So Long, 2013…

…don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

It seems like I am not alone in bidding au revoir, good riddance, and GTFO to 2013- I know lots of the folks in my social circles, as well as plenty of folks I know only tangentially, have had a rough time of it. I won’t bother to speculate why, but man. Welcome the new year, yeah?

For me, 2013 (and the last three months of 2012, really) was… tumultuous. Difficult. Painful. I mean, yes, I still have my spouse, and we still have somewhere to live. It could have been worse, I am aware. But 2013 was full of nasty surprises, from our church burning down, to the loss of several relatives to old age and suicide, to our house being robbed, to having to put our little kitty to sleep, to unending invasions of ants, and everything in between. I got so stressed out in March and April that I basically had what amounted to a physical breakdown, which is not something I’ve ever even come close to experiencing before. I had tremors, panic attacks. I couldn’t sleep, my blood pressure went through the roof. I managed to work my way back to something close to normal, and then it all came back again in August, after we put our little handicapped cat to sleep and then got robbed less than a week later. I could get up, go to work, and come home, and that was absolutely it. And honestly, if we lived in any other civilized country where they have things like medical leave for mental distress, I wouldn’t have been doing the going to work part.

Since so many of these things affected not just me, but my immediate world, my husband has had a rough year of it too. And in every social group I know, it seems to be widespread. Divorces, moves, illness, sudden accidents, sudden deaths, everything- you name it, it seems to have happened in 2013.

It wasn’t all bad- I had an amazing trip to Canada to visit a dear friend (and then I couldn’t leave because hundred year floods in Alberta literally washed out the roads to the airport, you see what I mean about 2013?). I joined a band, which is now playing gigs. I wrote more than I had in at least a year. I edited a LOT of photos, and Stephanie and I finished the minor cards for our Black Widow Honey project. I celebrated turned 30 in August, celebrated 9 years of marriage in October, and 2 years at my job in November. Our remaining two cats are happy and healthy, and the ants now only come in the bathtub (knock wood) where they can easily be washed away every morning.

But. I’m ready for a new leaf.

I do this thing, have done it for a few years, where instead of making New Year’s Resolutions, I pick a theme for the year. I try to make it reflect the overall attitude or result I want across all spheres of my life for the next twelve months. I tend to be somewhat obsessive in personality, and so resolutions too easily become all-consuming, and ultimately a source of failure and disappointment. But a theme lets me be mindful of the overall goal, without getting bogged down in specifics that will overwhelm me.

I had a hard time figuring out what mine would be this year- there’s a lot I wanted to cover. I both need to take it a little easier, dial back the remaining anxiety and mania that I’m still living with, while simultaneously do better at things like getting enough exercise, eating well, managing all my personal and work obligations, etc. I couldn’t figure it out, and couldn’t figure it out, and couldn’t figure it out. But as I was putting the finishing touches on today’s Dreamlights Radio show last night, I finally got it- this is the year of Feeling Good.

Feeling Good- it’s both what I need, in terms of my health, and in terms of my personal success. And if I’m feeling good, everything else will fall into place- I’ll do better at my job, I’ll perform better in my band, I’ll be inspired to write more, and on and on. It’s both the state I need to attain, and the source from which further good things will flow.

Thus, on this second day of 2014, I leave you with the immortal Nina Simone, and the hope that you, too, will have a year of Feeling Good.

Advertisements

King of Coins

We shot the King of Coins on the same day as the Queen of Coins, as you may notice by the overlap in the bounteous feast in the photos. They’re similar cards in feel (at least to me), the main difference being that the Queen is internally concerned (abundance and protection of the self, the creative, the home, the fields) where the King is more external (abundance and protection of the kingdom, the era, the land).

King of Coins 1.2

King of Coins 1.2

I often feel as though the King and Queen of Coins are like the less dramatic versions of the Emperor and Empress in the Major Arcana- more so than the royalty of the other suits- primarily because the suit of coins is associated with Earth, and the Emperor and Empress are both (to me) cards of the self writ large- the physical self, the actions thereof, and the world surrounding.

King of Coins 2.3

King of Coins 2.3

I’m not thrilled with how these turned out, but I think they’ll do ok. I do like some of the angles I was able to shoot- it was difficult, because immediately out of the frame on pretty much all sides is furniture and rugs, which I was trying very hard to not get in the frame. I also always try with the Kings to shoot Stephanie from more traditionally “masculine” angles- whether we’re aware of it or not, we tend to shoot women from above, and men from below, which makes women seem smaller and more delicate, and men seem larger and over-leaning. With the Kings, especially since Stephanie is petite, I try to shoot her as large and spaciously as I can. I think that does come across especially in the first shot of this series.

King of Coins 3.3

King of Coins 3.3

Because we were shooting at my house, and on my floor, I had a very difficult time convincing my cats that Stephanie was not, in fact, sitting around waiting to pet them. By the end, it was getting to be more trouble than it was worth to keep Gandalf out of the shots, and I decided it was entirely appropriate to have both a cat and a wizard in the King of Coins, so there he is, looking at the viewer with no little disdain.

King of Coins 4.1

King of Coins 4.1

Check out the full Flickr set here, and all our images plus new interpretations on our website, blackwidowhoney.com. Also, stop by our Facebook site and give us a like!

Queen of Coins

Queen of Coins 1.2

Queen of Coins 1.2

The Queen of Coins was a fun, and relatively easy shoot, and thank goodness for it. We did have some trouble with costuming, because we’re getting to the point in the cards where we’ve used pretty much everything in both our closets (and some of our friends’) at least once, but Stephanie found this green dress online, and I think it worked out very well.

Queen of Coins 2.2

Queen of Coins 2.2

The Queen of Coins is a card of abundance and wealth and plenty, and we decided to go the literal route, and had a feast. My backyard has vines galore, as does my porch, so we were able to set out a nice spread with greens abounding. With the late summer afternoon sun, I think it really turned out to be a beautiful setting.

Queen of Coins 3.1

Queen of Coins 3.1

I don’t have a lot to say about this card, other than that I’m very pleased with how it came out. I think the editing went well, and I think the poses are good, the lighting was excellent. I’m glad that we saved the suit of coins for last, it feels like a good note on which to have finished the minors.

Queen of Coins 4.2

Queen of Coins 4.2

Check out Stephanie’s blog about this shoot here, or our facebook page here, or our actual live site here! Full flickr set is here as always.

Queen of Coins 5.1

Queen of Coins 5.1

Knight of Coins

Knight of Coins 1.3

Knight of Coins 1.3

The Knight of Coins, like all the knights, was a little difficult to initially decide on how to capture. Knights, to me, anyway, are all about movement- the transmission of information, messages, change in the air. I felt like we captured that very well with the other three knights, actually, but it did take some thought, and this knight, since it’s the knight of coins, of earth, seemed like even more of a stretch.

Knight of Coins 2.3

Knight of Coins 2.3

For this knight, we decided that the idea of motion might best be conveyed through the idea of discovery. The suit of coins or pentacles is all about wealth and prosperity, and so the discovery of unexpected or unlooked for resources seemed appropriate to the theme.

Knight of Coins 3.2

Knight of Coins 3.2

I enjoyed shooting this card, because it was a beautiful day and a beautiful park, and it was nice to just get outside and do something creative. Shooting these last few coins has really driven home for me how bad it is mentally and physically to be stuck in an office all day, every day. I don’t tend to think of myself as “outdoorsy”, but I grew up in the country with space and the outdoors as a matter of fact, and living in an urban environment is hard on me in sneaky ways.

Knight of Coins 4.3

Knight of Coins 4.3

I’m pleased with how this set turned out- they feel very woodlandy, very sort of elf-in-the-trees. Maybe not Tolkien-esque, but definitely like something out of a fairy-tale adventure. You can see what Stephanie thought here, see the full Flickr set here, or check out our website for the whole project here.

Knight of Coins 5.2

Knight of Coins 5.2

Ten of Coins

Finally- the Ten of Coins! *sound of trumpets blaring*

Ten of Coins 1.2

Ten of Coins 1.2

The Ten of Coins is the card that made us plow through the rest of the coins in about a month- Stephanie very much wanted to do it around her birthday, and do it with her friend who would be visiting for said birthday in the card. It was a real push to make it happen, but we did! And I do think it adds to the symbolism of the card, to have made that work out.

