Showing posts with label Road Dogs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Road Dogs. Show all posts

22 March 2010


Lately there is a recurrent theme in my private circles about childhood and those places we came from. Coincidentally, in this month's Smithsonian magazine, Joyce Carol Oates wrote a beautiful piece about her home: Joyce Carol Oates Goes Home Again.

I have made previous reference to my own childhood as nomadic; my father served in the USAF and moved us at least once every year of my life until I was 13 when we landed in southern Idaho. It proved to be the longest stretch of time in my life up to that point in which I lived in one area. I attended both Shelley Jr. and Shelley Sr. High School and graduated in 1983.

Those years were often inglorious for me, but to be fair, they were not without light. Dickens's two cities had nothing on Shelley, Idaho. In the midst of turmoil and what would prove to be far-reaching developments, I also had some solid and joyful moments.

Most of the goodness in my memories comes from the kindness of people in my life: friends, teachers, coaches, piano and guitar instructors, sheepherders and horse handlers. And from the wind-swept, sun-warmed, rolling landscape of the foothills of the Rockies. On a clear day, the pristine tips of the Grand Tetons might peek over the hills to the east. To the west, the snub-nose of a cinder cone was the marker by which I gauged the setting sun's seasonal movement along the horizon. I spent many evenings in the back of my parents' house perched on the top bale of the haystack or up on the metal roof of the horse barn, hoping for the sun to land right in the center of the scooped out crater.

In the best of my dreams now, peace manifests as one of the frequent rides on horseback down the long country roads or across the freshly turned up wheat or potato fields, my gold and white dog, Topper, loping alongside.

Those memories still move me. Continue to inspire. Inform a foundation that sustains my beliefs of family, faith and, perhaps more significantly, love. Much of the character development in my writing reaches back and taps into those times, those people and the dynamics that swirled around my life.

If one writes what one knows, it is inevitable that the extension of place should touch each story. People I know, places and unfortunate ghosts reflect in my characters: Sandra and Howdy, Thad, Maverick and Sebastian, Wilson Taylor, Jack Melvin, Vincent, and the Wildish boys. None of these would exist without the people whose paths my own has crossed and perhaps re-crossed, for better or worse.

I am better for it all.


"I have sometimes sat alone here of an evening, listening, until I have made the echoes out to be the echoes of all the footsteps that are coming by and by into our lives."
~ Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

24 June 2009

i <3 ducks. really.

Definitely that is the saddest duck. Ever.

When I was about 15, I took my little sibs to the zoo at Tautphaus Park in Idaho Falls, Idaho, where we stood on the bridge that spanned the pond and fed the ducks the bread from our sandwiches. It was spring and there were so many fluffy new ducklings.

Until the bread attracted the attention of the giant zoo-fed trout or carp that rose up to the surface and snagged a little duckling by its little duckling foot along with the bread and dragged it to the muddy bottom and ate it. I think that one of my little sisters may still be traumatized by the entire event, thirty years later. (Sorry, Amy)

I wrote a tragic duck story into "Road Dogs" that was published in Etchings Issue 4 - The Art of Conversation (3/08) by Ilura Press. Here's an excerpt:

‘Welcome to my family.’

‘Welcome to life. Your family doesn’t have a corner on dysfunction.’

‘Dysfunction would be a step up for my family. Did I ever tell you about the ducks?’

My mother rescued a batch of baby ducks off of the road by our old house. I was eight. Mama duck had been hit by a car, and a dozen ducklings were milling around on the road next to her body. My mother brought them home in a cardboard box and called Animal Control, who advised her to release them. So she did, into Crystal Creek at the end of our block, where they were promptly sucked into a drainage culvert, disappearing one at a time into the iron grate, aligned and orderly, like mechanical carnival ducks on a string pulling straight through the heart of the current.

‘My mother actually saved the last one. We took it home and named it Soup. In the night, Soup committed suicide. Body-slammed against the bars of the cage. Peter and I renamed him Compost.’

‘Nice,’ Vincent says.

‘The neighbour asks about the birdcage on the porch. I tell him, “We found these ducks.” And my Mom says, “No we didn’t.” Cuts me off. Like it never happened. Wouldn’t even acknowledge it. Ever.’

Vincent’s eyes narrow and he nods his head. ‘PTDD,’ he says. ‘Post Traumatic Duck Disorder.’

‘Psychosis. All-American family dysfunction’

‘My mom shot my dad with his own service revolver. You don’t hear me crying dysfunction.’

I roll my eyes. ‘I met your parents,’ I say. ‘They live in Tucson.’

Vincent and Lena are two of my very favorite characters, so I was thrilled to have their story put into print. (And I do love the Australian formatting by Ilura Press.)

And I do love ducks.


06 March 2008

Road Dogs is in Etchings

"Road Dogs" is included in the newly released issue of Etchings: The Art of Conversation. This is Lena and Vincent's road trip from Portland to Denver and all thoughts between.

You can read more about it (and purchase your very own copy) at

Sherri H. Hoffman

15 January 2008

Etchings publication

"Road Dogs" has been accepted in print in the upcoming issue of Etchings: The Art of Conversation. The editor, Patrick Allington, sent me proofs yesterday and I made two changes and sent it back. I am very excited to see this particular story in print. Vincent and Lena are two of my most favorite and dear characters.

The history of this story is also tied back to the beginning of my second life. It is the first piece finished when I began to write again, working out some debilitating self-doubt. I remain ever grateful to Christy Krug from Wildfire Writing for her gentle, selfless, unwavering support while I exorcised my demons and began to heal. Not to be dramatic, but the experience changed my life.

Perhaps exactly why I love Vincent and Lena so much.