Thursday, January 11, 2024

Basement Ghost

Here's a pen and ink drawing for this week's Illustration Day theme: "Basement."

Pen and ink drawing of a ghost in a basement by Ingrid Lobo

Lizard

This sneaky lizard was spying on me as I worked in the garden today.
Anole Lizard

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Fish Swimming

Years ago, I used to take part in a weekly art challenge hosted by a website called Illustration Friday. Artists around the world contributed illustrations based on a weekly theme. The website is now defunct, but today I came across a revival of the initial challenge at a website called Illustration Day.

I was so excited to find Illustration Day at the start of this new year. And, of course, I want to participate in the challenge again, so I drew a pencil sketch of a little fish swimming for this week's theme: "Swimmer."

Sketch of a Fish Swimming by Ingrid Lobo

Friday, December 15, 2023

Monsieur Monde Vanishes by Georges Simenon

Monsieur Monde Vanishes by Georges Simenon

Monsieur Monde Vanishes (1945) is a novel by the prolific Belgian writer Georges Simenon. It begins on the morning of Norbert Monde’s 48th birthday. No one in his family remembers his birthday or wishes him. Likewise, his longtime employees forget it’s his birthday and treat the day as any other.

Monsieur Monde suddenly realizes he must escape his life in Paris. He leaves his second wife, two adult children, and successful career as an importer/exporter behind him, and he simply vanishes without a word of explanation. He withdraws a sum of money, has his mustache shaved off, and exchanges his perfectly tailored suit for a cheaper, ill-fitting suit in a second-hand store. He throws off his old clothes for a new identity and new life. Then he heads away on a crowded train to Marseilles with a sense that this rebellion has always been his fate.

In Marseilles, he overhears a fight in the hotel room next door, and saves a young woman named Julie from committing suicide. Julie and Monde understand one another to some extent, and Julie has no expectations of Monde, who has renamed himself Monsieur Désiré. Julie is a pragmatic, survivor. The pair travels to Nice together where no-nonsense Julie gets a job as a nightclub dancer at a gambling club. Julie manages to get Monde a job there too as a bookkeeper. Monde is also tasked with spying at a peephole, watching the staff and club members go about their nightly activities.

Monde is used to his routine in Nice when his first wife suddenly appears on the scene. Years ago, she left Monde and his children, and now she is a desperate drug addict. Monde helps her, but she doesn’t understand him. At the novel’s conclusion, Monde returns to his former life, but he’s a different man with a new outlook on life.

Monsieur Monde Vanishes is a novel about being taken for granted and about change, growth, and throwing off old habits.

Purchase and read books by Georges Simenon:

Monsieur Monde Vanishes by Georges Simenon Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

The October Country by Ray Bradbury

The October Country by Ray Bradbury

The October Country is a collection of dark and scary short stories by Ray Bradbury that was first published in 1955. The selection has an autumnal feel with a mix of psychological, spooky, supernatural, and horror elements.

The October Country includes the following 19 stories:

"The Dwarf"
"The Next in Line"
"The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse"
"Skeleton"
"The Jar"
"The Lake"
"The Emissary"
"Touched With Fire"
"The Small Assassin"
"The Crowd"
"Jack-in-the-Box"
"The Scythe"
"Uncle Einar"
"The Wind"
"The Man Upstairs"
"There Was an Old Woman"
"The Cistern"
"Homecoming"
"The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone"

I’ve been meaning to read the book in the fall for the past several years. This year, I carried out my plan and I started reading the book in October and continued reading it through the fall. My favorite story in the collection was “The Lake,” a poignant story about a man who returns to his hometown where he remembers an old friend named Tally who drowned as a child. I also found “Skeleton” and “The Scythe” to be particularly creepy.

Purchase and read books by Ray Bradbury:

October Country by Ray Bradbury The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Saturday, December 9, 2023

So Late in the Day by Claire Keegan

So Late in the Day by Claire Keegan

So Late in the Day: Stories of Women and Men (2023) is a short volume of three short stories by Irish writer Claire Keegan.

The first story, "So Late in the Day," is the story of a man named Cathal who is reflecting on his failed relationship on what would have been his wedding day.

The second story, "The Long and Painful Death," is about a woman writer who is driving to Heinrich Böll’s house on Achill Island where she will begin a prestigious writing residency. The following day is the woman’s 39th birthday. Before starting work that morning, a German man, who is a stranger to her, visits wanting to tour the home. She agrees to meet him in the evening, but resents his intrusion to her day. She spends part of the day swimming, gathering berries, and baking herself a birthday cake. The man arrives, resentful and angry that she has spent the day swimming and baking instead of writing. He doesn’t think she deserves to be there. His misogyny is clear as he devours her birthday cake. The woman is inspired by the visit to write a story.

The third and final story, titled "Antarctica," is about a married woman who decides to have an affair out of boredom. While the woman intends to find freedom and fun, she instead finds something much darker.

Each of the stories explores misogyny, how women react to awful male behaviors, and the relationships between men and women. It’s an interesting trio of tales.

Purchase and read books by Claire Keegan:

So Late in the Day by Claire Keegan Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan