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.

http://www.thenoisyplume.com/blog/2017/05/24/12874/

I tend to work in wide arcs, which is to say, sometimes I start something, set it aside and then come back to it weeks, months or years later so that my own life, as it were, has seasons of its own — so that there is a winter, spring, summer and autumn to my creative work.  I used to think I wasn’t seeing design ideas through to their conclusion, that a design series needed to have a clear beginning and end, that once I felt finished, I’d probably never return to an idea again.  But that’s not how the seasons work in the natural world!  They come around again and again, blending with each other so that we cannot truly say when winter ends and spring begins, we can’t ever say when exactly summer will slip into autumn, and it varies every year!  I’ve stopped fighting myself in the studio in the past couple of years of my life.  I’ve let go of the idea that there’s a right way to do this, that I must have a clear conclusion to every series I start.  In fact, I want to set things down, start something new, and then find myself on a return orbit to that original idea.  I want to explore and then re-explore and allow for cyclical wandering.  It seems right to me.

While I’m on the topic of rhythms I want to mention I’m not sure I’d be aware of my creative rhythm if I were not so hyper-aware of the seasons and I think the things that have bound me so tightly to the seasons and created a strong comprehension of life rhythms in me is our hunting seasons as well as my gardening and growing (and preserving) season — the general things we do around here to survive.  In short, I’m not sure there’s anything that can restore natural rhythms in our bodies as well as being connected to and responsible for the growing, hunting or raising of our food.  Once we find ourselves busy doing this honest work, everything else seems to fall into place and even our circadian rhythms benefit from a simple obedience to the seasons.  We wind up for summer and then wind down again for winter.  Resting and living like the bears do.  We are mammals, after all.  Perhaps that’s too simple an outlook on life but…perhaps it’s not?  The harder I work at surviving simply, the more I slow down, the happier I feel.  But I digress, I meant to talk about jewelry in this post.

 The foundation for the pieces I am making this week is the original “Glitz Ring” I made in February of 2010.  This series has come and gone in my studio numerous times, incarnated again and again with fresh  inflections, in new arrangements, with ever evolving botanical motifs, under the guises of new names, but some things about it have never changed.  The design always holds a stone that is flanked with a flock of dimensional, hammer formed (usually anticlastic) and highly textured leaves and sterling granules.  It only seems right to come around to it again this spring, renewing the design in a way that matches the freshness of the landscape here.  I’ve taken this leaf form loosely from the first sprigs of green growth I’ve seen on the river, right down by the water edge in the shadow of the canyon wall where the snows have yet to melt.  There, in the cold and wind, something new is brewing and it looks like this:

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I’m holding these pieces for an official shop update in the next week and a half or so — I’ll be more specific about the date and time in the days to come.  For now, I don’t want to stop to deal with listings and photography and logistics.  It’s so nice to be working on a batch of one-of-a-kinds again — it feels like being touched by the sun.

http://www.thenoisyplume.com/blog/2017/03/08/12686/

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One of my best friends is dating a man who survived electrocution and then testicular cancer and I love hanging out with him because he has a knack for appreciating every moment that lands in his life and then, he’ll exclaim about it, voice aloud his delight for others to hear so that they might notice, too.  I love that about him.  Usually I’m the only person doing that kind of thing, I mean audibly freaking out about the shape of the clouds in the sky or whatever beautiful detail that catches my eye about a thing or a person.  There’s always something to catch my eye.  There’s something beautiful about everyone and everything.

With that in mind, this new life of ours in this new space is replete with goodness.  Each time I open my eyes to a new day, every time I stop to put a log on the fire in the living room, when I lay in bed for a moment longer to watch the squirrels in the crowns of the elms through the bedroom window, I find myself exclaiming my delight aloud.  I go out running, hiking and walking with the dogs and the land offers up such treasures every single day, whether it’s the lichen come alive on the stone faces in hues so vibrant they seem otherworldly, to the freshness of the wind as it passes over the river and slaps my face, to the muskrat skull I found  a few days ago and the mismatched four-point sheds I tripped over while running a jackrabbit trail the other night…it’s all here…all the moments are all here and I see them all and I rejoice.

http://www.thenoisyplume.com/blog/2017/02/25/12620/

Winter Fire

7I9A7811 7I9A7861 7I9A7864 7I9A7892I have many favorite memories from my childhood but some of my favorites of all are the times my family went snowmachine-ing into Riding Mountain National Park from where we were stationed at Sugarloaf Station.  My dad drove his park issued, double-skied Bombardier in classic plainsman style — standing with one knee up on the seat, the other foot down on the running board to steady his body while his beaver fur hat flapped about in the -30C weather.  My sisters, mum and I rode in a sled behind with the dog on our legs to keep us warm.  The sled was tarped so we were out of the wind but it didn’t matter, it was still cold.  I remember looking out the back of the sled at the blur of the ice season in the spruce and the pale skin of the aspen hanging on to ratty bird nests, everything dull and dark and grey as the frigid sky.  I remember the terrible moments when the wind gusted and blowing snow poured into the back of the sled as we rode.  I remember the feel of the snow crystals on my face — brusque and prickly.  We would get to where we were going and my dad would shut off the snow machine; the sudden quiet of the woods was like a roar in my ears.  We’d all crawl out of the sled and we’d poke about in the woods and eventually build a little fire under a lumbering spruce (which you’re never supposed to do) and we’d stay a while.

My mum would unpack a picnic that included a thermos of hot chocolate, cookies, hotdogs for roasting, whole wheat buns for our roasted dogs and ketchup and mustard for the trimmings…sometimes a jar of sauerkraut, too, which I didn’t like until I grew up and my tastebuds settled down a bit.

