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Slippers and the Ghost ... by C.L. Beck

A Ghost Story that Makes You Wonder

© C.L. Beck, 2009



We've never been big believers in ghosts—at least, not the kind that floats in the treetops on Halloween night, giving the trick-or-treaters a chill. And when my husband, Russ, and I moved into our hundred-year-old home in Ephraim, UT, we didn't even give a moment's consideration to the fact that it might be haunted. That is, until we rescued a Siamese-mix cat from a Salt Lake City animal shelter.

We named her Slippers because she had little white markings on her paws that resembled … well … slippers. She’d sit looking into space, her sapphire eyes crossed, which made us wonder if she saw everything in double vision. Her unfocused gaze sometimes gave me the whim-whams and even Russ commented on it. (No, not on my whim-whams. On what Slippers was seeing.)

"What do you think she's doing, staring into the distance like that?"

I shrugged my shoulders. "I don’t know. Figuring out her taxes? That’s how I look when I’m doing them. Cross-eyed and spaced out.”

We usually closed the door to the TV room when we watched television and Slippers loved to sleep on the back of the couch. Or on Russ’s head. It wasn't long after we brought her home that we noticed an odd phenomenon. When we sat in the TV room with her, the door would slowly swing open.

The place had its share of creaks and groans, but what old house didn't? Creaks, groans, and a door that opens by itself aren't indicators that a house is haunted. Right?

Or … (scary organ music plays) … are they?

For a short while we dismissed the "haunted house with a ghost" idea, until one evening when the TV room door swung open by itself once again. Slippers had been sitting, cleaning her face, and when the door opened, she stopped and stared at it. Then, her eyes followed something as it moved slowly across the room.

The hairs on Russ’s head stood on end. All two of them. A chill ran down my back, and I gave a shiver. Russ jumped up from the couch, and walked over to see if there was a small moth or insect flying in the air where Slippers stared.

He waved his hands around as if directing traffic. Nothing. Not even so much as a gnat, waiting to make a left turn.

The scene repeated itself for the rest of Slippers' life. Some days the ghost would open the door and Slippers would watch the doorway for a second and then go back to sleep. Other times, the ghost would open the door and the cat would follow it with her eyes as it crossed the room.

Naturally, not wanting to believe in the “creepy haunted house” theory, we always attributed it to the “Slippers is just a weird-o cat” theory.

Slippers lived with us for fourteen years, and we grew accustomed to the ghost who came to visit. Even though we didn't believe in ghosts. And when we laid Slippers to rest in a little spot out on the back half-acre, it never dawned on us that the ghost would no longer haunt the house but would go with Slippers.

To our recollection, however, the TV room door hasn't opened on its own since Slippers passed away. It makes us wonder. Did a ghost come with Slippers when we rescued her from the animal shelter? Or had it lived in the home all along, became emotionally attached to Slippers, and then decided to go with her to the next life?

Then again, maybe a ghost never haunted us at all. Perhaps we simply lived in a creaky, old home with a door that didn't latch right, and owned a spaced-out cat that watched microscopic particles of dust as they floated through the room.

I'll let you decide.

(Scary organ music played by that masked guy in the furnace room comes to a crescendo.)

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What's playing in my head (You're definitely gonna want to click on this link!): Theme from Ghostbusters.
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Today's blog was sponsored by YourLDSNeighborhood.com. Please show your appreciation by returning to and browsing through the Neighborhood and subscribing to the Neighborhood Newsletter. Subscriptions are FREE, and joining is easy. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox.

~CONTEST NEWS~

CONTEST WINNERS : Oz-Girl and Connie Hall! Congrats to Oz-Girl, who won In Good Taste, and Connie Hall, who won The A-MAZE-ing Book of Mormon! Please contact me no later than midnight on Wednesday to claim your prize. Send me an email with your mailing address at cindybeck(dot)author(at)yahoo(dot)com.

If the prizes aren't claimed by Wednesday, new winners will be drawn.

THIS WEEK'S GIVEAWAY:
I'm giving away a 5 ml bottle of Young Living essential oil, lavender fragrance. This is quite a prize, as you can use essential oils in the bath and to freshen the house. In addition, lavender is considered a calming fragrance and is purported to have anti-bacterial properties. Plus, it smells soooooo good!

How to Enter: Leave a comment on this blog entry. Contest ends Friday, Oct 30, 2009 at midnight.

