Saturday, March 27, 2010

Music Give-Away

If you love hauntingly beautiful music and Nox Arcana, you might want to float on over to John's Season of Shadows blog, and sign up for his drawing!

He is giving not one, but four CD's away! (I truly want one for myself, but since there are 3 others, I'm sharing the news.)

Good luck!

Friday, March 19, 2010

I've Been Tagged!

You've probably seen the game of tag floating around blogland. It gets warm, and everyone wants to play games! Thankfully, with this version, I don't have to do much running! lol

Dede, over at Brightest Blessings Wiccans got me before I could hide. .oops! Different game. .no wonder I wasn't any good at it!

So ok. .first photo folder, 10th photo. This is one that I only took for me, not intending on sharing it with anyone.

Some years ago, I was in an on-line group where we did a lot of exchanges of hand crafted things.  This was either for Mardi Gras, or Halloween, but we were to make a half mask and send it to the name we had been matched up with.

I had never made a mask before, and didn't even know how to properly put one together, so I winged it. .pun intended, since I decided to make a Snowy Owl.

After I was done, I was sorry that I had to send it away. .after all, it was my first! lol  And, my only! It was a lot of fun to do though. I should do some more sometime.

So it was, that just as I was ready to carefully wrap it in tissue paper, then bubble wrap, etc. I realized that I hadn't taken a photo of it, and I had to rush, so I grabbed my sweatshirt, wadded it up, laid the mask on it, and took my photo.  With tag games like this lurking around, I'll never make that mistake again! lol

And now to tag 5 other people. . .

Ok. .this is going to be an easy one for her. .she had LOTS of wonderful photos, and stories to go with them.

Sarah!  (I'm sending this to her Garden Studios Photography blog. Please go check out her images!) 

Jeanne! over at The Candy Corn Chronicles always has some wonderful photos on her blog

Kat! She is a fantastic artist, and you'll find her work, plus photos of her new puppy, and other magical collections at Antics Of A Tameran Witch

I can't let the Frog Queen hop away.  She always has some intriguing photos to share on her Frog On A Pumpkin blog.

And last, but no less fun and interesting, is Jeannine, on her By Way Of Salem blog. She flies a very creative path, so it will be interesting to see what she has stashed in her photo files!

Thank you for thinking of me Dede, and have fun ladies!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

My New Skelly!

I love buying things from crafty artists. Not only do I get something very original and well made, but it is often wrapped in, or something special is included that I can make good use of, or enjoy too.

Case in point, I just bought something from MarZel, over at The Play Of Light And Shadow, and she not only sent it in a very well wrapped, secure package, but the inner wrapping looked like this!

What wonderful fabric!! That is a definite saver! And the little rubber cutouts are so cute too. .Those are going in my Halloween embellishment drawer, along with the Autumn leaf, for sure!

And my purchase? Something that I thought would be perfect for my Skeleton Pirate Crew that I set up each Halloween.  Dept 56 has come out with another skelly with a fedora, so I've got to get that to add to the tableau. .and this piece?  She is so spooky with a touch of vamp in her, she is going to have those skelly guys shaking in their bones.

Thanks for offering her for sale, MarZel! She is perfect, and I love her! I may just have to set up my Pirate cove this Spring instead!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Go Ask Alice, When She's Ten Feet Tall

But I doubt that even she could give me my infinitive answer, no matter if she were tall, or small.

However, it is because of her, and her darn White Rabbit that I have resurrected swirling thoughts that repeatedly have no place to land, so I let them vaporize away, unsettled until once again, like on last Thursday, they come back to haunt me.

Last Thursday was the first warm and sunny day that we have had in quite a while, and my darling Hubs had a Barnes & Noble gift card from Christmas burning a hole in his pocket. Not wanting to have to buy him another pair of pants right now, I thought we’d take advantage of the day, and go browse books.

At some point in the previous days, along with all of the gathering attention to Tim Burton’s Alice opening that Friday, Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit popped up out of his hole and made a quick dash into my mind, where he stayed, whirling around and around., repeating the lyrics over and over. (Now admit it, who of you over the age of say. . 40, haven’t thought of that song within the past week? And for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ve heard that it is used in the movie)

And so it happened that during the hour drive to get to the store, my mind was once again filled with the almost continuous droning feed of:

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don't do anything at all
Go ask Alice, when she's ten feet tall. . . .and so on. . .all 4 verses, over and over again.

I had a bit of de je vu when I realized that in the background, an author on NPR was describing the horrors that she saw while embedded with a military company in Iraq, and I had a flashback of riding along in my Mustang, humming White Rabbit over the background of news broadcasts of another atrocious war. But that wasn’t the last of my spooky moments.

