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Monthly Archives: November 2015

IMG_7391One of my favorite haunts in this part of the valley. As a fan of MissMuffCake‘s blog and zines: The Stay At Home Girlfriend, Easy Vegan Recipes and Cemetery Gates, I was inspired to visit before the snow came down and I left town for work.

IMG_7406It’s a short distance either down a winding road from my parents house or along what was the abandoned railway tracks. In the late 90’s the city revamped the old railway line into an exceedingly popular walking/biking/horse-riding trail. Through the 80’s I could walk along the path never crossing another human soul. A friend lived just beyond the cemetery and we’d run among the trees and tombstones. As a teenager it became my place of solace. My husky-X would lay on the grass beside me and I’d scribble in a journal.

IMG_7392Most of the tombstones are modest and many are in states of disrepair. There are no grand sepulchers or angels, very little marble. It’s bordered by what were apple orchards now overtaken by wine grapes. Deer and coyotes roam, black bears pass through on trails to the lake and covey’s of quail shuttle about.

IMG_7405The fir trees grow strong on flesh, blood and bones.

IMG_7412IMG_7380The tiniest tombstone. Picture book size. ‘Toots Reno’ is easily the best name in the graveyard.

IMG_7361Simple and to the point.

IMG_7377The crematorium is perched on the edge of the clay banks. The drop is maybe 150 feet to the lake? I have no idea, maybe 200 feet. Between the building and the grass is the narrow sage brush gully where the railway line was. I’ve always thought it was insane they built tracks right along the edge of the clay banks which are not considered very stable. Even though we’re at a high altitude with a low risks of earthquakes, if we did have a significant tremor the banks would turn to silt in a instant. At the turn of the century it must have been the easiest route for transporting fruit to and from the packing houses. Shipping apples, peaches, pears up the lake by paddle wheeler boats to the CPR.

IMG_7371Before the city opened the trail to the public there wasn’t a fence around the crematorium. There was a six foot deep pit right outside the building. It was covered by a sheet of plywood where I guess they’d dump excess ashes from the incinerator. One time a friend and I lifted it and peered in at the pile of ash. She dared me to jump in. My head spun thinking of being stuck down there and we dropped the plywood sheet. The suction as it sealed to the ground created a poof of ash that blew all over us. We ran off joyously shrieking. For weeks after I had nightmares; every night falling into the pit over and over and being swarmed by skeletons.

IMG_7396A gang of us would run around the graveyard playing Star Wars. I was always Chewbacca, even when I was the only girl I had no desire to be princess Leia. I have a vivid memory of hiding behind this tombstone and feeling how smooth and cold the granite was on my back. A calm sweeping through me.

IMG_7382IMG_7366Long ago this had a glass door, a photo of Helen and other trinkets but at some point it was smashed and emptied. In my teen years, the rumor was if you shone head lights on the opening you would see a hologram skull. I have no idea where this folklore started but I did take part in joyrides through the graveyard to see the ghost. I never expressed how I felt it was disrespectful to my place of respite. I had a relationship with this northern corner of the cemetery but in my introverted way I never let anyone know how much it meant to me.

IMG_7384Every town I pass through I look for signs of the dead. Other than in Scandinavia I’ve never visited a grand graveyard. The old cemetery’s around here are of a pioneer era, humble and plain but calming and restorative to me all the same.

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IMG_7478On route to the farm after opening the bookshop. Two espresso’s. One while texting back and forth with Lisa; another while talking back and forth with Lisa, a volley of loving words before the last stretch to the Walk of Terror. Cameron and Scott met me in the parking lot. I followed Scott around the forest placing tea candles in bags of sand to light the path through the woods.

IMG_7481Scott had hoped I’d help Maryke manipulate the hands of this giant Slavic Leshy puppet. Unbeknownst to him I was already slotted into the manic comfort of box office with Lisa.

IMG_7490Once the sun set, the rain cleared and the wind died down. Most of the audience arrived in costume. They were delighted to be marked by my Clydesdale stamp pulling off gloves, rolling up sleeves though a few asked why the horse wasn’t more ghoulish.

IMG_7485Front gate of the box office. Charon skull from two summer shows ago.

IMG_7539Cameron on the old, dancing horse piano in the Back 40 house. Any opportunity to listen to Cameron play brings me to tears with longing and nostalgia of our youth. Risa upstairs twirling before the window as a lost soul.

IMG_7498Was this Truman? He’d just hitched in from the island.

IMG_7502Warming up around one of the many fire cauldrons around the farm.

IMG_7510The band was fantastic and hard to take a picture of with people dancing and kids running all around. Described as New Orleans noir. Her voice was otherworldly and normally a plugged in banjo would bother me but I liked it. Stand up bass and trumpet always win.

IMG_7523Harry dressed as a cheetah (he’d forgot his Ninja costume on the school bus) passed out on Buddy’s bed in Lisa and Coco’s new office hut. Post show Maryke, Lisa and I deliriously redesigned a Robin Hood disco pantomime poster. I did nothing other than ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ ideas while they did all the real work. Slept vividly in the Twin Peaks cabin and left before anyone else had woken up; south bound for the bookshop. In less than two weeks I’ll be back for the winter show.