After The Ball

Well, we went on the Victorian Cemetary Walk and Picnic and it was a hoot. I didn’t finish the ruffled skirt to go with my polonaise so I used a black modern velvet one, and we had to rent a hat (for me) and a frock coat (for R:tAG) but we still looked quite smart if I do say so myself.

The walk was fascinating and fun; the organizer was full of interesting stories about the cemetery in general (designed by the same man, Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park in New York), and the inhabitants in particular.

This is the mausoleum of the Ghirardelli family, famous for their chocolate,* and this was also my favourite story. A daughter of Mr G. died tragically young, and the priest did not come in time to give her the Last Rites. Until then, the Ghirardellis, being a good Catholic family, had buried their dead in a Catholic cemetery. But after the no-show priest, Mr. G. had this mausoleum built in Mountain View, and then he and two of his sons went in the dead of night to the Catholic cemetery and moved all the Ghirardelli dead to this new plot.** But the absolute best part was when R:tAG leaned over at the end and whispered to me “And in the Catholic cemetery, he left replacement bodies made of chocolate!” I’m still laughing about that.

If you’ve seen the Dr. Who episode Blink, you’ll know why this creeped me right the hell out. The angel statue is in front of the door to the crypt, and there’s a mechanism to swing it out of the way when someone needs to be interred. The mechanism is still functioning, by the way, and it was just poor timing that we couldn’t see it in action (the caretaker couldn’t be there the day that we were).

Here’s another geek reference, which also shows one of the marvelous views from the cemetery. It’s still a very popular place to stroll, dog walk and picnic.

We also played a game along the walk; identifying famous Victorians by their supposed last words. I got one, but it was hardly a challenge.***

And then we had a picnic, where people had brought tables and chairs and china and real silverware and everything so it started off as a proper Victorian affair but because these were 20th century costumers, some people ended up in only corsets and bloomers to show off the finer points of their undergarment construction. It didn’t get to the point of “Le déjeuner sur l'herbe” or anything, though.

So it was a very good weekend; we got out of the house, met some great new people and learned more about a local landmark. I'd like to go back to the cemetery with a sketchbook and the camera. We didn't see near enough of it.

* Some of you who have visited us might recall Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco.

** He also included some decoration that would be deliberately offensive to Catholics (the Masonic symbol, though he wasn’t a Mason, and the upside-down torches). I’m not clear on how the upside down torches would wound Catholic sensibilities. Maybe it was a Victorian thing. Any culture where you can insult someone using flowers has some pretty complicated semantic layers.

*** Oscar Wilde: "Either this wallpaper goes, or I do." Probably apocryphal, though.


  1. knitography said...

    I stumbled across your blog (from Ravelry) and was pleased to see the Dr Who reference! "Blink" was one of my favourite episodes, and one of the creepiest. Apparently the upside down torch has been used by Satanists as a symbol of Lucifer...  

  2. rilla said...

    *LOVE* the Wintermute mausoleum. I have ants in my pants to see the cemetery when next I come to see you.  

  3. rilla said...

    erm... perhaps I meant crypt.  

  4. Amy said...

    Rilla, I'm not actually sure of the terminology myself. Some Goth I am! I have enough trouble managing not to pronounce it "mawSOleeum" (like "linoleum").  

  5. enthemic said...

    You two look swank in that picture :)

    Anytime someone mentions Victorians or more specifically Victorian culture and its peculiarities (re: flower insults) I'm reminded of Neal Stephenson's book "Diamond Age", and in particular of Nell's stay at the gatehouse of the new vicky crafts town.  

  6. Suz said...

    I was thinking that the cemetery visit might a good stop for my next visit but who knows when that will be. [sigh]  

  7. carla said...

    Did you whiten your face for the walk? You both look great!

    I would love to put together an early 20th century travelling outfit (with hat, of course) and then get a few people together and take the train up into the mountains for a weekend or something.  

  8. Amy said...

    "Did you whiten your face for the walk? You both look great!"

    Heh. Um, no, that is me au naturel. I was quite a bit pinker by the end of the day, because I'd forgotten to put even sunscreen on (who thinks about sunscreen in October?). My lips do look paler than normal, though; I'm not sure if that was just the camera or I really did look like that. No one looked worried or asked if my corset was too tight, so maybe it was just the camera.

    Costuming events are great, and they literally happen every weekend 'round here. Come and visit!  

  9. Romi said...

    How totally cool. I love the Ghirardelli story, including the comment! :D  


Copyright 2006| Blogger Templates by GeckoandFly modified and converted to Blogger Beta by Blogcrowds.
No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission.