GHOULIES AND GHOSTIES AND LONG-LEGGED BEASTIES

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.

Ghosts have been part of human mythology as long as tales have been told around campfires. Maybe before campfires. I don’t know if any religion excludes the possibility of ghosts and many have a strong link to them. There seems to be an overall, yet non-specific agreement that ghosts and wraiths are spirits of the dead who linger on Earth after they’ve slipped their otherwise mortal coil. Some are malevolent, others benevolent or merely curious. Ghosts vary by mythology, religion, era, and ethnic origin.

I cannot claim to have seen a ghost, but I lived in a house where everyone could hear ghosts. In 1965 when for $20,300, we were able to buy a tidy little brick house built in 1932. On the first floor were two bedrooms and a bathroom. There was a big bedroom on the partially finished second floor. The house was small but solid, walking distance from the college where my husband worked and I was finishing a degree.

Bedford Ave marilyn owen
The house on Bedford Avenue

The ambiance of the house from the moment we walked into it was friendly. It welcomed everyone and made them feel at home. The little house had been built by a couple who had lived, raised children, and died in it. Not murdered or anything sordid. They merely grew old and passed on in the home they loved. We loved it too. My son wouldn’t come onto the scene for 4 more years, but it was a good house to raise babies.

The house was a bit neglected. Not falling down but in need of paint and some modernization of its infrastructure. It still had its original heating system, converted from a coal burner to an oil furnace. Not very efficient and the radiators were huge, old and iron. Oil was cheap; we didn’t worry about it. We’d get to it eventually.

Initially we lived on the first floor since the bathroom was there. The upstairs had been an attic, but half had been turned into a big bedroom. We wanted to move up there. It was much bigger and had wonderful light, but we wanted to fix it up first.

Before anything else, we wanted to paint. The entire house was painted pale salmon pink. It wasn’t ugly, but it wasn’t any color we’d have chosen. Worse, it was high gloss paint, like one would use in a kitchen or bath.

We painted the downstairs first. Every night, we heard our ghosts walking. You could hear the sound of heavy, loud footsteps upstairs, sharp, like the soles of hard leather shoes or boots. Everyone on the lower floor head it. The walking started around eight in the evening, continued for a few minutes. Then the footsteps would pause and restart randomly until around midnight. The footsteps always stopped by midnight and never began before eight.

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

At first, we also heard them on the steps, but after we painted the stairway, the footsteps retreated and we only heard them in the attic and bedroom. After we began painting the bedroom, we continued to hear them for a while in the attic and then, one day, they were gone, never to return.

Were they watching to see if we properly cared for and loved their home? I thought so. Were we all hallucinating? It was the 1960s, so anything is possible, but I think it was the couple who had lived there watching to make sure we did right by the house. We did and I guess they felt it was okay to depart.

If anyone has bumped into a long-legged beastie, please tell me. I’m still waiting to meet one and I’m all ears.

SHARING MY WORLD – THE HALLOWEEN EDITION

Share Your World – October 30, 2017

Where do you eat breakfast?

Like so many others, with my laptop, my English muffin with some fruit spread or jam on it … and coffee. I almost never drop the jam into the keyboard these days.

I’ve really improved eating skills. And I can always get a dog to lick my fingers clean.

Too much information?

Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want to have an evening with?

Garry will do nicely.

Seriously, I have absolutely no interest in celebrities or even otherwise famous people. I’m really happy being me with mine. Boring? Probably. But peaceful, too.

If you could be a tree or plant, what would you be?

A Triffid. Then I could take over the world while still being a plant. Does it get better than that? I don’t think so.

More realistically? I really don’t want to be a plant.

If I had no choice, maybe a giant sequoia. But I don’t like the idea of being rooted.

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. 

I was totally thrilled at figuring out that I could charge my phone enough to use it by plugging it into one of the laptops. And when I saw the pie-chart on GEDmatch and realized I finally understood what they were talking about, that was even better.



I get excited about learning. Learning new things, especially things that are difficult and require mental effort are inspiring. Someone — well, more than one someone — suggested I would have been a good academic. Probably, but I was tired of school before I even graduated with my B.A., so academics were not happening for me. I tried to go for a masters — three times in fact — and I couldn’t do it. I could not sit in a classroom anymore. Instead, studying strange science stuff has become a hobby.

