Thursday, August 19, 2010


I am not yet sure precisely why I have started this blog. I was thinking of using it as a more accessible continuation of the political/philosophical/economic, and sometimes theological, blog I have now on, Random Notes. On the other hand, I have created it with a different name and no obvious link to my old blog, so I may keep it separate, as a place where I can record my musings of a more personal nature, and create another blog to use as my replacement for Townhall. (Or, as I don't have real trouble with Townhall, I may just keep that blog as it is, and use this for my personal thoughts.)

Regardless of how this blog is eventually used, I suppose I should explain the title.

When I first moved into my new house, I was startled several times at night to hear what sounded like footsteps when no one was awake but me. Later, when alone at home, I was downstairs and thought I heard running on the second floor. Again and again this happened, and the rest of my family said they heard the same.

And so, trying to figure out what was making the noises, we started tossing out possible causes. Some were serious, such as squirrels running across the low roof over the kitchen (which also runs outside the second floor den where I usually heard these noises). And then there were less serious ones, such as "ghosts". And a few were just silly, such as "monkeys".

During the talk, we began for some reason to just toss out suggestions, and so hearing "ghosts" followed closely by "squirrels", I came to the conclusion the culprits were ghost squirrels.

That alone would hardly be reason to choose that name for a blog, but, having said it, the name caught on, and for some reason we began to attribute everything unexplained to ghost squirrels. And my son, having a mischievous streak, also began to blame all of his misdeeds on these same ghost squirrels.

And that is why I chose the name. If I do continue to follow the themes of my Townhall blog, then it is very suitable, as politics tends to blame everything on ghost squirrels. Nothing is the fault of the politicians, the voters, or any existing government policy, it is always someone else, someone who is neither the voters nor the government.

And if I choose to ignore politics and write about my random thoughts on various topics, well, in that case what would better suit a blog on nothing in particular than a name which relates to absolutely none of the contents?


For those cursing me for ending without explaining the footsteps, I suppose I owe you an answer. And we did eventually discover one. Or, rather we discovered a few.

First, while home sick, and thus not in my usual seat in the den, I heard some noise on the deck outside the sliding doors in my bedroom. As it is on the second floor, and no one was home, I could not imagine what it was. Looking through the doors, I saw two tiny squirrels, hissing and spitting, chasing one another all over the deck, making as much noise as three or four human beings. So, in at least some cases, "squirrels" was the answer.

But not the only one.

A few nights later my wife was in our son's bedroom, at the other end of the second floor, when she called me saying she thought she heard noises in the crawlspace under the eaves, which we used for storage. I listened, and thought the sound was echoing in a deceptive way, with the source actually being on the matching deck outside his room. And, sure enough, when we looked outside, we saw two huge raccoons, each big as a frozen turkey or larger. As we watched they moved around on the deck, eventually jumping over the low side wall and scurrying off along the lower roof, making a lot of familiar sounds.

But that was not all. In fact, the animal kingdom was the minority of the noises we heard, as I soon found out.

And so once I thought we had resolved all the nocturnal noises, I was startled to find the same noises during the day. My son had started school, and my mother was teaching. My wife was working, and I was all alone. And yet, while in the kitchen, I heard the familiar sound of running upstairs. Racing up, I saw nothing, no squirrel, no raccoon, nothing.

After a few more incidents, I eventually found the cause. It seems the apples that grow on the tree which overhangs our kitchen and dining room roof (which is low, and just outside my den), drop apples throughout the summer and into fall, which then bounce and roll down the roof, sounding like footsteps, running, all sorts of noises. In fact, they make many even more peculiar noises. Some, falling all the way to the wooden deck outside the kitchen, make a loud thud, or, if small and hard, bounce repeatedly, sounding like knocking. Others roll rather slowly, sounding almost like dragging. A whole spectrum of unsettling sounds can be ehard if you listen long enough.

And so, there it is, the whole explanation. No ghost squirrels, but everything else. In a few cases, squirrels and raccoons were to blame (and in one or two cases a neighbor's cat was involved as well), but, for the most part, the source of all the many startling and disturbing noise was nothing more than my apple tree. Strange, as it hardly seems something of which one should be frightened, but it certainly can make a wide range of disturbing sounds.

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