International Cultures Day

International Cultures Day

Join Jill, on International Cultures Day, in New Zealand. Food, food, food…

Jill's Scene

People from all around New Zealand and from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds gathered in Hastings last week to celebrate International Cultures Day.

I knew I was in for a taste sensation when I saw all the food stalls.

These women, from Russia, were selling delectable vegetable pies filled with shredded carrot and flavoured with cumin.

The Russian food stall

This mother and son from Sri Lanka sold us a spicy fish roll. It was delicious and very filling.

Mother and son from Sri Lanka

The Chinese Society were selling pork buns,

Traditional pork buns from China

and a stall featuring food from Malaysia had tapioca flavoured with pandan.

Tapioca flavoured with pandan from Malaysia

This Thai sticky rice cake was filled with coconut and palm sugar. It was very sweet.

Sticky rice cake from Thailand

Sadly, I just couldn’t try everything but I was tempted. Especially when I discovered a food stall from Laos. But by then my stomach was complaining – you really can have too much of a good thing. Perhaps next…

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The Bell’s Witch

historic marker

In Adams, Tennessee you will find the historic marker that tells of the legend of the Bell family and the spirit that haunted them. John Bell moved his family from North Carolina to Robertson County, Tennessee in 1803. He was a farmer and became a leader in a local church. He and his family lived peacefully until 1817 when strange things started happening in and around their home.

Stories differ, but here is a summary of what I was told, read and imagined.


One night in 1817 John Bell was disturbed from a sound sleep by knocking outside his home. When he investigated, he found nothing. He reassured his family and everyone settled down to rest before another busy   

The story would stop here, but this wasn’t a one night occurrence. Instead the noises grew louder with each passing night. One day Betsy, John’s daughter, came in from the yard out of breath, and barely coherent she told her mama what she saw at the edge of the wood.

“Mama, it was a weird creature, ugly, I was afraid. I… I could see through it.” Mama comforted her and put her to bed with a cup of tea. Later she told John about it when he came in. They agreed to be wary and cautious while they were out.

That night the noises moved inside the home. The family got little rest from that night on. The demon moved about in the day as well, slamming doors, breaking glass and other unsettling distractions for the family. Eventually, the demon was strong enough to speak.

“Who are you?” John said.

Many times the unseen being gave different names. This particular night she said, “I am the witch of Kate Batts.” That name was used from then on.

“Why are you here?” he said.

” I am here to kill you, John. Betsy you will not marry Joshua Gardner.”

John had kept the strange haunting a secret for a long time, but eventually the strange noises accelerated to physical torment. Kate pulled Betsy hair, pinched her and beat her. John didn’t fare any better. He often felt as if he was choking, and he developed facial tics. He finally confided in a neighbor, James Johnson. James and his wife spent several nights with the Bell’s and confirmed the noises. James and John agreed to call together trusted neighbors to form a committee to investigate.

News as sensational as the Bell’s witch wouldn’t stay a secret for long. Soon people from near and far traveled to the Bell home to experience the terror of the witch, Kate. Andrew Jackson came from his Old Hickory home to witness the haunting. Everyone who visited came away mystified.

John Bell grew weaker each day, until on December 20, 1820 he died. After her father’s death, Betsy called off her engagement to Joshua. Kate’s mission completed, she left without ever revealing her reason for targeting the family. When she left she promised to return in seven years. Folks in Adams say she did for a visit to John Bell, Jr.’s home. There she spoke with John about the past and the future. She left again and promised to return one hundred and seven years.

Strange occurrences continue to be reported in Adams. Many say Kate never left; she will forever haunt the community, making her presences known in supernatural ways. Martha and I live about 15 miles from Adams. Her daughters and their families live there. The legend lives on to this day.

There have been many books written about the Bell family and the witch. The earliest are Authenticated History of Bell Witch by M. V. Ingram and A Mysterious Spirit by Charles Bailey Bell.

There’s a month-long Bell Witch Fest each October. Tonight, Halloween night, is the last night to visit the Bell Witch Cave for a frightful evening of chills and thrills.

Now you can tell your children, grandchildren or anyone else the story of the Bell’s Witch and her evil torment of the Bell family from 1817 through 1820. Tell them she still roams the woods in Adams and plays wicked tricks on the residents.




Color Festival- Charlotte

Saturday July 12 I participated in an event called The Color Festival. It was the first one in my area, but it has been an ongoing event that has been happening in other parts of the country for several years. Some of you may be familiar with Color Runs, where you run a 5k whilst getting covered in beautiful colors. The color festival is similar, only you don’t have to run.

The First Festival of Colors was held by Caru Das at his Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah. At this first festival there were a mere 17 people in attendance. 15 years later, 80,000 people from around the world travel each year to attend this amazing event in Spanish Fork, Utah. In India, the Festival of Colors (Holi) announces the arrival of Spring. It is a time of love, joy and a time when people come together and reconcile, forgive, and show gratitude for one another.

Somewhere along the line, the wonderful people who host the Color Festival in Utah decided it would be awesome to offer the experience to people around the nation. This July was the first one in our City and I was excited to have the chance to tag along with Doug, Stephanie, and Zakia from Sticks and Stones Massage. They had a booth at the event and I spent the day helping out with setting up, and getting forms filled out, taking money from event goers that wanted chair massages. We had a great spot that allowed us to observe the event and get a sense of what it was all about. If you are in the Concord, Charlotte, or surrounding area and are looking for a massage therapist, you should definitely check these folks out! They are all talented massage therapists and delightful people to be around.

There was a lot of yoga, group exercises and meditations going on. My favorite part though, was at the top of every hour there was a color throw. Event participants had the option of buying bags filled with cornstarch colored with various colors and as the day progressed everyone was covered in the various colors. Those with the bags of colors would gather a little before the top of the hour and there would be a count down and then everyone would through a big handful of their colors into the air. From afar it look awesome for a few seconds, then it was like a big colorful fog was hanging out over the crowd for a few before it disappeared.

I forgot to mention that this event was held in the middle of a cow pasture. It wasn’t tecnically in the city, it was a little outside in a small town called Midland. The place it was held apparently is a place you can rent space for events, in their pasture. I’m guessing when they have an event booked they just move their cows to another part, because we saw them on the other side of the pond, and there was evidence that they had recently been in that, part of the field. Which made me really question the folks laying down during the yoga portions of the events. To each their own I guess.

It was a hot day, and while we were under the shade of our tent, I made sure to stay well covered in my sunscreen, I even made sure I had my hat with me. It was a successful day for the Therapists and we hungrily packed up the day at the end and headed off to get real food. Oh, did I mention it was a vegetarian event? No, that’s because I’m still a little grumpy about that part. The food choices consisted of A homemade soda vendor, Italian Ice vendor, and Veggie Wraps. That’s it. We ended up surviving on Italian Ice, then made a mad dash for real food afterwards.

I was able to get a couple of photos of the color throws:



It was an interesting event to be part of and to observe. We did not partake in the color throws since we were vending, but it was pretty amazing to watch. They promise to bring the event back to our area next year, and it will be interesting to see how the even grows in Charlotte area’s second year. Being this was the first year it was small in comparison to the turn out in it’s more established areas. With that said, for a 1st annual event the turn out was amazing. I look forward to seeing what the second year turn out is. Who knows, I might even partake in throwing colors next year!

Watertown, Tennessee Part 2

dt wt farem
The population of Watertown is around 1,480 souls. Perhaps you think there’s nothing to do in this small community of commuters and farmers; you’d be wrong.

music festival
Saturday, July 12, there is a Music Festival taking place. If you’d like to know more visit

Sunset Shopping on Saturday, July 19 features drawings for prizes, refreshments and special sales.

jims antiques
While you’re there you’ll want to visit Jim’s Antique’s on the square. Jim is a Maine transplant. Each year Jim makes the trip back to Maine; when he returns he brings maple syrup and other New England delicacies for his customers in the Middle Tennessee area.

This fall in September you won’t want to miss the famous Mile Long Yard Sale.

