The Spirit of Halloween

I think our little cabin is haunted.

There. I said it.

In fact, I am pretty sure we have ghosts. Maybe more than one.

Cole has found an apparition in a photo.

And, we have had some pretty dang strange things happen here.

“I just saw someone on the porch,” I said one day.

I did – it looked like someone was walking across the porch and then walked through the wall into our bedroom.

I tell Lamar about this with no response.

He thinks a lot of things that he doesn’t mention outright: I need to wear my glasses more than I should; I was tired; my eyes played tricks on me; I have watched too many reruns of The Ghost Whisperer.

I don’t care what he thinks or says.

We have ghosts.

Mama saw one once.

She was staying with us to keep Cole and called me at work.
“Will you go by the store on your way home and get me some bologna? I don’t like being here with all this healthy stuff you people have.”

I sighed but told her I would.

“And some white bread – I can’t have this stuff with all these nuts and seeds in it.”

I told her I would get her some white bread and saved my speech about how bad it was for her until later.

“Oh, yeah, one more thing. Why didn’t you tell me you had a ghost here?”

I was silent.

She saw it too? I had thought perhaps I had a moment of imagination gone wild.

“What did you see?” I asked.

“A ghost. Or a reflection of it, rather. I had turned the TV off, so the baby could sleep and saw it in the screen. It looked like he was wearing a long coat with a hat – kind of like a Quaker or someone from the Tombstone time. You know, Wyatt Earp.”


“I’m not scared, but I think you need to tell him to go to the light. That’s what Sylvia Browne would suggest.”

Now, Mama also thinks that my child is Elvis reincarnated because Sylvia Browne said he would come back in the year 2004. The woman doesn’t even believe in reincarnation but she heard Sylvia say it on an episode of Montel Williams so it must be true.

I told her I would and promised to get her some bologna and Sunbeam.

That was just one of the ghosts.

We have had quite a few.

Since the entry to my study does not have a door, I have curtains that reach the floor to hide my space.

One night, the curtains parted and moved.

Doodle saw it, too. The little pittie ran in there to investigate and promptly ran back out.

Being ferocious, she ran behind my chair and peeked out, shaking the whole time.

That’s the least of it though.

We have had things moved around with no explanation.

Cole once borrowed my tweezers to get a splinter out of his hand.

They have never been found after he put them back in my room.

“I put them right here,” he showed me.

We scoured the counter, the floor – no sign of them.

Maybe the ghost had a splinter too?

Just a few weeks ago, my car keys were missing.

They were not in the two usual spots I put them.

We looked everywhere.

I checked the table. They were not there.

They weren’t hanging by the fridge, either.

Cole went out to make sure they weren’t left in the car or I had sat them down outside somewhere.

I was dumping my purse on the couch when Cole came back in.

“Mom, look.”

There in the middle of the table were my keys.

“Did you find them?” he asked.
I shook my head. “Did you?”

He shook his head as well.

Speechless, we left.

One morning, I found Cole sleeping on the couch.

“Why are you out here?” I asked as I woke him.

“My light was too bright.”

“Your light? Why didn’t you turn it off?” I asked.

“I did. It kept coming back on.”

When I went in his room to check the lamp, it was off.

That evening, I asked him if he wanted to sleep on the couch again.

As he said, “No, Mom, it’s fine,” the lamp in his room came on.

Needless to say, he slept in the living room that night.

And here we are, getting closer to the night where the veil is supposed to be the thinnest.

In the spirit of Halloween, someone asked me the other day if we got a lot of trick-or-treaters.

“No, not really,” I replied. “Worse.”
“Eggers? Toilet paper rollers?”

Gosh, I hadn’t heard of that happening in years. Kids still do that?
“No, ghosts,” I said to their surprise.
“Are you serious?”

I think my expression showed I was.

It’s OK though.

I’d think I was a little wack-a-doodle too, if I hadn’t seen it for myself.

I just wish if they were going to mess with stuff, they would at least clean.

