Dia de los Muertos
As I was getting ready to write today’s minimum of 1,667 words for NaNoWriMo, I decided a new character board was needed, even though I am working with many of the same characters from the second manuscript.

On the one hand, this was clear procrastination. On the other hand, as I handled pictures and post-it notes, I felt as if I got closer to the characters. I took care in how I structured the pictures and the notations, mapping out the open road for the rest of book #3 (and there is a lot of open road to cover, with the two main characters going off in very different directions).

The road today, however, led to a very unexpected and yet oddly synchronistic place–my grandfather. As I looked at a map of Finnish Lapland (the very loose basis for my world), I zoomed in on the lakes, and it brought to mind my grandfather Väino. I’d just recently rediscovered a picture of him rowing on Rouvesi. I went and pulled out the picture again, and studied it.

I loved my Isoisä (grandfather) he was the kindest, dearest man in my life (up until I met my husband). He was a veteran and a true sportsman. In addition to being a versatile athlete, he devoted much of his life to sports associations in Helisinki. As a 9 year old, visiting my grandparents, my Isoisä carved me a javelin, gave me a shot put, hoisted up a trapeze bar between two birch trees, and when it finally snowed, waxed my cross-country skies. In their sprawling back yard and surrounding forest, I had the best of summer and winter Olympics, at least in my imagination.

So here is the synchronicity. Today is Dia de Los Muertos, a time to honor loved ones passed and a day I observe. I have now lovingly put up my small alter to my Isoisä, Väino–named for Väinämöinen, one of the heros of the Kalevala, the 19th-century epic poem compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Karelian and Finnish folklore and mythology. Isoisä’s pictures are there, as are his sports’ medals, and of course a little libation. Väino was known for turning any fruit into potent wine.

For some, it might seem an odd juxtaposition: Finnish mythology and Mexican cultural observance. But, it is my background, and the more I integrate these seemingly divergent aspects, the more they resonate. So on this night, let’s honor the best in all of us, what all of our ancestors have given us, and what we will one day pass on.

Mi familia es el miso que/ perheeni.

Also pictured: My grandmother Siigrid. My aunt Tuulikki (also in the Kalevala. She is the daughter of the God of Forest). My mother Kyllikki (you guessed it…also in the Kalevala. She is married to Lemmikäinen, another hero.)

“Forest daughter, lovely virgin, Golden maiden, fair Tuulikki…” Runo14 Death of Lemmikäinen

“Kylli was the island maiden, Island maiden, island flower. Brought up in a high-born home, She grew up a graceful beauty, Gracing there her father’s hall, Sitting on the springy back bench.” -Runo 11

“If you shoot down Väinämöinen, Kill the man of Kalevala, From this world all joy will vanish, On this earth all music cease. Joy is better in this world, Singing better suits this earth Than it does the Underworld In the shades of Tuonela.” -Joukahainen’s mother in Runo 6, Kalevala