Quantcast
DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: April 2016

Friday, April 29, 2016

CHEESE ROLLING FROM STILTON, ENGLAND!



    Cheese Rolling has become an annual event in Stilton and every May Day hundreds of villagers and visitors make their way to the main street to watch the teams battling for the honour of being called the "Stilton Cheese Rolling Champions".

Stilton History and The Cheese



The Bell Inn, where the rolling starts!



Ancient Stilton

    No one knows who lived here first - the earliest finds date from the time of the Roman occupation and are probably associated with the road that runs from London to the army fortress at Lincoln, which the Saxons later called Ermine Street.
    For centuries this road seems to have been little used, the important route was the east-west road, Fen Street and Church Street, which is why our oldest building, the Church of St Mary Magdalene, is found away from the main road that now exists.






    Stilton gets three mentions in the Doomesday Book of 1086 as three landowners, the King, the Bishop of Lincoln and Eustace held land here. The Great North Road had become a busy thoroughfare by the fifteenth century and Stilton was a well-known staging post; at one time there were 14 inns or ale houses for a permanent population of around 500 to 600 people. While most earned their living from farming, an analysis of the 1841 census, taken just before the long distance coach trade all but disappeared to be superseded by the railway, showed that occupations directly connected to the coaches were important too.







Village Pubs &  The Cheese

    All four of the present inns have very ancient origins, even though their buildings have been changed and modernised several times. We owe our famous cheese to the coach trade. Any Stiltonian can relate tales of visitors asking "where is the cheese made?...", only to be told "‘in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire".
    The most widely accepted explanation is that the cheese came down to be sold at one of the coach stops in Stilton, perhaps The Bell or The Angel. As early as 1722 Daniel Defoe (the author of "Robinson Crusoe") ate some here and mentioned that the village was already famous for its cheese. The recipe was passed down through the Beaumont family of Quenby in Leicestershire. By 1830 a former housekeeper at Quenby, Elizabeth Orton, made cheese in her farmhouse. Her daughter married Cooper Thornhill who kept The Bell Inn and he sold the cheese. He was famous (or infamous) as a larger-than-life character who long held the record for riding to London and back.








Modern Stilton

    Today, all Stilton cheese is factory made, but still only in the three counties with milk produced locally. It takes a gallon of milk to make one pound of cheese and a lot of skilled hard work is still needed. Each cheese matures for 3 months after which the blue veins appear naturally as oxygen is allowed to enter through holes pierced by stainless steel needles. A whole cheese weighs 15lb.



One of the officials watching a race



    Stilton’s dependence on the main road has been its undoing twice; in the middle of the nineteenth century when the railway line passed to the east through Holme and Yaxley, and in 1959 when the present A1 Stilton by-pass was opened. The village became a ghost village; The Bell actually closed and fell into disrepair and other businesses also disappeared. In 1962 Tom McDonald of The Talbot and Malcolm Moyer of The Bell, aided and abetted by telephone engineer Fred Linstead who provided a telegraph pole, cheered up their drinkers by organising the first ever Cheese Rolling along a course outside the present Post Office on Easter Monday.





A Little History On The Cheese Roll

How did it start?

    It would be nice to be able to say that the event is "as old as the village" or that it's origins have been lost in "the mists of time" but really no one knows how far back the tradition of rolling the cheeses goes. Midway through the Twentieth Century, when the village had turned into rather a quiet place having been by-passed by the A1 and the inns and businesses had seen a big drop in their trade, a landlord of one of the pubs decided to revive an ancient tradition. Or so he told everyone! He could be seen rolling a Stilton Cheese along the road outside his pub. People came to stand and watch and eventually joined in. And so the sport began - again.








The Rules

    It was originally run on Easter Monday and there was not a lot of uniformity to it to begin with. It seems a piece of wood in the shape of a Stilton Cheese was produced, a starting line drawn up somewhere between the The Stilton Cheese Inn and The Talbot and the finish line was outside The Bell Inn. Brave teams of Stilton men would then vie to roll the cheese to it's finish and, after the ensuing scramble, and many tussles and spills, the team that ended up steering the cheese to the finishing line would win! Nowadays, the starting point is always outside The Bell Inn and The Angel and the finish is a line drawn at the cross roads between the bottom of Fen Street and Church Street. The contestants are teams of 4, either all men or all women and each team member has to roll the cheese at least once during it's flight. It's a knockout competition with quarter's, semi's and a grand final.





WHAT MAKES THE GRAVEYARD A SPOOKY AND SCARY PLACE?




    Under the watchful gaze of crumbling saints and baby-faced cherubs, you hurry down a path lined with mausoleums. Eventually, you pass crops of headstones casting long, narrow shadows in the moonlight. Each engraved with the epitaph of the dead person's life. You run past sunken graves and dying flowers, hoping that the sound you hear is just the wind and you're trying to shake the feeling that something is following close behind you.
    Maybe you've never taken a midnight stroll through your local cemetery. But if you have ever set foot in one, you've likely felt a hint of fear and uneasiness that is their legacy. Maybe you were attending a funeral of someone dear and close to you, touring graveyards or simply fleeing things that go bump in the night.
    Whatever your reason for strolling among the tombstones, you probably felt something noteworthy about the experience-something different from all the other spaces and places that fill our lives. After all, graveyards are the final resting place for many of our dead. People say their last goodbyes there, sometimes returning year after year to leave flowers or say a few words.
    No matter where we travel in the world, cemeteries are silent and solemn settings. Whether the grounds are finely manicured or left to the weeds, graveyard exist as the place where the living contemplate many mysteries, traumas and heartbreaks associated with death.
    Why are many people afraid of graveyards? Is it the thought of all those decaying bodies (zombies) under the dirt or the idea of an old crusty are coming out of the grass to grab your foot and pull you into their final resting spot with them? Or is it something deeper?









    Cats often receive a bum rap for hanging out in cemeteries, but can anyone blame them? Graveyards offer a cat everything they could ask for: all the best spots to nap, trees to use as scratching posts and a selection of small animals to prey on. What more could your averages sized cat want with your dead relatives soul when there are many squirrels and birds around to occupy their time?
    To cats, graveyards may be another place to sleep away the afternoon, but to we humans, they represent the mystery and the outrage of mortality. Whether we like it or not we're all going to die. You may think you've accepted that fact, but it's an issue humanity has struggled with for ages. Unable to avoid it, we've tried to figure out what lies beyond its doors. Will we live forever in a golden paradise, be reincarnated as a cow (or a cat that spends all afternoon in a cemetery) or simply cease to exist? We've pined for understanding since the times of the great pyramids and stared into the eyes of guillotined heads, hoping to catch a glimpse of something other than the emptiness of nonexistence.
    Fear exists as a response to stimuli that threatens our survival as a species. We're programmed to fight or run from anything that might cause death, and we approach death with this same attitude. We flee from it every day by distancing it from our thoughts and lives. In most parts of the world, we've handed the duties of interring the dead over to morticians, which limits our intimacy with death.
    Fighting death is trickier. To avoid staring down mortality, we've redefined what death is. We choose to see dying not as something our bodies eventually do, but something that eventually happens to our bodies. We cast ourselves as the victim of death, which is the reason grim reapers and other death-stalking beings permeate our beliefs. If death is a natural counterpart to life, there's nothing we can do about it in the end. But if it's something inflicted on us by an outside force, then perhaps we have a fighting chance.
Society often sets aside the angel of death and instead chooses to practice what some people call "the deconstruction of mortality." That is, we break down the insurmountable mystery of death into smaller pieces we can digest easily: biological functions, diseases and mental dysfunctions. If prayer or bribing the reaper doesn't work, maybe multiple organ transplants will.
    Pray and think about death all you want, but it's still going to happen at some time.










    Disposing of a body isn't difficult. Bury it in the forest, cremate it or just leave it out for the vultures--a rite Zoroastrains in India still practice. Not only are these methods cheaper than buying a fancy casket and a cemetery plot, but they also allow "Mother Earth" to reclaim the decaying material faster. The use of stone mausoleums, coffins and embalming only slows down the decomposition process.
    But then again, burials aren't really about the dead--they're about the living. We do our best to stave off some of the bad properties of death. And while immortality isn't an option, tombstones and stone monuments serve as long-lasting markers of the life that was. Aunt Betty may be out of your life for good, but a slab of engraved granite will serve as a reminder that she existed. Cemetery stonework also serves to encourage a sacred atmosphere, enforcing notions of afterlife and further establishing the site as a kind of sacred place between life and death.
    We humans fear death, yet we work hard to maintain hallowed spaces where the dead are memorialized and at least partially preserved. On top of that, we heap religions full of resurrection prophecies and thousands of years' worth of superstitions, folktales and ghost stories. We're constantly repressing our feelings about death or magnifying them to tremendous proportions. Maybe you avoid cemeteries and nursing homes, or actively try to speak to the dead through TV psychic mediums-either way, you're striving to avoid the real relationship that exists between life and death.
    We've poured a lot of sacrament, superstition and fear into our graveyards, which makes for quite a powerful atmosphere. Not only do graveyards play on past memories of loss, they also invoke potentially potent themes of supernatural terror. It's not just horror movies that contribute to this frightening reputation. Cemetery preservation groups and historical societies sometime get in on the action with haunted tours.
In more extreme cases, people actually suffer from colmetrophobia, the fear of graveyards. The condition involves a heightened, unrealistic fear of graveyards that actively interferes with a person's life. But unless walking past a cemetery makes your heart race, your fear probably doesn't qualify as a phobia.
    For the most part, the only things you really have to fear in graveyards are collapsing tombstones and monuments. Besides that, living, breathing humans are responsible for more graveyard assaults than all the vampires, zombies and ghouls combined.

COCULLO SNAKE FESTIVAL FROM ITALY!



    The attraction of snakes seems to be a huge pull factor, and seemingly the whole world's major ophidiophillaccs (snake lovers) often accompanied by their snakes, alongside keen photographers, descend on the small medieval town of Cocullo, in the Abruzzo Majella Mountains, ready to take part in this festival which has been re-enacted in its current Christian format each year, apart from 2009.






    There are three supposed origins to the Cocullo Snake Festival....In the 11th century, apparently Saint Dominic cleared the local fields which were being overrun by snakes, and as a sign of thanks, since 1392, the locals parade his statue and snakes around the streets. The second version dates to 700 B.C., locals experienced the same problems in tending to their field and Apollo ordered the village to entwine the snakes around his statue so that they would become tame and be able to farm once more. The first origin dates back some 2000 years to the Marsi who were the original inhabitants of the area who worshipped the Goddess Angizia. The goddess's official symbol was a snake and thus offering of snakes were presented to her to fend off attacks from local wolves, bears and malaria.








    The festival officially begins on March 19th, when local snake catchers/charmers around Cocullo begin to catch 4 types of local harmless snakes: (Elaphe quatuorlineata) and the Aesculapian snake (Elaphe longissma) and grass snakes (Natrix natrix) and its dark green sister snake (Coluber vindfiavus). Once caught they remove the snakes fangs. (not a good idea when it comes to return them back to the wild).








    Following an early morning Mass in the town's small church, local inhabitants ring a small bell using their own teeth to protect them against toothache for the following year. Local soil is blessed which afterwards is spread over the local fields to act as a form of natural pesticide. The wooden statue of Saint Domenico is then taken out of the small church and the snakes are draped around and over the statue and the statue is then paraded around the narrow lanes of ancient Cocullo.








    Leading from the front are the brass bands, that ironically seem to be mostly composed of those most snake charmer-esque of instruments, the oboe and clarinets. Another mass is broadcast over loudspeakers, which, women traditionally dressed, recite and sing, followed by priests. They are followed by girls in traditional laced costumes carrying ciambelli, which are local cakes that have a texture like doughnuts and are decorated with pastel colored, by the hundreds and thousands. Saint Domenic is carried up from behind, with the snakes and their charmers following closely behind. The procession winds back down to the church where it all started, and on their arrival home, a huge fireworks display, which sounds more like cannon shots, begins its 10 minute overture.








    If you like something out of the ordinary , visit Cocullo's snake festival; your next door neighbor may be stroking their snake next to you, but it gives you something to talk about as you gasp and think of a reason to decline their generous offer of holding one of their snakes, while jostling to get that ultimate photo.







Tips

    Get there early, the procession begins at 12 noon and the parade lasts for an hour and a half (the problem is parking...you can end up, if you arrive late, parking your car up to a couple miles away and have to hike uphill from the depths of the Sagitarrio Valley to get back to the small town of Cocullo, severely out of breath, if you are unfit.
You may hate the huge numbers of porchetta vans and mini market stalls up to the town itself and wonder why the police don't allow people to par there, but due to the huge number of people that attend the Cocullo Snake Festival, food must be had by attendees. Local restaurants get booked out with celebrating locals, used the porchetta Panini rout.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

13 FACTS ABOUT FRANKENSTEIN!





Take some dead body parts. Stitch them together. Add one mad scientist,
and toss in a lightning bolt for good measure. What do you get? The Frankenstein
monster! Alternately portrayed as both mindless killer and a misunderstood gentle giant, the Frankenstein monster is a classic Halloween creep. Learn more about him with these 13 freaky facts. .
  1. The young Mary Godwin, later wed to poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, wrote Frankenstein at the age of nineteen.
  2. As a house guest of Lord Byron, Mary Shelley was invited to participate in a challenge. Byron, Shelley, and the other guests set about writing the most frightening story they could. Shelley won, she claimed that her inspiration came from a vision she'd had, wherein a pale student of science knelt over a body which he had just imbued with artificial life.
  3. Doctor Victor Frankenstein is the name of the mad scientist character who created the monster and gave it life.
  4. Frankenstein is a German name meaning, "stone of the Franks."
  5. Victor Frankenstein was based on a real person. Johann Konrad Dippel, who was a physician and mad scientist obsessed with creating life through scientific means. His birthplace? Castle Frankenstein, near Darmstadt, Germany.
  6. The name Frankenstein is commonly, but incorrectly used to describe the monster itself. Throughout the novel, Dr. Frankenstein refers to his creation as "devil", "fiend", and other venomous epithets-but the creature is never given a proper name.
  7. Frankenstein was released anonymously in 1818, and was originally sub-titles: The Modern Prometheus. Both Frankenstein and the Prometheus tale serve as warning against too-high aspirations.
  8. The Frankenstein monster first appeared on film in Edison Studios' Frankenstein of 1910.
  9. Universal Studios' Frankenstein was released in 1931. Actor Boris Karloff played the role of the creature. Bela Logosi was initially offered the role, but refused.
  10. The Frankenstein movies paves the way for many sequels, including Bride of Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein, and Ghost of Frankenstein. Some notable Frankenstein parodies include Young Frankenstein, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which features Doctor Frank N. Furter.
  11. The Frankenstein monster makes a modern screen appearance in 1994's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, where he is portrayed by Robert De Niro. The monster is also featured in 2004's Van Helsing.
  12. Herman Munster, cosmetically based on Frankenstein's monster, was the father of a nice, if creepy, family in the television series The Munsters.
  13. In 2006, horror writer Dean Kootz penned a series of novels that reimagine the Frankenstein story in present-day New Orleans.

GHOST TOWNS THAT STILL EXIST, BUT ONLY FOR ITS RESIDENTS, THE GHOSTS THEMSELVES!!!

  A Ghost Town is a place that no longer exists. For some reason, and many times unexplained reasons, the people of the town leave and never return. The town is left to rot and be forgotten. But, a lot of these places allow you t come and visit, to step on the land that is no longer wanted, and to learn the mysteries behind their disappearances. Here is a list of some of the best Ghost Towns in the United States.


Roanoke Island, North Carolina


 
    The Lost Colony. Everyone knows that the first settlers in the new world created colonies in Jamestown and Plymouth, but there was also a colony on Roanoke Island, North Carolina. History tells of a woman, named Virginia Dare, who settled there with her family. Sir Walter Raleigh had led ships there. It would be the first settlement on American soil, but it was short lived.
    That's because everyone disappeared!
    To this day, scientists and historians have given answers to what happened to the people of Roanoke, but none can say for certain that their answer is the correct one. It is as if the people just vanished.
    Visitors to Fort Raleigh (the only thing the settlers left behind) ca walk the area and learn about Virginia Dare and her family. Sir Walter Raleigh and his plans for the new world, Native American tribes in the area, and you can speculate on the disappearance of an entire town.


 
Centralia, Pennsylvania



   Centralia, Pennsylvania. I can give you one very good reason to visit the abandoned ghost town; Silent Hill. Centralia, Pennsylvania was a prosperous mining town until 1962 when a mine fire got out of control. It created sink holes that apparently still burn today. The damage and the danger forced people to leave the town and it became a ghost town.
    Silent Hill, the movie, was based on Centralia, Pennsylvania. The town of Silent Hill was destroyed because of a mine fire. The town is covered in fog and falling ash. The video games and the movie are wonderful works of horror and seeing the town that inspired the film of Halloween, would be perfect.
    You can take a drive through Centralia, and stop and walk around. There are no tourist sights, but in some ways, that makes it better.




Bodie, California



   Bodie, California. In the 1800's Bodie, California was a town of ill repute. The founder, having struck gold, built the town and it grew. It is said that the run of gold and alcohol was deadly for the townspeople and they were always getting killed. It is now a rubble of buildings barely standing.
    But, don't forget to look out for ghosts. There are stories of a maid in the Cain house who committed suicide and still haunts the place. And, of course, plenty of strange sounds and noises.
    You can visit Bodie and explore the mess that it is now. It is a park now, and preserved for tourists.




Bannack, Montana



    Bannack, Montana. Bannack was another mining town that turned to dust by the 1940's. Like Bodie, the old town has been turned into a State Park for visitors. An added bonus is that area is supposedly haunted. A vigilante named Henry Plummer, who killed hundreds of people, reportedly haunts the town. And a young girl who drowned is often seen.
    You can visit Bannack and explore the building that have been preserved. Just watch out for Henry Plummer!



St. Elmo, Colorado



   St. Elmo, Colorado. Yet another mining town turned ghost town. Silver and gold abounded and St. Elmo came to life. Trains came in, bringing goods, but by 1922 the last train left. There was no one left in St. Elmo.
    That is except the ghosts. All the typical scary sounds and happenings have been reported here. From crying children, to items being placed where they shouldn't be. Doesn't make it any less interesting though. If anything, those things are more likely to happen to you when you visit, than seeing an actual ghost. Makes the trip more exciting that way.
    You can visit St. Elmo anytime you want. Pass through by car or stop and walk. There are many sights besides hoping for ghosts, trails to hike and mountains to climb.




Tombstone, Arizona



   Tombstone, Arizona. Wyatt Earp and the OK Corral are famous parts of Tombstone's history. Considered one of the deadliest places to live, Tombstone was known for its ruthlessness. Gangs roamed the streets and killed at will. Everybody was probably drunk.
    Tombstone isn't a ghost town per se, because the people turned it into a tourism spot. However, it does look like one. The buildings have been preserved as they once were, so it's like walking into the old west. Visitors can walk around and explore. The town's saloon plays music for dancing, and you can even stay in town. If you dare. Because Tombstone is also haunted. The OK Corral is haunted by ghosts, and it is said the streets are the most haunted. You can see a woman wandering the streets, and hear gunshots in the night.



