Tuesday, June 28, 2016

...a custodian of black spinel, jet, and other shiny jewels...

 “I’ve never thought of my jewelry as trophies.
I’m here to take care of it and to love it,
for we are only temporary custodians of beauty.”
~Elizabeth Taylor
I like purchases that lead back to me somehow blaming my fella. You see, he’s actually the one who got me to purchase jewelry from the television and online. I’m not sure why I had not considered it before; I mean, it was safer back then but I was not being a snob thinking, “oh, one shouldn’t (fill in the blank)”… it honestly had not dawned on me that that would be a *good idea*. Of course, my savings account doesn't consider it a good idea now.

This story begins in the same way many of my stories about my fella begin: he was annoyed with something. In this story, he was annoyed with how much he paid to the cable company so he cut his cable to opt for all the zillion other services he now pays into to rent television shows. He cut cable and then when he sat down to drink and watch mindless television, it wasn’t there… except for a local community channel and JTV (Jewelry Television). Somehow his mindless watching became amusing and on many Saturday nights when we were drinking and talking and laughing, we also opted to watch JTV. They have a nice collection of black diamonds, onyx and hello Black Spinel

Spinel comes in a range of colors with black being the rarest. It is often considered the "great imposter" gemstone since they are mistaken for more *precious* gemstones. The Black Prince's Ruby and the "Timur ruby”, considered to be the largest known ruby in the world, in the British Crown Jewels are actually spinels.

Spinel encourages passion and increases the duration of one’s life. See, I’m getting younger just wearing them ;) Black Spinel is said to ameliorate sadness, help resolve issues, and re-establish relationships. It is also considered a protective stone.

What I like about buying rings from JTV is that they’re usually made of silver so they’re at a lower cost. This way, I can mix and match my daily look.

While I was happily buying Black Spinel, one day I came across the W. Hamond Whitby Jet on their site. Okay, so since I explained Black Spinel, let me give a brief history of Jet. 

I feel like I could be dramatic with this sentence—over a million years ago, there was a tree somewhat like today’s Monkey Puzzle. It has fossilized and formed a blackness so intense that we say “jet black” as an expression, and so shiny that it could be used as a mirror. *swoon* Jet could be considered the world’s most gothiest stone since it was a popular go-to for mourning jewelry. The gothiest of them all, Queen Victoria wore Jet throughout her life after her precious fella passed. And, of course, Whitby Jet is supposed to be the best quality of Jet… and hello, the Dracula connection!

Back to my accidental JTV find-- What in the world?!? It was the pendant of the upside down bat with Whitby Jet eyes. The best part is that JTV often runs a 20% off everything sale so I scored my bat pendant and necklace for nearly $70 cheaper (by today’s conversion rates but we know what happened to the British £ recently so it was closer to $100 last year… sorry y’all). 

I almost feel a bit bad writing about the price since this piece was a MILLION YEARS in the making! Wow, I enable myself.

Right now, JTV doesn’t have any of W. Hamond’s Gothic collection but they do pieces if you want to look around.

Loving my bat pendant for a little over a year now, I kept itching for the Commemorative Dracula Blood Red Ruby Limited Edition ring because you know, I (sort of) have a thing for that book, right? A few months ago, I decided that I would treat myself as an end-of-chair-gonna-lose-a-big-chunk-of-money-when-I-drop-these-additonal-duties-(but-will-have-a-life-again)-contract. I mean, why wait for a holiday?  The ring arrived about a month ago with a little imperfection that was quite noticeable to me. I sent it back (ouch postal rates!) and I finally received a new one last week. I love it so much that I just bought one more piece.
Since I write about jewelry somewhat often (it is one of my favorite things to buy), I will note that I have most of my jewelry from when I was a teen. The piece that I wore to see The Cure last week is the same piece that I wore to The Cure concert in 1989, twenty-seven years ago. I have had that piece and several others since I was 15. In my world, jewelry lasts and thank goodness my taste doesn’t change ;) 

My fella does smile. In this picture I think he looks adorable and a bit like a train engineer with the cap and the stripes. He was intentionally trying to dress as the "most cheery" person at the concert :p 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

...The Cure & the man who saved my life...

'Thank you'
is the best prayer
that anyone could say.
~Alice Walker
This is the not-so open-letter to one of the people who saved my life. He has no idea. If I told him, he’s the kind of person who would laugh it off and say it was no big deal. I most likely cannot get through this post without crying. Many may not understand this because they’ve never had a teacher like him; hell, many may not have ever met anyone in their lives like him.

This post isn’t about seeing The Cure with him yesterday, nor is it about seeing The Cure with him twenty-four years ago. We both attended The Prayer tour in 1989; I had nosebleed seats and his were amazing. Neither of us could recall the name or the year of the tour that we intentionally attended together. Or rather, I decided I was attending the show with him because he gets the best seats. I looked it up. It turns out that it was The Wish tour in 1992- May 26, 1992. Weird. All these memories flood back thanks to the interwebs and those sticklers for details. I also know that my first concert was August 22, 1989 and I can even see a playlist. The world is so very strange in 2016.  

Last night, our seats were amazing thanks to him. My fella reminded me to be *present* so I did not take many pictures. This was a helpful reminder. It was also something that was puzzling: watching three 20-something goth girls *sitting* and scrolling through Facebook while the band was playing. I still cannot process that. Our tickets were pricey; why would one waste one's time on social media when there was a live band right there?!? 

But then, I'm not sure if I was exactly present per se last night. I went back to August 1989 when I met my first love of my life; it was four months before Shawn would shoot himself and this man would gently tell my friends and me to move away from my friend's coffin before we knocked it over. 

He did not behave the way that most teachers behaved. He wasn’t a mother who told you how to pray for your dead friends when she had never buried a best friend. Burying your best friends before they turned 18 is different than burying relatives. Once an ex told my fella that she understood how she felt burying his father because she had lost a grandmother. F*** you; you cannot understand that in the way that I cannot imagine burying a parent! But, I know where to go for support when that happens. Being 15 and then 16 and then 17 and then 18 and then 29…burying friend after friend, I had nowhere I believed I could go. People aren’t going to be able to relate to that experience. I'm always puzzled when someone has not attended a friend's funeral; how did they get so lucky? 

Before any of that, I met Mr. M. when I was in sixth grade. He was friends with my best friend’s parents. We all went skiing. My friend would die at 29 in a boating accident just shy of our shared birthdays. He was at her wedding and he was at her funeral... just as I was.

Mr. M. was the teacher who, on a school night, flew across country to meet friends and see a Depeche Mode concert and brought me back a tshirt. Last night we stayed in a hotel in Colombia, MD before driving the 126 miles home this morning. Mr. M. left last night around midnight so that he could be at work by 6:30 am this morning. He is now the man who will fly out to Belgium for the Tomorrowland festival alone as a 60th birthday gift to himself.  I doubt I’ll ever be as cool as that.

I’ve seen him here and there over the years but last night felt as though time had not passed.

If I could write a letter to my 15-year-old self, she would not be able to fathom that I was 42 seeing The Cure with my husband and Mr. M. in 2016.

What the letter would reveal would confirm all the words that Mr. M. had assured my 15 yr old self’s friends and little me: life will be hard but it will continue.
Adults don’t say that shit to kids. They tell them to stop crying; they say shit like, “God needed another angel” and “If you cry, your loved one’s flame will be snuffed”… y’all, I cannot make up this stuff.

How can one say thank you to someone for giving her hope? How can one say thank you for being so human?

I do not think I’ve ever met another adult like him but I’ve always hoped that something about his character rubbed off on me so that I am at least a fraction of that awesome.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

...no knock-knocks & other cemetery adventures in Green Lawn...

“Stuff your eyes with wonder,
live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds.
See the world.
It’s more fantastic than any dream made
or paid for in factories.”
~Ray Bradbury
As soon as I landed in Columbus, Ohio, I picked up a rental car from the airport and headed to two cemeteries. The first one was a Confederate cemetery but I’m going to write about that a bit later. The second cemetery was Green Lawn Cemetery.

Green Lawn Cemetery is actually not connected to Green Lawn Abbey. They’re on the same road and the street is named Green Lawn but the two are not affiliated.

The cemetery was founded in 1848 as part of the rural cemetery movement, there are over 360 acres which is about three times as large as my beloved Hollywood Cemetery here in Richmond, Virginia. There are approximately 150,000 interments which include elaborate mausoleums to the modest military markers.

There are some famous folks buried in Green Lawn. Many of whom are famous to the locals in the area; and many who probably should be but time has a way of erasing history. For example, on day 1 I’m in Green Lawn and take a picture of one of the cutest mausoleums with the name Gay at the top. It was surrounded by the most gorgeous landscaping and beautiful trees. A few days later, I was dining at a restaurant on Gay Street. Hmm, could it be the same Gay? I asked the waiter and he had no idea. To be fair, there are tons of names of streets that I never connect to their namesakes. It turns out that the mausoleum belongs to Mrs. Virginia Walcutt Gay who belonged to “a Columbus pioneer family.” Mrs. Gay was a traveler and actively involved in charitable and civic affairs. She even gave money to start the Virginia Gay Hospital in Vinton, Iowa. I love finding the back stories of those buried in the cemeteries I visit.

