Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Yoli's Army Of Three

In the days before Mrs. Chu settled down, she was a strong warrior specializing in the nimble handling of swords. It was therefore no surprise to those who knew 有力, that she would put down her blade and become a brave mother, raising her children with sharp wisdom. Her heart swelled with pride for her little army now playing by her side. They were her whole world and she had retrieved each one with the perseverance and patience worthy of heroic generals in battle. But, her three little soldiers had conquered her heart.

For my guardian, YoLi

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Heaven On Earth

There was nothing the old stone mason loved more than to have his family gathered under the eaves of his house. When the joys of his screeching grandchildren, the assistance of his capable children and the warm home created by his long-suffering wife, became too much to bear, Mr. Bao would step out into the cool evening night and watch over the heaven he had carved on earth.

For my cousins in Sarasota

Monday, August 2, 2010

Cousins Make Me Feel Smug

Annie in my glasses

My cousin Annie Brantingham, a professor in Wu Han, took this photo of me in front of a painting I did called Jye Jye Whispers which I painted for yet another cousin, who lives in Shanghai. It is a portrait of my dearest Melanie and her three children. It hangs in her house where many scattered family gather frequently to spend holidays and long weekends. I am especially close to this family because her children are being raised like I was; on the streets and lanes of Chinese villages and not in foreign compounds. Her children, Isabelle, Sophia and Jonas speak fluent Mandarin and are agile in both cultures. We have that in common.

I usually hate photos of myself, but I think I look smug and happy in this one.  Maybe it is because Annie, the photographer makes me laugh and of course, I love her.  At one family reunion  Annie and I entertained  our cousins when we were sent to the kitchen to fix a simple lunch of hot dogs. We soon donned chef hats made out of paper towels and prepared the whole meal as if doing a Chinese cooking show.  We did excessive amounts of chopping and using the word
C O N D O M ...E N T S in every sentence.  It was Julia Childs meets John Belushi's The Samurai. We did our Taiwanese, Cantonese Chinglish accents and laughed ourselves silly.  I have a fear that someday that routine will end up on utube.  

All my cousins are funny and witty so when we are together we have a grand time. I will see Annie soon for we gather in Florida this weekend.  We have had another death in the family.  Three since May, including my Mother.  This time it is our cousin Steve. This photo was taken the evening before my Mother's funeral.  It is of my brother and I laughing our heads off at some story Steve is telling.  He had this unique way of making you feel special, as if you were the only relative he cared about.   I have no doubt that each of us who gather to remember him will think, "I was his favorite cousin." And we will each be right.  We will all feel smug.