Thursday, August 27, 2015


…I’m headed to Portland in a bit for a weekend of fun and frivolity.  Actually, it will mostly be a weekend of stress and laughter.  It’s Fantasy Football Draft time and as silly as it sounds, there’s a ton of pressure the entire Saturday.  I’m going to try to stay sober and not make any bone-head moves as I’ve done every year for the past four years.
Wish me luck, please.

…I wrote this the other day, though I don’t know what motivated it:

Halloween Night

This pen in my hand
feels like a rusty scalpel,
heavy as a stone sword,
and I’m a bit woozy on nostalgia
thinking about that night
the moon let us down so terrifically,
bloody shadows staining the road forever.

Still I sign anyway, quickly,
remembering Ruby’s ruby-red slippers,
the ones with the flaky Chiclet chips,
her dressed as Dorothy for Halloween,
clicking the heels of her shoes three times,
saying, “There’s no place like home.
There’s no place like home,”
before we headed out for the evening.

I had thought—
a car purchase,
a wedding dress and a honeymoon cruise—
any of these would get my signature
instead of a death certificate.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” the man of authority says again,
skirting my eyes as he attempt to
take the forms from my fingers.
“Mr. _____,” the man of authority says,
soft and frail,
while I hold tight to the edge of a page,
a toddler in a tantrum,
him not knowing I’m afraid to let go
the way I had let released
Ruby’s hand that Halloween night just day ago.

“Mr. _____, please,” he says.
“Please,” he says, “don’t you think this has been
difficult enough already?”

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


…It’s Wednesday and here are a few things I learned recently that you may or may not know:

Joaquin Guzman aka El Chapo, the Mexican drug lord who escaped a maximum-security prison by slipping through a mile-long tunnel had vowed to escape a year earlier, making it his second such success.  His estimated net worth is over $1 billion.

There are more bicycles than people in Amsterdam.

Frenchman Ludovic Chorgnon completed his 41st triathlon in 41 days, setting a record.  His 41st, like all the others, consisted of a 2.36 mile swim, 111.8 bike ride and 26.2 mile run.

To see who should be his lover, Picasso made his two lovers wrestle.

98% of the U.S. population lives within 10 miles of a gun store.

48% of Americans aged 35-67 say credit cards function as a survival tool, carrying an average of $7,000 worth of debt.

9 out of 10 forest fires are started by people.

…And here are a few things I like mid-week:

“It isn’t the big mistakes that get you, it’s the compounding.”  Robert P. Kaye

“If you have the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed.”  David Viscott

 “When I’m out of blue, I use red.” Picasso

“I’m suspicious of people who don’t like dogs, but I trust a dog when it doesn’t like a person.” Bill Murray

“The two most important days in your life are when you are born and when you find out why.” Mark Twain

 “In thin places, we become our essential selves.” Eric Weiner

“It's kind of fun to do the impossible.”  Walt Disney

Sunday, August 23, 2015


…I spent the weekend in paradise.  Paradise is called Galiano Island in Canada.  Everything about the place is fantastic.  It’s sixteen miles long and six wide and everywhere you look there is something spectacular to see, from the ocean, to the forest and incredible trees, to rock formations partially eroded by the surf which look sculpted.
If you ever get a chance to go there, please do.

…I’m a bit backed up on things since I’ve been gone so much, so I’ll leave you with these lovelies to start your week:

-“Ah, rejection, my old friend. Come along in and have a chair.” James Claffey

-“Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.” George Bernard Shaw

-“What is now proved was once only imagined.”  William Blake
-"Perhaps home is not a place, but simply an irrevocable condition." James Baldwin
 -“Victory is sweetest when you've known defeat.”  Malcolm Forbes

 “-I love you.”= I trust you to be at my side when I die.” Maria Pinto

                “It’s my birthday.  It’s tragedy with cake.
                    There are five theories of bluenesss
                    And I proved every one wrong.”
                                                     --Kristy Bowen

-“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Einstein

-“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”  John F. Kennedy

-“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Dr. Seuss

Friday, August 21, 2015


…I had this story published the other day:
I actually wrote it a couple of years ago and so it was nice to find a home for it.

…Today I’m am heading to Canada.  To Galiano Island, specifically.
Next weekend is back to Portland.
Then the weekend after that Indianola.
Then the next weekend NYC.
I think I need to stay home more.

…Here are some things I like for this, or any other weekend:

This is the bird hour, peony blossoms falling bigger than wren hearts
On the cutting border’s railroad ties,
Sparrows and other feathery things
Homing from one hedge to the next,
                                                                           late May, gnat-floating evening.

Is love stronger than unlove?
                                                                Only the unloved know.
- Charles Wright

“Power is the ability to do good things for others.”  Brooke Astor

“What helps luck is a habit of watching for opportunities, of having a patient, but restless mind, of sacrificing one's ease or vanity, of uniting a love of detail to foresight, and of passing through hard times bravely and cheerfully.”  Charles Victor Cherbuliez

“The vision that you glorify in your mind, the ideal that you enthrone in your heart - this you will build your life by, and this you will become.” James Lane Allen

"Destruction and darkness are easier in some ways because they are . . . the very stuff that gave us the desire to write. The stuff that gave us no other choice." Amanda Miska

“Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons.” Douglas MacArthur

“Love is the most important thing in the world.  But baseball is pretty good, too.” Yogi Berra

