Okay, this blog has nothing to do with jewelry. Not even an iota. So if you're checking out this post thinking I have some revelation about jewelry, move on. Mainly, this post is to show you, dear reader, why I should not be allowed past Yarmouth. Because after that, everything in Maine is just out of reach. But I digress.
It all started with me going "up to camp", located in the very rural area of Bowerbank, Maine. Mostly known for a lot of American flags and access to Sebec Lake. As I was only going for the weekend, I spontaneously invited my daughter, Michaela, to come with me. She accepted in a heartbeat. If only she knew......
It starts to get complicated. This past Saturday was Michaela's dad's birthday. He passed away a few years ago, and she asked if we could make a side trip to visit his grave in Lincoln. Maine, of course. Sure, no problem. So if you're looking at a clock, picture camp being where 10 o'clock would be, about 3 hours away, and the cemetery at 12:00 o'clock, also about three hours away. We leave from Portland, make the trip to Lincoln without a hitch. Visit for a bit, reminisce, do a little emotional eating consisting of McDonald's fries and chocolate shakes, and then get ready to move on. So now we're trying to get from 12:00 to 10:00 with no idea how to get there, and hopefully not having to backtrack too terribly far. I Google Maps the location of the camp. BIG MISTAKE.
Google Maps lulls you into a false sense of security. I mean, they have satellite, right? And they're a humongous company, they have all this high tech stuff to make sure you get where you're supposed to be, right? WRONG. You've heard that story about how you can put a frog in a pan of warm water, and just by heating it slowly, it never realizes it's being cooked and doesn't jump out? As this story progresses, imagine me as the frog, and the water is heating up.
We go south a bit then west, makes sense. We're talking about her dad, Nana, his family, etc. Trip is nice, weather is beautiful. Google is directing us this way and that, not a worry in a world. Then she (Google) tells us to take a right on some road. We go right past, not even seeing it. She tells us to make a U turn. Okay, head onto this random road. It's dirt, not pavement. Okay, not a big deal. There's a pickup truck coming towards us. Okay, so there's traffic. Good. On we go.
So, it's pretty much a two lane dirt road, pretty dry. We're going along and we take a sharp turn past this little camp and start heading up some hillier areas. See that there's a lot of bare areas. Ok, I'm thinking. We're on a logging road. Again, not terribly concerning. I mean, there are logging roads up north that are used as regular roads. And if you've seen logging equipment, there are those tractor trailers that have to get in there to load the trees, and skidders, and trucks to haul in the skidders. Hey, this girl lived in Lincoln for 10 years, she knows a logging road when she sees one. If those big vehicles are coming in and out, then I can too, right? Google wouldn't steer me wrong, would she? YES, SHE WOULD!
After we go by these harvested areas, we're on a more narrower road. And it seems like everything is a dog leg. Go 1/2 mile, take a hard left. Go 1.4 miles, take a hard right. We're going over handmade wooden bridges. Still, I'm not terribly alarmed, I mean we have one of those bridges heading into camp. But the grass is getting thicker on the center part of the road. And the bushes are getting closer. A lot closer. They're scratching the sides of the car.
Still, trying not to freak out. We're going about 10 miles an hour now, sometimes there's deep ruts filled with water that we have to go through. Sometimes I have to avoid big gullies. And big rocks. At one point, I stopped and asked Michaela to move a rock because I wasn't sure the bottom of the car was going to clear it. And then we see the sign.
BRIDGE NOT SAFE FOR TRUCK
Shoot. I'm thinking. (If you know me, you know that "shoot" is not really part of my vocabulary, but I'm trying to keep it G rated), but there's no bridge in sight. Which is good, because there is absolutely NO PLACE TO TURN AROUND. Onward. Sometimes, we'd be going down a hill and it stopped being a road, and turned into granite ledge. No lie, I am internally FREAKING OUT. Maybe a little externally too. Then we see the bridge.
It's a wooden platform . It's at the top of a slight incline. No sides, but it has timbers on either side, about 6 inches high. I'm looking at the bridge, trying to calculate if my car is narrow enough to get over it. Or will my tires go over the side. And it's about 6 feet down to the gully. I look at Michaela. "Ready?" She nods, and I GUN IT, figuring if it's going to collapse I want to be on the other side. Success. We stop and take a minute to take a few deep breaths.