*Winners will be announced no later than Monday, Nov 2, and will have until midnight on Wednesday, Nov. 4, to contact me or ... sorry ... another winner will be chosen. Email me at cindybeck(dot)author(at)yahoo(dot)com.*

(Disclaimer: Please note this contest is not an endorsement of Young Living Farms, and I have not received any compensation to mention their products in my blog. Also, my family members are encouraged, enticed, and eligible to comment on my thoughts, but unfortunately, are ineligible to enter the contests.)

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Fingernails of Terror ... by C.L. Beck

AND TWO FUN BOOK GIVEAWAYS!

© Cindy (C.L.)Beck


Image from Wikimedia Commons.


One Halloween morning, I decided to wear ghoulish fingernails to work. They had an imprinted skull and crossbones that looked awesome.

Life proceeded routinely on the job—until I needed to blow my nose. And then one of the falsies—you’ll remember we’re talking fingernails here—got in the way and I blew the nail right off.

A co-worker laughed so hard she choked on the pumpkin cookie she was eating and left the room. Probably to search for someone with shorter fingernails to give her the Heimlich.

I should have known I was cursed, but never having worn fake nails before, I had no clue. All I knew was I couldn’t blow my nose in public.

Off to the ladies’ room I went. Once inside, I unwrapped a wad of tissue paper, brought it quickly to my face … and stabbed one of the fingernails up my nose, causing a nosebleed.

Back to the office I went, head tilted backwards to stop the bleeding, hands pointed down to avoid poking anything. At my desk, an itch developed on my neck. Forgetting that I wore projectiles on my fingertips, I scratched. A nail flipped off and flew down the back of my shirt—a shirt I couldn’t pull out of my pants because it would pop off the remaining fingernails.

“Help,” I said.

One of the gals came over. She untucked my shirt and shook the bottom of it, trying to get the nail to fall out. I hopped and shimmied like a skeleton hanging from a tree on a windy night, but it refused to budge.

Laughing, she said, “You’d better go to the ladies’ room to get it out.”

Back to the powder room I trudged. In there, I realized I couldn’t take my shirt off without giving myself multiple body piercings. After twisting like a contortionist, and explaining to every woman who came in that I was not on drugs, the thing finally fell out. I’d have tucked my shirt back in, but was afraid another fingernail would fly off and go down my pants.

Back to the office I scuttled, hands pointed downward and shirt tail hanging to my knees. The gal who’d tried to help said, “Don’t you know how you do this?”

“What? Tuck in my shirt while wearing fake nails?”

She handed me a small tube. “No, how to put on false fingernails.”

Super Glue. That’s how you do it? Silly me, I thought you used the adhesive strips that came in the package.

I wasn’t certain if I was being conned and didn’t relish the thought of wearing super-glued orange and black fingernails until I was 90. I decided to glue only the two most troublesome ones. Not wanting to risk droplets on my desktop, I sat and held my hands over my legs. Sticky liquid dripped everywhere, and after almost gluing my knees together, I finally managed to get the two nails on straight.

Everyone went back to work and an hour later, a customer needed help at the counter. I walked over. We completed the transaction and he handed me the money. I reached for it—and stabbed him with my fingernails.

I apologized. I told him I would have removed them but two were super-glued. And they would probably only come loose by some means of mechanical separation that would include a tractor, heavy chains, and the loss of two of my real fingernails.

Thank goodness it was almost time to go home. I walked back to my desk and for the safety of the customers, stayed there until closing.

That night, I managed to get all the fake nails off except for the two that were held fast by glue. The same glue—I now remembered—that was advertised as able to hold a bowling ball to the ceiling.

However, the nails did glow nicely in the dark. Eventually I remembered that alcohol was a solvent and managed to remove them before Christmas.

I’ve learned my lesson. No more fake fingernails for me. This year as part of my costume, I’m going to try false eyelashes instead … nothing could possibly go wrong with them.

What's playing in my head: The Monster Mash by Bobby "Boris" Pickett.

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~CONTEST NEWS~

CONTEST WINNER (last week) : Danyelle Ferguson! Congrats, Danyelle, you've won an autographed copy of A Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors! (Hope your friend is doing okay, too.)


THIS WEEK'S CONTEST:
I'm giving away two really fun, autographed books! I love both of them and wish I had my own copies, but maybe Santa will bring them for Christmas. (Are you reading this, Santa? :)


1. In Good Taste, by Nancy J. Miles is a family history cookbook with yummy recipes. And here's the really cool part ... Nancy gives suggestions for creating your own family history cookbook. What a great idea, huh? Thanks go to Nancy for donating the book.

If you don't win, you can always order In Good Taste at Amazon.com (click here). You can also visit Nancy at (click here) www.NancyMilesInGoodTaste.com.
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2. The A-MAZE-ing Book of Mormon by Arie Van DeGraaf is a super fun children's activity book. The illustrations for the mazes correspond to short stories from the Book of Mormon. If it hadn't been for the fact that I told Arie I'd announce his book as a giveaway, I'd have given the book to my grandkids. I know they'd love it. Thanks go to Arie for donating the book.

If you don't win, you can always order The A-MAZE-ing Book of Mormon at DeseretBook.com (click here) . You can visit Arie at Mormon Cartoonist (click here).

How to Enter:
Leave a comment on this blog stating which book you'd like to win. Contest ends Friday, Oct 23, 2009 at midnight.

*Winners will be announced on my blog the upcoming Monday, Oct 26, and will have 48 hours to contact me or ... sorry ... but another winner will be chosen. Email me at cindybeck(dot)author(at)yahoo(dot)com.

(My family members are encouraged, enticed, and eligible to comment on my thoughts, but unfortunately, are ineligible to enter the contests.)

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Over the Top Award ... presented to Cindy Beck by Karlene Browning



A big, big thank you to Karlene Browning at InkSplasher for presenting the "Over the Top" award to me. Karlene is a warm, witty woman and I love to visit her blog. You will, too, so stop over at InkSplasher and read what she has to say!

The award's rules state that I need to pass it along to five other bloggers and then answer a multitude of questions. So, here are the five bloggers to whom I'm passing the torch:

Shirley Bahlmann at Shirley Bahlmann Biz (fun blog)
Russ Beck at On the Couch(mental health blog)
Taffy at Taffy's Candy(fun blog)
Kim at Scribbled Scraps (scrapbooking and book reviews)
Nichole Giles at LDS Humor (humor blog)

And because I'm a little short on time today, I'll list the questions below, but will answer them in a future blog entry. (How's that for keeping you in suspense?:)

• Where is your cell phone?
• Your hair?
• Your mother?
• Your father?
• Your favorite food?
• Your dream last night?
• Your favorite drink?
• Your dream/goal?
• What room are you in?
• Your hobby?
• Your fear?
• Where do you want to be in 6 years?
• Where were you last night?
• Something you aren't?
• Muffins
• Wish list item?
• Where did you grow up?
• Last thing you did?
• What are you wearing?
• Your TV?
• Your pets?
• Your friends?
• Your life?
• Your mood?
• Missing someone?
• Vehicle?
• Something you're not wearing? Shoes.
• Your favorite store?
• Your favorite color?
• When was the last time you laughed?
• Last time you cried?
• Your best friend?
• One place that I go over and over?
• One person who emails me regularly?
• Favorite place to eat?

(If you're one of the bloggers that I nominated for this award, and you don't want to answer a multitude of questions, feel free to make adjustments and answer as many or as few as you like.)

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The Bodies Are in the Basement

Posted by my alter ego—that more serious, but still sometimes slightly humorous writer—Cindy Beck.


Photo by Cesar Tort, Wikimedia Commons


Kat Nilsson wrote the words, “I was watching CSI Miami,” in big loopy letters on the legal pad in her lap. Then, since she had writer’s block, she doodled in the loops. After a few minutes of wasted time, Kat scratched her head with the point of her yellow pencil and sighed.

“No. That’s not right. I can’t start a novel out that way. I hate CSI. Can’t stand those women with whitened teeth, brightened faces, and over-tightened blouses.” Kat erased the words with a vengeance, as if erasing the facial features of the botoxed movie stars.

She started again. “Stacy heard a knock at the door, and just as she went to answer—”

As Kat wrote the words, a deep thump, thump, thump reverberated through the house. With a sigh big enough to sink a battleship, Kat threw the pencil into a mug of assorted pens and walked to the front room to see who was knocking.

The wind whistled as she opened the heavy, wooden door, and a chill ran between her shoulder blades. No one stood there. Not a living soul. Attached to the door by a feathered dart was an off-white sheet of paper, with dark, thick handwriting.

It read:
Kat,
If you find the dog, call me.
P.S: The bodies are in the basement.


“The basement?” she whispered. Kat shuddered and tugged her bedraggled University of Utah sweatshirt tight around her body. There was a basement in her house. An old basement with a cold, concrete floor—a room she never, ever, ever went into because … well … anyone who writes murder mysteries knows that something horrifying always happens in the basement.

Scanning the bottom of the note and then turning the paper over, Kat looked for a clue as to who wrote it. No signature, not even a grimy thumbprint to give a hint.

That’s when she heard it—a thin, high-pitched, forlorn howl from under the house. For one illogical second her heart rocketed with fear and she thought about screaming and running to the neighbors. But then, her writer’s curiosity kicked in. Who left the note and why did they put a dog in the basement? How did they know about the basement? Who, what, when, where, how and why?

