Saturday, January 31, 2009

Desolation Row

A short trip down to Sebago Lake village and out on the ice this morning was met with bleakness and gray skies. The ice shacks look pretty lonely, don't they. Desolation Row? Thought of this after viewing "Back Stage Pass: Rock & Roll Photography", the new show at the Portland Museum of Art last night, that chronicles the history of our rock culture. Elvis to Punk to Rap and beyond-- over 300 shots, of our rock icons caught off guard and off stage, grace the walls. My favorites were the candid moments of Dylan, Nico, Brian Ferry, Aretha and the Stones. What? No Kinks? These are wonderful pictures that I have never seen before. The evening was jam packed with fans and nostalgia. If you are a rock fan and near the city, this is a DON'T miss!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Ice Blade

The unexpected- as we travel the hustle and bustle highways of our crowded lives these days, one of the pleasant joys is stumbling across some special item that makes us stop and take notice. We aren't looking for it, but alas it just jumps out at us. Found my college ring, that I had been looking for for years, that way a few years ago. Another example? Lean over a bridge railing some icy morning, and there it is. This happens to my camera all the time.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


This footpath through the snow is just off Canco Road, right across from the Pepsi Company buildings. Always thought this was a strange name for a street. I do believe it was named after the American Can Co. that was on the corner Canco and Read, but I digress... Elephant Rock rises behind these structures. On winter days, when we lived on Washington Avenue, my brother, the neighborhood kids and I would grab large pieces of cardboard and head for this large outcropping for a day of fun sliding on the rock in the snow and ice. I remember there was one place on the back that had a long sluice-like run. The higher up the rock you could get, the longer your run. You had to be careful though, too far and you'd go over the edge to what we thought would be certain death on the rocks below. Long story short-- my brother, about 8 at the time, went into the Elephant Rock lore books one day, by losing his balance going up too high and sliding backwards off the humpback face. We ran through the snow to the front of the rock in disbelief. Around the corner, he met us with a big grin; maybe not knowing how close he had come to his early end.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Birdhouse in Snow

OK, my friend, the weatherman says we're getting anywheres from 10-16 inches of new snow today, lasting into tonight, with maybe some ice and freezing rain thrown in for good measure. Well, I'm home with a pot of coffee on, a woodstove loaded with seasoned wood, MPR is tuned, the birdfeeders well stocked with sunflower seeds, the snowblower loaded with gas, one of our cats curled up next to me, and some work to catch-up on. I'm not going anywhere. Worried about a few snowflakes? Bring it on!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Old Mill

The Dana Warp Mill, the old woolen mill, rises from the the banks of the Presumpscot River across the river from Westbrook's Main Street. For the last ten years, this 244,000 square-foot building has been helping with the rehabbing of the city's downtown. It is now the home for artist studios, call centers, dance studios and more. Just about everyday, this building and the water around it takes on a unique look. At times this morning, the structure was completely shrouded in sea smoke

Monday, January 26, 2009

Let's Skate

An afternoon skating at the Oaks with Park Avenue and the steeple of Sacred Heart Church in the background brings back a few recent memories. Starring Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston, parts of the 1996 movie The Preacher's Wife were shot at various places in the city. It was the remake of The Bishop's Wife, the 1947 Cary Grant movie. Their characters were seen skating here with the recognizable buildings in the background. My connection? My Dad was an 'extra' in the movie. You can see him in the soup kitchen line. Ha! He also helped the movie secure another building for for a filming location. Yesterday was cold, but it certainly looked like fun!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

River View

Out early this Sunday morning looking for some sea smoke. Heard last night on the late weather that it would be around, because of frigid temperatures. Sure enough, well below zero. Here's a look down river at Saccarappa Falls. The Persumpscot River is 27-miles long and located in Cumberland County, Maine. It is the main outlet of Sebago Lake. It flows through the communities of Windham, Gorham, Westbrook, Portland, and Falmouth before emptying into Casco Bay at Falmouth.
I have fond memories of the river here in Westbrook. Summers, when staying overnight at my grandparents, we went to church at St. Marys and after Mass walked to an overlook along this river. I remember it being quite nasty with pollution from the mill then, but it has since been cleaned up, with a walkway, benches and fencing added. A 'riverwalk' with possibilities.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Blue Skies

Blue skies but not clear sailing weather yet. Here's a shot taken at the Spring Point Marina, across the harbor from Portland. All the boats are wrapped to spare them the brutal elements of winter weather. This marina is right next door to Joe's Boatyard Restaurant. In six months this yard will be empty and the restaurant full of tourists and locals. If you love seafood and nice views, check this place out. By the way, is this a freaky shot or what? Check out this boat on the left. Enjoy the sunny day!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Some Sunshine

Here's a lil' bit of sunshine for a Maine winter. Just a few oranges remain from the box that arrived from Mom and Dad just before Christmas. When drinking the freshly squeezed juice, you can almost feel the 70 degree temperatures. Almost... Think positive-- the days really are getting longer!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Here's a good remedy for a cold January afternoon or evening. Grab a classic and head for the couch. My love of books and language was instilled by Mom. Her comfy chair by the big window on Stevens and Coyle, always had a stack of books at its foot and the daily crossword puzzle on the arm. Her weekly trips to the Burbank Branch Library were like clockwork. Remember: think outside the BOOK!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Weathered Barn

Standing alone in a Maine blizzard, this Buxton barn will live to see another day. Whatever the season, I truly enjoy traveling the 'blue highways' and taking in proud New England barns. When we were looking for a home awhile ago, I had a dream of an old farmhouse with one of these majestic buildings. Well, I settled for one of two. Out back and up the hill a ways, all that remains of the other, is a very ample foundation that provides numerous stones each summer, as we expand our gardens and walkways. We do have an old black and white photograph hanging in the living room; however, that shows the once, working building built by a gentleman farmer, Jacob Hamblin.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama's Day

Just off Congress Square on State Street, the Cumberland Club's flag rides out Sunday's snow.

"I happen temporarily to occupy this big White House. I am living witness that any one of your children may look to come here as my father's child has." -Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of the U.S. (1809-1865)

Monday, January 19, 2009


I think we've had, now, six snowfalls this month already. Alright... already! My unofficial tally from yesterday's storm, after snowblowing the path to the woodshed, is 16 inches, including the extra inch overnight. Here's a shot down Park Street in the city. It's just a beautiful walk in snowfall or sunshine. If you ask me, it's not an easy street to find. It just kind of creeps up on you, or you find it after a wrong turn near Mercy Hospital, like I did yesterday. Enjoy the day off, if you have it!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Oaks

Well, the frigid temperatures of the last few days have moved away, but snow has moved in this morning. They're saying 8-12 inches; gonna snow all day. Deering Oaks is a 51 acre parcel of land that has a baseball diamond, tennis courts, a playground, and a pond that the city acquired from the Deering, Preble and Fessenden families after Portland's great fire of 1866. I have wonderful memories of skating on the pond during the winter months with many friends. Although ponds at Evergreen Cemetery and on Allen Avenue were favorites, it was always a treat to take the trip down Forest Avenue for a day of skating and hot chocolate at the Castle in the Oaks.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


As a mail carrier in Portland, my Dad's route was the Western Prom area. Whenever I ran into him up there, it seemed to me that he knew every doctor and every old lady he'd pass on the street. Like clockwork, it was lunch each day at the MMC cafeteria, with Friday's fish chowder 'to die for'. These days, each time I venture up here, the maze-like system of side streets and brick houses seem even more beautiful, and I stumble upon buildings I've never seen before. Here's a rambling apartment building on Clifford Street with a most elaborate vine work covering it. Interesting!

