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#GhostStory Short by G G Collins

When Things Go Bump in Daylight

by G G Collins     (Copyright 2018)     

Based on a true story. There are so many things we don’t understand and can’t explain.

Rachel’s eyes were puffy; her face carried red splotches. Last night’s news that her friend had died was difficult to understand in someone so young. Although expected, the finality of it was awful. When she heard Tanya’s husband’s voice she braced for the worst. Tanya was gone.

Now, alone in her bathroom she started as something flew through the air, straight across the room, hit the wall of tile and crashed into her bathtub. She witnessed it all within her peripheral vision.

“What the hell?” Rachel leaned over the tub and saw her small plastic travel clock lying in the tub. Except for the battery cover, it was intact.

“Weird,” she said to an empty room. “That clock has been sitting on that shelf since I moved into this house.” She picked it up, refastened the cover and replaced it on the shelf. It still worked.

“Creepy.” Rachel shook her shoulders to push away the unsettled feeling she had. She examined the clock to be certain it was secure and the shelf itself was level. “Check and check.”

Her thoughts returned to Tanya. Their last visit together was six years ago for lunch and a movie. They had a great time, lots of laughter, sharing their lives. When it came time to part, Tanya said, “I love you and I want you to know that’s forever.” Tanya had always been demonstrative. It was one of her many endearing qualities, but this seemed a bit more than usual. Rachel noticed it, but didn’t ask her why she had added the “forever.”

And then, Tanya vanished.

There were no phone calls, emails, lunch dates. No contact at all. Rachel had been hurt as she tried again and again to reach out to her. Finally, she gave up. Whatever was going on must be bad. It wasn’t like Tanya. It was hard, but Tanya had gone radio silent, apparently for good.

When Thanksgiving rolled around, Rachel sent her an email wishing her a good holiday. The response was from someone else who said he was using the address now and wished her a Happy Thanksgiving. Well, that was it. Nothing more she could do. Yet she refused to remove Tanya’s email address from her computer; the icon of her riding on the bay in dressage competition.

After three long years of questions, she received a telephone call. It was Tanya.

“Are you okay?” Rachel asked not knowing if she felt relieved or exasperated with her friend.

“Yes and no,” was the reply.

“I’m sorry I’ve been out of touch, but I’ve decided to call my friends and tell them what’s going on.”

“What is going on Tanya?” Rachel asked. There was more to this call than catching up.

“I have a form of early-onset dementia,” she said. Rachel caught her breath, her stomach knotted and she went cold all over. While she tried to comprehend the enormity and meaning of the news, Tanya continued. “It’s called frontaltemporal dementia. It’s fairly rare, but somehow it got me.”

Rachel stumbled around trying to find something helpful to say, but was so stunned that she barely got out, “I’m so sorry. Now I understand why you disappeared. You needed time to cope. Is there treatment?” She asked hopefully.

The next few minutes were a blur, but Rachel began to realize what her friend was up against. And that eventually, she would lose Tanya forever.

Rachel stood and looked out the window at her courtyard. In Santa Fe houses were adobe and came in many shades of brown. The wall around her backyard was also brown and enclosed her terrace and herb bed. Here she had met monsters from the paranormal realm and spirit helpers who both protected her and helped in other ways. Now her friend faced a monster of another kind and Rachel couldn’t help her.

Her thoughts raced back to their years of equestrian competition. The two girls met over saddle leather, literally introduced themselves while cleaning tack. They spent hours every day in the practice ring sharpening their riding skills. Tanya was queen of the dressage arena. She and her beautiful bay were hard to beat. Rachel succeeded only once, but she thrived in the cross-country jumping. The no-holds-barred eventing was her domain. Few could outrun her while astride her grey gelding.

“I may retain my memory with this type of dementia,” Tanya continued. “But I’ll likely become someone you and I don’t know, and probably won’t like.” There was sadness in her words, but she was making an effort to stay optimistic as she always did. “It affects the frontal lobe where impulse control is regulated. As it progresses, I may say inappropriate things.”

Tanya was the person Rachel would most like to emulate. She was kind to a fault, careful of other’s feelings and always supportive. And she accepted people the way they came. You were okay just as you were. Rachel envied her family who seemed to exhibit boundless love for each other and everyone. When there was a crisis, they circled the wagons and rode it out.

Rachel’s family wasn’t like that. Her mother died years ago; her father died recently—murdered. Brother Chris had been mayor of Santa Fe until he got involved with a bad crowd and participated in a swindle that almost ended his life. It had landed him in prison.

Her father, also a journalist, left big shoes she sought to fill. They had been close, but there wasn’t much extended family so holidays were not the big affair that Tanya’s family knew.

Two years after her last conversation with Tanya, her husband Gary called with the news. He cried as he told her that Tanya had become difficult, sometimes hateful. It was the disease; her filter was gone. And slowly, Tanya faded away. She and Gary met in high school and were rarely separated. They were forever sweethearts; now separated by death, but no less in love. He tried to be upbeat saying they would be reunited in eternity. Rachel wasn’t religious, but she silently hoped he was right.

After they said a tearful goodbye, Rachel crumbled to the floor and cried. Her tortoiseshell cat Chile Pod rubbed her leg and lifted her face to look at her guardian. Rachel absently stroked her colorful fur and was once again thankful for her company.

She remembered her friend Chloe told her about a transition blessing for the departed. Chloe, a real estate mogul in Santa Fe, lived nearby.

Rachel picked up the phone and called her.

“Tanya died,” she bypassed a greeting.

“Rachel, I’m so sorry. What can I do?”

“Remember when you told me about the transition blessing?”

“Of course. Do you want to do one for Tanya?”

“Yes. Can you come over?”

“I’ll get the crystals and be right over.”

