Sunday, April 26, 2015

Steampunk Granny chats about Godzilla, Cemeteries, Rabbits and Gardens Gnomes


Since my last post about Godzilla's battle against the worse case scenario of a yeast infection, my husband and I now had him on grain free foods for almost a week and, we've been washing him every couple of days and rinsing with a baking soda rinse. They did say that the condition will appear worse the first week and then, hopefully, begin to disappear, but we're talking a few months here. His immune system is compromised from chemo and steroids.

                                               neck area              

Here are a few pictures to show you that the skin under Godzilla's neck is almost free of hair and his skin feels like elephant skin. The skin under the fur on his lower back, is raw. I sure hope this treatment of foods and meds works because I hate to see the little guy suffer like this.

                                                  rear area                  

Today, my friend Rita and I were at the Laurel Hill Cemetery for their Bones, Bells & Whistles Event which ties in with Philadelphia's Science Festival Event. You can learn more about this event here:


I love the Laurel Hill Cemetery and its a place rich in history. They have a neat gift shop, too. If you look closely you'll see my book on the shelf. While we were packing the activities to be used at today's event and gentleman came in to buy my book. Lucky him, I was there to sign it for him.

My magnolia tree is in bloom and so is my cherry blossom tree.

There are rabbits living under our shed in the back yard and you can see that Snowflake and LeLe are trying to introduce themselves.

I just took out all my garden stuff, fairies, dragons, frogs and lots of gnomes. I try to set up a mystical theme in my secret garden. I'll take a picture when I'm done setting up Gnome Town.


Author Christine Hardy at the Book Aslyum


A fellow member of the South Jersey Writers Group was at one of my favorite book stores doing a book signing. Christine Hardy has short stories featured in several anthologies starting with  “The Gargoyle Cat,” for Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey (our group's first anthology) 


Here is some information on Christine Hardy's other works:


A Bard Day's Knight      “The Dragon in the Kettle”

When the illegal dragon’s egg heating a young blacksmith’s forge hatches, she tries to sneak the baby dragon out of town in a kettle, but babies, especially fire-breathing ones, never stay where you put them for long.

  Reading Glasses “The Beach House”

After her best friend Pooja drowns in Ocean City, NJ, Amber is haunted by Pooja’s ghost as the U.S. faces yet another nuclear standoff with North Korea. Too wrapped in grief to take the threat seriously at first, Amber discovers that the two events are linked in a way she couldn’t possibly have imagined, and not just she but the entire planet is running out of time

I did an interview on her about this story here: 


When Marsh takes his niece on her first roller coaster ride at a historic Lake Erie amusement park, he discovers it’s being plagued by the not-so-mythical Ohio lake monster, Bessie. Marsh recruits the park employees to help drive Bessie back into deeper water with help from an unexpected source: a fiberglass dragon who doesn’t always stay on his track.

Rosemary and Jeff, the wonderful owners of the Book Asylum always supply a tray of delicious cookies for each book signing event. Great deal if you ask me. You get a great book to read, support a budding author and feast on cookies and great coffee.

                 Laurie                             Christine              Marie                                      

It was a perfect day to spend with a friend and other members of our group. If you want to learn more about the South Jersey Writers' Group go here: and here:

If you want to learn more about the Book Asylum go here:

Friday, April 24, 2015

Our Secret Place: An Empath's Journey

I’m belong to a group of talented and compassionate people who have different levels of sensitivity and psychic abilities to the paranormal world. We meet once a week with our instructor, who is a medium, professional ghost investigator, mentor and friend. Her name is Marti and, we are her angels. She is helping us to recognize and build the powers within ourselves. Most people have this power, but are afraid to tap into it. This is why it's such an exhilarating experience to be with same minded and equally sensitive individuals. With Marti's guidance, we are growing beyond the limits of our physical beings.

This week’s assignment was to prepare ourselves for remote readings. An example of a remote reading is if I were to give a person an inspirational reading over the phone. Most of the group is already capable of doing a one-on-one reading in person using their Angel Inspiration Cards, but over the phone? This was a new concept to me.

                                       The cards that I use                               

Marti asked us to try an experiment. She wanted us to create a space in our mind of a safe, happy place that we could go to during the remote readings. She also told us this place could be anywhere. She described her place which was a room full of books and artifacts and a comfy chair. One woman thought of a place in the forest where the trees themselves were bookshelves. Most of the group picked places on Earth, but I’m the oddball of the group. I’d already had my happy place. Had it since I was a kid, but it was miles and miles above the Earth.


