Friday, September 30, 2005

Friday Cemetery Blogging

Well. This ain't it.

I had a couple of nifty little pictures picked out for ya. Nothing earth shattering or particularly witty, but a couple of grins, none the less. My modem at home has decided it is better to give than to receive. I am all for that sort of altruism, but you can't do much without an ability to receive data. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

Then, when I arrived at work, I discovered that my computer here is dead. D - E - D. Dead. Ka-put. My boss just told me he called the computer guys. They will be here "as soon as they can". Bossman admits he has no idea what that means.

"As soon as you can is like 'I'll do my best'. What the heck does that mean? And what if your best really sucks?"

So. We'll do more cemetery blogging next week - Good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise.
(Why do people even say that around here? We don't have any creeks. Just a few long and wind-y ravines that someone at the highway department likes to label as forks of the Brazos river. They aren't foolin' me, though. I know rivers are supposed to have water in them on a regular basis. So there!)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Hurricane warnings. Flood warnings. Evacuation warnings. We don't have to deal with that sort of thing much around here.

Got an email from my mom this morning. They live a couple hundred miles south of here in the
oil fields.

They went to the football game last Friday night. They got a rattlesnake warning. There was some construction going on at the football field during the week and they had come across several rattlesnakes. The announcer was warning everyone to "watch yer step!"

What kind of penalty would you call for a snake bite? Ophidian foul? Illegal invenomation?

Is this weird, or what???

This really horrible, quicky scan is For Revernd Mommy:

Cue Twilight Zone theme music...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

21st Century Grandparent

Of course I'm not old enough to be a grandparent. But my friends are. They are all old, old, old. Real old. Like Old Testament old. (Sometimes I like to live dangerously.)

Anyway. One of my best friends just became a step-grandmother. For the second time. This child's parents are insistent that the child will not be calling my friend simply by her first name - although that is how Rose would prefer it.

The newly parental step-child and wife are feeling giddly and inclusive and want Rose to be labelled appropriately. Of course this has caused some tensions with the other grandmothers on both sides of the family. I don't know why, but they seem somewhat intimidated by Rose, although she is quiet and retiring - almost demure. Just like me! (Snort!) Actually, Rose is intelligent, tough, opinionated, and blonde. She never lets anyone get the best of her and refuses to take any crap. But she is still a blonde, which is why we call her Rose.

The other "real" grandmothers have already chosen their names: Nana, Mee-maw, etc. Rose refuses to be called Granny, Grandma or any other such diminuative. And truthfully, those names don't fit. So, what to do?

Google it, of course! Who would've guessed that there is an entire webpage devoted to names for step-grandparents? She decided to go international and went with the Greek term for grandmother: Yaya.

Rose is definitely a yaya. And of all the grandmother names floating around - guess which name the baby will be able to say first? My money is on Yaya.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Since you asked...

A couple of you asked how to do the"ghost" picture. It involves multiple exposures and a reeeally steady tripod.

1. Set your camera to do a multiple exposure, ie. don't advance the film between the first and second shot.

2. Find the correct exposure setting for your scene. The divide the settings in half and set your camera accordingly. By doing half the expsoure time in each shot, you end up with one correctly exposed picture.

3. Take a picture of the scene, sans "ghost".

4. Take your second shot, being very careful not to move the camera. This time, add what ever the ghost is: a person walking past the camera, an object added to the landscape, whatever.

When the film is developed, you'll have a semi-transparent image of whatever you added to the second shot. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Friday Cemetery Blogging

Self Portrait
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Not my best work, but I really like the idea and the technique. It just needs a bit of polishing. I took this last winter in our local cemetery. (Thus the big coat.) I intended to go back during the spring to redo it, but I haven't had a chance.

5 Questions Meme

5 Things I will do before I die:
Learn to paint (pictures, not houses)
Go to Mexico and live on street food during Dia De Los Muertos
Run for public office without hope of election. (Sort of a la Kinky Friedman. I’d like to do it with Ross Pero’s money and just hang out on the campaign plane with the reporters for a year, flying around the country, causing trouble and having laughs.) (BTW-when you check out Kinky's page, stick around for the cartoon. It is so worth it!)
Have something published. (Sub-entry: actually submit something for publication.)
Own a cabin in the mountains. (Not a Unabomber-type cabin in the mountains. More of a lets-spend-a-couple-of-months-here-in-the-freakin’-summer type of a cabin.)
Get old. And wrinkly.

