October 2020

P.S. This is a Star Wars joke. Get it? Let me know in Comments, Jedi Knights.



But speaking of Halloween, for the record, I do not think this is funny:

Candy corn is my favorite food, ever. I love candy corn. In my opinion, it has the perfect texture and consistency, chewy but not too chewy; sickeningly sweet but not too sickeningly sweet (unlike, for example, sweet potatoes cooked with marshmallows eeewwww), and has a pleasant buttery-plastic aftertaste that I find addictive. (Speaking of industrial revolution flavors, I also used to love the smell of car exhaust in the old days before they removed the lead from gasoline, and I’ve huffed a lot of 1960s internal combustion CO2, so this love of candy corn might be sign of brain damage.)

Candy corn is also just the right size for creative snacking, either by biting it into thirds along the color demarkations or letting one whole piece melt in your mouth (you never eat a handful of candy corn at a time), so it’s “slow cuisine”, junk-food style.

Get the candy corn made with honey, as honey has a biological shut-off switch that prevents you from eating until the point of nausea, whereas pure cane sugar has had that portion-control valve removed and that’s why ou will stuff yourself with Twinkies until you puke.

Candy corn lovers of the world, unite!

Picking up the latest episode of Watching Paint Dry where we left off last week, I didn’t show you all the “finished” portrait of Juno that I painted because I had originally posted it on the blog, but before I hit the “publish” button I removed it because it was off. I futzed with it over and over, and tried to correct it…and in the end it was a hot mess.

Here it is:

There are so many layers of paint on this portrait that it looks as if I was scrubbing it on with my bare hands. This looks finger-painted. Something is off, indeed, something that no amount of rescue can fix. One thing that is “off” is that I had positioned the head inorrectly in relation to the body:

The black lines show where I should have put Juno’s shoulders.

The thing is, Juno’s body is facing one way, but her head is turned to peer at something in the distance over her left shoulder. Without that gesture, the whole pose looks off.

The rest of the crappiness of this portrait is down to bad painting. Oh well. In the watercolor world, you have good days and bad days.

Let’s take another look at the original inspiration:

Time to START OVER from scratch, and let’s hope we’ll have a good day. Please bear with me:


What I did this time that was different from last time was that I painted Juno’s entire face with a layer of China White before I added color. I like the way paint reacts to this pigment, and I think it’s the right thing to do for Juno:

Let’s bleed in some black:





This is how the paint looks when it is applied directly to the paper (no layer of China White under it):



I added some pencil lines and I am


Thank you for your patience, Dear Readers. And to Carol, Gali, and Leslie, who are waiting to receive their portraits, I will be off to the Post Office to send them all out in one swell foop. Mail! You’re getting mail soon!

In related news, I came across a story about a fellow distinguished Pet Portraitist working in the English town of Worthing, who goes by the name Hercule Van Wolfwinkle:

Hercule had never drawn anything before he started to do pet portraits to raise money for the local animal shelter:

Hercule specializes in pet portraits that are unashamedly off:

So far, he has raised $18,000 to help homeless animals.

He makes off look so on, right?

It’s been another long, strange week in America, my Dear Readers. The Pope says same-sex unions are OK with God, Trump tried to gaslight Lesley Stahl about his “health care plan”, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer and general all-around dickhead, got caught with his hands down his pants, and, oh yeah, we found out that our president as a secret Chinese bank account.

Did I miss anything?

Let’s go to the weekly news round up:

























Top Cat took this picture in the Village in Manhattan this week.
















I fact-checked this story. It’s 100% true.














And that’s it for this week, Dear Readers. Have a great weekend, because we deserve it! We’ve put up with the mess that has been made of this planet for a whole week and now it’s time to retreat to the “Happy Place” where everyone gets to be 29 and served with ice-cold martinis by the pool while meeting with a  Jane Austin book club made up entirely of hot K-pop stars. Int he background are the talking pet unicorns, who sound so sweet when they whinney to each other,

“Fuck Trump”.











