Sunday, 8 July 2018

Flaming June! Where Have You Gone To?

It only seems like a week ago to the beginning of last month when I had spent the morning looking at some images of two brides who had both married on the first day of June some years apart and my memories of being surrounded by buckets of glorious sunflowers, fragrant roses and lush foliage as I grappled with scissors, silver wire and the clock!

And although June may have left us for another year, she has been kind enough to leave some glorious weather; although as I was sprinkling the lawn with water earlier today for the Girls to enjoy some grubbing around - I admit to feeling somewhat nostalgic for the occasional rainfall.

Alas, with no rain in sight let's get on with my June Mash-Up!

The Studio:

With the final final dry-build for Nicole's House finally completed - I've been moving sofas and arranging dining room chairs as I plan the logistics of the kitchen design and the creation of a sunken living room.

Having made so many mistakes in the past with rushed constructions, unsatisfactory room plans and abysmal lighting conditions - I've learnt to keep my hands off a dry-build and to simply leave it be until I can imagine myself moving from room to room knowing that every window, fireplace, door and piece of furniture is in the right place.

It was only as I looked at what I thought was the final dry-build did I see the need to lower the roof pitch and that I could also squeeze in another full length window! 

More images of Nicole's House can been seen on the Brentwood Ghost Blog and there are further exclusives to feast over as an 'Honorary Houseguest' on my Patreon page.

If you're unsure what Patreon is about - I have blogged about in the past and as it's now over six months since I launched my page, all I can say is that my patrons are a stupendous bunch of incredible people and their support means everything to me!

And having donned my Crooked Hen apron - I have also been experimenting with wire, tape and Mod-Roc to create some trees!

As they will be eventually find themselves among the weird and wonderful in the All Hallows Hamlet - these won't be any kind of ordinary tree!

And by the time I'd finished plastering these strange little trees, I also looked very far from ordinary - with a face of fetching white freckles and those ghost-like hands.

You can catch the big 'Reveal' later this month with a free flight over to the world of the Crooked Hen!

Ancestor Sleuthing and Grave Hunting:

As you can usually find me in the genealogy office at York Cemetery on a Friday, I've been busy ancestor sleuthing for our visitors and grave hunting all manner of interesting folk for my two guided tours in July and August.

The 'Walk on the Art Side' in July will celebrate the lives and legacies of the writers, artist, sculptors and other creatives from whom York Cemetery is their final home and in August I will be leading an evening walk of 'Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths' around the graves of those who met with an unusual end - and given my penchant for storytelling, there should be a surprise or two along the way!

The Other Stuff:

With the demands of my work and the responsibilities as a full-time care giver; I tend not to stray too far from home these days but with a 'day pass' and on the sweltering hot afternoon of the last day of June I took the train to Leeds for the opening party of the 5th annual exhibition of Sketch That - a collection of work by a group of West Yorkshire artists:
Elizabeth Nast, Helen Dryden, Kat Archibald, Letty McHugh, Louise GarrettPixiebiscuit and Rejectamental.

As I champion Helen on Patreon, it was an nice opportunity to finally meet up and I treated myself to her delightful 'Lettuce on a Chair' who will be coming home with me when the exhibition comes to an end later next month.

If you should find yourself in Leeds before August 13, why not go along to the Ridge Room of the Heart Enterprise and Art Centre in Headingley and meet 'Lettuce' for yourself?

And as I made my way home I couldn't resist popping into the Leeds Samaritans shop and came away with some fabulous steam-punk inspired necklaces perfect for the 'Small Folk' and all for the bargain price of £1.50 as grumpily modelled by Ted!

Family, Feline and Poultry Matters:

As some of you have left me kind messages having been confused by past references to 'my boys' - you can see in this collage of images that they are now both anything but!

For despite the challenges that my life continues to delight and infuriate me with, knowing that they are both seizing life by the collar and are loved by two fabulous girls - well, that's enough for me right now.

And it never ceases to amaze me when I discover the felines enjoying a cat-nap in the most unlikeliest places but perched on top of a Papier Mâché model was a new one for me!

As we're basking in a July heatwave, it's just as well that it seems so wrong to be working on this model for the All Hallows Eve tale now that I have a problem with a squatter of the feline variety!

He certainly looks like he's 'Living in Clover' on his bed of Papier Mâché doesn't he? And if your imaginary inhabitants are in need of a little of that Leprechaun magick,with a pinch of 'Heather' and a pinch of shredded paper money suspended in resin - there is still a vial or two available for sale in the Crooked Hen Gift Shop!

My Bookshelf:

Blessed Are The Weird - Jacob Nordby (Someone who sees the world in the same crazy way as me!)
A Very Private Woman - Nina Burleigh (An interesting biography of a very intriguing artist)
Frances Burney Journals and Letters - Penguin Classics (A fabulous and authentic letter writer and novelist who actually lived through the the glorious 18th century)
The Art of Asking - Amanda Palmer (Crowdfunding pioneer, musician and inspirational!)  
The Georgetown Ladies' Social Club - C. David Heymann (An eavesdrop among the movers and shakers of the Washington elite)
Finding Sarah - Sarah Fergson (A poignant memoir from one of the most colourful members of the British Royal Family!
Domestic Management. With Instructions to Servants in General - Multiple Contributors (I can dream, can't I? Or else I can use this lovely tome for the research of my Lord B house...)