The Way to my Heart

It’s no secret that I am not one who believes in the whole fairy tale version of love and romance.

It’s great in a novel – heck, I was even a guest author in a romance collection recently.

But in real life, it just never happens the way we expect it to.

Maybe, just maybe it is because my husband is not romantic at all.

His idea of a birthday gift once was “not riding his bike” so he could spend the day with me.

I rolled my eyes so hard I am surprised they aren’t still in the back of my head.

He has always struggled with getting cards that were meaningful until our child was able to read. Cole has been picking out cards for years now.

Someone complimented me on my anniversary gift – a necklace — recently and I told them it was a vast improvement over the years.

“He has bought me some really bad jewelry in the past,” I said.

“Is there such a thing?” the lady asked half-joking.

“Oh, trust me. There is.”

In addition to not being one of those puffy heart romantic girls, I am also not one who is enamored with diamonds or expensive jewels.
Nope. Give me silver and turquoise or costume jewelry any day over diamond. Or some rocks that were just mined out of a bucket – even better.

And definitely not any pawn shop jewelry, like Lamar tried when he was looking for my engagement ring.

“I can get you more diamond for less money in here,” he said as he was leading me in the store.

“You think you are going to get me some used borrowed love? Seriously?”

I didn’t care about his logic. He tried to justify he could get me a bigger ring at a pawn store. I argued I did not care about carats or clarity; I would rather have something I could use than a piece of jewelry. But he thought he needed to get me a “big hunk of diamond,” as he called it.
“Oh, that’s so sweet,” the lady said. “You must have known he was the one when he said that!”

Not exactly.

“No, I tried to break up with him not long after that,” I said.

“What? Why?”
Well, remember the whole “I didn’t go bike riding” gift he gave me? That was after we were married.

When we were dating, he spent one whole Sunday riding his bike.

And it was a rare Sunday I had off.

I usually worked every Sunday and had looked forward to a day when we both were off and could spend time together.

After I had dressed for the day, I had called him and got his voice mail.
“Hey…just giving you a call. Wanted to see what you wanted to do today. Didn’t know if you wanted me to cook or if you wanted to go out to eat. Call me when you get this.”

I left that at around 10 a.m.

A few hours went by. He had not called. Maybe he was taking care of the dogs.

I left another message around 2:30.
“Just wanted to check in and see what we were going to do today. Call me.”

I had food thawing I could cook but hadn’t ate all day because I wasn’t sure what he wanted to do.

A few more hours passed with no call.
“I am worried about you…please call me.”

This is why I come across as someone who doesn’t care; my anxiety and worry can make me look like I need a Lifetime movie based on my actions.  I immediately thought the worst-case scenario and started panicking.

Then, I realized, he was probably riding his bike.

His bike. On the rare day we both had a day off.

My last message was, “Hey. I don’t think is going to work. At all. So don’t worry about calling me back. In fact, just delete my number out of your phone. I don’t want to hear from you ever again.”

An hour later, he called. “What?”

“I have nothing to say!” I said and hung up the phone.
I’m telling y’all; the drama was so thick, I needed my own Lifetime movie.

Fifteen minutes later, he showed up at my apartment.

“Why are you here?” I asked.

“We’re going to talk this out. I don’t want us to break up so we are going to work through this.”
This is probably the most this man has ever said in one-time frame in 14 years.

“There’s nothing to talk about.”

He walked in my office and sat down on the couch. To make it even worse, Pepper, my evil beagle, hopped up beside him as if taking sides. Little traitor.

“I just don’t think this is going to work out. I think we want different things in life; we have different goals, we don’t see things the same way…” I rattled off a lengthy list of proof as to why we needed to go ahead and pull the relationship plug.

He looked at me for a second before asking, “Are you hungry?”


“Are you hungry? What have you eaten today?”

I frowned. “I had coffee this morning but didn’t eat because I was waiting on you.”
“So all you have had is coffee?”

I nodded.

“How about we go get some food and then you can break up with me.”
“What kind of food….”

