Saturday, February 28, 2009

Blue Bottles

Here's a look out the front window this morning. After a night of light rain and with March on the horizon, it's beginning to feel like a change of seasons around here. Could spring be on the way? Doubt it! Around here, March comes in like a lion and leaves like a lion! Don't believe me? More snow in the forecast for tomorrow. Coming up we have a busy time in the family... the run of birthdays in early March-- 5, 8, 10.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Happy 202!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (February 27, 1807- March 24, 1882). Dedicated in 1888, Maine-born sculptor Franklin Simmons constructed the bronze sculpture with a granite base. The memorial was funded by nickels, dimes and pennies collected by New England school children. The names of the children, who contributed to the $17,171.10 memorial, are in a metal box in its base. Did you know that there is another sculpture of Longfellow in Washington, DC? I didn't. Ah! "Evangeline", "The Song of Hiawatha", "Paul Revere's Ride", "My Lost Youth" and "The Children's Hour". -- I still remember reading these in Ms. Storer's eighth grade classroom at Lincoln Junior High.

"Often I think of the beautiful town, That is seated by the sea" -Longfellow

Wadsworth-Longfellow House

The boyhood home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was built in 1785 and housed three generations of his family. It was the first wholly brick house constructed in the city, and the third floor was added to the structure after awhile. Anne Longfellow Pierce, his younger sister, lived in the house til her death in 1901. At that time, according to her will, it was deeded to the Maine Historical Society. It is located near Monument Square on Congress Street.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


The State Street Congregational Church, started in 1852, is an open and affirming church near Longfellow Square. As I travel down State, my eye is always pulled towards this beautiful building and its spire(not seen here).

"Knowledge with understanding is Life." GHQuinn

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Well, 33 1/2 hours later, we have our power back, but there are still many in the dark this morning, 20,000 CMP(Central Maine Power) says. This is the third time this winter that snow, ice or freezing rain has knocked out power in southern Maine for a significant amount of time. First time for us though. Snow! It's what we love about life in Maine; it's what we hate! Looking out the front door Monday AM, and I could just tell, we were in trouble. Lived here awhile? You know. Heavy, wet, whiteness covering every tree, everywhere and bending many, in homage, to the ground... and we still have March to go! Think mud! Think spring!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Wharf Street

One recent morning, I took a side trip down to the Old Port. There was a time when almost every street in the city was covered with these cobblestones. I certainly do remember Dad, having to navigate Commercial Street with its seemly four(not marked) lanes of stones and double railroad tracks. Not an an easy feat in nice weather. Can you imagine running a city snowplow down that street in a snow storm? The next street up, Wharf Street, is a peaceful walk during the day with shops, some fine restaurants and pubs aplenty. From 10PM -2AM on the weekends, it’s another matter. It’s packed and easy to find trouble. Maybe, a drop into a wine bar this afternoon would be nice, especially since we are at hour 29 without power. What a storm!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Snow Day

Well, no power here! It's been out since midnight and the noon local news says, if you are still out now, don't plan on getting back today. Maybe a couple of days! Yikes! Our 'saving grace'? We have a generator, that's just humming away in the driveway. Now the weather report from the backyard---We got 12 more inches of wet, PACKED snow, that even my powerful snowblower couldn't move in its usual quick fashion. On the plus side? It's a winter wonderland out back!


As we age, it’s nice to see the course ahead, set sail and reach the appointed shore, but you know, driftwood might have it right. Almost endlessly bouncing around in deep water, taking risks, surviving pounding surf to settle on a peaceful beach... somewhere unknown. Got a good college friend who lives, now, outside ‘hot-lanta’. During our college years, when he would visit Portland, he always told me: “I like New England, and I like this city”. Be careful what you wish for-- After college in upstate New York, and some missions over ‘Nam, he got stationed at Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Me, almost as far North as you can get in the state and not be steppin’ in Canada. Later he lived in Nashua, NH and in Amherst, MA. Is there a theme here? Can’t get out of New England? Oldest son, a doctor to be, married in Newport RI, interning in Boston. His youngest son, a pilot, recently got stationed in Maine... ya you guessed it- he’s living in Portland and flying out of Brunswick. Our lives, like driftwood, take many strange twists and turns, but as Mom always told me--- 'it all works out for the BEST'! Enjoy your life where ever it takes you--- today!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Studio B

Recently, I spent part of a sunny afternoon in a friend's studio. When the sun is streaming through her big bank of windows, it's an extremely comfortable place to spend some time talking, reading, thinking or painting. I've always been intrigued by the painter. I'm lucky in many ways-- my orbit of friends is not large, but it is filled with creative minds. This helps bring me peace in turbulent times.

