History, reborn

It comes from the least likely places.  A word here. A sentence there. A name. A concept. A trivial fact around a bigger event.  I never know when it will hit, why it hits, or how deeply it will hit.  But when I get that skip in my heartbeat, that catch in my breath, I know.  

Right now that heightened interest is focused around a little piece of history in an area very dear to my heart.  The White Mountains in beautiful New Hampshire.  I love the mountains. Perhaps it’s because I feel the very essence of my grandfather, Jack, is wandering the trails and I’m connected to him there.  He’s my constant hiking companion.  I love everything about the mountains, actually. The smell of the air, the feel of the ground beneath my hiking boots, the incredible, overwhelming view from the peaks.  When I first see a glimpse of Franconia Notch on 93 North, or the peak of Chocorua when returning from Maine via Ossipee, my heart rejoices.  I smile.  I’m home.  So when I wanted to merge my passions (writing, hiking, history), I naturally turned my attention in that direction.  

The first thing I stumbled on was the abandoned mill community of Livermore in the heart of the White Mountains.  It’s nothing but foundations reclaimed by the land now, but the echo of history remains, reverberating through time.  It was as simple as that.  A town, long since forgotten.  And so the research began.  Old, out of print books have been found and acquired. Livermore is a tiny part of a much larger topic and I’m captivated with a logging history I never knew existed. I’ve hiked these trails, never giving thought to the ravages to the land that took place over a hundred years ago. I see pictures and it changes my entire outlook on my beloved mountains.  How resilient they are!  

As I read, possibilities fly through my mind.  Names, areas, tiny events flash, catch my imagination and I start to form the story before I even flip the page.  I have the outline. I have the concept, the focus, the passion without getting past chapter 2.  I know where it’s going…I can barely keep reading because I want to start immediately, want to bring the pages to life NOW.  But I don’t.  I make notes and I keep reading, because it will continue throughout the book.  It will reshape, become more defined and ignite my imagination so fiercely that I’ll be consumed.  I learned a long time ago, with many other overwhelming concepts, that if I stop now and don’t keep researching, I’ll miss so much.  The passion will change, it will twist and grow until it’s mature enough to remain.  It will stick.

As a writer, I love nothing more than picking out small pieces of history and creating a world around them.  With the smallest name and circumstance, I’ve written entire novels.  It starts with nothing more than a name.  A paragraph in a text book.  A long-forgotten piece of seemingly irrelevant history no one recalls.  It was put down as an afterthought.  But something grabs my attention and no matter what else I read about, it remains.  The spark takes light and until I write about it, it will not die.  And so it goes.  A new name has caught my interest.  A new tidbit. A new world is about to be born…or reborn, I should say.  

Reading is Fundamental…but it doesn’t always cut it.

I’ve noticed lately that something is missing.  It’s something powerful, creating urges I can’t quite quell. My heart and mind are searching, reaching out and testing the waters in areas I shouldn’t be.  I have been delving in the darkness. I couldn’t put my finger on what’s wrong or why, all of a sudden, this surge of uneasiness has bubbled up in my life. All I knew was something was missing.  Something calling my attention away from my day to day routine, begging for excitement. Today, alone in the early hours of the morning, I realized what it was.

If you know me at all, you know I’m a research hound. Even my license plate reads “LIV2LRN”.  I was born to keep my imagination stoked and my mind reeling in excitement.  I need to tackle a topic and delve in hard and fierce, learn everything I can, create a world and all its characters and spew it onto paper.  I cannot keep my wild, vivid imagination locked away, inactive, in my mind for very long.  It leads not only to anxious, worrisome obsessions, it leads to dissatisfaction.  It leads to trouble.

What I need is to write. So, with the new “50 Shades of Grey” phenomena making waves all over the place, I decided to dig out my character notebooks and I plucked Lynette from my vault of lives.  Lynette is just the one I need right now; a strong, vibrant woman going against the rules of Victorian London. Lynette is a whore.

Okay, so it probably doesn’t sound like the best voice to pull out of storage at this point in time, but Lynette is exactly what I need. With the success of Shades, it’s obvious it might just be what a lot of women need.  And not just the unf*^%able ones.  Experts say the success of the racy books – dubbed ‘mummy porn’ – has been driven by  ”frustrated middle-aged mothers.”  Of course, those experts are at the dailymail.co.uk.  More experts took a survey of 400 women – all aged between 25 and 50 -and found  43% of women would rather read about sex than perform it. Really? You’re doing it wrong.

“One respondent, who didn’t want to be named, said: ‘I’d much rather read about it then do it. It’s always exciting in a book and, unlike in real life, the hero never rolls off when he’s finished and starts snoring without so much as a cuddle.'”

What’s even MORE disturbing to me is this is article: “ ‘Mummy porn’ Fifty Shades Of Grey outstrips Harry Potter to become fastest selling paperback of all time.”  The article went on to say, “Last week alone, the first installment sold more than 100,000 paperback copies – a feat most of the Harry Potter books and all of the Twilight novels failed to achieve.”   Okay, I can see the Twilight saga, after all, that’s not much more than vampire porn, but I’ve read ALL the Harry Potter books at least three times.  I couldn’t get past the first five pages of Shades.  The writing doesn’t even compare.  JK Rowling is the queen of writing.  EL James is the slow child in the back of the room.  Okay, I know that sounds harsh, but really?  Are there THAT many “middle-aged mothers” out there that don’t know good writing when they find it? Paleeese!  I could write a better book with my eyes closed. Um, I mean, in my sleep. I mean, with one hand tied…oh, never mind. You get the idea.

Let’s get back on track.  Let’s get back to me.  Actually, let’s get back to Lynette.  Perhaps I should toss aside the historical novel Lynette took a backseat in and put her right out there in the spot light.  Give those frustrated middle-aged mothers something to read that isn’t filled with, to quote Shades, crap.  I suppose that’s what got me thinking about ole’ Lynette, that strong-willed prostitute.  She’s not stupid.  As a matter of fact, she achieved something these “mummy porn” readers haven’t.  She’s come to the understanding that sex isn’t something that can be confined to paper.  She knows she’s sexy and uses it to her advantage.  And why not?  While many Victorian prostitutes were not in the profession on their own accord, many others took control of their own fate. In a world where women worked 12-14 hours a day then came home to filthy, overcrowded, disease ridden basements, prostitutes often chose the profession as an easier alternative.  If they worked for a house, they received better health care, ate well, and wore nice clothes.  Who wouldn’t rather have a bed with sheets, receive gifts and…well, let’s face it, have sex all day long.  Unless, of course, you’d rather be reading about it.

Foul Water

Ah, I’ve finally started diving into writing again!  This is the first piece of FOUL WATER, the first book in what I hope is a series.  It’s set in 1878 around DS Will Harper and the Princess Alice disaster on the Thames.  Bodies in a shed? What fun…

Will Harper rounded the corner, his heart pounding in his chest. Rain dripped down the brim of his helmet, but wiping his face with the sleeve of his jacket did little good. His uniform was soaked but he was used to it.  The wool was supposed to keep him dry—it never did.

The section of Lower Shadwell running along the basin was tricky on nights like this; people were known to drown by slipping and falling into the water. No one would hear you out here; no one would care. The mud made it hard to keep your footing and he watched the boy slip then regain his balance.  For once he was glad his boots were heavy.

He kept running.  He’d been chasing the boy since the High Street and he was getting tired.  But judging from the closing gap between them, the lad was slowing too. His shadow appeared and reappeared under the yellow mist cast by the oil lamps lining the street.  If they went much further the boy was apt to veer off into one of the dark, narrow alleys.  It would be near impossible to find him in there.  A second later, as if reading his thoughts, the boy disappeared.  The boy must be new at this, Will thought. He turned right and thrust himself forward, pushing his body to full capacity.  Almost—almost—Will reached out and grabbed a handful of cloth and yanked the boy to the ground, falling hard on top of him. “Gotcha!” he managed, a smile breaking out over his sweat-soaked face.  “Stupid shit! It’s a dead end.”

Shadwell Police Station was busy despite it being so early and the warmth of the fire hit his face the moment he walked in.  Stevens, the night clerk, was desperately trying to finish up the arrest of a drunken woman while Sergeant Wilkenson, a large brick of a man, restrained her.  Constable Davis was escorting another woman into the cells and screaming ensued between the women.  Will grinned.  If his mother heard some of the language spoken beneath this roof she’d faint dead away. The smell of sweat and gin mingling with the slight odor of mildew coming from the stone walls were all familiar to him. 

“Don’t move. I’ll be back for you in a minute.” Will tossed the boy down in a chair and peeled off his soaked great coat. Hanging it by the fire with others while water dripping steadily onto the wooden floor, he walked slowly back and sat down behind his small desk.

“I ain’t done nuthin!” the boy finally exclaimed loudly.

“Really now?” Will heard it time and again but it never ceased to amaze him.  Caught red handed and still claiming innocence. “So, tell me—why’d you run so far then when I told you to stop?”

“I didn’t know who was chasin’ me.”

“Oh, so when I yelled, Stop! Police! You thought I was what? The baker?”

“I didn’t hear ya.”

“Course you didn’t.” Will sat down and threw his helmet on the floor. “Maybe you should clean the dirt outcha ears once in a while then.”

“Sod off.” The boy mumbled beneath his breath.

“Ain’t that nice language Duncan O’Grady.  I bet if your mum comes down to get you out you’ll be all a wailin’ and sorry.”

“You callin’ for me mum?” his face went pale and Will suddenly felt sorry for the boy.  He couldn’t be more than fourteen, his thin frame common with the poor. 

“Whatcha think we were going to do Duncan?  Just slap your wrist and tell you not to take what ain’t yours?”

“I dunno.” He stared down at his boots for a moment then back up at Will a frightened look in his pale blue eyes. “I swear, I didn’t mean to steal nuthin.  It was just hangin’ there—has been for days now.  All dirty like from the smoke and shit.”

“Watch your mouth.” Will warned calmly.

“Well it was!  I been watching it.  They musta moved out or somethink cause it ain’t been brought in for near a week now.”

“Now, where would the Murphy’s go?”

“How do I know? But what was I suppose to do? Let someone else take it?” Survival instinct.  He couldn’t blame the kid.

“Oh, so you were doing the right thing by stealing the linen? That it?”

“Sure.  I’d a made sure it was safe is all!” Will watched the boy’s face as the thought seemed to sweep over him suddenly.

“You were just savin’ it from thieves then?” Will put his pencil down and raised his eyebrows.

“Yeah, keepin’ it safe.  I knows these boys Officer ‘arper.  I knows them real good.  Linen like that—it’d be sold up for at least six shillings!”

“Well, that’s mighty good of you Duncan.  Thinking of the Murphy’s like that.”

“Sure.  Gots to protect our own don’t we?” The boy was excited now, his face a combination of pleading and righteousness.  Will couldn’t help but grin.

“Oh yes, we sure do.  I think, seems you didn’t really take the linen, just protecting it, well, maybe I should rethink this whole arrest thing.”

“Really?” his eyes widened and relief swept over his face.

“I dunno though.  What if I let you go and you get in trouble again? You’ll make me look bad for letting you go right now.  And I can’t have my superintendent thinking I let a criminal back on the streets.  Even though I know you’re a good kid, others might not see it that way.”

“I ain’t sir! I promise.”

“You going to ‘protect’ anyone else’s linen, Duncan?’

“No I bloody hell—“


“Oh, sorry. I don’t care if its on fire I won’t touch it!”

“Maybe next time you can let me do the protecting. It’s my job.”

“Yes sir!” the boy’s face beamed for a moment before he looked gray again. “You gonna still tell me mum?”

“Well,” Will sighed, clasping his hands in front of him on the desk and leaning towards Duncan, “that depends on you don’t it then.  You keep your nose clean and I’ll keep my mouth shut.”

“Thank you sir!”

“But!” Will frowned seriously, hoping to frighten the boy a bit, “If you get in trouble one more time Duncan, I’ll have no choice.  Arrest and I tell your mum.”

Will watched the boy almost run from the station and back out into the drizzle of another London morning.  The Shadwell station was close enough to the river that water seemed to bleed in through every crevice.  It came in the shape of rain, fog and a faint mist that seemed to steal in silently and settle over everything.  He picked up the pile of linen he’d taken off Duncan.  It was sodden from the rain and caked with drying mud.  Still, Will could see the boy had been right; they were gray from smoke.  He suddenly remembered seeing them on the line a few nights ago and thinking the Murphy’s were lucky they’d lasted that long out in the yard.  It was strange too, because he was quite sure the family didn’t have a spare.

 “Willie ole’ boy!” Wilkerson slapped Will on the back sending the Murphy’s out of his mind. “Christ man, come by the fire and get dry.”  Wilkerson stood almost a full head above him despite Will being 6’1 without shoes or stockings. Men had to be at least 5’8 to be accepted on the force but everyone felt small around Wilkerson. “Crazy bitch night out there.  Brought in three whores all fighting over one corner.  Think on a night like this they’d give in and get drunk like the rest of ‘em.” Wilkerson shook his head and tossed more coal in the stove.

“They do it on purpose, don’t you know that by now?”

“I bloody think they do!” Wilkerson took a seat on the other side of the stove and they both ignored the mayhem around them.  More officers wandered in through the door, a long shift finally over.  Others braced themselves for the vile weather; heads down they begrudgingly left the warmth and comfort of the station.

“Shitty night out there.” Davis joined them, wiping mud and blood from his pants the best he could.  There was a reason their uniforms were dark. “I think I caught the death of me out there.”  Davis was three years younger than Will and had only been on the force for less than a year.  Will liked the man but he wondered if he’d make it.  The tough conditions and meager pay guaranteed a high turnover rate. Some were cut out for it, others weren’t.  Davis wasn’t.

“Looks like a bad time of it in here too.” Will offered, looking around.

“Nothin’ new. Bet you won’t miss this place when you’re gone!  Up to Bow Street with the big boys.” Davis sighed with envy.

“You’re not rid of me that easy! It hasn’t come through yet.  Who knows, it might not.” Will shrugged dismissively but he prayed every night his transfer to the plain clothes division, now called Criminal Investigation Division, or CID as it had already been shortened to, would happen. Even after the scandal from the previous year he wanted nothing more than to be part of the division.  To solve crimes, not just lock up drunks and prostitutes.  Real police work!  Not laundry hanging on a line. And it would be nice to shed this heavy uniform and wear real clothes again.  Since joining the force three years ago he’d worn nothing but his uniform. It was the job.  On or off duty he slipped it on every morning, the duty band the only thing changing.  How he longed for a suit again.  He’d been putting money aside each pay period ready for the call.  He had enough for a nice suit, maybe two if he found the right tailor.  And a nice pair of shoes! No more of these heavy, uncomfortable boots.  The thought seemed to make his uniform more uncomfortable, his boots more cumbersome. Will took off his boots and stockings; they were soaked too and he hung them to dry. 

“Well, they’d be daft not to grab you.  Besides, you know the Inspector would put a good word in for you.” Wilkerson added lazily.  Will knew he didn’t want him to go but certainly wouldn’t hold it against him.

“I’m sure he has.  I don’t know if it’ll be enough.”

“I’m rooting for you.”   Davis grinned and put his helmet back on.  “Well, gotta get home before the missus gets outta bed! If ya know what I mean.”

“Sure.” Will smiled and gave him a mock salute.

“Horny bastard.” Wilkerson grumbled as he watched Davis leave.  He hadn’t like Davis from the moment he’d joined and was quite vocal about it.  To Will anyway.  He was polite enough when the constable was around. “Seen his wife? Ugly as they come.”

“Aw, she ain’t so bad.  Least he’s happy.” It had been a long time since Will had any desire to rush home.  A long time since he had a reason.  Kate had obviously decided sex with her husband was too much work.  And heaven knows she avoided that as much as possible. “We can’t all have exotic women tucked away.” Will added with a grin. Wilkerson’s mistress was a beautiful thing with long black hair and dark eyes.  He refused to marry but she didn’t seem to mind. Rumour had it she had been a procurer of girls for a local brothel when Wilkerson met her.  

The men sat and talked for over an hour before Will put his now dry socks back on and slipped them into wet boots.  It would take days for them to dry out. Luckily he’d gotten his father’s boots when he’d retired, so he had a spare.  Most officers would have to walk in damp boots for days.  ‘I’m going home.  I suggest you do the same.’

‘Nah, why do that?  The city’s just wakin’ up!  I think I’ll go for a drink.’ Wilkerson smiled broadly.  The man never stopped, and he never seemed tired.  He would be off to one of the pubs that opened for the morning work crowd; coffee and rum before a long hard day.  Then home to his mistress’s flat. 

‘Well, go easy.’ Will yawned again, stretching leisurely before grabbing his jacket and slipping it on.

‘I’d tell you to as well but you’ve only an alley to pass through before you’re warm in bed.’

‘Believe me, it’s much warmer out there.’ Will pulled up his collar and they walked out into the rain.

The Hutsman

“Day 48

We watched the sunrise from our beds–indescribable as the light slowly filled the canyon from east to west.  As we started to move, what was probably a snake crawled off us, attracted by the heat of our bodies.  Needless to say we didn’t check to find out.  After a short time we looked and whatever it was had left us.  We ate our breakfast of pancakes, which nearly took all of our water.  Four miles to the summit!”

This is a journal entry by Jack Orrok, my grandfather, in 1925 as he traveled across America on foot.  He took a ride if available; he wasn’t stupid!  He is the inspiration for a lot of the things I do in my life, especially hiking and loving the outdoors.  He is the reason this blog is called “Shoulders of Giants” because without his shoulders to climb on, I’d never be who I am today.  Never forget your ancestors!

Living in the Past

So, they say if you live in the past, it limits your future.  Well, the little tab on my Yogi Tea said that anyway.  Of course, it depends on WHOSE past you’re living in!  I dwell far in the past but I find it only enhances my life in so many ways.  On days my hair doesn’t come out quite as hoped, I throw it back in a ponytail, shrug, and feel lucky I don’t have heat up irons on the fire for that added curl or have to shave it off due to lice!  There is always a bright side right?

Despite how we all believe our world is going to crap, we still have it damned good compared to our ancestors.  Don’t believe me?  Read “How the Other Half Lived” sometime.  It’s complete with pictures.  Three or four families snuggled up in a one room flat…barely enough food to get buy. Organic?  FRESH of any sort would have been nice! 

But we HAVE come a long way and we have longer lives because of it.  Make sure you appreciate that fact–get out, enjoy your life each and every day.  Don’t be too busy or too proud to let the people you love know it.  Friends are precious and few.  Keep them close!

….Even if they’re from the past!

My Muse


So oft have I invoked thee for my muse,
And found such fair assistance in my verse,
As every alien pen hath got my use,
And under thee their poesy disperse.
Thine eyes, that taught the dumb on high to sing,
And heavy ignorance aloft to fly,
Have added feathers to the learned’s wing,
And given grace a double majesty.
Yet be most proud of that which I compile,
Whose influence is thine, and born of thee,
In others’ works thou dost but mend the style,
And arts with thy sweet graces graced be.
But thou art all my art, and dost advance
As high as learning, my rude ignorance.


Ah, Shakespeare! 

He nailed it on the head; everyone has a muse.  That person that invokes feelings that must be put onto paper or burst within your soul.  They give the ‘mighty pen’ its power!  Those feelings and desires pushing across the page forever captured in ink—out of the heart for a moment giving peace until it returns, relentlessly.

The feelings invoked can be good, can be angry or can be righteous.  Or perhaps they’re nothing more than memories sparked by a word, a gesture, a scent.   Memories of times so far gone that they have become soft and gentle with distance, but at the time were hard and sharp.

Those eyes, that smile, that laugh—all perfect now.  And you desire nothing more.  Time heals all wounds but does not always dampen all feelings.   Not when a mere mention can send the flame coursing through your veins again…reminding you of what once was—and what shall never be.

This, my muse, is why I write.

New First Chapter of Shards

After some great feedback I’ve moved Chapter 5 to Chapter 1 …


She could see it from where she stood.  St. Paul’s dome shone brightly in the moonlight and it seemed to reach out to her in order to save her soul.  But she didn’t want redemption; she wanted relief from the constant struggle and pain and the only thing that offered that was the deep, murky water below.  She turned away from the cathedral’s stare looking instead into George’s sleeping face.  It was thinner than it had been even yesterday, she was certain.  Dark circles were evident under his tiny brown eyes and she was thankful they were closed instead of looking at her, lovingly as they always did.  How did it all come to this in such a short time?  Less than a year ago her life had seemed so happy, so full of opportunity and hope. A loving husband, two healthy sons and a comfortable home. But all that had somehow slipped away and now she was losing the only one left, her precious baby boy. She walked closer to the edge of Blackfriar’s bridge arching high over the dark silver water of the Thames. 

Lights reflected off the water, bouncing around in the waves like diamonds.  Mary thought of her mother’s diamond ring and how she loved to watch the sun reflect off it when she tossed her hands carelessly through the air while she talked. Her mother always used her hands when she talked, it was her flamboyant way.  Sitting and watching, Mary had dreamt of being like her mother one day.  Beautiful, graceful and so full of life.  But that life was taken, ripped from her mother in a train accident only days before her daughter’s eighteenth birthday.  Her father followed close behind, his heart unable to bear the loneliness without her.  And now, Mary’s own husband dead and buried, her oldest son, Charles, following him to the grave only a few days ago.  How much pain could she be expected to endure?

Remaining strong for her boys, she had faced the heartache of losing Daniel as best she could. Losing the house and all her possessions due to the lack of income would have broken her had it not been for her boys.  Poverty, no matter how disgraceful, left no time for self-pity. Keeping her children fed had been her main focus in life for months now, even giving them as much of her own rations as she could and ignoring the rumbles and aches of hunger. But it had all been for nothing.  Charles’ beautiful green eyes, so much like his father’s, had grown empty as tramp fever carried him away.  And now George, her little baby, was showing the same symptoms, his eyes holding the same echo of death she had seen so much of these past few years.  She couldn’t watch him suffer.  Poor babies, they never asked to be cast out into the cold, damp streets of London. 

The Thames spread wide below her, winding its way silkily through the landscape as it cut London in two.  Until this year she had never even been south of the river.  Her father said only criminals and prostitutes lived there, creating a vision of a dark and frightening place. She expected a shadow to hover over it or some other evil sign to resonate from the land but the sun shone down as brightly there as everywhere else in London; if it shone at all.

Blackfriars Bridge seemed the only option; it was quick and painless and she thought of no other way out.  There would be no more worries, no more fretting about where they would get money for food or shelter for the night.  Little George would cry no more with hunger or pain or shiver from the cold. She wouldn’t have to watch him suffer from the same ruthless disease that had ravaged through Charles before taking his life. Turning to her left, she focused on her favorite spot in all the world. Its dome glistened in fading moonlight and she thought of all the times as a child her family had gone to services in the sacred place.  She had lit candles for her grandfather when she was only five; then more recently for her parents, husband and child each in their turn. It felt as if she had walked through its large oak doors too often for one lifetime.   Stepping closer to the edge she thought of all those she had lost, and poor George so close to leaving her too. A tear slipped down her cheek unable to face lighting yet one more candle.  She wasn’t strong enough to face it.  Soon they would all be together again, buried in the same small churchyard in a little corner of London. She had already accepted the fact that she would never see them all in Heaven because of the sin of suicide but it was a price she was willing to pay.  Only God could forgive her and only death end her suffering. 

With her eyes on the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Mary whispered into the London night sky, ‘May God have mercy on my soul.’

Newest project

FOUL WATER is my newest venture!  It’s a novel surrounding the sinking of the Princess Alice paddle boat in 1878.  With over 800 passengers out for a leisurely adventure to the seaside via the Thames, it was struck by a very large steamship, Bywell Castle. Over 650 people died that night in the foul water of the Thames. 

It’s a heartrending  tale that must be told.  After all, have YOU ever heard of it?

First Page of Shards…

Here is the first page of SHARDS.  Enjoy

Walking through the nave of the cathedral, he plucked a rag from the back pocket of his paint-stained trousers and rubbed the excess red clay from his hands.  It remained caked under the nails of his long fingers; it always did. Even when he took the time to scrape the substance free, the dye lingered behind.  It was testament to his trade, proof of his overwhelming talent and dedication to his art.  Secretly he hoped it remained for all of eternity; that if they exhumed his body in a thousand years time archeologists would be able to identify his corpse instantly as William Blake Richmond, the artist who created the most inspiring mosaics in all the world.  ‘Beautiful boys, simply beautiful! Your bosses have truly outdone themselves with this batch they have.  Gorgeous colours. But be careful!  One slip of the fingers and you’ll be picking up glass for months. Heaven knows we haven’t finished finding slivers from the last time.’ He smiled, a twinkle playing in his blue eyes.

‘Of course sir.’ The young workmen gingerly carried sheets of coloured glass up the stairs to the workshop high above the aisle in the garret story. They knew their boss’s rebukes were more reminders than anything else. While his face often held what could be considered a troubled expression, his eyes were those of a kind and gentle philosopher; always wondering, always questioning and studying everything around him in silent consideration.   What was first taken for sternness would soon be understood as contemplation.  He was always contemplating something. However, they also knew that he was thorough and expected the same from them.   

Sitting down on the rigidness of the pew he felt the welcome relief on his back and shoulders after hunching over cartoon drawings all day.  From where he sat he could take in the work that had been completed and more importantly, consider all that was yet to be done.  They had accomplished a lot in the past thirteen months, but there was still so much to finish.  St. Paul’s Cathedral was a massive undertaking but he was just the man for the job.  He rarely left the Cathedral before darkness made work impossible and tiredness swept over him like a wave.  Sundays were his only respite and he spent them at his home in the outskirts of London with his wife, Clara Jane, either in the garden he enjoyed so much or in the studio wrapping up correspondence that had built up during the week.

I Sail

This is a short piece I did several years ago.  It was published in the Granite State collection of works in 2004 and I always liked it.  I hope you do to!

I Sail

Surfing the seas of youth I was always curious.  Happy to frolic in the green grass that surrounded my life, I found adventure around every pine tree, loved the simple beauty of the clouds and the fresh, clean smell of drying hay.  I wandered down the roads of childhood singing songs such as “Leaving on a Jet Plane” and “Country Roads”.  Oak trees loomed mysteriously into the tranquil blue skies and I wondered how birds knew how to fly.

            Soon, however, the seas became rough and the days dark.  Clouds were now gray and the rumble of thunder filled my ears where once birds sang.  I forgot to smell the hay or to taste the fresh air in my lungs.  I longed to be somewhere else, no matter where I was.  I trusted no one but needed everyone.  I was always looking, always trying to fill the void that had ripped away pieces of my soul.  But no matter how much I searched, I roughed the quells alone, frightened and sad. 

Bashing against rocks and cliffs, barely avoiding whirlpools that longed to suck me in and destroy me, I finally reached out and found my way to shore.  As I stepped on dry land I kissed the dusty road and marched on, my head held high, my spirit soaring above me like the birds of my youth.  Now I knew how they learned to fly. 

With strong wings I turned back to the open vastness of the blue waters in front of me.  There was so much still waiting, calling me forward.  My soul opened up and I embraced the calming ebb of life as it enveloped me once again.

My journey has been rough but the adventure is only just beginning. This time the ride is smooth, my sails full of easterly winds.  I’ve reached new lands and met new peoples and as I set my sights on the horizon, I welcome the unknown islands and the strange cultures I’ll find.   Surrounded by a trusted crew and captain of my own destiny, I sail.