About Me

I was born in Pasadena, California, in the early 50s, then raised in nearby Sierra Madre. During the hippie era, I headed back East for college. I majored in art history and printmaking at Wheaton, in Norton, Massachusetts. During summers, I worked as a lifeguard and swimming instructor at the Sierra Madre public pool.

I loved working with kids, so after finishing my BA, I obtained an elementary teaching credential from USC’s Graduate School of Education. 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 for five years, then took a break and had two fabulous kids.

When my children were two and four, I got divorced and returned to school, first just at night. Unfortunately, teaching would not support my mortgage. (In those days we paid 14% interest.) The classes I’d liked best when studying art were on printmaking. Art Center College of Design was just up the road from me in Pasadena. It took five years to obtain my BFA in Graphics and Packaging, but it provided the perfect flexible career for a working single mom. 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. I also taught. I enjoyed passing on my craft to budding designers at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, where I’d moved in 1995.

Since I was a baby, I dealt with a father who suffered from paranoia and schizophrenia. He seemed like an eccentric crazy person when I was young. He was loving, exciting, and usually fun. But by the time I was 28, the demons were getting to him. Many of my friends in high school knew of him as The Man in the Purple Cow House. That’s what I titled the book I wrote about him, which Hope Publishing launched in 2005. Since then my ‘career’ has morphed from being a package designer to being a professional writer and book designer, and an amateur genealogist. I describe my books on the My Book page on this website.

My latest is a children’s picture book about Henry Knox (a 5x-great-grandfather) called Henry’s Big Kaboom. I wrote it as a sing-along ballad to appeal to my grandchildren. Check out the YouTube video of the animated version of the book. (You can watch it for free!) I forgot to mention I’ve also become a YouTube creator. Very fun.

But the blessings of my life are spending time with my children, grandchildren, and old corgi, Annie. As I write, we are in the 5th month of the Covid-19 pandemic, so I’m also nurturing a kitchen garden.

Be well, be kind, and, if you can’t change your life, change your attitude.

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Thank you for joining me.

5 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Oh my! You’ve endured a lot but it sounds like you’ve got a handle on life. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade-sounds like you’ve done that. You also seem gifted so I’m looking forward to following your adventures!

  2. Quite a story! Glad joined our PW group and enjoying the lighthouse rally! Let’s hope the rain stops.

  3. Mary,

    My wife was at my parents’ house and noticed “The Man in the Purple Cow House,” and brought it home today since she’d heard me speak of the Purple Cow House.

    I knew your dad very slightly because my dad (Robert Haugaard) knew him quite well. I flipped through the book looking at pictures and saw the Ventura Beach House, and remembered when we visited your family there and how I played with you and your brothers.

    I also saw the balcony at the Santa Monica apartment, where we visited him once. One incident sticks in my mind: I was watching the traffic on PCH from the balcony when a man stopped his car to look under the hood. Just as he did that a woman in the front seat honked the horn at him. He jumped and went back and spoke to her (too far away to hear), then went back to look at the engine again. She did it again. It happened about three times, then they drove away.

    Anyway, I suspect we were there because your dad wanted to ask my dad (an architect) for help in dealing with the city. I suspect that is the case because my dad later became very frustrated because after talking to the city planning department and working out what he thought was a very reasonable compromise, he said your dad completely rejected it.

    Very best,

    Brad Haugaard

    • Hi Brad. Wow. What fun to hear from you. Your parents were terrific. They were the other ‘Bob and Kay’ in my life. I had an aunt and uncle Bob and Kay, too. Your mom wrote me not that long ago. Are they still around? Thanks for writing and sharing your memories. Take care. Mary

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