on her. As if feeling into her mind somehow. “Sure, in an awkward kind of way.” She tried to laugh it off, making her tone light, but her mother always knew. “Stay away from men like that Callie, I’ve told you before. They want what’s between your legs and nothing more.” Joanne began making breakfast, and Callie simply fell into the morning ritual once more.
“Listen this is official Park Ranger business, you know I can’t tell you that information. Besides, they aren’t technically missing persons yet, they’ve only been incommunicado for 3 hours or so. Really, any information we have from their girlfriends and the state coppers is private.” Chief Ranger Makowski was an imposing specimen. Standing at 6 foot 4 and about as broad, it was difficult for most people to argue with him. Of course, Jacob had known Ingrid Hanson since she was a small girl, and her tenacious nature had always endeared her to him. Although he admired her spirit, he was protective of the Ranger service which he had served for decades. It had increasingly come under fire for their inability to locate the mounting missing persons list. He would enforce the rules and regulations, in public at least.
“Ingrid, as soon as I get the go-ahead, you know I’ll call you, but right now it’s a private matter.” He smiled a rare smile and Ingrid rolled her eyes. “Alright curmudgeon, but I’ll be back.” Makowski huffed. “No need to throw your fancy college words at me, young lady.” He was still smiling in spite of himself though, as she flounced off.
Ingrid was thinking about how good a large coffee would feel to ward off her sleepiness and the cold of a Montana morning when she bounced off Chief Stevens. She landed on her ass and looked wearily up at into his face. There she observed in him the same equally dazed state. She simply groaned. “I’m not caffeinated enough to process this yet.”
“Oh Ingrid I’m so sorry are you ok?” He tried to help her up but she shooed him away. “I’m fine Mike, no worries, it was my own fault. It’s an early start and I skipped my morning coffee to get here. Chief Makowski won’t talk to me yet though, so I needed have bothered.” Her keen eyes studied the slumped posture of a man who usually stood proud in his newly earned Ranger uniform. “You ok Mike? You look like you could use a pick me up yourself.” Mike nodded gently. “I was just up at the Barlow homestead…” Ingrid normally wouldn’t have to ask for details, she knew the Barlows as well as anyone else from Mirth. However, her inquisitive nature was the story and she decided this might as well be included. “Let’s grab a coffee and have a chat, Mike.”
“So that’s all she said? That they would be ravenous?” Asked Ingrid doubtfully. Mike looked wounded. “I know but it’s the way she said it, and her eyes…” Ingrid nodded in understanding. Although it didn’t seem like much, Ingrid knew the look Mike was talking about. She had known Mike for most of his life too, she’d palled around with his older sister Mary in school, and he wasn’t a liar. No, there was definitely something weird about Joanne Barlow and it wasn’t her choice of words exactly. It was the emphasis she put on certain things that gave kids the creeps. Her sons were similarly weird if not more rambunctious. Yet Lucas was a typical Montana man. Quiet, hard-working and private. Well respected. The match between them had always struck people as odd.
Some had even gone so far to say that Joanne had used witchcraft, learned from her native ancestors, to trap Lucas. Ingrid always thought that was bullshit. Plus she’d always been uncomfortable with how old-seed Montanans had used ‘witchcraft’ as to describe a woman behaviour when they acted in a way they didn’t like. Ingrid had often thought if a man acted the way Joanne did they would just be labelled as unusual or strange. Joanne Stone had gone to university, which had been unheard of in her day. She’d studied the ‘classics’ whatever that passed for these days, and she’d insisted from day one that her children would be educated at home with her. It had worked so far. Though the boys had only gone to the local college for the environment or natural science, word on the street was their SATs scores where something to be very proud of.
Joanne had named her children after the Greek gods. Hephaestus was her eldest, Ares and Apollo were her twins and her youngest and only daughter was Calliope. This was the one and only thing that Lucas had pushed back on. He’d wanted to give his children family names. So the compromise was that their middle names were Greek, and first were good old fashioned Montana names. Yet they’d never gone by their first names. Heck Ingrid couldn’t even remember what they were. There was a good chance they were John, Joseph and Thomas, but she couldn’t be sure. She would need to look that up…
She snapped back to her conversation with Mike. Why would she need to look the names up? The Barlow family weren’t the story. The missing men were the story, and the rest of the missing in their droves. Flathead Park had a 78% higher missing persons rate than the national average. She’d found that out from intensive Google searches. “It really seems like Callie is the only ‘normal’ Barlow and I say ‘normal’ very lightly. She was listening to the trees when I arrived at the house this morning.” Ingrid tilted her head and frowned. “What do you mean listening to the trees?”
