Tuesday, December 18, 2012


When I was little I loved animals. I saved, or tried to save baby birds. Most of my attempts were unsuccessful.

I remember the day I found a rabbit by the side of the road. I raced my bike home to tell my dad and he drove his red Volkswagen van back to get it. I watched its fur heave up and down. Its front legs pushed uselessly against the cardboard box in the backseat of the car.

"Will he be okay dad?" I was hopeful.  I remembered my picture book that Mom read to us about the group of girls who saved a rabbit with a broken leg. The wrapped its leg up with cloth and fed it with a bottle. I could do that!

"I think he broke one of his legs. I'm going to bring him to a vet." 

When my dad got back late at night he didn't have the rabbit with him. He said the doctors took good care of him. 

"Will we be able to pick him up?"

"No, he's going to stay with the vet." 

In my adult life I found out what really happened. He had broken his back and they put him to sleep. 

My dad doesn't like dogs. In fact, he hates them. He has a lot of dog stories. Dogs pooping on the lawn. Dogs chasing him up trees. Dogs trapping him in cars. So despite our attempts to cajole him into thinking our family needed a dog, it never worked. Our dad would bring home goldfish and hamsters and turtles instead. A lot of times I tried to catch my own pets.

This brings me to the memory of the two times that collecting my "pets" went terribly wrong. This is not for the faint of heart so don't read further if you don't like unpleasant stories. 

My one memory is of an old fish bowl that I had. I cleaned it out and put grass at the bottom of it. Then I placed branches and leaves and other things that a beautiful spider might want to hang off of. I'd found her in the garden. She was large with a black and yellow pattern on her back. Her legs branched from below her belly making a beautiful pattern. She was powerful, delicate, and immensely attractive. I dumped in live insects every day to keep her satisfied. I was going to show her to my 5th grade class for show and tell. Afterward I'd let her go. I told my mom I would.

As I was in the basement one day building a fort I spotted another spider. It was gnarly and brown. It was furry. I tossed it into the fishbowl. 

Wow! two spiders to show the class!

I watched the spiders do their thing. Mostly they did nothing. The beautiful gold and black spider spun her web at the top of the bowl and the gnarly brown spider walked about at the bottom. 

A strange smell started to develop that seeped from the bowl. It was a smell of wet grass and dirt and something funky and strange...

Perhaps all of the rotting dead bug caucuses were the cause of the odd smell. 

I looked at the bowl constantly. I do remember that it was slightly unpleasant to have it sitting on the mantle while eating dinner. 

The day of the big show and tell was near. I couldn't wait. I had two awesome insects to share! I got close to the fishbowl to do my daily observation but jumped back in horror! There was nothing but a shell of the beautiful yellow and black spider. Her eight legs were still attached to her web but the middle of her had been eaten. The big brown spider was still scurrying around at the bottom of the tank, perhaps on that day a bit fatter. 

Stay tuned for my other story about frogs....

Saturday, December 15, 2012


I've decided to post these crazy Santa/devil cards... one at time. Enjoy the holiday cheer!

Friday, November 9, 2012


I fought the good fight and finally got gas. It's a huge relief! Alternate side parking is starting this week and without gas I'd get a 40 dollar ticket every other day. Ouch. I had to bite the bullet and wait in the line and cross my fingers that I didn't run out of gas (I was very close!). I took some snacks... a drink... and my iphone and watched a movie.


Saturday, October 27, 2012



I decided to have a little fun with some historic photos...

And play with them in photoshop. Believe me, this took a long time and it's not easy! But I had fun. 
Hopefully there will be more to come:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Balloon Man - Britains Got Talent 2008

And here it comes all together. This is what the other two men (see videos below) were practicing for. They want to be like him!

I'm always fascinated by what drives people and makes them tick. To develop something like this... even something as inane as this... you must practice, practice, practice. This is what I tell kids when I speak at schools: That without practice I would not be making children's books. My art would not be good enough to be published. Yes, you need talent but talent needs to be nurtured and pushed further along. I'm sure these guys got a lot of strange looks when they told people they wanted to be "Balloon Men," for a living. That makes it all the more challenging for them! I give them credit, even though their careers or potential careers are odd....


