I made it.  I made it through 2.5 of the most busy, most full, most wild months of my life.  Starting in April, I traveled for photography work, I zipped home to Canada to see my family, we made the transition into the fire season by moving the Airstream up to McCall for the summer, the transmission in our big Dodge blew up in the middle of nowhere putting us down to one vehicle between us (while living in two different places), we bought a car, we bought $500 worth of high quality poop for the gardens here, Robert planted a huge asparagus patch, I traveled for work, I slaved in the studio, I traveled for work some more, we began irrigation on the hayfield, the farm was a revolving door and we had rich visits with many friends, I traveled more…a couple of days ago we wrapped an enormous shoot in McCall and that was that — the end of the line!  I have been extremely cognizant about keeping my schedule uncluttered this summer because last summer nearly killed me, I was stretched so thin by work. Currently, I see my summer months looking relatively wide open, there’s a whole lot of white space in my dayplanner, and I’m thankful I’ve practiced saying no as much as I have to photography gigs and various other work trips.  I need my life to slow down, especially during these fire season months when so much of our life details weigh heavily on me.

It’s weird, this place I am in with work.  I like to go back and forth between the metal and my cameras but flipping back and forth between the two mediums causes so much life chaos.  I didn’t plan to work with my cameras in this capacity, but the experiences I’ve had through photography work have been grand.  I couldn’t stop even if I wanted to.  I reckon I’m in my 30s now, anyway, now is the time to have a cup that overfloweth…or in my case, many cups that overfloweth.

My grandfather passed away a few weeks ago now, right in the middle of the truck breakdown, the shift into the fire season (Robert was in the thick of the season refresher in McCall which entails lots of classroom work and practice jumps), we had a gaggle of baby animals at the farm and I was about to leave on a New Mexico shoot I was under contract for.  There was no way I could get home to his funeral and because of the speed of life here, I had to bundle up my emotions regarding his passing and shove them into some empty, echoing chamber of my heart, just to get by, just to get through the month and my work commitments.  It was difficult for me.  I felt emotionally taxed.  I am not repressive by nature.  I feel guilty for not getting home, I worry about what my extended relatives must think of me for missing the funeral, I feel thankful I was able to get home to Canada for a fast visit in March — to see him alive once more, to hug him and kiss him and tell him I love him…

Day by day I am pulling those emotions up, regarding my grandfather’s passing, and sorting through them.  I’m sure it will be a lifelong endeavor.

There’s a lake in McCall I love to go to.  I feel it’s generally overlooked by tourists and locals.  I go there because it’s empty and beautiful and I can be alone with the dogs and hear my thoughts.  The lake is edged by timber and snow capped mountains.  The shore is littered with tattered, water-washed driftwoods.  I often find myself hoping that my heart is like that lake, bottomless and blue and silken to the touch, framed with friendly timber and the enduring grit of granite.  I find myself hoping that the breeze on brilliant sunny days will keep the sapphire pulse of my heart free of debris, clear of log jams and winter killed trees — that those scruffy objects, bobbing and rotting and fading, will be pushed aside by winds and storms.  I hope that there, in the center of that blue heart-world, there is fathomless clarity, undiscovered depths and the sweet seam of mercy that stitches the water to the sky.

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Five pronghorn relics built of deep, solid sterling silver, turquoise, prehnite and a trace of 14K gold.  I’m listing these rings in my shop this evening at 8PM (mountain time).  Sizes range from 6-9.

Hope to see you there!

XX

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I made a pronghorn ring yesterday.  You probably don’t remember but I worked with a similar motif 3 or 4 years ago.  I don’t know what made me suddenly return to it.  I simply sat down in my studio and said to myself, it’s an antelope kind of day, I think!

I’ve been slowly turning over my personal jewelry collection, selling bits and pieces, giving things to friends and family.  It makes me really happy to give my work away, to see an old piece I never wore much gain a new life with someone who cherishes it fully.  More than anything, I like to see the ladies of my life wearing my work.  It gives me a sense of closeness to them, to see something my hands made on their fingers, ears or around their neck.  I don’t know if they have a similar sense when they wear my work, maybe they don’t feel anything at all when they wear it, but it really does mean the world to me to be kept so close to them, to literally have echoes of my own pulse worn closely against their own.

I kept one of my original pronghorn skull rings until perhaps 6 months ago when I parted with it and sent it to a friend.  I reckon, if I miss a piece of jewelry enough, I can always make myself a new one…but I rarely do.  Once these things have left my hands, I generally feel the design has moved past me and out into the ethers.  However, I might make myself a new pronghorn ring.  For me, they are one of the ultimate and unmistakable symbols of the interior West.  When I see the pronghorn in the sage, all the scattered parts of me feel a sense of home.

To see the antelope is to be home.

http://www.thenoisyplume.com/blog/2017/05/10/12862/

Gifts from McCall

Did I mention yet that our 2017 fire season is already humming?  Robert reported for duty a few weeks ago and he’s already jumping out of airplanes.  We’ve been going back and forth between the farm and the Airstream in McCall.  From the moon, we probably look like bees buzzing back and forth between the hive and the wildflowers.

