This past Sunday the family spent the afternoon at the cemetery celebrating Dia de los Muertos. We started at my parent's graves which are at the Veteran's Cemetery. The plan was created by SIL Isaac (Shannon's husband) from his Mexican traditions. He was born and raised in Guanajuato, Guanajuato, where Shannon met him while she attended a language school there. We decorated their graves with marigolds, candles, incense, photos and their favorite foods. I brought a pie, son Zak brought my dad's favorites: Goobers! Peanut butter and jelly on soda crackers. We played Johny Cash and Frank Sinatra. We chatted and told favorite stories about our time with them.
When we ALL were little, me and my children, my dad, "Papa", used to lie on the living room floor on his pallet (and old red and white quilt his mother, my Granny, made) with a bowl swirled with peanut butter and jelly, a butter knife, and a sleeve of soda crackers...and he'd make his own version of "goobers", not the ones you can now get in a jar! I love that my kids remember this in a special place in their hearts too.
One of the food memories my mom loved, was to wrap potatoes in foil and roast them in the fireplace on cold nights. We'd enjoy them as dessert after bathtime. I clearly remeber sitting in front of the fire, hot on my face, as I watched the tinfoil shine and blacken. And my dog, my big old collie dog, Glamus, laid by me.
But then wandered up to a wonderful celebration put on by a local organization in the old cemetery behind. Artist created shrines, musicians played, and there was a wonderful (free) feast for any and all.
I remembered my Busha on this wall...
I particularly loved these butterfly lanterns that spoke of love. Here is where I sent my love to my parents in a quiet moment while everyone hiked up the cemetery hill...
And then I looked at my phone to check the time, and it was that very spiritual number...which was also my dad's birthday 1/11/1924. I had to take a screenshot.
After we wandered the cemetery with those we loved/love so dearly, we chatted and ate, kids played, and then we talked about them and loved them some more!
Ezra was (still lol) a bat!
And Emil was a chameleon
We were all together...both sides of the veil.
It was a wild night of beauties to beasties! We had a very fun family party. Son Zak and his Fatima hosted a burger barbecue before trick or treating. I brought a salad, Brooke roasted veggies and Camille made a "graveyard pudding". Everyone was busy helping one another with make-up inside. The burgers and corn roasting outside. The weather warm (ugh, of course I wished it were otherwise! I mean, it's Halloween for goodness sake) But the night was cool----ish.
Brooke and Shannon were skeletons. Shannon Dia de los Muertos and Brooke just, um, a regular old skeleton. Fatima painted Shannon's face....
Oh and Brooke did Satchel's face! Oh. My. Goodness. This beautiful boy was transformed into something only a grandmother could still love.
Right??? But then we had our bucket full of sweetness and beauty too. A goddess. A bat. Cleopatra. Anyone watch Game of Thrones? Camille and Collin were Khaleesi and one of her dragons. Camille made her costume and it was fantastic!(Um, fantastic on her cute long, lanky body. Had I worn it I would have been some version of The Goddess of Willendorf. Ha!) Oh yeah, and then there was "Grampy Mophead". My ex. HAHAHAHAHA!
We trick-or-treated in the most incredible neighborhood! The houses there went above and beyond to make a magical experience. There was the Pirates of the Caribbean walk-through. The Zombie House. One driveway was completely set up like a 1970's living room, carpet, sofa, tables, chairs, lamps, even a working floor model TV! And who lived there? A creepy witch/zombie/monster family. Interacting and handing out candy. One older man, dressed like a circus Ringmaster, had a working, old fashioned popcorn cart set up in his driveway handing out fresh bags of popcorn. This neighborhood was a treasure to find and deserves a reward!
We had a wonderful night full of laughter and good cheer! Somehow, our family just always gets to that place. And for that I am eternally grateful...
Since getting more and more involved with Facebook, I have let this blog go. But I miss it terribly. I really do. My daughter, Camille, has started a very active blog and now I have the bug again!
Sometimes I sit and wonder what is exciting about my life since I left Chicago. That city was so colorful and thrilling, and my life so vibrant there that my bloggy brain got spoiled. Each day presented something thought provoking or fun to share. But I can do it here again too. I will slowly find my creativity in writing again. There's a thing I call "Blog Brain" and with it you are continuously forming posts in your head throughout the day. My kids even began suggesting to me, "Hey Mom! That's blog-worthy!" So I know I can get my mojo goin' again. I know I can. I love to write.
Another struggle I've been having is finding exactly where my photos land when I send them to my computer from my phone. Windows 10? You can have it! Why did I ever switch???
Anyway. My son and his family have been living with me since April. Long story short, they found mold in their rental and moved out quickly. What was supposed to be 2 weeks has now been months. Sadly, there is a 1% vacancy rate in Sonoma. Many of the people who own rentals are now changing them into Air B&B's. Money makers. The young families, our children, are finding the need to relocate out of the area. There is actually a mass exodus planned. It's so sad, and so wrong IMHO. This area is becoming a resort town to the max. The small town-ness is all falling away. It's pretty glitz and glamour desguised as "small town living". Families who have been here for generations are watching their children and grandchildren move away to be raised in more affordable places. Even me, I am thinking of moving away to a more financially resilient living place. And just because I'm tired of the struggle. There is no reason it has taken a young family 7 months to find a rental. And that is a 2 bedroom triplex for $1800.00 a month.
All that said, my rant, I can now get to where I was going when I started saying my son and his family were living with me. With them lives a beautiful little baby girl named Mare Albalee. Mare Albalee Birdsong to be exact. And I have had the pleasure of watching her grow. From smiling, to crawling, to jabbering, to standing. She is a willfull little delight of a child. She lights up a room.
She looks a lot like her daddy:
I've been doing a little knitting too. I just finished this sweater for Emil. It still needs buttons though Why am I so opposed to finishing? I wonder if it is related to the fact that I also hate goodbyes. I stay much longer than I ever planned places, just because I find goodbyes so painful. So if I'm at your house and I'm lingering, just tell me I can slip out the backdoor and we're all good. Ha!
Little Emil is 3 years old now!
And so what does my blog banner say? Talking about things like knitting, grandkids, and empty nesting? I kind of touched base here. Thanks for reading and please keep checking in because, I swear...
When Camille met Collin seven years ago, it was at a party in San Francisco, where they were each there as friends of friends. Though they both grew up in Sonoma their paths had never crossed until that night. Attending as guests of guests, neither of them knew many people at this party. So Camille was sitting alone on a couch when Collin approached her with a mason jar he found on a shelf, full of what looked like Happy Meal toys and said, "Do you want to play with these toys with me?" She was a little taken aback but replied, "Uh...OK..." After that they spent the rest of the evening chatting and walking on Ocean Beach together. Each one saved a little toy from that jar all these years and they became the wedding cake toppers.
Collin always told Camille that the song Galway Girl reminded him of that night. So as a gift, as a surprise for him in that moment when he, his parents and the whole bridal party were waiting for her entrance with her dad and I, her dear high school friend, Emily, sang this song to him! Not a dry eye in the house. I don't have a video of the actual song at the event, but I do have this video from the rehearsal the day before. I was privileged to be locked away with the music crew where no one else could hear. But the very sweetest thing was watching from the distance with Camille and her dad, as Collin kept peeking around the tree grinning and trying to see her. :)
So the event was an evening wedding at Collin's parents' home here in Sonoma. Mother nature and Father Sky could not have provided a more beautiful moment of weather and sunset. It was a golden late afternoon and evening. But let me start at the beginning!
All Camille's "girls" got ready together at my daughter Brooke's house. We hired someone to do hair and make-up (actually, two teams of hair and make-up people! lol) The champagne toasted, Beyonce played (Camille's favorite), and there was plentiful chatter and laughter. Camille's two best friends flew in from Brooklyn and Vermont. And then her two sisters, nieces, sister-in-laws and myself. All the boys were elsewhere. Camille texted us all early that morning with this photo and the words, "It's wedding day!"
Mother of the Bride putting on the pearls my mom gave Camille for her 18th birthday
Brooke and Camille
Shannon, Fiona and Camille
My daughter-in-laws and Baby Mare
Camille and her nieces
Camille's two big sisters and her little nieces were the Maids of Honors and the Flower Girls. All the nephews were the Ring Bearers. Collin's brother and cousin were the Groomsmen. The little girls wore specialty dresses made from etsy and carried flower fairy wands. The little boys all matched in slacks and vests, and white silk bowties from crewcuts. They ALL wore spanking new white converse!
Camille's best friend since kindergarten got ordained and married them. She wrote the most beautiful ceremony. She and Collin so gracefully blended their family traditions. We created programs so that the guests could have a clear idea of who was who as well as the meanings of the traditions.
We spent months collecting vintage china, glassware and napkins because Camille wanted her reception tables set this way. It was stunning! And fun! The catering was local, organic, and yummy comfort food. Lasagne, Eggplant Parmesan, grilled summer vegetables and Ceasar salad. Simple and really enjoyed by the guests.
The party was....a blast! It started just as the sun went down, and the beautiful lighting and Mexican Wedding Flags created a romantic and very, very fun mood. There were the traditions: father mother of the bride and groom dances, first dance, signing the katuba, cutting the cake. Camille wanted to dance to Puff the Magic Dragon, the song her father always sang to her as a child.
And then "it" happened. It all started with dancing the Hora. And the music played, and the guests held hands and laughed and danced around the bride and groom lifted high in their chairs....and then the groomsmen and other assorted friends had the bright idea...the music crescendo-ed, Camille and Collin laughing and dancing with arms in the air, the chairs swayed closer to the pool...and in they went for their first swim as husband and wife!
This blog post could have ended here. The reception could have ended here. That is if Camille was Bridezilla. But my girl, she proved what she is made of! Back in they went holding hands, and in seconds the pool was full of friends and party-goers galore. A pool full of folks in party clothes! The bride and groom changed into cut-offs and t-shirts and then the night celebrated on....it was an epic memory. xoxo
Camille got married on Sunday. many photos to come. It was a beautiful event! But right now I want to share with you my Mother-of-the-Bride toast:
"Camille, in your eyes, I was a heroine. I was the strongest and wisest person you ever knew. And though I knew I wasn't always as strong or as wise as you thought, your belief in me often kept me going. I know I put all that I had and was, into making your life a happy one.
It is so appropriate that I am giving my speech here before you cut your wedding cake. I always said that you were the dessert of my life. My fifth child. My baby. The closing parenthesis of my motherhood. How often were we teased that you were the kid at the other end of a golden umbilical cord still attached to my body? Maybe they were right, but all I knew was how much I loved being your mom. I savored your sweetness.
Collin and Camille, you were both so very young 7 years ago when you met. You have weathered some tough storms together and always found yourselves back at each other's sides. I respect you both so much for that.For knowing your deepest hearts. And now, Collin, I officially share her sweetness with you. Bring it into the home you are about to make with each other. Take good care of my girl. I love you, and welcome into our family.
Now everyone...enjoy dessert!"
I love this job, this Mother of the Bride thing. And have we ever been busy. I'm the detail queen and I think I'm driving Camille a little crazy! But what I keep telling her, "Camille. So we are dealing with (this) or (that) now, and it's a pain. Like the seating arrangement. But imagine 100 guests all milling around, feeling like this and wondering where to sit.... :)" And in the evening, after we've returned from a trip to the seamstress, or the city, she always texts me a thank you for a great day and an I love you.
Three days late. What does Rudolf Steiner say? Sleep on your thoughts and decisions for three days and things will be much more clear. That was not my intention here though. I had no intention, I had a blank space of emptiness. Your birthday was approaching and nothing came from me. My words have flat lined.
Last year when they found your truck near a campsite in Arizona, and they sent out a search party, I prayed that you had abandoned everything and hitched a ride to be with your mama, your incredible mama in her golden years. But I hear that didn't happen.
You need to check in back home. You really do, my friend. Or call me.
"Find a convenient streetlight, step out of the shade."