Appomattox +150


 Click Here for “Grant & Lee – The Final Interview” Limited Edition Fine Art Print

If you have any knowledge at all of American history, then the word “Appomattox” can only mean one thing: the end of the Civil War in April 1865.

Unfortunately, that’s a slight exaggeration.  Yes, on the morning of April 9, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee did meet with Federal Commander Ulysses S. Grant, and Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia, ending the war in the dominant theater of combat.  But that didn’t entirely end the war.

A recreation of Grant's final interview with Lee

A recreation of Grant’s final interview with Lee

The morning after Lee’s surrender, Grant and Lee met again.  This time on horseback, for roughly 30 minutes.  During that conversation, Grant tried to persuade Lee to use his influence on the other generals still in the field – most notably General Joseph E. Johnston, in command of what remained of the Confederate armies in the Western Theater – to likewise surrender their forces and end the War once and for all.

As much as he wanted the war to be over, Lee did not have the authority to speak for the other armies.  And though Appomattox is remembered through the centuries as the end of the war, Johnston did not surrender until April 26, and sporadic fighting continued in locations around the country well into the spring of 1865.  And, then, of course, there’s the KKK…

I spent several days in Appomattox, VA earlier this month, and have just compiled several galleries of photos taken during the recreation of those historic events 150 years ago.

Visit the galleries here:

Here are just a few of artistic impressions of the occasion:


I have published a new article to the Medium website:  death

It’s called Crazy/Healthy

“Dude, you are crazy healthy,” the anesthesiologist said after examining my chart. That’s also pretty much what the nurse said who had taken down the medical history. That’s what the doctor who was going to perform my procedure said.

First, to dispel any alarm: I was at this clinic early on a Wednesday morning in May for a routine ‘screening’ procedure — the sort of thing that a man in his mid 60s will have to endure as a consequence of having lived into his seventh decade, provided he harbors serious aspirations of living in to an eighth or even a ninth decade…

Click here to read the rest.

New Desktop Portals for June

Greetings, Time-and-Space Travelers,

I know, when I started this program I said I’d send out some new “desktop portals” every month.  I’m just a little slow on the uptake this month… but it is still June!

So I have two new images for your computer and mobile gizmo.

For your computer, I present the Beauly Priory, a small monastic ruin on a peninsula called “The Black Isle” near Inverness in the Scottish highlands.

Desktop-Beauly16-PA064846click here to download “Beauly Priory”

If you are a fan, you might recognize the site, which I just learned has been used as a location for the “Outlander” TeeVee Series.  It has an even greater signifance for me, personally – because in a very real sense, this is where “Portals Of Stone” began.  I first visited the site when touring Scotland with my wife in the fall of 2012, but I didn’t have nearly as much time as I wanted to photograph the ruins.  I remember very clearly thinking to myself as we drove away, “I need to come back here…” – which I did about six months later.For your mobile device, here is one of the very first portals that appeared after that return trip to Scotland in the spring of 2013:

This is looking out the main entrance of a ruin called Hermitage Castle in The Borders region of Scotland.  The castle served as fortress for a variety of families and has a somewhat colorful if brutal history; the site also figures prominently in the story of Mary, Queen of Scots, for it was here that the conspiracies that led to her undoing were first hatched.

Click here to see more of Hermitage and the other Castles and Abbeys from my 2013 expedition.

I hope you enjoy these images and you will download them and use them on your gizmos.

click here to download “Hermitage Stargate”

* * * *

Before I go, I have one other bit of news to share:

We probably met when you stopped by my installation at the “O” Gallery in the Arcade during one of the First Saturday Downtown Art Crawls over the past year or so.  So it is with some sad reluctance that I let you know that that installation will be coming down at the end of the month.  My last day there will be this coming Saturday, June 27.  I’ll be there from 1-4:00 PM, and after that I’ll be taking everything down.  If you’ve ever thought you might like to have one of these pieces to hang on your wall, come by Saturday and, well, you know… let’s make a deal…

I have no idea at the moment where I will display this work next, if anywhere, so if you’ve got any ideas or suggestions, by all means, pass them along.

I will try to get some more desktop files for you next month, but it’s already so late in June that I might just wait for August.  In the meantime…

Thanks, and see you “on the other side of the Portal…”


The One I Let Slip Away

In 1969 and 70, I was part of three crowds of more than a half-million people, including the massive demonstration to protest Nixon's invasion of Cambodia in May 1970.  So I'm in this picture, somewhere...

In 1969 and 70, I was part of three crowds of more than a half-million people, including the massive demonstration to protest Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia in May 1970. So I’m in this picture, somewhere…

Not sure where to begin this.. so I’ll start with this llink:

The One I Let Slip Away

….and offer this by way of explanation:

A couple of months ago, I was suddenly inspired to revisit “the archives” – two large Rubbermaid tubs filled with paraphernalia that I started accumulating in the late 1960s… during my senior year in high school, and my first year attempting to go to college.

I don’t remember now exactly what motivated me to dig into those archives, but getting in there has been something of a turning point.

I look at the stuff in that now and realize I sent myself a time capsule from 1969.  And in that time capsule are the beginnings of a (partly fictional?) memoir about coming to age at the end of the 1960s.  That’s what I’ve been working on for the past couple of months – a book that I started writing 45 years ago.  What I’ve posted above is an excerpt…

Two weeks ago I dove into a stack of letters from a girlfriend I met during that period, and the experience was unexpectedly visceral.  I tried to capture the essence of that experience in a couple of pages of free-form verse, which I published to this morning in the piece I linked above.

