October 2021

I’m back!

Thank you, all you Dear Readers, especially Bea, Betsy, Carol, Jeanie, Judy, Kirra, Leslie, Maryanne (the OG), Megan, The Artist Currently Known as Rachel, Robert, Steve, and Susie, for your concern. Thank you, Mom, and Thank You Anonymous who sent me a post card from the V&A Museum from somewhere in America. I’m fine. I’m still miffed that it’s October but I’m fine.

It was a series of unfortunate events that kept me away for two weeks. I was not seriously ill (truth to tell, I had a hangover for the first time in, oh…15 years) because our oldest cat, Candy, died (and it was not an easy or pretty death, at home because of bad timing with the vet) the day before the first anniversary of my best friend’s death, and my dream of seeing BTS in LA was in peril because of computer problems and Ticketmaster susks, and so Top Cat replaced our WiFi hardware which shut us down completely, and I don’t have to tell you that dealing with the cable company SUCKS but here’s how it went On Day Three, when we were told that the problem would be fixed within three hours; naturally, Top Cat was skeptical so he repeated: “Three Hours?” and the customer service guy said “Yes, three hours. Or 24 at the most.”

So yeah, it’s hasn’t been a great month and the Republicans are still hell-bent on destroying democracy in America and I didn’t want to deal. I’m sorry for going AWOL but you know, sometimes you just gotta throw up your hands and take a day or week or two off. 

One thing that I squared away while I was taking time off was our Halloween candy situation. We do not give out “fun” size candy because they are skimpy and an insult to the spirit of the holiday, so I insist that we give out regular-size candy bars and this year Top Cat said he had it under control. But this is what he thinks is a Treat: Mounds bars (ew — coconut), Snickers (ew — peanuts) and Mocha Kit Kats (MOCHA). If I, as a kid (or as an adult) were to be given any of those candy bars I would put you on  my Mischief list, so I went out and got the good stuff. Come to my house and if I get to the candy dish first, I’ll be handing out Three Musketeers,  dark chocolate Milky Ways, and Cabury’s Caramels.  There’s even a few Heath bars in the mix.

I’ve also been wheeling and dealing every damn day, making deals and appeals and I finally have my Los Angeles trip sorted out, as of just last night. Through machinations that I never want to go through again I have tickets to two nights of BTS at SoFi Stadium HEART BE STILL, and a bonus ticket to a show called the Jingle Ball, hosted by iHeart Radio, at the Forum. BTS is only going to do 2 songs at the Jingle Ball, but Ed Sheehan will be there and Dua Lipa will be there, and a slew of people I have never heard of who are probably very famous but I’m old and don’t have a clue. The Kid LAROI? Tate McRae? Bazzie? 

I don’t regret the time, effort, and $$$ it’s going to take for me to travel 3,000 miles, on Top Cat’s birthday, to be in the same giant stadium with my Korean husbands because last week this came up on my Twitter timeline and put it all in perspective:

Seize the day, Dear Readers. Seize the day.

So let’s seize today, shall we?

Today I’m going to take you to Yorkshire, England, to a small valley near Halifax. This is the view where there once was a coal mine owned by the the local landowner Anne Lister, who called her mine works the Walker Pit, after her life partner Ann Walker (whose money financed the operation). The tower you see is actually a ventilation shaft from the underground mineshaft.

I’m going to paint this for my friend the author Janet Lea, whose book, The Gentleman Jack Effect,  is all about the enormous influence that Anne Lister, and her wife Ann Walker, have had on the worldwide LGBTQ+ community. Janet took this photo (above) on her recent visit to Halifax for her book launch in September.

There is one thing about this photo that I am dying to paint, and one thing that I am dreading. What I’m dreading is the tower, because as you can see, it is a challenging structure because I happen to know what it looks like on a bright, sunny day:

The tower (above, in bright sunshine) would be very easy to paint and it is exactly the kind of thing I love painting.  It is architectural, it has a simple  geometry, and it has a pattern (I love patterns, esp. stone patterns).

But, as you can see in Janet’s photo, her tower is not like the one pictured above. Janet’s photo was shot from a very different angle than the one above, on a moody, rain-threatened afternoon.  The problem is that Janet’s tower looks nothing like the tidy octagonal net-gothic obelisk above; it looks almost as if it is a ruin. In order to paint it I will have to paint only what I see in the photo, that is, be like Monet, and paint it as if it were nothing but planes of shadow and light, and forget about what I know is there.

P.S. I’m not good at that kind of thing. 

But what excites me about this photo, and what I am dying to paint, is the foreground:

To paint these (for want of a better word) weeds in the foreground I want to try something here that I’ve never done, and I’m excited to get started. So, the first thing I do is lay down a base coat of straw color:  

I have used masking fluid to cover the top  bit of the tower — the part that is in the sky — and I am using the same masking fluid (below) to draw stalks and flower-heads on top of my base coat of straw color: 

While the masking fluid is drying, I am going to paint the sky. I start with a wash  of clean water:

I dab white paint on my brush because white paint does weird things, and I  also dip it into a blue/gray mix that  I made and I’m going to let the pigments duke it out on the paper:

I’ll be dipping my brush into darker and darker blue/gray mixes and watching how it all reacts to the water that is soaking the paper:

Once I have a good slurry of paint on the paper, I twist a Kleenex (see below) and will use it to pick up a strategic amount of color. . .  

. . . in order to expose the white paper underneath:

Drop in some more paint for contrast:

And let dry:

Although I am itching to paint those foreground weeds, I have to be methodical, so I start doing the delightful little fields and forests in the background:

This is persnickety stuff because the landscape here is very specific, and I have to get every tree and field:

 

 

I have this new thing I do when the paint is wet. I use a toothpick to etch grooves into the paper in order to make fine lines. Here (below), I’m doing it to add texture to a middle ground bush:

At last! I can start on the weeds! First, I’m going to paint over the masking fluid!

 

 

While that dries, I’m going to tackle the tower:

 

Although I’m only showing two photos of the tower-painting,  I spent a LOT of time getting the shadows right. I also fucked , up the perspective (as you can see, above) and had to fix it. In real time, I worked on this tower over two different days because I needed a break so I could come back to it with rested and fresh eyes. 

But once I had to tower done to my satisfaction, I had to do the middle ground in front of it. I used white acrylic paint to add in some stray stalks over the background:

 

 

I stopped here again, and when I came back to this paiting the next day I saw something that I had not noticed the day before. Namely, that I had made a mess of the middle ground. I hate that there is a line that bi-sects this middle ground area of wild brambles (below) — can you see it too?

Luckily I was able to “erase” the line:

And now I can lift off the masking fluid on the foreground and get to the FUN PART:

I start by adding long stokes of color:

 

 

This is an intermediate look at the WIP. I took another day to make lots of detail in the foreground . . . 

Here’s the story. When Janet was climbing the  hills above Walker’s Pit, she spotted a bit of blue gleaming in the tall grass. Lo and behold, it was the iridescent sparkle of a rook’s wing feather:

She brought that feather all the way back to New Mexico, where she placed it in a LeDuree macaroon box and sent it to Yours Truly, to whom it is a prized possession.

Everything looks better with a mat:

So, if you’ve been paying attention to the Congressional committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, you’ve noticed how hoard the Republicans are working to gaslight the House and the American people about how the riot was not a big deal and that Democrats should Get Over It. Tucker Carlson, the shit stain who defends white supremacy on Fox News, has a documentary coming out in January that claims the whole thing was an FBI “false flag” operation.

I can’t s[end too much time soon this shit because it makes my blood boil. Honestly, I can feel a tightness n my chest every time I think about Trump and his enablers and his shit-for-brains supporters. This can’t be good for my mental or physical health, so I have to go light on the current events this week. But here are some highlights:

 

 

 

Here’s the receipt:

 

 

 

 

P.S. This is Steve Bannon, Trump’s political consultant who was in the War Room on January 6, calling the shots on the insurrection:

To be fair, Steve Bannon looks half dead already.

This is from January 7, 2021:

 

 

So far in 2021, there have been 232 mass shootings in America, with 437 deaths. 

 

 

 

 

 

All over the country police unions are protesting their city’s vaccine mandates. Here in New York City, the protests are large and noisy, but I only have  photos from Seattle so let’s shit on Seattle PD today:

 

 

 

And now for something completely different.

I pulled some great Halloween costumes from the inter webs but I have to admit, I’m partial to the Squid Game ones:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Mrs. Hall, social studies teacher, doing Dwight Shrute. Standing O for Mrs. Hall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a great weekend, everyone. Take your mind off of the world’s dire problems and go get a sugar coma (whether from too much candy corn or tequila, ii don’t judge) and enjoy all the fun of Halloween. As Janet Lea says, Have a Blue Feather Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You might remember that last May we welcomed a new member of the family here at Too Many Cats Manor. This is Teddy:

I’m happy to report that Teddy is fitting in quite well to his new surroundings, where the prevailing aesthetic is We Can Not Have Nice Things. Here’s where he made his “mark”, you could say, on the Summer curtains in our guest room:

I guess he thought the drapes needed an aperture? Or two?

