Monday, 1 November 2021

Halloween Month


Jack'o'lantern mini pies


Halloween altar


Bleeding cupcakes


Selfmade Halloween dress


Bat pancakes


Halloween Tree



Witches Finger Cookies


Vintage Halloween inspired decor


Pana vegan white chocolate screaming faces with a chocolate/ candy mold


Spooky Cat mini pies


Selfmade Halloween dress


Spiderweb brownies


Pumpkin and spice cupcakes


Halloween costumes

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Six Autumn Faerie Tales

1. Thorn Jack by Katherine Harbour

Night and Nothing #1

The first in the criminally underrated Night and Nothing trilogy. Thorn Jack is my favourite book of all time, with lush, spooky haunted houses and wicked dark Fae who throw the kind of parties you would happily die to attend.

2. The Autumn Castle by Kim Wilkins

This was my favourite novel until Thorn Jack just managed to supersede it. In Autumn Berlin, a chronically injured girl meets a childhood friend stolen by Faeries. They do not know there is danger in the form of a man who kills faeries to build a macabre statue of their bones. Full of magic, horror and human secrets, this is a must-read.

3. Roses and Rot

Another of my all time favourite books. Two abused sisters attend a mysterious performing arts college run by the Fae. What will they give to achieve their dreams? A heartfelt novel about family, and the importance of creative arts as self-expression.

4. The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

A changeling raised by humans must decide what side to take after his girlfriend's little sister is taken by Faeries. The perspective of a Fae creature trying to live a human life while dealing with his Faery nature is very interesting.

5. Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater

Books of Faerie #2

This one is actually a sequel so I would recommend reading Lament first. The first book was from the point of view of a girl who discovers she is a cloverhand- someone who can see Faeries, and is caught up in a romance with a Faery assassin. The second book is from the point of view with her friend who becomes wrapped up in a relationship with a faery at a mysterious performing arts school, while dealing with his unrequited love for his friend.

6. Faerie Tale by Raymond E Feist

When a family moves to New York State to a farm that is unfortunately overrun with faeries, a father must risk all to save his family from the malicious Fae that surround them. It has a bit of a Stephen King-but-with-Faeries vibe.

Extra Book: The Accident Season by Moira Fowley- Doyle

A moody tale about strange events and family curses. No Fae in this one, but definitely a good Autumn read. Every October, a family suffers from multiple accidents and bad luck. When looking for a missing friend, one of the girls discovers a family secret.

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Sweet Revenge

This short story was inspired by the recent article about a missing gravestone that was found being used as a slab to make fudge on in someone's kitchen. Characters are my own and bear no resemblance to anyone living or dead. No disrespect is intended. 

For as long as anyone could remember, Granny Crux and Granny Waller had lived next to each other. And for as long as anyone could remember, they had been feuding.

Granny Crux was tall and thin as a bean pole, with a long, hooked nose like a olden days witch. Her clothes were a many times mended patchwork, so that no one could see what the original looked like.

Granny Waller was short and plump, with pink cheeks like a child. She still had all her teeth and the sweetest smile. She always wore a big starched apron that nearly engulfed her in its folds.

Granny Crux was a baker. She made cakes and pies and tarts that were so good, people flocked from miles around to eat them. People would even walk for miles along the dirt road to get a taste of her cooking.

Granny Waller’s talent was the same, but she was a confectioner. Fudge, taffy, Brighton Rock, you name it, she could make it. The children came from far and wide for her free samples, and she always greeted you with a smile sweeter than sugar.

In their youth, it was rumoured, Granny Crux had stolen Granny Waller’s sweetheart. Of course, they had first names back then, but no one remembered anymore. Now they were both just Granny.

Granny Waller found another young man. Both the ladies married, had children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. They were both widowed and now lived alone, but for their many daily customers.

Every day, when the baking was done, if there was any lull between customers, they would take the time to fling open their kitchen windows and yell insults at each other. It was a part of the town life, and people would sometimes stand on the sidewalk and watch the two old ladies going at it like hammer and tongs. People would munch their pies and cakes, or suck on their sweets and watch. Sometimes they would join in, supporting their favourite. It seemed like this would go on forever.

Of course, all things come to an end. One day, when the customers came to Granny Crux’s house, the door was locked, the windows shuttered. Fearing an accident, they broke down the door. Granny Crux lay peacefully in bed. She had died in her sleep.

