Archive for the ‘strange and awesome’ Category

Maine Rogue Photographers Association

Still too hot to think properly.  We Mainahs are just not built for this kind of heat.  So maybe today is a good day to talk about what I think Maine really is about.

Back in 2007, Matt (my husband) and I were talking with our friend Sergei about what it really was to be a photographer in Maine.  We are all big fans of the photo site flickr, but we were frustrated that all the Maine groups on flickr were about moose and lighthouses and scenic vistas.  Now don’t get me wrong, all that pretty is a big part of why we love living here.  But Maine is so much more than that.  So we decided to incorporate the Maine Rogue Photographers Association, a flickr group dedicated to all the other parts of Maine.  We posted this as our description:

The State of Maine, located as far northeast as you can go in the USA, is incredibly photogenic. Wide open ocean in one direction, forests in another, majestic mountains in a third, it is little wonder we have so many landscape photographers in this state! And yet just out of frame is a trailer home with twenty rusting cars surrounding it guarded by an alcoholic with a shotgun. Just past the trailer is a multi-million dollar mansion owned by a New York City lawyer who stays there two weeks out of the year. Maine is a place of contradictions, where incredible beauty lives 180 degrees from utter despair. It is a place that people live because they love it here, or because they’re trapped here.

We’re Maine’s Rogue Photographers. We see what the tourists don’t see. We know there’s more to photographing Maine than landscape photography, and we’re not afraid to share it.

The group has been going for more than three years now and has maintained a sizable pool of contributors (considering the restrictions on what can be posted).  Here are a few of my favorites from the group pool:

Drake's Island

Drake’s Island by brookehartley

Howland Tannery

Howland Tannery by muncadunc

untitled by e.teel

Tahir Saleh

Tahir Saleh by Sergei Chaparin

Playground

Playground by jess_leclair

Yes, this last one is one of mine.  I mentioned before that I am a big fan of the strange and unusual and this little playground out in Machiasport certainly qualified.

I know some people find the idea of this group distasteful or even disrespectful.  I have to disagree.  I think to acknowledge only the beautiful about Maine is to do it a great disservice.  It’s like pretending the only part of a person that has value is their pretty face.  There is so much more to a person that makes them whole and the same is true with our awesome state o’ Maine.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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Flea Market Finds

[Quick side note from yesterday: Thankyouthankyouthankyou to everyone who read and commented on my post yesterday!  It was so amazing to be featured on Freshly Pressed and then have all of you wonderful people respond so positively to what I’ve been up to. I really appreciate all of your comments/ideas/suggestions. I hope you stick around for more!]

I mentioned before that my husband and I recently celebrated our 4th anniversary.  As part of the celebration, we decided to drive up the beautiful Maine coast and head to the very small Canadian island of Campobello.  To get to Campobello, you go to Lubec, the eastern-most city in the United States, and just keep going.  There is a little bridge with a very nice crossing guard and then you are in Canada!  And in a whole different time zone too which is just strange.  I mean you are on one side of the bridge and it is 5:00.  On the other, it is 6:00.  It must be very confusing to live there.  Though I suppose, as with most strange things, you get used to it.

ANYwho, that was our destination.  As with any destination, part of the fun is getting there.  And we are big fans of taking our time on long car rides.  From our home, it is about a 5 hour journey.  There was just no way we were going to do it straight through.  On the way up, we stayed a night with some friends in Bangor to break up the trip.  From there, it is closer to 3 hours.  On the way back, we distracted ourselves by stopping at some of our very favorite flea markets and antique stores.  You should not be surprised to learn that I LOVE flea markets and antique stores (what is the difference between the two, you ask? About $100).  I am very lucky to have a husband who shares my fondness.  Between the two of us, we find the best stuff.  Finding awesome stuff doesn’t necessarily mean we BUY the awesome stuff.  Sometimes, just having a picture of it will satisfy my need to own the strange thing.  Like this for instance:

Lobster plate

This is one of the strangest plates I’ve ever seen in my life. At first I really thought it was a butterfly.  But then I noticed the big claws and realized I was looking at a gold lobster.  What on earth would you serve in a dish like this? Or is it purely decorative?  Either way, weird.

We found this at the Old Creamery in Ellsworth, Maine.  They have two huge floors filled with the strange and unusual.  Their collection also included this gem:

Bunny cookie jar

Personally, this makes me never want to eat a cookie again.  That thing looks waaaaaaay too likely to come alive and bite my hand off.

