Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Product Review: Derwent Drawing Pencils (Plus Bonus Fire Drill)

6/5/18 Derwent Drawing Pencil on Strathmore toned paper (Melissa; left: 20 min. pose; right: 10 min. pose)

Initially this post was going to be about nothing more than the fire drill that occurred at Gage Academy during the life drawing session where I made the sketches above of our model, Melissa. But then I started thinking about my favorite colored pencil for life drawing, and I realized I take it for granted. I’ve been using it happily and reliably for years, but I’ve rarely talked about it here. It doesn’t come in a bajillion dazzling hues like so many other colored pencil lines, and the colors it does come in are muted. Even its name is understated. But for certain purposes – currently and chiefly, life drawing – there’s none better. I decided to use these sketches as an opportunity to review Derwent Drawing Pencils.

Derwent Drawing Pencils
According to Blick, Derwent introduced the Drawing Pencil line in 1986 with only six colors, which eventually expanded to 24. Intended for landscapes and portraiture, the 24 hues are all earthy and natural browns, grays and sepias. Since there was no complete set of 120 colors to be dazzled and seduced by, I started buying them individually at my local Artist and Craftsman Supply years ago. By now, I probably have all the colors. In particular, I discovered that the Chinese White is the softest, most opaque white colored pencil I’ve found to date, and I’ve gone through several working on toned and red papers.

With a similar design to most other contemporary Derwent collections, the Drawing Pencil has an 8mm round barrel, which is larger than average. Like my favorite Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelles, its size is troublesome for most sharpeners, but at least when I’m home, I can use my trusty Bostitch Quiet Sharp 6. The glossy sepia barrel has a colored, diagonally striped end cap identifying its core hue. The color number and name are stamped in white.

This image exhibits one of my few complaints about all contemporary
Derwent pencils with this design: The paint on the end caps
chips off after only a short time of use.

Look at these thick, luscious cores!

In addition to its limited, muted palette, the Drawing Pencil line is distinctive and unique for its whopping 5mm core – probably the thickest of all the colored pencils I’ve used. It’s definitely the softest colored pencil core I own, which makes it ideal for life drawing. Since the point goes dull quickly, I can’t get fiddly with details, and I can use the broad side of the core to color large areas quickly. It’s like a charcoal or sanguine pencil in its ability to impart subtle gradations of shading – but without the messy smearing.

Preferring to use a faster liquid medium like a brush pen for shorter poses, I used to save pencil for 20-minute poses when I had more time for shading and details. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve gotten more comfortable with colored pencil in general or because I’ve gotten faster at life drawing, but this year I’ve been using Drawing Pencils even for 10-minute poses. It’s not the same as liquid, but it moves more smoothly and fluidly than any dry pencil I’ve used.

It’s a delightful pencil that I can’t think of anything to complain about. Well, just one thing: I don’t need the Drawing Pencil color collection to include all the bright hues that are easily covered by many other pencil lines. But since it is intended for landscapes and does include some shadowy and smoky blues, I wonder why it doesn’t include a few greens, too? The one Olive Earth is closer to brown than green. With the addition of a few tree and grass greens, Drawing Pencils’ palette would be ideal for urban sketching.

Oh, about that fire drill. It was a sunny, pleasant morning to be out in Gage’s driveway for a few minutes. But I felt sorry for the models standing out there in their robes.

5/1/18 Nadine; 10-min. pose
6/5/18 Melissa; 10-min. pose

3/15/18 Randy; 20-min. pose

Monday, June 18, 2018

More Shadow Play

6/12/18 Maple Leaf neighborhood

About a month ago I showed you the brick Tudor across the street. Last week from our upstairs bedroom window, I noticed that it was casting an interesting shadow on the house just to its west. I've been meaning to sketch this Craftsman-style house in an unusual color combination, and the shadow gave me an ideal opportunity.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Anderson School, This Time with Sunshine

6/16/18 Anderson School

More than two years ago, USk Seattle visited the then-brand-new Anderson School in Bothell, an historic property that had been renovated by the McMenamins into a unique hotel and brew pub venue. What I remember most about that sketch outing was that it was cold, wet and mostly miserable. With unique décor and the nicely renovated building, the location was worth visiting again – though on a warmer day, we all agreed. That day was yesterday, and though the morning began overcast, it didn’t take long for the sun to come out and bring the temperature up to 70!

