Monday, January 22, 2018

A Day in L.A. : The Bearded Lady Mystic Museum

Moving back to L.A., my home town, has been a wonderful adventure for me. I was aware of the changes in some of the San Fernando Valley areas I used to frequent when I visited my folks, but since I need to navigate around here on a regular basis, I almost feel like I'm visiting a new city.

Magnolia Boulevard in Burbank has always been home to some pretty funky places. Antique and second-hand stores abound, and always have, but now some new kinds of shops are infiltrating the older lathe-and-plaster buildings and making a stroll down the boulevard even more fun.

Case in point: The Bearded Lady Mystic Museum.

The Bearded Lady  Mystic Museum and Bearded Lady Vintage & Curiosities are two shops with a pass-through between them. 
On one side, you have The Mystic Museum. The front of the store's space is filled with a wonderfully-presented and tasteful array of dark delights: Books on fortune-telling, as well as several types of Tarot Cards rub elbows with elegant  fortune-telling teacups from Miss Havisham's Curiosities. A strange taxidermied and altered rodent sits atop a faded pink tasseled foot rest, gazing into a cracked and broken gilt mirror. Books on Houdini are nestled among ceramic hands, which show how to read palms.

My kind of weird store, for certain!
As I wandered the shop floor, I discovered Beistle-inspired pins, made by Creepy Co, as well as some really nifty Halloween III mask pins, made by Silver Shamrock (sold at one time by Fright Rags, though I don't see them as available on their site right now.) 
Vintage style silhouette cards bump up to tiny bat skeletons...

Lovely linen hand-towels sport bats, a perfect addition to the guest bath!
Houdini glowers from a shelf...
In the back of the shop is a doorway which leads to a real museum dedicated to vintage mysticism, spirit boards and all-around occult goodness. I didn't have time to go in and take the tour, but it's definitely on my list the next time I'm in the neighborhood.
The other side of the shop, Bearded Lady Vintage & Oddities, will fascinate you with its various taxidermied and resin-encased creatures, as well as unusual antique furnishings and dare I say, "home decor?" (Some of the furnishings would be delightful for the Goth household.)
The Bearded Lady will tell your fortune for a nominal price.
If you're looking for a very old dental chair, there's one in the back corner, and I think I saw a scapulimancy head lurking in the glass cabinet between a couple of stuffed bats.
 Mixed in there are a number of vintage medical, dental, and optometric tools of the trade.(And if any of my readers happen to need some old lobotomy tools, I think you're in luck...)
I have to say, the creepy old mannequin (a Goth Howdy Doody?) in the window does lend the store a certain something, and are those brain surgery tools I see in that box? 
Of course, I had to pick up a Tasseography cup of my very own,since all of my teacups are currently buried in storage. This one, as I mentioned before, is by Miss Havisham's Curiosities.
It really is beautifully made, and a girl can't go wrong with gold spiderwebs...

The Bearded Lady is at 3005 W Magnolia Blvd. in Burbank, CA 91505.

More on Tasseography here.
Or browse from here for a book of your own.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Everyday Osho

I was out for brunch with my buddy *cough! NAME DROP!* Bob Lizarraga last Sunday. We met up over at Don Cuco's, which is a local Mexican food go-to, to catch up with each other and swap stories about our respective holidays.

I always enjoy the opportunity to spend time with Bob. He's smart, funny, creative, kind and he gets that the creative mind can scream, "SQUIRREL!" at any time and go dashing down a different path. He's completely unfazed by it. We've had some very long, cool conversations because of it.

We talk about our creative projects (He has them right now. I can only listen to his with envy.), our families, politics, whatever happens to be on our minds at the moment. One of the things we talked about the last time (before Sunday) we got together was personal growth and what it means to both of us. 

We've both done some reading about Buddhism from time to time,and I can say that from my perspective, it makes a lot of practical sense. Sort of a reminder to "stay in your lane," and not worry so much about what other people are doing and allow it to throw you off your center. 

So I was really pleased when he presented me with a spare copy of the book, Everyday Osho: 365 Daily Meditations for the Here and Now. It's one of those books you can pick up, open to a random page, and get your "thought for the day." I've started to read it in the morning with my coffee, and sit with the thought or concept for a bit before getting on with my day.

Yesterday's meditation:
"The world is an echoing place. If we throw anger, anger comes back; If we throw love, love comes back."
I felt like it was very timely, given The Great Kleenex Giveaway of 2018.

Apparently, I'm doing something right, resonating in a better place than I have been. Not that I'm perfect, mind you! Far from it. But I'm coming back to a place where I can make different choices about my actions in the face of negativity. Hold my seat just a little better. Step sideways so that other's issues don't hit me in the face and become mine.

I guess getting older can bring some peace and wisdom, and not just a fluffy belly!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Try a Little -- Kleenex?

I went to visit a dear friend in Ventura over the weekend. She's the kind of friend who you don't see for ages, yet you stay in touch and when you do actually manage to get together, it's like no time has passed. I love her to bits!

We caught up about a bunch of stuff. Our respective writings. Our goals for the year, both physical and spiritual. I told her how I was ready to let the difficulties and personal horror of 2017 slide into the abyss of nastiness from whence it came and go forward, with renewed purpose, into the light and promise of 2018.

My scars are healing, and it's time to get back to creating the best life I can create for myself. To get back to actually being myself, someone I haven't seen for lo, these many years. But better. Wiser. My grandmother did it under similar circumstances. So can I.

So anyway, as I dropped my friend off at her car, she pulled out a few packs of that travel-sized Kleenex my Oma always seemed to have in her purse. And, hey! They've been upgraded to something inspirational, as well as practical! She gave me a couple of packs to remind me of my goals, and I love them! (Thanks, Dot!)

Now, one of the things I have always tried to do is to pay "it" (whatever positive "it," it is) forward if I can, and as I was tootling around the 99 Cent Store the other day, I ran across the same tissues! They sell them in packs of three, and since they're only 99 cents, I picked up a few packs to give away to people.

I mailed off a few packs to some folks who've been having some rough times, lately. I figured that maybe they could use a little good energy to keep their spirits up. After all, many people have been there for me, to uplift me when I've needed it most. I hope it helps them remember themselves in a rough time.

Yeah, I know. I'm weird. I give inspirational Kleenex.

What have you done lately to lift someone up?

Thursday, January 4, 2018

50+ Years of an Ugly Cup

As you may remember, I'm staying with my parents until I get my feet back under me and can get into my own space, again. The house happens to be the one in which I grew up, and as a result, it has a sort of time capsule feel to me. 

Some things have changed, like the paint in the living room and the new counter tops and electric range in the kitchen. Other things haven't, like the two 1950's (possibly 1960's) hanging lamps and the funky bar in the den area by the patio door.The other unchanging thing has been my mom's Ugly Cup.

Mom's Ugly Cup has been around ever since I can remember. When we had our first dog, she would let him lick the last few drops of her coffee out of it before it got washed and hung on its hook with all the other cups in the kitchen. It was her morning ritual, go-to cup.

I'm sure you have one, too.

The glaze color isn't particularly flashy or attention-grabbing. I never really liked it as a kid, though I'll admit it's grown on me over the years. The application of the glaze, itself, seems like it was a little thick and uneven. There are even marks left from where air bubbles in the glaze popped, but the glaze didn't flow enough to cover them. Perhaps it was a little underfired? I'm not sure.

Over the last fifty-plus years of use, it's gotten some crackling in it, especially on the one-fingered handle.

The clay, itself, is relatively groggy. It's not a particularly pretty color. The maker, a Japanese student who lived in my mom and dad's apartment building in Pomona, California when they were first married, didn't sand the foot, so it's still rough. She didn't sign it or put her mark on it, either, although my dad still remembers her name. 

I'll have to ask him again one day and see if she turns up in a search.
If you flip it over, you can see the foot isn't perfectly centered, that it's a little off. The foot ring has a ding in it, possibly from being set on a rack while it was still leather hard.
The form is loose and unfussy, the rim mostly round in spite of the informal squaring off of the walls. The cup itself is only large enough to hold a small amount of coffee.

I don't know what it is about this cup which has held my interest for all these years. Maybe it's the obvious hand-made-ness it has as it hangs next to its commercially made Momcat brethren. Perhaps it's the air bubbles in the glaze which made me think of moon craters when I was a kid. (Still does, really.) Maybe it's the modesty of the glaze color, itself, plain and unassuming amid the bright colors of the other mugs hanging nearby.

When I was younger, I used to think that everything which wasn't manufactured, was inferior, somehow. That if it wasn't uniform, wasn't "perfect," it was somehow defective.

Thus, Mom's Ugly Cup.

Now I know better. I embrace the handmade. The quirks. The unevenness. Evidence of the maker's hand on the clay or the glaze. Things which make a humble coffee cup unique.

The other thing I do know, is it makes me miss my studio. I want to get back on the wheel and play around with this form, to deconstruct it so I can better understand its appeal.

The Ugly Cup. Who knew it could produce such longing?