Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween Bash 2007: Ghost Story 4 - In the House

When we were young we played crazy but not dangerous pranks among us, but these pranks turn into scary feeling. The house we used to live was an old house built by Germans. I think Germans used to keep deceased in the funeral home right at the cemetery. However, that tradition changed when Polish moved into the area right after the war. A dead person was prepared and kept in the house for three days. When my grandfather died, they did the same, they kept him for three days in our house. All I remember is that a lot of people came every day, sat around the coffin, and either prayed or again gossiped about the latest and greatest, and also told stories or little things just enough to make us think about it. I was only five years old then, but I was quite aware of the ghosts too. So they used to say that kids had tendency to see more, and they told once a story how a little girl saw her dead mother just beside the coffin. No body saw anything, but the little girl was talking to her dead mom as she was alive.

Going back to pranks. Sometimes my parents and grandparents would work late in the field or for some reason leave us in the house alone. I think then it was three of us, my older sister probably eight years old, me just about seven year old and my other baby sister probably year old. For some reason we would sit tight in the house, but then one of us would start tell the ghost stories and even embellish them and act like one too, lol. On the end, we both would get so scared that we would take are baby sister and sit outside the house until late evening when it was dark, and wait for someone to come back home. We were much more comfortable outside, I guess we had more freedom just in case we had to run, better than hiding in the small rooms with an imaginary ghost, lol.

So the Halloween is around the corner. I will conclude the Halloween Bash 2007 with this story. So for all those kids and everyone else celebrating Halloween - have fun, play safe, and never know may be you will see the real ghost too.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Halloween Bash 2007: Ghost Story 3 - Man Without Faces

This story unfortunately makes me laugh now, but not then. This is the second cemetery story I am going to tell you. I will keep it short today. The story was by this one man in our town, and I think this time it happened on the side of our cemetery, because I recall them talking about him biking to work to the milk processing plant that was few kilometers away from the cemetery. Yes biking was very common in Europe then, now days many treat bicycles as exercise mechanism but then it was main transportation mechanism.

This man was working evening shift, so around seven in the evening he was biking to work. It was fall season so around that time it was getting darker. His main routine was biking by the cemetery. So one day he is taking his regular routine to work, and he sees this army of seven to ten man standing at the entrance. It was a bit dark, so he didn't really see all the details meaning - do I know them. However, they were all dressed elegantly, and just standing around, no real movement. As he kept biking towards them, he could clearly see them, but still could not recognize who they were and if they were from this town. He got scared, so he moved to the other side of the road and kept biking, biking fast. He eventually passed by them but was scarred to look at them. But his curiosity did not stop him from looking behind, and he did. To his surprise, he saw these man in uniforms and their blank faces, its almost like there was a cloud front of their faces distorting all face features. Now he was paddling very fast and when he was now farther he gave this one more look back - but there was no body there anymore.

Well I don't know how much I can believe this story. There are few things that I have not included, the man who saw the army of man in the uniform without faces, liked to drink. It was later in the day, so being a bit drunk and scared might have disturbed his vision. What I cannot explain is why they were there in the evening and all dressed the same. So this story remains a mystery to me, but again in our town it was very much believed to be another ghost encounter or encounter of many ghosts.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Halloween Bash 2007: Ghost Story 2 - Beautiful Cherries

Small town, lots of gossip and lots of ghost stories. We all know what happens to the story when the story is passed from one person into another and then another - embellished story. People want to make it more exciting so they add stuff and remove stuff. Therefore, I cannot confirm the stories I write here are one hundred percent real. However, our parents and grandparents always claimed that they were real. By the time I was fourteen I heard many ghost stories that I start fearing them, and this continues until today.

I remember every November 1st on the Souls Day in Europe we used to go to the cemetery and light candles on my grandfathers grave. All was fine when this happened on the weekend, because we all went, but when Souls day fell on the weekday and when I was old enough, my mother asked me to visit the grave by myself after school. Oh, I used to bag her not to make me do that. One year I went, and I was so focused that I never noticed beautiful flowers placed on my grandfather's grave, plus the other conditions I experienced - increased heart rate.

Therefore, I will tell stories that I heard related to people seeing ghosts in the form of people, around cemeteries of course. There were two everyone was talking about, today is one of them.

