between here and there

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the gold season


bambi preparing for the last drive of 2014

bambi preparing for the last drive of 2014

the fall days are here. As a matter of fact, they are glorious days in October that are warm and sunny. Anyone a local, knows these days are limited. They will come again, but not before a long stretch of cold, white winter. For me, the coming cold also means shutting down my bambi airstream. Its a sad day that suggests I won’t be rolling down the highway with camper in tow any time soon. But there is always that dream that some free time will show up along with clean roads. And I will hook up the rig and head out….dreaming is important.  Dreaming is where magic is born.

So, until the next time, I will dream of the next trips, and love the day I have today. Golden leaves blowing from branches across the yard and a dog that really, really wants to go out and hike.


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What We Eat


Food. What I eat has been a long preoccupation. Long before Michael Pollan gained fame with his book “Second Nature” I was fascinated with food and eating. I am not exactly sure why, I guess it seems to bring the world into perspective for me. The tastes of food tie me to an experience and a place. They are specific, like scents that can bring you back to a place or memory when you smell something in particular.

When I was thirteen I chose to celebrate my birthday at an herb farm that was out in the country in Texas. When I think back to this event, I marvel that there was such a place in Texas, and that I wanted to celebrate my young teen birthday there. No wonder the kids in high school looked at me strange. I was and am strange. The choice of eating at the herb farm was not only for the food, but for the experience. The experience of eating, the celebration with friends, and the place. It was a marvelous place of gardens and green houses. It was architecture tied with food. And maybe that is where architecture and food tied together for me for the first time.

Since that birthday I have remained engaged with food and eating. How it is prepared, where it is grown or produced, differences in spice and deviations relative to the place. I have years of specific memories of eating. I have a collective of experiences of growing food and then learning how to cook with what I have grown. And today I am thinking about how food, eating and growing is becoming a discussion point for sustainability.

If you have been a student at Remote Studio you know that cooking and eating communal meals is an important aspect of the semester. I intentionally integrated cooking and eating into the program because of my belief that how and what we eat is critical to a whole and potentially best lived life. It enriches us, it grounds us, it defines place. It is celebratory, it can give meaning to events, it provides memories and ultimately helps us share our lives with others.

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The Fully Lived Life

We never really know how long we have on Earth. Such an obvious statement. But I have noticed the older I get the more intense this statement is . I dont know what goes on in everybody else’s head, but in mine everyday it seems like I have to make more choices for the things I will let go of in life, the things I will never get to do, in order to spend more time in life on a select few. About a decade ago I recognized the fact that there were so many books I wanted to write, businesses I wanted to start, buildings to design, students to educate, jewelry to design, places to live or visit ….but frustrated in realizing that there was not enough time in my life to do them all. The challenge has been making choices for the experiences and challenges I most want to pursuit and then to pursuit them without regret. It’s not easy to slip past regret or worry if I am making the best choices.

It’s simpler for us to look at others and value the things they have done, the path, and the richness in their life. Not just the big public things, but the personal living. This is the hitch I have been thinking about. The loss of the everyday experiences, those things we believe we have the rest if our lives for .

This week the Earth and it’s Earthlings lost Ben Bullington. He will be missed by thousands of people for a thousand different reasons. All of these reasons contribute to his legacy, the mark he left on others.

I don’t have any anecdote for his passing before we all wished he would go. I know his soul lives on. I know he left an impression on me from the few times we crossed paths and from his music.

Mostly I am taking stock of life , it’s fragility, it’s speed, it’s fullness, its heartbreak, and how we choose to participate , how I choose to participate, today and tomorrow….


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Coming Home


I lived in Jackson Hole, almost full-time for a few years. Today I live most of the year in Bozeman, Montana. I’m still in between. It seems that in between is my life mantra. I am somewhere between feeling twenty-something somedays and the age I really am on other days. I am between figuring out who I am am what I really should be doing with my life. I am all days living an adventure between where I was yesterday and where I will be tomorrow. Being where I am today. I wrote this piece a little over a year ago. When I was mostly living in Jackson Hole,

It’s more than a little Intimidating if you want to be a writer and you live in the shadows of those who have inspired your life and your interest in writing. They, who have succeeded literary rapture and moved people to both action and tears. They who have inspired me along the path that has become my life.

So where does one start when it seems like all the most inspiring thoughts have been recorded? How could there be anything to add? Perhaps there is a little space to be found in the words that is simply a life more ordinary. A place with words carved out somewhere between the world class extreme athletes and the mega-rich who live in the town I almost accidentally find myself.

Depending on who meets me, and where they meet me, many comment that I am from some other place, not their place, but another place than where I am at the time. And that describes how I exist. Between places. I feel comfortable in most, but seem to make others feel uncomfortable because I am not living in their “place.”

