Monday, October 31, 2011


Meet Bob the doorman. Bob would like to wish you each a Happy Halloween.  But Bob reminds you, that you'll hang up your own coat if you know what's good for you. And he would like to offer you a drink. Some O positive perhaps. And finally he wishes that you'll enjoy your visit, it will be a looooong one!

Bob is the animated character that has been gracing us at the drug store for the past couple of months. I'm sad to say that when I return, Bob will not be with us. He's been a little tired lately. Don't worry, Bob is in good hands and will be taken care of with the greatest of compassion, as his wrinkly old body is compacted and disposed of in the manner which has been chosen by his family at the store.

Rest in pieces Bob!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

No candy

It's a good thing that Halloween comes at the end of October.

Because that's when Candy Corns are ripe!

We will be leaving in just two days and for the first time in my seventeen years of living here, there will be no candy handed out at my house. Our usual over the top Halloween display has remained boxed up until next year. I will be making post from time to time while we are on our trip. But, I also intend on enjoying the vacation, so I'll have to catch you all up when I return.
This is going to be an epic journey, to say the least.
We are leaving the business for  two weeks and I'll be without the internet for a week of that!
How will I cope?

Saturday, October 22, 2011


I was stocking the beer in the cooler, down at the local drug store, when I ran across a case of Mike's Hard Lemonade. This was printed on the side of the case.
How very fitting it was. Fitting because all week, we've had at least 2 funerals a day and I'm working over night at the store, trying to make up for the fact that I'm going to be gone for two weeks. And I still need to finish packing!

I've always said, "If you cut out eating and sleeping, there's so much more time in the day."

I've got another two today, then Sunday is a down day, unless you count working at the drug store.
After the services today, I am looking forward to spending some time with an old colleague and her husband, who is a loyal blog follower........      Who needs to pack, I'll just get new cloths on the trip.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Don't laugh at me

Today we buried a man that knew no shame. He was proud of who he was and lived each and every day to the fullest. He found the pleasure in the littlest things. The group of people that attended his funeral was very diverse and vast.
This man was autistic, before they knew what autistic was. At 57 years old, he had enjoyed more life than most of us could in three lifetimes. He brought joy to everyone that he knew. The Pastor picked out this song to play at his funeral and it struck a chord with everyone in the building. We all have our downfalls, but we are all beautiful beings and can bring so much into this world. Our guest of honor blindly chose to bring happiness to every minute.
The song chosen was a remake of an old Peter, Paul and Mary song, done by a country singer, Mark Wills....

Click on the link, enjoy the song. Then come back and tell us what you do each day to brighten your world, here on the Brighter Side of the Grave.

I hope you are all enjoying your weekend.

Soaked and Thinking

As the temperature struggled to reach 50f in the city, along the Lake Huron coast, it was no higher than 45f. A cold Northern wind was fighting against our umbrellas as the rain pummeled us. I was soaked right to the bone. My black suit seemed extra dark with all the water it was holding and my shoes made squishy noises as I walked. I could hear the waves crashing on the shore across the street, loud and clear over the sounds of the wind through the tall pines.

As I stood there being sprayed from the tires of every passing car, it didn't bother me that I had to stand out there in such weather. My mind drifted at times. It drifted to the fact that in a week, I'll be heading for the tropics. It drifted to the funeral that was about to happen. And the fact that the deceased would never again get to experience everything that I was experiencing at that moment. But I didn't think of the funeral that was about to happen in the little lakeside church I was standing in front of. I thought of the funeral of a young man that I never got the chance to meet. I thought of Jamie Hubley, a gay 15 year old that took his own life last Friday.
I can't get it out of my head that yet another teen has chosen to not wait and experience all that this life has to offer. My heart goes out to all that knew and loved him. I'm sure that he had the love and support of those around him. His youtube videos reflected a young man that was comfortable and proud of who he was.

You may think at this point, this is going to be another post about bullying. But it's not!