If you keep going down Route 1 through Ellsworth towards Bucksport, you eventually run in to the Big Chicken Barn.  It is 21,600 square feet of AWESOME.  It really used to be a chicken barn and it is now full to the brim of stuff.  The first floor is all antiques and the second floor is books and magazines.  You can get lost for days there.  It is where we found this awesome sign:

Spirituous liquors

So awesome! If only I had some place to put it (and it wasn’t silly expensive – the awesomest signs always are…).

But the best find of the day was the one we actually brought home with us.  It came from Old Stuff in Belfast, Maine.  Karna, the owner, is an old friend.  Her son went to high school with my husband.  She has a fabulous eye for the best stuff and prices things really reasonably.  She also restores and creates the most amazing lamps.  But this is what caught our eye:

mustard jar, lid closed

Isn’t he fabulous? Even better, the jar opens to reveal a little spoon for the mustard:

mustard jar, lid open

At $4, he was a total steal. And now resides quite happily in our kitchen with all the other strange and wonderful stuff we brought home from other travels.

Also, he sort of reminds me of the Prince from Katamari Damacy:

Though it is pretty clear our mustard jar came first.

Ephemera on the web

Okay, okay, so this post is supposed to be about my fabulous weekend.  Well, that will have to wait another night.  It is too late and I’m too tired to do the whole thing justice.  So instead, I offer up another of my very favorite things: the lovely and delicious blog, BibliOdyssey.

[source]

This blog is all about the strange and wonderful bits of ephemera that have survived centuries (or sometimes just a decade or two) and collected together in a wonderful haphazard way.  This is the curio cabinet of illustration and painting.  The site boasts everything from Indian folk art to 15th century medicinal plant illustrations to caricatures from the late 1800s.  I want to continue describing the awesomeness of this site in a meaningful way, but I think a better way to do that is to just give you some more examples.  And after that, the best thing for YOU to do, dear reader, is to just pop over to the site and spend a while getting lost in the archives.  The stuff is fabulous and much of it is copyright free (though not all of it, so check carefully before you go using stuff willy nilly).

Seriously, with variety like that, what are you waiting for?  Go check it out!

Finding the beautiful

There is a storm drain in the parking lot behind our apartment that routinely blocks up and floods.  Pretty much every time it rains, we are guaranteed a big puddle.  Usually it is unremarkable.  But a few weeks ago, a big rainstorm happened to coincide with lots and lots of recently released pollen in the air.  It all seemed to settle into the big puddle in our parking lot. And it was really beautiful!  I know, pollen in a puddle doesn’t really sound all that awesome.  But the bright yellow pollen rested lightly on the slightly oily surface of the water, creating a really beautiful marbled pattern.

pollen and water 02

pollen and water 03

pollen and water 01

The patterns are just so stunning.  I love how jagged the edges of the swirls are.

The next day it was even better!  The water had drained away, leaving a sort of topo map of pollen rings around the drain.

pollen 01

pollen 02

pollen 03

In this last one the pollen almost looks like chalk.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with these yet, but that is part of the fun, right?  Taking beautiful images just to take them.  With all the book making I’ve been doing lately, maybe I’ll just make end papers out of a print of one of the really marbled looking ones.  I love finding the beautiful in otherwise boring or uninteresting sounding things!

Surprise!

There are many, many things I love about my husband.  He is the sort of person that even if I hadn’t married him, he would still be one of my most favorite people ever.  One of the many things that draws us together is our shared appreciation for and love of the bizarre.  Upon arriving home from work today, he handed me this:

Surprise outside 1

Um, what now?

I flipped the strange object in my hand over. And saw this:

Surprise outside 3

Oh, a surprise! Wait, what? Maybe another side will help…

Surprise outside 2

Oh! A Chanukah surprise! Well, that makes much more… no, no, wait. It’s June. And besides, we aren’t Jewish.

But, of course, with something this tantalizing, that hardly matters.  What could possibly be inside something this awesome?

the loot

Treats!

The packaging for those Corn Sticks has to be among my most favorite. Come on: “MMM! It’s onion-y good in here” = BRILLIANT.

MMM!

Though I’m not really sure what a “chewy dragees” is.

Flash chewy dragees

The best part is that he found it at our local Shaws.  Today.  June 17th.  Why they are carrying Chanukah treats NOW is anybody’s guess.  But he saw it there and thought I would appreciate it (which I totally did) so he bought it and brought it home for me.  Best. Sweetie. Ever.

And here I was wondering what on earth I was going to blog about today.  Thanks sweetie!