A few minutes later Chloe arrived and enveloped Rachel. “I’m so sorry sweetie.”

“How do we do this?” Rachel asked, afraid she would cry again.

Chloe carefully poured the stones onto her kitchen table from a beautiful crocheted medicine bag. “A gift from our mutual friend Mari-lynn. We have scolecite, lilac kunzite, lapis lazuli and pink tourmaline.

Mari-lynn, Chloe’s contact for legal pot in Colorado, told her about the use of crystals. They were profoundly helpful in solving paranormal disturbances, facilitating time travel and returning spirits to their rightful place. Surely they would work to help her friend’s transition.

Chloe asked for candles and a photo of Tanya. Rachel collected them.

“Let’s go outside,” Chloe said.

The two women sat cross-legged on Rachel’s terrace. It was a lovely evening with another gorgeous New Mexico sunset in progress.

“Okay, you hold the crystals; in both hands.”

Rachel obliged. “Now what?”

“Mari-lynn told me we should concentrate on your friend. I brought a Hopi prayer that we can say.”

Rachel thought back to that evening in her living room when she tried a Hopi ceremony to return the dead. It went badly and a dangerous spirit returned. She hoped this would not end like that. Attempting the ritual marked the beginning of paranormal encounters and the development of her sixth sense. Being an intuitive was something she didn’t want, but it seemed to want her. That same night she met her spirit wolf on a lonely strip of interstate; the dazzling white wolf who alerted her when danger was near. What’s more, she had a wonderful relationship with a Hopi shaman, even after he died. Joseph was there when she needed spiritual guidance.

“Are you sure we should try that? You know what happened the last time.”

“It will be okay. It’s a prayer,” Chloe reassured her.

“Let me have the photo so I can meditate on her.” Chloe held the small framed photo of Tanya with her beloved horse, hair cascading from beneath her riding helmet. “She’s lovely. What beautiful long blonde hair.” She glanced at Rachel who was struggling to hold back tears.

“Let’s read this,” Chloe said.

“I’m not sure I can,” Rachel said. “Too much emotion. Can you read it for me?”

“Of course.” Chloe read the words. They were familiar. She’d heard a similar version before.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am the thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint in the snow.
I am the sunlight on the ripened grain.
I am the autumn’s gentle rain.
When you awaken in the morning hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush.
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there,
I did not die.

When she was finished, they both wiped at their eyes.

“Would you like to ask her for a sign she has reached her destination?”

“We can do that?” Rachel asked.

“Yes, go ahead, but it’s important to do so within 48 hours of a person’s death while they are still suspended between life and death. So now is the time.”

“Tanya, if you can, please send me a sign you have arrived and are safe?” Rachel croaked on the last word.

“Let’s blow out the candles,” Chloe said. “We have finished the blessing. Mari-lynn told me to warn you, if you receive a sign it will not be a common occurrence, but something quite unusual.”

“Okay,” Rachel said with some trepidation.

After Chloe left, giving her a big hug like Tanya had always done, Rachel cried her private tears and hoped Tanya had found the afterlife she had imagined.

*          *          *

The following day, she called Chloe from her office at High Desert Country magazine where she was a reporter and editor. While working on an assignment, she happened to think of the bizarre occurrence in her bathroom.

“Chloe, I may have already heard from Tanya and didn’t realize it.”

She went on to tell her about the odd incident she had experienced yesterday.

“At first I thought it was just strange. What do you think?”

“Rachel,” Chloe said. “I believe you’re right. That was your sign. Tanya has already contacted you. Your connection is so strong she reached out to you before you asked.”

“But how could it be?”

“I know your reporter’s intellect is trying to take you in another direction,” Chloe said. “But keep an open mind. This may be what you asked for. Mari-Lynn did say if a sign occurred, it would be strange, out of the ordinary. This certainly qualifies.”

The clock experience kept rising to the top of her thoughts. When she got home, the fact-checker in her got out a measuring tape. The clock, which was still secure on the shelf, had flown eight feet across her bathroom. “That’s not possible unless someone threw it, and no one did. Why would it fly parallel to the ceiling rather than fall directly to the floor beneath it?”

After a while, she ate dinner and went to bed, curling up with Chile Pod.

The following morning, she was about to brush her teeth and glanced suspiciously at the clock. As an extra precaution she confirmed it was stable and unable to take another unscheduled flight. “Good,” she said satisfied.

Before she could raise the toothbrush, the clock rattled on the shelf.

In genuine alarm she stared at the clock waiting for it propel itself across the room again.

“What’s going on?” If she had already received her sign, then what was this? She had relatively new perception skills. Usually when a spirit wanted to talk, there were sounds and conduits of colorful fog. This was very different.

The sense of unease persisted. In fact, she was somewhat frightened. Would it take wing again? Become lethal? Had she and Chloe unleashed something evil? She felt she should say something.

“Okay,” she smiled bravely—although she did not feel fearless. “I get it,” even though she wasn’t certain.

*          *          *

That night, she and Chloe met at The Shed for drinks and dinner. The Shed was their favorite place in Santa Fe for solving supernatural mysteries and just plain girl talk. They sat at the bar sipping margaritas waiting on their entrees smothered in green chile. Chloe was her usual elegant self. With her raven hair hoisted atop her head into a knot and colorful flowing garb, she was elegant as ever. Rachel pushed at her shoulder length brown hair. Had she even brushed it?

“I may have to stop going in my bathroom,” Rachel began.

“What? You had another event?” Chloe said excitedly.

Rachel didn’t always share Chloe’s enthusiasm for the mystical, but she related the latest episode with the clock.

“I’m telling you Rachel,” Chloe said gently, setting down her drink. “This is a follow-up from Tanya. Stop trying to explain it. You can’t. But you can try to decipher the message.”