“You want Pizza Hut? They have that cheese stuffed crust now. I will even take you to Dairy Queen for dessert.”
Over Blizzards sitting on the tailgate of his truck, he asked me if I was still going to break up with him.

I told him I had tabled the idea for the time being.

I mean, it was Pizza Hut and Dairy Queen. How could anyone turn that down?
More importantly, how was I skinny back then if that is what I ate?

Jewelry and diamonds do not win me over. Apparently, the best way to my heart is to feed me.

The randomly missing remote

I spent probably six hours one Saturday watching something I didn’t really to watch.

“Can I turn it?” my husband asked.

“Sure,” I said. “If you can find the remote.”


“Can’t find the remote. That’s why I have sat here and watched 12 episodes of The Golden Girls back to back.”

Don’t get me wrong; I love me some Blanche Deveraux but six hours is a lot for one gal to take.

But not being able to find one – just one – remote in this house can lead to a host of television horrors.

“Which one?” he asked.

“All of ‘em.”

If one can create an issue, all four can be even more problematic.

And this one TV has at least four various remotes.

There is the Dish remote, which can also turn on the TV and of course, change the channel.

It actually has a really neat little feature where you can push a button on the receiver and it will locate the missing remote.

Unless it is buried in the depths of a chair or couch which apparently has the strength to block the signal. Or, had somehow been lost in a pile of laundry in the basket and then said basket is scooted into another room.

Then there is the remote that goes with the television.

To be kind of blah compared to the Dish one, this little remote is kind of the grand poobah of remotes.

This single remote allows us to switch between the satellite, the Roku, the DVD player and even the antiquated VHS player that desperately needs to be cleaned.

However, this remote will no longer change the channel on the TV. Without it, we can’t watch anything but TV.

And I am not a big fan of TV.

The remote for the Roku was dropped one too many times and no longer works, so we have to use the app on my phone.

The DVD player has a separate remote. In fact, I think we have two since we had saved the one from the previous DVD player when it died.

I have no idea where the VHS remote is; it may not have even had one since it is 18 years old. It was made back in the days of big buttons clearly labeled with their function of “rewind” or “fast-forward.”

How we lose them is beyond me.

I have tried to corral them all in one little wooden tray on the coffee table.

That lasts about five minutes.

I have found remotes besides cereal boxes, in the freezer, in the bathroom.

I desperately want to know why this happens.

How does one pick up the remote and leave it in another room? More importantly, why does one take the remote with them when they leave the room?

“You are just so scared I am going to turn it from whatever you’re watching that you are a remote wanderer,” I accuse.

This is denied.

It’s the truth though; he turns the channel on me if I turn my back so he naturally thinks I will turn it from his “Ancient Aliens” marathon. And I would, too.

My child has never lived in a remote-less world. Even the air conditioner has a remote.

He finds it hard to believe that I grew up in a world of rabbit ears wrapped in tin foil and having to actually get up and change the channel.

“And you had to stand there and continuing turning it until you found something everyone wanted to watch,” I told him.

I am not sure he believed me. He was more fascinated by the foil wrapped antennae.

“Once, the knob fell off and the only way we could get it to turn the channel was to stick a knife in it,” I told him. “It was hillbilly engineering at its best.”

“A knife? Who came up with that idea?” he asked.

“Me, of course,” I said. Nennie suggested tweezers; for some reason, that woman thinks tweezers can do everything that Murphy’s Oil can’t do.

My child was not impressed. He was busy looking for the grand poobah remote and of course, it was nowhere to be found.

We looked for 20 minutes.

We watched Netflix for four days.

“I think we accidentally threw it away,” Cole pondered.

“It’s here somewhere,” I said. “We just haven’t opened the right drawer yet or found the right laundry basket.”

I had even searched the dryer. It was often a treasure trove of stuff I hadn’t seen in a while.

“Are we sure it is not in the chair?”

Cole said he had checked. But, I know that chair – that chair was able to hide things in its vast innards.

