Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘ghosts’

Mr. Calavera

Mr. Calavera (calavera is the Spanish word for skeleton), pen and marker on graph paper, doodle © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.




The Missus will be happy. I finally finished the drawing of her husband. He’s not an easy man—a hard-drinking, hard-living type who would have driven any good woman to die of love. But he’s also an old-fashioned guy, opens doors for women (probably too many doors and Lord knows where they lead) and his kids crawl all over him when he comes home late smelling of whiskey. He can ride a horse and slaughter a cow, grow a garden, hold his liquor. A man’s man. And a decent poker player, to boot.

And you know what? He’s just as devilish in the afterworld as he was in this one. But that’s OK, because over there life is easy. For the both of them. No guilt or sin or any of the baggage that keeps us running in circles in this world.

The Missus (aka Dying Love)Day of the Dead was celebrated last week on November 2nd. I hope my lovely couple—fashioned after my grandmother and grandfather, although if he really were Grandpa, he’d be wearing jeans and a cowboy hat, and a bolo tie if he had to dress up; everything else is the same, though—had a great time.

In this world they had a combustible marriage. Too many poker games, plus that damned redhead on Coco Street, and gambling away dinner for the next two weeks, which brought about a swing of the broom, or worse, when he came home late at night with his paycheck gone. But they were bigger-than-life-sized characters. I wouldn’t have wanted them to be any less explosive or colorful or real. I’m thinking of them this early November. Realizing how with each passing year I inch a little closer to taking their place in my family chain.

Happy Day of the Dead, all you living (for now) folk!



-Related to post Ghost Hunting — Tips & Tools Of The Trade

Read Full Post »

Dark when I get up, dark when I drive home. Ghosts like this time of year. They can wander freely throughout the Universe, come and go, visit whoever they please. I haven’t seen any real ghosts in a long, long time. Yet I lay awake this morning from 4am to 6am, the time I got up to write this practice. I can’t help but think of Ada my grandmother when I think of ghosts. The way she came to see me in Minnesota after she died, made the trip all the way from Tennessee. I was a young woman the last time I saw her alive. She came to me in a ghost-like dream, told me she was alright, that she loved me, and said good-bye. It was the day after that I called Mom to see if she had died. I regretted not seeing her in person for so long; she let me know it was okay. I could feel at peace.

Leslea was more playful, the way she pulled at my toe and knocked the writing book off the shelf. It was around the time I was deeply immersed in my study with Natalie, debating whether to quit my day job for writing, haunted by the ghosts of what-if’s. Looking back, maybe I should have kept my day job. At least if I had wanted a secure financial future. But, then again, looking at the recession of the last few years, maybe it didn’t matter. I was happier leaving. And have made great strides in feeling secure as a writer, in setting up practices that sustain me, a community that holds me. That’s half the reason we started red Ravine.

I watch shows about the paranormal because they fascinate me. I’m fascinated because I’m curious about what happens after we die. I do believe that some souls are trapped between worlds. They wander and attach themselves to places where they lived in their physical lives. I also believe that most of us move on. To do different things in the next spiritual life. Maybe not all lives are spiritual. I happen to believe the work I do here now takes me to the next phase of whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing. This is all vague. Because it’s a Writing Practice and it’s the stream of my mind. It’s also vague because the afterlife is vague. No one really knows what happens after you die.

What if the afterlife is only what you believe it to be? That would make it different for each person. Some don’t believe in life after death at all. The physical death is the end. If I believed that, I would lose hope. That people can improve themselves and go on to something better. But back to Ghosts. I don’t summon them up, play the Ouija Board anymore. I don’t look for ghosts or ask them to appear. I don’t provoke or ask for signs. I might fall over if I saw a ghost of a person I didn’t know. Somehow, it doesn’t scare me to get visits from those I know who have passed to the other side. I count it as one of the many blessings of being in a body.

