Archive of ‘currently’ category

Currently {11.28.17}

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I’ll sum up November quickly: I fretted a lot, I feasted too much, and I miss my sisters desperately, having had them near me for one wonderful week, and now they gone. Other than that, I got, as they say, nothin‘.

Instead I’ll tell you about some of my favorite things this month!

Pumpkin Spice Snake Oil from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Halloween release. I received this one after I’d already written some Weenie reviews over at Haute Macabre, but this would have made top of my list, if I had sniffed it at the time! Snake Oil, a blend of “exotic Indonesian oils sugared with vanilla” is a gorgeous and intoxicating, but fiercely potent brew and– as much as I love it–I have to be careful wearing it around sensitive noses and sometimes it even gives me a fit of sneezes!  This pumpkin spice version is tempered by some pumpkin spices that I can’t even really discern, but it definitely makes for a kinder, gentler Snake Oil. I have been wearing it every day for the last week. And…it’s still in stock! I would advise you to grab it while you can.

Graces elixir from Sister Spinster. I own several potions and elixirs from Sister Spinster; I love the concept of encouraging self-care and empowerment through wild blooms and floral abundance. Do they work? Well, I don’t rightly know. I like to think so? I can tell you that a dropperful of Graces, with its mixture of chamomile, skullcap, linden, lemon balm, lavender and violet leaf infused in brandy with local honey, and taken with intent when I am feeling anxious, nervous, stressed or in the dark….well, it makes me feel like I am taking a moment to collect myself. And sometimes I think that’s either all you need, or it’s the first in a series of steps needed to get you beyond your anxiousness.

Lip Balms from Pollux and Key: I have the Cocoa Mallow Balm and the Chamomile Hibiscus Balm. I ordered these on a whim because I loved the unique combination of ingredients they presented (and the fact that these are non-minty lip balms, although if that’s your thing, they have a peppermint one, too.) After using them though, I tell you what–these are utterly lovely. They are slippy and soothing, not at all chalky or waxy, and the fragrances is very, very subtle. I can catch a tiny whiff of it, and whatever it is, it’s pleasant, but it’s barely there at all. And they seem to be flavorless, which I also love. I only wish they they had a version packaged in a tube; the tins are very pretty, and I don’t mind using my fingers, but a tube would work better for travel and I’d really like to throw one of these in every single tote bag I own (and that’s a lot of tote bags.)

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The Spellbound leggings from Black Milk, which I nabbed as soon as I saw my stunning friend Maika wearing them, and which have quickly become my favorite things ever. I had a pair of leggings that I’d gotten from Black Milk a few years back and never wore because I thought they were uncomfortable…it turns out I just needed to wear a larger sizer. Who knew!

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Speaking of which, isn’t this some marvelous advice with regard to friendship? “…meet those that recognize the wound within the both of you.” Indeed, that is exactly what I try to do! This very excellent suggestion comes courtesy Ask Baba Yaga: Otherworldly Advice for Everyday Troubles by Taisia Kitaiskaia. I cannot recommend this strange little book full of wild, wise, and wonderful counsel highly enough.

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In making up for the fact that our mattress is approx. 200 years old, I may have created a monster bed, one that drains my productivity and diminishes my number of waking hours. Between the Ghost and buckwheat pillows and the insanely high thread count sheets and the fluffiest, coziest duvet, I’m really just trapped in here, forever. The crowning glory? The eyeball-searing William Morris “seaweed” linen set. I had a tough time finding a website that would ship to the U.S.  but if you are one of the people whose gaze has not yet fallen on this thing and you are interested in napping on it yourself, you can find it, and a few other William Morris patterned designs at Amara.

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Lastly, if you like whiskey and you have a spare $70, I have stumbled upon a terrific one for you: Nikka Coffee Grain Whisky. I am definitely not an expert in such matters, but it is described as having “rich oak” and “marmalade” notes. Whatever that means? A lot of reviewers note that it’s a bit on the sweet side, and normally I am not a fan of dessert-y type drinks, but this is delicious.

Your turn! Got any recommendations for me?

Currently {October 2017}

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It makes me very grumbly that Halloween is not an official holiday and that I actually have to preoccupy myself between the hours of 9-5 on this day with things that have nothing whatsoever to do with ghosts or monsters or candy. Who can we complain to about this?

Being old farts, my partner and I are forgoing spooky soirées (not that we’ve been invited to any tonight, come to think of it) and staying home to pass out treats, carve up pumpkins, and watch Monster Squad. Maybe drink some whiskey. I might not even wait until the last kid has rung the doorbell! We’ll see what kind of night it is.

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Speaking of soirées! I was actually invited to a Halloween party a few weeks ago, and I am shock–shocked!– to tell you that I had a fine time. I actually had fun. What! How can this be? Honestly, parties are pretty awful for me; I get anxious about a lot of things, but nothing sends me into panic attack mode faster than the thought of celebratory social interaction. I think what made this an okay experience is that I knew the hostess and had been to her home a number of times, I already knew most of the attendees in some capacity, and, well, I went with a date. Actually three! My sister, brother-in-law and partner were all there. Come to think of it, there was actually nothing to be nervous about. Huh. My costume, in case you couldn’t tell, was a skeletonwitch. Oh, what, you thought I was a panda? Are you blind or something? Unfortunately, this fabulous hat arrived after the event, but that’s fine. I’ll wear it while I’m watching Monster Squad and drunkenly carving children. Pumpkins, I mean. I’m not drinking already or anything.

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candles

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Though we’ve had some glorious weather these past few days with lower temperatures that lend to layers and cloaks and tights and cardigans, the beginning of October was pretty wretched, as this time of year tends to be. I felt sorry for myself and bought an obscene amount of autumnal candles, spooky records, and a number of haunting reads. Also some “trock or treat” socks from Korea.

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A few additions to the gallery over the past month: a lovely petite bat lady from Lady Weird and this wondrously elegant Martyred for Love sculpture by Carisa Swenson of Goblinfruit Studio

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Knits finished in the past month: all patterns by Caitlin Ffrench. A thick, cozy shawl {Mabon} from her Wheel book, and two smaller altar pieces, each finished in a day.

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Earlier in the month I spent the weekend with my best good friend in Orlando, who is moving out of state. I can’t believe she’s leaving, but we’ve been through this before. 15 or so years ago, I was the one who was leaving…and everything ended up being just fine. So, although I will miss her, I know this will just be a new phase in the adventure that is our weird and wonderful friendship. Anyway, she fixed the most amazing breakfast for me, during the course of our visit. Basically a toads in a hole slash avocado toast mashup. It may now be one of my top five favorite breakfasts.
Let me tell you about my other favorite breakfasts lately: rice with a little butter and soy sauce, topped with a runny fried egg and furikake; a “fake bagel”, which is basically a low calorie english muffin toasted and spread with laughing cow cheese, ripe tomato slices, red onion, and Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel seasoning, and salmon jerky. For real! Salmon jerky is amazing. Do you, like me, hate sweet breakfast offerings? Cereal, yogurt, most breakfast bars, etc.? Gah, they’re just the worst.

What are you up to this Halloween? Tricks? Treats? Napping with your cats and favorite monsters? That sounds pretty great, actually.

Currently {Salem Edition}

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It’s been a long few weeks. Few weeks? More like 8 weeks, I guess. Two months.

August arrived quietly enough, but ended in a flurry of activity and travel. I drove down to South Florida for work purposes, and was there for but a few days before heading back to Orlando to catch a flight to Salem to meet up with the Haute Macabre crew for a madcap weekend of witchery and poetry and beauty with some of my extraordinary friends.

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The day of our arrival we were whisked away by the very excellent Jo, a new (to me) friend, who took us back to her lovely home, fed us delicious pancakes, and let us play with her two sweet puppers while we recovered from our long flights. From there it was off to Witchpix (or goth glamour shots, as we came to call it) for dress ups and close ups at their spooky costume studio in Salem! I was a little nervous about it because I am basically nervous about everything, but it was great fun. And, I mean, there was a wind machine! And props! And a broom that seated four. And did I mention dressing up? There were capes and cloaks and corsets galore, and even a hat that fit my big pumpkin head.

A++ ridiculousness, would highly recommend.

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After our goth glamour shots we ambled over to the Black Veil Tattoo Studio for the Night Market Event which made for an utterly surreal dream of evening. Already exhausted for having been awake 24+ hours, being amongst the jostling crowd of people and the heartfeels from both meeting the creators I’ve admired from afar, as well as friends, both new and old–it was an intense experience. Especially if you’re not great at meeting people even when you’re at the top of your game (and please note, I don’t think my game actually even has a “top”. Maybe a “lower-middle”.) It was pretty wild. Pictured in the top photo is one half of our fearless leadership team, Samantha, along with staff writer Sonya V., whose face I adore. The bottom photo is the rare beauty of fellow staff writer Maika K. (whose face I also adore.)

Afterward we discussed how that, if there was ever a crowd in which to feel uncomfortable and anxious, we were in the right place–I suspect everyone who walked through the door that evening deals with anxiety and anti-social awkardness on some level. No doubt about it, we were among our people.

Later, in discussions with another friend, I was musing at how, even in the most accepting of crowds, I always end up feeling like the odd one out, an outsider. When I was much younger, this bothered me in a vague sort of way…but I finally realized it bothered me because it didn’t bother me enough…if that makes any sense? I felt like maybe humans are supposed to try their damnedest to be a part of things, and I think I recognized in myself that I just …didn’t want to. I love the idea of community, but at the same time being around people makes me so uncomfortable (anxiety re: saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, not having enough to talk about or maybe saying too much) that I think my discomfort is almost tangible and it might be a little off-putting to people who are trying to interact with me. And so I remove myself from the heart of things (if I ever even made it there) and observe from the edges. I think I am happiest there, on the fringe. I can see you over there and wave, and smile, and be glad in my heart that I got sort of close to you, and then I can scoot back to a dim corner and read a book while listening to the good times and revelries of the people I care about…from afar.

Wow, sorry to ramble like that. At any rate, I hope I never give anyone the impression that I don’t want to talk to them or I am too good to hang out with them and chat or whatever. (Unless you’re some weird, creepy dude, in which case, fuck off, you’re a pig from hell.) But I’m always happy to know like-minded souls and kindred spirits, so please forgive my weirdness if you’ve ever met me in person and thought “huh, I thought she’d be a lot nicer than that.”

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This time last year I was wringing my hands and tearing at my hair in mourning because I could not attend Ashley Rose’s exquisite “Shadows of the Realm” collection debut; this year I had a front row view of her equally enchanting “My Dearest Dust” installation, so I guess it all worked out in the end for ol’ Sarah.

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On Sunday it was back to our old haunt, The Black Veil Tattoo Studio!  We were tattooed by the gracious, talented Ryan Murray who took our secret design collaboration ideas, which incorporated elements and symbols that are important to each of us, improved upon them immeasurably, and created something more beautiful than we could have hoped for. I couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful experience for my first fancy tattoo (I already have several shitty ones) or have spent the day with people more dear to me.

In between tattoos, Matthew Murray, an outstanding host and as talented an artist as his brother, kept us company while we explored all the nooks and crannies and hidden corners of the shop. That wee kitten just kills me. Those tiny claws! What a little charmer! And the grim witchling from Handsome Devil Puppets– Ahhhh! Love love love.

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Post-tattoos, we one by one headed over to the Satanic Temple, where Sonya read from their book, Salt Is For Curing, and along with poet Janaka Stucky (The Truth Is We Are Perfect)  and author Peter Bebergal (Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll) presented an utterly enchanting, thoroughly engaging evening of poetry and prose. After their readings, there was a fascinating panel discussion and Q&A, brimming with shrewd insights and observations from the authors, as well as some… er… surprising and belligerent feedback from the audience. Which really didn’t even have anything to do with the presenters really, just some guy with a grudge and who wanted to vent inappropriately. Quel horreur!

