Newsletter 2023-01

For ASJA members in
Alaska, British Columbia, Idaho, Oregon and Washington
January 2023

In This Issue

From the Prez, For the Love of Story, M. Carolyn Miller,
ASJA PNW President
Charles Smith Unleashes Legacy Pinot Noir Project in
Washington State
, L.M. Archer
Little-known USPS Savings, Bruce Miller
Member News and Announcements

Join Us At Our January Meeting!

M. Carolyn Miller, ASJA PNW president,
is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: ASJA PNW Monthly Meeting:

Time: Wednesday, January 18, 2023 01:00 PM Pacific Time
(US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 883 2770 5537
Passcode: 085656

From the President

by M. Carolyn Miller

ASJA PNW Chapter President

For the Love of Story

I have been wrestling with the meaning of a recent health issue lately. And so yesterday morning, despite having a million to-dos, not the least of which were related to writing, I immediately got up, made myself some coffee, and started writing.

In that act, I “storied” my current challenge and found, as stories are wont to do, a more meaningful ending. I also remembered how important story-making is, not only in our lives as professional writers, but also personally. It can act as an alchemical tool and transform human challenges into spiritual gold.

As part of this health journey, I have been reading books on the body. One of them is Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Voyage by Rachel E. Gross. (Thank you, Sharon Thompson, for the suggestion). The author, a science writer, pulls the reader through each chapter with stories about women in history who had the audacity to explore their bodies when male scientists assigned them a less important status or worse, ignored them all together.

As I read, I find myself skipping some of the science data to get to more of the story. This gives me pause as I think about my own book project. Am I drowning the reader in dry data when all they want is a story? Perhaps.

Story is so many things: meaning-maker, guide, tool of power. But it is also a tease, a Scheherazade, spinning tales that make us fall in love with the story and the storyteller.

M. Carolyn Miller, MA, spent her career designing narrative- and game-based learning. Today, she writes about the role of narrative in our lives and world, the inextricable link between the two, and the role of self-awareness in transforming both.

by L.M Archer

September, 2022 cover story reprinted with permission from the publisher, Wine Business Monthly.

Charles Smith Unleashes Legacy Pinot Noir Project in Washington State

The trademark black t-shirt and shock of white curls comes into view first. “Can you see me?” Charles Smith, former band promoter turned House of Smith Wines winemaker is in the house. Or Zoom chatroom, anyway.

Wine for the People

“I didn’t really want to talk about it until I finally got the wine that I was setting out to make,” says Smith. He’s talking about Golden West Wines, his groundbreaking Washington state Pinot Noir project launched in 2018. “The first vintage or two, we made wine that got excellent reviews. I guess 93 points for a $20 bottle of wine a couple of years in a row is not a bad thing. But I felt the wine that I really wanted, what I envisioned, we nailed it finally.”

Smith plans to produce 150,000 cases within 10 years; an artisanal project planted to commercial scale. Currently, the 2020 production totals 27,000 cases, with 68,000 cases slated for the 2021 vintage. Smith underscores the $20 bottle price will remain, though he also admits to the potential for premium, small-batch Golden West offerings in the future. Just not now.

“I lived hand-to-mouth for most of my life,” he said. “I think everybody deserves more for their money. And if you’re going to actually receive somebody’s hard-earned income, I want to get up earlier than anybody else, stay up later than everybody else and, during the night, I want to dream about what I’m going to do the next day. And that’s how I approach my wine. The overall thing is, I’m making my wine for the people. I want to make something that is far beyond anybody’s expectations.”

The restless impresario knows a thing or two about exceeding expectations. Founder of K Vintners in 1999, he’s crafted everything from award-winning Syrah to value-conscious blends. In 2010, Smith sold his House Brands and Magnificent Wine Company portfolio to Precept Wines. In 2016, he sold Charles Smith Wines to Constellation for a whopping $120 million. His current House of Smith empire comprises K Vintners, Sixto, Wines of Substance, Vino Casa Smith, PopUp Sparkling, B. Leighton, and Golden West.

Despite his stratospheric success, Smith never lost sight of his by-the-bootstraps beginnings. “When I started my winery, the only employee for the winery for the first seven years was me,” he says. “I was the accountant. I self-distributed my wine in Washington state. I drove it door-to-door in my ’87 Chevy Astro van. And when I started House wine, and sold it, it was 90,000 cases. I was the only employee. When you start with $5,000 borrowed, you don’t have a lot of employees.”

