Thursday, February 28, 2013


Early in my collegiate career, the only way I could do any serious study was to head to the stacks. Trying to get work done at my desk in the dorm just wasn't working. I needed to get away from all distractions. Now the stacks that I'm talking about, in no way looked like this. In back of the circulation desk at the Library, there was a narrow stairway that that led up about four flights of stairs to countless books and matters of research. My destination was a few cubicles that looked out on the rolling fields, through a bank of hardwoods towards the distant Thruway and solace. Three or four hours spent here got the paper written, the research completed or hundreds of pages read. The pages of Wuthering Heights, Tristram Shandy, Moll Flanders, Tom JonesKidnapped, Treasure IslandGreat ExpectationsMoby Dick, The Adventures Huckleberry Finn and many, many more would all run together, if I didn't find a get-a-way place of quiet. With a test every Monday morning over the assigned reading, an island of calm and solitude was of utmost importance, and I found it here. And yes, I've been awaken from a restful sleep on more than one occasion with the haunting question on my lips. What novel is assigned this week? 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I get lazy in the winter. How about you? I've been reminded lately that some of the junk on the stairs is mine, and my office is filling up fast. There are piles of papers and assorted books that seemed to have been just dropped any old place on my desk. There are clothes, mostly sport jackets, worn and then unceremoniously just tossed aside. Do I really want to attempt to maneuver the 10 jackets or so into that tiny cape upstairs closet? Added to the mix, are summer wear left over from that brief sojourn south. And yes, there are papers. Information I'll probably never need, but am reminded that I must keep organized. That, my friends, seems but an alien word to me. I try. I really do. This weekend, I'm gonna lock myself in there and do some significant 'damage'. Let's see. Today is Wednesday at 5:50 AM. Yes, this weekend, I'll get it done, unless of course some other important job is thrown my way, like chopping some kindling, or there's an Indiana basketball game on, or my camera cries for some 'action' or a spring training game is on, or... 
Don't worry, I'll think of something!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


It doesn't happen very often so when it does it's worth a documentation. The way the snow stacked itself Sunday on branches was this side of amazing, if you ask me. When I looked into the woods, I thought I was on a Disney escapade amid the Haunted Mansion with skeletons dancing this way and that. The snow really highlighted the branches. It wasn't all that sticky either. Each branch seem to hold about 2 inches, and it stayed clinging all through the storm with little wind to blow it away. The sun, however did the deed yesterday.
The 'bony maronies' are frolicking no longer. 

*(remember that classic song?)
"I got a girl named Bony Maronie..."

Monday, February 25, 2013

Spring Dreams?

I don't think so! We had another 12 inches dropped on us yesterday. Usually, when I'm faced with this scene, I totally wonder will I ever be buying packets of seeds and seedlings again. Cripes! March is less than a week away, and we're looking like this up back? I think I know now why animals do that hibernation thing. Even they don't want to face this outlook. But alas, we're a 'plugging' lot up here in the Northeast. I should send this photo with a rooster or turkey staring into the garden to Pluggers, a comic square created by three-time Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist Jeff MacNelly. The man died way too early in 2000 and drew another of my favorite strips Shoe. Jeff Brookins has taken over Pluggers and draws it taking reader submissions.

What would be a good caption for the rooster to say looking over the fence, standing knee-deep in snow? If I send it, I'll give you credit with me. hahaha

By the way, 6 more inches headed this way Tuesday!

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Our family lost a good one recently. Elenka's Dad passed away in Florida, and we headed south for the service. Steve was born in Kosariska, Czechoslovakia on September 18, 1921, climbed the beachhead at Normandy, married the love of his life Anna in 1947 and raised two beautiful daughters. He was a man of few words but always wise. When we told her parents that we planned to get married, all he said to me was, "What took you so long?" He was not an easy man for me to get to know, but our mutual love of a good, cold, draft beer and the game of baseball sealed the deal. When we bought this antique cape, her parents traveled to Maine each summer and worked long and hard on helping us to restore this home. As I walk from room to room, I can see his 'mark' that he left with us. The summer porch, the windowseats, the reconstructed mantle, the exposed ceiling beams were just a few of the places he toiled and sweated for us. And when he wasn't laying a rug, painting a wall, sanding a floor, he was giving us ideas and techniques to use to make this old farmhouse our own. He'll not be forgotten. The hard part for me though will be, when we head down to Florida this spring, I'll be probably be sitting alone evenings, sipping a beer in a darkened Florida room, watching a baseball game. 
It's going to take some getting used to.
Till we meet again.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Snow Gate

Here's a pensive image of the city at rest, enjoying a snowfall.
Well, it's the weekend. Do you know why I know it is? More snow is in my forecast. I'm listening this morning and Mr. Weatherman is telling me that we're going to be experiencing a 'weather event' Saturday night into Sunday. Really? A weather event? Why not just drop it on me that my snowblower better be back in the garage, because it looks like another 3-6 inches is headed my way. And what's the deal with the 'American model' as opposed to the 'European model'? When did these opposing terms come into play in my life? For the last three weekends, we've endured winter storms of one magnitude or another and for the life of 'em, the weather dudes and dudettes, that I watch on my telly, can seem to figure out what model we're getting. One is always harsher and stronger than the other, but they can never get it straight. Which one is entering my life over the next 6-10 hours? Get me a model I can live with! I guess it's time to set the record straight with NOAA, the National Weather Service. Listen buddy, there's only one model I want in my life and I think you know who it is. Give me the German-borm, ever dangerous Heidi Klum in all her fury! 
Now that's a storm I could endure! I think...