Still–it was an amazing evening and probably one of my very favorite parts of the trip. Probably because I was in the audience, as opposed to in front of it. (Sorry Sonya. But you were magnificent!)

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On our last day in Boston, before departing to the airport to catch our various flights, we made one last stop: the Harvard Museum of Natural History. What a powerfully peaceful place to unwind after the previous few days of whirlwind adventures! So many marvelous specimens (that elegantly attired long-tail widow bird)! So many sweet derpsters (that hedgehog!) There was wonder to be found around every corner.

And then…I was home. Just in time for hurricane prep!
But that’s another story for another time.

P.S. When you get home after travels, do you just like to sort of spread your newly acquired loots over your bed and revel in it?  Me too!

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P.P.S Sharing photos of my hair and nails because they will never look this nice again.

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Currently {7.30.17}

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I find that I increasingly dread and actively avoid putting these “currently” posts together lately. I’m not sure why that is, exactly. To be quite honest, I love talking about myself and all the stuff I’m into, so it’s not like I’ve all of a sudden gotten weird and self-conscious about it. I operate under the assumption that my friends and acquaintances are a lot like me, in that they are curious about the lives of the people who they care about in some form or another (either on the internet or in real life), so if I want to know all about you, is it so hard for me to believe that you might want to know about me? Nope! For whatever reason, as anxious and uneasy as I feel about other things, sharing without feeling uncomfortable or awkward, or precious about it, has always been a thought process that’s come naturally to me (even when someone might actively try to squash it).

So what’s the problem, then? I suspect my low level dysthymia (undiagnosed, but that’s what my counseling-for-a-career sister tells me, and I guess I can’t really sue her if she’s wrong) really amps up in the summer time; I lose all motivation and energy, I stop taking care of myself and participating in the activities and passions I love, and it’s just a vicious cycle–I haven’t got the energy and life to do the things that give me energy and life.

So, yeah, here I am. My heart isn’t in it, but I’d be cross with myself if I skipped my monthly installment of talking about myself. Also, I will take this opportunity to show you my bangs-growing-out-progress, as well as the sparking new addition to my earthly meat suit: my new nose piercing, which I have fondly dubbed “lil crusty”.

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My youngest sister has been checking in with me via email every day. I think she’s realized that for mental health checks, phone calls actually stress me out even more (although Melissa, I hope you know you should always feel free to call, I don’t mean to sound so singularly shitty about it) and so email is the way to go. This daily correspondence has been very helpful; it’s comforting to know that there’s someone out there who realizes I am going through …whatever…and who takes time to say hello every day, and shares with me little links she finds that will interest me, or maybe gives me a piece of advice that she finds helpful in her own life.  Early in the week, when I told her that it was a struggle to even get out of bed,  she urged me,  “…just do SOMETHING to break the cycle. Some activity, to get the momentum going.”

So, I took her advice. I made a list. I did not get to the big stuff. But I ate a goddamn apple, and it was a start.  I shared the imagery on instagram, and it was heartening and encouraging, all of the positive feedback I received, all the kind words and helpful sentiments. I won’t say I was surprised, because I am surrounded by thoughtful, generous, compassionate people. I always appreciate these wonderful souls, but to say I’m surprised by their reaching out to me in kindness? No way. Never surprised. That’s the kind of people they are. You all make me better for knowing you. Thank you. /end cheesiness.

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So, that’s a lie. I have some more cheesiness for you. I received some wondrous gifts in the mail this week, from two incredibly special people. I was utterly moved to tears (and finally in a good way this summer!) at their generosity and the sheer amount of talent and astoundingly hard work that went into these treasures.

My sweet friend Lisa, who I began chatting with online during (I think) the final few years of my time up North, is thoughtful and clever, and very, very funny. I remember us poking fun dumb inspirational memes, and coming up with ridiculous ones of our own, and thinking “yep, Lisa is my people for sure.” Lisa is a quilter who creates the coziest, loveliest patchwork pieces and had apparently been working on this quilt for me since 2015! Accompanying this masterpiece was a beautiful note detailing her inspirations for the project, information on the fabrics used (one was from a collection called “spellbound”!), and the pattern, which is called Storm at Sea and interestingly involves sewing the pieces of the fabric directly onto paper templates and then tearing the paper away when it’s all put together. Lisa also included a marvelous poem which she noted had provided the “narrative underpinning” for the piece, The Plantation, by Seamus Haney. I finally read it in its entirety this morning, curled under the quilt in the dim glooms of my parlour, as the rain outside pounded against the windows–while I was warm and dry and feeling very, very loved.

At any point in that wood
Was a centre, birch trunks
Ghosting your bearings,
Improvising charmed rings

Where ever you stopped.
Though you walked a straight line,
It might be circles you traveled
With toadstools and stumps

Always repeating themselves.

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Friendgift #2 came from the the inimitable jewel priestess/sorceress-solderer, sisterkin and glittering heart, Flannery Grace Good. I had placed an order for a few treasures from her shop, and she included this extraordinary moonstone spirit moth, in addition to some sage for smudging, a floral hydrosol, various stone talismans, and other things for general good juju.

This package had a bit of an adventure finding its way to me! I’m still not sure what happened, but somehow it got lost in transit, somewhere in the murky postal ether, and floated frustratingly out of reach for a week or so. When it finally arrived, I took a moment to breathe a sigh of relief and then commenced parading around in my shimmering new jewels. Flannery Grace Good, in addition to being a wonderful friend, is truly a master of her craft, and coupled with her imagination, creativity, and intense drive, she creates some of the most beautiful jewelry I have ever seen. If you’ve not peeked in her shop yet, you should certainly take a moment to do so, and say hello. 

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Summer reading! If you recall, my mini quest in my overall yearly reading challenge was to read twenty five books in the months of June, July, and August. Last month I managed six, and this month at eleven books read (one of them is not pictured, above) I’ve nearly doubled that, so I think we’re moving along at a good pace.  Six + eleven = seventeen, so by the end of August, I’ll need to have read eight more books to hit my goal of twenty five, and…uh…win? I guess? I never actually got that far in my planning, I guess.

With Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu, fans are were probably like, “what’s this heartwarming crap about pet cats? I want grotesquerie and repulsion!”…but if that’s your initial reaction, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by this fantastic read, and trust me, you’ll get your Juni Ito grossness, but just…in a different sort of way. I was finished with the book before I realized it, and was sad to see it end! He writes about having to adapt to living with his fiance’s cats over time, and it’s both adorable and creepy, and overall a fantastic addition to his body of work. Thanks for this little surprise, J-Kun!

Actually, everything I read this month was pretty good, with Gilded Needles and Monstress at the top of my list, followed by The Beguiled, The Graveyard Apartment, and Bleed (all three would make excellent beach reads, with Bleed probably being my least favorite of the three)

Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu
Bleed
Monstress Vol. 2
The Graveyard Apartment
Southern Cross
The Lottery (graphic novel adaptation)
Rachel Rising Vols. five*, six, and seven
The Beguiled
Gilded Needles

 

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And now I’ve got just enough energy left for some one-word movie & teevee reviews…!

6/29 A Dark Song : yes
6/30 The Belko Experiment: yes (except for last 5 minutes)
7/1 From A House On Willow St: ugh
7/3 What We Do In The Shadows (rewatch): ALWAYS
7/4 Kong Skull Island: meh
7/5 Attack On Titan Season 2: fun!
7/6 Lake Bodom: skip
7/17 Split: sure
7/20 Logan: yeah (but for beardy, bespectacled Wolverine reasons)
7/22 The Killing, Episodes 1-6: yes
7/22 Martin: YES
7/23 Creepshow: eh
7/26 Dawn of the Dead (original): fantastic!
7/29 Zeder (thanks Maddie!): yesyesyes

What was your July about? Wondrous things? Terrible things? Middling-meh things? What have you read or watched or seen or done that thrilled you? Or repulsed you? Let’s dish.

Currently {6.27.17}

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Oooof. It has been a rough couple of weeks. I never talk about my day job or my work here, because while it has paid the bills for more than a decade now, it’s of no interest to anyone but myself (and barely even me) and if we’re being honest here–I hate to work. Or to talk about work. Let’s face it, I think I hate even the very concept of “work”. And as of lately, I think I have been loathing the concept–and the reality–even more so than usual.

As that old weirdo, HP Lovecraft, purportedly said: “I never ask a man what his business is, for it never interests me. What I ask him about are his thoughts and dreams.” Too true!
Business, blargh!  Thoughts and dreams are the important stuff.

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Speaking of dreams, mine have been so vivid lately! Last week I dreamed that I decapitated a demon with a garbage can lid, and then used the same weapon to chop off his dongle and shove it up his butt-hole. I then jumped off a balcony and whizzed up into the stars, like a rocket! Hoo boy. Sarah has some issues.

A few nights ago I dreamed that I was a member of a clique-y conspiracy of witches, sort of like the depraved gothed-up coven that descended upon Rome in Argento’s Mother of Tears (pictured above)…except way less chaotic and crazy. More competent. Tidier. We were all prominent members of society, doctors, lawyers, etc. We regularly sacrificed our interns and assistants in terrifically gruesome ways. I ran around wreaking respectable havoc in a lab coat, but underneath it, I am pretty sure there was something like this (nsfw) happening.

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To de-stress, I’ve begun making a of small ritual of the Sunday night bath (and you know how I feel about bathing). Our bathroom has been…ahem…under renovations for quite a while now, and the bath tub has just recently become available again. Huzzah! Time to break out my favorite bathtub-staining bath bombs { exhibit one & two} and my aurora projector, which does a crap job at projecting a magnificent aurora, but for the price I guess it’s okay at producing an eerie bathroom ambience.

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RE: soothing rituals, despite the oppressive summer heat, I’ve taken to spending more time in the kitchen again. I go through phases, I guess. Sometimes I don’t even want to be bothered with the clanging of pots and pans and the chopping and the mincing and the yanking out of gizzards and whatnot…not to mention the hassle of clean up afterward! Sometimes though, perhaps I am channeling my grandmother, and nothing makes me happier than extended periods of gastronomic adventures and culinary experimentation!

Lately I have been spending time perfecting my black bean recipe (tip: this Cuban black bean soup is an excellent place to start), roasting chickens, baking pies, and making, for probably the 100th time, Isa Chandra’s vegan mac & cheese. Also pictured up there is chicken poached in sake & ginger, with hoisin & scallion flecked riced cauliflower and snow peas. We’ve been consuming a lot of Japanese-inspired dishes thanks to our recent obsessions with Wakako Zake, Tokyo Diner Midnight Stories, and Samurai Gourmet. Okonomiyaki night once a week!

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On the knitting front, it has been somewhat slow-going. I just finished a grasshopper-colored (or absinthe-hued, if you prefer) pair of rib and cable socks and I shall shortly, secretly, be sending them to a friend. Because woolen socks in July is such a treat, right? But I hope, come December, they will be glad of them. A few years back I began to send my finished knits away to friends and folks that I admire, or who had, at some time, done me a small kindness.  I still practice this from time to time–I mean, I’m never going to wear all of this stuff, right? And it makes me feel good to let people know how much they mean to me!  This Blue Dahlia shawl has a somewhat similar fate in store for it in that it is headed off to a sweet friend, but it was the result of a bit of a craft trade. (FYI: other than knitting I am not in the least bit arty or crafty or handy, and I am always up for a trade!)

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Eeeep! Don’t you love it when Kickstarter goods that you backed and then forgot about show up in your mail to surprise you? Pictured here is the Slutist Tarot, a “mystical celebration of sex positivity that centers femmes, sexual deviants, divine whores and curious maidens.” Many contemporary tarot artists have been departing from the misogyny, racism, and imperialism of the classic tarot narrative and imagery, an intention that The Slutist Tarot shares– and in doing so, in telling the story of The Fool through the archetype of The Maiden, artist Morgan Claire Sirene has created something incredibly special.

