Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Haunted House fabric by Sew What

I really need to get going on this whole teaching myself how to use a sewing machine thing. My mother-in-law helped me pick out a machine almost a year ago and while I have the basics down (threading the machine, for example) I'm still not where I'd like to be. I've really only used it for hemming. Although I did make a set of pillow cases for Christmas (yeah, finally finished the 2nd one last week).

To try and help myself I've decided to sign up for a class on how to make an origami bag. This may help provide some inspiration, motivation, and practical knowledge.

Just imagine what I could do with this Haunted House fabric for Halloween.

Haunted House by Alexander Henry available at SewWhat?
Think I will order some from Sew What? (they're Canadian, eh!) to have ready for pick up next time we're home. Then I can bring it back here and DO/MAKE something with it...maybe...hopefully...yes, yes...YES, I WILL!

Friday, 27 March 2015

The Oubliette

Oubliette in Wales - Source
Ah, the oubliette. For all those things that need or want to be forgotten. Including people. Yes, the oubliette (coming from the french word, oublier - 'to forget') was a form of dungeon or prison in which people were lowered and then often forgotten about. The only entrance and exit being the hole in the ceiling.

I first came across this fascinating but repulsive idea in another of Tim Wynne Jones books.

From what I recall of the story (and found online) it features a woman, Alexis, whose recent divorce sends her on a 'vacation' to the UK. There, amongst the ruins of an old and condemned castle, Fastyngange, she discovers an oubliette. Which begins to talk to her.

The oubliette spins her stories of the things it has seen (and contained) while ghosts roam the castle grounds around her. The hole convinces her to disassemble it (just the 'mouth') and bring it back to Toronto. Which she does. She chooses to travel back home to Canada aboard a ship -- which gives her plenty of time to discover that along with the oubliette she is also tansporting several of the castle's ghosts.

Once back in the sane lands of her Toronto home Alexis' entire experience is explained away by an analyst/psychiatrist as a delusion; suffered after the shock of her ex-husband's departure.

And then you discover that the entire story has been narrated by the oubliette to a vagrant who has come across its discarded remains in a back alley.

Read more about it here.

Friday, 20 March 2015

The people inside of your walls

only review I could find
So secret doorways and hidden rooms got me thinking. And I recalled a book I discovered, decades ago, while prowling through a 2nd hand book shop which was so packed full of books (floor-to-ceiling) that every turn and stair up or down made you wonder where, or when, you were going to find yourself. It was in this labyrinth that I came across Odd's End by Tim Wynne Jones.

The story was all about a happy couple living in an out-of-the-way place and the odd things that start happening in their isolated home. At first it's just little things like misplaced items, "could have sworn I left my glasses on the kitchen counter" kind of thing. And then one evening one of them comes home to an amazingly romantic candle lit dinner...which both deny arranging. Weird goings-on continue and anonymous, obscene letters found lying around turn up the tension between our happy couple until suspicion and paranoia reign...

(spoiler alert)

...well, suffice to say the climax is violent and the story ends with the voice of Mr. X --who turns out to be the person who had been living in the walls of the couple's house and responsible for the odd events and even murder!

The Palace facade 2004
Weirdly enough, at around the same time as I read this book there were some rather odd goings on at my place of work. That place of work was an old movie theatre (yep, the same theatre where I met David McCallum) called The Palace. I spent a year there as the week day matinee candy girl--seller of popcorn, chocolate, sugary drinks and human calculator--no cash registers, you see.

The Palace was built in 1921 and could seat close to a thousand people. It was huge and almost always empty during the week day afternoons. Clientele was sparse and varied depending on the movie. Sometimes it was only a few men sitting miles apart from one another (nudge, nudge).

Palace Theatre, 1920s
As well as specious patrons the theatre also had several hidden spaces. Behind the movie screen, for example, was a huge stage complete with cat walk scaffolding and big old stage lights. I don't know what our change rooms had been but they were small, cramped and below the main floor level, accessed by a steep wooden stair...more like a ladder really.

But what's the point of this story? Oh, right. Ok, well, some of us candy girls complained about our changing room. As well as being small, dim, cramped, and musty there were holes in one wall and, quite frankly, it was spooky...and creepy. Some girls even said that they felt like they were being watched.

Former glory of Palace interior
I think it was the Assistant Manager (Dave?) who finally came down one day to examine one of these holes. He put his eye up to one to look through. Then he placed his finger in the hole and started to pull outwards. Old drywall and wallpaper came easily away and through this bigger hole we could see there was a lot more open space in behind.

Long story short they discovered quite the warren back there and evidence--mattress, sleeping bag, food, flashlight, etc,--that someone was living there. Apparently you could make your way from that space through the entire length of the building and up to the area behind the screen near the back door exit.

Sorry about the resolution of this...

Monday, 16 March 2015

Underground Rome

Listen to the full and fascinating documentary on CBC's Ideas here.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Mystery Feature #3 - the Secret Door

14 Secret Bookcase Doors - Always Fun and Always Mysterious

Who doesn't have a fascination for hidden doors and secret rooms? My childhood home had one in the downstairs den. My father built a bookcase there that opened up to reveal the entrance to our crawlspace - which I thought was our own secret room.

There was a movie!?
I loved that we had a hidden doorway! I was a little more ambivalent about the space beyond it tho. In there was my brother's train diorama, my mother's cedar hope chest, and the storage cupboards my Dad built. And behind those storage cupboards was a long, narrow, dark space where I was sure a monster lurked.

My brother lured me into that crawlspace one day then snuck out, turned off the light, and closed the bookcase. I remember watching that rectangle of light close as I raced toward it. When it closed I was in the darkest dark and right beside that storage cupboard. I just froze in place.

31 Beautiful Hidden Rooms And Secret Passages

I don't know if I screamed or just got very, very quiet (so as not to attract the monster). My brother eventually turned the light back on and went off to hide somewhere. He was always leaping out of cupboards or from behind doors and frightening the crap out of me.

And my mother used to wonder why I was so "high strung!"

The World's Best Disguised Drinking Holes...something I wish I could find around here.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Père-Lachaise Collage

I miss wandering through cemeteries. I'd love to get back to Père-Lachaise but not everyone in my life shares my...enthusiasm.

Highlights from our visit to Père-Lachaise, 2009

Friday, 6 March 2015

Leonora Carrington - A Surrealist's delight

Like so many artists Leonora Carrington seems to be coming into her own...now that she's dead (2011).


A new show at the Tate featuring her work opens today. You can read more about this former debutante turned surrealist painter here and here and here and here.


Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Wayward Pines

Return to Glory?

Twin Peaks meets The Prisoner?