Hello and Welcome

Hunting in the deep dark woods and further creative ventures


Medical Dictionary

Woo hoo! Today I received something amazing in the mail!


This, is an 1848 medical dictionary. I found it on Etsy for $25. Insane, right? Nothing pre-Civil War is sold for that little. I snapped it up, because of several reasons. For one, it's a wonderfully aged leather bound book, and it's a medical dictionary. It's also going to look great in a project I'll be doing in a month or so. And in general... You can't go wrong with scoring big on things that encapsulate your passions. 

I am one happy girl. It's going to look beautiful next to my doctor's bag when I have the proper shelves to display them on (while also having ready access to their wondrous medical secrets).



'Shoes' by Tiga. One of my favourite upbeat techno-ish but not-quite songs, and what I think of when looking at fancy heels.

Let me take a minute to be mildly shallow. I want to talk about... The shoes I bought for over 50% off! They're flashy and make me... about 5" taller. 

Practical? Not in the least. Am I going to go anywhere alone while wearing these bad boys? Definitely not. However, I finally have cool shoes to go to fancy restaurants and gallery openings in. I know it's still winter, but the friends I go to said venues with are gentlemen and would give me a hand. Which, I'll probably need when wearing 5" heels. I do really like these shoes, though, and they were so inexpensive. Shopping on sale at Aldo is one of the best things ever. Aldo has great shoes, and as far as shoes go, their regular prices are pretty decent for the quality they offer. Needless to say, buying shoes that were 40% off, and then another 30% was taken off from the sale price... Not too shabby. I'll need to get my hands on some heels that are a little easier to walk in, but these leopard print, hair-textured killers are just so cool. 

Fun fact: I'm currently wearing them while wearing black and pink leopard print flannel pajama bottoms. I haven't gotten dressed yet, but I am breaking in heels. And rocking a lot of leopard.

I'd just like to think that these photographs epitomize the kind of person I'll be someday. Weird taxidermy and entire outfits made of leopard print.

Including shoes.

Yeah, I'll be one of those old ladies. Fabulous and a half.



On Facebook, a "friend" posted a question, which bothered me because of the implications put forth by the phrasing. 
     "So who can tell me why a reflection is reversed horizontally, but not vertically? (Without using the internet.) Try not to hurt yourself."

I'm somewhat pleased with the fact that I can dissect the implications of this, but less pleased with the fact that it makes me upset enough to find quotes by well-known thinkers, and then go on a thinking rampage. On one hand, great that I can think and research, and consider things, and that in itself is a greater form of knowledge. However, on the other hand, I feel angry that I feel like defending my intelligence because I can't answer a basic physics question.

Let us consider the world at this moment. There is a greater push towards creative, right-brain thinkers, but it is still profoundly insistent that left-brained thinkers are the greater thinkers, and that without those skills, your level of intelligence cannot be valued. Based on that, we can consider the question of reflections. The addition of 'Try not to hurt yourself' is insulting, as it assumes that it is terribly difficult and painful to recall answers presented in high school. I will admit that I do not know the answer. I do not recall simple physics problems presented in Physics 30, as that was about 3 years ago, and a wealth of knowledge, skills, and experience have since entered into my life. Can I explain other things, and answer difficult questions? Yes. So could anyone else who would not have interest in holding onto that information. We live in a world full of people with varying skills, knowledges, intelligence levels, and all of these people come together to form the world we know. Suffice to say, people in fields like physics shouldn't look down their noses at other people, or be disgustingly prissy when presenting something that everyone learned in high school (especially since it is a test of memory, and asking someone to remember something with an air of ridicule and judgement is extremely impolite). 

That being said, this problem raised a few curiosities and questions. I know that Albert Einstein, as well as many other thinkers, have said profound things about intelligence, and what it means to be intelligent. I read several fine quotes, such as...

"The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination" -Albert Einstein
"Information is not knowledge" -Albert Einstein
"Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change" -Stephen Hawking
"Common sense is not common" -Voltaire
"Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance" -Confucius
"Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as think" -Ralph Waldo Emerson

After reading wonderful words and thoughts like these, I considered a few things (side note: I just had the most tremendous sense of deja vu). First, I considered Albert Einstein. Reading his quotes, I'm led to believe that he's not brilliant because he's intelligent. It seems to draw more from his honesty and the fact that he knew what it means to be intelligent, and that intelligence is nothing without other contributing factors. Obviously, the man was incredibly intelligent. Like Stephen Hawking, he is considered to be one of the world's geniuses because he figured out hugely influential physics and math problems. I won't argue that these men are not amazing, but they are amazing for reasons beyond their mathematical and logic capabilities. Both are honest and virtuous fighters, who worked hard and think about everything. In their thoughts on what it means to be intelligent, it is grounded in the idea that intelligence is meaningless unless you have ambition, can adapt, have imagination and an ability to think, and so on.

Brilliant? I think so. Personally, I would much rather be able to adapt than be able to remember small things. Regardless, though, no one should ever think that they are stupid, or worth less because they can't answer a skill testing math question. Everyone thinks differently, and everyone learns differently. This is an amazing thing. After all, if we all learned and thought the same way, so many problems would go unsolved.


Old West and Ghosts

The above image is a fairly nondescript detail of a mortician-inspired/influenced coat I'm working on. Ultimately,  it is a self-portrait, and a self-exploration. I'm at this point in my life where I'm almost done one part, and ready to move onto the next. This next while of art school is probably going to be entirely about that, especially since I'm mentally and emotionally preparing myself for attempting to go into embalming. That is what this coat is about. It's a combination of stereotypical doctor's lab coats, with a heavy 19th century influence. It's also structured like a comfortable, loose-fitting cardigan. Believe it or not, there is a reason for that. That's just what happens when you feel most calm and most at home around the deceased. 

At the moment, I'm embroidering all these different things into the wool cloth (before I make the lining and sew it all together. I really need to jump into gear). Down the spine and the front (the centre, I guess, in a way), will be all of these different experiences, cultures, ideas, and so on, that have shaped my mind to believe that it is important, and that embalming is something I want to do. I won't thoroughly explain everything, but so far (it is a work in progress- I'm taking a break from stitching black-on-black), there are the words and names: 
   Mildred + Jacob, Chinchorro, Egyptian.

There is a lot more to be added. I never realized it until embroidering it, just how many things truly have moulded and shaped me to be this person. It's bizarre. Books I've read, being taken on a tour of a funeral home when I was 11 or 12, cemeteries I've visited, cultures I've studied. 

I don't know what it says about me that it puts me into my element. It's not a morbid fascination or an obsession with death, but rather a frame of mind that puts everything into absolute clarity. Every day that I am on my usual bus, the route goes back a funeral home. That momentary stop allows me to think. On days when there is a family dressed in black, walking solemnly towards the doors, I mourn for them, but I feel blessed to be alive, and know that everyone I love is alive. Above all, I hope that the dead are in a better place, or at least a place where they are happy. Regardless, the body returns to the earth, and it continues yet another cycle of life that will eventually affect another person. 

I'm kind of rambling, and I'm not even sure what I'm really talking about. At this moment, I feel both shaken and at ease. I mostly feel shaken because I'm still coming to terms with how people react when the subject comes up that I want to be an embalmer. I don't want to remind people of their own mortality or have sad memories be drudged up... but it is important to me. Death happens... but at least we can pay respect and give proper dignity to those who have passed on. It's like a parting gift to that person who is no longer there. It is a true sign of humanity. My thoughts, at least...

I feel at ease because I realized a few things. I was listening to Corb Lund (Alberta country singer-songwriter  who is one of my musical heroes. I was pushed to listen to him today when I learned that he curated an exhibit for the Glenbow Museum... I'll be going to that on Saturday. I can't wait! ...I digress.), and suddenly I was in my element. I was thinking about the Old West, and how every time I am reminded of it, I feel like my soul is where it should be. I think when I went to Bannack in the summer, my heart stayed there, wandering the empty rooms. Maybe in a past life I was in the Old West, and that's where I still am. Maybe in that past life, I was a mortician and embalmer, out in the wilds of the West. I don't know whether or not I believe in past lives, but there must be a reason why listening to truly Western music about cavalries and horse soldiers while thinking about a life as an embalmer makes me feel so at home.


Prolific Mice and Pasta Sauce

Okay, these two subjects are quite unrelated. However...

One. Pasta.
I made a fantastic white sauce. Basic white sauce, mixed with some feta and parmesan, with a dash of hemp seeds and herb/spice mixture. Result? I wish I made more.

In other news, I left for school, and when I returned around 6 o'clock, my mice looked like this:

Apparently this was a well-deserved nap. They had moved all of their nesting material and a lot of their bedding onto their loft space. ALL OF IT. Now, they had teamwork, but nonetheless.... They were busy. Even after preparing my loom all day, and writing an essay, they make me feel lazy. But then again, I could totally climb walls while carrying building material in my mouth. Y'know. If I wanted to.

Comfy? I think so.


The Mice

Yes, I'm posting about my mice again. They're just so neat! Look to the left to see Whiskey climbing the cage, after realizing where water can come from. Look to the right to see all three of my lovely girls, whipping around, running, and being mice! 

Today, I don't know why, but Winchester (my black mouse) was going completely psycho. It was like she was hyper or something. She would whip around, jump around, run on the wheel, spin around, and then dash around. I was kind of worried because it was kind of unlike her.

HOWEVER, then I started singing 'Home' by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. That caught her attention, so she started calming down. After a while, she was settling back into their nest with the other two. I gave her a piece of raw silk, and with that, she was calm.

Indie music and quality fabrics. I have taught my mice well. For some reason, my mice seem to like indie and folk music. At least, if I sing to them. Maybe they just like song singing. It just so happens that the songs I choose are indie and folk. Sometimes hymn based songs (I sing a lot of the songs off of the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack).

Today I almost got them to crawl into my hand. I put some plain unsalted crackers into my hand, and they took them out. Whiskey wanted to eat my finger. She kind of bit me, but it was more gumming (she didn't use her teeth, but she was definitely testing the waters. I'm just glad that she didn't actually bite me. I think she learned that I'm not food, though. So that's good). 

It might seem like I post about my mice a lot. That might be true. I just really like them.


Good find!

Today I had a great day out with a friend of mine. We had coffee/hot chocolate at my favourite coffee shop (well, favourite one downtown- Caffe Rosso), and then went to almost all of the cool parts of the city. We checked out some really cool high end clothing stores (one of which carries Alexander McQueen clothing), as both of us are quite fond of expensive, well-made, and beautiful fashion. He and I drooled over some $700 vests and a really cool $300 (about) jacket (which was half price. If I had $125... I tell you). I really like men's clothing, and have realized that I prefer to look at men's clothing. It's nice and fashionable without being as in your face as women's clothing often is. 

We also went to some second stores. And man, I found some cool things.

Yes, the one to the left says 'Engineeeing'. As in 'engineering' spelt wrong. It's a men's shirt that I got second hand from Divine on 17th. It also has the name 'Rocco'. I'm intrigued as to the story behind it. Goodness, I could write a million stories about the potential histories of all the strange objects I have in my possession. Maybe I should...

To the right, are the perfect pair of boots. I've been wanting to replace my cheap man-made-materials $30 boots, since they aren't super great. While in a store called 'Used' on 17th Avenue (a store I really like), I was looking at their boots, and my friend pointed out these sweet duds. He kind of wishes that they fit him, but they fit me like a dream. They're used, broken in, comfortable, and the exact boots I had in my mind. Yesterday I was looking at boots (on sale) at Aldo, since I like their shoes and boots. However, I didn't really want to pay $120 or more for a pair of boots that I'm not head over heels (ha) in love with. Even if they would last a long time. I like looser fit at the calves, with a look that says spurs and 19th century Old West cowboy. Ergo... These boots! They smell kind of gross, so I'm trying to de-stink them using essential oils. Still... worth it. For the perfect boots... for $54... I am willing to wait to get them less stinking. They're just so great! And will go perfectly with my steampunk character. Hilariously, they're almost identical to the cheap boots I have... Only these ones are the legit.


New addition

Well... I did it. I got mice. They're so unbelievably cute and they're fantastically clever. I ended up getting three, and they seem to be happy with that. By 'they', I mean my mice- Gin, Whiskey, and Winchester (old West influence, much?). Pictured in the photo are Gin and Winchester.

After taking care of some important business, I went to PetSmart to buy their home and supplies. PetSmart is a great facility. It has a huge selection, and things that I've never seen at other pet stores. Between buying a cage (which included dish, second floor to cage, water bottle, and wheel), bedding, food, some gnawing treats, and nesting material, it wasn't nearly as expensive as I thought it'd be, and I was able to buy things that are a bit more natural. There's this great bedding for small pets that is made from recycled paper. It's kind of like the newspaper kitty litter, where it's biodegradable, has odour control, and is all around better. It's also better for mice, as you shouldn't use wood shavings (the oils and dust aren't good for tiny mouse lungs).  My mice seem pretty happy with it. Gin (who is white, also referred to as Ginny) has this thing for carrying it in her mouth and pushing it away, into piles, uncovering the ground below. I'm also advocating the bedding because it seemed to provide them with some comfort on the trip home. 

PetSmart also had a couple types of cotton for nesting. I bought these 100% cotton pads that mice can chew and shred to make nests and beds. Winchester (Winnie) is quite fond of it. The things they have for small animals these days... I tell you! There are even interlocking play houses you can get for mice and dwarf hamsters, that you can change. I'm thinking about getting some, so that I can change up their home and keep them interested and happy. One thing I did get was this thing made of twigs where the twigs are connected by bendable wire. You can bend it about to make bridges or hutches or what-have-you. I made it into a little den, and Whiskey adores it. Every time she eats, she grabs food from the dish, makes a mad dash for the den, and then you can hear a faint nibbling sound.

And oh my goodness. My mice like corn! The food mix I got is a mix of everything good for mice and rats, and the first thing that the three of them ate or hid immediately was any and all of the corn pieces. Now that it's gone or hidden they're eating the other food (GOOD), but I think it's really funny. Tomorrow I'm going to try giving them little bits of fresh food. Mostly to see what they like, and to see if I can earn their trust. Shockingly, if someone grabs you by the tail, puts you in a box with only two of your friends and family, and then moves you to a mysterious place, you don't trust them as much as that person would like. They're doing pretty well, though. I bought the mice from Pet Cetera (which I find I don't like as much as PetSmart... Sorry), and I think that it's assumed that you're going to be using mice as live food for snakes. I went in assuming that I'd have to buy a carrier case, so I took a towel to wrap a carrier in (as it is winter and it was brisk), and some of the bedding from their new home. Apparently, though, it's normal to shove some mice in a cardboard box without any real breathing holes. Needless to say, I assembled the carrier case, put the bedding in, and put the mice into the carrier. The cardboard box was already quite a mess because of their stress levels, but I'm happy to say that they were adventuring and cuddling and sleeping in the carrier case, and as soon as I put them into their home in my apartment, they were adventuring and eating and overall quite happy. I'd say that it's all off to a good start. 

Now that they're settling in, I'm really glad that I decided to get mice. They're so clever, and watching them solve problems is fascinating. They're also shockingly agile (Whiskey has a great skill for scaling the wire bars on the cage, and getting to the second floor loft spot that way. There is a ladder/ramp leading to it, but apparently climbing a wall is more fun). It's just so amazing and curious to watch them. And they're just so cute. I was worried about stressing them out, but they're adapting so well. Their eyes are bright, they're exercising and doing all kinds of little things, so I think they're content. 

Any ways, I think that that's a sufficient amount of gushing over my little mice friends, and now I should go to sleep. Currently they're really active, because my room is darker, so this should be a fun night. Fortunately the wheel is relatively quiet.




Okay, so today two things happened.

One, I accepted a job that I was offered, and I'm super excited. Two, I asked my room mate if I could get mice, and she said yes.

These two things play into each other. The job means that I can care for two extra tiny mouths, and I'll have a more strict schedule because I'll be either at school or work 6 or 7 days of the week (hopefully six... I asked that I only work 3 days because I'm a student). Both factors mean that I will be able to care for little pets. This is important because I'm a firm believer that you shouldn't have pets if you're not going to care for them or be around. Even if they're ones that don't need a lot of human contact. 

I've been wanting pet mice for a while. Actually, what I'd really like is a pet rat or two, but they're illegal/banned in Alberta, which means that a cuddly intelligent rat companion isn't an option. Instead, I move to the next choice in the rodentia family. I thought about gerbils, but they're not quite my thing. I know what a lot of people would think in terms of having mice as pets. Mice are smelly, dirty, so on. Actually, they're not. I would be getting two or three female mice. Females do not have smelly urine because they don't need to mark their territory, and I read that wood shavings are not an ideal option for mice because of the dust. Females also seem easier to care for because they are social creatures, and as long as they're in numbers, they're fine. 

And yeah. I asked my room mate. She said yes, just no males. Fair enough, and my thoughts exactly. I was super excited to get this answer, because I've been pining for little companions for ages. I'd prefer to have a dog or a fox, but those definitely aren't options. Now, though, I'm really nervous and undecided. There's just too many things to consider. The idea is kind of stressing me out, mostly because I feel like I'm under a time crunch. I want to have some time to train them and have them get used to me before I start working, and have time to figure out what they like eating and what their temperaments and favourites are. The main reason I'm undecided is because of all of the factors.

One... Their home. I don't want to use wood shavings for bedding, and I don't know what options are. I heard of someone using cloth rags for their rat. I'm also worried about space, whether or not they'll be comfortable in my apartment, what kind of cage would be best... Two, what if I can't take care of them properly, or find out that mice aren't good for me or they get horribly ill as soon as they enter my home...

I'm rambling. On one hand, I really want mice. I think they're so cute and terribly clever. My friend already agreed that he will adopt them from me after he's out of residence, if it happens that I can't care for them. I think I have issues with the idea of responsibility. That's why kids scare me. That's why I have issues with having piercings. Lord, if I can't handle my piercings, can I really take care of small rodents? I mean, sure, I've raised a puppy from 8 weeks old and had loads of experience taking care of all shapes of animals. But small ones? The smallest I've taken care of was a class hamster. It came to my house one weekend. Guess what happened? It rolled down the stairs in its exercise ball and then almost got lost in its basement. Miraculously, we found it and 'Squeaks' hadn't eaten any mouse poison. I almost killed Squeaks. Then again, three or four other people had lost or killed the hamster and had to replace it. I'm practically a hero. And I guess these would be my own mice. And I'm not 11. And I wouldn't put them in an exercise ball to roll off into oblivion.

I'd like to have mice, but now I'm wondering if mice would like being with me.


Send Bronwyn to Quebec

I recently learned that an incredibly talented artist friend of mine was accepted into an artists' residency in a small town in Quebec. This is a fantastic opportunity for her, and I have the greatest hopes for her. The residency is an opportunity to work on a self-portrait series she's been working on, and as it's in Quebec, she needs a little help...

Bronwyn is a truly wonderful human being, and her art is beautiful, inspiring, and she is definitely going places. So... why not help out? And what? She's offering perks for helping her out? You could own a Brownyn Schuster original before she's famous. How great is that?

To contribute (or at least check out her art and what she's all about) click on the link here: Send Bronwyn to Quebec

Medical Christmas

It is quite a while after Christmas, but as per tradition, a good friend of mine and I had our 'second Christmas'. Not actually Christmas, but rather our opportunity to give each other Christmas gifts, since we're never together on the same day (what with celebrating with our own families and such). It's always nice to spend the day together and exchange our proudly chosen gifts for each other, and watch the others' eyes glisten and faces light up. All the while drinking tea, of course.

He constantly surprises me with the things he manages to find for me. One year for my birthday he gave me a fox pelt and a book on antiquity torture devices (16th-18th century eras). I know, I know, these are both really weird things, and few people would get excited over either of these things, little alone a combination of the two. However, as we may or may not have established, I'm an odd person, with an extremely extensive list of interests. Result? People give me dead things and antiques for holidays and birthdays (I love you all!). 

This year, he gave me the following:


What is it? Well. It is a vintage (borderline antique) medical bag, with a nice collection of contents. The bag came from a Canadian doctor, and most of the contents are from the 1950s-60s. The bag looks older, but regardless, I'm thrilled to death to own something like this. However, it is old and from the medical field, so I wash my hands thoroughly after handling it. Safety first! 

Inside the bag are many small instruments and medical tools.
-One glass instrument used for the De Lee method of resuscitating newborns
-One dissecting knife handle (for brain and autopsy blades), with two blades 
-One medical sewing needle
-One surgical clamp
-One pair of surgical scissors
-One syringe
-One needle for a syringe (in original vial with rubber stopper)
-One laryngoscope

The ones that interest me most are the medical sewing needle (I've always had a thing for medical and surgical sewing needles. I constantly have my eye on Civil War era surgical sewing kits), and the glass instrument for newborn resuscitation. The latter is requiring some digging to learn about it, but it's in the original box, and it's a beautifully made glass item. I don't know how to describe it, and I don't have the best set up for photographing glass (and in general I'm not the best at it). STILL. I did some research (not much, but a start) and it looks like the De Lee method came to around between the early 1900s and 1940s. The box looks quite old, and I have my fingers crossed for 20s or 30s. I need to do way more research, because researching uncommon anything is like digging for the Oak Island treasure. Though, you might have a slightly better chance with finding uncommon information, what with the internet. What a tool!

Any ways, I can't express how thankful I am. It's a really inspiring object to have around. That sounds weird. But for me, a person who wants to be an embalmer or an anatomist, and who has always been fascinated with the medical, the macabre, and history, I just like having old things around. And medical antiques? Even better!

Maybe some day soon I'll go through and describe all of my most interesting antiques in full. Most of which I need to research more. Soon...



Today, a friend of mine and I finally tried out a burger joint in Calgary. I can't recall the name, but they make burgers out of several meats, including ostrich. We tried these renowned ostrich burgers. The result was deliciousness. Interesting meat, but overall tasty tasty tasty.