January 2, 2009
Today I finally finished going through the cemetery pictures from my trip to Illinois in November and decided which ones to put up on Flickr, including this lovely woodsy cross monument. The weather lately has curtailed my cemetery wanderings, but I’m sure when it gets a little more pleasant again I’ll be back out there, adding interesting headstones to my collection of photos, appreciating the names which now seem unusual, like Badora and Phineas and Philinda and Elnora, and wondering about the details behind the stories hinted at in the inscriptions, like the monument in Illinois listing an infant son who was born and died in California five days before Christmas in 1853. Not everyone gets the attraction, I know. My mom certainly doesn’t. When I was last back visiting her, we were driving to a quilt shop I hadn’t been to before and she was giving me directions: “Turn right up here, but wait until you get past the cemetery, unless you want to read gravestones from the 1800s.” That sounded pretty good to me, actually. If it had been a nicer day, I might have asked if she’d be okay with making a detour.
One reason it took me so long to get this latest group of photos up was I found another outlet for my interest in headstones: Find A Grave. I’d used the site for reference in the past, double checking names prior to putting descriptions in Flickr (this was before I got in the habit of taking detail shots of each marker the same way I do for quilts at shows), but until six weeks ago it didn’t occur to me to sign up and help populate the database myself. Now I’m in there adding records and attaching pictures to existing ones and suggesting corrections based on photos I’ve taken. It’s great to be able to do something with the many cemetery pictures that don’t make the cut for my Flickr stream. I’ve made just a few forays into the community over there so far but have learned some things I didn’t know before (like the terms “graver” and “graving”). As with any distributed project, there are some frustrations I’ve run into, and I had the misfortune of making my first contact with a user whom I later found out is somewhat well known for treating other members rudely, but she does seem to be the exception and overall I’m happy to spend a slice of my online time there.