Category Archives: Media

Artists Collective’s “24/7 @ 47”

Every week, the Artists Collective of Westport members meet by Zoom. They talk about their challenges as artists, and share idea about current projects.

The latest group show came out of a recent meeting. Called “24/7 @ 47 Main” — and described as a “pandemic-friendly” exhibition — it’s a 10-minute video featuring 81 works from artists all over Connecticut.

It runs continuously on a large screen in the window of 47 Main Street (opposite the former Banana Republic).

Not comfortable venturing out quite yet (or just lazy)? Check out 2 options online.

One (below) is the show on the Artists Collective’s YouTube channel:

The other is a website. It’s got every exhibition image — plus details on each piece. There’s information too on how to contact an artist, for purchases. Click here to see.

So even though the physical “show” is in Westport, it’s accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world.

That’s fitting. Those weekly Zoom meetings have included Artists’ Collective member Helen Klisser During. She’s a Westporter — but right now she’s back in her native New Zealand.

She joins right in. No one cares that it’s the next day there already.

Amy Kaplan’s “Screened” is one of 81 works in the current show.

Roundup: Yarn Bombing; Coffee Roasting; Black Duck; More


Everyone loves the Yarn Bomber. Now you can learn her secrets.

No, not who she is. Even better: how she does it.

The Yarn Bomber is bringing her talents — decorating trees and street signs in beautiful, uplifting colors — to the masses. She’s created a virtual knitting course, and anyone can join.

For just $50 you get needles, starter yarn, 5 days of instruction (1 hour a day), knitting videos, online tutorials, and a live public socially distanced yarn bomb at a scheduled date. All supplies can be picked up will at Westport Yarns.

The Yarn Bomber can also accommodate custom group sessions for groups (minimum of 6 participants).

Email yarnbalmer@gmail.com for more information.

Yarn bombing at Compo Beach (Photo/Judy Auber Jahnel)


There are plenty of places to buy coffee in Saugtuck, from Dunkin’ to Donut Crazy.

There may soon be one more.

A sign next to Tutti’s — in the storefront occupied briefly by a kombucha bar — advertises ILSE Coffee. It’s the work of 2013 Staples High School graduate Lucas Smith, and Rebecca Grossman.

They started a Kickstarter campaign. Their goal is to open a “dream cafe and marketplace.” The roastery/market will include specialty coffee, pastries, sandwiches, small plates and to-go food, along with wine, beer, cocktails and retail items. They hope to host coffee cuppings, seminars and workshops too.

The goal is $10,000. The deadline is August 1.

As of yesterday though, the Kickstarter drive was $9,999 short.

Lucas Smith, in the Saugatuck space.


Speaking of Saugatuck — here’s the news you’ve all been waiting for:

The Black Duck is back open!

Just in time for summer, all’s right with the world.

(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)


Uncertain weather today forced a postponement of the Supper & Soul Drive-in/Tailgate Concert. The event — featuring the Tom Petty Project — is now set for Sunday (July 5, 6 p.m.).

Tickets for tonight’s show can be used on the new date. If you can’t make the new date, contact the sponsoring Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce (matthew@westportwestonchamber.com). There’s a wait list for the sold-out show.

During the show, anyone with comments or concerns should call 203-851-2771.

The Chamber and Westport Library will also hold a streaming concert next Sunday (July 11). Part of Supper & Soul, it features the ’80s hair band Mullett. Tickets are $10.80. Click here for details.


In these challenging times, support groups are more important than ever.

But physical distancing and other rules make it challenging for organizations to offer that support.

Positive Directions — the Westport-based prevention and counseling agency — can help. They offer free, weekly virtual support groups for people trying to achieve healthy lifestyles, after battling substance abuse addiction.

There are special sessions too for family members, and young adults. Click here for details.


Kami Evans — who as “Kami’s Kloud” provided tons of Westport information on social media platforms — will move back here with her family in August. She’s been in England since 2018.

Her newest project is working on a global social media campaign, incorporating local artists. Her first video stars Westport’s own Rosie Jon. Born without arms, she paints (beautifully) with her toes.

Rosie’s current project — #WeAreOne — is “so poignant right now,” Kami says.

Click below for Rosie’s video. Click here for links to all of Kami’s platforms.


Westporters Chris and Amy Overman were ready to start a family. Yet at 38, Amy struggled with infertility. For 6 years, the couple tried many treatments.

After 13 failed cycles — including IUI, IVF and stem treatments — Amy read a chapter in her infertility book that many people skip: egg donation.

It’s expensive. But the Overmans received an egg donation. They’re now the proud parents of a son, Ryder.

Two years later, Amy paid it forward. She gave $10,000 to the Norwalk-based Nest Egg Foundation — and called it the  Ryder Grant. Now, someone else can benefit from an egg donation.

The Foundation’s application window for the 2020 fertility grant program runs through July 31. Connecticut and New York residents are eligible.

For more information, including grant application eligibility criteria and how to become a donor, click here


And finally … a fitting tribute to the late John Prine.

Roundup: Library Reopens; Craig Melvin; Dirty Dancing; Yankee Doodle Fair; More


The reimagined Westport Library was a spectacular success. For a few months, it was packed with users, jammed with events, pulsing with energy.

Then COVID-19 struck.

But 4 months after it closed, the library is poised to reopen. The big date is Monday, July 13.

Limited services begin, weekdays (2 to 6 p.m.) and Saturdays (12 to 4 p.m.). Only 100 people — including staff — will be allowed in the building at any time.

Masks are required. The only entrance is the main one (upper parking lot). The only exit is through the café.

The café and store are not open. Conference and meeting rooms will also be closed. Computer access will be limited to the Express stations.

Curbside pickup services continues weekdays (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.).

The library will extend loan periods, but fines will accrue for materials not returned within the loan periods.

The library will continue to offer virtual programs and services, while phasing in the full reopening of the building.


During these disconnected times, Dave Briggs — former CNN, NBC Sports and Fox anchor (and proud Westporter) — has conducted a series of Instagram Live interviews with interesting residents.

Folks like 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, restaurant owner Bill Taibe and former NFL quarterback/ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky talk about the town, the pandemic, and answer questions from followers.

Today’s guest (Thursday, July 2) is Craig Melvin. The NBC “Today” host has been square in the middle of both the COVID and racial unrest stories.

Just follow @westportmagazine on Instagram, and click on the “Live” tab at the top of their feed at 4:30 for a fascinating chat. It will be reposted later by Dave (@davebriggstv).

Craig Melvin


There are no fireworks at Compo Beach to celebrate the 4th. BUT … there is a great movie at Westport’s own drive-in!

The Remarkable Theater shows “Dirty Dancing” at the Imperial Avenue parking lot. The classic summer romance/dance film begins at 8:45 p.m. on Saturday (the 4th). The lot opens at 7:45, and pre-film content starts at 8:15.

Tickets are $50 per car. Click here to purchase.

It’s a great movie. Even if it’s not “Independence Day,” or “Born on the 4th of July.”


COVID knocked out this year’s Yankee Doodle Fair. But the annual Westport Woman’s Club fundraiser has been around for a century. It will be back next year.

And if you want your Fair fix, check out this video shot last year by interns from Fourth Row Films. It premiered last week, at the Remarkable Theater’s opening night drive-in movie benefit for the WWC.

if you’re inspired by the video — or just want to help provide much-needed funds for the Woman’s Club community grants, scholarships, food pantry and other great causes — click here.


Want to win the war on invasive weeds?

That’s the topic of the next “Pollinator Series” online presentation from Wakeman Town Farm.

This Monday (July 6, 7-8 p.m.), University of Connecticut advanced master gardener Alice Ely will spotlight a guide to invasives, developed by WTF’s 2020 senior class interns.

Click here to register. Registrants will be emailed a Zoom link the day of the talk. Everyone gets a free guide to the area’s worst weeds too.


Missed the benefit cabaret that Staples High School senior Jamie Mann organized for Obi Ndefo — the actor/inspiration/friend who lost both legs when hit by a drunk driver?

Here’s your chance. Just click below. The sound is not great at the start, but it gets better. The performances, back story and messages are well worth it!


And finally … another fun summertime classic.

Pegeen Gaherin: “Getting Past Madness”

After all these years, my long-ago High Point Road neighbor Pegeen Gaherin remembers many details about our youth.

The gang of kids riding bikes everywhere. Pool-hopping at night. She even recalls my dog’s name: Taffy.

After graduating from Staples High School in 1972, Pegeen remembers fun times waitressing at Viva Zapata, and partying to great music at Players’ Tavern.

But there were darker moments too. Suddenly in 1977, her world crashed down. Manic depression struck. Pegeen’s life has never been the same.

“One day the sun was out. The next day I felt as if the shades were drawn shut, without a glimmer of light peeking through,” she says.

Pegeen Gaherin today.

Her first onset of depression lasted 4 months, followed by a long manic episode laced with heavy drug use.

After a major psychotic break in Hawaii, she worked hard to regain her life. She moved in with her parents on Cape Cod.

“I couldn’t even tie my shoes,” Pegeen says. “My mother nursed me back to health.”

(Her father, John Gaherin, was a well-known negotiator. He represented New York newspaper publishers and Major League Baseball owners in the 1960’s and 70’s, and helped write baseball’s first labor contracts and pension plan.)

A year later, Pegeen felt better. As is sometimes the case with mental illness, she stopped taking medication. She began drinking a bit, and smoking some weed.

Another psychotic break in Miami followed. She pulled herself together again. She took classes at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, but another major dissociative episode followed, in Cambridge.

After trying to work in New York, and living again with her parents on the Cape, Pegeen moved back to Westport. Once again, she drank.

Alcohol and manic depression form a lethal combination. “I knew they’d be fatal,” she says. “I’d end up as a Jane Doe.”

In 1987 she found AA. She’s been sober — “one day at a time” — ever since.

“Medication clears up my mental illness,” Pegeen notes. “But I had to learn to live again. AA gave me that.”

She loved her Westport AA group. Yet when she moved back to Cape Cod in 2003, her experience was different.

They said, “you’re not sober if you’re taking meds. They shunned me.” She is grateful these days for Westport’s AA meetings, which she attends via Zoom. She is grateful too for lithium, which she calls “a miracle drug.”

While still living here in 1998, she took a writing class with David Wiltse. She hung out with a group of writers, who encouraged her to tell her story.

It was not easy. The stigma of mental illness is strong. “Coming out against AA is countercultural” too, she notes.

She finished her book in 2010. But she held on to it for a decade. Over the past few months, she felt compelled to publish.

The other day, “Getting Past Madness: A Young Woman’s Journey from Mental Illness to Mental Health” was published. (Her author’s nom de plume, Pegeen Keenan-O’Brien, is a combination of her 2 grandmothers’ names.)

Pegeen says, “I wanted to stop the judgment that often comes with mental illness. Even in the most healing of environments, there is far less understanding than I would like to see.

“I told my story the best way I could. I’m so glad I started it so long ago. If I can help just one person, that would be great.”

(To order “Getting Past Madness,” and for more information, click here. Hat tip: Kathleen Kiley)

Roundup: MyTeamTriumph; Old Mill; Mr. Woods’ History; More


COVID has hit MyTeam Triumph hard. The great program pairs children, teens and adults with disabilities (“captains”) with volunteers (“angels”) who help them participate in triathlons and road races. But close physical contact during the crisis is forbidden.

So the Westport chapter has created a new event. On Sunday, July 12, at any time between 4 and 5 p.m. captains are invited to the Charles Street railroad station parking lot across from Mystic Market.

They, their families and caregivers can drive, walk or run through the lot. MyTeam Triumph angels will line both sides, honking and cheering — and remaining socially distant.

There’s a special gift for captains too, at the end.

For more information, click here or email tehrlich@myTeamTriumph-ct.org.


The newest beach beautification project is a joint effort between Parks & Rec, and local residents.

Old Mill neighbors LaVonne and Lynn Kramer (shown with grandson Cooper) and the town teamed up to add flowers at the Old Mill Beach entrance. They’ll maintain them together too.


North Woods graduated from Staples High School in 2015, then from Indiana University 4 years later with an honors degree in history.

That doesn’t always pay the bills. So — with a minor in French, and a longtime passion for the culture — he landed a teaching position with France’s Ministry of Education.

He spent the last 9 months teaching in Le Puy en Veley. While waiting out the pandemic there, he started listening to podcasts.

North loves both history and talking. So he created a podcast: “Mr. Woods’ History 101.”

He’s recorded 12 episodes so far. Topics range from the Tour de France and American flag to Nazi uniforms. The most recent topic: the Statue of Liberty.

Click here to listen.

North Woods


And finally … what goes up must come down. That includes the number of COVID cases, for sure. Wear your mask!

Westport Marketplace: The Town At Your Fingertips

What’s open? What’s closed? What’s different? What’s going on?

Everyone wants to know. Now we can.

