Saturday, November 29, 2014

What I Did On Black Friday

I have essentially been boycotting Black Friday for years. The crowds, the noise, the excessive consumerism, the chance of bodily harm....not worth it for me and most of the stuff out there in the malls and big box retailers isn't what I want or would want to give to other people, or could even afford on sale. Last year I started a tradition of posting my alternative activities on this oh-so-American day (although I was appalled to see that it has spread to London!!!). Last year it was all about not getting dressed and drinking tea and reading books. This year, a trip to the coast and appreciating the dramatic beauty of our ocean:

Hobbity coastal forest

And look, another amanita!! 

It was so windy I could barely keep the camera straight to take this small snippet. The ocean foam was blowing off the sea and coating the shoreline like whipped cream.

All in all, much more refreshing than standing in line at Walmart :)

Today is Small Business Saturday and I will be leaving the house to visit a couple of local stores to pick up some small gifts. I am not anti-retail. I have Etsy shops after all! But I am a proponent of small businesses, whether on the web or based locally.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Video Games as Cultural Transmission

Never Alone
I play some video games. Occasionally, I watch other people play them online. I have always been fascinated with these games in the sense that they are one of the strongest widespread continuing storytelling traditions that we have in the modern world---the games themselves, with their story lines and their use of mythology or cultural mores, and also, the stories that gamers tell about games and their experiences playing them. By now you may have heard of Minecraft; this game has generated gazillions of different story lines, has its own terminology and its own legendary players.

I was really excited to come across a brand new game, Never Alone. This is the first video game to be created in collaboration with the Alaskan Inupiaq Native community.  The whole thing is based on an indigenous story about an extremely harsh blizzard and features a girl and her fox companion who go through eight chapters of adventure, in a puzzle-solving format, to find the source of the blizzard. I watched about an hour play-through of this game and in it I saw a variety of helping spirits (as depicted above) and an intriguing shaman-like character called Owl Man. The whole game is interspersed with asides that explain various cultural aspects. And, it is extraordinarily beautiful, with gorgeous animation.

This is genius. What a profoundly effective way to transmit intergenerational knowledge. And, it gives me hope. While I like video games and play them regularly (I'm big on sword and sorcery games) I realize that there is a lot of crap out there. Gratuitously violent, prurient, misogynist, empty, hollow. And wasteful of an excellent opportunity. Never Alone takes that opportunity and makes something fun, exciting, informational, beautiful and, dare I say, even spiritual---and it assures the preservation and transmission of at least a small amount of important cultural heritage.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Moss and Root

Hand-stamped ocean rock available here

My new handmade Etsy shop Moss and Root is up and running, just in time for the holiday season! Right now, I have a small selection of the ocean/river stones that I have personally collected and hand stamped with phrases. More will be on the way. It's ridiculous how many heart-shaped rocks I have collected over the years, but that's the ultimate benefit of being a hoarder. At any rate, I am offering my blog readers 10% off if you use the code YOUROCK at checkout. xoxo

Thursday, November 6, 2014

More Amanitas!

I was surprised to come across these amanita muscaria at a coastal wayside. As you can see from the above picture, it looks like they are growing in a combination of pine needles and sand, which I was not aware they could do.

These seemed to be in an advanced state of decay, beginning to turn into mush. But how fabulous to see them in a place where I had never seen them growing before. A true harbinger of fall :)