My concern is that with all the hype over coming out and being proud of who you are, perhaps we are wrongly encouraging our youth to come out too soon. At 15, you've barely begun to think about sex. No matter if you are straight or gay or anywhere in between, maybe we should lay off the kids and let them be kids. Why do you have to announce what you like, when you've only just begun to realize it yourself.

I knew when I walked in to the kindergarten class at the ripe age of 5, that I liked boys better than girls. But I had no idea why. And I didn't care. As everyone else started to "go steady" with a girl, I just figured that it hadn't happened for me yet. If you would have asked me in Junior High School, if I was straight or gay, I couldn't have answered you.

Last spring, a good friend text me in the middle of the night. She was very upset and couldn't sleep. Her 13 year old son had come out to her that night and she was afraid for his safety, having come out at such a young age. We texted, emailed and talked, until they were both more comfortable with his proclamation. I think now, we've all come to a better place about the situation.

At first, I was proud of such a young man to make such an announcement. I was in my 30's before I did it. Perhaps, I waited too long. Perhaps, he didn't wait long enough. It's OK to be yourself, whoever that is, but sometimes, you need to find out who you are, before you go and announce it to everyone. I know our friends son will be fine because he has some of the greatest parents I've ever seen and plenty of friends to fall back on as well.

Back to my point though, I think as a society, we are forcing our kids to make these decisions way before they need to. And it seems the more we fight for gay equality, the earlier these kids are making the jump from kid to adult. So what's the answer? In my opinion, we should accept kids no matter what. And if Jimmy wants to date Sally this week and Joey next week, then let him be.

That's my opinion, I'd love to hear the opinions from all sides on this one.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A letter from the Senetor

I am of the opinion that this would be a good start. I think it's only fair that if a couple is going to get married that the marriage should be respected by the federal government. It's not forcing anything on states that can't get with the program. But respects the decision of the states that are more progressive.

Dear Stew:
In light of your previous correspondence, I thought you would be interested to know that I recently signed on as a cosponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act of 2011 (S.598).

The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA, P.L.104-199) and would establish for purposes of federal law that an individual is considered married if the marriage is legal in the state where the marriage was performed.

Currently, same-sex partners can be legally married in six states—Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont—and in the District of Columbia. Under DOMA, these legally married couples cannot access the benefits and protections of federal law afforded to opposite-sex married couples. Because I generally believe laws regarding marriage are best left to states, I also believe that when a marriage is legal under state law, federal law should respect the state law’s determination, which is what the Respect for Marriage Act would accomplish.

Best wishes.

Carl Levin

It would be nice if my Canadian marriage was recognized. But, perhaps one day marriage will be legal in Michigan and we'll do it all over again. And I would, do it all again.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What do you get...

....if you divide the 
circumference of your
  jack-o-lantern by it's diameter?

Pumpkin Pi!

 I hope everyone is enjoying the Halloween season. The days are getting cooler around here and the nights a little longer. Setting the stage for a beautifully spooky Halloween. But something is different around here this year. Oh! There's no decorations at the Adams house. That in itself is kinda spooky. But since we won't be home for the holiday this year, we'll just have to make it even better next year.

If you don't pay your funeral bill, we'll dig you up and put you on display!
These are shots of last year.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Blue Fridays

This is being passed along to you from my sister, who is now retired from the US Air Force where she served in the first and second gulf war as well as many other campaigns that few of us know about.

National Picture of the Year:

First Place:

When 2nd Lt. James Cathey's body arrived at the Reno Airport , Marines climbed into the cargo hold of the plane and draped the flag over his casket as passengers watched the family gather on the tarmac.

During the arrival of another Marine's casket last year at Denver International Airport , Major Steve Beck described the scene as so powerful: 'See the people in the windows? They sat right there in the plane, watching those Marines. You gotta wonder what's going through their minds, knowing that they're on the plane that brought him home,' he said
. 'They will remember being on that plane for the rest of their lives. They're going to remember bringing that Marine home. And they should.' 

Second Place:
The night before the burial of her husband's body, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets below the flag. Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her of 'Cat,' and one of the Marines asked if she wanted them to continue standing watch as she slept. 'I think it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it,' she said. 'I think that's what he would have wanted'. 

