Monday, March 30, 2015

My Brackets

*At the risk of boring most of my readers, today's blog will be about my NCAA basketball brackets.

How are YOUR Brackets doing?
Mine? Thanks for asking. After 60 games, I've had 37 winners and 23 losers. Luckily again this year, I'm doing it just for fun. No $$$$$ involved. Now in the past at work, UNLV('90), University of Arkansas ('94) and Kansas University ('08) have sent me home with over $120 in my pocket. I always pick my spots. I'm not a basketball fanatic. I follow NCAA basketball through the winter on the peripheral only. My favorite conference is the BIG10. There are 4 teams left Wisconsin, Kentucky, Michigan State and Duke. Two BIG10 teams are left Wisconsin and Michigan State. The University of Kentucky is 38-0 and the odds on favorite to take it all Monday April 6 in the National Championship Game in Indianapolis.
Like I say, I play it for fun (37-23).
Elenka played again this year too (28-32).
No idea what she played it for.
My selections were based on records, logical guesses and a few long shots.
Before she made her choices, I offered some suggestions.
She wanted NO part of my help.
Elenka's choices were made based on states she's visited or would like to visit.
She STILL ended up with 28 winners so far.
Yikes!
So much for the odds.
I'm shaking my head now.
How does she do it?
*btw Yes, I've got UK in that last game.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Dog Park

The city has a couple dog parks. This one is on Valley Street, just below the West End. I took this early morning shot in late January. Don't panic. Even around here, the snow is saying bye-bye. I think most people love animals, to some degree. Marchin, as I remember, was never a real animal lover growing up, but Annie has won his heart... sort of. Bow Wow! I was listening to a radio station out of Boston the other day, and one of the guys went off on dog owners who have shirked their responsibility. Well, particularly owners who have neglected their 'duty' during the winter months. Now, even here in the Northeast part of the country, the snow is disappearing. However, the lack of snow is revealing a pretty messy and smelly scene. Seems that many dog owners, who diligently parade behind their pooch is the warm summer months with a scoop or a plastic bag over their hand, somehow think that if doggie takes a crap in the park or just off the sidewalk in winter's whiteness no 'pickup' is necessary. Apparently, they think the mess miraculously disappears before spring. 
Someone needs to give them a remedial course in pooch liability.
Winter Dog Care 101.
Just a simple reminder, that's all.
Big dog, big crap.
Little dog little crap.
It's all revulsion-filled.
Going for a walk with the cute puppy in winter?
Grab a plastic bag.
Hey, no matter if it smells or feels disgusting, gotta do it.
Like the pretty girl in high school.
Pick 'her' up! 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

5- Coyle Street

Why do we choose the roads we take?
Simple choices, can change our lives completely.
Case in point.
My parents purchased this home at 27 Coyle when we were still living on Stevens Avenue and rented it out for about 3 years to a family that Dad knew. My parents bought it for $13,000. That seemed a lot to me at the time. I struggled with the move away from Morrills Corner and many friends, but finally resigned myself that the move was inevitable. It happened. It was an ideal space for a family of six. We lived here through my memorable high school and college years. When we finally moved in, Mom let us select our own wallpaper. That was fun. My room was in the rear, second floor and I picked a treatment that featured Revolutionary War soldiers at attention. There were also cannons thrown in for good measure. When I headed off to college, my younger sister, Joanne, commandeered the room, and when I returned in the spring, I moved to the third floor. It was just me up there alone. I loved it. My room was in the middle of the side view on the third floor. I moved up a small TV, hotplate and some food. It even had a bathroom all to itself. It became my little world away from the craziness of the rest of the family. My oldest sister, Connie, called it 'the Monastery', and that was a perfect name. I'll end this with a funny story. When I graduated college with a BA in English, I needed to get my student teaching completed. I enrolled at USM and requested a  high school position, but all that was available was an 8 week internship at a middle school nearby. One afternoon I got a ride home with the first year art teacher. We were sitting on the front steps talking when Joanne came home. She rushed in the house searching for Mom. "Mom, Mom, do you see what's on the front steps... it's a girl... it's a blonde... with Mark. Mom, it's a girl!"
I don't make important decisions hastily.
And our lives take many twists and turns.
Mom and Joanne both got introduced that day.
Unbeknownst to them, they welcomed Elenka into our family that sunny April afternoon. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

