Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My Pretty!

At the end of one of the docks on the Portland waterfront, I found this building. At least I think it's a building. Come to think of it, our forts we built behind the ESSO station, next to Leo's house and down behind the cemetery are looking pretty good next to this patchwork. That was the first thing that came to mind when I saw it. My second thought was where was Margaret Hamilton? You know, one of Maine's most famous movie stars. Drawing a blank? Look at that bike with the basket on the back. What does it remind you of? Hint. Hint. There was a small dog riding in the rear basket in the movie. Think rainbow. Think Scarecrow. Think Tinman. Think Cowardly Lion. Think Tornado. Yup! Ms. Hamilton was the 'wicked witch' in the movie classic, The Wizard of Oz. My brush with celebrity? Mom, her sister Millie and I saw her eating lobster at a Newagen restaurant once. My Pretty!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Baked Beans

Go to the your local grocery store and load up on water and batteries! Lock up the women and children, and head to your storm shelter. Why? Birdman's on the loose in the kitchen again. Sunday, I made a batch of Jacob's Cattle baked beans and some homemade bread. Growing up, if it was a Saturday, it was a day of the aroma of baked beans wafting throughout the rooms. Pinto, Kidney, Jacob's Cattle, Navy. Take your pick. Mom prepared the best. We also had fried dough. No, not the sugaring item you find at local fairgrounds, but hunks of bread dough, about the size of rolls, flattened out and cooked in oil on the stovetop. Mmmmm! Delicious and filled with memories. Sunday, I did my best. I think Mom would have loved that meal!

Monday, February 27, 2012


This is a coupling device found on the front of an AMTrak engine parked at the Thompson Point train station on outer Congress Street. Let's pull out our dusty English grammar books this morning. Ah, the conjunction. The lonely conjunction is the part of speech that conjoins phrases, clauses, words or simple sentences. And by the way, there is no historical evidence that beginning sentences with these little connecting words (and, but, so etc) is wrong. Hey, have I ever told you about the time we found a small wheelbase of a train workcar off the track down back? Well, we did and we got boards out and made a floor for it, and for the next month or so we had transportation to the great fort we built down back, behind the cemetery. There were work tracks back there but with no trains. Someday, I'll tell that tale. Today, conjunctions... tomorrow, maybe we'll delve further into the role of the coordinating, correlative and subordinating conjunctions.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


I did. I didn't. I did. I didn't. Boy, was this boy confused. Well, I think I was anyway. Friday night dances at the Congo were the thing back then. The Woodfords Congregation Church, just up the hill from the Corner was the place to be on Friday nights. When I got to Lincoln Junior there was always a lot of chatter in the halls and at lunch about, "Are you going? What time are you going to be there?" The older guys in our gang always said they went, but I had no proof. As for me, I always talked big early in the week but always bailed by Friday evening. I was, back then, and still am today a rather shy and quiet kind of guy. Now, I know many who know me pretty well are laughing about this last comment, but I am. Truly! I guess you could say, 'I pick my spots'. I enjoy crowded places with good friends, as I did at Brian Boru Friday evening, but when we ventured across the street to the CCCC for the games, I chose to sit by myself away from friends and really had a fine time. This some times confuses my friends, but hey, it's me. I'm sort of like the kaleidoscope. Everytime it moves things change, evolve, clash, confound. That's me! Now, why is it that every time I pass this church, I think about ballroom dancing lessons. I'm such a fraidy cat!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tread Marks

Last night Marchin, Donna and I headed into the Cumberland County Civic Center to take in a little roundball. It's High School Basketball Tournament time in Maine. We traveled in early, so we had time to get some get some grub and brews at Brian Boru and enjoy conversation with friends with Irish music playing in the distance. The games themselves went pretty much as I expected. Deering went up big on the Stags early, kept them at arms length til late in the fourth quarter and in the end withstood a furious Cheverus finish to take Game 1 52-49. Game 2 was pretty much a walkover as Bonny Eagle took South Portland 54-39, and the game itself wasn't anywheres close to the final score. The Scots came out scorching in the first 8 minutes and got up big but played ragged over the next two quarters, allowing the Riots to hang around. BE put the game away in the final eight minutes, outscoring SP 24-13. Game. Set. Point. So the Final in Western Maine Boys Class A is set: Deering vs. Bonny Eagle, pretty much the way I thought the final pairing would be way back in early January. So who takes it? BE lost to Cheverus in the Finals last February, and I always like a team that returns after a loss in this big game. They learn a lot. The Scots outside game will be the difference. If the Rams can't shut that aspect down, game over! Now, the trip back to the outlands was a bit hallowing to say the least. Weather? We experienced winter in Maine all in the 20 minute drive back home: driving, freezing rain, hail, sleet and snow provided some rather tricky driving conditions. Great job at the wheel Marchin!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Moving Picture

