Wednesday, January 13, 2021

2 AM Moon and the Tie That Binds Us To Our Homes

My Paw Paw had a few decks of Squeezers cards when I was a kid.  I probably learned most of the card games I know on a pack of Squeezers.  The picture side had two bulldogs, straining at their chains, each attached to a doghouse. At the bottom of the card it read, "There is a tie that binds us to our homes."  I still have those cards, mostly because I'm a sentimentalist and I save things that are important to me.  Especially family things.  Not everyone that's from New Orleans played with a deck of Squeezers cards, but all of them understand the tie that binds us to this home.  New Orleans has a strange magic about her. Strangers come to visit and are often enchanted, never again to leave.  Natives who venture to move across state lines in pursuit of sandy beaches or mountains will inevitably feel the pull, like a riptide in the Gulf of Mexico, pulling us back home to her briny, humid shores.

Near the end of 2020 I was inspired to put together another book of poetry, culled from the last ten years of my writings.  My first book, I Wandered From New Orleans was first published in October of 2010 and it included works that spanned a greater period of time. From my own perspective, I feel the two books together are a coming of age story.  I see my own continuing evolution as a human as well as the inevitable patterns that repeat.  It's an interesting process, to look at one's self through the lens of time.  I can say I have come a long way, and I still have a fair journey ahead.  There is always so much to learn.

I discovered that even when I journal for myself, I sometimes write cryptically.  In retrospect, I don't always recall exactly what I was talking about because of how I describe things symbolically and less directly.  I'm always in awe of poets like R.M. Drake, who can write conversationally and have such a great impact with their words.  My words are often visual and symbolic, with an intent to convey layered  interpretations.

2 AM Moon Tracy L. Conway

I wanted to make sure that the two books were somehow connected by more than just my name.  I like how it turned out.  Even just comparing the two covers, one could say that they are like night and day.  The cover photograph from, I Wandered From New Orleans was taken at the corner of Esplanade Avenue and Bayou Road.  My favorite unknown ancestor lived at the corner of Bayou Road and North Broad, a number of blocks down the street.  It was because of this, my appreciation for the Peace Monument, and the fact that Bayou Road is the oldest road in the city of New Orleans, that I chose this location for the photo.  The cover for 2 AM Moon is designed in layers.  If one looks closely, there are stars, behind the stars there is a map of New Orleans from 1854.  The Mississippi River is near the bottom where the moon is reflecting on the water in an unconventional perspective.  Esplanade Road runs from bottom to top of the cover, between the two O's in 2 AM Moon.  At the very top of the cover, Bayou Road crosses Esplanade on the map at the same location where the photograph was taken for the first book cover.

I don't know if anyone else will find this kind of intentional weirdness to be interesting, but I feel like it's just more layers of hidden meaning, perhaps akin to my fascination with secret compartments and all things standing hidden in plain sight.

I feel it is important to pay tribute in some small way to those who have come before me, not only my ancestors, but the community, the people of the city.  Historically, the people who lived and worked together to make New Orleans into the cultural melting pot we all know and love, and miss.  No one knows what it means to miss New Orleans more than we do, and I'm missing her spirit right now.

Thank you for stopping by!

Signed copies of my books 2 AM Moon and I Wandered From New Orleans are currently For Sale at my website, as well as a discounted book bundle package.

The Kindle version, or unsigned books may be purchased at Amazon.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Walking the Fringe

I broke my foot almost two months ago.  The last couple of years have been a whirlwind of change and new beginnings.  For instance, I ate guacamole... this is actually a big deal.  There have been lots of changes.  One of the less savory changes was the loss of my old website, The Green Dragon.  The domain wasn't renewed and it was sold to someone else, who is not interested in selling it back to me.  This August would have made 10 years.

I'm still going to celebrate ten years in August, because I'm still here and I'm still making new and unusual things on my new website, Fringe Walkers Studio.  The broken foot gave me the time off I needed to build all this up and I'm just waiting for the search engines to find me all over again.  I thought I would use this space to talk about what is available on my site.  Hopefully some new faces will run across these curious products and come check them out.

The number one thing I have that fascinates people?  The antique reproduction Vampire Hunting Kit, to be sure.  It has a video on YouTube and a Facebook fan page, which you can locate by visiting my site.  I think it's the most interesting and complicated thing I've ever designed and created.  The items within came from all over the world.  Hard to find herbs, seeds and roots, tools, stakes, candles... even strike anywhere matches.  Would you believe those are practically illegal now?  This IS a new kit, an antique reproduction, but it looks old... that's the whole point behind the design.  Most people that build new kits buy a box at Hobby Lobby and fill it with store bought items.  That's why they are so much cheaper than my kit.  But I digress...

Other fun things I love to make?  Vampire Stakes and Magic Wands.  In ten years I have created hundreds of these and they have made their way around the world to their new owners.  I love doing a good job and receiving emails from happy clients.  It really makes my day, and it makes this job so much more worthwhile when it is appreciated.

Walnut Wood Magic Wand
Pecan and Walnut Druid Sticks
Purpleheart Mini Coffin Tobacco Pipes
Custom Vampire Stake

I thought I'd share some pictures while I'm talking about these things I love to do.  The Magic Wand on the left is made from Walnut.  It has a really nice curly pattern.

The Pecan and Walnut Druid Sticks are an example of a basic set of sticks.  I've had extremely fancy and beautiful Druid Sticks made from exotic woods.

 These guys are made from Purpleheart.  They are not very large.  They can fit easily in your pocket and you can look as cool as you please smoking your tobacco from these.

 This Vampire Stake has been on  my mind for a long time.  I always thought it would look really cool to have a square pointed end and a turned handle.  This stake meets and exceeds the expectations I had when I first thought about the design.  This one is available on my website.

Coffin Shaped Novelty Sign
This is the newest line at Fringe Walkers Studio, Novelty Signs.  These have proven to be very fun and they have gone over really well.  There are lots of new ideas about to hit the Studio's website, including a lot of regional New Orleans items.  This sign is for an imaginary Victorian Era shop called the Spinster Sisters.  They provide widows with all the essentials required by Victorian Mourning Customs of the day including hair and jet jewelry and the heavy black mourning attire that widows were forced to wear.  Times have changed, but you can remember them with this sign!  They have a "brother store," Graves Brothers, Undertakers.  Both available at the Fringe Walkers website.

 Thanks for stopping by!  If this little blog piqued your curiosity, swing on over to the studio and have a look around!  I am always happy to discuss custom designs that you might have in mind.  It's also our motto... Turning dreams into reality!

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Goddess Angizia

I resurrected my old blog, not knowing exactly what I would add or when I would add something after all this time. (The last entry was January, 2011.)  It seems the day I attach it to my new website, I have something interesting to report.  I first came up with the name ‘Fringe Walker’ in a rant blog that I occasionally contribute to.  I found Fringe Walker to be pretty cool, so my first thought was, what a cool band name.  Fringe Walkers.  Well, that didn’t really pan out, but during the time I was set on using the name, I went looking online for some cool Fringe Worthy photos and ran across a photo of a statue with part of the face missing.  I assumed that it was some ancient Renaissance piece that someone Photoshopped.  I still believed that until today, when I was doing research to find out exactly who the statue was and where it came from.

I had always believed the statue to be a man.  It looked like a man and it had seemingly short hair and wearing some sort of tunic.  I was endlessly scrolling through photos of Renaissance Statues until I typed in, out of frustration, half-face statue.  What I discovered was shocking… and cool as hell.  The photo that I used for the Fringe Walkers page was originally taken by an Italian photographer named Mimmo Jodice; one of the masters of Italian contemporary photography. 

“The name of the piece is Alba Fucens Angizia, 2008 and it was originally presented in a show called Figure del mare (Figures from the Sea.)  This show was composed of more than forty works and organized in collaboration with the Municipality of Cinisello Balsamo.  It gathered the latest and deepest reflections of the artist and entwined two key themes: the idea of the sea as a vacuum, a no-scape place.  The silence and lingering time is conceived as a reaction to the chaos of contemporary life and the persistence of the past into the present.  The representation of fragments of sculptured bodies and faces as left overs from the classical age in the Mediterranean civilization, which the sea itself has been in charge of preserving, reshaping, and finally returning to us.”

As I continued to look for information about this mysterious flawed statue that had returned to civilization after her long rest in the sea, I was delighted to discover that she is the Goddess Angizia. Angizia was a snake deity, famous for Her knowledge of healing herbs.  She was famed for Her ability to heal those who had been poisoned, especially those bitten by snakes, and She was said to have the power to kill serpents through spoken charms.  Unless I am mistaken, (from all the Italian translations with Google) the statue was discovered in Alba Fucens, in the region of Abruzzo, Italy, which was roughly the homeland of the Marsi, a pre-christian Pagan tribe that worshiped the Goddess Angizia.  To this day, the region of Abruzzo is still associated with snakes, epitomized by the Feast of the Serpari. This feast is first mentioned in medieval times, though it is likely far older, and is celebrated in the village of Cocullo on the first Thursday in May.

All that being said… I hope that the Goddess Angizia is not distressed that her ancient face is gracing the pages of my website.  I feel honored to have discovered both her identity and her photographer.  I never would have guessed that an image I suspected to be nothing more than a simple digital rendering would actually prove to be a photograph of an ancient pagan snake goddess statue resurrected from the Mediterranean Sea.  I live for these moments.

Check out my website,

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!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Auld Lang Syne

It's interesting to see where your mind takes you when it is lulled back into familiar routine.  Today at my job I had the old song, 'Auld Lang Syne' stuck in my head.  At least, I had the melody and some of the words.  I decided to look it up, to learn a little about this 'Auld' song to see what it's origins were.  I was surprised to find that it dated back at least to the 1600's in Scotland.  A gentleman named Robert Burns found some of these old verses and translated them into the song we recognize today.  Of course Burns' version has been Americanized, almost brutally some would say.  I prefer Burn's version especially when provided with the definitions of certain questionable words and phrases.

The main idea that I gathered from this song, and why it is so popular on New Year's is the sentiment that we should honor and recognize old friends and the experiences that we have shared together.  We should be thankful for those times from long ago and honor them in the moment, and all year long and for a lifetime!  How easily we forget the connections we have created with each other, how thin become the ties that once bound us together in friendship.  There are many friends who are taken from us cruelly, there are some friends we have let pass us by and out of our lives.  I have friends like this.  Friends who have drifted, who have allowed a misunderstanding or unkind moment to fester into the distance of years.  Time spent apart with a complete communication breakdown.  Because of this particular misunderstanding to which I am referring, I do not like to speak of politics and I tread carefully around topics of religion.  We all have our differences and it is in our best interest to honor the opinions of our friends and not judge them or call them rednecks in a social networking forum for not supporting certain presidential candidates.  I still can't believe that I lost a longtime friend over political differences and pride.  For this friend I wrote a poem that is in my new book, I Wandered from New Orleans called 'Water Cools the Earth.'  She has never read it and I no longer believe that she ever will.  Still, it serves as a reminder to me to speak to someone when I would rather turn away.  To resolve a small difference before it becomes a massive, destructive sinkhole of despair.  This is why we are here on this earth, isn't it?  To build our relationships, to inevitably make mistakes and learn from them to strengthen our ties with each other and ourselves.  To swallow our pride and know that an apology isn't coming, take the high road.  Most of us always speak of New Year's Resolutions; quitting some bad habit, or starting a new, productive project.  This year, I am including in my own resolutions, to work on communication, to continue to listen and communicate real feelings and to ignore the ass holes that crop up like unwanted weeds in a beautiful garden.  Ok, that was harsh... Was it?  Hell, I don't know what to do about those ass holes.  I'll cross that Piranha pit when I come to it. 

In the meantime, I would like to leave everyone with Happy Wishes for the New Year!  May you enjoy it and spend it with your loved ones and good friends.   With this wish, I leave you with the 'auld' and new versions of  the Scottish song, 'Auld Lang Syne'   Sing it with fervor, with friends and a good ale!  Cheers and Happy New Year!

Auld Lang Syne - Robert Burns translation in 1788 from ancient Scottish verses.

Burns Original
Standard English Translation
Auld Lang Syne

And for auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne,
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o' auld lang syne.
And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp!
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
We twa hae run about the braes
And pu'd the gowans fine;
But we've wander'd mony a weary foot
Sin auld lang syne.
We twa hae paidl'd i' the burn,
Frae mornin' sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin auld lang syne.
And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right guid willy waught,
For auld lang syne.
Meaning of unusual words:
Auld lang syne = Former days and friends
jo = dear
stoup = tankard
gowans = daisies
braid = broad
Gude willie waught = friendly draught

Visit Tracy's website for more information on I Wandered from New Orleans: Poems from the South. 

Old Long Past

And for old long past, my joy (sweetheart),
For old long past,
We will take a cup of kindness yet,
For old long past,

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And days of old long past.

And surely you will pay for your pint-vessel!
And surely I will pay for mine!
And we will take a cup of kindness yet,
For old long past.

We two have run about the hillsides
And pulled the wild daisies fine;
But we have wandered many a weary foot
Since old long past.

We two have paddled in the stream,
From morning sun till noon;
But seas between us broad have roared
Since old long past.

And there is a hand, my trusty friend!
And give me a hand of yours!
And we will take a right good-will drink,
For old long past.