Wow, just Wow

The Playshop after the Christmas Eve storm in 2002

Last night was the official opening of The Wilton Playshop exhibit at The Wilton Library celebrating The Playshop’s 75th anniversary and all I can say is wow! The crew from The Playshop, comprised of “new” and old Playshoppers alike, has done an astounding job representing the organization’s three quarter century history as Wilton’s Community Theater.

There are props, posters, oh the posters, set pieces and costumes plus photos galore. You simply must see it.

Here’s a fun game for you to play. Laura and I can mark significant moments in our lives in posters, most of which are hanging in the library as you walk in.

Met: Sweet Bird of Youth
Became friends: Witness for the Prosecution
First Date: A Chorus Line
Engaged: Children of a Lesser God
Married: A Perfect Party
Preggers: Little Shop of Horrors (we were actually preggers before that but we remember how much fun it was working on Little Shop while pregnant).
Sarah Born: Steel Magnolias

We found all but “Children” represented on the wall. I plan to go back and look some more.

Tickets are still available for the gala on 24th at Rolling Hills and if last night is any indication, it’s going to be a blast!
Playshop Gala

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Blast From the Past.

You have, by now, heard the story of where If I Had a Gift came from. It was a birthday sheet done for a second grader in 2005.

That second grader’s mom made a photo copy of the book with the original Purple Cod of Cairo and dropped it in my mailbox at school.

I’ll have it posted soon. Suffice it to say, it made my week.

Thanks Grace (and Grace’s mom)

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And the Answer is…Mulan!

The fall show for Wilton Children’s Theater has been confirmed as Disney’s Mulan. The show is going to be beautiful and I need as many young male and female actors as the production allows (55).

The concept involves a lot of group “pageants”, Mongols scaling The Great Wall, a dragon and an Avalanche.

This is going to be a blast.

Don’t miss your chance to participate. I’ll let you know when registration is coming up but you may want to think about rearranging your fall plans now. It’s going to be one you will not want to miss being a part of.

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March Update

This is our 100th post! Our first one is here from February 12th 2007.

Busy winter here at Plossville.

Sarah got in to The Music Man at Wilton High School and Laura has been busy busy busy with BKFK (By Kids for Kids). All of this busy busy business prompted me to pull out of Directing Inherit the Wind in Darien.

On the Children’s Theater front it looks like things are shaping up for the fall although it is not official yet so we can’t discuss it. Suffice it to say that if and when it becomes official, I will need guys this fall so spread the word.

On the book front the Gropius book is finally moving forward now that I have arrived at a look that I am happy with. I am using a combination of Photoshop and Illustrator to achieve what I want and I am excited about getting it done. I am targeting a late April release date.

Be sure to join Plossville on Facebook and Twitter. Although I am not a huge Tweeter I do plan to do things like tweet where I am having coffee and offer to sign books purchased or to draw pictures etc. There may be some give-a-ways too, we’ll see.

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What We’ve Been Up To

It has been a busy winter here at Chez Ploss and Spring and Summer are shaping up to be busy as well.

First, I am directing the classic Sherlock Holmes tale, The Hound of the Baskervilles at the Westport Community Theater. We open the 9th of April. I have been blessed with a virtual who’s who of local talent and am looking forward to a terrific run. For information and tickets see the Westport Community Theatre Website.

Sarah got a part in Into The Woods at Wilton High School. It’s her first show there.

I am looking forward to starting a new program with Wilton Children’s Theater this summer. We have created Summerstage Jr. for kids entering 3rd grade through those entering 6th grades. There are two 9 day sessions and a revue at the end for parents. Our goal is to empower younger actors with the skills and confidence needed to perform in groups in front of an audience.

I have also created a new program for students in July called More Time For Art with two of the most amazingly creative people I know. Karen Brooks is one of two full-time phenomenal art teachers that we are blessed with at Miller/Driscoll school and Lisa Neuscheler also known as Mrs. N who is, herself, a creative dynamo. It is an a art camp where we get to do things that the standard 1 hour art class during the school year. We have so many fun projects planned and are looking forward to spending a couple weeks creating with my friends both under and over five feet tall. More info and registration form here.

