Constant State of Transition – A Quick Note

I am on a plane yet again flying north back to Alaska (River too). Work – the doggies are in need of me. While I am not thrilled to be leaving Shaun, I am ready to see mountains, my ‘Alaska family’ as I refer to the Gardners and a couple of other very close people I am lucky enough to have in my life. This year started off in a state of transition and shows no signs of stopping that trend. My name as a ‘Dog Trainer’ has spread and I continue to be able to make travel and work..well, work. In only a few weeks, I will be flying back to the East Coast for more dogs and to spend time with Shaun.

My time is rather largely shared between Alaska and the East Coast. This is both awesome and exhausting depending on how much sleep I’ve had. I continue to find people in all sorts of places to share things like rock climbing, a festival or just a cup of coffee. Occasionally the stars (I mean schedules here..) align for people whom are very dear to me and we can get together. Recently I had a very short but still sweet visit with Lorien. Sadly my siblings and I have been unable to make it work – but I am hoping in the coming months that will be rectified.

The main thing I’ve come to realize is the difficulty of writing on the blog, returning phone calls, emails and such when one is in a constant state of transition. If I haven’t been quick to respond or you feel ignored, I am sorry and hope that one might understand that is it quite unlikely a personal thing. I will say for those who may need to get a hold of me for whatever reason – a text saying ‘Need to talk’ will get you a callback faster than an email or voicemail will.

The constant change of time zones, climate, driving style (east coast verses Alaska is a VERY different set of challenges), personalities of the people I’m around (in the Gardner house I can say fuck anytime of the day, in my relatives space not so much), and even worse – food option challenges, tends to leave me a little discombobulated. I wouldn’t trade it for staying in one place in the least, but I cannot say it is easy or leaves energy for other things at times. All in the trials of being a Wanderer.

I hope to add more content soon (but I’ve said that a few times before..).



5 Years Now Without Mom

I read the ‘4 Years Gone’ write up I did a year ago basically to the day, and I am struck by how much things have changed – and how much they haven’t. I could just copy/paste most of the words again for this year. The emotions, the thoughts, the memories; very little is different in those areas, even with another year for perspective. That in itself is a little scary. Makes me want to rage at those who quote that insufferable phrase ‘Time Heals All Wounds’. Dumb fuck who wrote that was clearly in-denial or hadn’t lost very much. I rarely feel angry, except at shallow empty words thrown in my face to ‘console’ me (but only them, in reality). Then the extraordinary pissed-off redhead temper comes out in force.

As you may have guessed, I don’t feel any less grief this year then I did the last 4. I do however feel more sadness than anger (or at least I believe I do) with the world. I also find myself looking back at my experiences with people those first few years, and having much more anger now than I did then, at the level of shit I went through. All it takes is a misguided statement made by a family member or friend and I feel the slow burn of angry pain that they still don’t get it. Maybe my increased sadness is that they and most of the world never will and its unfair of me to want them to be able to grasp the faintest idea of it.

Last year I attended a Tracker class with the 3 women who many know as my ‘Element Sisters’. Though I was around people and not trying to shove everything down, I also didn’t share much – and what I did share was mostly through the girls. Tracy, Linda and Afsoon’s support that year was the beginning of me not trying to hide 24/7. This year, the Healing School I have been apart of ran the 3rd class during the corresponding weekend (the dates are set when we sign up). So not only was I in another class, but this time it was even more hands-on with the emotions of life. Instead of fading into the background and only letting people know the significance of the dates via my Sisters, this year I had to do it myself and beforehand. Instead of standing on the edge of the 130+ group of classmates – many whom I didn’t know – I was in the middle of a very close knit group of 13 that I have worked with before. Not only did I not sit in silence all day, I shared my experience with classmates and friends, many of whom are quickly becoming true family.

I keenly feel the lack of contact from most people in my life, particularly this day. Lorien, best friend, person that Facebook says I am ‘In a relationship with’ and many people do believe that (which is totally okay by us) and the first person who ever sat with me in the long silences always makes contact this day. Even if its just through text. This year I had more people than I honestly know what to do with make contact with me. Interestingly most were not actual family members – or even old friends. I also shared my experience with feeling for the first time since the first weeks of 2009. In class, while words can be important and are often used to jumpstart an event, its the feeling, the emotion that we are most concerned about. I was the ‘group project’ to experience past events – all 12 classmates and the 3 instructors at the same time. Those of you who really know me, will realize that it is close to the last thing I would ever want to do, share ‘feelings’ while actually in contact with a shit-ton of people in person! But I did. Many may think that the ‘talking’ part is hard. Its not really, I’ve had to tell that fucking story over and over again. For family, for friends, for police, for doctors, and lawyers, therapists and teachers. I’m so not in touch with my emotions when I talk about the days leading up and shortly after Mom was killed, that I learned to ‘fake’ some reaction so as to not upset family or alarm the doctors for the first few years. In the past I’ve been accused of not caring, being a cold heartless bitch and having ‘something really really wrong with me’ because I can’t talk and feel at the same time very well. Clearly the world isn’t as ‘aware’ as they think they are about things like PTSD. The worst part was never how I felt talking about it, but how the other people felt. The shock, the disbelief, the looking for the silver lining, the inability to grasp, and of course; the wondering of how I ‘didn’t know’, which eventually leads to questioning of my intelligence, the darkness I must have to attract such people. The ways in which I am broken that I could be a part of such evil – even as a bystander. My grief, anger and pain I sit with everyday. Its the rest of the world and their judgements, their dismissal and lack of awareness that is so fucking impossible to be with.

By year 2 I had stopped calling people. Asking for people to sit with me (Lorien never had to be asked, but then I moved away) or be supportive. Some friends would take it upon themselves to be around in any way they could. Something I am very grateful for and applaud for dealing with my despair. It was a strange feeling to be the one who explained to the new people in my life (Shaun, classmates, etc) what the days leading up to the 4th meant to me. It was even more surreal when even after I explained that there is only ‘dark and twisty’ on that day that I found myself accepting them in my experience of it. – I will write up another post going into more detail for those interested.

I wish there was a positive spin I could put on things from the kids and Dad. But I am not really privy to their experience with this anymore. I texted the ones who have cell phones, reaching out in between the madness of driving through snow, DC traffic and flying to Alaska. To the younger kids it is probably more of ‘another day’ in the time span of not fun days that makeup this time of year. I can’t really say how they are doing other than just getting by. I like to think I have moved from the space of surviving to living, but some days I am not as convinced. Or maybe it is more of perspective, that in my own way I do live; in the moments possible, and when not, I survive.

I do know that the various places the boys and younger kids are, Mom still smiles. I watch my brothers as they mature, and even with their anger and pain and their struggles, at their core they are amazing young men. Every single one of my 8 siblings is unique, with their own talents. I hope for each one that one day they live, fully and lovingly, their own lives.

I see my Mother in every red sunrise and sunset. I spy a cardinal on a branch and think of her. A waterfall. The Mountains. Roadtrips. All these things she loved. All these things she inspired us children to love. Thinking back to one of the many gifts she bestowed upon her loved ones, I don’t think love was the biggest one. Or even hope. But maybe was inspiration. I have countless (literally, I forget the them often) stories of the people out there who were inspired to do and be more in life from knowing Mom.

Even in death my Mother somehow inspires people to live more fully. To laugh more often. To love more fully. To nurture and care for the lost children. Below: Early 90’s in Alaska, with (I believe) a baby Jeremy. She didn’t let things like having 3 young children, 9 dogs and winter keep her tied down. She had fun anywhere she was.

Mom in Alaska with a baby brother

Mom in Alaska with a baby brother

In one breath I can go back to my last day with Mom. The brightest most beautiful light. The hope. The love. The laughter. 5 years ago in the space of a moment. And in the same space, the 5 years is also an eternity of hell. Of pain. Of a deep black hole of grief that never goes away. A breath of love and an eternity of hell in just one moment. I walk in both worlds, as they are both true. It almost feels as though it should be strange, that just a breath of love can inspire someone to live through hell for eternity. But then that is the type of love my Mother inspired. Not strange at all. Beautiful.

