Yes, I’m still laughing at how 2020 never gets any better. Because if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry, right?

So today’s Super Cute Pup is Sophie:

Sophie helped her human, Susie in Wisconsin, show The Stromness Rock the delights of The Badger State, and for that we (and The Rock) are thankful.

Sophie is Super Cute from a human point of view, but from a watercolor painter’s POV, Sophie is a fucking nightmare. She’s a black dog, and she’s a black dog with texture. I’m supposed to paint those luscious curls? ON AN ALL BLACK DOG??

How can I not make her look like a bowl of blobby ink?

Well, the answer is, I cheat. The trick to painting her is to exaggerate the subtle colors that dear Sophie has in her adorable shaggy fur. I see: blue, brown, and grey in her black fur. So I’m going to go with that, and see if I get away with it.

I only need a few guiding pencil lines:

Eyes first, to make sure that they don’t go wonky and wall-eyed and that they are staring at the viewer with doggy luv:

I have to confess that I did a trial run on Sophie, experimenting with brushes and bleeds to see how far I could go with NOT painting her all black, so I’ve already made all my mistakes in painting a BLACK dog, and this is what I’ve learned: Go Easy. Don’t use a lot of paint.

So, this is me, dabbing in some highlights:

Now I hit the BLACK:

Luckily, the paint was wet enough that I could pick up the excess black (see below), and let it dry, and then start to layer in the serious black stuff:

Notice that I’m painting OVER the lighter stuff, that is, painting in the BACKGROUND over the FOREGROUNd. It goes against the natural order, but this is what you have to do when you plot out where your darks and lights have to go, and how it’s feasible to do it in watercolor.

 

This is where I add wisps of fur to give Sophie her signature “fluffiness”:

OK, now we are going to go in and make those soulful eyes:

Blue paint for the nose:

I must let you all know that I bought a book about dog breeds because it has a very good chapter on various dog noses, with close up photographs, because I needed a reference on exactly how dog noses were constructed so I could paint them correctly. Believe me, I know dog noses, and here is me doing Sophie’s hooter:

Oh, right: while the paint was drying on her nose, I added more fluff to her little chin, thusly:

 

I added expression lines to her forehead, knowing that when the paint dries the lines will be softer.  This is why you have to use the same paints and the same paper religiously, because that’s the only way you will know what your paint and what your paper will do, as in this case, where it looks like I am painting too darkly but I know that this is OK with these paints and this paper:

DONE:

OK, I’m sorry that these pix are so dark, but this is The Girl Sophie and my painting of her:

Here on the north shore of Long Island the mornings are getting darker. Wait. that’s wrong. The mornings are just as bright as they’ve always been, it’s just that they are starting later. What used to be daybreak (the time that I would set out for my 6-mile run) at 5:17 a month ago is now 5:44. August. Catch it while you can.

Steve, the real cat who lives on our front stoop, is on one of his walkabouts and we haven’t seen him for the past three days, but last evening there was a new cat on the front steps. He’s a brown tabby, stocky, and not at all shy, so I got a glass of wine and my iPod and I sat on the stoop listening to my K-pop playlist, throwing Temptations kitty treats to a strange cat until it got so dark that I couldn’t see him in the nightfall. It was an oddly pleasant way to spend a half hour of August.

Let’s check in with the culture and see if there’s anything to give us hope and joy:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s the round up for today, Dear Readers. I’ll be back on Friday with MORE PET PORTRAITS and, oh yeah…

…Fuck Trump.

 

 

 

 

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I don’t know if the situation on Long Island is still news to anyone who doesn’t live on Long Island, but we are still cleaning up from last week’s tropical storm Isaias. The last 4,000 homes without power were restored yesterday, and all the trees that fell into roadways and onto houses are cleared, but all this means that there are enormous piles of firewood stacked up at every curb, and even bigger tree trunks decorating front yards:

I’ve seen utility workers from Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, and New Brunswick Canada working in our area. They are so cute: they travel in convoys of 4-5 huge trucks, like flocks of duckies, following the leader because god forbid they lose their way in the wilds on the Isle of Long. And by the way, what with the 24-hour generators, the power line crews that start at 7am, the landscapers with their chain saws who start cutting at 8am…the noise level around here has been deafening.

