A very brave cat

I dropped out of college in 1970 to paint, showing my abstracts at sidewalk shows for a couple of seasons which naturally enough led to marriage, formation of a rock band, a career as a general (GREEN) contractor, a stint as editor of a literary journal, winning the 1993 Southeast Poetry Slam, ten years as a syndicated columnist and radio commentator, creating the Warren Wilson College enviro journal Heartstone, Mountain Xpress managing editorship, and election to Asheville City Council in 2009. I returned to painting in the mid-00s. Since leaving Council I’ve focused on writing and music and kept up a part time business as a Mr. Fixit.

Today I am drawn to realism: land- and water-scapes, decaying barns and chickens. Lots and lots of chickens. In 2016 I commenced to paint a series of sunsets from places where I’ve watched the sun set—from Key West To Alaska and Mazatlan to Newfoundland. And to Unrealism in the form of meta-fiction.

In 2000 I decided to start publishing books and decided to call my company Brave Ulysses Books. Brave Ulysses was my very best cat ever, the runt of a 9 kitten litter, and so-named to give him courage. Sadly, he was killed by an idiot with a gun when he was only 10 years old. Here, he lives on.


In the past 20 years I have published fifteen of my own titles , and published or facilitated publication of four other authors.


Cede Catalogue: giving it all away

The next in my parade of mischief, this one was inspired by a catalogue, as you certainly can imagine, from a local company called Sow True Seeds. The protagonists in these tales all yield in one way or another. (As the cover indicates this one has a record-breaking 378 footnotes!)

Person giving up

From the opening story

Sew True Cedes

I don’t think there ever are. True ones, I mean. They’re inherently reluctant. Anything ceded is, ipso facto, something that someone didn’t want to yield, else it would be “gifted.”

Does that make sense? What I’m driving at here is that if a person truly gives something up it suggests a heartfelt letting go, which one does with a gift but not a concession. A concession is extracted, like a tooth, and face it: No one goes into a serious dental procedure full of glee. (Well, maybe after nitrous?)

But here I’ve set myself up (see story title above) with the task of stitching together some sort of fictional quilt out of whole cloth regarding the up-giving of something or another. That’s the name game I play, starting with a title for a book that forces my hand—or my pixels, I guess—demanding something like 200 pages devoted to the beast thus conjured.

It’s a difficult task, to be sure. But someone has to do it.

Truth be told, I don’t honestly believe very many are up to the job. I mean to say, “I’ve been around the block a few times.”

Here I’m throwing myself into the breach. Think of me as a sacrificial lamb fed raw to the ravenous muse of fiction.

Or, hey, a scapegoat. Whatever gets ceded from here on in? Blame me. I can handle it.


Self-Evident: We Hold These Tooths

More of what you came for!

“I think it goes without saying—which is, of course, ever and always a lead-in to saying what the speaker has just told you didn’t need to be said in the first place—that it is the unvarnished tooth that draws our attention. Am I right? Of course I’m right.

“Sometimes, I’ll be the first to admit, it is “tooth and claw” (italics mine) that rivet us. “Red” said Tennyson and he was occasionally on point, but I submit it is the tooth that most bemuses us. As I faithfully recorded in “Jack,”1 when I was on that rocky ledge looking down and the bear was looking up at me the claws were an afterthought.”

1See Fifty Wheys to Love Your Liver, p. 59 (Fiction, yes, but faithfully recorded.)

You see? Of course you see. So, order already!


13, really? My 13th book? Waist Not Want Knot

So, lucky or not, here we go again. Another collection of improbable stories. But, actually, did you expect better? Really? Am guessing the Trumpidemic and its attendant seclusion has gone viral.
The latest eruption from my fevered head revolves around midriffs, stretch pants, rigging, rope, quipus, and what knot. This time with more than 256 footnotes to amuse and confuse (257, actually.) There’s an excerpt below the pic.

small cover

Waist Not, Want Knot (the title story of this collection)

—Let’s get the nitty gritty out of the way at the outset. This story is not about waists or knots. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a heathen and a cheat.

If you bought this book under the impression that it would contain pop-diet information, something about how to lose ten pounds in ten days, or help in acquiring the Boy Scout Pioneering Merit Badge, perhaps a diagrammatic exposition of the Bowline or the Trucker’s Knot, you are going to be severely disappointed. Though, truth be told, if you haven’t mastered the Trucker’s Knot by now you are a sad, sad case and have likely lost numerous valuable items from your roof rack or pickup bed.

If you have not yet lost numerous valuable items from your roof rack or pickup bed, trust me, it is only a matter of time.

More than a few of you likely saw the word “waist” in the title and immediately pictured an attractive young woman being sawn in half by a stage magician. We might as well nip that one in bud as well. No magic here.1

On the other hand, if you stumbled in here with an open mind and low expectations you might be pleasantly surprised.


1But have you ever considered how many assistants those guys go through before they finally “get it right?”


More Moo

Front cover of Bothwell's latest short story collection.
Bothwell’s 12th book

Cecil is at it again with another collection of short stories. This time with more than 100 footnotes to titillate and delight! The perfect gift for readers in a hurry with one story contained within a brief paragraph!
Within these pages you’ll meet an electrician/goatherd with a “steer”ing problem, an inflated whistle blower, the woman left behind in The Last Train to Clarksville, a ball player with a big head, an art thief, Johnny Appleseed’s spiritual heir, the patron of an unusual library, unsuspecting sisters of different mothers, and more.

Here’s one story in its entirety! When’s the last time that happened?

It goes without saying

We all knew it would happen, or at least suspected as much. Given the circumstances, the proximity, the who, and the who knew who. The how. Particularly after what transpired the day before. No, make that two days before. That would have been the twenty-fifth.

I mean, if you couldn’t see that coming … no, I don’t mean you, personally, but “one,” though that one could be you. If the shoe fits, dear heart. But if one couldn’t see that coming, one had to be intentionally looking the other way.

Sometimes of course it is easier to look away than to face facts, particularly uncomfortable facts. Or incontrovertible and boldly graphic facts. Think bar graph where the bar over here on the right is a whole lot shorter, indicating real change. Facts that make one (you?) choose sides, when neutrality seems far safer.

There are a whole lot of fence sitters on this planet, with one leg in each pasture, so to speak, unwilling to take a stand what with their feet a foot off the ground, or each foot a foot, meaning that in one context they are arguably two feet up. Lucky indeed to be seated on the flat edge of a split rail, rather than, say for example, on a run of barbed wire. Ouch! Ready to go one way or the other as needed to maintain plausible deniability.

“No officer, I was over on this side the whole time.”

Not that there are officers involved.


So as the whole thing unfolded like a paper crane uncreased to its pre-origamic pristine squareness, as the true nature of the substance of the situation was rendered plain as the Wonder Bread® Mom used for your PB&Js, right there, nakedly exposed, for you to examine, corner to corner, obverse and reverse, proximal and distal, I heard someone say “See?”

It was not at all clear to the rest of us whether your nod indicated mild agreement or slight puzzlement.

I think it would be accurate to say that anyone who has followed the whole sorry affair to this point shares my concern. This is not a happy situation.

But we’ve gotten to the bottom of it now. Am I right?

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Fifty Wheys to Love Your Liver

Cecil Bothwell delivers another improbable batch of short fiction. Deadly serious or wildly funny they cascade from his faulty noggin like lava into a community swimming pool. Relationships run afoul of disparate musical taste: Paul Simon or Bob Dylan? Angie has lists, lots of them. Almost no one in a work share co-op is satisfied with their trades and a bike shop owner ponders cosmology while adjusting brakes and chains. Oh, and then there’s the crocodile.
Brave Ulysses Books, 2018, $16

Order yours here!


Sunsets I have seen

Currently doing a series of sunsets I have seen over the years, across the continent. The date in the title is the last time I saw the scene, the date following is the date I did the painting.

Newington, NH, 1995, 16×20″, oil on canvas, 2016, in the collection of cartoonist David Cohen


Hilton Head 1995, 16 x 20″, oil on canvas, 2016


Oregon Inlet 1997, 30 x 42″, oil on canvas, 2016


Newfoundland 1999, 16 x 20″, oil on canvas, 2016, in the collection of David and Deanna LaMotte
Michigan City Pier, 1957, oil on canvas, 2016
childhood memory
Port Washington, NY, 1964, 24 x 36″, oil on canvas, 2017, in the collection of Pat and Gary Cole


Islamorada 2004, 16 x 20″, oil on canvas, 2017, in the collection of Carey Bothwell Bishop


Land Between the Lakes, 1997, oil on canvas, 16″x20″, 2016


golden gate
Golden Gate 1993, oil on canvas, 14″x18″, 2017, in the collection of Leslee Ann Reiter


Rainier 1980, oil on canvas, 16″x20″, 2017


wood storks
Port Charlotte 1982, oil on canvas, 24″x36″, 2017


Haystacks 2005, oil on canvas, 24″x36″, 2016
south carolina
Beaufort, 1987, oil on canvas, 9″ x 12″, 2017
Parkway South of Asheville, oil on canvas, 2018
St. Paul Sunset, oil on canvas, 2017, in the collection of the van Lengerich family of St. Paul, Minnesota.


The same river twice

The French Broad River may be the oldest on the planet. It predates the mountains here, which rose up as the river continued to carve its way down. Like any such watercourse the level changes constantly, but thanks to the mountainous terrain in the drainage area the flow can change dramatically in a very short time. Painting at the Ledges for a few hours I have watched as more and more rocks were exposed as the water receded. In any event, painting the river is a constant challenge and an endless pleasure. The first three paintings below are: Below the Ledges, Painting below the Ledges, and the Ledges in August.

Below the Ledgespainting below ledgesLedges in Augustbroad river

The painting on the bottom is a rocky shoal on the Broad River which drains a valley in southeast Buncombe County. While the French Broad flows north and west (to the Tennessee, to the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico), the Broad River flows south and east to the Rocky Broad and eventually to the Atlantic. Below is Sunrise over Broad River (A view from Chimney Rock State Park).

chimney rock sunrise


Barns in decline

Barns are going away, here and around the country. Since the advent of hay rollers, farmers don’t keep bales stashed in a loft any longer. They pile the rolls and cover them with plastic tarps, or simply leave them exposed to the weather. (Outer layers are spoiled by rain, but the inner hay remains okay.) Tobacco farmers are getting out of the nicotine trade, so drying barns are coming down. Some old barns are dismantled for the old wood, many others are left to the elements. Tragically, as I update my Web site on Nov. 21, 2021, four ancient barns in Buncombe County fell victim to arson, fortunately the hooligans/felons have been rounded up by the sheriff, so other barn owners can rest a bit easier. I don’t know (yet) if any of the one’s I’ve painted were torched.

53Olds Rust and Ruin AddisonvineyardAfter Tobacco

For a painter, the old barns offer a great excuse to spend some hours in the countryside.

Rust and Ruin2Madison County Sunday MornThe Red Axe

Old red roof

For more artwork, visit my Pinterest Page.

Retired, oil on canvas, 2018
Curious in Barnardsville, oil on canvas, 2019

Can we have archaic and idiot? 2

A quirky collection of short stories written between 1999 and 2009. Meet a research assistant with a glass eye and a fellow with two left feet, a group of corporate lawyers stranded in the Canadian wilderness, a math teacher challenged to a glacial duel, a postal worker with a wicked golf swing, a man who comes home to find he has three roommates (!) who don’t speak English, a woman who designs fireworks displays and  other everyday folk.

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