aboard the M/V sonofagun, paints and pens, stuff i've made

Dude

spectrum birds in colourwheel treesI made a rather happy painting for a journal today…did this in the morning, and in the hours after lunch, before I went to visit a neighbour on her boat. I’m glad I got it all finished before I went, I don’t think I could paint something so happy now.

I went to have tea this afternoon on Cathy’s boat, just next to ours. Was just trying to be a bit more sociable, and spend a little time with all the folks who have been so nice to me, before I go. While there, I brought up the subject of Dude coming to stay with her, and she told me she had rather hoped I was going to bring him over when I came for tea, and had been very excited. I felt rather abashed…she has been waiting a long time now for Dude…I have been putting it off, first telling her to wait till August, then till September. Now September’s at an end, and it suddenly seemed very selfish of me to keep her hanging on for another month or two. I guess I kept hoping for ‘the right moment’ to announce itself…for when I finally felt ‘ready’ to give Dude up. I realised, sitting with her, that I will never be ready. Now is as good a time as any. So I left her boat an hour or two later, promising to come right back with the cat.

I took my time preparing a crate for him to travel in…weaving two ropes in and out of the holes so they wouldn’t slip, and preparing the loops on the ends so that I could quickly tie the lid onto the crate once the cat was inside.

I picked him up, and started to sob, feeling his silky, soft fur and plump warm body for the last time. The silly sausage was purring…he is such a docile and gentle cat. He didn’t fight when I put him in the crate, and didn’t go wild once he was sealed in. I tied the crate up, and he sat quietly inside, wondering what the game was. He didn’t start to complain until he was in the dinghy. Every plaintive meow brought another flood of tears. I rowed him over to Cathy’s boat, because I didn’t want to traumatise him with the sound of the outboard.

We got the crate aboard, and I handed a bag over with his plate, his water bowl, his biscuits, and his brush, snuffling the whole time. She waited until I had rowed away before she opened the crate up.

I had to go back a second time, with his cat litter. Dude got very agitated, and Cathy and I swapped things—she handed me back the crate and ropes, I handed her the litter—via her dinghy, so that I wouldn’t come too close to the sailboat. As I rowed away a second time, he seemed to be looking for a way to jump over the guard rails and into the water. Cathy distracted him, and then he just sat on the back deck, watching me row away. Since I got back on board, i have tried not to look out the window at her boat…I don’t want to see him looking across the water. I think I’ll sob all night, tonight.

A part of me feels breathless…I surprised myself by just up and doing what had to be done, and it’s only starting to sink in now that Dude is not with me. I’ll miss his purring by my shoulder in bed, the adorable way he likes to sleep with his head high up on a pillow like a person, the considerate way he has learned to ‘massage’ and claw at the bedclothes just next to me, and not into my arm or head, and the sight of him stretched lazily out on the carpet at my feet.

I’ve been reduced to a leaky, snuffling mess. Cats, of course, are not like humans, they are practical and resilient creatures that live every moment fully in the present. He is not suffering the way I am suffering. He’ll be a bit put out, and he’ll look for me and the boat he used to live on, for some time. But on the whole he will settle into his new life with his new human, I think, much faster than I will get used to living without him.

I have got another two months of living here to get through, and my biggest fear is that Dude will one day try to swim across if he sees me on board. I hope, hope, hope he stays at his new home, and that the sight of me coming or going doesn’t make things difficult for Cathy.

This is just one of several tearful separations coming up…October is going to be a weepy, emotional, difficult month. Lots of advice about following your dreams will mention the pulling up of metaphorical anchors…it sounds romantic, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do. At least, not when the other end of every anchor chain is fastened firmly to the center of your heart.

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aboard the M/V sonofagun, travel

many moons

Maun

photo taken in Maun, Northwest Botswana, by Philip Milne

Kris wrote last night from Maun, Botswana…it took him a while to get there from Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe because he had to make a detour around Chobe National Park for two reasons:
1) The park is mostly soft sand, very difficult for a bicycle, and 2) “Meals On Wheels (i.e. cyclists) are not allowed into the park, as big cats are part of the park’s animal population.

Despite not going on any paid safari tours, he’s seen a huge number of African animals just by cycling from country to country…many, such as elephants, range far beyond the borders of proprietary parks, and wander the salt pans in between Botswana and Zimbabwe. Looking for a place to do his laundry and have a wash after the day’s cycle, he noses out the nearest culvert, creek, or river, and has encountered hippos, giraffes, and more elephants who have come to the water for much the same reason that he has…a drink and a splash. I just hope he never meets with crocodiles like the ones in Philip’s photo!

Meanwhile, I sit and count the passing moons…still no word from Immigraton about my citizenship ceremony, and until I have a date for that, I can’t really say when I’ll be leaving. Please let it be soon! I miss my wandering love so much.

