It’s That Time Of Year Again

IMG_8820It’s the time of year where I ignore all of my obligations, ignore even the activities I enjoy, really, and devote my entire being to knitting all the things. I don’t know why I don’t get this frantic urge in the winter months, when it’s cold and the chill calls for cozy time activities; I mean that would make the most sense. But no, I feel the irresistible call of the clicking wooden needles and the silken and squishy yarns and all of the lovely patterns I’ve had my eye on…in the spring months. When the tiny green buds are unfurling and the birds are twittering, and somewhere someone’s sidewalk is overrun with weekend morning rabbits (I know this happens elsewhere, though I’ve never seen them in Florida) and the breeze is still cool but it’s warmed by the promise of fiery July sunsets and the sweet, narcotic dream of tiny white jasmine blossoms. All of these things are very nice indeed, but no, they’re not the thing waking my itchy fingers, my craving for creating and corralling little loops and links, knits and knots, bound with needles, and if I’m being honest, a hair or two from my own head (sometimes it’s even an accident!)

I think it must the the light. The days have gotten longer and the afternoon sunlight through the dusty windows at the back of my house is yellow and soft and peaceful, and–lord knows I am generally no fan of sunlight– but in March I can’t simply can’t resist a 6pm beam of light across a crumpled sofa cushion, and I find myself compelled to bask in its golden glow. And there can be no basking without knitting.

I guess my point is, that’s why my interest (and instagram feeds) turns into 24/7 knitting nonsense this time every year. My books gather dust for a few months, and the oven grows cold and new recipes go untried; my other hobbies and passions, which I usually try to portion out in equal amounts, just get ignored for a bit, while I amass a pile of finished knits, woolen socks and warming shawls–just in time for summer’s heat.

(Featured knit is Evelyn Clark’s Swallowtail Shawl, which was all the rage with knitting bloggers a year or so after I started knitting–2006ish?–and which at that time I thought was too complicated to even attempt! More than a decade later, I am pleased to report that it’s a lovely pattern and is quite simple.)

this, that, and the other thing {xlvii}

Orlando

Virginia Woolf’s ORLANDO: A Biography In Fragrances
Crazy Plant Ladies Through the Ages
Grounding And Visualizing With Vinyl Records
The Colorful and Clairvoyant History of Aura Photography
A Brief History Of Bob Haircuts In French Movies
Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Ask Christopher Pike
Amsterdam’s museum dedicated to cats in art
Who Needs Astrology: From Myth To Memes, A Writer Wonders About The Stars
8 Very Good Time Traveling Doggos
This Octopus’s Dreams (Maybe) Were Written All Over Its Body
Download the ModulAir, a Free Polyphonic Synthesizer, and Make Your Own Electronic Sounds

Currently {March 2019}

doll headI suppose it’s time to take a moment for a bit of a spring-time check-in…

Sadly…well, not sadly, exactly…but whatever-ly, I guess… I don’t post up my “Currently” monthly updates in as timely a manner as I did there for a good long chunk of time. I mean, I realize no one is losing any sleep over not knowing what I am up to, but it was a nice exercise to be able to take a moment to reflect on the things I had accomplished, both big and little, over a recent span of time, and to be able to share, “hey, I made this thing!” or “whoa, I found this out, and I’d really like to share it with you!”. But more and more often, these Currently check-ins have just been feeling like a chore to cross off a list rather than an accounting of recent achievements and discoveries to delight in. And maybe that’s the problem right there; I used the word  “accounting” just now. Why would I phrase it that way? I mean that just sounds dull and boring and something to avoid, right? That’s how I have come to think of it. Perhaps I need to shift my perspective. How does one do that, anyway? Something to think on for next time.

Mosaic Knitting brioche

In the spirit of “hey I made this!” here are two not particularly impressive things that I have made recently. I decided that I wanted to learn a few new knitting techniques this year and formed a two-person knitting group with my friend J. to this end. As an aside, even if it is just online, there is no way that I can participate in group activities. It makes me too anxious. I have a difficult time even replying to facebook comment threads, sometimes. Back in the day, you would never find me in an AOL chatroom. Omg. I am sweating even thinking about it! Online, as in real life, I do so much better in one-on-one activities and conversations. So I am definitely not going to be found in a room full of real life human knitters and I am also not going to be joining an internet collective, either. No way, no how! Just one friend to support and encourage and challenge me is quite enough, thank you very much.

Our first task was to tackle mosaic knitting, a color work technique involving simple slipped stitches and some intermittent knits and purls, dreamed up by the legendary Barbara Walker. I didn’t really love this method; maybe it was the fact that my colors were too close in shade to contrast much, or maybe my stitches too loose, but I couldn’t really see the pattern unfolding before me, which made made it feel…not very intuitive, I guess? Both in anticipating the next step in the instructions or as it relates to cleaning up any mistakes. ALSO, and this is the part I resent the most, it was very hard to mutlitask and binge The Umbrella Academy while knitting this. I had to pay absolute attention to my knitting to ensure that the design was consistent, and sure, I have no problem doing that with an exquisitely intricate lace shawl, but I’m not about to strain my eyes on what’s supposed to be a relatively simple system of stitchwork. At the end of it all I knit up a baby blanket for a friend and I was glad to be rid of it.

Next we took on brioche knitting, a technique that a friend of mine describes as her “final boss”, or the most difficult challenge to undertake and defeat. Brioche is a little hard to describe, and in a simple pattern, it might be hard to tell that it’s anything special, like the photo above. In a more complicated pattern, however, it’s pretty mind-bending. It involves “tucked” stitches–yarn overs that are knitted together with a slipped stitch from the previous row, and form a second layer of knitting in front of the first layer that sort of looks like arches or fish-scales. I am sorry to say that I think I hated brioche knitting even more than mosaic knitting. Though…it could quite possibly be the yarn I was using, or the pattern wasn’t working for me. Which the swatch, above, seems OK, the hat that built on these skills was a giant failure.

What have I learned from all of this? That learning is dumb and awful. And I guess I’d better do more of it.

bourgignon butter chicken spanish rice stroganoff tikka masala

I did a little learning too, with the Instant Pot that I received as a gift from my sister. I have been afraid to use it, I thought that maybe I’d blow up the house or something. Pressure cookers have always held a vague sense of danger, as far as I am concerned. Even their mere presence in the garage, unplugged and gathering dust on a shelf. Just their existence in my home seemed to herald some far-off-but-definitely-one-day explosion of doom. It seemed a shame, though, to let it languish, assigned as some obscure lower-level threat next to an ugly but perfectly harmless vase and a not-so-oven-safe Pyrex dish, so in January I finally began to experiment with it.

The house still stands, but it is quite stinky, as since I overcame my kitchen appliance anxiety, I have been using the instant pot every chance I get.  Some of the recipes I have tried so far:

I believe most, if not all of these recipes were vegan, and even though I am not vegan (I’m not even vegetarian, really) I made all of them according to their directions, without sneaking in any dairy or chicken broth or anything like that.. and they were mostly quite good! Next up, I think I am going to try an instant pot version of gumbo or paella, or kimchi jigae, if such things exist.

books2

Reading! Well, that’s always happening. If you peek at my Goodreads 2019 challenge, you might get the impression that I have completed my challenge and that I am 420% done, having read 21 books out of 5. And while I did set for myself a goal of five books, what Goodreads does not account for is that I have designated five very specific books as my end goal for 2019. I set out to read five particular titles that have given me trouble in the past decade or so, books that for whatever reason, I never finished. And basically, so far, I have read just about every other book but those five–and technically, zero percent of my challenge is done.

I am, however, 3/4 of the way through The King Of Elfland’s Daughter, so that will soon count as being 20% toward my goal!

