DEATH’S GARDEN REVISITED KICKSTARTER INTERVIEW WITH EDITOR LOREN RHOADS



Today I am interviewing Loren Rhoads, editor of the first Death’s Garden and author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel. She has put together a second edition titled Death’s Garden Revisited, a collection of new essays by over 40 authors who share their personal relationships and experiences with cemeteries. The book went live on Kickstarter March 17. FULL DISCLOSURE: I am excited to have an essay included in this book!

Welcome, Loren! For those who are not familiar with Kickstarter, please explain what it is and how it works for Death’s Garden Revisited.

Kickstarter is a website where creators, including small presses, can raise funding for a project before it’s created. In this case, Automatism Press had the money to publish Death’s Garden Revisited as an oversized paperback with black and white photographs, but I wanted to produce a full-color hardcover book. I hoped to raise enough money for that by taking preorders for the book through the Kickstarter campaign.

As it turned out, Death’s Garden Revisited sold enough copies on its first day to make the transition to full-color.

Have you ever used it before for a book or a project? And why did you choose it this time?

I’ve helped to fund a lot of projects on Kickstarter before: story anthologies, history books, comic books, new magazines (several of which I later went on to write for), even a couple of cemetery history books.

I’ve never tried to raise money for a project of my own that way before, but it turns out I know a whole lot of people who have. They gave me great advice.

I chose Kickstarter this time because I hoped to build some excitement for Death’s Garden Revisited before it comes out in October. With the help of everyone who has preordered, Automatism Press can afford to make the book I really want to make.

How long have you seen writing about cemeteries and how did you get started?

Oh, my goodness, a long time! I edited the first Death’s Garden book – Death’s Garden: Relationships with Cemeteries – in the early Nineties That book started when a friend who was dying gave me a box of photographs he’d taken in cemeteries as he traveled. Before that, it hadn’t ever occurred to me that people would want to visit cemeteries on vacation. Blair inspired me to seek out cemeteries myself, which led me to writing a monthly column for several years about traveling to visit cemeteries. I gathered those columns in my first cemetery book, Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel.

Death’s Garden Revisited will be my fourth cemetery book. The fifth one – Still Wish You Were Here – is going out as a bonus to people who preorder Death’s Garden Revisited.

Tell me about some of the backgrounds of some of the contributors. Do they write mainly about cemeteries or do they write in other genres?

There is such a wonderful variety of them! Carol Tyrrell, Joanne Austin, and Rachelle Meilleur all write cemetery blogs. Sharon Pajka just published a wonderful book called Women Writers Buried in Virginia. M. Parfitt worked as cemetery tour guide. Paul Stansfield is a contract archaeologist who has helped to move several cemeteries.

Other contributors are historians and travel writers. Erika Mailman has written a novel about Lizzie Borden. Anne Born has written about walking the Camino de Santiago. Trilby Plants has written thrillers and children’s books. Rain Graves taught tango in Argentina. A bunch of the contributors are horror writers.

When is the book coming out? In what form? And where will be available?

Death’s Garden Revisited will be out in October 2022. It will be available in hardcover, an 8 x 10-inch paperback and e-book. I know it will be available on Amazon, but I’m still working out the distribution everywhere else. The complication is that I’m not working with my regular printer this time, because of the color photos.

People can bypass all that by preordering their own copy on Kickstarter now. Then the book will magically appear in the mail in October!

Thank you, Loren! Here is the link – check it out. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lorenrhoads/deaths-garden-revisited-relationships-with-cemeteries The campaign ends April 16.

Here is a link to Loren’s Cemetery Travels site. https://cemeterytravel.com/about/
and her author’s page.https://lorenrhoads.com/

HAPPINESS, COURAGE, STRENGTH, & A SENSE OF HUMOR


Courage, strength and a sense of humor will help get me through almost anything in my opinion. Years ago I read Lindbergh’s book of poetry and essays, Gift from the Sea, but did not know much about her beyond the kidnapping of her baby and the fame of her husband, Charles Lindbergh. A little recent research revealed she was an accomplished woman on her own and had to deal with her share of tragedy, loss and betrayal. I may have to read a biography written by Susan Hertog, Anne Morrow Lindbergh: Her Life.

THE OIL PATCH WARRIOR


“The Oil Patch Warrior”

While researching for a writing project involving WWII draft classification codes, I discovered this bit of obscure history.

In March of 1943 a group of men departed New York on HMS Queen Elizabeth bound for London on a secret mission to do their part for WWII. They were 42 roughnecks from Oklahoma and Texas who volunteered for a one year contract to drill oil wells in Sherwood Forest for the British government.

Oil was essential for Brittan and its Allies. Production for oil was up in the United States, but Britain was falling behind and oil tankers from the United States and other countries were often sunk or blocked by German U-boats. The British government sent a representative of the oil industry to the United States seeking drilling rigs, pipes, drill bits and other related equipment that the British badly needed to replace some of their own.

In the negotiations two American companies, Nobles Drilling Corporation, headquartered in Ardmore, Oklahoma, and Fain-Porter Drilling Company, headquartered in Oklahoma City, partnered with D’Arcy Exploration Company, a British oil company. The US companies would provide the crews and drilling equipment to drill 100 wells in the heart of Britain’s only oil field deep in Sherwood Forest. The wells there were shallow, equipment was inadequate and many of the men doing the drilling were inexperienced as the war had taken many away.

The project was a secret mission with the men allowed to tell only their immediate families where they were going. London was already being bombed by the Germans and the oil field needed to continue to be kept secreted beneath the cover of the ancient forest safe from German planes. Rigs and equipment would be painted a green to blend in and camouflage them. The 42 roughnecks were housed at monastery run by monks.

By the end of the contract the 106 wells had been completed and oil production was up substantially. The men returned home in March of 1944 with the satisfaction of knowing they had made a contribution to the war efforts.

One man was left behind, Herman Douthit from Texas, a derrick hand who had died when he fell from a derrick. He was buried at the American Military Cemetery in Cambridge, one of the few civilians buried there.

The sculpture in the photo above is “The Oil Patch Warrior” and stands in Ardmore, Oklahoma as a tribute to the 42 men and erected in 2001. It is a replica of the original erected in 1991 near Nottingham England as a memorial to honor the 42 roughnecks and the oil industry. American sculptor Jay O’Melia designed the original.

A book, The Secrets of Sherwood Forest: Oil Production in England During World War II, by Guy H. Woodward and Grace Steele Woodward, is an excellent history of the events.

Below is less than 2 minute video with old photos.

LGBTQIA +ARTIST EXHIBITION


Several events for PRIDE Month 2021 were scheduled in the Corpus Christi area including poetry reading and a PRIDE Pet Paw-rade where owners and their pets could show  their support and show off their PRIDE colors and accessories.  A PRIDE parade and block party will be held in October during LGBT History Month when the weather is cooler and more have the opportunity to get vaccinated.

PRIDE Corpus Christi put out a call for artists who “personally identify, or feel they have been defined by society, as a part of the LGBTQIA+ demographic.”   The  goal of the exhibit was “to celebrate the achievements of and gain recognition for LGBTQIA+ artists in the Coastal Bend.”  Artists selected had their art on display at the La Palmera Mall in Corpus Christi from June 1  to June 30 for PRIDE Month.

The free exhibit was tucked away in a small space on the upper level of the mall.  I visited the simple installation last week and was moved by the personal expression of their feelings through art.   Husband photographed several for me.  Scroll for more of art by these mostly young people who have come out personally and artistically.

KIRA GONZALEZ   ‘LOVE IS LOVE’ (2021)   ACRYLIC ON CANVAS

 

GUILLERMO “GUY” GALLEGOS ‘CIERVO O VENADO (2019) ACRYLIC ON CANVAS

 

JOSHUA DUTTWIELER   ‘WE ARE ALL HOUGHTON #1 ‘   2021)  PHOTOGRAPHY

 

JOSE “JOEY’ GONZALES   ‘SELF PORTRAIT’ (2019)   OIL ON CANVAS

 

BRYSON OLIVAREZ   ‘THE PLAYFUL CARCASS’ (2021)   MIXED MEDIA

 

BRYSON OLIVAREZ  ‘PLAYING WITH COLOR’  (2020) MIXED MEDIA

 

SCOTT-ALEXANDER RIVERA  ‘THE HEART OF LOVE IS LOVE’ (2020)   ACRYLIC POUR ON STRETCHED CANVAS

 

SCOTT-ALEXANDER RIVERA  ‘PRIDE EXPLOSION’ (2020) ACRYLIC POUR ON STRETCHED CANVAS

 

SAMANTHA TREVINO  ‘LIM JAEBEOM’  (2021) ACRYLIC ON CANVAS

 

PHOTOS BY HUSBAND.  HE IS REFLECTED IN THE SIGN THAT WAS BEHIND DOUBLE GLASS DOORS AT THE ENTRANCE.

TEXAS INDEPENDENCE DAY 2021


Texas Independence Day is the celebration of the adoption of the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836. With this document signed by delegates, settlers in Mexican Texas officially declared independence from Mexico and created the Republic of Texas.  It remained a Republic until1845.

