Back in the Water!


Picking up my first new board in about…9 years! With shaper Shawn Vecchione.

Picking up my first new board in about…9 years! With shaper Shawn Vecchione.


Where to begin with this?  I’ve been in love with surfing since day 1.  I paddled out for the first time at the age of 13 in icy February water and even though I was very slow on the uptake I’ve been stoked to be in the water ever since.  Surfing has taken me around the world, introduced me to some great friends, and helped me balance at times when it felt like everything else was out of control.  It also happened to inspire the Earl’s Big Adventure series.

Thanks to a couple of nasty shoulder injuries, I pretty much had to stop surfing in 2007, and was sidelined until 2014.  I didn’t talk about surfing much during those years, I wouldn’t watch surfing videos or read about just made me sad.  Two years ago I went and had my shoulder repaired and then worked hard at rehabbing it.  I started with physical therapy and then moved on to Muay Thai, which provided all the workout I could ever ask for.

This summer I was confident enough in my shoulder to get back into the water.  After a few surfs on my old equipment I realized it was holding me back.  I went and chatted with Cape Cod shaper Shawn Vecchione and he agreed that I was on the wrong board.  He worked with me to design a new board that would help me get my feet back under me.  I was looking for a performance shape that would forgive my mistakes.  Six weeks later, he had a beautiful 5’9 with my name on it and lined me up with a set of fins that he said would be perfect for my weight and build.

Back at it.  This photo was from the morning of our wedding.  Photo: Dan Brown

Back at it. This photo was from the morning of our wedding. Photo: Dan Brown

My first surf on it sealed the deal.  Me and a couple of good friends paddled out at a peaky shoulder high Cape Cod beach break by ourselves at sunrise and the board felt RIGHT.  Surfing felt the way it had felt 8 years before.  The next day I flew to Hawaii to get married and had a few good sessions there as well.  I was amped to get back into the dawn patrol routine and it was a lot of fun to have my family around to watch the process.  My parents watched me flail around when I was a kid trying to learn how to paddle, and hadn’t seen me in the water since then. My wife Patti had never really seen me surf.  It was so fun to be in the water and have them around for moral support.

Rolling deep. Family beach day!

Rolling deep. Family beach day!

Since coming back to surfing I’ve had a few great sessions, and a few maddeningly frustrating ones.  I’ve had a couple of memorable waves and a few sessions with good friends that were too fun for words.  I’ve found myself within petting distance of sea turtles and seals and been bounced off the bottom and rag dolled once or twice.   I’m most grateful to my family and to Patti for their support and encouragement.  I wanted to share this experience for others who may be dealing with the injury frustration and to say thank you to the folks who’ve helped me get back in the water.  A shout out to Elevation Physical Therapy for getting me strong, to UFAI for getting me fit and focused, and to Vec Surfboards for getting my equipment dialed in.   See you in the water.


Now Stocking Earl: check out Malabar


Downtown Vergennes

Downtown Vergennes

Yesterday we went for a drive to Vergennes, VT to visit Malabar.  Malabar’s motto is “live beautifully” and it is an appropriate one for sure.  They have a well curated selection of goods from all over the world in a light and airy space.  Owner Julie is super nice and very knowledgeable about her products.  I always struggle when it’s “Gift Shopping” time for others, but Malabar is definitely going to be at the top of my list.

I loved these plates

I loved these plates


Malabar is selling both Earl books.  If you’re in VT it is definitely worth a drive to check out Vergennes (Vermont’s smallest city).  Be sure to check out the french bakery Vergennes Laundry just three doors down from Malabar.  Trust me on this one…it’s the real deal.  See photo below for proof.

Coriander Roll

Coriander Roll

Fall in Vermont



Happy October everyone.  You know what they say about time flying by as you get older..well there may just be a grain of truth in that.  I recently had a birthday and one of my goals for the coming year is to re-invest myself in the Earl project.  The past year has had a lot of exciting changes, more on that in a minute, but unfortunately I neglected the monkey business.  Fortunately, Earl hasn’t gone anywhere.  I’m back and ready to talk books.

