The Queen of All Conniptions


It all started with a garter snake ©voyager, all rights reserved

I wasn’t going to tell you about this until I got back, but I could use some encouragement. On Monday I’m off on an adventure with a friend. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a very long time and I think (I hope!) I’m finally ready. What could it be? Well, I’m off to make peace with snakes. I’ve written once about my fear of snakes, but I didn’t tell you how I came to be so afraid.

It started as an ordinary summer day when I was about 5 or 6 years old. We were living in the country and I loved to spend my days just wandering, collecting stones and wildflowers and watching the birds and the bees and the bugs. I was restricted to the field and small woodlot behind the house, but as long as I was home for lunch and dinner there weren’t many other rules, except one…don’t bring bugs home. No caterpillars, no crickets, no bugs of any kind. My mother was not an outdoors person and bugs were one of the main reasons why. She hated them. If a spider or some other buggy creature managed to get indoors it was my job to get them back outdoors, most of the time with mom waving her arms and hollering at me to just kill the poor thing.

On this particular summer’s day I had found a great big worm with stripes and I was so excited that I ran home to show my mom. I’d never seen one of these before and mom always said that worms were good for the garden so I knew she’d pleased that I’d found a nice big one. I ran into the house with my treasure calling out “look what I found, Mom.” My mom was standing at the sink and she turned around, wiping her hands on her apron and for a moment she just stood there with her jaw hanging  down and then she started to scream. It was a blood curdling scream and I’d never heard anything like it. Mom tended to be dramatic, but nothing like this. This was the Queen of All Conniptions. She picked up the broom beside her and started waving it at me and finally there were words, “Get it out of here. Get it out. Get it out.” I was a bit stunned so it took me a moment, but I finally headed toward the door. She practically pushed me out with the broom and as I was about to set it down she hollered “Not there. Not by the house. Get it out of here. Oh God… help… help…” Like I said, mom was dramatic. I had no clue why a worm would cause a reaction like that. I mean, it seemed OK to me. A little wiggly maybe, but I was obviously missing something. So I ran down to the mailbox and throw it in the grass with my mom yelling at  me the whole time at me. When I got back in the house she made me take a bath. In the daytime and baths were only ever at night! This really was serious. For hours afterward my mom kept up the histrionics. I learned that snakes were dangerous and wanted to bite you and that this bite would hurt and it would make you sick. Also, snakes were dirty and slimy and carried disease. Oh yes, and they wanted to eat my cat. Well, I won’t ever do that again I remember thinking and I haven’t, but the story proves that I haven’t always been afraid of snakes.

Now, I want to undo that trauma and make peace with snakes so we are going to a place in Michigan with a small reptile zoo. The fellow who operates it has a you-tube channel that I started following at the beginning of this quest about 2 years ago. I wanted to desensitize myself and his channel appealed to me because he has a snake named Lucy and Lucy was the name of our first lab. This fellow is also quite personable with a great attitude toward life so it was easy to keep watching. In the process of all this watching and desensitizing, I began to trust this man as I watched him help other people get over their fear of snakes. I began to think that I could do that too, so here I am getting ready to pack myself off to meet a snake or two. My girlfriend has no fear of snakes so she’s the perfect companion for this adventure and if I can’t actually touch a snake I’ll still have fun with the other animals. I’m not afraid of Iguanas or turtles or even baby alligators.

So the big question is Will I or Won’t I conquer my fear. You’ll have to tune in on Wednesday next week to find out. Jack’s Walk will be here Monday and Tuesday, but for a change they won’t be actual photos from that day. I’m not sure what they will be yet so that’ll be a surprise too. Wish me luck. I know for sure that I won’t be touching Lucy because she’s 20 feet long and gravid so not in such a good mood right now. That’s fine, something smaller is good with me. Size doesn’t matter does it?

Archaeological Museum of Macedonia – Part 2: Other Shiny Things

Coins is nice, but the Museum has a few other exhibits – it’s not a large museum or particularly stunning in its collection, but I liked the feel of it. I do have some commentary about the art depicting life in the Stone Ages, though. About half the population seemed to be missing in most paintings, and you can probably guess which half.

But the exhibit design was, as with the coins, quite interesting:

© rq, all rights reserved.

I did not take photos of everything, as it was mostly different kinds of pottery and metalwork, but allow me to present a few of my favourites:

Looking altogether too happy, if you ask me! © rq, all rights reserved.

An absolutely stunning piece of glasswork. © rq, all rights reserved.

The design of these cloakpins seemed oddly familiar. © rq, all rights reserved.

© rq, all rights reserved.

And this! Was a piece of musical notation from a few hundred years ago. Religious music, if I recall correctly, and I find it fascinating. And I’m curious as to how it should be interpreted. © rq, all rights reserved.

You can read more about the museum itself here.

Eternal Flowers

Some more resin, this time with a pendant I made specifically foe all my black tops with colourful flowers (I’m a sucker for the Spanish label “Desigual”). I still need to wire wrap it because a simple hook doesn’t seem fitting.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Some flowers react with the resin and suddenly you have a totally different colour. Here on the left is a violet, only that now it’s a yellowlet (please, nobody explain to me how to spell “yellow”, will you?). Same with the erica. The violas are holding up their colours well. I’m going to dry a whole bunch of them.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Next one is a leaping unicorn. This took me several tries because for some reason the Piñata magenta (a stock brand for resin) kept reacting with the blue and always turned a very dark violet and I needed to get a different pink from the company that also produces my resin.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

This is one of two unfinished earrings to go with the unicorn. When I cast these bigger pieces and cut them into shape there are often interesting bits and pieces that get turned into earrings.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

The final piece is unfinished yet and more of an experiment. I used one of the burl pieces to create a silicone mould. I cast some blue resin and then put it into one of my larger moulds and added the white, only that it’s too much white here, again hiding the burl structure. Currently my idea is to print a bird silhouette and add it, because it does have a sky-feeling to it.

BTW, I totally offer to sell/create piece for the FtB defence fund if anybody’s interested.

Jack’s Walk

A trio of beauties, ©voyager, all rights reserved

Pink! ©voyager, all rights reserved

It is a dreary, rainy day here and tomorrow is scheduled to be the same. Overall, this has been a much wetter spring than we’re used to and at this point I think the growing things would rather have sunshine. I would, too. Jack and I did manage to get to the park before the heavy rain started and we saw our first goslings of the year, but mamas and papas were closely on guard so we kept our distance. It wasn’t all doom and gloom, though. We did find these beautiful trees in blossom and they lit up my day. I’m not sure what they are. They look like cherry blossoms, but I couldn’t find anything to identify them. They were planted a few years ago and this is the first time I’ve seen flowers. To be honest, I’ve mostly ignored them until now. The light in the photos is grim, but I haven’t got the energy to play around and try to fix it. Even in bad light, though, they’re beautiful. I like the way the willows in the background accent the pink. I suppose this is what the parks department had in mind when they were planted and they just needed time to grow up a bit.

The sad Discovery of the Existence of too much Blue

It’s time for some resin. I never catch up with posting all the stuff I create, but I’m doing my best.

I did my first tries with the burl Marcus sent and alas, there is something like too much blue.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

The structure of the burl pretty much vanishes inside , leaving only the outside visible. You can also see that I didn’t catch all the scratches, but I left it at that because they’re only visible when seen against sunlight, which isn’t something that usually happens when you wear a pendent.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

This one is smaller than the one at the top, cut from the same cast. With a lot of light you can guess the gold I added. I still love the burl and the second attempt is a lot better, but not yet cut and polished.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

These ones, OTOH, turned out exactly as blue as I wanted them. Because here the focus is on the contrast between the birch and the resin. I cut this and the second piece from one block as well, both being about 3X5 cm.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Awww fuck it, there isn’t such a thing as too much blue, because, well, blue.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Here’s some trinkets that will probably get incorporated into other pieces. They’re cast in silicone moulds for fondant, so the finish isn’t glossy, but I quite like them.

Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

©voyager, all rights reserved

It’s leaf day! Around our house that means that the baby leaves are finally big enough to camouflage the highschool up the street. There’s nothing wrong with the highschool, they keep it well maintained, but I prefer to look at leaves. The city where I live plants a lot of trees free of charge. Technically they sit on city land (which is about 5 meters in from the center of the street), but they become the property and responsibility of the homeowner. About 20 years ago they planted red maples down my street and I happened to be home when they got to my house. It was near 5 pm and it had obviously been along day for the lads. There were only 2 trees left in their trailer and they were about to plant one of them in my side yard when I decided to ask if I could have them both. One fellow looked at the trees, looked at my yard, looked back at the trees again and shrugged. “Sure, why not” he said as he grabbed his shovel and started to dig. For once, I was in the right spot at the right time and was bold enough to open my mouth and ask for what I wanted. And it worked. Those 2 trees are now big and strong and shade my house all day long. Lucky me.

The Master’s Tools won’t take down the Master’s House

Graduate hat

Every couple of months it seems a certain debate flares up on my Twitter and it keeps annoying me. It keeps being brought up by people whom I generally highly respect, who are usually kick ass feminists and right in so many things, except this one that drives me up the wall: The great debate of titles.

It usually goes like this: If somebody has a title like “Dr.” or “Prof.”, you must use them.The arguments brought forward are sound at first glance: too often women and people of colour are denied their credentials. While a (white) man is introduced as “Dr. So and So”, a woman is much more likely to be introduced as “Ms. This and That” or even by her first name. We’ve all seen this play out with the Clintons, who are “Clinton” and “Hillary”. This portrays these people as less competent, their voice having less value and them being less worthy of respect.

Another one is that marginalised people who hold these positions have overcome significant obstacles to reach them. They’ve fought an uphill battle against sexism and racism all the way and had to work much harder than the white guy who then gets paid respect by being addressed as “Dr.” while they’re not.

While both points are true on the surface, they both rely on the very premise that people with a PhD are indeed worthy of more respect than others and leaves a hierarchy that has racism and sexism and especially classism built into its very foundation intact because now those people are at the top of said hierarchy and would like to stay there, thank you very much.

Academic titles have been historically part of the self understanding of the bourgeoisie. Look, they said, we have titles as well, and ours are earned. For a long time, in many places, a PhD was a requisite for becoming someone in politics. They were supposed to show that this person was really fit to rule, a title that belonged to the new ruling class, and much like noble titles, they are inherited. Congratulations if you are the first in the family, if you are a minority that used to be cut off such opportunities, yet the overwhelming majority of people in that group come from homes where usually the father holds a PhD as well. the further up you go, the more they become. By insisting on the great importance of your title, you’re staking an allegiance and it’s not one with the communities that brought you forth.

Academic titles do grant people privileges. They, and only they (plus priests), are usually allowed to use their titles as part of their name and they demand and are awarded special respect. My brother in law has a PhD. From his own experience, waiting times for medical appointments and in the waiting room have become drastically shorter since he introduces himself as “Dr.”, but then he gets to spend more time with the actual doctor. The peons can wait. Many of the privileges will be more subtle and as usually the privileged don’t actually see them.

Academic titles are the only ones that become names. Many other people also work hard for their qualifications, often for similar lengths of time. In Germany, where professions are highly regulated everybody who finished successful training has a professional title. Mine is “Assessorin des Lehramtes” and yes, I have a document that shows it and specifically grants permission to use that title. Craftspeople have titles, especially the masters. Yet only a small minority of people are granted the right to use their titles in their names and daily lives. Insisting on them further perpetuates the idea that those other professions, teaching, crafts, nursing, etc. are of lesser value and the people who do them less worthy of respect, which leads me to my next point:

Academic titles do not make you worthy of more respect and the only reason why people can disrespect you by not using them is because you think you deserve some extra special respect. Names and naming are tools of power. We’ve probably all had the teacher who decided to use something different for our name, yet we couldn’t get away with some nickname. When transphobes refuse to use somebody’s real name and pronouns, they’re showing power. This isn’t about respect and decency, it’s about demonstrating power. Scandinavia doesn’t crumble down because most people there just use first name (always somewhat confusing for people from more uptight places when the doctor introduces himself as “Sven” and the calls the patient “Lina”). Using your partner or children’s first name doesn’t show you don’t respect them. At least it shouldn’t.

Academic titles also don’t make you an expert, except in very narrow areas. Remember my BIL, the one with the PhD? He’s a biologist. He once famously claimed that leopards and cheetahs are the same animals. Also caribous roam the African Savannah. Family joke is that if you present him with a horse, a donkey and a zebra he’ll have to do a gene test to identify them. In short, he knows the general stuff every graduate learned and then he learned a great bunch of stuff in a very narrow field. I don’t have to take his opinion more seriously on any other subject than Hepatitis, yet somehow a PhD is supposed to grant him exactly that authority. He also believed in crystals on the top of the monitor preventing headaches…

To finally sum it up, academic titles are a tool of the ruling class to strengthen their position and further the idea that they are simply better people, more worths of respect and better treatment whose opinion should be taken as authority. They are used to exclude marginalised people and their voices from discourse, since they’re lacking “proper qualifications”. While I understand the great personal satisfaction of having gained such a title despite all odds, and the frustration of people then still excluding them from their special club, you cannot dismantle those systems by insisting that you’re really part of the club now and be awarded the privileges that come with it.

As a final note, I’d still recommend you always use those titles if you are a student because apparently those people are very touchy about it and can fuck up your academic career. So much for Foucault’s production of docile bodies…

Jack’s Walk

Can you find Jack? ©voyager, all rights reserved

For you, rq. ©voyager, all rights reserved

The trout lilies are open! Everywhere you look the forest floor is speckled with their bright and cheerful yellow flowers. I’m sorry to report, though, that the white trilliums are still not open. There are lots of them around, but I couldn’t find a single one with an open bloom. Just out of curiosity I looked back to last year’s spring photos and on May 7 (a year ago today) I shot quite a few open white trilliums. I hope that means that this year’s flowers will present themselves soon.

Flowers and Aliens

First, remember the not black tulips? Seems like the package contained two varieties, with the pink ones being earlier and the almost black ones being later. Here they finally are:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Next one is true kingcups that grow along our little creek. I wanted to get closer but then chose dry feet…

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Dungbeetles are no aliens, Sorry to disappoint you. But I quite like them.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

This, OTOH, is aliens. I guess at some point they are replaced every year by ordinary fern plants, but this is  not something that just grows, it’s the result of extraterrestrial mingling.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

The Art of Book Design: The Feet


John Lord Peck. Dress and Care of the Feet. New York: Fowler & Wells, 1871 — Source.

The complete title is actually:

Dress and care of the feet : showing their natural perfect shape and construction; their present deformed condition; and how flat-foot, distorted toes, and other defects are to be prevented or corrected : with directions for dressing them elegantly yet comfortably; and hints upon various matters relating to the general subject


Via: The Public Domain Review