THINGS THAT WENT BUMP IN OUR NIGHT

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-legged beasties
And things that go bump in the night
Good Lord, deliver us!
– Traditional Scottish Prayer

I’ve never met a ghoul, and I have questions about long-legged beasties, but I can speak from personal experience about things that go bump in the night. Long ago in a house far away, we had our own ghosts, or at least “night bumpers.”

Brick House HadleyI cannot claim to have seen a ghost, but I lived in a house where we could hear them. It was 1965 when we bought our tidy little brick house. It had been built in 1932. Most of the house was on the ground floor — kitchen, dining room, living room, two bedrooms and the bath. The upper floor had an unfinished attic and a big bedroom. It was a small house. Solid, a short walking distance from the college where my husband worked and where I was finishing my B.A.

The ambiance of the house from the moment we walked into it was cozy. Friendly. It welcomed everyone, made them feel at home. The house had been built by a couple who had lived there for more than 30 years. They had raised children their children and eventually died in that house.

They were not murdered or anything sordid. They merely grew old and passed on in the house they loved. We loved it too.

The house was a bit neglected. Not falling down, but in need of paint and some modernization. Cosmetic fixes. Paint. Floors needed refinishing. The boiler needed updating.

For the first few months, we lived on the ground floor, but we planned to move to the big upstairs bedroom. It was spacious and had windows full of light. We decided to fix it up, give it a coat of paint and redo the floors before settling upstairs.

Shortly after we moved in, our ghosts began to walk. It was startling the first time we heard it. Loud. Clear. Heavy footsteps, like the soles of hard leather shoes or boots. Plus the sharper noise of heels. It turned out everyone — anyone — could hear it. The noise started every night around eight and continued off and on until midnight.

We called the walkers “The Old Man” and “The Old Woman.” They wore different shoes. Her shoes had that sharp sound — high heels on hardwood. His shoes were clunkier, maybe work boots. Both of them had died in the house, so they were prime candidates for ghosthood, especially since no one else had lived in the house until us.

Initially, we heard them upstairs and on the stairway. After we painted the stairs, the footsteps retreated to the upper floor. Once we began painting the bedroom, we heard them for a while longer, but only in the attic. Then, one day, our ghosts were gone. They never came back.

Were they watching to see if we cared for their home? Were we all hallucinating? Maybe the couple who had lived there were watching. Making sure we did right by their house.

I suppose we passed muster and they felt it was okay to leave.

Life is full of stuff that can’t be explained rationally and we didn’t try. But I’ll bet anyone who was in our house during the months our ghosts walked never doubted what they heard.

MADAME ZTHULU, SOOTHSAYER, SUMS UP OCTOBER

In Retrospect - Yesterday you invented a new astrological sign. Today, write your own horoscope — for the past month (in other words, as if you’d written it October 1st).


As if yesterday were not bad enough, now you want me to write about this soon-to-be-over month as if it hadn’t happened yet — but like someone had the prescience to know what would happen. And write about it like a silly newspaper astrologer.

Well, the jokes on you because I used to be one of those silly newspaper astrologers. I quickly learned no matter what twaddle I wrote, someone always thought I’d nailed their life. A soothsayer can, it would seem, do no wrong. And really, this assignment is just a version of “What did you do on your vacation” turned backwards. Or sideways. Or something.

Hocus … … … POCUS! and WHOOSH. A puff of mist rises from the crystal ball. My eyes are wide, like saucers — small saucers like those that come with demi-tasse cups.

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Mist in the morning, Peachum, Vermont

“Madame Zthulu,” I cry, “what does this mean?”

“You will travel far and wide,” she croaks ominously. “But slowly, very slowly. You will see everything as you pass it. Your number is … ” And here she pauses and rummages in her sack to pull out a pack of cards with big numbers on them. I’m pretty sure I can see numbers on both side of the cards.

“Hey, aren’t those flash cards for learning multiplication tables … ?” I start to question her, but she cuts me off.

