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About Peter Cashwell

'Life List' Excerpts

Barn Owl -- seen flying S across Houston Rd., Chapel Hill, NC, with a full moon behind it--summertime in my youth, between 1970 & 76. More recently glimpsed by headlights on Grelen Farm Rd., 12/8/95. Karla Templer & I saw one nesting in a tree in San Jose Community College on 6/2/03.

Common Screech Owl -- heard & then spotted w/flashlight (eyes only, really) near trunk of tree in backyard of our house on Wyrick St., Chapel Hill, NC, circa 1989. Heard at Grelen Farm, winter/spring of 1996.

Great Horned Owl -- heard call while unpacking car on Cat Island, circa 9:00 pm on 12/23/96, and knew it was close; in fact, in the yard next door. Snuck in to grab binoculars, and with help of full moon, spotted female (from call) in a locust tree about twenty feet up; she stayed long enough for me to show Mom, Dad and Kelly.

Barred Owl -- two spotted in broad daylight on main quad of UNC-CH in May of 1995, another seen in Hawkeye Wildlife Area N of Iowa City, 7/2/95.

Tawny Owl -- heard as Kelly and I went across the pedestrian bridge toward Civita on the night of 4/29/03. At first we thought someone/thing was being attacked, but Kelly decided it was a bird & that I should “go get it.” I complained that it would have to fly over the bridge, but while I flipped through my book, Kelly spotted it atop a tree near the parked car—perhaps the same tree in which the Turtle Dove had lit earlier that day. I saw it only briefly before it turned and flew off, but call & size were diagnostic.


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Need imagePeter Cashwell grew up in Chapel Hill, NC, and attended the University of North Carolina. He used to have a lot of unusual jobs--radio announcer, rock musician, comic-book critic, improv comedy accompanist--but he decided teaching was unusual enough. He and his wife, Kelly Dalton, live with their two sons in rural Virginia, where he teaches English and speech, coaches debate, reads books, watches birds, plays the guitar and piano, writes, and doesn't get to see nearly enough college basketball games. His writing has appeared in The Comics Journal, in OnEarth Magazine, and on WVTF Radio. Along with Paul Clark, Peter also created "Loose Canons," a literary humor column for The Readerville Journal. His first book, The Verb 'To Bird', was published by Paul Dry Books in 2003 and went on to be selected as a Discover! book by Barnes and Noble, a BookSense 76 pick by the American Booksellers Association, and one of "Martha's Favorite Books" by the producers of Martha Stewart Living Television. His essay "17 Things I Learned from Dean Smith" appears in Basketball in America: From the Playgrounds to Jordan's Game, and he is hard at work on his first novel, tentatively titled A Raven for Doves.


Raleigh, NC

March 1, 1963

Kelly Dalton, July 12, 1986; two sons, one dog

Chapel Hill High School, 1981

- Bachelor of Arts (English) with Honors in Creative Writing, UNC, 1985
- Master of Arts in Teaching (English Education) UNC, 1989

- Teacher, Woodberry Forest School
- Freelance Writer

Personal Preferences:
- Favorite Modern Play: Arcadia by Tom Stoppard
- Favorite Dead Chinese Poet: Tu Fu
- Favorite Family of Birds: Picidae (Woodpeckers)
- Favorite College Basketball Coach: Dean Smith, who else?
- Favorite Japanese Proverb: "Time spent laughing is time spent with the gods."
- Favorite Name for a City: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
- Favorite Line from Amelie: "I am no one's little weasel."
- Favorite Monty Python Sketch: The Argument Clinic
- Favorite Cover of a Johnny Cash Song: Wall of Voodoo's "Ring of Fire"
- Favorite Comic Strip (Current): Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury
- Favorite Comic Strip (Defunct): Walt Kelly's Pogo
- Least Favorite "Great" Author: Henry James

Favorite Imitation of Least Favorite "Great" Author:
"...Henry James fixed me with his staring blank eye, it is like a child's marble, and said 'My dear Virginia they tell me, they tell me, they tell me, that you--as indeed being your father's daughter, nay your grandfather's grandchild, the descendant I may say of a century, of a century, of quill pen and ink, ink, inkpots, yes, yes, yes, they tell me, a h m m m, that you, that you, that you write in short.'"
--Virginia Woolf

Top Six Jeopardy! Categories:
Birds of Eastern North America; Pop Music 1970-1990; Comic Book History; World Literature; Breakfast Cereals; UNC Basketball (1970-1990)


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