Of Watchers, Forests, and Keys

Guess who has two thumbs and a business mailing address! Those keys? Those are my keys for my mailbox at the actual Post Office. Now I can put the PO Box address on receipts and things, and not have to give out my home address to people, just because they bought a piece of art or whatnot!

Of course, it turns out that mailboxes are expensive, so I pretty much just wiped out the entirety of what I’ve made in the last month or so, which means I need to hustle a bit and get some more paintings done and all that, which brings me to the next bit, where I note that I’ve also set up a business PayPal account so that I can use their purchase buttons without dealing with Weebly’s bullshit on Square. I’ve got a new page set up for posting artwork and other oddments for sale when I have them available and I even appear to have bashed my head against the html long enough to figure out what needed adjusting to make it work! It’s not an online store, but it’s what I can do for now, and I’m happy enough with it until I can swing a better solution. Here’s hoping it continues to work!

I guess this means I need to put together an FAQ page to address things like “Do you take commissions?” (no, because of who I am as a person) and “Do you sell prints?” (also no) and all that, having made Decisions on those fronts, plus general bits about shipping policies, etc.

All of this is well timed, as I finished another Watcher painting the other day, and have a bunch of Smol Monsters and even a Foxenwood piece that I’ve been very much wanting to be able to list for so long. Now I finally can! It’s all terribly exciting.

Reshuffling The Cards

The last week has been BUSY.  The studio moved across the house (we swapped the master bedroom and the studio because I needed more workspace and better light, and we didn’t need a gigantic room just for sleeping), and while it’s about half unpacked still, it’s also already worlds’ more functional than the old room.  

The cats are slowly forgiving us for the the upheaval.  Slowly. 

I set up a separate bank account just for business things!  I set up a Square account so that I could take credit cards wherever I go and have an online shop and “buy it now!” buttons that I could use on my website and elsewhere!  I sold a Watcher painting the same day I listed it! 

I also discovered in the process of that last part that Square’s partner, Weebly, who they run the shop segment through, requires you to include an address and telephone number on receipt emails.  While the address is doable, since I’m planning on getting a mailbox to have an address to ship from (I don’t like giving out my home address), I have phone-triggered PTSD from a couple of old jobs, and that’s a total dealbreaker for me.  I have an email address that I use for communication and a screaming refusal to give a third-party organization money to let them tell me how to run my own business and life.  If I wanted a company telling me how to do something, they have to pay me, not the other way around.

Still, I should be able to use Square itself for credit cards, though I’ll have to test it.  I still have PayPal and, as annoying as they are, they do have the ability to create “buy it now” buttons, so I’ll probably be using that, instead.  We’ll see.

In the meantime, I’m also working on some Smol Monster portrait miniatures, which I think are cute, at least.  I hope other people do, too.   They’re on 3 x 3 in. squares, and are in 2 inch boxes, so they are little.  They’re fun, and I love them.

(The smallest one is the first one, and I messed it up, but I’ll let y’all see it, anyway.)

I am absolutely not thinking about doing these for a Sponsor-A-Monster program AT ALL.  Nope.  Definitely not.  (I totally am.)

Still haven’t been able to get on the road. The weather has been “I had to turn the heat back on, for the love of gods!” grade miserable – cold, pouring rain, all that – but it looks like it should be hot and sunny for at least the next week, and once that sun comes back out, I am grabbing some road snacks and my camera and getting out there to see what I can find.  I require a pilgrimage to find an obscure roadside god or weird place or SOMETHING.  It’s been far too long.

(Originally posted at https://www.patreon.com/riversdaughter. Patreon subscribers get to see posts 3 days before they open to the general public, and help me feed the cats and keep a roof over all of our heads.)

The Watchers In The Woods

I was right about there being more to the strange figures in the woods a few weeks ago.

After that first sighting

there was another. This time, there were more of them, these strangers Watchers.

Now, it seems that the Watchers seem to be getting curious about the Smol Monsters, and I don’t know about you, but I’m getting curious to see where this all goes…

(Originally posted at https://www.patreon.com/riversdaughter. Patreon subscribers get to see posts 3 days before they open to the general public.)

In Which A Dream And The Shadow Of A Goblin/Fairy Market Begins To Take Shape

One of my ongoing major challenges for, well, honestly the last 20+ years, has been the endless quest to figure out how to sell my stuff with a shoestring budget and no consistent access to physical locales. I’ve done consignment, which is great, except for randomly jacking fees and the tendency for places to suddenly decide that they just don’t feel like handling consignments anymore effective immediately, leaving you scrambling or putting you out of business completely (guess what happened to my first jewelry business!). I don’t have the output volume or style for most craft fairs and art galleries, websites are expensive and require a lot of equipment and skills I neither have nor care to waste what little spoons I have focusing on, Etsy’s business practices are so abusive and predatory that I refuse to work with them anymore, etc., etc., etc…

This does make selling things A Problem.

Some years ago, a friend asked me how I would describe a fairy market and a goblin market, each in three words, and in doing so, accidentally planted the seed of October’s Market, which is both a little of each and nothing like either of them, and it has been growing and changing since. It got shelved a while ago, because to be honest, I lost sight of what it was supposed to be and I didn’t know how to fix it.

A couple of times recently, I’ve had dreams of sitting in a park under a big, fringed umbrella beside one of those old-fashioned market carts. The cart is small, and just big enough to hold a dozen or so pieces of art at a time, a few bits of jewelry, and a selection of cute-but-vaguely unsettling hand sewn stuffed wrens (it’s their little button eyes, I swear).

These things are all tied together.

I’ve been thinking about these things a lot lately, and I think I figured out a way to get it to work. See, I wander around a lot. I also carry a bag with art supplies and notebooks, because one never knows when one will need to pull over and draw at a scenic overlook, or spend some time writing on a riverbank. I’ve had people ask me about my art while I work, and if I have a website or way to purchase things without cash (seriously, almost nobody has cash on them these days), and I have to say no, and everyone loses.

Until now. After a lot of research and consideration, I’ve signed up with Square, which is a non-PayPal payment processor. If you’ve bought something at craft fairs, farmer’s markets, open studios, etc., where you swiped your card through a chip reader on a tablet or cell phone, you’ve encountered Square, and they’re a really solid, reputable company. I’ll be able to do things like include purchase buttons in my art posts, put things into the free online shop that comes with the account, and

*drum roll please*

I’ll have a secure, portable card reader that can process credit cards and contactless purchasing apps with me at all times, so I’ll be able to sell someone the piece they wanted to buy from me on the side of the road. (It’ll also allow me to set up a small table at farmers markets and whatnot, as well, once I feel more comfortable being around humans again.)

So, that happened. 😀

Naming-wise, I’m using October’s Market for the “shop” itself. It’s the sales portion of things currently, and while there’s a bigger, wider thing that October’s Market represents (like everything in my life, there’s a story to it), for now it’s just a little blanket or table on the side of the road, or in the park, or at the beach, with an artist and a small, ever changing collection of artwork, odd bits of jewelry and other trinkets, and a very small, not-remotely fancy online shop.

I’m not sure why, but I feel like this is going to work far better for me than anything else I’ve tried. I’m a bit more free-range than our society is built for, but this allows for that and I’m really looking forward to being able to take my work on the road.

The Thing In The Attic

Auntie Yaga’s Home For Wayward Monsters

The Thing In The Attic

There was a polite tapping on the office door frame and a small, violently yellow and mauve colored form oozed into the room.  Auntie Yaga looked up from the paperwork she’d been avoiding dealing with, glad for the interruption.

“Susan!  Your timing is excellent,” she said, smiling.  “What can I help you with?”

Susan was the self-appointed receptionist at Auntie Yaga’s Home for Wayward Monsters.  Visitors weren’t allowed without appointments, and Auntie Yaga hated talking on the phone, so Susan had taken on the job of screening and handling the majority of incoming calls.

“We just received a phone call from a couple who have run into a problem with their home renovation.  The woman, Jeannie Harrigan, said that Marika told them to contact us, as it’s likely more up our alley then hers” Susan said, her voice a warm, honeyed alto, entirely at odds with the fact that her appearance was an amorphous, jelly-like blob with a large number of eyes and pseudo-tentacles.  (Some of her relatives had once terrorized Lovecraft himself, a fact which she was rightly proud of.)

Marika was a friend of Yaga’s.  She was a professional spiritworker who specialized in poltergeist haunts, which explained why she’d been called for issues with a renovation.  Poltergeists are very territorial and extremely averse to changes in their homes, and often react aggressively to major upheavals.  The nature of both of their career paths led them to periodically send prospective clients to one another.

“Did she say what the issue was, by any chance?”  

“There’s something in the attic that’s been throwing things and stomping around all night, and it’s making it next to impossible for the family to get any rest.  They’ve ruled out raccoons or other wildlife, and Marika ruled out poltergeist or demons, but said that it was possibly some kind of lurk and to contact you.”

“Alright. Please call her back and set up an appointment.”

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Late the following morning, Auntie Yaga arrived at the Harrigan home.  It was an old Victorian that had clearly seen better days.  It wasn’t unlivable, but it had obviously not been well-cared for over the years and had probably been sitting unoccupied for quite some time.  Just as clear, though, were the telltale signs of restoration work being done to return it to its former glory.  The age and structure explained why they’d called a spiritworker when wildlife had been ruled out.  Yaga was pleased that they’d not automatically assumed ghosts first, which was less common than one would think.  She knocked on the door, which was answered by a younger man in his early 30s.

“You must be Tom,” she said, nodding her head, “I’m Auntie Yaga.  My assistant spoke with you yesterday.”

“I am,” he confirmed, nodding back.  “Please come in. Jeannie’s in the back.”

Tom led her through several rooms in various stages of repair to the back of the house where a woman of similar age was rolling painter’s tape around a window.  Introductions and general niceties were exchanged, and they got down to business.

They’d bought the house a few months earlier for a ridiculously low price, both due to its state of disrepair and the local rumors that it was haunted.  Eager to begin the restoration, they’d moved in and got started almost immediately after signing the paperwork.  

The first few weeks had been quiet, but then they had started hearing noises, like someone banging on the walls or dragging heavy furniture across the floors, but investigation turned up nothing.  First they called in a plumber, thinking that maybe there were problems with pipes, but everything was in order.  They tested for things like carbon monoxide, black mold, and other hallucinogenic elements, all of which had come up negative.  Next, they thought maybe a family of raccoons had taken up residence in the attic and contacted the local wildlife control, but turned up nothing.  The house was surprisingly free of rodents, which was odd given how long it had sat empty, but they’d just been glad to not have to call an exterminator on top of everything else.

Nothing explained the ongoing banging and dragging noises.  So, at their wits’ end, they thought maybe the rumors about a haunting had something to them after all, and contacted Marika, who came out to check for ghosts or poltergeists, but even that turned up nothing.  That was when she told them that they might have a monster on their hands, and had instructed them to call Auntie Yaga at the Home.  They admitted being highly skeptical of the entire idea of monsters, but nothing else had turned up answers.  They were desperate and willing to explore all possibilities.

Yaga listened to them, asking a few questions here and there as they told their story and when they were done asked to be shown to the attic.  Jeannie led her upstairs, while Tom took over taping the window frames.  When they got to the door, she asked that she be allowed to go up alone, to see what she could find out.  Jeannie consented, visibly relieved, and so she continued up the stairs.

 *  *   *  *  *  *  *  *  *

The attic was in better shape than she’d expected, given the general disrepair of the rest of the house.  It had a high ceiling with the original beams still strong and solid, and most of the floorboards were still intact.  There were a number of storage trunks, boxes, and pieces of old furniture scattered around left by former residents, but surprisingly little dust and cobwebs.  Auntie Yaga closed her eyes and listened carefully.  After a moment or two, she smiled, opened her eyes, and said “I know you’re in the corner behind that fainting couch, my friend.  You can come out.  It’s alright. “

There was no response, but she could hear the soft sound of something roughly human sized breathing in the shadow.  There was a faint rattling rasp to it that concerned her a little, but she’d be able to deal with that soon enough.  For now, she sat down on top of an old steam trunk and started talking about the Home for Wayward Monsters that she ran, along with her childhood friend and former Monster-Under-The-Bed, Glatis (named for the Bête Glatisant, or Questing Beast, of Arthurian Legend), and how they helped humans and monsters learn to live with one another.  After a little while, she heard the sound of something moving and a shaking, slightly-hollow voice whispered “They’re destroying my house.  Can you make them stop and go away?”

She turned to look at the speaker.  He was roughly 6 feet tall, but quite hunched over and painfully thin, even for a shadow-lurk.  He was also very, very old and frail.  It was entirely possible that he’d been living in the house for several generations.  She sighed, and mentally swore at the world for the thousandth time.

“Sadly, I can’t.  It’s their house now, and they don’t want to leave”, she replied, gently.

The elderly shadow-lurk bowed his head, and sat down on the fainting couch, his slight form barely moving the dust.

“They aren’t destroying the house, you know.  They’re trying to fix it.  Other than you, it’s been empty for a very long time.”

He huffed.  “I’ve been here since this house was built in 1842.  It’s my house more than it is theirs.”

“I know, but you and I both know that human laws don’t recognize that.”

He huffed again, but nodded in agreement.  She sighed regretfully.  He was so old, and had been here so long.  She had to find a way to either convince him and the homeowners to co-exist, or to convince him to move to the Home with her and the others. He was just too old to do anything about the humans in his territory anymore, and they both knew it.

He was silent for several moments.  She waited, patiently.  After a time, he spoke again.

“I don’t want to leave.  This is my home, but I’ve been around long enough to know how the human world works, and I’m too old to fight it.  If you think you can convince them to let me stay, I will stop trying to drive them out.  I’ll even make sure that they never have any problems with wildlife or trespassers, to the best of my ability” he said, then added in a conspiratorial whisper “I’m too old to be a threat to anyone, anymore, but don’t tell them I said that.”

She smiled.  “I won’t.  Let me go talk to them and see what I can work out.  I’ll be back in a little bit.”

With that, she went back downstairs to tell the Harrigans what she had found and see what they would decide to do.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

About an hour later, she made her way back up the stairs to the attic, this time with Jeannie and Tom following somewhat nervously behind.  They’d agreed to meet the elderly shadow-lurk and were willing to let him continue to live in the house for the rest of his days, with some stipulations.  In short order, an arrangement that was amenable to both the Harrigans and Eliphalet was settled on, and Auntie Yaga promised that she would check up on them all regularly as they got settled in their new lives together.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Later that night, back at the Home For Wayward Monsters, as she wrote up her report and documentation for the day’s newest adopted family, she smiled in satisfaction.  In addition to adopting Eliphalet as a member of their own family, the Harrigans had offered to have him help with the restoration plans to include more shadowed areas for him to live comfortably in. She had a feeling they were going to get along well.  

Hers was an odd life, to be sure, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

(Originally posted at https://www.patreon.com/riversdaughter. Patreon subscribers get to see posts 3 days before they open to the general public.)

Spring Roads and Melting Snow

Back in the first days of January, 2020, I started a list page in my bullet journal titled “Places To See”, and started to fill it out with what was going to be places that I planned to visit and write about for the travel blog I was planning to formally do. I’d wanted to do something like travel blogging for years, and well, I had the time, the internet, and Patreon available to me, so dammit, it was time.

Yeah, that worked out well, huh? A+ timing.

It’s now almost a year and a half later and I’m just a few days away from being fully vaccinated (I’ve had both shots, and am now in the two week waiting period) now. I still have the time, internet, Patreon, and the original list. It’s going to need to be updated, but that’s a matter of a couple hours’ worth of research, and not a big deal. Hell, getting this site back up to date took longer than this will.

Of course, I’ve also got an actively raging case of agoraphobia now, and some New and Exciting Social Anxiety problems. I had the agoraphobia and social anxiety long before, but they’ve gotten A LOT worse in the last year and a half. It’s really hard to logic your brain’s hysterics down when it’s not actually wrong, for once. It really has been life-threateningly dangerous to leave the house or talk to people, and well, “it’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you” and all that. So now I have to work on getting them back under control, on top of things.

Anyone could do it if it were easy, I guess?

*sigh*

I’m debating on whether or not I can get the brain weasels under a semblance of control before Memorial Day and, if so, taking a trip over to Yarmouth to finally check out the Edward Gorey House. The timeline is mostly because trying to get on and off the Cape after Memorial Day is a nightmare and even the damned Pandemic didn’t slow that down much. (Mutters something angry and incoherent about selfish assholes who couldn’t be arsed to sit their asses down for a few weeks, making this whole ordeal orders of magnitude worse for literally everyone else.) If I’m going to go, it’ll be easier to do so before Tourist Season starts, or wait until after Labor Day when they all go home.

I have to say, it’s both amazing and terrifying to be thinking about actually getting back on the road and Going Places. I haven’t been more than 20 miles from home in over a year, and while I love my home and my cats and my partner, OH MY GOD I NEED TO BE ON THE ROAD AND NOT STUCK IN THIS DAMNED HOUSE ALL THE DAMNED TIME.

*ahem*

I don’t do well being stuck in one spot for long. It’s not natural.

Guess it’s getting on time to see what roads are thawed out enough to travel on, which are washed out and gone, and which I’ll have to come back to later. It’s going to be good to grind the rust off and get some miles under my feet again, even if it’s going to be a while still before I can do any longer distance runs.

Learning New Skills: Fun With Photomanipulation

One of the things that’s been slowing down my ability to do a Massive section of “Auntie Yaga’s Home for Wayward Monsters” is the fact that you can’t photograph monsters lurking in the shadows, and while artwork is great, if one is wanting to say, oh, do a Sponsor-A-Monster type thing, photos work better.   Sure, you can do photomanipulation to add them in, but that involves technology, software, and skills that I don’t have.

You can see my problem.

I was poking at the problem the other day, and in the process of chasing down several rabbit holes discovered that my Chromebook has a drawing app buried in it’s factory defaults.  The touchscreen is Wacom, so it’s actually decent for drawing on, and well, one thing led to another, and I’ve been having fun learning how to draw things into photos.

There are very definitely monsters and ghosts in the photos.

It’s looking like I may be able to run a Sponsor-A-Monster program after all, with a little practice!  Some of my travel stories may also be able to get a little extra “help”, too, if I get good enough at this.

*cackles wildly*

(Originally posted at https://www.patreon.com/riversdaughter. Patreon subscribers get to see posts 3 days before they open to the general public.)

Dishwasher Souls, Goblin Markets, and Other Curiosities

I collect odd things.

No.  That’s not right.  I collect ephemeral, liminal things and interesting curiosities.

A dried (probably cursed) pomegranate in a small birdcage.  Several souls, carefully bottled and labeled after washing, stored in a velvet-lined box.  Flowers painted in moonlight.  Somewhere around there’s a star, wrapped in a scrap of silk.  Threads of rose and nettle. Ghosts, moth dreams, roadside gods…you get the idea.

I also collect unusual humans…a mixed media painter who makes amazing abstract art in soap; a soapmaker and herbalist who also creates beautiful jewelry and wall art out of wire and found objects; a professional muse…

Sometimes, I even collect places.  An empty rest area in Maine at 2:15 in the morning in late October.  A chimney with no house deep in the woods in mid-March.  A parking lot antique shop of abandoned amusement park paraphernalia run by retired carnies, only open when the stars are right. 

I don’t know what to do with this, to be honest.  I suspect that, in a different world, I’d have a table or shop tucked away in a corner of a bazaar or open-air market where I’d trade a story or curiosity for a coin or two, or have a little travelling wagon that would appear or disappear with the seasons for the same.

My little curiosities and ephemerals have a harder time in a world that has certain…

expectations

of how Things Are Supposed To Work and it doesn’t like strange little collectors and purveyors of art and other oddities like me.  We are messy and don’t fit into neat little boxes.

Still, I collect my curiosities, my cursed fruit and weird little monsters, and someday, hopefully, I’ll figure out how to share them the way that they need to be.

(I’ve been reexamining what had been October’s Market and wondering if I can get it back to what it was supposed to be, as it got very much lost in the weeds trying to figure out how to make it something that could exist in the “Real World”, and in the process forgot what it actually was.  The fact that we live in a capitalist hellscape that makes it exceptionally difficult to do what I want to do with it doesn’t help, and I need to find a way around that without losing it’s heart again.  I desperately miss my Market.)

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

Something Weird Is In The Woods

I was walking through the Woods one night, and saw a strange, pale creature walking along the road.   The Wood was silent as snowfall, despite being a clear, spring night, as if all the other creatures held still and quiet as it walked.  It nodded slowly as we passed one another, and continued on it’s way.  As it passed out of sight, the trees seemed to sigh and the Wood released the breath It had been holding, and the owls and chorus frogs began to call once more…

I have a suspicion that my new friend here may have other friends somewhere in the Woods, as well, and I am looking forward to meeting them.

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

KonMari’ing A Room and Life Path To Better Suit The Way Things Are

Lately I’ve been staring at my work room and I’ve got to tell you, it’s been driving me out of my skull.  It’s cluttered, and the shelving (or lack thereof) is not working for me, and the lighting is frustrating, and and and…

I need to KonMari this room, but in the process, I need to figure out what the path I’m going to take going forward from there is, because that is a huge part of determining what stays and what goes.

It’s more than a little daunting, and I’ve been hemming and hawing and staring at the walls and avoiding thinking about it, like a good little packrat.

Earlier today, Himself mentioned that he’s been wondering why we didn’t make this room the bedroom and floated the idea of swapping the master bedroom with the work room.  (He wasn’t aware that I’ve been pondering a massive overhaul in here.)  See, when we first moved into the house, we sort of defaulted to “X is the master bedroom because that’s the master bedroom, so obviously that’s where it goes”, and to be honest?  It’s a massively wasted space.  It literally has the bed, two nightstands, a table for folding laundry on, and a whole lot of unused space.  The dressers are kept in what is basically an antechamber that separates it off from the main house, which doubles as a sort of walk-in closet.  The work room is half its size at the other end of the house (standard New England ranch) , and is a much more reasonable size for a room that is literally only used to sleep in.

So, we’ve decided to swap the rooms and see if it works better.  I mean, we own the house, it’s not like we’re moving any time soon, and if we hate it, we move things back.  Which means that I need to do the thing with the going through All The Things so we can do so is a sane fashion.  Which also means that I need to figure out that thing where I decide the creative path I head down is.

To be honest, I’m pretty sure I’ve already decided that route, but this is going to make it official.  There’s a lot of stuff I’ve been hanging on to, unused, for nearly a decade now, and honestly, if I haven’t used it by now, I’m really not going to, and if I change my mind later, I can replace it.

Something tells me that I will never bother replacing things like the plastic rabbit I found at a junk shop that I was going to incorporate into a mixed media sculpture that I don’t remember anything else about, or the now-rusted shut old tin that once held skeleton keys but hasn’t even been opened since 3 homes and 7 years ago.  They honestly don’t spark joy anymore, or even a glimmer of nostalgia, but are starting to spark guilt and self-reproach, so it’s probably long past time for them to be thanked for the happiness they once brought me, and for them to go on their way.

Let’s face it.  I’ve been mostly focused on writing and paint/ink based art for a long time now, and that’s where I’m happiest.  It’s time my work area reflected that.  (Also, the other room has exponentially better lighting and enough space for me to actually set up and use the floor loom, which the current room is too small for.)  On to new things!

(As a note, for the applicable tiers, due to vaccine-related joint pain, the monthly postcard is going to be delayed a bit.  My hands have been REALLY unhappy with me, and not up for the level of dexterity I need to do something I’m happy with.)

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