Friday night and the gang's all here
Friday night and the gang’s all here

It’s not exactly as if I am some sort of social butterfly, flitting busily from one charming engagement to the next. I’m really not that at all. I’m the anti-social, hermit….whatever the exact opposite of a butterfly is. Maybe sloth.  I am the anti-social sloth.

At most I will head into the next town once or twice a month to visit with friends and family, and to be honest, I am most of the time actually enjoying myself doing these things, spending time with these people. And yet even this is too much and it feels imperative that I shut myself away from the world every once in a while.  I don’t quite know why this is, but I suspect that sometimes even the thought of spending time around other humans is exhausting for me…especially on the weekend when I should be free to spend it however I like.  So even if I haven’t had a friendly lunch or a bookclub date or a party (eeek! ugh.) on the calendar for a while, it’s almost like I need to proactively mentally prepare for the possibility.

To begin, I set aside a weekend during the month, preferably one when I am going to be all alone.  As I live with a significant other, this is a rare occurrence. During this time I make no plans. No anything that involves me walking out my front door. A Fuck Off, World! weekend is all about the comforts of one’s own home. I make sure that the house is well stocked with grocery items because if I don’t even want to visit with my sister, you can be damned sure I don’t want to talk to a cashier for a market transaction as it relates to a dozen eggs or coffee or whatever. 99% of the time I won’t even answer my phone because what part of No Human Interaction and Fuck Off, World don’t you understand, for god’s sake?
This is serious business.

Your perfect FOW!W may vary from mine, of course, but I think there are some key elements that are pretty much the same across the board.

  • It must involve some form of entertainment.  Probably a few movies.  Perhaps there are some films you’ve been waiting to watch on your own as you know you cannot talk your boyfriend into watching another artsy horror film because when he walked in on you watching Possession he was nearly scarred for life.  Although really, what a grown woman and the writhing, pustulous grotesquerie to whom she gave birth do in an abandoned building on a filthy bed is their own business and who are we to judge, right? Anyway, so films.  For this particular weekend I am thinking Livide, Santa Sangre and Next Door.
  • Puttering. Pick up a book, put it down. Start to fold laundry, get distracted. Make half the bed, remember you put the kettle on, pick up that same book again. Finish knitting a sock. Try to take a nap, but become hypnotized by the shadow of the rosebush against the curtain. If you’ve puttered properly, by the end of the day you will have accomplished absolutely nothing.
  • Meals must be the trashiest things you can think of, something you would be utterly motified to have anywhere near your face hole in polite company. In ghost or alien company. In any company at all. It must be a transcendent combination and disgusting and delicious and you must eat it during this sacred time alone.

Actually, that’s about it. Less is more when it comes to a perfect FOW!W.  And with that, I am signing off. And you, you can fuck off.  Until Monday, and then we’re all friends again.


5 Aug

*Channelling Sophia Petrillo*: “Picture it. Orlando. 2011.” I had retreated back to Florida after seven hellish years in New Jersey,  a desperately unhappy experience from which I was only just beginning to recover. Immediately upon my arrival back down south, I moved in with my sister and her new husband, who welcomed me with open arms…. but in retrospect I guess that’s probably not how a married couple wants to spend their first few months of matrimony together? Yikes. I kinda feel badly about it now, but it’s a #sorrynotsorry sort of feeling, because reconnecting with and spending so much time with my sister over those next few months was a ridiculous amount of fun, and, I think, an important part of the healing that I needed to do.

What with the urgent sense of relief for having escaped a nightmarish relationship, and the obligationless existence of living rent-free for a spell, I had a lot of time on my hands for reflection. Examining my choices, the mistakes I made, and the lessons I learned from them, and all of the possibilities going forward. As part of this process of self-reflection, I’d often spend evenings perusing my sister’s bookshelves, selecting titles from motivational authors and self-help gurus such as Louise L. Hay or Eckhart Tolle, Wayne Dyer, or sometimes even SARK, and skimming the pages at random, looking for thoughts or phrases that resonated with me, and which I might implement that day. Inspirational bibliomancy, I suppose.

My sister is a mental health professional and while it’s probably not ethical to talk about what she does, I will mention that she works in a rough area of town, in a challenging environment, and with kids who have just about every disadvantage you can imagine. While living with her for that short amount of time and hearing the horror stories and the heartbreak she deals with on a daily basis, I grew to admire her strength and capabilities more than ever. She is an amazing woman, and if educating myself with selections from her small library of positive thinking and self love could help me achieve even half of her resilience and optimism, then perhaps this was an interest worth nurturing.

Five months later I had moved out and was living on my own again, and between the craziness of getting settled back in at work and the budding of a new relationship, I had mostly forgotten the wise words and sage advice of the life coaches and guides from my sister’s shelves. No doubt I could have used the encouragement and support, though, as I was still working through a lot of intensely personal stuff. I was perpetually angry and morbidly dwelling about all the time and energy and youth I had wasted up north. I was legitimately terrified that my past would continue to haunt me in both metaphorical and terrifyingly literal ways. Sometimes these thoughts paralyzed me. I frequently found myself in front of my computer, in the middle of the workday, feverish tears streaming down my face, my throat convulsing with soundless screams. (Thank god I worked from home.)

It was one of these afternoons when I took a deep breath, calmed myself, and decided that I needed a fucking break. On a whim, I navigated to Youtube and for some weird reason, in my recommended viewing queue was the 1987 Masters of the Universe movie, in its entirety. I’m still not sure why I even clicked play on the video; although as a child of the eighties, I was of course familiar with He-Man and his crew and had spent many a childhood afternoon watching their adventures on Eternia, I can’t say that I had any great attachment to the show or the characters.

When I first glimpsed Frank Langella as Skeletor, I couldn’t help but think he was a real bummer. He just seemed so profoundly mopey and bitter, and I’m sure I blanched, visibly, wondering if I, too, appeared that way to other people in my current state. I found myself musing ….what if Skeletor had gotten more positive reinforcement and encouragement, or maybe just more hugs and love? Would he have chosen a different path, perhaps become a more compassionate, well-balanced sort of guy? I thought perhaps someone should have let him borrow a book of affirmations, and intervention of sorts, a “hey man, read some Kahlil Gibran and get your head on straight” conversation.

At that point, still caught up in frittering my afternoon away with imaginary therapy for skull-faced alien villains, I had a “eureka!” moment.  I found a few MOTU cartoon episodes online, I saved a handful of screen caps of Skeletor perpetrating various acts of villainy–the more outlandish the better– and opened them up in Photoshop. Carefully choosing some phrases of love and positivity from Louise L. Hay, I matched each image of the evil overlord’s wickedness and moral turpitude with an empowering thought. I knew it was utterly ridiculous even as I was doing it, and in true Sarah fashion, I didn’t even proof-read the first one I created, which still exists to this day with that spelling error, rendering it even more nonsensical. I messaged my sister over facebook with the whole slew of them, hoping to give her a laugh in the middle of what was probably shaping up to be a tough day, as I knew most of them usually were.

Both my sister and her husband, as well as my adorable new beau, thought this was a fantastic concept, and encouraged me to make a few more. Which, it turned out, I had a lot of fun with, and started to get really good at. Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m no artist–I was taking art that someone else created and paired it with words that someone else wrote–and so I was under no delusions about my artistic endeavor. But I do think I had a knack for finding the perfect turn of phrase to match with the most perversely appropriate image. Discerning and demonstrating those synergies must be an art form unto itself, right? Maybe? I went with that at the time, and I think I still believe it, to an extent.

I moved from posting these on my own, personal Facebook page, to creating a dedicated Facebook page for it. Why not? I thought.  Surely there are other weirdos on this planet who might get a kick out of this, too? What to call this project, though? Something catchy, simple, powerful. And of course he needed a tagline, something brief and to the point!

Skeletor Is Love, or Heal Yourself, Skeletor.
Skeletor is experiencing the profound emptiness and isolation of human existence. Follow his journey to positive mental health through daily affirmations.

When I mused that there would be other weirdos who would appreciate my silly contribution to the internet, I truly had no idea just how prescient a thought that turned out to be. I mean….ok, to be honest, I usually know when I have a good idea, or when I’m on to something. So I wasn’t entirely surprised that within a few days time the page had several hundred followers. By the end of the week there were several thousand. Within the next few months there were tens of thousands…and if I sound like I am tooting my horn, well, maybe I am a little.

Previously, I had, for years, been trapped in a relationship with a person who wouldn’t “let” me connect with people on the internet. Suspicious, paranoid, and extremely controlling, this man monitored my activities, policed my behavior, read my emails, and dictated to me the sites I could visit, the people I could communicate with, and even how I chose to present myself onIine. But less than a year later, under the auspices of an 80s cartoon bad guy, I was now reaching out to many thousands of people on a daily basis! And I didn’t have to hide it, or feel ashamed or guilty…as a matter of fact, what I was doing made me feel really, really good. “Take that, you miserable fucker!” I often found myself gleefully murmuring, in the very beginning.

It became clear to me that Skeletor wasn’t just making me feel good.

I tried not to look at the comments in response to each day’s offering; for every enthusiastic word of praise there was usually a complaint or criticism, “I don’t get it”, or “…is this supposed to be funny?” and after a while I was just like, “well, I can’t help it if you’re a moron”– but would this kinder, gentler Skeletor reply with that? Probably not. So I just skipped the comment section, for the most part, all together. (Upon reflection, that probably should have been one of the affirmations, too.)

I soon began receiving messages and emails, many of which really blew my mind. These were folks thanking me for making a difference in their day, for putting something good out into the world. Oftentimes the sender would share that Skeletor’s affirmation for the day aligned perfectly with something they were going through or trying to figure out.  Even more affecting than that, were those who shared that Skeletor was helping them with cope with their depression, or their self-harm, or their sobriety/addiction. I realized that what had started out as a lark, a laugh, a bit of light-hearted fun… was actually making a difference in someone’s life, and that there was a community of people in need who were perhaps truly benefiting from these messages of positivity. I began to take Skeletor and his messages to the public a little bit more seriously at this point, and tried my utmost to be responsible and respectful, but still tap into the absurdity and humor that inspired me in the first place.

If it made someone laugh, that’s great. If it helped someone get out of bed in the morning, or to call their sponsor instead of taking that drink, or whatever – that was even better. And I did try to put my money where my mouth is, to to speak! In May of 2014, my sister and I took part in the NAMI Walk (NAMI= National Alliance on Mental Illness), and as part of that, I reached out to the Skeletor is Love audience for assistance and we raised over $1200 for the cause. I think it meant a lot to people that, yes, while I created things to make people laugh on the internet, I was also an actual human being who was trying to do right by the community for which I had become an advocate. I did try to make it clear though, that I’ve got no training in the mental health field other than living in a family full of depressed alcoholics. I joke about it, but that part is true. I am no expert on anything. I was just doing my small, dumb part to make the world a better place.

But really, how seriously can you take something like this? Of course, not too seriously. You know that I had to create a How To Wear Skeletor Is Love ensemble! And sooner or later, I ran out of quotes from inspirational self-help gurus, so I moved on to celebrities, scientists, to saints, philosophers, poets, song lyrics, personal ads (“today we are kittens, tomorrow we are tigers” was a quote from They Call Me Naughty Lola, which is a book that everyone should have on their coffee table.) Sometimes I might read something that got me all riled up, and I’d react via Skeletor (like in a Huffpost article in which men are asked to weigh in on ladies fashion trends. Fuck off, Huffpost.) Sometimes I just made it all up entirely.

In the end though, I promised myself that once it stopped being fun, I was done with it. Life is too short to slog through things that you’re not enjoying, you know? And maybe it’s selfish, but I’d rather leave people wanting more of a thing, than to have them tire of that thing and grow to hate it. And that’s eventually what happened, more or less, but I guess it was more me hating it than the people I was making it for. It was brought to my attention that a certain mall goth shop had begun to sell these tee shirts. I was a little miffed. I mean, I am not saying that I am the only person on Earth who could have paired together Skeletor and the lyrics from Joydrop’s 1998 single “Beautiful”, but come on.  Really? V. rude, Hot Topic.


But what could I do? These weren’t even my characters, and I am not sure how copyright or trademark infringement works, but I wasn’t about to get caught up in all of that. I fumed for a few days, took a week off, and realized I was absolutely dreading even thinking about accompanying Skeletor any further on his journey. I was definitely not having fun any more.

In the end, I worked on Skeletor is Love for about a year and a half, and even when it was over, I left everything as-is for new folks to discover, and so that the people who already loved it would always have access to it. All of the places where one might find my original Skeletor Is Love content still exist to this day.  Of course, not everyone was happy with my decision, and on one hand, I get it. As a fan of things, I am always a bit sad when the thing I love reaches the end, takes its final bow, and exits the stage. But I also think I can recognize when someone continues to do a thing in which they are not fully invested, when their heart’s not in it. I didn’t want to become such a person, endlessly churning out garbage that I was unhappy with, forever–and I do believe that most people understood my decision.

Many fans said, “but it’s so great, why not give the page to someone else to update?” Uh, really? Ok, you create something that was pretty important to you and then gormlessly turn it over to a complete stranger to have their way with. Go right ahead! But yeah, that’s just…asinine. Who in their right mind would do that? Also? Why would you even want to continue cranking out a project that you didn’t start? Get your own thing! Run with your own ideas! I feel like that’s what Skeletor might say, anyway. At least this re-imagined version of him.

On the whole, it was an amazing time, and a weird, wild, experience. I made it to Buzzfeed! And i09! A few kind souls even interviewed me about the experience, and as someone who is usually the one asking the interview questions, that was certainly a strange turnabout. It was an enterprise which connected me with people I never would have met otherwise, and which four years later, people are still just now finding out about. Even to this day when it somehow comes up in conversation, the other person’s response is usually, “…that was YOU?!” Which as a terribly shy person who sometimes secretly loves attention, that’s always kind of exciting.

Friends who have already heard this story a thousand times, thank you for indulging me once more. Friends and readers who were previously unaware– I guess I just wanted to make sure you guys knew, too! In addition to my love of art and fashion, perfume and ghosts and weirdness, and all of the other things and experiences I write about on my blog and in my books– also, at one point in time, I had a funny little undertaking with a blue-skinned megalomaniac, and we embarked on a journey of hope and positivity together.

Find Skeletor Is Love: website // facebook // twitter // instagram

If you enjoyed Skeletor is Love and would like to show support, please consider purchasing one of my books! (non Skeletor-related-sorry!)



When I was younger, I would tear through a book in a matter of hours.  I would demolish a stack of library books in the span of a few afternoons.  My favorite time of year was grade school summer vacation, during which time I would banish myself to the screened porch; hunched on the sweaty patio furniture, I would gulp glass after glass of my mother’s weak iced tea and slip into the pages of Stephen King, John Saul, Anne Rice, HP Lovecraft, Dean Koontz (I didn’t really discriminate at that age). I thoroughly immersed myself in these lurid, awful tales of monsters and madmen and supernatural goings-on and oftentimes would spend upwards of 8 hours out in the heat, completely lost to the world.

Unfortunately as I’ve gotten older, I am much more easily distracted (or is it that there are more things to become distracted by? Hm.) and it takes me much longer to read through a horrid novel. Where I once left the library with no less than a dozen books, I now exit the building with with two or three of them lumped uneasily at the bottom of a mostly empty tote bag  -I fear they know as well as I that any more than one book at a time now is wishful thinking.

The past few years had been especially bad for this; with upheaval comes a distinct lack of focus, and I am sure that I grew weary of or bored with 50% of the books I’d attempted reading. This year I was determined to begin making up for lost time.  It is almost August now, and I am fairly certain that I have read more in 2014 than I have in the last ten years.

Doctor Sleep  |  The Ocean At The End Of The Lane  | American Vampire, Volume 1 | Garlic and Sapphires | Pretty Little Liars 1 (don’t judge me!) | Comfort Me With Apples | Tender At The Bone | Pretty Little Liars 2: Flawless | The Shining Girls

Angelica | Heart Shaped Box | White Is For Witching | The Imago Sequence and Other Stories | The Asylum | American Vampire, Vol. 2

NOS4A2 | Boneshaker | The Goldfinch

Red Shirts | Wild Fell

The Unseen | The Ghostwriter

The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All | Horns | The Tenant | The Small Hand | Sex Criminals Volume 1 | Morning Glories Volume 1

Carrion Comfort | Morning Glories Volume 2-7

The standouts for me so far have been The Goldfinch, Horns, and Sex Criminals, but more than that I have just enjoyed the magic of burying myself in a book again, of being breathlessly caught up in someone else’s story, and yes – even the tinge of regret and disappointment once the tale has been told and the last page has been turned.

Next on the reading list: Penpal by Dathan Auerbach and The Anxiety of Kalix the Werewolf by Martin Millar.  And I am very much looking forward to The Children of the Old Leech (a Laird Barron tribute!), Burnt Black Suns, and The Lord Came At Twilight.

What is stacked on your bedside table for an evening read?  What stories are you most looking forward to immersing yourself in? Do tell!  There’s so many empty shelves that need filling in my Library of Probable Books…


22 Jul

Goths at the Gym. Photography: Matías Uris Rey

I am a woman who likes her ghost stories and her soft core lady vampire movies and her occasional Viking metal or haunted cathedral music. I’ll give up my black clothes when they can find me a darker color. I dislike activities that involve sunlight and the possibility of other humans looking at me.  I can’t muster much enthusiasm for anything that makes me sweat or restricts my indulgences.  I am not peppy.

Diet and fitness blogs don’t seem to exist for people like me.  And yet, I think, people like me are inevitably the sort of black-hearted, lazy folk  who might find themselves in need of such resources.  But not the cheery RAH-RAH-RAH sort of diet/fitness/weight loss blog that seem to be de rigueur in certain circles, filled with clichéd claptrap encouraging you to love moving your bod! and nourish your soul! and blah, blah, baloney forever.  I need my motivation served subtle (you almost have to trick me into it) with a soupçon of snark and a sizeable side of spooky.  I’ve tried googling “goth weight loss blogs/goth fitness blogs” and I know I made mention in a previous post of a BLACK METAL DIET blog – but neither of those adequately describe what I am looking for.  I am not, nor have I ever been all that gothy. I listened to Iron Maiden in high school for pete’s sake, and if I recall there was a distinct rivalry between folks who listened to Iron Maiden and Slayer and those who listened to The Cure and Nine Inch Nails. So 20 years later I feel like calling myself a goth would be some sort of betrayal to Bruce Dickinson.

So I guess I am sort of weird and I don’t quite fit in anywhere. And that’s the direction I’ve decided to take with this.  Every once in a while, when I decide to get chatty about my progress, I’ll be using the “weight loss for weirdos” tag. I would say “you have been warned” but you’re here anyway so you may as well read it.

SO, I am going to share two of my WEIGHT LOSS FOR WEIRDOS tips with you this evening.

1. Bedtime Yoga + MORTIIS

There is nothing, NOTHING so important as bedtime and a sound sleep and 8+ hours of epic dreams.  Before tucking in for the evening, I turn off the lights, turn down the bed and do maybe 5-7 minutes of bed time yoga right on my mattress  (you can find some poses here and here, I personally like the goddess pose and the spinal twist). I am cranky and irritable if I have a difficult time falling asleep, but I have found that since starting this, routine? regimen?  I am usually asleep within 10-15 minutes. Bonus points: Mortiis’ Fodt Til Å Herske album is perfect to have playing in the background while you are stretching and slipping into sleep. Nocturnal dungeon/crypt sounds, when even the tortured spirits are at rest.


2. Something that you look forward to wearing when you are exercising.

I realize that might sound kind of silly and it’s not like I put a lot of thought into my appearance when I am venturing forth to sweat for an hour in 100 degree weather.  But there’s something about looking down at this particular shirt when I am exercising that makes me cackle.  And I love that. It makes the time spent working out seem a tiny bit less dreadful.

Cat magic tee shirt by killercondoapparel on etsy



14 Jul

From the time I was 5 years old, my mother had me on diets.  I suppose I was a chubby little girl.  Maybe it is embarrassing to have a chubby child, maybe it makes you look like a failure as a parent.  I know I rather felt like a failure as a daughter in that regard.

I loved food.  I loved the way it tasted, loved the way it looked in the cookbooks, loved the delicious smells my grandmother coaxed forth from her kitchen.  I became obsessed with food at an early age, and my mother, realizing that, probably became a bit obsessed with keeping it out of my mouth.

I recall an instance when I was 10 or 11 years old.  My grandmother had brought an apple pie over to our house for us to have with our supper  She often cooked for us as my mother had decided to go back to school in her late 30s and wasn’t around to prepare meals for us. On that evening my mother sent me away from the table so I didn’t have to forlornly watch my sisters enjoying their slices of dessert, for, of course, I was not allowed to join in.  I imagine my feelings were somewhat hurt at the time, but I got over it and life went on.  My sister tells me that years later when she thinks of me going pie-less that night, she still gets a little sad for me.

In my early teens I had a bit of a growth spurt and thanks to my mother’s insistence on Lean Cuisine and salad for every meal and a two mile walk every night, I had fairly streamlined my physique before heading into middle school, and after that I managed to maintain a reasonable weight throughout most of high school.  I somehow was able to snag a boyfriend my freshman year and though I now realize now he wasn’t much of a catch, I think that his mere existence was probably incentive enough to keep me on my toes regarding diet and exercise during those years. Alas, I was dumped right before my senior year and my weight ballooned so rapidly and to such an extent that one particularly nasty girl even asked me if I was pregnant.  I still dream about punching that girl in the face.

After almost 30 years of yo-yo dieting and weighing between 115 and 200 pounds at various points in my life, I have developed a rather complicated relationship with food, and I am afraid I am getting to an age where these sorts of things are, as they say, “nothing to fuck around with”.

This is not going to become a space where I talk about diet and exercise because quite frankly I hate diet and exercise with the sort of loathing that one reserves for Nazis and telemarketers and those reply cards in magazines that fly out when you open them to read an article.  Also, I find diet blogs with their positive attitudes and feel good propaganda and sunny blond bloggers more annoying than I can possibly explain.  I want to see a diet blog where the writer worries about what to eat before going to a Norwegian black metal concert or how can they incorporate healthy snacking into their D&D weekends or what’s the best exercise to get if you don’t want to do any fucking exercise at all because you want to watch an entire season of Hannibal in one go, thank you very much and you are not leaving the couch for any reason. I want to know that someone else is googling things like “funyuns casserole” and “cheeto burritos” as part of their ridiculous coping mechanisms fueled by food deprivation.

Those are the kind of blogs I want to read, but they don’t seem to exist and I don’t want to make one because let’s be honest here – I am really lazy and that is 80% of what got me in this spot to begin with.

Inspired by two wonderful friends who have undertaken weight-loss journeys, as well as riding the coat-tails of my own post-food poisoning weight loss, I did begin making some changes a few weeks ago, and I have since lost 7 pounds. I’ve got quite a bit to go before I reach a weight that I know from experience looks and feels good for my height and body type, etc. The last time I lost a large amount of weight it’s because I was dating a married man and depressed and anxious all of the time, and also kind of addicted to Xenedrine (which I think killed a few people – but hey, it worked).  I’d really rather not resort to such measures this time around.

All of this is rather personal to share with the world at large  – or at least the two people who read this blog – but I write about personal business all of the time, so it’s more than that.  This is more about really opening myself up and making myself vulnerable to talk about these issues which have quite literally plagued me for as long as I can remember. It makes me feel a little raw, and it’s scary.

I resolved a few years ago to do one thing a day that scares me, and so let’s just call this my Scary Thing for today.





10 Jul

As the sun maintains its tyrannical zenith and the buzzing cicadas drown out the sound of one’s own heart, when the concrete scorches tender, bare feet, when the sky is so dazzlingly bright and hot that the electric blueness of it is burned into your retinas, well, that’s when I start to feel a little depressed.

My knitting lies in tangles and frizzes, untouched. The pages of books wilt underneath my fingertips. Gardens are unattended and parched, and little messes in the home accumulate under an uncaring eye. Under the weight of this mid-to-late summer malaise, ennui, whatever you want to call it – I just can’t be bothered to care.

I think one of the symptoms of depression is “…loss of interest in daily activities”; activities, which, I might add, I am normally rather enthusiastic about.  So I have come to the conclusion that this is a kind seasonally affective disorder, though not the sort that most folks experience.  It is the distinct lack of sun which I crave.

There’s really not much to be done for it save drawing the curtains, cranking down the AC, pouring oneself an icy drink, and contemplating all of the dark, quiet, cool places to which one can escape during these wretched summer months.

Mossy castles…

Blarney Castle in Ireland on flickr


Hushed cathedrals…

St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague on flickr

Blue lagoons…

The Blue Lagoon (Bláa lónið) in Iceland on flickr

I suppose mentioning Iceland is a bit of a cheat, since I do have plans to be there at the end of August, ostensibly the hottest, most miserable time of year here in swamplandia.  And if I find any quiet cathedrals or mossy castles there – all the better!

What is your escape plan during these brain-boiling summer months?  What deliciously chilled places do your daydreams take you when the sun is melting your face off?  Let’s just all run away and come back when the leaves begin to turn this autumn.


23 Jun


I don’t like to to dwell in the past.  That was then, and this is now.  You can never go back. All those other phrases that good writers don’t use because they know better than to employ tired cliches which mean nothing at all – but I’m a mediocre hack at best so I figure I can get away with it.

I am very happy to be where I am now.  That is to say, back in Florida, living near my family and friends and in a healthy relationship with a wonderful person. The time I spent in New Jersey was a strange, sad period in my life and I don’t wish to go back -ever- but there are some things I find myself missing.  I don’t know if this was true or not, but I do really feel as if I were utterly alone there.  And it’s funny, as I child I do remember that being my dearest wish – that people just live me alone.  In peace.  To read, to daydream, it didn’t matter…I just wanted to be left to my own devices in my own company.  And it was during my years in New Jersey that I got that wish and it was more lonely and more terrible than I could have realized.  I have never been good at making friends and the situation I was in made it even harder than it might have been otherwise.  I had nothing, and for a time, no one.  And for the time I had someone, it was the worst someone who could have happened to me.

As one could imagine, then.  I had a lot of time on my own,  And being a homebody by nature, I spent that time in or around my home.  Experimenting in the kitchen, decorating (in my small, weird way) gardening, exploring my little neighborhood. I taught myself how to knit, I made butter from scratch, I photographed lovely things on long ambling neighborhood strolls, I grew vegetables, I became comfortable with myself and what I could do.  I learned what I like away from external influences.  The unhappier I was, the harder I tried to conjure those little magics which make life bearable.


I suppose it is the passing of the summer solstice yesterday without ceremony or ritual or so much as “how do ye do?” which causes me to realize how little time I spend in these pursuits now.  I have social engagements and obligations, I have a home which is a secondary priority to the person with whom I am living in that home with, I read and listen to music and knit, yes, I do these things, but I feel like I am almost programmed to do these things now.  I have done them so long so, I don’t feel a whole person without them.  But those little things I sought out to elevate my existence to something more than survival…I seem to have forgotten how to do these things.  Or they have lost their importance to me, buried under the responsibilities of a real person, whereas before, I suppose I felt as if I were a bit of a ghost; a being on whom no one relied or noticed.  A sad, invisible, selfish thing.

I’d like to enjoy these things again, the seeking out and practices of little daily magics.  My life is so much richer now, fuller and more exciting it ever was before. I think this is a perfect time.

5840998148_a4a0645e04_o (1)

How do you keep the little magics alive in your daily goings-on?  How do you elevate your day-to-day existence to something beautiful, special, sacred, worth remembering and dreaming about?  I’d love to know your secrets, if you are up to sharing them with me.


7 Jun


I recall seeing this pattern (“Celestarium“) published in an online knitting magazine a year or two ago, and though I thought it was a neat idea to capture the constellations in a knit to sweep across one’s shoulders, I honestly wasn’t moved enough by the pattern itself to want to knit it.

However,  when a certain knitter made some excellent modifications to the pattern (lose the yarn-overs, swap out the edging for something a little fancier) I certainly took notice.  This was a shawl worth knitting, I thought.

I won’t say this was a light-hearted, mindless knit (though it is a great deal of monotonous stockinette); it certainly gave me an issue here or there.  First with the really fiddly cast-on: a circular cast on is tricky enough, but when you add beads in to the mix it becomes twice as challenging. My circular cast on is pretty flawed, as you can see, but I can’t be bothered with absolute perfection. I like a little bit of wabi-sabi in my knits.


Up until now I had left the beads off all of my knitted projects – I was much too intimidated to give it a try.  And after finishing Celestarium, I realize it is really quite simple!  I think there are a few ways to do this, but I place each bead on the yarn as I knit along, using a tiny crochet hook. There are a few videos on youtube that do a pretty good job of showing the way.


I had been knitting steadily on this, a bit every day (whilst binge-watching Hannibal…oh what a lovely, baroque, grotesque show!) and in time I finally reached the bit of the pattern where the edging is begun.  It slowly dawned on me that I am 2/3 through my last skein of yarn…and there may not be enough to complete the project.  At this point I am prey to the most dangerous kind of wishful thinking, “oh yes, yes, I am going to make it, there is enough yarn& etc.”…and as a friend perfectly summed up…watching the yarn run down as the project grows is like playing the *slowest* game of chicken. And you will always lose.

Of course, I am a terribly loosey-goosey knitter and never knit to gauge (gauge swatches? pffft!!) and it was inevitable that I did indeed run out of yarn. If you are the same sort of …hm…freespirited(!) knitter, and you are knitting with modifications, I might suggest ponying up for an extra skein of whatever yarn you are using. Luckily, it was easy enough to find more of what I needed and though I know it was a different dye lot, I can’t tell the difference at all.


And so, with very little fanfare I finished Celestarium after watching a movie about moon Nazis last evening, around midnight.  This morning I woke with the sun, gave her a soak and pinned her out, and that is that.

To what far reaches will this starry space babe travel?   I wonder….

Pattern: Celestarium, by Audrey Nicklin
Yarn: 3 (and very little of a 4th) skeins of Madelinetosh merino light in “dirty panther”
Needles: I switched back & forth so many times, I cannot remember. Sizes 2-4
Started: March 28, 2014
Finished: June 7, 2014.


✥ 1 comment

18 May

Irish Wake Cake & Funeral Biscuits at Death Cafe Orlando. Photo: S.E. Walter

Three months ago I made the decision to host Orlando’s first Death Cafe.  This was a sudden decision, though it felt to me as if things had been leading up to it for a while.  A West Coast friend had recently blogged about her experiences attending her first Death Cafe, and I thought “huh!  I would like to do that as well”. I realized that over the past year or so I’d accumulated more than just a few friends who worked within or were involved in studies or researches surrounding some aspect of the Death industry.  And, well, my mother had just passed away two months prior, so I was still (and still am) processing that.

A search for a local Death Cafe proved fruitless; the closest being in Ocala, which I believe is an hour and a half drive from where I live. Why not just host my own, I thought.  According to the Death Cafe website, Death Cafes are considered a social franchise and anyone can do it. Why not me, indeed!

With some much needed encouragement from friends who pointed me in the direction of some Death Cafe veterans for advice and mentoring, I made my decision.  Me, someone who can barely open her mouth to speak to a stranger.  I was going to gather unfamiliar humans together and facilitate an afternoon’s discussion on Death.*

I was equally parts excited beyond belief and sick to death with dread.

I registered with the Death Cafe site and made an event page.  I created a facebook page for related content and updates.  I created a twitter account and to be thorough, I enlisted the help of a dear friend to create a separate blog for it (which, Death Cafe novices – if you are reading this, do not do those last two things.  I was contacted by Death Cafe and asked to take down the blog and twitter account.  Apparently this is a no-no that is somewhere listed in their rules, using the words ‘deathcafe’ in your twitter handle and/or blog.  I had overlooked that and rectified it as soon as possible). I posted about it on my own twitter account, my tumblr account, and my instagram.  And before you dismiss these as frivolous venues, you should know that one attendee did find it through tumblr, and another found it through my instagram account!

The months flew by, and Orlando Florida’s first Death Cafe was held on Saturday May 17th. On a rare, beautiful spring-like day, eleven people sought each other out to explore various thoughts surrounding their own mortality and discuss that aeons old Lurker, Death. For some Death was a familiar notion, and were well acquainted with it. They shared their stories, their wisdom, their insights. For others, Death was a stranger, a more abstract idea, and around this they expressed their expectations and their fears. Conversation was lively, punctuated by bursts of laughter and quieter chuckles of mirth – as well as, small silences and pauses for reflection. Topics ran the gamut, ranging from one’s first awareness of one’s own mortality, to the wish to be present (or not) when loved one has passed, from writing one’s own eulogy, to the decline of obituaries, and what to do with a parent’s remains when they have made no last wishes? In addition to the pieces of themselves that everyone shared, most all attendees brought delicious treats to the events, which were well received. As expected, cosying up so closely with Death for an afternoon leaves the soul a mite peckish.

*Many, MANY thanks to my generous sister and brother in law for opening their home up for this event. I really could not have done this without you guys, and I appreciate it more than you know. Also: sorry for leaving all that flour on the floor.


I spend a great deal of time piddling & dinking around on the internet and in the doing so, I stumble upon all manner of fascinating things. A few things that have recently caught my eye/piqued my interest/whipped my grey matter into a maelstrom…

How to know if you are reading a gothic novel – in pictures  Are there tyrants with scary eyes?  Virgins swooning piously? Spooky castles and probable monsters? You are most likely reading a gothic novel

Mothography by Warren Krupsaw
 These wee things sat on the photographer’s finger!

The Botanica Reliquaire series, by Fran Liscio,
  Beautiful and hearbreaking still life arrangements with found birds and flowers,

And new music from favorite artists! See below for new videos from First Aid Kit, Jolie Holland, and Julianna Barwick.

✥ 1 comment