Monday, November 25, 2019

ARBICO Thanksgiving 2019

Happy Thanksgiving banner with autumn leaves

A woman in a black top holding a crock pot and leaning on another on a table.
Jess - Marketing
A man with grey hair, dark sunglasses and a red shirt standing under a ramada
Greg - Sales
A woman with dark hair and a black top standing behind a table of food and holding a tray of mac and cheese.
Christina - Shipping
This past Friday, ARBICO celebrated its annual Thanksgiving Potluck only a few minutes away from our offices at beautiful Catalina State Park (we go there every year and never tire of it).  The grandeur of the setting was only matched by the quality of  the food and camaraderie. Here are some of our team proudly showing their food contribution and others just happily enjoying the day.

A woman with wavy brown hair wearing a black shirt and a green plaid vest holding a red plastic bowl full of salad.
Taylor - Sales 

A dark-haired woman in a grey shirt standing in front of a table full of beverages. There are trees, mountains and clouds in the background.
Caitlin - Office 
A man with a blue baseball hat and black shirt with his hands in a bowl of lettuce.
Big Mike - Insectary
Did you know that there used to be a tradition of dressing in costumes for Thanksgiving? I know I didn't. A hundred years ago this really was a thing. It seems
like a somewhat creepier version of trick or treat.
This article explains this lost event and has some great pictures. If you want other unusual Thanksgiving trivia to pass around the dinner table, this short article can provide that.

A woman with long, dark, wavy hair wearing glasses and a long-sleeved black shirt. She is holding the lid of a crockpot. The black crockpot is sitting on a table with a red and white checked tablecloth.
Anissa - Marketing


Submitted by Pam
A group of 5 woman and 2 man sitting at table with a red and white checked tablecloth. There are trees and clouds in the background.
The Insectary Crew

A gif of 2 images - one is a turkey prepared to cook and the other is a live turkey on a skateboard.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Thanksgiving You-Might-Want-To-Dos

A straw cone-shaped basket with fruits and vegetables spilling from it.There is so much hullabaloo around Thanksgiving – what to cook, how to cook it, who to invite, how to deal with them, how to avoid kitchen disasters and so on and so on. There are endless avenues for advice online, in videos and in family lore.  Most of it is a bunch of hooey (except maybe the family lore part). It’s really a pretty simple process to create the meal: put the turkey in the oven, prepare the side dishes while it’s cooking (you have hours, after all), take the turkey out, put in the rolls while the turkey is being carved and then put in the pies. Or, if you want your pies quicker, stick them in the oven before the turkey – either way one dish will have a nice, preheated oven to get the second dish going. Voila – your dinner is done! People worry overly much about the food when it is really the things outside the kitchen realm that can cause the day to go haywire. Here are some suggestions to smooth your day:

A group of dark-haired watching a TV in front of a white wall.
Get some DVDs – Keeping a horde of youngsters occupied while you’re mashing potatoes and drinking wine can be challenging. Give them a space of their own and some movies to watch. You don’t need to get a bunch; younger kids will happily watch the same movies over and over (this article explains why). Hit up Redbox or that one guy you know who has, like, 300 DVDs for no apparent reason. And, yes, there is Netflix, but taking the endless chunks of time necessary to find something for them to watch is just not practical on Thanksgiving Day. If a streaming service is how you want to go, I suggest VUDU. With them, you are able to pick movies ahead of time and watch them when you’re ready. If you’re going the Redbox route, be aware that they often run out of movies (especially the most popular ones), which can be super-annoying. You should plan to get to the box ahead of the Wednesday-Thursday rush. Basic DVD players are quite cheap these days (here’s one for $19.98 at Walmart); so go ahead and get one for that spare room.

A table full of Thanksgiving and a black and white dog on his hind legs begging for some.
Prep your house – You should prepare your home for guests well before they arrive. Declutter everywhere, store away breakables and other treasured items and add work space in the kitchen and eating space wherever (this article has some excellent ideas) Adult-proofing a house is as important as child-proofing – grown-ups will also spill, put drinks on every surface and possibly knock over Aunt Vera’s crystal vase in a fit of  excitement during the game. If there are smokers among your guests, make it clear when and where smoking is acceptable to you. If you want them to go outside, then provide them a place to sit and a spot to leave their butts (otherwise they may trample the flowerbed and toss butts in your neighbor’s yard). If you have pets, consider where you want them to be during the gathering. Some are a natural part of the busy day, others may need to be separated. If you pet can’t be outside, don’t let them wander around while your guests are there. “Don’t let Roscoe out” never works – he will make his escape when your cousin Bill is hauling in the beer or little Peggy answers the doorbell. And then the chase is on. Here is one of the many articles with tips on Thanksgiving with dogs.