Friday, January 16, 2009

14 Below

It's 14 below zero this morning on our back door thermometer. The coldest yet. The polar express has pushed down through Canada and into New England for the weekend. Out back, the raspberry bushes in the side field lie dormant these days in the knee high snow pack. You’ve heard of the BIG picture? Here a shot of the ‘little’ picture. More snow coming on Sunday they say. Hey, it's January in Maine.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Slice of Blue

If you've never taken the trip up the 86-foot tall Portland Observatory on Munjoy Hill, let me tell you-- it's worth a piece of your day. Built in 1807, the octagonal and lighthouse-shaped structure with the cupola at the top will provide you with wonderfully, panoramic views of Portland harbor and the surrounding area. Even as the city shivers itself awake this morning and struggles to get to 10 above, this iconic landmark of Portland stands strong and magnificent in the sunlight above the city.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Guest Photographer

Back awhile, Josephine Waite Gallant, snapped this portrait of a budding photographer and traveler. My grandmother was born and raised in PEI, but after marrying Albert they heard there was work in a mill in Bemis, near Rangeley in the states. After a fire at the mill, they moved all their worldly possessions by train to Rumford/Mexico. They raised four children and soon after moved on to South Paris... Maine that is. Later, they ventured on to Westbrook where Albert found work at Saunders Brothers. I was born on Devon Street in Portland but I have no recollection of that house at all. The Allen Avenue two decker was where I readied for my early school years. My mom worked so it fell to Josie to babysit the kid. She entertained me by reading books and telling me wonderful 'tales' about characters and strange events from a world beyond Maine. Often, she would dress me up, as I became strange people in these stories. Here, in a most famous family picture, she dressed me up in my grandfather's garb and told a story of the " Ol' Yankee Traveler". By the way, just before she snapped this shot with her brownie, she grabbed my grandfather's pipe out of my mouth. She was and amazingly funny woman, and I miss her and that 'wonderful world' of hers a lot.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Just Walking

An early morning walk before most residents are up and at 'em often results in some interesting sights. For us, it was breakfast at Becky's on Commercial Street and then a short trip up the Hill. Parked the car near the Observatory and went for a frigid stroll. Saw trees across Congress with hundreds of birds eating berries, abandoned bikes stuck to tire tops in ice and snow, dogs on sidewalks, while owners enjoyed coffee at tables in neat shops, the back side of the Cathedral viewed behind a giant snowbank, and a few diehards having a smoke outside the a local laundry. Finally, my fingers were freezing; it was time to quit for a while. Here is the last shot of the morning-- just when you’re ready to quit, something catches the eye.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Stack Waiting

This stack of wood was cut early last spring when I was clearing brush along the back stone wall. The trees along the wall are getting so tall they are beginning to shade the back deck earlier and earlier each year. A Maine summer is short enough without that tree line robbing us of 20 minutes or so of late afternoon sun. By late August, I usually have eye-balled my next victim for the spring; one more winter, that's it for you. Ah, the woodstove! Come a late September evening, this stack will help take the chill off.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Stormin' at the Square

Congress Square-- Here's an early morning look down both Congress Street to left and Free Street to right as the snow falls quite steadily. The flat-iron building straight ahead use to be the site of the old Hays Drug Store. My mom worked here soon after she moved from Norway to Portland. Behind me, the Congress Square Hotel was the home of the original WGAN-TV studio. The station's first broadcast was May 16, 1954. It had a LIVE, glassed in studio, that mimicked the original TODAY Show. People could watch the broadcast from the street, and often would be seen on the TV. Do you remember the contest Miss Channel 13? The Second Place winner is a personal friend of mine. hahaha!(inside joke) Right Joanne? Well, about 4 inches down... the weatherman says it'll continue til noon. Ah, a nice quite Sunday in the city, with plows and snowblowers at the ready. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Backyard Apple

Just a short walk up the hill to the garden and the compost pile finds this large apple tree. During the summer, it's a great shade spot on those warm, sticky afternoons, and later in the fall, I spend some time picking up the 'drops', mostly worm-laden. When we moved in in '77, there was evidence of a kid's tree fort being held within the bottom branches and even a long tire chain hanging from its upper reaches. Today, these remnants are long gone, and on this winter morning the tree sits most majestically reigning over our sleeping garden.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Two Trees

