Category Archives: legend

Universal Fun!


by Lillian Csernica on June 24, 2017

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Tomorrow John and I will fly down to Los Angeles and spend a few days enjoying the wonders of Universal Studios Hollywood.

John has been talking about seeing Universal Studios ever since he first heard about it many years ago. Chris and I decided that a trip to this previously unexplored land of movie magic makes the perfect graduation gift for our boy.

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John and I have studied the map. We’ve discussed what we each want to see the most. Today we’ve been packing our bags. Tomorrow we take our first plane trip together. I’m pretty sure what John is looking forward to the most is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

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Me, I’m looking forward to the air conditioning on the plane, at the hotel, and on many of the rides. I’m not a big fan of heat, preferring autumn and winter to summer. I suppose this is an indicator of my advancing years. Insane roller coasters are great, but they lost their appeal for me after I reached my late twenties.

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Even so, I can’t wait to watch the Special Effects Show with John, to get silly in the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem area, and probably scream at least once on the Jurassic Park ride. Best of all, I finally get to drink butter beer and hang out at Ollivander’s where Harry Potter’s wand chose him!

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My grandfather worked in the movies. My mother has appeared as an extra in several. I did some writing for the movies, once upon a time. And now my son loves movies just as much as the previous generations in our family have.

Watch for my trip report once we’re home again!

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Z is for Zoo (Art Nouveau – #AtoZChallenge)


by Lillian Csernica on April 30, 2017

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And so we come to the final letter in the A to Z Challenge. I have chosen Zoo in order to present some of the gorgeous but less commonly seen creatures that have inspired works of Art Nouveau craftsmanship.

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Jugendstil Eagle Pendant

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Cat Purse Pendant. Silver plique-a-jour enamel. Meyer and Meyle, circa 1900.

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A silver, pearl, and plique-à-jour enamel pendant modeled as a duck in flight, by Meyle & Mayer, circa 1900.

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Sterling Silver Art Nouveau Frog Brooch.

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Art Nouveau Cat Comb

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Art Nouveau Horse Pendant. Vintage Brass.

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Les Trois Crabes – An important Art Nouveau brooch, by Georges Fouquet. Composed of gold, plique-à-jour enamel, diamonds and pearl. Signed GF twice on brooch frame and pin. French, circa 1900.

Creatures of mythology also figure prominently in art nouveau motifs.

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18k Art Nouveau Dragon Pendant.

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“Gargoyle” pendant/brooch. Gold, enamel, baroque pearl. Rene Lalique, 1989.

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French carved gold and diamond gryphon brooch.

Thank you so much for joining me on this adventure into the world of Art Nouveau. I’m very grateful for your likes, comments, and follows.

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G is for Goddess (Art Nouveau – #AtoZChallenge)


by Lillian Csernica on April 8, 2017

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I’ve had a lifelong interest in mythology, and Greek mythology in particular. Another abundant theme in Art Nouveau is the female form, presented in profile, the face as centerpiece, a maiden in Nature, and of course, the main Goddesses.

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Antique sterling art nouveau locket — large size with repousse Greek Goddess of the Night Nyx. Depicts owl, moon, stars, torch.

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Nike, Goddess of Victory

Gold and enamel, diamond, ruby, pearl and carved opal.

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Zeus and Hera, in gold and sapphire.

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Diana, goddess of the hunt. Brass plated in antique gold. Fine bronze filigree encases the black and ivory cameo. The pendant is decorated with Swarovski opal stones and a black diamond Czech crystal drop.

The Goddess Ceres. Peachy-pink coral, 14k gold with thistle motif.

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Head of the Gorgon Medusa, late 19th Century, Czechoslovakia. The brooch is made of gold, jasper, and pearl. (I include Medusa here because A) some consider her the Goddess of PMS, and B) this is a singular piece.)

This piece of the “Sacred Fire Odyssey” collection represents Vesta, the Goddess of Fire. For me, this is one of Rene Lalique’s supreme creations. From Lalique:

“The majestic, Fine Jewellery Vesta necklace is a perfect demonstration of the House’s craftsmanship and its emblematic jeweller features: a piece that adapts to four different wearing styles, including necklace, brooch or pendant, and the famous mixed-materials technique introduced by René Lalique, in which the precious and non-precious combinations serve the beauty of the motif – a fusion of gold, sapphire, diamond, fire opal, moonstone, engraved mother-of-pearl, cloisonné enamel and crystal.”

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Santa Claus Needs You!


by Lillian Csernica on December 5, 2016

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The letters to Santa Claus have begun to arrive. Right after Thanksgiving, I let the local post offices know that once again I’d be ready, willing, and able to join the network of Volunteer Elves all over the U.S.  We answer the letters children write to Santa Claus. We help keep the magic of childhood bright and sparkling.

If you believed in Santa Claus when you were little, please consider lending a hand this holiday season. There are always more letters than there are volunteers available to answer them. Would you like to know how much joy a letter from Santa Claus can bring? Let me share with you some moments from the more than ten years I’ve been answering these letters.

