Monday, August 31, 2009

Last Days

Say goodbye to August... say goodbye to paradise! It's a lethal combination: blue skies, strong sunshine and money to burn. As summer wanes, tourists and locals alike are still frequenting the many shops in the Old Port, cruising the harbor and lining up for a last lobster dinner at a dockside restaurant. It's just after 11 AM, but here on Moulton Street Mexicali Blues, The Old Port Tavern and, up the hill a bit, Bull Feeney's are open for business.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


'Art Happens'.
In 1974 this sculpture called "Michael," by John Raimondi, was installed in the city, and like its later cousins the "American Family Baseball Group" at Hadlock Field and "Tracing the Fore" at Boothby Square, it was met with lots of controversy. As I remember, the first reviews were not good. Besides being ripped in print, it was even attacked numerous times with graffiti. The abstract piece, like a phoenix rising , sits on a small grassy plot, where Free Street meets Temple Street. Unlike many, from the very first time I saw it, I really liked it. In all the seasons, in all types of weather, at all times of day and night--- it sits in quiet testimony.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Eastern Cemetery

I took a casual stroll through Eastern Cemetery the other morning, before my second cup of coffee. Located on the Hill looking out upon the harbor, Eastern Cemetery is Portland’s oldest historic burial ground. Just a short walk, through the sometimes knee-high grass, tells you that it holds the remains of many politicians, early military heroes, those that chose a life on the sea and other early inhabitants of 'the city by the sea'. All interments were ceased here in 1858, and in 1973 was it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. A local preservation group, Spirits Alive, was formed in 2006. It conducts tours throughout the spring and summer and works on upkeep of the grounds and restoration projects. This group has plenty of work ahead of it. That's the old North School in the background. It's a rainy Saturday around here as Danny passes nearby. Good day to clean the attic!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Lost Bottles

E. Klaman Bottles was one of my favorite places in the Old Port to stop and take a look in the windows. Into the early 90s, this shop was always cluttered, wall to wall, with rare and common bottles of all shapes and sizes. I can remember often walking by the windows here and saying to myself: why, why, why? It's a store filled with empty glass bottles! Want a piece of rare Portland glass? Items from this longtime city icon are still available via eBay; otherwise you'll just have to say 'life is good' and deal with it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Whenever I smell hot, buttered popcorn, I think-- the Expo(Portland Exposition Building). It all goes back to those Friday night high school basketball doubleheaders... in Portland, attending them was close to a 'religious experience'. My Dad started taking me there when I was about 8. We'd always park in Hamilton Filling Station's parking lot and head to our seats. He seem to know just about everybody, as we made our way to the top row of the bleachers with a box of popcorn and and a Coke. As soon as the games were over, zoom-- we'd be out the door. However, on our way, we always paid a visit to Terroni's Market on Park Avenue for a bag of chips and a soda. Friday nights were wonderful times for me and Dad together. And speaking of basketball, professional basketball comes to the city this November in the form of a NBA Developmental League team, the Maine Red Claws ( developing players for the Boston Celtics and the Charlotte Bobcats).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

News to Me

One door closes, another opens... The amazing, wide-reaching tentacles of the internet are slowly bringing about the eventual demise of local newsprint. For me, it's a sad time. There is something special about holding the 'news of the world' in your hands and smelling and feeling the ink. I started delivering the Portland Press Herald when I was 10. Memories? I have a few. I remember finishing deliveries and sitting on the couch in the music room on Stevens, trying to make sense of the box scores of baseball games played the night before. While living on Deering Street my daily ritual winter mornings was walking to Joe's Smoke Shop and picking up the Press Herald and the Boston Globe. Why are papers failing all over? Back then, I handed over a dollar and got 60 cents in return- now the Globe alone costs $2.00 here in Maine. As I travel around, I always enjoy picking up a copy of the local 'rag' and taking a gander of the local news of the day. That was always a lot of fun and always got vacations mornings off and rolling!
*Today is a special day for me... I plan to do absolutely NOTHING, not even read a paper! Whoops! I've already checked out the news of the day via the PPH, Globe and NYTimes... online!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Are you partial to certain colors or always feel safe with your closet filled with particular hues? I've always had a special attraction to the color orange. In high school, I felt a bit envious of Biddeford and Brewer high schools with their black and orange color schemes. In college I loved a special pair of orange corduroys that I bought at Erebus on Center Street. I wore them constantly at school. My lure of this tint was, I think, what caught my eye here, along with some shadows, placards and the unassuming name stenciled on the glass. The store is Eli phant, and it's located on the East End. Here's a small shop loaded with everything from the quirky, mundane, functional to the beautiful. Items range from prints and textiles to jewelry, handbags and recycled home goods. It certainly is a shop worth a look. Besides, the sunshine, this morning, falling as it was made for an allure that couldn't be resisited.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Blue on Blue

Blue skies and this '55 T-bird became one at a local Car Show this past weekend. Throughout my formative years there were just too many cars that came to rest in our driveway to recall them all, but a few jump out at me: the gray Willys Jeep with the roof, that we were not to touch in the rain, the creme and red station wagon, that often took the neighborhood to the beach, the huge, wine-red Jag that rumbled down Stevens and of course the robin's egg-blue Thunderbird with those comfortable leather seats, that took me off to Rochester and Part II of my life. That 'american dream' was certainly very much alive in our driveway..., and there was always lots of apple pie on the table too.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sidewalk Art

The 44th Annual WCSH6 Sidewalk Art Festival was held yesterday in the center of the city. Over 300 hundred artists showed their work up and down Congress Street and the surrounding area. As usual, the streets expected over 40,000 buyers, lookers and just plain gawkers. I was there early, to beat the thunderstorms and the crowds. Forty-four years ago, I walked up Congress with Paul and Kendall and were amazed even in its birth. Would it last? I didn't think it had a chance. So much for my prognostications skills back then.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

North School

Here's a look at three old window casings at the former North School on upper Congress Street. Now it's the North School Congregate Housing facility. The school has been broken up into senior apartments that serve the needs of the elderly in the city. Built in 1867, the building has some of the most interesting architecture on the Hill and simply grand views of the harbor.
*Busy day today, off to hit some garage sales, take in some 'sidewalk art' and then wind our way to Meadowbrook in NH to find the Moody Blues. Hopefully, the thunderstorms will be few and far between.

Friday, August 21, 2009

"Sweet Pea"

The USS Portland memorial can be found at Fort Allen Park on Portland's Eastern Promenade. It was formally dedicated on July 4, 1962. All that remains at the site is the mainmast, bell and bridge shield. The ship, known as 'Sweet Pea', a heavy cruiser, played a very important role in WWII, and in so doing was selected as the site for the surrender of the Japanese in the Pacific. This occurred at the exact same time, September 2, 1945, as the ceremonies aboard the battleship Missouri. Later, it carried troops home from Europe, but suffered great damage, while caught in a hurricane. The ship was declared unseaworthy and decommissioned on July 12, 1946. Last year, the memorial was refurbished and rededicated on Veterans' Day 2008. One interesting sidelight of the day, along with sailors and family members of those who served in attendance, Mary Doughty rechristened the memorial. As a child of 12, she(then Mary Brooks) christened the ship on May 21, 1932 in the Quincy Massachusetts Shipyard. Dad, although an Army vet, always made it a point to point out the mainmast each time the family ventured to the Prom to look at the water. He was quite proud of that ship's history and its connection to the city.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Long before the heat hits these days, the doors at the Rosemont Market and Bakery on the Hill have been propped open to allow for cool morning breezes. In so doing, they partly hide the colorful notices hung in the background. Want to come to know the comings and goings of a neighborhood? Take note of the recent placards posted around. They will tell a story. Of course, this store's location is on Munjoy Hill and not Rosemont Corner where the original store still resides, but it still seems a bit odd to me to see a bit of 'rosemont' on the Hill.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bottles and Chain

