Great Bone Structure

I may have mentioned that my dream house would look like a Victorian study/wunderkammer. I’m already partway there, with my specimens and pictures of bugs and bats and my curios from around the world, but someday I will have more. Oh yes, I will have more.

Specifically, I would love a collection of animal skulls. Animals look like fantastical monsters without their skin, and I find them fascinating. But I currently have nowhere to put a collection of skulls, so for now I make do with one tiny muskrat skull. Someday, though, I would love to have a proper home library with beautiful dark wood book shelves and a few choice specimens on display.

They’d have to be mostly replicas–I’m not about to hunt a giraffe or net a sea turtle or harpoon an Indus River dolphin–there are just so many problems there, both ethical and practical. Replicas would do just fine. And while we’re talking replicas, I might like a replica child’s skull complete with all those teeth waiting to grow in. It’s funny, I really enjoy looking at skulls and imagining where the muscles attach and why they’re shaped the way they are, but looking at all those extra teeth hiding inside a kid’s skull freaks me out a bit.


World Goth Day: Half-assing it Again

theaterIt’s World Goth Day again and I didn’t even wear makeup. My son’s class was doing a “living wax museum” project and I had to rush off and listen to 25 kids talk about famous inventors. Then I rushed off to my local theater to see Deadpool 2. It was great, and I loved Domino. It wasn’t as tight as the first movie but it was a lot of fun.

You may notice my hair is no longer fire engine red. It’s too hard to keep up over the summer, with sun and swimming pools and kids home all the time. It’s easier to just throw on some permanent black dye and let the roots grow for a few months. This time I used Feria “violet soft black,” which pretty much looks black on camera but in real life has a nice violet tint to it.

I noticed Septicemia made a list of goth cliches she embraces. That seems like a good way to celebrate World Goth Day so here are a few of my own cliches:

The Nightmare Before Christmas: I’m not much of a cutesy goth but I love this movie. It’s adorable and easy to share with my kids.

My style icons were (and sort of still are) Fairuza Balk (Nancy from The Craft) and Winona Ryder (from pretty much everything in the ’80s and ’90s, but Heathers was actually my favorite).

Death: yes, I read a lot about death and have fairly fleshed out plans for my own funeral. I find cemeteries peaceful and interesting.

The occult: I’ve read quite extensively about Satanism, paganism, and other occult ideas like chaos magic and demon summoning. I don’t exactly believe in hexes and curses, but I’m fascinated by all of it. I have also considered becoming an official Satanist for political reasons but decided against it, opting for a sort of minimalist paganism instead.

Halloween: it’s my favorite holiday. I love the costumes, the decorations, dressing like a witch and handing out candy, watching Halloween movies. Last year I showed my kids Hocus Pocus for the first time and they loved it.

I wouldn’t mind being a vampire. Though I’d prefer to be the kind that can eat food even though they aren’t nourished by it. Food is delicious.

I watch and read a ton of horror and supernatural stuff. Buffy, Supernatural, Edgar Allan Poe, the Interview with a Vampire series, Frankenstein, Being Human (UK version–loved every second), Reaper, Dracula, anything with John Constantine or Lucifer in it . . . I could go on forever, but I probably shouldn’t.

I love the nighttime. I force myself to act like a morning person for practical reasons (kids), but I much prefer the night. My favorite thing about winter is the longer nights.

And here are a few goth stereotypes I don’t fit at all:

I don’t wear all black. I also wear red, purple, and gray. And every once in a while I wear dark green.

I don’t wear a lot of makeup. I really admire other people’s makeup and always make plans to do my own more, and then I get lazy.

I don’t mind summer. I usually wear sunscreen and sunglasses and I certainly don’t lay around baking in the sun like a pancake, but I like doing summery things like swimming and hiking and grilling dinner in the backyard.

I rarely argue about what’s goth or not, or who’s goth enough. I suppose I have some limits–if you hate horror and can’t stand goth music and don’t like black clothing and are scared by my interest in death and the occult then you’re probably not goth enough for me–but I’m all for being relaxed and inclusive.

What about you? What cliches do you love to live? Which ones aren’t you at all? I’d love to hear about them.

goth cats.jpg






Southern Gothic

hap and leonardSummer is coming I’m in that Southern Gothic mood again. This year I got in the mood early, before the weather caught up with me. Back at the end of February I ran across Hap and Leonard on Netflix and could not stop watching. I loved every strange, sad minute of it. Netflix only had the first two seasons, but it looks like I can watch the third on the Sundance website. They’re based on Joe R. Lansdale’s books. I’ve never read any of his Hap and Leonard series, but I’ve read a bit of his straight-ahead horror and I recommend him if you don’t mind gore and torture.

I’ve also been watching True Blood free on Amazon Prime. I find Sookie Stackhouse herself (the TV version) kind of annoying and immature, but I enjoy most everything else about the series.

roller millsSadly, my town looks nothing like these shows. My town looks like, well, have you seen the original Footloose? That was filmed around here. Not that romantic. We don’t have sultry evenings filled with ancestral ghosts* and sexy vampires around here, so I’m stuck watching them TV.

Maybe I’ll pull out my billowy nightdress so I can sit on my patio in it, sip a mint julep and pretend I’m in Louisiana. Or maybe I’ll spring for a new one. Gotta have something to cool down these hot nights ahead. A light dress and a good chill up my spine oughta help.

I have this in black.**


*Okay, we probably do have ancestral ghosts around here, but they’d mostly show up to complain about your skirt length and make sure you dance at least 12 inches apart from each other. 

**I swear it was cheaper this when I bought it, though. 

Spring Cross Stitch and OOTD

Winter hung on longer than usual. We had snow flurries right up to the end of April so I got to stay in sweaters for a few extra weeks. It’s finally getting warm (almost hot) though, the birds are chirping and the grass is high, and I’m scrounging for summer options. I mostly cope by using thinner fabrics and more cotton and lace, and once in a while I find a sleeveless shirt or dress that becomes my best friend until I wear it out. This dress from eShakti might be my best friend this summer.


Spring also put me in the mood for moths and butterflies, so I’m combining parts of two patterns to make a cross stitch. My eyes are bad, so working on black fabric is a pain, but I love the way it looks so far. I’m planning to have smaller moths stitched around, with this one as the focal point.

moth 1

Lost Souls Shawl

Way back in January I said I was making the Lost Souls shawl, and then I never mentioned it again. I actually finished it weeks ago and was all set to show you, but Dad died and life got crazy and I’m just now getting around to writing the post.

skull shawl 2The pattern was actually pretty easy for someone of my middling skill, and it’s such a lacy pattern it worked up quickly. Around the time I finished, I bought a cheap IKEA chair for my living room, and I decided the shawl should live on the chair. It spices up the dull light gray, and it’s easy to drape over my shoulders if I get cold while reading or watching TV.

I must have made the shawl a bit small, because I had yarn left over. I used it to make arm warmers for my girls. (My boy also got arm warmers, but I ran out of the shawl yarn and he opted for red cotton from my stash.)

If you’re wanting a pattern for the arm warmers, you’re out of luck because I didn’t use (or write) one. I basically made single crochet rectangles big enough to wrap around the kids’ arms, then stitched them into tubes with single crochet. The top and bottom ruffles are half-double crochet if I remember right, and the edging on the thumb holes is slip stitches. If you’re good enough with a hook to understand that description, you’re good enough to make way fancier arm warmers than these.

Oh, and speaking of the chair, it’s bland and boring and I’m looking for more ways to spice it up. I’m considering some sort of stencil or even freehand Sharpie art. What do you think? Any experience or suggestions?

R.I.P. Polyvore

So . . . Polyvore disappeared pretty much overnight. I might be the last to know, since I only used the site once in a while, but I thought I’d pass the info along just in case. Looks like you can download your moodboards and such until May 15th. It also looks like FashMates is trying to carry on with the fashion side of Polyvore, at least. They’ll also help you import your Polyvore sets, but I’ve not yet personally used their site so I don’t know how it compares.

If you used Polyvore’s widget code to show sets on your blog, those links all now lead to a cheesy-looking online storefront. I have a couple posts that do this now, and I’m working on fixing the problem, either by downloading my original sets or replacing them with different pictures. I can’t imagine the heartbreak and hassle for serious Polyvore users, and the whole situation seems pretty awful.

Back in Black

Hey everyone. Thanks for the sympathy and thoughts. Sorry I didn’t get back to anyone, it’s been a pretty intense month.

To be brutally honest, my mom was supposed to die first. She’s always been the sick one, both physically and mentally, and it’s what she always wanted. Financially, practically, emotionally, everything would have been simpler and smoother if mom had gone first. But life seldom goes the way we want it, so the sadness of Dad’s sudden death came with a hefty side order of financial trouble and uncomfortable questions about Mom’s delicate mental health.

All of that, along with two road trips to Tucson (about 12 hours drive time each way from our town) in the last month, has taken all my time and energy. But things are reaching a stable place at last. At least, as stable as things with my mom have ever been. And I’m finally feeling up to chatting with friends, blogging, having the occasional bit of fun. It feels good.

So, obviously everything has been sad and horrible, but my dad’s funeral was about as lovely as these things get. It was as close to what Dad would have wanted as we could do on short notice–simple, in line with his religion, and fairly ecologically friendly. He’s buried in Tucson’s Binghampton Cemetery, a small and informal desert cemetery where everyone decorates the graves with personal touches–benches, statuary, all sorts of rock and glass and the occasional cactus. Plus, it turns out the first person buried in the cemetery was John Harris, an ancestor of my mother’s. Dad would have been tickled by the natural setting and the personal connection to history.

I didn’t bring the kids to the actual funeral, but I brought them on the second trip, and they added glass beads and some personal offerings to help decorate the plot. It was a nice moment of closure.

Bugs Under Glass

I have a bad case of Olympic Fever so I haven’t had much to post about, but in my odd non-Olympic moments I’ve been mooning over pictures of Victorian style libraries and British Raj style decor. I’ve been nostalgic for India, and one of these days I’ll do a dream post full of black saris and salwar kameezes.

My dream home would mostly look like one big Victorian library/British explorer’s study. Our current house probably isn’t the one we’ll grow old (well, older) in, so we’re holding off on expensive furniture or renovations until our kids grow up and we eventually we decide we’re too lazy to ever move again move into our dream home.

But we indulge in smaller, more portable things like art and bedding. Over the years we’ve found that we both like natural specimens like rock crystals, taxidermy birds and preserved plants and insects. We own a beautiful grasshopper and a robo-beetle (rhinoceros beetle with watchworks attached) that I might have shown you before, and I couldn’t resist adding this amazing pair of cicadas from Bugs Under Glass. They aren’t the exact cicadas that whirred away every summer when I was a kid, but they’re close enough (and a lot prettier). I can’t wait until it arrives.

I especially like that preserved bugs are so sustainable. They’re generally raised on “insect farms” in and around the creatures’ regular habitat and harvested at the end of their naturally short lives. The farms provide locals with an income that preserves rain forest habitats instead of destroying them, so bonus eco-points there.

Someday I might spring for a beautiful black “mormon butterfly” specimen, or a specialty “skeleton butterfly” with the scales removed from one wing to expose the delicate structures underneath. Nature is so amazing, don’t you think?

Chainsaw Art

It isn’t very goth, I suppose, but I spent part of my weekend binge watching Carver Kings on Netflix. It’s technically reality TV, so there’s a feeble attempt at drama, but mostly Carver Kings is about watching people make huge chainsaw scupltures. And that’s a pretty cool thing to watch. One year we even saw real live chainsaw carving at the state fair. I love seeing people create things, especially when they have a lot of skill.

octopus carving.jpeg
Jeffrey Michael Samudosky


Sometimes they carve amazingly cool stuff, but most of what they make is kind of western American folk  art–lots of snarling bears and screaming eagles and mysterious wolves, assorted other woodland creatures and occasional “wood spirit,” and maybe a dragon for the really adventurous types. It’s all over the place out here in the mountain west. You can’t buy a fishing pole or visit a canyon without wading through a gift shop full of this kind of art, and I get kind of jaded about it.

So jaded, in fact, that I forget just how much Mr. Robot likes this stuff. He likes screaming eagles and mysterious wolves, and we have exactly zero of these things in our home. We have a mountain scene with a yeti in it and a picture of sharks eating boats, but that’s not really the same, apparently. So the kids and I decided to look for an affordable chainsaw sculpture for Mr. Robot’s birthday in April. Maybe a curious little owl. He likes owls.

by James Haggart, found on eBay.

Dragon bench is by Igor Loskutow. Dementor/wraith is by Denius Parson. I couldn’t find a credit for the ground sloth monster.