Creating Beauty

As a child, I was frightened by a humongous Kissy doll. At 3, it was as big as I was and when you pulled it's hands together it made a smacking or a supposed kissing sound. I was sure it would get up and get me......making smacking sounds as it neared my bed.

Now I make dolls.....some are supposed to be scary, but most just reflect how I look at beauty. To me we have a very narrow view of what beauty is and is not. I have cerebral palsy and don't think I'm whining about it I'm not. I'm lucky my case is very mild compared to some people's. But you can pick me out as different, I walk awkwardly, but my arm and leg work correctly.....for someone with a partially paralyzed arm and leg.

I look like someone with CP is supposed to and in my way I'm attractive. I try to reflect alternative beauty in the dolls I create and so in some ways I'm still dealing with fear, but now it's not my own.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Season of the Ghost- Ghosts of infinite Sweetness

The gentlest ghosts I've ever run into have to be the animal spirits I've dealt with over the years.

The woods behind the house I lived in as a little girl was magical. In the summer it was densely green with moss, fat old leafy trees, may flowers and lush patches of purple violets. I used to go and pick bunches of violets almost every day.

On these little forays, I would often see these tiny little white wisps of something. When they'd zip past me barely touching my skin, I'd think of running up a tree and the roughness of bark; digging in the earth or curling up with a bunch of other tiny warm bodies and going to sleep. Sometimes I'd be a hunter stalking my food and eating it. Those violent images scared me at first, but I did know not everything could live by just eating berries and I came to understand the hunter spirits.
When I was around 7, I felt I was going to be so much braver than last summer start going further into the woods than the area just behind our house. Well, I picked my usual bunch of violets and started back in the direction I thought would take me back home. I was so wrong.

The trees and plants got more tangled and dense and the sun was barely visible through the canopy of trees. I panicked and started to cry. Suddenly I felt a light touch on my arm. I turned and saw one of my little wisps. It was one of my hunter sprits. I followed it over a fallen tree trunk, through a dense area of tall grass and May flowers. The trees started to thin and I could see the sun again. Looking carefully I could see a few wisps floating near an opening that lead to the edge of the wood. I had come out on the opposite side of the woods near my friend Vicky's house. I just had to go up the street in front of her house, cut through the high school's football practice field and I was just a short ways from a road that would take me to my street.

I ran all the way thanking my little wispy friends as I headed home.

The photos are ones MJ took of 2 of my rescue cats. Spats is the black cat and the other is Max Perkins.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Crochet Memories-Will I?

 When I was kid, I learned to crochet and knit from this great magazine ...McCall's Needlework and Crafts.  With stretchy metallic cord, wondrous beaded Juliet caps and sparkly bauble rings just seemed to jump of my crochet hook.  Yeah, I know, where does a 13 year old wear a Juliet cap?  But it's so pretty. The bauble rings, well you can wear those pretty much anywhere until the bitch squad at Tallmadge Jr. High add the weird rings to their list of why they hated the only disabled kid in school.

Don't think for a second I still feel bad about being the target gimp in school.... I don't. Karma was my friend and now I feel sorry for most of my tormentors.  My appearance and appeal could only improve as I grew up and worked on my intellect and my people skills.  When you peak at 16, you have a long sad journey as you spiral down. Especially if you blow up to 200 lbs and aren't any nicer or more mature than you were than you were 16.

But anyway, my dream dress of 1973 was this Guinevere maxi dress. I was in chorus in 7th through 9th grade and we performed 3 or 4 times a year. Now I had a place to wear my Juliet cap! My Mom helped me make the dress and I was set for the concert! Now to be brutally honest, I'm pretty much tone deaf, so even though I enjoyed chorus it was good there were 90 other singers.  And the idea of 90 little girls in maxi dresses singing Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow is bizarre.

But you know what.... I looked freaking wonderful in that dress and my Juliet cap and bauble ring had beads that matched the turquoise in the granny squares exactly and I sang my tone deaf heart out. I don't know how the people next to me felt, but I had a great time.

