Bad News at Home

July 16, 2014


Above: Page spread from the Japanese Lined Notebooks I've been working in lately. This is an experiment from the end of May and the end of 2 months of being house bound! I was playing with Montana Markers (pink, and later some white) and the fine tipped pigmented black in Pentel Brush Pen, and the fugitive dye-based Pentel Color Brush in Sepia (which is another of my addictions). You can see how I adjusted my width of the forehead as I worked with the brush pens. Usually I have what I call "wideology" but I've been working so hard to combat this that I've flopped in the other direction. I really like the ear on this sketch and I'm sorry I didn't make a detail of it for you. Click on the image to view an enlargement, and read some more.

NOTE: Today's image has nothing to do with today's post. Sorry. But I wanted to show you more from the Japanese Lined Notebooks I've been working in for the past 2 months; and I still haven't done the video flip through that I was hoping to do. So while I get back to catching up, here's an example of what I'm doing in those books, with a detail image later on in this post; and a short post about bad news.

Last Wednesday I walked into the kitchen to put my shoes on for our evening walk.

Dick stood at the end of the kitchen island unfolding his Wall Street Journal and reading the day’s headlines. Suddenly he quietly but firmly put his hands down on the paper, covering it 

An odd gesture.

I looked at his face. It had started to go white around the eyes, which is a good trick even for someone of Irish, Finnish, and German extraction because he’s already so pale.

I looked down at his hands. He tried to unobtrusively cover more of the paper.

I looked at his face.

My heart sank. There’s only one reason he would act like this.

“Sean Connery, he’s dead?” I asked while holding my breath.

He shook his head but didn’t move his hands.

I forced myself to breathe.

“Michael Caine?” I asked, barely able to choke out the name. (I am very attached to my favorite movie stars.)

Again he shook his head and pushed his hands hard against the paper, continuing to hide it from my view. 

“OK, just tell me. I’m really worried here. Just tell me.” I had a sense that perhaps I should sit down.

Dick removed his hands and held up the July 9 paper.

Emerging Markets' Chocolate Lovers Boost Cocoa Prices

Appetite for Chocolate in Developing Countries Has Sparked Rally in Cocoa, Near Three-Year Highs

I was both relieved and devastated at the same time. Relieved that no one I adored was dead and that there were no new horrors of blood shed, but devastated that my recent promises to myself to economize are going to be challenged so completely, so immediately.

“Ach,” I said, “I have to stop eating chocolate anyway; it had to happen sooner or later. I feel guilty about the labor practices…”

It’s hard to behave ethically when you’re an addict. People addicted to tomatoes (I don’t personally know anyone addicted to tomatoes, but I’m sure there are some people who are—so just for example let’s say) can always grow a plant in their backyard, or a planter, and cut out the middle man and any unfair labor practices. And once you have a couple tomatoes you can easily make sauce for your pasta, or make salsa, or chop it for your salad. But if you crave chocolate you can’t really…


Left: Detail of the image that opened today's post. Here you can see some of the overlapping of markers and brush pens. This paper really stands up to work and reworking if you just watch your water use a bit—and shouldn't we do that all the time anyway? Click on the image to view an enlargement (really, this one blows up really large, you'll enjoy it). 

Dick started making assurances about how more area could be devoted to growing chocolate. “Where?” I asked with a tone somewhat between defiant and sarcastic, knowing full well that chocolate can't be grown everywhere and land use is a political issue all over the globe, especially as land for "real" food crops disappears to desertification, flooding, etc.).

As he started to explain I lost interest and focused on putting on my shoes. (They are new, bought on sale but part of the reason for my thoughts of economy— Salomon XR Mission, with quick-laces that shouldn’t take any time at all—but my hands were shaking. The last time I gave up chocolate both the girls were still alive.)

I stood up and we went for out walk. We were at River Road before Dick said anything. He knew I needed some time to adjust.

I’m still adjusting.


Note: I mentioned my shoes because they are the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever had. They fit my foot EXACTLY. Shoes have come a long way since I had to buy Adidas Men’s size 5 shoes to run in! Everyone comments on how RED they are. And you know what, they are RED. But then I just turn to the person and say what my wise friend Diane told me the day after I bought them: Red is the new neutral.

Hey, it’s not like my paint splattered world has a color-coordinating theme threading through it. Shoes need to be comfy (especially if I'm grumpy from giving up chocolate). And I need to be able to run if I’m chased by spies. If a shoe does all that I’m happy.

