Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Los Dias de Los Meurtos Nov1 -Nov2 Pics

Los Dias de Los Meurtos Nov1 -Nov2

Los Dias de Los Muertos (1-2 Nov) is a time for remembering friends, family and ancestors. At first glance, Day of the Dead decorations, colored paper garlands, little skeletons performing daily tasks and sugar skulls inscribed with names remind visitors of Halloween.

This holiday is a perfect example of the complex heritage of the Mexican people. The beliefs of today's Mexican are based on the complicated blended cultures of his ancestors, the Aztec and Maya and Spanish invaders, layered with Catholicism.

The Aztec, Mayan and other indigenous traditions have enriched the Mexican's attitude about death. They believe that souls continue to exist after death, resting placidly in Mictlan, the land of the dead, not for judgment or resurrection; but for the day each year when they could return home to visit their loved ones.

People die three deaths. The first death is when our bodies cease to function; when our hearts no longer beat of their own accord, when our gaze no longer has depth or weight, when the space we occupy slowly loses its meaning. The second death comes when the body is lowered into the ground, returned to mother earth, out of sight.
The third death, the most definitive death, is when there is no one left alive to remember us.

Many families honor their ancestors and dead with home altars, laden with harvest fruits, traditional bread with crossed bones on dough on top, all to greet the spirits as they return to the home for 24 hours each year.

The act of preparing an altar by placing photographs, flowers, candles, favorite foods and drink of the loved one provides a special time to remember, and to transform grief into acceptance. The living invite the spirits of the family to return home for a few hours of laughter, tears and memories.

Some families prepare the altar of offerings at the family grave site, lighting a candle for each dead one, remembering the names, and placing flowers or coronas (wreaths) at the cemetery. Many stay to visit, eat, drink and pray while they keep a vigil during the night. All night, throughout the cemetery there is a grand family reunion of huge extended families, alive and dead, as one by one, through stories, memories and dreams, the dead return. On this night, those who wait realize the importance of living to be well remembered, working to be well respected and loving to be well missed.

The hand crafted skeletons, Calaveras are funny and friendly rather than frightening or spooky. They represent the beloved dead ones, their occupations and hobbies. As they are placed on the altar, the delightful skeleton figures bring back fond memories and cause the grieving ones to smile. The figures with the smells of favorite foods, help the spirits find the right house.

While most altars are laden with the favorite foods, sweets, drinks, and harvest fruits of each family spirit, even the most basic altar includes these basic needs:
• WATER to quench the thirst and for purification
• SALT to season the food and for purification
• BREAD to represent the food needed for survival

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Halloween Tale: Soul Cakes


By Marcail (Hallowe’en 2006)

The flickering candles bring your face in and out of focus on the walls about the room. Your anger is etched in the hard lines of your mouth and in the twitching of your left eye. When I think you’re banished, I catch of glimpse of you crouching in the corner. My rosary slides faster through my fingers in pace with my keening prayer.The others seemed not to notice. Their evil laughs punctuate the stories of past visitations by the ancestors as told by the older folks. It’s All Hallow’s Eve. We have gathered to guide the souls back to visit their earthly home. A bottle of wine is uncorked on the table to refresh them. Little "soul cakes," Barmbrack, wait to be discovered by the living and the dead. We wait as midnight approaches to eat and learn our fate for the year.

I fear my secret will be revealed. That they will attack like a pack of wolves. I have prayed nightly since your dispatch that you’ll not find the way back. Others, it seems, have the ear of God. I sense your presence getting stronger as the time approaches. Your Da fiddles and taps his foot and I am transported to our wedding night. The night they gave me to you. I hear the fiddle and the dancing getting louder and more frenetic as you pound into my folds and bite and tear at my flesh. I see my spirit depart my body. I’m never the same, but I took back the soul you stole from me that night.

I’d do the deed again. I pray harder that you never return to defile me with your loathsome spirit. Your Ma's soul cakes are said to be the most powerful. They’ve brought you back, so there must be some truth in the rumour. To me, her baking fails to nourish. Her offerings are as meager and as mean-spirited as her family. I’m trapped in her bosom -- smothering. I tried to return to the orphanage where she, who is the miserly cook, found me. It was not my fate. The Mother Superior claimed I was bound to my new family. The seed was planted.

The clock strikes the hour. In unison, we break bread and eat. I see the look of surprise on her face when I pull the gold ring from my soul cake with my teeth. Choking and gasping, all assembled fall on blue faces until a peaceful silence descends. Smiling, I pick up my candle and walk to your corner dispelling the shadows. You are gone. I sit and gaze in the mirror. My fate -- the man assigned to be my second husband looks back. I do not know him, but he has a gentle smile and kind eyes. If it doesn’t work out, I know what I have to do. A minor change of ingredients is all that’s required.