Story continues at:

Seattle-based L.M. Archer is an award-winning photojournalist, writer, content strategist and ghostwriter for consumer, B2B, and B2C platforms worldwide. She often writes about the wine industry.

Fungi in the forest, Gold Hill, Oregon © Maxine Cass

by Bruce Miller

Little-known USPS Savings

Priority Mail® Boxes from the United States Postal Service (USPS) are free. Some are flat rate and some are not. The versions you find in a post office are often the Flat Rate Boxes in small, medium, and large sizes. The medium Flat Rate Boxes come with what the USPS calls top loading and side loading. Sometimes shipping in Priority Mail in a non-Flat Rate Box can be cheaper than the Flat Rate.

Within the Priority Mail rates is a little-known rate called Priority Mail Cubic. Scarcely anyone knows about this. You won’t find it in Post Offices. You will be hard-pressed to find it on the website. What makes Cubic unique is that anything under 20 pounds and less than 0.5 cubic feet is based on outer dimensions and distance. The basic requirements are:

*Weighs less than 20 pounds.

*Each single dimension (length, width, or height) must be 18 inches or less. 

*Total volume of the box must be less than 0.5 cubic feet, which means 30 inches or less from adding length, width, and height.

*You print your own label.

You can supply your own box (which is a reason to keep some of the Amazon small boxes around) or use a non-flat rate Priority Mail Box that meets the size requirements.

Here’s a recent example of my savings by using the Cubic rate. I shipped 2 pounds 13 ounces of goods to Roseburg, Oregon from Seattle. The volume of the candy would not fit into a Small Flat Rate Box. An option was to use a Medium Flat Rate Box. I decided to use a leftover Amazon box that measured 8 x 6 x 5.5”. Here is the rate comparison:

Small Flat Rate via (for comparison): $10.40

Medium Flat Rate via $17.05

Medium Flat Rate via $14.00

Using Amazon box via Cubic: $7.67

I’ve been using almost exclusively for printing labels for shipping boxes. I also sometimes use it for printing stamps. Before I subscribed to, I created labels through my USPS account. I’ve found to be much faster and easier to use than the USPS site. And, according to, I save money. I’ve never bothered to calculate all the savings, because I like the speed and ease of creating labels in

My paid account is about $5 per month The first plan you might see on is $17.99 plus applicable taxes. This is the “Pro Plan.” The “Basic Plan” is $4.99 per month for “Basic product features for low volume users.” I was offered this plan when I called to cancel the initial trial rate and period. required that I pre-fund the account to cover the costs. Priority Mail Cubic is not clearly available on

Pirate Ship is another online site for creating shipping labels. There are no monthly fees and there is no need to pre-fund the account. For one label, you can simply pay with PayPal or a credit card at the time of creation. Pirate Ship provides a clear path and calculations for the Cubic rates.

By the way, there’s no need to take your Priority Mail Boxes to the Post Office. Schedule a free pickup by midnight for the next business day at


Seattle resident Bruce Miller has shipped a lot of boxes between two cities for the last four years. He almost always ships ahead when traveling to eliminate checked baggage and the inability to quickly change planes. He’s never flown Southwest Airlines and may never, even with no checked bags.

Member News

and Announcements

L.M. Archer’s 5 Ways Languedoc’s Château Maris Is Reducing Its Carbon Footprint, published on December 19 in SOMM TV Magazine, features biodynamic winemaker Robert Eden, “Equal parts visionary, maverick, and bawdy prankster, this British-born, snowy-bearded force of nature strives to reduce Château Maris’ carbon footprint…” 

Catherine Kolonko wrote an article published in The Rheumatologist about a doctor who went on a Medical Mission to Poland and Ukraine .

Fred Gebhart, who has written for Drug Topics for four decades, had The Evolution of the CBD Regulatory Landscape published on September 13, 2022.


EDITOR: Maxine Cass
PROOFREADER: Catherine Kolonko


*All stories are copyright by their respective writers.
*All photographs and illustrations are copyright by their creative makers.
*All rights are reserved to each of them for their own material.