Still we are traveling these crazy roads. And Google is saying "take a left on Back Neighborhood Road" "Take a right on Dow Road" Then it becomes quite evident. WE ARE NOT ON ROADS!!! WE ARE ON ATV TRAILS!!! Google decided to take us up and over a mountain as opposed to directing us on paved roads.
When we finally pop out of this trail, I asked Michaela to take a picture. You can't even see the trail. There are signs with arrows, and signs showing pictures of trail riders pointing to the direction we just came from. No person in their right mind would go in there with a vehicle.
Which leads me to talk about my car. It's a Mercedes GLK 350. 2011. Bought it at an auction.They actually stopped making them. Picture a little wagon type. But it has all wheel drive and I have to say, if I were driving a Mini Cooper, or a Buick, or a Camry, or many many other types of cars, my car would have had to have been towed out. This car, had my back. Especially when Google Maps didn't. My poor little city car, (and this city girl) may never be quite the same.
So a big THANK YOU to Mercedes Benz for making a car that can take you places you shouldn't even think about going. AND a big raspberry to GOOGLE MAPS. THANKS FOR NOTHING.
#MercedesMudding #LoveMyMercedes #MercedesSavedMyLife #GoogleMapsSUCKS #YouCan'tGetThereFromHere #AnATVTrailIsNotARoad #WhatWereYouThinkingGoogleMaps #OnlyInAMercedes
So, for many of you that know me and my business, I disappear shortly after Christmas, and reappear in the Spring. No, I'm not hibernating! The month of January is to recuperate from the busy winter show season. I don't spend a lot of time in the studio, but I have my design journal always handy. I draw and mull and design. February, I turn to the studio, and start to create. Some designs are Meh - while others are Oh My God! This is the start of creating my wholesale line that I take to New England Made, the wholesale show that's practically in my backyard.
Without a doubt, this show was one of my best ever, and I'd like to give a personal THANK YOU! to all those shops that have elected to carry me in their store for the very first time. If you find yourself in their neck of the woods, stop in and say hi. These nice people are committed to carrying hand crafted, artisan-made products, and I couldn't be more thankful.
Something Purple - Amesbury, MA
Freeport Durham KOA - Durham, ME
As an artisan with a full time day job, every minute of my day is scheduled. Wake up, get up, seize the day. Work, work some more, walk the dog, yoga, computer, bed. Repeat.
Except...for the last two days. Wind and rain storm blew through Portland two days ago leaving many without power. I'm one of the fortunate households, I have power. It's my studio, though. Cold. Dark. Powerless. Leaving me powerless.
Being without power has forced me to stop and assess the rest of the season. If it's the first week of the month, it must be Bangor, Maine. Next week....I have no idea, better check my calendar. All I know is that I have a show every weekend for the next 6 weeks. On top of a regular job. Note to self...get some vitamin C. And I'm feeling stressed. How to make more inventory if I can't turn on the lights? What if I don't have the perfect items for my customers? What if? What if?
Nothing I can do...this is Mother Nature forcing me to rest up, Sometimes it takes something major to make us take care of ourselves. Let's all remember to do just that....rest, relax, be present. Stop worrying about the future, and let's just enjoy the moments. No matter how small.
I know you're all familiar with the tourist-y part of Portland: DiMillo's - the floating restaurant, cruise ships, whale watches, and lobster rolls. I'm here to take you on my neighborhood walk, and show you a side of Portland you may not know.
Meet Kylie, she came along for the walk.
See the political sign with the five languages at the top? Nice effort, but did you know there are over 40 languages spoken in the Portland public school system? Crazy, right. This guy's going to need a bigger sign!
Our sidewalks are brick. New brick, old brick, flat brick and bumpy brick. All of it treacherous in the winter.
We are diverse! Portland, Maine ranks third in the United States - so wear those rainbows proudly!
If you've driven in Portland, you know parking can be a challenge. And our meter maids don't cut anyone any slack. So, put your quarters in and set your timer.
We love art - from the Portland Museum of Art to the Danforth Inn (shown), art is as vital to our souls as lobster!
Unfortunately, our vandals are very creative. Two fences that could skewer you like a shish kabob and still they manage to deface a beautiful building. Sad.
Shameless promotion of mARTini Jewels, but I feel the message is appropriate. Explore!
No matter how small the square footage, we love our outdoor gardens! You can always find a little treasure around every corner.