5 Things I say most often:
Have you done your 8 hours of community service this month?
Yeah, but its COOL!
Do you live with your wife or your girlfriend or your baby’s mother; and is that your sister in the waiting room?

5 Things I cannot do:
Spit for distance and/or accuracy

Cook (Jackson said I should list that one twice.)

5 Things I can do:
Make you laugh until Coke shoots out your nose.
The Time Warp. Again.
Play well with others.
Handle whatever comes along.
Drive rental cars with wild abandon in big city traffic.

5 things that attract me to other people:
Ability to laugh, especially at themselves
A derth of fundamentalism/ultra-conservatism
Ability to see beyond the borders of our own little worlds

5 Celebrity Crushes:
Johnny Depp
Allan Rickman
Patrick Stewart
Janeane Garofalo
Michael Pallin

5 people who I'd like to see do this:
Do I have to pick only five? Cause there'd be more. There's Opie Capone and Gallimaufry and Captain Wow and Headless and Annie and...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The book was in the mail!


I got my book from Mindy's Book Swap in the mail this weekend. Can I just say, I am thrilled! Thrilled, I tell ya! Kathryn of Good In Parts sent me The Faber Bood of Epigrams and Epitaphs. How totally appropriate is that?

Don't you love to get stuff in the mail? Between Amazon, Ebay, Gorey Details, and Mindy's swaps, I am a confirmed mail order disciple. Did I mention the Gorey Details? A lot of my family read this blog and they might need to know about Gorey Details for all their gift-giving needs. Yessirreebob! Find everything that someone could possibly want at Gorey Details!

Back to the book! Kathryn also included a post card of the rose window at her church. It is incredible! (Sorry FUMC ladies - their rose window puts yours to shame.) I looked up the website for the church - its like something out of a story book. If I ever manage to swim the Atlantic, I am heading straight for her county. Thanks again, Kathryn - this book is going to provide me tons and tons of enjoyment!

Has anyone else noticed that Blogger's spell checker does not recognize the word blog? What the hell!?!

Friday, September 16, 2005

We're all Kindergartners at heart.

You know how you can always convince little kids that your nickel is worth more than their dime and you can make them believe you are doing them a favor by trading? What? You know you've done it! I think we all still have a lot of that little kid inside us.

So give it up, treasury department! As long as the half dollar has such significant heft, as long as it feels so substantial in the palm of your hand and makes such a satisfying ringing noise when you spin it on your desk, as long as the oversized engravings are so detailed and precise – you’ll never make a
quarter-sized dollar will succeed. Keep yer stinkin’ dime – I'd much rather have a nickel!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Abhorrent Filler Material

1. What are your four favorite beverages?

1. Really good sun tea - light and sparkly with a few mint leaves floating around the jar. 2. Dr. Pepper, of course. 3. Diet Coke with Lime. 4. Hot tea with breakfast - earl grey or English breakfast tea.

2. What are your four favorite TV shows?

The first four I can think of are: The Avengers, Trailer Park Boys on BBC America, Mystery! on PBS, Anything on the Discovery Channel that is of even mild interest,(You can listen to those shows while you do other things and not miss anything important.) and the Carol Burnett Show.

3. What are your four favorite desserts?

Lemon Refrigerator Pie - so simple even I can make it. Jello No-Bake Cheesecake. Brownies with walnuts or pecans. Homemade peach cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream.

4. What are your four favorite hobbies?

Photography, writing, blah, blah, blah...

5. What are your four favorite musicians?

Who. Don't you mean who are your four favorite musicians? Or is it whom? There was this nifty rule about when to use who and whom. I learned it in grade school. It was something along the lines of i before e except after c, but now I can't remember it. I never had trouble with who and whom until I forgot that rule. Now I seldom get it right... What was the question?

