Sunday, November 30, 2014

1-100: My To-Do List In Chronological Order

As I lay in our cozy new bed listening to Derek's soft snoring (not loving the snoring but happy he was finally sleeping), I realized that I needed to document the last few months. Three months at full speed has fallen into a heavy, blurry heap at my feet, and I’m trying to wade through it all. If I don’t, the fog will slip into the past and our experience will grow hazy.

So, here it is.

1-100: My To-Do List In Chronological Order

  1. Cry. 
  2. Embrace one another. 
  3. Find a temporary housing situation, preferably one that’s furnished. 
  4. Buy enough food for a few days. You’ll probably find the grocery store overwhelming. 
  5. Buy a dog bed, bowl and dog food. 
  6. Grieve. Grieve. Grieve some more. 
  7. Pick yourself up. This part is challenging - you may need a scraper. 
  8. Contact insurance and submit a claim. 
  9. Accept the gifts that come to you. 
  10. Go to the store and buy ONLY the necessities: underwear and toiletries. 
  11. Contact insurance and submit a separate claim for the truck. 
  12. Get the truck towed. 
  13. Cancel services: all utilities, phone, internet, garbage and recycling pick up, Netflix… 
  14. Figure out what resources are available to assist you: Red Cross, volunteer crews, etc. 
  15. Breathe. 
  16. Cry. 
  17. Laugh. 
  18. Figure out what bills are due. 
  19. Order new checks. 
  20. Order birth certificates. 
  21. Order new passports. 
  22. Check in with one another. 
  23. Buy more clothes. 
  24. Sleep. 
  25. Go back to work. 
  26. Navigate paying off the bank. 
  27. Sift through the debris. 
  28. Consult environmental gurus to determine how best to restore your land. 
  29. Get a computer. And printer. And paper. 
  30. Replace your daughter’s gear first - her soccer uniform and Taekwondo Gee. 
  31. Pick one or two of your favorite hobbies and try to pursue them again. 
  32. Buy a bike (or running shoes)…or something. 
  33. Go for a bike ride. 
  34. Listen to music in your car. Loud. 
  35. Don’t buy anything for your home, but start a wish list. 
  36. Begin to figure out a more permanent housing situation. Should you build? Buy? Rent? Squat? 
  37. Breathe. 
  38. Cry. 
  39. Hug one another. 
  40. Eat. 
  41. Sleep. 
  42. Buy food for a few more days. 
  43. Make the bed. 
  44. Contact the auto repair shop - where is your truck? They won’t know. They’ll have to check their records. 
  45. You’ll need a second vehicle if you don’t have public transportation. So, go ahead and buy a gas guzzling Land Cruiser because you’ve always wanted one. Name it “YOLO”. 
  46. Remove the debris. 
  47. Grieve. 
  48. Get a referral from your doctor to go to therapy. 
  49. Find a therapist and schedule an appointment. 
  50. Take your daughter to therapy. You’ll probably be told she’s ok, but it’s a good idea to check. 
  51. Have your property reassessed by the county. 
  52. Contact a real-estate agent. 
  53. Cry. 
  54. Look at tiny homes. 
  55. Cry. 
  56. Look at homes off the grid. 
  57. Go to therapy. 
  58. Look at more tiny homes. 
  59. Make an offer. 
  60. Arrange for an inspection. 
  61. Arrange for an electrical inspection. 
  62. Call the auto mechanic again to check on the truck. It’s probably ready. Coordinate logistics to go pick it up. While you’re there, go see a movie. 
  63. When the purchase of the little home goes through, get insurance. 
  64. Fill the propane tank. 
  65. Have a builder friend remove the TV cabinet and install a wood stove. 
  66. Install snow breaks on the roof. Hurry because winter is approaching. 
  67. Refinish the concrete floors. To do so, you’ll need a mop and bucket. 
  68. Change your address everywhere. 
  69. Buy some basic tools, i.e. a shovel, hammer and screwdriver. You’ll need some nails and screws, too. 
  70. Paint your walls fun colors. 
  71. Explore the trails around your new home. 
  72. Start buying EVERYTHING: beds, pillows, mattresses, linens, a table, chairs, a couch, kitchen wares, shelves, a rug… 
  73. Stay within your budget. 
  74. Track packages. 
  75. Send back anything you accidentally ordered two of because there was a hiccup transferring things from your wish list to the cart. Or you could stash them away to give as Christmas gifts. 
  76. Return items that arrived broken. 
  77. Clean your new home from floor to ceiling. You’ll need to get sponges. 
  78. Take time moving in and making your home YOUR home. 
  79. Aak - recycling! 
  80. Take time moving out of your temporary home. 
  81. Clean your temporary home from floor to ceiling. 
  82. Breathe. 
  83. Sleep. 
  84. Have wood delivered. 
  85. Borrow a wood splitter. 
  86. Split wood and stack it. 
  87. Call to begin services: internet, garbage and recycle pick up. Connect with your plow guy to make sure you’re on his radar. 
  88. Have your friend the Arborist come stay with you for the weekend to take down dead trees. Leave some standing for bird habitat. 
  89. Sit on your property and stare. Say goodbye. Let go. Breathe. 
  90. Buy winter clothes. 
  91. Acquire new skis, poles, boots. Three sets. 
  92. That tree that fell down in your driveway - go cut it up. But first you’ll need to go buy or borrow a chainsaw. 
  93. Ants? Your new home has an ant infestation? Ok, go deal with that. 
  94. Vacuum up the dead ants. You’ll need to get a vacuum. 
  95. Go for a walk. 
  96. Breathe. 
  97. Look up from what you're doing.
  98. Hug one another.
  99. Be thankful for what you have.
  100. Laugh.
I've wondered why I'm tired. Sleep doesn't solve the issue of fatigue. After writing this list, I get it.


Now hopefully I'll be able to snore alongside Derek.

Monday, November 24, 2014

River Rock Mosaic: Tutorial

We just recently closed on a little home and are taking some time to make it our own before we move in. For me, that includes art installations.

This past week my mom helped me with my rock mosaic - she's now excited to put some of these in her own home.

You can too! Here's how.

River Rock Mosaic Tutorial

Materials Needed:
Rocks - lots and lots of rocks.
Morter (I prefer pre-mixed). It's thin-set, or tile adhesive.
Grout (any color is fine, and I personally like sanded grout)
Rubber gloves
Spatula (plastic or metal is fine)
Grout sealer & small paint brush
A radio with loud music


1. Collect lots and lots and lots and lots of rocks. These mosaics take more rocks than you might think.

2. On the wall, sketch out the shape of the mosaic, or you can use painter's tape to create straight edges.

3. Using your spatula and pre-mixed tile adhesive, place a small lump of adhesive on the back side of each rock. One by one, stick the rocks to the wall inside your sketch. This part takes time. It's like creating a puzzle, trying to make the rocks look like they fit together.

4. Keep going.

And going.

You can see I changed my mind on which direction to take the mosaic.

And going.

5. Once you've filled in all the spaces, allow the adhesive to dry overnight.

6. Mix the grout according to the instructions on the box. Wear rubber gloves because otherwise your fingers will be rubbed raw. Massage the grout into the mosaic, in between the rocks. Let dry for about an hour. The surface of the grout will crust.

7. With your rag and a bucket of warm water, begin wiping down the grout. Your rag should not be soaking - wring it out before setting it against the mosaic. You'll make a dozen or more trips from the sink to the mosaic, refreshing your water, wiping, refreshing, wiping. Continue to do this until your water is no longer very cloudy. Also note, you'll want to pour the dirty water outside, NOT down your sink.

8. When you're done, wait about a week before painting on the grout sealer. Also, if your mosaic will be exposed to water (i.e. a back splash), you should line the edges with caulk.

I think that's it. Thank you for your help with this one, Mom!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Sun Jumps Over the Moon

Here is yet another collaboration between my daughter Cymone (age 12) and me. She wrote the story and I created the piece. Both are on display at Confluence Gallery in Twisp.

