Archive | October 2014

It was a dark and stormy night….

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That IS the way that most ghost stories begin, isn’t it?  Perhaps my ghost story should begin this way.

It started the first night we moved in.

Does that grab you?

When I wrote my first post, I mentioned that we had a ghost at Angelheart Cottage.   I had several who wanted to hear about the ghost, so with Halloween only a few days away, I thought it appropriate to tell you our ghost story.  I doused the photo of the back view of our home in sepia tones to make it seem a little….um, creepier.  On Halloween night, with the house all decorated and me piping spooky music out the window, we had a lot of trepidated little trick-or-treaters bravely knocking at our door.  Parents stood a ways off, looking a little fearful themselves.  It wasn’t gory decorating at all, or even anything remotely fearful.  It was simply the house.  The house took on a rather sinister look on dark Halloween nights, dressed in its best and perfect costume.

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So let me prelude my ghost story with a little tale of mystery.  (Evidently, I am a magnet for the strange, the unexplainable, the weird and just plain spooky.)

When our oldest son was about 4 years old, his dad got tickets to see the Yankees play the Mariners in Seattle.  Reggie Jackson played outfield for the Yankees at that time and he had hero status with Mr. Farnia.  Now Mr. Farnia knows that if you take an adorable, baseball loving kid to batting practice BEFORE the game even begins, the likelihood of snagging a baseball at some time or another was, at that time, a reality.  And it happened.  Reggie spotted our cute little son and signed a baseball and gave it to him.   To Mr. Farnia, it was as if heaven itself had opened and bestowed upon him a thing of such incomparable value that it was almost reverential.  That night he came home with that ball in hand, a look of utter bliss on his face.  Had he won the lottery, he would not have been happier.  I put this old ball on here to add to the creep factor….the ball Mr. Farnia sat on our dresser that night was pristine and beautiful, with Reggie Jackson’s signature scrawled all over one side of it.  The next morning, bright and early, the apple of Reggie Jackson’s eye….our 4-year-old son, came into our bedroom, picked the ball up off the dresser and climbed up on our bed.  To that little boy, the ball was just another ball.  To Mr. Farnia, it was like letting a child crawl all over Michelangelo’s Pietà.  “He shouldn’t play with that,” said Mr. Farnia.  I countered with, “What can possibly happen to it?”

Famous last words.

Literally.

My son threw the ball up into the air and unbelievably caught it.  The second lob fell from his hands, onto the bed, gently bounced on the floor and rolled under the dresser. Our little guy crawled off the bed and looked under the dresser.   Not a word.  He scooted further along the dresser looking.  I watched.  Then he stood up and announced, “I can’t find it.”  “What?”  My husband’s single word exploded in the room.  “What do you mean, you can’t find it?”  I got down off the bed and looked under the dresser.  It wasn’t there.  I looked all around the area: the floor, under the bed, the closet, the hallway.  We pulled the dresser out from the wall.  Along one side of the wall, next to the dresser, we had built-in drawers.  I pulled all of them out and looked.  We moved the bed.  We literally combed every single inch of that bedroom.  We never found that ball.  Not even when we moved.

Never.

My husband was going to ask the owners, friends of ours, if he could open that wall and look behind it.  He never did.  I once remembered reading that it is possible for a solid object to pass through another solid object if all the atoms line up so perfectly; and if the speed at which the solid thing hits another solid thing is so just equally as perfect, that all those aligned atoms will be like a doorway that allows that object to enter.  I have no idea where I read that.  Or just what that phenomenon is called.  But it happened.  We never heard the ball hit the wall.  The only sound in that room at the time was the single bounce on the floor.

Loo-loo-loo (Twilight Zone music)

I won’t say that was the last of the dropping and disappearing items.  Because it wasn’t.  It was at THAT house; but at Angelheart Cottage it happened with more regularity.

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I can’t exactly tell you when it was that I first noticed that things disappeared.  Or moved from where I swore I put them.  Or that things I dropped on the floor next to my feet disappeared.  Or the one or two pictures that always seemed to tip themselves on the wall, even after the countless times I straightened them.

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Or the times I started to hear someone walking up the stairs……when I was the only one at home.  Or the footsteps I heard in our bedroom at night, when everyone else was asleep.  Or the times I swore I caught sight of something just out of the corner of my eye, which disappeared when I looked harder.  There is a name for that….that phantom eye thing.  But I know it wasn’t a phantom eye thing in my case.  (Can you see the boarded up window up there?  We had an actual break-in and that was the burglar’s method of entry.  Shame on him.  I really think the ghost scared him away.  Our alarm didn’t work for some reason, but he took off like a shot, apparently.  I wasn’t gone but a few minutes.)

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I will tell you that I was never afraid.  Ever.  That house had so much love in it that nothing sinister or spookity or creepy could exist.  It was also a house of faith and so nothing evil could exist in there, either.  It just doesn’t happen.  I promise.  We don’t exactly know the mysteries concerning ghosts or spirits, if you will.  I will tell you that I am a believer in both those things.