I want to be comfortable with my own death. But sometimes I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about it a lot this year because my brother has been very sick. His liver has been failing for some time. I was prepared for the worst. Then, miraculously, the week after I got back from my last writing retreat on Lake Michigan, I got a text from him that they had a liver. He was on his way to Philadelphia. Last night we IM’d over Facebook as if nothing had happened. Except the miracle that is his life. He is energetic and full of energy. The 45 staples come out on Tuesday, the day I arrive. The story could have ended differently. In this case, the ghosts are Wonder, Joy, fragments of Disbelief in how a life could move so quickly from Death’s door.

Oh, and Death. I’m not so sure about the sickle and scythe thing. It’s too daunting. Maybe you should lighten up your wardrobe. It’s scary to the living. Or maybe you already have and we all don’t know how to change your ghost of an image. Whatever you are, I don’t want to be afraid. Shadow and Light, they all play in the same forest of autumn leaves.


-Related to Topic post: Ghost Hunting — Tips & Tools Of The Trade

Read Full Post »

I love the idea of being able to see ghosts. I wish I could, I mean, really see ghosts. Like the main character from that TV series “The Ghost Whisperer.” I like how she’s always calm, even after the most jolting vision. Blood, vomiting ghosts, ghosts who have half their brains falling out of their heads. None of it rankles her.

Me, I’d have my eyes shut most of the time. And yet, I still want to see ghosts. The closest I get is seeing a flash of something out of the corner of my eye. Or I feel something, a prickle of fear, a chill running past me.

Ever since high school I’ve been fascinated by ghosts and people who can see them. Patrick, for instance. He told us stories about a recurring dream he had about his grandmother dying. She did die, in the house, and most of what he dreamed was exactly how she died. His parents had set up a room for her in the house, and they had a nurse and maybe another attendant taking care of her. When she died, he happened to walk by her room and notice that his parents and the attendants were all fussing about her. He was a boy, maybe 8 or 9, maybe 10, but young enough that when someone noticed that he had stopped in the doorway and was looking in on the scene, one of them, maybe his mother, rushed to him and scooped him away.

But in the dream, when they notice that he’s standing at the door to the room watching all the chaos, instead of sweeping him out the room they all walk calmly to one side of his grandmother’s bed. His grandmother is dead but she slowly sits up, opens her eyes then turns toward Patrick. At that point in his dream he wakes up.

I remember him saying that whenever he woke up from this dream he smelled his grandmother’s powder, that kind of old-lady stuff that comes in a round container. Or he woke to the sound of her cane tap-tapping on the brick floors down the hallway.

We always wanted to hear more, and I remember he told us once that one day he went crazy trying to find the source of the powder smell. He dug through his grandmother’s old closet and under boxes and boxes of clothing and shoes and hats, until there he found it, one pink container with her powder. He told us about sitting in the bathtub once and having the water go completely cold, then the smell of old-lady powder.

He told us these stories after we’d graduated and would hang out together at night, already at the university yet not ready to let go of the friendships we’d had that defined who we were. I had just moved into a studio apartment that was haunted. All sorts of freaky things happened to me the short time I was there. A phone call in the middle of the night, a child’s voice on the other end asking for his mother. It sounded like a party in the background. The child wouldn’t answer me when I asked, Where are you? What’s your name?

And black dogs out the front door, this was right after the movie “The Omen” had come out. Black dogs were bad signs, and one afternoon, a rare cloudy New Mexico day I opened the door and there were two, the same exact kind from the movie. But the kicker was one night when my pillow rolled off the bed and onto the floor heater. I woke up choking, the room full of thick smoke.

When Patrick came the next morning to see if he felt ghosts at my place, he walked in and gasped as if he’d been punched in the chest. He looked at me and said, You’re getting out of here. He waited by the doorway while I packed a bag with enough stuff to last me a few nights. That next week we moved me out, but we only went to the house during the day. I never went back alone.

I still remember sitting up with Patrick, and my best friend Denise. I think I might have moved into an apartment with my friend Ellen. It was one of those nights when we all sat on my bed, all of us friends, and made Patrick tell us one scary story after another. We made ourselves so scared that no one left my place that night. We all slept on the bed like a litter of pups.



