One foot in sea, and one on shore

We are sitting a really nice house for our friends this month. It’s a nice change from the boat…electricity, running water, modern kitchen, all appliances, spotless and sparkling everything, two pretty cats…not to mention staying here cuts my morning commute by an hour and a half!

But what’s an artist to do in a sleek modern household on her day off, when both lunch and dinner have been made on the touch-operated glass stove top, the dishes are in the dishwasher, the laundry’s in the washing machine (that plays tunes like a calliope), the floors are gleaming, the carpet’s vacuumed, the spa’s been chlorinated, the plants watered, the cats fed…and you’re one of those people that don’t watch television?

You run away!
Creative mess on the boat

We locked the house and went back to our houseboat up the creek for the day…to drink rainwater, battle sandflies, fry eggs on a camping stove, boil coffee in a blackened pot, and make a creative mess.


On the boat, books, art materials, and tools line every shelf, fill every drawer and storage box.

I’m allowed to get paint on the tables, spray paint things on the floor, bang nails into the wood, strew paper and canvases across the bed, tape art to the walls, and play loud music. The place is a disaster area.

I’m surrounded by things that my friends have made.
Creative mess on the boat
There are pages cut from magazines, stashes of fabric and paper, sketchbooks, poetry books, Plasticine clay, half-finished paintings, pompoms, glitter, sharks’ teeth, fish skins, skulls, the wing bones of sea birds, all sorts of curious objects on the ledges…
Creative mess on the boat
…the sort of stuff that sparks ideas, makes you hungry to work with your hands, and sets the imagination off and running.
Creative mess on the boat

We left Sonofagun, happy and our creative appetites satisfied, at sunset. Back at the unit, the cats were eager to be let in; hot showers, cold beer, and a fiery vindaloo were waiting; also, the first truly crisp, cold Dry Season night had moved into Darwin.

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more.
    Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea, and one on shore,
    To one thing constant never.
Then sigh not so, but let them go,
    And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
    Into hey nonny, nonny.

It’s the best of both worlds, really.


10 thoughts on “One foot in sea, and one on shore

    1. Dear Hanna,
      Happy, yes…it’s a portable thing, unpack it wherever you find yourself! Content, well, I can’t say we aren’t contented, but we move around a lot, pack up and go wandering…travel plans are always on the horizon, so I guess this gives us away, there must be something we are not content about, that keeps us planning, and moving, and continually learning new things. “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page,” said St. Augustine (I think?)

      Not so much that we are dissatisfied with what we have (or ungrateful!) but that the world and life has so much to offer, it seems silly not to go out and try to experience some of it. Yet we have to be able to make the best of where we are, at any given moment, to be in it. Home, and art, are journeys in themselves, I guess.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. And to think that you have all that, and yet you have no idea how much your life, your open love, your words and your artwork and your creativity feed my soul! Ahhhh! What a gift you are. . . .


    1. Oh, Liz, this makes me feel a little ashamed…like I’ve been caught being ungrateful for something! 🙂 I hope I don’t sound like I take it for granted…I don’t often think of myself as affecting others very much, but I am so touched that you tell me I have. Thank you!


      1. Noooo! No shame, please! I must have misspoken–I am (almost) always grateful for the gifts that I have and I prefer to think that everyone else is grateful for theirs. It’s just that I enjoy reading about your life SO much that I feel like I’m using you to live vicariously. I’m in my 60’s with a house and a mortgage, a husband, and two kids in their 20s. Just in the past few years have I rediscovered utter joy in making art, seeing art, learning about art, and your delightful pieces satisfy and inspire me.

        Here’s the thing: when I was 26 I moved by myself from the Deep South in Alabama to the San Francisco Bay Area and I met a sailor. He was grizzled and grimy and he felt a little dangerous to me and he invited me to sail with him around the world. “Oh I can’t do that!” I said. “I’ve got a job and an apartment and two cats. I couldn’t possibly just leave everything.” And he told me that I could leave it all behind–that I could absolutely make that choice, and not to kid myself: sailing away with him into the unknown really was an option. I chose to stay put. I fell in love, married, had kids, and I forgot who I was. That’s why I’m so thrilled to have discovered art all over again. I practically swoon over colors and textures and patterns these days and it feels like I have been born again as an artist.

        Following your blog and reading the details you share about your life and your travels remind me of the choice I didn’t make–like you are an alternate universe version of me. I know that that’s presumptuous (and I hope it’s not creepy!) but your adventures feel like the opposite of the safe domestic life I’ve been living. Ergo, your life represents the path I didn’t choose. I can’t imagine not being mother to my two kids so I’m content with my choice but I certainly enjoy pondering what might have been.

        And I sure do appreciate your art–thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’d love to send you a copy of the letter I sent out last March…if you would be willing to share your postal address with me, sent to my e-mail? It’s in the menu, under “Contact”.

          It’s about my own choice, at 26…the garden where our paths forked, so to speak. (Beautiful story! Sad, but well, here you are, and that doesn’t seem too bad! 😉 )so i think you might enjoy it.

          Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s