A moth, a swan, a cold, clear moon

A moth, a swan, a cold, clear moon from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

{image: James Jean}

Track list: The Moth by PJ Harvey | The Swan by Ionna Gika | For The Sun by Marissa Nadler & Stephen Brodsky | All Of This by Ayla Nereo | Cold Clear Moon (Written By Tomo Nakayama) by Swimming Bell | Tiptoe by Gracie and Rachel | Possession 2019 by Kompromat | Psychic Sobriety by Foie Gras | Romance Noire by Double Mixte | Kuiper Belt by KÅRP | Starbound by Mouth Wound

How To Wear ‘Feeling Some Kind Of Way’

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I don’t think I really need to explain this one, do I…? There have been feelings lately, and I am muddling through. This is a look that matches my mood. I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, and some of it should actually be exciting, but I am terrified; between this and the thing I wrote about last week, and some other work-related things, I really don’t know whether I am coming or going right now. I’m simultaneously ecstatic and and electrified with possibility. but also frustrated and angry and utterly paralyzed.

Pairing together clothes and jewelry that I’m only pretending to have seems a silly thing to do with my time, but it’s doing something, and having done one thing, it may easier to do the next, and then another. Progress will be made, I know it will, because it always is.  I just have to start somewhere.

This is a look for that foggy somewhere place of vague starts and stops; where the ideas are buzzing and whirling around your head like hungry flies; you just need to reach out and snatch one of them out of the air with the tips of your fingers. It doesn’t matter which one you grab. This is where you start.

Yohji Yamamoto Asymmetric Layered Dress // Else Boomerang II Underwire Longline Bra & thong // Nutsa Modebadze NM0062 boot // Alexander Wang Roxy hobo bag // Hvnter Gvtherer Whipsnake Accessory // Hagerskans Jewelry moth ring // KimyaJoyas herkimer diamond ring // Arcana Obscura sword necklace // Stacy Hopkins Design Odontolabis Femoralis ring // Lauren Wolf Sea Urchin bangle // Valley Eyewear Gravestone sunglasses // Chantecaille Celestial Nail Sheer // Punker mascara // Moth & Rabbit Perfumes, Enter The Void

 

A Visit To Roversia

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Excuse me while I slip away into this Roversian dream world where one swans in silence on velvet staircases, leans tenderly into the open hearts of somber trees, and runs away forever to weep one’s sorrows into the thorny embrace of labyrinthine shrubbery.

(I recall seeing this October 2009 W Magazine editorial several years ago, but it’s resonating so deeply with me right now. I frequently these days find myself longing to hide away from everything in a secret dream world via a hidden door in a hedge. I’ll come back in 100 years and all my troubles will have crumbled to dust.)

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Photography: Paolo Roversi

Hair by Rita Marmor/TRESemme; makeup by Lucia Pieroni/ Streeters for Cle de Peau Beaute; manicures by Yuna Park/Streeters. Models: Jac/IMG; Darya Kurovska/Supreme; Dorothea Barth Jorgensen and Regina Feoktistova, both at Women Model Management. Set design by Piers Hanmer; production by Viewfinders; digital technician: Antonio Pizzichino/d-touch. Photography assistant: Arno Frugier. Market Editor: Carolyn Tate Angel. Fashion assistants: Kathryn Typaldos and Katie Casamassimo

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Moth & Myth Giveaway At Haute Macabre

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Last weekat Haute Macabre we explored the offerings of Moth & Myth, an artistic endeavor renowned for producing cruelty-free and vegan designs showcasing the unique bounty of moths and butterflies (and I shared some of my favorite lepidopteran-inspired haiku classics by way of an introduction!)

Today is the last day of the giveaway to win an “autumn” packets of moths, so be sure to visit the post and leave a comment to be entered for the opportunity!

You Don’t Always Get The Gold Star

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I don’t know exactly what I want to write about this. I’m tempted to be vague, but I’d rather go into as many details as I can muster, because while I had wanted to write about this once it was over, looking back and being able to say, “Finally!” and “whew, thank goodness!” and details would have been okay at that point…including them now, when I am feeling less than ecstatic about it all feels a little gratuitous and petty and “oh woe is me.”

Also, I am not certain this is a thing anyone really wants to read. You’ve probably got some version of this in your life already. Or if you don’t now, or haven’t experienced it yet–just wait it out a bit. It’s coming. What follows is a timeline of resentments and stress that have been building up over the past 8 years, and last night I had a monumental eruption. But it was a silent, violent, ugly-crying kind of breakdown, the kind which you’d never even know is happening if you were in a different room of the house. There’s probably a German word for this silent maelstrom, this noiseless onslaught of hysterical paroxysms whistling and hitching with impotent rage and helplessness.

I’m just writing it out because it might make me feel a little better. All these years I have telling myself “it hasn’t been so bad”. But I think maybe it has. I think maybe it’s been really bad. And I didn’t want to admit it, I thought I was handling everything, and muddling through the best I could. But I am guessing that it’s going to look and feel pretty bad once I type it all out and read back over it. I don’t want to feel guilty, or ashamed, or “lesser” for admitting that it’s been pretty bad… and yet I do feel that way…and so I’ve admitted nothing all this time.

You’ll probably want to come back another day, once I get this out of my system.

I moved back to Florida from NJ in October of 2011 after finally getting out of a long-term, and long-terrible relationship. At this time, I had moved in with my sister and her husband, who lived an hour or so away from my grandparents. I almost immediately began driving to visit them every Sunday; I’d bring them lunch and afterward, do their grocery shopping for them, as my grandmother was nearly immobile and this task was becoming too much for my grandfather. They were in their 90s and had been pretty independent up until then. And as I had just started dating someone who lived nearby, this was a nice arrangement; I’d spend Saturday with him, Sunday with the grandparents, and then head back home to Orlando. This was a practice I would keep up for the next year or so.

In late 2012, my mother, who also lived a little over an hour away from me now, collapsed in the street one night after exiting a cab home from working her night-shift job. A jogger found her some hours later and she was rushed to the hospital. The diagnosis was late stage lung cancer that had spread to her brain. They operated immediately, removed the cancer from her head, and she shortly thereafter started chemotherapy treatments for the rest of it. I will never forget visiting her in the hospital pre-surgery and seeing how crazed and confused and volatile and violent she was acting. It was terrifying. Post-surgery, she was just… confused. She sat up in bed and tried to eat some soup, and then held up the utensil she had been trying to spoon the soup out of the bowl with–a small, disposable comb. “I guess you can’t eat soup with a comb,” she laughed.

What my sister and I had to do next was not so funny. My mother had been living in a tiny house that she had filled with a hoard of cats and dogs and made no provisions for them when she was not around. We knew that she could no longer stay there–she was probably going to be transferred to a rehab facility–and we also knew we could not count on her for any sort of assistance in getting the place cleaned up. She was renting, and unfortunately, this house was beyond trashed. Animal filth all over the place, the smell permeated the very walls. And the walls, aside from stinking, of course, were all torn up. As were both the bathroom and bedroom doors. To bulldoze this house, I think, would have been an affront to the bulldozer.

We did the best we could to haul out all the trash and broken furniture, to clean up all the grime and foulness and filth, to re-home all of those pitiful animals, of which there were between twenty and thirty, most of them very sick by this point. It was disgusting and utterly heartbreaking work. I recall more than once my sister and I crumbling into each other’s arms and sobbing hopelessly.

My mother was transferred to a nursing home and then, once discharged, found another place to rent. From the same landlord who had rented the last house to her! What! To this day I do not understand this situation at all, but apparently these people loved my mother, despite the fact that she utterly trashed their property. She was very charming, and I think many people fell under her spell. I saw glimpses of this myself from time to time, but to me, and in my memory, that is not who she was. She was mostly just… troubled and troublesome. I was surprised to learn that she had the foresight to have gotten cancer insurance and other coverages, and so she didn’t have to worry about working while she recovered in her new home, a peculiar little cottage near the beach, with crooked floors and cramped rooms which she somehow filled with new things and, unbelievably–new animals. This vexed me to no end, but there was no point in saying anything because my mother would do whatever she wanted to do.