-Related to post Ghost Hunting — Tips & Tools Of The Trade

Read Full Post »

Orbs In The Barn

Orbs In The Barn, Glenwood, Minnesota, May 2006, photo © 2006-2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


It’s Halloween, the time of year when the veil between the worlds is thinnest. Have you ever taken a photograph and were later surprised to find you had captured an orb? Orbs are small, floating, transparent balls of light, most times unexplainable in the context of the photograph. Some claim that orbs are the building bricks from which ghosts are formed.

Do you believe in ghosts? When I was in high school, we would drive around looking for abandoned buildings that might be haunted. We rarely saw anything supernatural and most times managed to scare ourselves silly. But in the years since, I have been visited by two ghosts. One was from my grandmother in Tennessee the night that she died. She came to see me in (what I thought) was a dream, and told me she loved me. The next day I called Mom to ask if Granny had passed away. She said, “Yes, how did you know?”

The second ghostly visit was from my friend Leslea not long after she died from pancreatic cancer. She appeared in my bedroom, pulled on my toe, and knocked a writing book off the shelf at 3am in the morning. It was one of those cover your head with the sheets moments. I didn’t want to see, but could not forget. There are many TV shows that deal with the paranormal these days. Ghost busters and ghost hunters who travel the world documenting the presence of ghosts. What are your ghost experiences?

In his new book Ghost Hunting — A Survivor’s Guide, John Fraser documents a brief history of ghost hunting and explores definitions of poltergeists, doppelgangers, animal ghosts, and crisis apparitions that occur at the point of death or near death of a loved one. Fraser has several chapters on methods of ghost hunting. He divides ghost hunting tools of the trade into scientific and low-tech. Many of the paranormal ghost hunters we hear of today are using high-tech, scientific methods.


High-Tech Ghost Hunting Equipment

  • EMF Meters — commonly called ghost detectors and used to measure electromagnetic fields of various frequencies. These devices measure fluctuations in electromagnetic energy in the environment. [Last week I heard a radio interview with a psychic that said many times EMF detectors are not useful because ghosts like to hang out where there is an abundance of electrical currents like airports or malls.]
  • Cameras — used in ghost hunting for well over 100 years, commonly to capture orbs or mists
  • Thermometers — traditional mainstay of a ghost hunter’s kit used to register changes in air temperature. Digital is the best today. Some use infrared thermometers for target spotting. The theory is that ghosts often suck up the warm energy around them, leaving cold spots where they hover or stand.
  • Tape Recorders — Ghosts and poltergeists often make audible sounds or electronic voice phenomena called EVP. You will hear EVP’s recorded with digital recorders in many of the ghost busting TV shows.
  • Camcorders — camcorders are placed in paranormal hot spots and later reviewed for images or disturbances
  • Night Vision Scopes — for open-air locations where mediums feel more comfortable operating in the darkness
  • Barometers & Motion Detectors — compact and digital, to measure changes in air pressure. Like EMF meters, barometers do not detect ghosts but indicate a change in the environment or warning of poltergeist activity.
  • Spirit Box — a regular portable AM/FM radio modified to continually scan up and down the dial without stopping. The radio produces small snippets of clearly distinguishable voices as it scans the stations, noises that are clearly not part of any broadcast. Many believe that the spirits, who lack a voice of their own, are able to harness and manipulate radio signals to give voice to their thoughts.


Low-Tech Ghost Hunting Equipment

  • Graph Paper — for drawing clear plans of the haunted site
  • Rulers or Tape Measures — used to measure distances of objects moved
  • Watches — digital and viewable in the dark for timing events, synchronized among investigators
  • Voltmeters — used to check electrical power faults and cuts
  • Strain Gauges — to measure the force it would take to open a door or drawer, or the weight of an object that has been moved
  • Magnifying Glasses — for closer viewing of evidence
  • Transparent Envelopes — safe place to store unusual objects collected
  • Flour — simple device for sealing off a room, sprinkling a large area, seeing if footprints are left by any intruders
  • Black Thread — for sealing rooms to detect and prevent hoaxes
  • Torches — to light dark ghost hunting corners, castles, and caves
  • Candles — for lighting and to detect air flow changes
  • Whistles — to call for help if needed. Can also use a two-way radio.
  • Survey Maps –– to document history of what the property may have been used for in the past
  • Chalk – to make temporary marks showing the location of objects before and after they have been moved


