Friday, October 1, 2010


(Click on picture to enlarge the details)

I was out and about last Thursday doing some contract work and running errands, and when I got home I didn't go outside again until Monday. What a surprise awaited me when I walked out the door. It had turned into autumn practically overnight! Honestly, the trees were still green on Thursday, but on Monday they were gold and orange, copper and bronze, russet and rust, scarlet and vermilion. I was particularly thrilled to see this, since we did not have an autumn last year. Well, at least not autumn colors. The leaves - dry but still green - stayed on the trees until November when they froze and fell off into the snow. That was depressing.

I am so thrilled by the outpouring of color I've seen the past few days that I'm inspired to hold a contest and giveaway! I'm a little nervous, since I haven't held one in a long time. Since I stopped commenting on other blogs, I have few commenters so I don't even know if I have readers anymore (except that my "Followers" widget shows I have 171 followers, so someone must be reading my blog, if only occasionally).

Anyway, I want to know the story behind this painting, which I have titled Black Friday. I don't know why, but that's how I saved it on my computer. Regretfully, it was not attributed. However, it has intrigued me since I found it about three years ago. I said I wanted to know the story behind the painting but actually, I want to know the lady's story. Who is she? What's her name? Why is she so sad? Why is she dressed up? Has she just come in or is she ready to go out? What is the meaning or symbolism of the objects in the room - the irises, the perfume bottle, the umbrella, the mirror, the ladder, the dried flower or weed stems, etc. Obviously, some objects are symbolic of Halloween, but do they have other meanings as well (especially the cats or the crows)? What about the time period or the opulence of the room?

To enter, write a VERY short story about the painting. What do you see when you look at it? Does it fire your imagination? Can you give us a brief background, a scenario or just the thoughts going through her head? Now don't groan, I just want a few paragraphs, not a book!!

You'll have until two weeks from tonight, at midnight on Friday, October 15, to enter. The best two entries will receive supplies to make a small Halloween book. Each package will include:

Either the 5x7 inch spiral book above, with bats, a crow and fence on the brown cardboard cover and blank white pages, OR the 7x7 inch board book below. In this one, some pages, like the cover, have cutouts for photos or other images, and some of the pages are plain brown cardboard.


AND either these two sets of Halloween images from the great supplier Artchix Studios, above and below (the left side of the page below was cut off in my scanner, sorry!).


OR these two sets of Halloween images from Artchix, above and below.


AND two sets of Halloween papers (including squares of black). PLUS an assortment of Halloween stamps, a mini stamp pad, lettering, and some stickers. If you prefer to make ATCs (artist trading cards), I'm including a set of five blank ATC cards.

PLUS, since I am in a very happy, generous mood, I am going to hold a drawing as well, adding the names of EVERYONE who leaves a comment on this post. That winner will get the book Mary Engelbreit's Autumn and a few little treasures.

I hope everyone enters. The contest is open to residents of other countries as well. Let me know who is reading this blog. It will make a difference in whether I keep writing it or not!

Remember, the deadline is October 15 so I can mail your prize in plenty of time for Halloween.


sarah said...

hi julie! whether i win or not you have to know you still have one reader... me! i love your blog! your blog was one of the first i found when i started blogging two years ago, in my desperation to escape the reality that world had gone in a painful direction which was beyond my control... i read your every post! i have always been a realist and i must say somewhat of a control freak, in your posts i have learned the value of believing in something fantastical.... wait did that make sense? anyway i am a big fan and will be submitting a story for your picture...... thx i appreciate you!

Julie said...

Hi, Sarah,

I am so glad you are entering! My life has gone in a painful direction as well and only now, after two or three really awful years, things might be looking up! I wish the same for you!

Hugs, Julie

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

I always read your blog - love the info you provide and how thought provoking it is. I love that painting - I'll have to get busy and try and write up a story for it.

Annie Jeffries said...

Hi Julie,

I have serious catching up to do. After receiving your email last night, I put myself on hiatus so I could take care of the house (before Don gets home) and do some serious blog reading.

The inspiration painting is wonderful. I'm going to give this a whirl. Thanks for the long timeline. I'll probably spend the first week just scribbling ideas.

More later,

Kim Campbell said...

I still read and follow along! I need someway to find out how long I have been reading some of my blogger friends.....!

Shopgirl said...

