Saturday, August 30, 2014

... letting the garden go wild...

There is actually a tree behind the butterfly bush so it is a bit of an illusion
 A few years ago I was at a gardening workshop at a local greenhouse and I remember a woman being mortified when I mentioned how large I *allowed* my butterfly bushes to grow. In fact, in my backyard which isn't very big because I live in a town-house I prune but I don't really structure my plants. I like things to grow wild looking because ultimately I feel like my garden is my own secret space.

When the neighborhood children try to peep in (and they do), they can't see much in the summer. I mean, how much could you see through this butterfly bush madness!?! I'm allowed to sit and watch birds, red, or even grill on my wee (vegetarian) grill in peace. I also live across the street from a truck stop which to me isn't a problem at all because my community is extremely close to Interstate 95 and with my extreme commute, location is everything! The community has planted trees which mostly block the view of the trucks but adding vegetation to my own backyard blocks the white noise of the trucks, the squeals of children playing, and my gossipy neighbor who is always on the phone on her porch.

I love yard art. Here's a piece I picked up at the local ReFunkIt a few years ago.

Yeah, yeah, yeah I really do need to cut back this little guy but he just looks crazy and it makes me laugh. Plus, the wine and green colors of the foliage are gorgeous. I'm not being coy in withholding the plant's name... I can't recall at the moment. The garden should look a bit like this until late fall especially since Central Virginia typically has a mild climate (not so much last year but that's a different story). I look forward to sitting out in the garden when it becomes a bit cooler. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

... gardening, buying myself flowers, a ^o^ hand sanitizer holder, and more Yankee Candle Halloween please...

I'm not intentionally ignoring my garden. I need to cut the grass tomorrow morning and then maybe I'll add a few pictures. I live in a town-home with a HOA but the landscapers are tortuous on my plants so I end up locking my gate and doing the work myself... which I actually prefer. Last week I pruned the heck out of one of my butterfly bushes, and because I live in Central Virginia with the temperatures still in the high 80s and low 90s, it's like the pruning didn't take. The darn thing thumbed its branches at me and grew right on back. Sadly, the hibiscus are nearing the end of their blooms. There were two red blooms yesterday but none today. I'll know more when I'm pruning tomorrow. I have cut back all three hibiscus plants quite a bit because they appear unruly without blooms. They probably appear unruly to some with blooms but those flowers are lovely. In the meantime, I bought myself some roses today. I can't believe these stunning white roses were only $9.99. If you change the water regularly, the roses will last in a vase for at least a week plus.

Whenever I prune, I feel like I'm both closer to nature and to myself. I've mentioned that I didn't actually become a "gardener" until 2009 when I Ctrl+Alt+Del'ed my life. I started with growing plants and flowers in pots on a small apartment balcony. Once I had this town-home built, I have a complete clean slate that I was able to transform into my little secret garden. Yesterday when I arrived home from work I noticed a Gold Finch in my side yard. They are stunning little birds and while they are mostly fond in open fields, I do have a bit of open space to the side of my yard (being an end unit).

This evening I had to go to the mall to run an errand. The local mall has a Bath & Body Works and a Yankee Candle-- Yeah + Yeah! A few years ago, I bought the BEST hand sanitizer holder from Bath & Body works. Since then, they haven't carried it until NOW!  Their Halloween collection wasn't actually out on display but when an associate asked if she could help me, I asked. She casually mentioned the return of the bat hand sanitizer holders and I about fainted right there. She went in the back and brought me two that I bought. They are slightly different than my original which I do like better. The new ones have more glitter which is awesome but I can tell that the rubber is a lighter weight (more prone to tearing :-/ ) and the light-up eyes don't have two settings like mine original one does (where if you push once the lights blink and twice the light aka eyes stay on). The newer version has one setting where you push and the eyes blinked for about five seconds and then automatically shut off. Whatever, I bought two so I'm thrilled that they're back.

Since my fella and I weren't hanging out together tonight, I browsed around the mall a bit and decided to poke in to Yankee Candle. Like many of you, I attended the Yankee Candle Halloween Premiere but I'm always on the lookout to see if a store adds products during the season. Sure enough, there was a BAT CAULDRON in Witches Brew. I just looked online and OMG they even have added a BAT WINGS topper!!! (which I will be purchasing as soon as I post this). Many of the Boney Bunches which were sold out are now back in stock. I'm on to you, Yankee Candle (glaring face). But alas, their items are so cute what is a girl to do!

... The Professor's Homework and how music associated with a vampire novel inspires me...

For August's Homework Assignment, you are tasked to show us how songs or music inspire your dress, mood, art, writing, etc. Make that correlation between the song and the product of your inspiration; or, tell us what kind of music you listen to before you go out for the evening, or before work or school, or while you are relaxing at home. Remember, your post doesn't need to be fashion related. Get inspired! Think outside the box! HAVE FUN!!!
I started this assignment by listing 33 songs* that move me in different ways. My assignment attack was to simply take my list and start explaining why I’m drawn to the music. I had even considered simply including music I listen to while in the garden. But the Professor instructed us to “get inspired” so I paused to think about the most inspiration I’ve received from music. It came to me and I smiled because I knew exactly what I wanted to write about. And while it’s pretty goth, it isn’t goth music.

In 2012, I received an email with the heading “Do Not Open Until Christmas”. I knew a surprise was coming because my fella had taken my iPad from me. I thought this was a pretty obvious gesture because as I’ve admitted before, I’ve only downloaded one song (maybe two) on my own. I buy CDs still. My fella had slowly taken all of my CDs, ripped them, and was making my life digital. I assumed he was simply going to gift me with a musical library I could finally take with me... but why an email???? Hmmm.

On Christmas morning, he hands me my iPad and instructs me to open the email via the device. The file that I downloaded was entitled “The Legend Suite”. That year for Christmas we weren’t giving monetary gifts. I had read some of his favorite novels which included Shogun and he had… dramatic pause… read Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend. Now you need a little back story. I teach a general studies course on vampires in literature and film. Matheson’s text is one that I use and love. My fella isn’t a “vampire guy”. He hadn’t seen any of the Halloween movies when I met him and the only vampire films he had watched were Blockbuster films. Reading Matheson’s book would have been a big enough deal to me but my fella takes our relationship seriously and boy does he love me. He KNEW that I never understood the musical references in I Am Legend which are heavily based on classical scores. Matheson loved music and he knew his stuff. In my head, everything probably sounded like a generic Beethoven one hears in a Lifetime movie (I’m not knocking Lifetime movies by the way). My fella knew that for me to truly understand the book, I needed to understand the music so while he read, he took notes. Then, he researched, purchased scores that he learned Matheson had enjoyed himself or ones that the character Robert had explicitly mentioned, and he made me a sound track. BUT I AM NOT DONE because as I said, my fella super-sizes my world. He then, in the most thoughtful way, explained his choices because as he explains in the PDF:

"The songs referenced in the story encompass nearly seven hours of music.  The Beethoven symphonies alone total 2½ hours.  This collection uses one movement each from the multi-part works.  The single popular song (“How Dry I Am”) is complemented by other period tunes which reflect loss, waiting, or irony.  Music from the text has been re-ordered and paired with supplemental pieces in the hopes of crafting a better flow of tone or mood.  The resulting “suite” is a little over three hours, and is designed to flow organically from start to finish (should you ever have three hours, and the stamina, to spare!)."
Then he lists the songs with his own explanation. The one song that I had always wanted to hear included this explanation:

Leie                      “The Year of the Plague”
                             Neville considers soundproofing his house while listening to a fictional tune.  As far as I can tell, this work does not exist.  The text describes “weird, atonal melodies,” and I used this as a guide in selecting some of the supplemental pieces. 

                            Waltz Suite, Mvt 3 (“Mephisto Waltz”) (Sergei Prokofiev)
         To me, it evokes a darkly humorous dance of dread and death.  Neville seems to like    occasional dissonance and discomfort in his music.
And the last one,

                        “We’ll Meet Again” (Benny Goodman/Peggy Lee)
A coda which I like to hope a bold filmmaker would use for the closing scene, as Neville rises to face the crowd and ascend the scaffold.

It’s a four page document but I’m only including a few selections because this was a present that I find deeply personal. Perhaps the most personal gift anyone has ever given me. I honestly don’t even know how he could top it.

Now when I’m re-reading the book (because I believe professors should read the books they’re teaching each and every semester), I listen to this Legend Suite. When I want to feel like my fella is around, I listen to this Legend Suite. When I want to remember how much I’m loved, I listen to this Legend Suite.

*The original list of songs:

“Nine While Nine”, Sisters of Mercy
“Emma” (cover), Sisters of Mercy
“The Game”, Echo & The Bunnymen
“Nocturnal Me”, Echo & The Bunnymen or rather Ocean Rain (album)
“In the Margins”, Echo & The Bunnymen
Anything off of Disintegration (album), The Cure
“Fight”, The Cure
“2 Late”, The Cure
“Lament”, The Cure
“Just Like Heaven”, The Cure
Anything from Deep (album), Peter Murphy
“The Days of Swine and Roses”, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult
“The Other Side”, Don Conoscenti
“Oregon Hill,” Cowboy Junkies
Live Through This (album), Hole
“Beautiful Love”, Julian Cope
“Birthday”, Cruxshadows
“Unhappy Birthday”, The Smiths
“Horror Head” Curve
“Sit down”, James
“Like a Child Again”, The Mission
“She Doesn’t Exist”, Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians
Superstition (album),  Siouxsie & The Banshees
“The Passenger”, Siouxsie & The Banshees
“Halloween”, Siouxsie & The Banshees
“Like the Weather”, 10,000 Maniacs
“Crazy”, The Afghan Whigs
“The Vampire Lanois”, Afghan Whigs
“Happier”, A Fine Frenzy
MCMXC A.D. (album), Enigma
Nightmare Revisited (album)
“Unsent”, Alanis Morissette

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

... 'dead is better' and funnel cakes...

When I was 19, I had the biggest (cruelest) crush on a fraternity boy. Being a goth girl, he didn’t want to have anything to do with me publicly although we were so pheromone- connected that we made out like crazy all the time… then he got a girlfriend and told my best friend that while he really liked me he couldn’t bring me to his fraternity parties (not that I would have wanted to go) because I wouldn’t fit in. I guess Docs have a way of not matching a spring formal. It’s a bit more complicated than that but I held those feelings of rejection, confusion, and sadness for twenty years. Last year he sent me a Facebook friend request and I almost threw up. After deciding to accept the request, the correspondence went something like “I’ve been pining over you for twenty years and am in love with you”. After a reunion, a long discussion, and a reminder to him that I have the fella I was always meant to be with I have continued to receive those “I still love you texts”, random pictures of his family, and song lyrics. I think initially I was like “Hell yeah bitch! Of course you regret it”. I mean, don’t we all have this weird ‘what if’ about the one that got away. But now they feel like little interruptions in my life... sad attempts at a missed connection.

Today I saw a random Facebook post about America’s creepiest amusement park that has been abandoned for decades will be opening for one week in October. What in the world does this have to do with the guy from the past? Well, we worked at the local amusement park for starters. The post today with scenes of nature taking back what man made reminded me that life changes, the past is the past, and for goodness sake sometimes the universe doesn’t let something happen even when you think you really, really, really wanted it. Some things, like funnel cakes, just aren't good for you. You can handle that when you're a kid but when you're an adult, not so much.

Have I mentioned how hot he was? I had just broken up with my 3-year-first-boyfriend-of-my -dreams-and-super-goth when the frat boy showed up to work. Maybe it was because my ex-goth came to visit the theme park one day with a new girl he was walking around with on a leash. Sigh. I wanted to be that girl. It was too soon and too raw. And frat boy swept me up and made me go on break so I wouldn’t have to deal with it… so even though he wasn’t so open-minded about my clothes, style, or music he did have a heart. Somewhat. No, no, he did. Anyhow, now is now and I’m sick of receiving these ridiculous texts because I haven’t been pining for twenty years. I was sad as a 19 yr old. I wondered what happened. He popped up in my thoughts from time to time but I didn’t need for him to return… and certainly not like this. 

As Stephen King would say, “Sometimes dead is better”.  Looking at the old abandoned Ferris wheel reminded me of this... and it reminded me that even when I go to that amusement park, I never buy funnel cakes anymore. My tastes have changed. 

And as a pretty important aside: I so need to plan a road trip to Lake Shawnee Amusement Park! 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

... how to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Macabre-Style...

I was nominated to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. While I donated online, I still think my Pottery Barn ice bucket, which I use as a vase, is pretty darn snazzy. And, I found a reason to use my new chalkboard place setting gravestones.

Friday, August 22, 2014

...too many blood suckers to sit outside...

 Those pesky little blood suckers (mosquitoes) have been practically swarming in my yard lately. I don't have any standing water that I can tell but there is swampland nearby. If I can help it, I don't use bug spray... mostly because of little guys like this Hummingbird Moth along with other beneficial bugs and birds. I was only outside for a few minutes and I have nearly a half dozen bites! Yet another reason I love bats.

Because I don't want to be bitten, I've retreated back indoors. For now I'll have to enjoy my garden from peeping out my back windows.

I had to prune back two butterfly bushes that were taking over my Pom Pom. I love that little guy.
More tomatoes on the vine... and a red flower to attract the hummingbirds.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

...back on the market...

Addams Family’ house on the market for the first time since 1924

... Crate & Barrel Halloween items arrived...

 I'm in love with these punch glasses. I'm sure I'll buy more.
 I needed this graveyard server like I needed a hole in my head! But it's adorable. My original thought is that it would make a great perfume/make-up/jewelry stand. It's pretty large and right now it's living on top of another cake stand on top of my refrigerator. Sometimes my gothy eyes are bigger than my gothy space.
A napkin holder that I may use as a file holder... but I had these napkins so ta da!

... Skulls and Bats ^o^ School Supply Post...

Although I’m technically on sabbatical this semester, I run placement testing for the university and was on campus today for New Student Orientation. I love being around all that *new* energy—new students, new schedules, new classrooms, and new SUPPLIES!!!

I can’t let the season pass without walking down the school supply aisle. Even when I don’t *need* anything in particular, I can always find a little something. This makes me excited because BACK IN MY DAY (eye rolls from young readers), I had to DIY my notebooks and binders. Now it’s a bit easier to find supplies that are a bit more aesthetically pleasing to our little counter-culture community.

So here are a few finds! 
Pencil case from Michael's

Lunch bag from PotteryBarn Teen
A flashdrive with skulls!
A notebook from Target... a notebook with a bat!

In keeping with my DIY roots, here's a small project that made an ordinary journal/notebook into one that is much more me. I found a plain off white journal at Michael's. I changed the rope for a nice black ribbon, and I added a Sugar Skull  Betsey Johnson iron-on. The best part is that when the journal is full, I can replace the notebook with a new one.
The total cost was about $15. 

Harvey's Seatbelt Bag with Bath & Body Works Bat Hand Sanitizer holder (the eyes light up!)
Finally, a reminder that if you can buy a quality item that will last the years, you won't have to go with a *new* find. I was (okay fine, I still am) a bag-girl. Bags are just so pretty!!! I also used to go through work bags almost seasonally because with my extreme commute, I'm pretty hard on bags. This bag is from the collection of Harveys for Disney Couture Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas Seatbeltbags. It's a mouthful and it was pricey even by my standards BUT I am still very much in love with this bag since the day I bought it three-ish years ago. It has been my only work bag since. It also does not go over my shoulder which I have to add is the best feature ever considering I've tortured by back for years with bags which weigh nearly/atleast/maybe more than 20 lbs. (I'm a Lit professor... those Nortons are heavy!)