Today I'm going to wrap gifts and put them under the tree (we settled on a small, cut fir, mostly because we'll have a Three-Year-Old waking up at our place Christmas morning, and she has some concerns about Santa's routine. . . ). And I'm going to make some grocery-shopping lists so that Pater knows what to pick up for the Trifle and the Roasted Squash Salad and the Cranberry Sauce that will be my contribution to next week's feast. Later in the afternoon we're going for a Members-Only Tour of a special garden (through UBC's Botanical Garden), which seems a delightful outing to see out daylight on this shortest day of the year (if you follow me on Instagram, you might know I extended the day by going for a run just before and into dawn, before official sunrise).
I'm planning one more pre-Christmas post, a little Christmas memory I've illustrated and am looking forward to sharing with you. Meanwhile, I thought you might like to see a few pages from my near-daily journal, as I experiment with different approaches.
The top page is, obviously, all pen-and-ink, quick jottings in prose and some messy sketches. I think you can probably work out all my handwritten text, but if not, ask me in the comments below, and I'll transcribe necessary words.
Below, my sketch of a charming wee stocking my friend Sandy stitched for me. You can see more of her clever handiwork and art on Instagram. (She makes the sweetest watercolour cards featuring the adventures of a mouse she created, Wiston, and his friend Otis, a Lakeland Terrier -- last visit to Paris, I stopped in at L'Ecritoire, a stationery shop that sells her cards -- and had them hung in the store window!)
Sometimes the cut-and-pasting happens because I find an image or a paper that seems too attractive to throw in the garbage. Below, with the face of the older woman in her beret, the cutting and pasting happened because I needed to do something about the horrid mess of a face I'd inked in on my first attempt. In fact, I'm rather pleased with this page because it testifies to the power of perseverance. My first instinct was to rip "the mistake" out of my journal, but I'm trying to find ways to rescue or redeem the mistakes. I still have so much to learn about drawing faces and figures -- these eyes are nowhere near as lively as the model's, her lipstick neither as bright nor as wayward -- but it's an improvement on the attempt below.
Another bonus is that the cutting-and-pasting encouraged me to have fun with proportion and to convey something about the way we experienced this encounter -- it was all about her face, at first, her instant engagement with us, before we noticed her elegant style.
Down the left margin: This older woman charmed me by stopping us on the sidewalk just as we were about to go into Hager Books in Kerrisdale -- to tell me that "my friend Dorothy tells me that animal prints are right in style now."
Below the red shoes: She assured me that my leopard coat was just the thing for adding some seasonal zest.
Top right, below the date: Buying books for the adult kids and their spouses.
To the right of her red bag: She dismissed her own obvious stylishness -- the tweed blazer I admired, the pale grey beret -- but I think she was pleased that Paul remarked on her red shoes and I on the matching bag
Inset box: The day also included delicious ramen @ Jinya on 41st. Mine featured Brussels Sprouts, charred, and Paul's boasted Spicy Meatballs. Mmmmm.
Bottom right corner, perpendicular: Watched French sitcom Plan Coeur (The HookUp Plan) on Netflix
Perpendicular, near top right: Finished reading Tana French's The Witch Elm. Also just finished Deborah Levy's The Cost of Living: A Working Autobiography.
And now to that gift-wrapping and grocery list-making. I know you've got your own lists -- consider sneaking one more item onto yours, and not too far down either. It should say something like: Brew a pot of tea and sit sipping a cup or two for at least fifteen minutes.
This is one item, actually, that you might not want to check off when it's done -- save the checking off for tomorrow, or the next day, or even the day after that. This is a task you might never quite complete, but you can keep trying . . . ;-)