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Stir the book, stir the cake

Stir the book

Books are exciting things.

They are artfully made to tantalize you to pick them up.

And often, what they contain tantalizes you further.


What is on your summer reading pile?

Jessica Fechtor’s Stir arrived this weekend and today, I baked this cake from the first chapter. You can too, here. Or you can get your own copy of her well-told tale that is punctuated, as those toasted almonds and granulated sugar dot that cake, plentifully, with recipes.


Also on my tippy pile:


We have taken a few hikes already and I desire many more.


Pleasant Valley Sanctuary

And I desire more painting and figuring things out in books, which is what I love to do best of all…paint, write, draw…fold, cut, burnish, print, scratch…fold some more…and sew. Then write.


Back porch studio

Here is lots of love to you for this summer evening.

Look at me.

summer morning writing
summer morning writing

Honesty is the net by which we fish the deep.
-Mark Nepo

I am thinking a lot, a very lot, about attention these days.
Undivided attention.

The kind of attention where you notice hazel flecks in otherwise brown eyes.
The kinds of attention where you sit watching a stunned small woodpecker regain
it self after smacking in to your porch window, under which you too sit, a bit stunned, trying to regain the same.
The kind of attention that is what I call “hands free living.”

Maybe this will be a perennial topic for me?
Maybe living with kids, who are quickly becoming emerging adults, as my friend Alison Leah Sher names her generation, means that I will be asking for full attention at the dinner table or in conversation.
Are you one, like me, who likes to notice the flecks?


Undivided attention is a gift.

Poet Mark Nepo says,

“We can find our place in the beauty of things by the attention we can give.”

I wish he’d been at the dinner table last night.
It was not pretty.
I was not pretty.

But motherhood is like that, right?

I am salvaging myself by writing, reading and sorting out books and linens against the ensuing humidity and navigating the alleys of clothing and gear that are strewn in the hallway upstairs. I know I am not the only mother of a teen and an about to be 21-year-old who have to pick steps from the bathroom to my bedroom. Right? Please tell me I am not the only one.

I spent this weekend studying with the luminous Lisa Sonora, author of the Creative Entrepreneur at my beloved friend Catherine Anderson’s studio in Charlotte, NC. I am hot on the trail of upgrading my work here on Laundry Line Divine, clearing the decks so I can complete my own book this year and offer you, my readers a clearer view of what I do here and in the world.

You know I am devoted to the stories of women, in particular the stories of mothers.
My own stories included.

That means, I show up at the page, this one and in my journals, first, before doing other stuff like email and errands and other work stuff pertaining to mothering or teaching. I have to show up here. I have to give myself undivided attention; otherwise I spend the rest of the day botching every single interaction because I am not clear. I have not done the sacred work of connecting with my spirit through writing or painting or whatever else I do that connects me. We each do different practices, but do them we must.

I see this in the Powder Keg Sessions, my writing workshops for women. After thirty minutes or so of centered, quiet writing, no matter what emotional pot was over-boiling the rims of their days, the writers at my table carry forward some truth on to the page that brings tears or laughter or hushed awe when it is read aloud.

Owning our stories is standing in our truth. It’s transformative in our personal and professional lives AND it’s also critical in our community lives. But we don’t think about history as our collective story.

-Brené Brown

If you are hungry to step towards your inner life with a pen, to journal, please consider Lisa Sonora’s 30 Day Journal project. I am one of the contributors to this free offering. The theme is “In the flow.” Summer is a time when our days are different. Even if our jobs remain steady, our hours are different because the daylight is different. If your house if busy with kids, take a journal for a walk and find a park bench to sit and write for a bit each evening. If you can get out when dark falls, find an open field to watch the fireflies. Carve out some time to wander.

My Autumn Joy clematis blooms in June
My Autumn Joy clematis blooms in June

Like Mary Oliver says,

“You too came in to the world to do this. To go easy. To be filled with light and to shine.”

On Literary Mama this week, my Questmate Saundra Goldman wrote this:

“As a student of writing practice, I should have known better than to look outside myself for the direction of my book. I should have trusted the story was within me.”

I trust that the stories I have to tell are already within me. It takes undivided attention to get to them. That is why I am teaching my Mapping Motherhood class for six days at the International Women’s Writing Guild in Litchfield, CT in late July. Come explore the uncharted territory of your life experience with me with literary and mixed media tools. The summer conference is ripe with wonderful teachers and opportunities for new and experienced writers.

If you are in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, big news. I am offering my Slow Time Salon on Superior in Big Bay on Sunday, August 16. This daylong immersion in writing, art and mindfulness is an intimate visit with your own undivided attention. Then on August 20, I will be giving an artist talk at the Escanaba Public Library about a daily writing practice with a pop-up exhibit of my hand-bound journals and later that day, a writing workshop for women AND men! Stay tuned here for more details on these events.

Here is all my love to you and gratitude for your undivided attention here on Laundry Line Divine. Please share this post with a friend.


PS Tonight is our final Powder Keg Ramsdell Session. We reconvene on September 23. Sunday, June 28, is our final Powder Keg Sunday Session. We meet at noon this Sunday. Keep your ear out for news on these offerings as I will be upgrading them this coming fall.
PPS go find some fireflies, please.
PPPS if you are in the Berkshires, July 7 I am part of this reading event at the Mount.
PPPPS Here is a poem by Taylor Mali titled Undivided Attention.
PPPPPS If you are in the Berkshires, consider attending an evening with Dave Isay of StoryCorps at the Mahaiwe on August 5. More on this in another blog post, but read here for more information.

Saturday morning news

from a wall installation in the studio of Catherine Anderson, who makes art where she is, all the time.
from a wall installation in the studio of Catherine Anderson, who makes art where she is, all the time.

Good morning Laundry Line Diviners!

Solstice greetings to you each and lots of love from Charlotte where I am making art with Lisa Sonora and Catherine Anderson and a circle of inspired creatives.

Brief news this morning.
One, Julie Bond Genovese won a copy of The Tanglewood Picnic. Watch your mail in the next week, Julz!
Two, I hear this movie is hilarious. JNB highly recommends that you pee before you see the movie, because otherwise, you may wet your seat.
Three, happy summer. I hope you have many sweet hours today when you remember what a miracle you are, in skin, right there, reading these words.

Everybody is a story. When I was a child, people sat around kitchen tables and told their stories. We don’t do that so much anymore. Sitting around the table telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way that wisdom gets passed along. The stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering. Despite the awesome powers of technology many of us still do not live very well. We may need to listen to each other’s stories once again.

– Rachel Naomi Remen, Kitchen Table Wisdom
from One Spirit this morning.

Thank you for your love and support of my work here on Laundry Line Divine where creative, domestic and wild gather, where your story matters.


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