Daylight Saving Time vs Dali Time


The clocks were turned back this morning, for the last time (in my part of the world), the last Sunday in October. Next year, the clocks go back the first Sunday in November to further save energy and go forward the second Sunday in March rather than the first Sunday in April.

The main purpose of Daylight Saving Time (called "Summer Time" in many places in the world) is to make better use of daylight. We change our clocks during the summer months to move an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening. Countries have different change dates.

If you live near the equator, day and night are nearly the same length (12 hours). But elsewhere on Earth, there is much more daylight in the summer than in the winter. The closer you live to the North or South Pole, the longer the period of daylight in the Summer. Thus, Daylight Saving Time (Summer Time) is usually not helpful in the tropics, and countries near the equator generally do not change their clocks.

My mind turned to works of art that featured time as a theme. Naturally, this piece by Dali entered first. Of course, time is a human construct and therefore subject to interpretation. Just ask my husband about DOUG TIME

Salvador Dali (1904-1989) was a Catalan-Spanish artist best known for his surrealistic works where he created images from dreamscapes. He was deeply influenced by the theories of Freud about the unconscious especially as related to the erotic.

He is perhaps best known for The Persistence of Memory (1931)

One sees the image of the soft melting pocket watch. Dali was moved to include the famous melting- clock imagery after a vision he had following a snack of Camenbert cheese. The painting shows four soft watches, one of which has a fly showing that time flies and another is being devoured by ants that shows decay. This is widely seen as a commentary that time is less rigid than people usually assume.

In the center of the picture, under one of the watches, is a distorted human face in profile. This face, widely understood to be a self-portrait, also appears in Dalí's earlier work "The Great Masturbator." (taken from Wikipedia)

Dalí returned to the time theme of other paintings.

Friday, October 27, 2006

WORD DAY: Mesmerize




–verb (used with object), -ized, -iz‧ing.

[Origin: 1820–30; MESMER(ISM) + -IZE]

—Related forms

mes‧mer‧i‧za‧tion, noun
mes‧mer‧iz‧er, noun

Synonyms: allure, beguile, bewitch, charm, dazzle, delight, draw, enamour, enchant, enrapture, enslave, ensnare, entertain, enthrall, entrance, fascinate, gratify, grip, hold, hook, hypnotize, infatuate, intrigue, lure, magnetize, mesmerize, please, rope in*, seduce, spellbind, take, vamp, wile, win

Antonyms: disillusion, offend, repel, repulse, turn off

The word derives from the 18-century practise by the Viennese physician called Franz Anton Mesmer who postulated the theory of animal magnetism.

hold on a minute

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Short Story for Charity- Week Nine

My friend Dazrah hosts a weekly Short Story Competition for Charity. This is my entry for this week.


(Fiction for Charity by Marcail as sponsored by Dazrah, October 2006)

“Heaven is in my mind. I put it together; construct it like the hells in which I’ve lived out of wishes, prayers, ideas, out of voice, motion, tears…” shed silently and then forever banished. Where the mind flows, so I go. I choose the Light.

It required a paradigm shift. Failure no longer an option.

Now, I summon my angel minions to fight the invader. They scour my body in search of errant cells—sleeper cells—turncoat cells. With lightning speed and deft aim, they hit their target. I see my enemy vaporize.

Sometimes collateral damage ensues and I temporarily succumb to exhaustion and my own body, confused, betrays me and fights the valiant efforts of my angels. This is when my secret heaven is most needed. I retreat and regroup. I lie down in its green pastures after walking defiantly through the Valley of the Shadow.

Here I sing, dance and laugh. I thumb my nose at Death. I party with my loved ones and my friends. We are positivism embodied. Sunbeams and moonbeams of the Great Source.
The Great I Am. I’m through the Looking Glass in the land of endless possibilities and contradictions.

The Stooges visit with trade secrets of irony, sarcasm and satire. The Marx Brothers tell amusing anecdotes while Harpo plucks at my heart strings. Lucy ‘splains my situation to Desi and though the story sounds wacky coming from her lips, it makes sense here and love wins in the end. Jerry, Elaine, Kramer and George break all the rules to steal a bowl of healing broth from The Soup Nazi’s kitchen. The story of the quest for the bowl levitates me. I giggle and float on clouds of mirth like Mary’s poppins. Just a spoonful of sugar… la la la la la.

Mozart plays so I may waltz with my man. Tchaikovsky tickles the ivories as the Swan Queen pirouettes. Louis Armstrong trumpets as the Saints march in. All the while, Irish dancers stomp on the pesky straggling invader cells as they try to creep in like spiders seeking my life’s juice. We play, sing and dance to crescendo in praise of life’s sanctity and beauty.

