Technological Trauma…

Dearest readers, the thing that scared me most since my husband’s death back in June of 2016 was what I would do if and when my computer system failed.  This has believe it or not been a pretty harrowing week, and I feel completely awful even mentioning the stress I’ve experienced as friends all over the country are losing their homes to all sorts of calamity.  My little computer woes are just small little skinned knees in the game of life.  Yet, they brought me to my knees, because I run a business and my late husband was the most amazing tech support anyone could wish for. Indeed it was he who developed my first website, way back when AOL was the only game in town and you were limited to 9 letters.  Hence ‘weaversew’.

My computer components were a number of years old and beginning to show signs of wear.  Sudden blue screens, failing memory ports on the motherboard, overheating, failing USB drives.  I had hoped to limp through until I finished teaching for the year, in mid November, but my anxiety level was out the roof and every time I logged on I needed that proverbial drink.


On top of the hardware challenges, my eShop is failing, the original platform my husband installed to run the shop was from 2005, not even licensed or supported at this point.  I’ve been researching alternatives to the current platform I use, and they all make my head swim.  And the hosting company that services my blog and shop, anything with the ‘weaversew’ suffix, is frequently down and misbehaving.  Nothing has been upgraded in many many years, too many, and the signs are clearly written in bright neon that I need to take care of all this.  Now.  Like yesterday.  

Meanwhile I get on a plane for Cleveland on Friday.  This means that I have to walk away from things that aren’t right or only half way, or less than the professionalism I pride myself on.  I am completely at the mercy of good tech support guy, because my lovely wonderful tech geek of a late husband made it too easy to just turn it all over to him.  I do maintain the data on four websites, including my own, I insisted on that, and I managed to learn enough about Adobe Dreamweaver to get four competent sites, two of them for local weaving guilds, but as one of the guild members told me, I’m probably the last person on the planet who actually still uses Dreamweaver, the rest of the world is using platforms like WordPress for their websites.  I nearly had a meltdown thinking I’d have to rework the four websites I have to maintain.

Last week my tech guy came to build me a new system, with the idea we would ghost my hard drive and I’d be up and running in about 5 hours.  About 15 minutes before the five hours was up, something went seriously wrong and the computer ended up in the hospital for a week, starting with a bad power supply which fried the new motherboard, and corrupted Windows 10 and made a complete mess of things.  

The bottom line was, after what he called a “Hail Mary” save, apparently this is a thing in the tech world, he managed to get my original hard drive functioning and I was able to limp along all week, still getting blue screens, and having hardware fail, but at least I could access data to print handouts and such for my class in Cleveland this weekend.  I could access my bookkeeping and file my sales tax before the 20th (when I’m actually flying to Cleveland) and do other critical things one does to stay in business.

So yesterday, in a complete fit of “I gotta get out of this place” I took my new assistant /best adventure buddy to the NY Botanical Gardens to see the Dale Chihuly glass installation, which was magical and just what I needed on the most glorious sunny fall day we have had so far this year.  I came home relaxed and ready to tackle D day, or rather C day, where my tech guy was supposed to come this morning and we were going to wipe clean my C drive and reinstall all the software I need and use on a daily basis.  There were roller coaster like moments and times when I just had to walk away.  I kept my knitting by me so I wouldn’t completely lose it.  But he is the calmest gentlest geek I’ve ever met and I adored him for his ability to just say, don’t worry, it will all be OK.  And it was, or is.  I think.  I haven’t really put the system through its paces, but everything seems to be in place, most of my settings restored, and I’ve been able to wipe the drive clean of all the old out of date and unsupported software my husband installed so very long ago.  It cost me a lot of money, but I’m hoping that part is all past me.

The botanical gardens were gorgeous.  Cynthia and I had a lovely lovely day, and the drive in, in spite of an accident gumming up the works on the GW Bridge was about 40 minutes.  We had lunch at the cafe,  and were in the car and safely home by 2:30 in the afternoon.  We decided that we would actually become members of the Botanical Gardens because that’s what we can do to support the arts and cultural venues where we live.  