She counted friends on her fingers. Josi? No, she didn’t own a dog. Nichole? Yes, Nichole was a jokester all right, but also allergic to anything with fur, including.…

Like a good Catholic girl, Kat crossed herself for luck. She might be allergic to aspen and eucalyptus, but at least she wasn’t allergic to mink, like Nichole.

Bulldog, Rex, or Nipsey? Goodness knows their names were doggy enough, but no, they were all too tenderhearted to shove a dog in a basement in order to scare a writer wordless.

It had to be a practical joke, pulled by the neighbor-kid-from-hell, who was always throwing tomatoes at her car when he thought she wasn’t looking. Yup, that had to be it. When she got the dog out of there, she was going to have a long talk with that boy’s parents.

Hitching up her sweatpants, she closed the door behind her and walked around the redwood-sided house to the back yard. Dried leaves crunched under her Big Bird slippers and she realized that they might be a lucky charm when writing, but they wouldn’t do much to protect her against earwigs, black widow spiders, and uggg … stink bugs … that might be in the basement. But it was too late now; her feet took her down the concrete steps as if they had a mind of their own.

Ssshhh. What was that?

A rustling noise, like a lady’s crisp, crinoline underskirt, drifted to Kat's ears. And then, silence. Certain that she’d psyched herself out, Kat took a deep breath and with one hand on the rust-encrusted doorknob, listened again.

Not a sound.

No dog howling, no skirts rustling.

Nothing.

Feeling weak in the knees, and even weaker in the head, she turned the knob and pushed the door. Its hinges squeaked. Dang. She hadn’t done it hard enough, and now she’d have to step inside, in that dark, damp, hole-in-the-ground and push the door all the way open with her shoulder. Why hadn’t she thought to bring a flashlight?

Kat stepped over the doorjamb and shoved. The door slowly inched back, but it was almost as if light feared entering the room. Darkness reigned, and the tiny shaft of brightness that had the courage to shine against the door slowly dimmed as clouds obscured the sun.

That’s when she heard it—an otherworldly moan. And she could make out two bodies, lying on the floor, legs bent at sharp angles, tongues hanging out. A shriek caught in her throat. She wanted to whirl and run but her legs refused to obey.

The shapes unkinked their legs, rose up in front of her, and Kat screamed—a wordless, soundless scream.

"Surprise!" shouted the two bodies as they flicked on flashlights. Hoots of laughter and a chorus of happy birthdays erupted from around the room. They were all there, Josi, Nichole, Bulldog, Rex and Nipsey. And Kat wanted to kill every one of them.

If it wasn’t for Bulldog handing her a puppy that kissed her cheek and snuggled against her shoulder, she would have done it. But then, how mad could she really be, when they’d braved the basement in order to throw a surprise party?

“The puppy’s your present from all of us,” Bulldog said. “Any author who writes about murder needs a dog to curl up with and to protect her from the gaboogities at night.”

The puppy nuzzled Kat's neck, and her heart rate slowly returned to normal. Josi leaned over and stroked the dog’s sleek fur. “What are you going to call her?”

Kat’s eyes twinkled, “After the scare you've all given me, I'm going to name her Heart Attack."

And with that, the puppy pointed her nose in the air and gave a howl of agreement.


What's playing in my head (be sure to click on the link, 'cuz it's cute): The Puppy Song by Harry Nilsson (no relation to the character in this story).

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CONTEST WINNERS (last week)


Sande! Congrats, Sande, you've won an autographed copy of Aunt Rae's Remedies. Please send me your mailing address in an email: cindybeck(dot)author(at)yahoo(dot)com.


CONTEST (this week) In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness

Prize: Autographed copy of Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors.

Description from Cup of Comfort Website: If stories are medicine, then this collection will help keep hopes up and spirits alive on the road to recovery. Readers will applaud the bravery of 50 exceptional survivors as they tell their unique experiences with breast cancer. Every breast cancer survivor has a different story, but they all have one thing in common: courage. From dealing with diagnosis to undergoing chemotherapy, facing hair loss and possibly the loss of a breast, these fearless women undergo more than anyone ever should. These stories pay tribute to these women and their battles, and celebrate their victories. In this stunning new collection, readers will find compelling, inspiring, and uplifting personal essays about the experiences and emotions of living with—and after—breast cancer. $.50 of every copy sold will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure®

Cindy's Note: Included in the book is "Dancing in the Moonlight." Written by me, it's the heartwarming story about me and my mom during her diagnosis and surgery for breast cancer.

