Roadside Gods

On the side of the old Post Road, there is an ancient and forgotten god that watches over travelers as they pass by. It was a god of hospitality, once, but now it’s mostly a god of mice and beetles and the odd wanderer who happens to see it for what it is. It’s shrine is falling down and overgrown with weeds, and old bottles and litter blown by the wind lie scattered around it’s pedestal.
I’ve taken to offering it a greeting as I pass by. It seems lonely, and I feel a little bad for it. Plus, it can’t hurt to have a god well-inclined toward you while you’re traveling, even if it is only a small and forgotten one. I keep thinking that I should maybe leave it an offering of some kind, but I don’t know what would be appropriate for it. I’m not entirely sure that it even knows, these days. It may not even remember that it’s a god, anymore.
Still, I should visit it’s shrine, and leave something for it.
After all. I am an odd wanderer, and I see it for what it is.
 
roadsidegod
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On Stories, Liminal Spaces, And Looking For The Magic Hidden In The Mundane.

So, full disclosure, this was not the post that I was planning to write.  I had originally planned to tell a story about a weird little place I stumbled across while out driving, but something happened after the fact, and now I am *really* not comfortable doing so.

Instead, I’m going to write about what it is that I *do* in my life, and what I’m trying to do here, because it’s a major part of how I want to make a living.

There are a couple of things that you need to know about me:

One, is that I have always been the sort of person who pokes into the corners of shops and picks the path less traveled, because that’s where the interesting things most often are, forgotten or overlooked and waiting. I’m the person who goes into the ragged old antique shop, looking for the magic object or the dusty trail of a story tucked up on a shelf, waiting for someone to find it.  I love the liminal spaces, because that’s the place where magic seeps into the mundane world and makes Life something…more… Like Alice going down the rabbit hole, or Dorothy opening the door and going from dull greys and into a world of vibrant greens.

Two, is that I have *always* been a storyteller, for as long as I’ve been alive.  As a toddler, before I could even speak clearly, I used to take my stuffed animals and arrange them in a semi-circle around me under the kitchen table (apparently even then, I knew that liminal spaces and seeing the world from unusual angles was important), and tell stories to them, and to the cats and dog that would join us.

I stopped telling stories for a very long time.  I stopped writing them.  For a time, I even stopped thinking them.  So many people had stolen my stories and told me so many reasons that I was not allowed to be what I am, that I eventually believed them, and locked my heart in a lead-lined box, sealed with wax from poison fruit and the ashes of old, dead gods, and hid it away.

I am taking my heart out of that damned box, and putting it back in my chest, where it belongs.

What does this mean?  This means that I am going to be telling stories again.  I am going to be looking in the shadows and poking into the corners and I will be telling the stories of the magic that I uncover in those places, so that other people can see them, too.  Sometimes that means that what had been a fairly uneventful drive across the state becomes a narrative of monsters and fairy rings and haunted bridges and narrow escapes from the clutches of cursed carnival graveyards, because these are the stories that I tell in my head as I drive down the road and look for the places that have the bones of stories scattered among them.

One thing that I am struggling to figure out is whether I should have some kind of a disclaimer or something when I go off the proverbial road (because sometimes I am just telling the story of the trip as it actually happened), or not, because the thing is I live in a world where magic is hidden in the mundane, and I want other people to see a world that still has magic in it, instead of just the daily slog of going to work, paying bills, and living in shades of dust and grey.  I want the colors to seep in and I don’t want to have to put up signs that mark each blurring of the trail, but I also don’t want to have to deal with people taking things as fact that were figment, and vice versa, because every time I have to go “that…that wasn’t real…I embellished that a bit because the reality was boring/somewhat creepy and so I spun it slightly because it made a better story” it loses it’s magic.  I don’t want to have to unweave the story and break the spell before it’s even cast.

(I don’t mind the reverse on that, though, because “Yeah, no…that? That actually did happen as described.  I didn’t spin that” doesn’t remove magic, it adds to it, because the world honestly is way weirder than people give it credit for.)

I dunno.  What are your thoughts?

In Which Our Heroine Reverts To Childhood And Is Overly Excited About Silly Things

After much consideration, I’ve decided that I just don’t have the slightest desire or means to deal with shipping and packaging and fighting with printers at the moment, and decided to look into Print On Demand sites again.  I had a CafePress site aeons ago, but wasn’t overly impressed with the quality and then Life Happened and I shut it down after having made exactly one sale outside the two things I made (I have the only tote bag and coffee mug in existence of a Foxentree) from it.  So, after looking into current options, I decided to go with RedBubble, and went to set up an account so I could start working on getting some monsters and fish uploaded because HOLY CARP, Y’ALL, I CAN GET STICKERS MADE AND HOW COOL IS THAT?!?

*ahem*

Anyway…

So, funny story… I go to set it up, and it tells me that the username already exists, and I go to stalk them and find out who’s using my name, and um…so hey!  It turns out that back in 2013 I set up an account and never actually used it.  It also turned out that the email address I used for it belongs to an old website that I had at the time that’s been defunct for a while and it’s sort of hard to get a password reset sent to an email address that doesn’t actually exist anymore.

Oops.

Luckily, my memory is really weird and I managed to actually remember the password and was able to get back in and update everything to current information.

Yes, it’s been 6 years.  Did I mention that my memory is really weird?  I have two settings:  remember EVERYTHING or remember NOTHING and I have no way to predict what’s going to get locked in and what’s going to get lost.  I can remember a password from 6 years ago, but damned if I can remember something that happened last month.  Brains, I tell ya…

Stickers.  Did I mention I can have stickers of my fishies and monster?  STICKERS ARE THE BEST!  9 year old me is screaming with glee.

Next project…figure out how to make the files so I can upload them to the site and start promoting that. Because you know you want stickers of ridiculous fish and silly monsters and maybe coffee mugs or something (and probably the Foxenwood, because the Foxenwood is adorable and you know you want prints of them and also my coffee mug’s handle broke off and I need to replace it).

Technical Difficulties

Ugh.  It looks like something went wrong with the scheduled posts that were supposed to show up, but apparently didn’t.  My apologies!  It’s absurdly late at night to try and fix it now, but I’ll be adding that to the To Do list for tomorrow.

Yay technology?

 

*sigh*

Art, Gremlins, and Other Odds and Ends

They look so innocent and sweet when they’re asleep, don’t they?  Don’t let them fool you.  They spend most of their waking hours trying to kill each other and making sure that Mom doesn’t get any work done at all unless she locks one of them in a room for a while.

On the other hand, locking them in rooms did allow me to finally get the watercolors back out and do a couple of small pieces, so yay?

The pendants I was working on have been set aside until Oisin gets a little older (and therefore calmer) because what I want to do takes extended periods of time and does not allow for sudden interruptions.  So, back to paintings, watercolor pencils, and ink for the time being.  On the other hand, I now have fixative spray and varnish that I can seal paintings with so I don’t have to frame them, which will make my life easier.
Leash-training is going…weird.  Oisin does not like walking out the front door, but is fine out back.  He’s perfectly content to chill in the truck for extended periods of time (as long as he’s not in the crate, which he hops out of as soon as he can manage it) and even sleeps, but isn’t so sure about being outside the truck.  He does, however, get cranky and starts climbing the walls (no, really, he goes up the door frames) when he hasn’t gone for a ride in a day or two, and we’re still trying to figure out how the kitten ended up inheriting my need to just be out on the roads for a while.
One of the things that I’ve been running into while trying to read up on leash-training and traveling with cats is that, for the most part, people don’t seem to talk about the basic logistics and physical set ups of doing so.
Like, litterboxes.  I know that most folks seem to have their cats doing their business outside, but there are others who don’t, and I would honestly love to know how they handle that.  I’m going to be figuring out how to rig a small litter pan into the back of the truck with a cardboard box and some velcro today, but I know I’m reinventing the wheel here and it’s somewhat frustrating.

I’m also trying to work out a place that he can stretch out and watch the scenery go by that is *not* the back of my shoulders, because that’s where he really wants to be right now, and that’s such an unbelievably unsafe place for him to ride.  Again, a lot of folks with adventure cats don’t seem to share that sort of specific logistic, so reinventing that wheel, too.

Yes, I’m going to be putting my money where my mouth is and sharing information on my set up, once I figure out what said set up is.

Now, though, it’s time to get my butt in gear so the gremlin (aka, Oisin) and I can go get on the road for a bit, and then maybe get another painting started when we get back.
Open roads and fair winds, my friends

A Thousand Paper Mousies

My life has been spent pretty much entirely on integrating cats.  We ran into a small issue where Oisin chased Torin (who is 15) so much that Torin’s arthritis flared up so much that a trip to the vet and pain medication was required.  After that, all interactions needed to be strictly supervised, and have you ever tried to keep a rambunctious kitten out of something?  They are FAST.  As a result, pretty much everything else has been taking extra time or got completely stalled for a bit, and I’m sorry.

Things are starting to settle down slightly, though, which is leaving me extra time to try and get things done finally.  Not much travelling, due to kitten, but I’ve got some jewelry pendants I’m working on, and will be testing the fixative/varnish on the prototype this week to see if that will make them water-resistant enough to be worn.   *crosses fingers*

I’m also learning how to make origami mice, because one of Oisin’s absolute favorite toys ever is crumpled up receipts, and while I don’t mind, I do sometimes need to have them not cat-chewed, and I’m not a fan of how easily the ink comes off.  Origami paper is a bit sturdier, and thus I’m making him paper toys that he can chew on and I don’t mind.

So far he seems to be a fan, though the first mousie is already been pretty mangled.  I’ve decided that if he ever gets his own social media site, I’m calling it “A Thousand Paper Mousies” because that’s at least how many of these things I’m going to be making to keep him appeased.  Also, it amuses me, because I am easily amused.

Haunted Dolls, Flower Bridges, and Smol Dooms

Everyone, say hello to Oisin, the littlest Adventure Kitten and newest member of the family.

He joined us about a week and a half ago, and is an adorable little handful.

Integration into the household has been going fairly well, as these things go, but massively time-consuming!  It’s been 15 years since his big brother, Torin, was a baby and he was a special needs kitten and not as rambunctious as this little one is, and I’d forgotten just how energetic kittens can be!  He’s super-sweet, though, when he’s not being a little furry jerk (the office has been renamed Fort Asshole, and he goes there when he gets too wound up and is just attacking everything).

He’s also being trained to be a leash-cat, which is a new kind of training for me, too.  Today we went to the park in town to get used to other people and Outside Noises for a few minutes (he’s still in the carrier when we go, because he’s not ready to be out on the leash yet).  He did really well, and got heaped with praise and snuggles, and then got chicken when we got home.  Eventually he’ll be able to go on Adventures with me, and we’re all looking forward to that.


Before he moved in, I went on a trip out to Western Mass. before the really nasty heat wave that came through, and stopped to check out the Bridge of Flowers out in Shelburne Falls, and it did not disappoint.   It made me wish I’d brought the DSLR with me, instead of just my smartphone.


Seriously, just look at this gorgeousness!


There was even a cat lounging at one end, so of course there was a small crowd of people hanging around and photographing him.  I mean, really, look at how ridiculously handsome he was!

On the way home, I stopped at a cute little antique shop and cafe that operates out of an old train station depot, because I’m a sucker for antique shops.  Being me, I always go investigate the little nooks and crannies and dusty back corners and, in doing so, found The Attic.


This is fine…I’m sure it’s not haunted at all up here…


Nope, definitely nothing possessed or anything…


I mean, come on…


Of course I had to go check out the train tracks, which clearly don’t have any kind of ghost trains that run in the middle of the night or anything…
Other than that, I’ve been painting little monsters and watercolor pencil and ink flowers, and working on getting Oisin and Torin integrated enough that I can work on the website and some other projects without having to keep such a close eye on them.  Torin is perfectly fine in my work room, but it’s not possible to kitten-proof it, so I can’t have Oisin in with me while I’m working until I can room-proof him.


There’s an art-related project in discussion at the moment, which I can’t quite share info about just yet, but will soon, once details get hammered out, but it’s SUPER EXCITING, Y’ALL AND I CAN’T WAIT!

Until next time, open roads and fair breezes, my friends!

News!

One of the things I’ve been working on is being able to make prints of my art and also have the ability to sell them.  I’d originally planned to suck up my aggravation with Etsy and set up a shop there, but then they went and decided that, in addition to charging sellers a fee for shipping, they were ALSO going to start penalizing sellers for not offering free shipping.

Funny thing about Etsy.  It’s the online equivalent of a mall.  They don’t own the stores, just the building which they rent space out from.  This is basically like your local mall telling the stores that they set the stores’ prices or they’ll put them in the basement so no one can find them, which is a serious breach of HOW RETAIL WORKS.  (It’s also a form of extortion, so there’s that.)

Yeah.  Not going back.  That’s one “fuck you” to the sellers I’m not willing to deal with. Which put me in a rough spot because, well, at the moment I’m only making about $5/month, with a few dollars here and there from other revenue streams, and that’s not enough to cover the cost of upgrading my website to be able to add a storefront plugin. I had a credit on my account with them, and yesterday I got a 40% off on an upgrade email, the combination of which reduced the upgrade cost by about 50%.  I borrowed the money, because my pride is impressive, but my mama didn’t raise that big of a fool.

All of which means that, combined with the fact that we fixed my desktop computer so that it can handle having files downloaded onto it again and therefore I can do prints of my paintings and artwork, my current project for the next couple of days is updating theriverswaywarddaughter.com to include a section for selling art and things directly from my own website.  

Stay tuned!  Exciting things are coming!

Spite Monuments Are Some Of My Favorite Things.

(Originally posted at https://www.patreon.com/riversdaughter)

My deepest apologies for dropping off the planet!  My schedule got eaten by home repairs, doctor visits and, to be honest, my bank account hitting mothball-stage, all of which conspired to effectively ground me for a bit.  But!  Things seems to have stabilized a bit, and I’m back up and running again, albeit closer to home than usual….


A friend on Twitter posted a thing recently that asked “Without naming your city, what is your city known for?”, and I thought about what was nearby, and was reminded that one of my favorite spite monuments is just a few miles away: the John Brown Bell 




So, back around the start of the Civil War, there was an abolitionist named John Brown.  Mr. Brown appears to have had a rather “V for Vendetta” way of going about things, and made quite a name for himself as he went around doing everything he could to set off, well, basically the Civil War (he was going for a large scale anti-slavery revolt, which, I mean, is more or less what the war was, so… he sort of succeeded?).  He eventually ended up getting pinned down and captured at the Harper’s Ferry fire station where he and a few folks had holed up in Virginia, brought to trial, and executed for treason and murder, along with a few other folks, which had something of a catalyzing effect on the whole issue and helped push things toward the war.


Shortly thereafter, a company of soldiers from Marlborough, Mass. were stationed down in Harper’s Ferry, because war, and as part of the capture of the area, were told to salvage anything they could.  Several of the soldiers were members of the Marlborough fire department, and they had a fire station with no bell, and well, the Harper’s Ferry fire station had a really nice one, so they decided to take it home.  There’s some additional shenanigans where they can’t get the bell home by reason of transportation funding, and it ends up buried in a garden for safe keeping for a while, before it finally makes it way up north to it’s new home.


The war ends, time passes, and Harper’s Ferry sets up a wax museum about the whole thing because we really like museums to things like major historical events in this country, and they decide to approach Marlborough about getting the bell back to put in the museum, figuring that the city would cheerfully hand over the bell.


This did not go as they planned. Raise your hand if you’re surprised.  No?  Didn’t think so.  Y’all are smart folks.


They try this several times.  At one point the words “Neener” and “tough noogies” are allegedly used by the chairman of the Marlborough Historical Society.  At least one mayor of Harper’s Ferry has made comments about trying to steal it back, but well, it’s wired with a very nice alarm system.



It’s currently sitting right downtown in a small park, looking like just another relic of some random historical event (Massachusetts has a ridiculous number of things with plaques commemorating everything from actual major historical events like Bunker Hill to “George Washington once rode a horse through this intersection on his way to somewhere else”…no really, that one’s in Waltham), but it is apparently a rather hotly contested item between the two places, and I find myself deeply amused by the whole thing, and I may giggle just a little every time I drive past it.



Oh, yeah… the park’s name?  It’s Union Park.

Art, Life, and The Inevitability of Finances

Uuuugh….

Recently I let go of an art project that I’ve been trying (and failing) to get off the ground because of well *gestures at the state of the world*. I hope to take it off the shelf again someday, because I really love October’s Market, overgrown craft fair and bastard child of faerie and goblin markets that it is. Sadly, though, the world is messing with my head in ways that make it all but impossible for me to work on it in the way that it needs to be, and so it was time to let it go. *insert overdone Disney song here* I’m sad about it, but sometimes you have to know when to put down the rock so you can pick up something else.

Which frees me up to focus on other art things and traveling more. Or well, maybe not as much travelling as I’d like, since my bank account ran out which has effectively stranded me on the side of the road, out of gas, in the middle of nowhere. *cue rolling tumbleweed and a hawk screeching in the distance*

Not to fear, though! I’ve been working on reworking how I paint some of the cute little monsters and ridiculous fish I love to paint, that make people smile, so that I can do prints of them (right now they have a LOT of metallic paint, which doesn’t print very well), and am also working on prototypes for possibly making some of them into stuffies, because who doesn’t want an emotional support monster to help you feel better when the world is scary? Plus I just got a commission for a batch of Evocations (a kind of bottle charm that I made for October’s Market that folks seem to like and I’m not going to object) to ship out…

I’d been planning on doing the selling of art and monsters on Etsy, despite my dislike of their business practices when it comes to how they treat their sellers, but last week they announced that they’re now going to start punishing sellers for not having free shipping, and just…I can’t… I haven’t been happy with them in a long time, but yeah, that’s straight up extortion, and I flat out refuse to do business with any company that charges as much as they do and thinks that they control my business decisions because I’m renting space from them. I will find a way to scrape together the cash to upgrade this site and add a shopping cart and things, so that I can just sell my art right from here, and the hell with it. It’s more expensive and more work on my part, but it’s better for my temper and sanity in the long run.

So, yeah. A little good, a little bad, a little “Well, now we try this road and see where it goes”…