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I still have eShop issues, and hosting company issues, but I’m hoping that they too will be resolved within short order, and that I can do the things I love and actually care deeply about.  In this current age we live in, sadly one can’t come without the other.  This morning I woke up and finally broke down and turned on the heat, it had been 80 only a couple of days ago.  Of course, my boiler failed to work.  Why am I surprised.  The earliest the plumber can come is next week because I’m leaving on a jet plane…  

In spite of all the stress technology brings, I managed some really fun days and to kill off a couple projects that have been “looming” over me.  This sweater was started probably more than a year ago, and I’m fastidious in finishing one knitted project before I start on another.  The coordinator of the Boonton Library Fiber Arts Club shot this photo outside the library a couple weeks ago at one of the weekly meetings.  Thanks Annie!


And I finally cleared a loom of the fabric that gave me such grief when my new dog last year ate one of the two balls of Noro Toiyo Lace I had bought on sale on my trip to Port Townsend to teach a year or so ago, and of course had to do a scramble to find more of it so I could finish the yardage.  The warp is a Shetland wool mill end I bought years ago from WEBS.  I loved the gradations of the color changes in the Noro, which is a silk and a bunch of other yarns, sort of the sweepings of the floor, singles spun, annoying as all get out to use, but really lovely as a weft.


Last week, or maybe it was two weekends ago, I hosted my really good fiber friend Kathrin Weber who gave a couple of workshops to the Jockey Hollow Weaving Guild.  We had a blast.  Through it all my computer was in the hospital, but in the end it made sense because I was really distracted by color and texture and weave structure.  I can’t wait to weave this off.  

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The third day of workshops was a dye class, and again, it was just a blast!  I am a pretty competent dyer of cellulose yarns using fiber reactive dyes, but it is just a joy to learn some tricks and fun techniques, and be with fellow fiber enthusiasts.


Last Saturday I met up with a bunch of great ladies from the Frances Irwin Handweavers, and there was a husband or two thrown in there as well.  We met at Silk City Fibers, and though I had thought for a brief moment that I really could just go and look around and come home empty handed, that thought went out the door in about the first 35 seconds and $337 dollars later, I had this to figure out where to hide on the already burgeoning shelves.  No sweat, I’m a pro at finding space.


We went to lunch after Silk City, and then on to the Paterson museum, and a private tour of their extensive textile machinery, much of it made right there at the Roger’s Locomotive foundries from the late 1800’s.  So very interesting and inspiring.

And so my life which seems to spiral out of control is really full of fun and excitement, I’d go for a little less excitement at the moment, but I’m safe and my family and home are intact and I have to remember that and not sit too long on the pity pot as they say.  

For those of my subscribers who are complaining they are not getting notification of my posts, I’m sorry, but that’s one of the issues prompting a hosting company move, and I won’t bore you with the gory details, but trust me, I’m aware.

Stay tuned…


Poor forgotten Harrisville…

I did say I’m working backwards, and so Harrisville Designs in NH is up next.  I absolutely loved this class.  Like Sievers, it is probably my top favorite place to teach, both are in cooler climates, both are in the very early fall, both with amazing students and repeat students.  The big advantage of Harrisville is the awesome general store across the street where I have lunches and dinners, pre-prepared, so I don’t have to cook for myself!  I can just hang at the studio!  

It is always tough for me when these 5 or more day retreats happen in such a short time period of each other.  Not much happens in my own studio, it would be all prep and wrap up.  But it is seasonal.  I’m starting to wind down, one more weekend trip to Cleveland in a couple weeks, followed by the Outer Banks Retreat the end of October into November.  I can see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. 

But I want to highlight the great work that my students did at Harrisville this year, though it was only a five day, they worked hard and pushed the proverbial envelope and did some amazing things.

Though these are blurry, what is that about…  The space at Harrisville is large, easy to move around in, well lit, and breezy in the early fall.  

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I always think I take tons of photos, between my cell phone and my little camera.  And when I get back to the office and dump them into my computer, there are images that apparently I missed, especially of finished pieces.  I’m sad for the great shots I missed, because you don’t ever see the amazing finished pieces from some of the students.

I love the ones where students pose when they get the shoulders and side seams in, they are starting to realize an actual jacket or vest.  These were my new students this year.  


