Monday, December 31, 2012


Look familiar? Well, probably not since no one read or commented on my first post ever December 31, 2008. Today, it's 4 years, 1,460 days without a miss. I'm know there are way longer, consecutive photo posts, but for me this is pretty good. This coming from a guy who has forgotten to vacuum weekly a lot, delays cleaning the microwave after something explodes on him, doesn't pick up random stuff around the house and put it away, and forgets to close doors to cabinets and closets after I go into them to name just a few. On the plus side of my ledger, this streak on posting my photos. Hey, it'll end someday, and I'll live with it. Maybe when it ends, and IF I start over I'll post this shot of the Deering Oaks stone bridge in a snowstorm AGAIN.

Till then my friends, have a wonderful celebrated night. We'll be here watching a little football, a lot of Twilight Zone reruns and eating our traditional New Year Eve's fare: shrimp cocktail,  filiet mignon, scallops, baked potatoes, a bottle of Asti and leftover Christmas pumpkin cheese cake.
Goodbye 2012 and all it brought.  Hello to 2013 and all it holds for us!

Sunday, December 30, 2012


It's not pretty, even in a snowstorm!
We had about 4 more inches yesterday, and I was out and about. I really don't mind driving in it either, as long as I've got my 4 wheel drive to rely on. I don't consider it painful at all. I sort of consider it a challenge to maneuver my way around the city and get to where I'm going. When the guy reporting on the news is saying, "If you don't have to travel, don't. Stay where you are." That's when my palms start itching. Drives Elenka crazy! Of course, the biggest impediment to my traveling these days isn't 'wild' radio exaggerations, the blizzard conditions outside, or even the threat of an accident. No, no, no! The biggest of roadblocks is the continuing escalation of the price at the pump. Creeping, creeping, creeping. Up! Even when the price of a barrel of petroleum on the world market drops, the numbers at my local gas station tick up. This marquee, on Pine Street at 3.36, advertises one of the cheapest respites in the city. It's always nice to come upon an oasis like this, so you can feed your camel.

No rant today. I'll leave it at this. I'm gassed!  

Saturday, December 29, 2012

White Woods

This line, "... the woods are lovely dark and deep", is from one of my favorite Robert Frost poems and is so apropos for the snow-filled woods near our house this morning. During Christmas vacation was always a great time to test out my new winter hat and mittens that Santa always seemed to leave for me and either head to skate at the Allen's Corner ice or grab my sled and go to the cemetery for a day of sledding. I had a long, vintage Flexible Flyer, the king of the sleds. It was once my Uncle Leonard. Grampa gave it to me, and I treated it special. Each December, I remember getting out some fine sandpaper and giving it a good sanding. Next, a coat of varnish that gave it a nice dark look, and it was ready for any hill big or small. When it was especially icy out, I'd track down a used piece of canning wax, left over from one of Mom's jelly jars and apply some to the long runners. I was told by Leo that it would make my 'Beauty' even faster. All the guys said it was the fastest sled of the lot, because the runners were so much longer that the others. Me? I didn't care. On those crisp, dark nights, I just glanced over my shoulder, at the others lined at the top of the hill, and screamed. Bye!

Friday, December 28, 2012


It's official. It's winter in Maine. We got the first Nor'easter of the season yesterday. Blizzard conditions for awhile dropped about 10 inches in the back yard. I had a doctor's appointment at 11:30, so I headed out into the storm. At the end of the driveway, I looked left and right and all I could see were seas of whiteness. I pulled out and headed to the long road to the main drag. I thought I'd know a lot more about the driving conditions once I reached Route 25. The roads were snow-covered all the way in, but the visibility was fine, even in the driving snow. It reminded me of a weekend in high school, when Kendall asked Tom and I if we wanted to head down to his brother's apartment in Arlington, MA and see if we might find some mischief in Boston the next day. By the time we reached Arlington on Friday evening, it had already started snowing lightly, and you probably know the rest of the story. Well, a huge blizzard hit New England that weekend, and we NEVER left the apartment until Sunday afternoon when we set out to dig out the car. It was a very LONG weekend. Heading back on the Maine Turnpike that sunny afternoon, we got caught in an amazing 'whiteout'. Strong wind was picking up snow and driving across the highway. It was so bad that we had to stop the car right in the middle of the Turnpike. We had no idea where we were. Lucky for us, no cars were closely following us, and the freak occurrence lasted for just 20 seconds or so. It was very scary and left a lasting memory. Bottom line, it was one of those 'lost weekends'. And just for the record, I never saw any of the girls Kendall promised would be all over the place. What a friend!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Say Cheese!

