One by one, the penguins in my backyard are stealing my sanity


I opened a bottle of wine (Graves, Bordeaux white) last week and it lasted for four days.  That’s how I knew something was wrong. Dreadfully wrong. That’s how I knew I was in a slump. The dumps. The crapper. The joie had vamoosed from ma vie.

The first thing I do when I am in the dumps is I put on a new pair of socks. Not just clean socks (although, some days, that’s an achievement worth celebrating): but new socks. There’s a feeling, like sparkles and youth down to the tootsies, that only a brand new never-worn fresh off the slow boat from China socks can give you.

Then, I take a walk; I go around the block, but in a way I don’t usually go. I chose this time to check out Garden Street counter-clockwise.

Lastly, I only watch the last half hours of the  three (3) Grey’s Anatomy re-runs on Channel 45 from 6:00 EST – 9:00 EST, Mon-Fri. Part of my doldrums can be accountable to my recent Grey’s Anatomy addiction. I’ve never watched the show in prime time but lately I discovered it on Lifetime (15 hours a week) and I got hooked and I don’t know why; I don’t even like most of the characters. But there I sat, day after day, watching that whiny girl with the split ends and her complicated-domestic-arrangement boyfriend with the great hair and all the people they kill off, show after show, hating myself for three solid hours a day. What is with that show? Why do I love it so?

Turns out that you only have to watch the last half-hour to get the jist (those hospital people are very, very good at recapitulating each episode and each story line by use of crafty dialogue every 30 minutes) so, by cutting my Grey’s Addiction in half each day I started to feel better about myself.

And then I went back to my nemesis, my artistic bete noir, my raison de puke-fest. Mano a mano. Me and that god-awful street scene in St.-Malo.

I sat down and, over the course of three days, I re-re-re-re-re-painted that illustration of me and Top Cat strolling down a quaint French street at dusk for my next book from Bloomsbury in 2012 about a road trip in France. (That’s me impersonating a Grey’s Anatomy recapitulation for all of you who don’t read this blog regularly and what is wrong with you that you don’t read this blog regularly??)

To recapitulate, here’s how it went (see below, Confessions of a Work In Progress, Versions 1,2,3,4,5):

Top Cat (my husband and enabler) said that he didn’t like my simplifications, especially not in versions 4 and 5. So this is version 6:

And I’m done.

Except for the india-ink outlines I might add to the buildings in the foreground to correct some minor wonkiness in the perspective. But before I do that I will make a color Xerox [TM] copy (for reals: there’s a Xerox [TM]  color copier at my local Staples) and I’ll do the outlines on that color copy to see how it looks before I commit indelible ink on the original. (This is my Tricks of the Trade Tip for the day.)

And Lords Have Mercy: Lifetime is moving Grey’s Anatomy to 1:00 EST, out of the realm of watchability for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you video gods. I can have a life again from 6:00 PM to 9:oo PM.

And, for all of you who might be in the dumps or otherwise wine-less on this Friday morn (and because you can never have too many penguins in your life) this is for you:

Hug a Rockhopper today.

7 comments to One by one, the penguins in my backyard are stealing my sanity

  • Sally

    Many decades ago I thumbed through my eventual husband’s copy of Sailing Guide: Antarctica, and learned two things irrevocably: 1. You should avoid getting seal blubber into a cut (NO chance of that) 2. The call of a rockhopper penguin is “garooga.” Thanks for this morning’s garoogas.

    Your latest version is right on, congratulations. Don’t sweat the perspective–there are plenty of French buildings with quaint geometry.

    And if you are ever in Boston/Cambridge, especially in May, I’d be happy to give you a tour through the OLDEST garden cemetery, Mt. Auburn, outrageously filled with flowering trees and migrating birds, not to mention permanent residents, ranging from Longfellow to Charles Dana Gibson to FDR’s right hand, Missy LeHand.

  • Deborah

    ooh! ooh! ooh! I do like the final version. Top Cat was right: God does seem to be in the details, at least with this one. I didn’t really notice the lack of details as being a problem in your earlier posts, but scrolling through all these versions, it is this last, detailed one that feels settled. Yay! Top Cat!

    Penguins always make me laugh. Needed it, since a ligtning strike took out our cable/phone/internet last Sunday, and we just today got it restored — the lack of distraction led me to realize I have limits in how much I can read, and so I painted! eeky weeky!

  • Sandy

    I agree, the last version is The Keeper, and I’ll await the inked version (I like added ink myself) and now on to the wine!!! Gray’s annoys me and I do not watch at all – but I may try the last half hour routine?? Now that the stroll is painted – What’s next? AND We have to wait until 2012 for the Book ????????? NOOOOOOOOOOO

  • Jacquelyn

    hmmm, I thot it was flamingos that steal our sanity. When they live in our backyards and are plastic. Where did you get these penquins?!?! Did you paint in those yellow streaks on their heads?
    Well, just picture us readers, post 2012, holding a copy of that damn france book, looking at the painting of you and top dog walking down that St Malo sidewalk unawares that the sky above is dark with impending rain storm.

  • Deborah

    I want to add … YAY! Vivian, for sticking with it & painting all these versions.

    Do penguins and anteaters get along?

  • maryann

    Heehehehehe! Even when you are in the dumps, you are FUNNY!!


  • Jacquelyn


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