In a fantastic interview Morgan speaks to how The Maiden’s journey differs from The Fool’s journey:

“The Maiden’s Journey is about sexuality specifically. How sex and sexual trauma changes you, your perception of yourself and how you deal with humanity. It doesn’t have to be a woman’s narrative even though I am telling it from a femme perspective. I can’t speak for all woman identified people, but for me and many women I know, having your life defined by sex is kind of inevitable, so it makes sense to me that this is The Maiden’s gift and curse.”

19367476_1903298336362729_4751995929903497216_nDespite the recent upheaval vis-à-vis my reading parlour, I am making headway in my Summer Reading Challenge, six out of twenty five, to be exact.

Strangely Beautiful by Leanna Renee Hieber: I can’t…actually..recommend this book
Hunger by Roxane Gay: Oooof. Yes. I’ll be talking about this over at Haute Macabre soon
Black Hole by Charles Burns: Dark and clever and grotesque. I think it’s a must-read.
Snot Girl Volume One: Social media star with allergies and a mystery. Kind of fun.
Giant Days Volume Five: I love these characters and the author gives a salute to yours truly
Jem and The Holograms Volume Four: Fun and pretty, but not very compelling.

frankenhooker2

One-word movie & teevee reviews!

6/3 Wonder Woman: Absolutely
6/8 Phantasm III: Eh
6/17 Star Trek Beyond: Meh
6/22 Raw: Okay
6/24 Frankenhooker: YASSS
6/26 My Neighbor Totoro (re-watch): Always
6/? Riverdale: loooooove

Currently {5.24.17}

artist: Christine Pellicano

artist: Christine Pellicano

Ugh, I am feeling so lazy lately. I picked up another a head cold on the way back from a recent whirlwind birthday trip to Portland, and I have got a serious case of the blarghs.

Instead of spending too much time writing anything, this month’s “Currently” is going to consist of all the photos of documenting the things I’ve been up to lately. Actually, that sounds like a lot of work, too. Damn. I can’t win.

New ombré hairs

Ombre hairs
Stuff I am reading! I am particularly excited by the new one from Jeff Vandermeer, Borne. So far it’s pretty amazing. Also, I hear very good things about Catherine Valente’s Deathless, which I have checked out from the library at least twice before and somehow still have not read.

reading
New arts from Ivonne Carley (happy birthday to me!)

Ivonne Carley
Current smells: Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Antique Lace

antique lace
Tea & cookies at Kachka (along with nearly everything else on their menu! The Herring Under A Fur Coat was delightful!)

katchka

 

Spending time with my lovely spooders, Maika & Sonya, and making plans for future adventures!bloodmilk

Currently watching: Kimmy Schmidt season three (so dumb, so good, and I don’t care what this current crop of think pieces has to say about it); Fortitude seasons one and two (SO! GOOD!); The Girl With All The Gifts (meh, but I adored Melanie); The Blackcoat’s Daughter (also kind of underwhelming, but that’s because I have been waiting for two years now to see it, and it cannot possibly have lived up to the hype in my head.)

kimmy

What about you? What are you up to? Indulge my nosiness and tell me what you’re eating/drinking/smelling/watching/reading/doing lately!

Currently {4.18.17}

Books

SO, yeah. Wow. Man. This past month. I was knocked out for about 2.5 weeks with bronchitis, and so it’s mostly a blur of coughing and hacking and more tea drinking than I have ever done in my life. I put a serious dent in our supplies (which is good, because we had a surplus anyway, and it wasn’t moving very quickly.)

I pretty much have no idea what’s happened from mid-March to mid-April, it’s kind of pathetic–I really am a very useless sick person! I did do a little bit of reading, but not much. Or rather, I am reading a lot of things, but not making much progress with anything in particular. Pictured here: Bellefleur by Joyce Carol Oates, A Writer’s Diary by Virginia Woolf, The Erstwhile (sequel to The Vorrh!) by B. Catling, Birdbox by Josh Malerman, and My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier (which I must finish before the film is released!)

blue dahlia

Before I took ill I did manage to finish this beauty. Behold, the Blue Dahlia from the book New Vintage Lace: Knits Inspired By The Past by Andrea Jurgrau (details on my Ravelry page). Once I got the hang of the pattern, it was actually a lot of fun to knit on, and even though at one point I ran into a snag, it seems after seven years of practicing this hobby, I finally have enough confidence in my abilities to say “hey…you know…I don’t think this is actually my fault…let’s check for errata!” And sure enough, there was an error that was fixed in an update, and it was related to the exact issue I was having! The lesson to be learned here is that sometimes other people are actually to blame. It’s not always me!

DCO

In an interesting turn of events, I was present at a Death Cafe…as an actual attendee! Up until this point I had only organized and facilitated the events (which I have written about before), and I have to say…it was much easier to be an attendee. So much less pressure! Hardly any stress at all! Although the day I go into something completely anxiety free is a day of miracles. But It helped that it was held at a lovely friend’s home, and that I had more than a passing familiarity with the charismatic facilitator. So many interesting things were discussed, and innovative ideas and concepts were bandied about–I cannot say it often and loudly enough: if you have the opportunity to attend a Death Cafe, either locally, or perhaps in a city that you are visiting, you absolutely must. Every single time, I walk away from one invigorated and enlightened, and despite what might be perceived as a morbid subject matter, it is a truly life affirming experience.

Grief Bacon

Sooooo…turns out four years of caring for close family members who keep dying one right after the other is not good for one’s well-being, neither mental nor physical. You’re shocked, right? Well, I was shocked when, a week before my grandmother passed, I stepped on the scale and discovered that not only had I gained back any weight I’d lost three years ago, there were many, many extra stowaway pounds as well. Caring for people you love, putting their needs above your own, and then watching them die one by one, tends to be a disheartening, depressing, and demoralizing process. Not cool, grief and depression (and laziness and apathy). Not cool at all.

