Friday, April 27, 2012

The Holland Michigan Radar-Visual UFO Case, part three and final.

This will be my final swing at this case in this series at least. This entry is not about the case as much as it is about human beings and how we can be semi-hilarious in the ways we goof things up. I might have entitled this part the whacky aftermath.

Sometime after the actual event but prior to CUFOS finally giving up on the hoped-for second MUFON Journal entry or the possibilities of interviewing calmed-down potentially key witnesses, I was sitting in my home in Kalamazoo having an ordinary day when a nicely done small Michigan-based newsletter showed up in the mail. On the front page was a very interesting headline: "NON-EXISTENT DOCUMENTS DISCOVERED!" Since these documents were associated with the Holland Case, this was a bit riveting. Some relatively unknown UFOlogist had done a very reasonable thing. He had been asking the USAF for any report that they had made about the incident and finally, having got nothing, formally FOIAd them. Result? Release of documents!! Hurrah!!

Turning into the newsletter I found this. It was a memorandum for the files concerning this FOIA. The USAF or at least the office which fielded the request, had nothing to send. BUT the officer contacted NOAA DC HQ and asked them if they had anything. Records were sent and then on to the UFOlogist.
I still wasn't on-board as to what I was reading and avidly turned the next page. This is what I saw:

The chart looked eerily familiar. I turned more pages and page-after-page these USAF secret documents looked like ...... Until my brain settled down and got a grasp on the situation, I thought --- no, I wasn't operating on thought much at all --- I felt that I'd entered some bizarre reality where USAF secret documents somehow paralleled my own. Now WAIT A MINUTE!!! After a few moments I finally snapped back to sanity and said: These ARE my documents!! How-in-the-heck did THIS happen??

Well, I'd forgotten that the Station manager had kept a duplicate set. I hadn't thought that naturally he'd have sent his file sooner-or-later to NOAA HQ. When the USAF officer called NOAA for documents on the case, there they were to send over to the USAF and on to Michigan. Well!! I'd never made secret documents before and participated in a government conspiracy, but by gum I'd gotten my chance and come through admirably.

All that was a bit of hilarity once it sorted out, but I never could get the newsletter editor to get the "problem" straightened out. Somewhere someone still believes that these are secret documents.

The second odd bit of sociology involves these guys. The UFO Hunters wanted to do a program in which part of the show was the Holland case. They asked if they could come over and talk and film --- I as the old science prof would at least add some street cred to the film.

I'll make this as brief as possible. They rolled in with three vehicles and took up most of the day [no pay, of course]. They accessed my files, I talked to Pat Uskert [the scruffier guy to the right, and in my view easily the sharpest and most civilized of the bunch] at length and explained the case. They re-arranged my garage, moving about heavy items to form their desired filming space, and we filmed a few minutes of tape. I suggested to them that they had an opportunity to actually do some useful UFOlogy here by correlating on-the-ground witness testimony to the radarman's information. They used that line on the air, BUT INSTEAD JUST "CORRELATED" MY DRAWINGS MADE AT THE STATION WITH WHAT THE RADARMAN SAID!! DUHHHH!!!! Naturally they correlated perfectly... Good Lord save us!. But boy did they brag that up on the episode. I have no idea as to whether someone had a complete brainrot moment there [but I don't think so; Uskert is way too intelligent for that] or if Bill Birnes just decided to go with a manipulation of the truth. And I have no faith whatsoever in the as-advertised MIT scientist, as he said on one of the shows that you need THREE simultaneous observations to triangulate something, whereas bonehead geometry shows that you only need two.

But happily they drove off, leaving abandoned paper trash from their lunch all over the place, other debris in the back yard, and the heavy cabinets they moved not moved back into their place. But they were a happy jovial lot of adventurers.

So that finishes MY Holland adventure. Some very good. Some very whacky. Generally a lot of fun and good old tales to tell nieces and nephews. Hope you enjoyed them, too.

I'm back to WV in a day. Don't know how quick I'll be able to address the blog again, but I'm not giving up on it yet.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Holland, MI Radar-Visual UFO Case, part two.

 In part two of this legendary saga, I'm going to try to sketch out how CUFOS and I got involved with the case. That involvement ultimately led to the publication of our findings in the article in the International UFO Reporter above. Those findings encompassed only a small, albeit vital, portion of the case, as other investigators allegedly were getting the mass of the on-the-ground fieldwork data. As said in part one, it turns out that those "other" researchers were either NOT getting the fieldwork data or that data was never utilized and promulgated to the rest of us. We didn't know that at the time, of course.