As to why I was never afraid, I can only tell you that what I felt was comforting.  Some of you might wonder if the occurrence of our ghost came with more regularity after our son died.  I will say that I noticed the ghost more often after his death.  And because of our loss and the miraculous things that happened in that house after his death, which I will not share with you, quite possibly I was more open or more susceptible to feeling the presence of our ghost.  I will say that I know it wasn’t our son.

So who was it?

I cannot answer that.  The man who designed and built our home died before we ever moved into the house.  He did not die in the house.  Was it him?  I have no idea, but I do know that he loved that house and put so much blood, sweat and tears into it that I would not put it out of the realm of possibility that he came by from time to time to check on it and us.  If it was him, I know he knew how much I loved that house and maybe that created some kind of otherworldly bond between us.  I have no idea.

I will tell you of one big old occurrence that kind of made me marvel a lot, because mostly his manifestations were playful or he simply let me know he was around because I could hear him walking or climbing the stairs….and not just at night.

I drove my boys on their paper routes for years.  I LOVED doing that!  One Autumn morning, we were on the road below our house, near where our son died, and I happened to look up at our house while my boys ran the papers up to porches.  Every single light in our house was on.  All of them.  I didn’t leave any light on but the porch light when we left.  We left no one at home that morning because my husband was out-of-town and my other son was gone.  We were doing his route that morning in addition to my boys’ routes.  We got home and we walked through that house holding on to each other.  I locked the doors when we left the house and they were still locked when we returned.  Our first thought was that someone broke in.  Nope.  After we discovered that there wasn’t any BODY in our house, we went about the rest of our morning, business as  usual.  My boys even went back to bed.  That was the only time the ghost ever played “lights on.”

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I thought I was the only one that could hear the ghost because no one ever said anything.  The three oldest kids constantly played bedroom shuffle, deciding which of the available four bedrooms they wanted.  And then changing.  My two oldest children deemed the  bedroom in the “apartment” on the third floor, eleventh level as too scary, but my daughter wouldn’t stay in there after the first night.  They could “hear” things, so we ended up turning that room into a playroom/TV room where I could sit and sew or do crafts in the kitchen while the kids played.

And then I thought that the ghost mostly revealed himself to girls.  My daughter heard him all the time.  Notice I said, “him.”  I knew he was a male.  No doubt in my mind.  He was a little more playful with my daughter and I.  After she  married, I told her about an instance that kind of spooked me….for the first time he spooked me.  I will not tell you what it was because it is not appropriate to tell you that here.  When I told her what happened, she said that the same thing happened to her when she was a teenager.  “Why didn’t you tell me,” I asked her.  She shrugged her shoulders and said, “I didn’t know how you would react.”  None of us, at that time, really spoke much of the ghost.  We all just kind of accepted the fact that he was there.  When my granddaughter came to visit, she could hear him….even from the tender age of four.  My grandboys never heard him.  Just her.  I didn’t tell her that we had a ghost  until after we moved.  She was not surprised, because she heard him.

You may ask why I was never frightened.

I knew he was there to protect us.  To protect the home.  When we did an extensive restoration several years after our son died, we discovered old knob and tube wiring running rampant through the ceilings, where the man who built the house over eleven years and constant additions, had simply pig-tailed the ends of one wire to another and lopped them over a beam as he began work on another area of the house as the house expanded.  Our carpenters said that there were so many tell-tale signs of aborted fires that started in that house.  So many areas on the wooden beams had singe marks on them.  I can imagine our ghost blowing his spookity old breath on those areas and putting out those fires.

He also comforted me.  There were times when I was so heartsick and sad and broken-hearted where I almost felt arms around me.  I felt the nearness of him.  I can’t tell you how, only that I did.

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My Grandmother had the ability to speak to angels, spirits, loved ones that had passed away.  She spoke with her husband regularly at night.  She told me that there were many occasions when my grandfather simply held her and told her he missed her.  My Grandmother was not delusional.  She wasn’t crazy.  Or mental.  Nor did she have “old people” foolishness or dementia.  She simply had “The Gift.”  I won’t say that I have her ability.  I never “saw” our ghost.  I only heard him.  And felt his presence.  I know he protected me.  That sounds completely strange, I know.

When we left that house and I wandered through the empty cavernous of it one last time, my footsteps and my heartbeats echoing eerily through the house, I did not feel him.  I called to him.  He was not there.  Did he simply crumble into ghost dust when we left?  Or crawl into an empty space to hibernate until the next inhabitants of that house proved themselves worthy of knowing him?  Or did he simply leave and go to where all spirits go when they die?  Why did he stay with us?

As I said, some day….we will understand the mysteries.  The little things we cannot explain in this life.

I will say this….for the last several months in our little cottage by the sound, I have heard unexplained thumps.  Someone walking at night.  I have felt someone in my bedroom at night.  I hear sounds.  Is it the ice maker shivering as it empties ice into the container in the freezer?  The house shuddering and groaning as it ages?  (It was built in the 1920’s.)  The wood expanding with autumn rains?  The house contracting from the heat of summer to the colder weather?  Raccoon climbing the porch and clambering over the rooftops at night?  I can’t explain it.

I wonder if our ghost packed himself away in a box or hitched a ride in the moving van because he liked us too much to leave us.

There’s always that.

Happy Halloween, my friends.

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ah, september…..sigh

Well, that was quick!  Did your September fly by as quickly as mine did?  Whoosh!  Here and suddenly gone.

It was a September of shocking green crickets that catapulted themselves through our second floor balcony door and windows…look at those hind legs!

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It was a September of pale blue moths with ephemeral lives–lovely for only moments, it seemed.

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It was a September of frantic spiders in a frenzy of web building, spinning engineering wonders that spanned incredible distances that decorated porch and window corners or appeared as dainty crocheted doilies pinned from leaf to leaf and strung with diamond dewdrops.

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It was a September of abundance in our garden that we either had to consume, freeze or can.  I love canning in my cottage kitchen, where I look out at sky or water or watch the grass menagerie wandering or flying in and out of my yard.  My music is up as loud as I can get it and I am in my element and perfectly content.  The nesting instinct kicked in big time and I have about 200 Ball jars filled with peaches, beans, tomatoes, pear butter, chili sauce, dilly beans as well as 22 quarts of frozen corn and 4 quarts of frozen green beans in my freezer.  Some day all those jars will sit on shelves instead of hiding in boxes stacked on our cellar floor.  When that times comes, I will brave the elements to go beneath our house and stand in front of shelves full of all those jeweled jars and grin.  Eating sweet peaches in winter. . .nothing better.  Sigh.

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It was a September where deliciously foggy mornings gave way to sunshine by mid-afternoon.  September is the only month where you start out with a sweater in the early morning, peel it off by noon and put back on again as soon as the sun goes down.

foggy morning

September is the one month where pumpkins and squash coexist with peaches and nectarines….where we can eat the bounty of our gardens and orchards and pamper ourselves with fresh tomatoes.  The best of all the worlds.  Bliss.

September is time for the Puyallup Fair.  My favorite parts?  The different grange displays and the chickens.  And caramel apples with nuts.

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It was a September of pink, peach, yellow, white and red zinnias.  Zinnias are the happiest flowers.  Even their name sounds happy…..ZINNIA!  And there are so many varieties of them.  One year I planted huge sour cream zinnias and those are my absolute favorites.  They’re white and pale green and utterly spectacular.  They even have mini-zinnias.  I love the way that sounds.  The blossoms are about the size of a quarter.  If I could trust the deer not to eat them….I would plant an entire garden of nothing but zinnias.

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September is a perfect time for exploration.  The month is all about change and there are wonders everywhere you look.

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It was a September of sultry, sizzling sunsets, the fiery light igniting lights in windows and in my soul.  A certain setting sun poured itself along the horizon, spilling molten light on the water and leaving puddles of brilliant light on the shore.  I was all gaspy staring at it.  Completely sunset-stunned.

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As much as I welcome the beginning and even the middle of September, it is the 28th I tiptoe around.  Hard day for me and my family.  Our son died 25 years ago.  When we lived at Angelheart Cottage, each last-of-September was beyond difficult for me, and for all of us, as we neared that day.  I always prayed for rain.  Because then I wouldn’t notice the hesitation in an Indian Summer that always beckoned….just one more play day before the cold comes.  I wouldn’t see the shadows lengthening and creeping around the house.  I wouldn’t smell sunshine and Autumn and tragedy in the same breath.  I wouldn’t relive every moment of that heartbreaking and life-altering afternoon with crystal clarity as memory demons ambushed me when I least expected it or stalked me nearly every waking moment.

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Our family travels to the Oregon coast each year during a span of time that includes September 28th.  It is a time of peace and comfort, of being together as a family and making good memories.  This time is more sacred to us than Christmas.  We all breathe deeply, throw our sorrows on waves that carry them far, far away from us.  We take joy in the beauty and serenity that surrounds us as we draw each other a little closer.  Laughter replaces tears, peace crowds out grief, lightness transcends sorrows.  We do it together, just by being together.  We remember with quiet tears and love-brimming hearts that energetic and enigmatic, mischievous and loving, creative and infinitely loving brother and son.  We all feel him near us.  We measure each moment by the love that ties our heartstrings together, which unites our family in unimaginable ways.

I ran across a quote by Peggy Toney Horton and she mirrors my sentiments exactly.

“Ah, September!  You are the doorway to the season that awakens my soul….but I must confess that I love you only because you are a prelude to my beloved October.”

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Happy October, friends.

Photo from Luis Gomez, Google+ and on my Pinterest site, Autumn People with Autumn Thoughts

This entry was posted on October 1, 2014. 8 Comments