On March 2, 2021 Governor Greg Abbot declared another type of independence for Texans by lifting the state-wide mandatory mask requirement and opening all businesses to 100% capacity.  It will be up to businesses whether to require masks for customers and employees; the governor urged “personal vigilance” as he pointed to the arrival of vaccines and good Texas economy as reasons for his decision.  He tightened control over Covid restrictions by mandating that county judges could only implement restrictions if hospitalizations rose above 15% of the capacity for any of Texas’ 22 hospital regions.

Texans should have been dancing in the streets, right?   Yes, bars and restaurants welcomed the news that they could open to full capacity.  Yes, and those who did not believe in masks in the first place and  considered the restrictions an assault on their freedom by the government were rejoicing.  Enter the divide.

Abbot was soon criticized by those in the medical field, government leaders and even the CDC for opening the state too soon.   Citizens took side on the issue. Some businesses began announcing that they would still require masks for employees and customers; others will not require them. This goes into effect Wednesday.

Personally, I am ready to get back to something like normal, but I think he should have waited until more Texans were vaccinated,  COVID numbers were better and we were closer to herd immunity.   Husband and I have had our second shots so we feel we have some protection, but we will not have a problem continuing to wearing  a mask when required.   Will it be the right decision or will cases, hospitalizations and deaths spike?  Will vaccinations make a difference?

April 21 is San Jacinto Day in Texas, the day the Texan Army led by General Sam Houston defeated the Mexico Army near present-day Houston in 1836.  We will see where we are  by then and  if Governor Abbot can claim a victory for all Texans or if he will he face defeat like General Santa Anna, the general who led the Mexican army.

CHECKING IN FOR 2021


We were all ready to see  the past year of 2020 come to an end.  An even year that was odd in many ways.  A pandemic raged around the world and the President of the United States was impeached.  2021: The pandemic is still with us and the President of the United States is impeached…again.  Wait!  Deja vu will not overtake us!  There is hope:  democracy survived and vaccines are arriving. 

Meanwhile, back on the coast.  Odds and ends of life.

This year I will not be volunteering again for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) through United Way of the Coastal Bend.  I started out last year in January but COVID finally shut it down.  This year it started up again in February with different arrangements, again because of COVID.  Clients will be able to leave their documents of copies of documents in a sealed envelope.  Then they will be called back in about a week to review the return, make any changes or corrections and sign the return for filing.  I will really miss volunteering this year, but I thought it best to avoid additional exposure.  Maybe next year.

Good news on the exposure  side.  Husband and I had been on a waiting list for a COVID vaccine through our doctor’s office as the practice is affiliated with a large hospital.  Monday we were called in for our first dose of Pfizer and scheduled for our second one in three weeks; we are in Tier 2.    It was an easy process.  No side effects so far.

Yes, 2020 was a rough year as the pandemic affected us all in some way.  For many the financial impact made it even worse compounded by the uncertainty of when it would end.  Deaths continued as Americans debated the merits of in-person voting versus mail- in ballots to elect a president.  Schools opened and closed.

And life went on with love, laughter and loss. Babies were born and couples married. New careers were launched. I have learned not to take anything for granted.  Each day is a gift.  The seasons came and went as usual while we modified holidays and activities to include masks and social distancing.   Yes, we are  still a divided country in many ways, but surely there is more that unites us.  We will get through this.

New Orleans cancelled Mardi Gras parades this year because of the pandemic.  But you cannot stop the spirit of NOLA.  Residents were encouraged to transform their homes into floats.  There is a book, Porches on Parade, How House Floats Saved Mardi Gras.

Laissez les bon temps rouler – Let the good times roll!

Below is a link for the book.  A portion of the proceed will be donated to local artist funds.  If you scroll down, you can see some of the houses.

https://book.pediment.com/mardi-gras-2021-porches-on-parade-hardcover-book/?variant=328993671414

“Let It Snow” or “Stayin’ Home”


With colder weather hitting parts of the country, including snow in some places, I thought it would be a good time to share this parody of “Let It Snow” that Husband wrote.  His clever ditties and songs always make me smile.  And these days I am grateful for anything that makes me smile.  At the end there is a rendition of the song by Dean Martin, one of my favorites.  The thermometer on our patio this morning read 50 degrees – cold for us.  Enjoy whatever your weather and stay well!

This was taken at Briar Cottage on Christmas Day 2004 when we had a rare snow.

Stayin’ Home

Oh, the Covid outside is frightful,
But inside Briar Cottage it’s delightful,
And since we can’t go out to roam,
We’re stayin’ home, stayin’ home, stayin’ home!

In spite of what Trump might say,
Covid won’t just go away.
And even though you might use bleach to clean,
It won’t protect you like a vaccine!

So I’ll wear a mask while shoppin’,
To protect you if I’m breathing deep or coughin’,
And even though it breaks my heart,
When were together we’ll be six feet apart!