New croc on the block…

new croc on the block

Heavy clouds but no rain…the Build Up is here, and we’re all stewing in our own sweat like plump pomfrets.

Living on a houseboat, it’s sometimes really tempting to go for a quick swim…cool off in the water…but sightings like this one curb that longing. Between 10-12 feet long, or thereabouts; big enough to do some serious damage already. Curious about the surroundings, this lizard clearly has not learned to be wary, yet, so it will be in a trap soon enough. My personal first sighting of the season (though by no means the first in the creek! It’s the ones you can’t see that are the real worry…)

The leaves in the foreground are my own pot plants…so yes, it seemed to be stalking me, actually.


shooting sea birds

shooting terns

Some terns, hunting slivers of silver fish in the rough waters of the harbour. They wheeled for hours, diving close by my window in the great gusting winds of a tropical depression. Grey, grey day, though there are patches of blue sky here and there…and blue is a color I haven’t seen in the sky for over a week!




I am holed-up indoors, a little sun-deprived but otherwise busy…mind swarming with ideas and projects…strange and lush images rising in my head like pop-up worlds…godlike creatures and wise old demons parading by, arm-in-arm, to the braying of a hurdy-gurdy orchestra.

Going deeper into my own weirdness these past weeks, unlocking cage doors and setting free the menagerie…

Listening as the distant howling draws nearer…

Getting ready to howl back…maybe even join them.

Red sky at morning

6 a.m.

 “Like a red morn that ever yet betokened,
Wreck to the seaman, tempest to the field,
Sorrow to the shepherds, woe unto the birds,
Gusts and foul flaws to herdsmen and to herds.”
—W. Shakespeare, from
Venus and Adonis

 Customs planes flying over the Kimberley area thought Kris was having some trouble because he wasn’t using his two main sails, just the mizzen, and there’s a low pressure in the area. The message he gave them was to “contact the sailboat’s owner and arrange to tow the sailboat back to Darwin.” I was a bit of a basket case, of course…my imagination took over and worried the hell out of me! Yesterday a plane managed to deliver a satellite phone to Kris, and they spoke to him.

He’s fine, plenty of food and water still, but with the strong winds (blowing in the wrong direction) he’s reluctant to use the boat’s sails. These have been rotting inside the boat for several years, and might blow apart.  Also, the boat is taking on a little bit of water that, so far, the bilge pumps have been taking care of. Now that the monsoons are starting up and it will be raining more often, Kris is worried that the solar panels that charge the bilge pumps will stop charging, and then the boat will start to fill up with water. On top of this, the monsoon winds, once they are established, will be against him, anyway. It’s taken him a whole week to make 100 nautical miles…a distance that, with good winds and a good boat, you’d normally do in just over a day.

My guess is that, on the whole, Kris figures the best way to avoid this whole thing ending in tragedy (i.e. loss of White Bird) is to just tow the boat home. The sailboat, White Bird, had been sitting in Bali for years—unmaintained—after its owner died there. Our local bar manager, John, purchased the boat, and Kris was asked to sail it back to Darwin because it hasn’t got an engine.

John and some other guys will be heading out there with another sailboat tomorrow (or that was the plan last I spoke to him, though he also said he’d call me this morning and hasn’t). If they do go, it will probably take three days to get there, then they have to actually find him, and another 4 days coming back.

thunderstorm at sunset

Was up at 6, and there was a vivid red sunrise quietly bleeding its way across the sky. It was so gorgeous that I fumbled for my camera just seconds after waking up, and photographed it while still half asleep. I thought of the old weather forecasting rhymes about red skies: “Red sky at morning, sailors take warning; Red sky at night, sailors delight.”  *groan* I just want him home, safe and well. But I have no say in these matters, so I try to keep my mind on other things.

working on...

I started a painting, based on a magazine pic that I have always wanted to use. Basic lines are in, but if I keep going in this way, I will end up with just a pretty picture of two pretty girls, like the magazine photo. So today’s job is to fearlessly change what I’ve done…to kill my attachment to this pretty and conventional image, and do something brave and fun to the drawing. To make this canvas my own.


candles on a dark rainy day

Nights, by the light of whatever would burn:
tallow, tinder and the silken rope
of wick that burns slow, slow
we wove the baskets from the long gold strands
of wheat that were another silk: worm soul
spun the one, yellow seed in the dark soil, the other.

