Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kodomo no Kuni

The Fireplace, 1932, by Takei Takeo

Isn't this lovely? It's from a great archive of illustrations from a forward-thinking Japanese children's magazine called Kodomo no Kuni, which was published from the 1920s through the 1940s. Takei Takeo was one of the magazine's illustrators. 

Here are a couple more by Takei:

Millet Straw Crafts, 1925

Origami, 1927

The magazine was full of pictures, stories, children's songs, dances, plays, and handicraft ideas for children. Editorial advisor Kurahashi Sozo, leading authority on children's education, believed strongly in the role of art in the pursuit of the ideal way of life. How can you not love that?

Thanks to Le Divan Fumoir Bohémien for the link to the Kodomo no Kuni site (I can't wait to check out more of her fascinating links!).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


His father had always called him impulsive, and without knowing it, the old man would be proven right yet again. Dan knew this necklace should belong to his mother; it was rightfully hers just like all those other symbols of his father's misplaced affection for Stepmother One, Stepmother Two, and now, Stepmother Three. 

So many dollars, euro, and yen had been wasted on conniving women half his father's age. Much had been taken, but the discarded wives hadn't left with all their jewels; Dan had quietly seen to that. It was almost a shame that he'd become so good at theft, since he certainly didn't need the money.

Three had called Dan to brag drunkenly about the honeymoon in Venice, and it was likely she'd forget that she'd made the call. Well, Dan should have known his father would choose the villa. After Three had dropped her phone and the connection, Dan had made his own call, for a First Class ticket the following afternoon. 

Impulsive, yes, but Dan could be patient as well. He'd waited until he'd seen them tuck themselves into the silver convertible and back out of the garage. Then, worming his way into the villa had been too easy--not much of challenge at all. 

Now Dan stood in the sun by the bureau, briefly considering his fate as the second son of a wealthy but stereotypically cruel financier. Views of the Grand Canal were all well and good, but at what price? What had been taken from Dan and his mother was great, and his frequent thefts were really only a small way to take something back. Things were suspected but never proven; stepmothers fretted and complained.

Dan worked the seed pearls with his fingers, rubbed with his thumb the form of a monkey wrought in gold. Then he let the necklace dangle, almost drop from his grasp, but he wouldn't let go. Gripped tightly again, the necklace was shoved into Dan's pocket as he turned toward the door.

I wrote this for Willow's Magpie 40.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mr. Bangs

She'd never liked the nameless resident female poultry in Gran's back yard. But there was something about Mr. Bangs, the rooster, the Big Daddy, that really made her crazy. Sure, the crowing at dawn (roosters have no concept of Summer Vacation) was enough to make any eighth-grade city girl despair, but it wasn't just that. 

It was the way he'd look at her when she entered his domain, that dry, cooped corner, literally crawling with perfect food for a demanding rooster--and the ladies, when Mr. Bangs deemed them worthy. Oh, he'd stand stock-still, his head cocked slightly to one side, in a silent face-off, that beady left eye catching the light. It was an unspoken but quite apparent dare: "Go ahead, Sweetheart, just try taking one more step toward My Brood!"

She'd try reasoning with him, alerting him to the fact that the people, those beings living in that big coop over there, were the ones ultimately in charge. There were weapons, stew pots, and coyotes in neighboring states. But no, Mr. Bangs cared nothing for logic. Well, forget it; too much stood--again, literally--between her and those eggs. She'd go get Gran one more time and resign herself to trying another day. A second summer of admitting defeat just wouldn't do, but for now, Mr. Bangs and his reign of terror would continue.

This is for Magpie 39. As always, thanks, Willow!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lovely Autumn

I recently took part in an autumn-themed swap put together by Relyn. Would you believe she went to the painstaking trouble of pairing people according to certain criteria? Relyn is amazing!

She paired me with Jaime, a wonderful photographer, writer, and piano teacher from British Columbia. Just look at the wonderful things Jaime sent me! I can tell that she really took time to get to know me and my interests. I just love the Asian wind chime and the interesting tea blends. The book, a favorite of Jaime's, looks fascinating, and I do love her heart-shaped rock photo. How sweet! Oh, and it's chilly today, so I'm wearing the cozy socks right now...

Thank you, Relyn, for a new friend--and thank you, Jaime, for such heartfelt and beautiful gifts!

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