“But it’s a damn clock,” Rachel said exasperated. “What’s a clock got to do with a message from Tanya?”

“Well, I’ve been thinking,” Chloe said. “There are all kinds of sayings about time.”

“You know Tanya and I were in journalism school together,” Rachel said. “We read one another’s assignments, we brainstormed together. She had a terrific mind.” Rachel let the words trail off as she struggled to stay in the moment and not think about what happened to Tanya’s mind. “It would be just like her to use a play on words.”

Rachel thought about it a moment; looking to Chloe for answers.

“Think Rachel. What would Tanya say?”

In utter astonishment, Rachel heard the words come from her lips. “Time flies when you’re having fun.”

“You translated the message literally?” Chloe asked.

“First thing that popped in my head.”

Rachel considered what it might mean. “Tanya has reached her destination and is having so much fun that times flies?”

“It would appear so, if you translated accurately.”

When Rachel returned home, she showered and wrapped up in a towel. As she stepped onto the bath mat the cold hit her. She grabbed her robe and pulled it tightly around her. That’s when she noticed her breath escaping in a fog.

It was not the way most spirits presented themselves to her, but a figure stood faintly outlined near the window. Rachel wanted to open the door and flee, but what if it was Tanya?

“Is that you Tanya?” she whispered.

There was no voice in return, just an unrecognizable filmy spirit who seemed to waver in and out. In a hyper second, it evaporated as though carried away by a zephyr. The cold went with it. As the warm air returned she heard a familiar sound; that of a horse trotting away. She raced to the window, but there was nothing outside, only the dark broken by one streetlight. Yet, the pounding hooves slowly receded.

Rachel stood amazed, remembering all the times they had ridden together. But in that moment she knew it was her friend. She must have met up with one of her horses from childhood. Maybe the Rainbow Bridge existed. As a new spirit, possibly Tanya couldn’t quite manifest herself, but she sent a clear message to Rachel; with reverberation.

Rachel kissed her palm like she’d seen Tanya do so many times and blew it in the direction her soul was now taking.

“Goodbye Tanya.”

 

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Ghost Story: “Presence”

Ghost Story Based on Real Events

Presence: A Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mystery Short Story by G G Collins

“If you receive a sign it will be something quite unusual.”

book-cover-presence-short-story-10-16-final

Available at Amazon

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to brush your teeth. Not when you’re Rachel Blackstone, the Reluctant Medium. She can’t explain why a simple clock on her bathroom shelf flew across the room. The death of a friend weighs more heavily. Her friend Chloe, into all things New Age, once told her about a transition blessing for the dead. Although Rachel wants to do it, she is gun-shy about attempting another ritual after the disaster she created the first time. Chloe convinces her it will be okay and offers a Hopi prayer. But when another unexplained event occurs, Rachel is afraid they may have unwittingly invited another evil entity into their lives. Were they foolhardy to attempt communication with the afterlife or will the new spirit reach out in a way Rachel understands?

Only $0.99 on Amazon.

Kindle Short Reads, 30 minutes (12-21 pages), Literature & Fiction, Ghosts

 

REVIEW

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Believe it or not.

Rachel and Chloe have done it again!

This is a wonderful tribute to those we love who have passed. To others, try it and you will most likely have a memory that will always stay with you.

Thanks Tonya for blessing Rachel’s life. Thanks GG for sharing your blessing.

Reviewed by Mojo. Thank you!

 

On Location with the Reluctant Medium, Week Three

The Plaza: Heart and Soul of Santa Fe

War Memorial in Santa Fe Plaza
Creative Commons Attribution

In the Pueblo Tewa language, the word bu-ping-geh, translates to “center-heart-place.” That describes Santa Fe’s central plaza well. Town plazas were the social network of times gone by—no wireless network needed. This public square was designed by Spanish soldiers a decade before Plymouth Rock saw its first Pilgrims. Originally, it was larger, extending all the way to what would be the location of the St. Francis Cathedral. Not surprising, the plaza is on the National Register of Historic Places

Anything and everything important happened at the plaza. Residents gathered there to celebrate when Mexico achieved its independence from Spain. It was also here that the town’s people learned the United States had annexed them and they were now going to be called New Mexico. The citizens of Santa Fe were not amused.

Festival on the Plaza
copyright G G Collins

Today, the plaza is home to the famous Indian and Spanish Markets, fiestas, concerts, holiday lights, and the first place visitors want to see. When a Santa Fe newbie stops me and asks, “Where’s the plaza?” I usually think amateur, and smile remembering when I first looked for the plaza years ago.

For our Reluctant Medium, Rachel Blackstone, the plaza is a special place. While some locals avoid it, because of tourism, Rachel adores it because of the mix of residents and international visitors. It draws her as she walks from appointment to appointment passing by the Palace of the Governors with a quick hello to those she knows. She and friend Chloe loved drinks on the Ore House balcony, before the restaurant closed, and Rachel, along with her co-workers at High Desert Country have pick-up meetings at La Fonda. And of course, The Shed restaurant is a short block off the plaza.

West San Francisco is one of the Reluctant Medium’s favorite streets in Santa Fe. The Lensic Theater is here and has been beautifully restored and transformed into the city’s performing arts center. More on it another time. Restaurant Tia Sophia’s is also along the way. Breakfasts are great and affordable–lunch too. As we walk along this narrow street, the St. Francis Cathedral becomes more and more apparent.

Now, we’ve come to the intersection of San Francisco and Lincoln Avenue. We

Plaza Draped in Christmas Lights
copyright G G Collins

have arrived. You’ll notice  the plaza shows off Pueblo, Territorial and Spanish architecture. If we make a right and go upstairs, there’s a great place to eat called San Francisco Bar and Grill. It has had several incarnations in Santa Fe, but Rachel Blackstone likes this one best. Rachel’s favorites here are the Tuna Niçoise and Mediterranean salads.

