Frogs in My World

Anne’s hand-painted frog quilt.

I have always loved frogs. If I remember correctly, when I was a very young child, my family ate frogs legs at a restaurant. And it was the last time I ever ate them. It was not because of the taste. Like chicken, they tasted good as I remember. But I fell in love with frogs at an early age, and if I had a close relationship with chickens, I would not eat them either.

We lived in El Paso, Texas in an average home except for one thing. When it would rain, the rain would create little puddles, and lo and behold, overnight the tiniest of frogs would appear in the mud and they could live their entire life cycle in the short time that mud puddle existed. When it would dry up, they would go back into the earth and continue to exist in a state of metamorphosis until the next rain storm. Although they were so tiny they could sit on one of my fingernails, they would croak so loud at night, I am sure frogs in the next county could hear them. Another interesting thing about frogs is that all of them have different sounds, and the sounds don’t seem dependent on their sizes.

I used to come out during the rain and get one of two, and attempt to raise them in large jars with water and a little mud so that I could watch them, and before the puddle would go away, I would return them to their home puddles, where they seemed right happy to return. I never did learn all their amazing secrets of their lives, the tadpoles that must have come, or what other things the did such as what they ate in those mud puddles.

One way or another, we would encounter frogs in my youth. In the summers, we often went with an elderly lady we called Grandma Gibbs, and she had a summer cabin in the mountains. My dad was away then I think in Okinawa before we would later join him. In the summertime, we would play out by a stream that was not so far from the cabin, and sometimes we would catch a frog, and examine it and then put it back. It was a magical time. I loved the soft moist feeling of the frogs, and they never tried to bite or anything that would scare a child. Sometimes we would hear them making their croaking noise in the rain, or in the evenings.

Still much later when I was a grown-up living on my own in a small mobile home in a little park in Lomita, CA, when builders in the blocks began to tear down an old farm that took up blocks and dug up the land and pond that existed there to build more large homes, first I found a desert tortoise walking down the street toward the storm drain, and I rescued him and had him for years and years. I took him to the vet when I first found him as he seemed very thin to me. The vet told me that he was very old, and he actually lived to be more than 80 years old, but that is another story.

I was working as a paraeducator substitute (by choice) in Torrance and Redondo Beach, CA and one day during this same time I came home from work, and I heard this little “Ribbit, ribbit” sound coming from somewhere in my side yard, or perhaps the back. I made the ribbit sound back to it, and then it made another ribbit sound, and this kept up for awhile. It started our little friendship, and this small fellow would make his little greeting every day when I would come home from work. I would always greet him back happily. And he too would make his happy noise in the late nights too. I have always loved the sounds of nature, and so I welcomed that and the noise of crickets in the night.

This part of the story doesn’t have a happy ending for a neighbor across the street did not like the little frog’s sound, so one day I came home from work and there was no happy sound to greet me. I never found my little frog friend, but neither will I ever forget him and how happy he made me feel.

A long time has gone, and though I no longer have any live frogs, I have ceramic, rubber, and other kinds of frogs in my home. Many ancient people believed they were a sign of good luck and prosperity, and a friend of mine told me to put some pennies in the mouth of a rubber frog and turn him toward my front door. Sure enough, the frog seems to have brought some financial blessings that literally seemed to come from out of the blue so to speak, totally unexpected.

I will always love and respect frogs of all sizes and types, even the uncommon types that are poisonous. This happens when creatures seem to need some form of protection or ability to catch prey to eat. In nature, there is always some reason why creatures become harmful to other creatures or human beings. And frogs are not found commonly today as they were once. Like many other creatures that are becoming more scarce over time, it may also be a symbol as the ancient peoples believed. Someday I dream of having a little pond with waterlilies and perhaps frogs and goldfish, and once again I will be able to hear that beautiful and peaceful sound from my bed at night in the summertime.

A Love Story . . .

Rescued Christmas Trees – Courtesy of Anne

LOVE! I love everything about it and then some. I am a very emotional person and I cry at tear-jerker movies, or basically anything that has the least possibility of an emotional response. So when I went to Lowe’s Hardware in Redlands, CA, and saw two forlorn Christmas trees lying in the parking lot alone, I went straight to the plant section and asked the manager about the two Christmas trees lying there. He told me they were left over from the sale and would soon become mulch. Under normal circumstances, I would appreciate knowing that a tree was going to help give life to another potential plant, but this was just too much. “How much would it cost to buy them?” I asked. “Nothing,” he replied. I told him I would take them, and went right out and began tugging and pulling the one tree and managed to get it to my 22-year old Honda Civic Hatchback, but the other one was not going to be so easy; it was just too heavy. I went back to the manager and asked if he could help me get the other one, and soon as he was able, he came out with a helper and got it next to the other one in the back of the little car.