Meanwhile, my grandparents were having more and more issues. I learned that my grandfather’s sight was leaving him; he had taken to bringing my grandmother along on his appointments so that she could tell him what color the traffic lights were! When she confessed this to me I was horrified. But he was a very proud, independent man, and he was clinging to what small freedoms he could. This was the time for me to start doing more, though, so I moved in with the man I had been dating for over a year now, and as luck would have it, he lived less than 10 minutes down the road from them. Now I was able to stop by a few times during the week and bring meals, or take the odd lunch hour here and there to bring them to appointments. It was a good thing for everyone. I was flush with the glow of a new relationship and was thrilled to be spending more time with my beau, and I felt a little bit more secure about my grandparents, as they were only a short trip away.

I did not, however, tell my mother that I was living closer to her. I was afraid that she would manipulate me and take advantage of me, and my grandparents, fearing the same thing, begged me not to tell her, either. So I did not. If I agreed to take her to her treatments (which I did, frequently) or spend the weekend with her (which my sister and I did, several times), I just let her believe that I was coming in from Orlando to do so. The knowledge that I was much in much closer proximity to her now was not something I wanted her privy to, and my entire family agreed on this point.

2013 was a-whirl with all of these things, appointments and treatments and errands and grocery shopping, and really, none of it mine. I let so many personal things–health-wise, growth-wise, normal-stuff-you-gotta-do-wise, etc.–slide during these few years because I had no time or energy to even think about it for myself. And even though the year was drawing to a close and many people might be reflecting on these things, they were not at the forefront of my mind. It was a few weeks before Christmas, a Sunday night, and my mother called to tell me that her cancer was gone–everything was OK, that she planned on coming for Christmas dinner at my grandparents, and she’d like us to have prime rib. I may have been rolling my eyes at this point, because one: we never really did a whole year of seasonal family dinners, it was usually just Thanksgiving, and so for my mother to assume we were doing Christmas dinner was sort of weird, and two: most of the time she didn’t even show up at the one Thanksgiving dinner we had each year! But whatever. My mother was well, she wanted a dinner, and it was to be prime rib. I would make it happen.

The next day my sister phoned to tell me that my mother was dead.

Apparently she had passed away sometime during the night; there was coffee in the coffee maker, so I guess she had filled it with water and grounds the night before, and set the timer for the next morning, fully expecting to be having a cup with Sweet-n-low and Coffee-Mate. But it was so strange. She’d just told me the night before that she had a clean bill of health–was that even true? I don’t know why I question this, but I don’t remember what the autopsy said, or if there even was one, and well, my mom was weird. Who knows why she ever said the things she said or did the things she did. It didn’t matter, I suppose. Dead is dead.

She of course left no last wishes, no will, no funeral arrangements. Between the three of us, my sisters and I came up with the cremation costs and we got it taken care of, along with re-homing all of the new pets. Fortunately for us, the landlord took care of getting rid of most of the furniture and such. I am not sure why…maybe they felt sorry for us, maybe they could use those things for their various properties, maybe they just really loved my mother? Maybe all three. I didn’t question it; I was just so glad not to have to go through all of that all over again.

As we went into 2014 I was able to focus more on my grandparents, who weren’t getting any younger. More appointments, always with the grocery shopping. That July they lost power; just their house, no one else on the block was affected. My grandfather couldn’t figure out what was going on and seemed to be freaking out about it (he was a pretty stoic guy, so for him to seem distressed was alarming for me) so I rushed over, spent the majority of the afternoon on the phone with the electric company who said that they couldn’t get someone out until the next day. I spent the remainder of the afternoon there, clearing out their freezer and refrigerator and putting everything into coolers so their food wouldn’t go bad; I spent the night there, so that there would be no dark-house night time weirdness. Eventually the power company did some work and the issue was resolved, but somehow this spelled the beginning of a very long and drawn out end for my grandparents.

Emergency phone calls became more and more frequent; my grandmother was prone to spills, but now my grandfather was having them too. In January of 2015 he discovered an infection and was hospitalized for a week; I spent that whole week and then the next at their house while he was gone, and once he was back. Shortly thereafter there was an incident with some stolen mail; at that point he and I went to the bank together and put my name on their accounts so that I could write out checks and pay bills for them and they didn’t have to worry about money being stolen from their mail box, or forgetting to pay a bill all together. I think this was incredibly demoralizing for him, and he never quite seemed to bounce back. In April he had a small stroke and fell again; he was rushed to the hospital, and I hurried over to their house, around 9pm or so, so that my grandmother wouldn’t be alone. All that night I dreamed I heard him opening up the garage door that led into the kitchen, and announcing that he was home, but those were only dreams. And the truth was that my grandfather would never come home again.

After a few weeks in the hospital, he was transferred to a nursing home, where he would stay for another two weeks. We had gotten notice that they were releasing him on an afternoon in late May; hospice had just come out to the house and set up a hospital bed and oxygen tank. As the techs were leaving, we received a call from the nursing home. My grandfather had just died.

Breaking this news to my grandmother was gut-wrenching. They had been together for over seventy years and she was devastated, but as it turns out, she would go on to live another two years before she would join him. Things were getting  more difficult to handle now: with him now gone, she would need full time care. She was still able to get around with her walker–just barely–but it had been years since she had driven anyway or done any cooking or cleaning. So at this point, aside from my grandfather’s final arrangements (they had pre-paid cremation plans, so at least that was somewhat taken care of) now we had to figure out the dilemma about what to do with my grandmother. For the first month or so, I was living there full-time. This, however, was unsustainable. Though I work from home, I have a very intensive full-time job. Granted, there are days when it is slow, and if I am being honest I might even sneak in an episode of whatever show I’m currently into, or some knitting. Most days though, I am on the phone from before 8am to after 6pm; I am handling operational and admin duties, I act as a personal assistant to my boss, and I am doing the support work for three other people.  I am constantly at my desk, and it’s difficult to walk away from anything, at any time.

We tried hiring the services of a well-known home care company, and that didn’t work out so well. I should have known better. I actually worked for this same place while I was in college, in both an admin and a care-giving role, and so I knew more or less what to expect. For the most part the people that these places hire are not the most caring, conscientious, or reliable employees. They would leave my grandmother alone, forget to feed her, sometimes leave the house entirely. We had to constantly switch out people because they were consistently so awful. And the bills were adding up. One month of full-time care alone was nearly 15K, and after several months of this, I was seeing a rapid decline in terms of their finances. This money had to be able to last as long as she was going to last, and at this rate, we’d be out of options within less than two years–and my grandmother was pretty tenacious thing, so we had to plan for much longer than that.

She was on a wait-list for a local assisted living facility, but she really did not want to go, and it broke my heart to force her to do something she didn’t want to do. ALFs are expensive, too, but not as bad as home care, and we were hoping the level of care would be much greater. In November, after six months of spotty care, we had a bit of a break, and a minor miracle, really. Our sister’s best friend had some medical background, and was between jobs and schooling at that point in time. We hired her at much more reasonable rate (but one I still hope was very fair) to move in and care for my grandmother. This was a solution that worked for everyone. Our friend had a steady income while she studied and did things for licensure, my grandmother got to stay in her home, they both got along fabulously and my sisters and I knew she was being taken care of by someone we could trust. I still had to do grocery shopping and keep the house full of the things it needed, I still dropped in almost every afternoon for a visit, but finally I could breathe.