Every good photographer needs a camera gracing his or her tree. This is one I bought at the Portland Museum of Art gift shop a couple of years ago, but never hung it from the tree until this year. It's kind of apropos too. My Aunt Gloria passed away last winter, and she is the person who first placed a camera in my hands. While teaching on an Air Force base in Germany, she picked it up in the PX and brought it back home for my 10th birthday. It was big, with lots of silver and looked official. It had quite a different look than the Brownie flash cameras that were so prevalent at the time. I still remember the first shots I took of my friends sitting on the Nelson's porch. I wonder where they are?
That simple gift started me down this photography road, and I am forever grateful for that!
Ok, everybody SMILE!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tinsel Tree

Well, we got our white Christmas, 3 inches or so worth. It was sort of perfect, really. It came down, ever so softly, outside our windows from 9- 3. We had our traditional gathering of friends, and in between the charcuterie platter of meats, cheeses and their accompaniments, bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin, bottles of wine and all the stories and laughter, the topic of tinsel made a cameo. Why all the tinsel on trees back then and the scarcity of it these days in trees? For me, it made the tree almost come to life in all its sparkle. All our moms used it. Loaded the trees with it. Bottom line, the consensus was because most trees back then, at least in these parts, tended to be cut right off the land, they took on the look of  'charlie brown' trees. Tinsel filled the open spaces and gave the scrawny branches fullness and a life of its own. These days the frasers, the balsams, the white pines and such are so cultivated, trimmed and 'designed' that they leave little space for the humble tinsel to dangle and pick up the light. It has no place to hang.  
I guess you could say that there is 'no room at the inn'. 
I say, "Long live Tinsel in all its shining glory!"

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Woodcut

This is a woodcut, done by Elenka, of the two churches on the hill in downtown Gorham. It was our first Christmas card together. On most Christmas Eves, we usually attend the service at the First Parish Congregational Church, depicted here with the clock tower. However, I've always been intrigued by the church on Congress Street that the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's family attended. So last night, we ventured out in the cold to the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church of Portland for their Christmas Eve candlelight service. What was the service like? I mean no disrespect here, but throw in a pinch of Sesame Street, a dash of Woodstock, a smidgen of Harry Potter and a cupful of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", and I think you'd have the recipe. I mean, the carols were nice. The flickering candlelight during "Silent Night" was beautiful, and the tenor's rendition of "O Holy Night" concluding the service made for a wonderful ending, as we walked down the stone front steps. Needless to say, we won't be in attendance here next year though. Maybe the Cathedral for Midnight Mass? St. Luke's for their candlelight service and carols? Time will tell.

Big day for us today. We have 12 over for family, stories, toasts, dinner and lots of laughter! And now that I think about it---  they'll be liberal and healthy chunks of sesame street, woodstock, potter and a lot of the cuckoo's nest in evidence, if history plays any part of this gathering.

ps. It's official! It's 7:42 AM, and it's snowing steadily outside our back windows! In the true Sesame Street tradition, can you say White Christmas? I KNOW you can!

Enjoy the day, however you observe it. Merry Christmas to all. Peace.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Visitor

"Twas the Night Before Christmas" was penned by Clement Clarke Moore in 1822, and of course the true title of the poem is "A Visit from St. Nicholas". It was published, for the first time, a year later and lots of things changed. Up until this time St. Nicholas was the patron saint of children and was in no way associated with being a 'plump, a right jolly old elf', being a pipe smoker, having a sleigh or even reindeer. With four little ones  nestled around her, Mom read the tale to us each evening of the 24th. After the poem, carols with Mom at the piano and some fresh homemade eggnog, it was up the stairs and off to bed. Santa never came till all good little boys and girls are fast asleep, she told us. Like all good traditions, the poem will be read tonight in our home, along with "The Polar Express" and maybe a few pages of A Christmas Carol

"The stockings were hung..."

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night."

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Spidery Web

I thought the old mill, the trees, the mist off the river and a bit o' fog might make an interesting image the other morning. Now that I look at it, it reminds me of a fly caught in a spider's handicraft. That song from Out of Our Heads, one of my favorite Stones albums, is ringing in my head.

Spider and the Fly

Sittin' thinkin' sinkin' drinkin
Wondering what I'd do when I'm through tonight
Smoking moping, maybe just hopin
Some little girl will pass on by
Don't wanna be alone but I love my girl at home
I remember what she said
She said, "My, my, my don't tell lies, keep fidelity in your head
My my my, don't tell lies. When you're done you should go to bed
Don't say hi, like a spider to a fly
Jump right ahead and you're dead"
Sit up, fed up, low down go round
Down to the bar at the place I'm at
Sitting drinking, supereficially thinking
About the rinsed-out blonde on my left
Then I said, "hi" like a spider to a fly
Remebering what my little girl said
She was common, flirty, she looked about thirty
I would have run away but I was on my own
She told me later she's a machine operator
She said she liked the way I held the microphone
I said my, my, like the spider to the fly
Jump right ahead in my web

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Table, Chair, Frame

Why is it, I'm off from work for awhile, but it seems  that my work and schedule only picks up. We're having our annual family Christmas dinner and games at our place on Tuesday, so I have household commitments to take care of. Did you read housework into that cryptic sentence? Well, I don't scurry around the house in an apron and such, but I get 'assignments' and get the jobs done. That's the plan this morning. Then it our stroll through the Old Port this afternoon to watch the lights come on. It's sort of dreamy. I like that. We have a few stops to make, items to pick up etc. Tomorrow, we have tickets to the Magic of Christmas with Joanne and Bruce. Looking forward to that time. Ok, can't 'talk' anymore got homemade bagels to eat and vacuuming to do. I'm a busy man.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sister's Boots

