31 October 2009

A few for Halloween

A few photos from my trip to Greyfriars cemetery in Edinburgh last March where many of the old skull monuments dating back to the late 1700s and early 1800s can still be found. I do love them!

Happy Halloween.


Happy Halloween Everyone

I was gonna save this for a freaky Friday but decided I'd show it to everyone today since it's Halloween and all. What's better than a big ol' spider in a cemetery? I am no expert on arachnids or anything. My rule of thumb is this. If it's not a daddy long leg then there is no way I'm getting close enough to have to smash it or catch it. Normally I won't kill any type of spider but if it gets on me it's risking certain death. This particular spider was brown and hairy and when I walked up it immediately ran to the center of it's web which is the only reason I saw it in the first place. I shivered thinking that if I didn't see it I would have likely walked into the web itself and then looked like a freak running through the cemetery screaming like I was on fire. I can't think of one bug I actually do like or want on me. Let this be a notice to all bugs. If you touch me I probably will kill you. Happy Halloween everyone and thank you for making this blog a success...

30 October 2009

Freaky Friday

This picture was taken at the Santa Clara Mission Cemetery. When I first walked up I was more interested in the elevated casket you see toward the left. But as I looked a little closer I became interested in somebody's home made sleeping arrangements on the right. I thought to myself, hmm at least you'd mostly be blocked from the wind. But could I sleep in a cemetery? Next to someone's grave? I'm not too sure this is my cup of tea. I guess it's working for whoever has been sleeping there. I did feel a little bad that someone out there has reached such a low in their life that they'd have to sleep here. But many times I look at someone and say "Well they've made their own bed. Now they have to lie in it"

27 October 2009

Presidential Tombstone Tuesday

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tombstone Tuesday

I had the opportunity to visit the Santa Clara Mission Cemetery yesterday during my lunch break. Do you ever get that sense of excitement when you pull up to a cemetery and know instantly that you're going to find something interesting? There were so many things to look at and my time was limited so I began following my 6th cemetery sense allowing it to lead me this way and that. During my search I encountered a lot of material. One of the things I came across was this marker you see pictured (click picture for larger photo as always). At first I didn't find anything special until I looked at the name. James Morrison. Of course it's not the real Jim Morrison I know. Well he is technically the real Jim Morrison but not the one we all know and love. The lead singer of The Doors. Anyone that knows me or has become my friend through Facebook knows that I'm a Doors fan and have even done some artwork with Jim Morrison as the focus.

22 October 2009

That Thing Thursday

This week's thing is a tiny lizard. Yes I like lizards. But sadly this little guy climbed into the jar and once in couldn't find his way out in time. He (I use he because I'm a guy and have no way of telling the sex of a dead lizard) was probably climbing in to get a bug that had also been trapped. So with the preservation of wildlife in mind I'll be asking all the people who come to my future grave site to not leave any small jars. Also I like beer but please don't leave me beer either as I'll be deceased and unable to drink it. Instead just drink it yourself in memory of me. Also for the "homies" please don't pour any out on the ground either. I know you guys are poor and probably had to scrape up enough change just to buy it.

Here is a picture of what the entire grave looked like. No doubt it belonged to a child. We spent some time tidying up as it appeared that nobody had been there in quite some time. That is when I noticed the little guy in the picture above. I decided to leave him as I found him. In his final resting place, at the bottom of a jar, in the middle of Benicia City Cemetery. RIP little guy. I'm sure somewhere your lizard family misses you

20 October 2009

The dead are my living.

I write about and take photographs in cemeteries which is still considered a bit odd here in the UK! It began when as a small child I visited deceased family members at the local cemetery with my parents. It was the thing we did one Sunday each month - taking flowers and tidying the graves. Whilst the adults chatted I would wander off and look in amazement at all the angels, doves and crosses. I had always been struck by their beauty and as I got older I began photographing them purely for my own enjoyment. I started showing the photos to other people who said I should do a book but with a then full time job there was never enough time to take more photos and get something together properly.

When I left that job I began writing and doing photography full time and the Silent Cities series was born. Far from my initial fears of people going “Eww cemeteries” or how weird, creepy or depressing the photos were, they were actually saying they were fascinating. I’m now on to volume six in the series. Why the name Silent Cities? It came about when I visited the huge Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris for the first time in September 2006. In total amazement I stood at the highest point overlooking thousands of monuments and said to my husband it looks like a city - a silent city. The name just stuck.

