Last night we hosted a party.
E.g. turned 50 this week, so we held a women-only potluck, what I call a hen party. Eight guests came. One was our next-door neighbour, Staff. One was Gilda, who has been E.g.’s friend for nearly 30 years. One was a woman we met at the Shrove Tuesday pancake supper two weeks ago. I had met four of the guests less than twice.
As an introvert, I wasn’t sure how I felt about this whole thing. Turns out that most of the guests, too, self-identify as introverts. And the party was an incredible success, with connections happening all evening:
“Really? What years did you attend Acadia?”
“Oh, I know your boyfriend! He used to play with my husband’s band.”
I’m unaware of what exchange was made concerning the fact that two women brought exactly the same broccoli salad. Talk about a group of people who were destined to come together!
Such beautiful women in our living room last night. Such interesting, interested, thinkers and makers and doers. Crafters, writers, teachers, musicians, gardeners, animal lovers, techies. Courageous. Authentic. Helpful. Underemployed. Still alive despite whatever personal troubles each might have endured in the course of her life.
The party began with a “tasting”. I brought from the cellar two bottles of homemade hooch — peach-banana wine and hard apple cider — and E.g. handed round some disposable shot glasses and a permanent marker so that each guest could initial her glass. I think most people opted for store-boughten after that, but at least they had had the fun of trying something different (and had avoided the embarrassment of a full glass of swill).
The room was like a stand of willows in a summer breeze, as conversations shifted from side-by-side to straight-across to kitty-corner. Sometimes one speaker had everyone’s attention, the most notable example of this being the round of tales concerning car problems and the kindness of strangers. Awe-inspiring, hilarious, touching — each person’s tale was different.
The food? Fabulous. It was all there — appetizers, side dishes, meats, breads, desserts, and loads of broccoli salad — without any prior conferring.
And as if a balanced meal, instant friendships, and incredibly cute Cardigan Corgis weren’t enough, there was the Perigee Moon. We turned out the lights and watched it rise swiftly over a rooftop.
The party couldn’t have been more perfect.
It began at 6 pm, and the last guest left at eleven. E.g. and I took our time loading the dishwasher and putting away the leftovers, finally hitting the sack at midnight.
Then E.g. awoke before 05 00, threw on her winter coat over her jammies, slipped into her rubber boots, and went out to photograph the moon. Happy birthday, you crazy woman, you.
One year when I was a girl, my mother made an angelfood cake for my birthday. It was from a mix which included multicoloured sprinkles (some of you call those candy bits “hundreds and thousands”). I have no recollection of how old I was, whether all of my brothers were in attendance, whether all were still alive, even, or what present I might have received — I just remember the beautiful wedge of cake, and the fact that Mum had attempted it and it had turned out well.
Maybe I remember the scene because she was relaxed and pleased with her work for once. Mum’s culinary expertise lay in pork chops, meat loaf, scalloped potatoes, pickled red cabbage, and green beans by the truckload, cheap, nourishing food that sustained seven people on a paint-factory worker’s paycheque. Maybe, on this particular evening, Mum’s face was as bright as that slice of white cake shot with rainbow dots of colour.
Whatever the reason, whenever I think of birthday cake, I think of that one.
I was quite pleased, then, at the card I made Aunt Theodora for her 95th birthday:
Sprinkles, glorious sprinkles. They shower downwards at a gentle slant, thanks in great part to this nifty little paintbrush:The purple and yellow background dots were made with a round (think “ordinary”) brush, while the words took a rigger, a brush with longer, fewer bristles, so that it will hold a decent amount of paint while producing thin lines; it’s also called a script brush.
And here is a close-up of the candle. The photo doesn’t show the shininess of the blue. I mixed the blue paint with gum arabic, a liquid that greatly slows the drying time, and then coloured in the flame, starting at the top and finishing by touching the yellow to the blue and tipping the card upright. The result wasn’t quite what I wanted; the time I’d tried this before, the yellow stayed yellow and didn’t blend to make green. Will have to keep experimenting.
although I composed the words for the card, there have likely been hundreds of riffs on the same theme in the history of commercially-produced birthday greetings. So sue me. I’ll pay my lawyer with one Cardi, and you can have the other one.
Anyway, the fact that both the plate and the words on the outside of the card use the same colour helps to give a “black and white” effect to the inside — with just a little added sweetness:
There you have it.
No cats were harmed in the making of this card.
A few weeks ago on a Wordless Wednesday post, Barefootheart told me about Illustration Fridays. On checking the link she provided, I decided an Illustration Friday feature might keep me motivated to play with my paints.
I also thought an Illustration Friday feature might get me writing again, as opposed to Wordless Wednesday, which is — well, you get the point.
By the bye, I will state up front that I have never been tempted by Facebook, Twitter, or whatever sixteen other social media have been spawned since their inception. Likewise, I never signed up on the megagigantic Wordless Wednesday list, and won’t sign up for Illustration Fridays either. Consider this your own private salon, you lucky (or at least faithful) readers!
So. When my son and his partner were here for Christmas, they gave us several thoughtful gifts. One was a field guide of North American birds, in hopes that I might use the photos as subjects for my watercolour paintings. They know I like birds.
Fast-forward to this winter’s watercolour class. Everyone in that class, with the exception of me, has been meeting to paint together for years, and they are good. I began that course intimidated and ended up dejected. While they’re all nice people, there’s something to be said for peers.
One technique I did glean from the class is to squint at the subject and paint the patches — in realistic colours or not. I decided to try it with this tom turkey, and was quite pleased with the result.
This is the version in my sketchbook. I haven’t tried making a “good” copy. Maybe someday.
Meanwhile, if you’ll excuse me, Aunt Theodora’s friends and well-wishers are throwing a 95th-birthday-party bash for her tomorrow, and I need to head upstairs to make a card. Ta for now.