Thursday, December 31, 2009

Frozen Apple

Happy One Year Anniversary to me!
On December 31, 2008, I started posting a photo a day with a bit o' me thrown in for good measure. I had always wanted to do something with my photos... some sort of project that involved a daily taking of a picture. The CityDailyPhotoBlog fit the bill. Looking back over the days, it is very much like a diary in nature. I must admit there were a few days that were laborious, but finding the images and the stories were fun. Thank you to all who have stopped by to take a look. Now, about today's photo-- believe it or not there are still about 50 or so golden delicious(?) still on the tree out back, but they have changed from yellow two weeks ago to a brown-orange now. Oh, and they are frozen solid. The deer, that make there way through the woods each afternoon to the tree, have no complaints.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Seasonal Color

A little ice with combinations of red and green make a match for the season. Yesterday, lots of black ice dotted the landscape and made for some tricky early morning driving, and in my case some carefully maneuvering to the bottom of the driveway with the trashcans. However, it also meant that the camera had to come out early, before the fire in the woodstove even. Buildings and scenic downtown images would have to wait for another time. With my 4-wheel drive, snow I can take, but ice can be a whole different matter. Sometimes it's like recklessly, riding the bumper cars at OOB or the spinning teacups at Disney. You never know what direction you're going to go, or where you're going to end up. Ice, steep hills and your vehicle can make for a treacherous combination. Be safe out there!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hat, Moose, Wreath

Let me ramble a bit. When entering the back hallway these days, you'll catch this sight. Its an image that captures three of my many loves... the holidays, Maine and the old West. No, I don't line dance, no my car radio is NOT tuned to country western stations, and I do not own a pair of western boots; 'not that there's anything wrong with that'. Dancing? No interest! Country Western music? When it comes to music these days I know what I like and to tell you the truth, I'll listen to pretty much anything. I've been told my musical interests are eclectic, and I guess I'd have to agree. My truck radio is tuned to some talk radio, sports, WBach, NPR, a local college station(Vietnamese puck rock?) a classic rock station and Maine's longtime flagship rock outlet WBLM(it's the Blimp, it's the Blimp). However, I won't change the dial, if a favorite Dwight Yoakam or certain Brad Paisley tune comes up, and if I ever get around to reloading more music on my iPod, I'll probably make sure some of their newer stuff is added. Meanwhile, keep a fire in the wood stove and some good music playing.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Snowy Library

Off in the distance, through the snow, you can see the USM(University of Southern Maine) Portland Library. In the foreground, tennis anyone? I think not. The building was built in 1919 as a bakery and operated as such until 1954. After that, Johnson’s Plumbing Supply Company occupied the structure. Once a state-of-the-art baking facility, the building had the load-bearing capability to house a Library. When it opened as the USM Glickman Family Library in 1991, it was identified by students as the 'Lego building' due to its interesting design at the top and color scheme. Growing up in the city, this building was always a landmark, as you approached the hill to head up to Congress Street.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Play's the Thing

This playground is caught in a desolation mode. A few days before Christmas, up on Eastern Promenade, no snow, no kids, no spirit. Just a cold biting wind, that makes 10 minutes outside without a windbreak seem like a lifetime. However, there is a fabulous view up there, if you can stand it, even on a winter morning. It seems like kids today need elaborate mazes, castles or some sort of theme to tantalize them on the playground at schools and neighborhoods, that is if you can pull the away from the Xboxes and iPhones. For me, give me a chained swing, monkey bars and a teeter totter and I was a happy kid. Really, my wants still are few, my life style simple, and my aim is true. At least, I like to think so.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Reindeer Rest

Shopping completed, gifts opened, cheer shared with good friends and reindeer are at rest. This one's happy to be on this side of the glass this morning. Now a look back on yesterday here: we had a wonderful time at our home with close friends, lots of stories, laughter and meaningful toasts. Now, the wild ride continues for another week with the year and the decade in review stories. My surgery has been rescheduled for the first of the year, and hopefully, a week of tying up some loose ends and working on a project will keep my mind occupied. A mind occupied is a mind positive, upbeat and ready. That's me! At least how I feel right now.

Friday, December 25, 2009

December the 25th

Pardon me as I reminisce--- As I remember it, we were always a bit envied in the neighborhood by our friends on the 25th, because we got our gifts from Santa in the morning, then in the afternoon my grandparents came over, and we got more gifts. It was like two Christmases in one day. In the morning, it was my brother and I getting matching cowboy outfits, our NHL hockey game(that was a hit with the guys right through til February) and the Roy Rogers stagecoach with all the accessories, while the girls got the easy bake oven, kitchen and their new dolls. In the afternoon, it was what Nana Josie called 'having the tree'. My grandparents and Aunt Mildred would come over about 2 PM. Their black Chevy laden with more packages, mostly for us kids. Among those gifts, there was ALWAYS a new pair of pajamas for each of us and gag gifts of Campbell's Tomato Soup wrapped up in gigantic boxes. I believe that Nana got as much of a kick out of the afternoon 'tree' as we did-- maybe more. Looking back, we really didn't get a lot in our 'haul', but we got wonderful, loving reminders to dwell upon. I, for one, open these 'packages of memories' with joy and smiles each December the 25th. Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tree Ornaments2

Well, I headed into the city yesterday afternoon to get a twilight shot of my favorite tree in the Oaks. The one I had photographed earlier in the week(12/20) with the large ornaments. What do they say about best laid plans of mice and men? In a poem by Robert Burns the actual quote is "the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley." The poem is written in Scots rather than English. I guess that explains the last three words. I just say 'stuff happens' to us all. Anyway, when I reached the park, half the trees were lighted, and the rest were dark. Yup, you guessed it the tree to be photographed was in the latter group. Not to be deterred, I moved to the right and shot this one of a tree, lights and skaters in the shadows. The camera just doesn't do the beautiful lighting justice. This evening, we'll attend the 7PM service at the First Parish Congregational Church in Gorham and then return to the homestead for dinner and a sharing of Christmas stories, our night before Christmas family ritual. Perhaps selections from: A Christmas Carol, The Polar Express, A Child's Christmas in Wales, and A Visit from St. Nicholas.
Christmas Eve brings back special memories to me. The four of us, sitting at the foot of our evergreen, staring intently at the sparkling tinsel cover, drinking Mom's homemade eggnog with always a piece of raw egg at the bottom of my glass(Yuk!) and finally singing carols with Mom at the big piano. After that, we all headed up the stairs, with or without 'visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads.' Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Carriage Ride

As the late afternoon sun cascades across buildings on upper Exchange, holiday carriage riders sing carols and drink hot chocolate too keep warm. For quite a few years, when J- was younger, this venture from Monument Square down through the Old Port streets was a staple of our holiday season. The ride, along with a Christmas carol sing-a-long and the lighting of the PMA copper beech tree were must dos to really get in the holiday mood. The jingling of the horses' bells, the freezing temperatures and the chance to wave at the bystanders and wish them a Merry Christmas brought back my own 'christmas memories' of long ago. "It's fruitcake weather..." from "A Christmas Memory" By Truman Capote

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Early morning temps, significantly below freezing, are the norm these winter days around here. Now, I glance back... and take a gaze ahead to January. Ok, as most of you know, we're doing a rewind on my 'little adventure'. My white blood cell count was way down, due to an antibiotic I was taking earlier in the month. On December 14, I had my id bracelet attached and had been assigned my room, when the doctor called and basically said, " Not so fast my friend!" In some ways, it was like getting a reprieve from the Governor at the 11th hour. My mental state took the blow really, and since then I've been attempting to focus 'positive vibes' on my new date in early 2010. J- said to me, the night before I was to head in to MMC, "Dad, thanks for being so positive about your surgery. You, being so upbeat and all, made it very less stressful and scary for everybody". So, the holidays are mine, and that's a very good thing. Then we'll refocus, and try it again in early 2010.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice

Winter officially arrives today at 5:47 PM, but I've got to tell you, it's been around here for a while now. On Coyle summers and winters after returning from college, I 'lived' on the third floor, away from the rest of the family, and I loved it. I had my hotplate for tea and such, a small black and white TV to watch some college basketball on, a big overstuffed chair to kick-back and study for my masters and a small bathroom with a window that looked out and up Clifton Street. I remember it as a fabulous place to get an early take on the day's weather, after the radiator took the frost from the window. Up early, I was always faced with the pane iced-over though, in a seemingly Van Goghish canvas. One of my sisters, I think the oldest, coined the third floor room the 'monastery' with a thin, India print tapestry covering the window. Early mornings in winter, it was cold up there--- just the way I liked it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tree Ornaments

