Category Archives: Family

Quarantine Update – AKA What a difference a decade makes.

Well, it’s actually been eleven years, but I digress. I made a comment on Twitter, and a person or two liked it. Aubrey was sitting in Erika’s lap, and in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, a secondary player can follow the active player around. Aubrey kept running away from Erika while she was trying to fish, causing the screen to shift and Erika’s view of the fish to be obscured.

Erika exclaimed, “Ugh! Fishing with a four-year-old in Animal Crossing is just as bad as it is in real life!”

I grabbed my phone and retorted, “Oh, I dunno.” And pulled up one of my favorite photos of Alyssa and me “fishing” at Lynx Lake.


It was on May 17th, 2009. Grandma was with us. You can’t see it in the photo, but if memory serves, we had a bag of Kix cereal. I didn’t want to actually catch a fish that day, and I remember sticking a Kix on the hook and casting it. Four-year-old Alyssa would reel it back in, I’d put another on the hook, and she’d eat a handful. Then, repeat – It was a great day.

I had just finished up my very first semester at Yavapai College. According to my transcripts, I had a 4.0 GPA. I was working at a Fox News Radio affiliate back then, and the paycheck was pretty good. We owned a house in an unincorporated area between Prescott and Prescott Valley then. Anthony was doing well at a local charter school. I probably weighed about 225 pounds or so.

What a difference a decade (eleven years) makes.

Today is April 5th, 2020. I’m avoiding writing a discussion board post for my graduate degree. It’s due tomorrow. I finished that degree at Yavapai College. It took me three years, and my final GPA was 3.49. I think I was .01 short of the dean’s list or something. I also got my Bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University. It took me… wow, five years to finish that one. Losing a job, a house, and a cancer diagnosis derailed that one. Not that it matters, but my final GPA was 3.51 – enough for the dean’s list. I got fired from the Fox News Radio Affiliate twice. We bought a new house – going on 3.5 years here. My weight has been a major issue partly due to the cancer, and partly due to the fact that I lovefood. I’m about 280, and not happy about it.

Anthony and Erika are both getting their associate’s degrees from Yavapai College this summer. Anthony should be starting his bachelor’s in the fall. Alyssa is now fourteen, and is a hell of an artist, musician, and actor. Many of you who have met us at an event have seen her artwork. This proud dad brags any chance he gets. I’m working on my MBA, with an eye on my PhD. If everything goes as planned, I’ll get my MBA spring 2021, and start my PhD that Fall. I’ve got a great job that allows me to telework during the coronavirus crisis.

Anyway, Aubrey, like any four-year-old, wanted to see the photo I showed Erika. The interaction went something like this:

“Is that me in that photo?” Aubrey inquired.

“Does it look like you?” I replied.

“Well, yes, but…”

“Ah,” I said. “Do you remember fishing with me?”

“No,” she replied.

A smile crept on my face, and I looked to Erika. We’ve been married twenty years, and together longer. I knew that she knew what I was thinking. We couldn’t go to Lynx Lake due to quarantine, but we have a nice back yard…


I hope everyone reading this is safe. A dear friend of mine lost her husband recently, and I’ve read of others in the same situation. My mother-in-law, who has spent every weekend at my house since Aubrey was born is having a tough time distancing from us. Since Anthony is working at Fry’s (Kroger), we felt that it wasn’t safe for Erika’s mom to spend the weekends here. I only go into work one day a week, and there are only about four people there when I do. Because of my Leukemia, I’m not any safer, but family.

There is a lot of anxiety out there right now. There is a lot of misinformation. There is a lot of people worried about their friends, loved ones, jobs, communities, etc. We need to have compassion for our fellow humans. Animal Crossing will only take us so far :) We need to be better. We need to do better. As Alyssa is fond of saying, “Love wins.”

Musing from the dead

It certainly has been a while since I posted.

A lot happened in 2019. I got laid off from my long-time broadcasting job in April. (I started that job in November 2007!) Life was difficult this year. I suffered from bouts of apathy, no doubt, depression from my life situation. My writing career seems to have stalled, and I went from getting invited to everything to no one wanting me. (I know it’s not true, but depression has a nasty way of making you believe things…) Of course, I haven’t written a damned thing since April. I’ve kept reading, but Amazon’s odd policies on writers reviewing other works of fiction resulted in no reviews. I’m not sure that anyone read my reviews, but I’m probably not going to do those anymore. Goodreads will be my primary reading portal reporting thing, since I can still leave starred ratings.

I started a new career in September. (I know, broadcasting was my new career.) So education is my new new career. I took a job as a Data Operations Specialist at a local liberal arts college. I didn’t realize how much I hated my broadcasting job until I got the college job, to contrast how much fun this new job is. I’m also going to start my graduate program in January 2020. I received my undergraduate degree in 2017 after five years of NAU, so getting an accelerated graduate degree in a year will be a challenge that I look forward to completing. The educational future for my family and me is looking good.

As for writing, I just got back from an educational training event in Portland, OR. I spent my evenings with fellow writer D. Paul Angel. We ate food and saw the sights in Weird Portland. Yes, I know that “Keep Portland Weird” is an unofficial slogan, but I don’t care. Anyway, with the beginning of NaNoWriMo, I’m going to be writing the next Tupper Jones mystery, and have already written 1500 words of Brass Queen. I’m not sure of the timetable for the Brass Automaton sequel, but it’s revived. (Can you believe that it’s been since 2016 since we wrote in this universe?)

Anyway, I hope to blog more now that I’m feeling better with life. November may be light, since I want to focus on writing two stories for NaNoWriMo. Twitter will be the best place to follow that. So, in closing, it’s good to be back, and I look forward to the challenges of the future.

Will Victorious Maiden be completed?

As I’m sure some of you are aware, artists tend to want to be around other artists. I’ve never really considered myself an artist. I can’t draw worth a [crap]. Other typically “artisty” things like sculpting elude me. But, I need to embrace the artist moniker because writing is art. My wife is more of what I’d consider an artist – specifically she loves drawing cartoons. Now, my eleven year old daughter, may just be the most artsy-fartsy person in my household. She loves to draw anime fantasy characters:


About two years ago, I took a stab at writing a young adult novel. It’s something I’ve never been able to do, and I like to challenge myself. When I finished what I like to call the “vomit draft,” (that’s where you just barf the words onto the page,) I put it away to percolate for a month or two. When I came back to it, I realized that I didn’t have a finished novel; I had the beginnings to three novels in a trilogy. After breaking out the individual storylines and seeing what I had, I realized that the one that was the most done only had about 18k words written. I shelved the project (that shelf is getting full!) and worked on other things.
Continue reading

Leukemia, FitBit & Kindle Scout


Those of you who follow me on Twitter have been getting my daily and weekly stats from FitBit. The good news is that I’ve lost about twenty pounds just watching my carbs and using the FitBit app food diary. I also strive to get 10,000 steps a day, and now that I got Erika a FitBit too, we’re competing. That leads quickly to large step counts. The hourly activity icon reminds me to make sure I get in at least 250 steps each hour that I’m at work since my job is pretty much defined as sitting my large derriere in a chair all day. I’ve got a few friends that also challenge me, but I’d like to get more. If you do the FitBit – the app alone or with the fit bit device, add me to your friend list. The link is over there *points to the right* next to my email and Amazon link.

I had a visit with my hematologist last week to check my white cell count. No change there. Which I guess is a good thing. My leukemia is rather underwhelming. He got all up in my grill because according to his records, I’m down 26 pounds since my initial consult a few months back. I told him that I didn’t want to fight blood cancer and diabetes at the same time, so I was going to continue to work on my weight goal of 230 pounds. (FitBit makes a scale that links via Bluetooth to the app… How’s that for over done?)

I didn’t read my last few Leukemia posts, but in case I didn’t mention it before, my lymph nodes are normal, so it’s just my blood that’s all screwy. (And I guess my bone marrow, too.) I went around the bend for about a month or two trying to eat healthy and eliminating most carbs. The kids were miserable despite my insistence that there was little difference between spaghetti noodles and spaghetti squash. The squash is a little al dente, but it’s better for you. Now, I’m on a more realistic (and cheaper) diet. I’m not as carb adverse, and since I’m still losing weight, I guess I’m doing fine.

Anyway, no news is good news I guess. I don’t go back to the hematologist until January, and my dietician appointment had to be postponed due to the recent Trump rally. I should check to see if there’s a way to print out my food diary so she can scold me for eating too many Sausage Egg McMuffins.

Thanks for your prayers, good vibes, kindly emails and texts, and for nominating War of the Worlds: Retaliation on Kindle Scout. Oh, wait, that shameless self-promotion needs a link to the Kindle Scout campaign:

Oh, and my friend, Rachel Wollaston, has her Kindle Scout campaign starting today:

Recent Health Issues

You may have noticed that I’ve been absent on the blog and a few of my normal haunts lately. To some of you, this won’t be news. You’ve all been super supportive, and I appreciate that very much.

