Saturday, December 31, 2011

The start of something wonderful - 2012

Thank you for loving me, for teaching me, for showing me the way.
 to all of the people who have been there for me in big ways and in small ones,
 from old friends to new ones-


Find love, Lose weight, Get a new job. It seems like you can't get away from hearing about resolutions at this time of year. 
Perhaps we set our goals too high sometimes or we waste our efforts "trying" to do something. This year, I suggest something different. Let's all "try" to be ourselves. Be proud of everything that we have and that we've done. These things have made us the wonderful persons that we are and should be celebrated.

Tonight we will be bringing in the New Year again in Downtown Mt.Clemens enjoying the fireworks. Join us, even if only in spirit as we start the New Year by celebrating the old.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Time for a new car

Thousands of mourning North Koreans turned out for the memorial to say farewell to their long time leader Kim Jong-Il Wednesday morning.

The three hour procession was led by Kim Jong-Un, who walked beside his father's coffin as they traveled through the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang, where dead North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung is entombed.

We are yet to see what may transpire in North Korea with their new leader. However if I were leader, one of the first things I would do is replace those 1970's limousines with something a little newer. Some fine cars come from Japan, South Korea and even China. And the best they can do is old Lincolns?!

Sources: Associated Press and

The Case of the Loud Cemetery

A Councilman in Louisiana is so upset over colorful tombs in one cemetery that he is proposing a ban on them entirely.
Alvin Tillman, a councilman from the town of Terrebonne, is proposing a law to restrict the color a tomb can be painted. Included, the law would also require the colorful tombs be painted white. 
"We want to stop this before it gets out of hand", Tillman said. "Before you know it you'll go out there and the cemetery will look like Mardi Gras."

(Photo Credit: Christopher/Augafel)

A public hearing on the proposed law will be held on January 11, after the local Developing and Planning Committee approved of the proposal. If it passes, anyone who breaks the law would be charged with a misdemeanor.

I may be wrong here, but isn't it the job of the government in America to represent the people of the area that you are governing? If that's the case and the people that have family in this cemetery all seem to agree that they like it more colorful, then shouldn't the cemetery be painted this way. I don't see anything wrong with this at all. I'm just wondering if a cemetery like this one operates the same as the ones in New Orleans. As you know, we recently visited the St. Louis Cemetery #1 in New Orleans. There, the cemetery is run by the Catholic church and they do have rules about what color a grave can be painted. And the rule is white. There seems to be one local artist that has painted his family grave a funky blue and they let it slide. And there are still others that are not painted at all. But at least there, the rule is if it is painted, then it must be white. 
I can see how a white wash would be easier to maintain over time. And maybe that should be the default color. But to tell so many people that have put so much effort into this craft that they can not do it, seems a little unamerican.

Sources: The Associated Press and 

Post Post:
I had no idea until after I posted this that there is a cemetery here in Michigan named Loud Cemetery.
Sorry about any confusion. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Contagiously Inspirational

Try not to become a man of success but a man of value....
-Albert Einstein

As some of you know, I work the midnight shift at the drug store near my home. There, I have the most amazing inspiration for many of my post as well as much of my life. I get to interact with the public there, more than anywhere that I have ever worked before. I also get to work with some awesome people. One of which is the store manager. He is an inspiration in himself. The man just doesn't know how to say NO when it comes to getting the job done. He is an avid hunter and in his spare time mentors city youth in getting outdoors and discovering all that nature holds for them. In February, he will be honored with an award from a national organization for being the positive roll model that he is. We couldn't be more proud to know him. He does all this with out the need for praise and even thinks that we don't know all that he is up to. I mention him because he is such an inspiration to me and is the reason that I have stayed with the company for the past five years although I don't really need the employment. And daily, he reminds me of how much of an inspiration I am to him. I guess we feed off each other in that respect. He is always bragging to others that he is a better man having known me. And I feel the same about him.

I don't feel that I do that much really to inspire others, but my manager would say differently. I simply treat each customer as I would like to be treated. They are each in their own place in the world. Each person that I interact with, I greet with a smile and happily help them with anything that they need. I'm also constantly looking for new and innovative ways to make their shopping experiences easier and better. I've as well stream lined the inventory and ordering process to make life easier for the other employees on a weekly basis. If this makes me an inspiration, then I am left wondering what is going on in the rest of the company.

I am simply kind to others and find ways to make every one's life easier. I think that we all underestimate our power to make the world a better place. If everyone smiled at strangers and helped the people around them, think of how wonderful this world would be. Simple, random acts of kindness when people least expect it. It will make their day. These acts will spawn and inspire other acts and the cycle will continue. If we stop thinking of ourselves only, and recognize other peoples positions, we could inspire a new world. Will winter solstice 2012 be the end of the world as we know it? I hope that it comes faster than that. It is my goal this Christmas season and into the new year to be even more of an inspiration than in the past.

 I hope to be contagiously inspirational

I wish each and every one of the readers here a wonderful holiday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New house, Christmas Parties and World Records

If you all remember back to mid September, we took a short trip to Hell.
While we were there, took part in an attempt to obtain a world record for the longest parade of hearses.
Well, I recently received an email that read like this:

" Congratulations! You are now OFFICIALLY a Guinness World Record Holder!
You can read more about it at
And as always, more information will be added to the site, as it becomes available. "

And to catch everyone up on the happenings here at home, it's been a slow month so far for funerals. But don't think that I'm not doing anything or that I'm bored.
 This is my sister, who stayed at our house watching our dog Pugsley while we were gone on our trip. She is standing in front of her new house just two miles from my house, that she purchased after we got back. It is a large house with plenty of space for anything you could want to do in a house.
She is taking on a new role now that Mom is gone. She will be hosting all our family functions and even welcoming stray family in to her many empty rooms.
One huge thing that she will be taking on is bring our father into her home. There is a beautiful main floor master suite that he will be staying in. Here we will all be able to take part in caring for him. He will be 88 years young next month. He misses Mom very much and needs the family interaction that he is missing while living in the assisted living residence that he and Mom moved into three and a half years ago. My sister that is a chef will be preparing his meals daily and I have always taken care of his finances and medications. Having him in the house will make it easier for everyone to pitch in and care for the man that gave everything for his eight children. We are all looking forward to many happy years in this new home.

However, the previous owners did not seem to love this house as much as we do. There has been an extensive list of fixes that have to be done. We are having our first Christmas celebration in the home on Friday! We still don't have a living room floor installed and "stuff" is everywhere!

 The weather has been unseasonably warm. I took this shot of this sweet william yesterday in my garden. Although the leaves are all gone from the trees, the grass is still green and flowers are still blooming. The river that is between my house and my sister's new place has flooded several times this fall because of all the rain. This has brought up issues with the new basement flooding as well. And we've yet to have a snow that has stuck around longer than a few hours.

Just to make life a little more interesting, I just learned of a funeral for Saturday morning that I must do. This when combined with the Christmas gathering on Friday and the fact that Ed has sent out invitations to a New Orleans, Mardi Gras style Christmas party at our house on Saturday, will mean that there is no resting for me. You might recognize the mask here from our Mardi Gras costumes on board the ship. And the rest of the tree decorations are all new for our new love of the purple, green and gold. We had to do something with all those beads.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Travel Recap

"Travel has a way of stretching the mind. The stretch comes not from travel's immediate rewards, the inevitable myriad of new sights, smells and sounds, but with experiencing firsthand how others do differently what we believed to be the right and only way."
- Ralph Crawshaw

On this trip, we learned so much of how things are not only done in other countries, but of the differences here in our own country. We were taken by surprise with all that we encountered and the new friends that we met along the way.

Daily in the funeral business, we experience customs and rituals of all faiths. And we see those that chose not to join a religion as well. We don't just bury people. We help the families to celebrate the lives of the one that they have lost, whatever life that was. Some are long, some are short. We don't sit and judge anyone. We respect the life that they chose for themselves. Then we honor that life by presenting a funeral custom tailored to the families wishes.

In life, I try to do the same. We are all free to chose our own destiny. To live as we see fit. The choices made by anyone, are no more right or wrong than the choices made by you or I.

I know that the followers of this blog, have a very diverse background and I embrace all of you. I wish that each and every one of you had been there along with us. 
Since that wasn't possible, I hope that you enjoyed what I have shared here on these pages.  

The cultures that we learned about on our travels will stay with us forever. This is what I love about travel. It changes you, in a good way. It broadens your view of the world as long as you take the time to leave yourself at home. Embrace the culture around you. Even if just for a day, take in the atmosphere of the place that you are visiting. Experience all that is out there beyond your front door.
In this festive season as you visit friends and family, do the same. Embrace the traditions and differences at their homes. No one is right, no one is wrong. We are simply enjoying each others company and learning to live.

Lastly, remember; "The road to a friends house, is never long."
- Danish Proverb

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Forth Stop; Cozumel, Mexico

 Our forth stop on our Caribbean adventure brought us to Cozumel, Mexico. It's a small island off the coast of the Yukatan Peninsula. Last year, when we took our parents on a cruise, this was the only stop on the short cruise. Ed and I got off the ship back then and did a wonderful shore excursion. But we were quite unimpressed with the island as a whole, from what we had seen.

 So we opted to not book anything for this leg of our trip. Instead we decided to prove to ourselves that Cozumel was a nice place to visit.

We disembarked the ship with no destination in mind. We had been invited to the group gathering at Senor Frogs, later in the day. But other than that we were off on an adventure to discover what this island had to offer.
 We stayed right in town and decided it was not a good idea to try and drive in a place that was foreign to us. So we found ourselves wandering around the streets discovering whatever we could.
 The shops near the ship had people positioned outside, begging us to come in and see their shop. Promising us that we didn't have to buy anything, just come in and look.

So we agreed that the first shop that didn't beg us to come in would be the one that we would go in.

Other than this donkey out front, no one begged us at this shop and this is where I found that kewl wooden jar that I showed you a couple of post ago.
 The shore line of this town was so beautiful. And because of being an island, thirty miles off the coast, we felt more comfortable walking around freely than if we had visited someplace like Cancun on the main land. The crime and violence in Mexico is out of hand lately. And we had to be safe.
 We found this town square and were able to catch our breath and relax for a bit.
 That's when we were approached by this fellow looking for a hand out. I don't quite know what to give an iguana though and he didn't speak English. So he went away empty clawed.

We relaxed in the square for a little while longer and then decided to join our friends for a private party over

 at Senor Frogs. We had arranged earlier for a private party there that was open bar for one admission price. I thought the price was steep and decided that I was going to get my moneys worth.

I'm not much of a drinker and tequila is not my thing at all. So the rest of the day is a bit of a blur.
 We got ourselves a table by the open window and enjoyed the view outside as much as the party going on inside.

They came over and made balloon hats for us and gave us a "yard" to drink from.

Then they came around with shots of tequila just in case we weren't having a good time yet.

The waiters were quite entertaining and kept the place going strong until it was time to head back to the ship.

 We had this picture taken of us and didn't realize until after that we were sitting with our ship right behind us. That isn't a picture on the wall. That is really our ship across the street.
At this point, we had totally forgotten about even having a home to go back to.

When we finally made it (somehow) back to the ship, this guy was swinging from the ceiling. (Our third towel animal) He and I spent a little while together recuperating from Cozumel. I was a little more impressed this time around.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Third Stop : Roatan, Honduras

We awoke the next morning at one of the most beautiful ports, I've seen. 
Roatan, Honduras.
The port itself was very small and you can clearly see the surrounding town and countryside.
As we exited the protected port area, the sales pitches began. "We'll take you here or there for cheaper", "Don't support the rich, help the real people of Honduras".
It was heartbreaking that they were out there begging the "rich Americans" for anything that they could get.
This being our third stop on this trip, we were getting used to this. 

 On the ride out to the resort in the taxi van, our escort was telling us about the school system. He was a high school student, working to help support his family; His mother had 13 children. The schools all share one building. The youngest children go first thing in the morning, with the middle age children right behind. The high school kids are free to work in the day and go to school in the evening.

They are a very religious island. The main religion is Penticostal with Catholic a close second. Having grown up in the Penticostal church, I know that it is filled with a lot of rules for life. And the list of dos and don'ts are mainly just don'ts. Like in Belize, the average daily wage is very low and again the lucky ones are the people that work in the tourism field. While we certainly don't see ourselves as rich, in their eyes, we have more than they will ever need.

"The real voyage of discovery consist not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

Having traveled quite a bit in my life, I have learned though, these people don't seek to have what I have. For the most part, they don't understand why we even want all the "stuff" that we have. I have learned that I can visit these areas, compensate those that help me to obtain what I am looking for and leave the rest as I have found it. Along the way, I take it all in, with an understanding of how things are done elsewhere from my home.

And as Robert Louis Stevenson said; "There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign."

So with all that in mind, we progressed out to an amazing beach resort. When we arrived, we walked through a hotel/condo area with an amazing reflecting pool with waterfalls and bridges. We were lead out to the beach and given a private spot to unwind and enjoy the day. As we started to relax, some of the beach vendors started to approach. They were selling everything from beaded necklaces to fresh coconuts, cut open and ready to enjoy. They had sea shells and towels and anything else you could think of. We noticed that if you were nice to one, the others would follow and it started getting so we could not relax.
So we started mingling more. That's when I was finally able to get the chance to catch up with Jason and deMarco who were the headlining singers on the ship. It was their personal invitation that got me to take this trip in the first place. Being celebrities, they were constantly surrounded with groupies and it was nice to finally have a few minutes alone with them on the beach to catch up on everything that's been going on in all of our lives since we last saw each other.

After catching up, we made our way out to enjoy some of that Caribbean Sea at our feet. The warm salt water and air are quite a contrast to here at home.

After our dip, we started looking for a quieter place to relax and chanced upon this little slice of heaven.

Then the waiter suggested that we hit the pool. Well, we didn't see a pool. So we asked where that was and we were informed that we passed it on the way in.

It turns out that the fancy reflecting pool with all the waterfalls, is the pool.
So we made our way out there. The scenery there was just as beautiful as at the beach and it was much quieter as well.

After relaxing by the pool for a while, we all noticed that our beautiful sunny day was starting to turn cloudy. The staff at the resort told us of an impending storm coming and recommended that we head back to the ship.

Feeling completely rejuvenated and refreshed, we did just that.
Here's Ed saying good bye to a very beautiful place in the world.
Thanks for and amazing day.
That's when we spotted this rainbow over my shoulder.

The sun setting in the West and the storm coming in from the East created a beautiful end to a great day.
We were starting to feel completely disconnected from the stress of home at this point.

After everyone was back on board and we left the port, we could see the storm hitting the island where we were just at. I think the captain had it in Hyperdrive to get us out of there before it got rough.