Though her health worsened, she remained lucid and feisty, with a tremendous appetite for gossip and junk food (Cheetos and Twinkies were often purchased grocery list items.) In January of 2017, sadly, she begin to rapidly decline. Our live-in friend called me in tears on New Years Day to tell me that our grandmother no longer recognized her. She was confined to a hospital bed that hospice had provided and was now getting facility-level care from our friend, who fed and clothed and changed and bathed her. I know this is terribly sad, terribly taxing work on both a physical and emotional level–I got a small taste of it on the days when I would fill in when our friend took a much-needed afternoon or weekend off. It takes an angelic kind of person to do this sort of work, and I am still amazed and grateful that we were able to have that for my grandmother.

My grandmother died on February 15, 2017. The day after Valentines Day. I was working from her house that morning, because our caregiver had a doctor’s appointment, and, of course, my grandmother couldn’t be left alone for even short periods of time. I peeked in at my grandmother, who was snoring softly, and sat down at the dining room table to begin sending out a flurry of emails. Ten minutes later, our friend walked out from my grandmother’s room and quietly said, “I had a feeling it was going to happen today...” I looked up from my screen, I didn’t think I heard her correctly. But I had. Part of me didn’t believe it,. “Are you sure??” I might have asked, running into the room to check for myself, as if my friend wouldn’t know the difference.

And that was the end! I grieved in a normal, timely way for my mother, my grandfather, my grandmother and my now tiny family absent of all beloved elders, and life moved on!
Just kidding!
That was in no way the end.

Once we carried out and collected her wishes for cremation, I contacted her lawyer, who, wow, wonderful, had decided that this was the time to retire and he was passing his 20 year client along to someone else entirely. Ok, fine. I met the new law firm, got the process started, and it was decided that I was to be the personal representative for the estate, as I was the only one local, the only one who had access to bank accounts and personal information, and who intimately knew what had been going on with my grandparents those last few years. It really couldn’t have been anyone else. But I wish it had been. Out of everything else I’ve talked about, dealing with the estate-related things is one of the worst things I have ever had to do.

Two years later we are still dealing with this estate business. Maybe these things always move slowly. Everyone I have spoken with says that it took them two or three years to get things resolved and closed. But I’m just tired. It’s like…my grandmother never died. In life, she hung on so long and although she passed two years ago it is as if she’s still here, fading interminably but hanging on, always in the background of everything I do every day, never moving on to the next world.

I want to move on. I want to properly grieve for my Mawga, whom I loved dearly, fiercely, as much at 42 years of age I did at 4. I don’t think of her or worry and fret and stress out about matters involving her any less now than I did two years ago when she was still with us.. Because I can’t. Because a huge chunk of her existence is still here. And I know the other people affected by this don’t mean me any hurt or harm, but every time I am questioned as to why things are moving so slowly, or what’s wrong with our lawyers, or why is this still dragging on, it crushes me more and more. I feel like I am failing everyone, I am failing my grandmother, and I just am stuck in this limbo of never fully being able to end this and move on, because it’s always one more thing.

So now here it is today. I had a terrible night last night. After a bit of correspondence regarding all of this, in which several instances of things I had said at various points in this process were cut and pasted and repeated back at me, I experienced what I can only think of as some sort of ….disassociation. At one point during the exchange, I froze; I went deaf, my vision blurred, I grew clammy, and suddenly I was somewhere else and it was a decade ago. That horrible man was waking me up at 3am, having dredged up obscure passages from the thousands of emails we had written to each other, for the purpose of throwing something in my face and screaming at me about it until the sun came up. No amount of concessions or apologies ever placated him. This was a common occurrence, and my life was fraught and fragile because of it.

Back in the present, when I realized what was happening, I was advised, in a separate conversation, to step away before I lost all objectivity. Before I did that, I agreed to what was being requested of me, and received a “thank you” for my consent.

Never in my life has “thank you”, or consent, felt so much like a violation. A rape.

I realize this is a revolting and offensive comparison to make, but also think I am in a position to make it.

It is now 1:30pm in the afternoon.This morning I have done what was asked of me.

And ever since I hung up that phone, I have been shaking. And angry. Livid.

[A WHOLE BUNCH OF REDACTED STUFF]*

I realize there are a lot of things, SO MANY THINGS, fueling my rage right now .

[MORE REDACTED STUFF]**

…well, I am not sure that’s my problem anymore. And I have to be OK with that.

Earlier this week I heard someone say something along the lines of, “Not everyone is going to give you a gold star. And you have to be OK with that.” But that’s hard for me. I want everyone to be happy with the work I have done, or just, well, pleased with me, in general. My sister reminds me that as adult children of alcoholics, this is a common issue, and I know it’s one I have struggled with my entire life.  But I can’t make everyone happy. Not everyone is going to feel I have done a good job, nor are they going to give me their approval or a gold star.  I can’t continue to let that sear my soul, and scar my vision, the way it’s done for as long as can remember, the way it informs every decision I make.

I think along the way here I have racked up a lot of stars. I don’t know if they’re all gold, but I at least get some stars for participation, I reckon. For showing up, doing the hard work, for seeing things through. I’ve done OK, I guess. We’re nearly at the end of it though, and I don’t need all the stars. I’ve done what I could, I have done my best. I just need to keep moving forward, and eventually this will pass… and maybe not everyone will be happy, but I am hopeful that I, at least, will have moved on to a better place. Not the same place as my grandmother, of course. Not yet.

Whatever “better” is, I’d like to find it. I just need to get myself there. And I think I definitely get a gold star for that.

* and ** were typed out to get it off my chest initially, and then deleted. Which I realize makes that section a little difficult to parse, but that’s ok. I wrote all of this out because I was having a “fight or flight” reaction today; my adrenaline was up, but I was frozen. My brain was fogged. I had to do something to break the paralysis, and writing helped a little. After reading over it, however, I decided it was best that some things not remain in print.

image credit: dancingmandy96 on redbubble 

Links Of The Dead {March 2019}

“Spring” by Miguel Angélus Batista.

“Spring” by Miguel Angélus Batista.

A gathering of death related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From somber to hilarious, from informative to creepy, here’s a snippet of things that have been reported on or journaled about in or related to the Death Industry recently.

This time last year: Links of the Dead {March 2018} | {March 2017} | {March 2014}

💀 Czechs clean thousands of human bones in ossuary renovation
💀 How a Common Death Ritual Made It Harder to Mourn the Loss of My Mother
💀 Grief and gaming: How I mourned my online friend
💀 Death By 1,000 Clicks: Where Electronic Health Records Went Wrong
💀 Memento Mori Motherfucker: Do Your Job
💀 Lessons In Life And Death From 12-Year-Old Lola
💀 Grief, Loss, & the Cult Of Positivity: Interview with The Mental Illness Happy Hour
💀 Making a Mourner: The Life, Love and Grief of Courtney Lane
💀 After her husband’s opiate overdose, a woman struggles to replace his healing touch with her own.

Ten Favorite Pieces From My Collection by Katie Kierstead of Roses & Rue Antiques

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As the product of two antiques-dealing parents and having grown up in New England surrounded by antiques, perhaps it was inevitable that Katie Kierstead end up a collector and purveyor of heirlooms, curios, and olde-timey objets d’art. But it wasn’t until she discovered the dazzling literary works of Oscar Wilde that she internalized what it meant to be an aesthete, to cultivate an intrinsic sense of beauty for herself, and to be one’s own work of art. She rapidly began accumulating whatever late 19th century odds and ends she could afford, eager to place herself in his world.

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Katie’s antique shop, Roses & Rue, is inspired by an early poem of Wilde’s (one that keenly resonated with her, though not a particularly good poem, she notes) and offers us a glorious glimpse into another era– via a meticulously curated treasure trove of gems from the past, with a focus on sentimental items like mourning jewelry, hair work, and love tokens. She take a fastidious, curatorial approach to collecting, choosing items for their quality, uniqueness, and beauty. These timeless qualities are the hallmark of the items in Katie’s personal collection as well–from which she is sharing ten of her beautiful, beloved favorites with us for this month’s installment of Ten Things!

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1. Victorian figural hand-shaped paperweights

Hands were a very popular design motif during the 19th century and served a variety of functions, from the cold porcelain hands that held salt cellars and vases on dinner tables, to hands clasped in love or friendship in sentimental jewelry. To the modern eye, they smack strongly of the surreal: Disembodied, suggestive; strange. I can’t quite place where my own attraction to these hands began, but I suspect it has something to do with the enchanted household objects in Cocteau’s La belle et la bête.

I have many Victorian hands in my collection- vessels, ex votos, jewelry, and even a wedding cake topper made of wax with a real cloth cuff. However, these two paperweights, one cast iron and the other an unknown metal, stand out as favorites. I cherish them especially because I found them both by chance. That’s often how it goes: Online searches for “Victorian hands” usually turn up a maddening number of results that are neither Victorian nor hand-shaped. Look out for reproductions of these metal hands: Real Victorian pieces will have very lifelike, fine details, and no seams.

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2. Victorian silver locket

This silver locket, which dates to around the 1880s, is the most recent acquisition on the list. I acquired it only last December, and I’m including it simply because it’s just one of those things I have wanted for eons. There are always plenty of Victorian lockets around, but it took me literally years to find one large enough and extravagant enough to suit my tastes. I am no dainty damsel- neither in personality nor in bust circumference, so I just can’t do tiny jewelry: It makes me feel like a bus. At 2 inches long, this is the locket of my dreams.

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3. Floral Forget Me Not, 1853.

I am fortunate enough to have many beautiful antiquarian books in my collection, and I particularly love books from the 1840s-1860s with covers blindstamped in gold. Perhaps this is the book that inspired the obsession? Both of my parents were antique dealers, and this book has been in my mother’s collection for as long as I can remember… At least, until it became a part of mine! (Read: I totally stole this from my mom.) The symbolism of flowers was very important to the Victorians, so collections of verses that correspond to various flowers and their meanings were popular gifts.

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4. Mid-19th century hair album.

During the 19th century, women and young girls arranged locks of hair into elaborate patterns, exchanged them with classmates, family members, and friends, and collected them in scrapbook albums. Paper was still relatively expensive during the mid 19th century, so many of these albums were made from ordinary scrap paper, like mine. This album measures about 3.5” squared, and the hair works inside are roughly the size of a penny.

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5. Victorian miniature hair work on mother of pearl in velvet case

This piece combines two of my favorite things to collect: Victorian hair work and decorative objects made from mother of pearl. Just 2 inches tall, this miniature love token is made from palette worked hair on a disc of mother of pearl inside a purple velvet case, the sort that more commonly held photographs. The forget-me-not raises the possibility that this is a mourning memento, but it could also be simply a remembrance from a loved one who is far away. There seems to be tendency to presume that any Victorian item that involves human hair belongs in the “mourning” bucket, but the truth is that many of these objects are love tokens or family pieces. Unless there is clear language or unmistakable symbolism like a willow or urn, it’s not fair to make a definitive statement one way or the other. Beware of sellers throwing around the word “mourning” willy nilly.

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6. 1860s casket plate

I’ve bought and sold many antique casket plates over the years, but only ever kept one. Its highly detailed imagery with angels, a tombstone, willows, and an urn are more typical of the black and white funeral cards that were popular during this era. Those are my favorite mourning cards to collect, but I had never seen that imagery on a casket plate before. My gut-feeling about its rarity was correct: I’ve been in touch with an archaeologist who collects and catalogs images of casket plates, and in all his years of research he has only seen 7 with this design, all dating from 1859 to 1865.

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7. 19th century German memorial

I’m not really the kind of collector who needs to have a large quantity of the same thing: I have one very nice Victorian hair wreath in a shadowbox, and that’s enough for me. After all, one hair wreath is very like another, and I would rather spend my money on something different and unique. When I stumbled across this piece, I smashed the “Buy It Now” button without even thinking twice.