I’ve gained a lot of weight in the last year or so, and I’ve been exhausted a lot. I just figured I was just lazy and eating too much crap. Of course, a new baby sure does sap away your strength. But, Aubrey is sleeping through most of the night now, and I tried to make a conscious effort to watch what I eat, but I’m still tired and fat. My father died in January of a heart attack, and that was on my mind. I finally decided that it was time to see my general practitioner about the rapid weight gain, and always being hungry.

Blood tests happened. And more blood tests happened. My white cell count was something like double to quadruple where it should’ve been. My GP referred me to a Hematologist for further testing. More blood tests.

I showed up at the Hematologist’s office to get the results. He sat me down, and declared, “We have a problem.”

I’m like, no shit, that’s why I was referred to you. BOOM, he dropped one hell of a bomb on me. He advised me that he had a preliminary diagnosis of Leukemia. Mutha fuckin’ cancer.

Deep breath.

It’s not a death sentence. He, and several colleagues and friends told me that they knew people who had Leukemia and lived years and decades with it. It was pretty odd that I have Leukemia. That mostly happens to people much older than I am. We need more tests to check it out, and really to confirm that it is indeed Leukemia. Can we drill into your hip and take a bone marrow sample for a biopsy?

Uh, I guess so.

Great! We’ll schedule it for my lunch hour a week from today.

I exaggerate the Hematologist for the narrative. There was a lot more talking and explaining, but that doesn’t make for a good story…

I tell Erika the news over the phone, and inform her that I’m going to Panda Express and getting enough orange chicken and the biggest cup of Mountain Dew they’ve got. (I stopped drinking the nectar of the gods while trying to eat better.) She’s all. The kids don’t like Panda. You guessed it; I didn’t give a flying fructose what the kids wanted for dinner.

Erika and I decided we would wait to tell the children until after the biopsy. I had to tell the family, and my employer because I had to take the following Tuesday off for my bone marrow biopsy. Since my father died without a will or insurance, I was looking into both, and had already applied for life insurance. I figure I’ve got at a minimum of sixteen years left to live, since I’ve got fifteen years left on my life insurance policy.

Erika keeps telling me that that joke’s not funny. The Hematologist says no one can be sure, but if we confirm Leukemia, he expects me to live another thirty years.

I’ve been told stories of people getting diagnosed with Leukemia, and then dying of old age forty years later. One of Erika’s friends even told her that he had a Leukemia diagnosis twenty years ago, and they’ve never treated it because it wasn’t doing anything. A co-worker told me that her son was diagnosed at age seventeen, and now in his thirties, he’s cancer free. The Wednesday morning talk show host has stage four inoperable malignant cancer, and he told me that I had to wake up every morning and kick cancer’s ass.
Continue reading

Latest Addition

After 6 hours of labor, on 1/22 at 2:21 in the morning, Aubrey Lynn joined our family. She was 8 pounds, 14 ounces, and 20 inches long. Mama and baby Aubrey are doing excellent, and I need to get some sleep.


Big Announcement




I was at work yesterday preparing for the Arizona snowpocalypse. I’ve lived in Michigan and Pennsylvania, so I’m no slouch in the snow department. I’ve had to abandon vehicles on the interstate due to snow. The biggest problem with snow in Arizona is that when it hangs around, nobody knows what to do. Many Arizonans are transplants from colder, snowier locals. For me, it’s been eleven years since I’ve driven in real snow, and I imagine longer for others.

For work, I had to prepare for the impending snow. It was stuff like make sure flashlights have fresh batteries and check the fuel levels of the back-up generators. About four hours into my ten-hour shift (I was taunting nature to really give me the snow) the general manager started sending people home. I resisted, and it was like the negotiation scene from Firefly at the end of The Train Job. I went home to avoid getting kicked into an engine. (Not really, but he’s also a Firefly fan, and I could totally see it going that way. It was either this or a Star Trek reference.)

Anyway, after the 60-minute drive home, (it normally takes about half an hour) Erika and I watched an indie film, after that, I watched another by myself. Alyssa played in and outdoors, tracking snow through the house as she remembered some toy or something she wanted. Anthony usually stays at grandma’s house because she watches the countdown. (I’m in bed by nine.) The snow cancelled this year’s plan and he was forced to do whatever 14-year-old boys do on New Year’s Eve in his own room.

