Friday, October 31, 2008

True ghost stories

This drawing is from a sketchbook of mine from 1982 and the ONLY reason I'm posting it is because there is a ghost in it and it's Halloween. (Oh my....the only thing resembling me in that drawing is that layered hair in the process of growing out...and why the nightgown with the tight elastic wrists? Must have been the 1/2 inch thick pink synthetic flannel one my mom made that had elastic everywhere-I'm surprised elastic isn't around the neck too....okay, I better get going with the story because I'm getting too distracted with this drawing and not in a good way.) :-/

The guy on the left is my friend Kurt, also known throughout the neighborhood as "The Kid." He was a teaser. When he came over, he'd walk around the apartment with his arms over his head because he knew it really annoyed the cats. He also liked to mispronounce their names by adding an "s" to the front of them. I bring all this up because when he went to visit his sister in Connecticut, it drove her crazy because she lived in a house with a ghost. And when Kurt came to visit, he found ways to make the ghost crazy. The ghost would react to teasing by flicking the lights on and off. Kurt thought it was the funniest thing but his sister was not amused and kept telling him to stop tormenting the ghost.

My first ghost experience was late at night when I was a little kid in my bedroom sleeping...but I woke up when I heard some very slow footsteps walking around the house. Our house was carpeted. The footsteps were the sounds of feet on a harder surface. I grabbed all my blankets and pulled them over my head, got myself into a little ball and made sure my feet were covered and hidden too. In the morning I found out that my grandfather had passed away that night. My father couldn't sleep that night and neither could his two brothers in their homes. All three of them had smelled Musterole, a family cure-all. 

Another time I was getting ready for work and was in the shower shampooing my hair when I started to hear knocking on the walls in my studio apartment. The knocking was coming from all over, all sides of the walls, the ceiling... I knew that someone in my family had passed away and that they were saying good-bye but I was a little unsure as to how to acknowledge that since I was in the shower, naked, shampoo piled on top of my head. That's not how I want to be remembered. So what to do.....I ended up finishing washing my hair and then got on the phone to my dad to see what had happened. My wonderful and very cool Aunt Helen had unexpectedly passed away from a cerebral hemorrhage. 

The only other person in the family who experiences ghosts is my dad. And as always, his stories are always more dramatic than mine. :-) One winter my dad was repeatedly coming home to an open front door. If it had been open all day, the temperature inside the house would have changed. He figured that the door was opening just before he got home. Odd. He was talking about this with someone and seemed to think it was a friend of his that had passed away who was doing this (so Irish to suspect the supernatural but it was probably after accusing and yelling at my two brothers who he often times forgot had their own lives and homes of their own). This friend had written a book so my dad looked around the house to find it because there was a photograph of his friend in it and he wanted to show it to someone. I don't think he found the book. Maybe he had. But one time he returned home to find the book on the kitchen table, open to the last page, and the last sentence of the book read, "I am home." Creepy. But that confirmed to my dad who was doing this. I think the front door nonsense stopped but then a new level of ghost activity started. In the middle of the night when my dad was in bed, there was a lot of commotion in the kitchen. The cabinets would open and close and my dad could hear the sounds of a lot of people in the kitchen but when he would get up and go see what was going on....nothing. This happened several times and was freaking my dad out but it was funny to hear about the teen-age party ghosts that apparently my dad's ghost friend had invited over to the house. My dad said it was the oddest thing, he couldn't make out what anyone was talking about except one word, some ghost dude saying, "Yeeeeeeah." 

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Eve

I'm not sure why this witch has 14 cats. I would think she would set her limit at 13 but I guess when you have that many, what's one more? This postcard didn't scan too well because it's embossed and has a lot of gold on it. Click on the image if you want to see it in more detail.

What's written on the back to a Miss Esther Haey:

McAlveys Fort, Penn
October 27, 1921

Dear Cousin,
How are you? I am ok, and hope you are the same. I am going to school, are you? What are you going to do Halloween eve? I do not know what I will do. This picture on the other side is you and your black cats. Frank is going to be home Sat. I have a dog and 4 cats. How many have you? Well I must go to bed.
Earl Powell

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

October brides

Over the years I've collected a few wedding cake toppers (not a lot, just a couple). This era is one of my favorites because of the sweet expressions on the brides and grooms.