And Clare, in the middle, decided to try the princess seam version of my Daryl Jacket class pattern, using a sampler of handwoven wool, I might be wrong but I thought it was the first thing she ever wove.  There wasn’t a lot of it, so she supplemented with black something, I’ve forgotten what it was.  She was so happy with the fit.

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Jan and Anne made vests, Jan’s vest was from a Sakiori rag fabric she wove from chambray colored sheets. Anne’s is a commercial fabric and I think we ended up using the wrong side.

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Sisters Mary and Anne came back this year, and Mary made a standard Daryl Jacket but the match job was the best I’ve ever seen.  It was challenging!  And Anne started in on a princess version of my jacket pattern, we worked hard on the fit.  I can’t believe I don’t have a photo of her with the shawl collar and sleeves inserted.  It is gorgeous.

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My biggest challenge of this class though, was Nora’s plaid bias cut raglan sleeve coat.  She brought her own pattern.  This was a huge wow when she put it all together.  And everything matched!


Jane has been with me for a long time.  She is a lovely weaver, and this year’s fabric was tencel, sett denser than the one she wove last year.  I can’t believe I don’t have a photo of the jacket with sleeves, she did a beautiful job finishing it, and you can see the final jacket in the class photo below.  Jane also chose to do the princess seam jacket.  Though it takes longer to make, lots more pieces and lots more seams, there is nothing like the fit of the princess seam.  If I recall correctly, once her sleeves were in, we tweaked the fit over the bust some more.


Carole and Amy are my repeaters, they have been coming to my class here for something like eight years?  It is a vacation for them, and they walk away with some pretty great stuff.

Carole had cut out a striped shirt, from handwoven fabric, and I can’t believe I don’t have a single photo of it.  Not even in process.  Then she started in on a blouse that I think she cut out last year, and realized after she assembled it, that she has changed shape a bit since last year, she was going to release the waist darts to get a better fit.  Another handwoven piece, both Carole and Amy are amazing weavers and work pretty fine.  Amy made another button down shirt with her handwoven 60/2 silk, and then started in on a variation of the new collar I’m working on, the original vest, also a Daryl Jacket variation, is featured in the current issue of Threads Magazine.  Amy had a lovely piece of handwoven wool, and made a gorgeous vest, perfect for a Vermont winter in the office.  Again, I can’t believe this is the only photo I got, and it is blurry.

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Here is the final class photo for Harrisville 2017!  We already have the same weekend booked for 2018, last week of August.


Stay tuned!


Oh Sievers, how do I love thee…

Let me count the ways…

My last post I raved about the inkle class I taught, now, working in reverse, I will tell the tale of the first class I taught, this, my 12th year at Sievers School of Fiber Arts on Washington Island, WI.

It starts and ends with the ferry…

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I’ve been lucky the last two years, I’ve had fellow instructors drive me to hidden places on the island I wouldn’t normally have access too, and this time Jo Amsler, the willow basket teacher took me to Jackson Harbor at dusk.  Wow.  I want to toss aside the 300 emails and contracts waiting for me and just paint.  Sigh…

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We were in the Sophie Studio this time, there are two studios at Sievers, Jo’s class was in the Walter Studio.  The lighting is good here, though it is a bit cramped, that actually made the setting more intimate and the students more supportive and helpful to each other.  I had five repeat students and five new ones.  They were all instant friends, and I love a class that pulls together.

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Students helped each other, a blessing when I have 10 students and they all need me at once.  The infamous alert list which keeps my sanity, was used well.

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Handsewing and shenanigans after hours was the norm.

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The new students made my standard jacket, some with shawl collars, all from handwoven fabric.  Sara, Karen, Cristel, Lynn and Becky.  I loved that Cristel used the first handwoven fabric she ever wove to make her jacket.  It had been sitting on the shelf a long time.

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Cristel also took apart a garment she had started before class and reworked the fit and drape, she is much happier.


Lynn tried bound buttonholes, and even then, finished her jacket in record time for a first timer, then started on a new project.  This jacket is a new collar variation I’m playing around with.  We were able to edit her jacket pattern and she picked up some quilt fabric for the lining and trim at the Siever’s store.  She pulled the zipper out of an old garment.  I am so very excited by this variation to my regular jacket pattern and Lynn was a good sport to have a go of it, construction sequence was made up as we went.  We even turned the pockets upside down and used the lining as a design element.

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Terry brought a clasped weft handwoven fabric, we turned it crosswise and she made the most fun tunic.  I can’t believe we didn’t get a photo of the front. She also finished up a vest from last year with a twist ply closure.

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Linda dove right in with a handwoven dyed and felted fabric, and made this gorgeous shawl collar coat from a pattern she brought from home.  She finished that in short order and then made my tunic from a commercial fabric.  Then she copied a shirt someone brought in and made a third garment from a commercial fabric.  She gets the prize for the most!

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Ginnie brought in her stretch twill snakeskin print fabric, we bought it together back in 2014 when we went on a buying trip to NYC together with Peggy Sagers.  I made these pants a few years ago.  


Ginnie made the most lovely vest, it fit her like a glove.  It is a Sandra Betzina Vogue Today’s Fit pattern.

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Ginnie started figuring out a jacket I’ve made, and documented on my blog post a couple of years ago, because there were a number of errors in the pattern. Sadly there still are.  I made mine (on the left) for an article for Sew News on how to make triangular bound buttonholes.  The trim on this jacket is really fun to do once you figure it out.  She had both sleeves in the last day, but somehow I didn’t grab a photo.  She says is is the trial run for a garment from handwoven fabric.

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Cindy and Joy both wanted ensembles for a wedding they needed to attend.  They both used the same jacket pattern, a Loes Hinse pattern, now out of print.  Joy made her’s from a velveteen, and Cindy made her jacket from a Handwoven fabric, and the dress from a knit.  She had played around with the dress patttern last year and reworked it for this year’s design.  The lining was a wow.

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And here are my Siever’s Achievers from 2017.  My most prolific bunch to date…


Back to the loom.  Stay tuned…


Where do I begin…

Dearest Readers, there is so much to cover, so many neglected students and classes I haven’t posted, but know that when I’m on the road, I’m devoted to the class of the moment, and when there is a tight turn around, as has been this past six weeks or so, there isn’t much time to leisurely put up a post and celebrate the hard work of all my students.  

That said, I’ll start with the most recent and work backwards.  I just returned from Sievers, probably my favorite place to teach, what isn’t to love about an island in Lake Michigan in September?  I love the people, I love the staff and students, and I adore midwesterners says a Jersey girl who lives in a very different world.

I taught two classes at Sievers, technically three, because the garment construction class was five day with an optional two extra days, and all but one student stayed on for the full marathon.  I swear, if I taught for a whole month they would still be sewing up to the last minute wishing there was more time.  The second class I taught, which is what I’m going to start with tonight, was the inkle class.  It was a three day advanced class, and it was expected that you knew something about the inkle loom, though I had to laugh when I assigned the first warp and all the students looked like deer in the headlights, not completely sure where to begin.  We did a quick tutorial on setting up the loom and they were off and running.  

First up was a complementary warp, 1:1, light alternating with dark.  There are lots of cool things to do with just this one warp, they set up 16 pairs of threads, dropping one pair when the design called for an odd number.

They began with name drafts, a challenging skill that requires a lot of concentration, a couple of the students were repeaters from last year, but soon the whole class was writing their names.

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We followed that with South American pebble weave featured in Ann Dixon’s Pattern book, the results were beautiful.  All the students owned the book, so they got really excited by the design possibilities.  

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Next up was another technique in the Dixon book, which she calls freeform or runic.  I love this because you sort of make up the design as you go along…  The wider the band, the more effective the technique, but they did just fine with the 16 pairs.

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It was during the next lecture, setting up the loom for Paired Pebbles, different than the technique above, that I experienced the power of fiber to recenter us when the world falls apart and there is nothing we can do about it.

Towards the end of the lecture, one of the students, Ginnie, who has become one of my dearest friends, who has taken classes with me for more than 10 years, mostly in garment construction, suddenly cried out, “Oh My God!” I stared at her, and realized that she was holding her phone, and God forgive me but I’ve become so immune to the horrors of the world I live in, between terrorism, despots, natural disasters, and out of control news media outlets, I just shrugged and said, “What now?”

