I just tried one of the chocolates. My breath stopped.

365:2011/01/01 - twenty:eleven
  • Assorted books for sale – $5
  • Assorted books for sale – $10
  • Lunchboxes, toys, costumes, dvd/vcr – $5-$80

    Today I came home in a bit of a mood, thwarted and unhappy in some very deep places, but what should arrive but a completely unexpected and flat out amazing package from Karen of Strange Horizons. Not a surprise in the usual sense, as she sent me a note about it yesterday, asking if I had received anything from her in the mail, expected due date somewhere the back of December, but because we sadly presumed it to be lost in transit. Yet, to whatever caused the delay, I can only thank it. There could be no better timing. She has an exquisite grace about her that I devoutly admire, mesmerizing even over long distances, and it bleeds into her gifts, which are so sweet and clever as to make me cry, two years now in a row. There’s nothing else like it in my life.

    So though my morning may have started with an ache tightly, bitterly laced to my heart, since I’ve opened the cardboard box to discover it packed full of pretty, delicate paper and shiny hand-curled ribbons in my favourite colours and read her card, scented with sugar and lemon and love, I feel so grateful and vulnerable that if I were to leave the house, I would cover up my face. (Can’t go around blinding people, after all. Pretty sure that’s against the rules.)

    It’s amazing to be reminded so perfectly that though I’m isolated, I’m not alone. Her gifts are witchcraft, sent to foster healing and prevent further harm. Medicine against sadness, (couture chocolates and gourmet mint cocoa), hello kitty for sprains, (a plush ice-pack), sticks and stones to ward off injury from same, (glowsticks and pop rocks), a sweet serum to bring blackbirds back to life, (sugar exfoliant), and one. last. winsome. package. wrapped in turquoise and gold that I am almost afraid to open, because what if my head falls off from awe? Stranger things have happened. Have I mentioned we’ve never met? Stranger things, indeed.

  • oh airfare

    Taxes: On hiatus while out of country. Should be filed by the end of next week.
    Employment: Had a successful phone interview yesterday. A follow-up in person interview is being scheduled for next week.
    School: Currently taking preparatory practice tests. Acing everything but math, which is not a surprise.
    Driving: Pat has offered to pay for Young Drivers of Canada classes, which I will set up once back in Canada.
    Giant Mirror: Julie has kindly agreed to trade it for sewing Kyle’s wedding cravat.
    Painting: Out of my hands. Being done while out of the country.
    Print Sale: Took and sold a number of pictures yesterday, one a commission.

    Total Tally: Not too shabby.

    My mother is driving down to meet us in Seattle this weekend. As a joint Mother’s Day and birthday present, Tony snagged Kooza Cirque tickets for the three of us for this Sunday. Spangles, tumblers, feats of incredible beauty? I’m dreadfully excited. Our very first date was to Teatro Tzinzanni, a dinner-theater circus in a spiegeltent, and then for every other Saturday that month we went to see Circus Contraption as they performed their very last shows ever. We went again to Teatro on Hallowe’en for our six month anniversary and won Staff-pick Guest of Honour at their costume contest. To go to the circus for my birthday ties it all together so nicely it makes my chest hurt.

    Part of the reason I desperately want my print sale to work is so that I can gift him back with something equally as splendid, if not more. He takes care of me in ways that I never even dreamed of, so though there are a few things I could fundraise for, what I have particularly in mind is a weekend trip to see the Funundrum, the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus show celebrating the 200th anniversary of P.T. Barnum’s birthday, playing Jun 17 – Jun 20 in Vegas, as they’re the apex of American circus culture, elephants and all. The show is coming to Seattle as well, but in August, the same dates we plan to be away at Burning Man. Plus, in Vegas we could stay at the Circus Circus, the most appropriate theme-venue possible.

    It’s not the hotel rates that slay me, though, or even the circus tickets themselves. It’s the airfare. As far as I can find, the lowest there and back is more than my rent, more than my credit card limit. It is, however, only 25 – 60 prints sold.

    I changed the word girl to boy (and there’s still more to come)

    Tony's Valentine from the World's Smallest Postal Service

    Valentine’s is creeping up, the candy coated holiday founded on Lupercalia, a Roman parade festival celebrating sex and werewolves. It basically involved sacrificing a goat, wrapping the wet and bloody skin around you, then energetically racing naked around the city and cackling madly while smacking women with whips for pregnancy luck.

    Me, I just can’t be bothered to put that much effort in. Someone hands me a goat at the crack of dawn, there’s not going to be any leaping out of bed to kill it, no, nor running. At least, I wouldn’t be the one running. This is dawn we’re talking about. AKA bedtime. Also, seriously, what did that poor goat ever do?

    So rather than running naked and bloody through the streets of Seattle, something I’m theoretically capable of if I weren’t so damned lazy, sure, I’ve decided to celebrate this Valentine’s by sending Tony treasures through the mail instead. How pale in comparison, I know, but wait! Don’t judge yet! These treasures might not involve flaying animals or whipping nubile young women, but they’re awesome.

    The first present arrived last week, a new Crankbunny design made in collaboration with poster artist Brian Ewing called the Tell-Tale Heart Custom Valentine Card, a paper ribcage which opens up to reveal a personal secret message under a scarlet scratch away foil heart. My message read you have my heart. xox jh. It was a tricky choice, given that she has so many beautiful cards, but as I gave Secret Decoder and Dancing Robot cards last year, I wanted something new, something a little more to Tony’s specific tastes, so I decided the macabre ribcage would appeal more to his recovering goth-osity than anything else in her shop, especially as it comes in a smart black envelope. Ha.

    The next present arrived just yesterday, a valentine by Lea Redmond from The World’s Smallest Postal Service! The letter is transcribed on a miniature desk in the tiniest of script, sealed with a miniscule wax seal with the sender’s intial pressed into it, packaged up with a magnifying glass in a glassine envelope, and finished off with a large wax seal. The finished letter is just about the size of an American quarter, almost a little bit smaller. Tony was absolutely delighted to open the regular sized envelope and discover such a strange tiny gift inside.

    The miniscule envelope, not having anything to do with actual mailing practices, can be marked as anything you like, so I wrote out the smoochiest addresses I could think of, mailing it from Jhayne Holmes, Lover’s Court, Inamorata, L0V34, Valentia, and to Tony Jackson, #1 Beloved Blvd, suite: 2 serenade, Inamorato, H34R7, Valentia, something Tony got to read out to Michelle and her friend Kevin, who were over as he unwrapped it.

    Inside, it read;

    Tony opens his valentine from the World's Smallest Postal Service

    Now comes the long blue cold
    by Mary Oliver, (with one word changed)

    Now comes the long blue cold
    and what shall I say but that some
    bird in the tree of my heart
    is singing.

    That same heart that only yesterday
    was a room shut tight, without dreams.

    Isn’t it wonderful—the cold wind and
    spring in the heart inexplicable.
    Darling boy. Picklock.


    Here’s to closing in one one year together, to holding hands even when we’re sleeping. Here’s to finding love together and trust, truth, and beauty bombs. Here’s to you, my exquisite love, my Tony, my only. Happy Valentine’s. I love you, I love you, I love you.


    the music of our art

    I made my last memory box when I had an abortion after getting pregnant on the pill. I was that point oh one percent which keeps it from being completely effective. Still a teenager, if barely, in a long-term relationship with a man almost twenty years past my age. The timing couldn’t have been worse. We’d been fighting, I was about to move out, sitting on the bed with supper, “My period seems to be late”, didn’t even break the silent treatment I’d been receiving all day.

    I took a small, square, Cuban cigar box from my mother’s basement and blackened the outside with permanent marker, then enameled it black. I crackled the enamel, then did it again, and repeated that, then buried it for a week. Once I brushed off the dirt as carefully as I could, I painted it again, then began work on the inside. The outside looked as if it had depth, by then. It glowed like it was made of stone.

    Inside, I lined the box with perfect blood red satin, a colour rich enough to fill your mouth. I wanted the effect of a thriller movie coffin, but without the puffy quilting of a tacky television drama. I stitched tiny clear glass and pewter beads into the fabric and some lines of poetry in silver thread that I no longer remember. I wasn’t satisfied until it was flat, shiny, smooth, delicious, and very carefully glued at the edges so nothing would fray. There was to be no chaos in cloth. It was to be as precise as possible, to emphasize the medical tones the box was to frame.

    In the center I affixed a tiny baby doll to the satin, likely the off-spring of a Barbie or a Skipper, with the palms of it’s hands and the soles of it’s feet painted a delicately pale robin’s egg blue. Over the face, I affixed a silver mask in the shape of a steer skull that I had carved from a craft store lariat pendant. While I had been killing the growing knot of cells inside me, my then partner had been neglecting me to work on a show called Bull In A China Shop. It was meant to be his big break, though it never panned out that way. The mask was my required embodiment of death, not for the incorrectly labeled ‘potential child’ which I never thought of as anything but a parasite, but for our relationship. All fall down.

    When the baby was done and glued in place, forever reaching out diminutive plastic arms, I filled what space there was left with crushed flowers, the hearts of roses left over from our failed Valentine’s Day, black and silver thread from our clothes, and strands of our hair stolen from our hair-brush, mine plum purple and his chestnut brown. I closed the box when it was finished and never made another, though I used to fill my shelves with them like the captured shadows of saints.

    Lady Anomaly, dear creature, has sent me a memory box without knowing of my history making them. Opening the box was like drinking forgotten water. What she sent is love and thankfulness and enigmatic sweethearts curled in bed together in night-dark places.

    There is a walnut shell inside, split in half and painted inside with the colours of an abalone seashell. I’m not sure how she did it, (perhaps it is nail-polish.) There is a tiny tube of paper curled into a fitted into a piece of vine as if the plant had been coaxed to grow around it. When slipped out and unrolled, it has two elegant hands gesturing in black and silver, with the words THANKYOU FOR YOU PRETTY. Everything tangled in a soft bed of dried flowers and lilac thread beaded with amber.

    Wonderfully, oddly, delightfully, our boxes seem created from the same language, (which leads me to wonder if it’s a girl thing or if her and I are simply the same species). Even the ambient spaces are filled with a similar mixture of petals and vines and glitter and wire, and as with my memory boxes, there is a definite centerpiece. (Without any focal points, the sensual riot of colour and fragile textures of memory boxes tend to be interesting but not compelling.)

    Hers is a lovely coup de grâce, a reconstructed silver locket in the shape of a heart. On the front are two flowers, like something a grandmother might give, but inside, she’s glued subtle little cogs, transforming an innocuous piece of jewelry into a clockwork heart, amazing and perfect in every detail. Aged and burned and polished again. Examining it, I can taste how much care it must have taken. The song of it fills my entire room.

    I wonder now what happened to my boxes. If the man I gifted them to kept them or if they found their death in an alley somewhere. I wonder, too, if I still have the skill to make a new one. It’s been a long time. I don’t remember anymore why I ever stopped.

    Surprise Speakers

    Today I get to go out and return with something that will make my love stupidly happy. I wish I could do that much more often.

    I waited today, for the phone to ring.
    It didn’t.

    On the other end was to be a friend. I was to return her books, those that I have, and we were to go and let her forget about her young, single-motherhood for an hour or two.

    Seems not to be.

    I found the glass spider that I had brought home to my Love almost a year ago. It has been missing for almost that long. It glitters and I imagine it to be full of poison, as if in a cliched story from the sci-fi 80’s. It is perched on the shelf above the keyboard, ready to drop upon my hands and devour me. *grins* But I am the writer, and I write the story, (though I start sentences with words like “but”, which is a bit of a misdemeaner), and I have decided that the spider is my protector. My jeweled guard against humanities ills. It was amusing, at the time. We saw it in the shop window together and both secretly decided that we must gift it to the other. I beat him to it, so we decided that it is ours. When I make us cloaks, then, we will squabble. *laughs*

    I have a wonderful pattern for a long, elegant coat with a clerics collar. My plans are to sew one for Aubrey in deep red Velvet. Black-red, like menses, with cuffs of death or crimson.