In October the Excursion Train will feature a Train Robbery benefit. You can see the full year schedule of the train at November the event on the train is the Murder Mystery Train. Attendees are encouraged to come in costume and to be ready to participate. Of course the train runs the Polar Express with Santa in December.
pol ex


People decked out in red, white and blue sporting flag pins gathered in the dining room. Friends of my sister came over to be introduced; old friends stopped over to hug and say welcome. We are dining at her club for the 4th of July.

Have you notice when we dine out the menu must always list offerings, well like this:

Cracked Pepper Brisket = BBQ Beef Brisket
Jerk Chicken = BBQ Chicken
Sweet and Savory Ribs = BBQ Pork Ribs
Vegetable Medley = Squash, Onions, and Peppers
Loaded Potato Salad = Potato Salad
Chef’s Special Cole Slaw = Slaw.
The chef wants to paint a delicious word picture to stimulate our imagination and appetite. Sort of like a writer wants to show with description how the scene is set.

After we ate we gathered our lawn chairs and encircled the staging area for fireworks. This event is open to the public; cars continued to line the drive way as the crowds swelled. I noticed 4 teenage boys speaking Spanish who sat in front of us. I do believe they enjoyed the show.

All the surrounding hills glowed with neighboring communities who were displaying fireworks. The You Tube video above is of Nashville, Tennessee, noted for having one of the most impressive shows.

One remarkable thing, the humidity was down from 98% to a cool 47%. We wished for a jacket.

Regada: Wet and Wild Party

I’ve been living here in Tanza for three years now but I spent 23 years of my life in Cavite City, my beloved hometown. Yes, it’s a city but you won’t find any tall buildings or even a mall there. It’s so small that you can easily bump into someone you know by just walking through the commercial area. It’s also a peninsula. Sadly, we’re not known for beaches even though we’re surrounded by water. However, we are known for something else…


Map of Cavite City. Photo via

The feast of Saint John the Baptist is held every 24th of June (today) in most towns and cities here in the Philippines and the way of celebration is usually associated with water. In Cavite City, this water festival is popularly known as Regada derived from the Spanish word regar meaning “water” or “to sprinkle”.

If you will go to work on this day, leave home as early as possible because everyone is allowed to throw water to anyone once the clock strikes eight. When I was a kid back in the early 90’s, we would just simply fetch water from the water pump and throw water using a dipper or pail. Water gun is such a weak weapon for this. Haha. If you don’t want to get wet, better stay at home because no one is exempted. Even passengers inside the jeepneys and buses are targeted.

As years go by, this particular event has evolved into a huge environmental, religious and cultural activity. It was only 1996 when the name “Regada” was born. We just used to call it “San Juan”. Hehe. Now, the main water party is held at P. Burgos Avenue where water sprinkles are installed on the street for a big shower room experience. The street dancing contest is also held here. Dancers parade on the street while drenched in water from these sprinklers.


I captured this last Sunday and they are still working on it.


Jollibee trying to help but nope, he couldn’t.

So now, since I’m in Tanza and “San Juan” is not actually considered a holiday, I had to go to work and missed the fun of Regada. I’m not Catholic so I really don’t celebrate the religious part of it but I like the idea of having a big playground where adults can also join the fun. At 12 o’clock, everything should be back to normal.

Looking at some photos from the web…



Street Dancing…


37409_127705830598382_7982154_nThat’s all folks. 🙂


>>>Images via, via and via

An Afternoon at Chicago’s Daley Plaza


Saturday, June 21st was Make Music Chicago. What started as a celebration of music on the longest day of the year, back in Paris in 1982 has spread to cities all over the world, making its way to Chicago in 2011. Make Music Chicago consists of performances from musicians of all ages and skill level in locations across the city. My son was asked to be part of a group who performed at Daley Plaza.


Daley Plaza is graced with The Picasso, one of the most well-known landmarks in Chicago. This sculpture by Pablo Picasso was dedicated in 1967. It stands 50 feet tall and weighs 162 tons! It’s popular for kids to slide down, as well as skateboarders (when security guards aren’t present). It has appeared in may movies, including The Blues Brothers, The Fugitive and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

In addition to the sculpture there is a fountain, which bubbles merrily at ground level, often changing colors to celebrate a holiday or a sports’ team championship win. It is a popular location for a variety of events, including a farmer’s market and a bike rally this month. It’s also a great place to people-watch, which is what we did while waiting for our son’s group to perform.