This past year I adopted Ray La Montagne’s record, Til the Sun Turns Black, as my daily experiential sound track. Especially during those times when I am almost alone, and have time to feel around within myself, where it is that I have momentarily landed. There seems to be almost nothing else that grounds me. This ephemeral ground seems like gossamer lace instead of simple, solid, reliable dirt. Delicate to sight, feeling almost weightless.

I have dreamed of lives on sail boats, and in cabins that are not mine. I have spent nights at high mountain altitudes, on desert floors, along rushing, flooded rivers and creeks. I have awoke to snow on top of my tent fly so heavy it rested on top of my body like a winter blanket. I have slept through storms of wind and rain that raked my tent nearly flat to the ground.

I have endured my worst mosquito experience ever this last year during an overnight trip into the wind river range. An experience so heinous that afterwards I practically ran from the thought of Mosquitos and recoiled from the least notion of a mosquito landing on a my skin. The mosquitoes brought about the feeling of the need to flee that I have not felt since I was assaulted on the streets of new York city twenty plus years ago. All of these experiences are experiences of my home. That place that most of us spend our lives closing the doors and windows against.

Most recently the place where I have felt the earth lie still under me is a 19 foot Bambi airstream. I know, to most where I live must seem the opposite of “grounded.” how do we find stillness in something that is designed to move.

I think about my life along roads, trails, rivers, canyons, and ridges. Along levees and bayous. Along snow covered trails and salt crusted lakes. Along the remains of rivers, now lost to the final closing of the force of gravity and speed across the land. I hear the avalanches of spring give way from the icy cornice above, where thunder sounds like a rolling sound of a drum. Where birds call out to their lovers, their mates. And beavers slap the surface of still water and fish reach beyond the water’s surface in the chase for larvae on the way to becoming a fly. Where alligator’s tails remind me that the water in which they lie is their’s, not mine. Where ducks flying above water sound like jets racing across the open Sky. Where blue, red, and purple dragon flies land on rocks, lily pads and grass stems. Power blue moths in posse’s alight upon the puddled remains of a summer rain.

Here I sit in a cabin light on it’s feet over a lake in Louisiana that at one time was part of the Acahafalyaya river. Ray La Montagne’s “truly, madly, deeply” mirrors the loveliness and the deep sadness of life today. A box in shape, nicely accessorized to cook and sleep. But in the end, it is a box. The wall facing the water belongs to the long edge of the box. With windows and a door in the center. And though I know, I still ask myself, where does that door go to? Surely not the halting humid beauty that lies outside. Certainly no door, so thoughtlessly laid out when being framed, so banal and seemingly without true purpose, will lead me to a world that is rich beyond our ability to fully see and measure. A world that holds my passion, love and interest? How could we commit to such a shallow salutation to the beauty that is the world?

Years ago, when I led my first immersion education program to a group of willing college students I wanted to visit a place described in a Robert Earl Keen song. The question was if it was truly real, or just a fiction. Or if the place was real, but the experience described was fiction. I found the place he names on a map and decided that the opportunity to live the moment he describes in song could be real.

Off we go in two SUVs across the Texas wilderness of sand, rock, cactus, hot sun and washed out trails and arroyos. Warm earth colors bleached by the bright sunshine we head south to the border that separates Texas from Mexico. As we come close to where the Rio Grande runs the landscape changes to tall straight cane. A forest of vertical green. The air changes from arid to moisture filled. The ground is all a silty sand. Driving down a two-track path we arrive at a small beaten down clearing. Simply a hole carved in the cane to park a few cars. We leave the cars and hope they will still be in the clearing when we return. The humidity in the air is almost choking when combined with the heat. On the edge of the clearing is a small foot path heading south. It’s not far and we reach the waters edge. Even before seeing the water we can hear the voices of men calling out to us. Asking how many people we have. We emerge from the cane forest to see two men polling across the water using the beds of pickup trucks welded shut as their boats.

We tell them our count, they yell back “two dollars per person.” That is a round trip fee, paid up front in case we decide not to return to the U.S. I am wary, but also wondering. And we have just made a half day drive to find this place. I consider the fact that we can all swim, and that the current of the silty water of the Rio Grande seems slow. We pay the money and pile into the two truck beds. I watch the beds go lower into the water until the top edge of the beds are only about 2″ above the water surface. I don’t think I said a prayer, but It probably would have been a good idea.

In a few moments we were floating across the rio grande to Mexico. Once on the other side there were a few mexicans with donkeys waiting for us. For another few dollars we could have a donkey ride to the village. We preferred to walk and I asked the donkey guides if we simply needed to follow the path up to the village. They nodded their heads, yes.

Up the path we went to the village. The air changed again from hot and humid to hot and dry. By the time we made it to the little ridge above the river we were entering the village. Mostly enclosures that were open to the air. Worn and weathered the same color of the dirt. We turned a corner and there was the bar. The bar Keen sang of? Who could really know. But it was the only bar we saw, and we were thirsty. I did not realize when we left how truly thirsty we would be when we arrived at the bar. Water was not an option. So coke was the choice.

We sat at the old wooden tables keeping distance from each other so that our sweat would remain on our bodies and not drip on our neighbor’s. A young child came through selling art pieces she had made from garbage and discarded plastic. I think they were different shaped bugs. A man sat in the threshold of the back door smoking weed. This was the life on the other side of the river. The reality of the song Keen wrote about. We drank our coke and walked out of the bar, down the dusty road and back to the boats waiting to take us home. Home to the U.S. , home to the cars on the other side.

We drifted back across the silty river. We breathed the sun, heat, and humidity in. We smelled the cane as we came close to the river bank. The road goes on forever, as Keen sings….It’s always home.

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Living the gray


Revelations arise through many avenues. Sometimes they come quietly when we are on our own, until bam! The power for potential change is revealed. Sometimes it is our friends who point out an obvious quality in ourselves we fail to recognize on our own. Or maybe we know this quality but we simply do not give it much thought, because we simply are who we are.

I credit a friend to the recent consideration of my “black and white” point of view. Is it too extreme? Am I missing out on other possibilities in life because choices, positions and decisions seem so clearly “to be” or “not to be”? And it’s not that I align myself with anyone else’s sense of black and white, right or wrong. I simply have my own point of view.

I know this practice and way of seeing the world serves professional accomplishments. But what is the outcome for our personal lives when we are living within the mushiness of another’s sense of the world, timing and spirit ? The either/or view of the world seems ultimately Limiting when living in relation to another. Even when looking from the outside with respect to social conventions of what’s acceptable behavior, the over simplification of choice , when taken to the extreme “good” or “bad” seems never rich enough for life’s unfolding expression. Perhaps the black and white of choice is a matter of survival when we find ourselves on a tricky path.

The last month or so I have been challenging my decision process , stretching choice between black and white to feel what living in the gray is like. Gray is certainly a more muddy, less clear sense of reality than I normally choose. Gray gives us longer to consider choices. Living the gray broadens the sense of understanding in the world. And it can reassign the poles of black and white with other truths. Living the gray is messy, more inclusive, less simple. Living the gray is like singing a note and holding it as long as possible to feel what that note can become as it is sung.

Living the gray is living in a world where past limits fall away to new truths. Where the separation between earth, water, and air vanishes.


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Day Falling

end of day sun

end of day sun

When does house become home? When we build it, furnish it, decorate it? spend a season or years in it? Cook, clean and make “to-do” lists in it? Make the beds and hang the art? Listen to music or make the music that dwells between the walls? When we live time in it? Make memories and love in it? Leave it and return?

I knew this once. Where to find home. Home came easy. Seemed easy when I was younger. Now I look for home everywhere and it seems to be nowhere. Home is peace. I think home must be when I breath in and out. I must practice. Breathing in and out. And maybe then home will appear before me in the time between breaths.

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love and landscape

Summer is here in Gallatin Valley and we race to meet it before it passes.

I had a hike up the Gallatin Mountain trail this evening. The valley below tells its story of the day. The fields of mature seed-heads, be it weeds or wheat are dry and brittle. The waterways move down-land in curls of green trees, flowering plants and berries. Heat rises into the smoky haze of the sky. I stood and looked over the valley, its beauty, and thought of our briefness. The moment passes into memory, then a poem, moving on to remembrance of another women’s life.

The poem, “To An Athlete Dying Young,” belongs to A. E. Housman…. it is the poem’s end that lives in my memory:

And round that early-laurelled head 
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered onits curls

The garland briefer than a girl’s.

I look across the valley floor before me, the valley of Africa – only ever an experienced in film – is recovered from a memory gained years ago. I am now thinking about Isak Dinesen and the path her love took when living in Africa. The years of love for one man known. The path of friend recognized through as many experiences as could be taken or allowed, life-long lover, loss and longing, patience, and ultimately the arrival of perfect timing. Dinesen must have thought the universe played some cruel joke when her lover was killed on his way to her as she waited one windblown day. Looking to the valley floor below I see the plain of Africa. Windswept and dusty. Dry and fearless.

Timing is the universe’s folly. From its space we live together or apart. In response to our inability to control time we often choose limitations instead of taking the opportunities that are living with us. Dennison was a brave person to choose love with imperfect timing. She chose a dynamic life, ever changing, never definite, discoverable but not pre-known.

Love and landscape. Memory and timing. Living and bravery. Life speeds by and with the closing of the night our head hits pillow. Timing. The moment passes to years before the morning comes.

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Fodder for Fire

whats left over

whats left over


The snow has melted in Jackson Hole. Debris from tearing down a structure and building two Remote Studio projects show us that even conscientious builders produce more waste than we would aspire to. Separating out materials again: plywood, larger nominal members, caustic materials, and finally everything that could transform into firewood for heat this fall and winter.

the work

the work

How many times can scraps from one project be re-purposed for a next use? The next use no less graceful than the previous if the material finally finds purpose.

ready for winter

ready for winter