There were actually two markers that I intended to visit. First, was for James Thurber, the New Yorker columnist, who is buried there. Because I visited The Thurber house, I’ll save my discussion for another post.

Another marker was the Hayden Mausoleum which belongs to Charles H. Hayden, the son of Peter Hayden who formed several businesses including P. Hayden & Co. (bankers), P. Hayden & Sons (foundry & machine works; coal & coke), P. Hayden Hardware Co., P. Hayden Saddlery Hardware Co., & Haydenville Mining & Manufacturing Co. His companies prospered and he became quite well off.  One website notes that “Charles spent his children's inheritance to build this great mausoleum. The tombs filled up and some of his children were left to be buried in the grounds of the cemetery.” The Ohio Exploration Society adopted the Hayden Mausoleum in 2003 and they help care for the grounds located around the mausoleum.

Find A Grave shows some pictures of inside of the mausoleum and notes that it is in serious need of repair. I went to see the Hayden Mausoleum, which I will note that one cannot miss seeing this because of its size, for its grandness and because it is reportedly haunted. It was the middle of the day and there was not anything unusual about the structure. Apparently, if you knock on the mausoleum's door, the spirits will knock back or offer a more “substantial manifestation.” I have to say that I did not knock. Partly, it is not my thing to walk around touching pieces of art, even those that are quite large, in cemeteries. But, I also have to admit that as I moved close to the door, I noticed a hole. I tried to shine my iPhone flashlight but it was pitch black! The hole in the door was just large enough for a hand to fit inside… or to come out and grab ya. Yeah, I'm the girl who still runs down the hall in my childhood home. It has one of those long halls that was always dark (because my father worked night-shift and slept during the day). So, I freak out myself quite easily... and happily too. Anyway, I took a few pictures and then went on my way. 

I was delighted to see that on my way back around the cemetery that there were some gothy girls snapping pictures. Turns out there was actually a Haunter convention happening that weekend (how's that luck for ya! I even got to see a zombie walk while I was in Ohio!) and when I posted this picture on Facebook, a friend knew them. I love how small the world can be sometimes. 

I did ask for permission to take pictures of them taking pictures so that you could see the size of the place. Plus, her outfit is amazing.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

...a mausoleum, a movie, & a magician...

 "You can fool the eyes and minds

of the audience,
but you cannot fool their hearts."
~Howard Thurston

Last week during my trip to Columbus, Ohio, I visited Green Lawn Abbey. Affectionately referred to as *The Abbey*, it was built in 1927and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. At the time it was the largest in the area, with room for 600 interments.

The marble interior with faux-fireplaces, stained glass windows and detailed statues, this two-story mausoleum was built to be awe-inspiring.

Unfortunately, like so many of our beautiful cemeteries, this mausoleum has seen better days. With water leaks, vandals, and age, much of The Abbey is damaged. Many of the stained glass windows and statues have been destroyed while the brass gates have nearly all been stolen from the first floor. 

Famous interments include Magician Howard Thurston; H. R. Penney, the brother of J.C. Penney many may recognize as the name of the department store; and, a family crypt that includes family members of the Lewis Sells family who were owners of Sells Brothers Circus.

One of the reasons that I sought out The Abbey was  to see Thurston the Magician's grave. He was the most famous magician during his time.

Writing that he was the most famous is not intending to ignore his competitor Houdini whose names remains famous today while Thurston’s name is known to a smaller minority. Partly due to their differences, Houdini was famous for escaping handcuffs and cells while Thurston was famous for his sleight of hands. So the King of Handcuffs versus the King of Cards, well, you can guess which gains more attention. Another huge difference between the two was that Thurston was a supporter of Spiritualism while Houdini tried to debunk everything about mediums and spiritualists.

During the late 1800s, the Sells Brothers Circus was one of the largest, most successful shows of its kind in the country. Of course, family members do not always want to continue in this type of business. After some of the brothers passed, everything associated with the Sells Brothers Circus was sold to Bailey. When Bailey died, his circus was sold to the Ringling Brothers. Today, we have the Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey circus.

The Abbey is not open to the public very often so I completed lucked out that my conference trip was at the same time as one of the Friends organization’s fundraising events. 

I received an impromptu tour from one of the Friends organization board members, met Thurston the Magician, and saw a movie Movie Under the Stars: "Sorry, Wrong Number" which helped raise money to restore the mausoleum… and was literary under the stars and surrounded by lightning bugs. It was a magical evening in deed.  

For more information about The Abbey, view the video below.