Some Like it Not

When I was in my teens I was pretty obsessed with the 1920s. Though the idea of being a flapper wasn’t very akin to my own very by the book follow the rules goody goody two shoes Hermione of Western New York personality and general behaviour, I loved pretty much every aspect of that period in our history (at least, that is, the study of it). I even did a history term paper on it.

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And occasionally dressed up for 1920s photo shoots with my little brothers.

 

With the recent release of the first film of the Fantastic Beasts set, which takes place in New York City in 1926, my renewed interest has brought me to searching the clothing, home styles, and accessories of the time, while listening to my various Big Band recordings. Unfortunately, this means I get pretty much the same subject line and search result no matter where I look…..

 

The Great Freakin Gatsby.

 

Gatsby Party this. Gatsby Costumes that. Daisy Daisy Daisy Daisy Blah.

 

Look, I enjoyed The Great Gatsby when I read it in high school, but it is not the Be All End All of Roaring Twenties Culture and Existence. And I’m really sick of being encouraged to be the next Daisy Buchanan. She was a shallow bitch and you know it.

 

(I could be wrong . . . I loaned my copy to a boyfriend right before we broke up, and he, like some tightwad jerk who had just gotten dumped for all the wrong reasons, never gave it back . . . so I haven’t read it in a while. But I’m pretty sure I’m right.)

 

But seriously, there are so many more great options, besides that trainwreck of a high society ‘love’ affair, that we could be using as an example of the time! Here are some of my favourites, mostly fictional, but all worthy. You could plan a party or a costume from pretty much any of these, without even coming near Fitzgerald.

 

P.S. this shit’s all from memory, so please don’t mind any accidental inaccuracies or blunders:

 

  1. Thoroughly Modern Millie – Julie Andrews, Carol Channing, and an all around fantastic cast provide a jolly setting with great songs, fun dance numbers, and unfortunately some extremely racist portrayals, in this modern-gal working woman meets high society jaunt and bungling mystery solving romance and story about friendship. I mean, it’s pretty much all those things. There was even a recent (okay, not that recent…2000…that was, like, two years ago, right?) stage production based on the 1967 hit. Raaaaazzzzzzbeeerrrriiieeeesss.
  2.  Singin’ In the Rain. A personal favourite. Follows actors and a production company through the transition from Silent to Talkie. With Romance. And comedy. “Woooots the Big Ideeea?”
  3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Wizarding World before Potter. With cocoa. I mean, really.
  4. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Sexual Tension. Women’s Lib. Good Vs. some very very nasty Evil. In Australia. The seasonal reverse got me really confused until I remembered they weren’t in England (I have trouble deciphering some accents. Sue me. I have hearing loss from standing next to tympani. Allegedly.) Opening credits, btw, look suspiciously similar to the TMM Stage Poster.
  5. Oscar. Oh Em Goodness. It’s so hokey. It’s pretty perfect actually. Stallone. Curry. Tomei. “Not Lisa. The Other one!”
  6. Some Like It Hot. In black and white to hide the ridiculousness of the boys’ makeup. With voice overs because Tony Curtis’ falsetto didn’t sound right. Comedy. Sleezy old men. Romance vs Gold Digging. Music. Gangsters. See-through dresses. And a teensy hint of lgbt+-acceptance.
  7. Anastasia. This Fox (Not Disney, yo!) musical cartoon gave a romanticized, happier fate to the Romanov princess (based heavily on the Ingred Bergman version of 1956), and ends in the City of Lights. Paris holds the key to your heart! (Or it might have just been Dimitri’s hair.)

 

I could go on, but as we all know, Seven is the most powerfully magical number.

 

Despite the end of The Noble Experiment, I seem to have an under-abundance of gin. Shame. Bon nuit, mes amis.

 

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Gryffindorable or Ravenclawesome?

The summer I was 19 I worked at a library on Chautauqua Lake, in Western New York, where everyone else had read and raved about the Harry Potter series. I knew a teensy bit of the first couple books because I sometimes sat in my little brother’s room as the stories were read to him before bed. (I still remember the chills I felt during the scene in Chamber of Secrets where they find Mrs Norris.)

But the biggest exposure came at the Library.

