At least it wasn’t a sneeze

Do you believe in ghosts? That is the weirdest dateline I’ve seen for a story in a while, particularly since it isn’t specific, and the story is hardly comprehensive. Also it is … lacking. It refers to video and audio and all manner of things the ghost hunters — believers and skeptics alike — use to search for ghosts. But it doesn’t share any of them.

I suppose my first personal ghost story — that didn’t have to do with the great Kathryn Tucker Windam’s 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey which were amazing reads that haunted every child that cracked the spine of the text — were stories from some family member. It seems they had friends who lived in a civil war officer’s home. They’d go over to play cards and every so often the spirit, according to their story, wanted a little recognition. So he’d make noise upstairs somewhere. They’d acknowledge him aloud and all would be well.

We had a neighbor once who said her house was haunted, but that was the sort of thing that kids would tell to other kids. I probably said our house was haunted too. She said that her ghost would open doors and things. So one day we opened every cabinet and drawer in her kitchen. Before she went into the kitchen and noticed it her dad came home. He was not pleased.

My high school, which was a 1930s WPA project, had a restroom light that liked to be on. No one could explain that. The school doubled as something of a community center, so it never shut down promptly at 3 p.m., which meant someone had to always be on hand. This poor math teacher somehow managed to have that job and that light drove him crazy. (It was a short trip.) So we decided there was a ghost in the boys restroom in the junior high wing.

Every now and then we’d try to trick people into thinking there were floating orbs in an old cemetery in our neighborhood. This was before, as far as I know, we knew that people talked about floating orbs, so at least we had good details. I noticed years later there was a Revolutionary War veteran buried there, which is still one of my favorite things about the place:


A geneaology site says about John Lawley, who moved there in the 18-teens:

The land was productive and required but little labor to produce the necessaries of life. The woods were a hunters paradise a paradise abounding in deer, turkey, with some panther and bear. The winters were not so cold then as now. Cattle and horses were raised in the woods and afforded all the butter beef and milk that was needed. Not with- the glowing description given to prospective settlers, these early men and women and children knew the meaning of hard work and sacrifice, but knew, too, the delight of living in a new land.

He lived as a royal subject and then as an American under Washington through Andrew Jackson. He died an old man, in 1832. But he’s probably not a ghost.

We have a lot of those tales in the South, which is the foundation of the story initially linked above. There’s supposed to be a ghost of a soldier in the chapel at Auburn. The Roundhouse at the University of Alabama has a similar story. Here’s a Georgia one that landed in my inbox today, in fact, with supposed photographic proof. In Savannah the dead are an industry unto themselves, and the ghost tours are an important tourist activity:

I’ve never seen any ghosts. But I have been to a few battlefields.

Stuff from Twitter: because why not?

I have this feeling that it all get worse before it gets better.

I looked at the drought monitor today and saw something unusual:


That chart is updated weekly. Last week the two southernmost counties, Mobile and Baldwin, still had a good deal of yellow covering them. And then it rained about eight inches in one night down there. This is the first time since 2010 that no county in the state has not reported dry or drought conditions.

Pretty tough times in the plains states, though. James Lileks, last week on the drought breaking in Minnesota:

well, well, what do you know: the drought lifts. The dryness of the last few years is forgotten as the mean reasserts itself over the long run of the decade, which itself will be a wink, a blip, an inhalation to the next decades exhalation, just as the universe itself is a bang at the start and a great collapse at the end, like two flaps of a heart valve. Assuming there’s enough matter to cause the universe to contract, that is. I hope so. I hate the idea that it begins with a great gust of matter, spreads and cools and ends in silence. Because that would make the universe, in essence, a sneeze.

Swam 1,200 meters today. When I went down the pool to start that last lap The Yankee — who is a champion swimmer, mind you — said “If you do 16 it’ll be a mile.”

Don’t tell me that.

But I did get in three-quarters of a mile. And then I rode 15 miles on my bicycle, just because it was a longer way home.

I do not know what is happening.

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