Posts in category “Bewitching Vagabond”

International Chindogu Society

Written by Laura Brown

The planets formed. The Earth cooled. Creatures emerged and one of them started playing with rocks and sticks.

That creature made spears, he crafted shovels, he turned pelts into cloth. Then, he got fancy. He built the solar-powered flashlight and the combination table napkin/necktie. Not exactly useful, but somehow not altogether useless. He created inventions that didn’t quite work…but were nonetheless fun.

Chindogu was born.

I remember an episode of "IT Crowd", laughing about the idea of a ladder for bees (or some flying insect I don't remember for sure which now). The ladder was to save them if there was a fire. They could crawl up the ladder to get away from the fire. Ignoring the fact that they can fly, its a very nice invention.

The Webring is Having a Comeback

Written by Laura Brown

I miss webrings. They were a great way to find new links, interesting ideas and people. Social media is an offshoot of webrings. Most of the webring software I used to know is gone. Swallowed up by marketing. The new webrings are different, lighter, and they tend to be personal. Webrings Listed

Sadgrl Webring Listings

Dignity and Indignities

Written by Laura Brown

As a baby and a child you begin to demand your dignity, to find and expect to feel like a person. But, as you grow older, farther from childhood, you begin to lose your dignity. You become dependent, your body and mind forget and have to give in to necessity over dignity. Against your will.

Cemetery Photographer Interview Questions

Written by Laura Brown

Two of the interview questions from the Cemetery Travel site. Read the interviews and find more questions on the site.

What’s your favorite thing to do in a cemetery?

What would your epitaph be?

If I were younger and still more romantic, my favourite thing to do in a cemetery would be a picnic. You would need to come prepared, not just the usual picnic things. You might check in with the people who maintain the land and be sure a picnic is welcome there.

Next, once you are there, find a good spot. Cemetery land tends to be knobby and bumpy. You might think its all manicured, perfect cared for lawns, its not always the case. Usually they are knobby due to insects, weeds, and no doubt other things I don't know about. You won't want too much shade or sun and a sunny day will at least save you from mosquitos.

I would not plan it as a Gothic looking thing. I don't see it as a gloomy event.

Now, at this age, I like visiting cemeteries just for photography. Finding the oldest stones, even those I can't read due to weathering or plant growth. Sometimes I can read them better from the photograph I take. I also look for ornate carved or sculpted stones. I especially like those with stone flowers. Its nice to see what people have planted around the stones too, or if they have left pennies, pebbles or other little mementos on the gravestone.

I'm not ready to write my epitaph. I'd like to visit, as a ghost or whatever is available, and read what others have written.

Why Not Choose Your Own Death Date?

Written by Laura Brown

Listening to people, family, and the media go on about your life and health as you get older, some days it feels like living with a jack-in-the-box. Any time it could pop up and that's it your time is up. I'm going to be 60 at the end of this year. I do wonder how many days I still have. I don't feel stressed about it but, I don't like it.

I wonder if there have been people who also didn't like the unknown date lurking in their future. Has anyone ever decided they didn't like the suspense and chosen their own expiry date? Not due to despair, or ill health. Just because you don't want to leave it random and unknown.

I don't think its suicide. It's not a decision made due to sadness, or ill health. I don't think its morbid either. Younger people may see it that way. Your experience is different. But, unless immortality becomes an option, I think its entirely reasonable.

Compare it to doctors deciding a birth date for babies by scheduling a caesarian for women. They don't know what the real birth date would have been, if the baby had been left in the womb until it made its own way, in its own time. I think choosing your own death date would be the same really.

You could have all your affairs in order, make sure your will is done right, write instructions for your funeral, burial, or whatever you want done with your leftover body. Decide where your possessions go, are distributed, knowing there isn't much of anything you can take with you. Spend that extra time with family and friends you've kept meaning to visit but didn't make time for. If you are a bucket list person, finish your list. Find a good spot and plant a tree! Otherwise, do those things you'd like to have done, travel to those places you would have liked to see, knowing your plan for how many days you've decided you have left.

In the end, you might choose to extend the date. There would be not reason you couldn't. That alone would be a good reason not to tell anyone else about what you're doing and the cut off date. Who wants someone reminding you about it. You might change your mind entirely. But, if you wanted to stick to your date and not keep waiting for it to come along and happen to you - why shouldn't a person take their own fate in their own hands and choose their last day for themselves?

Documenting Before Demolition

Written by Laura Brown

An editorial about exploring and documenting history. This comes from a forgotten (no posts since 2020) site of a Manitoba, Canada, explorer. I couldn't find a name or anything like social media to help find who they are.

Some of you are aware that Canada has never been considered one of the best countries in the world to explore abandoned sites, due to Canada's national policy for demolition projects of derelict buildings or converting derelict properties over to new owners, often into the hands of non-profit organizations. Oftentimes, a non-profit revitalizes a derelict property preserving it into a historical monument for decades to come. Alternatively, many a non-profit just doesn't have the funding to make a complete conversion and a vast number of the buildings remain derelict at the site for decades longer.

These properties are wonderful opportunities for photographers and historians to explore. Unfortunately, for many of us, we don't know they're out there to explore. No one is going to advertise these histories, locations and so on unless you travel the country roads a lot or keep up with the sporadic media reports about these landmarks. Your only other resource is spending unlimited hours in historical archives.

I'm all for preservation of historical sites, but the renovation process often renders the historical artifacts and architectural features obsolete. Once lost, these are never recovered unless someone documents them first. The preservation and renovation leans more to a symbolic historical monument then anything tangible. We need to remember that often times those derelict sites contain histories our culture doesn't want to remember. And that's why we not only call those marginalized and abandoned but also the forgotten one's.

