Look at all the dust in this dump.

Thanks for your comments, everyone. This one really hit hard, and continues to. Even though I expect that hurt to last a very long time, one thing I know for sure is that Paul wouldn't want me to be sad, so I'm doing my best not to be.

Toward that end, I'm going to pick up this place a little and get back into the groove. Not tonight, but perhaps this weekend. I'm just trying to figure out exactly how to proceed.

Oddly, things are starting to look a little brighter, and I guess it's in my nature to find humor in things, even when there might not be much to laugh at. Paul was the same way, and one big reason we were such good friends.

I may start with a ghost story. I'm not sure yet.

Anyway, thanks for waiting, and thanks for the words of sympathy, encouragement and kindness.

See you soon.


Rivendell awaits.

My best friend died yesterday.

I type those words, and I simply cannot believe they're true. Even though I stood in a room at the hospital for hours, his body on a gurney three feet in front of me, it still doesn't seem real. I feel like I could pick up the phone right now and call him, and in 15 minutes we'd be drinking coffee together and talking about our latest shop projects -- his of forged steel and mine of wood. He was a swordsmith, and his swords were functional works of art -- my lacquered wooden scabbards simply trying to keep up. I know he probably could have found a professional to make them, but he wanted them to be ours. That he is no longer in this world, and no longer in my life is inconceivable to me.

I'm not sure how you sum up in a few paragraphs a friendship that spanned 33 years. It's just not possible. When you meet by chance in 7th grade, you are friends of circumstance more than anything else. Something as simple as seating students in alphabetic order, picking the teams in gym class, or even the random assignment of adjoining lockers can determine who your friends are in high school. If you are lucky, at least one friendship will take root and last throughout your high school years, and you will have someone who can join you in a united front against your own burgeoning adolescence. You have each other's backs, and somehow you make sense of it together. That single friendship can shape you in your formative years, and to a large extent it can determine the kind of person you will become.

For that friendship of circumstance to take hold, blossom and then strengthen over the course of three decades is a rare thing indeed, and I know how lucky I am. It's a true gift, and one that I will never take for granted.

A friendship like that is one of firsts -- first girlfriends, first cars, first breakups, first jobs and first marriages. We were there for each other through all of those things, and many, many more. We were closer than brothers, and I truly couldn't have asked for a better friend. He had the heart and soul of a warrior, and a fierce loyalty to those he loved.

At a little after 7:00 am Saturday morning, he responded to an e-mail I had sent him the night before, referencing a Bill Whittle essay. We were supposed to get together for coffee later that morning, as we had on countless weekends past. He had picked out a particular quote from the essay and sent it back to me. The quote was this:

"From this transformational experience I learned something new and re-learned something old: first, a dream becomes a goal once you make a viable plan and stick to it, and second, the single most important thing you do in life is choose your friends."

Two hours later, he was gone. I didn't get his e-mail until later that morning, after it was too late to reply. Too late to tell him what a great friend he was, and how much he meant to me. Too late to say goodbye.

He had so much left to do. We had so much left to do together.

I will miss him every day for the rest of my life.

I'm going to take a break for a while. I'll see you guys on the flip side.


My next recurring nightmare. Shrubmonks.

They might not look that scary in this daytime picture, but try walking past them on a foggy, moonlit night at about 2 am when the only sounds you hear are the rustling of their filthy cloaks and the echo of your own footsteps.

They will reach out their shrubby arms and pull you inside them, where you will meet The Things That Live In The Branches.

Sleep well.


Wow. I'm a little verklempt.

Thank you all for your amazing comments.

I don't know what else to say, so I'll leave it at that. You guys are great.

(and one more picture, sorry.)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.