Monday, March 5, 2018

Dear Friends,

            I am really, really excited to announce publication of my latest collection of stories, "Jakey's Fork — A River's Journey."
            Before making plans for your road trip this year, before breaking out the Rand McNally, come with me and visit Jakey's Fork— a stream high on the Continental Divide in the Rockies. Follow it through Wyoming, Montana, and into North Dakota. Along the way, spend some time with Lewis and Clark, Butch Cassidy, Sitting Bull, and Teddy Roosevelt … to name a few.
            A book launch will take place Tuesday evening at 7:00, March 20th, at Village Books in Fairhaven. (For you non-Washingtonians, that's a historic district in Bellingham.)
            Everyone's invited. There will be cookies!
            Below, is a snippet from the book. 

Union Pass, Wyoming 

There is no other place like it in the country.
      Standing on top of the world beneath an impossibly blue sky in the Wind River Range in Wyoming, my wife Cherie and I let it sink in. At Union Pass, 9,212 feet above sea level, a person with a strong arm and good aim could throw a rock in each of three directions, and each missile would splash down in a stream, a tributary of one of the three major river systems in the West: The Columbia, the Colorado, and the Mississippi-Missouri. Water from one large meadow in the Rockies, running to three points of the compass? How does that happen?
      Union Pass was known to mountain men and trappers who explored the valley of the Wind River in the early 1800s—John Colter, Jim Bridger, and others. They used it as a route through the Rockies, following the paths of the Native American tribes—Shoshone, Arapaho, Sioux, Blackfoot, and Cheyenne—that for many centuries knew of Union Pass and its significance. They called it the “Land of Many Rivers.”
      Chilly and zipped up in jackets despite the heat in the valley below, we had the place to ourselves. To the south, Union Peak rose another twenty-three hundred feet, and mountain crests sketched the horizon in every direction. The big sky spread out forever as we stood and contemplated the significance of the place and our insignificant presence within it.
      From this unique spot on the continent, we chose one of the three fledgling watercourses, a little creek called Jakey’s Fork, and followed where it led—out of the meadow, through forests and past fields, past valleys and towns—to learn about its journey. Beginning high above the tree line, we planned to track the small stream from its trickle seeping out of a marshy pond until hundreds of miles later its successor would meet a massive river of history, the mighty Missouri. A cupful of the clear water running past our feet would one day, amazingly, find the Mississippi and then the Gulf of Mexico ….




Sunday, November 6, 2016

    Once again this year, I have the distinct pleasure of participating in a writerly event in the beautiful surrounds of rural Whatcom County, Washington. The organizers promise sunshine -- along with book sales and readings (mystery, history, travel, romance), camaraderie, and munchies.
    Those of you in the Bellingham area know how lovely fall is hereabouts. Those of you out of the area, grab those plane tickets soon. They're undoubtedly going fast.
    (Directions: South from Nugents Corner, then take Highway 9 off the Mt. Baker Highway to the RR tracks just before Everybody's Store. The Community Center is across the street on your left. )
       Hope to see you there!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Cirque Journal

Gentle Readers,
    I'm pleased to announce that a story of mine, "Channeling Bill Douglas," has been selected for the Summer issue of Cirque Magazine. Take a look - or scroll down through the Archive to August 2012 where the story first appeared right here!
         Thank you,

Friday, July 1, 2016

Unidentified Fueling Object



Unidentified Fueling Object


            There are no good places to run out of gas but some are worse than others. In the middle of a desert, for example. Or the middle of a desert frequented by extraterrestrials.

            On a recent summer road trip my wife and I took to the Southwest, we made a decision to turn off U.S. Highway 6 and onto Nevada State Highway 375 toward the town of Rachel. Our original destination, Tonopah, fifty miles away, could wait. We decided instead to investigate the eponymous "Extraterrestrial Highway" that passes within a milli-parsec of notorious Area 51, the landing site of choice in the United States for Unidentified Flying Objects. Curious about what we'd find, we gave not so much as a glance at the gas gauge in our spiffy black late-model Ford Ranger pickup as it reliably purred along on six happy cylinders.

Sunday, May 29, 2016


            En la Mañana

            Hoy es sábado, el doce de mayo. Mañana será el Día de las Madres en los Estados Unidos. ¡Besos y abrazos, madres! Mothers' Day, May 13th, 2012.

             This morning, our second day in Madrid, I set off to be adventurous - to find a café for breakfast different from the one the day before. However, the half-remembered map in my head, the original of which lay open on the nightstand in our hotel room next to my sleeping wife, turned out to be no match for the twists and turns, alleys and backstreets and unfamiliar thoroughfares of Old Madrid.

            Short as some streets and alleys are, others seemed to go on for blocks - except when there were no blocks or intersections, just row after row of buildings and shops that played with my sense of direction. Tracing the cobbled streets hunting for breakfast was like tracing the sketchy lines on my palm, some distinct, others faint.

            My grumbling stomach signaled surrender.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Feelin' Squirrelly - A Fable . . .

. . . or You Don't Have to be Paranoid to Have Enemies

            The squirrel said, "Nice day, huh?"
            Terry looked around. Nobody.
“My apologies," said the squirrel. "I’m being rude, interrupting your solitude."
            Terry looked up and saw a gray squirrel, perched on a pine branch not six feet above his head. Not knowing quite why, Terry said "What do you want?"
            "You humans fascinate me.”
            Terry imagined telling this one to Dr. Fischer, the shrink to whom he paid $150 an hour regularly on Tuesdays at three pm. "Take some time off," advised his brain doctor. "Go into the mountains, sit by a stream, don't even take a book."
            Okay. Overnight, no longer. Maybe enough time to temporarily turn off the police scanner that was his prefrontal cortex, the row of blue and red lights that flashed and chased each other back and forth along a black bandwidth of his mind. The job, the wife, kids, politics, the truck making a strange noise, his weight. The nameless dreads every morning. The walking worried, said the doc.
            Nothing Terry tried had worked -- self-help books, classes, yoga, meditation, all quickly abandoned. He couldn't shake the feeling that he was play-acting a centuries-old mystical tradition.
            So now, sitting on a camp table next to his backpack, in a clearing that let the sun shine in through dark green trees, Terry was having a conversation with a squirrel.
            He stared at the critter. "Fascinate?" The faraway drone of a small plane came and went.
            "Yep," said the squirrel. "Tell me, is this a beautiful spot or what? The weather's glorious. That burbly creek over there has been washing those river boulders -- singing its song -- longer even than you’ve had your job!”
            "What in the world do you know about having a job!" snapped Terry. "Your job is to forage for nuts. Yummy!"
            The furry-tailed beastie jumped down to a stump close by. It sat up on its hind legs and flicked its tail like squirrels do.
            "Do you know how much DNA is shared between you and me? We're not that far apart on the family tree."
            Being condescended to by a squirrel!
            “Okay, smart guy,” Terry said. “What’s the square root of minus one? Explain the space-time continuum. Brownian movement?"
            The squirrel smirked. "I’m not the one sitting out here jonesing, uncomfortable in my own skin. And it’s Brownian motion by the way."
            If squirrels can chuckle, this one did at the dig. Or maybe it was the snick-snick-snick they do anyway. The clever rodent went on. "Admit it, you humans with your massive brains have the illusion you can control things."
            "Illusion! And you’re under the illusion that that owl up there isn’t thinking of you as lunch.”
            "That owl is an illusion."
            "Oh great, now we're into Zen," said Terry. "Please don’t go all `lilies of the field’ on me."
            The squirrel seemed to think for a second, then hopped down and headed for the nearest tree.
            “Wait!” called Terry. “Hey, I’m sorry. Come back.”
            The squirrel scampered into the understory. It reappeared. “Up here,” it said. It dropped a pine cone onto the picnic table and returned. It demonstrated how to extract the caramel-colored pine seeds lodged tight in the brittle crevasses.
            "You ever eaten pine nuts?"
            "Not raw." Terry broke off the hard nubbins with his teeth and sampled a few. The blue and red lights were flickering, but only dimly. "Utterly ridiculous. I am losing my mind."
            “Not prime rib, I’m assuming,” said the squirrel, “but you’re being a good sport.”
            Suddenly tired, Terry started to relax -- but only for a second. Neither he nor the squirrel saw it coming. Like a guided missile, with outstretched claws and terrible hooked beak and blazing yellow eyes, a huge owl rocketed down out of the sky, then leveled off for an instant in a parabolic swoop before grabbing the stunned squirrel in its talons.
            Or it would have, except at the last instant Terry grabbed his backpack and swung it with all his might. The blow sent the bird, head over feathered tail, into a stand of manzanita -- from which it struggled, extracted itself, fluttered its wings once, and glaring eyes wide as saucers, escaped high into the distance and vanished.
            Terry's whole body shook. His head and heart were pounding. The squirrel had disappeared. He listened. No scratching or rustling in the underbrush, just the winsome sigh of an afternoon breeze in the canopy of evergreens.
            Clearly, he'd imagined the whole thing. Dreamt it. But he noticed that his mind was clear for the first time in days. No kaleidoscope of thoughts racing through his head. The scanner was off.
            Terry looked around. There was some pine-like debris on the table, but the wind must have sent it down.
            I was not talking to a squirrel, he thought. Squirrels cannot talk. I fell asleep.
            He stood up and tucked in his shirt. He stretched and walked stiff-legged to his truck to get a soda. Then he stopped cold and stared at the top of the utility box in the truck bed. There were three individual ponderosa pine cones, not stacked actually but placed together, and caramel-colored seeds arranged just so around them.
            Terry retrieved his smart phone and double-checked. Yep, next Tuesday at three, Dr. Fischer.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Postcards from the Road - Stories (update)

            Acknowledging up front the shameless self-promotion, I nonetheless want to celebrate the terrific reception "Postcards from the Road - Stories" has gotten. From the well-attended launch of the book in November to the recent delivery of a third print-run, it's been enjoyable and humbling at the same time.
            Briefly then, I'd like simply to remind folks that copies are on the shelves at Village Books in Bellingham, and also in my possession.
            Ordering from Village Books couldn't be easier or quicker. Go to the website (, enter the title, and voila! Or email me, and I'll send a copy pronto.
            Thanks for your wonderful readership.


P.S. If you've already bought a book, please forgive the repetition . . .  and thank you!