In the foreground there is a view of the Thanksgiving goodies inside a shopping cart, in the background is a blurred out view of a grocery store aisle.
Plan to shop more than once – Go early (at least the weekend before), get the
essentials and plan to go back to get those things you forgot. Because, unless preparedness is your superpower, something will be forgotten. As soon as you say to yourself, “I’m pretty sure I have that” or “There’s always some in the fridge” you are doomed – those are the things you’ll need to go back for. Choose your poison as far as what day you should return on; unless you shop at 3 am, stores will be crowded no matter what. I, personally, avoid the Wednesday before. Black Friday shopping mayhem has nothing on The-Day-Before-Thanksgiving mayhem. In this article, they argue that Tuesday is the worst day.

A view of people's legs as they are stand in line at a store. One man is holding a shopping basket full of toilet paper.Stock up on non-food items: Again, there are lots of articles online that list the common items people forget. But there are so many things that do not appear on these lists that, if considered, can save the day. These include baby wipes (great for general Thanksgiving stickiness), dish soap, dog food, trash bags and Grandpa’s heart medication. Are you going elsewhere this year and would like to bring something besides a boring bottle of whatever? I don’t know any household that wouldn’t be grateful for some extra toilet paper or aluminum foil. And the bottle of whatever, of course.

Closeup of a pug dog with an exaggerated look of surprise as he looks at a bathroom scale. Caption reads, "That look when you get on the scale after eating Thanksgiving dinner".
Add caption
Take away the bathroom scale: I mean this both literally and figuratively. Thanksgiving is no time to subject anyone to the bathroom scale’s silent judging. Everyone knows that the traditional Thanksgiving dinner is fattening – the menu has been the same for how many years? Don’t let the joy of the gathering be sabotaged by food negativity. Just as you would steer people away from contentious political topics, do not allow comments on weight, healthy vs unhealthy food or even “I’ll start dieting tomorrow”. Likewise, do not push food on anyone. Let Aunt Sophie do her own calorie-counting, food-averse thing all by herself. Without a bathroom scale to validate her worst fears. I agree wholeheartedly with what this man has to say about this subject; I wish I had his humor-writing skills. And the subtitle is the best of 2019.

A table full of traditional Thanksgiving food and a bottle of Jack Daniel's whiskey.Plan to remember: Above all else (yes, even the food) Thanksgiving is all about being thankful for the people in our lives. Plan to acknowledge those that will not be at your table this year. I lost someone very dear to me this past week, and you can be sure he will be at our table in spirit. But, remembering is not just for those who’ve passed. Is there someone who just plain can’t make it? A doctor on duty? A Marine deployed overseas? A student who can’t afford to travel? Remember them: add something to the meal or day that he/she particularly liked (Carmen’s favorite pie); root for his/her team (especially satisfying  if it annoys your brother John); put on that parade while you’re stuffing the bird – Grandma always liked to watch it. Sometime on Thursday, no matter how disgusting I find it to be, we will be drinking some Jack Daniels in remembrance of Dave. Because he liked it.

This is a turkey dancing as gravy is poured over it.
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.                                                   

Submitted by Pam             

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Seeing The Future In The Past: Native American Women And Science

A woman with long dark hair and a black hat holding up a white sign with red lettering. It says "Idigenous women will lead us forward" . Taken at the International Woman's Day 2019 March in Tucson, AZ. Photo by Dulcey Lima on Unsplash.
Tohono O'odham Woman - Tucson, AZ  2019
Since 1990, Americans have recognized November as Native American Heritage Month. In this piece, I am going to maintain the respectful acknowledgement that this calls for. I do this despite the recent proclamation that November will now be called,National American History and Founders Month.  I mean, c’mon…

I arrive at my topic today via a suggestion from a colleague, Anissa. Our Anissa is an active member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. The Yaquis (or Yo’emen) have lived in our part of southern Arizona and neighboring northern Mexico since at least 552 AD (for their history as told by the tribal historian, go here). Of course, there was no US/Mexico border then and, to this day, Yaquis traditionally disregard it as an abstract construct. They maintain communities on both sides and travel back and forth at will. For obvious good reasons, Anissa is proud of her deep-rooted heritage and wholeheartedly participates in tribal life. She especially loves to watch the Deer Dancer, an ancient and moving experience (here is a video). Beyond her indigenous roots, Anissa is very much a modern, educated and forward-thinking woman. Her degree in Bio-Engineering no doubt played a part in suggesting I write about Native American women scientists.

A bare-chested man with a deer headress and a gourd rattle in each hand leaping from the desert floor.A Yaqui Deer Dancer.  Photo by David Hinojos.
Yaqui Deer Dancer
Native Americans and scientists may not seem a natural pairing to many people, but let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, there a great many things that were invented or developed by native peoples long before Columbus was anywhere near our continent. Some of the things that are an integral part of our lives today we owe to the indigenous scientists of the American continent. A short list would include anaesthetic, chocolate, aspirin, hammocks, chewing gum and gold plating. As it turned out, they may have been better off without the gold plating. Europeans, unfamiliar with the concept of plating, believed that everything glittery was solid gold and their gold fever outweighed the actual gold resources. This led to dire consequences for those that could not produce the desired, unreasonable amount. Native Americans also developed the agriculture for many foods that are now essential resources world-wide. The very short list of these includes potatoes, corn, beans, chili peppers and squash. The peoples that gave all these things to the rest of the world may not have had labs to work in or data to input, but they were
scientists nonetheless.
A drawing of several women in bucksKins tending to their garden. There are thatch buildings in the background.
Women played a huge role in ancient contributions to the sciences. They were the ones who cared for and fed the families and knew how, where and when to do so. In more modern times, Native American women have stepped forward to lead their communities. Here are a couple of exceptional ladies from the not-so-distant past:

A portrait of a woman with short brown hair in a green dress - Mary Golda Ross.
Mary Golda Ross

Mary Golda Ross (1908-2008) – Engineer/Cherokee – This figure in US aviation history was hidden from public acclaim for decades. A good portion of this was, of course, because she was a woman of color; but much of her work was (and still remains) classified. Complicated math came easy to her and she put this skill to good use developing fighter planes during WWII and, later, to getting Man to space. Before college, she went to Cherokee schools and gave credit to their cultural insistence on equal education for boys and girls for her initial push towards STEM. For more on this fascinating lady, here is a short article – it also contains a fun video of her on a game show back in the day. One more thing: She has her own Google Doodle.

An portrait from the late 1800's of a woman with swept-up dark hair and a high-collared dark dress. Susan La Flesche Picotte.
Susan La Flesche Picotte
Susan La Flesche Picotte (1865-1915) – Doctor/Omaha – This pioneering woman was the first Native American woman to earn a medical degree in the United States, doing so at the age of 24. The daughter of the last recognized chief of the Omaha (Joseph La Flesche, aka Iron Eye), she was inspired by the lack of and racist quality of health care among her people. After earning her degree,she worked tirelessly on the reservation as its only doctor, often serving over 1,000 patients. In time, she and her husband opened the first private hospital on a reservation. She died too young at 50, but she remains beloved in her community.

A woman with dark hair and glasses wearing a grey turtleneck and a colorful pendant. Rosalyn LaPier
Roslyn LaPier
These women are stand-outs for their intellect and dedication to learning. They are a strong link to the same type of modern Native American woman in the scientific field today. For Anissa (who is currently working on her Master’s in Plant Biology), I have chosen to highlight the following women who are reclaiming native plants for their cultural significance, health benefits and food security:

Rosalyn LaPierBlackfeet Nation – She researches Ethnobotany and Ethnopharmacology, specifically the medicinal qualities of plants and Native American beliefs. Dr. LaPier has also been a researcher at the Harvard School of Divinity, where she wrote this interesting and edifying article on science and religion in Native American cultures. If that is not enough, she is also an environmental activist and speaker. Here is a video of her speaking at the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science 2017 conference.

A close-up of a woman with grey hair and dangly bead earrings in a colorful sweater. Robin Wall Kimmerer
Robin Wall Kimmerer
Robin Wall. KimmererCitizen Potawatomi Nation – The list of things this dynamic woman researches and teaches is way too long for me to do it justice by summarizing it. But, I’ll do my best: Dr. Kimmerer studies the role of ecological knowledge in ecological restoration, the ecology and restoration of culturally significant plants and (whew!) integrating scientific tools and indigenous philosophy to benefit the people and the land. She also the founding director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, which creates programs that use a combination of traditional science and indigenous knowledge to move towards a shared goal of sustainability. And she researches mosses. I am sure I’ve missed something; I encourage you to learn more about her here.

A brunette woman standing in a field with a large basket full of plants. There is a lake in the background, Linda Black Elk
Linda Black Elk
Linda Black ElkCatawba Nation – This ethnobotanist, restoration ecologist and activist is truly a 21st century woman. She has many YouTube videos and regularly posts articles online. In this way, her voice carries beyond the Standing Rock Reservation, where she lives with her family, and Sitting Bull College where she teaches. She is the Ethnobotanist for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and is very active in promoting tribal food sovereignty and better health through the use of native plants. Lately, she has been vocal and involved in the ongoing fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Here she is talking about the spirits in plants.

A black and white clip from the Doctor Who TV series. A man in the background is asking a woman in the front," What's a girl like you doing in a job like this?"For all of these strong women, there are others that are equally strong but whose voices are never heard. There are also many dazzlingly successful Native American men. Nevertheless, the vast majority of the traditional guardians of the land we call home are still stymied by poverty, prejudice and lack of opportunities. During this month especially, take some time to appreciate what came before us Europeans and open your mind to those who are with us today.

Submitted by Pam

Friday, November 8, 2019

Winter is Coming – And The Bugs Know It

A low and long white house, lighted from inside. It sits on a hill with storm clouds bearing down. Photo by Dorin Vancea on Unsplash.
You may think that the worst of your insect worries are gone now that we are heading to winter; I’d like to suggest that you reconsider that notion. Late fall and early winter bring a whole slew of new characters into play and these insect pests can be just as pesky and potentially dangerous as those warm weather bugs. With the extreme weather predicted for much of the US in the next week, the time to address pests is now.

A close-up of a ladybug on a yellow autumn leaf.

It is very tempting to just pack insect worries away with the swimsuits, but this no-action plan can have some unpleasant consequences. For the most part, insects that are around in the winter are hibernating out of sight and not dead from the cold. Mosquito eggs, for instance, can survive in frozen water.  Granted, there is some cold weather die-off, but many more have found warm havens. Often, they do a little mating while they’re at it, so that they have nice fat bundles of babies when spring arrives. In other words, the numbers that go into a house can be far less than what will come out in the spring. A spring spider infestation could take all the pleasure out of those long-awaited warm days and a bumper crop of blood-suckers can exponentially increase your chances of exposure to dangerous diseases. So, when you batten down your hatches against the weather, take some extra time to be sure that you have kept insect pests out.

Closeup of many grayish stink bugs on a pumpkin.
Stink bugs on a pumpkin
Many participants in the Fall Crawl of insects are brazen return visitors. These include Asian lady beetles (not to be mistaken with plain old ladybugs), boxelder beetles and stink bugs, all of which congregate in swarms on walls and screens of homes and other buildings. If they are in your neighborhood, they are hard to miss. They are also hard to control, especially in the adult stage and in such large numbers. But, Asian lady beetles and stink bugs are invasive species (the boxelder is a homegrown troublemaker), so you will want to stop them if you can. Your best course of action if they are knocking on your door is to not let them in. Whatever you do, don’t attempt to squash your way out of an infestation of Asian lady beetles or stink bugs, both species emit a noxious odor when threatened. Your best weapon in this war is a vacuum cleaner – suck up any and all you can find. Here are some suggestions on ways you can seal out bugs.

Stacked firework in an black iron frame with a roaring fire in the fireplace in the background-the perfect thing for a chilly November night.Not all insect pests are as obvious as those mentioned above, many find ways to smuggle themselves into the cozy confines of your home. Before you dig out those boxes of winter clothing, oversized platters for Thanksgiving or trunks of Christmas ornaments, consider what you may be bringing into your home with them. Give everything a quick inspection before moving or relocating it. The following are some useful steps to avoid transporting unwelcome guests:

Store firewood at least three feet from your house. It may mean a chilly wood retrieval trip, but it will deter insects from making that same chilly jaunt into the house. If it’s placed too close to or up against the house, you give burrowing pests a platform to get busy on your brick or woodwork. If you can keep it off the ground, that's even better. It will make the wood less accessible to termites and other soil-dwelling pests. Once you bring the wood inside, use it within 48 hours; storing it any longer can just encourage already-inside pests to set up house.

Glass jars with silver lids on gray pantry shelves-no bugs are getting in here.
Pantry pests can arrive to your home in groceries and other packages. During the holidays we bring a lot of this inside. Shake out all bags before storing them or putting them in your trash can. Just as their name indicates, pantry pests can happily live in pantries and other storage. If you head down into the cellar or out to the garage to fetch some of the goodies you put up in the summer, keep an eye out for anything that may be nesting there (or attaching itself to your clothing to get inside). Here are some products that can help with these type of pests.

Standing water is an insect magnet. Eliminate it inside and out. There does not have to be much for an insect to take an interest – even the condensation from an appliance is enough.

A closeup of an antRecycling and trash bins in garages, attached to or too close to the house can also be insect beacons. Move them away from the house and keep them as clean as possible. Ants, especially, can go undetected until they use a scent trail to call in their whole colony. Then you’ve got a fight on your hands.

This is an excellent time of year to remove debris and cut back branches that make contact with your house. It is an easy insect commute from the branch to the house.

Two children and a man dragging a large evergreen tree towards a white house with a red door.
Now, let’s talk Christmas trees: Some people are never-plastic tree people and others are diehard artificialists. If you are still in the middle and insects give you the creeps, you may want to go fake. There are many insects commonly found on and in trees that will dislodge themselves and try to make your nice, warm home their nice warm home. It is a common practice for the Christmas tree industry to spray highly toxic insecticides (although many are moving away from this) on their trees, but this spraying takes place in the spring and summer; it is quite possible for insects to find their way back in before Christmas. Some tree lots have shakers, which aim to dislodge any intruders, but I wouldn’t depend on that too much as many pests will be inside the bark holding on tightly. If you are taking a tree from the forest, you are quite likely bringing home more than memories. A small, live tree that you can easily inspect for pests is the surest way to get an insect-free evergreen. Plus, when you plant it outside after the holiday, you are doing a small favor to the environment. This article lists some of the more common Christmas tree pests (a tree can have 25,000 bugs!), how to stop them and some preventative measures you can take before bringing the tree in. They recommend Diatomaceous Earth and Neem Oil-based sprays, which we have here and here. In some part of the country, there is a real worry that the invasive Spotted Lanternfly may be spread through Christmas trees. Read more about that here.
A cartoon of red ants carrying green leaves walking along a branch. There is a black spider under the branch and a bright yellow background.
There are, of course, mammal pests that wiggle their way into homes. Rodents of all kinds prefer a toasty house to a drafty den. But, if you take the steps to seal and protect your home from insects, you will be doing a great deal to discourage furry intruders as well.

Stay warm and pest free (not counting relatives)!

Submitted by Pam

Friday, November 1, 2019

Magic, Memory and Art in Symbols of the Day of the Dead

A giant bedazzled skull with a skeleton on top being pulled by costumed people. All Soul's Procession, Tucson AZ
Last year at this time, I wrote a blog on the history and culture behind the Méxican Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations on November 1-2. My position on this topic is unchanged: I believe that any celebration is made deeper and more fulfilling by understanding and appreciating its roots. For this reason, I am expanding on last year's blog and looking at some of the symbols of the Day of the Dead. In celebrating this special occassion, the hope and belief is that loved ones who have passed away will come back for a quick visit and most of the icons surrounding this celebration are an effort to entice them to do just that.

A view of a colorful ofrenda. There is a black and white portrait in the middle with many yellow flowers and food on a purple cloth.
An Ofrenda
Most Americans outside of the Méxican community have probably not seen an ofrenda before, but they are an essential part of traditional Day of the Dead celebrations. These displays are set up to honor and remember loved ones who have passed. Ofrendas can vary wildly - they can be over-the-top big and elaborate or can take up a small corner in a family home, but the purpose of most of the items displayed remain constant (here are some really cool ones). Within these key elements are items that have become recognizable to the population at large. There are other elements that are regionally specific and many, like the puppy, have deep roots in Mesoamerica and are of special importance to indigenous communities. The mystically magical themes of Day of the Dead are all tied to those ancient people of the region. Modern México brings the Art to the party – as visual enticement to the spirits and because everything is just more fun when it comes colorfully decorated.

