Tuesday, June 30, 2015

... a DC adventure, Rock Creek Cemetery & a quick look at Rabboni (then run! She's scary y'all!)...

I’m not even sure where to start. A few weeks ago I discovered J. W. Ocker’s OTIS (Odd Things I’ve Seen) blog. Then I bought his book Poe-Land: The Hallowed Haunts of Edgar Allan Poe. The travelogue of the author’s year-long journey to monuments and sites associated with the author even won a 2015 *Edgar Award*. Because I live in the Greater Richmond area AND I even lived in Massachusetts, and I have also been to Poe’s Baltimore museum, I thought it would be fun to read the book. Plus, I really enjoy travelogue-style books and the author’s voice is more like a friend showing you the sites.

On his blog, I stumbled upon the post Skip the Washington Monument: Rock Creek Cemetery and decided that I was going to make a trip there…since my university isn’t that far away.

So today after my morning meeting (three hours in for an hour ½ meeting with three hours home), I was determined despite the morning downpour to make it out to Rock Creek Cemetery. I found a cemetery map online via the cemetery’s parish website (follow the previous link) as well as a list of famous grave markers and famous residents include a Chief Justice, diplomats, generals, a mayor, Alexander Graham Bell’s father, Wonderbread “baking innovator”, author Upton Sinclair which I didn’t get to see because I didn’t make it to that section, and Rosalie Mackenzie Poe the little sister of E. A. Poe.

“St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Rock Creek Cemetery is Washington’s oldest church and cemetery” reads the sign. The sign then points to the front of the cemetery. I had taken the metro to about one mile of the cemetery where I walked through a public park where I was hit on by a guy whom I could have easily been his mother. It was the kind of walk that I haven’t had in twenty years or so. Exit the metro, walk in the direction of your map that you can’t take out of your bag because it will pinpoint you aren’t from the area and inappropriately and uncomfortably be told how sexy you look. Yeah, yeah, yeah… it was 90 degrees and sunny. I was not looking sexy but sweaty… because I used to live in the city I know to keep walking (no need to tell him to go Fuck Himself because there was no one around who could come to my rescue and he was bigger than I am). Walk and talk… don’t be rude and change the subject. In fact, I hijacked the conversation because we were walking (or I was walking and he was following me to the point that I wouldn’t let him stand behind me) by some community gardens. He asked my name. I didn’t lie. What was the point? He told me his name was John. So John was asked if he liked sunflowers (because that was what was growing) if he gardened, where he worked, why he was walking the way I was, where he was going, if he enjoyed the hot weather, if he thought it was going to rain today…. You get the drift. I, in my Southern-as-they-come charm, would not let him continue flirting or asking any questions. He was interviewed and when we reached the edge of the park where the roads met, he went one way and I went the other. Bonus: I’m a fast walker considering I’m usually shorter than most folks and my dad is not Southern so we have never strolled; we walk! Of course then I received no fewer than six catcalls and whistles from work vehicles. Where the hell was I? Aside: my hair was in two poofs on my head so I resembled Minnie Mouse more than anything else… and I wore a plain black dress that was almost to my knee… and I always wear a bitchy face because that’s what my face does! Anyhow, this is supposed to be a post about a cemetery but after reaching the cemetery I actually had to walk the entire parameter of it just to reach an open entrance. “This better be worth it,” I muttered to myself. And it was!

Rock Creek Cemetery was first established in 1719 as a churchyard and was later (1840) expanded as a public cemetery to serve the city. The expanded area was landscaped in the rural garden style so that it was not only a cemetery but a public park as well. My first mistake was noting that the cemetery is 86 acres with rolling hills. I immediately thought that Hollywood Cemetery is 130 acres with rolling hills and I walk that all the time so 86 acres seemed like no big deal. I forgot that I’ve been walking Hollywood since I was a teenager so I know the cemetery like the back of my hand. I know when to speed up a hill and when to slow down. I didn’t have any of this landscape awareness when it came to Rock Creek. I was already a bit tuckered from racing-there-from-the-metro- with-concerns-that-I-could-be-knocked-on-my-head-and- left-in-a-ditch journey (and it didn’t even seem like it was a bad area! It looked pretty suburban.)  I was not prepared to cover the entire cemetery… and I did not. I saw what I really wanted to see and much more. There were parts that I missed too. What I had wanted to see was the Clover Adams Memorial which I looked for but couldn't find...which was disappointing because it is huge! Now I just read that it is surrounded by shrubbery and out of view from the surrounding gravesites. Bah! Next time.

