Tonight I spoke to a wise social media expert, and began asking her about how to promote my Etsy store better (avenue49.etsy.com), since it seems to be hard for people to search for me on that site. She said that I need a blog. At first I said that I didn’t have one, but then mid-conversation, I realized I did. It had just been languishing.
So I’m taking Mary Rarick‘s advice and writing a new blog post. Lots going on this summer, so much to blog about! But I figure something that touches on both my life and my jewelry is our recent trip to Lopez Island, where I spent most of the week (among other vacationish things) putting together 330 race “medals” for Andrea Moore of Moxie Runners. I may have mentioned it previously, but I was coerced (sort of) into running my first half marathon in August. It may have had something to do with the fact that Andrea is one of the most energetic, kind, motivating people I’ve met, and she wanted to direct her first race ever, and she asked me to make the medals, and she basically told me that I couldn’t wear one unless I ran the thing. So there it was. I’d say running a half marathon was probably always on my bucket list, after training for and accomplishing Hood to Coast in 2005. This seemed like a good way to get back in shape and maybe take off a few pounds, plus show my kids some positive modeling (mommies can make money, and use their bodies for things other than changing your diapers! Yay!). So I agreed, and once I was in, I knew I was in it for good. There was no way I was backing out on Andrea, barring injury.
Anyway, the run is a whole nother (is that a word) post. This one is supposed to be about creating the jewelry while I was supposed to be on vacation. I mostly just wanted to show the photos of Lopez that I took. That place is seriously photogenic. Every time we go, I tell Keith that the numerous artists on the island must stage the place incessantly to get it looking so aesthetically pleasing. Everywhere you look something catches the eye, whether it’s a beautiful burst of wildflowers in a planter box, or a rusted fish sculpture, or the farm stand that we invariably end up at. I can’t help but bring my iphone everywhere, even though the cell service is nil (and they like it that way, those Lopetians or whatever they are called. There’s still a petition going around arguing against cell phone towers on the island due to radiation concerns).
So, knowing that I was running a 13.1 mile race within the next 7 days, and that I would need to deliver both 300+ necklaces for that race and a table display that Keith could sell my necklaces from during the race, we still made the 6 or so hour journey north. We can’t help it. It’s the most relaxing place I’ve ever been, I think. I knew I could do my last training run on the island, and I came armed with bundles of jewelry-making materials. I didn’t have a display for the table, but I had many an idea from Pinterest. I planned to visit the “Mall” on Lopez, which is really the waste transfer station, with a section that’s like a huge free garage sale, to look for the parts I needed.
Without making this an overly long post, I’ll just tell you some of the things we love to do while we’re on the island. We absolutely love the cinnamon rolls and almond butterhorns (and, well, everything else) at Holly B’s. I did get a little pissed at Holly B this time because she wouldn’t take my damn out of state check, and I didn’t have a debit card at the time, and she wouldn’t take my damn credit card either, and I would have spent about double what I did except for her stupid “I won’t take your stinking Oregon money” rules! Come on Holly. I take frigging credit cards on my iPhone. It’s not cute or nostalgic anymore to reject electronic money. It’s dumb. Anyway, I still love her baked goods, which is why I was so angry in the first place. I also had low blood sugar. Anyone who knows me can tell you that’s not a good thing. So try the cinnamon rolls, the almond butterhorn, and the ham/gruyere croissant. That should be all the butter you need for the day. I indulged once when I had run 11 miles, and once when I hadn’t . Which is probably why I haven’t really lost any of those pounds from all this training. Sigh.
We also love to go to the Farmer’s market on Lopez. There is both food and craft stuff, and I was really checking out the jewelry tables, trying to see how people displayed stuff creatively. I was a little bummed for all of the hippy/crafty/artistic people on Lopez that no one created their own. They were really all of the silver or velvet display variety. I had other plans.
We love to visit Odlin State Park one or more times when we are on the island. The beach is really lovely and sandy, different than the rocky beach by our cabin. The kids can play for hours, either with sand toys, or just running around checking out crab shells or jumping in the water. We also tried out Watmough Bay at the south end of the island again, after a several year hiatus. It’s another beautiful, off-the-beaten-path sort of beach. We heard a weird low buzzing sound when we pulled into the parking lot, and then hiked in a bit. We had brought a picnic lunch from another favorite food spot, Vita’s Wildly Delicious (quick aside: Vita’s makes delicious food that is shown in deli-cases daily, and you can either eat there, or take your food home with you and heat it up – definitely yummy, must try.) I think the bees smelled us from the moment we got the food out of the car. At first there were like 3, then 5, then 17, and then holy moly, it was time to get the hell out of Watmough Bay before they swarmed. My friend Ally refers to these as “meat bees” and they certainly were. I got stung for only the second time in my 36 years. I have to give myself a pat on the back for being really tough in front of my kids. I didn’t want them to go around freaking out about bees all the time, so I was just like “dangit, I got stung” while inside I was crying and writhing in pain. I was surprised at how long that sucker hurt! So, Watmough Bay is beautiful, but maybe not in August. Or maybe just without food.
