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Observation Journal — much-used words and symbolism

Kathleen Jennings

Usually I post observation journalpages chronologically, which is why I’m still working through last year. These three pages, however, are very current. (I’ll scan them eventually).

I am editing a draft of a story this month. This means I am confronted by words I regularly overuse. Sometimes this is simply because I think they’re neat, or get in a habit. But some words I use because I like them and they mean something to me. When I use the word “green” it’s less about description than about trying to invoke some nebulous, numinous green-ness.

So I finally sat down to work out what I actually *mean* when I use some of my most overused words.

Here is “green”:

This approach is a work-in-progress, but it has already been useful both for edits and for clarifying my thoughts on a story.

For example: Is this person wearing a green…

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It’s Only Words: Mourning Jewellery

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Victorian Mourning pin

Talk in everlasting words
And dedicate them all to me
And I will give you all my life
I’m here if you should call to me
You think that I don’t even mean
A single word I say
It’s only words, and words are all
I have to take your heart away

From ‘Words’ by The Bee Gees

"The Spirit Hath Fled" - Victorian mourning locket with black and white enamel on 9k gold

I have previously written about different types of symbolism of mourning jewellery, how pearls represented tears; and ivy represented fidelity; locks of hair from the deceased were incorporated into jewellery; painted miniatures of single eye surrounded by clouds and tears were symbols of a lost love; and  – of course – there was jet carved into glittering brooches and beads for mourning jewellery. I haven’t even touched on the meanings of urns, angels, anchors and acorns (another day, perhaps). However, not every piece of mourning jewellery had to have a masked meaning. Some came right out…

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Hand-in-hand; Victorian-era Hand Jewellery

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turquoise-and-diamond-cluster-two-hands-clasp-c-1835 Turquoise and diamonds in the form of two hands clasping, circa 1835

In the Victorian era, jewellery was worn not just for ornamentation, it was often worn because it meant something to both the wearer and/or the people who saw her wearing the piece. Hands were a popular symbol. They could be clasped in love or friendship, or clasping items with their own symbology.

The ring below is an early Victorian-era  Betrothal Ring, circa 1840. The Clasped Hands, which have a male and female cuff, open to reveal a gold heart on the central band. An Early Victorian Gold Clasped Hands Betrothal Ring. The Clasped Hands, which have a male and female cuff, open to reveal a Gold Heart on the central band. Circa 1840.jpg

Flowers had a whole range of meanings, depending on the the types of flowers.

ivory-and-silver-hand-brooch Ivory hand clasping roses – symbols of love – and forget-me-nots.

hands-with-bouquets-earrings Ivory earrings clasping roses and forget-me-nots.

Snakes represented eternal love or wisdom.


coral-and-gold-brooch Coral and gold pin

A hand grasping a rod was seeking guidance or comfort in time of need.



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A New Steampunk Themed Anthology

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Adventures with Cats

Yes, I am something of a cliché, an author with cats. I generally avoid mentioning my cats (and my family) when I write my author’s bio. But my furry family has been undergoing a change. We have a third cat who visits on a daily basis, and yesterday Bruce spent the entire day with us. I’m putting that down to the rain – it rained all day.

And yet, no Bruce today (so far).

Bruce is a black tom cat with lovely manners; his nickname is the ‘Soot Sprite’. He always asked politely to come inside. He is taller than my girls, but much skinnier. He doesn’t seem to have another family, because he was neglected and too thin when he first started turning up. He isn’t our cat, but he is always welcome to visit. He has a deep and croaky voice and he always says ‘goodbye’ when he is leaving. He is called Bruce because his full name is Bruce Man Bat Wayne – his expression resembles the Batman’s mask.