All of these plus getting ready for the Fall Wilton Children’s Theater show, which by the way is Bye Bye Birdie; trying to finish a novel; trying to finish another two children’s books; deal with turning fifty and enjoy summer.

So…see you around.

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What Happened to Mr. Skip

For those of you students and parents of students that I do or have worked with, here’s the story.

Friday night, after watching the Warriors loose another game, but what a half-time show, we went home. I woke up at about 4am shaking and teeth chattering from being cold. I also had a pain in my side. Not a bad pain but an ache, almost like I had strained a muscle or something.

I added a blanket to the bed and rolled over and went back to sleep.

When I woke up at about 9:30am I felt like I had a low grade fever and the ache was still there. More than that however was the feeling that something was not right.

After trying to ignore it and taking Advil I finally, at Laura’s “urging” went to my doctor’s walk-in hours. The prognosis was that it might be nothing but…that is where the appendix is and if it is the appendix you don’t want to mess with it. So I drove home, changed clothes and headed for the ER to get a CAT-Scan.

At about 6pm the nurse brought be the stuff you need to drink before having a CAT-Scan and at 9:30 I headed up for the scan.

At about 10:30 the ER doctor came in to say that it was the appendix and it didn’t look right. The surgeon would be down in a bit to confirm.

At 11:30 the ER doctor came back in to say that the surgeon was in the middle of an emergency surgery but that he had confirmed appendicitis and was going to have to go in old school which is full open-you-up surgery.

At about midnight they took me up to 6 West the surgery floor and got me into a private room. My nurse was a really nice guy named Michael. He helped me get into bed and I went to sleep. At about 1:30 Laura and Sarah came down to see me before the operation and then I went back to sleep.

At about 3:30am Michael came in to say that they were on the way to take me to surgery and I was wheeled down to the surgery room. They gave me a mask to breathe through and a really warm blanket and the next thing I remember a blond nurse was offering me ice chips because I was done and in the recovery room.

They took me back up to my room at about 6:45 and I dozed until Laura came in around 7am. I had exercises to do. I had to breathe in really hard to make sure my lungs were ok and I had to walk. I did get to draw though. I drew a picture for Michael to take home to his son (it was a cow) and I drew my fish on the nurses station whiteboard on Sunday and my Bear in Underwear on Monday before I left.

I stayed in the hospital until Monday morning. I had visits from my wife and daughter (Laura and Sarah), from my sister and brother-in-law, my minister and another Sarah who is a good friend and always helps me in theater.

Now at home, I walk around the house, I use different chairs so That I am not in one position too long and I sleep in my own bed or my recliner.

I should be back at school on Monday October 12th and am looking forward to seeing my friends in the halls at Miller/Driscoll and on stage at Middlebrook.

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More Skip “Art” Appears

I have been getting to work along-side my students in art classes this year. Both and that ability has allowed me to be creative in ways I had not thought possible. Thank you Mrs Brooks and Mrs Eyikan!

Here are two “pieces”.

“Redfish1″ is destined for an auction in Fairfield on Saturday. Ir was requested by Mrs. Eyikan and is currently sitting while the varnish dries.

“Giraffe” is an abstracted piece done taking my scribble art a little further. It was given to Mrs. McGann.

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Mr. Skip Paintings at Winter Carnival

Skip has painted two more paintings which he is donating to the Wilton PTA for the Miller/Driscoll PTA Winter Carnival Silent Auction. Both measure 11.75″ square and are Acrylic on Canvas.

Here they are:

The Sheep

The Sheep

The Rhino

The Rhino

To bid on them you can go to the PTA’s online bidding site here (they are not up yet but should be soon).

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Happy (belated) birthday Dr. Seuss

Monday was Dr. Suess’s birthday and because of it, March is reading month.

I would, of course encourage you to purchase/borrow and read one of my books available here but also have a list of others that have caught my fancy at

I encourage all of my friends to read as much as possible this month in honor of one of our most beloved author/Illustrators.

See how many you can read. I bet you’ll surprise yourself.

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Holy Mackerel! In Wilton

This is the front cover of Holy Mackerel

This is the front cover of Holy Mackerel

I stopped by The Wilton Open Book Store last week to see how sales for my books were going. Open book has been very supportive of my efforts and I urge you to support them by stopping by there first before you head to a chain.

They have a couple copies left of my new book, Holy Mackerel.

They also have the other four in stock now as well if you need to get caught up.

For those of you who have kids in Miller/Driscoll you can always send them to school and I will sign them for you.

I am currently working on number six.

Stay tuned.

I also realized that it has been a while since I put any new coloring sheets up so now there are two new ones at

See you in the halls.


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One of the most amazing shots ever

A friend of my father-in-law sent a group of pix along about San Francisco Fleet Week. In it was this shot of a Blue Angels F18 doing 700mph on the deck. Note the pressure waves coming off the plane. This is amazing.

F18 Pressure Wave

F18 Pressure Wave

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Holy Mackerel Available Locally

The Wilton Open Book Store in the Stop and Shop shopping center has received a limited shipment of my books.

This is the front cover of Holy Mackerel

This is the front cover of Holy Mackerel

They have all five available.

Tell Claudette you heard it here!

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A little dog sits
A little dog watches
A little dog dreams
of life as it was
long ago
for his ancestors
in the woods
on the steppes
on the prarrie

A door is left open
He’s gone

He is a Wolf
a Fox
a Jackal
A Dingo

In pursuit of his prey
A cat
A bird
A squirrel
A rubber ball
A Buick
A Buick
A Buick
A Buick
A Buick
A Buick
A Pontiac

Seven times it takes
To learn that
A Buick is not
A cat
A bird
A squirrel
A rubber ball
A Pontiac

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Thanksgiving Leftovers

This is Mr. Skip at five years old

This is Mr. Skip at five years old

Among the leftovers from Thanksgiving is this picture of me when I was five. This should explain a lot to those I work with.

I have no recollection of what it was I was obviously caught in the middle of but it probably had something to do with my brother Scott who is three years younger than I am.

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Lulu Shopping Cart’s working better

The shopping cart at Lulu, where my books are published, is working so if you don’t want wait for the order to arrive at the book store next week you can order online.

Posted in Life in Wilton | Leave a comment Shopping Cart Down

I have been informed, by my discovering the issue and complaining about it, that the (publisher of such great books as If Picasso Were a Fish and Holy Mackerel) has an issue relating to their shopping cart system. The issue is that it does not work.

They tell me that they hope to have it all put back together by tomorrow.

When it’s fixed I’ll post it here.

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Holy Mackerel !

Well, here it is a day early, Holy Mackerel has been released.

In it we meet Mack, a Spanish Mackerel living off the coast of Spain near Malaga. Mack is talented and yet feels unloved by his friends.

You can order online at

The Wilton Open Book Store should have their order in a week or so.

This is the front cover of Holy Mackerel

This is the front cover of Holy Mackerel

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Book Availability

I stopped by The Wilton Open Book Store this afternoon to check on stock and was pleasantly surprised to find that they had sold out of If I Had a Gift and were low on Abstracts2 and If Picasso Were a Fish.

You can always order books from them or online at

The new book proof is still in transit but providing that it comes through with flying colors, Holy Mackerel should be on available online the middle of next week and in the store just before Christmas.

I’ll keep you posted.

In the mean time there is a Holy Mackerel coloring sheet in the Freestuff section of the website.

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New Book Nears Launch

My new book, “Holy Mackerel”, is almost ready for release. The final proof has been ordered and as soon as that arrives and checks out the book will be made public.

Here’s the cover.

This is the front cover of Holy Mackerel

This is the front cover of Holy Mackerel

More later….

