Observations & Articles

I’ve heard it said that the best musicians are those who must sing or must write music. I guess it follows that I write because I can’t not. It only recently dawned on me that my inner muse demands that I open up a notebook or my laptop to capture thoughts. Many are pure musings—slightly self-satisfying and frequently foisted on my wife for her reaction.

All said, perhaps some of the pieces below will contribute to your deeper insight or another way to think about the world. You will find published pieces interspersed with my own regular observations. Enjoy!

FEATURED OBSERVATION

NEW NOVEL: The Meadowlark

Writing a novel has been both the most fun thing I’ve ever done and also the hardest thing. Three+ years in the making, The Meadowlark represents the “Idaho” book I always knew was in me. The first full draft was finished right before the pandemic. From there, the journey had tortuous moments, ploddingly slow moments, rejection, and triumph. To have it go live on Saturday, November 19, 2022 was a dream, a culmination of blood, sweat, and tears (well, no blood, but significant deep feeling).

Here’s the overview:

In 1885, southeastern Idaho was the last part of the country to open for homesteading. Young Cassie Rapp arrives with her family to farm a country overrun by sagebrush and lacking water. With others they meet, they harness the mighty Snake River and turn 100,000 acres of barren earth into the rich farm community it is today.

Meanwhile, modern-day character Emma Rose, a notable speaker and business consultant, is trying to make sense of her recently deceased father’s request to be buried in a small Idaho town. Her journey of discovery begins from there.

The Meadowlark is a sweeping saga of generations of powerful women set against the building of the American West and a modern discovery of deep family roots. Rich in historical detail and human emotion, this is the story of the uphill struggles endured by the people settling this country and the pride, perseverance, and faith it takes to succeed then or now.

Available now in eBook, paperback, and hard cover, order your copy today!

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NEW NOVEL: The Meadowlark

NEW NOVEL: The Meadowlark

Writing a novel has been both the most fun thing I’ve ever done and also the hardest thing. Three+ years in the making, The Meadowlark represents the “Idaho” book I always knew was in me. The first full draft was finished right before the pandemic. From there, the journey had tortuous moments, ploddingly slow moments, rejection, and triumph. To have it go live on Saturday, November 19, 2022 was a dream, a culmination of blood, sweat, and tears (well, no blood, but significant deep feeling).

Here’s the overview:

In 1885, southeastern Idaho was the last part of the country to open for homesteading. Young Cassie Rapp arrives with her family to farm a country overrun by sagebrush and lacking water. With others they meet, they harness the mighty Snake River and turn 100,000 acres of barren earth into the rich farm community it is today.

Meanwhile, modern-day character Emma Rose, a notable speaker and business consultant, is trying to make sense of her recently deceased father’s request to be buried in a small Idaho town. Her journey of discovery begins from there.

The Meadowlark is a sweeping saga of generations of powerful women set against the building of the American West and a modern discovery of deep family roots. Rich in historical detail and human emotion, this is the story of the uphill struggles endured by the people settling this country and the pride, perseverance, and faith it takes to succeed then or now.

Available now in eBook, paperback, and hard cover, order your copy today!

OTHER ARTICLES

Orphaned

Orphaned

I didn’t see it coming – but then I did.

The forgotten passwords. Her TV began to go on the blink intermittently, never an explanation. She began to iterate on topics previously discussed, not just repeating herself but fixating. It’s hard to say she really forgot things – they all simply left her. Always a good listener, her active listening abilities decided to leave next.

Sort of like old friends, the way things were, last year’s bottle of peaches. Her life retreated, but not her health. We watched her sail through the COVID-19 pandemic, proud of her booster shot – until that left as well.

She perservated on the fact that she had showered and washed her hair or would be, knew without a doubt that the Idaho border was closed for some unexplained reason (at first, the pandemic, and then simply “closed”), or that her book on the history of San Pete county talked about Chief Wahkara, AKA Walker, who she grew increasingly less convinced was our ancestor. We smiled because we would all willingly adopt him and his. And then she stopped talking about that and most everything else.

Leaving her house for a care center was hard for her until it wasn’t. Surprisingly, her health improved significantly once there; her refuge turned out to be her antagonist. All those years she struggled with respiratory infections that turned out to be caused by going home and not those long trips to see family where we all thought she wore herself out. Dad always scolded her for working too hard while away. After they both were out, a granddaughter discovered an over-abundance of mold from three decades of swamp cooler comfort and carpeted walls (thanks to the prior homeowner). WE had the rear view, not her, and that wasn’t anything we could undo, explain, or live past with her. Her last breaths were the best she’d breathed in years!

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Doing Hard Things

Doing Hard Things

Done something really hard lately? Recently, I did.

Before 30, every “first” seemed challenging. College. Jobs. Marriage. First mortgage. Fatherhood. Bigger mortgages. 🙂

It isn’t hard to see how these were all great stretch opportunities, sweet enhancements to my life.

Only recently did I realize that the “firsts” since then have become much more private.

For instance, I started painting a few years ago (amazing, inexpensive therapy!). When my wife (a designer) willingly hung some of my self-taught hacks on the walls of our own home, my heart grew a few sizes.

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I Skied Yesterday

I Skied Yesterday

I skied yesterday. Earliest day I can remember free-heeling in the back country. November 9th.

We hiked it very early that morning—7:00 a.m.—myself and two of my sons. I eyed the snow depth every half mile or so, and tracked six inches at the trailhead, eight at what we call the Big Meadow.

I contemplated the entire way how well this could be skied. A first snow like this usually sets the base, and it’s the second snow that begins to be ski-able. We followed old steps from the day before for the first half mile, kicking steps into the new snow that had fallen since whoever had come before us and tracked it out a bit.

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Hearing Voices

Hearing Voices

My late afternoon in the back-country recently was relatively routine, epiphany and all.

Leaving my home in the front-country home that day, I passed a commotion of yard workers everywhere fawning over shrubs and petunias. Others mowed and edged the greenest front lawns as though they would always be this way. There was little to prove otherwise—the day was hot and would be long.

While the noise and commotion faded as I drove fifteen minutes up the canyon and around Cascade (the 10,000-foot peak that sits between my home and the back-country), my mind mulled topics from work to family to pandemic and beyond.

At the trailhead, I jumped from my car and quickly traded the recently painted lines of the parking lot for dirt.

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Presence Among Pines

Presence Among Pines

A lazy afternoon in a hammock strapped between two lodgepole pines gave me this view—all my son Dakota’s idea. The creaking trees, afternoon birdsong, a plane passing high overhead—I found myself entirely present, devoid of any regret or worry for an hour.

As one wise person said, “Sling a hammock between the words ‘over’ and ‘next,’ and you are living in the moment.” For me, literally hanging a hammock between two trees and lying back produced an equivalent sensation. And in that pause, I found myself looking up.

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Remembering Water

Remembering Water

Although many of us have lost touch with this notion, old-timers and anyone still tied to the earth from a career point of view (that includes farmers, ranchers, fisherman, mountain resort operators, and city planners) all know one thing for sure: Water is the lifeblood of the West. When the volume of settlers coming west burgeoned in the mid-1840s, water was the entire story of the west. The earliest settlers faced other dangers, but without water, their Western existence was cut short in multiple ways.

How easy we forget, right? Sure, we face drought years—and for me, those years selfishly mean too little snowfall and fewer ski days. When the lack of water only limits our leisure activities or creates a concern that we expect others will somehow take care of (such as making sure we have drinking water), it becomes clear that it—meaning water—may no longer be the story of the West.

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Sorrow to Healing

Sorrow to Healing

Only yesterday on one of the earliest spring days, I hiked my way into six inches of unexpected new snow. There’s nothing like it—clean, crisp whiteness. It was so fluffy it almost defied our footprints, moving to the side to let me and my buddy pass. My buddy scooped handfuls to eat—probably a teaspoon or two of water from a handful or two of snow.

What struck me most was the thought of healing. We’re in a time of great sorrow (and that’s likely always true somewhere for someone). Where’s the promised healing?

It was a morning of brightness and utter purity. Heaven’s gift covered all, fed all, and brightened the world. At least that’s what I saw and will continue seeking in the days ahead—whether tough, easy, or in between.

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From England to Boston

From England to Boston

When I set out to write this, I had planned to write only a few short paragraphs about my ancestors for two reasons. One, I thought that very little detail would be available to me; and two, I believed that, with the exception of a few of them, most led fairly plain lives which would take only a few lines to describe. I planned to use it as an introduction to my personal life history, explaining where I had come from and how my family came to live in Idaho.

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85 Horses

85 Horses

Dad was 24 and single when he got his first boat—a new, 1956 StarCraft—15 feet long, burgundy and white, with a 30-horsepower hand-cranked motor.

“It was a fishing boat,” he told me. “One of only two boats in Rigby. I got it to take my dad fishing out on the lake.”

It turned out that Grandpa only liked fishing from the shore. But luck was on Dad’s side—when he had upgraded to the canvas boat cover, the dealer in Idaho Falls had thrown in a pair of yellow water skis. Since Dad didn’t fish, he decided to put the skis to good use.

“I’d never seen anyone else waterski,” Dad said, “My friend Don and I would go out on the Snake River, and we tried to figure out how to do it. I’d stand in water up to my thighs and wonder ‘what do I do next’ while he eased the boat forward, gradually tightening the rope and pulling me slowly.”

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Woodman

Woodman

I was standing at the grave of Richard Ezra Rapp, my great-grandfather, on Memorial Day 2019 and struck by the inscription on the top of his headstone. I could barely read, “Here rests a woodman…” and couldn’t decipher the rest. A Google search turned up a few interesting items. A rubbing of the headstone (thanks to my sister Sheri and my mom) confirmed all of what you read below.

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