Blog Archive


Peculiar Picture #31

November 01, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Many of my new followers might not be aware of the fact that for many years I was a professional illustrator. While my work sold on five continents, I have a file cabinet of pictures that never sold. I use these images for a feature I call Peculiar Pictures. Many people don’t like discussing art for fear of being made to look foolish but that isn’t possible here. You can’t be expected to know what these pictures mean if the artist who created them doesn’t know.      Some artists have difficulty painting faces or hands or animals, but I was never happy with my backgrounds. If you held one of my early pictures up to the light, the dominant image had far less paint on it than the background, whic ...

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What Would You Do?

November 03, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      I work out of the house and don’t have as much contact with people as I’d like, so I enjoy it when Mrs. Chatterbox comes home from working at our local police department with stories about co-workers. The other day she came home with an interesting tidbit that made me think.     One of the police officers (I’ll call him Bob) went shopping at Costco with his wife. When they returned, the wife handed Bob a $50.00 package of filet mignons to put in the garage freezer. Once in the garage, Bob got distracted and set the package on his workbench. Two days later Bob discovered the package and was unsure what to do about it. Should he take a chance the meat hadn’t spoiled, put it in t ...

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Bottoms Up!

November 04, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
For our birthdays this year, CJ treated me and Mrs. Chatterbox to a walking tour of one of Portland’s finest culinary districts where we dined on six courses from six different restaurants. Our tour guide informed us that Portland had recently displaced Cologne, Germany, as the city with the most breweries—seventy-three. Unfortunately, I dislike beer. CJ is fond of telling me that living in Portland and not drinking beer is like living in Paris and never going to a museum. Nevertheless, the taste of hops makes me queasy.      I’ve tried on numerous occasions to drink beer, especially when frequenting British pubs and Bavarian beer halls, but ales and beers just aren’t for me. I’ve had to ...

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What the F**K?

November 06, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I have good cause to place my wife on a pedestal; she’s a great wife and mother, a marvelous listener and a kinder person you’ll never meet. In the two and a half years since I started this blog I’ve extolled Mrs. Chatterbox’s virtues, but I think it’s time to throw a bucket of reality on the woman I’ve shared my life with for forty years. Believe me, she ain’t perfect. She has a serious flaw, a disability of considerable proportions. My lovely wife can’t curse to save her soul.      Over the years I’ve had to work extremely hard at my own swearing. I’m cursed with a mouth that, like a cat, curves upward at the corners. People often think I’m being smug ...

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Near Death in Chartres

November 08, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
In 1999 Mrs. Chatterbox and I celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, and nearly died.      We’d traveled to Paris to celebrate, but unfortunately everything was on strike: museums were closed, monuments shut down, cabs and garbage collectors had ceased being operational. Since the French government had a tight grip on the media, there wasn’t a word about this in the papers. Thousands of tourists were lined up in front of the shuttered Louvre and Musée d’ Orsay. Other than eating at overpriced cafes and bistros, there was little to do in Paris.      After a few days of walking around we decided to catch a train to Chartres to view the cathedral’s famous stai ...

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Peculiar Picture #32

November 10, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts







When I was given an assignment to create sixty illustrations for a CD to be called Business Fundamentals, it seemed like a good idea to include a conceptual illustration depicting a bean counter. I worked a long time to create the endless supply of beans in the background and I was sure someone would use this piece for a newspaper or magazine article. Unfortunately, this was not to be. My “Bean Counter” has yet to be published. 



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Veterans Day

November 11, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Today we salute all who have worn a uniform and served our country. Having never served, I’m not included in this distinguished group of heroes. I’ve heard phrases like “Band of Brothers” and “Comrades in Arms” and wondered how different my life might have been had I heeded the call. When this season of thanksgiving rolls by, I listen to stories of heroism and sacrifice. Like many who stood on the sidelines, I shed tears when seeing pictures of unbelievable sacrifice, men and women with broken bodies trying to rebuild their lives. It isn’t difficult to support patriots with mangled bodies. Their wounds are often easy to see and deserving of respect, but too many soldiers carry less obvious scars o ...

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Stand All Ye Faithful

November 13, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  First posted 9/30/11     Not long ago I realized a bitter truth; I’d been turning a blind eye to our environmental problems. I did very little recycling and took my gas guzzling car to places I could have, and should have, walked. My studio was downtown and I decided to take the bus to work. Leaving my car in the garage made me feel like part of the solution instead of part of the problem.       That first day, the bus was only partially full when I climbed aboard. I had one of the double seats to myself, but eventually someone plunked down beside me, a chatty morning person with solutions to all of the world’s problems. The next day a woman on the seat beside me applied make-up and doused h ...

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Cake Fight

November 15, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I’m often asked if my childhood stories are factual and I always maintain they are. But I’ve withheld this tale until now because part of it is made up, a small but significant part. For those of you who can’t figure out where I let my imagination wander, I’ll reveal the fictional element at the conclusion.   In 1963 The Fights aired on Saturday nights. Any male worth his salt watched them. It didn’t matter that there was only one fight, the match up was always referred to as “The Fights.” At eleven, I wasn’t particularly interested in an event that highlighted how ill-prepared I was to defend myself on a playground. I only sat through it because Jackie Gleason came on afterward. One ti ...

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Cake Fight: Conclusion

November 17, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Miss Part One of the story? You can find it (here).   At first I thought I could repair the cake. I tried feverishly to return the top layer to its original spot, but it crumbled in my hands. Before long, the bottom layer also slid to the floor. There was nothing left to do but clean up the mess. Since I’ve always turned to food during times of stress, I ate as much of the damaged cake as I threw away.      I felt doomed as I stood in the kitchen with sticky fingers and a circle of chocolate around my mouth. Not knowing what to do, I searched the kitchen like a drowning man looking for a life preserver. That was when I remembered Grandma’s Easter bread. I pulled the loaf out of the bread drawer and f ...

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November 18, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      This impressionistic oil painting could have been titled Fall, but it’s actually a portrait of my son CJ when he was six or seven years old. As I recall, he wasn’t all that interested in football, and he was even less interested in standing still while I painted him. It’s hard to believe that over twenty-five years have passed since I created this portrait. I remember being irritated when people told me to enjoy our son’s youth because kids grow up so fast; of course this proved to be true. At least I have a dozen paintings of CJ that preserve his childhood.   Although I’ve painted many pictures over the years, this is the only one to be entered in a juried art contest. I’ ...

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Thanks, Dad

November 20, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
A rather large spider has erected its web above our front door and Mrs. Chatterbox has demanded I eliminate it. She refuses to exit our home through the front door until I practice spidercide. Some might comment that Mrs. C. should dispatch it herself if she wants it done so badly, but over the years we’ve devised an equitable plan dividing household chores (Mrs. C. would rightfully scoff at my usage of the word equitable.) Bug killing falls to me. I’m not fond of spiders but, unlike Mrs. Chatterbox, I’m not terrified of them. I would prefer to capture the critter in a cup and set it out in the yard where it can rebuild its web. Unfortunately, this “biggie” is not in an easy to reach spot and can’t be t ...

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Killing Camelot

November 22, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
It’s hard to believe fifty years have passed since President Kennedy was murdered in Dallas. I had just turned eleven and like everyone who lived through those traumatic days I know exactly where I was when I heard the news—sixth grade social studies. Our Principal, Mr. Landis, broke the news over the PA system. I remember his voice trembling as he sent us home.      I remember walking home, passing through our neighborhood and seeing adults on porches and driveways—sobbing. I had difficulty wrapping my head around the notion that the nice man with the smiling wife and small kids I’d grown accustomed to seeing on the evening news was gone. I’d never suffered the loss of anyone I cared abou ...

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A Flushable Pet

November 24, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I’ve decided to get a jump on my New Year’s resolution to be more proactive about submitting stories and seeing one published next year. To that end, I’m reworking and submitting this tale to a publication looking for stories about pets. I first posted “A Flushable Pet” in 2011 and some of you might have missed it.    For several years she was my constant childhood companion. Her body was white but her head was black with eyes that shone like melting chocolate chips. She was a rat, a Japanese black-hooded rat, and for reasons I can no longer remember I named her Yama. She rode on my shoulder, listened patiently to my blathering and kept all my secrets. She didn’t mind I was overweight and was ...

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A Flushable Pet: Conclusion

November 25, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  If you missed Part I check it out (here).        Standing as tall as I could, I told my mother that if Yama had to go, then so would I. There might have been a twitch of amusement on her face; she often referred to me as Mr. Softie yet here I was standing up to her. Yama was permitted to stay provided she never left my room, her cage was kept immaculate, her water bottle filled and I did chores to pay for her food.      I played with Yama every day, letting her out of her cage to explore the wonderful sights and smells of my room. But it was inevitable that worlds would collide. One day Yama squeezed through my partially closed bedroom door. She and my mother confronted each other ...

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Macho Butterball

November 27, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
At this time of year we’re bombarded with all types of advice for cooking turkeys. We’re cautioned that, even though generations of cooks have stuffed dressing into their turkeys, this is no longer a safe practice. Too great a possibility of bacteria, we’re now told. Much is said on the Food Network about brining turkeys or marinating them to increase flavor. Deep frying them in peanut oil is becoming vogue. But something unique is happening this year when it comes to turkey preparation that you might have missed.   For years the Butterball Company has provided a “Turkey Hotline” for those unsure about roasting a turkey. If you have questions and don’t want to call mom and admit you don’t kno ...

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Happy Thanksgiving

November 28, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
                  This was one of my first illustrations. I can no longer remember who the client was but I recall he wanted a black and white picture that resembled the work of Norman Rockwell. Unlike much of my work, this is painted on canvas.         I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.  ********************************* ...

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Happy Hanukkah!

November 29, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
        I hope everyone enjoyed a relaxing a Happy Thanksgiving yesterday. I did so much celebrating that I didn’t have an opportunity to write anything new. But I did come across a set of holiday illustrations I painted for a greeting card company and I’ll be sharing the other one next month.      This picture is in honor of my Jewish friends who are celebrating Hanukkah, even though I mistakenly made the yarmulkes too big.     HAPPY HANUKKAH!   ...

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