CUFOS got word of this explosion of UFOs over Western Michigan at about the same time that everyone else did, but CUFOS was by that time in its history no longer an organization which did onsite fieldwork except in very special circumstances. Still, CUFOS Director, Mark Rodeghier, decided that this one sounded like we should at least we should dip our toe in the water. He knew that I was not a field researcher, but that I had a friend, an old NICAP member, who used to do that. So that's who he called. My friend began looking into this.

It was instantly obvious that a chaotic circus had immediately commenced. Witnesses, other than the Graves family, were being assaulted in paparazzi fashion and being turned off everywhere. The 911 operator told my friend that he knew of a few witnesses who had seen quite a bit, but who had told him that under no circumstances was he to let out their names. One guy was an ex-USAF colonel who lived south along the coast and who would have been a superior addition to the story. But no way.

The NOAA station manager had told everyone flat that there would be no interviewing any station personnel especially the night operator who took the 911 call. They wanted none of the grief. My friend made contact not only with them [briefly] but went on to talk with NOAA HQ in Washington DC. He made a good impression. Ultimately they called him back and said that he could have the only interview with the staff, BUT he would have to bring that WMU science professor with him when he came [he'd played my "PhD card" to them over the phone]. So I was stuck with a field investigation if we wanted access.

So, off we went to Muskegon. The manager met us at the gate --- extremely nice, friendly person. With the allegedly responsible University Professor aboard, he was delighted to show us the facility. And that he did. The young man who operated the radar that night was there to guide us through the action, and to show us the operation of the radarscope. He was extremely competent, demonstrating the sorts of signals that one gets from planes, weather, anomalous propagation, how the height finder works, and exactly what he did that night. We went into a chart room where he could put a map up on a large screen and point out blow-by-blow how the blips went. I sat there making notes and mini-drawings as you see the "artifacts" of the event above.

The station manager watched me making my mini-drawings and said "Wait! We can make this better. Here are some blanks that we use; make a set on these and you take them with you, and we'll make a set of copies for NOAA's files". That seemed both highly cooperative, useful, and reasonable all around, so that's what we did. I am going to possibly overkill now by posting all nine of the maps of the radar returns that I made. Some of you can just flip past this, others might find the moment-to-moment action fascinating. The shapes and the positions and the sizes are very accurate to the young radarman's experience --- he checked them all. Obviously pay no attention to the color as that is just my way of making the blips stand out --- the scope does not include color. [What you're getting here, by the way, are scans of the duplicates that I kept when I sent the originals to CUFOS. NOAA as said made their duplicates just as we finished there. My copier was fading at the time, so this first map is blurry but things sharpen up as we go.]

 The first successful sweep is mapped above. He sees a large kidney-bean-shaped return near the coast at about the right distance and area [South Haven]. The kidney bean is more than twice the size of a typical commercial airline, but has a hard return as if composed of something as radar reflective as metal.

Suddenly, in about one second, the single blip manifests as three. These have moved slightly WSW, still in the South Haven area.

Rapidly the array turns more to a triangular positioning, and ascends to a significantly greater height.

 A fourth blip manifests, more or less in a diamond array [these "objects" are, however also at different altitudes --- you are only seeing the array as viewed from above --- so the "diamond" would be a three-dimensional thing rather than a flat-faced piece of geometry].

 The top object suddenly "jumps" out over the lake, while the bottom object seems to vanish. At this point sanity seems to have left the building. The bottom objects are now over Benton Harbor and Decatur Michigan.

 The top object goes further over the lake and the other two seem to chase it to catch up. The fourth object re-flickers back into existence, just popping back in for a second, and gone again.

Now the triangular array seems re-formed, all well out into the lake, having moved at great speed to get there. There were a couple of "paints" that I didn't map, but which show the trailing two objects chasing the "leader" to reform the array. The trailing two don't necessarily move to re-form at the same time.

 Now the leader jumps again to the south, and the remaining two jump again afterwards to reform what was to the radar operator pretty close to an equilateral triangle.

The last of this madness may have been the strangest as the objects disappear to be replaced by a beehive of small dots in a concentrated area in the lake off Chicago. The operator had seen radar-interfering Aluminum "chaff" deployed before, and said that this was not at all like those returns. Then, the scope was empty of even the beehive.

The operator also showed me what his height-finding radar was manifesting that night --- I've drawn colored bars on one of his blanks to show that above. These things gave back "spikes" which stood as if suspended in the air, but which terminated quite high [unlike anything which anomalous propagation would do.] There was a sudden leap in height from 25,000' to nearly 50,000' which occurred at the most in 17 seconds. So the return gained that altitude at roughly 1100mph. Some of the lateral jump speeds seemed greater.

So, smiles all around, we left the station with what seemed, and still seems, some first class testimony for a magnificent mystery. We stumbled upon some people from WMU shortly afterwards [student pilots, and a geology field trip group --- the assistant professor of the geo-group happened to occasionally sit by me in Church] and they told coherent and supportive tales of lights moving on high in good time concurrence with what might have happened just after the Chicago "disappearance".

We waited a long time to see the MUFON report in print. "Part One" came out in the Journal, a fairly intriguing but shallow presentation, but the promised "Part Two" never appeared. We waited longer to see if things would ever settle down so that the USAF Colonel would be willing to talk to us, but no. The sketch below shows how valuable his testimony could have been, as it was well possible that he was directly beneath the phenomenon when it suddenly leapt strait upwards. In the end, I finally gave up and wrote up what you've just read for IUR.

Part three of this current series, if I ever make it, will cover the aftermath of this thing, which included some "sociology" which was almost as weird as the encounter itself. Till then.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Holland MI Radar-Visual UFO Case, March 8, 1994, part one:

Well folks, the blog controllers have decided to mess around with their technology and have managed to produce a system which so far maximizes the unpredictability of what I'm trying to achieve with illustration placement and the ability to type around the things rationally. In fact basically everything that they have suddenly sprung on here "new" is creating some form of unexpected response as in contrast with the way it used to work. I am going to try to create a blog entry regardless. 

This entry if it ever sees the light of e-space is supposed to be about the Holland, MI radar case. That case is the only true UFO case of which I ever participated in an investigation. It surprised me when I searched this blog and found that I apparently never told the story. So, here goes.

The newspaper article at the top is one of probably hundreds which reported these events, and as you veterans know, it made international news due to the involvement of the Muskegon MI NOAA radar station which watched odd things on their scope in real time, all the while being recorded by the 911 operator in Ottawa County.

The map at the left [at least I hope that it ends up somewhere in the vicinity] shows the approximate locations of the NOAA radar station [at "A"], the most famous of the observations [by the Graves family, at the pink dewdrop], and several of the other reported sightings, marked with yellow circles, all of which were reported as happening at or VERY near 9:30pm. Rather astonishing. And I believe a little known fact about this case. It was as if Western Michigan "lit up" with UFOs at the same time.

When these first calls came rushing in, the 911 operator thought that the hullaballoo was worth notifying a police officer to respond, and he, officer Jeff Velthouse, drove his squad car over to the area of the first two callers. The map above shows the area he went to. Both of the first two callers resided in close proximity to one another. The famous callers, the Graves, are located in the house surrounded by the red color; the "unknown" caller, Troy Prince, lived in an apartment marked with the dewdrop with the "A" inside it. The yellow dots indicate the position of the UFO at its closest to the Graves' home.

It is hard to count the number of the ways in which this case was botched. Some of it was understandable; some not at all. The most understandable initial botching was when officer Velthouse was going over to interview Troy Prince, he got a message that if he would instead go to the Graves' house, he would see the UFO for himself. This he naturally did, and seems to have never gotten back to Troy Prince. This is hardly Velthouse's fault, as UFO field investigation is not his job. It IS the "job" of UFO field investigators and they roundly blew it. Fortunately, enough "good stuff" was collected anyway, so that the case became strong, despite the UFOlogists' best efforts to bungle the entire affair.


The Graves family were thankfully interviewed by a MUFON operative and a set of pretty good field reports taken. Weirdly, though the primary field investigator did his job, the reports were never really utilized. For instance, there never appeared any such illustrations of what the various family members saw, as I have extracted from those files and give you on the left [I think the left, this thing is acting up unbelievably]. [At the moment, it won't even give me a preview so I can see if any of this is making spatial sense]. Also, the "maps" of the local area of the Graves and Prince sightings are never constructed and published by Michigan MUFON HQ. [ I must say that this occurred unfortunately before the time of my good friends Bill and Linda Murphy as leaders of Michigan MUFON, As they were of the highest competence and we would have had an even more lollapaloosa of a case than we do. Still, we have a lot, almost by accident, to make this thing a classic of mystery.

