Monthly Archives: April 2011

I am not a morning person

I used to be able to wake up early and get right out of bed. Somewhere along the way I turned into a night owl. I am wide awake at 10 p.m. which is one of the reasons I post my blog so late. In the morning I like an hour to myself, without noise or conversation. (Hmm…that’s one of the reasons I stay up late at night; time to myself without noise or conversation.)

I keep thinking I would like to get up earlier. I know I feel good when I start my day with a walk. I know it’s a way to start shedding some of the extra winter weight I’m carrying. But I’m SO good at hitting the snooze alarm, cat-napping my way through another hour in bed.

This morning the tide was at its lowest at 6:11. We had very heavy seas on Sunday. This was the perfect morning to walk to the “station” and have a chance to see what might have landed on the beach from the stormy weather. I managed to get out of the house by 6:45, dragging myself all the way to the front door.

Before I even made it down my front steps I was happy to be outside.  The spring smell of things turning green hit me right away. I could hear at least 10 different kinds of birds singing as I walked down the road to the beach. While it wasn’t  a sunny morning, the rain had stopped and there was no wind, so it really wasn’t  too cold. As I stepped onto the beach, two great blue herons flew overhead on their way to a tide pool for some breakfast.

I was glad to have my camera with me. The next time I take an early morning walk, (tomorrow?) I want to bring my binoculars. I heard a bird call I didn’t recognize, and this time in the spring, before the leaves come out, is the best time for getting a good view of warblers.

I was not the only one who was out early on the low tide sand. Deer tracks!

I liked the way this piece of seaweed looked like some sort of sea insect.

And the way the photographer’s shadow was distorted by the wet sand.

A large section of the beach was covered in kelp tossed up by the storm. (In the background, the old U.S. Life Saving Station. Now a private dwelling.)

Rather than walk through all of that, I left the beach and continued my walk on the road. As I stepped over the top of the bank, I saw another sign of the recent storm. This seaweed lined trail of sand, left when the high tide overflowed.

Today was a good day to be a morning person.


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Some days are busy…

…with little to show for it. Today was one of those days. I worked on some earrings using some of the patina-ted components from last week. I test wore one pair of the earrings (with the thin leaves) but I still want to tweak the design a little before I photograph them. Maybe tomorrow will be a good day for that.

I balled the ends on 120 pieces of silver wire, a mix of 22 gauge and 20 gauge, to use for head pins. I also balled the ends of 54 pieces of copper wire, same mix of gauges. I drilled some rocks, and went for a long walk on the beach to find more.

Bruce warmed up the leftover lobster risotto for dinner, and made a salad of  kale, romaine, strawberries, goat cheese and cucumber. Pretty darn tasty! Then we watched, “Waiting for Superman,” a very well done documentary about the state of our schools in the U.S.

The day was a very productive one, but I find I have little more to say about it, and no photos of the work I accomplished. So, here’s a scene from my walk yesterday.

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Stormy Sunday

We listened to pounding surf all night, accompanied by high winds and rain. It was quite the spring storm for the first half of the day.

Gilley Beach at 10 a.m. high tide:

It was a perfect morning to go to Dan and Cynthia’s for cottage cheese pancakes with friends:

Then we went over to the Co-op to pick up some crabs for appetizers (before lobster risotto for dinner.)

Notice how quiet the water is in the harbor? It’s pretty well protected from those easterly winds. Bruce is hamming it up with the crabs.

Co-op ramp:

Somehow the seagulls totally missed this piece of bait dropped on the ramp. I’m glad I didn’t. The spontaneous composition really appealed to me.

Gilley beach at the end of the day. Low tide, less wind, and clearing sky.


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Recently I considered using these reddish beads, by Susan Kennedy of SueBeads, in my “mysterious pod” necklace. I ended up using other beads in that necklace. I’m really glad I did, because I am quite happy with how the  red beads turned out in the asymmetrical piece below:

I included several of my own PMC beads along with beach rock beads, ostrich egg shell, coconut shell, and small sterling silver beads.

