aboard the M/V sonofagun, Darwin, Australia, life

My prodigal dinghy was found today, intact and outboard running. I even got a bonus: there was a huge red fuel tank in it that wasn’t there before…ha ha ha.

Three policemen in plainclothes came to see me at work; they’d caught the guy who did it (no, not the heroin addict at all…shame on me for being such a sucker for movie stereotypes!), and wanted badly to prosecute, as he is also responsible for thousands of dollars stolen in credit cards, electronics, and a caravan, I think they said. So I signed a statement and came home and towed the rowing dinghy behind the motorised dinghy. The mood at the club was celebratory, and I was getting waves from people on boats and thumbs-up-signs from passing dinghies…I waved back, returned a small smile, but didn’t really feel as elated as, I guess, they thought I’d be.

A lesson has been learned, and I cannot consciously, purposely, go back to ignorance, so I will continue to row, now that I know how easy and quick it is from our new spot in the Sadgroves Creek. Also, to put it mildly, I do not love that outboard.

All’s well that ends well. At least I have my dinghy and oars back! And I AM sincerely glad that I have recovered what was really Kris’ property. It will come in handy on craft fair days, anyway, and has proven invaluable for moving four friends at a time, to and from the big boat on party nights.

Isn’t it funny how, when you accept a situation fully—to the point of actually falling in love wiit the new conditions—whatever the problem was in the first place often rights itself?

The best part is that I now enjoy a new FREEDOM: I no longer need nor am dependent upon what I originally thought I had lost.

Lost & found…& found again.

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aboard the M/V sonofagun, Darwin, Australia, life, philosophy

Working with a thief

home

That which stands in the way IS the way.

Marcus Aurelius

After my manager returned from her 6 weeks of annual leave, one of the other staff members at work resigned, and so I am still working 6 days a week and, believe me, this blog isn’t the only thing that’s suffered from it…I have had no time to make anything new or do anything creative; with just Sunday free, I barely have time to keep the houseboat from looking like a pigsty, get the laundry and groceries done, run all those little errands that hold the framework of my life together.

Last Sunday, my one day off, I worked some more: I took all my craft market gear ashore, and a friend kindly loaded the stuff into her ute (that’s Aussie for a pickup truck…from ‘utility vehicle’) and took me to the Museum Grounds for the Dragonfly Craft Fair. It was a good day for me, and I came back to the Dinah Beach Yacht Club cashed-up and feeling triumphant. My friend was curious to see what living on a boat is like, so I invited her to come home with me. We unloaded my tables, chair, boxes of craft market goods, and I went to get the dinghy. But it wasn’t where I’d left it, and more looking revealed that it had not simply been moved nor ‘borrowed’ by a fellow club member. It had been stolen.

When I used to row my dinghy, I could leave it tied to the pontoon for days on end; nobody touched it for all these 5 years. Thanks to the new outboard engine, it disappeared just 6 weeks after the engine had been attached.

I apologised to my friend, reported the theft to a few friends, the marine police, and some people at the club. At first I was a bit upset…with myself, for not locking my dinghy the way everyone else at the club does; but mainly over the loss of the aluminum dinghy, itself, as well as the small but super-heavy anchor that was in it, my custom-made oars (extra long, tropical hardwood, with oversized blades), and the two 15-liter water containers that I carry water home in.

I ordered a vodka-lime-and-soda, rolled a cigarette, and found myself strangely at peace with what had happened. What do you do when something like this happens? Cuss? Start shouting? Cry? Round up a posse of murderous, bearded waterfront characters and comb the harbour in a flotilla of dinghies for signs of the dinghy and/or thief? (Nobody saw who took it, though there are suspicions that a homeless heroin addict that’s been hanging around the waterfront lately did it. Who knows?) Rush off and spend all of the day’s earnings on another outboard engine? Someone told me “That’s why you should always have TWO outboards…so if one gets stolen, you have a spare!” Buy outboard engines for thieves?

