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3 Favorite Frames of the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers.

Margaret, Amy and Gabrielle at Out of the Mouths of Babes March 1, 2013

Before April arrives in her muddy boots I must savor a few more moments of Out of the Mouths of Babes An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others on March 1. As I write, I am listening to a recording of the event and the sounds I love the most, above Michelle, Janet, Jenny, Nichole and Alana’s reading voices are the sounds of the audience- laughing, gasping, groaning in recognition of the truths revealed in the beautiful writing we heard that night. The audience warmly embraced all the readers, singer Stephanie Campbell and special guest Susan Engel.

I appreciate every single person who attended March 1. Thank you.

The Front Row listens
My dear Michealena and Cheri at Out of the Mouths of Babes
Audience at Out March 2013

I rented Dewey Historical Hall for our evening in the heart of Sheffield, MA. I love the feeling of a town meeting, all the wood and plaster walls. Like the church basement kitchens I grew up in, the coffee mugs were so clean and neatly organized on easy-to-slide-out-of-cupboards trays. It was a joy to produce this event at Dewey Hall and I felt the common ground of our missions. Dewey Hall ‘s mission is to “promote intelligence and cheerfulness for all” and mine is “to see and celebrate the sacred in daily living, to create venues for the stories of women to be heard and celebrated, particularly the stories of mothers”. We are a good match, Dewey Hall and Laundry Line Divine.

Thank you Dewey Historical Hall. What a lovely place.

Coffee mugs
Dewey Hall

Lastly, I loved how people bought copies of the anthology and read it right there in the hall. We sold the book at intermission and by the end of the evening two people won signed copies. Just like the satisfaction gained from grins of pleasure from the people who enjoy a meal I have made, watching readers dive in to the anthology held the same feeling for me. You get to dive in to the stories of a wide variety of women with different takes on a creative life. Tears and laughter abound. I have so enjoyed hearing responses from readers like Barbara Aycock of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina who said:

I love your book & would love to purchase 5 or more copies for women I know & love. There is a wonderful & powerful voice heard in each of the writings & I found myself underlining, writing notes in the margins, & turning back page corners as I read. It is a wonderful gift, & I am deeply grateful.

Gentle reader

Thank you readers and thank you Barbara!

As I leave you this evening, I must tell you a few things.

1. The Out of the Mouths of Babes blog series will continue with full and lusty posts from Anthology authors and new writers to LLD. Today we have a gorgeous post from Stacey Mattraw, of Portland, Oregon and Cortona, Italy. Stacey will be visiting me here in the Berkshires in early April and I cannot wait to make some art with her. Here is her post.

2. The Powder Keg Sessions writing workshops for mothers and others will continue on in April through June. If you aren’t in the Berkshires but would like to dip your quills and write, consider joining me at the International Women’s Writing Guild
Big Apple conference on April 13-14 in New York City. Here is where you can learn more about Powder Keg and see some of our doodles and writing.

I hope your holiday Holy Day weekend is filled with time to read, to cook, to walk, to look across the table at your life mates and offer a few moments of gratitude for their good company.

Here is joy from my heart to yours,


P.S. Several people have asked to read the piece I read on March 1 titled My Oshitashi Boy about life in the kitchen with my son…who is just now learning about which colleges he is being accepted in to. I will include it in the blog series next week. xo S

Mothers and Emerson

#wool #yarn from #Maine washed in the #ocean . NYS Sheep and Wool Fair. XoS

I am in an Emerson mood these days.

Then I read this quote of his in a 1904 book, Forty Thousand Quotations, gifted me by my pal Sarah:

Men are what their mothers made them.


No wonder we are so busy.
All these boys to tend.
All these girls to be role models for.

Then there is the laundry.

I am okay with that.
Truly, I’d love about 32 more hours in the day so I could have a long ramp up in to hours of studio time along with a few hours to knit, take a long honking walk and write a few letters.

But, this week, of the hurricane and helping my kids with their life projects- navigating rumors, an early decision college application, lunch bags left in the library for 5 days and that means my thermos is AWOL…these things take time and energy.

And, I know that the attention I pour in to my children, even now when they are teens and can go for hours with out my reminding them to drink water or pick up their socks, I know my attention adds value to their decision making. I know my attention guides them through rocky patches. I know my attention propels them forward, if away from me, it is only because they have come through me that they can grow on with such courage and strength.

Their integrity comes from their Dad. He is a gem of unblemished beauty. And he will be traveling to Ohio to be part of a team of lawyers tending the voting stations in a state that needs support from ‘mature lawyers’. Go team!

How about you?
Are you what your mother made you?
Man or woman, I believe we are composed of aspects of our parents, impressions made from years of hands held, cheeks pressed one to another, the scent of the others’ breath in our nostrils as we exit an embrace.

My mother poured her enthusiasm in to me, full volume.
My dad, hmmmm….he died when he is the age I just turned…and so, I have less of awareness of his impression, except curiosity perhaps. I long to know him as an adult, but that was not our story this time around. He was a dear heart.



Tell me something of the impressions your parents made upon you.
Not your whole life story, just one or two things.
Let us celebrate those gifts this weekend. Your comments are spots of sunshine in the dappled days of fall. Please shine on here!

Working on #plumjam and thinking of #press in #northadams. #gettingthereiseasy is a delicious  #artexhibit.

All my love,

Independence Approach #12 Mothers and Pittsfield Artswalk 2012

Riding the waves of a hot Friday.

I am paused between fertilizing the tomatoes, a basket of whites waiting to be hung up and thinking about what I will read tonight at the open mic Living Room session in Great Barrington.

My town is full of sweet things, fresh strawberries and game people up to experiment with taking our art to the streets.

Now it is fruit salad. 100% Berkshire & Columbia county produce. #berkshires #laundrylinedivine #lifeingbma

I woke up early and realized that my art is in four locations today.
If you are near any of them, please visit.
And, if you’d like to know what it all looks like, pop over to my Face book page where I will be posting photos of this evening’s activity.


Today in Lynn, MA, my ‘The Secret and How to Tell It” Sketchbook is in the ArtHouse Coop/ Brooklyn Art Library exhibit at the Lynn Arts Center. The show is up there for the weekend. Details here.



Miranda Hersey Helin’s e-book, “A Creative Mother’s Guide”  has  wonderful creative practice suggestions and a short interview piece about me and with 12 other artist moms. You can check that out here.

Tonight, I will be at the Alchemy Initiative’s Pop-Up Gallery exhibit of mobile shot- Instagram photographs on the theme of independence. Five of my photos are in the exhibit which is all part of Pittsfield’s ArtsWalk. Here is information.

And, then at 8, I will be part of a bunch of people reading in outdoors in Pooja Roo and Gabrielle Senza’s Living Room Theatre. Here is a map. Come if you can.

I am completely grateful for the opportunity to share my work in the world.
I leave you in the capable and graceful hands of Mary Oliver and her poem Messenger, published in the collection Thirst in 2006.


My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

~ Mary Oliver ~

(Thirst, 2006)



Have a fire fly night,

Appreciations of My Mother and of Me. What about you?

Mixed Media Collage by SBB May 2012
Mixed Media Collage by SBB May 2012

It is an achingly beautiful day here in the Berkshires.
And, one that no matter what I do, I cannot soak up the sweetness enough…wake up early enough to do all I like to do before my family hops around me on one foot then the other, waiting for the fun to begin.

They have given me an hour of their time in the garden.
But first there is brunch.
And, then a performance at one.
So, the phlox a-thon will wait to three or so. (My garden is engulfed in phlox)

Today, I am listing things I love about my Mom.
And then some about me as a Mom.
Then, an invitation for you to do the same in the comment section here.
Tell me of a few moments when, like today, you could not scoop up all the goodness flowing in your life so it dribbled over like mango juice down your arm and in to your shirt sleeve.

Ten appreciations for my Mom, Joann Ruth Schauer Schmeling, who died on October 10, 2010.

1. I loved my Mom’s laugh.
2. I loved her hands, big and veined and strong.
3. I loved her gait. We walk the same way, fast and strong and long. We could wander too and lollygag…but same length of stride.
4. I love the baskets she made.
5. I love her slightly sharp singing voice singing hymns in church. She knew all the words.
6. I loved sitting with her in church as a little kid and playing the hand game with her, stacking our hands- hers, mine, hers, mine and pulling them out in order silently, waiting for the interminable sermon to be over and done with, Amen.
7. I love that she always wanted to say “ A-woman” instead, but only did that at home sometimes.
8. I love that she kept her paddle in the waters of her life, even when she was stymied, ill or upset.
9. I love that she found a great love in my stepfather later in her life.
10. I love that she took us out in to the woods often as little kids- picking berries or to find a beach or to get to the top of something.

This is from a camping trip my sister Becky and I took with Mom and Pa, our stepdad, in 1988.

Here are ten appreciations of me, as a Mom… that I embarked on 18 years ago.

1. I love that it was Jonathan and me that started this whole show.
2. I love that my pregnancies were easy.
3. I love that the miscarriages I had brought me to a deeper understanding of how rare and miraculous births are.
4. I love the voices of my kids calling to me in the house.
5. I love the sacred geometry of our bodies and the way then fit in to mine, even now.
6. I love watching them in plays or performances or out in public talking to other people…just a marvel to see them as people.
7. I love what they love about me which they are loath to admit now…I can’t imagine them making a gratitude list for me now, so steeped in detaching from me and all I am today. But one day, they will admit to the tiny things I notice that they do which tell me, we are of each other, no matter what.
8. I love hearing my girl whistle. We both love to whistle.
9. I love looking out over our backyard and having all the tracings of their feet running to and fro over that ground for 15 years in this place.
10. I love yearning for them to crawl in to bed with us in the morning like they used to do, just that sense of us all on the ship of life together, but feeling them building their own boats and really…we will likely never have that sense of tight togetherness in that way again. Our boat is bigger than our bed now…it has expanded to include the bigness of their lives and this…maybe this is why I keep dreaming about ocean liners, huge catamarans and other vessels that I never quite get to in my dreams, but am always moving towards?

Here is an interview I did with Jennifer Boire about Laundry Line Divine and mothering and my work.

Here is a link to a radio clip about mothering that I did with Melissa Rosati.

I am off to enjoy a salad-y brunch they are making for me.

I hope whatever your day brings, that you spend a moment appreciating your mom, either here on the Line or in your hearts.


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