IMG_1797IMG_1778I’ve been driven to the light lately.  You can find me winding my way up the East bench in the evenings; to get closer to the sky, to catch some of that gold for myself, to see the West bench rise foot by foot to unabashedly meet my gaze.  I see the way the sun stumbles towards the distant sea, magnanimously, giving up the sky to the silence of the moon and stars.  I see the way the last ribbons of day stream down through the softness of the Portneuf Valley peaks — tributaries of a greater whole.  I see these things and I wonder why can’t we all move through life as directly and flawlessly as light.

Golden hour is romantic.  I am in danger of forgetting the nature of light which is as two sided as any human.  It is gentle now, here under the nearing of night, beneath the weak sky of winter, but I have felt it burn.  I have seen it crack stone in two.  Is there anything, here on Earth, that is pure, unerring strength?  Is there anything free of the blessing and curse of power and weakness?  Must we all be such a wild blend?

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In the evening light, there is the precious moment when the sagebrush and bunch grasses are set afire, gently at first, more raucous by the moment, until all things are stained by day, light bearing, gleaming, luminous with the sacraments of dust and crumbling starlight.

If this ancient light is this bright, how much brighter is new light?  How could anyone stand to look into the childish face of a star?

I open my vest, unbutton the top of my cardigan and denim shirt; I expose the pale place in the center of my chest that ripples with sinew and bone when I make my arms into wings.  I stand like that, with my face skyward, and I feel the light move in chattering runnels into the center of me, the most awake part of me.  I stand like that, with the wind in my face, with the final warmth of day pooling like a trustworthy foundation at my feet, purring like a cat.  I stand like that until my fingers turn cold, the sun flares, the light twitches, fades, crumples and the day plunges away.

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The rutted ice sank beneath a skiff of fresh powder and we began to swoop our way upward, faster, into the thick timber, into the temple of trees; the temple turned to lace and the lace turned to sky and we fell into a rhythm of quietude and the washing over of grace, which is painful and sublime, like waves softening stone.

Oh my soul.

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Ten Things

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1.  Robert and I finally saw the third and final installment of The Hobbit.  I like the story of The Hobbit, very much, but what really gets me, while watching Peter Jackson’s cinematic manifestation of the story, is the creative genius behind the little details.  I lose all control of myself while watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Hobbit films — they’re just so thrilling for me.  I scream aloud, cry, waggle my arms, mention every detail I find transfixing to poor Robert where he sits beside me.  You should have heard me whisper shriek in the theater about the war stag, the war pig and the war bighorn sheep two weeks ago.  I mean really, it’s all too much for me.  Now that the final Hobbit film has been thoroughly enjoyed I can’t help but feel that there’s nothing left to cinematically anticipate for the rest of eternity.

2.  If people quit assuming things about each other about 99% of the hate in the world would be dissolved.  The key to not living by assumption is to simply have the courage to ask about the truth of the matter — you aren’t always going to get an answer you like but that’s life!  Don’t assume.  Assumption is a kind of cowardice.  Find out the truth.  Be courageous.  Ask.  The truth is for seekers.  The truth is for people who want to change, learn and grow — independently and corporately within their relationships.

3.  Bone broth?  Heck yes!   I drink a pint of the stuff, hot, every morning before breakfast and generally brew 2-3 batches a week.  I use this recipe, roughly, for beef, chicken, upland game and antelope bone broth.

4.  A favorite account of mine — it’s beautiful, hilarious, annoying, shocking, terrible and wonderful.  Basically, it’s a close-up, raw glimpse at snapshots of humanity.  I look at and read the posts and feel like I’ve been brushing up against a random batch of people and even though we look different and live in different places and have different jobs we’re all loved, hated, healing and hurt in fundamentally similar ways.  For me, it brings to the forefront what it is to be human and I find myself focusing on the idea of commonality, unity, on the shared reality of the human condition.

5.  We LIKE.  So much.  Phryne herself is a downright sassafras, I love her mind, but what I adore more than anything about this program is the costuming — Phryne is always dressed to slay and best of all, she carries a tiny gold pistol in her purse.  Get yourself hooked, and quick.

6.  I know there are a handful of rugged, outdoor loving ladies reading this blog so I feel it’s my duty to inform you of these new slim fit double front dungarees for girls.  These are affordable-long-lasting-not-ugly-pants that fit nicely around curvy lady bums, hips and thighs of which I sadly have none, BUT most of my sporty girlfriends have curves and these pants look gorgeous on them.  Regardless, I’m delighted with my pair and have yet to develop holes in the knees.

