Friday, October 26, 2007

All Hallows Eve...Dia de Los Muertos...

"For the inhabitant of New York, Paris, or London, death is a word that is never said because it burns the lips. The Mexican, on the other hand, frequently makes fun of it, caresses it, sleeps with it, celebrates it, it is one of his favorite toys and his most permanent love. True, in his attitude there is perhaps as much fear as in that of the others; at least it is not hidden and he doesn’t hide it, he contemplates it face to face with patience, disdain, or irony."

Octavio Paz

Whatever the name, it is coming...the city has signs of it all over and you can feel it in the air. The origins of this time of year are complicated but very interesting. I imagine that my Mexican indigenous ancestors celebrated in the ways of old before the Spaniards came and tried to convert the pagans into Christians. For the most part, they did their job but many Mexicans in many parts of Mexico still hold on the the old ways. I still have relatives in Guadalajara that may create an alter with sugar skulls, bread, salt and wine for the dead that visit on the night of October 31st.

In our home we have created stripped down versions of the elaborate alters that they create in Mexico but we always include the basics; photos of the dead, food and libations for those that visit to taste and enjoy. I think it is good for the children to see that death is not something to fear but the ancestors, instead of fearing death, embraced it. They believed that life was a dream and that only in dying could you truly be awake.

The Aztecs, celebrated a month long summer festival that was overseen by the goddess Mictecacihuatl, the Lady of the Dead. Pope Gregory IV moved the celebration for all the martyrs (later all saints) from May 13 to November 1 in 835. The night before became known as All Hallow’s Even or “holy evening.” Eventually the name was shortened to the current Halloween. On November 2, the Catholic Church celebrates All Souls Day.

From the other side of the family...

The Celts called it Samhain, which means “summer’s end”, dividing the year into two parts from Beltane to Samhain and from Samhain to Beltane. Samhain is not only the end of a season but also the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. Celtic New Year's begins with the onset of the dark phase of the year.

Celts also believed that on this eve the souls of the dead, which may have included ghosts, goblins, and witches, returned to the earth. In order to scare away these evil spirits, people would wear masks and light bonfires.

Today, we incorporate the old and the new in true American style, this may include; attending scary plays, dressing up in costumes and going out for tricks-n-treats.
The little man will have another performance tonight of Bram Stoker's Dracula ...under a FULL MOON! Won't THAT be spooky!
Stay tuned for tomorrow's blog with pictures of the full moon.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Dead Un-Dead...or


The little man is in another play. The last one he did was "A Christmas Carol" where he played Tiny Tim. Ghosts and all, it wasn't half as scary as Bram Stokers Dracula. He doesn't have any lines for this role. He plays a child who is about to be the victim of the vampire, Lucy.

Lucy looks nice in this picture but on stage she is a walking dead blood thirsty vampire who steals children in the night and brings them to her crypt to suck their blood!

The production is at Eagan High School and will run the last three performances this weekend, tonight, Friday and Saturday at 7:30. This cast of high school students do an amazing performance of this play and I highly recommend seeing it if you enjoy theatre at all. I have seen it just a few times now and am pleasantly surprised at the level of professionalism these young adults exude. Also, Eagan High School backs their theatre department on a whole and it is well noted. They use pyrotechnics AND a real rat! Costumes at times have been loaned to them from the Guthrie. They go way out to have a quality show.

The cast of Dracula listening intently to the directors feedback.

We are so proud of the little man AND thankful to Eagan High School for the opportunity to do what he loves...perform!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fall in St. Paul

We have had an unusually wet fall here in St. Paul, MN. Monday and Tuesday this week have been the first succession of sunny days in weeks! Outdoor rainy shots are not my forte...but I tried. The fall sunny shots turned out much better. Here are some shots that I have taken over the last few weeks.
This was yesterday. It became unusually windy around 4 pm. The little man and I were driving over the High Bridge at 5 pm, the clouds had these eye catching long, flat bottoms and the sun was peeking out and reflecting on the buildings downtown. We had to stop the car, run over the bridge and get this shot. As we did this, I realized that the little man had never walked on the bridge before. We drive back and forth over it daily but in his eight years of life he had never set foot on the that was something we remedied yesterday afternoon.
The wind was amazingly strong. The little man was concerned he might blow away and clung to me for dear life. If possible, THAT would have been the picture to being pushed and pulled by the wind while I tried to snap this shot. Of course, by the time I got to the spot I needed to, what I had seen 3 minutes ago was gone but it is still not a bad shot of the city.

This is a Maple on the campus of the College of Saint Catherine. This fly is enjoying his last days in the sunshine.

This was taken during one of the many consecutive days of rainfall on my walk to my car.

My drive to work in the morning. I saw the train coming and did try to jump out of my car to get the shot of the engine in the rain coming down the track but was too late. Oh well...

I think this is a Maple tree. It sits on the end of E. Page St. and I go by it daily. It truly brings a feeling of wonder and awe to the sometimes hard urban existence.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

When your working and you know it, do your blog!!

The above title you sing to the tune, "When you're happy and you know it".
I feel very deprived. It has been over a week since my last blog. I have many pictures on my camera that I have not been able to load onto my computer...I have many stories that I have not been able to tell.

As the masses discuss the nitty gritty details of our special education system, I have a moment to express myself creatively. This is a poem I wrote a year ago and somehow seems appropriate now.

The Mallards

A cacophony
of echoing laughter
day after day a joke
silent to
human ears
quacking impostors
on the pond

Monday, October 1, 2007


One thing I hate...and I try not to use this word lightly or at all, is VANDALISM. It is a senseless crime done for usually pure enjoyment or idiocy. Our neighborhood has seen its share of vandalism and I'm just sick and tired of it.
In 1996 I started our neighborhood block club. We are now called the M.O.P'sters (Morton, Oakdale, Page St.). We usually meet once a month and as a group have put an end to some of the destruction and annoyances in our area. "It takes a village" or "there is strength in numbers" are some of the sayings that come to mind and this has helped me in the past deal with the helplessness I sometimes feel when crimes like this are committed.
Unfortunately, vandalism is hard to do anything about. Having a constant watch or cameras in and around our streets and alleys is not a practical thing we can do. So, the graffiti and the window breaking is something that thoroughly enrages me and makes me feel like moving to some distant deserted island.
Now, this is the beer bottle that was thrown through our van window. What kind of beer is this? Stupid beer. Stupid beer for stupid people who drive around and throw beer bottles out of car windows and into people's vehicles. Nothing in our van was taken. They could of had a nice CD collection, folding chairs, some window washing fluid or a first aid kit but NOOOOOO, they just wanted to drink stupid beer and break windows...senseless.
My intelligent husband commented. "Do you think this would ever be a can of Guinness or a Summit EPA?...NO!" Icehouse is the beer of choice for vandals!