Portland's interpretation of a car horn. Ha!
We have a homeless and heroin problem. No city is immune, and I wish we had the answers. Recently, our public trash cans have had sharps containers added on the back for needle disposal. Our neighbors two doors down had a break in while they were home. Scary stuff.
Portland has a lot of waterfront open to the public - this is East End Beach, (dog friendly!) and it's adjacent to the park. Beautiful at any time of year! And yes, I've been there in the dead of winter. Dogs don't concern themselves with temperature.
So that's my city! Good and bad, I love living in Portland. If you find yourself in my vicinity, give me a shout and come visit my studio!
My studio is located at Open Concepts Studio in Portland, Maine. It's such a cool little spot, I share space with painters, glass blowers, fabric artists, neon artists....the energy is palpable. We all have our own individual spaces, but the walls are only half height, so you can see who's coming and going. Most of the time in my space, it's me, or perhaps one of my assistants and me, and of course the latest Netflix binge watching episodes; I don't usually have many visitors. Sometimes a client, but not terribly often.
So I thought you might like to see a snippet into what a jewelry studio looks like. I only took a few pictures, and believe me, a lot of cleaning went into getting the studio ready for just these few pictures! It's unbelievable how things get so messy in such a short time.
Anyway, the first picture is my workbench. My husband built the bench for me, and then, later on a second one. This is where I spend most of my time. You can see my assortment of pliers and cutters, hammers and mallets, notebooks where I keep my jewelry "recipes" and in the front, a piece of silver that has had discs cut out the the steel block next to it. To the left of the pliers is my disc cutter. I sandwich the silver in the disc cutter, put in the corresponding steel punch and give it a whack with the brass hammer. Great for taking out frustrations!
The picture below is another view from my bench. In the back, in all of those boxes are different fonts that I use to stamp charms, bracelets, and navigational coordinates. In front is a dapper - I put the disc in a concave spot in the block, choose a corresponding dapper, and can make the disc concave or convex. In the front are pieces of silver that I'll either use to make jewelry, or melt down, depending on the size of the silver.
The last picture is where I keep my "little pieces" - jump rings, head pins, silver beads, split rings, etcetera, anything that I need to make pieces. I bought these great glass spice jars and use them to keep everything small. It's great to put my hands on the things that I want right away.
I hope you enjoyed the little "tour", if you're planning a visit to Portland, feel free to call me and stop in!
I welcome your questions or comments!
It's almost craft show season, the time when we artisans pack our vehicles, haul our displays, wares, and assorted paraphernalia to the local gym, parking lot, field, etc. in the hopes of selling enough goods to make enough money to buy more supplies to make more goods to sell so we can buy more supplies. Crafters, artists, artisans, whatever you want to call us, we're the hardest working people I know. Work all week so we can work all weekend. One of the things that make it all worthwhile (besides great customers and high sales!) are our neighbors, those people next to us - in the next tent, in the booth across the aisle, in the neighboring area, who look out for each other. They offer to bring you something to drink, you watch their booth while they run to the rest room, they whip out their spare change when you've forgotten yours. After five plus years, these people become your family. You look forward to seeing them, they're your consistency. Meet my family:
On The Table Coasters:
Vera and Ashley Wainwright are the funniest mother/daughter team I've ever met. They make these fabulous coasters from Ashley's original photos, and also from maps. Have a special location? You can have coasters or trivets made that reflect that original area. I had a set made for my husband for his camp, and he loved them! And you know how hard it is to find something special for guys!
Talk about a firecracker~ here's a woman with four (!) beautiful daughters and a husband who still manages to travel the craftshow circuit showcasing her amazing talent. Tracy is a watercolor artist whose art features children and animals, with a unique perspective. You'll love her work.
This is Colleen Macklin, owner, designer, creator of Seamack Design. You may think one jeweler introducing the world to another jeweler is counter intuitive, but I believe there's room for us all to be successful. Colleen is deep into the healing powers of stones, she creates chakra mobiles and jewelry. I just think it's pretty. www.seamackdesign.com.
I hope you've enjoyed meeting some really talented and genuinely nice ladies - please visit their websites and support local arts and craft!
I don't know about you, but as a woman, I'm in a constant battle over food. Is it healthy?