Strangely enough (maybe it was the vodka?) in a very short time I accepted what had happened, felt a kind of relief and peace wash over me, and pushed the lost engine out of my mind completely. The truth is that I never did like that outboard…’fast’ was the only good thing that could be said of it. Otherwise it was noisy, smelly, it vibrated the dinghy so violently that parts of it had started to fall off, it was moody on cold mornings, it was vulnerable on rough days at the pontoon, with all the dinghies lurching and leaping and crashing against each other. It was a hassle to buy fuel and oil for regularly. The worry that I would run out of fuel midway through the week, or during a trip home, was a constant faint anxiety at the back of my head. I couldn’t listen to music on my way to work. It scared all the birds in the mangroves away, so that I never saw them. A couple of times I went over rocks in the shallows with it, and the propeller made the most terrifying grinding and screeching sound…it required deeper water than a rowing dinghy and so I found myself stranded by tide levels that I would normally scull right over. But my beloved had bought it for me, and I couldn’t refuse to use it without seeming ungrateful and recalcitrant.

My peace blossomed into joy: I had an excuse to go back to rowing! I laughed out loud at the bar, delighted. Thank heavens for Josh, who is one of just five men (Kris included) at Dinah Beach who have actually done some serious rowing: while everyone else was giving me their two cents on where I should start looking for my lost dinghy, or asking me to demonstrate my knot-tying skills (implying that because I am a woman, I probably don’t know how to tie a decent knot, and the thing worked itself loose and drifted off! To which I found the quick reply “Sure, I’ll show you my bowline knot…can I use your dick as a bollard?”) or offering me the loan of their spare outboard (so the thief can have another one, and I have to buy them a replacement?), Josh simply, matter-of-factly, handed me his oars and told me where to find his own little sculling dinghy (his own boat is out of the water, for now, so he doesn’t need them soon). He knows I like to row. And as someone who’s done it for years, he knows it not as hard or unpleasant as it may seem to onlookers.


I’ve been to and from the boat a few times, now. Josh’s oars were just 6 feet long, awkward and much too short to scull properly, so I bought myself a pair of 8-foot oars at the ship chandlers after the first trip. The blades are still too small for my liking, but at least I’m comfortable rowing now. I’m like a huge water bug, skidding over the surface of the harbour on long legs. I pop my earbuds in and listen to music or an audio book as I row. I skirt the mangroves and the birds fidget when I come near, but they don’t take off in a scatter of panicked wings. I look around me as I row, drinking in the cloudless sky, the sunlight embroidering the edges of the leaves in fil d’or. I’ve been listening to the audio book Vis and Ramin, an 11th century love story. I catch myself grinning as I row. I LOVE this…I feel so alive, so much a part of this world. My body loves the honest work of rowing, my heart beating time to the rhythm of my strokes, and the world isn’t flying by in a rattling metallic cacophony of fuel-scented exhaust. It’s good for the heart, for the body, for the mind, for the soul, for the environment. Why would anyone want to do anything else? I’d like to thank the dude who stole my outboard for giving me back my self-reliance, and so much joy.

Fabulous Water

*And for those who are always concerned about Time and argue that rowing takes too much time (though they don’t complain about sitting in front of a television for a couple of hours every night), I have timed each of my recent rowing trips, and it has consistently taken me 35 minutes to row from the boat to the yacht club or the other way around. That’s 15 minutes longer than it took by outboard.

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Darwin, Australia, Exhibits

weird, wonderful, wild…

Dream Menagerie opening night

painting by Sonia Martignon

Here are a few photos of the Dream Menagerie show opening last Friday night! Amazingly, although we all ended up working in isolation towards this show, everything came together wonderfully on the white walls of the DVAA’s main gallery. It was lovely to catch up with my fellow artists from this show and see the works gathered together in one gallery, thanks to Ingrid Gersmanis’ thoughtful curating of the pieces.

Did you miss opening night? Not to worry! The exhibition runs till the 5th of July, and gallery hours are 12:00 noon- 5 pm, Wednesdays to Fridays, 10a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturdays.

The artists themselves sit the gallery on Saturdays, so come by on a weekend and say g’day!

Dream Menagerie opening night

Mermaid Boat by Ingrid Gersmanis, row of animals by me, painting in the corner by Marita Albers

Dream Menagerie opening night

ceramic sculpture with miniature animals by Ingrid Gersmanis

Dream Menagerie opening night

found objects sculpture by Karen Roberts

Dream Menagerie opening night

ceramic sculpture by Ingrid Gersmanis

Dream Menagerie opening night

three works on canvas by Ailsa Leibrick

Dream Menagerie opening night

painting by Sonia Martignon

Dream Menagerie opening night

Root-tootin’ cowboys by Ingrid Gersmanis. Driftwood sculpture.

