Because When You Realize that You Want to Spend the Rest of Your Life with Somebody…

…you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.

Despite my love of action movies I’ll admit that I have a soft spot for some films considered to be more “chick flick” in nature. One of my favorites is “When Harry Met Sally”. After seeing that movie I could never look at New Year’s Eve the same way again. So to celebrate the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010 I want to share one of my favorite New Year’s Eve moments with all of you.

See you next year!

(Spoiler Alert: This is the very end of the movie, so if you watch this you’ll know how it ends. Also, you might want a tissue before pressing play.)

12 Days of Blogging

You may think this is going to be a Merry Christmas, God bless us everyone, holiday post, but you’re wrong. In fact, this post is in reference to the fact that today is the FIRST day of Christmas. You know, the one where you get the partridge. Anyway, the new year is approaching, making this the time that’s rife with best of, top whatever, lists. Since I’m a blogger these days, I figured I would share with you fine folks my favorite blogs (assuming that somehow having a blog gives me the authority to recommend other blogs). And, since I fancy myself as a clever girl at times (much like the velociraptor in “Jurassic Park”), I thought that I would acknowledge that today marks the first of the twelve days of Christmas, the twelfth day being the last day before Epiphany, the commemoration of the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi, and go with 12 Days of Blogging. That’s right, I’m getting Catholic on y’all!

With that said, below are my 12 Days of Blogging, with the twelfth day being the arrival of the Wise Men, which makes number twelve suddenly even more amusing. If you want, you can read one paragraph a day and make it an event (and generate more hits for my website), or you can read it all now and immediately begin telling me about blogs you like in the comments section.

On the first day of blogging I would suggest to thee, a visit to Sketch Please. Artists challenge each other with weekly subjects in a public forum, how cool is that? The answer my friends is, very cool. It’s all art, so some may not consider it a “blog”, but I do, and it’s one of my favorites.

On the second day of blogging I would suggest to thee, subscribing to What Greg Eats. My friend Greg has this nasty habit of talking to me about food in a way that inevitably makes me crave that food beyond normal human levels. Now he spreads his wicked gift with his blog.

On the third day of blogging I would suggest to thee, Michael Ruhlman’s blog. I became aware of Michael Ruhlman after seeing his appearance on the Las Vegas episode of “No Reservations”. His blog discusses all things food: preparation, recipes, cookbook reviews, news, shopping, everything!

On the fourth day of blogging I would suggest to thee, bookmarking The Wild Hunt. I just became aware of this site a few weeks ago and it’s already a must! It’s you’re one stop blog for everything going on in various Pagan communities and everything outside effecting them. If I do this list again next year, I suspect this will end up in my top five.

On the fifth day of blogging I would suggest to thee, subscribing to 101 Cookbooks. Just loads of great recipes. Vegetarian, occasionally Vegan, mostly whole grains. If you’re looking to fall in love with whole grains, visit this site right now!

On the sixth day of blogging I would suggest to thee, Anthony Bourdain’s blog. Generally his blog is active when new seasons of his show “No Reservations” are airing, and they discuss the stuff that you don’t see in the episodes. Also, from time to time he’ll just write about other stuff, like learning to let go of his Rachael Ray hate, or children’s television programming. I enjoy his writing style and his show, so I check out his blog at least once a week to see if there is anything new.

On the seventh day of blogging I would suggest to thee (who aren’t easily offended), a visit to Perez Hilton’s website. I know, I know. Perez Hilton is stupid, or mean, or hateful, or bigoted, or whatever. I’m not saying I love the photos of celebrities with a penis drawn on them, but here’s the deal. Perez Hilton posts more videos and links to things I’m glad to see than any other entertainment blog. If I didn’t read his blog I wouldn’t have found out about Robyn’s latest CD and Ida Maria’s debut album, I wouldn’t have seen the best performances from the American Music Awards, and I wouldn’t have realized that Lady Gaga was the person behind every dance song I liked this past year. In other words, Perez Hilton’s website has made my life better. Sorry folks, it may be sad, but it is true.

On the eighth day of blogging I would suggest to thee, Neil Gaiman’s Twitter feed. Gaiman, author of the awesomely fantastic “Sandman” series, “American Gods”, “Stardust”, and more, technically has a blog, but since The Magical Buffet is on Twitter, I find it easier to just follow him on Twitter. His blog posts show up in his Twitter feed along with other fun observations and news.

