The Knitting Nun: Sister Barbara Knits: Caption Contest!

Caption Contest

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The Mystery of the Mid Century Modern Home: 17iPads, One Starbucks Latte and a Ghost

Helvetica typeface, 1957

“The 17 iPads that were tossed in the pool and ruined? They can be replaced. It’s the chain smoking that’s a problem.”

George sat back in one of the vintage chairs out on the porch of his clients’ $26 million Los Angeles 1956 estate Mid Century Modern home two-story home, puffing on a Cuban cigar. He surveyed the glittering city of Angels, got up and started walking around the guitar-shaped pool created by a Hollywood star back in the day.

“The way I see it – the ghost themselves are an asset,” he said, tapping his ashes into the pool. “I’ve sold more than one property that was haunted. Just not a Mid Century Modern one. There are some people who seek them out. The idea that chairs mysteriously move or levitate intrigues them. My problem is the smoke.”

He continued talking to Sister Barbara, who came in on the red eye last night. A housekeeper in a crisp black and white uniform swung by the patio with a cup of hot coffee and cookies. George called Sister Barbara yesterday morning, pleading with her to come out and talk to the ghosts in this property now on the market. Apparently the iPads – mysteriously tossed into the pool – were the last straw.

“My team cannot sell a house that’s got the smell of smoke,” he said, pacing manically puffing on his cigar, and now sipping on a Starbucks latte. “I’m aware the smoke from these ghosts is vintage. It’s not real.

“But I just can’t risk them lighting up during the house walk through prior closing. They could screw up everything.”

Sister Barbara just nodded, saying “I see” every once in a while. What did this guy in a custom-sewn suit expect her to do?  Wave a magic wand? Do a novena on the spot to get rid of these ghosts?

Sister Barbara herself got up, started walking around the pool, dipped her own sandals playfully into the heated pool. The warm water felt heavenly. She just wanted to don a swimsuit and dive in. Not talk about ghosts.

“Sir, could you please sit down for a minute?” she said, setting down her coffee on the patio table. “Your ghosts – who exist their own time warp, if you will – will not respond to anything I do. I’m not a ghost buster. I’m just a nun who accidentally got on NPR after helping out a young couple with spirits in their contemporary architecture home. The news about that got out.  I don’t solicit business. I just answer calls at the convent.

“My intuition tells me these ghosts will only stop smoking when something else starts.”

“The sellers need to bury a St. Joseph statue? They’ve done that.”

“No, that’s fine. This couple need to baptize their two children immediately and start them in CCD at their local parish.”

George looked at her, stubbed out his cigar. “Lady, you are kidding me? I don’t proselytize to my clients. You will need to tell them this strange advice. They’re Buddhists. They’re in the middle of a divorce.”

Sister got up.

“Not my job,” she said, huffily. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll take a dip in your client’s pool,” she said.

Fully clothed, she leaped into the water as a pelican landed on the pool ledge. “Good luck with your ghosts.”

The Mystery of the Haunted Mid Century Modern Home: It’s Not A Big Deal, part 2

Helvetica typeface, 1957

continued from Part 1:

“You’re a nun but not an exorcist?”

Apple stood at the entryway, confused. She stared at this woman who was the epitome of 1950s religious chic garb in her habit and veil. She had a roly poly face not unlike Santa’s. In fact, she could have been Mrs. Claus’ sister with those ruddy cheeks, twinkly eyes and grey hair peeking from her veil.

“That’s right,” she said, extending her hand. “I’m Sister Barbara from St. Ita’s. I’m not an exorcist but I have experience working with spirits. May I come in?”

Sister extended her business card with her name, title. And her specialty: Counselor to the Real and Spirit World.”

“Well, all right,” Apple said, warily. “Just for a little while. Just what order did you say you were with?”

“BVMs, Blessed Virgin Mary.”