Sculpture at a distance! (left of Force marker)
Since I’m tuckered from today’s adventures, I’m going to only focus on one statue because she scared the crap out of me. I swear standing face-to-face with her, it looked like her eyeballs moved! I’m not kidding. I took some pictures and thanked her (like I always do to inanimate objects within the cemetery whispering thank you and excusing myself) and backed away. That’s right… I sort of backed away and then walked and over my shoulder it appeared that she was reaching for me to come back. She was that creepy.

The creepy statue in question is a public artwork by American artist Gutzon Borglum created in bronze in 1909.  The sculpture depicts Mary Magdalene emerging from an alcove after Jesus Christ has risen from his tomb. This was a tribute to prominent Washington banker and tapestry collector Charles Matthews Ffoulke. "Rabboni" (the Hebrew form of rabbi) was surveyed as part of the Smithsonian Save Outdoor Sculpture survey in 1993.

Look how real her eyes appear! :-/

Monday, June 29, 2015

... recent burst of activities and shopping finds...

Scotch broom back upright & new Owl art on fence

My fella headed out to his gaming group so despite the future Kindle recommendation consequences I downloaded Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny by Holly Madison, made a cocktail, popped in a frozen pizza and sat out in my secret garden.  It’s been a very busy few days.

beautiful access panel :D
after I cut the drywall
Yesterday I was like the energizer bunny. We headed over to my fella’s house to meet an electrician at 8am. The electrician installed three lights which made me fussy because I totally could have done the job. Mind you it would have taken me much longer but just like when I installed a dimmer switch in my dining nook, once you learn how to do something you feel totally confident in doing it again.  He did FINALLY let me install an access panel over a jagged hole that had been left by a previous repairman. Mind you it was behind the refrigerator but still it needed to be fixed. I filed away at drywall until I was able to place a small access panel within the wall. It turned out great! After that, we purchased appliances, hauled stuff from his house to the dump, up-righted the scotch broom which fell during a storm, destroyed a wasp nest, secured the large butterfly bush just in case of another storm, pruned the backyard, set up the new owl art, pruned the side and front yard gardens, set up a contraptions to secure the hibiscus in front, side and backyards against storm/wind damage, weeded backyard, set up a contraption to further secure the pumpkin patch, sprayed for bugs, and then hosed down the patio.
Local artist's work "Snack Time"

I just had to :D
I realize I’m going backwards in time but I have to point out that while my weekend did include a ton of work around the house and errands, it also included a great deal of fun including lunch and shopping with Connie and her daughter on Thursday, and then thrifting/oddity shopping/ supporting local artists on Saturday with my fella’s colleague and her daughter. We all came away with some amazing finds!They even took home an antique child's coffin!
Oddfellows Ritual Box! Score!!!
Goodwill $12 find!

Headed to work tomorrow and if the weather cooperates, I may try to sneak over to a cemetery. We’ll see.Tonight, I'm headed to bed with my book. I am tuckered.

Crow yard art

Friday, June 26, 2015

...the truth behind the Unhappy Hour…

I can’t recall when the first Unhappy Hour at the Poe Museum began. I’ve been going to the museum to lend support as a patron for as long as I can remember and I was even a volunteer in the mid-1990s when I was in undergrad. Back then I think of the museum as being a bit pretentious and that could be partly because of the director. My last volunteering activity was a special impersonation event held on the campus of VCU. My then boyfriend/later first husband helped me, as I was the actual volunteer, set up all of the chairs and tables for the event. When it started, I stood in the back with some other volunteers and he sat in a chair. The event was crowded and the director had the nerve to ask me to make him stand. He wasn’t a volunteer! He was planning to attend the event just like anyone else but then got roped into helping out. That was kind of how the volunteers were treated back then. I quit on the spot. I didn’t make a big deal out of it. I walked over to my boyfriend and said we were going. They got their chair and lost a volunteer.

I didn’t stay away from the museum for long since it apparently has had a history of turnover and I believe in the outlast-outplay motto (Thank you Survivor Season 1). But until the last decade, I wasn’t a frequent patron of the Poe Museum… which is a shame because people like me really are their target audience.

With friends in 2009- the effects of a night vision camera??? hmm
I’ve been attending Poe birthday events quite regularly now for nearly a decade including the 2009 bicentennial birthday bash which included a midnight champagne toast at the Poe shrine and a Victorian séance at 2 am! The séance was intended to be fake, meaning it included actors, which isn’t exactly how it was advertised but I’m sure most people assumed it to be that way… but not my friends and me! We thought it was going to be legit. It was ridiculous and I recall my friends and me laughing at it… but the joke was on us because we kept returning to the museum. Sometimes ridiculous things are terribly fun.

Heading out! 
The beginning of the Unhappy Hour events was pretty much the same. My friends and I would go to support the museum and watch bad poetry or lackluster events. At some point, I convinced my fella to go even though he had heard all my lame stories. When we arrived there was a canopy with catered food underneath; there was a band; there were scheduled readings and a performance. *That* was the turning point. He was puzzled why I would ever think anything so neat would be considered lame and he has never truly believed me when I tried to explain that they used to be.

Unhappy Hours have gotten better and better… and need I say that last night’s was the best one yet! The music was great; the food was amazing; the acting was silly but appreciated; the exhibit included a portrait of Poe painted in blood. What more could a gothy girl want?!?

2013 hearse car show
The evening started when I found a great parking spot—just a block away which was perfect because when it started to pour within an hour I was able to run to my car and grab an umbrella (since most of the Unhappy Hour takes place in the garden). I walked up hearing the band playing. The Embalmers are a Richmond band who plays surf rock. I found from their website that they were formed in 2013 to play at the Virginia Haunt Fest Party. This is where things in my life are all starting to connect. I actually saw The Embalmers play in July 2013 at a hearse car show (and blood drive). Oddly enough that event included the Journey Trails Haunt Attractions’ the “Last Ride” which was a casket simulator. Yeah, I did NOT try it out. When I looked at the flyer (because isn’t Facebook an excellent scrapbook/ virtual graveyard of yester years), the hearse car show was supported by the Central Virginia Haunters and The Red Vein Army which just happens to be a group that sponsors/set up the RVA Horror Book Club that I’m in. Even one of the members of The Embalmers is in the book club. I suppose I’m super slow although I’ve only attended one meeting with him so I’m not that fussy with myself for not making all of the connections.

The fact is I’m so used to the spooky stuff being packed away (like Pier 1 had packed up their Halloween merchandise two weeks before the holiday last year!) that I suppose I haven’t noticed that the Greater Richmond area is changing and embracing its spookiness! I mean… in small steps because there probably aren’t that many of us. In fact, at Unhappy Hour a few Haunters showed up including some members of the book club. One of the Haunters and I were chatting and it turns out that he was at the hearse car show… so I have known these folks for a while without even realizing it.

I have to point out before any of this chitchatting/ sit-back-and-enjoy-music happened, I immediately spotted deviled eggs and got in line to try out Southern Kitchen: Mouth of the South’s food.  Holy moly! Those deviled eggs were divine… the pimento cheese YUM! That with a glass of pinot grigio pretty much made the perfect evening. 

Well, you know what they say…

Eat, Drink and Be Scary for tomorrow we shall die ^o^