Whereas we have a lot to thank the initial MUFON field investigator who interviewed the Graves, praise is difficult to pass out elsewhere. AND as I hinted, I am not sure that the most significant corroborating witness in the whole affair, Troy Prince, was ever interviewed in any orderly fashion. At the least, I have never seen the field report document, nor have I seen where such information has been published. The only published thing that we have from him comes from the 911 dispatcher, who says that Troy said "We are seeing four lights going back and forth. It's a circle of lights and they split apart leaving three, split apart leaving just two. Then they are like a 'V'...."This is actually quite good confirmation of the Graves' drawings above, as it sounds like a person witnessing a slightly tilted disk which spins and you can't see all the lights at the same time. Imagine how solidly firmed up the close encounter would be with a good disciplined report... AND note that Prince says "we" --- multiple witnesses again. It is this close encounter which occurs right within the explosion of other cases and the radar witnessing, which takes this case far beyond any simple explanation. That the primary documentation was either never even gotten, nor when it was, was never promulgated and analyzed, ranks among the criminal incompetencies of our field. 

Below is the expanded map which I've made to illustrate the close encounter piece of these experiences. The Graves' son spots the thing first right in front of the house over the street. To him it manifests as a circle of five pretty colored lights. His sister rushes out and sees the same manifestation just slightly further away across the street. Mrs. Graves follows and sees the circle of colored lights spinning, which she feels are mounted on an object. The object is still very close at that time. Finally Dad gets out of the house and sees a circle of colored lights moving down the street. He also believes this to be a solid object. By the time Officer Velthouse gets there, and even though this initial motion has been like a slow cruising, the thing is fairly far away and he basically sees just two lights, or perhaps it is just two at a time. It is still plenty of corroborating testimony to make it all stand up. Our "credibility" is very high, and our "strangeness" quite high as well. 

The case of course was rocking and rolling elsewhere in MIchigan at the same time which then led to the famous NOAA radarman's contribution and the excited tape recording which went worldwide almost instantly. All this was nearly botched completely by the media and the UFOlogists as well. The "circus" of both uncivilized media people, some poking cameras into witnesses' windows, and UFOlogists suggesting to witnesses that they were probably abducted, produced an atmosphere where pretty rapidly almost no one wanted to be bugged about any aspect of the case, even if the request came  from a responsible reporter or investigator. Muskegon's Mike Walsh was one such excellent reporter who got some information, which he used responsibly and intelligently, but who ran into stone walls due to the idiot element of the scene. 

I'm going to pick the story up in a day or so, with the radarman's tale, how CUFOS got involved, and thereby how I did. It will be, in part, a true "inside the radar-room" account of what actually happened there, and a few other things as well.  Till then folks. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Recent Fuss About The Exeter Case

Some time ago I mentioned the famous Exeter, NH case after midnight on the third of September 1965. [I think that it was in one of the blog entries on CE1s]. Lately I've become aware of a lot of hullaballoo and even name-calling about the case. This regards a debunking effort being made by notorious CSICOP member, Joe Nickell [pictured to the left], and James McGaha [pictured next below]. Now I have read many debunkings by Nickell. Sometimes I can agree with what he's doing [his reconstruction of a Nazca Plain image was right on target and eliminated one extremist comment that some people were making about how "impossible" it would be to make an accurate design on that scale without having some aerial oversight --- everything from ancient astronauts to hot-air balloons were being hypothesized.] But I believe that Nickell seems [to me anyway] to be enjoying his debunking hobby so much that he is always on the hunt for another kill. So, he has put the Exeter case into his sights, and believes that he has blown it away.

This is naturally of some interest to me. The case has long stood as a CE1 classic, was investigated by not only the local Pease AFB UFOB officer [who credited it], but also one of UFOlogy's best, the 1965 version of Ray Fowler. J.Allen Hynek was impressed by the case and included it as a foundational example in his The UFO Experience.

The case was judged as having credible multiple witnesses [by everybody] and a strong smoothly visualizable narrative [i.e. the story had a natural context and flowed]. Also, though somewhat irrelevantly, it was the subject of a major book in the field, John Fuller's Incident at Exeter. So this is important in UFOlogical history, if one can say that anything is.