This is Artemis, who mostly goes by the name of Bean (because she thinks she is a hooman bean). Artemis suits her, as she loves to be worshiped like a goddess, and she hunts constantly: butterflies, lizards, dragonflies, and birds (alas). Bean also suits her, as she has sweet toe beans. She is our original cat, a rescue from the RSPCA. She has lots of personality and isn’t a polite girl. Indeed, she is something of a bully to the other cats. But she is also snuggle bunny and very chatty; that kind of love is irresistible. She also has the widest range of vocalisations I’ve ever heard, from the softest mew to a resonating wail (when she need to sing the songs of her people).

Then there is Tilly Mint, who we adopted when her original owner tragically passed away. We didn’t change her name, to avoid confusing her. Tilly is sweet-natured and polite; she taps ankles and mews when she wants attention or bikkies. It sounds like she is saying ‘ma’am’. She also uses her lush tail to signal her mood. She loves being brushed and petted, but isn’t too keen on being picked up or sitting on laps. She gets lost in the backyard, so I’m not sure she is terribly bright. She is often the target of Bean’s temper; she hides on a dining room chair under the tablecloth – but her tail always hangs down. Her voice is soft and sweet, just like her, and she is chatty. Tilly is also quite timid.

Both Bean and Tilly hate strangers at the door and storms. They were terrified during October’s massive hail storm – it sounded like the world was ending – and since then heavy rain or hail sends them into hiding. When Bruce turns up, Bean gets territorial, particularly if he decides to have a snooze on my bed (her territory). Tilly sniffs Bruce’s nose and since he is nicer to her than Bean, I think she likes him quite a bit.

The Stand-off!

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Women’s History Month Article

For Gillian

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Feeling Neglected?

Sorry. If I can’t offer you something original, I tend to not blog.

Please stay safe throughout the holiday period. And have an awesome time.

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I’m Still Steampunking…

Just got a quick question about whether or not I still consider myself a Steampunk Enthusiast.

Well, I bought all of Professor Elemental’s comics earlier this year. I consider that a hint as to where my heart lies. I might not get out much, but I’m still a Steampunk enthusiast at heart.

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Adventures with Tilly Mint

We’ve had Tilly Mint for half a year; we took her in after her previous owner passed away. I’ve never had a long haired cat before, and I am AMAZED at how much she sheds. However, it is her two recent personal quirks I want to share with you.

Last night, we called for Tilly to come in, so that we could lock the doors. Tilly is such a good girl and always comes when called (unless she is asleep). No Tilly.

Were we mistaken and was she inside? We searched. No. No Tilly.

I went outside and called her. I can’t see very well in the dark and wondered if she was playing hide-go-seek. So my husband, who had good night vision, went out to look for her. Still no luck.

Then my daughter calls out, “Tilly’s on the window ledge to the study, crying to be let in.” Tilly had got lost in her own backyard, and couldn’t find her way to the back door of the house. She has a very soft voice, and so we didn’t hear her crying over our calling for her.

Our backyard isn’t that big. But apparently it’s still too big for Tilly.

Then, this morning, she’s discovered the fun of chasing toys around the bathtub. She has led everyone in the house into the bathroom to see how much fun it is. Usually, when she is leading you anywhere, it’s to her brushes, because she loves to be brushed.

Tilly has a very sweet and endearing personality. But I’m having doubts about her orientation skills…

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Lynne’s Rules for Steampunk Fashion

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World Domination is our game Doctor Steel, Cogpunk Steamscribe, Professor Von Explaino and the Steampunk Buzz Lightyear.

Before we get to the ‘rules’, a DISCLAIMER: Steampunk cosplay is not to be taken seriously, and is just a bit of fun. These guidelines are to assist newbies to Steampunk cosplay, or to give old hands a chuckle, and – as such – are not cast in steel.

Rule One: Steampunk is not the same thing as historical recreation. If you want, you can get as accurate as you like with the Victorian aspects of your outfit … but it isn’t Steampunk until you add the gadgets, ray-guns and goggles.

Rule Two: No one item is Steampunk by itself. A lovely pair of boots aren’t Steampunk until they are matched up with the rest of the outfit; the trousers, the vest with the watch-chain, the hat and the goggles, the ray-gun and the quizzing glass, none…

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