izmeina: Roz with clipboard from Monsters Inc (monsters inc)
You know things are sad when a serpent gets more satisfaction and fulfilment wiping windowsills and tabletops and mopping floors than pottering about and slinking in Cyberia
This has been the case for quite a while now but this week has gotten particularly crazy

Since last year now adopted a rather peculiar ritual to go along with the daily Scrooge routine
As well as writing down every single silver sickle spent during the day and on what and preferably in chronological order, I have also taken to using the appointment section of the old fashioned dead tree diary to list what I was doing at the assorted half hour intervals and adding a little grumpy or smily face to indicate how I felt at the time

Mundane musings, rantings and ramblings )
izmeina: (Default)
It's spring time in Oz and time for Izzie to do sorting, tossing, spring cleaning and generally useful and productive activities before the brain draining, soul sapping, sizzling stinking summer sets in and puts an untimely end to all those good intentions.


The usual ritual of watching the sunset at the beach for the September equinox gave way to attending an evening on the art of creating nutritious 15 minute meals from scratch.
I figured that today would be perfectly fine to do the sunset thing instead. But the weather gods had other plans and it rained most of the afternoon. So instead I spent the time squiggling and reading the papers.

Another ritual for this time of the year is an update of the little green notebook. The green notebook is the current repository of a good 3 year's worth of 3 month, 1 year and 5 year plans. It turned out that this September's "New Year's resolutions" were sufficient to fill the remaining pages.
It is a cheap little A7 number from the supermarket and it is half falling apart from the years of use. A timely reminder to take care and get better quality next time. It's just as well I got that stash of Moleskine 2016 diaries back in June for 50 cents each. I'm keeping one of them for 2022 when it will match the year almost perfectly except that pesky January and February. Leap years are such a pain. The others will do perfectly fine as notebooks and there's even a little pocket to stash lists of books to read for the year and other such trivia.

While it is fun ticking the boxes and writing the dates on items as they graduate from works in progress to completed items, it is not so satisfying to find some items being added again month after month and year after year without even any signs of starting in sight. Either they have got to go or they have got to get done.

Writing menu plans, eating more healthily and not wasting food are just some of those things that constantly get put on the long finger and the appearance of that event at the library seemed just the auspicious sign needed to get something done on the munchies front.

Resorting to rituals and creating new habits is the weapon of choice in this battle.
I've got the bathroom, bedroom and laundry cleaning routines on autopilot for nearly two years now to the extent that it requires less thinking and energy to do them than to think of excuses not to. In some strange way I get more energy and satisfaction from cleaning, sweeping and mopping than procrastinating and I get to listen to lots of interesting radio programs at the same time.

Tonight was the first day of the new routine of wiping all the bench tops in the kitchen as well as the dining room table. It was getting tiring adding this item to the 3 month list for the last year and constantly having to put a cross next to it as not been started. Based on past experience, a month of Table Top Thursday's should be sufficient to put this new habit on auto pilot.

Nanowrimo is also looming larger on the horizon. Such a feast of nostalgia and creativity also serves as a reminder of the power of little baby steps of steady squiggling every day as opposed to a giant sprint at the end.

This time I have departed from the usual ritual of generating story ideas.

If I had been following the usual well trodden path, there would already be a reasonably useful story map made from one or more of a collection of some 50 something tarot decks. Between 70 to 90 cards drawn in random batches of 8 or 9 and little index cards with possible story points linking each card to the next and the preceding card.

So it will be interesting to see what difference it makes to wander off into the unknown without the usual safety net and mud maps.

It will also be interesting to see what other ways I can harness the power of the zombie brain on autopilot for getting stuff done.
izmeina: A cute cartoon critter with a bag and a teapot on his head (The Fool)
It's spring time in Oz and time for Izzie to do sorting, tossing, spring cleaning and generally useful and productive activities before the brain draining, soul sapping, sizzling stinking summer sets in and puts an untimely end to all those good intentions.


The usual ritual of watching the sunset at the beach for the September equinox gave way to attending an evening on the art of creating nutritious 15 minute meals from scratch.
I figured that today would be perfectly fine to do the sunset thing instead. But the weather gods had other plans and it rained most of the afternoon. So instead I spent the time squiggling and reading the papers.

Another ritual for this time of the year is an update of the little green notebook. The green notebook is the current repository of a good 3 year's worth of 3 month, 1 year and 5 year plans. It turned out that this September's "New Year's resolutions" were sufficient to fill the remaining pages.
It is a cheap little A7 number from the supermarket and it is half falling apart from the years of use. A timely reminder to take care and get better quality next time. It's just as well I got that stash of Moleskine 2016 diaries back in June for 50 cents each. I'm keeping one of them for 2022 when it will match the year almost perfectly except that pesky January and February. Leap years are such a pain. The others will do perfectly fine as notebooks and there's even a little pocket to stash lists of books to read for the year and other such trivia.

While it is fun ticking the boxes and writing the dates on items as they graduate from works in progress to completed items, it is not so satisfying to find some items being added again month after month and year after year without even any signs of starting in sight. Either they have got to go or they have got to get done.

Writing menu plans, eating more healthily and not wasting food are just some of those things that constantly get put on the long finger and the appearance of that event at the library seemed just the auspicious sign needed to get something done on the munchies front.

Resorting to rituals and creating new habits is the weapon of choice in this battle.
I've got the bathroom, bedroom and laundry cleaning routines on autopilot for nearly two years now to the extent that it requires less thinking and energy to do them than to think of excuses not to. In some strange way I get more energy and satisfaction from cleaning, sweeping and mopping than procrastinating and I get to listen to lots of interesting radio programs at the same time.

Tonight was the first day of the new routine of wiping all the bench tops in the kitchen as well as the dining room table. It was getting tiring adding this item to the 3 month list for the last year and constantly having to put a cross next to it as not been started. Based on past experience, a month of Table Top Thursday's should be sufficient to put this new habit on auto pilot.

Nanowrimo is also looming larger on the horizon. Such a feast of nostalgia and creativity also serves as a reminder of the power of little baby steps of steady squiggling every day as opposed to a giant sprint at the end.

This time I have departed from the usual ritual of generating story ideas.

If I had been following the usual well trodden path, there would already be a reasonably useful story map made from one or more of a collection of some 50 something tarot decks. Between 70 to 90 cards drawn in random batches of 8 or 9 and little index cards with possible story points linking each card to the next and the preceding card.

So it will be interesting to see what difference it makes to wander off into the unknown without the usual safety net and mud maps.

It will also be interesting to see what other ways I can harness the power of the zombie brain on autopilot for getting stuff done.
izmeina: (Default)
It's scary to think that it is exactly 14 years since the Serpent's 'birthday'. It seems like centuries ago but only yesterday.
The magic is long gone but the memories remain.

It was a stinking sizzling 37c today and oh so very tempting to be a lazy snoozy serpent and abandon the annual rituals. Sometimes I wonder if the whole purpose of festivals and rituals is to provide some sort of external structure or deadline to override the lazy lousy inner beast.
Well it certainly worked and it was worth the effort.

Of course there was an added incentive to visit certain sacred sites due to last year's unexpected interruptions to the scheduled program.
In some strange way, not so much the fact of not being at Cottesloe Beach to watch the last sunset of 2014 but simply being unable to watch the last sunset at all because the faint and sickly yellow blob of the northern winter was hiding behind a hundred grey clouds, it was as if the year had never really ended.

So the annual ritual consists of a visit to a certain old lunatic asylum which has been converted into an arts centre. It used to involve a picnic with a bottle of Wynns Cabernet, water crackers and camembert, a quill and bottle of emerald ink and most important of all - a bright shiny new green notebook.
The wine and cheese picnic got left at the Lair for later in the evening since it is a waste of good wine when the day is so hot as well as just being another heavy thing to haul around.

A bright shiny new book to read has also found its way onto the list. This year it is "Wake" from Elizabeth Knox which I managed to snaffle for 3 silver sickles at the charity shop a few months ago. It got rave reviews about six months ago.

So I got as far as one paragraph of this entry when the Keeper of the Keys came to do the lock up ritual at 5pm. But it was a good omen to start in such an auspicious location. That was the main point since hunting and pecking with a horrid tablet keyboard is too much hassle when there's the nice Big Mac serpent friendly keyboard lurking at the Lair. The Big Mac had its 6th birthday last Wednesday and the warranty has long ago run out. It's still doing well and had a much longer shelf life than the ibook got in 2005 with its pissy 256kb memory that was slow as a snail by 2009.

It was amazing how it was like another world within the walls. The plane trees had lost half their leaves but it was quite cool and breezy and not nasty and muggy like it had been when I had set out on the visit. This is largely due to the sea breeze which comes in the afternoon, removes the doom and gloom and lifts everyone's spirits immensely.

It is a day for indulging in nostalgia, for squiggling and doing all the plotting and planning for the new year and review of the old that most folks save for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

Last year's little black book also got switched over for the bright shiny recycled diary from 2011. January and February are one day out thanks to the pesky leap year but the rest is just fine. I had been using an old 2009 model for 2015 until I got tempted by the pretty Moleskine diaries reduced to the very tempting price of $3. I bought a couple of extras for 2020.

Tomorrow there is more sizzling weather forecast so the morning will be spent watering the weeds and devising devious means to keep them alive. There's also magic beans to be planted which will provide shade for some of the more sensitive baby trees.

2015 was a very productive year in the Serpent's Garden and 2016 is going to be even better.
izmeina: a snippet of Escher's circle of serpents (serpent)
It's scary to think that it is exactly 14 years since the Serpent's 'birthday'. It seems like centuries ago but only yesterday.
The magic is long gone but the memories remain.

It was a stinking sizzling 37c today and oh so very tempting to be a lazy snoozy serpent and abandon the annual rituals. Sometimes I wonder if the whole purpose of festivals and rituals is to provide some sort of external structure or deadline to override the lazy lousy inner beast.
Well it certainly worked and it was worth the effort.

Of course there was an added incentive to visit certain sacred sites due to last year's unexpected interruptions to the scheduled program.
In some strange way, not so much the fact of not being at Cottesloe Beach to watch the last sunset of 2014 but simply being unable to watch the last sunset at all because the faint and sickly yellow blob of the northern winter was hiding behind a hundred grey clouds, it was as if the year had never really ended.

So the annual ritual consists of a visit to a certain old lunatic asylum which has been converted into an arts centre. It used to involve a picnic with a bottle of Wynns Cabernet, water crackers and camembert, a quill and bottle of emerald ink and most important of all - a bright shiny new green notebook.
The wine and cheese picnic got left at the Lair for later in the evening since it is a waste of good wine when the day is so hot as well as just being another heavy thing to haul around.

A bright shiny new book to read has also found its way onto the list. This year it is "Wake" from Elizabeth Knox which I managed to snaffle for 3 silver sickles at the charity shop a few months ago. It got rave reviews about six months ago.

So I got as far as one paragraph of this entry when the Keeper of the Keys came to do the lock up ritual at 5pm. But it was a good omen to start in such an auspicious location. That was the main point since hunting and pecking with a horrid tablet keyboard is too much hassle when there's the nice Big Mac serpent friendly keyboard lurking at the Lair. The Big Mac had its 6th birthday last Wednesday and the warranty has long ago run out. It's still doing well and had a much longer shelf life than the ibook got in 2005 with its pissy 256kb memory that was slow as a snail by 2009.

It was amazing how it was like another world within the walls. The plane trees had lost half their leaves but it was quite cool and breezy and not nasty and muggy like it had been when I had set out on the visit. This is largely due to the sea breeze which comes in the afternoon, removes the doom and gloom and lifts everyone's spirits immensely.

