Friday, December 30, 2011

Ah Gwai's Love Birds

On December 14th Ah Gwai’s father passed away while running around a public track.  In a single day, the young 23 year old Special Education Major, learned that not only had she just lost her beloved father, but that another family with aunts and uncles and a half brother and sister existed; a huge extended family existed right under her nose, hidden from her.

Still, Ah Gwai knew only love.  In her short sheltered life, all she had known was love.  And that was enough.

~True Story

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mrs. Ma's Houseboy

                                                      Ma Tai Tai's houseboy was very clever,
                                                      but it was clear to everyone, except Mrs. Ma, 
                                                      that her kitchen cleaner was capable of so much more.

                                                     ~for Ranjan

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Shiao Jen Decides

Little Jen visited her NiNi, a days journey by foot from home.  Her granny kept chickens and lived alone.  On the morning Shiao Jen was to return home, she thought long and hard and decided to stay and live with Granny until time to go to high school.

~these days I am in Chiang Mai, Thailand trying to relax and paint.  It is raining hard here in Mae Rim.  I have been traveling all over Asia since the beginning of September for work, and I am not done.  I return to Japan next week.  Hopefully I will get back to my mountain top retreat soon to finish what I have started.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ah Hwa’s Helping Hand
Ah Hwa had a bad time.  She had endured a period of several years where she had dropped out of school in order to help her family on the farm. She had nearly given up on any kind of future when news came of a scholarship.  “I will miss you little ducklings.”

Ben and Leigh, my children.
~posting from Sydney Australia

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Following the great Chayi earthquake of 1963, the Chen family arrived on Wu Fung Road to help with the rebuilding of Uncle Tu’ s house which had been shaken and tossed like tiles on a  mahjong table.
Mr. Chen was an expert in tile work.  This migrant family were in for many surprises when they took up residence in a small store room at the back of Uncle’s ancestral courtyards while they repaired the roof.  None of Uncle Tu’s  unusual  habits delighted them as much as the daily release of Exceeding Joy, a much beloved and love sick song bird.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lyrics To Fly By

No one knew, except for her close neighbor Mrs. Hao, that Miss T’ang wrote poetry deep into the night.  Mrs. Hao could hear the faintest musical murmur drifting to her open window.  She would stand straining to hear the beautifully crafted phrases and her heart soared each and every time she heard her young neighbor reading her poetry aloud to herself.  
Frequently, Hao Tai Tai stole across the alley bearing a pot of Jasmine tea.  “Dear friend,” she would whisper, as she let herself in to T’ang Shiao Jye’s study, “would you mind to read me that last poem again; the one about flying free?”

For Shaista~ a poet who makes my heart soar.
Fly to her poetry here Lupus In Flight

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Cure

When An Ni Da Jie saw the return of her flock before the sun had set, she wondered, “Wa! I wonder  if anything is wrong? I hope my chickens are not sick!" 

 She took this same care with her garden.  If any vegetable looked unhealthy or if any her her livestock seemed faint, she administered a  handy cure.  

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Red Lantern

Miss Wu thought it lucky that her master’s home had not flooded during the great Typhoon Gloria. There were many small inconveniences that she dared not to complain of in light of the many neighbors who suffered from leaky roofs, drenched courtyards and saturated fields.  In her case, her employer’s home was plunged into darkness when the electricity failed. It seemed a small matter to everyone but to Shaio Wu who had to make her nightly rounds to prepare the bedrooms with a single lantern.  As quickly as it takes a mighty wind to pass overhead, her master  discovered that his heart was flooded with a new raging passion for Miss Wu.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Brother and Sister

Jia Li was twelve years older than her little brother. They adored each other and were a great comfort to their Mother.

~My son graduated from high school this past week and his sister Leigh was home to celebrate.  All is well in my household when she comes home.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Third Brother had a terrible arguement with his older brother over  feeding Granny's chickens. Afterwards, he considered running away from home.

But the smell of Granny's dumplings made him reconsider.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Quick Peck

Little Li felt sorry that as soon as he had gobbled down his last bite of rice, his granny's old song bird showed up hungry.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Sweet Thought

On his way to the Double Lucky Candy Store, Di Di came across Granny Huang’s chicks far from home. Little Brother wondered if escorting them safely back to his grandmother’s courtyard would soften her heart towards him and make her feel inclined to give him some  more pocket money. Lately his orneriness had hardened her heart and Di Di thought this helpful sweet gesture might make her feelings toward him melt .

Friday, April 15, 2011

Monks in the Sun

This post, as well as the last one, Sister's in Law are not  new work.  Before I came to the US to live some 15 years ago, I lived in Thailand. I never go anywhere, even now, without my little traveling studio-essential supplies for capturing what I see. I started this when I lived in Chiang Mai because I couldn't walk five feet and not see something I felt desperate to paint.    I would set up my portable studio at a tea stall on the side of the road and paint whatever passed my view.

I had a boy friend in my Taiwanese youth who broke up with me and  became a monk. So the sight of young monks anywhere in Asia fills me with odd feelings. I could not resist these young novices when they passed by. . And I wondered what lovers they were forsaking.

The Painting below-Sisters In Law, was painted when I was 16 living in the Pescadore Islands, part of a Taiwanese archipelago where I worked one summer in a clinic treating Leprosy. After a long day carrying boxes of meds to outlying villages on remote islands, I painted these two ladies waiting for the daily ferry that would take us all back to the main town of Ma Kung.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sisters In Law

Li Mama and Mrs. Wu were sister's in law.  They were also best friends and shared many secrets. Both often confided to other relatives and friends that had they not had each other when first marrying onto their new  families, they would have died of broken hearts. 

~heading home

Thursday, March 17, 2011

On The Threshold of Something New

Mei En

Beautiful Grace sat in the doorway of the Door of Hope Girl’s Home waiting for something to happen. She had made a careful list of all the wonderful small blessings that might follow her to this threshold. By night fall, when she was called to come in for dinner, Mei En was convinced that none of her dreams would hatch, at least not tonight.  But tomorrow was a new day. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ah Bei's Little Sister

Ah Bei had a problem. He loved his little sister very much. They were very similar in all the ways that counted. They shared all their secrets.  They both loved birds, brush painting, and high mountain tea. They look at everything between people and situations with the same point of view.  But what he couldn’t overlook any longer was the staggering amount of money his little sister owed him. 
“Wah!” the old man thought to himself, “She has wiped me out.”

Friday, March 4, 2011

 For several months it has been almost impossible for me to get into my studio and work. I have been traveling and working, so there has been hardly a moment for myself.   But tonight, I couldn’t help but throw myself against my boards, plaster and tools. I sought refuge in my studio.   This painting, started and carved tonight  is for my friends.
Friends I have never met but whom I love.

Shaista, my brave little sister who battles Lupus. I listened to her on the radio tonight and can’t stop crying. Her voice is so beautiful .  She is as articulate in sound as her poetry. Thinking about her has unleashed a torrent of emotion.

Maia, the passionate mother of Qui Qui and artist extraordinaire whose art and dolls sit on my window sill.  Qui, about to undergo medical tests…...  I hold my breath.  Not for Q, but Maia
Yoli-my steady friend, protector, and treasure hunter.   She constantly offers words of encouragement and just when I think I am alone, she reminds me I am not.  She is mother to three beautiful warriors. The header of my blog is Yoli and her babies.

Shokoofeh  -the young, talented and the totally FREE spirit living  in Iran..I lay awake in bed and worry about her every night. There is nothing Simple  about her.

Alliot, the brilliant designer and photographer who is mother to the talented Iza living in Hong Kong. Alliot's journal of her daughter  remind me how quickly my own grew up. Her writings of the competitive nature of being Chinese brings me to my knees.  I always feel Alliot and Iza's heart beat when I pass through their airport and lanes. ….so close, yet we haven’t seen each other...yet.

These women, unseen, are my friends and I would sacrifice much  if they asked me to.  Tonight I started this painting, two women sitting together chatting as friends.  Sharing secrets.

For all of you dear girls, tonight I am yours and you are here with me.
Thank you

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Great Leap Forward

Miss Bao wore her red envelope slippers the night she returned home for New Years. She had been on a long and fruitful trip. "Maybe," she thought, "This will be the year of my Great Leap Forward."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ten Thousand Lamps

There had been little that Wan Liao’s mother had given the boy from the day he had been born. He had no talents that anyone would notice.  He seemed to have no physical attributes that would set him apart.  He was not all that clever either. His mother took all her desperate dreams for a better life out on the boy, for when she had a chance to join the Hsin Chu Opera Troupe, she vanished without notice when he was five.

But there was one thing she did for her son; one gift she gave him that he was forever grateful for; his name.  Ten Thousand Lamps is a splendid name for a boy who would eventually become a monk.  When he arrived at the temple atop Chi Shan Yuan for his induction, the Abbot read Wan Liao’s name aloud and then paused  to look over the lad closely.  

“Ten Thousand Lamps,” he said with conviction,  “You will shed light on challenging questions and illuminate the path ahead for many pilgrims. I believe you will live up to your name.”

Saturday, January 8, 2011

What I have Been Waiting For

This is what I have been waiting for.  The birth of my nephew, the son of my youngest brother
Timothy and his wife Mariko.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Painting Names

Da Jie knew that any day now, her mother would give birth to a baby and this was a thought that filled her with Exceeding Joy. To have a sibling, fourteen years younger and most assuredly a girl, would be the one movement in the universe that would finally put right all that had so far gone wrong in Big Sister’s short teen life.

She practiced writing her soon to arrive  little sister’s name every night. She used reams of paper perfecting the the way the letters would lay above and below the line. With each stroke  her bond to this baby became as close as ink stained on paper.

Da Jie is now an old woman and the hoped for baby sister turned out to be a boy.  But this brother became like a son to her. She would later say that his birth saved her life. After he was born, she had purpose and a place to go.   She carried him around on her hip until he could run and he slept tucked under her arm until she went  to university.  

“So it is fitting”,Big Sister thought to herself, “That tonight I am again practicing calligraphy, trying out names that have yet to be spoken for a boy yet to be born.”

 This boy is the son of Da Jie’s little  brother.   He will arrive in the world at any hour now and she will never be the same. He, like his sister, will  bring exceeding joy to their old Gu Ma.  The name she practiced over and over was  Exceeding  Heaven.

~I am waiting in Shang Hai for news from Hong Kong and will fly with my reams of paper as soon as I am called.  The Vegetable Cleaning Brush purchased in Hang Zhou on New Year's eve, worked  perfectly.  A new modern kind of calligraphy!