Visiting the Dead People

Dear Liza,

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Lone Fir Cemetery in the afternoon light

This afternoon Auntie Bridgett and I went for a walk to the Lone Fir Cemetery. We got sad news earlier this week, that the wonderful “Tour of Untimely Departures”, a rare night time, storied tour through our lovely pioneer cemetery, would not be held this year. It takes too much staff and too many resources. I am so glad we went last year or we would have missed it forever!

So we went to say hello to the dead people during the daytime. It was before dinner, and the sun was low, but still bright. I showed Auntie Bridgett where the sweet chestnut tree is, and while we were admiring the squirrels’ good work at cleaning out every single prickly shell, an elderly oriental man came by, gathering the horse chestnuts. He said they are good boiled or cooked over the grill, but I am still not convinced.

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Giant spreading Chestnut tree

We wandered around, appreciating the stories the headstones tell. The art and symbols, some over 100 years old, are beautiful even in decay. Weeping willows show peaceful rest, a drape over a stone urn shows separation between the living and the dead. Clasped hands mean a final farewell.

There was a stone showing a couple, Doll and Elton Mack Phillips, with a charming line drawing of them between their names, with their “sunrise” and “sunset” dates. I would have liked to have known them, I think. They look like fun. img_0913.jpg

We saw a long narrow stone that had been there so long the letters were perfectly filled in with moss, but no dates or details. Just “Smallbone”. That will take some researching.

We saw the headstone of Victor Hugo O’Rourke, a cook in the 65th Regiment of the Coast Artillery Corps. He died in 1918. His name makes me think his mother was a French Literature teacher and his father an Irishman. But my imagination sometimes runs away with me.img_0925.jpg

And then this bronze marker caught our eye because it was so detailed and crowded with symbols. Mr. William Scott died in 1901 at the age of 46. According to his bronze marker, he was a Knight Templar. But the Knights Templar went inactive after most of them were massacred by Pope Clement V in 1312. On the other side of the marker was a large anchor and rope with a shield and the letters. A.O.U.W., which stand for The Ancient Order of United Workmen, a branch of the Masonic Organization. This man obviously had a full life and a community that must have mourned his passing.img_0926.jpg

 

As always, we came away from Lone Fir rested and with a sense of perspective that sometimes gets lost while staring at screens in research or learning to use new equipment. Knowing that we all will go someday allows us to see each day as a gift rather than a chore.

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

 

Halloweening

Dear Liza,

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Spooky crows at sunset

Things are really getting ready for Halloween up here! People are decorating their lawns and porches with graveyards, skeletons and big spiders. It is a nice blend of creepy and friendly….Not “Come get scared”, but “Come get scary with us!” The yards look good during the day, and I look forward to walking out after dark to see how they are lit up.

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Front yard grave yard
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Mr. and Mrs. James Stephens, who owned the cemetery first

Besides neighborhoods pretending to be graveyards, there is our actual graveyard, The Lone Fir Cemetery. They gave a delightful, strictly once a year after dark tour, called The Tour of Untimely Departures. A group of volunteers called The Friends of Lone Fir Cemetery put luminarias along the main roads of the cemetery and guide groups through, with people playing the deceased and telling us their stories of life and dead.

No one jumps out or tries to scare you, but the stories all ended badly, or they wouldn’t be on the tour….Untimely departures, in this case, means they died before their time.

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Professor Van Allsburg

After visiting the dead folks at Lone Fir, we came home and got dressed up for a Halloween Party given by our friends, Jack and Verity. We were all professors: Grandpa Nelson was The Idea Guy, Doctor of Smartness; Auntie Bridgett was Dr. I.E. Plinth, history of art, from Slug University; I was Dr. Beverly Pilkey Van Allsburg, Professor of Kid Lit. At the party we met Beetlejuice, Arthur Dent and a random alien lady, Pocilanus Rex, demon pig god, and many more characters. It was great fun and we stayed very late.

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Idea Guy

The next day we slept in because of our late night. But when I was ready to face the world, Auntie Katie called and suggested we meet at Mt. Tabor and go for a walk in the woods there. I took at #15 east and got off at exactly the opposite end of the park, so I had a good long walk before we got together, but the forest was so beautiful, I didn’t mind.

 

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Dr. Plinth

When we met up we had a snack picnic under a laurel tree, found a drained reservoir and practiced our echos, and gathered rose hips and lemon balm for making tea. Then it was time to head home. We met up with Grandpa Nelson at Fifty Licks Ice Cream for a treat, then got home to watch the Astros win a game of the world series with a bunch of home runs.

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Cousins in the woods!

What a weekend!

Love,

Grandma Judy