I'm Oliver Webber, here with my research assistant, Kaydence Ribetnauer. You may not be able to see us because we're tucked in between these blades of grass, waiting for our next meal to fly in and land on one of them. To nourish our bodies and souls, we ponder leaves. We encourage contemplation... especially in regard to issues that will have to be handled when we become worm grub. We hope to motivate others to thoughtfully cultivate preferences and decisions while still vigorously leaping around. We recommend croaking... using voices to broadcast wishes before it's too late to have a voice in this matter. Other than a sumptuous supply of insects, this is assuredly the most "toad-ally" considerate gift we could leave for our life companions! Don't you agree? We invite you to get your feet wet by joining our pond of pondering pre-planners. Let's make croaking meaningful!

Monday, March 31, 2014


A Fly’Bye Lady Visit In Gainesville, Florida


It’s called a Death Café.  It’s not so much a place as an experience.  People, typically strangers, gather together in the presence of food to launch unstructured and unconstrained discussions about mortality and its manifestations. There are no agendas, objectives, or themes, and no intention of leading people to conclusions, courses of actions, or products. Grief support or personal counseling are not permitted within this channel.  During a two-hour period of time, discussions flow according to spontaneous interactions.   A blank slate of opportunity enables participants to release any death-related thoughts or pose questions to which others may react.

The idea for these branded meetings was sparked in Europe.  During 2004 the earliest versions of social gatherings for this purpose were inaugurated in Switzerland, quickly spreading to Belgium and France.  In 2011 Jon Underwood began hosting such events in the United Kingdom, primarily in London. As a web designer, he laid an Internet foundation detailing principles, guidelines, and rules to be followed by anyone who would want to host such affairs under the official nomenclature and operational model of this non-profit “social franchise.”  Thereafter, the concept migrated to North America, with the first session in Columbus, Ohio on July 19, 2012.  It was hosted by Lizzy Miles, a hospice volunteer and social worker, and Maria Johnson, a grad school cohort with a shared interest in hospice and end-of-life issues; both are “twenty-somethings” in age. 

While it might be presumed that participants would tend toward elderhood, it may be surprising to note that young people blend with older folks in these settings. Organizers are motivated to become hosts for different reasons.  Some are practitioners who deal with issues of death, but others simply see the value of stimulating such conversations in their communities.

The impetus that inspired Carissa, a young host in Ohio, may be deduced from her comment that she had been given a second chance at life.  She noted that, “While we discuss death, what we really are talking about, is life.”  Excitement about hosting stemmed from her viewpoint that everyone who attends one of these meetings has a story or an experience to share about life and death. 

Sometimes the facilitator tosses out a question to invigorate the discussion, but otherwise functions primarily as a peer participant.  The role of this individual also includes assuming responsibility for locating a place to hold the event, publicizing it, and assuring availability of food… possibly cake and beverages.  Any venue is apt to be suitable, as long as food can be consumed, and often purchased, on site.  If restaurants are used, requests are made for participants to buy food in exchange for use of the space.  Meetings may also be held in homes.  A comfortable setting likely to induce casual conversation is the underlying objective.

A comfortable setting certainly was the case on March 9th, 2014 when an inaugural Death Café took place inside a stunning lodge on the grounds of the Prairie Creek Preserve. 

Amidst rustic splendor in an expansive, high-ceiling space, an impressive conglomerate of young and old individuals representing varied stations in life joined the ever-enlarging circle of participants. 

A young woman who aims to become a funeral director served as the host, provider of varied food selections, and apparent solicitor of friends who attended in support of the initiative.  She was the first to speak, offering introductory guidelines, but promptly delegated the group to take over.  From then on, there were no interactive lapses as such topical threads as these were woven into the fabric of thought-provoking material:

Our culture as it relates to mortality was one consideration.  It was noted that death is sensationalized in movies and through other channels of image conveyance, perpetuating violence in society instead of suppressing it.  Such erroneous manifestations in the media don’t mesh with what it’s really like when a person dies.    

What is the perfect death?  Someone expressed a hope for fading away without suffering, with an opportunity for “closure” prior to it.  The image of a grandson kissing a woman was introduced.

Input from a nurse who had cared for dying individuals was based on a perception that an observer can tell when someone is ready to die.

The topic of voluntary euthanasia, or assisted suicide, emerged relative to questioning its justification as a way to preempt suffering, sustaining a sense of autonomy and dignity.

How do people react to someone whose life circumstances make the prospect of death far less formidable than usual, and possibly even welcome – a glaring diversion from conventional attitudes?  Is it possible to think differently about this when one hears of a person who perpetually fears murder and is on guard because others in her circle have been killed?  Can the average person who runs away from death understand why someone in this position would just as soon take her own life?          

One individual expressed a hope to come back to earth in some form that’s productive for nature. 

And so it progressed, moving from one realm to the next, with all commentary hinging on matters of death.  Toward the end of this session the host tossed out a question that elicited further responses. A second Death Café that would be scheduled for the following month was announced.  It is but one of a growing number of such meetings that are taking place worldwide. 

A convivial group of mostly strangers left the premises with food for thought, many of them after taking a detour to the kitchen for some additional life-sustaining food for their bodies.

The metaphorical closet of demise denial – ordinarily pigeonholed into a dark corner by fearful avoidance – had been opened.  Perhaps as folks left the building they had all the more reason to embrace life.


*List of upcoming Death Cafes in different parts of the United States as well as other  countries:  http://deathcafe.com/deathcafes/

*Guidelines for hosting a Death Cafe:  http://deathcafe.com/how/

 *Informative Articles:        NPR article                   Huffington Post article

 *Death Cafe on Facebook

 Referenced quotation from:  http://deathcafe.com/deathcafe/337/

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Fly'Bye Lady Visit In Ocala


Even in cemeteries and memorial parks, there may be glaring indications of economic disparities.  On one side of the metaphorical fence, headstones are jammed together, blatantly representative of the tight accommodations and lack of space below. 

However, on some properties there are pretty significant pieces of burial land available to anyone willing to shell out a pretty penny. Termed “family estates,” these apportioned lots enable a group of related people to have their bodies repose in clustered proximity to one another.  Often the delineated spaces are defined by hedges, stone walls, or wrought iron gates, creating a degree of separation from neighboring family groups.    

Highland Memorial Park is graced by a swathe of such sectioned territories, rendering a park-like setting shaded by overhanging trees.  

Situated next to an open expanse of land, there is no sense of confinement here. 

Beyond this region of family estates are views unobstructed by conspicuous headstones or other memorial hardware.  But passing through the semblance of a gate (not the Pearly one!) takes a visitor to “the other side” where such traditional structures abound.  

A distinct division between the two properties is achieved visually by observing the labeled designation on the stone entrance stanchions flanking the road. 

The exclusivity of flat markers accentuated by similarly staked artificial flowers on one side of the extensive property also tells the story. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


A Fly'Bye Lady Visit In Fort Meyers, Florida


At Fort Myers Memorial Park, if you choose to wander around on foot, you need not worry when fatigue causes you to falter.  You won’t have to search far afield for a place to rest your weary body.  Benches are abundant!  Regardless of the vantage point from which you scan the extensive burial grounds, your eyes are apt to capture the sight of graveside seats. 

The prolific preponderance of these structures causes one to wonder why there are so many more of them than usual.  A knowledgeable family service counselor explains their significance as a form of dilemma resolution.

That is, in some parts of this mid-20th century cemetery, there’s no longer enough underground space for second- and third-generation descendants to cozy up to kin who were buried there.  The growing incidence of cremation has offered a logical solution to this conundrum, and the placement of cremated remains inside benches situated above interred family members’ bodies has kept everybody together.

Beyond the prolific seating opportunities, there is another notable attraction here. 
Upon approaching a cremation garden, one can hear  music emanating from speakers 
within the tree-cloistered subdivision.  Concurrently, an initial sighting of the environs yields an immediate impression of diversity.  Chances are, if on the lookout for a particular type of housing for cremated remains, you might find it here.  Does the plethora of assorted varieties indicate that there’s a quarry around the corner?  Probably not here in the southern tip of Florida where the Everglades are ever so close! 

Pathway embellishments invite lingering here to absorb the intriguing features of these memorial pieces.  The urge for shutterbug renderings cannot be squelched!

Why bother with catalogs or Web pages to get ideas for memorial markers when such an assortment can be observed in real life!




A Manufactured Cremation Rock

Multiple cenotaph structures recognize decedents whose remains are buried elsewhere.  


Columbaria in differing styles also occupy the premises.

Cored Monolith Niches
Brick Wall Niches

Private family columbaria afford an alternative to community structures.


Cremation Niche Family Estates provide spacious accommodations.

As you can see, there is plenty of visual stimulation on these burial grounds!  Who knew a walk through the park – the memorial kind – could be so captivating!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014



Today in Sweden the wheels of progress are in motion.  After twelve and a half years as a company cultivating an alternative concept for bodily disposition, Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak is on the threshold of realizing the physical actualization of it.  Within the boundaries of an established factory, specialists will begin assembling components for the prototype promator that subsequently will be used to introduce the process of promession.  

People throughout the world have shown interest in this burgeoning technique that, as the name implies, promises to return human bodies to the earth from which they came.  The biologically logical approach allows “biodegraders” – useful bacteria and fungal contributors along with purposeful small animals and their larger cohorts – to fulfill their ecological roles as decomposition agents.  For this to happen, bodily substance is first reduced, after which the transfigured remains are buried. 

A freeze-drying process begins within one and a half weeks after death when a body, frozen to minus eighteen degrees Celsius, is submerged in liquid nitrogen (readily obtained as residual portions of supplies delivered to medical facilities for varied purposes).  This causes it to become brittle, whereupon a vibrating mechanism then transforms the body into an organic powder.  About seventy percent of human composition is water, so a vacuum chamber is used to extract the moisture by way of evaporation. The final procedural step is the removal of surgically implanted parts and mercuric elements through the use of a metal separator.   

