Jodi Hills

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


Good morning, Kitchen!

There was no Sunday afternoon that couldn’t be filled with a dream.

I always finished my homework by Saturday. Never one to be scrambling during the last minutes of Sunday evening. No, Sunday was for dreaming. It was in those precious hours of nothing left to do, and nothing yet to begin, that we would allow ourselves the most luxurious dreams.

Lying in front of the oversized stereo in our undersized apartment, replaying the same small stack of 45s over and over, my mother and I would dream for hours. We had several prompts, but one of our favorites was “what would you do if you lived in a big house?”

“I wouldn’t have a reading nook,” she said. “What? You love to read…” “No, she said, “I would move from room to room, reading a different chapter in every space. I would let the words wander throughout every hallway.” “Oh, yes!” I said, “Me too!” “And every room would have a mirror,” she laughed. “Of course,” I said. “And I would dress for each room. And I wouldn’t leave any space unvisited.” I jumped up from the carpet. “I would say good morning to the beds and the bathroom! Good morning,kitchen! Good morning,library!” She got up now too. “And I would dance in every room,” she said as she twirled me to the point of dizzy — to the point of believing all things possible.

Knowing this, it’s probably no surprise that I once wrote that you should fall in love with your bathroom. Nor a surprise that today I tell you to do the same with your kitchen. I changed the picture on the counter, putting up my newest portrait. The counter I face at our breakfast table. The counter that holds the bread that I make. The bread that we toast and add the jam that I make from the trees in our yard. The breakfast backed by the radio songs of “jazz and soul,” and the fuel that feeds the conversations in which we save the world. How could I not fall in love with a space that provides all of this. A space that welcomes us without regard to mood or weather. Every morning this kitchen says, “Come in, you and your heart sit down.”

Life is not perfect. But one does not love a space less for having lived in it. Glasses will break. Food will burn. Crumbs will fall. Paint will chip. But I will go on loving because I was taught to enjoy “the dreaming,” as much as “the dream come true.”

I wipe the counter and take all the morning love to my office. Hello computer! What story should we tell today?

Leave a comment

Hotel breakfast.

I call it hotel breakfast. It can be as easy as putting out the extra homemade jam. Changing the artwork on the counter. But it feels special to me. Like that feeling when you walk from your hotel room down through the lobby, following the scent of coffee, and then seeing the magnificent spread on the table. I suppose maybe it’s all about the luxury of choice. And if I can give that to myself, to us, with just an extra jar of jam, why wouldn’t I do that every day in our own home? Why wouldn’t I give us the chance to feel a little extra special? The chance to begin the day choosing joy. 

I don’t know if my grandma visited many luxury hotels. But somehow she knew. I read in her diary about her first kiss behind the Alexandria Hotel. I assumed at the time it was grandpa, but I can’t be sure. Maybe it was here, too, that she had her first hotel breakfast. I’d like to think so. Something sweet on a white tablecloth. Tasting of choice and possibility. A kind of sweetness that when kissed on lips it stays with you. Lingers in the farm house so quickly filled with children and grandchildren. Lingers and rests in the cupboard to the right of the sink. On the bottom shelf. The variety pack of Kellogg’s Cereal. A variety pack that certainly was too expensive, but something she could not afford to pass up. Something she had to pass on to her grandchildren. Giving them the sweet choice of possibility. Making them feel so special. With each sugary spoonful, created just for them. She did this for us. 

The sun comes up. I have a choice to make. So I put out the extra jam. I begin the day knowing that this day is special. That I am. That we are. What could be sweeter than this!!!!?

Leave a comment

A taste of the divine.

I begin to miss it immediately. That last bite of toast. A spoon licked clean of homemade jam. And the cup’s final drop of coffee — it’s strongest sip of the morning.  As Virginia Woolf would say — “a sip of the divine specific.” 

Maybe it’s the newness of it all. The beginning. The conversation so fresh and coherent, laced with headlines and caffeine.  Lingering in the sugared possibilities, I am not doing. Not ahead, nor behind, I just am. I know that soon I will be studying, typing, splashing, moving, creating, but at this moment, while the beans have magically moved from brew to waft,  I float with them, over tabled worries and responsibilities. Light as I will be.

I am, by nature, a day-filler. I’m a doer. A “let’s get things done” person. And I love it. To create is joy. Whether it is canvas or confiture (jam), I have a real need to make it. A pace that speeds me to the blur of day’s end. A pace that outruns (sometimes), that overcomes (sometimes), but always forces me to stop. And just before I fall to sleep, brushing away the should-haves and could-haves, weeding through the less-than-“devine,” I smile, I breathe, comforted by the calming thought — it’s almost time for breakfast.

Leave a comment

Saying grace.

I never had an alarm clock growing up. Just the thought of it sounds, well, alarming. My mom did though. It was just one of the many things she took on, so I wouldn’t have to. She absorbed the morning jolt, tiptoed to the bathroom, brushed and washed. If I wasn’t roused by the gentle clinking of her makeup, she would come into my bedroom, and start my day with whispered hand on shoulder. Toast popped up in the kitchen. Smiles set the day’s intention. Maybe we didn’t fold hands in prayer, but you’d be wrong to say she didn’t start the day saying grace. 

Of course there was a world of concern around her, around us, but if she woke with worry, it never showed in her hands. I guess she learned that from her mother. I pray I’ve done the same. 

I begin each day now, in another time, another country. But there’s coffee on the table. And kindness in the air. I give thanks, and whisper with the gentle clink of the keyboard — Good morning.