A few years ago when I was taking a walk around the neighborhood in Lawrence, I passed a house advertising its residents. The name PERKINS was engraved on a headstone near the front door, instead of on a mailbox.

I could not believe what I was seeing. I stopped, stood, and stared at the gravestone-looking object, thinking why, why would people who are living use a headstone to list their names as the occupants?

I have walked by that house many times, and when I do, I still get that eerie feeling. In the language of my childhood, “it gives me the heebie jeebies.”

But the other day I was snipping some parsley from our little herb garden in front of the cabin in Wisconsin, and my eyes went to the iron shoehorn from which hangs a rectangular board with two names painted in yellow. “Paul and Lynn,” it says. My husband’s last name has quite a bit to do with shoes, and it, too, is on the mailbox.

I thought to myself, maybe someone walking by connects the dots, laughs, and says just a tad maliciously to her walking partner, “How bourgeois … and they think they’re being so country quaint.”