We gratefully acknowledge the original 'Disapproving Rabbits' website, that inspired this site, and its creators, Sharon, Bill, Cinnamon, and Dougal. Without you, we would not be here. We Approve Of You!
Charlie and I are getting along much better. Our hoomin made us do a few long flights in the baftub and did well. Hm ... that Espresso boy on the other paw has a lot to learn. But he's doing much better. He's been ignoring Charlie's snip teases and they are getting along much better. We have a bit more to go before they start grooming bun another, but progress is progress.
It is with a heavy heart we say goodbye to Tinsel. She had made her journey to the Rainbow Bridge a couple of days ago after a difficult battle with cancer. We'll keep Gabrielle and the rest of her warren in our thoughts and prayers.
We have been musing on a story about art and artists in space for a long while. Then, almost a year ago to the day, we saw the production of Lee Hall'sThe Pitmen Painters. We waited a week and saw the play again. When the time came to write about this story, it became a tribute piece.
We are not exactly sure what could be considered the first piece of art created in space. Chris Hadfield's cover of Bowie's "Space Oddity" comes to mind. Before that, a few astronauts took charge of their photography assignments and exercised creative control over them. Alan Bean retired from NASA to become a full-time painter but did not create any pieces while in space.
No matter where life takes us, art follows. If nothing else, we're awestruck by the greatest art show ever, the one best visible from beyond the edges of our atmosphere. Even the x-15 test pilots couldn't escape it during the few seconds they got to spend at almost orbital altitudes.
As luck would have it, the bunstronauts in this story were kind enough to submit their self-portraits, and we are grateful for their efforts. They are a busy bunch.
Bunstronauts of the crew of the salvage vessel the Buzzard had a long day on orbit. They had dismantled an old solar smelter and safely stowed the last piece of it for transport. No bun was sure what finally did it in. One report said that a liquid coolant pump seized and a pipe froze shut. That caused the smelter to burn right through in the middle and break apart. Somebun else said the poor thing took a direct hit from a small meteor, right in the radiators on the starboard side. The smelter was great at taking in meteors through its front ore manifold and popping out ingots of iron and nickel out its rear end, but it couldn't take one in its side. The legend had it that the Buzzard itself contained metal processed by the old smelter.
Warmup piece by Abby
Mr. Toes and Abby were off the clock now, and the crew had the rest of the evening to themselves. They were about to rotate out for a recovery and restoration period, so they could pull an artsy all-nighter if they wanted to. After supper, they headed to the old, open observation room with crystal clear diamond windows. Once, it served as a greenhouse, a storage room, and even a rec room where you could bring your sippy bag and relax, gazing at the stars.
Mr. Toes put on a pair of blue cotton overalls that Abby's Auntie Jane knitted for him. They had a thick, comfy collar and faux suede patches on the elbows. She even knitted the logo of the Space Agency next to the zipper on the right side of the chest. He disabled the smoke detectors in the room, strictly against regulations, and lit up his catnip pipe. Mr. Toes started to prepare the room for an open studio, life-drawing workshop. In a workshop of this sort, the attendance was open to whoever wanted to join the group for a couple of hours of improvised life drawing. The organizer would try to find a model, then directed the poses and led the group through the session, but everybun would be free to express themselves however they saw fit. On the ground, there would be a small cover charge for the model's fee and the rent on the studio. Here it was all a volunteer effort.
A short pose
Some used charcoal, some used graphite or pastels, and the brave ones wielded ink or aquarelles. They eschewed synthetic or digital media and materials, especially paper. The heavy weight, high fiber NutriBerry cold-pressed rug was the proffered sheet. In the end, it could be chewed to destroy the evidence of a bad night's drawings, and it would still be good for you.
A few years ago, it took Mr. Toes quite some time and effort to convince the director of crew operations to sanction the life drawing classes as an official cross-training activity for the crews. Mr. Toes started with the basics. He convinced the director that drawing from direct observation involved skills similar to remote robotics operations or piloting. The paw-eye coordination is crucial to both. So is single-pointed concentration and the sharpening of a bun's perception skills. Thus, drawing strengthens the "mental muscles" required to disassemble an old space freighter or to land a craft. The crew trains and doesn't even know it. They experience only the joy and frivolity of sketching a classical beauty suspended in microgravity.
Another short pose
The director, a stout and rough Flemish Giant, thought about it while he furrowed his brows and twitched his big fuzzy booplesnoot nervously. He demanded a proper report and documentation from Mr. Toes, offered no guarantees, and only half-promised a fair consideration. Mr. Toes took it in stride and considered it a win. After all, dealing with such matters with some bun like The Director is difficult even on a good day.
Later on, Mr. Toes found out that The Director sneered and ridiculed the idea. The Director ranted and raved about it to his wife, but his wife, a formidable, no-nonsense Rex, was surprised and thought it was a splendid proposal. Immediately, she wanted to host their art exhibit. She wanted them to meet the bunletts in her after school art program. The idea of arting bunstronauts got her all giddy! The Director knew better than to argue with a Rex and relented.
Another one from Joey
Slowly, the crew started to arrive. For everybun in this group, the first encounter with charcoal and paper happened right here, on orbit. Abby, Pancake, and Molly showed up first and shortly after Penny, Ava, and Joey. They drew lots to choose who would start the poses, and it was Joey's lucky night. Every bunny helped to clear the room and secure everything to the walls, leaving the ceiling and the side walls unobstructed to let in as much sun and starlight as possible. Somebun put on some music; somebun else warmed up a bunch of beverage pouches and set up little bundles of greens for snacking.
They took their drawing boards and mounted them on gyroscopically stabilized easels. On orbit, you can't sit down and set your board on a bench. You are free-floating, and so is your board. When you press the charcoal against the paper, the paper pushes back. That's why the easels had foot restraints and small paw-rails. They also had lights for the paper, little thrusters that used compressed air to change the orientation of the artist to the model, and little vacuum cleaners for removing the nebulae of charcoal dust that would inevitably form over the paper during the session.
They stepped into the foot restraints and adjusted their orientation to the model.
Mr. Toes called for a few, fifteen-second poses, and Joey froze still into the first pose. The swish of charcoal and graphite sticks filled the room. They had to work fast because it was not just the model changing its position, but the light shifted at a rapid pace during the sunny part of the orbit. As much as Joey tried to keep still to hold his pose, he was ever so slightly turning relative to everybun, so the pose kept changing constantly. When the planet blocked the sunlight, and the ship was in the shadows, they had about forty-five minutes of a fixed, steady light. Then, somebun would try to steady the model once more. It didn't always work exactly to everybun's liking, but they tried to make the best of it.
The effect of the shifting light source was most pronounced when the Sun illuminated the model with the flash of orbital sunrise. They would go from being lit by the warm, white light of the indoors to getting drenched by a burst of green, then orange and gold, then yellow and finally by the most intense white only a nearby star could throw at you.
During the next set of poses, each lasting a minute, we gave our best trying to do Joey some justice, and we were warming up nicely. The challenge always came during the long poses. Those naturally produced pieces that in spirit were aligned with the quantum nature of life. Joey's slow rotation forced the multi-planed conundrums of existence to the surface. Microgravity accelerated and forced every bun to deal with the fact that Joey had a backside as well as a profile at the same time. Then again, they were used to dealing with the interlocking and shifting challenges of daily living in space and always had to account for what's hidden out of sight. Here, a cubist representation of reality is nothing revolutionary and a [italicsNude Bun Descending the Staircase] happens naturally.
Before Mr. Toes started this group, he wondered how they would take to this exercise. On one paw, they were very different from their pit bun ancestors that mined disapprovium, cobalt, and iridium. On the other paw, these gals and guys were just as tough and accustomed to dealing with extremes. Engineering degrees didn't soften them, and they had never explored anything like this on their own. Outside of the confines of this "class," the only quality of line they ever cared about was how precise the line was and only trusted the mathematical representation of said line.
But it turned out that if given a proper introduction to the subject and a chance to practice, they enjoyed debating the quality of a line that turned and twisted, grew wider and thinner, disappeared in places and tricked the eye to fill the missing fragments. The line took on a life of its own.Now, they are quite adept at critiquing each other's efforts and, for a change, trust their guts and emotions when pushing their partners-in-art beyond their limitations.
Another submission by Penny
Those skills didn't take away anything from them as bunstronauts. Quite the opposite happened. They have found a new common ground for engaging others, like the Director's Wife. Suddenly, during the company's annual Spring Equinox picnic, they were discussing various art exhibits and funding for the arts with her. They give hope to those that start out in life as artists but believe that longing for the pursuit of science is a betrayal of their artistic calling. Now, they can accept the beauty of the line no matter its origins, be it a nonlinear equation or a caress of soft carbon against a piece of paper.
Mr. Toes called for another pose change and set the timer for five minutes. After a couple of simple ones, Joey assumed the arched position of a skydiver; after that, he did a dance pose, then another one, but this time, he turned himself upside-down relative to the artists.
Pancake joined him toward the end of the session, and they presented a couple of pair poses that usually would be considered high action and impossible to hold on earth. They had never experienced the limiting effects gravity has on the poses the models can hold for extended periods of time.
As the evening drew to a close, Mr. Toes took a slow lap around the room, stopping by for a word of two with everybun. The music played, and there were plenty of beverages left, so anybun who wanted to say late could carry on. Molly stopped noticing what was going on around a while back. She was completely lost in her piece, and no bun knew when she would be done. Like so many before and after her, it would probably be never.
- Renee: taking care of critters, photography
- Mr. Bun, Ijon Thichy The Nth: story
- Mrs. Angie: editing
Hoomin, try talking to the bum, or the backside, or the foot. Nope, no sir the ears are not working today. They're off on M*nd*y.
It's time for a bit of housekeeping on the blog.
We changed this line regarding the use of images submitted to our site from this:
Please note that you give the right to Disapproving Bun, Tomasz Brymora and anyone else to use images submitted to DisapprovingBun.com for any purpose they wish, without any limitations.
... to this:
We request the right to use your images in the DisapproingBun blog post and DisapprovingBun Facebook page post only. Images submitted to the blog or our Facebook page will not be used for any other purpose without first obtaining your permission.
In the beginning, we simply followed someone else's example in this area, and we don't think it had served us well. A lot of people care very deeply about their works of art, and we should have known better. We also learned that we just don't have any desire to churn out swag that uses your work. Calendars, etc. are a very time-consuming proposition and we just don't have the desire, time or will to pursue anything like that.
We're not sure if the wording of our tiny "terms and conditions" could or should be improved, so if you have any comments and suggestions, we would love to see them.
One thing that has not and will not change is our inability to protect your photographs from crooks. There simply is no 100% proof way of protecting the photos getting pilfered. If anyone promises you anything like that, they are simply lying.
And now for something completely different. We'll be getting a new theme for the blog. We never really liked the small print for the captions, and it's time for a little mouf lift ;-)
We'll keep you posted,
- Disapproving Bun
PS: Well, we've run out of disapproval today as well :-)
All my sides are the good sides, no? One of my hoomins finally realized that I'm a strong believer in that the best defense is a good offense. Then again, I'm afraid that as the time goes by, I'll mellow out. Then I'll make friends with that wascally wabit Espresso. Or "Spresser." Yep, that's what I hear them calling the little guy.
Now, for something completely different, we had a new addition to our salad repertoire: bits of kiwi. Something, something about vitamins and such. Yep, we love'em.
The deorbit flights had always put me on edge, and this one was no different. Maybe Freddie's paranoia rubbed off on me badly enough and made this one feel even worse than any previous return. Nevertheless, things kept looking up for Hopper, Mel, and me. Shortly after our return shuttle performed the deorbit burn, the Repair Hub patched through an encrypted message from one of the maintenance vessels around Saturn. It was Beth, the chief of the Communications Engineering Corps. I had not heard her voice in ages.
One of her ships was out on a mission to refurbish an x-ray relay cluster when her crew discovered something strange. Something had disturbed the orbit of the structure, and one of its modules was completely offline. The self-repair system didn't even try to repair the damage because to it the module had ceased to exist.
Well, when Beth's crew arrived, the picture cleared up but the mystery deepened. Something crashed into the module and became lodged between the main support trusses. At first, they thought it was a piece of rock or a lump of iron and nickel, but that couldn't be it.
Finally, some bun familiar with our story mentioned that our old training craft was supposed to act as a remote SOS beacon. It didn't take them long to put two and two together. The mysterious scrap metal turned out to be our TR-Regis-3 trainer. Further analysis of the wreckage revealed that the tiny craft had suffered a fatal blow from a micrometeorite long before it had reached Saturn. The impact was gentle enough for the ship to remain intact, but its trajectory was altered enough that it drifted across one of the asteroid belts and became mangled beyond all recognition. That's why it turned up so far away from the point where we had hoped to park it around Saturn.
The funny thing is, carbon dating placed the origin of the craft in the Carboniferous period. In the end, the salvage crew was able to scrape enough serial numbers from various bits and pieces of the wreckage to positively identify it as the TR-Regis-3.
Abby and the apple
Abby, Mr. Toes and the apple crumb cake
Beth closed the message with a promise that she would come by for a visit on her next leave. The news of the recovery of our trainer hit me like a brick. Suddenly, I was grieving for the sad hunk of metal. I was grieving for us, too, for Mel and Hopper, even though we have had survived this adventure. Getting reminded of how close we had come to not making it was hard to bear.
A couple of weeks after our return home, a package arrived from Freddie. Wrapped in several layers of newspaper and magazine pages with articles about our Behemoth encounter were a pair of gloves and booties. They were made from that special, sticky tactile "gecko toe" fabric. I put them on and ran outside into our backyard. I took hold of the trunk of our favorite apple tree and began to climb it like a lizard! I found a couple of ripe apples and tossed them to Abby, who was looking at me in a somewhat confused and petrified way. She must have been wondering if I had finally lost it and this is the day she would have to turn me over to a crew in white lab coats.
Alas, the most exciting thing that happened that day was the fresh crumb cake we made together. Nothing beats a good apple crumb cake for dinner! After we had licked our plates clean, we had a serious talk.
I told Abby that I would like to go away for a couple of days. I think she was truly concerned for me. She called Pancake and told her about my plans. Pancake suggested that as long as I told them exactly where I was going and when I was coming back, there was really no point worrying about it. It was not like they could do anything about it, anyway. That's the trouble with grown buns; you can't just ground them because you're worried about them.
So here I am, sitting in the canopy of an old redwood tree. It must be two hundred fifty or maybe even three hundred feet tall. I have no idea how old it is; five hundred years, a thousand maybe? Getting up here was an entire adventure of its own. The climb was slow. I had to watch every step, and I had to look for parts of the trunk that were free of moss and lichen. I almost resorted to using a security line, but in the end, I just used my paws. Another tricky part of the climb was remembering which way I went up so I could trace my steps on the way down.
First, I thought that I would try to climb as high as I possibly could, but then I came to a flat spot in the canopy. At the very top, part of it collapsed and formed the base of a little meadow. It was a bit rough and scary at first, but it felt very sturdy. My first impression of it was that it was a giant nest. The thought occurred to me that I should run, as I would be in for a very bad day if something lived here and decided to come back. But then I saw the little patch of wild strawberries. I sniffed around for a bit but found nothing: nothing but the smell of dirt and rotting leaves mixed with the intoxicating smell of conifer needles. I grew still and listened. Again, I heard nothing but the wind mingling with all those treetops around me.
I decided to give this spot a chance and settled in for the moment. When I looked to the west, there was a break in the branches, and I could see the Sun would have to pass through that clearing on its way to the sunset. I found a solid branch above me and fastened a safety tether to it. I clasped the carabiner at the end of the safety line to a loop on the back of my suit. The line had enough slack that I soon forgot about it. I let Abby know that my climb was done and that I was fine. That was our agreement. I promised I'd let her know that I was safe, and that was all she wanted.
Finally, I flopped over for a nap. I must have fallen asleep fast and hard. I don't remember having any dreams. The next thing I knew, the breeze had gotten kind of cool, and I woke up feeling the chill washing over me. The Sun, well on its way to setting, hid behind a distant bank of clouds. I got out my blanket and wrapped myself in it. Once my butt got cozy in the "nest" and I was able to rest comfortably against the tree trunk, I was ready for the sunset show. I got ahold of a drink pouch and cracked its chemical heater. The heat felt good in my paws. The first sip of the warm chamomile and mint beverage felt soothing in my belleh. A couple of soft biscuits made it a feast. Every time I took a sip of my drink, the sappy aroma of the redwood needles fused with the smell of mint.
Mr. Toes in the old conifer.
The Sun began to peek from under the cloud cover and soon lit up the bottom of the bank with reds and oranges. There was going to be a nice sunset after all. Throughout this entire "sitting in the tree" episode, I wasn't quite sure what's going on. I felt safe and at peace, but why? I've never seen or met this tree before, yet I had the sensation I had always known it.
The Sun was now moving quickly and hiding beyond the horizon. Right then, a thought occurred to me. Momentarily, this tree would be done grazing on the Sun. It would have to wait until the morning before the nearby, medium sized, main-sequence star would come into view. I was resting my back against one of the most advanced creatures to emerge from the universe. It was feeding on a nearby star! Above ground, it was a giant solar panel. Simply by being, the tree transformed its surroundings for the better. Whatever energy the tree absorbed from the Sun, it gave it all back to its environment in one form or another.
As the star disappeared and the dusk began to swallow our planet, a different light source slowly took over. The full moon was out. The night would be cold, but it would be well lit.
Think about how clever the trees are. They use a planet for a space vehicle. This tree turns out to be quite the expert behemoth. And, that's when it hit me again. The tree was quite similar to the Behemoth. I always thought that the Behemoth looked a lot like a pine cone and collected its energy like a tree. I became flushed with goosebumps, and as they started to dissipate, a message came through from Hopper.
"Did you see the sunset? I watched it from a tree; don't tell any bunny."
"No worries, I watched it from the top of a giant redwood. What's your tree?" I responded.
"An old, gnarled pine. Not very tall, but extremely comfortable and picturesque," returned Hopper.
I responded, "You'll have to come down here and visit. We can climb the redwood and sit here together. The only way to get a better view than this is to go on orbit!"
"Rog!" said Hopper.
The rest of the evening and the night itself were quiet. Of course, only if you don't mind the bugs, crickets, and owls doing their bits to keep the party going. The frogs did their part, as well. I thought it would be too cold for the frogs to be living it up, but I was wrong. I cracked another beverage pouch to warm it up. As I sipped it, I let my thoughts wander again, and at one point, Dr. Hopnom took over my noggin.
The poor guy recovered well enough to become a terribly damaging "witness for the defense." In the beginning, he wasn't supposed to play any role in what had happened at the hospital. He followed the news about us like every bun else, but he was busy with his own stuff. Everything changed once he was asked to consult on the cryopreservation of living organisms, specifically, the kind that has long ears and four feet and is space-fairing. Suddenly, he was very interested in what could have happened to us next. Lucky for us, he fundamentally distrusted the bureaucracy that commandeered his expertise. Thus, he insisted on visiting the hospital in person and managed to talk his way into becoming a crew member on the resupply ship. He thought that if nothing else, he could disable the cryo pods if he had a chance. Of course, his heart was in the right place, and that's what matters here. Then, his heart moved into his throat when the badgers blamed him for sabotaging the docking with the St. Cinnamon hospital. They were just going to blow him out of the airlock. Fortunately, he got into the airlock first, sealed the door from the inside and managed to suit up. That's quite the feat for some bun like him. He had more luck than brains. The only reason he had survived the incident was the robust design of the suit. It could function as a life preserver under the most incompetent of circumstances. As the Doctor had finished suiting up, one of the badgers had managed to crack the door. Our Doc had blown the outer hatch open. Both he and the badger had gotten sucked out into the void. No bun had ever found the poor badger. Then, if you recall, the news buns, Penny and Freddie had retrieved the Doctor.
I'm glad to have all that behind me, that is, at least for now. That awareness causes a physical reaction in my chest, one of relief and satisfaction. I pulled another wild strawberry off its stem and nomed it slowly.
- Renee: taking care of critters, photography
- Mr. Bun, Ijon Thichy The Nth: story
- Mrs. Angie: editing