Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Things that go bump in the night... part two...

When I was a kid, my parents had a collection of coffee table books from Reader's Digest and National Geographic and Time Life. There were books about world history, and the solar system, and national parks... all with plenty of pictures to browse through, in case the wordy paragraphs got too boring. Every now and then I would pull one of these hefty tomes off the bookshelf and curl up on the couch (or just sit on the floor) and flip through pages until something caught my eye.

The books about World War II and the ocean and the universe were all interesting... but my FAVORITE book was this one:

In fact, even though I found this random picture on the internet, this could BE our old book. I mean, I'm pretty sure the cover on ours was just as creased and well-worn as this one...

Anyway... yes, the Mysteries of the Unexplained. This book was filled with supposed "true" tales of UFO encounters, people with psychic abilities, monster sightings, and ghost stories. And I say this was my favorite of all the coffee table books, but really, I had more of a love/hate relationship with it. I mean, sure -- in the light of day, when the sun was shining and the birds were singing, it was fun to sit on the floor near the bookshelf and read ghost stories. But as soon as darkness began creeping in, and the entire world, it seemed, fell silent, memories of what I'd read earlier in the day would pop into my head... and now, they'd seem so much scarier than they'd seemed when the sun was cheerily shining. I'd climb into bed, willing myself to forget about that famous picture of the "ghost" on the stairs:

Which, in reality, is probably one picture superimposed over another... but who needs reality when you're trying to fall asleep in your dark, quiet house? And I'd wonder... can ghosts get through the covers on my bed? Am I safe if I just hide under here? But no matter how many times I'd scare myself with this book, I'd always eventually go back and read more... which inevitably resulted in another night of hiding under my ghost-repelling blankets.

Now, of course, I'm older and wiser and no longer worry about things like ghosts or the Jersey Devil or alien abduction. That's not to say that I'm not unsettled when the springs in my window explode in the middle of the night, or when the light in the ceiling fan in my bedroom turns itself on at random times. But at least these things have logical explanations. At least I am reasonably certain that my condo isn't REALLY haunted by the ghost of someone who likes to read in the middle of the night.

And then something like THIS has to go and happen: Rick was watching TV the other night, while I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom. I heard a sing-songy warbling coming from the living room, and assumed it was something in the show on TV. Suddenly I heard Rick call my name -- in a tentative, I-have-a-weird-question-to-ask sort of way -- so I went out to the living room, where the TV was now muted and Rick was searching the room for an unknown object.

"Uh, do we have something in this room that plays music??" he asked.

I thought about it for a few seconds, but couldn't think of anything specific.

"I don't think so... why?"

"Because something was just playing music over by the bookshelf."

That's when we both remembered that we DO have a music box sitting on a shelf in the living room. A music box that neither of us has TOUCHED in I-don't-even-know-how-long. Maybe not since we moved in to this place. I mean, I run a dust rag over it now and then, but haven't actually wound it up and played the music in YEARS.

I looked at Rick. "Wait, you're saying that noise DIDN'T come from the TV??"

"No -- when I muted the TV, it kept playing for a few seconds."

Whaaaaaaaaaat? What what what what what???

So a music box that hadn't been played in years suddenly decided to just play itself?

In the lexicon of "things that are creepy," music boxes that play for no reason are SERIOUSLY CREEPY. 

Rick's theory is that since he was watching some kind of action movie with lots of explosions and "shake the walls" bass sounds, the vibrations shook something loose in the music box and caused it to rattle off a few notes. I suppose that seems reasonable.

But you'd better believe that I hid under my ghost-repelling duvet that night...


Friday, January 23, 2015

Some Friday randomness...

Happy Friday everyone! I was deleting old pictures off my camera earlier, and found this one of Riff demonstrating the art of relaxation (I may or may not have posted it before -- I can't remember):

Speaking of Riff... he was drinking water from the faucet this morning, as he always does -- with his head directly under the running water. Meanwhile, I was drying my hair and had a cup of coffee on the counter next to the sink. Now, even though Riff seems to have no qualms about sticking his head into the path of oncoming water, as soon as he's finished drinking he shakes himself off like a dog coming in from the rain. Suffice it to say, my coffee was suddenly inundated with droplets of cat water. I drank it anyway. I can't decide whether this is indicative of my love for my cat, or my love for coffee...

So I recently tried (after years of seeing commercials for them) Breathe Right strips -- you know, those adhesive strips you wear on your nose to keep your airway clear while you're sleeping? Oh my gosh... how did I not try these things sooner?? I've always had allergy issues anyway, but when I started using my night guard a few months ago, I was finding myself really uncomfortable by morning... my throat would be sore from breathing through my mouth half the night, and I couldn't wait to ditch the night guard. And even though sticking an adhesive strip on your nose looks kinda silly, it helps SO MUCH that I'm not sure I can ever sleep without one again. So now my nightly ritual is something like this: I take out my contacts and put my glasses on, Rick and I watch a couple episodes of Star Trek, I put my night guard in, stick a Breathe Right strip on my nose, and voila -- I am the nerdiest nerd who ever nerded.

