Monday, October 29, 2007
The Dead Would Be Proud
My neighbors and I pulled off an outstanding Dia de los Muertos party in our courtyard last night. A lot of the night was spent gushing to our friends and family about how lucky we are to have such a tight-knit and dreamy complex. I have no doubt we will all look back on this time living here, whether it's three years or thirty, as one of our most glowing.
A lot of my favorite moments of the party were centered around the ofrenda. I put it together in the center planter on top of the lemon balm that grows wild there. It was made out of storage boxes and covered in a bed sheet and on top our family photos and marigolds and candles and salt water were placed. When people asked, I told them who were in the photos and explained that the salt water clears the air and represents ongoing life. It's my favorite point of Dia de los Muertos, the often forgotten fact that we're still alive (so, live it, fools, live it!) During the course of the party, more photos just appeared on the ofrenda. They were sparked with energy because I was always drawn back to the ofrenda when another photo arrived. My five year old neighbor Diana asked her mom about the whole set up. Her mom explained that it was a special place to celebrate the people we love who have passed on. And Diana shouted, "We have some of those!" And Leonard, my eighty-one year old neighbor who has lived in his apartment thirty-six years pulled me aside at the beginning of the party. He is frail, inches shorter than I, but his hair is perfect and full and he sports Clark-Kent glasses. He said, "This was a great idea, the honoring idea, I mean. I'm so glad you did that." Moments later I noticed a picture of Leonard’s wife on the ofrenda. The photo is from the 1970's and she is standing near the ruins of Central America. She is sketching on a pad and two local children, shirtless and barefoot, are stealing peaks over her shoulder. I stared at it for a long time.
I was able to put a photo of my grandmother on the ofrenda, which was monumental for me since I hadn't had a decent picture of her until only last week. This woman was my life preserver as a kid even if I didn't see her as much as I had wanted. I spent a lot of time begging god in my mind to see her more. She died when I was fifteen, a little young I thought to lose my foundation of emotional support, but maybe she knew I'd be ok. And though I didn't know her when she was this young, that stare in the photo pounds at my heart. Wow, I miss her, but I think I'm doing her proud.
On to the living, fools! So, yes, we dressed for the party. Here I am as La Calavera de la Catrina. I think most people know Catrina as an icon for Dia de los Muertos, but the initial sentiment behind José Guadalupe Posada's 1913 drawing of La Calavera de la Catrina -- which means fancy skeleton -- was that no matter how rich you are or how fancy or important you think you are, you will still die. Don't just live, fools, live well; do good.
As usual, Mandy and Melissa came fantastically correct. This photo needs to be made into a gigantic wall mural.
Here's my neighbor and good friend Molly as a beautiful butterfly. She made a quinoa salad for the party that kicked serious ass.
And oh lord, did I bake for this party. I baked my ass off; four days straight. I still have Halloween baking to do for the office, but here's my best foot forward:
These were actually for Mina's class party on Friday. The tombstone is vegan fondant-covered amaranth graham cracker. I think fondant is nasty, but the kids loved it! Because they'll eat dirt and poo mixed with lots of sugar!
The pies came out great. Ironically, the pumpkin pies especially. I figured out that my original pumpkin pies weren't setting because of the lil' mini tins in which I was first baking/experiementing. I can't explain why the filling wasn't setting in them, but whatev. I got it now. Molly said, after my many attempts, "Now that's perserverance." Here's the vegan Cobweb Apple Pie:
And the pumpkins. The Picado Pumpkin Pie was raffled off at the party.
And finally, the cupcakes . . . Fondant skulls and flowers (and designs in edible pen!) on top of lemon cupcakes.
Life is good, fools.
Posted by dizzle rivera at 10/29/2007 08:11:00 AM