As we approached the double front doors of B&N, I’m trying to mentally stuff the rabbit back down into his hole so I can enjoy the heady experience of books, but the second I stepped inside, what greets my ears, but the very song that I’ve been trying to escape from! Which finally leads me to the point of my quandary.

I found out that that track is part of an album that has been released with a number of songs all related to the story of Alice In Wonderland, by that master of merchandisers, Disney, and is separate from the soundtrack of the movie. At that very moment, the Rabbit took a mighty leap from my mind. Looking around me, I discovered display after display of everything “Alice” and everything remotely related to Alice.

Being that we were in a place of business whose whole purpose is to sell things, I wasn’t surprised. What was unsettling to me what to the extent some had gone to, to latch onto the current Alice craze.

The various books were fine. Some more than others, but I loved looking at the different illustrator’s interpretations of the familiar characters. The compositions of the individual original songs that are on that compilation CD are fine too. They are each a creative interpretation from a known reference, just as all of the dolls, and paintings that are popping up here on the internet. Alice and especially the other characters are ripe for creative juices to flow, and I delight in seeing the various forms.

So why does a compilation CD, and the other mass merchandise bother me so much?

Maybe it is because I’m looking forward to seeing the movie from an artistic point of view. I want to soak in the costumes, makeup, props and sets, to discover what makes the whole atmosphere. .the sum of its parts. Even though it, in itself, is a commercial endeavor, I’m still looking at it as a form of art, and for some reason, all of the exploitation of that version of Alice into mass merchandising, somehow tarnishes the magic for me, and I’d like to know why. Maybe to understand it, will lessen its power over my thinking and feeling.

I’ve spent my whole life surrounded by art, not only from the artist’s view, but I also worked in a boutique art gallery for quite a few years, so I know the business end of it too.

And throughout the years, I often wondered at what point does the commercial aspect of art take on a life of its own, and in doing so, does it overshadow the art itself? I know the formal definition of commercial art is using a creative process to promote or sell another product, and in “fine art”, the art itself is the product. But the minute you put a price tag on it, it becomes commercial too. To make prints, even limited editions from that original, you are putting one more toe into that commercial pond. To begin merchandising with notepads, coffee mugs, refrigerator magnets and such, and to my way of thinking, you are now treading water. (I’m not going to get into the marketing of collectibles here. That is a related, but whole other topic) But does that diminish, not the monetary value of the art, but the intrinsic value? Maybe this is an arbitrary thing, or it can be subjective from one instance to another or one patron to another. Maybe there is no cut and dried answer. I’m not an art snob. I buy prints because I can rarely afford an original, and if I enjoy something so much, that is the only way that I’m going to have it in my home.

Maybe it is because I look at art as living, breathing entities. An artist leaves his or her imprint that remains with the piece, and in cold reproductions, there isn’t any personality at all. (I’m not going to get into working conditions here either. That is a soapbox topic) At least with me buying signed and numbered prints, I console myself that the artist has thoroughly inspected it, and given approval. In acting, and in musical composition, or a vocalist’s song, we are the recipients of that person’s interpretation.

And maybe in my heart, I’m hoping that the artist would still create, the composer would still write, and musicians and singers would still play, just for the pure joy of it, even if they knew that no one was ever going to buy one of their pieces, or hear their music. (I’m obviously leaving the need to make a living out of the equation, but hopefully you know what I’m inadequately trying to say)

So while I’m trying to sort this all out, maybe you can share some of your insights. Do you create your artwork with selling in mind, or do you ever create something where you have put so much of yourself into it, that you know that you’ll never be able to part with it?

I know of one person who will give me a resounding “Yes!’ if she reads this. She lost her beloved horse last year, and poured so much sorrow into a doll, it radiates through the computer monitor. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to learn that the doll sheds real tears when no one is around. It also didn’t surprise me to learn that she will never part with that doll either.

And what about mass merchandising? How do you feel about it, and do you have a comfort zone as far as what you find acceptable, and what is exploitation? And how do you feel it affects art?

I’m truly interested in your viewpoints, and maybe concentrating on what you are saying will help me ignore that White Rabbit that has once again taken up residence within my head. So please ignore the humming. Maybe I should have heeded the doormouse’s advice.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Think Fall! Think Halloween! Think Ghoultide!

I know, I know, everyone that I talk to is thinking Spring. Everyone is sick of the snow, and wants to see green things growing.

