Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Returning to the earth in death

Natural burial must have come into my awareness once upon a time from one of the environmental blogs I read. I know, I know—death is not exactly a fun topic and is one I’d rather not think about, but it’s important and unavoidable.
            So, I tried to get past my mental roadblocks of not even wanting to think about it and started doing some research.  With gratitude to google, I easily learned about the resources for how to obtain a green burial, which, as it turns out, isn’t quite as easy as googling is.
            But what is natural burial and how does it compare to conventional burial?
            It basically means being buried in a biodegradable, sustainable casket without the use of toxic formaldehyde embalming fluid.  This appeals to me because I try to avoid chemicals in my body in life, so I really don’t want to have them in my body in death.  The casket part is important to me too. I want a simple casket that’s not made of veneer, plastic, steel, and/or exotic, non-sustainably harvested wood. I also don’t want to be encased in a concrete vault. 
             One of the few funeral homes here in Indiana who offer this natural option say that “it allows your body to gently reunite with the earth while nurturing and renewing the land.”
            It’s like composting, at its essence.  Returning to the earth.  I like that, the thought of being buried in a natural setting along winding paths, or at least in an environmentally sustainable way.
            Even though today only a handful of funeral providers offer this option, it’s gaining in popularity as more people learn about it.  Visit www.greenburialcouncil.org for a listing of approved providers.
            For those interested in the this route, there is a ‘green’ cemetery, Kessler Woods, located in Indianapolis.  No state requires embalming or concrete vaults for burial, and there are no laws prohibiting unembalmed bodies from being buried in biodegradable caskets.  
            So even though a cemetery may not be certified ‘green,’ it’s worth asking funeral directors and cemetery caretakers about.  The more requests are made, the more accepted and mainstream it will become.
            See www.indianalivinggreen.com for a great article on this topic.

Historic Homes of Noblesville-355 S. 9th St.

Location:  355 S. 9th St.
Owners:  Dr. Jason and Tina Bell, since 2005
Style & History:  The Sowerwine house was build in 1904 by Charles and Sarah Sowerwine.  The home, a late Queen Anne, exhibits numerous characteristics of this style, but without the exuberant ornamentation.  Edward and Eleanor Forsythe, who owned the home from 1918 to 1950, enlarged it with a 2-story addition in the 1920’s and converted it to apartment in the 1930’s.  After more than sixty-five years as apartments, the home was recently converted back into a single-family residence.
What are your favorite features?  “We like that the house has large size rooms with plenty of storage, the large wrap-around front porch and our in-ground swimming pool.”
What work have you done on your house?  “The entire house has been renovated and has all new electrical and plumbing.  We have added some new windows, a wood pellet stove, new porch railing, hardi plank siding, and landscaping.”
What do you like about this area/neighborhood?  “What we like about the neighborhood, is that the community is starting to focus more on green living and restoring these beautiful homes and structures.”

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Serendipity and Schoolhouses

Serendipity.  That’s what Dottie said as we got back into her car after a chat with a local man after we stopped to snap a picture of his house.  The front door was open and he invited us in and showed us around.  We connected because we’re ‘old house’ people, or more accurately, ‘old building’ people.  Old buildings are a way to connect with the past, with people who came before us, a way to honor the hard lives they led, and a way to be a part of what will be history someday.
            After I interviewed Dottie Young, who grew up right in Clarksville, for some of the history on last week’s schoolhouse cover story, she invited me to go along on a tour of old remaining schoolhouses in the area. She told me fascinating stories of people and places as we passed mile after mile of cornfields. “That house was constructed without nails,” she said as we passed a large white farmhouse, and “my mother was born in a house that used to stand here on this corner.” 
Dottie told me of tiny, nearly forgotten cemeteries tucked in the acres.  She has ancestors buried at many of them, dating back to when this area was settled.  She took me to an early surviving log cabin—and I was amazed.  It still has a wood shingle roof!
I’d never been on most of these roads, but I’d been to one of the old schoolhouses we visited.  I actually wrote about it here back when I first discovered it by accident. Just a shell now, in ruins but still standing, it touched me so deeply then and still does.  Dottie thinks it was called ‘Willow Pond’.
Down the road from that schoolhouse is where we met Josh Reynolds.  His is an amazing story of how he and his wife Laura purchased their schoolhouse and have renovated it into a beautiful, cozy home with soaring fourteen foot ceilings and wood floors. What’s now the front door wasn’t the original entrance, but there was a big hole in the wall from where a tractor had been driven right through the wall—on purpose—a common practice back then.  The limestone plaque is inscribed with the name Charles Zeis, Dottie’s great-grandfather.
I feel so much gratitude for those who work to preserve our stories and our buildings and our past. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Saving the Schoolhouse

