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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,


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.


– Michael Leunig

Fruits of the season



What does your day look like today?

The view from here. Big Bay, Michigan

Mine looks like this.
A little gray. A little rain. A soft summer day in the Upper Peninsula.
This is a rest day for me. I can head hummingbirds arguing outside. I hear kids down the beach getting in boats. We are getting ready for a hike around the Lighthouse. In the UP, unless it is a torrential downpour, we head outside anyway. The landscape is just so beautiful.

As I write this, my son’s grade school chant comes to mind, led by his fearless-leader teacher who took his class outside in any weather, “Whatever the weather, we’ll weather the weather, whether we like it or not.”

quote by Ruth Maki
quote by Ruth Maki

One of the women who attended Slow Time Salon on Superior the other day, Ruth Maki of Aura, Michigan, said something so true. Her wise words made it on to this page and I thought you’d appreciate it.

However messy the weather, may you weather it well.
With love,


Monday morning at the Lake

Morning offering on the Lake

I am typing lightly.
Everyone is asleep but JNB and me. My brother-in-law is reading quietly as the gray sky attempts a break into blue.

The sky and the Lake

This begins my weeks of remote posting and the launch of my new offering, Sacred Refuge. Writing or doing any personal practice while traveling with family is a challenge, I am game for it, and for being transparent while doing it. This, as my family likes to say, is a privileged problem. My pal Marisa Goudy posted this today and I agree.

There is no deep political strife or social issue around maintaining a creative practice while on vacation, but there is a strong desire to deepen, cultivate and not loose the thread of my thoughts/work/book/poems/solitude. Close quarters and decisions made by a group don’t always include, “hey guys I am going to skip the best day of my life on the beach to write here in my journal.” Not everyone sees your private time as priority and that is exactly why I write. No matter where you are, your personal practices are worthy of time, of priority and of consideration. My family is now accustomed to me writing alone while they play. My time is permeable though. Ben just rolled in here to hug me. He showed up here at the lake en route home from his long circle trip around the US.

Benjamin is here!

So expect to hear from me. It may be sandy. It may be short. But I am devoted to my creative practice. And that includes these posts.

Marisa suggests I leave you with a call to action.

What I ask you to consider is what I ask myself every single day, “am I willing to show up on the page even if it’s not high drama?” Creative practice happens no matter what the sky looks like. And sometimes it happens with help. My niece is here and it’s time for toast.

Ella and me


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