Thursday, November 30, 2006


I spent the afternoon visiting graves - I needed to get some air. I stopped by Aunt Anna's, Uncle Jorge's, and Aunt Lorena's as well as a few others. Lo and behold! The latest legend is about Uncle Jorge!

Here's a photo that I took at the cemetary today:

Anna's hiking boots

I can't sleep. I haven't been sleeping well since Aunt Anna died, but tonight I can't sleep at all. Tomorrow will be the one-month anniversary of Aunt Anna's death. It's after two a.m. and I don't feel tired at all despite still being on the mend from the flu and generally fatigued.

I just spent three hours going through Aunt Anna's closet. It took me so long because almost at least one pair out of every eighteen articles of clothing sparks some sort of special memory.

I found 1 of her favorite pairs of shoes for hiking. In my mind, I can still see Aunt Anna sitting on the step outside this house tieing these laces before we set out for a celebratory hike honoring the results of a research grant proposal that we'd both worked on - and received. I wish I could still hear these soles sweetly and solidly crunching the earth to the rhythm of Aunt Anna's stride.

There were 2 other pairs of hiking shoes that she especially loved, but I can't find them. There was always a particular reason Why Aunt Anna wore a given pair. For instance, 1 was good for the forested areas where she would go bird watching, 1 was good for night hikes, and 1 was good for standard trail hikes in the suburbs.

Aunt Anna would rotate her activities (and her associated shoes) to keep a healthy balance in her life. Since the wear and tear multiplied with every additional hike (as well as her expertise in the associated activity), she would usually retire her shoes pretty early. I thought it was a little bit excessive, but I think that maybe she had a point with her shoes and her activities.

And now I'm stuck with that research project - all by myself I guess I will count endangered species in Costa Rica.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Anna's Birthday

Hi everyone!

I was talking to Red Garcia yesterday and I think that I accidentally told her that Aunt Anna's birthday was November 1. Aunt Anna *died* on November 1. She was born on December 22. She used to tell me that her birthday was the most wonderful day of the year because it was the beginning of the upside of things. It's the first day that is longer than the one before it.

That's a pretty optimistic way of understanding the 2nd shortest day of the year!

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

John and paperwork

Hi all.

I'm still in shock about Aunt Anna and Uncle Ignacio. I got a phone call earlier today from John. Apparantly he and Luisa knew that Anna and Ignacio had a relationship and suspected that they'd get married. Like all Souzas, though, they remained rather private about the affair. Us Garcias have always just been so much more all over in each others' business so it's hard for me to fathom wanting to keep secrets. But I'm beginning to understand that it's just a different means to the same end: honoring family.

I still feel sad about being in the dark about something that must have been so important. Did anyone else know about their romance?

Whew - this process has really kept me busy. I'm going to have to spend most of tomorrow afternoon reading through my students' outlines and thesis ideas for final papers. That good old guilt is beginning to get the better of me. After that, I'm going to try to actually organize all of this paperwork over here in Ocotillo. It's such a mess! At least Aunt Anna has plenty ofextra office supplies laying around to help me get organized.

I feel like I'm creeping around and learning all of Aunt Anna's mundane habits (how she folded her socks, how much spare toilet paper she kept around, that she didn't use dividers at the beginning / end of binders, etc). There are so many different ways to know someone!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Blue with the Flu!

Hello everyone!

I'm sorry to report that I came down with a FLU right after Thanksgiving. It's really unfortunate because I haven't had the appetite to eat all the leftovers!

In any event, I turned off Aunt Anna's computer while I was bedridden because I found the sound distracting. I now see that that application of hers stopped producing the trials ( I didn't realize it was locally run). Things should start popping up again.

Now on a different note. I've been having all sorts of vivid dreams about Aunt Anna lately. Does anyone know anything about dream analysis? Or, has anyone else sort of "felt" her presence? I hate to sound paranoid...I *have* been more or less isolated in this big old house of hers in the desert for over a week now.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hi everyone! Thanks so much for uniting to help the family recover this old heirloom. And thanks for all of the Thanksgiving invites! I've ended up at an old boyfriend's house and the turkey, pies, and fixin's smell delicious! It's nice to take a break from the hubbub of reconciling Aunt Anna's digital estante in the hot pursuit for this "fountain of truth."