Oh yes - musicians. It changes depending on who I have last listened to. Right now it would be: Annie Lennox, Joan Osbourne, Danny Elfman and anyone who is not Toby Keith.

I was the 422nd person to take this week's Monday Meme!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Friday Cemetery Blogging

Did you have a Smokey Bear teddy bear? I did. According to my mom, I was a little confused and called him Mickey Bear.

This is the grave of the real Smokey Bear. It is in a corner of the grounds of the Smokey Bear museum in Capitan, New Mexico. A large stone marks Smokey's gravesite under the big pine tree. The marker says: "This is the resting place of the first living Smokey Bear. In 1950 when Smokey was a tiny cub, wildfire burned his forest home in the nearby Capitan Mountains of the Lincoln National Forrest. Firefighters found the badly burned cub clinging to a blackened tree and saved his life. In June, 1950, the cub was flow to our Nation's Capital to become the living symbol of wildfire prevention and wildlife conservation. After 25 years, he was replaced by another orphaned black bear from the Lincoln National Forest." Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Anyone hungry for cake?

In which I say "wonky".

I can't breathe.

Sometimes this thing happens where my ribs get all wonky and out of place and it feels like someone is prying my shoulder blade up off my back with a crowbar and then, when I inhale, my ribs stab into my lungs from the front and the back and it hurts real bad. Do you ever get that?

Or is it just me?

I've tried to cut back on my breathing to help solve the problem, but it hasn't proven very effective. I'm evidently some kind of an oxygen addict. (First Step: Admit we have a problem.) So then I tried only breathing out since that is much less painful than breathing in. No luck with that either.

This happens about every three months. Stress might be a contributing factor. Why can't I just get a headache like everyone else? Whine, whine, whine.

I usually go to a chiropractor in Big Flat City to get un-wonkied. I like him because he can take walk-ins. I go pay my $40 and sit down on the slippery leather couch. Before I've even had a chance to peruse the collection of Popular Mechanics, his assistant is calling my name. What service! But, its a 45 mile drive to Big Fat City and gas prices are making that less and less attractive.

An aside: I have to admit that my chiropractor of choice is an accused sex offender. He was accused of some sort of dalliance with a 17-year-old girl. He plead no contest to a much-reduced charge and although gossip says it was consensual until somebody got mad about something, I have no idea of the circumstances.

The reasons I use him are: His practice is evidently greatly reduced and I can walk in off the street with no prior notice and be seen within 10 minutes. His practice is in a small house converted to an office. No doors are ever closed. He never, ever, ever asks that I remove any article of clothing. (Perhaps I should be offended?) He just works around whatever you have on. And he works cheap. Their misfortune has worked out swell for me.

Anyway. This time I knew I needed to get hooked up with help here in town. Did I mention I have tried this before? We had a chiropractic office that was part of a national chain here for a few months. I went there once and a nice guy with a ball-peen hammer gently whacked my back a few times. It worked ok. But not great. And there is always a line of people willing to whack me with a hammer free of charge whenever I want, so why pay for him to do it?

Then I tried the guy with the funky old office way out of the edge of town. He had taken over the practice from a local chiropractor who retired. His name is Dr. Bert. Dr. Bert was perfectly nice, but he really wanted me to sign up for a membership to use some sort of workout equipment that he had not yet purchased. Dr. Bert was fairly competent, but his walls were pretty much falling down around him and his receptionist reminded me for Juno the caseworker from Beetlejuice.

Earlier this summer when I was again all out of whack, I called Dr. Bert's office. Dr. Bert himself answered the phone. He said: "Hellooo." I assumed I had the right number and explained that I wanted to make an appointment.

Bert: Well. I can't shee you today. Maybe tomorrow.
Me: Ookaayy. Tomorow would be all right. What time?
Bert: What time do you wanna be here?
Me: ...9:00 a.m.?
Bert: Umm... How 'bout 10:00?
Me: Fine.
Bert: Ok. Bye.

Evidently Dr. Bert had been nipping at the rubbing alcohol. I figured that since he never asked for my name, he wouldn't know who to be mad at when I didn't show up for my appointment the next day.

That left only one local chiropractor for me to call. I'd tried to see him before, but there was always at least a two week wait before he had an opening. I now know why he has such a busy practice - the franchise guys closed up shop and left town and Dr. Bert is "liquidating" his practice. When I called this time, they could get me in with only a week's wait.

I told the receptionist that was ok, but if I didn't show up, it will be because I died over the weekend. She laughed sort of uncertainly and hung up the phone. She called me back early the next morning: "We have a cancellation at 9:30 this morning! I thought I would call you because you sounded really desperate yesterday." I guess I really shouldn't make such outrageous statements to total strangers. But, hey - my ribs are getting fixed!

Breathe-in. B r e a t h e o u t . Don't sneeze!!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Maybe Macabre, Never Morbid

For years people have asked why I am interested in cemeteries. I don't know why I have never formulated a sufficient answer. It is probably because there is no single reason.

I've always been surrounded by death, but never in a morbid way. When I was growing up there was a lot of death in my family. It runs in the family. (Har-dee-har-har.)

My father is a minister and of course death and its aftermath were a part of his job. When I was in high school we lived in a tiny town where death was the only booming industry. I was like an unpaid professional mourner. It was unusual for a week to go by without one funeral. There were many, many weeks with two or three. When I wasn't being the preacher's kid, sitting with the kitchen ladies at the back of the church, I was hanging out with the florist's daughter. We would load flowers and drive like hell to beat the hearse from the church to the grave and arrange the flowers around the hole in the ground.

My dad always got some of his best stories and jokes during rides in the hearse with the funeral directors. None of these people or situations were disrespectful of death or of the grief of the family. They weren't quiet and mysterious about it either. These experiences gave me a freedom of mind to be able to appreciate what might otherwise be macabre and taboo.

When I was in Jr. High I lived in a town which was planned and plotted by a wack-o genius multi-millionaire. His mansion had been turned into the local funeral home. It was a wonderful old house and of course my dad knew the funeral director. We took some friends over there one night to tour the place. The director was gone and had left his new apprentice in charge. There were no bodies there at the time, of course. The apprentice greeted us and when Dad explained that we'd come to tour the house (this was a common practice in the town - honest - everybody did it at least once) he thought it should be a full-service affair. He showed us the house. The entire house. I learned all about embalming that night.

It wasn't weird, it wasn't gross. It was just a young guy who enjoyed his work and wanted to share his interests with other people. He was respectful, enthusiastic and damn-well informative.

I've never pulled the wings off of flies or been mean to animals. (Well, ok. There was that kid next door that used to hang out at our house and we pulled the stingers off the ants. Several times. I remember sitting on the edge of the bathroom sink, crying. My mom was doctoring my hands and knees and not for the first time. I remember her being a bit ticked and telling me to knock it off with the ants because she wasn't going to fix this particular self-inflicted boo-boo again.) I don't listen to death rock or wonder about suicide. I'd be a damn good funeral director but I don't want to learn embalming.

All of these experiences and others have taken some of the mystery of death away. That gives me freedom to go places and see things that I might otherwise fear. Cemeteries are mystical places for me. There is a heavy peace to them. Not heavy like a burden, but palpable. You can almost touch the calm. You can almost see the quiet. Cemeteries are contemplative places. They are the closest we come, in this part of the world, to the ruins of great cathedrals or monasteries or other such places.

And for me, navel gazing and contemplating always leads to some sort of irreverent wickedness. I began to see the odd and the funny in these places. I appreciate the beauty, I revel in the solitude, but I love the humor. Jackson and I may be the only ones who finds these things funny, but at least we entertain ourselves.

My step-daughter's mother died last week. As we drove into the cemetery after the funeral, Jackson sighed and said "I suspect we'll be coming here quite often from now on." I didn't say anything. Then he laughed and said "What am I worried about? You are the one person in the world who won't mind!"

If you have time, check out the link on the sidebar to the Afterlife. This photographer sees cemeteries the way I do. His pictures are incredible. Some of the effects are a little hokey, but some are really good. This is the music that plays in my head when I visit a cemetery.

Friday Cemetery Blogging


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