I’ve written my January and February reviews over at Haute Macabre already, but if you want the TLDR version, these are the titles not to miss:

I am trying my best, and have been consciously attempting for a while now, to diversify my reading stacks to include more narratives from authors whose human experience is different from my own, and literature that reflects the lives of all kinds of people. I’m always a little bit afraid to talk about these things aloud (although I have conversations in my head about it all the time) because I worry that I don’t have the correct language for it, and in discussing my aims, I may end up looking stupid… which is OK I guess…or offending or insulting someone, which is definitely not OK, and which I would feel terribly about.

My reading list, actively, and in an ongoing way, includes titles from POC authors, LGBQTIA, differently abled or disabled authors, authors who fall somewhere along or at either end of any spectrum–I am seeking them out, reading their books, and supporting their efforts because if I don’t expand and become aware of what goes on beyond my own sphere of existence, then I am ensuring that my life remains very, very small. I mean, I probably don’t have to explain why it’s a good and important thing to read books written by a diverse range of people, right? The world contains more than just your story, or mine; it’s important, empowering, and beautiful to hear all of those voices. Anyway, all this wasn’t a lead up for you to hand me a cookie or a trophy or whatever this kind of talk goes for nowadays, but I would appreciate some suggestions of books you have enjoyed or learned from lately that were not written by white-cis-het males (or their female counterparts, really.)

lana

Some miscellaneous other stuff…

How Bad Crab Leads To A Giveaway

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[GIVEAWAY CLOSED! A WINNER IS CHOSEN! CONGRATS SUSAN, CHECK YR EMAIL!]

After a ruthless bout of Swedish Death Cleaning, this morning while I had time on my hands after rescheduling my counseling appointment due to some bad crab last night (why have you betrayed me, crab legs? I love you so!) I have whittled my unruly collection of fragrance samples down to about twenty five.

What to do with the other hundreds? Would you like them? There are lots and lots of of lovely niche and indie scents in here, manufacturers samples, and samples from places like Lucky Scent, and Twisted Lily, and decants from Surrender To Chance and The Perfumed Court, and probably only a tiny amount of boring Sephora perfume sprayers, which I feel I need to point out, because who really wants those? Fuck off, Marc Jacobs Daisy! Well, there are a few of those, too. There are also some vials and tiny bottles that were given to me by this friend or that, who gave me samples from their own collection, or perhaps passed something on that didn’t work for them. Maybe they will work for you? There are so many fragrances here to sniff and sample and fall in love with, or pass on!

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If you’d like this GLAD bag full o’ samples*, and whatever else I’ve got lying around that I might throw in a box for you, leave a comment below and tell me something interesting. Could be something you learned, could be a piece of news, it could be something about yourself–whatever! I’m spending a lot of time on the toilet today and need some interesting links to click! I will choose a winner on Monday morning!

It probably doesn’t need to be said, but these are vials and sprayers and bottles that I have sampled, myself; some are completely full, some might be halfway full, some might only have a drop or two left. If you’re weirded out by free stuff that someone else has used, well, now you are forewarned!

*Friends outside the U.S. I love you dearly, but I really don’t want to pay for that kind of shipping or deal with the hassle, so this little giveaway is for in-country only.

Ten Things That Bring Me Joy From Angela St. John Of Solstice Scents

LEAD PHOTO

If you are a fragrance-fiend or have a passion for perfume, chances are you are familiar with Angela St. John and her wildly imaginative aromatic enchantments at Solstice Scents.  Angela is brilliant at bottling atmospheres, and creates original, ingenious fragrances by illustrating new worlds, abstract concepts and experiences in an olfactive format.

It was through Angela’s perfumed portrayal of a handful of delectable gourmand concepts, that I, a former enemy of the entire family of foodie-fragrances, finally started becoming less hostile toward, for example, chocolate-, cakey, honey- or caramel-forward scents! And though no doubt it is due to her skilled artistry as a perfumer, evoking imagery of these delicious treats through her molecular smell-sorcery (or smell-science, depending on how you think about these things), she is also an extraordinarily gifted story-teller–through both her fragrances and their accompanying narratives, she crafts scented spaces, places, and times that utterly delight and transport.

I have gotten to know Angela over the years, and she, herself, is a delight! We geek out over perfumes and cocktails, smelling-notes and tasting-notes, and it’s a top-priority bucket-list item to actually get a chance to sit down with her and swoon over these things in person. Few things give me more joy than communing with a kindred spirit, and I definitely consider Angela one such like-minded soul.

Speaking of things that bring us joy…! Our Ten Things Installment this month is Angela’s ten things that bring her joy, and I don’t know about you, but I have had a Very Bad Week, and I could certainly use a bit of that elusive joy right now. And for those among you up north, enduring your umpteenth snow storm–I remember what it was like to live in that weather, and how, by the time February rolls around, it feels like winter has persisted for 100 years and it will be winter and snow and cold and misery eternally, forever. I’ll bet you could also use some some ideas and items for your rituals and practice of coping stress and sadness, and some tools for mental wellness and peace. Some things to bring some light and joy into your heart…or your ears, or nose, or whatever works for you! See below and bliss out to some of Angela’s suggestions.

Golden Lotus

1. Golden Lotus Electric Incense Heater 

I enjoy burning resins and woods within my home for a variety of reasons: mental, spiritual/intentional and for the sheer pleasure of being enveloped in the aromatics. While I enjoy smoldering resins on charcoal, this method often creates a fumigating level of smoke in the room. For a more subtle experience that generates less smoke and loads of fragrance, utilizing an electric warmer for resins, oud, sandalwood chips and so on creates a beautiful olfactory setting for your sacred space. You have control over the temperature so you may set it higher for resins or slightly lower for woods and dried botanical blends.

I’ve had my warmer for many years and use it frequently. I highly recommend Katlyn’s Dragon’s Tears and Kyphi to go with the warmer. Her resins and palo santo are also of the highest quality.

Moss Incense

2. Shoyeido Nokiba (Moss Garden) incense sticks 

On the topic of incense, Shoyeido Nokiba is my top favorite incense stick and my daily burn. It is a gorgeous natural blend of aromatic woods and plants. I collect incense from all over the world but prefer the Japanese style for its fragrant expression and the lower smoke production from its Tibetan or Indian counterparts. I’ve tried a variety of blends from several of the top Japanese houses and this particular one remains my favorite. I always start my day with a stick of Nokiba and foresee this ritual to continue for as long as Nokiba is in production. The affordable price tag makes it an easy daily practice to indulge in.

TEA

3. Moon Ease Tea 

This highly effective and convenient blend of plant allies lovingly assists with the pain associated with our moon times. I make my own blend for myself featuring cramp bark as the main active paired with skullcap, mints, marshmallow root and more, but I have tried and highly recommend the “Moon Ease” blend if you do not have a connection with a local herbalist or do not already make your own blend.

FAR INFRARED THERAPY MAT

4. Healthyline TAO Inframat Pro – Far Infrared Gemstone therapy mat: 

I am linking to an extensive article that I wrote on this far infrared therapy (FIR) mat for anyone interesting in learning more. Over the years, I’ve introduced many aspects of vibrational therapy/energy healing into my life as an overall protocol to reduce stress/lower cortisol levels, heal mind and body and instill a sense of peace in my daily life. I utilize many different tools from sound therapy (see #5), aromatherapy, crystal therapy/gem essences, flower essences and FIR. I have both a full size FIR mat for the whole body and a few small mats for my office chair and bedroom.

FIR is able to get hotter than and penetrate deeper than traditional heating pads. I use this during my moon time to ease pain, for sore back and muscles and for general mood lifting and relaxing. The FIR passes through the pounds of gemstones (amethyst, tourmaline ceramic and obsidian) and emits negative ions which have been shown to lift the mood. I utilize my large mat everyday while reading, journaling or napping and also use it as a sauna since the mat comes with a Mylar space blanket and can reach up to approximately 140 degrees Fahrenheit. I enjoy laying the small TAO mat across my stomach when winding down after dinner to help digest and relax before bed. The warmth is extremely relaxing and I absolutely cannot do without it as a part of my daily ritual. It’s especially great to do crystal body layouts while laying on the large mat and it is an excellent place to meditate as well.

SOUND HEALING

5. Sound therapy 

The link above will take you to one of my favorite examples of singing bowls and sound therapy. I recommend that you use headphones, if you have them available, in order to experience being submerged in the sound and to feel the vibrations going through your body.

Sound therapy covers a whole host of techniques under the wider umbrella of vibrational therapy/energy healing modality. It focuses on utilizing sound through either instruments or vocal toning to affect change on a mental, spiritual and physical level. A theory exists that vibrational frequencies can affect the crystalline structure of water both positively and detrimentally (see Masaru Emoto’s work). As beings primarily made up of water, vibrations imbued with loving intention can perhaps change our very makeup. I utilize sound therapy to “raise my vibration” and ahead of meditation to help quiet the mind and instill a sense of peace and calm. It is an excellent way to reduce stress, stimulate the pineal gland, plant seeds of intention, affect our energetic biofields (auras) and become closer to source. Vibrational medicine utilizes tools previously mentioned in this article to restore harmonic resonance as one component of holistic healing. I use a variety of instruments in my sound healing practice: crystal singing bowls, Tibetan singing bowls, solfeggio tuning forks, Koshi chimes, ocean drum, Native American flute, tingsha cymbals, rain stick, drums and so on. My favorite tools to affect a dramatic change in mental state are the singing bowls and tuning forks.

If you wish to learn more about sound therapy, check out the work of Jonathan Goldman and one of my top favorite books on the subject by Eileen McKusick, Tuning the Human Biofield. I feel the most effective way to experience sound healing is to work with the instruments yourself, or attend a live sound healing if there are practitioners in your area, as you can really feel the vibrations of them in “live” format. There are many beautiful videos for free on Youtube to begin exploring the soundscape. The hang drum/hand pan and gongs are other examples of otherwordly and beautiful instruments that are wonderful for sound healing. The subject is complex and contains many other modalities and topics such as Rife frequencies, binaural beats, chanting, vocal toning and more to affect your vibration.

ASTRO PLANER

6. The Magic of I astrological planner

Never will I ever be without this incredible planner for as long as they continue to make it. What a game changer. I adore the format, the correspondence information, the areas for intention setting and working with the moon and the aesthetic. It is the perfect planner for me. I use mine to journal, record daily tarot and oracle pulls and set weekly, monthly and yearly intentions – and record their progress with the full moon. I use a planner from Open Sea Design Co. that I purchased at the Haute Macabre store for work tasks, to-do lists and so on but the Magic of I planner is solely for spiritual and journaling purposes. I have a more in depth review on my Instagram here, for those interested.

DRAM PALO SANTO BITTERS

7. Craft Bitters, especially the Palo Santo Bitters from Dram Apothecary

I love craft cocktails and specifically enjoy unusual bitters, liqueurs and infusions. The palo santo bitters taste exactly like palo santo smells. I love anything and everything palo santo. I’ll take these straight up as a digestive stimulant because I love the taste. I also enjoy them in water, tea (especially the Juniper Ridge Douglas Fir Tips tea) and with Breckenridge Bourbon Whiskey or St. George Spirits Terroir Gin. I also enjoy the Bar Keep Lavender bitters with vanilla bean infused vodka or as an addition to blueberry moonshine. The lavender fragrance and aroma is very strong, like lavender essential oil!  A bonus craft cocktail favorite of mine is the Royal Rose Organic Rose Syrup; It is amazing with a London dry gin such as No. 3 Gin but pairs wonderfully with a variety of spirits and teas.