Deadwood, South Dakota



   Deadwood, South Dakota. The home of Wild Bil Hickok and Calamity Jane. Can't seem to escape the old west towns. They've seemed the most likely to disappear once the gold run out. At least the ghosts stick around for your enjoyment.
    Like the others, Deadwood flowed with silver and gold and prospered for years. Then it died. It is now a National Historical sight for you to visit. However, unlike the other mining towns, Deadwood has preserved its history but also added to the commercialism by putting in a casino.
    For the ghosts, go to the Bullock Hotel. It is considered one of the most haunted buildings in the world. The owner still haunts the place, and has been seen or heard numerous times over the years. From voices, to the shower turning on, to dishes smashing, to electronics turning on by themselves. There is a tour of the hotel, or you could just spend a night there and see what happens. Do some gambling first, just in case.

QINGMING FESTIVAL FROM CHINA!




    The Qingming Festival is a traditional Chinese fest on the 104th day after the winter solstice (or the 15th day from the Spring Equinox), usually occurring around April 5th of the Gregorian calendar. Astronomically, it is also a solar term. The Qingming festival falls on the first day of the fifth solar term, named Qingming. Its name denotes a time for people to go outside and enjoy the greenery of springtime (Taqing, "treading on the greenery") and tend to the graves of departed loved ones.
    Qingming has been regularly observed as a statutory public holiday in Taiwan and in the Chinese jurisdictions of Hong Kong and Macau. Its observance was reinstated as a public holiday in mainland China in 2008, after having been previous suppressed by the ruling Communist Party in 1949.
    The holiday is known by a number of names in the English language:






 
  • All Souls Day (not to be confused with the Roman Catholic holiday, All Souls, Day, of the same name)
  • Clear Bright Festival
  • Ancestors Day
  • Festival for Tending Graves
  • Grave Sweeping Day
  • Chinese Memorial Day
  • Tomb Sweeping Day
  • Spring Remembrance
    Tomb Sweeping Day and Clear Bright Festival are the most common English translations of the Qingming Festival. Tomb Sweeping Day is used in several English language newspapers published in Taiwan.






 

Origins

    Qingming Festival is when Chinese people visit the graves or burial grounds of their ancestors. Traditionally, people brought a whole rooster with them to the graves visited, but the occasion hs become less formal over time. The festival originated from Hanshi Day, (literally, a day with cold food only), a memorial day for Jie Zitui or Jie Zhitui. Jie Zitui died in 636 B.C., in the Spring and Atumn Period. He was one of the many followers of Duke Wen of Jin before he became a duke. Once, during Wen's nineteen years of exile, they had no food and Jie prepared some meat soup for Wen. Wen enjoyed it a lot and wondered where Jie had obtained the soup. It turned out Jie had cut a piece of meat from his own thigh to make the soup. Wen was so moved he promised to reward him one day. However, Jie was no the type of person who sought rewards. Instead, he just wanted to help Wen to return to Jin to become kind. Once Wen became duke, Jie resigned and stayed away from him. Duke Wen rewarded the people who helped him in the decade, but for some reason he forgot to reward Jie, who by then had moved into the forest with his mother. Duke Wen went to the forest, but could not find Jie. Heeding suggestions form his officials, Duke Wen ordered men to set the forest on fire to force out Jie. However, Jie died in the fire. Feeling remorseful, Duke Wen ordered three days without fire to honor Jie's memory. The county where Jie died is still called Jiexiu ("the place Jie rests forever").








    Qingming has a tradition stretching back more than 2,500 years. Its origin is credited to the Tang Emperor Xuanzong in 732. Wealthy citizen in China were reportedly holding too many extravagant and ostentatiously expensive ceremonies in honor of their ancestors. Emperor Xuanzong, seeking to curb this practice, declared that respects could be formally paid at ancestors' graves only on Qingming. The observance of Qingming found a firm place in Chinese culture and continued uninterrupted for over two millennia. In 1949 the Communist Party of China repealed the holiday, Observance of Qingming remained suppressed until 2008, when the Party reinstated the holiday, in Hong Kong and Macau this practice has been uninterrupted for two millenia.






 

Celebrating Qingming

    The Qingming Festival is an opportunity for celebrants to remember and honor their ancestors at grave sites. Young and old pray before the ancestors, sweep the tombs and offer food, tea, wine, chopsticks, joss paper accessories, and /or libations to the ancestors. The rites have a long tradition in Asia, especially among farmers. Some people carry willow branches with them on Qingming, or put willow branches on their gates and /or front doors. They believe that willow branches help ward off the evil spirit wanders on Qingming.
    On Qingming people go on family outings, start the spring plowing, sing, dance. Qingming is also the time when young couples start courting. Another popular thing to do is to fly kites in the shapes of animals or characters from Chinese operas. Another common practice is to carry flowers instead of burning paper, incense or firecrackers.