After thanking him profusely, I drove home as quick as I could and set up two buckets that I filled partly with water. In went the first one, and it quickly looked better. These two trees would get to serve the purpose for which they gave their lives, or so I believed. But the second tree, thirsty as it was to get into that water, could not help me to get it out of the car.

There was only one person who might help me, and I instinctively headed toward Richard’s mobile home. He had been the maintenance man for many years. He was a good person and he had done a lot of wonderful work for me on my home, never giving me a quote for his work. He painted it so nicely, and then using recycled materials, took the way-too-small front stoop, and changed it into a wonderful front porch with a nice side set of steps instead of having them heading into the street. He made me a wonderful bench that he painted a sunshiny yellow out of the part of the stairs he cut off to make them fit properly on the side. Of course I had paid him and had taken him out to a good hot dinner to go with, but I felt more than appreciative. This was a genuine good man.

I knocked on his door, and though it was cold outside, he came right over with me, and without making fun of me or giving me excuses, he got right to the job and I helped him drag the tree to the water, where it practically jumped in happily. Once the trees were settled, we headed off to get some money and a hot meal for him, and once again we enjoyed just sitting together quietly eating our meal at the counter. He was so modest, sitting there in his torn jeans with the bottoms ragged, an old t-shirt, and some well-used shoes. He thanked me very much and I could see his eyes light up when I told him I would like to mend his jeans for him. This would be the beginning of a love that has lasted and will continue through the day when one of us dies. And on that day, I will celebrate life for such a wonderful gift.

Richard had a pretty tough life,with he and his brothers and sisters going into a foster home after his stepmother died. I think his father died shortly afterward. Between age seven through eleven, he was in nine different foster homes; somehow he and an older sister managed to keep what was left of their family together. Their last foster parent was a mother who already had some older daughters;and she took care of them all without a husband. She got cancer while they were with her, and she used to have the boys go out and gather Creosote, which she boiled and drank, and made the boys drink some too, believing it would prevent cancer. She would die later despite her attempts to heal herself. Before that happened, Richard left for the Army when he was 17, and got in shortly after as he reached 18. It was near the end of the Vietnam War, and though he did not serve there, he spent time in a number of countries, including Granada during the Cold War, and he also spent a total of nine years between the Army, and supporting services of Army Reserves and National Guard.

Later, he worked in construction, and he eventually got together with a divorced woman who already had several older children. One day when their little boy was just a toddler, she left with her own children, leaving the toddler behind with a stranger. When Richard got home from work, he looked until he found his little boy. Most men might have left the child to welfare or to a foster home, but Richard took his little boy and raised him alone for a long time, taking him to his work with him; luckily he worked at the time in an indoor swapmeet, so he was able to do that.

Eventually Richard found another lady with children; she was in a wheelchair from multiple physical challenges. He and she were married for 20 years before she passed on. Richard took excellent care of her and her children along with his son, and they even started a ministry for juvenile delinquents that they ran for years with only the money they could put into it.

After she passed on, eventually he connected with an old friend of hers that she had willed Richard to, along with her grown children. She too had developed severe physical challenges including seizures, and was in a wheelchair; after eight more years, she passed on, leaving Richard alone once more. His son is now an adult with a young daughter, and a failed relationship. He moved to Texas and is working steadily as a mechanic. Like his dad, he too is taking good care of his daughter.

I have been through a lot of failed relationships in my life. Some people are never meant to be together for one reason or the other, and they aren’t always the reasons we tend to think.

All I know is that when Richard and I met, all the things that bring people together in a lasting relationship have been there from the beginning. We are able to be who we are with each other and we actually LOVE spending our time together. We were both seniors when we met, and we are both simple people who care about little things in life. We never have to be anyone but who we actually are. We sit happily together at our desks as we work through our days. I am generally writing books, articles, or taking care of other business, while he shares the news of the world and our local weather, or plays Mahjong or other relaxing things. We throw each other kisses, or laugh over funny things our pets do. I will always remember in my heart those little Christmas trees, and how it was when they got loving care. They lasted a lot longer outside than we could have imagined, and the little bare fruit trees next to them honestly leaned inward as if to support them and keep them standing up. I put a few ornaments on them; at least they got to live their lives for what was intended. We have not had more Christmas trees since, but those I think neither of us will ever forget that.

