Monday, January 31, 2011

Blue Curtains

Into each day, some trash must fall--a faded Christmas wreath, a battered, discarded chair. I'm sure, in life, they served their time well. Whether we're the little ones that frequent these floors or others who have been there done that, we all need to search out 'creative pathways' to wind our way through this maze-like world we live in. Yes, art and play, along with some hard work sprinkled in for good measure should all be a part of our days.
And a couple of other random thoughts today brought to mind by these funky curtains: Blue Velvet, a quirky movie favorite, and of course the song Blue Velvet by Bobby Vinton... I hope you won't be humming that one all day.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Red Vase

Pictured here is a window of the former Baxter Public Library. This beautiful brick building is 122 years old and now continues in another life housing an ad agency and a marketing firm as main tenants. Life goes on. The new library is a modern, glass-facade structure sitting at the base of Monument Square. As I've blogged before, a lot of my high school evenings were spent here after 'papers' working to complete seemingly, endless American History papers. I struggled with the writing but loved the sights, sounds, smells and the characters that inhabited the rooms.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

River Frost

Along the Saco River, these trees have taken on a white tint probably from some of the river spray. Driving along this road, always makes me recall the small red record we had in our record box called, "Over the River and through the Woods" by Lydia Maria Child. It was originally written as a poem called "A Boy's Thanksgiving".
Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather's house we go;
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.
Over the river, and through the wood—
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
As over the ground we go.
Over the river, and through the wood,
To have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring, "Ting-a-ling-ding",
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!
Over the river, and through the wood
Trot fast, my dapple-gray!
Spring over the ground like a hunting-hound,
For this is Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river, and through the wood—
And straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
It is so hard to wait!
Over the river, and through the wood—
Now Grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Plowin' Along

These days, I like to pride myself in trying not to be in a rush for many things. I like the world to come to me. However, the other day I thought I had plenty of time to get from home into the city for an afternoon doctor's appointment. And I would have too, had I not run into these two plows near Stroudwater. I followed them to just beyond these two Mobil signs. Needless to say, I was was late on arrival. As I stepped off the elevator(15 minutes late), I heard the secretary on her phone utter these words. "Your 2:45 has arrived!" Ah, the best laid plans...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Winter Escape

Watch out! Look up! Falling ice! It's a frozen fire escape on Free Street, with treacherous steps with every move. Escape from the Great White North? My Mom and Dad lived their entire life, for the most part, within the confines of the great state of Maine. One sister moved West to Oregon, when her husband got relocated. Someday, she says they will return to the East. But where? Another sister ventured to Florida about 15 years ago and seems quite content there. My brother and I are basically 'lifers' here, although he lived in Massachusetts for a short time. Elenka's parents moved from Jersey (can it really be) 22 years ago to warmer climate of Florida, in a move that really shocked their two daughters. People can change! So just where does that leave us? Will we make an 'escape' to the South someday? You just never know. I must admit, we've thought about it recently, especially when we get a stretch of temps like our recent ones. I love this state dearly, everything about it. However, as that aging process kicks in a bit more each year, those warmer climes are looking better and better all the time. That change, if it happens, will be a very difficult move to make. Ah... an escape.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I got temporarily lost Sunday morning. Well, no not lost, I just took a wrong turn and got caught on a dead end street. It was the end of Anderson near Bayside. In the middle of many warehouses and businesses colored gray and off white these two buildings jump out at you. With more snow coming tonight and tomorrow, around here these days, my world is pretty white. Hey, color my world!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dot to Dot

This image, shot down at the ice from a bridge nearby, reminds me of growing up with two relics of youth... dot to dot puzzles and painting by numbers kits. You learned your numbers and, if you were lucky, got an interesting picture out of your efforts. My favorite out of the two though had to be the painting kits. They were special to me. On Christmas morning, Santa always dropped off a kit in my spot. Two of my memorable 'artistic efforts' were a mare and her colt in a field and a scenic shot of a covered bridge in autumn. I worked on them for weeks at a time, dabbing small angles of color all over the picture, number by number. When finished, I was quite proud of my efforts and stacked the painting on my bookcase for me to stare at while getting up each day. THAT was the extent of my art back then. I always jokingly say it's the reason I married an artist. That always gets a smile.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Frigid Walk

A late afternoon walk by One Longfellow Square, with its many placards on the windows, is just the remedy for the blues for some. Elenka and I passed on the stroll and took in a movie at the Nicolodeon Cinemas yesterday afternoon. We'd heard a lot of rave reviews about "The Kings Speech", so decided to see it. We weren't disappointed. Amazing movie! We highly recommend it.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Winter Trees

Against this ridge of snow, these apple trees wait in the wind. On Stevens, we lived on quite a rise that led to a neighborhood below. There was a trail that curved its way to Leo's backyard. In summer, even in the darkness, it was a 'trip' (when running fast) that might take all of about 20 seconds. However, winter nights held the most fun. After snowfalls like we've experienced the past few weeks, we'd drag a pathway, twisting and turning through the apple trees with many a dip and turn. Next, we'd smooth it out by flipping Grampa's snow scoop upside down, put a light-weight kid (Marty) on top and pull it all the way to the bottom, making it packed and very fast. And if it rained and froze... oh my! It was so much more exciting and hazardous then the toboggan runs we saw on TV during the Olympics. After all, it started out with a fast downhill swoop, past the huge elm on the left, up and down along the bushes ( with branches often slapping us in the face), around an almost hairpin turn (your sled needed to maneuver well, or you'd be thrown off course), along side our tree house, across the hidden cesspool, and down the Poisson's driveway. If we were lucky, it ended on Mayfield in the middle of the street. Run after run we traveled, screaming all the way. Only the full moon, lighting the way, could add to a night like that!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Shaker Barns

Set against a gray slate sky, these two shaker barns are at Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village near New Gloucester, Maine. On our trip back from Norway Lake last weekend , we stopped by for a quick walk. Whatever the season, the Village is always a welcome place for a camera. Situated at the top of a rise, it's such an idyllic and restful lay of land.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Iced Over

One of our kitchen windows was iced over with frost the other morning. When I was young, I couldn't resist etching some message in a frost covered sheet of glass. It was usually on the second story window seat overlooking Back Bay. These days I stop and ponder more at the intricate designs set upon the glass by nature's hand. At seven below zero, mother nature has quite a bit of artistic license to play with on this frigid canvas. It's exciting. Every time she 'paints,' it's an intriguing pattern.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Better Days

This new system laundry has seen better days, both inside and out, I bet. The now abandon warehouse sits on a Bayside property. I wonder just exactly what that wondrous 'new system' was back then. I remember when the old laundromat opened at the Corner. It immediately became sort of a hangout, especially on those frigid winter evenings. The heat, the aroma of spilled detergent, the laughter of good friends all blended to make memorable times. Flashback: one night, one of the girls brought in a portable record player, the Stones new album 'Between the Buttons" and turned it up to 10. Now, that just came out of nowhere! Sometimes, I wonder why memories bubble-up when they do.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Storm Front

An 'outhouse' and some struggling sunflower remnants are seen here yesterday afternoon weathering the storm up back. Eight more inches of white stuff have added to our winter coat around here. Days like yesterday, always remind me of our family's Sunday afternoon 'trips to nowhere'. One winter afternoon, Dad headed off, with us in the backseat, towards Falmouth on the old Blackstrap Road. At some point, he pulled over, in a light snow, to let us get a better view of some horses gallivanting around in the new fallen snow and eventually got stuck in the ditch. For us kids, it was fun, fun, fun. For Dad, not so much!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


At the Public Works garage a row of blades are primed and at the ready for anything that might fall their way. It reminds me of one of my favorite movies, Sling Blade(well, yes it did have Dwight Yoakam in it).
Latest weather report: snowy, messy, icy... maybe. That seems to be the best weather report here in the middle of Maine winters... just maybe. Ha! So maybe the blades will swing, and maybe they won't. If they swing, I'll be staying close with a bit o' Dwight playin'. So let those plow blades rumble down over the hill, I'll be a peace next to the woodstove and a cd or two.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dawn's Light

An icy morning breaks with a promise of more messy weather on the doorstep for tomorrow. I still remember how excited I was with that piece of mystery in my hands. It was a summer of my youth and only a few adults seemed to be clutching cameras. Here I was sitting on the Nelson's porch holding that Kodak, showing it off and eventually firing off a couple of rolls of my friends in stupid poses. I immediately ran home and begged Mom to take them to be developed. Soon after, I remember lifting the screen on my bedroom window and taking strange- angled pictures of the Corner at all times of day. Cameras have changed a lot, but not the drive to record my world and the people I meet.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


A winter afternoon on Norway Lake aka Lake Pennesseewassee is quite peaceful except for the occasional whine of a snowmobile off in the distance. Elenka and I came here yesterday, because it was a place near and dear to my Aunt Gloria. If in conversation, Norway or South Paris, Maine came up, she'd smile and always want to talk about her times lakeside growing up and her visits as an adult. She passed peacefully and serenely away this past week in Florida, after 86 strong, productive, laughter-filled, giggling years. I have many memories of this woman, but two that I hold dearest are these. Because she taught for the Defense Department overseas at US Air Force bases in Germany, France and Japan, visits home at Christmas were nonexistent; however, she always sent us kids an advent calendar from across. I think I've had one in my home ever since. They are special to me. But really, the greatest gift she gave to me was a silver Kodak camera, when I was ten. I'll never forget that birthday gift... I've been taking photographs ever since. Be at Peace. Love you Aunt Gloria.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Storm Relic

Not far from the house, this alleyway through a stand of spruce caught my eye, in the storm, the other day. It's a rather plain drive to Route 25 most days, but when it's storming all bets art off. Get your camera at the ready. There are many subjects waiting. It's 2 above this morning. That makes me a bit lazy. However, we're taking a drive to Norway Lake this weekend. Something draws us there.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lake Ice

It hasn't happened yet, but it's getting there. Sebago will be frozen over soon. Stopped by the boat launch the other morning, before the snow hit, and the sounds being emitted were eerie. Thanks to a good blow, these small, thin layers of glass-like ice were being moved back and forth and all around creating quite a lot of racket. At first it wasn't noticeable, then I couldn't get that noise out of my head. In a few more weeks, a myriad of ice shacks will be dotting this view. Now, that's winter in southern Maine.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Yesterday, I thought I take a trip into the city to get some storm shots. Got as far as the main drag, grabbed a coffee and a slice of breakfast pizza, thought better of it and headed home. I really didn't want to get caught in a major traffic jam coming home. Two to three hours in a car in some major snow would not be a fun way to end the afternoon. So, it ended up an afternoon on the couch watching a Laurel and Hardy film fest on TCM. I'm addicted to them! It was 24 hours of hilarity. I could watch them for hours. Hey, I did!
btw- We got 15 inches at the back door.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Off Road

This is one of the many private roads near the Saco River. I think there is one farmhouse at the end. I know in the summer there are lots of cows in fields nearby. This back road will look a lot different by this evening. We've got about 10 inches on the way. Believe in old wives' tales? One I've heard is a winter with little snow means lots of sickness abounds. Let it snow. let it snow. Let it snow!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Track Fun

