Personal Moment: Can We All Shut Up a Sec?

Click here to download me saying this instead of having to read it yourself.  Working the kinks out so that maybe soon you can just click a button!

~~~

It’s early Summer, officially or not, and the sounds of the city have already begun.

Someone is taking their sweet time pawing through the cans and bottles across the street.  Trash and recycling night, although we save ours and throw the winnings in the laundry money jar.

Downstairs there’s a party that I’ve repeatedly been invited to.  No, thank you, despite the fact our new neighbors are lovely and normally quiet I’m not in the mood to meet new people.   You have to be in the mood to meet new people sometimes.  Their voices funnel up through the alleyway and bounce against the attic walls through the open window.  They’re greeting each other with niceties like “How the hell are you!” and “Is this your new place?!”

No, it’s my place.  I’ve lived here on the corner for nearly two years which is also about twice as long as I’ve lived anywhere with the exception of my now-sold childhood home.  I wish all four floors of this house were ours and that somehow we could magically conjure a 1/4 acre of green space to plant a garden, and a table with two chairs, and a little umbrella.  Those missing things would make this place perfect.  Sena called our house ‘the ketchup and mustard’ house to make sure she had the right place once.  I just love that.

Cans and bottles.  Party guests.  The slowing and idling of cars moving through the intersection outside.  The cop cars and paddy wagons have a more serious grumble to them and although J. doesn’t believe me I swear I can tell the difference between them and regular cars just by the sound of the engines.  Life is all about the smallest details.

I ran my gas gauge down to the very bottom on the way home from Yarmouth tonight.  I hope that I can start her in the morning.  I also need to buy cat food.  This is about as bad as it gets these days, so I feel pretty okay about that.  The cats are just pretending to be hungry, they’ve been snacking on the undone dishes all day.

Kiley says “Hi!” whenever she hears the apartment door open.  She wouldn’t stop saying “Bye” when I left this evening, full of pizza and soda, making me think she and Ya-Ya were trying to get rid of me.  She also yells “Go! go! go!” when she slips down my legs like they were a slide on the playground.  The slide is her favorite thing on the playground.

You can hear an owl halfway up the block about an hour before sunset lately.  It’s weird, because we are also three minutes from I-295 and Marginal Way.  She doesn’t hoot like a regular owl, but kind of moans about something that makes you think she didn’t mean to end up in East Bayside.  Also, the crows are getting worse on the rooftops, now, which is to say that the crows are getting better.  They will do a better job of waking me up in the morning than my alarm clock, and Yuna makes this funny chirping noise whenever he sees birds out the window.  I like the crows.

Why is someone playing frisbee in the street?  Frisbees are the worst things ever to be made out of plastic.

I’ve been thinking about a story I’d like to write where a retired neighbor moves to a more affordable apartment in the city.  He’s got a little toolshed in his yard and he fills it with his lawn mower and garden tools and volunteers to help the single mothers, ESL families and graveyard shift fathers fix up their yards.  The neighbors can’t pay him but he won’t hear of it anyways and just says that all he wants is to join them once a month for dinner.  The story would be about all the different meals and all the different families and the neighborhood becoming really beautiful inside and out.

I worry that the noises outside are keeping up the neighbors’ children.  They have about five of them, and they range in age from about 3 or 4 to at least 10.  Keeping kids up past 11pm on a school/work night is ludicrous.

Sometimes you can see stars over Portland but tonight is not one of those nights.  The sky is murky and dark brown to black, with little lights in windows everywhere.  The trees on Munjoy Hill are darker and you can sense from the air that the ocean is waiting on the other side.  I can’t wait ’til the summer and the saltwater are warm enough for night swims, even if I’ve only done that once or twice in the past, it really is the best.

The cars begin to slow and the owl has stopped completely.  Laughter and party sounds continue to swell.  There’s no escape from the noises of the peninsula in summer.

