Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ghost Bees

Ghosts sound like bees, at least to me.

I've heard them twice.

Let me back up and tell you that I'm a pitiful excuse for a ghost whisperer. My mom was the real deal. She saw them, she talked to them. She didn't talk about it to many people, but she talked about it to me and I can tell you that she had some stories that were absolutely incontrovertible. My favorite was the one where one of my dad's long-gone relatives told her about things that he swore had never existed - until he asked his aunt about it and she confirmed that yes, indeed, that had been the way things once were. He never doubted my mother again.

I used to wish I had her abilities, but then again I was often glad I didn't. I'm easily scared.

So back to the ghost bees.

We were looking for a home in the country when my kids were young. We looked at a lot of old farmhouses and one in particular seemed to beckon the moment we pulled in the driveway. It was an old white farmhouse with a big front porch and a massive lilac bush beside the two story barn. It looked a bit like this.

Something was very wrong inside.

It was tired, to say the least. Wallpaper peeled off aging plaster. But that wouldn't deter me. It was the buzzing.

It started in the kitchen, as I recall. It sounded like a swarm of bees all around us, yet there were no bees. I mentioned it. No one else heard it.

"Maybe they're in the walls," I speculated.

"I don't hear a thing," the realtor said.

The buzzing got louder as I walked through the house, so I finally excused myself to join the kids in the barn, where they were merrily leaping into a hay pile. No bees there.

Another old house, totally remodeled and in perfect shape, was one we seriously considered buying. But then I had the bloodiest, most gruesome dream of my life the night after we saw it. And when I mentioned it to the realtor, he said he'd had the same dream. Needless to say, we walked away from it.

So fast forward to a big old house that had been in my then-husband's family for generations. Dark, a bit dreary and damp as most lake houses are, it never affected me particularly until I stayed behind one afternoon while everyone else went to the store. I had work to do, work I didn't particularly feel like doing, but work that required a clear head and nimble fingers on a calculator.

But the buzzing was making me nuts.

It took awhile for me to identify it - unlike the incident in the old farmhouse, this was a buzz that I knew was in my head. But it was so loud that I couldn't think. And instead of being frightened, I got angry.

"Okay, knock it off!" I was loud enough that had anyone been home, they'd have heard me, even upstairs. "I know this isn't my house and I don't belong here but I have no interest in your damned house - I'm just here with my husband and my kids and THEY belong here. So shut up and let me get my work done!"

And it stopped. Just like that.

"Thank you," I said with a bit less graciousness than I probably should have, and got back to work.

Not long afterwards, we were all upstairs getting ready to go for a swim. My three year old daughter pointed into the room opposite.

"Who's that?"

"Who?" There was no one there.

"That lady."

Cue the hairs on the back of our necks to stand up.

She described her and said she looked kind of cranky. Sounded like a pretty good description of my then-husband's grandmother, "Harriet" - long, long dead.

So I went to see my mom and told her what had happened.

"Will you go and see what you think?" I asked.

We went on a beautiful, sunny fall day when the house had been closed up for the winter and no one was around. We stepped onto the porch and I opened the front door. My mother looked in and froze.

"I'll stay here," she said.

I went in, took a look around to make sure everything was secure, came out and locked up.

My mother was sitting on the porch.

"I wasn't welcome in there," she told me. "There was a woman on the stairs and she made it very clear I was not to come in."

Her description matched my what my daughter had seen. That night, Mom said she had a dream that that same woman showed up next to her bed.

"What were you doing in my house?" she demanded.

My mother explained that she wanted to be sure that her granddaughter was safe. "Harriet" said family was safe there, but no outsiders were welcome in that house.

"Do you want me to pray for you?" my mother asked.

Her dream visitor snorted and said she had no use for such nonsense. And she left.

That house burned to the ground a couple of winters later.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rally to Restore Sanity - Isn't This News?

I'm watching a live feed of the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. The Washington Mall is packed with thousands of people, all laughing, singing and smiling. News reports indicated that more than a thousand related rallies in foreign countries have been organized by US expatriates. There are thousands more rallies in communities across the country.
But it's not news.
Network news, the nation's "top" newspapers and good old NPR made the decision not to cover this event.
Let's see - thousands of people converge on the mall to sing "It's the Greatest, Strongest Country in the World", a satirical and very funny tribute to the flaw in both sides of the liberal/conservative debate; watch musical acts (I saw the O'Jays and were they dressed to kill!) and pay tribute to some people who made headlines for their civil behavior - and that's not news. Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow actually performed a song about frustration with our society that was good spirited and kind.
Now of course, the "news" outlets are going to have to cave in lest they look ridiculous. But how sad they even tried to avoid reporting on a truly positive event.
As Mick Foley just said, "Civility is cool."
But apparently only fear, loathing and paranoia are news.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Left Brain/Right Brain, Do We Have To Choose?

I'm living in two worlds these days. At home, the world is sticky with creative juice. Breathe deep, run your finger across a tabletop, taste it, inhale it, it's inescapable, a tune you can't get out of your head, a taste on the tip of your tongue, colors that are deeper, sunsets that catch fire into Peter Maxx/Maxfield Parrish impossibilities.

It's a world where every building should look like the Dali Museum.

At work, all colors fade to shades of gray and black, with frantic crosshatching of detail.

It's work that needs doing, detail that matters, yet somehow the amount of angst that goes into its production seems so out of scale, so truly ridiculous, that a part of me is always sitting back in wonderment, transfixed by the hyperventilating victims of high blood pressure all around me.

I'm torn between the two worlds. The childish, desperate- to -please -and- excel perfectionist wants to be the best damned hamster on the wheel.

The inner rebel wants her solitude and freedom to express herself in whatever way she chooses in her own little world - paint vines on the doors, write fairy tales, take pictures of the world's most minute details.

Circumstance requires income; I continually remind myself to be grateful that my black and white job pays the bills with dollars to spare.

But I so miss the color - and wish I had more energy to spare for those precious hours when that's my world.