On March 31 of this year, Helen Mirren told reporter Sebastian Shakespeare of  The Daily Mail : “I’ll tell you what I had done recently, which I love — I got my eyebrows tattooed.”

“I was fed up of my brows barely being there and when one of my girlfriends got it done, I thought that they looked great.

“They’re very lightly and delicately done — but it means that when I get up in the morning and I have no make-up on, at least I have eyebrows.

“It’s made a huge difference.”

For the record, this (see below) is what La Grande Dame, Her Highness Helen was talking about when she said her eyebrows were “barely there“:

Photo credit: Russell Clisby

Me and Helen, we have the same problem, eyebrow-wise:

Well, we all know how much everyone here in VivianWorld loves, adores, and aspires to be like Helen Mirren, She Who Can Do No Wrong.

So I did it. After two months of dithering, I got my eyebrows tattooed.

It hurt.

I clutched/dig my fingernails into a stress ball and gritted my teeth during the worst of it (about 14 minutes in all, before the topical anesthesia is applied) and I made it through the entire procedure without screaming, which took 2 1/2 hours, which includes the lengthy paperwork (for New York state) and consultation during which I showed my esthetician, Christine, my Helen Mirren photo (same as above) and said, “I want her eyebrows.” Which I can’t have because my brow line is different, so I had to settle for Vivian Swift eyebrows.

Fun fact: Christine told me that human faces are asymmetrical, which is why you really do have a “good” side, and keeping that in mind she tries to make eyebrows that are also slightly asymmetrical to look more natural. She informed me that I, however, have an unusually non-asymmetrical face. So this is what I want on my tombstone:

Here lies Vivian. She was very symmetrical.

Barbra Streisand’s famous GOOD side. She is NEVER photographed from the other side.

You are warned that when you finish your first microblading (that’s eyebrow tattoo-talk) session to to be alarmed. Your brows will look unnaturally dark. Rest assured, the ink will settle and fade into a more natural hue after a few weeks, at which time you will go back for a touch-up to perfect get your final semi-permanent brows. After that, you’ll only need to stop by every year or two to keep the brows looking spiffy.But when I saw my new eyebrows I was horrified. I felt as if I was ready for a starring role in kabuki theater. Like I was wearing Halloween make up. My eyebrows looked ridiculous! I was aghast, but Christine swore to me that the brows looked great and that I would get used to them. I wondered, What on earth have I done to myself???

Later that day I had to drive to the train station to pick up Top Cat and I was still extremely self-conscious about these weird things on my forehead. I put on extra eye make up in order to off-set my jarring appearance in the hopes that when Top Cat saw the New Me, he would not tell me what I already knew: that I had made a terrible, terrible mistake.

So Top Cat gets in the car and he looks at me carefully, searchingly, and at last he says: “I don’t see any difference.”

That is why I love this man. OK, sure, he has stopped looking at me since we first met 15 years ago — that is, has not updated his mental image of me since 2003 — but at this point in life, I am grateful for that.

Of course I am going to show you the new eyebrows:

My hair is not having a good day.

It’s been two weeks now and I have come to love my new eyebrows. And perhaps not coincidentally, a few days ago a new acquaintance guessed that I was in my 40s and we were in a room with fluorescent lighting. It’s the eyebrows. They take 20 years off your face. Also, my hair was having a very good day. And maybe she was extremely bad at guessing people’s age. Still, I love having eyebrows. Thank you, Helen Mirren.

OK, now that the exciting part of this week’s blog is over, let me catch you all up on the used book store news: Remember my rainbow display from last week? (Hint — that’s it, below.)

As I was flummoxed about what books to put on either side of this display, I asked for your help last week and I appreciated your feedback, Dear Readers. The sum of your advise was for me to think more outside of cliche, so I looked all over our shelves for something word-associative to Gay Pride to use but, as Steve said, you have to work with what you have on hand, and we don’t have a lot of poetry or art books:

It’s a small used book store with limited shelf space. Sometimes we have no idea where a book should go to be with its own kind, so I have to get creative with the labels.

Well, it beats “Miscellaneous”.

And then the obvious hit me, and this is now what is on either side of our rainbow stacks of books:

The second-most interesting book donation that came in last week was this:

This book was published in 1988, which would disqualify it even if it wasn’t full of “quizzes” you can take to know whether or not you really love your boyfriend, or how much he respects you, or if you should just be friends with your crush, etc., all of which had already been filled in and scored (you see now that this is the kind of junk we get all the time) but good lord, I just looked it up on Amazon.com and the book is out-of-print and there are only 2 old copies of this book for sale, one for $1,009.00 and the other for $5,930. Can those prices be for real??

Anyhoo, I did not throw it out because I love the ’80s clothing on the cover. It made me hum Bananrama all afternoon. . .

I say it all the time. I miss the ’80s.

. . . and I also did not throw this book away because the cover (and spine) are a shade of green that I desperately needed for one of my rainbow stack of books. So a vintage copy of Girltalk About Guys is sitting on the mantel in the used book store of the William Cullen Bryant Library of Roslyn, NY, if anyone wants to buy it. I’ll sell it for cheap. $200. All proceeds benefit the library.

And before I go, I must say something about Anthony Bourdain.

I say it all the time. I miss Obama.

After he got famous with his book about the underbelly of the restaurant business, Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain could have settled for a TV show on the Food network, to coast on his 15 minutes of fame for the rest of his life. But no, he went in a totally unexpected direction, hitting the road with a camera crew, traveling for 250 days a year to experience life way, way, way off the beaten track, or in some overlooked corner of America that made our own backyard seem like a foreign country. And although I am not all that interested in food, and most of the stuff he ate disgusted me (I don’t think we should eat animals), I always enjoyed Anthony Bourdain’s smart and snide and funny and sincere interpretations of the taste, sounds, smells, and feelings of food and drink.

He was also a role model in that he showed me how to stay curious, how to engage with new experiences, and how to stay cool in your 60s. He was always willing to experiment with his own comfort level, and seemed committed to discovering something authentic in every encounter, which is such a high level of engagement with life that constantly inspired me.   I will miss him.

Have a great weekend, Dear Readers. May you do something completely out of the ordinary, and come back and tell us all about it.

 

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As I announced a while ago, I now have the unbearably glamorous volunteer job of co-managing a used book store here on the north shore of Long Island.

The wall clock stopped telling time about a decade ago, and the fireplace underneath it is used only for its mantel.

100% of our inventory of used books comes from donations…which means that we often get bag-loads of crap dumped on us, from people who think that “donations” is another word for “here, this stuff is now your problem.”

So I wrote up new guidelines:

Please, no college text books, water-damaged Philip Roth novels, spinning wheel repair manuals, baby raccoons, left-over lasagna, or out-of-state library books. Everything else between two covers is gladly and gratefully accepted.

The book store is in the front parlor (I like to think it used to be old Mrs. Valentine’s sitting room where she had tea parties during the Monroe administration) in the historic c. 1820 Valentine House in Roslyn, NY and all the money we make from selling used books goes to the local library.

As the enviously philanthropic volunteer co-manager of the Roslyn library used book store, I wield absolute power when it comes to deciding what to display on the fireplace mantel. Here’s the display I made in celebration of LGBTQ Pride Month:

The vertical rainbows are paperback, and the horizontal rainbows are hard-backs. I had the most trouble finding book covers in the color green. Judging by my inventory, green is the least-used color in book-binding.

We were also lacking inventory in green book covers because I had previously plundered our stock for my  own bookshelves:

The idea came to me on a slow day in the used-book selling world. It was also raining (which doesn’t bring in the punters) and I was hungry.

As you can see, my decor à live combines low and high culture…if indeed such a distinction can be made:

I confess that I am not tempted to read any of the books on display chez moi. I think that reading them would totally ruin them for me, as objets d’art, don’t you think?

I rather like the image of Light on Snow, and it makes me happy to imagine all the possibilities that might be contained in Anita Shreve’s novel. And look! Stacked as they are, they make a poem:

Light on Snow, Winter Study

Jem (and Sam)…

heart of the matter

This relates: The great novelist Vladimir Nabokov (so I’ve heard; I’ve never read any of his books) was teaching literature to undergraduates in Ithaca, New York when he wrote about a meeting he’d had with a student who was failing his class. In his diary, dated March 21, 1951, Nabokov wrote:

“the student explained to me me that when reading a novel (Ulysses, in this case) he likes to skip passages and pages so as to get his own idea, you know, about the book and not be influenced by the author.”

Nobaokov did  not record whether this kid made him laugh, or cry, or both.

There was plenty of space left on our book store mantel on either side of my rainbow display, and I searched for good LGBTQ titles but, this being a used book store, I had to go with what I had on hand.

I went with the most glamorous titles we had, because the New York Gay Pride Parade on June 24 will be amazingly glittery…but I’m still a teeny bit concerned that my intentions will be misinterpreted. Are there better topics other than Hollywood and royalty that I should have considered? Discuss.

And, as long as we are all sitting in a circle and having a chat, let us all congratulate Dear Reader Kirra from The Land of Oz, who is taking up residence in Salzburg, Austria next year. When she dropped that news on us last month, the first thing I thought was, Girl, you need a theme song.

Kirra, I’m talking to you from experience; you need to take a mixed tape with you to Salzburg so that you will play it over and over in your garrett, to become ingrained in your daily life, so that for ever more, when those songs come on the radio, you will be shot back to that special time and place with an intensity and recall that only music can trigger. Which I don’t have to tell you — you’re a music teacher.

You don’t have to decide right now what your theme song is, but you do have to have a play list that you will sing along with and remember home by and console and inspire yourself with, on all those nights and days in that foreign land.

Whenever I hear  Haven’t Got Time For The Pain by Carly Simon, or  The Last Time I Saw Richard by Joni Mitchell, or The Koln Concert by Keith Jarrett, I am instantly 22 again, living through one of the coldest Winters on record in Paris. Add a glass or two of wine to the soundtrack and I can re-play the entire year, all the sights and sounds and tastes and feelings. Oh, the misery and oh, the giddiness. Nothing will ever feel so bad and so good at the same time as being 22 years old in Paris, and nothing brings it back more vividly than this bunch of accidental theme songs. I want that for you, Kirra.

Speaking of Paris, the capital of France, I want to take this opportunity to whine about something that has always annoyed me about the book cover that Bloomsbury did for my book about France, called Le Road Trip:

THIS (above) is not what makes me unhappy about the cover. THIS (below) is what I can’t stand:

I pitched a fit when I saw this and I tried to get them to change it, but I was told that it was too late, the covers had already been printed. I absolutely and undyingly loathe the green lettering of the title because it’s an unattractive shade of green and because green makes no fucking sense. What makes it so maddening is that I was in on the editorial meetings when we discussed cover art and I specifiedthat the coloring on the spine should be blue, white, and red for obvious reasons:

Did the art director hand off this assignment to a beginner graphic artist who called in sick the day we sat around a big table in the conference room and discussed what I wanted? Or is the person who chose to go with this stupid green lettering just a terribledesigner? When you are designing something — anything — you have to consider every single itty bitty detail; you have to question every aspect, you have to know the reason for, and be able to justify, each of the countless small and large choice that you make.

Do you think that the great designer Marc Jacobs designs his lace overlay silk jacket and then lets an assistant choose the buttons?

The answer is, “No.”

I never, in a million years, would have chosen puke olive green for the spine lettering on a book about France. Every time I look at those stupid three words in shades of  scum I want to punch somebody. I have very little tolerance for shoddy thinking.

The Chinese and Korean editions of Le Road Trip didn’t go along with the blue, white, and red color palette either …

… but I wasn’t in on the editorial meetings so I’m OK with that.

Next post about my fabulous incarnation as a volunteer co-manager at the used book store will be all about the staff, all retirees, one of which who asked me, “Do we alphabetize our books by author, or by title?”

Or maybe we will discuss How I Never Want To Get Old And Stupid.

My Darling Readers, have a glittery, glitzy, stupidity-free weekend. May all your theme songs make you want to get up and dance, dance, dance!

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Darling Readers, before we get to our usual Friday examination of the fascinating details of our extraordinary life on Earth as we know it  (immediately following), I ask you to take a minute to read this. Because attention must be paid.

The world lost one of its greats this past week:

This is El Nino (in mid-yawn). El Nino was dropped off at a shelter in New Jersey about 15 years ago. He was already an adult male, and he had such a big personality, and demanded so much attention, that the staff there named him after a very troublesome weather system. He was funny, smart, happy, and supremely self-confident. He was greatly loved by all, but he didn’t “show well”, so  he remained unadopted week after week.

My sister Buffy was a volunteer at that shelter. She saved the lives of hundreds of homeless kitties and, long story short, she rescued the hard-to-place Nino, and sent him to me, and I cared for him for two or three (four?) years until our other sister Amy, who was living abroad but long last came “home” and met the inimitable El Nino, and she did her magic and miraculously matched this boy with his perfect, soul-to-soul, new-to-cats forever family because of a fabulous person she met in Ukraine (I know!). She insisted that this family adopt Nino; they met him; it was love at first sight.  They kept his name, El Nino, which I always thought was a hoot, as they are Indian-American.

Nobody ever loved a cat more than this family adored El Nino. They were devoted to him. My sisters and I, all cat ladies to the max, have never seen a family more spiritually and emotionally bonded with a cat than Nino’s people. They even published an annual calendar, 12 months of Nino.

Then Nino got old and his health became fragile, and in the past years, they did whatever it took to ensure his comfort — eventually they had to wake up every few hours in the middle of the night to give him his food and meds.

But last week, in the heart of his dear family and surrounded by their undying love, the mighty spirit that was El Nino was gently gathered to the ancestors. The news, from hundreds of miles away, has hit me and my sisters very hard. I am typing this through tears.  I know the loss of Nino devastates his family.

The message that we got from Nino’s people, which was full of their love and reverence,  ended: Please join us in praying for him, may his soul Rest In Peace.

Amen.

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And now you know why I love him:

Today this is not a boring watercolor blog. Today this is a fascinating philosophical blog in which we ponder new furniture, cats, and the randomness of life.

What got me thinking about new furniture and cats (it’s a twofer) is because, as you read last week, we got two new couches delivered to our house here on the north shore of Long Island, and the cats immediately made themselves comfortable:

Right. The upholstery of these couches (a fashionable tweed in shades of gray with contrasting piping)  will never see the light of day as long as this herd is in residence. We will remove the sheets when we entertain ..wait…I’m laughing too hard … because we “entertain” about three times a year … right: When we entertain, the sheets and the cats will be banished and it will appear, to all who enter, that Top Cat and I live a normal life with furniture fit for grown ups and a not-crazy number of pets. Keeping up appearances, and all that.

So far, the couches are just couches, and not the catalysts for a great change in life like my previous couch experience. That’s OK, I can be patient and let life unspool itself on its own terms but this I know: my choice of couch has put something in motion.

So, with notions of unforeseen consequences swirling in my head, that’s why this old review in the New York Times (I’m catching up on my reading) from May 7, 2017, resonated with me. The cover story is about Penelope Lively:

The British novelist Penelope Lively is fascinated by contingency — the idea that an entire life is shaped by small decisions that seem inconsequential at the time. In 2005, she published a sort of anti-memoir, “Making It Up,” in which she imagined all the different directions her life might have taken. What if she’d become an archaeologist? What if she’d married an American? What if she’d had an illegitimate child? Sitting in an upstairs room at her London house at the end of March, she said she still thought this way. “I have six grandchildren, in their early 20s,” she said, “and I look at them now and think they’re making the sort of decisions that are going to determine the rest of their lives. It’s quite alarming. But mercifully you don’t know that at the time.”

Does this strike a chord with you? Does this make you look back, and review your 20s, and speculate on the small choices that you made back then that had lasting, monumental repercussions? Because it did me. And I already knew the exact point when my life took off on a trajectory that, at the time, I was completely unaware of.

It was in 9th grade, when I decided that I was going to learn French in high school. I was pretty good at it, and then I went to Paris, and traveled in France, and picked up a lot more language, so that by the time I was 30 I was fluent. And my being able to speak French has totally changed my life, not least because back then, when people knew you spoke French, they assumed that you were far better educated, and not the hick that you actually were. I have leveraged my French language skills into life experiences that were far, far beyond my imagination back when I was a 13-year-old picking courses at Upper Moreland Junior High in Willow Grove, PA. All the way to West Africa, Buenos Aries, and Giverny.

I wonder if you, too, Dear Readers, looking back, can pinpoint a moment when you stepped down the road less travelled, chose the prize behind Door # 3, listened to your heart and not your head, or listened to your head and not your heart, and that — as the poet said — has made all the difference.

Today’s musings are dedicated to our Dear Reader Alex, who is at a crossroads. Which is a pretty cool place to be when you are at a time of life when you thought that crossroads were something that only happened when you were too dumb to know that you were at a crossroads.

What’s your story? If it wasn’t taking French I in 1969, what was it?

In the meantime, I was at the gym and this song came up on the huge video/speaker system and I loved it…although I was doing bicep curls at at the time and hating it, and this song gave me the oooopmph to pull through. These guys are new to me — are they new to you?

It also struck me as pertinent to this conversation (except for the contortionists in the video what is up with that?) that, When You Are Looking for A Way, Everything Becomes a Path (Alex, You Are Thunder):

Have a great weekend, everyone. Next week, we will have to discuss Kirra’s sabbatical to study music in Salzburg !!! and Elizabeth decamping to Morocco !!!…all you Dear Readers have such  interesting lives!!!

XXOO

 

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While I am sitting here waiting for our new couches to be delivered today I am thinking about the last time I got new furniture, and how it changed my life. It was back in the days when I was a reformed wanderer, having settled down into a quiet life in a small village on the Long Island Sound, collecting tea cups and making the diaries that would be the fodder for my first book.

Self Portrait of the Doodler-Diarist.

My cat, Woody Robinson, used to sit on the kitchen table with his head under the lamp shade.

As a reformed wanderer, I had come into my new life in a small village on the Long Island Sound pretty much empty-handed. I gradually acquired stuff, but I still lacked a couch after a year, so when my upstairs neighbor, Sid, moved out, he gave me his couch. It was a nice couch, covered in a nubby beige material.

The couch was already 10 years old, and Sid had a dog who used to sleep on the couch, and his cat, Malcolm, had died on that couch, but Sid had cleaned it up so as far as I was concerned, it was up to snuff. Yay! I had a couch!

A few years on, and the couch had become a little grimy, a bit worn, but I still liked the couch a lot. So I sewed a new cover for the couch. I didn’t have a pattern. I made it up as I went along.It took me 12 hours. I was very proud of myself when it was done.

Maybe you remember page 178 of the book I wrote about living a quiet life in a small village on the Long Island Sound, when I introduce Honey and Candy:

page 178 from When Wanderers Cease to Roam.

Here are the same Honey and Candy, on my couch, fitted with the cover I sewed for it:

(I still have the garden that I am embroidering in that last pic, with the help of Honey and Candy. Are they the cutest or what?)

But, skipping ahead a few more years, the couch had become ratty once again. And it smelled, from all the cats that had come and gone (I was in my cat-rescue days, and some cats were very stinky). And now, the couch that I had once loved so much that I spent 12 hours sewing a custom-made cover for it, that couch was not doing it for me anymore.

At the same time, I had also become stuck in quite a rut, life-wise. I felt that I was ready to move on from this incarnation of me, move on from my quiet life in a small village on the Long Island Sound, but I really had no idea how to do it without buying a one-way ticket to, oh, let’s say Argentina. Or Scotland. Or New Zealand tho that was a long shot.

The point is, I didn’t know how to move forward so I was stuck in an increasingly drab, small, and scuzzy life, and all my dithering and dead-end-ish-ness was made evident by my worst piece of furniture, my couch.

I wanted to get rid of the couch, but I was too stuck in my rut to have the where-with-all to do anything about it, so I just put a sheet over it and put off thinking about my crappy the couch and my life:

We pause here so I can tell the story of The List, which will become relevant to the couch in just a bit.

About the same time I was living with this couch that I was becoming more and more sick of, I wrote a short list of everything I wanted to in my life, on a Post-It, and I titled it: Things To Do Before I Die. I still have that Post-It.

It was a short list, just 4 things, all of which seemed impossible at the time:

  1. Write a book.
  2. Get it published.
  3. Get married.
  4. Kiss a tiger.

I have written about The List before, to tell you Dear Readers how  important it is to write things down if you want to realize your dreams. It was the writing of this list that made achieving everything on the list possible.

Everything except for kissing the tiger. I have learned that there is no ethical way to kiss a tiger  so I have banished that from The List. But the point is that I had made The List and The List had made it so that I have written a book, I have got it published, and I have married the prince charming of my dreams.

But what I never told you was that for two years after I wrote The List I was still in a slump, a funk, a rut, and I still had that awful couch. I had The List, but I didn’t know where to start.

And then on one ordinary day, in a blinding moment of clarity, I got up off my couch, went to the store, and I bought a new couch.

It was just that easy. And all this time, I had been dithering because I didn’t want to invest in a new couch, that I didn’t have the extra money, that it would be one more thing I would have to deal with, that it would present me with too many choices (none of which I wanted to make), that it would require complicated logistics that were beyond me, etc etc etc.

It was getting that new couch that kick-started my fate, that set in motion all the good things that happened to me that made it possible for me to complete The List  in five short years after I got the new couch.

All it took was something — anything — to start the chain reaction, and it turned out to be me getting a new couch.

See? The universe will reward you for getting up off your lazy ass, and making that one, lone, first, step towards your dreams. Any first step will do. You only have to lift one foot and put it in front of the other. You just have set things in motion.

I don’t have a picture of the new couch because very shortly after I got the new couch, I met Top Cat, my prince, and less than a year after that I gave my new couch away when I moved into Top Cat’s house to marry him, and he already had four couches. Plus, he had a room that I could call my own, where I wrote my first book, and my second, and my third. The fourth book is pending.

I had lived in that small village on the Long Island Sound for a total of ten years.

I’ve lived with Top Cat for 14 years now, and we finally replaced two of those couches of his, after dithering about it for a few years.

And it wasn’t until I was sitting here, waiting for the delivery of our new couches, that I remembered that I have been here before.

I don’t know about you, but at this stage in my life, I seem to want life to stay exactly the same (no more adding on of the birthdays, no scary diagnoses, no thinning of the cat herd), while at the same time I also want it to be as full of possibilities as it used to be, when it was possible to marry a prince and possible to beat the odds and accomplish a dream. I want stasis, but I want change too. Is that so hard?

Top Cat and I are ready  to move on, somewhere, somehow, even though we’ve got a house and four couches and a ton of cats to consider. Maybe it’s time to make a new List.

And then I’m giving these new couches a year to do their magic.

Have a great weekend, everyone. May you put something ridiculously fantastic in motion.

XXOO

 

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This is how I read the Sunday paper (New York Times, of course):

That’s a lot of cat on my lap. Cindy is the black kitty near my heart and that’s Lickety on my knees. It’s been chilly here on the north shore of Long Island so I was happy to have these feline warmers in the vicinity.

Last week Dear Reader Jeanie asked about the “dummy” books I make up to show publishers when I submit a book proposal.

Normally I only do the first three chapters for a dummy but since this book is so short, I am doing the entire book (which ends up being about the same size as three chapters from one of my usual illustrated travelogues).

First, I go to Staples and spend about an hour and a half/two hours making the color copies of all the illustrations I’ll need for the dummy. I must warn you, before we go too far, that making a dummy is incredibly, maximally, and moronically boring.

After I have all the necessary color copies (at 69 cents per scan, the cost adds up fast) I go home and get the paper cutter out.

I must cut down a pile of bond paper into the appropriate dimensions of my book, known in the book biz as the “trim size”. For this book, I’m doing an 8-inch x 8-inch square trim. (Cutting paper is really boring.)

I assemble omymaterials: the color copies and the print-out the text of the book, which will also be scissored into bits:

I work at my dining room table because it’s the biggest surface in the house:

I am gluing bits of text and bits of illustration onto each page, so I have to let them dry out before I go onto the next step.

About two hours later, when I have gone thru my original manuscript page by page, and replicated each page, page by page (which is very boring to do), I will have bits of illustration and text left over. This is because I will have forgotten to make a color copy of something, or I have changed my mind about an illustration and I will re-do it, or there is an error in the text that I only discovered at this late stage of the operation:

So, I will paint something new, and I’ll sit at the computer and fix the text, and I’ll print it out, and I’ll go back to Staples to get new color copies, and then I’m ready to finish this dummy.

Thank the lord for clear plastic sheet protectors. I buy them by the 100s, and they are what makes my “dummy” books possible. For this dummy, I have cut off the top three inches of each sheet protector so so that my 8-inch x 8-inch pages fit into them like they were custom-made.

Next, I load my pages into the sheet protectors:

That’s the original manuscript above, and my “dummy” replica below.

You have to remember to load each sheet protector with two pages, back-to-back, so that they can assemble into a verso and a recto when it all comes together. This part of the operation is both fiddly and boring, but at least it means that I am near the end!!

When I cut down the sheet protectors, cutting off the top three inches, I was left with only two binder holes in each sheet protector. So now I have to punch a new upper hole into each sheet:

This dummy takes 41 plastic sheet protectors, and punching through that heavy plastic on the margin 41 times hurts. But I have to do this because I’m using a two-prong Duo-tang thingy to bind my dummy:

I have to fiddle with the prongs because they don’t exactly match the holes in my truncated sheet protectors, but that’s  not a big deal:

In the end, I have a neatly-bound dummy:

This is what the dummy looks like from a side view:

All in, each dummy costs approx. $30.00 and takes four hours to copy, print, and assemble. If I knew how to do this electronically, I would — but I’ve never figured out how to use my scanner. And, since making these dummy books is how I’ve gotten all my book contracts,  I’m not going to fix what ain’t broke.

And now let’s talk about The Wedding.

Harry and Meghan are a beautiful couple and everyone wishes them a lifetime of love and happiness, except, it seems, the bride’s siblings. Their lovely half-sister is about to “marry up” — way, way, WAY up — and they can’t stand it.

I know it’s crass to talk about class but that is the crux of this story. For the half-siblings (none of whom seem to have a job) the resentments must be long-standing, probably starting from the time when Meghan began to get some fame and money in her acting career. But now that she’s marrying the most famous prince in the world and leaving them far, far behind, the difference in their fates must be driving them crazy. Last I heard, one of them has even staged a car accident in order to get some publicity and sympathy.

I guess we all have embarrassing relatives — even the British royals have a Nazi or two in the family and the divine Kate Middleton has that nutty Uncle Gary.

Meghan and Harry seem to be gracefully handling the fall-out from Ms. Markle “getting above her raising” , as they say in Appalachia, and which I did the day I left Pennsylvania for Paris, so me and her we have that in common.

I think Meghan and Harry will be good to and for each other and I wish them a beautiful wedding day.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and I hope it’s filled with pomp and circumstance and kitties on the lap and good cups of tea.

 

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Before we get to work today, I have to ask you all something.

On Thursday three Korean-Americans were released from captivity in North Korea and der Drumpf gave them a hero’s welcome at Andrews Air Force Base:

Greeting them on the tarmac der Drumpf said: ‘These are great people. Frankly … this is a special night for these three really great people.”

But wait. Doesn’t der Drumpf dislike people who get themselves captured?


Remember? When he was talking about John McCain’s captivity as a Prisoner of War in Hanoi, North Vietnam from 1967 – 1973?

I’m sure Sarah Huckabee Sanders can lie about explain it.

In the meantime, I have my own problems.

Remember how hard it was for me to get the watercolor paints to lie down the right way for a picture of Claude Monet’s famous Japanese bridge? After too many awful attempts to get those watercolors to behave, I finally settled for this:

Even though I was never 100% satisfied with the shape of these dried-up pools of water-soluble pigment, this is the image that I submitted to my agent when I gave her the completed manuscript of my Damn Monet Book because I just gave up. I truly, deeply, and madly did to want to ever, never paint that bridge again. Those railings are a horror to draw and to paint and I don’t like doing structures and there is a lot of structure in this, uh, structure.

Then this happened: Three and a half weeks ago I got on the scale at my gym and saw a number that I did not like. Immediate and drastic action was called for. OK, it was only 5 pounds (OK, 7 if I wanted the luxury of “wiggle room”; 10 if I want to be skinny but mean). I’ve been on an all-vegetable diet for 24 days and for the past week I’ve been off the booze to save calories so I thought what the hell: I’m having a pretty miserable life anyway, I might as well re-paint Monet’s damn Japanese bridge.

I intensely disliked having to draw the bridge and the vines, but I have to say that painting them was incredibly soothing. I like the safety of having to only stay within the lines.

Now for the dastardly blobby stuff that can so easily go all wrong:

Having survived this picture so far, I think it’s OK to draw in some background foliage (to be dealt with later):

I’ve mentioned before that I like it when pictures have a “bull’s-eye”. This picture’s bull’s eye is the glimpse of greenery that appears at the far end of the bridge:

Done:

Watercolor is different than oil paint (duh) in that you can’t paint light colors over dark ones, which means that sometimes you have to paint the foreground first, and then color-in the background:

I want to avoid the mistake I made in the all the previous pictures, in which all the backgrounds were too over-worked. I want to keep this picture light and easy:

The horizontal lines are wonky, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed later:

Let’s so if I can get away with going just a light wash for the floor boards of the bridge:

I’m using my trusty acrylic paint to get the saturated green-ness for the railings of Monet’s damn Japanese bridge:

In this picture the light is coming from the left-hand side, so it needs some brightness:

I am not good at doing illustrations that don’t go all the way to the edge. If there’s a technical term for that, I don’t know it. In photography it’s called a full bleed, but bleed already has a meaning in watercolor that isn’t about going all the way to the edge, so I doubt that it’s that.

Anyhoo, I wanted to do a soft-edged illustration here, which calls for a lot of self-control that I am not usually able to muster. But so far, it’s going OK here:

This (below) is what the picture looked like before I made corrections:

Well, actually, in addition to “corrections”, I had to rescue this picture by cutting out (with scissors) the foot path of the bridge and gluing in a new one because, nope, I could not get away with just doing a light wash there:

As of today (shortly before noon on Thursday, May 10) I have hit my 5-pound weight loss goal. At my age (62) it takes a lot to lose 5 pounds. I added 30 minutes of treadmill to my daily (M-F) workout and I ate a lot of cabbage stew and I substituted flavored rice cakes for Entenmann’s cookies and, as a last resort, I cut back on the wine. I also cheated. I made nachos at home on two occasions, and we got a very small pizza one night because I get extremely depressed when I have to live too long without pizza, and twice I went to a diner and had a grilled cheese sandwich. But still, the jeans feel a lot better and I’m hanging in there for 2 more pounds.

I was at my gym last week and I noticed that one of the trainers was giving a tour of the facilities to a new couple. I noticed them because the new couple were dressed as if they were ready to jump into the octagon, which was a little strange because they were not even members yet, and they were both in their late 60s (I’m guessing). The woman was wearing tights and a tank top and those fingerless leather gloves that weight lifters wear. She had a tan and fluffy blonde hair. I was thinking unkind thoughts about how some people over a certain age should know better, that when they think they look good, they should know that they actually only look good for their age when I heard the woman explain to the trainer: “I am very active. That’s why I’m so lithe.”

I adore this lady. I’m going to put that in the vault and keep it nice and shiny so it will always be a thing of beauty when I take it out to play with. I am sure that I’ve never heard a person use the word lithe in conversation before, so it takes someone really special to use such an arcane word to describe herself.

Taffy, being lithe on Monday.

Taffy, doing lithe on Tuesday.

Taffy, at his lithest on Wednesday.

We couldn’t do a Thursday taffy portrait because it got double-fleece and electric blankie cold again and a bit rainy.

Because of the weather I saw Avengers: Infinity War. I would have liked more Doctor Strange, and there is an awful lot of violence in it, but I thought the picture was dandy. Just goes to show you that movies are the premier art form.

Speaking of art, did you miss the Rockefeller estate sale at Christie’s New York?

That’s a shot of the Monet water lily picture that sold for $84.7 million on May 8, a new record for the artist.

Speaking of Monet, my agent got back to me about the  manuscript of my Damn Monet Book and she is very enthusiastic. We will submit to publishers in the next month or so, after I make more dummy books, which are a pain in the ass to compile.

Have a great weekend, everyone. May all your bridges be the kind of bridges that make life better, or span untroubled waters, or whatever it is that bridges could do that would make your life a wonder and make me sound wise by wishing that you all have those kinds of bridges to cross, or something. When you read this I will likely be drinking wine (finally) and feeling very at ease in the universe. I hope you do, too.

XXOO

 

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Yes, this is a boring watercolor blog and we will get around to discussing how I stole everything possible from Claude Monet for this week’s dabbling but, Dear Readers, you know we have to talk about the fire-breather in the room, Michelle Wolf.

Comedian Michelle Wolf did a 19-minute roast of Washington D.C.’s hack politicians, spineless journalists, and their pathetic enablers at last Sunday night’s White House Correspondents Dinner and she burned it to the ground. I watched the whole thing and I thought she was perfect. (Note: as of May 3, Michelle Wolf’s bit has been viewed on the C-Span site a record-breaking 4.4 million times. I think people pretty much like the way Michelle Wolf spoke truth to power.)

The best Twitter response I read, regarding the Republicans’ palpitations over the forcefulness of Michelle Wolf’s jokes (lordy and mercy me, the language!!) was: Relax Republicans. It’s just locker room talk.

The Republicans’ indignation is Fake News! Totally Fake!! It’s a witch hunt!!

My second-favorite joke of the evening was the one about lying’ sack o’ shit Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ that ended with the punch line “smokey eye”, which in case if you don’t know what a smokey eye is, it is this:

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The joke was about how she lies, and not about how ugly she is (inside and out). But it was interesting to note that when she appeared on Fox News four days later, on Thursday morning , she was not wearing her trade mark “smokey eye”:

If her lips are moving, she’s lying.

Do you think it’s because Sarah Huckabee Sanders just can’t face herself in the mirror any more?

Whatever. Like I mentioned, that “smokey eye” joke was my second-favorite part of Michelle Wolf’s routine. My first fave part of Michelle Wolf’s take-down was her several minute’s worth of material about how President der Drumpf is broke. I’m sure that her riffing on how little money der Drumpf  gets der Drumpf where it hurts him most. I LOVED it. She began:

“People call Trump names all the time. And look, I could call Trump a racist or a misogynist or xenophobic or unstable or incompetent or impotent. But he’s heard all of those, and he doesn’t care. So tonight, I’m going to try to make fun of the president in a new way, in a way that I think will really get him. Mr. President: I don’t think you’re very rich. Like, I think you might be rich in Idaho, but in New York you’re [only] doing fine.”

I have always maintained that der Drumpf is not nearly as rich as he has bullshitted everyone into believing he is, mostly because everything he does is penny-ante small-time cons, and because he was and talks like a poor person trying to act like he has money and getting all the tell-tale “tells” wrong. All that glitz, and bragging, and of course his fake Renoir:

The un-funny Fran Leibowitz got it right when she wrote “Trump is a poor person’s idea of what a rich person is.”

Milton Pedraza, chief executive of the Luxury Institute, a consultant to luxury brands, says that Trump is “A caricature of what wealth is — as opposed to what real wealth is,” and says Trump sold his cheap-ass “luxury” steaks, vodka, water, deodorant, university, ties, perfume, and etc. to those   “who didn’t know the difference.”

So, yeah, just because Sarah Huckabee Sanders is ugly doesn’t mean you can’t make jokes about how she much she lies. Because she is evil.

So let’s talk about something else near and dear to my heart: The Incredibly Persistent Pile of Snow.

I discovered this heap o’ snow on April 12 (in a very inconvenient parking lot at a shopping center here on the north shore of Long Island) when it was still bigger than my car. I was impressed! We had not had snow fall since April 1, when a modest one-day blizzard didn’t even stay long enough for me to get out the snow shovel.

I became strangely enamored of this pile of snow, with a fondness that I usually reserve for puppies and Pinot Grigio. So here’s how our fond affair went down last week:

April 29…does this pile of snow have the grit to make it into history?

 

April 30 (I am hoping for the best!)

 

May freaking First! Historic! I want to hug this pile of snow!

This Incredibly Persistent Pile of Snow deserves a close up:

This special pile of snow is about the size of a bread box, ha ha, nobody knows what a bread box is anymore.  It’s about the size of a boom box. Ha ha! Nobody knows what a boom box is any more! It’s about the size of a Selectric…OK, this is getting tedious.

I was rooting for this pile of sow. I was certain that this pile of snow had the Right Stuff, the gumption and the heart, to make it to May 2, and beyond.

So here’s what I found on May 2:

Let me explain that here on the North Shore of Long Island, we take pride in our parking lots. And truth to tell, that pile of snow was very daggy. There were candy wrappers and old newspapers and other bits of unsightly trash embedded in it, and yes, there was even a pair of socks mixed in there with the usual gravel bits and fir tree droppings:

The pair of socks, and I think that’s a chicken bone.

Well, of course the managers of this parking lot came in and cleared all that grunginess away. They also mulched the parking lot’s flowers beds. It’s a fancy parking lot.

So we will never know if our Incredibly Persistent Pile of Snow could have Gone All The Way. Sad!

Let’s let Bibs cheer us up:

The temperatures were soaring here on the North Shore of Long Island this past week and we were loving it. 90 degrees yesterday! Top Cat and I hauled the patio furniture out from storage, finally, and set up our kitchen patio, and Bibs was the only cat smart enough to make use of the fine weather.

We also wanted to put the Adirondack chairs out in the back yard, and position them for sun set watching, but I can’t sit on an Adirondack chair without having the padding of a nice cushion, and all our Adirondack chair cushions were being used (and abused):

Right. Let’s get down to business.

This:

This was an exercise I did just so I could find out how Claude Monet “did” weeping willows, because it’s different to how I “do” weeping willows and he’s  the most famous artist in the world so, like, I make it a point to steal from the best:

When you look closely at Monet’s weeping willow fronds, they are much more complex than you’d think:

On the whole, I think Monet’s brush strokes are very hammy and clumsy, but I have to admit that these lines are delicate and masterful. If I was going to copy them, the task would be as challenging as if I were forging his handwriting — these strokes are very personal and individual. And to think that he did this when he was well into his late 70s!

There was only one thing to do. I had to trace them:

And of course, this tracing is only the short-hand version of what Monet does. But that’s what I used when I painted my version of his Grand Decoration (now hanging in the Jeu de Paume in Paris).

And yes, there is a huge difference between Monet’s painting and my copy. It’s not easy to copy an oil painting in watercolor. And I rarely copy paintings. But it was very instructful to try to mimic Monet, and I have to say that I highly recommend it.

Meanwhile, on the den patio (we are a two-patio family) our neighbor’ cat, Dennis, is waiting for us to come out and play:

I love it that when Dennis saw me taking his picture from the den window, he decided to pose for me but, like, all non-chalant:

Have a great weekend, everyone. And if the latest outrage from der Drumpf leaves you feeling all chalant, take a tip from Taffy:

Keep Calm and go for a roll in the dirt. Or go for a glass of wine. Wine is good, too.

Memes stolen from Yellow Dog Granny @ Blogspot.com.

 

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Yes, this is still ab boring watercolor blog so for deep artistic reasons, we will be rescuing this watercolor illustration this week . . .

. . . but only after a bit of digression [cats].

I looked out of my upstairs bathroom window a few days ago and I saw this:

That’s Taffy and his arch enemy, Bibs, napping together in the crevice that forms where the roof of the garage meets the back wall of our shed. This crevice traps a lot of dead leaves that blow out of that little woods behind our house and I guess they make a nice cushion to sleep on. I haven’t seen Taffy up there for years — but his mother, Candy, used to take him up there with his two brothers when they were kittens, and spend the day in hiding (from the big mean people who wanted to love them too much, that is, ME).

As you can see, nothing interesting is going on in the little woods behind our house, but the end of our street is pretty happening:

Spring is over-rated. I think blooming trees look trashy, and the weather is always, always a disappointment. So it was sunny for a day. Big fucking whoop.

Rather than moon about the buds and green things shooting out of the earth, I am becoming obsessed with the last pile of snow on the north shore of Long Island, which looked like this when we got back from New Orleans last week:

On Tuesday it looked like this:

And today, Thursday morning, it looks like this (car shown for size reference):

In another sign of the times, our front yard cat, Steve, has moved out of his Winter headquarters under the holly tree on the side of our stoop and settled into his Spring pied-à-terre behind the other holly tree on the other side of the porch:

His new spot catches wonderful morning sun (which Steve adores) now that the earth has done its seasonal tilt on its axis. I leaned an old storm window against the house so that, if it rains, the storm window keeps Steve and his straw nest nice and dry:

You all know that I am a life-long Cat Lady, but lately I have been thinking, and thinking hard, about getting another DoG. So naturally, this book came my way (Thank you, Universe):

This is a delightful book of essays by Delia Ephron about a handful of topics including the four listed in the title. The short essays are entertaining, but the long ones are magnificent. If you want to write, you owe it to yourself to read this book because the way she captures her distinct voice is masterful.

The long essay titled Why I Can’t Write About My Mother shows what I mean when I say she captures her singular voice so expertly. Read this essay closely and you will understand that Delia Ephron has an exquisite understanding of the way her mind works, and she has the supreme skill to get her thought process — and no, she does not transcribe it — on the page. She writes good, solid, short sentences that still whack you over the head with style and emotion. And watch how her paragraphs seem to wander away from their starting points, and how they widen the scope of the subject, all while never really straying all that far from the true heart of the matter. Talk about control!

Delia Ephron wrote movies and a play with her sister, Nora, and she really loves her DoG, Honey, who is as cute as all get-out:

When I was googling the interwebs for an image of the Sister Mother Husband Dog book cover, I came across this:

Proof that I have the best damn readers in bookdom: you, Dear Readers, can write rings around this lady and yOU DO, every week. XXOO.

This is a terrible thing to tell an author — that you “passed around” one book among several people. That is like telling an office worker she is only going to be paid one hour out of every four that she works. Well, that’s an imperfect comparison, but you get my drift:  An author wants to hear that you bought her book to give to the several people you wanted to share it with. Jeeze. Christy Childers is the name of the woman who posts her crappy postcards on the inter webs. I am not a fan.

But that’s just me, hating my life as a writer this week. It’s been eight days since my agent emailed me to say that she got my manuscript and it looked beautiful, but she would read it more carefully that night and get back to me.

Eight days.

It feels like eight weeks. Each day that I don’t hear from her, I am convinced she hates my manuscript more than she did the day before and that she hates me more and more each day and that I should retire from writing and go get useful job in a donut shop. And then I spiral downwards and sock away a third vodka on the rocks.

Last week I read something about how much damage plastic straws do to the environment, so I started to re-use my straws. The one that is currently in the lowball glass on the kitchen windowsill that awaits tonight’s pour has been in use since Sunday. (You’re welcome, Earth.)

OK, let’s get to the real reason you all have gathered here this Friday. Let’s rescue a watercolor!

There is nothing wrong with this picture (of Claude Monet’s lily pond in his famous water garden in Giverny, France) except that it has four corners. You know how I am trying to bust out of the four-cornered illustration? So I was looking at this rectangular picture and I thought it needed this:

Of course you can’t understand what those scribbles mean because , well, look at that mess; but you can see that I want to add something to that upper left hand area and add two extra corners, which I begin comme ça:

Imagine my surprise. I got the tone of the blues, greens, and yellow correct on the first try. So I continue to blob in the background foliage:

I am a huuuuuuge fan of letting the watercolor bleed into interesting splotches, so this is how I got the “pond” area soaking wet (but not too wet) and dropped in some contrasting color, and then I waited for it all to dry:

YES!!! I love that big bleed! And it works well with the already existing bleed. Yay. The hardest part is done. The rest of this rescue should be nothing but fun fun fun.

If you look closely, however, you can see that part of this beautiful bleed abuts abruptly and noticeably against a darker bit of splotch, which I will have to rectify:

I have to paint in a matching splotch:

And because the water lily pads did not exactly match up, I painted and cut out teeny little pads that I glued in, to act like sutures to the two parts of this illustration:

Cropped and ready for its close-up — and yes, you can see the “scar” between the original painting and the addition:

This will magically disappear when the printer scans it and cleans it up, much like I have done (see below) using the app that comes with iPhoto:

But we are not there yet — remember my sketch?

That scribble was all about a weeping willow tree that I wanted to introduce to the left hand side of the illustration. But I’m not totally committed to that idea, so to test it I paint and cut out a tree trunk and place it appropriately:

You might recall that I did a whole thing about the weeping willows in the Square du Vert-Galant garden on the tip of the Ile de la Cité in the middle of the Seine River in Paris in my book Gardens of Awe and Folly:

So I do know my way around a willow tree. But for Monet’s garden, I looked at Monet’s own use of the tree as a foreground device:

Here’s how I try out an idea on a finished painting: I slip the painting inside a clear plastic sheet protector and I paint on the plastic surface. In this case, I painted in the willow tree wisps in white acrylic paint (because water color does not apply to a plastic surface) and let dry. Then I painted over the white acrylic with my watercolors:

So now I got an idea of how my willow tree idea will go over:

I’m undecided. I don’t want this picture to look too busy. But I kind of like having that tree in the view. Whether the willow tree stays or not, I am cropping the illustration like this:

I might be too much in love with those bleeds to hide them with willow leaves, which might not be the best thing for this picture. Maybe it does need that foreground tree. I will dither over this indefinitely. I would appreciate your opinions.

As I type this, der Drumpf has spent the morning on Fox TV, admitting that he lied about his knowledge of the hush money paid to Stormy Daniels, although he claimed that Michael Cohen only represented him in a tiny fraction of his business dealings. Oh, you have to love an imbecile such as Drumpf:

The problem with Trump’s claim that Cohen only dealt with a small part of his legal work is that it dramatically complicates his lawyers’ efforts to shield documents seized in FBI raids under the guise of “attorney-client privilege.” And it proves that he lied about the pay-off when he stated, on Air Force One ON TAPE that he knew nothing about it.

He also admitted that he didn’t get Melania a gift for her birthday today, but he did get her a really nice card. Well…that’s what you get when you marry for money, honey.

Here is another quote from der Drumpf’s bloviation on Fox TV:

“I’m fighting a battle against a horrible group of deep-seated people, drain the swamp, that are coming up with all sorts of phony charges against me, and they’re not bringing up real charges against the other side.”

The way Dumpf drops in that slogan — drain the swamp — out of nowhere . . . that is hilarious, and classic Drumpfery. Equally enjoyable was seeing the terrified looks on the faces of the sycophants of his Fox & Friends as they realized that letting Drumpf prattle on and on was not a good idea after all.

Another unhinged quote, this time about Mr. Meuller’s investigation at the FBI:

 “If you take a look, they’re so conflicted, the people that are doing the investigation, you have 13 people that are Democrats, you have Hillary Clinton people, you have people that worked on Hillary Clinton’s foundation. I don’t mean Democrats, I mean, like, the real deal.”

Like, I hope Fox & Friends invites him back real soon. It makes me happy when the world gets to hear Drumpf  doing Drumpf.

It makes me this happy:

Have a happy weekend, everyone. Re-use the plastic straws in your tipple; tune in to the Today Show on Monday morning, April 30, to feast your eyes on a pair of Brit vegans who going to show us all how to cook delicious vegetable-based food and save the world; and please go find your patch of dirt in the sun and have a good roll.

XXOO

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If the measure of the greatness of a get-away is how disgruntled you feel when you have to leave Vacationland and return to your regular life. . .

. . . then last week’s trip to New Orleans was très, très bien. Top Cat and I made our annual pilgrimage to our favorite American city for a five-day examination of how much better life would be if we spent more time laissez les bons temps rouler and less time being cold and worrying about the economy.

It’s been a cold Spring here on the north shore of Long Island, and we are at the age when we obsess over the resale value of the house.

I’m a better person when I’m warm. I bet that’s true of most people.

There are three New Orleans buttons under the “Categories” list for this blog, so if you are interested you can click onto one of them and square it (as in times-two it; this year’s trip was the best ever) which will save me from boring you with a re-cap EXCEPT FOR THIS AWESOME CAT PHOTO:

Photo taken at the open door of an antiques shop on Royal Street in the French Quarter.

In case you can’t read the message on the white pieces of paper taped into the objects on the table and bureau, it says:

Please Do Not Pet The Cats.

But I did anyway because the orange guy strolled over to me and obviously expected homage.

Speaking of homage . .

. . . in my on-going watchfulness of der Drumpf’s latest stupidity, I have to say that I am surprised that I am the only reporter, so far, who has noticed that our POSus has revealed his ignorance of English as a spoken language in his announcement of his appointment of Mike Pompeo as the new Sect’y of State, saying that Mike will be “one of the greatest secretary of states” ever.

Maybe I am too delicate for this world, but: even I know that the plural of Secretary of State is on the first noun. . . not the second. To me — the original Princess and the Pea — I find it as grating as when people use the improper past participle of “to go”.

Funny story about that (the proper conjugation of “to go”): when I was a mere lass in the middle 1970s struggling my way out of the working class into the low-middle bourgeoisie by taking courses at the local community college, I exchanged chit chat with a rather pompous young man who informed me that he was only amusing himself with night classes amount the proletariat because, and I will never forget this, he said: “I have already went to college.

I wonder what that guy is doing now, besides voting for der Drumpf.

You might have missed the news that assemblage artist La Wilson died on March 30. You can read an excellent and short account of er life and career here.

I became aware of La Wison’s work in the early 1990s, when she was quite the thing in the art world, especially as she was a woman who had come into her own at a rather late date (she was 62 when her career took off).

John Davis Gallery

I respect her for staying true to her instincts, year after year; and for her expeditious shuffling off of this mortal coil (that’s how I want to go).

John Davis Gallery

But her work makes me want to turn all little sister in Strictly Ballroom and chide her for a bit of musicality, please!

Akron Art Museum

I cannot say what lifts La Wilson’s work over all the other Joseph Cornell imitators, but then I am quite the dunce when it comes to deducing museum-quality art. But to my eye, Joseph Cornell’s work conveys a sense of a personal mythology at work, which is to say that his boxes seem (to me) to contain stories that are told all at once, in a whispered language that we can’t quite hear, which gives them their powerful mystery and appeal.

Joseph Cornell

Joseph Cornell

Joseph Cornell

La Wilson is quite clear that the objects that she uses are purposely devoid of meaning to her. They are formal elements only, pure shape or color — and you can see that her work is more mathematical and emotionless. Oh well.

I’ve never done an “assemblage”, but I wonder, seriously, How hard can it be?

I have sent my fully completed, 48-page dummy book to my agent . . .

. . . so I have time on my hands while I await her feedback. I might give “assemblage” a go. I did some 3-D collages a long time ago . . .

1996; the quote is from W. B. Yeats.

. . . so I think I can handle the “thing-ness” nature of the art form.

If you have done “assemblage”, please let me know about the experience. How hard was it?

And that’s all I got this week, which is yet another cold, gray, harsh see of days on the north shore of Long Island. I have (in the vault) a watercolor quasi-rescue that I have not yet gotten around to showing you which is on schedule for next Friday so be warned.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

And may there be a huge-ass assemblage of sex scandal and dope deal gone wrong and Planned Parenthood affiliation in Sean Hannity’s past that his non-lawyer Michael Cohen will be obligated to testify about in all our near futures.

XXOO

Australians: Sean Hannity spews false and evil propaganda on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News.I know Rupert is not your fault but, still . . . please send your surplus of flesh-eating ulcers his way.

Jeanie, this is for you:

Taffy and Bibs, who can not stand each other but cannot stand to be out of sight of one another. Is this love?

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