Thursday, January 15, 2009


I used to be a real no-nonsense kinda girl. As a youth I attended a church that discouraged interest in anything paranormal - ghosts, post-Resurrection miracles, and astrology were all off-limits topics.

I wondered (but never out loud) why we bothered to pray for sick people when modern day miracles didn't exist. I was always confused with the whole "Holy Ghost" thing. If ghosts weren't real, how could there be a Holy Ghost? And I certainly didn't understand how reading my horoscope could make me vulnerable to evil spirits, especially since there weren't any spirits to begin with.

At university I took a handful of psychology courses from a highly-respected professor who worked diligently to drive it through our thick skulls that so-called paranormal phenomena were nothing more than timely coincidences. Science, research, and hard facts were the only thing that counted. If it couldn't be proven through scientific method, it never happened.

My mother believed in ghosts. She told some fabulous stories from her homeland. I thought she was superstitious and unenlightened. She, after all, had not attended an institute of higher learning.

And then... stuff started happening to me. Stuff that defied reason and rational thinking. Stuff that changed the way I view the world around me.

I bought a little house in Arlington. It wasn't grand, but the price was right and the seller was eager to close. It wasn't until after I had moved in that the neighbors informed me of the previous owner's death. They said his name was Scott. A few months later they added that he had died in his garage in his car with the engine running. Tragic.

At first I noticed that my things kept disappearing. Earrings, scarves, lipsticks would just vanish from my dresser and night stand. Then I started hearing noises. Doors opening and closing, footsteps on hard wood floors. Always when I was alone, of course. I told myself it was either the house settling or my imagination.

One evening I was in the kitchen cooking dinner when the electricity went out. The breaker box was right there in the kitchen, so I dragged a chair over, climbed into it, and opened the little door. Before I could flip the breaker, the power came back on. As I stepped off of the chair, the power went back out. Another reach for the breaker box door and the power came back on. This went on for several minutes.

I remembered a friend telling me once that it was helpful to talk to a bothersome ghost. I was getting pretty perturbed, so I gave it a try. I stood in the middle of the kitchen, feeling silly, and asked Scott to please stop messing with the electricity. I told him he was frightening me. The power came back on and stayed on.

Some time later I sold the house. The new owners were acquaintances and began moving in before I was completely out. When I went back for my very last boxes, the new lady of the house told of a few "strange" occurrences. I listened with interest but did not tell her about my experiences in the house. When I went to leave, my car keys were missing. They were not on the cocktail table where I had laid them. We searched the entire house. No keys. I managed to find a way home, with a promise from the new homeowners that they would keep looking for the keys.

The next evening they called to tell me they had found my keys, sitting on the seat of the motorcycle they had parked on the side of the house and chained to the fence. I had not been anywhere near the side yard or the motorcycle.

Some other inexplicable things have happened since then. I'm not as quick to dismiss them as coincidence as I once was.

I got a fun new book for Christmas titled Weird Texas. It's about odd places, unexplained phenomena, and (you guessed it) ghost stories from all over the state. I am enjoying it immensely. And I can enjoy it because my view of the world is no longer limited to what can be scientifically proven.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Vacation 2008

This year's holiday break took us to South Padre Island, as far south as we could go and still be in our beloved Texas.

This is a terrific time of year to go down there - it's not cold, it's not crowded, and it's not expensive. What is there to do on the coast in the winter, you ask? Why, I'd be happy to tell you!

It's a long drive from FW to SPI, so we took a bit of a detour and spent the first night in Fredericksburg. We got a good look at the historic town dressed in holiday lights from a horse-drawn carriage. The outdoor ice rink was closed, for some reason. A successful search for jalapeno peanut butter and a German meal were worth the few extra miles.

It was a bit chilly the first two days on the island, so we visited the sea turtle rescue center, the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, and the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. Turns out that retirees are not the only "snowbirds" to be found in the Rio Grande Valley.

We took a 2-hour cruise in Laguna Madre on a very tidy pirate ship called the Black Dragon. I was a little embarrassed about the whole thing at first, but it was really fun! They keep the kids busy with water gun fights, limbo, treasure hunts, sword fighting, and other pirate-foolery. And we saw plenty of bottle-nose dolphins in the bay.

The rest of the time on the island was spent on the beach. The girls got in the water, but I chose to nap on the sand. Perfection - no crowds, no sunburns, and no mosquitos!

Oh, yeah... this goes without saying - we ate tons of sea food and shopped like tourists.
We were sad to leave, but reality was calling. A stop in Gruene on the way home gave us a chance to stretch our legs and dine at my favorite restaurant, the Gristmill. And then we pressed onward, looking forward to crashing in our own beds.

It is good to be home and back amongst friends. I returned nice and rested, ready to tackle the mountain of work that greeted me Monday morning.

Hope you and yours had a blessed holiday and that the coming year holds much promise.