Many ghost hunters also use human sensitives, intuitives, psychics, or mediums to help detect paranormal activity. If you want to read more about ghost hunting, your local library is a great resource for books on the paranormal, including the newest from John Fraser. Get your ghost hunting kits ready because tonight is Halloween. We’ll have a fire in the fire ring and candy in hand, ready to stave off tricks in favor of treats.

Ghosts make for good Writing Practice too. Whether haunted by figurative ghosts or the real thing, there is juice in ghost writing. Write the word Ghosts at the top of your page — 10 minutes, Go!


-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Read Full Post »


No bunnies in the garden, Easter bunny statue
after a visit by the ghost, April 2009, photo ©
2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



On Easter Sunday night, the night Patty came over with my ugly rabbit in tow, the ghost was active. We sat in the great room, exhausted but satisfied. The party had been a success. The house was clean (we vacuumed up edible Easter basket grass from all corners of the playroom), ham was in the fridge, the dishes done. Patty, Jim, and I stared at my ugly Easter bunny — Patty found it at Marshall’s — and laughed. It stood two feet tall on hind legs. Other than the basket it carried in its paws, the rabbit was meant to be realistic, not a cartoon bunny. It was painted khaki tan.

When the gate outside the window snapped closed, Jim glanced my way. “What?” I said, knowing exactly why he looked at me. He told Patty that it was the ghost. Like Jim, Patty has a sixth sense. Jim told her that the ghost was matriarchal, that she had been a gardener and wanted the place to be looked after.

Patty looked out into the darkness. It was late. She got up to leave. I walked her to the front door as Jim took my ugly bunny out to the back patio.


The first year we lived here the ghost was most active in the master bathroom. She flushed the toilet at random, sometimes several times a night. One time she bumped me as I leaned over the sink brushing my teeth. Jim had also felt her presence, even seen her—not her face but the old-fashioned fabric of her dress—in the laundry room. I pictured her to be matronly, gray hair in a bun, benevolent but stern like an elderly woman in a Mary Cassatt painting.

But lately she’s been out by the side gate, along a brick path leading from the front porch to the rose garden in the back. That’s where the greenhouse is, too. Jim is convinced she wants to see us using the greenhouse. He thinks my recent project revitalizing the rose garden is especially making her happy.

It is a sweet spot. An old apple tree anchors it, hanging like a weeping willow over the large plot. In the dirt are the graves of two dogs, an entire sprinkler system that no longer works, and several round stepping stones that were (until we uncovered them) buried under debris. The only living remnants of a thriving garden, besides the apple tree, are the several rose bushes, one taller than me by a couple of feet. I’ve told Jim, “Someone once loved this space.”

It must have been lush at one time.




Easter bunny in front of the garden, April 2009, photo © 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved




Day after Easter we wake to rain. It’s come down all night, gentle but steady. I stay in bed; I worked hard getting ready for the party, getting ready for spring, getting that special garden into shape for the first round of perennials I planned to plant there soon. Em runs into the bedroom.

“Mom, did you paint the rabbit?”

I’m not sure if I heard her right and if I did, what in the world was she talking about?

“What?”

“Did you paint the rabbit??”

Paint the rabbit? I turn it over in my head. What rabbit?

Jim comes in behind Em. “Roma, the rabbit has green splotches on it.”

Green splotches!?

I get up, trudge to the windows looking out over the wet patio. There the ugly rabbit stands on hind legs. He is khaki tan, yes, but now he has big army green splotches all over him.

“Were they there before?” Jim asks, mostly to the universe. We wrack our brains. I don’t remember them. Em doesn’t remember them.

