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Catching Up

7I9A6434Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 3.55.24 PM7I9A64477I9A63787I9A65377I9A6484Well, the first one of a kind piece finally rolled off the studio bench today since the move to Idaho for the winter.  I think I’ve talked about it before, but yanking a studio up by the roots is tough business for me.  I’m doing it twice a year right now because of Rob’s job and it’s hard on my soul, time consuming and I lose stuff every time I do it — tools, partly finished projects…you name it.  There is always a handful of items I can never find ever again, they simply disappear into the ethers between Washington and Idaho.  Setting a space up again is becoming grueling for me.  Once my work space is set up, there’s also the spatial re-learning that can make me a little impatient.

It’s muscle memory, you know?  The way your hands and body move between bench, anvil, vice, and all the other tools of the trade.  You find a rhythm.  You can reach for objects and tools without looking.  It becomes like playing a twelve page sonatina by Beethoven by memory — your fingers and heart and senses just wind themselves up and then merrily tap away at things.  I love getting back to that place again where I’m flowing in the studio and I’m almost there right now but it’s been a slog at times.  The small victories come slowly.  I just try to give myself a little grace along the way.


Things I currently find inspiring:

-birds (waterfowl, birds of prey, upland birds, song birds, flickers…you name it, I’m obsessing)

-the idea of rags turning into riches, or the old adage that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure

-Russian olive trees

-the image of a sleepy —- ——— ————– — — ———- (can’t share too much about this one yet because it’s going to be beautiful and I cannot unveil the image I have in my mind yet…I hope it turns out when I sit down to actually make it

-water and wind (what those currents feel like and thereby what they must look like to the unseeing eye)


-running, running fast and how to make myself run faster and stronger — I often imagine I am a jackrabbit running through the sagebrush with an owl at my 6 or a salmon swimming inches from the dark tunnel of a bear’s throat — I’m constantly thinking to myself, as I run, “Be faster.  Be wilder.  Be stronger.” and I try to run like I’m scared, like I’m surviving, I pin my ears back and lean into it, it feels glorious…

-cobalt blue, salmon, ochre

-the skills animals are naturally and instinctually equipped with (or taught by their parents)


-everything upland…everything


Reading/Recently Read:

Desert Solitaire (Edward Abbey)

The Moon Pulled Up An Acre of Bass (Peter Kaminsky)

M Train (Patti Smith)

Never Broken (Jewel Kilcher)

Big Magic (Elizabeth Gilbert)

Station Eleven (Emily St. John Mandel)

Mary Oliver New and Selected Poems Vol. 1



First Aid Kit

Patti Smith

Bright Black Morning Light

Hey Rosetta!

Bob Dylan (Desire & Nashville Skyline)


Jewel (Spirit)


Watching/Recent Viewings:

Song of the Sea (…watercolor animation about selkies!!!!!!!!!!  AHHHHHH!!!)

Dances With Wolves

Wolf Children

Point Break

Velvet (The era!  The fashion!!! The subtitles…)


I’ve been consciously practicing omission lately, with regards to writing.

“…you could omit anything if you knew that you omitted and the omitted part would strengthen the story and make people feel something more than they understood.”  [Hemingway :: A Moveable Feast]

I mean it.  Everything I’ve been writing lately has been hacked to bits before it’s been submitted.  And I like it.  But I think I’ve been practicing omission for a while, specifically with my decision to write less about jewelry designs when I present them to you — choosing instead to let you feel your own way about them instead of assigning obvious meaning and symbolism to the objects themselves.

What do you think of that?


What I jotted down yesterday:

The youngest sister is here and so eager to vacuum the floors which need cleaning daily because the claws of the high desert slip so easily through the ribs of the windows and doors and the dust rides in clinging tightly to my feet the way I used to dance with my father when I was very young and I always like to see her for her humor and because we are like two mice, one from the country and one from the city, but we still like to nibble at the same cheese.


The dogs and I are trying to start every morning with a quick river walk.  I take a cup of tea or coffee with me and we see if we can find some pheasant feathers down on the river edge and we marvel at the trees and the coldness of the winter sun and we squint a little, too, and the quail are always bombing out of the thickets and the herons are doing their awkward calling to each other and the ducks fly over.  I love a quiet morning walk, so much.  The dogs are so much better behaved, too, throughout the day and my lungs feel scrubbed clean.


Lastly, I have to tell you about something crazy — I’d actually feel like a bad citizen if I didn’t share these details!  I was made utterly ill by laundry detergent and literally gave up ten days of my life to an agonizing rash that covered 75% of my stomach and other random parts of my body (including one earlobe, one eyelid, and part of my ribcage…and almost my whole right arm and wrist).  It was awful.  My lymph system is totally shocked out, I mean, honestly, it derailed my life!  The situation is still pretty awful but I’m slowly recovering from it and beginning to catch up on all the catching up I WAS doing when I came down with the rash.

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re all like, “Huh?  A rash?  Please Jillian, let us spare our compassion and prayers for those with leukemia and scarlet fever.”  Fine.  But I’ve had broken bones and my share of physical ailments and my servings of suffering I have to tell you that this is one of the most difficult ailments I have endured in my lifetime for the plain fact that the agony of it caused my mind to unravel.  I almost went crazy.  I still haven’t really slept in about eight days.  The rash looked like 3rd degree burns on some parts of my body.  It still does, a bit.  Lordy, it’s been terrible.

The last thing I will say about it is this:  Please do not buy the lavender scented Kirkland brand eco laundry detergent from Costco.  It has affected many, many folks in the same way (go read the reviews on the product on Costco.com if you’re struggling to take me seriously, you may have even had a similar experience, yourself).  I don’t usually write about things like this but honestly, I’d feel awful if one of you or your kids came down with a similar, systemic rash.  I’m utterly (and may very well be literally) scarred by the experience.



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Everything in its right place

out on the land that never stops giving even when it takes


you have to be out there

in the sharp light

mournful wind

and guilesome stone.


7I9A3176Sometimes you just have to keep moving

to be free

to be anything.

It’s the wind

you know

the movement of stiff air

over the soul

that gives a sensation of passage

a sense of leaving things behind

and moving onward

to meet what is



I always envy the quadrupeds, the way their four feet are on the earth, on the wind, on the inbetweens.

Their speed.  Their ability to leap over danger, over the sunset, over anything…

Four legs really are better than two.


All in a good days work!

7I9A5991 7I9A6018 7I9A6026 7I9A6120 7I9A61597I9A6179 7I9A6172We fished the gorge today!  It is unlike anywhere I’ve ever fished.  Out of some of the clearest waters I’ve ever seen I pulled the darkest rainbow trout — almost black behind their long streaks of blush.  Just beautiful.

For dinner?  I made an incredible pheasant and winter squash curry (wild shot and garden grown).

While driving home, we explored a little more, exclaiming to ourselves, “Idaho’s the best.”

It’s good to be home.

Lastly, look at that grumpy llama.