4- Stevens Avenue

Life pushes always forward.
But if we might only linger...
I've been out of this house just about 48 years. That alone is an amazing fact of life. The summer before I entered the third grade we moved here to 820 Stevens Avenue. We lived here until I entered my sophomore year in high school. These were the days my friend. Yesterday's house was something, but if these walls could talk what fabulous stories they would tell. The baseball diamond in the backyard, endless bike rides, hanging on the Nelson's porch, working at Edna's,  sledding on ice well after 9PM, hockey games on the kitchen table, discovering the fair gender, kissing hide-and-go-seek, initiations into the Skeleton Club, late night 'runs' through the cemetery, the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, night basketball games in the driveway, playing army, tenting out mischief, riding out a hurricane in our tree fort and on and on and on... But the best part, the most important parts were the faces I saw most on a daily basis. Adventure, adventure, and more adventures off into the twilight. There was Teddy, Susan, Eddie, Leo, Judd, Judy, Brenda, Billy, Linda, Marty, Connie, Joanne, Cheryl, Scotty, Alana, George, David, Paul, Bobby, Lois, Buddy, Skipper, another George, me, and I've probably forgotten a couple.
Some people, places and things we NEVER forget.
Mention one of the names and so many wonderful memories come to mind.
We were so lucky to have found each other.
What a life we had.
And the music, the soundtrack...
I wouldn't trade in that experience.
Those truly were the days...
*Look a basketball hoop is still up. Really, the only thing missing is the wonderful wrap-around front porch. It was a beauty. My bedroom, second floor on right. I had a great view of all happening at the Corner.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

3- Washington Avenue

If you...
-love watching turtles sun themselves
-starting kindergarten
-building forts out of pine
-having birthday parties in the barn
-walking to buy penny candy with Dad
-listening to a Teddy Bear's Picnic on the radio
-climbing and exploring Elephant Hill
-making igloos out of ice-packed snow
-getting side-swiped by a car
-exploring the new house being built next door
-dressing up in your cowboy costume, six guns and all
-shutting your finger in a car door
-having a bedroom all your own
-seeing Dad pull in the driveway in the mail truck
-riding a school bus and punching a bus ticket
-having friends over for the night
-drinking lemonade on the front porch
-welcoming a baby sister and brother
-watching crows fly in the barn windows
-rummaging through cardboard boxes for old WW2 Bill Maldin cartoons
-climbing trees all over
-learning to ride my two-wheel bike on Lawrence
-driving Tonka trucks in Scotty's sand
-planting potatoes with Dad
-viewing rats raiding Mom's birdfeeder
-reporting to Dad about the huge tree that fell in Hurricane Carol.
... you would have loved 1022 Washington Ave.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

2- Allen Avenue

Chapter 2
Here we are at 199 Allen Avenue. We lived on the second floor, just the three of us. My years as a toddler were contained here. I really started making deposits in the memory bank in this two-decker. Dad was a salesman for Fuller Brush, and Mom worked part time as a waitress at a couple of Congress Street restaurants. This put this young whipper-snapper in the able hands of my grandparents serving as babysitters. I can remember having lots of fun turning the furniture upside down and with the help of blankets making little hideouts. We also played 'dress-up', where Nana Josie would dress me up with all sorts of odd ball combinations of clothes and snap pictures. This is the apartment where the classic shot of me covered head to foot in Grampa's over-sized clothes was taken. She called me her little Yankee Traveler, as I was draggin' an old suitcase around the livingroom too. I made my first friend while living here. Next door lived Billy H. We spent countless hours playing together, especially taking turns in his red pedal car. How I loved that contraption! Now, Allen Avenue was a main drag even back then, so Mom took precautions. She put me in some sort of harness mechanism and tied my to a swing set pole. Somewhere there is an actual photo that proves that deal was done. I wouldn't get away from there. Peter, a year older, had free range of the yard. I was tied down to restrict my movement. Like I'd get into any mischief. Right? Two houses down lived Sharon, my first real babysitter. She was in high school, and I fell in love. My first girlfriend? 
Dad bought his first new car while we lived here.
At least that's what he told me.
A black (weren't they all black) Buick.
While in the driveway, I'd sit behind the wheel and pretend to drive all over.
He parked it in that barn at night.
I wanted to investigate that structure.
Never got the chance.
Well, I can't remember ever getting in anyway.
I think I might have remembered that occurrence.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

1- Devon Street

Got a good memory?
How far back can you go with it?
Do you remember your first dwelling?
I don't, and I have a pretty good memory. I've tried hard over the years to pull up something from this place: a room, an event, some colored wallpaper, friendly faces. But I've got nothing. I'm drawing blanks.
I entered the 'blue' at Mercy Hospital at 6:41 AM on a warm July morning. I've always been a morning person, and I blame it all on that early delivery. We lived in an apartment house on Devon Street in the area of Nasons Corner. My only real recollections of this place are contained in a 'baby book' my Mom kept, Baby Days. Some of my vital statistics were that I weighed 7 pounds 14 ounces, was 21 inches long and was delivered by Dr. Ham. I was christened at St. Joseph's Church on August 8 by Father Lappin, and there was a party in my honor at my grandparents' house in Westbrook. Later that month on the 22nd, I took a taxis ride to St. Joseph's Convent to be introduced to about a million nuns. My Dad's aunt was a nun, hence the connection. I could fill you in all kinds of other crap about my first year, but for now this will have to suffice.
Come along with me this week as I venture down memory lane and visit the houses of my youth.
Where all the 'trouble' began.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Tapping Maples

Cold nights, warm days gets the job done!
Yesterday was Maine Maple Sunday. In years past, we've visited a few sugar shacks, but yesterday, although we thought about it, it was just too darn blustery and downright cold. I heard at one of the maple operations in the area that they use about 4 cord of wood to get their 'sweet sugar'. Can you just imagine how much maple syrup they bottle and sell? That's a lot of wood. My woodstove only gobbles about 2 1/2 cord all winter long. A little maple sugar trivia here. It takes 40 gallons of maple sap to get one gallon of pure maple syrup. If we had partook in the festivities yesterday, I probably wouldn't bought any syrup. What for, really. I'm not into pancakes. Once or twice a year, I'll get a bit frisky and want to make some blueberry pancakes, but that's about it. I can't remember the last time I ordered them at a restaurant. If I ever hit IHOP or Denny's for breakfast, it's usually for a big meal of eggs, homefries, wheat toast and some bacon or ham. 
As you can rightly see, I'm a sinner.
While those near me, from time to time, call into question my dietary habits, I think I'm pretty good.
Ya, I 'fall off the wagon' from time to time...
Pancaked!
Sweet.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Bike Racked

Small country town livin'.
Gotta love it.
These island bikes apparently have been locked up for months at the ferry terminal. A couple more weeks of freedom (sort of), and if they are not removed by their owners, their locks will be cut. The bikes will be repaired, if necessary, and sold or given away by the city. Here are a few more pressing problems faced by small town police nearby.
1.) Suspicious person reported on Great Falls Road was the homeowner shoveling his driveway.
2.) Five domesticated ducks had been abandoned by tenent. Officer left some food. Will check back.
3.) Animal Control Officer checked on a bull. It had food, water, shelter and did not appear in distress.
4.) Caller expressed concern about horses left out in the snow on Dow Road. Officer found that the horses had food, shelter, blankets and water.
5.) New Portland Road caller said she might have lost 40 quarters but was not sure.
6.) Suspicious person on the bypass had pulled over,  because a friend was vomiting.
These were just a few of the recent calls recorded on a local Police Blotter.
Country towns around here get a lot of snow, but the days are broken up by some humor too.
Small town livin'.
Gotta love it.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spring Stranded