Ten of Coins 2.2

Ten of Coins 2.2

The Ten of Coins and the Ten of Cups, as I said in my post about the Ten of Cups, are somewhat interchangeable to me- I’m very much an earth sign, so I don’t draw lines between one kind of abundance and another, really. It’s like the old joke about “If you think money can’t buy you happiness, you’re doing it wrong”- sure, money in of itself is emotionally valueless, but you can use it to buy food, and to treat your friends, and to have space where you can have people over, and and and. All good and happy-making things.

Ten of Coins 3.3

Ten of Coins 3.3

For this card, we went the feasting route- we invited a bunch of friends, kind of assuming not everyone would make it, and then when everyone did, we realized we had nine people! Fine, we thought, we’ll just have Stephanie hold two coins, that’ll work, and then a last friend strolled through the door, completely without any foreknowledge of the gathering. Thanks to serendipity, we had ten!

Ten of Coins 4.1

Ten of Coins 4.1

Overall, I’m pleased with this card, though I wish it had been less backlit. I tried to mitigate that in the editing process, but I’m not sure how successful I was. Nonetheless, I think the spirit of the card is good, and everyone looks great. The food was good, fun was had, and all in all, this was one of our nicest shoots, right up there with the Six of Cups.

Ten of Coins 5.2

Ten of Coins 5.2

You can see the full set here, visit us on facebook here, see Stephanie’s blog about this shoot here, or check out our actual website!

Eight of Coins

The Eight of Coins was a bit of a difficult one in deciding how we were going to portray it. Unlike some of the others, we didn’t have any disagreements about what we wanted to convey, but rather were struggling with how to represent it without repeating too much of any of our prior images.

Eight of Coins 1.2

Eight of Coins 1.2

The Eight of Coins is sort of a further build upon the Three of Coins, only instead of being in the learning phase, we are now in the practicing phase. Hard work equals eventual success for the Eight, but only if you put in the effort.

Eight of Coins 2.1

Eight of Coins 2.1

We wanted to build on the use of crafting and textiles that we had used in the Three, but didn’t really have a floor loom, or other way to indicate a specific upgrade in skill. Instead we ended up going with cross stitch, and lots of it- pieces Stephanie was working on, pieces I was working on, and the coins.

Eight of Coins 3.3

Eight of Coins 3.3

I think it turned out well enough- it’s not one of our standout works, but I like it. You can read Stephanie’s take here, or visit our website here. Full Flickr set is available as always here.

Eight of Coins 4.2

Eight of Coins 4.2

Five of Coins

Four of Coins 1.1

Five of Coins 1.1

The Five of Coins is one of the few completely negative cards in the tarot, which made it interesting to shoot. While Stephanie and I sometimes differ on how to portray various cards, there is very little room for interpretive differences in the Five of Coins- it is just poverty, and destitution.

Four of Coins 2.2

Four of Coins 2.2

We knew we wanted to shoot around some abandoned buildings, because that is one of the other main themes of this card- being shut out, abandoned in the cold. Fortunately, we live very near Treasure Island, which is chock full of boarded up buildings and empty lots.

Five of Cups 3.2

Five of Cups 3.2

It was actually a really fun shoot- the light was great, we were entirely left alone, and we had basically a large photographer’s playground to shoot in. Just search “Treasure Island, CA” in google images, and you’ll turn up approximately a gajillion photos from every hipster and his yuppie cousin with a camera. They’re not wrong, though- it’s a great place to get a shot.

Five of Coins 4.2

Five of Coins 4.2

I’m really happy with how these turned out- I think we managed to capture a sort of believable poverty. It’s easy, when doing this sort of costumed, staged, setting for things, to take it too far, to make it a caricature. I wanted to avoid that, and I think we did.

Five of Coins 5.2

Five of Coins 5.2

Check out Stephanie’s blog about this shoot here, and the full set of photos here. Also remember to visit our facebook page and our website!

Five of Coins 6.1

Five of Coins 6.1

Three of Coins

Three of Coins 1.1

Three of Coins 1.1

The Three of Coins was a bit of an intellectual challenge for both Stephanie and me during the planning phase of the coins- it’s traditionally a card of skilled labor, or career and profession. Stephanie’s profession, though, involves the internet and computers, and we really struggled to come up with some way to convey that sort of work that would be both engaging, and look like work.

Three of Coins 2.2

Three of Coins 2.2

In the end, we decided to go a different route. Neither of us was wild about trying to photograph Stephanie and her laptop, so we fell instead to craft work. Stephanie is a crafter (as am I), and that made it an easy leap for both of us to think about the skill and labor involved in creating physical objects. Stephanie also happens to own a table loom, and so we dragged it out as our prop du jour.

Three of Coins 3.2

Three of Coins 3.2

I’m not wild about this particular set of photos, but they work well enough. We shot at Stephanie’s house in the evening, and I’m worried that we’ve used this particular backdrop too many times. Also, it was late enough that the lighting wasn’t great. I may put it on my “reshoot if we have time” list, and see if we can’t improve upon it a bit, but we’ll see.

Three of Coins 4.1

Three of Coins 4.1

Stephanie’s account can be found here, as well as the full Flickr set here. Remember too our Black Widow Honey website, and go check out our BWH facebook page, too!

Two of Coins

Two of Coins 1.3

Two of Coins 1.3

The Two of Coins- balance and measurement, especially of financial or material resources. An apt card for both Stephanie and me, perhaps- we’re both old enough now to not be that horrible post-college broke, but we’re still young enough that we don’t have a lot of resources built up. With our economy struggling for the past few years, and living surrounded by Bay Area prices, there’s a real sense that the balance could tip at any moment, and so you’d better weigh those coins carefully.

Two of Coins 2.3

Two of Coins 2.3

I had wanted to find some larger coins, since, though I love my little Mardi Gras coins dearly, they’re really not of an optimal size to show up in photos. You’d be surprised how hard it is to find big costumey coins! There’s the sort of Mardi Gras coin size, and then super-jumbo-torso-sized, and pretty much nothing in the middle.

Two of Coins 3.2

Two of Coins 3.2

I did like using the little postal scale, though- it’s a bit of a literal interpretation of the whole “weighing your resources” idea, perhaps, but I thought it gave that sense of deliberation pretty well. We tried to dress Stephanie a little bit young, but still professional, to lend that sense of someone just starting out in the world.

Two of Coins 4.1

Two of Coins 4.1

I’m really pretty pleased with how these turned out- all of the coins were done in a bit of a rush, so I’m happy that these worked out as well as they did. You can see the full Flickr set here, and Stephanie’s take here. Also, remember that all the photos taken are up on our www.blackwidowhoney.com site, along with additional interpretations and commentary.

Two of Coins 5.1

Two of Coins 5.1

Ace of Coins

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8413/8697931181_e3c9a2adca_h.jpg

The Ace of Coins very nearly didn’t happen. It became a little bit of a fiasco, to be honest- we were shooting after work one evening, which always involves the lovely coordinating of commutes, and attempts to consume food, etc. In this particular instance, the camera got left at Stephanie’s, and so we wound up shooting on her iPhone4, so that we would at least have something.

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8402/8699054744_91bd5e7353_h.jpg

We also had some rather strong disagreements about how to depict this card- I see the Aces as being more about fulness of potential, almost a Platonic ideal, whereas Stephanie reads them more as being beginnings. Thus, I wanted to show a hoard- to me, a great symbol of potential. Stephanie felt that it was confusing to depict more than one coin, however, so we ended up using the jewelry box to imply a hoard as a compromise.

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8400/8697930147_d2f8183bc7_h.jpg

It’s a shame that we’ll have to reshoot- I think the photos turned out really quite well, in spite of how frazzled we both were. But, of course, being shot on an iPhone 4 means that their quality is not high enough to result in prints or enlargements. So, this one turns into a bit of a practice run, I suppose.

http://farm9.static flicker.com/8401/8699053922_6640e24866_h.jpg

Stephanie’s take is here, as per usual, and you can find the full flickr set here. Don’t forget to check out our website, blackwidowhoney.com, to see all of the shots and read additional commentary!

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8120/8697931509_38cad93d80_h.jpg