~ J

March & Schedule Update

Last day of February is here, I sit in Bangor Maine at Tracy & Carl’s house staving off the 5 degree chill by the wood stove. The last few weeks have gone by rather quickly, as I bounced from state to state along my travels. Early February found me at the DC airport 4pm in the afternoon after 14 hours of flying through the night and running around Anchorage doing last minutes things the day before. My Aunt Cathie and Family was out-of-town, so I picked up the Black Dragon and begun battling the DC 5:30 traffic towards Tennessee. It took a few hours to clear the city’s traffic in Northern VA, at which point I stopped for food and provisions. By 8pm I had been awake already for 32 hours and just wanted a bath. But Winter Storm Pax was crawling up from the southern states, threats of 5+ inches to feet of snow and I needed to not be on the highway once it started. I made it to Best Friend – Lorien’s dorm in Johnson City TN, around 2am. The roads were still clear and I could try to rest. I snoozed through the bustle of college kids and woke up to a world of white. I stayed 2 nights and just about 3 days catching up with Lorien and watching the city shut down from 8 inches of snow. I also got dinner with Jackie and Jeremy in Bristol to catch up. Friday I made the 3 hour trek to the Farm in Madisonville, passing overturned trucks, broken down cars and jack-knifed tractor-trailers. For the first 20-30 miles, I saw at least one every mile marker.

The Farm still had about 5 inches of snow, however was getting slushy. The kids were thrilled to see me. Jackie came down from College to see me. I spent the weekend hanging out, playing cards, sitting by the fire, and of course – snow play with the kids. Everyone packed into the van and off to the mountains we went. Sadly due to the feet of snow, not as much sledding happened as time was spent on getting the van’s chains to stay on, unstuck, pulled out..and other less thrilling activities. The kids were out of school Monday, Jesse and I took them to Citico Creek to fish. Upon the realization that fish weren’t biting, we went for a hike. Was a good day. Tuesday the kids were back in school, I had many things to take care of with Barbara and long chats to catch up. I was also officially sick.

I was on the road late Wednesday afternoon, stopped in Johnson city briefly to say goodbye to Lorien. Sadly Jeremy and Jackie were at wrestling practice and I already had a very late start to get to New Jersey that night. I ended up staying another night in Jersey with my good friend Amy and her husband, due to the stresses of traveling while sick. I actually went to a walk in clinic due a strange rash that had surfaced along with my cold. Turns out that I have horrible luck (those would be the exact words of the Doctor to describe my situation) . Once on the road again, my GPS acted strange around NYC, so I got to get rerouted in the city. Was exciting. The drive through Maine was beautiful and peaceful, till something shattered the little moon roof of my Subie. At that point I pulled over and laughed like a crazy person. It was a clear day, no cars in front of me, no bridges, nothing around but trees. Something just happen to shatter the glass… Carl is going with ‘Space Poo’, Tracy has picked ‘God tried to strike you down’ and I.. well this sorta my life. So I’m going with that. I finally arrived in Maine with my tapped up window to Tracy and Carl’s where Linda was as well, Saturday afternoon to a warm house full of animals and wonderful people. Last few days have been spent recuperating and healing. I have new glass for the Black Dragon, but due to costs it isn’t actually installed yet..More Duct tape!

Today, I leave for my Wilderness Fusion class in NY. Can’t wait to see what will pop out of the wood work for this. I’ll stay at friend and fellow classmate – Justin’s tonight. Class will be starting late due to having to move location to better deal with the frigid temps and..yes more snow. Should be a killer of a class spiritually. I may not survive it though! Monday once class ends, I make a dash for Maryland where I hope to arrive in a timely manner so I can actually spend time with Shaun, before driving to DC the on Tues. Turns out that I need to go back to Alaska for a few days for work (which with the extra bills, is really for the best at this point). If I get in early enough to Ocean City, MD I’ll actually eat dinner, see Shaun. If not, well I’ll stop by my Aunt Terry’s, pick up the gear that needs to go to Alaska, sleep for a few hours. And then battle the snowstorm to DC where hopefully I’ll still be flying out Tuesday afternoon..I mean what couldn’t go wrong with this schedule?

March 9th will find me back in DC (weather permitting) and I will have the rest of the original ‘Maryland stay’ I was planning on before heading out to Belize. Whew. That brings up to March 15th… Next month overview looks something like this:

Feb 28th – Drive from Maine to NY for class.

March 1-3 – Wilderness Fusion Class in NY.

Late March 3rd – Arrive in Ocean City MD.

March 4th – Drive to DC, fly out for AK in the afternoon.

March 5-9th – Anchorage.

March 9th-14th – Maryland.

March 15th – Fly to Belize from DC.

March 16th-21st – Class in Belize.

March 21st-23rd DC with Shaun, Kathy & Dave!

March 24th-April 2nd – Unsure/East Coast.

April 3rd – Drive to Maine to meet up with Tracy.

April 4th-6-7th – Canada with the Element Sisters!!!

Early April – I should probably be heading back to Alaska soon so I can continue to eat…


Journey On ~ J

Late Winter Schedule – Where I will be at

Wow. 31 days of January over and done with, now into February and I don’t have much to show for it with writing yet. I did take pictures though. Many pictures… In Short, I was busy with work, dogs, cooking, showing Shaun around Alaska – during possibly the worst stretch of weather in a while..more dogs and travel plans.

*detailed date by date events are at the end*

As many know, I have been in Alaska since Dec 31st, I am due to fly out to DC in a couple of days. Originally I was supposed to go to Utah for a few days to visit with a fellow classmate and friend – but sadly that fell through. Once in DC, I will pickup my car (Black Dragon!) from my wonderful Aunt Cathy and family, who have been amazing with letting me park my car, drop me off and pick me up when possible at the airport – and has even extended that kindness to a few close friends in need. After some rest, I drive south to Tennessee with a stop off in Johnson City to see my long time bestie Lorien! Then on to the Farm to see the family. River will stay in Alaska with Kathy & Dave and the Beagles. She will probably sulk and give me the paw of ‘screw you’ for a while, but I will have the peace of mind that she is very well cared for.

After about week in Tennessee, I will start heading north – hopefully see a few friends along the way and end up in Maine to see two of my Element Sisters Linda & Tracy (Tracy’s husband Carl too). I have an overdue promise to get together with everyone that I am quite excited about. * I will NOT be on the Eastern Shore of Maryland along the drive North. Which brings us to – the end of March, where I’ll be in New York with my Wilderness Fusion Healing 1 class! Early March has me making my way back down to Maryland, see my favorite snarky cousin Lucy, family and Shaun; before heading back into DC to fly out to Belize!!! I’m going to Belize with Wilderness Fusion – a last-minute class I was able to get into, that will be almost a week in Punta Gorda. Very excited. Once back from Belize, I will be in DC for a few days for fun stuff like the Shamrock festival with Shaun, Kathy & Dave, probably some museums and who knows what else! Sometime after that I will head back to Alaska since I will need to see my Rivers (and make more money..).

I know, I’ve left a LOT out. But this is the overview. Actual dates of everything as best as I can estimate are as follows:

Feb 11th – Arrive DC.

Feb 12th – Arrive Johnson City TN, with Lorien.

Feb 13th – Arrive in TN at Farm.

Feb 20th ish – Begin driving North to Maine. Hopefully with a stop in NJ for sleeping & visit.

Feb 22nd to 27th – Maine.

Feb 28th – Drive to New York for Class.

March 1st through 3rd – Healing 1 Class in New York.

March 4th  till the 14th – Maryland.

March 14th – DC to fly out early the 15th for Belize.

March 16th till 21st – Belize with Wilderness Fusion class.

March 21st to 23rd – DC Fun.

End of March – tentative back to Alaska.

Going to be a great and rather hectic next couple of months. On the off chance that the East Coast has a wicked snow storm or two, I am hoping many of my Jersey Peeps will allow me to park my car should it come to that (New York too!). I have in my driving ability and the Black Dragon to make it to Maine, even in snow – but other drivers on the damned East Coast – I do not have so much faith in…

Home is the Journey ~ J

Fall Adventures in the Mix & Joannie’s Birthday

Autumn is near, the Equinox today and the winds of change are ever upon us. Fall used to be my favorite time of the year. Slowly I am getting some of my passion for it back. I still struggle with the memories of happier times and the last birthday that Mom was here for – I wrote about it in 2011 Here:

For the second time this year, I will be at Tracker School in the company of my Element Sisters – Tracy, Linda & Afsoon – for a difficult time period. I feel there is significance in this timing. The other class took place this past March on the anniversary of Mom’s death.

My very first class with my ‘Element Sisters’ – where it all began – a year ago  I wrote about Here:

What I’m up to:

I had a great weekend (Sept 7th -9th) in New York camping on the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation – a large and beautiful park where my Wilderness Fusion classes take place.

Words do not come readily to describe my weekend with Wilderness Fusion, other than it was extremely challenging and I found much-needed cognizance of my self.

The following two weeks after Wilderness Fusion, I spent in Maryland – predominately Ocean City, visiting with family and friends. I enjoyed the Ocean, visiting Assateague Island and taking a bit of down time in between appointments online, errands and planning my next adventures.

Most will know that for the end of September (Sept 22nd – Oct 1st) I will be at Tracker School integrating myself deeply (and probably getting my ass kicked) into Philosophy 2 & 3 with my wonderful Element Sisters and many other friends and class mates!

What is next?

I’ve had a few ‘possible’ trips in the mix, Hawaii being one of them. In addition to Hawaii though, I’ve had an even grander adventure possibility that I have been working on for the last couple of months that I am now officially doing (I will get to Hawaii one of these days..). A much desired destination of New Zealand! Yes, NEW ZEALAND!!! Australia is a possibility if the plane tickets are cheap enough – but New Zealand is for sure!

Details to come, for now I am going with my good friend Carleigh in December to backpack both Islands till the end of January, which brings me to the reason for this quick and rather lacking post of mine: I am asking all family and friends who planned on sending me a card or a small gift (Starbucks card, etc.) for my birthday next week, to instead please add whatever amount (hey I’m not picky – take that 5 bucks that you would have given me for a nice coffee) to my Travel Fund. I need some gear (frame backpack that will work for my rather messed up back.. etc) and of course the plane tickets aren’t cheap. I’m going to just go ahead and add here that Christmas gifts can be funneled in the same direction since I will actually be in New Zealand over Christmas.

Normally when people ask me ‘what do you want for your Birthday’ (Christmas too) I say ‘Nothing’ – or a bookstore gift card at the most. Holidays are pretty bittersweet for me and with my piss poor attitude about them in the last few years most people get me nothing nowadays (Except Lorien, because she doesn’t give a shit that I told her she cannot get me anything anymore). As I have changed in the last year, I’ve realized that while it doesn’t matter much if I still get nothing since this is my normal expectation, if people would like to ‘gift’ me – I can accept it and point them in the direction of what would be meaningful/useful for myself. So here I am, trying on a new hat (Yep that is a nod to you Barbara Myerson).

I hope your Autumn is filled with exciting prospects as mine has been thus far. I hope to write more about my adventures and maybe even edit some of this blog of mine… For now, I hit the road to New Jersey in 5 hours!

Open Roads ~ J

Moving to Maryland, Road Trip, and Visitors!

Since arriving in from Alaska the 16th of May, it’s been a tad bit like a whirlwind of things to do. Best friend –  Lorien came into town (Seattle) to spend about a week with me. We tried to fit as many Seattle and Washington things in as we could. Over 800 pictures were taken… The Hoh Rainforest is very photogenic to be fair though. The week was entirely too short but still wonderful. At an undated point I will post some of the photos (don’t hold your breath though, I’ve a back order of the things).

I’ve been preparing (or my version anyway) of moving East, which is all kinds of chaos for me.You may or may not have heard about the move to Maryland that I leave for in just a few short days. Due to my time management problem of updating the blog with all the pictures that I have to share I haven’t post much.

My desire to be back with my horses or finalize where they will spend their lives without me has been longstanding now. Obviously I want to try everything possible before giving them up to someone else, so keeping my ears open the last year or so and networking with people all over the country has paid off with a opportunity. A farm in Princess Ann Maryland is where my new home for the next little bit shall be.

Some of you may know/know of Carmen from Coyote Tracks & Tracker School. We interned and worked together at Coyote Tracks and have remained friends for life ever since. Originally from Ocean City, MD Carmen has moved on to great things in Saint Croix with her Husband to start their dream of an outdoor school after working for Tracker School for years on New Jersey. Carmen and her family in Maryland have had a 25-acre farm for some number of years now and more recently have no one to live there and care-take it. Upon hearing of my ideas of teaching with my horses I was offered not just the position of caretaker but also to bring my horses!