Snow is melting in these parts, but looking day to day you'd be hard pressed to recognize it happening. This photograph was not pulled from my archives. It was taken yesterday, as spring broke. Like grass racing to be mowed in June, gaining those 8 pounds over the winter, or reaching another birthday, the refrain is usually the same. When did that happen? Heading into the city last night, Elenka and I both noticed that the snow cover is certainly, slowing receding. It's easy to see that the process though is lot slower on our front lawn and back yard then in other places along the way. Every year it's the same. No kidding. We must be in some snow belt region of town, because when we get hit, we get slammed. In mid-storm it's unrecognizable happening; however, during late March and early April when brown grass is rearing its ugly head on city lawns, we're usually still layered with melting snow.
Ah, but it's spring.
The daylight, still showing at 7 PM, tells me so.
A winter's grip...
This too shall pass.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fire Homage

Well, spring finally touches down here at 6:45 PM EDT this evening. Hey, Vernal Equinox. Where have you been? It's been a long wait, and even though the calendar says you've finally arrived, I'm holding my breath. I've been fooled before. And during the course of the day yesterday I thought I heard that ol' Mother Nature might have a nasty trick up her sleeve for the weekend. Now, I'm not really superstitious, but just to be on the safe side, I won't even utter that dreadful four letter word. This morning I'm paying homage to our trusty Vigilant woodstove that kept us company through another Maine winter. I'm feeding it less and less these days, and that's always a good sign come March. 
However, seeing brown grass across the front lawn is still weeks away.
And I hope to see a robin someday soon.
Melting in the driveway is always a very good sign.
April showers will help.
Winter, let go your mighty grip.
You've proved your point!
 8°F right now... 6:31AM.
I kid you not.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Josie

Meet Josie.
She is my grandmother.
She was a beauty.
I've always liked good stories. She was a great storyteller. The older she got the better the stories. In her later years, each time I visited she welcome me waving her cane in the air and requesting an 'audience' near her. When I sat down she'd begin to regale me on her favorite tale of her boyfriend, 'old man Dunn', when she resided on Prince Edward Island (PEI). As I recall, the punchline surrounded her pounding on an outhouse door and yelling to the inhabitant of same, "Are you Dunn?" She laughed so hard at the confusion between the "Are you Dunn?" and "Are you Done?" I'm still smiling right now. I was always chuckling around this lady. We celebrated her birthday on February 28th each year, because she claimed she was born the next day (Leap Year). After she passed, my Mom said, "What are you talking about? Nana was born on March 1st". I'm still confused on that one. She just loved playing with us. 
A joker right until the end.
I think my storytelling comes from her.
I've been told I have a sense of humor.
Again, lifeline travels from her.
What a gal!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Missing Hub

This late winter many roads around here have taken their toll. 'Deadly' potholes are everywhere!
Every spring they are big issues, but up here in my my corner of the world, it seems so much worse this year. There's a stretch I travel, and I'm willing to bet in one place there are holes in the pavement for about a half mile. This isn't any back road either. It's a main drag! If you're unlucky and come face to face with one, hopefully you only end up being out a hubcab (a removable plastic or metal cover for the wheel) like the silver sedan pictured here, but today even these are becoming pretty pricey. About three years ago, our Maxima was 'attacked' by a huge hole on Route 22. I was in traffic, and it came up out of nowhere. Well, at least that's my story. The passenger front tire hit it head on. It deflated fast. I pulled over and assessed the damage. I called AAA. They came changed the tire, and I was on my way. No problem, right? I'd get air in the tire and my local garage would pop it on, balance it, and my life would be back to normal. No so fast, buddy! The garage noticed that the tire had sustained a large gash. New tire needed. Expensive. Now, if it had only have ended there. On further inspection, the mechanic informed me that the steel wheel was dented beyond salvaging. So, new tire. Expensive! New entire wheel. VERY expensive!
I  called the Town Office to try to get some retribution. 
It wasn't for spite.
I really thought the size of the hole was their fault.
I had heard, in some cases, the town's insurance can cover a bit of the cost.
I was hoping.
Hoping against hope.
No dice.
I paid the price... ah, on Elenka's car. 
* But on the positive side, I like the colors of the two buildings here.

**btw my corn beef and cabbage meal, of last evening, was delicious!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Irish Step

I went to the St. Patrick's Day Parade in the city Sunday afternoon. It was blustery cold but without snow. Unlike parades in bigger cities, this one ran about 30 minutes, but with lots of Irish enthusiasm. The Stillson School of Irish Dance is a quite popular ensemble that got the crowd clapping, when they stopped to dance. I like to watch step dancing. When we hit Downtown Disney in Orlando, we always enjoy a visit to Raglan Road, a true Irish Pub, mostly built in Ireland and lugged over to the middle of Florida. They always have some fun dancing entertainment, while you're sipping a pint. Don't know what it is about it, but I can sit mesmerized and captivated watching Riverdance or Flatley's Lord of the Dance on PBS. Would love to see a show LIVE.
Maybe it's the loud, rhythmic sounds of tapping.
Maybe it's the costumes.
Maybe it's the hair.
Maybe all the Irish faces.
I'm under their spell.
Happy St. Paddy's Day!

I'm the cook tonight. I'm preparing corn beef and cabbage and all the fixin's for Marchin, Annie's Mom and Elenka. Wish me the 'luck of the Irish'.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Stroudwater Cracks

The Stroudwater River is 15.2 miles long from its source at Duck Pond in Buxton to here where it empties into the Fore River in the Stroudwater neighborhood. It's one of my favorite areas coming into the city. For me, it's one of the most picturesque spots around too, attached to a couple of memories that just won't fade away. I can count on one hand the number of times I've ever been fishing, but the first time was near the waterfall with my Grampa. Now, I kid you not. While he was flippin' perch on the bank, my only 'catch' of the afternoon was an old mud-filled black, buckled boot. A cliche´ but true. No wonder fishing and me don't get along, still. Near the waterfall, up on the hill, there used to be an old icehouse. On many a winter Saturday night out with the family, Dad's stationwagon would always seem to stop nearby to look at the ice. A couple of times in the evening, we actually saw some fellers on the ice cutting and sliding large pieces towards the icehouse.
These memories are fun to recall.
Yet, always touched with a tinge of sadness.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Oaks' Trees

Not Fair!
More snow!
Ok, it's just a dusting, here in Deering Oaks but still.
High today of 35°F.
Oviedo, Florida 87° yesterday.
Could we at least just split the difference? The city is having a St. Patrick's Day parade today. Ah, if only that little, red mercury line could just nudge 50. Is that too much to ask? I thought so. I'll be quiet now.
This dusting after a mid-week of tantalizing temperatures reaching the low 50s. Our piles of snow spent the week actually shrinking a bit.
Now this?
Life is not fair, and this is a perfect example of it. 
Sheeesh.
I'm whining.
Sorry.
I'm shutting up now.
One last thing- Elenka bought home a bouquet of daffodils yesterday.
Trying to change the karma here, I guess.

But... is it really too much to ask?
Ok, bad Birdman.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Dorm Life

Dorm life.
It was my life for four years.
Unlike countless, I loved it.
After Freshman year, when many of my friends were leaving the dorms behind and moving into apartments, I opted to stay behind. I'm really glad I did. I quite enjoyed living and eating my meals with many as opposed to a few. Three meals a day, and I didn't have to worry about shopping or preparing any meals. I must admit, I passed on most breakfasts, but made lunch and dinner religiously. Waking 5 minutes before an early morning class and still getting there on time was an added perk. Good suitemates and lots of friends just down the hall were all benefits that I took into consideration when deciding about my living arrangements. Soundproofed cubicles down the hall in the lounge afforded me the 'get-a-way' I needed to get my work done. The Library was but five minutes across a field, easily maneuverable in inclement winter weather of western New York state. It became my friend away from my room. Yes, there were late night 'adventures' that I partook in, and many a daylight antic that found me involved. No, we won't be going into them here.
Sorry.
Some culprits are still alive.
Some too stupid to recall.
Some embarrassing.
Some still better left mysterious.
* photo (USM dorm in Gorham)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Nailed

