December 2007

If you plan to be cremated with the cavities in your mouth filled, don’t go to Larimer County, Colorado. 

Dental fillings, or, more pointedly, the mercury included in them, is the topic of discussion between regulators and the Colorado funeral home owner who wants to relocate his family-owned crematory to Larimer County.  Health officials, concerned about mercury emissions from the dental work in question, want Rick Allnut to either outfit his crematory with an expensive filter to block the minimal emissions or extract the offending teeth before cremation.

You can read the entire Tribune (Northern Colorado) article here.

The article goes on to say that mercury from cremation accounts for less than eight percent of the annual mercury emissions in Minnesota (where one of the experts cited in the article works).  And while CANA and others question whether that’s even accurate, I can only wonder, “What about the other 92+ percent?”

And I applaud Mr. Allnut for making his stance clear when he told the regulators that he would not be pulling any teeth from his deceased clients.

It’s a pretty absurd suggestion, probably made by a health official who wasn’t thinking about the sensitve nature of the funeral business.


Our company, Final Embrace, also runs a website called Treasured Memory Bears, where we sell custom-made teddy bears, constructed from clothing of a client’s loved one.

The bears are made from the actual fabrics of the clothing and mean a lot to the folks who receive them.

This year, our family lost a few of the older members:  my grandfather Thurman Totten, my grandfather Ronald Skipper and my aunt’s mother-in-law Josephine “Dodie” Gallenkamp.

 My grandmother, Patricia Skipper (pictured above), who spent so many months caring for my grandfather, decided to put her sewing skills to use and make our bears for the family.

So I taught her how to make a bear.  I gave her eyes and noses from my supply.  I made some suggestions about accessorizing the bears with pockets, ties, etc.

Then, she went to work.  She put a lot of love and detail into each of them.

Here’s just a few of the bears she made, and the reactions they brought from my family:

James Skipper with his U.S. Air Force-themed bear from his dad’s clothes

Blanche Totten, my grandmother, with a bear made from Thurman’s work shirt

My dad, Lynn Totten (he also makes our quilted cot covers)

My niece, Sterling, with her “Grandpa Skipper” bear

My aunt, Sally Gallenkamp, with bears from each of her fathers

She ended up making almost 30 bears this year.  Here’s 18 of them, with their owners:

I’ve received two very special gifts that I love a lot.

One is a subscription to Quilter’s Home (a great magazine).  It’s not a stuffy, old lady magazine.  Designed for younger (and younger-at-heart) quilters, the magazine tackles issues ranging from important sewing techniques to quilter’s comfort foods to how to tell if your husband is cheating while you’re quilting!

The other is a PSP, which stands for PlayStation Portable.  It’s a handheld videogame system that absolutely rocks!  I happen to love football and playing Madden NFL or College Football 2007 on my PSP is totally awesome.

While playing my game on Christmas day, I silently marvelled at the technology that allows me to hold what looks and sounds like a real football game in my hands and control the outcome of each play.  What would people just 20 years ago think of such a device?  How about 100 years ago?

We live in a fast-paced, changing world where things move as breakneck speed.  Imagine being a videogame maker who has to deal with constantly-shifting technologies.

Sometimes I’m glad that we make our living in an industry that moves so much slower.  Still, when you see a change coming (cremation, green burials, etc.) imagine how much worse it’d be if you were in a more fluid industry.

You still have time to act and to position your business.

I’m going to get back to my videogame now.

My sister and her wife, Jennifer, love maroon, or so they say.  So I decided to give them a variation on the traditional double wedding ring quilt by weaving some “ribbons” for them.

So I cut wide strips of my three maroon-ish colors and tiny 1″ strips of my black fabric, as seen here:

Then, I pressed them open, like this:

Then I cut 7.5″ squares and stacked them opposite ways and sewed them, like this:

Then they looked like this:

THENNNNN, I sewed them all together in a really boring process, until they looked like:

In the end, I added a black border (over parts of which I continued the “ribbons”) and backed it with the same black fabric, so it looked like this:

The colors “weave” in and out of each other (especially visible up-close) and suggest an intertwining.  I kinda think the very light color is Jen (she’s a sweet, quiet woman) and the paisley is my sister, Crystal (not so quiet).  Without the darker color (love) they wouldn’t be so strong.

Of course, if you don’t like syrupy sentiment, then it’s just a really cool geometric design.

I told ya’ll I was making quilts for Christmas.  Here’s the first one I made for my niece:

You may recognize it as the purple quilt I talked about in the post titled Purple Lattice Quilt.

She loved it.  More soon!

The children in the picture above live in a cemetery in Manila, Phillipines.

Read the fascinating story at Vice Magazine here.

(via Pruned: Manila Living)

Our friends at Funeral Business Advisor (including Michael Manley, a regular contributor to Final Embrace) have been enjoying continued success.

 In fact, the success is so… well, successful, that they’re increasing their page count for their January/February issue.

In a private email (don’t worry, I got permission to share this with you), Michael told me how increased advertising demand is forcing him to expand his magazine by four pages!

But it gets better for you, my readers.  Michael’s new plan calls for 56 pages, but because the printing company only charges a miniscule amount to go four more to 60 pages, he wants to offer something special to our readers.

FBA has a limited amount of additional advertising available at full-, half- and quarter-pages.  He’s also adding content, which means you’ll see some an editorial from me in those extra pages and an ad from

Michael has given me the ad rates (they’re quite attractive!) and has allowed me to share them with any interested readers.

Want to know more?  Call Tim (that’s me!) at 321-287-0628 or email me at

Time’s short, so call or email ASAP.

Next Page »