November 2017

We might do some painting today. . .

. . . but you know the rule here: Lead With The Cats.

You all remember Mr. Fluffy? The mangy, starving stray cat I found in my backyard last Spring, the one who was  filthy and full of tangles and crusted-on poop and stank so badly that I thought he’d been sprayed by a skunk, and who went to the vet and got all his expensive health issues taken care of and got cleaned up (but was still as skinny as a ferret) and got adopted by his forever family in Washington D.C. thanks to their seeing his story on this very blog? Well, it was chilly last week in our nation’s capitol, so Mr. Fluffy’s people lit a fire, and they sent me a photo of Mr. Fluffy checking out this strange new phenomenon called “getting cozy”. Is he one handsome dude or what?

I give you this picture of Mr. Fluffy because we all need a moment of Awwwwwwwww on this, the end of another bad, sad, and dangerous week in America. I don’t have to tell you the news, you all know it all too well;  how another angry  white guy with a gun and a grievance makes us all pay a revolting price for living in the land of the free and the AR 15.  I despair.

Now we need another cat to lower our blood pressure and maybe give us a reason to live, and here he is:

That’s Taffy on the kitchen patio on Wednesday morning, helping me look for our Perfect Fall Leaf of 2017, which we have not found yet due to the fact that Nature isn’t cooperating this year. Fall is very late in coming, and what has arrived, so far, hasn’t been spectacular. This is how the north corner of my front yard looks on a normal November 7, which is usually peak leaf time:

This is how it looked yesterday, November 16, 2017:

I reckon that Fall is 9 days behind schedule and counting.

I mentioned in a recent blog post that I had gone to see famous ghost writer Daniel Paisner talk about his wonderful career collaborating with celebrities in the sports and entertainment world. During his talk he used the term thought leader to describe some of the non-famous subjects of his books  (a billionaire businessperson, a hippy surfer/philanthropist, an economist who gives TED talks, etc.). Thought leader was a curious phrase to me, and as I had not heard that term before I wrote it down so I could think about the concept later. Well, you all know how it goes: now that I’ve become aware of it, I’ve heard or read that term about half a dozen times in the past two weeks. I never noticed it before, but it seems that the world is littered with thought leaders.

I’m putting that on my resume as soon as I have a resume: thought leader.

Here’s a thought: How about all those good Christians in Alabama don’t vote for a child rapist? Is that too much to ask of the godly men and women of the Deep South?

Or am I being naive, in thinking that people who want to make America great again might have morals that would prevent them from sending to the Senate a man who is unwilling to obey the constitution (and its mandate on the separation of church and state) AND sexually assaults young girls?

MOBILE, ALABAMA: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters after his rally at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on August 21, 2015 in Mobile, Alabama. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)

Oh, right.

Nevermind.

P.S. I got both these pix of Roy Moore and der Drumpf by googling “alabama morons”. I love the internet.

Let’s paint:

This is a very small view of Monet’s central flower bed at Giverny, a garden that I’ve painted frequently.

Painting flowers is so relaxing.

This time I want to paint the flowers on a very sunny day, and test my ability to paint in very dark and light tones.

As you can see, I prepared a background of bright green over which I will paint my deep green bits.

I got some nice blobby effects by working wet-in-wet, and letting the paints bled into one another — I do like seeing what watercolors does when you just let it do its thing. And I also like doing the persnickety details with my 00-size brush.

I put down a yellow background for the really bright areas, over which I will dab in some medium-tone greens:

Yeah, I got some sparkle here:

Shadows:

Done.

This is for New Reader Steve, who I confused last week by mentioning a tea bag that wasn’t there. It’s here now, Steve.

My Steve, waiting on my front porch wall, making a mind-meld with me to let me know that a little pre-dinner taste treat would make a certain kitty happy.

Thank you all, Dear Readers, Warriors to the heart, for your lovely Comments last week about my Uncle Rolly post. I hope we all have a good man in our lives, especially these days when we hear about more and more men who we thought were OK guys are actually real creeps. Et tu, Al Franken??

Have a great weekend, dear ones, and I hope your Thanksgiving holiday is a day of happiness and gratitude and meaning for you and the ones you love.

And here’s the photo of my favorite cheese enchiladas and retired beans and rice that never fails to make my day when I am in the dumps and need to feast my eyes on something good:

 

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Without the tea bag for size reference, you can’t tell that this piece is 25 inches long. That’s about 25 million tea bags long. I’m not good at math.

Twenty years ago, a very kind and adorable and lovable man asked me to sew something for him. Specifically, he asked to sew an embroidery of the school house at the Farm Museum in Cooperstown, New York.

Cooperstown is a small village in update New York (that means it’s practically in Canada) that is famous for being the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. But this wonderful man, my Uncle Rolly, who I loved very much, was not a baseball fan, so when he went to Cooperstown it was all about the Farm Museum.

Which is weird. Uncle Rolly was a life-long, born and bred, New York City boy; so why he loved the farmer’s museum is a mystery but there you are. Life is mysterious.

For some reason, Uncle Rolly became smitten with the school house there:

He came back from Cooperstown, in 1997, and he had a vision that this school house would look sweller than swell as an old-timer “sampler” embroidery. Uncle Rolly loved early American art.

So, in 1997, when I was 41 years old, I designed and sewed this sampler-type depiction of the school house at the Farm Museum for Uncle Rolly. I was not especially inspired by the subject, being as I was a world traveler and all, and he wanted something about the hick boondocks of upstate New York . . . but for Uncle Rolly, I would do anything.

P. S.: I can’t believe that it was 20 years ago. I for sure as shit can’t believe that I was 41 years old TWENTY IMPOSSIBLE YEARS  AGO. But there you are. Life is mysterious.

My first true cat love, Woody Robinson, died in 1996; so for a few years after his departure for the Rainbow Bridge, I used to “sign” all my embroideries with a little Woody Robinson. That’s Woody, above.

The reason that I have this embroidery hanging on my dining room wall is because my dear sweet Uncle Rolly died three years ago, on September 20, 2014, (you might have read my post about how I did his obituary for the New York Times) and he willed that every piece of art that I did for him would come back to me. This is one of the pieces I got back. There are six so far: I’m still looking for the Hebrew alphabet that I sewed . . . that has gone missing. (Yes, I can read and kind-of write Hebrew. Let’s discuss soon.)

I miss my Uncle Rolly, who wasn’t my real Uncle Rolly due to his being the husband of my step-father’s sister, but who told me that he would always be my Unlce Rolly no matter what, and was the most lovable relative I ever had through all my parent’s many marriages and divorces and half-relatives and step-relatives. For example, my mother divorced her Uncle Rolly-relatated-husband in 1970, and in 1997 Rolly was still my favorite relative.

Uncle Rolly didn’t like cats, AT ALL, hard as it is to fathom — he really, really didn’t like cats. But he let me bring Woody Robinson into his house on multiple occasions. He said, “I love Woody because you love Woody.”

Woody Robinson, with embroidery of his favorite violets, page 67 in When Wanderers Cease to Roam.

That just shows you what kind of man he was.

I wanted to do this blog because you, Dear Readers and I, being (mostly) women in the world have experienced the despicable, abhorrent, disgusting, vile behavior of men in our private and public lives. EVERY woman alive today has a story. I have stories. OK, I have about two stories, and they are just the run-of-the-mill tales of old men kissing me on the mouth and telling other people in the workplace about it and having them say to me, “Oh, yeah, that’s what [fill in name] does.”

I’m ecstatic that women are telling those stories and naming names. It has to be done.

Men who have denigrated us, men who have loved/validated us.

Discuss.

P.S.  When Uncle Rolly met Top Cat,  Unce Rolly thought T.C. was a nice guy . Then I told Uncle Rolly that on our second date, Top Cat brought presents for each of my five cats.  Uncle Rolly (who, remember, detested cats), said to me: Marry him.

Have a great weekend, my dear Warrior Readers. I know that each of you have more than survived male entitlement: you have prevailed. Because WE ARE WHO WE ARE.

 

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On the sidewalk in front of my house, 10:01 AM, Thursday, November 2, 2017. At last I have found a good use for the pavement that no one on Long Island ever uses.

I went Fall Leaf hunting yesterday morning. The weather has turned a bit cooler this past week with a few days of hard rain, so there was quite a lot to choose from right in my own font yard.

My Perfect Fall Leaf has to have an interesting “color story”, as you can see from some of my past Perfects:

Maybe you can tell that I have a preference for Oak leaves, especially ones that exhibit a little bit of rot. The shape is breath-takingly exquisite, but the problem is that Oak trees tend to zap straight from their Summer shade of dull olive green to their Fall shade of drabbier-than-drab brown.  It’s a real treat when I can find an Oak leaf that has a color story to tell, but that is exceedingly rare. That Oak leaf that you see directly above is practically a miracle: I’ve NEVER seen one that was so chronically complex and that is why that leaf is my favorite painting ever.

In my perusal of my front yard yesterday morning, I found two leaves that might be thought-provoking enough to paint. I have placed them between two wet paper towels and stored them in the refrigerator until I finish putting this post up. Then I’ll make a cup of tea and pull them out and consider whether their stories are worth my telling.

My story for this post is that I had a very literary week, in that one night I went to a book event for a well-known ghost writer, and a few evenings later I attended a swell “do” that featured a panel of distinguished lady writers: a biographer, a memoirist, a novelist, and a short-fiction writer. Except for the short-fiction writer, the panel was mind-numbingly lackluster and I nearly expired out of boredom so I will not go into details except to say that writers who spend a lot of time teaching college tend to not have much awareness that people attending book events don’t want to hear a droning monologue. That might work with a captive audience of college freshman, but not in the real world.

This has nothing to do with this week’s blog but I need to break up the text so here’s a pic of my desk lamp. I cleared away the cobwebs three weeks ago but this is what I’m dealing with now and I can’t bring myself to evict whoever is living there because spiders are “good” things, but whenever I sit at my computer I get the feeling that there are spiders crawling in my hair.

The book event I attended was for Daniel Paisner, and it was evident that his humor and intelligence are what makes him the go-to ghost writer for celebrities in the sports and entertainment world. He gave a lively and fun event while not saying anything critical about any of the personalities he’s collaborated with, which is saying a lot because he ghost wrote Ivanka Trump’s first book The Trump Card and I asked him specifically about that smug, dim-witted, crypto-Nazi bitch experience and he still did not have a bad world to say.

His discretion is another reason why he’s at the top of his profession.

But writing is basically a horrible profession that turns people into skin bags of regret, even for a writer as successful as Mr. Paisner. There he was, telling stories about the presidents and movie stars he’s met and worked with, and the weird places he’s traveld to with politicians and athletes, and the intimate conversations and lasting friendships he’s made with his high-achieving subjects, and a young guy in the back row raised his hand and asked Mr. Paisner the question we all were dying to ask: How does a person get into the ghost writing biz?

And Daniel Paisner told the young man that he (Daniel Passer) could not recommend, not at all, that anyone take that career path. Ghost writing (said Mr. Paisner) will kill the possibilities of your having a literary career. AS IF THAT WAS A BAD THING.

I’ve written three books, and the process is so horrible that I am loathe to subject myself to it for a fourth time. I don’t want to sit in a room for three years by myself, doubting every damn word I write, for less than minimum wage, just so some half wit can plaster a bad review about it on Amazon because she didn’t like it that I packed a cashmere sweater when I went to Paris. (True story.)

I will happily, merrily, with a song in my heart be glad to ghost write anybody’s book if it let me GET OUT OF THE HOUSE and meet interesting, non-writer people, travel on somebody else’s expense account, and make lots of money.

As it is, all I get are “offers” to” take dictation” from guys who “have a book inside me but I just doesn’t have the patience to write it”, a book that this busy person won’t pay me for because it’s “sure to be a best seller”.

Well. I only have myself to blame. I picked the worst time in history to be an author. Another writer beautifully described what the thrill of getting published is like these days: It’s like being a Russian Princess, but it’s the eve of the Revolution. 

I’m going to close here and check out my Fall Leaf situation in the refrigerator. But instead of tea, I think I’ll make me a cup of vodka and be thankful that I’m not successful enough to be plagiarized, which I hear is a big problem when you’re a famous writer (my writer’s career cup runneth over with half-fullness).

Have a great weekend, Dear Readers: May all your glasses be, like mine, half-full instead of half-empty, unless it’s a tea cup of vodka, and then make sure all your glasses are full.

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