Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Old Mill

After stopping by the Old Regular Church, we decided to go out to the mill and let Pugsley cool off in the river with a quick swim. First we toured the grounds a bit and let him get some exercises. Then headed down the trail to the old damn and let him get wet.

 Whenever I see an old mill like this, I always wonder if my family didn't have something to do with it. You see my Great grandfather traveled the world from Halifax to remote outpost in Brazil and everywhere in between.

He drug his family along with him. So my grandmother grew up with a nomad kind of life. They would build damns and mills everywhere they went. After training the management and workers, they would move on to the next. Rarely was anything written down. So we don't have much as far as records go.

My Great grandmother did keep a journal of sorts and a book was written and published about their adventures in South America. But other than that we don't know much about all the different mills that they built. My father still has the clay water jug that his grandmother used to fetch water with while in the jungle of the Amazon. Although, I don't think it would still hold water. It is quite a beautiful piece. And very fragile I might add. After all, It's been dry for about 100 years now.

Pugsley always enjoys the chance to get his toes muddy.

And the little fish, he finds very fascinating. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Old Regular

In a day when all the churches are competing for a congregation and calling their church things like "The Rock" , "Evident", "Covenant", "Sheppard's Gate". Or trying to sound like they were the originals like "1st Congregational" or "1st Baptist". 

This little church on a country road a few miles from my home simply calls themselves, "Old Regular Baptist Church" .

Nothing fancy going on here. We're just your Old Regular kind of place. What more do you need?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

And I Quote...

"I like to think that a funeral is just when a birth certificate expires."

- E. Borowski

Saturday, July 23, 2011

AA Meetings Angry Clouds and big yellow cotton balls

So the day started out pretty normal. We were expecting a small service at the funeral home that lets the church next door use it's parking lot most of the time. We'll when we have a service going on, we need our parking lot for attendees as well as lining up for the procession to the cemetery. I had forgotten that the church host an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting every Saturday. That is until suddenly I was overwhelmed with cars that seemed to be parking every which way where ever they wanted. I was trying to direct the Alcoholics to park in the church lot when the people attending the funeral started walking toward the church instead of the funeral home. So I quickly redirected them and got the stray parkers headed in the right direction only to turn around to find two more cars had pulled in to park, right in the middle of my lot. I was happy to see 10am roll around and I left them all on their own out there. My people were all inside and I was confident that the others would not be in the way as their meeting had started as well.
The weather called for scattered storms today, but otherwise a nice partly cloudy day. As I drove back from the cemetery, I noticed these little angry clouds and, I think for the first time, understood when they say, scattered storms. They were almost cute, hovering over the border between Michigan and Ontario. I think we dodged those ones but look out Canada, these little guys don't look happy.

Those little clouds reminded me of two weeks ago when after a huge storm rolled through, we went outside to find this going on. This was the actual color of the sky and these low laying clouds looked like big cotton balls. 

Never seen anything like it before.

Nature is wonderful sometimes.


Midnight thoughts

As I sit here on the patio enjoying another starlit night with a beautiful half lit moon, I can observe the millions of stars that have guided sailors and explorers for centuries. I can also see off in the distance the lightning strikes from the storm that is hitting the city of Detroit at this moment. But here in my quiet neighborhood, hidden somewhere along the coast, just Northeast of the blighted city, everything is peaceful. The fountain is trickling and the garden lights are highlighting all the hard work that my husband has done in the yard. It's three am and the temperature has dropped to 73 degrees. Making it a perfect night for relaxing on the patio. My dog sits by my side in anticipation of whatever move I may make next.