How to Win: Leave a comment on this blog entry by midnight Friday, Oct 16, 2009. It's as simple as that! If you don't have anyone to give it to who is a breast cancer survivor (that's assuming you win), let me know that in your comments and I'll donate the book to a local library instead. And you'll have done your part for breast cancer!

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Uncle Earl and Aunt Earline ... and Contest Info!

October is one of my favorite months. Why? Because it not only contains Halloween, but also my birthday. Wahoo, birthday cake and ice cream one minute, and Halloween candy the next.

In honor of that, I thought I'd post an original (as in, "written by me") story every Monday in October. And just for the fun of it, I'll leave it up to you to figure out which ones might have a grain of truth and which ones are spun from the cobwebby recesses of my mind.

So, here without further adieu (or is that spelled "a-doo"?) is the first story ...

Uncle Earl and Aunt Earline
© CL Beck, 2009



“This here porch is a solid as a hickory nut shell,” Pappy said as he leaned against the porch rail. It broke with a crack, flinging him into the mud. His jug of moonshine flew towards the ol’ pine tree and nestled into the deep, green branches. It startled Mammy so much that she squealed. It reminded me of what a pig might do what’s just heard her sister’s been turned into a hunderd pounds of breakfast sausage.

And then the Internal Revnoovers showed up.

Lucky for us, Pappy had shut the still down a couple days before, so there warn't no way for them to find it. And the only jug of white lightening on the place was up in that big Georgia pine. I suppose it could be that in lack of thet thar evidence, the Revnoovers decided not to follow through. Or it could be Mammy’s double-barreled shotgun staring ‘em in the face that persuaded ‘em.

Ya see, that’s why the front porch is my favo-rite-ist place in the whole wide world. Ever thing that’s interesting happens out on the thet front porch.

And ever thing that’s nice happens on thet porch, too. Like getting my first kiss, in the dark, from Dixie Lou.

She said, “I’ll give ya a kiss, if’n you promise not to tell.”

I answered, “Cross my heart, hope to die, may the Revnoovers stick a needle in my eye.” I puckered up and she gave me a kiss that kinda made my toes tingle. I didn’t tell a soul, and two days later my best friends, Beau and Billy, told me Dixie Lou had been kissing on ever boy in Soggy Hollow. It didn’t make no never mind to me. I knew she loved me best. After all, she is my cousin.

But I gotta say that the most excitin’ time was when we were sitting out thar at sunset, listening to Uncle Earl singing and playing the banjo. He stopped smack-dab in the middle of singing “Picking up paw-paws,” and said, “I don’t feel like a whole man, no how anymore, and never did, so I’m gonna start being a woman.”

Mammy choked and liked to swallered her corncob pipe. Uncle Earl was her favorite brother. I guessed if he went through with it, that would make him her favorite sister. And my Aunt Earline.

A feller’s just gotta love the front porch. Like I said, ever thing that’s interesting or exciting happens thar.


What's playing in my head: Dueling Banjos by Steve Martin and the Muppets.

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CONTEST WINNERS (last week)

Rachelle Christensen (won Writing the Great American Romance Novel)
Carol L (won It's Just My Nature)

CONTEST (this week)
Prize: Autographed copy of Aunt Rae's Remedies.
Description: This is a fun book of home remedies and here's a blurb from the book: "Meet Aunt Rae--a modern combination of Granny Clampett and Martha Stewart. In this collection of home remedies and household hints, Aunt Rae will keep you laughing as you learn new ways to keep a cleaner house, become self-sufficient and be a healthier person ... Filled with true-life happenings and humorous stories, Aunt Rae's Remedies is a fun and useful book that will make your life easier."
How to Win: Leave a comment on this blog entry by midnight Friday, Oct 9, 2009. It's as simple as pie! (By the way, I get a laugh out of this book every time I read it, and it really does have some helpful home remedies.)

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Just Having Fun ... A Halloween PhotoCard

By C.L. Beck

It's rainy and dreary out. What's a body to do? I could always go eat cookies, but since that's not good for the waistline (yes, believe it or not, I once had a waistline), I decided to go play at my Zazzle store.

My husband, Russ, took this shot of a black cat with a pumpkin body and it made a dang cute Halloween photocard! (In my opinion :)

I thought I'd share it with you because ... well ... Halloween is coming. And I'm tickled with the card because it's so cute. Even Corky Porky Pie, the dog, thinks so.

Not to turn this into an advertisement, but if you want to order a few, they're a really good buy at 10 for $10.00, with envelopes included. That's a dollar apiece and you can't beat that price in a recession, huh?

I'm going back out now to make matching postage. How cool is that?

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