Saturday, September 25, 2010

This week's quote

"It is far more powerful to live your Truth than to teach it"


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pugs gets a vacation

Hey guys! This is Pugsley. My Daddies are off at work. So I thought I'd find out what this little thing on the desk is that they are always playing with. I'm not too good with words or typing so I'll tell you all about my vacation with the pictures that I had my daddies take for me.

This is the camper that they rented for me at our first campsite right on the beach!

At first I chose this bed. Until I realized that the Daddies were on the other bed.

Daddy Stew is my favorite. We do everything together.

We went hiking. The daddies were too slow.

The first night, we got to see a wicked sunset over Lake Huron's Saginaw Bay.

Then we went to Lake Michigan and I climbed sand dunes faster than anyone.
I have four paw drive, ya know.

Daddy said we are going to see a light house!
That's a long walk!

We made it! Now what?

Oh! We have to walk back? Let's take a different route.

Where did the trail go?
At least we found some snacks on the trail.

There was a little hut for us to stop at in the mountains.

And an interdunal pond to cool my tired paws.

That night we saw another sunset! This one over Lake Michigan.

I love my Daddy Eddy too!

I love the wind from the lake in my hair.

More Hiking?! This time in the mountains!
Kewl lake from up here.

I swear, that tree was following us.

This is my new friend.
At least she didn't run away like the squirrels and chipmunks did.

Finally! Home! I slept for a whole day after all the walking.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hiking the Dunes of West Michigan

Here's a little something that I put together from our
camping/hiking trip last week. Enjoy.

For you facebookers, you'll need to go to the blog to see the video.
It's worth it.

Let me know if you like what you see. Should I do more of this?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Coffee from Hell

We spent the day in Hell yesterday. Hell, Michigan that is.
Each year for the last nine years, a "car" club meets there for the unofficial kickoff for Halloween.
Most of the hearses are out of service. Many have been customized. Some are in need of repair.

Obviously, ours was the prettiest one. And one of the only two there that are still in service.
After the show and tell, we all lined up for the guiness book of world records. We were going for the longest procession of hearses. Although there is currently no record, They set a standard that we had to have at least 50 hearses. We didn't make it. There were only 45. But we did make the local news and several radio stations for trying.

After the procession, we headed back to Hell to enjoy an ice cream at Screams Ice Cream. Then headed over to Hell's Kitchen for some coffee from Hell.

What other state has a Hell, a Paradise, and of course don't forget Climax. Got to love Michigan.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Cab Ride

I arrived at the address and honked the horn.
After waiting a few minutes I walked to the door and knocked.. 'Just a minute', answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940's movie.
By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

'Would you carry my bag out to the car?' she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.
She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.

She kept thanking me for my kindness. 'It's nothing', I told her.. 'I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.'

'Oh, you're such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, 'Could you drive through downtown?'

'It's not the shortest way,' I answered quickly..

'Oh, I don't mind,' she said. 'I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice.

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. 'I don't have any family left,' she continued in a soft voice.. 'The doctor says I don't have very long.' I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

'What route would you like me to take?' I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, 'I'm tired. Let's go now'.

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home,
with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were Solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

'How much do I owe you?' She asked, reaching into her purse.

'Nothing,' I said

'You have to make a living,' she answered.

'There are other passengers,' I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

'You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,' she said. 'Thank you.'

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light.. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life..

I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift?
What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.
But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.


I try to remember this at all my jobs and in my personal interactions. You never know what is going on in someone else's world. So always make sure that your part of their world is good.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


There are more than 11,000 lakes and 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline in Michigan.

Yes, this video says what you thought you heard.
 Play it again, just for fun.

Over the last week, we unplugged our straightening irons and went bush. We explored the west (sunset ) side of our state. A recess indeed. It was much needed and much enjoyed. I'll get some photos up this weekend of some of our explorations. And Pugsley is putting together a post of his own. He's decided that he likes vacation.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pugsley's big adventure

Pugsley's big vacation.
We usually hire someone to take care of Pugsley when we travel. We decided this year to take a vacation that he could go with us. So we rented a pop-up camper and off we went to a State Park. This is Pugsley's first experience with some bigger waves from Lake Huron.
So far everything is going great. He's a little tired from all the hiking and exploring. There seems to be too many trees for him to pee on. But he's trying.
We thought we were all dead yesterday. We were walking calmly in the woods when we heard a noise behind us. As we turned, we saw not one, but two large black figures running toward us. We are talking bear type large. I quickly put myself between the intruders and Pugsley and Ed was ready with his walking stick.

