September 27, 2012 by kittynh
My family and I lived in Brussels, Belgium during the years 2000-2002. My husband was doing work to prevent any millennium meltdown of computers for the company he worked for, and later made sure the change to the Euro went smoothly. My 2 daughters, country girls from New Hampshire, made the transition to apartment living fairly easily. We had a wonderful, if slightly crowded time in a 2 bedroom apartment, exploring not only Brussels, but much of Europe.
Living in Brussels was not all travel. It was day to day living, riding trams and buses to get anywhere, walking to the grocery store, and going to the local park to run off excess energy. The one problem with the park, is that we quickly learned we had to look down. There seemed to be laws about picking up after your dog, but no one ever followed the law. We were sure one of our neighbors had a pony or baby elephant, until we caught him one morning walking his 2 Great Danes.
We soon discovered if we walked a little farther we could reach what we came to call “The Yellow Abby”. It was a complex of old building, some of which dated from the 13th century. It was far less crowded with dogs, and dog poop, so it became our early evening destination of choice.
Our neighbors, confused by our need to put on the “shoes athletic” and walk every evening, were even more upset when they heard where we were walking. The Abby was haunted. That was one reason people rarely took their dogs there. The ghosts upset the dogs. I laughed, as I had recently begun to read the books of James Randi, and as a new skeptic was full of scorn for those who could fall for things like ghosts. My neighbors challenged me, “Go take photographs and video, you will see!” The girls were happy to take photographs and video to try to capture a ghost. Much to our surprise, we did.
I did not know what to make of the photograph. I decided on a whim to email James Randi. At the time I was reading “Flim Flam” and figured he might have an idea what it could be. I was shocked when Randi answered me back. I was sure he was so busy he would never answer an email about a ghost photograph from someone he had never met. Here is his answer.
Looks to me as if a piece of something like plastic wrap came in front of
the lens. Was it wet there? Was there a wind? Was there a protective wrap
on the camera? This could be a lot of different things…
I knew there had been no protective covering on the lense. It was not wet, simply a fog was setting in. I felt that the flash had somehow bounced off some of the fog. I wrote back to Randi and once again was pleased he replied. (I had also mentioned my daughter was reading Richard Feynman)
Barb: we see a lot of “spirit photos” like the one you sent, and they’re
almost always some bit of strap or wrapping that came in front of the lens
and was far, far, out of focus. Your “blob” has some form, too, and may be
just that sort of obstruction.
And, tell your offspring to continue to read Feynman. How much I miss his
input to my life!
While I still did not agree, I was sure this was something to do with the fog, I was amazed that the Amazing one himself had answered not one but two emails about my photograph.
Even more amazing, in the years to come the same daughter that read Richard Feynman would be an intern with James Randi at the JREF. I would also become friends with Randi and his partner Deyvi. I learned that skeptics are warm welcoming people, not so full of their own worth that they can’t take the time to personally answer an email from someone with a sincere question or comment.
My neighbors in Brussels saw my photograph as proof of a ghost, which kept them and their dogs from the beloved Yellow Abby where my daughters and I loved to walk. Walk without having to look down for dog droppings! As for the photograph, it still is a mystery but not a ghostly one to our skeptic family.