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I was born in Los Angeles, California, to everyday storytellers living in a storied land. My family moved from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara County when I was nine years old. Though only 100 miles north, it was a world away from the city. Here, my love of the landscape, local characters, and historic tales–bordering on myth–were fashioned into the home of my heart.
As a child, through oral histories and books, visits to museums, and historical sites, the past seemed hardly a breath away from the present.
I imagined the Chumash, residents for more than 13,000 years, performing sacred ceremonies by the light of stars. I could almost hear the rumble of a stagecoach as it traversed the wild and treacherous San Marcos Pass. I daydreamed about the bandits and pirates who pillaged – shores and valleys – at their whim.
And, my imagination was captivated in learning about the lives of humble, hard-working people, the townspeople, fisherfolk, farmers, and others who were like my own family, friends, and neighbors. Their lives, luminous and significant, resonated most of all. They set me on a path of discovery.
Even as an adult, I have always kept company with the past.
Without a college degree, I had little access to academic resources myself. And, I had few financial resources to help in my search.
Yet I craved the deeper poetry revealed in true stories, the artifacts and photographs, and history’s imprint left by those who came before me. My imagination and creativity were fired. I was set on a course of discovery.
Despite what I didn’t have, I found avenues for my creativity that were freely available and cost little to nothing. I made a start.
In 2008, while working as an executive assistant for a local non-profit agency, I took a creative writing class through adult education. On evenings and weekends, I began to research and write about Santa Barbara County. I learned to use free Apache Open Office software. I received a camera as a gift and took up photography. I edited my photos using Gimp, GNU, the free online Image Manipulation Program. I started a blog about Santa Barbara County, California. I sifted through historical and contemporary resources and wrote dozens of posts in Cartas…Letters from Home.
As more historical information became accessible online–especially in the public domain–I found newspapers, film clips, magazines, and books, that were often
obsoleted or discarded, forgotten with the passage of time. I had my own unique window into the mundane and the lofty.
From the tumble of stories collected over a lifetime, my love of writing and research, a historical mystery began to take shape. I have completed my novel, Reckoned by the Light of Stars, set in Santa Barbara County of the 1920s. I am seeking representation in hopes of publication.
I have started a new blog on this website, focused on historical Santa Barbara County and the larger world of the 1920s, a time that in many ways mirrors our own. Links to the sites used in my research are included in each post.
Thanks to creators of open-source programs like Open Officec and Gimp, I had a no-cost venue to explore my creativity.
Today, online materials that were not readily available even five years ago are accessible to anyone with an internet connection. The scope and variety of materials in the public domain continue to increase, and helps to put true history in the hands of the people.
History can tell its own story, one that cannot be appropriated, banned, erased, or denied.