A list of pleasing things.
Not unlike those penned by Sei Shōnagon, a lady-in-waiting to the Empress of Japan during the Heian period, whose swoon-worth pillow book of lists and stories and observations is a thing of rare beauty and a fascinating glimpse into another human being’s life.
“Elegant Things” by Sei Shōnagon
A white coat worn over a violet waistcoat.
Shaved ice with liana syrup and put in a new silver bowl.
A rosary of rock crystal.
Snow on wisteria or plum blossoms.
A pretty child eating strawberries.
Though I suppose mine, below, is not quite exactly like hers, either.
To be honest, I guess it’s really just a list.
Though Errantry by Elizabeth Hand has been sitting on my bookshelf for over a year now, I am regrettably just now getting around to reading it. The stories are, as noted on the cover, strange. Full of quiet wonders. Some are the stuff of nightmares, the sort that, upon waking and closer examination, one can’t figure out what was quite so terrifying. Just…. a tone of dread that never really touches on anything immediately familiar as frightening. Characters finding themselves in unsettling circumstances which are written so naturally that they don’t seem shocking, just subtle and strange and special in some way. I think the review at TOR sums it up quite nicely: “These are stories of the overwhelmingly mystical breaking into our world in small, almost unnoticeable ways, seen from the point of view of the few people who get to witness those minor intrusions and who then have to try and process their meanings.” Two standout tales for me, and -not surprisingly – award winners are “The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon” and “Near Zennor”.
Treasures from supernatural surrealist and dream-haunter JL Schnabel of Bloodmilk. Pictured here are the Endless Night stacking rings I & II and The Wounding necklace, an item I for which I have longed for quite some time now; a talisman for piercing the darkness.
The simplest of summer cocktails for still, sweltering evenings. Vodka + a generous squirt of lime + elderflower rose lemonade. Lots of ice. Repeat as needed.
Both my paramour and I are big kids at heart, and after seeing this LEGO bird set built over on tested.com, I thought it would make for a fun birthday present for him and a nice afternoon together. And it was! And at the end of our play, we had something really cool to put on the shelf!
A new handbag for all my stuff! What, you don’t carry around candlesticks and tiki mugs on a daily basis? Well, to each his own, I guess. This is the “big slouchy messenger bag” from Baba Studio and it is practically perfect. I loved my old Betsey Johnson number with the fancy skulls, but it was getting pretty grungy.
New art! The strange and terrible beauty pictured at the top is a gift by and from dark artist and sculptor EC Steiner, and lovely Bat-Fleurs at the bottom is a gift to myself, from artist Colette St Yves
Poor Sei Shōnagon is probably rolling over in her grave at this point. She had some fairly bitter and scathing things to say about silly or unfashionable people and I doubt she’d spare me! Or, who knows -maybe she would recognize a kindred spirit in me, she’d pour me a cup of tea and we’d while away the time gossiping about people and talking about all the cool stuff we have.