“HOW DARE YOU INTERRUPT MADAME ZTHULU,” she thunders. I crumble in the face of her wrath. Or is that wreath? She’s got a really nice wreath on the wall of the tent and I get up to look at it. I just love handicrafts.

“SIT!” she says, and points. “What was I saying?”

I sit. “You were going to tell me my number,” I say, humbly and quietly.

“WHAT?” She shouts. “Speak up. Don’t mumble child.” Child? She must be blind, not merely deaf.

“YOU WERE GOING TO TELL ME MY NUMBER,” I repeat.

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“Right you are,” she says and pulls a cards from the pack. “Your number is 28. You will travel either 28 miles — no that can’t be right — or maybe by route 28,” and she looks at me, apparently hoping for confirmation but I shake my head. Sounds like the wrong road, but I’m probably the wrong person to ask.

“Then,” she says, certainty returning to her tone, “You will travel at 28 miles per hour and do this for many hours, many days. But the scenery will be just gorgeous, really. You’re gonna love it.”

And she puts out her hand, palm up. International soothsayer-speak for “pay me,” and I do.

As I exit her tent, I realize it’s gotten terribly foggy . I’m completely lost. Again.

BORN UNDER THE SIGN OF GANEESHA

Custom Zodiac - You’re tasked with creating a brand new astrological sign for the people born around your birthday — based solely on yourself. What would your new sign be, and how would you describe those who share it?



Marilyn's Horoscope

Every astrological sign needs a planet for influence. For this purpose, I am choosing Io, the innermost of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter. It’s the fourth-largest moon, has the highest density, and is the driest object in the Solar System — perfect to represent me since I have the driest skin in the Solar System.

It was named after the mythological character Io, a priestess of Hera who became one of Zeus’s lovers. However, the Roman pantheon doesn’t work for me. I prefer be characterized by a god who represents qualities to which I relate and which I hope are the best of me. The Romans were too bloody, physical, non-intellectual, and generally churlish for my taste.

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My patron deity will be Ganeesha, the Hindu Lord of letters and learning. He is a patron for writers and others who are seekers and creators. In Sanskrit, the word buddhi is a feminine noun meaning intelligence, wisdom, or intellect and is closely associated with Ganeesha and the many tales of his cleverness, his passion for writing, his love of intelligence.

Thus from hence forth, those lucky souls born between March 10 and March 17 (note that some minor adjustments may be required using a proper ephemeris) will share many of these characteristics:

Intellectual curiosity, a passion for words, both spoken and written. Often accompanied by some degree of musical talent and for the graphic arts. These gifts can manifest in a variety of ways, both passive and active.

Other, less charming qualities may include shortness of temper, intolerance with ignorance, a snappish dislike of poorly spoken and written language. Inclined to be excessively controlling of both self and others. Not a warm and fuzzy personality, this individual lives primarily in his or her head, which will virtually always win when heart and mind come into conflict.

Despite this, given to periodic flights of bizarre fantasy which may be acted on without regard for consequences. Shows a marked lack of caution in emotional involvements as well as a willingness to try pretty much anything at least twice.

Terrified of insects, but a lover of animals and nature. Not a bad egg, but often a prickly one.

JUST ONE DAM THING AFTER ANOTHER

Out of Breath – We all seem to insist on how busy, busy, busy we constantly are. Let’s put things in perspective: tell us about the craziest, busiest, most hectic day you’ve had in the past decade.


 

HumbleBeaver

The craziest, busiest, most hectic day I’ve had in the past decade? I can’t remember what I did yesterday, much less in the course of an entire 10-year period. I know recently we drove a lot, through mountains, past rivers and lakes and countryside so beautiful it filled up all my ooh and aah synapses and put me into a near coma of aesthetic appreciation.

Was that hectic? It felt hectic.

I’ve been in and out of hospitals, had more surgery than I can remember, which may be a good thing. Hectic? What’s hectic? The decades have all been riddled with crises. Financial, medical, personal. I don’t remember the sequence of a particular day, not even yesterday. Or this morning. It’s nearly one in the afternoon. I’m still answering email and trying to get this silly little post written.

