Spending time alone in other people's houses is weird. I used to do it quite a bit as a teenager for Ingrid. Not only did I babysit for her, I would clean her house a few times a week and look after the cats when she went away. I remember the first time she got me to dust and vacuum her bedroom and scrub her bathroom. I felt guilty being in there, so near her personal stuff. I learned then that I'm not a snoop (no, I'm not just saying this in case Kate and David read it). It's awkward being near cupboards and drawers that in my opinion should be private and safe from prying eyes. I'd have an anxiety attack before I got to the good stuff.
Now, like then, I'm sticking mostly to the kitchen and deck, two of my favourite areas in any house. I do love cooking and sitting in the sun, and it's unlikely that I'm going to stumble across something personal or embarrassing doing either activity.
In this house, both the kitchen and the patio are a little odd.
Take, for example, the black cat that I see every time I go out on the patio. It's not a cat at all, it's the hand railing going down the stairs. I know this. But whenever I step outside I see for a moment a black cat sitting up, staring at me.
Then there's the instance of the oven fire. I was heating up some vegetables in the oven. I left the kitchen for maybe five minutes. When I came back the oven was filled with dancing orange flames. I assumed I'd done something stupid like put in a plastic bag alongside the potatoes, or spilt oil all over the bottom burner. But once I had extinguished the flames I could clearly see that my meal was wrapped safely in it's tin foil with no plastic or other fuel sources in sight. The oven still smokes excessively, but no more flames have been spotted.
Yesterday I was on the balcony reading (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, if you must know), and I heard this hissing noise. I was right beside the barbeque, which I'd used the night before to attempt cooking veggie skewers and hamburgers for my mom. Oh crap! I'd left on the gas and the burner, and gas had been seeping into the house and I was going to not only burn the house down, but actually obliterate it in a huge explosion! And what was worse, I'd lied to my mother! She'd asked like a million times (twice) if I'd turned off the gas, and I'd said yes. I'm going to hell in a barbeque fireball of doom!
But no, the barbeque was okay. The burners were off, the gas turned off. Was the tank punctured? How do you even check that, other than sniffing around for gas and hoping you don't get high and pass out? I decided to apply my normal method of dealing with problems - ignore it and see if it either goes away or if I'm able to tune it out. A few hours later I was in the garden and heard it again. Upon further investigation I found a hose leading out of the house directly under the barbeque. It had a small hole in it. Water was spraying out in a fine mist, causing a gas-leak-like sound audible from my chair above it. I turned the hose off (see, I knew I was good for something!) which stopped the noise, but may have also turned off the automatic watering system for the garden as well. It's time those beets and rhubarb learned to fend for themselves!
Back in the kitchen, the radio is set to the BBC. This is fun as I'm listening to shows that are eight hours ahead of me. So in the afternoon I get the graveyard shift with the strange midnight callers and totally random music. Late at night I get the peppy morning shows and reports on how horrible traffic is on the M5. What's weird about the radio is that it really doesn't like the microwave. Any time the microwave is on, the radio shuts off. It turns itself on again about 30 seconds after the micro stops heating my coffee. I feel bad for the micro. It's only doing what I ask it to do, and while it's busy working it also has to put up with the cold shoulder from British DJs.
I sort of feel like I'm in a very subdued haunted house. I got the spirit that couldn't cut it in the fast pace world of hard core haunting. I can hear my ghost now (he sort of sounds like Woody Allen).
"I can be a bad ass. I'll start a fire. That'll show the other ghosts how tough I am. Although, it could be dangerous. Especially in an old house like that, it'll burn to the ground in seconds. And all those toys, the kids will be so disapointed. Maybe I'll just make a little one. In the oven - that's safe, contained and all. Ha! I've ruined your meal! Take that, human! Or did I make it better, flame-broiling your potatos? Damn it!"
This is the day shift ghost. The night shift plays by different rules. But more on that later.