Hunting Ghosts in the World’s Largest Prehistoric Cemetery

bahrain burial mounds view from the air

Bahrain’s ghosts have been around since – well – since words were first scratched into clay.  Back in 1890, writer J.T. Bent described Bahrain’s inner desert as a “vast sea of sepulchral mounds.”

One of the world’s largest, Bronze Age, cemeteries, the Sumerians called ancient Bahrain, Dilmun, the place where no man or woman cried or felt sickness.  The legend was the neighboring countries sent their dead to Bahrain to live out their eternity in Paradise.

Bahrain burial mounds

Today, the 170,000 burial mounds are believed to be the final resting place for five centuries of island inhabitants and not the neighboring countries’ relatives.  Whether or not the dead were locals, the island still carries their ghostly memories.

Funny enough, these ghosts leave their mark on the island’s transient, expatriate population.

Writer and cultural commentator, Deonna Kelli Sayed, was one resident whose years living on the island impacted her life in ways she may not have anticipated.  Although we never had a conversation about the island’s ghosts during our writing classes, it was while living in Bahrain that Deonna became fascinated with ghost hunters.

After she and her family moved back to the USA, she literally began following the Syfy Channel’s paranormal investigators and documenting her experiences.

Paranormal obsession by deonna kelli sayed ghost hunting

Her adventures and interest in culture led to her first book, Paranormal Obsession where she investigated America’s interest in the paranormal since 9/11.

so you want to hunt ghosts by deonna kelli sayed

But her second book, So You Want to Hunt Ghosts: A Down to Earth Guide, is the one you might want to consider if you are interested in investigating for yourself whether or not ghosts are real.  The book “explains how to conduct historical research on your case, how to properly document your discoveries, and how popular media and ghost hunting TV shows have impacted the modern paranormal community.”

deonna kelli sayed american muslim bahrain ghosts

Deonna Kelli Sayed is a fascinating Global Citizen.  She talks about her first paranormal experience in New York, her multi-cultural family and living in Bahrain in this January 2013 interview on That’s Some AmericanMuslim Life.

Sweden’s Mikael Gustafsson – One Billion a Sign for Change

Mikael Gustafsson

“We can’t allow that half this world’s inhabitants have to live in fear of violence and rape.”

Sweden’s Mikael Gustafsson, MEP, was the first man to be elected the Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in 2011.

Last December, Mikael Gustafsson produced this video highlighting the upcoming February 14th – One Billion Women Rising – an event highlighting the fact that 1 in 3 women will experience violence and rape during her lifetime.

Good things come from Sweden.

John F Gustafson around 1910 from Iowa

My great, great grandfather was also a Gustafson from Sweden.  In his small Iowa community, where he served as the Justice of the Peace for twenty-four years, John F. Gustafson was “one of the highly honored and esteemed citizens of the community”.

Mikael Gustafsson, a man who declares he is “a feminist”, feels to me like a sign that positive change is on the horizon.


I voted.

However, knowing that I do not have all the answers, my prayer was “Please let the Best Man to lead the USA for the next four years win.”

Let the Rumi Begin

This class takes place in beautiful Santa Barbara, California.  Sorry Bahrain.


The Julia Club

Finishing the 500-odd paged Dearie I started thinking about how French cooking changed the lives of authors Julia Stuart and Julia Child.

Classic French dishes were the inspiration for their first books: sole meuniere for Julia Child and a haricot bean and meat cassoulet for Julia Stuart.

In Stuart’s The Matchmaker of Perigord the story starts describing a son’s devotion to his mother’s thirty-one year cassoulet and its crucial element: a preserved duck leg.  So important was his mother’s recipe that a village feud started over a cassoulet’s proper ingredients.

‘Monsieur Moreau,’ she began.  ‘Forgive me, but it is a matter of utmost importance and a true Frenchman such as yourself will know the definitive answer.  Should a cassoulet have tomatoes in it or not?’

According to Dearie, co-Authors Julia and Simone Beck, aka Simca, nearly came to blows over the proper cassoulet for Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  They tried twenty-eight recipes with and without goose before agreeing on the final version – which did NOT call for tomatoes.

In Stuart’s The Tower, The Zoo and the Tortoise, the Tower ravens ate the tail of Beefeater Balthazar Jones’ 181-year old tortoise for lunch.  Although the famous ravens ate it raw, right off Mrs. Cook’s fleshy backside, Julia Child suggested adding mustard and grating a little cheese to enhance steak tartare.

Stuart’s most recent book, The Pigeon Pie Mystery is about an Indian cook who uses a 1897 recipe for pigeon pie.  Her problem began after she altered the instructions.  Instead of carving innocuous leaves into the pastry’s top, she garnished the pie with three bird legs pointing towards the sky ensuring it was eaten by the Major-General Bagshot.

Roasted pigeon was the first Cordon Bleu dish Julia Child served to her husband, Paul.  And it was one of the first dinners she prepared that didn’t nearly kill him.

There are other similarities between Julia Child and Julia Stuart.

Both women were “trailing spouses” who followed their husbands overseas.

Neither Julia aspired to be an Expat Houswife.  Without ever having written a book, both women fearlessly changed her business card to Author and devoted eight-hours a day to her new-found passion.

When Julia Stuart asked English authorities for permission to do research at the Tower of London, they denied her access.

