Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I'm a total skeptic when it comes to ghosties. I think the majority of paranormal happenings can be explained with plumbing issues, unsealed windows or a house's floors being uneven. Rodents are probably causing the footsteps in many of these homes. They need an exterminator, not a group of people with thermometers and a boom mike.

I tend to look at the physical attacks of spirits with the eye of a cynic. I find it really interesting that when a person says they've been scratched by a ghost, it's usually right above the waistband of their pants on their back. Right where one could put their hands upon their hips and claw themselves without being noticed.

I've been known to yell "You made that shit up!" at the TV when I'm watching my beloved ghost hunting programs.

And, for the record, my opinion is that cases of possession are just people who've done something they're very ashamed of combined with a chemical imbalance.

So, yeah, skeptic is a good word for me.

But I'm a sucker for ghost stories. I love documentaries about the most haunted places with the reenactments of the tragic events and all that. I've toured multiple sites that claim to be haunted and I've spent the night in haunted houses. And I've never seen anything happen at any of them.

I know people who have their own ghost stories. Some excellent friends of mine live in a gorgeous, restored victorian where a ghost has made beds and brought towels to the guest room. They wouldn't have any reason to lie and I know they're not delusional. The reason they're not on Paranormal State is because they don't want to be on TV. (Well, they do want to be on TV but don't want to deal with Ryan's catholic theatrics.)

I've heard a lot of personal ghost stories through the years because I love to hear them. I love every ghost story I've heard, from the woman who saw the butler in 1800's clothing with a tray of tea while she was housesitting and found the tray outside her door the next morning to the granny ghost in the old farmhouse who would heat up the area around a mixing bowl containing pie crust dough because she wanted a biscuit crust.

Since it's the season of ghoulies and ghosties and long leggity beasties I'm about to admit that I have a ghost story myself. I don't know how to explain it away. So, here goes......

My grandmother died on September 11, 1999. We were all devastated and I spent weeks crying. When my grandmother wore perfume she wore White Shoulders. After the funeral I went into her closet to smell her good pink suit, still aromatic with White Shoulders and cry.

Right after my grandmother died, the shampoo and bottles of body wash would fall off the top of the shower enclosure while I was in the shower. It hadn't happened before and it didn't happen to Scott. We never found anything had fallen into the tub during the day while we were gone. It was only when I was in the shower.

I'd taken to saying "Stop it grandma." when I put the bottles back in their place.

In early October, I had the day off. It was really nice out and I had the windows in our two-story apartment open. Before I had children, I liked to nap in the early afternoon on my days off and I was in bed reading, getting ready to go to sleep on this particular day. I kept the blinds in our bedroom down, even when the windows were open because the windows of the townhouse behind us looked right into our bedroom. I didn't relish the crazy lady who lived there spying on me, so I kept the blinds down.

Suddenly, the blinds banged against the window. I thought "Oh, wind." Then the smell of White Shoulders drifted into my room so strongly it was like someone had sprayed it right in front of my face, a breeze went over me but the blinds didn't move.

What did I do? Did I say "Grandma?" and have a wonderful sense of love and extreme comfort because she'd come to visit me?

I hid under the covers and yelled "You're scaring me!" The blinds banged the window again and the White Shoulders went away.

The next day, the bathroom light started to turn on by itself. The switch wouldn't be in the 'on' position but the light would be on. If I flipped the switch up, then back down the light would turn off. It only happened when I was in the house by myself, once in the middle of the night when Scott was out of town and I ended up on the couch downstairs. Because, even though I'm a cynic, I'm a total coward when alone in the middle of the night and the lights are turning on by themselves. Yes, wiring, I know but I'm still leaving the room.

I made the decision to smudge the house. Smudging involves burning sage and waving the smoke around while saying what you invite to stay in your home and what you invite to leave. I got my supplies together and got started.

I lit my dried sage bundle in a ceramic bowl, then blew out the flame so it would smolder. The sage smoked out huge clouds, filling up my living room before setting off the smoke alarm. I tamped it out, opened windows and got the smoke detector turned off. I opened the front door to let more smoke out and saw smoke pouring out the bathroom window, smelling for all the world like I was burning a bushel of pot.

After the living room stopped looking foggy I started again and got the smoke under control. When I started upstairs towards the bathroom, the light turned on again, so did the fan. I went into the room and yelled "This is my house! You are scaring me and you need to leave!"

That's when the bowl broke apart in my hand because I'd forgotten to put dirt in the bowl before I lit the sage, the bowl got too hot and broke apart.

The light and the fan turned off right when the bowl broke. I cleaned up, made sure there were no embers burning on the carpet and went about my business of trying to make my house not smell like I'd be reenacting 'Reefer Madness' in my living room.

But, the light didn't turn on by itself again after that. There you go, take it or leave it. :)

Amanda's beauty tip of the day: You know those magazine articles that show "the newest, must-have cosmetics!" with pictures of products and descriptions? The photos and descriptions are supplied by the cosmetics company, who are usually advertisers in he magazine. Don't be fooled into thinking they're reviews.

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