2 years a bachelorette

Today I’ve been a bachelorette for two years. It’s a fact, not a celebration, not a commemoration, not a homage. This is not a life goal either!

Hand-made envelope of a stapled white folded sheet on which colourful patches form a heart.

I love the idea of love and am happy for those who are in a good relationship. I am not sad that this isn’t my case. In practice, I have accepted that that isn’t for me.

I have had many happy moments in all of my past relationships and I cherish those memories. I am blessed with a selective memory which ensures that I retain hardly any bitterness from the unhappy times.

There isn’t any “yet”. That is all. The anniversary was on my mind because I was reminded of that time years ago when a dear friend of mine had posited that I could never stay single. It may have been the case then, and it may have shaped what I did back then to not stay single. If it was true, it hasn’t been for a while.

Art: Toothless gulping fish (step by step)

I made a habit these last few years to hand-make my son’s birthday cards. This year I did something new: asking HIM what theme he wanted me to explore. Toothless, from the movie “How to train your dragon”, he said. Ok! I love this character: he’s in fact a cat. With scales and wings.

Grey toned paper taped with masking tape and the pencil sketch of a sitting dragon with a fish in his mouth

I started with a pencil outline on toned thick paper, the size of a postcard.

Dark blue gouache paint applied in the background

Then I mixed my Holbein Artists gouache paint: Prussian blue and ivory black and added titanium white (just a teeny bit), which I laid on the paper. I made sure to be as precise as I could

Darker blue and lighter blue applied on the dragon and where there is light on him

I mixed further my blue mix: more blue and black for the areas of the dragon that were in the shadow, and more white for the parts of the dragon that were illuminated.

Yellow paint in his eyes and on the ground around his feet

Then I used leaf green mixed with with to paint the grass underneath and his eyes.

Thinner yellow in the background to represent light rays

Here, I had a very precise idea of what I wanted to achieve and it turned out I just could not! I wanted rays of golden light falling in the background. I mixed some yellow watercolor paint (I don’t have yellow gouache) and white. And there was no way I was able to get the yellow to play well with the blue background. I had thought that once the background was dry the new layer was never going to be change by it: big mistake.

Brown and light brown added to the rocks

So I ignored the yellow rays mess, mixed a bit of black and white and painted the dark parts of the rocks. Then added more white to the mix and painted the light areas of the rocks. I used some of those mixed on the ears. I added details using black for the pupils, white to accentuate the illuminated areas.

More yellow added to darken the light rays

At this point, I had wasted both time and yellow paint 🙂 None of the strokes would produce the gradient I wanted because either the moisture of the paint turned the layers to green, or the new layer was unblended and it was going to look bad.

I covered the yellow rays after all and now the background is shades of blue

So, I returned to my early mix of blue, black and white and covered as much of the yellow rays as I could. It gave some texture to the background. I painted the bit of the fish that sticks out of the dragon’s mouth.

Masking tape removed, white lettering added to wish my son a happy 13th birthday, dated in signed.

Final result with lettering done with a white Posca pen. I hope he likes it! His birthday is next Monday.

The weirdest first day of vacation

“Yes, I’ll be working a bit on the project while I’m off because I really dig it!”

Me, massively underestimating “a bit”
In this write-up, I’m attempting the epistolary narrative style that I remember enjoying from Stephen Chbosky’s excellent novel “The perks of being a wallflower”

Dear diary, I slept in this morning \o/, got up and drank two or three cups of espresso while I lazily browsed social media and played a few games on my smartphone. I did yoga a bit before noon, showered, and got ready for the rest of my first day of vacation.

I ate a light lunch standing up in the kitchen as I was transplanting the ferns I collected last Sunday near the lake.

As I pondered which subject I was going to draw later in the day as part of Inktober, I also pondered the oddity of my Apple Watch not recongnising as “stood” the good chunk of the previous hour that I had spent, well… standing. I certainly had been “moving a little” on the account of transplanting ferns not being the kind of activity you can engage in by being immobile.

Memoji-2020-laptop

A quick time-check led me to my desk. I had just enough time to publish a press release.

I drank more espresso, took the dog out for a walk and by then I had a pretty good idea what I was going to draw. I returned to my desk again for a one-hour meeting that lasted three hours /o\ That’s the first massive underestimation of how much time to block for that project (the W3C website redesign).

My brother showed up during my call (much earlier than I anticipated) and as he didn’t have his keys he tried to FaceTime me. I rejected the call, texted him that I was in a meeting, but he responded by texting me that he was outside. So I ran downstairs to let him in, ran back up and continued with my colleagues.

Memoji-2020-shock

The doorbell rang not too long after. I apologised to my colleagues and ran downstairs and outside to pick up a delivery that I expected tomorrow. I dropped the unopened package on the dining table and as I headed back upstairs to my computer, I smiled at my brother. By then he was taking all the space on the sofa, which was fine because the cat doesn’t like the sofa that much.

My valiant colleagues and I had been at it for what seemed like days, and I was aware that each of them had other fish to fry, and yet nobody else was better positioned than them/us to do what we needed to do. Time was passing and it was food o’clock in all of our time zones.

We were done. Rather suddenly —It was the strangest thing! It seemed only moments before that we had gone through two thirds of the exercise and I was agonising (out of shame because I was getting way more of their time than was bargained for, and because my brother was waiting downstairs.)

