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Happy Friday everyone!  Here in Los Angeles it is sunny and beautiful.  Perfect “go do nice things for others” weather.

Here are today’s Wendy Bombs of Kindness:

image (2)*15 – Treats for the Gardners.  The gardners, like the mailman, are sometimes tortured by Riggins’ mean barks.  He tends to settle down after they have been here awhile but those first few minutes have to be terrifying for the poor men.  They usually take their lunch break at my house sitting in the front yard picnic style so the M&Ms and sports drink I left for them will be the perfect after lunch pick me up.  Honestly those M&M’s could not have gotten out of my house quick enough.  I almost broke down last night and ripped into one of the bags!  I had almost convinced myself that the gardners could make do with just a drink.

* 16 – Pretty and calm.  I live a stone throw away from the cemetery, Forest Lawn Glendale.  Founded in 1906 this cemetery is beautiful.  I’ve always really like the calmness and beauty found within cemeteries (After breaking up with him, an ex boyfriend sent me a picture book of gorgeous gravestones and statues.  The book can still be found on my bookshelf.  I love it.  Although looking back I probably should have been alarmed as my ex was a bit crazy and the book was probably an indication that I should have gotten a restraining order.).  Forest Lawn Glendale has, what I consider, the prefect wedding location.  Up near the top of the hill is the sweetest little church, “The Wee Kirk o’ the Heather”.  It sits next to a large parking lot where a tent could be easily set up for the post ceremony party.  In doing some research I found out that I’m not the only person who had this idea.  Apparently this is where Ronald Reagan married his first wife – http://sflib1.sfpl.org:82/record=b1040187.  I don’t think they had the tent party but they did use the sweet little church.

While driving by the cemetery the other day I thought it would be nice to go up, clean off dirty headstones, and leave some flowers for people.  Although I liked this idea I really don’t know anyone who calls Forest Lawn Glendale their final resting place, except Michael Jackson (There is actually a ton of famous people buried here.  For a full list – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_Lawn_Memorial_Park,_Glendale).  It seemed like I should take the 15 minute trip over to Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills where I could do the same thing and visit the resting place of my Great Aunt Dode and Uncle Harold.  This
photo (2)Forest Lawn location also has a number of famous residents.  Apparently many are difficult to find but I managed to come upon one just by wandering around http://www.seeing-stars.com/buried2/ForestLawnHollywood1.shtml).

Of all of us Newells/Naylors I live the closest to Aunt Dode and Uncle Harold.  In fact, I drive past the cemetery every single time Riggins and I go to Runyon, which is at least 4 times a week.  I’ve even biked past the entrance a few times.  Yet the last time I stopped by was when my dad, mom and nephew were visiting me and we decided to take a drive up to see if we could find their headstones.

I don’t have many relatives that are buried in local cemeteries.  The only others I can think of are my Grandma and Grandpa Clemmons who reside in a cemetery closer to my folks.  A cemetery which I often drove by at least twice a month going from LA to my parents house.  Even with the closeness I only remember visiting this location once to pay respect and it was long before my Grandmother passed away.  I couldn’t even find my Grandpa’s headstone so just laid flowers on someone else’s with a “pass it on” salute.

Why not visit more?  I just don’t think about it.  As an Atheist I don’t believe in heaven or hell and certainly don’t believe that my loved one knows when I come to visit the location their body is buried.  That doesn’t mean I don’t respect the process.  I do.  I realize it gives great comfort to many people to be able to have a place to visit.  For me my family members live in my memories.  Grandma Newell can be found all over my house as I sleep in the bed she died in (is that weird … it is a SERIOUSLY beautiful bed).  I think of Grandma Clemmons when I wear the teeny tiny heart-shaped locket that my grandfather gave her.

My great-aunt and great-uncle had no children but did have lots of family love through my dad and uncle’s families.  The most vivid memory of my uncle I have is visiting my grandma, great-aunt, mom, dad and uncle in the room where he was laid out post death for viewing.  Horrible vivid memory right?  I have much better memories of him including watching him feed his resident bird in his backyard.  Of course anyone who has had dinner with my father has heard him happily exclaim, “You know what Uncle Harold says,” (Pause for dramatic effect.  For kids who have heard this before to start giggling, and adults to shake their heads) “Better to throw it up than to throw it out.”

I think I relate most to my great-aunt.  She was the best!  One holiday we were all over at my great-aunt and uncles house for dinner.  I joined my aunt in the kitchen where she handed over a defrosted carrot cake that had come in a rectangle box.  She asked me to take it out and put it on a fancy tray so it looked like she made it.  I don’t think she fooled anyone but I thought this was FREAKIN’ BRILLIANT!  I’m sure much to her sister-in-law’s (my grandmothers) horror this became my go to cooking and entertaining plan.

Now back to the good deed … After heading through the eloborate gate of Forest Lawn Hollywood I stopped at information to get a map to where I was going.  Even with the map it was difficult to find their location.  Luckily, for me, a groundskeeper helped me out.  Once at their headstones I took out my scissors, fake Fantastic, and rags to get to work in beautifying. Honestly, the headstones were already pretty neat.  If you choose this location for your final resting place you can be confident that it has great upkeep.  After cleaning up the few unruly grass and weeds and wiping off some mud and bird poop I added a flower to each.

I had a total of 10 flowers so wandered around finding 8 more headstones that needed attention.  I took a picture of Mildred’s for you (see picture above).  I have no idea who Mildred is but her marker was a mess.  She managed to sit right in the middle of a water drainage area so mud caked her headstone.  I got pretty muddy myself helping Mildred out.  I think I was drawn to the saying that was chosen for her, “I did it my way.”

imageAfter finishing my good deed I took some time to wonder around the grounds.  Cemeteries are the few places in LA where you can find really beautiful sculptures and monuments.  Some are copies of famous originals while others are originals themselves.  I still like the art found at Forest Lawn Glendale best but the Hollywood location offers a calming place to wonder among the lizards, bunnies and butterflies who call it home.  At the very tip-top of the grounds there is the Plaza of Mesoamerican Heritage.  It was fascinating.  I took a few pictures of the artifacts (most photo (3)are copies I’m sure).  My favorite is the guy holding his hand in a cup shape.  Per the info plaque:

“Ometochtli.  Post Classic Period.  AD 950-1521.  Original in stone.  The rabbit breastplate and the crescent moon nose ornament worn by this statue identify it as Ometochili, the supreme God of Pulque.  Pulque is an alcoholic drink made from the fermented sap of the agave plant.  In religious ceremonies, priests drank it as a ritual intoxicant  and it was served to sacrificial victims to ease suffering before death.  It was also consumed as a medicinal drink and to celebrate battle heroes.”

When I die I don’t want to be buried in a cemetery, as beautiful as they are.  As an Atheist I believe death is the end so I’d prefer if my body could be used for good.  Take the parts that can still work and help others.  Heck you can use my whole body for medical training if you want.  Just don’t make me one of those Bodies exhibits where they use plastination to preserve the bodies.  Seriously one of the most disturbing exhibits I’ve ever seen.  http://tinyurl.com/aew4wuy

Act of Kindess Roll-Call:

To be continued …