I put a spell on you…

Let me start by saying I know nothing about the religion of Voodoo (or Vodou, considered by scholars to be the more appropriate spelling). I am sure it has been drastically misrepresented in television and the movies. The religion originates in Africa, but is different in the various places it is practiced. As practiced in the Americas (most famously in New Orleans in North America) and the Caribbean, it combines African, Catholic, and Native American traditions. Voodoo is not necessarily a cult, or violent, or the black magic it’s been portrayed to be, and my understanding is that most people who are Voodooists have never seen or used a Voodoo doll. (If interested, you can read more about Voodoo the religion in Saumya Arya Haas’s article for the Huffington Post.)

voodoo festival.jpg
Voodoo festival in Benin, image from cnn.com

 

I, however, am fascinated by Voodoo dolls. I have a few, not a lot, that are not meant to represent anyone in particular and I don’t stick pins in them or anything. Mostly, I think they are terribly cute.

the trio
My Voodoo dolls. Cute! And their powers are for good, not evil.

At least the ones you used to be able to buy from places like Jamie Hayes Gallery in New Orleans are cute. I bought a couple of dolls the week I was there between Christmas and New Years in 2009. In the gallery window was a Christmas tree decorated with little dolls, and I thought it was about the most adorable thing I’d ever seen. )Looking at the website now, I don’t see any dolls.) These are the dolls I bought at the gallery:

 

I love these 2 in particular because they remind me of another cute overload duo–Hoops and Yoyo™ from Hallmark.

Hoops and Yoyo for real

Hoops and Yoyo™ crack me up. My inner 12-year old takes over at certain moments, and she will almost always choose Hoops and Yoyo™ if choosing a card for someone (given that humor is appropriate; I do have some common sense).

 

WideFixedCentipede-size_restricted.gif

The tiny Mariposa doll was a gift from a very dear friend who always knows what to pick up for me on her travels.

Mariposa
Tiny Mariposa. Use the cat hair under her feet for scale.

Mariposa, a string doll from Watchover Voodoo, has a particular assignment and was thoughtfully chosen for my needs:

Mariposa tag

 

My first experience with a real life Voodoo was at a job, a job I loved but unfortunately didn’t stay at long. And no, that had nothing to do with the presence of a Voodoo doll in the boss’s desk drawer. The Voodoo doll was meant to represent the former boss, who had left suddenly and vaulted the new boss into the position with little notice or preparation. In times of stress, New Boss would secretly take out the Voodoo doll of Old Boss and stick a pin or two into her, and then get back to work. The secret didn’t stay secret, but given what a cool and unflappable (being sarcastic there) group of women we were, none of us thought too much about it. It was an amusing way of relieving stress. If Watchover Voodoo had existed back in the early 1990s (or, if online shopping had existed, which, believe it or not children, there was such a time), New Boss might have bought Watchover Voodoo’s the Stress Reducer, the Love Your Job, or even the Ninja.

 

 

I myself am partial to, besides Mariposa, the Bad Hair Day (I have a lot of those), the Pixie, the Loner, and the Nice One. Sometimes I really need the Scatterbrain. Take a look at the collection; there’s one for everyone and every need!

 

I might have made a Voodoo doll once, but I won’t go into too many details except to say I was at a very low point in my life and I was really furious at the person whose name and image the doll carried. I did stab the doll through its little heart a few times. Did it make me feel better? Absolutely, for a minute or two. Did it make a difference? Not at all.

This brings to mind the whole concept of magical thinking, which I’ve always found myself doing, but hadn’t thought about as a concept or applied a name to it until I read the Augusten Burroughs memoir Magical Thinking: True Stories (St. Martin’s Press, 2004).

 

Best known for the memoir Running with Scissors (St. Martin’s Press, 2002), Burroughs does not shy away from the personal and painful while still mananaging to be funny.

220px-Running-with-scissors

 

From the site GoodTherapy.org:

Magical thinking is the belief that one’s own thoughts, wishes, or desires can influence the external world. It is common in very young children. A four-year-old child, for example, might believe that after wishing for a pony, one will appear at his or her house. Magical thinking is also colloquially used to refer more broadly to mystical, magical thoughts, such as the belief in Santa Claus, supernatural entities, and miraculous occurrences.

My experience as an adult with magical thinking runs along the line of the belief that I am bad luck for the San Francisco Giants so I shouldn’t watch their games on television (e.g., if I root for them they will lose, but if I don’t pay attention, they will win). Or if I wish really hard, that pair of shoes I really want will go on sale. Magical thinking can be totally harmless, but can also be correlated with mental health conditions such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Does love invite magical thinking? (I just stole that line from the book The Awkward Age by Francesca Segal.)

 

Joan Didion also wrote a memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, in which magical thinking plays into her journey through grief in the year following the death of her husband, while she also cared for her comatose daughter, who also eventually passed away.

 

We see athletes who never vary their pregame rituals or their approach to their turn at bat, say. I’m thinking of San Francisco Giant Pablo Sandoval there.

 

Or former Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum, who was reported never to wash his trusty cap, but to spray it with Febreze fabric refresher once in a while, for luck.

mlb_u_lincecum3_576.jpg

 

You can call it superstition or magical thinking or delusion or irrational or whatever you want (or unhygienic in the cap case). But does it work? According to a 2009 article by Piercarlo Valdesolo for Scientific American, it can give people an edge. Lucky charms do have power, not because they are indeed magical, but because we believe they are.

Rituals, signs, omens. They’ve been part of the human psyche forever. Supersitions and the belief in luck are reported to have an evolutionary basis. The cave person who runs from the rustling in the bushes survives, whether it’s a fanged and hungry carnivorous beastie or the wind.

Many writers have compiled encyclopediae of superstitions.

 

Some of the described superstitions are amusing, others not so much. For instance, diagonal windows in Vermont are called witch windows, due to the belief that a witch can’t fly a broomstick through them.

witch window
A witch window. Eccentric but harmless.

 

At the animal shelter, we see more often than you might think people who will not consider adopting black cats. And some shelters will not adopt out black cats at Halloween to prevent animal torture.

britcat10_loisinor

All of that aside, lucky charms and rituals provide us with comfort and a feeling that we can somehow control the chaos of life. I’m okay with that! Much less fattening than a bowl of macaroni and cheese, even the vegan kind.

vegan mac and cheese
Vegan mac and cheese recipe available at The Organic Authority.

So now I bring out my magic wand and take you back to the magical and simpler time of 1982 and the band that was known as America.

 

My magical powers are perhaps limited. I can make a great vegan muffin. And make it disappear as well! I can try to make Einstein see the wisdom of my words.

 

What I really can do is choose how I live in this world. And I choose, to the best of my ability, to live a good life, a life of love and kindness, and a belief in the magic of happiness. Perhaps the beautiful and inspirational Audrey Hepburn said it best.

audrey

Peace and hugs.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame! (with an interlude at the Musical Instrument Museum)

 

take me out image

People seem surprised to find out I like going to baseball games. I wouldn’t say I am necessarily a baseball fan. I don’t really watch games on television or follow scores or statistics. But I love to go to the ballpark to see a game. There is something special about it that’s hard to describe.

 

 

Plus I love a good costume, and now I have a whole collection of Giants attire. Because I do root for the San Francisco Giants (and sometimes the Atlanta Braves, if they aren’t playing the Giants).

giants.png

 

game day ready
I got game! Well, I got a baseball cap, anyway.

 

purse
If this bag was vegan and less expensive, I’d buy it.

 

And I get an excuse to sing the Journey song Don’t Stop Believin’ at the top of my lungs without people thinking I am crazy.

 

For the third time since Bob and I have been together, we made it to the San Francisco Giants spring training in Scottsdale, Arizona this year. It was a short trip–we flew to Phoenix Monday morning, went to an afternoon game, out to dinner, Tuesday morning at the Musical Instrument Museum, an afternoon game, and home Tuesday night. But what it lacked in time it made up for in fun and sun.

 

spring_650x325

map 1map 2

 

training games

 

Our day 1 game was at Camelback Ranch, ballpark for the Chicago White Sox. Who actually wear black socks. I felt cheated. (Which leads to the question, are you a fan of high socks with the uniform? I am.)

socks
Giants Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey show their socks style.

