Instead of my face, I think I should take a picture of my keyboard since that’s how most of you know me.
Oh, there I am! Ancient Underwood perched on an even more ancient rolltop desk. I’m the resident typist. And I do a few other things around the shop at Golden Witch, but there’s a whole website here if you want to explore my craft output (and a small portion of my writing – yes, I type much, largely on typewriters, beyond the scope of the company). If there’s one thing I don’t do in quantity, it’s sleep.
I substitute objects for images of myself regularly. When I apply for Pro Accounts with various sporting goods or sporting clothing manufacturers, I typically send them a picture of an agate stripping guide in place of the required self image. I tag that photo, this photo, actually…
with some sort of statement explaining that I rarely leave the shop, so that an image of my craft work is more indicative of my being an outdoorsy person (in thought, if not in deed these days), than a thirty year old scanned photo from my active youth. Yes, somewhere there are pictures of me climbing rocks, kayaking through foaming gorges, standing on a boat with a famous flyfishing guide, etc., etc. These days, these most-recent twenty years especially, the most accurate photo that isn’t a keyboard or an agate stripper might be an increasingly haggard fellow, balding, greybearded, hunched over, and peering through magnifiers at the relentless work in progress on the guide making bench. This rodmaking – then rod component making – career has been good, so I’m not complaining. It kept me out of the noose of someone else’s tie and allowed me the freedom to be around the house & shop as my kids were growing up. They saw me as ‘always working,’ but I know that if I was working in the corporate world they’d have seen far less of me. I know because I grew up nearly ‘fatherless’ only because dad’s corporate job consumed the bulk of his time. To spend time with dad, who was gone all week from sun-up to sunset, I went to work with him on Saturdays at 6:30 AM, enjoying the car ride and often a late-morning break by way of a breakfast of pancakes at some local dive, but around that time, I worked as his gopher doing age appropriate, then age inappropriate, chores. By late afternoon or evening, we had the ride back home together. It was something.
Now there’s a great change coming. I’m starting this Founder’s Bio not so much as a retrospective on what I have done, but as a speculative endeavor to suss out what I will do before there’s no bio left to graph. By my side will be my wife, Steph. Though not a Founder of GW when it originated, she is absolutely a Founder of where we’re headed in 2023 and beyond. She merits space here alongside me. I recently suggested that she needs a job title and thought “Factotum” would serve well, covering all manner of sins. She hates the word. How odd. It’s from the Latin…a portmanteau cognate of sorts, meaning ‘makes all’….i.e., she gets everything accomplished. I thought that was quite complimentary for the resident chef, keeper of tallies, planner of travels, and all the rest. Well, she still hates the word for the way it sounds and is plotting some better job title as I type this.
Yesterday I had a client write, asking, was there was any chance in hades I had a few culms of A+ Tonkin left in stock? He elaborated, suggesting he might be willing to lop off his left pinkie finger to get some A+ bamboo. Tempting? Hardly. When I wrote back early today to explain that the remnant A+ culms had been purchased by a single buyer (‘every A+ culm you have left in the shop’), I did let him know that as a general rule, even if I did have stellar culms available, I don’t swap body parts for boo. That would be frightening.
There and then, in the too-late (to modify the text) instant when I was already hitting “Send” on that email, Steph walked over with her morning coffee and asked what I was up to. The overlap, the simultaneity, of these events cannot be fully expressed within the linear progression of this paragraph – to fully grasp the speed, the quickness of her wit, you’d need to watch these events unfold, verbalizations spilling over the clicking of the keys, as in a tight-knit play. I told her that I’d just replied to the fellow who offered me a pinkie and that I’d declined the trade. Without a moment’s hesitation, she quipped, deadpan, “You should have told him you’re so busy, you need a hand.”
I laughed. She smiled. Then, with great seriousness of tone, and with a coy twinkle in her eye, she said reservedly: I could be your Jester.
So, as a working title, until we find a better one, Steph is the resident Jester (and unacknowledged Factotum).