I spent the day off island for the second time this week. Tomorrow will be a stormy day. I’m hoping to spend some of it in the studio and some of it catching up with friends who are visiting for the weekend.

Apropos of nothing: On the boat ride home this afternoon, the non human passengers included 1 bunny and 28,000 bees.


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Really random photo post

I succeeded in procrastinating with my writing until this morning, going well into the afternoon before I had my 1000 words in a tidy package to send to my editor. I write on my old computer, which is slow for almost everything, but I just like my old Appleworks program for writing. I guess it’s like writing on an old typewriter. I can find so many things to distract me every month, but  unfamiliarity is not one of them.

The old computer has my TextTwist game on it, which is what I use to step away from the task at hand without stepping away from my chair. The other thing my old computer has is old photos. Rather than work harder to come up with something to post on my blog, I’m going to declare myself done with work for the day and post a random collection of the photos that were part of my at-the-desk distraction.

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Wax on Wax off

Applying Renaissance Wax as a final finish on pieces with patina is how I spent part of a sunny afternoon on the back porch. It was so nice to hear all the birds singing, especially the cardinals and song sparrows, and it was pleasantly promising to feel 60 degree air again. It was also a relief to work outside since the smell of this wax is not one of my favorites. Fortunately the smell is gone after it hardens. It’s not that bad, but I’m sensitive to it. As long as I was outside, I took the time to apply Butcher’s Wax as a final finish to a batch of beach rocks I drilled earlier in the week. Butcher’s smells a little better, but still it was a nice change to keep that outside, too.

So, I did lots of hand finishing this afternoon, which is a good thing for 2 reasons. The first is that I now have a bunch of new components to work with in the studio tomorrow, and the second is that I procrastinated all day from writing my “Cranberry Report” for the Working Waterfront, and completing a variety of components made me feel like I had done something productive. I might stay up late to finish the column tonight, so I don’t have a repeat of procrastination tomorrow. Ugh. I always do this when I have to write. I had hoped that keeping up with a daily post on the blog would be helpful to writing my column in a more timely manner. But…not yet. Not this month, anyway. Tomorrow is my deadline, but I usually stretch the day of the deadline out until 5 p.m. I don’t know why I do it, but I know I can get away with it.

My first foray into the world of patina (excluding the use of liver of sulphur on silver, and a few times using Baldwin’s Patina on some copper/bronze clay pieces) went pretty well.  I started with the verdigris because it is a cold patina and it seemed like the simplest place to start.

Copper and brass components with patina applied on left. Original finish on right. Photo taken before any sealant or wax have been applied.

Brass leaves before and after patina has been applied. Still no sealant or wax.

An example of why pieces must be solid copper, and not just copper plated. The patina reacts with the steel under the copper plate and cause rust rather than the nice green patina. The pieces on the right look so innocently like copper…

I tried a coat of sealant and wax just to learn about the process, but I’m not sure if I will find much use for “rusted propellors.” I’ll set them aside to see what they do.

Here’s the whole batch, after applying sealant and wax. Each step requires a 24 hour curing period.

My favorite pieces this time are the copper leaves I filed down and stamped, to give them a little personality before I colored them with patina. These will become earrings just as they are, or with some extra silver components.


The patina learning curve has begun.


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was the exact opposite of yesterday. It was rainy (pouring actually) instead of sunny, a chilly 38º instead of 60º, and I was off the island for the day instead of home getting things done and going for a beachy walk.  All nastiness was related to the weather, and at least it wasn’t snow, so I am not really complaining. I’m just making a comparison and maintaining a little awe in the fact that the two days were so completely different.

Today had a full share of good things despite the gloomy weather. Bruce and I spent the off-island day together, which almost never happens unless we are taking a trip somewhere. We were looking at new couches and chairs, figuring out what we might get to replace our 17 year old recliner couch that is starting to look a little tacky and does not have the comfort it used to have to compensate for its appearance. Visually, I am not a recliner person. The exposed metallic mechanisms, when in recline, just make me want to look away and pretend they are not mine. But they really are comfortable and you can’t beat a good recliner for watching Netflix, so this is the kind of furniture we looked at. At the first store, most of the pieces we tried were overstuffed, or not comfortable enough, or had microfiber upholstery, or sported fake leather. Nothing really excited either of us, so on we moved to the next store….where there was no such thing as a recliner sofa. What they did have, though, were the most comfortable reclining chairs I’ve ever experienced. The chairs, made by IMG Norway, had a more contemporary design than I thought I would like, but I could get used to them pretty quickly. I have never sat in anything so comfortable in my life. An ergonomic reclining chair. Who knew?

