Earlier this year I wrapped up my most ambitious knitting project to date. Unfortunately, since that time everything I have touched has been an absolute disaster. I have scrapped not just one or two, but three projects because I either could not understand the pattern (which I find incredibly humiliating) or because I have stalled due to some mistake and no matter how many times I rework it, something is still wrong. It’s all been very disheartening and discouraging. I am not someone who has to deal with depression issues (though my counselor sister would tell me I’ve had some sort of low-grade depression my entire life), but this situation has really thrown me for a loop and it’s about as close to depression as I get. I sort of feel like that shawl was the best I was capable of and it is all downhill from there. What’s the point? &Etc.
I can almost hear people rolling their eyes about this “problem”, but knitting is the one thing I am good at. And I feel good, knowing that I am good at it. And lately, well, I’ve not been good at it at all, which makes me feel like a giant loser and kind of like I’ve got nothing to offer the world and I might as well give up on everything, lock myself in my house, crawl into bed and do nothing but eat honey mustard & onion pretzels and sleep for the rest of my life.
Is that the most pathetic thing you’ve ever heard? I bet it’s close.
I’m not sure what other folks do when they feel as though they are failing at everything they attempt, but I’ve found that going back to the beginning, starting over with the simplest steps – that’s a good place to be when you are feeling you are the lousiest at things. And even if you don’t wind up with ground breaking results, you’ve gotten yourself back into the rhythm of an activity you enjoy and you remember all of the reasons you love it in the first place.
I know it might sound a little silly, but those tiny stitches combined with that intricate pattern really takes a toll on a body – both physical and mental. After finishing it, I had been looking for more and more complex patterns to tackle, and maybe what I should have done after completing such a challenging venture was uncramp my knotted fingers, unhunch my twisted back, and relax into the mindless slide and slip of stitches between the needles – something simple, and quick, and that hardly requires a pattern.
In taking my own advice (for once) and doing just that, I bound off the last stitch on the Boneyard shawl yesterday. Just a simple triangle shawl with some ridges for visual interest, knit up in a lovely rustic yarn that a dear friend brought back from Finland a few years ago – and it’s flawed, don’t get me wrong… I was three-quarters of the way through before I realized I missed a crucial bit of the instructions and had to start all over again, and then on top of that I didn’t have very much of the yarn left to begin with, so it’s made a rather dainty sized shawl.
But honestly, I don’t care about any of that. I finally finished something again. I didn’t stop. I didn’t give up. Well, I guess I did give up on those other three patterns but I imagine I will revisit them in time. But I didn’t give up on the concept of knitting as a whole, as something I fill my time with, and something that I enjoy immensely. And it’s made me realize the reason that I love knitting so much, and why I might just actually be good at it. It is the one thing I always go back to, that for whatever reason, I have found that even if I fail over and over and over again, I don’t want to give it up. I can’t.
I love it because it is something that I can’t not do. (And coming from one of the most apathetic people on the planet, there is a great deal of importance in that statement.) I deeply treasure this ability which I cultivated – on my own with no help at all – and it has become so much a part of who I am that it’s little wonder I was so upset a few weeks ago when I was failing endlessly. I wasn’t just screwing up a knitting pattern, I was having an identity crisis!
This is all very rambling, and probably not at all interesting to people who don’t knit (and barely, I’m sure, to even those who do). I suppose I was feeling down and wanted to write about it and share and ask for feedback. What do you do to get back on track with your crafty endeavors when you have a setback? How do you keep yourself motivated when your results are less than you’d hoped for? And what are you all working on right now, anyhow? Talk to me about your successes and failures and how you move forward to do more.
From end of life celebrations, to fatalistic revelations, to mournful lamentations, there are myriad ways in which music gives death, and the dead, a voice. Songs of the sighs of a sorrowful widow, the heartfelt promises to a friend on their deathbed, the haunting whispers of a ghost to it’s murderer – music is one of the most profound ways we can express or respond to the end of life experience.
The following playlist is comprised of women who have constructed and composed aural memento mori in this regard. As humans, we occupy a unique place in the saga of mortality, and these women in particular offer illuminating perspectives on the subject as it relates to the afterlife, funerals & wakes, ancestral memories, etc.
O Death Jen Titus // Waiting Around to Die The Be Good Tanyas // Born To Die Lana Del Rey // Harmonica Anna von Hausswolff // Cross Bones Style Cat Power // Wakes Nina Nastasia // Sleeping Dead Emily Jane White // Caleb Meyer Gillian Welch // Fancy Funeral Lucinda Williams // Long Ride Home Patty Griffin //Family Dar Williams // Buried in Teeth Mariee Sioux // The Dirt Mirel Wagner // Into Dust Mazzy Star // Herb Girls Of Birkenau Rasputina // Eulogy La Vampires & Zola Jesus // Gallows Cocorosie // A Lily For The Spectre Stephanie Dosen // White Fire Angel Olsen // Graveyard Feist // Suzanne & I Anna Calvi // Many Funerals Eisley // Happy Phantom Tori Amos
Look at these sassy beelzebroads! Though the imagery might lead you to believe this is a film about Hell’s Elite “cackling diabolically over the latest batch of the damned”, it is but a story of common gold diggers and larceny. (h/t Cabinet of Curiosities)
OSMO is an experiment in totally transforming the experience of an awkward public space into something of wonder and tranquility.
VIDEO LUST: moments of romantic obsession for video memories of the past. “…a plethora of horror, fantasy and sci-fi soundtracks that work magically together. This mix arrives right on time for Valentine’s Day and should be used to guide you in whatever direction your night takes on the 14th.” (via)
Adult Wednesday Adams vs. Catcallers. I love you, Adult Wednesday Adams. (via Jon)
“What Kind Of Man” the first video from Florence + The Machine’s new album, ‘How Big How Blue How Beautiful’. It is a heavy one; frighteningly intense and strangely cathartic, and brimming with that strange, dazzling energy unique to this lady. I think I love it.
I’ve a habit of constantly hunting down new music, new sounds, new treats for my ears. If I am not listening to something new, I feel like I am stagnating, suffocating. I suppose it’s not really fair to all the great old stuff I like (as in …older than last week) because I never listen to the same thing twice anymore! Oh well, there are worse problems to have.
So then: I don’t know about you, but I do love to share my obsessions with like-minded folks and kindred spirits, and as such I think I will regularly start to feature the new things on heavy rotation for me, in a once monthly (or whatever, don’t hold me to a schedule)
For Your Ears posting. Don’t expect lengthy reviews; I know what I like but it’s often difficult to articulate exactly why I like something, so you won’t find that here. Nonetheless, I hope that you will find something you enjoy!
More new stuff from The Twilight Sad, who sound like all the music I never listened to when I was younger.
Xunolm, Asleep in the Shattered Mirror. “…a perfect score for some rustbelt cyberpunk dystopia, or a futuristic zombie apocalypse. It’s both sterling shining chrome and crumbling decadence” (via forestpunk)
Dreamy folkstress Marissa Nadler covering Elliott Smith
A new solo project featuring some live sets from Eric Quach, one of my favorite drone artists.
New music from Atlanta’s Royal Thunder, whose second album, Crooked Doors, will be out in April.
“…briny doom-laden folktronica” from Snow Ghosts.
Transcend, from Ahimsa, released inDecember of 2014. Not sure what to say about it. It falls under post-rock. I like post-rock.
Stephan Mathieu’s Nachtstücke is a “limitless sonic aura” which “forges eveningness as a tangible, sensible thing”.
The Unthanks’ latest album is “filled to the brim with the epic, the grandiose, and the fairytale-esque.” (via forfolkssake)
In a previous lifetime I worked part-time for a small, independently-run health food store. I look back upon these few years fondly, for it was during these snippets of time that I met many interesting folks (some of them were kind of nutty, but mostly in the fun ways) and I had immediate access to a lot of things I otherwise might have never known about. It was at this point in my timeline that I spent a year as a vegetarian.
Why only a year? I suppose, as lame as this reason is, I got bored. I missed eating sushi and hamburgers and pepperoni pizza. In analyzing this, though, I realize that during this flesh-free year, I really cleaned up my eating habits. There’s something about eating meat that gives me license to make poor eating choices; it’s (somehow, at least for me) the gateway drug to eating Sour Patch kids for breakfast and Doritos for dinner every day. However, while making vegetarian choices I grew used to broadening my palate to include new foods – I suppose I was trying to make up for the things I was not eating – and in doing so I became more conscious of the things I was putting in my body.
I lost weight and I felt really good. Like, good all the time. No aches or pains or creaks like I have now, that’s for sure. Then again, that was seven years ago -I was also younger and so I am sure that’s got something to do with it too. I won’t say that I felt morally superior to anyone; I was not doing it for any ethical reasons so that doesn’t factor in.
Nowadays I probably eat a 50% vegetarian diet. And to be frank, cooking with meat kind of grosses me out, anyway. I always feel like it is a dangerous undertaking, that there’s a chance I might inadvertently murder someone with something undercooked or tainted by disease. Plus, there’s something really cathartic about chopping all of those vegetables.
If you invite me over for dinner though, I will happily eat your roast chicken or your pork tenderloin or your baked salmon or your barbecued spare ribs. Just don’t serve me pot roast. Bleeech.
In preparing vegetarian meals on and off over the better part of the last decade, I have discovered/adapted/improvised a few favorites, which I’ve showcased at the top of the page, with links to the recipes, if applicable. Don’t judge by the photos though, as some of the tastiest dishes made for some very lackluster imagery (lentil loaf, you are kind of hideous.)
That vegetable broth? I made 20,000 gallons it to incorporate into the seitan “ribs” that I was planning for dinner this weekend, and only later did I find out that the seitan recipe I remembered from way back when only needed a scant, amount, if any. I ended up using the rest of it as a base for veggie chili and I’m not sure if it’s due to the inclusion of home made broth, but it turned out quite good and has been perfect for this rare winter weather we are having. And by that, I mean…it’s in the 50s. My apologies, Northern Friends. I will stop complaining now.
Are you a part-time plant eater? A full time herbivore? What are some of your favorite dishes& meals, if you are so inclined to share? Do you find that eating a mainly plant based diet has made a difference for you, either physically or otherwise?
WEIGHT LOSS FOR WEIRDOS UPDATE Well. It’s been a few months, hasn’t it? I, like many others, succumbed to the excess and hedonism of the holidays and on top of that there was a fair bit (and by that I mean non-stop) sadness eating thanks to Dead Mom Anniversaries. When I finally got the courage to weigh myself again in January, I found that in that short span of time I gained back half of the weight I’d lost. You’d think that would have been some sort of motivation to rally but sadly it that has not been the case because my brain is backwards and slow and apparently does not work that way. I did, however, get a gym membership this weekend. What! I know! I can’t believe it either, I swore I would never be one of those people who go to the gym. (“Those people”? I don’t know what I mean by that. Those fit, well-disciplined people? Yeah, who wants that for themselves.) And also, the first thing I did after joining a gym is sit down and write a poem so maybe I need to figure out how gyms actually work.
After another one of their pals posts a stolen baby pic on Faeriebook, Moth Catfrost and Feathers Peppershimmer wonder if they will ever kidnap a human baby and replace it with a changeling, or if they are destined to be alone and unhated forever. (via Carissa)
Heilung is a new project between Kai Uwe Faust and Christopher Juul. Heilung is sounds from the northern european iron age and viking period, “using everything from running water, human bones, reconstructed swords and shields up to ancient frame drums and bronze rings in the songs.” The lyrics contain original texts from rune stones and preserved spear shafts, amulets and other artifacts. (via Jennifer)
If you enjoy the aesthetic appeal of animal antlers but hate the idea of taxidermy, Elkebana might be just the thing for you. The wall-mounted system relies on symmetrical sets of flowers or tree branches and gets its name from ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement.
Iceland to build first temple to Norse gods since Viking age “I don’t believe anyone believes in a one-eyed man who is riding about on a horse with eight feet,” said Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, high priest of Ásatrúarfélagið, an association that promotes faith in the Norse gods. “We see the stories as poetic metaphors and a manifestation of the forces of nature and human psychology.” Well, that’s a bummer. But still, something else to visit on our next trip back!
Dead Dads and other Ugly Things. Ashley Tibbets talks about her dead dad and how we all have our “dead dads,” the things in our lives that are “decidedly unpretty, undesirable, imperfect, and that might make people feel uncomfortable. We all have our cross to bear and maybe life would be richer if we weren’t afraid to expose them, if we weren’t afraid to let others expose theirs.”
Jeff Bridges wants to help you fall asleep “The album is essentially Jeff Bridges, quietly, creakily musing on things like sleeping and waking, the irony of waking his wife up to record her for a tape that’s supposed to induce slumber, and whether or not people can meet in dreams.”
How am I just now, nearly a year later, reading about Christina Hendrick’s Palm Springs Caftans and Casseroles party idea? Unbelievable. This is an idea that is tailor-made for me. Psychedelic, flowing frocks? Check. One dish meals, preferably topped with a heart stopping amount of melty cheese? Check. A room full of my favorite people, swimming in their caftans, gorging themselves on potluck comestibles from tables groaning under the collective weight of so many pyrex casserole dishes? YES PLEASE. It’s like a demented orgy except with entirely different perversions. What? You know us casserole lovers can get freaky.
This magnificent garment has come a long way from 600 BC Persia where it was traditionally worn in the battlefield under chainmail. It was later introduced to North Africa where “different groups interpreted them according to their religious and cultural traditions, and European imperialism led to cultural contact with the East, allowing for caftans to infiltrate the Western wardrobe.” Fast forward to the 1960s, when wealthy jet-setters and superstars took off for places like Morocco and India and brought back Eastern fashion traditions. Designers such as Halston and Yves Saint Laurent adopted the style into a symbol of bohemian elite that trickled down to mainstream fashion in the 1970s.
I have compiled below some inspiration in the form of glamorous ladies in flowing frocks and the casseroles and covered dishes which to accompany them. In the meantime to ready yourself for this unparalleled vision of paradise involving comfort food and comfortable clothes, I suggest you read Caftan Lyfe and How to Get Your Caftan Body Ready For Summer.
1. Select a caftan of your chosen gauge and length. Stroke its gauzy fabric and whisper into its folds.
2. Let your flesh settle into the crevices of your comfortable, comfortable caftan.
3. Crumbs? Let them fall where they may, swaddled in your caftan.
As you sprawl luxuriously, here are some ideas for a decadent spread:
I’ve decided that 2015 is the year for literary inspired mixes (primarily ghost stories and weird tales, I imagine.) Earlier in the month we had Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla and today we have a playlist inspired by William Hope Hodgson’s The House on The Borderland.
Black Arts, Dronny Darko | Call of the Exile, NIGHTBRINGER | Onyx Towers, Black Blight | Faces In The Fog, Electric Hell | pathways in the dark, blackantlers | Images of Dream and Death, Wretched Excess | Strange Summoning, Possessor | The Night Scene, Oscillopeisia |The Death, Sumokem | The Prophecy, Lamia Vox | Godhead Emanation., Metatron Omega | Surround the Fire, Muscle and Marrow | Qulielfi (29th Tunnel of Set), y3mk
I am certainly no guru when it comes to cosmetics and beauty products; those elixirs, serums, and potions we sink hundreds and thousands of dollars in every year to keep us from mummifying or stinking or being generally hideous. I do, however, know what I like.
That, however, is a different story for a different time.
I am here today to talk to you about some items I most assuredly did not like.
On trip to DC in 2014 the airline lost our luggage and since they were reimbursing us for our expenses I figured I would splurge on a “fancy” deodorant. Of all the things on which to splurge.
Anyhow, the product itself smells very nice – a lovely combination of “fresh” and “clean” and mildly sweet. Once applied, however, I have found that the scent dissipates very quickly and after an hour or so in the warm weather, seems to disappear altogether. Up until that point I was blissfully unaware of how truly, incomparably awful my own body smelled in the absence of deodorizing beauty products. My god. That foul stench was coming from me? Unbelievable! Inconceivable! I had to keep surreptitiously sniffing myself to remind myself that yes, that vile odor was actually emanating from my person. You know the wiggly waves that come off smelly people in comics and cartoons? I am pretty sure that’s what my olfactory aura looked like during this time.
As someone who always smells pretty great (in my humble opinion), this turn of events -while disappointing and which made me a bit of a social pariah for the remainder of my vacation – was absolutely fascinating. I had no idea, NO IDEA that one human being could smell so bad. Well, I am here to tell you that they can, and apparently lacking properly effective deodorants, I am the equivalent of a ticking stinkbomb.
I cannot in good faith recommend this product. Who knows what evil lurks under our arms when we are caught unawares by an an incompetent deodorant? Steer clear from this product, and you’ll not have to ever find out.
I suppose it is rather unfair to judge and review a product after one usage, especially one that is not really designed to produce instantaneous results (as oppose to say, a swipe of lipstick or a spritz of perfume.) However, I am compelled to record my initial thoughts on the subject here, few though they may be.
I call upon you, if you will, to remember the film Poltergeist, when Carol Anne’s mother pulls her out of the closet and she is covered with that pinkish, ectoplasmic goo? The viscous ooze that I extracted from the small sample packet resembled that sticky slime to such a degree that I actually found myself retching a little bit as I spread with trembling fingers that rosy jellied mucous on my face. Though the smell was in no way off-putting, the texture was like so much partially digested pudding and I shuddered to think how this slithering, slippery mass might transform my familiar (if slightly reddened and visibly aging) visage.
As instructed, I rinsed the sickly substance from my cheeks with warm water and waited with mounting fear to see what would emerge from beneath that foul fluid. Would the face staring back from the mirror be deformed, disfigured…dissolved? …would it even mine?
Indeed it was. Same enlarged pores. Same dark spots. Same dull countenance.
No radiance, no dewy glow. No youthful rejuvenation.
No point to this hideous exercise.
A horrific ordeal.
In theory, this is probably a great product. It’s a decadent, heavy cream that you slather on in the shower and then rinse off and then voila! You are no longer a dry, scaly winter lizard. The smell, however, MY GOD THE SMELL. I knew it wasn’t going to work for me because it was just so sweet and fruity and awful and cloying, but when my partner pointed out that I smell like Jolly Ranchers – those disgusting candies that were enormously popular during my sixth grade year – I literally gagged. I still have 99% of a jar of this stuff sitting on the counter and it’s quite a waste because it’s definitely not cheap. Let me know if you want it. I haven’t got cooties.
Are there any products or items that you had pinned your hopes on, spend your monies on, and then let you down horribly? Almost killed you? Forewarned is forearmed – leave a comment and tell me all about it so I can learn from your mistakes as you have learned from mine.
Remember the little concessions jingle in Regal theatres that they used to play before the trailers? People dressed up as concessions snacks, they are giving themselves pep talks about how they do their gig with style and panache, and one of them is refusing to go on because he played Hamlet, dammit! And then they sing:
“Don’t talk in the movie,
no cell phones in the show,
and smoking is a no, no, no!
And remember to throw your trash awaaaaaay!”
It’s got a whole story arc, and everything.
Anyway, there’s this guy peeking into the dressing room as you can see in this blurry terrible video and he shouts “5 MINUTES!” and…I used to lose sleep wondering whatever happened to that guy. Was that the end of his career? Or just the beginning? Now, after binge watching four seasons of the Gilmore Girls, I am pretty sure I have my answer.
The 5 MINUTES guys is “Joe” in the Gilmore Girls.
Here he is, older and with more facial hair, standing awkwardly behind Kirk. IMDB says that Joe is played by a Brian Berke who looks to have had an abysmal career (his only other notable role is Ron Jeremy?) and no mention of concessions jingles in movie trailers but I don’t even know if they’d list that.
What’s frustrating is that I know I did not go to the movies alone, there were other people with me and we all saw the same dumb crap before the movie started…and yet no one remembers this! How can this be. I am still losing sleep over it.
Thing two is frustrating for a different reason. My sister and I have a similar memory of a thing but we have no idea how to even begin looking for it because it’s just a small snippet, a foggy filament of a thing.
On Saturday mornings we’d be out of bed very early for Saturday morning cartoons. Probably from about 7:30 to 10:30 or 11:00, if memory serves correct. Toward late morning though, I feel like the programming would start to change to things geared for older kids? Some of them had an “after school special” type feel, and not really episode by episode stuff, more like one-off things. One of them, the one we are thinking of was a bit of a ghost story (I think). I get the feeling we never finished watching it, even though it may have been shown a few times over the years.
Basically a girl moves into a new (old) house. She may have a brother. Weird things start happening around the house. The one thing that both my sister and I can agree on is that one point as the girl (and maybe her brother) watch, a baseball starts rolling up the steps. Or maybe rolling down. Now I am getting confused thinking about it. So there’s a ball and there’s stairs and it’s really creepy because there was no reason for the ball to be there and no one was anywhere near it to give it a push.
That’s it, that is all we remember. And that is sort of a thing that is impossible to research, isn’t it? I would love to know what it was we were watching but how do you even begin to look into something like that?
In thinking about that show, I almost feel it had an eerie Nickelodeon “Third Eye” vibe to it, except I am almost certain that it was on a channel like ABC. Sigh. Maybe we will never know. Whoa Whoa Whoa. Even as I am typing this, I am remembering something. ABC Weekend Special? Maybe? Yes? It’s gonna take me forever to go through all of these, but I am nothing if not excellent at avoiding real work and immersing myself in weird projects, so let’s do it.
EDIT: HOLY CRAP I FOUND IT. The Haunted Mansion Mystery. Has anyone else seen it?
Is there anything you remember from your childhood that plagues you because you don’t recall the exact details and it feels like a strange dream or someone else’s hallucination? Were you ever able to track it and pin it down for examination, like so many butterflies under glass? I would love to hear about it and how it’s haunted you over the years!