Sunday, May 19, 2013

A License to Hunt Ghosts

Recently, one of my friends showed me a photo of her family. The sun was shining, the grass was green, blossoms were blooming, everyone was smiling and she indicated the light orb just to the right of her is her mother.  It was just above her shoulder. I suggested to her that maybe the orb was a dust particle, a drop of moisture or a bug on the lens.

“Really?” she said. “Then how do you explain the fact that this is the only photo with the orb in it? We took lots of photos of our gathering with that camera and this is the only one with the mauve orb? Mauve was my mother’s favorite color and didn’t you notice the Herringbone pattern in it?”

Yes, I have to admit I did.

I’m no stranger to the supernatural. I have had paranormal experiences that could curl a porcupine’s quills. Footsteps in the kitchen when no one else was home, loud knocks on a wall, one night when I was fourteen, my mother and I awoke to a very loud crash but when we got up and investigated, nothing was out of place and my father and sister said they hadn’t heard a thing. The dog hadn’t even woken up. I have felt the presence of departed loved ones (I just seemed to know who was there) and even felt a tingly touch on my skin and the back of my hair being stroked. 

This led me to wonder about ghost hunters. Don’t ask me why. I can’t explain how my mind works either. Do you need a license to hunt? How do you get started? Where do you look? Do you need a psychic? Do you have to go at night when it’s creepy or can you hunt in the safe light of day?

Well let me tell you, there are scads of websites dealing with ghost hunters, countless photos and videos of orbs and a few sites with information for the do it yourselfer. A book is offered for the low price of $49.95 that will explain the theories behind ghostly activity, defining the spectral, organizing and conducting investigations and even where to shop for affordable detection tools.

There are ghost terminators, ghost rescuers and ghost groups. There are two types of spirits, one was a human at one time and the other was never human and considered bad news. I had a boyfriend once whose mother referred to me as bad news but that’s another story.  There are clairvoyants (seeing) clairaudients (hearing), clairsentience (feeling) clairgustance (tasting) and clairalience (smelling). I guess there is a clair for everything and everyone. I could use some clairpesos (the ability to detect money) or maybe a medium of exchange. Hey! I hear you groaning.

One of the sites I visited offered a home study course for a ghost hunting certification for $400. Now I ask you, do you really need to flaunt a ghost hunting badge at someone when a simple business card would do?  And would you be taken seriously?  Really?

Did you know they hold the annual Paranormal Awards in New Hampshire? Some of the categories are, Investigator of the Year, Researcher of the Year, Internet Show of the Year and Radio Show of the Year.  You are judged on strict criteria by a panel of professional judges with years of experience in the field of the paranormal. I’m really close on this one.

The University of Glasgow is now offering a course in psychical research for which you can earn a diploma but there is nothing of this nature in America…yet. There are plenty of seminars, groups, experts and investigators who are willing to help you for a fee. Are there government regulations for ghost hunters? Does there need to be?

What makes me real sad are those who appeal to the grief stricken. Someone who would go anywhere, do anything and pay any amount of money to have the chance to touch, see, feel, hear and smell the ones they miss so fiercely, and believe me, there are heap of ‘em.

I have lost a few that are near and dear to me,…parents, friends, a love and six years ago, my son. I don’t need a diploma to talk to him, to believe I hear his answers. I don’t need an infra-red camera when I can close my eyes and see his smile.  I don’t need a powerful EMF pump to feel the love I shared with him. I don’t need a boost amplifier because his laugh is burned into my memory.  I don’t have to pay for the intention to spend time with him. All I need is a wish and my belief that we never really die. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Is Your GPS Working?

Dearly beloved, we are gathered together today, here in the sign of God- and Jewish mothers everywhere to grant pardon or pay homage to our female procreator. This is a day to find the 'perfect card', buy her favorite candy, contend with the maddening crowd at Peppones and honor almighty Mother, au pair, caretaker, parent, nanny and nurse.

My mother has been gone for thirty years but I remember how finding the ‘perfect card’ was no small task and often filled with emotion. I had to begin days before, rummaging the shelves of Hallmark, frisking sales clerks for the latest deliveries for that one card that depicted an unequaled, world class supreme being. Often, I would ultimately concede to the humor section and find something that made me laugh.

I have been armed with a background of guilt and experiencing the psychodynamics of it can be overwhelming to say the least.  Because of this I have very consciously worked hard to disarm it and not to use it on others although there are times I wish I had. Just kidding, kind of. 

 Guilt can be used to attain control, change a point of view or behavior, to break down, to attack and to punish. All in all it’s kind of like the Swiss army emotion, good for manipulating in any situation.

It’s appropriate to feel guilty for something you’ve done especially if it violates your own moral code.  Cheating, lying, stealing, things of this nature qualifies for a huge helping of guilt. Guilt is a built-in barometer that helps to keep us on the up and up but now I’m straying away from the subject of Mother’s Day. A good day to remember that a Guilt Producing Scheme, or GPS as I refer to it must be veiled in sweetness, helplessness or anger. My mother was a master at it and so was my father but let’s leave him out of it, his day is coming next month. 

“After all I have done for you,” was usually the signal that I should get my bag out and start packing because I was going on a long guilt trip. It was usually prompted by something I did that ticked her off, something I didn’t do that ticked her off; something I said that ticked her off or something I was thinking about doing that ticked her off. She was allowed to get ticked off, I wasn’t. As long as I was waiting on her hand and foot (because I know you’ll do it) I could be free of the countless guilt trips good for thousands of frequent flyer miles I might add. If I rebelled, I would be subject to the long, lonely, icy silence that usually prompted my shotgun approach to apologize for everything from unclean thoughts to breathing air that some nice person could be breathing.

By far, the most debilitating form of guilt that I have had to work the hardest to overcome is what I have felt for being a creative type.  I turned toward the arts at a very early age, painting a picture, writing a poem, playing a song on my guitar all were things that were considered frivolous and I was frequently reminded that I should focus my attention on getting a real job like working at the Post Office. Incidentally, I did work at the post office from 1983 to 1989 and I was miserable but that’s another story or perhaps a series of short stories about going postal.  

The sad part of all this was that my mother was creative too. She had several pieces of beaded jewelry and delicately painted porcelain that she had crafted but always kept them hidden away.  Don’t bring attention to yourself, put your light under a bushel, leave things as you found them and for God’s sake, “stop ‘yer braggin’.” She often confused self-esteem with conceit. “I never compliment my girls, I don’t want them to be conceited.” Well, maw, that worked, we’re about ten days past conceited.

Do I love my mother? Yes. Do I think she did the best she knew how? Yes.  I realize that a lot of my issues have her name of them but my solutions clearly have my name on them.  A long term stint in a self help group, thirteen years of psychotherapy and a whole lot of challenging my belief system has set me on the path I need to be thank you very much.

Today I choose to remember the amusing side of my mother like driving and never making a left turn. It’s true, she went everywhere making right turns and it is totally possible but not at all efficient. My favorite of her sayings, “The television gets real clear just before it blows up, always expect the worst and you’ll never be disappointed and never eat a banana before going to bed.” I’m sure she’s looking down on me happy that I never did test her banana before bed warning.

I love you mom, Happy Mother’s Day.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


Today, May 4th is a very special day in history. For those who don’t know or don’t care, Manhattan Island was purchased for $24 in cloth and buttons in 1626. A phonograph was played for the first time at the Grand Opera House in 1878, The Academy of Motion Pictures was founded in 1934 and Al Capone began his residency at Atlanta Penitentiary for tax evasion in 1932. I’m mentioning these days because I presume they have long been forgotten and rightfully so. 

I suppose the only day in this list truly worth celebrating would be the Academy of Motion Pictures.  Happy 79th Anniversary Academy! I plan to watch Bruce Almighty later tonight; it has been expertly stored in my Direct TV Genie HD DVR, waiting a convenient time to be viewed. Today is that convenient, auspicious and celebratory day! There are a few other choices for celebration; after all it is the first Saturday in May.

Today marks the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby, a favorite celebration for horse lovers, gamblers and drinkers. I placed a small bet on Giant Finish at 39 to 1.  I love surprises.

This is also National Pilates Day, another event worth mentioning as an annual, international, community day that is intended to foster the public’s appreciation and awareness of the Pilate Method.  Joseph Pilates developed this physical fitness system in the early 20th century and called it “Contrology”. It involves concentrationology, breathingology, mentalology, postureology  and painfulology. I don’t usually celebrate this day.

The day that truly captures my heart is, World Naked Gardening Day, with the tenth annual being celebrated today. I want to know why I didn’t know about this! People all over the world are encouraged  to tend their garden unclothed as nature intended.  Really? It is believed that WNGD can develop a sense of community (especially with the crowd you will draw), it costs no money, (unless you are cited for public indecency), runs no unwanted risk (obviously they have not considered the presence of assassin bugs or leather beetles and if you swat at them you can be arrested for sexual assault) and reminds us of our tie to the natural world (especially from a swift lash from the branch of a Crape Myrtle).

Celebrators of WNGD encourage you to tell someone about your naked gardening experiences. I felt the need to remain anonymous so I called a random number and talked at length to someone who went by the nickname of, Stalking Sam. We plan to celebrate together next year. He has a lovely garden of Cestrum Nocturnum, which only bloom at night. He said I should bring a couple of friends as well.

We all can think of safety hazards, especially when gardening naked. Since I am a sensible person, I take precautions. I always wear safety goggles  because there is a risk of small particles or neighbor’s old shoes flying through the air. Earplugs are necessary when I operate my loud gardening equipment, I prefer Putty Buddies soft silicone earplugs over the spark plugs brand. I wear gloves to prevent irritations and cuts. I also wear a safety helmet when cutting tree limbs. Sunscreen and insect repellant are a must. I am now ready to do my naked part and make my area of botanical world a healthier and more attractive place.

After only fifteen minutes of gardening, I have decided that I don’t intend to observe this day in the future. My neighbor is selling his house and his real estate agent dropped by. I gave him a wide smile as he strolled around the property. He asked me if I work in the nude often. I explained about World Naked Gardening Day and offered him some lemonade. He didn’t stay long but on his way to his car he came across a Praying Mantis and pointed to it. I told him how much I appreciate them because they keep my garden free of pest insects. Then I wondered out loud as to what the nature of  his prayers might be. Know what he said?

“I believe he is praying that you will go put some clothes on.”