Early in 1995, the skating scenes from the movie The Preacher's Wife were filmed here on the ice of Deering Oaks, with the line of apartments of Park Avenue in the background. At the time, my Dad was the Commander of the Harold T. Andrews American Legion Post on Deering Street and got word that they wanted to film scenes inside the Post to use as the church's office. When they arrived for a look, Dad gave them the grand tour of the entire building. The directors apparently loved all the doorway woodwork and the beautiful wainscoting throughout the first floor rooms, and the deal was done. They filmed in the building and at the Oaks for about a week. Dad said he never got a chance to meet Whitney, because in the true diva tradition, her handlers were all over the place and kept the public away from her. He did, however, get a chance to meet and shake Denzel Washington's hand. They talked for a few minutes about a love of the Boys' Clubs of America, something close to the heart of both the actor and Dad. I was reminded of this again last week during all the hoopla surrounding the demise of diva Whitney. And yes, Dad got a cameo role in the movie. His big screen debut was a 5 second shot of him in a soup line, with some friends, shot inside the Post. A star was born!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

White 2 Gray

White. We got a bit more snow yesterday morning. I headed into Portland, picked up J- and his camera and spent a few hours shooting the city. I took him to a few of my favorite photographic stops. We talked about how many of them might be ideal places for him to film movies. It was Ash Wednesday, and when we got to Tommy's Park on the way to Bard Coffee, he caught a humorous scene with his camera. Two minister's from a local church were dispensing ashes next to a sign that noted "Ashes to Go". Well, at least I smiled. Gray.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Front Steps

During the winter just after snowstorms, Leo, Eddie and I, shovels on shoulders, often hit the streets looking for work. Shoveling sidewalks and walkways was our game. We found the side streets of Tremaine, Elmwood and Waverly some of the more lucrative stops to find work. They were streets on Leo's evening paper route, so he had some knowledge of where we were stopping. We weren't fools though. The long driveways on certain houses were left for others. Front steps, walkways and sidewalks were where we made our money. We usually got between a buck or two each per stop, depending on our time and snow moved. In light snow and three of us furiously throwing snow, we could make some serious spending cash that never saw the marble floors of local banks. There were some casualties though. One 'hit' home to me when Eddie's shovel went astray and caught me just above my left eye. I was tough though. A little snow on the mitten, dabbing the eye area a few times and all the was left was a trace of bloody snow at my feet... and we were off to the next stop.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


It's a self-portrait. Well, sort of. We're always aiming our cameras on other people, places and things. When we try the flip-side and turn the camera on ourselves, we often find some interesting images. These images can be quite revealing. They can reveal the obvious and even, if you look carefully, the hidden. Now, as far as clothing goes, I've never met a vest I wouldn't take a chance on. Odd color and fabric combos intrigue me a lot. Do you have a favorite, 'safe' piece of clothing, footwear, or hat?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Green Pear

My younger sister lives in Oregon and celebrates her birthday today. I so wish I might spend the day with her, because I know it would be fun-filled. It would be a day loaded with sights to see, fine food to eat and the best of laughter. If I can't be with her today, my bank of stored memories that we share will have to do. Love to you!

Happy Birthday Joanne!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Blessed 7

There are seven Blessed Sacraments in Catholicism. I've experienced 5 so far(Baptism, Communion, Penance, Confirmation and Matrimony), but the last two (Holy Orders and Last Rites) are not ones that I wish to be around for anytime soon. Here is the Ave Maria Gift Shop on Stevens Avenue. The last time I was here a few years ago, J- and I were looking for St. Christopher medals. My good friends, Buddy and Skipper, lived in this house in the 50s and 60s. It felt kind of strange standing looking at medals in display cases in what was once their living room. Communion dresses for sale? I wondered where the girls got those perfectly white dresses. And where Mom and Dad shopped for my white suits for my First Communion and Confirmation, I have no idea. With Catholic churches St. Peters, St. Patricks, St. Josephs, St. Dominics and the Cathedral, all celebrating these rites of Catholic passage in the city proper each year, there must have been shops set aside for these religious fashions. I still have a picture in one of many photo albums of me marching in to St. Joseph's Church next to my friend Rocco on our way to be confirmed. I remember that day and the Confirmation breakfast that followed in the school hall like it happened yesterday. As I recall, the menu was a glass of juice, a small carton of white milk and an individual box of sugared cornflakes, served by overweight grandmothers in aprons. It was a special time.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Glass Sparkly