On the ninth day of blogging I would suggest to thee, William Gibson’s Twitter feed. Gibson has a blog, but even he admits on it that you’re better off following him on Twitter. Gibson, author of one of my all-time favorite fiction novels, “Neuromancer”, is surprisingly prolific in the microblogging format. He’s much funnier than I would have expected and he frequently post links to news stories that I end up glad I’ve read. Yup, William Gibson’s Twitter feed is one of my news sources.

On the tenth day of blogging I would suggest to thee, a visit to Wil Wheaton in Exile. I totally had a crush on Wil Wheaton when I was younger, and I suspect if I hadn’t found the king of all geeks and married him, I would probably still have a crush on Wheaton. Instead, I am now what is politely referred to as a “fangirl”. I can’t help it; his blog is a delightful mix of all things geek along with personal introspection. One day I’m hearing about a Dungeons and Dragons campaign, the next I’m learning about trying to survive the Hollywood casting process, and the next I’m given a recipe for breakfast. I dare say our blogs are eerily similar except for a few minor differences, he doesn’t really talk religion and he’s a better writer than me.



On the eleventh day of blogging I would suggest to thee, daily visits to Least I Could Do. Technically Least I Could Do is a webcomic. One of the best webcomics I’ve ever read. Great writing, fantastic artwork, and there is a new strip every day. If you like comic books, action movies, sex, television, fantasy novels, and I don’t know, just about any other pop culture niche, you should be reading this comic. Since it is original content that’s updated daily, I would consider that enough to call it a “blog”, but just to satisfy any nitpickers, I’ll point out that the home page also has blog posts from the writer Ryan Sohmer and occasionally artist Lar Desouza. Sohmer’s blog is a favorite of mine. Whether he’s discussing politics or home improvements, he does it with his fantastic wit that you read daily in his comics.

On the twelfth day of blogging I would suggest to thee, to Go Fug Yourself. I’ll admit it; I’m not a “fashion” person. My ideal wardrobe is nothing but blue jeans and assorted t-shirts. Not what you would necessarily call “fashion forward”. I couldn’t follow the designers mentioned on “Sex in the City” and I genuinely only check out Vanity Fair for the articles. I guess when it comes to fashion; I’m more like a man than a woman (if we’re going to paint with the broad strokes of generalities). All of that changed when I stumbled across Go Fug Yourself. You don’t need to know about fashion, or even really care about fashion, to love this site. It’s filled with fantastic writing that’s littered with varied pop cultural touchstones to discuss celebrity fashion. One may expect vapid, superficial talk, but you quickly realize these women are smart, and have a wit that could cut a man. I hope my writing is like theirs when it grows up.

Also, for those of you who celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas! God bless us, everyone.

What People Are Saying

As most regular readers know, I attended the 2009 Northern New York Paranormal Expo. What most readers don’t know, is that The Magical Buffet was given the opportunity to have fliers out at the event. Suddenly needing to create fliers I found myself in a bit of a pickle, what on earth does a flier for The Magical Buffet have on it? I came up with the idea that maybe some of the awesome, creative, fabulous people who have contributed to The Magical Buffet would be willing to say what they like about The Magical Buffet and we’ll put that stuff on the fliers. My logic being that all those people are cooler than me, so other people would be duly impressed that those too cool people would say nice things about this less cool person.

Most everyone I asked responded enthusiastically. Honestly, I was caught off guard by the seemingly genuine affection that people had for myself and The Magical Buffet. Being a human, I obviously found myself going, well I LOVE this! I decided that I would post their kind words on the website, thinking that perhaps someone new to the site would go, well if that’s what all these cool people think, I should DEFINITELY read this blog regularly! Also, to be honest, I’m just so darn proud that I couldn’t resist publishing them here so I could brag some. Forgive me my pride.

Now there is a new page on The Magical Buffet website called “What People Are Saying”. Take a moment to check it out!

http://themagicalbuffet.com/blog1/what-people-are-saying/

Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Good Nightmare!