I got such a kick out of watching these 2 little twin girls playing in the plaza. Their joy of life showed in their laughter and playful spirits. There was a protester- on a hunger strike. It was interesting to watch peoples’ reactions upon seeing him. He wasn’t asking for anything. Just to make his statement. He was left alone, although at one point he was part of a family’s photo.

The music was awesome! Instead of sitting in the “stage” area, this group chose to spread out around the space, including the Picasso, where two trumpet players stood.

Stopping by the plaza is one of the endless things you can do when visiting Chicago.

A “report” from the celebrating of midsummer

I have written a post in my other blog with photos from my midsummer trip to Åland, which is an island between Sweden and Finland.

Se the post here: Celebrating midsummer in Åland


Swedish Midsummer coming up this Friday

Swedish Midsummer coming up this Friday

It soon is that time of the year again…

Time to celebrate Midsummer in Sweden. This is a holiday almost like Christmas for the Swedes. I guess it’s a local holiday. Finland celebrate something close to our Midsummer, but I am not sure if there are more people that does.

Midsummer are celebrated on a Friday, every year, the date varies from the 20-25th of June. It have some historic roots back to the 300-century and one reason to celebrate (historic) are the summer solstice. In the beginning it was a pagan feast which later on turned to a celebration of the birth of John the Baptist.

Today Midsummer have very much became “a huge party”. Many people visit relatives in the countryside, where a “maypole” are in the center for a lot of dancing and singing. The weather always are the worst of the year, but everyone stays outside. I guess that it might seem like a pagan feast for someone who are not familiar with it…

Many women and girls wear a crown of flowers in their hair. I took this photo last year:


A girl with a crown of flowers

For me Midsummer is a celebration of the summer, and it is filled with joy. I feel so happy and grateful when summer begins. We have some wonderful days in front of us:) I will get back to you with some photos from this years celebration. I will celebrate on “Åland”, which is an island in the middle of the Baltic Sea.

Until then, enjoy this photo from June in Sweden a few years ago, worth celebrating, isn’t it?

An evening in June

An evening in June

confessions of a teenage drama queen

we have two shows to put on – one on thursday and one tomorrow.

yes, the big day has finally arrived, and we are pretty terrified. the weeks and weeks of auditions, rehearsals and panic (actually, looking at the schedule, only about a month and a bit) have all boiled together to create something which will only be revealed 7:30pm tomorrow…

the moments before will probably be filled with panic – myself as the main character (don’t ask how i did it, i don’t know either) screaming silently as i flip through someone’s script in a desperate attempt to get my lines together, people running around getting changed into their costumes, projectile vomiting. and tears, lots and lots of them. someone is going to cry, i can feel it. possibly blood and sweat, too.

the actual play is actually made of pretty lame material. it’s actually part of a set of six, all to do with World War One and edwardian stuff. there’s a lot of death, but sadly it’s all slightly underplayed, especially in ours. i was having a conversation with chorus 2, and she agrees with my statement that our play is the least serious – while others are about starvation and suffragettes, we scrub steps and laugh about gertie gitana. i’m also pretty sure our play has the most deaths of named characters in it – three in total. my father, R9832 m shapiro rifles and my mother. fun times!

all that said, however, it was a blast. i made some new acquaintances (who knew one of the sporty year 10s could be so nice?) – none of my friends were in my play, so i had to suck it up and talk to people i didn’t really know *gasp!*. there were some fairly hilarious moments (‘OH I’M SO SORRY!!’ and ‘my father is dead. what a tragedy.’) and i actually learned quite a lot about acting and play stuff through this. i haven’t starred in a proper play like this since year three, when i was eight (i was an ant narrator person in a musical about bugs). so, when the lights come up and the music starts playing exactly twenty four hours from now, i’ll know what to do…

~miki ❤️