I graduated from my second degree (this one Criminal Justice) in 2016, the same year I got breast cancer and had surgery to take care of it. Richard was there with me as we had been in a relationship for more than a year. He was with me through all the decisions I had to make and the changes I went through. I did my research carefully, and I am still cancer free with no radiation or chemo. I will likely not use my degree except as a volunteer, I am already trained and have graduated from CASA.org (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for foster children. I do not have an assignment currently.

In 2017, the tables turned and Richard had to have a critical surgery on his cervix, followed by two more involving his trachea and his nose to help him breathe. I have been there ever since as his caregiver and his advocate through all the decisions we have had to make. He had another surgery this year in May following the failure of the first surgery; it looks as though he could have another failure causing something called Radiculopathy (damage to a nerve in the neck). But here we are together and we love each other more than ever.

Anne and Richard Last Year

For the Children . . .

Vasek Polak Children’s Center in Long Beach, CA.

This is the children’s time of year. I don’t even think it is as much about getting Christmas presents as it is about a feeling of magic that happens at this special time. Lights everywhere, and people in colorful clothes seeming to be flying as they go to get last minute ingredients for one of the special meals served everywhere for all kinds of celebrations.

Adults seem preoccupied with all the preparations for gift exchanges, getting good bargains, addressing cards for friends and acquaintances, and just generally preoccupied.

This is a time when parents and others need to slow down and be extra aware of where their children are, what they are doing, and who they are with every moment. Here in Southern California, we have had a number of children kidnapped by criminal types who just wait for this time of year. Equally bad is leaving your children to see Santa and then not staying with them. And what about the moms who leave babies and young children in the cars while they “just run inside to take care of something for a minute.” Usually it happens in the summer, leaving the children to roast to death. What would you do if you came back from your shopping and found your child gone or dying in your car?

Children love magic, and they are magic. Let’s all help keep it that way. Every child is special regardless of what he or she does have or does not. It is what makes my Christmas for sure, and I hope it makes yours too.

The Invisible People

Thelma Smith, “Capoeisitera”

My good fiber arts friend of many years, Thelma Smith, made this series of homeless people she met up with when she was searching for her son, Norman, who suffered from mental/emotional issues probably stemming from a developmental challenge. She generally made the quilts bigger than real life, painted them and then stitched them. She also put very few facial features on them in one way giving them dignity, and in another way showing them as the invisible people in our society. This series of quilts always held great appeal for me and I always wished she could have put it out into a public gallery where a lot of people could see it and realize how important and unaddressed this problem is today.

Left Turn Lane Series Quilt by Thelma Smith

I think of the homeless people all the time. I have had young people show up in my classrooms, and when I offered them food that I used to bring for my teens who were in my study class, they would come back everyday just to get a breakfast/lunch though they were not actually in my classroom. They would come during a break when the other children were gone and always would talk to me. I remember one boy who told me his folks and he and his sisters and brothers were sleeping on the floor in a store owned by someone who knew them. I always made sure he took extra food. I cannot begin to imagine what a child who is homeless must go through emotionally, having to keep it a secret to prevent being bullied, and arriving at school hungry in the morning. The homeless are “cracks in the pavement.” We see them, but pass right by them as we would step on those cracks.

Thelma Smith – Left Turn Lane Series

I’ve seen and tried to help a lot of homeless people in my life. Sometimes the people are clearly suffering so much, I could not possibly help but cry. How sad is it to see an elderly woman in barely enough raggedy clothes to protect her from the cold, pushing a recycled wheelchair likely from a garbage throwaway, with her husband in it, and the only blanket covering him as she tried to protect and push him to the free clinic near where I used to live. But the saddest thing is how others turn away from them, pretending they don’t exist.

Left Turn Lane Series by Thelma Smith

All of these people at one time or another were probably just like you and me. It may have been only for a very short time when they were very young, but we need to remember that they are human beings just like us. We cannot know what happened in their lives to make them into homeless people, but it had to be dramatic. No one wants to live out in the rain or snow, and to sleep on concrete or on the cold ground, to have to find food in trash cans, or to go to the bathroom out wherever they can find a place, and have no way to clean themselves at all. And no one wants to get hurt, tortured, raped, or murdered perhaps for as little as the blanket they are using to keep warm.

Wild Bill, Thelma Smith’s Left Turn Lane Series

Their need to communicate is no different than ours. I remember when I was out of work from one of those jobs with a big title, and could not find a job, not because I was not qualified, but I was overqualified. I too had a short period of semi-homelessness. Luckily I had a lot of friends who would let me stay a night or two at their home and feed me and my pets, and I did find another job quickly. The time was never wasted. I was working as a volunteer at Harbor UCLA Medical Center, a teaching hospital, and if I worked four hours, I got a free lunch in the doctor’s cafeteria, which had the best food. I would get a salad, a full meal, and dessert. So I would eat my salad for lunch, wrap up my dinner and desert and have that later. I could go to the free clinic and get in quickly since I had my volunteer vest on, and I could also get needed shots downstairs in the hospital. I quickly taught myself how to go in the library and do my own medical research to determine pretty much accurately every time what I had, and the doctors in the free clinic always looked forward to treating me because I saved them time and always made the correct diagnosis. It is a habit that has followed me thru life, and I have made the right choices every time by doing my research.

I had the priviledge of working as a volunteer in the Neonatal Section of the hospital, where we treated hundreds of women with all manner of issues – homelessness, drugs, poor prenatal care, etc. I was responsible for the Newborn Hearing Screening, and I did my job well. The people I worked with actually wanted to hire me, but as hospitals tend to do things, they decided to hire a service instead so that they would not have the expense of an employee (i.e. benefits, etc.) to deal with. I also taught the women in the Neonatal Section about the benefits of breastfeeding when it was possible. The drug addicts could not nurse their babies, and it was heartbreaking to watch the babies shaking and crying all the time from the damage done to their tiny systems.

One night a Hispanic young lady came in and had her baby. It was premature, and would have to stay in the hospital, but she wanted to breastfeed her baby. I suspect she came over to the U.S. as a mule, or person who came over with drugs inserted somewhere in her body, a very common thing. We fixed her up with the equipment to pump her breasts for the baby, and she left for the group home she was staying in. She was NOT one of the drug people at all, and a very sweet and very young woman. I doubt she was older than 17, and possibly younger. She never came back to to the hospital, and we suspected that she was picked up again by the men who watch out for the mules, or some other form of human trafficking. So the problem was that the police could not look for someone they knew absolutely nothing about. She was literally an invisible person. Now a child will potentially grow up without ever knowing its mother, and a mother somewhere might be mourning her loss, or perhaps be even dead. We will never know. I send prayers for the homeless, and I am glad that Thelma Smith gave them dignity by not painting their faces, and making them bigger than life.

For the Children

pexels-Source 1photo-556669

I absolutely love working with children and teaching them new things. Many years ago, likely in my 30’s, I served as a volunteer to teach illiterate adults how to read. It never had occurred to me that when people grow up not knowing how to read, many of them have also missed most of childhood’s best parts. They have missed not only the wonderful children’s books, generally because they had no one to read to them, but they have also missed out on a lot of wonderful childhood experiences, like being able to go trick or treating or making a costume for Halloween, or having someone help them to learn how to carve a pumpkin.

I know many of you wonder how this could happen. Think about the migrant workers, the homeless people (and yes they often have children living with them), and even my own parents never finished high school. So I went to school, but because I could not depend on my parents to be able to help me with my homework, I honestly struggled with understanding how to do my homework, and when a child cannot do well in school, they often also struggle to fit in socially.

I was bullied a lot because I wore clothes from thrift stores, ate day-old bread from the special store that was so cheap in those days, and I did not know how to make friends or talk to others. To top it all off, I quit school in my first year of high school. I had gotten married instead of choosing to go to Germany with my mother and father during the time of the wall I believe. And so I found myself pregnant, and in those days, pregnant girls did not go to school, at least not where I lived.

But some miracles happened for me. Despite the fact that I was extremely shy and had difficulty with school subjects except for writing, I really did love to read. Thank goodness it was something I learned on my own early on, partly from not wanting to go outside and play with the other children because they bullied me at home as well as at school.

