Wednesday, July 22, 2015

July Round Up: A Port Folio of Jewelry

I have really enjoyed the past couple of months in my studio, paired with ample time hiking the North Cascades. I've found inspiration in wild flowers, native plants, alpine lakes, birds, rambling creeks. I've found inspiration inside the Yard Food greenhouse (that's where my studio resides)...bugs, sprouts, COLOR, and the occasional frog. I've discovered a sense of piece between my art and mountain meanderings. This is a good place to call home.

So then, here's a round up of this month's work.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

One Year Ago Tomorrow: The Carlton Complex Fire

One year ago tomorrow I had no idea what was in store for our community. I saw a plume across the valley. I'd seen plumes before but they'd been quickly smothered by buckets of water. This one wasn't, and then the wind picked up. This plume was different. Ominous. But I really had no clue. How could I?

Following is a series of texts between me, my husband, daughter, and parents that began on July 15, 2014, the beginning of the Carlton Complex Fire. They end on August 1. That was the day we lost our home.

July 15

Derek: Is it smoky at our house?
Nic: Yes. There's a fire across the Valley. The one up Texas Creek has reached the ridge over Carlton.

July 16

Nic: This does not look good.
Derek: Do they have anyone on it?
Nic: They must.
Keri and I have been sitting here watching the plume. It keeps swelling. It’s gigantic. Time slipped by and I neglected to make dinner. Meet us at the Schoolhouse.
Derek: Um...
Nic: Where are you?
Derek: I'm gonna be late. Road closed. Houses burning up Libby Creek. I have to turn around and drive over the Loup.
Nic: Oh shit.
Cymone: Hello Dad. That sucks. How long is it gonna be till you get here?
Derek: I'll be home around 8 sweetie.

July 17

Nic: Hey Mom and Dad. Lost power. Derek filled our bathtub with water. Grilling dinner then going to a public meeting about fire response.
Four miles of power line are burning on the Loup. We'll be out for a while.
The fires have grown in scale in a huge way. Our side of the Valley is ok. We have NIMO coming hopefully tomorrow.
Dad: What's NIMO? Situation sure is scary.
Nic: Highest level of response by Federal Government. The fires have made their way down to Pateros. Three new drainages evacuated.
Dad: Glad it's getting some attention. What is the weather forecast?
Nic: Not great. Shifting to cooler which brings wind.
We're up to 700 fire fighters who can't keep up. Evacuations are happening too fast. The airport is busy!
Dad: We're very concerned about you and frustrated we can't be there to pitch in. Seems like the growth has caused consternation and more attention. Always the same...only time and effort for emergencies. Better than before. We're off to bed. Save your battery.
Nic: Hugs. We're fine.

July 18

Nic: This sounds greedy, but I'm worried about our garden. Months of hard work are quickly disintegrating. I’m taking the truck to the river to haul water up in trash barrels.
I managed to haul 50 gallons of water onto the garden, but it's nowhere near sufficient.
Mom: Bravo!
Nic: Coverage is spotty right now. Air support has increased. Fire across the Valley has intensified. Winds are strong. We're bathing in the river and borrowing a generator from neighbors, taking turns charging freezers.
Lots of manpower. It's impressive. Level 2 evacuation in Twisp. We’ve heard that utility repairs could take weeks.
Mom: What is level 2?
Nic: Level 1 is caution. Level 2 is be ready. Level 3 is evacuate.
We inventoried our house today.
Dad: Maybe you could take pictures of each room.
Nic: No gas available in Twisp.
Derek: Shit.
Nic: I'll go to Winthrop.
Sitting in a line waiting to fill up the tank. Ugh.
Dad: You hanging in there?
Nic: Yup, hangin’. Can you guys be the communicators with family? Reception is too spotty to communicate with all. We are ok. I have wine in hand so I'm great.
Dad: Okay. Enjoy your spectacular seats watching the action. Glad you're able to maintain your sense of humor. Love you guys.
Nic: One home on the other side not looking good. Flames high. Lots of action. We're ok.
Dad: Yuck. Still toward the SE?
Nic: Yes. This is a stubborn beast. I wish I could watch the news.
Dad: Do you have local radio on your phones?
Nic: No local radio is working. We're entirely cut off.
Dad: I can send you what I see/hear. Seems that Teri and Ken have some sources. They're posting on Facebook occasionally.
Nic: Ok.
That home is engulfed. I can't tell if it's burning.
Now the fire looks like it's retreating.
Dad: Super.

July 19

Nic: Fire is about the same. We expect a lot of air traffic. I'm heading to Twisp to see if I can get some news. Internet here is spotty at best. I'm thankful for Africa because I know how to take a very efficient bucket shower.
Dad: Tracey offered to send you a care package. I thanked her and declined.
Nic: Good because the post office is shut down.
I'm starting to go stir crazy. Derek must be too because he took the dish water and cleaned the window sills. I'm about to get water from the river for the tomatoes. The garden is limp.
I'm going to Wenatchee tomorrow. We purchased a generator to pick up. We don't feel like all of us can leave the house so I'll take Cymone and see how far we can get.

July 20

Nic: They say they don’t have the generator. It’ll be delivered in 2 weeks.
Derek: WTF? Looking at the receipt now. Forwarding it to you. It states clearly that it’s there for pick up.
Nic: Right, but it’s not. They say their website is never correct.
Asking them if I have any other options. Nothing we can do but cancel the purchase.
I’ve asked them to call every hardware store in Wenatchee. Driving to the other side of Wenatchee now.
The cheapest one is $2,500. 18 were delivered this morning and there are only 2 left. Calling you to discuss.
Ok, heading home. Is the pass open?
Derek: Yes. I went to the river and dumped 50 gallons of H2O on the garden.
Nic: Thank you.

July 21

Nic: Happy. We have sprinklers on the garden.
Mom: Excellent!
Derek: Carlton at level 3 again?
Nic: Can you get through?
Derek: Not sure. Checking.
Nic: Word?
Derek: Loup is closed again. Evacuated on that side. Libby Creek active again resulting in evacs near Carlton. Hitting the road back now.

July 22
Derek: Rain.
Nic: Yes! Where?
Derek: Gold Creek.
Nic: It sounds like 153 is closed. There are flash flood warnings.
Derek: Fuck.
Nic: Internet is back up so please work from home after this. I wonder if insurance will cover our generator?

July 25

Derek: Power is on! Heading to Twisp.

August 1

Cymone: Hi Mom. I’m having fun in Boston. I miss you. Where are you?
Nic: Hi sweetheart. Loading onto the Bainbridge Island Ferry. What are you doing?
Cymone: Just got back from a walk. I’m excited to see Grandma and Grandpa tomorrow.
Nic: Cool. I saw a dolphin today. I wish you could see what I'm seeing and I could see what you're seeing.
Cymone: I wish the same. I love you.
Nic: Shit, we just learned there's a fire up Rising Eagle. It seems to be moving quickly.
Dad: What's the situation?
Nic: We love you, Cymone.
Cymone: I love you more.
Nic: Not possible.
Apparently it started below Rising Eagle and is spreading up hill. We're heading to Issaquah for now. Waiting.
Still waiting.
They're dumping water on our house.
Dad: Hope that's good. Seems there are 6 helicopters working the area. Your neighbors are at the airport watching. Too much smoke to define what's happening yet.
I plan to send Robb an email giving him a heads up but recommend not telling Cymone until its defined.
Nic: Don't tell Cymone.
Dad: Your neighbors just told us that Calderhead's was totally engulfed. Nothing about our construction site but not much to burn. Your situation seems very hopeful. Love those fire fighters.
We've advised Robb and he's not saying anything to Cymone. Anything new on your house?
Nic: No one can see.
They created a fire line below our house.
On the phone with Sarah and Hans. They’ve sent us photos.
Sounds like we lost our deck so far.
It's down.
Oh my God. It's down.
Mom: Nicole?
Nic? Are you there?
Nic: I’m here.
Mom: I love you, Nic. We love you.
Are you there?
Nic: Our home is gone.
Mom: We love you.
Nic: How are we going to tell Cymone?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Parsley Mint Pesto: Recipe

Can you really have too many herbs? Too much parsley? Too much mint? This week I harvested them by the multitude of handfuls to make pesto. I find that, when mixed together, neither tastes overwhelming. Mix in 2 cups of pistachios, garlic, lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper, and the result is delectable. Try this pesto on in pasta, as a spread for toast or crackers, or toss it into a vinaigrette.

Here's the quick recipe.

Parsley & Mint Pesto

4 C. fresh parsley
4 C. fresh mint
2 cloves garlic
2 C.
1 C. olive oil
1 seeded lemon, rind included
Salt and pepper, to taste

Throw all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.
With a spatula, scoop blended mixture into an ice cube tray. Put in freezer and let sit overnight.
Remove pesto cubes from ice cube tray and transfer to ziplock freezer bag.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Nature Prints: Tutorial

I've been hiking a lot this season. Not only do I love the connection with nature, but I'm able to clear my head. I marvel at life's beautiful simplicity when I'm out wandering, and my thoughts are not cluttered with civilian stress (apparently I'm more of an introvert that I realized). My time spent alone is sacred.

During my last hike I took photographs of plants, as I always do, that inspire future jewelry designs. I had seen nature printing before, mostly by local artist Sara Ashford who creates exceptional garden-grown plant-printed fabric. I decided to try a very basic rendition myself to see if I could capture a tiny bit of the beauty found while exploring our nurturing mountains.

Nature Prints: Tutorial

Here's what you need:
Watercolor paper
Paper towel
Hammer (I have a plastic mallet that I use for silversmithing)
Fresh leaves

And here's how:

Pick a handful of fresh leaves. Herbs are fun because, not only do they have sufficient water in their leaves to transfer to paper, they smell delicious when hammered.

Sandwich a leaf/flower between the piece of paper and paper towel (paper towel on top). With your hammer, gently tap on the leaf until the juice bleeds through the towel.

Remove the paper towel. Pull up the leaf. If any plant sticks to the paper, wait until it has dried to scrape it away. Otherwise it will smudge.

An optional step to this project is to cut out the plant prints and turn them into gift tags.

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