Mix Tapes I Have Loved

mix tape 1I was rummaging through a box of old stuff and of all the useless things, I found two shoe boxes of cassette tapes. I don’t even have a machine to play cassettes anymore so it was long past time to let most of them go, but I such a great time looking over my handful of old mix tapes I couldn’t bear to part with them.

Mix tapes used to be a big thing in our family. My oldest sibling is seven years older than I am, so he was off to college before I hit my teens. He used to send me mix tapes for birthdays and Christmas. My youngest sister, in turn, is nine years younger than I am, so I was off to college before she hit her teens. I used to send her mix tapes, or bring them home on visits. Somewhere in there, my other sisters got involved, and anytime we were stuck for a gift to send, we’d create a mix tape and send it along.mix tape 3

Eventually mixing tapes turned into burning CDs (so much easier!) and now we’re all old and set in our ways and we barely send music at all. It’s too bad–maybe next Christmas I’ll try to revive the tradition.

This is verging on an Ungoth Confession, but if you can make out the songlists you’ll notice my taste was and still is all over the place. Partly, I was gearing the tapes toward my sisters and not myself, and partly I’m just like that. I listen to all the things. Just not on cassette anymore.

This last photo is pretty much my favorite Christmas album ever, put together by one of my sisters and her ex, Mike. I listen to it just a silly amount every year.

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In case you can’t read the list off my crappy photo, here it is:

  1. Sleigh Ride–The Ronettes
  2. No Christmas for Me–Zee Avi
  3. Please Be Patient–Feist
  4. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas–Aimee Mann
  5. Christmas is Going to the Dogs–Eels
  6. Winter–Kristin Hersh
  7. I Saw Three Ships–Sufjan Stevens
  8. Goyim Friends–The LeeVees
  9. We ThreeKings–Reverend Horton Heat
  10. There Are Much Worse Things to Believe In–Elvis Costello, Feist, John Legend, Stephen Colbert
  11. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town–Bruce Springsteen
  12. Silver Bells–William Hung
  13. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)–Darlene Love
  14. Maybe This Christmas–Ron Sexsmith
  15. Angel in the Snow–Elliot Smith
  16. Here Comes Santa Clause–Elvis Presley
  17. Snow Song–Judd & Maggie
  18. We Wish You a Merry Christmas–John Denver & the Muppets
  19. 25th December–Everything But the Girl
  20. I Know You’ve Come to Take my Toys Away–The Mountain Goats
  21. Joy to the World–The Klezmonauts
  22. My Dear Acquaintance (A Happy New Year)–Regina Spektor

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?

 

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.