The other author of this debunking attempt is a person named James McGaha. I really don't know much about him. I seem to remember someone saying that he's retired USAF but claim no insight. I've heard his name occasionally over the years, but none of his debunks seem to have made an impression on me.

So, what are these guys claiming? N&M are saying that the Exeter CE1 was caused by the witnesses seeing a lengthy re-fueling operation where the fuel-bearing tanker was using red-colored strobe lights to guide the plane-to-be-refueled into place. That's the nub of their concept anyway.

At Exeter the general concept of the witnesses report was of bright red lights flashing, so one can see how a superficial analyst could read that and begin to build up an alternative hypothesis to debunk the case. Happily, this is another example of the debunker's predilection for having a simple brain gush, disregarding massive amounts of the actual witness testimony, and force fit an inadequate thought into an inappropriate situation.

Fortunately for us, and the search for Truth [which these --- jeez I want to put an uncivilized adjective in here --- "speculators" care almost nothing about], we have almost all the field investigation forms for Muscarello, Bertrand, and Hunt [ which were made very promptly at the time] available to any veteran researcher in one's files. My own Exeter file is about an inch and a half thick with all the USAF, Fowler, and Fuller interview materials.

Just to give you the answer that you already expect: those interview files show that the N&M speculation is itself bunk. Who would have guessed?

My modus operandi today is to give information directly out of those reports. Two of the witnesses were policemen [Hunt and Bertrand, pictured to the left] and were deemed as of the highest credibility/honesty. Since the third witness, 19-year old Norman Muscarello, basically agrees with them, one can reasonably give him high marks as well. Three witnesses... high credibility... was there enough "strangeness"?

Muscarello originally was confronted by the object [a thing with several very bright lights in a line] while, in his judgement it was nearby over a farm house. He was looking almost West at the time. He said that the object wobbled as it flew, the line of lights changing angles constantly from sloughed downwards left to flat to sloughed downwards right. The thing scared him greatly and he ultimately got to the police department and told his story.

One of the police officers [Eugene Bertrand] had interacted with a near hysterical woman [unidentified] earlier who said that her car had been chased by a brilliant red glowing object, which dived at her auto several times. He hadn't taken that seriously before but now he was beginning to. He went back with Muscarello to the farm area. Nothing. They walked down into the field. Nothing.

Then Bertrand saw a bright red light rise over a treeline. In fact it was a line of bright red lights which encompassed about a quarter's diameter [held at arm's length] when first spotted. Then the object began to come nearer --- now a baseball diameter --- now a grapefruit in diameter.

It seemed to Bertrand that this thing had to actually swing around a tall tree in order to enter the field in which they stood. They were looking just north of east at the time, so whatever it was had been moving about.

Bertrand was so astonished by the severe brightness of the lights as the thing approached, that he thought that there was a chance that they could be burned by them if the thing came right up to them. They turned and ran from it and, in their estimation, the thing stopped at about 100' closest approach. Meanwhile, farm animals and a neighbor's dog were in full distress. Bertrand called for back-up.

The thing then began to move off to the southeast. In five minutes, Officer Hunt got out there and watched the thing continue to move to the southeast, towards Hampton and the sea, for another five. Sometime later, a hysterical man called Hampton police and said that he had been chased by a UFO.

That's a thumbnail with the most significant elements of the case. Note that a distant re-fueling operation seems hardly cogent. Why then would anyone come up with this? It's classic debunker brain-rot. One of the debunkers heard that the angle of the Exeter lights was about 60 degrees, and, since this is the angle which the re-fueling hose dangles, by gum THAT must be it!! Witness testimony? Say no more!! I've heard all that I need to!!!!

I'd like to put this stupidity out of its misery by just noting one clear and dramatic fact. Bertrand and Muscarello were so staggered by the severe brightness of the red light that they thought they were in danger of being damaged by it. Now, how in the hell could anyone say, with a straight face, that this could be caused by a distant airplane operation?? Answer: no one with a properly operating mind and conscience.

And that's where a lot of the truth may lie here. I participate in a football fan board just for some mindless fun. It's my old university and I still like to watch them play [when they win]. Often on that board we get idiots whose "fun" is posting things just to get people riled up. It is a type of soul-dead nastiness which resides in some people. Sick brains who enjoy causing other people stress just for their own ha-ha-ha's. I'm becoming more convinced all the time that this is the big motivator for the majority of debunkers. On the boards we call them "trolls". Ugly morons who "troll" the internet waters trying to hook naive fish with their intellectual worms. On internet boards, these trollers have found that the best trolling is just to invent things bearing little relationship to Truth. Well, fellas, CSICOP beat you to it long ago. They've been scaling to new heights of intellectual dishonesty and un-care for decades. All Hail the "mental" criminals!!!

