Thus The Wheel Turns And Time Begins Again (plus, bonus mushroom soup recipe).

I have now, officially, re-written this post five times.  Or rather, I have wrote 3 different posts yesterday while making mushroom soup, scrapped them 4 times, and am now working on another one, because there’s so many things to say and it’s hard to pick what direction to go in sometimes.

Today is New Year’s Eve, and this wretched year is almost done.  I mean, it had good points.  I figured out roughly what I want to do with my life.  I got the sweetest asshole of a black kitten. I accepted that I don’t actually want to be a Fine Art painter, but that I do love painting silly little things and while I might be a landed person now, I’m a routewitch at heart and I need to be out exploring and that’s a thing I’m allowed to be.  It also had far more death in it than any year should have, and I’m so tired of burying people.  It had far too much horror and despair in the overarching national and world arenas, and just…blarg.

It’s been a long century, this last year, and I’m glad that I chose the word “Play” for my word to focus on for it.  It was a Very Needful Thing to remember to engage with, just to stay reasonably sane and functional.

Some people make resolutions or goal lists for the year, I pick a couple of words as focal points to work with.  Last January, I only picked one.  I knew it was going to be a rough year to start with (we knew my step-mother was dying at the beginning of the year, and we knew that it was going to cause a lot of sweeping changes in the family…I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect there to be as much as there was, so that was a thing), and so I wanted to keep it as simple a thing as I could.

This year, I’m choosing three words:




The world is not going to become a magically better place when the clock ticks over tomorrow, and so I will need to cultivate and maintain a sense of wonder to carry me through. My curiosity and inquisitiveness will be something that will stand me in good stead for what I plan to do, as it is always a good thing to start a question with “I wonder…”

I will need to take what I learn and find, and focus on what I can do with it.  Instead of being scattered and drifting through, I will need to hone in and bring things further into focus and clarity.

With this, I will work to build the framework onto the foundations that I have found, and shape it into the life I want.  I will build more networks and strengthen those I already have.

I will spend time contemplating what these words mean, and how they apply to the situations I find myself in, as each can have multiple ways of being interpreted.

That’s the idea, anyway.  I look forward to seeing where this all goes, as I look forward to having y’all along for company on this ride.

And now, as a reward for slogging through all that… have a copy of my mushroom soup recipe.


4 Tbs. butter

1 small, or 1/2 medium onion, chopped fine

8 oz. package baby bella/crimini mushrooms, chopped fine

2 cups unsalted chicken broth

2 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped (dried can be substituted, if you don’t have fresh)

Pepper, to your taste

Cooking sherry


Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, and cook until soft and getting a translucent (maybe 10 minutes or so).  Add chopped mushrooms, and cook for 8 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add chicken broth, parsley, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about an hour.  Remove from heat and add cooking sherry to taste (I usually use about 2 or 3 tablespoons).  Using a stick (aka immersion) blender, puree to desired consistency.  I like to leave some chunks of mushrooms for texture, but ymmv. Enjoy!

This soup is one of my favorite things to have on cold, grey days, along with a  nice bit of peasant bread.

The Problem With Poppets

“Once there was, and once there was not…”

That is how the old stories start, isn’t it?  Once there was, and once there was not a village far, far away,  just over that ridge there, that bordered a forest as old as time and older than sin, and in that forest was a little house the color of brick and old blood in which there lived a witch…

What?  Yes, dear, I know that’s a run-on sentence.  It’s an old woman’s right to ramble.  Hush, now,  and let your old Baba think.  Where was I?  Oh, right…

…in which there lived a witch…

As witches go, the villagers didn’t *think* she was a bad one, but they weren’t sure, and one can really never be too careful when dealing with uncertainties like that, can we?  After all, her house looked more or less normal, and she hadn’t actually eaten anyone, that they were aware of, and her cats seemed nice, as did the odd man who lived with her, but her garden had a tendency to grow things with berries that looked too much like eyes looking back at you, and fruits that were just a little too strangely colored to be quite right, and then there were the poppets….There was a rhyme about them, though no one knew where it came from.

“Poppet of bramble, branch, and twine

Face like moonlight, and voice of chime…”

Damn, I can’t remember the rest of it.  Something about flattering them and asking them not to steal things that were yours, like your name, or your shadow or something like that.  Don’t get old, kids, your memory gets to being fuzzy and you forget things at the most inopportune times…

The poppets were odd little things.  They should have been much more disturbing then they were, but they had a certain whimsical charm to them I’m told.  Well, at least as long as the sun was out and you knew there were other folks around.  I wouldn’t swear that they were as charming when the sun went down, and I don’t want to find out for sure.  Like the rhyme goes, they were odd little figures, human-like, cobbled together of sticks and bits of brambles and leaves, held together with fine twine, with heads of bleached linen and faces that were drawn onto the fabric.  The witch had placed them around the property, gathered in little groups in the trees and on the fences and you would swear they were watching you when walked by, whispering and chattering among themselves, with voices that sounded like those tiny little wind-chimes you see at the flower shops.  No one ever saw them move, but they were rarely where you saw them last, even if only a few moments had passed.

Some things it’s just best not to think about…

Some folks swore they heard the poppets chiming in the village in the middle of the night, but everyone knows that once the sun goes down, you’d best be indoors and you never look out the windows.  There are things out there in the dark that don’t need to be met, and it’s best to just  let some things be.

What was that, my dear?  Ah, yes.  So it is.  I’m sorry, my children, but I’m told that it’s time for your old Baba to take her old bones to bed.  It’s getting late, and you should run along home before the sun goes down.  Remember to close the curtains, and if you hear the chimes, it’s probably just those little metal chimes from the flower shop blowing around in the breeze…

*  *  *  *  *  *

No, I have absolutely not been staring at the tangled vines outside the window, and thinking how much they looked like little people sometimes and wondering if I could remember how to make little dolls from sticks and string like I did when I was a kid.  Why do you ask?

New Toy Appreciation Post! Also, Susan.

So, I want to say that I appreciate y’all for helping support my hare-brained idea and existence.  It means a lot to me.  One of the things I wanted to share is one of the things that you helped me get, and that is a new piece of hardboard.

What is hardboard and what’s the big deal with it?  It’s basically a piece of mdf (medium-density fibreboard that is sturdy and water-resistant due to the wax and resins that go into forming it), but it’s in sizes and thicknesses that are appropriate for use in making art.  It’s also that thing that you’ll see in a lot of artists’ studios on easels or propped against a wall that have pieces of paper taped to them, and usually are smeared with ages of old paint and gesso and look like a paint pallet exploded at them.  It basically gives you a hard surface to work on that protects the other surfaces you’re working on, or if you’re using an easel, which are not generally  designed for sheets of watercolor or mixed media paper to be used on them.

For somewhere around 10 years now, I’ve been using an 11×14 frameable card.

It works well enough, but it’s not ideal.  For the easel, I’ve been trying to make do with the back of a large sketchbook, and that is so very much not a great surface to work with.  Worse than the cardstock, to be honest, which is why I haven’t used the easel much in years. Really, I needed hardboard.

You wonderful folks and your patronage helped me get a 18×24 piece from Blicks, and it arrived the other day, and *gods* it’s so nice to work with appropriate materials again.  Especially ones that don’t have fold ridges running down the middle of them.

I have to admit, I’m a little confused by working on a clean surface again, after so long with the paint-and-ink smeared cardstock.  I mean, I’m sure that’ll get messy soon enough, but it’s still a bit odd.

I’ve been so happy about getting to work on a good surface that I’ve got a mixed media experiment started *and* a new misfit monster done!

This is Susan.  Susan is a good example of why I shouldn’t think about monsters and flowers at the same time, or maybe she’s a great example of why I *should* do just that.  Either way, I was thinking about monsters and then I started thinking about flowers, and black-eyed susans in particular, and well…paint happened.  She is very friendly, even if she does have a lot of eyes.

She’s done on 4″ x 4″ watercolor paper, with watercolor paint, Coliro pearlcolor paint, and ink.

Now, however, it is past 2 am, and I should probably think about going to bed and getting some sleep.  Sweet dreamings, all!

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Breathing Room.