I use the name for the books, calendars and prints which I sell through my website and at various cemetery open days and art events. People tell me I show the beautiful side of cemeteries and help to make death a little less scary, which in my opinion can only be a good thing. I’m also now involved with the restoration and preservation of monuments which may otherwise be lost to reclamation or the elements. I sometimes carry out research about some of the people buried beneath them. I like to think I am helping to bring their stories to life as it were through my photos and work so that future generations may enjoy an important past of our history and heritage.

My website: www.homestead.com/askjeane

The silent cities books are also available from: http://stores.lulu.com/jeanetrendhill

18 October 2009

Benicia Military Cemetery

Before I get into this post I just need to say one thing. Moving stinks and it's great to be back...

I came across Benicia Military Cemetery as I was on my way to show my friend the Clock Tower or Stone Fortress which I'll get to later in this post. The cemetery was established in 1849 and is the oldest military cemetery in the Pacific Northwest. It is the final resting place of 211 people. Included are 123 U.S. Soldiers, 9 German and Italian POWs, 61 civilians of which 18 are unknown and 3 pets. Somehow my camera ate the picture of the 3 pets. I was talking to my boss who was in the military and he said when people first started using dogs nobody wanted to be around the dog. It wasn't until they realized that the dogs could smell the enemy coming a while before a human could detect it that people almost begged the dog handler to be around them. I guess they figured it was better to smell a stinky dog than get killed. That's about the way I would see it too. Lt. Colonel James Mason is the highest ranking individual who is buried here. He was appointed Superintending Engineer for the defenses of the Golden Gate, however he caught yellow fever and died at the age of 36 in 1853. Now that I think of it he must have been a very special soldier to have arisen to such a high rank at a young age. I think in those days you were appointed rank not only on accomplishment but by whether or not your superior was able to stay alive. In other words you had your job until you died or they found somebody better. (before someone says anything I need to give credit for that line to Starship Troopers very poor acting but still an entertaining movie). One thing that struck me about this cemetery is that the stones were all uniform and lined up in rows probably similar to what you'd find if these soldiers were all standing at attention waiting for orders. I will now follow this post with a few pictures of Benicia's rich military history...again it's great to be back

This is what's known as the Clock Tower or what I call the Stone Fortress. It was the first stone fortress built in the far west and for many this was the last thing they saw before going overseas to fight in the war. It was originally built with two towers but was partially destroyed in an accidental explosion in 1912 and was rebuilt with only one.

This was the Commandant's Quarters. It was built in 1860 by Col. Julian McAllister. The leaf work around the pillars and outside of the building was amazing. Apparently inside they have 14 foot high ceilings and 24 inch thick brick walls. The building is currently undergoing renovations and there was no way to go in even though I really wanted to.

This is known as "The third guard house" There isn't a whole lot of information on it other than that. Apparently there used to be a couple earlier guard houses in the area. One of which held a trial for Ulysses S. Grant on a minor offense. This particular building was built in 1872 some 20 years after the first one was built.

10 October 2009

Cemtery Explorers is taking a short break

I just wanted to let you know that for the next week posting will be minimal. I will be moving and will be without internet until next weekend. And Rebecca will be without her PC for the better part of 4 days. I have a lot of pictures I've still yet to sift through so upon my return look for some new posts. I hate moving but I'm sure glad to be getting out of the place I've been living for the last 2 years. It's definitely not the kind of living I'm used to. Well back on my feet and ready to run. Until next week people...

Also I'm always looking for authors be it a one time story you'd like to tell or a regular author like the rest of us. I'm pretty sure if you've been a reader for any period of time you recognize the format. Email me by clicking on my profile and we'll talk. And blogging isn't difficult. If you can send an email you can blog. I'll be at least able to check email from work. Let me know.

09 October 2009

Freaky Friday

I generally try to stay away from the graves of little kids while it seems my girlfriend is drawn to them. My reason is little kids are scary. In every horror movie or ghost story I've ever seen, those that have a little kid are the scariest. Think about it. The Shining, Not only was the main little kid scary it also had those 2 chopped up twins in the hallway. Pet cemetery, Even though the little kid didn't get scary until the end he freaked me out almost as much as that lady in the bedroom with the weird back thing going on. The Grudge, creepy little, screaming like a cat, bad haircut Asian kid. So as I was digging for something to post today I happened to look in one of her folders and I see this picture of this little girl. Alive and well I might say cute kid but in a picture taken some 50-100 years ago I'm going to go with freaky...

07 October 2009

06 October 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

This was taken at Oakview Memorial Park in Antioch, CA. I have seen tombstones with rocks or pebbles left on them presumably by family members to signify a visit to a loved ones grave. The thing I found most interesting was the huge boulder someone has placed on this one. I'm not sure if this is customary or if it was left by a giant. Interesting nevertheless...

Tombstone Tuesday - Alexander Hamilton

In November 2005, I had the opportunity to travel to NYC with my daughter for her college theater auditions. I was excited and nervous to go. I had never been to NYC before! Though I grew up in the big city of Chicago, the stories of NYC had me scared to even go.

While planning our trip the first thing I wanted to do was go to a few of the older cemeteries. Of course, I figured my daughter and her friend would never want to go with me. 

When we arrived, our hotel room in Battery Park was not ready. We took that opportunity to walk all of lower Manhattan. During our walk we happened upon a few of the cemeteries I wanted to see.  Luckily, the girls had no problem walking through and looking at the history that was around them. The first church we walked into was Trinity Church. It was absolutely beautiful! Above is the grave of Alexander Hamilton, signer of the Declaration of Independance.

Inscription reads:

Alexander Hamilton
The Corporation of Trinity Church has erected this
In testimony of their respect
The PATRIOT of incurrupable INTEGRITY
The SOLDIER of approved VALOUR
The STATESMAN of consummate WISDOM
Whos TALENTS and VIRTUES will be admired

Grateful posterily
Long after this MARBLE shall have moldered into
He died July 12 1804, aged 47

04 October 2009

Holy Sepulchre Cemetery Hayward, CA

On one of my many lunchtime excursions I had the opportunity to visit Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Hayward, California. This cemetery was established in 1913 for the burial of Catholics in Hayward and surrounding cities. Upon entering what struck me most about this cemetery was it's extreme organization of tombstones. I was discussing this with Cheryl over at The Graveyard Rabbit of South Alameda County and we both agreed that it appears to have been laid out with a laser. It seemed to me like every tombstone formed a near perfect line. In my opinion it took away from the character of the cemetery itself. I always complain that cemeteries are never well kept. This one is at the extreme opposite of such. I thought it was too well kept. I guess I'll never be happy. It was strange that I didn't immediately notice the large cathedral style mausoleum as I entered. Initially I thought it was a large church. As I got closer I realized that it was not a church but a beautifully decorated gothic style building. At least it appeared gothic to me. Just like it appears I need to brush up on my architecture. It is fittingly called "The Mausoleum of the Apostles" named as such because on the front it has a large statue of each Apostle with Jesus front and center with his arms stretched out welcoming everyone in. I sometimes take my curious co-worker with me as I visit some of the cemeteries and I guess he figured that since Jesus was welcoming us that we should go in. So I immediately followed suit as he walked in like a kid in a candy store. I walked a little slower because I have learned to take my time because I don't like to miss anything. Even though I always seem to. I was still trying to take in the artwork I had just witnessed on the outside of this building. It was absolutely amazing and must have taken forever to complete. Working in construction I always try to figure out how they put things together. Or how they lifted something so heavy. I guess it goes with the business. I dont' think many construction workers do what I do as far as cemeteries go. Most of us just hope that we don't end up there sooner than we have to. One of the things I found most interesting inside was they had these benches that you kneel on to pay respects to your loved ones. I'm not sure what they're called. But everytime I passed one I thought to myself how many people have probably knelt and grieved or prayed on these little benches. I began to sort of freak myself out to the point where when I'd see one I thought I could feel energy coming off of it. Everyone that knows me knows I don't believe in ghosts or anything like that but I have said before that I've felt things. Now even seeing this picture it is giving me a bit of anxiety just remembering the indescribable feeling that came over me that day. I don't know if it was emotion or residual energy left from the many loved ones that have knelt on these tiny benches for hours grieving over husbands, wives, mothers, fathers and children.

02 October 2009

Freaky Friday

Can I just say first that it's good to be back? I've spent the last 3 days of my life in a place called Redding California. The city of Redding isn't too bad and there were a few cemeteries I wanted to visit but it was for work and I had no time. All I wanted to do was get home. Speaking of home I'll be moving over the next couple weeks so my posts may be a little sporadic. Luckily I have a couple more authors that seem to be doing a great job of keeping everyone entertained.

So here is this week's Freaky Friday. I did think this was a beautiful statue despite the baby appearing as if it were flailing around trying to get out of it's mother's arms. I don't seem to have a shot of them but I also remember thinking the baby's eyes looked sort of surprised or like it was in shock. It was nice picture though. This was taken at my second favorite cemetery, well so far, which is Cypress Lawn in Colma, CA. It some of the most impressive statues in California. I'm going to have to go there again once all my affairs are in order because it was early in my interest in cemeteries and the pictures taken were more of the statues than anything else and sometimes I like to know who is buried beneath these wonderfully artistic creations.


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