water and dog do mix

Rescued in the truest sense.

We had our Siberian Queen-of-you-all Husky and our German Shepherd Dog running in the field. A car stopped on the highway, and an elderly couple asked if one of our dogs got away. They had just spotted one across the highway. Injured. But not ours.

My son and I searched twice before this burly white dog stuck her head above the tall grass between the highway and the railroad track. We weren’t sure what got her—truck or train—but it had mangled one hind leg. Compound fractures. Bloodied. Shattered.

I crept toward this wounded animal, hands out to my sides, speaking softly—

And she rolled onto her back. Rub my belly. My leg hurts.

She never snapped, growled or grumbled as we loaded her up and searched for her owner. Finally, we brought her home. Took her to a vet (several times). And welcomed her into our family.

We named her Nixie. Found out her original name was Ghost. So it fit. German for water pixie. Or water nymph. Or mermaid. It really, really fit.

Nixie loves puddles after a rain. Loves her doggy wading pool. Loves the mini-donkey trough where she dunks herself almost daily. She drinks with her entire snout immersed, like how a bloodhound flushes its nose. I want to take her to the ocean. She’d spin circles. It’s mine—ALL MINE!

The sweetest of our doggies. The vet said if we weren’t keeping her, there were five people ready to take her home. No, thanks. We love her. Gimpy. Tripod. Nixie-bear.

jumping off a perfectly fine diving platform without a parachute

I should have heralded this from a canyon lip a year ago. The wonderful Abyss & Apex Magazine published my Flash Fiction story 1000 M Diving Finals about a synchronized diving team in an event made possible by wearable tech.

Find it in the ARCHIVES for 2019 under Issue 71 in the Flash Fiction section. It’s approx. 1100 words. A quick read at terminal velocity in a Speedo.

A one-kilometer dive? Yes; Douglas Adams was a favorite back in High School. All those Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy novels might have impressed on me.

On the surface, 1000M is about gold and love. At the deeper end of the pool is the question: Can we be our best when bolstered by fans on always-connected instant-feedback social media? Our diving duo, Tani and Nico, have different ideas about that.

Pictured: The scenic train at the bottom of Royal Gorge in Colorado. I snapped the shot from the lookout while trying to catch pictures of my daughter and niece on the climbing tour.

It struck me how the train looks like a toy, a thousand feet below, with the cliff wall out of focus providing a striking depth of field. Even the terrain behind the train looks like something carved by a master model train builder.

I used it for this post because the pool in 1000M would be about 3 times farther down.

li’l la luna

When our daughter wanted to buy a puppy, we tried to talk her into waiting until she was on her own. We warned her: All dogs become mine.

I don’t try to steal them. Maybe my tummy rubs are the best. Perhaps I’m the one most often scooping out the dog food. Or I’m taller. Might be an alpha thing. (Taiga, the husky, is different — she’s not mine; I’m her favorite subject.)

2018 02 02 la luna 2Cass couldn’t wait, and along came li’l la Luna Rae. Somehow that daughter-of-mine pulled it off. Even though she worked nights and took classes by day, she managed to keep Luna close enough to know who her mommy was. Now that Cass is off at the University, she and Luna are inseparable.

Oh, Luna is happy to see me, no doubt. (My tummy rubs are the best.)

But each time Cass returned from school or work, we braced for it. Ten or more solid minutes of Luna — up in our daughter’s arms, no matter how big Luna got — wailing/howling/barking as if her momma had returned from the dead.

2018 02 02 la luna 3
luna on cass, the bark-a-lounger

ode to tilly

more two, less three

it’s three of late to share with all

how long we knew thee

since then, sans bear and claw

2017 10 24 Tilly 03 Bite

Tilly made me call our big dogs “bear.” She’d put her paws on the picture window in the dining area, claws making whale-songs against the glass. Huge pads and long curls of hard keratin. I’d envision a grizzly wanting in.

I still hated dogs then (a small dog thing) and Tilly arrived small. Energetic. Chewing. Biting. And those claws. Mix Canadian wolf with German Shepherd and you get a force of nature. My daughter says it’s a wolf-thing to hold another’s limb in the jaws. Young with no bite control, she was a paper punch. At a year old, she had bite control. But you’d look down and see your forearm in the jaws of this wolfly thing, and yank your arm away.

Serrated teeth, I swear.

