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Start Where You Are: Tuesday in the trees

Storm King Alley

There is a warm undercurrent in the air today, like a swirl of caramel in my friend Janet’s applesauce.

Tart with a warm vein pulsing sweetness.








Grass at Storm King




I have been to several hallowed places over the past few days. This does include the Registry of Motor Vehicles up in North Adams where my 16 year old took her driving test last Wednesday. She handled a very common, but potentially dangerous situation with her understated confidence, which caused the terse RMV instructor to drop her guard for a few minutes and praise my daughter. Both of them were happily surprised and relieved. My girl went on to execute a fine K-turn and forgot to use her emergency brake when parking. She parallel parked behind a van driven by a very attractive electrician who reached for a heavy case flexing every muscle in his angled back for my daughter’s benefit. She pulled in, pulled up and “prepared her vehicle for leaving it overnight” while keeping an eye on the guy. But when her instructor admonished her for under use of the parking brake and praised her quick decision-making and passing skills, my girl was aflutter with joy at having passed her test.

I remained silent, as was requested of me, for the whole trip. She had left my back passenger window open, so I was able to send prayers freely and on the breeze with not one care in the world but to be quiet. We cheered on the sidewalk after the whole thing was over. The electrician had vanished, having hauled himself and his heavy tools in to a storefront.

Thursday, I visited Storm King Sculpture Park over in Goshen, New York. For all these years of passing that outdoor museum, I have never stopped. I was there with two friends. We painted and walked, ate apples and photographed. It was an adventure with lunch and paint.

Then, on Sunday, we took my exchange daughter in to New York City. We like to drift, so having a few spare agenda points in a long set of hours suits us all well. We went from the Upper West Side down to the site of the World Trade Center Memorial Park. There were many people there. People standing, taking photos, praying, crying, laughing, touching the water, running their fingertips over the names names names that surround the terraced fountain.

We the People at the WTC Memorial Park in New York City by Suzi Banks Baum
We the People at the WTC Memorial Park in New York City by Suzi Banks Baum

I drew for a while. This always makes me slow down and see details I might otherwise miss. I noticed people walking up to a tree, different from the Swamp White Oaks that line the park, and special for being fenced with a metal railing and staked carefully with rubber straps around it’s branches. A man stood with his hand on the thick trunk as if he was a doctor feeling for a pulse or a healer applying his energy. I stood listening to him tell the story of the Survivor Tree.

The Callery Pear

You can read all about it here. This Callery Pear tree grew on the plaza near buildings 4 and 5. It survived the collapse of the Towers and being buried in rubble for three months. When workers at the site found green shoots coming up through the piles of debris in November, they knew these signs of life were worth salvaging. The tree spent a few years at Van Cortlandt Park recuperating and in 2010 it was replanted in Memorial Park. People place offerings, wreathes, flowers in the tree, they put their hands on the tree, as if this one live thing can bless. It is a gorgeous tree. President Obama has spoken next to this tree and many people stand in hushed company with this tree daily.


Rainbow at the WTC Memorial Park in NYC

I don’t know what will bless me next. A tree. A driving instructor. Golden leaves falling in a shower across my laundry line, filling the gullies made by sheets hung between the lines with leaves and pine needles. Whatever shows up has the potential to bless.

When I open my computer to write these posts, I am never sure what will touch you readers. I write to describe what life is like for me, here, in this small town, with these children, with this life and appetite to make things. I write to make sense of my experience. My longing is to express, to digest thoughts and cohere, which makes me think, Co-Hear—to listen along with you, to what traces my day.

There are so many ways to see things.
We could have seen the driving instructor has strict and authoritative, punitive and demanding. Or, we could take her instruction and enjoyed flexing our driving muscles for her to see and receive her hard won praise.
That tree, just a stumpy ruined thing, could have been discarded among all that terrible chaos. But, the signs of life, the green, and the tree’s vitality called out to the people working in that place.

There are signs of life all around us. Signs that we are on to something. Signs of vitality. I just have to be quiet enough to see them.

Golden Tree at Storm King

Have a good old week.
October feels so much like a mature person to me. I love being in its fuzzy golden aura.
I am teaching my Powder Keg Ramsdell Sessions on the 15th and 22nd.
This coming Sunday, the 19th is my monthly Powder Keg Sunday Session. Please email me if you are interested in either event.

Coming up on October 31, while some are trick-or-treating, I will be at Skidmore College with the Women Writers Artists Matrix as Siren of Ceremonies for the Friday evening Salon. This weekend of art, writing and wellness is a great boost of nourishment as we head in to November and the triple threat set of holidays ahead.

Wherever you are, watch for signs of life.