By the way, don't get me going on the weather service's new fun activity: naming snowstorms! This one is called "Q". What's this all about?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Church Windows

It was a night to remember...
This is the front window to the Stevens Avenue Congregational Church. In my formative years it was memorable for two reasons. Once at their annual auction, Leo got a double bed for a bid of 22¢. We lugged it to his house, and he actually set it up and slept on it that night. Amazing! The second incident leads one to ask the question: how does one go from a introvert to an extrovert almost over night? The first teen dance that I ever attended was in the basement rec center of this church. All the guys were pretty excited that Friday night. Me? Something was up in my stomach. I wanted to be a part of it, but I really had no idea what I was in for. Venturing down the stairs, we were met with lots of members of the opposite sex in dresses, like it was a real big deal. I was probably dressed in jeans and a clean t-shirt. As you can see I had no real idea what this night was all about. We headed for the punch bowl, and tried to look sophisticated and cool, sort of our version of 'rebel without a cause'. A couple of the gang broke with 'the plan' and went over and started talking to a couple of the girls. They actually were smiling! Leo and Skip both looked like they were ready to move to the dance floor. Good grief! What was happening? My teen world seemed to be spinning a bit out of control. That was when it dawned on me that I was in way over my head. I made an excuse, ran upstairs and headed home in the darkness. I was embarrassed. I wasn't ready for that. At least not yet. Did I actually think that the naive introvert would survive the night and have fun? I'll never forget that night. Ever! These days, this extrovert would just love to travel back for a second chance at that night and those gals in their pretty, pink dresses.
But as they say, sometimes you only get one shot.
This was one of those nights!  

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Plow Truck

Today, it's all about good news, bad news. Back on Stevens Avenue, the bad news was that we had a long driveway and the snow removal work had better be done by the time Dad attempted to pull into the driveway. If not, there might be 'heck' to pay, depending on his mood. The good news centered around the big storms. When we got to the bottom of the driveway, and the end of the job was in sight, often the fun would commence. Stevens was a main drag, so plows went back and forth all day during the height of the storm. Now, if we positioned ourselves at just the right spot on the street when the plows whooshed by, we'd find ourselves covered with whiteness and buried up to our thighs in snow. Sometimes it was a real struggle to free ourselves.
Since the storm brought us no money for shoveling OUR long driveway(Dad didn't pay), this became one of the highlights of day spent digging out.
Even today, I love that sound of the plow rumbling its way down the hill and filling my driveway with snow at 4 AM. 
Why? Did I tell you I have a snowblower?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Boot Tip

Here's a tip of my Bean boot and some brittle ice. They're not my old gum rubbers, that I wore everyday from dawn to dusk growing up, but they'll do. My brother and I each had a pair that, when they weren't on our feet, were lined next to the the kitchen radiator that always seemed to be rattling away. Through my upper elementary and junior high years they were the staple for your feet in winter. By most mid-mornings in school, my grey, wool socks had slipped to the bottom of my feet and were pretty sweaty. I had to take each off to pull up the sagging sock. The gum rubber design is still around today, but with a lot more emphasis on fashion then on keeping 12 year old boys' feet warm. They were pretty important for other reasons too. For example, walking to school and around the neighborhood, if we came upon thin, crusted ice like this, it had to be smashed. To me, much more than the smashing of the frozen water, it was the sound. Much like shattering glass, it brought smiles to our faces. 
Smashing! Crashing! Shattering!
Hey, our fun was cheap!

Birthday Wishes going out today to my Sis J- in Oregon!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


In Father Curley's English class, we read a couple of Shakespearean plays. It was the first time I experienced Macbeth, and it has been my favorite ever since that first reading. One of our assignments was to memorize these lines from Act 5. I still know them by heart. I have often quoted the lines and others from this play, as I go through my daily living, often with zany references. I have a lot of fun with it. 
The other morning, when I pulled over to capture this scene with the wind blustering away, 'full of sound and fury signifying nothing' was echoing in my head. 
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Act 5 Scene 5 Macbeth

Monday, February 18, 2013


The difficult part of yesterday's storm was not the accumulation of snow, only about 2 inches, but the driving wind. I thought I'd take a short spin to Sebago Lake and see if I might be able to find a few ice shacks to photograph. The wind was ferocious and unrelenting. It created whiteout conditions and even made the 7-8 huts on the distant ice indishtinguishable. How many can you make out, not counting this one in the foreground, that's been pulled off the ice? At least if you have a shack to huddle in and perhaps a small woodstove, you can get out of the wind. This fellow, at 9 AM, has already called it a day. Now, puttin' a worm on a hook in April is one thing, but sitting on the ice for hours in February, in a cursing wind is another... at least for me. Oh, and one more thing, at least most of the shacks stock a cooler. After all, ice fishing in Maine is an alcohol event for most. Can you blame them?