2017 10 24 Tilly 02 Play

She ripped the plastic dryer vent off the house. I replaced it with tin. She ripped that off. I replaced it with steel and it survived. She yanked a 2×4 runner off the fence and trotted up with it balanced in her teeth, proud as could be. Dug holes. Uprooted an 8-foot tree. Pulled the satellite coax cable off the back of the house.

The sprinkler system we used to have? She brought it to us piece-by-piece.

Yeah, I hated dogs. It was like my brother-in-law said. If you have a dog, you don’t have a backyard. You have a dog pen.

2017 10 24 Tilly 01 Snooze

Then, a year and a half old, she matured. Overnight. Stopped digging. Stopped teething on lumber. Stopped putting our body parts in her maw.

If that wasn’t strange enough, I fell in love with her.

She rarely barked. If she did, grab the flashlight and the gun because something is out there. Possum or skunk, snake or porcupine. And playing tug-of-war with a branch or toy, she never growled. Actually, that was creepy. I was used to the hyper little Jack Rat who thought he had to intimidate everything with his vicious snarls and snaps. Tilly played as if she were holding back, dialed from a 10 down to a 1, as if thinking: I must be gentle with my humans, lest I break them. If she won the toy or tree, she brought it back and waited patiently. C’mon, human. I’ll give you a chance.

All good things must end. We got Taiga. An escape artist. She could smell weak spots in the fence. Softness in the dirt. Whatever it took. But usually just enough for her smaller frame to squeeze through. Then one night she engineered an escape Tilly could take advantage of.

And we live right on a busy highway.

Don’t worry. I don’t get sad when I run across pictures of Tilly Bear. I smile.

2016 02 06 tilly

Above the post: Tilly would sit on the porch swing and gaze upon her domain. What was left of it.

As for the ode at the top, I hope you got a laugh. It’s funny in the original Vogon and all nuance is lost in translation.

(the real translation: I am no Keats)

eclipse 2017

There are 149 miles between my farthest north and south work locations. On Monday, August 21, 2017 I happened to be at the northern location. The day of the eclipse. This put me in about the 70% of solar eclipse range.

I go south weekly and only go to this most northern facility once a month. Luck of the draw, really. I had made the schedule a month in advance, without the eclipse in mind.

The picture above is using binoculars to focus the sun on my jeans. I tried white paper at first. Do. Not. Do. That. I wore that crescent on my retina for half an hour. Tried blue paper. Red paper. A black smooth-ish object. Finally, denim seemed just right for confirmation the eclipse was happening without blinding my eyes.

The company man for another oil major showed up. He had a welding shield, but said their safety man told them it didn’t block the right rays for direct viewing. But, I figured it’d make a nice filter for the phone camera. Check.

2017 08 25 eclipse 02
eclipse through welding shield

Meanwhile, my dad, daughter, son and I were group texting. Someone with my son had the “official” eclipse-viewing sunglasses. Made of paper. One-off, I think. His picture was a tiny orange thumbnail through a lens. My daughter sent a nice picture. She was a little north of me at Lubbock, at a Texas Tech viewing party, beneath a nice scrim of clouds.

2017 08 25 eclipse 04
eclipse at lubbock

My daughter texted, “Use puddles to see it.” I swear, for about five seconds, I was going to open the app store to look for the Puddles eclipse viewing app. Doh! Hey, I had a phone in my hand. Then I saw water in the containment under a nearby chemical tank, and it hit me. Got a nice picture, what with the ripples on the water and the building clouds.

2017 08 25 eclipse 03
eclipse using the puddles app

For the duration of my job at that location, at what is usually the hottest part of the day, it was dim and relatively cool. I suggested we petition for an eclipse each afternoon in summer. Someone make it happen. How big would the satellite have to be—to cover where I work?

Next stop, the Dallas area for the 2024 eclipse. That’s like a day trip from here.

micro fiction | lampyridae

An errant star whizzed past Tiff’s leg. It seemed the fresh ink and tiny blisters of blood stirred in its wake. My fault. I drove her to the tattoo parlor and swore she was eighteen. A lie about either of us. Guilt ignited my pledge of penance.

“You will not tell mom,” she said, dancing between clumps of grama grass.

“This is the part where I say it’s for your own good.”

She sneered, teeth white by moonlight. “I know, and when we’re older we’ll laugh and laugh—except we won’t. Jerk.”

“I could tell dad.”


A squadron buzzed around her legs and I read his name, coiled around her ankle. Like a shackle. “He’s not worth it.”

