Category Archives: Stories

The Man in the Mask and Other Art: A Backstory


The man in the mask, which I describe in The Fall: Part 3, is a real painting. I saw it at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History years ago. I’d gone to Albuquerque for a conference and took part of a day to see the local sights, much like Katelyn does in the story. My description is from old memories, and I doubt I have a way to find the painting now, but my recollection is accurate … as memories go. 

The Man in the Mask

The painting of the man in the mask was placed on the back wall of the main gallery. The canvas was less than two feet by three feet, the size of many portraits. I had started touring the room clockwise and had viewed a number of interesting paintings. I remember none but the one that dominated the left wall, a life-sized painting of a woman wearing an evening gown and standing in a pleasant, well-appointed room. I liked it but wasn’t sure why I should care about it. I realize now that it reminds me of portraits one sees of donors, and perhaps that is who she was. As I made my way around the room, I noticed that whoever had done the lighting had done an excellent job on all the pieces. The curator and staff had done well in creating an inviting experience. I relaxed and wandered, enjoying and taking in the colors and shapes and the subjects and themes of the paintings. I may have not rounded a large wall as Katelyn does, but, when I turned to the back wall, I abruptly and with some shock, came face to face with the portrait of the man in the mask. read more

Miles to Go

“The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” This poem, by Robert Frost, are about a country doctor on his rounds. He’s driving in a buggy late in the evening on winter solstice. He and his horse are the only ones out. In some ways, he’s very much a man of the physical world—educated, professional, capable, dedicated. In other ways, he’s the mystical, fairy tale old-woman-on-the-road. He’s the person who in going about his business is in just the right place at just the right time to help those who need assistance both practical and spiritual. read more

Anna’s Rainbow

This story is a companion piece to The Promise, which can also be found in the Stories section on this website.


“Dad, you sure you want to do this?” asked Aaron.

“I know I should say, ‘no,’ but, yes I do. More importantly, your grandmother does,” said Devon.

“The hospice people won’t like it.”

“It’s not them as much as it is her doctors, but we’ve talked about it, and she’s firm in her decision, and you know what your grandmother is like when she is sure about something.” read more

The Promise

Rainbow Kathy

“Mommy! Look at the rainbow,” the little boy called. He had been playing by himself near his mother.

Anna opened her eyes and looked where he was pointing. “Oh, Devon, isn’t it pretty,” she said turning to look at him. “Come here, my beautiful boy. Can you recite the colors?” He nodded. “Come sit in my lap then and tell me.” He did so and started by pointing at each color. Anna stroked his hair and noticed the gold highlights the sun had given to the rich brown. She also noticed he needed a haircut and smoothed has bangs out of his eyes. read more

Therefore, We Call It Paradise

Kukai (from Lotus)
“The flower of the lotus-womb world signifies reality.” Kukai goes on to say that reality can be found everywhere. It is in the place we know as our world, and it includes everything and is called the “Lotus Flower Storehouse World” and is therefore called paradise.

Of all the rooms in the old Victorian house, the sleeping porch beckoned most—more than the entry, more even than the space under the staircase. The upstairs landing came close.

ThresholdThe entry—with its sturdy, polished outer door with burnished, decorated brass knob, it’s inner door of divided lights and gathered sheers, side walls with small windows too high to see out of but letting in light from both sides—straddled two worlds and made a third but one too limited to remain in long. read more

The Beauty of Brokenness

A perfect afternoon for a stroll, not too warm, an occasional cooling breeze. She grabbed her keys and, shutting the door behind her, considered both directions before deciding to walk down to the little park. Only a mile, maybe less, but enough to clear her head and stretch her body. Such mixed weather at the start of summer. Some days felt blistering, while others seemed more like fall. Today was more of a fall feel: warm sun but cool breeze, some flowers blooming while others seemed to be weighing whether or not they should yet. The pavement had mostly dried from last night’s rain. It had poured. She’d heard it pounding her windows, and the thunder, wow! She skirted a puddle and headed down a street of smaller homes with gardens that would be an artist’s palette in a few weeks. As she walked, she noticed a flower peeking through the greenery. She stopped to see it more closely. As she stood there, she saw herself looking at the flower. She contemplated herself contemplating the flower. read more