Thanksgiving is past, and with it comes a few days of breathing room for me.  A lot of October and November is filled with the wrapping up of LARP season until next spring, Halloween, birthdays, and Thanksgiving prep (and recovery), which leaves not a lot of time for anything else.  It’s a whirlwind season of Do All The Things.  Not gonna lie, this year has been extra hard, as family mortality has continued to be a recurring issue.  I lost the last of my aunts a couple of weeks ago, making it the fifth death in the family in just over a year.  I’m okay, strangely, but it is *hard* to keep walking when you just want to sit down in the path and just…not for a while.  I’m mostly tired.

I’m trying to use it as a motivator to live my life on my own terms, because we all come with an expiration date, and I really don’t want to get to mine and have nothing to look back on except a life dictated by others.  I’m terrified of that happening, and so, I keep putting one foot in front of the other.

So, what am I up to?  Trying to get writing again, like really back in practice on a daily basis, instead of haphazard moments grabbed when I can.  Art (such as I can, because kitten and wet paint do not make a great combination).  Considering overhauling my perk offerings and thinking about what I can offer that people might find interesting, balanced against my allergic reaction to paywalls and my physical ability to produce things.  Raising a particularly rambunctious and stubborn kitten.  Trying to find a side job to cover bills while I work on my own income streams.  That sort of thing.

Oisin has been Very Helpful with my writing, and by helpful, I mean holy cats he has Opinions on not having my undivided attention.  I swear, the furry wretch has an internal sensor that lets him know when I’ve got the potential for hitting a writing groove, and decides that Now Is The Time On Sprockets When We Bounce Off The Walls (and windows and furniture and our brother’s head).  This morning I got a whole three sentences before Kitty Parkour began!  At least he’s cute…

The very image of YOU ARE NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO ME HOW DARE?!? (His big brother was trying to climb into my lap.  Oisin was dealing with some jealousy issues about the whole thing.)

One thing that did occur to me is that somewhere along the line, I forgot that slow art is A Thing, not just “how fast can I make X”, but just… take a week or two to paint a proper Foxentree.  That prints are not required, but that I can just make art to be sold as it is, original and one of a kind, and that that is okay.  I mean, I definitely want to do prints someday, and will photograph all of my work accordingly, but if there’s a delay in when prints vs. originals happen, that’s FINE. It is not necessary to do Everything RIGHT NOW.  I can slow the heck down and just do what I do, in the time it takes me to do it, and I don’t need to mass produce everything last week.

Surprisingly, once that dawned on me that that’s where my brain had gone, I was able to get back to the Foxentree I started a couple of months ago and get working on it again.

Capitalism is a trip, y’all.
Other than that, well, Winter in New England has formally arrived.  I don’t care what the calendar says, my yard is buried under 14 inches of snow.  I call that Winter.  Time for buttoning in for a bit, drinking endless cups of tea, and working on stories and crafts to pass the time until the spring, while trying not to lose what’s left of my mind in the dark and the cold and the dealing with having to wear shoes all the time.

The view out my work room window is really pretty, though.

What are your winter projects?

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Behind The Scenes: Playing With Cameras

One of the things I’m working on at the moment, is getting back to better photography.  I’ve got three cameras:  my cell phone one, a little Canon Powershot, and a Canon Rebel t2i.

Today, I decided to take all three outside and see what the differences between them are, on the most basic automatic settings, so I can gauge which ones to use for which types of photography.    Figured I’d share the results, because it’s a really good example of how different cameras show the same image and why photos get edited for color correction a lot.  Plus I thought it was kind of cool.

The first is my cell phone.  Not a bad photo.  Pretty sharp lines, reasonable brightness.  Color saturation is a bit higher than reality, which is not necessarily bad, especially on an overcast day in the woods (aka, the backyard…no, I don’t rake the leaves, don’t judge me), but definitely would need some adjustment if I wanted it to be accurate.

Next is the little Powershot.  Significantly brighter and more accurate color representation.  Not as sharp lines, but that may also have been operator error (I wasn’t being extremely strict, as it was mostly to get a general idea of what I’m working with.)

And last, but not least, the Rebel.  Clarity is decent, and brightness is damned close to accurate,  but it would definitely need some light adjustment on the saturation to get it to look like it does standing out there.

Overall, interesting.  I honestly didn’t expect there to be quite as sharp of a contrast between the phone and the Canons, which I found fascinating.  Definitely something to keep in mind as I go forward.

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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.
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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?!?



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.


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?



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