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Thursday
Aug122010

Bourbon, Beer, and Sourdough: Sabbath Rest in the Kitchen

I need more than just the impromptu ambush of art to learn rest. I need Sabbath rhythms that provide a planned departure from the world of cacophony and aggression. As of late, one of my best teachers of this practice has been cooking recipes in which time is the main ingredient. In any given week, this could be the ever-hungry Amish sourdough starter I was feeding and constantly baking in the spring, or my always unpredictable batches of ginger beer, which once exploded from over-fermentation but more recently went straight to mold-growing due to some undetermined problem with the yeast. This last weekend, it was the Indian stew I spent four hours making on Friday night, then left in the fridge until friends came for lunch on Sunday.

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Thursday
Jul292010

Saints, Sinners, and Mary Karr

I first heard of Mary Karr four years ago in Stephen King’s book, On Writing. Within the opening pages he said, “I was stunned by Mary Karr’s memoir, The Liars’ Club. Not just by its ferocity, its beauty, and by her delightful grasp of the vernacular — but by its totality — she is a woman who remembers everything about her early years.” Wanting to soak up every bit of writing wisdom I could, I immediately ran out, bought the memoir, read the first twenty pages or so, and then hastily put it away.

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Thursday
Jul292010

Prison is Not in You

In recent years, institutional kidnappings and "show" trials of American citizens by anti-Washington governments, such as the Andrew Berends matter in Nigeria, the Euna Lee and Laura Ling case in North Korea, the Roxana Saberi case in Iran, and my case in Nicaragua have either become more common, or news desks have simply started reporting them with increasing frequency. As each of our cases played out, we were referred to as "criminal defendants" by the host country's government, but in reality, we were hostages — valuable leverage chips in the eyes of our captors.

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Thursday
Jul292010

All Aboard the Coal Train!

Every morning, I flip on the lights to my upstairs writing room, open the window blinds, and crank up some music on iTunes to rev up my brain for writing. I sing along to hymns, Radiohead, Johnny Cash, The Shins, Emmylou Harris, and all manner of songs, as if to prepare this space artistically for our children one day. I will gladly give up this room for a kid when the time comes, so it’s like I’m painting the walls in song in preparation, which of course includes silly jazz songs, too — like the Coal Train Railroad record.

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Thursday
Jul222010

Creative Community for the Common Good

A few weeks back I was privileged to sit with trustworthy friends and wrestle, yet again, to find the smallest, most potent words to describe what Art House means. This kind of exercise has played out many times in the last twenty years. We’ve been trying to put our vision into words since we first imagined the place and purpose that became The Art House home in Nashville, and our non-profit, Art House America. As we like to say, the name Art House designates place, while Art House America is an organizational title.

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