Thursday, October 29, 2009

Shrine to the Dead - October Project 2

Halloween is almost here and we are as ready as we will be other than a quick clean of the house!

Above is our Shrine to the Dead. In Mexico they have beautiful family shrines, ofrenda de la familia, for Los Dias de los Muertos, Nov 1st and 2nd. I fist saw this here a few years back in a local graveyard. Then I saw another rendition at a Halloween production done by the local Firemen. There have been many sources of inspiration and this can be done anyway you like, but it adds some reverence to Halloween and a connection of life and death which we don't find often in our culture! A celebration of many lives and of death as a part of life! Its beautiful and its fun.

Candles, flowers, pictures and mementos make up the table. Each year we and friends add to the memorial board - our bulletin board with some construction paper decor - flowers and an invitation - "You are Invited to Remember your Friends and Family Who Have Died.." We leave out a basket of coloured pens and we have made our own slips of paper "in Memory of __" for people to fill in, colour and pin to our memorial. I keep all the parts of the shrine stored with our Halloween things for next year so it does not take much work to set up after the first time! This is a big part of our October Project 2, the other is the graveyard (see previous post) in the front and of course the fireworks all pulled together for a neighbourhood party on Halloween night!

I have had a few requests for fall reading lists. I will aim to do that this next month!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Halloween Graveyard - October Project 2

Graveyard Fireworks Party - October Project 2:

OK so we have 20 or 30 leftover cascarones from last year that we will use for our Halloween party. Cascarones, as pictured above, are like mini pinatas made of eggs. When you are making breakfast, simply use a thumb tack to pierce the egg, then chip out a penny sized hole and dump your egg in a bowl to cook. Wash the remaining egg shell. Dry. Decorate by dyeing, painting, stickers, glitter glue, whatever you fancy and fill with confetti. Cut a square of tissue to cover the hole or try my new decorative idea and roll a flower out of crepe paper streamer, matching colour, twist it to hold and glue with glue gun or white glue over hole. You may have come upon Cascarones in Mexico or Europe. Make a wish and crush them in your hand sprinkling the contents over someones head (for safety do not crack on someone's head - organic egg shells are hard and sharp). Children and adults love Cascarones!

Garden Graveyard (October Project 2)
Now for the front yard graveyard set-up! Several years ago we made simple gravestones by cutting styrofoam rectangles and spray painting them gray. We painted poems and epitaphs (Google search "famous epitaphs" or make up your own) in black paint. Coat hanger wire is stuck in the bottom on both sides and we push the grave stones into the ground using the wire. Grave stones are stored and reused yearly.

We have a huge maple tree so we rake the leaves in piles to represent the grave itself. In the very last few days before Halloween we go to a big store with lots of pumpkins left and haggle for a good price on 10 to 20 pumpkins. We have a crew; kids, me, Aunty, Nana, and carve like crazy (simple faces are fastest)!

Add these pumpkins with candles to the ends of the graves and between graves. We will pile 5 or 6 at different levels (using the garden wall and a chair) for a focal point as well. Then we scatter plastic bones and skeletons and spiders etc (Walmart) on the grave mounds and hang one skeleton from the tree (we have built our props collection over the years a few pieces per year). We put a witch on our door (with a baby monitor in the mailbox so she can speak to trick-or-treaters) and buy a box of fireworks. We are set for outside! More on our Shrine to Honour Our Dead (inside), next post!

6 more Days to Halloween!

Felted Fairies

Christmas Fairies / Felted Milagros
Seasonal Workshops with Lise-Lotte and Lenora
November 14, 10:30 - 3:30 / $85

A little segway from the rhythmic routine of home life, but for me its all mixed together, a balance. In November I will be teaching a workshop with the wonderful Lise-Lotte! Very exciting and always a lot of fun! This wee fairy is felted and embellished and absolutely enchanting! If you want to join us let me know!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lucky 13!

My daughter created this seasonal fibre art piece to add to our October Theme Table - I love it! Because my children love to sew and I am a fibre artist, we often cut up old clothes and keep the fabric in a bin to reuse. Not only is this 'green' it saves a lot of money in fabric purchase! The pumpkin is made from a piece of my husband's old silk shirt and stuffed with wool! It is lying on some newly Kool-aid dyed roving.

The children have been busy working on a few paper invitations for our annual Halloween fireworks (October Project 2) as they are both home from school today. They have chosen a photo from last year's party which we will put in an e-mail invite (we saved last years invite, so change the dates, change the photo and voila!) Everyone will get the e-mail. A few special friends will get the paper invites - the children are talking of having a draw to see who gets those!

As we are at mid-October we have started a new verse at breakfast.

Breakfast Verse for 2nd 1/2 of October
While lighting a candle
"The sun it shines so warm and bright, it strengthens all I do,
Now let me take this bit of light, so I shine brightly too. Blessings on our meal today".

This is our 13th post - so far so good!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Maple Leaf Fairies Build a House

My children love to see their work in print - published. (Don't we all!) This is a story from my daughter's book of short fiction "Fairy Folk Tales" that she asked that I post. We used to publish her book. Blurb is manageable for the children to use with a little guidance- but it is what we call a 'many day project'!

The Maple Leaf Fairies Build a House

Rusalka, Bruci and Nissa lived in a Maple Tree. They loved riding on the squirrels backs. Rusalka has blond hair which humans think is the rays of the sun. Brucie has brown hair which humans think is bark. Nissa has red hair which humans think is autumn leaves.
The story I am going to tell you about is when Rusalka, Brucie and Nissa first moved into our Maple tree. First of all they made a door high up in the trunk Then they made two windows of a special fairy glass so no humans can see though them. The last thing Rusalka, Brucie and Nissa did was build a chimney. This was very hard for them because they had to bring tiny pebbles up the tree one at a time, day after day. When their chimney was finally finished they lit a fire and lay on the couch eating tiny fairy marshmallows.

The End

copyright C.Moore 2008

Friday, October 9, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am so happy to be baking bread again! And I am thrilled with the timing, Thanksgiving and all! Celebration of harvest and all we have to be thankful for! My eyes watered at our school Thanksgiving Celebration this morning. The wonder of the children. The discussion of gratitude. The well thought our prayers of thanks. I really think the children get it!

16,000 teenagers show up to hear the Dalai Lama speak about social change - there is hope for the world!

I have to admit i am a little behind, what with school going back a week later this year. Will I be one step behind for the rest of time? Also cleaning graveyards before Thanksgiving Monday has almost made me forget that Thanksgiving is so early. But I'm on it now!

I am making bread as I speak! I bought new yeast and it is literally bubbling over - is it supposed to do that?. I don't remember it doing that in Greece when we made loaves weekly in a multipurpose, oversize, plastic basin, bread bowl, laundry, family bathtub.. And what is this new quick yeast? Hmmm I thought, no - I think I will stick with the traditional yeasty babies for now. The house will smell of baking bread on Friday after school! I love that!

We will harvest our (teeny, weeny) brussel sprouts from our garden - so exciting we've never grown these before! The cucumbers are still producing, so, a salad! And yes another home grown watermelon for desert! We will go around the table lighting a candle as we express who and what we are Thankful for and we will be reminded that someone, somewhere is thankful for us!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cleaning The Gravestones October Project 1

We spent a lovely afternoon in the graveyard cleaning the family graves; actually one. The children chose my great aunt who died when she was only 14. This of course fascinates them as she died of an ear infection before the advent of antibiotics. Her father was away at war and did not know he had lost her until he returned many weeks after. I cannot even imagine.

This is our first October project of 2 planned (see previous post - Oct Prep Page). My children love to clean the graves, to hear the stories, to add flowers, that we may remember, celebrate a loved one, in this case a girl we never knew. It is good to celebrate the circle of life. My daughter made a lovey candle with a guardian angel she drew and wrote Angel Dear, the verse we are saying in the morning, on the back.

The children cleaned other graves in the area, my son took to lifting grass from small grave walls and my daughter as always wanted to scrub the stone lamb on a nearby unattended grave of a 3 year old girl - brushing and polishing until its white granite shone again.

Most years we try to do all our graves, in all three graveyards, in the fall around Halloween. This year I decided to do one grave well. To enjoy the process instead of rushing to get them all done. I was inspired by the way the families in Greece tend their family graves, then inspired again by the celebration of The Days of the Dead in Mexico.I wanted to make more of our Halloween, to recognize that death too is part of life.

Grand dad came with us as he has in past. He thinks his mother would like this tradition.

The sun shone instead of biting winds or rain. We are out a couple weeks earlier this year. An early start on Halloween, Dia de los Angelitos and Dia de Todas las Almas. October project 1!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October Goals and Rhythm

If you have not followed this blog before these monthly planning pages lay out a general structure for the month, including a theme and seasonal table, a way to wake, a table candle blessing, a couple of projects and a verse for going to sleep. These are goals the follow up varies from great to imperfect but having the plan helps it to happen and helps bring rhythm to our days!

Festival or Theme
Halloween / Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) with Harvest / Thanksgiving mixed in.
A celebration of the lives of friends and family who have passed on.

New Seasonal Table
Check fall resource box - use gourds, pumpkins, Mexican kitsch

Breakfast Verse (for first 2 weeks of October)
(From school this week, Love the Latin! - we will also light our Guardian Angel candle)
"Angele Dei, qui custos es mei, me tibi commissum pietate superna,
illumina, custodi, rege et guberna.
Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God's love commits me here,
ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide,
Blessings on our meal today."

Waking Song (for October)
"Way up n the sky, the little birds fly, While down in their nests, the little birds rest.
With a wing ton the left and a wing to the right, the sweet little birdies sleep all through the night..
Shhh! They're sleeping! The bright sun comes up, the birdie's awake,
Good morning, good morning the little birds say!"

Bedtime Verse (for October)
Continue with "Train Whistle Blowing" I haven't sung bedtime that much yet.
See September post titled Preparation Page

2 Projects (for October)
mid October - choose one family grave and go clean it, fresh flowers etc.
last week October - Prepare for Halloween Party / Fireworks at our house
(carve 20 pumpkins and set up graveyard and pumpkin field in front yard. Set up Memorial to the Dead on the kitchen bulletin board and invite additions.)
Note: we have 30 Halloween cascarones made last year - lets use them this month!\\Note: I really want to make Katrina Dolls with the children for our Shrine for the Dead!
Note: I really want to make mini Niches too (ok ok - keep it simple! Graves and pumpkins as above!)

Theme Stories
Mid October read Stone Soup
Traditional Harvest and Halloween Stories sporadically all month!

Continue weekly soup making and add monthly bread making!

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