Sunday, May 25, 2008
Beauty and Duty
I woke up early this morning. I tried to convince my body that since it was a non-working Sunday we really should sleep some more, but it was having none of that. I read for a while and decided to make breakfast. However i was out of soda so i decided to go to Sam's Club to buy a pallet of Diet Coke (which i believe is the smallest quantity they sell). I arrived at the store to find that they weren't open yet. sigh. What to do... There is a tiny little cemetery and church about 2 blocks away from the Sam's Club on a side road i use all of the time to cut over to Rt 40. In fact, it is the road that you use to get into Jason and Kate's neighborhood. The grounds look so out of place sandwiched between houses and an industrial park. Time to explore. It really couldn't be more rustic and lovely if it was a movie set built for the sole purpose of being rustic and lovely. It has a tiny little name sign about the size of a shoe box on a post and a spiky black wrought iron fence with swinging gates There is the one obligatory obelisk, of course, but most of the markers are old traditional headstones Many of them are so old that the weather makes them impossible to read; the ones that are still legible are often carved in German. But what really drew me into this spot is the girl There is only one piece of statuary in the graveyard and she stands close to the road, in profile. I see her nearly everyday as i drive by and i have always wondered about her. Turns out that she is not a marker herself, but rather a statue placed next to a marker. It's odd because they don't match at all. In fact, the headstone doesn't match anything around it and isn't nearly as weathered as everything around it. Don't you love the mystery of such things? Was she the one placed later? Is the headstone a replacement? Could she have been atop the original marker? We'll never know. But it was nice to finally say hello to the face i notice from the road every day. Dontcha love they way the trees dappled the sunlight on her shoulder? In fact, the sunlight was so strong and clear that i wandered the grounds snapping pictures. Good Morning, Buttercups! On to the church itself, which sits at the back of the lot. Composed of awesome field stone (my favorite building material BTW) the Gothic Revival style chapel was built by German Lutheran settlers in the mid 1800s. There was a school... know what?... you can read the sign as well as i can Right after taking that ID framing shot (as we scrapbookers call it) i noticed that the large wooden door was ajar. CRAP! It is Sunday morning, Niki; you're out here snapping away during a church service, you boob. I prepared to slink away when it occurred to me that the church yard had been silent the entire time. And that i'd circled the entire graveyard without seeing a soul. And that there was no parking lot. Or cars parked on the street. And no information sign declaring the pastor's name, time of services and "thought provoking message" (CH HC - what's missing? UR! : really people, who comes up with those things? Is there a newsletter or something?). CRAP! I investigate and the door has definitely been forced. Crap, crap, crap. I really just want to go buy my legal stimulants and go home to make some breakfast. But i think we all recognize by this point that that isn't how this is going down. I'm no Carpeted Man, but I am civic-minded (check plus to anyone who gets that reference except Jonah who gets a check minus if he doesn't) so I'm gonna report it. Let's see... there's no information sign on the grounds. There's no "in case of emergency" call number on any of the windows. It is Sunday morning so everybody at the Lutheran church in town is otherwise occupied. We're in the county so we are out of the jurisdiction of 311 - "When There's Urgency, but No Emergency." Double crap. Time to call 411 and ask for the number for the cops. It rings. And rings. And rings. Then voicemail comes on... 411 helpfully gave me the number for the police training academy which quel surprise is not open on Sunday morning. There are times when i really despise automated services. Okay. I tried and tried not to be an ass, but after 10 minutes I was through with this crap and dialed 911 knowing full well that there is nothing that emergency operators and officers love more than idiots calling 911 for raccoons stuck in the chimney. sigh. I opened with "I'm sorry this isn't an emergency. What number should i call if there are suspicious circumstances but no emergency?" My operator was cool and took all of the details. I was prepared with my name, location, cross streets, description of the problem and everything. It was all going very well until she asked me what number i was calling from. CRAP! I don't know my cell phone number - i don't call it, i don't give it out to people, everyone knows that i keep the ringer off, heck i mostly use it to text Matt in CA. Can you say flustered? Anyhoo, to cover for my moment of babbling idiocy i told her i would stay until the officer arrived and gave her a description of my clothing for good measure (and to prove that i wasn't a psycho or crank caller). To say that Sunday morning in Catonsville is a slow time for the cops is putting it mildly. Less than 10 minutes later not 1, but 2 cruisers arrived. The cops took my statement, checked the grounds and cleared the building. It looks like nothing was stolen or vandalized. It was theorized that it might have been a homeless person searching for shelter. (yes, apparently there are some homeless people living in or near Money Magazine's 2007 "49th best place to live in the US" (i love you Catonsville); in fact, there is a guy who has been living in a tent behind the KFC for 15 years. Man, this place just gets more interesting the longer i live here) I chatted with one officer [the non-emergency number is 410-887-2222; he's been at the county for 2 years after 24 years at the state and some time in the Corp (Semper Fi); he recently returned from his wedding cruise where his best man (his wife's brother) won over $7K in Bingo and also won the Sexy Legs contest by wearing black stocking with garters and crawling across the stage; he grew up on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania where the historical society found a little cemetery which had captains from the local Civil War battle interred so his family deeded it to them] while the other checked on a similar report from earlier this year. Once everything was all clear i free to go to Sam's Club, which was certainly open by now. Of course I went by way of Burger King - screw cooking breakfast; i think i earned a sausage, egg and cheese croissandwich.