The dust has finally settled…

What a week.  From absolutely brilliantly successful to completely terrifying and everything in between…  And yes, this is my life.  I suppose if I were really really honest, in spite of my complaining, I really do love what I do.  I just wish at times it didn’t have to be so intense…

I flew uneventfully to Helena MT via Denver on June 7th.  My lovely new friend Dawn picked me up and drove me the four miles to the college campus where I was to give two solid days of lectures to almost 60 weavers across Montana.  I will say up front that not only is it really really tough to be entertaining and articulate for two solid days, it is harder I’m guessing to listen to lectures for two solid days.  But they did.  I had just the best most interested group of women (there might have been a guy in there somewhere, I didn’t look really carefully, I just know there were a lot of people out there in that audience…)  They asked questions, they were eager, they were excited and inspired, and when it was all done, I got a standing ovation.  That hasn’t happened in awhile.  It reminded me of why I love what I do.  Someone even ran out at one point and bought me a box of lidocaine patches for my sciatica which for the most part continued to heal, as long as I don’t sit for hours at a time…  Hahahahah!

The committee for the Montana Association of Weavers and Spinners Conference for next June, 2020 sat me down and tried to bribe me to come.  I tried to explain that I’m done with conferences, but they weren’t having it.  Made me smile, and actually consider coming back…

Sunday night I packed up, loaded everything into Dawn’s car and we were to her house in McAllister, MT within a couple of hours.  We had wine on the deck while her accommodating husband made steaks on the grill.  This was the view from her deck.  

Dawn had her husband drive me down to the lake, just down the road, in this…

And this is the “lake”.  This is so far from anything I’ve every seen in my small but diverse and pretty state of NJ.  He gave me a geographical rundown of their lake and its tributaries and where they eventually feed, which would be the Missouri, maybe I’d heard of it…

Dawn and I set off the next morning for the 7 hour drive to Boise Idaho.  There was a lot of flat land, scrub, mountains in the distance, with a town about every hour where we stopped and refueled and grabbed a bite to eat.  Mostly what struck me were the road signs.  This one says “Bear Aware, Food Storage Required”  The paw print is that of a grisly.  I’m definitely not in NJ.

So we were driving through the Targhee National Forest, home of the Targhee sheep, developed by the USDA, a dual-purpose breed, with heavy, medium quality wool and good meat production characteristics.  I’ll be damned…

And this sign.  I have this vague recollection of the Continental Divide, from my early grammar school geography classes (I wish I paid better attention) and yeah, this is a thing.  With signs and everything.  The feeling was kind of like standing on the Prime Meridian in Greenwich England.  

And of course, this made me smile.  Leaving Montana, welcome to Idaho.  I can drive through four states in a couple hours where I live, going north or south, but this….  Yeah, these are pretty big states and I didn’t scratch the surface…

And then it was on to Boise, ID.  The city itself is gorgeous, clean, modern, diverse, thriving and we ate at a couple of great restaurants. The classroom, in a church all purpose room, was bright and roomy and we had plenty of space.  I love that they were able to put the ironing boards in out of the way places to space out the electrical needs.

The Handweavers Guild of Boise Valley was a great fun and enthusiastic group, all were weavers, some brought commercial fabric but most brought their handwoven fabrics.  Most everyone made a jacket, some with shawl collars, and one student made a vest.  Her fabric was handwoven, probably from India with a decorator fabric trim for the bands.  And Jenni, second from the right, who has taken my jacket class before, is making the tunic.  What you can’t see is the gorgeous placket down the front, with in-seam buttonholes, no machine made buttonholes on this baby!  She just needed sleeves and buttons.

Keep in mind that this was a three day class, they all still have a lot of handwork to do, along with tons of tailor’s tacks to remove, my rule is they can’t remove any until I’m safely back in NJ.  Scroll down for that debacle…  Dawn is on the right in the middle photo.  She forgot her fabric, left the box sitting at the door, a gorgeous wool made with Zephyr wool and silk, and so after a quick run to a nearby Joann’s she compromised with a chenille upholstery fabric.  

And here is the class of 2019, Guild of Boise Valley, plus my hostess and transport from MT who got to take the class as compensation for the drive across the Continental Divide…

Friday morning I took my time getting to the airport.  When I’m heading to a destination, I always take the first flight out, planes are serviced, crews are fresh, and in the summer the air hasn’t become too volatile, and I rarely have delays or travel issues.  When going home however, it is hard to ask my hostess to get up at 4am to get me to the airport.  So I arrived at 11, for a 1pm flight to Denver, we took off on time,  but as we approached Denver, we started circling.  Turns out a thunderstorm materialized out of nowhere, and though they thought circling for a bit would allow the storm to clear, it wasn’t and we would run out of gas…

So we were diverted to a very small airport in Western Colorado, called Grand Junction.  And I mean small.  We were supposed to stay on the plane while they refueled and wait for clearance to head back to Denver.  Then they discovered something wrong with the plane.  Apparently not repairable while we were in Grand Junction.  They requested a replacement plane.  The only one they could get was from Newark, and they were in a ground hold back home.  So they let us out of the plane, we walked across the tarmac, taking all our carry on belongings with us.  The terminal was tiny. There was one small food vendor where you could get some grill food and snacks, six gates, and a couple restrooms.  170 people instantly got in line at the food vendor.  Actually 169.  I did not.  United, to their credit, brought in something like 75 pizzas to feed us all, apparently when I inquired, they have an account with Domino’s.  Apparently this happens a lot…  I should have taken a picture of two tables with 75 pizzas right by the gate area.  You can’t make this up.  And the pizza was pretty good.  They had plain and pepperoni…

We stayed at Grand Junction, not allowed to leave the sterile area, because we didn’t have tickets to get us back through TSA.  We stayed 7 hours.  I read a great book, called The Gown by Jennifer Robson.  It was about the embroiderers who worked for Norman Hartnell and embroidered then Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown for her marriage to Lord Mountbatten.  It was a great way to be entertained for 7 hours.  And a huge thank you to all my friends in the area who volunteered to whisk me out of the airport for a proper night’s lodging, except I couldn’t take anyone up on that because we were’t allowed to leave the “sterile” area.  

I managed to get a seat on the last flight out of Denver, leaving around Midnight, arriving in Newark at 5am.  By the time we reboarded in Grand Junction and all the luggage was transferred, I made it to the Denver/Newark flight with 10 minutes to spare.

Red- eyes can be pretty interesting if you have a window seat and are actually awake when the sun starts to come up.  I was completely mesmerized, there was a thick cloud cover as we began to make our descent, which allowed a slim sliver of daybreak to shine through.  The last photo, if you look really carefully, you can see the silhouette of Manhattan along the horizon.  Not bad photos with a cell phone on a plane.  

And so, exhausted, with little sleep on the plane, it was only a 3 1/2 hour trip, I arrived on Saturday morning at 5am.  With no bags.  Sadly my two 70 pound monsters that hold my entire life’s work, did not follow me home.  I made a claim and then jumped in a cab, since I’d had to cancel my limo service and they had no available cars at 5am with such short notice. (When I contacted them at midnight Denver time, it was 2am in NJ, so I really can’t argue…)  It was oddly freeing to jump in a cab with a couple carry ons, missing 140 pounds of luggage.  Oddly freeing and terrifying.  

I won’t bore you with the rest of the details of that day, except to say that though my bags did eventually make it to Newark, they experienced all sorts of delays including an accident from the driver who was heading to work to pick up the bags from the airport, pushing the delivery pick up time into the next shift.  I was assured they would be to me by midnight, I’d already been up 36 hours straight, and when they didn’t show by 2am, I had to come to terms with what would happen if I did not get them back.  I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say my garment construction teaching career would be over, because I don’t have it in me to spend the next couple of years recreating all the samples.  I laid awake until 2am thinking about where my life would take me should that happen, this has been an issue for most of my teaching career.  I’ve been very very lucky.  

What I did decide though, was the need to at least scan and digitize each of my patterns.  It is my goal to eventually make them available for sale, but it will be a couple of years process, one I’m not ready to undertake at the moment, but if the patterns were safe digitally, at least I wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel.  I’ve made arrangements with my sister, who is an architect and lives in Maryland to stop there on the way home from the Outer Banks Retreat the beginning of November, and spend a couple of days doing sister bonding and scanning patterns.  She has a very large format printer/scanner/plotter.  

And at 7am Sunday morning, a small red beat up car pulled in my driveway, and I watched a guy hoist two 70 suitcases intact out of the hatch back and bring them to my front door.  All is well.  I gave him a good tip.  

And so, Sunday night, I finally began to catch up on my sleep.  I got my dogs, and the cat, and I began the lengthy process of unpacking and sorting through all the lengthy emails that came in while I was gone.  I really don’t mind when students and guilds contact me about all sorts of stuff, it is just when they all come in at once, each one a couple pages long, while I’m on the road, that makes me cranky and weary.  I still have a couple to answer, be patient, but mostly I’m caught up and prepping for the MAFA conference in PA in a couple of weeks.  I am driving to that.  Which is a whole ‘nother set of possibilities for things to go wrong.  But mostly I just sit back, do my job as best I can, and hope the Universe is on my side for today.

Stay tuned…


Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Linda Morehouse
Linda Morehouse
June 14, 2019 2:38 pm

A great traveler’s tale! So glad that you and your bags are back together again at home, rested and ready to go again. You are right, Grand Junction is reallllly small!
When I got stranded there at Christmas time one year for eight hours, it was before they had installed the single food vendor! And they didn’t order pizza. Come back to visit Colorful Colorado someday when you can enjoy your visit.
I would love to take your “course” via video whenever you decide to move in that direction.
Linda Morehouse

Nancy Weber
Nancy Weber
June 14, 2019 9:10 pm

Crossing the Continental Divide is quite an experience; and gives one thought as to the size of our beautiful country. So glad your bags arrived and you can relax knowing they are ‘home.’ All of your ladies looked great in your jacket and I’m sure they were very pleased with their results. Hugs,

Meg Wilson
June 15, 2019 2:27 am

Sometime when I see you I will tell you our bag story! Bags trailed us from Dublin to Cork over 5 days, but we eventually got them all…! I am so glad that there is now a direct flight from Austin to London! Best thing that every happened, not having to go through O’Hare in the summer!

Glad you made it back OK and with all iln tact! Fred and I just took an awesome seam finishing class from Lynn Lovett: we are so ready to sew something fun and fancy! Meg

June 15, 2019 6:43 am

Terrifying is having your newly licensed son drive over the Continental Divide…at 88 miles an hour (think of the movie “Back to the Future”) and laughing at the thought of what might happen (in his mind, at least)! BTW, that photo you took of the dark with the light at the bottom, that’s called the “crack of dawn” over here in the West…

Alice Sharick
Alice Sharick
June 15, 2019 3:37 pm

All I can say is WOW! What an amazing trip—in many ways! Your photos are beautiful, especially Montana. But you also paint beautiful word pictures. So glad you got your bags back. That must have been a terrifying wait. Hope you are now rested and restored.

Read previous post:
Morocco, land of pattern and light.

I'm starting to get letters.  Everyone wants to know why I've been home almost a week from a fabulous 10...