At one point, I think it was while we were all fending for ourselves for lunch, Erika and Alyssa decided to only communicate by rhyming and singing to “Let it Snow.” It lasted about fifteen minutes before one of them gave up. I’ll never, under the penalty of perjury, divulge who gave up first. The rest of the day was full of lazy, with the exception of making sure the dogs got in at least one of their daily walks. And of course, fresh snow equals Alyssa building a snowman.

I hope everyone who visits the blog and follows me on twitter has a safe and prosperous new year.

Hallowe’en Wishes


Hey, all you parents out there! Remember when your babies were, ya’know, still babies?

Most of you were there for their births. (Adoption is a wonderful and caring thing and should be celebrated.) Your own parents may have taken over for a little while when an exhausted mommy or daddy couldn’t keep their eyes open. After all, they raised their own children, and they turned out pretty well. You watched over them in their bassinets and cribs – tiny hands curling around your finger. Your parents probably laughed at the last-minute baby proofing. “Why do we even have a glass coffee table?” Or, from your parents, “You’ve known this baby was on the way for awhile, you could’ve done some of this ahead of time!”

You may have picked out the cute little orange onesie with a matching pumpkin top hat. Coming up with excuses to hold the lil’ buggers wasn’t difficult. “Was that the door bell? I’ll hold the baby while you check.”

They got older and started walking. “Where the heck is that kid? She was here three seconds ago!” You pretended not to find them while they giggled uncontrollably hiding behind the curtains while playing hide and seek. You watched the same episode of He-Man over and over and over and over and over. You acquiesced during a grandparent visit that was never complete without at least six hugs good-bye. “Grandma! Please stay a little longer!”

School started and you saw them less and less. Hobbies, activities and their friends ate up more of your time with them. Some of you welcomed the respite and some of you missed them terribly, agonizing over what they were doing.

There were achievements – achievements that boggled the mind. “Who the heck taught him how to juggle?” There were setbacks – setbacks that tried your patience and the limits of parental endurance. “I’ve told you twice to take a shower and get ready for bed! Do I need to confiscate something so you’ll listen?”

First words, first tooth, first kiss, first (gasp!) driving lesson: You were there for them all. You wonder, “Am I teaching them to be human beings?” Or, “Will my baby change the world?” Heck, if you could just get them to pull the legs out on their jeans before dumping them inside-out in the light clothes basket, you would most assuredly receive the Nobel Prize.

You look to a higher power to care for them when you’re not present. You’ve instilled in them the values that you believe in, but they don’t always understand or believe in what you do. You can only do your best and send them into the world.

Today is Halowe’en. The older babies are going to parties. Or, the infamous, “Trick-or-treating is for little kids.” Have fun with your children today. It’s one of the few days of the year where a kid can truly be a kid. We all dress up in silly, scary or simple costumes. We eat candy until our stomach hurts. We celebrate being a family, a family created by birth or assembled by adoption.

I’ll end this Halowe’en post with a quote from Steve Almond: “Nothing on Earth so beautiful as the final haul on Hallowe’en night.”

A story by Alyssa

Like many children, mine see me doing something as a profession and they want to emulate it. Anthony has come down to the station and spent some time goofing off on the microphone in the production room. A few years ago, he discovered a game I worked on and I had programmed his and Alyssa’s names into it. He loves to tear apart computers and install every lame Linux distribution out there on one of the many machines that haunt my garage.

One thing they both have seen me spend innumerable hours doing is the craft of writing. I’ve gotten them illustory kits so they can write and illustrate their own stories. Anthony has moved on to other things, but Alyssa likes to spend time writing stories. They both played with the quiet-riter when I brought it home, but Alyssa wanted to write a story. She knows I write a lot of something called ‘flash fiction,’ and wanted to try her hand at it.

After some discussion, we decided she would try to write a 100-word story. First she would write it in a notebook. Then, I would circle misspelled words for her to correct. Finally, she could bang it out on the quiet-riter.





Green is all I see.

Well, not just green, but many greens.

Crooked, twisted vines and branches move on their own.

“It’s just the wind,” I whisper to myself.

I hear lots of strange noises that I haven’t heard before, but I guess that’s what a jungle sounds like.

Suddenly, I hear a loud noise.

My heart races. I even jumped a little. I grabbed my tail and leapt to the nearest branch. I climbed as high as I could. I screamed, but my voice was lost to the sounds around me.

I knew I was safe.