Signs of the times, 2012

Already these mornings are dark when I make my first cup of tea of the day.

There goes another Summer.

This week I even held my hands over the stove to warm them up while I waited for the water to boil — first time since last April. And I automatically put on a fleece when I head out to the backyard to give the wild cats their breakfast.

Yes, that’s the Sumer of 2012 behind you already.

I have a sudden craving for hot soups and thick blankets and new notebooks. Yes, those are the signs of Fall alright.

Top Cat on the shore of the Long Island Sound on the last Sunday of Summer

That’s the last we’ll see of lazy sunsets until the next Equinox. From here on, sundown means business:

The skyline of Manhattan across the Long Island Sound. To the far right: The Empire State Building; to the far left, the Freedom Tower, 104 stories above Ground Zero.

Get yourself squared away and tucked up for Winter! Projects! It’s time to set some goals, make some self-improving agendas to get us through the dark days ahead!

 Or you could do as I do, and just make sure there’s a case of champagne ready to set out, bottle by bottle, in all those lovely Winter snowdrifts to come.

But whoa, I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s still plenty of work to be done before we can knock off for our longWinter nap. I, for one, have a Key West garden to paint (continued from last week).

As you know, Key West is lousy with two things: cats, and sunsets. So whatever you paint in Key West has to have a sunset:

HUGE — this sunset is HUGE: 12 x 18 inches (two-page spread)

Painting the ocean was a bit trickier, but with practice…

Try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try again.

…I finally felt ready to commit:

So far so good

Now all I had to do was not screw up the beach. Which I did…I painted such an ugly grove of beach trees (not palms — Australian Pines) that I can not even show you, it’s that ugly. So here’s how I salvaged this illustration:

Smoooooth moves

I simply painted a new verso side of my two-page spread, and then painted in ONE silhouette of an Australian Pine:

I’m like a secret agent, with license to cheat!

When you see this illustration all cropped and tidy in my Damn Garden Book, you will never even suspect that it’s a “marriage” of two separate paintings. And that, my dear readers,  is how you finesse it when you are too ham-handed to paint a grove of Australian Pines on a Key West beach. (And I actually improved the coastline with that fixer-upper painting, IMO.)

Did I hear someone say “That Vivian! She’s like a 007 of the art world!!”

Christie’s London has sent me their spiffy fat catalog of their upcoming James Bond sales on Sept. 28 and Oct. 5. I guess I’m on their radar for Hollywood collectibles because of the bidding war I waged for one  of Elizabeth Taylor’s fabulous caftans at her estate sale in New York last year (read all about that here).


There’s memorabilia and movie props from every Bond movie for sale, from Sean Connery…

Sunglasses from Quantum Solace, $3,000 – 4500. You should see Lot 49: Daniel Craig’s swim trunks!

…to Daniel Craig. There’s Bond cars, Bond tuxedos, Bond hotel mementos, Bond Girl frocks, etc. Here’s the thing: because I am a VIP, I was able to get another copy (rare in the US) of this cool catalog FOR YOUSE.  I expect that this catalog, like the sales catalogs for the estates of Elizabeth Taylor; and Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra (in both of which yours truly played a bit part as Faberge expert and horologist at Christie’s…I could tell you stories), Diana Princess of Wales (private showing of her gowns that went on sale just a few moths before her tragic death) etc. will become a collector’s item in itself.

So if there is anyone out there in Vivianworld who would like to have a 50 Years of James Bond The Auction catalog ($50 value), please leave a Comment below (or, leave a Comment even if you don’t dream of owning Daniel’s Craig’s swim trunks). I will leave this offer open until Wednesday, Sept. 26 to give every reader a fair shot, and then Top Cat will pick the winner at random from those of you darlings who have volunteered to give this book a good home. We will notify you then, to get your mailing address.

And until next week, when we will all be in Full Fall Mode, I hope you’ll all take the opportunity to wave good-bye to the last Summer sunset of 2012.

Another sign of Fall: Top Cat and I have already begun our Fall/Winter/Spring argument about whether it’s too cold in the house or OK just as is DON’T TOUCH THAT THERMOSTAT.



18 Comments, RSS

  1. Mary

    As usual, Friday morning brightened by your glimpse into your ideallic life on the Isle of Long.

    When you were working full time, I didn’t know how you did it week after week. Now that you’re facing ( ugh) confinement to a leg-long cast and wheel chair, we can give you permission to take time off to paint and heal. Re-run some of your oldies but goodies, and we will be happy. Fridays will always happen, and when you get better and stronger we’ll be there for you.

    p.s. How did you get a skyline pic of NYC, and then the last one was without the skyline? Same beach? Different side of Long Island?
    Good thoughts to you during your convalescence.
    We’ll be here when you get back.

  2. Vivian,

    You make my day. Adirondack chairs, cats, and a sunset all in the same post? What could be better. Your story telling is top notch as usual. You bring a smile to my face with each post.

    I’d love to win the James Bond catalog,


  3. Deborah

    I kind of gasped when I scrolled down to the beach scene with the tree. Good stuff!

    And I remember that caftan you bid on. I still covet it. It appeals to my inner peacock.

    Speedy recovery, double-oh Vivian.

  4. Nadine

    WOW! Daniel Craig’s swim trucks are part of the auction! Hubba hubba. He’s the best Bond since Connery.

    We don’t argue about the thermostat at my house. My cats curl up much closer to me when the air turns cold, which is what keeps me warm. They are my renewable energy source.

    Hope the surgery goes/went well and that the pain killers work.

  5. christine

    Again, blessings for a speedy recovery. Hope you feel better than ever as Vivian 2.0. Dance!

    My son, Patrick, looks like a younger (23)version of Daniel Craig and is a huge Bond fan–I would love to bestow the catalog on him with your compliments! And the 26th is my birthday; I love giving gifts on my birthday (I know, but I’m not kidding). Thanks for the opportunity!

  6. Laurie

    Thank you for giving me a new perspective on Key West. I’ve been there many time but I’ve never been to the beach part so I’ve never seen the sun set over that side of the island. Not a Hemingway fan so I didn’t go to his house to see the cats. I’ve seen lots of chickens and roosters around Boho Village I think it’s called. It might be Bahama Village.
    I have one question about the Bond auction — is Ursula Andress’s bikini in the sale?

  7. Not a Crazy Cat Lady

    Dogspeed with your recovery.

    I always love the posts with cats. I read and re-read this post because of the cats, and it took me until the 3rd re-read to see there’s 4 cats in the photo of the winter quarters. If you ever raffle any of them off let me know.

    I’m not a Bond Movie fan so Top Cat can exclude me from the raffle and I won’t mind. All I know about James Bond is the Austin Powers movies with Mr. Bigglesworth and someone had to explain that visual joke to me.

  8. Shelley

    Love the silhouette of the Australian Pine, and the fixer-upper beach IS even better than the first one. Key West sounds wonderful, beaches, cats, and sunsets, add some champagne and what more could you want?

    I would love to win the 50 Years of Bond Auction Catalog. My Mom took me to see Dr. No when I was 9, under penalty death not to let my Dad know I’d seen it, and I’ve been a fan ever since. Sean Connery was my first heartthrob, and will always be my favorite Bond…James Bond!

    Thanks for an opportunity to own a Christie’s catalog dedicated to my all-time favorite movies!

  9. Joan

    Sean Connery IS the one and only Bond….James Bond. What a heartthrob!

    I love all the sunset, kitty photos. I’m SO ready for fall, my favorite season. I have another 5 weeks to wait for it though…it arrives in the Intermountain High Desert about the week before Halloween. It’s still just under 100F here. UGH.

    Best of best wishes for a successful surgery, quick healing without pain. Better get TWO cases of champagne just for insurance.

    I’d love to have the 50 Years of Bond catalog. Thanks for the generous offer.

  10. Miriam

    Wow! Now I’m really curious: just how bad were those trees that you couln’t show us? Can’t we vote on it? I would never have thought of patching up a painting like that, but now I see that there is always a plan B.

    I have a friend who is a Bond freak, waits in lines at midnight to see the movies. I’d like to surprise him with the catalog — let me throw my name in the ring !

  11. Connie

    I just finished Le Road Trip and I love it and I’ve never even been to France — YET. Now I want to see Pontorson and read the Sunday papers there and watch the local soccer team, etc.

    I have a question: do you see yourself as a writer who illustrates or as an illustrator who writes? My husband and I debate this a lot; I also want to write and illustrate but I don’t know which should come first..the words or the pictures? I love the way your text and your illustrations blend and I can’t tell which is the chicken and which is the egg.

    Thank you.

    I’m not a big 007 fan, but I wouldn’t mind bidding on Daniel Craig’s swim trunks. Yowza.

  12. Suzie

    Nice to see you take the leap to the larger format! Wish I could see the painting close up. I love your sunset paintings, even when thay are the size of a Triscuit. This one looks as big as a bread box. Or something else real big.

  13. Caroline

    I saw this blog for the first time today. WONDERFUL!!
    I will see Key West for the first time this winter, and now I know to look for C A T S . My favorite subject.
    I see by this post, your regular followers know those sweet babies in the back yard, saying good bye to summer. They look healthy and happy.
    Tell me the names of all the beautiful felines who grace your yard.
    How did you get them? How old are they?
    You are gifted. WRITING and PAINTING in one human is rare. You have done both, and you shd count that as a gift from–whoever. (ask Bill Maher)…
    from a new reader/ fan…….

  14. Michele

    Daniel Craig is hot, but I still don’t want his trunks. I’ll hold out for the Damn Garden Book, thank you very much. Love the cats – hope they keep warm in their fancy digs.

  15. Sandy

    oh Good Lord YES – Hubby and I are JB fans from forever (remember Lovie Cravesit?) but I am probably too late to compete – Drats!
    Sandy in Guilford, CT

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