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Money and Mortality

So I live in a small town, as I’ve said a few times, and it is in fact too small to have a Wells-Fargo (or, up until a few weeks ago, a Wachovia.) As I’ve banked with them for years and Wells-Fargo seems intent on buying out every bank I have an account with, I have resigned myself, and honestly, other than one or two issues with the phone bank on their end during the switch-over, it’s been fine.

More importantly, it’s all the same people at the branch in the bigger small town twenty minutes away, and they all know me by now. When I get a check (which averages out to every other month or so, although sometimes they get crammed together—Nurk royalties arrive on the heels of Ninjabreath royalties, although Nurk royalties are teeny, but I’m still just absurdly proud the book finally earned out. It’s kinda like having the bright kid that you know has potential finally move out of his parents’ basement and get an internship somewhere–it’s not that it’s a lot of money, but damnit, you KNEW he could make something of himself if he just applied himself!)

Ahem. I digress. Anyway, when I get a check, I go to this bank and go inside because I work at home and it is occasionally nice to have to be civilized and talk to other humans without grunting, pointing, or demanding that they pick up their dirty laundry off the floor. And they all know me, since it’s a very small branch and I brought them a book once when the teller wanted to know why I was receiving money with a memo line that said NINJA FROGS. I quite like them.

The only downside to this is that they are located just down the block from a tombstone maker.

Prior to relocating to semi-rural North Carolina, I was unaware of just how excited people can get over tombstones. They have quite a lot of little graveyards here, including the occasional buried-on-the-homestead headstones in people’s yards. (This is always particularly surreal where there is a ratty mobile home with an elaborate family graveyard—those things ain’t cheap, and I start wondering what the story is. And don’t get me started on the one that had Mickey-Mouse ears.)

The headstone maker displays his wares outdoors—as you would, they’re all-weather by definition—and they’re located right opposite the turn for the bank, so you get a good long view on the approach. It’s mostly squat obelisks, but there’s a couple of saints and one reasonably terrifying giant angel.

The end result of all of this is that when I head off to drop off the check, I’m bopping along going “Yay! I have money! We eat tonight!” and then I am confronted with PROOF THAT MAN IS MORTAL AND YOU TOO SHALL DIE.

This mostly just makes me vow to be either immortal or cremated, depending on how it all goes down, but still, I always wind up slinking into the bank in a distinctly pensive frame of mind.

NaNoFiMo: 19840

Originally published at Tea with the Squash God. You can comment here or there.

Think of it as sculpture. It's someone's form of artwork.
You don't have to like it, or agree. But it speaks to some.

After reading this article, I'm fairly tempted to put money asside to have someone sculpt an ice giant or rock troll. Cemetaries don't have enough of those.

I've always loved the weird sentimentality of tombstones and find cemeteries lovely places to walk. My kids spent a lot of their youth picking blackberries in a cemetery (don't think about that too much--we had some great pies, and what better afterlife could you ask?).

What gets me about rural graveyards now

is the DECORATION trend! Its not just a tasteful bouquet or wreath anymore by the tombstone. The last time I visited my mother's grave my sister had added a evergreen tree, two huge stone vases stuffed with gaudy plastic flowers, windchimes,whirligigs and a banner as well as a bench where one could sit and stare at all the sh..stuff cluttering up the grave. And compared to some of the others mom's was modestly decorated.To top it all off, sis had listed all us kids on the back of mom's stone, so the first thing I saw was MY name on a tombstone.
I immediately made a mental note to be cremated and scattered to the four winds when I die.

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My plan is to live forever or die trying.

A Vila fan by any chance?

Obviously you should get an account at a local bank, which will inevitably become a Wells Fargo, and then you'll have solved both the tombstone problem and the commute problem.

Try not to blink when you pass the angel. That's when they get you.

This was my thought.

Also, a fondness for memento mori stuff is probably the biggest holdout from my gothy youth. I love interesting gravestones!

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What, no pious stone newt for folks to pay their respects to?

If you want a third alternative to immortality and cremation, my cousin is planning on donating her body to the Body Farm at UT Knoxville.

Or a fourth alternative ...

There's always a green burial. No embalming, a biodegradable coffin (it's supposed to rot!), and hopefully a nice tree or maybe a rose bush planted overhead.

Is it odd that I spent a good portion of my youth wanting to be a tombstone maker? I got a lot of my early sculpture tools from a guy who switched from hand-carved to sandblasted, and I always wanted to make old-school hand-carved memorials...

Y'know, I've never thought about how odd they must be to others. I grew up where I drove past a tombstone maker regularly as a child and was always far more interested in 'Oh, new neat statue!' than anything else.

It never seemed odd to me and never served as a reminder of mortality.

My preschool was owned by a lady who's husband was a stonemason who did all his work in tombstones, in the building right next to our preschool. I have very vivid memories of a couple of times a year a duckling line of three year olds would go visiting on a fieldtrip!

Please get started on the one that had Mickey-Mouse ears.

YES! That was EXACTLY what I thought!

When I lived in Las Vegas I used to go ghost-towning with friends every now and then, and once we went to Good Springs, NV, which is mostly ghost town but inhabited here and there by people straight out of Deliverance (you can almost hear the banjos.) And in Good Springs is the Biker's Grave, which I had heard about and stopped by to see. It's a fairly modest grave with an unmortared stone border and a joshua tree growing on it, but has been decorated with full beer-cans, bottles of whiskey, bandannas and all sorts of stuff; I remember seeing a cross-stitched ornament with a heart on it hanging on the tree. Supposedly the guy buried there is a biker who died in his 20's-- other than that I don't know a thing about him, but the fact that the alcohol was unopened was fairly impressive.

the fact that the alcohol was still there is even more impressive.

Other creatures apparently have their own way of memorializing themselves including Krakens *g*


I walk through every cemetery I see. No idea why, I just like the peaceful quiet around such places. I take pictures of the unusual headstones, and I'm constantly on the alert for other photo ops.

Mickey Mouse ears? So cool!