I was looking at vintage crochet patterns on Etsy today and guess what I found?  My Guinevere dress.
It's  a 3.00 PDF and I'm tempted.  MJ's boss is having a birthday party in Nov..... No. Not the whole dress.  I  was thinking of getting the pattern and doing it as a tunic in black with jewel colors to wear with a nice skirt or pants or may be a knee length dress. We'll see.  :)

Will you still love me tomorrow?

Yeah, still love this dress.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Scary Monkeys... Part two

Now evil monkeys can be scary, but these monkeys I'm talking about here like the trained chimps in Lancelot Link. Lancelot Link -the Doctor Goes Ape. They're scary only in the sense of the creepiness of dressing up and training fairly intelligent animals to imitate human behavior.

Don't get me wrong, I  am not like some people who are intimidated by animals closely related to us.  In many ways Chimps seem like humans with even less impulse control than we have.....which is why they can be so violent when provoked. We, as humans, often have such a thin veneer of civility and compassion that dressing up a so called lessor being and forcing it to act like us seems hypocritical. In many ways, we're so much more cruel.

                                                                         Now this sadness or revulsion I have about trained apes was why I had my alter ego Chat Noir create magical apes with their own set of abilities and regret it.  The saving grace of her chimps is that they are tiny and not stronger than a human so if they get really angry they aren't quite as dangerous as a real chimpanzee.

It's funny, but I feel odd about even making these figures sometimes.  Art you make even though it upsets you is hard to do.

Scary Monkeys....part one

What are the scariest creatures created for a movie? For me, it was the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz.    I tried my hand at making a flying monkey and I think my Tango is pretty creepy too.  I've never cared for the wings on the back of the I incorporated the wings into the arms.  I wonder how people like the look of the wing/arms combo. I'm designing a second winged monkey and will continue the combined arms unless it really might put off buyers. Let me know what you think.

One scary monkey TV movie I remember watching as a 13 yr old that creeped me out was this film called either A Cold Way to Die or what I knew it as The Chill Factor.  I love that this version even has the old TV movie opening.  If you watch it, I hope it creeps you out too.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Halloween Cats

 I love my cats. By Crazy Cat Lady standards, I have just enough cats to keep me ....and the cats happy.   So It's quite natural that this cat love sneaks into my doll making.

For Halloween I've been adding my winged Flutter cats and my Futark Feline Familiars.

Now the Flutter cats I designed because I wanted to do something winged for Halloween that wasn't a bat.  These black and white versions are rather small ....around 5 or 6 inches in height and made of cotton fabric with a black and white print. For those of you interested in a larger or a plush version, I'm finishing up my first large Flutter cat (he's about the size of an actual house cat and made of pastel turquoise plush) which I will be listing as soon as I've secured his wings properly.

Now for those of you interested in different forms of fortune telling, these Futark  Felines are cats with actual runic symbols embroidered on them. Each cat has it's own fortune appliqu├ęd  or embroidered on to the head and body of the cat. Yes, I read the runes for each sculpture and  use the results in the piece.

The Pet Shop of The Old Ones pieces like these cats are part of the overall story that ties all of my magical animal sculpts together. Basically, my alter ego Chat Noir has the ability to create magical creatures from  injured animals she rescues as well as just designing and creating magical creatures. It's the family business for like 15 generations.

Me, I like fantasy stories and I hope my customers do too, so I give all the animals a history and a specific purpose. Like the Feline Familiars were specifically created to be companions to Wizards and they have their own specific powers to aid in spell casting and protection.

Now, if you want a Flutter cat or a Familiar, and I don't have one in a color or pattern you like, I do make custom animals. Also, if you have an idea for any other kind of animal...I'm willing to make it for you. Feel free to contact me here or through my Etsy  shop and I'll do my best to create the cat or creature of your dreams.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

and now for a musical interlude....

One of the really fun monster movies from the 50's is The Blob. One of the things I love is this bouncy little theme song.
 Yes, the auto embed still doesn't work. :(

What other horror/ monster movies have cool theme songs or music?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Monster Movies- Fiend Without a Face

Here's little present for you.....what could be better than invisible brain sucking monsters. I'd link you to this right here but the auto embed isn't working for iPads or some such crap so this link will put you over to youtube.... Fiend Without A Face
I think the sound the brain sucking monsters make is what gets me and I've watched this sucker hundreds of times. Oh, and lines like "we'll just have to risk it ... We need more power. Take some more rods out of the nuclear reactor."  If you take the time to watch Fiend, you'll have to leave a comment and let know what you think.  :)
Yeah, I know...they don't stay invisible forever... Great little monsters...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Season of the Ghost- A White Ball of Fluff

Animal ghosts are the most delicate and timid of least the ones I've run into. It probably has a great deal to do with them being cat spirits. I can't imagine a dog ghost being timid.

In one of my Earlier stories I told you about Great Grandpa Albert. He wasn't the only ghost in MJ's Grandmother's house.

His Grandmother kept several cats and I'd see their ghosts on occasion. A cat ghost is just a delicate wisp and just flutters by you like a cool breeze.

One little wisp used to hang around with me when I was sharing MJ's studio in one of the upstalirs bedrooms. She was a quick little ball of fluff and my impression of her was that she had been a little white cat with dark patches. I'd often catch a glimpse of her zipping ahead of me on the stairs as I headed for the studio.

Quite often I'd feel a cool patch next to my paint palette. She liked sitting on the work table next to me and watching me work.

I only saw little Fluff completely motionless once. I entered the studio and there she was sitting on the table waiting for me. The house was converted into offices when it was sold and I often wonder if anyone there has a little wisp of a companion who sits beside them and watches them work.

This photo is one MJ took of one of our rescues, Kirby. Unfortunately Kirby became ill and couldn't be saved. I haven't seen him around the house yet, but who knows? :)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Season of the Ghost- The Man in the Window

This story is one that in some way makes me the saddest. I felt that Albert was always lonely and I don't like to think of him alone in a house that's different from what he remembers from when he was alive. I always hope that the white fluff and Albert find each other.

When I started dating MJ way back in 1983, he was living in his Grandma's house. She had died recently, so he and his brother were acting as caretakers.

This was an interesting old place. Albert, MJ's Great Grandfather, had built this house and the one next to it. It was 2 stories and huge. It had a big kitchen that opened up to a room with a fire place and from there, that room led to a short breezeway with small paned windows that looked
out onto the front yard. At the end of this breezeway was a shop where MJ's Grandfather had had his saw saw sharpening business.

One late afternoon MJ and I arrived at the house and parked in front of the breezeway windows. As we got out I looked up and saw an elderly man peering out at me. Since I knew MJ and his brother were the only ones living there, I was a bit startled for a second. I paused and MJ asked me what was wrong. I replied that I was fine...we'd only been dating a week or 2 and wasn't ready to have the I see ghosts regularly talk yet.

Well, I kept my eyes open, got closer to MJ and as we were getting more serious I told him about some of my ghostly encounters. I decided to wait on discussing the elderly ghost until I had done a little more investigating. In the old saw shop area, all kinds of family papers and pictures had been stored. There was a beautiful old velvet covered photo album with a lovely photo of MJ's Paternal Great Grandma and a bunch of pictures no one in the family could identify. So, my quiet search for the id of the man in the window continued.

One night we parked in our usual spot and the elderly man appeared in his window. He started like fog and solidified. I casually asked MJ if there was a white haired man that worked with his Grandfather in the saw shop. MJ replied that his Granddad worked alone. "Well then who is the old white haired guy peering out the middle window?" Before I could tell him that I was just seeing a ghost, MJ rushed in through the breezeway door and found no one.

We had a long talk and I described the ghost's white hair, large nose and red and brown plaid flannel shirt. MJ went upstairs and rummaged around forever. Finally he came down with a small stretched canvas. "I painted this when I was a kid, " he said and turned the canvas so I could see it.... a Jr high art style portrait of a white haired man with a large nose wearing a brown and red plaid flannel shirt. "He was my Great Grandfather Albert. He's the guy who built this house. When he was alive, what is now the old saw shop was his apartment."

MJ never saw Grandpa Albert, but felt cold spots in the shop when I would see him looking out of the window. He never responded to me when I tried to speak to him and no one else ever saw him. Even after Mike's Dad sold the house, sometimes I'd see Albert looking out his window when we'd drive by the house. To this day, I wonder if he's still watching and who he's waiting for.

Here's another spooky MJ illustration to dress up my post.:)

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Friday, October 11, 2013

Old Horror Movies-Brides of Dracula

I know it's an English film, but this poster is more dramatic.  Photography is an art form, but
I just prefer painted posters.
A young teacher on her way to a position in Transylvania helps a young man escape the shackles his mother has put on him. In so doing she innocently unleashes the horrors of the undead once again on the populace, including those at her school for ladies. Luckily for some, Dr Van Helsing is already on his way.
Mlle. Danielle(on right) another teacher and the headmistress... or innocent bystander, love interest and lunch
(IMDB plot synopsis)

One of my all time favorite vampire movies. I love Peter Cushing's Van Helsing. When I first saw it, the idea of a blonde vampire was unusual, so I liked that aspect of the casting. 
My favorite Van Helsing. 
The vampire as an elite spoiled brat amuses me too.  I like the Baroness even though she raised a brat. Probably because she eventually admits it and lives to honestly regret it.

What a miserable son...turning Mom into a vampire
The maid, Greta, I like because she calls the Baroness on indirectly turning her son into a monster. When she goes mad and starts helping Baron Meinster and his brides, the actress really chews the scenery. I especially like the scene where she's laying on the ground by a grave encouraging a new bride to dig her way out.... Shudder.
Greta encouraging a new bride to dig her way out.
The script writers played with vampire rules in interesting ways in this film. Van Helsing burns a bite with a branding iron and douses it with holy water to save himself. Oh and he does kill Meinster with a a way.

Baron Meinster...after lunch
If you like old school vampire movies, the Hammer horror films are some of the best. Curl up with some popcorn and catch a great vampire romp.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Season of the Ghost- Dead Babies in a Burning Car

Yeah, I know weird, nasty title. The phrase is one I learned from an old boyfriend who was a photojournalist. He had a professor who felt this was one of the ultimate photo ops for a photojournalist. I use the phrase when I see something really horrific happen. And sometimes I can just be a w/bitch.

Well, today I have a sad little story. And yes, this one deals with another Ouija board. MJ and I were at a friend's house for pizza and a video. Maggie, Bob and their roommate, Alex were all telling gruesome stories. Bob always seemed to like to try to upset me or gross me out the point of nausea. Maggie seemed to like to pick at me and make feel less than human. But I put up with the crap cause MJ was friends with Alex and Bob. The negativity of the house's energy didn't help either. Negative people seem to collect negative spirits.

We got talking about ghosts, psychics etc and I related the Flaming Gary story. Maggie insisted on us trying out her Ouija board. I was in no mood, but I was annoyed enough with the whole miserable evening to agree....the environment had some bad vibes and the idea of scaring Bob and Maggie was appealing. .....Hey, I'm human, okay?

So the board came out and we started off. It wouldn't work unless I had a fingertip on the planchette. We had a few spirits that answered a few yes or no questions, but one kept showing up and it had a message for Shelly.

Maggie wanted to stop then, but the ghost or whatever was determined. It wanted to talk to Bob...well Bob was not happy and Maggie was pissed. Apparently Bob had had a relationship with this chick, Shelly, before he met Maggie and fathered a kid. Supposedly this ghost was the baby. Bob and Maggie were the only 2 people present who knew bout the abortion. Needless to say I got what I wanted.... Neither of them picked at me for quite sometime.

As to the entity being an aborted baby, I don't believe it, but entities/energies already in the house playing with 2 nasty people....yes. I think one of them took pity on me or I just finally used my own psychic abilities to protect myself.

Yep, this is another of MJ's illustrations. After this incident, Witchy Woman was my nickname. :)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Old Horror Movies-The Black Cat

I love painted movie posters. The colors in this one are wonderful.


Poelzig leading the black mass
This has always been one of my favorite horror films.                                                                                          The basic plot is straight forward..."Honeymooning in Hungary, Joan and Peter Allison share their train compartment with Dr. Vitus Verdegast, a courtly but tragic man who is returning to the remains of the town he defended before becoming a prisoner of war for fifteen years. When their hotel-bound bus crashes in a mountain storm and Joan is injured, the travelers seek refuge in the home, built fortress-like upon the site of a bloody battlefield, of famed architect Hjalmar Poelzig. There, cat-phobic Verdegast learns his wife's fate, grieves for his lost daughter, and must play a game of chess for Allison's life. " (IMDB synopsis)

Little did Joan and Peter know their European honeymoon would be so scary.
Poelzig and Vertegast's daughter
But the underlying creepiness of all the relationships is what intrigues me... Poelzig is married to Vertegast's daughter... the lovely lady floating in the box.....Vertegast's dead wife.

Vertegast's wife
Considering the time period, the marriage of Poelzig to Vertegast's daughter almost seems to be incest.

The verbal battling between Poelzig and Vertegast is intense and Vertegast's descent into despair is frightening.

I think I love black and white movies so much because the lighting is usually so beautiful. The mood is always sinister and much of the horror is left up to the imagination...fortunately.  I don' t think I'd want to see Vertegast's revenge in any great detail.

No, not much gore or any sudden shocks, but I prefer interesting characters and a plot.

If you want to be creeped out might want to check out The Black Cat..... starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi(1934)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Season of the Ghost - The Ouija Board and Flaming Gary

When I was around 11, one of the neighbor kids, Susan, showed up with a Ouija board instead of the Monopoly game she said she was getting. She explained how we all needed to put a finger on the planchette and ask questions.

Well, you could tell Sue was moving the planchette. So we weren't impressed. Everybody took a turn and the planchette never moved a millimeter.

Now, I had been seeing ghosts since my Grandma Bartlett died when I was 7, so this doodad board wasn't impressing me too much. It couldn't compare with getting a last hug from Grandma or the little white floating spirits I saw in the woods behind our house.

I took my turn and wouldn't you know that planchette zipped around like it was electrified. The man who wanted to talk to me was named Gary and he was really excited to talk to me and wanted me to do him a favor. I was supposed to go get some matches and bring them out to the yard where we were all sitting.

He explained that he and his brother were killed in a house fire in a house that once stood near we were playing .....

Suddenly the planchette jumped and slid violently off the board. We all freaked and got up off the blanket we'd been sitting on. Everybody dared me to try the board again. I figured a ghost couldn't really hurt me and I did get dared.... so I plopped back down.

The planchette started moving again and this time I was talking to Ian. According to him, Gary started the fire that killed just him. I got this uneasy feeling that someone was behind me and jumped up. After that I lost interest in the ouija board, but Gary still seemed to be following me around. I thought I saw him a few times in the woods behind our house. I had a couple of dreams where I saw a man running from a burning house and through the windows.....saw a man fall into the fire.

From that experience, I learned not all spirits were good and that needed to not listen to the bad ones. Also, being dead doesn't always give the ghost any more knowledge than when he or she was alive.

As an adult I've thought about when this fire could have taken place, what were Gary's motives in wanting me to get matches and if he affected any other kids? I probably still wonder about this ghost because during that year a couple of kids I knew died in house fires.

The house had tiny little paned windows and seemed to be in wooded area. The men seemed to be in old fashioned shirts and suspenders with knee high boots.
My guess is that the fire took place during the 19th century because the area seemed so undeveloped and the style of house and the tiny panes of glass reminded me of windows I'd seen in the historic homes at Hale Farm and Village. I've always thought about contacting the Tallmadge Historical Society to see if there were any records that might tell me about those 2 brothers.

Here's Andy Corn to make you laugh after my creepy story.:)

These illustrations are also done by my husband, MJBivouac

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Son of a Bun

MJ saw that I had salvaged the maple misadventure post from my old blog and brought me home another bun last night. And whipped out a bar of dark chocolate with caramel and sea salt when I burst out laughing.

Remember this nasty little guy? Remember how I said he was the most terrible candy experience ever? Well, I have a new story for you.

My husband thinks the Killer Bun Story is hilarious. So I think he has been looking for Buns locally to surprise me. Why he thinks I'd like to relive such an experience is beyond me, but I think he thought it would be funny to look at them and laugh over old Killer.

One night he came home from work with a Charlie Brown's Farms bag and seemed so pleased with himself.


One of our local farmers markets had started carrying BUNS. Well, vanilla and caramel ones anyway. I was almost disappointed that he couldn't find a Killer Bun. I am curious now to see if it was as bad as I remember.

The caramel one was old. It had been smashed, heated and then left to re-solidify. I don't know what possessed me, but I just had to try it. I should have thrown it out. The peanuts were stale and the caramel was brittle in some places and gummy in others. The chocolate had more in common with a candle than a piece of chocolate.

But as always... the Vanilla would do in a pinch.

I really should stop eating candy. Or maybe I should just send all future buns to my brother David and see if he'll eat them now.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Halloween Candy- Afternoon Debacle- The Bilious Bun

When you're a kid darn near anything sweet is a wonderful thing. But the worst candy eating experience of my life had to have been getting one of these little dudes to my left. Mom ran in to Bumpas Drug to get cigarettes or something and brought me one as a treat.

No no! Not the vanilla...that wasn't that bad really. The caramel was better of course, but the vanilla would do in a pinch. Apparently Mom didn't notice, that in her rush to get a handle on her nicotine craving, she picked up a MAPLE Bun!

I was hopeful as I opened it...I'd never had the maple before. I had the fleeting thought that pancake candy was a weird idea, but heck I'd try anything once. OMG! It was horrifically sweet and gritty like sand. And gummy... let's not forget gummy. I kept taking little bites. I guess I thought for some strange reason it had to get better. The motion of the car started to make me nauseous, my head started to hurt and I thought I was going to die. Mom would have never tried to poison me on purpose...would she?

Our green Galaxy 500 had a big deep back-seat. So I wrapped that sucker back up and wedged it in the crack between the backrest and the seat. I then tried to put the experience out of my mind.

That Christmas I got The VERMONT MAPLE COUPLE in my stocking.
I conned my little brother David into eating mine. It was easy. He used to eat Play-Doh.

A few yrs later my Dad was cleaning out the car in preparation for trading it in. He found the petrified remains of my Maple nightmare. I 'd forgotten old killer Bun and I just kinda chuckled to myself. That wild sugar poisoning from my past has put me off Maple for life.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Season of the Ghost- Phantom Manager

I wrote these true ghost stories 2 years ago on my old blog. I decided to repost them because I enjoyed writing them and I don't want them to be lost in old blog limbo. I'll repost one a week until Halloween. Oh, and if another ghost shows up... I'll add a new story.

My oddest ghost story is from when I worked as the store manager of the Simi Valley Salvation Army thrift store.

The store was made up of 2 sections. One was the main floor with a back room and loading dock. The main floor connected with a small room we used for the used books, records and vintage clothing. This room originally had 3 steps down from the main floor.

Just before I took over the floor of this little specialty room was raised to match the level of the main floor. It was interesting that the new floor had an odd bounce to it.

Anyway, one night after closing I was doing a walk through on the main floor. I was making a to do list for the next day and as I approached the middle of the main floor I could hear hangers being slid in the specialty room.
I thought...oops a record guy or a retro chick didn't hear me call closing. I called out,"Excuse me, but we're closed." As I watched,a woman in a floral dress with her dark hair pulled back in a bun started walking towards me through the doorway.

The only thing was...she was walking knee deep in the floor. As she got closer to me she faded away. Obviously she only knew the original floor with the 3 steps down in that back room.

Now, I've seen ghosts since I was little so I wasn't scared, but I was curious to find out who this lady was.

My asst. manager at the time was a long time Simi resident and was a regular shopper at the thrift store even before she got hired to work in the store. So I went to Betty the next day and asked her.

I found out the ghost was probably a previous manager named Juanita who worked there 10-12 yrs before I became manager. I described her right down to the flowered dresses she always wore.

After that first meeting, I never saw her again, but if I heard hangers moving around on the racks when I was alone in the store, I just called out a greeting to Juanita and the noise would stop.

The beautiful Halloween illustrations were created by my husband MJ Bivouac. Thanks, Mike.:)