Is it still August?

So, August is grinding on and on and on, but there’s only a week left. Truth be told, September is nearly as bad, but at least by the time it rolls around you know the end is in sight. Plus, I’m taking a week’s vacation at the end of September, so… I got that going for me.

I do not do photography during the summer, except for rare exceptions where I think of something that’s both air-conditioned and worthwhile to photograph–the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans was probably the most successful of those ventures. I like to spend the time I would usually be out photographing combing antique stores for more cameras, but that’s fraught with its own kind of peril, as small town Louisiana antique stores tend to be housed in old buildings that are poorly air-conditioned. Or not at all, as I learned to my horror when checking out a couple of “stores” in Sunset last spring that turned out to be old barns. It was only the first week of June and already terrible; I can’t imagine they actually keep the places open during the dog days of summer. Anyway, I’ve been slowly working my way through the Louisiana Antique Trail over the last few months, although I’m saving Slidell and Covington for when my bank account is a little more recovered from the car purchase. Those towns both contain large antique “districts” with several stores, and I’ll probably want to spend some real money.

I haven’t had much luck finding anything at the stores I’ve visited thus far; I think hipsters are doing to vintage cameras what they did to vintage typewriters a few years ago. What I tend to find in stores lately is either broken and cruddy, or way overpriced. I did find a couple of fun items for my Conjure experiments at a store in Maurice (a small town between Abbeville and Lafayette) last weekend.

road opener lamp

Small oil lamps are not at all an unusual item in antique stores, although finding a small clear one kind of is–for some reason the small ones tend to be opaque or painted glass. This one was only $12, and it was totally intact with a wick that had never been used (although it was severely frayed at both ends and I had to trim a bit off), so I bought it and turned it into a  into a Road Opener spell lamp.

lamp close-up

Inside the bowl:

  • Broom straws (for sweeping away obstacles)
  • Dragon’s Blood resin
  • Orange peel
  • Five Finger Grass (along with salt–see below–frankincense, and angelica root, this is an “add to everything” ingredient for me)
  • Rock salt
  • A bay leaf that’s also my petition paper (use a Sharpie)
  • A quarter, a dime, and a nickel, which adds up to age and has my initial scratched onto each one
  • A few drops of Van Van Oil
  • Some orange glitter. I was hoping it would make a suspension in the oil but alas, it’s too heavy and just settled to the bottom.

I’m also waiting for delivery of a piece of tourmalinated quartz and I’m going to add that when I get it, assuming it’s small enough to fit in the lamp without taking up too much space. Crystals are not a traditional element of Conjure and to be honest I mostly consider them to be New Age Woo, but I just kind of felt like I wanted a crystal in this one and I’m going with my gut. File it under “Won’t hurt, could help”. One of the alleged elements of this stone is that it helps with “self-sabotage”, and that is definitely something I struggle with.

fish bottle

I also found a tiny blue bottle shaped like a fish; it once held a brand of bitters called Fisch’s. I dug out the cork fragment lodged inside with an awl, then soaked it first in Dr. Bronner’s and hot water then Florida Water and hot water, several times each. It’s now holding an offerory oil for my ocean altar of sandalwood, vanilla, and ylang-ylang essential oils in a carrier of sweet almond, and I dropped in a pearl from an old earring (I stopped wearing earrings years ago). An offertory oil isn’t a condition oil like Van Van, it’s just an offering: “I made this for you, it smells nice”. (It does smell amazing BTW; I don’t measure but it’s about an ounce of carrier and it was something like 5 drops each vanilla and sandalwood and maybe 8 of ylang-ylang.)

fish bottle top

Normally what I do with old bottles is carve a smaller cork out of a wine bottle cork, but this bottle is so tiny it didn’t seem like the best solution. I’m pleased with the workaround I came up with: I found an old glass bead big enough to not fall through the neck, and sealed it to the bottle with gold sealing wax. If I want to use the oil, all I have to do to re-seal the bottle is pass the bead through a candle flame to re-soften the wax, and then stick it back on the bottle neck.

lucky cat dish

I also went to World Market that day, and I found this little Lucky Cat dish for just a few bucks, I think it’s supposed to hold used tea bags. It’s going on my prosperity altar to hold small offerings/items. My “family tradition” is Catholic and I mostly try to work within that and not appropriate much from other cultures, but Lucky Cat and Buddha are small exceptions, both on my prosperity altar. Oh, and I like the Hamsa, but that’s such an ancient symbol that it’s really kind of universal.

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Memorial Day weekend: we salute the fallen hamburgers! I mean, soldiers.

We don’t get too many 3-day weekends at the job; between receiving raw materials from all over the world and shipping finished product all over the world—places that don’t necessarily share our holidays, in other words—production falls behind too fast if we’re always shutting the place down. We’re even open on Mardi Gras, highly unusual in south Louisiana. All of which is to say that I savored every moment of my Memorial Day weekend. (Except for all of the self-righteous sneering I saw on Facebook yesterday about people having BBQs and whatnot. Do you think the people doing the sneering spent all day weeping and wailing in a military cemetery? I don’t.)

I kicked around several ideas for something to do on Saturday, and at the last minute remembered that my department manager mentioned last month that she went to the Strawberry Festival in Ponchatoula and that the town has a lot of antique stores, which she knows I like. I Googled it, and most of them are clustered around the intersection of Pine and Railroad, the original town center. I pride myself on knowing where all the best antique stores within a 2 ½ hour drive are, so I had to check it out.

I wound up buying another Polaroid SX-70, which I know is kind of crazy because I just bought one last month that I haven’t even started to refurbish. But this one has the metal body, which I really prefer over the plastic. However, it’s also an autofocus model with a sonar unit (I didn’t take a photo of the camera but this is what it looks like), which I’m not crazy about. For one thing, it seems like something that’s likely to no longer work. For another, I prefer to focus the dang camera myself. Also, I dislike it on purely aesthetic grounds. I wish it could be removed, although it can at least be turned off and the camera returned to a manual focus setting. Anyway, it was only about $30, and the patches were already halfway peeled off so it looked like an easy clean-up. I got them all scraped off and bought a set of oilskin patches from an Etsy seller that have a graphic flowers-and-birds design in primary colors on black. I’d had that favorited since I bought the first SX-70, but since that one has a black plastic body I don’t think that skin would look as striking on it (because it would be black on black). For that one I may spring for the alligator skin, or maybe I’ll just come up with something crazy myself. Whichever camera I wind up liking better I’ll keep, and put the other one up for sale in my Etsy shop.

It didn’t take long to see all the stores, and at close to 90 degrees it was a bit warm to just wander around. Although it did look like an interesting town and I’m adding it to the list of possible meetup sites. I knew I was going to pass Denham Springs on the way back home, which is another town that has a lot of antique stores in the old downtown area. Most of them are in buildings that date back to the beginning of the town, like the first furniture store and movie theater. My favorite is Heritage House, which is in the old boarding house. Every room is like a little store all on its own.

American Tourister train case

When I was a kid, we still had kicking around the house a set of light blue Samsonite luggage that was my mother’s when she was first married. Either to my father or her first husband, I’m not sure, but they were probably 15 or 20 years old by the time they became my toys. I was obsessed with the train case and used to daydream about running away from home just so I’d be able to actually use it. I have no idea what happened to that luggage set, probably it got sold or given away when we moved from the house on Torres Avenue to the one on Conovan Lane, because I never saw it again after we moved.

All of which is to say, I’ve had a vintage train case-shaped hole in my soul that I’ve been trying to fill for years. They’re a not-uncommon item in antique stores, but they tend to be overpriced and/or torn to hell on the inside. I found a closet at Heritage House that had 3 train cases; one of them was way too beat up, one of them was too small, and then there was this one. A few light scuffs on the outside, I can live with that, inside… it was definitely used a lot, but it had an interior plastic lining that could be very easily cleaned. It even had the sectional tray that fits inside the lid! Vintage train cases are ALWAYS missing that tray. Cost, with tax: $23 and change. And at the counter they gave me the key, so I can even lock it if I want. I Googled this brand, looks like it dates from the mid-1960s.

The rest of the weekend I was pretty lazy. Sunday I cleaned and ran some errands in Lafayette, including to Ulta. I now own all 3 of the Urban Decay Naked eyeshadow palettes, so my life is complete. (I like make-up, okay DON’T JUDGE ME.) Oh, and I think I hit a dove with my car on the way home! Two of them were in the road, they flew up as my car approached but one flew TOWARDS my car instead of AWAY from it. There was a thump and an explosion of feathers. I love animals, but whatever. Doves are basically the pigeons of rural areas, and to quote George Costanza, we’re supposed to have a deal with them: they get out of the way of our cars, and we ignore the statue-crapping. I would feel worse if it had been some kind of egret or heron, even though those are as common around here as seagulls were in California. After the ‘rents went to bed I watched the Hannibal season finale (OMFG NOTHING WILL EVER BE OKAY AGAIN), and streamed a few episodes of this insane Korean soap opera I have recently become addicted to, Vampire Prosecutor. It’s about this prosecutor? He’s a vampire. Monday I got the car washed, re-read The Virgin Suicides, and ate a hamburger. I like mine with melted cheddar, a pineapple ring, and BBQ sauce. Try it sometime!