 
    The holiday is often marked by people paying respects to those who died in events considered sensitive in China. The April Fifth Movement and the Tiananmen Incident were major events on Qingming that took place in the history of the People's Republic of China. When Premier Zhou Enlai died in 1976, thousands visited him during the festival to pay their respects. Many also pay respects to victims of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 and the graves of Zhao Ziyang and Yang Jia in areas where the right of free expression is generally recognized, as in Hong Kong. In most areas of China such observances are suppressed and all public mention of such subjects is taboo. In Taiwan, this nations holiday is observed on April 5th, because the ruling Kuomintang moved it to that date in commemoration of the death of Chiang Kai-shek on April 5th. The holiday is nevertheless observed in the traditional manner with families gathering to honor their own ancestors, visit and maintain their family shrines, and share traditional meals.






 

    Despite having no holiday status, the overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asian nations, such as those in Singapore and Malaysia, take this festival seriously and observe its traditions faithfully. Some Qingming rituals and ancestral veneration decorum observed by the oversea Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore can be dated back to Ming and Qing dynasties, the oversea communities were not affected by the Cultural Revolution in Mainland China. Qingming in Malaysia is an elaborate family function or a clan feast (usually organized by the respective clan associaiton) to commemorate and honor recently deceased relatives at their grave sites and distant ancestor from China at home altars, clan temples or makeshift altars in Buddhist or Taoist temples. For the oversea Chinese community, the Qingming festival is very much a family celebration and at the same time, a family obligation. They see this festival as a time of reflection and to honor and give thanks to their forefathers. Overseas Chines normally visit the graves of their recently deceased relatives on the nearest weekend to the actual date. According to the ancient custom, grave site veneration is only feasible ten days before and after the Qinming Festival. If the visit is not on the actual date, normally veneration before Qingming is encouraged. The Qingming Festival in Malaysia and Singapore normally starts early in the morning by paying respect to distant ancestors from China at home altars. This is followed by visiting the graves of close relatives in the country. Some follow the concept of filial piety to the extent of visiting the graves of their ancestors in mainland China. Traditionally, the family will burn spirit money and paper replicas of material goods such as cars, homes and phones and paper servants. In Chinese culture, it is believed that people still need all of those things in the afterlife. Then family members start to take turns to kowtow three to nine times (depending on the family adherence to traditional values) before the tomb of the ancestors. The Kowtowing ritual in front of the grave is performed in the order of patriarchal seniority with the family. After the ancestor worship at the grave site, the whole family or the whole clan feast on the food and drink they brought for the worship either at the site or in nearby gardens in the memorial park, signifying family reunion with the ancestors.

Friday, April 15, 2016

HAVE YOU GOT PROTECTION?????? FROM LURKING WEREWOLVES THAT IS!!!!!







    There are many hairy guys out there (even I have extra!) in the world. Most of them are completely harmless, sort of. However, every now and then, a werewolf might be on the prowl and these are the type of creatures you don't want to take home to mom and dad. Man or woman, a werewolf will likely try to rip you up! You need to know what to do to protect yourself from the hairy beasties. And I do not mean your big bro.


How to tell if the person you're with is a werewolf

    Just because a man is hairy does not mean he's a werewolf. There are a number of things to look for to help you find if the man stalking you is a werewolf or not. According to Warren Zevon song, The Werewolves of London, a werewolf likes Chinese food, especially the beef lo mein. They also love pina colada's (and getting caught in the rain). The biggest trait that will stand out the most, is that a werewolf has perfect hair (especially for the ladies!!!). They tend to mutilate little old ladies, too. (probably for their social security checks, because a good lookin' werewolf doesn't want to hold a job and work the graveyard shift because that's when all the action happens!)
    So if you're old and some hairy guy with a perfect mullet flirts with you and offers you some of his Chinese take-out on the bus, don't get off with him, tell him this isn't your stop and just keep on riding the bus. (wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, etc!!!)


Change the werewolf back to a man

    It is often said that you can't change the man only his clothes. (only to clean ones mind you!) However, if the man is trying to rip you open, its not going to hurt to try. Physical abuse is rampant and every woman or man should carry one important thing with them (I'm not talking about what's found in every mans wallet either) to always feels safe: Wolfsbane.
    Wolfsbane is a highly poisonous plant that will automatically change a werewolf back to his normal form. However, the downside to wolfsbane is that it is very dangerous to grow. The plant itself will cause rashes when touched, and if the sap gets into a cut, you are in trouble. Swallowing just one small piece of it will kill you. But, despite that, if you plant some outside your house you will not have to worry about a werewolf (or cats) stopping by to try and take a bite out of you.
Remember, that even if you change the werewolf back to his normal form ( like a plumber, electrician or one of the guys from the computer geek squad) that does not mean he will stay that way. When the next full moon comes up he'll be back at your door as a werewolf again (those no soliciting signs won't work either).