Below is the Plaza Bakery-Haagen Dazs. There’s never a bad time for ice cream and fresh-baked goodies. It’s good to announce the Plaza Café on Lincoln has reopened after a long absence to renovate. This is the first meal for many visitors to the City Different. Welcome back.

Throughout the plaza you’ll find a drug store, jewelry, pottery, clothing and culinary stores, a bank, the New Mexico Museum of Art at one corner and La Fonda at another. Dominating the north side is the Palace of the Governors, although it doesn’t look much like a palace as compared to some in Europe. It has an enthralling history which we’ll cover in the future. The tunnels and holes that were dug in the floor are endlessly fascinating. But the main attraction here for visitors is the American Indian artwork that is sold on the portal (porch) of the museum. Most of the artists are more than willing to talk about how they create it.

But let’s soak up the plaza at the moment. There are a few curiosities. The obelisk in the center is a war memorial. Some of the words are shocking. I was appalled when I read it. We can be thankful that reasoning, caring humans no longer think in such terms.

Harpist at the Plaza
copyright G G Collins

Music is a frequent accompaniment in the plaza. Not just in the bandstand, but musicians come to play their favorite instruments. One man brings his pets: a dog, a cat, and a rat. They all sit quietly one on top the other. We feel a little sorry for them, but they are well trained and you may take a photo, just ask first. These are the things that make the plaza the place to meet people and enjoy local color.

Two things we miss: the Ore House restaurant that had been a resident of the

Can’t we all get along?
copyright G G Collins

plaza for decades. At one time they offered nearly 100 different flavored margaritas and the best place to people watch. Sigh.  Also on the missing list are the flagstones the plaza used to have. Alas, it was rumored that people kept stealing the stones, so now it has grass which needs irrigation in this dry climate. During the summer, hanging baskets of exploding color brighten it even further.

The plaza is both a starting point and a jumping off point. It is a good place to just be. Grab a bench and enjoy. Mañana will take care of itself.

For more information on Santa Fe: http://www.santafe.org/

— G G Collins

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Ghost Story of the Week

La Residencia, located at Palace Avenue and Paseo de Peralta, has been a convent, hospital and nursing home. It was the location of the first St. Vincent’s Hospital prior to the “new” hospital being built south of downtown during the late 1970s.

During its life as a hospital, a boy and his father were brought in for emergency treatment after a car accident. Sadly, both died. It is said the child died from his injuries in room 311. Reported phenomena include the sound of a crying child in this room. It was heard so often the hospital tried not to use the room.

When museum exhibits were stored in the building’s basement, unexplained sounds occurred there. Nurses described a strange phenomenon, which appeared to be blood oozing from a basement wall.

But it is the cries of a frightened young boy who haunt his third-floor room we find most disturbing.

Psychic Question

For the answer, check back next Sunday.

Answer to last week’s psychic question:  The 7-minute man. Gotcha! No one answered this one correctly.

On Location with the Reluctant Medium, Week Two

The Shed: The Legend Continues

The Shed, Welcoming on any Day
Courtesy The Shed

When thinking of Santa Fe, it’s easy to visualize azure skies, crisp mornings and The Shed. Located in Seña Plaza on Palace Avenue, across the street from St. Francis Cathedral, it has a prime location one block from the historical plaza. For almost 60 years, The Shed has been serving the best chile Hatch, NM can grow. Originally, it was only open for lunch. Lines were long, they can still be long, but the waiting is pleasant in the Prince courtyard where both residents and visitors alike wait with anticipation.

Reluctant Medium Rachel Blackstone and her friend Chloe Valdez, are

The Bar at The Shed
Courtesy The Shed

frequently found sitting at the bar enjoying both the margaritas and the food. Rachel prefers the house margarita (she thinks they’re the best in town), but Chloe gets the pomegranate version claiming it is healthier. It is certainly pink. Whether you chow down on green chile chicken enchiladas or one of Chloe’s favorites, garlic shrimp with calabacitas, all entrees come with garlic bread—not sopapillas. It’s tradition.

Seña Plaza dates back to 1692. After the Spanish reconquest of New Mexico, Captain Arias de Quiros was hailed as a hero. For his contributions he was given land just north of the cathedral. He farmed most of the property and lived in a small house, which no longer exists.

Later, Don José Seña built a 33-room hacienda, situated around a large courtyard. He and his wife Doña Isabel had 11 children and they occupied all but the building on the north side of the courtyard which housed the livestock and servants. The structure was so large that it was temporary home to state government after a fire burned the capitol building in 1892.

Palace Ave & The Shed Sign
Courtesy The Shed

There are two other haciendas, with courtyards, in Seña Plaza: Trujillo Plaza which housed the office of the Manhattan Project during WWII and the L. Bradford Prince home which is where The Shed is located, hence Prince courtyard.

William Penhallow Henderson, artist and builder, remodeled the large structure in 1927, enlarging the courtyard, adding a second story to the back of the U-shaped hacienda. In Chris Wilson’s book The Myth of Santa Fe, he writes: “To unify the old and new portions, he developed a stylized vocabulary of light stucco heavy posts and lintels, and a Territorial style brick dentil coping.”

Fast-forward to the most recently completed century. The Carswell family

Excavation of The Shed, Burro Alley
Courtesy The Shed

moved to New Mexico from Illinois, after a stop in Carmel. The artsy family learned New Mexican cooking from their Hispanic neighbors and decided to open a restaurant circa 1952, with an official opening of July 4, 1953.  The location was in Burro Alley. It was literally the shed where both burros and wood was kept. There were 22 seats in this first incarnation.

Renovating The Shed Patio
Courtesy The Shed

In 1960, The Shed moved to its current location. As time and space has allowed, it has expanded to nine dining rooms, the bar and the anteroom where customers can wait. The entry includes a tiny kiva fireplace which puts out a surprising amount of heat.

Low-down: Watch your head as you enter the purple front door. We’re taller than our forefathers of the 1600s, so duck!

The Shed has garnered a slew of awards, although fans don’t need them to know what we like. These include the James Beard Foundation’s “America’s Classic Award” in 2003. The Food Network’s “$40 a Day” show with Rachael Ray, has featured it and New Mexico Magazine gave it their 2011 “Best Eats” nod.

The reasons for this are many. The colorful restaurant–with original art–is just plain fun, the staff is congenial and adds to the enjoyment, and then there’s the food. Red chile is ground fresh each day and the red chile sauce reflects this. Just try the carne adovado or the pollo adobo. The guacamole is smooth as butter, and of course, there is the award-winning Shed burger. The restaurant also has veggie options.

Don’t forget dessert. Our Reluctant Medium loves the zabaglione, a luscious Italian (yes, Italian) custard with cointreau and white port. Decadent. But oh my, then there is the mocha cake and the lemon soufflé. One can’t go wrong choosing any one of them.

The Patio Today
Courtesy The Shed

The heart and soul of The Shed, is the three generations of Carswells who have put their all into the restaurant. Today Courtney Carswell and family continue the tradition of New Mexican cooking, blending the old and the new, the Mexican and Pueblo Indian cuisines. The queues show how successful this is. See you in line!

For more information on The Shed: http://sfshed.com/Restaurant.html

 

— G G Collins

Copyscape Do Not Copy

Ghost Story of the Week

La Posada de Santa Fe Resort and Spa has probably the most famous of the Santa Fe ghost stories. Julia Staab who died in her prime at 52 reportedly haunts the hotel. It has been the subject of television shows such as Unsolved Mysteries and Celebrity Ghost Stories, and in print at The Dallas Morning News.

Abraham Staab had the three-story Staab House built in French-inspired styling which included a mansard roof and a ballroom on the top floor. It would become the hub of society in 19-century Santa Fe. But it would not last. The couple’s eighth child was ill and finally succumbed. Julia was never the same and took to her room, which became room 256 when the house was converted to a hotel.

During a construction project, a befuddled crew came to work one morning and found their building materials in disarray. An enlightened worker began leaving roses for Julia. The mischief ceased.

Other encounters have been more personal including sightings of a transparent woman in a long dress and hood. One man reported a woman’s image in the mirror of the men’s room. And in the basement, which retains its earthen floor and stone walls, an employee of the hotel has noticed a fragrance cloud of orange and rose blossoms.

Visitors to the six-acre resort still ask for room 256, but there was the case of one man who checked in, and returned to the front desk in minutes demanding another room.

Psychic Question:

For the answer, check back next Sunday.

Answer to last week’s psychic question:  The Exchange Hotel

On Location with the Reluctant Medium

La Fonda, the Inn at the End of the Trail

La Fonda during holidays
copyright G G Collins

For more than 400 years, there has been a fonda—inn or hotel—at the intersection of what is now East San Francisco and the literal end of the Old Santa Fe Trail. That first inn was constructed of adobe blocks, which were made of mud, shaped by hand and dried in the sun. Some would have had animal prints embedded from nocturnal visits by wildlife. The 1921 floor plans indicate there was a courtyard entrance, but that has since been enclosed. Although the original structure was replaced, and the hotel has undergone several renovations, it maintains the adobe architectural design that predominates in Santa Fe.

For our Reluctant Medium, Rachel Blackstone, it is a gathering place. After a strange and frightening event at High Desert Country magazine office, Rachel Blackstone and her office crew met in the La Fonda bar where they could enjoy the fireplace and sample the Mexican beers.

The lobby of La Fonda is more than a large hallway drawing guests away; it acts as the heart of the hotel with La Plazuela restaurant, the newsstand, the bar and many specialty shops that attract an international crowd. The tile floor has felt the footsteps of both the famous and the infamous: from Spanish conquistadores to the creator of the Santa Fe Trail, William Becknell, to modern-day celebrities such as Shirley MacLaine, Larry Hagman, Diane Keaton and Linda Hunt. And while it is rumored that Billy the Kid worked in the hotel’s kitchen, there is no proof that he ever washed a dish.

La Plazuela was first a courtyard, some referred to it as the back yard. It was the sight of at least two deaths, but more on that in our ghost story segment. Eventually, a massive skylight was built over the courtyard so guests could eat among the sunbeams, a stark contrast to the lobby’s dark handcrafted

La Fonda Front Desk copyright G G Collins

beams which are detailed with carvings. The front desk is a treasure of rich wood made by authentic craftsman. The hand-crafted chandeliers are constructed of tin, copper and glass, adding both light and ambience.

Mexican and Spanish influence is found everywhere in the furnishings, artwork and religious artifacts. In fact, several artists, most notably Gerald Cassidy, Paul Lantz, Vladan Stiha, also a resident at the hotel, have added paintings, murals, and painted panels that make La Fonda one of a kind. Ernesto Martinez is the current La Fonda artist. His work is most evident in the creative motifs found on the glass panes surrounding the restaurant. La Fonda continues to be both museum and posada (lodging).

J. Robert Oppenheimer, the renowned physicist of the Manhattan Project, reportedly hung out with his colleagues at La Fonda’s La Fiesta Lounge, federal agents in tow. But you can sip a margarita and listen to music, sans feds.

The Bell Tower on the fifth floor is the perfect place to appreciate beer and stunning sunsets at the same time. The view encompasses Sandia to the south and the Jemez to the west. After the hot colors of the sunset, stay for the indigo sky with a billion stars to keep you company. But should you venture out alone, beware the door. Mind that it’s not locked prior to closing it behind you. I have some personal experience with being locked out. Not a problem until a storm moves in or nature calls.