All my champions-- like chessmen-- move, countermove, check and checkmate. I am winning. We are legion.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Septet Poem


The challenge this week, courtesy bartzturkeymom, was to write a septet about an inanimate object giving it human qualities. The Septet is a poem, containing seven lines. The French word Sept can be found in it, which means seven. The Septet doesn’t have to rhyme and can be about any subject. This is how the Septet is built up:

Line 1: 3 syllables
Line 2: 5 syllables
Line 3: 7 syllables
Line 4: 9 syllables
Line 5: 7 syllables
Line 6: 5 syllables
Line 7: 3 syllables

by Marcail

My handbag

mouth shut or open

speaks volumes, whispers myself,

compartmentalizes my stuff

multitasks without effort

and never tries to

fight my shoes.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Brothers and Sisters


“Brothers & Sisters" was the first single ever released in English by alternative music band, Coldplay. A newer version of "Brothers & Sisters" appears on the “Trouble” single.


My elder brother visited this weekend with his wife. I have a younger brother as well as two younger sisters. In honor of my brother’s visit, I devote this blog to the topic of BROTHERS.

A brother is a male sibling. A sibling is a male or female who shares at least one parent with the person being referenced. This is usually taken to mean that the two people are genetically very close, though it is not always necessarily the case, ie. adoption.

In most societies throughout the world, siblings will usually grow up in the same household. This closeness is marked with the development of strong emotional associations between them. However, closeness may not always develop in sibling relationships, particularly between those with an age difference of five years or more.

In Islam, those who are breastfed by a woman other than their biological mother become siblings to the biological children of that woman provided that they are less than 2 years old and have been breastfed five times or more by that woman. According to the shariah these siblings are not allowed to marry each other.

We took my brother and his wife around our town on a wine tasting tour. There are over seventy wineries in our area.

We went to view Niagara Falls. It was rainy day, so we viewed them from the bar at The Keg restaurant in the Embassy Suites Hotel.


We also went to the Butterfly Conservatory.


A butterfly conservatory is specifically intended for the breeding and display of butterflies. They fly freely around and may land on you if you ressemble a flower. Many species of butterflies are found inside the tropical greenhouse that also houses butterfly eggs, caterpillars, chrysalides, and specific plants that are favored by each species. It's exciting to watch the butterflies emerge from their pupae.

If you go to a butterfly conservatory, wear a light floral perfume, and wear bright-colored or bright-white clothing, to encourage them to land upon you, but never touch a butterfly. Butterflies are attracted to a bright Hawaiian print shirt for the same reason they are attracted to flowers, but your touch will cause damage to their sensitive wings because of the oils in our skin and their easily-damage scales.

Adult butterflies live only one to two weeks, on average, during which time they must produce a new generation. Some species like the familiar Monarch butterfly, however, can live as long as six months in the wild.

We had a pleasant evening at home dining and catching up. We braved the cold autumn temperatures and took a midnight swim in the pool. Thank God for pool heaters. Visit your family while you still have the opportunity.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Promises: a Short Story

It's been a while since I've written a short story. Please comment freely.


By Marcail

Another business trip. They seem endless and have taken their toll on our marriage. Lost time and lost money. Sometimes I say he’s Don Quixote, tilting at windmills. He’s a dreamer. I remind myself often that what I love most about him, is what also drives me crazy.


I’m teary as he unloads his luggage, turns and takes my hands. Instead of another promise, he takes my face in his hands and brushes my tears away with his thumbs as he hushs me with a lingering kiss. Still dazed by the kiss, he easily slaps on handcuffs and turns me to slip on a blindfold.

pink cuffs

Arm around my waist, I’m escorted what is probably a short distance, but seems interminable as I inch along, testing the ground beneath my high heels. I’m speechless. Struck dumb is what they call it. It’s true, I think; you can be struck dumb.

I feel him fumbling with the cuffs and just as suddenly, my hands are freed. “Step up,” he directs, “two steps.” He tone is firm. Officious. He brooks no argument and places my hands on a cold metal, narrow opening. Sniffing , I detect a chemical odor. Airplane fuel?


A second, unfamiliar male voice says, “Here’s your seat. Turn slightly and sit, please.” He places my hands on leather and I make out the shape and dimensions. Gentle hands, I figure my man’s, guide my ass into place.

“I’m going to attach your seat belt. Just sit still, sweetheart.”

It clicks in place and a door slaps shut. I jump. In seconds, there is the sound of a door opening on my right side and the ‘whoosh’ of air escaping leather. His cologne, Givenchy Gentihomme, follows him as he closes the door and snaps in.

“All set, Captain.”

h pilot

He takes my hand and squeezes it like an excited child. Warm lips touch my cheek.

“You’re going to love this, babe, but for now I have to keep you blindfolded. I’m going put a headset on. Here goes.”

