Jodi Hills

So this is who I am – a writer that paints, a painter that writes…


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Nothing.

I woke up alone each day in my summer bed. My mother at work. I brushed my teeth. Sometimes my hair. Put on shorts and a t-shirt. Made a piece of toast with Smucker’s grape jelly and Jif creamy smooth peanut butter. Walked through the unlocked door. And continued walking. No map. No plan. I filled my pockets. A smooth rock. An abandoned neighbor’s toy. Kicked the gravel beneath my feet. Dust circled my ankles. I kicked faster. Began running. Found my bicycle in the ditch where I had left it – distracted by yesterday’s game of kickball in the open field. Rode slowly at first. Up the hill. Turned around. Fast down the hill. Again up. Again down. Faster each time. Down again. At Dynda’s. Arms extended, I ran through the cool, wet white sheets hanging on the line. Waved to Grandma Dynda, who wasn’t related to me. Ran back through the grass. Through the open door, letting it slam behind me. Gathered all the dolls and stuffed animals that would fit into my homemade orange corduroy book bag and ran back to my bicycle. Filled the basket on the handlebars and told them not to be afraid. I would take care of them. And raced on the gravel road. Raced them to where the tar began, to where I could really pick up speed. I made the sound of “weeeeeeeee,” that I imagined each one to scream. I showed them the geese near the lake. Not too close. I protected them. Took them back home for lunch. On a blanket table in the grass, we ate Campbell’s chicken noodle soup from the can. The grass tickled our backs through the blanket as a circus of clouds entertained us. I carried them back into the house in the blanket. Placed them on the bed. They didn’t argue about taking a nap. I forehead kissed each one of them. Raced through the door. Raced back in. Grabbed fifty cents, an actual 50 cent piece that I got from my grandma for my birthday. Got back on my bike that waited patiently in the driveway on its side. Rode past the gravel. On to the speed of the tar. Over the railroad tracks. Past the viking statue. Onto broadway. Stopped at Rexall Drug. Left my unlocked bike on the sidewalk. Emptied my pockets on the counter. Sifted through to find the 50 cent piece. Handed it to the smocked lady. Took a frozen Milky Way candy bar out of the freezer. Ate it in the sun. Got on my bike. Chocolate fingers stained the handlebars. Tar. Railroad tracks. Gravel. Home. Hose. Washed hands. Washed bike. Ran through open door. Grabbed the Laura Ingalls Wilder book from the bedroom side table. Forehead kissed each doll and animal again. Book in basket, I rode to Norton’s. “The girls aren’t home,” Mrs. Norton said. “That’s ok,” I said. And sat on their front steps to read. Finished two chapters. Forgot my bike. Walked home. Heard my mother’s car wheels on the gravel road and smiled. Raced to her car door. She gave me a kiss on the forehead. “What did you do today?” she asked. “Nothing,” I smiled.

Yesterday I drew on a piece of paper. I painted in my sketchbook. No one will buy it. What was it for? Sometimes I wonder… is it nothing? And then I remember. I race through the door of my open heart. Yes, I smile, nothing.


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The makers.

Yesterday we went on a mini-adventure. Just an hour from our home. A small village. We wanted to see the local pottery shop. It has been in operation since 1665. Something that has survived that long deserves our attention.  

Along the way, in the countryside, I saw something new. (New to me, clearly very old.) They looked like brick silos. They were to house the pigeons, my husband explained. We discussed the pigeons for many miles. Both in amazement that this was the way they used to get messages from place to place. Pigeons. Messages strapped to them. We complain when the internet is slow. 

Returning home, I sat by the window, looking up pigeons on my computer. I could see our “locals” sitting by the side of the tree. Most of “our” pigeons barely fly anymore. How lazy, I thought, then quickly caught myself as I checked my mail (my email that can arrive almost instantly from another country.)

It’s easy to forget about the makers. Those who crafted things by hand. Came up with solutions to problems. 

We ate our evening meal on the plates we purchased from the potter – the most beautiful plates I have ever seen. Each touched by human hands. Potters. Still making dishes. Not one exactly the same. Beautifully imperfect. 

We have the luxury of so many things – and I use them every day. I love technology. I am so grateful for the ease of everyday living. But I give thanks for those who got us here. And for those who continue to remind us of the journey. The makers. The hands that continue to create. Touch. The parents and grandparents that still carry the stories, messages strapped on hearts and wings. Journeys that deserve our attention — not one exactly the same. Beautifully imperfect.


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Just ride.

The trees are blanketed in last night’s rain. They don’t seem burdened, but relieved. They received what they needed.

I remember summer mornings on VanDyke road. It was gravel then. After a rainy night, (not too much, just the gentle summer kind) the road was firm and tight. It felt like I could ride my bike so much faster. And everything smelled possible. I had no schedule. No direction. I just woke up. Wiped the seat of my bike, and rode. The tops of my shoes were wet. And it felt like I was a part of it all. No different from the ground I rode on. And somehow I knew, just like the dew covered grass, and the trees and the road, I too would be given everything I need.

I haven’t missed a day of writing in 406 days. Before I began this daily blog, I thought I would have to search for the subject. But all I really needed to do was wake up, and see. Every day the world offers more magic than I can contain on paper or canvas. The birds singing. The taste of butter in the croissants. The dew covered trees.

As I walked around the house this morning to open the shutters, the tops of my shoes dampened. I smiled. It’s harder now to let go of daily worries, but when I wake up and look around, and really see, I mean really see, I have everything I need, just as I always have. No different from the youth and dampened gravel of Van Dyke road. I am a country away, but still home. I smile, and hop on today’s ride.