Fiber College

Fiber College is an event that crystallized from a fertile mixture of eco-tourism, agri-tourism, cultural tourism and self indulgence. It’s all about being outdoors in the Fall sunshine, learning new skills and techniques related to all things fiber (think rug hooking, spinning, knitting, quilting, needlework, basketry and…so much more) and relaxing with friends old and new. The College is as authentic as we are…it’s all volunteer, affordable and high quality.

beckymarlee.jpgYesterday I drove to Winthrop (one hour and 15 minutes inland no matter how you drive) where we juried the class proposals and decided which classes would be offered at this year’s event. There were 6 strong opinions in the room and we spent hours debating the relative merits of each class, how tightly we needed to stick to the guidelines (why don’t people read the rules and just follow them?) and how much of a balance we could achieve across the different disciplines (too much knitting? not enough crewelwork? too little hooking?) You get the idea. In this first photo, Marlee, on the right, organized all of the instructor applications and our jurying slide show. Becky, on the left,jurymarleecynthia.jpg took a vacation day from work to help us with the class selections. In the second photo, Cynthia on the right, came to give us a quilter/needleworker’s perspective on the choices in front of us. The third photo is Emma…she was our hostess, the maker of quiche and coordinator of students and volunteers. Absent from these photos but a big part of the process is Dee, next time she won’t escape my camera lens.

Seven hours later I hopped back into Clifford the big red truck and drove home with my head spinning…but very pleased. When we put the call out for instructors there’s always the worry that people won’t respond, the classes emmajpg.jpgwill be boring or we won’t have enough to offer…yet again a lesson in not worrying about the outcome…yesterday we evaluated 48 classes and struggled to cut it down to the necessary 38…but we did it…and we enjoyed a great lunch of quiche and homemade rolls! Keep an eye on http://www.FiberCollege.org. We will have final confirmations from our artist instructors by next week and the classes should be on line by April 21st.

Happy Easter to All!

There’s still enough snow on the ground to allow us the luxury of staying inside even though we open in about a month…as they say, there’s no point in fighting with Mother Nature. So today I’ve sat and spun and knit most of the day while Steven finished up some graduate classwork left over from his Cuban trip.

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Yesterday we went to an auction in Belfast to benefit the Pine Tree Summer Camp scholarship fund. The room was packed and everyone was having a good time. We bought some things we needed anyway like a truck load of gravel and 1000 board feet of lumber but we also came home with3 dozen homemade chocolate chip cookies and a Jenny Lind bed positively dated to 1910…of course I don’t need a Jenny Lind twin bed but the spindle work was too nice to pass up…does anyone out there want a beautiful Victorian bed? It will be waiting in our already crowded garage.

I’m still working on the brochure/rack card…my ideas just don’t seem to gel. David T made an interesting comment on the rack card question when he said that he considers brochures worth the time to keep and file because they contain enough information to make them useful. He considers rack cards a throw away item because of their limited content…please, if you’re reading this, weigh in on this issue…I need to have something printed before we open Mother’s Day weekend.

Honor the child inside…eat some chocolate today!

Steven in the deep snow

“They” predicted 3-5 inches of snowfall as a result of last night’s storm…this is what we got:

I love snow days! They’re like little breathing breaks sanctioned by Mother Nature.  Evenlooking towards Belfast though I’m an office of one, there’s still a change in the atmosphere when the unanticipated occurs.

This morning the phone wasn’t ringing.  I used the time to spin a portion of my luscious Leicester wool (I dyed some of it peach, watermelon, cherry red and apricot in anticipation of Spring)  while the snowflakes floated down in front of the windows. Spinning is a wonderfully useful outlet for me because while my hands are busy,  my mind can work out whatever creative challenges are at hand.

Right now it’s the brochure I’ve bp4030010.jpgeen procrastinating on during the past month.  This afternoon I should have a solid draft finished for review and a final draft by tomorrow night…but I think our new publicity piece will be a rack card.  I believe that most people ask for a brochure for one of two reasons: either they have been to the park and they want something to keep in their files for future reference or they ask for one before they decide to camp here…sort of as proof that we’re a real business.  If my observations are correct, then a rack card will be a cost effective way to remember the park or impart confidence on a prospective guest.  What are your thoughts?  I still have time to change our direction if I’m missing something.

Stewardship

bigrv.jpgHere at Searsport Shores, we see camping in every form. Guests arrive with sleeping bags for the back seats of cars, tents of every descripition and RV’s from tiny trailers to $800K+ motorhomes. Our mission is to provide sites for everyone who wants to spend time walking the beaches and gardens on Penobscot Bay. We see ourselves as a wonderful homebase for hanging out and daytripping to the mountains, islands and interior farmlands. Generally speaking, we expect you to stay at least 3 nights, are pleased when you stay a week and thrilled if we can keep you for 3 weeks.

site 1Depending on which one of us you talk with, you’ll hear a different picture of the nicest campsites in the campground. Dad definitely prefers the big pull throughs behind the rec hall. They’re huge, gravelled and built for the largest RV’s on the road. Steven will direct you to sites 1, 2 and 51…they boast beautiful littlebridge to tenting area perennial gardens and showcase some lovely rock work.  My favorite part of  the park is the walk in tenting area. You bring your gear over a bridge to your site with garden carts. The lack of vehicular traffic lends itself to daydreaming and glasses of chilled wine. My cabin is in this part of the park and the land is covered with a mixture of oaks, firs and 4′ high ferns.

A long time ago we made an agreement as a family to steward the land. Our challenge has been to preserve its integrity while upgrading the park to accomodate the needs of today’s campers. This has meant that we’ve resisted cutting trees for wider roads but instead limb them for a 12′ clearance. We’ve chosen not to pave the parking lots in order to allow for natural run off and deliberately limit the number of campsites we feel the land can support. Everything is a trade off and by taking a more green approach we’ve been able to assure that our guestsOak Lane can still pick apples from heirloom trees harkening back from when this land was a farm in the 1800’s. Sometimes we lose potential guests because we refuse to exceed the capacity of the land by allowing tents in areas where the ferns will be trampled or large RV’s in places where a pop-up is better suited…these decisions aren’t always easy to defend while I’m talking on the phone to someone in East Osh Kosh but if they decide to come, they quickly learn that there’s a method to our madness.

Seven Days a Week

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The good news is that when you work for yourself, sometimes you can schedule your own hours. The bad news is that when you work for yourself it’s possible to work 7 days/week every moment that you’re awake.

But if you’re lucky, it doesn’t usually feel like work. Yesterday couple of us wanted to touch base and have a marketing meeting before the season is upon us…so the ladies came over here, I made homemade doughnuts (nutmeg and lemon…OMG they were good) and we discussed July and August with cappuccinos and doughnuts in hand. Because we’re women with a plan, we ended the agenda on a quick beach walk to Moose Point State Park. For some this would sound like a playdate, but honestly, who decided that conference calls were the way to go?
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Today we took advantage of the good weather before the sleet and snow returns tomorrow. Steven and I planned carefully…Computer time until 11 and the day had started to warm, then we made a brunch of Pad Thai, and while I found the picnic blanket Steven got the tractor and all the necessary tools together. We ate in the sunshine on top of the seawall and then we got to work. Every year we suffer a certain amount of Mother Nature’s “winter pruning”…the branches and trees that fall from the wind and the weight of the snow and ice. We chip most of it in order to mulch the gardens and walking trails, but the rest we burn on the beach.  Today was the perfect afternoon for a bonfire and a chance to clear out our Christmas boxes and junk mail…our first of the 2007 season!

icebergjpgWorking a campground requires so many skills…in the Spring it’s all about landscaping and tonight my muscles are reminding me I’m not yet in “campground shape”. But as long as there are still iceburgs in the bay, I can hide in my bulky sweaters and pretend that I’ll work off the extra doughnut before the sun goes down.

Feeds

Last week Sarah wrote and asked what “subscribe to feed” meant at the bottom of this blog.  Being new to the whole thing I wasn’t sure but I promised to figure it out.  It’s really easy.

If you like this blog or any other, when you click subscribe to feed, you’re given options where you’d like the blog to go on your computer.  If you choose tool bar then you’ll have a short cut to that blog on your in your tool bar.  Try it…it feels like magic and if you don’t like the results, if you right click on the button (in my case Life On Penobscot Bay) you can choose delete and it will all go away.

As we say around here, wicked cool!

The Boston Gift Show

After visiting the Beau Chemin Farm on Saturday, my world spun 180 degrees and I was in Boston on Sunday for the Wholesale Gift Show. Shopping for the gift store is both fun and scary. A long time ago we decided that we don’t want the usual stuff you find in a campstore. So we don’t carry the mugs, t-shirts and hats that you find everywhere…like us, the whole mix is very eclectic. Sure we carry all of the necessary RV supplies and the usual assortment of toothpaste, shampoo and sunscreen but right now I’m talking about the other stuff…things you choose for friends and family and could probably live without.

Purusing the wholesale show is fun because when I buy gifts for the campground, I’m actually walking around with guests in my head. It’s also one of the rare times I spend alone with my sister because I always beg her to come along and offer a second, often restraining opinion. (Now that I think about it, part of my exhaustion at the end of the day could be due to my split conversations…those with my Sister Chris and the simultaneous ones with our summertime guests…another scary thought;)) Everything I look at goes through these filters: …is it unique? will the recipient smile? does it look more expensive than it really is? In my head you need to bring gifts home to office friends, grandchildren, pet sitters and for the Christmas stash…OR…I’ve found the gift that makes your heart sing and I want one too (and that’s a whole other catagory).

While shopping for the store I buy lots of kids toys…the ones that are under $5, provide hours of entertainment and are mostly forgotton after the ride home…but the fun is trying to decide which treasure to choose and that can take hours and many trips to the shop. In the same area I try to include better toys that offer some educational value and good memories of the trip long after you’ve headed back to the real world…things like ocean bingo and pressed flower kits.

For small gifts destined to pet sitters and office mates I try for items that brighten the world in a small way, provide a laugh and cost under $15. This year I found the coolest holographic rulers, some beautiful tiles for trivets and wall displays and handblown glass items made in Maine. My favorite find this yearthestore.jpg are kits designed by a school teacher originally from Franklin, Maine (WAY Downeast). Everything is included in the kit to make a basket, a doll, an embroidered piece, a drop spindle or a weaving. Clearly Jan (the creator) understands two things…we need great instructions and we want to have everything on hand when we start a project…and the fact that the kit sells for under $15 makes it a great bargain…either to do in the park while you’re sitting at the beach or as a gift for someone who wasn’t lucky enough to come to Searsport this summer.

If this sounds like your idea of a great job, just remember its got a definite downside. You can only choose 1/100000th of the stuff that’s on the market. Just like in the everthing else, the stuff your really want to bring home is too expensive or not appropriate. Talk about anxiety, I always worry that my taste is too funky or that my choices won’t blend nicely in the store and I’ll have to keep the stuff forever. Of course there’s the money issue. Usually I need to meet minimum orders of at least $250 for wholesale prices and believe me, before very long we’re gambling with tens of thousands of dollars…that takes my breath away just writing the words.

So when you buy something in our shop and I seem overly happy as I wrap it up in bright tissue paper and slip it into a bag that I designed…remember that you’re not just buying a souvenir, you’re confirming that my taste was good…you’d be surprised at how easily I can take everything very personally…I’ve never been very good at being detached.

So much to tell…

Saturday we went to the most wonderful farm in Waldoboro, Sunday I drove to Boston for the Wholesale gift show, Monday I walked 5 miles with my sister-in-law near her home in Milton and then had lunch and a play date with my sister and two nephews Nicholas and Daniel and then drove home in the pouring rain. Tuesday I played catch up on e-mail and phone calls and tried to nurse a sick computer back to health…I know this is a “run on sentence” but its the best way to describe a run on weekend. Life on Penobscot Bay can be hectic but it usually doesn’t involve a lot of travel over roads with more potholes than pavement.

I want to catch up a bit and show you our trip to the Beau Chemin Farm in Waldoboro Maine (http://beaucheminfarm.com). Waldoboro is about 1 hour South of us on Route one…if you look on a map it’s between Bath and Camden.  As a daytrip it should be considered a gold star destination if you enjoy curious sheep, handsome poultry, Maude the Suffolk Punch draft horse and a Randall Cow.

Jo and Wayne Meyers are a delightful couple with an awesome mission…to conserve a working farmstead, endangered heritage breeds of livestock, heirloom varieties of vegetables & flowers, old buildings, soil and woodlot.

The Meyers have opened their farm and their hearts to people who drive in the 3.5 miles from Route 1. There are self guided walking trails, signs explaining the types of animals who may be sniffing at your fingers and if you plan ahead you will be welcome to demonstrations in spinning, wool processing & dyeing and guided farm tours. I came home with a love of the Meyers and 2 pounds of Leicester Longwool wool…creamy white ringlets…enough for an eventual sweater once I get it spun and dyed (we all have a carrot at the end of the stick…for me it’s the pile of wool waiting in the basket by the window).

In season there are pick your own raspberries, farmstand vegetables and fresh eggs. Ask nicely and see if you can’t visit the Khaki Campbell Ducks…you won’t be sorry.

For an odd reason, my photos won’t load onto this blog post so I’m sending them flicker and you can see them there.

Always a surprise!

wavelogo.jpgDo you walk through life knowing that there’s always a surprise lurking behind a tree somewhere? I do…and I’m seldom wrong…yesterday it came in the form of Spring floods. Like most of the Northeast, we’ve had alot of rain during the past 10 days. Of course the ground is still frozen solid under the inch of mud, think of it as a very thick layer designed to make every step precarious. It’s a good beginning for a flood, but follow the rain with a couple of warm days and it’s a guarantee.

The ground water needs to get to the ocean… sometimes it follows the campground roads, sometimes it chooses a new path…yesterday it chose pool up in the store and rec hall…My plan had been to surprise Steven with a coffee break in the afternoon sun (the first chance of the season). Reality was different. As soon as he got home from school we spent quality hours with a wet vac and broom instead of fresh muffins and coffee…doesn’t that seem wrong to you too?loriterrylisajim-2005.jpg

But before our tiny disaster struck, I got a version of our logo completed. Here it is and please tell me what you think. I’m going for an image that says: friendly atmosphere, sophisticated enough for wi-fi and amenities but casual enough for you to want to vacation here…so much meaning in a couple of squiggly lines 🙂

Our original logo can’t be that bad because it has brought so many wonderful people to our doorstep. Meet Lorie & Terry, Jim & Lisa from wine country NY. Lorie e-mailed this perfect July afternoon postcard.

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If I were to venture a guess, it was taken from the door of one of their tents or as Jim lounged in the hammock while Lisa brought him a drink.

Jack of all trades…

It’s a sparkling day on the Maine coast but I’m hiding behind my computer for the next few hours. I’m not sure how it is for you, but in my world, I read and hear how I’m supposed to do whatever task is at hand, I try to do it the “right way” and sooner or later end up right back where I started.

Back in February I announced that we needed an updated logo and a new brochure for the campground. I struggled with the logo, bought several design books, scanned the internet for some really terrific ideas, drew a couple of drafts and then got bogged down with the details.

So I procrastinated for the next 3 weeks. With brochure requests coming in daily, I know I have to get my head out of the sand. We can’t print a new brochure without the new logo and soon I’ll run out of our dwindling stock.

In a burst of efficiency, I decided it was time to get some help. ALL of the business magazines I read warn entrepreneurs to avoid the trap of trying to do everything themselves. You know, pay an expert and get what you pay for. So I followed the advice and made an appointment with a small but very reputable design firm. We had a nice chat and when I left the designer told me to expect a job quote by Wednesday…it felt great…like an adult with a real business…I was going to be a client. To make a long story very short, I got the quote and I’m back to designing my own logo.

Who can afford $185 to have a “kick-off creative meeting”? That’s just the beginning…the proposed logo for my little campground was going to cost a grand total of $1602.50 plus expenses. I understand the importance of image and everything but come on! Are you really going to decide to stay at my campground because my logo is cool? If you have an opinion, either way, please write into the comment section so I can hear your thoughts…if I’m wrong, I’m willing to admit it and back track.

In the meantime, I’ve got my adobe books out, Dad and Steven have chosen their favorite of 4 layouts and I’m off to work. If I “paid” myself $10/hour, I figure I’ve got 160 hours to make the logo acceptable In my next post I’ll show you what I’ve developed….

Jack of all trades, master of none 😉

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