It turned out that the big black figures were a couple of dogs that wanted to play with Pugsley. One of them was a Newfoundland, the other I'm not sure what it was, but nearly just as large. Soon a lady came running behind them apologizing for not having them on a leash.
 Once our hearts stopped beating so fast, we continued on our hike and everything went fine. Currently, Pugs is sleeping and Ed is off picking up more supplies.
Will have a full report when we return home next week.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A time for change

A note from the Universe on Friday said to me :
"The ease of change, Stew, is directly proportional to one's willingness to reconsider what's best for themselves.

I say let it be easy - Because when change comes, it always means there's something better.

-The Universe"
This couldn't have come at a more appropriate time for me. It seems that change is happening all around me, all at once.
There has been people in our neighborhood that made the difficult decision to leave their home and move to Tennessee. And the Assistant Manager at the store that I work at was given his own store, thus bringing us a new assistant. And finally, a long time friend and the owner of one of the funeral homes that I work for made the decision to retire. Which makes his son the new "man in charge" and there's a new second in command there as well.
While I had no complaints with any of the past, I am looking forward to "what's next?" A positive attitude is the first step. I am truly excited for the new management position for my co-worker and for the retirement of a much deserving and still quite young man. It has also opened up new possibilities for two more people. So I can see no faults to any of this. The neighbors will be missed, however I may like the new neighbors even more. We'll see.
Life is full of surprises. And I believe that they are all good ones. I know that the friendships that have been forged will continue and there are new ones to be made. So as the temperature outside plummets and the leaves start to change color, so does life's colors, and beautiful colors they are. I welcome it with open arms and anticipation for the next step.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Blue Water

This sure makes home sound really nice. Why would I ever want to leave and do as much traveling as I do?
Then I remember why. No. Not really. But they are annoying.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Remembering Removals

As promised, I am going to try and share a little of our history in the removal business. If you have had experience in this field, your stories are always welcome in the comments section.

My husband got me started, reluctantly in what is known as the Removal business. Many funeral homes will call a business such as ours to go out and "remove" the body of the recently deceased from the place of death and bring them to the funeral home to be prepped for viewing or cremation. Even if you have an interest in the business, I'm not sure this is the place to start. It certainly is not the nicer or brighter side. It can be the downright disgusting side. Let me remind you that death is never pretty. It doesn't happen like depicted in old movies where the person closes their eyes and stops breathing and their head falls gently to the left. No, it's not that pretty. A person that dies naturally is dieing for a reason. They have something wrong with them. Thus will be pale or ill colored in some other way. Their face muscles relax, mouth opens and eyes stay however they were moments before. It can be unnerving to see a dead person staring at you.

Anyway, my sweetie, ran this business where he had to go and play fetch at all hours of the day and night. Basically, they would call when it wasn't convenient for them to go themselves. Which meant mornings during services, afternoons while they were meeting with families, nights when they were trying to sleep. Nice days when they wanted to play golf. Snowy days when they couldn't get out of their driveways. Holidays when they were spending time with their families. These were all the times that we would get calls. One year we did over 450 removals. We had two vans, ready to go at anytime. We even did long distance jobs when it wasn't cost effective to fly the body, we'd go fetch it or take it somewhere. Also, we'd pick them up from the airport when flying was an option.

It started, that I went along for the ride simply to be able to spend time with this busy gentleman that had caught my interest. Then, when we would go into someones home, we'd always have two people. I became that second person. Then he showed me how things worked in the nursing homes and airport freight terminals. Next thing I knew, I was on my own in one van and he in another. So much for togetherness.

One of my first loners, was to be picked up from the morgue of a hospital in Detroit. Nobody told me that it would expedite things if you tipped the guard. So this guard sent me on a tour of the hospital. At one end of this long hall, there was a sign that read "morgue", and pointed down the hall. At the other end of the hall was another sign that read "morgue" and pointed back down the hall. Now, you would think that the morgue was someplace between the signs. NO. One of the signs was old and was no longer relevant. And the other was indicating to go around the corner to the elevator and go down two floors.
Once I finally found the room that was not marked on the outside, a rather large intimidating black man greeted me by saying "Where have you been?!" I said that the signs were of no help and he just chuckled. After determining which corpse I was there for, he said "There IT is" and left the room. In front of me was a large white bag with blood and urine stains all over the outside. Upon inspection, I determined that it had a hole in the bag and was leaking. I didn't want to put that in my van as is. If you've ever thrown away a meat wrapper only to smell it the next day overpowering your kitchen, you'll understand my trepidation of putting such a thing on my stretcher and into my van. After all, it was summer. I wanted to place the existing bag inside one of my more ridged bags to contain the waste. I stepped out to the hall where the guard was waiting. When I asked for his assistance, he shot me a look like I had just insulted his mother. I explained my situation and he reluctantly agreed to help as long as he didn't have to touch the body. "Fair enough" I said and we proceeded to transfer the corpse with my skinny arms doing all of the lifting.

This is where it gets fun. When this 300 pound black man saw the combination of blood and urine streaming to the floor and he thought about what he was doing, he looked at me, looked again at the stream, his eyes rolled back in his head and he landed in the pool of blood on the floor. There I was, a body half in the bag a big man between me and the door, passed out! and a wet slippery floor at my feet. Of course I'm in my nice black suite. After yelling for help for a couple of minutes, a much smaller (about 145 pound) guard came down the hall to see who was yelling for help in the morgue and found my situation. He helped me revive and remove the first guard and finish with the task at hand of transferring the body.

I then eventually found my way back to my van and out of the city. And to this day, I don't like picking up from that hospital in Detroit.

I'm hoping that you are not too disgusted by the details of this story to see the humor here. If you would like to read more or have any thoughts on the matter, please leave a message in the comments section.

Have a great Labor Day weekend folks!

History and Shiloh

     Here is yet another piece of history from our fair town. This little gem on the south side of town was built in 1918. Originally a "white" community, as the industrial revolution happened and we saw factories popping up everywhere, The promise of good pay for an honest days work attracted many blacks or as they are now known, African Americans to the area. Understandably, in that day and age they stuck together. As the whites built their houses along the river and eventually the lake, this left much of the southern side of town for our black friends. This church has seen the changes in this town and has become the center of the African American population's faith community.

     Working at the funeral home in town that has been around the longest, we have seen our fair share of services in this church. We are definitely happy to serve all of the cities inhabitants. Although there has been black workers at the funeral home in the past, there are currently none working there. So, it's easy to pick out who's working and who's attending the funeral, simply by the color of our skin. I personally think it's great to see the white boys working for the blacks.

     I love to attend these services. Whatever it is that they have going on here, is something wonderful. They really know how to honor the person who has left the community. I say community because that's what it is. They all know and care for each other. And when we are lucky enough to work there, they know our names and are always happy to see us (as happy as one can be at a funeral). They refer to us as "undertakers" which you really don't hear that very much anymore and I find it a little amusing. We always know the end of the service, because the pastor will exclaim "UNTERTAKER PLEASE!" Then we'll go up and do our thing.

    It's an old church with steep steps and very small inside. It makes maneuvering the casket very tricky. But, they all know that from the start and do whatever needs to be done to make it happen. Even though it's not really set up for doing funerals, it's a nice tribute to have the service in the church that has been the center of their community for some 50-60 years. I have worked here twice in as many weeks. As much as I love to go here, I think that is enough for a while.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Quotes to ponder

"This is the beginning of a new day. You have been given this day to use as you will. You can waste it or use it for good. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; in its place is something that you have left behind...let it be something good."

- Author unknown.

Yes, I took this picture.

" You must be the change that you wish to see in the world"  
- Mahatma Gandhi

My apologies for not posting lately. It's been a crazy week. Will be back soon with stories of our Removal days.