Hello Fellow Rodmakers & Restorationists,
Welcome to the Golden Witch Annual Letter. I’ve been promising to write this letter for a couple months now. I guess the good news is that I’ve been so busy, it has remained a back-burner project until it finally became necessary. Now that I’m about to close the shop for the third time in 2014, with many more shop closures for all of us to work around throughout 2014, I need to explain why the Golden Witch work schedule has changed so much.
First, as you may know from reading the irregular up-date letters I’ve been posting on the front page of the website, Golden Witch has undergone a sea change. Erica, who had been with the company since its formal incorporation, has retired. I’ve temporarily taken over what had been her duties – the office & inventory end of the company. I still fulfill my routine obligations to the company in the shop – making guides, customizing parts, working on tools, and so forth. I’m also spending many hours every week working with our supplies to reinvigorate our existing product line and to design new tools and components. Some of you have already discovered that I’m all but impossible to reach by phone; email far better suits my erratic moments in the office, usually early in the day, after the kids are asleep, or during odd “free” moments over the weekends.
Second, my four kids are involved with martial arts and we are fortunate to be part of a demanding and successful studio. Both boys have already earned their junior black belts in Kung Fu (this took each of them about six years) and they are now working back up through the belt ranks at the adult level. Two of the four kids have competed regionally and, at the pace they’re going, it is likely that these two will compete nationally within the next twelve months. My youngest boy, Drake, has already been competing at a national level for nearly two years. Last May he took Grand Champion, Age 10-12 Advanced (Black Belt), for his Sword Form at the North American Federation of Martial Arts competition in Atlantic City. This, along with his performance in subsequent competitions for weapons forms (now he uses dual weapons, Sword & Fan, simultaneously), open hand forms, and point sparring, earned him an invitation to join NAFMA’s “Team USA” and to compete internationally. He’ll be attending his first international competition in St. Lucia, starting at the tail end of February. And since he’s only twelve, I’ll be traveling with him to many events…hence the regular shop closures with Golden Witch. At some point I’ll hire a staffer to keep the office open while I’m out of town, but I’m taking the regeneration of Golden Witch one step at a time.
In addition to Drake’s competitions, I will be closing the shop for a variety of other family activities. Last year, I took both boys on their first extended backpacking trip, looping around Pennsylvania’s beautiful & challenging forty-two mile Black Forest Trail. This year, we’ll strap on our backpacks for at least one long trip. We’ll also spend a few days boar hunting in South Carolina. And of course we’ll get some fishing in, too. Our weekends tend to fill up fast with four active kids. Our musical daughter, Mackenzie, keeps us busy with Clarinet practices and, soon, performances, plus she loves swimming, tennis, martial arts fan form, and horse camp. Our youngest daughter, Alex, is active in martial arts – also fan form in particular, plus she loves Irish Step Dancing and she plans to compete in her first Feis this year. Drake lives for martial arts, but also enjoys hiking, and he’s my helper around the shop. The older boy, Angus, is our actor – right now he’s part of the local theater troupe performing The Wizard of Oz; additionally he’s an active Boy Scout, an avid hunter and angler, and when he finds the time, he still puts a few hours in at the martial arts studio. I home-school Alex and Drake, so when I’m not answering the phone during the day, it’s quite likely that I’m trying to wrap my head around an algebra problem which I need to explain, or I’m helping to revise the fifth draft of an essay on fossils. The long and the short is that while I love my job and most sincerely appreciate your business, for the benefit of my family I try to make the most of the fact that I can set my own work hours. Golden Witch always has my attention for seventy or more hours every week, but those hours are not regular. Please bear with me as I juggle my competing responsibilities and a year from now I’m certain there will be a lot of positive changes.
Thanks for taking the time to read this personal letter. Golden Witch has always been a personal endeavor for me – around family, it has been my life. I felt that you needed an explanation for my apparently spotty work habits. As things continue to improve with GW – depth of inventory, turn-around time, breadth of products, innovative components, etc. – you’ll know I’ve been busting my ass to do something I truly love while trying to maintain some semblance of balance with my non-working life. Whether rodmaking and restoration work falls within the scope of your working hours or the hours during which you studiously avoid work, I sincerely hope our products make those hours more enjoyable. That’s definitely the goal.
My very best regards,