So a brief catchup since my last post, was it really all the way back in December? Shame on me.  Here are the Cliff notes.  My bionic shoulder is doing well. I worked crazy hard in PT and was able to snowboard a little by the end of the 2014 season. By summer I was able to get back to Muay Thai training. We moved to Burlington and I accepted a position in Dealer Service at Burton Snowboards just in time for the busy shipping season.  The learning curve at this job has been steep but very fulfilling as I adapt to my new role.

I also proposed to my girlfriend Patti.  She is a very talented pediatric nurse/custom lamp maker/baker extrodinaire and my general partner-in-crime.  We decided we’d do the wedding in 2015 and are trying to DIY that as much as possible.  All that experience catering weddings last summer is going to pay off as we do our own food.

As for Earl, I am looking to new ways to connect with potential readers (and their parents).  The bookstore model is challenging for the self-published author.  It’s up to me to use all of the tools available to connect with like minded folks looking outside the box for books. I am of course open to suggestions if you have any fun ideas. If you’ve made it this far, thank you so much for reading.  The first flakes fell on Mount Mansfield this morning…I wish you a great fall and winter!


Hanna’s Big Adventure in Vermont!


For the past 6 winters I have moved seasonally to Waitsfield, Vermont to work at Sugarbush Resort.  My trade?  Snowboard instructor extraordinaire.  Well this year November came around and once again I found myself loading up the truck.  Except there are some major differences.

First of all, this isn’t a winter-only move.  Patti and I have considered Vermont a second home for a long time and we have a ton of friends up here.  So we made the move a more permanent one.  We’re happy to be full time in a place that is so open to exploring the things we love, i.e. the outdoors, good food, lots of friends, winding roads etc.  We’ve settled into a cozy little apartment and have already enjoyed a lot of great meals with friends.

On another interesting note…I’m not teaching snowboarding this year.  I had my shoulder surgically repaired in October and the doc says no contact sports for a year. Yes snowboarding is a contact sport…at least the way I practice it.  I took a desk job at the resort which offers the opportunity to at least still surrounded by the excitement of people enjoying the snow as well as the chance to continue working with a lot of good friends.

What is interesting is all of the things I’ve been discovering in the absence of snowboarding.  Normally in the winter I ride..both on work days and off-days.  I’ve clocked 140 days on snow in a season.  This year that’s not happening, and its opening all kinds of other doors. Thanks to friends I’ve been hooked up with all kinds of snowshoe gear and I have been exploring the trail system here in the Mad River Valley.  I had no idea how much great stuff was literally outside my front door (actually a 30 second walk up the road but you know what I mean).

I got a nifty bright-as-hell headlamp for Christmas and I’m really excited to do some night snowshoeing once we get a little more snow on the ground.  Once the holiday week craziness at work subsides I’ll be back on the more frequent writing program…but in the meantime I thought it would be fun to give a little update.

Have a great New Years!


Shopping Locally for the Holidays

Support Local Art

Supporting the arts: one friend at a time.

The holiday shopping season is upon us or so I’ve been informed by a constant stream of commercial messaging being driven my way. That said I would like to take a moment to suggest shopping locally. VERY Locally…as in within your circle of friends.

I’m willing to bet that within your extended network of personal relationships you have friends who either create art or offer other services that would make much more personal gifts that something you ordered from your phone on your lunch break on Cyber Monday.

Think about the people in your life who create some kind of artwork…it could be painting, woodworking, photography, music, sculpture or writing.  I’ll be so bold as to guess you maybe like at least some of their artwork. Why not support them by buying it? Note: if you already do support your friends’ art projects keep doing what you’re doing. You rock. But many of us do forget to look right under our own noses to buy great works produced by friends. I’m guilty of it too.

Not into art?  What about other services? Massage, catering, lessons of all kinds…you get the idea.  ANY of these options can create a much more meaningful gift than something you picked up as a doorbuster deal at a chain store on Black Friday.

This is not to say you should run out today and start buying all your friends’ arts, crafts, and services (though I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if you did). This is more along the lines of taking a moment when you’re already shopping for a gift for someone to consider whether one of your friends’ projects might be perfect.  What could be more thoughtful than matching up a piece of art made by a friend to someone you want to give a gift to?

So where does the money go when you shop this way? Probably not to a new Porsche or designer clothes. Unless your friends are very successful artists the money most likely helps keep their dream alive. It pays for materials, studio time, and production costs.  Maybe it helps them advertise a little.  But the most important thing isn’t the money…Its that YOU supported them by buying their work.  It says to them that you value their work enough to think of purchasing it to give someone you care about rather than simply praising it.

Personally…I hear “oh I love your books” all the time from friends, and it means a lot to me. But when someone reaches out and says “I’d like to give one of your books to my niece or nephew” it feels totally different.  It makes me feel good about the books in an entirely different way.  That feeling inspired this post more than any hopes of selling a couple of extra books (although if you’d like some by all means get at me!) This year I’m going to make more of an effort to buy from friends. I’d also like to thank every friend, coworker, acquaintance and friend of a friend who’s purchased an Earl book along the way…Your support has been awesome.



Recommended Reading: Two Weeks in Costa Rica

Two Weeks in Costa Rica


Not long ago, two college classmates who I haven’t been in touch with for 10 years reconnected with me over Facebook and shared a book that they co-wrote about their adventures in Costa Rica.  I just finished reading it and it was really enjoyable for me on a couple of levels.  On the first I really liked comparing their perspective and interpretation of the country and culture to my own experiences.  On another level I found it impressive how well they managed to weave some basic but potentially very helpful travel tips in with their story.   The Amazon page for the book describes it as  “A travelogue with a guidebook twist,” a description that is pretty much dead on.  

Two weeks in Costa Rica began as a journal of their travels to Costa Rica, which they later developed into a book which they published in 2012.  As of 2013 they have since quit their jobs here in the cold Northeast and have permanently moved back to Costa Rica!  An awesome progression.  The book is written with the honest and wide eyed enthusiasm of two people experiencing and adapting to a very new place and culture.  I would recommend Two Weeks in Costa Rica as a light-reading supplement to the ordinary Fodor’s or Lonely Planet guidebooks for anyone planning their first trip to Costa Rica (or Central America in general).

The book is available in print or for kindle from Amazon.  Congrats to Jenn and Matt for both the book and making a big move! To keep up with their ongoing adventures check out their FB page

The One Armed Bandit is Back!

With my sister Jackie. 2 days after my surgery and 20 minutes after she fought in charity boxing event Haymakers for Hope.

With my sister Jackie. 2 days after my surgery and 20 minutes after she fought in charity boxing event Haymakers for Hope.

So much time since my last post! As is often the case, life got busy.  Thanks to a recent shoulder surgery (the result of several big mis-adventures) I now have plenty of time to write…which is good because typing with just my left hand is taking FOREVER. So lets get caught up.

zucchini whale!

zucchini whale!

I spent the summer working for a high end caterer on Martha’s Vineyard.  The job proved to be a great experience.  I got to work with and learn from some extremely talented people and explore a different side of the culinary business.  We made beautiful food for a wide variety of upscale events. September and October were busy with weddings and I worked right up until my surgery.

Repeated shoulder injuries and one unsuccessful repair years ago led me to get the job done right this time.  I had an open shoulder procedure last week and it went well. Its been a good first week. I’m getting out of the house, walking a lot, eating well and generally enjoying a beautiful New England fall. Physical therapy can’t start soon enough and I’m looking forward  to returning to my favorite sports better faster and stronger. Curious to see if i set off airport metal detectors.

And Earl?  My summer work schedule kept me from writing and promoting. I now have LOTS of free time so it’s back to work!

Happy Fall!