Introducing the writers who regularly contribute articles and columns to the Patagonia Regional Times. Look for more profiles in upcoming issues.
My wanderlust began in Hawaii, the second of five children. Dad was a career Naval Officer and mom a nurse who graduated from Patagonia High School in 1948 after grandpa moved there to work in the mines. When Dad was in Vietnam, we lived in Tucson and almost every weekend traveled to visit Grandma and Grandpa Schmidt in Patagonia, spending summers down at the creek. We grew up moving to a new state almost every year with all seven of us packed into the old station-wagon with a big slobbery dog!
After two failed attempts in college, I landed a job at the Washington Navy Yard. Eight years later I was ready to escape the heavy traffic, snowstorms, and the humidity, so I trekked out to Long Beach to work at the Shipyard and turned in my high heels for steel-toed boots and a hard hat. The weather was great, and I lived two blocks from the beach, sweet! Then the wanderlust kicked in and my next journey took me to Germany and Italy for five years.
Just outside of Venice I met my exceptional husband of 26 years, and followed him to Virginia for a year, then off on a four-month camping adventure across US National Parks, ultimately landing in Tennessee for 13 years. We ended up in Whetstone working at the Fort in 2005, and then to Elgin in 2013 to plant a vineyard and sell wine grapes to the local wineries. We were more than ready to settle down to play in the dirt with our tractors, shovels and pruning shears and stay busy!
Fond memories: graduating high school in Virginia Beach; raising cattle, adopting wild horses, and learning how to garden and can in Tennessee; watching the moon rise over the temples and obelisks at Karnak – imagining life 2,000 years ago; adoring my grandkids, meeting incredible people, loving family and friends, and enjoying every sunrise and sunset in Arizona. La dolce vita!
PRT founder Walter Andrew began recruiting me BEFORE I moved to Patagonia in January of 2013! He was a determined and persistent fellow. Soon after I hit town, I began writing for the paper and joined the board of directors. In 2021, the PRT still has me solidly in its grip.
My spouse, Judy Clegg, and I live in Patagonia the majority of the year and are Arizona residents and voters. We still spend summers on Vashon Island near Seattle.
I had an eclectic career in Seattle working in the public and nonprofit sectors in the public health, environmental, mental health, and affordable housing fields. I loved my work and was proud to surround myself with smart, committed, and fun people who knew more than I did!
The beauty and richness of the landscape of the Sky Islands is a major draw for me. Hiking, birding, and photography are important parts of my life here. Equally important is living in such a vibrant and quirky community.
Patagonians have a remarkable array of histories, skills, talents, and perspectives. I contribute to Borderlands Restoration Network, the PRT, Patagonia Youth Enrichment Center, and periodically to several other local nonprofits. It is mostly very, very rewarding.
A few things you might not know about me: I lived in Afghanistan for eight months in 1975; I have jumped out of an airplane for fun, twice; three time during my career I traded in all my retirement savings to pay for travel adventures; and I grew up in a place where the snow was occasionally over my head, Buffalo, NY.
An avid Patagonia adoptee, I moved “over the hill” five years ago after 20 years in Tucson. Besides writing and shooting photos for the PRT, I’m a practicing architect, “for people, place and planet,” as my business card states. After phases of university teaching and general contracting, in recent decades I’ve focused on residential design, and have had about a dozen projects in Santa Cruz County. Other strands in my fabric are mapmaking, ecology, genealogy, meditation, skywatching, visual artmaking and an abiding love of stone. Three family members held patents, so I’ve got some engineering nerd in me as well, probably why I calculated the depth of the shaft at the Mowry mine, after dropping a rock and counting seven seconds for it to hit bottom. I once said to my mom that my playmates included lines, words, and images.
Two of my children live in Arizona, one in Vermont, and I have no grandchildren. To me, “desert rat” is a positive term, and with partner Carolyn, I love local explorations in the Sky Islands, ever delighted to come across stuff like animal tracks, crystals, salamanders, fossils and really big trees. In these relentless months of pandemic restrictions and years of toxic politics, I feel extra strongly that being with nature is powerful balm for the soul.
After cancer, thinking about what to have engraved on my tombstone (if I have one) I felt Nietzsche, though important, was a little dark when he wrote “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” Instead, I now want it engraved with “We live among and because of miracles.”
A westerner most of my life, my parents dragged me from New England to southeastern Idaho in my early teens. Moving to the ranching and potato-farming community of Driggs, Idaho on the back side of the Tetons was startling, yet ultimately delightful, and fostered a love for the outdoors and a quiet life. I moved back East only briefly in my 20s, then, like so many, returned to the West for good.
I spent one part of my working life as an elementary reading specialist in Park City, Utah, helping 1st and 2nd graders unlock the wondrous mystery of reading. Then for almost ten years, I worked in community outreach for a clinic for people without health insurance. There I had the opportunity to write stories about the clinic and its patients and volunteer doctors, as I developed and produced a monthly newsletter and website content. And, after 38 years, my husband Chuck and I also had the opportunity to get really tired of the eight-months-long winters.
Chuck and I and our two children began visiting Arizona when my parents retired to a ranch just outside Fort Bowie in the Chiricahuas, then to Vail, in the 1980s. We spent days hiking and learning the flora and fauna of the Southwest, and fell in love with the desert.
So, we felt we had come home the day we drove into Patagonia five years ago. The PRT was a big part of our introduction to town. When I first read that there was an opera house, a choir and an acoustic music group, and Chuck learned about Borderlands and the hiking group, we were sold! Now we are thrilled to be living here; small-town life and the people of Patagonia really suit us. And writing for the PRT has been a wonderful way to learn about the community and to be engaged during the pandemic.