Monday, December 31, 2018


Every New Year’s Eve in Taiwan the tallest building in the country (and once the tallest in the world), Taipei 101, is the center of an impressive fireworks display visible for miles around. When we were in Taipei in October, we had our photo taken with a picture of the tower and fireworks in the background. We are with our gracious host for our visit to Taiwan, Liang-Yo, who watches the real fireworks every New Year's Eve with his family.
Tomorrow it is the beginning of a new year. Wherever you celebrate I wish you a very

                              HAPPY NEW YEAR 2019!

Monday, December 24, 2018


I have a new ornament on my tree this year, a charming miniature library made for me by my friend and fellow children's book writer Caroline Hatton in a repurposed mint container just two inches square. The tiny books inside include my book Hatching Chicks in Room 6, Caroline Hatton's book Surprise Moon, and Ann Whitford Paul's book When Animals Say I Love You. It is reminder of the importance and joy of books and reading during the holidays and all the year through. As we celebrate this holiday season with its message of joy, hope, peace and goodwill, I send best wishes to all of you for a very

Monday, December 17, 2018

IRELAND, Part 2: The West and Southwest, Guest Post by Tom and Susan Weisner

Ireland. Irish musicians play in bars and restaurants everywhere!
In September, our friends Tom and Susan Weisner took a driving trip in Scotland and Ireland. They have graciously agreed to share a few of their photos and thoughts about the trip. Here is their report of the second half of their ten days on the road in Ireland.

The Cliffs of Moher in County Clare on the southwest coast of Ireland are beautiful, but incredibly windy and cold. They were a long day’s drive from Galway, where we were staying.
Susan and Tom at the Cliffs of Moher on the Southwest Coast of Ireland
Another beautiful day's drive was to Roundstone, Ireland, a small village along the Connemara District coastal drive outside of Galway. 
Shop in Roundstone, Ireland, with Irish music, crafts, blankets and wool weaving.
It was a good place for crafts and gift shopping--like this place for example.
Beer, books, eggs, marble, wool, for sale!
The Ring of Kerry is a beautiful all-day drive around the southwest coast, departing from the town of Killarney, which is about 2.5 hours drive from Galway. Charlie Chaplin had a place in a small town along the way that he visited all his life. Who knew?!
With Charlie Chaplin statue
Killarney lakes and castle in County Kerry are part of a  Killarney National Park (the first national park in Ireland) and make a beautiful day's outing, with walks to ruins of Abbeys and the lake itself.
Did we mention the importance of Irish writers to be found in restaurants, bars, hotels? In a lovely Irish restaurant at our last stop, the town of Kilkenny, southwest of Dublin, we saw this poster.
Some Famous Irish Writers
Here are some of the beautiful Irish throws, blankets, scarves and Irish music CDs that we brought back home in the extra suitcase we had to buy!

Beautiful Irish textiles
Many thanks to Tom and Susan for sharing the highlights of their Scotland/Ireland trip!

Monday, December 10, 2018

IRELAND, Part 1: Dublin and Northern Ireland, Guest Post by Tom and Susan Weisner

Dublin, Ireland.  The Guinness Storehouse
In mid-September our friends Tom and Susan Weisner took a driving trip in Scotland and Ireland. They have graciously agreed to share a few of their photos and thoughts about the trip. Here is their report of the first half of their ten days on the road in Ireland.

The Guinness brewery tour at the old Guinness Storehouse is a must in Dublin. Yes, we got samples of Guinness (not Susan’s favorite though) but then there were options of sodas, light beer and a beautiful panoramic view at the end of the tour from the top floor.
Susan tastes some Guinness
Here are some famous people had already sampled the Guinness! 
The Obamas enjoy a pint of Guinness ale on a visit to Ireland in May 2011.
The Trinity College Dublin historic library room is beautiful, and also has the famous ancient Book of Kells.
Dublin. Trinity College Library
Irish writers are visible at many places around Ireland and their words and posters are found in pubs and restaurants. The Oscar Wilde water was very tasty, for example.
Oscar Wilde Sparkling Water
We toured the Northern Ireland Troubles districts in Belfast, N.I., on what are called “black taxi tours”, and saw murals still documenting the British vs. Irish Republican struggles.
Belfast. Mural depicting Northern Ireland Troubles
The swinging bridge walk is in Northern Ireland. (Originally a narrow crossing built by seasonal fishermen, it is now a tourist destination.) Also, the Giant’s Causeway walk is nearby.
Swinging Bridge
The Irish Famine Memorial is along the river where the victims boarded ships for America and elsewhere. There is an excellent Irish emigration / diaspora / cultural museum here too.

Irish Famine Memorial. The Famine statues, in Custom House Quay in the Dublin Docklands, were presented to the City of Dublin in 1997.
Look for Part 2 of Tom and Susan's Ireland trip on The Intrepid Tourist next week.

Monday, December 3, 2018

SCOTLAND: Edinburgh, Loch Ness, Glasgow and More, Guest Post by Tom and Susan Weisner

Tom and Susan Weisner at Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
In early September our friends Tom and Susan Weisner took a trip to Scotland and Ireland and have graciously agreed to share a few of their photos and thoughts about the trip. Here is their report from their week in Scotland.

Edinburgh Castle is the historic anchor at one end of the “royal mile” road in Edinburgh, Scotland. There are beautiful views of the city from the top. And of COURSE there is an historic dog cemetery near the top of the castle!
View of Edinburgh and Firth of Forth from Castle
And a tour of the Glenfiddich whiskey distillery in the North of Scotland was essential, near The Cairngorm National Park, where we stayed in the very nice local “Boat Hotel.”
Susan at the Glenfiddich whiskey distillery
A visit to Loch Ness and the Urquhart Castle tour and boat excursion are only an hour or so from the National Park. Look cold and windy? Yep. Apparently the Monster kept out of the wind that day.
Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness
In Glasgow we visited the Cathedral - representing the Catholic - Protestant conflicts and the separation of the nobility and commoners within the cathedral.
Interior of the Cathedral, Glasgow
There is an historic Merchants Row tour in central Glasgow, where we found this nature mural in a parking lot.
Mural of Scottish animals near Merchants Row in Glasgow
And then we found this plaque along the wall of the nature mural, documenting that Frederick Douglass came to Scotland. It pointed out that much of the wealth on display came from the slave trade and he wanted the money refunded!
"Send Back the Money" plaque on Merchants Row in Glasgow
Next week on The Intrepid Tourist: Tom and Susan's report on their week in Ireland.