Archive of ‘currently’ category

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 problem was that, 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 bouncing 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 regardless of 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 after all, and I suppose there is no magic that I know of, which can–or should–defy that call.

My grandmother’s death marks the passing of the last adult figure in my life, which is 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 always remember you. But on New Year’s Day in 2017, two months after she turned 95, a cerebral episode left her increasingly confused and disoriented, and this rapidly developed 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.

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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, spryly 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.

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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 hear when attempting 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 me 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 meatloaf 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

 

Currently {1.16.17}

spiritsSomehow the last month, give or take a few days, feels several decades long. I suspect that has much to do with the upheaval of the holidays; we hosted my beau’s family for Christmas this year, so I believe there were at least two weeks alone which were lost to the commotion of getting our slovenly butts in gear to make the place look presentable and figure out how to cook a dang prime rib. (If you’re curious, we served prime rib with roasted asparagus, garlic-parmesan mashed potatoes, and creamed spinach, and if I don’t have to do that again for another year, that will be fine with me.)

Also, I have never had a holiday thing/event/whatever in my own home, so I was freaking out. Quite honestly, I had volunteered responsibility for the holiday dinners because I was tired of feeling awkward and out of place/in the way at someone else’s house. If I’m going to feel uncomfortable, I’d rather it be in the comfort of my own home, you know?

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cookies

Houses were lit, skeletons and bats were fitted with Santa hats, and a thousand star cookies were born, only to die bravely in several gulps. I can say beyond the shadow of a doubt that I made the world’s most amazing gingersnap cookies and that may never happen again because I don’t remember which recipe I used. At Jack’s suggestion, though, I under-baked them, which did away with the menace of the tooth-breaking “snap” and produced a cookie that was intensely chewy and full of delectable spices. I suspect under-baking any gingersnap recipe will yield a far superior result.

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This past weekend was a bit of a whirlwind.  On Friday night I ventured into Orlando for dinner at Dandelion Cafe with some like-minded lady friends (whom I both met through Death Cafe!) and a jaunt to Etoile Boutique in the Milk District for the bloodmilk trunk show. It was so nice to meet the incredibly lovely Jess, whom I’ve known online for years now, as well as her whirling dervish, effervescent right-hand gal, Jen. And of course it was pretty spectacular to see glittering stacks of bloodmilk talismans and amulets on display. I may have purchased a thing. Okay…maybe two!

The next day I tagged along with my brother-in-law on some errands, during which we took a quick drive through Greenwood Cemetery which is utterly gorgeous, and which I had somehow never visited. Afterward we visited South Seminole Farm and Nursery and I poked along, haunting the herb shelves and spying on all the blooms and blossoms, while he checked out the boring stuff, like native ground cover.

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On Sunday we went to Disney World. Though I am a FL resident now and have been for the better part of 30 years, I can count on one finger the times I have been to this theme park. When I was much younger, I was obsessed with it, and of course, with the various Disney princesses, but as I grew older I came to really resent it. Full disclosure: that was because I was a scumbag who was dating an even more horrible person who was married (with kids) and I grew to detest anything that smacked of Disney or children’s fantasy.

It took me several years to get over that. I’m still not super rah-rah jazzed about all things Disney, but I genuinely did have a wonderful time staying at the Polynesian resort, drinking all of the tiki drinks, watching spectacular night time fireworks across the water, and spending the next day eating too much sugar and going on all the rides with my Viking. I guess it all depends on who you spend your time with, right? And I have been spending time with this particularly excellent human for five years now (as of this Friday the 13th!) and that’s sort of what this trip was all about. I even got the sequined Minnie ears to commemorate the occasion! Although he’ll tell you it’s because he wanted to see robot-Obama speak before the Hall of Presidents is closed down for the next six months, but I know what’s what.

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BooksCurrently knitting: the German doily inspired Blue Dahlia shawl. I’ve been coasting on socks and mitts for the past six months, so I thought I would start of the year with something a little more challenging and infinitely more fiddly. So far so good!

Currently reading: all of the library books! There’s this problem with borrowing library books, though. You can’t really read them at your leisure, so you either race through them, trying to finish them before the due date that you’ve already extended two or three times already, or you just let them pile up because you get involved in other things and then you must return them unfinished.  There’s always one or two from my stacks that remains sadly unread and most likely not revisited.

I just finished The Magicians, which despite wanting to punch the main character in the face, I totally adored. There’s something about the magic of ordinary folks being transplanted into unfamiliar worlds that makes for some of my favorite storytelling. Unspeakable Things, though intensely edifying, is a bit of a slog, so I’ve been breaking it up with the equally feminist How To Be A Woman (which, while hilarious, it’s the sort of humor that might grate on one’s nerves after a while.) I also checked out every Carrie Fisher book that my local branch had to offer but so far I have only finished Wishful Drinking, which was a quick and wonderfully witty read. Note to self: still need to see her stand up version of this.

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And of course, some one word film reviews. I am not sure how I got in so much in the way of movie watching since the 13th of December, but somehow there are 20+ titles on this list!

Beyond the Gates Yes (but mostly for Barbara Crampton)
Krampus Maybe
The Greasy Strangler DearGodNo (I didn’t even finish it)
Antibirth Yes!
The Magnificent Seven Maybe
Ghostbusters Maybe (don’t kill me, I didn’t love it)
SiREN Skip
The Autopsy of Jane Doe YES
The Handmaiden OMGYES
Fury Road HELLYES
Gone Girl meh
The Girl On the Train Maybe
The Good Neighbor Probably (it’s on netflix)
I Am Not A Serial Killer Definitely! (it’s on netflix)
The Fearless Vampire Killers Wheee!
Rusalochka Pretty! (it’s on youtube, in six parts)
Train to Busan Intense!
The Skeleton Twins yesyesyes
The Happening meh
Zootopia yes!
Tangled um (if you have mother issues, this is a little triggering)
Goosebumps hrm

Currently {12.13.16}

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“Rotten”. That pretty much sums up the past month and a half. Too little time for all that I need to do and too much stress about all of those things have left me ragged at the edges, and edgy to the extreme. (“rotten” graphic above courtesy a Stay Home Club tee shirt which I am appropriately wearing today.)

My body does weird things when I am freaked out, and these anxieties over the years have found new and exciting ways to manifest physically in my poor bod.  What I’m pretty sure have been mild cases of acid reflux and rosacea that developed in my late 30s but which I have always been able to pooh-pooh because they’re not that bad…well, all of a sudden they are that bad. Massive flare ups. I’ve been walking around for the majority of November and December feeling like I’m going to barf and like my barf is burning a hole in my throat, on top of which my face is red and stingy-rashy with itchy bumps constantly appearing and disappearing in the same day.

The acid reflux, well, I can get over that, but roseacea? ON MY FACE? Ugh, no. Last straw.

I am, however, happy to report that after polling some friends on facebook I found some tips and various things to try that actually seem to be working. For those who are curious…

  • I cut out coffee (I didn’t drink that much anyway. Only a mug a day, which I drinkuntil it gets cold, and then I dump it out.) I replaced the coffee with a hot turmeric-ginger chai from Rishi.
  • I started taking omega-3s and acidophillus
  • I changed up my morning and evening face cleansing routine and am now using the anti-redness rosacea products from ZENMED. I am not exaggerating in the least when I tell you that I noticed an overnight difference after first trying them. On one hand that’s amazing, because my itchy lobster face was pretty awful. What stinks, though, is that now I basically have a cabinet full of expensive beauty products that are totally useless because I can’t use right now.

Shoes

On to more glamorous things! I received my beautiful Pilgrims from Fluevog and they fit gorgeously. These are truly the One Pair of Shoes to Rule Them All.

They are pictured here with a dress from Noctex, which you can’t really see, and I can’t link properly link to because it is no longer sold, and Avignon from Comme des Garçons, which of course you cannot smell, but I will share with you that it smells like very fancy pencil shavings. The tote is from Haute Macabre, but no longer available.

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Also good for alleviating stresses: making your own monsters! A fashionable, fantastical harpy-footed, squid-armed cyclops! A jaunty minotaur with mummy legs and bat wings! A dragon with torn dungarees! Ridiculous! I picked up up this magnet set in Austin, but you can easily find them on amazon. Also, if you have a weird friend for whom you need a last-minute Hexmas gift (or maybe one of those white-elephant/dirty santa exchanges?) I can personally attest that this is the most perfect thing ever and there will be much deranged cackling.

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BOOKSCurrently reading:
InSeXts // Angels of Music // Valancourt Book of Horror Stories

I am too brain dead to think of much to say about any of these books, but if you like the idea of vengeful Victorian lesbian insect women, then give InSeXts a try, and if Charlies Angels as managed by the Phantom of the Opera sounds campy and delightful to you, then I think you’ll like Angels of Music. I haven’t delved into the Valancourt anthology yet, but come on–just look at that cover! It’s got to be good.

GF Currently watching: a lot of Gravity Falls. My beau has been trying to get me to watch this with him forever, and I finally gave in. It’s a Disney show, (I think?) and has described as Twin Peaks meets Eerie, Indiana. Except without all the murder. Anyway, I won’t go into what it’s all about because if you already know then I’ll feel dumb for having done that. I will say that it’s a lot of fun and it’s good when you want to watch something silly but not exactly mindless, but…I don’t know. I find some bits of it a little problematic.

And finally, some one-word movie reviews!

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them-sure! (saw this in theatre)
The Lobster– hrrrm
Sacrifice– UGH
Demon-YESSSSS
Restoration-nope
Kristy-yes (surprisingly)
Green Room-maybe
The Last Witch Hunter-skip (got this from the library)

Currently {11.21.16}

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Currently: enjoying the brief window of opportunity we have to open the house up to cool breezes and fresh air (during which time I start burning all the incense and candles, stinking up all of our newly acquired fresh air); hand-writing letters to far flung friends, drinking up all the tea in my cupboards and queuing up all the Hildegard Von Bingen and Loreena McKennit that I can find, for I am a creature of habit, and that’s what I like to listen to when the weather frosts my fingers and numbs my lungs. It was 45 degrees this morning when I woke up! In November! In Florida! Wow.

