Who I Am

aboutselfieA shadow of my future self

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.

aboutalaskaeagleAboard Alaska Eagle, Newport Beach, California

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 Mountains?    Mountains

Both/And or Either/Or?    Both/And

Freeway or Back Road?     Back Road

Active or Passive?   Active


Some Favorites:

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:

Linda Leinen:  varnishgal at gmail [dot] com

280 thoughts on “Who I Am

  1. If this was a housewarming I would bring a bottle of wine and a covered dish. Congratulations!


    Many thanks! I’m still unpacking, but I’ll bet I can find the stemware!


  2. Linda;

    I’m so glad you’ve started this new site! I’m adding it to my “favorites”. The more I read about you the more I wish you lived close enough to chat over a cup of coffee or tea!

    If this is going to be a Blog-Warming and Numberwise has the coffee, I’ll make some fresh cinnamon pinwheels to go with the coffee!


    A Blog Warming! What fun! And just think what fun it would be if we could all get together over coffee and cinnamon pinwheels… How long to you think it would be until we all ran down and couldn’t talk any more? A while, that’s what I think!

    Many, many thanks for stopping by. I’ll keep trying to make it worth your while!


  3. How nice, I got here a bit late, so here’s the wine and cheese! (Bligh’s still got the pretzels and Rolling Rock) Lovely, but does this mean no more phone chats?


    Well, Welcome to the Rep from East Texas!

    You know Bligh has signed on as advisor for this little project – where do you think I got “Wacky” for those Greek Gods?

    Truth to tell, it probably means more phone calls.
    Where else am I going to find the inspiration to fill these pages?!


  4. Hi Linda. What a cool site. And a cool life! I sometimes envision myself to be a writer — when my editors at the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale aren’t hacking my copy to shreds with their meat cleavers! Keep up the good work. Ken

    Hi, Ken, Welcome aboard! I don’t have an editor yet, but I’ve got a couple of friends with a willingness to share (sometimes trenchant!) opinions, and a copy of Zinsser’s “On Writing Well”, so I’ve tried to fashion my own meat cleaver out of those for the time being. I’ve only been at this for six months, but that’s long enough for me to understand Flannery O’Connor when she refers to her “Opus Nauseous”.

    Thanks for the kind words. Linda

  5. Linda: As one who has actually written numerous novels (most of them pure junk) I think the fun of learning to be a writer … is in writing. Just stick with it. If I were to give you some advice: Never be satisfied. Rework and rewrite your material until it sings! Ken

    Hi, Ken,

    And thank goodness you’re willing to use the word “fun”. It is fun, even though it also requires effort. As for rewriting – I start with the first word, the first sentence. I’m of the Annie Dillard, cell-by-cell school – my writing grows like the fuzz on the thumbprint in the jello in the dark closet.
    My words and I are sometimes quite surprised where we end up!


  6. What a wonderful serendipity for me to stumble upon your Blog! How I admire your bohemian lifestyle…I’ve enjoyed reading through your posts and found we share some favorites, e.g. Annie Dillard, classical music, literature, philosophy, cultural commentary, thoughts and ideas…Have added you to my Blogroll! I write movie and book reviews, some music, some travels,…I may not have a view towards the open sea, but I’ve a mountain retreat here in the Rockies. You’re most welcome to stop by and visit my blog Ripple Effects.

    Good Evening, Arti ~

    And there is another favorite we share. Madelaine L’Engle’s wonderful “The Irrational Season” traveled with me for years. I never read any of her other books, but that one served me very, very well. I hadn’t thought of it in some time, but remembered it immediately upon seeing her name in your favorites.

    I laughed and laughed to see you describe my life as bohemian, but I enjoyed it, too. It certainly is feeling moreso every day. As you surely saw, I am still in the process of getting structures settled around here, but I’ll happily add your wonderful site to my blog listings as well. Please do come by any time. Regardless of structure, I’m going to try and keep content updated on a regular basis. Thank you for your kind words.


  7. Linda: It’s getting more and more interesting….I went to your WU site…great pics and eloquent writing. My preferences for ‘life choices’ are almost the same as yours except maybe map over compass. I’ve lived in the foothills of the Rockies in Western Canada for decades, just an hour’s drive to Banff National Park. My Blog Name and Header pic might be linked with water, but I’ll choose the mountains and the smell of pine and earth anytime. Interesting discovery I’ve made tonight indeed.

  8. thanks for popping in, your site is beautiful! i will be back :D

    amandzing ~ Many thanks! I’m just beginning to roam a bit in the WP neighborhoods, and find the congenial places – a bit like a country girl moving to the city for the first time. There’s much to learn, but it’s quite enjoyable. You’re welcome any time!


  9. Hi, Linda!
    I’ve been following your site since I picked up your card at a BAWL meeting. Its a lovely site. I enjoy your style. What has caused me to comment is your mention of Beryl Markham’s West With the Night in your book preferences. Somehow I never expected to run into anyone else who had heard of that marvelous piece of retro esoterica.
    You look great on a boat, Kid! -Mary

    Mary ~

    How nice of you to stop by! I first read Markham’s book when I was in West Africa, and then, when I began sailing, her stories of learning to fly were perfect descriptioins of what I was experiencing. It’s been a special book to me, and is a wonderful read in its own right. It’s making me smile to hear it described as “retro esoterica”, when it seems to me so alive and contemporary. Knowing how few people know this book today, I wonder how many wonderful books I”m missing!


  10. Hi Linda..

    Great warming site!
    I just love it…
    and i already add your site to my blog link…

    Nice 2 know this site…

    Good morning, again!

    Thanks so much for stopping by, and for the kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed the poem, and I certainly enjoyed looking at your site. Best wishes!


  11. Ah…, here comes a true sentient writer, lo and behold earthlings!

    Linda, your wonderful writings should become a daily reading of those creatures who dare calling themselves human beings.

    Warmest greetings,
    ~dull chimp~


    One of my very favorite things in the world is self-deprecating humor, and you’re filled with it! It’s true that “dull” can be applied to some beings in the world, but you aren’t one of them.

    I’m happy to have you as a reader – thanks for your gracious comments.


  12. you have a lovely free flowing style of writing, very easy on the eye and the mind.


    What a treat to rise and discover you’ve visited. Thanks for the read, and the comments. I do enjoy writing, and hope you’ll stop by again – perhaps you’ll find something to enjoy, as well!

    regards, Linda

  13. Hi, Linda,

    I’ve also fallen in love with your writing style at first sight and, although I’ve been coming here for a few days, I’ve decided today, seeing your profile and choices, to add your site to my weekly blog stroll. Only one thing stopped me from doing so: My fear to spend too much time on my laptop which prevents me from reading novels, my main passion. However, my mind is made. After all, you’re a writer, too.


    What a wonderful compliment! Thank you for your kind words, and I do hope you will continue reading.
    I won’t add so much to your schedule, because I’ll just never be one of those post-every-day sorts.
    Twice weekly, or every three or four days, is about all I can manage just now. I’ve discovered there’s a difference between blogging and writing. I do use my blog as a platform for my writing, but I need time in between posts for reflection, thought and the writing itself.

    I do enjoy interacting with my readers, as well. Please feel free to leave comments or thoughts about the subject at hand. More than a few entries have been stimulated by the back-and-forth on these pages – it’s a wonderful, on-going process.

    Again, many thanks for the comments. I’m glad you’re enjoying the reads!


  14. Greetings, Linda –
    I am having a stroll through your world tonight, and thoroughly enjoying it. I try to stick to my own motto of “if I have nothing to say, I won’t say it”, as it is too easy to feel that you have to publish something, whatever, every day.
    I read your blog, I enjoy it tremendously, but you will not always know that I was here :-)

    I must also say I am deeply honoured for having made it to your blogroll. Keep writing, keep that wonderful combination of facts and fancy. It is solid; let me know when you publish a book.

    Good evening, Boblet,

    Facts and fancy are a good combination, and one that I’ve always enjoyed myself. So much writing today is the literary equivalent of the old-fashioned hospital meal: a soda-cracker sandwich on white bread, with a little mayonnaise for excitement. I’m the one out scouting the halls to see if someone might have left some apple and a nice brie, or perhaps something from the tapas bar…

    I’m delighted to have you on my blogroll, by the way. You’re one of the creative ones yourself, and your posts are ones I want to share with other people. As for that mythical book…. well, who knows? As I told Baba, I’ll worry about the writing, and let things develop as they will.

    Whenever you have time for a stroll, you’re welcome! And no need for a calling card!


  15. This is just too much for a Cuban heart, Linda: Yoani, Jose Marti and Viñales…
    Thanks for mentioning the Anasazi ruins, I didn’t know about this treasure.
    I’ll be returning to this place regularly.


    Good morning, many thanks, and welcome! I leave the explicit politics to other, but the people, places and dreams of Cubans have touched my heart. Please do join us whenever you can – others’ perspectives are always welcome.


  16. Walking past you on the days you were working on a boat, smiling and happy, I had no idea you were just like the sea. Walking along and seeing the water, but just underneath a whole world of depth and beauty. I do so enjoy your sharing yourself with us, the walkers. Ken (formerly of Satori)

    Hi, Ken,

    How nice of you to leave a note. Not much time on the docks these days, as we’ve had everything from snow to fog to drizzle – the whole panoply of December treats. But, still smiling. I saw photos from the great Drifter airlift/recovery last night – amazing. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you see a bit more!

    We miss you, and Jake sends his regards. Hope you enjoyed the photo!


  17. It’s so nice to stumble upon such elegant and witty writing in this ethereal “vast wasteland” (with apologies to both Eliot and Minnow)that is the ‘Net.

    Alas, ours is a more practical, goal-oriented site.


    Drop by and sample a few tunes.

    Oh, my goodness!

    There isn’t a thing wrong with practical and goal-oriented, especially when you’re providing a way for people to find a wonderful part of American life that has been slowly disappearing. I used to play in a community band when I was in high school, and it was such fun! For one thing, it was my first “cross-generational” experience – playing with folks of every age who just loved music was quite different from playing in the high school band.

    Thanks for stopping by with a comment, and thanks especially for the kind words. I’ll pass your site on to some folks I know in your part of the country so they can come and listen!


  18. I loved reading your words and imagining myself there, in the places your mind and heart go. Thank you for sharing.


    Your name is wonderful, and so is your site. Your photography is especially evocative, and I look forward to spending more time there enjoying it. Thanks for your kind words – and thank you for noticing that heart and mind are both involved in this little journey of mine!


  19. Linda, your eloquence is well known to me. What a joy it was to hear your voice on “This I believe.”

    We had the pleasure of sailing again with Captain Tom in celebration of Glenn’s 60th birthday. What a joy it was to again be on the ocean with an old friend. We have lost touch but your journey through our lives as never been forgotten. Each year, like a memorial, we revisit our wonderful time on the sailboat in the harbor watching the many boats come in during the Festival of Lights. The journey of life has taken us many places but still memorable is the journey through the midwest singing at the top of our voices “Born in the USA.” May our lives touch again.



    What an unexpected pleasure! And how wonderful that you should be the first to hear the broadcast. Life can take strange, circuitous routes, but you know as well as I do what we way in Texas – what goes around, comes around!

    Here’s to life “coming around” again.


  20. I loved your last post and had to find out more about you. Glad to see you have a whole page dedicated to just that…you! I look forward to another visit. I must read through some of your archives!


    Thanks so much for stopping by. The “me” page was fun to put together – and your comment reminds me that it’s time to do some updating!

    You’re welcome here anytime. I do hope you find something to enjoy.


  21. Hi Linda –

    I stumbled across your blog today from Weather Underground and really enjoyed the story of Godot the cactus. I use the web everyday but, until now, have not acquainted myself with blogs and their workings. Earlier today, after reading about Godot, I found myself reading some posts about pipe organs…there were several videos posted by your readers and, since I was at work, I could not play or listen to them but vowed to do so from home. This evening, having arrived home (Dickinson, Texas – we’re practically neighbors!) I went in search of those posts but have not found them. Would you take pity on an humble blog-beginner and direct me back to those posts?

    Thanks so much and everything I’ve read on your blog so far has been VERY enjoyable.

    Kind regards, Terri (The “newbie”)

    Hi, Terri,

    Thanks so much for stopping by! I sent an email with a link back to the organ blogs. If it isn’t clear, just email again. It’s confusing sometimes, because of the way I do things – sometimes I even confuse myself!

    I’m glad you’ve found some things to enjoy. And don’t worry about being a “newbie”. I learn something new about this world nearly every day, and find it more and more enjoyable.

    Keep an eye out for an essay entitled “Ciao, Y’All!” That’s the one that’ll have Liggio Street in it!

    Have a great weekend.


  22. Hello Linda,

    How surprised I was when I stumbled onto a picture of you on-the-air at KUHF, I wish I could have heard that broadcast. And now that I’ve found this blog, I enjoy reading your writing, especially about sailing.

    I learned to sail well before NHS days, though have not had the opportunity to do any more since then, with the exception of a very small craft on a very small lake in NE Kansas while in college. Let’s just say that MN has much better sailing winds than KS, and leave it at that!

    Do you anticipate being on KUHF in the near future? Might it be possible for me, here in NW Arkansas, to tune in via Internet, since we’re too far for an over-the-air signal to receive the broadcast? As much as I enjoy your writing, I’m confident I will enjoy your radio as well.

    Keep in touch…


    P.S. Do you still have, and maybe play your clarinet?

    Hi, Ron,

    What a surprise! and how nice to hear from you. First of all, I’ve linked to the NPR broadcast through my blog called “The “I’s” Have It”. If you go there, you can get some of the context for the broadcast, and a clickable link to the podcast.

    I landed on KUHF through the This I Believe essay series, and don’t anticipate doing any more radio. Of course, I never expected to be doing radio in the first place, so there you are. But, I enjoy my writing and will be keeping that up regularly, both here and elsewhere.

    Ah, the clarinet. No, she’s gone – haven’t played in years. I’ve done a good bit of guitar playing, though, and spoons – I went through a rather extended bluegrass phase ;-) Now, I’m an appreciative listener, which has its own joys.

    Believe it or not, Mom is here with me in Texas, living in her own apartment at the age of 91. It’s something neither of us ever expected, but we’re doing all right with it.

    Thanks so much for the contact – enjoyed it.


  23. You are such a fascinating person! I can’t imagine having the life you have. I love your writing. It makes my heart feel warm. I also love the picture of you in Newport Beach. Do you really live on a boat, or did I misunderstand?


    I did live on a boat, for about a year. A friend who never used his because of business commitments, travel and so on let me move aboard for as long as I wanted – or until I decided to make a move to the Bay area and settle in as a “real” varnisher. I decided to make the move permanent after about 3-4 months, but lived aboard a while longer just because I enjoyed it so much – both the boat and the community. As you might imagine,
    folks who are boat-dwellers have a good bit in common with one another regardless of their personalities, and it’s an extraordinarily interesting life.

    You give me the best compliment in the world – that my writing makes your heart feel warm. What writer could ask for more than that? I hope your holiday season is equally heart-warming.


  24. I love your writing, Linda. What a gift… to take marks on paper (or on the monitor) and turn them into visions-in-the-head, new ideas, emotions. Thanks.


    It’s one of my favorite things to do, for sure. The writing itself is immensely satisfying, but it’s even better when someone else enjoys it. Thanks so much for stopping by and saying so ;-)


  25. aloha Linda… I followed “the chicken”, crossed the street – looked around; saw the section “about me” and clicked.

    How wonderful it is to enter this room and rest in a safe harbor of words, thoughts, beauty, visions and hope. You have given me much to think and learn about….indeed even comfort. Thank you for pushing the pen.


    I always enjoy it when someone wanders in here. And I especially enjoy it when a friend stops by. :-)

    I’m so pleased you feel this is a safe place. It’s been one of my goals – to honor people who stop by, to respect them, and to help them feel they can comment honestly without risk. Heaven knows there are enough of the other kind of place for those who prefer that sort of thing.

    You know you’re always welcome!


  26. You are my amazing discovery for this week. You have found “just the right word” countless times, and will no doubt continue to do so. I will be watching and reading. Thank you!


    How kind of you! Your gracious words will send me off to my dock this morning with a smile.

    Thank you for leaving a note to let me know you’ve been here. You’re always welcome!


  27. Hi Linda !

    How’s this for cool…

    Today’s Google doodle (the occasional artwork they feature on google.com in place of the Google logo)is an illustration by the Czech art nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939). Although not familiar with Mucha or his work, when I took a look at a gallery of his paintings, I immediately thought of “The Task at Hand” (this association was sort of like my own version of the TV show “Concentration” ie: Where have I seen that artistic style before).

    When I got here and started looking through your archives, I confirmed that you have indeed featured some of Mucha’s work on your blog. Thank you for contributing to the education of this pitifully art-challenged blogger.

    – RoutingByRumor (routingbyrumor.wordpress.com)

    Well, my gosh, RxR,

    What an absolute delight to see you! I just was poking about in your site the other day, thinking that I needed to stop by and visit a bit. Every time I walk down the grocery store aisle and see those cartons of Blue Bell ice cream that say, “Still a Half-Gallon” I think about you! And they are still a half gallon. The Blue Bell cows are holding firm against the tide. ;-)

    I’d missed the Google doodle because I have one of those fancy-pants my-google pages with an artsy design I choose. I was thrilled to see Mucha highlighted on his birthday – and not only that, to see the little “arch” above the head of my lady incorporated into their design. The gal I use is “Poetry”. She’s one of a set of four – there’s also dance, music and painting. They’re so lovely. I think my Muse looks like “Poetry”, even if I don’t. I really appreciate you stopping by to let me know.

    Truly, it’s a pleasure to have you leave a note. I’ll be by this week to see what’s up in your world. I hope you didn’t suffer any damage from that bad weather in NYC this weekend.


  28. I am curious why Fog is your favorite weather.

    symonsez ~

    Many reasons, I suppose. The world grows quiet in fog. It can be comforting, like a blanket wrapped around the world. It comes in a tremendous variety of forms – sea fog, ground fog, tule fog and freezing fog – and often is just flat beautiful. I spent three years in Berkeley and used to sit atop the Marin hills watching it come in through the Golden Gate. It seemed alive, and never was the same.

    Later, I began sailing and learned to deal with it as a challenge. I think fog sharpens the senses in a way no other weather phenomenon does. If you’re going out with risk of fog, you’d better know your course, so you can chart a reciprocal. If you get caught on the water in fog, you’ll discover how sharp your hearing is. And if you’re lucky enough to be in port, a walk in fog, with droplets collecting and falling and the sounds of the world hushed, is as good as it gets.

    Nothing wrong with sunshine or thunderstorms, mind you. But if I had just one day left and got to choose my weather – fog it would be!


    1. I wondered about your fog too, having just come back to reread. I wouldn’t have chosen it for myself, mainly out of fear, but I can see better now.

      You are generous to share through regular writings your memories, stories, studies, adventures, thoughts. Your life, really, and what you search out and examine. I read every piece that arrives, and I am enriched by them. Sometimes I explain my reaction, often I.dont but wish I could. Just wanted you to know.

      Albert Salsich

      1. Such a lovely response, Albert. Like you, I sometimes read and don’t comment, or comment but don’t fully put down my thoughts. Sometimes, I simply think about what I’ve read for a while, which helps to explain why I can show up two weeks after someone posts — or two months.

        Some writers pray for success, but some pray for good readers. You’re a good reader, and I appreciate you very much.

  29. Hi,

    Don’t know if it’d get to you if I replied to your comment on my blog (slow cooker post), so I’ll do it here (feel free to delete it when you’re done).

    Someone using the name ellaella, and linking to her website, is currently posting comments at the Guardian website – the link to the profile page

    Ron (from Ron’s Rants)


    Thanks so much for the note. My mind is greatly eased. And I’m delighted to have “re-discovered” your blog. It really is extraordinarily interesting.


    1. Thank you Linda – rather belatedly!

      The focus of my blog has changed somewhat of late. It continues to be something of a mixed bag, but the health focus has changed from COPD, to congestive heart failure in the hope that, as with COPD, my experiences might prove useful to others.


      1. Ron,

        Congestive heart failure’s a terrible thing. My mom had a bout of that to deal with – successfully, thank goodness – but it was a terrifying experience. I’m so glad to see you here, and thank you for the note regarding your blog.

        I do pop in from time to time but am not always good about leaving a comment. I’ll see about remedying that!


  30. So glad you found my blog, Linda, and therefore allowed me to discover the richness in content of yours…


    Sometimes I think about the wonderful blogs I’ve discovered and wonder, “What’s still out there that I haven’t discovered?!” If nothing else, the blogging movement’s made clear that good art isn’t confined to the galleries, and all the good writing’s not in “The New York Times” or “Harper’s”.
    Hooray to us for participating, and best wishes to you as you continue to give us a glimpse into your new part of the real world!


  31. Hey Linda,

    I have often wondered what became of you, and here you are. Sounds like you are doing what makes you happiest. That’s so cool. I’m still working at the hospital. Are you living on your boat and where ? Let me hear from you when you get a minute. —Nathalie


    Great to hear from you! I tried to email to the address you left but it got returned. I need to add a “contact me” page – I’ll do that today. In the meantime, drop me an email at varnishgal AT gmail DOT com and I’ll get back to you!


    1. Aubrey,

      Thank you so much! I responded more fully on your blog, but want to add for anyone who should see this that care, grace – and beauty – are hallmarks of your work as well. I’m honorred that you should have chosen to include me in your acknowledgements.


  32. Linda,
    I’m working with some English teachers at Ball High School and about to do a project with a class on the trees in Galveston following Hurricane IKE. With your permission and providing you with proper recognition I would like to include some of your article in the project.



    1. Gerald,

      I’d be pleased for you to use both text or images, as you need. I would enjoy knowing how the material is incorporated into the project.

      I’m glad you found the post useful. The Tree Project is a gem, and a real testament to the people of Galveston.

      If you need, you can contact me at varnishgal At gmail DOT com.


    1. mariawriter,

      I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed it! I envy your recent trip to the Vermeer exhibit, but on the other hand, I just visited the Houston museum’s King Tut exhibit!

      I passed your Vermeer post on to a friend via Twitter – she’s very much a fan.

      Thanks so much for visiting. You’re welcome any time!


    1. philosophermouse,

      Glad you enjoyed it. I hardly can believe I’ve been about this for three years or so. When I started, I was so fearful I’d run out of things to say. Hasn’t happened yet – so on we go!


    1. Andrew,

      Hasn’t it been a year? So many changes – especially your move, and beginning a new life in your beautiful country. Who knows where we’ll be at the end of this year, but I’m absolutely certain there will be many more fine photographs, and a few thousand more words!

      As our Austin-ites still like to say, Onward Through the Fog!


    1. The Hook,

      I don’t know if it’s the most creative, but I did try to give a sense of who I am as a person, with tongue only slightly in cheek.

      You and Andrew have reminded me I need to bring the page up to date just a bit. It’s on the to-do list – along with everything else.

      Thanks for stopping by, and again, welcome!


    1. J.Boudreaux,

      I’m honored as can be, and I do thank you! I’ll come by shortly to see what’s happening – I suspect this means you’ve received some awards, too, which tickles me to death.

      The connecting that happens is one of the best parts of blogging – and I’m glad to have connected with you!


    1. DM,

      Thanks! And l loved your blog. I had to laugh at your comment about taking the boy out of the country, and so on. I used exactly the same phrase in my comments today on my current post, except I said, “You can take the girl out of the midwest…”

      I appreciate your stopping by. I write about a little of everything, but there’s often some weather or country life mixed in.

      You’re welcome any time!


  33. Hi Linda. I don’t even know what made me think of ella today, but I took a chance and googled one more time.. only to find the saddest news from one year ago.


    My heart is broken. At least the mystery is at last solved. I hope you can let others know, or they will see this here; it’s been too long since From Scratch went silent and I couldn’t think of any of the other bloggers that used to post there.

    Best regards to you.

    1. sage,

      I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your bringing the news. I kept searching for her, as did many, and we finally did confirm she still was alive, through postings on the Guardian’s pages. Apparently she was in NYC at one point, perhaps seeking employment.

      The last time we corresponded, she had just moved back to the DC area, and was so happy. Packing up her books had been a chore, but she seemed content. Then, there was nothing….

      I’m so sorry now that I didn’t keep all of her emails, but I have many, many comments on my blog posts which are good reminders of how much we shared. I have a feeling I’m going to have to do some sort of tribute myself – she was a huge part of my blogging life until she disappeared, or, more properly, absented herself.

      It’s all just so painful – but I did get the word to the folks who were her friends on the forums. I know a couple of others, and I’ll send them emails. Life can be such a mystery, sometimes.

      Thanks again. You’re a dear to think of me.


      1. Hi Linda. Thanks so much for passing this along.

        I know what you mean about not keeping things, as I didn’t save so many of her wonderful recipes; took for granted the resource of her blog would always be there.

        It’s nice to meet you although the circumstances are so sad.


    1. elizabeth,

      I certainly was happy when that photo was taken. I’m glad you find a sense of peace and harmony here. Thanks for stopping by – you’re always welcome!


    1. nia,

      I’m so happy to have you stop by. Thanks very much for your gracious comment – I’m glad to meet another one of Julie’s readers.

      Please do stop by again. You’re always welcome!


  34. Thanks so much for commenting on my post — it’s always nice to meet new people in the blogosphere, especially friends of the Hipster! Now I anticipate the pleasure of getting to know you through your own words!

    1. Debbie,

      The pleasure’s all mine. I know people who go searching for new blogs using quite specific criteria, but I much prefer casual discovery and the pleasures of curiosity. Needless to say, the Hipster’s “Debby” piqued my curiosity when she landed in my mail box – and you know the rest!

      I do have a little story about your favorite colors, but I’ll come by your place to tell it. Have a good weekend, and thanks for stopping by!


  35. Thank you for stopping by and commenting on my blog. I like the photo at the top of this page as I used to sail out of Newport Beach when I was in college.

    1. RichardM,

      I was lucky enough to sail Alaska Eagle twice – first out to Catalina during the crew selection process, and then from Hawaii to Alaska, with a cruise of Glacier Bay. It was marvelous.

      I enjoyed browsing your posts. Sometimes this blogging endeavor reminds me of my school days, when I’d sit and read the encyclopedia, trying to imagine how so many interesting things could be contained in one world!


  36. This is a fantastic “About” page. Philosophermouseofthehedge sent me your way. I’m glad I took the suggestion. I look forward to reading more, and by the by, happy birthday!

    1. Glad you like the page. It was fun to put together. I need to do a little updating now, in terms of adding some quotations and changing some music, but it’ll do.

      Thanks for the birthday greetings, too. Another year, another who-knows-how-many-words? ;)


  37. i really enjoy the last quote “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

    thanks for reminding me of what’s out there for me and what i really want inside of me. :)


  38. Lordy, lordy. What a nice discovery. I am so glad you had a look at my blog otherwise, I’d never have found you. This is one h— va blog. So pretty. I want mine to have more appeal, Your writing is over the top good.

    When I began reading about the elephants I thought, oh boy this is great. I have very strong opinions about animal rights and rescues. That is one thing I forgot to add in my about “passions in life.” I am very anti of using elephants in the circus and not the big cats either or any other animal- maybe dogs if I believed they were treated with love and humanely. But this is the wrong place for my comments but I had to do a lot of reading and scrowling to get here. So, I’m going to stop here and return another day.

    1. petspeopleandlife,

      I’m happy you found me! and that you like the blog. I’m still doing some tweaking and have some decisions to be made (again) about its formatting, but I’ve kept it for nearly five years now and still am happy with it. Some people like to change themes frequently, but I’m just not inclined to that.

      Most of the time, I just try to tell a story, and let people respond as they will. One of the most interesting things about blogging is that ten people can have ten different responses to the same entry. But after all – that’s why different people will tell completely different stories about what Alphonse REALLY said to Grandma at the Thanksgiving table!

      Speaking of thanks, thanks for stopping by. You’re always welcome!


  39. I visited the Georgia O’Keefe museum in Santa Fe last November. What a thrill it was for the California women. I have interest in writing and your words above are beautiful to me. I need practice..lol! Roberta

    1. Roberta,

      I’ve never been to the O’Keeffe museum, but I did make it to Abiquiu once, and the surrounding area. I have a lovely red rock from those cliffs in my living room, both as a memento of the past and an encouragement for more exploration – in a variety of ways.

      We all need practice – as photographers, as writers, as human beings. I’m looking forward to peeking in at your “practice sessions”. Anyone who’d take time from shoveling to photograph raccoons is my kind of woman!


  40. Happened upon your blog while “googling” Shulamith Firestone & “feminism/s” after reading the recent article about her in The New Yorker . . . enchanted! . . . I’m hooked!!! / jonathan

    1. Jonthan,

      I just finished reading that article yesterday – it really was fascinating, and contained many biographical details I didn’t know.

      I’m so glad it led you here. I appreciate your kind words and your comment, and of course you’re always welcome!


    1. Over the last five years, I’ve discovered I do have some talent. Now, the question is how to nurture and develop it. Thanks for the encouraging – and affirming – words.


    1. Lisa,

      Wasn’t it lovely? The best part was finding that she affirmed some of my own judgments about my work – especially when it comes to voice.

      I began this endeavor with some very firm convictions about what I needed to do, how I needed to approach it. I have no idea where those convictions came from, but I’ve never been willing to compromise them. It’s felt as though it’s beginning to pay off, and such a surprising confirmation is wonderful.

      Looks like Yoknapatawpha’s turned into a Magic Carpet! ;-)


  41. Hi Linda.

    Pleased to meet you. My name is Kevin Gillespie, I do, MUCH prefer however, to be called Kev. I live in Wales.
    I am now following your Blog.

    Best Wishes. :)

    1. Kevin,

      Thanks so much for stopping by, and for the kindness of following my blog. I have friends in Wales, and always am happy to add one more!


  42. Hey lady!

    Guess where I saw you today? On Facebook! Most of my connections there are nature- and animal-related, go figure. :) Anyways, the South Florida Wildlands Association linked to your Simpson piece! What a hoot.


    1. Christina,

      Thanks for letting me know! I was looking at the influx of hits from Facebook & thinking – what?

      I left a little note at the bottom of the piece, linking back to their page and thanking those who stop by. I’m just thrilled that dear Charles Torrey Simpson is getting a little more play!


  43. Enjoying your writing Linda during a break from despairing over my own!
    It’s become an extended break as I sidetracked to look for Beryl Markham’s, West With the Night, and to order a copy. Thank you for the tip, I’m looking forward to giving it a go. I may have to check out more of your favourites after this one.

    1. Fran,

      How nice of you to stop by – and thanks for the kindness of a comment!

      You’ll love “West With the Night”. There’s been a bit of a discussion over whether she “really” wrote the book, but from my perspective it doesn’t really matter. It’s just so splendid – I’ve just taken my copy down from the shelf and believe I’ll tuck it near the top of the stack for a re-read. It’s one of those I do go back to every couple of years or so.

      I need to update this page a bit, too. I’m just no good at housekeeping of any sort!


  44. What a great timeout you gave me! I loved all of the quotes, and yes, the compass. I planned for more details, but it would get too busy. There needs to be some calm between the individual designs.

    Thanks for the feedback on the compass!!!

    1. Z, that compass is one of my favorites among all the things you’ve done. I don’t know quite what makes it so compelling, but that’s the way I experience it. I know this – a GPS wouldn’t be nearly so attractive in your design. Viva la tradición!


  45. Enjoyed Railroading. Pufferbellies is not a term I am familiar with so it will have to go into the personal lexicon for future ref.A coincidence reading this when just yesterday a steam engine puffed through the station here in Belfast as I stood on the platform and a thousand memories swept after it.
    Check Pat Matheny’s ‘Last train home’ which you will find onYoutube with an amazing piece of Pufferbelly footage.
    Best wishes, G

    1. murphyji,

      Thanks so much for stopping by, and for your wonderful recommendation re: Pat Matheny. In his comment just below, Ron has it right. Pufferbelly is a corruption of “Puffing Billy”. The locomotive itself is in the London Museum – it’s quite a contraption, very interesting. I mentioned to someone that it reminds me of the moonshine stills of some decades ago.

      Apologies for the slow response. As you might know, I’ve been traveling for two weeks, and even though I had my laptop and all good intentions, I didn’t keep up with things perfectly. Please do feel free to stop by again. You’re always welcome!


    1. Ron,

      How nice to see you! And you’re not alone with the communication problems. It’s strange – it seems to be quite random. I wasn’t getting posts from a couple of folks and just unsubscribed and then subscribed again. It worked then – or at least it has to this point.

      In any event, I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and you’re exactly right about “Puffer Billy”. I didn’t realize any of that history, and am tickled to have learned all about the real pufferbellies from folks like you!

      Hope all is well. Sorry for the delayed response. You may or may not know I’ve been traveling, and despite my best intentions I fell a bit behind with responses to comments.


    1. Oldest Daughter Redheaded Sister,

      Thanks so much for stopping by, and apologies for the late reply. I took my laptop with me on my recent trip with full intentions of at least keeping up with comments, but the best-laid plans, and all that.

      This is a great place for people who like boats – or warm weather, as my aunt reminded me during my recent visit. I hope your husband enjoys his sailing – and perhaps you’ll join him?

      Thanks so much for stopping by, and for your lovely comment. You’re always welcome!


    1. Chod,

      Grinning, here. No, no hidden message. I just enjoyed the story about your dad and the black walnuts so much I was sure you’d enjoy them, and everyone loves pecans.

      I finally went over and looked at your site, too. Your business card is great, but I must say that’s one impressive photo in a larger format!

      Thanks again, and enjoy!


  46. Stumbled across your wonderful writing tonight, and am thrilled to have found it. Reading your piece about Council Grove was both fascinating, and pure pleasure. Thank you! I look forward to following your future posts, and dipping back into previous ones.

    1. Rachel,

      Thanks so much for letting me know you stopped by, and for your kind words. You’re always welcome, both to visit and to comment if you choose. I love sharing my travels and my thoughts with people, and I especially love hearing what others think, or what their experiences may have been.

      I hope your new year’s filled with all good things – I’m happy to be a small part of it.


  47. gosh. what a wonderful set of words and ideas and allusions and illusions all strung together with such elegance and thought and beauty.

    we saw your kind comment over at gallivanta’s place and came to visit.


    1. teamgloria,

      How nice of you to stop by. I was delighted to learn of your book, and was especially taken with the way Gallivanta presented it.
      Wisdom is wisdom, and it seems that every generation has its way of discovering the same important truths.


  48. Set up a blog page this past the weekend. Searching for blogs to follow, I came across yours today. I really enjoyed the piece, “Shaping sentences, Choosing words”. Words have always fascinated me. As a child growing up in Saint Lucia (Caribbean), I picked up bits of paper off the streets with words on them so I could see what the words said and attempt to decipher their meaning(s). The piece resonates with me because I’ve always felt that words, meanings, imagination should never be put in a box and chained down. Rather, they should be given wings to fly with carefree abandon so the writer(s) of those words could create truly beautiful, inspirational images.

    I’ve found one of the blogs I need to follow. Thanks!

    Andrew .

    1. Andrew,

      As these things happen in our small world, I’ve been to Saint Lucia. The visit was too brief, but I’m happy that I have at least a small sense of your “place” in the world.

      I so agree with you that words are alive, and seek freedom. I found this small paragraph today, and I think you’ll appreciate it.

      “What’s a language? My son ! It’s not the words from old manuscripts, that you are, with difficulty, trying to decipher; nor words engraved on a antique slab of stone, on a wall, in a cave. Our language is voice, only voice.”

      I look forward to getting to know your voice in this cyber world. Thanks so much for stopping by, and for your kind comment. You’re always welcome!


  49. Hi Linda,

    Read a few more of your pieces since my first comment. You write with a gentle elegance that moves me. Whoever said that history is boring should read your posts. Your every word, every wonderful turn of phrase touches me in a warm, wonderful way. The power of the word truly resides within you.


  50. Hi,

    Just had an email purporting to be a link to your blog. The post, though, entitled Not Dead But Sleeping, doesn’t exist.

    Can it be that you’ve been hacked?

    1. Hi, Ron,

      Can you hear me laughing? No, I’ve not been hacked. I just got reminded again that I’m not much of a multi-tasker, and inattention is a terrible thing. I meant to refresh a draft, and hit “publish” instead. So, you’ll get to read the post eventually, but I think I’ll finish it up, first. ;)


    1. Terry, as a matter of fact, I probably will – and I already have. If you do a search for “sailing” in the little box near the top of my sidebar, you’ll pop up some. In the meantime, here’s one of my favorites.

      I’m in the process of cleaning up my categories, so I’m hoping in the next month or so to have a category list in the sidebar that will make it easier.

      Thanks so much for stopping by. You’re always welcome!


  51. What a lovely place you have here, Linda.

    Your stories really speak to me. Reading them is like sitting down with an old friend reveling in the peace that is the silence.



    1. What a wonderful compliment, Dani. I know just the experience you’re talking about. My friends and I increasingly are turning into porch-sitters — a way of life that provides a good bit of companionable silence.

      It’s a way of life that needs to be treasured and preserved, and I’m just crazy enough to believe it can be a part of our cyber-lives, as well.Thanks for affirming that I’m succeeding here, at least to a degree.


  52. Hmmmm . . . IA . . . Clarinets — memories of 13th Ave? Toboggan’s at the CC? It would be a treat to be in touch again. I must do more reading of your work. From what I’ve seen, it would be well worth my time.

    1. Well, my goodness. It looks to me like we are in contact again. I started thinking about reunions and discovered reunion weekend’s over, but the realization that it’s been fifty years certainly gave pause.

      The last time I was in Newton was for Mom’s burial. I don’t know if you found my post about that, but it’s here, called “Heading Home. I’m in the process of recategorizing posts and redoing the archives — once that’s finished, you’ll be able to just click on “Family”, “Memories”, etc. and find relevant posts.

      What a nice surprise for a Sunday morning.


  53. I just arrived here and found your quotes collection right away. I could sit and think with them for a long time — and then there is the rest of your blog, your own writing and gleanings… I’ll be back, for sure.

    1. I like quotations quite a bit, GretchenJoanna. Often, the ones that strike me are those that sum up experiences I’ve had or conclusions I’ve reached, but haven’t quite verbalized. And sometimes they’re favorites for the inspiration they offer — usually with a hint of humor or tongue-in-cheek approach.

      I’m glad you enjoyed them. Thanks for visiting, and for the kind words. You’re always welcome!


  54. Linda,
    On Monday evening our oldest son serendipitously stumbled across your article about the Terwilliger Home in Council Grove, KS. You did a wonderful job in writing the story, complemented by the comments of your readers and your replies to them. I read the entirety with emotion, and with tears in my eyes, realizing that there are people “out there” who truly understand and appreciate why Shirley and I undertook the gargantuan task of restoring the Terwilliger Home and the surrounding historic site 20 years ago. Thank you.
    Kenneth W. McClintock

    1. I appreciate you kind words, Ken, and I’m delighted to have had a very small part in telling the story of your town and your efforts to preserve its history.

      There certainly are people “out there” who appreciate the work you put into it. I was thinking about it last night, and decided you might enjoy knowing where the commenters came from. The list isn’t in any particular order, but isn’t this amazing? There were comments from Iowa, Missouri, Seattle, Minnesota, Virginia, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Montana, Texas, Louisiana, Indiana, California, Baltimore and Wisconsin.

      Beyond that, there were international commenters from El Salvador, Britain, Canada, Panama, and New Zealand.

      You’ve left quite a legacy, and there are a lot of people who already have benefited from your work.


  55. Linda,
    In your response to Susan in the follow-ups on the article on the Terwilliger Home, you mention Martha Tenney, whose ancestor had a store in Council Grove. I have limited information on O. S. Tenney, and where two locations of his stores were. Feel free to give Martha my e-mail address so that she could contact me and I could pass what little I know on to her–and perhaps I could learn something from her, as well.
    Kenneth W. McClintock

    1. I’ll do that, Ken. Martha’s closed her blog for the time being, but I’ll get in touch with her through email. I know she has a family member or two who have done serious research on the Tenney line, and she was talking of going back to Council Grove. I know she’d be interested in sharing information.


  56. Hello Linda
    On a whim, before reading your latest post, I clicked your About Me page and tumbled into a whole nest of goodies! I love all the quotations, and share many of your likes – helped me to understand more why we follow one another’s blogs. Yours truly is a great talent…

    1. Anne, I was thinking the other day that I needed to update some things on this page — add to them, actually. Your comment gives me a little extra push in that direction.

      I’m glad you enjoyed browsing the selection of quotations, and the likes. It is fun to do pages like this. I think my favorite quotation of all is Hemingway’s. I’ve written several versions of that in my head. The one constant is the faithful cat. The three hundred feeble-minded (this or that) varies.


    1. I’m so glad to have you as a reader, Harula. I saw on your blog that you’ve spent some time in Africa, too — such a great experience.

      There’s so much pleasure in writing, but there’s pleasure in reading, too, and I’m looking forward to reading your blog in the future.


  57. So interesting to read about you! Like you, I am a lover of words, and I have spent the past couple of years at a new art venture with hand crafted books, and I love it. Thank you for introducing me to these words from John Muir “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” ~ John Muir, Naturalist (1838-1914)

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog, amonikabyanyuvva.
      I’m especially interested in your hand-crafted books. I’ve been introduced to the art through my blogging contacts, and think it must be immensely satisfying.

      Muir had the gift of sight, and the ability to describe what he saw around him in such a way that it captures the imagination. He’s as great a writer as naturalist — I’m glad you found something here to enliven your imagination. You’re welcome any time!


  58. Hi Linda, what beautiful images and reflections in your writing.
    I like you already. I’m sure we’d get on.

    I’m not sure how I found you but just wanted to say thank you. I’ll follow and enjoy. I’m a retired high school teacher living on the Gold Coast in Australia. I find my memories (loved your choice of phrase) are queuing up impatiently desperate to escape the little room they’ve been locked in for so long.

    How glorious it is to write.
    I’m writing about my walking adventures with my husband in Italy last year. It’s a passionate journey.
    Very best wishes to you over there. It’s pistol hot here with a cyclone shaking its tail feathers.
    At least it’s wet. We’ve had too much dry…..
    I’m still battling with setting up my wordpress blog, so managing with own facebook page in the meantime. I love your page!


    1. How kind of you to stop by and introduce yourself, Rosemary. Isn’t it funny how we “find” people on the internet, and can’t quite remember how it happened? Your mention of Australia makes me think it might have been through one of the other bloggers I interact with, both in New Zealand and Australia. Of course, it could have been through an entirely different interest, since I roam around pretty widely.

      Writing is glorious. It’s also danged hard work sometimes. The post I just finished and put up yesterday took more hours than I ever could have anticipated. But, when it was done, the satisfaction was immense. When people ask if I’m ever going to publish, I just laugh. Every time I click the little button that says, “Publish” for one of my posts — well, you get my point.

      If you don’t know it already, the WordPress forums are a wealth of information, and questions can be answered there pretty quickly. One of the volunteers is named TimeThief. She knows her stuff, and has been around since the beginning. She also has a blog dedicated to all things WP blogging. You can find it here.

      I know about dry. We had a terrible, two year drought here recently, and wildfires, too. It was sobering, to say the least.

      Again, thanks for stopping by. You’re always welcome here!


    1. Many thanks for your kindness. Some years ago I stopped participating in blog awards. I find the comments and other responses of my readers to be sufficient reward. On the other hand, I appreciate the gesture, and will be stopping by to see the others you nominated, and visit their blogs. It’s an excellent way to be introduced to other bloggers.

      Again, many thanks!


  59. hi Linda its Michael Wilcox how do I contact someone that responded on your Suzanne McAllister page
    I am not familiar with the blog format or protocol the woman’s name is KRYSTYNA
    She said she was a family member of Suzanne’s a granddaughter. I am very close with Juliet and have lost contact with her.

    peace and blessings Linda

    1. Hi, Michael,

      Because of privacy concerns, I don’t share any information about people who post on my blog. In fact, I edited out your phone number and email — also as a matter of privacy and to spare you spammers.

      I did go in and look to see if Krystyna had a public website or blog site I could point you to, but she didn’t provide one. Best of luck in your attempt to re-establish contact.


    2. I was a little slow when I responded earlier. What I can do is send an email to Krystyna, giving her your email address, and leaving any future contact up to her. If you would like me to do that, I’d be happy to.


  60. Hullo ShoreAcres; I just dropped in for a sec and wound up running out of time immersed in your “about” page… Will definitely be back to finish up here (and maybe even read a post or two; ) but first, I just wanted to say “Thank you!”
    You are a lovely and most gracious host: )

    1. Hi, Deb ~ I’m so glad you stopped by. For one thing, you’ve reminded me of my intention to update this page. A few of the favorites have changed, and the change might as well be reflected.

      I’m in the process of re-categorizing posts, too, so people can find things of interest more easily. I tend to roam pretty widely, but do enjoy travel writing, history, and poetry. I’ve written a good bit about Texas, and Louisiana as well — and Kansas, and the prairies. Any of those words in the search box will turn up something.

      In any event, you’re always welcome!


  61. Hey Linda,

    I noticed you were involved with the LCA and ELCA. I worked for a couple years for The American Lutheran Church (ALC) in Minneapolis before they merged with the LCA to form the ELCA. After the merger, the county purchased the church headquarters and tore it down to build the new Hennepin County Jail, at about that time I went to work for the Minneapolis Police Department. I always joked that in a strange way, I got my old office back. :)

    I wrote a short essay about it, titled Sweetness with an edge

    1. That’s an interesting piece you wrote. What’s even more interesting is the way it dovetails with something I read this morning in “Commentary” about confirmation bias. There’s a link in the article to another article that makes use of some of the insights of Jonathan Haidt in his book, “The Righteous Mind.” I think it’s all pretty much to the point, and useful — and you got to your conclusion first!

      I made it up to Minneapolis just once, for a Global Missions Conference. What I remember to this day is my reaction to the airport after getting off the plane. “Good gosh,” I thought. “This place is cleaner than my house ever will be.”

      As it turns out, I was pretty much right. There’s a reason Lake Woebegon’s so funny and so popular.


  62. I finally read a little bit more between the lines of your background. It’s fascinating to me that you varnish boats? I also like your quotes very much, the fact that you quoted from Jose Marti is great, since many radical people are the object of hatred and persecution (I saw the movie “Viva Zapata” with Marlon Brando which exemplifies this), and finally, I’m in love with everything John Muir wrote! We have two friends in common, Steve and Jim. I thought Jim would never be interested in anything I had to say, but I was wrong, he does like plants and imaging. Steve is like my intellectual mentor, I respect him very much and his photography, with which he enamored me. I tend to read more from encyclopedias, however, so even when I have a very general, basic knowledge of literature, I still feel a little bit behind in this area. It’s never too late to begin, however! Well, nice meeting you! -Maria

    1. How nice of you to stop by, Maria. I’ve been out of town, so I’m a bit behind with my reading and commenting.

      Somehow I missed knowing that you’re a photographer, too. Your site is lovely, and I’ll look forward to exploring there. I was interested in your mention of Florida. When I visited the Keys, I was surprised to see so many plants that are identical to ones I knew and loved in West Africa. I was told that some of them reached these shores via ocean current. Whether that’s true, I still don’t know, but it’s a lovely thought.

      Yes, I do varnish boats, and have for twenty-five years now. I enjoy the work, although I must say our sudden surge into summer is going to take some getting used to. I’ve come to prefer cool weather to hot for working: a sign of increasing age, no doubt.

      Your mention of encyclopediae made me smile. I grew up reading encyclopediae, and thought it was one of the best ways to pass a rainy afternoon. I still have a hefty book called “Wonders of the World” that belonged to my grandmother. It was printed about 1900, and had wonderful engravings of Roman columns, African rivers, delicate birds. I think she probably enjoyed it as much as we do our encyclopedia.

      And you’re right about “never too late.” When I think of how much I’ve learned even in the past year, it amazes me. I think the opportunity to learn is one of the best things about the internet.

      Again thanks for stopping by. You’re always welcome!


  63. Linda:

    Thanks for the reply! I’m just so fascinated by the varnishing boat art. It must be an art, isn’t it? I just picture you somewhere in a marina doing this kind of work, but of course, I don’t know.

    I’ve not been to Africa, but most of the flora from the tropics in the Old World is now in what they call the ‘neotropics’. How did they get there, I discussed it in this post I wrote about a year ago, mentioning Thor Heyerdahl who attempted to explain these similarities in his famous ‘Kon-Tiki expedition’.

    My blog is mostly information about plants, and I also write poetry, so feel free to read them and make any suggestions if you like. I really don’t follow any rules with stanzas nor anything like that, because I think it’s more spontaneous the way it is. If it’s going to be a lengthy suggestion, email it.

    Nice talking with you in cyberspace, and have a nice weekend.


    1. I do work in marinas for the most part, although I’ve had a few customers who kept their boats in canals behind their homes. In one case, I worked on a boat that remained anchored out, and went to work in a dinghy.

      Thanks for the link. I’m looking forward to reading the post, as I’ve come to find “plant travel” fascinating. A friend’s son (who was in junior high at the time) put together a video presentation of the way seeds travel, using the Beach Boys’ song, “I Get Around” as the musical track. Clever boy.


  64. Linda, I revised the article of the coconut tree extensively. Why were coconuts important, because it’s what Thor Heyerdahl used to study aspects of migration that he thought supported his theory about Polynesia. Why was he wrong, however, because more valuable proof surfaced that the migration took place from the South Pacific to South America. Thor Heyerdahl, however, did prove the coconut was an indispensable instrument for studying these ethnographic concerns. If you’re interested, here’s the revised article:


    1. Many thanks, Maria. I’ll have a look.

      I did chuckle at your phrase about the coconut being “an indispensable instrument.” Of course those shells have been used very effectively as percussion instruments in musical groups — not to mention being good substitutes for the sound of horses hooves.


      1. Yes, I’m marveled by nature’s way of outsmarting people’s expectations, this is why I’m such a strong environmentalist and made that comment about the coconut. Curiously enough, several trees that grow in wetlands or by seashores, have highly buoyant and tough seeds, able to survive floods in order to germinate later (Thespesia populnea for example, it’s in my blog). The coconut post is brief, however, and very general.

  65. Wow. Your descriptive words of the coffee and winery disasters were both so captivating. What a rich and amazing background you have. Almost like some sort of Herman Melville heroine.

    Like Jackie Robinson had said, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”

    1. No heroine, Melville-style or otherwise, but I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Clearly, the people of Oak Island, including JIm and Glenda, and Terry and Joe, have had influence far beyond their immediate communities.

      Thanks so much for stopping by,a nd for your comment. You’re always welcome here.


  66. Hi Linda – what an interesting life you’ve lived and continue to experience. I am so interested in your work in Liberia – were you there before the civil war broke out? I spent time in Ghana in the early 80s and may get a chance to go back for a project I’ve become interested in. Loved your 2008 post on Suzanne which I just stumpled upon….

    1. Initially, I was in Liberia in the mid ’70s. I returned in the mid-80s for about six weeks, between Samuel Doe’s coup in 1980 and the civil war. There certainly were some interesting experiences during that second visit: none of which I’d care to repeat and some of which bear an uneasy resemblance to tendencies in our own society.

      That Suzanne post is interesting. I think I may revise it slightly and repost it. I wrote it very, very early in my blogging career, and it’s my most-viewed post. That has nothing at all to do with me or my writing, and everything to do with the public’s interest in Leonard Cohen, et.al. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

        1. That’s an interesting post. I was upcountry, at Phebe Hospital, and it was Lassa Fever rather than Ebola that was of concern in those days — at least in terms of the fevers.

          One of the best to follow on Twitter for information on Liberia, West Africa generally, and all of Africa when warranted can be found here. I tend not to post much on Twitter, but I do find it a good way to get information not available through major media.

    1. When I started blogging, I came across another blog by a young woman who had this as her tagline: “If I don’t have anything to say, I won’t say it.” I thought that was wonderfully wise. Later, I added my own little rule: “If I have something to say, I’l try to use just the right number of words to say it. But I get to choose the words.”

      The fact that you enjoy some of the words I’ve chosen is reward enough for me — and encouragement, too.

      Thanks for stopping by. You’re always welcome here.


  67. I have just started blogging, and while looking for blogs to follow, I stumbled upon yours.
    Lord, girl, how I envy you!
    I love the Gulf Coast…three friends and I vacation there every October. We rent a private home right on the beach, relax for a week or two, then reluctantly return to our ordinary lives.
    You are living the dream.

    1. Truth to tell, I had to smile at your comment about my living the dream. I’d say it’s quite the opposite — I’m living a pretty nitty-gritty reality, but I do enjoy it.

      It’s nice of you to stop by, and I appreciate the comment. I hope you’ll visit again, and feel free to comment on posts. We tend to be a little chatty around here, but we have a good time.

      Enjoy your new blog!


    1. That’s about as close as I could get without being there, isn’t it? Again, I have to say how much I enjoyed your post today. It was like a great affirmation — and clarification — of things I’ve been mulling over for a few months. I do enjoy finding just the right words at just the right time.

      Thanks for stopping by. I hope you find something of interest. Comments always are welcome, though never necessary.

  68. It’s only been about 2 weeks since I happened upon your blog and have entertained (if that’s the right word) myself thoroughly reading many of your posts. It just this moment dawned on me, how your writing style matches your “work and environment.” Each of the posts I’ve read, have the quality and movement of the sea when calm with a vast horizon – coloured by a late afternoon sky.

    It intrigues me to think about your hidden and blessed life on the TX Gulf Coast, only 70 miles south of me.

    Lastly, I thank you for putting so much heart into your posts.

    1. I think “entertained” is a very good word, Elizabeth. I have some family postcards, sent in the days when postcards were the primary way of communicating, that speak of my grandmother and great-aunts going off to “entertainments” from time to time. Sometimes, it was a dance or concert, but it might well be a Chatauqua-style lecturer come to town. In those days, entertainment could inspire or inform, as well as bring enjoyment. I try to do the same.

      Many people don’t realize that, in Texas, seventy miles is practically next door. In fact, my favorite spot for blueberry picking, Mr. Moorhead’s place near Conroe, is a 70 mile drive. It’s hard to believe that blueberries and blackberries are ripe already, but so it is. Summer is here.

      A word that nicely sums up hidden and blessed might be cloistered. I suspect you understand how many forms that can take.

      I’m so glad to meet you, and hope you will visit again. ~ Linda

  69. I truly believe the pleasure is all mine in meeting you Linda. And yes, cloistered is a most suitable word (what a “knowing” comment for you to make).

    Digging through your archives are wonderful past time for me since I enjoying your writing so very much.


    1. It just occurred to me that “discalced” is equally appropriate: at least now. Spring is that wonderful season between winter and summer when I kick off my shoes at work. The decks are beginning to get too hot for that little pleasure — at least in the middle of the day. Still, it’s another unusual fringe benefit that comes with my work. It certainly beats a reserved parking place.

  70. Linda (you Darlin’!) I am currently rockin’ around the kitchen, while listening to The Pine Leaf Boys’ album Blues de Musicien and all because I went looking for one of your favourite songs: “Jig Cajin”… And I’ve also, by the by, just ordered it from my local music store… C’est merveilleux. C’est manifique. Merci beaucoup, mon cher!!
    Dare I look for any more titles on your list?; )
    Pinwheels & coffee… It’s cold, windy and raining here today and throwing a tray of pinwheels in the oven sounds just about perfect; )

    1. That’s funny. I was thinking recently that I need to update my About page, as some favorites have changed: but not the Pine Leaf Boys. It’s some of the happiest music I know, and perfect for rockin’ around the kitchen (or the dock, or the garden, or…).

      I just read of cold weather in Illinois. We’ve been so hot and humid that people are declaring summer has arrived. I’d love to send you some warmth, but I’m off to dig out that recipe for you, instead.

    1. What a wonderful gesture — thank you so much! It’s true that I decided some years ago to forego participating in awards, but of course it pleases me to know that others enjoy my blog. Your comment gave me quite a smile this morning. Thanks again. ~ Linda

  71. Hi there! You complained about the heat and humidity and I couldn’t remember where you lived, so I checked your bio, and I’m sure it’s been ages since I read it last – wonderful life experiences and twists and turns you’ve taken!

    I’m with you loving the flatiron building and West with the Night. “Pilgrim” (Dillard) was great for a while but she got on my nerves…blues, zydeco and Gregorian chant – yes! Exactly. Do you know Arvo Part and Henryk Gorecki? Also very interesting…I’ve wanted to visit your part of the world for a long time, for the birding. Maybe next year!

    1. I’ve been tardy in responding because I’ve been searching for what was right under my nose: this “Atlantic” article about Dillard. It’s interesting, and may pick up on some of the reasons you (and I) have grown more ambivalent about her writing.

      I was thinking yesterday about my need to update this page. For example, the choice between ocean and mountains has become an irrelevent choice. Today, I’d post “ocean or prairie” as the choice, but when I wrote this, I hadn’t yet discovered the prairies — another sign of the changes we go through, and of new twists and turns that are in process now.

      When I wrote this, I didn’t know Arvo Part, either: now, he would be included. The favorite songs have changed, as have the books. The quotations? They all get to stay.

      If you come for birding, you must come in spring, for the migration and the fall out over at High Island and the Anahuac Wildlife Refuge. The Audubon Society has four or five refuges at High Island — the place on the coast that has the greatest number of migrating bird species in spring. At one of the refuges, they have a blind built especially for photographers. It’s large, with room for relatively few people, their tripods, huge lenses, and so on. You have to reserve a space ahead of time. As I recall, it’s $25 per day, and reservations can be made online. If you want, I can send you all the links to the various pages.

      1. So many trips, so little time…sure, send the links and I’ll save them, thank you! The Dillard article still left me feeling twisted – the author seemed caught in a web of strong opinions. Strong opinions are good, but there are ways to express them that are less – constricting, somehow. I don’t know! Anyway, thanks for mentioning it. BTW, I never went any place as exotic as Africa for work, but I started with a BFA in Fine Art, later lived in a Zen community for five years, and then later still, back to school for an MSW. So we have parallels!

        1. Indeed, we do. I suppose the willingness to move from “here” to “there” — sometimes, multiple times — is the underlying resemblance. I’m in the process of another transition myself, from the sea and sailing to the land. It’s exciting, and I have plans — but, as you say: so little time, when there are so many things I want to do. Of course, as I remind others and need to remind myself, we have all the time there is. All we need do is decide how to apportion it!

          Here’s the basic link to the assortment of sanctuaries on High Island, and here’s the link to the information about the photo blind. Reading it again, I see that it’s possible to reserve a spot for up to five days in a row — good for someone who’s come from a distance!

          1. Happy 70th and many revisions to come! Did I say I am totally with you on both/and? Such an important insight. I’m sorry I don’t get to your blog more often, but there’s the matter of full time work, and the smidgens of time one has for photography and one’s own work, leaving even less time to read. Eventually….I will work less and enjoy more time for coming here, and going here there, and everywhere.

            1. I certainly understand those time constraints. Choices, all the time. I’d hoped to be out with the camera yesterday, but instead spent all day working on my new post. Do I regret the time spent? Of course not. But now it’s Monday, and work calls. Even when we achieve both/and, sometimes it becomes obvous that both/and/and/and/and isn’t a realistic possibility!

              It’s the enjoyment that counts. I always enjoy hearing from you, so come when you can, and I’ll keep trying to produce posts that you can enjoy!

  72. I had to jump in here, in the middle of this thread, to thank you for posting that link about Dillard. What a tour de force it is! I haven’t read all of Dillard, by any means, but her early works really affected me and inspired me to write. The last thing I read was For the Time Being, and I wrote a sort of frustrated review of it. She was certainly all over the place. https://gretchenjoanna.com/2010/02/20/review-for-the-time-being/ Now I must look and see if you have written anything on her.

    1. I came to Dillard through “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,” and it’s been one of those touchstone books for me ever since. I’ve used her “The Writing Life” as a substitute for every how-to-write course offered, and it’s done rather well for me. Together with Flannery O’Connor, Faulkner, and Lawrence Durrell, I have enough good writing advice to last me the rest of my natural life.

      As for being all over the place — and uneven in quality — it’s natural as can be. Even the best can produce utter rubbish from time to time. Of course, the good news in that is that even the most mediocre and pedestrian writer can produce the occasional gem: something I try to keep in mind!

    1. I see we have more in common than a love of Leonard Cohen! I was tickled to see how you’ve living out your calling, and enjoyed the way you’ve woven different aspects of “word’ into your blog.

      I’m glad you happened across my blog. Thanks for letting me know you visted — you’re always welcome! ~ Linda

    1. I think that’s right. Life is life, no matter where it’s lived. Many face different, and more serious challenges than I do — and perhaps you, too — but all of us have coping abilities we hardly imagine. Summoning the will to make use of them is the challenge.

  73. Dearest Linda- like many others I too stumbled across your writing while doing some research on Leonard Cohen, who I enjoyed but never followed as closely as I perhaps I should being a fellow Canadian from nearby Ottawa. I was so disappointed and distressed reading your piece on Suzanne and rather blown away by Cohens lack of interest in her after such a one time closeness and his success as result of such! Actually, I think his treatment rather shabby but should not critize too vehemently. Perhaps out of sheer preoccupation or selfishness I too may have done the same to someone in my past !

    Truly fascinated by your beautiful writing and selfless life which as I read my comment I feel is a totally inadequate description of your accomplishments and talent. But then I am not a writer so excuse my not being more able to properly sum up my actual enthusiasim. Will keep in touch via your wonderful blog.

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Nancy, and for your nice comments. Clearly, people around the world feel a degree of loss, and just as clearly, some people who haven’t known Cohen’s work are curious enough now to explore it. That’s all to the good.

      Through the years, I’ve come to believe that there always are two sides to every story, and sometimes there are many, many more. I’ve always thought it curious that two Suzannes figured in his life, and wondered if it was simple coincidence. There’s no way to know, really, but in th end it’s unimportant. What’s important was his life and his work — models for us all, in many ways.

      Again, thanks for commenting. You’re always welcome here. ~ Linda

  74. I remember the name shoreacres, but I don’t remember your blog from a year+ ago. I admit that I have a notoriously bad memory, but, still, how could I forget your blog, given your gift for writing and your fascinating history? I’ve got you on my new RSS feed aggregator. (Something new for 2017.) As at least one other has said, how I wish that we could drink morning coffee together, in the flesh! Wishing you a marvelous 2017, and somehow I expect you’ll make it that way. –Aggie

    1. I think we bumped into each other over at Bill’s blog — “Practicing Resurrection.” I’m almost certain that’s when I started following you, and learned that you were up in a section of Texas I pass through now and then. Before I’d made another run up to Kansas, you’d already moved and shuttered the blog, so I’ve just been waiting patiently to see what would happen. It certainly sounds as though it’s all good.

      I don’t think you ever stopped by here. You probably just remember my name from my comments at Bill’s, or once or twice on your blog.. But I’m happy to have you here now, and I’d love that cup of coffee! Who knows — it may happen. A happy 2017 to you, too. It’s going to be great fun to learn more about your new life.

  75. I am enjoying your new format although I find it a bit more difficult to scroll down and read comments which seem to blend into each other.
    Your About page is lovely. I enjoyed reading about your fascinating life, made even more fascinating by the depth of each of your comments to all.
    It is as if you are still a chaplain of sorts.

    1. I know. I’m not happy about the comments sections, either. I’ve seen others using this theme whose comments are laid out better, but they’re also using options for their main pages that I don’t like so much. It may be that the options come in “packages.”

      Now that I have the “About” page reworked, I’m going to find some time to ask the friendly WP people about it. There might be a way to rework things using CSS. If I could move peoples’ names out to the left, to match up with the body of their comment, instead of indenting them, I think that would help. I’m so happy with everything else, I really don’t want to try another theme.

      I did notice something, though. Some of those run-together comments and responses at the top of this thread may be an atifact from my earliest blogging days. The system used to work differently, and that could explain some of it. I’ll explore.

      I did take the time while redoing this page to read through the comments again. So many people! Some have died. Some have simply disappeared. Some have become dear, dear friends. It’s quite a history, really — and, if I may say so, proof that an online comment section doesn’t have to resemble a cesspool. I’ve only closed comments on one post — the earlier Leonard Cohen post — because commenters had the option to post to the newer piece. Otherwise, I trust people to behave — and they have. it’s really heart-warming, actually.

      1. Agree on all points.

        Comments out to the margin would help greatly…that and perhaps adding a gravatar to each comment. That would differentiate them a bit. Otherwise, what a fresh new look. You have a large large following…justly earned! And yes, life goes by, doesn’t it. The secret is to notice the “going by” while it is happening.

        My first blog was on the Blogger platform. In those days, I had no idea that I should be responding to comments. My blog won Blog of Note, one of two that Google awarded per day. At that moment, I had 35k hits but had no idea what that meant. I was running my business and was using the blog to communicate with parents and would-be clients. It wasn’t until I left Blogger, bought my own address, and migrated it all to WordPress that I realized what I had lost, in terms of readers.

        Most people, if treated as if enlightened, behave that way. That has been my experience with my many students throughout the years.

        1. Good suggestion re: the gravatar. Does it help for you? I remember now why I eliminated them when I started the blog, but WP has changed the things that made that my preference.

          Also, it confirmed what I’d thought about the first comments in this thread. My gravatar doesn’t appear until 2011, about three years after I’d started the blog. Clearly, there was something different about the commenting procedure then. We’ll put that in the category “fact of life” rather than “problem,” and truck on down the road.

          And, doofus me — I just looked again and realized that the “indent” for the comments was, in fact, the space left for the gravatar. Now that I’ve added them, I’ve functionally moved the comments to the left margin. Live and learn!

  76. How nice to sip my cafe con chocolate y leche while reading your ‘about the writer’ info. Via written word or phone makes a poor substitute to a visit in person, but this was quite satisfying and enriching! Thanks!

    Of course we are on the same page for many of your attitudes, favorite quotes, etc. ” A hundred miles from anywhere” is such a wonderful attitude – shows your optimism and reflects what you addressed in your most-recent post “At Seventy.”

