Suzy Massey — Web Designer & Artist

Filed under: Snippets - Stories about Maine people — mainewarmers @ 12:04 pm

Suzy’s friendly smile became a beacon of acceptance for me in a place where I felt intimidated by the incredible level of brains in the room. At TechMaine, I joined a group of web site designers who met to discuss emerging technical considerations and information, which was somewhat foreign to me and a bit like eating Vegemite. Suzy made it go down much easier. She knows geek-speak but has a way of patiently explaining those “techy” things to those of us who just say, “Huh?”

She graduated from Parson’s School of Design, well before the personal computer was even considered by the unsuspecting general public. It was an era when print advertising and Mad Men still ruled, and geeky computer things were considered science fiction – like the Star Trek that Suzy still loves today. After graduation, much to her mother’s dismay, she turned down a well-paying job with a graphic design studio to work at Radio City Music Hall, not as a Rockette, but as a not-so-well paid usher.

It was a time of great upheaval when the Music Hall was hanging on for dear life. The old show and movie routine ended and other stage events took their place.

Insider info:  In the play Snow White, the witch (played by a man) and Snow White eventually married. There were many other such marriages within the Radio City Music Hall community — including Suzy’s.

She soon finagled her way into the art department where she worked on the marquee and huge, outside window displays for special shows. Those windows could not be accessed from inside the building, but were opened like doors from the outside. “It made creating a collage display in the rain very difficult,” she explains. People would be lined up outside the theater waiting for a show as she was trying to maneuver in and out of the window — sometimes in the rain while trying to keep the display materials dry.

Suzy on top of the Radio City Music Hall marquee in NYC

Like many young people, Suzy was drawn to the City by its resources, activity, and bright lights, but after several years the noise and bustle stifled her. The eternal sounds of jack hammers in a brick building next door and a burglary in her apartment sent her fleeing.  She had been to visit friends in Maine once and recalled it was “pretty and quiet.” She beamed herself up here, and a year later, her husband-to-be, followed.

In Maine, after ten years of using her artistic skills to create window displays for JC Penny and in the throes of a mid-life crisis, she began taking computer classes. The idea that one could write code into Notepad and presto — a Web site appeared — fascinated her! It was like science fiction, and she was ready to jump aboard her own ship Enterprise.

She took the first steps of creating her business, Phoenix-Massey Studio, by helping artist friends who needed Web sites.  “It’s all about the visual organization of information,” she explains.

Like every other small business owner, she needed to market hers, and attended a non-geeky women’s networking group through the Women’s Business Center, where I first met Suzy and several other women business mavens. Eleven years later, we still meet monthly to share wonderful food and marketing ideas.  (Unfortunately, the TechMaine group dissolved for lack of funding). Suzy often shares information about Facebook and other social media marketing tools, and she loves apps.

Check out the video of her two cats playing with a “mouse app” on her iPad.

The Internet opened up a world-wide market for artists of every kind and a new genre for visual artists — one that sparked an interest and lit a fire in Suzy’s heart.  Her enthusiasm, artistic abilities, and warmth show through the Web sites she has created, and she has a way of communicating with her customers that makes the geeky stuff feel less alien.


All I want for Christmas

In the year 1999, feeling overwhelmed with work and school, I put off most of my Christmas shopping, errands, and cooking until six days before Christmas.

To make things a little easier on each other, my husband and I used to trade Christmas lists — suggestions of modestly priced items that the other person might not know we wanted. My husband usually added a few humorous tidbits, special messages, or an outrageous request, like a 1957 Chevy with a super charger, painted turquoise and white.

That year we were exceptionally stressed for time and later than usual in carrying out this ritual. It was only two weeks before Christmas when we traded wish lists, and without even a moment to look at it, I folded the one he gave me and put it in my wallet.

On the 19th of December, the day I was to start my Christmas preparations, my mother was unexpectedly admitted to a hospital in Florida, where she and my father lived, and my father (due to physical disabilities) was not physically able to be home alone for an extended period of time. The Delta Airline representative I talked to on the phone was very helpful in making a last minute emergency airline reservation. Before I knew it, I was heading out of Portland, on a plane headed to Florida.

When I arrived in Florida I was relieved to see my mother looking well. At the hospital I talked with the team of physicians and learned that she had a treatable condition, and would be released the next day if all the remaining tests backed up their theory. Encouraged and feeling good about her health, I scurried around putting things in order, adding a few festive touches to the Florida house, and preparing a nice dinner for when my mother returned home. I thought it might be nice to spend the holiday with my folks.

When I slowed down enough to take a deep breath and think about the situation, I was suddenly torn. I knew my folks were elated to have me with them, but what about my husband and our two sons who were returning from college for Christmas break?

My mother came home from the hospital the next day feeling fit as a fiddle. My folks had plans to go to relatives and friends for Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner. I would go with them, of course.

If I did nothing, then like Congress trying to pass a budget resolution, time would make the decision for me. On Wednesday, I called Delta to see what my options were for return flights to Maine, but this time I didn’t get the nice lady phone rep. All flights were booked or prohibitively expensive unless the situation was an emergency. I hung up the phone feeling resigned to a Christmas in Florida.

When I explained to my husband that a return flight was going to be hard to book, he was understanding, of course, but disappointed. We talked about the things we needed to do to pull Christmas together in Maine without my presence.

When I hung up the phone, I suddenly remembered my husband’s wish list, thinking I might do a little shopping for my eventual return to Maine. I pulled it out of my wallet, and looked at the list for the first time. This is what he had written two weeks prior, “The only thing I want is for you to be home for Christmas.”  There was nothing else – no suggestions, no outrageous items, and no funny comments. I turned the paper over – nothing. My heart sank.

I went shopping, feeling distracted and with little concentration on what I was doing. I was thankful my parents did not pressure me to stay in Florida and understood my dilemma. I called Delta Airlines back, hoping an angel would answer the phone and understand my situation. She did. I flew home to join my family on Thursday afternoon — two days before Christmas.

In Maine, my husband, our sons, and I chipped in to bake, clean, wrap, etc. I think because everyone helped, that Christmas became a turning point. We all recognized that sharing the responsibility of making the holiday festive was what brought us the most joy. Since then, I try never to leave all of the holiday prep until the last week, and my husband and I never felt the need to write another wish list.


A strong woman’s passion to help kids and local businesses leads to success

Filed under: Snippets - Stories about Maine people — mainewarmers @ 2:41 pm

When Masey Kaplan’s son brought home a school fundraising catalog with wrapping paper made in China, and she didn’t want to buy any Masey of Close Buy Catalogof it, she thought how nice it would be to have a choice of products made in the US.  She saw friends with small Maine businesses, struggling in a down economy, and thought a catalog that carried only items made close by would be a way to help them as well as raise funds for schools.

She came up with the idea of creating “Close Buy Catalog” for school fundraisers. After months of researching and developing a business plan, Masey began to approach small Maine businesses to find products for the catalog. Jennifer and I were working at the New England Products Trade Show when Masey stopped and introduced herself.  The first, experimental catalog called would go to four schools in the greater Portland, Maine area. There were plenty of skeptics, and I have to admit, I was one of them.

But, confidence and iron determination showed through her soft voice and pretty smile and convinced me that she could climb this mountain.  So, in the spring of 2010, we took a chance and signed on, not knowing what to expect. I decided, even if we didn’t get any orders, Masey was so nice that it would feel good to support her. 

Masey’s background in graphic arts allowed her to create the catalog and was one of the fun parts of the project. But there were the arduous tasks of managing all the data that came in from schools, distribution, and the finances. She put hours into planning and working out road blocks — things that can quickly turn the burning fires of enthusiasm to ashes.

The following October, when the orders came in, I was pleasantly surprised that we had sold forty items.  When Masey stopped to see us this spring at the trade show, she said that she was expanding the catalog to 35 or 40 schools. Again, I wondered how successful the project would be, given the state of the economy. But in October, my skepticism again melted away as I learned orders for our Cozy Sheep and Hot Dogs numbered in the hundreds.

When I talked with Masey, she said they had to turn away about thirty schools who wanted to sign on in late summer. By that time it would have been too difficult to manage any add-on schools, as catalogs and samples had already been delivered.  Next year!

With all of the attention her business requires she’s had to enlist the help of her husband. He now does morning duty, and she leaves for work about 5 AM. “He makes sure the kids are dressed, eat breakfast, school papers put in their backpacks, lunches made, and so on. I take over at 3 PM when they come home from school,” she says, “and he works until 6 PM. Then we have family time.”

She explains that this year, even with more schools, it is easier than last year because the management systems are set up.  The first year was hard, but she says, “I am fueled by joy.”

 Masey would like to expand Close Buy Catalog to other states, where she thinks people would feel the same way about buying locally. No longer a skeptic, I know if she sets her mind to it she will succeed. Masey has climbed a huge mountain pulling a heavy load, saying, “I think I can, I think I can.”

Check out the Close Buy Web site for more information, participating vendors and schools.


Hooping it up!

Filed under: Snippets - Stories about Maine people — mainewarmers @ 9:08 pm

On the First Friday of the month, in the arts district of Portland, Maine, people wander into open art galleries, pause on the streets to Hooping it up on the Eastern Promenade in Portland, MElisten to musicians, browse through the tables of local crafters on the sidewalks, and swing hula hoops around their middles.

 It’s First Friday Art Walk, and in front of the Portland Museum of Art — a popular spot with free admission on Friday nights — Tracy Tingley encourages people to stop and try one of her “Hardcore Hoops.” The visuals are wonderful. Black hoops, decorated with colorful tape, go round and round on two or three brave people, while bunches of hoops lean against the pillars of the museum waiting for others to pick them up and join in. Tracy nonchalantly twirls one on her arm while she swings one around her core. Upbeat music plays on a boom box.

Tracy has plenty of hoops for everyone of every size to use. Kids eagerly run to try it, but most adults walk past because they don’t think they can keep a hoop going around their mid-sections for more than ten or fifteen seconds.

Tracy can be found in other locations around Portland with her hoops. She sets up a canopy tent at the popular Farmers’ Market in Deering Oaks on Saturday mornings and encourages people to put down their bags of veggies and hoop awhile. Hoops are scattered over the lawn, leaning against the big Oak trees, or standing against the tent posts.

One Saturday morning in August, my grandson accompanied me to the park and was immediately eager to stop and play. I tried to walk by, hoping not to be noticed. But The Hoop Lady caught my eye, smiled warmly and said, “Try it!”

“I can’t,” I replied, shaking my head for emphasis.

“I’ll teach you in 30 seconds, and I guarantee you can do it. You can borrow one of these”, she said, in her calm, confident voice, pointing to an assortment of 30 or so hoops. “Let me find one that fits you.”

As promised, in 30 seconds she taught me how to keep the hoop going. It was fun and amazingly easy — for about five minutes. Then I found myself sweating and getting out of breath. It was exercise in disguise.

Tracy explains that her hoops are weighted with water, making it easier to keep them going. She makes the hoops herself with black plumber’s piping, decorates them with colorful tape, and sells them online (see her Web site below) or at any of the many venues she attends. She carries them around town on the roof of her car, and sells them to anyone who she happens to meet on the street and wants one. There is no high pressure sales pitch.

Tracy is happy to talk about the benefits of hooping. “When someone can’t exercise because any form of impact exercise will cause them pain, they soon gain weight and become terribly discouraged. Hooping is a good all around exercise that improves core strength (thus the name, “Hardcore Hoops”), provides cardio, stimulates circulation, and creates energy flow. Hooping, most importantly, is fun. It’s a great exercise for people who have had knee or hip replacements. Physical exercise is known to reduce stress, pump up endorphins, and contribute to weight loss.”

When I asked her how she got into hooping she graciously gave me some of her history. At age eighteen she went to work, summers, at Disney World expecting to be hired as Cinderella. “Instead they put me in a Goofy costume,” she recalls. As it turns out, Fantasy Land was not her life’s calling, and after six years she switched to what she thought would be a more grounded profession in the financial world. Disheartened by the the dishonesty that resulted in the 2008 economic catastrophe, she started Hardcore Hoops. Her sister, who lives in Bend, Oregon, sparked her interest. It seems that the West Coast folks are way ahead of East Coast folks in the hooping arena.

Want to join the fun? At 6 PM on Wednesday evenings in the spring and summer, a group of people gather to “hoop it up” on the spacious green lawn of the Eastern Promenade overlooking Casco Bay. It’s free. Tracy provides music and hoops. Some people take their own hoops or borrow one of hers. Don’t worry if you think you can’t. She’ll teach you in 30 seconds.

If you don’t live near Portland, Maine, ask around to see if anyone is “hooping it up” in your town or start your own hoop group!

Check out Tracy’s Web site and a video.


Alice Mead and the Children of Kosovo

City in KosovoWhen Alice Mead sees people struggling, especially children, she does what she can to make life better for them. She’s an activist, an artist, a writer and the author of several books for young people, including some that deal with difficult subject matter, in GIRL OF KOSOVO, and SOLDIER MOM. Her book, JUNEBUG, about the struggle of children who are pressured to join gangs in the projects of Connecticut, was featured on Oprah’s best books for kids. It’s an eye-opening story that reveals the hopelessness that some children have to face every day. She is also the author of a cute picture book, BILLY AND EMMA, which I read to my grandchildren.

Alice Mead was the woman who was responsible for bringing many children from war-torn Kosovo into Maine to keep them from being drafted into the military or into factional militias, where their lives would certainly be in danger. My friend, Connie Smith, who sheltered three teenagers from Kosovo during the late 1990’s and early part of the 21stcentury, was the subject of an e-newsletter story in 2008.

Hearing Connie speak of Alice Mead and following the lives of her teenagers from Kosovo, I always wanted to meet Alice. Then one day last April, in downtown Portland, I helped a woman in a wheelchair navigate into an elevator and disembark on the 2nd floor. As it turned out we were both attending a Woman’s Fund Leadership series. I introduced myself and was pleasantly surprised when she said her name was “Alice James – formerly Alice Mead.”

I often wondered what motivated Alice to risk her own life to help these young people escape the conflict between the Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo. I was happy to have the opportunity to ask her about how she became involved.

Her interest in this part of the world started many years earlier when she studied Russian. It heightened when she read about the breakup of Yugoslavia, but could not find follow-up information in the newspapers about the conflict. Curiosity and research led her to national organizations that were also trying to find information about the undocumented population of Kosovo Albanians.

“One night I literally woke up and felt a tap on the shoulder. It was a ‘you can and must do this,’ tap,” she said. She traveled to Kosovo, at great personla risk, where she gained valuable information that helped expose torture, killing, and exploitation of young people. See her documentaries on YouTube. 

In Maine, she found families who were willing to host the kids she helped to escape, and schools that were willing to educate them. “It was easy to get them out of Kosovo,” explained Alice. “It was much harder to bring them into the US.” Finding a family to keep a teenage student was challenging. Because these young people had been denied an education for so many years in their homeland, it was difficult for the schools to educate them. Eventually, US laws changed to require students to pay out-of-town tuition of $10 – $12,000 per year, which most could not afford. Some private schools in Maine began to generously sponsor these foreign students and waived the tuition for them.

The Kosovo teenagers missed their families and couldn’t even return for a summer visit during the years of conflict. Adjusting to cultural differences, diets, and the fact that they had regular teenage growing pains added to the challenges for host families. “Alice tried to rally these kids around her and keep them in touch with each other,” explained Connie Smith. “Some of them had relatives living in the US and visits were arranged when possible.”

Because she has been involved with many issues and projects to help kids, I asked Alice how she deals with difficult information involving children. She replied thoughtfully, “I don’t always deal with it well.” It dawned on me then that Alice doesn’t turn her head away from trouble, but deals with it by taking action. “I did not feel free myself if I did not stretch my own freedom as an American citizen,” she explains. “I have never for one second regretted the fourteen years I put into education and human rights development in the countries of former communist Eastern Europe.”

I admire her bravery, compassion, and ability to take action for the benefit of children. After talking with her, reading her books, and seeing her smile, I also admire the fact that, after all she has seen and lived through, she is still very much a child at heart.