My baby sister is in town for the holidays. She and her husband arrived from the West Coast Wednesday evening. We met last night at the Portland Harbor Hotel, sat by the fire and spent a few hours catching up. The last time they were here for Christmas was eight years ago. We're going to have some fun times. I commented on her boots and asked if they were Fryes. They were, she said, left over from high school. High school! They looked practically brand new! She reminded me of a particular shirt I liked and wore a lot back then. She even commented about items worn by my other two 'disciple' friends, Peter and Paul. Her husband said he still holds a shirt that a girlfriend made for him in high school. What's that all about? Now, that got me to wondering. Do I have any clothes left over from my days on Ocean Avenue? Got objects, lots of them, but as far as clothing items go, I'm drawing a blank. Her boots look great and they still fit. Amazing!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

White Escape

You don't see too many of them around here. No, I'm not talking celebrities, rattlesnakes or tsunamis. I'm talking white fire escapes. This one is on the backside of the old Portland Press Herald offices. Before they moved their entire operation out near the Maine Mall, I was one of 15 or so selected to attend monthly community liaison meetings in this building on the 6th floor. Each month there was a section of the daily or Sunday paper that our group took a look at. Each meeting usually started with a brief talk by reporter or editor on their role at the paper and then the floor was open for questions or concerns about the daily operation of getting out the news. Most evenings the talk was quite interesting, as the group discussed the role of photographs, the 'politics' or slant in the paper's stories, the breakdown of the various sections in the paper, how editorials are chosen and who puts them together among other topics. I thought they took our concerns, criticisms, and questions quite seriously. I really looked forward to those meeting on Thursday nights, and oh yes, I almost forgot. They served use food too! There was no escaping that.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I met Paul last Sunday for coffee and catch-up talk. We tried a new place on Exchange Street called Mornings in Paris. The building has been around forever and as long as I can remember, it's always been a restaurant/coffee joint. As you can see, it was pretty empty at 8:00 AM. I'm sure the clientele picked up as the Sunday morning got rolling and the hotels emptied out. Paul had already made a stop for an espresso and so for the next hour or so he talked, almost uninterrupted, about the new house that he and Bonnie had finally moved into. There was talk about the mahogany deck, the window shades, the flat screen TV, the walk-in marbled shower, the couch outside their master bedroom, a couch on order from Italy, the redesigned fireplace, the plans for the living room, having Elenka and me over to check the place out, the view of the pond at sunset... You get the picture? I just sat back and listened to 'motor mouth' go. Most of the other house design areas, we had covered at other times over the last year or so. So there was no need to retread that water. The hour or so went pretty fast, as you might imagine, and we parted company. He, I'm sure, for another espresso somewhere. Me? For a nap... I was exhausted!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Basement Music

This is the basement window at Bull Moose Music, probably the most popular record store in the city these days. A walk down the stairs and through the door and you'll enter a world of CDs, DVDs, posters, incense and yes even vinyls. It reminds me so much of the old Recordland on Congress Street. Back in high school, before the invasion of mall record stores, it was the ONLY place to buy 45s or albums. As I remember, I didn't buy much, but I did love to walk the aisles and check out the new album covers. Growing up, one of my favorite bands was the Byrds and their twanging 12 string, electric guitars. I liked their sound and their look. They covered a lot of Dylan stuff and their original songs I liked too. I even took a bus, in a driving snow storm, purchased their second album "Turn, Turn, Turn" at Recordland and gave it away to a young lady for Christmas. What we do for love? At least that's what I did. And the music goes on forever.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Butterfly in Snow

On our first day of significant snow, let's take a short trip back to summer. Yes, it's a butterfly. Where do butterflies go when they die? Two summers ago, J- and one of our cats saw this butterfly doing loopty loops near his car in the driveway during a rain storm. It landed on the window and then it flew away. The next thing J- knew, it had landed on his cheek and then flew into an open window on his car. He searched inside but couldn't find it. He got on his iPhone and searched out what attracts butterflies and what they eat. He even placed sone sugary water in his car. He then lost track of it. He couldn't find it al all. A few days later, he located it near his rear window. RIP. That was two summers ago. Now, look at this. There she lies still at the back window, amid a few early big flakes. 
Where do butterflies go when they die?

Sunday, December 16, 2012


It's approximately 8:07 AM on a bright, December Sunday morning, and if you look carefully you'll see the Amtrak Downeaster 692 just starting out on its morning run to Boston. My vantage point is the Western Prom looking out across the Fore River. One of my most earliest Christmas memories was the arrival of my Lionel train set. It was probably a Christmas or two too early, but I'm sure Dad wanted to make sure that his first born got one of the 'must haves' for any young boy under the tree. It was quite a treat. The complete set made its appearance in the living room each Christmas vacation, as my brother and I found countless ways for plastic cowboys and little green soldiers to cause disruption to the train line. Lots of memories were made within that Lionel box. I still have that train in the attic, and I bet it's worth some money. I went on the Lionel Train website the other day, and the price of a single locomotive ($399) today probably costs way more than the entire set back then. And just the price of a single piece of track ($7.99) today... whew! I'm just happy I'm not in the market for a complete classic set today. I think I'll just sit back and watch these silver cars curl their way to Beantown.
Choo! Choo!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Card Shop

