The text and paintings on The Trowbridge Chronicles are taken from the illustrated journal of Violet Trowbridge, a shrew that once lived in a village deep in the Olympic Rain Forest. Each new post will represent a portion of Mrs. Trowbridge’s journal.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Tomorrow my wife and I will embark on our most exciting Trowbridge expedition to date. It all started when I received a tip from a noted New Zealand archeologist who is an expert in ancient Oceania cultures. He provided me with strong evidence of long-forgotten Trowbridge shrew civilizations in a number of remote South Sea Islands.

It has been my theory that, going backwards across many centuries, Trowbridge civilization began in the Mongolian Steppes, and in the mountainous regions of China. Over eons of time, the shrews of old “leap frogged” to the Americas by way of the South Sea archipelagoes. Their means of travel may have been as stowaways on human sailing vessels. Or they may have used their hot air balloons as a mode of trans-island transport, as has been discussed in previous Trowbridge Chronicles episodes.

Our research team will be visiting some of the South Pacific’s most remote islands. At present our sights are set on Aitu Taki, and possibly Mangaia, two islands where tiny mysterious petroglyphs have been found on black volcanic boulders (see pictures) at the edge of the jungle, near the lagoon shoreline.

I hope to bring back and present some exciting photographic evidence that would advance my Leap frog Theory. The next Trowbridge post should be an exciting one. Stay tuned.

Perhaps these photos look familiar. If they do, it’s because this is where Survivor Cook Islands was filmed. In a few days we’ll be standing on the very same remote islands, Paputa and Moturakau, where the Survivors endured their grueling 39 day challenge. Several Trowbridge petroglyphs have been found on these and other tiny “motus”, part of the Aitu Taki atoll.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Sometimes it's the little things that make a big difference. What if I would have been born in Hoboken , New Jersey, or Muleshoe, Texas? If that were the case, there would have never been a Trowbridge Chronicles. The Trowbridge realm lies beyond those snow-capped mountains, the Olympic Mountains, in the northwest corner of Washington State.

It was in the Quinault Rain Forest deep in the heart of the Olympic wilderness that I discovered that tiny illustrated journal beside a stream known as Wild Rose Creek. As some of you know, the mossy banks of this creek was once the bustling rain forest village of Huckleberry Hollow. It was here that Mrs. Trowbridge lived, scribed, painted, and raised a family.

The pastoral valley in the foreground is the Dungeness Valley, and the town of Sequim (pronounced Skwim), my hometown. This isn't just another Northwest timber town. This lovely spot on the coastal plain between the Olympic Mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca was voted one of America's Seven Shangri Las. People come from near and far seeking their little piece of paradise in this verdant valley that boasts only 16 inches of rain per year.

Modern times have brought considerable change to the valley. The gray grain elevator on the right is now a Mexican restaurant. Yes, there's a Wal-Mart on the west end of town, and a big-name hotel on the east side. If you want to see Sequim before it becomes Paradise Lost, you better hurry.

The beautiful photograph below was taken by my good friend and hiking partner, Ross Hamilton, one of Washington's premier photographers. If you would like to see more of Ross' photographs of the Olympic wilderness, check out his web site at:

Friday, November 30, 2007


Are you starting to wonder if you'll survive another holiday season? Your spare time is devoted to Christmas shopping and getting ready for arriving relatives.

As our culture becomes more consumed with excess, with iPods, Wiis, and large screen TVs, I hope that you can find a way to focus on the things that really matter...on sharing, caring, and the reason that we celebrate Christmas, the Christ Child. Merry Christmas to you.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


It's hard to believe that we've been with Shrew Khan and his comrades in the desert of Zur for two weeks shy of a year. Hats off to Keno for all the pain and misery that he's endured on a scale that I could never imagine... just to keep us entertained. He surely must be delighted that our story has reached its conclusion. If anyone deserves a two-week all expense paid vacation to the Mongolian Riviera, it's Keno. So we return for one last time to the desert outpost of Giloh as our story comes to a close...

Friday, October 19, 2007


A million tales have been told among the shrews of the Mongolian Steppes, of life and death in the scorching desert, of battles won and battles lost, of heroes and heroines. The tales of Shrew Khan, his brother Emperor Nang, and Khan's faithful compatriot, Keno, are among the most retold of all the Trowbridge shrew stories. We are nearing the conclusion of one of Mrs. Trowbridge's many Shrew Khan stories.

Keno, who we have come to know and love, has been the hero of this story. His adventure at the Imperial City of Shomu tested his mettle and made him grow stronger as a shrew and a warrior.

Keno and Emperor Nang have "dropped in" at the desert fortress at Giloh, only to find that Shrew Khan and his comrades are nowhere to be found. Did we come this far in the story just to find that Khan is missing in action? I hope not. Let's find out...

Sunday, October 07, 2007


Thank you all for your condolences regarding my father's recent passing.

The Khan Chronicles story is winding to a close, and I'm open for suggestions. If you would like The Trowbridge Chronicles to return to the rain forest where it began, voice your opinion. Perhaps you would like to continue with our desert saga. Mrs. Trowbridge wrote more episodes of the Khan Chronicles. Part Two is entitled In Pursuit of the Phantom Mongol.

If you would like to switch back and forth, that's also a possibility. That's sort of what we've been doing lately. Your comments could have an impact on the future direction of Trowbridge.

Finally Keno has returned to Giloh to serve his commander, Shrew Khan...if he can find him. Our story resumes...

Monday, October 01, 2007


The blues and lavenders of the scorching desert mountains contrast sharply with the red and yellow of the flaming balloon as it drops onto the desert floor. The emperor has landed! But where is Shrew Khan? Is he dead, or alive? The saga continues...

Saturday, September 15, 2007


In case you have wondered why Trowbridge posts have slowed down recently, my father just passed away last Saturday. I've been occupied on weekends at his bedside over the past few weeks.

Mrs. Trowbridge wrote often about their favorite vacation spot, Crescent Sea Stack, on the North Channel. It was also a favorite wedding spot, as you might imagine...if you're a shrew, that is. This stack is typical of the many sea stacks on the north Washington coast, the longest remaining stretch of wild beach in the lower 48. This rugged, primeval coastline boasts more sea stacks than anywhere else in America.

Mrs. T. painted this scene in mid-morning, just as the fog was beginning to lift. I am always amazed at the painting skills that she displayed. She painted the fog so seamlessly that it would appear that she used an airbrush. But her principle media was watercolors. She ground the pigments herself, using raw materials that she gathered from the rain forest.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Can you imagine what it must have been like to be the captain and torch bearer of the Royal Hot Air Balloon as it plummeted to earth in a fiery free-fall ...with the emperor of the ancient Trowbridge shrew kingdom aboard? Yet no matter what the situation, it seems that Keno always comes through and saves the day. But how long can his luck hold out? Only time will tell. Our story resumes...

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Our story is slowly inching its way to a possible reunion between Keno and Shrew Khan. It has been many weeks since we have seen Khan. By now he could be missing...or worse. And things don't look so good for the passengers in the Imperial War Balloon either. And you think that YOU are having a bad day...

Meanwhile, back at the rain forest, Mrs. Trowbridge has written a poem about her nighttime walks. She loved walking in the forest at night. Trowbridge shrews are noctural creatures, you know. She wrote a lot of poems in her journal. I should have shared this one with you earlier in the summer, sometime in June, to coordinate with the poem. Perhaps I'll share more of her poetry with you in future episodes. This is one of my favorites...

by Violet Trowbridge

Sometimes at dusk I climb the hill
to watch the stars appear.
The trail is steep, the brook is deep,
the air is crisp and clear.

The sunset casts as eerie spell
upon the earth below.
The peaks are dressed their summer best
in gleaming alpenglow.

The evening sky is lavender
with shades of amber gold.
The sun goes down, the colors fade,
the mountain wind turns cold.

Just o'er the hill the crickets sing
in four-part harmony.
What do I hear just up the creek?
A bullfrog symphony

My special place up near the top
is like a long-lost friend.
It's always there, come foul or fair
around the misty bend.

On nights like this I come to watch
the twinkling starlight show.
The moon climbs high up in the sky.
Its light is soft and low.

The moonbeams dance on drifting tufts
of blowing thistledown.
The flowers gleam like precious stones
upon a monarch's crown.

I gaze across the Milky Way
and dream of days gone by.
Then suddenly a shooting star
streaks across the sky.

The day I met my Woodrow
replays across my mind.
The night that my first litter came,
it follows close behind.

I make my way back down the hill.
My lantern is the moon.
It will be here when I return
some starry night in June.

Friday, July 20, 2007


I was reading through Mrs. Trowbridge's poetry the other night and one particular poem, a haiku about a Coast mole, prompted me to take you back to where the Shrew Khan story and all the other stories the rain forest village of Huckleberry Hollow.

If you're not familiar with the haiku, it's a simple poem consisting of three lines. The first line contains five syllables, the second seven, and the third five syllables. With these limitations, the poem must convey the message very simply. Mrs. T was a master, or should I say, a mistress of the haiku, as evidenced by this poem that she wrote about her Coast mole neighbor, Phinneas, who lived just down the path:

Mole, he burrows deep
to find some fat grubs to munch
Does he ever sleep?

Several months ago I posted this page, but it was one of Mrs. Trowbridge's sketch pages. I thought you might like to see her full color page.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Since the last episode when the war balloons were introduced, many have inquired about the inventor of the shrew hot air balloon. He was briefly mentioned in a recent episode, but few details were given. Mrs. Trowbridge mentioned him frequently in her historical writings but unfortunately she never sketched him. His name was Ajith Gee. Mrs. T described him as a peculiar looking erudite individual with a squatty body and an especially long snout---"geeky" might best describe him in the modern vernacular.

The shrew hot air balloon was but one of his many inventions. He was a prolific innovator, notable in the ancient shrew world for creating numerous devices that became a part of the shrew culture during the Nang Dynasty, and up into the time of Mrs. T's writings. Perhaps in another episode we will discuss some of Gee's other noteworthy inventions.

So now our story takes to the sky...but where and how will it land? We shall see...

Friday, June 22, 2007


Mrs. Trowbridge was an ardent student of shrew history. She stated more than once in her writings that the royal assault on Giloh was the first use of hot air balloons in recorded Trowbridge shrew history. So the Nang Dynasty is credited with the invention of the hot air balloon as a means of shrew travel. I wish I could have been there to witness the grand event. It must have been a most remarkable day.

Did anyone catch the clue that Mrs. Trowbridge left in her story regarding the impending balloon assault? In the episode of May 18, Emperor Nang stated that "the winds have shifted...the time is right." You may also recall the Wind Riders episode of November 1, 2006 where the concept of balloon travel among shrews was introduced.

Some have asked why the emperor chose his bright royal red for the color of the balloons. This is a reasonable question. The red certainly doesn't offer any kind of camouflage against the desert sky. But Emperor Nang knew what he was doing when he selected the bright color, for he was aware that shrews have poor vision. Their eyesight only extends out a few meters, so the color of the balloons had no strategic significance.

After all these months of Keno in captivity, I hope you're as happy as I am to break out of the dungeons and hospital rooms. Finally it appears that the conflict in our story line is reaching a resolution. But there are still unanswered questions. What has become of Shrew Khan and his forces? Are they still alive? Our story resumes...

Friday, June 01, 2007


My paradise would be to spend a summer in the Quinault Rain Forest with Mrs. Trowbridge and her family in Huckleberry Hollow. Since that would require a trip in a time machine I will remain content to be the keeper of the Chronicles.

My Trowbridge trip destination last summer was Shi Shi Beach, a remote beach on the Pacific Coast in Washington State. Some of you may remember that Trowbridge episode. This summer I hope to make my third trip in to Wild Rose Creek on the Quinault River, where Huckleberry Hollow once was. This year perhaps we will stay overnight there. In past years we've camped at Wolf Bar, a couple miles below Huckleberry Hollow. It's a lovely spot in a sea of sword ferns near the banks of the Quinault River.

But enough about've been waiting to find out what Emperor Nang has in store for Keno. I have a feeling that it's something most amazing. Our story resumes...

Friday, May 18, 2007


Signs of hope are beginning to appear in our story. The sun is beaming into Keno's room at the infirmary, and I trust that it's an omen of good things to come. Of course, I've been known to be wrong. Our story resumes...

Monday, May 07, 2007


Welcome to Episode 51 of the Trowbridge Chronicles. Will I make it to episode 100? Stay tuned.
First things first. It's time to announce the winner of the Mrs. Trowbridge's signed sketch of the Imperial city of Shomu, and Emperor Nang's palace. And the winner is...VALERIE WALSH! Congratulations, Val. Soon you'll be receiving your sketch in the mail, plus a surprise BONUS GIFT: an all-expense paid one-way trip to the Mongolian desert! There you'll visit the Trowbridge Museum in Darhan that houses rare artifacts from Trowbridge shrew excavation sites throughout China and Mongolia. You'll see tiny arrows the size of toothpicks, thimble-size pots unearthed from ancient Trowbridge shrew villages...and the most cherished artifact: A tiny battle helmet (about the size of a walnut shell) said to have been worn by Shrew Khan himself! Don't forget to bring back pictures for us to see!

Well, Keno is now rested up and ready to return to the unrelenting pace of life in an episodic story blog. If you recall, we left Keno resting in bed at the palace infirmary with Emperor Nang at his bedside. Emperor Nang was about to explain to Keno what events brought him to his bed in the infirmary. We are anxious to know what happened to Keno after he drank the brew in his dungeon cell. Our story resumes...

Friday, April 27, 2007


Welcome to episode 50 of The Trowbridge Chronicles.

To commemorate this special episode, I'm giving away the sketch that Mrs. Trowbridge created for the painting below, Emperor Nang's palace at Shomu. It's signed by Mrs. T herself. All you have to do is leave a comment, and one of you will be chosen at random to win the preliminary sketch for this painting.

I found it difficult to leave poor Keno recuperating in the the palace infirmary, but I figured that he could use a few extra days of bed rest, after all that he's been through. We'll resume our story with the next episode. Of course, only one comment per multiple entries. Contest ends at midnight, next Thursday night, May 3. Good luck...I hope YOU win!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


For episode 50, coming up next week, I decided that I would do something to mark that little milestone. By random selection, I'll choose someone who comments on that episode and give away one of Mrs. Trowbridge's original drawings from her journal. It will be a page that has appeared in The Trowbridge Chronicles. The selection won't relate to how nice the comment is. It will be selected purely at random. I will notify the winner through your email. Good luck!

Though it has been mentioned once or twice in the story text, many are not aware that Emperor Nang and Shrew Khan are brothers. Their bond is very close...Emperor Nang has said that he would give away his vast fortune for his brother, Khan. Hopefully it won't come to that, though things are looking desperate for Khan at the Giloh outpost. And things aren't looking too good for Keno either. Did he die from drinking the poison? Our story resumes...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


For those of you who are keeping track, episode 50 of the Trowbridge Chronicles is coming up soon. Stay tuned.

If you're an observer of details, you might like to know that you can identify a Trowbridge shrew from a mouse by their tail. Notice how Keno's tail is white on the bottom. That's an identifying marker of a Trowbridge shrew. They average four inches long.

Once again Keno finds himself on the horns of a dilemma. Can you think of a person or creature, with the possible exception of Jack Bauer or the Baudelaire orphans in Lemony Snicket's books, who lives life at such a heart stopping pace as does Keno? Neither can I. Let's hope that he gets a chance to recover from all his misfortunes soon...that is, if he lives long enough to recover. Our story resumes...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Many of you are beginning to wonder how long Shrew Khan can "hold the fort" at Giloh. After all, Keno's rescue mission has stretched out over several long weeks. But let's put things in perspective. Think of the Khan Chronicles as "24", with shrews. Because the episodes are so short, only a few hours of "real time" can span several weeks of episodes.

On the other hand, I don't blame you you starting to worry about Shrew Khan and his regiment, while Keno is sitting in Emperor Nang's dungeon. And this episodes brings with it even more to be concerned about, as you will soon see. But don't snap just yet. Hang on a little while longer, and things will somehow resolve themselves...I hope. The saga continues...

I enjoy looking at Mrs. Trowbridge's preliminary sketches. She always did very careful charcoal sketches before beginning her paintings. I wish you could see the originals. I thought I would share with you the sketch that she did of Emperor Nang's guard. Note some of the changes betweeen the sketch and the final art. She added straps to the sandals, and a few other details.

Monday, March 19, 2007


In this week's episode, Keno finds himself alone in a dungeon in the emperor's palace at Shomu. He is overcome with despair and guilt for he feels that he has let down his comrades who are trying to hold the Giloh outpost from the onslaught of the Phantom Mongol. Instead of gaining support from the emperor's army, he sits helpless and bloody in his cell. The only sound that he hears is the moan of fellow prisoners, and the hiss of cockroaches. What will become of Keno? Our story resumes...

Monday, March 12, 2007


Go to the November, 2006 archives of the Trowbridge Chronicles to pick up the Khan Chronicles from the beginning.

When I first began reading Mrs. Trowbridge's Khan Chronicles I found myself admiring Keno. He is loyal, resourceful, courageous, and of course, hard-wired to run. He also seems to have a knack for getting himself into precarious situations. This week's episode is no exception. He has gained entrance into Emperor Nang's palace at Shomu and is seeking permission from the emperor to receive military assistance from the royal army. At the moment, it seems that Keno's plans have been put on hold. Our story resumes...

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Mrs. Trowbridge occasionally created her delicate renderings from a primitive form of colored pencil which she fashioned by combining colorful finely ground stones (which she found in Wild Rose Creek or at the seashore) with a waxy substance from some plant source in the rain forest. I am very familiar with the stones that she collected on her trips to the shore. I filled a bag with these stones of many colors on my last trip to Shi Shi Beach. My Shi Shi jar of stones decorates the sunny window sill in my studio. To bring out the brilliance of the colors of the stones, I filled the jar with water.

I have come to know Mrs. T's work well enough to recognize the different media that she used in her paintings. The rendering on the first journal page was definitely created with her colored pencils. She would sometimes use them when she traveled in the rain forest or into the high meadows because of their convenience.

As Shrew Khan and his regiment cling to life at the Giloh outpost, Keno is received by Emperor Nang in his palatial court. And now, we return to the Chronicles of Khan...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


To read the Khan Chronicles from the beginning, go to the November archives of the Trowbridge Chronicles.

Keno felt overwhelmed by the gravity of the situation at the Giloh outpost, but he was briefly distracted by the splendor that surrounded him in Emperor Nang's court. How would the emperor respond to Keno's request for help? Our story continues...

Sunday, February 04, 2007


While Keno is standing at the big red door, and waiting to gain entry to Emperor Nang's royal palace, Shrew Khan and his valiant warriors are fighting for their lives at the Giloh outpost. And hope is fading fast...

Monday, January 29, 2007


Our story picks up at the front gate of Shomu. Keno has just arrived exhausted from his rescue run and he has been acknowledged by the guards. Once inside the city, he will seek an audience with Emperor Nang, and solicit help from the emperor's royal army. Could a lowly, battle worn shrew be received by the emperor. We shall see...

Sunday, January 21, 2007


In this two-in-one episode, Keno resumes his running mission to Shomu after a brief setback with a Mongol warrior. At Emperor Nang's Royal Palace in Shomu Keno will seek help from Emperor Nang's army. If he is successful in securing assistance from the royal army, Shrew Khan's regiment could be saved from a devastating defeat and certain death at the Giloh outpost. Keno would then attain legendary superhero status among his comrades. But will Keno succeed in securing an audience with the emperor? Is it already too late to save Shrew Khan's regiment? What awaits behind the Shomu gate? Our story resumes...

Monday, January 08, 2007


Thank you to all who sent happy anniversary wishes last week. This past New Years Day we celebrated the first anniversary of Trowbridge Chronicles. It's been an exciting year of discovery and long hours.

Last week Keno was pinned against a rock wall by an enemy warrior, a sword at his throat. His mission was to run to the Emperor's Palace and seek help from Emperor Nang in hopes of saving Shrew Khan's regiment from being overrun at the Giloh outpost. Our story continues...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


This episode marks the one year anniversary of Trowbridge Chronicles. What a memorable year it's been, spending a good part of my busy week with Mrs. Trowbridge, her family and friends in the rain forest.

In mid-November I started running a story that Mrs. Trowbridge wrote and illustrated about one of the shrews' legendary heroes, Shrew Khan. So for a time we've left the rain forest and are following Shrew Khan's exploits in the Asian desert. To pick up the story from the beginning, go back to the November 14, 2006 episode, Last Stand at Giloh. Our story continues...