Whenever I think of a happy place, it is not on Earth, but inside a big sphere. It’s a spaceship made of glass and metal. It hovers over the Earth most times, but will travel to the ends of the universe, when I wish. I have books, many books and, a floating lounge chair to sit on and read said books. I’m not alone. I have two robots that make me cups of tea and, biscuits. They also make sure that we stay on course as we hurtle through space.

There are three Totem animals that have made their home inside the sphere with me. They are my spirit guides. Besides the tiger, grizzly bear and eagle, I also have a pilot.

                    It's GOD and HE likes to show me all the places he has created. Sometimes we'll even land and walk upon these other worlds, but some worlds are hostile and we don't go there. GOD keeps me and the Sphere safe from evil things.
This week, Marti’s angels will have to visit there happy place at least once a day for inspiration. We also need to keep a list of any messages we will receive while inside our special places. The tiger is the only one talking so far. He keeps repeating one word; explore. GOD agrees with the tiger. I think I’ll take their advice.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Godzilla the Wonder Dog


I have three dogs. Two of them are Chihuahuas and the other is a toy Yorkie. We got Godzilla, the Chihuahua around eight years ago. My youngest grandson, Nathan, accompanied my husband and me when we went to pick up Godzilla from a family who not only raised this breed dog, but had both parents of our dog living in their home. This was definitely not a puppy mill, but people who loved the breed and only allowed the female to breed after several years in between litters.
My grandson and husband picked the small ball of fur that was to become our family and Nathan named him. Nathan was four years old at the time and my husband and I were amazed with the name he chose; Godzilla, Wonder Pet, Super Dog. It was quite a big name for such a small dog.
Godzilla soon proved to everyone that he was indeed a wonder pet and super dog. Chihuahuas are very brave for their small statue. Godzilla the dog would have made the Japanese creature of movie fame that he was named after, very proud of him.
When Godzilla was around four years old, he became very sick. I think it had to do with the food. Dogs and cats were getting sick and many died because of the contaminated food. No one wanted to take responsibility for all these deaths and American companies who produced pet foods were blaming the Chinese government. Personally, I think both countries were equally at blame, but let us not go there, yet.
The vet had to keep our dog on I.V. fluids at his office for about a week until the problem cleared up. We thought he was out of the woods, but he wasn’t. About this time, we had purchased a white female Chihuahua and named her Snowflake. Nathan was with us this time, too. Snowflake and Godzilla were adorable together. They were inseparable. Then the unthinkable happened.

Godzilla developed lumps which turned out to be lymphoma; a death sentence for humans and dogs most of the time. The Vet told us that even with chemo, we were only looking at eighteen months. My husband and I decided on the chemo and, for four years Godzilla went through the routine of injections, pills and blood tests. He was a trooper. After four years, he was found to be free from lymphoma.  The whole neighborhood and our family celebrated this good news. Everyone in the town of Audubon, N.J. knows Godzilla and his sister Snowflake.
This past year, we took in a five year old, five pound ball of terror; a toy Yorkie. I named her LeLe, but my husband calls her the Tasmanian devil after the cartoon character. She is adopted, but is afraid of men. The first few months that she lived with us, my husband was constantly sporting bandaged fingers. She’s gotten use to him now.
We noticed that Godzilla was developing a problem with his skin. It smelled horrible and he was losing fur. Was the cancer coming back? Was it mange? Nothing worked and it got worse. We increased his steroids, but to no avail.

We are what we eat

I am certain that the food industry is trying to make us all sick. The same ills that we find in the human population are also hitting our pets and, it’s because of the food. Because of his poor immune system, the chemo effects, the steroids, Godzilla had a bad case of yeast infection throughout his whole system. What the %#$%? My husband bought only the best food: no chemicals, no coloring, no junk, but we didn’t know about the allergy to grains.
We are on a strict diet of grain free foods. I guess it’s like the Dr. Atkins diet for dogs. We not only have him special foods, but we have him on special water and stuff like granules, Ox E Drops, Tincture of Blackleaf and BacPac Plus which is a special digestive enzyme. We even have to bath and rinse him in a special solution.
I worry about the foods we people eat and, all the stuff that companies refuse to put on the labels. Our food is overly processed, overly salted, full of sugar and, may contain antibiotics, hormones and chemicals that we can’t even pronounce. And, with Monsanto being as powerful as it is, we don’t know if or when we’re eating genetically modified food. If the food industry doesn’t care about us, why should they worry about pets, right?
I’ll keep you all updated on Godzilla’s condition. I want this dog to live a long and happy life. His sisters are keeping an eye on him to make sure, he stays the course.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Steampunk Granny Chats with Camden Comic Con's Bill Haas