Like most storied buildings, La Fonda is a place of legend and myth. It has been the site of traders and cowboys, conquerors and native. It goes a long way back and will likely go way forward. It is reputed to have tunnels leading to the courthouse and the Palace of the Governors, and maybe even a dungeon-like room or two. Rowdy cowboys could be hustled away inconspicuously to sleep it off.

La Fonda was a Harvey House for more than four decades. Currently, it is a Historic Hotels of America, a Preferred Hotel Group brand, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Even if you don’t stay at La Fonda when you visit, you must see it, write a post card while sitting in one of those vintage chairs in the lobby, browse the many shops and immerse yourself in the three cultures (Pueblo Indian, Hispanic and Anglo) that exist in this city. It continues to surprise first-time visitors and long-time residents. And like wine, it improves with age.

For more information: http://www.lafondasantafe.com/

— G G Collins

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Ghost Story of the Week: Sharpen those psychic skills for the upcoming question.

While La Fonda has stood the test of time, it has also racked up a good number of ghosts. There are so many that we’ll cover just a few this time.

During the 1800s a gambling hall was part of the hotel. As we all know, for every person who wins, there are many more who do not. In one particular incident, a man was hung in the courtyard (sometimes referred to as the backyard). Maybe it was thought he was cheating, but whatever the reason, he was lynched. It has been reported that some guests to La Plazuela have seen the shadow of a man hanging.

The Hon. John P. Slough, who was a chief justice of the Territorial Supreme Court, was shot in the lobby and later died of his wounds. He insulted Capt. Rynerson, also with Territorial government, calling him dishonest. Rynerson took offense and shot the judge. Guests say they’ve seen a man walking the hotel dressed in a long black coat (robes perhaps?).

And yet another man lost his life in what is now the restaurant. Originally it

La Fonda Courtyard with Well, Public Domain

was the courtyard and in the center was a well. Apparently a businessman lost his company’s money in a round of cards. He was so distressed, he jumped into the well to his demise. Although the well was filled in long ago, you can still see where it was. Look at the fountain in the center of the restaurant. It even closely resembles the look of the well in the postcard shown. Hotel staff and guests have seen a ghostly figure cross the room to the site of the old well and watched as he disappeared into the floor.

The Southwest Ghost Hunters Association conducted an investigation into La Fonda in 1998 and found the strongest suggestion of paranormal activity in the parking garage. During its construction, human remains were found there. This happens from time to time in Santa Fe and environs. All work ceases until the remains can be recovered.

Psychic question of the week:

For the answer, check back next Sunday.

Answer to last week’s psychic question:  The Longest Yard, a perfect score by everyone!

Reluctant Medium Virtual “Treasure Hunt” Tour, Third Week

Tent Rocks: Hoodoos, Earth Pyramids and Fairy Chimneys

Now that you’re confused and wondering what all this has to do with our Reluctant Medium, well, the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks

Tent Rocks, Public Domain

was  another location where Rachel Blackstone searched for clues to her brother’s unexplained hasty departure from the Santa Fe City Hall.

It’s time for us to get back on the bus and make the short excursion from Santa Fe. The national monument is located about 40 miles west of the city. We’ll take I-25 to the Cochiti Lake exit. From there, it’s gets kind of fretful as we drive along the base of the Cochiti Dam. Try not to think about how much water pressure is on that dam. It has a capacity of 718,000 acre feet. Yeah, I don’t know what that means either, but that’s a lot of water. And it’s the 11th largest earthen dam in the world: Just a little dirt between us and all that H2O. It’s a bit freaky.

Well, moving along. We do have good luck on this trip. For years, the last five miles of this journey were washboard rough. It was a 5mph kind of road. My first several visits were bumpy at the finish. In 2010 someone had the bright idea to pave it. Your kidneys will thank them.

When Rachel Blackstone arrived at Tent Rocks, dark was fast approaching. Today, we’ll see it in daylight; not nearly as spooky. Kasha-Katuwe means “white cliffs” in Keres, which is the long-established language of the northern New Mexico pueblo Native Americans.

Slot Canyon, National Parks

Some six or seven million years ago, the Jemez Mountains to the west, blew their stacks. In the pyroclastic flow that followed there was enough ash and tuff dumped to have buried a medium-sized city. Reportedly, it was a quarter-mile thick (about .402 kilometres). Time, wind and rain, over many years, have created the conical shapes. Although basically a grey color, there are shades of pink mixed in. Some reach 90 feet in height.

Apache Tears, a black obsidian stone or volcanic glass (when tumbled, it is quite smooth and a black-brown color), can be found throughout. Pick it up and admire it, then return to the ground. Leave only footprints. It gets its name, Apache Tears, because of its shape and some believe it can act as a healing stone, helping one move through grief. According to folklore, anyone who carries Apache Tears will never have to cry, because the Apache tribe has cried enough tears for us all.

Many of the tent rocks have peaks which come to a point, giving them the look of a tent. But you’ll also notice that some balance a caprock on that tip, much as a seal balances a ball on its nose. A few of the towering rocks have been carved out leaving chambers much like those lived in earlier eras. But these have been used as camping quarters by more recent humans.

If you’d like a fine photo op, there is a trail through a slot canyon. This is a bit over a mile, but is rewarding as you can photograph the monument from above getting some fantastic pics. It’s a majestic sight.

Tent Rocks in Winter, Public Domain

Here’s something fun. Check out the Ponderosa pines. If you’re not sure they are Ponderosa, lean forward and sniff the bark—that’s right, sniff the bark. If you catch the fragrance of vanilla, it’s a Ponderosa. This will be most easy to detect during the warmer part of the day. So if you see people standing around the pines with their noses against the bark, they aren’t out of their minds, just enjoying the fragrance.