Hmmm...but this particular bride is looking a little concerned about things-she's got one eyebrow up, I wonder what she's questioning.

Occasionally when looking for cake toppers, I would run into the isolated bride. This little girl is probably from the 20s (she looks like a little flapper to me). 

No groom around but she looks pretty confident that he (or perhaps someone even cuter) will show up.

This one reminds me of a young Miss Havisham

When I was trying to photograph her, her ancient decrepit fragile veil kept flying off with any slight hint of a breeze. Seemed appropriate for the character.

And then there's this one. I have no idea what happened. It looks like she was thrown in the road, driven over, rained on and who knows what else. 

But she's a hell of a tough girl and nothing will get her down because she is made of iron.

For some reason, I have not yet found any isolated grooms. I was talking about this to one dealer and we both decided that maybe those missing grooms had run off with some younger dolls. :-)

Monday, October 27, 2008

What is this?

Errrgh. I put the turtles in their stock tanks in the basement for the winter but Michael was not ready to be confined yet. I don't blame him but cold is cold. If you're cold-blooded, you can't run around outdoors when the temperature is in the 50s. You can't. But turtles are stubborn and like I've mentioned many times, they don't compromise. A turtle is going to do what a turtle wants to do. So Michael had a tantrum, lifted himself up on his hind legs and hoisted himself over the side of his tank. Freedom to go anywhere he wanted and...

...this time he headed for the shelves which hold paint cans. I have no idea why but for some reason there was a little yogurt container filled with some paint left over for touch up painting and he found it. Crushed it. Got it allllllll over everything. Oh yes, got it on himself too. Can you see the color? Michael Ray managed to paint himself a very pretty Martha Stewart robin's egg blue. Errrrrgh.

Luckily the temperature outdoors was in the 60s when I discovered him all smug tucked behind the paint cans. Out we went and Michael got his little backside hosed down. The paint came off pretty fast (whew! but still....).

I had errands to run so I left him on the deck to dry off because he obviously was not happy about being indoors (only if it's his decision, NOT mine). I came back to find this...

You can't tell because the photo doesn't really show the depth, but Mr. Michael Ray had figured out a way to aim for one lower step and then brake before lowering himself to the next step. He has never done anything like this before. When he was little, he could fling himself over the side of the deck (a four foot drop!). Steps, luckily, were a little intimidating for him as he got bigger but Lucy, who was a smaller turtle, used to use the potted plants to buffer his descent from step to step downward. This is a whole new level of determination and stubbornness. So next year? Oh I'm sure I'll have some stories. But for now, I just let him loose in the yard for one last day of sunshine. It was not the best temperature for him to be outside but it was sunny and it was above 60 degrees and I know when I cannot win a battle of wills between me and Michael Ray.

Oh yes. if Michael Ray gets something, Cathy Jean wants it too. I found her trying to hoist herself out of her tank so I let her have one last day in the sun too, albeit a very cold day in the sun.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

It's warm. It's sunny. It's October.

When cold rain falls nonstop from a sky full of low-hanging dreary clouds, I forget that this is what happens just a day or two later...

One thing I love about fall is the golden light reflected from the trees that have changed color.

Just makes you happy standing under a canopy of such incredible yellow.

Some of the leaves have already started to drop from the trees.

In a couple days, Violet will help with the raking (she gets all the bags open for me). Right now, it's time to take advantage of some warm concrete under all that wonderful yellow.

The color this time of year is just crazy. It's so supersaturated.

See these snapdragons? When I bought them this spring, they were orange. They were orange for a long time until fall happened and then they decided to add a little crazy to their color. 

The cat that has adopted my yard as his, has been taking lots of naps on the glider, ignoring other cats that come up on the deck during the day and possums that come up at night.

I may not like him too much, but I do like those freckles on his face. 

Those whiskers poke out from a perfect grid.

But enough of this camera in his face business, he had things to do, but first a little stop to get  a drink.

I question the direction that goldfish is swimming...

...but everyone seems to be in a friendly mood on such a pretty, sunny day.

I just wish the sun stayed out as long as it does during the summer. I am missing those long days already but I suppose this fall color is like a finale in a fireworks display. The best show comes rapidly at the very end and get to have memories.

Friday, October 24, 2008

It's cold. It's rainy. It's October.

It's ironic that the colder it gets, the warmer the colors of the leaves get. I am already missing the days that last until 9 or 10 at night. :-( In a couple weeks, when Daylight Savings Time ends, this will be me in the tupperware...

So I'm putting up this little movie of a perfect summer night. Just to remind me that summer will happen again and fireflies will return and maybe next spring the peony bushes might surprise me with some flowers (doubtful, Michael Ray gets better at taking them down before they bloom every year, but for now I'm going to maintain a little hope).

This little movie was taken in July at Knuckleheads, a blues bar in the East Bottoms area of the Missouri River. It's a former boarding house built in 1887 that is located by the train tracks. That is a real train you see passing by in the background. Except for the guy playing the acoustic guitar, it was a perfect night. I thought he was a bad dancer and that maybe he should just stay still. Maja said he was imitating the people who were dancing below the stage. Errrgh. Did not like him one bit. But other than that, a really good memory of summer.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Springer spaniel

When I'm drawn to artwork, there's usually something familiar in it to me. Florals? They have to be flowers I'm growing in my yard. Art with starlings in it? I don't have to think about that one. Vintage rhinestone turtle pins? Old maids living with a parrot and a cat postcards? Yes and yes. So there is absolutely no reason for me to have come home with this charcoal drawing of a spaniel (at least I think it's a spaniel). I don't have a dog living with me. I have never had a dog of my own. One of these days I'd love to have one.....but so far, no reason for me to be so drawn to an image of a dog.

This drawing was probably done in the 1930s or 40s. I found it in an antique store in Independence, MO in the company of a lot of other drawings that this artist had drawn. The other charcoal sketches were of 1930s movie stars drawn from photos. Kind of interesting but they didn't have much personality. This drawing of a dog did. It's really a pretty drawing, the fur definitely looks like fur. But the thing that did it for me was the way the artist (a Miss Eleanor Catherine Orr) handled the reflection in the left eye. The way she erased a little spiral that looks like the number six. I just love that little touch and I have no idea why. Possibly because everything else is expertly done and that little spiral just makes no sense at all because it's so different from how everything else is handled in the drawing. But I'm rather drawn to that pouty little underbite too. :-)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

c1840 paper doll

This darling little girl was made by some little kid in the first half of the 19th century. She was found in an early book with the silk ribbon which may or may not have been part of her outfit. Here is her front...

...and when you turn her around, here is her back...

If you very, very carefully remove her dress by gently pulling it over her head, you can see her cute little undergarments. The dress is cut in one piece with an opening for the head. Once it's folded in half, her head fits through the neck opening and just the smallest of folds at the top of the shoulders holds her dress on. That dress is very secure on her once it's on however. I'm really surprised it's never been torn because it's a very tight fit. Little hands back then must have been extraordinarily patient and careful.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

One minute of your life that you will never get back...

I spent the day cleaning the bathroom getting it ready for some spot painting tomorrow. Since there is nothing in the bathroom now (even the medicine cabinet got cleared out), that room now has one fine echo. Something a parrot appreciates. One of Stella's favorite things is to imitate the sound of a door opening and closing while she's sitting on it. She usually is pretty accurate with her mimicking but probably because of the excellent echo in the bathroom, she keeps repeating her one favorite ear piercing squeaky door sound. It's usually more varied than what is going on in this video (but it's close enough). Welcome to the stupid sounds that happen in my house. The other sound you hear in the background is Eddie trying to participate.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

I have writer's block really bad. Actually, I am having an anything and everything about life block too. I feel like I've explored enough about me in this blog that I've gotten to the last page of the story of me.  I am clear on how and why I've done everything in my life. Subject matter? Got that covered too, down to the last mosquito in the backyard.  So what's left? Errrgh. I hate it when this block thing happens. I know it's part of the creative cycle and hopefully won't last too long but errgh, I hate this wasting time waiting for a spark of something to appear so I can get started again. I know I should work through it, that's probably why some of you have seen some recent posts appear....and then disappear. Ha ha ha.

Michael Ray does not have a block of any kind. When things get in his way, he literally pushes through them.  Makes me appreciative of him and his goals right now. I should be more like a turtle and just march through whatever is in my way, if I knew what that was. I wish it was as easy as what he's doing now... moving Stella's cage to a different part of the room. I forgot how much he likes to redo interiors  (the turtles are in the dining room right now because I'm waiting for the outdoors to warm up a bit so I can put them outside...maybe this will be their last day outdoors for the year, not yesterday).

In the meantime, I'm taking some time off from work and since I haven't felt very inspired or creative for a couple weeks, I'm going to take advantage of that and start doing some earnest cleaning. And maybe if I get rid of some dust and clutter and figure out how everything I own has made it to the floor, I'll feel a bit better about things. And then maybe I won't feel so bad about taking a picture of a turtle who is accumulating dust on his walks through the house. 

And I'll also be prepared for some good picture taking when Michael starts focusing on the dining room chairs and how they need to be moved to the back room that gets a lot of sun. That is one of the funniest things to watch....chairs moving down the hallway apparently all by themselves...if you weren't aware that you were living in a house with turtles.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Michael Ray's last outdoor photo for the year

And he was even less willing to have his picture taken today than he was last time. 

It's six months of boredom until he can spend his days outdoors again. Unfortunately for me, he will have six months to dream of the peonies and come up with a plan to take them down in even less time. It's what he does. :-/

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Symptoms of Drowsiness. Symptoms of Laziness.

This is a hand-colored print dated December 17, 1794 (click on the image to see a larger view of it).

And as for the subject matter? Since it's around midnight, I've decided Violet is drowsy and Violet has decided I'm lazy (because I can't come up with a good idea for a post) so we're calling it a night. :-)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Made a pot roast on Sunday and look who showed up for dinner.....

"Hey Lady....I dropped by for dinner but you seem to have the screen door latched shut.....I tried to open it with my nose but it's not budging. Oh, when you serve the pot roast, don't forget the gravy.....lots of it......... and keep it coming."

Huh???? I told him no. Tried to reason with him. Even poked his nose with my finger. The nerve. But he was adamant about his dinner plans.

This is not good, is it?

It's not like he's ever had dinner here before. 

I closed the door on the scamp and watched to see when he would go away. I have a feeling this is not the first house he's walked up to and asked for dinner. And I also have a feeling he's been studying the routes of the stray cats. He even knows the best spots on the deck to get a good view of what's going on inside the kitchen (like the cats). He even looks like a cat.

Why does bad have to be so darn cute?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sort of a theme here...

A couple weeks ago, the only bug I could find to photograph was a stinkbug. That was the bug of the day. Stinkbug in the backyard, stinkbug in the front yard (different colors so I know they weren't the same one). I don't see stinkbugs that often but when I do, I immediately revert to a six year old and imagine that I am going to be squirted with a skunk-strength stink. So then I just run away fast. But I've gotten a bit more comfortable with the bugs this past summer and surprised myself for being able to get so close to photograph this particular guy...but then he jumped backwards onto my face. Back to being a six year old. Aiyeeee! The previous insect I photographed a few weeks ago, the praying mantis, did the exact same thing. I know the bugs feel they fulfilled their photo opportunity duties this past summer and that they now feel entitled to being left alone. ALONE. I know that. I'm getting the message, I just don't want to hear it.

I'm not ready to end my photography for the year yet. But then, there just aren't that many bugs left in the backyard. :-/ They've either all left for the year or been snared by the many spiderwebs that traverse the yard. This guy has been outside the kitchen door on the deck for weeks. I've watched him (her?) get bigger and bigger and bigger. I thought maybe spiders used both sides of their webs but I have never, ever seen this guy's much preferable front side...therefore successfully eluding many picture taking opportunities for me (little smarty-stripey-pants).

I knew I had reached a desperation low in subject manner today when the only insect I could find to photograph was a mosquito. A mosquito (really, that is pathetic). And could it get worse? Oh yes, the mosquito ignored me. A  mosquito ignored me. 

The outdoors seems to have run its course for the year, but I still had the indoors, at least I thought...

Stella (who never is that happy to have her picture taken anyway) has had enough of being photographed too.




"What am I thinking?"


Okay, I get it. No more photographing insects (and probably Stella) until 2009. Makes me kind of sad because even though some of my guests this past summer were a bit of a strain, I will miss visiting with them. I just don't want to give that up yet but I guess the decision has been made for me.

But next year I'll be back and I'll have an even better camera. >:-)