• House Calls

    Ninety-eight. That’s how old my stepfather, John Werline, would have been tomorrow. One. That’s how many times he ever stood up and stood between my mother’s rage and me. I never understood their agreement that we were “her kids” and his were “his kids” and that he always seemed to sort of disappear when she… Continue Reading

  • Father’s Day: Let’s Play Two

    Ernie Banks loved the game of baseball so much, he was known to clock in for another day of playing shortstop for the hapless Chicago Cubs, inhale deeply, and say, “It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame. Let’s play two!” *** I’ve buried three fathers. A couple of them more than once. There was the… Continue Reading

  • Meet Fletch

    Sunday mornings around here used to be about coffee, newspapers, and belly scratching. But a neighborhood cat overturned those tables this past Sunday, no doubt altering the Sunday morning landscape for the foreseeable future. Meet Fletch. He’s not just a neighborhood cat—he’s a cat who owns the neighborhood. When he’s not running squirrels up trees, he’s… Continue Reading

  • Chapter One: Petey Cries

    Author’s Note: “Petey Cries” is the first in a series of stories that will introduce you to Finding Jeffery: A Memoir. You’ll ride shotgun on the short bus—rambling through The Divorce, starlings that drop from the sky, hounds that hump by the chicken coop, and Civil War heroes who drink lemonade in the garden. You’ll meet Petey, John, Jack, and Dorothy—the heroes,… Continue Reading

  • Our Moves: The Powerlessness of Parenting

    I’ve learned to be okay with the fact our oldest two sons are no longer down the hallway. That whatever, wherever, and whomever they’re up to on a college Friday night is their business. That in the quiet of their absence, there can be tranquility. (Sure, it might have to be located with a microscope and… Continue Reading

  • Finding Jeffery: The Back Story

    We were a working-class family slogging through the tired, rain-soaked towns of Western Oregon, six kids clawing for consequence amid the throes of our mother’s venom and vodka—the 12 houses in 18 years, the characters who came and went through the doors, and the fathers who seemed so indifferent to it all. Finding Jeffery is the… Continue Reading

  • Prison Rules

    I’m the father of three athletic, competitive boys. And I, myself, am a former athletic, competitive boy. That means things usually get interesting when the balls get rolled out around here for friendly family competitions. Miniature golf, table tennis, Monopoly—nobody likes to lose at any of it. Ever. So, on the competitive scale of Riley… Continue Reading