Although my mother had taught me absolutely nothing about having children or anything that was physically personal, when my daughter was born, not only did I breast-feed her and my two boys at a time when women really were not doing that, but I read to my children every single night, and I decided to teach my daughter to read when she was close to two years old. I made some little index cards, and on one side, I wrote a word such as hand in big letters, and on the other side I drew a picture of a hand. I showed her the word, and then said the word, and then showed her the picture of the word, and I would also hold up my hand and say the word. No one taught me how to do this. I just figured it out on my own. Now she had a hunger to learn, and I am telling you honestly that she was trying to potty train herself at six months old in one of those little chairs for that purpose, so I guess it was the same way with learning.

One night I had put her to bed, and I had given her the little Golden Books that she liked to have me read to her after I had read her a story. Out in the living room after awhile, I heard her talking in the bedroom, and went in to see what she was reading. She was holding her book and “reading” all the words and turning the pages at the appropriate times. I could not believe what I was hearing! How could she be reading these words when I had not taught those to her yet? I sat beside her and asked her if she would read me the story, and I watched her carefully and to this day, I remember her not missing a single word, but I realized that she wasn’t reading all the words. She had memorized those stories page by page!

I would not be able to follow my children’s education. I will just say that it was truly a traumatic event for me, and shocking for someone still so shy and lacking confidence to try to stick up for myself. I had never smoked, never done drugs, never drank alcohol, or did anything but to be a mother. She was four when they all disappeared. I did not know where they were until some 28 years later, when I located at least my daughter through the Salvation Army, at that time for just $10, after barely two months. I had not been able to provide much information as I suffered from severe amnesia and PTSD. I discovered that she was a published writer, an artist, and even a fine quilter (I did those things too), plus a lot more that I never did (such as riding bicycles in marathons, etc.) She was only four years old the last time I had seen her. We were reunited but I never saw the boys again. They were too young to remember me.

In later years of my life, I would get a degree in Archaeology and just a few years ago one in Criminal Justice, and I would have careers and even my own businesses. But my favorite career of all has been working as a substitute paraeducator, aide and uncertified teacher for special needs children with physical/developmental and emotional challenges. And I became a volunteer senior tutor for illiterate adults, a tutor for children and adults, as well as a mentor/advocate for challenged adults, particularly for artists trying to establish careers.

It was during those years that I learned how illiterate adults not only frequently cannot read if at all at the lowest levels, but they have also missed out on their childhood memories – parents reading to them, helping them to celebrate rites of childhood, or getting to do things many of us take for granted such as trick-or-treating, or even getting to carve a pumpkin or make a costume. In my case I was shy and my parents could not read at a high enough level. They too had missed out on those experiences many children do have so they didn’t know how to do those with us either. We did do some things, but because I was so shy, I didn’t do as many as my brother did.

I think for the remainder of my life, I will tutor illiterate adults when I have an opportunity, and help them experience the things they missed out on earlier in life. And I will volunteer to help others who have some form of physical or other challenges as well. I can honestly say that I don’t regret any part of my life, even those times that were painful spiritually and otherwise. It has all been good. I could not have the compassion I do now for others if I had not struggled my own self. And I will remain a student of the world for the rest of my life too. I love learning, and often as I sit pouring over something I have read, I look back in my mind’s eye and see that little beautiful daughter of mine delightedly memorizing and “reading” herself one of the stories she loved.

It’s Fruitcake Weather . . .

Not your old dried fruitcake with dried candied citrus.

I’m thinking of those old hangover memories from many long years ago when people still consumed fruitcakes, largely homemade and a gift signifying abundance for everyone who receives it. And when I read the book, A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote, it increased my love of the tasty treat.

So for several years now, I have adopted the philosophy that fruitcake is indeed a sacred treat and must be treated as such. Therefore, it is a treat that requires special ingredients and the timing must be well-thought-out to have it ready at just the right time. When you make a fruitcake, you cannot just throw the ingredients together. You must go out and gather the ingredients in the most meaningful ways you can, and you also should not be afraid to experiment with the ingredients. And in the end result, your fruitcake needs to be like a cake and not a bowl of soup.

Here is a recipe for one of the special fruitcakes I have made for this special time. It is from my book, Pumpkin, Pumpkin: Folklore, History, Growing Hints and Good Eating, 3rd Edition. The book actually contains a whole lot more than what the title implies, but it could have filled up the cover with the title, so I have kept it shorter intentionally.