The kinds of explorations some of us do do NOT end up in our Canadian school system's text books. History is continually erased where those would like it to be erased. However, I ask a vital question about this erasure. How does a culture, a nation, whatever this may be learn from their past mistakes in this manner? Perhaps we're all prone to wanting to hide our mistakes, shove them in a deep, dark closet or up into a musky, damp attic until the day we throw it all away or demolish it out of sight and memory.

Sometimes we can't even do that, as in the cases of nuclear tragedies such as Hiroshima, Chernobyl and Fukushima. Well, as some of us know, this is when we encounter the BS campaigns, orchestrated by governments, the international media and big corporations that have an invested interest in these outcomes. And they would just like us to know they would prefer we know as little as possible. Happy, ignorant sheep continue to be consumers, and every nation needs consumers. Some of us are still waking up' and enraged that democracy seems to have very little to do with 'protecting' the people and more to do with protecting big corporation, this includes the lies and coverups to cover up all the environmental disasters throughout history due to big corporation.

This also includes the cover ups of institutionalized 'mental asylums' where those not wanted in society were suddenly labeled with a 'mental disorder'. Imagine living in a generation where parents or your husband, just thoroughly sick of you for whatever reason, you've become an emotional or financial burden, maybe your husband didn't want to suffer the public embarrassment of divorcing you? So they could just drop you off at the nearest asylum? You have to wonder if those family members slept at night considering the 'cutting edge' therapeutic technologies that went on in asylums, like lobotomies, ice baths, electric shock therapy and brutal restraints to name a few.

This is why it's so essential for some of us to document what we can before it all fades. For me, sometimes it's a fine line between truth and deception, life and death and giving honor to those who have been forgotten, most often buried in unidentified graves. Just another number. No name. Their voices muted and then demolished out of memory. Out of history. This is my passion. Follow us this year as we travel and document Manitoba's abandoned places. Sometimes haunted places. The voices of the past still speak, of our ancestors, our history, right out of their unidentified graves, if we listen closely enough.

Photographing the Vanishing Quote

Written by Laura Brown

I noticed this quote on an abandoned Blogger site today.

"Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on Earth which can make them come back again." - Henri Cartier-Bresson

It applies to almost everything photographed. From a smiling child to the sun itself. Nothing stays exactly the same forever and the photographer won't be standing in the same spot, with that same angle, at that same time either. Something will be different, maybe just the weather. Maybe how the photographer feels or gets different perspective. Life is about change, but a photograph can capture what was there, while it was there.

This is what rephotography can showcase. The changes over time and other changes to our culture.

Modern Censorship is Running Amok

Written by Laura Brown

I understand the idea about pulling down statues, burning books, and trying to change how history is viewed, but I am concerned about censorship.

Changing a point of view can be done without destruction, like burning books, toppling statues, defacing graves, and so on. People don't need to destroy things in order to change perspective.

The people in history had a different perspective, a different lifestyle. They lived in the times as they were. Their choices were based on what life was like, what they knew and understood about the world. In their world, at that time, they believed in what they were doing.

Times change, attitudes and ideals develop and evolve. That doesn't mean everything about the past is terrible or wrong, or should be destroyed. One negative should not cause the destruction of everything else that was positive and important and good.

A new, different perspective can bring fresh understanding of history, without attempting to vilify people or erase them from history. Talk about people in history, but without censorship or bias. Give people the facts, about the accomplishments and failures of people in history and see them as human beings, as people like ourselves but different.

In time, future people will look back on us, our deeds, ideas, and very likely have a different perspective than we do now. I hope they will also choose to have understanding and view us in perspective. I would not like us to be censored or erased from history because future people don't agree with our ideas or actions.

Are NFT's a Backlash to Grinding and Online Games?

Written by Laura Brown

I'm trying to understand about NFT's (non-fungible tokens). The more I read the more this seems to be some kind of backlash to online games in which you work/grind/farm to get what is essentially a digital image or file, one copy of it, which you in fact do not own.

NFT seems to be a way to own something which you still don't really own. You may have fought, worked, or otherwise feel you own it, but you did not create it so you have no copyrights to the original image/game/whatever digital file it is.

If the original artist does not create an NFT for their image and then agree to sell the rights along with the NFT, what does anyone who buys the NFT really own? Kind of claiming to own something without having any real rights to do so. Or, do they own a copy, like a screen capture of the original, and then believe the artist no longer has rights to the image?

Complicated.

Would you Travel to Explore a Cemetery?

Written by Laura Brown

I think the idea that walking through a cemetery is scary is created by the media. In reality, its usually quiet, tends to be damp, among the trees, or windy if there are few trees. I've photographed an old cemetery which was on the edge of a farm field, only one tree. It was very cold and windy. That was perfect atmosphere for a movie. But, they would have needed a story to make it creepy. The reality was just bitterly cold, not scary at all.

I found this post, which included a quote from Loren Rhoads, about travel and exploring cemeteries.

“I look at them as open-air sculpture gardens,” Rhoads said. “There are some places in the world where it’s museum quality, and it’s just there for anyone to visit and take a look.”

Source: A Guide to the World's Most Intriguing Cemeteries

Loren has written, "Wish you Were Here" and "199 Cemeteries to See Before you Die". The first is about US cemeteries and the second about cemeteries around the world.  Also, her site Cemetery Travel.

You can also find her Cemetery Travels Notebook, for your own exploring and notes, from her Etsy shop, CemeteryLibrarian.