Sure, I miss traveling, miss South America, miss the Latino joie de vivre, miss speaking castellano, miss my love, miss the aquamarine magic of the Caribbean…but I have got to say:
It’s little I care what path I take,
And where it leads it’s little I care;
But out of this house, lest my heart break,
I must go, and off somewhere.
It’s little I know what’s in my heart,
What’s in my mind it’s little I know,
But there’s that in me must up and start,
And it’s little I care where my feet go.
—from Departure, Edna St. Vincent Millay
I finally stopped by Cathy’s boat and asked her how she and Dude were getting along. She said she was delighted, they’re good mates now. Dude sat on deck, watching me but not making a fuss, and looked pretty contented. Then Cathy dropped a bomb:
“You know Dude is a female, don’t you?”
Oh. My. God. We never thought to look! We were told Dude was male, and accepted that without question! Suddenly, everything made more sense…the gentleness, the quietness, the cat’s docile and homey nature. I roared with laughter, looking at the poor kitty on deck, all these years she’d been misunderstood. I laughed all the way to the shore. I thought of how Kris only ever wants to have male cats, but he also says that Dude was the best-natured cat he’s ever had.
Laughed till I cried. Best joke the universe has played on us, ever. That was a good one.
I 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.
Yikes, it has been a very long while since I posted…even by my lackadaisical standards! Let’s see, what’s happened since I watched dolphins playing around the boat at sunset?
The Magic Garden
“Better Homes & Gardens” is one of the two larger canvases (2′ x 3′) that I finished for The Magic Garden group exhibition. It started as an abstract painting, but before long I was putting in hills, houses, a #%$ rainbow, flowers, birds…ARGGH! the sort of art I admire most is the abstract expressionism of painters like Cy Twombly, or Fiona Rae, or Squeak Carnwath and Emily Ball…but it doesn’t matter how I start, with bold expressive strokes and abstract marks, in the end my inner painter takes over, much to my dismay, and Oh, hello, my inner artist is a #%&$ smurf. The only thing missing from this painting is a damn mushroom with red cap and white spots. Bane of my creative aspirations.
And here’s what eventually happened to the painting “Pink House” that I was having some trouble with, a few weeks back. I still felt unsure about the colours when I went to hang; ironically, it was among the first to get the little red dot of a sale. The lovely lady who bought it wanted to know what the ‘story’ was behind the painting, and it was only as I started talking about it that I realised that the pink, flowery land is being visited by a masculine ship from the blue sea, and the ship is flying a bee flag. So, uh, maybe the theme is “Boy meets girl”? Or “The Artist Misses Her Lover”? I made her laugh by putting on a French accent and energetically declaring “Le sujet, donc, est PUR et ´EVIDENT: c’est SEXE!”
Kris in Africa
It took Kris another 21 days to sail from Pembas, Mozambique to Richard’s Bay in South Africa. He spent a few days repairing the sailboat, and assembling his bicycle, then 12 days ago he took off for the interior: Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and who knows where else he will decide to visit, once he’s on the road? I don’t expect to hear from him much, as internet cafés sare few and far between in the countryside.
He wrote from Hazyvieuw, Mpumalanga Province, two days ago. Nothing after that e-mail, he must be rolling along again. He is loving every kilometre of the trip, and tells me he “wouldn’t trade it for the world.” And I wouldn’t trade his delight in traveling for all the world, either. His joy is my joy…I am almost sorry to be joining him, for traveling alone is a richer experience than traveling with a companion. I prefer being alone in a new country, myself, even though it can be nerve-wracking at times, because it pushes me to talk to people and make friends, and I am free to go where I please, do what I like. You pick the language up faster, too, when you aren’t constantly speaking your own language with a compatriot. The experience is more likely to change you, if you aren’t in the constant company of someone who thinks they know you, and expects you to play a certain role or exhibit habitual behaviour.
that’s about it for news, although The Magic Garden exhibition is ongoing until the 14th of September, and many of the amazing works by the 6 other artists are still available! I will be posting the works of the other members of the group in my next post/s.
What was in that candle’s light
that opened and consumed me so quickly?
Come back, my friend.
The form of our love is not a created form.
Nothing can help me but that beauty.
There was a dawn I remember when my soul
heard something from your soul.
I drank water from your spring,
and felt the current take me.
—Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)
Not everything about Kris’ sailing off in the general direction of Mozambique a few days ago is sad. I must admit that—for a few months, at least—it is awesome to have the entire boat to myself. Until I start to seriously miss his conversation, his tenderness, his boundless energy, his complete competence in running our household, I usually enjoy the first few weeks of living like a bachelor-slash-bohemian:
An apple, a knob of rock-hard dried bread, or a fried egg, on its own, for dinner (usually because there’s nothing else to eat…Kris did all the groceries, Kris made sure we ate healthy balanced meals, Kris made sure there was always orange juice in the fridge for my breakfast, real coffee in the pantry, bars of chocolate at the ready during my periods!) Art materials and projects spread wildly across all the tables, floors, shelves. The pile of dirty dishes in the sink gamely trying to keep up with the pile of dirty laundry in the hamper (Kris did the dishes. Kris did the laundry. Kris made sure there was always fuel for the outboard. Kris bought cat litter…Kris held my world together, and every time he goes away I realize that what I thought was the wonderful life WE’D created was really the wonderful life that my wonderful man had created FOR US. Doh!)
I stay up late, smoke too much, live on pots of coffee, rummage through the dirty laundry to recycle something to wear, sleep on a bed without sheets because they’re in the dirty pile, too, and the cat isn’t speaking to me because Kris always bought kangaroo steak for him on weekends, and I’ve got him on a Spartan diet of cat nibbles and water. But! I’m not a complete wreck…look! I am making Moroccan-inspired journals for the next ETSY Territorians Pop-Up Market…and I’ve just ordered stacks of postcards of six weird animal illustrations (four shown below) I did for the Dream Menagerie group exhibition that opens on the 20th of this month. After the show opening, I’ll have these postcard sets in my ETSY shop and at the monthly craft markets, as well. The colors are a bit over-saturated in this picture…they won’t be so harsh in printed form…part of the mysterious loss of luminance that every RGB-to-CMYK conversion entails.
Pictured below are (clockwise from top left) Coddled Salmon (he’s wearing a sweater), the Spangled Jerboa (pink desert hopping mouse with sparklies), the Pack Alpaca (for obvious reasons), and the Panzer Wombat (a.k.a. Armoured Wombat, in Galapagos tortoise shell)
So what do you think of these? Which one do you like best? (there are another two, but I’ll show you closer to the exhibition date).