Japanese Dolls

Making a Kokeshi doll

I discovered this while researching information on Japanese dolls for this article.

My Dad had brought back a number of dolls from his time in occupied Japan after World War II. We three girls inherited them and I have a fascination with them from their association with my childhood.

My favorites are the ones with gofun paste faces, here are modern ones in this  video:

I like the more traditional ones, a little better.

You can still buy Japanese dolls, on Amazon and eBay. There are even Barbie doll editions.

Japanese Dolls Hubpage
Examples of different types, how they are made, and history.

More Amazon Recommendations:

Bettering Ourselves

still life, bottles

Much of my life has been spent in the endeavor of bettering myself.

I have read and implemented, however temporary and incomplete, innumerable self-help books on many topics. I have made lists, and plans, throwing myself into everything from those elementary school years of memorizing encyclopedia facts, reading the dictionary and giving myself a “word for the day” to following organizational methods and pop psychology solutions.

Let’s add to that the diet and health, relationship and spiritual improvements made mandatory by the appearance of defects that can no longer be denied or swept aside.

A recent meeting with old friends brought another way we better ourselves. It is perhaps a more organic way, but certainly it is one that has quicker ignition and spurs us to put that inspiration to work.

The influence of better individuals on our lives.

Some of those qualities are those who are kinder, those more accomplished, those with sharp intellects, or depth of thinking. Some qualities are those of practiced and gracious service to others, characteristics of perseverance or diligence, dependability and loyalty, mental and emotional flexibility. The list is a myriad as human beings themselves.

As we rub shoulders with individuals or groups of people with these characteristics, the skills and motivations rub off on us… or at the very least, the desire and vision to rise to a higher bar.

We are spurred and sparked. We become better.



This isn’t to say that there are “classes of people”,  although I think we often have the perversity of mind to think so. It is the appreciation of what other individuals have to offer us in light of their unique qualities, and a reflection on what we contribute to those around us.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

My level of thinking is raised by conversations, reading, hearing whatsoever is of value. It reminds me of the focus of this blog:
Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true,

whatsoever things are honest,

whatsoever things are just,

whatsoever things are pure,

whatsoever things are lovely,

whatsoever things are of good report;

if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.


One place I believe we find these things is in the friendship and relationship to those around us that exhibit the better qualities we wish to have.

Connection is that most basic of human needs, but we have a wide variety of ways and people to whom we connect.

I believe, now, that there are two ways to connect in ways that we can better each other. One is in finding those individuals that bring out the best in us, and that tends towards an exclusiveness in our relationships. The other is in finding the best in each person we encounter. That inclusive factor is not the more superior way, but it will certainly be the more common of our experience.

I do think there are times we need to steep ourselves in positive relationships and atmospheres. Times when we creatively brainstorm with those who engage with us creatively. Times when a peaceful and supportive atmosphere is necessary.

But whatever the need of the moment may be, it is my thought that we should most highly prize those whom we have found to be an inspiration and encouragement  to us to better our lives, our selves.

Cherish those in your life, appreciate their contributions … especially when they have helped you to become a better person.

Whom have you found, and why do you think knowing them makes you a better person for it?


The difference a couple (or four) decades makes

I was following a twitter link that lead me to an interesting post on a blog done in the old style of Blogging. Actually having posts that take you inside someone’s world.

I entered what was likely a twenty somethings world and it was familiar in a deja-vu sort of way.

Internally I argued from my own perspective, but that isn’t really the way to approach someone else’s experience, is it? I have a son who keeps trying to work with me on that; and I bounce back and forth, which makes having your own, very unknown, blog a good place to answer.

Finding the Perspective

First read the excellent post on FEED ME, which is about combining recipes and life stories. Sounds addictive? It is.

I felt that this view,

Because I have to believe I will see you again.
Because I have to believe I will come back.
Because it’s too hard otherwise.
And because, the thought of not eating the chicken and rice I had at this little place in Portugal, the thought of never eating that again completely undoes me.
To never eat that chicken and rice again would be tragic.
It would be the worst.
I cannot handle a reality which does not have a repeat of that chicken and rice.

So I believe in second chances and third chances and returns and surprise encounters.

was so eloquent, but it is still one that lives in the twenty-something world.

I guess that is to say I find it nigh impossible to remain in that frame of mind, as much as I would like it. The constant extension of giving this to others, or asking for this for myself makes me feel drained. At some point we ought to have things, and people we can depend on for moving forward with, and there is something about this constant “returns and more chances” that becomes more like a vicious circle than wonder and surprise.

Life Moves On

The next phase is to understand the as time passes on, as decisions are made, and life pathways followed that the range of possibilities and more chances narrows. It may take a long time to close, but it definitely narrows.

Not that one should become closed to possibility or end the dreaming, but that the focus has to become more goal oriented. You don’t just wish for eating chicken and rice in Portugal, you actively plan for it. And that will mean other hopes, plans, and goals are eliminated in favor of that focus.

Then, you will eat your chicken and rice in that place, and revisit that past, to savor it in your new present tense. But it will be at the cost of other time, places, and space that you could have equally chosen and worked towards.

That is the view of a sixty-something, with the timer of life counting out the years that are left, the years that still have possibilities of health, wealth, and accomplishment are much more ephemeral and unsure. Will I have ten years to accomplish that goal, dream, or revisiting? I may… or may not. I can no longer dream that I will have it all. I no longer would want to… but I still dream and still desire some things very much.

But Maybe I Misread

Maybe it was just about the recipe, not the experience. Maybe it was just about bringing something wonderful from a different place and time into life as it is now. I would view that as wisdom. And as something entirely possible. Something I want to practice doing, incorporating it into my habit of life.

I sometimes, now for the first time in my life, wish I could dial back time. I think it is because I have lost people important to me.  Those chapters have closed irrevocably. I didn’t believe in that word “irrevocable”, I can see now. It has become part of my understood vocabulary.


What remains wide open is the possibility to love those we are with, just like the old hippie song, even if the meaning is applied in an entirely different way.

If I could get any message across to those with the possibility, if not the promise, of years ahead of them it would be to cook the best recipes of life and share them with those who you would truly miss if you were unable to visit them again. To have an attitude of being fully in the moment with those you love. Or even just living the experience fully, choosing the worthwhile experiences, not frittering time and life away on half-hearted, time killing relationships or activities.

Eye On The End Point

That could be taken in a hedonistic context, but then you eliminate so many long term dreams and goals.  The wastefulness of having no idea what is important to humans as a whole, including you. Having a long view is balanced with being in the moment. Without the balance of that scale in perspective, we aim for regrets and missed opportunities.

 To further the thinking (because this post can only be a beginning point) I was looking over some quotes by Samuel Johnson. We try to make guidelines… which are the gist of philosophies and maxims, but to what end? We either are too careful about it or not careful enough, but God gives us some real anchors by which to climb some of the rock faces of making decisions wisely.

Seeing life as a smooth paved road is probably the greatest mistake we make, next to that of seeing it only as a deep pit when we happen to have fallen into one.

I’m afraid I have rambled with this conversation, much as I have rambled with life. Small bits of information stitched together with the most tenuous of threads. A story with a recipe would have probably been the better formula – I tend to create a stew with lots of lifes leftovers.