Here's a different take on ornaments. Look closely here, artist Pandora LaCasse decorates, trees, buildings and light posts throughout the city for the holiday season. These lights, found in Deering Oaks, are magnificent against a dark December night. Heading back home on late afternoons these days, it's always worth it to take a swing down Park Avenue and view these and other lights in the park. I'll post a photo soon of the trees ablaze at night.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Afternoon Shopping

Went shopping last Saturday with my sister and E- in the frigid temperatures of our 2009 December. It's a great way to get in the mood of the season, and we did! However, yes, I know I was a no show at Merry Madness two nights ago(doctor's orders), but I'm sure the festivities survived a year without me. Pass the word... I'm back next year! At least I didn't have any added pressure of 'fixing' anyone up this year. Whew!!! In the long run, I think I really did a fine job. My technique: pretty simple, really- til the soil, plant the seed, water occasionally add a pinch of sunlight(my sparkling face) and then just take a step back... MAGIC? success?! or disaster?! It's interesting to watch. eHarmony has nothing on me! It's -3 this early AM... cuddle up!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Snow Bridge

Here's the stone bridge in the Oaks caught in last week snow. The sticky whiteness adorned just about anything in sight. When heading out with my Nikon, there are quite a few spots I'm drawn to in the city. This is one of them; four seasons, four different and distinctive looks and feels.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


A couple of festive Christmas wreaths adorn the front doors of the Cathedral Church of St. Luke's. My buddy PM says that the Cathedral has one of the best Christmas Eve services in the city or surrounding churches for that matter. Plenty of Christmas music sing-a-longs and some good looking unattached single women. Ah... some things in life never change.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas from Across

The holiday season in Maine, the state where they say Christmas trees are born, is always a special time for every girl and boy. My childhood memories of this time are filled with many family times with my brother and sisters. The excitement began to build soon after the turkey had been cleared off the table on Thanksgiving. But the start of the holiday season was not marked by holiday sales at local stores, decorations being hung, or carols heard while shopping. For us, the true start of Christmas was the arrival of a simple calendar from my Aunt Gloria, who was never home for Christmas. My mother's sister taught school at a US Air Force base in Aviano, Italy. She couldn't make it home for the holiday, but she sent us packages that we stared at in amazement til the 25th. But it was the simple advent calendar, that Mom hung on the refrigerator door, that really marked the beginning of the season. As soon as it arrived, usually just after Turkey Day, we would tear open the package to see the scene depicted that year. Some times it was Santa in his workshop, other years it was a beautiful nativity scene, but we would sit on the floor and take in every little section of the design. Each morning in December we'd take turns opening the little doors to spy what might be hidden behind the day. Sometimes it was a little bear or toy drum... so simple, but what fun and smiles it brought to our home. Did my aunt ever know, that over in Europe at the foot of the rugged Alps, that a few dollars would bring us such happiness and cheer? I bet not, but it did for all of us, Mom and Dad included. Now, as we do with all our special holiday memories, we pass them along to our children. So this morning, we rush to the kitchen again and seek out today, December 16th, open a small paper door, smile at the 'dish of cookies' and remember back to many Christmases growing up in Maine.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Looking out on a sunny afternoon via Maine Potters Market. This caught my wife's eye first..."Hey, look at that." She said. It has that holiday look to it. Spent the afternoon visiting shops up and down Exchange and then grabbed a big dish of Irish nachos at Bull Feeney's. D-lish! By the way, it's the ONLY lamb I can handle. You know, I'm a sensitive guy!