So, there is Exeter. Still strong after all these years. No USAF vehicles about to nearly burn the witnesses with their brightness. But plenty of skeptical dimness to last a lifetime. If those boneheads actually wanted to try to construct an alternative hypothesis which had a chance, they might expand their universe a bit and bring in the Real trolls to replace ET. At least They might be able to pull the appearances off.

Oh, wait a minute... I said those guys expand their view of the Universe ..... Nevermind.

Addendum: some of you might appreciate this. In 1991, when CUFOS officer John Timmerman was taking the photo exhibit around the country, he made a stop in Tucson, AZ. Several very interesting encounters were told him there in the now [to me] legendary depository of wonderful real-people UFO reports called "The Timmerman Files". As John stood with the exhibit one of the days, who should step up to him but James McGaha. It did not take John long to assess the value of his approach to our mystery.

"James McGaha. And I live in Tucson, AZ. I retired from the Air Force about forty days ago, as an air force pilot. I've been an amateur astronomer for 35 years and I'm currently a graduate student at the University of Arizona in astronomy. Chairman of Tucson Skeptics and I'm on the UFO subcommittee of CSICOP."

John: "That's enough. I appreciate your coming by." "End of tape".

Bless you, John.

Monday, April 2, 2012

E.V.B. & The Haunted Wood

Hello again, folks. I'm back in Michigan but who knows for how long. Mother is reaching a critical moment, as my relatives can no longer take care of her in their home, and no other family member can either. So, it will be a professional care facility... a very good one, but nevertheless.... This has not quite happened yet, but soon. How disruptive it will be is an experiment that the Universe is beginning to run. But, to try for some pleasant distraction, and maybe even do someone a little good, I'll throw a blog entry out there.

This thing was stimulated by the happy accident of a new friend [a rather off-center old-time bookseller] attempting to preserve some old publications from the library of a closing Catholic school, and offering them for sale. They were old bound magazines mainly from the 1860 to 1910 era. As I like that old stuff, and share his desire that it be preserved, I bought the lot. There were several types of journals, including things like Scribners, Atlantic Monthly, and Littells Living Age. I thumbed through a couple not expecting to find much actually, but stumbled upon an excerpt from a book called The Peacock's Pleasaunce by "E.V.B.".

EVB is Eleanor Vere Boyle a very accomplished children's fantasy book illustrator of the latter half of the 19th century. One of her paintings is at the top of the page. She was also a writer and a master gardener. In The Peacock's Pleasaunce she wrote about her experiences in the estate, gardens, and woods nearby. Most of it was "charming" but fairly ordinary. But within the rest of the stories, she had four tales right up our alley.

The first of those tales involved a ball of string ... or was it?? [This story, by the way, has a confusing status. One cannot readily tell from the way it is written whether EVB intends it as a mere reverie that she is imagining in the garden, or whether this is a remembrance of a tale told to her by real people and which she is vividly replaying in her mind. There are legitimate reasons within the tale for believing either: it begins reverie-like but ends with detailed non-reverie comments about the family involved and the site. So.... who knows?].

EVB tells the story this way: a father and daughter were at home at night, when the daughter decided to retire, going up a familiar but unlighted stairway. As she ascended, she continuously felt impeded about her feet and ankles by string or yarn. She tugged at it until reaching the top of the stairs where she could turn on more light. Here was pink yarn all about the stairs entangling her. She went about showing her father and ripping up all the "foreign" yarn and balling it up. She accused the servants of playing games, but, given their character, that didn't make much sense, and they denied any such tomfoolery, which was, in any sense dangerous on a stairway. Still angry about whatever this was, she put the ball of yarn into a cupboard with a lock on it.

Shortly she and her father went temporarily away and the cupboard was left locked. When they returned three months later, she remembered the strange affair, and went upstairs to fetch out the ball of yarn. It was gone. She had kept the only key with her the whole time she was away. Everything else in the cupboard was just as she remembered leaving it.

This whole business shocked her. She refused to take things like "little people tricksters" into serious account, and was left making up even more outlandish hypotheses. She decided that the pink yarn must not have been yarn at all, but some strange thing alive. It had flexed and shrunk and wiggled its way out of its confinement. All that despite that it had exhibited none of these requisite properties when she was ripping it up, and handling it.

