Onward & Upward

I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings. Coming down is the hardest thing. —Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Learning to Fly   “Are you scared, Jack?” “No way, Dad!” I stood there, looking up the hill at what’s now named Straddleline ORV Park. It’s been closed off and on over the years. Back … [more]

On not giving a fuck

“Your husband fights dirty,” the email announced to Pretty Wife, and she was right. I do. I’m not my dad, casually and frequently ruthless but so cheerful on a daily basis that he personifies his own smarmy, self-assumed nickname, “Smilin’ Jack.” I only smile when I mean it, and I may not be able to … [more]

Scuffs and Patches

Smalldaughter’s tone was polite but imperative. It was the second sentence that moved me into a sprint that made my back quit hurting. I heard her voice echo down the hall. “Jack, I need you. “Ruby got hit by a car.” The girls’ trust is touching. I wasn’t as  calm as they are when I … [more]


Damn, but I hate it when people sneak up on me. NSTIW with my head under the van hood, poking at the battery terminals and trying not to short-spark my ratchet again, when I <heard a scrape / felt a shadow / turned around for no good reason> and there he was, scuffing his way … [more]

Eight Bells on the Last Dog’s Watch

It was a short errand, but I put on my gear, anyway. Might as well pretend I know what I’m doing. We have a motorcycle ride scheduled for Monday, up along some of my favorite King and Snohomish county roads. I laid out the route on Friday morning. It’s a good one. One of my … [more]

The Living Season

My mother, who’s paid her dues in the nursing home – so far, thank G-D, not as a patient – calls January “the dying season.” Mom’s not a cynical woman. She is, in fact, a spectacular woman. She’s also a realist. Many of her post-adult charges held on to life just long enough to spend … [more]

Regarding Tucker

The hole stands at four feet long, three across, three feet deep. It’s not done yet. Today I sawed apart the wind-tipped apple tree, pulled the stump, and got started. Tomorrow, I’ll shovel more dirt out of the hole. I’m well into the clay layer now, and the sides are holding up proudly. As for … [more]

Boxing Day

It’s not much of a present: kind of a lumpy little box, knocked up from plywood with brad-pinned butt joints. Its four stubby legs are sawn sections of thick oaken doweling, and the vaguely shoe-shaped carrying handle doubles as a foot rest for a man receiving a shine. Shoe shine boxes were a classic shop … [more]