Jodi Hills

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

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Here was one.

The scent reached me before I reached the door. I had seen it in cartoons — this wave that traveled through the air, curling at the end to make a hook, and then pulling you in. That was the scent of my grandma making shiskis — fried dough covered in sugar. Sweet and warm it gathered you in. In my five years, I had been to the bakery on the corner of main street, but I had yet to see how things were baked.

That summer I was taken to the Douglas County Fair for the first time. The baby barn. Little tiny pigs and cows. All explained away by “it’s a miracle.” My heart still in the lead of my brain, it was enough for me, and I believed it.

When my grandmother showed me the dough for the first time, I was amazed at how that runny batter turned into something so delicious. So golden. Birthed in that very kitchen! “Is it a miracle?” I asked her. “Yes,” she said. And I believed her.

I mentioned the other day the cookies we stumbled upon at a tiny boulangerie. I wanted to recreate the happiness, so I searched the internet for a recipe. The dough didn’t look right. I checked the recipe again and again. I made the test cookie. It was nothing like what I wanted. It looked like white rubber. I closed my ipad and channeled my grandma. She never measured anything. She tweaked. And so I began. Adding sugar. A pinch of salt. A little vanilla. More butter. Test cookie. Again. A little more butter. Test cookie. Closer. More sugar. Test cookie! Golden. Delicious. I finished the batch. Curled them on my rolling pin so they resembled the French roof tiles they are named for. My miracle.

I am currently re-reading “To the lighthouse,” by Virginia Woolf. She writes,“What is the meaning of life? That was all- a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years, the great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead, there were little daily miracles, illuminations… here was one.”

I don’t know what today will bring. But I do know this — there is a plate (temporarily) full of miracles on our kitchen table.

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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.