I now own another weird, random thing I’ve always wanted, for some reason: sea urchin light

sea urchin light

What I’m obsessed with this month: Victorian mourning hair jewelry

This is something I discovered a few years ago and have been hunting for a piece to own ever since. Mourning hair jewelry was made from the hair of a deceased loved one; the idea’s been around for centuries but it was most popular during the Victorian era. Christ, those Victorians were a morbid bunch–although the argument can also be made that it’s healthier to deal with death directly, rather than sweep it under the carpet the way we try to nowadays. Anyway, they say it’s because Queen Victoria went off the deep end when Prince Albert died, that she never stopped mourning (based on how many children they produced in the time they were married, they must have REALLY been in love, know what I’m saying, all that “Close your eyes and think of England” stuff aside) and she was such a strong influence on western culture that everyone kind of  followed her over the cliff.

There are two different styles of mourning jewelry: one where necklaces, bracelets, and watch fobs are woven from the hair; and one where the hair is encased in a brooch or necklace pendant. The latter is my favored style, it can be as simple as just a lock of hair curled inside, sometimes with a portrait of the loved one. But jewelers sometimes got really elaborate with it and made intricately woven/braided patterns or curls or even actual tiny pictures with the hair (weeping willows, pansies, tombstones).

There are a couple of local antique stores with a pretty good stash of mourning jewelry, one in Lafayette and one in Breaux Bridge, but (based on my research) I’ve found it all overpriced for the condition it’s in. And when did antique dealers become so opposed to haggling? Used to be you could make them a counter-offer and if it wasn’t insulting they’d likely take it, because that item could sit gathering dust for another decade before anyone else expressed interest in it. Nowadays you offer $85 for something priced at $100, and they act like you offered to trade them a dead skunk for it.

So I took to Etsy, and last night I found the perfect, and I mean it’s EXACTLY what I’m looking for AND it’s in excellent condition, piece:

mourning hair

Those three curls are a style that was called “Prince of Wales”. The gold threads symbolized true love and the seed pearls the tears of the person who wore the piece. It’s reversible: the pin you see sticking out of the right side lifts up, the center swivels, and you put the pin back to lock it in place. The other side is currently empty, I’m guessing it held a photo that was removed by the last family member who owned the piece before the estate sale. The gold is probably only 9 or 10 k; gold wasn’t really the point of these pieces and they usually had a low content. There are initials and the date 1869 scratched into the back.

The seller was offering this at a price that is more than fair, I’ve seen less elaborate pieces in worse shape go for $100 more than what she’s selling this for. Even better, she offered layaway in the listing, so I don’t have to pay the whole price at once. We worked out a deal, I’m going to pay her $100 a week (I get paid every Friday) until it’s paid for, then she’ll ship it.

The next thing I’m going to hunt down is a lachrymatory, which was a glass vial that mourners (almost always women) used to catch their tears; when it was full they sprinkled them on the grave of the loved one. It dates back to the Romans, but again, it was the Victorians who really made it into an art form. One day I’d love to have a cabinet of curiosities, where I can have all my weird stuff in one place–although that locket is going in my jewelry box, because you better believe I’m going to wear it.

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.

source

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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