A walk down Wharf Street early enough that most outside restaurant tables sit alone in the sunlight affords you some interesting subjects. Here's one. Often times, the 'little picture' reveals a much more telling story than the bigs, doesn't it. A barrel of old bottles, smothered with a rusting chain, seems quite symbolic to me. And it reminds me of Dad's many forays into the bottling of his homemade root beer, including the batch that during the day, exploded one by one beneath the kitchen floor. Disaster! However, it did make that musty cellar smell pretty 'flavorable' for awhile. Ha!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Hazy, Hot and Humid... again. I thought this February morning shot might reduce our complaining a bit about the weather. Have a very COOL day!

Monday, August 17, 2009


Summertime and the livin' is easy! Another sure sign of summer is delicious watermelon on sale everywhere. This pile was in the back of a pickup at the Whole Food Market. By the way, what's the deal with seedless watermelon? Doesn't that take all the fun out of eating the fruit? It did and still does for me. Besides the dripping down my chin is a pain in the... Really, it's just another thing that the 'people who love me' can tell me to do. "Wipe your chin, you're disgusting." But meanwhile, they do quench the thirst though!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Straw Hat

Finally, at long last, summer is here! Well, since June 21 it's been around, but these last few weeks the thermometer, outside my kitchen window, and the humidity have really told me so. While others sit around and complain about the rainy July, I think I'll just find a place out back, sit and enjoy the summer. July is gone; it ain't never comin' back. So why worry about it now. Yesterday, it was HOT and will be again these next few days. These hazy August days remind me of being at my grandmother's sink, and she showing me how to cool off when it was really hot out. She'd run the water ice cold and direct me to put my upturned wrists under the running water. It helped, and still does... but just for awhile. Today, I'll sit back and just enjoy the heat!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fairy Houses

"When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about. And that was the beginning of fairies." Tinkerbell

Fairy houses? What's that all about, you say? I wanted to visit Mackworth Island for a couple of reasons. One being I had heard the fairy house population had grown since I last visited. I saw a lot, 75 or so, but I'd say there are many more hidden away throughout the trees. Some children were busily constructing their 'fairy mansions', as I made my way around to view all the magical creations. Based on my observations, they are small and intricate, mostly built close to the ground, made of natural materials(sticks, bark, seaweed and shells, moss, leaves, rocks etc.), and some almost hidden away from the eye. This is about all I know or EVER want to know about these magical entities. Oh, and one last thing, Tinkerbell taught me one thing in life-- Never mess with fairies!
Enjoy the weekend... going to be HOT here!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mackworth Trees

"We can never have enough of nature. We must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor." -Walden

Here are a few more shots of our afternoon walk Wednesday. To be so close to a city center and yet so far a way, at the same time, was quite remarkable. At times, I had this feeling we were cast away on some remote wilderness pathway in the North Maine Woods.





Thursday, August 13, 2009

Island Trail

Yesterday, we ventured out to Mackworth Island, across the causeway to Falmouth, under threatening skies to hike the perimeter trail. It had been a few years since we had been out there. In 1946, Governor Percival Proctor Baxter donated Mackworth Island, at the mouth of the Presumpscot River to the State of Maine. The 1 ¼ mile trail that loops the island's approximate 100 acres has magnificent views of of Casco Bay and Portland. I had forgotten what a different look Portland has from over here. Along the way, you can see plenty of activity on the water: seabirds, island ferries, lobster boats working their traps or maybe just a couple of friends dropping a line for the afternoon. Now a bit of trivia-- also on the island are the gravesites of the Governor's two dogs and his horse. Mackworth Island is now the home of the Gov. Baxter School for the Deaf. One of those wonderful close get-a-ways from the city... take a hike, bring a picnic lunch or dinner and take in the city and island views. Great time... for FREE!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Yesterday afternoon's foreboding sky eventually over took this sunny field, and the heavens emptied. Little lightening, not much thunder, but a whole lot of water. Sounds a bit funny after the wet July we had, but gardens around here really needed to quench their thirsts. After about an hour or so, bright sun... blue skies. These bales of hay that scatter fields in August and September are harbingers of the changing seasons, and remind us all how fleeting summer really is.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Creeping Ivy

Now, I know all this ivy can't be good for this apartment house on Danforth Street. It's right across the street from the St. Louis Catholic Church, the only Polish church in Maine. To tell you the truth, I didn't even know this parish was a part of the Diocese of Portland. Here in the West End these houses are nestled quite close together, and there is a lot of this greenery everywhere. Two windows gone a third disappearing soon at an apartment building near you.