The last full moon was a big one. Here it is at dawn, setting behind Darwin’s remarkably ugly skyline…

moon at dawnTaking the moonrise was harder…even with a tripod, the boat itself is always moving, however imperceptibly, and the long exposure blurred the moon and its reflection…

moonrise

A bit like two moons in a sky the colour of sea glass, these spotted rays floated slowly past the boat in the morning…

two rays 3

Antidote to all these murky or misty blue moons is my happy truss tomato vine…popping with hot orange suns. Summer is coming…the dry rasp of cold mornings is gone, and the sky that was, only a month ago, as cerulean and flawless as a Wedgewood porcelain bowl, is filling with small puffs of cloud.

boat tomatoes

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bookbinding, books, Online Shops

GOINGALLIVANTING : : ETSY Coupon Code

etsy banner galiivanting
I’ve set up a coupon code for my ETSY shop, The Smallest Forest

Buy a handmade journal, or both of Kris’s books (or anything else on there) for a total of AU$40.00, and get 15% off the price of the items by using the code
GOINGALLIVANTING
at checkout.
Watch the spelling (or Copy/Paste it from here to be sure,) and look out for the blue link “Apply shop Coupon Code when you’re on your Shopping Cart page

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Applied properly, you should see how much of a discount you’re getting BEFORE you proceed to checkout.

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Runs until November 15, 2014, or the shop runs out!

Thank you!

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amazing people, bookbinding, books + poetry, Inspirations, Online Shops

A few new journals, and Kris’ books, in my ETSY shop

I’ve been trying to photograph and write the listings for some new journal designs to post to my ETSY shop this past week, but there have been so many social commitments, lately…I can’t believe the number of my friends with their birthdays in September, there sure was a lot of baby-making going on during the Christmas holidays! Oh, curious thought: Maybe Santa’s your real dad?

Here are four new journal designs in my ETSY shop…these are made with Spoonflower fabric designs by other talented designers, not me. Sometimes it’s nice to see someone else’s ideas on a journal cover, I get tired of my own style.

Clicking on the image will take you to my ETSY shop. If you want to purchase the fabric, instead, click on the designer’s name under the picture.

Hither & Tither journal. Fabric is “Time Travel” by nadiahassan

Little Mothers journal. Fabric design is “Matryoshka Russian Dolls” by LittleSmileMakers

Tweet Forest journal. Fabric design is “Fun Trees” by Bethan_janine on Spoonflower

Der Deer Party journal. Fabric design is “Oatmeal Spice Deer” by scrummy on Spoonflower

I only bought a fat quarter of each design, so there are only four journals of each. This is pretty much the last bit of bookbinding that I will be doing for a while, so if you’ve had your eye on something in my shop, best grab it now! I can’t take these with me when I leave Darwin (too heavy!) and I will have to put my shop in stasis until I manage to make something new on my travels. I know this all sounds so vague, but I feel as though I am standing at the edge of my known world, about to hurl myself into an abyss! I don’t know any more than you do about what is coming…only that I’ll be with my love, again, and that makes up for everything else!

Speaking of Kris, he left me some of his self-published books, and I have decided to put them up for sale on ETSY, as well! They were printed by small presses in the Philippines, but Kris bound them all by hand (very roughly, but the point of these books is the story, not the binding), so they can legitimately go on ETSY. (As of this listing, Kris is in Africa, cycling through Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia.)

I am selling his two best books:

Monsoon Dervish by Kris Larsen

“Dream. The day you stop dreaming, you are as good as dead.” —the Monsoon Dervish motto.

On a home-built Chinese junk that had no engine, electricity, radio, GPS, not even a compass, my partner, Kris Larsen—a carpenter by trade, an adventurer at heart—crisscrossed the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific for seven years, from Australia to Madagascar and Japan, covering a total of 45 000 miles.

Forever broke, dodging officials and flying by the seat of his pants, Kris found himself trading spices in Zanzibar, collecting sea-cucumbers on a deserted island, and entertaining gangsters in a Japanese night-club. In Sri Lanka he was arrested as a suspected Tamil terrorist; in Comoros he was chased out of the harbour by gun-waving policemen. He survived a 360º rollover in a typhoon off Taiwan, finally stopping on a beach in the Philippines to write this book.

For the next seven years he tried to find a publisher for his work: anywhere, anyone. Nobody was interested. Frustrated, he typed the text onto a CD and on the next trip to the Philippines he paid a printing press in Davao to run 200 copies of the book. Each book has been bound by hand and covered with old sailing charts, and every copy is different. The first printing sold out in 4 months around the Darwin waterfront. Roughly bound and roughly written in Kris’ pronounced Russian-English, this book is surprisingly funny, entertaining, and inspiring, too…it’s gathered a small following of readers from around the world.

Out of Census by Kris Larsen

“If I could choose one thing to take with me on a round the world trip, I would take a warm sleeping bag. If I was allowed two things, I would add a good passport. In that order.” — opening lines of Out of Census

This is the first volume of an autobiography by my partner and belovéd—a mad adventurer and prolific writer— Kris Larsen. It follows Kris’s growing up in Eastern Europe under communist rule, his days as a tramp and a rock climber, his brazen escape into the West, going half way around the world as an illegal alien with dodgy papers, over-landing to India and beyond.

It’s a humorous take on the life of a would-be refugee that nobody wanted, showing how little you really need in order to do the things you always dreamed about. You want to go on an expedition? Put on your boots and go.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ― H. Jackson Brown Jr.

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amazing people, art + design, blogging, Inspirations

Zero the One: Muse and Tools for Wildish Creatives

So proud of my friend Kat’s evolving blog, Zero the One…it’s got a new look, stunning photographs combined with fun fonts and design, light-flooded videos featuring creatives and thinkers that she has met on her travels (and at home, which happens to be Rome…a historically rich seam for creative mining), and a brave, beautiful, distilled raison d’être:

We are shameless artists, seekers and movers who care about epic shit.
And a good story (that we live out).

Muse and Tools for Wildish Creatives

The blog’s official re-launch is this October. Get inspired!

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amazing people, travel

At the ruins of Great Zimbabwe

Great Zimbabwe

There was a boy
A very strange enchanted boy
They say he wandered very far
Very far, over land and sea

A little shy and sad of eye
But very wise was he

And then one day, one magic day
He passed my way, and while we spoke
Of many things, fools and kings
This he said to me

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return”

(from Nature Boy by eden ahbez, 1947)

Kris wrote last night from the ruins of Great Zimbabwe…a major stop along his bicycle route around Africa.

This place holds special personal significance, and walking around the ruins was a sentimental experience for him. Kris grew up in the drab, oppressive environment of Czechoslovakian Communism. Everyone lived in fear or suspicion. The state determined every step of your life for you, well in advance. You were not encouraged to shine, or dream, or even enjoy your life. His father was a government official, but even they fell out of favour regularly, and when Kris was 13 his father died in a car ‘accident’ in which his brake cables had been cut. Needless to say, travel was not allowed (beyond the borders of neighboring Communist countries).

Yet, somehow, ten-year-old Kris—a voracious reader, and a serious, thoughtful child—managed to develop and nurture an adventurous, determined spirit. He tried to build a boat out of scrap wood in his apartment building’s communal courtyard, and he compiled a list of many countries, many places in the world that he wanted to see with his own eyes. Family, school and state did their best to squash such fanciful dreams, but I suspect they only sharpened the edge of his will. Eventually he escaped, traveling around the world, ticking off his list as he went, in his search for a new home, and finally settled in Australia. The ruins of Great Zimbabwe was one of the must-see places on his childhood list.

Every time Kris manages to reach one of the places on that list (and there have been many, now) it is an exultant declaration of his independence. It is the universe telling him that he is worthy of love. It is an affirmation of the validity, the possibility of his dreams. And it is another deep hurt, inflicted by his past, that life has kissed and made better.

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art + design, Inspirations

Jennifer Orkin Lewis, via Lisa Congdon

7.1 & 2 by Jennifer Orkin Lewis

Jennifer Orkin Lewis’s Daily Sketchbook Paintings…oh, to do something like this on my travels! Or even just to do something like this, at home, every single day, without losing the plot or getting distracted, or letting laziness take over!

What a fabulous journal she’s got! I drool over every page. In an interview with Lisa Congdon of Today is Going to be Awesome,  Jennifer says that she spends just thirty minutes on each page. Thirty minutes! I look at any one of her journal pages, and I know I would struggle to do it within two hours. But maybe that’s because I don’t paint a journal page every single day. Duh.

These 365-day projects, though I admire them like crazy in others, have just never worked out for me…my good intentions and initial enthusiasm about a project are built on such weak foundations. Oh, well, that’s not quite accurate, I have managed to make a pot of coffee every morning for the past 16 years of my life, or something like that. (Now that’s something to think about…perspective shift! Convince self that art is coffee, and that I will kill someone if I don’t do it! LOL)

*sigh* You know I only posted this to satisfy a preposterous inner need, right now, to be Jennifer Orkin Lewis…as though sharing someone’s amazing work will allow a little bit of the achievement to rub off on me…vicarious blogging. It’s lame. :)

Daily Sketchbook Paintings 7.1-20 | August Wren.

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Online Shops, stuff i've made

Also, free shipping on prints

float (detail)

Till the 14th of September, Midnight Pacific Time, the art prints* in my S6 shop will ship for free!

Be a Mermaid

Hit the link if you’ve had your eye on one of my illustrations, and save money on postage so that you can get the next size up, instead! LOL

Clickity-Click

redwork bird*Offer excludes Framed Art Prints, Stretched Canvases and Rugs

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