So, yeah, this is how we live.

Here’s Teddy helping me study Korean . . .

. . . which brings me to the news that me and Teddy are very hip these days with our Korean hobby, as the Oxford English Dictionary has validated the influence that Korean culture is having on Western society when it announced, on October 5, that  it was adding 26 words of Korean origin to its latest edition. With these additions, “we are all riding the crest of the Korean wave” the OED said in a statement. 

  • aegyo
  • banchan
  • bulgogi
  • chimaek
  • daebak
  • dongchimi
  • fighting
  • galbi
  • hallyu
  • hanbok
  • japchae
  • K-
  • K-drama
  • kimbap
  • Konglish
  • Korean wave
  • manhwa
  • mukbang
  • noona
  • oppa
  • PC bang
  • samgyeopsal
  • skinship
  • tang soo do
  • trot
  • unni

I  had to look up “tang too do” —  I thought it might be food, but it’s a form of martial art that I’ve never heard of.  

And this, Dear Readers, is where I have to leave you today. I am feeling poorly and I just don’t have the energy to load all the bits of news and pop culture that I’ve been saving this past week. I apologize, and I will miss our get-together, but I’ll be in form, I’m sure, next Friday.

P.S. Ticketmaster is a fucking nightmare and after three rounds I STIL have not secured my BTS tickets. But there are two more chances to pile back into the scrum, today and tomorrow, and I have a  magic feather that will give me the power to soar above the fray. 

Have a great weekend, everyone. 

P.S. There really is a magic feather and I will tell you the whole story next week.

 

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Fall here on the north shore of Long Island is a very beautiful time of year when you are in the right frame of mind. That frame of mind makes you eager to wear your favorite sweaters again; happy to sleep with soft blankets pulled up to your chin and to get up in the dark to pull on wooly socks in the warm pool of light cast by your bedside lamp; cheerful when the afternoon chill sets in at 4 o’clock and that means “toast and tea time” with a cat on your lap; feeling invigorated by the crispness of the air every time you step outdoors and excited about the drama that comes when Nature undergoes its most radical change of the year.

But that’s not me. I’m not that girl. 

Here are pictures from Autumns Past that I took back when I was the type of person who didn’t equate Fall with gloom and boredom:

Taffy and Bibs on the kitchen patio.

On my morning run in 2020:

On Long Island Sound:

A mile from my house:

Typical Fall morning:

Taffy, contemplating Autumn :

Arrangement of leaves in my front yard:

To answer a question that Dear Reader Christine asked last week, Yes, I think I will be able to get out of my funk in time to do an Autumn Leaf painting this year. 

The colors peak in very late October or early November, so we have a few weeks for me to turn this situation around and start hunting for the Perfect Fall Leaf.

But let’s not rush it. I have one final, fantastic story to tell you that proves how special the Summer of 2021 was for moi.  

Top Cat and I packed a picnic dinner on Saturday (September 25), a day that still felt like Summer, and headed to Morgan Park to watch the sun set and celebrate the Autumnal Solstice. Morgan Park is a 40-acre site on a bluff overlooking the Long Island Sound with a landscape that was carefully designed to look “natural” by architects hired by financier and Gilded Age robber baron J. P. Morgan in 1926 to build an environment in memory of his wife and gifted to the citizens of Glen Cove, Long Island, because that’s what billionaires did when they were born at a time when they couldn’t blow their wealth by going up in space.

 

Top Cat and I have a favorite picnicking spot in Morgan Park but on this day we discovered that it was taken up by a large children’s party complete with bouncy castle (which we are sure can’t be legal in a public park). So we hiked around and found a place that was quiet and had a decent view of the horizon and we unpacked our dinner and poured two cups of champagne (which we are sure is absolutely not legal in a public park) and we toasted the arrival of Fall.  Top Cat, in a mood to generate ideas about what we can do, where we can go in the waning months of 2021 so we can have something to look forward to,  asked me, “So, what do you see in the future?”

And I said, “Nothing good.”

I explained that the main thing that I see in the future is that one of us will die before the other and that it’s going to suck if you’re the first one to go, because you’ll be dead, and it will suck if you’re the second one to go, because you’ll be left behind.

(As you can see, I am a joy to be around these days.)

That said, I then took a big swig of champagne and pointed to something in the grass about 12 feet away.

“Does that look like a feather to you?” I asked.

When you are a collector of feathers, a lot of things look like feathers — twigs, leaves, shadows, bits of trash. I’d been eyeing a sliver of something sticking straight up in the grass, a suspicious silhouette that appeared to be almost black, something that was much darker than the green grass surrounding it. The sun was in our eyes, so I couldn’t get a good look at it.

Top Cat said, “I can’t tell.” He wasn’t really all that interested in the issue and, well, neither was I, really, because Blue Jay molting season is over and it had been 21 days since I’d found a feather, but what did I have to lose?

So I put down my cup of champagne and I strolled over to have a look and this is what I found:

And this, Ladies and Gentlemen, is exactly how the Universe tells you that this is a delightful planet full of beautiful things to discover if you shut the fuck up and stop whining. 

While I was pretty much flabbergasted to find this, my favorite kind of Blue Jay feather, I could tell that Top Cat wasn’t as awe-struck as I was at the audacity of the Great Spirit to gift me this one final harbinger of hopefulness. I couldn’t understand how he could be so calm about it, but then, he was the designated driver and had not guzzled two Solo cups of California’s finest brut.

With that, I was ready to close the 2021 Blue Jay Feather Collection and I mounted my finds all together:

In total I found 41 Blue Jay feathers, by far the most I’ve ever found in a single season. The feather in the top right corner was a birthday gift from a friend in Kentucky — all the others are local. I arranged them so that all the wing feathers are on top, tail feathers in the middle, and special feathers on the bottom: I had three days when I found three feathers, and of course the Morgan Park feather deserves its place as the coda of a memorable Summer.

And speaking of memorable, my friend , author Janet Lea, sent me this photo from her book launch — The Gentleman Jack Effect —  in Halifax last week:

Janet’s book sold out in the UK! That’s her, above, in the blue shirt, talking with none other than Suranne Jones, the star of the hit BBC drama Gentleman Jack, who came to Yorkshire to add her star power to the events that commemorated Anne Lister, of which Janet was a featured speaker and honored guest. How’s that for coming into your own??

Buy the book here.

It looks like, if things go according to plan, that I, too, will be traveling next month, the first time I will have left home since March 2020. 

They will be at SoFi Stadium . . . 

. . . which is a brand new — opened in November 2020 —  high-capacity venue seating 70,000 (but can be expanded to 100,000 for events such as a Super Bowl or a BTS concert), but I don’t think it’s big enough to hold four days’ worth of BTS ARMY. 

As it happened, on the same day that BTS announced their LA concerts, I went to my GP for my annual physical. I had to do the thing where a rubber sleeve is wrapped around my arm and inflated until it feels as if my fingers are about to fall off and, for the first time ever in my life, I registered as having high blood pressure. 

My doctor was very concerned about this sudden development and quizzed me about life style changes and my eating habits and asked me if I was depressed. She wants me to come back in three weeks so we can do the test again and consider behavioral or pharmaceutical therapies.

I couldn’t tell her that I have high blood pressure because I’m stressed out about getting tickets to see BTS.  Now, I was holding tickets to their cancelled shows in 2020, so  get the chance to buy in advance of GP sales, but I’m only in the second-tier of VIP advance-sales queue so even thinking about having to get into the scrum, once again, for extremely hard-to-get BTS tickets makes my heart pound. The Hunger Games happensfor me on Oct 6, next Wednesday, so by October 7 I will know whether I’m back to normal blood pressure of if I have lost my will to live.

So that’s what’s up with me. Let’s see how the rest of the U. S. is faring:

Congress had to OK a new debt ceiling so the United States wouldn’t go into default, and the Republicans threatened to block the action and shut down the government just to make Joe Biden look bad. They eventually caved, but. . . 

 

Arizona Republicans announced the result of their bulllshit “audit” of the 2020 Presidential election, a process that was in the hands of an iffy Florida outfit called Cyber Ninjas, and the count was:

 

 

 

 

 

 

COVID news:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. A fork would work, too, but extra points for the stylish chopsticks, dude!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For $5, the Second Chance Animal Rescue will write the name of someone you hate on the bottom of a litter box.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a great weekend, everyone. If you want to have a calm, relaxing Saturday and Sunday DO NOT, under any circumstances, watch Squid Game, the No. 1 show on Netflix, the first Korean series to make this rank. This is great TV, with superb social commentary, breath-holding suspense, and non-stop thrills.  

However, if you can’t resist tuning in, be prepared to ruin your plans for a completely uneventful and snooze-filled weekend.  

Or, sleep late and put an old Temptations record on and bake a loaf of bread and eat it while it’s warm with a slice of cheddar and a glass of Pinot Noir because it’s October and that’s good, too.

 

XXOO 

 

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