Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Toy World

Forget Legos! Forget K'nex! My world was always about Lincoln Logs. Invented by the son of Frank Lloyd Wright, (John L. Wright), these notched-wood, interlocking beam log sets entertained my brother and me for hours at a time across the living room floor. We built elaborate forts for our little green soldiers and camp sites for our Roy Rogers' stage coaches. Although there were designs where you could build Uncle Tom's Cabin and Abraham Lincoln's log cabin, the 'Lincoln' was named after FLW's father and based on the design of the architect's Tokyo's Imperial Hotel. Did you know that? I didn't. Laugh all you want at these little red suckers, but they got the inventor into the National Toy Hall of Fame and me out of my mother's hair for hours upon hours. That was my 'lego world', and I also must admit that I LOVED the smell of the logs in the box. Kinda strange, I know.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Iced Pumpkin

Mary Chapin Carpenter sings, "Sometimes you're the windshield
Sometimes you're the bug.
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you're just a fool in love."
It's all about your perspective. This pumpkin next to the garden fence looked pretty 'halloweenie' back in October, but to me, it's even more exciting this morning iced-in. Human nature's a funny thing. Take brothers and sisters. On one level, so close in blood, yet they often are so different in so many ways. Some are subtle; others strikingly unique. To each their own, as they say. Vive la difference!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Three Windows

Each time we attend a performance at Portland Stage Company, I look out across Forest Avenue to these three windows. It looks to be a cozy apartment with two residents. There's always a TV flickering across the room, a couple of standing lamps, at least two large chairs, next to a window, a side table with a stack of magazines and to the rear of the unit: just darkness. Against the center window, in one of the chairs sits a gentleman. I wonder, if he knows, that people (well, at least me) might be spying into his world. It reminds of the six-links building that I delivered papers to when I was just a sprout. I always liked peeking into residents' lives on collection day. There were always interesting aromas and warmth emanating from those rooms. We spend our days and evenings 'painting' our life stories, dabbing pigments across a sheet . Sitting in his comfortable chair, just after Thanksgiving, I wonder what's on today's canvas?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Oak Leaves

This morning's image was taken this Friday, after the snowfall, at East End Community School. As you can see, the city and along the coast got just a dusting as opposed to inland where we received 8 inches. Never been to southern Maine? A mere 15 miles or so can really mean a lot when dealing with snowfall amounts, especially when you are near the water. Even summer temperatures can vary quite a bit. So sometimes it IS important to be a 'weatherman to know which way the wind blows'. These oak leaves wave resiliently against the early winter sky. They'll be around awhile too. They say "no" to bright, fall colors! They say "no" to politely falling to the ground in autumn! I admire the fight in them!

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Friday morning, this white truck was delivering groceries to restaurants on upper Forest Avenue. For me, Friday, after the turkey, was always a GREAT day. Why? I think I've told you this before. Thick, turkey breast sandwiches with lettuce and lots of mayo. Would it be sacrilegious to say that I really enjoy this MORE than a turkey dinner? Shhhh! Don't tell. Last night we took in the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at Monument Square and then strolled to Grace for a holiday libation. It was a mild evening for late November, very nice. Today, I will attempt to prepare my first turkey dinner ever. Ok, it's true. The jig is up. I will be assisted by a true, culinary genius in the kitchen. She will direct, and I'm sure help wipe away my tears from time to time. And tomorrow, if everything works out? Ah... leftovers!

Friday, November 25, 2011


Some of my friends have headed South, and after 'surviving' the Parade yesterday, I want to get away too. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was always a staple in our house, amid the wonderful aromas of the bird and all its fixins in the oven. My brother and sisters would sit mesmerized in front of our Philco, as we watched floats, bands and balloons come, one after another, across the screen. It was a ritual of the day in our home. Today, I must admit, those days are gone, but I still do like to find and watch it for a few minutes so I can still say, "there, I watched it.", even for just a few fleeting moments. Hey, call me an old 'fuddy-dutty' ( Sheeesh, I can't believe I called myself that), but yesterday, as I searched the screen for my clown buddy Gary, decked out in his safari gear, I almost wanted to throw a turkey leg at the screen. I had to ask or scream, as I subjected myself to the ridiculous TODAY Show hosts pandering their way through act after act on 'stage' in front of Macy's, where was the PARADE? Anne, Matt, Al and Macy's, it was an embarrassing 3 hour display. I had to shut 'er down! I couldn't even wait for my favorite part, Santa. You should ALL be ashamed! But knowing you guys, you probably thought it was wonderful. Do me and many more a big favor, crawl out from under you rock you are living under and bring back the PARADE!
... and nope, never caught a glimpse of Gary. Thanks, Macy's!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Over the River...

Yesterday afternoon, we went to see the movie The Way again. It's the story of a man who comes face to face with the greatest challenge of his life and ends up walking the Camino de Santiago, also known as the The Way of Saint James and ends up finding 'his way'. Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks, family, football and, of course, food. I always take it for a time to reflect. Where am I? Where am I going? There's a wonderful quote in the movie that speaks to this for me. A son corrects his Dad saying, "You don't choose your life... you live your life." For me, I'll be reflecting on this today. Find your 'way' and live it!

*See this movie. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Backyard Snow

Well, it has gone and happened. There were eight inches of snow on the ground to greet us this morning. The plow has passed the house 3 times now since about 4 AM. I guess I can say that the fall is OVER. Usually, the first solid snow around here comes in early December, but not this year. This stuff is gonna be around for awhile, I fear. Turkey's ahead for tomorrow, and I'll be watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to try a catch a glimpse of our favorite clown, Gary. We dined with him and his family on our last cruise. He's going to a safari clown this year! And let me be the first to announce that I will NOT be participating in anything close to Black Friday. However, I WILL be kicking off the holiday season at the tree lighting ceremony at Monument Square Friday evening and then venturing over to Grace for some bubbly. Track me down there, Friday evening. My treat!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Here's a sunny shot of life on the Hill in the city. There are a few less leaves these days, and it'll be covered with whiteness come tomorrow morning. Back in my youth, first snow meant lots of excitement; these days not so much. Unlike the freak storm of October, tomorrow's 3-8 inches will be hanging around awhile. After work today, a few last minute jobs of tightening up around the homestead, and I'll be able to say, "Winter... bring it on!"

Monday, November 21, 2011

Roadside Stand

Here's a very weathered look to a local roadside stand. In the 34 years I've driven by it summers and falls, I have never seen it open for business. Slowly but surely, it's making its way to the ground. It's in the middle of nowhere. There isn't a farm in sight for miles. Kind of a mystery, if you ask me. Mom attempted quite a few gardens over the years, with not much success. However, she often stopped at roadside stands in the afternoon for tomatoes, string beans and corn. The job of snipping the string beans for dinner always seemed to fall to me. I kind of enjoyed the task, always knowing that her creamed beans would find their way to the table that night. I always made sure I saved room on my Thanksgiving plate for that cream-style staple. Beans!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Floating Gold

What goes around comes around, as they say. Life was always a struggle, it seems, for my high school football team. When I started following the 'purple and gold' in elementary school, it was always a losing proposition. Breaking even at 4-4 was considered a pretty good fall expedition. Heck, in high school the team was disbanded for lack of funds... and wins. If you were a follower of pigskin exploits during autumn, it was the height of discouragement. And we're are not even going to speak of the out and out embarrassment among my friends, who attended its arch rival down the road. I must say, it was a fine feeling, when off at college, I read that the gold helmets would again be venturing forth on the gridiron Saturdays in the fall. These days, things sure have changed. Two consecutive unblemished seasons, two consecutive Class A State Football Championships for the Stags. Livin' the highlife!... and waitin' for the floor to drop out!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


It's late fall, creeping up on Thanksgiving. It's a good day to take a stroll and hit some vintage clothing shops. If I didn't live in an old cape farmhouse and had plenty of closet space, I be in significant trouble. I like clothes; I like junk; I like vintage stuff. Perhaps I might even find a copy of "The Story of Ferdinand" by Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson laying around. I wouldn't mind picking up a used copy for my library. Maybe Paul still has his copy. I think I first saw and read his copy one night in high school at his house. I had never seen it before. It never made an appearance in our house growing up. Sheesh! Now how did I ever get here today?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Abandon Line

Even when I was a kid, I was a morning person. I was always up and at it early. Many a morning I just took off into the woods on an adventure. Down back along side the lumber company, there were a couple of abandon railroad tracks that headed like this off into nowhere. A walk along tracks like these always offered a interesting morning undertaking. I always found stuff too. Some worth bringing back to the real world; some things not even worth my time. Cool shaped sticks, old bottles, discarded girlie magazines, a lean-to in disrepair. There was plenty to explore and IMAGINE for a young kid. And the beauty was? When my 'trip' was over, it was, usually, still before 9 AM. Most of my buddies hadn't even cracked an eyelid. The entire day lay ahead.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Layered Look

Experience buys you a lot. There was a time when I thought making my way around this spinning planet was going to cake, easy as pie. I had not a care in the world, really. I was selfish. I went around doing whatever I wanted. There were casualties by the wayside. My philosophy of life was: "Heck yeah!" I'm better now . Humanity is a complex situation. It's quite a layered circumstance. Just when you think you have it figured out, contained, if you will, it takes a turn and seriously refreshes and reminds you who's in control. It's not simple. It's multilayered. It's old; it's new. It's easy; it'll challenge you and take you places you never knew you had. Relax. Sit back and enjoy the ride of a lifetime.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Here's an old grange hall, that I pass on my way into the city. Paul and I often took in the Presumpscott Grange Hall dances on Saturday nights, arriving there in his Dad's mighty Buick Wildcat. The hall is still standing on Route 302 and for sale, if you want to make an investment loaded with memories. For music, there were a bunch of local bands, like the Royal Knights, Gary and the Counts, Dickie and the Ebb Tides, the Grand Prix, the Mustangs and others that made the weekend circuit of clubs and halls, like Presumpscott, Frye Hall and the Expo to name a few. Often there were "Battle of the Bands", where two or three of the groups would get together and battle it out for the night. The dances were great fun, loaded with 60's hits and the girls weren't that bad either. Rock on!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Can I have a moment of silence for a 200+ year old friend. Just under a diameter of three feet, this once stately maple met the chainsaw a week ago. When we moved in back in '77, three gigantic maple trees shrouded our front lawn. We were given an old black and white print, featuring our home with a horse and buggy and a woman in a babushka standing in the rutted driveway. To the right, one of the trees can be seen standing about 10 feet high. Before it hit the ground last week, it towered above the telephone lines that run our road. This past summer, with only half of it with leaves, we knew it was time. We rolled the dice, and it survived the strong winds of Hurricane Irene. It had to be taken down for the health and safety of the house. We're not happy, but it had to be done. "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today..."

Monday, November 14, 2011


These are just a few of those ties that bind. Railroad tracks, that is. I found them stacked behind a warehouse on Read Street. Interesting phrase 'ties that bind'. I wonder about the origin. It's found in a Thornton Wilder play, an early hymn, a novel title and a Springsteen song title. When I hear this phrase, I'm immediately drawn to a connection with family. They say the ties that bind a family together are stronger than those that keep it apart. I guess, I'll let individual families tackle that one. Coming up on Thanksgiving, I think it's probably on the minds of many, that and the fear of tryptophan.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Shadows Falling

Last evening on a trip out to dinner, a large orange harvest moon made its appearance, hanging low against the dark sky. It was a treat. Nature's night show. I find shadows especially appealing in the fall, as mother nature slowly begins to close her door on another year. Sometimes it's the mighty lunar orb, just hanging early in the night. Sometimes, it's even more simple. It the morning low light along a golden carpet. Either way, it's very soothing in some sort of unexplained way. Just enjoy... the day closes so quickly.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


