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The fabric of my daily life

October offering
October offering

 

 

 

 

 

Art is a nourishment that is made from the fabric of our daily life but lifts us beyond it to make us see a world bigger than ourselves.
—Edith Schloss, La Serra, 1976

 

 

Imagine me as a vat of apple butter.
Cinnamon. Blackberries. Honey.
Slow roasting for about a week.

I have been steeping in early October here in the Berkshires.

Steeping in deep thought as the season shifts, cooking and baking and organizing in the house, raking up my compost bins, all in preparation for winter cold. I have hung yards of laundry, all the dishtowels, and bedding and things that I won’t hang out in the winter. I had to move my summer studio table indoors, which is no small feat. I get all spread out, like feet do when they are out of shoes for months on end. My rubber stamps burst beyond boxes, my tiny bits of painted papers tumble around, everything I tuck in to books to find later becomes imperative to locate and I just have to go through it all. Which means, like with the apples, I cull. Seeds, stems, that which no longer serves my very deepest purpose get composted, recycled or just plain old thrown out.

where I write in to the night
where I write in to the night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which all takes time.

getting the dishtowels and napkins out in the sunshine
getting the dishtowels and napkins out in the sunshine

I learned how to make a very delicious pear tea from Janet, which might be helpful if you have the cold that is visiting everyone here in the Berkshires. (She will likely post a more complete telling of this recipe here, but this is my simple version.)  Macerate chopped up lemons, fresh ginger and an Asian pear in a jar, just covered with raw honey. Let it sit in your fridge for a day or two. Roll the jar around a few times; making sure the lid is securely screwed on. Lift off tablespoons of the resulting liquid in to the bottom of a teacup and fill it with boiling water. Extra bonus tidbits of lemon and ginger and pear can be dipped in to the cup for the drinker to nibble. When I served this to my really allergy-racked Catherine, she gave a certain, “Oh Momma, yum…thank you…” that was gurgled through the steam rising over her Peter Rabbit teacup.

Pear tea
like this only with more honeyAnd I have some terrific news.

I guess I will just give you the news because there is so much else to write about, but I don’t want to keep you from going off to chop ginger and find the honey.

Our movie, from the women of Out of the Mouths of Babes, The Permission Slip
has won an award! The Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival has awarded us the Curator’s Choice award. Karen and I are trundling off to Worcester on Saturday to see our film in the matinee reel. Might you join us there? Here is information.

And, an interview I wrote in response to Megan Gray’s questions about being a creative mother can be found here. When I get writing about motherhood and creative practice I just keep going, which is helpful because that is pretty much what my book, Laundry Line Divine: a Wild Soul Book for Mothers is all about. This week, Catherine is mildly miserable having just made it through a run at the SAT, a standardized five-hour test on Saturday. Additionally, college visits are the topic of any and all conversations relating to homework, clothing, essays, facial hair, shoes, coats, health, rest, rehearsals, applications, complexion, cost, aims, distance, schedule and sleep.

Leaf

And, the light, the light, the light of these early fall days is sumptuous. We bundle up and sit outside to eat our meals as often as we can. I found a spoon that had dipped in to a jam jar out on the picnic table, still stained with dark purple. The bowl of the spoon held a bit of blue sky and the tracks of lips that lingered over the sweet.

Savoring, both the sweet and the tart.

I hope you are well.
Thank you for reading me here.
Big lovely renovations are in store for Laundry Line Divine. Much in the same way I have organized my studio, I am culling, relabeling and upgrading your experience here. But, it will be me, here, still, offering you what I can of my days in an effort to lighten yours, wherever you are.

Real life, sacred refuge, inspired community.
xoS

 

Here is one of the Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival Curator’s Choice award winner!

Congratulations to each and every contributor, to Ingrid Wendt-our brave poet who speaks her own words here and to my beloved Terri L. Bocklund for her beautiful guitar playing.

The Permission Slip from Suzi Banks Baum on Vimeo.

Please share it with your friends. Like it, pass it on, post it around. We will be celebrating this weekend at Rabbit Heart, so in honor of that, give yourself extra spoonfuls of permission for me, okay?

Spending my days with grapes

 

Pear and juice

 

“How we spend our days, is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

-Annie Dillard

 

 

How are you spending your September days?

 

 

Here in the Berkshires, the sun’s heat has softened, the grapes ripen, the peaches live in the cloud of fruit flies on the counter and homework needs doing by the teenager across the table from me. (She who refuses to let me take a photo of her. Believe me, she is there. Sniffing with allergies. Hair wet from a shower. Cheeks all flushed from a bike ride.)

How I spent my day today included two trips to the hardware store, different hardware stores because I melted the hose that siphons boiling hot juice in to jars from my steam juice extractor. It is a bubbly efficient business when it works well, but when it doesn’t, no one much knows how to fix the problem. My friend Janet, who is a preserving maven, suggested it might be time to take a rest from canning, but I am a woman with a mission. Grape jelly is on my mind. Janet and I picked armloads of grapes and since I already have 11 jars of juice put up-deep purple and thick-(you want to visit me this winter on a chilly gray day when I serve you some hot Tulsi tea with a shot of grape juice in it) instinct tells me it is time for jelly.

Grapes, Basil, Apples

I am not tired or grumpy about it. My afternoon had room for this running around, in between vacuuming, hanging two loads of wash, and not doing the 75 other things I thought I would do before the original hose melted.

Does this mean I will spend my life running around fixing stuff so I can do the thing I originally set out to do? Or does this mean, according to Annie Dillard, that I will spend my life tuning my tools that I employ to savor the harvest of any one given day? Some days those tools are hoses with an inner diameter of 5/16″ and not 1/4″, other days those tools are Sharpie writing pens or Uniball Signo pens that write on acrylic painted pages just fine or preparing a lunch that won’t wilt in my daughter’s back pack before 11:00 AM.

My tools vary. My mission is consistent.

Dahlia

I am memorizing my own writing for a show I am in next week. It is a funny business, writing my own material. I often read my work in public, but memorizing it means then I have to ACT it and acting means that I have to figure out my motivation in the piece. When I write, I am not always thinking about why. I am thinking about is.

 

And today is grape juice for jelly day.

Today is September 15. I have been my new age for a week now.

Today is the day I visited with my sister-in-law and learned a bunch of new things about her.

Today is the day I went to yoga and learned a few new things about myself.

 

I guess I spend my days curious.

 

Did you get to read much this summer?

I read Euphoria by Lily King and Home by Marilynne Robinson and Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund. I highly recommend each of these books. That was my second go round with Ahab’s Wife and I loved it even more this time.

Do you have any book recommendations?

Rudbeckia

 

My friend Lissa Rankin, who has a piece in An Anthology of Babes, has a new book in the works. I got an advanced copy today of The Anatomy of a Calling and I suggest you put it on your gift list. Once I read it fully, I will write more about it here. Lissa has suffered the loss of several people close to her this month and has a new piece about death and the Universe here. Our community in the Berkshires has also had an unexpected death of a joyful, purposeful man, friend, husband and Lissa’s words remind me to stay open in the face of confusing loss.

There is one more seat available in my Sacred Refuge Sunday, which begins this Sunday. If you have been debating about it, now is the time to jump in.

 

Here is all my love to you and thanks for making Laundry Line Divine part of your day.

Best,

 

S

 

 

The brightness

Light in San Fruttuosa

“Then let light be,” I said, “a process, a movement of brightness through whatever it passes through.”

-Sena Jeter Naslund
Ahab’s Wife 1999 Perennial Press

 

 

 

 

 

The rain on Superior

This day, Friday, in Italy right now where the bells just rang the fifteen of nine and you are likely still asleep, unless you are one of my German readers or you live in Cornwall, England, in which case this post arrives with your mid-morning tea break, or at a café filled with women in day dresses and fine shoes, tanned not because it is chic, but because they live in a town on the beach and to reach the market one has to walk, thus the tan, and I am turning towards home.

This is our final day of this month-long time away and I have not written much here on Laundry Line Divine for a bunch of reasons, mostly having to do with swimming and my sisters and dear friends and hours of boules or walking. This has been a time of looking up and out at the horizon, sunrises and sets, clouds moving like alligators swallowing the edge of the earth that just ever so slightly tips into the mouth of the beast of time, devouring our hours. And now, sunflower-like, I turn towards home. Toward that light.

I have not come to any great conclusions on this trip, but I have asked a lot of questions. I have not decided on the exact next steps for myself here on Laundry Line Divine, or my personal life, but I do know plums and my kids will feature prominently. I have not woken up to flashes of insight, but I have studied the shape of the faces of the people I love and seen light rise from within them.