But I want to thank everyone of these guys for coming to our aid. And one day, I hope to have internet access for more than 30 minutes at a time.

So while the ol’ computer is juiced up, let’s take a look at our Project For The Week:

This handsome fella is a long-haired dachshund named Pippen. Pippin, along with our Dear Reader Alexandra, hosted The Stromness Rock in the great state of Washington and for that, we are going to immortalize him in watercolor.

The first thing I do is I study the photo reference. I look for where I will be leaving the blank whiteness of the paper to show, where I will need to bleed, and figure out what layers of colors will go on top of each other from light to dark. I can’t stress how important it is to have a plan before you start to paint.

Then I make a few light pencil lines on my favorite 90-lb. Carson paper:

I start with the eyes because in the past, I’ve gotten a portrait almost completed when I went in for the windows of the soul and loused it up so that I had to throw away hours of work. So, lesson learned; start with the eyes.

I tested a blend of yellows and browns and burnt umber (up there in the corner)before I had a correct shade:

So I got the eye pointing in the right direction…whew.

This handsome fella has a complicated coat of many colors, so I’m going to start with the lightest colors first:

I love my 90-lb. Carson paper because I’ve been using it for over 15 years and I know what this paper will do. So here, I’m going to let the paper and some very watery paint do a light bleed:

I have to work fast because I want to work “wet’ here, and then I want to let it dry for a few seconds so I can drop in some very deep black without letting it run:

 

I was telling Top Cat about Pippin, here, and I mentioned that Pippen has a brother, another handsome long-haired dachshund named…named…and I couldn’t remember.

“But I know it has something to do with Douglas MacArthur.” I said.

Top Cat started guessing, “Doug? Dougie? Mac?”

I suddenly remembered.

Truman!” I shouted, feeling very pleased with myself for filing his name (the dog’s) in a place (under “American General, Korean War, fired by”) where I could access it.

Pippen has very expressive eyebrows, so here (below) I am adding some black to re-shape his eye socket into more of a raised-eyebrow kind of “look”:

I also widened the pupil. See what I mean? It’s subtle, but necessary:

I am adding light gray here, because even though it’s a shadow (of sorts), it’s not a dark shadow:

Ears next. Ears, oh ears…they are hard. These ears are long and silky and quite glamorous.

Let’s try to mix the colors with less water this time:

And now I can go to town with the excellent black paint I have (Winsor Newton):

Lay in an undercoat of gray:

And let’s compare:

These are the smooches next in line for portraiture: Kitty, Gypsy, Dudley, and Sophie.

Each of them has their own challenges — I mean, Sophie is mostly shades of black and dark gray and how in the world am I supposed to do that — so it should be interesting. For me, any way. I hope you’ll enjoy watching the paint dry.

In the meantime, various Trumps and all the Republicans have been working hard this past week to make sure life in America really, really sucks, so let’s review:

 

And others were also outraged:

 

 

And then Joe Biden announced his running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris:

In case you forgot who Eric Trump is:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stay sane until next Friday, Dear Readers.

In the meantime…

Fuck Trump.

 

 

 

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Damage Report: 85,000 people are still without power in our area after getting hit by tropical storm Isaias last Wednesday, including the houses up the hill and in back of us. Top Cat and I took a walk around the block and met some nice guys from Iowa — IOWA — who drove their utility trucks from I-80 Power to help with the repairs.

I-80 Power Inc. is a family owned and operated power line construction contractor providing both underground and overhead services in Iowa.  We can assist in day to day construction and maintenance and also storm/outage restoration.