Through the glass sparkly is what we're looking at here. It's a look through a doctor's office front window next to where we lived on Stevens Avenue. The site used to be a wooden duplex with the Chase family on one side and their grandparents on the other. There were three kids in the family, two boys and a girl. When they moved in that summer, it was exciting, because it meant more players for our pick-up games of backyard baseball, tackle football and after dark games of hide-and-seek. They moved Downeast after about 3-4 years, and soon after we heard that the sister was killed tragically in a car accident. After that, Mom befriended the extremely thin grandmother, who spent most days inside her apartment amid wooden chairs, while her husband worked as a cook at a restaurant in the city. Kids were often cruel to the couple, but after hearing of their plight from Mom, we looked on them kindly. They had so much less then us. For a young kid of 12 , poverty and want were things I never touched.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Skidder Chains

Only in Maine? I live in an environment, where one day the discussion can center around books, and within 24 hours we're talking skidders and other big machines in the woods of Maine. On Westbrook Street heading towards Stroudwater, there's a small logging operation taking place near the Maine Turnpike, but it had a couple of skidders and another big rig or two at work pulling logs out of the nearby woods. Man, I'd hate to fix a slow leak in a tire this size. Back a ways, I was pretty good at repairing leaks in my JC Higgins' tires. A quick trip down to White's 5 & 10 to purchase one of those small cans containing a bike tire repair kit for your inner tube, and I was in business and back on the road soon. However, repairing this big baby would be a 50 man operation and probably take days! Hahahaha

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Book Club

I joined my first Book Club last month. Me and about 40 women. Ok, I'm exaggerating a hair. There were eight in attendance besides myself. There are about 15 or so others on the email list, but I'm sure most couldn't get through the 500 pages or so. We read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. All readers enjoyed the book immensely, and we shared good talk and lots of laughter. I was told we were to all bring a snack to share. I had planned to blow off this part of the assignment, but at the last minute I felt guilty and decided to make my scrumptious pumpkin cookies, loaded with white chocolate chips and walnuts. I'm glad I did. Now, I've never been confused with Einstein(except a bit visually) when it comes to doing math problems, but... as I perused around the table at the number of faces and back to the middle where the food was placed, something didn't 'add up'. Lots of faces, few snacks. Hummmmm. Interesting! Now, if this was a room of men reading and snacking, I'd have to experience the 'loaves and fishes' miracle to eliminate the the munchies, but a room of women and books? Oh well, the next read is Jamie Ford's The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. What do you think of it? Should I read?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


"I have my eyes on you." These eyes stare out from the upper levels of the Maine College of Art on Free Street. They are kind of creepy too, if you ask me. By the way, I can watch most things once, even sad movies that are quite emotional, but videos showing eye surgery are very uncomfortable for me to watch. I have to turn away and refocus. In fact, before I had my heart surgery, my brother sent me a link to the actual procedure. I tried to watch, but after less then a minute, I had to shut 'er down. It was extremely difficult to view. Mom would call me squeemy. When it comes to watching stuff like this, I guess I'm guilty as charged.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

stupid Cupid

Hey, stupid Cupid! Always loved that Neil Sedaka song. Yes, yes, yes! It's true. The Valentine's Day Bandit has struck the city again. Evidence is this huge valentine hanging from the front of the Portland Museum of Art. Who is responsible? No one seems to know or at least wants to reveal the yearly culprit.

Monday, February 13, 2012


The "itsy bitsy spider..." No, I'm not going there. He'd be frozen solid anyway. Right now, it 5F outside the kitchen windows, and with a slight wind chill make that -4F. That's what I'd call brrrrrrrrr. On mornings like this, the walk up Stevens Avenue to Lincoln Junior High School, with that pile of books, was always a bit longer. No mittens, no hat, no problem! But I was very cool! At least I thought I was. I'm paying for it now

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Weak End

I'm a bit down in the dumps this afternoon. I slept all morning almost, and that's something I never do... unless I'm coming down ill. It's a sure sign that something is amiss.When I'm under the weather, there are a few things I need to do. Get the electric blanket on 5, get the old movie station (TMC) cranked up and get someone to tuck me in(especially, "shoulders"). But I have some work to get done yet. My blogbuddy Lowell (Ocala Florida)wrote me a country western song (inspired by my rusted dozer of yesterday). He wants me to put a melody to it. What do you think?

Rusting away in Maine today
Without delay
What else to say?

Rusting away in Maine today
If I could pray
Here's what I'd say

Take away the rust
Turn it into dust
Lest I make a fuss
And move to Florida!
-words by Lowell
Maybe, later, I'll have the energy to sit at the piano and throw down a tune. He said we might make a million with it. I can see it now. Words by Lowell. Melody by Birdman. Sung by Dwight Yoakam or perhaps Alan Jackson. Whooops! Ok, gotta go now. Elenka says the 'fever' is back.
What's your remedy when you feel IT coming on?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Rusted Yellow

This rusted, yellow bulldozer seems a bit out of sorts in this field of snow, but even in the heat of summer, I think this machine would have some trouble getting to work. The first job that I ever had was delivering morning papers down Allen Avenue. My little alarm clock would buzz off at around 5 AM, and I was off. If I was smart, I'd jump out of bed, dress head downstairs and out the door. Some mornings I wasn't. I'd shut those eyes for just... and it was over. I hated getting out of that routine and heading out an hour later. The whole morning looked different. More people out and about. Cars I had never seen. Customers at the door asking, "Where you been?" It doesn't happen often these days, but if I roll over and see the number 6, the day always rolls along with me trying hard just to play catch-up. That's not a feeling I like to experience... except on weekends.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Red Dots

Some dots of red spot the white landscape in the backyard this morning. These days, I really appreciate the simple in our lives. That's something that has changed in my life. I used to be a 'big picture' guy. Not anymore. Now, it's the uncomplicated that that often stops me in my tracks. And it's not just in the nature that surrounds me. It can be anything that comes across my world. No big plans for my world this weekend. Maybe I'll just find a simple sight and stare at it for two days. I hear Heidi Klum is single again. Ah...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Winter Blue

This birdhouse has been the focus of my camera before but not in winter. It has stood in this garden for quite a few years now, but this blue remains so vivid against the snow. It reminds me again that although parts of our lives are constantly whirling about and changing there are amazingly strategic pieces that remain invariable as mathematical functions. Maine blizzards of Januarys and the blistering sun of July pass on, but this strong blue prevails. We wander. We seek. We relish. We retain. But in the end, we each have our anchors that bring us back home.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Oaks' Benches

Shortcutting his way through the snowy Deering Oaks, me thinks this might be a student on his way to the University of Southern Maine (USM) campus. It's a beautiful trip through the trees, albeit quite frigid. When I was taking graduate classes there, I did a lot of walking, but not through the Oaks. I was coming from the other side of the campus. We lived at Woodfords Corner and took evening classes after work. I must admit, in my haste to get free from the cold, I seldom took the time to appreciate a wide-open scene in the city like this.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Water Memory

I am the oldest and therefore was special to this man. Grampa. He spoiled me rotten! One sunny, July day, I asked, no begged him, to take me fishing and to my surprise said, “Yes!. Let’s go.” So off we went in his black Chevy heading towards Portland. We stopped at water, I now know as Stroudwater Village, near the waterfall that is still there today. Grampa brought out his tackle box and spread lures and worms out across the grass. He showed be how to attach a worm to the sharp hook and all the other little nuiances to the game of fishing. It was a fun afternoon, and we even sat back and enjoyed a picnic lunch packed by Nana. As the afternoon waned, I finally got my ‘bite’. As aI reeled my catch in, I was some excited. However, disappointment soon ruled as the my ‘fish’ broke the surface and was unbelievably just a an old, black buckled boot, filled with disgusting slimy yellow mud. Yuk! It was a day! Etched in my memory forever. Whenever I drive by these falls, the image of this man always echoes back to me. True love.

Monday, February 6, 2012


Do you like to play games? I do, sometimes. How about the game I like to call GUESS? It can be about anything. Guess my favorite color? Guess who I saw this morning? Guess what I want for supper? I like this game... Elenka is NOT a big fan. She hates it! When I attempt to play it with her, she gets quite frustrated with me. Cripes, borderline mad! Ah, what the heck. Let's go! What is this black tarp covering? Vegetables in the cellar? Wood in the garage waiting for the wood stove? How about keeping the dampness out of the basement? Used furniture being stored for spring? I'll just say, at this point, Guess! What was your conjecture? Now, if you guessed clay designs awaiting the firing kiln, you are correct, sir! And I drive her crazy playing this game?

Sunday, February 5, 2012


I stopped over to my buddy Paul's office the other morning, where he repairs computers. Here, on his front desk, are a couple of toolboxes. We've been friends since 6th grade and surprisingly survived high school and racing his Dad's Wildcat around the winding boulevard. He's one of the thousands and thousands of pieces to the jigsaw puzzle scattered across the table of life that when pieced together is me. In my youth, the puzzle had few complicated pieces. Putting me together was easy... pretty simple. These days, the pieces confound me, confuse me and astound me, and I've even lost some very valuable pieces. There are a lot more sections, a lot more segments. Everyday, it seems, I locate another parcel. Who am I really? I'm still searching and looking for the life I'm living now. It's the most complicated struggle I've ever faced, but I'm game. Want to think about all that was ever you and where you are headed? See the movie Hugo. It'll get you wondering about all that is you.

Speaking of GAME-
It's Super Bowl Sunday. I've watched bits and pieces of all the previous 45 games. I'm not a big Super Bowl party guy either. I enjoy it alone or with another. Dad and I watched SB1 cheering on the Packers. Today, I'll be in my family room maybe alone, maybe with J- watching the teams play it out. It should be a good one. Stop all the talking. It's time to play!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Icy Fingers

Do you like to be alone? Walking, sitting, thinking? This past work week had it all for me--- boring routine, pressure points, confusion at a few contrary turns, and here at the end it's zanytime: the Super Bowl. It's a fine time to get away and refresh. Every once in a while, I find it so invigorating to just step back for a few hours, a few days. Walk a different way, sing a crazy tune and perhaps visit an unknown venue. Suggestions? Think out of the box? Heck no! Throw the box in the wood stove. Say hi to the 'elephant in the room' and toss him some peanuts! This weekend it's a 'bachelor weekend' me, and it comes at a perfect time. Elenka is away in Jersey, and I'll have to fend for myself. I love it! The house is all mine. Play my music LOUD! Don't pick up my clothes. Eat some fried food(shhhhh!). Sit and stare at lonely trees out back. And later today, get a bit crazy with good friends, and let's see... oh ya, make sure the house is picked-up before tomorrow evening. I better, or I'll find myself in a very bad place. I think they call it Lonelytown!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Snow Fence

As February rears its head, the question on the minds of many around here is: Where's the snow? I know. I know. It's only February, and this month and March are still prime winter months up here but... It has been a strange winter so far. Halloween snow! Thanksgiving snow! Christmas snow! But really not much else. Snowmobile distributorships are in a panic. Think Snow! The annual ice fishing derby, on nearby Sebago Lake scheduled for two weeks away, has been cancelled, because of unsafe ice conditions. Is something really afoot around these parts? I'm not going there quite yet. I know one thing, I don't plan to pack away my snow shovel right yet. I've lived in this state just about my whole life, and I so know a bit about Maine winters. The week ahead? Pretty mild with no white stuff in sight. I can live with that.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Fresh Squeezed

The last few oranges from Mom and Dad in Florida met the squeezer the other day. A small glass of oj was always a morning staple next to that bowl of oatmeal or hot creme of wheat. Some mornings were extra special. A glass of fresh squeezed waited for us in the warm kitchen. We had one of those glass orange squeezers, and I always jumped at the chance to 'make' the juice when Mom asked for help. An upper lip laced with pulp was the only consequence. These days, a moustache, adds a bit of a nuisance to the whole process, but the reaching of the bottom of the glass still brings the... "Ah!".

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Theme Day: Animals

Today, February 1, 2012, is Theme Day across the CDPB (citydailyphotoblog) community. If you look very carefully, you'll spy one of our kitties hiding out in one of her favorite spots, my leather backpack. Good old Molly. I still recall the day we walked into the Animal Refuge League shelter in Westbrook and after opening her cage, she crawled up on my brown, barn jacket and found a home forever. She's one of a long line of felines, who have graced our home and hopped into our laps on cold winter eves. As you can see, she's never met a paper bag, a backpack or a box she hasn't made a 'home' in for a few hours of sleep. We think she's a bit unique, because she 'talks' to us constantly, whether we are petting her or not. When J- was off to college in the Midwest, she'd 'talk' to him on the phone in her own, unique, meow-purr language. Even a random touch at 4:30 in the morning on seeing her, will send her off purring, 'talking' and rubbing for attention. She certainly makes a lot of noise, more than any other cat we've had. As if to say, "Good morning. Where have you been? What's for breakfast?" She's a fine lady... that good ol' Mollycakes!