Just because I spend too much time wandering around cemeteries doesn't mean I've lost my sense of humor. To the contrary, I think one needs a sense of humor in order to pursue this hobby; if you let the locations and inscriptions get under your skin too much, you're apt to go looking for a mausoleum with an empty niche to crawl into.
With that said, one of my main objectives is to seek out the obscure and bizarre: the eighteenth-century sandstones with winged skulls and death's heads, inscriptions that outline how the deceased ceased, and most of all, strange names.
I began exploring cemeteries almost as soon as I got my first SLR camera, back in 1982. There was one a few miles from my house, the resting place of a branch of my family, with lots of interesting markers, especially this one, which caught my eye, and never let go:
|St. Mary Star of the Sea, Cedarhurst, NY|
More recently I was walking through one of three cemeteries in Bethpage, New York, near the famous 'Bethpage Black' golf course. It was there that I came upon this, which is destined to become the image I will always visualize when I hear the word 'birthstone':
That same day, in one of the adjacent cemeteries, I found this, which aptly fits the definition of 'what lies beneath':
|Powell Cemetery, Bethpage New York|
For the final entry today, there's this stone from the Cedar Grove cemetery in Patchogue, NY, taken in July of 1991:
The Merriam-Webster dictionary lists the first known usage of the term 'birdbrain' in 1933; sadly they do not provide the example. A search through my OED reveals no listing for the word. Given that he lived for seventeen years after its coining, I hope old Bird was able to take a joke.