Time to start getting ready for one of my favorite holidays…

Less than a month away so it’s officially the season…

Día de los Muertos…November 1 and 2…Day(s) of the Dead…

I just thought I would start to set the mood…

And, hopefully, I’ll have some fun photos to commemorate the occasion…

To toast Los Muertos in style…

Stay tuned…

The Shrine

I love certain freaky-looking skulls, as you might know. This is at the Shrine of St. Joseph of the Mountains in Yarnell, Arizona, the one tourist attraction there. The larger than life-sized sculptures are reinforced concrete, built in 1939 by Felix Lucero, portraying the life of Christ. Apparently the group that commissioned it was called the Catholic Action League of Arizona but it is now a non-denominational Christian retreat center supported by donations. There is no admission cost. Read more here.

Steps lead you to the Stations of the Cross through a lovely setting of oak trees and granite boulders.

The Saints

These murals are different than the ones I usually shoot; they are at the Franciscan Renewal Center (the Casa) in lovely Scottsdale, AZ. From their website, “The Franciscan Renewal Center is located on 25 acres of beautiful desert between two Arizona landmarks: Camelback Mountain and Mummy Mountain. The grounds include a Meditation Chapel, desert walks, a labyrinth, healing garden, Blessed Sacrament Chapel, pool with whirlpool, dining room, meeting rooms and 51 private rooms with private baths.”

These two murals are new: St. Francis of Assisi and his younger protege, St. Clare of Assisi, are portrayed. I have photographed (and blogged about) the Casa grounds many times before (1, 2, 3, 4,) but it was on a recent post about murals in downtown Phoenix that the General Manager of the Casa left a comment telling me about the new murals. They were done by Hector Rios, a Los Angeles muralist and arts program director.

Aren’t they gorgeous? The beautiful pastel colors almost glow in the beautiful setting of the Casa. This is the first time, however, that I have seen St. Francis depicted without a bird or other animal.

Here are a couple of my other favorite places at the Casa.

Bridge 2


Peace Prevail on Earth

Lent 2012 (CAOK)

So, it’s Lent now. And people keep asking me what I’m giving up. Nothing. I was brought up as a Lutheran and we never did that. I understand why some people do it, to make some sort of sacrifice, but I like another tradition of Lent better…almsgiving. “It is a sign of our care for those in need and an expression of our gratitude for all that God has given to us” (from here).

My blogging friend, Kelli, has a Lenten tradition, called Calculated Acts of Kindness (CAOK) that she observes every year. She is a very talented person, who cooks, sews, bakes, knits, crafts, so she gives gifts of herself all year long but does make a special calculated effort during Lent to do even more. I had already decided to do something along those lines this year and I was thinking of writing some notes to people I’ve been out of touch with or sending cards to people I’ve been thinking of or sending some mailart, particularly some photos I’ve taken, to various friends and family…at least one correspondence a day for 46 days. Therefore, I was surprised when I read her blog yesterday and saw that she, too, is concentrating on correspondence this Lent…sending a thank you note to someone she appreciates, keeping in touch with someone she misses…you get the idea. And who doesn’t like to get mail or a handwritten note now and then.

Of course, it’s nice to do things for others any time of the year and I’m sure that we all do but, for me, it seems beneficial to make a concerted effort for these 46 days, to give up a little of my time and a tiny bit of effort, to let someone know I’m thinking of them. You can grab Kelli’s CAOK button if you want to participate.

CAOK Button

Says Father Rodney E. Thibault,“We are only going to get out of Lent what we put into it. When we are that joyful giver, we are going to be joyfully rewarded” (from here).

And don’t forget my giveaway, there are still a couple days left to enter. The more, the merrier!

*My hibiscus is loving the mild winter, early spring and sprouting tons of buds, blooms, and flowers.

Day of the Dead

I’m posting this just as it becomes Halloween. Halloween and the Day of the Dead are not related but they both involve the Christian All Saints’ Day (on November 1) and All Souls’ Day (on November 2). In a city like Phoenix, with a strong Mexican tradition, Halloween and Día de los Muertos sort of get thrown together. In most regions of Mexico, November 1 honors children and infants, whereas deceased adults are honored on November 2. This is indicated by generally referring to November 1 mainly as Día de los Inocentes (“Day of the Innocents”)  and November 2 as Día de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead”). It’s not really a sad event but more of a celebration of past lives and it’s not supposed to be a scary day either but some people not familiar with the holiday do find the skulls and skeletons a little creepy. But you probably know all this…

I love Day of the Dead art so I was happy to notice this sculpture on a business just about a 1/2 mile from my house. Since it’s on a busy street and also on the roof of the building, I could never get a good look at it while driving by and I thought it was a pioneer woman or something.

That didn’t make sense because it’s on a Mexican tile business.

Finally, one day I got a good look as I was able to slow down while passing by.

Cool! A Day of the Dead sculpture close to home! You can imagine my excitement.

I hope you didn’t get too scared, haha. I know I said it’s not supposed to be a spooky holiday but I couldn’t resist.

I didn’t get to any official celebrations of Day of the Dead this weekend but I did go back to Calle 16, which I wrote about again a few days ago (the first photo is from there). Today there were no cars so I was able to get some unobstructed views of the murals portraying Day of the Dead art.

She’s really beautiful, I think.

And he’s pretty handsome (both by Lalo Cota). These 2 additional murals by Lalo that I just recently photographed and blogged about are some of my favorites.

Here’s another shot at Calle 16, taken today.

The best part of all this is that Phoenix is pretty much filled with Day of the Dead art all year long.

So…Happy Halloween or Feliz Día de los Muertos, whichever you celebrate…or both. I did read an article where some people were claiming you should not wish someone a Happy Day of the Dead but several other people, including Mexicans, said they do it. So…

Sugar Skulls by Irma Sanchez at Perc Up, a local coffeehouse.