Thursday, May 21, 2009

A weekend with Pookie

Sadly, the vulgar exigencies of commerce conspire to ensure that during the working week I see far too little of my little bear cub, who has surely reached the apogee of cuteness. I make up for this at the weekends, and on one fairly recent occasion Rachel was feeling unwell, leaving us boys to our own devices for a 48 hour stretch.

Left: Friday night and it's slides at Sunnyside park. Right: fast-forward to Sunday. As you can see, things had warmed up a little.

Running down the path at Powell Butte one Saturday afternoon.

Mount Hood in the background, still snow covered in April. So much so that I was actually due to go skiing with Linda the next day. That didn't happen, however, so Ethan and I went to the beach at Sauvie Island instead. There can't be many places in the world where one can make that choice.

With my usual preparedness, we arrived at the beach sans toys. Fortunately, however, this empty coffee cup that Rachel had thoughtfully deposited under the driver's seat of the Mazda kept him happily occupied for several hours.

Sitting on the dock of the bay, watching the ships come in and go out again.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Marmalade Shore

“No married man should embark upon any project lasting in excess of nine months” is one of my more useful aphorisms, alongside, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that when a man embarks upon a relationship he fails to give adequate moment to the ninety-nine hundredths of his life that will not be spent having sex.” In any event, The Marmalade Shore bears witness to the former wisdom, its release delayed for, gosh, three years due to minor edits, proofing, illustration, layout and – oh yes, that’s right – fatherhood. At long last, however, it is available for public consumption as a beautifully illustrated paperback novel, and I am very proud of both it and myself.

Back in late 2005, when I had completed my initial round of finishing touches and begun distributing spiral-bound copies to friends and family, I distinctly remember my chagrin that all and sundry were considerably more fascinated by my contemporaneous conception of a fetus than with my 84 000 words of darkly comedic swashbuckling adventure. This despite the fact that the former was unpremeditated and, with respect to my involvement in the process, took perhaps half an hour; whilst the latter had taken me all year and a considerable proportion of my intellect.

Rachel’s cousin Jessica designed the cover and produced the chapter illustrations, and to her, much thanks! She brilliantly captured both the gothic and period sensibilities of the text, and the result is IMHO marvelous, and will be an enormous complement to your coffee table / bookshelf, where you may wish to file it alongside some well-thumbed Penguin classics. Really, if you even vaguely tolerate the nonsense I pen here at semi-regular intervals, then you are pretty much guaranteed to enjoy my novel, which has benefitted from both an editor and a coherent plot. Learn more and read the first chapter online at They go, fly my children, spread the good words to the far corners of this globe!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Having assiduously avoided business travel for a year, I was well placed to snag a free mini-break on the coat-tails of a partnership opportunity in Boulder, Colorado. Prescient future readers of my yet to be written autobiography will be well aware that I have roots in Colorado - here dwell my self-styled American parents (Bob and Sharon Fryberger), here I lived for a year in total over three separate trips (1994, 1996 and 1998) and here I met my future bride. And much besides.

The flight into Denver was rough, to say the least, so much so that I was actually grateful for the inane discussion re 'dancing with the stars' taking place between the middle aged women seated on either side of me. As a word of caution to the frequent flyer, do not leave your laptop on a plane, and, if you do so, try and remember before you get to the terminal, and, in any event, refuse to believe the ground staff when they say they haven't found it. Laptop retrieved and body and soul still united, I made my way to the car rental office where the completely normative wait reminded me why I loathe business trips; endless hours spent in limbo even before you die...

Things improved from there on out, despite the Chevy Cobalt and the winter storm, everything went like clockwork, with Vanilla Sky like serendipity. I had a wonderful dinner with Bob and Sharon. My hotel, The Boulderado, celebrating its centenary this year, was one of the best I've ever stayed in. The business meetings went very well. The unrelenting snow was beautiful and not especially disruptive. I met up with my old roommate, John Dennett, and found him in rude health and great spirits; we had dinner at the remarkably authentic Brasserie Ten Ten. I also had a great lunch the next day with Robynn, Miles and Milesy Tripp, and found them much as I had left them (organized and very funny), even if Milesy is now as tall as I am. And I spent a lovely afternoon with my old friend Jessica, her husband Francisco and their charming and remarkably well-behaved tot, Max.

The only tinge of melancholy was felt on my pilgrimage to 'the hill' in Boulder where I met Rachel. The coffee shop where our eyes first met is no more, and I was forced instead to stare at the spot where it used to lie from the vantage of another such establishment on the opposite corner.

Pearl St, Boulder, CO

It's almost arty!

No trip to Denver is complete for me without a stop at The Market in downtown's Larimer Square. It's a little island of civilization in the Wild West. I love it despite the fact that I still vividly remember the moment I thought I'd lost Valerie Tripp here when she was just seven years old. She was of course completely fine and not at all lost, and I expect has no recollection of the non-incident.

Jessica and Max. Jessica and (the apparently continuously relaxed and amiable) Francisco once again completely refused to let me pay for dinner, much like everyone else I caught up with in Colorado. Thanks everyone - but seriously you guys, this has got to stop - it's OK, I have a job :-)