Keith, and now Knox’s favorite pastime on Lopez is catching crab. The last time we went up, it wasn’t crab season, and this time, I could feel the tension radiating off my husband on the way up there. In his mind, you must get on the appropriate ferry at all costs, so that you get to the island in time to get crab bait, license, pots, and boat ready so that you can drop pots as soon as humanly and legally possible. This was done. Luckily for me, we had rental neighbors next door, and I batted my eyelashes at the “Big Strong Men” and asked them to help my husband carry that heavy boat down to the beach. I did this when the boat needed carrying back up as well. I’m a feminist, but this was no time to show how strong I was. It’s a pain in the ass getting that boat up and down. So, they caught crab. And more crab. And Knox loves it. He loves catching it, helping clean it, and eating it. Last year he liked all but eating it, but this year his tastebuds must have changed, because he was downing that stuff like it was water. Cracking it himself too! Impressive for a 5 year old I think. Ella gave it a valiant effort, but I could see her dry heaving when she took the bite. It was so sad/tough all at once. She really tried to like it. Maybe next year.
This post seems to be all about food. I’m hungry I guess. But we really eat better up there than we do any other time of the year. It’s usually summer, and there are organic farmers on the island, who also raise and butcher meat. I feel very local/sustainable/organic when we eat up there. We frequently visit the Lopez Island Farm Stand, where there is beautiful produce, meat, and flowers available, with a CASH BOX that is on the HONOR SYSTEM, people. Can you believe that? You pick your stuff, weigh it, and put money in the cash box. It just makes you feel like the world isn’t so bad when you see this. I try to make one or two meals that are completely local when we’re there. It’s not hard when there is so much beautiful, colorful, healthy food available at your disposal. I think this time we had these beautiful french fingerling potatoes, some cauliflower, and some beef.
But back to the real reason for this post – the jewelry that I was making for the race. The whole time we were eating this beautiful food and relaxing on the Island, in the back of my mind I was thinking “I have to run 13.1 miles on Sunday, and I have to have all of these necklaces done, and I have to have a display for my necklaces because Andrea is giving me a table to display them at! Holy shit!” I haven’t pushed myself like this for a long long time. Even at my “real” job where I was for 10 years, I didn’t put this much oomph into anything. I guess it really matters when it’s your own name on the line. So we went to the dump, and I asked Keith to leave me there so I could peruse the “Mall” section. It’s so awesome. It’s like Lopez Freecycle. You take the stuff you would normally donate to Goodwill and donate it to your neighbors instead. I knew I could find something to work with for my displays. And I did. Two old, glassless frames and a big old pickle jar. I had some ideas gleaned from Pinterest. A frame or two with mesh or chicken wire on the back, to hang lots of necklaces from, and maybe a jar filled with beach rocks and some beautiful branches that I could also hang necklaces from.
I found my frames and a lovely (actually really hideous) muslin-looking dress that I could cut up for the fabric backing behind the chicken wire, I just needed to find mesh and some spray paint, and branches, and rocks….I was mostly worried about spray paint. I made Keith take me to the hardware store. There I found some lovely blue ENGINE PAINT.
I figured it might work. And in my MIL’s utility shed, I found some beautiful chicken wire! I was really stoked about this, because I had no idea where I might find mesh on the island. Chicken wire is kind of a bitch to cut and position, if you were ever thinking about using it for a project. But I spray painted those frames, and attached the chicken wire in some very jerry-rigged ways. I figured the backs wouldn’t get looked at that much. And then I conned my sweet husband into building some kind of supports for the back of the frames so that they would actually stand on a table. I called it “Design Star Lopez”. I think the neighbors thought we should just drink a beer and relax.
And then I worked on the branches display as well. Made the kids collect rocks with me. Spray painted the branches with some other kind of engine paint, I think. I kept thinking about the Young House Love Blog and how Sherry is obsessed with ORB (Oil Rubbed Bronze) paint right now, and my engine paint really had an ORB feeling to it. It gave the branches a consistent color with just a little sheen.
I didn’t get a great close-up of the branch display. It looks pretty ugly in this photo, but at the table in the end it did look nice. It is not a PORTABLE display in any sense of the word, however. We pretty much threw the branches away at the end of the race. More branches can probably be found in Portland. Maybe.
So we put these together throughout the week, and by the end I think we were both happy with our mostly-free table display! Our friend Sam, who lived another life as an engineer, came over and helped Keith screw in the frame backs the night before the race. We were all cracking up at how crappy these things were, but definitely functional for someone with zero budget!
Here’s the finished product:
It was fun to use very little in terms of purchased materials and come up with something so practical that looks pretty decent.
And as for the rest of my time, it was spent bent over the little kitchen table, gluing, coating, and pouring resin on these babies!
The race registrations kept coming in throughout the week before the race, which kept Andrea and I both on our toes! She would let me know that she needed 25 more, and I’d get my little factory going again. It got to the point where I ran out of supplies and had to order some online and hope to God they got to my house before the race. I also enlisted the services of Paper, Scissors on the Rock, a local office supply store. I was really really happy that they had a color printer so that I could print some more of the Run Girl Run logos. I would have been lost without them!
The medals really weren’t completely finished until the Friday before the race. It was a little nervewracking for me, and I’m sure for Andrea as well, as she is quite possibly the most organized person I’ve ever met. But the medals arrived on time, and were handed out to some very happy race finishers. I received so much positive feedback, and it was really fun seeing all that hard work being worn around these athletic ladies’ necks! I was proud of them, and proud of myself.
In the end, I’m glad I won’t be vacationing while trying to accomplish all of those things EVER AGAIN. Timing might not have been the best, but we did have a lovely time despite all of the crafting and jewelry-making, and I felt a huge sense of accomplishment for both my own race, and the new level I took my little business to that fine summer day. Thanks to Andrea Moore for inspiring me to accomplish something I might not have envisioned for myself!
And go to Lopez, people. But not too much. Just enough to get Holly B to take our credit cards.
Some pretty photos of the island:
I will have to admit that this IS an overly long blog post.