This Little Light of Mine

Jaq Belcher

Access Point 2012
hand cut paper, 5,071 cuts
42″ x 42″ framed

The most regretful people on Earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”

Mary Oliver

I have quite a mouthful to say about time and being creative.

But, being Friday evening with dinner and all the rest is at bay, I give you this immensely beautiful creation by my friend Jaq Belcher.
Jaq is a paper sculptor. She does things with paper I never imagined.

Here is where you can find her work.

Here is where her work will be exhibited in New York City with an opening on May 10.

And here, on the Laundry Line is where you can be assured that whether a doodle or a paper cut like this, your individual expression is important in the world and worth the time it takes to create.

This is what my friend Lissa Rankin, who posts messages like this one from ‘Your Inner Pilot Light’ on Face book. Lissa is celebrating three years since a major career change and big shift in her life choices. You can see her blog post about the celebration here. Lissa’s ‘Out’ post is here.

Why is it that we so often prioritize work and trivialize creative expression? How long has it been since you’ve written in your journal, pulled out the watercolors, made candles out of beeswax, created jewelry, knitted a sweater, made a scrapbook, or decorated a table with fall leaves? When you create, you give me an opportunity to come out and play. And here’s the secret most don’t understand.When you let me come out and play, your work reflects how awesome I am and it all comes full circle. All work and no play makes me dim my light.

The planet is counting you shining your light. 
I send you all my love for this coming weekend.
Now, about dinner, 

P.S. I retrieved this post from the jumble that happened when I switched servers. This was originally posted on April 27. Whatever we had for dinner must have been good or at least passable. Tonight we are having these beans from my dear Janet. They have become my Monday meal. I must tell you a funny story about Jonathan and those very beans. xo S

Half Heartedness from April 18

This post appeared on April 18. Then, it disappeared. Now, found and returned, it is here.

Hellebores in Central Park April 2012

April 18, 2012 NYC

Have you been kinda wondering where I have been? 
Not to London to visit the Queen, though in this season of hellebores, I love to be in foggy old England, where the climate is just right for this magnificent plant.
No, I am on a college tour with my family.
 We are in New York City right now, where the street art is completely captivating.

Tuesday, Catherine and I toured the Brooklyn Art Library with Karen Arp-Sandel. We met our cyber sister, blogger, artist and yogini Lori Landau, whose blog post in the ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes’ blog series continues to inspire readers. We all have sketchbooks in the library. Do look them up if you find yourself in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. A perfect spot to urban drift.

Tomorrow we are off to the Philly area. I will post all about it, but before I tell you about these days, I have to share the amazing experience I had last weekend as an actor (my first profession, laid aside long ago to be a full time Mom and just recently reengaged with- last weekend was the first time I was on stage in a play in 17 years). I had an absolute blast. As soon as I get the official photos, I will post. Here is one of mine.

The People of Corn rehearse by Laura Badami WAM 24 Hour Theatre Project
The People of Corn rehearse by Laura Badami WAM 24 Hour Theatre Project

I am always collecting things for you to read, like this article. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
This is a really interesting read if you are counting who, on the TIME magazine’s list of the world’s most influential people of the 30 women are mothers. Read on.
And, here is a Rumi for you to ponder. I am becoming more and more sure that halfheartedness will keep me quiet and unseen. I prefer to be visible. Much easier to create light this way.

Half Heartedness
Gamble everything for love,
if you are a true human being.

If not, Leave this gathering.

Halfheartedness does not reach
into majesty. You set out

to find God, but then you keep

stopping for long periods

at mean-spirited roadhouses.


As April turns to May, I am still savoring the sweet loft that Berkshire Festival of Women Writers has provided for so many women in the Berkshires. This scene of 3 Berkshire authors, Gina Hyams, Mary Pope Osborne and Tracy Mack visiting at our March 2 event of ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes’ is perfect capture of the spirit of our community. Thank you Christina Rahr Lane for these gorgeous photos.

My posts will catch up to me.
I promise.

This year is three today and it’s time to dance!

This is one of those blogs where you take your shoes off, stand up and sing with Natasha Bedingfield.
Can you read and dance at the same time?
I wanna know, because that is what I am doing.

I got this video from my friend Lissa Rankin who has a very good thing going here.

Until my next post, I will be drifting NYC my my husband during these last 4 days of our marriage improving 10 days on our own while the kids have a fantastic time away from us with our German family. Thanks to Ursula and Werner, we have spent 6 days so far, speaking in uninterrupted sentences. It is a miracle.
And we really miss our kids.
So, if they are reading this post, just know you are loved with the vastness of this galaxy and beyond.

Travel safe and well, wherever you are.
All my love for this New Year,

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