It's a stark contrast to last night. I was hired again to chauffeur  some people to a concert yesterday. It was Jimmy Buffets annual concert at the most popular outdoor theater in Michigan. As with every year, there is a huge tailgate party preceding the concert. This year, what made it so interesting is the fact that it was 100 degrees. When you get that kind of heat combined with people drinking, there is plenty of opportunity for some problems. My group, being of the responsible nature, knew how to stay hydrated and behaved. We were also parked in the VIP parking section where there were limousines and tour buses galore. And while there are always some people in that group that can't handle themselves, the sea of limos around ours were pretty well under control. In the general parking however, was a whole different story. I wanted so badly to pull out my camera and start snapping pictures of all the happenings. I was however trying to be somewhat professional. I am so glad that I am a private driver and not some rent-a-driver from a limo company though. I was able to wear appropriate clothing for not only the heat, but the Jimmy Buffet crowd as well. The other drivers around me were all sweltering in their uniforms. I was there in my lightweight slacks and a Hawaiian type shirt. Yeah, they all laughed at my small limousine at first, then they saw how comfortable I was and the jealousy started to show.

So with the people that I had in the back last night, I was thinking that I had the beginnings of a great joke, but I just can't seem to come up with the rest of it......" So there was a gynecologist, a judge and a mortician in the back of a limo........"   Feel free to finish the joke.

By the time I dropped them each at home at one in the morning, the temperature had fallen to 85 degrees, making tonight's temp feel almost cold. This coming from someone that endures Michigan winters every year. Tonight is quite beautiful. I am just killing time until I have to be at the morning funeral. I'll be leaving here in just over 5 hours so there is not much sense in sleeping. So, I'll just hang out with you, if you don't mind.

I've been doing some thinking as of late. Thinking of why I do this blogging thing. Sometimes it seems as though I am just trying to add one more thing to my already busy life. Sometimes, I think that the work that I do isn't really all that interesting and who would care. And still other times, I look at the numbers. I see that there are not that many hits to the site and still fewer followers. Is it all worth it? And that's when I realize that yes it is. There are always those times in the business that there are stories that you just can't make up. Stories that have to be told. I write this blog, not to take up more of my valuable time. But to help me sort through my daily thoughts. I see a lot of death and that has made me more appreciative of life and all the wonderful things that life has to offer. And even if I had only one person that ever read my writings, I hope that one person will come away from the Brighter Side of the Grave with a better appreciation of life as well. So, whoever you are and where ever you are, I thank you for reading. I know that I do a lot of good with the work that I do. I don't doubt that. I am grateful for the chance to share with anyone who would wander across this little bright patch of life.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ducks in Heaven

Thanks Jack....


Three women die together in an accident

And go to heaven.  

When they get there, St. Peter says,

'We only have one rule here in heaven:

Don't step on the ducks!'

So they enter heaven, and sure enough,

There are ducks all over the place.
It is almost impossible not to step on a duck,
And although they try their best to avoid them,
The first woman accidentally steps on one.

Along comes St. Peter with the ugliest man she ever saw.

St. Peter chains them together and says,
'Your punishment for stepping on a duck is to
Spend eternity chained to this ugly man!'
The next day,
The second woman steps accidentally on a duck
And along comes St. Peter,
Who doesn't miss a thing.
With him is another extremely ugly man.
He chains them together
With the same admonishment as for the first woman.

The third woman has observed all this and,

Not wanting to be chained
For all eternity to an ugly man, is very,
VERY careful where she steps.

She manages to go months

Without stepping on any ducks,
One day St. Peter comes up to her
With the most handsome man she has ever laid eyes on
.... Very tall, long eyelashes, muscular.

St. Peter chains them together without saying a word.

The happy woman says,

'I wonder what I did to deserve being
Chained to you for all of eternity?'

The guy says,

'I don't know about you,
But I stepped on a

Monday, July 18, 2011

Weekend water fun

I love our boat!
A loyal blog follower and old friend of my husband is visiting Michigan this week.
So we thought we'd take her and her sister out for a nice cruise on the river.
We just had some work done to our boat and it's ready for the long hot days of summer in Michigan.
So we thought.

We all got into the boat for our cruise. I started it and turned the bow upriver. Going slowly, not wanting to cause a wake near the docks, everything was great. When we cleared the dock area, I started to give it some gas.
That's when we stalled. Try as we did, it just didn't want to go.
Fortunately, I had turned upriver and eventually, we drifted back to the docking area.