The Sun Jumps Over the Moon

by Cymone Van Marter

Once upon a time, the sun and the moon stayed in the sky together, for they were lovers. They both shone down upon the world, the sun radiating warmth and the moon creating a peaceful glow. The stars were their many children.

Yet their love was challenged. Rain was jealous of their love, so he closed in Sun and Moon with a thick layer of clouds. As he gazed at the sun and the moon together, the gears in his mind started to tick. He had an idea.

Rain decided that he would separate Sun and Moon - he would make it so that the they rose and set in the sky at different times.

Rain approached Mother Nature and shared his sinister plan. He complained that it was always too bright out with both Sun and Moon in the sky together. He could never sleep. He told her that others agreed with him, and asked that Mother Earth separate them.

Mother Earth believed Rain. So, with a simple breath, forced Sun to rise higher than Moon. Sun rose higher and higher, and was soon straight above the world.

Then with a small rumble, Mother Earth forced Moon to set and disappear behind the rolling hills.

Sun and Moon grieved, and when Sun had one last look at the world before going down to sleep, she saw her beloved white Moon rising. After one month had passed, Sun peered down and saw Moon as a faint glimmer. Her heart soared.

So when you look into the sky, once each month it will appear as if Sun is jumping over the Moon. When you do, be sure to smile, because this is the one day that the lovers are together.

The End

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Elk With a Big Heart

I am sharing one more collaboration with my daughter Cymone, age 12. Once again, she wrote the story and I created the piece. I love working with her - I am in awe of her creativity.

The Elk With a Big Heart

Elk was very, very kind. Anytime an animal was dying or miserable, Elk gave it a piece of his own beating heart.

Slowly, as Elk continued to give pieces of his heart away, it grew smaller and smaller. Eventually it seemed that Elk had no heart at all, and he became mean and aggressive, using his antlers to injure the innocent instead of pluck berries for others in the highest branches.

Mighty Earth saw Elk in his saddened state and pitied him. So Mighty Earth sent Elk on a mission to prove himself to the animal kingdom that he still had some heart left within him.

So Elk set off across the mountains and valleys. He only stopped a few times. As his hardened hooves clopped by villages, hunters shot him with arrows. With each strike Elk's heart grew in strength.

After months of meandering, Elk found a peaceful stream that lead to a pond. He settled down for rest, gazing at himself in the pool. He was surprised to see that his antlers had grown wild and strong. His eyes were deep brown, soft and kind. His coat was creamy and soft, and his legs were muscular from the hard trekking he’d done. Elk was beautiful.

Elk suddenly heard a POUND! POUND! POUND! Startled, he jumped up and reared, but quickly understood what it was.

Elk's heart was beating once more.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Why Wolf Howls At The Moon

This is another beautiful story written by my daughter Cymone. The necklace will be on display at Confluence Gallery, opening this Saturday.

Why Wolf Howls At The Moon

Wolf never howled. He didn't have reason to. He was happy.

Wolf had a mate and cub. The rest of his pack barked that he shouldn’t be so quiet, and that he should learn howl and defend himself. Wolf waved them off saying that he didn't need to make noise or stir up commotion. He was peaceful.

One day, as Wolf and his family were bathing in front of his lair in the sun, a hungry predator snuck up behind them. Only the loud growl of the stomach gave him away.

Wolf’s mate woke up first. She yipped for Wolf, but quickly disappeared into the predator's wide jaws. Wolf’s cub woke up next. Sensing a disturbance he leapt to his feet and barked sharply. Wolf woke up and watched in horror as his cub disappeared into the beast’s salivating jaws.

Wolf howled and struck at the beast with his mighty paws. The beast tumbled backward down the hill. He hit the rushing, roaring stream at the bottom and was swept away by the current.

That night, Wolf howled to the moon. His pack responded by howling over the meadows, echoing in valleys, over the ocean, up to the stars and moon.

Since then, wolves howl in unison to the moon in respect of Wolf and his family.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Bird and His Feathers

This story was written by my daughter, Cymone Lenio. She is twelve. I feel honored to have collaborated with her on this project.

The Bird and His Feathers

Once, not too long ago, there was a black bird. His feathers were sheer black. He was a gentle fellow, never giving mind to the others who bragged about their colorful feathers that were more beautiful - more flamboyant - than his. The other birds teased and played tricks on him. Black Bird never complained, only played along. One day, the other birds grew bored with simple teasing. They wanted to do something more.

‘Sparrow should steal his most precious belonging,' exclaimed Crow.

‘No, Crow should threaten his wife,’ Raven cawed.

‘No,’ replied Starling. ‘Send Cardinal. He is vibrant and fast. He is smart and can be deadly with his beak. Yes, I think we should send Cardinal.’ There was a murmur of agreement, so Cardinal took off toward Black Bird's nest.

‘Hello, Blacky. How are you doing today?’

‘I am just fine, Cardinal. I am waiting for our eggs to hatch.’

‘Lovely,’ Cardinal sang, his plan already forming in his sharp mind.

Black Bird was suspicious. He was not a trickster, but he was smart enough to know that the other birds were up to something. So he sent for Eagle who was always willing to help.

‘You know,’ started Black Bird. ‘There's someone here who wants to see you.’

‘Me?’ asked Cardinal, confused. This was not part of his plan.

‘Yes. Come.’ Black Bird led Cardinal to the tip of a branch where a sudden gust of wind and a dark shadow engulfed them.

‘What is this trickery?' asked Cardinal.

The great Bald Eagle, the king of the forest birds, swooped down and screeched, 'Be gone! No more foolishness!’

Without needing any more convincing, Cardinal dashed off, leaving two brilliant red feathers behind.

‘Here,' said Eagle. He picked up the two red feathers and placed them on the underside of Black Bird's wings. They glowed beneath the sun.

‘From now on, you shall be known as the Red Winged Black Bird.’ And so he was. The other birds sang praise, stunned by his beauty. He was never teased again.

The End.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Natural Circles

I was one of those kids who'd stick my hand into a deep, dark hole. Although it scared me, something about the circle pulled me toward it. Once my hand was inside, I'd hold my breath and wait for the creature nestled within the darkness to nip my fingers.

Today, as always, when I walked the along the river, my eyes were drawn to natural circles. Each one contained a hiding treasure waiting to be discovered, caressed, and left alone.

Nature's mandalas - reflections of the sun and moon - represent unity, wholeness, infinity. Protection. Completion. Timelessness. Eternity.

Anicca: birth, growth, decline, and death.

The circle implies the idea of movement, and it symbolizes potential. It signifies family, friends, and community.

The Self.

I have entered a new place - one where I wait, breath, listen, and wait some more. Something will dawn on me. Somewhere, something will glisten, catch my eye, and grow.

I am open to the possibilities.

Family, friends and community surround me, envelope me. I feel protected, so nothing will nip my fingers when I stick my hand into the deep, dark hole.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

New Work with Natural Rocks

Everything in my world is new. New drill press. New studio. New car. New clothes. New shoes. New home. The thing that is grounding me most is spending time in my greenhouse studio working with rocks. I love rocks, and I love creating one-of-a-kind pieces of art.

Here is some of my recent work, some of which can be found in my shop.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

New Beginnings

I find that there is a serene beauty in death, an emerging strength. Energy turns inward, and Mother Earth relinquishes room for new life to grow and thrive.

If I close my eyes and envision a slowing of life, I see yellow, rust, brown, crumpling, drying, cracking, flaking, arms outstretched in an effort to absorb the last of sun's rays. I smell mold, must, decomposing soil, and then my nostrils fill with dust. When I envision a sudden end, I see dark, vacant spaces. I am suddenly buried but I'm not scared, and it isn't quiet. There's a constant scratching sound, like insects moving specks of sand, worms wriggling through dirt, birds pecking for seed. I fall into a deep slumber, waiting for roots to envelope me as they grow into new life.

Much of my recent work has been inspired by death and rebirth, new beginnings, the warmth of sun beckoning seeds to sprout through ashes. Rather than focus on the dismal, I try to unveil nature's way of leaving room for new growth.

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