It’s really not about the extension cord…

Poet extraordinaire Maya Angelou wrote, “I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”

I don’t do Christmas lights, we actually bought a pre-lit fake tree a couple of years ago, works perfectly, and I love rainy days, that means I don’t have to water, and can’t do yard work so I get to work more in the studio, and so far, I haven’t had to deal with lost luggage (she says as she is furiously pounding on the wood desktop, though I’m not sure I would handle that with grace and ease if I were on my way to a teaching assignment).

I’d really like to think of myself as flexible and easy going, but the truth is, I get stonewalled by the stupidest things.  I eventually adjust; after all, I’m from NJ*, but not without a fight. And when I do get railroaded by stupid things, there is usually something else lurking in the back of my head, some insecurity that causes me to momentarily panic.

I’m teaching at Convergence this summer, and for better or for worse, the jury is still out, I’m teaching seven seminars/workshops.  That is a huge amount for a four day conference.  I’m in essence teaching in every time slot, and there is little relationship between the six seminars and one full day workshop. (i.e. Website Design vs. Inkle Loom Weaving)  This situation alone is just a little scary.  OK, more than a little scary.

I got the numbers update for my seminars and workshop and I sort of panicked.  They are huge.  Part of me is really thrilled that so many want to take my seminars and part of me slides into that old insecurity, OMG, what if I screw up, what if things go wrong, what if I’m not prepared…  (Yep, seriously, I go through this every time I’m about to teach…, my version of stage fright…).  Two of my seminars alone have more than 50 students.  Those numbers are a bit unwieldy and as prepared as I usually am, I’m struggling with how I’m going to pull this off.

So when there was a caveat at the bottom of the email about not being able to provide me with an industrial extension cord to power my projector/laptop, I sort of overreacted.  I realize that extension cords in a conference center can cost upwards of $50, with all the union costs of installing and taping, etc. and that if every instructor needed one, it could break the conference budget.  But airline weight and luggage restrictions make it impossible to add anything additional like a bulky industrial extension cord to luggage that will already be unwieldy packing for seven seminars and a workshop.  I’ll be shipping a ridiculous amount ahead, and that just seemed one thing too much.

And then there was the discovery that there is a typo in the conference brochure.  Who is at fault in the proofing of said brochure isn’t the issue (I may not have caught it on the final copy, though my proposal was correct) and now I can’t offer a handout to 58 people in one of my seminars.  This has put me into a tailspin, my handouts are critical to my teaching experiences and I’m walking around like someone died.  I’ve tried sharing my frustration with a couple of trusted friends and my husband and all I get are quotes and reassurances that in the broad picture, this is a nothing issue.  They are right of course, and I will eventually get to that place, but not without a fight.  The fight is all internal, as much as I preach plan B and C, etc. to students in my workshops, I have my actual workshop formats down to a well oiled machine, and I’m  so much less flexible when wrenches are thrown into the works.  Remember, I suffer from the insecurity of “What if something goes wrong…”  At least I know ahead of time, and of course students can obtain the handout from my web store after the fact.  Still, I’m not accepting this whole situation with grace.  And I apologize for that.  I do know how to let go and get on with it, but first I need to sit on the proverbial pity pot and stew awhile.  And sometimes I want a friend to just say, yep, this sucks, and don’t you just hate when that happens?  I’ll figure it out, I always do, but having really solid perspective thrown at me (which is incidentally what I would be doing in the reverse situation) is only making me more cranky.

So, I spent the weekend weaving off  the companion piece of a diptych to replace the piece I was suppose to send to the faculty exhibit for Convergence.  The original piece was unexpectedly accepted to an exhibit at a gallery in New Bedford MA, and won’t be available.  To their credit, the committee graciously allowed me to substitute the same work in a different scale, since it will work with the image I had already submitted.

I leave tomorrow to teach a private workshop with two lovely women, both felters, we are spending four days in western Virginia in the Appalachian Mountains.  I’m looking forward to this trip, one of my favorite states is Virginia, my mom’s father’s family is all from Virginia, and I have wonderful memories of what a beautiful state it is.  And I look forward to applying some of my garment construction techniques to felt.

So today I pack, and try hard not to focus on a conference which is another six weeks away, there isn’t much I can do at this point but adjust, (and I arranged for a friend driving to the conference to bring me an extension cord).  My primary focus right now is my two students paying me for this workshop, and leaving my house in the care of my son and his National Guard buddies who seem to have taken up residence in my basement.  They are good kids, and with my very competent daughter, they should be able to hold things together until my husband’s return from Saudi Arabia at the end of the week.  The list of what they need to take care of and what to watch out for is going on two pages on a yellow legal pad…  They are already experiencing eye spasms from rolling their eyes too much…

*Excerpt from the song, I’m From New Jersey by John Gorka

I’m from New Jersey
I don’t expect too much
If the world ended today
I would adjust

Loose Threads…

I’ve wanted to post all week, little things, but the week just slipped by in a whirlwind, not all of it work related, but all of it consuming my every waking minute.  Really though, I’m feeling like I’m starting to catch up, to find my house, to get a little bit done in the yard which is looking spectacular, alas, no photos because, well, I haven’t taken any and I’d go out and take them now, but it is dark.  🙁

The week started promising and then went downhill from there.  My lovely husband left on Thursday for Saudi Arabia for three weeks.  It was hard to try to do everything I needed to finished up my own agenda and help him get everything in order so he could leave.  Getting the yard/house/pool ready for the summer, way ahead of schedule, is a monumental task, and my husband handled what he could, and the rest, well, it can wait.

