Life lovely, problem, no!
My friend, designer Mimi Robinson, founder of Bridging Cultures through Design, explained where she first heard the phrase, while we were having lunch last week, catching up after both returning from New York. On one of her many travels around the world she found herself in Luxor, Egypt where you can sail boats out to little islands on the Nile. Sailors sit on their boats waiting for customers, and call out, ” Life lovely, problem, no! Do you want to go to Banana Island?”
My sentiments exactly, thinking about the whirlwind summer I’ve had. In June my daughter Olivia, and sister Jenny and I drove out to Colorado to see our sister Kris, who we hadn’t seen in years. We camped along the way, in Tahoe and then Great Basin, Nevada, before reaching Georgetown where we were treated to lovely rooms at the local inn. We toured the gold mining town including the mine itself, river rafted down the babbling creek and had wonderful meals with Kris and her family. The drive home took us through Santa Fe, Flagstaff and Las Vegas where Olivia and I hit the strip while Jenny visited friends. Liv and I won $200 off a dollar slot machine and then promptly lost half of it with a speeding ticket! While we were glad to finally arrive back home, we no doubt had some great adventures and connected with family in a real way that Facebook can’t.
But my craziest summer adventure was in August when I went to New York to attend the International Gift Fair for my work withKeena and 12 Small Things. My best friend from highschool, Deb Boardman, had rented a cottage on Cranberry Island in Maine, and invited me to join her family for a few days. Procrastinating plans as to how to get there, I decided to figure it out when I arrived at Newark airport. Probably wasn’t the smartest idea. The rental cars were even more expensive than I’d been quoted online. The train schedule was impossible to make connections. A direct flight was over $1000 and all booked anyway. Starting to panic, I jumped on the next Amtrak and decided to wing it.
I arrived at South Station at 10:30 pm and took a cab in the rain across the twinkly lit Boston Commons to South Station where I had a delicious lobster roll and glass of wine at a pub. My train to Portland Maine left at 11:30 and arrived in Maine at 2:00 am in the midst of a huge thunder and lightning storm. I figured I’d hang out in the train station until I could take a bus to Bangor, when the manager told me the station was closed for the night. He asked me, after everyone else had left the station, why a woman like me wouldn’t have plans for the night? No good answer. He told me if I walked along the highway I could reach the main street that would take me to Denny’s, the only place open 24/7. I walked on the median strip in a downpour under crackling, thundering skies, until I finally hit the safety of the sidewalk, only to be further soaked by a bank’s errant sprinklers.
Never so happy to see the sun creep over the parking lot, I caught the Greyhound bus to Bangor and Bar Harbor, where I met my friends for lunch and took the ferry to Cranberry Island. Our three days on the island were spent updating each other on our lives, sharing past memories, and enjoying the landscape and locals. We toured the studio of one of the island’s artists, Ashley Bryan, whose collection of puppets and dolls made me deliriously happy, as a former puppet maker. I also got to know Deb’s family a little more through our island walks, morning yoga, home cooked dinners and Scrabble games. My visit ended all too soon, but thanks to better instructions, I was able to get back to New York with one expensive cab ride and two cheap buses to Boston and then Chinatown, that dropped me off right near my Air B&B in the East Village.
My last stop was at the Piers to visit the Artisan Resource Center organized by my friends Karen Gibbs and Colvin English of By Hand Consulting. They did a wonderful job of helping different artisan organizations showcase their products to potential retailers interested in importing products from the various countries. I met my artisan group from Haiti who were showing their beautiful embroidery on nightgowns I featured this summer. I also saw Silvia Moreira working with Ian and Lucrecia from La Casa in Guatemala, who produced a beautiful collection of woven pillows and throws as part of the Zero Hunger project. Keith Recker from Hand/Eye Magazine also had a booth there where he was talking with Mimi Robinson about the concept of “Slow Crafts;” wait three months and enjoy them for a lifetime!