P.S. I hope to get back to the gallery some time this week, and focus on documenting ALL the work properly. These were just a few shots before the crowds starting pouring in.

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Darwin, Australia, events, Exhibits

You are invited…

This Friday night…

dream menagerie invite

an opening with all the most fun artists and friends I know! I’m looking forward to an evening of nibbles and glasses of bubbly, all sorts of animals, a separate room for the always wonderful work of Sandra Kendell and Marita Albers (I’ve written about Marita here, and here)  great stories punctuated by lots of laughter, and a big recharge on hugs. I’m so excited, I feel quite giddy. (You can tell I don’t get out much…)

The Capricornian Emporium of Curious Curios and Marvellous Oddities

 

This Sunday…

ETSY Pop Up JuneJune’s ETSY Pop-Up market at the George Brown Botanical gardens…sure to be even lovelier, now that the dry, cool weather is here. The theme is Moroccan (though not limited to that) and there are many more stalls participating this time around. For the scoop on who’s going to be peddling what handmade wares, head over to the ETSY Territorians facebook page, where Fleur and Isabel do a marvelous job of posting Territory talent and Top End handmade treasures regularly.

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Darwin, Australia, life

Lonely Point of Departure

Life is so short, we must move very slowly.
aThai saying (also attributed to the Talmud)

Three car pile-up at the junction of Stuart Highway and Woolner this afternoon…a massive wreckage, one person dead. Traffic jams spread out from the epicentre like spider arms…people were sitting in their cars for probably 30-45 minutes (though to hear them talk about it, you’d think they’d been stuck for four hours).

Lots of customers arrived just before closing time to Jacksons, complaining about how long they’d sat in traffic. Amazing. Three-quarters of an hour and someone horribly dead, and they were whining about the traffic.

No point sitting in that, I told Sharon as we locked the shop, and suggested a few beers at the Railway Club. At 7:20 we left, and I cycled my usual route home: crossing the Stuart Highway at Woolner. Emerging upon the Highway I found it deserted…like a scene from a movie about the apocalypse…they’d sealed Stuart Highway off from Parap lights to Ross Smith, and the streetlights were out. I crossed the empty 6-lane highway, staying well away from the dozens of police and emergency vehicles, the cranes and other trucks, and the circle of blazing halogen lights that surrounded the crash scene.

It all looked so desolate and empty. I thought “what a dreadful place to step off the world; what a last thing of this life to see before it all rushes away from you, and the darkness floods in.”

I also thought “Car drivers are mental.” They are so careless and complacent on the road…road rules are viewed as unpleasant restrictions that the government makes up to ‘cramp one’s style’ and ‘spoil one’s fun’, instead of as safety measures to save lives and prevent tragedies. Often, if they think they can get away with breaking a rule, they will. Like petulant children. They can be arrogant…they think that because they are in their coccoons of steel, and because their seats are so soft and comfortable and curve around their bodies, that they are somehow invincible. Also, they will gleefully break a rule that could result in killing someone else…snuffing out another person’s life, shattering that person’s family and friends, creating this huge expanding cloud of loss and grief, because they couldn’t bear the thought of sitting for 5 fucking minutes at a red light, and had to go straight through it.

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The irony of a Toyota advertisement on the news page about the accident. Oh what a feeling, indeed.

I don’t drive because I hate the very idea of cars, what they stand for, what humans have become because of them. There’s laziness, and often there’s bad health and corpulence; there’s the demand for fossil fuel at any cost to the planet, the consumption of resources, the idea of being wrapped in a mass-produced bubble and cut off from the world around you, the noise, the way the air smells at rush hour, the irrational impatience and constant need to be rushing somewhere (you think a car saves time? How much television do people watch? Don’t try to tell me that folks value their time if they can spare any for television…) the selfishness of drivers who believe that being in a metal box moving with great force is an instrument of power instead of a great responsibility. It’s like walking around in public, casually swinging a gun around…you should have to pass seriously strict psychological and IQ tests before you are allowed to have either.

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craftiness, Darwin, Australia, events, Online Shops

Handcrafted, come what May.

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The first ETSY Territorians’ Pop-Up Market was a success beyond our expectations…some 400 visitors descended upon the Darwin Botanic Gardens throughout the day, and we ETSY sellers were on our feet, meeting interested people and selling our handmade creations without cease from 9 a.m. till 3 p.m., when an afternoon thunderstorm showered our first ever craft event with blessings and tropical relief from the heat! Most of us didn’t mind, we’d all done so well that we were quite ready to pack up and go home.