You know that I love a good story... Looking back over the time I have followed your blog...I have learned so many things. I am so glad to know that you are in a happy place, and that this year you get to see and feel all the colors of fall.
I will try to make a story for this really special piece.
This will be fun. Your, Mary

Shopgirl said...

Guestion? Should I write the story on my blog and let you know it is there...How would you like this to be shared with you? Big Hugs, mary

Julie said...

Hi, Mary,

I'm so glad you're writing. Leave it in a comment here, please.

Thank you!

gma said...

Julie I have been a faithful reader and commenter since the time I found you on Daisy's blog. Love your posts and have learned much from you my special friend.

Shopgirl said...

Black Friday
In a small town called Back of the Moon USA, the Evans family have a Fall Ball. This is no ordinary gathering, young witches travel from far and near to be the one girl crowned Queen of All Hallows Eve. They are greeted by the host who is dressed in a long black cape with a hood that shades his face. One by one each girl is taken into the woods where a large black caldron is boiling top a flame that sends sparks high in the night sky. then like in a dream they dance around the caldron. The smell of sage, rosemary,lavender mixed with the burning wood fills the air. They spin, twirl, chant, sharing spells they had gleaned in their young life. As the glow of the fire grew higher into the sky you see thirteen girls each so lovely in their long white gossamer dresses.
Camelle with her long black hair. Her green eyes shining in the fire light.
Shavannah's cold blue eyes and soft blond hair that floated as she twirled.
Hannah's gray eyes with long spun gold hair.
Margaret's violet eyes that looked like amethyst and her red hair that touched the ground.
They are beautiful,
They are dangerous!
As the night turns to dust a choice is made. Gilda with her chestnut hair and cold black eyes is crowned Queen. When looking into her beautiful face she has a sadness there. Her eyes seemed to look within the soul. It was a celebration, a right of passage for this lovely young witch.
As we leave Back of the Moon, we find Gilda with her Black Cats that are now her Hand Maidens. Her unberella that will give her flight. Crows to deliver messages and direct Gilda to far away places. The mirror that is a window into the future as it reflects her beauty. Gilda is surround by secrets that are hidden till Black friday. So come close and hear me, Black Friday is drawing near. Watch the night sky, Gilda queen of the witches may appear.

Thank you Julie, this was fun...I hope others tell a story. And I hope this is what you wanted.
BOO! Mary

Julie said...


This is exactly what I was looking for! I'm glad you had fun. Readers - Mary needs competition. Please write your story!

Riverbird said...

I hope you keep writing, Julie! I've read your posts since I found your blog a few weeks ago. I will think about writing a story about the painting.

Sharon said...

Hi Julie: I've been checking in on your blog occasionally. I always enjoy looking at your vintage pics, photos, and reading your posts which are thought provoking and inspirational.
I shall try to write a short note about the lady.

Anonymous said...

Sharon Grant sent this entry to me via e-mail:

Hi Julie:

When I look at this pic, I sense that the lady is dressed up for an autumn costume party as a greek goddess due to her winged headpiece. In Victorian times, greek goddesses were all the current rage. Perhaps she was feeling very beautiful in her gauzy dress but is let down because it started to rain (as indicated by her holding the umbrella). In her frustration, she sat down in a chair in the hallway of her gothic mansion while waiting for her carriage.

You asked for short and sweet, so there you have it! Can you tell I read a lot of victorian romances in my younger days? LOL

Hope you are well and enjoy the beautiful autumn season.

Sharon Grant
Nova Scotia

Lila Rostenberg said...

Just leaving a comment to let you know that I still read your blog and love it!
I'm often behind, but I do check and read it!
Your giveaway is fun and generous, please don't put me in the drawing, as I have received wonderful goodies from you before...let someone else win!

Unknown said...