That's when my loving husband jumped overboard and pulled us back in to the dock.
So, what was supposed to be a short boat ride, ended up being a forty-five minute "relaxing" float down the river.
Ironically, at the end of the month, we are taking a trip with some friends to do just that.
We will be floating down a river on an inner tube. 
Which will be much cheaper than this little excursion.
So we put the boat back on the trailer and went for cocktails.
Maybe next time, we'll just do that first.
They say the greatest day of your life is the day you buy a boat.
The second greatest day is the day you sell it.

We are currently experiencing a phenomenon here in Michigan known as summer. It has been in the 90's for days and will be for at least another week.

For me, it means that I can finally get warm. While everyone else in the state is hiding in the air conditioning. Well, this left the local park open for us to explore all on our own. I know that Pugsley is a winter dog. So we tend to go places that have water for him to refresh in.
I was able to take his leash off him and let him run and play in the water as much as he wanted to. 
Wolcott Mill is a beautiful old mill that has been turned into a park for everyone to enjoy. My niece even got married here a few years ago. The water is shallow and the furry one can reach the bottom while he swims.

But he doesn't like to get his head wet. You know he spends hours everyday crimping his hair just right and doesn't want to mess it up.

That was our weekend. No funerals since Friday's mess. But since it's so hot, I'll accept that. Who wants to stand in a hot parking lot in a black suit and direct traffic when it's pushing 100 outside.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

More Fish Flies! and more Details.

OK. I jinxed myself. In a post earlier, I wrote of my memory of working at a drug store in St.Clair Shores and they made me clean up all the dead fish flies every morning. Well, while my mother was dying in May, another store in our district was kind enough to send someone over to cover my shifts. So when she wanted to take a vacation, they called in the favor. I  don't like to work five days in a week(at one job), but I felt as though I owed them a favor and said that I would do it. Little did I know that the store was in St.Clair Shores.

Less than a mile from the lake, the fish flies were thick. I didn't even park under a light and when I came out in the morning, my car was covered. On the midnight shift, we go through the whole store straightening and stocking, getting the store ready for the next day. Let's just say that these little critters don't stay outside. Every shelf in the place had fish flies on them. You'd go to pull the merchandise forward and get yourself a nice handful of dead fish flies. And sweeping out the vestibule was a delight. They stink and they are just plain gross. It's fun when they're not quite dead yet and they fly up and land in your hair. I had to change the vacuum bag half way through the job of sucking them all up.

The company has built a very nice store there on a quaint little blvd. It's a nice town overall, built around boating and fishing. The sunrises are nothing short of amazing, every day! The customers that came in this morning were buying such things as sun glasses, sun screen, ice, and picnic supplies. Everyone enjoying the summer weekend. Now, if they could just do something about the those fish flies, they'd have something really special.

By the way, An update to the "Details" post, I finally got through to the funeral director on Friday morning. She was wondering where I was and when I was going to get there. She meant to say Friday, not Thursday. I quickly through myself together and rushed off to save the day. All went fine and no one was the wiser.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I received a call from one of our clients on Wednesday. She promptly told me that she needed to order a hearse for Thursday.

After thinking for a second, I replied to her " Do you mean tomorrow, Thursday?"

At which she said to me, "I thought since you worked nights at your other job, you didn't use the words tomorrow, today and yesterday".

I remember telling her one time, when I wasn't sure what day it was, that those words get really confusing when you are awake at the beginning of the day, then sleep and wake back up to go to work, and it's still the same day. But then it changes to a different day and it all starts over again.

So we laughed at my confusion of the days. I took down the times and location and thanked her for her business. After disconnecting the call, I wondered still, if she meant tomorrow or not. Trying to be somewhat professional, I decided to not call her back.

Fast forward to Thursday morning. (Today?) I showed up at the funeral home (pictured above) at the determined time. There are no cars in the parking lot and the doors are locked. I called the personal line that I have for her and got no response. I tried the bell since her brother lives upstairs over the business. Again met with no answer. So I tried the business line and got the answering service. I left a message for them to call me. Again, I was met with no response. A florist showed up and started ringing the bell to drop off flowers. She also was met with no response. She left the flowers on the porch. We both thought it was strange that there was no flower delivery door. I checked around back and the brother's truck was parked under the shade tree. But even after being there for over an hour and trying the phones and bell again, I decided that maybe she meant next week.

It is now six hours later and I have not heard back from them. I need to go to sleep so that I can start tomorrow, tonight. So, I am giving up on them. But I know they'll call as soon as I fall asleep to confirm that yes, it is next week.

I think I will be more diligent in my details in the future.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Grave Power

Mausoleum-mounted solar panels light up a Spanish town.

When officials in Santa Coloma deGramenet, Spain, suggested placing solar panels in the town cemetery, they were met with significant skepticism. But in 2008, after 3 years of public outreach, the city council prevailed and the town mounted 462 solar panels on top of a quarter-acre of mausoleums.

Santa Coloma is thus far the only town to use alternative power from it's cemetery to fill some of the energy needs of it's 120,000 residents; the 100 kilowatts is enough to power sixty households.

In April 2011, officials from the US Department of Veterans Affairs installed a wind turbine at the Massachusetts National Cemetery, but it will provide power only for the cemetery.

-Jennie Walters ( Popular Science )

Something to brighten your day...

Laced throughout every day of your life are hidden highways of opportunity, invisible crossroads of time, and golden avenues for personal transformation that if only traveled upon would reveal the extraordinary, the sublime, and the unexpected. 

Please enjoy this short video and have a great day on those side dirt roads....


Monday, July 11, 2011

New summer friends

At last!
It's 6 am and it's already 80 degrees. The sun just came up. It's a huge glowing orange ball in the Eastern sky casting it's morning glow across our little patch of the world. There's not a cloud in the sky, I just got off work and now I have to get ready for the other work. They're calling for mid 90's today. I love summer. It could be like this every day and I'd be happy.  I just wish that I didn't have to wear a black suit and tie and stand on the hot black-top parking lot. I'd much rather be lounging along with these garden frogs in the warmth of the summer sun.

We have quite the little oasis here at our little place in the burbs. While none of our neighbors have much to speak of in the line of landscaping, we have trees, shrubs and plants galore. We attract all sorts of wildlife to our tiny plot of land. Quite often we'll have rabbits and so many birds. But yesterday, we welcomed a new addition to our family. We have noticed Pugsley snooping around in the garden around the foundation of the house lately and didn't know what he was up to. Until Ed went out yesterday and found this little guy hanging out on the lawn. It appears that he's taken up residence. Since Pugs grew up with a rabbit as a brother, he only wants to play with this new friend and the rabbit doesn't seem to mind. I think that they've probably been friends for a while now. But like all children, Pugsley doesn't tell me everything.
I think we'll call him Mr. Hide because he likes to hide just under those ferns whenever Ed or I get to close.

Any other ideas what we should name our new friend?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Flag folding 101

It's the 4th of July and here in the United States, that means that it's Independance Day. A day to celebrate and comemorate our independance from English rule. Not that I have any problem with the English or any of the countries that they govern. In fact, I make no secrect of my love for Canada or Australia. But today, we celebrate being American.

I don't know how much truth thier is to any of this, but it sounds good and I'll pass this along from my sister, who is retired from a long career in the United States Air Force, about the folding of the American Flag as it is presented to the widow or wiower of a deceased veteran.

To understand what the  flag draped coffin really means ...
 Here is how to understand the flag that  laid
upon it and is surrendered to so many widows and widowers.
Do you  know that at military funerals, the 21-gun salute stands for the
sum of the  numbers in the year 1776?

Have you ever noticed the honor guard pays  meticulous attention to
correctly folding the United States of America Flag  13 times? You probably
thought it was to symbolize the original 13 colonies,  but we learn something
new every day!
The 1st fold of the flag is a symbol  of life.
The 2nd fold is a symbol of the belief in eternal life.
The 3rd  fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing
the ranks who  gave a portion of their lives for the defense of the country
to attain peace  throughout the world.
The 4th fold represents the weaker nature, for as  American citizens
trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as  well as in time
of war for His divine guidance.
The 5th fold is a tribute  to the country, for in the words of Stephen
Decatur, 'Our Country, in dealing  with other countries, may she always be
right; but it is still our country,  right or wrong.'
The 6th fold is for where people's hearts lie. It is with  their heart
that they pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of  America, and
the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God,  indivisible, with
Liberty and Justice for all.
The 7th fold is a tribute  to its Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed
Forces that they protect  their country and their flag against all her
enemies, whether they be found  within or without the boundaries of their
The 8th fold is a  tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the
shadow of death, that  we might see the light of day.
The 9th fold is a tribute to womanhood, and  Mothers. For it has been
through their faith, their love, loyalty and  devotion that the character of
the men and women who have made this country  great has been molded.
The 10th fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too,  has given his sons
and daughters for the defense of their country since they  were first born.
The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of  King David and
King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrews eyes, the God of  Abraham, Isaac
and Jacob.
The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity  and glorifies, in the
Christians eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy  Spirit.
The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely folded, the stars  are
uppermost reminding them of their Nations motto, 'In God We  Trust.'
After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on  the
appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who  served
under General George Washington, and the Sailors and Marines who  served
under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades  and
shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for them  the
rights, privileges and freedoms they enjoy today.
There are some  traditions and ways of doing things that have deep meaning.
In the future,  you'll see flags folded and now you will know why.
Share this with the  children you love and all others who love what is
referred to, the symbol of  'Liberty and Freedom.'

I hope that everyone has a safe and happy forth of July, wherever you live. And for you English, just be glad that you got rid of us.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fish Flies

It's that time of year again.

(Smaller than actual size)

There are thousands of different species of them. Most people around the world know them as May Flies.
Here in Michigan, they are Fish Flies. In the evening light, the swarms of them can be so thick, it blocks out the sun. They snap and pop under your feet as you walk. They land all over you; in your hair; on your cloths; they're even stupid enough to fly right into your mouth.

I love to tell the story of when I had my convertible down at the fishfly festival . I had left a soda in the cup holder of the car with the top down. Knowing that these things are everywhere, I had a lid on the soda with a straw sticking out so that none landed in my drink. I returned to my car after dark and proceeded home. I then reached for a refreshing drink of my protected soda. I wrapped my lips around that straw and took a big sip. I then realized that something was fluttering in my mouth. It appears that one had landed on the straw. I have since learned to check the straw.

They have no mouth and can not bite you. They serve no real purpose at all, except to feed the fish and birds. They only live less than 24 hours in most cases. So you are left in the morning with blackened streets around every street light, lighted sign or porch light. Some communities even bring out snow plows to clear them. If you try to stop quickly with your car under a light, you will slide as if you are driving on ice. Millions of dead flies everywhere. Living near the water makes it even worse. The spiders will create webs around the lights, knowing that dinner is on it's way. In the light of morning, you are left with swaying black masses dangling from every light fixture. Such was the case this morning picking up the hearse to go to work. We have a light, right next to our garage door. I declined to take  a picture of that. And I'm sure that you all thank me for that.

Another of my fish fly stories dates back to my first job. I was a stock boy at a drug store (of all places) and every morning in the summer, it was my job to hook up the hose and wash down the front of the store. They would be so thick on the lighted sign that you couldn't even see it. Let me reassure you that it was a smelly job. I don't think they paid me enough now that I think back on that.

This parody of a Pure Michigan ad about sums it up....

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Even in Death - Billboard

As I arrived at the cemetery today, I noticed something that I've never seen before. It appeared to be paid advertising space on the back of the headstones.


I then learned from the sexton that these two men owned competing auto dealerships in a nearby town. When the first of the two died, the family had the name of his business etched into the back of his stone. Not to be outdone, when the second one died, his family took in a picture of the dealership and had the image permanently etched in the back of his stone. These graves now sit approximately 60 feet apart and even in death, they are still competing.