Cross-cut Trees

An accidental discovery helps map northern California’s portion of El Camino Real, the Royal Road linking California’s missions.

Not Silk, Plaid

When not intimidated by his second wife, James Black railed against her spendthrift habits. “I’ll not cover her back in silk out of my money,” he thundered during an atypically long monologue. After Black’s death in 1870, the oft-wed Widow Black traded her usual taffeta for a riotous plaid dress, immortalized in a luxurious settingContinue reading “Not Silk, Plaid”

Sea Otters: Dying to be Worn

Sea otters have the misfortune to be born with plush pelts boasting up to one million hairs per square inch. Hunters prized their skins as “blacker, thicker, and glossier” than their cousins: the beaver and land otter.  When fashion dictated the Manchu nobles of the Chinese Qing dynasty (1644-1912) dress in sea otter skins, the animals’ demise wasContinue reading “Sea Otters: Dying to be Worn”


Something went wrong. Please refresh the page and/or try again.


I can get carried away in research. Sometimes, I realize that what I’ve written, as fascinating as it is to me, doesn’t belong in my current book. Rather than murder my darlings, I decided to share my outtakes with you. I hope you like them as much as I did.

Subscribe to My Blog

Get new Outtakes delivered directly to your inbox. Don’t forget to check your email to confirm your subscription.

%d bloggers like this: