Monday, November 1, 2010

And we're back!

Sorry for the looonnggg delay between posts. Lots going on in the real world.

Anyhow...we are now in NOVEMBER which, in the Catholic Church is the time for souls.
Whose souls? ALL SOULS.

Saint Therese of the Child Jesus

There was a time, (notice how I keep saying how there USED to be a time whenever I speak about the church militant? Sad. Very.), when one could expect to encounter any number of people strolling about the cemetery, rosary beads in hand praying prayers for the dead, especially in the first 8 days of November.

Whether you believe this or not, our prayers do help the departed. So take some time in the next 8 days. Find a cemetery and say a little prayer for the souls of those who have left their marble/granite/bronze calling cards in the place.

All you lose is maybe a few minutes. Someone else may gain peace for all eternity.

Infant's Marker, Calvary, Whittier, CA

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Stacked one on top the other...

Cremation niches, Hollywood Forever

Not even in death can one escape thier fellow Los Angelean. They stack 'em up high like cordwood out here.

In both life and death, we are all just too close for comfort in LA. The thought for this post came to me as I watched our more or less all the time tispy neighbor park her car OVER the line of some one's driveway, thus blocking most of it.

The owners of said driveway came home, had an awful time getting in their drive. Within minutes, the more or less nasty guy who lives there came out and placed what I guess is a more or less nasty note on the more or less tispy person's car.

Now, I could have told the tispy person to come move her car, could have told the nasty guy who had blocked them in....but as the nasty people have the highly excitable and audible dogs that bark all day long while their people are away...I decided, "screw it!", let 'em stew!

I know. Not nice of me. Not at all.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Oh, and by the way...

Baby marker from Calvary Catholic, Whittier, CA
Today, Sunday, October 3rd, was Respect Life Sunday.

Please join me in praying to end abortion. Not only does it still the beating heart of the baby, it also breaks the heart of the Mother who opted for what she was told was the "right choice".

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Feast of the Guardian Angels

Detail from window in Children's wing, Sunnyside, Longbeach, CA

This coming Saturday, October 2nd, marks the Feast of the Guardian Angels in the Catholic Church.

Surely, you cradle RC's can remember;

Angel of God, My Guardian Dear
to whom God's love commits me here.
Ever this day be at my side

to light and guard and rule and guide.

Grave yard Rabbits especially need a good Guardian Angel at their side, particuarly when investigating places like say...Inglewood. Or Angelus-Rosedale.

When I first blew into town, I thought NOTHING of just chugging into wilds of West Adams/Crenshaw district to go and photograph Angelus-Rosedale. Oh, yeah, leave the purse in the car, the whole bit as I meandered about, camera in hand.

So without further ado, lets's explore some of the angels of LA's grave yards.

This trio of winged love all hail from Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Whittier over near the LA Morgue. Within the gates, all is well. Outside is a different issue. Never the less, the visual treats that await within Calvary are almost worth the threat of a stray bullet crashing through the windshield.

Being a Catholic burying ground, angels abound.

I've often thought that this image would make a great Christmas card for an out of state relative and it would read:

"Merry Christmas! Please don't die next year!
I can't afford the airfare if you do."

More winsome winged wonders from Whittier.

Some angels give directions....going up!

One of my personel favorites!
Angels, angels everywhere!!

So give a shout-out of thanks to your Guardian Angel on Saturday!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Saint Michael the Archangel...

Defend us in battle we pray!
There was a time when every Catholic child in America knew the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel by heart:
Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Of course, them days is done. It is even far rarer for a church to recite the prayer at the close of mass like they used to, mores the pity. Thankfully, there is one church near me that still follows the old school mass. They may be in a crummy area but their pews are full. Hmm...wonder why?
St. Michael also used to be a favorite in the cemetery too. The example pictured above comes to you via Calvary Catholic in Whittier, CA. Sadly, the sword for his hand and the chains to bind the evil one must have rotted or fallen away at some point and never got replaced.
Tomorrow, I hope to go to Green Hills and snap the Saint Michael monument there in honor of a fallen solider.
Hopefully one day, the angel with the flaming sword will stage a comeback in cemetery art. I don't see why he wouldn't. Not only does he provide great visual, but he'll protect your monument or marker from demonic hoodlums intent on smashing it!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Four more ties bind us to heaven...

...four more links are broken here.

This is the month in which my family can count as four the number called home; Grandma Mary Jane and Aunt Mary Lou, (1968) Sister Audrey, (1992) and Great Uncle Jess, (1998).

My Grandpa Lloyd always used to remark that if he had to chose a time of the year to "go home" as he put it, he guessed that September would be the best month of them all. Next to June, he considered it to be the loveliest of months and I would have to agree with him.

In the Midwest, September still holds a gentle warmth but with just a teasing hint of crisp and cool. The shadows lengthen, the leaves start to turn, the sky takes on a certain shade of...oh, I don;t know what you'd call that color blue but it's just a blue that is unique to that time of the year.

Yes, if one had to close their eyes to this world, September in Iowa might just be the best time if not for you then certainly for those left behind to attend the funeral. Harvest hasn't started yet so you're sure to get a good crowd. The weather is perfect for standing outside on the hill under the open sky. No spitting rain mixed with snow, no river to come up and flood the road and turn the place to mush. Just the sun and the turning fields.

I have often wondered if my sister's monument has posed a little mystery for the Grave yard fans of South Eastern Iowa. Back in the early '90's, hers was one of a kind and one of the first "portrait" markers to make an appearance in the Winfield cemetery.
(The last I was ever there, 2004, I was glad to note that we had started a trend so to speak)
Anyone who can do simple math can figure that Audrey was 34 at the time of her death and yet, the picture on the marker would lead one to believe that she was a little girl. What gives, right?
The fact is that in many ways, sister was a little girl. She never got that tall, she never seemed to age much. At 34, she could still pass for her teens. Audrey spent the majority of her life, 33 years in fact, severely handicapped. She died of complications from pneumonia from a bad flu bug that some well meaning visitor had brought into the nursing home the month before.
When it came time to create her monument, my Mother wanted something that was a stand out, something that would last, something that people would stop and gaze at and wonder. I would say that between her and the designer in Burlington, IA, they did a heck of a job.
Unlike most of the stones in that cemetery which are all facing west into town, the ones for my branch of the family are facing one another. Some are facing west and some, like Audrey's, face east.
(I forget Granpa's reasoning behind this set up but it suits us very well for we appear to be sitting down at the big dinning room table, starting with the oldest to the youngest. Should Mother Marie, a devote Seventh Day Adventist be correct in that the dead in Christ shall rise first, we Chrisingers will have nothing to see but one another when the trump shall sound)
At any rate, there is a spot next to Audrey which is mine. Yes, I have laid on it, even danced on it just to say that I could and did in fact dance on my grave. Someday I should love for a huge and somewhat terrifying angel to sprout up in that place with spread out wings and an unsheathed sword. Oh, how I should love to even start the rumors behind the armed angel of the Chrisingers if only to give the future grave yard rabbits a little mystery to figure out!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wonderful things!

I am very fortunate in that not only am I located in the midst of some of the most incredible cemeteries outside of Chicago, I also get to work in the business of memorization in assisting families with marker designs that pay tribute to their loved ones.

Often, one will need cemetery property to go with that marker. Yeah, we do that too and it just so happens that one of the properties we currently have for sale is located in Forest a place called Holly Terrace.

Until last year, Holly Terrace was a sleepy mausoleum that was home to numerous stained glass windows and a couple of Hollywood stars; WC Fields and "Good Time" Wally Reid. And then a certain young man moved in and suddenly the place was hot property in more ways than one.

Security had always been tight but now it was racked up to the levels of Fort Knox. Getting an audience with his Holiness the Pope was easier than obtaining entry into Holly Terrace even for property owners.

Which was fine by me because up to last Saturday, so far as I was knew, Holly Terrace was likely just another Forest Lawn "Disney" production of look-a-like crypts and regulation plaques.
I also envisioned little animated cherub figures dancing and chirping "It's a Small World!" over and over.
Thanks, but I'll pass.

And then last Saturday, I finally got to go inside.

There is a story of the person who first spied the contents of King Tut's tomb. He was leaning in thru a hole, light held high. The people behind him called out,
"What do you see??"
and he replied with wide eyed amazement,
"Wonderful things!"

The minute the potential buyer and the seller where settled in front of the property, I took off like a shot, keenly aware that this may be my one and only chance to check out the premises if only in five minutes.
Pausing in the main hall, I said a "Hail Mary" for the young man entombed beneath the windows of Christ's return to heaven and then skedaddled my way towards pools of light.

I wish that my eyes were a camera and that I could blink and copy here all that I saw.
A huge window of a boy and his dog entitled "Faith". A woman in an Edwardian high collar looking up from her book informed me that she depicted "Wisdom".

Marble statues abounded. Not a weeping angel in the lot but rather graceful young women dancing and chubby babies gurgling. Here was life, here was joy...

Rays of pure sunlight streamed through a Tudor style window and played on the marble floor below. In that one moment I could have been in a medieval castle or a monastery. Or perhaps the foyer of an east coast ivy league school. I could have been one of a hundred different places.

And then I found it; what is possibly the most unusual window I have ever seen in such a setting as this; the Christmas window.

Because the image is copyrighted, I cannot reproduce it here. I can however put up the link:

Who would have thought to have placed such a scene of joy and life within the halls of the silent?

"We like it" whispered the residents, "We like to remember that we lived, we loved and we rejoiced. And now we are all together once more and that is all that matters..."

From a distance, I could hear the five minute warning of the door guard, urging our party to depart. Not wishing to meet with the a squad of Forest Lawn's own boys in blue, I made haste back to the door but not before I noticed a plaque at eye level.

"Dear God," it read,
"Thanks for everything!"

Couldn't have said it better myself!