Ginnie told us that someone had just sent her a link to the news, there had been an earthquake of 7.1 magnitude in Mexico City.  She then explained in complete terror and horror that her daughter had just gone there for a vacation following grad school graduation before starting her new job in Massachusetts next week.  We all gathered around the phone and I realized pretty quickly that this was not a good thing, that her daughter might not be alright, and I had a class to control and suddenly I felt an overwhelming responsibility to protect my class and my friend Ginnie as best I could, because more than likely she wouldn’t hear anything from anyone for hours, days, maybe weeks.  The images coming in were brutal.

I got the class moving on the set up for the Paired Pebble, and then sat with Ginnie.  She was in no frame of mind to focus on anything but the safety of her daughter, and here Ginnie was on an island in Lake Michigan, with ferry access only, and there was nothing she could do.  Nothing.  She texted her daughter Amelia, but obviously there was no response.  I asked her to go back to the first technique, the name draft.  She couldn’t think at first, or focus, so I talked her through the first steps to spell out her daughter’s name.  It gave her focus, purpose and reeled in her concentration, and kept her away from the news.  She labored through Amelia’s name and seemed to gain some control, and when she finished she looked at the previous technique, still visible and said, “That looks like an earthquake”.  I responded and said, yes, and Amelia was on top of it.  She smiled.  I then asked her to take a picture of the band and send it to Amelia.  


Ask me how I know about the power of fiber to distract the soul.  I have lived through a number of numbing experiences, and getting lost in something that consumes your brain, and keeps your spirit from diving into the darkest of recesses is how I survived with my sanity in check.  I sent Ginnie across the street to the gallery/store, without her phone, we would keep vigil, and gave her a breather.

Ginnie came back a little more in control and empowered, hopeful and stronger.  Shortly after we heard a scream of joy as Amelia got a text through to her mother that she was OK.  She had been in the Frida Kahlo museum, having just experienced the earthquake drill, something the residents of Mexico City do to commemorate the quake in 1985 that killed 10,000 people.  She thought the Mexicans had pretty clever ways of getting the residents to really feel the power of an earthquake until she realized this was no simulation.

We hugged and cried and the class celebrated the news, and then Ginnie started setting up for the Paired Pebbles, and I gave thanks to whoever was listening for sparing Ginnie’s daughter and protecting my class.  We “Kept calm and carried yarn…”

Here are some of the Paired Pebble samples, they are just lovely.  Lavern Waddington, who teaches this technique on backstrap looms, has a number of pattern books for Paired Pebbles, and in fact, one was just released while we were studying the technique. Click here if you are interested.  

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The last full day, we rewarped our looms with turned Krokbragd, also in Ann Dixon’s book but her directions for setting up this technique are a bit vague.  I love this technique, because once the set up is accomplished this three shaft technique weaves easily, no picking anything up.

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What surprised me was the curiosity of the students when they experimented with what would happen if you didn’t do an A, Heddled, B, Heddled, A, etc rotation but repeated the A or B shed rows.  Like A, H, B, H, B, H, A, H, A, H, etc.  They had a blast seeing what they could some up with, running back and forth from each other’s looms squealing in delight.  I even took my own loom to play.  The only drawback is the longer floats on the back, but that shouldn’t be an issue if the band will be stitched down on something.

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Late that afternoon, one of the students who had not done basic supplemental warp or weft or Baltic pick up before, one pattern to two ground threads, rewarped her loom again to try those techniques.  She was all smiles at the possibilities.

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Like all my classes at Sievers, I loved this one, but I will remember this one for a long time, because fiber can heal, and distract, and soothe the soul, and this was a challenging three days, both in technique and in distractions, but the class stuck with it, cheering each other on, and we got a wonderful photo at the end, each holding their loom like a musical instrument.  It was fitting.


I will be giving a Turned Krokbragd on the inkle loom lecture in Reno at Convergence next July, and teaching a five day inkle weaving class at John C Campbell next September. 

Note: is seems that in the latest update of WordPress, I am no longer able to put smaller thumbnails in the body of the blog, only full size images.  I apologize for this, it makes one heck of a long blog…

Stay tuned…


Yes I’m still alive…

Dearest readers, I’m sure you’ve been wondering…

Or maybe you live in one of the places in the United States that is suffering from too much water or not enough.  The Northwest is burning, the south Central part is flooded, the south eastern part is battening down the hatches for the mother of all storms.  So my little escapades are the last thing on your mind.  Trust me that my little escapades are the last thing on my mind as well.  Life is too cruel for many of you at the moment.

All of my little issues and problems stem from too much going on and not enough time, but really, these are first world problems, I have classes to teach, contractors to manage, a new assistant to train (she is a Godsend) and a tech guy that is researching how to move all my digital things to a new hosting company, blog and store, upgrade the store, and get me into at least 2017, rather than what was created more than 10 years ago.  

I had some lovely photos to show you that in spite of my constant travels, I am managing to finish a couple of projects, my lovely wool tailored jacket that appeared in process in Threads Magazine.  A sweater I’ve been working on for more than a year, nearing completion, just the collar to finish.  Sadly all those lovely photos are still in my phone, and I haven’t the slightest idea how to get them into my computer.  I always just plug the phone into the computer, which recognizes the phone, and then move the files.  Simple.  Except when it doesn’t work.  I tried rebooting everything.  Nothing.  the phone just sits there and charges…  It is on my list to get a new phone, but I don’t think that’s the issue.  So the photos are stuck there, and I can’t show you them, nor all the wonderful photos from the five day garment construction class I just completed at Harrisville.  

I leave for Sievers on Washington Island, WI tomorrow morning at 6am.  I have a limo coming for me, and I have been upgraded to first class into O’Hare.  Yeah me!  I’m going far away from all the death and destruction that seems to be covering more than half the country.  I am afraid for all my wonderful fiber family who are struggling to survive at the moment, maybe even lost their homes and studios.  I’m afraid for all my friends in Florida.  And I have a lot.

Meanwhile, I spent a couple hours mucking out a pond that kept losing water, a voice in my head (probably my late husband) kept yelling at me…  “I taught you this, at the end of the season the pond plants get overgrown and they block exiting water from reaching the next level and the spillways overflow.”  Unable to reach my pond guy, I rolled up my proverbial sleeves and dove in, hacking away at overgrown plants, realizing that indeed the spillway was overflowing back into the side of the yard, I had to remove the rocks and rebuild the side of the pond higher.  Not what I wanted to do right before I left for Sievers.  But I was successful and it all seems to be holding.

Meanwhile, I decided to take advantage of my absence from the studio, and clear out the entire front half and have painter guy come and paint and clean up and install three large glass front bookcases.  My assistant will then come in and move all my books to the new cases before I return from Sievers.  Anyway that’s the plan.  

Meanwhile, the blog and store were down yesterday, thanks to an alert reader who I’m sure was checking to see if I had posted about my trip to Harrisville, which was lovely and successful and I have such great pictures.  They are stuck in my phone…

My tech guy spent about 12 hours here trouble shooting things like why subscribers don’t get my notices when I post, and why I don’t get notices from my eShop when I sell something.  Google thinks I am spam I’m thinking.  Like the kind of spam that doesn’t even show up in my spam box.  I have no idea and neither does he.  The next step is to get off the hosting company I have, move everything to a new and better platform and I’m having an anxiety attack just thinking about it all.  There isn’t enough wine.  

Truth of the matter is, this is all stupid stuff.  There is some serious shit happening in the world right now.  There is threat enough from natural disasters, earthquakes in Mexico, fires in Oregon, Washington and Montana.  California too.  Texas underwater, and Florida about to become history.  And not the good kind of history.  And there are whack jobs threatening the world with nuclear bombs and the newspaper is so depressing I want to stop my subscription.  I never watch television news, there is not enough wine in this world.  

So I am hopefully prepped, and ready to leave in the morning.  You may or may not get notification of this blog post, because well, I don’t know why.  $1000 later, and my tech guy doesn’t know why either.  If you need me, I’ll be hiding out on an island for awhile, under Canada.  Far away from everything.  I want to wake up 10 days from now, fly back into Newark and find out all the destruction was just a dream or an overreactive media.  

Stay safe my friends.