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.
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.
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.
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”…
Those that have been around me for more than five minutes quickly learn that I am a fan of the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Not because his writing is particularly good (it’s not…the man needed to both back away from the thesaurus and go find one at the same time, no small feat, that, and his politics, racism, and classism are the stuff of nightmares all on their own), but because the stories, once you read past the surface issues, are strangely compelling and envision a universe more deeply weird and intriguing than we imagine it to be. I’m also greatly amused by how much the mundane freaked him right out. Like, “Farmers in the mountains can read! They must be in league with ancient horrors from beyond the stars, because there’s no other rational explanation, especially in the part of the country that pioneered public education for everyone!” is a recurring theme of his, and I find it hilarious. Especially as a woman who grew up as a townie in rural New Hampshire, the grand-daughter of Eastern European and Irish immigrants. My existence would give him the vapors and it’s delicious.
Anyway, one of my favorite stories is “The Colour Out Of Space”, which takes place in Western Mass., and (here be spoilers!) involves a town that gets flooded to save the world from the eldritch horrors coming out of some farmer’s well. One of the interesting things about Lovecraft is that he often would allude to current events or scientific finds in his stories (the discovery of Pluto as the discovery of Yuggoth from whence the Mi-Go come, the first expedition to the Polar Plateau on Antarctica in the Mountains of Madness, etc.) and “The Color Out of Space” is no exception to this. In this case, it was the creation of what is now the Quabbin Reservoir, which provides water for most of the eastern half of the state. This, of course, means that I’m fascinated by it, both on the merits of story and the truth of what it is in it’s own right.
The Quabbin is a huge manmade lake now, where once stood the towns of Enfield, Dana, Greenwich, and Prescott. The towns were disincorporated, the residents (both living and deceased) relocated, and any remaining land not flooded divided up among the surrounding towns. The area immediately surrounding the Reservoir is state land and a number of state parks, and is accessible to the public for hiking and visiting, with some pretty tight restrictions, as it is the main source of water for 47 towns and cities, include Boston, and not much else. The surrounding towns remain small and somewhat isolated, distanced from the roads that surround the reservoir that claimed the drowned towns.
The other day, as I was driving aimlessly, I realized how close I was to it, and decided to visit for the first time in the 14 years that I’ve lived in the state, and see it for myself. The state run visitor’s park, while neatly maintained is and has a beautiful visitor office, feels strangely…void. Like, it’s lovely, but it’s like an artist’s rendition of what it should be, if that makes sense. It’s too…pristine and orderly green, and it’s honestly somewhat unnerving in it’s well-manicured state. I didn’t go very far in, and continued down the road to visit the cemetery where the remains of the dead of the four towns were relocated to. It’s still a working cemetery, but only for the few folks who once lived in the lost towns, and their families, and it is beautiful.
As I walked among the headstones, thinking about how strange it was to walk past stones and statues that can date back over 200 hundred years but that have only stood where they do for 81 years, musing on the surrealness of the place…these memorials from lost towns… I noticed there was one other person walking around, occasionally stopping to adjust a flag (it was the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, and there are people buried there who fought in wars as recent as WW1) or carefully brush lichen from an old marble stone. A tall, older gentleman who, while clearly not a park employee, just as clearly knew his way around.
Eventually our paths crossed and we got to talking, as you do. It turned out that his name was Gene Theroux, and he’s the president of the Friends of Quabbin a local organization dedicated to preserving the area and it’s history, and also a member of some of the families who lived in the drowned towns. He gave me an impromptu tour of the section we were in, and bits of history about the people buried there, as well as some of the issues that the group runs into with the State regarding better care for the cemetery. It’s maintain relatively well, as cemeteries go, but given the scale of sacrifice that was asked of those families, they deserve far better than “relatively well”, in my opinion. (There’s a link to the issues they’re working on on the front page of their website, which I’ve linked above. I highly suggest checking it out.) I learned a fair amount about the people who had actually lived in the area, as well, from him and it was really neat.
What had started out as a wandering drive on a sunny day and an unplanned side trip out to follow a curiosity born in fiction and terrible prose, turned into an opportunity to learn a bit more about the history of the state that I have made my home from a man who very clearly loved the land that his ancestors had lived on for generations.
Not a bad way to spend a Friday afternoon.
(Quick Administrative note: This will be the last immediately public full post that I plan to do, as I work on some changes to better serve my patrons, since I had already told folks I’d be posting it before I decided to start doing early access and that sort of thing. After this, most posts will be available to the public about a week or so after here and at https://theriverswaywarddaughter.com/. Thanks for your understanding!)
Opening posts are about as painful to write as the About Me page is. I don’t know you yet. You don’t know me yet. We’re all new here, and none of us have an idea what’s going on, where we’re going, or why that handbasket is looking awfully smug over there in the corner.
(Can a handbasket look smug? I mean, it doesn’t have a face, but just look at it. It’s rather pleased with itself, and I can’t decide if we should be worried or not. I wonder if it has cookies…)
Where was I?
Oh! Right. Opening posts. The worst. How about we all agree that I wrote something cool and witty here, and just get on with the rest of, well, whatever this is.
Seriously, I think the handbasket has cookies. We should go look. I mean, one should never turn down free cookies, even if they do come from a smug-looking handbasket. Care to join me?