Friday, December 21, 2018

Countdown: Days Before Christmas, in my Journal

 Christmas shopping is all done -- and almost all of it done in independent bookstores, wonderful places to hang out, even in these busy days. . .

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!)
 For this page, I used a Christmas-tree rubber stamp I've had forever, and then I coloured in the trees. And I used letter stamps, and I cut-and-pasted from an advertising/Christmas card . . .

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.
Transcription might be necessary for this page, so here it is:

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 . . . ;-)


Taste of France said...

You just reminded me that my mother used to make all her own Christmas cards. When she was young, she dreamed of having a card shop in New York. She was quite gifted. I wish I had some of her cards. I wonder what my brothers did with them...I can guess.
Your sketch of the stylish woman is so vivid. Such a role model!
Have you seen "Le Père Noël Est un Ordure"? Cult French Christmas movie. Very, very weird, with most of the cast of "Les Bronzés." A must. Also a time warp.

Anonymous said...

How clever,cut-and-pasting thing! Collage technique is an art,so it is adequate for an art diary
Christmas shopping-done,wraping Christmas has begun yesterday evening with the concert of Il Volo-it was magical,handsome young men with angelic voices,funny and warm-hearted....
I'm reading Ajahn Brahm's Opening the Door of Your,I'm drinking coffee (with slag) right now and relaxing
Looking forward to our "Christmas gift",your illustrated Christmas memory
Have a nice weekend

Mary said...

Wonderful how you captured the encounter and charming exchange with the lovely woman--small moments in a day that give such pleasure. Best of luck with the rest of the Christmas prep. Mostly done with mine, just some mincemeat tarts and an apple pie to make tomorrow for Christmas Eve gathering at the home of one of my son's with the rest of the children and their families.

Anonymous said...

That sounds like a perfect day. Like Mary, I also like how you included the conversation with the woman. I love it when women look out for each other. I am hoping we don't get another power outage today, as we were without power for 7 hours the other day. I read Michelle Obama by flashlight and ate a tuna sandwich. I have a new red animal print dress I might wear tomorrow. I liked "The Witch Elm," but not as much as her Dublin murder squad novels. It reminded me of when Ruth Rendell would write as Barbara Vine. I have all my shopping done, cookies baked. It is very cozy here. I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday. Brenda

Eleonore said...

I love the mermaid atop your tree! This year, for the first time, a big fir branch will stand in for a Christmas tree at my place. We are going to spend Christmas Eve under my SIL's tree, and my son (who still insisted on a tree in our house last year) agreed that a branch with a few ornaments would do fine for the following days. Isn't it frightening how they grow up?
Your item on the to-do-list reminded me of a cartoon a friend gave me for my retirement. Two polar bears, laid back against their respective icebergs. Bear A: "What are you going to do today?" Bear B: "Nothing." Bear A. "But isn't that what you did yesterday?" Bear B: "I didn't finish."
And a very very Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Ceri in Bristol said...

A very happy Christmas to you and what lovely journal pages. Thank you so much for sharing your insights. I always enjoy your posts even if my phone (my usual reading platform) will not allow me to comment - or even to like posts on others' blogs - for some reason. Picky or what?

And what a charming woman you encountered. When we dress with particular care and other like minded women notice it is indeed rather special. Akin to the way in which classic car drivers flash their headlights to salute those on the road in other vintage vehicles, I always think. The greeting of a fellow traveller and all that.

Madame Là-bas said...

I truly appreciate encounters with stylish older women. I always comment if I meet one. My own mother is lovely but so understated. It's as though she really does not want attention.
The mermaid is a perfect tree topper for a coastal tree. We're having lots of lazy time in Mexico:reading, siestas and exploring.Enjoy your holiday!

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