Sunday, October 18, 2015

Crimson Peak and Ruin Photography/Porn

At the heart of CRIMSON PEAK is a ghost story brought about by madness. The ghosts are comprised of people who are sacrificed for the sake of Allerdale Hall, a crumbling gothic structure sinking into the ground of liquid red clay of Cumberland, England. It's owners are destitute and desperate to hold onto the house and the land as it is the only thing left to them with their titles. [Spoilers here:]

The movie was beautifully shot. The story brilliantly told. But for me, the star of the scenes was Allerdale Hall. As they first enter it, it seems grand until you realize that there are leaves falling into the entryway due to the gaping hole in the roof.  Some rooms aren't safe to go into anymore.  The whole of the building is a long run of what people today call "Ruin Photography" or "Ruin Porn".

Wikipedia describes "Ruin Photography" as such:

"Ruins photography, sometimes called ruin porn,[1] is a recent movement in photography that takes the decline of the built-environment (cities, buildings, infrastructure) as its subject. While “ruins” may be broadly defined as the remnants, or residue of human achievement from the temples of ancient Sumeria to Machu Picchu, ruins photography refers specifically to the capture of urban decay and decline in the post-industrial zones of the world. Ruins photography aestheticizes the abandonment and decline of the city most of all, and has sparked conversations about the role of art in various revitalization and restoration projects from Detroit to Berlin."

There has also been countless articles about why we are so caught up in the images:

I know that for some people they see the beauty in the ruins. I can too. However, when I see these "ruins", I have an overwhelming longing to save them. Or save pieces of them. My heart mourns that once may have been loved is allowed to slowly and needlessly decay; to die such a lonely death.  I mourne that the ground beneath them is allowed to go fruitless.

I look at this old staircase and imagine that it could be salvaged and given a new life in another structure. There are people who rehab old houses and I applaude them using old fixtures and pieces where they can.  I just wish that more salvaging could be done.  Reuse, renew, recycle isn't just a mantra for Earth Day. It should be something that is put to use more often in our everyday world.  To let resources from old structures go to ruin seems nearly a crime to me.

Decorative pieces could be salvaged even in a house that looks like it could fall down any moment to be used for new projects. Wood floors can be dismantled to use for rehabbing old houses or even in new constructions.  Instead of the bricks and wood and windows going into landfills, we should try to find ways of making them useful again. If not in the actual building of houses, these elements can still be used as decorative items.  Old windows can be brought together to form an albet unusual greenhouse, but it can be done.  There is also an arts and crafts movement that use old building pieces to create furniture, wall art, and free-form pieces.

Couldn't the wood from old structures (that which is not rotted or insect riddled) be replaned and used again or turned into paper pulp instead of cutting down live trees?  Could not old bricks be used as pavers?  Metal from stairwells and decorations could be used in construction.  It could also be used as scrap metal and melted down for a new life.  It just seems such a shame to me that all these resources go to waste.

It's not just the building materials that are going to waste.  The land the the unused buildings are settling on is also misused.  The land could be used for a new structure or farming or new forests could be planted for native animal and plant habitation.  All I can see when I look that the ruin porn images is that we are wasting our resources.  We are wasting so much that could easily be reclaimed.  Instead, we are letting them decay like the souls of Crimson Peak.

I would dismantle the estate instead of letting it die so brutually. I would save would could be saved - pack it away to be reassembled or reused elsewhere. Then just build a proper mine, liquid clay storage, and brick-making site on the land where the snow turns crimson every winter. But I know that all this is easier said than done. That's why it's not done more often.  Without our insistence on renewing, reusing, and recycling of what resources are already out there, we are setting outselves up for eventual decline.

Friday, September 25, 2015


A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others. -William Faulkner, novelist (25 Sep 1897-1962) 

Monday, June 15, 2015


I've been binge watching ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK with my husband.   He discovered it on Netflix while he was staying in Chile.  He fell in love with it and was desperate to share it with me.  There are now three seasons of the show.  Many parts are heart wrenching. I feel raw after watching the episodes.  There are too many feelings competing for top position.

There are a few points I take away from this show:

1. Everyone needs to be loved.
2. Everyone needs comfort now and again without exception.
3. Everyone needs a fixed point to focus on to get through an ordeal.
4. The thought of losing your identity, who you see yourself as, is terrifying.

I also know that you don't need to be in prison to know these things, to feel them overtaking you.  Maybe it's the PTSD talking but I feel broken.  I don't want to compare what I went through to what the women portrayed in prison go through.

The scene in the second season in which the inmate "V" has had her stash of heroin stolen stirred up too many feelings and thoughts within me.  It caused me to remember all those times my step-father, Junior, would angrily tear up the house looking for something he's misplaced.  He'd line us up and scream at us.  directly into our ears.  Damn it.  My ears still ring.  "I know one of you moved my shit!  I want y'all to look for it until it's found!  No one is doing nothing else until it's found.  And you don't EVER touch my shit.Never move my shit!"  And no one was allowed to do anything else until whatever was found.  No TV.  No going outside.  No eating.  No going to the bathroom.  Find his shit.  Find his shit. Find his shit.

He's been dead now for what, 21 years.   But he was a strict warden.  We couldn't have friends in the outside world though I did get breaks here and there.  He worked hard to turn us against each other.  If we disliked/didn't trust our sisters, our mother, we surely wouldn't talk to them about what he was doing to us.  We wouldn't realize that he was systematically abusing us all - physically, sexually, mentally.  We were strictly monitored.  He was such a fucking asshole manipulator.  It's taken so long to try to repair the damage he inflicted, or that we inflicted on our confused selves.  And we will never be the people we were before him.  Before my stepfather, Junior.  Before my equally abusive asshole father, Leslie, who has been dead for 41 years now.  We will never be the person we might have been before.

Oh damn it!  Sweet Jesus!  Who might we have been without those assholes tearing into us?  Mom could have been so different.  She might have raised us properly.  Without fear.  With more love.  My eldest sister might have become a gardener at a greenhouse or a landscaper for some beautiful place.  My second elder sister might have been an amazing scifi writer and an antiques/kitch items dealer.  My third eldest sister might have been a great artist with her paintings or she might have become a vet assistant with her love for animals.  Her rapport with them is astounding!

We might have all been so much closer to each other.  So much more loving without their abuse and violent interference and manipulation (anger, pain, mistrust). We would be able to get together and love one another without memories, deep undercurrents of emotions, complication everything.

My family also watches Game of Thrones but after this season I think I need to just swear it off.  I can't take the seemingly endless brutality which has been focused mostly on women.  It has also set off my PTSD.  It also brings up memories that I want to forget.  I don't want to remember the lock downs, the beat downs, the humiliations, the loneliness, the isolation.  I don't want to remember not having a future to focus on to get through the fear and the pain because I wasn't sure when my step-father would kill me. Not if. When.

I hate that 21 years after my step-father's death and 41 years after my father's death that their imprints on my psyche still affect rather or not I can enjoy watching a TV show with my husband.  My husband watches the show with different eyes.  The emotions I feel aren't the emotions he feels.  And, thank God, they are emotions that my children don't feel.  Will hopefully never feel.

Everyone deserves love without pain.  Everyone deserves comfort and compassion.  Everyone should have something in their future to look forward to.  Everyone should have a core identity - to be able to find, and know one's self.  Everyone needs these things as much as food and water and shelter from the elements.  Everyone deserves to feel safe.

Safe like a comedy movie.  Movie.  Maybe a RomCom.  Maybe I'll just put something light on the TV.  Background noise that stealthily salves my wounds until I can function like a normal person again.  Until I feel safe again.  I'll stick with black.  I never looked good in orange.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Thanks for the Memories

I attended this year's Indiana ComiCon in Indianapolis.  I don't go to cons as often as my husband and daughter do do so I felt a little lost, out of place.  I went to the dealers' room first just to see what was there.  When I entered the room one of the first booths I encounter was for the comic artist Mike Grell (
Mike Grell at his booth March 2015.
There was a comic book set on display at the front corner of the table.  I stopped dead when I saw it.  It wasn't that I immediately knew the artist by name, but the cover of the comic caught my attention. I knew it but I couldn't place it at first.  The comic on display was "THE WARLORD" Vol 7 No. 53 from January 1982 titled "The Sorceress' Apprentice".  I stood starring at the comic.  I knew that I had owned it once as a child.  I couldn't tell you what it was about.  I couldn't remember the plot.  But from the cover I knew that it had once been important to me.  