John Stass & Katahdin Studio Music Furniture

Filed under: Snippets - Stories about Maine people — mainewarmers @ 3:02 pm

John Stass creates world class music furniture on the sixth floor of the Historic Hill Mill, a converted red brick textile mill in Lewiston, Maine. Guitar cases, violin stands, and sheet music cabinets are a few of the various pieces he designs and builds there.  He started Katahdin Studio Designs about the same time that I started Maine Warmers. He left his job and turned his hobby, his fun, and his passion into his fulltime work.

I met John at my first Chamber of Commerce meeting, over ten years ago.  My interest was piqued when I found out he had an online store. We shared ideas about the emerging world of internet marketing, web site issues, and the fact that we were both thankful to have a spouse with a day job.

Soon after meeting him, John had an open house at his studio. I rode up to the sixth floor of the huge mill building in a noisy freight elevator. He gave me a tour of his woodshop and as soon as I saw the shape, lines, materials, detail, and finish of the pieces I knew I had found a gem!

It was always a pleasure to see John’s smiling face and enjoy his great sense of humor when I attended local business events.  Years later when my  husband and I moved , I lost touch with him, but often wondered how many celebrity musicians must have found him online and bought his fine woodwork.

About six years later, as I sought out a sub-contractor in the same mill building where John’s shop was located, I saw a sign for his business that reminded me he was still in the building. During several trips I never had time to stop, but kept meaning to contact him. Then one day his name popped up on Facebook.  With a simple click, we reconnected.

When I asked John for permission to write a story about him for this newsletter, fortunately, he said yes. He invited me to see his new expanded shop and showroom and meet the craftsman he employs to help with production.  This time I skipped the elevator and climbed the wide industrial stairs, worn from a century of textile laborers’ comings and goings.

When I asked him if he sold any of his items to celebrities he had several stories to tell.  “Someone ordered twelve pieces online!” He laughed as he told me he thought it was a fraudulent order because nobody ever orders that much all at once. I knew exactly what he meant. But a phone call from the buyer confirmed the order. After John sent the first two pieces, the woman who placed the order called back to say how pleased the customer was with the order. Then she told him it was Melissa Etheridge who was the actual buyer. A year or so later, John watched Oprah Winfrey interview Melissa Etheridge at her home. A big smile crossed his face when he told me he saw his guitar stands and other music furniture in the background during the program. “I never did speak with her directly,” he said, and I detected a slight feeling of disappointment.

John quickly added that Andy Griffith has ordered several pieces and always places the call himself. “He’s so easy to talk with — like talking to a neighbor,” explains John with a hint of satisfaction. “I’ve even talked with his wife and she’s just as nice.” Andy Griffith has ordered fourteen pieces from John over the years, some for gifts for famous musicians.

When a Steve Miller from Idaho ordered three foot rests and three music tables online, John wondered if it was the famous musician or just someone with a fairly common name.  Later he learned that Steve Miller, of the Steve Miller Band, lives in Idaho. 

John is the kind of person who responds quickly to the needs of his customers. When Jimmy Vivino called on a Friday to order a custom piece that needed to be on site the following Thursday for the Conan O’Brien Show, John and his shop helper hustled and worked long hours over the week end. “It was delivered on Wednesday,” John says proudly.

Kevin Eubanks (of the Tonight Show) ordered and introduced John to Poncho Sampedro, who played guitar with Neil Young.  Sampedro struck up a friendship with John about four or five years ago via email.  John says, grinning from ear to ear, that SamPedro sent him two tickets to a Neil Young Concert in Manchester, NH, where he enjoyed going back stage and meeting the band members, including Neil Young, after the show.

As we stood in his showroom I asked John who painted the oil paintings hanging on the walls. He explained that when he started his business, turning his play into work, he needed to find a new “playground.”  He unlocked a door and we walked through a huge expanse of windows to the far corner of the partitioned space. He laughs and says, “Of course, before I started painting, I had to make the easel.” As I expected, when I looked closely at the easel, I knew it was a work of art.

Check out John’s music furniture.

Also, note that he is starting a line of home office furniture.John Stass with easel


Conflicts with Technology

Filed under: Snippets - Stories about Maine people — mainewarmers @ 5:52 pm

As much as we love technology, there are times when the learning curves and glitches drive us to the edge of adult Man using extra long neck warmer to relax stiff muscles at computertemper-tantrums. Soon after we become proficient with a new technology, it becomes obsolete. The apparatus ends up in a land-fill, and we’re back at it — reading a tiny print manual with a magnifying glass for a new device, or trying to find instructions (written for geeks) online.