This shadow box contains a memorial for a pair of siblings who died during the 1860s. Their names and dates of birth and death are written on a paper heart surrounded by a wreath of pink cloth flowers, above which are forget-me-nots made from their blond hair. Blue and pink are colors that are traditionally associated with the Madonna, so this shadowbox displays beautifully beside my Marian relics and sacred hearts.

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8. Victorian shellwork wallpaper box

Victorian shellwork runs the gamut from “sailor’s valentines” assembled by women in Barbados for tourists passing through the port, to unusual folk art treasures like this. It’s unusual to see a wallpaper box painted black, which suggests this may be a mourning piece. I had admired it in a favorite shop for months before it suddenly disappeared. After several more weeks of cursing myself for not buying it when I had the chance, it reappeared at 50% off! I like to think I was meant to have it, but I certainly learned my lesson about procrastinating on a purchase. In the antiques trade we like to tell people, “The time to buy it is when you see it.”

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9. Victorian swordfish bill sword

There’s nothing worse than walking into an antiques shop only to find a homogeneous hodge-podge of milk painted furniture, mid-century knick knacks, reproduction “hearth and home” stuff, and yard sale fodder instead of actual antiques. But sometimes I find the most amazing things in places like that: Where the selection is not closely curated or where true antiques are not the focus, oftentimes there are gems hiding in plain sight.

This piece was propped up against a bookshelf in a crowded corner and labeled “vintage wooden toy sword.” The handle is wood, but the blade is actually a swordfish bill. These were made by sailors during the late 19th century and are usually found in coastal towns.

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10. 19th century French hair work heart

Judging by the quantity of hair and the image of the Christ child at the center, this is likely a devotional piece made by a Catholic nun: Hair cutting is part of a nun’s investiture ceremony, representing the woman’s renunciation of the secular world and its vanities.

giveaway giveaway2

Also! Roses & Rue is teaming up with Seance Perfumes for a giveaway! We’re not hosting it at Unquiet Things, but it definitely bears mentioning as it’s a wonderful opportunity that is no doubt relevant to many readers here. One lucky winner will win a Pre-release of Seance’s newest product, an Eau De Parfum spray of Dearly Departed adorned in a vintage style spritzer bottle with atomizer, as well as an Embalming Oil body lotion. You will also receive a Victorian lay down perfume bottle as well as a deadstock memorial print from the turn of the century from Roses & Rue! Details for this giveaway are on both Roses & Rue’s instagram account as well as Seance Perfumes instagram!

Find Roses & Rue: website // instagram // facebook

Unpopular opinions

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Instead of…the annoying banality of “Living my #bestlife”

Let’s try the more widely experienced, though the less commonly used and perhaps less hashtag friendly (but certainly less smug):

Living my #stressedlife
Living my #depressedlife
Living my #immunosuppressedlife
Living my #obsessedlife
Living my #possessedlife
Living my #housearrestlife

image credit: me

“By My Broom,” Said She

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By my broom,” said she, “I give you no spell against magic.”

It’s taken me three years, but I have finally finished reading Lord Dunsany’s The King Of Elfland’s Daughter. It was a bit of a slog, but I’ll confess: this enchanting passage kicks off the point at which the story begins to redeem itself for me (20 pages from the end, oh well.)  The ageless, enigmatic Ziroonderel is the star of the show as far as I’m concerned. “As though magic were not the spice and essence of life, its ornament and its splendor.” Quite right! Send that parliament of old fools packing, you wise, wonderful old thing!

This title marks the first of my five goal books read in 2019, though it is book 25 of the total read so far this year. Next up: The Dark Eidolon and Other Fantasies by Clark Ashton Smith, which I began in late summer of 2017 and was actually enjoying very much, but I became distracted by other books, set it aside, and it was soon buried and forgotten.

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