15 October 2008

"The Pine Tree State" is No Exaggeration

Ahh, Maine. You know Maine is a special state when the second you drive into it the authorities have posted each of the state's laws along the side of the highway. I guess they figure you've got nothing better to look at for a while so why not? I especially enjoyed the last time in, bottlenecking to watch some idiot get put in bracelets by the cops not 50 feet past the border. He obviously didn't read the signs.

For those who didn't know, which is most of you since I avoid human contact, we were off to Maine for a week's vacation this past week. And no Abby Vacation would be complete without incomprehensible levels of Utter Stupidity! Hooray! Earlier last week we went out to Marshall Point Lighthouse, which is known to the rest of you as the Forrest Gump lighthouse. It is gorgeous there. It's impossible to take a bad photo of Marshall Point and I took LOADS of fabulous photos there. We also went to Port Clyde, which for those who have not been, is the quintessential Maine coast town. "Picturesque" is the best word for it. It is also completely impossible to take a bad photo of Port Clyde. You could swing your camera in a circle and fling it into the water and you'd still somehow wind up with several photos suitable for framing. That town is the very definition of perfection. I took another load of marvelous photos (photos I even tried to make look good, which made them even better) and I was so happy with them I could have cried. And then at the end of the week I managed to erase EVERY SINGLE PICTURE. Yes, it's a new digital camera and no, I shouldn't have been screwing around with it going, "Oo! What's this do? Oo! And what's this do?" (FYI, do not reformat your camera while photos are in it or you will lose them all. Every. Last. One.) So it's not even the fact that I lost all of those beautiful photos, but the fact that my own stupidity was what caused it. I would hit myself over the head with a crowbar, but I think it would hurt too much. And probably make me stupider.

And the second bit of stupidity: after leaving the state one of Peanut's toys fell out and under the car. I bent down to pick it up and burned my hand on something on the car underneath. I think they heard me scream in New York. Fortunately, we had stopped at a hotel for the evening so I ran it under cool water every hour and I think it's turned out nicely. And then yesterday it tore. Felt like angels kissing a summer breeze! What you see on the right is pre-tear. I showed Stephanie the tear last night and she started to heave so I figured I'd save you all that pleasure. You're welcome.

Later in the week I insisted we stop in at an art gallery I've driven past for years but never been in. Called "The Art of the Sea," it's made up entirely of maritime-themed artwork and it's great. But the best part of the museum is the restoration workroom. The gallery has you go up one set of steps, tour the upstairs, down the other set of steps, and down into the workroom and back out the front door. I'm not certain if they intended the workroom as part of a "tour feature" of sorts, but it worked out that way just the same. The gallery owners saw me dragging Peawhistle and Peanut and suggested I skip the first set of steep stairs and just go straight back through the workroom; I spent almost the entire time there.

You would absolutely not believe this place. Actually, you probably would. What you wouldn't believe is the man who works there, Jerome Morris. He is a professional ship restorer and he repairs and restores old and damaged model boats and ships (along with other odd requests that he is also capable of fulfilling). The boats range from small toy models to six-foot-long schooners you race on the water. One model clippership he got in the mail from someone asking for its repair had experienced "one or two bumps along the way" according to Mr. Morris. He said this because nearly every single piece of the ship was lying at the bottom of its glass case when he got it. Not only did he clean and restore it to what it was supposed to look like (wooden sails, ship's crew, and all), but he had to take the glass case apart to do it, a glass case that had been built and glued around the ship and had bowed glass--and then he had to put the case back together around the ship without punching the bowed glass in and squashing the ship after he'd fixed it. And that was just one ship of numerous ones he'd done so far. I questioned him to death about the ships and what he does to fix them and he was very kind about answering my questions.

I am especially impressed that he didn't kill Peawhistle, either. The second he saw me drag her into his shop I watched his expression and fully expected him to grab his chest and collapse, but he held it together very well and never said anything. She, of course, was thrilled to see so many boats and naturally wanted to touch every single one. And that's when I leaned down and whispered as lovingly as I could, "DON'T. TOUCH. ANYTHING. YOUR LITTLE LIFE DEPENDS ON IT." I held her hand in a death-grip--everytime she moved he flinched. In a distracted moment she got free of my hand and made a dash for some of the huge sailboats, all while the restorer and I stared in complete horror, but she instead chose to sit in a chair, saving everyone from an embarrassing conversation with the police and paramedics. It is especially fortunate that Mr. Morris did not know of Peawhistle's love of chewing on everything she sees, particularly wood products. I had visions of her tucking a napkin under her chin, declairing "Bottoms up, mate! 100 hours' of work down the hatch!" as he watches one of his restored schooners be devoured by an insane four-year-old.

It was his obvious and extremely warranted discomfort around Peawhistle, combined with a few subtle hints from him ("I'll have to wait to paint the detail on that one until I have no distractions....like customers coming through.") that made me push on to the rest of the gallery, but I was certainly loath to leave. I had approximately 53 more questions I would have thrown at him, were he not completely preoccupied with rescuing his livelihood from my offspring and actually wanting to get any work done. I think if he ever lets me in the door again he will insist on padding me down for small children. Poor man.

I also wish I had actually had the brains to look for some of the model ships he built from scratch himself in the gallery, but I was too busy looking at the ships themselves to notice the names attached to them. Before I went to the gallery I had been eyeing a small tugboat in a shop window in town. I thought it was awesome. I thought, "Man! That is one fabulous tugboat!" After seeing what craftsmanship Mr. Morris is capable of doing, I look at the boat now and think, "Man! That is one crappy tugboat!" I still like it, but holy cow, the difference in ability and detail is like night and day. I wish I had a photo of that clippership he restored so your jaw could hang open, too. I will instead offer my best rendition of the artist and his product:

Clearly, a true genius. Now you know who to go to if you drop-kick your 19th century model riverboat. If you have the chance to visit be sure and stop in and by all means keep him from his work to see what he's done lately. You absolutely won't regret it. But leave the kids at home; his job seems stressful enough as it is.


Ryann said...

I was wondering what the absence was caused by. Glad to know it wasn't any ER trips. :)

Jody said...

Welcome back! But I think I'd much rather be back in Maine right now.


I truly did miss you and just as soon as I get an hour I will read your huge-y blog post. Hope that burn dosen't affect your Piano playing--- we've GOT WORK to do!

Misty D. said...

Wow... you're getting as clumsy as I am. What's happening to you? Abby is the New Misty, it would seem.

And I loved your someecard.com card to me.

My address is forthcoming. Huzzah!

Stephanie B said...

That was freaking hilarious! You are so talented with the mouse that you could make those pictures. I never knew you were such an artist. I LOVE THE PICTURE OF PW EATING THE BOAT!!! I laughed so hard I cried.


Well, found a bit of time and finished reading the post:) You are a great writer, you make me want to go to Maine.

Loved the line you told PW "DON'T. TOUCH. ANYTHING..." made me laugh.