Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Roses in Winter, Deux

Today I went to the little park, where the winter roses bloom, and I gathered three roses. There were only three blooming. I also saw a sprig of rose hips, and took that as well. 

There is a new statue outside at our Cathedral, a depiction of Our Lady as she appeared at Guadalupe. I put the roses in her hands and I knelt and just had no words, except to help me be strong for my little family. I love the new statue. 

But I have been given a great gift to feel as if I am looking at the actual Blessed Mother. The Virgen de Guadalupe is the best-known apparition Mary has made in the new world, so she is especially dear to us here. On Mary's hand in the photo above, do you see a bright spark of light? Mary was in shadow, with the sun behind her. That little spark has me wondering.

And now the spark has moved...and doubled...

I can always feel Mary's eyes on me in church. She always has such a loving gaze, a balm to the heart.

The faithful have gathered the pretty berries that fell around the statue and made a ring around her feet. I love the childlike faith here. I wish everyone lived where the churches are open every day, and a Mass (or sermon) is said each and every day at each church!

I hope your week is going well and that "Hump Day" finds you safe, content, and well, and if any of those things are missing, may they quickly find their way into your life.

Kind regards,

Holly, The Olde Dame

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Sassed by Google!

The other day, my husband and I were sitting at the big farm table he built decades ago. I have a love/hate relationship with that table: I love how I can spread out crafts, foods, and sewing on it, but I dislike how very massive it is. We have a "great room" in this current house, and it sits in there, near the kitchen. But for the usual formal dining rooms of suburban homes of the 1960s and 1970s, it is too large. 

Anyhoo, we were sitting there, and as usual my phone was near me. We were chit-chatting about something, and suddenly the Google Girl Voice boomed out something about whatever it was we were talking about. I hadn't queued it up in any way, and I don't have the Google Assistant enabled, but there it was, talking and talking. 

I told my husband, "Gee, that Google is always listening. It's like a spy."

Oh boy! Suddenly the voice, with a sound of anger, said, "We are not always listening."

I about fell off the bench. I was shocked! The voice went on, something like this (I was so shocked I could barely attend to what it was saying):

"Google Assistant is activated only when initiated...blah blah blah...we do not listen...blah blah blah...privacy something privacy privacy something....blah blah...You can open the Google Something and delete any conversation at any time."

I yelled, "You just proved you are listening!" and then I am afraid I said a lot of bad words mixed in with the Prayer of St. Michael.

And in the snippiest tones, Google Girl Voice then said, "Do you want to delete this conversation?" and I said, "YES!"

I'm pretty suspicious as a person, but having an argument with the Google Artificial Intelligence (AI) Karen Bot really shook me up. I was SASSED by an invisible robot spy!

I have also been sassed by an AI on the phone. I called an office, only to be met with a huge number of menu options. Press this, press that, and I mumbled something rude, like "What dumb-butt programmed this?" and the phone shot back, "Why, thank you!" in the most sarcastic tones.

The local university campus has a lot of actual physical "bots" that hurry to the dorms and offices from the various food and toiletries vendors on and around campus. Students and staff can order lunch, hygiene items, and so forth, and off will go a bot, rolling along with the students on the pathways, seeming almost alive! But the campus bots are friendly and polite! They don't sass anyone and they stop if you need to go in front of them!

Before Christmas I got some video and photos of them, but I'm too old to keep up with their nimble wheels. There are two in the photo below, both to the right of the pole.

I needed some time with nature after the run-in with Google! I went to church and there were so many lovely bouquets in honor of the Saints and of the Epiphany. I took photos of some lovely pale roses, and some bright mixed bouquets. I don't know if it's because of our large Hispanic population, but the parish churches just burst with flowers. There are always armfuls of roses at the base of each statue of Mary outside, too.

I hope if you are having a cold or dreary day, that these will brighten it! 

Have you ever been sassed by an Artificial Intelligence entity?

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Get Ready for Twelfth Night

I first blogged about Twelfth Night in 2015. Here is the post, updated a bit.