Last time I drove to our fire town it gave me a couple visual gifts in the forms of incredible squalls, an amazing moonrise and a den of kits.  The journey also gave me my first speeding ticket of my life which was extremely mortifying.  We bought a new car, the Volkswagen Alltrack, to be exact.  It’s as sporty as Serena Williams.  In fact, it’s been difficult for me to get used to the zippy-ness of this new rig after driving lumbering trucks for the past thirteen years of my life.  Every time I think about it I feel so grumpy at myself for marring my perfect driving record.  I’m usually so diligent about setting cruise control and I almost always go a little under the speed limit, too, because I drive like a grandpa and eat nuts and sip kombucha and look for elk and antelope and osprey while I mosey along.  We still have all our trucks but it’s nice to have something dependable and easy to drive when I need to run to the city — our trucks all have 250K miles on them (or more) and I was starting to feel scared about driving them on long haul trips.  This will be the third VW I’ve owned.  The first was a 1971 Bug that was Baja’ed out — I tore around it in while we lived in Arizona.  The second was a 1973 camper bus (Omnibus?) — it was so much fun to travel and camp with.  I guess we’ve been Volkswagen fans for years!  I didn’t realize it until now!

Anyway, look at those foxes, would ya?  I felt lucky to find them and watch them.  They weren’t especially shy so I had a good long look at them.  What beauties.

The Birds and the Bees

Our bees arrived!  Robert has been an apiary enthusiast since seventh grade so he is beyond thrilled to finally have a hive going.  We checked on them yesterday and it’s amazing how much work they’ve been able to do in a span of a few short days.  We had to tear out their honeycomb because they were building it perpendicular to the frames — we hoped they would free build their honeycomb (to make for easier harvesting) but they might need a little direction from us with regards to how they hang their sweets.  Hosting them here on our little farm is a dream come true.  And since some of you demanded baby critter photographs, here are a few of those, to boot!  Though, as you can see, everything is growing up pretty quickly around here.

I thought I would include a picture of Tater Tot with the turkey-lurkeys for you.  This is the first time I let them out in the yard to free range and so it was Tater’s first encounter with them.  Some of you have asked about how we deal with bird dogs who come from really strong hunting bloodlines (which is to say they have an immense predator prey drive) and free ranging birds in the yard.  I do have a couple of thoughts to share on the topic.

Tater Tot is now 5 years old. If I didn’t have complete control of him in situations like this it would be a total failure on my part with regards to basic obedience training and establishing general pack order with my dogs.  If you don’t want your dogs to kill your yard birds, if you want them to come when you call, if you want them to abide by the rules you have set for them, you need to have some basic obedience training in place, but to be honest, the more obedience work you are able to do on a regular basis, the better.  Dogs come from wolves!  They thrive on a sense of place within their pack.  Obedience training is one of the best ways to build bonds with your pup as well as give them that sense of place that will help them to feel and behave like secure individuals.

I always say, if you have a dog that is acting up you can almost always solve the issues by exercising it more (go beyond the off-leash, downtown dog park) and working with it more (obedience training).  These things benefit you, too.  My dogs get me outside every single day and engaging with them, asking them to work for me and along side me has made our relationships rich and sacred.

As I said, we’ve had Tater Tot for 5 years but I do yard training with him on a regular basis because he needs it.  He has a very strong and stubborn personality paired with completely insane hunting drive.  He needs a tune up every single day.  To give him a tune up I simply dedicate time every day wherein we get to focus on each other.  If I am running, I heel him while I run (though we run on single track or two track on public lands where he can run free and wild).  While we travel together like that, I practice casting him off, recalling him, woahing him and running past him a full 1/4 mile before releasing him from his woah command, etc.  If he is being rotten to the cats or to the other dogs, instead of trying to reason with him like some folks do with their dogs (???), I take him straight outside and I challenge his mind with some obedience training.  I can turn his attitude around in a couple of minutes by simply refreshing his sense of pack order and pushing his mind a little.

I can’t yet trust him with the turkeys, but soon he’ll ignore them when he’s sharing the yard with them.  In the meanwhile, I sit with him while the turkeys range within his reach, I speak to him and let him know I am watching him.  I request a little self-control from him and he does a great job.  He completely ignores the ducks unless he is with me while I am herding them into their pen in the evening.  Then he’ll actually help me herd them a little bit, with the aid of voice commands from me.  He’s such a smart little pup.

Farley ignores all the new critters while Penelope is curious about them and wants to give them all the flea nibbles…which looks a little like she is tasting them so I have to tell her to be gentle.

As you can see, the duckos have grown amazingly quickly.  They have many of their adult feathers and they discovered the trout pond yesterday and to say they are thrilled with their swimming space would be a total understatement.  They add so much to the immediate yard here.  I am glad for their company.

This week, I’ll be busting my own chops trying to get the gardens in.  Wish me luck!  I’d like to have all my seeds in the ground by the weekend and since it’s still very cool at night, tomatoes, et al, can wait another week…and they have to wait another week, anyway, as I’ll be off on another shoot shortly!  I’m doing my best to roll out of bed at 6AM here, every morning, there’s so much to do.  And when I lay down to sleep at night, I sleep like a rock.  It’s delicious.  And simple.  And I like it.