Champagne-O-Meter

Last Friday there was a blizzard here on the shore of the Long Island Sound. Oooo, so pretty:
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That’s the Champagne-O-Meter in the center.

On Saturday the sun came out. Sill kind of attractive, in a good old Winter kind of way:

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On Sunday the forecast called for warming weather. Winter is starting to look worn out:

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On Monday I had to remove the Champagne-O-Meter from the side yard to the fridge because I hate to see warm champagne. Now it just looks sad out there:

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On Tuesday it rained all day. Those are small puddles of grey water pooling in between the dead grass:

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On Wednesday it was Spring-like and the trees look like dead sticks and the yard looks like crap:

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It’s now Thursday and the yard still looks like crap but it’s way cold. As soon as I finish my blogging I’m going to the fridge and opening that bottle of champagne because I’m pretty sure I won’t be needing it for any more blizzards this Winter and I have something to celebrate: I have champagne in the fridge!

Also, a wonderful new reader from Australia emailed me that she went to see the blockbuster Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra — and found Le Road Trip  on sale in their book shop! I can’t believe that I wrote a book that the National Gallery of Australia sells in their book shop. I feel very important.

I’m itching to show off my Australian accent to my cats, but  I can only talk Strine when I’m slightly loaded so I am DYING to get to that champagne.

Have a great weekend everyone!

 

 

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Because instead of having rich friends who talk behind my back (which is why I LOVE The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, New York, Atlanta, OC, and NJ) I have cats who have no trouble getting in my face:
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Also, I do not spend my days shopping or party planning. Instead, I spend my days sitting at a desk, which is even more boring than it sounds because when I write I sit at a desk that faces a blank white wall because it’s better for my creative process to have NO DISTRACTIONS. Did I mention that I have cats?

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Having a camera crew following my every move would probably make my cats all nervous and skittish:

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But then again, maybe not.

I lead a pretty interior life, not suitable for film.

I doubt that what I consider really exciting is anything that would make for great TV:

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Last Sunday I was thrilled when I went out to re-fill the cat food bowl that I leave outside for our opossum friend, and I found  that he’d left me a present and I ran in to tell Top Cat GUESS WHAT!!!  MR. POSSUM LEFT ME A CARDINAL FEATHER!!!!  

In my experience, reality TV people only get this excited over slander law suits and when another Real Housewife looks at them funny.

The BIG news around here is Another Blizzard on its way.

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The latest panic started on Wednesday when Lonnie Quinn of the TV@ Weather Center cut into my Judge Judy time to show us what might, maybe, possibly, could happen in the next 48 hours. This is the dire forecast for Thursday:

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But it was what could maybe, might, possibly, could happen on FRIDAY that got him really riled up, so much so that he had to roll up his shirt sleeves and jump onto TV to let us know about it 48 freaking hours in advance:

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Jeeze, Lonnie. Even by my low standards of ordinary life this is a non-event.

BTW, I got the Champagne-O-Meter ready for this March blizzard. This is Thursday:

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And this is Friday:

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7am: Those are kitty cat tracks behind my Champagne-O-Meter.

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9am: Still snowing. This is the Japanese dogwood tree that shades our back patio and today is leaning over into the side yard. The only other time I’ve seen it like this was right after SS Sandy.

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Noon: That tree branch is almost touching the ground.

Commentor Judith asked a very interesting question in the Comments last week. She asked Does [an illustration]  exist in your mind, and you uncover it step by step? Or do you create it as you go along, building it up step by step?

Oh yes, definitely YES I plan a picture out before I paint it. For instance, when I did this picture (the one I painted for you on last week’s blog):

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I absolutely planned beforehand what I would paint first, what went second, what had to be done thirdly, etc. I thought about what shape I had to paint, where the darks and lights would go, what range of green colors I would use. In a future WIP show-and-tell I will show you how I plan a picture because ever since I’ve been taking the trouble to stop and think before hand about what goes where, I’ve found that I don’t screw up as many illustrations. But that’s me (I’m a Capricorn).

Some people might love the process of painting so much that their canvases are opportunities for discovery, but not me. I am a results-oriented person and I quake until I have a plan of attack mapped out in my head. But that’s me.

As I write this it is 6:39 Thursday night and whoa, nellie. There are actual flakes falling from the sky! I hope to have a great Champagne-O-Meter pic for you tomorrow!

 

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Heeding all the dire warnings about the on-coming blizzard that would paralyze the entire northeastern corridor of the United States of America (last Friday), I set up the Champagne-o-Meter at dawn:P1130744

But the morning’s flurry did not last, and it mostly rained all day until around 3 o’clock in the afternoon:

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Then the snow stated coming down, icy and fast and heavy:

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The dark of night fell early on this day, the day of ye wrathful blizzard nameth NEMO:

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And lo, next morning across the land all was calm and white and verily I say unto you that the breakfast beverage was finely chilled indeed:

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When this storm got serious — that is, around 4 o’clock on Friday afternoon, all the local TV stations went berserk, into Full Panic Mode:

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Wall-to-wall coverage of the flakes and all possible flakes, all futures flakes, rumors of record-breaking flakes, etc:

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Does this happen where you are? Over a measly blizzard? All regular programming on all network channels was pre-empted by Storm Team coverage (they took off Judge Judy!!!) and we are treated to weather alerts for the NYC subways (that’s tube, or metro, for all you readers in the UK, France, or Rio):

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This is Jennier Lopez/ sister updating the latest delays on what New Yorkers call “the trains” — not “the subway. eIf would enjoy seeing how provincial New York City TV can be — all it takes is a snow storm:

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NOBODY takes a TV crew to Staten Island except in cases of potential disaster. Other reporters are forced to stand out knee-deep in the flakes in the distant suburbs:

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And forced to go live from the front seat of their news vans:

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And as if having to report from New Jersey wasn’t bad enough, they made one guy cover the Bergen County jail, where the prisoners were allowed to have extra “yard” time to shovel the sidewalks of their home-away-from-home:

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But hey…New York is still The Big Apple and one lucky reporter got to cover the kids waiting on line outside NBC Studios…

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… for stand-by tickets to see Justin Bieber on Saturday Night Live the next night.

It was a long, long line and there were even parents on it!

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No matter how far back the reporter went, there were always more people who were nutty enough to stand out in a blizzard (some had even set up camp from the day before):

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I once waited on line for five hours (in 1974) to buy tickets to see Elton John, but it was a mild day, and it was inside a Sears store (the local Ticketmaster franchise). I do hope some of those little girls got their dream tickets for SNL.

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Then the news van drove up Riverside Drive, my old stomping grounds on the awesome Upper West Side:

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This, my dear readers, is Grant’s Tomb…

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…(resting place of U. S. President Ulysses S. Grant and answer to every first-grader’s favorite joke: Who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb?)

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Yes, twilight brings out the best of a snow storm in the big city.

And up north, in the Westchester suburbs:

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And way out on the East End of Long Island:

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And closer to home:

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Penelope watches the snow falling in our back yard.

Thank you, one and all, for your fabulous Comments on last week’s post about The Barnes Foundation. Everyone had such thought-provoking things to say that I want to do a follow-up post next week. We will, as the great joan Rivers says, “tawk”.

 

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So not fair. Just when we were getting over Super Storm Sandy, we get this. Well, you know what they say. When life gives you a damn blizzard, break out a brand new Champagne-O-Meter!

The snow started at 11 in the morning…

…and it lasted all damn day. This (above) gave me the only laugh I had the whole time, to see the Champagne-O-Meter sporting its jaunty Blizzard Chapeau.

But by the next morning, I wasn’t laughing anymore. We got a lot of snow, heavy, wet, relentless snow. We lost power at 4:30, got half of it back by 7, and there was much more damage from the blizzard than from the hurricane. NOTE: I refuse to call this blizzard a Nor’easter because I never heard of any damn “Nor’easter” while I was growing up in the damn Nor’east…I only started hearing about “Nor’easters” in the mid-1990s when weather forecasters started using it to jazz up their TV news spots. I loathe the word “Nor’easter”. So I’m going to call this episode of snow and wind, Buster.

Anyhoo…here’s how much trouble Buster gave us (I took these pictures from inside the house, looking out the den picture window):

The backyard cats before Buster.

Lickety during Buster. Don’t worry. As soon as it got dark Lickety came in the house and spent the night curled up on a warm electric blanket.

From the upstairs guest room I got a view of what came down during the night :

But wait a sec…this doesn’t look right…

I don’t usually get a tree-top view from the first-floor kitchen window. And the view from the little window in the mud room usually gives me a clear look all the way to the backyard fence:

But today the view is blocked by our lovely Japanese dogwood tree that normally shades our patio but today is leaning against the back of the house. The tree didn’t fall down, it just bent waaaaaaay over (but our little rhody, still propped up from our rescue last week after Sandy, is still standing!).

The problem is that the trees still have lots of leaves on them, which made them so very heavy when they got eight inches of snow dumped on them. Oh, sure, it’s kind of pretty…

…but it’s scary, too.

You can’t tell, but this is a really BIG tree. Snapshots don’t do Buster justice.

This here is the tree that really has me worried:

We’re counting on our little backyard shed to break the fall when this maple tree comes crashing down towards our house. Looks to me like  it’ll take out the roof above the guest room, maybe wipe out the guest bathroom too, when it tires of teasing us with its hulking presence creeping closer and closer, and says WTF, I’ll Just Go Boom..

And when it does, dear readers, you will read all about it right here.

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The snow started after dark, in the wee hours of Saturday morning. So by the time we woke up we had FINALLY a blanket of Winter White to celebrate.

Our bird feeder has small perches and low feeding windows, so it’s best suited for small birds like these.

FINALLY one smart Jay figured out how to FINALLY swing it so that he could fit his huge butt onto this itty bitty feeder for small birdies:

I LOVE this guy, hanging from his toes to dip into the feed bag here. I was laughing as I took these pictures from the other side of the picture window in the den, and I’m sure that the Jay heard me. Because he gave me the hairy eyeball:

Well, he must have taken offense because he then turned his back on me.

Heart.      Be.      Still.

This is usually called The Money Shot.

I call the Blue Jay Map, because here are all the feathers that I lust after. Here, on the bird, are the heart-breakingly gorgeous tail feathers and the stunningly beautiful flight feathers that I collect and treasure.

Here is your own Blue Jay Map:

But this delicious Winter Day wasn’t all about birds.  We had plenty of other critters hanging out in the backyard on this fine snowy day.

Miss Candy was out and about, pawing her delicate way around the new fallen snow.

While her boy, Taffy, was leaping and hopping, frisking after snowflakes and jumping into small drifts.

He tried to get Dudley to share in the fun, but Duds wasn’t having it.

Although it looked to me that Duds was certainly enjoying the snowfall in his own contemplative, birdie-wishing way.

But enough with the birds and the felines!

I know what you’re all really interested in on this first and perhaps only Snow Day of Winter 2012.

You want to get to the Champagne-O-Meter.

It looked like this  at 8 o’clock in the AM.

By 10 o’clock another half inch of snow had fallen, but the weather was just about to change to wind-driven sleet.

Conditions remained cold, but wet, throughout the rest of the day.

Shortly before dusk, I took one last measurement and determinded that the snow had ended and the Champagne-O-Meter could be put to better  use.

And then it was time to add the last ingredient to my recipe for a perfect Winter day:

Take your Champagne-O-Meter, add one Top Cat (or the True Love of your choice).

Add roaring fire and a Frank Sinatra CD playing in the background.

Perfect end to a perfect Winter day.

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This is what the Champagne-O-Meter looked like when I woke up this morning:

Good thing the dining room window has such a lovely view of the morning sun…

 

And lo, from out of the woods in the backyard…

…comes roaming a lone ranger…

…name of Lucky…

…looking to rustle up a little breakfast.

Bibs, of curse kept an  eye on him, in case Lucky started heading over to a breakfast bowl that was not his.

Bibs plowed his way to the patio himself, all the way from the hutch:

 

That’s all I wanted to show you today, some sweet kitties in the snow.

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There was a MONSTER snow storm heading for Long Island on Tuesday night.  So I put a bottle of champagne out in the backyard. For the obvious reasons:

(Wednesday morning): …because there is nothing like Eastern Seaboard Blizzard-chilled champagne on a SNOW DAY.

It snowed all day Wednesday and, judging by my Champagne-O-Meter, we got about a foot of snow.

I made scones for my 4 o’clock tea. “Scones”, as you may know, is an old Scottish word for “Edible Brick of Flour and Butter”.  And yes, that’s quince jelly.  I take an hour every day to watch Judge Judy, and I like to get cozy when I watch Judge Judy let rip.   But all that comfort food went for naught: Channel 2, the Judge Judy channel, had a ONE HOUR Live coverage Special Program  about the blizzard.  Good thing I had that champagne as back-up.

 

Here’s my little Valentine to you all — I hope you all enjoy a packet of hearts and flowers, a nice cup of tea, and a romantic Winter sun set.

And I hope you all have a bottle of champagne hidden in the snow drifts for this weekend.

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You might want to read my article about How I Got Published    here today (click on this link):

http://howpublishingreallyworks.blogspot.com/

And when I say “You might want to read…” what I mean is: “I FORBID you to read that article.”

It’s called reverse psychology.

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