If you look at my last post, you will see that it is a man getting himself into a giant balloon... and I was like, "Huh."? Well apparently it's a "thing." This video is of an adorable father and son moment. The father shows the son tricks of the trade. The son pops his head out of the balloon... he bounces... he rolls... and all because "he had a good teacher."


Monday, October 22, 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012



Apology to an Author and to My Grandmother

In my review of Meghan McCarthy’s The Incredible Life of Balto in the July/August issue, I not just once but twice used an incorrect last name for the author. I sincerely apologize to Meghan McCarthy, whose book I liked quite a bit; I also apologize to my grandmother, Lucy McCarthy, who is glowering at me from the afterlife for messing up my own family’s name. My deepest regrets to Meghan McCarthy; please stop turning over now, Grandma.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Or not...
This is a "Thomas Edison quote of the day."

"Why is it that so few women have brains? Men of brains it is easy to find, but women––"

Sunday, September 30, 2012


I spent two days working on this thing... I thought it would really show how my painting evolves from the very beginning to end. Mmmmm, not so much. It's all of 18 seconds and you could blink and miss it. Oh well. I tried. 

To make it work I took 25 snap shots and then spent two days working in Photoshop making sure that all 25 images would approximately lay over one another - so I worked in layers, moving... tweaking... resizing... ugh! And all I got was 15 seconds. So I suppose to create what I really envisioned it would take about 100 images and would take me about a week. Hmmm. 

Friday, September 28, 2012


The construction NEVER ENDS! AAAA!!! I had to give a talk at my publisher S&S this morning, which meant I needed to get up at 7... or 7:30 if I kept hitting the snooze button. I was very concerned that I'd set my alarm wrong (you know, a.m instead of p.m and that sort of thing). I don't know what I was worried about. 7 ON THE DOT and the noise from hell fire started. I guess the construction noise is my new alarm clock (when I want to get up at 7 that is).

I made a video to show my lovely audience how much it's gotten in the way of my work:

My mom said I should have made it longer. Hmm. How much longer? I told her I didn't want to torture people.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


I put "Little Stinker" into the ebay search engine because I was looking for Betty Skelton's autobiography. I can't find it anywhere except for one place and it's charging 100.00! Ouch. I'd really like to print the cover in the back matter of my book but I can't if I don't have a good image. 

So in my search for "Little Stinker" on ebay, this is what came up!

Here is the description accompanying the lovely images:



Can you say creepy? What is all of this "Reborn" stuff about? And why did the person call it "Little Stinker? I don't think I want to know what's going on in this lady's head. I'm mentally running the other way! 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I entered a photo contest. I think everyone in the WORLD is invited to enter, so I'm not keeping my hopes up. Actually, I don't know where the high res versions of these are so it might be a slight problem if I got into the show because how would I print them? 

Anyway, these are from a series called "Into the Enchanted Forest." 

This is the blurb I wrote about it:

This was an amusement park I visited as a little child. On a recent trip to my home state of RI I visited the now abandoned park. There was nothing left but a shell of its former glory but creeping though the park brought back strange memories. Everything was overgrown and dark. I went back twice. Once while it was raining with a small point-and-shoot camera and the next day, better prepared, with my SLR camera. I'm attracted to abandoned spaces because they are filled with memories and experiences from the past. When I find little rusted objects, walk over caved in floors, or step through overgrown paths to nowhere I in some strange way feel at home. 

Yeah, I always overdo it on these things with the blurbs. But I do get some thrill from going into these places. I really do love the history involved. I think that's why I like writing about history and why I like collecting antiques. It's all part of the same thing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


These are a few Valentine's Day cards from my dad:

The inside of this one alludes to the fact that he owned the original red bus (the book is out of print but you can read it here).

Friday, August 3, 2012


I seem to have an obsession with taking photos of shopping carts...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I thought the peace and quiet would be good but the crickets sound like jackhammers. The peeptoads also sound like jackhammers.