I like to stop into card shops and check out the latest line of goofy cards and photos. There's always room by my desk at work for pictures of musicians, artists and authors in classic poses. A coworker dropped by my desk yesterday for a brief discussion of the music of David Lanz and his piano. He commented about a photo I have of Andy Warhol and Georgia O'Keefe standing in what looks to be a Southwest desert scene. We both agreed, on first take, that they seemed like an incongruent mix. He commented that he'd place a wager that their painting studios would be so different. Of course having been to neither, we had no idea, but I'd hazard a guess that Warhol's would resemble the chaos that my desk area was in yesterday morning. Ribaldry laughing, we both agreed. Maybe I'll stop into the Paper Patch this morning. I plan to be in the area, and I could always used a bit more junk for my wall. You never know what you'll find, when you looking for nothing. Maybe I'll get lucky!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Back Alley

Back alleys are always the source of some interesting sights. As they say sometimes, it's the reaction and not the main thrust that provides the excitement in life. I've taken photographs of this church spire and the surrounding buildings on State Street before, but I must say this angle, amid some rears of buildings is intriguing. I like the composition with some blue at the top. I always try to think composition when I bring the camera to the eye. Living with an artist, I guess I've been taught that... and not subtly all the time either. "What do I tell you, time and time again. When you put the Christmas lights in the window and move the curtains, turn around and look what you've done. What does it look like?" And when I'm taking a shot with people in it, "background, background, background..." And I listen. You know she's right. Almost all the time--- she tells me. Marriage: it's a wonderful thing! And, by the way, it too is all about composition

Thursday, December 13, 2012


The signage in front advertises Mathew's as Portland's oldest pub, hence POP, but I've found no information to back this up. So the classification of it being the oldest pub in the city is up in the air, and I don't think it would meet most true definitions of a pub either. Dive? Yes. Pub? No. I stopped in 'light years' ago to wet the whistle with some friends and based on a few reviews I've read lately, things haven't changed much. There always seems to be a seedy bunch smoking outside these entrances too. The looks you get are enough to convince anyone looking for a few beers to move along to another spot. A joint like this is usually a place where the 'regulars' rule and are most of the patrons. Portland has lots of choices to make before you'd settle for an evening with friends here; however, it does make for an interesting image in early Sunday light. 
Hoist one for the sun on the bricks!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday Evil

Let me take some time today to spread a little holiday cheer, sort of. We have some new animals gracing our city streets. They started making some inroads last spring, and seem to be creeping around everywhere. Some call them necessary. I call them evil! Parking meters. These new ones have just a special degree of 'grinchness' (new word) to them. They replaced the old ones that you simply threw coins into and if you ran out of time, you might have gotten ticketed. These newfangled contraptions take only plastic, have you display the ticket on your dash, and if the previous user of the meter left 20 minutes still on the meter, tough luck. It ain't yours and you can't use it. Whenever a new user pulls into a spot, everything starts over. New user, new time, new ticket... and yes indeed, new plastic. Our town fathers want us to forsake the malls this holiday season and shop downtown? I'd say, with these suckers lining city streets, the call to local malls is a pretty strong pull. I call these a nasty evil.
"You're a mean one Mr. Grinch..."

Happy Holidays from the City of Portland!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Waving Santa

Let me indulge myself a bit. Ok, I'll grant you it doesn't have the marque excitement of the Vegas strip, and no it's not hilarious like the cowboy smokin' Kramer on Seinfeld, but for me, it's pretty darn cool. The roof of the Sappi Mill in Westbrook has brought back the waving Santa, complete with the old company name of S. D. Warren below the 'Merry Christmas. Growing up, this was a pretty big deal. We kids, in the back seat of the station wagon, would beg Dad to take a side trip through Westbrook so we could 'catch a wave' from the jolly old one. It's time for nostalgic Santa. Over the last few years, I've been collecting little Santas at second hand stores. Ceramic ones or plastic ones, if I can get an interesting one for around 99¢, I'm game. I like to place them around the house and in a day or so hear Elenka exclaim, "What's this?" It's just me getting even for all her 'surprise' (and attractive) additions around the house. She does it with interior design flair fitting an old farmhouse. I do it with Santas!
Ho, Ho, Ho!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Giant Menorah

The giant Hanukkah Menorah was lit  Saturday evening at City Hall and ushered in the Jewish eight day 'festival of lights'. Growing up going to a Catholic school, I was sort of on an island when it came to religion. It wasn't until I went to Lincoln Junior High School that I met up with any Jewish kids my age. I remember having a discussion about the Christmas season vs. the celebration of Hanukkah. A friend went on and on raving about the all the gifts I was going to receive on the 25th and the huge lead up to the day. I reminded him of his eight nights of gifts he was soon going to be embarking on, and it seemed to be a 'wash'. We both agreed we liked it the way it was, and it wasn't going to change anyway. I learned the most about it listening to two girls in study hall talk on and on about their families' ritual of the lights and the food consumed on those nights. Hey, I must have been a pretty good listener, Cindy actually let me dance with her during the dreaded square dancing activity in gym class. Ah... those awkward years.
Happy Hanukkah to all!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Brick Colonial

I really like brick houses. I'm kind of drawn to them. While they are the proverbial 'dime a dozen' on city streets, you are hard-pressed to find them out here on country roads. This fine brick colonial is not far from my road. Driving by houses, I like to try to image living in them day to day. This one is probably around 200 years old. If that's the case it's seen a lot of living and a lot of history pass by these windows. During this month of December with lights on in her windows and an inch or so of new fallen snow on the ground, this is a picturesque beauty. On a cold winter's night, I can get a warm feeling driving this way and looking to the left. Funny thing, I almost never notice this house when I'm heading the other way on this road. I guess it's just my perspective.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

My Road

A week ago, I got to thinking. I do this quite well from time to time. The theme for December 1, was "My Street", and I had a little problem. My definition of a street is a thoroughfare with lots of housing one after the other. There are quantities of stores, restaurants, churches etc. sprinkled liberally throughout an area crisscrossed by many streets. Most streets, in my mind are paved. Now, my formative, 'huck finn years' were spent on city streets. As a matter of fact, I do believe the Beaver and Ozzie and Harriet lived just down the street from me. When Elenka and I bought our old farmhouse, we moved to the country and were introduced to a word that was new to our vocabulary: the road. To me, the birdman definition of a road is an often sparsely populated, most often paved, but not always, conveyance that'll get you from here to there in pretty good time. Period. These days, sure, I like to venture along city streets and watch people scurrying from shop to shop, but I really must admit that the rural road has an allure that is hard to surpass in my book. Just on my road, you'll find towering pines, fishing brooks, hills and dales, animals like deer, fox, owls and coyote calls at night just to name a few. Oh ya, and something else that everyone who spends time at our house remarks about: darkness. Utter, utter DARKNESS. There's something you'll be hard pressed to find on a city street. By 9 PM, the only light you have out here is starlight. Enjoy your street this weekend; I'm hitting the road, Jack!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Hustle Bustle

It's crazy time! At least what I call these last two weeks before Christmas. There's just a lot of get up and go involved in it. There's no getting around it. I'm going to be involved. That's for sure, but I'm just going to let it come to me. I'm not rushing into it and hitting it head on. It'll come. I'm sure of that. Walking in Bryant Park a few weeks ago, Elenka grabbed my sleeve and drew my attention to all the yellow here. "The umbrella, the leaves, the sunlight through the trees", she said. I had already spied it, even the color at the feller's foot. Not green and red but festive enough for me today.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Foggy Field

This field, with tall pines towering in the distance, caught my eye the other morning. It was pretty foggy and that ol' early morning sun was attempting to cut a wedge through the run of low bushes. Throw in around 20 or so crows squawking loudly and darting haphazardly and it painted a pretty eerie picture. Traveling home well after midnight one night, J- saw a large meteor-like object streak across in front of him and land in a field close by. The next morning, he returned to the area looking for any evidence but found none. He even left a message at NASA, inquiring about what it was that he had seen. Not even a day later, a scientist from NASA returned his call and had all kinds of questions for him. I'm sure he never rides over this road without thinking about that night and what he witnessed. Incidents like this seem to stick in the memory bank for some reason. I know it's not the same, but, when I drive by the old Westbrook College campus, I still can't shake the night that coed broke my hockey stick under the stars and just laughed about it. Why I could have...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sweet Music

We came across many Salvation Army kettles on street corners on our trip to the big city. Most, believe it or not, had groups of 'soldiers' singing Christmas carols, complete with microphones and amplifiers. Please, give me the distant tinkle, tinkle of the bell as I approach and the sweet music of a small child like this.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Bus Ride

Honestly, take a bus ride; roll the dice. At least that's my history. Sometimes, I never quite know where I'll end up. Most times, I'll end up sitting in an interesting spot. Here's a nice spot. Heading into the city, they had plans, complete with laughter and a replay of a family get-together yesterday. Peaceful right? Well, what you don't see are the two characters sitting next to me to the left, right behind these gals. Both were girls, I think. Although, one seemed to have more of a guy-thing going, if you get my drift. Both seemed to be about 20 and were gleefully sipping away on a bottle, sort of secreted away in a paper bag. The manchild was obnoxious, laughing away and making sly, silly little comments about these two young ladies. I was waiting, hoping, almost wishing for a little confrontation. The brunette looked like she could take care of her own in any cat fight. Alas, the ride was over way too soon and we were scattered about our lives. Oh, one last thing. These two both had interesting pairs of boots. Ya, I notice these things!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Icy Tracks

I was taking a short walk along the Presumpscot River yesterday and came across these bike tracks in the icy snow. As some of you know, I had three different paper routes during my formative years. Not all at one time mind you, but enough to keep me out of any serious trouble. The longest running one was the afternoon delivery of 75 Portland Evening Expresses, since 1991 no longer in publication, and the Portland (now Maine) Sunday Telegram. My trusty JC Higgins with the silver fenders was my constant companion on my daily trips down Forest Avenue. In rain, sleet, snow and harsh sun (hey, what do expect, my Dad was a letter carrier), I kept my appointed stops. Snow always made the trip a real adventure. As long as the sidewalks were clear, my bike ruled. However, when it got to a heavy 'snow event' (gosh, I hate that term) and my bike was out of commission, I hooked an old banana crate to my flexible flyer with wires, and that got the job done. Remind me to tell you sometime about the afternoon I set the 'birdman record' for fastest delivery of 75 papers. I think it still stands!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Old Stuff

Leonard Cohen, Old Ideas?
You betcha. I've got lots of old ideas.  You want some? I won't even charge a penny for my thoughts. And ya, it's been out awhile, this 'new' CD. So, even old ideas start to age. Birdman's old CD? Here are my old ideas and then some.

This morning, I'm rockin' to these hits...
chinese checkers providing a break from a black and red board
a crystal radio set hanging on an icy roof
uncle wiggily game board was hour-filling
wooden pickup sticks and tinker toys covered our livingroom floor
author playing cards reinforcing a love of books
jacob ladders hanging in my hand
a diving sub baking soda filled, found in a cereal box
taking out frustrations on a bozo bop bag
down the street a light-up santa hung on the door through december
mom's glass ornaments always a hit
tinsel trailing a cat's butt
nana's log cabin incense burner and gumball tree
millie's ribbon candy
loved licorice flavored pipes and black jack gum
gumby and pokey toys in small hands
tv trays were always shaky but fun
manual typewriters took through to college
viewmasters rushed a kid around the world
weather sticks and the colorful bottled water foretold my weather
hot water bottles were hugged in bed
secretly gobbled skybars, turkish taffy and chuckles candies
a foldable travel alarm clock helped make it on time
red clip-on suspenders
tall gum boots with sweaty socks inside  
father johns meds kept boys well
english leather cologne for my teen admirers
cold double-edged razors, icy in the morning
lifebuoy soap
slinkies tripping on the stairs
colorful, christmas tree bubble lights warm to the touch
stinky, black pf flyers were way too cool
colored jets cereal soaked with pink milk
and on, and on and on some more
hey leonard cohen,
I've got plenty more too

ps. I hear my billboard is coming soon!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Theme Day: My Street

Ok, don't panic.
It's not panic city yet.
Yes, this is my street. No, this photo wasn't taken yesterday, but it does give you a 'seasonal flavor' of what life can look like in January in southern Maine on 'my street'.
Today, December 1, 2012, is Theme Day across the CDP community(citydailyphotoblog) and today's image reveals a quick, wintery look at 'my street'.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Prayer Candles

Shine a light on me.
Shine a light on others.
After delivering 75 papers on Sunday mornings, I'd always try to catch the 7 AM Mass at St. Joseph's Church. It was usually sparsely populated and a fast service, sometimes over by 7:30. Not that there was anything wrong with that. I used to sit in the mahogany pews, thumb through the missal and wait. I knew they would come. I didn't have to look up. I knew when they had arrived and gone to one of the side altars. I'd hear the coins rattle, as they dropped into the donation box. The sound echoed throughout the vaulted ceilings. I never knew their names, but an impeccably dressed couple always stopped before the service began, dropped in their nickels and dimes, knelt and bowed their heads.  I wonder who those votive candles were lit for every Sunday. Why  do I remember this small act completed every Sunday? Why do I remember them this morning? Today at St. Patrick's Cathedral, the suggested donation is $2. Certainly, a far cry from the dimes and nickels that used to make that collection box happy.

This morning, I'll light one for Mom, and I'll light one for Dad. And just for old times sake, I'm only dropping in nickels!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Toy Watch

Yes indeed, Thanksgiving seemed to make a run at us a bit early this year, and I have more proof. When we finally made our way to Rockefeller Center last week, even their tree was not completely decorated. The only 'decorations' were the seemingly endless planks from the staging and the slew of wires hanging from above that surrounded the 80-foot Norway spruce. Were any of Santa's elves in evidence? Well, if you count the many workers, bundled up against the cold, weaving their way through huge boughs of greenery attempting to string the lighting, then I'd say yes. And to be perfectly honest, I was a little disappointed not seeing the tree aglow, amid the skaters circling around nearby and all the holiday chatter. But to get a close-up, small peek into how the tree goes up, how large the trunk really is and to get that glimpse into how the workers move through the tree running the lights and hanging bulbs was certainly a treat. And lest there be any apprehension involved, let me relieve any fears. The tree is now in full holiday glow having been officially lit last evening. Let Christmas begin. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Library Lamp

Light the way!
I've walked by it a few times but never entered until last week. The New York Public Library is an amazing place. We were only there about 20 minutes, but I was able to take peeks in quite a few rooms. To be perfectly honest, now that I reflect back on it, I do believe the reason we entered this stone edifice was so our ladies might partake in their restroom facilities. Regardless, the trip up those stone steps and through the front doors was worth any hassle we might encounter in the city. What a place!  How much do these huge lamps, scattered about the building, weigh anyway? On our quick visits to various room, I saw few books on tables with patrons, but plenty of technology devices were in evidence. I did catch one elderly gentleman using... you better sit down for this, the card catalog. Of all the places we visited, this is one environment I want to return to and suck up some of the atmosphere. I'm a bookie at heart and proud of it!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Empty Pew