I do miss Aunt Anna a LOT though. Thanksgiving was kind of "her" holiday for so many years. Do you remember her AMAZING cheeseball? That was my favorite dish of hers. What was YOUR favorite dish?


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Online Family Meeting -

Typical Aunt Anna style, she was the family matriarch. I feel sort of like she's passing the torch on to me by having me run this insane game.

In any event, Aunt Anna was the one who always insisted on a "family meeting" when things became challenging for anyone in the family. She set up a message board to help all of us get through the next month in pursuit for the mysterious heirloom (seriously, I never heard anything about it but Anna acts like it was the talk of the town - has anyone ever heard anything about it???). So, Anna set up a message board so that we can have a permanent family meeting. I guess the "trials" are replacing the mandatory games of horseshoes and croquet that she used to make us play.

Okay - so get on over there, and let's get the famil meeting started. Register here for the board:
Aunt Anna will roll around in her grave until a respectable majority of you are on there, discussing her trials (and she'd probably like y'all to also discuss her amazingness).

Now....I just wish that these trials were as simple as a crossword puzzle!!

Come on.....

Oliver, Ryan, Vic. Hello out there? Are you guys going to help me out at all? We've barely got a month. No, it's not crossword puzzles. Come on - let's start a phone tree or something and get the family involved!!

Did you see Anna's weird letter to me?? Did any of you ever hear about this Washburn Girl incident? i don't understand what it means. I tried entering "Taylor Street" into the application, but it's the wrong answer.

Anna made a game out of our heirloom

This is bizarre. We have to solve these "trials". Aunt Anna had all of these files on her computer that I was supposed to upload and an application that I started. The application seems to be some sort of timer for the trials and the heirloom hunt.

It's kind of sick actually - Aunt Anna left me all of these little notes and made all of these documents and letters for us to see after she died. It's really creepy and ghostly. I thought halloween was over! Seriously, it's been incredibly rough to see all of these things from her. I miss her so much. It's painful to have her talking to me and communicating with me but I can't talk back. I can't ask her questions or for advise.

I don't know the correct answers to any of these trials, I just have this weird device that I can enter solutions in to. It tells me "correct" or "incorrect" and then advances the game accordingly. We're sort of on our own.

How long do you think Aunt Anna has been preparring for this. And is "this" synonymous with "her death"?

Well, let's get started then - here's a link to the website that Aunt Anna made at some point before she died and instructed me to come up here to Octotillo to upload. She was so weird! : You might have to clear your chache if you ever visited her site previously.

Friday, November 17, 2006

On my way to Ocotillo today

I do NOT KNOW anything about what these mysterious goings-on that Aunt Anna is having me do. I appreciate all of your interest and curiousity, but I promise you - I'm not holding anything back. You all know as well as I do that Aunt Anna was a rather eccentric woman at times. Her mysterious ways almost always came to make sound sense. But right now, I'm utterly clueless about what this "treasure" is. To be honest I'm not even sure why I'm following her instructions with so much blind faith.

So - please I beg you to have the same blind faith in me. Don't call me to find out more details. I don't have any more details!!!!!

I do appreciate and need your help - I promise to keep you all abreast of what I discover. I'll post it all here where everyone can see it, fair and square. No favorites.

Anyhow, I just got out of my last class until at least after Thanksgiving (and possible after the new year if I can convince the administration to let me issue early and meatier final projects which I can work with the students on individually via email).

I'm bound for Ocotillo. I'm bound for Anna's house. The property itself was left to me and the brothers anyways, so I guess one of us would have to go there sooner or later anyways to begin to sift through the possessions in it which will go to different folks. Man - I thought the grieving and questioning and burden of Aunt Anna's ailments and death would end when we buried her. But I have a feeling that it's all just beginning.

I'll be in touch tomorrow morning and let you all know what I find in Ocotillo....

Monday, November 13, 2006

Managing my life and Anna's death

I spent the weekend trying to find colleagues to cover my classes next week. I want to free up next weekend and the entire week of Thanksgiving to sort through all of this stuff and get over to Octotillo. I found a detailed letter from Aunt Anna in the safe deposit box that I'm still trying to digest. She swears that I will need to dedicate myself the contents of the box for at least the next 3 weeks.

But I have a life too! I have courses to teach and office hours to hold. I'm already behind on grading. I'm not sure how I'll juggle this.

In Aunt Anna's letter, she tells me that there is a "mysterious family secret that brings great wealth and happiness to all who possess it." Both tangible and intangible, this secret - this treasure? - is in St. Augustine. Like anything worth having, though, anticipation and the process of discovering the treasure is paramount. And so I must persevere through 39 trials - trials of wit, adventure, and loyalty. The family can help, but the family is divided. Can the internal bickering be channeled into something more productive, more resourceful? And we possible foster health competition?
In any event, Anna says it is impossible for me to pursue this "treasure" alone. I NEED the help of my family members, but it will be unclear to me which branch of the extended family has true intentions. Indeed, they themselves might not even be aware of their intentions. The

Lawn Games for Life is both the name of the website of the recently departed Anna Ravelo and the game about her family’s search for a mysterious family secret that brings great wealth and happiness to all who possess it. I should ultimately trust the SMARTEST, TOUGHEST, and most LOYAL ones. Garcias? Ravelos? Souzas? Freemont/Williams?
Aunt Anna was a tough, smart cookie who knew how to work with other people. I suppose that she wants to share our family's mysterious secrets only with those who are SMART enough, TOUGH enough, and LOYAL enough.

The one thing that Aunt Anna specified in the letter is that we have to plan on being in St. Augustine, FL on December 22, 2006. If we can't work together to complete these trials and find out exactly WHERE to go and WHEN and WHAT to bring, then we will lose the mysterious and lucrative family secret forever. We will end up wandering around the streets of St. Augustine like Ponce de Leon looking for the ephemeral and (non-existent?) Fountain of Youth.

She promises more details about what to expect during the "quest" when I get to her computer in Octotillo.

Okay Aunt Anna - I'll give it a shot, but is it really worth it? Because I'm about to put my life on hold. I'm not sure if I can afford to do that.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The will is an enigma

I will explain more tomorrow - I only have a few minutes before my brothers arrive for dinner. For now, suffice it to say that the will was completely fair. The family had absolutely no disputes or ill will (har har) over any of Aunt Anna's decisions. THAT is an enigma in and of itself. But more than that, I am totally confounded over the one deviation from normalacy that Anna's will took. A safe deposit box entrusted to ME. There are other envelopes and old photos and postcards and letters and... well, just a LOT of stuff in there. The box contained most prominently the log-in information for Aunt Anna's website ( and home computer in Ocotillo. I might need some help making sense of all this. I'm going to start with my brothers, but can anyone else help me?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Burial

On Thursday Night there was an earthquake here. The epicenter was less than a mile from Aunt Anna's house. Even the earth mourned her death. Today the families mourned her as well. We held her funeral on a Sunday, after several days of home visitations. All in keeping with Mexican and Catholic traditions. Neither of which Anna really identified herself as being. But, funerals are more for the people left behind than the one who has passed.

We did unite as a family. The delay between her death and her funeral allowed almost all of the family, many of her friends, and even some of her former students to travel to San Diego. We had an enormous picnic on the beach yesterday, and we’re going to light a bonfire tonight. Anna would have loved to be here, with everyone celebrating her life. She would have even just enjoyed seeing everyone celebrate.

It’s strange, but the games of horseshoes that Aunt Anna’s old college friends were playing in her backyard over the last few days seemed more ritualistic than today’s mass or funeral procession. Anna loved playing lawn games, dressing up in white to play croquet, indulging in the kitsch of it all, and convincing everyone else to do the same. These friends of hers – I have no idea if they shared her passion for horseshoes or simply entertained her for the last 60 years (right up to her death). No matter what, they played ceremoniously without saying a word. They used the game to resurrect Anna’s joyous spirit.

I remain unnerved by the fact that we held a mass for her today and buried her in the ground. Aunt Anna was as unreligious as they come – unless there is a religion that worships the Earth (which I’m sure there is). She was a scientist and a hippy through and through. Oh, she believed in a higher purpose, but in one much more complicated and logical than good vs. evil.

Speaking of good vs. evil, the idyllic family mourning process is about to come to a screeching halt. Aunt Anna’s will is being read on Tuesday (same day as elections).

I’m sorry about the infrequent and shallow posts – this has been a tremendously rough time for me.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Email from aunt anna

I just checked email for the first time since sunday. Anna sent me a cryptic email Tuesday night - as though she knew she was going to die. I want to tell.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

She died this morning.

She died this morning.