Catching Up

When I filled the final page, I flipped back to the beginning of my journal, which is also my sketchbook, and the first page was dated April 22, 2016.  Why did it take me so much longer than usual to fill this book?  I used to run out of pages in six or eight months and I’ve been using this exact book for years.  In that moment, I realized 2016 was when a prolonged life transition began for me and for whatever reason, to the detriment of my creative health, my writing was set on the backburner until now.  It was with great joy that I found myself returning to pen and paper at the start of this year; sitting down almost every morning with strong intentions, a clear mind full of wide open thoughts and a general sense of ease regarding time.  It’s that last part that’s the most difficult thing to achieve.  Every morning I have that niggling feeling that I must hurry up and get the day started lest I squander my daylight hours and wind up a pauper in the achievement department.  I push that thought away these days.  I brew a cup of green tea.  I sit down with my favorite pen.  I write.  I sketch.  I glue in imagery from magazines and periodicals that caught my eye — photos, textures, fonts, color combinations…I build my inspiration bank, purge my heart and soul and concoct my dreams for the hours, the days, the years.  It’s good to be back at it.

The upland season closed and as always, it’s bittersweet to see and feel the season pass.  The dogs are unruly in the stillness.  We’re finding new things to do with ourselves.  Thankfully, the amount of work that needs to be done around the farm before the fire season begins develops exponentially, by the day!  We’re ordering seeds, I’m working on landscape design for all THREE of my gardens (I still don’t have enough gardening space!!!), fencing the rest of the horse paddocks, building nesting boxes for the turkeys and ducks, designing an outdoor dog run for the pups, lining up a new farm boy to help me with the irrigation this summer (looks like it’s going to be the sweet Mennonite kids from the next farm over), researching trees for the continuation of the orchard overhaul…

In the midst of all of that, we had a sense of being on top of everything so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when Hubba Hubba, our exquisite phoenix rooster, perished of inexplicable and unascertainable reasons at nightfall yesterday.  We’re both grieving that little dandy.  He was a great rooster — gentle with the hens and protective of his flock.  He’ll be missed and probably irreplaceable.  But that’s life, isn’t it?  Just when you’ve figured out the rhythm and everything feels like its running smoothly, you experience a setback — diminutive or monumental — so that the fabric of our lives is seismic in nature and constantly folding, unfolding, and fluttering about.  We’ll have to hunt up a new rooster.  I was looking forward to not caring for a bevy of little critters this spring but we might have to do another batch of chicks.  Chicks are a lot of work, my friends.  Last year I had baby ducks, turkeys, chickens and kittens and I could barely leave the property for a few months.  I sigh aloud as I write this though, because chicks are such a delight.  If I must chick, then I must chick and I will chick with joy!

I could not have chosen a better year to add a horse to my life.  Since winter never really arrived at the farm this year we have been able to work with Resero or ride him almost every single day since October.  What a miracle!  He continues to settle in, his trust in us deepens and our bonds with him grow tighter with time and groundwork.  He’s thriving here, we’re glad to say.  Exploring the public lands that surround the farm while sitting on his back is one of the best parts of my days.  Now that he’s here, we can’t imagine life without him.  We thought having him would take the edge off my horse fever but the truth is I infected Robert and he’s just as horse crazy as I am now.  To boot, it’s been my delight to watch Robert learn how to interact with horses.  His riding improves each time he sits on Resero.  We’ll make a horseman out of him yet!

Here’s my current reading list for you to consider:

Lastly, in case you missed it, I did a podcast with Ed at Mountain & Prairie a couple of weeks ago.  You can listen to it HERE.  Ed also chatted with Robert over the weekend so if you’ve ever wanted to hear more from and about that man of mine, you can listen to Robert’s podcast interview HERE.  I also highly recommend Ed’s new bookclub which is rooted in books about the West — Ed reads a lot and his recommendations are always great.  This bookclub just makes sense!

I hope you’re all well.


:::Post Scriptus:::

I’m working on printing some 8×10 photos for the shop this week…do any of you have requests?  I can’t guarantee I’ll print your requests because I’m batch printing but I’ll consider them.  Email me a screen shot of your faves if you have a moment and are interested in art for your walls!


  1. Bobbie in AK says:

    I have been reading your blog for years and am quite sure I’ve never commented. Thank you for the snippets of your every day life! I took great interest in your current reading list. I love that you are a Joni fan! I’ve adored her for as long as I can remember. I’ve added the book to my own “to read” list.

  2. Sorry for the loss of Hubba squared; the mystery deaths seem to always hit a little harder. I hope you can find a suitable replacement, but if not am in total agreement that the burden of raising adorable chicks is a joyful and rewarding load.

    • It’s a bummer to lose him, he was a good fella, but to be perfectly honest, it’s also a little irritating to have to begin again…I was looking forward to an easier spring than last! Oh well. If I need to do chicks again, I’m going to add a few more ducklings to the mess! Might as well take advantage of the situation.

  3. Chris Moore says:

    So glad to see Patti Smith! Have you read Just Kids/The M train? I have spent a lot of time ruminating on a sentence here, a sentence there in her books. Enjoy!

  4. the onlyhurricanegirl says:

    Oh Hubba Hubba, our animals always leave us too soon!! Wishing you luck in finding another handsome fellow.

  5. Nathalie Carles says:

    Great post of a big part of your life, just wonderful to read you, always.

  6. I find that I too tend to write less in seasons of change, even though looking back they are the times when I wish the most I had written!

    Never a bad time for Aldo Leopold… I’m excited to read American Wolf along with Ed’s book club too… McPhee! I haven’t read him since college!

    • I think it’s the time we most NEED to set aside time to write (or do whatever it is that we do).

      So glad you are on board with the Mtn&Prairie bookclub! Ed has great taste and I’m sure we’ll be delighted by his selections for months and years to come.

  7. Also, I thought about making a photo request, but could not narrow it down! Horse photos, in that case (hardly narrow…). 🙂

  8. Jillian…having a little more time, finds me catching up HERE! Just listened to your Podcast…so dang fun! I love the book suggestions you made…especially the “Two in the Far North.” This is very timely as we are getting ready to move to Alaska. I love ANY history, story, memoirs, ANYTHING that comes out of Alaska. If you have other recommendations of stories of the “North Country”…please do tell! I enjoyed listening to you and about the things that inspire YOU…and how. As always…thank you for sharing your life!

    • Hey girl! Thanks for listening to the podcast, though I hope you take the time to hear Rob’s chat with Ed as well. Robert is far more interesting than me! GUFFAW!

      Another author I think of who writes about Alaska (and IS Alaskan) is Seth Kantner. His stories are gritty and I appreciate them for that.

      Good luck in AK!!!

  9. amanda riley says:

    i love your book suggestions…Along the enchanted way is good. From another era, Patrick Leigh Fermor Between the Woods and the water is very descriptive.
    Am sorry about your cockerel.

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