Sunday, August 13, 2017

Flirting With Fear












   Since I began taking blog pictures, “on location,” I’ve noticed a rather disturbing habit of mine.  I seem to be drawn to settings that are rather spooky.  Originally I simply thought of these places as, "gritty."  However, upon further consideration, I now acknowledge that it may not be a wise idea to traipse around town alone in search of cool abandoned settings.  At least that’s what my boyfriend keeps telling me.
   Despite my annoyance at his harping, I have to admit that when I photographed the above pictures I was a tad creeped out.  I’ve been admiring the exterior of this derelict building for quite some time.  Each occasion I drove by I thought, “Man, the color and texture of that wall is good.  I should stop and get some photos.”   However, I could never coerce myself to actually halt my vehicle.  I still don’t understand why.
   Finally, one day I saw a window of opportunity.  I was prepared to drive by, yet again,…(one has to wonder what the neighbors think of the oddball woman in psychedelic garb trolling the area)…when I noticed that there was a mother and two children playing at the usually desolate neighboring park.  I reasoned, “It has to be safe if there are families nearby!  Besides they’re in screaming distance if I need help.  That little girl looks pretty bad ass.  I could toss her that broken bottle lying on the ground over there and we'd have ourselves a fighting chance! ”   
   As a result of this thought process I was able to muster the nerve to stop and photograph the above pictures.  However, I'll admit I was uneasy the entire time.  There was just something about this location that scared me.  I mean, it couldn’t have been due to the fact that it’s in a rather run down area of town.  Nor could it be because it’s on a fairly isolated street that’s proximity is very close to the State Penitentiary.  Again, I really can’t figure out what was giving me the wiggins so bad. 
   Despite the ooky vibe, I took my pictures that sunny day with the sound of children’s laughter in the background.  I felt ridiculous for the fear I had previously felt…until I realized my soundtrack of merriment was gone, and I was suddenly alone in a not so great neighborhood, taking glamour shots in front of an abandoned building that nobody knew I was at.  As I cursed myself for loosing track of my surroundings I wondered, for the second time, if the same car with a crappy muffler was circling the block repeatedly. At this time I snapped the last picture shown above.  When I posted this image earlier on Facebook I had one friend make the comment, “What’s so scary over there?”  While I’m still not certain my choice of setting that day was wise, I am pleased I was able to translate a feeling of narrative through this shot.  I'll state it's definitely one of my favorite self-portraits.  
   In conclusion, I’d like to reassure anyone who is worried about my stupidity that I’m usually extremely careful about my surroundings.   In fact, I’m so careful one could easily claim I’m paranoid.  Did I mention I have an air horn and Mace with me at all times?  Interestingly enough the Mace is designed to double as a nunchuck…because I know exactly how to use one of those.  It was a gift from an ex-boyfriend of mine who apparently was also concerned for my safety.  Come to think of it another old boyfriend gave me a small finger knife…you know, in case I had to stab someone.  Also, who the hell gave me that air horn?  I know I didn’t buy it.  Huh…what does all of this say about me?  Perhaps next time I’ll stick to boring old pictures in front of my barn door.  I don’t suspect I’ll have to nunchuck anyone at home…unless of course, they’re annoying me.
-r.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Patchwork Prima Donna












   It’s probably no surprise that I’ve always dreamed of being an expert seamstress.  Okay, maybe the word, “always,” is stretching it a bit.  To rephrase, it’s probably no surprise that every time I flip through fashion magazines and see clothes I have absolutely no hope of ever owning…due to a serious lack of monetary funds…I wish I was more capable with my sewing machine.  I want to clarify that this last statement doesn’t mean I have no abilities when it comes to sewing.  However, I have to admit that my talents lie in the more, “artsy/craftsy,” realms, rather than professional tailored pieces.  However, I am fortunate enough to have an extremely talented mom that can handle those types of projects for me.  As a side note, I must now brag about the pair of pants my mom just finished making for me.  Let me tell you, "these babies are amazing!"  I simply showed her a picture from, “Vogue,” of what I wanted and she cranked out the most adorable pair of pants I’ve ever owned in my life.  Of course my original intention was to have this big unveiling of them through a blog post, however these pants deserve some pregame hype.  I seriously can’t wait to wear them out on the town!
  “Whew,” okay that was exciting.  Returning to the topic at hand, I find it an unfortunate occurrence that my own mother can design and execute an outstanding piece of clothing and all I can seem to do is put patches on things.  I guess it’s a darn good thing I’m naturally drawn to the Boho trend, otherwise I’d be pretty underwhelmed by the hodge-podge designs I constantly come up with.  The fantastic thing about patchwork is it can be a crazy crapfest of color and design and still look totally intentional.  In addition, the other convenient thing about patchwork is there seems to be no standard of quality.  In fact, the less professional these projects appear the more legitimate their Boho credibility becomes.  In other words, it’s okay for a hippie’s clothes to be trashed.
   The pictures above display an example of some of my sewing handiwork.  I bought these thrift store shorts many years ago and decided to soup them up with a random selection of fabric I had lying around my craft room.  If one was to look closely at these shorts they would notice a lot of ragged edges, crooked stitching, and even some rather shoddy fabric bunching.  However, I would argue the lack of my expertise simply makes these shorts better.  I guarantee my amateur abilities definitely make this piece one of a kind…
   …except, this one trick pony has two more pairs of shorts that are fearfully similar.  In addition, I have several jeans and many coats and blazers I’ve put patches on.  Could it be that I’m that excited about patchwork, or is it simply my sewing skills limit me to this one look.
   Sitting here now, gazing over at my old issues of fashion magazines, I find myself sighing at the idea of all of the illusive clothing I’ll never own.  I daydream about sitting down at my sewing machine and designing my perfect, one of a kind, wardrobe. Suddenly I wonder, "why I can’t have it?"  I grit my teeth and think, “You know what Rayna, you can totally have it!  Now sit down and figure out these freaking instructions!”  I start to cut out my patterns and notice Cheetos have a nasty habit of staining paper.  I pull out my supplies and consider for a moment that the, "wad," method is possibly not the best for storing fabric.  I start to load my bobbin and realize I have a nasty knot halfway through…good thing I can just cut off the string and continue loading straight over that mess.  All the while I’m wondering why Nag Champa dust is covering every surface of my craft room.  Yes, I simply cannot fathom why I can’t produce a quality piece of clothing?  Luckily, I have hope that even the dirtiest hippie can be taught to clean up by her mother.
-r.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Marvelous Marni









   To begin, I’d like to start with a comment one of my friend’s made to me.  We had been discussing clothes with a group of people when she nonchalantly mentioned that she was, “thinking of starting to wear her jeans like Rayna does.”  At first I was flattered that anyone would consider mimicking something my trainwreck mind concocted.  However, upon further reflection, I started to wonder, “what was so different about how I wear my jeans?”  Later I posed the ridiculously self-conscious inquiry of, “how do I wear my jeans different than everybody else?”  Her answer was immediate and emphatic.  “You know...how you always cuff them at the bottom or wear them short."
   “Huh,” I thought.  I never considered this habit of mine to be something that was out of the ordinary.  In fact, all of the fashion magazines and bloggers have been doing this sort of thing for quite a while and I was simply following suit.  I always figured if it’s good enough for the heavy hitters in New York, its good enough for the hayseed likes of me in South Dakota.  However, I do realize that I’ve been donning this look for nearly four years now and fashion is a fickle thing.  I guess I just figured perhaps the ladies of the Midwest would start to eventually wear their jeans cropped and I would stop looking like the paranoid Doomsday lady looking to build an ark.
    I will state that when first introduced to the idea, cropped and cuffed jeans looked ridiculous to me as well.  A few years ago I remember my favorite fashion blogger announcing the, “baby bell bottom or cropped flair,” as the next biggest thing in fashion.  While I was mighty skeptical at first, this lemming couldn’t wait to jump off that cliff with her.  Unfortunately, no one here on the high plains had any knowledge of the baby bell bottom and people kept looking at me like, “why the hell is that Amazonian woman wearing such little pants?”
   While I’m aware that the cropped pant can’t last forever I admit that I’m going to ride this train until it totally derails.  One could argue there are many benefits to wearing your pants in this manner.  The first being it's a welcome distraction from the dreaded skinny jean.  While I’m wearing cropped flairs I have absolutely no concerns about how my thighs look.  Around here everybody’s too distracted by the question, “what’s up with short pants over there?”  The other benefit to this look is one can take any old pair of sloppy thrift store jeans and whack off the bottom cuffs in order to create a chic look.  There has not been a cheaper trend since Grunge…which by the way was another one of my deep fashion loves.  The last, and most important, benefit of wearing little pants is one’s ability to show off their shoes!  While I adore wearing bell bottoms and bootcut I despise how they hide my footwear. 
   Of course, it could be argued that this last point is also the ultimate downfall of the cropped craze.  While I’ve saved quite of bit of money in regards to purchasing denim I’ve justified way too many expensive shoe purchases simply because I’m confident I can display them properly.  The above photographs provide a perfect example of this.  I went insane one day and finally purchased a pair of Marni sandals that were on clearance.  While they make me near 7’ tall, they are one of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned.  In addition, when I put them on I know I’m wearing designer duds and can’t help but strut around a bit.  On the day I wore this outfit I walked into one of the local trendy boutiques and instead of the usual, “there’s short pants side glance,” I usually receive from the hipsters working there I got, “Wow, I love your outfit!”  That alone is worth designer prices.
-r. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

It's Haute Out!












   It was just a few posts back that I proclaimed I was trying not to complain about the weather.  Of course the title, "It's Haute Out!" is proof that my word means little.  However, I believe my protests are justified.  I mean, come on people, it’s hot outside! 
   On the day I took the above photographs I was worried about showing sweat.  I want to elaborate that this concern is a big deal for me, considering I’m one of those freaks that does not sweat…like ever.  I want to note that this is a very physically unhealthy thing and not something to be desired.  I can also state it seems to annoy everyone around me during the hot summer months.  I can’t help but chuckle every time I think back to my days working at the greenhouse.  I would lament, "I was hot!," and then glance at my pissed off looking coworker who was soaking wet with sweat.  I remember him always ragging on the fact that, "Rayna does not stoop to sweating, she glistens."  
   While it appears to take the hubs of Hades for me to actually physically show I’m hot, I'll admit it takes barely anything for me to bitch about the weather.  Of course, I used to do a lot more complaining when I refused to bare my legs in public.  Yes, I was one of those.  I don’t think any skin above my ankles saw the sun from the age of sixteen to thirty five.  Honestly, just recently I’ve become comfortable with exposing my knees.  Today I question why I'm more confident with my thirty eight year old knees than I was when they were twenty four.  I guarantee my legs were better looking all those years ago.  Today I mourn the fact that my twenty-something self had such image issues.  Oh! if I’d only had the guts to wear one pair of hot pants!!!  Would my life have turned out much differently?  I’m fairly certain it would have, and upon further consideration it would most likely not have been for the better.  Of course, here I am bragging about showing off my knees when I’m wearing jeans in all the pictures featured in this post.  Okay, so old habits die hard.  However, on this particular day I was mentally scolding myself for not wearing my long shorts. 
   In addition to the weather being uncomfortable, I was attempting to find a new location for blog pictures.  I'd decided to drive to a rather industrial area of town in order to find a semi urban looking setting.  However, due to the blazing heat I decided not to venture far from my vehicle in case I temporarily blacked out and needed to crawl to air conditioning.  As a result, all of the pictures above were taken from locations that were very close to moving traffic.  Now nothing makes one feel like more of an idiot than taking glamour shots in front of strangers.  While I may no longer care what people think of my, “ugly,” legs I still seem to be concerned with their views on my sanity…which admittedly was questionable that day.  The only justification I have for my actions is, “Hey, I liked my outfit!”
   Luckily I not only survived the unrelenting heat, I did so without a hint of glistening to be seen in my photos.  Of course, I feel these images could have turned out better had I not chosen to take pictures in such a populated area.  I was self-conscious of the eyes of those driving by…actually I was more consciously paranoid by the other unbalanced individuals around me who were roaming the streets on such a dangerously hot day.  Come to think of it they didn’t seem to be sweating either.  Huh…uh oh…
-r.  

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Art Intermission




   I admit I’m starting to feel a tad guilty about these, “Art Intermission,” posts.  In the beginning I originally defined, “Little House Of Haute,” as a fashion blog.  However, over the years it’s become painfully clear...to me and my poor readers…thank you again for subjecting yourselves to my pointless blathering…that this blog actually has very little to do with the topic of fashion.  In reality I'm a novice regarding this subject and am only an expert in trends that suit my personal taste.  Ironically this does not keep me from posting my ensembles all over the Internet.  In the future I hope the outfits of, “Little House Of Haute,” won’t appear too cringeworthy.  Just in case, I figure the, “Art Intermission,” posts may lend a bit of academic flair to an otherwise pretty juvenile collection of photographs. 
   In a way the, “Art Intermission,” images I’ve posted so far could still be considered personal style pictures.  In fact, each one of these images was originally intended to be regular style shots… “And they would have got away with it too, had it not been for that meddling weather!”  Wait…sorry I slipped into, “Scooby Doo,” mode there.  However it’s true that I'd planned the outfit in the picture above to be featured in my typical blog post format.  Unfortunately, the day I took this picture happened to be quite stormy, which was not at all compatible with the idea of a photo shoot.  Again I lament, “Damn meddling weather!”
   I guess the reason I have Scooby on the brain is due to the actual image that was created that day.  After taking one picture in my garage and then throwing in the towel…before I had to actually go fetch a towel, due to the torrential downpour…I started to notice how very detective...ish my ensemble appeared.  Obviously, I took that idea and ran with it until ultimately I'd created the above picture.  Upon showing this image to a friend she immediately stated it looked very, “Alfred Hitchcock.”  I was thrilled!  Leave it to me to think, “Mystery Machine,” when I should aim for, “Vertigo.”  Overall I’m quite pleased by how this image turned out.  In addition, I believe this altered picture transformed a rather, “Meh,” looking outfit into something a lot more interesting.  I see  this picture and wonder what mystery I’m trying to solve.  Then I suddenly realize the only mystery on my mind that afternoon was how to avoid getting my trench coat soaked while running to the front door of the coffee house. 
   This whole post really makes me wonder about the relationship between context and clothing.  Had I just photographed this outfit in my normal, "ho-hum," manner I would’ve never created a feeling of mystery.  However, give this lady an hour on her smartphone with an image and I can transform it into something with a backstory.  I guess the true mystery here is whether this story was created by the clothes or the ambiance.  Either way, lately these art images occupy more of my attention than my regular glamour shots.  I mean, who wants to settle for beauty when you could have baffling?
-r.





Sunday, July 9, 2017

"I'll sleep when I'm dead"













   Well, it’s official.  I’m sick again.  Honestly, I don’t believe I’ve ever been ill this many times in one year.  The myth about working in childcare is true.  I work in a germ factory.  Thankfully it’s one decorated with drawings of Pokemon and cats.  I mean, how can that seem threatening?
   Despite the fact that I’ve not been feeling well, I’ve refused to allow myself to have a total collapse.  Basically, I took a vacation day to enjoy a three day weekend and I will not accept that I'm ill. I’m hoping this mentality won’t bite me in the ass later.  All of this reminds me of the words of a former coworker at the greenhouse.  This particular person was a veteran of the Vietnam War.  I had been complaining one day about the extreme heat we had to endure.  His response to me was, “You don’t know hot until you’re an eighteen year old sitting in the sweltering jungle sweating from heat and fear of, “Charlie.”  He elaborated by stating, “It’s all mental Rayna.  If you decide you’re roasting hot you will be.  If you decide you can’t survive something you probably won’t.”  From that day on I can’t help but think of my coworker each time my privileged mouth starts to state, “Man, it’s hot ou…”
   I titled this post, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” due to the fact I found the lighting in some of these images rather heavenly.  In addition, this title was inspired by a phrase my boyfriend utters constantly.  Ironically he is also a veteran, although he served in The Gulf War.  We always joke that when I was enjoying the luxuries of being an eight year old child he was off fighting a war…literally.  For anyone that knows him personally it’s no surprise to hear me state that Al works constantly.  He is one of those motivated individuals who defines a great portion of himself by the work he does.  He often states, “He has no idea what to do when he’s not working, and is not happy doing anything else."  I, on the other hand, am the exact opposite of this.  While I take pride in the work I do, I’ve never felt that any of my jobs defined me.  I’m a person who shamelessly loves her hobbies.  Without them, I would have no idea who I was.  In retrospect I have no clue which way of life is better.  In him I see an extremely successful, productive, and inspiring individual who is unable to relax.  Of course, then there is me who prioritizes creativity, introspection, and leisure time, but still has not formed a solid life plan.  Meh…tomato, tomahto...right?
   Lately, I’ve been trying to follow the wise words of these two men.  Instead of throwing in the towel immediately I’ve been attempting to push through and do things that would generally make me uncomfortable.  Already this summer I’ve attended my high school class reunion, gone to a few graduation parties, and socialized with friends more than once a week!  Like my coworker stated, I decided that I could, “survive,” these situations and I did.  Of course, in no way do I mean that last statement to belittle the experience he went through in the past.  I am well aware that anyone who has gone to war has endured things I NEVER could.  Perhaps that’s why I put so much weight in the words of these individuals.  Okay, well I see value to some of the words my boyfriend says.  Many of the things he utters are still stupid.  
   In addition, this weekend I took to heart my boyfriend’s catch phrase.  While I’m certainly not feeling my best, I decided to attend our beloved Brookings Art Festival.  Despite the fact that, “Man, it’s hot ou…” and I was fighting to breathe through humidity and mucus, I had a great day.  Al finally took a Saturday afternoon off work, and I sacrificed some comfort in order to spend some quality time with him.  Don’t get me wrong, my sacrifice was pretty small.  I walked away from that festival with some of the most legit 1970's vintage denim items I’ve ever seen!  I can’t believe I almost didn’t go!  For some reason I have the sneaking suspicion that Al’s words of wisdom where not meant to inspire me to push through the pain in order to shop.  However, maybe he could learn a few things from me as well.   
-r.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Finding a Pharoah...in South Dakota?













   This week the title of my blog post is fairly obvious.  Despite my addiction to metaphors, I simply named this essay after the necklace I’m wearing in the above pictures.  Ever since I was quite young I’ve been fascinated by the Ancient Egyptians.  I remember one of my favorite books growing up was, “The Egypt Game,” by Zilpha Keatley Snyder.  I also recall this tale inspiring me to sculpt a decent sized King Tut mask out of clay while in art class.  I spent quite a few hours precariously painting tiny details on that piece, despite my shaky hands.  In addition, during that time of my life I acquired a rather decent sized jewelry collection featuring various hieroglyphics, scarabs, and images of Egyptian Gods.  I’m fairly certain if I dug deep enough through my parents’ home I would be able to unearth several of these buried treasures.
   Not so long ago I was reminded of my forgotten passion for Ancient Egypt when I came across a 1970’s pharaoh mask pendant necklace on Etsy.  I gasped as soon as I saw it.  It was huge, it was gold, it was gaudy, and I had to have it!  The first time I put it on I felt a comforting nostalgia wash over me.  "Ahhh"…things were right with the world again.  One necklace inspired me to pick up a passion long pushed aside.  Maybe it wasn’t too late to get that cartouche tattoo I’d wanted since high school.  Bah!...who am I kidding?  If I had gotten every tattoo I’d wanted since high school I’d be covered in cartouches, ankhs, Gustav Klimt ladies, Art Deco designs, dragons, henna, mandalas, Picasso doves, Hello Kitty, and a giant Cocteau Twins band logo.  Yes, I would be a walking dorm room wall.  Considering all of this, perhaps it’s good my issues with permanency always got in the way.  
   Returning to the subject of finding treasures, I think it’s accurate to state that lately I’ve experienced a revival of many old interests.  The most notable one being my passion for art.  While putting on my Egyptian themed necklace made me feel like the, “old Rayna,” nothing has felt more comfortable than returning to my creative interests.  I must admit I’m absolutely addicted to taking photography portraits and digitally altering them.  I almost enjoy doing this more than glamour shots.  “What?!” you ask.  Yes, it’s true.  While I still intend to maintain the, “fashion,” aspect of this blog…because let’s face it I have WAY too many clothes to quit now…I'm pleased to be branching out into a more artistic realm of photography.  If I was perfectly honest the blog, “Little House Of Haute,” has never really been about fashion.  It’s more of a platform for this antisocial freak show to vent about her boring life and what she wore at the coffee shop.  However now that I’ve regained the confidence to create art again, I feel this blog may get a lot more interesting.  Now one can read about my dull happenings while looking at my periodically bizarre creations that may seem to belong in a freak show.  I anticipate some of these pictures will have to make my coffee shop stories more interesting…right?
   I guess I couldn’t help but use one of my beloved metaphors after all.  “Finding a Pharoah…in South Dakota?” has very little to do with the necklace I’m wearing in these pictures.  I believe it has more in common with uncovering the, "ancient," artist inside of me who has been lying in wait for the opportunity to become rediscovered.  I’m excited, and a little nervous, to reveal that I’ve finally found her and it’s become apparent that this mummy isn’t going back into its tomb. 
-r.