“Stevens, get your ass in gear, we’re heading out in 10!” Came Chief Makowski’s bellowing voice. Mike promptly jumped to his feet. “Sorry Ingrid gotta go, I’ll chat with you later, send me a text.” Ingrid nodded languidly as Mike hopped off to his newfound duty as Park Ranger. “You’re a long cry from playing dungeons and dragons with your friends Mike Stevens.” She sighed as she gathered her things. Now to sneak into the Rangers cabin to listen to the meeting.
Ingrid was met with an eye-roll from Makowski, but he didn’t ask her to leave. Truth be told, he was starting to worry about the increased disappearances and incessant attention it was getting from young people. They were doing over-night challenges in the supposedly haunted forest which they filmed and subsequently uploaded to their social media. We spent the night in a haunted forest and you’re not going to believe what happened. They were putting themselves in danger, and it was up to the Rangers to get them out of it. Maybe if someone like Ingrid covered the story it would prove a cautionary tale for future inexperienced campers.
It was customary for the Park Rangers to fall silent when Lucas Barlow entered the cabin. His presence was suffocating. Unlike Chief Makowski, Barlow was not a particularly tall man. It was his energy that naturally pulsated and disarmed you. His blue eyes could freeze, and although he was not considered to be a warm person, he helped each and every person that found themselves lost in the woods.
“What’s the 411 Makowski?” Barlow croaked as he lowered himself onto the bench, his sons looming behind him. “Simply put, two college kids approximately 21 years of age, go camping last night in the woods. They promised their terrified girlfriends that they would call in at 5.30am no later, on account of the ‘reputation’ our forest seems to be getting.” Barlow’s eyes narrowed at that. “When they didn’t check-in, they call the police, they called me, I called in the staff.” Makowski moved his arm to display the fine team of men and women assembled. He looked at Ingrid closely when he said the next part.
“The girlfriends also sent us a video that the boys sent to them around 3.30am this morning, before daybreak. It’s not very clear, but it appears as though the boys are being attacked. We cannot verify this for sure, or even if it is real, however, we will proceed with caution. If it was a lion attack we will need to be vigilant. I will now show you the video.” Chief Makoswi cast the video onto the large wall projector. Stevens turned off the light so they could get a better view, but the morning sunlight was started to make that difficult.
The video started with content which is common on YouTube or other social media these days. The boys joking around, filming each other. Setting up a poor camp. Chief Makowski skipped along until they got to the pertinent part. Boy number one spoke up in the darkness. “What the fuck was that Aiden?” He panned the camera around in the swift jerky motions. “Did you hear that, what the fuck was it?” Boy number two answered. “I don’t fucking know I’ve never heard an animal make a noise like that before.”
Shuffling noises, like leaves and tent canvas. Silence, all but for the heavy breathing of the boys. Then an inhuman screeching noise, which started out low then built in a horrific crescendo. Even hardened Rangers seemed disquieted by the sound, as they shook their heads, shifted in their seats and even covered their ears. When the screeching came to a halt, the maddened sound of a predator racing towards the boys and their own version of screeching began. Then nothing.
“Now the girlfriends say they received no message with this video as if it was set to automatically send to them. Like I said, we don’t know if this is a hoax or not so I would advise caution. We all know wild animals can make a variety of noises…”
“I’ve never heard one that sounded like the damned goat guardians of hell before though!” Called out one of the senior rangers and laughter erupted. When Makowski and Barlow didn’t join them it quickly died down. “Like I was saying. This could all be a joke, but it’s our duty to check it out regardless. However, we do not put ourselves at unnecessary risk so be on the lookout for lions or even bears. Now we will break into the usual parties of 4. Someone is designated as the leader…”
Not that anyone would have noticed, but Makowski and Barlow weren’t the only ones not to laugh at the Ranger’s poorly timed joke. Ingrid’s eyes had glazed over as she began recalling her interviews with those who had been recovered from the forest after being missing for days. She remembered how they had described the exact sound she had just heard from the missing boys’ video.
*Chapter II will be available next Friday the 11th of October, until then click here for some more stories to keep you going*