Ancestors in October

Ages and ages ago I wrote about painting my bathroom, and way back then I said I was planning to put up old photos of my ancestors. Then life happened and pictures didn’t. I finally got them all printed and framed, but they’re still just propped up in a corner of the living room waiting for Mr. Robot to put them up. He’s very patient and precise with that stuff, so once he does it they’ll look great and be very secure, but he’s been busy and sick by turns and hasn’t gotten to it. IMG_3932

Aw, well. I never claimed to be great at DIY.

October is a great time for hanging a shrine to my ancestors anyway, what with Samhain and Day of the Dead coming up, and I’m sure they’ll be up by then. (If they are, they fit perfectly with Bane’s craft-along “black and white” theme, so I could participate without thinking up something new. Here’s hoping.)

My ancestors are a mix of Deep South farmers (small farmers, not fancy plantation owners) and actual pioneers (the kind with oxen and covered wagons). Mr. Robot’s mom’s side were also small farmers, but we don’t have any old pictures of them. The pictures we have are from his dad’s side, who came over from Norway around 100 years ago. From their pictures, they were pretty fancy. Lots of well-dressed Victorians with fancy hairstyles. His ancestors look like this:

Mine look like this:

Yeah. I’m proud of my ancestors. I come from religious fanatics and explorers and feuding Southern rednecks, and I think that’s pretty cool. But seriously, look at those classy, attractive Norwegians. When I started this project, I never thought the hardest part would be making those two families look like they belong together.

Instead of picking my family’s most formal photos, I picked his family’s most casual because really, I had to put up Aunt Dess and her pet goat. I never even met Aunt Dess, but she and her goat are my heroes. So cute!

Life in the Slow Lane

I’ve been taking time to relax, put my feet up, and work on my shawl. It’s working up really quickly and fits Bane’s “things with wings” theme, so I’m hoping to get it finished in time to post for the craft-along. The original pattern is sparkly butterflies, but in black they look more like moths. I’ll do my best to finish it up and get some nice pictures by month’s end.

To keep me company as I crochet, I’ve been watching Slow TV on Netflix. I worked my way through their “sheep to sweater” world record attempt and it was very pleasant to watch and crochet to, plus I learned a bit about Norway and its knitting history. I especially liked the bit about feminist “hen knitting,” which seems like such a grandmother to pussy hats and saucy cross stitching that are so big right now.

My kids have gotten into the Slow TV, too. They get way too into TV and YouTube sometimes, and this time instead of just taking their devices away I had them watch nature documentaries. That went really well, actually. The kids got really into them.

When I put on Slow TV, though, they got really annoyed. What was this boring crap?

By the end they’d all grabbed yarn from my stash and were crocheting chains like champs. Yes, they tried to knit but couldn’t get it, so they switched to crochet. I’m not prejudiced, I like them both. 😉 I’m just thrilled they want to do something quiet and useful for a change. Enough boring TV and they might even learn to turn those chains around and start a second row.

Room 1408

Hi, I’m still alive. First I was traveling, then I was hosting family, and now I’m finally getting back to my normal routine. My travels weren’t very spooky, but I did stay in a c1408movieursed hotel room for three nights.

Ever seen the movie 1408? I did, years ago. It’s based on a Stephen King story about a haunted hotel room. It was an okay movie, as I recall. Anyhow, my son and I went to Detroit for a tournament and stayed at the MGM Grand, in room 1408. Something about the number rang a bell, but I didn’t connect it until the morning we left. Now, I’m not saying I believe in curses, but a number of stange things did happen . . . our key refused to work, someone tried to break into our room at midnight (they were given room 1403, according to the desk, but their card clearly said 1408), they checked us out a day early and almost threw all our stuff away, and the staff was very unfriendly about most of this. It’s almost as if they knew the room was cursed and were trying to warn us off.

Or maybe they’re just bad at their jobs. Either way, I’m playing it safe and avoiding that hotel forever.

And now that I’ve either properly spooked you or made you sad about bad hotel service, I’ll give you a couple pictures of my and the same son visiting family in Baltimore. I look fat and sweaty and I didn’t even bother with makeup in that heat but my hair is a wonderful Nuclear Red, so that’s nice. Now that I’m back, I really need to redo my color and maybe bother to look nice once in a while, but all I’ve really done so far is clean house and start a new crochet project. I’ll try to be more interesting next time. Maybe.

 

Bat and Butterfly: Keeping House with Non-Goths

I’ve been revamping our bathroom. It’s slow going because I’m fitting it around a bunch of other obligations, but it’s happening. Piece by piece, our bathroom plan is taking shape.

Mr. Robot is not goth. He loves and accepts me enough that if I really really needed to paint our walls black and perch gargoyles everywhere he would support me, but he wouldn’t really enjoy it. We compromise–some things are lighter than I’d like, some things are darker than he’d like, and on some things (taxidermy and fantasy/horror landscapes) we agree.

mysterious marshAs for the bathroom, we’ve agreed for ages that it looked boring and a bit shabby, and a few months ago I discovered that fantasy shower curtains exist and my plan began to take shape. I was tempted by the graveyard scenes and spooky woodland scenes, but that was too much for Robot and the kids, so we settled on a green “mysterious marsh.”

Putting that up inspired us to finally replace our faucet (very old and starting to fall apart) and finally buy a proper soap dispenser and a few other odds and ends. Mr. Robot and I usually agree when it comes to vintage looks, so I’m aiming for a cross between Plantation style (bright colors and dark accents) and “old farmhouse” style. Lucky for us, oiled bronze and antique touches seem popular right now so stuff we both liked was easy to find.

The next, and biggest, step was the painting. I finally found a Saturdafaucety to paint the walls “Simply Seafoam” green and one of these days I’ll get the doors painted “Churchill Hotel Vanilla.” We don’t have the time or money to replace the worn floor or ivory-and-blue countertop, so we picked the paint to work with those.

One of these days I’ll probably get a new light fixture and maybe some matching towel racks, and I already have a plan for decorating the walls. I want to put up some vintage black-and-white photos, with black frames and mattes to look like antique scrapbook pages. I was searching the internet for vintage photos to buy and then realized how silly it is to buy photos when I already have a bunch of antique photos of my actual ancestors I should use. I’m excited to get it done, but I won’t have time to start for at least a week. I’ll be sure to update with the final results.

The paint color changes with the light and my camera had a hard time deciding how to capture that shade. The bat was my touch–vynil sticker on the mirror–and the butterfly was Mr. Robot’s choice. I’m actually the one who bought it, years ago on a whim, and I didn’t know he even cared about it. As soon as the walls were dry, though, he was eager to get it back up where it’s always been. Now the butterfly and the bat are friends.

Darklings with Little Darklings

glamazon2My parents had strict standards for schoolwork, for church attendance, for what they considered good character, but they didn’t much care what their kids looked like. Their attitude was more or less “if you can get a good job looking like that, go ahead and look like that.” It’s worked pretty well for me and my siblings so far.

I raise my kids with much the same philosophy. I don’t care much for church attendance, but I expect a certain amount of responsibility and what I consider good character. As long as they meet those, I’m not too worried about what they look like or listen to or watch on TV.* My goal is to let my kids be themselves, but with enough drive and discipline to be the best versions of themselves.

halloween2016So far, my kids aren’t particularly goth. Sure, they’d look cute in all black, with stripy tights or little Wednesday Addams dresses, but they’re not into it. I guess as a parent I have every right to dress my kids in what I think is adorable–they have several friends whose mothers pick their outfits every day–but it goes against my principles. I impose a lot of things on my kids, but I draw the line at imposing a style on them. They know who I am and what I’m into, and once in a while our tastes agree, but they know they’re free to like what they like without judgment. Even if what they like is pastels and Taylor Swift.

That said, they do indulge mommy’s obsession with halloween fun. halloween2015

*They’re still pre-teens, so I do put some limits on this stuff, but I try to be as flexible as I reasonably can. 

Day 25: Shoes I Love but Don’t Wear

It’s been a few days. Sorry. I think I mentioned I sucked at anything daily. I got distracted by my kids’ spring break and my awesome bathroom painting project (which I’ll show you soon) but I’m back on track to finish this challenge thing.

pinkshoesAnd without further ado, let’s talk shoes. I kind of do love these shoes–they’re cool and amazingly comfortable–but they obviously aren’t my usual style. I bought them for my youngest sister’s wedding. It was an outdoor summer wedding at the Flamingo hotel in Las Vegas, and her only request was that everyone “wear something colorful.” I’m not sure if the navy blue dress I wore counts as colorful but the shoes definitely qualify. navybluedress

Now both the dress and the shoes sit in the back of my closet unused, but they bring back happy memories. This sister was the last of my siblings to get married and the second to have an Elvis impersonator officiate. I think Elvis might be a good luck charm–my two sibs who went with traditional ministers are divorced now, but both Elvis marriages are still going strong. If Mr. Robot and I ever renew our vows, we’d better get an Elvis involved. You know, just in case.

Plan Your Epitaph Day

headstone
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There are actually two international Plan Your Epitaph days, so if this one has caught you unprepared you’ll have another chance on November 2. It’s never too early to plan for your inevitable demise.

Goths have a reputation for being “obsessed with death” but in my experience we’re really not. It’s more that non-goths are so obsessed with avoiding death that they get weird the moment you bring it up. Even goths can be more interested in abstract death and dying than our own plans for the future, but it pays to be prepared.

If I didn’t believe that before, it became all too clear a few Aprils ago when a good friend died in surgery. She, like so many people, didn’t have much of a plan and would not have approved of all the decisions made in her name. Since then, every April my thoughts turn both to her and to my own future affairs.

To that end, Mr. Robot and I have bought life insurance and written wills. We’ve discussed organ donation (hell yes) and what point we want each other to stop live-saving measures. And we’ve made basic plans for our funerals and remains. I plan to be cremated and, if I die too long before Mr. Robot, to have my ashes put in a tasteful urn (red and black preferred) and prominently placed in the living room. Mr. Robot is hoping for a green burial–one where they plant a tree over your grave–and I’d like my ashes spread and buried with him. Our kids like the idea that we’d be “in the tree,” continuing the cycling and recycling of life.

This plan doesn’t really need an epitaph, but I wouldn’t mind a tasteful plaque near our tree. I’d quite like this quote from the Mahabharata:

What is the greatest wonder? Death strikes every day, yet we live as if we were immortal.

May you live long, die well, and leave timeless last words. In the meantime, perhaps these epitaphs will entertain and inspire you.

Day 20: My Favorite Jewelry

When my dad was young he spent a couple years in Japan, and he’d always wanted to go back. With his vague government job and large family to support it didn’t seem super likely, but when I was eleven or twelve he got hired to help open an office in Tokyo. My dad was thrilled, but it also meant a couple of months-long trips out by himself before the office was ready and we all got to go.

This necklace was a gift he brought home from one of those solo trips. I used to wear it all the time as a kid. I rarely wear it now but I’m still very attached, and I hope to one day pass it on to the right kid or grandkid.

Day 18: Jewelry I Have Made (Sort of)

I have no talent for making jewelry. I knit, I crochet, I can sew a straight seam (more or less), and I can string a basic bead, but I’ve never made anything that I love to wear. I’ve made a few strings of pagan devotional beads in my time; that’s the closest I’ve come to jewelry and the knots are woefully amateur. It was enough to inspire my oldest kid, though, who now loves to make bracelets and necklaces for her friends. She’s even made a couple for me. I proudly display them on my bedroom wall, but I don’t really wear them. That might make me the world’s worst mom, but my blessed daughter seems to understand that they’re perfect where they are.

Day 17: Clothing I Have Made

I tweaked the challenge. I was supposed to show you clothing I’ve altered but I couldn’t think of a single thing. I’m just such a lazy and terrible tailor that the only thing I’ve altered in the last year is my kids’ taekwondo pants. (They’re all so very, very short.) So sure, here’s a picture of that, but I’m also showing the sweater and shawl I crocheted from scratch. My youngest is home with a cold today, so she kindly agreed to be my model between sneezes. I might have to steal her shawl-as-headscarf idea.