Tattoo Stories, Episode 4

Tattoo of wild roses on inner arm
Roses Love Sunshine

Once upon a time, there was a girl who wanted to grow up and get married and have babies. So she waited until she was old enough and found a really cool guy who she loved a lot, and when they were ready, the girl-who-was-now-a-woman got pregnant.

While she was pregnant, she heard a snippet of song* on the radio that she absolutely fell in love with. So she learned that snippet of song and tucked it away in her memory to sing for her soon to be born child.

When the child was born she was perfect in every way. (And she still is. That never changes.) She was also plagued with colic. 

So the woman-who-was-now-a-mom, wrapped her screaming daughter in a blanket, snuggled her close, and walked back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. 

And bounced up and down, up and down, up and down. 

And jiggled side to side, side to side, side to side. 

And rocked forward and backward, forward and backward, forward and backward.

And the whole time she sang, over and over, the snippet of song.

At times the mom-who-really-missed-sleeping pondered the old saying that you should be careful what you wish for. But when she gazed down into the star sprinkled universe in her daughter’s eyes, the mom-who-couldn’t-imagine-a-life-without-this-child-in-it realized that the old sayings got it wrong sometimes.

Several years later, the mom and the dad decided they wanted another child and in 9 months, when he was born, their son was perfect in every way. (And he still is. That never changes.) Also, wonder of wonders, he didn’t have colic!

But even though he didn’t need to be walked and bounced and jiggled and rocked, the woman-who-now-had-two-children gazed down into the star sprinkled universe in his eyes and wrapped him in a blanket, snuggled him close, and sang, over and over, the snippet of song.

When her children grew up, the woman still whistled the tune while she worked, but she didn’t sing the snippet of song anymore.

And then her daughter had a daughter herself.

The mom-who-was-now-a-grandma, gazed down into the star sprinkled universe in her granddaughter’s eyes, wrapped her in a blanket, snuggled her close, and started singing again.

Over and over, the same snippet of song.

And when her dying father asked for someone to sing him a bedtime song, the grandma-who-was-still-his-little-girl, tears falling from her eyes like stars dropping from the universe, wrapped her arms around him, snuggled him close, and sang the snippet of song over and over.

So now, the girl-woman-mom-grandma-who-now-has-two-grandchildren is going to start wrapping her arms around any of her loved ones who will put up with it, snuggle them close, and sing the snippet of song.

Over and over.

Because she’s learned it really isn’t about being careful what you wish for.

It’s about loving every glorious, frustrating, beautiful, complicated, perfect gift reality has given you.

Tattoo of violets on wrists
Violets Love Dew

*This love song to my family comes from an old folk song, Down In the Valley, that I heard sung by The Judd’s on Oregon Public Radio in the early 80’s.

Tattoo Stories, Episode 3

Tattered Web

Once upon a time, there was a woman who had had it up to here with questionnaires that asked what race she identified with. 

“The HUMAN race, for dog’s sake, just like every other person on this planet.”

She became so frustrated by this, that she wrote a story.

About how there used to be a web of human families with many genetic lines.

But the web tattered.



Until only one genetic strand was left.

Which can be traced waaaaaaay back to one woman.

Our greatest, great, great grandma.

Which makes us all cousins.

(Like, really. Cousins. Distant cousins, granted, but still. Because that’s what happens when you almost go EXTINCT.)

And then we managed to come back and THRIVE.

Because we learned how to work TOGETHER.

So what the h*ll is wrong with us now?

That we need to label our cousins with what “race” they are?

People from our own family?


Tattoo Stories, Episode 2

Pacific Chorus frog tattoo

Once upon a time there was a grown up woman who had missed out on playing with tadpoles when she was young. But she loved to sit by the pond in the pasture and dream of possibilities, and one day, she noticed clusters of frog eggs bobbing among the weeds.

Well, that explains why the frogs were so noisy last night,” she thought.

That night, the rain poured and poured, and the next day, when she went to sit by the pond, she noticed that many of the frog egg clusters had been washed out of the pond when it over-flowed it’s banks. 

Looking down at the eggs laying in the grass, she thought, “Well, that’s not going to work.”

So she scooped them up as best she could and carried them home where she put them in a bucket and sat it by the back door. And before she knew it, she had tadpoles.

As she sat next to her bucket pond by the back door, she thought about what it must be like to leave your cozy little egg and go out into a great, big wet world. 

“Well, that must be scary.”

After awhile, she noticed that her tadpoles couldn’t dart around very well. Their new legs were getting in the way. 

“Well, that would be pretty scary if you needed to get away from a predator,” she thought. 

Soon, she noticed tiny little froglets sitting on the leaves of the plants that grew in her bucket pond. Four legs and a tiny, tiny tail. 

And she wondered what it must be like to leave your lovely wet world and set off into a gigantic hot, dry world.

“Okay, that has to be terrifying.”

She decided she needed to know more about her little froglets, and their chances of survival, so she googled them. 

“Good grief! In one day they go from water breathers to air breathers who will drown if they can’t get out of the water AND their whole digestive system switches from vegetarian to meat eater!”

About then is when she decided that frogs were about the bravest, most badass little amphibians out there.

But it wasn’t until she realized that they had to go through all those changes to find their voices that she fell head over heels in love with them.

Tattoo Stories, Episode 1

Once upon a time there was a girl who loved her daddy very, very much. When he died she missed him with her whole soul. 

One day, as she sat under the trees, she noticed a vulture floating through the clouds. 

“Ugly bird,” she muttered to herself.

And then another vulture rose up and joined the first one. 

When they met, they tipped their wings and dove and swooped and circled and glided. 

And the girl thought, “Well, they don’t think they’re ugly.”

And then she thought some more.

About the job the vultures do. 

About how the world would be knee deep in dead things if they weren’t around.

About how life cannot exist without death.

“To take death and rise up to the heavens,” she whispered. “Well, that’s pretty cool.”

And that thought made her feel a little better.

So now, when she sees a vulture dance across the heavens, a she no longer mutters, “Ugly bird.”

Instead, she marvels at his beauty, and whispers, “Hi, Daddy.”

Turkey Vulture tattoo


Every March for the past five years I’ve pored over, proof-read, and polished my then-favorite manuscript and entered it in the SCBWI work-in-progress contest. And then I’ve gone on to the next project and the next and the next until March rolls around again and I send in that year’s favorite.

So yesterday, when I received an email with “SCBWI WIP Winner!” in the subject line, my first thought was, “Oh, how nice. They’re sending me a list of the winners.” And I was right, they were.


I got the shakes. I cried. I’m still a little flummoxed. But I’m also very, very happy.

Of course, I’m hoping this leads to more, but even if it doesn’t, it was just the thing I needed. At just the time I needed it.

Now. It’s time to go work on the next project.

Love, Chris

Happy New Year!

Two years ago, Mike and I tried to get to the top of Snow Peak and failed miserably. Today we made it.

Just as we turned onto the logging road going up to the old fire lookout we came across this beauty. It flew along the road, just ahead of the Jeep, before finally taking off into the tree tops. It was a lovely welcome.


We hit snow part way up.


And more snow.


Just enough to let us know we weren’t alone.



And just the right amount to make for a lovely hike.

And a slippery final scramble to the top.


Where Cola showed us up.

But the view was worth it.

And the company was grand.


We did a little math and decided we’ve been coming up here for 40 years. Here’s to another 40.

Love, peace, and a long and happy life!



Epic Road Trip, 2018

Harvest is over, so we decided to hit the road.

First stop: Seven Feathers Casino to shake the claw of the Eagle. Forty bucks won’t get us far, but it was a fun way to start.


Then we headed to Mike’s favorite place:


To do his favorite thing:


After the big trees, the rest of the tip was all about rocks. Steaming, bubbling rocks:


Fenced in campground of rocks:


Endless “Loneliest Road” of rocks:

A Great Basin of rocks:


A Grand Canyon of rocks:

Some more road travel with nothing to see but rocks:


A river that runs through rocks:

A road that runs through rocks:


To a campground filled with amazing rocks:

And sandy roads bordered by rocks:20181011_163212

And a couple of crazy old people with rocks in their heads:

And amazing desert plants growing in the rocks:

Then on to a valley full of monumental rocks:

Where a man can sit on a horse on a high rock:


And then he can channel John Wayne and make his embarrassed wife pose for the camera:20181012_16301620181012_162612

In front of an amazing view in a great campground.

Then it’s on to Mexican Hat rocks:


Rock switchbacks out of a rock valley:

Into a park of rock bridges, Indian ruins, prickly hearts, and cactus blooms:

Through more rocky roads:


To Moab, where Mike rode his motorcycle where no man should and I took a day off to hang with Cola:20181011_174403

And then we entered a land of rocks and fun with Jeeps:

Where we nearly gave ourselves whiplash trying to see everything:

And I got the Jeep muddy so Mike could stop worrying about it because I’m that nice:


Before we climbed some wicked switchbacks:


So we could eat lunch here:


Then bounced down the road some more:

Until we could look back at our lunch stop from a different perspective:


And take a walk on the wild side:

Which made Cola very happy but scared the crap out of me because I was afraid she’d follow the bird shadows right off the edge:

And we were sure we heard a jet breaking the sound barrier, then saw the dust from a falling rock:


But I braved the edge anyway because I just had to get this shot:


And we survived it all with smiles on our faces:


Saw a bridge no one should walk on:


And then we gave the Jeep back and headed into the sunset in search of more rocks:


Which we found:

Along with a few new friends:

A beautiful night under the stars:


Some ancient graffiti:

And a very long road home:


With a lovely break to visit a favorite uncle in a very flat place:


And ended with a very welcome return to the land of trees:


It was fun, it was gorgeous, it was epic. And, as always, it’s good to be home.

Peace and love,