Monday, December 14, 2009


"Time, time, time what's become of me; While I looked around for my possibilities; I was so hard to please."
Hazy Shade of Winter P. Simon

My little 'adventure' starts this morning. I'm ready, willing and able. If you want a daily blow by blow, stop by:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sister's Fryes

My sister is visiting for the week. It's been great fun so far. She's helped me keep my mind off my impending surgery and on more important things like family time, shopping and the all the holiday trappings. Stress? Am I suppose to feel some? Nothing! At least not yet. She and others here at home have definitely kept me off the 'ledge'... if you know what I mean. I'm ready for whatever comes my way; I'm upbeat and attempting to stream positive vibes about my upcoming 'adventure', and I think I've done a pretty good job. Fryes? Ya, I had a couple of pairs in my travels. Bought them both at Harvard Square, as I remember. So this Sunday, I'm enjoying my last day of freedom-- chili, Patriots, Christmas music and tying up loose ends.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Shadows and Light

Shadows and light, shadows and light. For me everything in the world really comes down to shadows and light. In paintings, photographs, and living really-- they're constant weaving and bobbing throughout our days. The struggles we face, the laughter and tears that intermingle in each of our 24 hours. I think I'm a pretty positive person that pokes his way through his day and occasionally, like a wild sail, I stray a bit off course and need to be redirected back. Luckily, I have a wonderful first mate who often applies a well directed kick to my butt. She's taught me a lot about myself, whether I want 'learn' it or not. And she's a master of shadows and light... on the canvas and in life.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Up Hill

Been spending time a lot of time recently at doctors' offices. Next week, I'm heading in for a little procedure to clear a few things up. I'm upbeat and positive about it and can't wait to get into recovery mode. Thanks to all my family and friends' support-- they have greatly reduced the stress. I'm thinking 'happy thoughts' as Tinkerbell kept saying in Peter Pan. I guess I'm channeling my 'inner peter pan' this morning. Mom would be happy; she always said, "Will you ever grow up? Are you really Peter Pan?" My retort was always, "I hope not!" Here's a look, through glass, up the hill towards the crest at Congress Street from one of my doctor's offices.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Park Row

These Park Avenue flats hunker down in the heart of the blizzard conditions yesterday. The snow was wet and driving most of the morning and made driving conditions a bit sketchy. I took a short walk in the Oaks, but it was too miserable, even to take pictures. Basically, I had the park to myself, oh, except for some idiot trying negotiate his bike in the 4 inches of snow in the city. He was on the losing end of that battle. On the way back to the truck, this image of colors against the snow, caught my eye. The backyard got about 9 inches of wet stuff. My sister, from the left coast, arrives this afternoon for a visit of a week or so. As you might expect, I'm looking forward to this time together.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Spooky Tooth

Well, on the back deck, our jack-o-lantern is getting really scary and is just about ready for the compost pile. We've had one here since we moved in and it's served us well. It's up the hill next to the garden. Today, I'll be running a few errands around a couple of appointments. All this while trying to dodge the snowflakes. More snow coming maybe 4-8 inches. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


December 8, 1980... the day a piece of MY music died. Hearing Howard Cosell relate the news to the Monday Night Football audience(Patriots vs Dolphins) was like taking a solid hit to the stomach that, in some ways, still has me reeling to this day. Always wanted to visit Strawberry Fields and had the chance recently. Found the late afternoon visit a bit eerie with The Dakota lurking over my shoulder. You got to think the high gables, the balustrades, the gas lanterns burning even in the daytime, and the black iron gates leading into the open interior courtyard lend you that spooky feeling.
RIP John Winston Ono Lennon.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Garden Snow

The first snow always brings memories flooding back. The big flakes I love the best. Open wide and just gulp 'em down! I STILL do it to this day. Did it last evening on the way to a party.
-a selection from
The First Snowfall-
The snow had begun in the gloaming,
And busily all the night
Had been heaping field and highway
With a silence deep and white.

Every pine and fir and hemlock
Wore ermine too dear for an earl,
And the poorest twig on the elm-tree
Was ridged inch deep with pearl.

