Thursday, November 01, 2007

Dia de los Muertes

Today is the Dia de Los Muertes or Day of the Dead. I've always found this type of celebration to be more interesting than Halloween. It's a celebration of the connection between the spirits and the living. Interestingly enough, these types of celebrations are popular in nearly all cultures but I have to say that the Mexicans and Chinese get a medal for fascinating ways to party it up. In both cultures, people go to the graves of family members and friends and bring gifts, or ofrendas, of favorite treats and they spend the day cleaning and arranging altars with significant items that were a part of that persons life. I really enjoy the colorful and communal aspect to this day. Actually, Day of the Dead is two days of celebrating. Today is about las angelitos, or the little angels, and tomorrow is about the adult remembrances. Day of the Dead provides a spiritual pathway from the living to the Saints and to God. The sugar skulls are a tradition as are a type of marigold called zenpasuchitl that are used to decorate the graves and altars. Most of the traditions surrounding this celebration date from Pre-Columbian times.
I reminds me of the manner in which Asian families have very similar celebrations by going to the graves, cleaning and scrubbing them and decorating them with flowers and favorite foods of the person who has passed on. They also have a lantern festival that is an ancient custom. Putting lighted lanterns into the rivers and streams allows the passage of the spirits to another world. I have only seen pictures of both of these celebrations and done some extensive reading about the cultures and it just seems such a beautiful thing to do. I'm not a deeply religious person but I find, surprisingly, that I am deeply spiritual and the thought of moving on to another world is a pleasant thought that, as I become older, really comforts me.
So, no matter if you're a Celt and they put you in your canoe and fill it with evergreens and light that sucker up and float you out to sea, or you're Egyptian and somebody builds a tomb full of the things that represent who you were in life, the concept is the same. It is a celebration of a life and it pleases me to think of remembrance in whatever form it takes. Just in case something happens to me anytime soon-don't forget to put my rotary cutter and Olfa Ruler in with me! Oh! fabric...don't forget the fabric....and maybe some chocolate. I think I'll go get some just to be safe!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween memories

Is everybody ready for Halloween? I really enjoyed this holiday the most when James was little. We would get dressed up(yes we) and hit the bricks for loot. One year James was Dick Tracy and I was Groucho Marx. Another year, everyone managed to get their stuff together and we created a haunted house at the grade school. It was up on the stage and we divided it into a maze that the kids could walk through with various scary scenes and things. In one dark part someone hung pieces of fine thread that felt like spidery stuff when you walked through. I got to be the Witch(shut up back there)and had the traditional black hat as well as some appropriate spider earrings and stuff. In one section there was a cabinet that had the drawers removed and when the door opened with a creak-one of my neighbors heads appeared with gross make-up. It was really fun. There was a guy with a chainsaw and what looked like a bucket of blood with a hand hanging out-accompanying screaming on tape and all. That was the best Halloween. Without little ones it's just not the same. I may take a walk up to the school on Wed. to record the Halloween Parade. If the weather's nice they parade outside for all to see.
The weather has certainly turned everything into fall in a big way. Last night it was 48 and a frost warning. Living so close to the water, the temps don't drop too much for a while. The water off the Sound and Bay keeps everything warm for a while.
I spent the later part of last week catching up with Food Pantry paperwork. Lately I have been letting a bunch of letters build up and then doing a marathon of letter writing all at once. It's now the really busy season, so I better keep on top of things or I will wind up with tons of thank you letters that need writing.
Next week I am taking a short trip with Roger. He has a business meeting in remote, far, northwestern NY State. We are going to stay in a pretty place- the rooms are on a waterfront that faces Canada. Just a 3 day trip but I'm looking forward to it. I need to get a coat though since my coat from the past couple of years is rather groady and not fit for meeting humans in. I suspect it may be a little chilly near the Canadian border in November. Most of the trip will be traveling since it will be a very long day up there and a very long trip back.
Well, that's the scoop from here for now. I've got a big chicken in the oven and some potatoes and sliced tomatoes will round out the menu. Easy peasy. Smells yummy in here.