Tuesday, May 8, 2012

All That Remains ...

One of my cousins posted a link on my Facebook page she thought I might be interested in. It was a link to a news story about a couple of guys who have started a business packing relatives' ashes into bullets and shooting them out, as a way of scattering their ashes. Only a small portion is used and the families can decide what they want to do with the rest. It was, indeed, an intriguing story and interesting way to deal with human remains.

I'm against guns. However, I didn't think it was a particularly bad way to be disposed on. At risk of sounding flippant, which is not my intention, it seemed like one last joy ride.

There is concern these days about overcrowding in cemeteries. Cremation is a solution. However, not everyone wants to be cremated. Furthermore, it goes against the religious beliefs of many. Even with cremation, the ashes have to go somewhere, be it in an urn, a cemetery or scattered.

My mother-in-law's ashes sit in an urn at my father-in-law's house. Apparently, when he passes away, their ashes are to be mingle and scattered. It's kind of romantic, except for the fact, that I remember my mother-in-law telling me years ago that she wanted her ashes to be buried under a rose bush. Perhaps when the time comes, I'll remove a little of hers and put them under my David Austin so she can finally have her wish. I hope that when the day comes to finally scatter their mingled remains it's not a windy one. I've heard that the lovely notion of scattering ashes can come back and hit you in the face - literally - if the wind is blowing in the wrong direction. That is one of the things I like about the notion of scattering by shooting; it eliminates having your relatives' ashes become a mouthful.

My sister and I researched and stewed over what to do with our mother's ashes. For a short period of time they sat in a box on her sofa in exactly the spot where she used to sit. When I went to her house to sort her things and prepare the house for sale I liked having her there. I imagine my father-in-law feels that way. Ultimately we put my mother's ashes in a cemetery near her house, facing the sea and looking out over the school where she used to teach and where half of her grandchildren go. They sit in a wall, rather than taking up ground space.

Since putting my mother's ashes into the cemetery, I've only been to visit a handful of times. Considering the fact that I'm down there often dropping the children at school this speaks volumes. I know there are many people out there that get comfort out of visiting their relatives graves or plaques. I'm not one of them. My mother is gone but I carry her in my heart. In the months following her death, she came to me in dreams. As I cleaned out her house, I had conversations - albeit one-sided! - with her. There is a lovely photo of her on her plaque but it's not her, it's just some plaque in a graveyard.

Despite being Jewish, a people that bury their dead, I love the idea of scattering ashes. It seems like the ultimate "ashes to ashes". Furthermore, I have to admit, I kind of like the idea of having that joy ride out of the barrel of a gun!

Here is the link that my cousin sent me.

Holy Smoke


Friday, May 4, 2012

The Good Old Days

I'm in the process of writing my first novel. It's set in 1979 and my protagonist has travelled back in time from the present. One of the things she struggles with is the lack of digital technology. Whilst the novel is in no way autobiographical, I know I would struggle, too. I love digital technology!

The situation my protagonist finds herself in led to an interesting discussion between Husband and me the other day. Thinking about shows that had been on TV we began to wonder what it would be like to live in a 1970's house. It was purely hypothetical because there is NO WAY I intend to try that experiment!

Looking around our lounge room we concluded that only the television and lamps would remain plugged into the walls. No wonder our house, which was a typical family home when it was built in 1980, feels so small now; it wasn't built for all the extra stuff.

The kitchen would have only had the fridge, toaster and kettle. There may have been a radio where the television sits in our meals area.

Teenage Daughter and The Boyfriend would have had to endure phone conversations on a phone that would have been plugged in to the kitchen wall and I would be writing my novel by hand. I'd actually have to go out to do the banking and probably use the bus to get there because we may have only had one car.

With that all in mind I remarked that there must have been far fewer carbon emissions in those days. Husband was unconvinced citing the fact that industry was less regulated - if at all - and older appliances were less energy efficient. I suspect he's right. I still wonder, however, if regulation and energy efficiency have made that much difference. I honestly don't know - I'd need to see stats on it. There are definitely far more electrical/digital items in use than ever before so that has to increase electricity usage.

We meandered away from technology to food in the course of the discussion and then on to manufactured goods. I thought of all the food in the house and could see very little difference between what I purchase now and what was in the fridge and pantry when I was growing up. I don't believe in buying convenience  foods and there has been a huge increase in them in the last thirty or so years. The big difference for me, however, is that back in 1979 consumers could be more confident that the food they were buying was grown, made and owned by local businesses. The thought of carrying the Ethical Consumer Guide would not have crossed my mind; it's very unlikely it would have been necessary at the supermarket at all.

Cheap imports are not a new phenomenon. Thirty years ago, they existed. People bought them and they quickly fell apart - the goods, not the people, of course. There was a choice. Now it is extremely difficult - sometimes impossible - to find locally manufactured goods. It's even more difficult to find locally owned companies.

Having written all that, however, I'm now going to go and do my internet banking on my computer!