Brilliant Living

early bale build
Tonight the moon is full and bright over the small clearing in front of my studio. It is high above the treetops and shedding its gentle light all over the land. I remember years ago when we would come this time of year to see family (and pick blueberries) we had many, many nights sitting out at Grace Lake staring at a moonlit, pine-fringed sky. It is part of why I “came home.” I wanted to live in this moonlight always. We didn’t know exactly what we would do when we got here, and now we have a full and amazing life on these 20 acres and that vivid summer sky is a regular part of my night.

A year ago Milt, myself and Lynn, a friend of ours from DC, were wandering the shops in Grand Marais. We were visiting with a shopkeeper who told us about the “makers movement”. We liked the sound of it and thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun to have a “Makers” event on our land outside of Cass Lake?” We started brainstorming and over the winter it grew into a three day “Builders and Makers Festival.” Lynn does amazing bead work and metal jewelry and, although she has spent her adult career in service to the Federal government, her heart is in the small and beautiful things that get woven together.

straw bale build 2Last Friday was day one of our three day Builders and Makers Festival. We had two days slated for the construction of a small straw bale pump house and earth plastering lessons and one day slated for Lynn’s “metal mania” workshop. For the bale build, we were at first disappointed that we didn’t have the 20 people registered that we had slotted for, but as the two days unfolded, we realized that we had just the right amount. 20 people would have been chaos. And ten people for the metal mania workshop was exactly right.

The thermometer read in the mid to high 80’s for all three days, but we pushed through the heat and had an amazing time. What a blast! Yesterday Milt, Lynn and I all voted yes to “the second annual” but decided to spread it out over multiple weekends—a straw bale build, a mudding workshop, and a 2-day Beads and Metals retreat.

We were all totally exhausted from the three day event, but several things emerged out of this experience for me. First, I love it when something springs out of your head that is nothing but clouds and a year later it has become real. Second, I love coming together with other builders and makers to, again, bring something out of the cloud of imagination and make it “real.” And third, I am liking more and more the idea of our place as a “campus” where small communities come together to create.

Tonight I watched a documentary on the development of the A-Bomb and the hydrogen bomb and the scaling up of these dangerous weapons in a silly grab for land and power. It so saddens me that the people in power globally would choose to spend their creative coin in this terrible way while the simple people, people like you and I, choose to spend ours creating communities, growing healthy gardens, building small structures, and lots and lots of other cool things.  Our touch on this precious earth is a gentle, respectful touch. We don’t wish to harm the mother of all life–that would be just plain stupid.

So, a short post from a weary but satisfied soul tonight. August approaches. My beans need picking for the first time. My hands hurt from too much hard work. And I am happy. The title of my post tonight is going to be the name of Milt’s new video blog. Besides subscribing below, be sure to go to to see what else we may pull from clouds in the coming months.

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Brilliant Living — 2 Comments

  1. Another beautiful sharing! Thanks Jamie! Reading what you have to share always brings a calming to my soul, a comforting! And, since I’m so very far behind in responding to one of my dearest friends, let me also thank you for all the wonderful things you said about Bearlodge Writers, here in the northeast corner of Wyoming. I think I managed to let that kindness go without a proper thanks! Miss you!

  2. Hi Jamie…Just a note to let you know I do read, enjoy, and appreciate your “No Ordinary Life”. Brilliant Living…I like those words. I feel I have been living and creating luminously for many years. However, this year, at this time in my life, life’s brilliance seems to have set me aglow. It is as though I have fallen into the Leaves of Grass. I am moving about on feet and on my bicycle feeling the world’s love. As I am writing this, I recall an image I did 25 years ago. It’s title “I create thee”. We are all, ultimately, the creator. Long live the builders of love.

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