7.  You can find me smattered throughout issue 2.  Also, there is a really nice interview write up about my Instagram account that can be read and enjoyed over here (thanks for the wonderful writing, Hilary).  Lastly, an essay of mine is featured here this winter — but flip through the whole magazine if you can.  It’s such a great collection of images and writing!

8.  We’re in the midst of an official website overhaul here and can’t wait to get this space freshened up and spruced up for you.  Work has really shot off in a handful of new directions for me in the past couple of years and we think it’s best this space begins to represent that fact in a more obvious way.  Buckle up!  We’ll be so excited when it comes time for the official unveiling!

9.  The Washington forest district Robert works for as a smokejumper FINALLY did some hiring and Robert was given a permanent position at the North Cascades base in November — he’s been a seasonal employee for about 8 years now, hired in the spring and laid off in the fall.  He hasn’t had permanent status with the federal government since he was a fish biologist for US Fish and Wildlife when we lived in Arizona.  This means a lot of things for us, but most importantly we’ll be delighted to not pay for private health insurance out of pocket as we have been for the past eight years, we’ll be able to pay into a retirement fund again and Robert is guaranteed at least six months of work a year.  I’m proud of him.  He deserves this position (not more than anyone else, but in and of himself) and he continues to be the very best man I know — honest, fair, hardworking and a true friend to all.

This is one of the main reasons we are preparing to put our Idaho farmhouse on the market in the early summer.  Life is calling.  Changes are coming.  Quite slowly, the murk of the coming year is clearing and we are beginning to have a sense of direction which is nice.  People keep asking me where we are going to live and what we plan to live in.  We don’t really know and we don’t really care.  We’ll make it work, like we always do.  We’re like merry flotsam in a patch of choppy, icy sea.

10.  I have been on the road, away from the studio, for nearly two full months.  I have really missed my studio.  I have really missed you.

Belated Good and Merry

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Well!  A belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from us to you!  Life whisked us off to the strawbale house before I could prepare any sort of holiday posts for you, then Christmas had us galloping to California and back again, then a pair of colds we picked up from our darling but virus ridden nieces and nephews had us on our knees for the better part of a week (bless their squeaky little souls).

  Lastly, I started skiing and the rest is history, as they say!

We hope you spent the holidays with your beloved friends and family, that you were aware of the magic of the season and that you felt the full and glorious peace of God in your hearts despite the chaos reported in the news both in the wide world and here at home in the USA.  It’s a funny thing to feel troubled and outraged by world events while sitting tucked away safe in a little house on a beautiful river in a quiet desert with nothing but a man, dogs and books to keep company with.  Life always seems to be a clash of the senses, a cacophony of emotions, discordantly melodic in the best of times.

I thought of you much, over Christmas, and held you uplifted in my heart (and continue to).  I hope you felt it, over the distance between us.

I haven’t really had a moment to dream up any resolutions for the year however, I do plan on printing off Susannah Conway’s end of year/start of year paper thingy again.  I filled out most of this workbook last year and found it an enriching experience.  It helped me to roughly plan out my year and make a handful of goals (some of which I met, some of which are CONTINUING goals).  I’ll be doing the 2015 workbook a little late this year but better late than never!  I encourage you to do the same if you haven’t already done something like it.

And finally, to loosely tally 2014 for you:

Mason jars home canned and put up in the pantry (jams, pickles, marina sauce, whole plums, relishes, etc.): 172

Flat tires on trucks: 2

Antelope harvested: 1

Tea roses planted: 4

Pellet stoves installed in the studio: 1

Pairs of spring green clogs purchased: 1

Rafting trips:  8

19 inch cutthroat caught on the fly on the south fork of the Snake River: 1

Companies employed by as a freelance photographer: 11

Escargot consumed: 0

Trips to California: 2

Trips to Saskatchewan: 2

Magpie chicks in the nest in the Austrian pine:  3

Peaches produced by the peach tree:  4

Pairs of cross country skis brought home from ski swap:  2

Desert bighorn sheep spotted: 5

Badger hole investigated: 1

Cavities filled: 1 (tiny little bugger)

Gyms joined: 0

IMG_9280Come on, come on 2015.  Bring the light.  Bring the dark.  We’ll weather your storms and bask in your sunshine.

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Hunting, fishing, drawing, and music occupied my every moment. Cares I knew not, and cared naught about them.
[John James Audubon]