I had a number of pieces accepted to an exhibit, May 29th – July 10th, 2010 in New Bedford, MA, at a gallery called Artworks!.  The exhibit is called “To Tell a Story”.  It is a show featuring work that derives and is inspired by photography, curated by Mark Mederios & Karen Alves.  The call was for a sequence or a mix of media that can sometimes tell a complete narrative in a way that no single medium approaches.  I thought personally that my current body of work fit this description nicely, and I submitted three works, and they accepted an additional three.  I spent Monday packing up the work for that show and getting it shipped out.

So if you are in the New Bedford, MA area, stop in, grab a photo if you can and send it to me, since I more than likely won’t make it up there for the show.

I also shipped out my garments for the Fashion Show for Convergence Albuquerque.   You can see that work on a previous post.

Meanwhile, my husband left on Thursday for Saudi, like I said, and all hell broke loose.

Sidebar: My husband has been a traveler for work for a long long time.  Before I had children, he traveled.  He was always traveling somewhere, while the kids were young, but he always managed to be there enough that my kids felt like that two involved parents.  He was traveling when I was diagnosed with cancer, but he managed to be here for all the important stuff, my surgeries and my chemo, and we are all very use to his coming and going.  I can’t really say anything, because in the past 10 years, I’ve done enough of my own traveling.  But with my husband, there has been a long standing joke in the house, that whenever he would leave for a trip, the gods of the home fires would get pissed, and do something in the house to ensure he would need to return.  It happened so often, that it became a standard joke, that my husband’s plane wouldn’t even have a chance to arrive at a destination and something minor would happen in the house, nothing cataclysmic, just annoying enough that we would be inconvenienced until he returned, thus assuring he would return.  I will say that the gods have been sort of quiet over the last year or two, or maybe I’ve been gone so much myself, there hasn’t been a need to assure he will return, since I was away too.

So, a lot happened in the 20 hours or so it took my husband to go from Newark, NJ, to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia via Frankfurt, Germany.  Friday was like a comedy of errors for my son and me, both of us decided it was safer to hide in bed, but between the ice maker breaking, and the car failing inspection for a non working side mirror, and the pump going on the big pond waterfall, and my computer deciding to have hissy fits, most of Friday, when I should have been packing, was spent trying to trouble shoot, and shop for a new pump.  I learned more about pond pumps than I care to ever know thank you very much.  My computer problems were corrected, thanks Eric, and the ice maker worked for a bit, but it is really done, and we only replaced it a year or so ago, (I can buy ice for three weeks), but I was able to purchase an affordable pump for the waterfall, get that installed, and get the waterfall working, so now the fish are happy.  (I heard yesterday that one of the running boards fell off the truck, my son dealt with that little incident, I was safely in southern NJ…)

Which means I didn’t get to pack for my trip to South Jersey on Saturday, until late Friday night.  Still, everything was ready to go, so it didn’t take long, and I got a good night’s sleep, and I set out Saturday morning for Southern NJ, to teach a seminar to a guild down there, a Small Looms Guild.  They were all prepared with warped inkle looms, for a very intense brain frying afternoon of advanced inkle loom techniques.  I taught them supplemental warp, 7 thread pick-up, and 1:1 name draft pick-up.  By the time I got to the last technique, I think everyone’s brain was on overload, but they all had some great things on their looms, and all seemed really happy with what they learned.  I put together the entire presentation onto PowerPoint, and will one of these days make it into a monograph supplement to my inkle loom monograph. The Advanced techniques supplement will eventually be available on my eShop.  Look for it…

Saturday was also my birthday.  Lots of people work on their birthdays, there was no reason to turn down this job because it fell on my birthday, and as it turned out, we celebrated the occasion on Wednesday, the night before my husband left, and there was the birthday lunch with my girlfriends on Thursday, at the new sushi restaurant on Main Street, and then my son took me out for my birthday Friday night.  Saturday was low key, I stopped at a friend’s house on the way home, for wine and pizza and some recorder practice for my recorder consort which met today.  I sat in bed late last night, enjoying all of the birthday wishes from everyone I’ve ever known who are now friends with me on Facebook. It is too much fun.

So now my big push is to finish the fabric on my new loom, which I’ve just started to weave.  You may recall back in April, I sat down to design this fabric, as part of my guild’s challenge.

We all did a yarn swap last September, and the goal was to weave or make something with the yarn in the bag you got, for the person whose yarn it was.  I detailed what was in my bag in my April blog post, and then I started traveling again, and never got back to it.  The push is on now, because it is due in 10 days.  And I’m really nervous.  I did get the loom warped finally, earlier this week, but since the bulk of the yarn is a hairy kid mohair, it is going to be a complete nightmare to weave.  I’m taking all the steps I know to get it to weave, the loom is handling it all remarkably well, this is my new acquisition, and I couldn’t be happier with it, but still, this is a sticky warp, and it is painfully slow to weave.  Plus I hated the first inch of my design, and I had to go back to the drawing board, and redesign based on the threading because I was not about to change that.  So now I’m happy, and I can wind my shuttles and start weaving in the weft wise stripes, and hopefully I’ll be able to develop a rhythm and get this yardage off in the next 10 days, and help my daughter get her challenge project finished as well.  Stay tuned…

Oh, and one more thing, if you are in the Western North Carolina area, you know about the Western North Carolina Fibers/Handweavers Guild, sponsors of the Blue Ridge Fiber Show.  I’m one of the jurors this year, and I donated one of my tote bags for a raffle fund raiser for the awards the jurors will be presenting at the exhibit.  There are a number of other donations, and you can view them all online, and my tote bag as well.  Bid early and often!