There are a variety of small animals in the area such as chipmunks and rabbits, but in quieter times you might see a strolling coyote. One early morning, I was certain I saw a bear. I elected to go to breakfast rather than becoming breakfast.

Tent Rocks is a magical landscape that you might think belongs in another world, but it’s here in New Mexico waiting for you to discover it for yourself.

For more information:   www.explorenm.com/hikes/TentRocks/        www.nm.blm.gov/recreation/Albuquerque/Kasha_Katuwe.htm

— G G Collins

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Ghost story this week with another chance to practice your psychic expertise:

Many people don’t realize the New Mexico State Penitentiary is near Santa Fe. It’s usually the last thing on anyone’s mind as they drive into Santa Fe enjoying the clear skies, high desert air and anticipating a few days of nonstop green chile and margaritas. But in February 1980 one of the worst prison riots in the US happened here. At least 33 people were killed, but the total couldn’t be certain. Two hundred were treated for their injuries. The convicts in Cell Block 4 were targeted because that was where the snitches were isolated from the general population.

Eighteen years later, former Gov. Johnson closed the prison due to “uncontrollable disturbances.” The inmates were moved into new facilities. After that, the old prison became a filming location for movies as well as a training center for police. One movie extra decided to explore, walked into a cell, the door closed behind him. Once a guard let him out, he left the set and did not return. Other reports of cell doors opening or closing, apparently on their own, lights coming on or going off without reason, unexplained sounds and even shadowy figures that suddenly disappear. Most disturbing are the burn marks on the floors where inmates died that cannot be cleaned or painted away. The marks always return.

Other deserted prisons are considered haunted. Maybe life sentences extend into the afterlife.

Psychic question of the week (notice, I’ve discovered the “poll” feature):

For the answer, check back next Sunday.

Answer to last week’s psychic question:  Weeping Willows. That was a tough one, but I bet you got it right.

Next week a new series begins. 

Go “On Location” with the Reluctant Medium.

The ghost story and psychic question continue!

Reluctant Medium Virtual “Treasure Hunt” Tour, Week Two

Jackalope: Not just shopping, it’s a party!

Courtesy Jackalope

Jackalope is one of the many delights of Santa Fe. The slogan “everything under the sun” is not an exaggeration. It may begin with pottery and blankets, but it doesn’t stop there. Treasures from New Mexico, Central and South America,  Asia, Africa, Europe and everyplace in between, make Jackalope a destination. Even the non-shopper can dig in here and max out the old credit card.

It was here that our intrepid reporter, Rachel Blackstone, found another clue to the mayor’s disappearance. The mayor just happens to be her brother. As you may remember, Rachel attempted to return her dead father and blundered, allowing a ghastly spirit to slip through the open threshold. Since then, it’s been one thing after another.

So climb aboard our shuttle and will make the short drive southwest of downtown to Jackalope. Even the City Different has a motel row and Cerrillos Road happens to be that street in Santa Fe. Despite the motels and tourist traps, there are some good places to eat along the way. Two places Rachel enjoys are The Pantry (the green chile is hot and delicious) and Tortilla Flats.

While we’re making the drive, let me just tell you about the creature, the jackalope. It is the result of the rare mating of a female antelope and a male jackrabbit. I know, I know, difficult to believe, but just go with it. If you’re still with us, then try this on for size: they only mate during lightning strikes. That could explain the scarcity of the animal: a rabbit with antlers! Okay, moving along.

Jackalope, is the brainchild of Charles “Darby” McQuade, who was born into

CourtesyJackalope

a family of 15 children in West Virginia. He was an entrepreneur before the term became a part of the vernacular and preached about at business conferences. Resourceful even as a child, McQuade sold cucumbers and worms for fishermen. After getting his business degree he moved to New York City, but it wasn’t his thing. He bought a motorcycle and a pair of cowboy boots and saw Europe. Eventually, he returned to the States and by 1976, he was a Santa Fean. He originally sold pottery and other items from Mexico at the downtown Plaza out of his truck.

Well, from humble beginnings…. Now, Jackalope has grown into a village of shops. Where else can you get an egg salad sandwich, a Guatemalan coin purse and watch prairie dogs play? And you wouldn’t be the only one; Jackalope is the 5th biggest draw to visitors coming to Santa Fe.

Courtesy Jackalope

And speaking of the prairie dogs, they have their own union and are bargaining for a flat screen TV and a hot tub. That’s right. How cute would that be; prairie dogs in a hot tub? Next, it will be margaritas! But we mustn’t forget the little guys played a role in a key scene when Rachel was searching for her brother.

Allow a half-day at least for a visit to McQuade’s “little” Mercado (market). There is truly something for everyone at Jackalope. As our Reluctant Medium knows, it’s where you buy pottery, but there’s also a colossal inventory of rugs, blankets, handcrafted international folk art, tasty treats from the Southwest, Christmas ornaments, handmade furniture, nursery plants—I’m running out of breath—and roasted chiles in season. In addition to the prairie dogs, are animals which sometimes submit to petting and are always fun to watch.

Jackalope is a colorful merging of crafts, arts and fun. Enjoy yourself and watch that credit card limit.

For more information, go to http://www.jackalope.com/

— G G Collins

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Another chance to practice those psychic skills:

This week we have another Santa Fe ghost story.  In 1898 a rancher built a house at what is now 122 Grant Avenue, a few blocks from the Plaza. Seven years later a young family moved in. Their son was sickly and required a wheelchair to move about. Unhappy, he was known to beat the walls of his upstairs bedroom to get his mother’s attention. Despite her constant ministrations, the lad died and his parents moved on. When the house was vacant, the neighbors reported seeing lights in the boy’s former bedroom.