A herculean collaboration between Our Town Crier, the Westport Downtown Merchants Association, Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Town of Westport has resulted in a comprehensive, almost-beyond-comprehension website covering every conceivable business, service and organization here.

Welcome to the Westport Marketplace.

Screenshot from Westport Marketplace

The “Virtual Yellow Pages” directory is filled with links and up-to-date information for just about every business and service in Westport. There’s contact information, operating hours,, safety precautions and more.

Users can search by name, relevance, distance, even popularity.

Major categories unfold with dozens of sub-categories.

Besides retail, restaurants, automotives, realty, markets and pharmacies, there are sections on home services (landscaping, builders, interior design, organizers …), medical (acupuncture, specialists, therapists …), banks (accounting, financial advisors, tax help …), personal services (hair, dry cleaners, physical therapy, tanning …), children’s services (sports and music lessons …) and more.

The project could not have happened without 72 interns, says Our Town Crier founder Betsy Pollak.

“The first group drove around town, literally going to each doorstep. They hand-surveyed the entire town. The next group got it onto the website, and took care of social media.”

The Chamber helped keep the restaurant list accurate. The WDMA did the same with retail. Selectwomen Jennifer Tooker and Melissa Kane funneled new information to Pollak and her crew. Local artist/super-volunteer Miggs Burroughs created the Westport Marketplace logo.

“We have incredible young people in Westport. I feel like I should be working for them,” she says.

This is the site we’ve all been waiting for. And need.

Click here to access (and bookmark) the Westport Marketplace. Then go to town!

(Questions? Email info@thewestportmarketplace.com. To update or add a business, or offer feedback, click here.)

Obi Ndefo And Jamie Mann’s Joyful Virtual Cabaret

Obi Ndefo is an actor and screenwriter. He’s been in “Dawson’s Creek,” “Star Trek” and “The West Wing.” A Nigerian-American Jew, he founded Arts Alliance for Humanity, bringing artists together from around the world to unite and uplift the planet.

Last summer, while loading groceries into his trunk in Los Angeles, he was hit by a drunk driver. He lost both legs, but remained tremendously positive and determined. Nine weeks later he was back teaching yoga to special needs youngsters, and taking on new acting, writing and directing roles.

Obi believes things happen “for him,” not “to him.”

Jamie Mann is a rising senior at Staples High School. A very talented dancer, actor and singer, his credits include “Billy Elliot” (national tour), “Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake” with New York City Ballet, Alvin Ailey at the Apollo Theater, “Because of Winn Dixie” (Goodspeed Opera House), and numerous Staples Players shows.

A few months ago, Jamie was in Hollywood filming Netflix’s new musical show “Country Comfort.” Suddenly COVID-19 struck, and production stopped.

Obi Ndefo

Obi and Jamie’s dad were friends from their Yale University days. Jamie had heard stories about what a great actor and singer he was.

While running in his Silver Lake neighborhood, Jamie saw Obi doing 1-hand pushups in his driveway. Suddenly, his father’s stories about Obi and his inspiring personality came to life.

When he learned that Obi had a GoFundMe page for new prosthetic legs, and to cover medical costs, Jamie decided to help.

He contacted “Country Comfort” cast mates (and Joey McIntyre from New Kids on the Block, father of one of them). He asked for videos of their performances.

Then he reached out to other actors and performers across the country. Among the many who helped, Josie Todd submitted a touching song and message to Obi; her brother has special needs.

Analise Scarpaci — who Jamie idolized, and is in “Mrs. Doubtfire” on Broadway — sang a very moving “Somewhere.”

Obi’s friend Gina Belafonte — Harry’s daughter — provided a tremendous tune. Chazz Palminteri got involved too.

Jamie also got great content from Obi’s a cappella friends from Yale.

Jamie Mann (Photo/Tomira Wilcox)

Jamie’s mom, Jill Johnson Mann, began turning it all into a livestream. She asked a friend for help.

He’s a huge “Stargate” fan — Obi was a series regular — and when he heard about the accident, he was honored to lend a hand.

The result is a fantastic “virtual cabaret.” It airs tomorrow (Tuesday, June 30, 7:30 p.m.) on Jamie’s YouTube channel (click here) and Jill’s Facebook page (click here).

“This is about more than one man, known for his kindness, undying optimism and activism,” Jamie says.

“It’s about the positive attitude and resilience we all need to overcome the challenges of the uncertain era we’re in. From Obi’s wisdom and a peek into his new TV project, to songs from Broadway stars and exciting newcomers — my friends, cast mates, Obi’s friends and others — this will be a great cabaret.”

Viewers will be able to donate to Obi’s GoFundMe page (you can do so right now too; click here.)

“Let’s change his life, so he can keep inspiring all of us,” Jamie says.

Beach Access Back In The News

Westport has made the New York Times again.

This time, it’s in an opinion column by Andrew W. Kahrl. He’s a professor of history and African-American studies at the University of Virginia, and the author of “Free the Beaches: The Story of Ned Coll and the Battle for America’s Most Exclusive Shoreline.

But his reference to our town is not from the 1960s and ’70s, when Greenwich and other suburban towns famously excluded non-residents from their shores.

Writing yesterday in a piece titled “Who Will Get to Swim This Summer?” — with the subhead “History is repeating itself as pools, beaches and clubs open — but mostly for the privileged few” — he says:

In the summer of 1929, residents of the town of Westport along Connecticut’s Gold Coast reported a “new menace” threatening the health and safety of their community: New Yorkers fleeing the squalid, scorching city and flocking to a new state beach located on neighboring Sherwood Island. Because it was state-owned land, all the residents could do, one reporter noted, was “to make access as difficult as possible.” Which they did.

Westport officials hired a contractor to dredge a creek and flood the road connecting the state beach to the mainland. The move, one state official said, “will effectively prevent visitors from reaching the state property.” Westport officials insisted that they were simply seeking to eliminate a mosquito breeding ground — but as another state official remarked, “the real object is to keep the people off state property.”

Shewood Island State Park: 232 acres of prime real estate, right here in Westport.

The people in question were the “unwashed masses” from neighboring cities: the blacks, Jews, Italians and others denied membership to country clubs, who had few options for summertime relief. As America slipped deeper into the Great Depression, the nation’s swelling homeless population was added to the list. A state park, one resident decried, “would be an invitation to the scum.” Sherwood Island, another bemoaned, “looks like a gypsy camp and new tents are being erected every day.”

While Westport’s residents privately fumed over the park’s impact on the area’s property values, in public hearings they claimed to be concerned solely about the park’s purportedly unsanitary conditions. It was no coincidence that during these same years, several towns along Connecticut’s Gold Coast first adopted ordinances restricting access to town beaches and other places of outdoor recreation to residents only.

Westport has followed the lead of many municipalities in the tri-state area in banning out-of-towners — wherever they live — from parking at local beaches.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

Kahrl concludes:

Public health experts agree that so long as people take precautions, outdoor activities are not only safe but also necessary for coping with the stress of the pandemic. But the exclusionary tactics of privileged communities and cost-cutting measures of underresourced ones this summer will force many Americans to suffer inside or seek out unsupervised, potentially dangerous bodies of water to cool off. And it’s not hard to imagine that pools and beaches with restricted access could become flash points of conflict with law enforcement officials, endangering black and brown youth.

It’s simple, really. Our ability to find relief from the heat, and to enjoy time outdoors this summer, should not be determined by where we live and the social and economic advantages we enjoy.

(To read the full New York Times column, click here.)

Roundup: Beach, Pool, Golf And Tennis News; #ILoveWestport; Lucky Grad; Fireworks; More


Here’s the latest update from Westport Parks & Rec:

Starting Wednesday, July 1, lifeguards will staff Compo and Burying Hill beaches from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. All regular beach rules will be enforced, in addition to all COVID-19 rules. Boogie boards and skim boards are permitted.

The Longshore pools will remain closed, due to state restrictions and limited staffing resources.

Parks and Rec director Jennifer Fava says her department “will continue to monitor the guidance from the state, Should restrictions ease, and we can staff appropriately, we will reevaluate the possibility of opening the pool complex.”

Starting tomorrow (Saturday, June 27), 2 players may share a golf cart. Both must wear face coverings in the cart, and the same person must drive the cart the entire time. Exception: members of the same household are not required to wear face covering in a cart, and valid drivers may alternate.

Also starting tomorrow, all tennis courts at Longshore, Staples High School, Town Farm and Doubleday (behind Saugatuck School) are open for both singles and doubles play. All platform tennis and pickleball courts are open for singles and doubles too.


During the lockdown, town officials emphasized: “We’re all in this together.”

That’s the message during reopening too. To drive it home, they asked a variety of people to make personal promises for keeping everyone healthy.

Anthony John Rinaldi taped those promises. He’s making them into a series of videos, all tagged #ILoveWestport.

In the first one, restaurant owner Bill Taibe promises to keep cooking. Farmers’ Market director Lori McDougall promises to support local vendors. Police Chief Foti Koskinas promises to keep Westporters safe.

There are more too, in this quick video — including a special “06880” appearance. Click below to see.


Like many Westporters, Serkan Elden kept his “Proud Family of 2020 Staples High School Graduate” sign up, even after the ceremony 2 weeks ago. He is justifiably proud of his daughter Deniz, a great member of the senior class that went through so much this year.

Someone else is proud too.

The other day Deniz found an envelope in the Eldens’ mailbox. It was addressed simply: “The Graduate.”

Inside she found a note: “Congratulations 2020! Hope this is a Winner! Good Luck. From, Anonymous Lyons Plain Rd. Neighbor.”

Attached was a Double Match lottery scratch card.

She did not win. 😦 But odds are good that this is a gift Deniz will remember long after the coronavirus is history.


If you missed last weekend’s “Stand Up (At Home) for Homes with Hope” comedy show — no problem.

An encore presentation is set for Wednesday (July 1, 8 p.m.). Four very funny comedians joined Staples grad/noted songwriter Justin Paul for a wonderful hour of entertainment.

Click here to register. And if you saw the show the first time around, you’ll receive an automatic link to watch again.


 

There are no 4th of July fireworks at Compo Beach this year.

And, the Westport Fire Department warns, there should be none anywhere in town.

The note that all fireworks are illegal in Connecticut, expect sparklers and fountains.

Also illegal: items like party poppers, snakes, smoke devices, sky lanterns and anything that emits a flame. Possessing or exploding illegal devices could result in a fine or jail.

Note too: Extremely dry conditions make it easy for fireworks, sparklers and fountains to cause brush fires.


And finally … as other states find themselves in the same situation Connecticut was in 2 months ago, we here are thinking of our friends around the nation.

When Lupus Strikes, Caregivers Wear Plaid

Sean Lowther and Patty White Dunn met in 4th grade at Coleytown Elementary School. They were “first loves” all through Miss Comer’s ballroom dance class.

Sean Lowther and Patty White Dunn, at Coleytown Elementary School in the 1950s.

Sean moved to Weston. But they fell back in love at Staples High School’s Class of 1962. They broke up for reasons neither remembers now, and did not see each other for 40 years.

After their respective divorces Patty contacted Sean through Classmates.com. She moved from Mobile to be with him in Charlotte. They’ve been married now for 18 years.

But that’s not what this story is about.

At 28, Patty was diagnosed with lupus. The autoimmune disease affects 1.5 million Americans — 90% of them women. With symptoms including fatigue, fever, joint pain, rashes, skin lesions, shortness of breath, chest pain, dry eyes, headaches, confusion and memory loss, it’s a chronic, debilitating — and life-altering — event.

In North Carolina, Patty — who had been a guardian ad litem, and worked with women whose husbands fought in Desert Storm — became board chair of the state Lupus Foundation of America chapter. Sean — who ran several businesses, and now owns a company that videotapes legal depositions — joined too. He also became chair.

Four years ago, he began writing a book about male caregivers.

It’s a role, he says, that most men are not trained to handle. But it’s crucial. Up to 75% of couples divorce after a lupus diagnosis — in part because men do not understand how to live with their spouse’s limitations.

More than 300 pages long, Caregivers Wear Plaid covers the long road to diagnosis (symptoms can mimic multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis, and many doctors receive only cursory training about it, Sean says); medications; depression; sex and pregnancy; support groups, and more.

Sean and Patty today.

It’s wide-ranging, honest, and filled with information. For example, Sean writes about feeling guilty that he can play golf, and Patty can’t.

And though a woman is usually the one who suffers physically, lupus affects her husband too. Because of fatigue, their social life may become limited. When she does feel good and venture out, others may wonder what the big deal is. “You find out who your friends really are,” Sean says.

Caregivers Wear Plaid is available as an e-book — and it’s free. Sean and Patty want as many people to read it as possible.

So what’s next? For nearly 2 decades, Sean has produced videos about managing autoimmune diseases. It’s considered the largest video library in the world about lupus, but it’s “hidden” on the state foundation website. He’s in the process of remastering it, for distribution at the national level.

(To download Caregivers Wear Plaid, and for more information on Patty and Sean, click here.)