Dead Relative Tour 2009

I love cemeteries. They have so many interesting things to see. Here is a smattering of them:

I plan to be cremated, but if I were buried, the last thing I would want is this heavy slab on top of me.

No, not that Jimi Hendrix

“Is that a…?” “I think it might be….It is a coyote in an urban cemetery!”

The whole road through the cemetery is lined with these highly pruned holly trees. I kind of like their super structure.


I took this picture just to hear Matt say their name with a German accent.
Which he did without prompting.
I know him well.

Either Mrs. or Miss Fenstermacher was a member of the Wahkeena Chapter of the DAR.

Oftentimes it is fun to say the names on the gravestone. Say it with me: “Slack.” I also like Mrs. Slack’s name: Nettie Elnora.

I was surprised by the very Disney looking Bambi carving on this stone, but this must have been before Disney started cracking down on its copyright. Or maybe they had a whole line of Disney themed gravestones? That wouldn’t surprise me.

Poor Leo. It looks like Mrs. Schlesinger found another place to rest her head. Also, I like the simple flower carvings and the font.

The section of the cemetery we visit has more than a few abandoned husbands. Mr. Van Winkle is not going to wake up from this nap.

These are fake flowers, but I did check to see who had this grave. Most of the graves in the section we go to aren’t very decorated.

It turned out to be a baby’s grave. Those are always sad, but someone hasn’t forgotten this child.

I can never resist taking pictures of the mausoleum where my Great Uncle Tom is. Swinging early 70s meets quasi religious touches meets a TON of artificial flowers.

Marble AND a brass chainmail curtain? I love it!

“We’re not religious, but we will throw some stained glass up for those of you who are.”

Different cemetery: The MAunts (looking more and more like my grandparents every day) decorating Grandma and Grandpa’s grave.

My Grandparents’ view.

The only problem with cremation is you don’t get a gravestone. They always look so nice to me.

Their neighbor

I initially stopped because I liked their last name because it reminded me of the nursery rhyme.

But I liked what they had carved on their gravestone. For Jean: wife, mother, teacher.

For George: Father, Musician, Horseman. (I’m trying not to be annoyed that he hasn’t listed “husband” to go with his partners “wife,” because overall, I like the concept.)

It is back to the bus mall!

This is the last weekend I will catch the bus on Third or Fourth avenues. Very soon, the bus stops will move back where they belong: on the bus mall. There will be a summer of “only” buses, cars, pedestrians, then in August and September the new Max lines will also join the cars and bikes and buses on the “transit mall.” We shall see how that goes. At any rate, I’ll be glad to be back on the mall. The sight lines are much better there.

The song I can’t get out of my head right now.

This came about because I wanted to hear the song “I do” by J. Giles Band. When seized by this desire of late, I have taken to finding the song on YouTube. If there isn’t an official video there, someone has done their own mediocre slide show/video that I can not watch while still hearing the song. While listening to “I Do,” I stumbled across someone’s 80’s play list and it was quite good. I YouTube spiraled for a bit until I stumbled across this song.

Reading the title, I thought to myself “I have no idea what John Couger Mellencamp song this is.” I hit play and dimly from the back crannies of my mind remembered it from so long ago. And bam! Stuck in my head. I really like the lyrics, though. In a sparse song way, they rightly capture young love and all its fumblings

Three sentence movie reviews–Wolverine

This movie was a hot mess which gave me time to contemplate many things including: why did Liev Schreiber torture himself with the bulking up and the high protein diet when he wears an overcoat for 98% of the movie? And: Could a movie as cool as Star Trek be made if the male-to-female ratio was reversed? That’s right, I was contemplating gender theory of an entirely different movie, which means that this movie is a waste of time.

Bechdel score: Two women: nope.

My first fully “read” audiobook: Th1rteen R3asons Why.

Audio books aren’t my thing. For me, the act of reading has to involve my eye moving over a page of some sort. I don’t count audio books as reading and I’m a bit of a snob about it. For me, reading is the one thing in my life that I do by itself. When I’m reading, I ‘m not watching television, or washing the dishes or cleaning, it is just me and the book, on the couch, relaxing (or on the train, or waiting for an appointment, etc.) Smoking used to provide that time for me in my life, the do-nothing time, but I’ve sacrificed that vice for my health. I sill miss the not-doing time. There is no way I’m going to take time away from do-nothing reading time and replace it with do-something audio book time.

I don’t think I’ve ever voluntarily started an audio book, but this one came recommended by An Embarrassment of Riches, which is a blog written by our librarians. Because of the like in the post, I was under the impression (misguided, as it turned out) that the book only came in Audio book form. Plus, it was the dreaded spring pledge drive and I had cooking to do. One can only listen to so many hours of reasons why you should support OBP (and you should, don’t get me wrong. And I do.) So away we went into audio book land.

So Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, is probably a really good audio book. The premise is that a teenager finds a package addressed to him containing seven audio cassette tapes. When he plays the first one (in the garage because the old stereo in the shop area is the only one with a tape player) he hears the voice of Hannah Baker, the girl who committed suicide two weeks prior. She explains that there are thirteen reasons why she ended her life, and each one is a person. Each side of a tape discusses one of the thirteen people and every person who received the package must listen to all of the tapes and then send them to the next person on the list. If they do not do this, then the tapes will be released in a very public way.

So wow, good premise. And good reading by the two actors who played Clay and Hannah. Maybe a little too good. They perfectly captured the adolescent angst of both teenagers, with Debra Wiseman particularly hitting the mark of Hannah. Aaaaaand that was the problem. Hannah Baker drove me crazy. By person/reason four all I could think was “Seriously? You ended your life because of this? There better be something really good later on, because this isn’t cutting it.” I think if I had been reading the book, the voice I supplied for Hannah would not have been as grating. Debra hit her mark, alright, but the sarcasm/angst/anger level she hit was hard to listen to for six hours, even if it did feel authentic.

One of my fellow workers actually read this book recently, no foolin‘, because her 12 year old daughter read it and told her mother she must read it, it was such a good book. The fellow worker correctly summed it up as, “entirely unfulfilling for adults because there is no adult translation of those very strong adolescent feelings. They are just very present.” And that was what drove me crazy. Still, I kept listening, at first to see what number the main character was, and later because I couldn’t stop. There is something fascinating about listening to a voice from beyond the grave, especially if that voice is explaining why she is now beyond the grave.

In book form, I probably would have consumed this in a day. In audio book form it took me about a week, which gave me more time to think about different parts of the story. When it was all over, I still wished I had read the book.

Civics test

This post has been hanging around since January!

Always one for a good test, I took the American Civics Literacy Test back on January 26. There are 33 questions and the header for the test proclaims “OUR FADING HERITAGE.” As a certified Social Studies Teacher, a proud American, a History Major, I can tell you that it is important that people know the items on this test.

I was gunning for 100%, but only got 28 of 33 correct. That gave me an 84.85%–I love that they give your score to the hundredths place–which wasn’t as fabulous as I wanted it to be, but better than the average score of 73.8%.

Aside from testing you on knowledge I find important to know, you will receive an email with your results, what questions you missed and their answers and also a link so you can see how citizens and elected officials scored on each question. Answer: not as well as the citizens.

I missed the following questions: 7, 13, 15, 29 and 33. Can you do better?

Three sentence movie reviews: Star Trek

I’m a minor consumer of the Star Trek franchise, which means I saw that movie where they saved the whales and a few episodes of the original series. I didn’t expect to love this movie, but I did! The first scene choked me up, the majority of the rest had me alternately smiling, laughing out loud, peeking through my fingers, or jumping in my seat; I can’t ask for more than a movie like this.

Bechdel rating: The movie has two women. Yep. Who talk to each other. Not really.

Leverage filming here. Lucky us.

In walking to school from the Max, I cross a parking lot and the attendant and I have our friendly morning wave. This morning, the parking lot was packed. I was puzzled, until I walked by the next parking lot I encountered and remembered that the TV show Leverage is filming here. These trailers for the production were taking up two parking lots, forcing the usual parkers into the first lot.
I know little about the show, aside from the fact that all the press releases state that it stars “Oscar winner Timothy Hutton.” To me, the fact that they have to advertise that Timothy Hutton is an Oscar winner doesn’t really scream, “I want to spend my time watching it.”

Here, they have commandeered the parking lot nearest to my school.
One of my favorite thing about movie/TV crews is their self importance. More than once, I’ve been walking down the street, headed toward my intended destination and had someone with a walkie talkie and a tool belt tell me in an arrogant tone that I will have to walk a different way “because we are filming.” Once, I had to circumnavigate an entire city block to get into the library because their “filming” was much more important than my returning my books.

This crew was no different. Every morning, from 9:45-10:15, the children at my school go into the North Park Blocks for “Morning Movement” which is a large motor movement P.E. thing that the teachers run. This morning was no different except that not one, but two teachers were approached by crew members asking them to keep the children quiet because there was “filming going on.” Seriously?


Houses and Plans

I first noticed this house when it was being renovated. It is a huge and beautiful house with a huge and beautiful double lot. I had plans to buy it and take in foster children and we would have a huge garden. They would learn self-sufficiency skills, I would get to run a large household–without giving birth to any children, the house would be full of life and all would be right with the world. Alas, it seems they are dividing the lot and putting in more houses. I’m a fan of infill, just not sometimes when it keeps me from double lots where I could have a stupendous garden.