In that post I think I found the emotional heart of what I’ve been working on.

Beyond that, probably the less said, the better.

A Pilgrim Amid The Ruins

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 11.27.43 AMIt turns out that mostly what newborn babies do is sleep (and eat and poop, but who’s counting?).

Which means there is a lot of time to fill when hanging out with a newborn.

So I used the time to work on something I’ve been thinking about for a while:  I’ve joined a site called “Storehouse” which makes it really easy to create and share photo essays.  I’ve been thinking about compiling an post about the day I spent at Fountains Abbey last October, and finally got around to doing just that while we were in Portland.

So have a look at “A Pilgrim Amid The Ruins” on Storehouse.

Scotch Mist’s Greatest Hits
(music from 1982)


Sailing off the coast of Maui on the original Scotch Mist in 1982

Well, that was ridiculously easy…

In the 1980s, I lived in Hawaii and owned/operated a yacht charter service out of Lahaina Harbor on Maui. The boats were called “Scotch Mist” – the name bestowed by the original owner who sailed his Cal 36 sloop in a race from Victoria, BC to Maui in 1970. I acquired the boat/business in 1980, and in 1982 added another boat, the Santa Cruz 50 “Scotch Mist II.”

Sometime in 1982, I put together a mixtape of island and sailing songs – the old fashioned way: by dropping a needle into a vinyl groove, then recording the track onto a reel-to-reel tape. Stop the tape, find the next track, cue the tape, drop the needle, rinse and repeat a couple dozen times. It took about two days…

Last night I saw the name Danny O’Keefe in a thread that J Fred Knobloch started about great guitar solos. I recognized the name because a song called “Islands” – from his 1973 LP “American Roulette” – was one of the tracks in that “Scotch Mist” mix tape I assembled in 1982.

After finding “Islands” on Spotify, it occurred to me to see if I could find the same tracks and build a playlist on Spotify. I found all but one (Mark Almond, “Trade Winds”).

It took, oh, maybe 15 minutes to search for every track in the list and add them to a playlist, which is posted here for your “summer has arrived / Memorial Day weekend” musical enlightenment:

Social Media, According to Donuts

Killing some time before heading to the Portland airport for the return flights to Nashville last week, we stopped at a place called Blue Star Donuts in the trendy North Mississippi Avenue section of the city. We split an apple cider donut, and then I saw this on the wall:
Social Media Donut Code #Portland #MississippiAve

Welcome, Juniper Rae

If you’re wondering why no digest last week…. this is why.
Ann’s son Robert and his wife Melissa have been expecting their first child – and our first grandchild, to arrive around May 21.  But May 5, word came that Melissa’s labor had begun;  Ann flew up two days later, just in time to greet baby Juniper Rae Stout within hours of her birth.
I flew up to join the new family a week later, and got this photo of Ann holding the baby by a window.  There’s a bit of pretzel logic going on here:  I’m holding a reflector in my LEFT hand, shining the window light back from somewhere around my RIGHT hip, and I’ve got the camera cradled in my RIGHT hand, also at hip level, and firing the shutter with my thumb.
Whatever it takes to get the shot…

@shotgun49 with her first Grandchild, Juniper Rae w @milsa and @bertmcgurck

Fountains Abbey At Twilight

I recently joined a Facebook group called “England from the Roadside” and submitted this as one of my first posts to the page:

Fountains Abbey – Yorkshire, England@Welcome2Yorks @GreatBritain @instagood

more at
#medieval #UK #medievalworld #UnitedKingdom #GreatBritain #travel #ig_europe #photooftheday #thebest_capture #ig_masterpiece #nuriss_tag #architectur #travel #awe_inspiringshots #pro_ig #global_highlights #igworldclub #ig_select #editoftheday #capture_today #waycoolshots #featuremeinstagood @instagood #igcapturesclub #ig_masterpiece #ig_great_pics
©2015 aka @driver49

Free “Portals” for your Computer Desktop and Mobile Gizmo

The 1861 Project
Greetings, Regular Readers and Subscribers:

This is a message that I sent out at the beginning of April to the subscribers to a new list I’ve created just for my “Portals Of Stone” collection of photoart.

Every month, I’m going to send out a pair of images from the collection in a format suitable for display as “wallpaper” on your computer desktop or mobile device.  

It suddenly dawns on me that most who visit this site or subscribe to the Weekly Digest should have the same opportunity as the subscribers to my other list.

For April, I offered the following two images:

The first one is the one called “GPS Failure.”  As in “Uhhh…. Honey… I don’t think the GPS is gonna do much good in another mile or so….”

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 10.32.22 AMClick here to download “GPS Failure.” This one is laid out in a horizontal format, and will look great on your computer desktop.

“GPS Failure” is from my expedition to the ruins in the spring of 2013.  Here’s a newer one from my return in the fall of 2014:  This is the ruins of the great cathedral in St Andrews, Scotland.  In its day (like the middle of the 15th century) St. Andrews was the largest church in all of Scotland.  Now it is (in the words of Tywin Lannister…) “just a blasted ruin…” (extra credit if you know what that line is from, or what he was referring to).

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 10.31.59 AMClick here to download “St. Andrews.” This one has a mostly-vertical aspect ratio, and will look great on your phone or tablet.  I’ve had it on my iPhone for a week now and think it looks pretty cool.

April was the first month that I offered these files, and there will be some new ones come the first week of May.  Hopefully, I’ll remember to post something here with that news.

But you might consider hoping over to and signing up for the new list over there, Let me know if there is a particular image you’d like to have configured this way.
Thanks, and see you “on the other side of the Portal…