Maybe I should think about this in bigger pieces, like decades? Anyone who asks this question obviously hasn’t lived many decades. I’m sure having fewer decades to remember might make the whole memory thing more … memorable. By the time you’ve survived seven or eight decades, you would never ask this question. You would know your friends feel lucky to get to the end of a sentence without have to pause to remember what word comes next.

I can tell you — I think — which period in my life was the most hectic. It started in 1963 and slowed down … when was that? Wait for it. I’m thinking. Okay, got it. It hasn’t slowed down. But it would be okay with me if it did.

Life is, as the beaver said, just one dam thing after another.

beaver mafia

 

Interior Design: Pornography for the Heavily Mortgaged

Originally posted on Stuff my dog taught me:

designer living roomThis week, I finally made it to my semi-annual appointment for a dental cleaning (Can it still be called “semi annual” when you end up cancelling three times and are therefore seven months late for a once-every-six-months event?).  I love my dental cleanings because there is no risk of the dreaded needle and because I can count on about half an hour of waiting room time.  As a working mother, this is like a mini-holiday – child-free, husband-free, client-free, and surrounded by magazines.  So lovely!

In keeping with my mini-holiday fantasy, I refused to read anything that included health and fitness advice, tips on cooking/cleaning/organizing the home, or pictures of skinny, young models sporting clothing I cannot afford.  This left me with a stack of home decorating magazines, or as I like to call them, “pornography for the heavily mortgaged”.

Inside the glossy covers, every room was freshly painted, perfectly lit, and usually sans people (

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WITH A LITTLE BIT OF LUCK

Share Your World – 2014 Week 42

What would be your preference, awake before dawn or awake before noon?

I wake up, whether or not I want to, before dawn almost every day. Then I diligently put myself back to sleep if I can. Today, I didn’t bother because we are on the road and I can use the extra time to write before we are out of here. I wouldn’t mind being an early riser — sunrise is a delicious time of day — if there were a few more hours between going to sleep and getting up. But apparently that is how my body likes it. My opinion is neither here nor there.

As long as there is coffee when I stumble out of the bedroom, I can deal with the earliness, though if I had my druthers, it would be closer to noon than dawn.

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While we are discussing morning — we are discussing morning, right? — I want to mention that Bonnie stole my breakfast cookies this morning. She not only stole them, she took the napkin in which they were wrapped and she made a clean getaway in a matter of just a few minutes while I readied my coffee.  I bet she thinks she got away with it, the little terrorist, but I know the truth …

If you could choose between Wisdom and Luck, which one would you pick?

I’ve given wisdom my best shot and look where it’s gotten me? So now, a change of pace is in order. I no longer am seeking to improve my soul. This round, I want cash. A nice fat lottery win. I’m going with luck, this time. There’s nothing which says I can’t be wise and rich.

Wisdom is all well and good, in its place … but luck is fun.

If you were given the opportunity for free skydiving lessons would you take them? Why or why not?

When I was younger and had a functional spine, I’d have done it. Garry enjoyed it and we could have done it together. Sadly, it’s not in the cards at this point.

Is the glass half empty or half full? What is in the glass?

It’s always half full. Of either coffee or Power Zero. Because that’s what all I’m allowed to drink and I quite literally have a “go cup” of one of these with me all the time. Okay, sometimes I sneak in an illicit coca cola. Does anyone besides me wish they’d put the coca back in the cola? Talk about your fun times …

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Grateful the weather held for our entire vacation. Grateful for the friends who invited us to stay with them and enjoy some of the best company and most magnificent countryside I’ve ever seen … or am likely to see again. Grateful for cars that don’t break down, computers that warn you before they fold their proverbial tent.

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Grateful that funny noise the yellow car is making remained just a noise and didn’t prevent us from getting home. And deeply grateful to Dwight D. Eisenhower for building nice roads on which we can drive.

Next week? I’m looking forward to the end of the ongoing well and water crisis because I’m running out of places to haul my laundry. And I would really like a bath.