Winter is my favorite time of year to ride along Baxter Boulevard in the city. The roadway, named after James P. Baxter, a former mayor, wraps around the west side of Back Cove. When the fog rolls in or it's storming, the gray canvas sky provides a startling background. This view looks out towards Tukey's Bridge and 295 in the distance. During my high school years, we lived just off the roadway and up a hill a ways. This was a common scene out a large second floor window seat. Growing up near here, many summer days were spent bike riding the pathways along the banks. This, of course, was years before the city added the recreational pathways that are now populated daily with bikers, joggers and walkers, but not this morning.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Along the River

When I have the time, I always like to take 'side trips' as I travel around the city and beyond. After the storm, this short cut to Rt 112, provides some interesting rock and snow formations on the Saco River today. It's a great place to visit in the spring too, when the water is high and the river is rolling. Loud and powerful, but today... peaceful.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Snowy Bandstand

Well, it's snowing today throughout the city and surrounding areas. It's a typical snowy day, some schools are out, parking bans in effect and life in this city slows down a bit. The Eastern Prom is always a nice place to hang out any day, regardless of the weather though. Usually, there are picturesque views of Casco Bay and the surrounding islands from here, but not this morning. Built in 1861, the bandstand is the site of concerts on warm summer evenings. Chandlers' Band entertains at a special Fourth of July concert. For Mom and Dad, it was a cheap night out with the family, dinner at The Village, then a short trip up the Hill to the Prom--let the four kids run around for an hour or so. Sometimes we even got to check out the Maine State Pier for ships in port and take a spin by the Grand Trunk Railroad yard. All in a night's work! Stay warm!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Gone South!

Since my dad showed me how to dig up potatoes at our house on Washington Avenue, I've always been intrigued by gardens and the growing cycle, even living in a state with such a short season. So when we moved into our house in '77, besides a woodstove, a garden plot was something that just had to be found. We have two areas set aside for vegetables and such, not huge, but as they say, good enough. Surrounding the gardens and throughout our backyard are numerous birdhouses of all shapes, sizes and designs. Along with birdfeeders for the winter months, I just can't help adding them to the grounds, even though, as you might imagine, there's not a lot of activity at the 'houses' on a frigid January morning.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Wilde Chapel

This is the Samuel Wilde Memorial Chapel in Evergreen Cemetery. Lots of memories here! I spent many a day in my youth on 'adventures' in these beautiful and tranquil 239 acres. Bike riding, forever it seemed, on summer evenings, ice skating on the ponds in the winter months, and I even remember a misadventure of 'cemetery golf' among the stones. Later, in high school and beyond(parts of 8 summers), I worked for the City of Portland mowing lawns, trimming hedges and cleaning gravestones. Even today, when I get a chance, I take a turn and travel the many dirt roads. It truly is a wonderous place.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Some Reflection

An early morning walk along a snowy street finds many interesting nooks and crannies. Lots of my early days were spent doing 'investigations' in the Morrill's Corner area of the city. I delivered morning and afternoon newspapers along Forest, Stevens and Allen Avenues -from age 12 through high school. Always enjoyed walking the side streets alone before dawn, when lights were just beginning to show in neighborhood houses. Time to think and reflect.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Bottles and Frost

Cold morning in Maine? I guess. Frosty attic windows looking out on our back field tell the story. We've been living in our home since the fall of 1977. It's about 30 minutes from Portland, Maine's largest city. It's an old farmhouse that's almost 200 years old, and we have enjoyed everyday in it, even with all the trials and tribulations of renovating an old homestead. The 3 cords of wood help keep it toasty warm even on mornings like this.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Longfellow in His Chair

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882) was an American educator and poet whose works include "Paul Revere's Ride", The Song of Hiawatha, and "Evangeline". Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine and studied at Bowdoin College.
This is Longfellow Square in Portland. Growing up in this city, it has always been a comforting spot. He certainly needs his scarf this morning... 13 above.