To Julie,
Hello, my name is Eleanor. I don’t use a blog, but I have been reading yours regularly since about six months ago. Please don’t stop yours now! I am 15 and I am from England so I am very interested in my country’s Celtic history, of which your blog is so very informative! I am currently reading “the Seven Daughters of Eve” from your earlier post about mitochondrial DNA. I also liked you last one about the Harvest celebrations, because I love Harvest festival best of all at my church! ugh, sorry to blab >.< Anyway, this is my chance to say that you have an “unofficial” reader – and no doubt many others like me who don’t blog! But I am worried that this “short story” is getting longer than you wanted…

Black Friday
Friday 13th October. Half of the village wanted their Halloween celebration early, but half thought that was tempting fate. Not after what had just happened. But in Freya’s opinion, what did it matter? She thought it was pointless to feel afraid of superstitions: that only caused bad luck. She was excited. Her sister Iris was upset. She had good reason to be, thought Freya to herself, as she got dressed in her best full white gown. Iris had been friends with the witch – although no-one ever said she was a witch. Violca White had seemed a pleasant, strong woman, but her gypsy blood always played the more dominant part of her. Freya was happy to visit her in her strange house and occasionally exchange conversation, but she was secretly glad when Violca had mysteriously disappeared just a few weeks ago – Iris wouldn’t be pulled down that road any longer. Some whispered she had run away as a hare into the fields, never to return. Some said she watched you pass her house as a raven. Most said she was dead.
“Where’s Iris?” Freya was asked by her maid as they descended the hill towards the celebrations, sprawled in the valley. There was a fine drizzle in the air, which lowered Freya’s spirits beneath her black umbrella. “Don’t know,” she muttered. “I couldn’t find my perfume.”
“I thought Iris had it.” Of course she did! And no doubt she had taken it to that witch’s house! Freya changed course abruptly. “But, miss, you’re not going to her house?”
Freya was already running. As soon as she stepped through the door, though, she found a ladder blocking her path. She scoffed quietly and ducker under, undeterred. It was cold inside, as if the autumn chill had crept in. The room was plain, save the dried herbs hanging from the ceiling and a chair beneath a grim mirror. By that was a shelf, and her perfume was sitting there, amongst skulls and pumpkins! But as she hurried across, there was a clatter to her left and something black fluttered in her face, herbs swinging wildly. Freya batted them off, gasping. Two birds had got in through the open window. Shaking, Freya closed it, and almost instantly felt drawn in by velvety warmth. She looked down. It was the black cat of Violca’s. She had seen it often around the village. But this time, there were two. Freya realised she had forgotten to shut her umbrella. How odd.
The chair. Not a day passed without Violca sitting in her chair. Now, it looked cold and empty. Freya sat down in it slowly. Around the walls were irises. She suspected the work of her sister; proud of her namesake, the Greek goddess of the rainbow, who beckoned the dead souls of women away. One of the cats leapt up to the arm, giving her a strangely hard stare. Freya caught sight of her face, pale and empty, in the mirror. But as she did so, she noticed the cat’s reflection turn its head, independent of its owner, fixing her in the gaze of three cats.
The witch wasn’t dead after all, thought Freya.

I hope this wasn’t too long! I like to write but cannot keep them short…

sarah said...

ok julie, i quick put something together... i have thought and thought about that beautiful image and wasn't sure where to go with it but here was what i jotted down tonight... at the last minute of course... (:

So I sit and wait
in my silver satin and lace
I try to think,
I just stare into space...

my head starts to spin,
in my green velvet chair
I try to pretend
I just don't care

my cats are with me
and they watch for
what is evil and scary
and only folklore

it's the fear of an end
I know the crows warn
but something must die
for one thing to be born

I'm a creator of life
I look at my flowers
but I have conjured death
I am not afraid of my powers

so where is he now?
How long must I wait?
Is this the death that I see?
Would this be called fate?

I took out my umbrella
but it wasn't enough
to shield me
from this emotional stuff

behind me I know
are my potions and spells
but nothing I could do
would equal his self made hells....

Good Luck Everyone!

sarah said...

hi again... yeah as an after thought... it occurred to me that i should credit your blog with my effort... i didn't understand "oops" ? should i remove the link i made to your blog? i follow two other writer's blogs, where we are weekly provided with a "prompt" to write about and then link back so other writer's can read what everyone else wrote... it's fun if you want to check them out i have buttons on my side bar... "monday's child" is childrens poetry i do with star. and "alphabe-thursday" is just fun... i have actually thought it might be a direction you want to go with your blog... i enjoyed writing for the piece you provided! i would have emailed you this note, but i didn't see an address... you have been in my thoughts... enjoy your weekend!.... blessings...s....

Julie said...


No, please don't remove the link. The "oops" meant I thought I had been careless and not read your post all the way to the end. Now I realize you added the final sentence later.