Monday, January 21, 2019

Suzanna Leigh reads Atom's Monster

 Atom's Monster
My first ever picture book is now on YouTube!

When my 4 year old son woke up with nightmares of a monster in his room, I told him the story of Atom's Monster. He was one of my models, too, and now he is grown and has a son of his own, he reads the book to his son.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Questions Need to be Asked

Across the water, in Burien,
a page from my sketch book

people received flyers falsly claiming certain immigrents have criminal records as gang members, rapists and murderers. The flyer named names and gave addresses. King County Sheriff John Urquhart looked into this and found false allegations, and that people listed often no longer lived at those addresses.

This flyer was put out by "Respect Washington", and, according to Dow Constantine, was funded by a hate group in Michigan. It's purpose appears to be to scare people into voting for people the flyers states are against Burien's status as a sanctuary city. It's result could be more sinister, as it appears to encourage vigilante acts against innocent people.

The Questions Need to be Asked

  • How will we respond if or when our island is attacked in a similar way? Hate groups have been targeting liberal cities and places. Think Charlottesville and Berkerly.

  • How can we be proactive to prepare for such an event?

  • And how, given that there are groups activily spreading hate and lies, can we be at least equally active in spreading truth and compassion?

Dear friends, your comments and ideas are welcome here.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Breakfast at Sporty's: Responding to the News

The news last night--cruise missiles heading for Syria--hurt my heart so much! I have never felt such deep emotional pain. I thought of all the people who have had to flee the war.  I thought of Jemilla and her five children who fled first to Turkey, then came here for medical attention she could not get there, of Safa, who fled Aleppo when there was not food, no work, no homes, no hospital, no diapers for the baby.

Most especially, I thought of Jamila "Rose Anne" saying in tears,  "When I left Syria, the county was stable; now it is destroyed." And that was before the terrible events of this week!

Prayer helped a little. Talking with Rifaat helped a little. Even so, I found myself wondering if there was some drug I could take that would help me escape from the pain. I now understand why people get addicted to drugs and alcohol!

I was exhausted this morning from mourning all night, so Rifaat took me out for breakfast at Sporty's. "Lets Make A Deal" was on the big screen T.V., as usual.                       

Breakfast at Sporty's

Suddenly, I understood the silly costumes, the exorbitant prizes, the anticipation, the excitement. It makes a wonderful distraction for people caught in pain, emotional or physical. So, It has it's place.     
But I don't want my life to be about distraction, so I tend to take it in small doses. Distraction that is (not life!).
Then I called one of my spiritual teachers, Khadija.
Khadija said that those of us who are emphatic or who are on a spiritual path, are more sensitive now, as things heat up. That some of the greatest Spiritual growth and insights seem to happen when the world is in greatest turmoil.

She reminded me how important it is to stay grounded in the Divine and in one's center (or Dantien, or Hara), and gave me a practice to help with that. She told me that the usual translation of "Allah Ho Akbar" as "God is the Greatest" is incorrect; it compares God, and God is incomparable. A better translation she says, is "Peace (Divine Peace) is Power."

God's Peace is Power. If I can stay grounded in that, perhaps I can weather these times and keep my sanity, and maybe even bring some peace to those around me!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Sketching Bob Ferguson, WA State Attorney General

When Joy saw me with pencil and paper in hand, she asked if I was taking notes for our community of Quakers.  Well, yes, sort of. Drawing while listening actually helps me take in and remember more.

Our Washington State attorney general, Bob Ferguson, received a standing ovation from the packed Methodist church at 7:00 am this morning. I sketched while he talked.

Here are some things I remember him saying:

Trump's executive order banning immigrants from certain countries was not entirely unexpected, given his campaign speeches. So the attorney general's office was geared up for quick action. The order came out on Friday evening; the attorney general's team spent the weekend, literally night and day, looking at the order carefully to determine it's legality, putting together the case, and gathering support from Industries and businesses that were adversely affected, such as Amazon and the University of WA. That way, they were ready to file an injunction before the end of the business day on Monday.
What I did not know, is that Obama had apparently tried a similar executive order with no better success. “It's not about Trump or Obama”, Ferguson said, “It's about the law.” Trump's legal team made the claim in their brief that the president's order was not subject to the law. They confirmed this by telephone at the hearing. Even the president is not above the law. That's why we have a checks and balances system.

Trump's claim that the executive order was for “national security” was disputed because :
1.The head of Homeland Security stated that banning people by national origin actually makes America less safe from terrorist attacks.
2.When an action or law is challenged legally, the courts look at the intent of the law. Because Trump had stated in his campaign that he would ban Muslims, it was clear to the court that his executive order was indeed based on religious discrimination.

The WA State Attorney's Office has put out a 100 page advisory for cities and institutions (such as schools) who are concerned about cooperation with ICE. The attorny's office is working with the mayor of Seattle around becoming a sanctuary city.

Trump's claim he will roll back regulations aimed at environmental safeguards (instituted by the Obama administration) will be legally unenforceable.

Friday, March 24, 2017

House on the Klong--Bangkok

My cousin Riki's house in Bangkok is in a village in the middle of a swamp. When I first visited, in 1997, every house in the village had a boat for the family "car". Houses line the canals--the klong--each with steps down to the water. 

We arrived by four wheeled taxi, though. The taxi let us off at the gate of the Buddhist temple. We walked past the crematorium, past the temple, through the 40-60 dogs lounging in the shade. People abandoned dogs at the temple to be cared for; no Pet Protectors there! No neutering or spaying either.

We dragged our suitcases over a narrow foot bridge and came to a sidewalk with water on both sides. Riki's house is along this sidewalk. Her house is on a cement foundation, with the first floor more of an open air family area and the living area on the second floor.
There are watermarks about 1 1/2 feet up the walls of the first floor, left over from occasional floods.

I visited her again in 2009, with my uncle and aunt, Dick and Jean Hall. The Halls were missionaries in Thailand and in Laos in the late 1950's, when the Vietnamese war spilled over into the ongoing civil war in Laos. Dick and Jean took me to visit friends in Thailand and Laos, telling me stories of their lives and people as we traveled. I met the 80 year old dentist who taught Dick to pull teeth in Namtha. I met the Lao man who was inspired to become a doctor when, as a child of 8, he watched Dick do surgery on a man with a shotgun wound to his face. I met many such people and heard their stories!

I plan to create a book, using my sketches and notes of that trip, featuring Dick and Jean's stories. As I develop this project, I plan to send out occasional posts such as this one. You are welcome to comment!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Looking Back; Sailing in the San Juans

Bob at the helm
Last night I looked back way further than 2016, all the way to 1999, into my sailing journals from when Bob and I cruised the San Juan Islands in our little Cascade 29 sailboat, Cardaea. This is Bob at the helm on our first cruise. This is from my journal:
Seals popped up their heads to gaze at us curiously. At 7 pm, we slipped between Blakely Rock and Restoration Point on Bainbridge Island and wound our way through crab pot bouys, following a family of geese. We set anchor at the head of Blakely Harbor.
That evening, we fished a wine bottle out of the water with a message in it. The message, decorated with child drawn hearts, said,
Whoever finds this note, I will love.
A boy of about 5 on the boat anchored next to us watched with pretended indifference as we read the note.
As dark fell and the full moon peeked briefly through the clouds, we looked across the sound into Elliot Bay. Seattle was a fairy tale city, with a necklace of golden lights along the water front.
Ah, those were the days! Bob died in 2005, and I'll never have a sailing partner like him!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Awaken Joy; Intuitive Painting

When do we close the doors on parts of ourselves? Sometimes it just takes a chance word from someone we respect.

Many years ago, I drew a little person—an elf?--into a still life in art class. He just seemed to want to be there, so I drew him in. The teacher asked me why, and when I answered, “he wanted to be there”, she said, “You mean YOU wanted him there.” I don't know why, but a door closed for me then. It seemed that allowing something to emerge from my subconscious onto the paper wasn't allowed, and I've in my artwork since then.

I want to open that door back up, but how?

Today I tried out the first "lesson" in Alena's book.

I thought I'd make a Christmas card design. Alena suggests using hand made or interesting papers for the background. I made my own background papers. That's as far as I got, but it was enough! I'm back in my studio having fun! When the papers are dry, I'll do the next step.

I tried both regular copy paper, and 90# watercolor paper


Recipe for Crinkle Paper Background: 

  • Wet paper all over on one side
  • Crinkle it up into a ball
  • Drop paint on in here and there, until you have as much color as you want. Remember, the inside of the ball will be uncolored unless you take extra care to drop color deep into the crevasses.
card made with crinkle paper background
  • Carefully lay the paper out flat to dry