Sunday, September 21, 2014

Thrift Store Therapy---Bells, Masks and Cat Birthdays

It's been almost 1 year since I found my cat, Mr Scampers, in a box in a parking lot. He has grown into a fine young man, although he still breaks stuff now and again. He can't break this vintage Scandinavian (or German?)  brass bell I found, though---what a great piece with it's little hand painted scene and woven handle! I was super happy to find it and it was half off to boot!

I also came across this tole painted star tin:

Here is an enigmatic piece---a mobile with folk art figures. I am obsessed with corn dollies and other minimalistic folk art figures so I was happy to find this unusual decoration:

I then came across this book in one of my charity shops---it's funny, I have such a good thrift radar these days that I can be in one isle of the store and just catch the barest glimpse of something across the way and know that it's something good and vintage. 25 odd years of thrifting hones the perceptions. I was looking at teacups and suddenly became aware of this book on the other side of the store! Anyways, I had never heard of May Gibbs and was delighted to find that she was an Englishwoman living in Australia and writing Australian fairy stories in the 40s. I am familiar with the settings of European fairy tales and was very interested to see the unique Australian flora and fauna that makes up the tales in " Snugglepot and Cuddlepie".

And, finally, I was super stoked to find these paper masks in the same store that I found the book. I was admiring a friend's paper masks not too long ago, had looked at some on Etsy and was really wishing I had some---so imagine my delight when I saw these:

This is one of my favorites, a harvest person made of fruit and vegetables. The back of the mask says it is based on the work of Guiseppe Arcimboldo who was painting in the 1500s and who happens to be one of my favorite artists. I had to good fortune to view a couple of his original works in the Louvre several years ago. 

I also found some great dresses on this particular thrifting expedition and I will make one of my rare fashion posts showcasing them at some point---maybe wearing some of these great masks!! Halloween is just around the corner, you know, and now is an excellent time to hit the thrifts---they tend to bring out all of the crazy stuff they have been hoarding for the costume season. Happy thrifting!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Mountain Gnomes Drank All My Booze!

Well, not really. That's just something my husband likes to say because he plays Dwarf Fortress---and in that game the mountain gnomes really will drink all of your booze. The Cascade mountain gnomes did end up playing a trick on us, but more on that later. Let's start at the beginning:

 We left late. We hiked 12 miles, some of it by moonlight. We were afraid we would miss the place where we go off trail and start feral hiking---but somehow we found the turnoff, made camp and collapsed into our sleeping bags. The moon was huge. We joked we have eschewed sunbathing for moonbathing because our last couple of camping trips have been under a full moon so bright a person practically needed moonglasses to handle it. And good thing too, because my husband brought a flashlight with dead batteries :0

The air was full of smoke from a large wildfire burning to the west, but the days were hot and bright. I can never get enough of this landscape, this Tolkien-like tableau. The mushrooms were absolutely glorious this year, more than I have ever seen before, these are just a few:

The day after we got there, we went back down to the trail to get water from a small lake. Half an hour hike at the most. On the way back, we both noticed that it was taking longer than it should have. But still we walked on, until finally my husband said  "We passed it. We missed the turnoff."
"Ah, no" I said "how could that be? It's fairly obvious, how could we both miss it?"

Well we did miss it. By at least a mile, if not more. The turnoff has a fairly obvious landmark, but still, both of us missed it. Now, how could we have found it by moonlight the night before, in a state of utter exhaustion, but overshoot it so wildly in the daytime? I suspect the mountain gnomes. Really. It was a warning to us both that even though this is a place we love and visit often, we were not being present, just walking along with our heads in our thoughts and not paying attention to the moment. Which can be dangerous out there and a little bit disrespectful. So, lesson taken, we made it back to the turnoff and back to our camp where we settled in with some tea and snacks.

We then climbed the boulder rubble on the flanks of the mountain to the first ice field we could reach. I poured out, for the mountain, a good splash of the mead we brought along---the rest we drank later, watching the moon rise over the fire-smoke cloud.

 Turns out I had two encounters of a surprising nature. The first occurred on the first night. Snuggled down in my sleeping bag and looking at the remnants of stars (their light mostly overtaken by the glory of the moon) a large shape suddenly loomed over my head. It was a giant moth! I could see its feelers. It hovered there a moment, checking me out, and then flew off. The second encounter happened on the second night. Near dawn, just after the moon had set behind the saddle of the mountain, an unfamiliar bird suddenly circled our sleeping bags. I could have reached up and touched it. It landed in a stunted pine tree near by. I said "And who might you be?" It didn't answer me, but circled our bags again before flying away.

The moon setting behind the saddle of the mountain, around 4:30 am

I can't fully describe to you the massive boulder fields on the slopes of this ancient, weathered volcano. It is it's own micro-climate, distinct from the forest below it, drier, colder and just echoing with the spirits of wind and rock. We poked around a bit longer on the slopes then headed back down.

Wow, is our windshield ever dirty!

On our way home we could see the massive plumes of smoke from the Deception Creek Wildfire complex.

This was a short trip, but absolutely what I needed to clear my brain and prepare myself for the slow turn into autumn. I am so fortunate to be able to take these trips, living in the great Northwest as I do, where the mountains, the ocean and the desert are all just a few hours away.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Computer-ation Breakdown

My 10 year old computer gave up the ghost and took my Nicaragua pictures with it!!! I kept saying to myself, "gotta get those pics on a flash-drive", but, too late. Let that be a lesson to you. Back up immediately! I can probably get them off the hard drive through some sort of data recovery, but it's a complication I could have avoided. And no, I don't store my personal photos on the cloud, ha!

I have been restless after coming back from my Nicaragua trip---elation, followed by a short period of depression, followed by a manic period of desire for change. So, I dragged all of the stuff out of my back room and am in the process of painting it totally white so that I can take better pictures for my Etsy shop and for other projects. A dedicated space will go a long way towards sharpening my focus on the things I want to do. I am a lover of clutter and piles of esoteric objects and I will probably never change that behavior, but I find that when it gets too hoardy in my house, my mind gets cluttered too, and I am frozen into a state of inaction. If I could just. find. my. paintbrush. (or whatever it is I am looking for). My aesthetic universe constantly wars between a curiosity shop and a zen temple. The curiosity shop almost always wins out :)

I'm taking a head-clearing trip to my beloved mountain soon---nothing sharpens the brain like deep- wilderness camping and communing with the gods of the wild places. I ate a fortune cookie this morning and the message inside said "you will have an encounter of a surprising nature". That one could go either way or any number of ways in between. Whatever it all means, change is in the air, both seasonally and spiritually, so it's time to catch that gust of wind and ride the updraft to whatever is next :)

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