Truth be known, and I'll probably lose some people here, but I'm always sorry to see Winter go.  Oh, once warmer weather is here, I get out to mingle among my plants, and love to see the blooms, but my mind immediately jumps right into Autumn.

It could be that I'm not a "pastel person", and for some reason, Springtime is represented by the sickly sweetness of pales. This has to be a relatively new association, because the grand Victorians depicted their rabbits on their papier mache eggs, wearing primary colors. Now those, I could live with. In fact, I do!

But I know that I'm in the minority, and I almost silently (dear hubs probably has my litany memorized by now) endure bombardments of pastel laden merchandise every time I step into a store.

So I was overjoyed to discover that Scott Smith of Rucus Studio, and organizer of Ghoultide has posted a video on You Tube of last year's event.

Sit back, or lean forward for an even better view, and let the best of Halloween absorb into your mind.  What delectible eye candy!! (and please turn off the music below so you can enjoy Scott's music with the video!)

We couldn't make it last year, due to appointments conflicting, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this year, on October 2nd, it will work out so that we can go!

I get excited just thinking about the possibilities!

Wishing everyone a super week!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Beautiful Award!

One of the sweetest people you'll ever want to meet has given me a beautiful gift.

Dede, of Brightest Blessings Wiccans, has given this gorgeous bloom which is guaranteed to make you smile just by looking at it! But even more meaningful, it is given to people whose positive outlook, and creativity inspires others.

That is pretty heady to think about, and I'm truly humbled to think that I fit into that category! (Maybe it was that cure for her skunk scented dogs that swayed her thinking!)

I jest, but it truly does touch my heart that she would think of me, and every time I see it here, I'll remember her thoughtfulness.

Now, I'm supposed to pass it along to some other worthy people, but that would be nearly impossible, because there are so many of you! I'd be here forever!

You all continue to inspire me daily, and keep me uplifted when challenges here at home get tougher. You'll never know what that means to me.  So I offer the intrinsic beauty of a single perfect flower as a symbolic thank you. Please accept it, and let it shine on your blog.

Wishing you all a very creative week, 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tea Anyone?

There is going to be a grand tea party this Friday. Is anyone going to attend? Please make sure that your gloves are sparkling white, and don't be late!

I had just posted the Mad Hatter on my other blog, when I saw what Will Bezek had done, and now I have to share.  You will be awe-struck.

Now I'm off to check out my closet. .what does one wear to a Mad Hatter's tea party? 

What will you be wearing?

Monday, March 1, 2010

What Does A Deer Have To Do With Halloween?

I ask for your understanding in this duplicate post to my other blog. There are a few people here, who don't follow the other one, and may actually find the more spiritual nature to be in tune with their interests. Samhain may be the time of year when the Veil is the thinnest, but this is a testament to me, that it can be lifted any time of the year.

Because my blogs are a diversion for me, I try and stay away from things of a more serious nature, but I think that the time has come for me to share a very personal, but meaningful experience that happened not only to me, but my family.

It seems that lately, so many people that I know are having to say painful goodbyes to loved ones that are leaving this life, this earth, and if my true story brings some measure of comfort to them, then it is worth this shift in focus.

And it doesn’t matter what spiritual or religious path you follow. My family is quite diverse in that area, and we were all there to see this with our own eyes. Just please keep an open mind, and an open heart.

My Step Dad Travelled On in 1999, as a result of exposure to Freon gas, an unknown hazard at the time, but an integral part of his refrigeration business. But to get the true meaning of my story, we need delve just a little into his history, back to 1964 when he became an important part of our family, back before he became the beloved Grampa to my children.

He married my Mom in June of that year, and that following November, he started gathering up his gear, announcing that he is going deer hunting! I, who grew up with a Dad who never hunted, and loved animals, was appalled! How could my Mom have married a hunter!!?

But that year, and every year after that, when November rolled around, he would head for the North woods, but never came home with a deer, only gifts for everyone from the local crafts shops. It got to be a running joke that he had to remember to take his gun, just to keep up his image. If the truth be known, yes, he loved going up to Munising, in the U.P. to visit with some friends who lived there, swap stories at the local pub, and sit out in the woods, being a part of nature. He thought that deer were one of the most beautiful creatures. Why he had to go through the fa├žade of being the hunter, I don’t know. I’m guessing it was because it was the way that he was raised, but he never said.

Back here at home, their home edged on woods that banked a river, with tall grassy fields extending past their mowed garden area, so deer were a familiar sight moving in the shadowy perimeter of their patio and glass enclosed porches.

He loved nothing better on quiet summer evenings, to sit out and watch and count the number of deer grazing their fields, or lazily making their way down to the river bank. Like all of us deer watchers do, he could recognize and point out the regulars, and looked forward to seeing the fawns each year.

Sometime during those years, they decided that their home was too big for the two of them, so they sold it, keeping the tall grass fields that were dotted with apple and oak trees. They built a smaller home; still keeping some land that went down to the river. Deer would sometimes meander through, looking for acorns or fallen apples, but they became more of a treat to see, rather than familiar friends, when for various reasons, my folks started having the remaining trees removed, and the extended fields mowed. My Mom didn’t like having to rake all of the leaves, the acorns messed up her patio, and she didn’t like the apples rotting in her yard. So sadly, the trees disappeared, and so did the deer. My parents were left with a sterile, completely mowed surface that turned brown under the hot summer sun. Not an inviting habitat for wildlife.

I know that my Dad missed having the deer around, but contented himself with his yearly trip up North, and then, after we bought a home up in the upper tier of the Lower Peninsula, coming to our home.

We had a mechanical feeder that sprayed corn out in a wide radius, and we had a healthy deer herd that came to feed every night. During the day, they would bed down in the shade of our house, or under the many trees.

My Dad would sit out in a lawn chair, with the biggest grin on his face as he watched the deer come down our long curving drive through the pines, walking right toward him, only veering off to go eat. In the few years of his illness, he sat with his portable oxygen tank at his side, still able to be out with the deer.

But toward the end, even that became too much for him to do, and he remained at their home, where on a hot July day, he slipped into a coma, and within a few hours, took his final labored breath.

My Mom, who had been his sole caregiver, and preparing herself for this moment, was suddenly shaken with this huge concern that he was in a good place. She was to the point of being frantic, with not knowing.

The next morning, after a very sleepless night, I sat her down, and told her that I knew that she was going to get a sign, but that she had to be aware of it, so that she would recognize it for what it was. I wasn’t telling her that, to make her feel good. I really did feel it. But she was so distraught, I had to keep reminding her.

Just as the afternoon had settled into another hot and steamy afternoon, with the sun shining it’s brightest, all of the immediate family had gathered in the family room once again to discuss the plans for a memorial. Adjacent to the three walled glass enclosed porch, we were able to look out over the huge expanse of open lawn.

I had my head down, composing his obituary when my son said, “Mom! Look out the window!”, and of course, 10 pairs of eyes turned toward the bank of windows. There, standing in the bright afternoon glare of the sun, stood a solitary deer, early antlers wrapped in velvet. He not only stood in the open yard, but calmly walked up to the porch windows and stopped, looking in. While everyone else was oohing and aaahing over the sight of a deer in this stark surrounding, I quietly came up behind my Mom and whispered to her that there was her sign.

I could feel the tension and stress whoosh out of her with her next exhaled breath, as she quietly made her way across the room, and up to the window. She stood there, reaching her hand out toward the window pane, with the deer’s nose only inches away on the other side of the glass. The buck didn’t run, but stood there, looking at my Mom. What transpired between them, I don't know. It was a very personal moment. He was there for her, with us as witnesses. Then, with a bow of his head, he slowly turned, and ambled across the huge expanse of open lawn, heading back into the distant tree line. Once there, he turned to look back, then disappeared into the trees.

Then with a collective exhaling of held breaths, all of the chattering inside started. My grandkids were excited to see a deer! My kids were talking about how strange it was that one showed up in the middle of the day, when none had been around for years. My hubby and I looked at each other with knowing smiles, and my Mom looked at me with tears in her eyes, saying that a huge weight had been lifted from the middle of her chest.

My older daughter sadly thought that her Grammie had lost any threads of rational thought, fearing that she thought that the deer was Grampa. I told her “No, it is the miracle of the deer showing up now”, but personally, I keep an open mind because I don’t know for sure. If it is possible, that is definitely the form he would take. But what I do truly feel, is that the deer was a Messenger, especially considering in all of the years since, no deer has shown up in my Mom’s yard. Believe me, she has looked, and hoped.

I remind her to be thankful for that very special gift that she received, and she is. She also admits that if she were alone, she probably would have missed the significance of it until maybe a long time later, which would have made her feel even worse. So the timing was key, as was the awareness to look for it.

We may have received a special gift, but I know that we weren’t special in being gifted. In talking with others, some have their own stories of the Veil being lifted. I think that it happens more often than we are aware, and we should keep our senses finely tuned, so as to not miss that true magical moment.

Do you have an experience of receiving a sign from the Other Side? I would love to hear your story. Thank you for reading mine.

Wishing everyone a beautiful day!