I’m getting to do more fun stuff now that I’m retired than I ever did when I was younger. I had no idea what a comic con was until my granddaughters Allie and Annie began attending the one in Baltimore. I’ve always wanted to go to a Comic Con, but I didn’t get the opportunity until recently. I not only had a blast at the Camden Comic Con, but I met so many nice people. Bill Haas and I became friends because of this event and I wanted to know more about this enterprising young man.

Granny: How did you come up with the idea of the Camden Comic Con?

Bill Haas: Camden Comic Con, on a primordial level, was a dream I've had since my youth. My father was an avid collector of comic books and, for a time, an aspiring comic creator. His interests that developed from his youth informed my interests, as I surrounded myself with action figures, cartoons, and any media that featured super heroes. The books themselves were largely off limits to me, as my father felt I was too young to really appreciate them and that I might damage them.

This point of view also extended to his contemporaries. I remember countless times going to comic shows and shops and one of the first things being told was to not touch anything. I always felt that was unfair, as my father and these collectors, began their live as children picking up magazines and books off spinner racks. I was also far less interested in collecting the books and always wanted to meet the individuals behind the books, and to learn from the creators.

I was never particularly interested in the concept of a group of collectors selling books to each other. I always wanted it to be more of a celebration of comics and the artistic medium, rather than about the money changing hands and getting that rare book. Some interests fall away as we get older, and my focus moved from comics to filmmaking. I never stopped thinking about how I would run a comic book show, though. It has always sat in the back of my mind.

    Steampunk Granny with Penguin Friend, Brandon Somers
Fast forward to about three years ago, I was working at the Stedman Gallery & Rutgers Camden Center for the Arts, photographing their permanent collection of fine art. At the same time, my partner, Miranda Powell, was the Arts Education and Community Arts Program Assistant there. She was working with youth in the city of Camden, connecting them to the exhibitions the Stedman was displaying and teaching them about the appreciation of arts and visual mediums.

Many of the individuals she worked with had no access to cultural events, so for many people this was an extremely important program. In our personal time, Miranda began telling me about an upcoming exhibition, one that would feature underground comix and 'zines', created by avant garde and edgy creators. These were the books that ran counter to the superhero movement, pieces like R. Crumb's work and Julie Doucet, and many of their contemporaries. I felt that, while the medium would be interesting to the youth, I really don't think it would resonate in the same way.

I suggested that maybe Miranda pitch an idea to create a small comic book convention that would add a more mainstream or at least a more generalized view into the sequential narrative world. It started just as a goofy idea that we thought would have zero traction. Soon, Miranda, who is an extremely motivated and enterprising young woman, had contacts in the comic industry and had the support of several entities on campus, and Camden Comic Con was born. 

   The Gar Podcast Glenn Walker & Ray Cornwell                                                         

After that, we made an agreement that the goal of Camden Comic Con was to be a multi-faceted event: one that was culturally significant and educational, one that was fun and entertaining, and one that connected all walks of life to the sequential narrative/graphic novel medium. If at any point we didn't hit one of the three, we decided we would walk away. Sure, we have vendors, collectors, and stores selling wares, but we also have a massive symposium with doctors and professors, we have workshops featuring acclaimed comics professionals, and we have panels discussing how to break into comics. 

You will never see an actor or wrestler at our event, unless they come out as an attendee, but we will do everything in our power to bring out high quality artists and creators. Few comic conventions do what we are trying to do, with the exception of Hawthorne High School Comic Con (which is largely supported by The Kubert School). We would love to get a relationship with them. In the end, there is something for everyone at our event and as long as we meet those goals and we stay true to the celebration of the medium, we're successful.

Granny: Who are the people behind this amazing convention?

Bill Haas: As for who is behind the curtain: the first year it was largely Miranda Powell, Victoria Widener (Art Students League president at the time, since graduated), and myself who developed the event. We later enlisted the aid of Jacola Phillips, who is a student and member of Campus Activities Board on campus, to help us with the logistical operation of the day.

We also had financial and logistic support from various entities on campus, including Office of Campus Involvement, Campus Center, the Rutgers Camden Center for the Arts, and Events Office. We also had assistance from John Paul of NJ Comic Book Shows, who gave us some guidance and helped us with behind the scenes wheel greasing. He was incredibly generous and helped us get many of our comic dealers. 

     Allie Gilbert Designer for Loonilolidesigns
For the second year, we developed a committee that was comprised of Miranda, Patrick Wallace (Campus Center head), Jacola and myself. We each had distinct roles to play in the event: Patrick Wallace was our on campus contact and facilitated all of our on campus logistics, as well as providing financial support to the event. Jacola was in charge of organizing volunteers and reaching out to student organizations to sponsor the event. Miranda was our programming coordinator, developing panels, workshops, and activities with our creators and professionals.

She also reached out to the Paul Robeson Library and was able to bring their Buffy to Batgirl Symposium, as well as securing a showing of She Makes Comics from Sequart. She also secured some of our artists, when I was unable to make contact with them. I was responsible for filling the dealers’ room with vendors, artists, and guests, as well as organizing the space and doing all of the web presence and graphic design.

I always bite off way more than I can chew. We had great support from our campus as well, specifically from Patrick Wallace and Dr. Lindenmeyer, Dead of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Graduate School. From what I understand, she seems to be very supportive of our event, which is tremendous as it could mean the college will keep us going. Without all of these individuals, the event would never have seen the light of day.

Granny: What are your plans for year three of the Comic Con?

Bill Haas: Because of the delicate nature of our relationship with Rutgers, we have no firm idea if there will be a third year. We would all certainly like there to be, but I cannot say with full certainty there will be. We are truly grateful that Rutgers has provided us with the financial support to run an event like this, as it really is an event for their students first and foremost, and the secondly for the region at large. If they believe the event to not be in line with their mission statement or providing events for students, they might not fund another. From what I've heard, however, is that the campus is extremely supportive and interested in continuing this event.

Many of the students have said how great it is to have artists come out and show them techniques and just to be able to interact with these industry professionals on a more personal level. We have a great deal of supporters in the industry as well, who have asked us if there is any way to contact the college and convince them to keep it going. Hearing this makes me believe we'll be able to put on another show, but I'm a show me, not tell me guy, so I'll wait for the call.

                                Sarah Hawkins Miduski                                                    

With that said, we certainly have a game plan ready. We are pretty much at capacity for what we can do in the gym, but we will be filling the entire gym with tables, within fire code, and moving any entertainment to another venue.  Not to insult our current cadre of guests and artists, but we would like to have even higher profile artists coming out and to have more of them. We know that we are small, but after last year, there is no reason we cannot bring out similar level of guests, especially locals, that our friends at larger events can.

We would like to have more film screenings, some educational, some for fun. We would like to get the educational departments on campus even more active in supporting the event. There is no reason why we can't have a panel or talk featuring a criminal justice professor discussing vigilantism in comics, or a psych professor talking about psychiatric issues in comics.

          Mistress Rae aka Cinsearae Santiago Reiniger                                                       

Overall, we would love more collaboration with the departments. The more things there are to do, the higher profile our event becomes and the more traffic we see. We would also like to mirror our mothership school at New Brunswick and perhaps have a week of geek/nerdy culture events that lead to our big blowout event, Camden Comic Con. They could be lectures, talks, artist showcases, etc. that could help us generate excitement and anticipation, as well as providing even more opportunities to learn and be enriched.

South Jersey Writers' Group Author, Dawn Byrne                                                          

We know that we will be expanding our gaming next year, as Ed Evans of All Things Fun! was giving us a test run this year, but is committed to making it a massive event in the future. We just need to keep bringing the same level of quality guests, programming, and vendors. We believe the formula works well, but we might shake things up so it doesn't become stale. We won't really know until we get into the nitty gritty. Who knows, maybe we could convince the college to go for a 2 day event. 

I want to thank Bill Haas for taking the time for this interview and, I'm getting ready for next year's Camden Comic Con. See you all there.

Camden Comic Con


Monday, April 13, 2015

Steampunk Granny Interviews The Talented Osman Karriem


I love interviewing Independent Artists and recently one of my talented grandchildren, Allie Gilbert, fashion designer and owner of LooniloliDesigns told me about a very talent artist and author that she became friends with.


Granny: My granddaughter raved about your art, Osman. Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Osman Karriem: Thank you. Ever since I was five years old, I’ve always had an active imagination and before I could even talk I was drawing and marking things up things that I wasn’t supposed to mark up; drawing on things that I wasn’t supposed to draw on, but I guess my parents saw something in what I was doing and didn’t get upset.


