The quote below my name at the top of this website appears across two stained glass conservatory windows at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. The significance and context of these phrases – separate quotes from two different Shakespeare plays and the only written words inside the house – remain an enigma whose solution went to the grave with Sarah Pardee Winchester.

Unlike Mrs. Winchester, I am very much alive, and my sojourn in San Jose only lasted two years. My name is Tamara (rhymes with camera, three syllables), and my surname, Siuda, has a silent i. I am also no billionaire hermitess plotting unending construction out of grief or a canny desire to keep my fortune from the unworthy. Instead, I live in a modest space in Portland, Oregon, with a giant cat named Zigzag and an even larger collection of books. You could call me a hermitess – aren’t we all in the midst of a pandemic? But my privation is less Mrs. Winchester and more in the mold of the Coptic martyrs I studied for the Ph.D. dissertation I completed in 2018.

Few things miss my interest if they have a story attached. I’m lucky: the world is filled with stories, and I’m out to read them all and write a few in the process.

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