Love can not stop the passage of time. Love can not protect and prevent the inevitable. Miss P was my constant companion and my partner in crime. We explored the city together and had many adventures together. She had been living with the injuries of her exuberant life for some time, but she was always game to do things, to squeak another squeaky toy, to jump into another mud puddle, to enjoy the sights and smells of our daily walks.
I will miss her sweet face and tail-wagging enthusiasm for life.
There is something about this time of year, at least in the northern hemisphere. Summer seemed like it would last forever, but as the days get shorter, my thoughts turn to mortality and the ephemeral nature of life. Halloween has gained ascendancy as a sort of carnival before the dark days of winter. The Day of the Dead follows closely on the heels of Halloween. In Mexico, the Day of the Dead has long been a celebration of those who came before us. And now this holiday has been creeping northward.
The images for Day of the Dead are linked to the artists Frida Kahlo (note the bird eyebrows) and Jose Posada.
It’s at least nominally Christian, with an altar set up.
Images and cliches of Mexico.
Marigolds are the flower of choice.
This holiday is also intended as a reflection on the vanity of the living.
In the great science fiction show Babylon Five there was an outstanding episode called Day of the Dead. In this show, everyone in a certain section had an evening visit by a dead person. Sometimes it was someone they loved, sometimes it was an enemy, or someone they really didn’t want to see. It was their opportunity to say something, to see and touch that person.
At that time I saw this episode, I had not lost anyone really close to me, so when I thought about who I would like to see, it was my first dog. I would still like to see this dog (and the one who came after him). But perhaps it would be more fitting to use this holiday for a ceremony to honor the memory of those who have left us. Without masks and costumes.
It is three years since the terrible day, the terrible day, when I lost my husband and I was lost. Once upon a time, I was a professional quilter. People would bring me the bits and I would quilt them together on a giant industrial machine. But, I found myself unable to work. A friend suggested that I come to a knitting circle with her, so I went. In this time I have knitted two sweaters,
hats and neck warmers,
an image of my favorite monster, Cthulu,
and innumerable scarves.
Some I wear, some I have given away, but most of these sit in the box. People sometimes ask ‘What am I going to do with them? Do I want to donate them to a charity?’ The answer is always “No”. They just exist in the box, that is their purpose.
This is the latest thing I finished. A friend recently died quite unexpectedly. She was working on this baby afghan for another friend’s first grandbaby. This was mostly done, and it was one of her last wishes that this project be finished, so I completed this for her.
There is something soothing in the mechanical action of forming stitch after stitch. The project takes shape, comes together and is complete, a tiny bit of order in the chaos of life.
This weekend we said goodbye to the woman, hoarder, whose house we cleared. It was amazing to see it cleared, we had all worked so hard to make this happen.
She lived high above the city, safe in her aerie.
She had a tree house, just in case she wanted to be higher.
This was the last forgotten bit, somehow overlooked in the general cleanup.
Her mother had come here to finalize everything, so we had a memorial to celebrate her short life. Her beloved dog was there too, he seemed happy to be back in his house. Our group was at this to express our sympathy. Although I never met her in life, I know many things about her from going through her belongings. It was melancholy, but still life affirming, her mother mentioned all of the charities that benefited and S gave the dog charity a check for $1000 dollars. Her mother had printed up beautiful little wallet-sized cards, on one side is her daughter and the other was this.
There are situations in one’s life that causes time to stand still.
l’m not sure if being jilted at the altar is a good reason, it may have been a narrow escape, but I don’t know.
The Waldo Canyon fire was two summers ago. I had taken down all the pictures so the painter (decorator) could paint. Me and the painter were standing in the living room watching together when the fire crested over the mountain, 3 miles due west. It was hot and the sunlight through the massive black clouds of smoke turned everything a weird orangish color, like a prelude of hell. For a while, it was uncertain how far the fire would come. But the painter kept on painting, the fire got under control after burning down 236 houses, then later in the summer came my bereavement. I had hung up some of the artwork, but not all of it when time stopped. These poor pictures have sat, leaning against the wall for the past two years.
So today I decided that they had been there long enough, so finally they are in position up on the wall.
Perhaps small steps can lead to bigger ones.
I just had time for a quick pop in at the National Gallery. Not to see the currently flogged exhibit of giant pictures of celebrities, just to breeze through the other portraits. First up, I was face to face with Richard III. I can’t say I was very familiar with him before they dug him up. History is written by the victors and he lost. But he was the subject of one of my very first blog posts, written on my late husband’s site. I admired that he was a king who led his troops into battle himself, not waiting on the sidelines and telling others to go out there and get the job done. Further investigation showed that he was actually a rather good king rather than a villain: removing arbitrary taxes started by Edward IV, supporting personal, property and mercantile rights, allowing bail for the accused rather than immediate confiscation of property. I did a selfie with him, now we are intertwined.
The next gallery was even more exciting. Anchored by portraits of Elizabeth I, the young and the old, there are lots of bog standard portraits of people looking rich and snotty. But in among them is the most amazing portrait, done in the style of a graphic novel. With Death on one side, and fame on the other it shows the story of a man’s life. The sitter would have no doubt preferred a more conventional portrayal, but he was dead and this painting was ordered by his widow. Grief takes you to unexpected and unknown places, and she wanted a different kind of picture of her husband. It’s a remembrance of a life lived, proof that she did the right thing in giving him a good send-off and it’s her tribute to their love.