Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Our Lady of The Forest...or spawn 'till you die.

Yes, those two titles are, to my mind, equally suited for this post. It would certainly be nice if all my posts were neatly tied to a topic, beautifully illustrated and executed with stunning phrasing, insight and good punctuation. Unfortunately life is imperfect and minds are complicated.
I've talked about dressing-inspirations before in relation to "characters" we sometimes costume ourselves after, like different facets of our personality; a 70s art teacher, a 60s free spirit, 1890s orphan, pioneer woman, witchy herb-gathering woman, 90s Bikini Kill fan, fisherman-girl...I could go on.

Sometimes inspiration behind a particular way to "style" (I use the word very, very loosely here. The parameters of my "styling" are limited to 5 minutes of dressing time, whether the particular piece is practical for the day's activities and how much fun my husband will make of me if I wear it.) a piece of clothing is a little different.
Since most everything we modern humans do is laden with semantics, memes, meanings and references and most importantly, connections, there are hidden meanings to all of our inspirations. Sure, a dress is just a dress, a garment to shield you from the wet and cold exterior world. But it is also an expression of your selfhood, a secret code that translates to only a few, perhaps none.
So I am not lying when I say that what I wore today was inspired by a famous painting of Leonardo Da Vinci's and other, earlier works in medieval style.
Patch me up
What it is about this dress precisely, given to me by the ever-lovely Missa, I could not tell you, since its mostly a 70s Americana mock-patchwork, but something about the fluttery white sleeves the colors and the fabric inspired me to do my hair up in an echo of a medieval style. Add a leather-band reminiscent of the Da Vinci painting and my guinea hen (?) earrings from Lost Boys and Lovers and there is suddenly something more to this dress than its intended message. (Or maybe I just read too much into it.)
I certainly felt mysterious and transported all day in it.
Amethyst bullet
My Medieval woman would be A Lady of the Forest of course, a see-er, a witch, shape-shifting silly goose.
What's this?
Shining light
Instead of a chalice I like to drink my sweet herbs and tonics from my husband's Spawn Till You Die-cup, a morbid joke only former Alaskan fishermen are sure to get.
Spawn till...
Our Lady Of The Forest, on the other hand is a beautifully wrought tale by David Guterson (one of the few male authors who's work I follow consistently). It's a story about faith, losing it in the face of utter injustice and human misery and finding it in the most unlikely places.
Namely, the small town of barely masked Forks, WA (famous in its own right from an entirely different caste of literature); where a young, homeless mushroom picker becomes the unlikely vessel of Mary-an Visions.

Its events unfold as both believers and unbelievers, as well as those who wish they could believe, flock to the small town to get close to the young visionary. On her side the girl has a local catholic priest who's faith has all but failed him and a cynical older woman. Written in a pitch perfect omniscient voice that's at once passive and intimately aware of the characters, Our Lady Of The Forest is (imho) an over-looked modern classic.

I bet they have it at your local library.


  1. Thank you for the book recommendation.
    And of course, for the constant inspiration.
    Me? today I'm inspired by Alice in Wonderland and long-necked heroines of the Algonquin round table, in my princess-length dress, ruffly scoop necked top and silver shoes intended for tap-dancing but perfect for sitting inside a cozy bookstore stitching notebooks and writing book reviews. The outfit's a figurative, not literal, transposition.

    And please, please, kiss the Redwoods for me. Each one. If you find yourself in Arcata, get thee to Sunflower for brunch.


  2. one of my fave books. great dress, great post. love your hair!

  3. I thrifted a "spawn til you die" tee recently. And given our proximity to rivers and a fish hatchery, thought it was hysterical. My husband liked it, too, but it doesn't fit him...would your C. be interested, you think.

    Lovely outfit posts. Ah, little fluttery white sleeves get me every time. And I love the hairstyle with the leather band (by the way, did you know I accept Milla-made tooled leather leaf hair clips as legal tender at c&c? Email is on its way, I swear!)

  4. *sob* WE HAVE NO LOCAL LIBRARY *sob*

    *sniffle* Meltdown aside, you are just adorable. Your dress reminds me of summer days and sunflowers. In fact, I do believe they would compliment your outfit perfectly. Do you like sunflowers? Surely you must. They're entirely likable plants.

    Do I have any inspiration for my outfit today? Hmm... none, I suppose, other than the gorgeous, warm day we had. It inspired me to wear a sleeveless dress and no socks. Gasp! Thus is January weather on the Aegean coast.

    Jeez, by the looks of this comment, you'd think I've tossed a few back. I haven't, I assure you.

  5. Yay, the dress is adorable on you, just like I knew it would be! I love the medieval muse take on it too. Something about the colors and the print details combined with that empire waist and those fluttery white sleeves, I can totally see where you're coming from :)

    Off to add this book to my library wishlist! Totally into Just Kids right now, did you start it?

  6. missa your comment makes me so happy!!!

    i see this book all the time, it's been dogging me for years and i always think i should read it; well, now i KNOW. working in the midst of books, novels that look delightful all day, i sometimes feel overwhelmed...there's so much to read, i have such varying tastes, what to read next, what will get my heart in that fine state between bliss and despair? i have a pile a mile high of to-read-nexts but sometimes i have to shoot off and try something random like i did with Just Kids. so i love that she is a homeless mushroom picker, reminds me of Wordsworth's dreamy vagabond the Leechcollector. (? it's been a while...)

    that dress is pretty much my favorite style ever and i love the character you're channeling. patchwork and butterfly sleeves do it for me every time, especially out in the woods. and especially with a badass coffee mug and some magic up your sleeve.

    personally i am dressed today in my hub's lumberjack shirt and jeans. my hair's all down, messy from showering last night, and i already ran errands and am just now getting to my coffee. this is all very unlike me. here's to shaking it up a bit!

  7. Wanted to say how much I enjoy your blog. I am a Pacific Northwesterner, born, raised & living in Olympia, of half-Finnish ethnicity, though I have never been there. I love your outfits so much, you have some of the most interesting, fabulous pieces & ways of putting them together! & I love your Pacific Northwest photography; you capture the atmosphere here so well.

  8. i'm excited to see what this book is about. and this post. exactly. i loved it.

  9. I love that first painting! I came across it in either a museum or my art history text book and just fell in love with its weirdness.

  10. Oh wow, I am very excited about this book rec. I adored Snow Falling on Cedars.

    That dress! The cut is such a dream. It's so, dare I say, unique. I want to see clearer pictures of it, or see it in person.

    Gosh I just never think about doing my hair, or going for any certain look with it. But perhaps I will take a page from your book, gorgeous as you look here.

    You know, I am really looking forward to meeting Charlie...

  11. first of all, your posts are beautifully executed with stunning phrasing and insight. i love this inspired outfit! it's beautiful.

    the story sounds intesting. i'll have to add it to my books to read list :D

  12. LOVING your forest outfit and sweet headband!!! Those paintings are gorgeous!

    I was trying to convince Anne to take a road trip with me for the Northern CA meet up!!! :D Don't know if she's gonna go for it... but c'mon??!!! IT'S A ROAD TRIP!!!! wooo hoooo... if not... have a blast [weep, weep..]