Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Zipper Lady

I learned a whole lot about zippers this week. That’s because I got to interview Alicia Werner, aka “the zipper lady.” Since 1994, Werner has been supplying zippers to anyone who needs them all over the world. She stocks zippers in five weights and 91 colors, any length you might need, and she can get them to you in a hurry.

A fifth generation native of the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado, Werner headed for the bright lights of Fort Collins and Colorado State University when she finished high school. She earned a degree in textiles then headed for Parsons School of Design in New York where she graduated then went to work in bridal gown manufacturing.

After a stint in Milan, Italy designing furniture, an MFA in weaving from CSU and a degree in international farm marketing from California Polytechnic Institute, Werner settled in Vail, Colorado where she established a slipcover and drapery business that eventually grew to 19 employees.

But she never gave zippers a second thought until the day she got a desperate call from a supplier who had agreed to ship 700 pillows to a customer and then learned that the person who was to sew them had suddenly quit. “I need them in two weeks,” he told Werner.

“No problem,” she replied.

That was before she went looking for the 700 black zippers she needed to do the job. What she didn’t know was that it was nearly impossible to buy them. She tried supplier after supplier who put her off with comments like, “We don’t sell to little ladies with loving hands working at home,” or “Fifty thousand is our minimum order,” or “We can deliver in six months.” She eventually found a company who could supply them but had to drive to Anaheim, California to get them in time.

She began to give zippers some thought. A son who was in Hong Kong at the time did some research for her. She went to that part of the world and made several contacts who have become her suppliers.  Today she sells zippers for tents and backpacks, clown shoes and wedding dresses, separating zippers and invisible zippers, big fat zippers and skinny little zippers. Her warehouse overflows with them, on spools and in big colorful piles.

No one knows about her in Fort Collins. She doesn’t have a single local customer but you can bet that her zippers are holding things together and allowing them to come apart when necessary all over town. Her warehouse is hidden away on the east side of Fort Collins and I suspect that its presence means that there are more zippers in Northern Colorado than there are anywhere else in the state—or even in the mountain west. And Alicia Werner has found her niche.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

I'm the exchange student!

Hi, all Libby's friends out there!

My name is Anna and I'm the exchange student Libby has talked about, we decided to write on each others blogs.

I'm a girl from Sweden who decided to move to USA last spring. Why I decided to move- I'm not really sure, but I know that it was one of the best choices I've made in my life!
To leave your family and friends, your home, was one of the hardest thing I ever done- but it was so worth it!

To come here and experience the whole USA-life is wonderful, meet new people and experience new situations is one of the best things I know, and you learn so much!

Okay, enough talking about me.
Libby is a wonderful woman as you already probably know, I'm so lucky to be in her home. We've done quite a bit together, going to church, looked for prom dresses, written stories, going to birthday parties, but I'm looking forward to do more. It's so much energy in this woman, and she is almost 80 years old?! Isn't that cool and inspiring? I hope I'll be like her when I get older!
It makes me sad that I just have two more months with her, but let's make them to the best!

Again, I'm so lucky to be a part of Libby's family, she inspires me so much! But very soon I'll go back to Sweden, take my driving license and fix my visa so I can move to South Africa with my family. Are you interested to follow my adventures I also have a blog:

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Playing the Game

Last week I flew to the other end of the country for what turned out to be a water polo festival. I, who have never been a very good spectator of any sport, got totally into watching eleven high school water polo games, half of them featuring a granddaughter who can swim like crazy and whack a slippery wet ball through a floating goal with amazing strength and precision. The other games were played by guys who hit the ball even harder.

The games took place over three days with a Sunday off in between. That’s a lot of dressing and undressing, getting wet and dry and wet again. And for some team members who haven’t yet reached their full potential and have to sit on the edge of the pool waiting for a chance to join in the fray, it’s got to be a bit of a drag.

But maybe not. These kids seem to love what they’re doing. They practice a couple of hours five days a week and never seem to tire of it. They sandwich in classes, volunteer activities and as much socializing as they can manage. In the off-season, most of them sign on to the swim team, the best way they know to stay in shape for water polo.

These kids become very close. They’re like a family. They count on each other in the pool and out. They laugh and play and struggle together. And their parents, who loyally support them, seem to have formed their own close social circle.

Last Friday, after playing extremely well in a hard-fought but losing battle in the tournament, a senior and one of the best players on the team, got out of the pool and told the coach he was finished. He walked away for good leaving behind a sterling high school record and with less than a month to go in his final season of play.

Reactions ranged from shock to sadness to anger from the coach,  the players and the parents. Turns out this boy’s decision had been coming for a while. He’d been struggling to make himself go to practice. His parents dragged him out of bed to get him to that final game.

The water polo parents had plenty to say to each other about the situation, but none of them, including his parents, had any good answers. They weren’t sure what to do. Perhaps there was nothing they could do.

It got me to thinking about how very important a role athletics often plays in a student’s life. How a sport can become all-consuming for players, their families, their coaches. The degree of commitment required. When you sign up for a team, how much do you owe it to your teammates to stick with it through the season regardless of how difficult that may become? Does a star player have a larger commitment than a bench warmer? What’s the role of the coach? Should he welcome back someone who has walked away?

Lots of questions. No easy answers. Food for thought.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

High tech is here to stay

This week brought home to me the enormous impact technology has had on all of our lives—mostly for better—but now and then for worse.

I am way down the line when it comes to being tech savvy. Over time, I have learned what I need to know, to write stories and take photographs and send them where they need to go. But I seldom reach out to learn about something new unless it is something I’m going to need to use. I don’t think I’ll ever be an early adopter.

Some small things:

I mentioned last week that I volunteered to house an exchange student for a few months. Sounded simple and easy, but there was a raft of “paperwork” involved, though none of it was on paper. If I hadn’t had a computer, I would not have been able to make myself eligible. When they needed my signature, I had to sign on the dotted line, photograph my signature with my smart phone and email it to the appropriate person. When they needed photos of my house, I used my phone again.

I drove to a vast parking lot at Colorado State University to hear an author speak one night last week. “Pay to park” the sign read and then it instructed me to use an app which I didn’t have and didn’t know how to get, to pay the fee. That was an easy one. I found another place to park.

Later in the week I had an opportunity to learn about the Colorado Encyclopedia project, a way for Coloradans to tell the story of their state described as “an informative cultural experience as diverse and colorful as the state it serves.” It will be online and only online. It’s an exciting project that would not be possible if there were no such thing as “online.”  It also means that people without some sort of device, computer, phone or iPad, or access to one, won’t be able to enjoy it.

Anyone is invited to contribute. It’s a great opportunity for wide exposure for small communities and local voices. Tourism will benefit as information is shared about little-known historic sites, attractions and events. And thanks to technology, it will be constantly and easily updated.

I don’t think to pack my cell phone every time I leave my house and more often that not, I’m sorry. “That would have made a great photo, if only I’d had my phone with me” or “Geez. I’m lost. I wish I had my phone.”

Charge it up! Kicking and screaming, we all gotta get with it if we don’t want to get left behind.