Sister Barbara stepped into the vestibule, gazing at the vintage Sputnik chandelier overhead. Gazed at the 1950s abstract artwork on the wall. “Your home is so beautiful, I grew up in a house with similar chandelier,” she said in awe. “Your neighborhood reminds me of where I grew up.”

Apple ushered her into the living room. Sister sat on a the bright orange wave chaise. Sister Barbara stared at the vintage Zenith record player console. “We had one just like that when I was a little girl,” she gushed.

Apple sat across from sister. How could this woman dressed in black help her? She looked like she could fly right up and away like the Flying Nun, the television show.

“You are right to be suspicious. What is your name again?”

Sister repeated her name again. She told Apple about her work at St. Ita’s, working as a principal in the school, playing the church organ on Sundays. Her calling as a spiritual counselor of the other-worldly variety, how it evolved from calls to the rectory for an exorcist.

“Unfortunately, there is only one exorcist recognized by the archdiocese. One only for the entire Chicago area. He is very busy as you can imagine since he must cover so much territory and there a growing number of old houses possessed by spirits.

“I step into on occasion to help with the overflow on ad hoc basis. I help evaluate whether there is a genuine spiritual emergency.”

She paused, cleared her throat and tugged at her habit.

“I would say your house is possessed by friendly spirits. They mean well. You might not like to hear what I have to say about getting rid of your friendly spirits. My intuition and reading of these two spirits tells me you need to attend Mass every Sunday. Your ghosts will not go away until then. They’re concerned you are not headed toward Heaven.

“They themselves are in Purgatory, If you can commit to Sunday Mass for the rest of your earthly existence, they will leave you alone and they themselves will go to Heaven.”

“What?” Apple said. She stood up as if to get a glass of water and fainted.

The Secret Life of a Mid Century Modern Dollhouse: All That Glitters

Miniature Eames Lounge Chair & Ottoman by Vitra

Hunca Munca was known for her penchant for shiny, bright objects. Anything and all that glitters.

She collected dollhouse-sized pie and cupcake tins, tiny bits of colored foil from Hershey kisses. Everyone knew and teased her about her hobby.

Until one day, her husband Tom Thumb, a mouse, spotted his wife wearing an unusual necklace.

He peered closely. “Why are you wearing a rosary?” he asked, one eyebrow raised.

“Is that what this is? Hunca Munca said, pawing the beads. “I had no idea. I just thought it was a pretty necklace. Looks like diamonds. You know, diamonds are a mouse’s best friend.”

Tom Thumb harrumped. Where did she get the rosary? Hunca replied nonchalantly: Barbie’s jewelry box.

“Well, you need to return that right away,” he snapped. “That doesn’t belong to you, somebody made that and sooner or later someone will notice it’s missing.”

Hunca Munca laughed. “I will return it, eventually,” she said. “It’s not like Barbie can pray. She’s just a doll.”

“The rosary is the greatest weapon against evil! It  will convert the souls in the Soviet Union!” Tom Thumb roared, surprising enough himself.

“Well, I had no idea you felt this way,” his wife said, taken aback. “When did you convert to Catholicism?”

Tom Thumb said he hadn’t, it was something he had heard the people in the household say while they prayed in the living room. They were deeply worried about the Soviet Union detonating a nuclear bomb on the U.S. Everyone worried about it.

“It why people drink and smoke so much,” he observed. “They’re worried about what the Commies in the USSR are going to do to the U.S.”

“Praying will make a difference?

“I guess,” Tom Thumb said, shrugging his shoulders. He lit his corncob pipe, settled into his miniature Eames lounge chair & ottoman by the fireplace, the chair he was borrowing from the dollhouse .

A few minutes passed.

“I wish we could pray,” Hunca Munca said somberly.

“Well, we can starting right now,” he said, reaching for the rosary around his wife’s neck.

The delicate thing broke, Hunca Munca gasped and burst into tears.

“You broke my necklace. How can I return it now? We’re certainly going to get bombed by the Soviets now!”

“Not if we can help it. We must pray!”

Just then a nearby village siren began to wail, warning of an impending air attack.