Our internet was spotty yesterday and it went out twice while I was preparing Friday’s post, which meant that I had to re-boot my computer each time and try to find the auto-save, etc. I have no patience with this crap, so I shut down and went back to bed and had wonderful dreams of ice skating with pandas.

So,  yeah, just another week in 2020:

So it’s Saturday and things seem to be on an even keel so I’m willing to give this another go:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOMEWHERE IN INDIANA

You’d think the master race would be more…impressive.

 

 

Oh, yes, there’s a cat in this picture, in plain sight:

 

 

That’s all I got juice for today. Meet me here next Friday. I will have updates on the Pet Portrait Project and Car Cat photos to share and, most likely, more of the usual whining about being me.

And, oh yeah.

Fuck Trump.

 

 

 

 

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Good morning, everyone.

Tropical storm Isaias hit Long Island very hard on Tuesday afternoon shortly before 1 o’clock, when we lost power. After 30 hours, we got electricity back at 7 PM on Wednesday. I immediately posted a notice on this here blog that Wednesday was a washout here in VivianWorld, but it doesn’t seem to have stuck. Oh well.

126,000 homes in the area still do not have power. I will update you about the damage in my neighborhood on Friday’s post.

FYI: It’s raining again, and power has already gone out once so the juice is unreliable still, but I’ll do the best I can.

Here is an incomplete post of what I had planned to bring you for Wednesday. Please enjoy, while I put together my week-end Fuck Trumpery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi Everyone: We lost power for 30 hours, starting from 12:57 pm on Tuesday until 7:06 PM Wednesday.

The winds only lasted an hour but hoo boy, they did a LOT of damage in my area of the north shore of Long Island.

I’ll tell you all about it on Friday.

See you then!

Vivian

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I still find these 2020-Is-A-Shit-Show memes very funny because they are true.

 

 

In case you need more proof that 2020 keeps getting weirder and weirder, here’s a photo from my life recently:

Yeah, that’s a cat. A very small cat.

And yeah, that’s the engine of my car.

Here’s the story.

It was quarter to three in the afternoon and I can hear that my neighbor is knocking on my front door. But I’m in the last quarter-hour of my Zoom Korean class and I don’t answer it.

So then, I get a text.

There’s a kitten stuck in your car can we go in?

I text back, In class now, done soon, go for it.

At the end of class I stroll out to the curb, where my car is parked in the street, and the hood is up and the neighbors next door and the neighbors across the street are gathered ’round. There is also a continuous mewing sound, rather loud, from the front of the car, and they have figured out that the kitten is wedged into the engine compartment and that the best way to get the it is to grab it from below.

“I’m going to call the fire department,” I say, in my take-charge way, “And ask if they have really strong equipment to jack the car up his enough so someone can get underneath the car.”

Five minutes later, SIRENS and LIGHTS come roaring into our quiet suburban road here in the bucolic north shore of Long Island — four SUVs, a fire truck, and one of those fire dept. trucks that looks like an ambulance.

They make a road block so no one can drive down our stretch of Warner Avenue and six-to-ten burly young guys in bermuda shorts, tattoos, and T-shirts, and two guys in full fire-fighting regalia, drag a huge jack and some canisters and a hose to my car.

Then the cops show up.

So there we all are, about three thousand pounds of humanity, rescuing a teeny tiny kitten from my car.

I’m looking at all these vehicles and equipment and manpower…to rescue a kitten…and I say out of the corner of my mouth to my next door neighbor, Must be a slow day at the fire house.

And she says to me, Now we know why our taxes are so high.

Or course, all this activity drew a crowd of all the other neighbors, who came out to see the spectacle. Did someone find a dead body? Is there an improvised explosive device? Did someone need the jaws of life?

Nah, we said, shrugging our shoulders; There’s a kitten.

What finally freed the kitten was a simple spray from one of the fire department’s canisters — which contained water — and we saw a light grey tabby kitten streak away from us into the little woods on the side of the road.