    My crazy burrito mini laptop went into spasms several times yesterday (it really needs to be put to pasture) and in one of those moments, it must have selected ‘notify me of new comments,’ which had my mailbox quite popular this morning! Seeing those comments gave me a smile – and extended that coffee break.

    Skies are blue this morning, but the rainy season has returned with serious rainfall. Rain here, cold weather in the northern hemisphere, reminds me of an old quote, “A smooth sea never made a skillful mariner…” and another, “All sunshine makes the desert.”

    I treasure your posts and WP friendship and am a better person for knowing you. Thanks, Linda!

    1. Who knows? Maybe this will be the year we finally get to share a café in real time. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Since I’ll not be making it to Ecuador, that would mean you’d have to come to the States, but that would be fine — as long as there’s no unhappy reason for the journey.

      At least for the time being, I seem to be fully functional, tech-wise. I’m happy with all things WordPress for now, and I’ve found that my new iPad does offer some advantages — like weather forecasts and radar when the electricity goes out. All I have to do is remember to keep it charged.

      I have some other projects lined up — like little duckies in a row. With #1 and #2 already taken care of (the template change, and this revised page) it’s time to move on to #3 and #4. There will be more about them in the relatively near future. I’m clearly overcommitting myself, but as Bernstein said, “To achieve great things, two things are needed ~ a plan, and not quite enough time.” I’ve got both of those covered!

      We’re back to warmth, with rain coming this weekend. No matter — there can be blue skies even when it’s raining. That’s what I wish for you!

  77. It’s weird – after the many comments you left on my blog, I read your About page for the first time. You have such an intriguing background. It seems that we could sit down for coffee and keep talking for many hours. When were you in Liberia? I know someone who spent time there before the war started and helped build the medical clinic in the slums of Monrovia that is still in existence today.
    I also love your quotes, especially the Wittgenstein statement!

    1. I was in Liberia in the 70s — based in Phebe Hospital in Bong County. Then, I returned for a visit in the mid-80s: post-coup, but pre-war. It was a wonderful time with wonderful people — and a few not so wonderful, but that’s the way of the world.

      Not everyone digs Wittgenstein, so it tickles me that you like that quotation. It’s one of my favorites. Thanks for stopping by — it’s always a pleasure to read what you have to say!

  78. Thank you for leaving your fascinating comment on BlueBrightly’s blog today (August 5, 2017). I finally looked up your blog because of it. You write beautifully—and take some pretty nice photographs to boot. I’ll be back.

    1. How nice of you to visit, Linda. I appreciate it, and I appreciate your kind words. When I began this blog, nearly ten years ago (I hardly can believe that!) I worried that I wouldn’t find enough to write about. That’s not been a problem.

      Since you enjoy photography, you might also enjoy following the new blog I set up just this year, called Lagniappe. In the same way that I used this blog to develop my writing skills, I’m hoping to use the new one to develop my photography skills. Lynn and I have talked about the tension between writing and photography, in the sense that either can be demanding of time, and it’s hard to decide where to focus. Still, I’m enjoying both blogs, and that’s enough for now.

      Thanks again for stopping by. ~ Linda

  79. Have been thinking of you a lot the past few days. How are you doing? I hope you are well. Will keep my fingers crossed for you,

    1. I’m fine, Pit. I’ve always appreciated the view from my third-floor apartment, but at this point, it’s the elevation I’m liking. Here in League City, there have been many totals over 40-45″, and at the Johnson Space Center, they’re received 43″, more or less. Probably more, now.

      But I have power, so I have coffee, computer, and a contented cat. It’s still pouring rain, but the winds have shifted to the north, so the system’s moving.

      I’ll be posting some pics to my blog later today. I haven’t ventured far because of flooded roads, and can’t take many pics yet because I’m not about to take my camera out in pouring rain, but there will be a few — including one of a deer that will astonish you!

      Thanks so much for checking. I appreciate it.

  80. How nice to have found your blog via your comments on one of my posts! I am glad that you made it safely through the storm and were not flooded. You life story is interesting. I will enjoy exploring yours as we share the same coast.

    1. I’ve been thinking about it, and decided you may well know some blogging friends of mine — Justin and Kayla Butts, of Four String Farm outside Rockport. If you don’t know them, you can find them here. I’ve been following them since they began developing their organic farm. They’re quite involved with the local/sustainable food movement, and I know have been providing veggies, pastured pork, and such to a store in Rockport. The last time a storm came through Rockport and flooded them, they invited their customers to come and help harvest the ripe produce from kayaks!

      I have such affection for that area, and so many good memories. I’ve written about everything from the Lydia Ann lighthouse to my gr-gr-grandfather’s march up San Jose and Matagorda Islands during the Civil War, but one you might enjoy is “Skinny Waters” — my tale of running aground off Key Allegro, and having to have a rudder rebuilt by a couple of local geniuses.

      See how I can run on? I’m so happy you stopped by, and I’m looking forward to getting to know more of your world, as well.

  81. ‘anchored to my dock like a barnacle to a piling’ I love that sentence, a sure sign of a very interesting writer! You’ve certainly had a life of variety, and like me are heading towards your 70th year and still have a passion for life!
    And many thanks for the follow on my blog! :)

    1. How nice of you to stop by. I’m looking forward to exploring your blog; I certainly found several topics of interest there, and already have found some information that will be helpful as I pursue new projects.

      Your mention of that 70th year startled me. It’s hard to believe more than a year has passed since I re-wrote that bio. Maybe I ought to update it, like I do the copyright notice on my blog. I’m always rather proud of surviving another year, and think how much fun it will be to write about my 80th year! Here’s to us both, and to the fun of proving that aging doesn’t have to be a grim business.

      1. Aha, I wasn’t thinking when I read your bio, of course it wasn’t a recent post. So i’ll always be trying to catch up with you!
        If you ever want any free help with book covers or anything just give me a shout, l’m no expert but I love experimenting.

  82. I came here from Becca’s blog and so glad I did – it is very nice to peruse your blog posts and then reading the about page was a treat. You sure have an inspiring side and the O’keeffe quotes were wonderful to read today:

    “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.”

    and your modified version – so good:

    “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.”

    1. Well, hello! Thanks for stopping by — you’re always welcome here. I’m glad to find someone else who appreciates that O’Keeffe quotation. It’s been part of this page since the very first day of my blog, and it –and my little revision — will be here until the end. I must say I’m not anticipating an end, though. I worried when I started this that I’d run out of things to say, but I still haven’t, after ten years. I’m probably good for a few more!

  83. Hi Linda,
    Seems ages since we met on here discussing vulchers.
    I am still hanging in there finding my way around word press hence addressing you as Linda rather than ‘Shoreacres’ in this instance.
    I really enjoyed reading your post about washdays.
    Take care

    1. “Linda” is just fine. If I’d known more about how blogs work (as well as the internet in general) when I first began blogging, I would have used my name. Now, I’d lose ten years of history if I changed, so I just leave it as is.

      Glad you enjoyed the current post — thanks for stopping by to say so.

  84. what an utterly wonderful and interesting life you have led. and continue to lead. like you, my life has taken me down a variety of paths, and led to many chapters. i love the peaceful calm and beauty of your blog, and look forward to reading more. thank you for taking the time to read and follow mine as well. best, beth

    1. “Chapters” is a good way to describe it, I think. Of course there were the usual trials, tribulations, and unexpected detours along the way, but that’s life. I certainly never expected to be maintaining a blog — or two, now — but it’s great fun, and I’ve enjoyed being introduced to so many people from other parts of the world. I’m glad to have met you, now, and look forward to following you, too.

  85. What an amazing story you continue to write with your life, Linda. Our paths are very different, but I see many similarities at the core. I went from the prairies (my first love) to the ocean (via the big city). I studied sociology and religion in college because I loathed accounting and my father said ‘study anything you want because you can always get an MBA’. After many years in Finance, I have finally returned to these favorite subjects of study, but rather as a hobby than to the extent that you have employed them. Your question is my question (How Can I?) ….and I always find that in the end, I can. Lovely to have met you through Lexie’s blog.

  86. This must be the richest, most imaginative, thought-provoking ‘About’ I’ve read… loved your choices for music and books and paintings – so many of them my favourites too… what a shame the Antipodes are so far from Texas so we could have swapped a few other joys over a cup of coffee – or a glass of champagne…… best wishes…

  87. I loved this. I’m hopeless in many ways so I don’t tend to look at my About page but today I decided to and came across your comment made on my blog almost before the invention of electricity. I was intrigued and impressed and so came across to your blog and about page and I’m so glad I did. It a wonderful place to visit. I’ve done a fair amount of sailing myself and my ancestors were boat-builders so some of your experiences resonate with me. I hope all is good with you!

    1. I’m so glad you stopped by, Peter. I used to follow your blog, but at some point WordPress went all glitchy and I lost quite a few people from my list. Yours was one I missed when I reconstructed things, so that’s been remedied, and I’ll be pleased to stop by again.

      As for boats: who put it better than Rat? The whole quotation’s so much better than just the single line:

      “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing… about in boats — or with boats. In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not.”

      I’m done with sailing, but not with the messing about. I hope such pleasures still are yours, as well.

    1. I’m doing what I can to keep the latter years of my life as interesting as the first. This little blogging endeavor’s part of it, of course. Thanks so much for stopping by, and for becoming part of it.

  88. One of the things I love about WordPress the most, is that at times I can stumble into some amazing posts which lead me into blogs from people like you whose writing I admire. I find your blog exactly this way, and your About page is one of the more thoughtful that I have read. All of your posts I have taken the time to read show amazing skills in the way you bring the reader into your post as if we were sitting beside an old friend sharing a coffee and chatting the morning away, and your thoughtful replies to those who do reply to your post are one reason why people look forward to your next writing.

    I don’t think, however, that I would ever accept a dinner invitation from you after reading this particular response on this page … “my writing grows like the fuzz on the thumbprint in the jello in the dark closet.” At least, not if you are doing the cooking. I’ve never heard of anybody keeping their jello in the closet until now.

    I think I’ll come back to here though. A great blog.

    1. I’m chuckling. That jello-in-the-closet trick was a science experiment in 5th or 6th grade. We were learning about penicillin, and how it was made from mold. My closet was one of the warmest, darkest places I could find to let my jello grow its mold once I’d smooshed my thumbprints into it. I never serve jello these days, but if I did, it would be sans thumbprints.

      I had a bit of a surprise when I looked at your About page. The very first ‘like’ there was from TimeThief, who was one of the first people I met on WordPress. She was such a help when I was setting up my first blog, and one of the best Forum volunteers ever. I rarely visit the forums or her site any more; I need to check and see if she’s still around.

      Thanks so much for your kind words. I do think of my readers as friends, and hope the feeling is mutual. As you’ve probably noticed, my topics are varied and sometimes unpredictable, but I try to do my best with whatever’s caught my attention.

  89. Had to come and “meet” you after reading your comment on Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge this morning. I am glad I did. Beautiful words, lovely pictures and posts. My favorite kind of blogs. Following you now with pure enjoyment!

    1. How nice of you to stop by. Any friend of Phil’s is a friend of mine — no question about that. It’s delightful to meet new people in this way, since it’s almost always a given that there will be things in common. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s happening under your palm fronds, and getting a glimpse of your part of Florida.

  90. This is my first visit, like many I think brought here by the “Suzanne” story, but kept here by your lovely posts. I’m studying writing, specialising in creative non fiction, and your writing is beautifully lyrical, and a whole lot more comprehensible than many modern works. You’re writing in a different world from me – I’m in Scotland – which makes much of your work even more interesting, and exotic.

    1. I’m glad you happened by, and I’m glad you found something pleasing while you were here. I especially enjoyed your pairing ‘beautifully lyrical’ and ‘comprehensible’ when speaking of my writing. I don’t always manage both in the same post — none of us does, I suppose — but when I manage it, I’m happy.

      I have at least two other readers from Scotland that I know of: one in Glasgow, and one in Edinburgh. I’m glad to add you to their numbers — and thank you for commenting, to let me know you’re here. You’re always welcome to comment on posts, or not, as you please.

    1. I’m so glad I found you, and I’ll be pleased to have you stop by. We’re a casual, chatty group here, and you’re welcome to comment, or not, as you please. You may notice that there’s no ‘like’ button on The Task at Hand. That was an intentional decision when I started the blog, so don’t wonder that it’s not there!

      One of my favorite bloggers is an artist in the Finger Lakes region who exhibits at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, Virginia. His name’s Gary Myers; he blogs here and his work’s really interesting. If you’re ever in the area, it would be worth stopping in.

  91. Sounds like you have had an amazing life. I took sailing lessons when I was in my teens, but never had the chance to follow things up. I do love the ocean though, love scuba diving (well used to) and snorkelling and coastal scenes.

    1. I didn’t know I had a touch of claustrophobia until I pondered scuba diving. Snorkeling’s fine, but that’s about my limit. Now I’ve moved on to other interests, but I still love the water, and I’m glad I live near the coast. I’m not so fond of the storms, but every place has its challenges.

      Thanks so much for stopping by; you’re welcome any time.

  92. What a joy it was to read this Linda. Although we’ve enjoyed each other’s blogs for many years I had somehow missed reading your intro. Truly my loss. Some of my favorite music, quotes, and authors are on your list. I suspect that your experiences in Liberia are indelibly etched in your mind … and quite possibly influenced your future. I know that my time working in Sudan during my formative years certainly helped shape my character. I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed learning a bit more about you. All the very best, Terri

    1. How nice of you to stop by, and what a lovely comment. You’re exactly right that many of my Liberian experiences are etched in memory: both those of my years working there, and especially those of a return trip for travel. As for influencing my future, there’s a strong ‘yes’ to that observation, too — but most of that is better shared in a café over a glass of wine than in a public blog!

      I do read your blog entries, although I generally don’t comment. At this stage in my life, travel blogs can be difficult reading, since I’m neither retired nor financially stable enough for the kind of travel that still appeals. So, like a sailor deciding to make the move to a trawler, I’m in the process of readjusting, and finding ways to explore the world closer at hand. Not surprisingly, it’s been far more satisfying than I’d expected, and I hope to continue blogging about my own gallivanting for years to come!

  93. Well…I started by reading your Spoonful of Sotol post and while ruminating about the tricky plant’s stems I decided to reread your about page on Lagniappe.From there I trekked over to the same page here. You know, after several years of exchanging comments and a few emails I thought I sort of kind of knew you. Well, I just learned that as much as I liked you as a person, writer and photographer before, this reading has me liking all those traits even more.
    I’ve led a fairly narrow and focussed existence, working at the same job for 40+ years and pursuing photography for about the same. Your world experiences make me wish I had travelled more and liked people a bit more than I do. I still like my life but am a just a little envious of all you’ve done and how tall you have “stood up to live”. Proud to call you “friend”.

    1. Link-hopping can be fun! I haven’t read this for a while myself, and I wondered whether it needed to be updated. I suppose it couldn’t hurt, but I might wait until next fall, when I turn 75. And I think I’ll save this as a separate page, for purposes of comparison.

      I have had an interesting life. Some of my decisions weren’t especially practical, especially in terms of financial security. I sometimes experience serious envy when I read of others’ travels — or lens purchases! On the other hand, I’ve known a lot of people who went through the years saying, “When I retire, I’m going to do this or that,” and then, once retired, succumbed to incapacitation or early death. At least I’ve avoided that, and I’ve had experiences that others only dream of. Even my work has provided rewards: particularly a certain degree of freedom — and no HR departments!

      Of course, it’s not all been sunshine and roses; some of the most interesting tales I could tell are better left to conversations over drinks on a front porch, rather than the public pages of a blog. But I suspect that’s true for us all. There isn’t a ‘tell-all’ book in the world that’s really told it all — thank goodness!

      Who knows? Maybe sometime in the future you, Mary Beth — and Bentley! — and I can share a little time together. It sure would be fun.

      1. Money ain’t everything. A lifetime of experiences is of greater value than deep pockets and the privilege that tags along with that. But, a little of both is a nice combination. One of the things about nature photography is the knowledge that when I do retire, if ?, is I’ll be active. Too many folks work their lives away and when that comes to an end life might also. It’s good to have something to occupy our mind and body beside leisure. Mary Beth stopped working when her MS got to be too much but she keeps herself active busy and is probably more happy as a retired person with a disability than she might be healthy and working. Aging is funny. Many of us don’t look forward to being old/older but not everyone experiences the privilege of having an old age.

        There’s always some little nugget to share that slipped our mind and an intimate conversation, or just idle chatter, rings a little bell and there it is, some story that was long forgotten to share with a friend.

        It certainly would be nice for us all to get together sometime. Bentley would love to meet you!

  94. Thank you for pointing me to this post, Linda. Reading this made me realize that I only know some bloggers by their work. One can get a sense of who bloggers are from reading their posts, but it’s incomplete. Perhaps that’s why there’s a sense of community among WordPress bloggers. We accept each other’s offerings at face value with little judgement.

    If I may offer a corollary to Georgia O’Keeffe’s words: what is of interest and importance is what we are doing with where we are right now. Nevertheless, it would be good to step back every now and then and re-focus on a wider view. We are more than what we say or do.

    I’m forever grateful for your wisdom and kindness.

    1. I think the sense of ‘community’ among bloggers depends on how a particular community was built. Certainly good content is one key; I’ve believed that from the beginning. Shared interests and commitments make a diffence, too. There are thousands of excellent blogs on subjects that don’t appeal to me at all; I leave those alone. And even among the excellent blogs that do appeal, there simply isn’t time to visit them all. As more than one person has said, “So many blogs, so little time!”

      In any event, I’m glad you’re enjoying my little corner of this world. My re-focusing on the wider view for this year is going to involve more writing. I’m glad I began my photography blog, and intend to keep both blogs rolling for the foreseeable future, but a little more discipline is needed. Even bloggers can’t serve two masters, it seems — not easily at any rate!

    1. I knew I recognized your avatar, but couldn’t place it. Thanks for mentioning how you arrived; I appreciate the visit, and look forward to seeing your part of the world.

    1. Well, thank you for this note! It may be that you’ve only clicked the blog title (e.g., “The Task at Hand” or “Lagniappe”) and not the title of the individual posts. If you click the blog title, you can pull up a series of posts, but the comment box doesn’t appear until you click on the specific post, like this one. The comment box is at the bottom. I hope that helps; if it doesn’t let me know so I can consult with the WordPress gurus — and thanks so much for visiting!

  95. Hi – came here from ally bean blog – and wanted to say thanks so much for the helpful instructions to access the classic editor.
    many thanks –

    1. I’m not particularly ‘techie,’ and I’m often as frustrated by WordPress changes and glitches as the next person, but as I found bits and pieces of information about how to return to the former editor, I put them together in a simpler form. If only the people who write manuals for cars and cameras could do the same thing! Glad to help out.

      1. Hahah / yes if only manuals and instruction booklets were this Clear!
        And I thought you were super tech minded so thanks for noting that
        Oh and I set up two posts in classic editor last night and it felt so good.
        Thanks again
        And I am going to post your directions on my blog if you do not mind – I will give you full credit – but if we can help one other person – well it will be worth it

        1. Thanks for sharing the instructions. Even giving credit wasn’t necessary, but thanks. What’s important is helping people know they have options — at least for now.

  96. I’m not sure I ever read your “About” page. This is wonderful! And kudos again for helping (many of us) navigate Word Press into the Classic Editor. I love your blog and your “soul” full writing.

    1. It’s amusing to me that my writing ability rather than my tech knowledge that ended up helping with the editor. So many of the explanations weren’t clear; they just needed some serious editing, so that’s what I did. I’m glad it helped you, and I’m glad you enjoy my blog!

  97. Hi Linda, stopping by to see who wrote the helpful comment on my blog about the vitreous detachment. I’m so glad I did. Your “Who Am I” page is wonderful and am happy to meet you.
    Your adventures are interesting and love how you describe your life in the words of Virginia Wolf, “A Room of One’s Own.”
    I’ll stop by again and take care!

    1. You’re always welcome here! Whether you comment or not, I hope you’ll find some things that please you. The Task At Hand was my first blog, and it’s mostly for writing. My second blog, Lagniappe is more for nature photos. I enjoy them both, and after all — isn’t enjoyment supposed to be part of life?

      1. I’ll check out your other blogs too. Thanks for sharing the info.
        I’m sure I’ll find interesting pieces to read. From what I read so far, your writing is eloquent and cheerful.
        Great question posed at the end of your comment. True but middle age woes put a dent in that venture. Yet God blessed me abundantly; it’s all good!

    1. I suspect it’s that nice little bulb that allows it to bloom throughout the year: at least, sporadically. Tucked away in the earth, it’s protected from the frosts that can damage other plants. Its appearance is delicate, but its nature is sturdy and tough.

  98. Well, it looks like we’re going to be friends. I wandered over here from Nikkipolani’s, skipped about your site, read about you, and decided that anyone whose favorites include Paton, Markham, and Least-Heat Moon had to be worth more than a skip. Nice to meet you. I’ll be back. Nikki and I need to finish our visit first. I’m looking forward to getting to know you better.

    1. How nice of you to stop by ~ and welcome! As you’ve no doubt figured out, I love conversation, and always enjoy the exchanges that take place here. I suspect you’ve also realized I have two blogs: this one for writing, and Lagniappe for mostly nature photography. I’m still enjoying both — and that’s what counts, for me. I’ve visited Nikkipolani’s for such a long time I can’t even remember when or how I found her, but as the saying goes, “Any friend of Nikkipolani’s is a friend of mine”!

  99. Oh feels like I am welcomed here already. Just that I had to scroll down the earth of this computer to write, felt like climbing the last parts of a mountain. Also was interesting to reading about sailing to finally find you love the mountains more. ha ha.

    1. How nice of you to visit here. You do have to be cautious, though. Just because I like the mountains best ‘today’ doesn’t mean I won’t like the prairies (or sea, or forests) best ‘tomorrow’! People sometimes ask which is my favorite flower, and I like to reply, “The one I’m looking at.” It’s a big and varied world, with much to love, and I enjoy sharing my explorations with people.

    1. And hello right back, from the Texas coast! Thanks so much for stopping by, and for letting me know that you did. Despite the age on this bio now, it still mostly applies. I need to go through and update a few favorites, and add a quotation or two, but I’m still happy with it — and happy that you found it!

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