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One young lady asked for a gift certificate to a local bookstore. I called the bookstore, explained myself as a volunteer with my local post office, then told the clerk about this very specific request. Would the bookstore be interested in make a donation? The manager asked me to come on over and bring the letter with me. The result? The store donated a gift certificate for the full amount.

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Another young lady appealed to Santa Claus to help her convince the kids at school who kept telling her Santa didn’t really exist. Would Santa please send her some sleigh bells so she could prove to her classmates Santa Claus is real? I found two jingle bells, one large, one small, that looked a bit weathered and put them in a padded envelope along with Santa’s reply to the young lady’s letter. A few days later, my mail carrier brought me a note addressed to “The Post Office Santa Claus” from this young lady’s parents. It said, “Thank you so much for keeping our daughter’s dream and belief alive. WE LOVE YOU!”

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One year a letter came from two kindergarten age children, a brother and sister who included their school photos. It was clear to me that an adult had helped write the letter. The kids wanted Santa Claus to know that their family had just received housing assistance, so they were going to be moving. They were worried that Santa wouldn’t know where to find them on Christmas Eve. The children each asked for a single toy. Would Santa please bring their mother something nice, maybe perfume?

Thanks to the help of some enthusiastic postal workers, a very generous toy store, and my long-suffering and very supportive husband, we delivered two large, brightly wrapped gifts to the children’s home while the kids and their mother were out looking at Christmas decorations. Grandma was there baking pies. I discovered she’d been the one to help the kids write their letter. They watched a TV show about the people who volunteer to answer letters written to Santa. The little boy had asked Grandma if she thought Santa Claus really would answer their letter. Grandma suggested they give it a try.

One of the happiest moments of my life will always be the way Grandma burst into tears when we brought in the gifts for her grandchildren. I apologized for not knowing what perfume might be best for their mother, since so many people have allergies. Grandma said that didn’t matter. The best gift we could have brought Mom was how happy the kids would be when Grandma told them Santa’s elves had not just answered their letter but made a special trip to bring them their presents.

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Be a part of the magic. Stop by your local post office. I know more than a few mail carriers who have been the ones to answer the letters they pick up on their routes. The Post Office provides a starter kit, and there are lots of examples and suggestions online.

Happy Holidays!

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After the Happily Ever After


by Lillian Csernica on October 16, 2016

Today is a very exciting day for me!

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After the Happily Ever After: a collection of fractured fairy tales is a massive anthology that features more than seventy stories that transform the well-known and strange fables into sweeter, darker, and more fantastical tales. These certainly aren’t the stories we grew up with.

Please take a look at the gorgeous book trailer the wonderful folks at Transmundane Press have put together. On behalf of all my fellow contributors, let me say we appreciate your support!

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99 Cents Sale!


Thinking Ink Press, the publisher of Thirty Days Later, Steaming Forward: 30 Adventures in Time” is putting the Kindle version of the anthology on sale for 99 cents! This is a limited time sale, just until September 7th. Get your Harry Turtledove fix for under a buck!

via Sale on Thirty Days Later — Welcome to the Treehouse!

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“Fallen Idol” now available!


by Lillian Csernica on April 17, 2016

Once upon a time, this was my first fiction sale.  Many thanks to Michael A. Willis and all the folks at Digital Fiction Publications for bringing this story to you in digital format.

Click here for a sample!

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F is for Folk Art


by Lillian Csernica on April 7, 2016

 

MEXICO

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One of the aspects of traveling in Mexico I really enjoy is the vibrant color to be found in the clothing, the flowers, and especially in the art.  I’m a big fan of El Dia de Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.  The folk art and pop art imagery that has arisen from the traditional El Dia De Los Muertos decorations, sugar skulls, etc. is, if you’ll pardon the expression, positively alive with color!

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BELGIUM

I passed through Belgium on my way from the Netherlands to France.  That took me through the northern part of the country.  Belgium is lovely, and in the summer it’s quite sunny and green.  Most of the tourism in Belgium happens in the south, so I myself was something of an oddity as a lone American teenager riding along with a bus tour of Dutch folks!  You know how much I love history, so here are some fascinating facts about Belgian folk art and handicrafts.

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From Countries and Their Cultures:

Wooden shoes called sabots (Walloon) or klompen (Flemish) were traditional footwear for men, women, and children. Like the people of Belgium, they wore these shoes outdoors; they were left by the door when entering the house. Some immigrants brought the knowledge and the tools for making wooden shoes with them from Belgium. Belgian Americans who could afford them wore wooden shoes decorated with carvings of leaves and flowers. Children sometimes used their wooden shoes as skates or sleds. The early immigrants were usually clothed in homespun cloth and caps. Belgian lace, the fine handwork which originated in sixteenth-century Flanders, was often used to trim religious vestments, altar cloths, handkerchiefs, table cloths, napkins, and bed linens. This fine art was practiced by Belgian immigrants in every area of settlement in the United States. When celebrating the Kermiss, which is a Belgian harvest festival, the organizers of the Kermiss wore red, white, and blue sashes while leading the people of the community in a procession to the church to give thanks.

Pennsylvania, UNITED STATES

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Pennsylvania Dutch folk art is often referred to as “hex signs.”  People who live on working farms have a lot to be worried about, from crop failure to cattle disease to the illnesses that plague human beings.  It’s no wonder these good luck charms and protective symbols came into being.  Painting one’s barn led naturally to decorating it as well.  There is some controversy about whether or not these hex signs have any actual talismanic power.

My mother-in-law lives in New Jersey.  At one time she was right across the Delaware from Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  On one of our visits to her, my husband and I bought this particular hex sign:

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Doves, heart, tulip = Peace, Love, Faith

 

 

 JAPAN

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Kokeshi dolls are everywhere in Japan.  On the Sannen-zaka, the outdoor shopping mall that leads to Kiyomizudera, there were several shops that sold kokeshi dolls.  The variety is staggering!  I was so amazed by all the sizes and the designs I could not decide on a favorite.  I had much the same dilemma when looking over all the maneki neko, or good luck cats, available.  (Upon reflection I do wish I’d bought the good luck cat lying there on its back as if asking for a tummy rub!)

The history of kokeshi dolls

 

 

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D is for Drinkable


by Lillian Csernica on April 5, 2016

In my many travels I have encountered a variety of drinks.  Here are a few of the more entertaining beverages, notable for both their flavors and the stories that go with them.

 

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Apple jack or Apfeljack — During my visit to the Netherlands, my host sisters and I would spend Thursday nights at the disco in the next city.  The cover charge included a two drink minimum.  In late June the Netherlands can still feel like November in California, so my preferred drink would be apple jack.  I strongly suspect the drinks were watered, which was probably a good thing.  One night somebody told me a particular guy wanted to dance with me.  Turns out he was a big, gorgeous Dutch soldier who had just turned 18.  Andre and I enjoyed more than one dance.  I tell you, apple jack makes for excellent antifreeze when you’re running to catch the last train home!

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Bottled water — These days you see people carrying spiffy personalized water bottles all the time.  When I was in Paris, this was a strange sight.  I chalked it up to one more thing the Europeans did differently than people from the U.S.  When it comes to “sparkling water,” that does make a good alternative to soda if you like the fizz and don’t want the sugar.  As I continue to battle my Coca-Cola addiction, sparkling water is my friend!

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Dragon’s Breath — There are so many recipes and so many individual variations that I can only point you to Google.  Back in the days when I was working at the Renaissance Faire, before I got married, I had a close encounter of the personal kind with a homemade liqueur named Dragon’s Breath.  In those days I worked for a jeweler.  Our booth was set up right next to the legendary Cardiff Rose, the fencing booth designed to look like a privateer vessel.  One day a pirate privateer came calling with a jug of Dragon’s Breath.  I knew the fellow by sight as one of our Faire neighbors, so I felt fairly safe in taking a swig of the brew in the ceramic jug.  Oh my stars and garters!  Imagine mulled wine with a good dose of brandy.  Before my shock could fade, said privateer grabbed me and kissed me.  Ever chewed a peppermint or cinnamon candy then inhaled really fast?  The kiss felt a whole lot like that!

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Melon soda — I first encountered this divine beverage at the Toei Kyoto Studio Park.  It came with the meal I ordered at one of the park’s restaurants.  Not overly sweet, similar to honeydew melon, and even better when made into a float with vanilla ice cream.  Bonus: the melon soda came in a souvenir mug shaped like the hanging paper lanterns that decorated the Park.  The Park’s name and logo are written on the side in kanji.

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Seattle microbrews — My latest trip to Seattle for Norwescon 39 featured a pumpkin beer party that also furthered my acquaintance with a few more of the spectacular microbrews of the city known mainly for coffee.  I regret not writing down the names of each beer.  One tasted of coffee and hazelnuts, much to my delight.  Another had plenty of ginger.  A strong, bitter brew left me thirsty for plain water.  I’m just happy nobody took photos of me there.  The dress code required me to borrow a helmet made from half a pumpkin with some horns stuck into it!

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B is for Brick


by Lillian Csernica on April 2, 2016

I spent a day in Hamburg, Germany.  By a random twist of Fate, I turned left out of the train station.

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Had I turned right, I would have been caught up in all the glitz and prepackaged “German experience” for tourists.  Going left took me into the areas populated by the local folks.  This included a corner market, a delightful bakery, and a beautiful little church built from brick.

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There are two large churches in Hamburg also built from brick.

 This is the church of St. Peter, which dates all the way back to the 11th Century.

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This is the church of St. Catherine, dating from the 13th Century.

Amazing, isn’t it, that brick could last a thousand years?

 If you ever get the chance to go to Germany, do it.  I took the train there (this was the same summer I spent in the Netherlands), so I watched the landscape rolling by.  Fairy tale beautiful, I swear.  B also stands for the Black Forest, home of so much legend and folklore!

 

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