He pushes my hair behind my ears and eases on cushioned earpieces. “There’s a microphone. So we can talk. Can you hear me?”

I find my voice. “Yes, I hear you. Are you crazy? Where are we going? What about work and the kids?” My mind races.

“Don’t worry about a thing. Trust me. I promised you things would get better and this is just the first step in a lot of better,” his canned, tinny voice reassured.

Helicopter rotors whine and thwack in preparation for lift-off. A helicopter for fuck sake. We can’t afford this shit. Can we? I feel the earth give way and a slight forward thrust. I clutch his warm hand and he squeezes back a few times. I feel safe and my apprehension shifts to anticipation.

“In about 15 minutes, I’ll remove the blinders. Is that all right? Can you handle it?” He asks.

“So far, so good. I’ll let you know if I start to panic.” I smile. He squeezes my hand again.

The pilot gives coordinates to ground control and talks ‘pilot talk’ from time to time. I sit quietly and let my other senses go in to overdrive. I try to control a rising nausea as time ticks by slowly. Fifteen minutes, my ass. I’m about to say “enough” when Doug speaks.

“Okay, Janie. It’s time.” His happiness is palpable.


Unmasked, I blink and focus on his grinning face. He hands me a chilled flute of champagne and my labia quicken to his just-you-wait-for-it eyes. I'm thrumming. I look out the bubble window surrounding and below us. The visual feast makes my eyes water and my breath quicken. Lake country looms ahead in autumn splendor. The earth’s on fire and so am I. My body is electric. I think I might wet myself. “Wet myself more,” I correct myself. I haven’t been this turned on for a long time. I push the mike away and crush his mouth against mine. The kiss softens as it deepens. I want to take him then and there, but realize that it’s damn near impossible. He knows what’s in store for him though. I see his pupils dilate and his face soften with love as he goes to that secret place in his mind.


We fly in companionable silence and awe for another half hour and then I see it. I recognize this place. We set down on a postage-size level spot next to the cottage. I see the real estate sign with its sold banner striking out the opposition. Lost to bank 7 years ago. This sacred place harbors all our firsts and whispers tales of love and loss. He’s kept his promise. It’s ours again.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Back from Virginia


Here’s my Scarecrow display for my front yard in Niagara. I'm back from setting up my home away fro home in Virginia. Here's a photo of the house.


Like many, I love the Scarecrow from The Wizard Of Oz. Here's the lyrics to his song.

If I Only Had a Brain
(from The Wizard of OZ)
I could while away the hours
Conferrin' with the flowers
Consultin' with the rain
And my head, I'd be scratchin'
While my thoughts were busy hatchin'
If I only had a brain.
I'd unravel ev'ry riddle
For any individ'le
In trouble or in pain
With the thoughts you'd be thinkin'
You could be another Lincoln,
If you only had a brain.
Oh, I could tell you why
The ocean's near the shore,
I could think of things I never thunk before
And then I'd sit and think some more.
I would not be just a nuffin'
My head all full of stuffin'
My heart all full of pain.
I would dance and be merry
Life would be a ding-a-derry
If I only had a brain--Whoa!

Thanks to all of the kind and generous friends that have expressed their condolences to our family on the loss of my father and their grandfather.

I'm looking forward to getting back in writing mode. There's much to do. Like get that syn and partial off to Silhouette. Time's 'a wastin'.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Book Tag

I've been tagged for this one by Southern Writer. I 've been busy and I've also needed a few days to think about this one.

One book that changed your life.
The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale

2. One book you have read more than once.
East of Eden by John Steinbeck

3. One book you would want on a desert island.
A journal. If that doesn't count. The Bible.

4. One book that made you laugh
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

5. One book that made you cry.
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Michell ( I was pretty young at the time, 10 if I recall, but I still cry when I see the movie esp when the little daughter is killed while riding)

6. One book you wish you had written
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

7. One book you wish had never been written.
I wouldn't censor anyone, although there are a number I've read that wasted valuable reading time

8. One book you are currently reading
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell in conjunction with Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose

9. One book you have been meaning to read
The Giver by Lois Lowry

10. I'm supposed to tag five people, so if you're reading this and you haven't been tagged let me know so I can choose YOU.

Heading to Virginia

Thanks to all for your condolences. I'm heading to Virginia for a few days. At this point, I'm unsure about internet access. I will be writing though. Keep on blogging.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I'm Back, but Off Again

I'm back after a 10 day absence. I intended on updating you about the writer's conference I attended sponsored by the Ottawa Romance Writers.

However, my father died yesterday and of course, the funeral rituals take precedence. Instead I leave you again with a poem befitting a life's passage.

No Man is an Island (John Donne)

No man is an island, entire of itself
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main
if a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were,
as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were
any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls
it tolls for thee.