Queen of Bad Habits

One year ago, on March 16 2016, I took a look at my life and decided that Things Had To Change:

This was the day, last March 19, when I did my semi-annual bottle return on my empty Fresca cans. Note: I live in New York state, on the USA, where recycling empty soda cans and bottles is mandatory and for which we consumers pay 5 cents per container upon purchase, which we get back when we drop off the empties to appointed recycling locations. I think I made close to $170 on this haul.

This is when the reality of all those cans of soda, ingested one by one by yours truly, every morning (Ah! Is there is anything better than an ice cold can of Fresca with breakfast?) and once or twice during the day for the past three years, hit me as a regrettable life style choice on my part. All that ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, all those doses of brominated vegetable oil, all that gunky acesulfame potassium, not to mention the aspartame that breaks down into formaldehyde in the body (Wait. Isn’t that a preservative? And shouldn’t that help me look forever 57?) and the citrus acid that made me teeth hurt — that made for quite a swill in my guts. And I pride myself on having swill-free guts.

So I quit, that very day, cold turkey. Since then I have not had so much as a SIP of Fresca, going on for 368 days now. Yay me.

It’s not much, to kick a Fresca habit, but the news has been so very, very bad this week that I needed a win and this is all I got: Fresca.

Well, here’s some good news: Monet’s garden in Giverny opens to the public TODAY!

I know this because I read Ariane, Guide to Giverny, who lives in Giverny and wanders through the Clos Normand and the Water Garden throughout all the months of the year knows the ins and outs of this garden as well as Monet himself — catch up with her latest wanderings in her English language blog here. Or, if you want to really delve into the subject, try her wonderful blog in French, Giverny News. Whenever you feel like you wish you were back in Giverny, Ariane’s blogs will take you there, so what are you waiting for?

Speaking of Monet’s Water Garden, I took a shot at painting a lily pond view of his famous Japanese bridge this past week. The view includes the dreaded Copper Beech, so I did a preliminary test of color blobs before I began to paint:

The famous willow tree, working wet-in-wet:

Remove masking fluid, Phase I:

Paint in bridge:

I made the decision here that I can’t deal with all the vegetation in this view — it gets very repetitive and BORING — so I am going to mess around and use my pencil drawing to “fill in” the rest of the landscape. Also, I think that leaving so much white space makes the view more interesting, and makes me almost not hate that damn Copper Beech.

Now, paint in water. This is the trickiest part, because you have to paint in lots of reflections, and some how blob green paint into rose and blue watercolor, a color combination that will make a nice muddy brown if you don’t do it right. It helps greatly if you’ve done this kind of thing mucho times before, and you know both the saturation point of your paper and the timing of each blob of color so it doesn’t make soup:

Remove masking fluid, Phase II:

Paint water lilies:


Monet water lily pond

Dear Readers, how you doing? It’s been a tough week. Don’t get me started. I knew it was going to be a tough year (or four) when I started a Happiness Jar on New Year’s Day:

Yep. That’s all I got. Two notes, commemorating two moments of joy so far this year. Oh, wait. I forgot to write about those Southern-fried pickles I had on Mardi Gras. So that’s three moments of joy, in 83 days.  Actually, I think that’s pretty damn good going, for a Capricorn, in the time of der Drumpf. We have a habit of thinking the worst of people and things. Because we’re only being realistic.

But this is an amazing world so you never know how much things can get better, all of a sudden. You could be walking in the woods, on some fine Spring day, and you look up, and there’s a red panda:

It could happen.

Have a great weekend, Dear Readers.

And der Trumpf is still an oozing stinking pustule of scum.


17 Comments, RSS

  1. Carey March 24, 2017 @ 1:20 pm

    I want to walk in the woods where you walk. As long as we are talking wishes, I also want to paint like you paint. I know very well how to make brown soup, don’t have any idea how to make two colors glisten next to each other. I think I need a personal tutorial, one on one so I can watch you blob.

    My heart goes out to London once again.

    I haven’t thought of that word “pustule” in ages. good one.

  2. Carey March 24, 2017 @ 1:20 pm

    I forgot to add: “Queen of Bad Habits” would make a great book title.

    • Patricia March 24, 2017 @ 6:38 pm

      Yes on “Queen of Bad Habits” for a title. You’ve got the name and title. All of us could contribute bad habits. I’ve got lots I can spare… and you just paint, sketch and write the damn thing.

  3. Mary March 24, 2017 @ 2:35 pm

    How do you think of so many views to paint? You must have saved this one for a while.Beautiful.
    LOVE Giverny views. Thank you.

    Add to your collection of Tramp’s descriptions,
    From the New York Times of Jan. 14, 2017—I have it on my apt. door:
    “Trump is a garbage conveyor belt, passing along every bit of half-fermented slop that comes his way. ”

    (Tim Egan) editor.)
    Yes. Really.

    Mary from PA.

  4. Mary March 24, 2017 @ 2:40 pm

    Wrong date. Written and published January 13th.
    I printed it out and sent it to people on the 14th.

  5. deb mattin March 24, 2017 @ 4:47 pm

    I laughed out loud at your trunk full of empties. My addiction is Diet Coke , which we fondly refer to as Diet Crack. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if the authorities ever confiscated my shopping list which always includes “diet crack”. ( In these days of Trumpf we need to be concerned even about our shopping lists.)

    LOVE your painting – that water is amazing.

  6. jeanie March 24, 2017 @ 5:52 pm

    Hey, the health care bill just went down this afternoon — at least for awhile, pulled. That’s good. Maybe not full fledged happiness jar but at least a smile. OK, so you have Fresca. I have a garage full of empty Tab cans. I have no idea what it is doing to my insides (given that it starts my day and often ends it and yes, in-between too). We all have our addictions. I applaud your cold turkey. I’m just trying to get to three a day…

    Your timing on the lily pond is perfect. I just printed out one of my Giverny photos to play with and that whole background and lush foliage was making me crazy so I put it on hold and painted Pickles for his mom (Pickles is a cat with whom I’m on very friendly terms.) Now I have a bit more confidence to go forth into the water! Thanks!

  7. Megan March 24, 2017 @ 6:05 pm

    Very pretty watercolour painting. Spend some time with your cats, they are marvellous at cheering people up. I think the world is in a bad place, but one random nutter does not make a terrorist attack. The media need to take a breath. Things are bad but we can’t live our lives and make the place better being fearful. I went to see a film this week, The Coming War on China. It is not good, but very worthwhile to see. We have to do our bit to make the place better, less paranoid, happier, helping people out. You do your bit here on your blog, we each need to write to our politicians and campaign and be nice to people, we can change things. Also congratulations with your battle against soft drink. I am amazed you could do it, such willpower. Hi to Taffy.

  8. Monique March 25, 2017 @ 9:32 am

    I was a Diet Coke Gal..stopped 10 yrs ago..cold turkey like you.No rgerets.
    I don’t feel better lol..but at least I know my insides are not having copper penny reaction.
    I’ll stick to wine.

    Only 3 Happiness Stubs?:(

    You should add a few from us..you make us happy and inspired w/ Fridays…except I just saw this today,being Saturday.:)
    Love your Giverny work:)

  9. Deev March 25, 2017 @ 9:33 am

    Find myself wondering about others who share my ritual of reading that month in “When Wanderers Cease to Roam.” I do it in a leisurely way, reading a page or two every week, always swept into the scenes, no matter how many times I’ve read them. And NEVER reading a month ahead!

    It is the only one on my bedside table (other books I’m reading get tucked out of sight in one of the drawers).

    Just finished March, found myself wondering, “What is she doing these days?” – and discovered your blog!

    Peeling myself out of bed (slept decadently late – it’s GREY this am in SE PA), away from a still slumbering hubster & two snoozed cats, going downstairs for a celebratory cuppa!

    Thank you for so delicately adding such richness to my life!

  10. Deev March 25, 2017 @ 9:45 am

    As for these startling times we live in, allow me to HIGHLY recommend Robert Grudin’s freakishly spot-on 2006 book, “American Vulgar – the politics of manipulation versus the culture of awareness.” (Vulgar as in coarse.)

  11. Mae March 25, 2017 @ 4:18 pm

    Returnable aluminum cans here in Michigan are not a nickel, but a whole dime each. My wonderful neighbor collects them throughout the neighborhood, returns them for their deposit, and donates the proceeds to a women’s shelter.

    Naturally, whenever my pantry floor fills with brown bags full of Diet Coke cans — along with the occasional beer bottle — I call her and she takes them away. She’s only ninety, so she has lots of energy. She also picks up cans in the nearby park after fraternities have a fun evening there. She says someone once stopped her while she was doing this and asked her if she was hungry. I’m not worried about her — she’s actually a retired professor. Also an idealist.

    My advice to you is not to give up a delicious and pleasure-inducing beverage, but find someone like my wonderful neighbor. But I guess after a year without it you probably don’t need it any more, even with Voldemort as president.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

  12. Elizabeth March 25, 2017 @ 4:31 pm

    For disgusting sodas try Hawaii ( with coconut and stuff) only available in Morocco.
    Weather improving slightly.
    LOVE your painting.
    Want to go to Giverny.
    You need to come to the city so we can go on an adventure…

  13. Vicki Abbott March 25, 2017 @ 8:36 pm

    “Pustules of scum”, inspired!

  14. Becky March 25, 2017 @ 8:38 pm

    I love the red panda peering through the leaves….so sweet. What a nice surprise at the end of your post.
    The groper in chief is exactly as you describe him…..and Mary’s quote from The NY Times is one I am passing on to my friends. We have continued our phone calls, emails and letters relentlessly. Practicing my painting and looking forward to your blog keeps me sane.

  15. Kirra March 26, 2017 @ 8:02 pm

    Good on you for quitting soft drink! Though bad habits can be very hard to kick. I’ve just had a great weekend away and am now stuck in my car on the side of the road waiting for the mechanic, though I’m supposed to be at work……so you never know what’s going to happen.

    Love your lily pond and bridge painting, looks good with the pencil work and the reflections are great. Never underestimate the power of food, put those fried pickles in the jar! I’ve never managed to do one of those jars myself.

    Have a good week everyone!

  16. Marilyn March 27, 2017 @ 11:52 am

    Wow! That is alot of Fresca. I think I gave up Dr. Pepper almost a year ago too. We can be proud of ourselves. Another happiness to add to the jar. Love your painting of Giverny too.

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