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Well today is just moving right along. I knew we had status meetings today which are always fun. Some of the others love it when I dress up for whatever book we are doing. I've got my hard hat and tool belt for Carpentry. I've got a chef's hat and apron for Culinary Essentials. Now today, I just got assigned yet another book. I think I'm working on more projects than anyone. It's Mechanical Drawing so I'll have to come up with a complete nerd outfit for the next meeting. Now where can I find a pocket protector? Hopefully , they will be taking me off Culinary soon as my time for my real projects is getting stretched thin.

Tomorrow, I have to go to the Oral Surgeon and get a tooth pulled. Oh joy. Lots of dental work in my near future. But that is a good thing I suppose. Being poor for awhile really took its toll on my dental health. Much bridge work to come I think.

I'm sitting here drinking a cup of Earl Grey tea from my cup I got in Seagrove, NC on my last trip out there. Can't wait for Xmas to come so I can get out there again. The parental units get here next week and will be here through Thanksgiving. It's nice having them here but a pain getting the farm house ready for their arrival. I've got gemstones strewn all over the house and lots of crystals as well. I'll have to get them all packed up before they get here. Mom has a tendency to pick things up and put them in places where I never find them. I'm still searching for a bag of honey calcite for this very reason. I may try to use a pendulum to help me find it later this evening.

So I was listening to the local hard rock station this morning. I hate the morning show guys because it's pretty much a rip off of Howard Stern and I'm beginning to really get tired of Howard anyway. But these morning guys are particularly unappealing. I tune my alarm radio to that station and turn it up on full because I know it's something I will get out of bed to turn off. Although its been very hard to get out of bed these last few mornings as Deb has felt particularly snugly in the AM. Anyway, this guy on the morning show was going on about how he didn't believe in ghosts. He was having people call in with their ghost sightings and trying to tell them it was just pressure or the wind or reflected light or whatever. I got tired of it pretty quickly and said something like "Well come up to the farm sometime you fat bastard and I'll show you a ghost!" Deb was just giggling at me after that.

So here is my Halloween ghost story. What's good about it is it's a true one.

My grandmother lived by herself from 1943 to 1993 in a big old farm house in the countryside west of Rushville, Illinois. Walking into the house was a visit to the past. The house was filled with all sorts of antiques and collectibles. She had a huge china cabinet filled with arrowheads and stone artifacts she had collected in her farm fields over the years. There was lots of hardwood furniture and old solid rocking chairs. Crystal chandeliers decorated the lights and old colorful glass bottles stood on window sills and shelves. We had bought her a new electric stove in 1990 but she refused to use it, opting instead for an old coal oil stove on the back porch, complete with bread ovens. There was always a smell of baking bread mixed with the smoke from the coal oil burning that filled the back porch and kitchen areas.

Whenever you came to visit, she would always try to feed you. Always said you were looking too thin. You always had to remove your shoes when you went inside. Not only to protect the expensive oriental rugs inside but also because if you walked too hard in the house, the crystals in the chandeliers and all the glass bottles would clink together creating a musical din that was too hard to talk over. It was always a great place to visit and she was a great person to visit with. You couldn't fool her on anything and she always told you what she thought of whatever you were doing. She always had lots of stories of all her travels and the people she knew and she loved to hear of my travels. We would talk for hours on my visits.

In the early summer of 1993, I was moving from NC to CO amidst my divorce and stopped in to see her. We watched one of the last games of the NBA playoffs together. She loved Michael Jordan and whenever he would score, she would pull her 86 year old bones up out her chair to cheer for him. We had a great time that night sharing the game and talking. The next morning, I was on my way to Denver. That was to be the last time any of my immediate family saw her alive.

In late July, one of my Dad's nephews was killed on his Harley by a drunk driver. His funeral was to be the first week of August and Dad was going to return to Illinois for it. He called Grandma and told her he would visit with her while he was out. She promised to make him a blackberry pie with some of the fresh blackberries growing along the field fence row. It was a very hot July and she went out in the middle of the day to pick the berries. It was there, in the berry patch that she had a stroke that would eventually kill her. A boy she had working for her came to get his pay and noticed her car parked out in the field and went to investigate. When he found her, he ran back to the house and called the hospital. Later the ambulance driver told me she was still alive when they got to her but she passed on soon after getting to the hospital. She lived a good full life and was hardly ever sick and she died doing something she really liked. We should all be so lucky.

I was living in Denver when I got the call from Dad about Grandma and I hurried back to Illinois for the funeral. Then, after 6 months of probate hearings to decide the fate of her estate, it was decided I would move back to Illinois to go to school and live in her house. That way they didn't have to worry about renting it. I moved in officially in August of 1994.

We started the arduous task of remolding the house. The crystal chandeliers and many of the antiques had gone to my folks or other relatives rather than leave them in the house when no one was there. After we started remolding, it was clear many of those things would not fit the new decor. In the summer of 94, I worked on a ranch in New Mexico. I had a girlfriend named Kate in Albuquerque and we were making an attempt at a long distance relationship. She came out to visit in October about a week before Halloween.

One night, she was in my bedroom folding laundry and I was in the next room typing a paper for school on the computer. I kept hearing a sound from downstairs. It was a crystalline tinkling sound which my brain must have thought was a natural sound for that house because it didn't register that anything was wrong right away. Then, I realized that the sound was the crystal of the chandeliers tinkling together and now there wasn't anything to make that sound. As I came into full realization of this fact, I began to get up and turn around. Suddenly, I felt a pair of warm hands gripping my shoulders from behind and I said "Hey Kate, why did you sneak up on me?" I tilted my head back to look at her and there was no one there. Still the pressure from the unseen hands was there. I reached my hands up to my shoulders and could feel a change in air temperature but could feel nothing solid. So I sat stock still for a few minutes until the warm feeling disappeared. Then I got up slowly and walked into the bedroom.

I sat on the bed with Kate and quietly told her what had just happened. My back was too the door and I saw her face go white. When I asked he what was up, she just pointed to the doorway. I turned to look and there in the doorway was my grandmother who had now been dead for over a year. She had a curious look on her face and she was dressed in and old yellow cotton farm dress like she used to do her chores in. She didn't seem inclined to enter the room and just stood there and stared at Kate and I who pretty much just stared back in disbelief. Gradually she just faded from view. Kate was pretty shaken up and it took going outside and a few beers to get her under control. To me, it felt surpassingly natural that she would be there and was happy she was still around. Kate saw her once more, later that week while coming down the stairs. Grandma was on her way up and Kate had the interesting experience of passing right through Grandma.

Grandma is still in the house. She has been seen by two other girlfriends, one of whom refused to sleep in the house afterward. She appears regularly to me and Deb and we've seen her in all the rooms and outside on the front porch as well, sitting in one of her old metal rockers which we kept. Once she even appeared laying in my bed. Many's the time I will come home to find all the paintings tipped one way or the other, just her way of letting me know she's been there. It's comforting knowing she is always there watching the house. She continues to make the crystal tinkling sound to announce her presence. She likes to make a game out of surprising Deb. She always was a little playful like that.

There ends my ghost story.

Have a happy Halloween, however you choose to celebrate it.




Wander aka StoneBear
Bear Dancer Studios

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