Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Near Desk

Brattcat asked so, her wish is my command today. On Saturday's blog I mentioned the photography show "Making Faces" at PMA and the hilarious portrait of Picasso at a dinner table with rolls. I bought a postcard and placed it on my wall collection at work, next to some of my other 'friends'. See it? Are you smiling? I know you are! Look closely. He joins Dylan, Dali, Lennon, Washington, God kicking butt on Jeopardy(love this Far Side cartoon), Heidi Klum, Mr. Ed, a baby picture of me(?) w/ Mom's caption, lots of writers, my inner cowboy, the Wizard of Oz comic, my favorite 'loaner dog' Annie and more. The wall is loaded with much important stuff and people and a lot of crap that just keeps me smiling. There's even a caricature of me up there on another section that many say resembles E. A. Poe. I don't see it, but some do. I do believe this Picasso is a nice addition though. And you? I know you can't see it all, but do you have suggestions to add to this motley crew?
Thanks Kitty!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Last Words

I don't often read about religion, but I did yesterday. In the Boston Globe in the My Faith section, it was called "What people talk about before they die" by Kerry Eagan, a hospice chaplain. I thought this quote of hers was interesting. "We don't live our lives in our heads, in theology and theories. We live our lives in our families we are born into, the families we create, the families we make through the people we choose as friends." She talks about what love is and how the dying have experienced it. She shares the words of those that have lived a life of imperfect love or with little at all. Some stories out of the blue stop me in my tracks. This one did yesterday.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


When I was young I used to dream. I still do but not as often. Last night I was back in graduate school. I was taking needed math courses (math courses for an English major?), the last few to graduate. One was an advanced accounting course; another was just a basic entry level track. I was struggling, so they gave me a tutor, a scrawny eight year old, who claimed to know it all. Oh and another thing, during the night 'silent' construction workers went and removed the entire wall of the dorm I lived in. In the morning, the snow was falling and wind blowing, but I had to work my way to the 'know-it-alls' room, via a 3 inch ledge 10 floors above certain death and of course no sheepskin for me. My family had already traveled a great distance for the pomp and circumstance of graduation day. Oh, please don't ask me how I was to complete all the work and tests needed to walk. By the way, if you are someone who can interpret dreams, please don't try your hand at this one. I'm in a great mood on this sunny, albeit frosty Sunday morning... don't depress me!

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Nope not us, but we were out and about last night. First, a light dinner at Plush West End, in the old Katahdin Restaurant. This new place has just been open since the first of November, so I wondered if they might be still working out the kinks. First the food: For dinner, we had the tapas menu and sampled the mussels, hamburguesitas (sliders), and calamares (baby squid). All were delicious! Next, the decor: if you enjoy eating in a small, sparse warehouse setting, this is your place. Finally, the music? Was that music? Thump, thump, thump! If I worked there for eight hours one night, I might do something deadly on exiting! Next, it was up High Street to PMA to check out the "Making Faces" photography show. I enjoyed the Philippe Halsman portraits of early TV stars, the like of Imogene Coca, Lucille Ball, Milton Berle, Jimmy Durante and others the best. While the French photographer, Robert Doisneau, portrait of Picasso at a dinner table with rolls in front of him (I bought a postcard of it for my desk) was eliciting smiles from all who passed, it was that Warhol portrait I wanted my eyes on. The Greg Gorman 1986 image, at the end of the white wall, didn't disappoint. All in all, it was fine night out in a drizzling, steady rain. Making faces... we all love to do it. Say cheese!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Flat Iron

This pie-shaped building is wedged between Congress and Free Streets. This is the upper H.H. Hay Drug Building. You learn something knew every day, as they say. I never knew that there was an 'upper and lower' building, but there is. The lower building is located at Free and Middle Streets. This building has a very interesting history. The bottom two stories were built by Charles Quincy Clapp in 1826 and then later in 1922 the top floor was added by another renowned city architect, John Calvin Stevens. My Mom worked at the drug store in her early twenties. I always though it was in this building, but now I'm not quite sure. Today, the bottom floor is a Starbucks(make mine a Grande Pike's Peak!), while the Flat Iron Art Gallery(get it flat iron?) decorates the upper floors. This is a favorite Starbucks of mine. It's a fine spot to grab the Globe or Times and glance out the windows as the world goes by.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Quality Food

On Congress Street, you'll find a classic neighborhood grocery store. If you need food staples, arrive by taxi or by foot, you're in business here. When we lived on Deering Street in the early 70's, I found myself in this place a few times usually around dinner, searching out the aisles for an item needed to complete a 'culinary masterpiece'. It was always bustling but a word of caution. Check those expiration dates and be on the lookout for strange, inappropriate food coloring before you purchase. I'm just saying...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Snow Fence

Heading into the city I pass this fence and field on a regular basis. In the spring it's a treat for Elenka, because it's just loaded with cows and baby calves. Me? I just enjoy looking at the fence and the rolling fields heading off into the distance. Oh, and the 3 or 4 old bathtubs, for their water in summer resting along the other side, add a nice touch. It's Maine; we're pretty resourceful in these parts. It makes me always chuckle when I see that a 'new' one has been added during the 'dog days' and heat of July and August. Traveling by the other day in a light snowfall, I remembered how much I enjoy TexWisGirl's blog shots of all her fences and gates a ways from here. This is my tribute to her fences. Giddyup!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Office Curtains

The other morning I was reading some blogs and a discussion came up about what to eat while one works. What does your environment look like? Some work with 'white noise', music, food and snacks; others accomplish the most in silence. If it's in the AM, give me a good cup of joe, probably multiple cups. Around the computer, I don't do food, but place some peanut M&Ms, Twizzlers or Mikes and Ikes around during the day, and I'm in some significant trouble. Music, I like. I'll listen to anything, while I'm on a project, usually low and 'off in the distance'. However, if I'm up against any kind of solid deadline and the pressure is on, only one ingredient works... silence. It's golden for sure!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dead End

We moved to Coyle Street when I was in high school. It was a dead end street that at its end looked over Baxter Boulevard. I liked that fact that sitting at the large window seat on the second floor you could see approaching weather over Back Bay. In fact, in winter without all the foliage you had a pretty clear shot to see Tukey's Bridge in the distance. I'm sure a few of the city's snowplow drivers didn't like the fact that it was a dead end. In heavy snowfall winters, there was really no place to push the snow, and on more than occasion the plows would get stuck. This at least provided some entertainment for us kids on a few long winter afternoons. You see, there's really not a lot of action on a dead end street. And of course this sign reminds me of one of my favorite Kinks songs penned by the genius of Ray Davies, "Dead End Street". Gotta love that song.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Park Bench

Here we find a bench and trash receptacle at Tommy's Park. They say life is where you find it, and I'd have to say the same for images in the camera. Go seeking the BIG picture and you're more than likely to come back empty-handed. Head out to take a morning, sunny stroll, and images most likely will find you. Not earth-stopping ones, but one or two that'll make you take a step back and admire. I've said it before; life's a funny concept. Just when you think you've had enough and are at your wits end, you find something; you meet someone; you make something and it all changes. Not a lot... but just enough. Call me corny but I've always been a 'glass half full' guy. Mom always told me find the sunny side of the street and just walk. I just have to remind myself, sometimes, not to waste too much time walkin'. That side of the street is often so, so enticing!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Plastic Wrap

It's a long winter here in Maine. I do believe it's a longer one for owners of boats, especially sailboats. I took a walk behind the Portland Company the other frosty morning, and although I was only out for a short time I got some interesting shots of boats under wraps for the winter. What do they say about owning a boat? "The two best days in a boat owner's life: the day they buy a boat and the day they sell it." Not ever being a boat owner myself, I can't be sure if there is real truth or fallacy held within this line, but it does bring a smile to my face. By the way, the only boats you'll see on nearby Sebago Lake this morning are ice sailboats flying across the frozen blue. You won't find me there though... maybe taking in a movie today but not walking a frozen lake.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Screened Window

I have a friend who likes to 'do' windows. Let me clarify that a bit. He's an artist and enjoys painting from my photographs, especially when my subjects are windows. He likes painting all types of windows, wherever he finds them. With this subject, he mostly works in watercolor. He'll probably want to do this one when he sees it. Myself, I like this one, because it's a little dark and mysterious. Bright, upbeat or dark and mysterious, I like both subjects. Some days when I have some free time, I enjoy scanning lots of the citydailyphotoblogs pages that I never visit on a daily basis. Some really catch my eye, and I'll go for a short 'visit' to see what they are up to with their camera. Others seem pretty crappy. Now, is that a professional photographic term? Some times, I think these people should have their cameras taken away, never to be returned. Oh well, it's the weekend. I'm going to be nice.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Snow Rocks

Here are some snow covered rocks found mid-stream on my way into Portland. Funny about water and ice... they travel wherever they wish. During the Ice Storm of '98 here in Maine, this water was pretty active. After about 5 days of being 'trapped' in our house, because the roads were mostly undriveable, J- and I headed out to find some open stores for a few snacks and such (see doughnuts). Everything was still closed in Gorham and Westbrook, pharmacies, hardware stores, grocery stores even gas stations. Most of the major roads were open so we headed towards the Maine Mall. We got as far as this stream, but were stopped, as ice and water were flowing over the road. Our brief adventure and search for junk food was over. The fire department was turning all vehicles around. It was amazing though to see what the power of water and ice can do to a road, even a normally, peaceful brook like this. We were without power for 9 days. It was a time, that we'll never forget.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Roof Line

This is the roof of the bandstand Fort Allen Park on the Eastern Prom. Take a look at this blue, January winter sky! If it hadn't been so frigid out at this site (-11 and windy), I might have stared at this sky for more than a few brief moments. Don't look too long! Just point the camera and shoot. It reminds me of that Seinfeld line about staring at a woman's breasts, "... it's like looking at the sun. You're supposed to just take one peek and then look away!" I certainly was always cautioned about being careful during the viewing of an eclipse as a child, but Mom never mentioned parts of the body. Now, why I'm thinking about this this morning, I have no idea!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

January Sky

These oak leaves were fighting hard to hang on the other morning. It was about zero. I was sitting in my truck in Deering Oaks, but I was really a ways away. I was thinking about freezing winter days like this when Mom hung out the laundry, even though the load would be hard pressed to dry, let alone thaw. Often after school when I flew through the door, she'd say, "Go grab the laundry on the line for me." This loyal son would do just that, and head out through the shed off the kitchen. On those bitterly cold, wind-blown days, I knew in advance what I faced. It took me a good five minutes attempting to corral the batch of grotesquely frozen long underwear caught in mid-stride, malformed long sleeved dressed shirts and blouses with arms dead still and yet intertwined for hours and countless pairs of socks iced over. I'd lug them in to the woodstove-heated kitchen and bury my face in the sweet laundry aroma mixed with ice. I remember kissing my shirts and taking in all that was fresh-washed clothes and that icy coolness, so soothing to my lips. For a few fleeting moments, each time I was asked to bring in our frozen apparel, I was in love with the laundry.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Iced Windows

Yesterday morning, when I checked the temperature, it read -11F. Cold? I'll say, but it wasn't freezing inside. Although peeking out my office window at 6:30 AM, you'd probably think it was. I was up early loading the birdfeeders and was off for a spin to enjoy a morning coffee in the city. In my other life, our Stevens Avenue house had pretty big bedrooms, and on winter mornings, they were quite cold. Right up till high school, the night before I put my clothes on a chair next to my bed, and believe it or not I dressed in bed, from head to foot. By the time I got down to the kitchen for that hot oatmeal breakfast, it was toasty warm thanks to Dad and a glowing wood stove. Yesterday morning, if I closed my eyes tight, I could have been back upstairs at 820 Stevens real easily.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Looking out towards State Street, I see breaking daylight ahead of me. In high school, along with lots of classics, we had to read a recently published book. I chose Run to Daylight by Green Bay Packer coach Vince Lombardi. It has been rated one of the best sports books ever written. I really didn't like the Packers, but it was a sports book, and I was game. By the way, a tackle football game in our backyard in about 6 inches of snow in January would make a Saturday for us guys.

Tonight's game just got over.
It was Tebowed Time!
Pats 45 Broncos 10
... Stampede!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sunflower Demise

Up in the garden, our sunflowers have long ago taken their final bows. A few, like this one, are hanging on and keeping the vacant birdhouses company. Most up here lies dormant now, but it's alive for your camera. In long ago winters, I always enjoyed a good adventure alone. Many times accompanied by my trusty sled, but often just me alone, I'd trudge off into the woods off Gulliver's Field to see what the snow covered woods would reveal. I needed to know. Most days it was not easy going, as I remember, but it was well worth the effort. The solitude was breath taking at times, even in my ordinary neighborhood. I liked to make my 'mark' with my gumrubbers on the new fallen snow. I still do.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Then Winter

It wasn't going to last till April was it? We always wake up from those special dreams, that we want to linger in so much longer. The significant snow was going to come sooner or later, and our later was yesterday. The first flurries started falling soon after 5AM in the still of darkness. This photograph was taken from our attic window, looking out towards the backyard. This is my winter tribute to Fairfield Porter's 'view from an upstairs window'.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Walkway Design

This is a walkway overlooking Bayside and Back Bay. The design was what really caught my attention. This city used to be covered with these on most main streets, now just a scattering of spots remain as relics of a past time. Riding your bike down Stevens Avenue was quite a bumpy proposition and your trip home often ended with cuts and bruises. I still remember the day, while sitting on our Stevens lawn eating a picnic lunch, that trucks lined up and covered the street with thick, gooey, strong smelling tar. The cobblestones disappeared forever. Well, at least for my forever, they were gone.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fire Windows

Literally snow yesterday on the wheelbarrow, and today let's go to with some figureative fire. Brings to mind the Frost words in "Fire and Ice". Either way, what a way to end it!

Fire and Ice
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if I had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
F. Frost

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

White Wheelbarrow

"So much depends upon..."
No, I'm not going there. I say let William Carlos Williams and his wonderful poems rest in peace. For a brief moment in time, an overnight snowfall left the rocks and Mom's old, rusted wheelbarrow with a 'new life'. It's pretty beat up but serves it purpose in our flower gardens most summer days. In winter, it doubles transporting wood to the back door. Mom would be pleased. It's winter in Maine, and when the cold sets in, I become a homebody. I was thinking yesterday. Why would I want to venture far from this beautiful home these days. I've got plenty of wood stacked up, two good books going at the same time, a bit of football on the telly, if I need a diversion, and Elenka's amazing culinary dishes, and company. Oh, and all of my blog friends out there in the blogosphere to touch base with daily. All this seems to fill my day nicely. I'm a happy man.
"So much depends upon..." on all these things.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Trees Grow...

I've joined a book club. Ok, that'a lie! I plan to attend a book club meeting soon. To tell you the truth, most members probably have no idea I'm planning on showing up. I've always wanted to read one of their selections and 'tag' along so to speak, but I always had an excuse or two. I've got plenty of excuses; I'll never run dry. It's my aqua spring! Why am I even thinking of showing up? The book for one. They are reading "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn", a book I have always wondered about and wanted to read. I'm about a 100 pages in so far and like it a lot. I'm also reading Stieg Larsson's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". I'm intrigued by both the females Francie and Salander in the novels. Sheeesh! Salander and that wintery, Swedish landscape kept me up the night after I saw the movie. Riveting to me. I don't think I'll get the two gals confused though. The book club? It meets the end of the month. Oh, did I tell you there are about 10 women in it... no guys. Did I leave that tidbit out? Mea culpa!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Do Not Enter

