Thursday, February 13, 2020

An Inaugural Dichotomy

Last night I asked my new friend "Alexa" to give a speech. She seems to be smarter than "Siri" in that Alexa can tell a joke, ask a riddle, recite a poem, ask a "knock-knock" joke, recite a limerick, recite a haiku, and do a "Roses are Red" for Valentine's Day.
I crawled into bed, cozied under the sheets and comforter, and asked Alexa to give a speech. Ironically, the speech she chose to give was Mr. Trump's inaugural address. It lasted 18 minutes and I listened as intently as I had avoided it on January 20, 2017.
I was amazed at the wonderful things he said, the new insights, the promises for the future. His speech included everything we wanted to hear, although many of us would have preferred hearing it coming from Hilary. It contained everything a loyal citizen of the United States would want to hear and would hope to see a President accomplish.
It said things like: 
Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one Administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People. 
For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished – but the people did not share in its wealth. 
Politicians prospered – but the jobs left, and the factories closed. 
The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. 
Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land. 
That all changes – starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you.
In looking back, however, in the last four years, Mr. Trump has done very little to accomplish the goals he talked about. He has dismantled so many government institutions, lied often and easily, and made up facts and figures to cover his lack of knowledge of the facts and figures.

He has been Homophobic, Racist, Anti-Immigration, Anti-Education, Masagonist, Anti-Semitic, Nationalist, Supremacist, and I cannot count how many other descriptors.

He has behaved as though he is above the law and manipulates Administrative decisions to meet his own needs.

Many of his moves to protect and support the poor, the underclass, the workers have in fact made life worse for them.

The difference in what he said and what he has done stands out like a neon sign flashing in the night, "CLOSED FOR BUSINESS."  

Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans, and people of the world: thank you.
We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and to restore its promise for all of our people.
Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for years to come.
We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done.
Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent.
Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one Administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.
For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.
Washington flourished – but the people did not share in its wealth.
Politicians prospered – but the jobs left, and the factories closed.
The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.
Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.
That all changes – starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you.
It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America.
This is your day. This is your celebration.
And this, the United States of America, is your country.
What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.
January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.
The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.
Everyone is listening to you now.
You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before.
At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction: that a nation exists to serve its citizens.
Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves.
These are the just and reasonable demands of a righteous public.
But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.
This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.
We are one nation – and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams; and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny.
The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.
For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry;
Subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military;
We’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own;
And spent trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.
We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon.
One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions upon millions of American workers left behind.
The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world.
But that is the past. And now we are looking only to the future.
We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power.
From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land.
From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.
Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.
We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.
I will fight for you with every breath in my body – and I will never, ever let you down.
America will start winning again, winning like never before.
We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.
We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.
We will get our people off of welfare and back to work – rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.
We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and Hire American.
We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.
We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.
We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones – and unite the civilized world against Radical Islamic Terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.
At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.
When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.
The Bible tells us, “how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”
We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity.
When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.
There should be no fear – we are protected, and we will always be protected.
We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we are protected by God.
Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger.
In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving.
We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action – constantly complaining but never doing anything about it.
The time for empty talk is over.
Now arrives the hour of action.
Do not let anyone tell you it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America.
We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.
We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.
A new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights, and heal our divisions.
It is time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag.
And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator.

So to all Americans, in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, and from ocean to ocean, hear these words:
You will never be ignored again.
Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams, will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.
Together, We Will Make America Strong Again.
We Will Make America Wealthy Again.
We Will Make America Proud Again.
We Will Make America Safe Again.
And, Yes, Together, We Will Make America Great Again. Thank you, God Bless You, And God Bless America.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020


I am posting a link to this difficult to read opinion.

A scary read about the "Possibly True State of The Union" and the "Democracy of the United States' Hidden Agenda." 

If we are told not to believe everything we read, and if there is such a thing as Fake News, and if personal opinion is just that ... read this anyway.

Sometimes just the KNOWING makes for change.

Monday, February 10, 2020

A Close Look at Grief

It is so hard to get really close to the trauma one has experienced in one’s life. In my case, the trauma I am writing about here, lasted 12 years as I walked the Alzheimer’s Path with my husband, my partner, my lover, my friend, my soulmate, Gregory.

I did a good job of shepherding Gregory though his illness but it was just that, his illness, not mine. That added a little bit of guilt to the story. Fear complicated the story: fear of what he was going through without my really being able to experience it myself or even to understand at times what he was experiencing.

Anticipatory grief played havoc with my mental and emotional well being. What would happen tomorrow? What changes would show up later tonight? Cognitive skills slowly withdrew and then reappeared, sometimes weaker and sometimes not, and then finally they would disappear. Playing my part as a caregiving partner with respect for Gregory was more and more difficult. Maintaining "normalcy" in our life changed often; sometimes daily, sometimes hourly. 

It was a game without rules, or rules which changed on a moment's notice. It was a dance without music or practiced moves. It was a musical with words and melodies, and sets and costumes; which often made no sense.

After Gregory died I fought the memories. I fought the memories of our 12-year journey but also the memories of our 40-year relationship. Good or bad, recalling them was too painful, too traumatic, too akin to panic. It was easier to suppress, distract, avoid, hide, refuse them.  

It was so important to my healing that I eventually let myself walk hand in hand with the memories and the emotions. It was so important to my grief that I spent time with the emotions and welcomed them in as part of me. 

Emotions, I used to think were bad things to be controlled. Through my studies in Buddhism, I discovered that the emotions were part of my classroom, my life classroom. I learned that they were a barometer to how my life was going. I thanked them for arriving, for getting my attention, and asked: “What lessons do you have for me?” 

If I was physically or mentally not up to dealing with the emotions or if their arrival was inconvenient to my daily schedule, I could welcome them and explain why I could not meet with them right then. I promised that I would invite them back when I would spend unrushed time with them. I made sure I did invite them back instead of burying them for too long.

Dealing with the memories, emotions, and lessons learned was not always pleasant. Sometime a warm, satisfied, successful feeling would arrive with them. Often working with the grief of Gregory’s being gone and the loss I felt was overwhelming, painful, and filled with tears. Now and then a tantrum, shouting, or beating my pillow would help.

To sit with the emotions and ride through the storm they brought, would always help me feel better for having done so. The lessons made themselves clear to me and insight was my reward. I was working through my trauma.

I grieved in my own way, I did a little research, I found a book or two that helped. I did not let people tell me how to grieve or for how long to grieve and out of the goodness of their hearts they often tried, some lovingly and some with an attitude of “you have got to move on!” 

Slowly it did get easier as the research, books, and friends said it would. But “easier” is not really the best way to explain it. I now believe that one never gets over GRIEF! One grows larger than the grief and stronger than the grief which makes it easier to carry. 

Gregory became finite: he was no longer alive to grow and change (at least on this plain?) I continued to be infinite: growing, changing, learning, experiencing, pursuing new and exciting adventures in life.

The most difficult part of my grieving Gregory's death and my life was about losing the physicality of our relationship. Not being able to care for him, be there for him, hold his hand, tell him I love him, share our adventures, laugh together, and so much more made me miss him all that much more! 

New ways of having a physical relationship with him were slowly developed. I talk to him every night before bedtime, I ask for his help with important decisions, I created a shrine on the bookshelf which is on his side of the bed. His remains rest in his favorite Grandma Carrie's sewing box which is part of the shrine.

Fresh flowers and candy are always on his shrine shelf (which I eventually eat myself.) I wave at his photograph on the shelf and keep a battery candle flickering 24/7. Presents that are purchased for him while traveling live on his shelf, like the collection of hearts purchased on my travels. Holidays get their turn with a small Christmas tree, a valentine I saved from him to me, a small Easter basket with jelly beans.

I will always grieve my Gregory, there will always be a hole (felt) in my chest until the day I die. I am just “better” at dealing with the grieving! At special times of the year, like holidays and birthdays; or when confronted by certain triggers like a song, a familiar sight, the smell of a certain food cooking; the grief returns in full force and I let it in. 

But because I am stronger and infinite, it is easier to pick up and carry on. I can carry the weight of that grief in ways that I could not do right after Gregory left and not in ways that I could have, had I not let the sorrow, grief, and pain in to sit with me to teach me their lessons.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

His Face, Metaphorically Speaking

When young, I couldn't look closely at his face
for fear of him seeing me as I truly was.

When older, I couldn't look closely at his face
for fear of his seeing my wrinkles and my aging.

During Alzheimer's, I couldn't look closely at his face
for fear of his seeing my sorrow.

When he died, I couldn't look closely at his face
for my emotions of never seeing it again.

Now, I look closely at his face whenever I can,
when he comes to me in my dreams. 

Thursday, February 6, 2020

The Good Place

Just finished watching the last episode of season four of the TV series called "The Good Place." Here are some meaningful lessons shared.

The Good Place

Every human is little bit sad all the time because they know they are going to die. But that knowledge is what gives life meaning.

Look to the East for a spiritual answer to "What is Death?"

Picture a wave in the ocean. You can see it, measure it, its height, the way the sunlight refracts when it passes though and its there and you know what it is, a wave. Then it crashes on the shore and it is gone but the water is still there. The wave was just a different way for the water to be for a little while.

Once conception of death for a Buddhist, the wave returns to the ocean where it came from and where it is supposed to be. 

One doesn’t really know what is going to happen after you die. That is what makes it so special!  The true joy is in the mystery.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

In Reality, We Are At War !

A vision came to me this morning that the United States of America has survived many wars but we may be facing, if not being in the middle of, a war that has the potential to destroy the republic, our democracy, and maybe our very existence.

Since leaving England, The United States of America has been at war every twenty to thirty years and sometimes more often.

My "vision" named itself ... the Second American Civil War! There are many causes that led to the First American Civil War and in many ways, the nation is at least as divided again. We just might already be involved in Civil War II. 

This time it is not the North vs the South, Slavery, Industry vs Farming, State's Rights, or Succession but rather a division presenting itself all across the geography of the entire nation and the nature of this "war" is a social, philosophical, political, ideological, intellectual one.

Our country is divided as it disagrees and often comes to fisticuffs over many mirrored issues: wealth vs poverty, educated vs ignorant, white vs black, haves vs have nots, fair vs unfair incarceration, freedom to bear arms vs mass shootings, health care vs illness, native-born vs immigrants, straight vs LGBTQ+, science vs religion, church vs state, religious vs non-religious beliefs, male vs female, entitlement vs rights, city vs rural vs farm, etc

But how will the Second American Civil War escalate and eventually end? Will American's take to wearing gray vs blue uniforms, will fighting erupt on every street corner, will family fight against family, will the red states or the blue state secede from the Union

It seems to me that the First American Civil War was about governance issues in a newly founded republic. It seems to me that the Second American Civil Was is about PEOPLE vs PEOPLE: conflicting ideologies, respect for one another, acceptance of different ways of life, divergence in beliefs, hostilities towards those who are different, and anger. Maybe it all boils down to fear of the different

When I was young and studying history in school, the United States was referred to as a "Melting Pot," with many people from divergent backgrounds, belief systems, religions, and countries coming together to create one new nation.

When I was older and teaching young people history, the United States was referred to as a "Salad" or "Stew," made up of many different entities creating a new type of dish with each item able to retain its original identity yet contribute greatly to a new entity.

How would you describe our country today? I am usually not a negative person and am optimistic about most things, but this time I am worried!

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Thoughts of a Queen Size Bed

Shades down
Lights off
Cats in place
Sheets crisp
Once more.

My Kitty Gigi

On her side 
Leaning against my arm
If that's not love
What is?

She comes to bed at night
And circles to finally lie down.
She places her hand in mine
And together we enter dreamland.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

April in Paris

Did I announce that I will be spending the month of April in Paris in celebration of my 75th birthday. This first link below takes you to photos of the apartment in which I will be staying.
This second link below takes you to just a few of the joys to which I am looking forward.

And finally, a musical interlude!

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Paris: The Latin Quarter

When in Paris, I will be staying in the Latin Quarter. This is that which I have to look forward.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Paris, Here I Come

For many of you, this might be the first formal announcement of my planned trip to Paris for the month of April to celebrate my 75th birthday.

Gregory and I spent 10 days in Paris ten years ago. Our going was in part thanks to friends Chuck and John who were going in April 2009 and gave us an enthusiastic YES when I asked if Gregory and I could join.

We would not need to be with them all the time and would strike out on our own but being there with them gave me the strength and bravery to go to Europe again (had been to Italy twice) especially as Gregory was progressing with his Alzheimer's Journey.