Last time I didn’t have the courage to take on the whole Anderson School building, which was built in 1931 (Bothell’s first junior high). This time I was still a bit trepidation, but I marched across the street anyway so that I could see the whole thing.

With that one under my belt, I strolled around the rest of the property, which is made of a variety of smaller unique buildings, each housing a place to get a bite or a brew. I wandered for quite a while before I settled on a sunny seat outside the tiny brick Shed, whose main feature is a large chimney. As soon as I started sketching it, I remembered that I had sketched it last time, too. I guess those chess rooks atop the chimney called to me again.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Special Order of Sunshine for Milan Visitor

6/15/18 Seattle skyline from Bell Harbor Pier

When Milan urban sketcher Riccardo Pastore contacted Urban Sketchers Seattle to say that he would be in town and wanted to sketch with us, we didn’t just organize a sketch outing for him – we also ordered up some summer weather!

Riccardo said he wanted to sketch the Space Needle (among many other things), so we met at the Olympic Sculpture Park, where I knew there’d be a great view of the Needle. Since I’ve sketched at the park numerous times, I decided to walk a few blocks south to Bell Harbor Pier, where I had sketched briefly last month on my way to an event. I’d made a mental note to go back someday when I had more time to sketch the fantastic view of the skyline and waterfront. That day was yesterday – 70 degrees and sunny! – and like last time, I had the pier nearly to myself. 

6/15/18 Needle (sans ugly hat) from Bell Harbor Pier
Although I had sketched the top of the Needle from the Pier last time, I couldn’t resist another sketch: It has finally ditched the ugly hat it wore for months! Renovation of the viewing deck is complete at last. 

After the outing at the Sculpture Park, Antonella, Sue and I took Riccardo to the Pike Place Market to grab some lunch and so that he could do more iconic Seattle sketching. We’re all invited to sketch with him and USk Milano! I hope to take him up on that someday.

Friday, June 15, 2018

I Should Have Bailed Out

6/11/18 Maple Leaf neighborhood

It had interesting shadows under the eaves and an asymmetrical porch with both an archway and a small window shaped like a miter – all of which caught my eye. (What architectural style could this possibly be?) But I was doomed by the cluttered composition: Two cars, one on each side of the street, partially blocked my view. And although I have a thing for utility poles and lines, they weren’t doing much for this composition, and I should have left them out. On top of all that, I was a bit troubled by the house’s dark gray color. I told myself all of this before I began, and yet I proceeded.

I had recently read Marc Holmes say, “the sooner you can sense the need to bail-out, the better. Save your energy for the re-do!” I’ve even heard myself give that advice to others: As soon as you know it’s going badly, it’s easier to just stop and start over. The hard part is listening to my own sage advice.

On the other hand, I can think of a million worse ways to spend my time than making a sorry sketch on a sunny June afternoon.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

It’s Complicated

6/4/18 Maple Leaf neighborhood

I’m not sure what architectural style this house is – perhaps a variation of Craftsman – but it turned out to be way more complicated than I had first realized. Attracted to the blue trim and distinctive roofline, I didn’t notice until I started drawing the two cut-out corner windows (it’s OK if you can’t see them . . . I didn’t show them very well). And the trees and other plants looked neater and less jungle-like than I made them.

While sketching, I had an interesting conversation with the man who lives in a small Tudor that I happened to be standing in front of across the street. I told him about my series of sketches on Maple Leaf houses, and he volunteered his opinion about some new homes that have been going up lately “without any regard to fitting in with the existing styles.” (Someday I’ll show you some of those too, but the ones that are “the existing styles” are keeping me happily busy.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Vintage Colored Pencils: Faber-Castell Goldfaber 4100 (Contemporary Goldfaber Comparison)

Vintage Goldfaber water-soluble colored pencils

In my review of vintage Prismacolor pencils, I had mentioned that pencils of this brand produced in the ‘90s and earlier are of higher quality than ones you can buy now because they are no longer manufactured in the U.S. As a result, Prismacolors with early production dates are highly sought on eBay by colored pencil artists. I’ve acquired some from that early U.S.-manufacturing era, and they certainly are as creamy and richly pigmented as contemporary ones – but without the annoying core-breakage issue that newer ones are known for. (I threw out a set a few years ago because the continual breakage drove me crazy.)

I hang out a lot in the analog-centric world (on the Internet, ironically), where people sometimes get wrapped up in discussions about how everything back in the day was better made than anything made now. Whether they are influenced by personal nostalgia for the good ol’ days or unbiased research is difficult to say. Although it’s certainly true of many products (especially appliances – it seems like whenever we have to replace a fridge or washer, the newer one doesn’t last nearly as long as the one it replaced), it’s not universally true, by any means.

My experience with the Prismacolors and the general “older is better” attitude have been on my mind, and I started wondering if the same could be true of other colored pencil brands. The difficulty, however, is in finding both a vintage set and a contemporary set of the same brand, since so many vintage brands are no longer being produced.

Coincidentally, an example of old and new came to my attention at around the same time. On one of my cruises through eBay, I had spotted some vintage German-made Faber-Castell Goldfaber water-soluble colored pencils. I had never heard the brand Goldfaber before, but shortly thereafter, I found a "new" Faber-Castell Goldfaber brand on the market (which I reviewed last month). Since the contemporary ones are also German-made, I had a rare apples-to-apples situation.

The small collection I purchased on eBay included several different ages of the brand, as represented by their designs and markings. A small group has a dark blue barrel with a distinctively long end cap indicating the color (below). The cores on these are slightly softer than on the pencils in the larger group, whose hex facets alternate between metallic gold and the core color (top of page). Although the vendor didn’t know specific production years, he said the dark blue ones are newer. He also reassured me that they are all German-made. (His actual words: “The ones I sell are all vintage, no longer in production, good old German stuff!”)
The newest of the vintage Goldfabers
In addition, the gold-faceted pencils show several variations of the logo and branding. The design of the top two looks the most modern and includes the paint brush icon. Although all are water-soluble, the gold-faceted ones do not show the paint brush icon.

Variations in branding

I preferred swatching the softer cores of the dark blue collection, but the colors I needed for my apple sketch were in the older gold-faceted group. Compared to the contemporary Goldfaber set I reviewed earlier (the same sketch you saw previously is shown again here for reference), the vintage pencils are much harder and difficult to layer and blend. I spent the same amount of time on each sketch (35 minutes), but as you can see, I couldn’t get rich hues with the vintage pencils. At the point that I stopped, I had applied enough layers in my usual method (repeatedly alternating applications of dry pencil, activating with water, and allowing it to dry) that the paper couldn’t take much more.

6/4/18 vintage Goldfaber water-soluble colored pencils in Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook

5/16/18 contemporary Goldfaber Aqua pencils in S & B Beta sketchbook

My conclusion: Old is not necessarily better, at least in function. I’m sure manufacturing processes have improved over time, making it cheaper and more efficient to produce pencils. I imagine that a long-standing company like Faber-Castell still takes pride in developing better products and using high quality materials. And in recalling my Prismacolor experience, perhaps the most important factor is that F-C has maintained production in Germany instead of cutting costs in other countries.

Contemporary Goldfaber Aqua
I must say, though, that the older designs are more attractive than the contemporary Goldfaber design, which seems perfunctory at best. It’s just a pencil, but more care seems to have been taken with giving it a distinctive look. This might be one of those nostalgia-based views, but at least in this case, older looks better.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Spring Sketchbook

My February through May sketchbook

I just finished binding my sketchbook that includes sketches from mid-February through May. On the covers are the ordinary corner of Fifth and Pine in downtown Seattle and one of the not-so-ordinary Victorian homes I sketched in Alameda.

I enjoyed juxtaposing these two sketches because they represent the two extremes for me of urban sketching. Whether I’m traveling or at home, I can’t resist sketching the big icons or “wow” scenes – the Space Needle (repeatedly), the Eiffel Tower, the Public Market sign at the Pike Place Market, the Golden Gate Bridge, or eye candy Victorian architecture. At the same time, I love sketching a “nothing view” (a concept that Marc Holmes talked about recently) – a scene like 5th and Pine, where a bunch of glassy buildings and some scaffolding overpowered the monorail, and it all felt very ordinary. Without spectacular subject matter, the “nothing views” require more effort to compose to keep them from being boring, but I guess that’s the challenge I enjoy.

Something or nothing – I love sketching both.

Monday, June 11, 2018

No Umbrella

6/6/18 Roosevelt Square Starbucks

If we’re looking for summer, we usually can’t count on June. It can be spotty. Some years we have June-uary; others it’s mild but wet. Lately the days start out cloudy but by afternoon we have sunshine. On the afternoon that I sketched this, the temperature was 70, and I didn’t care that all the tables with umbrellas had been taken. Even an ordinary Starbucks is a treat when I can sketch it al fresco.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Anita Makes Expressive Marks in Georgetown

6/9/18 Vendors prepare for Georgetown's annual Carnival

Last week Sue scored the highest weather points for her USk 10x10 workshop. But yesterday in Georgetown, Anita Lehmann got extra credit for both turning the rain prediction to sunshine and holding her workshop in the middle of Georgetown’s Carnival!

Anita's students at work while vendors set up around them.
The annual street fair made parking a bit more scarce than usual in the neighborhood, but her students all made it to class at All City Coffee for “Charcoal/Graphite: Expressive Mark Making.” With curious coffee patrons occasionally peeking over her shoulder, Anita demo’d a blind contour drawing of her hand as her students followed suit.

Eventually the class took to the streets, which were fortuitously closed to cars for the Carnival. More than once, Anita was warned that her demo spot would soon be taken over by a vendor’s tent, but we all know that having to move to accommodate other urbanites is part of urban sketching. Despite interruptions from low-flying jets (the usual “Georgetown pause”), she gave her demos and helped her students with aplomb.

The All City Coffee "classroom"
Showing blind contour exercises

Luckily, the streets are closed to traffic!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

First Hill Churches and a State Bird

6/8/18 One of St. James Cathedral's twin towers
6/8/18 Trinity Parish Episcopal

Despite the spitting that turned to drizzle and then full-on rain, USk Seattle made a strong turnout for a sketch outing in the First Hill neighborhood, which features two classic churches.

I wanted to sketch both of St. James Cathedral’s twin towers, which I last sketched several years ago from the Frye Museum’s parking lot. That former lot is now another high-rise construction site, so that view will soon be gone, but I didn’t see a spot where I could sketch from without getting drizzled on. Under cover of a small awning, I settled for just one of the tower pair.

The rain was getting worse, but I was determined to try for the second of the two churches – Trinity Parish Episcopal – only a couple of blocks away. I see its Gothic spire often from the freeway and have always wanted to sketch it. I found a fully leafed tree to duck under that gave me a view through the trolley wires.

Feeling damp, I went into the Frye’s café for coffee and cake (several other sketchers had the same idea). I grabbed a window table where I could see a bright yellow “Washington State bird” behind the Frye’s cylindrical building.

After a week of sunshine, our wet outing was a disappointment, but since I squeezed three slightly rain-speckled sketches out of it, I can’t complain.

6/8/18 Our state bird (no, not the pigeons)

Friday, June 8, 2018

Alix and Seila’s House

5/29/18 San Jose, Calif.

When we were in San Jose a couple of weeks ago, we visited my niece Alix and her husband Seila (I sketched their wedding a few years ago) in their brand-new home. I was hoping to sketch the house on location, but we didn’t allow enough time, and the lighting on the front of the house on that overcast day wasn’t ideal anyway, so I took a photo instead. After I returned home, I sketched the house from the photo as a housewarming gift.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Vintage Colored Pencils: Eberhard Faber Design Spectracolor Doublecolor

Eberhard Faber Design Spectracolor Doublecolor pencils

Sometimes you don’t know a grail exists until you find it.

My penchant for colored pencils is obvious. Within that niche, however, I also have a more specialized proclivity: bicolor pencils. It’s possible that this affection began way back in early childhood, when one of the first colored pencils I can remember using was the Empire Sunset Dual-Kolor. Since then, I’ve had difficulty resisting pencils with a different color on each end, even though I know I’ll probably be disappointed. Most of them are novelties or intended for children, and the cores are hard, wimpy and generally unusable (I’ve found a couple of exceptions that I’ll review some day). Lately I’ve seen some that are marketed to coloring book users, which I had hoped might mean they are of a slightly better quality, but more often than not, they are kids’ pencils packaged for adults.

Box front
Box back
Made by Eberhard Faber of Lewisburg, TN
Even without sentimental nostalgia, bicolors make so much sense for urban sketching: On location, I don’t need a large quantity of any single color, but I’d like to have a variety of colors that I can carry in a compact space. For this reason, a high-quality (and ideally water-soluble) bicolor pencil remains on my sketch material wish list.

That brings me to the grail I didn’t know existed. A while back I was chatting with Ana Reinert about vintage colored pencils, and she mentioned a line called Design Spectracolor that at some point was acquired by Prismacolor. Cosmetically, the line is unique in that both the outer barrel and the wood are black. The glossy end cap indicates the core color. Digging around on eBay revealed that Faber-Castell’s name is stamped on at least some iterations of the brand.

Top: Venus Spectracolor; bottom: Faber-Castell Design Spectracolor

Further research revealed that at some point the Spectracolor brand, which was marketed as artist quality, was also owned by Venus (which was eventually taken over by Faber-Castell). These look similar to vintage and contemporary Prismacolors; instead of a black barrel, they have a glossy colored barrel unfinished on both ends, and the wood is natural instead of black. All of these Spectracolors can be found on eBay regularly, but at relatively high prices. I’ve grabbed a few used ones through lot sales and in small, incomplete sets. In core quality, they are like the old Prismacolors: soft and waxy with strong pigmentation.

All of that is intellectually interesting to a colored pencil historian, of course. But one day on eBay, something extraordinary appeared in my search: A complete set of barely used Design Spectracolor Doublecolor pencils! These bicolor pencils bore the artist-quality Spectracolor brand – as well as the Eberhard Faber name, no less! (According to The Pencil Perfect, Eberhard Faber was purchased by Faber-Castell in 1987.) The set included 30 colors (15 pencils), which isn’t a huge range but is certainly adequate for most subjects. It meant that at one time in pencil history, a major American pencil manufacturer saw a market for bicolor pencils for artists – not just kids. 

Now my interest was emotional as well as intellectual, and I bid aggressively. (Well, aggressively for me means I placed more than two bids without exceeding my maximum bid limit.) I thought surely some other bicolor-nostalgic, colored pencil historian and vintage collector would outbid me – but I had only one competitor, and he/she dropped out before the end! An easy win!

The Spectracolor Doublecolor pencils have the same cores as their single-color counterparts – very soft, somewhat waxy and richly pigmented. Information on the box says that the pigments are lightfast and fade-resistant. Easy to blend and layer, they are a joy to use. With neither a colored end cap nor a colored barrel, only the points indicate the color. But that’s a minor quibble about the first truly useable set of bicolor pencils I’ve found.
Top: Eberhard Faber Design Spectracolor Doublecolor; bottom: Faber-Castell Design Spectracolor
6/3/18 vintage Design Spectracolor Doublecolor pencils in Stillman & Birn
Epsilon sketchbook

Of course, they aren’t the ultimate grail – to fulfill all my desires, they’d have to be water-soluble, too – but I’m thrilled to have found them anyway. It gives me hope that someday another forward-thinking pencil manufacturer will see this need and fill it.

P.S. Initially I had been numbering the posts in this series about vintage colored pencils because I thought I would have only a few to review. But it seems my collection is growing indefinitely (how did that happen?), so there’s no point in numbering them further!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

“Licked” Sky Mini-Demo

I tried to take photos for the entire demo while on location, but I discovered that to do that, I need more than two hands. 

Last November I showed a demo of how I use water-soluble colored pencils to sketch on location. Most of those steps are exactly what I have been using all along and still use. With my perpetual desire to streamline my process, however, the one part I found to be cumbersome was painting the sky. I’ve never liked trying to convey sky by applying dry pencil to dry paper and activating that with water. Streaks are difficult to avoid, or the sky takes on an overworked appearance that I don’t care for.

My solution was explained in Steps 6 and 7, where I apply dry pencil pigment to scrap paper, and use a waterbrush to lift that color and apply it to wet paper. I liked the result of that process, but it usually required supporting the scrap paper by putting it on the ground, which meant I had to get down on the ground, too (at least for a bit). One windy day, I had to chase my paper “palette” down the sidewalk, and meanwhile my damp sketchbook page collected all kinds of debris. It wasn’t ideal.

A few weeks ago when I was sketching a house in the ‘hood, I started to get out my scrap paper to paint the sky, and I had one of those V8 moments: Why am I going through all this fuss of putting the pigment on the paper? I can get it straight off the pencil point – by “licking” it!

I typically use the “licking” technique when I want to apply intense color to a small area of a sketch, but it works for something like a diffused sky, too – if I spritz the paper with water first. So here’s the mini-demo of my improved sky technique:

Step 1: Spritz the sky area of the paper, and spread the water evenly with a clean brush. (This step is exactly the same as explained in Step 6 of the previous demo.)

Step 2: Use a waterbrush to “lick” a liberal amount of pigment from the pencil point. For sky blue, I like to use Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle 660 (middle cobalt blue), which seems too dark if you are scribbling with it, but it gets diluted by this method.

Step 2: "Lick" pigment from the pencil tip with the brush.

660 (middle cobalt blue); 508 (Payne's Grey)

Step 3: Apply the pigment to the wet paper with the waterbrush.

Step 3: Apply the pigment to the wet paper.

 If I want a little gray cloudiness instead of blue, I like to use Museum Aquarelle 508 (Payne’s Grey, which is my favorite, all-purpose gray).

A little gray added to the sky.

Mind you, I’m not making a wildly expressive, gorgeously granulated sky that painters like Shari Blaukopf are known for. All I’m doing is indicating that the sky was blue or overcast as expeditiously as possible while still satisfying my minimal esthetic needs. For me, it’s always about striking a balance between what I can easily and quickly accomplish while standing and getting acceptable results. (Striking that balance is the main reason I switched from watercolor paints to watercolor pencils in the first place.)

Once dry, my demo sample is fairly pale, but I like the effects. I'm working on getting more intense hues with this method.

Here’s a closeup detail of the sky I painted over Half Dome at Yosemite a couple of weeks ago. Standing on the trail in Cook’s Meadow, swatting gnats and mosquitoes with my sketchbook, it was so much easier to “lick” the pencil point than to get out my scrap paper, put it on the ground, apply dry pigment and dip into it.

Detail of clouds over Half Dome.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Surreptitiously Sketched Tudor

5/30/18 Maple Leaf neighborhood

In addition to teaching me about the architectural styles in my neighborhood, my current series on Maple Leaf houses is teaching me about some of my neighbors. They can be funny about what I’m doing (and I don’t mean “funny” in a ha-ha kind of way).

A few weeks ago on a sunny Saturday morning, I passed this lovely Tudor that I’ve admired many times for its round porch and faceted conical roof. I had made a mental note to sketch it for my series someday – on a weekday (keep reading and you’ll understand why). On this Saturday, however, I spotted a large planter that was placed in such a way as to block cars from pulling into the driveway. Sharply cast shadows defined the planter in an interesting way, so I pulled out my little red Field Notes to sketch it from the sidewalk.

5/12/18 In front of the driveway of the house above.
I hadn’t been at it for more than a few minutes when I noticed that the owner had peeked through the drawn curtains. She came to the front door, stood in the doorway and said, with an unfriendly, suspicious expression, “Can I help you?”

Smiling, I responded: “Oh, no – I’m fine! I like the interesting shadows on your planter here and felt like sketching it,” and immediately turned my sketchbook around to show her. She eyed it suspiciously from the porch, gave me the stink eye, and closed the door.

When I had first started sketching houses in my ‘hood, I went out without regard to the day of week. I noticed, though, that on weekends when people are gardening, washing their cars, and doing other tasks outdoors, I am more likely to attract attention. Although no one had confronted me, I decided that I would avoid potential suspicion by sketching houses only on weekdays when everyone is at work.

My intuition was right. I’ve talked to others about it, and the ones who have sketched residences concur that some owners don’t like having their “property” sketched without permission, even if the sketcher is standing on the sidewalk (public property). Not wanting to get the stink eye again, I waited for a weekday before I returned to this Tudor and stood safely across the street to sketch it. (I think only her cat was home, sitting on the windowsill.)

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