Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Shock a Body, Shock a Body Body...

Halloween is the apex of extremes, the blending of horror with beauty, juxtaposing Summer Winter Light Dark Good Evil Saints Ghosts Spirits Goblins Demons Angels

Fear Laughter Orange Black Tricks Treats Jack O’Lanterns Candles Skulls Fairies Ghouls

Spooky Scary Funny Magic Eerie Wicked Witches Spells Incantations Brooms Cauldrons Black Cats Skeletons

Cadavers The Undead Crypts Mummies Vampires Bats Coffins Dracula Frankenstein Cemeteries Cathedrals Doin’ the Monster Mash

Candy Apples Razor Blades Wearing-coats-over-costumes-because-it’s-often-cold-and-raining-outside Grave robbers Zombies Shrunken Heads Blood Stitches Spiders

Scarecrows Werewolves Nightmares The Macabre Boo! Moonlight Pumpkin pie Bobbing for Apples Haunted Houses

Damnation Salvation Torment Enchantment Pagan Christian Insulted Wiccans Day of the Dead Night of the Living…

Ah, the evocative images this time of year brings on its cloaked shoulders.

A chilling wind blows the thin veil between worlds as All Hollow’s Eve approaches. It is time for the prisoners of the underworld to fly their freak flags a little and party down before the solemn Holiday of All Saints Day arrives on November one.

As disguises are carefully selected, they reveal more than they hide. Groom and I have made our appearance, can you spot us?
Lastly, while on the subject of various body parts, here’s a little season appropriate snippet from Willie the Bard.
"Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and howlet's wing,--
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble."

And speaking of Groom, he discovered this Malt Liquor pitcher of rubber noses and has judiciously decided to call it, “A Snoot Full.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

On the Road Again

Seven days ago, before buckling up for our last out-of-town show for the 2009 season, I imagined this week’s photo blog would be all about Half Moon Bay. After all, the coastal town 20 some odd miles and four hours (ha ha) south of the Bay area is charming enough to showcase all by itself.

However, after having experienced the road trip, it’s more accurate to call this week’s entry The Medford Jacksonville Mt. Shasta San Francisco Half Moon Bay Madera Fresno expedition edition. Fresno? Yes, that’s exactly what I thought, but I’ll tell you more about that later.

First stop, Medford and what iconic image better represents the old Middleford of yore than the scary Monster Bird? And while on the subject of yore, these next three shots were taken in and around the old mining town of Jacksonville.

Goat Mama (not to be confused with Llama Mama coming up shortly), from a few episodes back is the friend we stay with in the Rogue Valley and she’s been a professional photographer for about 456 months now and seems able to speak camera. She uses fancy words like aperture, exposure, F-stop, shutter speed and edge lighting while I know words like lens cap and button.

After spending the day taking photos with her, we left early enough the next morning to capture this sunrise over Mt. Shasta, which we’re calling Fire and Ice.

That put us going through San Francisco via the Bay Bridge during lunch hour. I was awfully tempted to ask Groom for a side-trip pilgrimage to the oft-dreamt about John Fluevog Shoe store, but I behaved myself and kept a self-imposed vow of silence. I’m sure I would have had much more fun buying two good shoes than being a goody two-shoes. Oh well...

We finally made it to Half Moon Bay, named for its crescent shaped beach. The weather was stunning and we enjoyed a leisurely Friday watching the waves roll in and perusing the upscale shops in this affluent community, contented to be ignored by Llama Mama for the third consecutive year. She’s got attitude and ain’t afraid to show it.

For the weekend and the purpose of our trip, we anticipated the feeding frenzy of the purported 250,00 eager shoppers that would clog every arterial and vein from the surrounding areas, and a day and a half into the two-day Pumpkin Festival we were still anticipating…

Now this is the part that perplexes me. Hordes of people risked life and limb to traverse the steep windy roads into town, crowding bumper-to-bumper, and then paying $10 to park once they arrived, only to walk right past the art booths, staring straight ahead, their only view the back of the person in front of them.

Disappointment leaked into the next day as we coaxed our exhausted selves from bed at 2:45am by the promise of coffee and the desire to get on the road ahead of the commuters, heading toward Fresno to spend the day with my cousin.

If you don’t drink coffee, what happened next will not impact you, for you will not be able to relate to the loss. But for those of you with the caffeine gene, you’ll understand and commiserate.

While I was checking out of our hotel (you would weep from the bill), my travel mug mysteriously overturned and my precious liquid gold spilled all over the floor of the van. The vehicle wasn’t even moving, the mug has a flat bottom and a lid, and yet when I climbed in, the carpet was soaked and my mug was empty.

I looked at Groom with his full, steaming cup and he shrugged. No coffee shop was open at pre-four in the morning, we had just turned over our card keys and I knew it would be hours before I would have another chance for chemically enhanced wide-awakeness.

I was in a foul mood. What occurred next did not help matters at all. Two hours into the drive, we pulled over for gas and a powder room. I saw a neon sign advertising what I was jonesing for, so Groom had barely rolled to a stop before I was out and heading for the golden door of coffee land.

Until I saw it. A giant rat with an even longer tail skittered across the floor, it’s unmanicured nails making that haunting clicking sound as it scurried from view. Not that you would have been able to hear it over my girly screeching sounds anyway. The attendant looked at the rat running away and then at me squealing and simply shrugged.

What is it with men and their shrugs??!!

I sulked for the next hour as we drove along in the dark, but the mood lightened when I saw a highway sign for “Los Banos.” Isn’t that Spanish for toilet? I’d heard Fresno called the armpit of California, but I didn’t know it was located so near the toilet of California.

At 6:01am I was in line for coffee in Los Banos. Never mind the translation, the coffee was good. By this time, however, as the joke goes, I was ready to order a café mocha vodka Valium latte to go.

By 7am we were at my cousin’s doorstep in Madera. She welcomed us in her lovely home and we spent the day toodling around the area. I had no idea The Armpit had such edgy and lovely art and architecture.

Notice the Gothic lettering of the Iron Bird Lofts, and what’s with Fresno’s fascination with bees, nipples and rosebud figleafs?? I’ve heard of bee-stung lips, but… ouch!

If exploding hearts and nipple honey isn’t your thang, then avert your eyes and look across the street. A full scale Amazing Grace at thy fingertips.

But my very favorite I’ve saved for last. Click to enlarge so you can take in all the details. Do you see the crow sitting on the statue’s head?

I know, I know, while surrounded by so much beauty, don’t cry over spilt coffee.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Treasure Hunting

A friend sent me an inspirational card this week and enclosed two flat glass stones with the words “strength” and “passion” etched onto them. Which is perfect since we are combining two passions this week, photography and yard sales. Both offer the thrill of the hunt.

We’re not ones to limit ourselves to yard sales, though. Garage sales are good, too, as are flea markets, estate sales, rummage sales, thrift shops, antique stores and bazaars. There’s so much fun stuff to look at and instead of feeling the impulse to buy, we get a contact high just by clicking the shutter and saving the funky junque for posterity.

Well, that’s mostly true. The other day while in Corvallis, I escaped the booth with my trusty Canon and iPod, the white earbuds affording me some personal space and groovy tunes while I took a walk. In other words, I was by myself.


I stumbled across a yard sale. No, bigger than that - a Church fund-raiser. Hallelujah, shopping for Jesus! When I finally made it back to the booth, I told Groom I needed a Hamilton (I must be related to the Queen of E. as I rarely carry cash), because I just bought a box of stuff from a yard sale.

He thought I was joking.

When I came back a bit later hefting the box he just shook his head. “But look,” I said, “a tin box I can collage for only ten cents. Ooh, and here’s a hanky that’s genuine linen from Ireland.” I pointed to the tiny oval gold sticker with black lettering on the back that said, “Genuine Irish Linen.”

“If you say, so dear.”

“I also bought some Christmas presents,” I justified and proceeded to show him the cool hand-carved wooden mug for our nephew’s Tiki room.”

But mostly we just enjoy taking photos at yard sales.

It seems I say this every week, but I’m still surprised when our eye is drawn to something similar, but we see it in such a different way. Groom noticed a box of dolls and the macabre collection of heads, body parts, and shivering figurines in bathtubs hit a particular tone. He captured it and the photo deserves a click of your mouse to enlarge for full appreciation.

Their expressions haunt me. Did you take note of the Kewpie doll in the lower left-hand corner? Yikes, looks like dried blood on its skull.

Speaking of skulls, while Groom went for the big picture, I zeroed in on a detail, focusing on this doll’s cracked one.

This next one, well, I don’t want to meet the person who needs these delicately painted jars. Boric acid and nipples? What kind of freak collector is that? Good thing we ran across this timely playscript, Calm Yourself. Could come in handy.

One of the things I adore about yard sales is that you never know what you’re going to discover. At this particular one, two children accosted me. By “accosted,” I mean they both ran over to me, grabbed my legs and begged to take a picture.

I looked at my new toy and then at their faces and how could I say no? I gingerly placed the camera around the boy’s neck first, keeping a tight grasp on it. The camera, not his neck. He was all wiggly with excitement wanting to push every button willy-nilly. Speaking calmly, I diverted his attention to the scene around him and asked what he noticed and what did he want to take a picture of?

He pointed to his sister. Aaaaah. So the little boy took a portrait of his sister and then it was her turn. She wanted to do the same thing, so here are the pictures they took of each other.

Sometimes a surplus of vegetables are on offer, so Groom baked a delicious loaf of zucchini bread with this squash.

The last photo is one we should call “Full Circle.” Imagine our surprise when what should we discover but one of our own stamp pins for sale by somebody else? It’s the one in the very back row, far left. As the story goes, one of our customers passed away and the pin ended up in her estate sale.

Oh well, you can’t take it with you.