Monday, August 10, 2009


The Elks Lodge #188 in Portland has a final resting spot for members at Evergreen Cemetery. Growing up nearby, the cemetery provided lots of outlets for things to do and other 'adventures'. Each time I ride by this elk, I remember a special connection to this statue. The Skeleton Club was a 'secret' club all the guys were a part of in our neighborhood. We held weekly meetings in our house's back cellar, collected dues, had elaborate passwords, planned activities(sleep outs, games of army in the woods, bike rides, baseball games against other teams etc.). We even had, what we considered, challenging initiations to enter this members-only club. I can't recall what they all were, but mine I remember almost minute. It was to go into the cemetery at 9 PM, travel the darkened roadways, somehow make my way to the elk, climb up on its cold back and retrieve what was stuffed behind its right ear. It had been put there hours ago by our President, Skipper. Round trip, from my backyard, through the woods, across Gulliver's Field, into and across the burial ground, to the base of the elk was about 2 miles, and when I returned, about a 1/2 hour later, I was out of breath, and every inch of clothing was drenched in sweat. But in my hand, I clutched a rolled up, soggy matchbook from the SUNOCO station at the corner. I was proud of myself. I was in! It was, indeed, a fun time and place to grow up!

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Here's the alleyway between Custom House Wharf and Portland Pier. If you can stand the smell, there's always something to take a look at around here. It's a favorite vantage spot of mine, when I'm venturing off Commercial. With the amount of time I spend down here, you'd think I'd enjoy fishing. One time, I do remember riding my bike down here with Eddie. He had a blast; fishing all day. Me? I don't think I put a line in the water. Spent my day investigating all the 'ins and outs' of the long pier and watching all the harbor traffic. At the end of the afternoon, I was dead tired and barely survived the bike ride home. Fly fishing up north with loads of black flies, fishing shows on TV with funny hosts, the excitement of risking your life off the Grand Banks? I guess I'll NEVER get it!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Old Car Ferry

Now, when most Mainers want a lobster dinner, they take a ride to the local grocery store, pay about $7 per, take 'em home, throw in a pot of boiling water, wait for the screaming to stop, and sit back with some hot butter and ENJOY! But if you are from 'away' and want to sample this tasty crustacean delight, Dimillo's Floating Restaurant will be one of the popular establishments where you will be directed to venture. Their slogan: "The clams you eat here today slept last night in Casco Bay." I always remembered Mom raving about the seafood at "Anthony's" on Fore Street and "Boone's" on Custom House Wharf. When they were out on the town, my Mom and her girlfriends would usually rotate between a few of their favorite restaurants, and these two were always first on their list. Tony Dimillo opened Anthony's in 1954 and since then there has always been a Dimillo family presence in the city's restaurant community. He opened "Dimillo's on the Waterfront" in 1965, and in 1982 moved across Commercial Street to the now iconic "Dimillo's Floating Restaurant" and began offering a large menu, with special emphasis on lobster and seafood. Can't speak for the lobsters there, but the fried clams are to die for! mmmmmmmmm!

