Sharing stories, trading secrets, weaving new realities with threads pulled from discarded memories or long-forgotten dreams – those are the tasks I’ve set myself, here on the Texas Gulf Coast.
Living a quiet life, a hidden life — anchored to my dock like a barnacle to a piling — I varnish boats for a living. My dock provides both things Virginia Woolf recommended for a woman who writes: money, from the labor, and a room of my own — space and solitude for thought, remembrance, and creative reflection on the truths and mysteries of life.
Years of life and experience lie behind me. A child of the American Midwest and the only child of striving parents, I was expected to attend college. Uninterested in teaching, I took a degree in medical social work. It led first to Houston’s Texas Medical Center, and then to Phebe Hospital in Bong County, Liberia, where I served under the auspices of the Lutheran Church in America.
As so often happens in countries like Liberia, changing needs dictated a change in responsibilities. My initial involvement in maternal-child health was exchanged for oversight of the hospital chaplaincy. Then, in a delicious bit of irony, I was asked to begin teaching in an inter-denominational seminary not far from the hospital.
With my time in Liberia finished, I moved on to Berkeley, California for further schooling, and spent four years pursuing a Master of Divinity degree at the Graduate Theological Union and Pacific Lutheran Seminary. After serving Lutheran congregations in Texas for the next decade, a series of serendipitous events and inexplicable impulses led me to strike out on my own, beginning the business that still brings me delight.
During those years, teaching and learning remained part of my life. I took up sailing, taught beginning sailors on Galveston Bay, and enjoyed the opportunity to sail the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and, most memorably, the Pacific aboard Alaska Eagle, the 65′ sailboat that won the 1978 Whitbread Race under the name Flyer.
Today, images and words tumble along the edge of memory’s winds like so many scudding clouds. Living and working in West Africa, studying in Berkeley, participating in open-ocean sailing, and coming to know the joys of teaching: all have shaped my life and influenced my convictions.
With a sense of yet one more sea-change arriving, I remember the words of Georgia O’Keeffe, quoted in Joan Didion’s White Album:
“Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant… It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest.”
Today, moving into my 70th year, I find myself paraphrasing O’Keeffe’s words this way:
“Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant… It is what I will do with where I have yet to be that should be of interest.”
Some Personal Preferences
Sweet or Salty? Salty
Compass, Map, or GPS? Compass and map
Morning or Night? Morning and Night
Ocean or Prairies? Prairies
Both/And or Either/Or? Both/And
Freeway or Back Road? Back Road
Active or Passive? Active
Artists: Georgia O’Keeffe, John Singer Sargent, Claude Monet, Edward Hopper, Thomas Hart Benton, Mary Cassatt, Andrew Wyeth, Winslow Homer, Lawren Harris
Books: Lawrence Durrell, The Alexandria Quartet; Loren Eiseley, The Star Thrower; Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek; Alan Paton, Cry the Beloved Country; Beryl Markham, West With the Night; John Madson, Where the Sky Began; John McPhee, The Control of Nature; John M. Barry, Rising Tide, William Least Heat-Moon, PrairyErth
Buildings: The Flatiron Building, New York City; Fox Creek School, Chase County, Kansas; Thorncrown Chapel, Eureka Springs, Arkansas; St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, New York City; The Stewart and Trueheart-Adriance Buildings, Galveston, Texas
Songs: The Star of the County Down (traditional); Jaquima to Freno (Ian Tyson); Orinoco Flow (Enya); Mon Coeur Fait Mal (Pineleaf Boys); La Vie Dansant (Aaron Neville); Clean Curve of Hill Against Sky (Tallgrass Express); End of the Line (Traveling Wilburys)
Musical Forms and Periods: Renaissance and Baroque; Blues; Cajun & Zydeco; Classic Rock; Western Swing; Modern Classical; Southern Rock; Gypsy Swing and Jazz; New Acoustic
Architectural Style & Architects: Craftsman – Stickley & Wright
Weather Phenomenon: Fog
Question: “How Can I?”
Sport: Good conversation
Literary Form: Essays & Letters
Place to be: A hundred miles from anywhere
Some Memorable Quotations
“A genuine man goes to the roots. To be a radical is no more than that: to go to the roots. He who does not see things in their depth should not call himself a radical.” ~ Jose Marti, Cuban Statesman, Poet and Journalist (1853-1895)
“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” ~ John Muir, Naturalist (1838-1914)
“To achieve great things, two things are needed ~ a plan, and not quite enough time.” ~ Leonard Bernstein
“The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein
“It is the essayist’s task to say, “This is what I have seen. This is what I have experienced. This is what I have discovered lying along life’s shore, waiting to be plucked from the sands of obscurity, turned and examined, magnified for detail, polished until its inherent nature shimmers in the light.” ~ Linda Leinen
“What difference does it make if you live in a picturesque little outhouse surrounded by 300 feeble minded goats and your faithful dog? The question is: Can you write?” ~ Ernest Hemingway
“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
“Obscurity and a competence—that is the life that is best worth living.” – Mark Twain
“Who does not want to work in the heat, will have to starve in the cold.” – Swedish Proverb
“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” – Leonardo da Vinci
“Knowledge is the sunlight which causes being to develop.” ~ Nickolai Berdyaev
“I’m religious in the sense that I know the difference between grace and guilt.” ~ Leonard Cohen
A Way to Contact Me: