Thursday, April 30, 2015

...Nature with a bit of philosophy, poetry, and a picnic...

This month Professor Z’s assignment is a focused on NATURE. I love being in nature and consider my small backyard garden the best *room in the house*. I grew up reading The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. In undergrad, I learned about the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber and read his book I and Thou. It still resonates with me today. Buber explains that humans find meaningfulness through our relationships and all of our relationships bring us ultimately in a relationship with the Eternal Thou, God.  There are two ways of existing: I-It and I-Thou. In the I-Thou experience we relate to each other as authentic beings. I meet you as you are and you meet me as who I am. The I-It experience is the opposite in that we relate to one another as objects, completely outside of ourselves. I point this out because Buber used the example of a tree. At the time I recall thinking how perfect that example was. Some people don’t really look at trees. They know that they’re there but they aren’t interested in having a relationship with a tree. Having an I-Thou connection with a tree brings us closer to God because they, like us, are part of the universe and that’s pretty darn magical. I remember a professor explaining that God was in the hyphen. When you connect with another or connect with Nature, it was I-(God)-You. I always liked that especially when it comes to trees... and maybe the Iris blooms in my parents' yard.

Grass  ~ Carl Sandburg

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.

Shovel them under and let me work—

I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg

And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.

Shovel them under and let me work.

Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:

What place is this?

Where are we now?

I am the grass.

Let me work.

This time of year, I’m ALWAYS out in my garden. While I’ve always had allergies, I’ve never minded sniffing here and there to have my windows open and my face in the flowers. But, this spring has been different; I’ve been pretty darn ill nearly the entire month of April. First a virus and allergies and now just allergies… but today… TODAY! I cut the grass in my backyard. It wasn’t pretty y’all and I won’t describe how I looked any more than to mention that I had tissues tucked in my nostrils. But the grass was taking my backyard back to nature so before I went to the third doctor’s appointment of the month I got to work. That’s when I realized, “hey! I must be feeling better”… and I am. Just in time too! Today, my azaleas started to bloom. I’ve been bud-watching for days and this morning POP here they are.

"The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way.  Some see nature all ridicule and deformity . . . and some scarce see nature at all.  But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself." ~ William Blake

The tree pollen has been very, very high reads my weather app which I already knew anyway because the trees were moving me to allergy-induced tears. Their beauty makes it worth it. I took a picture of this tree in a friend’s yard last week. 

This weekend I'm thrilled that I will be able to attend the Hollywood Cemetery Picnic.

Monday, April 27, 2015

..."I can see you're out of aces" in Metairie Cemetery...

Continuing with  my adventure of Metairie Cemetery, one of the city’s largest and most historic cemeteries, I was quite fond of the J.V. Harrington tomb, which belongs to the notorious New Orleans gambler, Joseph V. "Neversmile" Harrington who passed in 1924. Apparently he had quite the poker face.   

This tomb includes a bronze woman grieving and placing roses at the entrance. 

Apparently the judge handling the estate did not approve of the lavish tomb’s expense stating that it did not match the size of Harrington's estate. Of course, Harrington’s wife did not delay the construction. Considering she had been married to a gambler, she simply paid for the tomb in cash. 

It's been fun researching the gravestones and mausoleums that I photographed for their beauty while strolling through the cemetery. I had no idea who these markers belonged to at the time. 

Over the last few weeks, I've felt that my excursion simply wasn't enough. I needed more time to see the cemeteries in New Orleans. And, I was so hurried with the conference and other events that I didn't even have time to stroll about and go shopping. So I've decided that my voodoo curse/ cough aka allergies needs to clear up in the next 22 days. Why? Oh because I've decided that I need to return once again to The Big Easy.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

...another list and the Liebster...

Lucretia at Lucretia’s Reflection also nominated me for the Liebster Award and while I still won’t follow the rules, I love to answer surveys. Plus, some of her questions made me giggle.

Questions for [Her] Nominees:

1.  When and why did you start blogging?
I answered this in my post reply to Sylvie but I’ll change my focus slightly here. I started THIS blog (as opposed to answering about blogging in general) as a way to *take back the fun of blogging*. My other blog that has been going on much longer than this one is research-related and connected to my job. It isn’t that I hated blogging over there but it had become tainted in the way that things become tainted when you use them to escape. Read that as I was in a bad marriage and while I often have tendencies of being a workaholic, I had started using work and blogging as a way to fill my life. When I separated and then later divorced, I had avoided my blog because it felt tainted. I needed a way to remember what I loved about blogging—the community collaboration, the people, etc.
Simultaneously, I had a friend ask if I was still a Writer (as opposed to a writer). Nope, I wasn’t (except when I’m sick I do enjoy writing ridiculous Haiku).  She encouraged me and here we are.

2.  Do you have pets?  If so, how many and what are they?  (This does not include spouses or significant others.)
Yes and yes. My fella came with a 13-year-old cat so I’m a cat stepmom. But, my late pup who passed on 7/12/05 will forever be my best friend. His name is Aslan. I did not name him; he was an ex-boyfriend’s dog who came to me by a stroke of fate. He saved my life. When he passed, the last thing I whispered to him aside from “I love you” is “You be the first”; this was important because I wanted him to know that in the Afterlife, I want him to rush ahead of all others and greet me first. He will forever be my best friend.

3.  If you were stranded for a year on a desert island, what band would you want to be stranded with you?
Maybe Echo & The Bunnymen because Ian McCulloch just keeps getting hotter and hotter… but then is this a tropical island? He might be a sweaty mess if it’s too warm. In the end, it’s probably best for me to be alone humming to myself.

4.  What is the most important thing in your purse (or pockets, if you don't carry one)?
I’d like to say my 1920's vintage coffin shaped dance compact purse with a mesh wristlet because it’s probably my favorite thing in my purse BUT the most important thing is probably lip gloss because I can’t go anywhere without it. It’s a requirement since my medication makes me lips dry.

5.  What city do you consider to be "home", and why?

Richmond, VA… in a ten year period, I moved fourteen times and always ended up returning to the greater Richmond area. I love the climate, the people (for the most part) and the history of the land. It’s also one of the northern-most Southern cities so it’s Southern without too many cra-crazs.

6.  Who is your favorite author?
I guess Richard Matheson because of the breadth of work but Stoker is who I return to annually just for Dracula. And I do like my Southern Gothic and my Victorian lady-writers so… this is never a simple answer.  

7.  What item of clothing do you own the most of, and how many do you have?

I’m not sure. Probably black jackets—like a variety of business suit. Maybe 30?

8.  If you were a vehicle, what would you be?

1957 Studebaker Silver Hawk

9.  Can you name the person who originally said the (misquoted) title of this post, and the reason s/he said it?  (Yes, this is a silly trivia question!)
Sally Field… she was my celebrity look-alike when she and I were younger. I guess I looked like Gidget.
10.  What is your ideal social event?  (It does not have to be one already in existence, you can invent it.)
Something outdoors… maybe an annual event at  a cemetery.

11.  If you could say/do whatever you wanted to people who make fun of or criticize you for being different from them, no holds barred, what would it be?
Nothing different than I already do which is simply feel sorry for them. Dr. Seuss taught me “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” The best response I can have is to be polite and walk away. The individual being mean probably doesn’t have much in his or her life. I love my life and I am who I am.

Friday, April 24, 2015

...a visit to a historically significant yet infrequently visited cemetery in New Orleans...

This cemetery was originally opened by Charity hospital in 1848 and was known as Potter’s Field since it was historically used for the poor, unclaimed bodies and those suffering from various epidemics (e.g. yellow fever). These individuals were brought to Charity to be buried in unmarked graves and at times of great illness that overtook the city, the individuals were buried in mass graves. Estimates vary about how many are actually buried here. The range includes between 100,000 and 150,000 souls. This is also one of the few New Orleans cemeteries where all are buried underground, as opposed to above ground mausoleums.

Similar to how Odd Fellows Rest could have ended up part of the highway, Charity Hospital could have ended up as part of a large bus stop. Thankfully, the city planners changed their minds.

Four years after the hurricane, the Katrina Memorial was built on the site of this hospital. With this addition, Charity Hospital now includes several tombs, which hold the remains of those individuals who were not identified from the hurricane in 2005. The Memorial includes a much-too-shiny monument that I would argue wasn’t thought through very well. New Orleans is sunny. Shiny things are a bit difficult to read and capture in photos! Alas, it is lovely, and it is surrounded by a circular path that appears to resemble the movement of a hurricane.

The marker reads: "This cemetery was purchased by Charity Hospital in 1848 and was originally known as Potter's Field.  It has historically been used to bury the unclaimed from throughout the city including the victims of several Yellow Fever and influenza epidemics.  The ashes of those who have donated their remains to the Louisiana State Anatomical Board for medical education are buried here, also.  Charity Hospital Cemetery is one of the most historically significant, yet least known, among New Orleans' famous Cities of the Dead."

Aside from the monument being so shiny, another drawback is that there isn’t shade for those who would like to sit on the benches and reflect or pray. Of course I understand how both are aesthetically appropriate for such a memorial.