I reached my hand in between the cushions all the way to the bones of the chair and there, perched on the metal workings was the remote.

“Yay!” Cole exclaimed. “Now I can watch my show!”

He looked around.

“Where’s the Dish remote?” he asked.

And it never fails: the one that’s missing is the one we need.

With age comes wisdom

A recent conversation about tomatoes made me think of some of the things I wanted to share with my son now that he was at the ripe old age of 13.

It started with him asking if tomatoes were indeed a fruit. He was puzzled by this.

“You wouldn’t put them in a fruit salad, would you?” he asked. “That would be gross.”

Not all wisdom is so easy to figure out, is it?

Sometimes it comes after a hard-learned and often life-changing lesson.

I thought of the areas of life where it may be helpful to have a bit of preparation and then realized, life in general needed a Clif Notes version to help navigate it. And I thought maybe a cheat sheet would be nice.

So, I started writing some personal wisdoms that I hoped would help my son as he continued to traverse life and all of its lessons.

Make sure you marry someone you like.

Notice I didn’t say love. We use “love” for too many things and there will be times you don’t love your spouse – at all. But make sure you like them. You don’t have to have the same hobbies; you don’t have to like the same things. It could be boring if you did. But make sure you have the same morals and ethics, or you will need more than like and love to make up for a lack of character.

I knew I liked my husband when we were dating and I called to cancel our dinner plans because my beagle, Pepper, had got in the cabinet and binged on her dry food until she was sick. Instead of letting me deal with a sick pup alone, he showed up with a pizza for us and a bottle of Pepto-Bismol for the dog. Every time I am not really loving him that much, I think of him sitting on my kitchen floor giving Pep medicine.

Which leads me to the next piece of wisdom.

You can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat animals.

My grandfather used to tell me he could tell everything he needed to know about a person by how they treated animals. My Pop, as hot-tempered and gruff as he could be, was a softie when it came to anything with four legs and fur. And if someone was not kind to animals, he said it often reflected a lot of their character. I have found he is usually right.

Don’t judge someone based on what they drive or what they wear.

Those superficial trappings often don’t give a very accurate picture about the success or character of a person. I have witnessed people being treated differently when they were in work clothes versus a suit or when they climbed out of a more expensive vehicle. None of those things matter and we don’t know the situation. Even better, don’t judge someone ever. Period.

Don’t judge anyone.

You don’t have any right to pass judgement on anyone’s life. Not everyone has the same opportunities or comes from the same environment that prepares them for certain things. Sometimes, people may make the wrong choice but it was the best one they could make at the time. They shouldn’t have it thrown in their faces the rest of their life; it is counter-productive and doesn’t allow them to grow.

It’s OK to not have a huge circle of friends if you have the right ones.

I have learned over my lifetime I have a very, very small group of friends. I may know a lot of people, but there are very few that really, truly care about me. Make sure in that circle you have one that will give you the hard truths with love. I am thankful I have at least one that I know will tell me when I am being a grand dork. And I know out of my friends who will hear the unspoken pain behind my words. The beauty? It’s the same friend.

And make sure those friends are truly rooting for you. If you don’t know who is, watch who doesn’t cheer for your success. They aren’t there for you, only to see you struggle.

Don’t discuss religion or politics with anyone.

It’s no one’s business what you believe. Let your actions reflect your beliefs rather than having to argue your opinion. People often can’t be swayed and will only dig in deeper to prove their point.

And remember, your character and actions always speaks louder than an opinion.

Always let people you care about know.

You never know when the last time you speak to someone will be the last. The pain and guilt you feel if you have unsaid things is torturous. Trust me.

Avocadoes are fruit, too.

And like tomatoes would be horrible in a fruit salad. But, if you smash them with some tomatoes, onions, lime, salt, you may have a good dip for chips. Just don’t put them with cantaloupe or honeydew.

As I wrote the list, I found more and more things that I needed to add. The list may, in fact, be endless. But knowing not to put tomatoes in a fruit salad is a pretty good start.