I think the breakthrough came when I was watching a cartoon and, I think it was a Speed Racer cartoon. There was this car and I had to have it and nobody told me that I couldn’t make this things so I’m looking all over the house, and mind you, I’m only five or six at the time. I went searching for supplies in our cabinets, under the bed, inside my dad’s closets, looking for anything I could use to make this car and finally I came across some aluminum foil. As they say, the rest is history.

With my hands, I’m just squishing and squeezing, bending and twisting and after time it started to look more and more like the car. After that, I started making animals and soon I had the attention of the adults and the other kids and they were saying, “Wow, this is pretty good.”


I continued with my drawing and sculpturing until I became pretty popular as the kid who could make things out of aluminum foil. My artist side didn’t stop there and I got into music at a young age and finally film. When I was thirteen, I tried to do an ad campaign for Reynolds Aluminum Foil Company. I came up with the character, Sir Foil-a-Lot and made the horse from the logo they had which was a Knight and made a couple of other characters; wrote the script; made the jingle and I submitted it to the company.

Granny: That is so exciting. What happened?

Osman Karriem: They loved it and said that they never seen anything like this and that they would talk to some of their people. I got a few letters from them saying they would try to work something out, but after a year, the final letter said that they couldn’t do anything with this because it would be a breach of contract because they already had an advertising company. I was very disappointed.

Granny: How old were you when you were receiving these letters?

Osman Karriem: I think I was around twelve at the time and not knowing better, I submitted the actual sculptures. I didn’t take pictures and just thought you could trust people. After a while, I stopped doing sculptures and concentrated on my illustrations and a comic book that is the inspiration for the novel that I’m working on now.


I went to LA to pursue my acting, my film work and my music. I figured if I couldn’t make it in LA, I would forget it. I found a roommate and started Illuminations, the name for my aluminum foil business. I was also a freelance artist while I was out there. My girlfriend at the time, it was her birthday and I knew she liked the Ninja Turtles because they had just come out, so I sculptured my turtles and painted the turtles. Friends at work suggested that I try selling the sculptures on Venus Beach and I sold everything within minutes.

Granny: Where can I see the sculptures?

Osman Karriem: On Facebook.

Granny: These are amazing. I love the Michael Jackson and President Obama. I love that man. You even have the scene from 911.

Osman Karriem: I’ve done at lot of work for the NFL and for the Eagles Team. Check out my illustrations.


Marie Gilbert: These illustrations are amazing. Did you go to art school?

Osman Karriem: No, but I have a natural talent for art.

Granny: Tell me the name of your novel.


Osman Karriem: The God Wraith: Prophecy

Granny: What is the book about?

Osman Karriem: It’s an epic story about a prophecy about the person who is supposed to be God’s physical wraith incarnate. The story starts with an incident that happens in the fifteenth century where a woman was accused of witchcraft and she gives birth to a child that will determine the fate of the world.  I wrote the novel in 2006, but I updated the book and gave it a new title.


Granny: Have you shown your art in a studio?

Osman Karriem: I returned back to the east coast when my brother died and I figured I would move my business here and promote it here. Right now, my sculptures have taken a back seat in order for me to focus on my writing, but I will return to the foil art. The revised book should be out within a few weeks.

Granny: If people want to buy your book, where can they find it?

Osman Karriem: They will be able to buy the book as an e-book on any popular platforms, but the hardcover will be out soon.

Granny: Maybe, I can do a review of your book when it comes out. Can people purchase your foil art from your Facebook page?


Osman Karriem: Yes, they can contact me there. I wanted to let you know that I am also involved in a web series called Beyond Desperation. Damon Darrell is the writer, producer and director of the series. I am the assistant director and I play the character Isaiah Turner.

Granny: Are you on YouTube?

Osman Karriem: Yes, I am.

Granny: I will make sure to share this with my readers.

Osman Karriem: Pull up episode thirteen and you can see me. Damon Darrell is a brilliant director.

Beyond Desperation, Episode 13

Granny: It was a pleasure speaking with you and I’ll have to thank my granddaughter, Allie, for introducing us. I will make sure to share your site with everyone and when you get your webpage updated, send it to me. You said you would also display your music on your website and I’ll be looking forward to checking it out. Thank you so much, Osman.

Osman Karriem: Thank you.