2009 May Archive | Amber Jean

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Monthly Archives: May 2009

Rotten wood, good ribs, and a two-seater

Friday May 22

Woke to 6 a.m. sunshine and the promising feeling of a summer day when summer days are still fresh and new on the tail of winter and mixed up spring weather. So many possibilities! Cliffs to climb, trails to ride, peaks to summit, grass to roll in, wild flowers to witness, baby animals to “ooh” over, ice cream to eat, and margaritas to drink.
But I had to work….a real job…not studio time or desk/business/marketing time…just plain labor and “pay per hour” kind of work. Lucky for me the work involved my handsome boyfriend and a shipping container full of reclaimed wood in a beautiful part of Montana just a valley or two away….could be interesting anyway. We picked up a skid steer on our way out of town, sipped hot drinks and drove.
The reclaimed wood came from Florida…mushy, moldy, and rotten…most of it anyway. A few painted boards and a rare slightly carved piece caught my eye but none of it belonged to me. We labored while the dogs played in a nearby pond. Late afternoon we cleaned up a bit and had dinner at the sweet old Willowcreek Café. Super sweet. A rusty red old tandem bicycle leaned against the porch post out front. Haunting and compelling, the old bike invited plenty of conjecture. No doubt plenty have sat astride the broad worn out seats…young couples oozing sexuality and hyper-awareness…sweet slow loving old couples…giggling children… drunk cowboys yip’ing and hollering on a good natured dare… maybe even a bright-eyed shining pair of newlyweds? Stanley G West mentioned the bike in his book “Blind Your Ponies” (highly recommended read). We enjoyed a few drinks and home style ribs before driving off into the sunset, up the Jefferson River to pitch a tent and camp in the moonlight and cactus with the dogs.

Selway River

Momma Nature has unleashed spring. The Yellowstone River is engorged like an overfed snake winding through town and the valley below my cabin. I was actually supposed to be on the Selway River right now. I was lucky enough to draw a permit. A dozen river rat friends and I put in for permits every year but Selway permits are rare. Second only to the Grand Canyon trip on the Colorado River, the Selway is extremely difficult to get a permit for. Only one group is allowed to launch each day. The wilderness river is a classic challenge very few are priviledged to attempt. Only fifty percent of the lucky people awarded a permit actually get to launch since river conditions must be carefully monitored. Seven years ago I was the only girl to join a group of guys on an early season Selway river trip. Two days into the trip, spring run-off coupled with high mountain thunderstorms raised the river three feet overnight. FLOOD STAGE. We camped on the edge of the raging river and waited. Huge rocks made the rumbling sound of thunder and vibrated the earth beneath our feet as they rolled in the strong current. Giant trees tumbled like twigs in the tumultuous murky ice cold water. Each morning we hiked to the rapids below our camp, tucked our tails, and returned to camp. We actually hiked to high country one afternoon carrying hammocks to nap away from the loud fury of river sound. Seeking whitewater high adrenaline thrills, we found ourselves in awe of the river and actually more rested up and relaxed in the forced stand still. I literally watched snails move on blades of grass in the early morning sun, ate chocolate covered raisons and drank wine in the middle of the day while reading out loud.
Eventually I packed a small fanny pack and hiked 20-something miles downriver out of the wilderness and back to civilization. The boys waited out the flood…for weeks…before giving up and flying out. They returned by small plane many weeks later to get the rafts and gear.
So…I have floated part of the infamous Selway River. Someday luck and Momma Nature might give me another chance. Meanwhile, I am glad for the spring and the moisture. Right now rain is pelting my metal roof; the forest floor is gratefully and greedily quenching it’s thirst, and I am reveling in the lush life-full green.

Animal Shelter Donation

Livingston has an exceptional animal shelter.


Each year they host the "Fur Ball" to raise money.
Jon Ellen Snyder wrote on Facebook about the two artworks I donated to the Stafford Animal Shelter. "They were both BIG hits! Thank you so much!!! You helped us raise lots of money for the Shelter and we appreciate your generosity VERY VERY MUCH!!!"
I’m always glad when my artwork is "adopted" into loving homes…but especially glad when the art helps a good cause.

Thank-you Rarig Family

May 18th


What a wonderful family…ALL of you! Your kindness causes my heart to bloom with warmth, enriched with the vigor of a sunbeam. What a gift and a treat to be here in this comfortable ocean abode. The history of this place can be felt: the hard work…the love…the focus on fun, family, Mother Nature and community. I feel blessed that you shared the place with LizAnn and I.
My life is enriched by your kindness…and the ocean…and the deep sleep nights. I am held by the sound of the waves. The ocean rubs the shore during the calm nights like an expecting mother rubs her growing belly. Infinite love and life-giving fill the sound…a consistent lullaby wrapped in life.
Ocean energy whooshes through my soul with a crisp clear embracing mother love. Good stuff. Hearty healthy pure and easy feel-good lightness…like the immediate “done my body good” feeling one gets after drinking a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. Pure vitamin-rich jolt of from-the-source energy. The air is full of it. Gulp and grin.
Jack and Ginnie, the love you share for each other and your children along with your vigor for life is inspiring. You “DONE GOOD.” Nick, Chris, and Steve are boys to brag about and I’ve no doubt Nancy follows suite. Your friendship, support, and love have given LizAnn a real boost on her journey. I am full of gratitude (and steak, and ribs, and twice-baked potatoes, and avocados, birthday cake, and wine…!)
Fat seals with whiskers, sea otters with old man faces, whales spouting…and I hear there were dolphins and turtles too! I love the sea creatures. Please know that anyone of the Rarigs is welcome in my humble Montana cabin home where you may see a bear, moose, deer, elk, mountain lions, or other small mountain critters.
I will blow one last kiss to the ocean before boarding a plane. Hugs and a heartfelt thanks to each of you!

Expanded connection

May 15th

Five days without being “connected” to the internet world. Oceanside. Sweet sunshine…crisp cool sea breeze…seals with whiskers…whales spouting…waves lapping…blue sky…exotic plants…fresh fish…new friends.

“Rabbit Red”


May 10th
mixed media paper painting
Shipping to Jackson Hole this week to a beautiful woman with a colorful life and vivid dreamworld…great place for this dreamie bunny…!

Sheetrock and Sunshine

May 9th

BIG bright sky, beautiful morning, buds blooming…and a job putting up 4’x 12′ sheetrock with a handsome partner.

“Berry Bird”


May 8th
mixed media paper painting
Going to live with a collector in Clyde Park Montana

Off Balance

Juggling a job and my own art/business/writing world has thrown me into overdrive. Ten hour days working in the world of construction sandwiched between my own creative and business life has given me a butt-kicking. I am not complaining. Honestly I believe my butt needed a bit of the “boot.” One thing I realize is how much I miss physical labor and how much I simply must work with my hands. I have been studio-less for too many years. No matter my financial circumstances, I must clear a path and find a place for sculpture making.
The first few days on the job made me down right grumpy. I have not worked for someone in that capacity for a decade and a half. The project is a remodel of a poorly built house. I have a thing about how things are constructed; very little patience and no respect for cheap materials and bad construction. The bad mood was replaced with cheery gratitude for a job and the simple satisfaction of working with my hands.
I scrambled to put in 15 hours on a grant application last week. The online application was uploaded 14 minutes before the midnight deadline on May 1st.
I am thankful for a chance to earn some much needed cash. Still, I long to be playfully painting the small works on paper again….

“July” – mixed media monotype




– to the beautiful miss Diedre Quinn…fits her colorful character and soulfulness…