“One day is worth two tomorrows.” Ben Franklin

“Show them no fear, show them no pain.” Iron Maiden

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


…”I believe it’s possible for a person to live longer than their life.  When I look around this auditorium and see all of you here, I know it’s true.  I know my brother is going to live a very, very long time.”
Those were the last lines from Gary Genoit, brother of “Tuck” Genoit, at Tuck’s memorial yesterday.
Over 2,000 people turned out.  Half were kids.  “Tuck” (nicknamed Tuck because his younger sister couldn’t pronounce Chuck) Charles Genoit died from a long fight with cancer at the age of 55.
He taught at Snohomish High School for 32 years.
Being at the memorial reminded me of the scene in “Mr. Holland’s Opus” when everyone is gathered in the gymnasium, after the school closed down the music department due to funding.  Early in the movie one of Mr. Holland’s students struggles mightily with the clarinet but eventually has a break through due to Mr. Holland’s patience and deft teaching abilities.  In the scene at the gym years later, she has now become governor and she says, “It was rumored that Mr. Holland was only teaching school while he was working on his master opus which would one day make him famous.  I think if you asked him if he succeeded, he would tell you no.  But look around this room.  This is your opus.  We are your opus.”  I know it’s corny, but if you haven’t seen that movie, this scene will make you cry, guaranteed.
And so I felt that way at Tuck’s memorial, even though I didn’t know him at all.
Both my kids had him.  They said he was the best teacher they ever had--not necessarily their favorite, but the best.  He made sure every student reached the full capacity of their learning ability.  He was tough and funny and cared.
It was hard to think selfishly at the memorial, wondering how many people would be there for my own memorial.  I guarantee you there wouldn’t be 2,000 or even 200.
It made me wish I’d done some things differently.
All three of his children spoke.  They were all quite eloquent.  His daughter started off with, “I couldn’t figure out what to say about my Dad, so I thought I’d just talk to him instead.”  Then she said, “Dad, I love you.  I miss you.  I wish I told you that more than I did…”
I bawled.
And so it was an incredibly moving experience that I could go on and on about.
It shook me.  It really made me think about life.

Someone once told me that funerals and memorials aren’t about the dead, they’re about the living.  That’s very true.

Monday, August 17, 2015


…How was your weekend?
I had a very long one, what with another trip to Portland and losing my car key.  Then last night was Dawes at The Showbox.  They were superb, though sadly they did not play “Million Dollar Bill.”  It was my last concert of the year, or at least as far as I know.
Now I’m a bit behind on things, but it’s all good.
…Here are some things to start off a new week:
 “A friend is one who sees through you and still enjoys the view.”  Wilma Askinas
“When you cannot make up your mind which of two evenly balanced courses of action you should take - choose the bolder.”  W.J. Slim
 "I really believe that all of us have a lot of darkness in our souls. Anger, rage, fear, sadness. I don't think that's only reserved for people who have horrible upbringings. I think it really exists and is part of the human condition. I think in the course of your life you figure out ways to deal with that." Kevin Bacon
“Thoughtfulness for others, generosity, modesty and self-respect are the qualities which make a real gentleman or lady.”  Thomas Henry Huxley
“Never mind what others do; do better than yourself, beat your own record from day to day, and you are a success.”  William J. H. Boetcker
“Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting.” Elizabeth Asquith Bibesco
“If failure is not an option, then neither is success.”  Seth Godin

“Life without music would be a mistake.” Nietzsche

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


…I’m going to Portland/Vancouver tomorrow, quite early in fact.  Should be fun times.  I hope you are having fun times for yourself.
A distant friend suffered a heart attack yesterday and is terminal today.  Very tragic.
As they say, life is short so let’s all try enjoy it.

...At that Sam Smith concert I wrote about last time, the opener was some Irish guy I’d never heard of—Gavin James.
But he nailed it.  The crowd loved it.  Surprisingly, there were quite a few who knew the words to all of his songs, and they sang along and squealed and shouted.
He looked happy about that.
He played acoustic—just him and a guitar.
Here was one of my favorite songs of his:

…When I pick blue berries, which I’ve been doing more than ever this summer, I often get awful songs stuck in my head.  We’re talking awful.  Things like, “Tip Toe Through The Tulips” and “The Donkey Song.”
It’s tragic.
But today while picking I had this song stuck in my head, which I rather like though it does remind of when I’d play their album repeatedly while I was in North Dakota my sophomore year of high school, and hating every minute of it:

…I like every kind of music that exists.  A lot of people detest country music.  I get it, but today country really just fills a missing pop niche with strong hooks and melodies.
Take a listen to this (it even has rapping in it):

…Okay, last song (also country) that I once had stuck in my head for two weeks.  It’s a good one:

…Hey, you, have a great couple of days.
I’ll see you soon.
Until then, here are a couple of other things I like:

 -“A great party room has a horrible rug that you cannot destroy.”
-“Some people say there isn’t a difference between love and sex.  Those people are women.”
-“I feel like I learned more about love when relationships ended.  That may have been truer love because we took the sex out of the equation.”
-“If you want to be a butterfly, you have to spend some time as a worm.”
-“There’s definitely a time when the best you can do is look good for your age.”
-“I hope there’s no such thing as reincarnation because I will never pull a better life.” – Bill Maher
“Writing is hard work.  A clear sentence is no accident.  Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time.  Remember this in moments of despair.  If you find that writing is hard, it’s because it is hard.” William Zinsser
 -“If you do the best you can, you will find, nine times out of ten, that you have done as well as or better than anyone else.”  William Feather