My poor treadmill was out of commission for a few weeks, after it developed the disconcerting habit of randomly shutting itself down and starting back up again. Fortunately, the few times this happened I had just started my workout and was still walking pretty slowly, so I was able to recover my balance. I don't know what would've happened if I'd been jogging at a good clip when the treadmill suddenly turned itself off... I probably would've keeled over onto the belt or launched headfirst into the console. I have a Landice, which comes with a lifetime warranty -- so we never have to pay for parts, just labor (although the labor charge isn't exactly cheap, either). The repair guy who came out concluded that not only was the belt worn down, but the wax underneath that prevents friction was worn down as well -- so the treadmill was having to work harder to move the belt, and ended up using too much power. And apparently when the treadmill realizes that it's using too much power, it shuts itself off... with no regard whatsoever for the human who is walking upon it. But now it has a new belt, a new coat of wax, and an overall tune-up -- so far, so good. Although I'm still a bit tentative when I'm using it...

That's about all I've got today... I hope everyone has some interesting weekend plans. My exciting plans consist of buying paper towels at Home Depot... I think that's about it. :) Although tonight we're heading up north to hang out with Connor and Molly (and also that other guy... whatshisface... Edgar? Earl?), so that will be the highlight of my week!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Remember me?

Hey guys! I know, I know... it's been FOREVER since I posted. I took a nice, long, blogger break -- you know, took up skydiving, learned to speak Russian, mastered the art of origami (okay, it's possible that none of those things are true).

But I have rather missed blathering on about nothing in particular, so I thought perhaps a blog resurrection was in order. And to kick off my brand-new-yet-super-old blog, I'll begin with the story of the Thing That Went Bump in the Night:

Actually, "bump" is not the correct word. Rick and I were sound asleep at around 2 in the morning last night, when we were both jolted awake by something extremely loud. In my sound-asleep-two-seconds-earlier-and-now-startlingly-alert state, I was convinced that someone had thrown a rock at one of our windows. I half-expected cold air to come rushing into the bedroom at any moment, even though logically, it would take someone with a REALLY good arm to launch a rock at one of our third-story (which is really more like fourth-story, with the high ceilings in our building) windows and manage to break one. Still, I couldn't imagine what else it could be...

Rick, however, was convinced that a large picture had fallen off the wall in the living room and crashed to the floor. Since there didn't seem to be any freezing air blowing into the condo, I decided this was the more likely (and much less frightening) scenario. We both finally gained enough composure to tentatively venture out into the living room, flipping on light switches and double-checking window panes in the process.

And when we turned the corner from the bedroom to the living room, we found... nothing. Absolutely NOTHING amiss or out of place. The pictures that had been hanging on the walls when we'd gone to bed were still on the walls... the appliances on the kitchen counter were present and accounted for... the knickknacks on our shelves were in their usual places collecting their usual dust... and every window was intact. From the looks of things, there was absolutely NO explanation for the sudden loud noise that had shocked us from slumber (and caused both the cats to search the condo with alarmed-looking wide eyes).

Needless to say, it took me about two hours to fall back to sleep... and in the morning, Rick and I described dreams that we'd both had about discovering the source of the noise (mine, inexplicably, included Worf from Star Trek...). In the light of day, I walked around to all the windows again, still convinced that the sound had come from one of the windows near the bedroom. I raised the blinds by Piva's favorite cat tree as I do every morning, and there on the windowsill was a small piece of broken plastic. I was certain it hadn't been there the day before -- could this be a clue to what had happened? Or did Piva just find a random piece of plastic on the floor and haul it up to the windowsill?

I usually only raise the blinds about halfway, but now I pulled the cord to reveal the entire window. And there in the track on the side of the window frame were two coiled springs, obviously in a place they weren't meant to be. In fact, none of the other windows in the condo have springs in that track. I called Rick over to the window, and, using our amazing, Sherlock-Holmes-like powers of deduction, we pieced together what had happened. In the middle of the night (of COURSE it had to be in the middle of the night -- it couldn't have happened at 2 in the afternoon? Or when we were out of the house??) the springs that aid in opening and closing the window, and are usually housed in the lower frame, suddenly broke and popped (or, rather, I'm guessing, violently sprung) through that little plastic piece that ended up on the windowsill. Which resulted in a sound like a rock hitting the window, or a picture frame falling off the wall.

And while I'm assuming we won't be able to open that window anytime soon (although this is January in Chicago -- why would we want to? :)), at least we finally figured out where the sound came from.

Otherwise, our best guess was going to be a poltergeist...