"The job of the artist is to always deepen the mystery." Francis Bacon

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Early Coffee

Gotta get some java! By plane, train, car, feet or even bike, I enjoy getting an early morning jolt or two at interesting shops around town. Here's a coffee shop at Monument Square in the heart of the city. For the first two weeks in February, Portland held its celebration of winter called WinteRush-- just another way that helps us struggle through a long Maine winter. Over the fortnight, there were all sorts of activities from ice carving demonstrations, building snow sculptures, sled dog rides and more. The festival ended last Saturday. On the culminating day, the city constructed a huge snow jump here at the Square and brought in boarders from Sugarloaf and Sunday River, two rival ski areas in Maine, to compete and and wow the crowds with their tricks and skills. This morning, though, I'm not thinking of 'riding a rail'. Just like this chap in the picture- where can I get that first steaming cup?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Beach Rock

An early morning stroll, at low tide along Ferry Beach, brings some interesting sights. The beach was empty except for a bunch of dog walkers, but they stayed down at the other end. I took a leisurely walk all the way to Black Point. Here's a look across, towards OOB, off in the distance. My baby sister is living in Lake Oswego, Oregon these days. Born and raised in Portland, Maine, her life, like us all, has had many twists and turns, and now she's domesticating 15 minutes or so outside Portland... Oregon. A bit ironic, I'd say. I've always found us a lot alike, the oldest and the youngest. J- a Happy Birthday wish goes out to you today, way over on the left coast. Enjoy your day! You ALWAYS do! Have one of your wonderful blueberry muffins and a Starbucks on me! ps. Thanks for that Lincoln biography you sent my way, recently! Loveya!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Backyard Legacy

First: the weather report- It snowed throughout the night, 5 inches down. Now, light rain is falling. Here's a shot, this morning, just off the back deck. Now the story- On Easter Sunday 1979, my Dad dropped over with a couple of 'little' gifts. He had just opened a savings account at Maine Savings Bank(a banking establishment long gone), and as an incentive they were giving out fir seedlings. He got two and brought them out. In the warm sun, we grabbed a shovel, peat moss and the hose and planted them. Thirty years later, both are still standing and growing. The second one, off to the right, we decorate with lights for Christmas. It's especially comforting to me to look out upon them, throughout Maine's four unique seasons, and remember that morning together.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bridge South

Kind of an eerie shot at day break looking across the Fore River at the tank farm and towards Calvary Cemetery in South Portland. It's the 295 bridge running south. It caught my eye how the early sunlight lit up the stanchions, throwing subtle reflections, amidst the sea smoke that returned. As I've mentioned before, I've always enjoyed early morning loneliness. I think it's just that selfish thinking, that it's just me and the big ol' world out there, at least for a few fleeting moments.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Better Days

This sunflower was quite beautiful and vibrant last August, but now the ravishes of a Maine winter have rendered it quite ugly. There are four more of these ragged sentries standing watch over our snow-covered garden this February morning, awaiting tomorrow's snowfall. The ominous gray, cloud-filled morning is just another harbinger of the coming storm. No weatherman is needed here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Book Sale

Where ya gonna put 'em? That was E's retort, when she saw the books on my return from the Portland Public Library's annual Book Sale yesterday afternoon. I quite enjoy taking in this event each year, and at 50 cents per hardcover what a deal! No first editions here, but still... want to know what I lugged home to the bookshelf? How about a collection of Sherlock Holmes' tales, a copy of London's Sea Wolf, Tom Swift and his Sky Train, a Paul Theroux novel, My Secret History, and a W. Somerset Maugham biography. Just a few things to, maybe, keep me out of trouble this week.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Birch Trees

These trees are just so soothing when you come across a patch of them, lonely in the woods. I try not to ever burn white birch-- woodstove, fireplace, or campfire. I think it's a sin.

from Birches

By Robert Frost
...Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Happy Birthday Aunt Gloria!
You bought me my first camera at a PX in Germany, when I was ten. Look what you've done! Are you happy? Hope you're proud!

