Budget Boudoir Mini Bullwhips

Budget Boudoir Kangaroo Leather Mini Bullwhips

Copy and paste version: desert.minx@mojaveoutliers.com

Price: $220, plus shipping.

And of course, Budget Boudoir mini bullwhips! Like their BB sisters the mini pocket snake whips, these mini bullwhips are 3ft long at 12 plait, but naturally they have a steel core for the handle, at 5.25″ long. I only make these on spec, as well, and to keep the budget price, the only thing you can change is the color of leather for the overlay. Sometimes you can state a preference for a pattern, but it’s ALL alternating strand plaiting at 12 plait–no spiral or fancy plaiting: for that, you gotta get in the custom queue.

Done for a friend, this one has a little bit special pattern:  mirrored pink hearts! Built slim line, which creates a better plate out, since it accounts for the 5.25" handle taking up part of the thong.

Done for a friend, this one has a little bit special pattern: mirrored pink hearts! Built slim line, which creates a better plate out, since it accounts for the 5.25″ handle taking up part of the thong.

These whips are shot loaded, and I usually kit them out with a 24″ tapered latigo fall, which you can trim shorter if you like. OR, should you put in a request for the next round of BB mini bullwhips, and would like a shorter fall, send me an email and mention it.

...a little closer in to the handle of the pink hearts BB mini bullwhip pictured above...

…a little closer in to the handle of the pink hearts BB mini bullwhip pictured above…

These mini bullwhips are HUGE FUN out of the box! You will not be disappointed! They’re excellent as starter whips, as an adjunct to your (hopefully) growing toy bag full of all manner of whip sizes and styles, and they’re also good for smaller venues for throwing (just bear in mind that they DO have up to a 24″ fall). Best of all, they won’t beat the crap out of your wallet quite as much–Budget Boudoir mini bullwhips are $210 smackers!

BB Mini Bullwhip Black & Red

BB mini bullwhip in red and black kangaroo leather, this time in single strand offset pattern, with diamond plaiting on the handle, creating the single strand of red leather spiraling around the handle…

Needless to say, I craft my lovely BB whips with the same care and pride that I put into ALL my builds. Below are more examples of BB mini bullwhips I’ve built in the past. If you’d like one, send me an email and I’ll jot you down on the request list for the next round. OR, keep an eye on the upper right corner of my web page: When I have spec whips available, I’ll post them there at the top.

Detail of the plaiting on the thong of the BB mini bullwhip...nice, eh?  ;)

Detail of the plaiting on the thong of the BB mini bullwhip…nice, eh? ;)

And just to give you an idea what's possible, a whimsical confection in red and white kangaroo leather:  The Candy Cane whip!  This one has an upcharge to it, mind you, because the white leather is falconry grade kangaroo hide.

And just to give you an idea what’s possible, a whimsical confection in red and white kangaroo leather: The Candy Cane whip! This one has an upcharge to it, mind you, because the white leather is falconry grade kangaroo hide.

Candy Cane BB mini bullwhip heel knot detail!

Candy Cane BB mini bullwhip heel knot detail!

...aaaaand a detail of the fall knots and plaiting on the Candy Cane BB mini bullwhip!

…aaaaand a detail of the fall knots and plaiting on the Candy Cane BB mini bullwhip!

(SOLD!) Kawanga Stick Delrin Cane!

Mojave Outliers Whip Makers Delrin Cane Kawanga Stick Kangaroo Leather

Copy and paste version: desert.minx@mojaveoutliers.com

EXPECTO PATRONUM!!

Hahahahah!

Presenting the Kawanga Stick! This is a 24″ Delrin cane at 3/8″ diameter, on which I’ve meticulously constructed an 8″ handle foundation, bolstered and bound. Using my whip maker’s skill and savvy, I’ve cut lace from whole hides, sized and beveled–the whole nine yards!–and plaited this at 12 plait in black and red kangaroo leather, with red pineapple heel knots. The plait pattern is my Mike Murphy tribute: diamonds with solid bands interrupted by a single row of double diamonds, and from start to finish it takes me about 4 hours to build one. The nice thing (among many nice things) is that this cane will last FOREVER, so it’s an excellent investment! So long as you don’t use it to pry up man hole covers or something like that, ahem! Too, at 3/8″ diameter, this is heavy on the “thud” factor, so bear that in mind.

Here’s a detail shot of the handle of this Kawanga stick:

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kawanga Stick Delrin Cane Kangaroo Leather Handle Detail

Send me an email if you’ve an interest, or if you’re thinking you’d like one in different colored leather!

And remember: “Swish, and flick!” 😉

Enjoy!

DM

Cat o’nine tails–Birth of a Felinus Feline

         So, I am in the process of making a bespoke cat o’nine tails, and I thought I’d share what I’m doing, since I’m doing a few things differently than I have in the past, and too, I’m using this build to do a little practice on a more involved bit of spiral plaiting than I’ve done to date. Two people I need to mention and must humbly thank right off the bat are my friend and colleague zjuuleke over in the Netherlands, for her stellar talent and endless kindness in sharing her knowledge and support, and too, Peter Thorndike, for being willing to allow me to “borrow” bits of some of his designs that I thought I might incorporate with some of my own ideas.

         In the past, I’ve made the tails separately from the handle of a cat, and attached them inside the core of the handle. That works, but it’s really super hard to get the tail end of your handle smoooooth, and I’m a stickler for such things. So, with this cat, I decided to take a stab at plaiting the tails continuous with the lace used to plait the handle. THAT meant I needed to redesign how I built the core, first of all.

         This is the prototype I came up with.

Mojave Outliers Whip Makers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine tails 01

         Since I decided I needed at least one plaited belly, that meant I needed to create room for it, so, I built a shot bag and bolster as if I was going to build an (American) style whip, and then bound that end to end to help stiffen it. zjuuleke’s advice after I did that was to go ahead and make strands that come off the bolster, so you can use that for a center tail–I’ll try that next time! In the meantime, after I created the core, I created strands that at one end were tapered to precisely fit the handle (and this is at 12 plait with no drops), and at the other, were cut, sized and beveled for plaiting the tails. Then I plaited it out, using this belly to practice for the oncoming overlay. And what I mean by “practice” is when you’re going to spiral plait something, you need to plan for a little extra lace so that you have enough length to finish the plaiting, as you’re using Perma Lok needles. Hence the extra lace at the heel end of the handle. Worked beautifully, as you can see: seams straight, the lace fits neatly the entire length of the handle, including at the narrow end where it is common to find bunching because the strands are too wide for the diameter at the tail, and the profile is very smooth. I hated to cover it up!

         But I did. I bound the handle again from end to end, to stiffen it still more. Alas, I don’t have a pic of that part, I was busy and I forgot!

         Then, the overlay lace. It’s a LOT OF LEATHER! This will be 24 plait.

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine tails Overlay Lace 02

         Which is part of the reason Cats can be so expensive. Anyway, I cut enough lace for both the handle and the rest of the tails, at about 1 mm wider than I needed. Then I tapered the handle ends to fit the handle, based on what I’d learned by doing the belly. Since it IS 24 plait, the tapering was very slight, but since I’m doing a 20″ spiral plait from end to end, again, I needed a precise fit, because otherwise the spiral pattern will be messy (it might be messy anyway, but we’ll see). Then I trimmed and beveled the tail ends to match the belly lace.

         Now, I realize not everyone does this, but I find it works very well for spiral plaiting, which is that I go ahead and plait out the piece using regular herringbone, making sure I get it as tight and straight as I possibly can. Here’s the result:

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine tails Pre Spiral 03

         That is some tediously exacting work, each strand placed carefully and then checked one by one to make sure they’re positioned properly, with as little variation as possible. Even so, this is a lot more precise than wrapping half the strands around the handle and then interweaving the other half, especially on a tapered handle with tapered strands–takes out most of the guess work that wrapping entails, and any stretch left in the lace is dealt with BEFORE any spiral plaiting is done.

         It matters exceedingly how you make the lace to start with, but I’m not going to get into that here.

         Next, starting the spiral plait:

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine tails Spiral Start 04

         As you can see, I’ve pulled all the black strands out, and restarted them using the spiral method with Perma Lok needles. Looks like a scary mess, eh? Well, it IS!! lol! But that’s mainly because since I’m plaiting the handle backwards from the tail to the heel, you can see all the so far not plaited lace that will eventually become the tails. So it kinda looks worse than it is. In any case, I like to start spirals with diamond plait, because that helps securely set the strands, and you can get an idea of the right angle of lace. I also decided to go ahead and secure the base strands so they don’t move around as much as I’m spiraling, even though they’re in position to start with. That’s what those bands of waxed nylon are for.

         This is another pic of the start, after I’ve plaited a little more of the pattern. There really isn’t a trick to doing this. Instead, you just have to commit to being patient, and to being as perfectionist as you can stand without beheading your entire family and burning down the town in a maelstrom of frustration and hatred of physics.

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine tails Spiral 1 043

         You’ll note that I secured the top end of the plaiting over the diamond spiral I just did, to keep the strands tight from that end.

         This is a little further down, past the first binding at the start of the box weave.

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine tails Start of Box Weave

         The idea is to do short sections at a time, and then “true” the strands with the plaiting above it, granted you kinda START by truing it. What I often do is take the 3 or 4 strands ahead of the one I’m going to work and lay them out against the thong and hold them in place, and then use them as a guide as I work the first strand of the next section of pattern. Then I use that strand to guide the next, etc., always being careful not to plait too far down the thong at any one time. Then when I get all 12 strands plaited, I go back and adjust as needed.

         Here’s another view, about 1/4 turn to the left.

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine tails Box Weave Quarter Turn

         Again, I’ll roll this good and proper once I’ve finished the plaiting, so a lot of the differences in strand height will be blended down. …hopefully…lol!

         Okay, below is the completed spiral plait on the handle, including having rolled it. This is the outdoor shot:

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine tails Finished Spiral Outside

         There are a few things I might do differently next time, like maybe doing a bit wider bevel on the strands so they lie (even) flatter, but I think I did pretty well even so, especially considering I was plaiting directly on top of the final binding.

         Here’s an indoor shot:

09-Cat-Inside-Handle

         Not quite one of my haunting pics, but I can see I’ll be able to do it later once I’ve completed the tails and knots. Again, I suck at taking photos of long skinny things. Anyway, at the moment my brain is yelling “Yer not the boss of me!” so if you have questions, feel free to ask, rather than me trying to anticipate…and Ima eat some pizza and maybe take a short nap! lol!

         Okay, coming down the home stretch:

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine tails Tail Knot

         The tail knot, which is a nice clean black pineapple knot, gathering the nine 4 plait round braids of the tails neatly. And, a little something extra on the tails themselves…

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine tails Sinnet Crowns

         I decided to play a little, and also experiment. Remember that kinda boxy knot you’ve seen on the Zenith whips? These are the same thing, and after much research and having the dumb blind luck to happen upon a copy of The Ashley Book of Knots for a pittance at $25 smackers at the local second hand book store, I can finally offer the ACTUAL NAME OF THE KNOT! These are called Sinnet Knots of 4 Strands with Alternating Left and Right Crowns. You got that? Think you can find it in Bruce Grant’s Monster Book of Monsters? You might shorten it to 4 strand sinnet crown knot. BUT! The left and right bit matter, because that’s how you get the boxy look. Anyway, I BY GOD TRACKED THAT BUGGER DOWN!!

         These are of course very tiny, but I like how they worked out, so I did them all like that.

         AND DONE! Below is the completed Cat.

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine Tails Done!

         Worked out pretty well, if I say so myself! Which I just did… 😉

         Here’s a detail of the heel knot, and I’m proud of myself for sticking with my original plan to do a box knot instead of caving and going with a regular pineapple. The cool thing about this is it ties in with the box weave pattern on the handle (see photo above this one).

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine Tails Heel Knot

         And a bonus shot, this is a detail of the box weave section of the plaiting on the handle.

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine Tails Box Weave

         Fabulous. Now on to the next miracle!

         Cheers!

         DM

(SOLD!) The Licorice Whip! BB Mini Bullwhip!

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Bullwhip Licorice Whip BB mini bullwhip

Copy and paste version: desert.minx@mojaveoutliers.com

Available now, no waiting, this is a 3ft 12 plait Budget Boudoir mini bullwhip! Plaited in black kangaroo leather with red and purple chevrons, this has a 5.25″ steel core handle, a shot loaded core, with a 24″ tapered latigo fall and black nylon cracker, finished with a red pineapple heel knot and purple heel knot bolster. Quick and lively, with no wobble, this is huge fun straight out of the box. A scaled down version of my regular build, this one is a little easier on the budget! $210 plus shipping. Just shoot me an email if you’re interested!

More pics, complete with captions!

Plaiting detail of the thong of the Licorice Whip...nice and smooooooth!

Plaiting detail of the thong of the Licorice Whip…nice and smooooooth!

Haha! Detail of the red heel knot with purple bolster.  Sorry, Froggy stays with me!

Haha! Detail of the red heel knot with purple bolster. Sorry, Froggy stays with me!

(SOLD!) Black & Red Budget Boudoir Mini Bullwhip!

BB Mini Bullwhip Black & Red

Copy and paste version: desert.minx@mojaveoutliers.com

(SOLD!), this is a 3ft 12 plait Budget Boudoir mini bullwhip! Plaited in red and black kangaroo leather, single strand offset pattern, with diamond plait on the handle, so that there is a spiral of red lace around the grip. This has a 5.25″ steel core handle, a shot loaded core, with a 12″ tapered latigo fall and black nylon cracker, finished with a red pineapple heel knot. Quick and lively, with no wobble, this is huge fun straight out of the box. A scaled down version of my regular build, this one is a little easier on the budget! Just shoot me an email if you’re interested!

A couple more pics!

BB Mini Bullwhip Handle Detail

Handle and fall knots detail of the BB mini bullwhip, showing the red spiral around the handle area, and the clean, straight design…

Detail of the plaiting on the thong of the BB mini bullwhip...

Detail of the plaiting on the thong of the BB mini bullwhip…

High Plait Count vs Low Plait Count

Hello, everybody!

This post talks about how the number of strands in a whip overlay impact the function of the whip, as well as what you might look for in terms of aesthetics when considering a high plait count vs a lower plait count. I get this question a LOT, of course, and I thought I’d jot my thoughts down here to hopefully spare myself a lot of typing going forward. So far, I’m going to allow comments on this post, and we’ll see how that goes.

Right then, here’s my two cents. The thing to bear in mind is that this is my take, and not my FULL take (that would take too much time, and really you need to BECOME a whip maker to get the full monty, as it were), and too, I am always looking for ways to improve what I do, or new techniques to add to my arsenal of making, so folks can add to what I say here down below in the comment section.

When a client asks me about high vs low plait count, typically they are coming from a perspective that expects one to always be superior to the other. This is not the case. Not ever. Both have advantages and trade offs, and what you choose will depend on what you want both in terms of functionality and aesthetics, as well as circumstances in which the whip will be used (including how often/how long per use, etc.).

I just want to make this clear: A high plait count does not mean a better whip. A low plait count does not mean a subpar whip.

A good whip is one that pleases you. That’s it!

Now, the nice thing about a high plait count is you have more flexibility in terms of what kind of decorative design you can create. That’s about it as far as clear advantage goes, so I often tell my clients that really, it just depends on what pleases your fancy. My lower plait count whips are just as lovely as my higher plait count whips, just from different aesthetic perspectives.

If you want a high plait count on your overlay, then that means I construct your belly with that in mind. Since the leather is sliced and diced finer with a high plait count, you want to make sure you have enough support so that you don’t get a negative impact from this (and it’s just a minor consideration in terms of what it takes to account for it, because of course the overlay is just the last bit of the whip construction, isn’t it?). Constructing a whip is tricky because as a whip maker you need to think in terms of the whip’s lifetime which is spent in motion, and not just how it will throw when it’s new. Yes, typically a whip with a high plait count will–all things being equal, which they never are–be a bit more supple out of the box compared to a lower plait count whip. However, over time, as the two whips you’re theoretically comparing work in, the difference will diminish, and may become insignificant (assuming the difference was large enough to start with). In addition, a higher plait count whip is at greater risk of getting too limp over time, but that risk is slight in particular if, as mentioned, the belly is built with this in mind. Also, “too limp” may simply mean that it takes a touch more work to throw the whip. It doesn’t mean that suddenly one day your whip collapses on the nearest fainting couch and refuses to budge, right?

Conversely, if you want a lower plait count, I bear that in mind as I’m constructing your WHOLE whip, as well.

In view of this discussion so far, I’d like to say a few words about high plait counts on really short whips. For a whip maker, a high plait count usually means that more strands will need to be dropped along the length of the thong in order to preserve the taper of the whip as you progress to the tail of the whip, and usually the target number of strands to end up with varies between 4 and 10 strands (and more usually between 6 and 8), depending on what kind of whip it is and how big it is. Dropping strands entails a certain technique: you can’t just stop plaiting with one or a pair of strands and carry on, of course, rather, you have to pull the strands NEATLY into the belly, and then plait the remaining strands over them, and you have to do that long enough so that the dropped strands remain secure and so that they don’t create bulges in the overlay or interfere, due to bulk, with the roll out of the whip. In other words, the dropped strands have to taper rather than end abruptly, which requires a certain length of thong for success. As you can imagine, the shorter the whip, the less space you have to drop strands. For really short whips, i.e., less than 4ft long, this becomes highly problematic. It can be done, but it requires a great deal of finesse and, even so, entails a certain amount of risk that later on a strand might pop loose, or you end up with indelible (although likely small) lumps in the profile of your whip. It might even interfere with how well the whip rolls out and works in. Since a high plait count is not necessary for a whip to function beautifully and be supple, you don’t need it in a short whip, if you’re thinking that will help your short whip be more supple. Again, it might be more supple out of the box compared to a lower plait count whip, but over time as both whips you’re comparing work in, the difference will diminish to the point where it’s no longer significant, and in fact, your high plait count whip is at greater risk of “noodling” compared to a lower plait count whip, in particularwith a short whip, because odds are you’re throwing it harder at first to get it to roll out (unless you’re a superbly experienced thrower, of course).

(SOLD!) Coral Snake Budget Boudoir mini pocket snake whip!

Budget Boudoir Mini Pocket Snake Whip Mojave Outliers

Copy and paste version: desert.minx@mojaveoutliers.com

Available now! This is a Budget Boudoir mini pocket snake whip, which is a scaled down version of my regular pocket snake whip build. The whip is 3ft long at 12 plait, in red, black and yellow kangaroo leather in a coral snake pattern. It has a shot loaded core, an 18″ tapered latigo fall and black nylon cracker, and she pops like a TART! Hahaha! Yours for $180 plus shipping. If you’re interested, or just have questions, send me an email (see above)!

Cheers!

DM

Death Warmed Over

The following is an excerpt from a short piece I wrote about my mother not quite a year before she died, and I reproduce it here by way of introduction to the kind of person she was…

“…My mother is a pioneer and a survivor—she did, after all, make it through the 60’s. She’s been on the cutting edge of social change most of her life, and been places and done things that women today can, thanks to her bra-burning generation, pretty much take for granted. And she hasn’t slowed down at all, either. These days, though she’s the archetypal sweet little old lady—at least to look at her—she actively advocates for gay rights, animal rights, human rights in general, the environment, she volunteers at the local library, and still finds time to walk out into her garden to appreciate the periwinkles, which she advocates as just as serious a part of life as anything else. She’s read and commented on every bit of literature there is to read and comment on, including Hesse, Kerouac, Kazantzakis, Steinbeck, Shakespeare, Nietzsche (a bit of a trial, to be sure), Marx, Freud, Jung, Tolkien, Adams (as in Doug), Camus, Dostoyevsky, and all the rest from classical to modern times, as well as a truly staggering number of mystery authors. She’s an amateur expert on regional Native American culture, a well-rounded appreciator of art from all walks, as well as a rather gifted artist in her own right, and she has traveled all over the world. She speaks Italian fluently, having lived in Italy as a girl, and is something of an expert on the behavior and size of cockroaches in the tropics as the result of an incident involving an egg salad sandwich when she was living in the Philippines in the 50’s. She can even play the accordion! She has adopted or dispensed with social convention on her own advice as a matter of general practice for decades. She is a Master of The Discerning Observation, and can speak with authority on just about any social topic on the board today.

Nonetheless, it is still possible to catch her by surprise.

For example, she went to the “hair benders” the other day for a haircut. Bear in mind that as I said, my mother is the archetypal sweet little old lady—white hair, apple cheeks, twinkle in her eyes and goodies in the cupboard for the kids and grandkids—the whole nine yards. There she is, sitting in a room full of women of various ages who are seriously engaged in attending to the full feminine arsenal of attraction. The woman cutting her hair managed to talk my mother into having her eyebrows waxed. It was kind of fun and nice at first, having her face tinkered with and the warm wax and all. And then:

RRRIIIPPP!!

My mother howled. She said she thought she was going to die. And she was faced with having to have the other eyebrow treated the same way or be lopsided. The other women in the room, having taken my mother’s outward appearance at face value, snickered.

That is until my mother, in stentorian outrage that could have come straight from Mount Olympus, gave voice to the perennial unspoken question:

“PEOPLE DO THIS TO THEIR TWATS!!??”…”

~~~~~~~~~~

You know, I think my mother was the love of my life.

Seems odd to say, doesn’t it? And in a way, a little sad, because traditionally you’re supposed to go find someone who fits that role, and spend your life with them, not just half your life and the other half you have to live without them.

But I never did. Find someone else, I mean. Not so far, anyway. On the other hand, the cool thing is that I started out my life with my soul mate right there from the very first moment.

Wasn’t all peas and carrots, of course. When I was little, Mom and I fought like cats and dogs. She was young, in an awkward marriage, struggling with parents who were more concerned with social niceties than they were with actual human beings, and she already had my older brother as well, a year and a half older than me.

I remember one time when I was about four years old, I was screaming at her “I hate you!” which is the best I could do to express my likely momentary frustration, being so little. Mom reached out instantly and slapped my face so hard my head spun around, and just as fast clapped her hands to her mouth in horror. I howled, of course. I don’t remember that it hurt, but I knew when your Mom slapped you, you were supposed to cry, so I did, and I put some honest effort into it. Then Mom swooped down on me and just enfolded me with her arms. I could feel her shaking.

She told me later that it was at that moment she realized she had to be the one to control the situation. “I just decided to stop screaming at you. You were so little, and you weren’t gonna figure it all out if I was acting like a kid, too.”

I dunno if folks can wrap their brains around how amazing that was. My Mom had spent her entire life isolated from the love of people you’d normally expect to get it from, and her marriage to my father was with a man who couldn’t keep his promises—or break them—with any honesty. The only thing she had to go by, really, was that when she was a child, her parents had servants—Mom lived in Italy starting just after WWII, in the 1950’s, and while my grandparents were busy with their adult lives, the servants took my Mom in and coddled her the way a child should be coddled. That only lasted about 5 years, though, since my grandparents subsequently moved to the Philippines because of my grandfather’s work.

Little enough to be getting on with, eh? But my mother was smart, very stubborn, and built for love. She had no small amount of courage, either. One thing she learned, from being on the receiving end of an unlove that saw all of who she was as just some sort of required adjunct to her parents’ prim and proper lives, was that there isn’t anything more important than being good to people, than appreciating them as is, without trying to step on them or mold them into something they’re not naturally inclined to be.

I benefited tremendously from that. Also, Mom always had lots of weird friends. Lol! I do, too, of course, but these days it’s not as big a deal—Mom was a pioneer, in a number of ways. Not only do I owe her a lot, but we all do. Because of her, and people like her, there are things we can take for granted in life that she had to fight for tooth and nail.

She helped to create me not least of all. I am not given much credit for who I actually am, not even by me, because most people (including me) find it a little strange and scary, but I’ve become better and better at slipping love in between the cracks for folks, and I have my mother to thank in large part for that.

My mother listened to me. She engaged with me. She included me in her esteem for life in general, and she viewed me as an equal in terms of my validity as a human being, and considered me a competent participant in her life and in my own, even when I was still a child. It never crossed her mind to think that my inclination to find exaltation in the ordinary bits and pieces of other people’s lives and being was in any way aberrant, and although she often did call me a romantic, never ONCE did she couple it with the word “hopeless.” That I am still able to find the precious art that exists in each of my friends and loved ones, in each of my acquaintances, in every human endeavor that travels across my awareness—despite living in a world in which such perspicacity is discouraged and even punished—is due to my mother’s wisdom, courage, chutzpah and defiance of a standard that wishes to disqualify love. That I am still able to submit to the exaltation this art inspires in me, and to reach out with it, to try to inspire it in others, is also due to the unstinting love my mother wrapped around me nearly every day of my life.

I wasn’t just lucky to have her. We all were. She taught me to reach out even when it is more than likely I’ll be rebuffed, and touch people whenever I can. She made the absurd possible, such that I am able to conceive of traveling beyond the traditional borders that separate people, when those borders become too much of a separation, shifting to become a cage or a prison.

The reason I can count my successes in this area on the fingers of one hand with fingers left over is because we are rarely given to know the toll of the living. But I have faith that there are more than this, because I’ve seen the end result of others’ endeavors, not the least of which is my mother’s in me.

When my mother died, there was an eternal instant when the whole world simply ceased to make sense. Everything just stopped, and the silence in my mind was like this great white nothing that appeared out of nowhere and wiped everything out without transition. My brother had called me with the news. I was in the hospital having contracted meningitis, it was 6:00 am and I was alone in a sterile room made of sharpened angles of stainless steel and relentless fluorescent light, and that silence might have gone on forever if my brother, infamous for making jokes like mini-horror movies, hadn’t spoken again about 30 seconds later… “Thea, I wouldn’t make a joke about something like this.”

For some reason, that made it possible for me to move in my mind again. Humor, as ever, came to my rescue, and I told my brother that this time I wished he was joking, ‘cause I’d much rather be kicking his f*ckin’ ass right now.

There isn’t any way for the human mind to entirely encompass being so profoundly bereft.

At least, not mine anyway. Not all at once. But I was. Profoundly bereft. I still am. Just it has come to me on little cat feet, by season, by scent, by memory, taste, sounds—anything in which, before, I could take my mother’s presence for granted—serving me with a small piece of her death, one mercifully delicate but implacable bite at a time.

Nonetheless, the wind died down, and I came down to earth. And here I am still, today, flightless. I’m having to learn to how to walk all over again. Whether or not I’ll do well enough to take flight once more remains to be seen, but in the meantime, as a good friend has been known to put it, I keep breathing, and I keep trying.

One thing I have figured out. This morass of loss, combined with the rich landscape of active memory of the time previous to it, contains a tremendous amount of energy, dynamic and always moving with the faltering dance of my soul. Once in a while, and more and more, I find I’m able to tap into that, and use it to accomplish things I might otherwise fear to attempt. It’s as if the energy that sustained my mother’s love for me still exists despite her absence, only it is becoming reformulated and then manifested anew via the love I bear for others.

It’s not the same. But it IS sufficient, and beautiful in and of itself—and I again find, or maybe simply recall what I knew before, only refreshed somehow: the absurd is still possible, and faith isn’t something you have to chase after, because as soon as you start to, it will turn to face you and endeavor to meet you halfway.

I can live with that.

Mom-portrait-150

How to Tie a Mummy Knot!

First, go find the appropriate vid on Bernie’s channel, and queue that sucker up!

Step One: Learn to make lace. While you’re at it, update your cuss word vocabulary. Then, several years later, proceed to Step Two.

Step Two: Attempt to follow Bernie’s directions. Attempt also to follow directions in any knot tying book, vid, essay, FAQ or any other source for knot tying, because you’ll think there’s GOTTA BE AN EASIER WAY!!! Once you’ve finished gasping in shock because you were silly enough to crack open Bruce Grant’s Monster Book of Monsters, slam it shut again real quick before it eats you alive and head back to Bernie’s vid.

Step Three: Having mastered by dint of grim determination the base of a pineapple knot, get half way through the second pass.

Step Four: Realize you made at least one and probably a whole slough of horrible mistakes as you were tying the base and the 1st half of the second pass, and do it over about 5,000 times.

Step Five: Once you have reached the 5,001st attempt, simply wrap the remaining lace violently and viturperatively around the knot foundation and YANK it TIGHT out of pure spite. Don’t forget your updated cuss word list, it will help tremendously with the vituperative bit!

Step Six: Chuck the whole mess at the wall and go make some popsicle stick men with your kid’s left-over-from-kindergarten bottle of Elmer’s glue and a Sharpie, just to beef up your confidence. Consider therapy.

Step Seven: Clean up the mess at the base of the wall so you can vacuum up the dust bunnies that have collected in the months since you placed it there.

Voila! The Mummy Knot!

Mummy-Knot-150

lol!

Seriously, though, this is the first pineapple knot I tried to tie. I had an awful time, but lookit me now, eh? Don’t despair, if I can do it, so can you. Just go slow, and really, you can stop and start Bernie’s vid as often as you like, WHO’S GOING TO KNOW, right? And no, it doesn’t take very long to figure it out, though it may seem like it. It helps to do one, then do another one right away, so you can start fixing it in your memory. Eventually, you’ll find you understand what you did, I promise.

Too, if you get stuck, just ask someone who’s already recovered from their bout of PTSD.

Cheers!

DM

(SOLD!) Budget Boudoir Mini Bullwhips!

Both Emerald Whips

Copy and paste version: desert.minx@mojaveoutliers.com

Please note: Both BB mini bullwhips have sold!

A new emerald green kangaroo hide I’ve been experimenting with! These two whips are both Budget Boudoir mini BULLWHIPS, 3ft 12 plait, with 5.25″ steel core handles, shot loaded cores, and 24″ tapered latigo falls. The top one is emerald green and natural with a mini spiral plait on the handle, and the bottom one is emerald green and whiskey done in single strand offset. I built both these bellies at the same time, so but for the overlay colors, they can be considered a pair. Both throw true with no wobbles and a willing roll out straight from the box, with a lovely crack! These are $220 each, or the pair for $440, plus shipping. More pics below, take a peek! And naturally feel free to send me an email if you’re interested, or if you have questions or comments.

Enjoy!

Handles

Detail shot of the handles of the two Budget Boudoir mini bullwhips…

Em Green & Nat BB Bullwhip

Solo shot of the BB emerald green and natural mini bullwhip…

Em Green & Whis BB Mini Bullwhip

Solo shot of the Budget Boudoir emerald green and whiskey mini bullwhip…