Most of my little celebrations are just me and the pets. Back when my first husband was in graduate school, we had so many friends (I thought), and Twelfth Night was loads of fun, with loads of company. *sigh*

But don't let a lack of comrades stop your enjoyment of holidays or events! Enjoy them yourselves. Draw memories of good times to yourself, and enjoy. With COVID, we are having to learn new ways to celebrate.

For Twelfth Night, lay in a goodly supply of nuts to crack, especially walnuts, and make a batch of spiced cider or wassail.  If you have the money, get some little pots of ivy to place around the den, or get any houseplants, really. 

WHEN is Twelfth Night? It's the evening of January 5th, the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany on the 6th. The Epiphany marks the end of Christmas (in most churches) and is 12 days after Christmas ("the Twelfth Night"). The song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" harkens to Twelfth Night.

If you can, have a smorgasbord: Cheese, meats, crackers, boiled eggs, carrot sticks, dip, jams.

Where possible, have a fire built in your fireplace. Have it burning brightly once it's dark out. Twelfth Night is a LONG party - it goes to past midnight. If you have no fireplace, and you can SAFELY do so, have a bunch of candles lighted, preferably up high so no one is endangered. If you are having a bonfire, get it ready. If you have no access to actual fire, play one of the fireplace videos on your laptop!

During the evening, before the stroke of midnight, feed the old greenery, twigs, cinnamon sticks, etc. from Christmas into the fireplace or bonfire, while snacking and talking. If you have a bonfire, I'd suggest throwing it all on at one go, and getting back inside to get warm. If you are lucky enough to have some teens at your fest, they will probably be "firebugs" and love to keep going outside and throwing things onto the bonfire.

If you are inside and have access to the fireplace, it's fun to throw the things into the fire a bit at a time. My favorite thing to throw in is a pinecone. If I bought cinnamon cones before Christmas, I throw them, too, since the scent's gone.

If you have no access to a bonfire or hearth fire, just throw the old pine boughs and greenery out of the front door! I just have a few sprigs of juniper and yew left this year, and some berries from a nandina bush. 

Now, Twelfth Night is not for the faint of heart. It's a time for telling ghost tales and odd happenings. In olden days, so was Christmas Eve, don't you know. So let your tongue run freely as to strange sights and olde stories (I have a million such), and if the feeling moves you, tell some new tales that pop into your mind. The key is to tell tales of wondrous happenings without being gruesome or awful or non-Christian - kind of like the "Sleepy Hollow" story.

If you will be celebrating alone, as this Olde Dame must, watch an old movie or read a book of strange tales (like The Hobbit, Rip Van Winkle, or even an autobiography of long ago, such as A Schoolteacher in Old Alaska which has many strange happenings).

As midnight nears, continue to crack open the nuts and eat them, throwing the shells into the fire. Pop popcorn and salt it well for luck. Talk or think of the year ahead, and sing olde songs. Remember olde times and olde friends and don't let the fire or candles go out before midnight.

Now, remember the broom you bought a few days back? Well, get it ready. Get your OLD broom ready, too. At midnight, you are going to THROW that old broom out your back door, bristles first. That broom is now your "yard broom" and its indoor days are over. It took last year's regrets and errors with it. Out they went. Take your NEW broom and draw it thrice across the front door threshold, drawing in luck. 

If you have guests, give each a little bag or jar of salt (luck) and a bag of walnuts (representing gold nuggets) to take with them as they leave.

I often stay up most of the night, just dozing on the futon or in a recliner.

If you can't manage Twelfth Night, don't worry: CANDLEMAS is another very olde celebration. It has you taking down all decorations by February 1st, and runs much the same way as Twelfth Night, but with even more plants to be placed around in anticipation of spring.  

As you know, of course, Twelfth Night is just done in fun, and is merely a fanciful attempt to recreate some of the holidays of the very early Church.

Kind regards,

Holly, The Olde Dame  


Monday, January 3, 2022

"In the Bleak Midwinter," Some Light!

I love that song, "In the Bleak Midwinter."

Oh, it's not midwinter yet, but it can feel like it when the Christmas lights come down and all seems dark. Even though the days are getting longer, January and February can still feel gloomy, especially in climes where it is cloudy and cold.  

