Sunday, April 21, 2013

Family Portrait

You may remember the Procession of The Species from last year. It's a parade of animals, real and mythical, that some friends of ours put on every year around Earth Day.

C. seems to traditionally have an awesome mask about ready to debut and I cobble together whatever I've got kicking around the closet. Actually I'm pretty sure that if you wrote down like ten ideas for a costume I could do five or six of them straight out of my closet. I don't like to brag, but I did grow up in the theatre playing hide-and-seek in the costume department.

Making costumes is totally one of the many things I look forward to if we ever have a little one ourselves. While I remember how my mom was not interested in crafting with me when I was little, the seamstresses at the theatre made all of my costume dreams come true from age 5 on, no matter how elaborate, and I remember too the joy of turning into someone, or something of the great pleasures of kid-hood.

C.'s Bear mask has genuine bear-fur eyebrows curtesy of a generous friend who had a few bear hides, you know, kicking around. He's holding his Raven rattle, which he kept shaking as we took photos. After a while, a real raven started responding from the woods, cawing and rattling and tattling away the whole rest of the time. Most every time C. shook his rattle, the Raven replied from the trees.


This was the most fun we've had in a long time, partly because it was exciting for me to experiment with photographing another model besides myself, in a more constructed setting than just snapping away and partly 'cos, you know, it's fun to traipse around the sunny spring woods with animal masks on and make merry.
I was kind of shocked that C. was a willing participant in the picture shenanigans, since usually he gets annoyed with my obsession of getting just the right compositions and light and colors. It's the tiny cinematographer in me. No really, it's tiny, I'm a word girl. Word.
Since my complaints about camera woes, I've actually been getting really good shots. The lack of depth and close-up focus quality still drive me nuts, but I'm determined to make the most of what I've got.

These images of C. beneath one "our" old growths actually kind of gives me the chills. There's something eerie about it. It's so interesting to me how, watching the parade, kids are spooked by masks, believing that they transform the person beneath them into another being, even in spite knowing who's under there.
One of the moms I talked to at the parade was a little huffy about having "scary" masks where there's kids around and honestly, I kind of wanted to roll my eyes (Totally not okay to roll your eyes at anyone I know. But I did on the inside since the assumption is that as a child-free person, I obviously know absolutely nothing about kids, right?) at her.

Being scared and figuring out why and of what, is totally part of growing up. In fact, most children themselves seem to go through a fascination with the macabre, the spooky, the spine-tingling. Many want to be scary themselves, hence all those good sheets with holes for ghost outfits, and monster growling jump out of the closet fits. Everyone's entitled to their opinion of course (except people without kids, obviously), but if scary masks are the only thing your kid ever has to figure out, they'll be so darn lucky.
As for my decidedly un-scary costume, I wore a dress from Missa's last package that is a perfect fit (whaddya know-the girl's a genius) and a really flattering cut, but a brick red/rust color that I'm uncertain of. It's one of those weird things, I'll wear any damn color I want, but tend to gravitate away from earthy tones, toward primary and bright colors.
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The compliments I got for it made me think that I ought to give it another whirl and it is a damn flattering cut. The cardigan came from Sadie, the flats and tights from the dump, as did my tail, of which I was pretty darn proud. It was so lustrous and ridiculous. I'm crafting a little something out of a bunch of that second-hand fur in the vein of this costume.
I think we found a new favorite photo spot, too.

How was your weekend?

And scary creatures, or butterflies and rainbows only?


  1. I am so thankful that my children love dressing up for costume events. I am proud of them even, especially of my son, whose peers are quickly becoming too cool to dress up. It is so much fun trying to bring life to their ideas of masquerade. I've often thought that if I were good enough I'd love to make costumes as part of my everyday existence. What happens to kids that suddenly feel it is too juvenile to pretend to be something else for a moment? Is it rebellion? I feel sorry for them that they cannot see the fun in it. Your photos are great, I like the colours in your costume. I do like earthy warm colours;and you suit them! But we like, what we like, right. I know a parent who won't let her kids trick or treat because she believes that by being around kids dressed up in costumes that mimic spirits (ie. ghosts )- we are invoking the devil and inviting it into our lives. She isn't really very fun.

  2. This seriously looks like the most fun. Did your husband make that mask? If so he is very very talented with woodworking!

    I wish we had something like this because I think I am the only person my age who likes to dress up. I still get to don costumes for ballet but they are pretty generic tutus; princess, spanish lady, peasant girl, etc. I still dress up for Halloween and relish putting together the costume myself.

    As for parents...there are always the over protective ones! Like Teeny there were some in my neighborhood who wouldn't let their kids dress up because they thought it was devil worship; sad! On the other hand there was also that masked dad who ran around with a chainsaw running to scare us trick or treaters. That was slightly dangerous.

  3. it very much bothers me when (often good intentioned but still..) parents try to protect their kids from all the scary creepy icky creatures and such. I think that 99% of those kids that are terrified of monster, snakes, spiders are of that feeling because they have been conditioned to feel so by their parents who were conditioned by their parents etc... My kids love all that goth stuff (the apple doesn't fall from the tree!) and I've always been excited and like "oooh, isn't that interesting and cool" instead of "oooh, that monster is sooo scary...". I think it's a disservice to encourage that fear of the unknown, different. On Halloween we get super decked out w lots of fake blood and the mom's in our hood are like "oooh, you're all scary!!" shielding their little ballerinas and princesses and robots from viewing our gruesomeness and I say "yeah! isn't it fun! It's HALLOWEEN!!"you guys look stunning btw!! xo m

  4. bear and fox take the forest by storm! LOVE LOVE LOVE the kissing photo, you two are the raddest. simply put.

    lucy's favorite thing is to get a bit scared. that's what makes her laugh loudest and take the most delight, whether it's being surprised by a BOO! or thrown up into the air, or the weird mardi gras mask in my room that she is utterly compelled to stare at. the problem with not allowing children to be a little scared is well represented by contemporary whitewashing of fairy tales. give me the real stories and myths with all the gory details, they are fuller and richer with meaning. i'm sure hoping that lady wasn't referring to yours or c's masks...??!

    p.s my friend jamie has the most amazing collection of bali masks that come out to play sometimes. and a side note, when i rule this town i am commanding a parade of the species indeed!!! island life continues its procession of inspiration.

  5. Great (and simple) costume - just what I like myself. And the raven rattle sounds amazing!
    When I was wee (well, not even that wee, maybe about 12), I was at a party and an adult put on one of those rubbery goes over your head kind of masks, which was Superman, and it completely freaked me out to the point of hysterical crying. I definitely think pretending to be real things are much more scary than 'scary' masks, although some masks you see from Benin and such places are pretty scary and if I was there when people were wearing them, who knows! I also, to this day am scared of people dressed in full-body animal things (Disney-esque). That really freaks me so pretty good my son has no interest whatsoever in going to Disneyland. My son has never really been a dressing up kind of boy, although he does have a fox mask quite like yours!

  6. both of your costumes are awesome! i love all these pictures especially the last one. my daughter was terrified of masks for several years. of course, i knew exactly why. she had been scared once by her grandpa, who of course wasn't trying to scar her for life but kinda did, who came crawling around the corner with the mask (mr. primrose) on. she has gotten over it but i never thought people shouldn't wear them. moms can get annoying for sure. :)

  7. ALL these photos give me chills! they (and you, both of you) are wonderful. i am entralled by the story of the raven answering c's rattle and the coy pic of you looking out the corner of your eye, and that last one, are pure magic. and you should be proud of that tail! it's a goodun.

    fern is just starting to get into scary stories, and like i've told you, her favorite moomin characters are the hattifattners. she likes scary stories, and being scary, but needs extra reassurance when her brother is chasing her around with a (purple) ghost sheet over his head. most of all, after she's been scary and you feign terror, her voice gets very loving and calm as she says, "don't worry. it's just me". which is what most monsters say, when you turn and face them head on. xo

  8. Maybe it is an American thing? I remember you posting about Finnish folk stories and I found them honestly a little scary. I was quite the timid child, and a little too pragmatic actually. I think the scariest children's story for me was Hansel and Grettel (also of N. European origin?--a connection perhaps?) Ain't nothing like a classically scary old hag of a women, right? Never can trust those scary lone women... ha ha!

    Milla-- I too have REALLY been wanting to get a new camera. If you come up with an inexpensive (or at least not uber expensive) ideas please let me know. Also, I think we have the same camera, and mine takes quite nice close ups actually. Have you tried using the close up setting? The little flower? On that setting I find my camera takes pretty nice close ups (in good light).

  9. these are so sweet! foxes are my favorite. i too have questioned wearing red, but it really is a sunning color sometimes! (just got a little dark red shift dress of my own).

  10. I LOVE the masks! And what fabulous pictures! You guys look so amazing. Procession of the Species is one of my favorite traditions for sure.

    I think we do our kids a disservice if we never let them experience the eerie delights of masks, scary stories, old-school fairy tales...I think we end up with a world that's much scarier in the end, if our kids grow up without an understanding of the shadow side of things...

    1. "Shadow side of things"-is a lovely expression. Kind of what I was trying to find when I was writing.

  11. Ahhhh! You guys are the best. Just the best and coolest people!

    I think I love the red dress so much too because the contrast of it in the neutral subdued woods is just so amazing. Even though you are wearing a fox mask, there is something so Little Red Riding Hood about it all. Just love it.

    And as for the mom who gets upset about other people wearing scary masks (first of all, his mask is not all that scary, in my humble opinion), I say, get real! I couldn't agree with you more that being scared and sorting out what's real and what's not is just a part of growing up. My Milo has always been fascinated with the macabre and anything to do with skeletons and the human body. What he finds fascinating most kids would run away from screaming! But I have this very clear memory of my mom dressing up extra scary on Halloween night when I was a teenager. She was sitting on the front porch in a bizarre mask and cloak (the mask was just a person's face, neither smiling nor frowning) and one of the neighbors brought her children up to ask for candy. One of the little girls ran away screaming and crying, and the neighbor, instead of saying, "Oh, she must have found your mask frightening! It is a great costume, though" said "THANKS for the nightmares." and basically never talked to us again! Ha! I'll never understand it. I think it's not my job as a parent to never let my kids see scary stuff. It's my job to explain and reassure, and help my kids sort out what's real and what's make believe.

    Great post, Milla!