I couldn't take another day of jackhammers and bulldozers. Construction has been going on in my neighborhood for the past 4 months or so. Monday through Friday. And now illegally on Saturdays. I have called 311 to complain about the illegal jackhammers on Saturdays but they continue anyway. Sigh. The evil noise starts at 7 am like clockwork. The city is replacing all of the water pipes and tearing up all of the sidewalks and streets and who knows what else.  I came out of my apartment this morning carrying all of my dirty laundry and my laptop and other belongings and walked the plank... literally... and stuffed all of my belongings into the car and drove off into CT, got stuck in hours and hours of traffic, and moved slowly towards peace and quiet in RI. 

I was not kidding about walking the plank. I didn't take a photo of "the plank" because my arms were filled with stuff but the side walk was no more (the photo above was from a few weeks ago) and there was very a long skinny board to walk across to get from the door to the street. I wondered if I fell off "the plank" carrying all of my belongings if I could get the city to pay for my medical bills. I feel bad for the businesses in my hood because I'm certain they've lost a lot of profits. One day the door at store across the street was blocked off completely by jackhammers and the like. Ugh! I'll be glad when this thing is finished. Whenever that is. Right now I'm listening to crickets chirping. And the hum of water int he distance. It's very calming. The photo above is not so I don't want to look at it anymore! 

Friday, July 20, 2012


This shirt was spotted at the 2012 Georgia Children's Book Awards and Conference. 

Pretty nice, eh? Well... an author always thinks it's cool to see her book 
cover on the back of a shirt. Okay, this has only happened once. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Vinnie's Pizza is right across the street. There is obviously a great artist working there because every time I go in there the white board has some new art on it with a funny catch phrase to go with it. 

Here we have the "Loaded Landscape" slice.

And the "Freaks and Geeks" salad...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I found these two heads at an antique store. 


I turned in my artwork last week. Wait... no... it was this week. I don't know what's going on anymore. I turned it in on monday. My issue is that I'm not very good about keeping it clean--dust free, dirt free, paint fleck free, etc. So I guess when they scanned in some of it there were some issues with specks and such showing up. IF I bothered to cover my artwork with sheets of paper and nicely put it away instead of throwing it all over the floor then this wouldn't be a problem. I never learn my lesson. Maybe I will next time around?

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Below are a few drawings I did as a kid. The first are some clowns. I remember doing these at Grammy's house. There was Grammy and Grandma. Grandma used to be called "ma" for a long while. She was "ma" and my mom was mom. This is because she took care of me while my mom was at work so I considered her another mom. One day the boy I played with next door asked me why I called her "ma." He said,"She's your grandma not your mother." I felt embarrassed so I started calling her grandma after that. Anyway, at both grandmothers' homes I did a lot of art. I loved doing it. 

This one is a tracing of my foot and hand. It's shiny because it's covered in plastic wrap. I loved covering things in plastic wrap because I thought that was like laminating my art. Someone should have bought me a laminator! 

Sunday, July 8, 2012


I must begin by saying that sadly I don't have any pictures of this. I was telling my sister the tale of my bike ride and she said, "This is why you always must carry a camera." I said, "Where would I put it?" She said she really didn't know. When you're on a bike, these things can be difficult. Next time I'll try to figure something out.

My journey started out well enough, though a bit bumpy. If you haven't heard my many complaints I'll sum this up succinctly: Greenpoint is under heavy construction. This means a lot of bumps. This means a lot of jostles that I was not prepared for. My dad has suggested buying a gel seat. I think I may seek one out. I weaved in and out, avoiding a bit of traffic and some pedestrians, trying to be polite, giving the right of way and so on. It seemed to work out well enough (this a virgin ride). I came to a horrid shock when I hit McGuinness Blvd. A whoosh of extreme hot air pressed against me and I saw, very all too closely, the side of a semi. The experience only lasted a few seconds but it was an all too unpleasant one. I wish for it not to happen again. I wasn't entirely sure I was going to live or live with all of my limbs intact. Considering my track record lately, a brush with death--perhaps knocking me off the bike and blowing me into the road and being run over by a car--wouldn't be all that surprising. None of this happened, however, and the mac truck blew by and continued on its way, flying over the bridge into Long Island City. "I really don't like this," was my immediate thought. "If bike riding in the city is going to be like this then I don't want to do this." I was panicking.