    • July 16, 2014

    Poor Dick….

    • Tina
    • July 16, 2014

    When gasoline prices started creeping toward $3 a gallon and then $4, I started getting upset. Then someone said, “It’s just like anything else… it seems too high at first, but then you’ll get used to it, and then you won’t even notice.” The same will happen with the price of chocolate. Life is too short to give up chocolate for something as trivial as cost! Go have a Dove (the little affirmation inside the wrapper will make you feel all warm and cozy again). 🙂

    – Tina

    • Karen
    • July 16, 2014

    Did you ever read any Eve Babitz? She had a line in “Slow Days, Fast Company” about traipsing through L.A. In red shoes she asked an man at a party, think these shoes are too red? He replied if they aren’t red, they aren’t red enough.

    So, on the chocolate, find a way to cut out the middleman. It’s the only solution to rising costs.

  1. Reply

    No no no! No giving up on chocolate! That’s like self inflicted torture. I mean chocolate is like one of the essential food groups, right? There’d be all kinds of physical and psychological discomfort and ultimately total depression. It just cannot be good for a person to give it up, economy or not. Surely there’s something else to give up: fruit, vegetables or you know…useless stuff … like gas and electric. Anything but chocolate!
    I’m all upset now, must look into my stash for some good 78% swiss goodness.

    • Pamela Leal
    • July 16, 2014

    OhHell no I am not giving up chocolate for any reason. I have died TWICE and came back to life with that said I will ENJOY what time I have left. 😛 Yes. Enjoy life! xo

  2. Reply

    I wish I could Tina, I don’t really get used to such things, and now that I’ve seen first had how expensive it is to care for the elderly I’ve looked at all sorts of cost cuttings and I need the shoes more than the chocolate. That said, there still is Dove in the house so I don’t think there’s any reason I shouldn’t…

  3. Reply

    I don’t know Eve Babitz’ work. I’ll have to check into it. Very fun quote. Don’t get me started on cutting the middleman, I don’t want to start making chocolate!!!!

  4. Reply

    A couple days ago or yesterday one of my friends asked on facebook for people to fill in the blank “My life will be better when ——” Or something like that. And I wrote, “When chocolate is classified as a vegetable.”

    So there you have it.

    I did not wish to make you upset. But be aware Caatje! More expensive times are coming.

  5. Reply

    Pamela, I’m sorry to hear about your near-death experiences, but very glad that you were able to come back. And I will keep your thoughts in mind!

    • Molly Vollmer
    • July 16, 2014

    I eat Lindt 85% chocolate every day and I’m not giving it up. When I’m on my deathbed I don’t want to say ” I’m so glad I gave up chocolate to save money”. I’d rather say ” I’m so glad I gave up dusting to have more time for fun”.

    • Pam Perry
    • July 16, 2014

    The shoes, the shoes. Not only are they red, they’re orange! Exquisite.

    Roz, have you ever told us exactly what these “Japanese Lined Journals” are and where to get them? (Forgive me if my old mind and eyes missed that info.) I loved more than anything your comment on the sound the pages make when you turn them. I want one!

    BTW, LOVED your SBS videos.

    • Kate Burroughs
    • July 17, 2014

    I have 45 cacoa trees growing on my farm in Hawaii. I recently took the seeds out of 30 cacoa pods (which weighed about 5.5 pounds) and ended up with 1.5 pounds of beans after fermenting and drying. It is NOT a profitable crop to grow and very labor intensive. But I can at least make my own chocolate if push comes to shove. Dark chocolate is pretty easy to make. Just need a Champion juicer.

  6. Reply

    Pam, the shoes are an attention grabbing for sure—but SO COMFORTABLE!

    I wrote a review about these in around 2010 or maybe 2009! But I haven’t written about them recently because I wanted to do that with the flip through I haven’t had time to film. That will come, probably next week. Check back at the end of next week.

    Thanks for the comment on my SBS videos. I’m so glad you found them useful!

  7. Reply

    All of this makes a good argument for moving to Hawaii! Thank you for the background on your experience with the process. I loved hearing this!

  8. Reply

    Molly, I’m glad you’re enjoying chocolate and will continue to do so. You can be a beacon of light.

    I eat plain old Dove milk chocolate in quantities that would stun most folks, so I have plenty of room to scale back—and plenty of money to reassign if I do so.

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