Vernal Equinox

Happy First Day of Spring!  In the northern Hemisphere, spring officially started at 7:44am.  Course you couldn’t tell it by looking outside!  This is the picture outside my balcony when I got up!  Little puffs of heavy snow on all the buds.  It was quite lovely.

snow1snow2I woke up this morning a little later than usual, since I was up until 1am Thursday night processing the last of the 32 pages for my sister’s website.  I FINISHED IT!  What huge relief to be able to finally say, I’m done.  I expect there to be edits and changes and updates, but those are usually quick fixes, the bulk of the work is done.  The site is up and running in its entirety, and after looking at a couple hundred magazine looking shots of gorgeous homes, I’m a little depressed by my average 100 year old home I’ve happily lived in for more than 25 years,  it is beginning to show signs of neglect…  Could it be I am too busy weaving and having other grand adventures to deal with painting and repairs?

Anyway, my sister’s firm, Ebeling Noe Associates is very happy with the new site, and I’m hoping it helps her connect with some future clients.  I really enjoyed getting to know her work over the past 10-15 years more intimately, and I have a huge respect for what she does.  After all, she is just my younger sister…

Now I have to tackle my woefully outdated website, and one for my weaving guild…

Sunday is my husband’s birthday.  He will return from his ski adventure with our son tomorrow night, so far no broken bones…   Anyway, I took the day off to run around and shop for some things for him, I had been doing research online all along for ideas, who had what at what price, the internet is good for stuff like that, and I took today to do the final shopping.  And I had a coupon at Kohl’s and with their sales, I managed to do some serious damage to the charge buying some new things for myself!  You see, it all started with the cancer thing.  And the weight gain from the chemo (yes I know it was 7 years ago), and then the instant menopause, and the weight gain from that, and then the tamoxifen for five years.  Apparently now that I’ve been off Tamoxifen for over a year, my body is strangely returning to its original shape before I had cancer.  Which was pretty thin.  So over the last year I’ve dropped 12 pounds.  I know all of you are rolling your eyes, this would be a good thing under normal circumstances.  But all my pants were too big.

So, armed with my coupon, I hit Kohl’s with a vengance, and bought pants in my new size, and a couple pairs of shoes while I was at it, because my favorite pair of travel wedges broke last fall, and I haven’t been able to find a pair that are comfortable to walk and travel in all day for a week or more, so I had to buy three that had possibilities and I have until June to break them in…

You can tell I was really roughing it today.  And I did manage to get my husband quite a few gifts while I was at it.  Please note that I almost never shop.  I make clothing last for years, and largely if I shop, I buy coordinates to wear with my immense wardrobe of handwoven jackets and tops.  But the pants thing was a really a problem.  So, just like that, problem solved!

As I traveled around today, doing my shopping thing, I loved going into stores, fresh with spring merchandise, garden centers waking up, fully stocked, after having sat in my studio for the last week with my nose in the computer screen.  I even picked up a handful of packets of seeds, for the cold weather crops, lettuces and such, I always have such high expectations for a garden, and as my life gets out of control, so does the garden, last year it was decimated by the groundhogs, who tunneled in from the outer fence perimeter, so I always have to wonder why I bother?  I bother because it is important to keep trying, and I love to watch things grow and eat what I plant.  So, depending on the weather tomorrow, it is suppose to be a high of 51 degrees and sunny, I’m hoping to get quite muddy and clear the garden of the winter debris and plant some seeds.

The sand paper seems to be holding the friction brake on the loom  I mentioned a couple days ago.  Thanks for all the great suggestions on what to do.  I did stop at the local bowling alley on my way to the High School Thursday night, to pick up a bag of rosin, which Sandy Gunther from Weaver’s Cottage suggested as a surefire way of getting a non metal friction break to hold when it starts slipping.  Alas, my bowling alley pro shop was out.  So now I have to search further, but for now, I wove a bit into the second mat, and all seemed secure.  Stay tuned.

And one final note, I spent the afternoon on the phone with Sandy Bowles from the HGA.  She very graciously spent hours pouring over my Design Challenge presentation, all 80 slides, and had some wonderful editorial suggestions, cleaning up some copyright issues, and helping to point out things that weren’t quite clear.  So I’ve made the changes, will send her the final copy, and hopefully get my HGA Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval and then I can add it to my webshop and offer it to any guild that would like to present it as a program without having to fly me in!  And I’ll be writing a very condensed version of it for the Summer Issue of Shuttle Spindle and Dyepot.  I’ll keep you posted…

Odds and Ends

The last couple of days have been whirlwind of catching up, meeting some deadlines I put off until after my California trip, contracts, cleaning, trying to find my house again, piles of laundry, and some terrific social events.

I got an email today from Lisa Skura, my class angel in the three day jacket workshop in California, letting me know that one of the conference attendees posted all of her photos, many from the fashion show, on a Picasa website, her name is Helene Korn, and the pictures are fun.  Check it out.

I received an email notification a couple days ago, that I was finally accepted to teach at the CNCH (Conference of Northern California Handweavers), April 8-11, 2010, in Santa Clara.  This is a particularly important conference to me, and getting this acceptance means a lot.

Sidebar:  When I was diagnosed with cancer seven years ago, one of the hardest things for me to face, and I know this is going to sound really odd, was writing the letters canceling four teaching commitments, three of them conferences, and it was that act, not losing a breast, not the trauma to my family, not the six months of chemo, but the canceling of commitments that nearly undid me.  When you face a life altering thing like cancer, the stress manifests itself in the oddest places.  I honestly didn’t care about the breast.  I was happy to lose it if it would save my life.  I wasn’t happy that I couldn’t finish what I had started, the conferences that I had committed to, and my work meant everything to me.

One of the conferences I had to cancel was the CNCH conference for 2002.  I was eventually invited to participate in the Asilomar Retreat held on the off years of the CNCH, but not the conference itself.  I always felt like I had something to finish and was frustrated I couldn’t make up for not being able to follow through.

So, when I returned from California, earlier this week, I had an acceptance waiting for me, to teach at the CNCH conference, and I immediately felt a huge relief that I could finally finish what I had started seven years ago.  I will eventually update my website calendar when the dust settles a bit more around here, so stay tuned…

Yesterday evening, I hopped on a bus, and headed into NYC to hear a lecture, sponsored by the Textile Study Group of NY.  The lecture was on Photographing your Work.  Yes, I know I teach this subject, I just gave the workshop to a wonderful group of people in Southern California, but when I offered my services to the Textile Study Group, I was told that they were looking for a real professional photographer.

So, I paid my $25. and hopped on a bus, and went to hear D. James Dee, a very well respected art photographer in NYC, teach a seminar on Photographing your Work.  I am glad I went, first, it was so interesting to be in a HUGE space, where lights can be placed anywhere, and backdrops can cover whole walls and tables.  Also, there are things I know, things I have been taught, but I actually didn’t understand completely why they were so. I actually got some clarification on a couple things I knew instinctively, but not why.  I also understood quickly the advantages of having someone who is an experienced teacher, and knows how break things down in an organized fashion to a varied group of students of all different levels.  I followed everything he was saying, because I do this sort of thing, but I sensed that many in the class were lost.  Mr. Dee is a terrific photographer, but I am not sure how experienced he is at teaching.

Also, since he is a professional photographer, the class wasn’t so much on photographing your work as it was on what to do with the disk of images that comes from a professional photographer.  Which I can see can be a real issue for artists that aren’t so computer literate.  If nothing else, the class made me much more confident that what I teach in my class, is really useful information in an organized fashion, that can be put to immediate use by the most average picture taker.  And, I produce a monograph in full color, that is a reproduction of the PowerPoint presentation, so students don’t have to take any notes!

Today I worked the whole day working on my sister, the architect’s website, I’m making great progress on the project pages, having a blast in Photoshop CS4, taking mediocre photos of beautiful homes she has designed, and turning them into magazine shots.  In all fairness to my sister, taking shots of a 4,500 square foot sprawling home is pretty difficult to do with a point and shoot camera, without getting keystone distortion, but Photoshop is my friend, and I corrected some amazing shots.  It is also really neat to carefully work through my sister’s body of work, I know what she does, but since she lives and works in rural northern Maryland, I don’t get to see her work first hand.  She designed the addition on my home, but that was 20 years ago.  I will say I’m really impressed.

Tonight my husband, daughter and I went to the Papermill Playhouse for one of our subscription series shows, the current production is Master Class, which was worthy of the standing ovation it received.  Barbara Walsh played opera diva Maria Callas, who retired from her singing career and taught a series of renowned master classes at Julliard in 1971.  The dialogue spoke of the passion of the arts, how important they are in our lives, and about finding the soul in your work.  I would love to get a copy of the script, there are many quotable lines in the show, and it isn’t lost on me, the perfect timing of the show, especially in this very difficult time for all of the arts with the seriousness of the downturn in the economy, and how bleak the immediate future is for many of our renowned institutions.

I am promising myself, that before the weekend is over, I will finish cutting out the pieces for the Arctic Sky Jacket.  I am longing to start sewing before the weather gets warm and I can’t wear the jacket!

Tomorrow is the monthly meeting of the American Sewing Guild neighborhood chapter I wrote about in my blog last month.  I think I’ll take my dress from the fashion show for Show and Tell…


Well, I did it, I got my sister’s website up and running.  I still have a lot of work to do on the project profiles page, there are many subpages to be built under there, but after much hair pulling and gnashing of teeth, I actually managed to create the site, have it all work, and make the “client” happy.  I will say that my sister, the architect designed the actual site.  She knew exactly what she wanted, text and imagery was what she sketched out on what else, “graph paper”.  My job was to get it all to work.  There is no better feeling than to have pushed harder than you thought you could do, and reached higher than you thought you could go, doing something you thought was way beyond you, and to have succeeded.  I still have a lot of work to do, like I said, but my poor sister, who still has to put up with dial-up service in northern rural Maryland, at least has a website for her business.  Now of course, mine is really embarrassing…  That is what prompted all this, I sorely need a redesign on mine, and so does my other weaving guild (the Frances Irwin Handweavers), so those are next once I fine tune and finish up with my sister’s.  Actually, the Jockey Hollow Weaver’s Website could use a makeover as well, but my daughter maintains that one, and once I figure all this out, she will be pretty amenable to redoing that one, I’m sure.

If you are interested in checking it out, my sister’s firm is Ebeling Noe Associates.  She is a great architect, and if you know me, she has my same sense of organization and work ethic.

I met tonight with the rest of the programming team for the Jockey Hollow Weavers Guild, to map out programs for 2009-2010.  We had some great feedback from the members, and we are sketching out the year, using some panel discussions, some presentations from our own talented members, and we are looking to book a couple of out of town speakers with workshops.  So now I get to surf the web, looking at all the suggestions, and see what other teachers offer  on their websites.  So this is a win win situation for me.  Stay tuned…