As someone who is an emotional eater even in the best of times, well, I’m here to tell you that ever since December 2012 when I discovered my mother had cancer, and going forward from there to care for her, and then both of my elderly grandparents, it’s been taking a severe toll emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically. What I’m saying is basically I ate my way through the past four years, and I’m fairly certain that with each death, my give-a-fucks for my own well-being dwindled significantly.. I stepped on the scale in early February, a week before my grandmother died, and was utterly horrified. Ten weeks later, I have lost 17 pounds, but I have got quite a while to go and a long journey full of hard work ahead of me. This “creature of the night” tee is one of my favorites. When I bought it, several years ago, it was pretty boxy and very loose. In 2016 I noticed that it had become uncomfortably tight, and I resembled a creature of the night stuffed sausage. It’s getting loose again, and I can tell it fits differently, more like it did when I first bought it. That’s where I’m at right now, friends. Hopefully there’s many more loose tee shirts where I am headed. And so, you know what that means. There’s going to be a lot more Weight Loss For Weirdos posts around here

Steven Universe

Currently binging on: Steven Universe. These past two weeks of bronchitis have laid me pretty low, but this sweet, kind, beautiful show has cheered me immeasurably. I’ve been slowly catching up on it since December, but we took in half of season two just this past weekend! I woke up the next morning feeling better than I have in a long time, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence. The week before the Steven Universe marathon, I mainlined all of Taboo, and while I loved Tom Hardy’s grim, grimy, bleak British drama and was over the moon to find out it was renewed for a second season, Steven Universe was a welcome palate cleanser afterward. I’ve also been watching Supergirl. Don’t laugh! I really enjoy its dorky optimism.

And of course, my one-word movie reviews. Because brevity is the soul of…the really lazy person.

3/23 Song of the Sea Absolutely (on Amazon Prime)
3/28 Prevenge Definitely (on Shudder)
4/1 Resident Evil: The Final Chapter YMMV
4/1 Rogue One OFCOURSE
4/2 Ghost In The Shell skip
4/3 Moana YEP
4/16 The Void no *
4/16 The Void nah

* I had really been looking forward to The Void, but somehow Amazon tricked me into watching the wrong one, and because the time between reading the synopsis six months ago and watching the film a few days ago was long enough to forget what it was supposed to be about…I didn’t even realize until the end I’d been duped. I was doing a lot of head scratching throughout, but I was determined to see it through. Even though it was a disappointment. And when I figured out my mistake and watched the one I meant to watch in the first place? That was kind of a disappointment, too. Though I think the popular opinion was that it was a really incredible film, a friend of mine summed it up best: “…it collapsed under the weight of its influences. It checked a bunch of boxes but didn’t have a voice of its own.”

 

Currently {March 2017}

bunnehThis past month has been a heart breaker. We lost our dear Mawga, and just like that, our already dwindling family was that much smaller. The days since her passing have been colder than any I remember for this time of year and I’ve been busying my most of them with the work that comes after a death. Making arrangements for, in this case, cremation, retrieving said cremains, cleaning up and cleaning out the house for when we are able to sell it, meeting with the probate attorney, etc.  Thank goodness my grandmother and grandfather set up many of these things in advance, otherwise it would probably be a lot tougher than it actually is. Note to self: get your will and last wishes down on paper and legalized. When I leave this world, I want to ensure that people are put to as little trouble as possible.

So the weeks have passed. And today, again, just like that, it is the first day of spring.

Afghan

earrings

I’ve been incorporating my grandmother’s beloved belongings into my home and my daily routine. The top photo, an old afghan given new life, draped on the reading seat in my office.  Below that, a pair of opal earrings which I haven’t seen in many years and which we unearthed from the musty depths of an old dresser. She frequently used to warn me against the wearing of opals; apparently they were said to be bad luck if they were not your birthstone. They are not mine, but I’m shrugging off superstition and wearing them anyway. Mawga is no doubt tsk-tsking me all the way from the other side.

cardiganVampira

I’m afraid the No-Buy from the beginning of the year hit a stall as of mid-February. I haven’t gone too crazy…for example, no new skin care items because my weird face seems less weird on its current regimen and I’d hate to screw that up. Only ONE new book purchase, everything else has come from the library. No new jewelry at all! I sort of goofed when it came to perfume because glob knows I don’t need any more of that, but how can I resist Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Lupercalia Line?

I have, however, given in when it comes to attire for the torso part of my bod; I just can’t resist  creepy/spooky black tops! No, I do not have enough already, thank you very much. The first is a spider web cardigan from MischiefMadeMe, and the second is a Vampira scream queen top from Grit-N-Glory (there are also Lydia, Lily, Morticia, & Wednesday versions)–and it looks like they’ve not yet sold out!

briar

…also, okay. Another confession. Though wall real estate is becoming more and more scarce chez Ghoul, I also purchased some more Art. (You can read of my art obsession here, if you missed it). Pictured above is Briar, a sweet batling wrought by the brilliant hands of Jessica Joslin and who has just recently joined our motley menagerie.

reading

Reading: Gosh, I have been all over the place lately. I finally got around to reading Paper Girls, described as paranormal science fiction mixed with ’80s nostalgia which is such a cool story. I can’t wait to see where it goes.  House of Penance is a horrific take on the story of the Winchester House and is super intense. Glitterbomb, a dramatic horror story about fame and failure, details through the character of aging actress Farrah Durante, how the entertainment industry feeds on our insecurities, desires, and fears.  I kind of wanted more from this story, but I’m at a loss for, what exactly, I thought it was missing.

Not pictured: Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote Dracula. I am somewhat conflicted about this one. As one reviewer succinctly put it: “…there’s a Bram Stoker-shaped hole at the heart of the book.” And wow, is there ever. The book’s author delves into the lives of everyone who has ever touched Bram Stoker, no matter how obscure or insignificant. And though neither obscure nor insignificant, I would venture to say that at least half this book is about Oscar Wilde! At the end of it all, though, I can say I have a pretty good picture of the time during which Stoker lived, and the history and culture of that time, and the people with whom he chose to surround himself and those by whom he was inspired. David Skal writes with a wry humor that serves as a skillful punctuation to the information and stories he shares, but never overwhelms the reader with it. He lets the facts and data tell the story. It’s a lengthy, rambling story with plenty of digressions, but if you are a fan of Bram Stoker’s stories, then I think you will very much enjoy this story of the life he lived.

