Backing Up

Sugar skull from Day of the Dead altar

Stomps the snow off my feet and walks back through the door.

Phew!  It’s been awhile.  It isn’t that nothing’s happened, it’s more like a life’s worth of stuff has.  Trying to unpack it all this second though makes me tired to think about, even though it’s all pretty awesome.  I figure most of the important things will pop into posts as needed.

So what’s with the skull?  Well, I’d planned to start posting again back in October, and my visit with Carlos to the Indianapolis Art Center’s Day of the Dead exhibition was going to be the jumping off point.  Oh yeah, Carlos!  He’s officially our son now!  Getting through the adoption process was a big chunk of what was going on all this time.  Anyway, he and I always take a trip on his Fall Break to see the DOTD exhibition.  It’s always so touching, and beautiful, and at times a bit bizarre.

We had a special reason to go this year since C and I decided to make an altar at church in honor of our friend, Parker who had died earlier in the year. So we visited the exhibition and paid a visit to Parker’s widow, Margaret to learn more about his life and borrow some of his things.  I wish I had a photo of the final piece we made.  We were satisfied with it.  Margaret said it meant a lot to her and her family, which made us very happy.

I do have some photos of the other altars at the Art Center.

I think I like Day of the Dead so much because I love the idea of recalling our loved ones.   That it happens in the fall when the air is cooling and the earth is putting itself beautifully to bed makes perfect sense.  I also like that these altars are sort of visual poetry, full of distilled thoughts, rich emotion, and striking imagery.  And it seems like a great act of hospitality for the maker to invite me into these little personal memorials.

This altar was made by a woman in honor of her mother and father.  It was full of all of these these tender love letters they wrote to one another over the years, and I swear you could feel their affection alive and well.  This was one lucky daughter.

An altar from a daughter in honor of the love between her father and mother. Their old love letters frame the altar.

Altar for Jimmie Dean

The one above is in honor of Jimmie Dean, the sausage king who died earlier this year.  I love the pig and fork.   That’s another thing I like about DOTD altars.  They typically have some humor thrown in there to keep you from getting too caught up in melancholy.   The pairing of humor and death is a good way to get over the fear of  it.  Maybe that’s what the sugar skulls are about, too.

It took me years not to link DOTD to Halloween.  They are not actually related except for the spots they share on the calendar.  Don’t get me wrong. I like Halloween, too.  Candy!!  Kids (and dogs) in costumes?  Please, what’s not to love?  But I like the memorial quality that DOTD brings to the season and since Carlos’s roots are in Mexico, I want to try building that tradition into our home a bit more.

Anyone want to help us make sugar skulls next year?


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