People came from miles around for her funeral. A collection was taken to buy a marble tombstone, a beautiful pink marble flecked with black. People brought their own, inferior cakes and left them by her gravestone as a symbol of respect and love.

After some time, however, people stopped making the pilgrimage to her grave. Some went to Granny Waller for their treats instead, but others remained loyal to their side of the feud, and went to the new bakery a town over, although the young baker there was no patch on Granny Crux. So it was that no one noticed Granny Crux’s tombstone was gone.

Granny Waller was said to have an extra spring in her step once her rival had gone. She named a fudge in honour of her long-time enemy and continued in her business for another forty years. She was estimated to be a hundred and twenty years old when she, too, passed. Right in the middle of making a new batch of fudge.

When she died, the people came from all around to pay their respects. Filing into the house, where she was laid out in state, they commented on their memories of the old ladies and their feud. All of Granny Waller’s children, grand-children, great grand-children and great-great-grandchildren were there.

The children were running a little amok, as children did. They didn’t understand the solemnity of the situation. There was a huge crash from the kitchen and everyone that could crowded into the doorway. A child had leapt out of the way just in time to avoid being crushed by the huge marble slab granny Waller made her confectionary on.

The parents ran at once to comfort their child, but everyone else was staring at the marble slab.  A pink marble slab flecked with black. Now laying the other way up to reveal the inscription: GRANNY CRUX.

It seemed Granny Waller really did have the last laugh.

Granny Crux’s tombstone was returned to its place, and Granny Waller was buried next to Granny Crux. People say that on a warm summer night, you can still hear their voices, bickering away.

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Yasmin's Tea Duel

I realised that I never made a post about the Tea Duel I attended last year.

The event was organised by my friend Yasmin who acted as Tiffin Mistress. It was 7th of March 2020 (pre-Corona in Australia). 

Tea duelling is a popular Steampunk game. A simple version of the rules is that duellists dip their biscuits in tea and hold them up. The last biscuit to crumble wins.

The event was held at Vintage on Melbourne in Newcastle, a very cute and quirky café filled with charming antiques. There were prizes for duellists and for the best costume.

It was a wonderful day and I hope to be able to do this sort of thing again once it is safe!

The lovely Yasmin

Me with our friend Mardo

Mardo

Caroline and James have a Steampunk serial you can read here





The winners






Saturday, 7 August 2021

Spring Awakening

I am really feeling the warmer weather (at least during the day) and soft breezes here in Australia. 

Here is a poem from 2011 that captures my spring feelings.


 Persephone,

Spring is here.

Awaken from your long sleep.

Throw off your blanket of cobwebs.

Flowers rise through the earth

To the world above,

It is time for you to do the same.


Persephone,

Rub your cold hands and feet back to life.

Rub the sleep from your eyes.

Put on your dress woven all of bright flowers

And your shoes of birch bark.


Persephone,

Kiss your dark lover goodbye.

Remind him how to keep house while you are gone

Up in the bright world above where he dares not venture.

Pin a list on the wall- he always forgets.

You'll see him again when winter freezes the earth.


Persephone,

You know you don't belong in these dim halls.

You do not walk with the silent footsteps of the dead,

But with the sounds of flutes and drums.


Persephone,

Love cannot be a stone about your neck. 

You were born to freedom.

Walk the bright fields and sun dappled forests,

Live under the vastness of the sky.


Persephone,

Let the rain bathe you and the wind dry you.

The trees are your walls, the sky your roof

The meadows are your bed.


And only when the leaves again begin the fall

And the chill sets into the earth...


Only then lock yourself away

With fire and lover.

While the wind howls outside

Like a cry of despair. 


(c)opyright Laura Morrigan 2011

Saturday, 17 July 2021

I'm The Kind of Faery

 I'm the kind of faery

That turns your milk sour

And steals your bread

And tangles your hair while you lie asleep at night


I coax the weeds to grow in your garden

I like them more than your neat and controlled

Rows of flowers and vegetables


I don't like things that have an order

And a purpose


I peel the paint

And crack the plaster in your walls

To let the damp in


I like untidiness

Wildness

Disorder


When the shelf crashes down in the night

And the plates all crack

That's me


When you only have odd socks

I've taken the other halves of every pair

I'm probably wearing them

Dancing in the dewdrops somewhere

One spotted sock

One striped


But what if you let go

Of this obsessive need for order?


Use the mismatched crockery

Come dance in the dew in your mismatched socks


Let the damp in 

And a rich carpet of moss grow on your roof


And maybe flowers and vines

Will grow out of the floor

Making your own jungle garden


And you'll dance

Dance

A wild dance

In the garden of your own creation

In the freedom of your oddness



(c)opyright Laura Morrigan, 2011- 2021

Monday, 28 June 2021

Silent Songs


Content Warning: murder


My head pounds, my stomach growls, my fingers bleed. I cannot stop playing. The same song, over and over. The same silent song. My eyes are stinging, my tears dried up days ago. I have had no food or water for at least a week;  I should be dead by now, but it wants me to go on. Wants me to keep playing. I don’t know if it will ever let me die. My body is not my own.

It is perhaps a unique torture that my mind is still free, that I can drift back in time to when we first came here. How unhappy I was then, unaware of how much worse things could still get.

*

I remember when I first saw the house, solid and imposing despite its ramshackle condition. An old manor house, with peeling paint and boards on the windows. My mother’s face was white and stiff, holding back the anger that had been simmering for days now. My father was trying to make this seem like a big adventure. My younger sisters actually thought it was. They were laughing, running and hiding behind trees in the large grounds. They didn’t understand that we were in exile for our father’s sins. They didn’t half hate him like mother and I did.

I thought wistfully of our house in the city. It was much smaller but it was bright and new. I had my own room and piano lessons every week after school. We had a dog, Sunshine, who had been given to a neighbour last week, since father said we couldn’t afford another mouth to feed. I wished we could have left father behind instead, this was all his fault!

Inside the house was worse than the outside. It was filled with dust, broken furniture, unidentifiable animal droppings. The place was a shambles, walls half knocked down then left to moulder. The smell of mould tickled the back of my throat. In one room, we found a stained old mattress. Father said that my sisters and I would be sleeping here. I wondered if someone had died on that mattress.

Mother put a fresh sheet over it, smiling in a brittle way, holding back her anger. I pretended I didn’t notice that father was sleeping in the car and mother on an old upholstered sofa that had also been left behind.

The next morning, mother made breakfast. At least the eggs and bacon were familiar, even if they were cooked on a camp stove in the dilapidated kitchen. Mother sipped black coffee and didn’t talk, while father tried to be cheery.

After breakfast we were sent outside to play. My sisters ran off between the trees, but I lingered near the house, listening to the sound of raised voices. As I wandered around the outside of the house, I saw a small door in the brick. I tried the handle, expecting it to be locked, but it swung open easily. Inside was a dark corridor. I might have hesitated a minute at the thought of something happening to me alone down there, then I thought that it would serve my parents right, and I moved forward into the darkness.

My fingers scraped the brick walls as I moved slowly through the darkness. As I followed the tunnel, I saw a light up ahead. The tunnel opened up into a large room, lit by flickering candles. There were hundreds of them,  on the floor and on top of the piano that sat in one corner of the room, dripping wax onto the wood. Had my father set this room up for me to find, lit the candles? Was the piano his apology to me? I moved forward, stroking the smooth polished surface of the piano with my fingers. The one thing that had kept me happy through my parents fighting was my weekly piano lessons. And now, here was a piano for me!

I sat down on the stool. The lid was already open, revealing yellowed ivory keys. There was sheet music sitting on the stand, handwritten in a spidery scrawl. The ink was brownish and faded.  The first sheet was titled, Love.

It had been some time since I played, but my fingers knew what they were doing. They danced over the keys like they had an intelligence of their own. I waited for the rich notes to flow from the piano, but nothing came. I played through the entire piece. I could hear the notes in my head, like I could always hear music when I read the notations. But all around me in that room was silence, thick and oppressive. The keys thudded dully as I pressed them.

When the song came to an end, I got up, I opened the lid of the piano and looked inside. There were no strings, only cobwebs and mildew. I shook my head, disappointed. Once again, father had failed me. Why had I expected any better from him?

When I went inside the house, something was different. I could feel it in the air. I came into the old ballroom, now a shambles, and my parents were dancing. They hadn’t done that in years. There wasn’t even any music, but my father was whirling my mother around and she was laughing. Their feet stirred up the dust and motes danced in the air around them. They were happy, in love like they hadn’t been since the twins were babies.

I wanted to go to them, but I could tell that this moment was all their own, as I watched, father took mother’s face in his hands and kissed her so passionately I blushed just watching. Then he swept her up in his arms and threw her on the sofa. A cloud of dust blew up and they laughed through their coughing. They were ripping at each others clothes, and I didn’t stay to see the rest.

After that, we played happy families for a while. Mother and father were fixing up the house, laughing as they got covered in dust and plaster. If I’d known what I know now, I would have treasured it more. Our last happy days.

I was busy helping mother and father with the house, carting out the old broken furniture and junk we found in the many rooms. I was wary of their cheery mood, knowing it would not last. I avoided them whenever possible. I was grumpy and  ungrateful. I could not stand seeing them like this, knowing it had to end. Sooner or later, they would have another fight.

It was three days until I escaped them, making my way outside as they splashed whitewash on each other, and sneaking through the door under the house. My fingers ached to play the strange, silent piano. The sheaf of music was open to the second piece of music, Distrust, and when my fingers touched the keys, it felt like this was meant to be. The piano and I were one. Once again, the room was thick with silence, although I could hear the notes in my head as they would have played, a sorrowful tune.

When I finished playing, my fingers hurt. I must have been out of practice. I sighed, and went back to the main house. When I came inside, the first thing I heard was the sound of crying. It seemed everything was back to normal.

Over the next few days, mother was constantly accusing father of things, sneaking away to gamble again, pawning her jewellery, which seemed to be missing. Even the twins were arguing constantly, I guess they had picked up on our parents bad moods. Father even accused mother of flirting with a man who came to deliver the timber. He was old enough to be our grandfather!

Desperate to get away from it all, I found myself sneaking back to the hidden room and its silent piano. I played through several songs, Jealousy, Avarice, Rage and Betrayal. Every time, my fingers ached more, now they were hurting all the time. I should have told my parents, but they were always fighting, yelling now, even coming to blows. Only under the house was there silence. It called to me. I was going to the room below the house in my dreams. I was not surprised when I woke up in the middle of the night to find myself there, sitting  on the piano stool, fingers touching the keys.

When I looked at the song in front of me at the piano, I felt a sliver of cold in my chest. The title was Murder. I knew that, whatever else I did, I should not play that song. I knew that I should go. I tried to pull my fingers from the keys, but they were stuck fast. I pulled my whole body away from the piano, but my hands remained on the keys, as if glued there. I found myself sitting back down on the stool, my feet settling on the pedals. My fingers danced over the keys, I had no control over them. And the pain, oh the pain! As I played, I felt bones in my fingers snapping. I howled in pain, but my voice could not break through the deafening silence. Finally, the song reached a crescendo. I pulled my mangled hands from the piano keys. Slowly, I made my way back into the house to see what my playing had wrought.

I found my father on the ground floor, in a pool of his own blood. My siblings were in their bed, tucked in, blood leaking across the sheets. Mother sat by the windows, her arms gloved in blood. She turned her eyes on me, dark and empty.  “I had to do it, they’d have betrayed me in the end, just like him!”

I did not blame her. I knew it was not her actions, but the work of the piano. It had forced my family to play out its stories: Love, Jealousy, Avarice, Rage, Betrayal and Murder. And I had been its accomplice!

I left my mother there. She was already gone, nothing but a shell. I took the axe from the block outside, and headed beneath the house one last time. I thought I was there to wreck the piano. I thought I really could just take the axe and demolish the thing that destroyed my family. What a fool I was.

Once I was inside the room once more, the axe dropped from my hand and I found myself sitting down at the piano. There was one piece left, but it was an endlessly looping piece. It repeated on into infinity. I felt the broken bones in my fingers shift as they hit the keys, but there was nothing I could do. The piece was called Eternity. I was alone with the monstrous piano forever, a captive.

I heard them, then, the voices of all its past victims, screaming inside my head. A warning silenced until it was too late.

The house sits empty now, awaiting its next victim, while underneath, I play on. I play my dreadful silent song.





(c)opyright Laura Morrigan, 2021