Last night we attended the University of Southern Maine's spring Juried Student Art Exhibition featuring artwork of 25 USM students. J- had one of his recent pieces selected to go into the show. This semester he is taking a sculpture course and is spending many of his hours in the metals' lab welding. This is not one of his pieces, but I like it, especially with the way the shadows were falling off of it. I'm reminded of hot July afternoons walking along the railroad tracks around Morrills Corner picking up discarded spikes like these to do God knows what with. Wait a minute. Something's coming back. We used them as tent spikes to hold our pup tents down on nights we were sleeping out, and of course getting into mischief.
Mom claimed my youth was a lot of 'peter pan'.
I recall it more along the lines of Huck Finn without the Big Muddy.
Maybe there was a little bit of both.
There.
Nailed it!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Stache Playbill

Grow 'em, if you got 'em.
It's all about the stache!
Really!
I've had mine since 1974.
Marchin grew one once. My Dad sported one too for a time. Heck, even J- had one for about a day and a half. When the Sgt. Pepper album made the scene in 1967, with the four mop tops all wearing them, I think everyone in my dorm grew them. Where am I going with this? Well, on March 27th at the State Theater there will be a celebration of facial hair at an event called Stache Pag. On display will be some of the most daring moustaches and beards in the city. It's a competition too. Prizes will be awarded in the categories of: Magnum PI- natural stache, no beards, 1899 Maine Legislature- styled moustaches, no beards. Wax, dyes and other aids allowed, the Castaway- full natural beard and the Thigh Tickler- freestyle facial hair, anything goes.
Sounds like a wild, fun time to me.
You know, those stache guys can be kinda crazy.
The stache is back!
* March 27th Happy Moustache Day in Portland!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Cove Chunks

Icebergs ahead.
Back Cove is iced in.
It's hazardous duty making your way along the shoreline of Baxter Boulevard these days. I saw on the news last night that along the shores of Nantucket Island, off of Massachusetts, huge chunks of ice have come ashore. In years past, I've seen shots of very large pieces creeping along the Great Lakes too. The pictures showed them about the size of Buicks. Now, along the shores of our Back Cove the ice has drifted up on the banks but nothing even compared to VWs let alone Buick6's. Little bitty hunks, that's all. As you can see also, even though the temperatures have been mid to high 40s this week and rumor has it they will inch over 50 today, Back Cove is still iced in and will be for a few more days.
Think positive. 
To the left in this photo is all open water to England. 
It's clear sailing, if you are so inclined.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Old Armory

I call it the family birthday blitz.
It begins with Judith, then moves to Aunt Gloria, Grampa, Joanne, Nana, Martin, Constance, Mom, Irv, Paulie, and Anna. It starts February 14th and stretches through this month of March. Not all of the family's birth dates but enough of them. It's quite a stretch. 
Happy Birthday to them all!
Here in the Old Port is the old State of Maine Armory, that was built in 1885 for the Maine National Guard. My Dad was a janitor for a time in this building, and I helped him out sometimes on weekends. I did little and probably spent more time shooting hoops in the gym. In 1987 this neo-classical designed building was reopened as the popular Portland Regency Hotel. We've never stayed here; however, I must admit that Elenka and I have frequented their Armory Lounge.
I recommend the martini menu.
Enjoy the dolphins in snow too.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Black on White

Ever had a coffee at a shop run by nuns or your former elementary school teachers? Well, I think I did yesterday, sort of. Met Paulie for java and talk yesterday at a small coffee shop overlooking the Fore River. The coffee was delicious. The gals dispensing the brew were welcoming and very friendly. The two rooms were warm and inviting, but the 'messages' were a completely different story. Were they for real? There must have been at least 10 places sprinkled around the small shop with signs cautioning you not to do things. If you dislike the word "Don't", I'd suggest you get your java elsewhere. After grabbing my drink, I went to the small table opposite and was faced with signs "Don't Put Trash Here". "Recycle Here, Not There". Next to the overstuffed, comfy chair that I settled in was a Rennai heater securely taped shut with the words "Don't Touch This". Later, a short visit to the restroom found quite a few signs. "Rule #1 Don't Put Anything In This Toilet But Toilet Paper". Rule #2 If You Do the Toilet Will Overflow and I Will Be In After You. You Will Clean It Up With A Mop". Another sign read "Don't Leave the Seat Up". There were others, but these were the most intimidating for me. I mentioned it to Paulie and asked him if Sister Deloras ran this joint. We both shared some guffaws on that one. 
By the way, this establishment will go nameless, but it is run by two gals.
How come with all the "Don'ts", I thought the ownership might have been a guy.
Am I missing something?
My question for Paulie: Are these for real?
Are they jokes?
What do you think?
Don't get me wrong.
I like this place.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Night Out

We like to sample Restaurant Week. In past years, we have visited Walter's, 555 and Ribollita's and had fine dining experiences. We enjoy visiting restaurants that have gotten great reviews, but for some reason we have passed them by. Last night our choice was The Back Bay Grille and again we weren't disappointed. Elenka went with a main course of short ribs, and I decided on pork. Both were delicious! We cleaned our plates too. It been a thing of mine from way back. Taught to me with that simple expression: 'kids in China are going to bed hungry'. Whenever I was dawdling over a meal, you know just pushing the peas around, my grandmother would utter that expression, and I'd clean that plate. Disappointment was something I wanted no part of back then. I try to steer clear of it always. To this day, unless I'm feeling under the weather, I get the job done.
The plate is clean. 
Back then, I didn't want to disappoint that amazing lady.
Today, don't want to dishearten myself.
... or maybe the cook.
Strange, what becomes a part of us from Youth.
What's on your plate?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Cross-Country

Looking for some solitude?
Some alone time?
Time to work out an issue that has been troubling?
I've got just the remedy.
I've got the recipe.
There are just a few main roads cutting through the snow at the cemetery this morning, so you're on your own. And that's a good thing. Grab a pair of cross country skis and make your own path. In this spot, you're not going to be bothered by a lot of vehicle noise and mindless chatter. Well, at least I hope not. Look. Someone's even broken a trail for you.

Tonight a different kind of recipe. 
We're partaking in Restaurant Week at the Back Bay Grille.
Looking forward to that.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Uphill Trees

I tried.
I really did.
This is about the photograph that isn't. Yet. Approaching the city in winter and traveling across one of the three bridges affords you a beautiful view of the West End high on the hill. With all the snow cover, the trees, covering the face, really grabs your attention. You can really get a stunning look at some of the large homes that ride the crest of Western Prom. During the season, I've tried to fashion a decent shot from the bottom, but I'm always fighting electrical lines. Really, the best location to get the image from is on one of the bridges heading back from South Portland or from Scarborough via Route 1, but stopping in the breakdown lane in any sort of traffic can be treacherous at best.
Oh well, it might happen.
Just not today.
Sorry, another photo about nothing.
I'll do better tomorrow.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Lip Lock

What's it really all about Alfie?

Awhile back Elenka passed the word to me that she wanted to locate one of our unused locks, hang it on one of the locations around the city and profess 'life long love'. I guess that's the point of these walls of locks. Say, " I love you" and lock your love. I think I explained to her at the time that in my mind it was 'the destroying of a perfectly good lock'. I think I recall her rolling her eyes. This fence runs about 20 feet or so right near the water on Commercial Street. To the right is fencing that's just chock full of colored locks of all shapes and sizes. I haven't heard her mention anything about this phenomenon in a couple of years, so maybe the 'fever' has subsided. Perhaps my suggestion: 'take two aspirin and call me in the morning' worked. 
And what's more, there are whispers.
Yes, it's true.
Shhhhhhh. 
Hush. Hush.
An undertone, if you will.
Gossip around the watercooler at city hall.
Eyesore.
That the city fathers might be thinking of removing the fence completely.
Locks and all.
Gulp!
How should I break this news to my sweet friend?
Lip lock.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Snow Farm

Well, I promised.
And I always keep promises.
Exhibit A: the 'snow farm' or as it's called by some in the city: the 'snow dump'. It's very difficult to capture the full significance of a 40 foot pile of snow. As I stood in the field, I pondered. Do I photograph the bulldozer? How about the  growing pile of dirty snow. How about both? If you look carefully you can see the crest of the 40 foot tower of discarded snow in back of the John Deere. Seen from the opposite side, the collection and height is stunning. The operation is pretty simple. The trucks hauling snow bring their load into the field, dump it, and the bulldozer takes over from there. The tractor continuously pushes the 'throw away' snow up a rise, and slowly but surely, over weeks of this repeated progress of dumping and flattening, the 'snow dump' reaches increasing heights. After over a million cubic yards of snow trucked to this field, you can get some serious height.
It gives new meaning to 'heightening'.
Snow this year?
Gone in June... or maybe July.
I'll keep you posted.
I must say though.
This 'yellow baby' can move some snow!
* note- I would think 2 days @ 100°F 48 hours straight would put a dent in it.
Hey, it's 45°F right now.
HEATwave!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

River Traffic

It's another frigid morning.
We're looking up the Fore River here with early morning traffic heading over the Fore River Causeway. The river is an estuary that snakes its way inland dividing Portland and South Portland. The Fore River Parkway runs along on the right connecting Libbytown and Commercial Street. The river is spanned by four bridges: The Casco Bay Bridge which connects the two cities, the Veterans Memorial Bridge which carries vehicles along Route 1 and the Fore River Causeway which takes I-295 traffic over the water. There is also a Pan Am Railways Bridge that AmTrak and other rail traffic uses. A walking trail of about a mile, a section of Portland Trails, can be found running along the river's edge on the right. As you might imagine, there are quite a few port-related facilities on both sides along its 5 mile + course.
There.
If there's anything more you need to know about it, give me a call when you get here. 
Hopefully, the ice will be gone by then.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Benchmarks

It's official.
It was the coldest February eva! Well, at least in the city of Portland, it was. Would I sit on one of these benches with my tootsies in snow? Sure. For maybe a picture with friends (if they asked nicely), who might want the backdrop of the city behind, but that's about it. Five seconds, max! "Come on! Take the picture. My feet are freezing! Take a selfie. You don't need me. Heck, those are my teeth chattering!" Someone asked me the other day, when I grabbed for my jacket, "Are you cold?" My retort, "Yes, I'm always cold!" Is it the aging process kicking in? Your guess would be as good as mine on that one. So, why am I here for the foreseeable future? 
I have only one answer.
"I guess I'm certifiably crazy!"
(cue laugh track)
So, benches along my way? Maybe, but in the warm sun, watching the pelicans fly above Coco Beach.
So, paying for oil?
Or paying for 'air'?
What's your pleasure?
or maybe poison?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Theme Day: Aging

Today, March 1, 2015 is Theme Day across the CDP (citydailyphotoblog) community. This month our theme is AGING. Last Thurday afternoon I walked into the kitchen and out of the corner of my eye thought there was a dog at my birdfeeders. On closer examination, I realized that my turkeys had returned! Remember last summer when I counted seventeen turkeys parading around the backyard? A mom and dad and 15 chicks. I taught you the vocabulary word that I hope you haven't forgotten. That baby turkeys are called poults, and each of the small birds could have fit in my palm. Ta Da! The birds have aged. The family of seventeen is still together, but you'd be hard pressed to single out the mom and dad now. Turkeys age too. They are now all the same size. Here are a few. They are all huge. Don't call adult turkeys a flock, a gaggle, a gobble, or even a herd.
Give 'em some love.
Call them a 'rafter', and keep them happy.
Now, I know what you're thinking.
There are only 269 days until Thanksgiving 2015.
You're welcome!
Gobble. Gobble.