Taipei, Taiwan.


Hi.  It’s Grandpa Allan again.  My friend Beena just sent me a few new paintings and, as you might have guessed, that got my imagination flowing.  That makes me SO happy .  Here’s what this painting of the National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan made me think of…..

You know how when people like something very, very much they say it is very “near and dear” to them?  Have you heard that expression before?  I have, lots of times.  Well, the National Palace Museum is very “near and dear” to me, but since I live in the United States and the National Palace Museum is far, far away in Taiwan, I cannot really say that it is near me.  So, instead, I like to say that the National Palace Museum is “far and dear” to me .    And there is a special reason why the National Palace Museum is very far and dear to me that has to do with our imagination stories.  In fact, I think that if the National Palace Museum did not exist, these imagination stories would not exist either.  For real, I really mean that!  And the reason I say that is that many, many years ago, when I visited the National Palace Museum for the first time, I fell in love with their scroll paintings.  I especially liked a large scroll called “Along the River During the Qingming Festival”.  It is a famous scroll that was originally painted by Zhang Zeduan during the Northern Song dynasty period in the 1100s (that’s a looong time ago, so long ago that even I wasn’t born yet ) and then again by a group of artists in the 1700s during the famous Chinese Qing dynasty.  The scroll is really beautiful and shows scenes of all sorts of people and animals doing all sorts of everyday activities like playing, working, going out for a walk in nature, and just being.  You should look it up sometime – you can find it on the internet now!  

I liked the scroll so much that I got a copy of it and brought it home as a gift to my children in the United States.  My children also liked the scroll and so we started looking at different parts of the scroll and imagining stories about the different people and animals on the scroll painting.  Each night, after taking a bath and before going to bed, we would roll the scroll a little bit, choose a person or animal and imagine their story.  It was so much fun!  And this is how a tradition began of telling imagination stories using the Chinese scroll painting called “Along the River During the Qingming Festival”.  

My children grew up and became adults and we stopped making up imagination stories.  But then, one day, many years later, my friend Beena sent me her first painting.  And when I got her first painting I fell in love with it in the same way that I had loved the Chinese scroll painting the first time I saw it at the National Palace Museum.  And that got my imagination flowing again and reminded me of the imagination stories I used to tell my four children.  I thank my friend Beena for bringing these memories back to me.  They make me smile in my heart in a way that adults call nostalgia.  Now that word, nostalgia, is yet another fancy word used by adults when they feel something in their heart while they are thinking about something that happened a long time ago.  I love that feeling!

Talking about the Song and Qing dynasties from Chinese history and their paintings reminds me that at the end of my previous imagination story (the one about wintertime in Skowhegan Maine, USA), I promised to tell you why the first collection of the Grandpa Allan & Beena stories had exactly nine, no more and no less than nine paintings.  And I am a man of my word so since I promised to tell you, I want to tell you why now.   

You see, my good friends from Taiwan and China tell me that in Chinese history and mythology, the number 10 is the perfect number.  That made sense to me since 10 seems to be such a nice and round number, don’t you agree?  But then, one of my friends told me that while 10 is the perfect number, the number 9 is the best number.  Now THAT confused me.  How can 9 be the best number if 10 is the perfect number???? That makes no sense at all, right?!?!?  But my friend explained to me that because the number 10 is perfect, it is reserved only for the gods and the Chinese imperial family itself.  For everyone else in this world, the closest we can get to 10 is 9 and so 9 became the best number.  Isn’t that a nice story?  After he told me that story about Chinese history and mythology, then I understood how it is possible for 10 to be the perfect number but 9 to be the best number.  Do you also get it now?  I bet you do.  And so now that you know this, please remember in your heart that while each of us always wants to be perfect, sometimes the best is to be almost but not completely perfect .  Because as they often say, the beauty and humanity in life is in its little imperfections!!!  

Now it is your turn to imagine or remember stories based on this painting called “Beauty and Humanity in Life is in its Little Imperfections (Taipei, Taiwan)”.  Think of it and then write it down.  Oh, and don’t forget to pass it on to a friend so that we can come up with 1,000 stories for this painting, together.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 1 GB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here


Sign up for our newsletter and stay up to date