And lastly, Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. My sister recommended this to me ages ago, and I stubbornly chose other feminist works to read first. On one hand, I am glad; I think my dissatisfaction with those previous titles made me that much more appreciative of Bad Feminist. This series of essays, some of them intensely vulnerable, addresses race, culture, and Scrabble competitions; intertwined with her ruminations on literature and culture, it’s equal parts commentary, memoir, and critical analysis. One thing in particular I loved about the book was the tone; it was not overly academic (I’m sorry to confess I find that rather dreary) and it wasn’t some sort of manic comedy (see Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman)–while it was witty, it was also utterly genuine. But I do think even if I had not encountered those types of reads previously, I’d have loved Bad Feminist all the same, and that much more.

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And of course, one-word movie reviews. This month’s viewing is comprised of a very short list. It seems I’ve been doing more reading than movie watching recently, which is fine. I go back and forth between the two, some months it’s one more than the other. Looks like the books win out, this month! I’ve also started keeping track of the dates the films were watched, but that’s probably of no interest to anyone but me.

2/26 Get Out (in the theatre)…ABSOLUTELY
3/5 Ouija: Origin of Evil…nope
3/9 Don’t Breathe…ugh
3/20 Salome’s Last Dance (Amazon prime)…OMGYES

Currently, Part Two (February 2017)

spirit
Currently I am having a rough go of it. I find myself shuffling from one end of the house to the other, without thought or purpose or even memory of doing so. I cannot focus or concentrate, so work is all but impossible, and yet I haven’t taken any time off, either. I find it difficult to justify time off when I already work from home, you know? So I’ve just been sitting at my desk, dazed, thoughts both a million miles away and no where, and desperately hoping that the phone does not ring.  Inevitably it does.  And so, a week has passed since we lost our Mawga.

“A readjustment of reality, ” is how a friend summed up some of what I am feeling.  I spent so many years worrying and fretting over my grandmother, paying her bills, keeping up with her house, handling all the what-ifs and emergencies as they arose, paying her a visit after work every day…now that I no longer have these things to do (these things that sometimes I was honestly quite bitter and resentful of) I am feeling unmoored, adrift, purposeless. Instead of having to sneak my knitting or reading into spare pockets of time, stolen and emptied from other portions of my life, I now am at leisure to do these things as I please. But for the moment (and I do know it is a momentary, passing thing) …I just …can’t.

But I do feel the compelling, compulsive need, as I do every month, do vaguely document the things I have been doing–and so to keep to a routine and regain a sense of normalcy, here is some photographic evidence that there was life and liveliness over the past month. And I suppose, even though it doesn’t feel like it now, there will be again.

vegantreats

A fantastic box of Vegan Treats morbid chocolates from my beau. This has become our Valentine’s Day tradition. Somehow we manage to make these delectable morsels last a month or more; I think three years in, we have managed to become pros at it.

tp

Also honor of Valentines madness and treating myself, I took a break from the No-Buy to grab the Fire Walk With Me soundtrack from Mondo and this gorgeous antique print of The Young Widow by Henry Hutt.

seeds

A few weekends ago we sat in the afternoon sun and planted all kinds of seeds–marigolds, morning glories, carrots, radishes, squash. It will be a miracle if any of them make it. I also planted a few little succulents in the hollowed dome of this cranial planter, an osteological-inspired marvel sculpted by the phenomenal Kermit Tesoro.

bangs

Last Saturday I got my got my bangs cut. My hair has been all one-length for the past twenty years, so this is a weird adjustment. And I probably won’t keep it this way forever (sweaty humid bangs on my forehead in July? Ugh) but for now, I think I really dig it. It’s got a sort of Stevie Nicks or Ann & Nancy Wilson vibe. And it’s certainly an improvement on this, a photo which was taken a day or so before the big chop.

books

Currently reading Something In The Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker. I was so excited to read about the author of my very favorite novel, but I am finding that while it is not dry reading, exactly, it is certainly dense and packed with information and taking me a rather long time to muddle through. Much more than just a biography, it immerses the reader in the culture and the history of the Victorian era, encountering various celebrities and characters along the way. It’s enjoyable, it really is…but there’s just so much of it. I broke up the monotony of it with Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, which is something I’d been meaning to read for awhile as I loved all of her other books, but for whatever reason, I’d never gotten to it. After reading a few chapters I was sorely lamenting watching Chan Wook Parks film adaptation of it, The Handmaiden, just last year. It was exactly the same story (but you know, London, instead of Korea) and I knew what to expect! I was disappointed that I already knew the twists and turns before they could surprise me. Ahhh, but not so. I read on and after a while I was glad of having seen the film first. And I ended up adoring the book as much as the film. I cannot recommend them highly enough. Make them both priorities on your to-watch/to-read lists.

the_love_witch_large_1050_591_81_s_c1

One word movie reviews!

Absentia–maybe (on amazon prime)
Trouble Every Day–perhaps (on amazon prime)
Blair Witch–skip
The Love Witch–Yes
The Editor–YES
The Village–ugh
VHS–probably (on netflix)
The OA–absolutely (on netflix)

Our Mawgas, Ourselves

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I sincerely thought that I had prepared myself for the loss of my maternal grandmother; that I had steeled myself for the absence of her weird light, that I was ready to brave a world in which the wisest, kindest, most influential woman in my life no longer existed. The passage of recent years saw the loss of all of her children, including my mother, and then a year and a half ago, the death of her husband of 72 years, our beloved grandfather. My grandma had lost so much, and had been unwell for so long; she was ready to let go…the only thing is, her body, though it was slowly shutting down, was certainly taking its time and wasn’t ready to let her pass to the next big thing just yet.

