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.

nightdress
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?

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?

Bionic

If I ever lost a limb, I’d want a super cool prosthetic from the Alternative Limb Project. Maybe a super cool tentacle or a robot-looking one that lights up. But I’d settle for basic black, I suppose. Or Vanta Black, that would be awesome.

You may or may not have seen Viktoria Modesta rocking prosthetics made by the Project. I’ve never cared much for her music, but I love her aesthetic and the way she uses prosthetic legs to achieve that bionic look. It’s got a cyborg/dystopia/healthgoth vibe that I love. And I like that she rocks the look and makes a powerful statement that this missing leg is important, yes, but only one of many important things about her.

She’s not the only one, I’ve noticed. Among others things, I love the books Michael Stokes has created featuring U.S. soldiers with various injuries and amputations. (Invictus and Always Loyal. I got them through his kickstarter campaigns.) Most such books focus on the human tragedy of war, because of course they do. That’s an important thing to focus on. But Stokes treats his injured models the same way he treats all the other well-muscled good looking guys he photographs. The soldiers’ stories tell us plenty about the human tragedy, and the photos tell a hopeful story of moving forward and making those scars and injuries just one part of a full and purposeful life.

Okay, I don’t want to totally nerd out about the social and emotional ramifications of normalizing disabilities and promoting body diversity, and I don’t want to bore you by geeking out about advances in prosthetic technology (3D printers can make limbs, y’all!), so I’ll just let this be for now.

Here. Enjoy some weird ambient music from Karmelloz instead.

5 Random Things for January

Hey everybody! I still exist! Before all the holidays, Septicemia was nice enough to nominate me for that Liebster award thing and I was all set to work on it when the holiday rush began and tore me away from the computer. The kids started winter break, Mr. Robot got seriously ill, and while I was focused on all that I kinda lost track of the blogging. Now that kids are back in school and Mr. Robot is feeling better, I finally have time to check in. So hi! I hope everyone’s having a spooky January so far. Here are 5 random things I’ve been doing and dreaming about amid all the chaos:

  1. I got a cool new tank top from Disney’s online store. My mom’s always been obsessed with Disney and I inherited a tiny bit of that obsession. Over the years I’ve really fallen in love with the Haunted Mansion ride, and I couldn’t resist this tank based on one of the ride’s paintings.
  2. While driving around one night looking at Christmas lights, we discovered that one of our local cemeteries was full of tiny lighted trees and nativity sets on and around the graves. Nothing really huge or gaudy, just little personal touches for the season. I’ve never seen them do this before, but I hope it becomes a tradition. The whole thing was very peaceful and sweet. Our pictures are terrible because we were too busy enjoying it, but hopefully you get some idea of how lovely this graveyard full of twinkling little lights was.
  3. After taking a break from crochet for a while, I’ve finally ordered yarn to make the Lost Souls skull shawl. It’s been on my mind for ages, ever since Black Kitty pointed me to the Ravelry pattern. I do love a pop of color with my black, so I’m going to make it in Berroco Vintage Black Currant.
  4. I’ve been mooning over the bed sets on the Ink & Rags site. I decided to spend my money on yarn this month, for the shawl and another project, but someday I’m going to get one of these beautiful duvet covers. I just can’t decide which one, they’re all so cool. These are my top three contenders so far (pictures from their site):
  5. Over the break, I took the kids up to Salt Lake City to visit relatives, and we had a rare foggy evening. The western U.S. is pretty short on spooky castles, but we do have a great big Mormon temple smack in the middle of town. It’s spires looked mysterious and castle-like in the fog, so I snapped a couple of quick pics while I waited to cross the street.

There you go. That’s what I’ve been doing on my break from blogging. I’ll try not to be such a stranger. I hope all of you had time for some fun and are excited for the new year starting. I’d love to hear about your interesting plans and projects. What are you dreaming of doing, seeing and maybe buying this year?

Viking Skulls and Christmas Lights

Sometimes I put off blogging because I’ve been doing stuff, but I can’t think of a cute or interesting way to sum up that stuff. But I also don’t like just disappearing, so maybe I should just worry less about summing things up and just be okay with random sharing.

Last weekend the kids wanted to see the Christmas lights at the outdoor shopping center near us, so we bought them dinner and hot chocolate and wandered around looking at lights. I got a nice picture of the hazy full moon rising above it all.

moon lights

We bought a couple of puzzles and I saw, of all things, a set of beautiful skull coasters at Williams Sonoma (if you’re not familiar they mostly sell super fancy kitchenware) on sale. My youngest offered to get them for me (with my money, of course) for Christmas and had the cashier wrap them up in a fancy box. We’re both very excited about the whole thing. coasters

Then on Sunday we went to a local museum–they have a wonderful exhibit of Viking artifacts that will be gone in a few weeks. They had all sorts of Viking housewares and talismans and burial tokens, and even a few actual bones. I got a picture of one of the skulls, but sadly had to move on before I could get a snap of the one with the trepanning hole in it. Trepanning and similar historic surgery have always fascinated me. It’s both incredibly clever and kind of gruesome.

Viking

Then, last but not least, I treated myself to a new Christmas sweater. It just came in the mail yesterday and I’m quite pleased. It’s Helly Bunny and I think they had them last year as well, but back then I needed the spiderweb cardigan more. The wool blend is a tad scratchy on my dry skin, but I think that’s more me than the sweater. 🙂 hell bunny christmas

So that’s what I’ve been up to, and I hope all of you have been up to something even better. Are you treating yourself to anything special in this dark and depressing winter season?

 

Random Stuff, Part 1

Sorry for the lapse in posting. Stress and holidays will do that. I’ve been cleaning house and resetting our routines now that Thanksgiving is done, and now I’m listening to Bauhaus and catching up with all of you. Here, in list form, is what I’m into right now:

  1. Dirk Gently season 2: at first I didn’t know what to think about this new season but now I’m eagerly awaiting the finale. It’s less bloody than the first season and much more whimsical and weird, and I love it at least as much as season 1.
  2. Stan Against Evil: this one is also in its second season but I didn’t get around to watching season 1 until a couple weeks ago. Where has this show been all my life?! It’s the greatest combination of horror, comedy, and relatable humanity since Shaun of the Dead.
  3. Ghosted: Ghosted is a new sitcom about ghosts and monsters. It features Craig Robinson and Ben from Parks and Recreation and it’s cute. The best thing about it is being able to watch it with my kids. They’re getting older, but still a bit young for truly hardcore horror, so this is a nice compromise.
  4. The Italian, by Ann Radcliffe: one of the original “gothic novels.” Radcliffe’s novels are quite long and I don’t have much time to read lately, so it’s taking me forever to get through this, but it’s quite nice so far. It’s atmospheric and mysterious and much more fast-paced than Mysteries of Udolpho.
  5. From Here to Eternity, by Caitlin Doughty: I’m not finished with this either but I’m really enjoying it. If you liked her first book you’ll love this one. If you found her first book a little to graphic in the details of death, you might still enjoy reading this one, which is much more focused on her experience of death rituals around the world. If you like her Ask a Mortician series you’ll love this book.

So that’s how I’ve been coping with life stress and family visits. Those of you that celebrate U.S. Thanksgiving, I hope yours was a good one. Those of you that don’t celebrate it, hopefully you had a peaceful weekend while I was entertaining kids and hosting in-laws.