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That Crazy Redhead

March 2001

When I was a teenager (long, long ago), my divorced mother, my sisters and I lived with my grandparents in a housing development in the Midwest.

Ours was a very ordinary neighbourhood of young families in recently built homes. The entire family was interested (by varying degrees) in the supernatural and our home contained at least a few mischievous spirits. But no one in our home was more weird than my very much "living" grandmother.

At 4 feet 8 inches tall and 180 pounds, she was a moving, jiggling powerhouse of spitting nails and swinging hammers. Along with my grandfather and a cowering contractor or two, she increased our three-bedroom, one-bath house to twice its size. Our home was a virtual maze of unfinished rooms and baths that never quite worked.

At twelve, I was an old hand at holding up wall paneling and acoustic ceiling tiles while others hammered in nails. At the first hint of a wall coming down (or going up) I learned to run for the hills.

The odd incidents occurring in our home included clouds of cigarette smoke (no one at home smoked), slamming kitchen cabinet doors (while no one was in the kitchen), footsteps from the ceiling above while one was lying in bed at night (the attic was a crawl-space) and the occasional sighting of a middle-aged man standing at the end of the dark hallway (rumoured to be a great- uncle).

I don't think anyone was ever afraid. We were such a hilarious bunch. I always imagined these "others" standing around, cracking up, watching us.

Somewhere along the line, my grandmother decided to make some of the rooms into an apartment for us. So another kitchen was built onto the back of the house, beyond the master bedroom (which became our living room). For some reason, the window in the living room was left intact while the building of the kitchen was going on. So, to get into the kitchen, you had to crawl through the window. Once, during a family get-together, my Aunt Rose went back to our kitchen to take a roast out of the oven. When my mother came into our little apartment, she found Rose standing in front of the window with a horrified look on her face. Rose said, "My God! I just came through the window and it wasn't your living room anymore! It was a bedroom again and a strange man was sitting on the bed just looking at me!" My mother, ever calm, said, "Shut up, Rose, and bring the food. If you think you're scared, just think about the poor slob in the other dimension trying to explain to his wife about the crazy redhead he just saw climbing through the bedroom window holding a casserole dish between two pot holders."

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