—from Without Regret, by Eleanor Wilner

Our wet season is winding up, but we are getting a few days of hard, straight-down, heavy-as-lead rain, as a kind of encore before the monsoon trough relinquishes it’s hold on the weather. Soon it will be winter in Australia—cold down Sydney-way, yes, but it’s a fantastic time to be in the tropical North. Everyone in Darwin is looking forward to the change of season.

One recent morning was so dark and wet and miserable that I lit a few tapers…not so much to see by, but because I needed the emotional warmth, the flickering energy and golden color of those nibs of flame. Candles are a great comfort to me…I love the way they send shadows dancing around a dark room, and I can sit and stare at them for hours. My mom was a candle maker for many years…she didn’t make everyday taper candles, but one-of-a-kind art candles—tall, heavy pillars of translucent wax which glowed from within, revealing trapped dried flowers and fern tendrils curling inside the wax when lit. Her candles were widely exhibited, pricey, and sold to collectors…

But that didn’t stop my mother from using them as everyday candles in our home; she loved the 8-hour scheduled blackouts that the government instituted, for one year, in an attempt to cut down on national power expenses. She would come in from her workshop with armfuls of candles, and light them all. There were candles everywhere in the house on those nights—fifty of them, standing in groups of three or five, sitting on every piece of furniture, shining down from high ledges, throwing their light far up into the wooden beams of the pitched roof. The house looked like a medieval chapel, it was magical.

And there’s a teensy bit of the candlemaker passed down to me, too, because I spent many hours sitting with my mother in her workshop…it was where we had most of our mother-daughter talks. I even did some work for her, when she was swamped with orders, so I have the rudiments of candle making. Maybe someday I’ll do that for a spell.

This post was a bit random…just a bit of blather and procrastination before I get to work on some sewing projects I swore I’d finish today. 🙂

A hundred hours

11 Jan 2011 satellite pictureWhat weather we are having! Have you seen the map?! Kris said today that if we didn’t have a boat, he’d start building one today. It thundered and bucketed down all night…our two dinghies were brimful of water, and only the foam chambers kept them from sinking to the bottom of the creek.

Hope everyone’s doing all right over Queensland way? The flooding has been quite terrible.

I doodled this in just a few minutes this morning, using my non-dominant (in my case, left,) hand—have you tried this? It works surprisingly well. There are even some popular books about drawing this way. It’s like your brain (i.e. the ego) tries to control what you’re doing, but because your non-dominant hand isn’t used to the task at all, it ignores the brain’s ideas of what the drawing should look like, and just draws what the eye can see. You have less expectations, drawing this way, too—hence you are more relaxed, more open to happy accidents, more accepting of your own work. Whenever I draw this way, I end up with a drawing that is less self-conscious, less what I think the subject looks like and more like the actual subject—it’s from a photo plus some pressed specimens of , I think, some wild Cineraria spp. that grew weed-like and vigorously at Silaga (El Nido, Palawan).

Also finished two more Allium journals, books 895 and 896, which I promptly uploaded to my etsy and madeit shops.

Book 895 is a bit pale, all soft and pastel-ey, at least in reality. The photos I took don’t do it justice—this dark, bruised-sky weather makes photographing things in ‘natural light’ a pain in the ass…so these flowers are probably still a touch over-saturated, the actual journal is softer, gentler.

Book 896 came out a bit better, taken today during a brief lull when a hole opened up in the clouds and some watery, thin sunlight came through. The colors on this one really do look like this: more saturated, the stencilled leaves are shades of bluey-green with hints of metallic paint, and the flowers look like lollipops.

I’m trying to get things set up so that it doesn’t take me a fortnight to make a couple of journals…but I don’t like cutting corners, either, so hmm, yes, in a bit of a dilemma. I’ll never manage to support myself at this rate! The embroidery is the bottleneck, I realize, but without the embroidery, they really aren’t Allium flowers at all. 😦 So until I find a solution that makes everybody mostly happy, I’ll stick to what I know…so back to the steely silence of the embroidery hoop in the corner!

When I was young, and in my prime,
You see how well I spent my time;
And by my stitches you may see
What care my parents took of me…