Full and happy

Los Angeleno by birth, Northwesterner by choice, Second-hander by nature. Librarian, housebound chef, father, and lowly subject ruled over by the needs and whims of a very old house.
Partial to Mexican, Italian and Vietnamese cookery but will eat damn near anything. Collector of many strange things..the result is chaos and anarchy and a very pleasant place to live.
There is pleasure in accumulation, not just "collecting": music, books and film, in all their multi-formated glory. Outsider artists and those kinds of prints you would recognize if you took liberal studies classes in college. Cooking implements and gadgets for recipes still untried or those ventured. Glasses for most types of libations. Flowers in the garden, herbs in the pot.
It's a life of the senses and a good home life reflects that. Walking helps take in all the rest. Requires no special equipment, opens up the pores, brightens the taste buds, clears the decks for further adventures, puts on the miles, widens the eyes and helps fuel the imagination.

Live boldly, play graciously and love with all your heart knowing that true love comes only once or twice in this lifetime. Speaking of which..donde estas, Empress of my Heart?


"Lack imagination and miss the better story" Yann Martel

"Life is a great adventure and I want to say to you, accept it in such spirit. I want to see you face it ready to do the best that lies in you to win out. To go down without complaining and abiding by the result....the worst of all fears is the fear of living." Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.

"Not I - not anyone else, can travel that road for you
You must travel it for yourself" Walt Whitman

And above all, friends should possess the rare gift of sitting. They should be able, no, eager, to sit for hours-three, four, six-over a meal of soup and wine and cheese, as well as one of twenty fabulous courses.

Then, with good friends of such attributes, and good food on the board, and good wine in the pitcher, we may well ask,

When shall we live if not now?

-From Serve it Forth,
M.F.K. Fisher

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Dia de los Muertos

I know that Halloween is coming, if anything, from the candy displays and costume sales at the local supermarkets and discount emporiums. Freddies had a Halloween themed corner by the front door this last Sunday at 40 percent off filled with ticky tacky things to place in the home to help celebrate the season. The second hands this month were filled with all the same kinds of junk folks bought at Freddies last year and the year before that to help fill up their doorways and tables and such to help make them more "scary", to help put people in the mood to unload scads of candy and don rubber masks and mangle pumpkins. It's a jolly time of year and I love it so, not only for the sacred right to scare children witless but because I love the colors of the season, the scary movie rite of passage that I put my children through, and the peaceful melding of the pagan and the Catholic issues that seem to battle within me all year long.

Bringing the Dia de los Muertos celebration into my home is a relatively new thing for me. I know that we didn't give that celebration a nod when I was a boy. It was enough just to do all the "traditional" Anglo things that went along with our suburban lives. My mom shed her Mexican-ness long before I ever had any inkling that she was one, and so my connection to all those kinds of things only came to me sideways when I went to visit my grandparents. I can still picture an altar of sorts set up in my grandparents' bedrooms, with votives burning year round and a multitude of saints adorned by their various charms and flowers. But in my house it was enough, it seemed, to do tamales once a year at Christmastime and to embrace the foods of my ancestors. Yep, that's as far as it went. Celebrating the dead just wasn't done and it certainly wasn't hip.

But Dia de los Muertos is, that for certain. And by doing it I'm not trying to take the "hip" road, that's for certain. No, the reason why I break out the photos and get out my calaveras and things is because I want to do right by those that came before me. I like to set up that altar because, love them or not, somebody's got to give them their due.

Mind you, Halloween is still a big deal in my house. The Boy and I will certainly be doing the candy thing, don costumes, set up that nasty cobweb stuff. I have a plastic cauldron filled with carnival type toys and chocolate Kisses and such to hand out. We'll set up some sort of freaky deaky thing on the porch, not enough to scare kids to the core but enough to make the younger ones who make the climb quake a bit. That part of it should be there, it's the scaring season.

But inside the house, on a cabinet by the kitchen, I will set up my altar for the year. Old photos will be dragged out and set up. One of the old plaster saints from my grandfather's collection will be brought out. I'll be sure to cut the last flowers from the garden and set them up just so, and cook a meal with some favorite items to set out as well. I'm sure that I have beer or two in the fridge for Senior, as well as a pack of Marlboros, and I'll be sure to place some chocolate and some sunflower seeds out for my mom, too (maybe she can get back to smoking whereever she's at these days, who knows). Maybe I'll get in the mood and bake something that looks like those skulls I've seen photos of, the kind that they make down in Mexico, or maybe not, but at the very least I'll try my hand at some paper cutting. It is a celebration, you know.

It'll be simple, but with one thing apparent: those folks, my mom, my dad, all the elders that have passed before me, they will be thought of, talked about and celebrated. And believe me, The Boy will know all about them through this celebration. Yeah, it's through the remembering that the dead stay alive. And, baby, there's nothing scary in that at all.


No comments: