Wednesday, October 31, 2012

El Dia de los Muertos

In Mexico, a special celebration takes place on November 2, called El Dia de los Muertos, or The Day of the Dead.  I was introduced to this celebration while teaching in Los Angeles.

This day comes from an ancient Aztec ritual that honors the memories of the dead with food, candles, and special ceremonies.

It is a joyous time, when loved ones who have died are remembered with food, stories and altars made at home which include photographs of the deceased, food he or she liked, drinks, flowers (usually marigolds) and candles.  Stories, remembrances, and happy times are told and retold.  A visit to the cemetery, if possible, is included and the items from the altar are taken there.  The belief is that the spirit of the diseased returns once a year on November 2nd.

This is how one of my students explained it to me.  "Mrs. R., it's boring being dead, and once a year we go to the cemetery and make a little party for my grandfather with food he liked, cigarettes, his favorite beer and photographs of the new grandchildren, flowers, too."

So every year, on November 2nd, my students who wanted to share this celebration showed other students a sample of their altars.

Folk Art from Mexico celebrating the Day of the Dead is festive and ironic as skeletons are portrayed in little dioramas doing everyday things--getting married, dancing, family groups, but all are skeletons.  Then there is the special food, sugar skulls, pan muertos--this is a sweet bread where the dough is molded into rounds decorated with shaped dough bones across the top and much more.

My favorite El Dia folk art is this wonderful skeleton made of paper mache. which my sister bought for me when she was in Mexico, knowing how much I like folk art.  I call him Albert and around Halloween, which is now, I take out and display my Halloween decoration and the ones I have collected commemorating El Dia de los Muertos.  If you are ever in Santa Fe, there is a folk art museum there that has many, many examples.  And if you go to Mexico, see if you can find others to buy.  

Much more information on You Tube and Google.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Warning: Political essay

The Road Not Taken
Collage by author of post

"Two Roads diverged in a yellow wood, . . .
 And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the under growth;

Then took the other, just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I ---
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference."
                         Robert Frost

President Obama has been our president for four years and now it is for all of us to review the past four years and decide, based on his record if he should  be elected for another four.

Here is what we have:

*27 million unemployed
*deficit of more than $1 trillion per year, adding more than $4 trillion to our national debt, now $16 trillion over the last four years
*downsizing military to WW I levels
*foreign policy uncertain and weak which led to murderous attacks on our embassies and prevarication concerning these attacks
*disdain for our allies
*no clear plan for reducing our debt
*squeezing small businesses with more regulations and higher taxes

And more of course. . .

We have come to a fork in the road and there is no turning back.  We have two different choices.  The poem as it relates to this essay is ambiguous.  Is President Obama or Mitt Romney the road less traveled by?

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
And miles to go before I sleep."

Thank you Robert Frost for both these poems, even though I have a feeling that we would not have the same political views.

I have promises to keep for my children and grandchildren so I take this election, very, very seriously.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Politics in Other Countries

One of the many bloggers that are on this site, from the United Kingdom, answered my open question, see previous blog.  Why are some people not interested in politics, especially American politics?  Because they are not interested was her answer. I actually wanted to hear from other Americans about the elections,  but I would be very interested in learning more about other countries' politics.  Here in the US, we just get snippets of information.  I know that Canada elected a conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.   But how many parties do they have and do Canadian citizens take part in elections as far as working for their candidate. I know, I know, I could Google information, but it would be interesting to learn more about politics from people who live in other countries.  Our problem here is that the election cycle is too long and most of us are tired of all the ads and wish it were over. What about politics in India?  How does that work?  And other countries as well. And do politics in other countries cause problems between family members as they do here?

One of the beauties of these blogs from the A-Z Challenge, is how much I learn from other bloggers.  My only regret is that I am not writing a book, so it's hard for me to enter in the book discussions sometimes.  Although, I am a huge supporter of writers and their talents, as a "lover of words."

Just my thoughts today as I look out from my window at the beautiful Fall colors. Pikes Peak is showing the first mountain snow fall. This is a clear day where you can see forever.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fashion vs Politics

On my last blog, I posted a short story concerning Hobbes, my alter ego, and I working in the Romney  campaign, here in Castle Rock.  Not much of a  response, at least in the comments,  but as all of  you know who have blogs, there is a "stat" counter which tells the blogger how many views and comments.  The only thing that keeps me writing is the "views" counter, which shows me some people do read the blog, all over the world.  But fashion seems to win over politics:  H and M blog, 50 views; Romney blog, 9 views.

I am saddened that more of us don't discuss politics, underline "discuss." I have this fantasy of myself, younger of course, sitting in some cafe in lets say, Paris, wearing a beautifully cut suit, arguing politics, American and  French, in impeccable French.  What fun to have a real discussion, not just the hardened views on either side.

I do understand people's reluctance to be public about anything in this age of anything goes. So, thank you to all of you who just "view."  

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Hobbes and I Work on the Romney Campaign

Hobbes pausing between  calls to voters

Last Saturday, Hobbes and I worked the phone banks for the Romney campaign.  Hobbes is a stuffed lion puppet, my alter ego, who has his own website.  He wanted to write my blog today to describe his experience.

Hobbes:  Tasha, is very passionate and concerned about the election, so she decided  to volunteer last Saturday to call voters from the Romney headquarters in Castle Rock, Colorado. "I have to do something, Hobbes." She was a bit disappointed because she was not able to talk to many voters directly. Often she  reached an answering machine and then left a pre-recorded message. Tasha says that because of the caller ID feature, most people screen their calls.  But Tasha says volunteering made her appreciate those who do call her at home,  and from now on, she will answer those calls.  It just takes a few minutes, and it is a way of saying thank you to those who do volunteer to work for this election, for either party.  I was not allowed to do the calling, but I would have enjoyed answering the the phone with, "Hi, my name is Hobbes, the friendly lion and I am calling about the election with a few questions for you. . ."  click.

Tasha has never worked an election before, telling me she was rather cavalier about past elections.  (Yes, she did vote for Democrats in the past), but this one is different, she feels.  There is so much at stake.  It is so much easier being a lion, I have to admit.  There were many volunteers, all ages and one even gave me a chocolate chip cookie, my favorite.

After working for three hours, it was time to go home.  It was a chilly fall day as we stepped outside Romney headquarters, and I think Tasha did feel better -- she did something.