I am extremely sensitive to light, or rather the lack of it. But even in the sunny desert, the winter days can feel dark. So, I always have a "substitute Christmas tree" ready for when the real tree comes down. I used to have a tall birdhouse on a turned table leg, but during the last move it disappeared, and so I am using a little birdcage I have, and reusing some "rice lights" or "fairy lights" that run off a USB plug. 

It uses negligible energy so it's on all day right now. I have a glittered bird's nest in there because I cannot yet let go of all the sparkle of Christmas! At night it gives a wonderful glow.

Morgy relaxing by the new display.

I saw on another bloggie fren's post that she has electric candles in her house year 'round. I am going to try for that idea, too! I hope some of the thrift stores will have some when they reopen this coming week.
And I am already at it with Valentine's decor. Just a bit! You might recall these items from last year, too.

We had a day of rain yesterday, unusual here. And then that cold front that's sweeping across the nation came in, and when the clouds lifted, there was snow on the mountains. 

I drove hubby up to the foothills and took some photos. We couldn't get close because the road had a gate across it. It's usually open.

Driving up to the foothills caused me to miss Mass at the parish I prefer. But God had a plan; Father Alex at the big parish had a homily I really needed to hear. It was about letting yourself feel joy, feel appreciation, despite the sadness in this world. To not feel guilt when seeking out joy and beauty. It's not a seesaw, where if you have peace and joy on one side, the other side tips up and dumps more sadness on the world! Well, he said it much better than I can. He feels that any happiness you have can help you reach out to others and combat darkness. "While you are biting into a piece of cake, don't let it turn to dust in your mouth because you think of the hungry children. Enjoy the cake and think of ways to help the hungry, and do it."

Some lore:

"When snow flies, rain falls, you see a bird on the wing, or breath is visible the first 10 days of January, so too will especial fortune and hope mark the days of the coming year."

Twelfth Night is coming! I will put up my usual post about it this week, maybe tomorrow. Don't forget to buy a new corn broom, if you can! Brooms are rather prominent in a lot of old lore.

Practical lore: 

525,600 minutes in a year! How many can you spare to help others and treat yourself kindly? 

This year, if you want to do so, get an inexpensive "planner" and on each date, write the weather, and if you feel inclined, write something you thought, or that you did. You will be glad you did, at the end of next year!

FOR THE DISORGANIZED: Get a very large box, if you are a disorganized person such as I. Get one of those photocopy boxes. Into the box, throw everything you think you might need, paperwork-wise. Receipts, notes you jot down, mail that you received. Keep it all in that box, if it has no other designated place. I used to have to dig through it constantly, but now my skills have improved and I am just comforted by it and don't often have to go rustling through it for something important. The box idea has helped a lot of young folks out on their own for the first time.

Thank'ee for stopping by! Do you know any New Year lore? What's on your mind today?

Kind regards,
Holly, The Olde Dame

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Step Right Up, Step Right Through

2022 in just a few days. Impossible!

Oh, do you remember that television special, Roger and Hammerstein's Cinderella, introducing Leslie Ann Warren? As a child, I would wait for it every year! I loved the song, "Impossible/It's Possible" especially! As a college student, I would see the Prince again, this time as spoiled and sneaky Alan Quartermaine in General Hospital! Impossible that it's over 40 years ago!

You can watch it free on YouTube, with ads! It's possible! Here's the link: Cinderella 1965 Musical 

Impossible that 2022 is here. And yet, it's possible that perhaps 2022 will see the end of this COVID and a turning to the light from what I feel has been a dark two-plus years.

These gates and doors in the old Village of Mesilla remind me that the door is opening to a fresh year! I think mankind enjoys the idea of a "clean slate" very much. And 2022 is a clean slate for one and all. 

 It is so sweet, how people paint on their homes in Mesilla and many places in the Southwest. In Tucson, many people painted designs on their windows, too.

And of course, doors remind me of a favorite Bible verse, Revelation 3:20: Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Bloggie frens, have a wonderful Wednesday and every day!

Kind regards,

Holly, the Olde Dame

Sunday, December 26, 2021

And, Forward!

rose buds in winter

I have always loved Christmas, but it has also become a very difficult time for me. I acutely miss friends and those few good family members who are no longer here, and there is an overlay of grief on my too-quiet Christmas Days. This Christmas Eve, as I saw I was sinking down into a very sad heap, I changed my emphasis from wishing to have "joy" in the present and peace about the past, to the contemplation of Christ's birth. 

It may seem drastic, but down went the indoor decorations, with only a small creche left out. I left the outdoor lights up, and just sat and thought about the first Christmas by the glow of those lights through the windows. And I thought about how we do have a friend in Jesus, one who will never hurt us or abandon us. Of course, this led to some joy in the present and more peace about the past!

On Christmas, I went to that little botanical park I love, on the hunt for more winter roses, and I found some! I was able to make it to two Masses, and the day passed quietly. 

We had such fair and mild weather that I wore pedal-pushers, sandals, and a sleeveless blouse on Christmas! And I noticed some tiny tips of tulips and narcissus pushing up through the soil in the courtyard! 

I hope you all had, if not a joyful Christmas Day, at least a peaceful one. And now, forward to 2022! Are you one who makes New Year's Resolutions? 

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

"Christmas" Lunch at La Posta Restaurant

I have been wanting to see inside the "famous" La Posta restaurant next door in the tiny village of Mesilla since they decorated for Christmas. They decorate in a big way for Christmas, and have many themed rooms inside the 1840s adobe building that once served as a stagecoach stop. So that was my Christmas present to myself!

The food was secondary to the setting! We were very lucky and were seated in a prime spot for seeing into some of the other areas, including a room with lava-rock walls. 

But first Santa welcomed us in. 

Santa at La Posta restaurant

And he whispered that we shouldn't be afraid of Pepe, the resident piranha, because he's just a little toothless viejo (old man) now!

Pepe, the resident piranha of La Posta restaurant

There was so much to see that I lagged a bit and was slowing down the staff. So I had to hurry and get seated. I was trying to get a good photo of a colorful Nativity scene.

Mexican wood cutout nativity scene las cruces

It's a very popular place, especially at Christmas, when many people bring their out-of-town friends for a meal. The food is not very spicy, so non-New Mexicans can enjoy it, too. 

The old vinyl tablecloths are so bright and pretty. Each table has a different cloth.

There was what I call a "títere tree" there ("TEE-tah-rah") -- a tree with many vintage "títeres" (puppets) on it, along with sombreros and woven garlands. Very bright and cheerful but I just noticed that Pancho Villa has a gun in his wee hand...

The food came very quickly. My husband ate better than I have seen him eat in several months! That was a blessing! My food was lousy, and I am glad, because it was all off-limits items for diabetics except for some vinegar slaw.

Mexican flag metal wall sconce Las Cruces

I was just on Cloud Nine the whole time. So many strange and pretty sights! I love decorations.

We must find happiness where we can. Sometimes we have to look a bit harder for it, too. But even in the midst of troubles or sadness, we can find some peace and joy. And most of all, we can have hope! What a gift God has given us, to put hope in the human heart!

I know most of my bloggie frens are having lovely times with family right now, and I am so glad for each of you! I do not mean to bring anyone down during happy holiday times. I think most are not even on the blogs right now, as they are active with their loved ones. Good!

But for those like me who may not have any loving family left, or who have seen friends dwindle away as the years have passed, or who have tribulations or health problems themselves or worse, their loved ones do, please know that I understand, am there with you, and am praying each day for happiness and peace in the world! And don't forget, whatever your religion or non-religion -- the angels and Saints are all around you! The veil is very thin during this time of year! Christmas magic is real, it is a glimpse from Heaven, in my opinion, and I hope it puts heart into you. There is always next year, too! 

Kind regards,

Holly, The Olde Dame

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Bright and Beautiful Wanderings

Greetings, dear bloggie frens. I am continuing to run so far behind in visiting blogs! We had a pet emergency, in that my little half-feral was evidently bitten by a rat right on his face, and has had surgery but isn't recovering quickly. We know it was a rat, because Morgy fought it, and won, right on the back patio! A Pyrrhic victory, perhaps.

Poor Morgie, or Morgy as the vet has re-spelled it (!), is wanting to be held for hours, and I am glad to do it, as he never liked being held before. But not a lot gets done when you are holding a sleeping kitty. And my knee is acting very silly lately!

I am shocked, but not really, at Hobby Lobby: They have consolidated what's left of Christmas onto two aisles, and have Valentine's and a bit of Easter up! The Christmas items must have sold in record numbers this year. I tried, but couldn't find, any boxes of unbreakable ornaments and lights after the first of December. I did get some adorable retro plastic deer, 90% off because they were missing something from their heads. Here are two of them, along with some marzipan:

marzipan and mid century modern deer

Frens, don't forget, you can always ask for a discount at stores, including Big Box stores! I wanted 90% off those deer, not the 50% they already were, but the cashiers are usually limited to 10 or 20 percent off, so just ask for the "manager on duty" and see if they'll bite! You know who asks for discounts all the time? Wealthy people! That's where I learned it.

An aside: Have you ever made a big pot of soup and have it not turn out very tasty? I am now stuck with eating a yucky, but healthy, soup for the next three days! I need to stick with a recipe. I think the cauliflower fought with the other flavors.

I'll leave you, dear bloggers, with some photos of my travels home from church. I love the lights of Christmas! Sorry if I repeat any from before.

Leaving San Albino Basilica after Mass...
san albino at christmas
(Yes, I got that piece of trash up!)

Side view of a house near Immaculate Heart of Mary Cathedral:
las cruces christmas near IHM cathedral 2021

This house was full of music and inflatables: A labor of love for the children of Las Cruces, found out on a county road. All are welcome to wander the grounds, so I did:

A pretty house in the part of town known as Mesilla Park. I love it when people light up their palm trees:

And here is a reminder that be it ever so humble, there's no place like home. See the doggie on the back porch? He was so smart and good! Home is where the heart is! 

Hoping your season is going well!

Kind regards,

Holly, The Olde Dame

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Free "Merry Mix" Printable Tags, Attack of the Age Spots, and A Rosary Rescue

December Greetings, dearies! 

Here are some free downloadable tags, safely saved on a Google Drive. Use this LINK <---- instead of saving the image, as Blogger shrinks the big files and they won't print nicely. I call it "Merry Mix" because it has a smorgasbord [Smörgåsbord] of vintage images.


free printable diy christmas tags download

Oh boy, last year I posted about the movie White Christmas, which I dearly love, PARTICULARLY the smorgasbord scene in the middle of the night, when Bing and Rosemary went to the big den area and were enjoying the snacks that were always available. 

It reminds me so much of a lodge I stayed at one night at the Grand Canyon. It had a huge fire, 24/7, and a smorgasbord all night long. I just walked around and snoozed in the den the entire night! It was forty years ago, and I mention it in the blog and in person entirely too much! It was just magical, that's why. One of the best nights of my life! What can I say, my life is pretty lowkey!

In the movie, Bing and Rosemary sang the pretty duet, "Count Your Blessings." Oh yes, that's a good song to memorize and sing to yourself! I like to be real, not have a Pollyanna attitude, but having an appreciation for what you do have can be so important. I wanted to just cry yesterday, I was feeling so blue about not getting that job and in so much pain when I walked. And then I thought, "My gosh, but I can still WALK! I can WALK, what a gift!" and it gave me strength and off to Walmart I went for some needed groceries! Mainly, chicken tenders to bake for the silly dogs! They love their chicken.

When I was throwing my purse into the back seat of the car, I looked down and there on the driveway was a single-decade Rosary I have been missing for weeks. Right on the concrete, with tire tread marks going over it, and broken glass beads around it and crushed pinecones all around!

I had parked back a-ways on the driveway, unusual for me. I don't think I would have found the Rosary had I not been parked so far back. I must have dropped it. I don't make "bracelet" Rosaries although they are popular. I think that a Rosary ought to be firmly in hand or nestling in a pocket, not put around a wrist and forgotten! But the danger in that is not being aware enough! 