In l981 the property was bought and renovated. It became the Grant Corner Inn, a bed and breakfast which hosted such notables as Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan (in better days), and illustrator Garth Williams. It had a knockout breakfast which was open to the public. But the problems did not abate. In Antonio Garcez’s book Adobe Angels: Ghosts of Santa Fe and Taos, he related the experiences of the former caretaker. He told of hearing loud noises, sudden dips in the air temperature that could kill indoor plants and the stench of rancid meat.

Several years ago, the Andrew Smith Gallery bought the property and moved into the house. No further reports of disturbances have been disclosed. Perhaps the boy is now at peace.

Using your psychic skills, what kind of tree was cut down in front of the house at 122 Grant Avenue?

(a)    Piñon

(b)   Aspen

(c)    Weeping Willow

For the answer, check back next Sunday.

Answer to last week’s psychic question:  La Llorona. Did you get it right?

Reluctant Medium Virtual “Treasure Hunt” Tour Week One

St. Francis CathedralCopyright G G Collins

St. Francis Cathedral
Copyright G G Collins

Today we begin our Reluctant Medium “treasure hunt” tour. The clues will remain safely tucked into the eBook, but we’ll visit the places where Rachel Blackstone found the clues. And you’ll have a chance to practice your psychic skills at the end.

Rachel is our Reluctant Medium. Her first career is as a journalist and now she seems to have a part-time job as a medium, much to her disdain. We pick up where Rachel found the first verse of clues to find her brother.

It seemed a normal day, even though Rachel had already been visited by the evil spirit. She ran into the Santa Fe New Mexican, the city’s daily paper, to drop off her story sources for review. Before Rachel could leave the newspaper office, the receptionist stopped her, giving her an envelope with the first clue to where her brother was.

The New Mexican’s office is found on Marcy Street near the downtown Santa Fe library in an unremarkable building. However, in its 158-year history it has occupied several locations including in the Plaza and on Palace Avenue.

Let’s walk a block and make a left onto Palace Avenue. The Palace Avenue site was later inhabited by the Manhattan Project during top-secret development of the atomic bomb in Los Alamos during WWII. Mail came to a P.O. Box rather than to the covert headquarters. It’s now the home of The Rainbow Man, since 1945, where the shopper can buy jewelry, folk art, masks and pottery. I dare you not to buy anything.

Another clue was waiting for her at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis Assisi

or commonly known as the St. Francis Cathedral. The cathedral dominates the downtown Plaza area. It’s one of the first stops made by visitors to the City Different. It’s on Cathedral Place, within our sight as we stand on the sidewalk under the portal (porch). Cross the street. Okay, everyone run up the steps!

The cathedral was built around an adobe chapel. When the new structure was

Interior of St. Francis Cathedral
Copyright G G Collins

complete, the small church, called La Parroquia, was dismantled and torn out except for a small chapel now on the north side of the church. The Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy (you’ll hear the Lamy name everywhere) had the cathedral built, not in the adobe style, but in Romanesque Revival. The yellow limestone was quarried near the current town of Lamy (told you, it’s everywhere). A statue of Lamy keeps vigil in front of the church.

The lovely rose window over the entrance was imported from France. Sadly, due to a lack of funds, the towers were not finished. The church was designed with two 160-foot steeples. But when construction stopped, it left one tower a single row of bricks shorter than the other, making one wonder if the money ran out abruptly. Can’t you just visualize (of course we can, we’re mediums, albeit reluctant) someone blowing a whistle, the bricklayers throwing down their trowels and climbing down?

Candles at St Francis Cathedral, Santa Fe, NMCopyright G G Collins

Candles at St Francis Cathedral, Santa Fe, NM
Copyright G G Collins

The interior of the cathedral contains elegant Corinthian columns and round arches. It is a humbling structure and quite spiritual to sit in. Take a few minutes to look upon the grandeur that is the St. Francis Cathedral. The Baptismal font was added about a decade ago and is made of Brazilian granite.

Candles are available just inside the church. You may light one for a loved one before we go. 

For more information on the St. Francis Cathedral, check out:  http://www.cbsfa.org/home0.aspx

— G G Collins

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Here’s your chance to try out your psychic skills—or Google skills?

There are many ghost stories in Santa Fe. A few blocks from the St. Francis Cathedral, along the Santa Fe River, is a story that endures. I’m told there are more than 40 variations on this ghastly tale and it is a favorite throughout the southwest.

Many years ago, the poor would park their wagons along the Santa Fe River (more of a trickle most of the time). According to the story, a woman from one of those wagons met and fell in love with a Conquistador. After having two children with him, she found he had been unfaithful (isn’t that just always the way?). In her sorrow, she took her children, and drowned them in the river. There are two versions of the ending: either she rejoiced that they were gone, then fell and suffered a fatal injury, or she hung herself in regret.

There are reports from people walking in the river park that they heard a woman calling for her babies, but saw no one. She has been seen at the nearby PERA Building. Workers have reported she is a dark shape and messes with the lights in the building. This ghost is known as the Weeping Woman.

Using your psychic abilities, the name of the Weeping Woman was:

(a)    La Plazuela

(b)    La Llorona

(c)    Las Golondrinas

For the answer, check back next Sunday. And, we’ll travel to another stop on Rachel’s journey to save her brother.

Hasta luego.

Two Days Until Reluctant Medium Virtual “Treasure Hunt”

Please join us for the Reluctant Medium “Treasure Hunt” Virtual Tour in Santa Fe, beginning July 1, 2012. Each of the locations where reporter Rachel Blackstone found clues will be toured (but no clues revealed).
 
Bring your psychic skills to answer the ghost story questions. Check it out.
 

See you Sunday. G G Collins

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