And finally, A photo that is very hard to look at...
Blue Fridays. Very soon, you will see a great many people wearing blue every Friday. The reason? Americans who support our troops used to be called the 'silent majority.' We are no longer silent, and are voicing our love for God, country and home in record breaking numbers. We are not organized, boisterous or overbearing.

Many Americans, like you, me and all our friends, simply want to recognize that the vast majority of America supports our troops. Our idea of showing solidarity and support for our troops with dignity and respect starts this Friday -- and continues each and every Friday until the troops all come home, sending a deafening message that every red-blooded American who supports our men and women afar, will wear something blue. By word of mouth, press, TV -- let's make the United States on every Friday a sea of blue much like a homecoming football game in the bleachers. If every one of us who loves this country will share this with acquaintances, coworkers, friends, and family, it will not be long before the USA is covered in BLUE and it will let our troops know the once 'silent' majority is on their side more than ever, certainly more than the media lets on. The first thing a soldier says when asked 'What can we do to make things better for you?' is
: 'We need your support and your prayers.' Let's get the word out and lead with class and dignity, by example, and wear something blue every Friday.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fist in the Air

There is no doubt, Joe Louis "The Brown Bomber" was an amazing athlete.

As a professional boxer, he defeated Max Schmeling in a boxing match, shattering the myth of racial superiority back when the Nazi's were gaining speed in Germany. He served America in the segregated army of World War II and fought for the rights of Afro Americans to participate in professional sports. He did this with his fist and determination.

As a Detroit native, it is only fitting that one of Detroit's sporting venues is named after him. The Detroit Red Wings play at Joe Louis Arena. Standing proudly at the foot of the first paved road in the world (Woodward Avenue) you can find this statue. A 24 foot long bronze arm and fist representing Joe's fist, suspended in the middle of the busiest intersection in the city. It's an amazing sculpture and a nice tribute. For those who know who Joe Louis was, it's great. How does this reflect on a city that does not have such a good image for those that might be visiting though? Imagine that you are visiting the city for the first time and you know nothing of a boxer from the WW2 era. You just see a giant fist, in the heart of the city. Is Detroit really that tough of a town? And look out Canada, this thing is pointed right at you.

What's my point?

This is what we are teaching our children. This is a tough town and you better be ready. Or get out of the way. This is what Laura commented about my previous post Will it get Better
i've been thinking of your 'bully' posts...and with all the 'bully' attention on tv lately. i wanted to come back and add a few words to what i said...
i think that in the workplace...bullying shouldn't be tolerated. i know i said in another comment that firing them wouldn't change them...but maybe if they find themselves out of work...over and over again...they MIGHT start to THINK about their actions.
as far as bully, they shouldn't be tolerated either...and if other kids step in and stick up for those that are being c an only help.
kid bullies have to be learning this behavior from somewhere...they're not born a bully...are they? are they bullied at home? do their parents bully other people?
i don't know. standing up to a bully wherever possible...i guess is the first step... 

I thought it deserved revisiting as well.

Looking back at my own childhood, I was worthy of being picked on or bullied. I was quite different. The thing that got me through was the fact that I was able to befriend the right people. When I got bullied, and it was often, there would always be someone there to defend me. Someone would stand up and say " Knock it off, leave him alone". If I were to run into anyone from my childhood today, I would want it to be one of those people that stood up for me. I would thank them for standing up to those bullies for a kid that couldn't do it. It surprised me when my friend killed himself because I always looked up to him. I thought he was the strong one. But perhaps he wasn't as strong as I thought and maybe he needed someone to stand up for him. I wish that I could have done that.

As for workplace bullying, I find it funny that the district manager that I wrote of before, just issued a memo to all employees that anyone caught bullying or harassing anyone else would be terminated immediately. Why is it that she doesn't see herself as a bully?

And if I were mayor of Detroit, I would move that fist sculpture to in front of Joe Louis Arena where it would make more sense. It seems that everything in there is about hockey and the Red Wings. Joe Louis was a fighter. Maybe that's why we have so many fights in hockey games.

But as with my own childhood, we need to teach the good kids to stand up for those that are being bullied. We need to lead by example and "don't perpetuate the hate". Every little bit helps.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lions and Tigers and Bears and Deer too!

Last night was a long one. I started out driving at 2:30 pm. I picked up the limousine and headed to the funeral home to pick up the owner and a few of his friends. Our local sports teams are doing quite well lately and they got their hands on some Monday night football tickets to see the Detroit Lions take on the Chicago Bears. They started their night out catching the Detroit Tiger's game on a big screen at a local bar in Detroit. So they really did see Lions and Tiger and Bears!
Oh My!

For the sports enthusiast, the Tigers lost and the Lions won.

By the time I was heading home, it was 2:30am. Of course it was dark and because of our unseasonably warm October days, it was foggy as the night chill set in. As I drove along with the fog lights illuminating the pavement in front of my car and the headlights off, I'd catch the occasional glimpse of a dear or other animal along the side of the road, grazing on the long grass in the ditches. You could see the eyes of the animals reflecting the lights back at me. This made me think first that evolution has really helped us to be able to see them as we drive and avoid the hazards of them wondering out in to the road.
But then I thought, I'm sure that their eyes did this before there were cars. And I started to think about what actually makes their eyes do that. You can see it in almost all animals.
Then I remembered back to the morning before as I made my way home from my other night job and the children were walking to school in the fog. Their eyes don't glow!
Why do you suppose that we humans don't have the same thing in our eyes that make them glow in the dark as our mammal counterparts.

Stayin' Alive

I always wondered what those AAA bumper stickers meant 
when I was a kid...
"Bringem' Back Alive"

Happy Halloween


Sunday, October 9, 2011


I never knew my grandparents on my mother's side. When my mother was eleven years old, her father moved her and her mother to Detroit to start a new job. Her older brothers were both off fighting in World War 2.

As most people were in 1945, they were poor and looking for work anywhere they could. Her mother had found employment driving military trucks from Detroit, where they were made, to destinations all over the country. Her father found work in a small Detroit factory.

This world was evolving a little too fast for this man from Northern Michigan. Just the thought of the new trains traveling at " a mile-a-minute " scared him enough to leave his job with the railroad and make the move to Detroit.

He was Native American and believed this world was in trouble the way things were going. He was also very superstitious. There were just some things he would not do because of his combination of beliefs. One of his biggest fears was the day, Friday the thirteenth. He did not like to even set foot out the door on that day. He said, "No good could come from it"

It was August 1945 and the thirteenth was approaching. He told his new employer that he would not be able to work that day being that it was also a Friday. His boss replied by telling him that if he didn't show up, then he could forget about his job all together.

The night of the twelfth, he dreamed of white horses trampling over him. He awoke many times in the night sweating and catching his breath from "running from the horses". The morning of the thirteenth finally came. He sat at the table drinking his coffee and explaining to my grandmother that he had seen his own death. She comforted him and made him some oatmeal. He refused to eat it, saying his stomach was too upset.

As he walked out the door, his wife called to him saying that he'd forgotten his lunch pail. He responded telling her that he "would be going home before lunch".

At 9:45am on Friday, August 13, 1945 there was a freak explosion involving chemicals and a heat source that instantly leveled the front of the factory and set the remainder ablaze. After the fire department extinguished the flames, my grandfather could not be located. It was hours later when a newspaper delivery boy came up to a fireman and told him there was a black man sitting against the back door of the small factory. Upon investigation, they found it was in fact a Native American, not a "black man". He'd squatted down to smoke his pipe on his first break of the day when a burst of flames engulfed him from inside the factory. My grandfather never saw it coming except for the white horses the night before.

This ability to "see" things has been handed down in our family. My mother claims that when her brother had an accident in California, she was awakened by her mother, that had died many years prior, and told of it. Only to have the phone ring a couple hours later with the official news. And when my cousin was killed in an auto accident, there were several of us that knew before we were told. I have one sister that seems to be very connected to "the other side". She's learned to deal with it the best she can.

