Greetings! My user name is ChesPal. My first name is Debra. I am married to Wikipedia contributor User:Cullen328. My main interests at this time are food and craft-related. I consider myself to be an excellent amateur chef, and I have a cookbook collection which is probably close to 400 volumes. My "favorite cuisine" depends on the season and what is available at the market. My main influences in cooking are Jacques Pepin and the late Julia Child. I would truly love to meet Jacques (I can dream, can't I?). On the more active front, I love hiking and backpacking. I climbed to the summit of Mount Whitney in September 2009 for our 28th anniversary. Given the fact I have arthritis, I am very proud to say I reached the summit of the tallest peak in the lower 48 states. I work with my husband in a small family-owned business as the office manager (e.g. chief cook and bottle-washer). I honestly love what I do and have been very happy to learn that I have a natural aptitude for our business and enjoy interacting with customers. My favorite activity is to meet customers and then get the job. What I love most about bookkeeping is that the numbers are concrete figures and I enjoy the detailed work. We have our two adult sons. Our younger son is developmentally challenged. Our elder son is involved in our family business. He is also a talented musician and is part of a heavy-metal band. We also share our home with 1 cat and a Boston Terrier.
I've been a political activist, focusing mostly on rights of the disabled, for much of my life. I am severely hearing-impaired and have been very grateful for the huge advancements in technology over the past 30+ years. For the past several years I've been very active in our local politics, and in 2010 I volunteered many hours to campaigning on a grassroots level which I found to be most gratifying. I understand the NPOV related to Wikipedia and will strive to do my very best with fact-checking and providing a well-rounded perspective to the issue being discussed.
I love books and had quite a collection before I was married. I suppose my late mother being a teacher and then a librarian had something to do with this. It's pretty hard for my husband and I to pass by a bookstore, especially a used bookstore, without going in to browse. Browsing is fine, it's the buying that makes a difference, but we certainly get ideas for what we might like to purchase in the future. Antiquing is also a favorite hobby and we have covered much of Northern California browsing for antiques -- mostly old books and green pottery influenced by the style of the Arts and Crafts movement.
I am a native-born San Franciscan, and I have lived in the Bay Area all of my life, except for when I went to college. San Francisco is still my number 1 favorite city, closely followed by New York and Chicago. On the more local front, the Napa Valley, where I live, certainly caters to my love of fine food and wine.
I began learning various forms of needlework at a young age. I started with embroidery at around the age of 6. I learned knitting when I was 9. Sewing came next and for many years I made most of my clothes. Later on I added needlepoint and crocheting to my list of crafts. Knitting, however, is my first love. I've included photos of some of the projects that I've made over the past few years. Photography has been a long-time hobby of mine, and I hope to upload a lot more photos (illustrations) as time goes by. I generally include my own illustrations in articles I have written or expanded. I learned construction skills as a youngster. In the early years of my marriage I worked as a cabinet maker for my late in-laws. Today I'm a professional in the construction business with my husband and older son. I use these skills both professionally and when I engage in personal wood working projects.
In the early 1970's I became involved in advocating for the rights of the disabled. It was an amazing experience to see the Americans With Disabilities Act become law. I was active in the Deaf Community in the northern San Francisco Bay Area for approximately 15 years. During that time I gave birth to our second son, and advocating for his rights then became a huge focus in my life. I am glad that I have had the experience of understanding what it is like to be challenged. I believe that it is important for each person to be the best that they can be, whether they are challenged or not. In more recent years I've been active in local politics which has been wonderful. We've made friends with so many fantastic people in our community.
I mentioned earlier that my late mother was a librarian. I worked as her assistant during summers when I was in high school. I became proficient enough as an adult to run a small library as a full-charge librarian. I love doing research for articles that I want to either expand or start from scratch. Lately, I have been collaborating with Cullen328 on research for articles. It's kind of like playing detective, and it is fascinating to take the research and turn it into an article for Wikipedia which can be considered useful information.
As noted above in my introductory paragraph, I am married to user Cullen328. We've been married over 30 years. Time has certainly flown by. For anyone glancing at his user page you'll notice he is a prolific editor. I, on the other hand am much slower at picking and choosing my subject matter. I tend to be passionate about the subjects I edit, which means I like to take my time with the editing process.