Friday, August 7, 2009


"Life is too important to be taken seriously." Oscar Wilde

A man calls a lawyer's office. The phone is answered, "Schwartz, Schwartz, Schwartz and Schwartz." The man says, "Let me talk to Mr. Schwartz." "I'm sorry, he's on vacation." "Then let me talk to Mr. Schwartz." "He's on a big case, not available for a week." "Then let me talk to Mr. Schwartz." "He's playing golf today." "Okay, then, let me talk to Mr. Schwartz." "Speaking." -H. Youngman

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Summer Heat

Finally, summer has arrived around here. We've had a solid stretch in the 80s. That ol' Fahrenheit scale hasn't notched the 90s yet, but we'll take it. Most years, we'll get a taste of the triple H's (hazy, hot and humid) near the end of May. This year? It was not to be. Now, we've paced through June and July, and the weather seems more indicative of Seattle and their rain, then the East coast. Down around the Old Port yesterday, we got caught in a mid-afternoon cloud burst. We sat on the doorstep of Greenhut Gallery for 10 minutes or so to watch some rushing shoppers trying to make a destination between big raindrops. The smell of the rain on the pavement was invigorating! Here's a shot looking off toward Peaks and some gentle afternoon breezes. More summer coming throughout the remainder of the week. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


What do they say? When one door closes in life, another one opens? Certainly, when it comes to business establishments, it's true. Here's a side door at The Asylum on Center Street. It has three bars and a full schedule of live bands. I guess, it's a 'happening place'. I've never been past these doors... well, sort of... I visited this building many times in one of its former lives as The Art Gallery Restaurant. I remember it as having delicious steaks and a lively atmosphere for a dinner with good friends. I guess, I'm thinking about this this morning, because last evening we had friends over for a chicken barbecue. It had to be the best summer night we've had so far. When it finally broke up around midnight, it was still warm under a starry sky. It was a night full of mouth-watering food, wonderful friends, laughter and memories. How can you beat that?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Three Peaches

It's peach season! Local grocery stores seem to have packed bins these days. Sitting atop our chipped milk can, these three peaches look pretty special in the warm sun. Now, everyone probably has a peach story, myself included. During my caddying days, Mom would always throw a lunch together for me to take and eat on the course. Pretty simple really: most days it was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a peach. I liked 'em juicy or sometimes even under ripe. These would have the texture of a ripe apple. I'd gnaw at it and finally get the job done. I even remember sleeping out and raiding old man Oliver's tree in his back yard. Naughty boys! They were always under ripe though. The peaches always got their revenge... a set of bigtime cramps before morning. On the golf course, when the peach was finished, I'd take that stone and heave it as far as I could, somewhere off the fairway or into one of the many water hazards. Don't be surprised, if some day, Riverside is overrun with peach trees growing in abundance. So, celebrate summer today, and let the juice of an overripe peach run down your chin!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Green Door

Some sights, in my travels, send me tumbling towards bewilderment. This front door on lower Park Street seems more suited for country living than city. When I see sights like this I'm amazed. What's going on here? The lack of sunlight and the dampness are probably doing more damage than trying to preserve the out of control vegetation. It's quite a quaint little home, but you wouldn't know it. It needs some attention! A chainsaw, some trimming shears and about 30 minutes of my time would do wonders here. I'll get down off my soapbox now!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

1 Percent

I don't know about other states, but in the state of Maine 1 percent of all monies spent on any new construction of schools must be dedicated to art. The projects themselves can be in or outside on the grounds of the school and are often connected somehow to the the environment of the area, like lakes, rivers, mountains etc. Here's a closeup look at a piece of art that is part of a larger installation called "Gateway" in a garden nearby the Saco River. I call this simply '6 Balls', although I know it has an official name. This shot in the rain makes them shine.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Theme Day: Night

Today, August 1, is Theme Day in the CityDailyPhotoBlog community.
"Pour me somethin' tall and strong
Make it a hurricane before I go insane
It's only half past twelve, but I don't care
It's five o'clock somewhere"
When I saw this guy's shirt on the boardwalk, on my way to sample a sausage sub, I just had to hum the chorus of that Alan Jackson/Jimmy Buffet song; It's 5 O'clock Somewhere. As for my sub, make mine with peppers, onions, some tomato sauce and throw in a tall iced tea, of course. Hey, it's summer!