I was born and raised by the gigantic Sierra Madres in Pasadena, California, where I attended public schools. There were 1200 of us in my graduating class at Pasadena High School. We had the champion football team for the state that year. During the Hippie era, I headed back East for college. I majored in art history and printmaking at Wheaton, then obtained a teaching credential from USC’s Graduate School of Education in LA. I got married four weeks after passing my last exam. That seems young to me now, but I was the last of my friends to get married. I taught elementary school in the Pasadena and Menlo Park Unified School Districts, which was long enough to pay off my husband’s undergraduate loan and for our living expenses and the house we lived in while he went to business school. So I took a break from paid work and had our two children, who are fabulous.
By the time my kids were four and six, I had divorced. I returned to school to obtain my BFA in Graphics and Packaging. It took me five and a half years. Today, Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design would grant me a master’s degree for that. But in the 80s, they wouldn’t. So, I ended up with two complete bachelor’s degrees. In those days there were a lot of part-time jobs for graphic designers. It was a perfect career for a working mom. By the time my kids were nine and eleven, I could work full-time. I created toothbrush and prophy-paste packaging for Oral-B Laboratories, theme parks for the Walt Disney Company, bottle labels for Nestlé Beverage Company, and video game packaging for Electronic Arts and Sony Computer Entertainment. Sony printed 2.5 million copies of the Online PlayStation® packaging I designed for them.
I also taught. I passed on my skills to budding designers at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, where I moved in 1995. I had my own company for a while, but I discovered I liked being on the assembly line as a designer better than managing other people. So, I gave up my chic office on Sansome and opened up a home office.
Meanwhile, I wrote a book about my dad called The Man in the Purple Cow House. That got me interested in genealogy. Teaching the history of typography at the Academy of Art, led to other historical interests: Renaissance history, the Reformation, and why my English ancestors moved to New England, hence my webBook Before Winthrop. Those led me to the history of the Portuguese looking for a route to the Far East, hence my webBook, Crossing the Ocean Sea. Today, I use my graphic design skills to publish books. My latest is a children’s picture book about our ancestor Henry Knox called Henry’s Big Kaboom. It’s a sing-along ballad for my grandchildren. You can buy the paperback and hardback from Amazon or watch the video on YouTube.
However, all this writing and working at my computer has given me fanny fatigue and a desire to be back in nature. This year, I bought a campervan so I can see my nation’s national parks and back-road towns as well as travel with my aging corgi. This blog is about my travels, my genealogical research, and my third most favorite passion, being a grandmother to three little boys.
Thank you for joining me.