Then there is me...
From an early age, I have seen people that no one else seems to see. They always seem lost or surprised that I was looking at them. I've never been afraid of any of them. There has always been a peacefulness about the whole experience. None have ever startled me, until one evening a few years ago.

Seventeen years ago, I had my house built. There was never a house here before. Only a farm field. The nearest cemetery is over a mile away. There has never been a death in my house other than a cat, rabbit and the occasional house plant. I have never experienced anything at any of the funeral homes that I work at and never had my work "follow me home".

So there I was at the kitchen sink. My dog Pugsley was laying by the front door. You can see the door from the kitchen so we could keep an eye on each other. Suddenly he started growling. It was a warning type growl. I asked him what was the matter and as I turned too see him, there between us stood a familiar young man with a long face. He seemed very sad. I couldn't quite place where I knew him from. Startled, I tried to refocus, thinking that I was seeing things. That's when he disappeared. Pugsley came running to me very scared and was uneasy the rest of the night.

It was about a week later when the young man returned. This time, I was alone in my home office. I was working on the computer and could sense someone standing behind me. When I turned, I knew exactly who it was.

Years earlier, I lost a good friend to suicide. He'd called me at work wanting to talk. When I told him I couldn't talk and that I'd come over after work, I had no idea it was the last time, I'd hear his voice. I blamed myself for not being able to be there for him. I carried that blame around for more than twenty years. That night, through my brief encounter with him on that second evening, alone in my office, I was able to put that guilt to rest. His problems were his own. There was nothing that I could have done. As hard as we perceived it to be to handle his death, it's what needed to happen for everything to be just the way it is today. He was able to release me from my guilt and I was able to forgive him. I'm very fortunate to have had that experience and I'm happy that I am better experienced to help when someone else is going through the pain of suicide.

I believe that we each create our own world. That we let people instill fear in us. We almost welcome it. My grandfather created a life of fear for himself. While he had nothing to do with the explosion that took his life, he created the world around him that took him out the back door to smoke his pipe, instead of joining the other workers down the street for coffee. He lived in fear of the Great War and died two days before it ended.

My friend let others in his life lead him to believe that he was no good. He called me that night before his death because I was good to him. He needed some love. But sometimes people don't reach out. Sometimes, they just want to disappear. So we all need to show our love to our friends and family the best way we can. We don't all get that second chance to say what we need to say. So we better get it right the first time, or keep trying.

Finally, I was reminded today of an analogy. It says that most people think that perception is like a flashlight in the dark, illuminating whatever it is aimed at. The truth, however, is that instead of revealing what is there, it creates it.
Your perception of the world, creates your world.
If that's true, then why not perceive something nice. And then share with others, your amazing world.

Friday, October 7, 2011


In wondering about the early color change of the primary maple tree in our yard, I did a little research to find out why some trees turn earlier and why there are all the different colors. We have had a lot of rain the last month or so with the path that this season's hurricanes took across the country. When one came up through the South and the other went up the East coast, the first one couldn't go anywhere. It sat on top of us for nearly a week. As it spun around, the Great Lakes seem to fuel it enough water to keep it going indefinitely until the coast was clear (pun intended) and it could move on out of here. All that water has given the trees here an unusual autumn life. While they typically would be turning brown and getting ready for winter, they have seen a new life. Now that we are experiencing cooler nights and bright sunny days, we are gearing up for quite a show.
Although the annual show of color is a visual treat for humans, it serves a very practical purpose. As trees prepare for the onset of winter, they leech the sugars and nutrients from their leaves, in essence moving valuable sustenance to their protected insides so they can stay alive through the cold and dark of the coming season.

As nutrients are sucked out, the leaves gradually lose their rich green color, fading to the familiar fall colors of yellow and gold.
However, the rich reds on display in autumn are a different story. As summer wanes, some tree species manufacture a substance called anthocyanin, which helps them winterize. Anthocyanin is the same substance that lends red cabbage its purplish hue, and turns leaves crimson and scarlet. In addition to moisture, temperature is also one of the drivers of fall color. Specifically, variation in temperature.

