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?

 

Blood into Wine

They played Tool on the radio last night–yes, I still listen to radio sometimes–and I got all nostalgic. I was a big fan in college and even got to see them in concert back in the day. As my mind wandered back into the past, I remembered that Maynard James Keenan makes wine now down in Arizona. There was even a documentary about it several years ago that I never got around to seeing.

blood into wineSo I watched it this morning. It’s about seven years old now but it’s still good, a geeky and fun look at a region just getting into the wine industry. If you know nothing about wine it’s a painless introduction, and if you know something about wine it’s an unpretentious look at the subject. It also gives some interesting insight into Maynard James Keenan himself. I’d love to try some Arizona wine and tell you how it stacks up but I’ve never found any around here. Our state only sells wine in state-run stores and they usually stick to well known brands, with a smattering of local Utah products. I might have to take an actual trip to Arizona to see what its wine country has to offer.

As much as I love the music, it kind of makes me happy when famous people move on to other things. As Keenan put it in the documentary (and I paraphrase badly), you get to be a beloved rock star by screaming about your issues, and if screaming about your issues helps you should eventually feel better and move on to other things. If your music isn’t helping you feel better, how can it help anyone else feel better?

This certainly seems true in my own life. Back when I was young and struggling and full to bursting with unprocessed pain, bands like Tool were such a vital part of that process I can’t imagine making it through without them. But now that I’m older and healthier and just a tiny bit wiser, that intense need for music has faded. I miss it sometimes, but I think Keenan is right and it’s good that I’ve moved on and cultivated new talents and projects.

Semi-Goth Confessions

hobbits togetherFor reasons way too complex to explain here, I went to a very conservative university. In many ways, it was a Jesus college. I wore a lot of black, for a year I had a shaved head, I had way more piercings than my school approved of, and the only club I bothered joining was the extremely controversial campus feminist organization, but I still did a lot to placate the conservative powers at my school. I toned it down, pulled my punches, and I still sort of regret that.

The feminist club, by the way, were just as disturbed by my black nailpolish as everyone else in town. It was a real disappointment. The coolest, most liberal people I knew were still weirded out by my gothy tendencies. Which only encouraged me to give in and tone down more.

I never gave it up entirely, but I spent years at various points between mainstream and goth. I spent years in the shadowy realm of the semi-goth.

If I could have worked “semi-goth” into a good blog title, I would have. Or I could have gone with the more acceptable “Darkly Inclined Grotesquerie,” but there’s no alliteration there AT ALL!

Oh gods, I’m rambling. Perhaps I should write down some Ungoth/Semi-goth confessions to salvage this post.

Confession 1: I don’t make much distinction between Goth and “Not Goth Enough.” Maybe there should be a line, like owning 9 skulls isn’t goth enough, but buy that 10th skull and BOOM! You’re GOTH now. But I don’t know the exact number of skulls I need to own, so I just keep buying them and hoping they’re enough, you know?

Confession 2: I’m really obsessed with cooking and food history. Not just gruesome stuff like butchery or spooky cocktails, but all of it, from Australian wallaby steaks to the origins of Punjabi cuisine. I’m a great home cook, too, and when I’m not watching Stranger Things and Stan Against Evil I’m watching shows about cooking and food culture.  Whatever. I’m a food nerd.

Confession 3: I do love coffee and some red wines (I’m currently in love with Argentinian Malbec) but I have no idea why those things are supposed to be goth. None at all.

Confession 4: I love Christmas. I put up lights all over my house. I own the entire Lego Winter Village collection. I put up my tree on Thanksgiving weekend and cover it in Christmas ornaments from almost everywhere I’ve been.

Confession 5: I no longer wear corsets. I have irritable bowels that just don’t like to be squished. I love the way they look, but I don’t own even one anymore. Which leads to . . .

Oops, my kids are just about home and they’ll need my help with their math. I’ll have to do my next 5 confessions next time. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dead Man’s Party

This is my blog’s first Halloween! dead mans party 2

I mostly grew up in 1980s suburban America, which means a)loads of trick-or-treating and b)weird candy scares. Seriously, when I was a kid the local police would offer to x-ray our candy every Halloween, looking for razor blades and needles that never appeared. My parents never actually bothered to x-ray our candy (they would gladly risk our lives to avoid waiting in line on Halloween), but they did feel up every piece of candy we trick-or-treated. Not one razor blade or needle, and obviously no poison–I have four siblings and every one of us is still alive. As an adult, I suspect they were really just looking to steal a few of their favorite flavors from us. I do the same thing, but I’m honest/mean enough to just grab my “mom tax” without making excuses.

Just kidding. My kids are really nice, so they’re usually more than willing to kick me a piece or two from their haul.

dead mans party 1

As a grown-ass adult, I live in the Rocky mountains, in a basically suburban neighborhood, so every year we get a hundred to a hundred fifty trick-or-treaters. I’m a witch every year, as an excuse to sit on my porch in full goth regalia, munching candy. We get a lot of tiny kids, so I try not to make it too scary.

We have a dozen or so skeletons we put out every year–a human skeleton, some crocodile heads, and various other skeletal creatures–and every year I aim for a theme of some sort. I’m not super artistic, but I try. Last year was bayou themed, and this year I’m hosting a “Dead Man’s Party.” The kids helped. I’m very pleased.

 

I’m not sure how popular Oingo Boingo* was worldwide (they’re mostly famous for the “Weird Science” song), but I grew up with “Dead Man’s Party” in my head every Halloween. This year, we’re making it a reality. We bought party hats and kazoos for our skeletons, and come Halloween we’ll blow up balloons and spray some sparkles onto our spiderwebs. By then I’ll have a couple spotlights set up and ready to turn on. Those and our strings of purple lights will keep the party going all night long. The local toddlers will be terrified and excited.

*You may not know Oingo Boingo, but you probably know Danny Elfman from the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack, among others.

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.

Haunted Hospital

Once upon a time I worked at a mental hospital. It’s pretty much all modern and properly hospital-like now, but when I was there it was in the middle of transforming. There were several buildings arranged around a long, straight driveway. The buildings on the left of the driveway were big and modern and reasonably nice. The buildings on the right looked like an old-timey asylum stereotype. I mostly worked in one of the righthand buildings. The haunted one.

hospital hyde
This one.

I worked days so I never saw anything spooky, but friends on the night shift saw a few things. Mostly in the basement, where the big, empty cafeteria and weird storage cages were. Maybe it was ghosts, maybe it was fatigue and imagination, but if ghosts are real I’m sure that building hosted a few. My favorite story, though, is from after they tore it down. I was working in one of the new, nice buildings and a friend called me over. “Watch this,” she said, and dialed the phone. She called the old building, the one that didn’t exist anymore, and the phone just rang and rang. I guess the ghosts were too busy to answer their ghost phone.

The haunted building may be gone, but there’s still a real “castle” there, way up on the hill behind the main buildings. It’s an outdoor theater built during the Great Depression by one of those New Deal programs, and the hospital used to do a spook alley up there every Halloween. Apparently, it was the only mental hospital spook alley in the country, but I never got to be part of it. They quit doing it just a year or two before I got there. It started in the early 1970s and was incredibly popular, but also became controversial as people worried it might stigmatize mental illness and the hospital’s clients. I see the point, but a lot of the clients I met talked about it fondly and wished they could bring it back.

Since it’s a real hospital that still has residents, Utah State Hospital isn’t listed much on haunting sites. It has a small museum and the castle holds events, but they don’t want people showing up and exploring on their own. It’s a beautiful little place with a fascinating history that most people will never get to explore firsthand.


In all seriousness, it was a pretty cool place to work. It was (and still is) for people who need longer term psychiatric care, so you’d work with the same clients for weeks or months (and years, in some cases) and really get to know some cool people you might not normally meet. I don’t want to compromise anyone’s privacy so I’ll only mention one guy–Pete died quite a while back and I know he wouldn’t mind a shout out. He was pretty well known around Salt Lake City for walking around in a Lucifer costume, with his hair slicked up into devil’s horns. I never saw the outfit, but he had the horns when I knew him–they’d get taller or shorter according to how well he was feeling. I kind of hope he haunts something–he’d be a great ghost to meet. He got a really nice obituary when he died: you can read it here.

 

 

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.

 

Band Camp

ikeaI’ve been caught up in life stuff. We all have it; I don’t have to explain, right? I’ve been figuring things out, getting things done, and Band Camp has been getting me through.

I actually have a friend who produces on Band Camp. She’s a great person, but her music is a bit bright and folksy for my taste. (Still, if bright and folksy is your thing, give it a listen!)

Me, I’ve always run towards metal and alternative, but lately I’m all about dark cabaret and dark ambient. If you’re not Evelyn Evelyn, Kim Boekbinder* Atrium Carceri, or Kammarheit, lately I’ve not much use for you.

I’m no expert in either genre, but dark cabaret cheers me up as much as anything can, and dark ambient is the bleak soundtrack to every soul-sucking thing I have to get done. Everything is more exciting with something like these in the background. And sometimes that’s what you get–a cool soundtrack to your boring, frustrating life.

Hope everyone’s life is going well. And if it’s not, I hope you at least have a good soundtrack to your troubles. Catch you soon.

*Kim Boekbinder came out of Vermillion Lies, which was more or less dark cabaret, but she’s more than that. As most of us are.

Day 28: An Outfit I’m Ashamed Of?

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high school

I can’t think of one outfit I’m ashamed of or embarrassed by. I guess some people look back at old photos with a “what was I thinking?!!?!” attitude and some goth and alternative types are a bit embarrassed by their more “normal” pictures, but I don’t feel that way at all.

I, like most people, was really insecure about my looks when I was younger. I worried a lot that I wasn’t thin enough, not cool enough, didn’t fit in, didn’t stand out, whatever. I grew up before digital cameras so I don’t have a ton of pictures of those days, but when I look back now I wonder what I was so insecure about. I would still wear some of those outfits.

Since I don’t have any shame shots to post, I thought I’d show you

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college–I’m in the middle

what I looked like before I got so old and fat. Again, I came up before digital cameras, so these are pictures of actual photos I keep in a box in my basement. Apologies for the quality; these were the best I could do.

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I look like a hippie in this one. See my gothy looking friend? She’s all conservative and boring now. So sad.
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I kind of miss that jacket. And the hat. And my old Docs.