A Walk Through A Cemetery

Earlier this week, Kelly invited Phillip and me to spend a day with her on Saturday (today). It was her offer for us to hang out with her – talk about Mom, if we wanted, or just sit quietly, if that’s what we wanted.

Kelly is an amazing friend.

Meanwhile, Brian posted an event he was interested in: a history walk through Everett’s Evergreen Cemetery, also on Saturday (today). Kelly asked Phillip and me if we wanted to join in on the history walk.

Phillip and I asked each other if a walk through a cemetery is the right thing for us, so soon after Mom’s passing. I immediately replied: Yes.

It brought back a memory of one of Mom’s stories. Growing up in Gadsden, Alabama in the 1930s and 1940s, she told us, it was common for families to have picnics in cemeteries. I’m sure Mom always thought of a cemetery as a pleasant place to spend an afternoon with relatives. I’m sure Mom would have enjoyed a history walk through Evergreen Cemetery.

(Mom was cremated, by the way.)

So, Phillip and I agreed to the walk.

Phillip and I drove up to Everett this morning. Kelly mentioned that they was going to be refreshments before the walk, so we left her house early. Kelly’s Mom came with us.

What we were all picturing this event would be like, was this: An esoteric event through a tiny old cemetery, with maybe five or six people joining us, and coffee and doughnuts beforehand.

What actually happened was: Around 40 people arrived for the walk. There were several members of The Everett Historical Society running the regularly-scheduled event. The refreshments were an enormous buffet table of homemade scones and cinnamon rolls, huge bowls of fruit and hard-boiled eggs, vats of yogurt with several toppings available, orange juice and coffee, and on and on. There was a suggested donation of $5.

(Phillip called it a well-oiled machine.)

And Evergreen Cemetery is gigantic. None of us had any idea.

Unfortunately, neither Brian nor Kathi could join us. (They had a sick car to take care of.)

I enjoyed the walk. I would have enjoyed it more if I knew more about present-day Everett, but I did learn some things about the city’s past.

Evergreen Cemetery

The most fascinating thing about the walk, for me, was when the speaker talked about the evolution of burial sites from grave yards attached to a church to separate areas known as cemeteries. He explained that, once they became cemeteries, people would take a train (or later, drive a car) to spend a day picnicking among their relatives. This, he explained, was when cemeteries became more park-like, with trees and landscaping.

I learned today that the Gadsden of Mom’s childhood wasn’t actually a weird place.

Evergreen Cemetery is gigantic, like I said before. After an hour of walking, the walk was still going on. Kelly’s Mom was getting tired, so, over her objections, we cut our visit short.

We dropped Kelly’s Mom off at home. Kelly and Phillip and I went shopping in Fred Meyer, and had lunch at an authentic Mexican restaurant that’s also a tortilla factory.

We went back to Kelly’s place and watched some movie we found on Netflix. Then Phillip and I drove home.

It was a wonderful day.

A Book That Is Also A Stage Play or Musical

Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, a stage play by J.M. Barrie, was first performed in 1904. J.M. Barrie adapted it into a novel, published in 1911.

The first sentence is: “All children, except one, grow up.

Peter Pan

Wendy Moira Angela Darling is somewhere around 13 years old. She has two younger brothers: John and Michael.

Wendy’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Darling, love each other, and they love their children. They are sensible parents who don’t have a lot of money. Their neighbors all have nurses to care for their children, so Mr. and Mrs. Darling hired a nurse they could afford: a Newfoundland dog named Nana.

There was never a happier family until the coming of Peter Pan.

Mrs. Darling first hears of Peter Pan while she is tidying up the children’s minds as they sleep. While traveling through their minds, Mrs. Darling learns of the children’s adventures in a placed named the Neverland. The children, when asked, are matter-of-fact about Peter and their adventures. Mr. Darling dismisses the whole thing as nonsense the dog must have told them. Mrs. Darling trusts her husband’s judgment – still, it doesn’t explain how the leaves got into the third floor bedroom.

Mrs. Darling sees a young boy, dressed in leaves, inside their house. Before she has a chance to talk to him, the boy disappears. Mrs. Darling finds the boy’s shadow, left behind. She rolls it up and puts it in a drawer. She means to tell her husband about it, but he’s busy. Mr. and Mrs. Darling go out for the night, leaving Nana in charge. It would be the last time they would see their children for a long time.

Peter Pan and a foul-mouthed fairy named Tinker Bell (named that because she mends pots and pans – she’s a tinker fairy) enter the house, looking for Peter’s shadow. They find the shadow, but can’t figure out how to re-attach it. Peter starts crying, which wakes Wendy, who sews Peter’s shadow back onto him.

Peter Pan is a conceited, cocky boy who never had a mother and has never wanted one. He ran away from home when he was a baby so he wouldn’t have to grow up. He immediately forgets that it was Wendy who sewed his shadow back on, and believes he did it himself. Despite this, he wins Wendy’s affection.

Peter Pan tells Wendy of the lost boys. These are babies who have fallen out of perambulators, unnoticed, and were taken to the Neverland. There are no lost girls, because girls are too smart to fall out of prams. Wendy agrees to go with Peter to tell the lost boys stories, to mend their clothes, and be their mother, provided that John and Michael come with her.

With the aid of fairy dust, Wendy, John, Michael, and Peter fly for days and come at last to an island known as the Neverland. It is a place where you don’t have to grow up if you don’t want to. It is an island inhabited by fairies, mermaids, pirates, lost boys, wild animals, and “redskins”.

On this evening the chief forces of the island were disposed as follows. The lost boys were out looking for Peter, the pirates were out looking for the lost boys, the redskins were out looking for the pirates, and the beasts were out looking for the redskins. They were going round and round the island, but they did not meet because all were going at the same rate.

Tinker Bell is fiercely jealous of Peter’s attraction to Wendy. She is rude to Wendy. She tries to get Wendy killed. Then, suddenly, she is nice, until she returns to hatred. As the book explains, fairies are so small that they can hold only one emotion at a time.

The lost boys are especially lost whenever Peter Pan is not around. He brought them to the Neverland. He is their leader. Peter forbids the lost boys to speak of their mothers. Yet, without their mothers, the lost boys don’t know how to grow up, even if they wanted to.

Captain Hook is the leader of the pirates. He wants Peter Pan dead, because Peter cut off his hand and fed it to a crocodile. That crocodile is the only creature Captain Hook is afraid of. Captain Hook knows, now that the crocodile has developed a taste for his hand, that it’s going to want to taste the rest of him.

Tiger Lily is the leader of the “redskins”, a tribe of bloodthirsty savages armed with tomahawks. (Think of any unflattering Native American caricature, and you’ll find in this story.) Tiger Lily is in love with Peter Pan (a.k.a. “the Great White Father”), and is jealous of both Tinker Bell and Wendy.

I’ve never been a fan of the whole Neverland mythos, and this book didn’t change my mind. I didn’t hate it – I actually enjoyed the beginning and the end – but it didn’t grab me.

One thing I found refreshing about this book is that it basically follows the format of “children travel from the real world to a magical land”, except that London is just as magical as the Neverland – with (apparently) talking dogs, who can tie knots, employed as nurses and mothers peering into their children’s sleeping minds.

I found semi-magical London more interesting than the Neverland, actually.

If I didn’t know Peter Pan was the novelization of a stage play, I probably would have guessed it was. Actions are typically confined within rooms, or within one area of the island. That’s merely an observation.

Why I chose this book:

It’s a story I’ve known all about, of course, but I had somehow never read the book.

I’d been flip-flopping over whether this would be the childhood classic I’d never read, or the book that it also a stage play or musical. (It could have also fit the allegory category – it’s a story about losing your dreams when you grow up – but that was never a strong consideration.)

Right up to the start of writing this review, I’d decided on the childhood classic. Then, as I was looking up the publication date, I was reminded that this book is actually the novelization of a stage play. The stage play category seemed like a better fit.

The Sims 4: Seasons

I love this new expansion pack! It’s adding so much to a game I’ve been enjoying for nearly three years.

I love the bees, and I love the umbrellas. (Although, why is an umbrella stand an appliance, instead of an item of storage?) I love that sims automatically open umbrellas (once you’ve chosen one from the umbrella stand “appliance”) whenever it starts raining. (I learned the hard way, after breaking two umbrellas, to return the umbrella to the stand before going out in a thunderstorm.) How is it that a sim is always carrying around an invisible umbrella, ready for the next raindrop, with both hands free? The Sims 4 is a weird game, that’s how.

Umbrellas

Dinner in the rain (The sim on the right was created by Deligracy.)

After I installed Seasons, I was asked to choose a starting season. Phillip and I chose Summer together. (I suppose if I played several short games, this might mean something, but I’m playing one, continuous game.) I’ve made it through an entire sim-year now (a total of 28 sim-days), and it’s now Summer again.

Heat wave in the city

Heat wave in the city

There’s a large vacant area in the corner of Newcrest that’s always bugged me. It’s an enormous lot with grass and walkways, next to a playground and picnic area, with nothing in it. You can’t build anything in it, and there’s nothing to do there – there’s not even plants to harvest, hidden things to explore, or rocks to dig. Now, with Seasons, skating rinks and seasonal food stalls show up to put spaces, like this one, to good use. I’m pleased with that.

Skate Rink

A skate rink in Newcrest

I love the holidays and the new calendar. It’s nice being able to see the upcoming work schedule of every sim in the household in one place. I’ve heard that you can now schedule parties for a future time and date (as opposed to the party starting the moment the invitations are sent out), and that makes sense, but I haven’t tried it out yet.

Winterfest

Winterfest

The thing that excites me the most about Seasons is the improved lighting effects. The Sims 4 has always been a beautiful game, with a nice balance between cartoonish and realistic.  As much as I love playing the game, I love looking at it. I love taking screenshots of this game. I love the little details like how sunlight through windows makes shapes on the floor, and how beams of light come through the trees. Now, with Seasons, colors have become muted – less garish. Light changes with the season and with the weather. Moonlight on snow looks, and feels, different from moonlight in the jungle. You can tell it’s a cloudy day without looking up at the sky.

Fall fishing

Fishing on an overcast Fall morning

Yes, I am loving this new expansion pack, and I’m still discovering all its features.

I Don’t Know

To my parents, Phillip has always been more of a son than a son-in-law. He’s taking Mom’s passing pretty hard.

(Here’s a Mom-ism: Back in the early days, my parents would send Christmas cards and birthday cards, usually in Mom’s handwriting, to “Paul and Philip”. One day, Phillip pointed out that he spells his name with two Ls. Mom’s response was: “Well, I always think of you as one L of a guy.”)

When I wrote Sunday’s blog post, I disabled comments. When friends on Facebook sent sympathetic comments, I responded with a non-verbal “Love”. I didn’t think I wanted conversations. Maybe it wasn’t what I needed.

Phillip took Monday off. I thought I needed to be busy and around people. I got up for work, instantly realized it wasn’t what I needed. I called in sick and went back to bed.

About the middle of the afternoon, yesterday, I was feeling at peace and ready to return to work.

I went to work this morning, and so did Phillip. My blog-reading coworkers were surprised to see me back at work. I received hugs and funny cat gifs. At noon today, I realized they were right. It was a mistake, coming into work today. I was distracted all morning. I sent Phillip a text message, saying that I was leaving work. I didn’t get a response.

I walked into our apartment, and found Phillip already home.

I don’t know what I want or what I need.

My Mother

Mom passed away last night. It was time.

Phillip and I visited with Mom and Dad yesterday afternoon. Mom could hear us, but couldn’t respond verbally.

I remember Mom as a believer in Civil Rights, back in a time when it wasn’t the mainstream thing to do. For her, it wasn’t a cause or a campaign. Treating people with respect and dignity was simply how she lived her life.

I remember a bedtime story she used to tell my brother and sister and me. Before she met my dad, she was a Counselor for the YWCA in Downtown New Orleans. She lived in the French Quarter, in a “slave quarter” apartment.  One day, the bedtime story went, the counselors went to a convention in Chicago. They rode the train named The City of New Orleans. Mom told us that she rode the whole way from New Orleans to Chicago in the women’s rest room because she and her friend wanted to ride together and it was the only part of the train that wasn’t segregated.

Mom was a believer in God and in science, and she saw no contradiction in that.

Mom had a quick and sharp sense of humor.

For some reason, the first memory that came to me, when I heard the news this morning, was of Mom and me walking through a Sears in Bellevue, Washington. I was a teenager at the time. We were walking through the Home Appliance department. There were a bunch of salesmen standing around. There was also a guy selling non-stick cookware from a little table. The cookware guy kept trying to call Mom over, but Mom was ignoring him.

Finally, the cookware guy called out, “Ma’am, you see this pot? We burned milk in it. You’d probably throw this pot away, wouldn’t you?”

Mom called back, “No, I wouldn’t. I’d put it in my Sears Kenmore dishwasher. It’d take care of that right away,” and kept walking.

I remember the Sears salesmen trying not to laugh.

Mom and Dad had been married for 61 years.

A Book Tied To My Ancestry

Under Milk Wood: A Play for Voices, by Dylan Thomas, was published, posthumously, in 1954. It was first performed on BBC radio on January 25, 1954.

The first sentence is: “To begin at the beginning: It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters’-and-rabbits’ wood limping invisible down to the sloeback, slow, black, crowback, fishingboat-bobbing sea.

Under Milk Wood

The story takes place during a single day in the Welsh town of Llareggub. It begins before dawn, with the residents asleep and dreaming.

Captain Cat, the retired blind seacaptain, dreams of drowned sailors, who all want to hear the latest goings on above the sea. “And who brings cocoanuts and shawls and parrots to my Gwen now?

Miss Myfanwy Price dreams of her lover. “Throw away your little bedsocks and your Welsh wool knitted jacket, I will warm the sheets like an electric toaster, I will lie by your side like the Sunday roast…” he says to her.

Mister Waldo, “rabbitcatcher, barber, herbalist, catdoctor, quack“, dreams of his dear mother.

The twice-widowed Mrs. Ogmore-Pritchard dreams of her two husbands, who both assure her that they are taking care of their health, just as she always instructed them to. Both husbands, in Mrs. Ogmore-Prichard’s dreams, are happy to be henpecked beyond the grave.

Through their dreams, we are introduced to the residents of Llareggub: Organ Morgan, the organist; Willy Nilly, the postman; Butcher Banyon; Gossamer Banyon, daughter and schoolteacher; Reverend Eli Jenkins; Nogood Boyo, the fisherman, and so on.

Dawn arrives at Llareggub, signaled by Captain Cat ringing the townhall bell.

Up on Coronation Street and down on Donkey Street, Llareggub starts another day. Cherry Owen and Mrs. Cherry Owen have last night’s onions and spuds for breakfast, while bickering lovingly. Sinbad Sailors greets the day with a freshly drawn pint as he opens the Sailor’s Arms. Mr. Pugh fantasizes about poisoning Mrs. Pugh, while treating her well.

Children go to school. Fishermen go to sea.

I absolutely loved this book/screenplay. The story is touching and romantic and hilarious. It’s down-to-earth and magical. It’s beautiful.

I read Phillip the following passage, which made me laugh out loud: Bessie Bighead “…picks a posy of daisies in Sunday Meadow to put on the grave of Gomer Owen who kissed her once by the pig-sty when she wasn’t looking and never kissed her again although she was looking all the time.” Phillip said that passage reminded him of A Prairie Home Companion. I hadn’t seen that before, but I think that’s an apt comparison for this entire book. If you like one, I think you’ll like the other.

(By the way, there is no actual town named Llareggub. It’s bugger all spelled backwards.)

Why I chose this book:

Except for my father tracing his immediate family tree, ancestry was never an important topic in my family. I know that my father can trace his roots back to Germany. I’ve been told that, if you go back far enough, some of my mother’s family can be found in Wales. That was good enough for me.

Wales seems like a more interesting place than Germany, mainly because I don’t know much about Wales.

I did some internet searching for novels set in Wales. I found a few, but none that were in either of my local libraries. (Someday, maybe, I’ll finally remember the most obvious solution and ask a librarian.) Then I worked backwards and looked for Welsh authors, and, of course, found Dylan Thomas.

Life’s Mysteries

This past weekend, Phillip and I saw Incredibles 2 at the Regal Cinemas at Thornton Place. Before the movie began, I obsessed about my Regal Points. (You know, the points you earn whenever you buy tickets with your Regal account.)

Once, a while ago, I redeemed 1,500 points for a free upgrade from a medium soda to a large soda. As the guy behind the counter pointed out, I saved 50 cents. This past weekend, I noticed that I could redeem 800 points for a free small soda, which costs $5.99. It’s an interesting model: trade 1,500 points for 50 cents, or 800 points for six dollars. Surprisingly, my small soda was about the size of a regular soda served elsewhere.

This morning, on my way to work, I saw a guy, old enough to have gray hair, with a tiny gold chain sticking out of his open front, wide collar shirt. He was wearing glasses with aviator frames. I have nothing against anyone who wants to retain that 1970s disco look. I just wondered where he did his shopping.

This morning’s commute was unusually crowded. I kept glancing at my watch to make to confirm I was traveling at my normal time. This evening, traffic was unusually light. The driver of our 47 bus floored it up Pike Street, wisely slowing down for the overhead switches. I kept looking at my watch to make sure I hadn’t accidentally left work early.