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Creepy doll jumble at Uncommon Objects

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Ramen and bride of the fox sake at Tatsu-ya

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Holly Bobisuthi creations at Blackmail Boutique

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Precious mouse friend at Uncommon Objects

Currently: recovering from our yearly trip. This time around, instead of visiting Portland, we visited Austin…which I guess is sort of like “the other Portland”. Well, that’s what everyone says, anyway, but I don’t quite get that. I like both places very much, but I will say that folks seem a lot chattier in Austin, more willing to engage (as someone who is not keen on chatting, I am not sure if that’s a plus, but I’d sound like such a grinch if I indicated a city of friendly people is somehow negative, right?)

In Austin I:

  • ate all of the tacos on Torchy’s menu (I liked the Baja shrimp taco best!)
  • waited in lines for three hours at Franklin’s for barbecue on our first day and walked right in to Terry Black’s barbecue on the last day (I found Terry Black’s to be superior)
  • visited all of the beautiful antiques and old creepy things at Uncommon Objects
  • bought new perfumes and gorgeous new baubles at Blackmail Boutique, where I also finally got to meet the fabulous Chad Merritt, whose gorgeous paper cut art I have been collecting forever
  • got invited to a secret Shaky Graves show
  • saw some art at one location of the East Austin Studio Tour
  • finally met my darling Lau and her husband; we dined on caviar and pirozhki at The Russian House and afterwards, sipped on secret speakeasy cocktails at a clandestine location nearby
  • Stopped by Austin Books and Comics, which now rivals Powells (in my opinion) for best bookstore on earth. Also stepped into The Dragon’s Lair, which was pretty groovy, too, with an amazing selection of comics and graphic novels. And games, if you are into that.
  • Enjoyed delicious ramen at Tatsu-ya; amazing pizza at Home Slice; several breakfasts at June’s, more cocktails at Gordoughs, and marveled at the TARDIS of yarnshops–Hill Country Weavers–which is totally bigger on the inside than it appears from the outside, and is stuffed wall-to-wall with fantastically beautiful yarns.

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Over the course of our week in Austin, I had a surprising amount of downtime. While the lads were adventuring (in the next room with dice and character sheets), I curled up on the sofa and read the following:

My Sweet Audrina: Prompted by last month’s Bad Books For Bad People podcast, I thought I’d re-read this gem from my childhood. At 11 years of age, I don’t think I fully appreciated the scope of how truly fucked up this book was–it is beautifully bonkers.

The Girl On The Train: For me, this is a read that falls into the “good for what it is” category… something I would probably not pick up unless I was traveling…something with a little mystery, very little depth, and a moderate to high trashy-factor. If you liked Gone Girl, you will probably also like The Girl On The Train (I actually liked it better than Gone Girl.)

The Singing Bones: The brief synopsis is, “a convicted killer’s imminent parole forces a woman to confront the nightmarish past she’s spent twenty years escaping”, but it’s a richly layered story with a wonderfully creepy atmosphere, and fascinating folkloric elements that elevates it to something beyond a typical thriller. Highly recommended– and thanks a million for the suggestion, Leslie.

The Ritual: This book about four friends and their nightmare hike into dark, primal Scandinavian wilderness has been on my to-read list forever, but of the books I read while away last week, it is probably my least favorite. The first half reminded me of Algernon Blackwood’s “The Wendigo”, or “The Willows”, the former which always freaks me out a little but more than the latter, but they are both hauntingly intense and give me shudders whenever I ponder them overlong. The second half of the book seems silly in comparison, but I found that after the acute anxiety caused by the first half, I was okay with some ridiculousness.

The Other Side, An Anthology Of Queer Paranormal Romance“Featuring 19 comics by 23 different creators, THE OTHER SIDE is a celebration of queer romance and the paranormal… featuring a wide variety of queer and trans protagonists – as well as poltergeists, shadow monsters, guitar-playing hypnotists, lost angels, genderfluid vampires, trickster ghosts, and many more!” There were definitely hits and misses here; a few left me wanting much more, one or two left me scratching my head, and a handful of them were just perfect. On the whole though, I thought it was a wonderful collection and a highly satisfying reading/visual experience.

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And lastly, what have I been watching? Here are some one(ish) word reviews for you…

I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House*-Yes (but slow & not much plot)
Lights Out– Yes (but problematic)
31-Maybe (if Rob Zombie is a guilty pleasure)
The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein-ummyes
Doctor Strange (in the theatre)-Absolutely
The House Next Door– Yes (but read book first context)(also this is cheesy & mostly awful)

*can be found on netflix

Currently {October 2016}

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Alice Sweet Alice (1976) officially licensed poster by Nikita Kaun

This has been a strange month so far. After the excitement and panic of the hurricane, while things have calmed down a bit, they still don’t feel “normal”. I haven’t had the energy or motivation I need to finish (or, ahem, start) many of the things I would have hoped to have done now that the month is almost over, and as melodramatic as it sounds, I feel as if I am languishing under the threat of some unnameable doom.

In the meantime, here are some movies I have seen recently, and my one word assessments of them.

Phantasm, remastered (in the theatre)— yes
Jupiter Ascending — nope
Alice Sweet Alice — yes
The Night of the Hunter — absolutely
The Legend of Hell House* — yes
The Haunted Palace — no
The Conjuring 2 — no
The Uninvited* — no
Housebound — YES
Dead Silence* — no. But maybe yes.
Ava’s Possessions* — yes (it is worth mentioning that the main character was watching the above listed Alice Sweet Alice on her tiny tv set at one point during the film!)

We also watched season one of Ash Vs. Evil Dead which was a lot of fun, although a great deal…saltier than I expected? Maybe I am getting old. Gosh.

*these titles can be found on netflix

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RE: Books/reading…

I was loathe to delve into any book at all after finishing the very excellent Southern Reach Trilogy, but as it happens, everything since I’ve read since then has been wonderful. The Night of the Hunter was unexpectedly, profoundly beautiful, and come to think of it, I might use those same words to describe Michael Schmeltzer’s book of poetry, Blood Songs. Monstress boasted exquisite, intricate art, complex characters, really fantastic world building, and a thrillingly mysterious story; I cannot wait to read more. Giant Days (Volume 3), Wicked + The Divine (Volume 4), and Over the Garden Wall were all just as much fun as I would have expected, and I think I also read every gorgeous, weird thing that Tin Can Forest ever published. Oh, and also–The Girl With All The Gifts, which was an uncomplicated, but still pretty engaging read (I wasn’t even going to pick it up, but the film was receiving such great reviews, and if I am going to see the movie, my general rule is that I must read the book first!)

BPAL Salon Halloweenies

Over at Haute Macabre today I review some of the Salon scents from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab; I did not purchase any of the pumpkin or apple scents or anything candy related because they’re not really my thing, but I guess that probably translates to “I’m a pretentious git who hates fun”. So be it! .

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At the beginning of October, my hair dresser was supposed to give me purple hair. Somehow I came out of the salon looking exactly as I had when I walked in. I guess it’s been that kind of month.

What are you up to this month? Has it been all weirdness and strange times for you, as well?

Currently {September 2016}

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This past month has seen a slow shift into a less hectic pace and has presented me with more time to focus on things I have been neglecting. The past year has been so busy, especially the earlier part of the summer, and so it was easy to ignore things piling up…as in literal, actual piles and stacks of things that just kept growing and slowly taking over the entire house.

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I spent the greater portion of August getting these things sorted and settled. Stacks of books were dismantled and properly shelved. Art was hung on walls, makeup and brushes were given a home, and jewelry is now untangled and on display. It’s about time.

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If you’re curious about the coffin shaped pin boards and jewelry hanger, they were created by brilliant folks over at Life After Death Design, and I’ve written about their marvelous virtues previously.

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Currently I am obsessing, just a bit, over okinomiyaki…which, if you don’t know what that is, it’s basically (as far as I can tell) just a savory Japanese pancake. I think it usually always contains cabbage, but from there you can probably add whatever you like: shrimp, pork belly, chicken, sausage, squid…whatever. Or maybe shredded carrots and lots of green onions, if you don’t want to add any meat.

I see some people refer to it as “Japanese pizza”, but maybe that’s because it seems a bit like junk food? Or maybe because it’s a flat disk-like food with lots of toppings? Who knows!  Anyway, here’s a basic recipe for it, and it’s fairly easy to make. You mix a bunch of stuff together, fry it, throw some other stuff on top, and serve it.  Here’s a shopping list for the items that might present more of a challenge to locate, if you wanted to make it for dinner tonight: okonomiyaki kit // dashi // bonito flakes // kewpie mayo // okonomiyaki sauce

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How did this okonomiyaki obsession begin? Well, I blame it on Wakakozake, an anime I started watching last year. Shown in 2 minute episodes, it follows Murasaki Wakago, a 26 year old woman, who likes to go out to dinner or for a snack and a drink, every night after work. Somehow, they took that concept and turned it into a half an hour live action show (or maybe the animated short came second? I’m actually not sure.)

On the surface, it’s not very complex: our main character picks a restaurant or a bar, she orders something and eats it, musing on its delicious qualities all the while. Sort of like a food blog, I guess, but much less pretentious. Wakago can be silly and is a bit of a day-dreamer, and there’s such a lovely lack of artifice in her observations. Also, I loved what this reviewer had to say about it, and after reading this, I really did start to think about the many layers of Wakakgo’s reflections and interactions. And although, as the reviewer notes, the show barely scratches the surface of this way of thinking. It’s fascinating.

“I think one of the best things about this series is how it both introduces and scratches the surface of a side of Japanese thinking and approaching food that is very specific and methodical, yes, but even that touches on something that is very characteristic of traditional cultural aesthetic values in Japan – there is not only a right way to prepare food, but to eat food, and to evaluate, criticise and appreciate what is placed in front of one.”

Sometimes I will prepare dinner, and depending what sort of mood we are in, we will either have our meal at the dining room table, or sit in front of the tv and watch something. Lately, my response to the question of “what shall we watch?” is “I want to watch the lady eat!”
Nope, I’m not creepy or anything.