Ideal conditions for bright displays would be sunny, warm days and cold nights. It's that alternating that promotes the production of the anthocyanin pigment. We have certainly seen our share of alternating warm and cold here in Michigan this year as well as extra moisture. We've also seen a lot of wind out of the North. So the fact that our second tree is on the South side and protected from the wind by many other trees could very well be why we have seen no change in it yet. Even the burning bush has had only a few leaves turn red. Now, there's a brilliant display each autumn.

We've also seen an extra growth of lawn weeds this season. They seem to pop up over night and be 3 feet tall by mid-day.

This has been an exceptional year for the area apple orchards and the coming frost should bring us a wealth of my favorite, the granny smith.  You can just smell the autumn in the air. But it will have to wait for a bit as we are forcast to be in the 80's all weekend with cool nights. It's going to be a pretty one!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


OK, I'll never be this "in to" my music while driving the hearse.

Unless ABBA comes on my mp3 player.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Where does it come from?

In relation to my last post and a few other blogs that I follow, I thought I'd continue with this thought....

Where does the bullying come from?
In my line of work, we deal daily with people that have suffered a loss. A sympathetic ear and comforting words and actions, are what we do best. However, I have my secondary job in retail. Over the years I have seen many "bosses" come and go. Some are a pleasure to work for. Others you dread when their name is mentioned. What's the difference? How they go about getting their job done. They both have to set goals and try to achieve them. The first kind of boss will give you a goal along with the necessary tools to get to the desired results. The other will tell you what your goal is and expect you to get it done. Granted, you are hired to do a job and should be competent enough to figure it out. Where the trouble comes in is how it is presented.

We recently had a change in middle management in our company. The contrast between the old and new district managers (DM) is enormous. The new DM sends out emails that say things like "This MUST be done by Monday!" or "This is unacceptable!". While these statement may be true, I think there are better ways to get your team on board with your goals. We never received emails like that from the old DM. Both styles get the results eventually. But the fact is, we are now being bullied into getting the work done. If you ask me, this perpetuates. If you have someone yelling at you all day, you are going to go home and yell at your kids...." You have to mow the lawn!" or "Take that trash out!" The child then learns to yell at his/her friends to get whatever they want. And when someone doesn't fit with what they see as normal, they tend to call that to every one's attention.

In my opinion, yelling gets you no where. And an exclamation point in an email, constitutes yelling. So does ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. This style of management should not be tolerated by the corporate world. It is surprising to me that it is let go. It's an email. It can be forwarded to anyone and saved for evidence against you. Why do we put up with it? Because we let them intimidate us. We let them push us around.

This is a form of bullying. It's a grown up version, but bullying all the same. We should expect that the children will take what they learn from us and give it an immature twist.

Even our corporate policy on diversity at the store is forced on us instead of embraced. The fact that if you're "caught" saying something against someone you can be terminated, is a threat. Instead we should be taught by example. What I've learned, is that some people don't understand examples. If it's not a rule or a threat, than they just don't understand.

So, how do I cope with the bullying at work?
I apply my skills from my other job. I understand that these people are acting the only way they know how. I don't fight back. I show them "my way" whenever I can. It's rare that I make any noise and cause a commotion. And if I can effect even just one other person, then I have done my job.

Do we need to fire those at the top that are bullying us?
No. We need to show them there are other ways. By being that example, it's likely that we will go far. And if your company decides to side with the bully, then perhaps there's someplace better out there for your skills.

I believe that this is where bullying comes from. It's become so commonplace in our world that no one even notices it. And they don't see that our kids are learning it.
Email, text, tweets and any other electronic ways of communicating can be impersonal for those making the comments. It's rare that they would say something like that to your face. But for the person on the receiving end, it can be taken even harder than the spoken word. It can be read over and over until you actually start to believe it. It hurts.

Laws will not change this. We just need to stop teaching the kids that this is how to get things done.
Lead by example.