~~~

A Week in Favorites: I’m a Drug Addled Hippie

Etsy has the charming feature of making something ‘a favorite.’  Which isn’t always favorite so much as it is ‘neat’ or ‘memorable’ or ‘something someone I know would like.’  But it does have the benefit of being basically a photographic memory version of window shopping, so no one’s complaining here (unlike usual!)

I’ve picked some of my favorite ‘favorites’ this week and the prognosis isn’t good:  somehow I’m reverting back to 16-year-old patchy-pants, long-hair, patchouli-princess Audrey.  Oh well, what the hell — here goes nothing:  (click on the images to view the shops/listings)

Vintage Poppy Embroidered Throw Pillow from kaftansarafan

Ooh-la-la.  The haze of an opium daze never looked so stylish!  I’m mostly in love with this because of the color combination, but there’s a counter culture wannabe in me that just can’t resist poppies in any form.

Hippie Chic Long Sleeve Vintage Dress from OhSweetJosephine

Here’s a number.  A large number.  Of flowers.  Although I’m not normally an elastic neckline kinda girl I’ll totally take it with this listing.

Vintage Rhinestone Butterfly Brooch from OhSweetJosephine

OhSweetJosephine is 2 for 2!  If you didn’t take mushrooms before you hallucinated this rhinestone brooch it’s high time for a schizophrenia screening.  Speaking of mushrooms…

Zen Girl by elsita

 This here’s my favorite favorite from this week.  Look at how happy she is!  It’s probably because her hairdo is so cute.

Serious Dress Habit

The Ultimate Stockpilers: SWAP Maine.

Ok, ok.  I go through these cycles where I stockpile then liquidate.  Until very recently I was in stockpile mode… here are some details about the ebb and flow of stockpile and liquidate.  Does it sound familiar to you?  Creative people are crazy.

Stockpile.

I go in to stockpile mode when I’m well in funds, successful in business (2 Etsy sales?  Time for a Goodwill shopping spree!!) or when the opportunities arise (SWAPMaine, anyone?)  It usually starts with a theme in mind (“Ooh, I really need to stock up on kitchen utensils”) and inevitably ends up with a series of purchases of shoes and dresses, mostly not in my size, that I think are ‘awesome’ and ‘can totally be resold on Etsy or Ebay.’  As a result I end up with one or two gorgeous dresses and pairs of shoes for me (Yay!) and a pile of shoes in a box collecting dust or a section of dresses on hangers in my closet making it tricky to get to the more functional, less profitable clothes.  Hrm.  Enter:  liquidation mode.

Liquidate.

Once I’ve stockpiled enough things that don’t make any sense for me to keep in my apartment I seek outlets that are fitting for the items’ trajectory.  Items that I got for free or nearly free that are longer calling my fancy are either re-donated to Goodwill or a clothing swap.  Jeans, shorts and other hardy fabrics are collecting in a bag for Malaika at Hand Me Down Designs.  T-shirts and knit tops that are not for resale are collected for Laura from Sweeter Salt and her t-shirt necklaces.  Items I purchased with the intent of wearing but er… didn’t really fit *cough* toomuchpadthai *cough cough*… are slated for Ebay or Etsy.  Items that I bought specifically because they were awesome and ‘might sell online’ join them.  Great!  Now I gotta photograph these things.  Wait two months and then… ta-da!  It finally happens.

Ta-da!

So, I’ve been listing vintage dresses in my Etsy shop and newer, Banana Republic Goodwill finds on Ebay and would love to share them with you all.  It should also be said that I don’t jive with the trend on Etsy in charging exorbitant prices for vintage – ok, people, we do deserve $$ for finding and curating a line of vintage clothing — but if you got it for $2.50 because you had the right color barb on the Goodwill racks you should pass the savings on to your customers a little!  My Etsy dresses are in the $20 range and the Ebay items start at $0.99.  Start ogling!

Navy and Orange Silk Links Wrap Dress - by Banana Republic

Skinny Girls Navy and Burgundy Striped Banana Republic Dress

Handsewn Sailor Dress (also for skinny girls!) ca. 1980s. Fresh!

