Jodi Hills

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


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The little china pig.

The Little China Pig — it is my first memory of a book. I was six years old. In the hospital in St. Cloud. They wouldn’t let my mom stay overnight with me. I was terrified. She gave me this book. (Books, forever to be my grace and pacifier.). I clung to each page. The story was about a little China Pig in a store who so wanted to be taken home. So wanted to be loved. Cared for. Taken home. I guess we all want that. Even the little girl in the hospital bed next to mine. Crying. I

cheerleaded each word over to her bed. And we were saved.
Yesterday I went into Cherry Street Books. I asked Lee for a certain title that I wanted to give for a gift. She walked me over to the section, and there it was, right next to all of my books — books that I have written, illustrated, placed right there, on the shelf. My cheerleading heart threw its hands in the air — I was home. Always saved.


I guess I have always lived in the word. What a glorious world! May it never be lost on me. May my heart forever be joyful, writing, sharing…home.


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A rose, by any other name…

In my late teens, I had to have surgery on my jaws.  The only place that was doing this procedure was in Fargo, North Dakota.  We lived two hours away, in Alexandria, Minnesota.  My mom drove a light blue mini station wagon. We had no GPS, no cell phone, and no real sense of direction, on the road, and barely in our daily lives.  
My mom set out to find the hospital. We had an address and the light of day, but soon lost both.  As the sun was setting, we drove around block after block. Nothing familiar. Nothing welcoming. The sun kept sinking and so did our spirits. “We’re never going to find it,” my mother said.  “We’re lost.” She kept driving. Slowly. “They’re never going to find us.” Still driving. “We’re going to die in North Dak… “and she stopped. Suddenly beaming.  “Oh, look!” she shouted, “there’s Herbergers!”  And we were saved.  
Herberger’s was our familiar. Our welcome.  To those of you who didn’t grow up in the midwest, it was the Department Store. The gathering place. The anchor of the mall.  It was home.  I am not ashamed to admit that it saved us so many times. It was a distraction. A diversion. A place to go behind a dressing room curtain and be whomever you wanted to be.
Now this retail therapy may be more American than I knew. Here in France, you have to anticipate what you need on Thursday, get it Friday, because Saturday is crazy busy, Sunday is closed, and Monday is closed.  Yes, Monday.  I remember being disoriented when the American stores were closed on Easter Sunday, so this was a radical change.  
It took a minute to detox, but certainly I have. Things are slower. Not better or worse, just different. I have learned a different patience (because it comes in all forms). I have found a different perspective. Closed on Mondays was not going to change, so I had to adapt. Now I look at it as a relief – “Well, we don’t have to go anywhere today, because we can’t.  What will I focus on? I should make something.”  And so I do.  Not just art, not just stories, anything. Here is my chance to make anything. Let’s make cookies. Oh, dear, we have to refrigerate for an hour? I can’t possibly wait that long. That’s how I first started. Still in a rush. Now I bake croissants. They take two days. Two days, imagine that. And worth every roll of the pin.  
Time really is nothing. It is what we do with the time. We are offered, once again a new perpective in this Covid time. It is different. It is challenging. But in this time, if we look hard enough, we will find what truly matters, we will see something, the light, and we will be saved.  

**The logo for Herberger’s was a rose – hence the title.