Love is the Drug

Well, the Valentines' Day bandit has struck. Every year, in the wee hours of the morning, he/she moves through the city peppering thousands of downtown shop windows with tiny red hearts. As I walked Congress Street this morning, I couldn't find a storefront that was spared. And how is this 'hanging' accomplished? This building is the Portland Museum of Art. It always gets 'hit' with a big one. Here's wishing a special V-Day greeting to my lovely valentine E-. Thirty-four wonderful years and counting!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bug Light

It's the 'little lighthouse that could'! Yes, it's a cliche, but I like it! At least once or twice each summer and fall, we visit this park overlooking Portland, Fort Gorges and Peaks Island to feel the warm sun and watch the comings and goings of the harbor, photograph and paint. It's a wonderful place to view the fireworks on the 4th too. For you history buffs, it's located at the former East Yards shipbuilding complex where the Liberty ships were built. Happy Friday the 13th!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Up Back

No, it's not a Lyle Lovett sighting, but I do have quite an affinity towards western wear at times. I'll have to blame my grandfather for this one. Back then, I'd spent a lot of days sitting on the cellar stairs in Westbrook watching him work, covered with sawdust, making furniture. In the late afternoon, he sit me down, in front of that big Philco in the corner, to watch Hopalog Cassity and my favorite, the Ranger Rider. The hats, the leather vests and bandanas- oh my! I was intrigued! If not Dickens' England, then transport me back to the ol' West. Cast me in period costumes of "Lonesome Dove" and "Deadwood", and I'd be a happy man. Have a restless day, pardner!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


A favorite Irish pub in the city is Brian Boru. This outside wall will always grab your attention before you sit down for a Guinness or two, or in my case, it's always a Smithwick's. J- and I tried to get in here for a brew after the Dropkick Murphys' concert last summer. No luck! The line in front stretched 30-40 strong. However, the band made it in, I heard. C'est la vie!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

More Light

Nothing Gold Can Stay
By Robert Frost

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
so dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

"Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold."
S.E. Hinton The Outsiders

Monday, February 9, 2009

White Trees

Yesterday was spring-like around here, but Saturday morning the Saco was 'smoke' covered again. It looked pretty bleak. This morning I would like to thank all friends, family and foes for taking time to view my Daily Photo Blog. Many have said that they check it out each morning, and some of you have even suggested pictures. Rick mentioned this small island and trees. It was worth a trip scrambling to the river's edge on a freezing morning.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


These days Payson Park, pictured here, and Riverside are two of the prime spots to go for a family outing that involves tubes, sleds, flying saucers and such, but back then it was just the backyard at 820 Stevens, on those moonlit nights after ice storms. My sled, an old hand-me-down that my grandfather gave me, had a unique look- long, lean and fast. It used to be my Uncle Leonard's, lost in the Big One, WWII, and I think the envy of all the gang: Leo, Eddie, Skip, Buddy and Marty. We used to wax the metal to make 'em go even faster on the ice. A running start at the blocked-off, back breezeway got you flying down the narrow shoot, and then it was just faint whispers of the old trash dump on the left, the iced-over swamp, the Stanley's garage on the right, down a short hill to nothing but glistening, perfection of the uncut ice field called Gulliver's, as you raced across to certain death. After a fast, ice-flying turn at the end, just before the wicked bushes, it was only the long, uphill, depressing climb to try it again. Our faces were numb with the excitement. What memories! What fun!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Edge of Light

