Dia de Muertos

“Hey, daisyfae – someone sent us a message asking if we could organize some cyclists to join up with a parade. They’re trying to put together a Dia de los Muertos celebration and asked if we could help.”

“Sure… Sounds like fun!”

That was in 2011 – i was a volunteer with a cycling group. Putting on make up, decorating bicycles and riding through town seemed a grand idea!  The first year they hadn’t secured an actual parade PERMIT, so the bikes and a couple of cars went slowly down the street while a gaggle of people followed along on the sidewalks.

There was a gathering at a gallery showcasing ofrendas – altars commemorating the dead. Flowers, candles, and music. It was absolutely beautiful to see the altars, carefully crafted with the remembrances of the dead.

In August of 2012, i was shattered by the suicide of a close friend – rattled to my core and immersed in the complex grief that comes from an unexplained death. i was still a mess when the organizer of the Dia de Muertos event asked me to help. i joined the ragtag band of hippies and artists, and sat in a few meetings. They were expanding the effort to include workshops on crafting ofrendas.

Still grieving, i decided it was worth a couple of hours. At that workshop, i dug in… i learned how to make a skeleton from bread dough ‘clay’. i spent hours over the next few weeks thinking of all of the things he had loved, the things that brought him joy.

Cooking, his old gray cat, beer, sushi… i built a beer glass, and figured out how to make acrylic beer. i am not a crafty person, but i build shit. And that year? i built an altar to remember my dead friend. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was cathartic.

stella

The following year, when contacted by the organizer i offered her my services. i basically laid down at her feet and asked her to put me to work. That was the year i strapped a giant skeleton to my body while driving a car through the entertainment district in town.

i’ve continued as a parade marshal, farting around with a variety of creatures and whatnot to launch the parade with a bang. This year, it was cold. The parade was a touch smaller, but no less enthusiastic than in the previous years.  i modified the fanciful alebrije we built last year, gave her wings, and let her fly…

parade 2017

The ofrendas draw me in – whether small remembrances, just a few photos and candles, or intricate creations, they leave me wanting to know more about the person being remembered…

altar 2017

i’m not religious. Can’t say that i’m even spiritual. But this is a beautiful, healthy and glorious way to work through death. We paint our faces in the style of the Calavera Catrina.  We dance with death – and celebrate life…

skelfie

 

 

Vignettes

Steam rolled my way through the month of October.  As the dust settles, i am somewhat surprised to find myself in mid-November.  Beyond the obvious plot twist launching my son on a new path, there have been a metric ton of other things happening… A brief update seems in order until i can catch my breath and organize my thoughts.  This isn’t a full list – far from it.  Just pixels and snippets and nuggets and slices… a reminder that i remain a very lucky woman.

– Since returning from the trip to Florida to visit my sister, a ‘sprained’ finger has failed to heal quickly.  Aggravating as hell, the sprain wouldn’t quit hurting, stop swelling and get better.  That’s because it isn’t a sprain, it’s broken.  Had to put on a splint, which gets in the way of… well… everything.  It also draws a bit of attention, and has started a few conversations with strangers.  “What happened?”  “Well, the short version is ‘i broke it’.  The long version is a tale that must be told over a pint or two…”  A tale that ends with me proving my machismo and winning a bet…

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– After two weeks, i got a call from The Boy Sunday night.  Ninety entire seconds of talk time, with the sound of a barking drill instructor in the background.  Now that he is settled in ‘downrange’, he can get letters.  Wrote up two pages last night.  Not typed.  Hand written.  This is not trivial, given the broken finger on my right hand.  It felt weird.  It felt good.  When was the last time i wrote a letter?  Can’t remember.  Once i started writing – it came back to me.  Downright enjoyable…

– Had some strange weather recently.  Powerful thunderstorms, with almost a hundred tornadoes, rumbled across the midwest on Sunday.  Bad things happened across the region.  Looking for storm damage the next morning, i was greeted with this catastrophe on my front porch!  The horror!  The carnage!  One friend summed it up nicely – “If your Christmas Tree falls over and smashes your Pink Flamingo…You might be a redneck.”

redneck

– Studley and i continue our horseback riding lessons – with an added element of adventure.  Our instructor has introduced a new game to our weekly lessons – Hoofball.  The object is to work in teams of two, getting the horses to move a large ball toward a goal line.  Horses are not particularly smart animals, so they have to be slowly socialized to the ball.  Over the course of the past few weeks, we’ve been part of that training process.  Last night?  We played our first hoofball match!  Very fun, and very scary – turns out, it takes a long time for a horse to get used to having a giant ball rolling around the arena!  They’re getting better, though.  And we’re getting better at staying on spooked horses!

hoofball

image found here

– A year ago, i got involved with an ad hoc group of nutjobs artists and musicians to bring the first “Dia de los Muertos” event to our lovely city.  This year?  Bigger and better.  They needed a parade vehicle – something that could tow a flatbed trailer carrying a dozen musicians.  My Jeep was the perfect solution.  Rather than just tow the parade float, i got it in my head that i was going to have one of the giant skeleton puppets that were created last year “drive”…

parade

There were some unexpected challenges, but we pulled it off!  Not content to have the skelly just ride along, i also decided that he needed to wave to the crowd.  In the detailed photo below, you can see that Studley had duct taped the left arm of the puppet to my arm… which could explain why i’ve had a rather severe bout with tendonitis in my left shoulder and elbow for the past few weeks… We’re already planning for next year – i will have a fully animated skeleton, shooting fire from his nostrils!

skelly

– Another entry in the “What the fuck was i thinking?” binder…  Last March, i started a project to modify an upright piano into… something else.  Taking most of the summer off for travel, i’ve recently re-tackled the project.  The past two weekends have found me up to my arse in sawdust and power tools… but it’s coming along nicely.  This will get a full post when it’s done – which should be by Christmas.  Unless i perform an accidental amputation…

sawzall motherfucker

– What’s up in The Trailer Park?  Lots.  Good news and bad news, and “are you fucking kidding me?” news.  There may be an end in sight – and Mom may get to move back into her own home after four years of endless promises and threats.  A little afraid to say anything because i don’t want to jinx it….