I happily paid $6.00 for a DC Comic that originally cost 60 cents.  I waited to have the artist sign it before I opened it.  He was distracted while doing a sketch for another attendee.  He rambled pleasantly while he sketched. I waited patiently, racking my brain to remember what it was about this comic.  When he finally did sign it, he barely acknowledged me as I babbled about how I had bought this comic in my youth.  There were others waiting and I am sure he has heard this kind of thing a thousand times before.

It was as we drove home, after a day of walking among amazing people, seeing amazing things that I finally sat down alone with "The Sorceress' Apprentice".  It was one single page in the story that opened a Pandora's box for me.  A young woman is very emotionally damaged by a tragedy that happened in an earlier edition.  A witch comes into her life.  The witch wants to learn about the technology from our world that the young woman excels at.  She proposes an exchange of knowledge - technology from the woman for magic from the witch.  But first the girl must be healed from her crippling trauma (she's so locked she can barely communicate).

In one panel we are shown where the witch reaches inside the woman's mind, finds the terrible trauma and the damage it's caused, and simply removes it.  After that the witch teaches the woman how to use magic while she learns about technology.  But I stop there.  It's all about that one panel that takes up only a fourth of the page at the bottom.  It says EVERYTHING that I wanted during that dark time in my life.  January of 1982 I would have been 12 1/2 years old.  The sexual abuse from my step-father would have started the summer before.  I was in an unbelievable amount of pain with seemingly no way out.  It would have been a blessing if a witch had come into my life, removing me from the situation, and wiping me clean of the pain.  Oh what a blessing it would have been!  How I would have held onto that!  But no witch came to save me.  No knight in shining armor either.  No one came.  In the end it was my own mind snapping that moved me out of the situation (to a degree).  
Fast forward 33 years.  I'm not magically cured of all the pain but I can function fairly well.  I have my problems.  I still have moments where a memory wiping witch would come in handy.  However, I have to believe that it was the mental escape and the hope this story offered that helped me to get through those early years.  (Reading was always such a beautiful escape for me!)  It was something to hold onto.  Perhaps I was holding out for the witch within.  Wounded, heal thyself.  And for the most part, I have.  The young woman in the story was able to instantly be able to function normally again. It took me about 30 years longer on my own without the witch's spell.

I am thankful for the memories that this comic brought back to me.  Sometimes I need to be reminded of how very far I have come so that I know that I can go wherever and do whatever I set my mind to. Sometimes we all need to take that step back for clarity.  

Thanks for the memories.

Monday, March 9, 2015


Dear Child/Teenage Me,

It doesn't matter that your house and your family isn't like the Brady Bunch or even the Addams Family for that matter.  Those are all fake!  The house of the Addams Family is decorated in pastels in real life.  And six people for one bathroom, please, not actually realistic for a middle class family.  None of this is real, so don't get caught up in these trappings.  There are more families out there than you know that are as dysfunctional as yours.  Bruises fade. Scars lighten.

Don't worry about trying to fit in or be like the rest of the kids - especially the cool kids.  Don't worry about fashion and trying to look like everyone else.  In the end that's not going to matter.  They will never accept or respect you anyway.  Don't worry about all the movies you didn't get to see in the theater either.  There will actually be plenty of time for that later and most of them won't hold up over time anyway.  Don't worry about dating or if someone will ever love you.  There's plenty of time for that too.  YOU WILL BE LOVED.  You will be loved so much more than you have ever imagined.

Instead of all this, which will be utter nonsense to you later on, save your money and your time.  Instead, read more.  Read so much more.  And read a wider variety.  There are worlds out there that you don't want to miss!  Visit the library - any library - as often as you can.  Take trips to Mars instead of the mall. Take a ride on slow moving boat to the Pacific islands instead of to Music Tracks.  [Music can only take you so far and isn't worth the investment - save your money for the future] And write more. Write about anything and everything. Write silly love stories. Write about faeries. Write about monsters. Write about epic battles - both on the field and within the mind. Just let go of the fears that you will never be good enough because you will be.  The future is wider and more open for you when you let go of the fear.

Lastly, I need you to know, you will be okay.  You will go places and do things that you never even imagined.  You can and will be amazing.  You will even inspire others to reach for higher goals, to move through the pain, to create the beauty that they dream.  Just try to hold on to your sanity and you will make it through all this chaotic turmoil.  You will survive this trauma.  You will thrive.

Love Always,
Lelain de Peche

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Physical Disabilities

Written January 14, 2015

Yesterday I took the forms my doctor had signed to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and in return I was issued a handicapped/disability hang-tag for parking.  It is supposed to help me when my fibromyalgia or asthma are acting up.  Lately my back and my knees begin killing me with little to no provocation.

Still, there's this voice inside me saying that I'm cheating, that I'm a faker, and there are people out there who really need help.  After some thought, it came to me who that voice really belongs to.  When I was in the fourth grade, I had really bad stomach troubles.  I missed a lot of school and had a lot of testing done.  In the end the doctors couldn't find what was wrong.  I remember that evening, being told that I needed to go out by the road where my step-father was working on a car.  He told me that the doctors didn't find  nothing wrong with me so there weren't nothing wrong with me.  He was yelling at me by that point, spittle flying out at me as from a rabid dog attack.  "You're just faking this shit!  You're going to school and you're doing your work (around the house and yard)! I better not hear anything else about this or I'll whip your ass!  Do you hear me?!"  My ears rang with his screaming and with his slap upside my head.  He always seemed to hit my ears.

And damn it all, my ears still ring - both of them - from his fits of anger.  In retrospect, I know what my stomach problems were all those years ago: acid stomach or nervous stomach and a spastic colon.  Quite frankly, it's a wonder I didn't have ulcers before I was 16.

All these years later when again there is something really wrong with me, I can hear his voice still telling me that I'm faking to put others out.  It's a damn nuisance really.  Will there ever be a time when I have my head space all to myself?  Will there ever be a time when all the other voices, those bitter, negative voices will fall permanently silent?  I don't know.  But I sure am going to work on it - one little thing at a time.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Break in the Cold

I cannot speak
My tongue is dumb
Spirit is shackled
Mind is numb
Such a whirlwind of change
in the days to come.

Although it has warmed up some this weekend and a good bit of snow has melted away, I still feel cold inside.  I can't seem to get warm at all.  It doesn't help that I woke up with a sinus pressure headache that feels like it is trying to push out my left eye.  I feel cold and damaged.  I have so many things to do yet I stumble when I try to complete them.  I can't seem to even get my house clean!  My husband has been out of the country all week on business.  While this leaves me with plenty of time to get things done, it also leaves me lonely.  I'm not as productive, it seems, when I feel lonely or isolated.  So at least I've learned something about myself.

I can't prove it but I would swear that the cold takes almost as much out of me as physical exercise.  I was out in the cold yesterday trying to scrape all the ice off of my sidewalk.  There were places where it was a 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick! A serious danger for anyone trying to make a delivery.  Between the physical work to get the ice up and off the sidewalk and the cold, I felt completely wiped out.  But just after that my son wanted to go out shopping at the dollar stores just to get out of the house.  And I took him and walked around three different stores for about two hours.  I did it despite the fact that I was already in pain because he needed to get out and maybe I did too.

There is at least another month and a half of winter to get through.  There are multiple tasks on my "to do" list that must be completed by then.  I need to buckle down and fight again the cold and my own body to get these things done.  I come from a long line of fighters who survive against the odds. I feel confident that I will get through this and find myself (and my muse) again.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Goodbye to 2014

Written in October 2014:
Sometime during the winter of 2014 a part of me died.  It's like I'm still trying to shovel my way out of the cold but that cold is within me.  I am only now beginning to reawaken.  An unfortunate time to re-emerge just as the first taste of autumn is touching the air.  It will not be long before the snow's begins piling at my door.  I will need to fight not to lose myself again.  In actuality it has been an interesting year.  We have traveled and done many things as a family:
Ohayo Con - January 2014

There was so much to see and do at Ohayo Con. Plenty of booths for goodies of all kinds.  However, I just loved watching all the people in full costume having a lovely time!
My favorite photo from the con - my family.

A New Great Niece was born - April 2014

My Daughter's Graduation - May 2014

So very proud of her!!

Holiday World - May 2014 and August 2014
My favorite photo from our trip to Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana.

My Son's Swimming Lessons Continued for Special Olympics - All 2014

Visit to the Indianapolis Museum during the summer

My Daughter's Departure for Japan - August 2014
There was a lovely going away party for my daughter at the Sunsphere in Knoxville, Tennessee.  She packed up all here things and drove with us up to Indiana.  She left for Japan from the Indianapolis airport.

And then she was gone to the other side of the world have adventures.

Starting Quilts for My Twin Great Nieces

The Theme is "The Universe is Yours to Explore".  And they deserve the best!


Chicago at Christmas
This was the first time we had taken our son to Chicago.  He was shocked by the size of the city but loved all the Christmas decorations and the shopping!

Grand Lux Cafe

Grand Lux Cafe, Chandelier above our table.

Bundled for the cold!

Window Display

Willis (Sears)  Tower 103 floor at night - beautiful.
Upon retrospection, I find that my husband and I did a bit of shopping for antiques (which we love to do - mostly just for looking) and for replacing items that are worn out, old, or outdated.  My husband is also sweet enough to take me shopping for clothes, jewelry, office supplies, and coveted books.  When he misses and anniversary or birthday due to travel for work, he brings me back the loveliest things - like lapis, agate, and silver jewelry, alpaca wool sweater, and llama pens (it's a pen with a 1 inch llama on top).  I love my husband, my mate for life, so very much. We try to keep each other balanced and entertained.

Books Read in 2014
The Lost Civilization Enigma - Phillip Coppens
The Sandman: The World's End - Neil Gaimen
The Sandman: The Kindly Ones - Neil Gaimen
The Ghost Next Door - Wylly Folk St. John
The Sandman: The Wake - Neil Gaimen
The Sandman: Endless Nights - Neil Gaimen
The Sandman: The Dream Hunters - Neil Gaimen
By the Silver Waters of Lake Champlain - Joe Hill
Maleficent - Elizabeth Rudnick/Linda Woolverton
Locked Out: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome - John Scalzi
Carrie - Stephen King (re-read)
Midnight Crossroads - Charlaine Harris
The Atlantis Gene - A.G. Riddle
Grave Sight - Charlaine Harris (re-read)
Grave Surprise - Charlaine Harris (re-read)
Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter - Josh Gates
The Snow Goose - Paul Gallico (1941)
Dad is Fat - Jim Gaffigan
An Ice Cold Grave - Charlaine Harris (re-read)
The Boy in the Smoke - Maureen Johnson
Grave Secret - Charlaine Harris (re-read)
Shakespeare's Landlord - Charlaine Harris
The Doll in the Garden - Mary Downing Hahn
Eighth Grade Bites - Heather Brewer
Shakespeare's Champion - Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare's Christmas - Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare's Trollop - Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare's Counselor - Charlaine Harris
Ninth Grade Slays - Heather Brewer
Tenth Grade Bleeds - Heather Brewer
Eleventh Grade Burns - Heather Brewer
Twelfth Grade Kills - Heather Brewer

All this activity and some upheaval, yet my writing and my creativity during this time has been at a minimum.  I seem to have a complete block.  Putting pen to paper is an almost painful chore.  I don't know how to correct it.  Yet the other night I dreamed I was orchestrating a complex story line.  I saw the characters playing out the stories I had created.  The dream finished with me at a rectangle table with quill in hand saying to myself, "I had forgotten how much fun this is!"  And I woke myself up laughing in my sleep.

Should I view this as a sign?  Is my creative self waking up and breaking through the ice?  I feel as though there is a knock on the door, and I should answer.

January 8, 2015
The snow is already heavy on the grounds before we can get all the Christmas decorations put away.  We are saving some things so that we can have Christmas with our daughter, Heather, when she returns from Japan in March 2015.  I have made out my New Year's resolutions and plans.  I am working to put together a collection of short stories that I hope to release this year.  I am trying desperately not to fall into the same trap as last year.  I know I need to stay active both mental and physically.  It's always a struggle one way or another.