It’s funny how this article from guest author Alice Diehl came about. As I sat at my desk I couldn’t ignore the fact that the holiday season was approaching. The Magical Buffet’s original format generally ignored acknowledging holidays, but with this new blog format it seemed wrong to not acknowledge some holidays as they approach or as they occur. So there it was, Christmas was coming. The question was, what was I going to do about it? Write some heart felt personal piece about Christmas, not going to happen. Talk about the Pagan roots to so many beloved Christmas features, it seems better informed and more talented writers would be addressing that else where. Honestly, I wanted to find the evil opposite of what most websites would do for a Christmas post. I found my mind wandering to some of the bizarre slasher movies set around the holidays. And the rest is history.

I’m friends with Alice from our interactions on the website MyNerdGirl.com (join us there!). I knew she was funny, intelligent, and more importantly a huge fan of horror movies. I asked her to compile a list of her favorite seasonal horror films and I’m pleased to share with you the results.

Hey there Ghouls and Girls! I know you all have that common Christmas picture in your heads, let me set the scene for you: Your stockings are hung by the chimney with care; you’ve just gorged yourself on sugar plums and gingerbread. The children are all nestled in their beds, and in the middle of the night a man with a slight weight problem breaks and enters into your cozy suburban home…lo and behold in this scenario we assume he is bringing gifts upon this midnight clear, but if the modern day world and the advent of film has anything to say about it Santa’s bringing an axe this Christmas!

During a time of the year that promotes togetherness I ask you to cozy up, get the egg nog and cover the kids’ eyes as I count down my top five Holiday Horror treats.

#5: Jack Frost

On the way to his execution a serial killer is genetically mutated into a murderous snowman, who’s only enjoyment comes from seeking revenge on the lawman that took him down.

I gotta tell you kids if you’ve got a phobia of Styrofoam this film is not for you. Who can forget that climatic battle in the end where our killer meets his demise “a la kool-aid acid” chemical peel.

#4: Silent Night, Bloody Night

Let me pull up some key descriptive words: Old Mansion, Mental Institution, Deranged Killer, Weird Townsfolk, and Warhol? If you’re down for decking the halls with a little blood this one is for you. Beyond all the normal horror holiday highlights check this usually unheard of gem out, with appearances by many of Warhol’s Factory superstars as mental institution inmates it makes for a bloody and kooky trip.

#3: Gremlins

It’s a classic…period end of sentence, if you haven’t seen it, it should be on your wish list. I know I’m hoping to find Gizmo in my stocking on Christmas morning. Or possibly Phoebe Cates. (smile)

#2: Black Christmas

Who doesn’t love a film that gives you a reason not to pledge as a sorority sister, or store your decorations in an attic? The film touts a cast of lovely ladies, inappropriate phone calls (who hasn’t savored the holiday punch and dialed some old friends) and that classic scene with Clare’s body propped up in the attic window. Plus, Steve Martin LOVES it…and that takes the cat’s pajamas in my book.

#1: The Shinning

Okay, so this one isn’t exactly holiday themed, no Santa, no holiday meals, but it has all the winter and seasonal essentials. Snow. A ski resort. Family togetherness. I connect with this film on a personal level, having grown up in a small snowy mountain community and having hung out at the local ski resort more times than I can count. It’s an age old question that’s being answered with this film; does all that family time really make for holiday spirit or daddy’s ultimate meltdown?

Honorable x- mass-acre Television Mentions:

Tales from the Crypt “All Through the House”

Buffy the Vampire Slayer “Amends” Season 3, Episode 10.The one where Angel finds his wing, so to speak.

I hope you enjoyed my selections….”Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good nightmare!”

About the Author:
Alice has been a horror movie buff since she was a little girl. Particularly the “Halloween” series. She hopes to be the first scream queen on wheels. She’s also an advocate for LGBT as well the disability communities. Been a nerd since conception. So proud! You can catch her on www.mynerdgirl.com as well her Facebook page.

I Told You So

Yes, I realize this is old news. In the land of Facebook and Twitter, in a universe with awesome websites like The Wild Hunt, I am, and probably forever will be a day late and a dollar short. However, since the December 2009 Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life’s latest offering “Many Americans Mix Multiple Faiths” confirms the founding ideals of The Magical Buffet I feel obliged to offer up my two cents. (Man, there are a lot of money references in this paragraph. Must be the recession.)