One of our stops on Friday was St. Patrick's Cathedral. Although the very recognizable facade was covered with scaffolding, once inside it seemed all the same. I've been there a couple of times, and I'm always transported back to that June day in 1968 and the funeral of RFK. I looked at the pews and remembered the faces of all the dignitaries seated and kneeling to remember and honor the rising star so senselessly taken. As I sat in a pew this afternoon, I reflected  both on the faces passing and the lines of pews waiting  for the masses. Whether it's the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Notre Dame campus, here at the iconic St. Patrick's Cathedral or the simple confines of St. Joseph's, the parish church I grew up in, the seats seem the same and can tell us a lot of the past. They reflect the trials and tribulation of the faces that walk the aisles searching out an empty seat. Give me your tired, your weak, your homeless...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Park Ice

I've been to NYC quite a few times, but I don't think I walked through Bryant Park until Friday past. The bus dropped us on 42nd Street (yes, I was dancin'), and after a short walk we were there. We walked around checking out the various shops then moved to the ice rink. Just after we arrived, the Zamboni rolled on the the skating rink ice and  commenced to do its thing. In all my years of watching it make the rounds between periods of hockey games, I don't think I ever saw one of these machines prepare ice outdoors. Later, the machine moved away, and a pack of skater took to the ice again. Even after having been removed quite a few years from lacing up my skates, I wish I had the chance to glide across that crystal surface and skate around among all the tall structures that make up the canyon of this beautiful city. The sound of skates on fresh ice has a pull.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tree Base

We spent this Thanksgiving with family in New Jersey. We hadn't been with them in two years, so we had a lot of catching up to do. On Friday, we headed into NYC. A stop in Weehawken to park the car and a short bus ride, and we were walking in Bryant Park. It was a beautiful afternoon, just perfect for a stroll in the park and along the city streets dressed for the coming season. Over the next few days, I'll share some images of my afternoon travel.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Mall's Balls

Let the games begin!

I don't mind walking through the mall now looking at windows festively decorated with trees and carols gently playing in the background. The remains of the turkey are either simmering in the soup pot on the stove and will warm the spirit on this cold afternoon or have been deposited at the end of the driveway in the trash. I survived another Black Friday without going to this or any other mall and without spending one single dime. I pride myself with this. I must tell you that I didn't though stick myself on the end of the couch, eating leftovers and pouting about all the 'steals' I was missing. Nope, I was out and about with family. Photos of my adventures are coming soon.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Lumber House

In the middle of this world of  big-box lumber supply houses, Rufus Deering Company is that 'little engine that could'. Since 1854, they have been dispensing lumber supplies and hardware out of the same location on Commercial Street. Now, I will have been working out of the same location, come February 2, 2013, for 40 years. There are some days where I have questioned my sanity and others where I have to just sit back in amazement at the accomplishment. I guess you could say I consider myself a well established firm at this point. And that ain't braggin'... much.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Upstairs Downstairs

Happy Turkey Day to all!
Hope this morning finds all my 'blog friends' either safe and sound at their appointed destinations with family and friends or waiting at the front door for them to arrive. Family, friends, football, turkey, falling sleep on the couch. It's an almost perfect holiday. Enjoy every minute.

*On another topic, I awoke this morning with a predicament on my hands. I have maxed out my free Google account for photos. Has this happened to others? I'm sure it has.  How do you move on? Buy more space from Google? Alternatives?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Two Pies

I told you things would be hoppin' in the kitchen last night, and they were. Elenka got busy and I HELPED, a bit. On the right, that's her pumpkin pecan and then the old reliable apple on the left. I peeled the apples for her, and that simple process brought me back. When Mom made her apple pies, she'd peel her large apples in one long consecutive strip from top to bottom. Sitting along side on a stool, I'd gobble ( sorry, I had to use that verb) the strip of apple skin, like it was a long string of spaghetti. The skin of the apple was my favorite part. Most of the time, the macintosh was her apple of choice for pies, but at least once she made a pie for just me with my favorite apple, the yellow delicious. I guess you could say, on at least this one occasion, I was the 'apple of her eye'. Bad pun! Over the next few days, I'm going to sample lots of pies. I might even find a mincemeat pie. Dad loved these. His oldest son did too. I'll be on a pie quest shortly!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Early Ice

Here's some early ice on the lily pad pond on the way to work. These days it's getting harder and harder for the thin layer of ice to dissipate in the late fall sun. The weatherman says the road ahead, for the next week, is snow free, but you know him. Over Thanksgiving, we'll see some old friends we've missed in awhile. We're looking forward to that. The house will be sweet-smelling this evening. Elenka's culinary arts will be on display. Rumor has it an apple pie and a pumpkin-pecan number are on the agenda. They'll go a long way towards skimming the ice off this pond, at least in my mind.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Frosty Morn

It was a frosty morning yesterday as I headed out to grab a coffee. Sometimes light just falls the right way. On mornings like this in November right through the winter, my walks to school never included  gloves or mittens. Piles of books and a bag lunch, yes. No, to anything that might echo a kind of weakness. That and the added factor that it was just not cool to be seen with hand coverings. Or as my young female friends might have said back then, ''it's just not sharp." Now if you're thinking that, if the  Beatles hadn't 'hit' America they way they did, and if I didn't try to copy the latest 'mod' fashion, and if I didn't have gal pals who worshipped the sweaters the Stones appeared in on Sullivan, and if I didn't listen to late night radio out of NYC to catch the latest music of the British invasion bands, that I might not be suffering these days with cold, white fingers. You might be right. Why didn't I listen to Mom on this one.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

An American Boy

Oh, WOW!
We went to see Chris Isaak (again) last Saturday night at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom, and all I can say is echo the words of some anonymous guy waiting in line for a tshirt. "Why isn't this guy a BIG time star?" He's an entertainer that's for sure. Here's the Set List. Foot tapper, after foot tapper.

Super magic
(short intrumental intro) 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Rusted Car

It's an old, rusted railroad car. The colors in the afternoon light really made it stand out along the roadway. I enjoy old movies set on trains. Some like it Hot, Murder on the Orient Express, some Laurel and Hardy flick that I can't remember and a couple of Miss Marple detective adventures are a few that come quickly to mind. I guess it's the nostalgia mixed in with a little bit of intrigue. But why the longing? I really don't know. Other than the T in Boston countless times and the subway in NYC, I've really only been on three trains rides in my life. That trip that left Portland's old Union Station to see the Roy Rogers' Rodeo in Boston, a sightseeing trip to Washington DC via South Station in Boston and a day trip on the AmTrak Downeaster to walk the Freedom Trail in Boston are the extent of my 'life on trains'. So why the big pull to watch train movies? Maybe I need some counseling to discover my 'inner' train.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pinwheel Found

In the nineteeth century, here in America, this child's toy went by the name whirligig. They say that the simple pinwheel offers the child hours of endless fun. Huh? Yes, I can honestly say I got my hands of a few of these in my time but hours? Endless? Come on. I would say, honestly, they entertained me, tops 5 minutes. I blew into them as hard as I could for awhile. We had contests to see who could make them spin the fastest. Anyone with a big mouth and a good set of lungs did pretty good. I held my own. Then we ran around the yard a bit and that was about it. Ok, let me be very honest here. We ended our 'fun' using them as swords and destroyed them! There. Fun over! At least for us guys. I hear the simple toy has made an appearance in some video games: MK4 (Mortal Combat 4) and Scullgirls, but it shows up with not paper or plastic blades but ones of whirling steel. Now, there's some fun! This one pictured looks pretty new. Cast away, I guess, after just a brief encounter with the wind.

Was there anything else to do with them but blow and run? Anyone want to take me to task for picking on the innocent pinwheel?

En guard!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Clothes Found

They call them 'Lost and Found', but these shirts, hoodies, sneakers and other assorted items are still crying out for their owners. Not 'found' yet! I lose stuff all the time, things like money clips with cash, favorite pens and other writing utensils and my glasses. And no, I'm not going to hang them around my neck by some sort of chain. If they are gone forever, I'll just go to the drugstore for another pair. If there are eye doctors out there, please don't remind me of what I'm doing to my eyes. I get the picture. I tend to lose track of stuff that can easily fit in pockets. I'm baffled at why I lose these items. Junk I tend to carry is one thing, but I can't remember the last time I lost clothing. Whoops, ok last summer Marchain and I stopped by a local watering hole to catch a Red Sox game and a bite to eat. I was carrying a lightweight pullover top, and I threw it over the back of the chair. When we left, I forgot to grab it but stopped by a few days later and picked it up. Does that count as being 'lost'? If so, charge me and nail me to the cross. Heck, crap happens!  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Coffee Found

I like coffee. THAT would be a fact. When I found this package of vanilla biscotti on a window sill yesterday, I got to thinking. What does what we drink say about us? Do you prefer the plain old 8 O'Clock or Maxwell House blends, or do you tend to take chances with flavored choices? Do you clean up at work after pouring your chai or java or leave traces behind for others? Dirty cups in the sink with silverware left in a rush? Who are these people? I might track them down. You see, I might just make a pretty good detective. I could solve mysteries. Not big, attention grabbing numbers like murder, but the small important ones, like who's a slob and leaves a dirty sink and who is neat and cleans up. I got to watching "Anatomy of a Murder" last night and just couldn't walk away. Many call it the best courtroom drama ever. Now, I really don't know about that, but I was amazed at Jimmy Stewart's technique of firing questions and not waiting around for answers. Just the fact that the jury heard the questions was enough. Let's see, I might call the cups and silver left behind... The Big Sink or something. I'm going to think about this some more... over another cup of Pumpkin Spice.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Photos Found

While rummaging through a second hand store's book rack recently, my friend Peter and I came across this strip of pictures in a Fodor's Travel Guide for New Zealand circa 1974. It took me back to the fun times of friends piling into one of those photo booths at Old Orchard Beach and attempting to make the zaniest faces for the camera. It was a rite of passage for most teenagers back then, and it probably still is. You can still find a few lingering around here in the digital age. I'm sure the cost of the strip is upwards of $5 or more these days though. It's a far cry from the 50¢ that I remember dropping into the machine. Let's see, if these girls were 16 in 1974, today they would be approaching their 55th birthdays. My, my my time does have an evil way of catching up with us. I'm drawn to the gal on the left, the smile, the laughing face. Where has time taken her? Is the sense of humor still a part of her, or has the time machine taken the edge off and sent her whirling? I'll wager that they probably have lost track of each other, although back then they surely took a pact never to leave each other's side. Time has a way of getting in the way of most early friendships.