dreamin' in the NC shade
THEN: This photo is from the early 70’s: I remember him. He was sitting in the heat on the dock waiting for the ferry to Okracoke Island on the Outer Banks, NC. It was probably sometime in ’72 or ’73. He’d driven nearly 12 hours straight in a ’68 VW van, with no air conditioning in a Southern summer, and was so tired he couldn’t understand the quirky Cajun/Creole/Island/Southern accents of the natives there. I wonder whatever happened to him? This blog is a voyage of rediscovery, in a way. I heard a rumor that he married a slender Irish girl and they settled down somewhere, had a couple of boys, shared the searing experience of four five six cancers, got old. He put on a few pounds, then took them off. She’ was always graceful and slender, even until the end, which she met with the courage and grace that was her hallmark. He probably still has that shirt, still wishes he looked like this. The idiot.

Here’s where I’m supposed to put something profound, I suppose. But the older I get (I’m 70, and don’t look like that photo on the left any more; the real me is below. But it has been 50 years, more or less!), the more I realize that shooting for profundity is a trap.

Summer ’18

On April 22, at 8:24, a Sunday morning, my wife, best friend and confidant of almost 50 years died at home of cancer. That followed a brutal four months of hospitalizations and Hospice care, and I handled most of it in a daze. Enough time has passed, though. The house we rebuilt over 26 years is sold, and I’m taking a few months to live on the road, headed to the Pacific Northwest. Perhaps we’ll meet there sometime. Tonight, I’m in Wyoming, in the high desert west of Cheyenne. The wind is down out of Canada tonight, cool and dry, and the clouds are scudding across the full moon and I hear coyotes nearby.

I’m guarding against becoming comfortable, complacent. Something has awoken, and the Latin in the old family motto from the old days in the old country (England) is prodding me: Nosce te Ipsum”. Know thyself. Yea and verily, I live in constant fear that I’ll fail to notice that I’m just phoning it in. Times’ too short to stand still.

But here’s a brief biography:

  • Member, Academy of American Poets.
  • Published a book of poems: “I Came From a Place of Fireflies”, available at the link, on Amazon.
  • 10 years out of college working in a city office in Ohio as a fraud investigator/mediator
  • Two years in grad school, walked away with a master’s in journalism (University of Oregon. Go Ducks! Unofficial motto: “Northwest of Normal”)
  • Six years in voluntary slavery as a reporter and editor—aka “ink-stained wretch” aaka “paid informant”—at two newspapers, where I reported on local politics and everything else from high school sports to swine judging at the county fair; I then variously was a news editor, an assistant city editor and a managing editor at that paper and one other. I acquired a love of newspapers, of conciseness; I also absorbed and nurtured a hatred of lazy writers and dumb rich people (my advertisers, my publishers and the drones at Corporate).
  • Ironically, I’ve become a lazy writer. I’m gonna kick my own ass. That’s why I’m here.
  • Since the the news biz festival of joy days, I spent 26 years at a large university as a writer and editor, and –for 15 years in there somewhere–managing editor of the main web sites. Then I eased toward retirement by doing mostly research writing and managing our IT dept. This was all good. I was lucky to have been in a good place at the right time, and dabbled in technology and the intersection of communications, public service and the Internet. I was there at the beginning of the WWW and, if it doesn’t sound too immodest, saw what was coming before too many others. I managed to do some interesting things back in the day. I’m friends with a guy who was at the table when they invented the Internet. How ’bout that! Still, I’ve always maintained a private life of fiction and essay writing–mostly for my own sanity. There’s very little of the latter left, unfortunately.
  • I’ve published two books of poetry. A novel is on the shelf but has possibilities. “Running Girl”, a detective/crime work of fiction. I’m about 60,000  65,000 60,000  0  55,000 words into it..
  • I published a children’s book inspired by the children of a friend, “Mermaid Sisters: First Dive”.   🙂
  • Married for 48 years to a courageous and sweet woman who left us after a final bout of cancer in April of 2018. We have two sons. One has a master’s in environmental philosophy at the U. of Montana and is a park ranger for the State of Washington and is getting married soon. The other works at Facebook, just moved to Albuquerque, and is as smart and gentle as they come. He travels the world and makes me laugh. They’re both amazing young men.

About the title…. I’m worried that you think I was thinking a bit much of myself. Not the case at all. I was a big fan of Earnest Hemingway’s work when I was old enough to understand some of it. I liked his writing philosophy, the brevity and economy of it. It seemed to help to remember what he’d stood for: write tight (what the best editors demanded) worked in newsrooms, too). When I was thinking of starting a blog, and it seemed more like a lark, ‘-play’ sounded like a little joke on myself, to keep me from taking it all too seriously.
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92 Replies to “About”

  1. Hi from WA state. Lovely introduction. I so appreciate intelligent, thoughtful writing. Beautiful, pensive, Hemmingway-esque photo of the younger you. I spent many summers, growing up, in Seaside/Cannon Beach and Portland. Oregon is so pretty. I’m looking forward to reading more of your work.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Really enjoyed reading your about Statement. I just turned the sexy number the day before Halloween. I have started with Baby Steps towards my goal of being a published poet. This quote has run through my head for years and now I have progress reports to read at the end of each day – “What have you done today to make your dreams come true?”.

    Thanks so much for the inspiration from your “I Want” in the phrase “bleeding on the edge of her words” that nudged me to write “SHE WAS LEFT BLEEDING”, soon to post!!
    I am so appreciative for that gem of a line.

    Come visit me??

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s an “About” to grab the attention and bring me back for more. Sounds like you’ve had a pretty fabulous life and are continuing to do so. Good for you. I’m all about stories and sharing lives. Lark or joke or whatever, I’m glad you have a blog.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh, yeah. But I also worked at Penn State for nearly 30 years, and they played Oregon once in the Rose Bowl. I had a party at my house and invited people from work, all true-blue PSU fans. Some… awkward moments until PSU pulled away. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Well this Sunday AZ Cardinals are playing the Buffalo Bills, I’m conflicted on who to root for. As for Buff State since they aren’t division one, I don’t think I will ever have a problem with college football.


  4. So glad to meet you circuitously through Bernadette and the Frog. I’m still trying to figure that out, but it did lead me to your concise, thoughtful, interesting, and introspective blog. I’m in! (Oh, plus yes, I do love that Jim Harrison quote – thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I hope it is okay that I laughed a lot while reading your introduction. I really fancy your picture of the hot (or was it heated) guy on the top of the post. Please send him my heart-shaped eyes 😀 😀
    On a serious note, Please to meet you! I am happy to have found your blog through Mia’s.
    Looking forward to reading you!
    ~ Dajena 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you–at first I thought of a blog as making my life something of a public wound, but it’s helped me gather a lot of insight from reader-writers who have their own ways of seeing the lingering light (as you do in that lovely poem).


  6. Wow. I am kinda knocked out by your blog and the fact that you are even interested in my project. You have one very sophisticated and very erudite blog. I hope when I get the magazine up and running you will consider being a contributor. In the meantime, I have another blog, http://www.HaddonMusings.com. On Wednesdays I run a Salon that accepts open contributions. Check it out and see if it is something you might be interested in. I am glad you found me because I will enjoy reading your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Bernadette. Thank you for the kind words. I am definitely interested. Please let me me know when you’re ready for submissions. (I happened to be reading Haddon Musings when your note came in, by the way.) I’ll look around in my grab bag and see if I have something for you this Wednesday. Although, I’m sort of pleased with the “…Fireflies” one from this past week, if you get the chance to look.


  7. I’ve been struggling to navigate your blog using my phone, so I will have to come back tomorrow when I’m at my PC.

    Thank you for following and for your likes, they’re very much appreciated.

    Your about page is wonderful and reminds me I never went back to mine to put anything in it of supstance. I really should address that oversight at some point, shouldn’t I? *smiling*

    Warmest of welcomes.


    Liked by 1 person

      1. See, look at my comment above *shakes ahead*. It’s why I try to refrain from using my phone to post comments. Apologies for my spelling error. *Substance*

        My cooking is about as good as my writing, so don’t expect too much of the curried couscous 😀

        O.K., I’m going to go and have a read of your work now. Fingers crossed my internet is a little better this afternoon. It’s what you get for living out in the sticks. Some poor donkey on a wheel must have needed a good rest yesterday, given the state of our internet speed last night.

        Right off to nosy 😀


        Liked by 1 person

  8. You had me at Outer Banks, NC and put on weight and took it off. I’m from NC and have spent time looking at all the young pictures of myself when I thought I needed to lose weight. Oh to be at that weight now. You also mentioned going through 4 bouts of cancer. Lets just say, I’m interested. Not ready for casseroles at this time. Look forward to reading more.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Your blog title fascinated me and so I stepped away from writing my nonsensical poetry and wandered across here to be nosey. A great introduction and what a fascinating life so far. I’m about to be even nosier and wade through some of your posts.


  10. I have to admit, your line about hating lazy writers, then confessing to having to kick your own as because you’ve become one cracked me up. I’m looking forward to following fellow Oregonian with ties to journalism and a sense of humor. And thanks for the follow, by the way. Cheers and Go Ducks!


  11. hello hemm – thank you for the follow and i’m happy to have crossed paths with you and your blog. you’ve had an interesting journey and it continues…..i look forward to reading about it –
    best, beth

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m 50 and wish I’d been more focused with many things earlier on. Of course, my realization came this year! I enjoyed an eleven-year career in the educational publishing business, then marriage, kids and earning happened all at once, as it does for so many of us. My children are now teens and I can get back to what I should have focused on thirty years ago – my art and writing.
    There’s a great little book I keep on my desk titled. Late Bloomers. This little book cheers me up whenever I get depressed and say “why the hell didn’t I start earlier?”
    Your About is quite wonderful and I wish you much happiness and success in your vibrant new electronic writing career 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I figure at this point it’s just a footrace between the writing and Alzheimer’s. (Yes, I’ve developed gallows humor after living in a newsroom for a while and then editing academic prose.) I posted a quote by Marcus Aurelius a few days ago that I like in this context, as harsh as it sounds: ““Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now, take what’s left and live it properly.

      What doesn’t transmit light creates its own darkness.”

      I do get so impatient with people who worry about things they can’t change, like, well… what happens to us all sooner or later. So, I soldier on, middle finger raised high to that gentleman with the sythe.

      You can do this. Someone’s got to be there to call 911 for me. 🙂


      1. I hope I retain my funny bone too – I don’t mind the getting older part – it’s just the damn wrinkles 😉
        Thanks for the pep talk. I’m usually quite peppy myself but I guess tonight’s one of those ‘feeling sorry for myself’ kind of nights. I promise to visit your blog again when I’m happy which should be tomorrow 🙂 see I’m getting there already…

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi, thanks for the follow. I enjoyed reading your about page. “Hemmingplay” raised a smile from me. I’m still new to this writing caper, so your feedback was very much appreciated 🙂 Cheers.


  14. I am currently having issues with my ‘like’ button… seems to unlike everything I like so will have to sort that out! But I really like your about page, I am looking forward to your future posts very much. Thank you for the comment and the follow 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. I hope you find this a place you’ll visit from time to time. You said somewhere that you’re from Essex originally? I’m in the States. Pennsylvania. But my ancestors from from way up north in Yorkshire, a little place called Todmorden, near Halifax. Quite a distance from you. They left a long time ago, though. 1725.:-)

      Good to hear from you, and hope you’ll write again if you want to bounce anything off the wall.



      1. I will most certainly write again! I am enjoying reading though your blogs 🙂 just sorry I can’t like anything!

        Yeah originally from Essex but moved more West and now in Bristol. Wish I knew my family history that far back! So way over the sea to yourself. One of the best things I found about the online blogging is the ability to connect to so many people.

        Thank you! Louise


    2. By the way, the problem with your ‘like’ button is probably due to a bug in the theme you’re using, or it might be something in the Dashboard settings. I’d guess somewhere in the “sharing” settings or in the “Appearance” areas.


      1. Perfect I will have a look thank you! It keeps working and then stopping, before when I cleared the cache it worked again but that didn’t work this time around… very annoying.

        I will take a look, thank you 🙂


  15. Hi Hemmingplay, I wanted to thank you for the follow!
    My blog is a bilingual one. So you may get links to poems in English as well as to some in Italian… Pictures, on the other hand, have no language barriers 😉
    Keep up the good work.


    1. I don’t speak Italian, but I like to hear it spoken. I found your audio files and enjoyed listening. That’s a great idea, by the way. I prefer hearing the poet speak her own words, and the intent and emotion come through so much more clearly than just in the words on the page or screen.

      I look forward to reading more.



  16. I think you are incredibly inspiring, so I’ve nominated you for The-very-inspiring-blogger-lighthouse-and-awesome-blossom-award/ no obligation to accept, I just wanted you to know.


  17. Dear friend, Thank you very much, I was really happy to have been following your blog. I’m still a lot to figure out, and here I can only say that you are an awesome blogger, full Inspiring and hope you can inspire more readers. Thanks and greetings compassion from Gede Prama 🙂


    1. Gede,
      Thank you for the kind words, especially since I don’t feel worthy of them. Most of the time, I’m just stumbling along. If you find something good in this, though, I’m glad. Thanks again.


  18. Thank you for the nomination for the Versatile Blogger Award! Not sure what I did to deserve the attention but thank you! Even better than being recognized by a fellow writer is being led back to a great blog. You are a true writer with a real mind for words. Looking forward to reading more from you.


    1. Not at all. I enjoy all kinds of writing, but your voice and experiences are important. I have friends who are in the middle of raising children and dealing with marriages and the struggle of the next day, and that requires a kind of humility, candor, quiet courage and humor that I admire and believe it deserves more credit.

      Thanks for your kind words, too. They’re more gratifying than you could know.


  19. Hello, good to meet another ex journalist – and one who is old enough to remember when photos came in on sheets of transparencies! I’d love to go back to university and study one day, hope you enjoy the next stage of your career and thank you for following my blog from Australia.


    1. Ah, someone else who knows the secret handshake. Good to hear from you. I wasn’t in it all that long — about six years– but long enough. The ink gets into your blood. Thank God. 🙂 Last honest thing I’ve done, or so it seems some days. I’ve been in communications (PR) for a Univ., which seemed honorable enough until a couple of years ago.

      I’ve just stuck a toe in self-publishing, too. I’ll have to check your book out. Mine is for little girls… (written for the daughters of a friend).

      Again, very good to hear from you. Best of luck.


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