Spent a lot of time in my youth near a couple of sets of tracks. One, the main line, visited many times daily by trains on trips north to Canada. The other was a seldom used stretch behind Lewis Lumber. Unlike the fast diesels that ran on the other, this one was frequented by work engines pushing rail cars of sawdust and lumber back and forth. You probably know where I'm going with this. When we saw one heading down this set of tracks, we scurried and emptied our pockets of coins and placed them on the rails. Pennies were the favorite; Most of the guys had these. I liked quarters, but that was me. Last of the big time spenders, I guess. Wanna know a secret? If I get the chance,and a train is coming far enough away, I'll lay a coin. It's just so much fun to hear the squeaking tracks and find the flattened image of Washington. I'm still pretty much a kid!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Morning After

There was a dusting of snow the other night. These four horses, covered with blankets, tried to keep warm hangin' in the early morning sunshine. They were quite interested in what I was up to walking near their corral. Here's a tale I'm reminded of looking at this scene. A local family, a quick walk from our house on Stevens, kept a donkey with a outbuilding for cover against the elements. Often we'd secret(can I use that as a verb? Twain did.) ourselves through a pathway, across the railroad tracks and come up right next to his corral. Now, this animal wasn't nice. He was an ornery beast! It was always hee-hawing at all hours of the day and evening, and if you got near his pen, he'd always seem to want a take a little nip out of you. One time a gal, of not more than 5 or 6, when visiting the yard with her sisters, got picked up, tousled about and thrown into his stall. He took some bites out of the child's head and shoulder. Luckily, someone jumped in and pulled the girl to safety and an ambulance was soon on the scene. It was some scary moments for the family of that child. Soon after, the donkey vacated the premises. That burro was a real Ass!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Work Gloves

Nearby a ceramic kiln, these gloves stand by to do their job. Not that I spend a lot of time around a kiln, but I have suffered from cold hands most of my life. I think it all started back when I thought it was so cool to go without mittens and gloves back and forth to school. I also seemed to always come in from play with cold extremities and wet mittens. I spent lots of painful minutes trying to thaw out on top of our big radiators. In later life, doctors tell me a lot of hours running my chainsaw didn't help my circulation much. So I struggle a bit now with Raynaud's Syndrome. I'm paying the price; basically, it's a pain in the fingers. Now that I think about it, it would really help things if I did spend my winter days hanging around a warm kiln.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Eternal Rest

It is a magnificent building both inside and out, but I have visited it, over the years, way too many times. The Conroy-Tully Crawford Funeral Home sits on State Street quite close to Mercy Hospital. If memory serves me right, I do believe the first time I set foot within the front doors, with Mom and Dad, was for the wake of a childhood friend TG. He was 19 and passed away do to kidney complications and in the end failure of the organ altogether. As I remember, it all happened way too fast. We boys had no idea he was sick and had struggled with this illness since birth. Eddie and I did get in to see him two nights before he died. When we were leaving, Mrs. G- came up to us outside his room, and she was in quite an emotional state, crying terribly. I was confused to say the least. Two days later, I understood. I'm sure we've all had similar events in our teen years. This is one unpleasant memory that won't leave me, and I guess that's a good thing. No kid this young, with a world yet to unfold, needs to leave this world so early. And let me be a bit selfish for a moment-- no teen of 17 needs to suffer the loss of a dear friend at such a pivotal point in his life. Peace.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Independent Spirit

In the city, lots of the snow has disappeared, but don't fret. It will be replenished soon. Saturday, next week... it's coming. I do appreciate this lone leaf's independent spirit, lurking in the undergrowth. Just as soon as the snow flies, I say pleasant dreams to Mr. Leaf til April.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Here is a curving wall and stairway leading to Masterson Hall on the campus of the University of Southern Maine. This building's design and wear is in stark contrast to yesterday's shot of the 3 story tenement on Valley Street. Like most small cities, Portland has an interesting blend of buildings that are the old and the new, the historical and the eye-sores, the abandon, and the lived in. This is one of my favorite structures on the Portland campus. I think it carries a nice look inside and out. A while back, I received my Master's Degree here in the city.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Rear View