I stood and watched by the window
The noiseless work of the sky,
And the sudden flurries of snow-birds,
Like brown leaves whirling by.
-By James Russell Lowell

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Snow Tree

Finally, it arrived late yesterday afternoon and continued well into the night. Our first snow- the first of many I'm sure. Six inches of nature's white stuff that will be enough to break out the snowblower this morning. For me, there's always something peaceful and reassuring about winter's first dusting. It's one of Mother Nature's subtle nudges that reminds us that she is still in control around here. On Stevens and Coyle, were always 'blessed' with very long driveways that we kids had to clear by the time Dad got home in the afternoon. As I remember, it was usually me that led the way, and sometimes just me- all the way to the end. My grandfather's classic Cole's snow scoop was a constant companion in most of these winter storms. One of my first jobs, as I remember, was clearing the walkway of snow at Casco Bank down at the corner. Another of Dad's second jobs was cleaning the bank each afternoon and the task of clearing the snow was assigned to me. The sidewalk there had to be done by 9 AM when the bank opened. I think he paid me for this; I really can't remember for sure. These days though, with my trusty snowblower,... Let it snow!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Longfellow Redux

Well, the dream is over once and for all! Like most precious images we want to relive over and over, but alas like a perfect blue-pink bubble from my vintage cowboy bubble pipe, it's drifting off forever! Put the cat out, shut down the lights, roll in the bar-b-que grill, chop that last bit of oak, Elvis has left the building-- it's time. We want our 'magic' moments to freeze forever. We want to be able to carry them around in our wallets like pictures of our love ones and an occasional Ted Williams crumpled, rookie card. We're selfish like that. And why not it's lone cold, lonely winter around these parts. That guy Cupo tells me we're getting 2-4 inches tonight. It had to happen sometime soon. But I really 'don't need a weatherman to tell me which way the wind blows'. This morning's gray, silk canvas sky tells me all I need to know. Mom, holding my hand, as we stand on the back breezeway, looks towards the Stanley's and says, "can ya smell it?" "Mom, smell what?" I say. "Snow! It's coming, tonight, sweatheart." I gulp the biggest breath I can.
Heck, even Longfellow's ready here!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Opening Night

It's opening night for the Maine Red Claws. The NBA D-League comes to Portland tonight, as the Maine Red Claws( with players from the the Boston Celtics and Charlotte Bobcats) take on the Springfield Armor at the Portland Exposition Building. Will basketball FINALLY work in Maine? We'll see soon. It's been tried before in the city and in Bangor. Remember the Maine Lumberjacks? Beyond the D-League, the Expo has quite a history. I've witnessed the Harlem Globetrotters with Cab Calloway, lots of concerts by bands before they hit the big time, and loads of high school basketball double-headers. They even hold the Maine Brewers Festival here in early November each year to packed house. So will this venture make it in city like the Seadogs(AA baseball) and the Pirates(AHL hockey) A full house tonight-- but will the fannies still be there in late March-- only time will tell.
*ps See you Kitty at 6!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sleight of Eye

Nothing up my sleeve! Things often are not exactly what they appear, and this is a great example. Here at Tommy's Park, this, at first glance, appear to be the facade of an office building looking out towards Commercial Street and the water. Ah... but not so fast, my friend! What we have here is another building mural. The red-canopied entrance to The Grill Room and a few other windows are the real thing, but that's about it. From a distance the art works, but up close it looks like just a painted wall. Interesting. When all the leaves in these trees are gone, the mural is striking. Now, would you like to see a rabbit pulled out of my hat?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cold December

Here at the corner of Middle and Exchange Streets in the Old Port an early winter afternoon winds down. Most years, when the calendar turns to December, I start thinking of two favorite activities. One comes the week before Christmas and that's Merry Madness, an evening when most shops in the Old Port stay open til 10 PM. The 'Madness' usually starts at a local hotel with holiday music, adult beverages and good friends. It's always a festive night, and sometimes I'll even make a purchase. Another tradition of sorts is our family's sojourn to the Old Port area the weekend before the holiday. We dress warm and just meander shop to shop, taking in the holiday music and the spirit of the season. The afternoon always ends at the Christmas Noel, a store that specializes in creative Christmas ornaments. J- purchases a new one each year for his tree. It's a wonderful way to get you in the mood. This year? It'll be a bit different, but just as spirited, I'm sure. Happy December!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Theme Day: WAITING

Today, December 1, is Theme Day throughout the CityDailyPhotoBlog community. This past Saturday, we stopped by Rockefeller Center on our latest road trip to check out some of the city lights and sounds. Most of the audios and visuals of the season were mostly in final preparation stages for tomorrow's tree lighting that kicks off the holiday in NYC. These gigantic Christmas tree lights are waiting to take on their festive glow. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1! Ahhhh!