2009 August Archive | Amber Jean

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Monthly Archives: August 2009

“Handsome Fella”

This bright cheery bugger shipped to a new patron in Minnesota this week…


How Sweet the Sleep

Ah…a good night’s sleep is a treasure and a treat! Scrumptious. After a round of sleepless nights, when slumber visits and deep sleep embraces me, it is as if a pair of dingy scratched lenses have been taken off….the world is softer, my mood lighter, and possibilities more infinite.
Insomnia has tested and tormented me since childhood. Many sleepless nights were spent reading…unless I was caught. The bedside lamp was too easy for my parents to detect but my closet was large with a light so I could crawl in there and read. Alas, my “hideout” was discovered when my mom was putting away clean clothes. The nest of pillows and books gave me away, the light bulb was removed. I borrowed the flashlight which stuck to the refrigerator with a magnet and crawled night after night under the bedcovers with a book, careful to return the flashlight each night. The loud “click” of magnet sucked to metal resounded loud in the darkened house and caused my heart to skip a beat. I don’t remember how they figured out I was using that flashlight…maybe they noticed the lighted tent that was my bed, maybe I failed to replace the flashlight in exactly the same spot on the fridge (although I remember being quite careful to do so) but eventually the flashlight was moved out of reach. My father had a flashlight in the trunk of his car, so I “borrowed” that one. I couldn’t imagine why he would have one there..? My eight-year-old mind couldn’t conceive of the need for a flashlight in a car, but he was a traveling salesman. I kept the flashlight carefully hidden but eventually it was discovered missing and I was forced to confess. The physical punishment I received for taking the flashlight paled in light of the torment I felt after hearing the examples of how my father would have suffered if his car had broken down at night, or he couldn’t save the life of some unfortunate soul in a roadside accident if he didn’t have that light. He suggested a few scenarios, my imagination dreamt up the rest.
I resorted to the window in my bedroom. My room was in the basement, the window well was incased with cold looking steel or aluminum. Not much light, but on a full moon or near a full moon, light found its way to the window and cast shadows in my room. I would crawl up onto the wide window sill, scrunch into the corner and read by moonlight.
Books kept me company during long sleepless nights. The moonless nights I tossed and turned, crept about the house like a mouse, helped myself to milk from the fridge, or tried without success to read on the cold creepy bathroom floor. Insomnia continues to haunt me, stretch my nights and challenge my days. Sleeplessness has forced me into dark places, added depth to my art, and given me insights hard-won but appreciated. Still…yummy drool-on-your-pillow sleep is a gift.
A treasure. A treat.



I am so glad this sweetie is going to Tom in Texas! They are a perfect pair…! Don’t you just want to throw the frisbee for Farley and wouldn’t you just love to meet Tom?!

Ideas like butterflies, or lightning bugs, or chocolates…

My current client has company. Since my commission is taking place just outside his front door, and since I make plenty of sawdust and lots of noise, I have been given a “recess” of a few days.
Honestly, I’ve grown weary of the task. The creativity part was accomplished during the first few hours while designing more than a month ago. Once I resolved the carving issues, figured my way toward color choices, and put the final glaze coat on the first two posts…the mystery was solved. Two embellished entry porch posts…perfect for the place and space…finished. I hadn’t messed up. My client was pleased. What finally became obvious to him (and what I knew all along) is that the other two posts would also have to be carved. So I am working on them. “Lesser” versions of the central posts (so as not to compete…I want the “climax” and action to build near the doorway while the outside posts quietly hold court like the wedding party to the bride and groom). The commission at this point is mostly pure physical labor. The challenges are boredom, physical fatigue (my poor hands), and Momma Nature. Wind is the most menacing element followed closely by sweltering heat. Rain is not a problem since I get to quit when it rains and certainly won’t argue with lightning. Wind can make me weary; especially since it blows every which way, dusting my eyes and filling my nose with sawdust. A few blood vessels broke in one eye two weeks ago and gave me a possessed look; devil-ish or prize-fighter-ish. I still have a big red spot in that eye.
So I am suppose to return to carve on Wednesday but I see that the weather forecast for Wednesday is thunderstorms which actually makes me happy because I would rather be home writing than up Tom Miner carving. Each day I find many things to share. Thoughts flutter and flit with wings so appealing and magical that I want to stop whatever I am doing and explore with words the spark, iridescence, depth, and endless color intricately woven on their surface. I don’t want to just squeak out little accounts of big adventures. Actually, my weekend was rather tame since it lacked adventure of the outdoor kind. No huffing and puffing, no summits or rock or rivers. Yet…the weekend was rich and full. If each idea which popped up in my mind over the weekend to write about was a little lightning bug…then my head would be glowing like the moon…bright enough to cast shadows. I find myself looking back at the last few days as though I just opened a box of decadent chocolates. I want to take a bite from each treat…reveal the mysterious sweet center…and share them with you. I need to write more. Create more. Adventure more.
Alas, I must make money. I need to make money now because I haven’t any excess. I haven’t even enough to pay the bills on my desk. The box of yummy chocolates must wait to be opened and shared. The beautiful butterfly thoughts tease, tempt, and tantalize. Worse…they urge me with earnestness born from an awareness of how delicate and fleeting their lives are. The lightening bugs flash, glitter and glow. I must quickly capture them but when do I find the time? The outdoor commission work makes me tired…the kind of wrung out tired that comes when work is uninspiring. Therein lay a key difference between survival work and inspired work. Inspired work is akin to climbing a mountain for an adventurer like me… while the activity may be physically exhausting, the passion infuses. A post-summit-high stirs the soul to Snoopy Dance even if the feet themselves are blistered and worn out. Creativity and passion put a skip in my step and a twist on the path that is living. I cherish the dream to create full time…to sculpt, paint, write, perform and adventure. Wednesday is a coin-flip decided by Momma Nature. Make money or paint with words?