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Some more one-word reviews for you on films I have recently watched:

Sun Choke — maybe
Kwaidan — YES
Let Us Prey*  — yes
The Silenced* — yes
Rebirth — NOPE
Neon Demon — yes

*these titles can be found on netflix

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I just finished Jeff Vandermeer’s extraordinary Southern Reach Trilogy (Annihilation, Acceptance, & Authority), and now I’m at a bit of a loss and I don’t know what to do with myself–the perils of reading something so wondrous that you just don’t think anything else can measure up! The books tell of the mysterious, dangerous wilderness of Area X and the humans exploring it: several decades ago, an inexplicable environmental change occurred and a large swath of land and sea was sealed behind an invisible and largely impenetrable barrier. “Inside it, nature shifted. It grew wild and pristine, dense and fertile—improbably pure, as though nature had said “Enough!” and reclaimed itself.”  It’s an uncanny, and genuinely surprising read that haunted me for days and probably will continue to do so for a long time to come. With this series The New Yorker refers to Vandermeer as The Weird Thoreau, and …yeah, I totally see that.

Also read, to some degree of enjoyment or another:

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix — this was quite fun!
Consumed by David Cronenberg — didn’t love it, but glad I read it
Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay — suspenseful and compelling.
Preacher Book One — well, I had to read this sooner or later
Sex Criminals Volume Three — still enjoying this, though the meta-narrative is getting tedious
Ghostie Boo by Kate Litterer — a book of poetry that I am still musing on. I am not so great with sussing out the meaning of or analyzing writing, especially with abstract writing like poetry. Often times I have to read reviews or interviews to get a perspective, and then return to the source and re-read. I am aware that in doing so, I might be unduly influenced by thoughts not my own, but sometimes, well, that’s the only way it works for me. I’m telling you this now because you should buy the book, read it, and then read this terrific interview of Kate Litterer by poet Sonya Vatomsky, who asks some thoughtful, illuminating questions.

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Currently smelling: the few offerings from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s The Art of the Unicorn collection. I have not yet made much headway, but I can tell you that De Vos’ Unicorn (sugared peony and rose-tinted vanilla with mallow, white musk, lavender buds, and a touch of apricot) smells like a brothel run by a flock of scrumptious marshmallow peeps. But like, peeps if…they weren’t purchased stale and on sale after Easter, but rather if some enterprising, over-achiever foodie made a bespoke, hand-crafted batch of peeps. After a few hours, the scent softens becomes very much like my beloved but sadly discontinued Antique Lace, so it is definitely going to be hoarded away.

Incidentally, did you know that the collective noun for unicorns is a “fondle” of unicorns? Well, according to Wondermark it is. I’d like to add that it’s no doubt a “glittering fondle of unicorns.”

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Currently {August}

13277644_739243496216166_85591962_nGosh. It’s been a while since I’ve written about what I am currently up to! I tried to put a brief missive together back in June but I was so frazzled with my grandmother’s illness, I just couldn’t think straight. Let’s try again.

I finally put to use the kitchen aid ice cream paddle attachment that I received as a gift last Christmas (or was it two Christmases ago? Jeez.) and made a beautiful batch of coffee ice cream, just in time for some seriously hot Florida weather. Nearly two months later it has only gotten hotter, but have I made any more ice cream? No. The answer is no, I have not. It will probably be another two years. Such is the life of frou-frou kitchen gadgets.

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Speaking of unused Christmas gifts, I received Yotam Ottolenghi’s beautiful vegetarian cookbook Plenty More a year or two ago, and I will shamefacedly admit that other an initial flip through to gaze at the dazzling photos, I hadn’t opened it again since. In searching out some meals that I could ostensibly cook ahead of time and then nibble off pieces for breakfast or lunch as needed, I came across the “cauliflower cake” and thought it looked perfect. I think his recipes are a sort of…Mediterranean fusion, you could say? So, the sort of book with lots of interesting ideas requiring not readily on hand ingredients, and instances where you might look at the recipe title and think, huh, I wonder if that’s really going to work? The cauliflower cake is like a more labor intensive and fancier and perhaps heftier version of a quiche, and we ended up really enjoying it. You can find the recipe over at smitten kitchen, so if you are interested in dusting off your spring form pan and turning on your stove, give it a try.

All summer long I have been making this avocado and crab salad, I think it’s a Tyler Florence recipe, maybe? It’s basically lump crabmeat from the fish guy in your supermarket (not the canned stuff on the shelf, I don’t trust it), mixed with some mayo, sriracha, black sesame seeds, minced green onion, and a wee splash of sesame oil. If I have it on hand, I stir in some diced, seeded cucumber for texture and for, well… roughage, I guess.  In the meantime, dice an avocado, sprinkle with lime juice and salt, and mold it together in a little cracked glass dish that is too cute to throw away. Voilà!

This is the perfect breakfast for me. I cannot eat cold cereal in the morning (it makes me a little nauseous; I think I associate it with the existential dread I felt at the prospect of facing a classroom of second graders when I was 7 years old), and I don’t really love oatmeal or fruit because it’s sweet and sweets in the morning make me rather ill. Wow. I never realized how picky I am.

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13731239_1090341507717227_207964854_nIn early June my office got a bit of a revamp, and though I was opposed to it at first (probably because I didn’t want to do any of the work), I was thrilled with how it turned out. No more stacks and piles of crap! No more hand-me-down particle board!

We have bookshelves elsewhere in the house, so these particular cubbyholes are housing reading for research and edification rather than entertainment– as well as a perfume sample station, knitting nooks and a mini mom altar. There’s some empty spaces yet to fill, though, so that either means I will be stuffing junk in them or saving them for something special. Probably the former.

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My reading has been all over the place over the past few months. I just finished book one of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and I will confess I know nothing of Sabrina, I never even watched the television series in the 90s. I don’t think I would have expected how…dark this story was; I thought it might be lighthearted and campy/spooky. Except I totally expected how dark it was, because the internet spoiled it for me. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I can’t wait to read more.

I was immediately sold on I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl  after reading the Amazon blurb: a “… film noir set in verse, each poem a miniature crime scene with its own set of clues—frosted eye-shadow, a pistol under a horse’s eye, dripping window units, an aneurysm opening its lethal trap. ….”  But in the reading of it…well, to be perfectly honest. I was left feeling pretty dumb and filled with self-loathing. Why wasn’t I getting it? What were all of these readers who have rated it 5-stars seeing that I wasn’t? There were portions in while I was almost there…I was lost in the words and the imagery for just a second, and there was nearly a glimmering of understanding, and then I lost it. As the book wore on, these instances became more frequent and so overall, I mean, yeah–I got it. I think. But it wasn’t a very enjoyable read and I think I finished it out of spite.

I have had my eyes on The Decadent Cookbook for several years now and used a recent  weird and creepy cookbook purchasing binge as an excuse to finally pick it up. Described as a slightly sinister and highly literate feast of decadent writing on food, and with chapters such as “Dinner With Caligula”, “Blood, The Vital Ingredient”, and “I Can Recommend the Poodle”, I can’t tell you how excited I am to dig in. Expect a roast flamingo on my supper table very soon.
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I have been meaning to watch Morgiana for years and just got around to it this weekend (it’s on YouTube, with subtitles!) It’s gorgeous and captivating and quite eccentric. And as one reviewer says:”… Edward Gorey as filmed by Ken Russell–a sardonic chunk of Victorian penny-dreadful melodrama tweaked to new levels of aesthetic and emotional hysteria.”

More one-word reviews for you on other recently watched films…
Hush*–maybe
Late Phases*–yes
Session 9–yes
Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For*–eh
Big Hero 6–maybe
They Look Like People*-maybe
The Invitation*–YES
Darling*–maybe
They’re Watching*–YES(but)**
The Martian–eh
Baskin*–um

*these titles can be found on netflix
** I loved it, in spite of….well. Just don’t kill me for suggesting it.

 

Currently {4.13.16}

car

This has been a strange month.

A few weekends ago, on a trip up to North Florida on a rainy Saturday morning, we ended up on the side of the highway, sinking into a ditch.  A massive white pickup truck (I have dreamed about this truck multiple times since then, and I always see it when I close my eyes now) began to merge into our middle lane without looking or realizing we were there. In avoiding a collision with him, we shifted back to an empty lane on the right, but began to hydroplane on the wet roads. At that point, I closed my eyes and began to brace myself for impact.  I don’t know exactly what happened after that, but we were basically all over the road–facing oncoming traffic at one point–and seconds later we ran into a small copse of trees and a swampy ditch in the median between the north and southbound traffic.

I remember looking at the branches scraping at the windshield, noticing our miraculously unspilled coffees and thinking How are we even still alive?

In some parallel universe where my partner keeps a less cool head, this situation could have ended quite differently. The alternate reality us may have ceased to exist that day.
I  don’t care to dwell on that overmuch.

Giles

Giles by Goblinfruit Studio

Kraiza

Alholomesse by Robert Kraiza

My art gallery is ever expanding.  I could lie and tell you that I purchased these things as balm for my fractured soul after the above-mentioned incident, but the truth is that I ordered these things before that. I have long admired Carisa Swenson of Goblinfruit Studio’s works–her curious creatures and aberrant animals have been delighting me for years!  I decided it was the right time to provide a home for one of them, and so in the top photo we have Giles in his jaunty blue waistcoat keeping company with other various treasures

In the second photo is Alholomesse by Robert Kraiza. I consider myself a person of hushed passions, silent desires, but I’ll admit, gazing upon these wildly ecstatic women whips me into a bit of a maelstrom. I am so thrilled to have these witches dancing on my walls! Well, eventually. We all know how long it will take for this to happen.

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It’s summer wardrobe time!  And summer wardrobes, as we all know, consist of interesting, dark-themed tee shirts. Right?  Well, that’s what mine consist of, anyhow. Much….like the rest of the year, I guess. Hm.

Black Sunday shirt $19 // Cat Coven Feminism shirt $25 // Vampirella shirt $23

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Reading:

The very excellent Sabbat Magazine’s Maiden Issue, which is full of magics from some of my favorite artists, writers and visionaries. A++ 5 stars would be ensorcelled again.

X’s For Eyes by Laird Barron. This took a chapter or two to catch my attention, but I’m glad that I stuck with it, because X’s For Eyes is a lot of fun.  I am about two-thirds of the way through (it’s only about 100 pages or so) and it’s like…a pulp-cosmic-noir adventure with Hank and Dean Venture except less incompetent and more demented.

Giant Days Vol 2. I’ll just come out and say that I will always support anything John Allison has a hand in. His webcomic Bad Machinery (formerly Scary Go Round and Bobbins) is the only webcomic I still read…and it’s the one that I actually started reading many years ago that got me into webcomics in the first place.  I even got to interview him once! That was a total dream come true. And once he mentioned my polyvore stuff on his blog, or in the comments of his blog, as inspiration for some of his character’s fashions! Which…that makes me sound totally stalkery, so we’ll move on. Anyway, Giant Days is also a lot of fun, following Esther, Susan, and Daisy through weird, slice-of-life college life adventures.

The Beauty: I haven’t actually started this one yet, but doesn’t this sound intriguing? “Modern society is obsessed with outward beauty. What if there was a way to guarantee you could become more and more beautiful every day? What if it was a sexually transmitted disease? In the world of The Beauty, physical perfection is only one sexual encounter away.”

Listening to Mamiffer’s The World Unseen. I’ve loved this experimental duo since discovering them quite by accident back in 2010 or so. This new effort flickers with loss and light and is described as an “exploration of subconscious and psychic bonds between the past and present” and an “eight-song aural lexicon that vacillates between Arvo Pärt’s delicate minimalist beauty, Thomas Köner’s narcotic pulses of noise, and Richard Pinhas’ sublime textural patterns.”

Watching: The Fly and Angel Heart.  Can you believe I had never seen either one of those movies?  I enjoyed them both immensely.  That was obviously the role Jeff Goldblum was born to play and it was nice to see Mickey Rourke looking like a dream boat before his face became the unfortunate plate of wet cat food that it is now.  (Sorry, Mickey Rourke).

Doing: Saw a live taping of NPR’s Ask Me Another, attended a They Might Be Giant’s show, gardening, and knitting all of the things that gave me trouble last year.

What about you all?  What have you been up to lately? Seen anything fun? Reading anything interesting?  Had any near-death experiences?  Fill me in!

Currently {3.01.16}

writing

Doing: For Hexmas, I was gifted with several books for writers–writing prompts, inspiration, that sort of thing.  I really only do a certain kind of writing, which is to say I blog. Mostly about personal things and the things that interest me.  I do this both for myself, and for whatever outlets want to feature some of my scribblings.  I don’t know that I ever want to do more than that, but it occurred to me that I am awfully one-note and it wouldn’t hurt to flex my writing muscles and challenge my creativity more, even if I am the only one who ever sees whatever these exercises produce or inspire.  For example, I am definitely not a writer of fictions!  But it might be fun to try.  We’ll see.   Pictured is A Year of Creative Writing Prompts, but I’ll also be delving into Ghost Stories and How to Write Them, and What It Is, by Lynda Barry (which was recommended to me by so many brilliant people, so I have high hopes!)

book stack

Reading: Speaking of books! My current bookstack:

The Darker Sex: Tales of the Supernatural and Macabre by Victorian Women Writers
You Have Never Been Here:  Stories by Mary Rickerts (“lush & alchemical”, say reviewers!)
The Book of Nightmares, poetry by Galway Kinnell
Ghostly A Collection of Ghost Stories by Audrey Niffenegger

LUNA

Face stuff! People, I am going to be 40 in a few months.  Am I freaked out about it? Not especially.  I still feel like a dorky 14 year old in my heart and bones and soul, and I suspect I’ll feel that way on my deathbed…so 40, 50, 80, whatever. Just numbers.

I am, however, trying to treat this year as a very special marker on my timeline, though;  everyone thinks of 40 as a “milestone” type of birthday, and I’m part of this world, so I am not immune to that type of thinking. I am tackling all of the projects that might have intimidated me (i.e. The Occult Activity Book–which sold out in three weeks time! Holy crap!) I am trying to tie up loose ends on things that have been hanging around too long, and I am definitely trying to take better care of this meat suit I’ve been shackled with during my tenure on Earth.

As part of that, I’m getting fancy with my face! Two of my favorite products right now are:

Sunday Riley’s Luna Sleeping Night Oil, which is a retinoid complex for calming and repairing damaged skin with blue tansy and chamomile and IS BLUE (I feel like a warrior goddess when I dab it on at night) and I wake up with the most amazing, velvety feeling skin. It’s definitely pricey, but it will last a good long while it looks good on my shelf! Ha, like anyone is looking at my shelves, I know.

Le Baume Lip and Dry Skin Balm; I recently ran out of my beloved Nivea lip balm, the kind that comes in the little tin, and which smells like vanilla.  I have been trying to replace it, and in doing so have found a lot of lip balms that I hate. Le Baume is the first one I have come across that I am thrilled with.  I have a list of no-nos for lip balms but at the very top is no mint, nothing mentholated.  Mint one of the grossest smelling/feeling/tasting things ever, like you just smeared toothpaste on your lips (I feel that way about mint-flavored foods, too. Mint is for toothpaste and that’s it.  End of story.) Anyway, non-minty lip products are tough to find!  I also like a product with a nice ratio of waxiness to slippiness. Le Baume fits the bill perfectly. It’s got a sort of…herbal(?) smell, which must be due to the high concentrations of Marula, Perilla and Calendula.  Anyway, I just love it.  I may have found a holy grail.  Plus the packaging is adorable.

Listening: I’m pretty predictable.  If it’s mopey or kind of haunted sounding, that’s most likely what I am listening to.  Ever since BBHMM though, I have been keenly interested in what Rhianna’s been up to, and I was surprised by how much I am enjoying Anti right now. I’ve read that this was an album that’s been in the works for a number of years and that everyone was expecting some sort of opus, and that’s not what they got with Anti…which doesn’t really mean much to me since I’ve never really listened to Rhianna.  Anyhow, I am not a great reviewer of things, but this seems to me a fairly self-reflective bunch of songs. I also hear that she had a lot of control here and made exactly the sort of album she wanted to make, and you can somehow hear that here.  There’s not very much in the way of radio-friendly type of stuff. It’s the sort of thing I’d want to turn off all of the lights and lay on the floor and listen to in the dark.  That’s my idea of a good time.

Currently {1.20.16}

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Doing: attending birthday parties in public places –the idea of which which will never fail to freak me out because: people & conversation. However, I always forget that in this particular group there are also people like me who are similarly freaked out, which is great because misery (and anxious weirdos) love company. We always seem to find each other, and a corner to cozy into, cringing away from the crowd.  Look at this guy! It’s a Mexican Salamander, or Axolotyl. He is a cold-blooded, live-in friend of my corner-companion and her husband. These are the kinds of things we talk about.

 

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Reading: Beautiful Darkness, a thoroughly charmingly illustrated graphic novel that is savage and unsettling and not at all what I expected.  Although I kind of figured out what I was in for by the second or third page.  Beauty, also illustrated by Kerascoet and is supposedly an “immersive”, “dark, feminist parable”; I’ll know more tonight, after I’ve settled in with it!  And lastly (well, not really lastly, I’ve got stacks and stacks of unread books) is Wylding Hall, by Elisabeth Hand.  Here’s the synopsis–doesn’t it sound dreamy?

“After the tragic and mysterious death of one of their founding members, the young musicians in a British acid-folk band hole up at Wylding Hall, an ancient country house with its own dark secrets. There they record the classic album that will make their reputation but at a terrifying cost, when Julian Blake, their lead singer, disappears within the mansion and is never seen again. Now, years later, each of the surviving musicians, their friends and lovers (including a psychic, a photographer, and the band s manager) meets with a young documentary filmmaker to tell his or her own version of what happened during that summer but whose story is the true one?”

 

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Knitting: Terpsichore Street, by Romi Hill.  This pattern gave me extreme agita around this time last year, and I eventually called it quits and felt like a failure and moped about it for the next year. Well, this year I am attempting it again, and I am seeing that a great many of my issues are directly related to misreading the pattern, misinterpreting the instructions, and making assumptions that aren’t accurate.  So far progress is slow–we’re talking a glacial pace– but I am reading and re-reading and correcting myself every time I go astray. Except for a potentially huge mistake that I made at the beginning…but I think that’s only going to affect the size of the finished shawl, and I’m over that.  I’ll just give it to one of my tinier friends.  Problem solved!

Oh, and what’s that, you ask? Another book?  Yes, you caught me.  This one is Death’s Summer Coat by Brandy Schillace and touches on a subject close to my heart: death awareness and death acceptance.

“Death is something we all confront―it touches our families, our homes, our hearts. And yet we have grown used to denying its existence, treating it as an enemy to be beaten back with medical advances.

We are living at a unique point in human history. People are living longer than ever, yet the longer we live, the more taboo and alien our mortality becomes. Yet we, and our loved ones, still remain mortal. People today still struggle with this fact, as we have done throughout our entire history. What led us to this point? What drove us to sanitize death and make it foreign and unfamiliar?

Schillace shows how talking about death, and the rituals associated with it, can help provide answers. It also brings us closer together―conversation and community are just as important for living as for dying. Some of the stories are strikingly unfamiliar; others are far more familiar than you might suppose. But all reveal much about the present―and about ourselves.”

 

Listening: Daughter, Not To Disappear. I am happy to report that Daughter’s second album sounds very much like the first, which is to say: lush, beautiful sadness. Hushed, desolate dream-pop. Heartbreak and doom and gentle glooms.  Perfection.

 

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Wearing: Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Mother Ghost, from their Crimson Peak line {a cold, sheer white musk gleaming with black orchid, benzoin, labdanum, and blackened amber, and embraced by white rose, tea leaf, and vanilla flower.} This is a pearly, translucent delicate scent that reminds me very much of my lost (discontinued) love, the delicate, gauzy, Antique Lace.

 

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Anticipating: The release of our Occult Activity Book! Co-conspirator Becky Munich and I have been working with several splendid several artists and writers to conjure forth this wicked little book …and for true believers we have concocted a Deluxe pack which includes the 24-page Occult Activity book, two 5×7 color prints and a sticker by contributing artist Casket Glass Studio .

We should have them available for purchase sometime in the beginning of February, but be forewarned! Only 250 of these marvels will be printed, so you’ll want to nab them while they are available on this plane of existence!

seance

Bonus! Another one from the cutting room floor, from How To Wear A Séance over at Dirge. That dress is utterly killing me.

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