Off in the distance, an edge of the vast Maine Medical Center lurks. One year ago today, I awoke confident(from a prep day) on the 4th floor(it was my first night EVER in a hospital), but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit hesitant about the clock reaching noon that day. At the appointed hour, E- and J- bid their emotional adieus, and orderlies wheeled me into the operating room for heart surgery to the sound of Springsteen and the E Street band off in the distance. I looked above me at a clock that read 12:08 PM, and that was it. The next thing I remember, it was 12 hours later, and I was begging for slices of ice from a nurse named Katie. She called me by name and said she'd be with me til dawn. I was very uncomfortable ( I felt I was twisted like a pretzel) but on my way to recovery. Today, I've reached the 365 day mark, and I continue to push on, upbeat and positive. As the sign on your rear view mirror reads... "objects may appear closer than they are". Live for tomorrow and for those you love!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ft. Williams Swing

Really now, would you put you kid or grandkid in this swing? Take a close look at it. Yes, they look like stains of some sort to me. At 820 Stevens Avenue, my grandfather made us a large, wooden swing set that ended up being the local hangout days and nights through the seasons. I mean it was big. He used two telephone poles to anchor the main system. As I remember, there were 3 swings to take your chances on. At night or during the day, it was a wonderful place to 'hang out' and just shoot the breeze with friends. Who was going out together? What were our plans for tomorrow? Want to sleep out? Who was the better Williams or Mantle? I loved that set of swings. In eighth grade Ms. Storer had us memorize a poem and give a brief story about why we chose the poem we did. I picked "The Swing" by Robert Louis Stevenson. To me, it said it all. By the way, I 'nailed' the memorization, talked a bit about what we kids did on the swings and mentioned the great work by Grampa. But I'll tell ya, Grampa wouldn't let my butt touch this contraption that I found at Ft. Williams Park. Ha!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Moose Antlers

On the UNE (University of New England) campus on Stevens Avenue this "Made Moose" looks skyward into a rainy morning. As I've written before, I spent a lot of time, in my youth, on this campus, when it was Westbrook College, and in the cemetery nearby. I know it would be hard to believe, but back then a little mischief and a bit of trouble often found their way to me and the boys. You've heard of miniature golf; I'm sure. Really, I thought 'cemetery golf' had a real chance to make it. Funny. The superintendent of the cemetery thought otherwise. The Art Gallery building now sits upon land that use to be the field hockey field. I stopped by often, on my way home from Lincoln Junior, to watch the games. I didn't quite understand the rules, but those gals running around in kilts were to die for, even back then. Ah... I could dream.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Take Stock

New Years Day is always a good time to STOP and take stock. As we get older, we tend to more and more be like Janus, of Roman Mythology fame. His two faces served him well. They gave him the power to look back at where he had come and to see ahead towards the future. Me? I like to think I've learned from my past experiences, mistakes as well as successes, and look ahead towards uncharted waters with excitement, tempered with caution. It's what I was taught as a child, and it has served me well. My resolves for the coming year are few but so very important to me and the ones I love. I'll continue to follow a simple credo: Make a plan; Keep to the plan; Plan for the unexpected.
*This photo was taken recently behind a warehouse just off Canco Road. These, now abandon tracks, used to lead to a crossing known, in the area, as Hell's Gate.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 Photo of the Year?

Can you select a best photo of the year? Is it really possible to answer this question? How about this one? Of all your children, which one is your favorite? How can you possible choose? As a matter of fact, this time of year on TV: news, sports, entertainment, etc. is filled with my bane-- looking back at the year in review. I dislike immensely the year in retrospect, or anything(including music) that is prefaced by the words: "Best of 2010". So when looking back at my photos of 2010, I stopped in March-- the 16th to be exact. I give up! I can't do it! I detest this job I have to do. Oh well, next year, I'll probably just post a new picture. A Resolution for the coming year? I've got to stop complaining in '11.
This March shot, in the rain at Monument Square with the lime umbrella, is a favorite.
By the way--- Happy 1/1/11