Karen and Her Writing Shed

The banner on this blog is what my writing shed looked like when Tom and I moved into our home in November of 2001. It had been Tom’s family home since 1952. My father-in-law, Gene Darter, built this shed and used it to store his rock collection. And what a collection it was.

2002 was a hard year for us. First our cat Rug (named so because he was so relaxed) was killed by a car barrelling down our street. That was in the first week in August.

As we went outside to bury Rug in the backyard next to the shed, the phone rang. It was Ed Brush, our high school English teacher who we had remained friends with over the years and who is responsible for Tom and I connecting after 25 years. “I know I’m dying,” he said, “I want to say goodbye.”

Ed died three weeks later. When we remodeled the shed and added landscaping to the yard, we planted a butterfly bush in front of the shed in honor of Ed. A few of his ashes helped it to grow and now it towers over the shed.

Gene helped us bury Rug that day, taking his turn shoveling dirt into his grave, his voice cracking as he said, “Rug was a good old cat.”

Gene died in November 2002.  He was 91 years old. His final words — “I’ve had a good life, but I’m ready to go. I think I’ll get in my car and get out of here.”

Here’s what the shed looks like now.

My writing shed is infused with the memories of:

Rug, a cat who expected to be loved;

Ed, who taught me the love of language and called me a child of his heart; and

Gene, the gentle man who called his son, my husband, Sweetman

24 thoughts on “Karen and Her Writing Shed

  1. Pingback: Writing is My Dowsing Tool « Writing Shed

  2. That is beautiful, Karen. I’ve always marveled at people who had a certain place where they write. A place of memories and significance. Of history and relevance. I’ve recently begun to let go of my inhibitions and reclaim my writer spirit. That, combined with my freelance copywriting, has been the most liberating thing in my life yet.

    Thank you for letting me know that your writing shed exists.



    • Amber,

      It’s really nice having my own space. How did you hear about my blog? I’m always wondering how people hear about it. And, where are you located?



  3. Hi Karen,

    I am a frequenter to Judy’s blog, Zebra Sounds, and I came across your comment regarding being energetic in the face of failure. I’m always looking to expand my WordPress community so I thought I would have a look at your blog and reach out. My WordPress blog is ajamesediting.com. I’m a freelance copywriter and tortured narrative nonfiction writer.

    Thanks for asking!



  4. Pingback: The Doll Who Hid the Toilet Paper « Writing Shed

  5. how damned sweet. goose-bumps and almost a tear, but i aint gonna do it, Karen. aint gonna let your beautiful little story bring the poet out of me. no ma’am.


    • Thank you for visiting my writing shed. It’s really special having a place like this. What’s even more lovely is that my husband is totally supportive of it. When I thought about moving my technical writing business out to the shed, he discouraged me from doing so. He wanted me to have the a dedicated place for my own writing.

      Please visit often. Writing the post for Fear of Writing got me out of the doldrums. I have posted a new blog today.


      • That was smart of your husband. I would have had the same instinct as you – it’s all writing, so maybe I should consolidate – but I think he’s right. Your own writing needs its own consecrated space. Mine is all jumbled together at one desk. A writing shed sounds sublime.


  6. Hi Karen, I found your blog via the GHS Alumni Facebook page and this post brought back memories of my favorite teacher of all time. I was in the GHS class of 68. I’ve been fortunate to encounter, since then, a series of such life changing and seemingly chance friendships — and when I do I always think “this is in the tradition of Ed Brush”..


    • Hey, Barbara! Ed Brush was a force of nature. I assume you know that he died in 2002. I had just moved back to Livermore. I was close to his family over the years, so I was privileged to be a part of his final days. I wonder what my life would have been like if I hadn’t had him as a teacher. I believe he was one of my major influences in becoming a writer.
      Thanks for connecting with me.


  7. Yes, I heard that he died. I thank him for my writing life as well; I’ve never stopped. BTW I happened across the piece you wrote about the impeachers outside the post office. I was in Livermore in May 2010 and encountered them. I am a usually reserved person but the nazi mustache put me over the edge and I ended up in a shouting match with one of them.. No police called though… but good for you. Keep up the fight.


    • Yeah, they were really offensive. The whole anti-Obama thing has been offensive. It has not been the equivalent of anti-Bush sentiment — there’s a racist undertone to the anti-Obama stuff (mostly). Where do you live now?


  8. I have lived in Nebraska (Omaha) since right after college. Mostly a red state but in 2008, our district went “blue” for the first time since 1964 — and with that went one of our 5 electoral votes.


  9. Pingback: Writing by Hand | Writing Shed

  10. Hi Karen:

    I saw you on the CNN coverage about the idiot QANON Mayor of your community. Well, due to pandemic mask protocols, I presume it was you !!! How are you and Tom doing up there?
    I lost your email address, and no-longer receive your blog postings. Perhaps you have been going through what I have the past year or so (no-writing / no-painting, with creative muses “hiding in closets”). I had one brief day of writing following the Inauguration, yet the “killer-bitch-wanna-be” (freshman congress woman from Georgia) and many others of her ilk have me psychically stressed and anxiety-disordered, due to what I perceive as a huge existential threat to our American Democracy. While I can pray about such things, I sense I can “do” nothing to fix the underlying problems. what you and your friend have done in your community is a terrific starting-point (confronting the lunacy eyeball-to-eyeball).
    When I was painting, I made a terrific leveling-up and self-realization to be a studio painter working from sketches, studies and photos, rather than struggling with distractions on-location, since I have ADD. That realization really improved the quality of my work.
    Carolyn continues to do amazing work — http://www.carolynlord.com your blog-interface refused to take my art website — so it is http://www.robanglinart.com
    Say hello to Tom for me, and know that we are (both of) YOUR fans.
    Rob Anglin — Livermore


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