there have been only three times in the last decade that i have cancelled a professional engagement. it isn't something i do lightly or without a great deal of consideration.
the first time occurred when two emails arrived; the first from the workshop host telling me that although the class was booked out he would only be paying me half my fee due to "unforseen financial difficulties" [meaning that not even my airfare would be covered] and the second was from a student-to-be in that same class telling me how excited she was to be sharing a room with me for the duration of the event. gulp.
the second was for private reasons, too complicated to be listed here.
the third; my taking advantage of the clause in the contract that allows either party to cancel the agreement at any time up to 30 days prior to the event, took place over a month ago after i had wrestled with flight bookings for the MISA class just passed and realised that there was a very real chance of finding myself stranded somewhere in the dark instead of arriving in good spirits and fine form ready to teach at Lopez Island in September.
now that i have actually been to Madeline Island i am glad i listened to my inner Border Collie.
the island is very pretty and reminds me strongly of Latvia. lilacs and peonies abound, the road verges are bursting with wildflowers and strawberries, fireflies and owls bring entertainment to the dark, the dyepots produced amazing greens and my students were a joy to spend time with : but the process of getting there tried me somewhat. delayed inward flights, no less than three gate changes at Minneapolis airport [B to C to D - i think i've had the full tour now] before arriving at Duluth and a long journey in the back seat of a shuttle [during which my knees informed me that i'm not the spring chicken i once was] have vindicated the decision. [ my preferred mode of surface travel is in a car with me at the wheel and with a stop for wandering and wondering and leg-stretching about every 45 minutes ]
i'm truly sorry for the inconvenience and disappointment the cancellation has caused those students who signed up for the Fall class but when push comes to shove, the Lopez Islanders did book me first and do have a right to expect me to arrive on time and unflustered. just to get back to Minneapolis took more than half a day...and i had only allowed a day to travel between Madeline and Lopez. with not one but two ferries and three or four plane trips involved i could see disaster looming large on the horizon. all it takes is one good storm or one missed connection and it all goes down the gurgler. my fault entirely for wanting to accommodate as many folk as possible and for over-estimating my capabilities.
the folks at MISA asked me to write to students and explain myself
- i figured it was best done here where it wouldn't get lost in translation.
+ + +
and what is that picture of the boots about?
they became infested with a breeding colony of chiggers during my stay on the island and i was forced to abandon them in San Francisco. squirting the insides with insect repellent didn't quell the libidinous enthusiasm of the tiny terrors and so i had to leave my trusty friends behind.
sadly my command of Spanish was not adequate to explain to the kindly housekeeping person at the Kabuki that these boots harboured unpleasant surprises. i do hope she didn't try them on. if they sit in a Goodwill sorting shed for long enough, maybe those chiggers will have shuffled off this mortal coil - i really couldn't risk bringing them home and introducing a new pest to Australia -
i'll spare you the image of what they've done to my leg but i can assure you i won't be exposing the bare flesh of my calves anytime soon.
...we don't want to frighten the children...