The Only One Missing Was The Canadian.

England, America, and Australia in the house! The “house” being New York City’s oldest and last soda fountain, the Lexington Candy Shop on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan . . . 

. . . and the representatives of the English-speaking world being (from left to right): our own Dear Commentor Elizabeth (from London) , Moi (from Missoula, Montana of these United States), and the holder of the title of our Longest Distance Dear Commentor, who you know and love as Kirra (from Adelaide). This is us on our culinary leg of our cultural tour of NYC last week, after stopping at a typical New York coffee shop for lunch . . .

. . . before fetching up at the Lexington fora  dessert of New York delicacies — egg creams and malted milks. Note to Kirra: I should have explained that a malted milk is like a liquid Tim Tams.

We had begun our ramble through the Isle of Manhattan at the Jewish Museum on 92nd Street to see the Florine Stettheimer exhibit. I love her work and this show is the largest ever gathering of her paintings and costume designs.

I love that her pictures are about something, most usually her life as a wealthy, sophisticated New Yorker with friends from all over the art and theater world.

Her use of color is exciting — she does not shy away from committing herself to richness (above) or froth (see: portrait of her sister).  I love that she uses framing devices such as drapes — which appear in the picture plane as if from no where — and gets away with it! And it takes supreme control over narrative to put in the large quantities of information that she succeeds in putting in her paintings:

See how there is a LOT going on, but you the viewer don’t feel overwhelmed, confused, or disgusted? [cough * Hieronymus Bosch * cough]

I also like how she doesn’t overlap any of her figures as if she were a primitive/outsider painter, which she is not.

If I painted, I would paint like Florine Stettheimer. Which is not to say that I won’t be knocking off some of her brilliant ideas in the future — I steal from the best.

In fact, there is one picture I’m already dying to paint. It’s about something that Kirra told me about her daily life in Adelaide (Australia). She happened to mention, as if it’s just one of those normal things you get used to when you’re  a music teacher in Adelaide (Australia), that the school where she teaches is situated on a nice plot of land that has a nice grove of eucalyptus trees on it. And, oh, yeah, those trees are full of koala bears, which you can see every time you look up.

Mind you, Kirra has been a Dear Reader her for a few years now, and we’d been chatting in person in New York for about 2 hours before she happened to mention this thing about the koala bears. Now, if that had been me, I’d be all, “Hello there, My name is Kirra and I am surrounded by koala bears at work, that’s right, KOALA BEARS, so yeah, my life’s pretty awesome compared to yours.” I mean, being surrounded by koala bears would be something people would know about me within the first 5 seconds of our meeting. KOALA BEARS, people.

Yes, I definitely want to paint a forest of koala bear-bearing eucalyptus trees, with me in the middle, like Carie Stetheimer,  with a big fat smile on my face.

Apart from the breath taking news that there are people in the world who get to go to work in a koala forest, the rest of our Modern English Summit passed in companionable merriness as we walked down 5th Ave, past the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Museum with its staircase . . .

. . . which is famous for something but I can’t remember what. And we strolled past the Guggenheim . . .

. . . and then we took a bus down 5th Ave. to the Public Library:

Kirra and her husband Neil headed on to Boston, thence to Ann Arbor — I hope this is just the first of many return visits, depending on der Drumpf not being the harbinger of the End Times that he seems to be.

One pic, thousand words, eh? Because I am running out of words to deal with the human turd that is der Drumpf. But thanks to Commenters Fan in Vt and Vicki in Michigan, one word I won’t use is “girly“. I get it.

I also want to apologize to pigs. Calling der Drumpf a pig is an insult to pigs, animals that I like very much.

Melissa: Mike Nesmith’s mother invented Liquid Paper, and she made pots of money from it. Mr. Nesmith writes quite movingly about his relationship with his mother, which had its ups and downs. He was her only child. Mr. Nesmith also made a lot of moola on his own.

Alex: You saw the Monkees IN CONCERT?! What a lucky girl. You must have had nice parents, ones who actually noticed what was important to you.

Book news: Well, my old publishers, Bloomsbury, don’t get my new book. Which is understandable, since it’s a one of a kind thing: I even asked my agent if we could put it  out in the world without a title. . . she said that was a stupid idea. NOT IN SO MANY WORDS, mind you; but I got the impression that it’s a thought right up there with rescuing a raccoon in my backyard.

So now I have to do something I haven’t had to do in ten years: I have to sell myself to a new house. This is the worst: it’s like going on a job interview and a date at the same time. Ew.

Well, with that in mind, you know that I’ll be enjoying extra big cocktails this weekend.

Nobody here has to sell themselves to me: You are the finest Dear Readers any blog can have. Thank you all.

Here’s to You!


I just got a text from a fellow cat rescuer: She has three babies ready for forever homes! These boys were found with their feral mother and have been living with a foster mother (and mama cat) and raised to be cuddly, calm little critters that would make great lap cats.

They are currently here on the North Shore of Long Island . . .

. . . but these fellas are willing to relocate out of state!

If you need more info, just leave me a comment —

— and one, two, or three of these golden fluff balls could be yours.


10 Comments, RSS

  1. It was, indeed, the most splendid day.
    Well done, Vivian, for organizing it. And yes, as well as seeing the highlights of the Upper East Side
    and chatting like mad, we did get to eat at 2 splendid places.
    Hope Kirra and Neil have a lovely rest of their trip.
    Hope the kitties get loving homes…
    Hope Europe gives DT the reception he deserves…
    Hope your book finds a happy home.
    Hope we get to eat at the cafe at Neue Galerie soon.
    Happy summer.

  2. Casey

    That’s what I call a summit meeting. WELCOME to America, Kirra!

    I wouldn’t be able to get any work done if I knew there were koala bears on the premises. I’d be hanging out underneath the eucalyptus trees, calling up into the branches Here little koala bear, here little bear, I have nutritionally appropriate cookies for you, please come be my friend.

  3. Leslie

    Good morning Vivian. The staircase at Cooper Hewitt was featured in the film, “Godspell.” People were singing up and down, sticking their faces through the oval spaces and making gargoyle faces. Peace and love, Leslie

  4. Re: Monkees in concert — I had great parents, because they DROVE us four girls from our home town *220 miles* one way to Portland and paid for overnight lodging just so we could see them. Possibly the three hundred photos of Monkees torn from Tiger Beat and Fab magazines that were taped all over my bedroom walls and ceiling gave them a clue. We wore matching pink tent dresses to the concert. It was nearly a disaster of epic proportions because just as we were heading out of our driveway, my mother asked me, “Did you remember the tickets?” AND I HAD NOT. OH MY GOD. BEST MOTHER EVER.

    I’m now extremely curious about your new book project, and I dearly hope a wiser publisher “gets” it!


  5. Kirra

    It was wonderful to hang out with Vivian and Elizabeth!!! Having a personal tour of New York by locals such as yourselves was brilliant. I feel very lucky to have been able to catch up with you on my first trip to the US.

    I really enjoyed the Florine Stettheimer exhibition, if you can go and see it do! It was also very impressive seeing all the different museums, buildings, library etc. New York is a great city.

    The food was also great – liquid Tim Tams is an excellent description of the malted milk drink. A massive thank you to Vivian for her excellent travel tips for New York and Boston.

    I am very lucky to work at a school with lovely grounds, including gum trees which sometimes have koalas. Normally high up in the trees like photo 2 here, you can tell as there is usually a collection of koala poo on the ground! Also koalas have sharp claws and are a bit drunk on the eucalyptus leaves they eat, so you wouldn’t usually approach one in the wild (note Vivian’s racoon experience, though I haven’t heard of anyone getting injured from a koala).

    Sorry you have to now go and ‘sell’ yourself to new publishers, it does sound pretty crappy. I would love to buy a new Vivian book! I reread them often, and would have liked to have brought them with me to get signed but the space/weight wasn’t possible.

    Those kittens are super cute, wish I could take one or more with me. However onto Ann Arbor to see my relatives it is.

  6. I THINK I had the Monkees as Bobble Heads.
    My first concert was Paul Revere and The Raiders.
    What a fun get-together:)
    I DO hope the book finds a publisher.I got excited:)

  7. Well, first of all, I’m not sure of whom I’m most envious — you or Kirra! You both hit the jackpot. I’m hoping things will play out during Kirra’s Ann Arbor trip to do a meet-up but that means I have to return from the Land of Limited Internet. Looks like you were a terrific trio and one could have no better tour guide.

    I think there is a Strethammer (sp) in the Detroit Art Institute — if not, someone ripping off her style. (And yes, we should!) It’s so happy and bright and makes me feel so good. I can see why you’re captivated. Me, too.

    Can’t wait to see the koala. And to hear more about adventures in publishing which is feeling like a sad break up to me. It’ll happen. But it’s a shame it didn’t with Bloomsbury.

    Those kits remind me of the Marmelade Gypsy and oh, how I miss that boy, that best-cat-in-the-world. (I know other cat owners will differ in that opinion but he’s MY best boy!). I’m this close to saying send one out — but I’m afraid La Cosette would get her knickers in a knot. Although she might remember her original kits (she was an unwed mother). Anything that cute will be snatched up in a heartbeat!

  8. You are a creative host! Lucky guests to enjoy your guiding. Lucky kittens to enjoy your recommendation!

    best… mae at

  9. Oh if I needed a new kitten I would be saying send one my way. Like Jeanie, I love, love orange marmalade’s, what sweeties!
    Love your political commentaries and totally agree. Pig is too good of a word to describe that one.
    Your visit sounds just wonderful having time at this special, but disappearing malt shop with friends. And what’s not to like on the fun artwork and koalas too.

  10. Janet

    probably too late a comment for anyone to read (i’m binge catching-up on your blog, vivian), i, too, was lucky enough to see the MONKEES 100 years ago when i had a mad crush on davey jones & they played at FOREST HILLS TENNIS STADIUM in queens. the most interesting part of my tale, is that JIMI FREAKING HENDRIX opened for the monkees. i swear, it’s true! and we little teeny boppers were SOOOO not ready for jimi & his skills.

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