Wear all white

Photos by: Matt Barnes

Acceptable colors to wear at work are black, gray and navy blue. The professional staff will wear the occasional white or light blue business shirt under their dark suit jackets. Some sassy authority bucking interns will try red and other colors.

As the years have progressed my wardrobe slowly became more and more business and dark earth tones. It’s just easier to mix and match leisure or active wear with work shirts for example, if the color scheme is the same.

To be honest I’ve been sporting around my lightweight black hiking quick dry pants at work lately. I really like how versatile they are. I can be in a morning meeting at 9am and on a forest path by dinner without having to change them.

I remember buying and wearing my first formal business suit and how awkward it felt. Like a costume. It took a year or so before I wasn’t highly aware of it.

Fast forward to now, it’s part of the usual, like clockwork and not a second thought. So, one morning in the few moments of deciding what to go with for the day (on a day off of work) my desire for some balance lead me to a completely white monotone outfit.

I even had some white sports shoes in a back drawer. This was risky since I’m not that agile and for a bit I was wondering if I just shouldn’t even eat or drink in this experiment.

But as luck would have it I completed an errand day without incident. My Doc even dished and was telling me about his “retirement” wardrobe that consisted of clothes like my white outfit and khaki. Very beach friendly.

I thought he was on to a great idea. What better way to help tell your brain that it’s your time to relax? We wear specific clothes for events, why not have “day off” or “retirement” be as important as work and sports when it comes to clothes?

Yeah, sweats and a t-shirt kind of count. But I want something that I can go out in public wearing and feel good about it.

So began my habit of wearing all white sometimes.

Do you have a quirky style habit that is influenced by your career or industry? I’d be happy to hear about it.

An undertaker’s top hat: I like how in the UK Funeral Directors will wear top hats. ‘Paging’ (walking at the head of the cortege) at a funeral is also something that would be formal and add to the ceremony. I have yet to experience either as I haven’t seen them done in WA state (where I am) yet.

Or if there was, it was performed by military, police or other fraternities.

An older Funeral Director did bequeath a real top hat to me at work. I keep it on a shelf near my desk just in case. It inspires a smile when I look at it.

In the web: Death Over Dinner

In the web: Emergency Responder Funeral Directors

By: HollyBerry

Burton A. Burton

In the misty morning after a birthday celebratory weekend for Matt we waited out the line for the ferry by visiting a local cemetery. “MtBaker Cemetery”

It was classic foggy cemetery scenery. So many movies came to mind. You could smell the moss and my ankles were wet from walking through the grass.

My favorite headstone was of a man who’s headstone lists his first and last name as exactly the same. Someday I’d love to find out if that is indeed his real legal name: Burton A. Burton – the engraved photo was epic to boot. It felt like he was pointing and staring right at you.

Links to marker and grave finder sites included below. Let me know if you find him, or more info on him!

The other two landmarks I really enjoyed were the history museum and the stone tower.

The history museum was made out of authentic pioneer one room cabins. Six cabins were moved close together and an outer building was built over and around them. They had so many cool antique relics. You could also hear interviews of some of the residents in a voices library. Click on the link to hear their stories.

I supported the museum by purchasing a donation brick that will get engraved for Matt. We were there on his actual official birthday and it will have a “happy birthday!” message to him that he can go back and see in the path to the entrance.

The stone tower was built in 1936 and reminded me of what I imagine the inside of real castles (bucket list*) to be like.

Visit San Juans, “Mt. Constitution atop the 2,409-foot-high Mt. Constitution, the highest point on the San Juan Islands, there stands a stone observation tower built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936. The tower offers panoramic views of surrounding islands, the Cascade Mountains and a variety of Canadian and American cities. Inside the tower, a historical display tells the story of the tower’s construction and the history of Robert Moran, the shipbuilder and former Seattle mayor who donated this land beginning in 1911, and worked toward the development of the park, which was dedicated in 1921. A gift shop and learning center operated by the Friends of Moran offers maps, unique gifts, cards and information about the park and its fascinating past.”

Overall it was healthy to slow down and appreciate the, “island time” as they say in this area. Cheers to another year of good friends and family. Cheers to one more beautiful hike to the top of a mountain where perspectives realign with serenity.

Oh! And cheers to you, Burton A. Burton with your intriguing name and headstone of epicness.

By: HollyBerry

06-02-2019
More online searching brought up some great references and YouTube videos of Mr. Burton.

Online search for Burton: Part of Burton’s story in Wikipedia

Burton’s obituary: Obituary Burton A. Burton

YouTube: Burton on film.

Photos by: HollyBerry

Markers

More info

Headstone inscription for humor

Skokomish Indian Assembly of God

May 2018 – On the road trip back from the Washington Olympus Rally we stopped in the little church cemetery of Skokomish Indian Assembly of God.

It was a pleasantly overcast day and Sunday church goers were singing inside the chapel. Evergreen tree scent was all around and it was just temperate enough for my hoodie.

It was a small, “one stoplight” town or area of and across from the Church and Cemetery was the local casino. It occurred to me that I had never seen a casino across from a church and cemetery before.

The inscriptions on the headstones and upright markers were neat. You could tell there had been tribal funding that helped make some of them possible.

My absolute favorite for the day had the quoted inscription, “Pull my finger!” at the top. This sentence was both one I never fathomed I’d see on an upright marker and one I had never wanted to read in hard print.

It did highlight one of humanity’s beautiful traits that I admire… the ability to find humor and laugh in hard or painful situations.

When making funeral arrangements with families the groups that still take moments to pepper conversation with loving jokes and laughter, even though the tears; are a delight to serve and assist through the deep personal life event they are under going.

Don’t ever be shy to ask for the quoted inscription on your headstone that will bring a smile to your friends and family when they stop by to share a moment.

Post by: HollyBerry

In the web: Deathcafe

🔥 Fire dancing at the funeral home 🔥

Hajera fire dancing at Solie Funeral Home.

One of my favorite duties at the funeral home is managing our participation in the local Everett Artwalk. I volunteer to assist interested newcomers in participating with the other businesses as well as organizing our artist and performers.

To date one of my favorite performers is Miss Hajera. In 2017 she participated in several Artwalks with henna body painting and gave her grand finale on winter solstice with a 🔥 fire dance in the parking lot.

Volunteer drummers began and set the stage as she read a blessing and began to spin balls of live hot flames. The weather was cool and the sun had set. It’s was a spectacular show; the kind that inspires you to try a new hobby you would have never imagined.

Post by: HollyBerry

Photos by: Matt Barnes

Camano Lutheran Cemetery – October 2017

2018 Camano Lutheran Cemetery
2018 Camano Lutheran Cemetery

Waited all summer to get outside in this area up North with Ms. M! We camped at a deluxe cabin on the Puget Sound water front. No joke, haha!

The shuttle van driver thought we were the next guest speaker because this cabin had a dedicated bathroom with shower separate from the sleeping quarters yet, still attached to the cabin. We hiked, skipped rocks on the water annnnnd … Still made sure to visit a local cemetery on our homeward bound trek.

My favorite part? My favorite part was learning that cattails are eatable, at least some parts, getting a cabin right behind the gift shop, seeing the boathouse where they have historic and group activity events, oh!!! And the café – it’s so granola.

2018 Camano Lutheran Cemetery
2018 Camano Lutheran Cemetery

Some of the staff are retired soccer mom’s and some are 20s aged with dreadlocks. All of them were talking about soil related topics. Yes, I was dropping as I waited for Ms. M to arrive for breakfast. The smells I liked most were the wet tree moss, the salty beach front air, musty cabin and cafe fresh-herb aroma.

At the cemetery my impression was more of a floating quandary of questions. Wondering about the cemetery sextants and what their experiences on-site had been. I imagined the burials and ceremonies that had taken place since before I was even a thought in anyone’s mind. It was, as it is with these thoughts, awe inspiring and joy provoking.

2018 Camano Lutheran Cemetery
2018 Camano Lutheran Cemetery

At the cemetery my impression was more of a floating quandary of questions. Wondering about the cemetery sextants and what their experiences on-site had been.

I imagined the burials and ceremonies that had taken place since before I was even a thought in anyone’s mind. It was, as it is with these thoughts, awe inspiring and joy provoking.

Post by: HollyBerry

Teaching Paint Night at the Funeral Home

As a Funeral Director I’ve grown accustomed to odd and entertaining reactions from people when asked simple conversation starters like, “So what do you do for work?”

One of the challenges we face is connecting with the living before they need mortuary help. It’s not a topic most around me easily enter. It’s not a topic that seems, “normal.”

In my world view it is normal. Not only is it normal, it’s part of my weekly work life. Coordinating the details and working as a liaison for the deceased and their Next-Of-Kin is the essence of my function.

When I was younger I definitely didn’t meet the customer’s expectation of what a Funeral Director looks like. Some customers still assume they will be meeting with a thin, tall, gaunt old man and seem a bit confused until introductions are complete. It all adds to the unique experience.

Connecting with the living can be a challenge in my industry. One way I’ve been bringing the gap in this arena is by hosting events at the Funeral Home.

With Paint Night I was able to take my background in visual arts and lead a class during a paint-and-sip social. The whole event took about 2 hours for the guests and everyone had so much fun, at a funeral home even.

Several of the guests were comfortable enough to venture into the topic of death and ask questions without a direct need for a Funeral Director. In this stress free zone a real connection can be made sans the sorrow.

Such a positive first exposure to this experience left me encouraged and happy to facilitate more Paint Night events. Public requests are welcomed.

By: HollyBerry

In the news: human composting

Road trip to Wilhelm Portland Memorial


This might be a great place to start our origin story.




September 23rd, 2017. A road trip to Portland, Oregon from Seattle, Washington. 


Just us girls in Michelle’s little Fiat, precious escape from work and any excuse to get out of town for my birthday. Dry and sunny weather made for easy traveling outside the cities



Michelle describes herself as a, “gypsy punk, exploring quite places.” I have been lucky to be her exploring buddy on many a trip.




Her talent of remembering history and stories of the places and people has long been something I admire about her.



We arrived at Wilhelm Portland Memorial in the early afternoon and proceeded to explore the historic building.






Founded in 1901, Wilhelm Portland Memorial is the “largest and oldest indoor cemetery west of the Mississippi.” There is a population of 90,000 people laid to rest within the 10 floors at Wilhelm.



The mausoleum used to be open to the public, but became private in the ‘00s after a rash of copper thefts. Thieves were stealing name placards, flower sconces and other items off the property.




Not only is this indoor cemetery the biggest mausoleum I have seen, in person to date, it is also where Michelle has a relative interred and thus our visit. The 70s couches, copper flower trash cans and hand painted (1000s of square feet! HUGE!) mural are weaved together with polished marble, beautiful fountains and spiral staircases.




We ended our self guided exploratory tour at her relatives marker. This felt like the perfect place to leave my birthday rose that I had with me from the second date with Matt…. that I had been toting around with me for 2 days, across 2 states and giddily sniffing it’s soft fragrance while road tripping.



FUN FACT: Wilhelm Portland Memorial houses one of two true marble replicas of Michelangelo’s Pieta weighing 9000 pounds. The marble comes from the same quarry as the original!



Post by: HollyBerry and M