Wednesday, August 12, 2009

la via rhodia

"I do not write it to survive
My mortal self, but being alive
And full of curious thoughts today,
It pleases me somehow to say,
'This book when I am dead will be
A little faint perfume of me.'"

~ (Maine author)- Edna St. Vincent Millay, Journal

The pilgrim journey of jots and jumps makes an ephemeral diversion, with a welcome to my dear home, Portland, Maine. The small city cradled upon the Atlantic waves of Casco Bay was ever beloved by native Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (whose home is pictured above).
This small coastal state, at the northeasternmost corner of the U.S., has been home to numerous writers and artists. This visit, however, has a scribbler's twist: we begin by crossing the street from Longfellow's house...

Endeared to artists, writers, and list-makers are the French-made, famously orange Rhodia pads. This one (above) is at the Art Mart (pronounced Aht Maht). These writing pads are all over Portland.

At left in the above photo is our 202 year old signal tower, which is on Congress Street. Below (as well as the lead photo at the top of this entry, with the "Rhodia roof") is an example of West End architecture.

...of his home town, Longfellow wrote:

"Often I think of the beautiful town
That is seated by the sea;
Often in thought go up and down
The pleasant streets of that dear old town,
And my youth comes back to me."

The folks at Artist & Craftsman Supply kindly encouraged my photographing for this essay. The store, located near the University of Southern Maine, is a cavernous emporium of calligraphic treats, among other wares for creative pursuits.

Amidst aisles of paints, canvas, clay, and captivating novelties, are all things graphite, ink, and paper.

Beside the Revere Street counter, a second Rhodia display- conveniently near the supply of journals and yet more arrays of pens. Now to the East End of town.

Visitors to Portland may take note of our orange and black taxicabs.

A Portland tourist information guide makes helpful notes.
To landmarks and lobster dinners the purveyed perforated pages prompt !

Pencil only
, in the famous Portland Room, at the Portland Public Library.

Maine's official beverage is Moxie, invented here in 1884. I describe this as "root beer with viscosity," and Rhodia's colors are complementary to the imbibement of Moxie.

The Portland Museum of Art is a cleverly successful I.M. Pei design, in plenty of Maine granite and brick. Locals such as the Wyeths, Edward Hopper, and Winslow Homer are among the artists represented here, along with an eclectic spectrum of works of art.

... and finally to misty Portland Head, note-inspiring to legions of thinkers and artists.

On a stroll here, Longfellow reflected:

"The rocky ledge runs far into the sea,
And on its outer point, some miles away,
The Lighthouse lifts its massive masonry,
A pillar of fire by night, of cloud by day."


with special thanks:
ABC Taxi Company, Art Mart, Artist & Craftsman Supply, Greater Portland Landmarks,
Maine Historical Society, Le Papier Gourmet, Paper Patch, Portland Public Library,
scrivening allies across the country at Rhodia Drive.


Mike Speegle said...

That's it. I'm moving to Maine. Don't try and stop me.

Anne said...

Looks like a lovely city, thanks for the tour!

James Watterson said...

Those are some really great shots Spec! That artist supply shop looks dangerous. There are a lot of teachers supply stores out here but I'm looking for a little corner store like that to satisfy me. I miss the east coast fog as well!!!

Strikethru said...

Would love to see (the other) Portland some day.

Love the Rhodia pencils and the taxicab. I am very partial to Rhodias and so I enjoyed the photographs.

speculator said...

Thanks, gang!
Come on over! You're always welcome.

Gabriella said...

Thanks for the tour.
Beautiful city :)

I didn't know of the Rhodia notebooks - I use moleskines which I suppose are the same thing.

mpclemens said...

Moleskines have all the cache of Rhodia without the paper quality. My "portable plot device" is a Rhodia #11 grid pad (A7 size) and a fountain pen.

I mourn the loss of stationery shops at the hands of the big box retailers like Borders and Target, which are the only local places I can get those delightful orange and black pads.

Elizabeth H. said...

This one (above) is at the Art Mart (pronounced Aht Maht).

Made me smile. Ah, New England!

Really enjoyed this one! Love the content, love the poems (I need more Longfellow....), love the photos. Thank you!

Gabriella--I like the Moleskine format (the sizes, the hard covers and the way they open flat), but the Rhodia paper is entirely different. Wonderful stuff--very smooth, and fountain pen / roller ball ink doesn't bleed through or feather. Moleskine paper can be pretty variable.

And you have to love the bright orange!

speculator said...

Elizabeth! Thank-ya dee-ah!

I wonder if you and James (Olympiaman) ever get any comments for your New England accents.
Mine is a bit muted, being that English is my 2nd language.

James Watterson said...

Oh you don't even know. I work at a restaurant and everyone including the customers notice it. Then they askk what are you doing way out here? It's like ahh I moved...Lol

speculator said...

LOL, James! That is some wicked.

James Watterson said...

I love wicked!! Thats awesome that you use it as well. Thas wicked pissah they say in boston.

Monda said...

Geez. You live in heaven. With coats and art shops and everything. Makes me seriously want to relocate.

My accent would never fly up there, though.

Fine. You've all talked me into buying a Rhodia notebook.

Elizabeth H. said...

For better or worse, having been raised (and largely homeschooled) by Midwestern parents, with the exception of a few odd word choices, I tend to sound more like I'm from Madison, WI or a middle-class Chicago area household than New England. It's odd, actually--I picked up pronunciations that even my siblings don't use, like "melk" for "milk" if I'm not thinking about it, and "wush" for "wash". They make fun of me for it...I'm not even sure which parent I inherited 'em from.

Some of the regional accents seem to be dying away these days. Younger Vermonters, even, don't have the almost rural-British-Isles style accent of the old folks--softening r's so that art becomes "aht," as you said, and drawing words like "down" into almost two syllables...kind of "day-oon". The old farmer down the road from us would say he was going "day-oon t' bahn" for "down to the barn". I loved listening to him talk.

Sorry to go on so long. It's just a subject I find wicked fascinating. ;-)

speculator said...

Monda- you'd be a celebrity here.
All you have to do is show up (courteousness always a plus), and you'll fit right in! Lots of writers and visual artists throughout the state, and Boston is just 120 miles away.

"Coats?" Did you mean Coast?
We got both- but no coats needed at least until the snow flies!

Sharon Goemaere said...

Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your lovely city with us!Husband and I live about an hour south of the"other"Portland.:-)I especially loved the pic of the row of homes covered in snow!Simply lovely!Blessings~Sharon

Katie said...

I want to move to Maine after reading this post! I've enjoyed your posts even more lately, I didn't think it was possible but it's true. Thank you, thank you, thank you.