"To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books.".....The Secret Teachings of All Ages

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Playing Dress Up

I have spent a good part of my life dressed in a costume of one sort or another. Apparently I never outgrew that whole “Let’s play dress-up” thing.

Halloween is my favorite holiday. As a kid, I dressed as a beatnik, wearing my dad’s yellow V-necked sweater, his roadster hat, my own black tights, and lots of green eye shadow. For a party I went to in Junior High, I got bold, and went as Cleopatra...a white sheet wrapped around me, lots of fake gold jewelry, and more green eye shadow.

When my maternal grandmother came to baby-sit, she’d play the Nutcracker Suite on the stereo, and my sisters and I would put on all the frilly petticoats we owned and dance like ballerinas. She always clapped her hands and said we looked beautiful.

When I went to my first dance in Junior High, she helped me rig a rhinestone necklace in my hair so that it looked like a tiara. I thought I looked like a princess. However, the boys must have thought I looked like a dork, because I never got asked to dance.

During my high school years I dressed like a hippie. Or, at least as much as I could, since back then schools had dress codes. If your skirt was an inch too short, you got sent home. Since I was an art major, I hung with all the other outcasts, and we dressed as radical as we could get away with...lots of beads, painted clothing, and skintight jeans.

Already long in love with jewelry, I wanted my ears pierced in the worst way. Locked in a battle of wills with my dad, who thought girls with pierced ears were...well, not nice...I eventually wore him down about a week before my eighteenth birthday. When it took my other sisters less than no time to get him to cave, I was pretty miffed!

In the early 1980s I joined the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) a worldwide medieval reenactment group. The possibilities to play dress up were limitless. I dove into the whole costume thing with both feet. I sewed T-tunics, bodices, Elizabethan court dresses, Italian Renaissance dresses, head pieces, a Spanish Surcoat, you name it. Then I got my horse, and equestrian costumes entered the game. For about ten years, on any given weekend, I was dressed in a costume. It became so natural, that I didn’t even think of them as costumes any longer, but just another wardrobe selection from my closet.

In 1991, when my husband and I moved to Oregon, we dropped out of the SCA, too busy trying to resettle and get our life reorganized. And we were broke, so playing in any kind of venue was out of the question.

About five years ago we fell into a Golden Age of Piracy re-enactors group. Wow, no costume rules, no royalty, nothing but crazy fun people and lots of rum. A whole new way to play dress up. Out came the sewing machine, and I made new shirts, vests, pantaloons, and frock coats. I modified hats into tricorns, and we bought fairly inexpensive knee boots. Hell, we even bought real swords. Our pirate friends are some of the best people we know, and we still play at events like the Northern California Pirate festival, where we are members of Tales of the Seven Seas, and are also part of the crew of the schooner Aldebaran.

Then I discovered Steampunk. Now there is a grand way to play dress up, with even less rules than the pirates. We did Airship Pirates, went to a Bad Fairies Ball, and attended two Abney Park concerts dressed in our best Steampunk gear. It’s still one of my favorites —think Jules Verne meets Queen Victoria, and throw in a time machine.

But I still had all those great SCA costumes packed away, calling my name. A year ago we attended a local Renaissance/Fantasy/Pirate Faire — dressed as pirates— and hooked up with the leader of an equestrian group called Company of the Warhorse, who was also a knight in the SCA. Through him, we fell into the SCA again. At the time, we no longer had horses (long story—see Equine Madness and the Art of Staying Young). Didn’t matter. Within about four months, we had new horses, and a fun new group of people to play dress up with.

Reality check. Thirty year old costumes don’t always fit the way they did back then. Alas. To make matters worse, pirate costumes finished off my old sewing machine. Here we are doing the horse games again, and needing new clothes, saddle cloths, simple bardings, new hats...you get the idea. I see a new sewing machine in my future, and the renewed art of trolling the fabric stores looking for material that is “period correct.”

So, here I am, ready to receive my first Social Security check next month, and still playing dress up. Still wearing hats, lots of jewelry, crazy T-shirts, a frock coat I wear when it’s cold, and sometimes my pirate knee boots. At events, it’s anything goes — pirate, to Italian Renaissance, to mounted warrior. The only thing left out these days, is the green eye shadow.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Blog

I have started a new blog just for my horse activities. It became way too tedious to write this stuff out in my art journals, as my handwriting sucks, and it is a pain in the butt to print out and paste in pictures, when here I can simply upload them. Also, I thought it would be nice to keep it separate from this blog, so I don't bore to death my non-horsey friends.

If you are interested in checking it out, here ya go. There is also a link in my list of favorite blogs.

Equine Madness

Bracelet to Necklace

This piece was originally a bracelet. I took it, along with two necklaces, to my writer's group meeting, for a "show and tell." One of the ladies liked the design of the bracelet, but wanted it as a choker instead. I didn't have enough of the frosted petal beads to make a whole new piece, but did have enough to add length to the bracelet. So, I took it home, reworked it, and voila...the finished choker. Better still, the lady loved it. That made me smile and feel good to be me.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Nature's "Smilie Face."

The weather might still be crappy, but it's hard not to smile when you have these bright little bits of sunshine blooming all around the yard.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Signs of Spring/Summer

For most people the first signs of the coming warmer days are groups of happily blooming daffodils, Easter candy in the stores, and for those of us out in the country, the soft, subtle colors of wildflowers. If, like me, you have horses, it’s also the flying hair of a shedding winter coat. However, for me personally, there is one sure sign that the gray days are passing. My local Fred Myer store pulls out dozens of racks of flip flops. They are the first thing you see when you enter the store. Yup, there’s your sign.

When I was a kid, raised by parents born in the depression era, and with W.W.II still a vivid memory, we all called this new form of footwear Jap Flaps. That’s not politically correct these days, and rightly so, but that’s what all the kids called them back then. They were cheap, and the rubber bit between your toes a bit rough at first, so you always got a blister, which eventually became a callous. They came in a few fun colors, but nothing like what you can buy now.

Oh lordy, now it is a veritable cornucopia of choices—stripes, dots, checks, tattoo designs, happy faces, and even the logos of the two big Oregon college teams. And that’s just the foot part. The thong part is even better. You can still get basic plain rubber (which is what I get to wear while doing yard and garden work, ‘cause I can hose them off when they get dirty), but oh my, the choices here are mind boggling. In my latest cruise of the racks, I saw the thong part adorned with fake flowers, sequins, rhinestones, and bead dangles. Some were made of soft suade-like material in every color of the rainbow. Then there are the fancy ones. Wider straps in an East Indian pattern of paisley picked out in silver or gold thread. Western themed ones in black leather and silver conchos. I even saw some with brass bits for that Steampunk look.

Every year I pick out a few new pairs, usually waiting until they have the “Buy one pair, get one pair free” sale. I live in flip flops all summer, and am pretty hard on them, especially the garden work pair. What I love most about “flops” is you can just slip you feet into a pair and are good to go. And since they make all those fancy ones, you can wear them pretty much anywhere—always making sure your pedicure is neat and tidy. Don’t want to turn someone off their food.

But, despite their jolly cuteness, flip flops can be hazardous to your health. I had one of my few near-death experiences while wearing a brand new pair. Here is the equation: New flip flops + wet deck steps = hydroplaning body flying off deck. It happened so fast it took me a minute to figure out how I ended up on my butt in the pea gravel of the terrace. I also thought my right arm was broken, since I couldn’t move it or feel it. Fortunately, all I ended up with were a lot of very colorful bruises in some very interesting places. Lesson learned.

By the time November rolls around, and it becomes too cold to wear them, I have a pile of battered flip flops—their soles worn thin, the straps faded, and the rubber with a permanent indent of my foot. They are the sign of a full, fun summer soon to be drowned out by months of rain.

I haven’t picked out my pairs for this year. They haven’t put them on sale yet. But I saw a new design that I must have. Decorating the sole of this one is a red skull on a black background. The annoying thing is, they only put that design on the man’s sizes. So, next time I’m in "Freddy’s", I’ll search for the smallest size they come in and see if they fit. If not, oh well, there are dozens and dozens of other designs to choose from, which will get me through the summer just fine.

Monday, April 4, 2011


The Sketchbook Challenge theme for March was "Spilling Over." March for me was so busy, I didn't have time to spill anything. So, no journal entries got made, other than here. Since I did commit to this challenge, I have promised myself to be more diligent in April.