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Turkey Day and Turkey Verde [reprint of an column from November 2004]

This is a reprint of a column I did in November 2004 for The Home Monthly.

There seem few traditions in New England, indeed the whole country, more firmly cast in concrete than “one shall serve turkey at Thanksgiving.” In fact as I recall autumns past, I can remember clearly being in groups of people pre-Thanksgiving when someone responds to the question “What are you having for Thanksgiving dinner?” with ham or roast beef, only to be looked at in the same way as would Ricky Ricardo, playing his conga drums in a U-boat rigged for silent running. It is called Turkey Day for a reason. So as we hurtle headlong towards that beloved holiday when we give thanks for everything up to this point in the year, allowing us to cleanse our thank you palate before we hit the big time in December (which makes Thanksgiving the pickled ginger to Christmas’s sushi) … a few random turkey thoughts.

First, at Thanksgiving we celebrate the act of giving thanks. This was first done by a group of clueless Europeans who had decided to settle in Massachusetts in November 1620. Arriving in November and finding not only that they lacked non-porous housing but also that someone had left the canned yams, green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and French-fried onions at the checkout counter in the Plymouth Kwik Save, half of the Pilgrims (so named due to the fact that they were always in a bad mood and the outlook was not at all good) decided to spend the winter starving and/or freezing to death.

In the spring, Miles Standish casually mentioned to an Indian named Samoset who happened to wander into the settlement, “I say good fellow, we are like, starving.” So the Indians (as they were known then due to the fact that the self same Europeans had initially thought North America was in fact, India), in one of the most stunning examples of hindsight being 20/20, offered to help.

The Wampanoags taught the ex-Europeans a thing or two about raising food and living off the new land so they could survive. In return, the Pilgrims threw a big feast and served wild turkey (the poultry), geese and ducks. As this was not only the first Thanksgiving but also the first pot-luck, the Wampanoags brought lobster, deer, clams, oysters and fish. Because both Mrs. Standish and Mrs. Samoset insisted that everyone also get a good helping of vegetables, the Pilgrims also served cucumbers, assorted root vegetables, corn and wild fruit.

After the feast, everyone sat back, unfastened their britches and loosened their deerskin pants. The Pilgrims weren’t finished giving thanks so they threw the Wampanoags two other things, the diseases smallpox and diphtheria, which wiped out entire villages.

I can relate to the above historical text, for at Chez Ploss Thanksgiving is an almost joyous occasion and one that follows the Pilgrim traditions to the letter, except for the lack of Native Americans, venison, geese, ducks, lobster, clams, oysters, beets and turnips. Dinner is almost always turkey, semi-turkey or Turkey Verde.

Thanksgiving while growing up meant turkey, stuffing (both wet and dry), yams, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy, pumpkin pie and vanilla ice cream. Table condiments included gelatinous canned cranberry “sauce,” black and green olives and really small pickles. When I got old enough, I was allowed to slice the canned cranberry sauce for serving. This involved cutting both ends of the can with the can opener, removing the bottom and using the lid to push the solid cylinder of cranberry goodness out the bottom, pausing every 1/4 inch or so to slice and place it on the serving dish. This was replaced in the late 1970s by the cranberry/orange blender relish, which seems to have invaded the American Thanksgiving table like the walking catfish has taken Florida.

Carving the November bird was always up to dad. He began sharpening his knife (real men don’t use electrics) hours ahead of time. He was a master, a turkey surgeon as it were. When he passed away in 1975 it became my job, at 15 years old, to carve. It is a task I enjoy especially when I have good cutlery. The cutlery of choice right now is an Oxo Good Grips 12 inch slicer. It is not electric and not serrated in any form. It is a regular smooth blade knife, which is sharp enough to cut through browned turkey skin. As a rule I limit my intake of pre-dinner alcoholic party beverages so that I am able to handle the knife without having to make a trip to the emergency room of Norwalk Hospital.

I have been to Norwalk Hospital on Thanksgiving Day. I went when an unfortunate visiting member of the family slipped and fell on the way to the table (where my wife’s first turkey was just being set), causing a three-inch gash to open up on his forehead. When we got there the waiting room was filled with guys who each had one hand wrapped in a dishtowel. They were all victims of dull knives and carving while under the influence.

So it has always been turkey. The semi-turkey mentioned above stems from a trip made several years ago to the Johnstown/Gloversville area of New York State. I was told we were going to have the culinary experience of a lifetime, Thanksgiving at a turkey farm restaurant. I imagined tables piled with turkeys, golden brown just waiting to be worshipped, farm fresh vegetables cooked to crispy perfection and homemade pies. All those years keeping up the Ploss family tradition were to be validated.

When we arrived at the restaurant there was a line. This was made up entirely of people in their Sunday Best, waiting their turn at the well of hope. As you have probably guessed, the food didn’t (couldn’t possibly) measure up to the family hype. The meal consisted of a small pile of a deli-sliced turkey-like product with mashed potatoes in canned gravy, canned corn and beans. Still, we were all together.

My first Turkey Verde was served at a friend’s house about seven years ago. My friend, like myself, likes to take culinary risks once in a while. Sometimes this is good, like the Puree of Root Vegetable (potato, parsnip and carrot) Soup with Ham and Green Peas I served this evening or my roasted garlic mashed potatoes with Gorgonzola cheese. And sometimes not, like the Green Bell Pepper sauce for pasta I made, which turned my daughter off green sauces for several years due to the fact that both of her parents seemed to suffer some sort of gastro-intestinal “distress” after eating it.

It seems that my friend had an unhealthy obsession with cilantro at the time. When it came time to “herb” the stuffing, cilantro was the herb of choice and the stuffing was chock full of it. As the turkey cooked, the juices seeped into the cavity of the bird where they passed through the stuffing, which served as a Senor coffee filter for the cilantro and gathered in the bottom of the pan waiting to be sucked back up and poured back over the bird before being turned ultimately into gravy. They began to resemble the beer sold on St. Patrick’s Day. Since my friend is also an accomplished baster, the turkey began to take on the look of the Irish as the cooking process progressed. When it was placed on the table it had the color of a new marshmallow shape for Lucky Charms.

One area where we at Plosshaus seem to have issue is stuffing. Again, I tend to be more “out and about” than the rest of my family. My wife Laura, who descends from a long line of MAPs (meat and potatoes) fanatics, tends to the more traditional side of things. This is the Arnold bagged stuffing camp. My daughter would go against tradition if she was allowed to but I don’t see us having turkey stuffed with macaroni and cheese anytime real soon.

I, again, tend to hang out in the dangerous neighborhoods where seafood, non-traditional vegetables and spices from non-English speaking parts of the world infuse non-traditional breads with smells and textures that one can only dream about. One of my favorites was a stuffing made from Freihoffer’s 12 grain bread, green pepper, celery, onion, blackening spices (now generically labeled Cajun in most mainstream stores) and crawfish tail meat. The recipe was “guess as you go.” It was pronounced “good” but not for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I have tried oyster stuffing and stuffing made with shrimp and bay scallops. Still, for the majority of folks who show up for a Pilgrim repast, it’s the tried and true all the way.

This is not to say that the folks (family and friends) I cook for are unadventurous. They will try almost anything. This has led to the new discoveries such as the root vegetable soup, the roasted garlic mashed potatoes with Gorgonzola, Beef Wellington with Brie, three species of mushrooms reduced in Madeira, smoked and poached salmon with capers, onions in a cream sauce, and grilled asparagus. It’s just that holiday traditions are the toughest ones to buck.

I’ll hold out hope for gradual change. If canned cranberry sauce can turn to cranberry orange relish, then mashed potatoes can become roasted garlic mashed potatoes with Gorgonzola. I, however, refuse to give up the green bean casserole. After all, it’s a tradition.

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