This happened in the neighboring town. There was this poor woman with a small child. She had tendency to walk around the neighborhood and gather fruits and vegetables form others. Collecting fruit from wild fruit trees that grew on the side of the road was also very common. Everyone in the town knew about the beautiful cherry trees that grew on the side road just beside the town's cemetery, but everyone also knew that they shouldn't eat them. They did not really say why, but it all makes sense now, the cherry tree roots got all their nutrients from the cemetery, and I will not expand on that any further. This woman knew about that too, but one day she ignored the message. She and her child were passing by and decided to collect some beautiful cherries. She put the child on her sweater under the tree, gave him some tree branches and flowers to play with. The tree wasn't really small so she had to climb, and she did. Once in a while she would look down to see if everything was okay with the child, and everything was, until that one time. Yes that one time she looked down and she saw this beautiful young woman playing with her child. The child wasn't really replying just playing with the branch sticks while it looked like the woman was saying something and trying to get the child's attention. The mother couldn't hear anything. The mother felt something was not right, and without thinking she literally jump off the tree. To her surprise she found no one with her child, and the child continued to play with the sticks.

Now you know why I will not go to the cemetery alone. These are not very huge ghost encounters, but enough to make me think twice when I am passing by the human resting place.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Halloween Bash 2007: Ghost Story 1 - A Deadly Prank

Until I was 14 years old I lived in a small town, a small town of about three thousand people where everyone knew each other, everyone attended everyone's wedding party, everyone celebrated new born baby, or everyone gathered at someone's funeral. Everyone knew everyone's affairs. Everyone watched the same shows and patiently waited for the next episode. And by the way there was only one channel, and no commercials and the TV was still black and white. Beyond all this the gossiping was big, and there was not a single day when we didn't have a gossip or story to tell. As title states, there were many ghost stories going on in our town. Sometimes it was parent's greatest tool to keep children disciplined by scarring them with ghosts - not very bright idea. We as kids never saw ghost, but we knew and we had to believe that they existed as our parents and grandparents made us to believe.

When someone died, at that time the body of the deceased was kept in the house for three days. For three days most of the time grandmothers and sometimes mothers, and may be grandfathers, would gather around the body, sit for hours and talk. Sometimes they would bring us kids so you could actually listened to the real prayers - gossips and ghost stories, lol.

Not to go into scary mode immediately, this ghost story told here is a ghost prank played among few guys - unfortunately tragic. One day bunch of twenty year olds decided to play a prank and bet some money on two guys who claimed that are not scarred of ghosts at all - they believed that there were none. One of the guys was told, if you such a hero, then go to the cemetery's funeral home before eleven at night jump into the coffin and close the lid. He was instructed to lay in it until pass 12 am. At 12 am - the so called ghost hour, a ghost will come to the funeral home. The cemetery had this old funeral home which was not used at all, I think it was build by Germans who lived in our town before. However, it was well maintained by the cemetery's gate keeper.

Later on, the pranksters told other guy, if you such a hero, then go to the cemetery's funeral home just before 12 am. Bring some hazel nuts with you and start cracking them on top of the coffin at exactly 12 am. We are sure that the ghost will show up. There may be even one in the coffin.

The bet started. The ghost non-believers went for free cash believing that they will win the bet. What happened next? Well that one day first guy showed up at night at the cemetery's funeral home. What he did exactly, how he felt, and was he scared? - no body knows, it is just him, and I cannot speculate on this. He jumped into the coffin, covered with lid and waits. There is probably more to the story, he probably showed up during they day and ensured that the doors were open, and the coffin was free of dust, may be or may be not. Note, at those times life was different, so doing things like that was very normal. Yes, what do you do with all this time when shows on TV were only for limited time, there were no computers, no video games, and no work for students.

Very close to 12 am, the second guy showed up with flashlight, hammer and sack of hazel nuts he probably stole from someone's property. At exactly 12 am he sat on the coffin and started to crack nuts. What happened next? Well the guy in the coffin puts his flashlight on and checks the time - and its 12 am. He is not scared - just curious. Now the guy who was cracking the nuts noticed the small illumination coming out from the coffin, and he probably started to think that may be ghosts do really exists. He continued to crack the nuts now more eagerly. Well the guy inside the coffin is now very very curious as he hears harder knocks - he decided to get out. This did not help the other guy, when the lid moved and more light escaped from the coffin, and it is only speculation, the guy probably got into a shock first. Well for sure he collapsed. As the lid continued to open, and the curious guy is walking out, thinking - someone is probably playing a prank on me. He is right, however, to his surprise he found his friend lying dead and realizing what just happened.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Good Food

Today I will be talking about food. However, I will be talking about very natural food I used to eat, and probably never I will experience the same taste again. Someone may ask why? Firstly, my grandmother is resting in piece, recipe or way of doing left with her, and ingredients are not the same as they used to be. In short, the person, the process and the ingredients can not be duplicated at this moment. So lets go back in time over 30 years ago to a small town of just about three thousand people where my grandparents and parents used to have a small farm consisting of a one cow, one pig, one horse, and chickens and roosters. Occasionally we had rabbits too, a seasonal breeding. When my grandfather passed away, we ended up selling the horse. My dad had his own business so he didn't really have time to utilize the horse in the farm. It was easier to just contract out for a necessary task - and it worked. The farm also consisted of many hectares of land, mainly used for potatoes, hay, and then for regular vegetables that were stored over winter time. Around the house we had many different trees such as apples and plums mainly, and lots of current bushes and goose berry. This was our garden of Eden.

Lets now go back on track and talk about the food. There was no pesticides, that means always needed to watch out biting into these high protein worms - you learn how. Fruit was always available all year long. Fresh from the tree or bush in the summer, and fresh, dry or jarred in the winter. The only fruit we ever bought in the store, were exotic ones such as oranges, grapefruit, or lemons. Or other fruit that needed special attention like melons or grapes. It was kind of cool not to have them all the time, because when we did we appreciated it more. We never bought vegetables in the store. Okay I lied, may be tomatoes, but that because we didn't have the heat to grow them, but my mother had a way to used them and make a green tomato salad.

You know what happens when you have a cow around. Yes, you get a fresh milk, in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon and in the evening. I think me and my father were the only two individuals in the house who never milked the cow. Because I just couldn't do it, so I got the responsibility to hold the tail and keep the flies of cow's back. My grandmother specialized in making butter and cheese. There is nothing like fresh bread, butter and cheese sandwich sprinkled with a bit of salt on top, or if you had sweet tooth - homemade jam was added. Add glass of milk to help the flow. As I mention my grandmother was master in making butter. I still remember her slim figure with long arms beating the life out of the milk using wooden barrel and holed beater. Cheese wasn't so bad, it was more a function of heat and time, and separation task using a cheese cloth. As I am writing it now, I am feeling hungry to go back in time.

You know what happens when you have chickens around. Yes, fresh eggs, and fresh chicken soup on Sundays. Sunday was a special day, the chicken was sacrificed for lunch. Hardly ever we had different type of soup on Sunday. We always fought who is going to get the chicken heart or other internal organs. Yes, many people just don't eat that stuff any more because the way chickens are fed - just way too much of unnatural stuff that is fed through the organs. But then it was different, all the food was grown by us, with not pesticides or any fertilizers, except the natural fertilizers - you remember the cow.

You know what happens when you have a pig around. Yes, annual sacrifice - I mean lots of meat. We used to smoke it all or preserve it in the jars. The very common way was to preserve in gelatin. Some people would say - yak, but I like it. The other good stuff was ham and sausages. Again, nothing like bread, butter and ham or sausage sandwich. However, we used to melt lard with bacon bits, it was good but pure fat and deadly. Also, I never liked the pig killing time - sad, and especially when my father had to do it. I have to tell you he just had no skill, and I would like to put that part behind me because wasn't pleasant.

The last thing we had lots of land mainly used for potatoes for us, and grass, wheat and sugar beats for cows, pigs, and chickens. Then around the house garden, a garden full of vegetables and fruit that was consumed during late spring, summer and early fall, and then preserved for winter. I don't think I have to describe the fresh salads, vegetable soups and snack vegetables. The fruit was unlimited.

As a kid myself and my family back then lead healthy life. I continue to lead healthy life, but then there are limitations. For example, an egg may look the same, but the composition is not. The food will never be the same, unless I go back in time.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

How to Divide One Slice of Bread

There are times when I actually make a point to watch a TV commercials. There are few that are just adorable, meaning that they are usually with children. Its their face expressions and what the say that make my put my the whole world on hold. There is one with two brothers arguing while their little sister drinks his brother's juice or cool aid, and when in trouble, all you hear 'I love you'. So there is this new commercial on TV for peanut butter. It is my another favorite one, because I did not know what the expect. By the way, I changed things around a bit, however, the story line remains the same.

The story goes. Three characters, the mother and the two boys, Joey and Bobby, and two main and the most important items of the commercial, the jar of peanut butter and one slice of bread - yes only one slice of bread. The two brothers are jokingly fighting over this one slice of bread and obviously to be spread with peanut butter. The mother suggests that the slice of bread is split. Easy, but not. One of the boys Joey wants the bigger piece because he is older. So what happens next. Well the mother gives knife to Joey and tells him to split the bread. There is suddenly sadness on the Bobby's face, because he knows that someone wants bigger piece of pie, its Joey. Well, Joey splits bread into two, but he intentionally makes one piece bigger. As I watched, I was thinking oh mother do something for the younger one, and she does. Joey got to divide the bread, but Bobby gets to choose. Nice little trick, fortunately both boys were happy on the end.

So that day I learned something new, may be old story, but new to me. I think this story teaches are something, and depending which venue you choose, it can have many many meanings.