I spent the morning finishing the sitting area in front of my studio. I put another row of pavers in and added a small “Tata patio” in front of them. My grandfather had a patio he built from river rock he collected from the nearest river in Morenci, El Aguila. I never asked him when, but I know he used to pan for gold there during the Depression so he may have brought the rocks then. he probably brought them on a burro because he didn’t have a car. The stones were polished by his children and grandchildren as we played on the patio under the mora tree. My “Tata” patio is a small but fitting tribute to him.
I hosted a small gathering yesterday of comadres, friends, and poets. It was the first time in three years that I felt like having a party. My dad had his last heart attack in December, the week before we were hosting our annual tamalada. My Morenci girlfriends and I were preparing the masa, mole, and carne when I got the call he was being rushed to the hospital. Three days later, he died and I was caught up in funeral preparations, contacting family, writing a eulogy, and an obituary. The tamalada my husband and I had hosted for 20 years was postponed until January. Needless to say I wasn’t in a party mood but the fixings for the tamales were in the freezer and tamales had to be made.
In the ensuing years, I couldn’t bring myself to continue the tradition of our annual tamalada or think about having a party. We made tamales but it was only my husband, Kurt, and my Morenci friend, Shirley, and I. For my 70th birthday this year, I toyed with the idea of a party but didn’t feel up to it. That was last month. This month I was ready and sent out invitations before I could decide not to.
I had a lot to celebrate. Sowing the Seeds, my writing collective is 13 years old this year. Shirley and I, friends since fourth grade turned 70 this year. We had a wonderful poetry workshop presented by friend, Pam Uschuk for Sowing the Seeds. Carmen Calatayud, fellow moderator for Poets Responding to SB 1070 and her husband Ricardo were in town visiting from Washington, D.C. it was the first time I’d met her but through our Facebook connection, I felt like I’d known her for a long time.
After sharing a pot luck dinner al fresco on the long portal overlooking the pool garden, we gathered in the living room and shared poetry. A wonderful floricanto! We started out with Rosalie, a comadre from Sowing the Seeds who read her poem selected by the moderators of Poets Responding to SB 1070 to showcase on La Bloga this past Tuesday. Another comadre, Gail, read her latest poem. Bill Pitt Root, Pam’s husband, read his translation of a Neruda poem from his book of translations, Sublime Blue. Pam read a poem dedicated to mothers from her latest book, Wild in the Plaza of Memory. Carmen read a poem from her book, In Company of Spirits. Her husband Ricardo read a poem dedicated to his mother that he wrote in an airport on the trip out here. I read my latest poem, written in Pam’s workshop, “The Proof is in the Food.”
It was a memorable evening and I enjoyed it immensely. I think that maybe now I can again have a tamalada this year.
The presentation I did at the Pinal County Historical Society Museum on el Día de los Muertos went very well. I was pleased that 45 people attended. Most of them had heard of the holiday but the majority didn’t know much about it. I’m glad that I took the approach that I did to share information about it because afterward, many people came up to thank me because they understood what it was about.
I decided to use calaca (skull) makeup and wear a costume to do my presentation to give the audience a flavor of how it’s celebrated in Mexico. My Power Point presentation included many photographs that Kurt and I took when we were in Pazcuaro in 2005 for the celebrations there.
I’m looking forward to doing another presentation of this AHC program on Wednesday, October 24th in Safford at the library at 6:00 PM. Safford is close to Morenci where I was born, so I hope to see many people I knew from Morenci.
I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since my last post. So many things have happened to keep me from this journal. The happiest news is the birth of my first great-granddaughter, Linda Elenita! She was born on August 27th, five weeks early so she’s been in the NICU until now. Tomorrow she’s being released and our family is thrilled.
She’s not the first in our family to be a preemie. Our granddaughter, Kayla who was born 18 months ago to Linda Elena’s granddad was also a preemie. We’ve prayed and watched Kayla fill out from an incredibly tiny baby to an active inquisitive toddler that no one can tell was a preemie. Kayla gave her sister, Gabby, hope that Linda Elenita would also thrive.
Ironically, my fourth child, Adam the father and grandfather of both babies was a preemie himself and was not expected to live. Our pediatrician baptized him, he was that sure that Adam wouldn’t pull through. Having lost our second baby, Karin, to hyline membrane disease in 1965, I wasn’t about to lose another one. Dr. Allari and his wife later became Adam’s godparents in an “official” baptism ceremony. To look at Adam now, one wouldn’t believe that he’d been a preemie. He’s a towering 6′ 7” tall and fills a room when he walks in.
My nephew Nick and his wife had a very early preemie, Jacobi who weighed less than a few pounds when he was born. I visited Jacobi in the NICU when he was a couple of weeks old and wrote a poem about him. Later, I rewrote the poem for Gabby’s half brother Antonio and now I’ve reworked it for Linda Elenita. You can read the poem here.
I am so grateful that medicine has progressed so far to ensure that these little ones can survive. In the sixties, there was not much they could do. Even President Kennedy and Jackie lost their last baby to hyline membrane disease.
Seeing these precious little ones that share the NICU with Linda Elenita, is seeing a miracle and I’m eternally grateful.
I started working on compiling some of my poetry into a chapbook a couple of weeks ago. Thus far, I’ve got 60 poems in 80 pages—maybe too many for a chapbook. I’m considering the title “Rediscovering My Spirit” and I’ve got the following sections: I. Acknowledging My Ancestors, II. Spiritual Awakening, III. Joy of Friendship, IV. Appreciating Nature, and V. Injustice/Social Justice.
I’m hesitating to go with it as is. Maybe it’s because each one of the sections could be a separate chapbook and that would let me include photographs my husband and I have taken that fit the poems. I guess at least now I have the poems categorized. Separate chapbooks would also allow me to include other poems I’ve written.
Hmm! Lots to think about. Decisions! Decisions! Puts me in mind of a poem that didn’t make the cut. Maybe I should add another stanza to this poem.
by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist
Have friends over?
Where to vacation?
Which car to buy?
Look for a new job?
What to fix for dinner?
Flood brain with
Weigh pros and cons.
Just too many choices.
I picked up the watercolor today and found out that it was a painting in the courtyard of the Tucson Museum of Art. Love the work! Have hung it in our bedroom.
Shirley, Linda, and Gail (three of my Comadres from Sowing the Seeds) Kurt, and I went to Raices Taller 222 for a Tucson Freedom Summer Event. They had a silent auction and we bid on several things. We went for dinner at La Indita afterward and enjoyed visiting for awhile.
Just received a call that one of my bids was a winner! I got a watercolor of papel picado on a village street. Beautiful! The money from the auction goes to the Mexican American Studies fund.
At the entrance to the gallery was a giant “book” with the titles of the 50 books that were banned by TUSD. My book Suffer Smoke was listed right after House on Mango Street.
A young lady told me she’d seen my Chautauqua at Albuquerque. She’s from New Mexico, here to support Freedom Summer. Also ran into Patricia from the U of A whom I also saw at Albuquerque.
I did a presentation for the NMU class on Curanderismo in Albuquerque on July 21st, 2012. I shared with them what it entailed “Being Teresita Urrea.” The class met in a large amphitheater that held over 100 students of all ages. My digital poem “Ode to Teresita” didn’t work from my thumb drive on their laptop so we tried YouTube. Fortunately, I had planned ahead and uploaded it to YouTube. No sound! The movie and poem was to give a review of Teresita’s life before I did my presentation. ¡Ni modo! I went on with the rest of my presentation—at least the Power Point worked while an aide worked on getting the YouTube sound to their laptop. I was able to show the movie after the rest of my presentation. Afterwards Tonita and Rita, two curanderas, presented me with a white Mexican dress embroidered with colorful flowers on the front.
I’ll be bringing Teresita Urrea, renowned curandera, to the Southwest Branch Library tomorrow at 5:30.
Today I’ll be reading with my Comadres from our anthology, Our Spirit, Our Reality at the Joel Valdez Main Library at 11:30. We read at the Mission Branch Library on Wednesday. It’s always a pleasure to hear them read their poetry and stories! It makes the work more alive when I read it later and hear their voices!