Friday, January 4, 2019

...composing as a privilege...

I did not intend to blog today because I should be doing so many other things but as I am prepping for my spring semester courses, one of which is Dark Tourism, I needed to review some of the places I have been. I came here and, well, here I am writing.

I have been writing a great deal lately. I just haven’t been here. Life gets busy and I neglect certain aspects of life that I do enjoy. I have been working on a cozy mystery, which I was inspired to start after attending the 5th Annual Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival and meeting Charlaine Harris in August. A colleague/friend encouraged me to participate in #NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November; while I did not come anywhere close to meeting the 50,000 word count, I started and that’s something. I actually wrote 15,000 words, which I was proud of having not written a novel before. Sometimes I feel guilty writing for fun. I have an academic chapter, which I have yet to start, due somewhat soon. And, I need to work on my course syllabi.

I have a tendency to alter that which I enjoy into some type of work or service. It is something that I am working on. But, it is very much one of the benefits of my job. If I like reading about dark, spooky places, I can make a course out of it. That worked for vampires and cemeteries in the past.

I still run a cemetery group. I gave a Christmas tour at one of my favorite cemeteries on December 23rd. With approximately 200 people in attendance and a very not-so-great voice amplifier, I am thrilled folks had a good time and said that they learned a bit too. You can see a video here which shows what 200 people following one lowly tour guide looks like.

I have been trying to visit some new-to-me cemeteries so that the only time I visit cemeteries is with my cemetery group. I do enjoy gallivanting alone. Last week I tried to visit the Bazile family cemetery in Hanover, VA but it was surrounded by no trespassing signs and, well, I’m a rule-follower. I did take some photos from right outside the signage. The family cemetery, like the property altogether, has been taken over by weeds. In the second picture, if you look near the bottom of the house, you can see a black iron fence. This surrounds the graves and appears to have been added after the property was abandoned. You can see this more clearly in the last two pictures which Connie over at Hartwood Roses took in 2007.

The cemetery includes Jean Maurice Bazile (1826-1896), a Hanover farmer whose family immigrated from France in the 1840s. During a devastating grape infestation in France, Jean Maurice sent cuttings from his farm "French Hay” to his former home in France to help save the crops.

Photo: Connie at Hartwood Roses, 2007
His grandson is also buried in the family cemetery. Leon Maurice Bazile (1890-1967) was a judge known for rulings in Loving v. Virginia. He also was known for his defense of white supremacy and for being a defender of Virginia’s segregation laws.
Photo: Connie at Hartwood Roses, 2007
When I posted about this on social media, a friend noted that she enjoyed when I wrote about these little tidbits of history and how she missed reading my blog posts. I enjoy writing about the cemeteries that I visit too; and, I have missed the blogosphere. Since I came here to look up posts for my course, this blog benefits me more that I realized. Of course, there is also you fine folks who follow along. I have enjoyed becoming friends with so many of your over the years.

Finally, while I do not usually make resolutions for the new year, I saw a post about selecting one word to represent 2019. I picked compose for all of its multiple meanings.

1.write or create;
2. constitute or make up (a whole);
3. calm or settle (oneself or one's features or thoughts).

This week I am continuing that project I began on November 1. I also should consider rededicating myself to this blog. After all, with a new home, I will have many exciting gardening posts to make. I am composing a new home; a new garden; and, in many ways, a new life.

Happy New Year!

Our house covered in snow. If you look closely, you can see that the fence was stained Sherwin-Williams semi-transparent 'Atlantic'. I love it!


  1. I've learned a lot of things from your posts - about cemeteries, mourning customs, etc. ... basically everything I'm interested in! I think the dark tourism course sounds amazing. When I plan any future vacations, I'll need to not only check Atlas Obscura but also with you now to find out all the good spots. 😂💀⚰️

  2. Hi Doll! And a most Merry and Happy New Year to you. Glad to see you back.

  3. You posted this at a perfect time for me, as I was struggling to finish my latest magazine article (and wallowing in the struggle). I turned my thinking toward your opening quote, and realized that I was exercising a gift. This was all I needed to finish that article, lickety split, gather and format the accompanying photos, and be done with the whole thing a whole day ahead of my deadline. Thank you for the cyber encouragement!

  4. A bit weird that the graves are so close to the house. Was it a sentimental gesture to keep the dead ones close?

    1. That's a good point. It seemed odd to me too. My best guess is that perhaps because they were farmers they wanted to keep the land open for that. I'm also wondering where the well was located. And, then I also wonder if this was the original house.