While Mexico, Italy, and Spain were wonderful adventures, Paris was the most monumental and best adventure on which Gregory and I had ever been. Funny aside, so monumental (literally) that in the beginning, I had trouble taking photographs because nothing would fit into the frame of my camera! Eventually, I learned how to see smaller monumental components of the monumental buildings, streets, cafes, museums, Metra, etc. that are Paris.

For Gregory especially, Paris was part of a bigger dream come true which would be for any architect who was also pretty much an expert in historical sites. One adult life long ambition of his was to visit Vaux le Vicomte, just outside of Paris, which we were able to do.

I just finished watching some old programs about Paris by travel expert Rick Steves. I found myself crying fairly often as he moved from one important place to the next. I realized that my upcoming April in Paris adventure will be wonderful but at times difficult.

First because of the memories of being there with Gregory yet this time not being able to physically share the emotions of the adventure with him.

Next, I will be there alone and will have to navigate the language, the food, the Euro, the Metra and other transportation, the museum tickets, and timelines on my own.

Also, while I will remain positive, there are always the possibilities of personal health issues making the journey a little more difficult than it was ten years ago.

Finally, when I haven't traveled for a while, a sort of ennui or fear settles in and causes me to doubt myself being strong enough to get on a Metra, find the way to the museum, on the right day, purchase a ticket, navigate the crowds, experience the important exhibits, find meals, be out after dark, take risks, get myself lost in exciting unique neighborhoods, find my way out, and get myself back to the Paris apartment again.

That being said there is also the reverse fear that I will miss out on things, not be in the right place at the right time, etc.

There are a number of things that I did not do last time while in Paris with Gregory because of my mild claustrophobia and I am determined to overcome them this time and not to miss out.

Bless XANAX! Bless finances not being an issue. Bless my having purchased my airplane tickets and renting an apartment despite my fears! Watch this space for more.

Click here to see the apartment

The Outreach Continues

This came across my Facebook Messages a short while back. I continue to be grateful when hearing how people reacted to and benefited from the documentary ALZHEIMER'S: A Love Story. And it in some ways continue to amaze me that it has had such an impact on so many!

I just watched the Alzheimer’s story on HereTV, and want to applaud you. Your dedication was tremendous and a true love story. My partner, also named Gregory passed away last November from a rare disease called AL Amyloidosis. The last year of his life was a special time for me as it brought me closer to him and allowed me to appreciate our 17 years more thoroughly. The last 41 days were spent at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, and I stayed with him daily there with hopes of recovery. Watching him die was precious in a way as it was something only I could experience. Watching the show tonight brought many tears, and I felt I could relate in an odd way. I applaud your strength and dedication to Gregory. We both have been blest. I hope your life is at a happier place.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Condo Christmas 2019














Christmas Train 2019

Every year the "Christmas Town" for my "Z Scale" model train set changes even though it mostly uses the same items.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Writing Life

Interesting that when my life is calm, when I have no majorly pressing decisions, when my health is for the most part in place ... my need to write is diminished. I have also notice that since Gregory passed, my need to pour out poetry is almost gone.

At first, I lamented the disappearance of both and felt I should call out an All Points Bulletin to force myself to find where both had gone to. Then I realized that it is not that they have disappeared, the need behind them has disappeared. Make sense?

Work on "GREGORY: An Alzheimer's Love Story Musical," continues to move inch by inch to the magnificent mile that I imagine the musical could be. It exists completed in my mind's eyes. The story, the sets, the costumes, the actors, the music, the words, the dancing, the sorrow, the joy, the humor, the terror. They all exist. Now I need to birth it.

There are other writing projects that I might revitalize. I have at least a dozen children's picture book stories, the most notable being "My Kitty is a Memory Now," which is a story about my cat Mirah and my dealing with her death. Perhaps the book will help children deal with the death not only of pets but also family and friends who die.

Perhaps I should try my hand at fiction and write my first novel (or start with a short story at least) but for some reason creating life doesn't really interest me. My strength comes with recreating existing life and possibly giving it order and shedding light on its meaning.

Anyway, a sabbatical from writing seems fair and better than calling it writer's block. Don't you agree? Happy Thanksgiving. I am off to put out my Christmas decorations early so I have time to bake cookies!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Life, Death, and The Buddhist Heart Sutra

Wow, it has been almost a month since I've written. Partly my travels to NYC released some of the "need to write" and working yet again on another editing of my musical (new working name "GREGORY") and my memoirs have taken up a lot of my free time.

This morning a Facebook post prompted this:

1) The Heart Sūtra (Sanskrit: प्रज्ञापारमिताहृदय Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya or Chinese: 心經 Xīnjīng) is a popular sutra in Mahāyāna Buddhism. Its Sanskrit title, Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya, can be translated as "The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom."

2) The sutra famously states, "Form is empty" (śūnyatā). Individual identity does not exist!

3) Since there is no INDIVIDUAL identity (the piece of paper having in it the tree, the sun, the rain, the logger, his family, the food his mother prepares for him, the manufacturing company, etc are all part of the paper's identity) then we are all one. 

4) We need to respect each other, not judge eachother be good to ourselves and to eachother, take care of each other as we can. The "I" of me does not exist separately than any other person, The flower is empty of a separate existence, but that doesn’t mean that the flower is not there. 

5) The Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh has used the phrase, ‘The Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore,’ because in the mantra there is the expression pāragate which means ‘gone over to the other shore, the shore of wisdom’. Pārāyana and pāramitā have both been translated as ‘crossing over to the other shore.’ In the Sutta Nipāta there is a chapter called Pārāyana which has also been translated as ‘crossing over to the other shore.’ 

6) This helps me deal with death as it says that there is no form in life or death, therefore, there is no life and death. Death, something we all seem to fear and suffer with as soon as we reach the sentient age, is made up of everything that goes before, during, and after it. 

7) We all breath. (The main tenet of meditation.) We all die (perhaps the main tenet of life.) No exceptions. Therefore neither has a separate identity. Death is empty of a separate existence, but that doesn’t mean that death is not there. For me, this idea makes it a little easier to live with (pun intended) dying.

8) Thich Nhat Hanh's interpretations -

Sunday, October 6, 2019

A Navigation of Trust and Love, Personification Added

Sometime after I have closed the lights and prepare to sleep, my cat arrives. Gigi is her name.

She steps onto my ankle at the bottom of the bed and pauses while she gets her balance.

She slowly walks up my calf, takes a left at my knee and proceeds up my thigh.

There she carefully steps onto my hip and again pauses to gain traction.

She slowly climbs each rib-step arriving at my shoulder and pausing for clarity.

She then steps at an angle past my chin, cheek, and ear, onto the pillow, finally arriving at the "dog/cat go-round in circles eventually settling down to lie down routine."

After she arrives at the optimal position to be able to curl up, while purring she braces her hind legs against my chest to push herself into place, with her head cupped in my half-asleep waiting left hand while my right hand supports her hind legs. Now  she is ready for sleep.

Of course, by then I am fully awake but I relish each movement, each moment of her navigated journey towards snuggling in with me which I take as a sign of human/animal communication and exchange of trust and love.

Fall, Autumn, Day of the Dead, Día de los Muertos

By Michael Horvich

Day of the Dead in Mexico represents a mixture of Christian devotion and Pre-Hispanic traditions and beliefs. During the pre-Hispanic era, death did not exist. Death was seen, instead, as simply a transition, a voyage through time and space towards true life. 

The celebrations take place on two days. The souls of the dead children arrive on October 31st. As they depart on November 1st, their place is taken by the souls of the adults.

On these days, the deceased are believed to receive divine permission to visit friends and relatives on earth and to share the pleasure of living once again.

While the deceased are represented in skeletal form, the celebrations are not macabre, but rather portrayed with love, humor, and affections by both artists and participants. 

On both days, the living and the dead are reunited at grave sites and home alters that are adorned with flowers, candles, sugar skulls (Calaveras,) skeleton figures, and the favorite food and drink of the departed.

The altar includes four main elements of nature: 1) Earth is represented by food and it is believed that the souls are fed by the aroma of food. 2) Wind is represented by a moving object, usually tissue paper flags (Papel Picado.) 3) Water is represented by a glass of water for the souls to quench their thirst after the long journey to the alter. 4) Finally, fire is represented by wax candles, one for each soul remembered and an extra one for the forgotten soul.

The dead are never forgotten because once a year they take their places beside the living to enjoy their love and the fruits and flowers of the earth.

Edited from:
-Mary J. Andrade,
-Jeffry Weiss, Arte Popular Miniaturas, Puerto   
 Villarta, Mexico

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