It is a day for indulging in nostalgia, for squiggling and doing all the plotting and planning for the new year and review of the old that most folks save for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

Last year's little black book also got switched over for the bright shiny recycled diary from 2011. January and February are one day out thanks to the pesky leap year but the rest is just fine. I had been using an old 2009 model for 2015 until I got tempted by the pretty Moleskine diaries reduced to the very tempting price of $3. I bought a couple of extras for 2020.

Tomorrow there is more sizzling weather forecast so the morning will be spent watering the weeds and devising devious means to keep them alive. There's also magic beans to be planted which will provide shade for some of the more sensitive baby trees.

2015 was a very productive year in the Serpent's Garden and 2016 is going to be even better.
izmeina: (Default)
Good Friday is always an interesting day to go slinking about in the city as the place is pretty much a ghost town. There’s the usual hordes of tourists looking like stunned mullets when they discover that the only places open are the churches and McDonalds.
The smart ones abandon any plans of shopping and go for picnics or barbecues in the parks and by the river.

The serpent routine also takes account of the strangeness. In fact that is what makes the day so special. The usual routine is to go to the old Wesley church in the city for the annual Stations of the Cross art exhibition before slinking over to the east side of the city to lurk around the old streets and the historical graveyard on a hill. There’s also a park on the way with bunya trees. This time of year the nuts are on the ground ready for the picking. They can best be described as pine nuts on steroids. They are the size of avocado stones but that’s just the seeds. The actual pine cones are likely the size of a durian fruit and could be very painful if one fell on top of you.

strange gods )

Many years ago Stephen King’s “Dead Zone” was one of these Good Friday spooky books and the one that started the tradition. It was really creepy remembering the grass and the graveyard and all the surrounding areas from the days when it was a wasteland all blanketed in snow. There was snow storms and blizzards in the story and it was all so vivid that I seen them in the real world too. And like seeing Bugs Bunny at Disney World, snow in April or even in June is completely impossible in this bit of Oz.

But in the world of imagination all things are possible and that is the most scary idea of all.
izmeina: creepy spooky old house infested with crawling critters (spooky)
Good Friday is always an interesting day to go slinking about in the city as the place is pretty much a ghost town. There’s the usual hordes of tourists looking like stunned mullets when they discover that the only places open are the churches and McDonalds.
The smart ones abandon any plans of shopping and go for picnics or barbecues in the parks and by the river.

The serpent routine also takes account of the strangeness. In fact that is what makes the day so special. The usual routine is to go to the old Wesley church in the city for the annual Stations of the Cross art exhibition before slinking over to the east side of the city to lurk around the old streets and the historical graveyard on a hill. There’s also a park on the way with bunya trees. This time of year the nuts are on the ground ready for the picking. They can best be described as pine nuts on steroids. They are the size of avocado stones but that’s just the seeds. The actual pine cones are likely the size of a durian fruit and could be very painful if one fell on top of you.

strange gods )

Many years ago Stephen King’s “Dead Zone” was one of these Good Friday spooky books and the one that started the tradition. It was really creepy remembering the grass and the graveyard and all the surrounding areas from the days when it was a wasteland all blanketed in snow. There was snow storms and blizzards in the story and it was all so vivid that I seen them in the real world too. And like seeing Bugs Bunny at Disney World, snow in April or even in June is completely impossible in this bit of Oz.

But in the world of imagination all things are possible and that is the most scary idea of all.
izmeina: (Default)
Today turned out to be a not so scary solstice after all. It wasn't even sizzling and stinking hot but sunny and breezy and sometimes even a bit on the cool side but that is to be expected by the beach

For it was time to indulge in the annual ritual of watching the sunset. There are a whole bunch of other rituals associated with this day like drawing tarot cards as inspiration for the new year and unofficially sort of starting the new year. From years of observation this day seems to set the tone for the following year rather than New Year's Eve itself.

A new ritual has been added to the list and has proved most interesting indeed

The Little Green Book of Lists )
izmeina: Roz with clipboard from Monsters Inc (monsters inc)
Today turned out to be a not so scary solstice after all. It wasn't even sizzling and stinking hot but sunny and breezy and sometimes even a bit on the cool side but that is to be expected by the beach

For it was time to indulge in the annual ritual of watching the sunset. There are a whole bunch of other rituals associated with this day like drawing tarot cards as inspiration for the new year and unofficially sort of starting the new year. From years of observation this day seems to set the tone for the following year rather than New Year's Eve itself.

A new ritual has been added to the list and has proved most interesting indeed

The Little Green Book of Lists )
izmeina: (Default)
Easter is a strange time in Oz. Unlike Christmas this is one holiday transplanted here that actually works. While in Europe it is all about spring and the return of life after a long cold and dark winter plus of course all the Christian stuff overlaid on top. In this bit of Oz new life returns after undergoing up to three months of hell also known as our sizzling scorching summers where just about every living thing gets nearly nuked

Been lucky this year. Since the equinox every single day has been simply gorgeous weatherwise. It has been sunny but not too hot and the evenings are cooling down nicely. After a day or two of decent rain there’s all sorts of leaves popping even where they had not been planted. We have been known to get the odd 35 celsius even at this time of year but we seem to have been spared that particular replay of hell this time around.

Monsters, misery, doom and gloom )

So it will be a whole year now till the next socially sanctioned fix of doom and gloom, despair and misery followed by a happy clappy day of pigging out on chocolate
izmeina: (Default)
Easter is a strange time in Oz. Unlike Christmas this is one holiday transplanted here that actually works. While in Europe it is all about spring and the return of life after a long cold and dark winter plus of course all the Christian stuff overlaid on top. In this bit of Oz new life returns after undergoing up to three months of hell also known as our sizzling scorching summers where just about every living thing gets nearly nuked

Been lucky this year. Since the equinox every single day has been simply gorgeous weatherwise. It has been sunny but not too hot and the evenings are cooling down nicely. After a day or two of decent rain there’s all sorts of leaves popping even where they had not been planted. We have been known to get the odd 35 celsius even at this time of year but we seem to have been spared that particular replay of hell this time around.

Monsters, misery, doom and gloom )

So it will be a whole year now till the next socially sanctioned fix of doom and gloom, despair and misery followed by a happy clappy day of pigging out on chocolate
izmeina: tree and serpent lurking, permaculture logo (egg)
Easter is a strange time in Oz. Unlike Christmas this is one holiday transplanted here that actually works. While in Europe it is all about spring and the return of life after a long cold and dark winter plus of course all the Christian stuff overlaid on top. In this bit of Oz new life returns after undergoing up to three months of hell also known as our sizzling scorching summers where just about every living thing gets nearly nuked

Been lucky this year. Since the equinox every single day has been simply gorgeous weatherwise. It has been sunny but not too hot and the evenings are cooling down nicely. After a day or two of decent rain there’s all sorts of leaves popping even where they had not been planted. We have been known to get the odd 35 celsius even at this time of year but we seem to have been spared that particular replay of hell this time around.

Monsters, misery, doom and gloom )

So it will be a whole year now till the next socially sanctioned fix of doom and gloom, despair and misery followed by a happy clappy day of pigging out on chocolate
izmeina: (Default)
The serpent’s favorite times of day are dawn and dusk - the wonderful in between times when it is not quite day but not quite night either. Spring and autumn seem to be the seasonal equivalent of dawn and dusk.
There is something so magical and delicate about the light at this time of year. Even when we get the occasional 40 degree day, with sunset now around 6.30pm there is sufficient time for things to cool down quickly

It is a perfect time for new beginnings. Especially in this bit of Oz where summer is the time of death and destruction in the garden and winter is the time of growing things.
But before pigging out on planting, certain rituals must be observed and these include the usual equinox sunset picnic at the beach.
Suspected that the extra day in February might muddle things up a bit and the usual 21-22 March time frame might be not quite correct. Turned out to be true. The official equinox was on Tuesday.

But after a day of goblin servitude and dramas and more of the same the next morning, just did not feel in the mood for slinking about on the beach. So lurked about the Lair instead and celebrated the sunset with a glass or two of bubbly while sitting next to the solar panel inverter.
So the grand plan was to do the beach thing on Wednesday. To return from work, wash away all traces of evil goblin contamination before packing up a picnic and a deck of cards or two for a creative sunny inspiring afternoon at Cottesloe beach.

But things turned out a bit differently. On Tuesday returned to the Lair to find a big fat bag of sweet potato plants and a bucket with a banana plant in it. Petunia had brought them over for the big autumn planting blitz. But she had also brought over her house keys and forgot to bring them back. So that was going to mean making a detour to Privet Drive after work on Wednesday to bring them back.

This did not stop any potential sunset rituals but it did mean there would be no time to return to the Lair to wash the work out of our hair. Would have to make do with just a change of clothes. Could not be caught dead on the street with the green tea towel of servitude and the appalling corporate logo emblazened all over it.
It also meant a change of location. Could still go to the beach but it would be the one normally reserved for the winter solstice. Preferences are based not on any sort of magical significance but access to public transport. The last few winter solstices have been on work days. Finishing at 1pm and needing to be at the beach for 5pm in winter kind of limits your choices when relying on the bus or train

So leaving their place just after 3pm after feasting on pumpkin soup and sweet potatoes from Petunia’s patch, it was ever so tempting to just return to the Lair for a snooze in the garden. Resorted to the old mind trick of “Will you wish you had chosen differently this time tomorrow?” and that kept the serpent on the straight and narrow
The bus driver was the sort who just loved slamming on the brakes to celebrate the beginning of a new minute. Who would ever think that just sitting down could be so exhausting. Lucky the bus was only half full because if anyone had been standing, they had several opportunities to be tossed forward or onto the floor. Not a good omen at all. Arrived alive but not so well. The serpent suspects that she was lacking the resilience present last week due to to not performing the necessary scrubbing of the scales ritual

Next stop was to the bottle shop. Fremantle is becoming a bit of a dead zone. It too is infested with goblins most of whom are real estate agents and property developers. They have put up rents so much that many small shops and even some of the big ones are all packing up and leaving town. They are now being replaced by pop up stores on short term leases. This particular one was one of the cheapie remainder book stores that seem to be all over such vacant premises. It was at the entrance to the same shopping centre where the bottles of red were located

No. No no. You do not need any more books. There’s the library and boxes and boxes of them in the Lair. You would need five lifetimes to read them all. Do not even dream of peeking

But of course that is just what the Izzie did. The place was full of the countless recipe and cook books that is the stock in trade of such stores. Craft books and colourful kid’s picture books are another big seller. But it was a big red box that caught the Izzie’s eye. A big red and black box with beautiful spooky script bearing the title “The Vampire Tarot”
Yes. It was the one by Robert Place that one of the new age crystals and unicorns shops just around the corner had on its shelf for a mere $50
And this one? Like everything in the store it was $5. Good little serpent Izzie remained restrained and got only two. After all, maybe they are seconds or maybe they are ugly although not too likely given the other stuff he has done

So that was a stroke of luck. So would now be celebrating the twilight zone of the twilight season unwrapping and peeking at a spooky new dark and shiny deck.
So after a toast to the setting sun and the descent of darkness, unwrapped the precious box and peeked at the treasures within. Plastic shrink wrap is so tight these days that a fingernail would not do. Had to resort to using the set of house keys to rip the infernal thing off. Not only the box but the cards too were inflicted with this misery. Amazing that the big fat red book wasn’t.

The cards were large and like a big fat solid brick. It was a real effort to separate them and was afraid the whole time of damaging these precious specimens. But they did eventually separate with no apparent damage. Assumed that this was the reason they were in the sale or that they had been stuck in some warehouse at 40 degrees celsius for months on end
Aside from this minor annoyance, the cards themselves were very impressive (aside from the ugly illustration on the back). So so true that the best artist is not the one who uses the most colours. They are simple and elegant and for some inexplicable reason remind this serpent of art deco. Just loved the big fat juicy garlic plant that was the ace of pentacles. Garlic flowers, daggers, stakes and holy water were just perfect icons for each suit. These are proper Bram Stoker vampires. No sparkly stuff here.

Jonathan Harker ascending the steps of a certain castle was a perfect scene for the fool but the creepy creature adorning the door was a bit of overkill. Renfield in his straightjacket surrounded by a menagerie of flies and spiders was the hanged man. He was not upside down and had an uncanny resemblance to the Fool in the Dark Grimoire deck. (After all these years it is still the serpent favourite)

The book too is full of fascinating snippets about the history of tarot and vampires and is a seriously juicy read. What a fantastic find and at such an unbelievable price. Will probably make the end of year quiz under the category of ‘What is the best thing you bought this year”
Went for a peek on Amazon where the same deck is selling for $25 and read a review over at Aeclectic Tarot. Apparently this thing of the cards being all stuck together and difficult to separate is not unique to this particular sample. Will be back to snaffle another batch tomorrow. Can think of at least 3 Izzie friends who would adore this deck but thanks to the goblins at the Australia Post owleries, even at five silver sickles, it would still be cheaper to send them as prezzies from Amazon at full price than to pay postage from Oz. But there will be boxes of the little critters lurking in the Lair in the event of unexpected visitors.

If there ever was a case of value being so much greater than cost, than this deck is a prime example.
Now if only some boxes of the Alchemical tarot fallen from the back of a truck could find their way into this store
izmeina: (Crazy)
The serpent’s favorite times of day are dawn and dusk - the wonderful in between times when it is not quite day but not quite night either. Spring and autumn seem to be the seasonal equivalent of dawn and dusk.
There is something so magical and delicate about the light at this time of year. Even when we get the occasional 40 degree day, with sunset now around 6.30pm there is sufficient time for things to cool down quickly

It is a perfect time for new beginnings. Especially in this bit of Oz where summer is the time of death and destruction in the garden and winter is the time of growing things.
But before pigging out on planting, certain rituals must be observed and these include the usual equinox sunset picnic at the beach.
Suspected that the extra day in February might muddle things up a bit and the usual 21-22 March time frame might be not quite correct. Turned out to be true. The official equinox was on Tuesday.

But after a day of goblin servitude and dramas and more of the same the next morning, just did not feel in the mood for slinking about on the beach. So lurked about the Lair instead and celebrated the sunset with a glass or two of bubbly while sitting next to the solar panel inverter.
So the grand plan was to do the beach thing on Wednesday. To return from work, wash away all traces of evil goblin contamination before packing up a picnic and a deck of cards or two for a creative sunny inspiring afternoon at Cottesloe beach.

But things turned out a bit differently. On Tuesday returned to the Lair to find a big fat bag of sweet potato plants and a bucket with a banana plant in it. Petunia had brought them over for the big autumn planting blitz. But she had also brought over her house keys and forgot to bring them back. So that was going to mean making a detour to Privet Drive after work on Wednesday to bring them back.

This did not stop any potential sunset rituals but it did mean there would be no time to return to the Lair to wash the work out of our hair. Would have to make do with just a change of clothes. Could not be caught dead on the street with the green tea towel of servitude and the appalling corporate logo emblazened all over it.
It also meant a change of location. Could still go to the beach but it would be the one normally reserved for the winter solstice. Preferences are based not on any sort of magical significance but access to public transport. The last few winter solstices have been on work days. Finishing at 1pm and needing to be at the beach for 5pm in winter kind of limits your choices when relying on the bus or train

So leaving their place just after 3pm after feasting on pumpkin soup and sweet potatoes from Petunia’s patch, it was ever so tempting to just return to the Lair for a snooze in the garden. Resorted to the old mind trick of “Will you wish you had chosen differently this time tomorrow?” and that kept the serpent on the straight and narrow
The bus driver was the sort who just loved slamming on the brakes to celebrate the beginning of a new minute. Who would ever think that just sitting down could be so exhausting. Lucky the bus was only half full because if anyone had been standing, they had several opportunities to be tossed forward or onto the floor. Not a good omen at all. Arrived alive but not so well. The serpent suspects that she was lacking the resilience present last week due to to not performing the necessary scrubbing of the scales ritual

Next stop was to the bottle shop. Fremantle is becoming a bit of a dead zone. It too is infested with goblins most of whom are real estate agents and property developers. They have put up rents so much that many small shops and even some of the big ones are all packing up and leaving town. They are now being replaced by pop up stores on short term leases. This particular one was one of the cheapie remainder book stores that seem to be all over such vacant premises. It was at the entrance to the same shopping centre where the bottles of red were located

No. No no. You do not need any more books. There’s the library and boxes and boxes of them in the Lair. You would need five lifetimes to read them all. Do not even dream of peeking

But of course that is just what the Izzie did. The place was full of the countless recipe and cook books that is the stock in trade of such stores. Craft books and colourful kid’s picture books are another big seller. But it was a big red box that caught the Izzie’s eye. A big red and black box with beautiful spooky script bearing the title “The Vampire Tarot”
Yes. It was the one by Robert Place that one of the new age crystals and unicorns shops just around the corner had on its shelf for a mere $50
And this one? Like everything in the store it was $5. Good little serpent Izzie remained restrained and got only two. After all, maybe they are seconds or maybe they are ugly although not too likely given the other stuff he has done

So that was a stroke of luck. So would now be celebrating the twilight zone of the twilight season unwrapping and peeking at a spooky new dark and shiny deck.
So after a toast to the setting sun and the descent of darkness, unwrapped the precious box and peeked at the treasures within. Plastic shrink wrap is so tight these days that a fingernail would not do. Had to resort to using the set of house keys to rip the infernal thing off. Not only the box but the cards too were inflicted with this misery. Amazing that the big fat red book wasn’t.

The cards were large and like a big fat solid brick. It was a real effort to separate them and was afraid the whole time of damaging these precious specimens. But they did eventually separate with no apparent damage. Assumed that this was the reason they were in the sale or that they had been stuck in some warehouse at 40 degrees celsius for months on end
Aside from this minor annoyance, the cards themselves were very impressive (aside from the ugly illustration on the back). So so true that the best artist is not the one who uses the most colours. They are simple and elegant and for some inexplicable reason remind this serpent of art deco. Just loved the big fat juicy garlic plant that was the ace of pentacles. Garlic flowers, daggers, stakes and holy water were just perfect icons for each suit. These are proper Bram Stoker vampires. No sparkly stuff here.

Jonathan Harker ascending the steps of a certain castle was a perfect scene for the fool but the creepy creature adorning the door was a bit of overkill. Renfield in his straightjacket surrounded by a menagerie of flies and spiders was the hanged man. He was not upside down and had an uncanny resemblance to the Fool in the Dark Grimoire deck. (After all these years it is still the serpent favourite)

The book too is full of fascinating snippets about the history of tarot and vampires and is a seriously juicy read. What a fantastic find and at such an unbelievable price. Will probably make the end of year quiz under the category of ‘What is the best thing you bought this year”
Went for a peek on Amazon where the same deck is selling for $25 and read a review over at Aeclectic Tarot. Apparently this thing of the cards being all stuck together and difficult to separate is not unique to this particular sample. Will be back to snaffle another batch tomorrow. Can think of at least 3 Izzie friends who would adore this deck but thanks to the goblins at the Australia Post owleries, even at five silver sickles, it would still be cheaper to send them as prezzies from Amazon at full price than to pay postage from Oz. But there will be boxes of the little critters lurking in the Lair in the event of unexpected visitors.

If there ever was a case of value being so much greater than cost, than this deck is a prime example.
Now if only some boxes of the Alchemical tarot fallen from the back of a truck could find their way into this store

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