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The Old Man Mad About Drawing: A Tale of Hokusai

Many times I find some of the best books at library book sales. The Old Man Mad About Drawing: A Tale of Hokusai, by Francois Place, is one of them. This beautifully illustrated book includes many of Japanese artist Hokusai’s works as well as other illustrations, and its fable-like storyline is enjoyable for both young and old alike.


The story takes place in Japan, where a young boy, Tojiro, sells rice cakes on the street and meets an old man nine times his age. That man is a print-maker named Hokusai. Tojiro learns many lessons from Hokusai, who is like a master to him in many ways. This is a story that will have you laughing, nodding, and shaking your head all at the same time because many of us can relate to the book’s characters or have known characters much like them. Its many messages are genuinely charming to anyone who can appreciate what knowledge seniors have to share with us.

I give this book a 5-star rating.

Childhood Treasures: Sugar N Spice

Someone made this for me when I was a baby (dated 1974). It is made of some type of ceramic, but very heavy and extremely durable. The little dolls appear to be the Holly Hobbie type. I remember putting random things inside the flower pot at the bottom of it – fake flowers, real flowers, candles, and probably pieces of toys. Today I don’t have anything in it. Perhaps I will fill it with little treasures that I find – things like tiny feathers or loose change.

It amazes me that it hasn’t broken in the several moves that I’ve made over the years. I currently have it hanging in my art/meditation room, where I put other things that make me joyful.


Finding Treasures: Raggedy Ann & Andy

When I was a kid I collected dolls. Actually, I collected dolls when I was adult, too, but had to sell them off to free up some space. I’ve recently become fascinated with dolls again, either making them myself or taking their photos. Not long ago I had to research rag dolls, which is probably what has sparked my interest in them again.

On another note, I am a huge bargain hunter. I like to buy really cool things for as little as possible. I’m not a big fan of bargaining, however, but if the price is right – I am on it!

This is one of my latest garage sale finds. I don’t know if Raggedy Ann and Andy here were handmade or authentic, but Andy’s clothes have an actual tag. They both need some TLC, but the price I paid for them – whether or not they are the genuine article – couldn’t be beat. When kids come to play, the $2 I spent on this couple makes it worthwhile!

Raggedy Ann & Andy

Raggedy Ann


Needs TLC

Kids Shouldn’t Know the Meaning of the B- Word

(**I wrote this a few years ago when my daughter was a teenager. It was published in the New Smyrna Beach Observer.**)

The b-word is a silent word in my house. I glare at anyone that uses it, and they know to stay far away from me if they do. It’s not the b-word you are probably thinking of. It’s the word bored.

Imagination is the key.

If you are a parent, chances are you hear the b-word quite often, especially during long summer vacations, spring break or on those horrible half-days the county has so generously offered its students. When my 17-year-old, Kayla, allows my ears to hear what a dull life she has, I hand her a “nothing to do list” that may include the following: wash the car, read a book, pull weeds, or watch the birds play in the trees.

Of course Kayla doesn’t seem to appreciate my “nothing to do list”, usually answering back with something like, “That was the old days, Mom. Kids don’t do those things anymore.”

“Then here are the car keys,” I say smiling, handing her the keys, and watch her eyes light up for a slight moment. “The only place you’re driving is on the lawn – where you will be washing the car.”

After enough times of creating my “nothing to do list” for her, Kayla is learning slowly but surely that life isn’t so boring after all. Miraculously, her mind is suddenly stimulated with her own to-do list when she sees me pick up that pad of paper and pen.

Except to write this article, the word bored is not even a part of my own vocabulary. With a never-ending to-do list, I cannot fathom being bored with nothing to do. I do confer that if you find yourself bored, then more than likely you are probably boring as well. Incidentally, the definition of the root word bore means a dull, tiresome person or thing. If your children are bored, perhaps it’s time to take a look at meaningful and enriching things for them to do with their lives. The same applies to bored (or boring) adults.

Just the other day I was observing old photographs of children taken in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. I wondered how bored they must have been without television, video games, cell phones, and computers. What in the world did those kids do to entertain themselves? What boring lives they must have led! Then I quickly remembered my own childhood during the 1970’s and 80’s.

I didn’t have video games, my own phone, a computer, or cable television either. Our family was a little on the poor side, so most summer vacations and spring breaks were spent riding my bike or going to the beach, and of course as I got older I worked. I had books to read, poetry to write, and friends to play with in the street. Since most of my friends also came from monetarily challenged families, we did anything and everything we could to be out of our houses, because most of us didn’t have the luxury of living in air-conditioned homes year round. We weren’t given many choices, which forced us to think creatively instead of clouding our reality with things of substance rather than superficial junk.

I have lived in different cities and have had the opportunity to teach amongst various income levels throughout my adult life. When I taught young children, I would take them out to recess and they always wanted to bring the balls or hula-hoops. Sometimes I wouldn’t let them bring the balls or hula-hoops or anything, and I’d tell them they had to bring their imaginations. At first they would be angry with me, moping around the playground, kicking sand and pouting, and then I would suggest they use the slide as a ship, the dirt as a fort, etc. After awhile they caught on and they’d laugh and say “Can we go to recess and bring our imaginations?”

Given too many options, children will become bored, and ultimately will become boring adults as well. What children need are not new gadgets; what they need is fostering of the mind. Take away all of the shallow objects they think they need and see what becomes of them. They may amaze you with some of the things that can come from within themselves. Or you can do like me and hand them a “nothing to do list” next time that b-word comes out of their mouths or just tell them to bring their imaginations!