Maryland has never been someone I imagined living. While most would love the idea of the beach being only an hour or less away and two hours from D.C; I do not find this a helpful balm to living my mountains, snow and evergreens of the Northwest and Alaska. But sometimes life takes us to places our surface selves scoff at would never pick. So it is with Maryland, even with my complete lack of desire to ever live in the state with its flatness, humidity and sun; I am looking forward to having a whole house to call my own and land that hasn’t known chemical or mass altering for years. Rosie & River will move with me, while Reuben will stay behind in Seattle with his job and space to seek out what life has to offer him.

Wait what about Reuben in Seattle!? ‘You say’. Reuben and I are effectively ‘broken up’, but remain friends and hopefully will continue to be so as life takes us each to different places. I’m grateful for him in my life in so many ways and will continue to be.

The Maryland farm has an old farmhouse, two ponds, woods, and open grass; but no fencing.  My first objective is to fence along the road to ensure the dogs are safe. Then I will be focused on creating a space to bring the horses up too. All of this will be work I will probably have to perform without major tools (tractor, large electric saws, etc), and hopefully aided by whomever family member or friend who helps out. While my brothers have committed, they seem rather adverse to hand saws. I hope to be able to bring my horses up before the summer is over, but that may be asking a lot.

The Phillips (Carmen’s family) will be helping when they can, but if anyone who wants to visit or lives nearby that would like to be a part of the creating, I will happily instruct/teach/ride with once the horses are moved up. In addition to fencing there will probably be other basic fixing up to do down the road so there is no shortage of work!

In addition to the horses, I hope to grow some food (nothing elaborate) and that is another area that friends and family would be greatly welcomed to assist me with. Particularly the putting in gardens, as I don’t have a green thumb L.

I plan to train other people horses, both at my place and nearby farms to support the critters and myself. Lessons and learning how to train your own horse will also be available. I will probably do some dog training on a small level as well. What I really hope to do is work with the people interested in co-leadership skills, group awareness, the power of the Horse and what they can teach us about working together and bettering ourselves. I know, to some it sounds like absolute new-age hippy stuff. But I assure you, everyone could learn a powerful lesson working with horses in a space to experience the dynamic of group unit that is neither hierarchy nor hive minded but a cohesive unit where each member is unique but acts together.  If you are in the position of leading/directing, you should learn more about co-leadership, if you work with children – particularly special needs like autistic, both the child and you really need to work with horses in this fashion, if you are a life coach, healer, therapist etc you could learn so many skills to help those around you. Now unlike the ‘professionals’ in the traditional sense, I won’t certify people or be accredited/certified myself but instead it will be the horses doing the work and I will simply create the space and translate when needed. I’m not going to be ‘treating’ or counseling, just offering experiences.

In addition to the horses, care taking, gardening, I will still be traveling here and there. I’ve people in Alaska who still want me to work with their dogs and house sit when they are traveling a few times a year. There are tracker classes to be attended, people to meet and learn from.  This is all once I have a handle on things at the Maryland Farm of course.

Actually getting to Maryland:

Now that the destination is known, the journey is revealed.  The Black Dragon (my Subaru) will be driven across the states yet again with the dogs and my belongings. Jackie (who is now in Seattle with me as I write this) has flown up to see some of the Pacific Northwest and to do the cross-country drive with me. We already have high aspirations for the trip including Yellowstone WY, Grand Teton WY, Devils Tower (also WY), Mount Rushmore SD (Jackie has never seen it), Badlands SD, and anywhere else along the way that catches our eyes. The idea is to use the 2-person tent, eat out the cooler, and take turns driving. I’m sure a hotel will be gotten at least once to shower at some point. The Black Dragon is once again trekking mountains and will hopefully keep chugging along!

The estimate leave by Date was June 6th, but that was greatly dependent on what the auto shop says about the Black Dragon’s health and what Jackie would like to see of Washington State before we start. Since I began writing this post, I’ve gotten word back on the Black Dragon and it seems my poor car has been going along on pure will alone (yet again) and needs some serious work just to make it to the east coast! Now looking at the 9th or later and that could be pushed back even further. My poor Dragon!

Originally I was to be in South Dakota for the Sundance at the Wild Horse Sanctuary in the Black Hills, but due to the lateness of the drive and unknowns on the road, I’ve decided that unless a plan ticket falls in my hands from D.C to the Dakotas for cheap, I will focus on getting my next with the farm. I’m a little sad that I will miss the Sundance but have been assured that I am indeed invited for next year.

The route will be the northern one except when dipping into Wyoming, then heading southeast to bypass the great lakes states, I have no need to deal with Chicago/Cleveland traffic. By going northeast we will hopefully miss some of the heat and most of the rather alarming storms (Oklahoma City anyone?). I highly doubt the Black Dragon’s windshield with multiple cracks could stand up to baseball sized hail and I don’t want to try to hide from tornadoes.  We’ve AAA and are trying to ensure the Dragon will make it, but right now I’m doing bare minimum (damage control) repairs due to the serious price difference of having it worked on in Seattle verses Tennessee – so please envision the Black Dragon arriving in Maryland with all four passengers (dogs, Jackie & I) intact! A big thanks to my wonderful Aunt Michele for finding the auto guy who seems to know what is what and honest about it!

Jackie is very excited to see Wyoming (last time he drove through he was about 4 years old) and I of course love being on the road in my own car journeying.  River has been watching me pack books into boxes and anxiously hovering (she knows we are moving, not just traveling). I’ve a new camera (okay new for me) in the mail to ensure that I can get some decent pictures no matter the weather – I got a Olympus Tough camera (waterproof, freeze proof, crush & drop proof) that I should have a harder time breaking (that’s the idea anyway!). My original dinosaur of a camera is still semi working (only in good light and only when it’s not below 50 degrees) but is sadly no longer reliable.

Kathy G. Has generously  shipped her extra iPad for me to use so that we have some Internet and gps options both on the road and once I get to the Maryland Farm. So there will now be some G3 internet, my cell or email is a good way to contact me!  I’ve a feeling that it will take me awhile to actually set up working internet at the Maryland Farm.

Whatever may come of all this in the long run – even ‘failure’ in the traditional sense, I believe this will be a important experience not just for myself, but all the people who are touched by it. So if you are drawn to what I am embarking on here, please let me know and maybe you’ll find yourself working with one of my mares or cultivating wild edibles for your table. I’ve a feeling this whole experience is about people assisting one another to further their skills/experiences.

~ J

*Finally Posted* End of August TN Farm visit – Summer 2012

*Finally Posted – another LONG overdue picture post from Summer 2012*

Tracker School done with, a long drive to the Canadian border to take Linda home and a quick visit in Maryland to see the extended family completed – I was back in Tennessee at the Farm. The kids were pretty excited to see me twice in one summer. River was eagerly awaiting my return, had a packed on a pound or two and was missing some fur from the bugs and other dogs chewing on her.. but still in one piece. I spent about 8-10 days at the farm. It was very hot and the kids in school, but still enjoyable.

The 5 Youngest Millers

The 5 Youngest Millers Jax (green shorts), Joey (redshorts), Janna (only girl..), Jerry (blueshorts), & Jason (on the far right)

The 5 youngest kids had GROWN. No longer little kids even. But in my mind they probably will be for at least another 10 years… Jason had gotten TALL. As in taller then me, about as tall as Jackie for the summer of 2012. Jason also put on muscle from wrestling and is looking quite fine. Joey grew too and was looking charming as ever. Ms. Janna, my beautiful sister was about as tall as me and is growing up quicker than my mind knows what to do with. Jerry is still his cute eccentric self, just taller (there is a theme here..) and more grown up. Jax – the youngest is neck in neck for height with the rest of them and is quite handsome. I had a good time listening to their adventures, we read books (they read to me most of the time) and talked about school.

The whole family (along with the older boy’s girlfriend’s and my friend Lorien more often then not) went to Citico Creek, out on the boat on the lake and other cooler activities around Eastern Tennessee. Dad still has the big green van – “Green Machine” I believe is what the kids call it (and the older boys, and their friends, etc) that we use. In usual Miller fashion we pile into (dogs included). Packed to the hilt with chairs, coolers, beer, water and many dogs… I think all the dogs came to Citico Creek. 5 of them I believe.

Lorien & Jax with Shiloh in the Van

Lorien & Jax with Shiloh in the Van

The air conditioning (or fans) no longer really works in the Green Machine, the insides looks like its been through a war or two and the whole thing rattles as if its about to shake apart on the back country mountain roads… But it serves it purpose.  Lorien – brave soul that she is – chooses to accompany me on my family adventures and is often roped into work along with the play. The boys like to cautiously (they never quite step over the line as I have threatened their very lives) tease Lorien about her phobia of fish and joke about putting minos in her water bottle.  The dogs stomp around in the creek looking for fish, frogs and anything else they can chase down. The Huskies often run off and someone is sent to bring them back. Jackie tends to be loud and someone usually ends up crying (or everyone) before the day at the Creek is done. It’s hectic, sometimes insane and often way to loud for my tastes, but I enjoy the time spent with my family. And I still managed to get some nice pictures!

Janna & River in the Van

Janna & River in the Van

Janna proudly declaring that River likes her best! River at this point in the drive to the creek, is just trying not to get squashed by the other dogs, sat on by the kids or stepped on by the older boys…

Jesse modeling his famous look

Jesse modeling his famous look

Jesse in all his tan and lean muscled up glory – is modeling what is known as ‘his look’. No shirt, an almost smile and perfectly messed up hair.

Relaxing in the water

Relaxing in the water

In the above picture, we have Jeremy (closest), Jesse, Jason in the middle, El – Jeremy’s wonderful girlfriend petting her Husky Aspen whom you can barely see, Janna standing and Stormy – Jeremy’s dog hidden in the background fishing.

River trying to stay dry

River trying to stay dry

River is pretty hearty and fords across the creek, but she likes to get up out of the water and claim a lap or a chair for herself.


Yellow Butterfly at Citico Creek

Yellow Butterfly at Citico Creek

The Citico Creek is a wonderful place that has many campsites, even a horse campground ‘Young Branch’ and trails throughout the woods. My family has been going for years and goes often just for the day as well as camping, with or without the horses.

Kids jumping off of Big Rock

Kids jumping off of Big Rock

Way out there – you can see some of the kids jumping off of what they call ‘Big Rock’. A huge boulder that sits just under the surface (or sticks out during low water season) in a fairly deep area of the creek (6-9ft depend on the year). The kids dive, jump, cannon ball and such. I often go and stay till they leave and sit next to the running water (its pretty clear) and just think. Such a great spot.

Janna at Citico Creek


Janna in her colorful bathing suit (she is a much better girl than I ever was!) looking very strong and pretty. She is 13 here, and growing like a weed.

Janna & Joannie

Janna & Joannie – The J Sisters

Lorien took this picture for us – Janna is so tall! I’ve a feeling she will be taller than me before all is said and done. I’m a little red here form the sun (big surprise) and have my 50+ sunshirt on even though its 95F degrees out.



Stormy – Jeremy’s dog. Dad calls her the ‘East Tennessee Spotted Moron’. She is a Blue Heeler and god knows what mutt. She is very aloof, smart and be difficult around dogs she doesn’t basically a perfect fit with Jeremy.

Riding in the Green Machine

Riding in the Green Machine

The Van ride back to the farm in the ‘Green Machine’. Jeremy drove (rather well considering we got dumped on by a Thunderstorm and the windshield wipers basically don’t work..), Jackie, El and Jesse claimed the front bench seat, Lorien and the kids along with the dogs were scattered about in the back.  All in all, was a pretty good day. The camera didn’t get wet and all the dogs made it back!

Joannie & Jackie

Joannie & Jackie

Jackie and I a little sun burnt – Jesse took the picture.

My last day before heading out I managed to get some pictures of me with the 3 older boys! You can see just how darn big they are all next to little me. I may be a little biased, but my little brothers are great looking men♥.

The 4 older Miller Kids - being goofy

The 4 older Miller Kids left to right –  Jeremy (being goofy), Joannie, Jackie & Jesse.

I believe Joey took these pictures of the 4 of us – I set the camera up and told him how to work the automatic focus. I think he did a pretty good job! Jeremy is goofing around in the first pic, and Jesse cracking up in the between the two everyone gets an idea of what the Millers look like in 2012… Oldest to youngest –  (you don’t need to know my age if you already don’t) Jackie is 22, Jeremy 20 and Jesse had just turned 16 in these pics.


Jeremy, Joannie, Jackie & Jesse ♥

As you can see..I clearly got the short genes. Jeremy is the tallest in the family, but Jason might just catch up. Looks like Jesse will be at least Jackie & Dad’s height. The rest of the kids will probably be at least an inch or two taller than me… Sigh.  I Love these big idiots so much.

~ J