2020 seems determined to constantly outdo itself in terms of strangeness. The Saharan dust cloud that wafted over the Southeastern US at the end of June was its latest effort, triggering a slew of news stories about quality warnings and potentially vivid sunsets. When it arrived the dust coated the sky in a visible milky haze, subtle and dramatic all at the same time. It was indeed strange to pause in a strip mall parking lot and ponder that I was inhaling dust from Africa while running morning errands.
Summer’s may not officially start until tomorrow, but signs of it are already popping up along my neighborhood trail.
The heat and humidity of June has brought out the reptiles in my neighborhood (and the office!)
Around noon on Tuesday, it was announced that all bars would be closed, and restaurants would be limited to take out and delivery only. It was quite a subdued St. Patrick’s Day here in the Queen City. The next morning, Charlotte was shrouded in the thickest fog I’ve seen all year. Taking a morning walk, I couldn’t help noticing little hints of spring peeking through the gloom. Birds, greenery, and pink blooms could not be completely concealed. By noontime, the sun had chased the fog away.
Last month I got an infusion of creative inspiration at the Oddities and Curiosities Expo during it’s Charlotte stop. It was well worth it to pay a little extra for a VIP pass for early entry, and have some time to quietly browse all of the artists and vendors before the crowds. I only took some far away shots of the booths, and it’s generally considered a faux pas to take a close up of an artists work. There is one close up of everything I bought of course. The whole event was a nice reminder that there is a place for art of all kinds. I find myself getting a little discouraged during the submissions process when I see so many publications that don’t accept genre work, particularly horror (my favorite to write!) I just have to keep pushing forward, the right home for my work is out there somewhere!
This is usually the time of year that I realize how unappreciative I am of summer, and pine for its return. Until it arrives of course, and I’m ungratefully longing for cooler temps and sweaters. Until then, I’m looking back at some of my past summer adventures to get some warm weather vibes. Hiking trail in Linville, North Carolina Brooklyn Botanical Garden- New York City, New York Fort Myers, Florida Plymouth, Massachusetts Nassau, Bahamas Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Cruise en route to Cozumel, Mexico North Carolina Zoo
I ( along with my twin sister and husband) almost missed the The Oddities and Curiosities convention completely when it stopped in Charlotte this past summer. Fortunately, a friend of ours clued us in, and wonderfully weird artists, dealers, and taxidermists assembled. In the spirit of shopping small this holiday season, I decided to feature the venders that we purchased from, and the ones that I took cards from so I could keep an eye out for future shows, since many of the have websites and Etsy shops. I’ve already become a repeat shopper for The Pickety Witch, the Krampus ornament above is one of her holiday offerings. At the bottom is The Oddities and Curiosity Convention’s 2020 schedule, and even if you don’t think you’d buy anything, I still recommend you go. The tickets are cheap, the crowd watching is fascinating, and there is always entertainment scheduled. Coffin jewelry box by Spooky Twins, @spookytwins13, spookytwins.etsy.com Gravestone impression art by Gravestone Girls, http://www.gravestonegirls.com. Lapel pin, The Pickety Witch, thepicketywitch.etsy.com, @thepicketywitch Gravestone impression art and magnet …
Earlier this summer I braved thunderstorms to visit the Gamrath Glass exhibit at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. I love visiting all of their nighttime exhibits, and was particularly excited about this one. The event promised not only delicate glass flowers embedded amoung the garden, but carvious plants as well. And although all of the glass blooms were beautiful, it was extra fun to see delicate pitcher plants, Venus fly traps, and a monstrous corpse flower among all the usual greenery, Corpse flower Venus flytrap Lady slipper Pitcher plant Pitcher plant Phalaenopsis Pitcher plant Phalaenopsis
Usually when the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens hosts a special exhibit, visitors can expect to find something extra peaking out from all the greenery, like the Chinese Latern show I attended in 2017. But on my most recent visit I found myself in a small events room, surrounded by small folding tables. Lined up on each one were delicate, twisting bonsai trees cultivated by local gardeners. Each one came with a small card showing the type of tree, and how long it’s been “trained” by it’s owner. Training is the process of shaping the bonsai tree, primarily by pruning and then wrapping the branches in wire until they set in the desired shape. If you look closely, you can see wire wrapping some of the trees in my photo’s below. Some of the trees (like the one shown above) have been painstakingly cultivated for 30 years. I’m sure any writer with their own WIP can relate to the dedication and patience that would require! Hades Cypress, 20 years old, trained 15 years Crepe Murtle, 4 years old, trained one month …
Every month I post a list of events to look forward to; offbeat holidays, astronomy events, new movies, TV show, and book releases. My favorite item to research are the astronomy events. I’m always looking for something anyone can spot with the naked eye, no special equipment needed. I do look for the astronomy events that I list, and even manage to capture a few with my camera phone. One of my best shots is from last spring, a crescent moon aligned with Venus. I also caught a glimpse of earthshine, sunlight that is reflected off the earth onto the dark side of the moon, slightly illuminating it. You have the chance to see it any time the moon is in a crescent phase, but the best months to spot it are April and May. Although I didn’t quite capture it last night, I realized I had another photo where I did last winter, without even knowing quite what I was capturing. This is why I enjoy writing the Strange Events segment so much each …