Death is Smiling

We were walking in Carrollton Cemetery yesterday. This is one of the very few cemeteries in New Orleans that has an in-ground portion of the cemetery. This was lying casually on top of a grave.

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There’s more than one reason that we use the raised tombs found here in our famous cities of the dead. Our water table is so high that remains often come back up. It’s hard to keep the dead down in this watery place.

Of course we left it alone, but it was a very visceral reminder of what time of year it is. Blessed Samhain and remember, when death smiles at you today and tomorrow, it’s probably not a good idea to smile back.

That skull had a tongue in it, and could sing once…

If you want to help the cemeteries here in New Orleans, you can donate or volunteer for Save Our Cemeteries, an organization “dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and protection of New Orleans’ historic cemeteries through restoration, education, and advocacy.”

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What is a Witch

In the course of my job, I came across the book “What is a Witch” by Pam Grossman and Tin Can Forest. I highly recommend spending the $20 for this book. I wanted to share a few of the beautiful pages here because I think that all of the collaborators for this work really got it.

Sometimes you come across a piece of artwork or a book or some creative work that really touches the very heart of you. This book did that for me and I think it definitely deserves a place on the bookshelf of the modern witch.

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Finding Lost Things

A few years ago my mother gave me a nice knife set for Yule. Pretty much everything I have in my kitchen has been garage-saled, gifted or purchased in a moment of need (i.e. probably a cheap big box store buy). My dishes are serious older than I am. I keep thinking that as a 30 year old, I should probably go out and buy some new things, that its OK to let go that broken kitchen thing that is probably on its third, or even fourth owner, but…sometimes I just have a hard time letting go.

So with the things like the knife set, that have been gifted to me, I try to take extra care so that they last me a long time.

There are four knives in this set and I keep them in the nice box they came in. About a year after I first received the knives, one of them mysteriously disappeared. We looked everywhere for that knife! I have people over to my house fairly regularly for dinner and I checked with them…did you accidentally take one of my knives home? (We all have kitchenware at this point that goes back and forth between us, so what would one little knife be?) Nope. Nada. Zilch.

We were baffled. Where was the knife?

It wasn’t in drawers or cabinets. It hadn’t fallen behind anything. It wasn’t left in a dish. I checked high and low! It wasn’t in the living room, the studio or even the bathroom!

A few days ago, the SO did the dishes. I had used one of the other knives the night before in making lemon pepper chicken. He goes to the drawer and takes out the box to put the other knife back where it belongs, and…

Guess what had returned?

That’s right! The other knife! *cue the spooky music*

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Suddenly, after nearly two years, I had a full knife set again.

Usually when I lose something, I ask the multiple spirits of my house very nicely to bring it back. I live with someone who is so fey it hurts, so usually turning to the fairies that live in the house is a good first bet. This is one of the easier little spells/exchanges that you can do to find lost things and it creates a good relationship with anything else mischievous that you might have in the house with you.

Take something pretty, like a marble or a small piece of jewelry and put it under a jar out in the open. Politely ask that if whoever knows where the thing (car keys, hair brush, knife…ect) that you’re looking for is or if it has been taken, to be returned. In exchange, offer them whatever you have left under the jar when it’s returned. When the thing you lost appears again, as it mostly will, take the thing out from under the jar and leave it in a corner. Don’t pay attention to it and leave the room. A fair exchange.

Usually this works.

But for the knife, nothing I tried did.

So how strange that the knife suddenly reappeared again after so long.

After being somewhat paranoid and running through all the various scenarios in my mind where a murderer snuck into my kitchen, stole the knife, used it to kill multiple people across state lines (quite the feat for a small paring knife) and then snuck it back into my house covered in the resultant DNA…

I took a deep breath and decided it must have been Gremlins.

Most of you hear Gremlins and probably think of that terrible 80’s movie, which gave me nightmares as a small child.

But in reality, Gremlins are small, mechanically minded creatures from English folklore. They like mechanical things and they like to take things apart and put them back together…though not always back together in a way that works. Ever hear the story of the cobbler and elves…very similar to Gremlins. Many people think that they were instrumental in helping people develop modern technology.

But they are also delightfully destructive.

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From the US National Archives and Records Administration

Pilots in WWII were terrified of Gremlins getting in their planes and causing issues. In the midst of battle, Gremlins would gleefully help the destruction along. One famous female WWII pilot, Pauline Gower, even went so far as to refer to Scotland as “Gremlin Country” and there are multiple reports of other WWII pilots who saw them.

Listen to an Orson Welle’s radio program about Gremlins here: http://www.richlabonte.net/eps2/orsonradio/421221_Gremlins_64kb.mp3

Roald Dahl, famous author and also a serviceman in the British WWII air force, wrote a famous book about Gremlins after the war was over that became a big children’s hit.

Even Bugs Bunny encountered Gremlins!

There are multiple arguments over where Gremlins get their names, but my favorite is the explanation that it comes from an old English word that means “to vex.”

In this case, I was definitely vexed by the loss of my knife!

I still don’t know what they needed it for, but hopefully as a tool to do something fun (and you know, not stabby…).

I’m just super glad to to have my knife back! And in the future, I will remember to acknowledge and appease these unusual creatures that are often easily forgotten.

 

No airplanes were harmed in the writing of this blog…

 

Mardi Gras Round Up 2016 Part I

Mardi Gras has passed us by once again, but I enjoyed the numerous parades that prove that the Gods are alive and well in New Orleans!

Krewe of Oshun…

Oshun is the Loa of love, sexuality, water and fertility. She is a powerful female presence. The first year I lived in NOLA, I wasn’t overly impressed with this parade. Five years later, this krewe has come a long way! This year they put on a beautiful parade that ended up being one of my favorites.

Their parade was dominated by “goddesses,” beautifully be-feathered and be-jeweled ladies that represented tranquility, love and other feminine qualities.

This parade was also really special because there was a group of Baby Dolls. Baby Dolls were a krewe of African American women whose origins are based in prostitution in the 1800s. African American women were not allowed to work in the legal prostitution district of Storyville and so they dressed up as baby dolls to attract attention. Even after prostitution was made illegal, the Baby Doll tradition continued. The tradition had died out for many years, but has recently been revived by women who are drawn to the history of these strong women.

There were many great sights in Oshun!

The Krewe of Cleopatra was next. This was another favorite. The Krewe of Cleopatra is all female krewe that used to ride on the West Bank. It moved to the Uptown parade route a few years ago and always has beautiful floats. My boss rides in Cleopatra and its always fun when you know a rider!

Krewe D’Etat

Krewe D’Etat’s skeletons are always a fun parade.

 

 

All photos copyright of Lauren DeVoe. Please do not use without permission!

St. Anne’s Parade

In 25 minutes, Mardi Gras will be officially over. The Catholics will be in church, Lent will be starting and the rest of us will spend the next few days recovering. I went out today and walked through the Bywater, the Marigny and ended up on Frenchmen St, which is where all the locals go for Mardi Gras. I followed the St. Anne’s parade, a DIY walking parade that starts in the Bywater (right by my friend’s house!) and grows as it walks. People join in and walk together to the French Quarter to start off their MG celebrations.

I am completely exhausted! Enjoy some of the photos I took!

 

From happily tucked into bed…Happy Mardi Gras All!

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All photos copyright of Lauren DeVoe, please don’t use without permission!

A Fast and Dirty Thranduil Crown Project

Wherein I share some of my costuming projects and natter on at you about clay and hot glue…because I want to.

I wouldn’t say this is a how to…since that would imply that I know what I’m doing. But if for some reason you need to make a Thranduil crown, here’s how I did mine. I was super pleased with how it turned out. It was a quick and dirty project and while there are real tutorials out there by much more serious crafters, my few easy steps did what I wanted and needed them to do.

For those of you who don’t know who Thranduil is…Thranduil is the king of the Woodland realm in the Lord of the Rings saga. You know, that place where Bilbo had to rescue the dwarves and smuggle everybody out in wine kegs?

You know…this guy?

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Possibly the creepiest depiction of an elf ever…scarring many of our 80’s childhoods forever.

Or…better yet…this guy…?

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I ❤ Lee Pace SO HARD.

My friends and I do a Randy Thrandy parade group every year. And this year I decided to break down and make myself a crown.

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