ANTIMONY PERFUME

8. Antimony perfume by House of Matriarch

I enjoy many of Christi’s perfumes but Antimony stole my heart from the start. We participated with Christi in a project for Cafleurebon called “Project Talisman”. Antimony was Christi’s submission for the project. It is a natural blend comprised of 111 essences. It’s just a stunning fragrance that dries down to the most luxurious and narcotic dragon’s blood type of aroma. I have a more detailed review here

Acorn cookies

9. Acorn cookies from Glorious Forest Apothecary

I was hesitant to include this on the list as she does not currently have a batch opening advertised on her site, so if you want to try these amazing cookies you may not be able to until the end of the year. However, I loved them so much and they were a highlight of 2018 for me so here they are. These gluten free cookies are made with the nut meat of white oak acorns that Glorious Forest processes herself. The flavor is similar to gingerbread, without any additional spices or molasses to provide that classic flavor. They are slightly nutty and very buttery. They were just such a special niche food experience and I am dying to get my hands on more! They are especially wonderful paired with her very low sugar Elderberry Jam or with Heidi’s Raspberry Farm’s Lavender Raspberry Jam (which really should be its own favorite on this Ten Things list!)

ILNP SIRENE NAIL POLISH

10. ILNP’s Sirene multichrome polish:
I love polish, especially multichrome’s and holographic polish. Out of the 100+ bottles in my collection, Sirene has to be my top favorite. It is a jewel tone multichrome polish that flashes from teal to dark purple to emerald green. It does require three thin coats with a lot of dry time between coats 2 and 3, but I think it is absolutely worth it for the end result. I usually apply the first coat in the evening, which dries very quickly, then the second and wait until the next morning to apply the third. I prefer not to use a fast drying top coat due to damage they’ve caused my nails, but you may opt to go that route. This color is just mesmerizing, like the chatoyancy you experience in a really saturated flashy labradorite.

Find Solstice Scents: website // instagram // facebook // twitter

Links Of The Dead {February 2019}

How Sweet To Rest by Ally Burke

How Sweet To Rest by Ally Burke

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 {February 2018} | {February 2017} | {February 2016}

💀A Whale’s Afterlife
💀How To Widow
💀Valentine’s Day When You’re Grieving
💀What Medical School Doesn’t Teach About Death
💀Letters To The Dead: Shadow Writing For Grief And Release
💀See a Rare Visualization of Grief in the Art of Jennifer Rodgers
💀Play This At My Funeral: Interview With Jezebel Jones Of Bye Bye Banshee
💀Once forgotten, this historic African American cemetery now houses a poignant memorial.
💀Academy Award-nominated film ‘End Game’ examines end-of-life care
💀A reminder that our definition of death is man-made.
💀Why you never really die: A microbiologist explains all the ways the body lives on

Moncler 4 Simone Rocha Fall 2019 Ready To Wear

00005-MONCLER-SIMONE-ROCHA-2019-READY-TO-WEARMoncler 4 Simone Rocha Fall 2019 Ready To Wear: a collection that gently encourages you to take off for the deepest, darkest wood you can reach on foot, and then, after catching your breath and spending a moment to locate just the right spot on the mossy forest floor, beneath a shadowy elm, near a patch of violets or lady’s mantle, you can take off your coat–which doubles as a luxe down comforter, or a satiny quilt, or your Aunt Franny’s ruffled heirloom coverlet–and have a lovely lie down. Sweetest dreams, fashion plates.

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Obsessions, Meditations, And Connections: Catching Up With Photographer Rik Garrett

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I have been fascinated with the powerful symbolism and deep sense of spirit, energy, and connection in Rik Garrett‘s art, since maybe even before the release of his incredible Earth Magic book (from which a stunning Witches Sabbath print sits on a shelf in my office and delights my dark, wild, secret heart every day) so it was such a thrill to catch up with him about his recent work and inspirations for our interview over at Haute Macabre this week!

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