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Thank you, Dear Readers, for your condolences last week regarding the loss of my BFF. It’s still hard to understand that I will never see her again, or that we’ll ever get together again to kill a bottle of pinot on a Sunday afternoon, or head to our fave Japanese restaurant in the middle of the week for our fave spicy tuna sandwiches and mean girl chit chat, etc. After I published my last book and was feeling very bored with life and myself, it was Renee’s idea that we enroll at the local community college for ASL classes, and then it was her idea that we take over the second hand book store for the local library and raise a ton of money. I can’t stand ballet, but I’d listen to her go into raptures about her latest outings at the ABT, and she wasn’t into K-Pop but she’d hear me out on why BTS deserved to be my Korean husbands. She was a great BFF. The fact that she is gone from my life forever takes my breath away.

Ah well. There is no escaping the pain of life. The best we can do is not let it drive us crazy, right?

And this week, my gift from the universe was this sweet girl:

This is Juno, who lives with Dear Reader Gali in Massachusetts, who hosted the Scottish Stromness Rock on the beginning of its 8,000-mile journey around the United States and showed off the sights of the birthplace of the American Revolution (1776 version).

If ever there was a week then I needed to spend time with a Golden Retriever, it was this week.

I am glad that she is the final Stromness Pet Portrait because it will take all the technical expertise I have amassed during this project for me to paint her. Not because she poses any particular compositional of painterly challenge. It’s because she’s a Golden Retriever. It’s like trying to paint Jesus. If you now what I mean.

For my Golden Retriever Hue, I began mixing paints with a base of Chinese White (for technical reasons — because it makes it easier to manipulate the paint with a Chinese White base, not because I needed that white)and added several browns and yellows to match Juno’s golden-cinnamon color:

Eyes first,as usual:

I think it’s funny to have a pair of eyes popping out of a blank shet of paper.

These were the most complicated eyes I have painted so far:

Juno appears to be wearing eye-liner, and I have to get it j u s t r i g h t.

And now for the boopable nose:





I am fond of bleeds:





And here is where I had to stop, because I ran out of time. This is by far the most painstaking pet portrait I have done yet, and I don’t want to push it. I will continue to paint this tomorrow, when I am re-freshed and can get all of Juno’s nuances.

Also because I haven’t got her quite right yet, and I have some tweaking to do. Rescues are my super power, though, so we’ll be back next week with a “Wrong Juno And How I Made It Right” 100% Juno portrait.

Until then, let’s take a look back at this past week, and marvel how we all managed to live through it.



















P.S. I looked this (above) up. It actually says that women should be quiet IN CHURCH. That’s all. It’s OK to raise hell everywhere else.






















Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. It’s only 18 more days, not even three weeks, until all this will be over. Imagine how the whole world will celebrate when Trump gets slaughtered in 50 states and the Republicans are returned to their rightful status as the minority party in the Senate on Nov. 3, oh, just imagine that, and be happy. The world will break your heart in a thousand ways every day, but not on November 3, no.

(James Carville was the political strategist who engineered Bill Clinton’s 1992 and 1996 victories, so he knows. He KNOWS.)

I only have three more times that I can say this about a President who is not a lame duck:

Fuck Trump.












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This will be a short post today. I thought we had more time, and I thought I’d be able to see her in person, one day, when this pandemic was over and her lung cancer was in remission, but, no. My best friend died on Monday and I still can’t think straight. I was driving back from the grocery store yesterday and I suddenly couldn’t remember which streets to take, so I just kept driving around the block and eventually I came across a landmark that looked familiar and I found my way home. The rest of life looks the same way, as if everything around me is suddenly foreign and “off”. It will take some time to get the lay of this new land I now live in.

But Renee hated Trump with every cell in her body, so this is for you, darling:



This is how Trump got the virus from the first of his aides who tested positive, Hope Hicks:

















I hope that we can circle back to the tape recordings made by Melanoma’s ex-freind, in which she is heard cursing out journalists and Christmas, right?






Then there was that fly that sat on Mike Pence’s head for two minutes during the Vice Presidential debate on Wednesday:


On the handle it says: Truth Over Flies.









Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. Go have a drink with your best friend and celebrate being on Earth.

And of course, when you raise your glass to make a toast, let’s all say it together: Fuck Trump.






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I woke up today to the fabulous news that our president has COVID. The information is still too new for me to harvest the best memes and Tweets, so you’ll have to make do with the stuff I have planned for you before I got wind of this fantastic intel, but OMG! THIS IS THE BEST NEWS I’VE HAD ALL YEAR!!!

However, 2020 still sucks.





My Korean husbands have been on American TV all week (The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon) and on top of the Billboard Hot 100, and now they have a movie in select theaters. It’s a documentary called Break the Silence about their 2019 world tour, in which they performed in stadiums in the US, Europe, South America, and Asia.

This is from Forbes: The South Korean pop septet grossed over $196 million and played to more than 1.6 million people across 42 shows in the chart period ranging from Nov. 1, 2018 to Oct. 31, 2019. The group outgrossed legacy rock acts like the Rolling Stones, Metallica and KISS, as well as fellow boy band the Backstreet Boys. BTS also ranked third overall on the year-end Top 40 Tours chart behind Ed Sheeran and Pink. [I had no idea that Pink was such a huge star, did you?]

I live in New York state, where movie theaters are still closed due to the pandemic, so I had to go to New Jersey to see Break the Silence. All I had to do was get myself off Long Island, pass through Manhattan island, and find a place called Clifton Commons in NJ. Not a problem.

When I was 19, I went to Paris alone, on my own. While there, I decided to go to Rome. So I got myself  to the Gare de Lyon and used my high school French and was able to negotiate an overnight train and make a reservation for a couchette for the night.  I arrived in Rome not knowing a word of Italian, with no hotel reservation and no map of the city. Also, did I mention that I was 19? And, yet, I got around fine. I went to the Vatican, toured the Colosseum, climbed the Spanish Steps, threw a coin into the Trvi Fountain, wandered in the Forum, and I had pizza. I “did” Rome and didn’t hurt myself. I didn’t get killed, kidnapped, or pick-pocketed. I had street smarts.

I don’t have any street smarts any more.

All I had to do was go to New Jersey. I didn’t want to drive (because I am still thinking like it’s 2019 and that public transportation is so much more convenient) so I looked up train schedules from Long Island and the NJ Transit buses from the Port Authority on 42nd street in Manhattan. I had no idea where/what Clifton Commons was, but hell, I’ve been to Rome and I’m 64 so I figured that I was officially a wise woman and good to go. I was taking the 2:17 train to NYC to get a 3:40 bus to Clifton Commons to arrive at 4:00 to see a 5:00 movie. SIMPLE.

I won’t go into details, but everything was fine until I got on the bus. I missed my bus stop (in a bus that announced every stop in a big LED display that I was looking at the whole time), and I missed it by seven miles. By the time it dawned on me that, um, something had gone awry, I jumped off the bus in front of a divey sports bar in some dingy back street in Nowhere, NJ, and it took me a lot of trial and error before I remembered that I had a phone with internet, and called a cab, which didn’t show up, and called for another one, which did, and in the end I was 15 minutes late for the movie that I had crossed state lines to go see. I arrived in time to see the last trailer for Coming Attractions, which include the new Wonder Woman movie (it’s set in 1984 and it looks very cute, BTW) and — this is the best part — I was the only one in the theater.

I’m still shook up about how badly I travelled the 38.4 miles from my house to Clifton Commons. Can I even call myself a traveller any more? This is a serious identity issue for a travel memoirist (me, that’s what I am, that’s what I write in any time there’s a form that asks for “occupation”).

That’s something to think about while I am cat-wrangling. Our kitten, Kimmy, has a lot of energy, and she likes to keep busy. Here she is with one of her projects:

Her new hobby is to roam through my table full of paper structures and beat the hell out of them. That green thing you see in the left corner (above) is one of those paper things I made for Where The Wild Things Are (with dragons and other monsterish characters from children’ literature:

This is what Where the Wild Things Are looks like after Kimmy has beaten it into submission:

Here’s what’s left of the White Castle from last year’s ChrisHanuKwanSolstice card:

To tell the truth, I’m not at all upset. I didn’t know what to do with these things, and they were sitting out on my great-Aunt Mabel’s old dining room table because they take up a lot of room and I didn’t have a better place to store them. So Kimmy had a whale of a time whaling on them, and I get to throw the out.

And Kimmy is so cute, you can’t be mad at her. This is how she sleeps:


Now I’d like you to meet another kitty, who is starring in Pet Portrait of the Week:

Meet Bella,who lived with Dear Reader Maryanne in South Carolina, who hosted the Stromness Rock for its  delightful visit to the state capitol, Columbia:

I’m sure you all can see the challenge in painting this portrait. My reference is a photo of Bella caught napping in Maryanne’s jammie drawer. As you can see, there is only one eye in this shot, and I have to get that whole expression (I call it nonchalantly judgemental) in ONE EYE. Bella is also a gray cat. This means that there is no room for error in getting the silhouette correct, exactly right, or else Bella will look lumpy and boneless. And I  have to use a lot of gray paint, which is not, usually, the most exciting color to work with. You know that I always start with the eyes when I paint a portrait, so with Bella, I started with the eye.

Here’s a close up of the eye:

There’s a lot going on in that eye. You can’t see it in this photo of amy reference photo, but her eye has a generally golden cast to it, with emerald-green coloring around the edges. There’s a lot of shading in there, giving the eye a lot of depth. There’s also a very large white highlight. Lastly, there’s a shit load of attitude in that eye.

I layered lots of washes to get an approximation of the color and shadow:

I mixed my Bella Gray beginning with China White. China White, as a paint, has a texture to it that I love working with, and there is something about its chemical properties that make it react to water and other pigments in a way that is unlike any other watercolor paint. It’s very opaque, and water does strange things to it. I’m using it to outline the edges of Bella’s ear:

Now we paint the ear:


See this bleed? This is what China White does so well:

I still haven’t used blackout — this is all shades of gray:


Since Bella is such a “simple” painting (one eye), I am painting this portrait much larger than I  usually do. I am a miniaturist, and I am not used to painting on this scale, so this feels to me as if I am painting a mural. It was when I saw what I had done to Bella’s head that I realized that I needed a new plan to accommodate this page format. I needed to paint fur.

I’m not that kind of painter. I don’t do loosey-blobbly. So this is a new style for me:

I dropped very wet paint onto the paper and”pulled” out individual strokes of “fur”:

The paper isn’t warped — that’s the bright sun coming in through the window screens.


DONE. Almost.

It was when I loaded this image onto y blog, thinking I was done, that I saw that the shadow that I painted on Bella’s face was too sharp. I didn’t want it to be exactly half of her face like that. So I went back upstairs to re-work it.

I also took a picture of Bella with a tea bag so you can see how “large” I am making this:

And, because this is such a close-up view of Bella, I painted in whiskers (which I don’t usually do):

OK, now we are DONE.

In loving memory of the Divine Miss Bella.

Tune in next week, when I do the final Stromness Rock Pet Portrait. Spoiler: It’s for Gali, who showed The Rock a good time in Massachusetts. Gali has — wait for it — a dog. Not just any dog. A Golden Retriever.

I’m not at all sure I can pull this off. Stay tuned.

So, this being the week that it was, we had revelations about Trump’s being a bankrupt and ethically compromised tax cheat, a presidential debate, and a Supremem Court nomination of a religious wacko.

Yeah, It’s the usual.















Proof that better days are ahead in this thread on my Twitter tl:






This wasn’t in the tl, but it was heartening all the same:

Oh, right. I forgot that Trump’s press secretary, who lies all the time, told a really dumb lie:

In Religious news, it was a mixed bag this week:


Now let’s get to those tax returns:

















The answer, below, is “No”:


































You made it! You made it through this looooong post and another week of 2020! Be happy, Dear Ones; Donald Trump has COVID!

Stay healthy, stay away from Republicans, and, oh yeah:

Fuck Trup.








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