 

b and g
At the Giants v White Sox. Giants win!

 

It’s really hot in March in Arizona. Really hot. Siri said so.

 

93 degrees

 

 

 

Belt
The closest I managed to get to a well-known player was when Brandon Belt was at bat.

 

Vegans and teetotalers can have a hard time at the ballpark. In the heat, while most everyone else was drinking beer, I really wanted a shaved ice. This is what I ended up with. I realize it is not a color known in nature. It was supposed to be cherry. I think it was sugar and red dye number whatever. But it was cold and I ate it anyway.

IMG_1156

 

After the game, we checked into the Hilton Scottsdale Resort & Villas, a splurge but oh so nice! Thank you Bob for the indulgence!

The first thing I saw in the lobby when we checked in was the ice-cold fruit-infused water. This is one of my new obsessions. I drank about 4 glasses of the concoction while we checked in. Baseball is thirsty work.

 

Our villa suite was amazing. There was even a washer/dryer and a dishwasher! We didn’t stay long enough to enjoy all of the amenities, but it was quite relaxing and comfortable, to say the least.

 

Next day, we hit the Musical Instrument Museum before settling in for the Giants v Padres at the Scottsdale Stadium. As I might have said, when a museum nerd (me) and a music nerd (Bob) travel together, this is where they go.

MIM

I was thinking it would be a small, homey, do-it-yourself place. One of those old-guy-with-a-collection opens his garage kind of things. Was I wrong! This is a beautiful, world-class museum and collection. It is well worth a day or two of wandering and wondering. Athough I was a bit alarmed and amused at the no weapons sign. I’ve never been to a museum that specified this. I didn’t think they needed to.

 

Just a few highlights:

Danish design
One more example of the superior lines of Danish design.

 

The Johnny Cash tribute.

 

One day, I will be that lady banjo player.

 

The 60s. Suit worn by Roger Daltry of The Who. Jimi Hendrix on the monitor.

 

glass orchestra

 

 

Just another visitor trying out the piano in the lobby.

 

 

Apollonia
The Apollonia, in the Mechanical Music Gallery, a 2-ton dance organ.

 

 

I have a whole novel centered around the Apollonia worked up in my head, and it would make a great movie, too. I’ll fill you in in a future blogpost.

Don’t forget to exit through the gift shop!

exit through the gift shop

 

Back to baseball! On to the Scottsdale Stadium, where our seats were a little more in the shade but a lot more behind really tall people. It Genevieve’s Law: the tallest adults at the ballpark (movie, concert, whatever), will have tickets for the seats directly in front of the shortest adult at the ballpark (movie, concert, whatever).

 

tall people
My view.

 

souvenir cup
New souvenir cup to add to my collection.

 

The Giants win again! Then a short trip into old town Scottsdale before heading to the airport.

 

 

I bought a beautiful ring at one of the nicer stores there on a previous visit. But I am clumsy and sometimes forgetful, so I managed to lose the ring. I was hoping to find the same store; they have less-touristy merchandise and less, shall we say, ostentatious designs. Bob was on the case, and lo and behold, the first store he suggested turned out to be the right one! If you are in Scottsdale, check out Scottsdale Jewels on N. Brown Avenue. Don’t be alarmed by the taxidermied bear (okay, be alarmed, but it’s still a nice jewelry store and they aren’t pushy like in the other stores).

IMG_1350
I wish someone had thought of the Don’t Touch idea before killing and stuffing the bear.

A quick flight home, and back to life as usual. Which is a good life all in all.

Baseball season 2017 opening day is Sunday, April 2. I’m not sure when I will get to a game, but I hope to see you there! Go Giants! Peace and hugs from this Giants Girl.

original-3739-6549-17openingdaylogo

Giants girl

 

 

P.S. Another obsession: I saw this dress in the Southwest Airline inflight magazine. I want it. I must have it. I can’t afford it, but maybe I can put my sewing skills to the test and make my own knock-off. Fashion detectives, if you can lead me to any information about this dress, I will  be forever indebted.

the dress