Nothing makes you feel more awesome and professional that looking back at a book you've written (and published) and noticing a big ol' glaring error staring at you off the page. Gargh!!!!
Contrary to popular belief (uh huh), I'm not perfect (noooo!). Okay, maybe it's popular belief. Regardless (do I get points for knowing "irregardless" is not a word?), I feel like a big moron.
As I was prepping for my walking tour of Chippiannock Cemetery yesterday, I noticed a mistake in my book "Images of America: Chippiannock Cemetery." On a page where I'm talking about Rock Island pioneer John W. Spencer and an interesting anecdote about him, I discovered a goofy mistake. How nobody caught this in the proofing stage is beyond me, and now I have to live with the dunce hat.
Back in 1827, John Spencer was paid $5 to walk the 100 miles from Rock Island to Galena, Illinois, in the winter over the frozen Mississippi River, as Galena was the nearest post office. When he returned to Rock Island, he brought with them the news of who was the new President of the United States ... Abraham Lincoln. Yes, Lincoln. Gargh!!!!!
Granted, it would have taken John Spencer a REALLY LONG time to get to Galena and back on foot, but I doubt it took 40 years. What a maroon! The presidential announcement was of Andrew Jackson, a.k.a. "Old Hickory."
So, please, when you get to page 29 in my book, please understand that I was temporarily insane when I wrote that or that my editor was. It's just that I LOVE Abraham Lincoln so much that I want him to be President at all times, past and future. He's just that awesome.
I, on the other hand, am not. Gargh. Please forgive my crazy error and enjoy the rest of the book.
Minda (more like Min-DUH!)
My most recent charm for my Pandora bracelet.
I love lighthouses. There is something about them that whispers to me. I don't know if it's just the sound of the sea or the fading tone of the foghorns or the ghosts of lightkeepers past. But when I see a lighthouse, whether in real life or a painting, I feel it through to my bones.
If someone were to ask me right now at this moment what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d tell them, “A lighthouse.” Strong, safe and a shining light—a beacon.
I don’t remember exactly when lighthouses started to speak to me, but I seem to remember that they almost always have. Just seeing a lighthouse in the distance was like putting a conch shell up to my ear. The waves against the shore, the bells of the buoys, and the wind against the rocks.
My love of lighthouses seems a bit of a contradiction. It’s funny, I’m not a swimmer, but I love the sea. I’m not a boater and rarely go out on small fishing boats. I adore the coast but live in the Midwest (the “coast” of the Mississippi River doesn’t’ count.) I don’t like the heat of summer or swimsuits or crowded beaches, but I love walking on an open beach in the fall or spring or even winter. And when it comes to lighthouses, I don’t like heights and just walking up those spiral staircases is panic-inducing. But they’re beautiful. And stately. And strong—so strong they can withstand the most terrible of storms.
In recent years, the lighthouse has become a sort of totem for me. But I’m not sure if it’s more comforting because of the sense of safety and refuge or because of the light it shines. I’m still figuring out why I’m so drawn to them.
In Joseph Panek's blog, "A Seeker's Thoughts," he writes that lighthouses notify "sailors that land is near and warns them that they are approaching rocks, reefs and shallow waters which must be navigated with caution."
He also says: "The Lighthouse stands alone and tall in both light and darkness and it, along with its beacon, is a focal point which symbolizes strength, guidance and safe harbor; it is a Spiritual 'Welcome Mat' for all those who are traveling by sea."
Isn't that something we all want?
Do you have photos of lighthouses carved onto gravestones? If so, please share them below in the comments or in my Facebook group.
The lovely Helen Reddy singing "Candle on the Water" from Disney's "Pete's Dragon,"
one of my childhood favorites.
It's my kind of anniversary. I've officially been a taphophile for 10 years.
Back when I started my website (in 2004), it was to have an online home base. I wanted a place where I could post my thoughts and have people connect with me. And it worked. I was in the middle of writing my book "Cemetery Walk," and it wouldn't have been possible if I hadn't been connected to the online taphophile community. It was much smaller then. People were still giving us super strange looks when we told people we loved going to cemeteries. A lot has changed.
I give a lot of credit to the genealogists. They helped take the creepy out of cemeteries. To an extent, the ghost hunting community has also made cemetery "haunting" cool by actually putting the creepy back in to the cemeteries.
Those who have followed me through the years know that I love cemeteries and sharing that love with others. This past February marked my fourth year of teaching a CommUniversity class on cemetery art and history. I've been speaking at or about cemeteries since 2005. I've traveled around the Midwest and even as far as the state of Georgia to share my passion about out finest outdoor museums. It's been a great journey, and I hope I'm still just at the beginning.
It's been 10 years since I started on this path. Ten years since I decided, "I want to write a book, and I want to write it about cemeteries." I wanted people to see cemeteries as important places filled with history and art rather than sadness or morbidness. I still do.
Within the past 10 years, I've written and published (self and otherwise) a number of books, become a speaker and workshop leader, and founded and edited a website that has grown through the years. My Facebook group keeps building and building. And while people don't necessarily know it's my group on FB, I'm still proud of how it keeps growing because that means more and more people are stepping into our cemeteries, cameras in hand. They are appreciating the beauty of the monuments and the fascinating history they offer us.
So thank you to all my taphophile friends. It has been a great pleasure getting to know so many awesome people from all over the world. Keep taking pictures and posting them. You're helping make the world a smaller place and letting us all take a peek into parts of the world we may never have seen otherwise.
The Zotz mausoleum, dated 1893.
(6/6/13 - I had some technical difficulties with this post, but now the rest of it is loaded as well as the gallery.)
Okay, okay. I know I posted on my website 3 DAYS AGO that you could see more photos from Springdale when you click on my blog link. And, yet, when you clicked on it, you got nada. Usually I don't say this (because it's just goofy), but, my bad. Ack. I can't believe I just typed that.
But, as promised, there are photos. And I'm going to share them with you!
Springdale Cemetery in Peoria, Illinois, was founded in 1855. The grounds consist of 225 acres and more than six miles of roadways "winding through its hills and valleys." Nearly 70,000 people are interred there, "with room for many more." But "hills and valleys" doesn't really cut it when describing this cemetery. Driving through the grounds, you suddenly feel like you've driven right into a forest or a state park. There is a stream that runs through part of the grounds (it starts small and get quite wide). There are two bridges over the stream that are more functional than ornamental but still have some ornamentation on them. There is a fantastic soldiers lot.
Contemporary monuments blend well with traditional and unique older stones. I had a fantastic time wandering the grounds, enjoying the natural beauty as well as the gravestones. I wasn't the only one. There were plenty of people walking and jogging along the pathways.
There are 15 mausolea at Springdale. The one shown above is the Zotz mausoleum, dated 1893. It was built into one of the hillsides and features carvings of oak leaves and wreaths.
I have included some of the highlights of Springdale Cemetery in the slideshow below. Enjoy!
I'm the founder and editor of TheCemeteryClub.com and Epitaphs Magazine. I love cemeteries and sharing the art and history of them with anyone who will listen!