But I continued riding in the 95 degree weather because I was determined to make it to the water. I told myself that I needed to get rid of some pent up energy. I hadn't exercised in a week because of the sprained ankle and I needed to do SOMETHING. Doing nothing but painting for days and days can take its toll on the mind. But I didn't know what was coming as far as a mind bending little adventure....

I somehow made it past the busy roads and things quieted down. I'm starting to like this part. This part of greenpoint is nice. It's tree-lined, shaded, and quiet. Its one way streets are perfect for bike riders. I hit the last street and could see the water. The bike rattled on the cobblestones and I wondered if I would pop a tire. The way I figured it was that the bike was not really mine... so who cares? Perhaps I'd abandon it with the other garbage that I was noticing along the cobble stone road. It was an odd little road toward the water. Placed along the road were many wooden kitchen tables, as if someone were planning a sunday dinner for the mad hatter and his friends. At the end of the drive was a sort of nice car with its bumper removed. Several men were under the car and one man was handing them some tools. It was a strange place to work on a car. Was it stolen?

I let the bike roll to the end of the sidewalk and noticed a couple's head turn toward me. They were heavily tattooed. They looked happy to see me. Or relieved? They gave me a long look and then turned back toward each other to continue their conversation. Then I heard a loud chortle come from the other side and knew why they were relieved to see me. Homeless people had taken refuge among a grouping of cushioned car chairs. One man drank from an enormous bottle and yelled incoherently.  I rolled my eyes. They were ruining my happiness and I had just gotten there! "Grrrarrrrarrrrr!!!" Garrarrrrrrr!!!!" That's about all I heard and wanted to hear. I tried my best to tune out.

I inhaled the smell of briny goodness. It may not be the ocean but it's ocean water coming into greenpoint and it's good enough for me. The water lapped against the rocks covered in seaweed and it was wonderful. I was distracted, though, by a sight to my right. A long dock in the distance harbored many moving people hopping up and down. They were dancing! They weren't just dancing, they were doing the Irish jig... in costume... in nun costumes... at least 15 of them... only one person wasn't wearing a nun's outfit, one was wearing a GIANT PANDA HEAD. "You're making this up," my sister said. "No I'm not." "This is one of your stories." "It's not! It's really not." The giant panda head bobbed up and down along with the nuns, only it was a tad more noticeable since it was quite larger than a normal head. The closer I looked the more fascinated I became. About three more individuals were dressed in florescent orange and yellow roman soldier attire and swinging swords. "How on earth can they stand bopping up and down over and over again wearing sweating costumes in almost 100 degree temperatures?" I thought. "They're crazy...." 

Or wonderful. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Okay, so here's what I'm thinking. I"m going to try to organize this thing. I think the blog needs organizing much like my brian. I'm thinking I'll have a "photo of the day," a "what I'm doing," a "what's on my mind," "what's on my desk," "what's out my window," and I'm not sure what else. Any thoughts? This blog will be where my random thoughts can fit in that won't be strictly children's book related but I think it could be a good place to put some children's book stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else.

So here's my photo or rather photos of the day:

It's the new fashion statement I caught leaving the L train the other day. You like?

Friday, July 6, 2012


This is how I start my paintings.

I'll post the finish later.


I've been hard at work painting my book DAREDEVIL: THE DARING LIFE OF BETTY SKELTON... or at least I think that's the title. One never knows. Anyway. I have a complaint to share. Not that I'm not full of complaints most of the time. I've lost a lot of weight and I have not much of a butt to speak of. This means there's no cushion when I'm seated. This means that it really hurts when I sit for long hours. I mean it! My butt hurts! Other things hurt as well, such as my arm, which I complained about on my other blog. I think I'm going to complain about each body part on a different blog. Spread the love, you know?


