Monday, August 24, 2015

Ripple | Playing For Change | Song Around The World





All time favorite...so great to see it rippling across the world :)

Monday, July 06, 2015

Photos



Fare Thee Well





This weekend was the last group performance of the Grateful Dead. My sweet husband offered to get me tickets and fly me out to see it. I said was happy just to drink a toast from home and listen to some tunes and reminisce and something had occurred to me- that time with the Dead as the soundtrack to our lives, that came with a cast of characters- all of whom are strewn across the country/world and some lost. 



That time for us began in the 80's and went through until Jerry Garcia's death and reappeared from time to time with Phil and Friends or other shows, but it was never the same again. That time was a formative one for me. It was all about Joseph Campbell and finding my way- or general direction as it turned out. Without the Dead I don't know if I would have attempted half of the things I have, gone very many places- I don't know if I would have thought it possible to craft this life. Grateful Stephanie. 

Thursday, June 04, 2015

I Forgot to Tell You about Cape Town



We did an impromptu visit to Capre Town in April- just 4 days, but it was wonderful!!! 

The above picture is pretty representative of most of the pictures of me there- always in mid sentence or in the middle of something.

For 4 days we ate delicious food- not the sort on cuisine we get here (although at home we cook some lovely meals). We dined on fresh organic vegetable and salads, fresh oysters , non-overcooked and over-salted foods- it was glorious. We went to a jazz club and heard   a live band  (not a guitarist playing "Hotel California"- which is the usual here), we took a hot yoga class, went to actually book stores (bliss!) and walked- yes, walked! They have sidewalks there- 

I look forward to our next visit. We came back from that one feeling recharged and ready to get to business again. 




Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Possibility



The floor of my Indian Ocean Studio are covered with projects. The walls too. Just one month and one of the three will be done and then just one more beyond that and 2 of the 3 will be done ...and the third on is extra special- a work that I have put a few years into - one on the scale of STAR STUFF:Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos. 




A lizard on out Hot Dodo Studio fence - our little version of the Bikram studio we love so much. 




The road by our house here. 

 Life is good- very, very good. 

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

So Many Happenings...



This has been a busy month. Lots of book projects rolling. 

6 months seems to be an interval that that has me feeling like I want a change of pace. And soon- it will happen. Fred and I are heading out to explore Cape Town as well as Namibia and then I'm heading home for a few weeks to check in  with friends family and out lovely case in California. 

Yesterday I found out that STAR STUFF: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos is a finalist in the California Book Awards!

The next few weeks promise to be a whirl wind of activity- deadlines, events among many other things. Life is never dull it seems. 


So- onward . 





Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Thursday, April 02, 2015

The View From Here


Another long absence from the blog. I think about posting this and that and then the day gets busy. My day starts at 5:30 and goes non-stop until 10. It's filled with a workout of some kind (a must), my work (writing, illustrating, researching etc. ), housework (we don't have maids or gardeners or any of that like other expats - can't stand the loss of privacy with a staff and it's uncomfortable having people around when you are trying to get things done, and then there is being taxi mom taking T to various activities and then the day to day of grocery shopping etc. Wow- long sentence. 

Above is one of the projects I have going. It's a quick little magazine piece. The main focus is the next book I'm writing and illustrating. It's taken awhile for the story to show itself. My method seems to be to research the hell out of something until I know my topic so well that I can approach it from any angle on the fly and have enough material to have many threads running through to play with. I have finally gotten to  that place with this next book and it's a relief and a joy now. Then I have 2 other books that I am illustrating. So, I'm pretty busy there, but happy.  



A covered surface in my studio. Fred bought me shelves, but we haven't put them together yet- soon things will be very zen in here without the piles. Piles stress me out. 


This is Jolly. When we moved in here he was a puppy. Jolly is one of thousands (I'm guessing) of wild dogs here on the island. Jolly has a good life for a wild dog. The residents of our housing complex have all adopted him. He gets fed and played with, has a flea collar and gets his belly rubbed and his ears scratched. It's not all good though. He has been beaten by some of the locals. Fred was petting him one day when a very mild mannered Indian man on a bicycle peddles by smiling and Jolly hid behind Fred's truck and growled and shook. The thing is, you can't approach someone like that because they will take it out on Jolly. Many of the locals here feel that beating animals is fine. We are the outsiders here- and we can't behave as we would back home. We did give thought to adopting Jolly, but we are renting this house and the furniture in it. 



This is a sweet little bird that flew into the window downstairs and died. This little bird is tiny, tiny- no idea what it is. It was a beautiful little creature though. We had this happen again this morning with a zebra dove, so no I am keeping the shades drawn on the big window. 



Then this little guy was just spotted downstairs. I carried him and the chair outside and he scurried off. Isn't he amazing? The color, the scales- 

Friday, March 06, 2015

Life Out Here, on a Speck


Mauritius is really out there. There are times when I feel that reality more than other. When I'm flying the leg of the trip from Dubai and the map on the screen in front of my seat that shows the route to Mauritius basically shows the Indian Ocean and the flight is 7 hour long- and then you can see by the on board cameras that there is a bit of land appearing (after the 7 hours)- and you think, "Wow- they found it in all of that vast ocean- the speck". Another time the remoteness of our current location hits me is when I'm driving. The width of the island on the northern end is around 5 miles- the size of the entire island is 788 square miles- drive takes about 20 minutes. 

Still, it's good thing to change the scenery and everything else and live here for a bit (no idea how many years we will be here, but we're calling it home for now). It's good to have to find a new way to do everything- to make a brain that has gotten used to doing things in a certain way and going certain places and experiencing different things. One thing that I love here is talking to people- like this young woman I met named Jessica. Jessica has this total island attitude and out look and is so happy and light- there is a wonderful uncomplicatedness here. In the west we have so many more complications- and really, why? Well- maybe the transitional nature of where the west is right now- a lot of in-between-ness a lot of undefined things...but maybe it was never really any different ?




Okay- the picture portion of this post. Above is a gecko walking around outside at night on the illuminated surface of a frosted bathroom window. Forget TV, Fred and I spent an evening watching this little creature fill its belly with wiggling, moving bugs- they moved in its belly too! It had a feast with the light attracting the bugs. 



Here is my Fred. He's carefully placing the shells that our kid arranged on a restaurant table. I marvel that the guy- he is the one that got us all to come out here. A couple of year ago I had only heard of Mauritius as where the dodo bird met its fate when people showed up and messed up what millions of years of evolution took to create. Fred is one of these people who has these visions of what is possible and then he goes out and creates. I suppose that I do that too, but I do it on paper- or digitally these days- in the art/literature realm. The expression of out ideas and the distribution is different. My distribution is bigger, and my travel is usually within- his travel is farther (but I suppose I'm here too, huh...) but few people experience that direct idea (for now).



This is looking north on the northern end of the island- not far from where we live. The clouds always fascinate me- they move so quickly and it's always a show. Last night I was in the pool looking up at a moon lit composition of billowy clouds moving overhead. I'm so grateful to be having these experiences- and sharing them with my Pookie. 


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Few and Far Between

Where does the time go? I just popped over to my blog to see if I should post- and YES- wow, it has been too long. So, just what has been going on over here?

Well...overall, Fred and I have been searching for the ever elusive "balance" between family, home, work and recharge time. And just as a side note- I'm looking for a new word for work. "Work" sounds so blah- it has synonyms like "drudge","grind", "slog" and "chore"- to name a few. For myself and Fred, "work" isn't that at all- it's fun, it gives meaning and purpose to our lives- it enriches and supports us as people and it is how we give back to community/society. We need a new word - a new way of languaging that concept. Anyhow...At present, we have a bit more of a balance going than we have in recent weeks. The hardest part of the equation is our child. Marla Frazee once wrote me the loveliest note about balancing occupation and children. I am paraphrasing, but she basically said that your kids will be fine and they will respect you if you pursue your passion- it will teach them how to pursue theirs. Anyhow, our kid is needing a lot of remedial help with his schoolwork and it is difficult to keep an 11 year old who has such a cushy life motivated. I think that this is the challenge with every generation- you want to make life better for your kid, but when you do you create an artificial norm.

I have been working (insert positive connotation here) on new books- 2 of my own and 2 written by other authors. For my own projects I have been learning new programs like Illustrator to help me craft the images. The software is getting so good and so much more intuitive, but require so much time to learn and become fluent in. I am grateful for it though because working in conventional media half way around the world from my publishers creates all kinds of issues- if I did work in traditional media and sent finished art to NYC it runs a high risk of being lost or damaged, and working in traditional media in an extremely humid environment invites wrinkling and other moisture issues. If you have read Elizabeth Gilbert's book The Signature of All Things, there are perfect descriptions of what happens with paper and tropical climates. 




As we approach the fall here in Mauritius I am trying to get out into the water more often before it turns cold. Last week I went out snorkeling on the reef. The experience is one that I experience in 2 distinctive ways- one is the wonder of it- a 3-d rainbow colored spectacular of fishes and corals or all colors and shapes, the second is this realization that this is a world that has a timer on it- the edges of some of the corals are white- a sign that they are dying from the acidification of the ocean, the fish are fewer and less diverse according to friends that have been snorkeling and diving here for years...I wonder sometimes as float in the warm salty water if the creatures I see will become part of the list of extinct creatures in my short lifetime...

I'm listening to an enthralling audio book The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey. It's a zombie story, but not the typical zombie story- weirdly enough, I am listening to it while working on the next Princess Posey book. 

And then last week while walking around I found this village weaver nest on the ground- empty (thankfully). The male village weavers make multiple nests in hopes of attracting females to nest in them. There is a tree just down the road decorated with them. They sway and bob in the breeze. The nests are so intricate- the inside features a a weave of soft grasses. 


Friday, January 30, 2015

STAR STUFF: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos is a NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children Honoree

I am happily floored at the new that Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos is one of only FIVE books given the honor. Here is the link to the National Council of Teachers of English. Feeling proud- thank you NCTE!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Dolphin Watching

About two weeks ago, our very kind and generous neighbors invited us to go out with them on their boat to go dolphin watching. Inge and Michele are delightful neighbors. They retired here last year from Paris. Inge is originally from Germany, and Michele is French. I speak German with Inge and Fred speaks French with Michele and somehow, we manage to communicate and enjoy on another's company. 

Anyhow, one of their children and her husband and their kids were here on holiday and one morning, they popped by to see if we wanted to come with to look for dolphins. YES please!

They have a local skipper who took the whole group of us to the south of the island neat Tamerin. There we stopped and had some sandwiches that Inge had made and hung out around this tiny little island that appears on a lot of post cards around here. I'm not sure what it is called, but here it is. 




We spent most of the day spotting one or two dolphins...and then headed back to the north. On the way back there was a crazy rain shower and some choppy seas and then, at the end of the day, when we had given up the idea of really seeing dolphins, the sun came out and there they were. A lot of them. Everyone got snorkels, masks and flippers on and dove into the water. Tristam saw a dolphin and they looked at each other- who was the more curious about the other? Tristam had a experience of looking in to another being's eyes and seeing there a real intelligence - a real being. I think we will all remember that day of for the rest of our lives. 

Thank you Michele and Inge!

Paddling

We have been back in Mauritius for almost a month. Tristam is back in school (and thankfully loving it), and Fred and I are working tweaking our work and home schedules to keep the balance we had just a few weeks ago- before thing got BUSY. The last couple of weeks, very slowly, it began to happen again...the days got chopped up into "to do's" - which totally blows, because the nothing really happens and down time vanishes for no good reason- and then the ever elusive goal of "balance" falters and becomes even more distant. Life becomes more maintenance than focus- because it gets partitioned out into little bits that are not enough time to get into anything...

This morning though, I headed back out onto the Indian Ocean on a paddle board. There was an extreme low tide- magic! No boats were able to get out into the water because it was just too shallow- not so for the paddle board. The water was calm and crystal clear. The creatures and corals that I saw this morning were the sorts of things I pin on my Pinterest boards- the kinds of life where you just marvel that this creature actually exists! I met a French man out in the water who was laying down on his paddle board looking down into the water and then sometimes he would turn on his side and look up at the towering tropical clouds. We were the only ones out on the water and he told be about some islands I could paddle to and explore- and so I did. I glided over reefs with wild looking corals and brightly colored fishes. I saw the ocean floor like I have not seen it before because the water was so clear and it was so calm- no boats. It was an experience I hope to always remember. 

At the end of it though- a bit of sadness - a hit an area with coral that was a ghostly white- it was dead. There were few fish there- and when I looked up- dozens of fisherman. The local fisherman struggle to make a living as the coral ecosystems are taxed and over-fished and the fish they have depended on for generations become more scarce and smaller....I wondered as I came in what the future of the coral reefs will be...if someday the creatures I saw out there will be limited to aquariums.