« 1st Annual Brooklyn Pie Bake-Off Benefit | Main | Denyse Schmidt Studio Sale and New Quilt patterns! »

The Owl, The Pussycat, and The Great Big Bag of Coffee.

I have long loved Edward Lear's poem The Owl and The Pussycat. Apart from the mismatched lovers themselves, the most captivating element of the story in my mind has always been the items that the two packed as they set out for a strange new world: Honey, and a "great big bag of money". Something about that packing list feels so complete, so assuring, leading any reader to believe that their seemingly scandalous affair and subsequent elopement is something that we can all get behind with confidence that it will all work out for the best, cheering them on from the shores as they row away. I was a little skeptical about the guitar, having once survived a long cold 4th grade winter with a boyfriend of my mothers who also had a guitar on which he could play exactly ONE SONG. Over and over and over again. I would tell you which one it was but then it will be stuck playing in both of our minds all day. I hoped for the Pussycat's sake that the Owl's repertoire was more varied and that the guitar wasn't thrown in the boat at the last minute, with the Owls explanation being something like: "This will be the perfect opportunity to finally learn how to play this guitar", because Sister, I have BEEN there.  The honey and the money though? that seemed really promising to me. How wonderful would it be to only require what we could fit in the bottom of a pea green boat?

Anyway, I recently found myself developing some Owl and The Pussycat artwork for a client, and I really expected it to be a pretty easy task, since I already knew the characters quite well. The process was a lot more trying. My first sketch was a bit too sweet, But I did like the way Pussycat comes accross as being in charge of directions:

Something about this felt a little... un-relatable to me. I was trying to find a personal experience that might lend a bit of inspiration, and I was reminded of my father in law telling me about his youthful summers on Lake Michigan, which (he agreed with me on this) sound a whole lot like that Kid Rock video. And yes, this link will actually lead you to a Kid Rock video. My father in law and I have this in common: we are both, deep down, fans of canned beer and Kid Rock. So I took a moment and made him this sketch, which imagines the Owl and The Pussycat with an outboard motor and a sixer of tall boys.

I did another dozen sketches, none of which are worth showing anybody. They all looked a little forced, like I was trying to re-tell somebody else's story and I wasn't remembering the punch lines or as if I hadn't met the characters first-hand, and was getting very frustrated. This is when I did something for the first time in a very long time: I drank a cup of espresso in the mid-afternoon. And this is what I drew next.

Yes, the Pussycat is squeeze-guzzling honey straight from the bear. And the Owl is rocking out. I loved it, but it wasn't exactly a sustainable amount of energy for any of us. Our fearless duo would be out of honey and energy very soon at this rate and we would all be crashing and dismal before dusk. I needed to tone it down.

And still, I had lost something along the way that was making it hard to tell this story in the way that I remembered being able to see it as a child.

I decided to keep the honey bear though,  and managed to scratch out this slightly sugary version:

Which, in turn, led to the group below. I'm sorry I can't tell you what this is all for yet, but if all goes well you will be seeing them all again...

Spending a week with the Owl and The Pussycat has also led to another seemingly permanent development in my life. I'm now officially an afternoon coffee drinker. The addiction was instant, within a few days of my first mid-day cup I was crawling into the kitchen with a splitting headache a half hour after what my brain had already decided was Coffee Time. Oh, the anchor of dependency.

Maybe that's why I struggle to relate as well to The Owl and The Pussycat now as I did as a child, because with every convenience, every luxury, every habit that becomes a part of my life I know that I am further away from a ife that allows for spontaneous adventure, or at the very least saddled with a much longer packing list.

Maybe if I just stop accumulating things now, I can still manage it. I can see myself pushing off from that dock someday in my own pea green boat and rowing off to lands unknown, accompanied not just by a big bag of money and a squeeze top honey bear, but also a formidable amount of coffee beans, pre-ground. Its calming to imagine my tall, handsome percolator sitting across from me, gleaming with the promise of a productive afternoon. I hope he doesn't try to bring a guitar.




References (13)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Response: bag making machine
    heatherross - blog - The Owl, The Pussycat, and The Great Big Bag of Coffee.
  • Response
    Hello. fantastic job. I did not anticipate this. This is a impressive story. Thanks!
  • Response
    Response: istt.gr
    Hello! kabgefd interesting kabgefd site!
  • Response
    Hey, found your site by accident doing a search on Google but I'll definitely be coming back. - He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money. - Benjamin Franklin 1706 - 1790
  • Response
    Came clueless, left worried. Thanks for the post. Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it. Mark Twain 1835 1910
  • Response
    Response: fnuAEaXy
    heatherross - blog - The Owl, The Pussycat, and The Great Big Bag of Coffee.
  • Response
    Response: wBNpPBqH
    heatherross - blog - The Owl, The Pussycat, and The Great Big Bag of Coffee.
  • Response
    heatherross - blog - The Owl, The Pussycat, and The Great Big Bag of Coffee.
  • Response
    heatherross - blog - The Owl, The Pussycat, and The Great Big Bag of Coffee.
  • Response
    heatherross - blog - The Owl, The Pussycat, and The Great Big Bag of Coffee.
  • Response
    Response: bolatangkas
    heatherross - blog - The Owl, The Pussycat, and The Great Big Bag of Coffee.
  • Response
    heatherross - blog - The Owl, The Pussycat, and The Great Big Bag of Coffee.
  • Response
    Response: Orlando SEO
    heatherross - blog - The Owl, The Pussycat, and The Great Big Bag of Coffee.

Reader Comments (73)

Oh, I wish that could be the makings of sweet, sweet fabric. Not a chance though, huh? Love it nonetheless!

October 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

um... AMAZING! your pictures are adorable - and i'm hoping that they make their way to fabric soon.

October 26, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermamacharm

Such a sweet story. I'll never look at the owl and pussycat the same way again! But the detail I liked most was of the one song boyfriend. Hilarious!

October 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMaryam in Marrakech

They're so cute. I never knew the Owl and the Pussycat was by Edward Lear. I have a couple of reproductions of his bird drawings. I like them even more now that I know he wrote the Owl and the Pussycat. A x

October 26, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlittle pink room

Oh, how I sympathize with you over the boyfriend! For at least FIVE YEARS my dad spent every weekend trying to teach himself a single song on the piano! If anything can make you feel like all effort is futile that's it. Is there any space on that little boat for me? I need a vacation after calling up that memory!

October 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJessie

Totally love the honeybears, but I especially love the bats in your header! They are fabulously cute bats!

October 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVicki

Fabric, oh please oh please, be fabric!!!!

October 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDonna Harville Tiner

I love seeing this process - and how you get to your designs. I'm always curious what people go through and what they discard on the way. Hopefully we see the honey guzzling cat again!
I'm hoping this is fabric too - too too cute. I love it.

October 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEllie - Petalplum

please tell me that's going to be another fabric... please, please, please.

October 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRic Rac Sister

I can see a shirt in the fabric already. Fabric please

October 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJune

Thanks for sharing your creative process. I love the whimsy of your prints and I think the honey squeeze bottle is perfect :-)

October 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterflowerpress

Love every bit of this post. If this ends up being fabric, I'll be a happy gal! I might even down a squeeze bottle of honey in celebration.

October 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSara

Oh, so sweet my teeth almost hurt (must be the honey). I love it. It's wonderful stuff.

October 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKatieC

must have! Love this story. My son has a book, I don't remember the illustrator when they end up on a beach drinking little drinks with umbrellas in them. Love it. maybe they got a little honeymoon after all.

October 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterheather w

Uhhh, I think I married your mom's boyfriend. And it's "Yellow Submarine" - right? I always thought that if you were a good kisser, you'd have some sense of rhythm, but I guess not.

October 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermarieke

Please God let that be fabric-in-waiting....

...and pass the honey bear, I think I'd like a squeeze myself...

October 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterValerie

I just have to tell you that my heart skipped a beat when I saw this! Absolutely amazing.

And, I enjoyed hearing how it came about and personally also like the owl drinking a can of beer

October 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTeri

I'm with the peanut gallery - FABRIC PLEASE!

October 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

Oh, I'm glad I stopped here today--my favorite childhood poem--these made my day. Thanks!

October 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

fabric, fabric, fabric - purrrrrrdy please :O)

October 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersusan

Heather! Amazing! I'm otherwise lost for words!!

October 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie

you are so talented. This is adorable. I too secretly ( not a secret anymore) love Kid Rocks music. LOL

October 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteramy (sew~amy)


October 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMary

Just make sure to keep your runcible spoon!

October 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdawn

The illustration is amazing~ it reminds me of the mother goose ..

Pussycat pussycat where have you been?
I have been to the London town visit the king.
Pussycat, Pussycat what did you do?
I have been frighten a mouse under the chair.

Thanks for sharing~

October 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChase

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>