All the residents of Warner Avenue thanked the public servants extravagantly for their help, and the neighbor across the street said that she would set her Have-A-Heart trap to catch the kitten, and that satisfied the firefighting crew and they got in their SUVs, fire truck, cop cars, and ambulance-looking-thing and left.

Only the cops were wearing face masks and I tried to social distance, but it was chaotic and hot as hell so I’m self-quarantining again for two weeks.

Next morning, I’m picking up the Sunday New York Times from my front walk and the neighbor walks over to me, carrying a Have-A-Heart trap, and she says, I got the kitten!

The kitten is in very good condition — clean ears, clear eyes, no runs nose, not noticeable flea-ridden, and not noticeable starving. Believe me, I’ve been trapping feral cats for 15 years and I’ve seen far, far worse.

The neighbor asks me, Do you want her?

I distinctly remember that I said, No. I remember throwing up my ands, backing away, saying, No, no, nononono. I do not want a kitten. I have five cats who are enough of a pain in the ass…I don’t need and I DON’T WANT a kitten. I don’t want to make that kind of 20-year commitment. Nope. NO. I do not want a kitten.

So I really, honestly don’t know how it happened. I got a kitten.

She’s very cute, and very affectionate, and I would show you photos of her but I’m having trouble getting them off my camera and iPad so check back next week.

In the meantime, How’s your week been? Bat-shit crazy as usual? Yes? Because that’s how we live now, right?

Let’s take a look back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I read this obituary with pleasure:

 

From my Twitter feed:

 

 

Try to have a great weekend, Dear Ones. I’ll try to get photos of Car Cat (that’s the name she’s going by for now) up by Wednesday. I might not have wanted a kitten in my life, but that little face brightens my day.

And, oh yeah.

Fuck Trump.

 

 

 

 

 

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This was on my Twitter feed this morning:

I can relate.

I thought about putting out a Black Lives Matter yard sign, but I was sure it would be yanked out during the night. Although my county of Nassau of the Isle of Long is fairly evenly split Democrat/Republican, there are some rednecks living in the streets that fan out to the east of our enclave.

To be fair, I don’t know that they are rednecks for sure, I’m just going by the number of junk cars that they keep in their driveways.

Any way, I decided against putting out a lawn sign. Instead, I bought a big Black Lives Matter flag and I hung it out on the front of my house. This is the part of the house that is barricaded by a 4-foot tall fieldstone wall so I’m pretty sure my flag is safe from the neighbors.

For years, the redneck who lives two streets away from me has hoisted a Don’t Tread on Me flag in his front yard. That’s the famous Gadsden flag adopted by Tea Party and Second Amendment gun-rightists as an emblem of their anti-government hysteria.

Last week Top Cat was strolling past the house and he sent me this photo:

Yeah. Not the brightest people.

This week, Trump has given  billion dollars to Kodak, a failed film maker, to “work on coronavirus”. He tweeted support for a doctor who endorsed his fake Hydroxychloroquine “cure” for COVID while also preaching that witchcraft causes illness and alien DNA is the result of demon sperm. He announced that he was throwing out the first pitch at a New York Yankees baseball game, much to the surprise to the New York Yankees who had not invited him to do so — Trump was in a snit because Dr. Fauci, the head of the Center for Disease Control had thrown the first pitch at a Washington Nationals game. And the Republicans think that minimum-wage workers are being lazy so they want to stop giving out-of-work Americans any more money during **checks notes** a deadly pandemic and the worst economic downturn in a century.

So, just another week in the shit storm:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

;

 

And, oh yeah, before I forget:

Fuck Trump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See you all back here on Friday!

 

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And no kidding, this should be the anthem for 2020 (made in quarantine).

 

What a week. On Monday morning I had another session with my dentist, and everything went downhill from there. From now on, I’m only seeing my dentist on Friday because Fridays are so excellent that nothing can spoil them.