Ever since those times, I’ve always known there’s nothing so wonderful as stopping in a winterscape to have a hot fire, a snack and a thermos of tea.  I’m telling you, it’s the very best and in a world of humans who speak often in wild hyperbole I want you to understand that I mean that statement with all my heart.

A picnic fire in the frigid heart of winter is the very best.

I’m thinking so much lately about my younger years, those developmental times that built a sort of foundation for who I am now as a human, a lady, an outdoorswoman, a full time creative and small business owner.  I can tell you I’ve worked hard to be who I am, to develop what is good in me and weed out what is bad in me but my parents also worked hard to bring magic to my childhood whenever they could.  My mum strived to fill our lives with culture and a passion for the arts and she worked especially hard to make my sisters and I into cultured little ladies with rich imaginations though we spent so much of our young years in the backwoods of Canada.

I should have grown up to be a feral beastie because my childhood was largely barefoot, weird and wild.  But instead, I can tell you the names of classical pieces of music (so many of them I studied for piano), I can speak broken Quebecois style French (though it goes more and more to rust with the passing of years), I can tell you what I believe if you take the time to ask me and listen to me, I can set a beautiful table and throw an elegant dinner party, I can articulate my emotions and my physical pain, I can look out at the natural world and translate the lessons I learn from the land and the critters there so that they mean something to me as a human.

I’m not sure any of that is of value in the real world, but I value it in and of itself but also because my mum valued it.  It’s my delight to unfold myself for people who don’t know me well and to reveal, piece by piece, the residual magic of my upbringing — to present those ideas, those pieces of culture and grace and grit paired with my current skill set and simply surprise others.

It is also my delight to see the people I love unfold in a similar manner.  Just when I think I know everything about a friend or loved one, just when I think I have a tactile sense of their dimensions, they surprise me with an opinion, with a keen proclamation of faith, with a talent or skill, with a blinding humility or such a deep capacity for grace that I have to entirely rewrite my definition of them in my mind.  It’s thrilling.  Growing with people, changing alongside them, discovering them and re-discovering them is completely thrilling and the very true root of my notion of relationship.

I can’t remember what I set out to say when I began writing this blog post but I think it’s close to being finished now and sometimes (more often than not) finished is better than good and the fact is, I just need to get back on the blogging wagon…so with that said, may you get to know, even more, the people you love and the people you don’t love, and may you discover that you love the people you know you love even more than you thought you did and may you find yourself loving the people you thought you didn’t love with all your heart…and may you be curious about who they are, who they were, and who they will be…and may your winter fires be warming.
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All is Calm

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It’s January 4th and I’m just finding the space to think about this new year, celebrate it in my small ways, step out on the land and marvel at the passage of time, the contrast between the ticking time of my physical heart and the sweep of geological ages.  Isn’t it funny to be so young and fleeting compared to a wedge of towering basalt upon which ancient lichens grow?  Life is full of juxtapositions.  I can’t help but marvel at it all.

I have noticed the growing trend of choosing a word for the new year, a word that encapsulates what you’d like to become, what you’d like to work on, what you would like to let go of…and while I don’t have a specific word to apply to 2017 I have been ruminating on something I would like to practice in my life with even more fervor.  This year, I intend to work even harder at remaining calm.  When everything falls to pieces or when someone treats me terribly or when I don’t get my way in life or when I suffer total failure…I want to remain calm.  Beyond practicing calmness, I want to find myself in the habit of immediately moving into a problem solving state of mind — I want to find myself recognizing the disaster and instead of reacting emotionally, I want to fluidly engage my ability to critically think and logically process my way through a dilemma.

I look at the world around me and I worry that North Americans have become prone to hysteria and hysteria feeds hysteria and even morphs into histrionics at times.  I don’t like it.  In point of fact, I find it self-indulgent, juvenile and even embarrassing to witness, especially in adults.  Babies are allowed to totally lose it, not 25 year old men and women.  Furthermore, I worry about the effect we have on children, adolescents and even our peers when we lose all self-control, drop everything and pitch a fit.

While Rob’s dad was staying with us and helping with renovations up at the house in November he said something during a conversation that stuck with me.  We were discussing healthy eating and exercise and he said he likes to stay active and fit and be as healthy as possible because he feels he is an example to people around him.  He’s retired but continues to work as a reading specialist with children in a backwoods town in the 49er country of California.  His five kids are all grown up and a few of them have given him grandkids.  Because he’s been an educator in every capacity in public schools his whole life, I believe he is hyper-aware of how adults mold children and youth, how our smallest actions and reactions are noticed and absorbed by the people around us — without even trying, perhaps by osmosis, we can have an effect on everyone we come in contact with.

I’ve been thinking about the responsibility we all have to not simply live for ourselves in an age when where is so much emphasis on self-_______________ .  When an individual is suffering a crisis of the soul, I hear their friends say, “You just keep on doing you.  Don’t worry about that person.”  But…what if we did worry about others more — or at least the less obvious repercussions of our own actions?  What if we looked at our lives in an honest way, what if we took a deep, scouring look at all our behaviors and were brave enough to realize what needs adjusting?  What if we were courageous enough to actually MAKE those adjustments, how would it affect our relationships, our families, our neighborhoods, our communities…heck, our whole country?

I believe our kids would grow up braver, stronger, and smarter.  Future generations would be creative, logical, deep feeling groups of people who practice calmness in crisis.  I don’t simply want to improve myself for my own sake, but for the sake of the people I surround myself with.  I want to be a good example, to the best of my abilities (despite the fact that I’m a terribly flawed human being) to the people in the world I live in.  It’s hard, honest work.  I’m up for the challenge.

Happy New Year to you all, go forth and conquer.

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