The state bird of Maine is the chickadee, but the moose is the iconic symbol of the state. This one was caught 'trespassing' at a rest stop on the Maine Turnpike yesterday. He's on loan from the Ira Mountain Association in Kingfield, Maine. I've seen quite a few real ones in the wild in the North Maine Woods, on the Golden Road up North and in Baxter Park. At twilight, they come out of hiding and are quite a sight to behold. You just don't want to run into them on the highway. If you do, and you're traveling at a high rate of speed, because of their height, they're most likely coming through your windshield, and the end, as they say, won't be pretty.

*postscript: I did hit one once with my Honda. Luckily, I was moving at a pretty low speed (maybe 40 MPH), and she just glanced across my front bumper, bounced up and continued to head back into the woods. The next morning, Elenka wanted to know why the front of the car was covered with all kinds of hair.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Bus Lines

The look of buses sure has changed. I caught the side of this Portland Metro bus with my camera, at a quick stop on the Hill. Portland METRO Bus provides bus service throughout the Greater Portland area and communities of Westbrook, Falmouth and the Maine Mall in South Portland. I rode buses a lot as a kid in the city. My first three years of school, I rode them daily from our house on Washington Avenue to St. Joseph's School. In the fifth and sixth grades, I was aboard them twice a week to travel up the Hill to the Lee Recreation Center to play basketball on the school team. In Junior High, the gang and I piled on them every Thursday night and ventured up Forest Avenue to take swimming lessons at the YMCA. I was on them a lot, and I can certainly tell you with factual accuracy that they did not resemble this one. They were your basic cream and orange color-schemed bus, small, loud with little heat provided. Advertisements were small placards, sprinkled about inside above the windows. I only read them when I was really bored to death. City-wide bus life today attempts to hit you over the head with a 2x4 with ads. Where the windows and doors located is a crap shoot. And the cost today? I'm sure is well above the dime it took me to get to my classroom back in the day.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Three Bells

Walking a back alleyway near Longfellow Square, I came across these three vertical doorbells. This got me to thinking. Are doorbells still in vogue? On Stevens Avenue, we had a front bell, but most, except for the mailman and our papergirl, took the driveway and used the backdoor. Our Coyle Street home's front door had a wonderful sounding set of chimes and, as I recall, was used quite a bit. In the Seventies, Mom's new home on Bancroft Street had one, but unless there were visits from black-suited young ministers or others trying to sell magazines and such, I never remember hearing it. Most just entered the connected garage, knocked and then walked into her kitchen. Today, living in a home for thirty five years and counting, we've never heard the sounds of chimes or assorted ding dongs. I can count on one hand the number of visitors who have knocked on our front door. The back one, up the driveway, is the choice of friends, visitors or drivers lost in the country. We do have a neat brass knocker, (Marley would be proud), that Elenka bought for the backdoor twenty some years ago. We used it for about 10 years or so, but when we remodeled it never made it back to its rightful place. Maybe this summer? Don't bet on it though. It would take me some time just find it again. It's buried in this house somewhere. So, the question today is: do you have a working doorbell in your dwelling?

Thursday, January 5, 2012


In Maine, we have another sad commentary on our times. What would possess someone to do this to a child? These things never turn out well. I hope this doesn't mean that crazy blonde, Nancy Grace, is coming to our state. THAT would be the cherry on the top of this all around heartbreaking story.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Reading Glasses

Stopped by the Bard, a favorite coffee stop on Middle Street, the other day. Is everything I do connected in some way to writing? A cup of joe and a crossword puzzle were my table mates, seeing that Paul's schedule made a meeting here with me impossible. I enjoy watching the hustle and bustle of early arriving office workers, stopping by for an early morning pick-me-up and making plans for the afternoon and evening. It's 8F above this morning. I'm happier on this side of the window. That's for sure!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tree Shadows

