Photo Round Up (between here and there and everywhere else)

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Holy and Unhabitual

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I took the long way to work this morning, a total of 15 driving miles instead of 5.  It’s not the best use of fossil fuels but I find driving extremely freeing and sometimes I simply need to take the long road to get to where I am going.  I sip my coffee slowly in the truck, roll the windows down so the dogs can taste the wind with their long tongues, play my music loud and shake my hair as we swoop around the corners and cowboy wave and the neighbors.  It makes me feel limber and relaxed so when I get to work, I am ready to get to work. I find my holiest habits aren’t truly habitual.  Not really at all.

I am working my way through Trust The Process at the moment and one chapter addresses the idea of changing up daily rituals in order to keep work fresh and progressive, down to silly things like employing non-dominant hands in the middle of work to engage the opposite side of the brain!  Some folks thrive on a day to day regimen but I find I work best when I approach my days exploratively, when I let them, to a certain degree, carry me.  I like to be adrift.  I like to see where the path leads, I thrive on the looseness of intuitive wandering and the freedom therein.  I try to be gentle to my sense of time.

A wise friend once told me that it’s ungrateful to complain about time, its structure, the seeming lack of it on certain days.  It dishonors those who have lived short lives.  I thought, as I drove this morning, about one of the firefighters who died a few days ago on the Twisp River Fire here in the Methow — he was twenty years old.  Just a baby.  So far, I’ve been given thirteen more years of life than he was given.  I am spoiled with time.

Time is on my side.

Something else I am practicing in the studio these days is physically moving, as much as possible.  I am working past a layer of something that is like scar tissue or knots in my creative muscles — muscles that are crackling with seized up fascia; in need of stretching, movement, healing, loosening, a massive tearing down so they can be built back up into a place of flexibility and power once more.  Putting on a song that gets my body moving in between batches of tiny solders and hours of delicate piercing work feels fantastic.  Sometimes I stick a huge piece of paper up on the wall, grab a pencil or a handful of pastels, shut my eyes and simply usher the medium over the paper while I move to music.  I make motions.  I make marks.  I open my eyes when the song is finished and see what the music made my body do.

I don’t really care what folks think of these mad methods, all I know is somehow, they are doing something to me and I feel myself creatively re-opening right now, or at least loosening to the the point of being open to openness.

I’ve been hell bent on setting stones the past few days, re-connecting with work that is clean and made powerful by accuracy, simple mastery of the medium and speed.  There will be time when I settle down into working deeper than this but it seems like reattaching myself to the glorious mechanics and science of metal work and soldering is important right now.  So I am allowing myself time for very basic designs that feature beautiful stones in simple settings.

Clean, bright work.

Last week, after I expressed concern to a friend about the smoothness of my re-immersion into the studio and metalwork, she said, “I just looked through all your photos because I miss your damn face.  It’s been fun to see your growth in photography but don’t let it stifle your metalsmithing.  You are talented at both and it’s good to learn to feed both mediums.  I love you.”

And she’s right.  And it was what I needed to hear.  I am working hard and fostering both right now and am dismantling the feeling that I often have of neglecting one for the sake of the other.7I9A0958

 The promise of autumn is written in the stars and draped in swaths of cold dew on the lawns in the morning now.  Can you feel it where you are?  We’re making our winter plans, finding a place to live once the fire season is over, imagining how sweet it will be to feel the wind in our faces as we hunt birds behind the dogs and curl up with books by a warm fireplace.  The end of the fire season is near and I’ll miss it when it’s gone, like I have every time before this, like I will every time after this.

What we have here in the Methow has become family.  At the firefighter memorial on the weekend, I sat in a sea of broad shoulders and shaggy hair, I sat holding Rob’s hand, and I thought, “This is my immediate fire family and we really are just like a family.  Some of these people are like brothers to me, some are weird, some I plainly do not understand or particularly like, but we’re a family, I love them all and we will always have each other, come rain or sun, come hell or high water.”

And I thought that was a really beautiful thing.

Metal and Assorted Sundries

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IMG_1145IMG_1127IMG_1111 IMG_1104 IMG_1103 IMG_1070IMG_1043IMG_1055IMG_1062I’ve been chipping away at a series out in the studio that is, quite naturally, fly fishing inspired.  I seem to come up with a fishy kind of series in August most years so this is not out of the ordinary for me.  You may remember this series from last summer, which continued into part of the winter and then transmogrified into the Adaptation Series.  It’s so fun to throw my hands up in the air and see where the work leads me!

The results of this new series have been delicate, robust, colorful and whimsical.  There is more to come but I’d like to get the first batch of work in the shop for you tomorrow morning so stay tuned for that!

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Robert has been home!  Only for a week long visit.  It’s been a mighty good time.  I’ve been quite focused on him, as you might imagine, but also on us and working hard to heal up the tiny cracks that make their way across the surface of the heart during fire season when we are apart for long stretches.  It has been difficult for us this summer, as it is every summer, the distance has felt enormous, life has been over-full.

Rob will leave for work again tomorrow and then it will be one short month before we begin our off-season together.  We’re making plans and this winter is going to be a good one.

We were up at nearly 9000ft last night and the air was FRIGID.  Can you feel the nip of autumn in the air where you are?  September and October are magnificent months to be Idahoan.  Warm days.  Fresh nights.  The scrub maple begins to burn red in the draws on the mountain, the aspen and cottonwood grow yellow with the frosts.  It’s beautiful here and on the brink of being beautiful-er yet.  I know you can say the same.

Hang tight!  There’s more on the way.

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IMG_8562IMG_8543IMG_8905Lately, when I am able to find a moment to spend in the studio, I love the work so much.  I can feel myself pressing into the metal, more than I have in the past year, really bearing down on it with my mind and heart, slowly carving out new work while my thoughts and feelings gently unwind, untangle, surface and fade.

These pieces of metal and stone are bright and easy for the making and the wearing.  Imbued with a zest for life and respect for rhythms.  Let me make a few more and then I’ll gladly offer them up to you.

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Winning

IMG_7569I’ve reached the point wherein I am very, very fire season tired.  I’ll get a second and third and fourth and fifth wind.  I always do.  But for the moment, I am tired and waiting on that breeze, that thing to loft my wilted feathers and carry me skyward.

I stayed in bed this morning until 10AM simply because I felt ill equipped to face the day, the week…the month.  This month and August were not supposed to be like this.  I was supposed to relish spacious living, room to roam the backcountry with my fly rod in hand and my dogs at my heels, daily ten mile runs, watering the gardens in the cool of 9PM while sipping a gin and tonic after a decent day of work…

That moment when life takes drastic turns in a thousand different directions is when we fire wives (and otherwise) prove our fortitude, when we prove what we are made of, as humans; I’m in the thick of a proving ground right now.  I feel undignified, savage, scrambling, scruffy, exhausted.  I told a friend today that I just have to keep on doing everything I’m doing because if I let everything come to rest, I’ll never get it all up in the air again.  That loss of momentum is such a killer.  I’m sure some of you can relate, fire wife or not.  I just keep telling myself, “Don’t stop.  The burden of it all will thin out eventually and then you’ll see the benefit of hard work.  Keep pushing through it all.  Fix what is broken.  Make what you can.  Feed yourself good food.  Relax as deeply as you can once the sun goes down.  Answer the emails with authentic joy.  Keep saying yes.”

I simply must keep it all up in the air, orbiting and swirling at lofty heights.  I’ll break a thousand fecund sweats keeping it all there, but the effort boasts a greater result than the alternative.

I made it into the studio around 4PM today.  I didn’t get much done, but I was there, I made it.  I fought the chaotic trajectory of the day with all my might and I won.  I’m going to do it again tomorrow and then the day after that, because in the summer, this what I do, I fight hard and I win.