I think we should call this one “Turducken Barbie”

Oh for Pete’s sake, she’s fleeing the interview!  SHE’S FLEEING THE INTERVIEW!

Oh for Pete’s sake, she’s fleeing the interview! SHE’S FLEEING THE INTERVIEW!

I am really glad I don’t live in Louisiana’s Sixth District, which includes Baton Rouge. The Congressional race is shaping up to be a real shitshow, even by Louisiana standards. It’s a clown car of teatard jackasses still butthurt over the passage of the ACA and concerned about Serious Threats to America like not being allowed to set gay people on fire; plus former governor Edwin Edwards, who did corrupt Louisiana politicians proud when he found a loophole in the whole “convicted felons can’t hold federal or state office” thing: it’s just a Congressional district, so it’s not a “state” office, see? It’s like going into a restaurant and being given a menu that only has “cockroach omelette” and “armadillo roadkill sandwich” on it.

So far the Republican candidate that seems to be hogging the spotlight the most is Lenar Whitney, a former tap dance instructor who is like an unholy cross between Sarah Palin and Orly Taitz. She kicked her run off with a video in which she calls climate change a “hoax”, claims the planet is actually getting colder, and then threw in some Birtherism, because why not, there’s still some milk left in those teats, right? (Spoiler alert, Lenar: no.) Oh, and she used the phrase “lamestream media”, which is always the mark of a Serious Thinker.

Her handlers showed some uncanny self-awareness last week when they accused Cook Political Report editor David Wasserman of “conducting a Palin-style interview”. Apparently this is conservative code for asking a politician about views and opinions that have come out of their facehole; and then having to end the interview when said politician locks up, starts blurting out word salad like HAL after he got his motherboard pulled, gets hustled out of the room by aides, then goes on Facebook hours later and whines about being “gotcha’d” because the interviewer couldn’t handle a Strong Conservative Woman. Yeah, Whitney is definitely reading from the Palin Handbook.

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your reminder that some man-hating feminazis (TM) love make-up

One of the weirdest yet most creative and awesome things to emerge from the Hannibal fandom is the series of Aromaleigh mineral eyeshadows, “This Is My Design”. They released 2 or 3 a week while the 2nd season was airing, and finished the collection out with 30.

I recently purchased all 3 Urban Decay Naked palettes, and I figured that would be the stuff I wore from now until the heat death of the universe. I mean, it hits me right in my sweet spot–colorful enough to be interesting but still neutral, a wide range of shades from barely-there highlights to almost-blacks, and sparkly-shimmery. (The palettes contain matte shades, and I used to wear matte eyeshadow, but at some point in my mid-30s matte eyeshadows started to look really awful on my skin, like I had slapped mud onto my eyelids. So I stick to the sparkles now.)

But being a brown-eyed brunette with fair skin, I love warm gold-toned eyeshadows. And the Naked palettes only contain one, Half Baked, although it is in 2 of the 3 palettes. So I decided I couldn’t live without the TIMD shade Apiary one minute longer:

apiary

Inspired by Amanda Plummer’s sun room and jars of honey (the honey is people), it’s got enough brown/olive in it to keep it from being obnoxious.

So Aromaleigh hooked me with one shade, and then of course it just snowballed from there:

woofveneersurviveperceptionchrysalisbone arenaantler velvet

Basically I bought anything that was described as “greige”, had copper highlights, or looked like an interesting enough brown (which was all of the browns, so I had a hard time narrowing it down). Survive, Veneer, and Woof! are going to look amazing worn together, I think. Bone Arena and Chrysalis will both make great highlight colors. (The name Bone Arena comes from the pilot when Hannibal says to Will “No forts in the bone arena of your skull for the things you love”, which I love for its sheer baroqueness–it makes perfect sense in context, but it’s such a weird way to express the sentiment.) And Perception and Antler Velvet will make good lid and crease colors that will pair with a lot of things.

They’re on sale right now so I could justify buying 8. I think I will eventually also need these colors:

lure cygnus persuasion

Honorable mention:

craquelure

My green eyeshadow-wearing days are behind me but HOLY SHIT I LOVE THIS COLOR. I wish there was some way to turn it into nail polish. (My green nail polish-wearing days are NOT behind me, although I rarely wear polish of any color nowadays.)

Nottoway Plantation (grounds), White Castle, Louisiana

view from 2nd story balcony

View from the 2nd story balcony. The road is LA-405, part of the River Road that parallels the Mississippi River and runs from New Orleans to Baton Rouge—we refer to it as one road, but it really changes depending on what parish you’re in. I love this particular stretch of it and have taken many photos along it. Beyond that of course is the levee and the river itself; the trees you can see are actually an island and not the far bank. The Mississippi is much wider than that.

plantation grounds

The old slave cabins in the background are now hotel rooms, which umm I find rather tacky but whatever. Anyway I’m pretty sure they’re reproductions; a lot of these old plantations let the slave quarters fall apart after the Civil War even if they kept up the main house, for obvious reasons.

Randolph family cemetery

In the background you can make out the Randolph family cemetery, the last burial there was in 1944. It would be kind of weird to buy a house and be responsible for tending another family’s graves.

Nottoway Plantation

The hill on the other side of the gate is the levee.

Nottoway Plantation

This would have been considered the front of the house, the side that faced the river, when it was built.

Nottoway Plantation

The curved part is where the ballroom is, and the ground floor of that section is now a restaurant. It was unusual for a rich planter to have an asymmetrical house in those days, when architects were churning out one Greek Revival after another throughout the deep south, but apparently Randolph wanted his house to stand out. When people passed it on the river, he wanted everyone to know who it belonged to.

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Nottoway Plantation (interiors), White Castle, Louisiana

So as already stated, I had last Saturday’s meetup at Nottoway Plantation. As everything from the postcards to the tour guides hasten to inform you, it’s the largest surviving antebellum house in the state. There used to be an even larger one in the same town, called Belle Grove, which Clarence John Laughlin made famous by photographing for Ghosts Along the Mississippi, after it had already been abandoned for years. It burned down in the 1950s, though.

I only took digital photos inside, since we weren’t allowed to use a flash. 400 speed film is not fast enough for indoors.

2nd story balcony

These openings are called “windoors”. Property taxes were sometimes calculated by how many windows a house had, and sometimes by how many doors. On years where it was the former, the owners could claim these were doors, and vice versa. (Sometimes it was by how many closets a house had, thus the popularity of free-standing armoires in the 19th century.) I’ve been to a lot of plantations, but I’ve never seen this particular tax dodge before.

chaperone mirror

This was a chaperone mirror, so you could make sure no one’s ankles were showing or whatever.

White Ballroom

This is the most famous room in the house, the White Ballroom, which I think is SUPER TACKY, but everyone else seemed impressed by it so what do I know.

White Ballroom

entry hall

Uhhh what the hell.

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City Cemetery, Natchez, Mississippi

This was the last batch of photos from Mississippi and I just got around to editing them. And I still haven’t gotten the 35mm film developed. Just going through a lazy phase, I guess. Meetup was on Saturday and I only brought my Diana and my cell phone.

City Cemetery

City Cemetery

This cemetery is enormous, btw. It goes on for acres and acres.

City Cemetery

City Cemetery

City Cemetery

This is the weirdest headstone I have ever seen.

City Cemetery

This was in the Jewish section of the cemetery. Apparently that hand gesture is a Jewish priestly blessing and signifies the deceased was a Kohen (or Kohanim), a Temple Priest. It’s sort of an inherited thing, as they’re all supposed to be direct patrilineal descendants of Aaron. They perform Temple services and give blessings, but Rabbis are the big guns of the Jewish faith–they’ve studied the Torah and know Jewish law inside and out and can teach it to others.

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Capitalism, gluttony, & slavery: MURICA FUCK YEAH

Welp, we don’t get too many 3-day weekends at the job, and I have to say I feel like I did not waste this one.

Friday I drove to the Tanger Outlets in Gonzales, which is about 20 miles east of Baton Rouge and just under a 2-hour drive from Abbeville. I’ve been wanting to go to the Coach outlet there since the first year I lived in Louisiana but just never got around to it. Yelp reviews said that the prices weren’t much below full retail, unless you went on a holiday, so I figured the 4th was my best bet. I confess myself a tad disappointed on finding out that it wasn’t an outlet so much as a factory store. I was hoping for like, last season’s bags at a reduced price, but instead it was a secondary line Coach makes for outlets and mid-range department stores like Macy’s. Everything was “trimmed in real leather” but nothing was MADE from real leather. I’m not even sure Coach sells old bags or factory seconds/mistakes; I think they might destroy old stock like Chanel does.

But a non-leather Coach bag is still a Coach bag, which is to say it’s made by hand and will last for years if you take care of it. They were having 50% off the entire store and I drove almost 2 hours to get there, so I was not leaving without a damn Coach bag.

coach bag

I knew right away this was the shape that I wanted but dithered for a while on the color. I eventually settled on this khaki/tangerine combo, which is colorful enough to be interesting but neutral enough to go with most outfits that are predominantly earth-toned. It’s just large enough to hold all my stuff, but not so large that I feel like I’m hauling around luggage. And I like that clamshell shape, so I don’t care if it goes out of style. (When have I ever cared about being IN style, anyway?)

There must have been some secret discount on top of the 50%, because the price tag was $358 and I paid $108, and that was with the tax. That’s only about $20 more than I paid for my London Fog, and I’ve had that for several years. It’s funny, as much as I like shoes and always have over a dozen pairs, I don’t care about quality. I’ll wear any old cheap $20 pair if I think they’re cute, and toss them without a second thought when they start to fall apart. Handbags though, I’m willing to spend more on. It’s not that I care about the name Coach so much, but since I was a teenager leafing through the September issue of Vogue I’ve always seen Coach as the best handbag there is, and I’ve just always wanted one. One, shit, there were women in the line with 6 or 7 hanging off their shoulders, and clutching fistfuls of wallets. I felt positively restrained, just buying one.

I got home early enough to do some cleaning, so I wouldn’t have to worry about it for the rest of the weekend, then ate a grilled rib-eye and a baked potato for supper. I don’t know what vegetarians eat on Independence Day and I don’t care.

Saturday was my photography group’s meetup, and in the interests of not having anyone need to be treated for heatstroke, including and especially myself, I’ve moved to indoor shots until Louisiana stops feeling like the mouth of hell is belching on us. Nottoway Plantation in Iberville Parish is one of the few I haven’t seen. It’s the largest surviving antebellum home in the state, and architecturally it’s pretty interesting, asymmetrical with some Italianate elements—those rich planters loved their square Greek Revivals, for the most part. More to the point, it’s a popular event center/hotel these days, which means air-conditioning.

I was pleasantly surprised to be told that photography was allowed inside the house, provided we not use a flash. Most of those old plantations don’t allow photography at all; they say it’s to protect the interiors/original furnishings, but it’s really because they want you to have to buy their gift shop books. This was my first real photo shoot with my new camera phone, and I’m pretty happy with the results. It’s going to replace my film cameras or anything, but it’s always good to have a digital back-up. Plus I firmly believe that everyone should always have a camera at all times. What if you see injustice that needs to be documented? Or aliens? Or aliens committing injustice?!

white ballroom

This is the most famous room in the house, the White Ballroom. The tastes of the filthy rich haven’t changed much in the last 165 years, have they?

I also got some shots of the grounds, it actually wasn’t too dreadful if you stayed in the shade. I went home along the River Road as far as Plaquemines before hopping onto I-10, and took some more photos along the way.

I got home around 6:00, stuffed my baked potato skins from the previous night with cheese and had that for supper, then spent the evening making some novena candles.

novena candles

Sunday was a generally lazy day, although I did get the car washed and do some grocery shopping. The bulk of the afternoon was spent writing letters, drinking Summer Shandy (beer and lemonade), and watching Oz—between watching this show for the first time (I just finished season 4) and binge-watching season 2 of Orange is the New Black, my visual entertainment has been quite prison-themed lately. Then I made meatballs for supper and read The Soul of a New Machine until bedtime. One of the writers for Halt & Catch Fire must have read that book, because I recognize certain things, mostly use of the term “kludge” and an obsession with the early text-based computer game Adventure.

Louisiana opal

I’ve been splurging on myself a bit since I got the raise at work, but I figure I’m allowed after more than a year of being unemployed. (I like to say I was self-employed, because I was selling the occasional print or vintage camera through my Etsy shop, but who am I kidding, that wasn’t enough to live on.)

louisiana opal

This is a Louisiana opal pendant that I bought last night from an Etsy seller who lives up in Leesville. I found out about Louisiana opals a couple of years ago and have been wanting one ever since. Wire wrapping is how most of them are set; I chose this one because I like the unusual shape of the cabochon, the fact that the wires don’t cover much of the surface area of the stone, and the bottom twists that remind me of a letter S.

Louisiana opals occur when the opal matrix forms inside of quartz sandstone. They are considerably harder and less brittle than fire opals or black opals, and so can be cut in large cabochons and set without a protective backing. They are less gaudy than other kinds of opals, appearing to be merely a piece of polished beige-grey sandstone–until you turn them, and green, blue, purple, teal, gold, and aqua flashes out at you. There was only ever one commercial mine for them, the Hidden Fire Opal Mine in Vernon Parish. It was operated on land owned by Boise Cascade, which shut it down after just four years because they figured the timber was worth more than the opals.

So Louisiana opals are quite rare and most existing ones are today in the hands of private gem collectors. But because they aren’t as colorful as other kinds of opals they’re seen as not as desirable and thus are pretty affordable. This is a 24-carat opal (!!), but even set it was under $200. Because they’re so large, set opals are usually sold as necklace pendants or pins, rather than rings. I might eventually also get an unset stone and see what a local jeweler can do with it, but that will probably be expensive so for now I’m content with this one piece.

I just really love these opals. In addition to being a literal piece of the state that is both my ancestral home and the place I’ve chosen to live, I appreciate the subtlety of the stone. I like regular opals, too–I wear an opal ring that my (biological) father gave to my mother almost every day, but they show their colors without prompting. There’s something special about the hidden fire of a Louisiana opal.

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