As the various copies of Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, and Prisoner of Azkaban were checked in and out and the upcoming release of Goblet of Fire meant a bevy of holds being put on all four books, my coworkers urged me to begin reading the series. I took RW’s hardcover copy of Sorcerer’s Stone from his bookshelf and halfway through bought my own paperback, which I still have, and occasionally carry with me for good luck.

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[This Book is the Property of The Half Blood Kirstin]

The day my reserved copy of book four came in, I had just finished Prisoner of Azkaban (to this day my favourite of the series) on my lunch break, sitting on the huge stone fountain in the middle of the square upon the edge of which the library stands. I finished Goblet of Fire a few nights later, at 4:00 in the morning, with tears streaming down my face.

There are many such tales of my first readings, third listenings, premiere week viewings when the movies came out, foreign language editions, and myriad collectibles based on props from the movies and characters in the books.

The story of Harry and his friends brings a kind of hope, courage, and entertainment I haven’t found in many other places.

We now have the further magic of Fantastic Beasts to enjoy and look forward to, and the various backgrounds and histories offered by Rowling’s website Pottermore to help fill in the gaps in story and character, answering unasked questions we have about lesser characters as well as mysteries solved about the main ones, and of course, sorting us into our Hogwarts and Ilvermorny Houses.

As the world moves forward, social media and the internet do too. Sometimes for the better, but not always. I do not care for the new Pottermore. I don’t go on there much any more, but I do re-sort occasionally just to see how they think I fall in the House array.

Since the summer of 2000, I have always considered myself a Gryffindor. Until, that is, I read Deathly Hallows and discovered the way into Ravenclaw Tower. After all those years I finally knew where I belonged! To get in you got the chance to Learn Something. As a total Hermione when it came to school work this made me exceedingly happy.

Over the years, as I got farther away from my school days, and I faced other difficult life things, I shifted back towards my original assessment. I was a Gryffindor.

Medieval Hermione

Medieval Hermione reads about it in Pennsic: A History.

My husband, clever and full of tidbits of odd knowledge, is a staunch Ravenclaw. We had a pretty well balanced household, and eventually determined our son would probably end up as a Hufflepuff (though sometimes the Slytherin peeks in). I got to take over Nic’s Gryffindor scarf (made for him by his grandmother who simply knew he liked that Harry Potter stuff), and I promised to make him a Ravenclaw scarf when I could afford the yarn. When I sorted into Ravenclaw for the first time when the New Pottermore opened, I was puzzled and then contented to think I’d finally found the right house – that my DH assessment had been right afterall.

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Matchy Matchy Ravenpuffs.

It meant having to make two Blue and Bronze scarves, though, and that might take a little more time and effort: We’ve been together six years and I finally found the right color yarn a month ago. 

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There is enough for one single short scarf. But this might actually be a good thing.

 

On Pottermore, I have been sorted into Ravenclaw twice. And Gryffindor six times. Slytherin and Hufflepuff only one time each. Most recently I have been made a Gryffindor twice in a row.

I think the mix of results makes me a Gryffinclaw or a Ravendor. But if made to choose just one I am constantly at odds between the two main options. While these options are based on a fictional world and shouldn’t cause one quite this much stress, as I could just choose whichever one I want, or none, or all of them, HP has been a deeply important part of my life for the past 17 years, and not having my House settled actually bothers me quite a bit.

 

As I sit here in my Hot Topic Ravenclaw pocketed sweatpants and my ThinkGeek Ravenclaw Bathrobe, I wonder what Godric’s old hat would really say about me.

At time of publishing, I have just ordered myself a Hogwarts Express ticket case for my new phone and a Gryffindor keychain.

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The End.

 

The Scar: A Harry Potter Alternate Universe

Harry Potter has been part of my life for 17 years. Interesting how numbers can be important. A witch or wizard comes of age at 17.

 

And after 17 years of Harry Potter, yesterday I realized that my son is exactly the age Harry was when Lily and James died.

 

This got me thinking, once more, about all the things that scare me about parenthood, primarily, What would happen to my baby if something happened to me and Nic?  

 

I envisioned the scene at Godric’s Hollow. Voldemort walking through the broken Fidelius Charm and into the Potter’s home. I saw Lily pick up toddler Harry and race up the stairs as James tried to hold Voldemort off without his wand.

I grabbed my light-up holly and phoenix feather wand and carried it with me all day, even inside my oversized handbag while out shopping at the grocery store with C, even knowing it’s a kid’s toy, containing two aaa batteries, instead of being made of willow, or being good for charm work. Not exactly a match for a dark wizard’s unforgivable curses. It was a psychological security measure.

 

I thought about what would happen . . . like, even if a dark wizard didn’t show up, what if . . .

 

What if there really had been a car crash like Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon had always told Harry that Lily and James had died in?

 

I thought about my sister, and how, thankfully, she’s about as unDursleyish as I am. Though she’s got two kids of her own, I know that she would do her best to take good care of my baby, raise him like her own, give him everything she could and make sure he knows he is deeply loved by his whole family.

 

So, what if that had been the case with Harry? What if his aunt and uncle had cared more?

 

What if Harry ‘s cool aunt & uncle had raised him on elaborate tales of magical heritage and a narrow escape from an evil dark wizard after his parents died . . . in a car crash.

 

The perfect opposite of what happened in the series. Harry as an ordinary boy whose loving aunt and uncle told him bedtime stories about a wizarding world to cheer him up as he grew up parentless?

 

I discussed this with my sister all afternoon.

 

If anything happens to me and Nic, Bettie and Oslowe know what to do.

 

And now, without further ado, my rewrite of an excerpt from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

 

Chapter One. The Boy Who Lived.

Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number 4 Privet Drive, were perfectly normal, if normal were a thing that actually existed. They were above average people who might be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they were fascinated by that sort of thing.

. . . Mrs. Potter was Mrs. Dursley’s sister, but they hadn’t met for several years, because the country was just too big and neither of them had the budget for regular visits.

. . . When Mr. and Mrs. Dursley woke up on the bright, cloudless Tuesday our story starts, there was nothing about the blue sky outside to suggest that a profoundly personal tragedy would soon be gripping news readers all over the country.

. . .

Chapter Two.

Nearly ten years had passed since the Dursleys had been woken by the police bringing their nephew up the front step, but Privet Drive had hardly changed at all.

. . . Only the photographs on the mantlepiece really showed how much time had passed. Ten years ago, there had been lots of pictures of what looked like a large pink beach ball wearing different-coloured bobble hats – but Dudley Dursley was no longer a baby, and now the photographs showed a large, blond boy riding his first bicycle, beside his dark haired cousin, both grinning with matching ripped trouser knees from where they’d fallen one after another around the same corner as they learned how to ride. There was no sign that the second boy hadn’t always lived there.

Harry Potter was asleep at the moment, but not for long. His Aunt Petunia was awake and it was her voice which made the first sound of the day.

“Up, boys! Get up!”

Harry woke with a start. His aunt knocked on the door again.

“Come on, get up!”

Harry heard her walking down the stairs and towards the kitchen, and then the sound of the frying pan being put on the cooker. He rolled on to his back and tried to remember the dream he had been having. It had been a good one. There had been a huge fire engine in it. He had a funny feeling he’d had the same dream before.

 

. . . Harry had always been small and skinny for his age. . . He had a thin face, knobbly knees, black hair and bright-green eyes. He wore round glasses. The only thing Harry liked about his own appearance was a very thin scar on his forehead which was shaped like a bolt of lightning. He had had it as long as he could remember and the first question he could ever remember asking his Aunt Petunia was how he had got it.

“In the attack by the dark wizard Voldemort when your parents were killed,” she had said. “I’m sure you’ll have lots of questions.” And she hugged him.

 

 

 

 

Rewritten from:
Rowling, J.K.. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. 1997. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

 

 

 

I’ve made mousse au chocolat, so if you’re feeling at all the way I am, come over and have some. Professor R.J. Lupin had it right, you know.

Smile

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Pain is temporary ~ Glory is forever ~ Chicks dig scars.

 

Einstein

I like a good theme.

 

1995 – London – Museum of Moving Images (gift shop)

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2000 – Washington, DC

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2011 – Los Angeles – Griffith Observatory

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Sleeping Patterns

My baby loves being held while he sleeps. I’m glad of this because I love holding him. But sometimes I need to do things like go to the bathroom and I prefer to do that alone. So I try to put him down and he wakes up and I pick him back up and he falls immediately to sleep again and so I put him down and he wakes up and finally I place him in the cradle in our dark bedroom and he stays asleep and I go potty and we all live happily ever after.

Mornings

After I pour the half and half into my reheated cup of coffee, I pass by the pack n play to make sure he’s breathing before I sit back down at the computer.

The dog, my beloved fluffy companion, is curled on the couch by the window, awaiting some attention which has been seriously lacking the past few months.

It is still very cold outside and snowed a bit yesterday. I’m wearing a heavy open fronted sweater over one of the two borrowed maternity shirts I wear almost every day. They gained favour by opening down the front enough to make feeding easy.

The baby wakes and reaches for the stars hanging over him in the play crib. He’s grown quite adept at aiming for them.

I think about the first time I saw him. I’d been looking at my husband as he held my hand. With a sense of confusion at the voices telling me to turn my head the other way, I did so, and there was this messy muddy baby covered in goo. I’d forgotten what the purpose of this stage of the crucible was. We’d been at the hospital so long that I’d forgotten why we’d gone there. I didn’t expect anything out of the experience except another step in the journey that had taken up nearly all of the three days following Christmas. After forty-three and half hours of contractions, the later of which were at an intensity that was literally off the chart, three hours of unsuccessful pushing, and the final decision that if he wasn’t able to come out on his own we’d have to go in and get him, it was hard for me to remember there was a bright side to it all. When the surgery was done, I’d go to the recovery room, then Nic and I would go home, just the two of us. Business as usual. I had completely forgotten that we had a very good chance of going home with somebody else. I’d forgotten we were there to get our baby. But there he was. Messy but alive.

A minute later they brought him, cleaned up and wrapped in a blanket, to my husband while they stitched me up. At one point they laid him down next to my head. I couldn’t hold him yet. But I remember his eyes. The deepest, darkest blue I’d ever seen. With lashes thick and dark. And so, so beautiful.

Then they took him to the nursery and, after they were done closing the rift in my abdomen, wheeled me back upstairs to my room in the maternity ward.

At around 8:00pm they brought him to me. I’ll never forget that vision: Tiny angel in a Christmas Tree hat, swaddled tightly over a little kimono shirt and a Huggies diaper bearing Winnie the Pooh. His face glowed when he heard me speak to him. And then he was in my arms.

I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t even stand. I was full of medications and anesthetics and completely worn out. My dream of keeping him in the room with me every night was dashed. He could have stayed, but I knew that as exhausted and delirious as I was it wouldn’t have been safe. So after he nursed for the first time and I held him for a while, he went away and I tried to sleep. I kept waking up. It was horrid being alone, in the darkness. Falling asleep after all those hours of pointless labor should have been easy. I kept waking. Occasionally a nurse would come in to check my vitals. Finally at around 1:30 or 2:00 in the morning he came back. It was like in His Dark Materials when Pan had been too far away – that pang in my heart, almost painful, finally eased.

At some point, during one of his midnight visits to me, he was placed in my arms, the nurse left, and instead of feeding, he laid his head on top of my bosom and went so happily to sleep. One time I heard him crying all the way up the hall. Once he was in the room I called to him, and his face split into radiance and he stopped crying immediately. He knew me. He knew me!

 

***

A shower and a few diaper changes later, I sit eating two left over slices of pepperoni pizza and thinking about my postpartum body. The baby cries and I give him his lunch as well.

I gained about 55 lbs during our pregnancy, 20 more than the outer limit of what I was *supposed to* gain. I think of my friends who had at this point already lost more than they’d gained. I still have 19 lbs to go. I try to remember that some of those women were horribly sick their entire pregnancies and I was fortunate enough to have a relatively easy one. I try to remember that every body is different just as every pregnancy is different. I think of my cousins and friends who had easy, short labors, those who have two or three kids, and I wonder why I didn’t get to experience that. Two pregnancies, only one baby to show for it. A three week bleed with a ten hour laborious miscarriage at 11 weeks. A 43.5 hour labor, three hours of pushing, and still I needed a c-section to get my baby out. I think about this and remember: afterwards we were both safe; we were both healthy and, most importantly, Alive.

I look at this little milk-sotted face, sleeping against my breast, (he smiles in his sleep, his eyes slightly open), and I know that while I could never do it again, it was in some way All Worth It. I get jealous of friends who got healthy pregnancies on the first try. I think of those ten months of trying before we had a successful healthy low-risk pregnancy. The tests and exams and poking and prodding and fruitless perfect lab results leading to more questions and fewer answers. I remember the tears, the frustration, the agony, the guilt, the wondering – why couldn’t I succeed in this? And then I look again at this little face. He wrinkles it in his sleep and I wonder if in his dreams he remembers his harrowing journey to reach us. I kiss the wrinkles away and tell him it’s okay and that I’m right here.

Will I ever forget our trials? Probably not. I know with all my heart I could not be looking at This face if it had worked out any other way. I start to lower him into the pack n play to nap and he grasps at me. We sit back down together, his little head resting on Mommy’s Magical Dinner Pillows ™, these ridiculous breasts that finally have a purpose.

He turned two months on Sunday. My little sugar pea. Our sweet and perfect son. My whole magnificent world.

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Our little miracle. photo by Jenny Rader, brilliant and devoted nurse

 

 

Octember 1st

An Autumn Ramble about Knitting and Such

Today is October 1st. It is cloudy, and windy, and rawther chilly at my house (outside and in).

I will work at the massage studio later today, but for this morning I’m taking some time to start a new knitting project.

Or at least try to.


I recently finished one of the longest drawn out projects of my knitting career and now I’m looking for something to occupy the creative centers of my brain/time/soul/whathaveyou.

I say I’d like to start a new project, but the truth is I’ve started about four projects so far this week and none of them have made it past the second row for various reasons.

The most recent attempt was just minutes ago as I struggled to start what looked like a simple (and adorable) pattern for a baby bonnet from the Fall 2012 issue of Jane Austen Knits (Bonnet for Baby Emma by Susan Strawn). I attempted the beginning four times then decided I needed to look elsewhere because I was just not getting it together.

There are a number of patterns I already have that I’d like to try, but they require needle sizes that I do not own. I’m looking for new patterns that work with the needles I already have and this is seeming a more and more difficult task.

My projects of late, excepting of course my 4-year Neville Socks and a baby cozy from What to Knit When You’re Expecting, have been very simple, uncharted, dabbling attempts at making little bags, specifically for gamers’ dice. These can be made with virtually any yarn and any needle, assuming there occur no major gaps for dice to fall through. Eventually I hope to sell a few of them but I wanted to build a stock first. Trouble is I like a challenge and these simple little squares are kind of boring after a while. I don’t know how many more shawls I really need and the thumb of my Crystal Gloves (by Martin Storey found in Rowan Winter Warmers, September 2011) is giving me so much head pain that I’ve not gone back to those either.

Socks seem the ticket. Here in Western New York State I’m about to need warm socks in a big way.

So, what to choose?

My Neville Socks (by Erica Lueder) were knit on size 1 (US) dpns. The next size up I have in any needle is a 7, either straight or circular, but not exactly right for tight circles (I haven’t learned magic loup yet and am not sure now is the right time). So the search continues.

I just printed the longest knitting pattern ever (11 pages!!!) for a sock requiring size 1 needles. It’s either going to be awesome or end up in the recycling bin, so please think good thoughts for me!

If you are a knitter, look for me on Ravelry! My username there is CrimeofPoisson.

Happy knitting! and Stay Warm!

Thoughts on Pennsic XLIV (44)

Sometimes I write about my Medievalist Adventures! This past weekend I had one of those, so here is my newest collection of thoughts!

The C is For Creative

This past weekend, Gunther and I attended the Pennsic War near Slippery Rock, PA. We were able to attend the middle weekend due to the generosity of a good friend in our local group. The following are some thoughts on our mini vacation.

Visiting Pennsic as a Day Trip was one of the best decisions we have ever made in regard to SCA events. I do love the fresh air and comradery of sleeping outdoors, surrounded by friends,  but . . . I am 4 months pregnant; we are poor; our personal encampment style is not at all what I want it to be (our Shire encampment is wonderful!); last time we camped I had a heat exhaustion induced migraine and our neighbors talked drunkenly and loudly pretty much ALL night. Living only 2 hours from site afforded us the ability, however exhausting, to visit for a few hours each day…

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Miracle.

And sometimes, just sometimes, after hardship and heartache, you get a miracle.

Expected January 2016

Expected January 2016

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