Wyoming, I am in you!
I think one of my favorite emotions is, "Wow, I forgot I did that a long time ago, look at it paying off right now! What a surprise!" Felt that today. Because a few months ago, I entered the above piece, 'Mountainous', into the Wyoming Wilderness Association's 30th Anniversary traveling art show. At the time, I thought, hey, I've done a piece inspired by Wyoming. Why not ship it in? So I did and promptly forgot about it. 
Few days ago, I get a congratulatory email. I got in! 
It's always going to fill me with glee when I see my art on another side in the manner of, "Hey look at this cool thing!" Giddy. Just... giddy. 
Check it out! And if for some reason you're around Sheridan, Moose, or Laramie... go see it! Say hi for me! Tell it, "Mommy misses you, but you're on to greener pastures. Do mommy proud." 
You might want to whisper it when no one else is looking, though. Just as a precaution. 
Usually, Halloween for adults means one of a few things. You either bum around a disappointing party in a half-assed costume, answer the door for trick-or-treaters while watching TV, or seek refuge from the Halloweenies at your friend's house in the middle of nowhere. 
But, as I'm quickly finding out, that's just not the case for me or my friends. Boring is out of the question. 

So here's what went down. 

I got off work after my new manager bought me a frappuchino for no reason. Nice. Then my fiance, Stark, and I shopped for ingredients for a recipe for leeks*. While picking out mushrooms, our friend Jessie ambushed us. I turned around and found that she had Day of the Dead skull makeup on. Nice. So we agreed to go back to our place so Jessie could drop off the eggnog and rum in the fridge. Nice. Then we were going to her place so she could pick out things to make a costume to match mine. My costume can be summed up as... well, just take a look.

I call it, "Nightmare-Spawn Skully Demon".
She happened to have a boar skull that would work nicely, and a big awesome cloak to wear, too. It was fate. 
After that we headed to the dollar store, where glowsticks and Christmas candy were obtained. Handing Christmas candy out at Halloween? Nice
Once we got home, the guys were there watching Adventure Time and drinking cider. Jessie and I immediately set to cooking, but not before a healthy dose of 'nog. It's never too early for 'noggin' it up. She said we should cook more often, and I agreed. Who else would get liquored up to cook a frittatta on Halloween night? I pick my friends well, ladies and gentlemen. 
We shoved the frittatta in the oven and set a timer for 30 minutes-- just enough time to go to the store and get more alcohol. Nice. Wednesday night at the Maranda-Stark Household, everybody. 
We got home, quite literally, in the nick of time. I ran into the house and pulled the glorious frittatta out of the oven. Spoilers: it was delicious
More cartoons were had and then Jessie and I decided it was costume time. Long story short, we scared a little kid dressed as a football player, but our shenanigans were cut short when Jessie tripped because her skull was obscuring her vision. (I have a feeling normal people don't have that problem, usually.)
Back at home base, we ate some more and gave candy to a group of kids. Then Jessie decided it was far too tame a night and proposed we go trick-or-treating instead. Us, a group of four, ages 21-26, no proper costumes, well-past tipsy.  
I was hesitant at first, but then when someone suggested I take Zaphod the ferret, I was all for that. I got his homemade spider costume and put together a very hasty costume for myself. Derrick went as "drunk guy with a deer skull on his head", Stark was a Mysterious Hood, and Jessie went as a homeless werewolf. 

One year, when I went trick-or-treating at 16 years old, I had someone outright refuse to give me candy on the basis that we were too old. That was my old neighborhood. My new one... completely different. 
We made friends with trick-or-treaters and folks giving candy, most of which were very surprised and mostly delighted to see a ferret come to their door. At one point, a van pulled up to us, and a woman asked if we had seen her son walking around. He was apparently dressed up as Steve from Minecraft. Nice. Then she saw Zaphod and exclaimed, "Oh, we have sugar gliders at home! Boys, look!" And her two little sons were very excited to see Zaphod, who accepted their petting. And what's even better, the two sons actually gave us candy out of their own candy stashes
As we continued, we came across a house with cool decorations, which included a fish tank half-full of water with a plastic snake and rat floating in it, with a sign that read, "Beware of the killer snake". I got one of those feelings that told me I already liked these people. The door opened to reveal a big fluffy Bernese mountain dog, very interested in my ferret and Jessie's bone accessory. We got to talking to the couple that lived there about skulls and animals and the couple let us in their well-decorated home. We learned that their son and daughter are both in the arts, they had exotic types of parakeets, and they collected fossils. I thought, "Where have these neighbors been all my life?!"
(Tessy, the dog, was very good at shaking hands. "Shake my paw. Oh my god just shake it. You're holding an animal and I don't know what to do with myself SHAKE MY PAW.")

We left the cool neighbors on the note of, "You guys should come by sometime!" Warm-fuzzies were had by all. 
We headed home, leaving our trick-or-treating escapade on a good note. Later, more cartoons were watched, candy and Taco Bell was feasted upon, and we all had the surreal moment of, "We haven't been trick-or-treating in 10+ years. No one refused us candy and everything went way better than expected." 

* I'm the only person I know who impulse-buys leeks. "But look at how big they are! And only for a dollar?! I can't afford not to buy these!" 
There are some times in our life that really stand out against the mundanities that make up the bulk of them. A certain trip, an event, that one party, et cetera ad nauseum. At the ripe age of 21, the highlight of my life had always been my trip to Europe when I was 17. Sitting on a stone wall in Florence as the run rose, a gentle mist tossing down on me, lavender trees below me on the edge of a slow road, the view of the city before me. That filling feeling of wholeness, of knowing that where you're at is exactly where you want to be. That kind of moment. That was the defining moment of my life. 
Until the day before yesterday happened. 

But let's start at the beginning. 
Friday: The Renaissance Faire was on its way, and my group of buddies and I were thrumming with excitement. It was a faire of firsts for us, me in particular: we were camping for the first time and I was finally old enough to drink legally. But I never would have guessed exactly what other kinds of "firsts" would happen. Call it blissfully ignorant. 
Making camp was fun-- we met up with my best friend's love interest and his group of buddies to share their campsite. And since I was technically camping, I had to make bacon. One of my personal mantras is "You can't have camping without bacon, and you can't have bacon without camping." Farm-fresh, cruelty-free, wholesome bacon. Glorious. We ended up having a surplus of it, though, thanks to our camp being 50% vegetarians. We had to wander to neighboring camps to find people willing to adopt our bacon. We made a lot of friends that morning. I'm not usually the social butterfly, but when it comes to things like ComiCon and Renaissance faires, I know that everyone there is a potential friend. I'm with my people. My clan. So hell yes I'm going to meander the camps with a steaming plate of bacon, handing strips out like party favors. 

As far as booths, events, and shows went, the faire was pretty standard. But what really made it special this year was the people, by and far. We met some amazing folks that were, as I said, our people. A gentleman named Johnathon who was a normal human by night and a satyr complete with huge furry legs and horns by day. A massive dude named Wo-Tan (Eric) the "Fairy Smasher", who was running around and roaring at children and bonking people on the head with his hammer. Also, he bore a shield made out of a taxidermy black bear head. We have fond memories of him rushing into the kids area as they were about to partake in a foam-weapon-battle and roaring at them until they swarmed him. He disappeared under a writhing mass of flailing foam swords and spears. We also met a woman who was doing tarot card readings, at least 4 Tylers, a man who brewed his own mead (and shared), and a few wonderful bar maids. 

I'll have you know, reader, that this story is exhausting for me to tell. Emotionally. Not in a bad way, but in the same way a rigorous workout is. 
I feel very at home at a Renaissance faire. There's something about the way the people move and act that comforts me. They all smile and nod and waltz around, animal tails bouncing on their hips, leather vests and jerkins donned... They feel at home, too, and I think unconsciously we all become a strange sort of family. All of the performers are doing what they love to do, and show it. Artists enjoy chatting it up with you. When a vendor rings a bell and shouts, "Huzzah to the beautiful and generous tipper!" everyone else in line shouts "huzzah" in chorus. We're all on the same frequency. The same, horribly nerdy, wonderfully hospitable, and outgoing frequency. 

Saturday night, we drank. We drank and drank and drank. I was handed a solo cup full of lukewarm, un-aged, homemade mead and accepted it wholeheartedly. We mobbed and wandered and got free barbecue from the neighboring camp until we finally agreed to go to an actual bar. At the beer garden, the crowd was bustling and moving to the beat of the band playing pirate shanties on stage. My boyfriend and I moved from group to group, chatting, until we found ourselves alone. My boyfriend, Stark, was jittery. I knew he didn't like crowds, but this was the first time he had ever acted up during the whole weekend. Despite my incessant attempts at calming his nerves, he was still visibly anxious. We parted ways for whatever reason (remember: mead) and I was intermittently distracted by a man with a fabulous mustache. Suddenly, my best bud Jessie beside me says, "I have to go to the bathroom, BE MY BUDDY," and when your female friend needs a bathroom buddy that badly, you goddamn say yes. After a suspiciously quick stop at the bathrooms she said, "Let's take a walk!" And drunk-me thought that was a splendid idea. So on a walk we went. 
She had me by the crook of the elbow and I slurred, "Wanna hold hands?" So we held hands and she led me onward. Despite all my "where are we going"s and "hey Jessie"s she still dragged my stumbling self forward to what looked like a camp. It was under a small tent (not unlike the one pictured above). Pillows, rugs, blankets, all manner of gypsy accessory laced the covered area and the scene was punctuated beautifully with tea candles. Jessie led us closer and I whispered, "Jessie, maybe we shouldn't, they're having like... a prayer circle... thing... let's not disturb them..." because even drunk-me knows she's a little obnoxiously enthusiastic when she's full of mead. But Jessie said melodically, "Hello!" into the darkness.
The folks standing around the edge greeted us, but one woman's voice stood out among the others: "Hello. Why don't you sit in the throne?" Her voice was calm, but terribly assertive. 
I looked around and pointed at my chest. "Me?"
So I sat. The velvet chair was slightly damp and very cushy. I thought the scene was an elaborate act for some play or event-- there were a lot of crowd-interaction things at the faire. Maybe I was a prop for a midnight play. Jessie smiled at me as I awaited the procession. 
Then Stark, full-costume and cloaked, glided out of the shadows and stood in front of me. It was like a scene from a movie how his cloak billowed. He was smiling. 
At that point I was confused as all hell. Stark wasn't the type to get involved in an improv play. What was he up to? 
He looked me in the eyes and took my hands. Admittedly, I was a little too far gone to remember exactly what he said, but it was something along the lines of this: "For the last two years, I've been with the most amazing girl, and I can't see myself with anyone else in the world. So Maranda," and then he got on one knee and my heart was about to explode, "will you marry me?" 
The tiny round ring box came open perfectly and the gold garnet ring glittered in the candlelight. Like I said, it was like a scene in a movie. Final, perfect, well-rehearsed. I gasped like a fish out of water. 

And of course I said yes. 
It really was a weekend of firsts for me, and I believe it will go down in my life as my new defining moment. 
Because seriously, how many of you can say you were proposed to in a fairy camp at a Renaissance fair? Exactly. 

After Saturday night, I couldn't go anywhere without Stark proudly announcing his new status as fiance to everyone he met. I don't think I've been congratulated more in my life. Or hugged by friendly strangers dressed in costumes. Both are lovely experiences. 
As we packed up on Sunday evening, a rolling fog swept into the valley and a pink sunset lit the sky. Burly men wrestled in the grass next to our camp and a blow horn sounded in the distance. A perfect punctuation, a cherry on the top, to the best weekend of my life. 
I bet you thought I was making that last part up.
In my ever-epic quest to popularize the Badly-Crafted Maned Wolf meme, which up until 1am last night was pretty fruitless, I did something daring. And by daring I mean marketing! Accidental marketing! It's the best kind! 

I've been a follower of the awesome site Regretsy for a while. I am always amused by the horrendous things people pass off as crafts. Like an old pie tin "repurposed" only in the sense that it was being sold for $40. And tampon-shaped broaches and meditation aids that look like a robot vomited in a lava lamp. But I digress. I also have no room to talk because SERIOUSLY, MARANDA, GOOGLY EYES ARE NOT THE ICE CREAM SPRINKLES OF THE CRAFTING WORLD. Will I ever learn? I think I just challenged myself to glue googly eyes all over every craft project from here on out. Oops. 
Woo, I'm just digressing all over the place today! 

So in my meager attempt at popularizing my meme, I emailed the High Priestess of Regretsy with this message: 

Hi there!

I recently created this abomination out of felt: http://marandart.com/1/post/2012/04/dont-quit-your-day-job.html And I thought of Regretsy. So I went ahead and made the next reasonable choice and made a meme out of it: http://memegenerator.net/Badly-Crafted-Maned-Wolf 
Just thought it was relevant to your interests, it poking fun at badly-crafted things and all.

Love the blog, keep up the awesome,
--Maranda of Marandart.com

Sharpedo talks IN ALL CAPS
I really didn't expect a reply, honestly. My mind, when marketing or communicating with famous people, defaults to "THIS IS HOPELESS WHY DID YOU DO THAT YOU'RE LAME FOREVER FOR TRYING" but dammit, I did it anyway. Suck it. 
To my surprise, I got a reply from her a few minutes later while I was at a bar with my buddies having a heated discussion on whether or not Sharpedo was a good Pokemon. (Hint: He totally is.) 

I need to own that. Please sell it to me. 

And I'm sitting in the bar booth making all sorts of oogly noises and my boyfriend probably thought I was having another "I just saw a cute animal" fit. Those happen a lot. Anyway, I replied post-haste: 

That can be arranged! How does $30 sound? The adoption fee covers food, vaccinations for rabies and UPS, and neutering. Always spay and neuter your felted pets. 


She sent the payment with what I can only describe as eagerness. So when I got home I manically packed and addressed the package and replied: 

Woo, thanks! He is being shipped out tomorrow! He's very excited. Or perturbed, its kind of hard to tell the difference on his little begoogled face.
I will not deny that I was trying really hard to make a good impression by throwing in as much stupid humor as I could. She's kind of like a celebrity or something. It was like when I got my photo taken with Leonard Nemoy and I awkwardly pulled out a tribble and said "I brought a tribble," in my nerdiest and most nervous voice and he just said "Oh, you did!" Like "Oh god, my fans are terrifying!" But hey look at all this digressing going on again. Hmm. 

I wanted to make this package special. Because
people who run blogs always post about special things I aim to provide upstanding customer service. So I pulled out some crazy little watercolor painting that I never finished and doodled a maned wolf on the front as derpily as I could. So endearing. On the flip side, I wrote a personalized note. 

I really hope "as amazing as you'd hoped" is proper grammar because I JUST DON'T KNOW ANYMORE
Maybe she'll think it's funny, maybe not. Maybe she'll post about Mr. Badly-Crafted on Regretsy, maybe not. Either way, he's going to a better home, a home in which bad crafts are both ridiculed and admired. That's about as much as I can hope for for my art. Living the dream here, people. 
BYE LITTLE BUDDY *sniff* ... Well on second thought, good riddance, you creepy little thing. May you achieve Internet fame. Or not.
I won't bore you with the story of how my boyfriend and I* drove 14 hours down to Northern California and how I was still awfully sick after my 21st birthday's two crazy parties. And by crazy parties I mean "drinking everything put in front of me and getting a Toy Story sippy cup and going to see the new Studio Ghibli film". Still, it was enough to make me sick with something that should have been a 24-hour-bug but was drawn out into a 96-hour-fuck-you due to constant activity and crippling car rides. 
You know how I said I would't bore you with this story? Me, too. 

To sum things up, here's some photos. 
Who's a pretty mountain? You are! Yoouuu aaaare! ♥
My boyfriend's mom owns a pub in CA and I have to say, it's a very nice pub. I was completely baffled to find a nice lounge chair in the woman's bathroom. Opposite the chair was a huge dresser. My boyfriend's response to the chair was, "well yeah, it's a bar, hon. The chair is for your friend to hold your hair while you barf."
The Mexican food was great, too. Very sculptable. The waitress really enjoyed my leftover angler fish.
That ex-burrito fish was the closest thing to art as I got on the trip. 
Okay well that's a lie, I also painted this. 
I shall call you... Mantis Puppy.
I should also mention that I painted this to break in my brand new tablet! It's a Wacom Bamboo and generally fabulous. I've named him after my first painting, Mantis Puppy. My old tablet's name was Turtle Monster, so I'm just keeping with tradition, here. I mean of weird names for electronics, not naming them after the first painting I did with them. I don't think I've ever painted a turtle monster. 
My amazing friend Jennise bought it for me, because she's fabulous and also now lives in Michigan. Michigan better know how lucky it is. Else I'm gonna walk over and backhand that ungrateful oven-mitt-shaped state, mmm. No one sasses me. Or Mantis Puppy. (A back-hand from a mantis would be awful, come to think of it.)

What was I talking about again? Oh right, California. 
My boyfriend's mom's car almost got totaled by a tumble weed. 
A mother fucking tumble weed, you guys. I'm freaking out. 

I guess that just about wraps it up. Mantis Puppy is almost finished (needs more shading and maybe a T-bone steak) so you have that to look forward to, I guess. 

* My boyfriend and I = 90% my boyfriend




My boyfriend and I recently came to the realization that Zaphod is, to be frank, fat and lazy. To make things worse, he's putting on his winter weight and now has Winnie-the-Pooh-like troubles. Getting stuck in small spaces, that whole thing. 
So, the logical explanation was to get him a buddy. Maybe burn off some of that chunkiness. 
Of course there was, at the time we decided this, many wonderful little ferret-babies at my place of work, but I was adamant on adopting. 
Time past and we could not schedule an adoption day with the shelter I volunteer at. Sicknesses, busy work schedules, and little things kept popping up and delaying us. 

Then I received a call from a friend and fellow ferret owner. "Are you still looking for a friend for Zaphod?" 
Uh oh. 
She and her mother, the two family members interested in ferrets, were giving theirs up due to lack of time to commit to their little fuzz-butt. It happens. 
So the plan: bus to their house with a ferret in tow so the two could play. Or, bite each other's brains out, depending on if they got along. Ferrets are weird. 
After a very awkward bus ride (everyone stares at you when you've got a pet carrier), Zaphod and I met up with my friend. There was also a massive hill to climb. Oh, and torrential downpours. Mmm. Love it. 
At first, the two ferrets played well, and after a brief dominance-establishment (Zaphod being the instigator, as he had a good weight advantage), we decided they'd get along just fine. 
So I walked back to the bus stop in the rain, soaked, with two ferrets. While we waited for the bus and train, we talked to a lot of ex-ferret owners, people who had no idea what a ferret even was, and a security guard who used to have a pet skunk. Awesome! Zaphod was the life of the public-transit-party. 

And thus, +1 to the animal family. 
We've decided to name her Calypso. She is tiny. Like, skinny squirrel sized. She is also dark, and has the cutest little white markings oh my god. Little dot on her head, white "bib", toes, face. Uuuhhhhghcute. 
Zaphod is experiencing the "new sibling" syndrome. He's a little weirded out having to share things with another critter. He's become more anal about hiding things. He thinks he's being clever, hiding that jingly ball under the carpet... but then Calypso comes and takes it, plays with it, and has a grand ol' time with his toy. (She puts it back in his hiding place afterwards, though. He'll never know!

Despite that, he puts up with her. I think they'll make friends soon enough. 
[ In other news, still at school. Still slaving away on projects and essays. I'm also participating in NaNoWriMo, so I've been writing like a fiend. Also probably developing carpal tunnel. Mmm. Neat. 
So after school ends I'll be back in the swing of things. And by that I mean probably wasting a lot of time playing videogames I MEAN DOING PRODUCTIVE THINGS. Yep. ]
Zelda and I.
Our dear little chicken, Zelda, died today. She was found in the coop with an opossum. (He must have snuck in or hidden somehow.) The other two chickens avoided conflict, but poor Zelda did not. We have had her for a few years now, and raised her from when she was a chick. There is a special kind of pain for losing an animal that you’ve watched grow up. 

As of now the opossum is still in the coop. My mother and I have decided to not kill it— it was just doing what opossums do, after all. It is not evil. We will open the coop this evening to let him go. From now on, we will take more precaution when putting the girls (chickens) to bed. 

We loved Zelda very much. She was not just a barnyard animal, but a cherished pet. She would sit on my lap as I surfed the web, watched TV, or ate breakfast on the deck. She always amused us with her goofy antics
-- she had the best personality and was very tame. We will miss her very, very much. Rest peacefully, little one. 
No predators in chicken heaven.
Well, I just got back from four days rafting on the Lower Salmon river in Idaho*. It's been a family tradition to do a rafting trip almost every year since I was just a youngin'. For all who're wondering, a rafting trip entails a few things: 
1.) Driving 7 hours to the middle of nowhere
2.) Blowing up a 14' raft, assembling its metal frame, placing all the storage boxes and bags, and strapping them down tight
3.) Floating down the river until you find a decent campsite (no water pump, no outhouse, basically a sandy beach big enough for a kitchen and tents)
4.) Cocktails
5.) More cocktails
6.) The next morning, packing everything back into the boat and floating down to find another camp site. 
Rinse, lather, repeat. 
It's nomadic, rough, and involves a lot of heavy lifting. But it's worth it, somehow. After the first night you give up trying to sweep sand from your sleeping bag and any bugs that get into your coffee are just added protein. 
Despite all of this, I did manage to get some good sketches done! 
On our second camp we found lots of sun-bleached cow bones! Which later led to the anonymous question, "Why is there a giant mandible on the table?" Why indeed. 
Perched on a half-fallen tree, I drew a quick and dirty still life of a vertebrae on a rock. The rock is still my favorite part-- all those pockmarks and edges were really therapeutic to draw. The bone, on the other hand, was difficult and too abstract for my stiff and sun-burnt hands to render. But man, that rock. Mmm, mmm. Good stuff. 

I took very careful notes on grasshoppers. Just for you.
The caption above reads, "The hoppers here are amazing. Any step you take in the bushes, near the rocks, by the trees, it's a wave of grasshoppers leaping from you. Feels like how Moses must have felt when parting the Red Sea... but with more bugs, I guess. Just as epic, though. " 
Goofy bugs.
On the trip, it is customary to bring your dog(s). The new dog of the trip, Rueger**, was dumb and loving, as most labs tend to be. But at least he sat nice and still for his portrait. Good boy. 
This was when we had to latch all of our rafts together and use the motor to propel ourselves down the river after the current slowed down. This is usually my favorite part of the trip. We can all relax, trade snacks, read our books, lounge on the boats, and in my case, draw animals. 

More to come on this post after I help my mother unload the truck. Woo. 

* Population: farmers and big horn sheep. Mostly sheep. 
** Yeah I don't know what kind of name that is, either. 
SO many things have happened lately. But one event is much cooler than the rest. 
1.) My boyfriend, Stark, is moving back into his house, since it is a heck of a lot cleaner now. Woohoo! 
2.) We got a free Roomba, which I have named Reginald. He is a very nice Roomba. I enjoy putting Pokemon figurines on his back while he cleans. 
3.) I finally have a ferret! That's right! No kiddin'! 
Now if you know me at all, you know that I am animal-crazy. I work at a pet store, my pets gallery on my Facebook has the most pictures, if we get a new critter in at work I have to learn more about it, I paint animals at the zoo and end up teaching children why flamingos are pink, etcetera. When my friends have an animal question, they go to me. If someone needs a pet sitter, I got your back. 
Needless to say, I love my pets. (Even the snails.) However, for the longest time, I have felt that something was missing in my extended animal family. I wanted a critter that I could take with me on little outings, something to cuddle with, something more playful than my aging dog (she's still game for cuddling, though). A ferret fit this bill perfectly. However, my dream of owning Mustela putorius furo was forever doomed to be thwarted by my parents and their adamant insistence that the ferret would definitely be killed by our dog, a terrier, who is very good at killing rats and mice. 
But finally, the time was right. I knew that Saturday the 9th of July in 2011 would be the day I got a ferret. I knew this because at 4:30am, I couldn't sleep. I had woken due to overwhelmingly lovely dreams about ferrets. But when I was fully awake, the dreams became bittersweet. I could never have a ferret. Mother forbade it. I should just go ahead and quit trying. But still my mind carried on! By five I was still planning where I could fit a cage in my room. My tiny, animal-filled room. 
At 6 am, I decided to just commit to waking up fully. My friends and I were going to the annual local street fair today, so I might as well get ready early. I tried to distract myself from the tantalizing little weasels, but to no avail. 

At the fair, everything reminded me of ferrets. (Curses!) Little bowls? Those would be perfect for a food dish. A dog wearing a sweater? That reminds me of that photo of ferrets in sweaters!! AWW!
Best. Photo. Ever.
I made my ferret-brain-plague known to my friends, which included Stark. And since he had recently come upon a large sum of money, well, you can imagine what happened next. 
I guess I could have picked a better photo of him, but I love it when he mauls Pikachu.
We came home with this little guy. 
We bought him and all of his supplies at my work, so I could get the 20% discount (cha-ching). I originally looked at a little badger-striped one, but I remembered that he probably had Waardenburg's syndrome, a genetic defect that causes deafness. (I usually am completely attracted to owning defective or "broken" animals, but for my first ferret I decided to pick one that would be easier to train.) We also looked at a really dark sable boy with a black nose (!socute!) but he was an intense biter. We ended up going with one of the older ones from a previous shipment: a nice big ol' cinnamon. And man, I am glad we did. 
We decided to call him Zaphod (ZAY-fod) after Zaphod Beeblebrox from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. 
So far, after having Zaphod for close to a week, he's already come so far. His litterbox training is going well, he hardly bites (and when he does, it's a nip), and is learning that Stark and I are the "alpha ferrets". (We totally are.) 
At first, the shock of it all didn't sink in. I was surprisingly calm, sitting there in the passenger side of Stark's truck, playing with the animal I had been longing to own for a whole year. And now, today, this moment, it still hasn't sunk in. I think ferrets were the pet I was meant to own. It's almost as if he's always been here. It seems... normal. But simultaneously the most exciting thing of my life. 
Let's play!
This is my totem. 
A totem, in this respect, is an assemblage of items and symbols that represent an identity. In this case the identity is me. 
So I made this totem. I decided to use a bunch of natural materials kind of exploding out of a box, symbolizing my adoration for all things Earthy. The empty box represents the future and the path my art will take me down (woo, mystery)! 
I went to an artist party community get-together on Saturday evening, and the theme of the meeting was to create a totem. The meetings are held in an old dance hall lake house. The dance hall is made of old, sturdy wood and has every kind of eclectic charm. Tiny wrap-around porches, views of the lake, whale vertebrae stacked in the corner, a hot tub that doubles as a natural rock fountain, tables painted with murals and not a single chair that matches another... That place is heaven. The air is concentrated inspiration. You walk in, breathe, and need to make art. NOW. 

They gave us all sorts of tools and materials to work with and I went to town immediately. It was like magic. I had an idea, jotted down a sketch of it, and busily began assembling it. 
Other artists would come by to say hello, introduce themselves, share their art, and admire mine. I met a man who specializes in hand-made wearable suits of armor and a woman who makes large scale collages out of discarded cut-up Starbucks cards. The people there are so cool. 


The hermit crab made of wire was basically a last-minute addition. And when my snake, Virgil, shed his skin, I wove that in as well. 

I plan on attending every one of these monthly artist parties. As many as I can. The people there are my people. My tribe. My culture. I feel at home there, which is rare, for me. Home is a very powerful word and a very powerful idea. Home is where you belong, and I belong at that wise old dance hall in the woods. :)