Friday Already?

Whoa! How did it get to be Friday?! Zillions to share from another stuffed week…but I guess I should start with Air Force One since Obama is landing in a few minutes at the Bozeman airport near the Bridger Mountains. I hear there is plenty of beautiful B-roll footage on CNN highlighting this gorgeous part of the world I have the privilege to call home. Speaking of which…here’s a few photos taken on the ridge traverse of the Bridger Range Amy and I did last weekend (yes…the very same mountains Obama will see today if they aren’t covered in clouds). Amy and I enjoyed a perfect summer Sunday together chatting non-stop for five and a half hours while hiking an easy 12-14 miles of ridge with three peaks and well over 5000 feet of elevation gain. We shared sandwiches with homemade bread, homemade peanut butter, and homemade service berry jam (compliments of Amy’s impressive domestic skill). The rocky exposed ridge would usually be painfully hot on an August day but this summer Mother Nature has been acting as unpredictable as a teenage drama queen…thus…I actually wore a hat and gloves during some of the chillier sections. Really was a pleasant temp – the clouds were just teasing us. We threw our packs in the truck after the steep descent from Mt Baldy, then scooted to Sweet Pea for some shopping and a performance of “The Tempest” by Shakespeare in the Parks while Zaydee crashed in the truck, tuckered from the traverse. My ankles showed trail dirt but it looked like a tan-line, so without fuss, I joined another girlfriend at Ale Works for dinner and wine . The perfect summer Sunday was topped by a rendezvous with Paul when he arrived home after a week long road trip with the kids.

Summer Fest Fun

Angelique is visiting from Oregon (my friend Margaret’s 14 year old daughter). We attended an engaging performance by Montana Shakespeare in the Parks. Then the Sweet Pea Scene – fun art, crafts, clothes, food…good people watching…great band. We enjoyed being sprinkled with tiny raindrops while dancing under the dramatic Montana sky before coming home to a happy wet dog and fresh snow on my deck. Gotta love it when Mother Nature gets playful, dramatic and festive.

Mother Nature – Drama Queen

Hail stones bigger than golf balls came crashing out of a black sky this afternoon. I got caught driving in the valley at the edge of the storm where the hail stones were merely moose-poop-size. I pulled under some trees to wait it out. Cliff witnessed the full fury here on the mountain and called to warn me. When I arrived home the stones had already begun to melt. Looked like 1000 egg-laying chickens paraded through my yard. The ice balls were impressive …odd …curious … amazing…beautiful! I was running late for a commitment and had little time to explore and wonder. Wish I’d gathered up a batch to save for summer drinks!

“Hump” day – Morning at Home

So many possibilities!! I hadn’t known ‘til yesterday afternoon that I wouldn’t be working on the commission up Tom Miner Basin…an unexpected day off since my client has guests today. The morning has been crisp and cool. The hip-high thistles no longer have Dr Seuss-size blooms. Tall tiny white wildflowers along with some pink and purple blooms dot the yard but we are long past the Monet look of spring, tipping instead toward the dry arid colors of cliché western paintings. The tall grass scratches rather than caresses when hiking in shorts this time of year. The wild raspberries are ripe and scrumptious on the mountain. Usually I see more bear sign while picking and gorging on the juicy red berries.
Breakfast was a home-made banana split with non-dairy ice cream, a banana, raisons, peanuts, almonds, wild rasberries and chocolate syrup. I’m on my 3rd cup of tea wearing sweats and a hoody and still I have Goosebumps ‘tho it is well past mid-morning and it is AUGUST. I live a thousand feet above the valley, which means the temps are usually double digits cooler than the folks below (it also means the snow is deeper and the stars are closer). A humming bird just came by for a late breakfast (or an early lunch). The chimes ring and ting-a-ling in the breeze, the grasshoppers chirp, the birds tweet…all is well on the mountain.
I suppose I should go for a trail run, the weather is perfect for a mountain bike ride; a friend has phoned to climb. But I’ve some catching up to do in the desk part of business life, an appointment with an acupuncturist and a headache behind my right eye where two blood vessels recently burst. Then too, there is an application to fill out which involves writing about myself and my art…an exercise which feels like just that…an exercise. None too compelling and about as enticing as pull-ups or crunches but something which usually makes me feel good once I’ve finished. My goal is to finish soon enough to take Zaydee for a quick hike up the mountain before going to town.



Named after a famous mafia gangster, this dark-eyed rooster shipped to a collector in Texas.

Apple Pie for Breakfast

Life threw a curve-ball which postponed our summit plans…but the weekend has been sweet and savory on many levels. Today was the perfect morning to sleep in, put Bailey’s in our breakfast drinks and share apple pie.