Thanksgiving brings out thoughts of good deeds and good people in my life…too many to count in my ten fingers and ten toes combined. This Thanksgiving, I give honor to an untiring and dedicated lady who has always been here for me especially when the bad and sad times comes. She is not articulate or smart in today’s high tech world but she is your good old fashioned supportive person. We are all blessed by her presence in our lives.
She has a green thumb and can revive an almost dying plant. Her garden is blooming and the fruits, vegetables and herbs are happily supplying the kitchen. She has an invisible wand that seemed to whip up amazingly delicious dishes at a moment’s notice. Her talent as a wife, mother, grandma and auntie is as endless as her title. At times I catch her doubling as a dog groomer to the little four legged residents of her household. Other times, she is the seamstress especially on last minute alteration. I sat countless times in her kitchen watching her bake bread pudding and sipping coffee while she merrily multitask shuttling from the stove to the oven in between whipping up another dessert in time for the family dinner and all the time chatting with me. I am awed by the ease of her performance. If I will attempt to do this, I am sure there will be missing ingredients and the kitchen will be a big mess not to mention dinner will not be on time. It is always a delight to spend time with this sweet and unassuming lady I fondly call Mama Edna, my auntie. I am sharing my blessings and adulation long overdue. Here is Edna Labayen Garcia.
Rock climbing or Mountain climbing are intertwined and the difference is very confusing to most of us. Mountain climbing is also known as Mountaineering or Alpinism and Rock Climbing is known as Scaling. A person climb up and down a rock formation or a rock wall. It is part of Mountain Climbing that enables the climber to reach the peak.
Rock Climbing has always been associated with Mountaineering but has managed to separate itself and obtain its own identity. It had gained a foothold in the United States and soon was set apart as a Sport on its own and gained its own followers that continue to increase over time. It is no longer viewed as a trivial pursuit in comparison to the success of summiting a mountain. The United States led the way in the 60′s and 70′s to bring Rock Climbing in the spotlight because of the Yosemite Climbers. These dedicated climbers pushed the limits of Aid Climbing and Free Climbing. As this sport matured, the difficulty rose and became more challenging. Oddly, the length of the cutting edge climbs gradually shortened and the climbers focused on doing harder and harder free routes which led to harder individual moves. Due to this, the most famous routes became short, single free climbs of fierce difficulty.
I remember trying my hand on this with the coaching of a friend who was an accomplished Mountain Climber and my first lesson was a fairly decent rock climb by Kai Tak Airport in Hongkong when I lived there. He led the way and I struggled behind him. It was winter time but I was sweating, huffing and spewing cold air through my nose that made me looked like a dragon in distress. Of course I cussed all the way up. I recalled asking my friend to help me up and all I heard from the top was “the idea of Rock Climbing is not to be pulled like a sack of potato”! I decided right then while dangling half way those rugged rocks and crevices that this was not for me. That I can salvage our friendship if we can just continue to be diving buddies rather than climbing buddies.
While going through recent Halloween photos, I found one of my niece Eia Garcia Ellsworth which looked eerie by accident. She looked like she was holding a scary little man! The fact is, this little guy is hand drawn in the closet door tossing a ball (as in basketball player). Her costume and the accidental shot makes this photo eerily different.
My family just celebrated All Saints Day followed by All Soul’s Day. From conversations with our elders, I gathered that tonight even before midnight strike, we are into All Soul’s Day celebration already, a bit confusing especially to the young members. For the sake of this tradition that we (and most Filipinos back home in the Philippines) uphold and revere, I looked into and talked with our well respected elders and found out what this Feast really is all about. As a kid all I knew was that this days (Nov. 1 and Nov. 2) meant being dragged to visit the graveyard of family members long gone and eating lots of traditional goodies especially made for this day. This is an official holiday of the Catholic Calendar. It has been engrained in my young mind that this day was for remembrance of loved ones. As I ventured outside of my country, I associated this with Trick or Treat and donning costumes and mask. Nevertheless, my family have stayed close to traditions and practices we have back home.
The ancient Pagan called All Soul’s Day the Festival of the Dead and believed that the souls of the dead comes back to partake in our meals. Some family members would set the table to include their dearly departed loved ones. The practice of putting lighted candles on the windows symbolizes their belief to guide the souls in the dark.
The Catholics on the other hand celebrated All Soul’s Day with a requiem mass. This practice is owed to a monk of the 7th century who decided to offer mass on the day after Pentecost for their deceased community members. However, the choice of Nov. 2 is attributed to St. Odilo, the 5th Abbot of Cluny, city of France. The practice then was to continue the honor and celebration of All Saint’s Day all through All Soul’s Day.
The modern view of death by some is partly derived from Pre-Hispanic times. The Aztecs played a very important role in developing this tradition. They believed that a dead person passes through nine phases before reaching Mictlan, their final resting place which has been predestined at birth according to the type of death rather than the type of life they lived. There are people or group of people till today that uphold this belief.
Tonight as we celebrate, we shared portions of our loved ones favorite delicacies with lighted candles alongside the offerings and overlooked by the Infant Jesus laid in a weaker basket. The players at the mahjong table will keep vigil. Young members will hear repeated stories again about their great grandparents and other family members. There will be laughter and a little sadness in remembering and missing those that have left us. For those with vivid memories of them, they will be sadder than the others.
I love to spend time at my brother’s get away in our farm in the Philippines, a cottage outside the City. It is a back to nature existence complete with chickens running around the yard, goats, pigs and “carabao” ( water buffalo ) which can be cited plowing the field. Fruit trees and vegetable garden complete the farm scene. Depending where the wind blows, one can smell evidence of the two and four legged residence. For transients like myself, I found it intrusive and likened it to the smell of horse’s manure in a ranch. However, those that lived around the farm attribute this trademark smell as part of nature and a prerequisite to farm life.
Dawn in the cottage comes alive with the animal’s frenzy movement and noise in concert that seemed to create a live alarm clock. With freshly brewed coffee, I used to sit on the porch looking out to the field and watching dawn slowly dissipate into another day. Shortly after, the sun will slowly rise and life begins again in my little world tucked away in the middle of the sugarcane field not far from City life.
My son Rick is running the Javelina Jundred 100 miles in Arizona today. This is the 6th years he’s running this event but this time not as a pacer but the runner and being paced by his wife, Masha on the last 30 miles to finish. I used to worry sick whenever he is doing this. I just can’t imagine how someone can run continuously especially in the dark of night. My imagination always play tricks and scares me with vision of wild animals (bears, mountain lions, snakes, etc.). I will never get used to this. A little comfort is that Rick now has a running mate, his wife Masha. As I turn in tonight, I pray that they will be safe and there will be stars to make the night beautiful.