People lin candlelight gathered at a gravesite. There are flowers and skull decorations around it.
Gravesite  Gathering
Every true ofrenda includes a nod to the four elements of water, fire, earth and wind. These items are often are laid out in a cross to show the cardinal directions and guide the spirits (this cross can also be interpreted as one of the many uniquely Méxican Catholic-Pagan mash-ups).

Water is left out for the spirits to quench their thirst after their long journey from the Afterlife. Liquor or beer may also show up, if that was the target spirit’s preferred thirst-quencher.

Candles are the fire – they represent hope and faith but are also signal fires guiding spirits on their way. The number of candles can show how many souls are being welcomed and the colors of the candles have meanings as well. Candles also appear outside the ofrenda; they can be seen marking paths to homes or in graveyards to form a spirit runway for them to see the route back home.

A closeup of a Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead) roll. It is decorated with a red skull on top and sits on a pink cloth.
Pan de Muerto
Earth is represented by the earthly need and pleasure of food. The food being offered can be the favorites of a beloved ancestor (perhaps candy for a lost child) or regionally traditional dishes. The spirits cannot eat the food, of course, but it is believed that they can enjoy the sight and smell of it and remember its taste fondly. Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead) is ubiquitous on ofrendas and has become popular all over North America. These sweetish, semi-spherical rolls or loaves are typically decorated with skulls, bones and the like. Want to create some traditional Day of the Dead food? Look here.

Color Papel Picado strung from a white building under a bright blue sky. By Bernard Borcas.
Papel Picado
Colorful Papel Picado (Pecked Paper) represents wind. You have probably seen this in a Méxican restaurant or two, but is much more than a pretty banner. Although these banners are used in other celebrations, for the Day of the Dead the colors blowing in the wind stand for important cultural values: orange for mourning, purple for Catholicism, red for warriors and women who die in childbirth, green for young people, white for little children, yellow for the elderly and black for death or the underworld. Other times, the colors are simply the green, white and red of the Méxican flag. As the Papel Picados flutter in the wind, they send welcomes, hopes, prayers and pride out into the universe.

Items such as portraits and cups are commonly seen on ofrendas throughout the region. Others are seldom seen outside of certain parts of México. Here is an interesting list of some of those. But, there are two symbols whose reach extends beyond the ofrendas, into the graveyards and streets and across North America and beyond – Marigold flowers and Sugar Skulls:

A woman surrounded by tall marigold plants. She has a large basket on her back that is held on by a strap across her head.
Marigold Harvest
Marigolds (or the Cempasúchil in México) are also known as Flor de los Muertos (Flower of the Dead). These vibrantly colored, fragrant flowers have been cherished in México since ancient times. The Aztecs attributed both mystical and medicinal qualities to this flower and used them in celebrations of the dead way back then. When the Spaniards arrived in the 1500s, they sent marigold seeds back to Europe with other appropriated goods. Like many of the other plants they sent from México, marigolds were a hit and are now a part of cultures far removed from this hemisphere (go here for a short read on this and some lovely marigold field pictures). The appeal of marigolds has not abated and today their strong scent and bright colors are seen as a beacon to guide spirits home and, because they bloom at this time of year, they are readily available for every seasonal decoration. These traditional blooms have spawned a million flower ideas, including the ever-popular paper flowers.

Close up of a woman white black and purple braids and an elaborately painted face. La Muerta by Fer Gomez on Unsplash.
La Muerta
A collection of colorful Sugar Skulls on a white background.Sugar Skulls are little confections that are traditional gifts for children (living and dead) and their bright, beautiful and whimsical decorations are meant to appeal to the playful nature of children. Like marigolds, they are on ofrendas and everywhere else. Sugar Skulls, along with La Catrina and her over-sized hat, have spawned endless variations. Here in Tucson, we even have an indoor football team named the Tucson Sugar Skulls. Full Disclosure: I’m a sucker for a good skeleton design.If you want to try your hand in making some,  here is a video.

Flashing images of different skeleton faces. Gif by gyfycat.comMéxicans are not the only people to believe that the divide between this world and the next thins out in the next few days, Celtic peoples thought so 2,000 years ago. Modern Halloween and the Catholic observance of All Soul’s Day both have roots in these ancient beliefs. So, take some time over this weekend to remember those you’ve loved and lost. You never know who may be waiting on the other side to come visit.

Submitted by Pam

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