Tuesday, February 28, 2012

March Full Moon - Worm

The March full moon has a lot of names, and it's coming up on the 8th.

The Worm Moon is the name you'll find probably most often in a search, as it appears to be the most well known.  The March moon was given that name because it represents the time when the worms start to come up out of the soil, which attracts the robins, whose return is a sure sign of spring.


The graphic for this one was a toughie.  I originally wanted to go grittier and make it photo-realistic, so I spent the entire morning embedding a photo of a real earthworm into a photo of the full moon.  After three hours and about 10 Photoshop filters, it was done, and I was proud of it, until I was hit with the sudden realization that it was pretty damn seriously gross-looking.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think there's any way to make a photograph of an earthworm look appealing, you know what I mean?  So, I went cartoon-y, and there you go.  The cuddly pink guy you see above started off with a big, happy smile, but then it occurred to me that he's about to be devoured by a robin, and he certainly has to know it, since, you know, nature and all.  So, he's wearing a look of understandable concern.  Because of the inevitable robin.

There'll be more to come for the March full moon.  The Worm Moon's just the beginning....

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

March 2012 Desktop Calendar

Here's a desktop calendar page you can use for March, either printed out or on your computer desktop.

Enjoy!

Click to embiggen!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Did You Know These Even Existed?

I didn't, til I bought some yesterday.




"Tim Burton's Playing Cards"

They're made by Dark Horse Comics.  Check you local comic shop for them, because brick-and-mortar stores need to be supported!

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cemetery Photos Part 3

Now for a few of the larger, more in-your-face gravemarkers in the cemetery.

Most of the big fancy monuments in our cemetery are made in pretty much exactly the same style, no matter how many years or decades stand between them.  They've all got urns on top, with only slight differences in design:






And these aren't even all of them.  There are very few exceptions, like the one you can see in the background a couple photos up that has a big ball on top, and this one, which looks much more modern than the rest, but still dates back to the mid 1800's:


This poor guy outlived three wives.  The "Irving" listed on the side of the stone lived til 1917.  I'm assuming he had to be a son.

Anyway, here's the one and only example I found of a monument with a completely different style urn than all the rest:


When I was a kid, I always thought that the thing on top was a peach with a big leaf sticking off it.  Now I realize it's an urn with some kind of cloth hanging out of it.

The many, many urn-topped monuments in the cemetery are actually the newer ones.  Well, the newer old ones, anyway.  The oldest ones are all obelisks and pillars.  And considering how small our cemetery is in comparison to the average, there's a lot of them.  The vast majority of the obelisks have freemason symbols on them, usually on their backs.  There are four in this photo alone, and it only represents half of one row of the cemetery:


And then there's the big daddy of the mason monuments (in this cemetery, anyway):  the gravesite of a family actually named "Mason".


I had a terrible time trying to take pictures of this one yesterday.  The sun was in a very bad spot when I was there, and the statue's front was cast in shadow no matter what angle I tried from.  The whole reason the idea came to me to take these pictures at all was this statue.  Can you believe I'm getting on toward 40 and I never once, in my entire life, noticed the damn thing was there until now?  All the dozens of times I've been there and I never saw it.  Or my eye continuously passed over it.....the biggest thing in the whole cemetery.  The reason was the huge tree that was in front of it, it's branches hanging down and obscuring the statue, until a couple months ago when a wind storm did a lot of damage to the area.  Now the tree's gone and the statue's gone back to being the first thing that draws the eye when you look at that particular plot of land.

So, anyway, this statue is standing in the middle of a cordoned-off gravesite that sits on a raised kind of berm.  All four sides of the monument are covered with the names of extended family, some of which appear to still be alive, since there are inscriptions for them but no death dates.  And sadly, there's even mention of the loss of an unnamed baby,  which isn't uncommon on the older monuments.

The best photo I took all day was of the back of the statue, because the sun was shining in just the right direction to make the colors of the sky and the statue pop:


And because we're covering the freemason-related graves in this entry, I'll throw this one in as well, to finish things up.


The cold weather kept me from spending a ton of time reading things, but from what I DID read, as far as I can tell, this is the original cemetery.  The oldest spot.  I may be missing something, and when I go back again to look things over more closely, I'll retract if I have to, but I'm 80% sure this is it.  The pillar rising above the rest of the headstones has a mason symbol on the back of it, and all the stones neatly lined up to its right belong with it.  They were put in around the 1830's, and are much thinner than the headstones laid in later decades.  I imagine that's why a few of the ones in the back are broken.  That neat row of stones in the middle that's associated with the pillar are very interesting.  There are inscriptions I'm extremely interested in doing some rubbings of, as that might make it possible to read them.  And all of them have a simple rendering of a willow tree stamped at the top.  Mysterious!

So, that's it for cemetery photos!  For now, anyway.  We have one in a nearby town that's listed on the historic register, and it's much bigger and higher-hillier than ours.  And possibly older.  And there's supposed to be all kinds of neat stuff going on in there, with mausoleums and all.  So stay tuned!

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Cemetery Photos Part 2

Here's a sampling of the less ostentatious headstones that make up my family's cemetery.

It's hard to make out, but these ones say "father", "mother", and "sister".  They would seem to go along with the gravesite setup I posted about in the last entry.  There should be a big fancy placemarker to go with them.  But there isn't, and there isn't any trace of one having been in their vicinity, which is weird.  The only thing I can think is that there was a big fancy placemarker, but it was broken down or fell over a really, really long time ago, and was maybe too damaged to fix?  But that doesn't seem likely, because we have lots of broken gravestones in the cemetery, that either were patched with concrete, or are left laying carefully on their sides in the spot where they originally belonged.  Hmmm...


This one sits all by it's lonesome.  I shouldn't have cropped so much out of the photo, because it makes it hard to tell how small this one actually is.  It's pretty little, and it's for "Lucy May".  It's already been broken and patched back together, as you can see if you look near the bottom of the headstone.  I imagine someone tripped over it or the lawnmower hit it.  Or maybe there was a dramatic intrigue where Lucy May was a teenager who did something considered unacceptably shocking like having a baby with a married man, and died in childbirth, and was afforded only a barely-there placemarker for a gravestone, and some self-righteous jerk in the community came and kicked it down, so Lucy May's poor, devastated father came and patched it back together......... ahem....or something.


These ones are super tiny.  They sit right up against the road in the oldest part of the cemetery, and they're not associated with any big fancy placemarkers or larger family groups of headstones.  The second from the left is one that has fascinated me since I was a kid.  It says nothing on it but "D. A. R."  and it's small enough to be a knick knack on a shelf.  I guess I think it's so interesting because it's a good representation of the kind of mystery you always find in old cemeteries:  people whose gravestones leave no clues as to who they were or what their life was like.  D.A.R. could have been an incredibly poor person who couldn't afford a headstone, or a rich, influential person who died with some kind of shame on their head that led the community to make their eternal resting place as invisible as possible.


This one is for "Jane".  She was the wife of.....somebody whose name has faded considerably.  She died in February of 1871.  This headstone shows off a good representation of a common problem with the oldest, round-topped, white-colored stones in the cemetery.  The vast majority of them have inscriptions stamped onto the bottom, under the names and dates, but they're all written in the same type of script writing, which makes it pretty much impossible to read them once they've been worn down.  I suppose doing some rubbings might be the answer....maybe when it's warmer, though.  I didn't make too much of an effort on this particular trip to get close-ups and such, because it was ridiculously bitter cold out.  We're planning to go back in the spring.  Maybe then.  Anyway!  One of the most interesting things about our cemetery is the noticable lack of crosses.  You'd think there aren't any at all until you go to the newer section and find them on the mid-20th century graves.  I'm wondering, though, if all the inscriptions I can't make out on the old graves are scripture-related.  We'll have to see....


Here's an example of another common trait shared by nearly all of the old headstones in our cemetery:  there's no birthdate, just the death date, and the length of the person's life is counted out by years, months, and days.  The two headstones in the foreground belong to Alexander and his wife Irena.  According to his stone, Alexander lived for 69 years, 7 months, and 9 days.  Irena lived for 72 years, 2 months, and 18 days.  Alexander died in the early 1870's, and Irena died in the late 1880's.  If they had kids, I don't think they're buried alongside their parents, because these headstones sit on their own.  In fact there's a lot of headstones in this section of the cemetery that represent married couples, but you don't see any graves for the children sitting with them.  Maybe they were people whose kids all moved away.

Next entry:  Big fancy placemarkers.  We've got an eye-opening number of freemason-related obelisks and and one great big statue for a freemason family actually named "Mason".

_

Cemetery Photos Part 1

I grew up in an old area with a lot of old families, so the cemetery where my family members are buried is mostly made up of old graves.  On our visit there today, it suddenly occurred to me to take some pictures.  Because old gravestones, especially really old gravestones, are cool.

I'll start off with The Weirdness, because we still haven't figured this one out, and maybe someone reading this will see it and leave a comment saying, "I know EXACTLY what that means!"  And I'll leave it to that person to fill in the rest.


The little "W"'s are all over the place.  Little tiny stone W's.  When we saw the first one, we thought maybe it was a grave marker for some family whose name started with W who couldn't afford a real headstone.  This area's never been real flush with wealth, and there are numerous headstones that are about as simple and small as you can go.  But then we saw another, and another....and all in the old section, which admittedly, is 80% of the entire cemetery.  Then I noticed that they tend to be placed in spots that are next to the pathways and remnants of pathways, so I started to wonder if they're placemarkers for, well, the pathways.  But why the "W"?

Now, when I was a kid, we used to go over there more than we do now, mainly in the summer.  I always liked to go, because there were a lot of trees and the place was always breezy and sort of magically mysterious.  The newer section was boring to me, because the headstones were generic-looking, so I'd go walking off to the old section, which is dotted with headstones that range from surprisingly large to really astonishingly small.  There are a LOT of these:



When I was young, I thought that these gravestones belonged to people that were SO poor, they couldn't afford anything more than a tiny marker with "mother" or "son" printed on it.  I thought maybe you had to pay by the word, like a classified ad in the newspaper.  And when I saw these:


I thought they were the graves of the people who had more money, and could afford elaborate headstones with printing on all four sides and the inevitable urn sculpted on the top like the focal gem on a crown.  It wasn't until I was an adult that I had a slap-the-forehead moment, and realized that the two types of headstones are partnered to make up one actual gravesite:


There's the big fancy placemarker, which isn't a headstone at all, and then either branching off to the left and right or facing opposite, are the actual graves, which are marked with little stones:  "mother", "father", "daughter", etc.  I wouldn't have figured this out at all, probably, if I hadn't noticed that some of the tiny headstones, instead of saying "son" or whatever, had first names printed on them that were matching up with nearby big fancy placemarkers.



I know there may be a lot of you out there going, "Dude, seriously?  You didn't know that?"  but no, I really didn't.  I felt like Sherlock Holmes when I finally figured the whole thing out.  I still kind of do, actually, so....ahem.


I'm going to spread these photos out over a few entries, since there's so many.  Coming up:  Freemason symbols galore, and some tiny headstones that really are super-small and bare-faced because of a lack of funds, and some great big ones that really are big because that person had bucks.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Paper Theatre - Don't Shove! You'll All Get Your Turn In The Boiler!

Okay, I never thought anything would top The Temptation of St. Anthony.  But, it appears I was oh, so wrong....

Let me introduce you to.....La Chaudiere Infernale!



This little beauty is basically The Theatre of Hell.  "La Chaudiere Infernale" translates to mean "The Infernal Boiler", though this particular version of Hell isn't so much scary as interesting and hilarious.  The flags across the front say something to the effect of "Commoners and millionaires alike are equal in hell.  Trust us, you won't feel the cold anymore once you're down here."  And there's something about "the bite that cures...." but I couldn't get the translator to translate the last phrase.

Anyway, the scene here is of people going on trial in hell, to decide whether they'll be cast into the pit.  You're given judges and prosecutors, bailiffs, court reporters.....if it exists in a courtroom, this paper theatre includes some weird demon version of it for you to use in the scene.  The demons here are variations on the ones used in the St. Anthony theatre:  they're shaped like normal humans except for their tails and the fact that their horned heads are mysteriously green.  The ones that aren't dressed in court robes are, similar to the St. Anthony theatre, clad in nothing but pairs of dorky bermuda shorts, which is just.....wow.


What's even stranger is that the strangeness stops abruptly with the King and Queen of Hell, who I'm assuming are there either to preside over the trials, or observe them.  One way or the other, they're both suspiciously normal-looking, although by the looks of the ground at their feet, they're appropriately fire-proof:


The other great thing about this one is the people that are there to be tried.  You'd think they'd be murderers and sickos, considering they've been sent to Hell and all, right?  Nope.  Not that they haven't done bad things, but, well, I'll let you judge for yourself.  This lady....


She's "the vain one which ruined its household for its toilet".  I'm assuming she cheated on her husband and probably didn't make a secret of it.  That seems like hell-worthy material.  Moving on....


This woman was "the commercial one of fish which in sold that rotted".  So, she's a fish seller who sold bad fish.  Hmmm...if she knowingly sold bad fish, I guess that's pretty evil....  Next.


This one is "the dairywoman which falsified its milk".  Okay, I have no idea what the frick that's supposed to mean.  She sold fake milk?  Is that even possible? I guess it must be pretty bad, if she ended up in hell for it.  She looks like she's trying to repent, though.  Maybe they'll let her off.


This dude ups the ante a little.  He's "the reveller who has eats his fortune in orgies and did not make a good in its life".  Woof.  I doubt they're going to give this guy too much leeway, because, you know, orgies....they're bad, right?  His yuck factor alone is going to count against him.


This guy's baffling crime was that he's "the greengrocer who mixed with the chicorey has his coffee".  I suppose the greengrocer's only chance for freedom lies in whether or not the King and Queen of Hell are the type who enjoy chicory as a coffee substitute.


"La Chaudiere Infernale" is really elaborate, full of numerous accessories that would never fit onto the stage if you tried to use every single one of them at once.  Chairs, tables, soapboxes, rocky outcroppings....there's a ton of stuff.  Another interesting feature is that every item and person is double-sided.  This is a very cool feature, because the chairs are rad skeleton-y type deals, and they couldn't be shown off from the front, because of the people sitting in them.

Have fun!  Click the images to embiggen.






Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Colors - Green

GREEN


*************************************************************************************


The symbolism of green is pretty simple and straight-forward. There's not all that much to it, but that's not to say it can't be one of the most important colors, especially if you'd like to focus on being healthy and balanced.

 

You just know there's, like, faeries and unicorns running around in there.
Green's most obvious meanings have to do with nature. Where brown is about digging a comfortable burrow into the deep, warm, secure embrace of Mother Earth, surrounded by the strong, permanent roots of the tree trunks, green is about busting up out of the earth, reaching for the sun, and feeling the cool air on your face. Green is about growth, freshness, and recovery.


 

Ma!  Send down some pistachio ice cream and a couple dill pickles!
Some of green's strongest symbolism has to do with fertility, which, well, duh. Growing things, whether it be plants or babies, is green's forte. If you're having trouble conceiving, after you've done the most important thing, which is to consult with your doctor, green is the color that will be most useful in giving you the boost you're going to need. Get some houseplants. If you're one of those people who doesn't exactly have a green thumb (raising my own hand here), even realistic fake plants can have a very soothing visual effect. If you'd like to do something more pro-active, and this kind of thing is up your alley, make a shrine. Festoon it with green accents like cloths, garlands, ribbons, etc, and photos or artwork of images that speak to you personally about your predicament. Light some green candles and sit quietly with it every day, focusing on a calm positivity regarding baby-making, trying your best to avoid a desperate, panicky vibe. If it's your thing, ask your deity of choice for strength and support.



Nobody told ME it was dangerous to play hockey on the roof!
Physical healing is also within green's domain. If you want to show a friend or loved one that you'd like to help them make a full recovery, focus loving energy into a green object and give it to them to keep nearby It can be anything, but it doesn't necessarily have to be an object like a figurine or a stone. We're all aware that it's an automatic instinct to surround people who are ill with flowers and greenery. As a side note, though, as beautiful as flowers are (I enjoy getting them, myself), you basically have to kill them to make a gift of them, because you can't exactly put a garden plot inside a hospital or bedroom. A potted plant will have a more positive effect, if you're trying to go for healing.



I can see all the way to the gentlemen's club from here!
If you're stressed and uncomfortable due to the feeling that your life is off-kilter, green is the color you need. "Balance" and "Harmony" are two of green's watchwords. If you feel like there are parts of your life that are overtaking everything else and throwing the whole shebang out of whack, green is the color that can help calm the storm and get you to a place where you can start thinking through solutions. Get yourself a green notebook and a green pen and start writing down what you think is causing the problem and ideas for how you can lessen its power so that other sectors of your life can start shining through again.


Green is like a hippie midwife who knows lots of natural remedies and not only never raises her voice, but genuinely never seems to get angry about anything. It's definitely one of the most helpful colors out there, and in the right shade, can be one of the most soothing.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

101 Songs - No One Is Completely On Your Side

From the musical "Chess", which had a very new wave 80's style, so this could just as easily be a pop song, which now that I think of it, it was.  Wasn't it a big hit in Europe?


Wednesday, February 08, 2012

February Full Moon - Snow

Snow Moon graphic I made just now because being awake in the middle of the night leads to messing around in Photoshop.


Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Snow Moon Mobile

A quick evening project:

Tonight's full moon is the Snow Moon.  So here's a very simple mobile to commemorate it.


I simplified this one down to it's bare bones, so that you could make it with only a needle, thread, and the materials provided here, but you can embellish it however you want, with beads, ribbon, etc.

Here are the printouts.  You can print them out any size you like, but just make sure to print out two of each, so you can glue them together to make everything double-sided. 





Skeleton Castle!

Yay!!  I'm so pleased with this one, I could bust!  It came out even better than I hoped it would, which doesn't happen all that often with my art projects.


Skeleton castle!!

I got the little castle-shaped birdhouse at Michael's for a buck.  And that's pretty much all the money I spent to make this one.  The amount of ink and paper it took to print out the images was negligible, and it only took one black Sharpie and one gold Sharpie to paint it....it's pretty much the epitome of a budget art project.

Here's a close-up of the skeletons:


Remember the coffin box project?  Same skeleton.  A little messing around in Photoshop to separate his arms from his body made it possible to re-arrange them, which led to 5 different versions, some with swords, some without.

The trees came from a Google Images search for "dead tree silhouette".  The image started off black, but since that wouldn't work against the black background, I did a little more futzing around in Photoshop to make it brown.  It actually has, like, three different filter effects on it, to make it look more standy-outy and weathered, but they definitely did not translate well when printed out at such a small size, especially the ones on the front of the castle, which were printed out at 1 1/2 by 1 1/2 inches.  It's a pretty minor problem, though, in the end.

The cutting was a bear on this one, as the images are pretty damn small.  For anyone wondering, no, I actually didn't go in with an X-acto knife and cut all the inner parts of the trees.  I painted them black in Photoshop before I even printed them out.  My paper-cutting skills like a challenge, but I'm not that crazy.
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Friday, February 03, 2012

Isn't He The Cutest?



Oh, Mirran Crusader! You are my new boyfriend forever and always! I will never stop loving you! Even when you're eventually rotated out and become illegal, I will build you a shrine to commemorate your majesty! And when you are paired with Angelic Destiny, you are the sexiest of Human Knight Creatures!
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