7i9a4324 7i9a4658 7i9a5107 7i9a51117i9a5217 7i9a5224 7i9a5228 7i9a5382I’m creatively unexercised.  It makes me neurotic.  When was I in the studio last?  I feel cheated on time lately, though I know that we all are given the same number of hours, minutes and seconds every single day.  Time is fair.

I check back through my day planner to see if I’m guilty of squandering my days.  I don’t think I am.  I’m working as hard as I can.  I see the lists I’ve been making, every single day, for weeks and months — the way nothing seems to get crossed off, the way I transfer lists over into the days that follow and the pile of things to do just grows and grows.  I felt hopeless today.  I cried a little.  I had a miniature existential crisis.  I questioned my faith, my lifestyle, my food, my desire to hunt, our farm, whether or not I should blog anymore, if I’m going to lay down on my deathbed some day and regret having an Instagram account…I wondered what the heck I’m working so hard for.  I wondered why I can’t just find the sweet spot with small business, the sweet spot when it comes to balancing photography, writing and metalsmithing…cease the need to constantly evolve.

I picked up my camera and it made me feel tired.  I turned the studio on and just looking at my tools made me feel tired.  I went outside to deal with the last of the garden.  I picked the beets and carrots.  I made soup.  I answered emails.  I fiddled the day away.  This evening, I went down to water to find a little quiet and be in the wind and spitting rain.  It didn’t solve any of my problems, getting all tangled up in the breeze, but I had a sense of space as I watched the rapids froth and roll and I knew everything would be ok.

Summer is over.  My life is so hectic in the hot months.  It takes a long time for me to settle in to the winter months, figure out how to live with Robert again and share space, slow down, sleep deeply at night and readjust to having a helper in life.  I want to fast forward to the good stuff in life this winter but I know I have to patiently and calmly fight for it.  So I will.  So I am.

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I feel completely sick about this US election — I’m not talking about the candidates (I don’t want to open that can of worms in this space — besides, I identify as a libertarian and I really have no dog in this fight), I’m talking about the way people talk to each other and treat each other and squash each others opinions and spit in each others eyes.  Alienation and public shaming is the new pink.  It exhausts me.  When is the last time you sat down with a total stranger, asked them their opinion on this election and simply listened to what they have to say with an open mind and an open heart — connecting as humans, not clashing as enemies?  I have been asking everyone I meet who they plan to vote for and everyone seems terrified by my question, at first, until they realize I’m not going to jump down their throats and make them feel like trash.  I just want to know.  It’s my way of understanding the people around me.

We learn by listening to each other.  By hearing opinions.  By being courageous and open to the idea of having our own notions changed.  Are you afraid to learn and grow?  Are you afraid of changing your mind?  See each other.  Hear each other.  Listen to each other.  Even if you don’t agree, be kind to each other.  It’s just politics.  And I think, above all, politics requires diversity.  Absolute power corrupts.  We need a mixed bag of kittens in Washington DC because this nation is split right down the middle and both sides of the matter deserve and require representation.

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Rob just arrived home from elk hunting.  Thank God.  I’m going to whip us up a nice dinner.  I hope you are all snug in your homes tonight.  I’m so glad you are in my world.

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http://www.thenoisyplume.com/blog/2016/10/27/12286/

We made it back to Idaho.

The first time he received a phone call about a smokejumping job we were in a Korean restaurant in Tucson and he stepped out of the establishment to take the call.  When he walked back in, he looked extremely serious, sat down at our table for two, and calmly broke the news that he had been invited to rookie training at the North Cascades Smokejumper Base — a dream come true for him.  He had spoken of jumping since our initial meeting in New Zealand when I was 18 and he was 21 so I’m sure you can imagine the span of life that had led up to this moment for us!  My reaction was to stomp my boots on the tiled floor, smack my palms down on the table top and emit a howl of joy.  In the kitchen, I heard some poor cook drop a stack of dishes in surprise to my rather vociferous response!  I was thrilled for Robert, thrilled for us, thrilled to the point of goosebumps like I get when we have a dream become a reality.

Since then, we’ve spent six years straddling the states of Washington and Idaho, moving twice a year to chase the fire season and returning to Idaho for the winter months — some of those summer seasons I spent alone in Idaho when housing in Washington didn’t shake out and those were very lonesome times for us.

All the moving has been too much for me and if I can be completely frank, I didn’t think I had another season in me, at least I didn’t think I could move the studio to Washington again this summer.

It’s one thing to move a home and a family but another thing entirely to pick up a studio space and small business twice a year and shuttle it 16 driving hours down the road, set it up again and find your way back to the work like a drunken homing pigeon.

So when Rob called me from Arkansas in early March to tell me he had been offered a position at the McCall Idaho smokejumper base, my reaction was very similar to that first smokejumping phone call he received six years ago.  I stomped my boots on the floor of the strawbale house, slapped a palm down on the kitchen island and screamed aloud.

I WAS THRILLED.  I was beyond thrilled, really.  And I would like to mention (brag) that Rob’s transfer to McCall is a lateral transfer into a permanent position which everyone thinks is easy to do, but it’s really not easy to do.  To take a permanent transfer, a base has to be very sure of the quality of person they are hiring.  Once they take that person on, they won’t be able to get rid of them (because that’s how the system works).  So with that said, I must offer huge thanks to McCall for taking a chance on my man.  They won’t be sorry.

My life has been crazy for so many years now and we have worked hard to make do with less than ideal circumstances every single fire season.  There has been the yearly added stress of finding last minute housing or studio space in the Methow Valley which is really totally impossible (think housing crisis due to two consecutive years of the valley, quite literally, burning down).  In that moment, when he told me he said yes to the job, I had a sense of STABILITY wash over me.  Peace.  I said a prayer of gratitude, I lived a prayer of gratitude for days, with all of my heart, feeling almost blissed out by the reality of our lives, and I felt my roots thrust themselves downwards, past the volcanic rock of the Snake River Plain, into the hot core of this state we love.

We are thrilled to be back in the beautiful state of Idaho, full-time.  We are delighted to really move forward, full steam, with seeking out and purchasing our working ranch property.  We are looking forward to meeting a new branch of fire community in McCall.  I’m so happy to no longer be seasonally moving my studio.

In the meanwhile, we’re sorting out life plans for the summer, working out some kinks in the still-unfinished Airstream which we will be living in again, trying to figure out how to get my ’71 Ford down from Winthrop and all the other details that come with a new job and relocation.  It’s all a glorious pain in the arse!  And I don’t even care!

With all that said, here’s to you, Robbie!  You’re the best man I know — the man, the legend.  I love you.  I am proud of you.  Let’s keep on grabbing life by the horns.
7I9A2967[Another typical family portrait for us…milliseconds later, I found myself literally log rolling down this cliff face…thanks for that, babe.]

On The Road

We live for those fantastic and unreal moments of beauty which our thoughts may build upon the passing panorama of experience.

[Rockwell Kent]

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We woke up one morning and suddenly found ourselves leaving the Little Cabin In The Woods.  The sun was shining for the first time in weeks, the trees dripping dry in the breeze, all the animals and birds squawking for joy [stellar’s jays, redtails, ravens, crows, various song birds, chickadees, squirrels, chipmunks, the hum of the frogs in the marsh].  I imagine the deer were on the move and my darling little black bear might have been blundering about in the wild roses, nibbling on rose hips with his belly growling.  I felt like Cinderella with all my animal friends, humming to myself as I cleaned, the birds chanting out exact harmonies, oh!  The swish of the trees!  The cabin slowly emptied out and I thought I could see the walls shivering in the absence of the warmth of all my little things.  The road out was wet and slippery and we crept along, nearly rolling our entire rig on a sharp corner — thank God we made it down the mountain without a gruesome disaster.  Higher up, in the sun, the snow was sloughing off the timber and stone of the North Cascades.  I felt sad to leave the mountains behind, and our lonesome woods.  As we soared down the Methow Valley, I watched the glorious forests roll back up into the high places until we reached the Columbia River valley where the hills are bare and brown and the stone suddenly turns mafic with the black dust of so many ancient volcano flows.

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At Moses Lake, it rained most of the night.  Sleeping in the belly of an Airstream trailer in stormy weather is like sleeping inside the curving frame of a harp.  The raindrops pluck at all the metal edges of your glimmering cradle and suddenly you hear melody in everything.  The wind moves in arcing falsettos.  Sleep is some sort of deeply resonating thrum that drones in waves of slow vibration.  The wind howl gently rocks you into long winks.

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We watched, two nights in a row, a huge, orange moon rise up over mountains, the warm light of night pooling in soft illuminations as far as we could see, malleable shadows brushing the sage in slow swoops.

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There’s something I have to tell you about being an Airstream owner, which is sort of like being a caretaker of a family estate, there’s some tenderness required for the caring of old bones.  We delight in it.  We like old junk with history, it’s why we live in a 106 year old farm house in Idaho — some part of it seems to be on the brink of falling down around our ears, at any given moment in time, but there are echos that resound in those dry old bones, in the solid points of the gables and the decrepit brick chimney, that hold the soul of these antique things that we cherish so dearly — the knowing that others, before us, built and loved the very frames of these things makes for a little holiness in unexpected places.  I like to roll down the highway in my silver truck with our Airstream following us like a glad puppy dog, the smudge of gleam it leaves behind in every landscape, the way it refracts exploration.  There’s more history being made with every mile we roll over now.  I wonder, sometimes, how often the previous owners had their nails painted red (I want to dress like a cute little 50s housewife in floral print, suede and a silk scarf to hold my hair out of the tussle of the wind), how often a they craned their necks to watch the brilliance of transitional cottonwoods along stony flanked, brimming rivers, how often they looked out the windows as they raced trains over wide distances, whether or not they sighed at the beauty of a ponderosa pine and tamarack forest in fall.  Oh glories!  Oh, take to the highway!

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Back in my darling little house now, there is the grandiose pleasure of cooking on a gas range in beautiful pots and frying pans (oh, the simple pleasures), our view of Scout Mountain lightly crusted with a dribble of snow, long hot baths in the morning with randomly selected books from my various book shelves and hot coffee made with water that boils on the stove top in four minutes instead of twenty.  There’s the comfort of the glorious mattress we have on our tall, tall bed!  I can barely make myself rise in the morning, it’s like I slept all the summer in the rolling curves of a canoe (I grew used to feeling rumpled and kinked)!  I can’t even imagine leaving my little house again in six short months when a new fire season presents itself, so I don’t look that far ahead.  Today, I begin to patch and prime my studio space before I paint it tomorrow.  I’m looking forward to fresh new starts in my holy little territories.  Being away from everything has made it all the more dear.

I hope you’re well, little spruce beetles.  More soon.

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