Found poetry and a bee in my journal

What I do know is that brightness has passed through me, leaving marks on lives and on paper, on paths and in to fruit tarts and collages, postcards and the exchange of large beautiful paper monies for round, ripe cheeses. Light as an exchange, as brightness moving through, from one to the other and on again.

Cheeses in Camogli

I desire so much. I dream wildly. And I wake up to each new day knowing this is the adventure that has been made for me, whether it includes hours of writing or chopping onions for risotto, whether there will be hands held on hills lined with heavy pink bougainvillea or threading needles with thick thread that will pierce paper that becomes a book.

Paula sewing in Camogli
Paula sewing in Camogli

A book that becomes the place where what is inside the maker finds roost outside the maker and in this making of a place, a sacred refuge, change happens, reflection becomes new thought and again, this brightness.

The eye of bread
The eye of bread in Camogli

So, send prayers for safe travel. I treasure these pages, the bright white spaces where my inner meets yours and we are some form of brightness all together. May your early September days be filled with light, and the morning that meets your dreams be easy and slow.

All my love,

S

By the way: Laundry Line Divine on the road

With Maike at the refugio
With Maike at the refugio

Maintaining a blog while on vacation is hard work.

The vacation I am on right now has been partly work, so work with work means that something had to go. I could be here with photos and a travelogue. But, I needed time further way from this site, just to clear my head and reassess what I am about here. There are stories to come of this summer adventure, but this morning, after a night of lightning and thunder and tumultuous dreams brought on by either our long hike yesterday and swims in the Mediterranean or by the large helping of Tiramisu I had after a late dinner, I urgently feel the desire to show up.

The path
the path to San Fruttuosa

My friend Marisa Goudy has written in to this theme over the summer of traveling with her two small girls. She and I both live with the aim to see the sunrises and sunsets, to have the conversations and interactions and nibble up the nubbly bits that make up real life with families, and live to tell the tale. We both have book projects brewing and are skating the lands of life, love and liberty while mothering as business artists.

While I have been away, my kids have been wrangling themselves at home. One has traveled with friends, navigated some thorny issues with different people in her life and prepared herself for the SAT test and as of today, gotten her self to her first day of school-without me there with a camera to freeze her briefly in time, new jeans, hair all tied back, off to school in her big girl clothes. She is a senior this year.

To the sea
where I always want to go….to the sea

The other has spent a few weeks getting ready to move in to his new digs at college. We talked this over thoroughly before we parted. What I do know is he is moved in and classes began. Whether the floor got mopped before he set up his bed, I do not know. I do know I did not mop it.

So, if what I share with you here on Laundry Line Divine is what I know, this month I know the space that happens when I take a step back from the spinning gyroscopes of my kids’ lives and let them live those lives, thorns and all, without me hovering nearby, with a mop and a solution. What I do know are some dandy struggles of my own, handled on the road, with my husband and my traveling art kit. What I do know are the tethers of my connection with both of our children are elastic and well founded because no matter how far any of us wander, we are right here, on a phone call, leaving a text, sending post cards, navigating the full spectrum of our lives, in this new way of being together.

I can’t say if I am doing any of this particularly well, but I can say that I have gotten to know my kids better this month, from a distance. I certainly have had long hours of uninterrupted thinking or not thinking, of teaching, of walking and walking, and of being with my husband and getting to those nubbly bits of our relationship and savoring them, together.

My art table in Camogli, Italy
my art table in Camogli, Italy

Life with kids and creative practice is never neat and orderly. Living it fully, on the road or at home, means some days I swim, some days I take cover from the thunder and lightning, for refuge, for reflection or just simply for fun.

Here is a beautiful piece about Oliver Sacks.
Here is a wonderful peek in to the creative process of a mother artist, Valerie Carrigan.
Here is a prayer, that, with the rain last night, falls in to my lap and assures me that in the unexpected is the wonder of real.

For this, all these surprises, I am grateful.

God give us rain when we expect sun.

Give us music when we expect trouble.

Give us tears when we expect breakfast.

Give us dreams when we expect a storm.

Give us a stray dog when we expect congratulations.

God play with us, turn us sideways and around.

Amen.

– Michael Leunig

Fruits of the season

xo,

S

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