My sisters and I used to whisper that perhaps our grandmother was a witch, or a vampire, or maybe even a Highlander. A creature who had bargained for immortality, or perhaps she had it unwittingly bestowed upon her, but regardless, she would end up outliving us all. I think we truly believed this supernatural theory regarding her longevity after watching several years of this ninety-something year old woman bounce back from various maladies and afflictions and health-related dramas– a little worse for wear each time, but she would never lose that mysterious, mischievous twinkle in her eye. “Ha!” it seemed to glint and tease, “…think again! You’re not getting rid of me that easily!”

But whether it was some vital bit of sorcery on the part of her own body or the spell cast by the fierce love of her granddaughters, death came for her in the end, and no there is no magic that I know of which can–or should–withstand that call.

My grandmother’s death marks the passing of the last adult figure in my life, which a pretty strange feeling, I can tell you that. Or at least, I know that to be true on an intellectual level, but to be honest, I’ve been feeling her absence long before her passing. For so long she was lucid and “with it” and even if she’d only met you once in her life and even if it was 50 years ago, she would remember you. But on New Year’s Day, two months after she turned 95, a cerebral episode left her increasingly confused and disoriented and she rapidly got to a point where she didn’t know where she was, or who we were anymore. We had worked so hard to keep her at home, and she didn’t believe it was her home anymore. It was a heartbreaking decline.

FullSizeRender

 

I love this hazy, old photo of her. It is strange to admit, but I never actually thought of my grandmother as having legs; for as long as I can remember she suffered knee problems, and then for the last fifteen-twenty or so years she had either been using a walker, very slowly and painfully. In her last year of life she had been confined to her armchair, and finally, a hospice bed. But I know when she was younger she would carefully crouch while tending to her vegetable garden, kneel reverently whilst cultivating her otherworldly roses, and spend time on her back porch feeding her beloved birds, sprightly chasing off the chipmunks and squirrels from the seeds in winter, sitting cross-legged watching for deer and rabbits at the edge of their heavily wooded property in the spring.  Seeing her pretty legs stretched out in the summer sun like this makes me so happy, especially when I reflect upon her last few months under layers of socks and blankets, her pale legs, weak, immobile, and never warm enough.

kitchen witch

I am forever indebted to my grandmother for bestowing upon me her love of cooking. I received no formal culinary teaching at her hands, but she always allowed me to hover nearby and watch, or give me a turn to stir the gravy, or roll out some dough, or a spoon to lick, while her murmuring of the ingredients and recipe became a gentle incantation that I can still her when attempt any sort of kitchen witchery in my own home. I remember the fearful curses that flew from her lips when a meringue would droop or a pudding would fail to set, but I also recall the peaceful magics that would beset a room when my sisters and I would tuck into a bowl of chicken and dumplings or Cincinnati chili that had earlier been bubbling merrily away on the stove. She never made me feel like I was a nuisance, or in the way, and she genuinely seemed to be pleased with my company. In later years, when standing became too difficult, she would direct the proceedings from a kitchen chair, while I carried out the steps for new recipes that she wanted to try. She had a grand appreciation for a good meal and a tremendous appetite for all kinds of junk food, too. Last May, when she recovered from an infection that left her bed bound, the first thing she said when she was feeling herself again, was that she was hungry for fried chicken! She had her priorities straight, we always liked to say.Magpie

Also, like my grandmother, I am a bit of a magpie. I spent so much of my childhood trawling through her mother of pearl jewelry box and playing dress-up with her dangling earrings and sparkling brooches; everything carried the lingering scent of her signature scent– Estee Lauder’s Youth Dew–and for the longest time I thought that all baubles and gems emanated a musty, metallic tang, a strange witches brew of heady, formidable glamour and aggressive luxury. Even now, stealing sniffs from her almost empty perfume bottle, my memories glimmer and gleam with the treasures associated with that fragrance. Never opals, though. Opals are bad luck unless they are your birthstone, she’d caution me in a dire tone. I’m still frightened of them and to this day, I won’t even touch an opal.

An astrology enthusiast who insisted she had the second sight, my grandmother was also, as she liked to remind us, “a good, Christian woman”. This God-fearing woman believed that we absolutely should not date any Scorpios (I wish I had heeded that particular warning) and that she was a little bit psychic; unfortunately her premonitions only extended to bad news and death, and which I personally thought had more a tinge of those “see I told you that’s what would happen”, cautionary energies rather the manifestation of the metaphysical. She was a good woman, that part I know for sure. Our holidays were often crowded with friends who had no families, and to whom she had extended invitations to her home in perpetuity so that they would never have to spend a holiday alone. My own mother was a complicated woman who fought and lost to many of her demons, but my grandmother was always a steady, dependable force who was there for my sisters and I when our mom was not. No one could have taken better care of us; my grandparents ensured that we always had clothes to wear, books to read, and food to eat (we thought that everyone’s dinner table was provided for by a grandmother who drove around with meat loaf and tuna casserole in the trunk of their car).

I owe everything I am to my grandmother…even the weird, problematic bits. She had a morbid, melancholic streak, as did my mother, and I don’t believe that depression develops in a vacuum. I remember her telling me once that she used to write poetry sometimes in high school, and recalling my own flair for melodrama, I was not the least bit surprised to hear that. Depression for my grandmother took the form of long naps and early bedtimes, and when I cannot bestir myself in the morning because of a gloomy mood, I know it for the echoes of her unhappiness running through my blood.

She loved true crime novels and sat spellbound watching dramatic court cases. She enthusiastically perused celebrity gossip magazines and oddly enough, thoroughly enjoyed South Park. I think she found the nature of human drama utterly fascinating, even and especially the sensationalist kind. But as much as she enjoyed connecting with people, she hated talking on the phone, and would only use the telephone in the event of an emergency. I too am made anxious at the thought of phone conversations, and I loved her for assuring me that we weren’t the odd ones for having that aversion. We were perfectly normal, it was the rest of the world that was weird.

And no matter what we believed, or said, or did, or didn’t do–she thought her granddaughters were smart, and beautiful, and perfect.

And this sage, strange, weird, wonderful woman, oh, how we thought the same of her.
We’re going to miss you so much, Mawga.

In loving memory of Valora E. Derrickson. 11/28/21 to 2/15/17

 

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