My dad found a sweatshirt that my little sister left at my parents' house. We THOUGHT it was her ex-boyfriend's but it turned out to be her friend's fashion line that she had been working on. My dad did a little "fashion show" to show it off and we texted my little sis the photos. Oh, dear Dad. Good times.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


If you have followed the Fireside Chat you may recall the yellow hotrod with the monstertruck tires. This vehicle can always be spotted on Kingsland Ave. between Nassau and Norman. I don't think the owner drives it anywhere. He just moves it from one side of the street to the other to avoid a ticket because of alternate side parking. 

Here's a nice Christmas photo of the beauty...

I often see onlookers taking photos of it with their camera phones. I can't help but do this myself. And often. It's a lure. I chuckle every time I see this Monster Truck TransAm.

One day, I saw something new. It seems that an alarm system wasn't enough for the owner of the Monster Truck TransAm. It seems that the owner had to chain the car to a nearby pole:

Everyday the owner would move the car he now had to find a pole to chain the car to. Week after week. "How hard is this to find a pole to chain the car to?" I thought.  I watched the situation closely... and with fascination. The chain was always there and well positioned. Could someone cut through it in the dead of night? Would anyone bother? I mean, how far would a thief get driving a yellow monster truck car down the road that was reported stolen? 

After about three months or so it seems that the owner gave up on chaining the car to various poles. Perhaps he realized that this tactic was a bit overkill. 

I wonder what will happen next with the Monster Truck TransAm? Stay tuned.


I hadn't started the new blog yet because I couldn't figure out how to make it look like the old blog, which I will now call "Fireside Chat The Old Version That Looks Better Than This One." I want it to look EXACTLY the same. GRRRR!!! Well, I give up. I'll try again later. The reason for the new blog is because it will be easier for me to write, "on the go," and on my laptop, etc. Fireside chat had gone dormant and this made me sad. Perhaps this made others sad or perhaps no one really cared. But the only way I could write on it before was to write the thing on Dreaweaver ala HTML. This was becoming impossible. How can one be witty and dash off whatever thoughts come to mind when one couldn't lounge on the couch while basking under the cool blast of the air conditioner? I ask you, how? 

Anyway, I was thinking about donuts the other day. This is because I was in Dunkin' Donuts. "DD" has a donut called the "Old Fashioned." I thought about this. Why? Why does this donut exist? 

Observe the donut:

Basically the "old fashioned" donut is something that the Pilgrims would have enjoyed. 

They hadn't yet the wherewithal to invent nice toppings like strawberry and delicious chocolate. 

And god forbid you stick some sugar in that thing. Okay, okay, I made this up. I don't know what the Pilgrims did. But the "old fashioned" certainly seems to fit the bill. I could look it up and track the origins of the "old fashioned" donut but I'm too lazy and far too busy and should be working on more important things... like finishing my book, which is far past its deadline. I mentioned "the old fashioned" to my sister because she goes to Dunkin' at least once a day. She is so in love with the place that she looked into buying stock there. I knew she'd know what I was talking about. 
Her response to the donut in question was, 
"Well, it's both good and bad." 
"What does that mean?" I asked. 
"You know, sometimes you don't want something sweet. You just want to fill yourself up."
 "With blandness?" I asked.
She shrugged. "Uh..."
"Why not just buy a muffin then?" 
"Uh... yeah... I see your point." 
So back to my original question: Why does it exist?

Here is a food item that puzzled me:

Gross... simply gross. I know spiderman is cool and all but that doesn't mean you need to melt down the colors and combine them onto a Poptart.

I might start a whole series: Why does -- blank -- exist? 

While on the same topic. Why do the police officers down the street exist? They have been simply directing traffic to no one and nothing for the past months. I've watched them playing with their cell phones and picking at branches on nearby trees... and whatever else they can do to pass the time. There has been construction on my street for months and months now and someone thought police officers were needed to direct traffic at empty intersections. See, some of the roads are closed off to cars... so no one is driving down them... so why are the officers needed? Tax dollars at good use? Oh yes indeed!

Maybe I should call this the complain-a-lot blog. 

More later....