A note from Michele Tway

There’s that old saying about upon mentioning you have a plan for your life that if you listen carefully, you can hear the universe laughing at you. They must have had a real belly laugh when I mentioned my thoughts about my future when I was in my 20s. I’m still living in North Carolina; though not on the side that I started from. And, there’s been some time spent in Virginia, Texas and New York. But, never, in my wildest dreams, did I even think I would be making art on a full-time basis.

This very website, began in one of many unexpected detours in my life, creating and building websites and helping others to market their business through my words on their websites. This site was both hobby and experimentation. How much easier to show a prospective client I knew what I was doing than by creating a website that ranked well for quite a number of things and even twice went viral thanks to a pair of posts that hit the jackpot on the old Digg site? I shared my crafty endeavors and even some advice on selling handmade items of the crafty kind. But, it seemed like my focus was on helping others live their dream while only catching a few glimpses of mine.

Getting known as Michele Tway aka the “bird lady” and that being a very good thing was never on my radar.

It’s been six years. A journey began with a simple sewing pattern from another crafty website. Miles of yarn and wire, hundreds (maybe thousands) of beads, and much frustration later, I’m where I am today. A member of the much respected Southern Highland Craft Guild and celebrating today’s acceptance into my second exhibition in South Carolina.

I have debated what to do with this site and several others that I own. Are they going to represent who Michele Tway is now? or will they somehow diminish the professional artist I have become? Sites, like this one, that are suffering from years of neglect; no longer look as nice as they once did. I could certainly fix them but then I would be taking a lot of time away from what I love doing to fix something I might turn off in the near future.

Ironically, thanks to the ‘one must get links to get a site noticed by the search engines in order for people to find it and hopefully be inclined to link to it and get the site more noticed’ requirements for a successful website; I’m back on this pretty much abandoned site hoping to use it to promote my new endeavors. Ironically, searches for my name bring up this site before any of my others. While not the oldest of my sites or the one that has been most recently updated; Google seems to associate it with me.

So, hopefully, if you do end up on this site; you’ll just take a moment to read this one last post and ignore the rest of what you see before moving on to the site that reflects my current work and to learn more about why I’m getting known as the bird lady. Please visit Michele Tway Mixed Media & Fiber Artist. And, I thank you for your interest in me and my work.

Ode to the Pizza That Was

pizzaI’m in my mid-forties. I remember when pizza was this yummy extravaganza of gooey cheese that could stretch as long as your arm and rich tomato sauce on a crispy, yet soft, doughy crust. When it was hot, you folded the piece in half to keep on the toppings in place. Oh so good.

I haven’t seen it in years. Sure we’ve been to pizza places across the country but none are even close to the yummy, ummy goodness of the pizzas of yesterday. We knew New York style pizza. Today’s thin crust, with it’s scrape of sauce and often burnt-looking cheese is not New York pizza. Even calling it pizza is questionable. We had wondered for years why is there no one who knows how to make decent pizza.

We went to the local brick-oven place that people were raving about. When our pies were delivered to the table, we looked at each other and immediately said, “Where’s the sauce?” When we asked our waitress for more sauce, she said she would have to talk to the owner. Huh? He came scurrying over and said that they didn’t have sauce on their pizzas; they were California style. We learned that day that folks in California apparently let their local restaurants get away with simply putting chopped tomatoes on their pies and not have to bother making a true sauce. Chopped tomatoes on top we had heard of. Chopped tomatoes in lieu of sauce – sacrilege that should not ever be called a pizza.

Using “real mozzarella” produces blobs of mushy white stuff that looks like blobs of pudding on the pizza. Where the heck is the good stuff? Most restaurants are using flatbread. Flatbread? Yeah, cause it cooks way faster and is no doubt cheaper.

We’ve lost count of the “authentic New York style” offerings we’ve tried…that were big time stinko and held no resemblance to the crust, sauce or cheese we keep hoping to find.

Several months ago, we were watching one of those reality TV shows where a famous chef visits a failing restaurant and helps them turn things around. It was an Italian place in, I think, Colorado. When the pizza hit the table, Mom and I went, “Oh, my God. Look at that!” There, finally was the wonderful pizza we have been searching for. The response of the chef? “Ew, gross. This is a soggy crust and greasy mess. So, old school.” It looked like the wonderful pizzas I had grown up with. He made them change it to the more modern, fresh and blah stuff everyone else has. We read the before and after reviews and quite a few people wanted the old, yummy pizza back. Hopefully, the owners now offer both versions.

What launched me today? Oh, one of those emails from Pinterest with a collection of boards they thought I might find interesting. The topic today was pizza. I looked at one board that had over 400 different Pins and maybe one of the pizzas looked worthwhile. The rest had burnt cheese, little to no sauce and/or tasteless flatbread crusts. sigh.

So, now we know where really good pizza went. It was deemed old-fashioned and systematically removed from restaurant menus. It is now replaced with cheaper, easier and quicker to make copies that the un-initiated don’t seem to know are far from what a real pizza was meant to be. How sad that the public accepts these pathetic copies of a once yummy and decadent delight.

We live in hope that we’ll find a holdout who understands that while just about any pizza will sell, truly decadent pizza is amazing and worth almost any price.


The Great Picture Move

So, here I am, almost 4 months after I began the great picture move. Reusable Art needs updating. The gallery software that makes it function needs to be upgraded. It has changed a great deal since I started the site back in 2008. Features from that old version were not include in the new – the developers assumed no one was using them. That always leaves one with a warm fuzzy.

Ironically, it was those same features that made the site so easy for the editor at Wikimedia to scrape.

I’ve been talking about doing something for years. 2014 is finally going to be that year but it does seem to be taking forever. I’m not a database guru by any means. The folks who know more than I do, didn’t seem too interested in taking on the job. Not sure if they didn’t want to mess with it, mix business with friendship or were simply too busy. So, I bit the bullet and opted to move the pictures by hand. Yep, by hand.

First I downloaded the pertinent tables into spreadsheets. Ew, what a mess that turned into. Data that appears correctly on the live site seemed somehow twisted in the tables. Spent weeks trying to build The spreadsheet in hopes that I could use it to port the data to WordPress. Alas, none of my spreadsheet programs would port to XML. OK. Let’s just say some choice words were heard that day.

So, I embarked on the project I had thought I would never have to do…move each of the almost 3,000 images by hand. I installed a copy of WordPress on my new Mac and the journey into learning how my new computer worked and the utter tedium of copy/paste tab tab copy/paste began.

In between keeping my other sites running, a pair of client projects and a flu-like cold that was truly evil; it took me 3 months to move all of the photos, create the new categories and edit most of the posts.

Now, I’m working on making the overall look and feel of the new site the way I want.

I still have to figure out the .htaccess file to finally get rid of those really gross URLs the old software generated without losing the back links. I still have to move everything from my hard drive to the web server. And, I still expect more things to go wrong, but for now, I’m finally moving forward.

One good thing that came out of all of this is that I have come up with a number of new strategies for managing the site – hopefully, that will mean even more wonderful pictures. I’ve finally got a more efficient way of keeping track of my source materials. I’ve set up a way to keep track of which categories have had new images posted and which ones have been neglected.

arctic-fox-thumbSpeaking of neglected categories, I was shocked to find so many that had not been updated with new images since 2009 and 2010. Granted, some of the image sets will never be updated, there were plenty neglected categories that could easily have new images added to them. I’ve been working on adding new pictures to both the live/old site and the new/hidden site. If you’re interested, there are new images in the H, K, Q, Y, fox and hopefully sometime later today the Greek Mythology categories.

Hopefully, the switch will only improve the site. Hopefully, Google won’t downgrade it, call it a new site or do some other equally destructive and idiotic thing like it did with Blog About Crafts. But, hopefully, the big move won’t take as long as it did to recover this site after it was hacked.

Not sure if there’s anyone out there actually listening but hey sometimes it’s good to just put into words what you’re thinking.