I write from the new studio space at the farm which is brimming with light as though it holds an indelible, inner glow that cannot be dimmed!  Our new home is shaping up nicely.  Naturally, I have a creative itch to scratch so I’ve set aside some organization work to fiddle around at my studio bench instead — mostly finishing up some small scale production work I failed to complete before packing up the house for the move to the farm…but my unexercised mind is racing and I have not be able to resist laying out arrangements of stones and other doodads, firing up the studio and doing some soldering and tinkering…mostly I’m laying out studies in color.  The landscape here is fat on snowmelt and rain but it’s thin on chroma and I suppose gemstones have become a way I can quench my craving for color.

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Already it occurs to me how much I will miss living at the strawbale house on the steep slant of the South bank of the Snake River.  Being able to watch the sunrise over the water and steam, witnessing the waking of the world, one bird at a time.

Did I tell you that in December, from the kitchen sink at the stawbale house, I watched a pair of coyotes stalk a group of ducks that were in a floatilla near shore in a wide eddy on the far bank?  The stalk culminated in a terrific splash attack and the coyotes missed their mark and thereby their breakfast but I think they had a fun time, regardless.  The duo proceeded to make their way upriver, hunting voles in the snow as they went, leaping and pouncing, tossing their live, velvety food into thin air before snapping it in the steel trap of their jaws.  I watched the whole thing while wearing a pair of rubber gloves and pressing binoculars to my eyes — dishwashing was stalled for a good fifteen minutes.

I’m going to miss seeing the herons landing on the island below that house, surprising the muskrats on morning strolls, the flight of the bald eagle and osprey.  I’ll miss being a part of all that magnificent, teeming life.

As I let go of one place, I turn to embrace this new home with great joy in my heart.  I counted the trees in the immediate yard at the farm and there are 34, all mature (this number does not include the fruit or nut orchards, the wind rows or any of the trees in the far hay pasture) ranging from elm to locust to ponderosa pine to Austrian pine, to blue spruce to a single, young,  bristlecone pine!!!  I pet the bristlecone every single day, it’s such a sensory experience.  I don’t know who planted it but thank you, whoever you are!  Thank you!  You’ve made a perfect stranger so glad.

In these yard trees is a heavenly host of birds, even though it’s winter.  I look forward to seeing new nests appear this spring.  We also have barn, great horned and shorteared owls on the premises and walking the lawn is made difficult by the mountains of owl pellets piled beneath the trees — I see rodent bones and the motley, partly decayed faces of doves, small skulls and shards of hide in those pellets.  As always, it’s an impromptu biology class for me, just strolling around this place!  I learn so much just by looking, engaging my logical thought processing and employing my deduction skills.  I feel like the Cinderella of this place, with all my little critter friends, and I sing to myself as I go about my way, dressed in rubber boots and rags (…not really dressed in rags but I couldn’t resist writing that…).

I can’t wait for the tree canopy to burst away into wild greens this spring and the row of almond trees in bloom and buzzing with fuzzy bees.

We’re settling in, puzzle piece by puzzle piece, painting and dealing with finishing details as we go and let me tell you, our space is so lovely.  So lovely.  But let me tell you the most important thing — we arrived home from our southwest trip at 2AM and I stepped into our new house exhausted and hungry.  I navigated through the maze of unpacked boxes and stacked pieces of furniture, brushed my teeth with a broken bathroom faucet and fell into bed to sleep the best, deepest sleep I’ve had in a long while.  If I could choose a word to describe the past year of my life it would be: CHAOS.

If I were to choose two words they would be: UTTER CHAOS.

 With the completion of our move to the farm, all things feel relatively calm and orderly…everything is in the right place (even if it’s still being unpacked).  I think I fell into a kind of hibernation survival mode leading up to this big move and now, my energy has been unleashed fully and I’m humming and buzzing from blossom to blossom in a kind of kinetic, hyperactive quest for nectar.  It’s beautiful.  It’s beautiful to be myself again.

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I look forward to sharing some photos of our new home with you but my camera is broken and in California undergoing a $800 repair so in the meanwhile, here’s the final few pictures I have of the New Mexico portion of our southwest trip.

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http://www.thenoisyplume.com/blog/2017/02/23/12601/

7i9a7615 7i9a7623 7i9a7640On the day of our 13th elopement anniversary, we built a kitchen floor at our little farm of dreams.

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Early this morning we put the final floor board in place and besides finishing details throughout the house, we are done!  The new floors in the kitchen, bedrooms and hallway are being sanded and sealed today and then we are turning this place over to a crew of painters and cabinet people.  We can’t believe we’re going to meet our deadline for moving in.  We’re totally and righteously exhausted and look forward to taking a couple days off to hunt, ski, hot spring and relax (we haven’t had a rest since October).

Wishing you all a beautiful last few moments of 2016.

X

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http://www.thenoisyplume.com/blog/2016/12/30/12488/

Bless this mess!

Well, I know it’s been a confusing six months with regards to where the heck I have been living, where the heck Robert has been living and where the heck we have been living together whenever we are lucky enough to be together.

To keep it simple for you, we’re currently living in the strawbale house, because the farm house is mostly looking like this:

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True to Jillian and Robert style, we’re doing a reality TV home improvement style house renovation.  TAKE IT DOWN TO THE STUDS!!!  That’s seems like our life motto.  Yay for us.

The farm house is a really cool ranch style 70’s home and while there’s a lot of great stuff about it, it did need some work (buying turn-key homes is apparently not our talent).  Rob and I agreed that we did not want to have to live in a demolition site so we have kept the strawbale house rental while working on the farm house.  There’s a commute.  We don’t care (but sometimes I care).

What was going to be a complex kitchen renovation turned into a terribly big complex kitchen renovation when we discovered that the attic space above the kitchen was a rat, mouse and pigeon labyrinth  at one point in time.  Former owners must have had an exterminator deal with the issue because under all that insulation above the kitchen was a literal catacomb of dead creatures, crap and various critter nests.  The vision of mummified rats the size of Penelope will forever be seared in my memory.  It was heinous.

Ok, so we had to hire a company to come and vacuum out that revolting mess.  It took them a week.  I felt so badly for them!  The attic contents were horrifying.  Robert was so traumatized that he tore out panels of dry wall in the other side of the house to make sure there wasn’t a rat catacomb above the bedrooms, too — there wasn’t (by the way, the bedrooms are also quasi-demolitioned at the moment).  Suffice to say, the kitchen demolition part of this renovation has been exhausting and extensive but the project is now moving forward.  This is an example of how sometimes it has to get real bad before it starts to get better.

Rob’s dad was here for a full week to help out with installing the new main support beam in the kitchen which you can clearly see in the next image.  It looks gorgeous!  Beyond the beam, you can see into our enormous living room with it’s cozy fireplace, kooky windows, vaulted ceiling and exposed cross-ties.

7i9a6050 7i9a6058I can’t wait for the day we finally get to move into this place but until then, I am continuing to cherish living right on the river, above the rapids, in the strawbale house which has been such a beautiful place to live and I am sure I will look back so fondly at this time in our life.

Viva la home renovation revolution!  Hopefully you’ll be amazed (me too) next time I show you images of progress!

Lastly, did you find Tater Tot and I in your mailbox last week?

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Farmy

7i9a20477i9a2640 7i9a2650 7i9a91547i9a26777i9a2029 7i9a20387i9a4270 7i9a4274 7i9a42881.  That’s our new mouser, Sugar Baby.  I originally named her Bronte because she came to me from the moors, cold and alone.  But since then, her name has transmogrified into something else and it suits her. She’s a handful.

2.  We moved the Airstream home from McCall yesterday which means we are now living in two places at once instead of three!  We’re slowly simplifying our lives here (in some ways) but for now, it just feels really nice to have made it through another fire season, safe and sound.

3.  We still have not moved into the farm.  Robert will begin a kitchen demolition tomorrow and since we have some travels planned, we’ll be scurrying here and there and everywhere until December which is when we hope to finally move into our new place.  I’m homesick for our new house.  I’m homesick for my studio.

4.  We picked almonds today which involves climbing a ladder and shaking the branches until they let go of the fruit.  Almonds are beautiful.  So many folks don’t know what an almond looks like before it winds up in a trail mix with cranberries and peanuts.  Well, they come dressed up in a thick skin of chartreuse velvet.  I kid you not.  They’re exquisite.  We have a whole orchard of the darn things.  A fresh almond tastes like a squeeze of fresh marzipan.  The flavor is off the charts and the nut meat moist and lovely.

5.  That’s our weeping willow.  That’s our trout pond.  That’s our irrigation working hard.  That’s our hay field.  That’s our reaped hay cut and drying in a lovely swath.  That’s me, making a hay angel, because how could I resist?

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Summer Nights

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I rode my neighbors’ Peruvian Paso and Missouri Foxtrotter in the morning, all across the two track on the canyon edge — the river dazzling in turquoise and sapphire beneath us while the horses kicked up plumes of dust with their shambling, ice smooth gaits.  I still smell lightly of equine and sweat.

The sun is sinking through wildfire smoke, casting an unearthly glow on the sage, the rising moon, the endlessly curving faces of the fruit I am picking.  I am barefoot now, stepping on the sweet rot of apples fallen from the trees.  I taste a plum.  Then one more — yellow, deep purple and ruby red.  I’m sullen over missing the cherry crop.  Apples and pears drop to the ground, sporadically, landing with muted thumps in the dirt.  I can hardly believe all of this is ours.  I slap a mosquito dead on the back of my hand.  I run my fingers through the knots in my hair.  Tater barks out loud, for joy.  Me too.

I wish Robert could quit this fire season and come home to me so we might start in on making this place even more of a sanctuary, even more of a paradise. 
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