At a relaxing afternoon tea with friends recently, a single mom explained how she managed to get her three year old daughter ready for preschool, dressed herself to do a presentation, packed the car with materials, and once in the car with just enough travel time to spare, she entered the address into her GPS. It replied, “NO SUCH ROAD!” After hyperventilating, then taking a few slow breaths, she managed to find the location by asking a real person (no map in car).

Another woman at our gathering showed us her favorite app on her Blackberry. It’s the flashlight app — so simple and easy to use when one has to get up in the middle of the night.

We can pay our bills online today (no envelopes and stamps), but with so many passwords and user names to keep track of and time spent guessing, I wonder if it is just as easy and cost effective to write out the check and mail it.

I felt badly for my mom when she bought a new kitchen stove and could not figure out why there weren’t just on and off switches with a temperature dial.

If you find you have reached a high frustration level with technology, have spent too much time on the computer today, and have a stiff neck from the tension, take a break and wrap a Maine Warmer around the back of your neck. Of course, that requires the use of a microwave! But it will help you relax and keep muscles flexible.  

Also, consider logging out of your Facebook account, invite a friend over for a soothing cup of tea with our Raisin Cake (see recipe below), conversation, and some laughs.


The Valentine Lady

Over the centuries, love letters and Valentine cards have added color and spice to mid-winter doldrums. My good friend, Beth Baird knows a lot about antique Valentine cards. She collects and sells them through her business, Elizabeth Baird Ephemera.*

Beth, when she was as an apprentice to an antiques dealer, fell in love with vintage Valentines. It happened decades ago, one hot August day, while she was helping assess the contents of a summer “camp” (summer home) in Maine. In a lovely heart-shaped candy box, stored in a cedar chest, she found a stack of neatly preserved old letters and Valentines that immediately caught her fancy.

Stories of the creators, the messages, and the art still fascinate her. “Look at the detail in this!” she exclaims pointing out signatures, dates, and tell-tale signs of the history of a handmade card with an original painting. “Printers started printing Valentines in the 1790’s to 1830’s and hand colored them until the 1850’s or 1860’s, then they got fancy with lace and die cuts.”

For decades, Beth has pursued her passion while traveling throughout the US and England, searching for collections of Valentines and other Ephemera. She continues to attend trade shows and auctions. With an outgoing personality and great sense of humor, she also has collected many customers who have become friends and share her affection for Ephemera. She knows which customers want Valentines only with dogs or cats in them, with churches in the background, or ones with lace.

Beth’s collection resides in her three-story Victorian house in Portland’s West End. Thin labeled boxes, stacked on white shelves with spindle posts, keep them organized and protected. All three floors of her house contain not just Valentines, but beautifully designed labels for glass perfume bottles and tin pill boxes, seed packets, and fabric bolt bindings. There are antique prints and posters, specialty books, botanical drawings, playing cards, theater programs, and travel brochures. One whole room is dedicated to children’s books, toys, and paper dolls. The list of categories is too long to list here.

Where there aren’t shelves, the walls are decorated with photos, color lithographs, woodcuts, silk screen prints, original water colors, charcoal portraits, oil paintings, and more. Long drapes in beautiful antique prints and lacy shears grace the 6 foot tall windows of this perfect setting for her collection. A Dalov Ipcar** silk screen print of a cat catches my eye on the curved wall of the staircase.

On the third floor is her studio, where she throws her heart and soul into studying, preserving, and cataloging thousands of pieces of Ephemera. Hallmark Cards, in Kansas City, Kansas, hired her to appraise some early Valentines in their huge collection. Victoria Magazine featured her in a February issue about twenty years ago.

Aside from her expertise as a collector of Ephemera, Beth has a lovely way about her. “I’ve got such exciting things to tell you!” This familiar phrase of hers leads into conversations about art, artists, exhibits, movies, upcoming events, and future plans to attend a lecture, gallery, or film. “I’d really like you to see this exhibit at…” is another familiar expression, often followed by making plans to attend an event.

I met Beth when I took a silk screen workshop at what used to be Westbrook College in Portland, Maine, and she was the teacher. She’s an artist, retired art teacher, and one of the best cooks I have ever been privileged to know.

Beth wrote a cook book, SCRATCHES ON APPLE PIE, illustrated it, hand colored the illustrations, and of course she delved into the history of pies as well.  In the book she says, “The ‘pyes’ of old England were baked in a long deep dish called a coffin. ‘Pye recipes’ up to Martha Washington’s day directed colonial cooks to ‘first make your coffin.'”

Check out the apple pie recipe in this month’s newsletter and her “Pie Truisms.” I think pies could definitely be described as Ephemera!

*Ephemera, as defined in many dictionaries, is most often printed material that is designed to be short lived or transitory. It can also refer to plants or insects.

 For a more detailed description and information about Ephemera please visit the Ephemera Society of America Web site.


**Dahlov Ipcar (1917-) is an American painter, illustrator and author. She is best known for her colorful, kaleidoscopic-styled paintings featuring animals – primarily in either farm or wild settings. She currently resides in Georgetown, Maine.



Filed under: Snippets - Stories about Maine people — mainewarmers @ 5:21 pm

Maine is tucked up in the northeastern corner of the US -– a bit like an appendix, not mainstream, off the beaten path, and somewhat isolated.  It is a perfect place to take time out from the congestion of cities and suburbs and enjoy the abundance of rivers, lakes, coastlines, and forests.  “Vacationland” is printed on Maine license plates.

The people who live here, affectionately called Mainiacs, embrace Maine’s natural resources, but they must earn a living in this remote area. Tourism is one of Maine’s biggest industries and provides work for many of its residents, especially in the summer when the population triples.

Many teenage Maniacs find life here boring and lacking opportunities. They are Maine’s biggest export –- well-educated, high school graduates, who can’t leave the state fast enough to attend college and see what the world is like. 

Jessica Caldwell, a young Mainiac, in her film called “Lobster,” has placed the drudgery of hard labor against the beautiful, natural backdrop of Maine’s coast. A short project created for a class at Columbia University, the fourteen minute film depicts a high school graduate, bored to tears on the last day of her summer job (picking lobster meat to be sold to restaurants).

The girl in the film has taken a fancy to a nice looking young lobsterman and invites him to attend her going away party that evening.  He declines, but he asks her to a special place where they observe the beautiful side of Maine –- the one that surrounds her, and she has taken for granted. 

Jessica, who left Maine for college in NYC, sees herself in the young character in her beautifully photographed film.  Like other young people, she is energized by city life.  She says she will probably not return to Maine to live and work full time, except to produce another film here some day. “In Maine, there is too little opportunity, and it is isolating.”

Jessica and Charlotte Glynn, the film’s director, talked about the warm reception they received during the filming of “Lobster.” It is well known that celebrities who visit or reside in Maine appreciate the respect of privacy shown to them by the locals. As a result, Mainiacs enjoy the added income from film crews and actors when they do arrive.

A good number of artists reside in this state, and I can’t help wonder whether they are driven here for the natural beauty or if nature provides them with inspiration, time, and space they need to be creative.

Imagine how vibrant our communities would become if the young folks, who leave Maine to experience life outside, returned to create businesses and contribute to the economy. If all those Mainiacs did return, what would happen to our lakes, rivers, coastlines and forests? I think they would be just fine.


Island Spring Ritual

Filed under: Snippets - Stories about Maine people — mainewarmers @ 10:12 am

Since many of you have read my Island stories, I thought you might like a glimpse of Island life via this gentle two minute video, called Spring Island Ritual. By the way, no cars or trucks end up in the water!

Every few years, wooden boats need to be re-caulked and painted to protect them from the salt water. It’s a ritual that Islanders take for granted. “The Wicked Cunnin,'” is the name of a small “Bob-built” boat, painted bright yellow (easy to spot in the fog) and featured in this short movie.

 Thank you to Maine musician, Gary Richardson, who so kindly gave permission to combine his guitar music with the photos in this movie.

Newly painted "Wicked Cunnin'"

I hope this brings you a few minutes of peace and relaxation with a reminder that a new year filled with hope, joy, and sunshine is just around the corner.

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