“I do not understand superstitious people,” declared Carole as she shuffled paperwork on the desk beside mine.

This topic had emerged unbidden from her mind and I looked up from my keyboard. “What do you mean?

Story_square“I am amazed at people who trust in horse shoes or are worried about walking under ladders,” she said. “It makes no sense at all.”

“So you’re not superstitious?”

She gave a quick snort. “Of course not. Those things are ridiculous. Think about it. A broken mirror gets you seven years of bad luck. A black cat walks across your path and you’ve got more bad luck. Why not just change paths when you see it? Huh? How about that?”

“Yeah, I suppose so.” I really wanted to get back to work.

“Well, it’s totally idiotic,” she said. “All of it. Think about those athletes who don’t change their socks while they are winning. Or scared to death for the whole day on Friday the thirteenth. Did you know some people say that sleeping on a table is bad luck. Crazy, huh?”

“Sleeping on a table might cause a sore back, I suppose” I turned my eyes back to my screen. I had work to do.

“What?” she said, leaning across her desk. “I suppose you’re superstitious.”

“No. I don’t pay any attention to it.” I placed my fingers on the keyboard, ready to begin again.

“Me, either. Except salt, of course.”

“Salt?” She had my attention now. “What about salt?” I said.

“You know. When you spill salt, you have to throw it over your shoulder. You know.”

Well, I didn’t know. But I felt so much better knowing that she wasn’t superstitious.


Stairway surprise

This ugly house had all sorts of surprises. The good ones included finding hardwood floors under the tattered carpet. The bad ones included finding the ceiling collapsed on the floor in the basement bathroom.

Ugly houses are often that way, with surprises at every turn.

Story_squareWhere the paint was chipped, we found pea green underneath. Who’d paint their living room that color? I mean all the walls, not just an accent wall.

As a contrast, the hallway was painted Pepto-Bismol pink.


You get the idea.

The dining room had a small storage door about four feet above the floor which I assumed was a coat closet. I know you’re ahead of me on this one so you already know it wasn’t a coat closet.

Inside was a small chamber with three stairs starting at the front and rising to the back, neatly wrapped in fresh carpet like a furry Christmas gift. No ribbon.

The problem was the stairs filled the compartment, ending at the top.

I’ve seen stairs that were steeper than climbing a 14,000’ mountain. I’ve seen stairs where the paint had long worn away by many trudging feet. I’ve seen stairs that wound around a pole from basement to loft.

But I had never before seen this: the stairway to nowhere.

Almost heaven

We were looking for a church home. Our five-year-old son was looking for heaven.Which he found at the church we visited.

It had many children to play with plus a huge box of donuts sitting on a table, free for the taking. This was his definition of heaven.

Story_squareWhen the service began, he joined us but, before the second song, he headed to the back. His father followed and found him in the bathroom, heaving his breakfast.

“Are you OK?” my husband asked.

He was. He washed his face, straightened his shoulders, and nodded.

“What happened? Are you sick?”

Our son shook his head. “No, I ate too many donuts.”

“How many did you eat?”


His father laughed. “Wow.” And then he seized the parenting moment.  “So did you learn anything from this little episode?”

“Yep,” he said. “Stop at six.”

About that treasure

Buying an old house is a little like the first vacation after you get married: you’re not really sure what you’ll discover there.

But that hasn’t slowed my husband and me. I am referring to buying old houses. Our first vacation is so far behind us that we can actually laugh about all those expectations.

Story_squareBecause my husband is a construction genius, we like the ugly houses that we can either renovate and flip or remodel and rent out.

We bought the house on Beaver Avenue through an eviction/foreclosure. The contents of the house had been hauled out to the garage with the door left open. The idea was that people could rummage through the stuff and take what they wanted.

In the six months before the house was sold to us, nobody went through the stuff. Not only do we live in a small town, we live in a pretty honest small town.

That meant that the garage contents were ours. Yippee. If the previous tenants didn’t want them and the neighbors wouldn’t loot them, we knew we’d find  some real treasures.

So we began the sorting process.

Would you believe we found a tattered wedding album and an x-ray among the treasures?

It was like an archeological dig but without the little brushes and tomb curses. As the slave labor (OK, they were our kids but that’s what they called themselves) dug their way through the pile, they picked up a scent.

“Maybe it’s a body,” said the boy. He was always good for a new explosion or creative bloodshed.

His sister wasn’t intimidated. “Hope it’s on your side,” she said.

They tossed aside more trash and dug deeper into the garage. The smell morphed into a definite stink.

When it crossed over from stink to stench, they bailed.

That’s what mothers are for, right?

So I donned mask and gloves for the final exploration. Some yo-yo (and I’m being really nice here) had pulled a frozen turkey out of the freezer at the eviction, wrapped it in a plastic bag, and left it in a trash can at the back of the garage. For six months.

Buying an old house isn’t a vacation after all.  It might be about tomb curses, though.