Thank you all for your concern about my self-inflicted bone fracture. What a surprise: the orthopedist told me to stay off my feet and Lo, I did, and Lo, I have very little pain. Just a lot of annoyance, but that’s how most of us feel these days.

People of Portland, Oregon, I Salute You. When Trump sent in the stormtroopers I never thought it would unleash the fury of white people in the suburbs but Lo, there they are, putting their bodies in the line of fire for you and me.

Portland, Oregon makes me proud to be an American.

Gosh. I haven’t felt that way for a long, long time.

So let’s get to the news portion of this blog and see what else has been happening during the destruction of democracy:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s change the mood a bit and remember that there are still small places in this world where we meet heart-to-heart and things go right.

This is from a series of photos about Men Who Did Not Want A Pet, No, No Way, No How:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So let’s all have a great weekend, Dear Ones. I hope you can make a small space for yourself in this horrible world to hear a good purr.

And, oh yeah…

…Fuck Trump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here are some pictures of the late, great Lickety to save my spot for Friday.

As of yesterday I have a wicked stress fracture of my tibia (shin bone) and IT HURTS.

IT HURTS because I am an idiot who thought that the discomfort was all in my head, so I kept running for a week or two until yesterday when the pain decided to prove how real it was and chomped down like a T Rex and I went to urgent care.

Now I have to keep my splintered  leg elevated, which I can’t do at a desk, and it hurts too much to sit upright like a normal bi-ped with my feet on the ground because I am an idiot.

So, Dear Readers, until Friday, keep a lid on your sanity while Trump deploys the Federal Stormtroopers to a city near you.

Jesus Christ.

Fuck Trump.

 

 

 

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My hair has officially gone COVID.

Since last October I’ve been growing it out and so far it’s gone through two of those weird, unsightly phases that you have to put up with when you’re switching from short to long hair, but this week it’s at a stage where, in different times, I would take it to a professional for “shaping”, but these are these times so I’m stuck with Duchess of Cornwall hair.

I’m not a fan of floof.

Half of the reason why I’m not going to see my hair stylist is a reluctance to expose myself to strangers, and the other half is 2020 apathy. I’m not going anywhere anyway, so why do I have to make a fuss?

But here’s something that will brighten all our days:

Miss Lizzie

Pet Portraits. I’ll be painting Pet Portraits, and returning this blog back into its original mission. Yes, we’ll be  Watching Paint Dry for the rest of the Summer and it’s all because of  The Stromness Rock.

The Rock in its original hiding place on Orkney, May 27, 2019 (before its beauty make over thanks to Rachel in Texas).

This is for the darling hosts of The Rock during its 8,465-mile tour of America: Gali, Carol, Jeanie, Angel, Susie, Alexandra, Marilyn, Thea, Rachel, Leslie, and OG Maryanne in SC.To thank you for your outstanding hospitality I would like to do a portrait of your pet(s). If you email me a photo of your beloved(s), I will turn it into a Vivian Swift Pet Portrait, which we will watch me paint right here on this blog.

I can do dogs, too.

Now remember, although these portraits appear to be life-sized, I am a miniaturist, so your portrait will be packed into a frame that is  approx. 4 ” x 4″.

So let’s start painting!

I hope that painting will keep us all a tiny bit sane, because life keeps getting crazier and crazier, and I’m not talking about my Korean classes and the fact that in Korean you have to conjugate adjectives. I’m talking about how 2020 keeps getting shittier and shittier, and to prove it let’s start with the stupidest thing I’ve seen on the internet this past week :

. . . and let’s take it from there:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those of you who have never seen one, here’s a picture of a baby squirrel:

And some cat stuff:

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s some stuff you should know in case you ever get on Jeopardy:

 

 

 

Excuse me, but it’s fewer. FEWER. F E W E R :

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a great weekend, everyone. Don’t buy GOYA products.

And, oh yeah…Fuck Trump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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