She rolled her teen idol magazine into a tube and smacked a firefly against her shin. Her giggles and the crunch of dry grass beneath her Toms receded into the night. Whop. Whop.

“Where are you going?”

“On a killing spree.”

Written for a contest on a blog. It had to include several words or phrases, and the only one I can remember is “killing spree.” Here, I threw out the 100-word limit and told the story as originally intended.

Besides glowing for mating rituals, fireflies glow to ward off predators. They’re distasteful or toxic, and predators learn to associate the glow with yuck!

I imagine the brother in this tale going on to make a point with another bit of firefly trivia… Some can’t produce the chemical to fend off predators. They mimic the mating flashes of species that can, lure them in, and eat them.

Pictured: light painting with fireworks. Close enough?

ball with tressa

This German shepherd is serious about ball. If she doesn’t get to go out at least once a day, she whines and moans as if she’s lost a friend. It’s raining this evening, and I’m preparing for the worst.

I’ll take her downstairs to watch a movie when she starts. She loves to snooze in the basement home theater and catch the occasional popcorn tossed her way… Yeah, that’ll sate her.


We have to take at least two balls—preferably three. She always comes back, proper fetch style, but I have to either get ugly with the “release” command or be fast with grabbing the ball from her mouth. She lets me take it easily enough, but she’ll stand between my legs with her head away from my hands.

With two or three balls, we can grab one off the ground while she catches the other. When it’s time for a rest, she’ll hoard them, one in her mouth, another gripped in her bear claws, and the third under her body. And she’ll cover the balls forever if we let her.


We’ve learned not to make her run too far. She’d run herself to death for those balls. So aside from a couple of long throws to mix it up, we’ll bounce them close by and let her leap for them. Means more throws without wearing her out too fast. More play, less panting.

dolphin technique

But all good things must end, and it’s time to go back inside. When she runs back and sees me holding another ball, she drops the one she just caught, usually while still running. If I’m ready, it’ll roll to my feet and I pick it up. Now, with all balls in hand, I say “house” and off she goes for the doggy door. Good dog!

shark bites moon

Pictured: Tressa at about one year old. You may note the fold of her left ear in the middle shot. Let’s just say Taiga, the husky, is serious about dominant play, and she rendered that ear so when Tressa was still a pup. Taiga, Taiga, Taiga.

sans visual cues

You hop in your ride, hit the road, and the first sign you pass is a message from the Department of Transportation.

Congratulations. We’ve upgraded your roadway to the latest version of Office.


And suddenly you have to be a lot more attentive, instead of paying attention to important things like driving.

Pictured: An accident scene just up the highway one night.

(excerpt from) the rift cell

The garage door stood open with everything inside shoved against one wall. A red toolbox on casters, a floor jack, a mismatched set of ramps and an engine hoist. Someone had swept greasy rags, trash and dirt out onto the driveway. No car.

“Nikki took it when she left.” Rafe stepped out of the shadow of the entryway to the house. He wore a dingy oil-stained tee and ripped jeans. Nice ensemble for a reunion.

“I ran after her,” Rafe continued. “Was about to cut across the park and head her off—and that’s when the ground opened up.”

“Then part of you didn’t want to catch her.”

“I wanted my car back.”

Bingo. Cavanaugh nodded and gazed into the garage. “Why are you ready to cross your rift now? Is it still about your car?”

“No. I’m surrounded by rifts. I can’t go more than two blocks from my house. There’s a 7-Eleven at the end of the street and the diner’s a block over. But if I get real groceries, it’s from charity. I’m trapped.”

“We call it a rift cell.”

“You mean it’s like I’m in jail?”

Cavanaugh shook his head. “It’s just the space between people’s rifts. And you’re lucky. This isn’t the worst rift cell I’ve seen.”

Rafe rolled his eyes. “I bet.”

“It happened to me in the desert outside Phoenix. My rift and two others intersected right there. I had a wedge of sand just big enough to lie down inside. No food or water, and no one knew I was out there.”

Rafe’s brow furrowed. “So that’s why you learned to cross other people’s rifts.”

“My life depended on it.”

The short story on Daily Science Fiction dot com. Here.

kid quotes

I turned the key in the ignition. Click.

My four-year-old son looked up at me. “What’s wrong?”

“We have to jump it, Aeric.”

Popping the hood seemed like a teachable moment. I waved Aeric over and he climbed up onto the bumper.

“That’s the motor,” I said. “It’s what makes the truck go.”

He hopped back down and sauntered off, mumbling, “But not today.”