October 28, 2011

Mumbo Jumbo!

Mumbo Jumbo is a wonderful picture book that's part of my Halloween decor this year.  (We're hosting our first-ever kids Halloween party on Saturday, so I went a little more detailed with the decorating. A little, but it's not like I need much excuse.)

I picked up Mumbo Jumbo on clearance, a couple years back at a groovy store called The Alley. As far as I know, there are 2 Alley's in existence: one in Palm Springs, and one tucked in between a K-Mart and our discount theater here in Temecula. The Alley sells lots of outdoor and indoor ceramics, vases, pillows, rustic furniture...and cheap birthday cards, joke gadgets, and Pillow Pet knock-offs. Sort of like a funkier, less organized Home Goods.  

For $5, I couldn't resist the great graphic illustrations inside Michael Roberts' collection, subtitled "The Creepy ABC."  (Roberts is a talented artist who has created covers for The New Yorker.)
G is for ghosts.

N is for Nightmares.

M is for Mummy.
And of course, Z is for Zombies.  I also love the witty little poems that accompany each letter, making the book less creepy for kids.  Not that I bought the book for the kids, anyway.

This is how I have it displayed, on the living room table:
Open to the spread for C is for Cobwebs.  (Not candelabra.)

Close-up of rats checking out my silver tea service.  It needs polishing, I know.  I think the tarnish is just going to have to be part of the scene.  I still have cupcakes to decorate, and a "mad science lab" with creepy body parts for the party guests to touch and squeal over to assemble.  For example, we're using beef jerky bits for "scabs."  Creepy and gross: The kids will love it.   Happy Pre-Halloween weekend to you!

October 24, 2011

Hello, Halloween

 Another hello from my house to yours.  As mentioned earlier, I tore down my "fall" shelf display, and decorated for Halloween.  Or in the case of the above picture, added a couple of pieces to spook things up.

One of the benefits of being married for almost fifteen years is that I've had a lot of seasons to accumulate holiday decor.  I do rotate and purge, but some items, like the witch silhouette and scary tree up there, have been around for such a long time, I can't remember anymore where they came from.
In the case of my pesky entry shelves, a lot of the items (with of course the exception of the old books) are fairly new: the wall decal, the silver words, the mummy statue...I believe they're all from Michael's. (I bought the mummy just last week, marked down to $2.50. )  On the other hand, my poor old crow perched on the glittery tree is really getting a little mangy and should be replaced.  He was purchased many years ago at the awesome Roger's Gardens, a wonderful high-end nursery and decor store in Newport Beach. 
I'm in love with that creepy, moody cover on that old copy of Wuthering Heights. Isn't it awesome? A recent find at a local antique mall.  The cover of my Frankenstein is pretty cool too, but you can't show 'em all.

I upload these images, knowing that in just over a week from now, Halloween will be over and I'll be futzing with the yet shelves again, finessing another display, for the deep autumn days of November.

 And don't even get me started on thinking about Christmas.  Yet.

October 18, 2011

The Necklace

This is the necklace my daughter earned for being the MVP player on her soccer team.  She got to keep it for a week, and then had to hand it over, to be given to another girl at the next game.   Her team didn't win the week she earned the necklace, and she didn't make a goal.  In fact, her team has only won one game so far, and the season ends on November 5.

No matter.  At the risk of hyperbole and proud-parent gushing, I've been  awestruck with Lily, and this whole soccer thing.  At 9 1/2, she is somewhat "old" to be playing for the first time.  Here in our corner of suburbia, it feels like every other child from age 4 on up plays in the recreational soccer league.   I'm not the type to force my kids into any activity they don't show an interest in, and for years, when I'd ask if she wanted to play soccer, she'd shake her head and utter a vehement, "NO!"

That's my girl, I'd think. Just like her mom, a lazy, curled in the corner with a book and a head full of hazy images kind of girl. No running around in cleats for us, thank you.

And then, this summer, she said, "I think I want to play soccer."
"Um, like on a team?" I asked.
 "Yes!" she said, and then went on to describe all the fun she'd been having at recess, kicking the ball around with her friends.
"Okay then," I said, but in my head I thought....really? 

She started the season slowly, literally.  My husband and I would watch her at practice, at her early games, moving around on the field like she had ankle weights attached.  She didn't know the basic rules, needed positions explained over and over.   No matter.  The day of her first game, it was 103-degrees at 11 o'clock.  She was sweating hard, and flushed a blotchy red color that I'd never seen on her face before.  Except for exclaiming about the heat, she didn't complain.

She hasn't complained, once, about the practice schedule, the early mornings, the way the routine of it all has started to slowly dictate our lives.  (Me, on the other hand...)  

I didn't play sports as a child. I was overweight until sixth grade, when puberty and hormones kicked in, melting away what was evidently mostly "baby fat."  In junior high, my glasses broke in half when a volleyball smacked me in the face.  Yeah. That kid.

I get a bit of ribbing from my mother, who worked for most of my and my sister's childhoods, about being a stay-at-home-mom. For years, she referred to my local friends as merely "the mommy's." But until this fall, she hasn't been able to officially call me a soccer mom.

Now she gets to call me a soccer mom.  It's a loose strand, a clue to tug at, in the tangled, knotted ball of yarn that is our mother-daughter relationship, that when I told my her over the phone that Lily (and her brother, too) would be playing soccer this fall, my mother's first response was:

"YOU'RE GONNA BE A SOCCER MOM!!!! BWAH-HA-HA-HA-HA!   Better you than me, that's all I can say!"

To which I could only reply: "Yep," because what else can you say to that?

So. Lily is playing soccer. She's in fourth grade. So far, she's having the most amazing, happy, social time of her life being nine years old, in the fourth grade, and part of a soccer team.    Last week, her team won their first game. And at that game, Lily kicked in her first-ever goal, the first goal her team had scored in weeks and weeks.

I sat on the sidelines, under our new Easy-Up shelter, and felt something go bursting in my heart: That's my girl.  Running around in the heat, with cleats and shin-guards, and talking already of playing again in the spring.   Then coming home and curling up in a corner with a book, her head full of hazy images of getting that Hogwart's acceptance letter in a couple of years

That's my girl, the one who screamed in surprise and joy when she earned that game necklace, for hard work and "battling for the ball."    And me, I'm her soccer mom.

October 13, 2011

Hello, Fall

Some nesting pictures of fall around my house.  Except that the entry and console table behind the couch don't even look like the below photos anymore, because Halloween has invaded.  And it's spooky!  But now I feel like a twit, because I spent the better part of a recent afternoon styling those 2 entry shelves to get them just so...and then this week, I tore it all down to put up the creepy/spooky Halloween tableau.  

But the top of the stairs still looks like this:

Remember, during the summer, it looked like this.  I love my little typewriter girl from The Black Apple. The canvas is wrapped with retro barkcloth that I purchased a long time ago from the now-defunct ReproDepot.  The yellow roadrunner is a local vintage find.  Orange and gold dish from one of my favorite online vintage shops, The Blue Carrot.

Next is the entryway:

Confession: I am really sort of over these shelves. They need to go.  A few years back, I had an Ikea storage cabinet here. It had frosted glass doors on the bottom and an open area beneath the top.  I got sick of that; it was pale wood and just felt too...Ikea-ish.  Then I was struck by the inspiration to put shelves here. (They look just like Ikea Lack shelves, but they're not.) The shelves are a pain in my butt, and basically are compensation for the fact that we don't have a mantel over our sad fireplace.  I don't actually have a lot of flat surfaces for display space downstairs...so. The problem is that this is too much display space, so I'm forever fussing with it. Totally a case of form over function, since the only functional area is the little tray to catch my sunglasses/keys/lip gloss.

Let's just move on.  (Oh -- ceramic white owl from T.J. Maxx last year, owl candle from Marshall's, yellow vase is vintage Frankoma pottery. Those cute green mercury glass candles I found at Big Lots, $5 for a set of 3.)

This is the long console table, behind our sectional in the family room.  And there is my lovely big blue Blenko.  I love bright, happy fabrics, but I don't sew at all. So this is my solution, to put them up on the wall in frames. I'm pretty much over this solution, too. I want some real artwork up here, to keep my print from Leah Giberson company. Lamps are Ebay vintage finds from several years back. Green shades are from HomeGoods, taken from the lucite lamps that are in my bedroom. 

Sigh. So many things to fix and improve upon, but I guess that's always the case. I'll show you the Halloween decor soon.  

Top photo details:  Hello print from here. The 2 larger white vases are HomeGoods/TJ Maxx, and the small aqua one is a vintage Royal Haeger that got broken & repaired, when I displayed it somewhere and a book knocked it over. Because I'm a twit!

October 6, 2011

Freaks & Rogues

I half-expected that reading Susan Casey's book The Wave before bedtime would give me nightmares.  Around ten years ago, I would occasionally dream of standing on a pier, or near the ocean, and being powerless and rooted to the ground as a huge, monolithic wall of water raced toward me.  I would wake myself up, crying out and panting hard to catch my breath.  Awful!  

Thankfully I don't have my "tidal wave" dreams too frequently anymore.  But I've been fascinated with big waves since I was a child.  Maybe it started when I was very small, watching the Poseidon Adventure in the theater with my dad. (And holy crap, did I just admit to seeing the Poseidon Adventure when it was first released? Egads.)  Except "fascinated" isn't the right word --  it's more like, "extremely perturbed by their existence." 

The whole idea of rogue waves -- technically, waves that are freakishly large for the general surrounding wave-size -- really gets to me.  For years, scientists believed the stories that sailors told for centuries of huge waves, rearing up from the sea to swallow a ship in one gulp, were just myths.  Like mermaids, or sirens.  Then they amended their beliefs to saying, "well okay, maybe there are rogue waves, but they happen like once or twice per century."

People, according to the scientists (and thanks to weather satellites), it now appears that rogue waves happen all the time, and that one or two huge container and freight ships are lost every month, swallowed by freak waves.  Or maybe it was once a week.  Suffice it to say: the rogues are out there.  Indubitably, and undisputedly.
 The Wave didn't give me nightmares. It was an entertaining, smart and fast-paced read. Some chapters discuss the science and study of rogue waves, found out in the middle of the ocean, especially in the north Atlantic and near the tip of South Africa, where the warm waters of the Indian ocean collide with the frigid currents moving north from Antarctica.  These chapters alternate with other chapters profiling big-wave surfers, like superstar Laird Hamilton, who pioneered the sport of tow-surfing (having a boat tow surfers way out to the big waves) and consistently surfs sixty, seventy, and even eighty foot monsters...just, y'know..for the fun of it. 

It is not reassuring to read the scientists admit that they're just now starting to get a grasp of rogue waves, and that they basically know nothing about why they occur.  They also state that average wave sizes across the planet's oceans are rising every year, and this is attributed to the general warming of the oceans.  Bottom line: bigger waves, and bigger waves more often.

The Wave didn't help me get over my dread of big waves. I still find them fascinating/perturbing.  It's a visceral reaction, a gut thing I feel when confronted by that much power. I feel the same way when I look at huge icebergs, too.  Something about the very quiet, very inhuman force of nature, rising up to obliterate everything in its path.   Looking at those images makes me want to put my forehead on the desk and quietly weep. And hope that I never, ever, get the opportunity to take a photograph of one for myself.

Wave images from the aptly named site deathwaves.com.
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