Pumpkin Fruitcake

1 c. canned pumpkin; 4 c. all-purpose flour; 1 c. buttermilk; 4 eggs; 1 c. brown sugar OR 1/2 c. brown sugar & 1/2 c. molasses; zest of one lemon and one orange; liquor of choice for soaking fruit

Juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange; Enough rum, brandy or liquor of choice mixed with juice of the lemon and orange, to cover the fruit; 1 1/2 c. pecans or walnuts (I like the whole halves or 1/4ths, but you might want to chop yours up more except for some halves for the top); 4 c. mixed dried fruit (dried apples, apricots, pineapple, cranberries, raisins, figs, dates or any combination you like); 1 tsp. baking powder; 1/2 tsp. baking soda; 1 tsp. ea. cinnamon, allspice, ginger (I add other spices as they occur to me by my choice – the recipe will not fail if you do not use others); salt (salt is very personal and will not make a difference whether you use it or not; if you have ever experimented with salt, you will know how this works).

Put all dried fruit into a bowl and cover it with a mixture of orange juice and rum or brandy, etc. to your taste. You need enough of the liquor to cover the fruit. Soak for at least 24 hours. I always add the liquor to what feels right to me personally. Remember that you are going to keep this cake in a tin until nearly Christmas (if you can do that), so you can add more along the way to make it better.

Preheat oven to 350o. To make the cake, mix all dry ingredients, and then add the pumpkin, eggs, and buttermilk. When mixture is consistently blended, pour in the rum soaked fruits.

Bake about 60 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. This cake can sit out, covered in a lidded tin container, and it will just keep getting better.

For me, the making of the fruitcake comes from the line in the book uttered by one of his beloved relatives, “It’s fruitcake weather.” It is how I love to celebrate my autumn. I hope you will find some good ways to celebrate yours as well.

Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead Quilt by Anne Copeland

Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and Central America any time from October 31 thru November 2, and has been throughout Mexico and Central America before . It seems to be celebrated in other parts of the world too, though in different ways, and I am not certain of the timing. In some cases, the skeletons of ancestors are taken out of their resting places, wiped clean and prayed over, sung to and libations and food are consumed in the name of the beloved ones long since gone. In Mexico, the people themselves often put on the masks of the dead, sugar skulls are made and consumed, and it is a time of praying, dancing, singing, eating and generally remembering the dead with elaborate shrines set up for the occasion and filled with all kinds of offerings.

It was originally celebrated in the 9th month of the Aztec calendar (early in August) and lasted the entire month approximately 5,000 years ago, some time before the Spaniards showed up. In the Aztec belief system, there were several planes of existence which were separate but interrelated to the one on which they dwelled. They envisioned a world consisting of 13 overworlds or layers of heavens above the earthly terrain and nine underworlds. Each of these levels had its own characteristics and particular gods who ruled it. When someone died, they believed that the place their soul would go to was determined by the manner in which they died. Warriors who died in battle, women who died during childbirth, and victims of sacrifice were considered to be the most fortunate, as they would be rewarded by achieving the highest plane in the afterlife. Archaeologists have found evidence of elaborate burials beneath homes, suggesting that the Aztecs wanted their deceased ones to be close to them.

Later the festivities were dedicated to the goddess known as the “Lady of the Dead”, corresponding to the modern La Calavera Catrina. The Day of the Dead has evolved over the centuries and continues to evolve from year to year, with the Catholic Church now behind most of the celebrations.

November 1 is El Dia de las Angelitas Pequeñas (the Day of Little Angels) and November 2 is El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and corresponds with All Saints Day or El Dia de Los Fieles Difuntos (All Souls Day). The holiday actually begins on October 31, and ends November 2.

Probably the most important part of the celebration is to set up the often elaborate altars with offerings representing Nature (earth), Water, Wind, Fire (the Candles), and Flowers (generally orange to represent the sun). Fruits or other treats and memorable offerings are also placed on the altar for the dead. In some cities, children go from home to home in costumes asking for treats for the dead, and the people give them things from their altars.

Whatever the reason you celebrate the Day of the Dead, I hope you will enjoy the days of what we refer to as Halloween or Samhain. Blessings be upon you as the nights grow cold and long.