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Children's Writer and illustrator

June 8th, 2007

I know, I've been AWOL for awhile now. But that's because I've been busily working on Many Good Things.

I am happy to say that the kids' school Fun Day went well, and they're still playing with the water clock and cogs and escapement, and we may do some kind of additional project this summer with the sundials and Mayan/Aztec Calendar wheels. (Building our own Stonehenge requires too much higher math for any of us except Dan, alas, but maybe in a few years...)

So I'll start with this week's Illo Friday-- Suit. Which makes me think of a suit in a card game, which brings me to the project I've been working on since Memorial Day weekend:

I'm going to be selling game boards at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, along with giclee art prints and other handmade wooden toys (a limberjack spider that dances the tarantella, for instance).

I decided to paint this table on the porch so the kids could play all the games, too.

This is Not finished-- I'll be going back after the pink and yellow paint dries and adding in vines and things around the games so that they're all nested in a web of fun details. I also still need to make the various game pieces... but you get the idea.
What are the games, you ask?

Starting at 12:00-- this is a board for The Royal Game of Ur, which I discovered some years back and fell in love with.
At about 1:30,with edges of the game board covered in paint (that will go away) is the board for my original game, Beeline.
Below at 4-5:00 is a simple Horse Race Game, which I designed around the kids' wishes. Gwen wanted a track for a unicorn (the green forest track in the middle) and a track for a pegasus (the starry track at the outside). Eli requested a track for a dragon (the fiery center). I think he and Zeke will be fighting over that one. I can't wait to make *those* game pieces!
Below that at 5:30ish is a 9 Men's Morris board. This is the way to play tic tac toe without stalemates.
To the left at 6:30 is a leap frog checkers board, and above it is my version of The Royal Game of Goose (What do geese have to do with Royalty? I'm mystified)
Last at about 10-11:00 is Snakes and Ladders-- only this one is based on Alice in Wonderland. There are flamingo neck snakes, and various things for ladders. The heart cards replace the death spaces on the traditional board, and the white rabbit replaces the money spaces.

I don't know whether I'm going to be offering tables like this-- the cost would be prohibitive-- but the kids are excited about it.

So that's that project.

Now for Illo Friday "Your Paradise" and Tuesday walk....

I debated doing a painting for this topic all week, but the truth is, I don't think anything I did would compare to the beauty I see around me all day.
The old joke goes-- How do you tell who the hillbillies are in heaven? They're the ones who keep trying to go home on the weekends.

I haven't had the camera with me when I've been in the woods lately, so I'll give you this, which I snapped while Gwen was hunting for her ball glove last night.

And I solemnly swear that I will take better pictures this week, and post them to tuesdaywalk , because really, this time of year is for sharing. I only wish I could give you the green smell and the birdsong too.

I still have lots of things to do.. and I've fallen woefully behind on portraits (Dianne, Bev and Robin!) and crits (Sheela!) And emails(a whole bunch of people!).
But school is finally out, and I should have something for you in the next week or two.
Hope everyone is having a wonderful week!

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May 29th, 2007

Illustration Friday - Cars


Here's a fairy procession-- the guys in the center bottom have some kind of bubble car, I think. There might be a few other interesting modes of transportation in here, too if you look around.

Right now I'm waiting for my camera to charge so I can post the project I've been working on all weekend, and also--

In today's tuesdaywalk, I am going to post an Is It Or Is It Not Poison Ivy? guide to the summer woods, for those who are interested (or in need!)

Both should be up in about an hour(camera battery permitting). :o/

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April 24th, 2007

Tuesday Teaser

For anyone wondering what happened to Tuesday WALK,

I, um,

I lost the charger for my camera.

Yup. I did.
So until such time as I find it, it will have to be teasing on Tuesdays for me instead.
This is an early chapter from My Essay on Government Cheese....

Guinness Book of World Records

The most incredible compendium ever

of astonishing, authenticated facts and figures from around the globe!

Giant 1990 Edition

Newly Revised and Updated

    I found the book at the Goodwill a few years ago when Charlotte took me along with her to pick up school clothes. I had a quarter, and it cost a quarter, so I bought it. There are all kinds of cool things in there. For instance:

Smelliest animal: The smelliest animal

is the skunklike zorilla (Ictonyx Striatus)

of Africa.It can discharge a nauseous fluid from its anal glands

which can be smelled over a radius of half-a-mile,

and there is one record of a zorilla taking possession of a zebra carcass

and keeping fully grown lions at bay for several hours. (pages 37-38)

I thought a lot about that zorilla while we were cleaning the freezer out. I have a hard time imagining an animal that could smell as bad as rotten food. Must be kind of miserable. Still— he got the whole zebra to himself! And you know, after the fifth night in a row of canned pork, I was really wishing I had a zebra carcass to defend. I was thinking about these guys, too:

Eating records, (page 465):


30 (2 oz) in 64 seconds

by Reg Morris at Miner’s Restaurant,

Burntwood, Eng, Dec. 10, 1986.


One whole roast ox in 42 days

by Johann Ketzler of Munich, Germany, in 1880.

Now, I wouldn’t really want to eat that many hotdogs or a whole cow by myself. I’d be smart, and put most of it in the freezer. We could all share it, and I bet it would last a long time. When my neighbors buy a cow, each family gets a quarter of the meat. It costs them hundreds of dollars, but it lasts most of a year. We never have that much money to spend.

So, you ask--why I didn’t just write to the Guinness book people and tell them I wanted to beat the cow-eating record, so they would send me a cow and we could fill our freezer back up?

Well, for one thing, I’m a lousy liar. What if they found out? We couldn’t pay them back or anything. And here’s the other thing. On page 463, it says:

“While no healthy person is reported to have succumbed in any contest

for eating non-toxic food or drinking non-alcoholic drinks, such attempts,

from a medical point of view, must be regarded as extremely inadvisable,

particularly among young people.

The “Guinness Book” will not be listing any new records

in this or future editions involving “gluttony.”

I think they’re right. I mean, that’s just going to make you sick. And it’s a waste of good food. That guy who ate all those hotdogs-- I bet he never wanted to look at another one when he was done. I wouldn’t want to be that way.

All the same. Maybe if I could win some kind of a record, they’d give me prize money, and we could fill our freezer up again. What else could I do?

One day, I was slicing off a slab of cheese to go with my noodles, and it hit me. What did we always, always have—I mean, that I actually liked to eat? Giant blocks of government cheese, that’s what. And I wouldn’t have to eat it all at once—I could win a prize for the most cheese eaten over the longest time.

    Of course, I would need to check all the years since 1990 once school started up again to make sure nobody beat me to it. And I’d probably have to check online to see where to send my records, so I could win whatever prize they offered their champions.

    School was three weeks away, and I figured that would give me a good head start on my record. I got some clean lined paper and made three columns—breakfast, lunch, dinner. 
I wrote out the dates down the left side, and left a space under each one so I could sign my name after I wrote what I ate.

    Then I stuck the pencil and my list in my underwear drawer, so the little kids wouldn’t use it for paper airplanes or something.

    And so I decided. Until I either beat the world’s record or we had that freezer completely filled up again, every dinner, every snack, every breakfast—every single thing I ate would include cheese.

Government cheese was going to make us rich.

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October 24th, 2006

Tuesday walk

Just a reminder that Tuesday walk is now a community!

Come share your pictures of fall color!

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September 26th, 2006

I wound up spending the day in the er getting my hand stitched,after slicing it up pretty good on a dogfood lid. so my typing is worse than usual, and I didn'tget a walk in... ugh. Here's to a better tomorrow...

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