I call Patty. “Patty, our rabbit has green spots. Big green spots. Did it have green spots last night?”

“No,” she says, laughing.

“Are you sure?”

“I drove around with that rabbit in the back seat for weeks; of course I’m sure. It did not have green spots!”

We develop our theories: water-activated paint, all of us were just too tired to see the splotches, or the ghost has a sense of humor.


Two weekends have passed since Easter. I’ve managed to get more than 40 plants into the flower garden. Two mums, four hollyhocks, three clumps of daisy. I planted the Easter lillies we got as gifts for hosting the Easter celebration. Under the rose bushes I put leafy coral bells, the color of ruddy cheeks, as ground cover.

A patch of columbines sit in the shade of the apple tree, penstemons in full sun, flowering woodruff, soapwort, salvia, coleus for the exotic red-green foliage, evening primrose, Icelandic poppies, a bleeding heart bush. Near the brilliant violet of a plant whose name I’ve forgotten, I seed small marigolds. I can just imagine the bright orange-yellow against the purple in summer. Because I know Jim loves herbs, I plant a large oregano in the corner closest to the back door, and I leave room for the chives he bought at Grower’s Market.

Jim remarks that she’s happy to see the garden take shape. I have noticed less of her. The last time I felt her presence was one morning early in the week after Easter; I went outside, not a breeze in the air, and the gate swung slowly closed. It dawns on me that I had been schooling our pug, Sony, to use the garden as her potty area. Nowadays my refrain to Sony is, “Out of the garden, out of the garden.”

The ghost is happy.

Jim is comfortable with her presence; me, less so. I don’t much like the idea of just letting a ghost be. At one point I suggested that we invite a friend of a friend, a ghost whisperer, to come and at least make contact with her, see why she’s here. Jim looked at me askew. “You’re not going to pay for him to do it, are you?” I know what he was thinking: I know why she’s here.

And the truth of the matter is that I trust his instincts. I can sense that she’s found some peace of late. Or maybe it’s me, finally digging my hands into the earth, taking the patch of land into my care. A few days ago I moved one of the mums from the spot I first planted it. Too crowded into the rose bushes and the flowering woodruff at their base. I planted it in a roomier spot, in full sun.

Mums are an old-fashioned plant, hardy like dahlias and zinnias, a flower I associate with ancestors from a long-ago past. I have a feeling she likes them.





Image, I noticed the image of a face in this photo that Jim took of an ice crack over a hole, photo © 2007-2009 by Jim, all rights reserved   Image, I noticed the image of a face in this photo that Jim took of an ice crack over a hole, photo © 2007-2009 by Jim, all rights reserved
Image, I noticed the image of a face in this photo that Jim took of an ice crack over a hole, photo © 2007-2009 by Jim. All rights reserved.




Postscript: I wrote this as a Writing Practice (later edited) Monday night on the plane ride from Albuquerque to Portland. I was looking through pictures stored on my computer when I noticed the above photo that Jim took two winters ago. It is a shot of an ice crack over a hole. Suddenly the image of a face jumped out at me. It’s a benevolent face, like a young Madonna or the Christ child.

I marveled at Jim’s gift, how he can commune with hummingbirds (they’re back, by the way; just showed up this week) and the ghost of a former matron of the house. Patty says Jim is an innocent, that he has a clear channel to things the rest of us don’t.

This photo made me realize that the ghost is OK. As Jim said when I brought up the notion of inviting over the guy who talks to ghosts, “Not everything has to change. Some things are fine just the way they are.”

Read Full Post »

Happy Birthday, Mabel Dodge, Taos, New Mexico, photo © 2007-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Happy Birthday, Mabel Dodge, Taos, New Mexico, photo © 2007-
2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.







tombstone in winter;
knowing Mabel’s ghost lingers,
we write for our lives







I’ve felt the ghost of Mabel Dodge Luhan. She walks the adobe halls of the house at night, creaking on the steps leading down into her bedroom. It was pitch black the night of her visit. The dogs of Taos were howling in the distance. I didn’t look up from the hand-carved bed frame. The frame that I once read Dennis Hopper wanted to chainsaw into pieces and remove from the room. Someone must have stopped him.

