In 1989, Alice was in her late 50s and a successful author of children’s books.  Her brother had encouraged her to try this new service called Prodigy, which provided “online” news, features, and electronic mail or “e-mail”.  It proved to be a good resource for keeping up with her siblings and their families.  There were also “message boards” on various topics, including one for writers.  Alice began participating in this message board; and she posted to it looking for advice when she found herself wanting to write some scenes into her next book about Dungeons & Dragons, about which she knew next to nothing.

Cut to the headquarters of Prodigy in White Plains, New York.  A 20-year-old college student works there in a part-time job as a tester.  She has a lot of downtime, and she spends it reading the message boards, basically all of them, since there aren’t that many.  She sees this author’s query about D&D.  She’s played it maybe twice, didn’t like it.  But since she’s got downtime, and she’s got opinions, she responds.

When this story unfolded into legend, Alice would tell everyone that my response was simultaneously utterly charming and utterly unhelpful.  But that response quickly blossomed into a daily correspondence, or daily meaning every day that I was at work, since that’s where the “e-mail” was.  We easily chatted every day I was at work, sometimes several times per day.  I told her all my problems.  Alice was interested in people and interested in helping, so she advised me.  I had no one to look up to in my life, so I listened.

So there was a period where I was away from work, probably some holiday period, for a longer time than usual.  Alice said that her husband Larry found her at the computer looking a bit listless and forlorn.  He rubbed her shoulders and said jokingly, “You miss her, don’t you – your ‘daughter’.”  When I returned and Alice told me about the exchange, she said that Larry was right, she had missed her ‘daughter’; but since we looked way too dissimilar to ever pass as mother-daughter, we should perhaps adopt each other as aunt-niece.  That’s how she became my Aunt Alice.


Alice McLerran


Aunt Alice and me when we met in 1990.

Alice lived a live filled with travel and adventure; and everywhere she went, she managed to meet the most remarkable people.  Some were no doubt truly remarkable; others had remarkableness thrust upon them by Alice herself.  It will forever have been my great fortune to have been one of those people – in the latter camp, of course.  I was not and am not remarkable; but in her eyes, I was.  I will never quite understand why she chose me; but she did, she chose me to love and adopt as her niece, and it changed my life forever and for better.

Aunt Alice passed away yesterday after several years of living with dementia.  I think it was early 2015 when I received my last email from her, her correspondence having already started to become confused and rambling.  I’ve missed her these years.




S’E2S’E Dye Job

This isn’t the S’E2S’E project I’d planned on doing today.  I had a 4-ounce bag of Clun Forest raw wool I was going to wash and dye.  I dropped it into the wash water…  noticed it seemed to have poop pellets in it.  Possibly a lot of poop pellets.  Then I noticed the locks were extremely short.  I thought of picking all that poop out of that wool, and then fussing with the little locks that I would barely be able to hold between my fingertips as I tried to flick them.  Then I thought of how I was not going to enjoy one moment of this project.  Then I double-checked the price on the bag, not that it matters, and it was four dollars.  I thought, I could just dump this out on the ground and forget about it and the lousy four dollars I spent on it.  And I did!

I took out another little satchel of S’E2S’E, also sold to me aw raw wool, but in much, much better condition.  That is what you see here; it is Lincoln Longwool – LONGwool, I emphasize.  I am going to enjoy this one.  Looks like mohair, doesn’t it?


Just Another Weekend


This is X, obviously, last night at the Skunk Hollow Tavern in beautiful Hartland, Vermont.  That is NOT me in the background behind him; it’s someone else with excessively long, straight red hair.

X likes tavern-type places.  I prefer exotic cuisine, but I like to make him happy.

Today my father has been on my mind, gone four years today.  I went and did my shopping, and I greeted everyone the way he would have greeted them.  I bought a lot of everything, because he always bought a lot of everything, because, “this way you have it.”  You can’t argue with that.