When I'm on the way to catch a flight, I usually have a few things on my mind like most travelers. If it's an early morning flight, I need my java, so I'm looking for a Starbucks or some other coffee joint. Later in the day? Gotta have my Twizzlers or some other candy item. I really think these, in a since, sooth me a bit. Maybe, in my way, they help release some of the tension of the flight ahead. Here at the Portland Jetport (Jetport? what's in a name? They say it's the ONLY Jetport in the world. Kinda strange, if you ask me.) there are some new 'iron wildlife' that greet travelers on the access road. They are thought to be a stress-release before your flight. Would they do it for you? To tell you the truth, they are a bit of a hard find against the fall colors seen here. For me? I'll take my strawberry Twizzlers or a box of Juicy Fruit. Thank you!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Buster's Flag

My uncle Leonard Albert Gallant, U.S. Army Air Forces, hometown Norway, Maine was killed in World War II. This flag draped his coffin when my grandparents received his remains. Josie and Albert were generous, kind, and so loving to us. I'm so happy I never had to look up at their faces on this day.
Happy Veterans' Day!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Oaks' Bandstand

"We're goin' hoppin'(Hop)
We're goin' hoppin' today
Where things are poppin' (Pop)
The Philadelphia way
We're gonna drop in (Drop)
On all the music they play
On the Bandstand (Bandstand)"
-B. Manilow

Come afternoons at 4 PM, Mr. 'forever young' Dick Clark would traipse his swinging soiree across the TV screens of southern Maine. Believe it or not, the dancing I could give or take, but what I really enjoyed was the Rate-A-Record segment. Clark would pull two dancers aside, play pieces of two songs and had them rate them from 98-35. "I liked the words and it was easy to dance to." In the end, the higher rated of the two was played in its entirety. I thought it was pretty neat to hear songs that, in most cases, were weeks away from airplay on my favorite radio stations. I did enjoy my music. Still do. Pretty cool!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Frosty Haystack

Back in another life, I used to watch a lot of Saturday afternoon wrestling programing. As a 12 year old, I was excited when Haystack Calhoun was in the ring. He tipped the scales at 601 pounds and stood about 6' 5'' in his white t-shirt, blue overalls and horseshoe necklace. Everyone who watched him 'work' waited for his patterned "Big Splash" finish, where he would jump off the top rope of the ring and land on his helpless opponent. Yikes! I was always amazed that he could get up there to begin with. Legend had it that on his family farm, he actually worked cows by picking them up and moving them. One of the highlights of the Saturday shows was when he and some palooka took on the the feared duo of Mr. Fuji and Professor Toro Tanaka in tag team matches. Now that was ENTERTAINMENT!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Machigonne Votes

Today is Election Day in the city and across the state. Voters in the city will be choosing their first publicly elected mayor since 1923. I think there are about 15 or more on the ballot. Plenty of choice there. A fly in the ointment? It's the city's first 'ranked-choice' election. This aspect could prove to add some fun twists and turns tonight when the results are in. Elsewhere referendums will be the big draw. Can Maine support up to 5 casinos? Simply ridiculous! I'm interested in the Governor and friends attempt to repeal our same day voter registration statewide. Will scare tactics work? Stay tuned. The state's Attorney General expects a turnout of around plus or minus 25%. Bottomline? Apathy wins again!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Some Gloves

Love these! I've got at least three pairs from Mexicali Blues. Got green; got blue and these brown. One Christmas I gave pairs to J- and Elenks, but they weren't big hits, so I inherited them all. These have been in my truck since September. Yes, really! You see, I have a touch of Raynaud's phenomenon. Well, to be perfectly honest, I've got it good! Had I listened, as a kid, to Mommy Dearest and not gotten some severe, repeated frostbite, or not had my 'love affair' with the chainsaw in my later years , I do believe I wouldn't be dealing with this now. But that's another story. All I can say is when I'm wearing these... I ain't got no Blues!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

On Stage

We attended a performance of "God of Carnage" at Portland Stage Company last evening. It was an enjoyable, fast-pased hour and a half. In the family dynamics of things, do we really still think that it's the kids that are screwed up? This 'sandbox' scene reminded all in the audience that, for the most part, the 'kids are alright', and it's the adults that need some fine tuning of life skills. Good show!

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Do you gamble? Play Bingo? Cards for money? Sitting around her metal kitchen table at 250 Main Street, Nana taught me to play 'penny ante' poker. She had a coffee can of pennies and when that hit the table, I knew an hour of cards and joking at my expense lay on the horizon. And to tell you the truth, except for a few 50/50 games at sporting events or a few pools, that's about the extent of my gambling addiction. Sure, I want to win MegaBucks, but I always forget to play, even when the stakes are high. Now, for some irony, I do have, what I consider, a favorite (lucky) number. I really like the way 22 looks. Call me crazy. Yes, I have a favorite number, but I never play it. Go figure!

Friday, November 4, 2011


Man, is this a red door to nowhere or what? I just noticed this. That first step is a killer! This is the backside to an 'antique facility' in Bayside. I call it a junk shop! There was one of these places on Arbor Street in the old neighborhood. We guys always got a kick out of going in and walking the aisles, while picking around and admiring all the remnants of others' lives. The visitors, the stuff the smells: it was the total package. Our fun was short-lived however, because soon that building and a bunch of others were knocked down by the wrecking ball to make room for the new A&P Supermarket. For us at the Corner and for others around the city, it seemed to mark the end of the mom and pop neighborhood stores, the end of an era. RIP.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


This is a playground on the edge of Bayside. At St. Joseph's Grammar School, we had nothing like this at recess, but we made do. We were left to our own devices. Back then, we were pretty creative. Yes, we had devices! Rubbing bottle caps on the school's back steps, constructing mini houses out of sticks and gum wrappers (early stages of what we know now as fairy houses? Good grief!), baseball, using a tennis ball and our fist for a bat, flipping baseball cards against the wall and trading them back and forth ("I'll trade you a Rocky Colovito for a Bob Cerv and a Tracy Stallard"), eating nickel candy, playing basketball against a wall with no basket just a spot to shoot for (we were kind of dumb), throwing balls into the air and catching them with or without our gloves, the Whip in the snow (til the nuns outlawed it), Tackle Red Rover in the snow (til the nuns outlawed it), the snowball firing squad (til the nuns outlawed it), Hopscotch, jumping rope, assorted games of tag and oh ya, just plain running back and forth to nowhere were some of the ways we attempted to fill our 20 minutes of recess back at St. Joes. It WAS a simple life. How about you?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Floater

I found this large metal ball at a local junk shop. It looks to be some sort of device found floating along the waterfront. When I saw it, I thought about going to our YMCA and learning to swim. Being a paperboy, I got a free membership, but all I wanted to do was get in the water and swim. I remember lots of things about going to those Wednesday night classes with my friends. The beginning program was led by Mr. Golden and were loaded with excitement and frightening moments for me. One special memory was the evening we were taught how to do the backstroke. I remember floating, back and forth, the length of the pool just staring at the blue, iron gridwork of the ceiling. I thought it was so amazingly easy to to do. When I flew in the door that night after swimming practice, Mom got the long, drawn out, stroke by stroke version of my first adventure on my back in water. I wonder if she was excited for me as I was retelling the events to her? Knowing her, I bet she was.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Icy Leaves

Today is Theme Day across the CDP community, and I don't care. I have more pressing issues. White stuff! The snow is trying hard to disappear. It better. The state still has football and soccer champions to crown. 5o degree temperatures the next few days will probably take care of it. I hope so. I still have leaves to rake off the front lawn, brush to burn up back (with a burn permit, of course), a little bit of wood to get in and a bunch of other odd jobs to get done before the snow flies... whoops! Sorry about that. Looking out my window at work yesterday, the snow covered fields looked January-like not barren pre-Thanksgiving. I'm not mentioning climate change; I'm just saying.
It's spooky!