As the oldest, loyalest, bestest readers will tell you, The Magical Buffet wasn’t always “Where Spirituality, Politics, and Pop Culture Collide.” Back in 2006 it was where you would “Take What You Want, and Leave the Rest.” As you can read in our “About Us” section I address our original philosophy, “For those of you that missed it, my original philosophy explained that by watching the movie ‘Big Trouble in Little China’ I realized that all modes of belief are valid on some level and that a lot could be gained by offering up articles introducing our readers to as many different ideas as possible, enabling them to “Take What They Want, and Leave the Rest”. This is part of a line from the character Egg Shen in the movie, and our original tag line for the site.” Since I essentially practice a hodge podge of religious philosophies, I assumed that there were other religious DIYers that would like to learn more about beliefs and practices they could fold into their already existent spirituality. I was right. (A thank you to all my Wiccan/Pagan peeps, the most adaptable spiritual bunch I’ve encountered! Love you!)

Now as we all are aware, The Magical Buffet is no longer entirely devoted to religion and spirituality because there were other fantastic communities of people out there that I wanted to try to bring together with my already awesome original Buffet subscribers. I always suspected that Gamers/Wiccans/Music Lovers/New Agers/Action Movie Fans/Spiritualists/Comic Book Geeks would be my key demographic. However I still absolutely believe in my original Buffet philosophy, and if this latest survey from Pew is to be believed, I’ve been right along.

People, we’re such a bizarre contrary bunch, it’s why I love humanity so. Ask a Catholic if they hold any Hindu beliefs, they’ll say no. Ask a Catholic if they believe in reincarnation (a biggie in the Hindu faith) and 28% will say yes. Ask a Protestant if they believe in any New Age philosophies, they’ll say no. Ask them if they believe that spiritual energy can be found in physical things, like mountains, trees, and crystals, 20% will say yes. I understand that these aren’t ludicrously high numbers, but I think it shows that more people than we might suspect are taking what they want and leaving the rest. More encouraging still the report states “One-third of Americans (35%) say they regularly (9%) or occasionally (26%) attend religious services at more than one place, and most of these (24% of the public overall) indicate that they sometimes attend religious services of a faith different from their own. Among those who attend religious services at least once a week, nearly four-in-ten (39%) say they attend at multiple places and nearly three-in-ten (28%) go to services outside their own faith.” Americans are definitely experiencing and learning more about religious practices outside of their own, and I find that cause to celebrate.

Why? Because nothing makes a woman happier than being able to say, “I told you so.”

My Many Menorahs

Since the Jewish holiday Hanukkah begins at sundown tomorrow, I thought now would be a good time to spend a moment or two discussing the menorah. I love menorahs. I may be what theologians refer to as a “bad Jew”, but what I lack in knowledge and devotion I surely make up for in sheer volume of menorahs in my home. It started out as a burden, having loads of menorah around the apartment, but now I couldn’t imagine getting rid of any of them.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the menorah, let me bring you up to speed. Hanukkah is the celebration of the Maccabees liberating Jerusalem in 165 B.C.E. After liberating the Temple of Jerusalem, the Maccabees wanted to light the perpetual light with seven branches, but it had been destroyed. They built a temporary candelabrum but they only had one flask of oil to fuel it. However, it kept the candles lit for eight days rather than one. Hanukkah, at its most basic, is the celebration of efficient fuels.

In modern times when Jews celebrate Hanukkah (meaning dedication) they light a menorah. The menorah is an eight branched candelabrum; with a ninth spot for the shamash, which is for the candle used to light the other candles. Each night a candle is lit to signify the days that the oil lasted. Hanukkah is actually a minor festival in the Jewish faith, but due to it’s proximity to Christmas it’s been kind of sucked up into a “Hanukkah is the Jewish Christmas” vacuum of commercialism. Not that this lady is complaining. I may be a “bad Jew”, but I still get Hanukkah presents!

Anyway, I really do like menorahs. You can find them in all shapes and sizes. And when the candles are all lit, it is a very beautiful sight. I thought I would share mine with you.

To all of our Jewish readers, Happy Hanukkah!

What We Can Learn From Plants

By Bob Makransky
(This excerpt originally appeared in his book “Magical Living” and was also published in the November 2009 Magical Almanac Ezine. Used here with the author’s permission.)

This young woman knew that she would die in the next few days. But when I talked to her she was cheerful in spite of this knowledge. “I am grateful that fate has hit me so hard,” she told me. “In my former life I was spoiled and did not take spiritual accomplishments seriously.” Pointing through the window of the hut she said, “This tree here is the only friend I have in my loneliness.” Through that window she could see just one branch of a chestnut tree, and on the branch were two blossoms. “I often talk to this tree,” she said to me. I was startled and didn’t quite know how to take her words. Was she delirious? Did she have occasional hallucinations? Anxiously I asked her if the tree replied. “Yes.” What did it say to her? She answered, “It said to me, `I am here – I am here – I am life, eternal life.'”

– Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

What we can learn from plants is how to be joyous. We can’t learn that from other people, usually, because the setup with other people isn’t to be joyous; on the contrary, it is to be fearful, close-hearted, and uptight. Therefore, to learn to be joyous, we have to go to the plants. If we can first learn to be joyous from the plants – who aren’t out to cause us grief – we can then learn to be joyous with our fellow humans.

Of course, the joy we receive from plants doesn’t have all the ego zing of a sexy partner, or a mother’s approval, or the boss’s congratulations; but it’s always there. That’s the nice thing. No matter how horribly our lives are going, or how much rejection other people heap upon us, the plants are always there being happy.

At a nearby airport there is a hedge in front of the entrance for departing passengers, and when the wind blows across the hedge the shrubs wave “Bye bye! Bon Voyage! Feliz Viaje!” to all the passengers. Nobody pays any attention to them, but the plants don’t care. They don’t need people’s acknowledgment and validation to be happy. They’re just there, pouring love out into the world. That’s their job, and the people passing by receive that love whether they’re consciously aware of it or not.

The plants are what keep this from being a hell world. There are no plants in a hell world. The plants in this world are not just the bottom of the food chain; they’re anchoring all of us uptight animals to the earth’s love. They aren’t just the source of all our oxygen; they’re the source of all our joy. They just sit there casting joy out all over the place.

What we can learn from plants is that there is love surrounding us all the time, every minute, had we but the wit to see it, feel it. We are being offered love all the time, but we reject it because we don’t understand that’s what love is. We think love should be zappier, instead of quiet and peaceful and waving in the wind.

The love which plants offer us – the sound of leaves rustling, the smell of pine needles – is all there is. This is not a poetic metaphor: it’s a cold, hard fact of life. If we want / need / desire something to make us happy beyond what the plants offer us, then we’re just out of luck, because that’s all there is. If we can’t find happiness in what’s going on outside our windows right this minute, then we’re just out of luck.

To tune into plants is quite simple. First of all, you must have the conviction that there is indeed something you can learn from plants. You can’t go in there with the attitude that you’re better, smarter, or superior to a plant. We’re all taught that we’re superior to plants, just as we’re taught that we’re superior to other people. And just as we don’t pay much attention to the people we think we’re superior to, we can’t tune into the feelings of plants if we think we’re superior to them. It isn’t hard to overcome this prejudice if we just bear in mind that in the only thing that really matters in life – being joyous unto one’s self – plants have it all over us humans.

Go to the plants every single day, for at least fifteen minutes or half an hour. Go sit out under a tree – perhaps during lunch break. It’s better to make such a space for yourself during the day, as a break from the buzz-buzz, but do it at night if you can’t find time during the day. But go every day, preferably alone, without fail. Make it the most important item on your agenda – that this brief time you take for yourself with the plants is inviolable. If you make such a firm decision – that being joyous is an unalterable priority in your life – then the joy itself will follow naturally.

No specific instructions are needed on where you should go or what you should do there. If there’s some specific tree or woods or meadow that calls your attention, then go there. If not, just go where you feel like going, or where you conveniently can go. Get away from people, if possible, and do what you feel like doing. There is no particular procedure, and you should have no particular expectations. Maybe the plants will start talking to you; if you ask them to nicely, they will. If not, you may never feel anything out of the ordinary except for a subtle feeling of relaxation, a general lightening up of your entire life, as time goes on.

What the plants are offering us is true love, if we take the trouble to avail ourselves of it. They will give it to us whether we feel what they are doing to us or not, whether we are consciously aware of it or not. So don’t worry if you can’t seem to feel with the plants in the beginning. All you have to do is to make a firm commitment to put yourself under their tutelage, and they will find a way to do the rest.

Be assured that the plants are actually acting on you. It takes a while to pick up the thread of what they’re doing to you, but after a while you find they can calm you down and soothe you, no matter what kind of frenzy is going on in your world of people.