Time to get out grandma's good silver

    Sometimes it takes real extreme measures to protect yourself and your loved ones. When a werewolf just will not stop and you're in fear for your life, then it's time to pull out the good silverware.
    Silver will kill a werewolf. A silver bullet will put him out for the count if it hits him in the right spot. Sometimes it pays off to wear the tons of jewelry you got from your last trip to Mexico. Self-defense makes it perfectly legal for you to take him down! So keep that in mind when a werewolf attacks and you don't have any wolfsbane, because you forgot to water it.


Avoid the werewolf altogether

    If you remember to water and take care of the wolfsbane outside the front door, then you will probably not have to worry about a werewolf showing up with take-out and a comb. Also, don't go outside during a full moon. ( unless you're going ice skating or out making snow angels in the snow). Stay at home and put in the movie you got from Netflicks, or throw a party and invite the people from the Chinese take-out restaurant over to play charades. When you go out clubbin, avoid hairy men ( especially the ones with the gold chains and rings). Carry one of grandmas silver butter knives in your purse just in case to. AAAAHHHOOO!!! WEREWOLVES OF LONDON!!!AAAAHHHOOOO!!!!!

HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH GHOSTS AND SPIRITS!!




    Taking a photograph of a ghost or spirit does not require fancy equipment or extensive training. Any camera is capable of capturing images of ghost and spirits. Digital cameras are preferred because they produce immediate results, can e stored on a memory card or transferred to a computer without losing quality and there is no film to fiddle with in the dark.


  • Select a location that has reports of paranormal activity. Although you can certainly capture a ghost image in the most unlikely of places, exploring paranormal hot spots increases your likelihood of capturing apparitions or ghostly figures.


  • Take pictures of a defined object to provide perspective and to judge distance. Focus on a tree, gravestone or fence post if you are shooting a photo outside in a haunted location. Include people in your photos when ever possible. It is believed that some spirits are attracted to people and you just may catch that perfect shot while photographing your team members.






 
  • Avoid shooting into the sun as it causes lens flares that can easily be mistaken for paranormal images. Any source of light, even the moon, can cause lens flare. Be conscious of all sources of light, including flashlights.


  • Watch for reflective surfaces like windows, mirrors or shiny objects in the camera's field of view. If yo are using a flash, objects out of the view of the camera can also reflect light that may appear on film in unusual patterns.


  • Tie hair back or wear a hat to prevent a strand of hair from accidentally falling in front of the lens. Check lens straps and caps and keep away fro the front of the camera.


  • Avoid taking photographs in humid conditions or if it's raining or snowing. This creates orb-like images on the picture. Mist or fog may distort images or create a myriad of orbs.





 
 
  • Take a deep breath and hold it while you take a photograph to prevent your breath from appearing in front of the camera in cool weather. Even when you can't see your breath, it may show up on film.

  • Take two shots of the same location without changing position. Do this before exhaling as movement as simple as breathing out can shift the focus of the camera and result in a different angle. If you are lucky enough to catch evidence of paranormal activity, you will have another photo to compare images.

  • Examine photos closely for unexplained images. Beware of a process called matrixing where the brain translates sensory stimulus to create a familiar image from the unknown. If that ghostly face you see in the trees is composed of leaves and branches, then it is not a real ghost image. An authentic ghost or spirit image is not created from parts of the environment. It has a distinct shape and form that differs from the surroundings.







  • Study orbs carefully, as they are most often created by moisture, dust pollen or flying insects. True spirit orbs emit their own light and may cast a shadow. Study images of common dust and pollen orbs to learn to distinguish them from genuine spirit orbs.
    The tools you use to take spirit or ghost photographs is up to you, but keep in mind that the better the quality of the camera, the higher quality image it will produce. Get in the habit of snapping photos whenever you visit a site or when you get a gut feeling a spirit may be present, but do observe standard precautions. Not only does this prevent you from mistaking camera straps, reflection and orbs from insects or dust for ghostly images, it prevents real images from being compromised as well

THE TAKAYAMA FESTIVAL FROM JAPAN!!!




    The Takayama Festivals in Takayama, Japan, started in the 16th to 17th century. The origins of the festivals are unknown; however they are believed to have been started during the rule of the Kanamori family. Correspondence dated 1692, place the origin to 40 years prior to that date. One of the festivals is held on the 14th and 15th of April and the other on the 9th ad 10th of October.
    The Spring Takayama Festival is centered on the Hie Shrine. The shrine is also known as the Sanno Shrine, and the spring festival is also known as the Sanno Festival. The Sanno Festival is held to pray for a good harvest and the Autumn Festival is for giving thanks.








    The Autumn festival is centered on the Sakurayama Hachiman Shrine and is referred to as the Hachiman Festival. It is held after the crops are harvested. The fall festival is one of the three largest festivals in Japan. The other two are Kyoto's Gion Matsuri and the Chichibu Matsuri.









