Writing room

Date night, July, Manhattan:

Last Friday evening Top Cat swept me off to the Big City.


Fun Time Wedding Shower Takes to the Streets: The Bachelorette-of-Honor posing with New York’s Finest.

It was a beautiful time of day to be in the East Village.


I remember when I had a boyfriend who in the East Village it was a dump…now it’s almost as chic as the Upper West Side:


There’s even a touch of New Orleans in the neighborhood!:


But this I remember from the ’80s — traffic light art installations:


The guy on the left, with the bulging pants pockets: NOW I get why they call them CARGO PANTS!!

I love Manhattan. People live out loud in Manhattan — right on the streets:


I love the flow of humanity, at all hours:


Skateboarders in the flow of traffic:


And this warmed my heart — a young girl reading a book, a real BOOK, while on the go:


Top Cat took me to a sidewalk cafe for a glass (two) of wine, and then we hoofed down to 6th Street for a wonderful Indian dinner.

Scene in an Indian Restaurant, July 26, 2013

Couple in their late 30s, an empty bottle of wine between them. He is going on and on about the injustice of the US government’s persecution of NSA-leaker Edward Snowden. She, who seems to have drunk the greater part of that bottle of wine, has had enough when she lifts her empty wine glass and waves it in front of her, merrily announcing: “And you say J’accuse!

At 8:30 on a heartbreakingly beautiful Sumer evening we made our way to Webster Hall:


I don’t know if you can read the marquee, but that’s PAUL WELLER! My sweet Top Cat tok me to see my Punk Rock crush!! (I haven’t been to a rock concert (excluding Paul Weller in New York three times, Los Angeles once, London twice) in, oh…ten years. And it’s still as exciting as the first time — Stephen Stills and Manassas at the Philadelphia Spectrum in 1971.)


Oh, lordy, I loves me Paul Weller. It was standing room only in Webster Hall, so I insinuated myself to the front lines:


You remember Paul Weller, right? He’s huge in the UK but known as a “cult” figure here in America so he does very few gigs in the States — six sows in NY, boston, and D.C. this time ’round.


I screamed, and po-go’ed, and hollered the words when he did That’s Entertainment and completely lost it when he did a hard-rock version of my favorite song of all time , My Ever-Changing Moods. I could hardly move or speak when it was over. Good times.

I respect Paul Weller for still rocking the same Mod look that he had when he fronted the Jam in 1979, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE him for rocking the grey hair.


I’ve never been a Stones fan because Mick Jagger makes my skin crawl, all the more so when I see his 70-year old brunette locks. Grey hair is so hard core!


Top Cat loves my grey hair and I love that Top Cat surprises me with tickets to go see Paul Weller’s silver locks. My husband gets me, and my rock and roll crushes. In return, he has my permission to go for it if Nicole Kidman ever requests a late-night back rub from the one and only T.C.

The other exciting news this week is that I got my Majorelle Bleu paint:


I had to get a shot of it in daylight on the glass-topped patio table with my new lanterns.

(Tea bag for scale.)  This is the quantity you can order (250 mlk) for $48. It comes from Switzerland, and for all I know the good people at the Majorelle Garden in Marrakech order it from the same factory whenever they have to re-paint the landmarks this distinctive, saturated, intense color:


Just to remind you why it’s called “Majorelle Bleu” — photo taken on my visit to the garden in Marrakech May 2013.

Just for comparison, here are color swatches from my bluest Grumbacher paints (in the little pan-thingy) and my Windsor Newton Artists’s watercolors (in the tube):


I used the tube watercolors straight, no diluting with water.

And then I went outside and photographed the colors in the full sunlight at 3 o’clock Wednesday afternoon for you:


Majorelle Triscuit winner, Bev, has been waiting for this moment. I wanted to dab on the true Majorelle Bleu before I sent her the Tirscuit she won:


I just put this Triscuit in the mail today so Bev, thank you for your patience and I love going to the post office to mail Triscuits to AUSTRALIA!!!


And now, as promised, off we go to my Writing Room.

Truth to tell, it’s not so much a “room” as a corner of a really big den. Yes, that’s a wheel chair. When I had knee surgery last Fall I got a wheelchair and it’s the most comfortable writing chair I’ve ever owned…so I’m still using it.


The floor of our den is black slate, so the wheelchair’s wheels don’t mark it up like the old desk chairs all did. I hardly even think of it as a wheel chair these days; it’s just my writing chair with the handy foot rests.

I have a trash can propping open the door and to my right is a small table with the manuscript on it, where I can lay out pages and measure each for text (see: last week’s post re: what the manuscript of a professional illustrated travel memoirist looks like.).

This is my desk top:


A long time ago I read that it’s best to write facing a blank wall (Annie Dillard says so), so yes, that’s a blank wall in front of me. And that’s a Spode tea cup that is a permanent fixture…


….because it’s where I unload the Smarties, this writer’s preferred Brain Food (duh)Smartie’s are imported from Canada, so they’re gourmet. (Thank you, GG, for the Turkish tile photo to inspire me with another shade of blue!)

And meet the  facilitators of my writing life. First there’s Cindy:


And then there’s Penelope:


However, the most dangerous cat in the whole herd is a certain indoor/outdoor cat, who was born feral but has discovered that with a cute face like his a cat can get unlimited door service at our house, giving him free access to all the comforts of home-living while maintaining his independence and his fierce, wild, savage ways. I’m just telling you, so you know what I’m dealing with, that Lickety is one scary, ferocious, desperado.


Don’t be fooled by the beached-whale pose. Lickety is gangsta.

So you can see how frightening it is when Lickety decides to supervise the writing process, up close and personal:


And the way he just makes himself at home…


…sometimes even getting his reprobate brother Taffy in on it…


…oh, the horror.



20 Comments, RSS

  1. Jeannie

    The blue!!! Gorgeous! What a difference between the blues and the Marjorelle is so alive with pigment. Top Cat sure does know how to treat his Lady. 🙂 I had to laugh during your writing studio tour. Before 2 of our cats passed away, that was the scene of my desk. One or all four where lazing, preferably on paper I was working on or in my lap helping me type. Have a wonderful weekend!

  2. Denise

    Ha! Something else we have in common. I too, am a Paul Weller fan, though I ‘ve never seen him perform. I owned at least one Style Council record, loved them, especially the “Big Boss Groove”.
    Love, as always your pics of your cats, my Topper also often fell asleep in the “beached whale” position. Adorable ! His markings and * ahem * size remind me so much of my dear fur husband.
    I’ll have to back track your blog to read again about your knee surgery. I am currently waiting on seeing an orthopaedic surgeon as I may need an arthroscopic surgery on my knee. How’s your knee now? I’m guessing its pretty good considering all the walking you do when you travel. Gives me hope for my future travels as I love to walk everywhere, best way to see things and get a taste for the country

  3. janet bellusci

    before i even read your comment about paul weller, i said to myself, I LOVE THAT THIS GUY HAS EMBRACED HIS GRAY HAIR!! it looks amazing, sexy and fantastic!! for my 50th birthday gift to myself, i let my hair go gray, and my husband loved it (and emmy lou harris!). now 10 years later, it still rocks, and i get MOLTO complements on it, often encouraging other women i know to JUST DO IT!!

    your writing room is such fun to visit, thank you! the first thing i noticed (and loved) is your MEET THE BEATLES album cover, framed! way to go, vivian!

  4. Megan Hyatt

    I so look forward to your blog posts. Love the cats, what can I say? We are planning a trip to NYC in October, my first visit to America… I have lots of things I want to see. Still love the cats, they know how to live!

  5. Laura

    What does it sound like in your writing room and studio? Silence? Music? Tranquility fountains? Faint TV from the next room? Your tours provided sights and activities, now I’m curious about the sounds. Thank you for sharing so much of your process.
    Thank you for the side-by-side comparison of the blues. Very informative.

  6. Carol

    Penelope is SMILING in her picture! (Well, it looks like smiling to me.) Pumpkin will be thrilled. Your desk looks like it belongs to someone who works VERY hard to entertain and educate the rest of us. You take us all kinds of places and remind us that just HERE right where we are can be pretty awesome. Happy Friday to you and TC and Lickety.

  7. Bunny

    Wow, a night out in the big apple, seeing your hero, with your honey in tow, what more could a girl want?
    And, your home looks so, well, homely, with all those helpers, its no wonder you get so much accomplished.
    Thanks for the look inside a writers studio! Happy August.

  8. Pippa

    Wow…I get a night out in New York City, I jump and holler at a rock concert, I paint with the world’s most bluest blue paint, I look over the shoulder of a world-famous author, and on top of it all I get to scare myself silly by going face to face with a wild ferocious feral Lickety. It’s a good thing you only post once a week, Vivian …your life would exhaust me every day.

    Thank you for the adventure, as always.

  9. Sounds like a great fun time — and I’ve got to say I love the cat pix. Because that’s just the kind of cat-woman I am! Penelope cracks me up — it looks like she has this great big grin! And I can see why Lickety worms his way in. That’s a Lizzie Cosette pose, for sure and so is getting the face right into the computer!

    Thanks for sharing your work space — I love seeing where other people do their thing and the furballs they do it with!

  10. I ,too, am interested in the “work” sounds you use for your writing. Or is it totally quiet?
    Good question, Laura.
    I love the MAC on your desk. They are beautiful.

    Top Cat is absolutely the best husband I ever heard of. A New York evening out and a rock concert to go with it. Must have been a lucky day you met him. How long ago?
    If I’m being too personal, slap my wrist. I don’t have to know; just nosy. Love your work……

  11. Sherry Kitchen

    Another great glimpse of your life..love NYC. the energy there is electric… havent been back since the Strawberry Fields Park was first dedicated around 85…went to see Roger Waters 2x’s at Radio City on that trip. Hubby Paul is ”real” fan..me too but I especially liked the park and museums.Only time I ever went to the Tavern. Am still surprised they let us in…so much fun!! The blue is primary…perfect clear opaque.. very nice touch to the triscuit. Pops out! Especially like the head to head lounging kitties– what fun and …you made me miss my gangsta..Stinker. He must’ve made all the neighborhood gals stay out all nite…hahah Thanks for the great read!

  12. Sherry Kitchen

    postscript additionals— love that you are also a grey supporter! I like my long silvery streaks which match my developing jowl & creepy neck thing..;-))

  13. Gigi

    Oh how I have missed you and your readers. I have been working way too much – and apparently complaining to my bosses (oh, yes – there are several…) enough to actually make some changes. So on this Friday evening, I am having vivid memories of my own Manhattan love affair, while I kibbutz over yours.

    Vivid Vivian blue should be the name of the paint – it is astonishingly and absolutely audacious in its intensity. And speaking of hues, I like to think my gray hair leans heavily toward tow. =)

  14. Gigi

    Yes to Essaouria. Yes to pudgy cats. And pudgy dogs – and well, pretty much everyone seems glossy haired and well fed. Tons of fresh seafood in the little restaurants that are just steps away from the boats that are taken out to catch the bounty – crowded tables, noisy noon-time crowds, and plates piled high with fresh (FRESH!!) fish. Makes everyone want to purr.

  15. That Top Cat. I mean, really. Could he get any better? (Humming ‘Town Called Malice’ this morning, thanks to you two.)

    Geez, the blue is so intense, even at the remove of a few computer screens. I have some of the WN tube cobalt, and ultramarine, and thought it was pretty strong, but now! Woah…

    Half my hair turned gray this year. Going with it.

  16. Carly

    What a pleasure to start my weekend with news from the East village, the Majorelle, and from the wild frontier (of your backyard).

    I’m years (I hope) from going gray but you are right. Gray is the new blond.

    Four years ago I saw Green Day at Webster Hall, traveled all the way from Boston to come see these guys in New York City. It was insane: loud, fun, dancing, party, tribal — so I get your love for punk rock.

  17. HUGE difference in the blues. $50 a bottle is pretty steep but obviously there’s nothing else like it. Smarties imported from Canada? really? you guys don’t get Smarties down there? that’s kind of a major injustice. I may need to send you a care package one of these days.

  18. Joan

    Smartees are one of my favorite treats too! Just the right amount of pucker power…I can buy them by the LB. bag size in our local grocery store. Didn’t know they were Canada imports.

    Your cats really have a tough life having to be your administrative assistants, poor things. They look so overworked and underpaid? Are they forming a Union? The UCWofA? The United Cat Workers of America?

    The intense blue is really BLUE, makes the others look downright wimpy! Beautiful color. Is it acrylic or watercolor pigment? If it’s that expensive for a teeny bottle, what must it cost to paint an entire building with it?

    Love to see the work area/studio of working artists or writers. My paints are scattered here and there. Sometimes I paint at the kitchen table rather than my desk. I prefer the kitchen. For some reason it’s where I’m most comfortabl when I paint.

    About 5 years ago I decided to let my hair go from red (bottled) to natural…hair is totally gray with a very distinctive dark streak on top. I have never gotten so many compliments on my hair! I love it and so does my husband.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *