Work in Progress

Columbia Son

A lifelong fan of fiction, I am belatedly turning my hand to it. The manuscript, working title Columbia Son, attempts to capture the life and times of Ranald MacDonald (1824-1894) in the form of a historical novel. MacDonald is a fascinating, enigmatic and little- known figure in the history of British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest. Born of a Chinook princess and a Scottish Hudson’s Bay factor, he melded many careers into a single life: packer, sailor, rancher, explorer, gold miner, road builder and ferryman. MacDonald is perhaps best known for getting into Japan at a time when that country was totally closed to foreigners.Here is a man native to and comfortable with a huge swath of geography—from the foggy mouth of the Columbia River to the gold mines of the Cariboo.

Here is a man who purposely shipwrecked himself on a remote Japanese island in pursuit of an ethnic connection between the Japanese people and his deceased mother. Here also is a man forced to decide between Canadian and American nationality, when his home territory was bisected in 1848. Archival material on MacDonald abounds (too much, in fact!), so my real challenge is finding the proper voice for the narrative.

Ranald MacDonald - 1853
Ranald MacDonald – 1853

For more on this novel project, see

Yippee Calle Vineyard

Our little house in Summerland sits on a lot nearly half an acre in size, so in pursuing the sacred connection between wine and literature, I created a vest-pocket, 65-vine organic vineyard. Starting from cuttings of the red grape variety Zweigelt, I am now taking off a couple hundred pounds of grapes each year. I am fortunate to have a good friend–a viticultural Jedi master–who steers me through the stunningly complex business of growing grapes, and who vints the wine for me.

“I have come to understand that wine is place. Wine is  celebration. It makes us content with simple meals and grateful for elaborate ones. Wine magnifies the perfume of lilacs after a spring rain, elevates the grace notes in music and writing, and helps us realize every day is an accomplishment — even if we did very little. Wine transforms ordinary confusion into an ecstatic form of wonder. Wine lets us forgive the status quo while it foments us to revolution. Wine reminds us that we are all, fundamentally, romantic poets.”

–from Okanagan Odyssey


2013 harvest
2013 harvest