Mabel would have turned 130 years old on this day. Those who benefit from her artistic vision sit on black cushions in silence; it’s the first week of what will be a year of study with Natalie. Whatever you think of Mabel or Tony (and you can hear an earful from the locals around Taos), together they created a pulsing creative space at the foot of Taos Mountain. One large enough to hold them both — and the rest of us, too.

Mabel’s grave is in a lonely corner of Kit Carson Memorial Cemetery. I visit there every time I am in Taos. Below is an excerpt from an article by Henry Shukman when he was hot on the trail of the ghost of D. H. Lawrence. It’s a fitting tribute to Mabel. Sometimes people are remembered most for the things they leave behind. Happy Birthday, Mabel. I hope you didn’t think we’d forgotten.



It was from the foot of Taos mountain that Mabel Dodge Luhan — heiress, patroness, columnist, early proponent (and victim) of psychoanalysis, memoirist and hostess — planned the rebirth of Western civilization. She moved to Taos from the East Coast in 1917 and fell in love not only with the place but also with Tony Lujan (later anglicized to Luhan), a chief in the nearby pueblo. She promptly left her second husband, married Tony and expanded a house on the edge of town, turning it into an adobe fantasy castle (what Dennis Hopper, who owned it in the 1970’s, would later call the Mud Palace), and began to invite scores of cultural luminaries. The idea was to expose them to the Indian culture she believed held the cure for anomic, dissociated modern humanity. After dinner, drummers and dancers from the pueblo would entertain the household.

Today her house is a museum, guesthouse and literary shrine all in one. For anyone on the trail of Lawrence, it’s the first of three essential ports of call. As I make my way up the groaning narrow stairs, the sense not just of history but of peace hits me: no TVs, no telephones. Instead, the deep quiet of an old, applianceless home. There are a bathroom with windows that Lawrence painted in colorful geometric and animal designs in 1922 to protect Mabel Luhan’s modesty, and floorboards across which Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe and Thomas Wolfe creaked. (In fact Wolfe stayed only one night. He arrived late and drunk, decided he didn’t like it and fled the next morning.)

D.H. Lawrence’s New Mexico: The Ghosts That Grip the Soul of Bohemian Taos by Henry Shukman, from the NY Times, Cultured Traveler, October 22, 2006



Winter In Taos, Taos, New Mexico, November 2001, C-41 film print, photo © 2001-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Winter In Taos, grave of Mabel Dodge Luhan, born February 26th, 1879, died August 13th, 1962, Taos, New Mexico, November 2001, C-41 film print taken at my first Taos Writing Retreat at Mabel’s House, photo © 2001-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



In a cold like this, the stars snap like distant coyotes, beyond the moon. And you’ll see the shadows of actual coyotes, going across the alfalfa field. And the pine-trees make little noises, sudden and stealthy, as if they were walking about. And the place heaves with ghosts. But when one has got used to one’s own home-ghosts, be they never so many, they are like one’s own family, but nearer than the blood. It is the ghosts one misses most, the ghosts there, of the Rocky Mountains. …because it is cold, I should have moonshine …

— D.H. Lawrence from Mornings In Mexico


-posted on red Ravine for the 130th birthday of Mabel Dodge Luhan, Thursday, February 26th, 2009

-related to posts: haiku 2 (one-a-day)WRITING TOPIC — HAUNTED, The Vitality Of Place — Preserving The Legacy Of “Home” (with photos of Mabel & Tony and links to many of their contemporaries)

Read Full Post »

Cotton Cloudiness, St. Simons Island, Georgia, July 2008, all photos © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved

Cotton Cloudiness, rainbow over St. Simons Island, Georgia, July 2008, all photos © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.











cotton cloudiness
Atlantic ocean rainbow
ghosts of St. Simons











-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

-related to post: haiku (one-a-day)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »