Life Jackets

Twenty one years ago this month, a very bundled up baby was thrust into our arms in a tiny hotel room in Chengdu. After the Chinese adoption contingent left, we started to unbundle her because she seemed too warm. Garment after garment came off until we reached the last one…a beautiful, humbly made, and somewhat fragile jacket. Someone had really worked on this to make it useful, repairing it by hand over and over again. We brought it home with us.

I came across it a some months ago and an art project has grown out of it – exploring ideas about lost potential (all those kids who are still there, maybe working in factories and fields), about fate, randomness, and so on. With the encouragement of my teacher I have gone somewhat beyond my initial thought of making a few and I am over 100 now, all smaller than the original. I want them to look as old and worn as the original, but evoke the feeling of being worn by an individual whose life we know nothing about. 

Pamela Beere Briggs, one of Two in the World’s explorers, and UCLA Professor William McDonald, filmmaking and life partners, decided to make a film about Suzanne’s new project “Life Jackets” when they saw a few of the jackets. They both believe that the world needs as many stories about people doing things out of love and looking at what connects us all as a community. “What we can do as filmmakers and storytellers is share stories about people who are actually doing things out of thoughtful kindness.”

You can watch “Life Jackets” here, with Free Streaming on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/355219581

Building a Library

Our family is a trio of book-lovers. We love reading all types of stories—both fiction and non-fiction. We get excited about researching subjects we know nothing about, learning new details about subjects we know more about, and sharing what we learn around our dinner table. A dozen years ago, Bill, Natalie and I started fantasizing about building a small library atop our garage. That fantasy is becoming a reality. As I type these words, I hear the builders arriving and beginning work. Our 1947 garage is in the process of being rebuilt, with a library on the second floor. And guess what? The wood from the old garage will become the library’s hardwood floor. I will be sharing with you the best things I learn while the building process goes on for six months. One exciting part of this project is that I found a wonderful advisor in the tiny house world, who has become an expert in healthy and environmentally friendly building techniques.