Disguising herself as a Tourist, she took another route to research English ghosts like Margaret Pole, the Countess of Salisbury,

“who was chased by a hacking axe man after his first blow failed to remove her head.”

After interviewing Beefeaters, Stuart incorporated the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace apartments into her story then filled them with eccentric characters.  Her clandestine research made English history interesting – especially for Americans.  Today the English edition of her book, Balthazar Jones and the Tower Zoo can be purchased in the Tower of London’s gift shop.

Julia Child succeeded despite the famous stand-off with Madame Bressard.

After passing her Cordon Bleu exam she went out, and with her French allies Simca, Louisette Bertholle, met every famous French cook.  Together they gathered their secret recipes then tested each one for Mastering the Art of French Cooking, converting the French measurements into something useable for American housewives.  Fifty years later, the cookbook continues to sell to new generations of cooks.

Neither Julia is or was a professional actress but on camera their breathless enthusiasm and laughter makes me want to join in on their fun – whether cooking, visiting places or meeting people that inspired them.

Even if my mother did not name me Julia, I will join their club – the club of women who get lost in the maze of their dreams and persevere until they eventually and successfully find a way out.

Julia Stuart’s video tour of Hampton Court can be seen on YouTUBE.

While in London we missed Hampton Court but spent a beautiful afternoon at Kensington Palace.  Julia promised me she would show us around the next time we visited London.

The Gathering of Those Little Thought Of

Living outside the US has given me a wider perspective of how others view the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

The USA seems to be in a bit of funk lately.  As a nation we are uncertain who we are and what we stand for.  Perhaps America is experiencing a mid-life crisis?

Still the seeds are there, planted by our great-grandcestors.

My Quaker ancestors were part of England’s first non-violent mass civil disobedience against the crown.  The Lord Mayor of London tossed them in jail.

Instead of waiting for the English government to change, in 1682 my Quaker family accompanied William Penn on The Welcome and settled in Pennsylvania.  Penn crafted the Framework of Government for his “Holy Experiment” thus creating a government reflecting the future “American” ideals of religious tolerance, open discourse, fair taxation, private property, free enterprise and trial by jury.

But the Quakers were not the first people there.  And after William Penn’s death, his descendants claimed land rights that forced the indigenous Leni Lenapes (aka the Delawares) to move further west.  Between the “Walking Purchase” and the Moravian Christian missionaries, the Delawares began to view the Christian Europeans with mistrust.

It was my great-grandfather Zebulon Heston II and his nephew John Lacey III, who traveled west and brought the Quaker Christian vision to Leni Lenape Chief named White Eyes.

Sharing their updated vision of the Holy Experiment, Chief White Eyes believed them and offered a Token of Friendship wampum belt with a message for the Quakers.

“…We have had offers of Religion many times, but would not accept of it til we had seen our Brothers, the Quakers, and heard what they would say to us…we have heard what you have said and we feel the grace that was in your hearts conveyed to us.  We think that as we two Brothers, the Quakers and the Delawares, were brought up together as the Children of one man, and this it is our Savior’s will that we should be of one religion….”

Chief White Eyes became pro-American.  But as a believer in Peace, he kept the Delaware tribes neutral for three years.  However, in 1778 he was finally persuaded, probably because of his friendship with then Brigadier General John Lacey, to become a Colonel in American army, and he rallied the Delawares to the Americans’ side.

My grandfather Zebulon Heston II did not witness his nephew or the Delawares taking up arms.  His death was recorded in the Buck County Minutes on July 2, 1776 two days before the Continental Congress issued the Declaration of Independence.

An unusual occurrence, the Quakers prepared a memorial meeting in his honor.  The minutes quoted him saying as he waited for death,

“…If the World would have lived in Love and Unity one with another, it appears to me that no good thing would have been with holden from us, but it seems to be Dark times, and things lay very wide.  But it lookth to me there will be a gathering home from off the barren Mountains and Desart Hills of them that are little thought of at this time…”

As it seems we are once again in Dark Times, it is up to us, those that are little thought of at this time, the moderates, the people of conscious, and those that believe in Love and Unity, to gather and nourish the Peaceful seeds our grandfathers planted.  And to believe in the vision of what America can be.

Happy 4th of July

Happy Jubilee Queen Elizabeth II

My revolutionary grandfathers are probably turning in their graves as I post my congratulations to Queen Elizabeth II on her 60th year in power.

It was her great-great-great grandfather George III who wondered, would it be such a bad thing if in the end the Americans “became aliens to this kingdom?”

The fact of the matter is no one expected this baby-girl to become Queen.  And if it wasn’t for an American, Queen Elizabeth would not be celebrating her Jubilee.

It is an interesting twist of fate that Wallis Simpson, the great- great-great granddaughter of an American patriot, single-handedly, nearly brought the British monarchy down.

It makes me wonder what wheels of fate King George III put into motion when he declared Americans to be dishonest rogues.   Would Simpson’s grandfather have signed his oath of loyalty against the British crown if King George III hadn’t referred to them as knaves?   How far can unkind words reverberate?

But I say today – Let bygones be bygones!  Forgive our grandfathers.  And give credit to the woman who held it all together.

Cheers to the Queen on her 60th Anniversary – from a Daughter of the American Revolution.

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