Why My Life Will Never Be On Reality TV.

Because instead of having rich friends who talk behind my back (which is why I LOVE The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, New York, Atlanta, OC, and NJ) I have cats who have no trouble getting in my face:

Also, I do not spend my days shopping or party planning. Instead, I spend my days sitting at a desk, which is even more boring than it sounds because when I write I sit at a desk that faces a blank white wall because it’s better for my creative process to have NO DISTRACTIONS. Did I mention that I have cats?




Having a camera crew following my every move would probably make my cats all nervous and skittish:


But then again, maybe not.

I lead a pretty interior life, not suitable for film.

I doubt that what I consider really exciting is anything that would make for great TV:


Last Sunday I was thrilled when I went out to re-fill the cat food bowl that I leave outside for our opossum friend, and I found  that he’d left me a present and I ran in to tell Top Cat GUESS WHAT!!!  MR. POSSUM LEFT ME A CARDINAL FEATHER!!!!  

In my experience, reality TV people only get this excited over slander law suits and when another Real Housewife looks at them funny.

The BIG news around here is Another Blizzard on its way.


The latest panic started on Wednesday when Lonnie Quinn of the TV@ Weather Center cut into my Judge Judy time to show us what might, maybe, possibly, could happen in the next 48 hours. This is the dire forecast for Thursday:


But it was what could maybe, might, possibly, could happen on FRIDAY that got him really riled up, so much so that he had to roll up his shirt sleeves and jump onto TV to let us know about it 48 freaking hours in advance:


Jeeze, Lonnie. Even by my low standards of ordinary life this is a non-event.

BTW, I got the Champagne-O-Meter ready for this March blizzard. This is Thursday:


And this is Friday:


7am: Those are kitty cat tracks behind my Champagne-O-Meter.


9am: Still snowing. This is the Japanese dogwood tree that shades our back patio and today is leaning over into the side yard. The only other time I’ve seen it like this was right after SS Sandy.


Noon: That tree branch is almost touching the ground.

Commentor Judith asked a very interesting question in the Comments last week. She asked Does [an illustration]  exist in your mind, and you uncover it step by step? Or do you create it as you go along, building it up step by step?

Oh yes, definitely YES I plan a picture out before I paint it. For instance, when I did this picture (the one I painted for you on last week’s blog):


I absolutely planned beforehand what I would paint first, what went second, what had to be done thirdly, etc. I thought about what shape I had to paint, where the darks and lights would go, what range of green colors I would use. In a future WIP show-and-tell I will show you how I plan a picture because ever since I’ve been taking the trouble to stop and think before hand about what goes where, I’ve found that I don’t screw up as many illustrations. But that’s me (I’m a Capricorn).

Some people might love the process of painting so much that their canvases are opportunities for discovery, but not me. I am a results-oriented person and I quake until I have a plan of attack mapped out in my head. But that’s me.

As I write this it is 6:39 Thursday night and whoa, nellie. There are actual flakes falling from the sky! I hope to have a great Champagne-O-Meter pic for you tomorrow!


18 Comments, RSS

  1. Gigi

    I never even see cardinals here, let alone get a gift of a cardinal feather from a wild creature. I love that I am the first comment on this blog…because I am reading it at 11:36 p.m. PST. So I will write more on Friday because doing so nicely extends the fun! Anyway, I’ll need to hear how the champagne-o-meter is doing…

  2. janet bellusci

    the mid-hudson valley champagne-o-meter shows about three inches at 8am and it’s still falling.

    your apple experience was great to read. represent, vivian!! LET PEOPLE SEE OUR ‘OVER 50s’GIRL POWER! for awhile this was posted as my facebook profile photo: “do no harm (but take no sh*t).” (asterisk mine)

    gotta go before mushy prances across my keyboard on her way to the window to watch the birds on the feeders.

  3. LOVE your illustration. Distant misty landmarks make me go weak in the knees.

    You might want to look into Apache Open Office as your word processing program. It’s free, open source, has all the relevant features and runs on any system platform, and there are big old vertical and horizontal rulers as the default. It has definitely reduced my word processing related Tourette’s attacks.

  4. Carol

    I love your administrative staff. All those helpful paws must be why your books are so great. I have lost track of how many times I have re-read them. Pumpkin sends regards to Penelope!!

  5. OMG the snow…the snow!
    And the cats/chats!
    Love seeing how you think/plan a painting.
    do you do Thumbnails 1st?
    That’s what I’m wondering…
    Your paintings grow out from the paper very vegetal in fact!

  6. Barbara

    I, too, go to that same Apple Store, and have their one-to-one program for a 2nd year. The first year, every topic was available, and for multiple times per day! Easy and specific to my needs! I took loads of 1:1 classes. This year, I’m experiencing exactly what you are; no availability 1:1 whatsoever, but their 90 minute group classes are usually available. I do not WANT the group classes for the same reason that you stated. I do not want to sit through other people’s lack of basic knowledge, which is somewhat funny, since my friend, Janet B. (who posts here as well), tutored me on the computer 14 years ago, and made one clueless woman technologically, into a most passionate computer user. I don’t know what recourse we have with the lack of 1:1 offerings. Really unacceptable.

  7. Cat

    I love reading your blog. I love reading your books. I’m very grateful to your weekly tutorials because you are single-handedly encouraging me to jump into watercolour painting (for fun, my husband and I are writing a book together and he has elected me to illustrate it. We’re going to publish it for ourselves using Mac’s iPhoto albums).
    My real job is IT Trainer. Not with Macs, but we have one at home. I have a compulsion to prevent people from hating their computers. (A computer works so much more efficiently when you pretend that you don’t care whether it performs the task or not.)
    Would the info on this page (link below) help you get your vertical ruler back in Pages? I wasn’t sure if the royal Genius ever answered your question… : )


  8. Joan

    I have to say that my Apple store (One-on-One, Genius Bar) experiences have been 360 degrees different from yours. If they’re charging you the $99 buckaroos for O-O-O then that’s what should be available to you. If not, a refund at least and a letter to Cupertino & local regional director should be fired off.

    I enter that store and feel as tho’ I’ve plugged into an energy outlet: Everything is positive, energized and fabulous. I converted to Apple after years of Microsoft PCs….never looked back. Good on you for pitching such a fit…I hope you got some satisfaction and attention. Girl Power Rules!!!

    The painting is lovely, per usual. I love how you’re sharing all the procedures you employ for your illustrations.

    Keep on being Bat-shit crazy…you’re among kindred spirits here.

  9. I am not angry enough to be on reality TV though I know someone who wants to be –but she is a total ego-maniac.
    I do quite well with the Apple Store on 14th St.
    I waddle in and tell them I am very old……and stupid and am super nice to them —and know the name of the manager……!!!!Personally rang said manager who now bows to my every wish.

    Yes, the cats in Morocco are so very abundant and wonderful.
    However fewer about than usual –though still a lot.
    They tend to have short but (mostly) happy lives.
    Apparently the prophet once cut out part of his robe so a cat would not be disturbed when he moved…..
    like my poor friend sleeping over one night who could not get up to pee in the night ……because she might disturb the cat……

  10. I’ve been very edgy about using masking and not quite knowing how, so I really am appreciating these posts that include that!

    My computer problems this week have been the stuff legends are made of! So, I feel your pain with the Apple folk. When I need computer help, I need THAT and not whatever topic happens to come to mind!

    I’m loving your cats. Lizzie Cosette has decided the spot next to (or atop) the keyboard is hers and hers alone. Now and then she types. Sometimes I imagine what would happen if reality TV came to my house — they’d see a woman talking French to her cat (probably pretty poor French)and they wouldn’t find room for the camera. Sigh. Someday…!

  11. too bad about your apple store, i can tell you here in ca, their birthplace, yes, see that shaft of light, they are whipper snappers and raring to help you, without even paying your 99$ fee… i have needed help on a few occasions and they bend over backwards doing things i know they shouldn’t, but i still ask and receive. i am so amazed at their stores i find it shocking you have had to go all gg on them. why not just go back to ms then you too can heyvoon bazi. face it, you already got the animals~

    i think you have a beverage fetish… champagne bottles, tea bags and now a cork. i guess when you dabble with fluids all day your bound to feel a connection.

    again, as redundant as i am every time i visit here, the scale of your work is astounds me. ok your vision, the mere fact that you can evoke such feeling in such a minute scale. its so enjoyable that you share the workings of your book here, by the time its in print it will feel like an old friend has arrived~

  12. Loved the champagneometer!

    I had not done any watercolor for year, but since reading your book, and looking at your tutorials…am taking up the brushes again. Thank you for that.

  13. Gigi

    I see the Champagne-O-Meter is very nearly and astoundingly obscured – a big change in just under 24 hours!

    I adore the watercolor post. But not as much as the one that arrived in the mail today! I am now the proud owner of a beautiful original Vivian Swift painting of a pond with koi. It is exquisite! Tomorrow, I will take the painting into Aaron Bros to have it matted and framed with museum-quality glass, which keeps the colors from fading in the light. And they nicely seal the back of the framed picture by gluing a paper backing to the framed picture. After seeing two watercolors of Boston row houses fade badly, I now have all all the watercolors I hang protected in this way. I have learned to save a little money on this process by buying the special glass to fit the frames that Aaron Bros sells – that way I avoid the charge for cutting the glass. I wonder what colors of matting I will choose… When the framing is complete, I will take a picture and send a link to Vivian. So I can give a little back.

    I remember being a little frustrated that it is so hard to get a good look at the castle in Edinburgh, which is one reason everyone hikes or drives up the hill. The perspective in this painting of the structures on the hill is so wonderful. I love the feeling of being in a private courtyard with a spectacular distant view of the royal places. Watching it come together…whoa and wow.

    Thank goodness I can retire to That Damn French Book now…it makes waiting until next (Thursday) Friday easier.

  14. Laura

    Skip the so-called 1-on-1 and search for a tutorial on YouTube. I haven’t looked up this particular problem, but have had great success otherwise. The beauty of a YouTube tutorial is that you can pause and repeat as needed and no one is interrupting the tutor with off-topic questions. Bon chance!
    You really evoked the early evening sky and lighting in your watercolor.

  15. Jeannie

    Oh, I wish I had cardinals in my backyard to leave gifts of feathers. I actually stalked a Stellar Jay at my parents last weekend. I was hoping he would take pity on my and molt one of his gorgeous blue feathers. I even offered a peanut in trade. He took the peanut and left. I swear I heard him mutter “sucker” as he flew away. Your office mates look strikingly like mine. Laze, eat, nap, repeat. Love the moody sky in the painting and the tiny detailed buildings in the background. Wow! I know you used your two hair brush! 🙂 Enjoy the champagne. It is supposed to be 60 here on the left coast. Woo Hoo!

  16. Adele

    I’m so envious! We have lots of cardinals around and they are singing up a storm every morning now, but no feathers found :~(.

    The woodpeckers are feasting at the suet feeder every day now, too! An occasional nuthatch stops by, as do starlings. The feeder is visible from the kitchen window above the sink. We’re trying to sell our house and every time there’s a showing, I pray that some beuatiful birds will appear at the feeder at just the right moment when the potential buyer is looking out, making them realize they must*buy*this*house!

  17. I must admit I love my Mac but I had really hoped the Pages program had come up to speed since I last bought my computer. Utterly useless then and sounds like not much has changed. (same goes for their tech support) Which is why we fluctuate between PC, mac and android in this house. Odds are something’s gotta work on at least one of them.

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