July 2020

I still find these 2020-Is-A-Shit-Show memes very funny because they are true.



In case you need more proof that 2020 keeps getting weirder and weirder, here’s a photo from my life recently:

Yeah, that’s a cat. A very small cat.

And yeah, that’s the engine of my car.

Here’s the story.

It was quarter to three in the afternoon and I can hear that my neighbor is knocking on my front door. But I’m in the last quarter-hour of my Zoom Korean class and I don’t answer it.

So then, I get a text.

There’s a kitten stuck in your car can we go in?

I text back, In class now, done soon, go for it.

At the end of class I stroll out to the curb, where my car is parked in the street, and the hood is up and the neighbors next door and the neighbors across the street are gathered ’round. There is also a continuous mewing sound, rather loud, from the front of the car, and they have figured out that the kitten is wedged into the engine compartment and that the best way to get the it is to grab it from below.

“I’m going to call the fire department,” I say, in my take-charge way, “And ask if they have really strong equipment to jack the car up his enough so someone can get underneath the car.”

Five minutes later, SIRENS and LIGHTS come roaring into our quiet suburban road here in the bucolic north shore of Long Island — four SUVs, a fire truck, and one of those fire dept. trucks that looks like an ambulance.

They make a road block so no one can drive down our stretch of Warner Avenue and six-to-ten burly young guys in bermuda shorts, tattoos, and T-shirts, and two guys in full fire-fighting regalia, drag a huge jack and some canisters and a hose to my car.

Then the cops show up.

So there we all are, about three thousand pounds of humanity, rescuing a teeny tiny kitten from my car.

I’m looking at all these vehicles and equipment and manpower…to rescue a kitten…and I say out of the corner of my mouth to my next door neighbor, Must be a slow day at the fire house.

And she says to me, Now we know why our taxes are so high.

Or course, all this activity drew a crowd of all the other neighbors, who came out to see the spectacle. Did someone find a dead body? Is there an improvised explosive device? Did someone need the jaws of life?

Nah, we said, shrugging our shoulders; There’s a kitten.

What finally freed the kitten was a simple spray from one of the fire department’s canisters — which contained water — and we saw a light grey tabby kitten streak away from us into the little woods on the side of the road.

All the residents of Warner Avenue thanked the public servants extravagantly for their help, and the neighbor across the street said that she would set her Have-A-Heart trap to catch the kitten, and that satisfied the firefighting crew and they got in their SUVs, fire truck, cop cars, and ambulance-looking-thing and left.

Only the cops were wearing face masks and I tried to social distance, but it was chaotic and hot as hell so I’m self-quarantining again for two weeks.

Next morning, I’m picking up the Sunday New York Times from my front walk and the neighbor walks over to me, carrying a Have-A-Heart trap, and she says, I got the kitten!

The kitten is in very good condition — clean ears, clear eyes, no runs nose, not noticeable flea-ridden, and not noticeable starving. Believe me, I’ve been trapping feral cats for 15 years and I’ve seen far, far worse.

The neighbor asks me, Do you want her?

I distinctly remember that I said, No. I remember throwing up my ands, backing away, saying, No, no, nononono. I do not want a kitten. I have five cats who are enough of a pain in the ass…I don’t need and I DON’T WANT a kitten. I don’t want to make that kind of 20-year commitment. Nope. NO. I do not want a kitten.

So I really, honestly don’t know how it happened. I got a kitten.

She’s very cute, and very affectionate, and I would show you photos of her but I’m having trouble getting them off my camera and iPad so check back next week.

In the meantime, How’s your week been? Bat-shit crazy as usual? Yes? Because that’s how we live now, right?

Let’s take a look back









I read this obituary with pleasure:


From my Twitter feed:



Try to have a great weekend, Dear Ones. I’ll try to get photos of Car Cat (that’s the name she’s going by for now) up by Wednesday. I might not have wanted a kitten in my life, but that little face brightens my day.

And, oh yeah.

Fuck Trump.






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This was on my Twitter feed this morning:

I can relate.

I thought about putting out a Black Lives Matter yard sign, but I was sure it would be yanked out during the night. Although my county of Nassau of the Isle of Long is fairly evenly split Democrat/Republican, there are some rednecks living in the streets that fan out to the east of our enclave.

To be fair, I don’t know that they are rednecks for sure, I’m just going by the number of junk cars that they keep in their driveways.

Any way, I decided against putting out a lawn sign. Instead, I bought a big Black Lives Matter flag and I hung it out on the front of my house. This is the part of the house that is barricaded by a 4-foot tall fieldstone wall so I’m pretty sure my flag is safe from the neighbors.

For years, the redneck who lives two streets away from me has hoisted a Don’t Tread on Me flag in his front yard. That’s the famous Gadsden flag adopted by Tea Party and Second Amendment gun-rightists as an emblem of their anti-government hysteria.

Last week Top Cat was strolling past the house and he sent me this photo:

Yeah. Not the brightest people.

This week, Trump has given  billion dollars to Kodak, a failed film maker, to “work on coronavirus”. He tweeted support for a doctor who endorsed his fake Hydroxychloroquine “cure” for COVID while also preaching that witchcraft causes illness and alien DNA is the result of demon sperm. He announced that he was throwing out the first pitch at a New York Yankees baseball game, much to the surprise to the New York Yankees who had not invited him to do so — Trump was in a snit because Dr. Fauci, the head of the Center for Disease Control had thrown the first pitch at a Washington Nationals game. And the Republicans think that minimum-wage workers are being lazy so they want to stop giving out-of-work Americans any more money during **checks notes** a deadly pandemic and the worst economic downturn in a century.

So, just another week in the shit storm:

























And, oh yeah, before I forget:

Fuck Trump.









See you all back here on Friday!


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And no kidding, this should be the anthem for 2020 (made in quarantine).


What a week. On Monday morning I had another session with my dentist, and everything went downhill from there. From now on, I’m only seeing my dentist on Friday because Fridays are so excellent that nothing can spoil them.

Thank you all for your concern about my self-inflicted bone fracture. What a surprise: the orthopedist told me to stay off my feet and Lo, I did, and Lo, I have very little pain. Just a lot of annoyance, but that’s how most of us feel these days.

People of Portland, Oregon, I Salute You. When Trump sent in the stormtroopers I never thought it would unleash the fury of white people in the suburbs but Lo, there they are, putting their bodies in the line of fire for you and me.

Portland, Oregon makes me proud to be an American.

Gosh. I haven’t felt that way for a long, long time.

So let’s get to the news portion of this blog and see what else has been happening during the destruction of democracy:










































Let’s change the mood a bit and remember that there are still small places in this world where we meet heart-to-heart and things go right.

This is from a series of photos about Men Who Did Not Want A Pet, No, No Way, No How:

















So let’s all have a great weekend, Dear Ones. I hope you can make a small space for yourself in this horrible world to hear a good purr.

And, oh yeah…

…Fuck Trump.










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Here are some pictures of the late, great Lickety to save my spot for Friday.

As of yesterday I have a wicked stress fracture of my tibia (shin bone) and IT HURTS.

IT HURTS because I am an idiot who thought that the discomfort was all in my head, so I kept running for a week or two until yesterday when the pain decided to prove how real it was and chomped down like a T Rex and I went to urgent care.

Now I have to keep my splintered  leg elevated, which I can’t do at a desk, and it hurts too much to sit upright like a normal bi-ped with my feet on the ground because I am an idiot.

So, Dear Readers, until Friday, keep a lid on your sanity while Trump deploys the Federal Stormtroopers to a city near you.

Jesus Christ.

Fuck Trump.




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My hair has officially gone COVID.

Since last October I’ve been growing it out and so far it’s gone through two of those weird, unsightly phases that you have to put up with when you’re switching from short to long hair, but this week it’s at a stage where, in different times, I would take it to a professional for “shaping”, but these are these times so I’m stuck with Duchess of Cornwall hair.

I’m not a fan of floof.

Half of the reason why I’m not going to see my hair stylist is a reluctance to expose myself to strangers, and the other half is 2020 apathy. I’m not going anywhere anyway, so why do I have to make a fuss?

But here’s something that will brighten all our days:

Miss Lizzie

Pet Portraits. I’ll be painting Pet Portraits, and returning this blog back into its original mission. Yes, we’ll be  Watching Paint Dry for the rest of the Summer and it’s all because of  The Stromness Rock.

The Rock in its original hiding place on Orkney, May 27, 2019 (before its beauty make over thanks to Rachel in Texas).

This is for the darling hosts of The Rock during its 8,465-mile tour of America: Gali, Carol, Jeanie, Angel, Susie, Alexandra, Marilyn, Thea, Rachel, Leslie, and OG Maryanne in SC.To thank you for your outstanding hospitality I would like to do a portrait of your pet(s). If you email me a photo of your beloved(s), I will turn it into a Vivian Swift Pet Portrait, which we will watch me paint right here on this blog.

I can do dogs, too.

Now remember, although these portraits appear to be life-sized, I am a miniaturist, so your portrait will be packed into a frame that is  approx. 4 ” x 4″.

So let’s start painting!

I hope that painting will keep us all a tiny bit sane, because life keeps getting crazier and crazier, and I’m not talking about my Korean classes and the fact that in Korean you have to conjugate adjectives. I’m talking about how 2020 keeps getting shittier and shittier, and to prove it let’s start with the stupidest thing I’ve seen on the internet this past week :

. . . and let’s take it from there:




















For those of you who have never seen one, here’s a picture of a baby squirrel:

And some cat stuff:






Here’s some stuff you should know in case you ever get on Jeopardy:




Excuse me, but it’s fewer. FEWER. F E W E R :














Have a great weekend, everyone. Don’t buy GOYA products.

And, oh yeah…Fuck Trump.









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So we’ve lost Hong Kong, Dear Readers. The valiant pro-Democracy protestors worked and marched and waved American flags and put their lives on the line for so long, and it all came to end on June 30. China now controls the territory and I wanted to take a moment here to note the death of independence in that brave little enclave.

I hope everyone is getting the most out of Summer, or Winter (Hi Kirra!) this year, because lazy, hazy days are the best thing we got going for us at the moment. Me, in between log naps, I’m world-building…but more of that later.

Let us discuss the current state of affairs in America:





























And, oh yeah:

Fuck Trump.







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It started to get hot here on the north shore of Long Island in May. So since May 29, I have been getting up at 4am to make a piece of toast, feed the cats, read Twitter, and head out the door for my 6-mile run.

Well, I actually hate to run (I haven’t had to move fast since I was 26 because I’m a grown up and nobody can make me do anything I don’t want to do because that’s the reward for getting old and getting closer to death) so let’s say that I go at a very fast walk.

No matter how stinking hot the day will become, the air at 4:30am is deliciously cool, and it’s a fine thing to be out in the pre-dawn and breathe in the light that miraculously turns the skies from black to heavenly blue. I highly recommend it.

On Wednesday of this week I did my early morning trot as usual, then I showered and did laundry and mopped the kitchen floor and it was while I was putting fresh clean sheets on the bed that I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to sleep right now?”

It was 9am. And since I’m the only boss of me (see above) I gave myself permission, right then and there, to give in to my latest whim. So that’s what I was doing last Wednesday, instead of blogging. I was sleeping the rest of the morning way, and having weird dreams (about Korean verbs, for one; and about being back in the Peace Corps in Africa, for two) and then I was laying in bed and watching Netflix on my iPad for most of the afternoon. It was heavenly. The To Do List police never caught on.

Self-indulgence. I highly recommend it.

The other exciting news is that we got our little Sputnik (“voyager”) back from its trans-America tour!


The little rock from Stromness, Orkney has completed its journey of 8,465 miles across our United States and is sitting on my desk as I type this, making sure I tell the story of its last, great visit with one of our Dear Readers in the land of Carolina del Sud.

Curtesy of host and OG Dear One Maryanne from SC, The Rock has allowed me to quote from the letter it has written to the Scottish mum who awaits her little pebble’s return to the islands in the North Sea:

Dear Mum,

Greetings from the ridiculously hot, humid Palmetto State, South Carolina and its capital, Columbia. To say your boy misses Orkney’s cool breezes would be understatement.

It’s high COVID-19 season here, so I donned a mask and quarantined for a couple days with a fellow Scots rock, a wee lad from Dunbar Close in Edinburgh.  It was good to catch up wi’ someone from home.

Then I was ready to see the sights.

First, a shot of me in a palmetto tree. South Carolina, after all, is called the Palmetto State.

The palmetto+crescent design became South Carolina’s flag in April 1861, just in time to be flown over Fort Sumter, the day it fell to the Confederate Army.

Mum, compared to our Scottish history, South Carolina is not very old, and Columbia’s a very, very young city, a mere 234 years.

This is Columbia’s Main Street, as seen from the steps of the State House. See the soldier statue ahead of me? He’s looking to the north, watchful should the Union troops return. 155 years later and so far, so good.

Aye, the past is still very present in Columbia. The place where all the Confederacy’s money was printed is now the downtown Publix supermarket. A large cotton mill, first of its kind to run on electricity, is now the SC State Museum. Here’s one of its most historic sites, the First Baptist Church built in 1859 (below).

Or as you’d say, “recently.”

Who would guess that this ordinary red brick church was the place where the Articles of Secession were drafted on December 17, 1860?  Three days later South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union, effectively starting the Civil War.

So-o-o, in 1865 when General William Tecumseh Sherman’s scouts entered the city, First Baptist was high on their list of “Places To Visit.”

The church leaders knew that too, and carefully removed all signage from the building’s exterior. When the soldiers arrived to torch the perfidious site, helpful citizens directed them instead to the utterly innocent Washington Street Methodist church, a block away.

(See me in the lower right?)

Columbia has been a way station for several notable American painters. Your fave, mum, Georgia O’Keeffe, taught drawing at Columbia College,  and Jasper Johns lived here for a long while. But the artist most identified with contemporary Columbia is a guy named Blue Sky. This is his most famous work, a downtown mural called Tunnelvision.

There are several other Blue Sky murals and sculptures around town, but I really liked the gigantic Busted Plug, his tribute to his firefighter father:

(Can ye see me perched on the sign in front of the Plug? Again, just a wee blue dot…)

Another Columbia claim to fame: Hootie & the Blowfish. The band formed here in the late 1980s when the guys were students at the University of South Carolina, playing in bars in the Five Points neighborhood.

(Again, see me? I shinnied up the street sign pole to get close as I could to their honorary street sign.)

Columbia is also the site of the South Carolina State Fair each October, attended by thousands. If you wanted to meet up with your mates, you tell ‘em “Meet me at the rocket.”

I could go on, but I’m weary and looking forward to getting home to Orkney and seeing you.

Oh, one last selfie.

In Scotland, we tend to not make puns in Spanish, but trust me, mum, this is very funny:

Although Spanglish is a touchy subject here in America:

See you soon, Mum!

I want to thank all the lovely hosts who showed The Rock From Stromness outstanding hospitality these past months. There is a little reward for all of you who did the hard work of showing The Rock the sites of the Northeast (Massachusettes and New Jersey), the MidWest (Michigan, Michigan, and Wisconsin), the Great Pacific Great Northwest (Washington and Oregon), the West Coast (California), the Cowboy Empire (Texas), the Deep South (Florida), and the Genteel South (South Carolina). Check here next Friday for details.

In the meantime, as Maryanne from SC says:

Fuck tRump.

















New Yorkers painting BLACK LIVES MATTER on 5th Ave in front of Trump tower:

Next up: Renaming that block of 5th Ave “Obama Way”









In Cute News: The Animal Defense League of Texas took some of its shelter cats to the San Antonio Zoo to publicize both organizations while they are closed during the pandemic, although shelter animals are still available for adoption and the zoo is open for donations:

And here’s some photos of people and their dogs, as puppers and as doggos:

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones.

Tropical Storm Fay is scheduled to slam into New York later today (Friday, July 10) so YAY!! We’re having a Hurricane Party tonight!


And, of course:

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Can you believe it? Can you believe that 2020 is half over? That we have made it this far?? TO THE HALF WAY MARK!! I don’t have much to celebrate these days, but I’m definitely in the mood to celebrate this.

If the first half of 2020 has taught me anything, and I doubt that it has, it’s that you have to think ahead.

I’m not at all gifted when it comes to thinking ahead.

For example, I went on record, here in this blog, in February, pooh-poohing any need for panic or urgency about this COVID-thing. Then we went into mandatory self-quarantine on March 15, and I didn’t run out and grab as much toilet paper as I could jam into my Costco cart, I didn’t buy a 6-month supply of canned goods, and I didn’t get me as much black-market hand sanitizer as I cold score on the dark web. I did get a few cases of wine and a six-pack of liter-sized Grey Gooses, but that’s what I do every Monday.

If I had known then what I know now, I would have bought some dumbbells. Although I miss my gym, I’ve been able to do a work-around with a new fitness routine while I’m at home, except for weight training. So my first Second Half of 2020 purchase will be some hand weights so I can keep wearing short-sleeve shirts for now and the foreseeable future (sleeveless shirts were ruled out, forever, some time around my 52nd birthday).

My first Second Half of 2020 self-improvement project will be to finish re-doing the stairs. Last November I stripped 5 layers of paint off of our 100-year-old staircase in the living room, and it took a week and I got down to bare wood on the treads. I knew I was going to wait until warm weather to open all the windows and do the sanding before I refinished the old wood and re-apited the risers and the trim, but I’ve been putting it off because I’m so used to doing nothing in self-quarantine that I just haven’t found the time to do anything useful. But my Second Half of 2020 goal is to get the stairs done by the end of this month, or at least by Fall. Certainly by Halloween.

And then I’ll call it a year.

Anybody else got big plans for the Second Half of 2020? Anybody else taking this exciting opportunity of the six-month mark to Start Over?

OK, I might be getting all Self Helpy and Living My Best Life (fingers crossed), but I still find these memes funny (because 2020 is, really, no joke):








I look forward to the end of 2020, but I warn you. Don’t think too far into the future:

And, as always: Fuck Trump.






I got no thoughts or prayers for this guy:


































Have a great weekend, everyone. Top Cat and I have bought ourselves the fancy face masks, the ones that have the front seam in the center so it doesn’t smash up against your face, you know those ones? I highly recommend them. I can’t believe that I’m excited about this, but this is where we are in July 2020.

Stay safe, stay weird, stay you.












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