Love this place, love this woman, love that I got to do this story: Garden Thyme

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

CF Walk update and another fundraiser coming up

What a thrill for me to be able to do the cover story on Fritz Mills and the Cystic Fibrosis walk a few weeks ago. He’s one of the coolest people I know and I admire him. Fritz is courageous, kind, and pretty awesome all around.

In the very soggy month of May, the day of the walk was sunny and warm. The total raised for the Noblesville walk was $19,570, with $7,407.00 of that coming from Fritz’s Fantastic Friends team, surpassing their goal of $5,000. Thank you to all who participated and gave to this great cause.

Mark your calendars for another fun upcoming event right here in Noblesville. On Sunday June 12, Sid Davis will be hosting his annual Cystic Fibrosis fundraiser at the Noblesville Golf and Batting Center, located at 14700 Willow View Road, just off State Road 32 West.

Golf and Batting is open from 12-8 PM on Sundays and Davis will donate gross proceeds from the entire day to the CF Foundation. Festivities will be ongoing from 12-5 PM. Activities include a Driving Range, Putt Putt, Batting Cages, Sand Volleyball and Arcade Games.

For the third year there will also be a cornhole tournament. Teams of two register for a fee and the Grand Prize is half of the total pot going to the winners and the other half going to the CF Foundation (if the winner chooses to donate their winnings to the CF Foundation too, all the better). Contact Davis at www.golfandbattingcenter.com or 773.2909 to register. Info can also be found on the facebook page, Noblesville Golf and Batting Center.

As far as food goes, there will be Black Diamond BBQ available for purchase. You’ll also want to check out the raffle items, including: an autographed Steve Wariner guitar, a fireworks package, a gear/gift certificate from Nurpu, concert tickets from HANK 97.1 FM, autographed items from this year’s Indy 500 winner, Alex Tagliani, a custom hula hoop (donated by me) and more.

There’ll be entertainment, too. Linda Lee and the Noble Creek Boys will play live from 1-3 and I’m going to be there from 3-5 hooping it up, so come out and hoop, too. I’ll have music and community hoops of all sizes and weights to use. What great activities to do as a family and support a great cause. Hope to see you there!

Historic Homes of Noblesville--595 N. 10th St.

Location: 595 North 10th Street

Owners: Bud and Linda Ramsay, since 2002

Style & History: Built in a Traditional style, the home was constructed in 1941 and was a Show House at the Indianapolis Fairgrounds. It was then dismantled and moved to its permanent home, a lot that was originally part of the County Fairgrounds. Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong, owners of Armstrong Shoe store downtown, were the original owners. “We’ve heard stories about how well-loved the Armstrongs were in the community, and the wonderful light displays they did for Holidays and the generous candy they gave out for Halloween.”

What are your favorite features? “We love the extra large lot, the sunroom, and the large master bath. There’s a bar room in the basement, complete with a gorgeous marble bar that was dropped in when the house was built. We love the house and the way it feels. It’s a cozy, bright house.”

What work have you done on your house? “We owned the house for two years before we moved in. We scraped wallpaper, replaced the floors on the main level, installed a new kitchen counter and appliances, tore off the old sunroom and built a new sunroom, with a large master bath above it. We finished the basement, have a new garage and redid the landscaping and pond. We plan to put new windows in the original part of the house.”

What do you like about this area/neighborhood? “Everything—the friendly neighbors, being close to downtown, and we love living across from the school.”