And so a week came and went.

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A lot can happen in a week.  I said yes to a last minute shoot in Northern Washington two Fridays ago and buzzed all over Idaho, Montana and Washington on the way to and from the job.  I didn’t mind the driving because I was in a mood to see fresh country.  The shoot was beautiful, in a lovely location at a ranch on top of a mountain.  It was horse heaven.  The crew was good company.  It was a great time.  I was modeling on this job, not shooting, which is occasionally an uncomfortable thing for me.  I have to deal with some self-consciousness in front of a camera (which might come as a surprise to you since I use myself as a subject so often).  I think the best models tend to be vain — or aware of their physical beauty.  I just feel awkward, crooked and strange looking most of the time.  That said, my favorite thing about modeling these past two years has been how much I have learned from the photographers I am being photographed by!  There are so many tidbits to absorb.  It’s a great learning experience for me and I put into practice the trade secrets I have learned on a regular basis.  Being around great photographic talent tends to breed new skills in me, if I maintain awareness and ask questions (and I’m never afraid to ask questions).  Anyway, great crew, great location, stunning horses and a great all around time was had on that shoot.  I’m glad I said yes.

After we wrapped, I drove the Columbia to the Spokane to the Coeur d’Alene to the Clark Fork to the Bitterroot to the Lochsa to the Clearwater to the Salmon to the Little Salmon and then I was suddenly home in McCall.  It’s a marvelous thing to follow roads that bend in synchrony to the will of a river.  It’s one of the few times in life I allow myself to joyfully follow the path of least resistance.

I stopped here and there on the trip home: coffee with a girlfriend in Missoula, fishing pocket water here and there on the Lochsa and Clearwater, pausing to watch the salmon spawn (rotting and exhausted from the strain of their endeavor — dead and gone on the banks of the river, eyes in the bellies of birds), breakfast in a shabby diner or two, sleeping fitfully in my tent on the edge of a rapid (rain staccato on the fly of the tent, logging trucks grinding at high speeds through the black of night)…

I like to lallygag.  I like to forget about the destination and slowly make my way through the journey, exploring whenever I can.  My friends and family know to expect I’ll arrive in their homes or at our meeting places anywhere from two hours late to three days late and I’m unapologetic about it.  It’s how I stay in touch with everything around me.  It’s how I stay in touch with my curiosity.  It’s how I ask questions and find answers.  I arrive when I am good and ready and not a moment before.

I’m off to hunt for elderberries here in the beautiful, autumnal Payette region.  Robert comes off a fire this evening and I can’t wait to see him.  I’ll plan a nice dinner for two in the Airstream and maybe even pick up a tiny tub of ice cream and a nice bottle of gin for him.  We’ll probably stay up late dreaming about what do with the farm and ourselves in the next couple of days, months, years.  I love this time of year.   Autumn is for dreamers.

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Between Here and There

7I9A8731 7I9A8748 7I9A8756 7I9A8759 7I9A8763 7I9A8772 7I9A8783 7I9A8788 7I9A8796 7I9A8801 7I9A8807I’ve been here and there an on the in-between but let me mention the important things:

  1.  I switched thyroid medication in November.  I NEVER talk about my thyroid disease in this space because I have never wanted to market myself and my work with my disease.  However, let me say, I feel alive and awake and wildly vigorous for the first time in a handful of years.  I am naturally a tremendously energetic individual so I am not even remotely sure how to describe my current transformation or RESTORATION of self.  I feel so good.  I do not wish to discuss the specifics of my thyroid treatment or diagnosis in the comment section here so please don’t ask for specifics…just know that I am very well for the first time in a long while.  Boy howdy.  I am well.
  2. Christmas and the new year brought a gaggle of friends to the strawbale house and it was a rich time that we cherished with all our hearts.  This house is remote.  We sold our home in Pocatello with the great regret of leaving our friends there.  We have seen SO much of our people though, since the end of the fire season, that I feel hyper-stimulated socially.  To boot, we have managed to lock ourselves into the neighbor-hub here on the Snake River and have been engaging fully with the locals.  They are a wonderful, eclectic mix of folk and we are blessed to be part of their realm.  This section of the Snake River has a rich bohemian history rooted in the rotation and habitation of a handful of famous artists and we also boast the only Frank Lloyd Wright house in all of Idaho.  It’s true!  I hope to see it in person some day but in the meanwhile, I have met the owner of the house and he is lovely and a writer and an architecture enthusiast and fascinating (from a distance), to boot.  I always want to know people immediately but I know that not everyone operates like me, with the immediacy of easy vulnerability and unguardedness so I try to rein myself in and offer myself in a more normal-rate-of-knowingness.  Man.  It’s a task.  I’m a beast.  I’m a beast of open-booked-ness.
  3. I rode a Peruvian Paso horse today by the name of Fabrio.  He had a mane and forelock like an ocean and it was immediate love at first stride.  No one can comprehend how desperately I crave a horse of my own these days.  No one.  Not even Robert, who knows me best of all.  It’s a sharp ache in me.  We work on assuaging the issue on a regular basis, which is to say we keep our eyes and hearts open for the right horse, but it’s so hard to decide between breeds and I am a passionate believer in breeds.  I have bird dogs and have seen their instincts and bloodlines at work.  It’s a serious thing, a breed.  Not for fashion, but for life purpose and a blessed destiny and partnership with a human.  I believe in it.  I lean heavily towards the BLM Mustang but am terribly interested in gaited horses, as well.  Bottom line:  I want a horse I can ride immediately and grow into and with.  I want a sturdy horse.  I want a horse that can take me up mountains, ride me into my elk hunts, and be my good friend when Robert is away fighting fires.  It’s a lot to want but I know there is an animal out there that can fulfill my needs and that I can give back to, equally.  Oh, but how long, how long must I endure this waiting.
  4. Lord, give me a horse.
  5. We are listening to Neko Case on vinyl tonight and it is glorious.  Also, we have been listening to Jewel’s “Lullaby” album non-stop (which might be her most beautiful selection of songs of all time).  I must also mention Rose Cousins with whom I am utterly besotted.  If I did not mention her, it would be a true crime.  A true crime.
  6. I continue reading my way through Hemingway which was a summertime goal, if you can recall, to make my way through his novels…it continues to be a great pleasure.
  7. We’ve been on an old film kick here and it has been AMAZING!!!!!!!!  Well, there was Cleopatra with Liz taylor, then Suddenly, Last Summer, A Place in the Sun, River of No Return (with Marilyn) (oh my gosh, what a creature she is), The Moon-Spinners (with Hayley — who we LOVE)…………to say the least, I truly do adore the way people used to act.  I mean the overacting, the costumes, the makeup, the seamed tights, the ballgowns, the eyelashes, the enunciation, the suggested sex scenes that leave SO MUCH more to the imagination, the platinum hair…oh man, I want to dye my hair white right now.  When is the last time you watched old films?  They’re such a wonderful departure from current cinema which seems so redundant at times, replete with remakes and a complete lack of imagination.
  8. We saw the new Star Wars and we loved it.  Have you seen it?  What did you think?
  9. The spring is already beginning to shape up and by shape up I mean absolute insanity is about to break lose in my life with regards to shoot schedules, trips, Rob’s early season work in the southeast and studio work.  In the midst of all of that, I am trying to figure out new directions in work — my freelance photography continues to evolve and the month of January will bring on a bit of a re-branding campaign for The Noisy Plume.  I don’t know how to fit everything in so I just keep on doing the best I can.  I just keep on feeling it out, like I have been for nine years now.  I don’t know what else to do.  The learning curve with all of this is absolutely eternal.  I never wind up on top.  There’s always something new bearing down on me from around the next corner.  I don’t know what else to do but do my very best.  When I lay down to sleep at night, I let everything go…with a flutter of eyelashes and deep breaths and an arm wrapped around Robbie’s ribs.
  10. January brings such cold, blue, clarity.  How the heck are you?

These Halcyon Days (In No Particular Order)

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With the end of the fire season, we rolled out of the Methow Valley of Washington and moved back to Idaho for the winter!  We arrived at the strawbale house two days ago with the Airstream and raft in tow.

The house itself is nearly unpacked, it feels huge to me.  Our bedroom up in the loft boasts more square footage than the entire Airstream.  This is a one room house and only about 800 square feet or so but the spaciousness is luxurious!  Mostly, I like that we don’t feel a need to fill it up.  The scant amount of furniture we had in the Airstream is now the furniture we have in the house.  We bought a couple of tables from a thrift store to use in what will be my studio work space.  But besides that, the house feels like the inside of a drum into which a few seeds have fallen — it’s so easy for us to shake and bounce around.  I like how the space holds a touch of an echo.  I’d like to keep it that way.  The way the light flows through, in and then out again, feels clean, resonant and sacred.

It’s amazing what I grew accustomed to this summer.  You know, it was basically a communal living situation for us on base.  We had the Airstream (which is still unfinished and the further completion of it will be attended to this winter in a serious way) but we shared a public bathroom and mess hall with everyone who lived on base.  I should add, sometimes there were people OTHER than smokejumpers living on base.  Sometimes I woke up in the middle of the night or arrived home late from the studio to find a handful of crews sleeping on the lawn in front of my Airstream or behind it, or beside it — they too, used the facilities as I did.  I got used to a lot of things this summer and some of those life details I liked and some of those life details I tolerated, but I learned about myself and others and friendship and humanity.  It was a great time.

Here, at the strawbale house, it is a heavenly novelty to have a kitchen of my own, pots and pans of my own, a full pantry for food storage instead of a single kitchen cupboard and a shelf in a walk-in fridge.  It’s a novelty to not have to carry a basket of shower implements across a football field length of dewy grass to a public washroom on the other side of the base every morning.  I don’t share laundry machines with anyone.  I don’t keep my towel in a locker.  I can walk around in my undies all day long if I want and how about having my own WIFI connection in my living space so I can actually sit down, any time of day, not just while I am at the studio, and answer the emails that have been rolling in (and mostly unanswered) since the start of August.

