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. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Scissors Found

Over the next few days, I'll be sharing a few 'lost' items. Well, at least they seem lost to me, because I have found them.  It's that simple.  These child's scissors, found on a driveway, are the first up for grabs. They are certainly going to be late for school today. There were always boxes of them in every classroom I ever set foot in, and thanks to Captain Kangeroo, Mom had her own playbox set aside with glue, construction paper, lots of odds and ends and plenty of these safety scissors. They all, of course, had rounded ends so if her boys ever got to doing mischief, like running with scissors, the 'damage' would be minimal. Cutting and pasting projects, filling coloring books and finger painting were always were good rainy day fillers. Moms were pretty resourceful gals. Ya, they were!

Sunday, November 11, 2012


I've been to Washington DC about 5-6 times and on each visit I've taken the tour of the various memorials. My favorite memorial is the one dedicated on July 27, 1995, the 42nd anniversary of the armistice that ended the war, to honor the Korean War. There is just something that pulls me to the 38 soldiers dressed for battle and in rain gear. I was there on a foggy morning once. and the conditions only highlighted the soldiers and the reflecting pool nearby. As others flock to the Lincoln and the Washington, ( I do visit them also) there is some unknown attraction to this one. Maybe, just maybe, it has something to do with my hundreds of little green soldiers, that my brother and I would set up and 'battle' with on the livingroom rug. Hey, I just remembered, I have one little, green soldier that sits on my desk at work. What's that all about anyway?

Happy Veterans' Day to all the vets out there, especially to my father-in-law Steve P. struggling with some health issues at the moment. He learned to drive handling a jeep in the 'good war' WWII, and if you ever drove with him in his station wagons, you know this is TRUE! It was always an adventure.
ps. this small monument is in Groveville near my work.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Each fall it seemed the nuns would herd us upstairs in the school hall and show us the movie "The Song of Bernadette". In her lifetime Bernadette Soubirous reportedly saw 18 visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The first time was near a grotto close to her home. In 1933 she was canonized by Pope Pius XI and was ushered into sainthood. Her body has been exhumed three times since her death, surrounding her qualifications for becoming a saint. Here's an amazing element to all of this. Supposedly, her body has not decomposed after 143 years. However, there are those that believe she had a little 'face work' via a wax-like mask at the last exhumation in 1925. Thousands make the pilgrimage each year to Lourdes, France and pray to her at the grotto. My photo today is the grotto on the grounds of the Franciscan Monastery in Kennebunkport. Each time I visit, I'm jolted back to that movie and Bernadette's story. The movie is long at over 150 minutes and received 4 Oscar nominations in 1943. Every once in awhile, I'll come across it on TCM and watch it for a few minutes. It's somewhat unsettling though, I keep having to peer over my shoulder to see if Sister Admirabilis is lurking.

Friday, November 9, 2012

"The Tracks

... of my Tears" keeps playing in the back of my head, since I saw this image out the back window at work yesterday. What's that all about anyway? Why is it that sometimes we'll hear a song, and it just stays with us through the entire day and sometimes, for me, beyond. It can drive us crazy, especially if it's a melody we can't stand. Case in point: the other day at work I was listening to some tunes and a Janet Jackson song came up. I don't even like JJ, but that didn't stop me. It has a pretty strong bass track, and I guess I was humming it pretty good and a tappin' my foot. Someone nearby asked, "What are you doing?" I had to reply, "I don't know!" At least I didn't get up and start dancin'. Anyone know what the deal is with songs in our heads? There's got to be a reason. I'll end on this note. "The Tracks of my Tears" is one fine song by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. I could have done a lot worse. Now, I just hope I don't hear a Four Tops tune this morning!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Little Touches

One last image of Deering Oaks in its late fall colors. Soon the fountain will stop flowing and the duckhouse will be lugged away readying the pond for skating outings. The iconic little structure in the middle of the pond used to be stored in a building next to the Expo, but got displaced when the city stored its police horses there. The horses are gone now, suffering an 'economic death'. That indeed is too bad. It was always a fun sign in summer to see the equines and their riders working the streets of the city. I always thought they were quite a public relations coup walking the streets of the city. The officers riding always stopped for conversation, mostly centering on their rides. I've always been a strong believer that little touches, like police horses and a familiar duckhouse's return in the spring, add so much and make a city great.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Leaves are falling away here in Tommy's Park. You have to expect this and more when the temperature this morning has bottomed out at 29° F. The threat of a possible Nor'easter is still on the horizon for tonight and tomorrow. Looks like some freezing rain and a possible 1-3 inches of white stuff around here. I don't care what the calendar reads; it ain't fall anymore! Hello winter! This weekend the rest of the wood will find it's way into the woodshed, the birdhouses will be picked-up and some attention will be paid to readying the garden for a winter's sleep. And if things play out the way I hope, we'll make it to Hampton Beach Casino for an evening of rockabilly with Chris Isaak. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Finally, finally our country's long nightmare is over. Well, it will be  at 8 PM tonight. Voting booths will close, candidates will shut up and America will speak. That's the easy part. Hard part... the next day. First, let me say this right off the bat. I'm voting. Always have. Can't ever remember ever not doing my duty. But having survived the last 2 years of endless candidates chattering senselessly, I must say this. The two party system, as we see it today, is killing this country! As soon as the election is decided, the two parties will recommence battering each other over the head, for the 'love' of the party not our country. Forget who comes out on top tomorrow evening. It's really not going to matter very much. You can shuffle the cards anyway you like, but we can't move this country forward given the players in Congress and their ingrained mindset. You can scream liberty, change, freedom all you want, but the bottomline is, it's probably not going to matter much. Whichever party loses has 4 years to knock the other party's guy 'out of the saddle'. All this crap begins Wednesday. Don't believe me. Just watch! 

Monday, November 5, 2012

1/2 Off

Lots of times signage is very confusing. At my lemonade stand back on Stevens Avenue, I was simple-- Lemonade... 5¢. Not confusing at all. What's the deal with 1/2 Off on this plywood though? 1/2 off of what? Potatoes? Squash? I'm not great in math, although I have been compared to Einstein when it comes to looks, ( Hey, am I giving away too much there?), but even I know that 1/2 Off of Free ain't much. And kittens? You know I have a weakness in this area.

Even my sense of humor seems a bit off today. Strugglin' with a cold all weekend. Taking off today.
It's 6:40 AM
Nite, Nite!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Peach Chair

Let me tell you this about metal chairs. If they have been sitting in the warm sun for awhile, they are wonderful. I know this. I've experimented with them a lot. Back then, my butt wasn't big, but it knew what warmth was and where to find it. My grandparents had two green ones in their backyard, along with their white ceramic ducks. Grampa would put a fresh coat paint on them each spring, and I would head for the chairs each time I visited, especially if the sun was shining. If a thunderstorm beat me to the backyard and if I wasn't careful, I could be in wet-pant trouble. On more than one occasion, it happened!

Saturday, November 3, 2012


I've built a lot of forts in my day. There was a big igloo-like structure made out of chunks of ice that I helped some high school kids build off of Washington Avenue. It was a thing of beauty, but how much fun can you really have huddled in a hut with temperatures well below freezing. My forts made out of wood were all constructed in the summer sun, under more comfortable conditions. My bests were the ones we made while living on Stevens Avenue. There was the one behind the P's house. It was a two floor structure, complete with a shingled roof and sides. The one behind the Esso station, that was up a large tree about 20 feet was our best. It had a small woodstove in it, (ya, I know not smart to have a wood burning stove in a fort made out of wood), and fortified with Old Golds, we attempted to ride out Hurricane Donna in it. Gosh, but that tree did some swaying! My last fort-building effort centered around the one off of Warren Avenue. We built it when we were in high school down behind the cemetery and transported all the lumber via the railroad tracks. We found this small railroad vehicle, discarded in the bushes, got it on the tracks. It was perfect for what we needed. A few years later, home from college Eddie, Brenda and I walked through the woods on a crisp, winter afternoon and found it still standing. Forts and I go way back. Nice memories.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Boat Leaves

It's early November, and sometimes there can be such beauty in death. On athletic fields across the state, the football, soccer and field hockey seasons are coming to a close, and soon State Champs will be crowned. For one team, everything seems to end way too soon. For another, it's time to bask in the fading afternoon sun and remind themselves that all those grueling practices, starting way back in August at those 'play days' and exhibitions, were worth it. Of course, on the other side of the field, losing ain't fun... ever. Down the road, however, after the uniforms have been washed and put away for another year, after the banquets of spaghetti to celebrate how close they came are over, there will be that time to reflect. Time puts all things we do, the people we meet, the places we travel in wonderful perspective. Yes, sometimes, when we are able to step back and focus on where we have arrived, the ordeal we've endured and the long-lasting friendships we've made, there is a gentle beauty in death.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Theme Day: Water's Edge

Today, November 1, 2012, is Theme Day across the CDP community
(citydailyphotoblog). The theme this month is along the 'water's edge'. Last weekend, we ventured down the coast to Ogunquit, and along the way we stopped at York Beach. I had planned to write a piece about how depressing closed cottages are along a run of sea, but after Sandy's wrath upon the boardwalks of the New Jersey  Shore and NYC, my words would ring hollow and foolish. So to all the communities along the 'water's edge' effected so tragically this week, return  soon, stronger and more resilient. We wait.