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Encouraged no end by this, I’ve rolled the day’s takings into making more journals, getting more art prints done, and improving my stall’s wares for the two ETSY Territorian Pop-Up markets happening in May:

May 3rd, Saturday & May 4th, Sunday…

Flyer

May 18th, Sunday…

etsy may market

At our “regular” venue: the beautiful George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens…pavilions and pompoms and dainty stalls under the leafy outspread branches of great-grandfather trees, across from the fountains of the water lily pond, and within desiring distance of the Botanic Café and their organic coffees and luscious cakes…

You’re invited!

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aboard the M/V sonofagun, Darwin, Australia, life

Some pics (but no birds)

Sadgroves Creek

Sadgroves Creek

Sadgroves Creek

crocodile trap...occupied this morning

Last night the mesh door of the trap was up; the following morning the mesh door had dropped…i.e. someone was inside the trap. We scooted over to have a look, but it was a very small crocodile, impossible to see or photograph in the dark centre of the trap. I didn’t even try…I’ve taken pictures of bigger crocodiles swimming, out in the open, around our boat, so this little lizard wasn’t exactly front page news.

Sadgroves Creek

Although I can hear them everywhere, I don’t have the thousand-dollar lens that will help me get a photograph of a bird hidden in the mangroves from the distance of my boat…so until I’ve worked up the nerve to push my little dinghy into the tangled mangrove roots and sit quietly until I find some birds (or maybe some big reptile finds me, first?) I don’t think I’ll have any bird shots for you…

Sonofagun in Sadgroves Creek

Last, a recent photo of ol’ Sonofagun in her new neighborhood…

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weve moved!

Okay, so it’s not quite the huge job that moving a house on land would be, but still, this is a big change for us! From being moored right in front of the yacht club that we use as our “landbase”—with mangroves on one side, the wide open Darwin Harbour and a flat horizon in the distance on the other side—the F/V Sonofagun was towed almost to the top of Sadgroves Creek last Wednesday. We’re now one-and-a-half kilometres away from the yacht club, and the trip ashore is five times what it used to be!

Despite the huge distance I now have to go to get to work (and the nasty new outboard motor that I have had to learn how to use, because rowing ashore would take over an hour) I am loving it here. The spot is deep among the mangroves of a National Park. Sheltered from the Southerly winds and choppy water of the Top End’s “Dry Season”, I’ll be able to work in peace and quiet all through this windy time of year. The mangroves here are denser, deeper—hemming us in on both sides, and no horizon line to rest one’s gaze upon—and there are so many more birds moving through the foliage…not just the usual sea eagles, kites, terns, gulls, pelicans or cockatoos, but little passerines, small and brilliant blue kingfishers, rainbow lorikeets by the hundreds, frog mouths and maybe even night jars. There’s much more activity in the water, too…fish (and lord-knows-what-else) constantly splashing, gurgling and boiling the surface of the green, glass-smooth waters of the creek. We are also just two boats away from the floating crocodile trap that sits at the intersection of the Sadgroves’ headwaters, so I guess we’ll be seeing many more of those big lizards, now, too. Hoo boy.

The nights are darker, and we can no longer see the lights of the city—the stacked Lego towers of illuminated units or the blazing halogen lamps from the industrial wharves—nor hear the constant rumble of bulldozers and forklifts. Almost no traffic on the water where we are, as most yacht people live along the bend where the creek opens up into Francis Bay (you can see the dense lines of white boats in the satellite image)…the only dinghies that go past us are Captain Seaweed’s (he’s at the very top of the creek, and spitting distance from the croc trap) and a few weekend fishermen. It’s like we’ve moved to a sleepy little town in the mountains, after the hustle and bustle of living in Francis Bay, where a fishing ramp unloads speedboats all day, most days of the week, and the big fishing trawlers, work boats, and tugboats come and go, creating huge bow waves in their wake that used to send us rolling like a barrel.

I’ll try and get some pictures to do the place justice! I really hope to capture what it’s like to live up a quiet, green, serpentine creek…surrounded by crocodiles and miles of tangled mangroves.

aboard the M/V sonofagun, Darwin, Australia, life

We’ve moved house! (boat)

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