This shadow on a 3 decker is on North Street, next to the old Shailer Elementary School. I think we've all heard of selective memory. My brother has it. He claims he does not remember flying off the top of Elephant Rock as a kid and surviving to the bottom. It was an amazing 'flight'. I do remember that day. Now, climbing trees was a rite of passage growing up in our neighborhood, probably every neighborhood. We all loved to climb, the bigger, the more challenging, the better. Eddie loved to climb too, even though his body layout wasn't a part of the master blueprint for making it to the top of any tree. He was chubby, slow and a bit clumsy, but wanted in on all out feats of courage, midnight escapades and stumbling and bumbling with the fairer sex. There was a day, in winter, as I remember. It was a classic leafless, cloudless, cold January afternoon. It was a challenge, to see how high up a black- barked, gnarled maple, towering over a lot of Evergreen Cemetery we could get. We all took our shots for 'neighborhood immortality' that afternoon. We scampered up as far as we could go. As I remember, once you got up 15 feet or so, the combination of the blustery, biting wind, slippery bark and teenage nerves took their toll. Eddie was last to go, and he seemed to have a plan and seemed possessed. Amazingly, he got up about 1o feet higher then any of us. When we finally told him he had won and to come back down, he turned and looked down and burst into tears. He was frozen He claimed there was no way he could ever maneuver down the maple. He was almost screaming above, and at the bottom, we didn't know whether to laugh or cry with him. Honest! Soon darkness was beginning to creep in, and it got so bad he even begged us to go to Arbor Street and get the Fire Department to come and rescue him. "They did it when ST fell off Rocky Hill and got snagged on that ledge. Please do it." He pleaded. Well, there was no way we were going to alert the firemen. It took us 20 long minutes, but we finally coaxed him down branch by branch to terra firma. Various pats on the back over, we all headed off in multiple direction to the safe confines of our homes. Another day of growing up
an early teen was accomplished. On this incident, my memory was not selective but served me well.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Nana's Pork Pie

Dear Justin, Karen, Zack, Elizabeth, Julie, Stephen, and Adam,
When your Gallant great grandparents came from PEI to northern Maine to settle, they brought lots of pieces of Canada with then. One was Nana's pork pie recipe. Usually, sometime between Christmas and New Years, I try my hand at it. This was on last night's menu.

Nana's Pork Pie
1 pkg. Pillsbury Hot Roll mix
1 egg
At least 3 pounds of Pork
One large Onion
Caraway seeds
Salt and Pepper

Prepare hot roll mix according to directions- let rise once.
Slice onions and pork into cubes. Cover w/ water and bring to boil. Lower temperature a bit and 'strongly simmer' for approximately 1/2 hour or til tender. Add salt and pepper and thicken the liquid with flour. (Mix about 1 Tbsp flour into about 3 tbsp cold water and then pout it into the water. Stir and cook until mixture thickens somewhat, like a gravy.)
Mix caraway seeds into the dough, divide dough in 1/2, roll it out on a floured surface and line greased pan with 1/2 of the hot roll mix.
Place pork mixture on top of lined pan. Place rest of roll mixture on top. Seal edges.
Put more caraway seeds on top. Cut hole in top. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes(cover w/ foil after about 30 minutes to prevent over browning.)

Enjoy! It's great for dinner, lunch or breakfast.

Grandkids, I hope you too carry on this culinary tradition passed on to you from your great grandmother, Josie. You won't be disappointed!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Theme Day: Best of Year

Happy 2012!
Today, January 1, 2012, is Theme Day across the CDPB (citydailyphotoblog) world-wide community. Three years ago yesterday afternoon, at about 4 PM, I posted this image of this bridge in the snow at Deering Oaks. It won't stand as my best of this past the year, but for one who tends to lean a bit towards the nostalgic this time of year, it rings true and is purposeful.