so long, 2009.

There is a fluffy coating of snow falling outside my windows, obscuring what’s left of 2009 in powdered sugar white. White primer to paint 2010 over.

Ten years ago tonight I was ringing out 1999 in the dearly departed Grotto nightclub in NoHo. The only bit I clearly remember is asking drag queens about the lyrics to that Whitney Houston song that was all over the place, and they confirmed it was indeed “something about Amistad.” That seems very long ago & far away.

I don’t have the memory or the inclination to do a decade in review. Ten years ago was my senior year of college. Since then I moved around Massachusetts at least five times, got married, got cats, had bad jobs, quit bad jobs, made lots of art, completed a tarot deck and a handful of novel drafts. Somewhere in there I developed a rather poor memory, too.

But here, I’ll look back a bit at 2009 proper, since that’s freshest in the blur that is the ’00s.

2009 was…

A year of literary agent blogs and Absolute Write and query letters and having minor heart attacks every time my phone rang with a 212 call. A year of taking up residence in revisionland and preparing to move back in tomorrow. For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse. Or something.

A year of flax-golden tales that made me happy to be a dreamer and a wisher and a liar, especially one that is friends with Carey Farrell.

This year, more than any previous year, made me own the writer half of artist/writer. Even to the point of moving slowly toward writer/artist, which is surprising but nice, all at once.

It was a year of Sleep No More (carrying over into early 2010, seeing it 2x more) which kind of blew open the creative part of my brain. Remember that episode of Six Feet Under where Claire is trying to break her eye open for art school? Sleep No More did that for me.

A year of Bat for Lashes & Azure Ray & new Moby & yes, Lady Gaga.

A year for finishing the tarot deck after 3 years and 78 paintings.

A year of Fluevogs and shiny objects and cutting my hair shorter than it has ever been in my life. I’ll post pictures at some point, I promise.

I had an interesting year, I think. I’m not sure if it was good or bad but it was full and varied and I get to have Prosecco & fondue later so I can’t really complain all that much.

bestest books 2009

Can you hear that sound? The death knell of 2009?  Strange year, this year of 2k plus 9. I know a lot of people had worse years than I did but it was still an odd sort of year and I’m not entirely sure I liked it.

What I did like, however, were a great deal of the books I read this year. “Best” is probably not exactly what I mean, “Favorite” would likely be more apt. But regardless, here is a year-end list-esque thing:

The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I know, I’m the last person in the world to read it but I loved it and I think I appreciated it more now than I might have had I found it years ago.

The Hunger Games & Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. It takes a lot for a book series to turn me into a flailing fangirl. I flail for this series. I have already reserved August 24th 2010 for reading book 3.

The Likeness by Tana French. I read In the Woods last year and loved it, but I think I loved this one more. It reminded me a bit of The Secret History, so I guess it was that kind of year.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl. I am an atmosphere junkie but I very rarely find a modern-set fictional world that I want to live in. This one is an exception.

The to-read pile for 2010 is already building up, and I’m going to attempt to read more next year than I managed this year.

zen snow

zen snow

Do not scowl to see the snow fall.

Do not fret that it is so cold that you cannot feel your toes.

Do not complain that the weather is frightful.

The weather is only weather. It will change as it always changes.

Accept it as it comes with open arms. Remember how to look at such things with wonder.

Be joyous. No matter what the weather.

Be joyous, for the snow is cold and soft and sugar-sweet.

About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

solstice & snow & such

We don’t really have that much snow, but it’s pretty. That nice fluffy white snow that we didn’t get much of last year. I much prefer this to the ice & slush. Though it has made me realize that I need proper boots for snow, not sure what happened to my old ones.

fairy lights and snow

I spent most of the weekend (waiting for the snow and getting snowed on) reading Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl on recommendation from my friend Liz. Remind me in the future to always take book recs from Liz, because she predicted quite accurately that I would dig this book, and I really did. It’s a book to fall into and not come up for air for awhile and it’s gorgeous. Moody and magical. Just in time to end up on my best of the year list, which I should probably write up sometime in the next few days before the year slips away.

Yesterday for Yule I made eggnog ice cream with an ice cream maker that has been in storage since 2001. It worked surprisingly well, considering, and eggnog ice cream is officially the easiest ice cream ever to make. Quart eggnog. 1/2 cup sugar. Splash of vanilla. Mix & dump in ice cream maker. Ignore for awhile. Come back and scoop out ice cream. Serve with gingersnaps. It’s kind of awesome.

So for the rest of the week I have paintings to paint and revisions to work on and presents to wrap. But I have eggnog ice cream and snow and new incense to burn and beautiful new copper jewelry to wear. Feeling all wintery and hibernating.


light in the cold

Once he considered it a curse. A punishment. Like Sisyphus pushing forever up the mountain, and at least Sisyphus could move.

All he could do was stand. Stand in ever-frozen stillness. Stand and hold the light aloft.

But that was a very long time ago, and time has changed his perspective.

Now he considers it an honor to be the lightbearer. To carry the light in the cold. To be a beacon in the dark.

About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

I finished the kings for the tarot deck this afternoon. That means that beyond a bit of re-detailing and a Happy Squirrel and a book to go with it, it’s done. Which doesn’t really sound all that done typed out like that, but it is complete in some sense. The core of it is finished and the rest is extra and details.

I started it in October of 2006. I think I’d intended for it to take 2 years and it ended up being just over 3. The kings took the longest, probably because they were last and I wanted to make sure I got them right. I think I did.

The whole deck is now up in the galleries on It looks like a journey, which is probably exactly what it should look like.

Other than tarot finishing everything around here is holiday preparation and revision notes and hungry kittens. I have Beautiful Creatures waiting to be read and I should probably bake cookies at some point. The end of 2009 is shaping up to be quiet and dark and cold, in a cozy sort of way.

tattered and tied

tattered & tied

Someone tied a ribbon on a tree and then someone else tied another. And another and another after that, more people and more ribbons and an ever-growing tangle of color.

At some point they added bits of rope to tie them like a web from tree to tree, with the ribbons falling like a willow made of rainbows in between.

There are tassels and stars and other objects hidden amongst the ribbons and rope. Some of the ribbons aren’t even ribbons, just bright strips of fabric that look like ribbon from afar.

The stories about what they’re meant to symbolize get tangled up and frayed as much as the ribbons themselves. Memories of old wars tied to long-finished prayers. Well-worn wishes wound through forgotten dreams.

They can’t be separated from one another anymore. Knots and time bind them too tightly together.

About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

shiny objects

I had these fabulous intentions of doing an Etsy-o-rama post, with lots of pictures and links to some of my favorite shops, for ease of finding wonderful holiday giftage from wonderful sellers. It was going to be epic!

And then I kept forgetting. And when I remembered again my list kept getting too long and the amount of images and html got daunting and then I’d forget about it again. And it’s December 10th already, you say? Fancy that.

So what you get instead is an Ode to two of my very favorite Etsy shops that both happen to sell shiny objects. And we all know how I love me some shiny objects.

First there is The Copper Camel, which I have mentioned here before. I internet-know (that sounds dirty) the lovely proprietress through the more writing-centric wilds of the web. Beyond making beautiful copper jewelery she is an extremely talented writer as well, and I aspire to someday have a wit as sharp as hers. There should be wit sharpeners that work like pencil sharpeners. Or knife sharpeners.

This week she made me do the dance of shiny object joy with these:


They’re DOORS. Incredibly detailed, hand painted with teensy tiny brushes etched copper DOORS. Look at the Moroccan one up close. I mean, seriously.

I want all of them, of course. But I decided to be good and I just got the castle doors for starters. I cannot wait to see them in person and I can tell already that they will be something I wear all the time and layer with other things.

Each door in the above photos is available individually in her Etsy shop. Do yourself a favor and read her brilliant descriptions for all of them, too. Go forth and buy shiny copper wonderments.

Go. Shoo. Because I almost don’t want to share the other shiny object maker. But it will probably be good for my shopping karma, so I will.

I started buying gorgeous recycled vintage jewelry creations from SavageSalvage just over a year ago, when I found and had to have this bracelet. I have since amassed something of a collection. My most recent acquisition is this piece:


Yes it is even more gorgeous in person. I wore it the last time we went to Sleep No More and the witches really liked it. It got pawed a lot. Not that I’m complaining, those are some sexy witches over there.

I kind of stalk Steph’s Etsy store like a stalky thing, because so many of her designs are one of a kind. Really, I’m still not sure why I’m telling you about them and increasing my consumer competition. Maybe because Steph is a sweetheart who I’ve actually been lucky enough to get to know a bit and I want more people to wear her stuff and receive her gorgeous gift wrapping. (Giftwrapping I have repurposed into paintings myself. It’s like the Etsy circle of life of Art. Or something.)

Currently I’m coveting this piece and this piece and this piece. Because I have a problem and I need some sort of shiny object program with steps.

You have plenty of time to get some gorgeous holiday giftage from either of these wonderful, talented ladies for the lovers of unique, creative shiny things in your life. I’m just sayin’.

So far this week is all storybirds and sketching the tarot kings. I think I have strong sketches for all four kings now. I ended up starting them over and making them all a bit more modern and sort of formal yet casual and I think it works. I’m going to let them sit overnight and if I still like them in the morning I will start painting them tomorrow.

And then this long crazy tarot journey will be a happy squirrel and some detailing away from complete. Which is kind of baffling.

I am mentally dipping my toes back into revisionland again, though the holidays and the snow and something vaguely resembling a head cold are making it a bit difficult. I have Ideas. I am attempting to string them together into something cohesive. I feel like I’m deconstructing the old draft the way they deconstruct food on Top Chef and I’m worried that it won’t taste good but I can’t taste it properly until all the ingredients are on the plate. Someday I will be able to explain my writing process without metaphors but today is not that day.

Also, I got tickets to see Sleep No More a third and final time after the holidays. Sleep No More & revisionland are currently tied up in my head in this moody masquerade of darkness and tuxedos that smells like evergreen. There’s something in it that is precisely what the novel needs. If I can find a way to translate wordless immersive theatre into text.

But I’m trying not to worry about that too much yet. Here, have a photo of Tessa in a bag.

tessa in a bag

Kittens love the holidays. ‘Tis the season of bags and cardboard boxes.

metal horses

the metal horses

Please do not feed the metal horses. No apples or grass. No nuts or bolts or bits of string.

They grow overly fond of people who feed them.

They will follow you home and it can be somewhat… difficult to get them to leave.

They are fiercely loyal, but that can be something of an inconvenience.

They will insist on sleeping at the foot of your bed.

They will nibble on your lawn or your electrical wiring or the hubcaps of your car.

And of course, they will rust if they get left out in the rain, though they do so love the rain.

It is best to entrust their care to the professionals, no matter how sweetly they beg.

About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.