How about that?!!

I am slowly righting this ship of life and it’s nice to see things so orderly again…which isn’t saying much because I am generally a very untidy and disorderly person and many of you would be driven fairly insane by the delicious wake of glorious chaos I leave most everywhere I go.  All this is to say, I loved living on base with Robbie in our Airstream this summer.  Now, I’m thrilled to have a place of my own again.

The studio is almost set up.  I’m already romanced dumb by the pounding of the whitewater on the river below the house.  It has been sunny and hot and I’ve grown some new freckles on my nose.  I’ll keep setting life in order here and in the meanwhile, we are packing and preparing for my elk hunt which will commence in a handful of days in the very wildly beating heart of Idaho.

I love this life of ours.

I hope this season you are making your way through is rich as the red leaves on the trees.

7I9A0699IMG_4757 IMG_50107I9A07817I9A07987I9A07857I9A09147I9A0864DSCF1426DSCF14317I9A08987I9A09097I9A0919I was grabbing a coffee yesterday while in Twisp and wound up having a meaningful conversation about the Methow Valley, where it has come from, where it is headed to, and how forest fires play a roll in the going and coming of life here — and in all of the interior West, for that matter.  Fires seem to be the way of the future.

This is the second year in a row that the Methow has burned and while the valley is home to a brilliant community of mountain folk, it is largely economically fueled by tourism.  What will happen to this place when people stop coming because they think it’s no longer beautiful?  What will happen in years to come when summer is literally burned out from under our feet and we are forced to spend August and September mopping up after loss of trees, homes, lives, crops, livestock?  What will happen?  How do we cope?  How do we rebuild?  What have we learned?

I looked out as the mountains were burning last week and I thought, “It’s a little worse for wear, but it’s still ruggedly beautiful.  It will always be beautiful, bless it’s enduring, stony bones.”

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On base, Dan built a swing.  It’s a beautiful swing that hangs low and strong from a pair of locust trees.  Swinging on it is a kind of bliss built of a long, graceful glide that seems like it may never change direction and head back to where it started.  I was swinging on it late last night, searching the sky for stars, hoping their light might pierce through the smoke, and as I watched the trees shift and move beneath the weight of my movement I thought, “They like this.  The trees like this.  They like to have a job.”  I was guilty of downright romantic anthropomorphism in my suspended state — sweeping through thin air like the goddess of wind and stardust.  But it’s true, you know.  We’re just like the trees; counting the years in rings, spending the seasons, eventually ashes to ashes.

It was beautiful last night, swinging.  It was the first time I’ve felt moving air on my face, wind in my hair, in days.  I felt alive and clean.

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Yesterday, I missed a gathering for fire wives in the valley regarding dealing with stress levels and fear (I think that’s what it was about) because I was out fishing and because I didn’t know about it because no one told me about it.  I wish I would have known about it.

Last night, when I found out about it, I told my friend, “Well, you know, I don’t really feel stressed. I feel sad right now. My lungs feel black because of this doggone smoke. But I’m not worried about Robert on the line. I trust that no news is good news. I know he’ll make good decisions out there and that he’ll take care of his brothers; that’s all I can ask him to do. In his absence, I simply have to live fully.”

I’m fishing most mornings, because I can, and because it’s a meditation (casting out over the water).  It’s quiet.  I do my thinking there, hip deep in a prolonged baptism.  Each loop I throw out is a prayer, a forgiveness offered to myself for my own shortcomings, a hope for anger dissolved, gratitude for lessons learned, the stripping away of my fears.  The river is the coolest, flowing-est, loveliest, most consistent thing in the valley and the fish give me something extra to tether my faith to.

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On September 5th I have a group exhibit opening at the Confluence Gallery in Twisp.  I’m delighted.  This is the first exhibit opening I have ever been able to attend (I’ve had to miss everything in the past) wherein my work is part of the show.  You are all invited to attend.

Additionally, on September 19th and 20th, I am happy to announce that I will FINALLY be a part of the Methow Valley open studio tour.  I’ve wanted to be a part of this tour for years now but have never had a studio space that could be easily accessed by the public until this year.  I’ll be opening up my doors to the public, sharing my space, and naturally, I’ve been working on inventory for this event.  I should mention that the Methow Valley is home to an astounding array of incredible artists and it’s an honor to stand shoulder to shoulder with some of them for this studio tour.

Both the studio tour and exhibit opening come at a wonderful time when your support and visit to the Methow will mean the world to the community here.  Please feel free to attend, if you’re in the neighborhood, or not in the neighborhood!  I speak for the entire Methow when I say we’d love to see your shining faces.

 

http://www.thenoisyplume.com/blog/2015/08/27/10470/

Night Lights

7I9A0528 7I9A0534 7I9A0631It’s such an insane juxtaposition…but sometimes there is still beauty in the most terrible things.