In other words, the interactions we have with plants are of a different order than the interactions we have going on with people. We interact with plants on an intuitive level, a feeling level; whereas we interact with other people on a thought form level (of images, expectations, defenses, competition, etc.). Most of us have forgotten how to relate on a feeling level, but the plants themselves will teach us how to do this if we make a serious effort to learn, in a day-by-day fashion.

You can’t expect immediate results, but surely after six or eight months of going to the plants every day you should at least be beginning to understand what the plants are doing to you. When you get to the place where your hiatus with the plants is the high point of your daily routine – the part of your day which you most eagerly anticipate – then you can be said to have arrived: to understand what we can learn from plants.

About the author:
Bob Makransky is a systems analyst, computer programmer and professional astrologer. More of his articles are posted at www.dearbrutus.com. To subscribe to Bob’s free monthly astro-magical ezine, send an email to MagicalAlmanac-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or check it out at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MagicalAlmanac.

Big Buffet Thumbs Up for the Hampshire Police

I hate to write about what essentially is a non-news story, but I was just so delighted when I read the December 4, 2009 Daily Echo article “Horses’ tails chopped off in Kings Somborne” I had to share.

According to Daily Echo there is a bout of “what appears to be ritualistic chopping of horses tails” taking place across Hampshire. Now how one determines that a horse’s tail has been ritualistically removed as opposed to just cut off, I would not know. I am not a law enforcement professional.

What I read next made my WTF radar go off. “One theory being looked into by officers is that it is part of a strange ritual by pagans in the lead up to the Winter Solstice later this month.” As I said, WTF? However I was rewarded by next reading that “last night both lines of inquiry (the other theory being that people were looking for authentic hair for making rocking horses) were ruled out by experts.”

That’s right folks. Instead of continuing on a path of, what I could only believe the technical term is, dumb assedness, the police spoke with Catherine Hosen, a spokeswoman for the Pagan Federation of Wessex. She is quoted in the Daily Echo article as saying, “It’s certainly not any ritual that I’m aware of. Any day in the year you could say it’s close to some pagan ritual because the calendar is pretty full of them. Pagans have a strong respect for anything to do with nature. They would ask permission before removing a branch from a tree, let alone do anything to a horse.” Thank goodness they got that nonsense cleared up.

For completeness, let me share that they ruled out the rocking horse theory by speaking to Chris Ward, who restores and creates rocking horses, and has restored rocking horses for the Royal family. Nice to call in the professionals, thumbs up.

If you would all indulge me for a moment, in honor of the USA Network series “Monk” ending this past Friday, I’d like the opportunity to say, “Here’s what happened.”

What we have is a baffling case of horses’ tails being cut. However, the article also says, “In a separate twist other horses across Hampshire have been discovered by shocked owners with their mane hair plaited.” Maybe I’m talking crazy, but it’s seems to me some sort of childish pranking would be suspected motive number one; certainly before “strange Pagan ritual” and “rocking horse creators”. That said, I am just glad that for once I read a news story like this and found out that instead of continuing to stumble around in ignorance, the police took the 10 minutes to contact experts for their opinions. And then, they listened.

Spicy Italian Ghosts

As Told By Gordie Little

Just a week or so prior to Halloween of 2003, a friend of mine from Clinton County, New York related a story about an Italian kitchen that gave me plenty of food for thought.

The woman’s husband was stationed for two years in the mid-80s at a naval base located on La Maddalena, located between the smaller Italian Island of Sardinia and the French island of Corsica. Photos of the seven-island archipelago reveal an almost idyllic place that is rich in Roman history and spectacular natural beauty. Beside the naval presence, the entire area is a magnet for tourism.

She and her military spouse found a bargain-priced rental house with plenty of room and a wonderful view of the countryside. It had two, spacious bedrooms and a parlor with large, double doors that could be used as a master bedroom and nursery for their little girl. Every window in the well-appointed kitchen was made of stained glass. During the intense tropical storms, my friend learned quickly not to touch the lead with her wedding ring. After being zapped just once, she kept a safe distance.

With their husbands often out to sea, it wasn’t at all uncommon for the wives to spend a few days together. The storms in that region of the world are frightening and they reasoned that there would be comfort in company.

One night, they needed comfort and it had nothing to do with the weather. In all, there were three women in her house. She and her daughter slept in the parlor/bedroom on the right as you enter the building. The other two bedrooms farther down the hall were each occupied by another woman. The bathroom was on the left, located diagonal to the kitchen at the far end of the hallway.

They retired early. My friend was startled awake several hours later by the sound of the big, double doors to her room opening and closing, almost rhythmically. She sat up in bed, watching the long, curved metal door handles move downward as if manipulated by an unseen hand. The doors open and closed in unison.

She was too stunned to scream or move. As she sat there, the doors closed one, last time, followed by audible footsteps away from her room, down the hall, toward the kitchen.

She thought her companions were playing tricks on her. Listening intently, she heard the footsteps stop. Next, she heard the old, refrigerator door open and close several times. Then—nothing.

She crawled under the covers and eventually went to sleep, albeit fitfully until daylight.

The woman in the next bedroom arose shortly after and complained to her hostess about the cats keeping her awake all night. She heard them howling and rummaging around in her room. Entering the bedroom together, the two women found newspapers crumpled into balls all around the bed. The hostess was quick to point out that she had no cats.

The second woman, too, heard footsteps in the hallway, heading toward the kitchen followed by the fridge door opening and closing.

As the women were comparing notes about their fitful night, the third woman came out of the last bedroom, rubbing her eyes and complaining that the others had been playing practical jokes on her for hours.

She accused them of opening and shutting her bedroom door and talking in the kitchen. Her bedroom wall was common with a kitchen wall and she claimed to have heard hushed voices for some time. She couldn’t make out words or sentences, but was a bit frightened and rather frustrated by the sounds, nonetheless.

They were all frightened when learning that none of them had tried to trick the others. They were likewise unable to learn the history of the old house, as their facility with the Italian language left a lot to be desired.

I should point out that in spite of their friendship, none of the women ever came to visit again. Who can blame them?

The ghostly shenanigans continued in that house for some time. My friend recalled that she was awakened by her crying baby late one night and arose to warm a bottle for the little one. As she walked down the hallway, she could see at least two, black silhouettes in the kitchen ahead. The forms were definitely of human shape and size. There was another electrical storm that night and on subsequent nights when she and her husband both saw the kitchen silhouettes.

In the bathroom was a brand new clothes washer. With no warning, it would go haywire, spilling out piles of suds and sending a flood out the bathroom door, diagonally to the end of the hall and into the kitchen. More than once, her husband called in the quintessential “Maytag Repairman,” only to learn that there was nothing wrong with the machine that could be repaired by human hands.

The technician wouldn’t believe their story of the water and suds flowing from the bathroom to the kitchen. “Physically impossible,” he exclaimed in broken English. “The floor doesn’t even slope in that direction.” To prove his point, he placed small rubber balls next to the washing machine and smiled as they all rolled in the opposite direction. They paid him and he left, shaking his head; no doubt wondering what kind of “American nuts” he was dealing with.

This couple’s battle with unwanted spirits ends with a coup de gras. My friend and her husband were embracing in the bathtub together, as couples in love are sometimes wont to do. The translucent, glass doors in front of the tub were closed for privacy, even though there was no one else in the house at the time. Or was there?

Their lovemaking was rudely interrupted by the sound of whistling. They turned their heads and saw a blurry shape glide pass the door.

At that moment a window above the tub exploded from the wall– frame, casing and all–and dropped onto them, scattering shards of glass over their heads and naked bodies.

Fortunately, they were not seriously injured. The man went into the hallway and found nothing untoward. Both front and back house doors remained closed and securely locked.

That moment brought the couple to an epiphany. In the morning, they left the old house, lock, stock and barrel and moved into base housing.

We can only wonder if the present occupants of that Italian house are still plagued by spirited voyeurs and spectral cats.

About the Author:
Gordie Little has spent 36 years in radio; 8 years as a Crime Victims Advocate; and has written 653 weekly newspaper columns for the Press-Republican newspaper in Plattsburgh, NY. He has done more than 700, 90-minute television documentaries in the North Country region of New York State and loves to study all things paranormal and has written “true” ghost stories for many years. His new book, entitled “Ghosts of Clinton County,” was published by North Country Books in Utica, NY and is currently available at many Borders Books, Corner-Stone Bookshop in Plattsburgh, NY, The Crystal Caboose in West Chazy, NY at www.bloatedtoe.com, amazon.com and directly from the publisher.