I set out to repair the Rosary. Amazingly, both the Holy Medal and the Crucifix were intact, although the tire had clearly rolled right over them. It was just a matter of replacing some of the beads and doing a bit of straightening!

broken Rosary before repair

Two beads are missing, and five more are cracked


repaired Rosary, Czech druks and garnet

Repaired! Under the medal is the Glory Bee charm I put on all my personal Rosaries.

At night, with the execrable Hallmark movies playing (yes, some I LOVE, some make me just CRINGE), I am making lots of Rosaries. I'm putting them at the churches with a note in Spanish and in English, and I do not let myself hang around to see people react to them, because that would undo the good of giving, I feel. But they are gone quickly. 

I am "repairing" something else, too! What price vanity?! I am attempting to remove some "age spots" from my hands and face. Dear friends, do not try this at home! It involves wart remover. I use the chemical one, not the freeze one. I have done it before, and removed some really big age spots, or liver spots as my mother called them, on my face that the dermatologist didn't remove despite using a laser. But being a desert rat for so long, they are on me a-plenty. The ones on the hands don't seem to be doing as well as the face ones. This is my first try on hands and arms.

Age spot liver spot removal at home with wart remover

The chemical is applied and drying in this photo...Ow!

I've taken some before and during photos, and I'll show the "after" photos when the process is over! Usually, I don't like wearing a face mask, but for now, I am happy to wear one and I pull it up to my eyes! And I have those fingerless mittens on when I go out! It looks pretty bad right now!

It is going to be so busy at church! So much going on!  Tonight, a Vigil Mass because tomorrow is The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

If you get a chance, please share what you're doing in the evenings! I'm always curious!

Kind regards,

Holly, The Olde Dame


Monday, December 6, 2021

Matachines, Pink Shoes, and Y'allmark Christmases!

Don't ask me why, but I have been watching Hallmark Christmas movies nonstop. Oh, maybe not watching, exactly, but having them on "for company" while I do other things. I am trying to sort through and organize my possessions. More on that in another post! Here's one of said possessions, from an entire huge box of vintage Christmas cards:

Little Christmas card snowman with inside-out umbrella
I hope you are not having such a day as poor snowman is having!

Sometimes I go sit in the "new" recliner and watch the movies a bit, after putting Champie the Chiweenie "up up" with me. With his wee wizened leg, he cannot jump up at all and he MUST be by my side at all times, he feels. Sophie, the little fuzzy mutt, gets in the other "new" recliner next to me, "all by her big-girl self."

I am evidently in a "quote-mark mood" today! "So to speak."

I was thinking, as each Hallmark movie unfolded, that maybe there should be a Y'allmark or Drawlmark movie channel, where various corny Southern romances could be depicted. They could NOT be worse than some of the movies I'm seeing!

Tonight on the Drawlmark Channel! A Northern Storm

Can an icy Nordic prince starting a chain of yoga juice bars warm up to down-home honesty and a zany small-town girl?

"Momma, I think I love him, even though he's some kind of Yankee boy and he's done took over Old Doc Grover's soda shop and says he's turning it into a high-end juice bar and they're going to have yoga and pita-bread sammiches and break the whole town's heart!"

"You go warsh yer mouth out right now, talking such nonsense! In love with a Yankee? Pfffft!" 

"But Momma, he's real rich and he has a lifted pickup even tho' it's elec-tric and he's an executive and he's a prince of some little European country an' I'm so zany I just fell right in love with him!" 

"A lifted pickup? And money to boot? Why didn't you say so? Bring him to supper! I'll make a big pot of turnip greens 'n' cornpones!"


Tonight, a Y'allmark Channel World Premier: Yankee Doodle Candy

Can an unlucky-in-love praline maker convince a snotty Eastern venture capitalist to take a chance on her grandmother's old-fashioned candy factory? 

Things get off to a sticky start when Brent, the venture capitalist with a sad secret heartbreak in his past, has his fine Italian suit ruined by a warm praline thrown by Missy Belle! She was aiming at Bubba, her old high-school beau who is back in town for the big high school reunion! Will the week end with a Ding-Dong and sody-pop date with Bubba, or the ding-dong of wedding bells with Brent?

That's enough of THAT!

~ ~ ~

I haven't yet felt much better lately, but sometimes, if you can manage to get up and stay up, you can get a lot done anyway. I did have FOUR interviews for a job I wanted very much at the university, but evidently I lost out to someone else, because I did not get contacted after the fourth interview. I GOT GHOSTED, as the kids say, or maybe used to say. It was interview after interview, test after test, phone calls, Zoom calls, another interview, then radio silence. Was it the pink shoes I wore to the last interview?  I tend to forget to check what shoes I have on. Look, I originated in Arkansas. It's a miracle I wear shoes at all. 

These shoes have fake fur inside! Very warm and roomy at the toe! And you don't tie them! IT DOES NOT GET BETTER THAN THIS.

Pink shoes with fake fur inside, on leaves.
My precious Walmart pink low-quarter sneakers!

Today, to celebrate the Virgin of Guadalupe (big day coming up, December 12th), matachines (mat-ah chee-ness) gathered at four points in our city, and danced to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They danced for miles, and then when they arrived, they danced more, the earlier troupes for an hour and a half, and the later troupes for portions of that time. 

Matachines are groups of dancers who dance for religious reasons. They are almost trance-dancers, I would say, able to dance beyond normal endurance, and able to dance their particular rhythm and movements despite many other troupes dancing to different drumbeats and different steps right next to them. It is a cacophony of sound, and an amazing sight.

Usually, a full-size statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe is carried in front, and the dancers follow. The statue is sometimes carried on a litter, by hand, and sometimes is in the bed of a truck.

The dancers wear elaborate costumes styled much like southwestern Native American ceremonial dress. Lengths of bamboo from reeds by the Rio Grande are used instead of porcupine quills, but sewn in horizontal lines, they give a similar hollow sound as they knock together. Row upon row of this bamboo, many times with small bells at the end, adorn the long loincloth-type costumes. Gourds with beans or beads inside are carried and shaken. 

The embroidery on the loincloths is just stunning, heavy on the sequins and favoring depictions of Divine Mercy, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and of course, Our Lady of Guadalupe. Front and back loincloths each have different depictions. 

Elaborate headdresses or scarves tied like a sheikh's are worn, or both. Stylized weapons are carried as the dances often depict the battle of good versus evil, and some dancers appear as monsters or devilish creatures that dance among the faithful, lest we forget this is so. 

I love that all are welcome to be part of these troupes. You see all weights and sizes. You don't see many older dancers, though. They just cannot have that high level of energy, but they act as the elders and teach and advise and walk along the dancers on the road. 

There are all-female groups, all-male groups, and a few mixed groups. Sometimes determined children in first or second grade are dancers, their tiny feet keeping the steps as well as the teens and adults do. The dancing is a serious business. You will not see smiles while the dancers do their steps, but faces set in concentration!

Today, six troupes were at the Cathedral. I could not choose a favorite troupe, but the matachines wearing powder blue were tireless! First to arrive, they were last to stop dancing. They also had three strong dancers who wore wooden-soled shoes that sounded like clomping horses' hooves as they stomped. You could hear the hoofbeats over the general din. 

I took a photo of them during one of their rare breaks where they yielded the prime dancing spot, as they gathered in excitement when our Bishop walked out, and quickly surrounded him. Our Bishop is from Malta and he is hilarious. 

Matachines gather in 2021 around Bishop Peter of IHM, Las Cruces, NM

You can't see it from here, but a table was set up and just COVERED in roses during the dancing, then brought into the Cathedral. Roses are associated with Our Lady of Guadalupe, or OLOG, as it is often abbreviated.

Here is a vintage Mexican Christmas card I have in my collection. I had to smile, because it looks so similar to the Mexican "Loteria" (bingo) cards' designs. Catholics and bingo are like peanut butter and jelly!

vintage mexican christmas card

All of my Mexican Christmas cards have roses on them. This has a rose and bud, very fitting!

I'm continuing to try to fast and to go out to nature each day. Nature seems to know it's Christmas fever this time of year! Even these leaves turned red and green! 

red and green oak leaves for fall and christmas

I hope all of you are well, and I will be hopping to your blogs today to catch up on what I have missed! 

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly