Darkness of Light Tarot

I really enjoy tarot. Every deck has the same cards, the same basic set of symbols, but each artist brings something new to it. I can spend hours looking through different decks, and every once in a while I spend a stupid amount of money on one that really speaks to me. The Darkness of Light deck does just that.

darkness tarot

Some decks like to pack a lot of info onto each card–astrology signs, correspondences, all sorts of symbolic colors–but I like the more minimal, emotional approach this deck takes. Nothing gets in the way of the beautiful art and the emotions it evokes, and I love that it doesn’t shy away from the dark and the dreary.

Tarot is used to tell fortunes, after all, and some decks focus on bright and happy art as if that will ensure a good fortune. I actually own a lighter, happier deck or two and this one balances things out by looking into the shadows.

darkness tarot 2

The cards are a good weight with a nice feel so I’ll enjoy using them, but I’m half tempted to hang some as art.

 

Book: Working Stiff

working stiffI just finished Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell. Melinek is the Medical Examiner, Mitchell is her husband who knows how to write. 🙂 I loved the book, but parts were hard to read. You can imagine a medical examiner’s job is hard sometimes, and Melinek doesn’t hold much back. This book is great, but not for everyone.

I’m up for almost any true story and most fictional ones, no matter how sad or weird or gruesome. Believe it or not, it’s not a morbid streak. It’s more that I think all stories should be told, even the dark and sad ones. Every true story should have witnesses, and we can listen and learn from everything. Many people, even darkly inclined people, shy away from stuff like this, and I’ve always had a weird compulsion to make up for that by looking even more at the dark and the sad and the weird and trying harder to learn something from it, to understand the world better and be a better person because of it.

Which is how I end up reading about autopsies. In vivid detail. Not everyone wants to read about this stuff, so I won’t go into specifics, but if you’re good with bodies and decay and hearing about traumatic death this is a fascinating book. Melinek shares her forensic expertise without losing (in my opinion) her compassion for the dead and for the living they leave behind. She’s honest about her personal feelings and about sometimes being jaded or tired or judgmental, as well as having a real respect for the forensic process and the people she deals with at one of the worst times in their lives.

This book didn’t really give me deep thoughts about life and death. Instead it made me think of all the people who deal with death every day so that you and I don’t have to, and how important and thankless that work can be.

Most of the book, and most of Melinek’s job, was ordinary death. Illness, medical complications, accidents, suicide, drug overdose. There are so many ways to die, and each body tells a story if you know how to read it. These stories were sometimes gross (decomposition doesn’t sound pretty), once or twice funny, and always full of interesting medical facts. For most of the book I was able to put myself in the doctor’s shoes and read about strap muscles and vital reaction with a scientist’s detached interest. There were moments, though, when the sad stories behind those clinical details were hard to read, just as they seemed hard for the doctor to put aside as she did her work.

The hardest parts to read were near the end. A couple of the murders she described really tugged at my heartstrings, but Melinek’s description of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and her office’s exhausting efforts to identify remains and give families some certainty about their loved ones had me bawling. I was states away during the attacks and didn’t know anyone personally involved, and though I followed the news like everyone else it didn’t really cover the awful details people like Melinek had to process every day for weeks. It brought back memories while really bringing home sorrows I’d never even thought of. With more recent European terrorism and U.S. disasters in mind, it made for some tough reading and dark thoughts.

Like I said, this kind of reading is not for everyone. That kind of job is not for everyone. But I’m glad there are people who can do it, speaking for the dead and doing what they can to help the living cope with death. I hope this book inspires a few others to continue the work, and I hope understanding the detailed human cost of violence, all the pain it causes for everyone involved, helps push humanity toward more peace and compassion.

 

Cross Stitch Witches

I cross stitch! I’m a cross stitcher!

I grew up in a pretty crafty culture so I’m sure I cross stitched some small thing as a kid, but this is my first real project. My younger sister stitches geeky little sayings and she inspired me to try my hand. It’s not perfect–I’m a row off in a couple of places and had to improvise–but it turned out pretty well for a first try.  Even the back looks, well, not great but not totally terrible either. I consider it a win. I’m thinking of giving it to my parents for Christmas. Just so they know some of that crafting rubbed off on me after all. My mom loves anything holiday themed–any holiday–so she’d totally keep this and have my dad show it off every Halloween.

My next project will be a bit harder but I can’t wait to get started. I got a pattern for an Evil Dead sampler that I can’t wait to get started on. I used to have the original Evil Dead trilogy way back when VHS tapes were still a thing and I haven’t watched them since the world went all digital, so I plan on watching them while I stitch.

 

 

I basically googled gothy and geeky cross stitch until I found something perfect, and it happened to be sold through Etsy, by Pyro Dog Pins. I know there are a lot of free patterns, but now that I’m older and slightly less poor I try to support people’s creativity by paying for what I can. If this pattern goes well I’m seriously considering trying either the Bates Motel or the Big Lebowski patterns some time.

Lucky for me, Mr. Robot doesn’t consider adorable shotguns and chainsaws too creepy, so when I’m finished we’ll probably hang Dead By Dawn in our newly repainted bathroom. Yay!

Should I Get Press On Nails?

I’ve never really worn fake nails. I’m a cheapskate, I work with my hands a lot, and my real nails grow pretty well already. But Dippy Cow fake nails have me reconsidering. This post is zero percent sponsored and I haven’t actually tried the nails, so this is not an endorsement. They’re just really tempting.

All the pictures are from the Dippy Cow Etsy shop–definitely visit to see the awesome. She makes all sorts, including pastels and glow-in-the-dark. The witchy black-and-nude ones change color with temperature.

They ship from the UK, so if I want some in time for Halloween I’d better get to ordering pretty soon, but I just can’t decide between my convenient natural fingernails or amazing pointy fake fingernails. What do you think? Should I take the chance?

Goth without the Music? Whatever

I don’t write much about labels or who qualifies as goth. Out of more than 60 posts so far, I’ve written maybe two on the subject. I see my blog as a scrapbook or a cabinet of curiosities, so most of my posts are about what I find beautiful and interesting. I don’t worry too much whether those things are goth or merely ‘darkly inclined.’ I don’t worry whether I’m a ‘proper goth’ or merely a goth-adjacent horror geek, and I’m way too old to let other people tell me whether I’m goth enough. I’m happy enough lumping it all together and I’m mostly content to let others do the same.

the-cure-robert-smithThere’s this idea out there that being ‘goth’ is better than being ‘darkly inclined.’ As if anyone can be darkly inclined, but being truly goth is more exclusive than that. It’s ironic, because I find the ‘darkly inclined’ to be more flexible in their interests and curious about new things than the people who worry about who’s goth or not.

That said, I think it’s weird when people who like no goth music at all want to call themselves goth. A large number of goths still like goth and darkwave and such, and still use the label to find others who like the same music, being ‘goth without the music’ gets in the way of that. You can still type ‘goth’ into instagram for fashion purposes without actually calling yourself a goth, so why not leave the label for the music lovers?*

unknown pleasuresOr better yet, give the music a chance. Be curious about new things and flexible in your interests. Back in the day you either had to know an obsessive fan or shell out money for actual cassettes or CDs, but today it costs no money and just a few minutes to try out all sorts of goth music. If you can’t be bothered to do that, you’re boring and I’d rather not know you.

To be fair, I’m equally bored by ‘gother than thou’ types who peaked in the late ’80s or ’90s (or last year, or whenever) and haven’t tried anything new since. As if trying new things will ruin their eldergoth reputation or something. It doesn’t hurt to be curious about new things and flexible in your interests. You might find a new twist on an old favorite. sisters of mercy

It’s all been said before and will all be said again, and this is why I don’t write about it. I mostly mention it now to encourage everyone to just be curious and try new things. (Did you get that theme? 😉 ) Precious few of us are interested in dark things already. I just want us all to feel free to express ourselves and find each other. Don’t just be goth, or just darkly inclined. Be interesting.

*Gothic Soul Flower had some great things to say about this on YouTube. I agree that the music makes more space for people who don’t look like Instagram perfect goth stereotypes. 

Reading about Death: Two Books

First Book: Smoke Gets in your Eyes, by Caitlin Doughty

I liked Ask a Mortician so much I read Caitlin’s book. It’s an easy read as long as you’re not too squeamish about dead bodies. If you are squeamish about dead bodies it’s a harder read, but still worth it. It’s not just a sensational memoir. There are a lot of ‘work stories’ about cremation and embalming, interspersed with historical and philosophical thoughts about death and our relationship to it.

Her basic point is that Americans (and probably many other Western nations) have hidden away and sanitized the death process too much and have sort of lost our way because of it. She wants people to be prepared for death and thoughtful about it instead of terrified or in denial, and I think the detailed stories of body pick-ups, cremations, and enbalmings work for that purpose. Some people could see them as sensational or disrespectful, but I saw them as demystifying death and dead bodies. I appreciated the honesty.

I enjoyed the historical stories and appreciate her philosophy on “the good death,” one planned for and done with dignity. I didn’t agree with her on every detail, but I came away from the book with a lot to think about and a hope that Caitlin’s work will get more people to think about death in a new light.

Second Book: Dead Mountain: the Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident, by Donnie Eichar

I’ve always been interested in creepy historical stuff–unsolved mysteries, unexplained events, legends of ghosts and monsters–so I’d read about Dyatlov Pass before. to put it super briefly, in 1959 a group of hikers/mountaineers attempted a difficult winter trip and died. It was obvious from the start that they left their tent without proper clothing and died of exposure, but no one could figure out why they left their tent without proper clothing. It’s all very mysterious.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Donnie jumps back and forth between the hikers’ journey, the investigation of their deaths, and his own trips to Russia to see the mountain pass for himself and meet people involved in the case. The suspense builds nicely and I got both a good sense of the Dyatlov group and a taste of Soviet society at the time. There’s a lot of detail about the Incident and its aftermath and a solid discussion of various theories put forth over the years, but the whole book still feels like an interesting story about people instead of a catalog of facts. It’s very well done.

I’m being purposely vague about the details because I don’t want to ruin the fun of the book, but Donnie ends with the most satisfying theory I’ve yet heard about the Incident. It’s unproven but testable, and I hope someone gets the money and time to do it one day.

Craft Along with GIY: Utensil Holders

I’ve been following Bane’s Craft Alongs over at Goth It Yourself but this is the first one I’ve done myself. August’s theme is Food and Beverage, which lines up nicely with a project I’d been meaning to figure out anyway.

I hope I’m linking it up right:

 

giy.jpg
Visit GIY to join the fun

For long and boring reasons I keep my utensils in holders instead of a drawer, and I’ve been thinking about new ones for a while. All my available options seemed boring and sad, so I cooked up an idea of my own.

Supplies: three cheap bamboo utensil containers, fine grit sandpaper, burgundy craft paint, several pieces of pretty scrapbooking paper, Mod Podge, a paint brush and an X-acto knife. Plus a couple paper towels, a plastic garbage bag to protect my table and an old magazine (used as a pad for my X-acto knifework).

Process:

I sanded the containers lightly and wiped them clean with a damp paper towel, then used one side as a template to cut my paper to size. Then I painted the insides with two coats of the burgundy craft paint.

I let that dry thoroughly while I watched Crimson Peak–so good!*–and then I Mod Podged the insides of each container for a little extra durability. Then I used Mod Podge to carefully stick the paper on the outsides of the containers and coated the whole outside of each with a thin layer of Mod Podge. I should have maybe pressed the paper on longer first, because I got a bit of crinkling at this stage. I suck at decoupage.

After a long break for dinner and family time I coated the containers inside and out with one more layer of Mod Podge inside and out and let them dry thoroughly overnight. I definitely need more DIY practice but this was easy and fun and I’m pretty happy with my new silverware holders.

*Don’t worry, I wasn’t watching Crimson Peak with kids around. They were on an epic park/duck pond trip with Mr. Robot.

Here are some close-ups of the paper. As usual I was torn between goth for me and non-goth for Mr. Robot and somehow landed at vaguely vintage:

 

OOTD: Quoth the Raven

IMG_3741Fall doesn’t really arrive here until October, but I’m already dreaming about it. As a kid I was so into summer, but it was probably the break from school I really loved. These days I’m more about fall. Cooler weather, falling leaves, Halloween, what’s not to love? I’m already dreaming about it, and dreaming kind of led to a new tunic/dress with flowy half-sleeves. I’m starting to really enjoy the unicorn hair (though my ends are a little fried) and I’m trying to figure out the right makeup for it. I’m going for the red-eyed consumptive look with the pale hair. It’s better in real life–the photos create an airbrush effect that washes it out–but it needs work. If I perfect it I’ll work on some better pictures.

raven foot

. I never know what to do with my face in photos. My natural expression looks mad or hard to most people, and I’m not good at projecting emotions with my face. I’m usually aiming for romantic or brooding and end up still looking vaguely angry. Which is funny because I’m usually pretty happy. The makeup photos are my best attempt at a nice smile.

What I’m wearing:

Dress: Bruno and Betty on Etsy

Shorts: Lineagewear leggings

Belt: eBay

Raven’s foot earrings: eBay

Necklace: Tangents and Tentacles, local craft fair, also on Etsy

Rosebud Book Bag

bud bag 1I actually finished a project! I’m so proud of me! Just in time, too, because I have two other projects waiting to get started.

I’ve been obsessed with interlocking crochet for maybe a year and a half, when I took a chance and bought a book on it. Probably the book on it, considering the title. The book is worth it if you like this style at all. It has pretty clear instructions for getting started and some nice project patterns in the back, but what I like best is picking a stitch pattern I like and then inventing something to do with it. Which is how I semi-invented the Rosebud Book Bag.

If you’re not familiar with interlocking crochet, you’re basically making two blocks of filet crochet (little open boxes) at the same time, one behind the other, and weaving them into a pattern row by row as you go. It makes a thick, reversible double layer that looks fancy as hell even though it’s pretty simple.

ic book
this is the book

I don’t have a specific pattern, but I can run through the basic process. I used Sweet Georgia superwash worsted wool (in cherry and peashoot, I think?) and a D hook.

  1. Make a nice, big rectangle of your favorite interlocking pattern. I eyeballed mine against a large-ish paperback novel. With this yarn and hook, mine was 26 boxes across and about 46 rows high.
  2. For the handle I made one long row of red filet boxes and threaded a nice, tight chain of the green through it. I made it long enough to run down the body of the bag, creating skinny little sides for it.
  3. I used slip stitch crochet to join strap and bag. I just like the structured effect it produces. I counted about 18 squares up the strap and started attaching from there, stitching those 18 squares to the front side of the bag. when I reached the strap end, I made three stitches across that, being sure to stitch through that green chain as well, then stitched up the other side until I reached that 18th square. At that point my skinny bag side was done.

    bud bag side
    Sorry I didn’t take process photos. Next time.
  4. Instead of cutting and doing the other side separately, I continued my slip stitches around just the top of my interlocking rectangle (how the top flap of the bag. This created a nice, continuous slip stitch line while also joining the red and green interlocking layers neatly.
  5. Once I got across to the other side, I carefully counted the joining stitches from step 3 to make sure I started joining at the same place on the second side. Making sure not to twist the strap in the process, I counted 18 squares from the free end and started joining.
  6. Once that was all joined up I continued the slip stitches across the front edge of the bag (joining the red and green layers again), ending in the corner where I started.
bud bag reverse
reverse pattern
bud bag 2
rosebud vines

Bone Records

Someday, when I have more money to spend, I would love to collect Roentgenizden, or bone records.

For quite a while after World War II, the Soviet Union had a black market record trade. A whole host of songs and musicians, even homegrown Soviet songs and musicians, were banned for various reasons, so people had to pass the music among themselves. Record players could be put together at home, but vinyl for pressing records was much harder to come by, so creative music lovers used x-ray plates instead. They called them bone records, or ribs, or Roentgenizden (after Wilhelm Roentgen, who discovered x-rays), and they’re beautiful. I love the haunting images x-rays produce, and I love the history and the dedication to music behind bone records.

Unfortunately, after all this time they’re also a bit rare and expensive. You can find them on eBay but they’ll cost you quite a bit. I doubt they’ll get any cheaper, since there’s now a book (available used) on bone records and a documentary going around the international film festivals as we speak.

 

I just got the book in the mail but I haven’t sat down to read it yet. It’s part coffee table book and part history of bone records. I’m excited to get into it.

How about all of you? Is there something you’d love to collect that you just can’t afford? Would you buy a bone record if you could? I have an x-ray of my kid’s broken arm but I think she’d be mad if I turned it into art. It’s not her fondest memory.