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.

my cell phone is so smart, S-M-R-T

Right around the time iPhones were becoming a thing, I bought a Blackberry, which at the time was still kind of hot shit. Lukewarm shit, anyway. But I could text and check my email and get on Facebook with it, which was all I really cared about. I’m not one of those people that needs to have a shiny new toy every time one comes out, and I never drank the Apple Kool-Aid, so I was happy with it for a few years. But then it got rained on during an excursion to New Orleans, and unfortunately I didn’t realize it right away, because I am almost 40 and I do not spend every waking moment glued to my phone. So it died. I’ve gotten my service through Virgin Mobile for years—another reason I will never own an iPhone is I refuse to sign a contract with AT&T—it’s $35 per month for unlimited talk/text/data, which is literally half of what other phone companies charge, but it doesn’t come with free phone upgrades. I was unemployed at the time and couldn’t afford to replace it with anything fancy, so I just went to Walmart and got a cheap phone for about $40. I’ve been using that for about a year and a half and frankly I was embarrassed to be seen in public with it.

So I promised myself if I got the raise at work I’d buy a new phone, and I did so I did. Virgin Mobile has a few Sprint phones that they sell under their own name that run on Android; I got the Supreme (I think it’s the ZTE Vital if you buy it from Sprint). I guess they call it the Supreme because it has a pretty big screen, substantially bigger than an iPhone (I compared it to my mother’s). Remember when cell phones getting smaller was a mark of advancement?

So far I just have on it my email ,a few social media apps that I actually use (Facebook, Yelp), a couple of games (Words With Friends and Mahjong Solitaire). Oh, and there’s apps for Etsy and Amazon, which is pretty convenient. And Pandora, if I want to listen to music and the batteries in my mp3 player have died or something. It came with Google Books, but I have my Tablet for reading so I don’t know if I’ll use that much. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll discover more as I use the thing. I’ve noticed most apps and games are free now, which is nice. When iPhones first came out there were all kinds of horror stories about people going app-crazy and winding up with a first phone bill in the quadruple-digits.

This is also the first cell phone I’ve had that has a really good camera (13 mp) so I started an Instagram account. I know, I was mocking Instagram as recently as like 2 weeks ago, but I’ve rethought that. I mean, it’s not like anyone’s trying to pretend these are photos shot with a vintage camera and cross-processed on expired X-Pro or anything. We all know they’re cell phone pics with filters slapped on them. I drive past a lot of weird stuff on my commute, what I think of “Louisiana stuff”: buildings that are just roofless shells covered in climbing vines, junked ice cream trucks, rusty water towers and grain silos. I wouldn’t have time to stop and take a “real” photo, but I can take a cell phone photo and share it with people. That, and photos of Hank.

It’s funny that I’ve lived to see this. Generation X is the last one that’s going to have real memories of a world where computers weren’t everywhere. I remember in… 2nd grade? 3rd? playing a game that I’m pretty sure was Oregon Trail on the giant beige box with green-on-black text that I shared with the entire classroom. And that seemed like such a big deal!

the hoodoo that you do

I still mostly make my own Conjure items, but one there’s one seller on Etsy that I absolutely love, Rita’s Spiritual Goods. I got a couple of items from her last week. (Both of the photos are hers, btw.)

work space protection witch bottle

This is a Work Space Protection Witch Bottle; she listed one several months back and I loved it, but I was unemployed at the time so I couldn’t very well justify purchasing it. I’ve been watching her listings like a hawk since I started my new job in March, waiting for her to list another, and when she did I snatched it up within seconds. It’s on my desk at work. I can identify a cats’ eye shell (for deflecting the “evil eye” from negative co-workers), safety pins (witch bottles always have pins or needles or shards of glass in them), and what I think is Spanish moss? That’s sometimes a money-drawing element, but more commonly used for jinxing. (It’s also used for stuffing doll-babies, but that’s more for practical reasons.) It might be some other kind of moss or lichen, though. There’s also some stuff that’s a complete mystery, herbs and bits of stone and something that looks like a nut that’s been painted gold. The seahorse is a good luck symbol and also carries meanings of patience and peristence.

hand of fatima charm bottle

I bought this Hand of Fatima charm bottle at the same time, I just really like that symbol (also known as a hamsa). I recently bought a necklace that looks like a rosary except there’s a hamsa on the end instead of a crucifix. In this one I can identify allspice berries and lavender, which I use in every positive work I make myself, an evil eye bead, and a skull bead. The skull is a near-universal symbol with a thousand different meanings, but in Conjure charms meant to bring fortune to the bearer it usually has a “reverse bad luck” meaning.

I like that I can identify some of the contents and know why they’re there, but I also like that I can’t identify everything. Good rootworkers for the most part “follow the recipe”, but we all have idiosyncracies. It’s like cooking: before you can be great you have to be able to re-create the classics, but once you have that down, a little improvisation can make the dish amazing.

hamsa rosary

This is the necklace I mentioned. The Etsy seller was shutting down her shop, so I got it for 40% off.

Crown of Success charm bottle

This is a Crown of Success charm bottle that I made myself last week. In the center is a High John root that I anointed with Crown of Success oil. It also contains cinnamon stick, allspice berries, vervain, lodestone gravel with gold magnetic sand, and rock salt. I sealed the top with gold sealing wax, sprinkled orange glitter on it, and pressed a crown seal into the top. (I didn’t have to buy the seal, it’s part of a set I already had.)

I’ve also recently become interested in Lenormand cards, a style of card divination similar to Tarot that was used by Marie Anne Lenormand, a Napoleonic-era French cartomancer. I bought a deck on Amazon yesterday; you know I’m a sucker for a pretty deck so had to get Ciro Marchetti’s “Gilded Reverie” deck:

gilded mass market cover

I don’t know a lot about the method yet, but I look forward to learning. As I’ve said before, I don’t believe that cards can “tell the future”, but I think they can be a helpful tool to explore your subconscious. (And Carl Jung believed that too, so I’m in good company.)

The Windsor Ruins

The Windsor Ruins, as I’m sure I explained last year, are all that’s left of one of the largest plantation houses in the state. It survived the Civil War but burned in 1890, supposedly when a guest left a cigar burning on a porch. Wow, that would be an awkward thank you card to write. “I had a lovely weekend. Sorry I burned your ancestral manse to the ground.”

I was here last year in March and it was still pretty wintry, so I wanted to come back later in the spring to take photos when the trees had leaves and things were in bloom. Not that I disliked the wintry look, it went very well with the subject matter, but I wanted to contrast. It didn’t really work out though, on account of it was so overcast that I wound up with yucky white skies. I tried using some effects on a few of the photos, just to make them a little less dull.

The Windsor Ruins

The Windsor Ruins

The Windsor Ruins

The Windsor Ruins

The Windsor Ruins

The Windsor Ruins

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Port Gibson, Mississippi: “Too beautiful to burn”

(Supposedly that’s what US Grant said about it.)

I wasn’t planning on visiting this town, but my GPS took me through it when it was navigating back towards Natchez from the more untamed parts of Claiborne County. It looked pretty interesting, but I was starting to get hungry and it was an hour back to Natchez (and I really wanted to eat lunch at Fat Mama’s Tamales.) I’ll have to try to get back next time I’m in Mississippi, Church Street alone would make it worth the diversion. There are 7 churches on the street and some of them are pretty weird. One of them—the Presbyterian church, I think—has a giant gilded hand atop the steeple, index finger pointing into the sky. And the oldest synagogue in the state is also in Port Gibson; although it no longer has an active congregation, a non-Jewish couple bought the building, which is in a Moorish Revival style, to ensure its preservation.

Claiborne County Courthouse, Port Gibson, Mississippi

Photographing a white building against a sky so overcast that it is also white presents something of a challenge.

Claiborne County Courthouse, Port Gibson, Mississippi

CSA Monument, Port Gibson, MS

I wasn’t exaggerating the town’s demographics, by the way: it is literally 80% African-American, out of a population of about 1,500. And they have to look at this CSA monument every time they drive or walk down the main drag. However, I thought it was interesting that the soldier looks so young. Like, maybe it’s really a monument to all the boys they made fight that stupid war. Especially towards the end, when they were running out of able-bodied males.

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