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Cletus On the Brain


As you know my friend Cletus is into tools, inventions, and science. He’s a fair hand with an electron microscope and a quick study. Today he’s been telling me a bit about how the brain works. And I thought you might like to hear it too — ’cause this is cool stuff.

According to his latest research key components of the brain are called microtubules. Seems these things are all kinda twisted up together and they actually talk to one another, only using chemicals as their words. And get this — when a person gets anesthesia, say before an operation, the little microtubules actually unwind from one another. See I told you this was cool.

So just remember being awake to see, hear, taste, touch and smell the world around you is based on the amazing world within you. You are a walking around miracle.

If you would like to know more about microtubules and see pictures and drawings of how they look check out this site:


Runt Farm Gets PW Review

Ah . . . my all time favorite children’s book reviewer, Betsy Bird, has graced Runt Farm in her final Publisher’s Weekly Fuse 8 column for books published in 2009. 

Betsy is one of the best reviewers out there — sassy, smart, and in person she is a jewel of information and wit. Happy to have a one-liner from her any day!

A Morning Cuppa

This morning I am sipping a special tea created by hand from the garden of my delightful friend Veronica. She blended a bit of spearmint and rasberry leaf together and the delicate aroma seems to be coming directly from a place of love and contentment. Ah . . . tea.

And that reminds me, do you know that Tooth of Runt Farm has a lens? Yes, a Squidoo lens (all these new fangled things!) and it’s about tea. Seems my friend Veronica and Tooth have a lot in common! Take a look when you have a moment. Just put the kettle on, have a cuppa, and see what Tooth is up to. You can find a link on the Blogroll over on the right side. (Yes, I know . . . I have more that just blogs listed in the roll, but you don’t mind, do you darlings?)

Bobby McFerrin Goes Pentatonic

Bobby McFerrin is one of my all time favorite musicians. He is, in point of fact, brilliant, inventive, smart, dedicated, and just so doggone fun to listen to. In this short vid he demonstrates the universality of the pentatonic scale. And shares that in his experience audiences around the world have the built-in ability to grock it from the get go. [For those who don’t know the word grock please read Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. It is a classic and your education is not complete until you have added it to your I’ve Read This list!]

To help you visualize the structure of the scale you can take a look at this graphic of a piano keyboard.

PianoBlackKeys copy

If you played only the black keys you would hear a pentatonic scale. One of the cool things about this scale is that there are no dissonant combinations, so you can play around using just these notes and it will all “go together” quite nicely.

Most of my Runt Farm characters make up their own tunes from time to time, and it’s possible some of those tunes are being sung in the Pentatonic scale, or even the Dorian, Lydian or Mixolydian modes. Why not?

What songs have you been singing today? Whether just for fun, a ditty to remember your shopping list or a grand aria, make music of your own this New Year. Sing your own song! And if you sing it wearing a hat, so much the better.

Save the Turkey, Pass the Pie!

You might think I was after these turkeys to make them a part of my Thanksgiving dinner. But, no. They were way too fast for me! And when I heard the little babies saying Peep peep peep just like my character The Peep from the Runt Farm series I just had to let them go their merry way.

I’m spending this Thanksgiving with my mom. It’s just the two of us, so it’s extra-specially cozy and quiet. At first I wasn’t so sure I would like celebrating without tons of family around, and lots of dishes made by many great cooks. Mom doesn’t see so well these days, so if we were going to have a good meal it was up to me.

I didn’t exactly do the best job of marketing before hand and when it came time to start cooking today, there were some things missing. The town where Mom lives is kinda small so the market was closed. And really I’m all for that, as everyone should have some time off for the big meal and even some football if they like that sort of thing.

Usually I can sneak next door to supplement our food supply. But my sis and her husband were off to see the grandkids and the doors were all locked tight. Hmmm, how can I make pumpkin pie without evaporated milk? Turns out it is possible and yummy, even if it was a bit less firm than I would have liked. I couldn’t find any powdered ginger to put into the mix, so I minced up some of the candied ginger that I brought along this trip. Yum!

When it came to the Yam and Potato casserole I was missing the flour and a few other things, but corn meal mixed with an egg and some stock seemed to fill in nicely. Well, Mom will eat just about anything we put in front of her, so I wasn’t worried. And sure, the recipe called for Mozarella cheese, but cheddar worked just fine. (Cletus would have approved I’m sure.)

A couple of slices of smoked turkey, steamed zucchini and some cranberry sauce rounded out the menu perfectly. Well, maybe not perfectly, but we didn’t choke or anything. Mom is a diabetic so of course she ate the cranberry sauce first and saved room for pie too.

All in all I liked being on my own and experimenting with the materials at hand to make a meal. I felt all grown up somehow and peaceful inside.

Here’s a wish that your holiday be filled with just the right ingredients to make you truly thankful!

Elf-ing Ourselves

Send your own ElfYourself eCards
Well, yes I know . . . it’s a bit early in the season, but my friends and I couldn’t resist a little holiday dancing. Go on, ElfYourself this year. It’s fun and you get to wear these cool pointy hats. You know how I am about hats, right?
Okay, here’s one more from Hip Hop Amanda Lorenzo.

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

The New Halloween

Guess which one is Amanda Lorenzo?

Guess which one is Amanda Lorenzo?

This Halloween a couple of friends and I went out to a local community center to see what was happening. Kids, parents and young people were out in force to celebrate and the gym had been transfromed into a well lit carnival of games and contests of skill. We had fun playing Frog Toss Tic-Tac-Toe, Ping Pong Ball Bounce (the object of which was to bounce balls into bowls floating in a wading pool), and watching the Thriller dance team come to life to entertain us!

We posed for pictures, saw some spiff costumes including a kid in a robot suit, checked out the spin art table, and guessed how many Smarties were in the big jar by the door. No, we didn’t win, but it was a great way to spend the evening an no one got soaked wandering around Trick or Treating in the dark! Yup, I like the new Halloween. It reminds me of a spooky (but safe) night at Runt Farm. Apple cider anyone?

Here are some cool pix and a video of the Thriller peeps.

Hey, check out the ghosts creeping out of the paintings!

Hey, check out the ghosts creeping out of the paintings!

Wow, this is getting pretty spooky!

Wow, this is getting pretty spooky!








Queen Anne has seen better days, clearly.

Queen Anne has seen better days, clearly.


Darling, what a big nose you have!

Darling, what a big nose you have!

The Count will see you now . . .

The Count will see you now . . .

Does this body make me look fat?

Does this body make me look fat?

Seattle Book Fest – What a blast!

So much is happening these days it’s hard to know where to start. But I have to give a shout out to the organizers of Seattle Book Fest 2009. Paul Doyle, Molly Horne-Brine, and all the cool volunteers did an amazing job putting it all together for the biggest book-loving city in the world – Seattle! And another big round of applause to the Columbia City community and business owners – this is one happening place!

I had a blast meeting readers of all ages, teachers, publishers, book sellers, other authors, kids and my favorites – librarians. (Really, they are so cool.)

Would you like my autograph?

Would you like my autograph?

My publisher, BooktiMookti Press, had a table in Room 11, the best room ever. We shared with Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, All Bilingual Press, and CeciBooks. Plus we had an artist in residence right there in the room too — Jennifer Carrasco. Clearly Room 11 was the place to be.

The Columbia City Event Center where Book Fest was held this year is the former Columbia Elementary School. All around us were bits and pieces of the lives of the last teachers and students to use those rooms. Names next to coat hooks, art projects on the walls. And in the room where I did a reading from my first Runt Farm book, a set of brightly colored candles sat waiting to be released from their molds.

I Get to Read!

I Get to Read!

I had fun playing with the secret doors too. In every room the walls rolled up and down revealing hidden coat racks, shelves and cubbies. I so want a secret rolling wall in my house!

This guy is multi-lingual and muy guapo too!

This guy is multi-lingual and muy guapo too!

Book Fest disappeared back in 2003 and it’s so good to have it back! If you missed Book Fest this year do yourself a favor and don’t miss it next year.

Read on!

Okay, a few more pictures!
Jennifer is colorful!

Jennifer is colorful!

A Girl Named Jack (acutally Jacq with Fantagraphics!)

A Girl Named Jack (acutally Jacq with Fantagraphics!)

Leigh - He knows his books!

Leigh - He knows his books!

Holy Cats!

My cat, Chiti, insisted I post this for your listening pleasure. She gives it five stars.

Entitled Duetto Buffo di due Gatti it is often attributed to Italian composer Rossini, but may not actually be his work. At any rate these two young vocalists from Les Petits Chanteurs a la Croix de Bois do it up to purr-fection. Priceless!

Wait I think Kitten of Runt Farm fame is warming up in the wings! I’d know that Yeeeooow anywhere.

It’s A Party!

BannerThe launch party for Runt Farm was a Loo Loo! Here are a few shots from the big day and a video too! We had world class dancers, a cool cake, illustrator Mark Evan Walker was there too. Wow.

Take a look!



Here’s the book birthday cake. Yup, books have birthdays too.






Leaping lizards?

No! Leaping Twins – Keoni and Maceo perform as Cletus and Tooth escaping from NAARF. Their full length stage version of Runt Farm will debut Nov 1st in Seattle.


Mark and Veronica Mendonca, master astists of the dance floor, cut a rug doing the Lindy Hop. Smokin’






And the fabulous Bucket Brigade bangs out a number. Mark with Jessie Sawyers. Play it again!




Now don’t miss this! Mark taps up a Runt Farm welcome for our guests.