Daisy Buchanan 1920s Style Dress from the 80s.

The Mint Julep Swing Maxi Dress... Barely Vintage! But still fabulous.

Les Antiquités Nouveaus

Gross, I think my cat just farted.  She’ll be forgiven because of her cuteness, but I’ll wait a bit given her waiting until she was six inches away from me to do it, then leaving right after the deed.  Devious!

Back on track…

There’s been a movement in popular culture towards marketing the vintage aesthetic.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining!  Painted illustrations on seed packets of yore, adorable patterns of polka dots and gingham, it’s all good.  I’m happy to be at the South Portland Hannaford on my lunch break and catch a glimpse of this vision from the West Coast:

Don't they just LOOK like they'd taste better? I've never had canned grapes before, but maybe now I will.

Jeez – these look awesome!  The thought of canned grapes would give me the heebeejeebies if they were packaged any other way.  Kudos to bringin’ back old school in style.

On gripe I do have, though, is the ‘my iPhone makes things look like they do in my family’s photo album from the 70’s’ aesthetic.  And I have good friends who use the apps and I’m not knocking that they’re nifty and a cool trick but when someone’s entire Facebook wall ends up looking the space behind the register at the Thrift Shop that’s been open since the 50’s I’m gonna be all like “Hey, 2011 called, it’s wondering when you’re going to get here.”

Dear iPhone old-photograph-app user:  You’re not fooling anyone.  I know you didn’t magically get your hands on old Diana or Rollei, take a bunch of pictures of your sailboating trip, develop the film, scan the negs and post them to your Facebook wall.  And even if you did, Kodachrome was way better color balanced than this.  Your overly red or overly yellow photograph has not changed color because it’s been sitting in a well-loved photo album for years.  I don’t care what you do, and it really doesn’t bother me that you think your telephone is a camera, but just don’t pretend like your world is more romantic now that it’s all grainy and oversaturated.  Love, Bee-in-her-Bonnet Audrey.

Phew!  I’ve been meaning to get that off my chest.  At the end of the day, I don’t really care — but what’s the point of using new technology if what we’re trying to recreate is that of 50 years ago?  Y’all know that I love film, and my camera was manufactured somewhere between 1960 and 1980 and it chugs through expensive film like it’s its job.  I LOVE shooting with it.  But I’ve also recently been introduced to the world of the DSLR and am growing fond of all the things it can do for me.

by Julia Margaret Cameron

Here.  When photography was beginning to be used as an artistic medium in the late 1800s photographers mainly sprang from two traditions:  the scientist and the painter.  Some adapted their unwieldy cameras to ‘paint’ tableaus with light and models who stood very, very, very still.  From the scientific side photographers shot cityscapes and panoramas, eager to introduce photography as a way of creating more and more realistic lithographs for book publications.

So is it any wonder that with the advent of a very revolutionized form of photography (digital) that its users are seeking to create something they know?  Not strange, no, but remember…

Edward Weston may or may not have ever said "Hey, look how sharp I can make things!"

It wasn’t until the f64 group (read:  Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Ansel Adams, etc. etc.) began saying: “God damn!  This camera is awesome but why are we not using it to its full potential?  Look at how sharp I can make things!” and then applied it to their own artistic expression, did the medium of photography really start coming in to its own as an art form.

Let’s stop pretending our shiny, new picture-takers are relics of the past.  Let’s agree not to abuse color shifts and saturation.  Let’s agree that a good photograph should be just that whether it’s grainy or crisp, fuzzy or dialed-in, vignetting or no.

Rant over!

Hilarious Hiking

3rd Peak. Sorry for the little picture!

Despite the fact that my legs feel like tree trunks, my stomach is turning (from a neck/shoulder burn today?) and yes, my skin has once again mysteriously turned bright red after copious amounts of SPF… and I’m full of Indian food (awesome)… I’m still popping in to put a little bit of content out on this here internet.

Today we hiked Moat Mtn which has not one, not two, but three freaking peaks.  When the first one tricks you you’re like ‘Oh, mountain, you’re so silly!’ and you climb up another two miles and then you get there and you see the last peak you’re like ‘That’s totally not even the last peak, we’ve just entered the inner circle of hell and this will never end,’ but then you finally get to the real top and it looks like that picture of the top of this blog post.  And even though all that bright sunlight is gonna cause some damage, you don’t care — nap time!

Hiking Companions

Rondo (pup) chased butterflies around at the top and Jason, hilarious guy, kept Tara and I laughing when we got to the second peak when he went to retrieve a water bottle Tara dropped, fell backwards in to a lichen-covered tree and knocked it down (it was about five inches in diameter) in to the pathway.  After checking to see if he was okay we started laughing wildly and couldn’t stop for some time.  Poor guy!  Every time someone dropped a water bottle after that we couldn’t help but giggle.

So no matter what my complaints or current physical state are, what an awesome day getting fit in the outdoors in the White Mountains.  Must do again soon.

June 2011: First Friday Picks

Wondering what to do tonight?  Here are some items definitely on my to-visit list:

GRAND OPENING of The Merchant Co., a ‘flea market’ of nearly 50 Portland and Maine artists, crafters and vintage resellers.  I am selling here – woo-hoo!  Music, wine, snacks, and a raffle tonight.  Don’t miss it!  656 Congress St., where Coast City Comics used to be!

Launch of Beaux&Arrow, a collaboration between Emblem Studio and Ponomo featuring screen printed leather… and more?  I dunno.  Go to the Portland Museum of Art to find out.  Swanky, huh?

Fore River Gallery celebrates 2 years, why not check out what they have on the walls?

Racy Photo Shoot and Storm Watch Skies

Hi, hi.

Let’s start off with the really fun bits first.  I’ve always been an advocate of self-portraiture.  Photography, painting, drawing, songwriting, what the hell, whatever — internal introspection can sometimes lead to growth and development but actually having a physical image, product, sound as a result of the process is really motivating.

This month I’m going to restart shooting myself which has gone undone for wayyyyy too long.  Sure, there have been a plethora of PhotoBooth captures but those aren’t much work at all, are they?

3/4 Portrait

A good place to start is photographing just your face.  I like to see all the angles of what I look like and I like to see what the expressions I make look like to others and not just how they feel showing up on my mug!

Go adventuring to outside locations and set up a tripod, focus on the ground near where you think you’d like to stand, and set the timer on the camera to 10 seconds or so, however long it takes you to get over there.  Be sure to turn auto-focus off if you have a DSLR.  What locations move you?  What places reflect your personality?

Photograph yourself in your home doing something normal, but style it like you see yourself in your imagination.  Are you doing the dishes?  No one says you can’t do ’em in high heels and a cocktail dress.  This is your fantasy.

Now comes my favorite… which I can’t actually share any images of because I have a strict no-showing-my-ta-tas-on-the-internet rule.  But really — photograph yourself completely naked.  The advent of digital photography makes it so that you can shoot and print your very own boudoir photos without involving the creepy guy with the ratstache at the Photo Center in Walgreens.  You don’t have to show them to anyone, and they might be COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS but why live this life without trying every ding dong thing there is to do in this world?  Trust me, it’s fun.

~~~

Now on to the skies…

Yesterday the sunset cast a gorgeous hue on East Bayside.  It’s doing it again now, too.  I’m very afraid of tornadoes, but the one thing I live for in this world is gorgeous light.  Why can’t the skies be like sunset all the time?  It’d get old, you say?  No, no it wouldn’t.

Here are a few captures:

Looking up Oxford St (Up Munjoy Hill)

Out the Attic Window towards Bayside

Write Words Every Day

Fire Portrait I made Kristina take of me. Stay tuned for more Fire Portraits, one day.

Just recently my good friend and co-worker, Anna, helped me figure out that I don’t really feel the need to do anything unless I am accountable to other people for it.  That’s kind of extreme – there are certainly days when I treat myself to cleaning my closet or painting my toenails, but for the most part my truly fabulous accomplishments happen when there are brick and mortar stores, craft fairs, or others that are relying on my elbow grease.

Same is true for keeping a journal.  The only reason I would write anything (that wasn’t a children’s book or a novel… one-day-dream that I hope I can accomplish before kicking it) is to have others read it.  Thus begins my efforts to post something here every day, art-related or not, a little link or an epic tome, just to get the fingers moving.

Let’s recap this utterly insane weekend.

On Friday, Kate of A Sweet Disorder and general awesome-lady-ness announced she was going to get married on Tuesday.  Yeah, like yesterday!  Being that she’s the light of Portland it was imperative to put together something weird, fun, quirky, and kinda expensive (but not too expensive).  And swanky.  Definitely swanky.

Brain-Shatteringly Amazing Women in front of a pretty cool vehicle

Enter:  white limo.  Kate came over on Monday night and we surprised her (well, kinda, of course I spilled the beans 20 minutes before it got there, what an asshole) while drinking frozen white russians and talking about weiners.  Yeah, bachelorette party!  Sierra brought a sweet-30 rack of High Life that we poured in to the champagne-of-beers flutes in the limo and cruised around, stopping momentarily for pees around Portland and french fries at Wendy’s in Saco.  Mmm.  Also, p.s., props to Bayside Limo for being the bestest, cheapest limo service off the peninsula!  Definitely recommend.

See: Jerk Chicken at top left of grill

Saturday (going back here) was nice and quiet with errands and a Goodwill trip ruling the day.  We also picked up $15 worth of chicken and started marinating for a party at 6pm on Sunday.  When it comes to jerk you want that shit to be dredged, marinated, and SPICY.  P.S. it worked and peoples’ mouths were burning up.  Kate even said the inside of her ear was tingling!

Sunday we went to Tara and Brian’s house after I met with Elise of eden. and Kate of Kate Sullivan-Jones to finish our space at The Merchant Co. which is having its grand opening First Friday on Congress St., across from Bang! and the cryptozoology museum.  It’s freaking awesome in there.  The Merchant Co. will have a swanky space for classes and crafting in addition to housing goods for your purchase of nearly 50 Maine (and mostly Portland) artists, designers and vintage resellers!

Summer is Here

Tara and Brian’s house on Sunday, per usual, was great.  A manicured backyard, delicious chips and dips, a smorgasbord of meats and veggie options and oodles of people who mostly make things out of instruments, art and fabric when they’re not slaving away at their 9 to 5 jobs.  I helped Tara put up Christmas lights just before everyone arrived and Brian lit a fire when the sun went down and aren’t night time parties freaking gorgeous?  I want a house, mostly so I can have a back yard.  Le sigh… one day…

Yeah, yeah, and Monday I didn’t have to go to work but I did go to Michael’s and buy a Yudu with Jason which I’m pretty sure is super cheesy but the results look pretty good and it’s a good start to learning screen printing.  It’ll come in handy for a number of reasons, but the one I’m most excited about is helping Mom get away from the clutches of Cafepress and start selling on Etsy.  Step away from the dark side, Momma!

The Daisy Buchanan Dress. Click the image to go to the listing.

I’m also psyched because I just started listing some of the dresses that I buy at Goodwill going ‘this is cool, I can probably sell it on Etsy’ that have been piling up in my closet but either don’t fit me, aren’t exactly my style, or are so far out there (but still excellent) that I couldn’t help but purchasing.  The newer ones (I have lots of Banana Republic for some reason) will go on Ebay and the vintage items get a nice, little corner in my Etsy shop.  Hoo-rah.

Kate & Mike's 'Ceremony' officiated by the lovely Kristina Balbo

Then on Tuesday night we kind of impromptu went over to Mike and Kate’s, not realizing they were going to get married in their apartment, and witnessed them tie that knot real tight!  Above is my favorite pictures from what I took.  More to come soon!

How was your long weekend?  As nutso as mine or did you get to relax with a mojito and wiggle your toes in a kiddie pool for three days?