It ain't boring, visually, going to work each day. I'm constantly entertained by the world as it goes by... Saw this yesterday, as I made the turn onto 35, but was running a bit late. Headed out this morning going for a look at the river, and as Annie Hall would say--- La di da-- there it was. I was a little later today, and it was even better. So, before it was gone forever, I got it!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Fact of Life

Here's a 'sign of life' in Maine that I pass each morning on the way to work. Good luck trying to find any seasoned wood around here these days though. This pile and most others are green, green, green! If you found any, you'd pay big bucks! I order mine in July each year and get it delivered in early October. I get anywheres between 2-3 cord, depending on winter use and the look of my woodshed. Why? There's nothing like a woodstove fire warming a house, especially on those January and February weekends. On Coyle Street, Dad would start the fire before he'd head off to the PO each morning. By seven the kitchen was toasty warm and ready for the 'invasion' of the wild kids. In the large potbelly stove, he burned wood when we first moved in, then turned to coal after a couple of years. I have fond memories of helping Mom in the morning, heading down the cellar stairs and filling the coal bucket. Snow days were especially fun in the warm kitchen: the smell of cookies in the oven, playing Uncle Wiggly at the table, coloring for hours and driving my sisters crazy! What fun!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Peace, Love, Books

When traveling or just hanging out, I love to seek out local bookstores, both large and small, the chain or a mom and pop versions. No matter. They just seem to pull me in with a magnetic-like attraction. Of course, this is not new to me. As a teenager, I remember often stopping by Deering Drug at Morrills Corner to check out the latest magazines and spending lots of free time in the Lincoln Jr. High School library and Burbank Branch Library with books. When on the move around the city, companions will roll their eyes as if to say, 'you're going in there again, are you'? Maybe my favorite bookshop is found on Exchange Street. It's Books Etc. There is just something soothing and warm about the two rooms, lined with books, magazines and bricks. Ah, the bricks... I especially enjoy perusing the poetry and biography sections there. I find my relationship with books to be a lonely, yet thoroughly satisfying quest, even if I walk out empty-handed. Got a favorite bookshop I should look into? Tell me about it?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bit o' Blue

Here's another shot of that favorite apple tree out back with a lonely blue birdhouse. You really can't see it in this shot, but the back ten acres have really grown up since we moved in. It use to be pretty open back there; you could even drive a vehicle along a pretty primitive trail. Now, trees and brush inhibit travel quite a bit. There was a time that you could even see the massive pines that line the rear property line from the back steps, not any more. Mild weekend coming our way 40's? Lots of melting, I hope.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

St. Doms

Although our family grew up as parishioners of St. Joseph's Church. Dad's roots were always at St. Doms, the beautiful church at the corner of State and Gray Streets. Growing up at 264 Danforth, he became an alter boy on Christmas Eve 1923 at the age of nine and served the church in some capacity for 75 years til the night he died, on Christmas Eve 1997. Closed that year, St. Dominic's Roman Catholic Church has now taken on a new life as the Maine Irish Heritage Center. Now, that would make Dad smile.

Monday, February 2, 2009

West Commercial

Happy Groundhog Day!
Love the subtle colors of this early morning look at the Fore River shot from West Commercial Street, just across from the new Mercy Hospital complex. Did you know? The Fore River is a short horn-shaped estuary, approximately 4 mi (6.4 km) long, separating Portland and South Portland. Many of the port facilities of the Portland harbor are along the estuary, which is formed just southwest of Portland by the confluence of several creeks. The estuary was initially known as Levett's River, so named by the first English settler of the Casco Bay region, Capt. Christopher Levett.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Today is my first theme day on City Daily Photo. The February 2009 theme is Paths and Passages. I chose this picture, taken last weekend, of the Steep Falls Bridge over the Steep Falls rapids. In the spring, when the white water below is rolling, it's pretty intimidating in sound and fury. This morning, however, all that is to be heard is the constant drone of snow machines nearby, slicing their way through new fallen snow. Oh ya, Super Bowl Sunday, Steelers vs Cards. An old AFC fan, I'm going with the Steel City Boys something like 30-10. Close for a half then... Looking forward to the Boss at halftime. My guess is that "The Rising" will be there somewhere. Enjoy the commercials!