a homeless man
spoke of his years
and thoughts of mayhem
like yesterday’s shooter
he thanked me
for my kindness
and for the meds
that afford him
the serene persuit
(2007, after the Virginia Tech shooting)
On November 5, 2009 it was a bad day to be a psychiatrist. Another psychiatrist, an Army major, shot and killed 13 other soldiers and wounded 30 others. My friends at the Hot Springs Haiku Conference kept me in ignorance, but my daughter texted me about it.
Yesterday another soldier at the same base, Fort Hood, in Texas, shot three other soldiers and wounded 16 soldiers. A female MP confronted him and he turned the gun on himself.
I pray for peace and comfort for the people who are Fort Hood.
(The painting at the top is one of my enso, a Japanese brush painting done in one breath.)
I started doing photography as a girl. Dad was a medical photographer at George Washington University Medical School in DC. We had a darkroom in our basement. Every third week, I’d get to go to work with him on Saturdays and I had access to his lab at the med school.
Here I am with my grandfather and my b’uncle Joe. You can see one of my first cameras around my neck.
In high school I was Photography Editor of the yearbook. I shot and printed half of the photos. I was a great photo processor. I could make my negatives sing.
Tragically, my dad got very sick when I was a junior in high school. He never was able to work again. Somehow the loss of my dad as I knew him got all mixed up with photography and I laid down my camera for decades.
When I got an iPhone in 2005 I began to take photos with it. I didn’t photo finish them at all. I didn’t even crop them.
These last few months I have begun to photo finish my iPhone photos. I have used iPhoto to work on several hundred of my photos. I have been most interested in adjusting photos that I might use to illustrate my haiku. I am an active participant in 3 Facebook forums that have daily prompts for haiku (2) or tanka (1). Tanka are five line poems.
Something clicked in me yesterday. I suddenly had the knowing and body feel that my photofinishing was just what I had been doing from age 7 to age 17. It all clicked.
I still have a lot to learn. And I must learn to use the new camera I bought a month ago. I pulled out the manual for it today. (No one ever accused me of rushing into things!)
I went to the Dallas Arboretum today and took a hundred photos. And photo finished them after I got home.
I still have a lot to learn.
All of my previous work was with black and white photos….
Here are a few of the photos I made today:
This one is a star magnolia. I am crazy about “tulip magnolias”.
This one is a Professor Einstein daffodil.
This one is a beautiful silvery-blue foliage plant spilling over the edge of a container.
I’ve started and ended this post with cherry blossoms, two kinds.
I hope you like my photos!
Ever since I was a girl I have been fascinated by the art of Japan.
I have done Japanese flower arranging, ikebana. I am also an internationally known and published haiku poet.
A few years ago, I took up painting enso, circles, with sumi paint. I bought wonderful, flat porcelain trays of the sumi ink at the gift shop at Nepenthe, in Big Sur, CA. I drew a number of enso to illustrate some of my haiku. Yesterday, I photographed the enso.
The one above, one of my favorites, is made by dipping the soft rabbit’s hair brush into both metallic gold and metallic silver and then brushing the circle in one breath.
I find it meaningful that haiku are also one breath poems.
Both art forms remind us that we have only the now. To live in the now.
I painted this one to illustrate a poem about peeling an orange.
This one will illustrate poems about the sun.
And this one the moon.
This one was drawn to illustrate the moon rising behind pine trees, but this morning I used it to illustrate this haiku: lipstick on his collar/ thunder/ rattles the bedsprings.
I hope you like my enso!
You know I love a challenge. And I especially love a challenge that stretches me where I am already stretching.
The wonderful artisan earring designers at Earrings Everyday:
issued a challenge to design a pair of earrings to resonate with this photo.
The challenge is “We’re All Ears”.
I have a five year plan to make beautiful polymer clay opals. I am now in month 14 of that plan. I had recently had a breakthrough in my personal opal challenge when making some Beads of Courage for kids with cancer.
I decided to make green and blue “opal” clays, chop them into teensy, tinsy bits and then smoosh the bits back into a solid piece of clay.
These are the earrings I made from the “opal” clay. They are my entry into the challenge:
I also made a pendant to go with them:
I hope you like them!
If you want to see what other artisans like me made in response to the dragonfly challenge, click on the link above.
A homeless man burst into tears when I said, “It is an honor to serve you, sir!”
It was an honor to serve him and the other men and women at the shelter.
If you are a person of faith, any faith, you know this already.
My church has put on a New Year’s Eve party at the shelter for 20 years. I have been privileged to be part of it for the last 4 years.
I always staff the “bun station”. My church provides “sloppy joes” as part of the party. I put hamburger buns on plates and add a packet of plastic silverware. I hand them to the residents with a loving “God bless you, sir” or “God bless you ma’am”.
I receive so many blessings in return. Explicit and implicit. Some of the men and women I served last night were psychotic. They couldn’t process my words. But their spirits did.
Before this, from 2002-2008, I worked with homeless mentally ill persons in downtown Dallas every Tuesday and Thursday.
On Thursday nights I did a clinic at Austin Street Centre starting at 5 p.m. If it were raining or cold, the shelter would be full and I might work until 10 p.m. If the weather were more pleasant, the homeless would choose to sleep outside and there were fewer patients for me to see.
I loved working with the homeless.
I miss it very much.
There are no atheists in a homeless shelter. There is little pretense.
The homeless have one goal: to get their lives back.
Did you know that 15% of the homeless living in shelters go to work every day? The minimum wage does not allow for luxuries like housing and medical insurance.
Mother Teresa said that the US was the most poverty stricken nation in the world. Not fiscally, but in the poverty of neglect of humans.
Is there someone who you can call today and say that you love them or are thinking of them?
Pick up the phone right now.
Reach out and touch someone.
It will bless you incredibly.
Do you know the Legend of the Starfish?
A woman is walking along the shore at low tide. She picks up every stranded starfish she sees and throws it back into the sea. A man is walking along the shore inthe opposite direction. He comes along side of her and asks her what she is doing.
He scoffs at her answer.
“You cannot save them all,” he says, “it doesn’t matter”.
She looks into his eyes and then throws the starfish in her hand back into deep water.
“It matters to that one,” she replies.
Is there someone in your life who you can serve today with a phone call?
It will matter to that one.
Three of my Blossom Necklaces have been featured in Etsy Treasuries.
The first is my Pear Blossom Necklace. It is made of translucent polymer clays and evokes pear blossoms blown by March winds.
You can see Line Lebrecque’s “A Winter’s Tale” Treasury here:
Line is a fine polymer clay artist. Visit her Etsy shop at:
My Plum Blossom Necklace was featured in a second Treasury. It is also made of translucent polymer clays. I’ve filled the middle of the beads with rosy plum clay, which shines through the lenses in the surface clay.
The second treasury, “Pink Meets Gold”, was created by the talented polymer clay artist, Lisa Rapp. It can be viewed at:
Lisa’s Etsy shop is at:
You won’t have any trouble seeing why I call “Caribbean Dive” a Blossom Necklace. It is created with translucent polymer clays.
“Caribbean Dive” was featured in Beth Petricoin’s Treasury, “Going Green for the Holidays”. Beth is a polymer clay artist with astonishing creativity.
See her work at:
I am so honored that these amazing artist’s chose my work to feature in their Treasuries.
You can see my items on my Etsy shop, LadyFlowersbySusan at:
In the last two weeks this pendant from my Etsy shop has been treasured THREE TIMES.
I feel so honored.
The pendant is faux Sodalite. The blue clay is a mixture of nine different blue clays. The white areas are translucent with thin bands of opaque white. I added my signature window and attached tiny chains with AAA freshwater pearls.
The Treasuries are:
“A Saturday Winter Pageant” by Del Carmen:
“Sodalite Pendants” by Angela Klawitter:
“Winter Serenity” by Lisa:
You can view my Sodalite Pendant here:
The image on my Etsy shop has a lot more detail than the image above.