Sunday, January 30, 2011

Vampires of the world, beware!

Yes, I  have Vampires on the brain.  I have spent most of my free time lately working on my newest project, the Vampire Hunting Kit.  Now some of you may balk at this, but Vampire Kits go back to the 1800's where they were sold to travellers who might be heading into questionable territory, especially areas with rumors of Vampiric activity.  These kits were fantastic... each with diverse and yet similar implements of destruction.  The most common kits included the crucifix, rosary holy water, garlic and of course a stake or two.  Ones that were more involved contained black powder pistols that shot silver bullets as well as scary syringes with long rabies treatment type needles.  My kit won't have a black powder pistol, but there may be something silver inside... 

The kit also has a story.  The Vampyre Hunter's Guide, which is included with the kit, was written by Thornton Barrett Conway in the 1800's and a mysterious letter was discovered in one of the kit's secret compartments that dated back to a time before Mr. Conway wrote his book of tips and instructions for Vampire Hunting.  No one knows for certain the identity of the man that wrote this letter, but it is certain that the words recorded on its paper were the last ones he would ever write.

As you may see, I have spent most of my time focused on the kit, assembling the items necessary to include in the kit, drying out my own herbs, trying to get the courage to sneak into a Catholic church to fill a vial with holy water....  That's still on the list of things to do.  So many little details that I, myself, feel a little mad with the entire process.  I'll be ready soon to build the box and that is when the fun begins.  Then... it won't be long at all.  So, you Vampires of the world beware!  Into every generation.... ah, you know the rest...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ophiuchus, or not to Ophiuchus?

For those who do not follow or believe in Astrology, this post will have little meaning for you.  For those of us who believe in planetary influences and traits that have been handed down to us by the stars and the alignment of the sun, you may be in the same boat I am tonight.  All my life I have considered myself a Sagittarius.  It's what the books said, what the horoscopes said (which I actually dont' put any value into), and it's what the t-shirt said that I wore when I went on that long ago crabbing trip with  my Granny, Paw Paw and Uncle Jody down in Delacroix when I was seven.  All these years I've identified with the archer, agreed that Sagittariuses were disorganized and loved to travel.  Now today, I find out that I am one of the many displaced Sag's shifted into this new and virtually unknown new sign and old constellation placed right between Scorpius and Sagittarius on the horizon, Ophiuchus.  I think this is worse than merely having your sign shifted one way or another, I'm now a whole new unknown, the 13th sign. 

What do they know about this Ophiuchus anyway?  Hard to spell, harder to pronounce; the first human in the zodiac, a healer, a doctor who is destined to achieve great heights.  Great.  Is he a fire sign?  Is he mutable or fixed?  Is he ruled by Jupiter?  I'm at a loss here.  Thanks to the ancient Babylonians that cast out the 13th sign around 3,000 years ago, now today in 2010 we're all asking, what the ----?  I'm not surprised they didn't want the 13th sign, they didn't want the 13th month either so we end up with the blue moon every year or so.  Maybe now they'll put the 13th floor back in skyscrapers.  The most dreaded part of all this, in my opinion, is that Ophiuchus is seen as the 'end of the world'  or 'doomesday' sign.  Should the events occur in 2012 that have been spoken of and some black hole / planetary disturbance begins, it will open directly in the middle of the Ophiuchus constellation.  How ominous is that?  The 13th sign, where the 13th month should be along with tidings of a potential black hole disaster that may have last visited earth when the dinosaurs were mysteriously wiped out.  None of it bides well with me and I'm wondering what it all portends.  There are some who wouldn't make much of this new information at all, there are some, who were Sagittarians before today that will always be Sagittarians.  Does it make a difference if we were born when the sun and stars were still in alignment with the Sagittarius sun, or will it begin with those who were born after the shift.  When was this elusive shift?  Who will rewrite the books and how will they know what they are talking about?  If the books and influences must be rewritten, than all signs will change.  To make room for a 13th sign, then aspects of the other 12 must be shifted proportionately for all 13 to be accurate.  It seems to make sense to me that way.  Again, who will determine which traits fall under which specific alignments, should we go with the Japanese who have always held onto the 13 signs and see what their astrologers have to say?  Should we all travel to Stonehenge and Avebury, sit inside the stone circles and see what the wheeling stars overhead have to contribute to these new factors? 

I'd like to sit in the stone cirle of Stonehenge before the mouth of Ophiuchus opens up to swallow us whole.  None of us know for sure what will happen on the winter solstice of 2012, we can't say for sure on that day or in the days that will follow.  If the government won't admit to the accidental dispersant of biochemical agents that murdered all those birds in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana do we really believe that they will tell us that a great black hole is opening on our way to death and destruction?  In the words of a song written by an old friend, "I'll see you all in hell, it will soon be 2012 I hope you packed a bag, why don't you tell a friend?"

So for those of you who woke up this morning with a new "identity," do you have anything to contribute to this story?  Leave your comments below if you like.  I'm sure I'm not the only one that feels a little lost.  Especially all the new Ophiuchus' out there... we're like the blank slate in the universe of stars, even though Ophiuchus has his hand in the milky way.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

It's easy being Green

Well, the new year has come and gone.  Another of my resolutions was to begin taking my woodworking career seriously.  By this I mean my online business, The Green Dragon.  Over the past few days I have turned out six brand new Vampire Stakes, so I'm off to a fairly good start.  I started The Green Dragon website in 2005, two weeks before Hurricane Katrina came and ripped up this region by its roots.  My career in woodworking goes back much farther than that.  If you've read any of my previous blogs, you will know that I lived homeless in Atlanta and could not find a decent job.  At that time I had only worked for fast food joints, a brief stint at Disney World and two years at Terror On Church Street, a year round haunted house in Orlando.  What I'm trying to say is that I had no skills.  These jobs all placed together in the experience section of a job application do not exactly speak of credibility.  It was at this time of despair, once I retreated home to Louisiana, that I came up with the brilliant idea that I would build guitars for a living.  It sounds fine in theory, but in practice, no professional guitar builder is willing to take a clueless girl into a shop who has only studied band saws and table saws in the context of a textbook, let alone teach her the fine secrets of the craft.  In the end, I began looking into custom furniture shops, the concept is there, same tools, learn the trade, build guitars!  This was in 1995.  An older man by the name of Hugh Hogan took me on as an apprentice in his shop.  He gave me a strong foundation in the craft and let me borrow tools to work on projects at home in my spare time.  He had already apprenticed his two sons who had both gone on to have woodworking careers (One built a table for Sir Elton John) and he taught many of his grandchildren.  In so many ways he was like a grandfather to me and I really owe everything I have learned over the years to his willingness to take a chance on this textbook kid. 

My second lucky break was getting a job in Greenville, South Carolina with Michael McDunn.  He is, by trade, what one would call a fine woodworker.  He builds fantastically imaginative custom furniture and has an art gallery in the front of his business.  The collective name for this venture is Michael P McDunn, Woodworking studio and art gallery.  This man is incredible and it was from him that I learned to fine tune my trade, as he taught me to fine tune my chisels and scrapers to work perfectly.  We used hand tools along with the standard power tools and created works of art from slabs of trees, tree trunks, found wood and amazing lumber from those southern Appalachians.  I can't begin to say how much Mike influenced me over the four years that I worked for him.  He took a rough, green carpenter and taught me how to fine tune, to make things absolutely perfect and to restore an antique piece to perfection, even if it arrived in pieces inside a large box.  There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about Mike and his simple wisdom.  "Bit by bit," he used to tell me when a job seemed overwhelming.  Along with  my personal favorite, even if it's not his, "No good deed ever goes unpunished."  I can't say either how many timeless truths I learned in that studio on Rutherford Road, how many of his friends I became close with or how many amazing artists I met that had their artwork placed in his gallery.  I always feel like Mike is looking over my shoulder to make sure that I am doing a job of utmost perfection.  That inspiration has never been lost on me, although I have worked for employers since my time with him that do not find this type of work ethic to be of any use whatsoever.  It's really disheartening when you want to give your all and someone really, truly wants you to do as little as possible to make it right.  Some jobs are better left behind.

I don't know what Mike thinks about what I have chosen to use my talents for since he spent so many years helping me to improve upon them.  I'm sure that he doesn't want Vampire Stakes in his Gallery, no matter how beautiful they turn out.  There are a few things I may inquire about when I complete them, but that time may come later.  Although I love working with furniture, especially antique restoration, I truly love doing works of a smaller scale, especially wood turning.  One of Mike's friends and colleagues, Tom Zumbach, who is a wood turner by trade, once told me that he loved wood turning because it was "instant gratification."  There were not countless hours spent putting together the case for a piece of furniture, building the drawers, adding drawer fronts, finishing the job, sanding it, spraying it again, sanding it, spraying it AGAIN then adding the hardware, whew.  Throw a rough block onto the lathe and in an hour or so, (less if you are Tom) you have something that is finished!  I really like that concept.  Many of the things I do are not so simple, but I enjoy delving into this craft that is almost as old as time itself.  To take pieces from a tree that a neighbor cut down, to dry it out over the course of years and then turn it into something useful is one of my favorite things to do.  I am also a fan of using recycled and reclaimed wood.  In many ways, I have grown into the name, The Green Dragon.  Not only do I find unwanted wood and hoard it for future projects, I now use less harmful water based finishes and I have very little waste.  It's actually easy being green.
I only wish that my love for wood could sustain me financially through life so that I could continue on with something that truly makes me happy.   Perhaps one day I will find a niche that is well received enough to offer such a commitment.  Perhaps my book of poems will hit the best sellers list!  For now, I am content with my Vampire Stakes, Magic Wands, Druid Sticks, ancient games and other woodworks that aren't quite as odd.  I never did build a guitar, but I did build a very nice Ashiko Drum last year.  Do feel free to visit my woodworking website to see what it is all about.  I also enjoy building custom pieces for anyone who requests it.  Strangely enough, I have never written about my woodworking, though I have written many of my poems about other topics while inside the workshop.  Go figure, it's bound to happen one day. 

Until then, my book, I Wandered from New Orleans is still available on my author's website, among other places, and my woodworking items are on display and for sale at The Green Dragon's website.  Pop in and tell me what you think!  Cheers!