December 6, 2016

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here because I’ve been busy – my screenplays and stories are being read by a few people and I’m also finishing up a new play. I’ve also been painting, which is another creative outlet I enjoy. Quite unexpectedly, I sold a couple paintings and have been encouraged to post some of the other available canvasses here. Still working on others. Thanks for taking a look!


12″x 16″ / oil, acrylic, charcoal

Sarah Vaughan1.jpg

12″x 16″ / oil, acrylic

Tomorrow's Landscape1.jpg

16″ x 20″ / oil, acrylic

My Old School1.jpg

14″ x 11″ / oil, acrylic

Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa1.jpg

16″ x 20″ / oil, acrylic


Miranda’s in Japan!

September 6, 2015

Miranda, our 15-year-old, is spending her sophomore year of high school in Tokyo as part of her school’s exchange program. She left for Japan last Saturday, Aug. 29…


And arrived on Sunday, meeting her wonderful host family, the Kusunos. Her host sister is Rinako, host dad Katuhisa and mom Shihoko.

 M's family

Miranda also started a blog about her Japanese adventure. Follow her here:

  Tanoshinde kudasai! (Have fun, please!)

Imitation Hemingway contest… from some years back.

July 2, 2015

Today I woke up to a text from my friend Pat. He sent me a screenshot of a short piece he had found that I had written for submission to an Imitation Hemingway contest. Unfortunately, my story, La Hora Feliz, didn’t win. From what I remember, there had to be a short word count and it had to mention Harry’s Bar, both requirements I fulfilled. So… below was my shot at imitating Papa. You be the judge. Enjoy!


It was early autumn and the day was clear and cool.

The dog tried to decipher the sign above the doorway. But it was confusing like the talk of German soldiers he overheard during reconnaissance as he lay flat on the cold ground still damp with the wetness of the first snow. The door to Harry’s Bar opened and the dog slipped inside. It was dimly lit and the tables were well bussed.

The dog passed many legs, bare ones and those of the colored hose. Trousers of wool, cotton, and the occasional blend.

He raised himself up on a barstool, accidently placing his paw in the soup du jour. The dog apologized with a bark and offered to reimburse the woman, but his apology made no sense to her and his currency had no place in her world. Instead, the woman slapped him on the nose, a language the dog understood from his days in the brutal trenches of the potty training war.

The dog straightened his sunglasses and lit a Camel. He breathed in the familiar, thick smoke and scratched a flea behind his ear.

“Is this la hora feliz?” the dog asked the bartender.

“Yes, dog.”

“Then make me feliz,” said the dog.

“What will you have?”

“Old Yeller.”



“With water or on the rocks?”




The dog loved this hour of the day. People talked fast and there was much gaiety. He glanced down the bar and noticed a Terrier with not such scrawny legs and unmatted hair. The dog sat up, holding a point.

“Sit down, dog,” said the bartender.

The dog knew the Terrier as the bitch called Ashley who walked, unanxiously and with conviction each morning past the tall Oak trees and the smaller Maple ones. He dreamt of her as his paws twitched in the dark night. Ashley came from grooming salons, Iams food, and cleaner whiter teeth in three weeks. The dog was hosed down, slept under the stars, and ate scraps. Once, the dog had had his way with the bitch called Ashley. But they were young and nothing was simple then.

The dog’s tail wagged, his excitement building like the thunder of a thousand charging bulls. He leaned in, trying to read the date of her last rabies shot. Still leaning, the dog fell, snapping at her dangling paw. But the distance between them was too great.

Aperitifs tumbled. Glasses shattered. Loud voices, scurrying feet, fast moving bodies barking the loud and angry human language. The dog was shown the door. Other customers relishing in the goodness of la hora feliz said the dog couldn’t hold his liquor.

Out on the street, the dog searched for an open trashcan. He would hope to eat well and cheaply. He expected to be sad but decided he would not take part in the sadness. In the scuffle, he had lost his sunglasses. The cool air was gone and the bright sun was now hot and dry.

Benvenuti a Italia!

October 29, 2014

“You may have the universe if I may have Italy.” – Giuseppe Verdi

Friendly people, delicious food, great wine, beautiful scenery, perfect coffee… What’s not to love about Italy? This blog post catalogues our trip to visit Liza, our 17-year-old (now 19), who chose to spend her junior year of high school studying in Italy with School Year Abroad (SYA).


We landed in Rome on December 20, climbed into two vans (there were 12 of us) and drove an hour-and-a-half north to Viterbo, the town where Liza lived for the year, and the home of SYA.


The historic city center is surrounded by medieval walls built by Etruscans during the 11th and 12th centuries. The entrance to the walled city center is through ancient gates. Viterbo was the “getaway town” for Popes when they needed a break from Rome.


Cathedral San Lorenzo and Palazzo dei Papi – On the northern side of Piazza San Lorenzo, the 13th-century Palazzo dei Papi was built to entice the papacy away from Rome. Up the stairs the Gothic loggia (colonnade) leads to the Sala del Conclave, the hall where five popes were elected.


San Lorenzo Cathedral in Viterbo – Built originally in a simple Romanesque style, it owes its current Gothic look to a 14th-century makeover. Damage by Allied bombs in World War II meant the roof and nave had to be rebuilt.


The Basilica of Santa Rosa contains the body of Saint Rose who died in 1252. Since then, Viterbo has honored the Saint with a magnificent festival each year on the night of September 3rd. On this night, the Macchina di Santa Rosa (a huge lighted tower that stands more than one hundred feet tall and weighs in at 11,000 pounds) is taken through the medieval streets of the city. The event initiates a series of cultural and other popular events that continue throughout the month of September.

On to Civita IMG_5573

Civita is a charming medieval city with only about 14 year-round residents, so few that it’s nicknamed “the Dying City.” The facade of the town church was remodeled during the Renaissance, but the city is otherwise entirely medieval.


Entering the town through a cut in the rock made by Etruscans 2,500 years ago, and heading under a 12th-century Romanesque arch, you feel history in the huge, smooth cobblestones. This was once the main Etruscan road leading to the Tiber Valley and Rome. Inside the gate, the charms of Civita are subtle. There are no lists of attractions, orientation tours, or museum hours.



Civita is an artist’s dream. Each lane and footpath holds a surprise – and a few stray cats.

Next stop … Assisi

Approximately 90 miles north of Rome, in the rolling hills of Umbria, stands the well-preserved medieval town of Assisi. A religious and tourist center, it’s located on a hill with an expansive view of the plains below. Well known in Roman times and throughout the Middle Ages, it owes its modern fame chiefly to St. Francis of Assisi, who was born there in 1182 and died there in 1226. St. Francis founded the Franciscan religious order in 1208, and St. Clare (Chiara d’Offreducci), the founder of the Poor Sisters.




Mitchell and Phoebe in Assisi


The “living nativity” across from the Papal Basilica of St. Francis


Miranda, Liza, and Hallie in Assisi


The view looking up to Assisi at night.

On our way to Siena we stopped in Montepulciano, a medieval and Renaissance hill town well known for its wine.



Sampling the Vino Nobile was required.



On to Siena…

The Siena Cathedral, begun in the 12th century, is one of the great examples of Italian Romanesque-Gothic architecture. Its main façade was completed in 1380.


Liza in the Siena Cathedral


Inside the cathedral is the famous Gothic octagonal pulpit by Nicola Pisano (1266–1268) supported on lions, and the labyrinth inlaid in the flooring, traversed by penitents on their knees.




The Duomo of the Siena Cathedral

The Palio di Siena is a traditional medieval horse race run around the Piazza del Campo twice each year. Horses and riders represent the seventeen contrade, or city neighborhoods, originally formed as battalions for the city’s defense. The jockeys ride bareback, circling the Piazza del Campo three times, and the race usually lasts no more than 90 seconds. It is common for jockeys to be thrown off their horses while making the treacherous turns in the piazza and, consequently, to see  unmounted horses crossing  the finish line.


Since we weren’t there during the Palio season, I took a break in the Piazza del Campo.

After that… Cooking class in Siena!

IMG_5696 IMG_5699

On the way to Orvieto…



And the annual Umbria Jazz Festival!

           IMG_5767 IMG_5768

 Tivoli Gardens!



And then south to Sorrento!



Our villa in Sorrento


Then to Pompeii…







Phoebe in Naples



And finally… Rome!


Fontana del Pantheon


Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) in the Piazza Navona


Heatherly, Phoebe, Miranda, Liza, Hallie


Phoebe and Liza


Miranda, Phoebe, Liza, Tosca (our guide), Hallie, Abby, Mitchell


Hamming it up in the Pantheon

Here’s a fun international activity… Let’s throw our sisters out the hotel window!




Miranda, Liza, Phoebe, Hallie


Liza had a great year in Italy, and we had an unforgettable trip visiting her.

She’s now a freshman at Vassar College in New York.

Rowing in Spain!

July 20, 2014

This summer, Phoebe was invited to row at the 2014 US Rowing Junior Women’s National Team Camp at Connecticut College. The goal of the camp is to identify athletes with potential early in their rowing careers and put them in an environment where they can learn, grow, and represent the USA in suitably competitive domestic and/or international training and racing opportunities. This will well position them to understand the process behind being selected for and contending for a World Championship.