For us on this blog, the incident, if it really happened, is classic tricksterism. Despite its weirder context, it is exactly like what my sister experiences all the time at her home, except that her stuff "magically" reappears in precisely the places where she had already [obsessively... don't tell her I said that] checked multiple times.

So, to the second encounter: In this one EVB tells of someone searching for his stray sheep getting far afield in the place she calls "The Haunted Wood" and there sees the following.

"A long procession of wild beasts passed silently before his eyes --- elephants, tigers, giraffes, camels, lions. He watched them as they filed on, turning neither left nor right, faring north between him and the clear, cold skyline. And all those living creatures, half transparent and wholly rainbow-coloured, seemed as though they were but appearances of painted glass, like moving colours in some old church window; violet and blue and amber and fire-colour."

EVB hints that the shepherd died within about a month of his encounter. She also said that she had heard of a person on the Isle of Man who had the same vision, but this inside the house. She felt that these visions shrouded some inner "living force" or "secret power" within the animals in the procession, but goes no further.

I have absolutely no means of gauging what could be behind such experiences. Denizens from "The World Alongside"? or "just" human hallucinations?

EVBs third encounter tale involved the American poet and essayist James Russell Lowell. She was sitting in her garden near her wood and was feeling the living "magic" of it, when the story that Lowell had written of an encounter that he had in a [to her] similar forested area in New York. He was walking at the forest's edge when he passed what he took to be a normal "homestead" nestled in the woods. It was like a small neatly kept farmhouse with clean utensils and pans and dairy gear sitting out to dry, but no one to be seen, despite the open cottage door. There was even a clothesline full of hanging laundry. Lowell simply passed by, but suddenly had a strange feeling of the Uncanny. He turned about to retrace his steps, but the cottage no longer was there. He never could find it again. In the town, the locals knew of this .... whatever it was .... and could recount a few who had seen the vanishing building, milking accoutrements and all. Lowell referred to it as The Witch Farm.

This is the peculiar sort of thing that we see all about the paranormal landscape, and even encroaching into UFO files as well. In fact, I have several cases in my files, which I believe better fit the "phantom parallel reality" slippage model much better than a simple old "UFOs did it" claim. These sorts of things also seem like the Phantom Hitch-hikers to a degree, and my family's stunning Helen Lane case. Certain experiences where the rates-of-time-passage between being-in-the-zone and back to normal reality seem a lot easier to imagine with some kind of slippage between close-twin natural settings than with UFOnauts manufacturing near-perfect Earth copies, or even just messing inside our minds.

The fourth and last of the EVB tales was her own experience of wandering in her woods and, while following a "wide-winged silvery, pale-green moth" [hmmmm.... I wonder], went up to where the moth had landed on the underside of a leaf, and pushed up the leaf to see it better. Instead the nearby branches shifted and just beyond them was a surprising clearing like a perfectly naturally arrayed garden more or less circular in shape. A mist seemed to circle it about, but the Sun shown down gloriously on the brilliant display of flowers. Then, she stepped inside. The mist rose and closed in upon the garden so densely that she no longer could see it. In fact, she was forced to retreat quite a way to get beyond this mist, and once things seemed normal could not find that garden spot again.

We have read of the passage across the "barrier" to some other natural space several times before on this blog. Ron Quinn passed on two cracking good cases of such in his book about upper New York state Little People tales. Diarmuid MacManus calls the phenomenon The Stray Sod. Whatever's going on here, it doesn't go on nearly enough for my romantic tastes. I wouldn't mind being able to slip back and forth between this hard old reality and those beautiful gardens, woods, mountains readily.

But, seriously, I think that "what is going on here", despite it's regrettable rarity, IS IN FACT GOING ON. Were all these tales by EVB just reveries? Maybe. Some didn't read at all like that though. But even if they were, we have plenty more to bank on. What then IS this? It doesn't feel at all like UFOs or any other "this universe" type of phenomenon. It feels like Loch Ness Monsters, and Faerie encounters, Mothman, or Pookhas. It feels like a door briefly opens and we go through or something comes in. We and those somethings are not alike. We are obedient to the scientific textbook laws; they are not. When we or they pass back across the boundary, neither of us leaves anything "material" behind. Footprints on the sand. That is all.

And what did EVB believe?? Let's see .... what was that she was always making paintings about??