Should I eat this? Why don't I have any self control? Even when I cave, and eat something I probably shouldn't, I'm mentally chastising myself while I'm eating it. Seriously!
So the other day, I had an epiphany, in the Irving Gas Station, of all places. If you're from New England, you might know about Irving. Well, the Irving near my home in Portland, Maine, has just about anything you could want, from breakfast pizza to flip flops. Well, not that you need flip flops now. Anyway, the people behind the counter are so nice! Always pleasant, (despite having gotten up at 3:15 a.m.), a kind word for everyone.
Well on this particular day, I'm in a hurry. I have to get to the studio, I have a siege of special orders, and I get a diet soda. Diet soda, the stuff with all the chemicals. I really shouldn't have this. Benzyne, right? Something like that? I should probably get water. Water, right. So much better for me. No calories. No flavor, either, but no calories, no caffeine. SO much better.
This is an example of the internal conversation over the daily diet coke I have. So then, being in a hurry, I grab one of their homemade muffins. Not the one that has the dollop of cream cheese on top, just a plain muffin. If you just read about my guilt trip over diet Coke, well then you can imagine the internal dialog regarding the muffin. Oil probably. and all that sugar. You really don't need this. Get something better. Better yet, go home and make something. You need to eat healthier...etc., etc., etc.
I finally get to the register and the nice lady rings me up. The lady I see just about every day, and as I leave, she says, "Enjoy your muffin, honey!" and that's when I had my AH-HA!! moment.
Enjoy your muffin. How simple. Life is one decision at a time. Make the best decisions you can, but when you decide to indulge a little, well then, enjoy it. Give yourself permission to enjoy your muffin. Guilt. SO overrated.
For those of you who don’t know, I live in Portland, Maine, the largest city in Maine, but by most standards, a small city. I love living here. The accessibility to culture, nature, restaurants and retail is amazing. I like looking out my back door at the tug boats and cargo ships, walking down Commercial Street and seeing the latest retail changes, taking my dog to East End Beach for her morning play dates with her canine buddies. Portland has so much to offer.
Last night, though, something changed. Something relatively minimal in scope, but which absolutely confirmed my belief that we, as a country, can do better.
You see, I like to walk my dog at night, after dinner. It’s a time for me to relax a bit, and Kylie loves being out, nose to the ground. She gets to sniff the latest smells, startle the nighttime critters that inhabit the city (think opossums and skunks, not rats!) and I get to surreptitiously peek in lighted windows as we walk by townhouses. I hate to admit it, but I love to see how people decorate. I digress. Here’s the disturbing part.
Tomorrow is trash day. In Portland, we have special bags for trash, and then bins for our recyclable cans, paper, bottles, etc. Now, many people bring their redeemable cans and bottles back to the supermarket to get their $.06 back, but some people can’t be bothered and they just throw them in with the other recyclables. At night, people start bringing their bags and bins to the curb, in anticipation of the early morning pickup.
As I’m walking the dog, I see a small, beat up compact car, crawling along the street. A woman is driving, and whenever there are bins by the curb, a man in the passenger side jumps out, combs through the recyclables and picks out the redeemable cans and bottles. The trunk is open, and there’s a bag in the trunk that he throws them in. He hops back in the car, they go to the next set of bins, and it starts all over again.
Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly like handling my own returnables, never mind someone else’s. Sometimes there’s schmutz in the bottom, the bottles are all sticky, it’s smelly! The bags end up leaking and then your car ends up smelling too. Not pleasant at all, yet here is a middle aged couple, not kids, driving around to pore through someone else’s trash for $.06 a bottle.
How is it in the United States of America, the greatest county in the world, and in particular, my little city of Portland, Maine, there are people so needy, they are forced to pick through trash for pennies?
How is it in the United States of America, the federal minimum wage translates to about $15,000 for an adult, yet the cost to live in Portland for a family of two adults and a child is calculated at over $63,000? (fact from Economic Policy Institute)
How is it the federal minimum wage is $7.25, yet if it had kept up with inflation over the last 40 years, it would be almost $11.00?
How is it that the six Walton family members who own Wal-Mart have a combined wealth equal to the bottom 42% of the rest of the families in the United States? While it may be legal to pay workers the absolute minimum wage and keep their hours low so they don’t qualify for health insurance or other benefits, is it moral? When is enough wealth enough?
I don’t have the answers. I just have a lot of questions.