Floats

    The festivals are famous for the large ornate floats, or yatai, which roam around the city at night. The floats date back to the 17th century, and are decorated with intricate carving of gilded wood, and detailed metal work, rich design, similar in style to art from Kyoto during the Momoyama period, and blended with elements from the early Edo period. Detailed carving, lacquering and beautiful decorative metal works is found not only on the outside of the floats, but inside as well, under the roof and behind the panels, where the worked is amazingly detailed. The floats are also gorgeously decorated with embroidered drapery. The Uatai floats are lined up before dusk, and once the town become veiled in the evening darkness, as many as 100 chochin lanterns are lit on each of the floats. The unique ornaments of the yatai floats look even better in the darkness of the night. The floats are moved around the city by people but are wheeled carts and the bearers are not required to endure the load. The floats are lit by traditional lanterns and escorted on a tour of the city by people in traditional kimono or hakama dress. Each float reflects the district in Takayama to which it represents.









    The craftsmanship and the Hotei tai have intricate marionettes, which perform on top. The puppet show is a registered as a "cultural asset". The tall festive floats are displayed during the two days of both festivals. During inclement weather the floats are returned to their storage houses. The Takayama Matsuri Yatai Kaikan store four of the eleven fall floats; the others are stored in special storehouses throughout the city, when not in use. During inclement weather, the outer doors to the Yatai Kaikan are open so visitors may view them. The floats in the Yatai Kaikan are changed several times a year.








    The Yatai Kaikan is located in the northern end of Takayama's old town, a 15-20 minute walk from the station. The Yatai Kaikan is open from 8:30 am. to 5:00 p.m., from March to November and from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from December to February. The admission fee is 840 yen (approximately $10.10)







Puppets

    The puppets or marionettes are made of wood, silk, and brocade or embroidered cloth. They are operated by strings and push rods from with the yatai. Karakuri (mechanical) puppet plays performed on a stage are superb. The puppets, like the Yatai, represent the skilled craftsmen of the area. The puppets or the three marionettes on Hotei Tai (the god of fortune), require nine puppet masters to manipulate the 36 strings which make the marionettes move in a lifelike manner, with gestures, turns, and other movements. A problem with the puppets are parts needed to repair the puppets. The springs in the puppets are made of Right whale baleen and cannot be replaced with steel springs or the baleen of other whales. Other materials used to make the springs cannot duplicate the movements of the springs made from the whale baleen.

Monday, April 11, 2016

DIY SODA CAN COASTERS!

I was surfing several differen sites this last week and came across this cool coasters.  Who doesn't need coasters for drinks around the house?  This DIY comes from www.theidearoom.net, great idea for a fathers day gift!

   Today I have a new little project for those of you who drink your beverages out of a can or know someone who does. These will also be a great gift idea for Father’s Day…Soda Can Coasters.




soda can coasters




Yes…that is my favorite drink of choice…that I no longer drink…Boo! Getting to old to be drinking my calories! But I can still enjoy looking at it when I place my ice water on my lovely new coasters!




soda can coasters 9




   Simply empty out some cans of your choice and rinse them out with water. Then take some tin snips and very carefully cut off the top and bottom of the can. This can be a bit tricky. **But be very careful as these cans are super sharp!!!! I suggest wearing garden gloves while cutting to help give you extra protection. I reenacted these photos because the gloves were not so pretty in the pictures…cause we all know how important that it! Be sure to save as much of the flat part of the side of the can so that you can get a nice size square for your coasters. Then cut down the seam of the can. Most cans will have a definite seam on the side…usually by the ingredient list.




soda can coasters 8




Then I took some Silicone and put a good amount on the back of the square. I then attached them to some simple white tiles that measured 4 by 4 inches. I found them at Home Depot in the tile aisle and I believe they were 16 cents a piece. Flatten and rub the tin square so that it is securely attached. Wipe any excess Silicone off the top of the tile with a damp warm cloth. 




soda can coasters 7




Then I set a paper towel on the top of it and laid a pile of books on it and let them dry over night! The next day I took a small paint brush and painted some glossy varnish over the top of it to seal it all off so that the edges would not peel up and to protect the edges from poking or scratching any users of the coasters.




soda can coasters 1




Then simply place some felt pads on the bottom of the coasters to protect your table top from getting scratched!




soda can coasters 3




Aren’t they fun? I think they would be great to have in your TV room or game room.




soda can coasters 2




And did I mention how inexpensive they are to make? Pennies per coaster! Really! And you are recycling with a purpose!




soda can coasters 5




So go ahead and whip some of these bad boys up! One of the perks of this recent project was that I HAD to have one last drink. Really! There were no empty cans to be found! And I enjoyed every last drop. Who knows, I just may HAVE to make a LOT more of these coasters to give to ALL my friends and family!




soda can coasters 6