28 August 2015

I Am Jack's Complete Lack Of Surprise

Gar·ret/noun; a top-floor or attic room, especially a small dismal one, not to be confused with a penthouse, and traditionally inhabited by an artist.

Many moons ago I took a charming garret apartment in Paris, alone, for almost a month in late November/early-December. True, the apartment was only part of that particular European holiday. My friend Janet and I bailed on the husbands to spend an all-girl holiday that began in the Pyrenees, border-hopping back and forth from France into Spain. After a week I happily bid au revoir to Janet and headed to the Parisian, mine-only apartment, which was the real treat of the trip. I, alone, in Paris. It was going to be so à la turn-of-the-century artsy, even though I was on the Left Bank and nowhere near Montmartre. Still, there were damp yellow Chestnut leaves and corner bistros for morning croissants and coffee. At that time of year the smaller Left Bank streets of Paris were just beginning to offer trees, lights, and menorahs for the holiday season, and everything was bedecked with little lights. Did I mention that the entire country’s transportation system was on strike? La grève! No trains, no planes, no Metro, no taxis. Did I mention that it was cold and that I was on foot in my little Chanel hounds-tooth skirt and black tights?

Brief non sequitur here (and, yes, I'll help you). Non se·qui·tur/noun; a conclusion or statement that does not logically follow from the previous argument or statement. 

Speaking of on foot, strange things are afoot here on our mountain. We have a cow . . . we caught a brief glimpse of her, heard her, and saw her tracks. She needs a pedicure. Anyway, the cow is now gone, perhaps for the season, perhaps to periodically return for some special, secret meeting of cows; but in any event, presently she is no longer near our home. In all candor, I thought it was rather exciting to have such a large ungulate of the Bos genus roaming about and causing trouble on the mountain.

In any event, Lubos says that it's inappropriate to welcome such a creature; and that when I fully recognize the damage that her weight will do to our new shrubberies, I'll see the error of my reasoning. In hindsight, it comes as no surprise that such a large, willful animal can inflict plenty of damage to the mountain. Still, I did so like her un-pedicured tracks and loud lowing. Nevertheless, I concede: I must rejoice that the cow has departed for regions unknown . . . or has it? But back to our Paris tale.

Undeterred by minor inconveniences of French transportation, I found a shop selling art supplies where I purchased my first set of oil paints and every accoutrement known to oil painters. Palette knives, canvases, dozens of brushes, a large wooden palette . . . everything but a beret. So with Gershwin playing almost non-stop in the apartment, and with a view all the way to that lovely wedding-cake-of-a-church, the Sacré Cœur, I began to paint. The delicious scent of linseed oil filled the apartment, pouring out into the icy air on my two little garret balconies. Nothing says I'm a painter quite like the smell of linseed oil. I was in heaven. I painted day and night . . . only venturing out for morning café, for groceries to cook in my tiny French kitchen, and for the occasional evening Vivaldi concert. There was only one fly in this oils ointment: I can’t paint. I can’t paint with watercolors. I can’t paint with acrylics. Why, I can’t even draw. So why I felt capable of jumping directly into the artist's milieu of oils is absolutely beyond me. My dismal failure with oils should have come as no surprise.

In loading luggage for our move to Costa Rica, naturally I packed all of my oils, including some canvases that I’d begun all those years ago in Paris . . . and even a beret (actually several, for our annual Bastille Day party).

So I unpacked the oils and myriad canvases about a month ago. I could try to complete some of the started-never-completed canvases, or I could paint the children's Costa Rican tree frog image that Rusty found on Pinterest. I chose the tree frog. End of tale: it was horrible . . . or such was my opinion. Again, no surprise. It was so horrible to my eye that I spent almost an hour trying to locate an appropriate hiding place before entertaining some dear friends so that I wouldn’t have to explain this oil painting fiasco, nor have wet oils all over anything in our new home. 

So where does this leave a would-be artist who loves holding a brush in hand but, sadly, has zero artistic talent? Two words: Modge Podge. The magic of Modge Podge, which requires only a pair of scissors and something printed on paper. I was a scissors prodigy even back in kindergarten. Evidently Rusty foresaw this issue and secretly packed Modge Podge. In all due respect to Becky, Modge Podge is my new best friend. That, and a pair of scissors, and a printer, and the scrap-booking papers that shipped via pallets. This has Southern white trash yard art written all over it. Forget ye not the Southern part.

So while the oils didn't quite work as anticipated, I've always got a Plan B. Always! Naturally, I'll continue with my not-surprising fascination with our monkey, vulture, scorpion, ant-eater, and tree-top dwelling neighbors. But this still leaves ample time to tackle a craft-a-day for the upcoming 12 months. So rather than dwell solely on that pesky cow, I choose crafts . . . and vodka . . . and landscaping. 

The tee box is complete; and during our week-long absence in Texas, my darling Cynthia added not only grass but also flowers and shrubberies (including the coveted frilled croton). Insofar as Cynthia and Lubos always go above-and-beyond for us, no surprise there. 

So thanks, as always, to Lubos and Cynthia and their brilliant work on so many levels. At the tee box I'm left solely with the task of adding additional plantings . . . and perhaps that yard art . . . and finding a way to permanently keep the cow off of our hillside, which really shouldn't be a problem as she was last seen headed north above Kat's home. Lo que hay.