After about two weeks, she sent us a one word text: SPAIN

Which meant this! —




Lake of Banyoles was the rowing location for the 1992 Olympics, hosted by Barcelona, and the World Rowing Championships in 2004. It’s a popular training location for many foreign rowers, and was also the site for the 1991 Junior World Rowing Championships.




Practice, practice, practice…



Her team… (Phoebe: blond, white Texas Rowing Center shirt) 





June 1, 2014

Last Saturday, Liza and Hallie graduated from St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin. They’ve both been accepted to Vassar in the fall. We’re very proud!

It started Thursday night with Awards Night…



Cum Laude Honor Society
Student Government





Book Prize for Excellence in Astrophysics
Cum Laude Honor Society
Discipline Committee
Chinese Culture Club


Graduation on Saturday…







Hallie and Liza


Phoebe, Hallie, Liza, Miranda







Here’s an excerpt from Hallie’s Senior Address at graduation:

“… St. Stephen’s has taught us more than trigonometry and how to analyze literature. It has taught us how to learn, how to discover, and how to strive. It’s given us a space to make the mistakes necessary to cultivate confidence to face the unknown and passion to improve our minds, bodies, and spirits … We’re aware of everything we’ve accomplished to get us to this point in our lives, and we wouldn’t be here without this school on a Hill … St. Stephen’s has allowed us to earn our wings; now we just have to take off and fly … Congratulations, Class of 2014: it’s been a great seven years; now go face the future!” 


As is the St. Stephen’s senior tradition, they couldn’t wait to light up after the ceremony!



Thanks for reading,




RIP Peter Matthiessen

April 7, 2014

From the Paris Review: “RIP our co-founder and longtime friend Peter Matthiessen. We are honored to have known him and will miss him dearly.”

Read his Art of Fiction interview:
Read his story “A Replacement”:
Listen to Matthiessen on the art of travel writing:

Below is an excerpt from his Art of Fiction interview (Spring 1999) that I enjoyed…


Can you say precisely why you prefer writing fiction?


Nonfiction at its best is like fashioning a cabinet. It can be elegant and very beautiful but it can never be sculpture. Captive to facts—or predetermined forms—it cannot fly. Excepting those masters who transcend their craft—great medieval and Renaissance artisans, for example, or nameless artisans of traditional cultures as far back as the caves who were also spontaneous unselfconscious artists.

As in fiction, the nonfiction writer is telling a story, and when that story is well-made, the placement of details and events is never random. The parts are not strung out in a line but come around full circle, like a necklace, to set off the others. They resonate, rekindle one another, stirring the reader with a cumulative effect. A good essay or article can and should have all the attributes of a good short story, including structure and design, pacing and effective placement of its parts—almost all the attributes of fiction except the creative imagination, which can never be permitted to enliven fact. The writer of nonfiction is stuck with objective reality, or should be; how his facts are arranged and presented is where his craft appears, and it can be dazzling when the writer is a good one. The best nonfiction has many, many virtues, among which simple truthfulness is perhaps foremost, yet its fidelity to the known facts is its fatal constraint.

Like anything that one makes well with one’s own hands, writing good nonfiction prose can be profoundly satisfying. Yet after a day of arranging my research, my set of facts, I feel stale and drained, whereas I am energized by fiction. Deep in a novel, one scarcely knows what may surface next, let alone where it comes from. In abandoning oneself to the free creation of something never beheld on earth, one feels almost delirious with a strange joy.


Pictured left to right: William Styron, Tom Guinzburg, Peter Matthiessen, and George Plimpton.


That’s a wrap: Sun Valley Film Festival celebrates successful third year

March 19, 2014

Screen shot 2014-03-19 at 9.28.03 AM

Here’s a summary of the events in press release form from Carol Waller at CW Communications:


Sun Valley, ID – March 17, 2014 – The 3rd annual Sun Valley Film Festival wrapped up a successful, fun-packed festival over the weekend with a jumping Saturday night awards party hosted by actor Michael Weaver and a rousing set by Nashville rockers Those Darlins entertained the crowd with the winners pogoing and moshing their way into the night. Sunday saw a final Coffee Talk with filmmaker Kevin Smith on hand to delight a packed house at the nexStage Theater, as well present an encore 20th anniversary screening of his landmark film CLERKS.

“We couldn’t be happier with this year’s festival,” said SVFF executive director Teddy Grennan, continuing, “Our pass sales doubled over last year and we had close to 150 filmmakers and other special guests in attendance. The SVFF is really earning a reputation as a special place for film artists to gather and we’ve focused on developing a film festival that is intimate, insightful, and inspiring, and people seem to really appreciate that.”

Producers Jason Berman, Anne Carey, Tom Fore, and Summer Shelton picked up the festival’s top Vision Award for LITTLE ACCIDENTS, which recognizes a producer’s ability to keep a dramatic, feature length film in focus during the journey of the project while the dramatic and documentary One-In-A-Million” awards for feature length films made for under $1,000,000 went to BLUE RUINand ANTARCTICA: A YEAR ON ICE respectively. The festival’s Audience Award went to Mike Myers’ directorial debut, SUPERMENSCH and earlier in the week, Paula Sewell won the High Scribe screenplay competition for her animated script LE CHAT NOIR, after which a scene was performed by actors Joshua Leonard, Alison Pill, Michael Weaver, and Peter Cambor

“I am so pleased with this year’s fest,” said festival programming director Laura Mehlhaff. “The audiences came out in droves and the attending filmmakers all had a spectacular time viewing each others’ works and interacting with all the great industry guests.”

This year saw the launch of a new initiative at the SVFF in partnership with Nat Geo WILD and the African Wildlife Foundation. The 1st Annual WILD to INSPIRE prize was awarded to Dan Duran, Sam Price-Waldman, and Brendan Nahmias for WOLF MOUNTAIN. Director Dan Duran will receive an opportunity to study filmmaking and wildlife in the Maasai Steppe landscape in Tanzania, Africa with Emmy Award winning cinematographer, Bob Poole.

“The camera lens is so often the instrument by which Africa’s incredible wildlife story is told,” says African Wildlife Foundation Maasai Steppe Director John Salehe. “The Maasai Steppe is home to many well-known African species, such as elephants and lions, but the wildlife also faces a variety of threats, from poaching to conflict with humans over space and resources. We are thrilled to sponsor the winner of this year’s contest and look forward to his lens capturing the triumphs and challenges of protecting wildlife not just in Tanzania, but on a rapidly changing African continent.”

Nat Geo WILD and Sun Valley Film Festival also announced they will be doing a second competition. More details to follow in the coming months.

Other jam-packed festival programs drew locals and out-of-town guests, including:

• Coffee Talks, where industry experts offered their insights to festival audiences each morning, featured Academy Award® nominated Producers Ron Yerxa (NEBRASKALITTLE MISS SUNSHINE), and Jim Burke (THE DESCENDANTSELECTION), Writer, actor, director Kevin Smith (CLERKS), and actor Mariel Hemingway (PERSONAL BEST, STAR 80).

• Screenwriters Lab and High Scribe Competition, featuring a rousing and informative talk by 2014 Academy Award nominees Melisa Wallack and Craig Borten (DALLAS BUYERS CLUB) and a live table read of Borten’s new pilot, “Sheriff” with actors including Scott Glenn, Mariel Hemingway, Josh Leonard, Alison Pill, Jennifer LaFleur, Peter Cambor, Jess Weixler, Michael Weaver, George Ayres, Jordan Kamp, Keith Moore and Charlotte Hemmings.

• Informal afternoon “Après Ski Bites” with Q&A sessions with filmmakers and others, including “Sons of Anarchy” creator Kurt Sutter, “Believe” show runner Jonas Pate, producer Jason Berman (LITTLE ACCIDENTS), and producer Heather Rae (I BELIEVE IN UNICORNS).

Other notable items:

• At the Awards ceremony, producer Ron Yerxa (NEBRASKA) praised the festival as being “friendly, festive, and fun,” and told the audience to “spread the word…, but do it carefully” to avoid spoiling this gem of a fest.

• The festival turned downtown Ketchum’s Starbucks into an elegant yet rustic dining hall on Friday night with a catered feast for all filmmakers and special guests, including Coppola wines and elk lasagna.

• Singer/songwriters/actors Haroula Rose and Daniel Ahearn entertained the crowd and Rose had guests crying in their elk lasagna with her rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Kathy’s Song.” Rose also had a short film in the festival (for the second year in a row) and was an associate producer onFRUITVALE STATION. The pair also opened for Those Darlins, the following night.

Jury and Full List of Awards:

Producer Caspar von Winterfeldt, director Fredrik Bond (CHARLIE COUNTRYMAN), actor Peter Cambor (“NCIS Los Angeles”), actor Michael Weaver, actress Pell James Burns (THE LINCOLN LAWYERZODIAC) and director William Olsson (AN AMERICAN AFFAIR).

The SVFF features a diverse list of awards, including two cash prizes designated specifically for Idaho filmmakers and one for student filmmakers under 18 years old. In addition to two audience awards (narrative and documentary), the festival’s juried awards include:

•The Vision Award: Recognizes a producer’s ability to keep a dramatic, feature length film in focus during the journey of the project. Winner: LITTLE ACCIDENTS, Jason Berman, Anne Carey, Tom Fore, and Summer Shelton, producers.

• The “One-In-A-Million” Awards: One narrative and one documentary for feature length films made for under $1,000,000. Winners: Jeremy Saulnier for BLUE RUIN and Anthony Powell forANTARCTICA: A YEAR ON ICE

• The Audience award: Winner: Mike Myers for SUPERMENSCH

• The Gem State Award: Presented by festival sponsor Zions Bank, is a $1,000 juried prize that recognizes an Idaho filmmaker whose work best reflects the beauty and diversity of the Gem State. Winner: Andrew Garcia and Nathan Garcia for THE LIGHTHOUSE

• The Gem State Junior Award: Recognizes the best short film made by an Idaho student aged 18 or younger along with a prize of $250.  Winner: Ethan Holt for THE MIND ABSENT OF SILENCE

• The Hot Shot Award: Presented to the best film helmed by a student filmmaker under 18 years old along with a $500 cash reward, sponsored by the Marshall Frankel Foundation. Winner: Malone Lumarda for BLACK ROCK CREEK

• The Shorty Award: Presented to the best short story film, no matter the genre or aesthetic. Winner: Elliot Thomson for LE REFUGE

• The Focus Award: Celebrates the cinematographer who most brings the film’s vision into focus. Winner: Zack Spiger for RUN

Highland Park Creative Writing Club – Fall 2013

February 13, 2014

Introducing another member of the talented group of creative writers at Highland Park Elementary, Claire Rogelio!
This is the beginning of a longer piece she’s working on titled “Detention.”




Here we go again. Down two flights of stairs and to the right. The door says: “Detention.”

Oh, hi, let me introduce myself. I am Kate. I may look nice and never get in trouble often, but I go to Detention every day. I think it is because…

“Kate, come here now!”

“Coming Mom!”

“Kate, if I have told you once I have told you 100 times: Do not glue your teachers to their chairs!”

“OK, but…”

“No buts. Go to your room.”

As I was saying, I think it is because they hate me, and only me.

Some of the things I have done – on the first day of school I put a fake worm in Mrs. Bums’ apple that I gave her. I also stole her key and locked her in the greenhouse with snakes and spiders. Then I put a whoopie cushion on her chair. The whole class was laughing. That was only what I did on the first day. Oh, I know what I am going to do tomorrow… I am going to put super duper glue on my teacher’s new shoes so she has to walk around barefooted. 


“Kate, come here now!” yells Mrs. Bums.

“Yes, Mrs. Bums?”

“Kate, get my new shoes unstuck now.”

“Mrs. Bums, I’m afraid to tell you but… they’re stuck there for good.”




I have a plan to escape from detention. The plan is that I will unlock the window and jump out and then – Home, Sweet, Home.

“Mrs. Ashe, I think there’s a rat in the vent.”


Now it’s time to go home. Wait, I am going to go out the front of the school since no one is here.

“Kate, you are home early,” said mom.

“Yeah, I know.”

“What did you do to go to detention and how did you escape?” asked mom.

“I did nothing,” I replied.

“Are you sure? Because Mrs. Bums called me and said you glued her new 100 dollar shoes to the floor so you are suspended for two days.”


“Oh, and Kate… no electronics for the rest of the month.”


“No buts. Go up to your room now.”


To be continued…

Leaving a Record

September 10, 2013

Good advice from Charles Baxter

The truth is that, in worldly terms, someone is always doing better than you are. Someone is always winning more of the prizes or making more of the money or getting more famous. When you open the newspaper, someone else’s picture is likely to be splashed across the book page. In the vanity fair, you are always going to lose out to somebody else. And when no one else seems to care what you do, you will have to find your own consolation. You will have to care for yourself. That takes time and energy. In this way, a literary problem converts itself into a spiritual one. Perhaps you will have to invite the demons into the house of the spirit and put them to work. Only in that way will you understand what it means to be human. You must make an arrangement with yourself for the sake of leaving a record of what happened, of what was thought and felt and noticed, what it was like to be human when you were alive. This is incredibly hard to do. It requires a slight contempt for the dumbshows of the world and a great respect for the inner life. You may become a bohemian, someone who looks like a bum. You may end up selling dogs with fake pedigrees to the suckers. But if you appear faithfully at your desk, pledging yourself to the work, eventually the spirit will descend on you and you will write without any sense that time is passing, and when that happens, no one on earth is doing better than you are.