I had a few good holidays in 2011. I celebrated Christmas among family, beside the magic light of a recently-cut REAL Christmas tree, and the warmth of a fire. I brought in some applesauce and salsa and pickles (which I had made at the ranch) as presents for family-members. (And if only I had made it to the RBR candle-making workshop, I would have more presents than I'd know what to do with.) I had an extra-special present for my mom—the porcupine, featured in my December 4th blog entry. The original scratchboard now adorns the wall of my folks' house, and so I hope that visitors will visit and see it there.
I also have fond memories for Thanksgiving 2011, which I celebrated in Colorado, at Toklat, among 15 or so comrades from Rock Bottom Ranch and ACES and affiliates. I showed greater culinary ambition than I have at any previous holiday. I made a squash pie, and co-made a spinach quiche, and worked cooperatively with my comrade Melanie to make the main dish, being two free-range chickens from the ranch (freedom rangers), roasted with a plethora of vegetables. This combined with a multitude of other dishes (spinach pie and cranberry sauce and pumpkin bread and etc etc.) as each participant made their favorite item, from their own family traditions. From a culinary perspective, it is hard to compete with an “orphan” Thanksgiving. My comrade Betsy got a photo of me commanding the Toklat kitchen:
Remarkably, after dinner, I convinced the whole crowd to watch one of my favorite movies: Cemetery Man or Dellamorte Dellamore (1994, directed by Michele Soavi). The story of Fransisco Dellamorte, the keeper of Buffalora Cemetery, where the dead just don't stay dead. And so he is forced to shoot and rebury the "returners", while trying to keep the strange events secret from the townspeople, and avoid the hassle of associated government paperwork. Dellamorte is aided by the igor-like Gnaghi, and seduced by “She” (his immortal lady-love who returns after death, in multiple incarnations, zombie and otherwise). While an action-packed horror film (with some deliberately-B special effects), Cemetery Man also a grand philosophical meditation on love and death, dream and reality. It is thought-provoking and artfully constructed—to the select few of us who get it; most viewers don't. (Perhaps they are turned off by Gnaghi's romance with the severed head of a young girl?) In any case, I am for some reason proud when I can get anyone to watch it. And a few weeks later, I gathered most of the ranch staff to see another wonderful movie that almost no one has seen: Fantastic Planet or La planète sauvage (1973, directed by René Laloux). I suddenly have a few achievements as a film-educator. Perhaps I should update my resumé.
My visit home has granted me access to my grand archive of artworks from my past. And so I will share one with bright colors, which seems fitting for the holiday season:
This painting would be of Espigah, my tarantula, whom I kept in captivity for around 18 years, until she finally shed this mortal coil last year. Leaving Bud the pacman frog as the last survivor from the pets from my youth, which my mom has so graciously and skillfully cared for since I left home.
portrait photo by © Betsy Defries