Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Meet Kale Liam Hobbes, author of "Rock of Ages: Grave Concerns"

The eighty third in a series
featuring a member of the
Graveyard Rabbit Association


Rock of Ages:  Grave Concerns

I first became interested in joining the GYR after reading about the Association in a genealogical magazine and then stumbling through a few sites of fellow rabbits.  I thought it would be enjoyable, as the sites reminded me of happier times with my Grandmother, Emily.

Rock of Ages: Grave Concerns is the title of my blog.  It is a composite heading of my grandmother’s favourite hymn, “Rock of Ages,” and a pun on words “grave concerns.” My use of the pun is in regards to alerting the masses of deteriorating conditions of gravestones and burial markers, and how photography can stop Time and damages by preserving these pieces, if just in digital format.  

I try to showcase cemeteries in Alberta, but sometimes the best photos to emphasize my postings come from my genealogy collection, which involve cemeteries located in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Michigan, New York State, England and Burma. 

My love for genealogy grew from my fascination with cemeteries.  It all started with a grade three history assignment:  trace your family tree, then bring it in and show the class.  Well, my artistic talents were challenged tracing stick people, so I decided to bring in our family tree instead. Yes sir, a ten-year-old Maple, but I had two little problems:  blisters, after digging a measly six-inch hole, and “Momma Rabbit.”

Long story short:  the maple tree got to stay in Momma’s garden, and I was convinced I would flunk grade three because of it – that’s when “Gramma Rabbit” got involved.  She took me that year, and for the next five summers until she died, to the local cemeteries to tend to four generations of family gravestones: her parents and in-laws, her grandparents, her siblings and their spouses, one of her six sons, her husband and many other relatives.  I would read aloud the inscriptions as we walked through the grounds, because the old girl always forgot her reading glasses!

Q:  Do my family members think I am a little off center with respect to my cemetery obsession?

My wife, “Mrs. Rabbit,” works in the psychiatric field; I could ask her for you. *LOL*  
I was nine-years-old when I started (almost 40 years ago) and Momma Rabbit hoped that I would eventually take up a normal hobby like stamp collecting.  “It’s just a phase, he’ll grow out of it” was her mantra.  I think she’s still waiting :) I believe, the rest of my family didn’t think too much of it, as we each did our own thing back then.

Q:  Which situation evokes an immediate response of “Oh! Oh! Stop the car!”
- you spy a yard sale in the distance
- you notice a cemetery from 1⁄4 mile away
- you see a sexy man on the side of the road
- from afar you spy Elvis with your eye

There are some situations that invoke immediate car stoppages and others than result in emergency avoidance counter-measures.  

When Mrs. Rabbit is navigating, coffee breaks are a necessity and cemeteries visits become “rolling stops” – just long enough to plot the location in the GPS for a better-planned trip later, but when I am travelling alone, every cemetery along the route gets a short visit.

Hey, do you know that sexy man on the side of the road?  He’s a nuisance! My wife always smiles and waves to him every time we see him -- I just keep driving.

As for Elvis, I still owe him a coffee; he helped me locate an old cemetery in Central Alberta, last month.

Q: What advice do you have for anyone considering joining GYR and creating their own GYR-affiliated blog?

Do it.  You may have no idea how to blog (I still don't) or what to showcase; but if you have twenty minutes, a camera and a cemetery, Inspiration will always find you.

Q: What advice would you have for would-be cemetery rabbits?

[1] Have fun with it.  Cemeteries are like libraries, archives and art galleries; they are filled with history and culture.  Every stone on its own can reveal something you did not know before about the individual deceased; but in a group, you re-live your community’s past, good or bad.
[2] Bring spare batteries, because the farther away you are from a store, the more likely your camera batteries will die.
[3] If you bring it, put your cellphone on vibrate.  You don't want the chorus of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" going off while you're shooting pictures, do you?

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