We pried ourselves out of the chairs to go to our favorite restaurant, Cleonice, for lunch, where the food is consistently excellent. Bruce had the lamb burger and I had the spinach salad with goat cheese, hazel nuts, and bacon.  It is also where my friend and jeweler Cara Romano works when she is not at a show or in the studio. She was there today and we had a minute to catch up and discuss the price of silver before the lunch crowd started to arrive.

We finished up the off island day with grocery shopping, a quick visit with my mother in Bar Harbor, and a chance to read my book while Bruce had his annual check up at the Family Health Center. We made it back to N.E. Harbor in the nick of time for a windy wet ride home on the 3:30 mailboat. Bruce got a fire going in the wood stove while I put groceries away and then we went back out for a dinner invitation to celebrate our friend David’s 60th birthday party.

A full day.




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Gilley Beach

Today, the weather here was just gorgeous. I didn’t even realize it until later this afternoon. I spent a good part of the day drilling rocks for necklaces. It’s a job that takes time and sounds tedious, but I like it and I seem to go into a “zone” when I do it. I listened to a book on CD, and thought about how I would use the rocks and which ones I wanted to drill next. I lost track of time. When I came up for air, the wind had died down, the sun was out and the temperature was above 60º for the first time since last November. Bruce came in from lobstering and we took a walk. Once again Bruce took the road home and I went home via the beach. Just before we split up, we saw our first Great Blue Heron of the season. We watched it land in the top of a tree. (So funny to see such a large leggy bird in a spruce tree.)

I walked home slowly, taking time to look for more little rocks to drill, hoping to find some sea glass or something else really unusual. I picked up a few things, but mostly just enjoyed being in the warm air and listening to the sound of the waves sucking at the rocks as they went out, then crashing gently as they came in.

A bit of a swell had come up yesterday with the wind,  stirring up kelp from under the water and tossing it up on the beach. Decomposing kelp can get kind of smelly, but with the wind direction, the warm air, and fresh kelp on the beach, the whole place smelled like an oyster tastes. Really fresh.

Along with the little rocks, I picked up some pieces of driftwood to use for photo props. I got home around 5:30, happy to have made spaghetti sauce and to have washed lettuce for a salad before I went out. It was one of the better walks I’ve taken, and they’re all pretty darn good.


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Squirrel free zone

We have two windows in our kitchen, and through one of them, by the kitchen table, we can see the bird feeder Bruce built long ago when our kids were small. For my birthday, a few years ago, my brother Steve gave me a second feeder to put up so I could watch birds from the other window; the one I look through every time I am at the kitchen sink.

When he went to the bird feeder store, the salesperson showed him several nifty designs to discourage squirrels from eating the seed.

If you  Google “squirrel proof bird feeder,” within 16 seconds you will have 210,000 results. I guess keeping squirrels away from bird feeders is a pretty common problem. But as my brother explained to the helpful clerk, squirrels are just not an issue for people on Little Cranberry Island.  We have no squirrels. At all. None. (No chipmunks either.)  The sales clerk could not believe it. “I want to live there!” she exclaimed.

Sometimes, when I look out at my bird feeders, I have to remember just how lucky I am not to have to deal with squirrels.




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After stringing this beach rock necklace, I decided I did not find it very interesting. Too symmetrical, or predictable.  I like the peanut-shaped glass seed beads, but not necessarily with the beach rocks in this design.

I took the necklace apart and used some of the same beach rocks in a different sequence, with additional beach rocks and different handmade silver beads. I’m a lot happier with this one.

Sometimes I have to make necklaces I don’t like, before I can make the ones I do like.


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