GHOULS DON’T DO TAKE OUT

No Halloween visitors expected here on our street. It’s dark and quiet with long shadows from tall trees.

We used to run out of candy back in Boston. Here, we don’t buy candy. At all. We live so far from anything kids won’t come down our long, dark street … and especially not our long, dark driveway where the trees lean in from both sides.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

It’s dark and lonely and it would be a perfect Halloween path for the brave of heart. But kids are not brave. They want well-lit suburban houses.

Scary should not be really scary. So they go into town where the street lights make everything cheery and every household has pounds of candy. “Boo” they say, and that’s plenty scary enough.

ART & COMICS: Evil Squirrel’s Nest – Witchy Women

We used to give out 20 pounds of candy every year when in Boston, but out here? No one comes. Even with the lights on. So, happy Halloween. Have some wine with that candy, why don’t you?

IN HONOR OF HALLOWEEN – GARRY ARMSTRONG

A Halloween Special

Photography by Garry Armstrong

Poetry by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
A PSALM OF LIFE


WHAT THE HEART OF THE YOUNG MAN
SAID TO THE PSALMIST

TELL me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream ! —
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real ! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal ;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way ;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle !
Be a hero in the strife !

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant !
Let the dead Past bury its dead !
Act,— act in the living Present !
Heart within, and God o’erhead !

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time ;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate ;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

NOT ESPECIALLY FLUFFY — UNLESS YOU COUNT THE DUST BUNNIES

I’m trying to think fluffy. It isn’t working. Last night, we had a storm. High winds. Rain. How fluffy can things be when the rain is coming down so hard it sounds like little rocks?

We got the promised torrential rains and wind — with a 4-hour power outage too. It was the dead of night — around three, I think when it hit — and it was repaired by morning. For the first time ever, my cell phone was dead. I usually turn it off when I’m not using it, but I must have forgotten. The WiFi was down of course and the only phone number I have for the electric company is on my cell.

So — brilliant move, if I do say so myself — I plugged the phone into the laptop to got enough charge to call the electric company. I figured it was late. Although the whole street was blacked out, I might be the only person awake to notice it. If I waited until morning, there wouldn’t be (gasp) COFFEE when we got up!

I was right. No one had called, but there were several lines down and the power was back this morning. Now, the sun is out and the trees are bare. The 70 mph wind last night finished them off in a hurry.

In the course of last night’s meanderings around the computer, I was checking out a DNA research area called “GEDmatch.” It’s not an ancestry testing company. It’s more a researching humans on earth thing. It is free. So if you already have your DNA from some other organization — doesn’t matter which group — you can dump it into GEDmatch and get information about yourself and to whom you might be related.

The main problem is that this is pretty heavy scientific stuff and I’ve been staring at it for more than a week without it making any sense at all. Then, last night, I ran one more test. It showed up as a list and a pie chart. Bing! It made sense. I realized exactly what the pie chart was showing and how to get additional information on what each pie slice comprises. I love it when the light bulb goes on for the first time.



There are email addresses for people to whom you might be related, so I picked the one from the top who would be my closest relative in that heap of Ashkenazi Jewish people … and wrote a note explaining that I feel like a moron, but I’m too curious to not at least ask a few questions. He got back to me this morning. He’s trying to figure it out too.

I think he is my second cousin — or more to the point — the grandchild of my grandmother’s sister or brother. I think sister, but I’m guessing.

There are three or four more on my father’s side, too. A huge chunk of what might have been family was wiped out during the Holocaust. No surprise there. That may explain why the family never ever talked about the rest of the family that we didn’t know. It was not exactly forbidden, but it was definitely not encouraged. Without getting complicated, I think my mother found it too depressing to discuss. With anyone. Ever.

If you have had your DNA run by any company — doesn’t matter which one — you might want to check out GEDmatch. Prepare for a lot of “HUH??? Does this mean anything?” Total confusion — speaking of fluff — seems to be the initial reaction. There are some parts of it that are so completely obscure, I doubt I will ever make any sense of them. But I’m beginning to see bits and pieces of  information popping through the mishmash.

You can hook up with them on GEDmatch.com.  

You have to register, but it’s free. They do encourage donations because research costs money and research funding is hard to come by. If you have a packet of DNA from any company, you can add it to GEDmatch. After a while, you might get information you find useful. I’m getting there. It’s a giant puzzle, but it’s probably good for what remains of my brain.

RERUNS AND REWRITES – BLOGGING WITH 6,000 ARCHIVED POSTS

I rerun and rewrite archived posts. I pretty much always do at least some editing for anything I post and in many of the older posts, I do enough rewriting to make it newer than older. I rewrite to make sure dates and any other “hard” information is correct … and I rewrite because there’s always something that needs fixing.

Garry by the dam

Garry was explaining that he feels he needs to always tell people it’s a rerun, even if it is also a nearly full rewrite. I asked him if the shows on TV come with a big “RERUN” plastered across the screen.

“No,” he said, “But I’m a better man than they are.” I bet if he were managing the blog, he’d change his mind fast enough.

I used to reblog things. Reblogs were obviously reruns, so I didn’t have to point it out. Now my reblog function essentially doesn’t work and I have to use “Press it” — a major hassle. It’s just as easy to copy it, rename it, edit it and let it fly. Most of the people reading me today never read these posts in the first place. If you are one of my old friends and realize you’ve read it before, feel free to stop.

I always improve the post during the rewrite anyway, so that old piece may have a bright new shine. I find all the klutzy sentences that bothered me in the past. I fix them. Sometimes, my third rewrite is a huge improvement on the original, reminding me how much I miss having a real, live editor.

There’s more to it than just rerunning things because I’m looking for “something to post.” I have almost 6,000 posts archived, many of which were seen just once, years ago. What a waste of material to never use any of them again.

I have a “random post” finder in the rightmost column of my “front page.” Test it out sometime, just for fun. I use it to see what will show up. Half of the pieces that pop to the top? I have absolutely no memory of having written them. If I can’t remember writing it, how many other people will remember it? Also, a lot of earlier posts never got much attention. Some of them got maybe two or three views and no comments and if they are reasonably good, they deserve better than that.

A lot of posts are thoughts for the moment. Some of them come out much better than expected — while others make me gag. Some posts just get neglected. Last week, I posted what I know is one of my better pieces of writing. Nobody read it.

And dogs!

Why not?

No idea. I do know it will come around again. I’m stubborn. If I think it’s good and I’ve put time into researching and writing it, I’ll run it until I feel it has gotten its due. Every good post deserves a reading.

There are pieces that have done brilliantly that I don’t think are all that good. A few of them have thousands of hits over the years while other pieces I know are far better don’t go anywhere. I’m sure that happens to all of us. There’s really no telling what is going to be a “hit” or a “miss.” There’s no formula that works all the time. Just when you think you’ve got it, it turns on its head and you realize you don’t have it. And probably never will.

There’s a powerful element of sheer chance in publishing. Not just for blogs, but for magazines, books, newspapers. A great book never makes the grade because the perfect publisher never saw it. The right readership never knew about it. It was published before its time … or just a bit too late. It’s still good work and it deserves it’s time in the sun.

So I republish my better pieces — even if no one ever pays any attention to them because I like them. I also republish other people’s pieces. Again. Because I like them and I think so will other people. I also republish posts that relate to specific holidays and historical events. I don’t see any point at all in writing the same thing again and again, though sometimes by the time I’m done with my latest rewrite, I must as well have started from scratch.

Finally, there’s something Tom pointed out which is that there is a reason why television shows are so frequently repeated. Not everyone saw that show. Most people don’t mind seeing it again, if they liked it the first time. That’s how you”make your point,” whatever it may be and accustom people to the concept, the story, whatever it is you are promoting.

None of this stops me from writing new stuff.

With two Scotties

I like writing. I’m always tucking ideas into drafts. Like this one. I gave it a title and a couple of lines to remind me what I wanted to say. I don’t know when I’ll post it because this is a busy time of year. So many photographs make Serendipity very visual and there is not so much space for other stuff I would write. This is not true all year round.

Summer tends to be slow as are the weeks following the holidays and right into early spring. Family holidays are generally terrible, though occasionally, I’ve been surprised.

And then, given our totally insane, whacked out government, I think I can be sure there will ALWAYS be something making me crazy enough to need a good rant. I’ve never lived with an insane government before, so pardon me while I continue to try to make sense of the mess.