The organic remains, in their sanitary and odorless state, can be placed in a coffin made of cornstarch and buried in the topsoil of a shallow grave.  Both the container and the contents become nutrient soil, or humus, once decomposition has occurred within six to twelve or eighteen months, depending on environmental conditions.  Since this material can nourish vegetation through its root system, a family may choose to plant a tree or shrub over the burial site in recognition of ongoing life and symbolic of the individual whose substance contributed to it.     

Contrast the sight of burial territory dominated by stone structures with property accentuated by blossoming trees and foliage.  Of course, personal appeal is in the eye of the beholder, but if you’d like to “become” a rose bush or a cherry tree situated in a fertile field of nature's colorful masterpieces, there’s a way you can fortify a potential for it to happen.

Besides following the progress of promession via Facebook, you can register to be part of the Promessa Organic non-profit organization’s fan club, possibly engendering potential interest in this form of disposition for yourself:  
Based on your whereabouts – without revealing your name – your support will be noted through the placement of your general location on a world map.  From that you’ll be able to see if you reside in one of the hot spots of interest.  

Before this end-of-life biological salute to the earth can be operative in the United States, it will require the voices of many to be heard by the powers that be.  So if this alternative form of disposition makes sense to you personally, you have the capacity to nurture its grass roots and help bring it to fruition. 

For further information:  http://www.promessa.se/en/

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Funeral Home WINE CELLAR

A Fly-'Bye Lady Visit In Naples, Florida


Don a blindfold to wrap your mind around a new concept.  You will be led to a place where the fruit of mulled inspiration has been realized.  Instead of your eyesight, you will use other senses to determine where you are. 

Upon approaching a building, you hear the gentle sound of palm tree leaves brushing against each other amid balmy breezes.  Beyond the front door a female voice emanates from a reception desk on the right.  The welcoming individual leads you along the spacious lobby and through another door on the left.  

After a momentary respite in a cushioned chair, you stand before a substantial object that you are asked to explore with your hands.  This may be a dead giveaway once you feel the glass of a round high-top table surface that rests upon the familiar curvatures of a barrel.

Sure enough, you have concluded accurately that you are in a wine cellar!  With that realization, your taste buds begin to salivate in anticipation of a mouthfeel of palate sensations.  

But, wait!  With wide-open access to the lobby allowing for extraneous awareness, you detect an aroma of fresh bouquets when the door opens to the adjacent room. Meanwhile, from that source you savor the melodic articulation of a type of music typically unheard in this supposed environment; it is a hymn – the label of which you easily resurrect from the cavern of your childhood churchgoing recollections.

Now you feel confused.  You wonder where, indeed, you are!  Someone who you erroneously surmise is a sommelier reveals the answer upon suggesting that you remove your blindfold.  Through a glass wall you catch the flavor of what’s going on in the room diagonally next door.  To your astonishment, you realize it is a full-bodied funeral service!  

You thirst for a sense of transparency, an orientation to the unique aspects of this setting that will dilute your sense of discombobulation and provide clarity.  Here you stand in a space that exudes opportunity for the sweetness of a casual social milieu, though at the moment folks are occupying a proximal area where funereal tartness is presumed.  You want further proof that you are in a funeral home, but the classic racks of wine bottles along the wall belie such validation.   

The innovative creation of a wine cellar is of recent vintage at the Hodges Funeral Home.  Perhaps bottled-up emotional expressions can be tapped here where a mimicked milieu simulates authentic public wine venues traditionally geared toward conviviality.  It is a place for the fluidity of relaxation that can override the dryness of generic funeral gatherings.  

Mourners appreciate the ambience of this comfort zone.  While seated or standing at the barrel tables festooned with a bevy of corks under glass, they can view a television screen that showcases a video of a decedent’s lifetime hallmarks.  A tribute video is superimposed on one of several background scenes that can be chosen by a family to accentuate a distinctive connection to the decedent's lifetime experiences.


If a caterer has been employed, they can consume food and even real wine, as long as the caterer has a liquor license.  At this point, that little detail is beyond the scope of a funeral home, so all of those bottles lining the wall are empty.  Restaurant owners and individuals donated them to bolster the decorative design. 

A nearby reception room might be utilized as well. 

Guests have endorsed this novel approach to memorial celebrations, purportedly giving it rave reviews.  They are apt to leave the premises with a positive aftertaste, probably prompting an attitudinal alteration of their funeral home perceptions. 

Soon there will be further blending of new appointments within this established facility.  The room where services take place is about to be transformed.  Chapel-style pews will be replaced by cushioned furniture to engender a homey atmosphere more akin to living room-style seating in a hotel lobby.

The moral of this story:  rethink the way you think about funeral homes.  They are changing in ways you would never have imagined. Sparkling effervescence is no longer foreign to the territory.  Next time you hold a glass of Chardonnay, think of the possibilities and make a toast to the new life that is being breathed into death management.  
For more word play... read the pre-planning reference book, 
Pondering Leaves:  Composing and Conveying Your Life Story's Epilogue