My Playlist:

My favourites for June have been: London Grammar, Tom WalkerEnigma, The Sherlocks, Ben Howard and Taylor Swift.

Must keep that last one quiet from my sons!

May YOUR July be all that you wish!

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Remembering Nicole Brown Simpson...

On Sunday June 12 1994 Nicole Brown Simpson became a public figure overnight for on that balmy Sunday evening she was senselessly and brutally murdered in the grounds of her home at 875 South Bundy Drive in the leafy suburb of Brentwood in California.

Her murder trial and that of her friend Ronald Lyle Goldman who had been murdered alongside her became known as the 'Trial of the Century' with her former husband Orenthal James Simpson as the accused.

It is hard to believe that Nicole was murdered over twenty four years ago for I can remember the BBC news reports and the iconic photographs of the bloody pathway lined with the neat rows of purple and lilac Agapanthus.

I also remember the farcical 'Bronco Chase', the sensational headlines week after week in The National Enquirer, the court testimony of Mark Fuhrman and the shock of the “Not Guilty” verdict on October 3 in the following year.

And yet what I most recall is the realisation of a grotesque dichotomy that despite the voluminous photographs of a beautiful and happy Nicole that she had in fact been abused by Simpson throughout most of their seventeen year relationship.

I just don't see how our stories compare -I was so bad because I wore sweats & left shoes around & didn't keep a perfect house or comb my hair the way you like it - or had dinner ready at the precise moment you walked through the door or that I just plain got on your nerves sometimes...

Published in October 1994 and written by her friend Faye Resnick, Nicole Brown Simpson: A Private Diary of a Life Interrupted was the first book that I ever bought about Nicole and I am still reading about her.

She was the subject of my Thesis in 1999 and remains the purpose for my work ever since.

There are literally hundreds of books that have been written about the life of Nicole and of her life with Simpson and the tales of glamour, celebrity, wealth and beauty have frequently made her appear remote, abstract and insignificant.

Yet it is the very tragedy of her early death that makes her life a compelling human story of hope, love, obsession and betrayal and that is why I choose to remember her.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Good Grief! It's the Graveyard Squirrel...

Have you ever heard the one about how there are only two things that are certain to us? The first one being that we are all subject to some form of taxation and the second is that one day we WILL all die.

As a genealogical researcher I can often spend a lot of my time grappling with the mystery of death for if I’m not in search of a missing ancestor on behalf of a client, I can be poring over the details on a newly discovered (and often indecipherable!) certificate of death or else trawling through parish records in search of a burial entry or firing off email inquiries to the Registrar of a crematorium.

However, if the thought of death is a thought that you struggle with and have no wish to contemplate; my blog as the Graveyard Squirrel is probably not the blog for you!

For on this blog, as well as sharing the tales of and triumphs of family history, I will be sharing the images of my wanderings among the dead and my reasons for doing so are quite simple for I love nothing more than a ramble through a cemetery and I have been pottering among the tombstones for as long as I can remember.

And imagine my surprise and delight when I stumbled upon the blog Beneath Thy Feet  and discovered that far from being the only ‘Tombstone Tourist’, I counted over 45 fellow GeneaBloggers listed on this wonderful site who all share their wanderings among the dead!

Pausing at the Grave of Lord Byron's Spouse, Anne Isabella, Lady Noel Byron in Kensal Green Cemetery, London...

And when I discovered the Graveyard Vlogs of my friend, author and fellow Byronian Amy McLean.. Well let's just say that my plans for an afternoon of  research mysteriously vanished...

The author Lailah Gifty Akita has written that “The graveyard is an everlasting home of every man” and I couldn’t agree more for within most of our cemeteries, you can discover evidence of spectacular craftsmanship, awe inspiring stonework, history, sublime words of poignancy and the occasional flashes of humour!

And being able to locate the final resting place of the individual associated with my research endeavours has always been important to me and when my search is unsuccessful, I usually feel a sense of disappointment as if the final piece of the jigsaw is missing.

The elusive Clarice Tibbett is a case in point for not only is she the ancestor who having ignited my curiosity years ago leading to an irresistible urge to discover more about her and having been desperately seeking her through the mists of time ever since; I still do not know what has happened to her cremated remains.

The Grounds of Woodlands Crematorium in Scarborough. The Remains of Clarice Tibbett Left Here in June 1962 to Where... Who Knows?

For having discovered the burial entries for her parents earlier this year in the City of Hull, I managed to convince myself that her ashes had been interred with them, but alas, after ploughing through more records in the Hull History Centre, my theory was dashed along with what remained of my clear vision and a sense of hope.

However, despite this disappointment over the elusive Clarice, I have recently discovered the whereabouts of numerous Edesons who having filled out the branches of my maternal family tree very nicely; are all to be located within the cemeteries of the coastal town of Scarborough and armed with the burial records and grid references, my journeys with the dead will begin another exciting chapter!

Far From Forgotten! The Edeson Family Grave at York Cemetery...

And so until the next time, I wish you Adieu!