Memoji-2020-shrug

The completion of our task took us all by surprise! As I quickly thankologised profusely to them, one of my colleagues quipped that he was almost late for second breakfast, another enquired how many breakfasts there were and whether several lunches followed and how many, and the third colleague really looked like he wanted us all to put on more work! So my finger smashed the Zoom button that ended the meeting for all.

It was 8 o’clock. I was thinking that working the equivalent of a half-day during my vacation wasn’t too bad from the point of view of my employer, and I wondered if I had missed the time before which I could still go back on how many days I was really taking.

My brother wanted me to try a particular wine that he likes very much. Opening my package made me happy: my favourite fragrance arrived in two versions: regular and “body mist.” My brother’s wine was very good, he’s right. We sipped it and ate guacamole and chips while the oven heated. I made a nice dinner that didn’t take long to prepare, and we both enjoyed it.

Soon enough we were on the sofa, me drinking espresso and him drinking tea; each talking to each other with interest, him about why some stuff changed at his workplace and me suggesting further areas of optimisation (he will at least explore one idea.) I stood up a few times and “moved a little”, as commanded by my smart watch. He doesn’t mind, he doesn’t think I’m weird.

I grabbed my art book, pencil and ink pen a bit before 11 o’clock. Today’s Inktober prompt is “sleep” and I was going to draw a newborn sleeping next to his daddy’s chest. My brother commented that the photo I used as reference was too detailed, and he may be right, but I had a good feeling about it and told him I was trying a minute or two before giving up. My feeling was indeed right, and my brother was surprised when I was finished, because I finished earlier than he anticipated, and the drawing was pretty good.

Memoji-2020-party

Eventually, my brother left. It was 2 am. We had spent a lovely evening together. It had been a nice break from work but I was keen on finishing where I left off, out of duty because of the timeline that was agreed on.

The time tracker on my computer started logging a new day at 5 am. I was done right after 6. Whew! This was the second massive underestimation of how much time to block for that project. But now the people we work with can do their part and hopefully we will all meet the deadline in two days.

As I stood at my window, sipping espresso and watching the sky going from really dark to some sort of hesitant but unmistakable glow, I observed that it’s a whole day of vacation I could have written off.

Gizmo, new member of the family

I met Gizmo early February when we visited a friend of mine, who had had the 4 year-old labrador for a month or so. His previous owner had had to move from a house with garden to a flat, and could only keep the chihuahua. Tethered to the dog house, his tail would wag his entire body every time we came to pet him. I had an instant crush!
My friend said he was a sweet dog but he may not stay with them much longer as he had the annoying tendency to run away every time the kids would untie him. I was ready to take him with me in the trunk of my car the next day when we would go back home, but my offer rekindled interest from the household and that very evening, Gizmo was promoted from the garage to the living room, where he got to sleep next to the fireplace!
When we left the next day, having heard that they would think about my offer in the next four weeks or so, I was quite sad and had very little hope.
BUT, one late Saturday morning at the end of March, I heard from them! Gizmo, whom they had decided to keep, had run away one time too many and had been impounded. They were not going to get him back, but I could if I still wanted him.
You bet I did! The craziest day in months, possibly years, was about to begin.
I had to take my son to a birthday party after lunch, go grocery shopping, get my son back three hours after, drive a couple hours to get Gizmo, and drive a couple hours back. And my friend, who was stuck in work meetings, had to transfer paperwork to the animal shelter where Gizmo was, and ask them if they were willing to wait for me after hours.
I put my kid and my dad in my car, drove to the birthday party place so my dad would know where to go to fetch his grandson, drove my dad back home, rushed to the store where I got rudimentary dog-owner equipment, as well as dog food, and quickly finished the weekly shopping by the time I received confirmation that the paperwork had been emailed successfully to the shelter, and they would wait for me until 6pm. I got gas, and phoned my dad to confirm he was to pick up the little one, and tell him I was getting us a dog!
I drove as fast as I could and arrived at 5:58pm! Woohoo! Paperwork was in order, I paid the impounding fine, signed the release paper, and left with Gizmo. I was ecstatic. Here he is in the trunk, as we were about to leave the animal shelter in L’Isle-Sur-La-Sorgue:
Yellow labrador's head between the side of the car and the back seat

I called my dad to tell him all was going according to the plan, asked him to make dinner and not wait for me, drove another half hour, and met with my friend for drinks since her meetings were over. It was lovely to catch up again, exchange a few dog-owner tips (I had none), hang out, just the two of us, and the dog.
Yellow labrador sitting and looking up at me

Around 1am we were back home. My dad was up and met Gizmo as I unload the groceries from the car.

The next day (and weeks), he spent all his time next to me. Either at my feet, or *on* my feet :), or not far, curled up between the sofa and the coffee table.
Yellow labrador sitting in front of me. My knees are visible. The dog looks with curiosity at the side of me.
Yellow labrador curled up on the side between the coffee table and the sofa, his head propped up against the sofa.

Here are a few pictures of Gizmo and the family his first day at home:
My dad, an elderly man, bent forward and petting the dog which is snuggly curled at the foot of the sofa
In a large green meadow lined with big oak trees are a young smiling boy who threw a red ball in the air and a yellow labrador running to grab it
Me, a middle-aged white woman, on an armchair looking at a yellow labrador leaning against me thigh and looking up