bench (2)Ok, the guy’s a writer, so why is there a picture of him making a bench?

I don’t see the two activities as that different. When I moved back to New Zealand I thought I would just walk right into a job. It didn’t turn out that way, and I had a lot of time on my hands. And I have a lot of energy. AND I like to create things.

I found a whole bunch of old wood chisels in the shed that belonged to my partner’s grandfather, and after a few days of cleaning and sharpening they were ready to use on all that wood abandoned under the house.

My first novel started the same way. Some skills that needed cleaning and sharpening, some old ideas left under the house … It was a lot of work. But it sure was fun. Both were things I had never done before (building a bench or writing a novel). But I knew I could learn, or at least, as my mother would always demand in her quiet and supportive way, ‘just do your best’.

Oh yeah, about me.

I was born and raised in Northern California. It was a fantastic place to grow up: the Sierra Nevadas were on the horizon, the American River Canyon was right below the house. Many a day, and sometimes nights, was spent down there. I was lucky to have parents who always questioned the party line. I also grew up with a huge map of the world on my wall. When I got old enough I checked myself out of high school, slaved away in some manual labour jobs (including on the railroad, but mostly digging trenches and hauling lumber around construction sites), and finally bought a backpack and travelled the Pacific. It was my first visit to where I now call home, 35 years in the past when my hair was half way down my back, and much thicker.

I lived in the UK for almost 15 years, and my grown daughters are still there. Then Alaska … what an incredibly beautiful place! I had a favorite glacier, as you do. I got to watch bears and eagles, as well as a year in the total dark (and light) of the arctic. And (back) to New Zealand, now three passports in hand, in a way only those circles tend to happen in life.

I currently teach and crew on a double hulled voyaging canoe (waka hourua) teaching others to sail as I continue to learn, and hosting school and youth groups. As well as write books and make benches. One recent book is our crew manual and sailing curriculum. Everytime I learned a new skill I wrote down how. As I’m still learning, I’ll have to update that book soon.

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