Happy Days. For Real. HAPPY DAYS.

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.








8 Comments, RSS

  1. Maryanne in SC

    Vivian, you captured my Bella’s personality ex-act-ly! What a thrill it was to see her royal self, glaring at me from the blog this morning. Thank you sooooooooo much. (Gods, I miss her.)

    Stay safe and well.

  2. Kirra

    It is much more interesting now Trump has the virus, I think it’s made a lot of people happy! Kimmy is very cute, even if she destroyed the paper projects you made.

    It’s good you made it to the cinema just in time to see the BTS movie on your own, I hope it was good. I find sometimes it’s easier to make mistakes like this war home because you’re not that tuned in to the excitement of it being another country and therefore more interesting than a normal bus trip.

    This is a very impressive painting. Good luck for the dog next week.

    And as always thanks for the funny posts!

  3. I think you should blame the stress and weirdness of this whole coronavirus situation for causing you to zone out and miss your stop! It’s probably easier to go awry traveling in NYC because you think you know it and you’re not on your guard like you would be in a foreign country. You know?

    I’m glad you’re so easy-going about Kimmy having fun with your paper art. All things are transient, right?

    Great job on Bella!

  4. Megan

    When I heard the news I thought that Fridays post would be an interesting one. Love the portrait, you did very well. These are grim times and lets just hope the tide is turning, though I have to say that I am not optimistic at all. Stay safe and enjoy your happy feeling. Have to say I am still missing the opportunity to read the comments, wish they would come back!

  5. Wow — will you look at Ms. B! She looks fabulous. (I’ve tried painting that cat and not nearly as well as you and it was still one of the hardest ones I’ve done!). I’m curious — when you went to fix the shadow, did you doing it by really wetting it and lifting off the paint or what? That’s how I’d go about it but black can be tough and it looks terrific.

    Whadda week…. And what’s to come? Never more have the words “stay tuned” held more mystery!

  6. PS — I adore Kimmy — and I’m glad you have photos of the wonderful book art. It makes it easier to say “bye.” That and not having a spot to store it!

    And I also meant to say I miss being able to read everyone’s comments!

  7. Yes, I have been concerned about the season finale, but now maybe there is hope. Did he really finally acknowledge he had COVID because he wanted to distract from the taxes for $750 and $70,000 for his hair care. I think Melania will dump him once he is out of the White House. And inheritance, they might inherit a nightmare. Let’s only hope.
    Love seeing Kimmy! and your cat painting! Very nice!

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