Sunday, February 17, 2013


I found this attached to a Volkswagen bug in a parking garage. We stopped here a few years ago. The Dali. The Salvador Dali Museum is located in St. Petersburg. It was a really fun place to visit. The gift shop was an interesting place as well. I would have never bought this vanity place as a souvenir though. First, I detest vanity plates in all shapes and forms, and second of all I couldn't use it. Maine requires both a front and back numbered plate. We call them plates up here. They go by the name tag in other states. What do you call them?

Maybe a coffee cup with this design would do. It is slightly cool.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Snow Shower

After a quick trip to Florida, I'm back in the frozen North. I really enjoyed those 80s, but now I'm back to reality here amid some morning snow showers. The winter is trudging slowly along up here, but it's high school basketball  tournament time and my beloved Red Sox have started spring training in Fort Myers, so as they say 'hope springs eternal'. In another month, it's baseball season in the majors and spring REALLY will make it's way up here probably in early May. Until then, I'll be hanging on. Hey, I hear that Restaurant Week in coming in March. See, I'll make it. Basketball, the Sox, food and work commitments will guide and push me along.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Fire Barn Icicles

Fire and Ice
It can get hot! It can be very cold! Here are some icicles hanging off a local fire barn. Back on Stevens Avenue when a thaw was followed by a big freeze, it was always icicle time. In the corner near one of the back entrances, there was a place where large junks of ice always grew. It would form in multiple clusters, in widths of 12-15 inches. On days that I was especially bored, I'd get my trusty hammer and commence to have some icicle fun. Often the ice broke up in large sections, and I felt especially gratified and thought I was doing my family duty of ridding the roof of the pesky ice sculptures. Sometimes though, the wall of ice was as hard as stone and even the hammering got me nowheres. It seemed to always render a thirst though, and pieces of ice fit the bill. Sucking away! Today, I'd probably be reminded that the frozen water, hanging from the roof, was dirty and full of assorted crap. Back then though, it was only a quenching relief, where ever it was hanging. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013


It's Valentine's Day!
I'm sure the Valentine Bandit has struck in Portland, plastering the windows and walls of city buildings with small red hearts. I'm away this morning, so I'll just have to go on previous February mornings. I'm sure the city is heart-struck!
I am too.

Happy Valentine's Day to my special valentine, Elenka!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tree Length

The sight of logging trucks on roads around here is a common occurrence. If you're behind them, that's one thing, but if they're coming towards you you better give them a wide berth. Ever since we've lived in our home we've burned  wood. We have four fireplaces, but we only ever used one and that was just briefly. The woodstove in the kitchen is where we burn wood these days, always have. You can't beat a good woodstove fire. These days, for the most part, we get it cut, split and delivered. However, there was a time when we got it delivered in tree lengths in trucks like this. RN, who lived in Pownal, delivered with his big rig. He was quite the character. He had few teeth, looked like he visited a razor about once a month, chuckled constantly and always wanted to share some crazy highlight of his day with me. He looked quite a bit older than me, but in reality he was 15 years my junior. Sad really. A hard life chasing the bottle can age a man quickly. As I remember, he was a hard man to track down too. I called him constantly trying to line up a delivery. My guess is that he had a few creditors and ex-wives chasing him down. They might have taken a larger toll than the bottle. Yet, I was always happy to see his rig heading up back with that smile and wave. After he left, it was just me and my trusty Husqvarna on sweaty July days. RN is gone and so are those days.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Kitchen Window

Here's one last look at the snow level near the back door. This is the kitchen window that looks out on my birdfeeders. I used to have to look up to fill them. Now I just look down. Back on Stevens Avenue and Coyle Street, after the euphoria of hearing on the radio our school called off, reality set in. We had a deadline. The driveway had to be shoveled by 2:30. That was when Dad got home, and so that was when the deed had better be completed. We had shovels, but really my grandfather's wooden snow scoop was the saving grace. It could move a lot of snow relatively quickly. Our driveways were always on flat ground and long. What was that all about. Big houses mean big driveways, I guess. But just for once it would have been nice to have one short and downhill like Leo's. Light snow or BIG snow deposit it was over in an hour. For us, not so much. We counted our duration in multiple hours.
You know, now that I look back on it, it was always nice to get back to school. Now, I know why!

Monday, February 11, 2013


Stop, please! I'm crying uncle!

There's a lot of snow around these parts now. We got 35.5 inches out here, and Portland broke its all time record of 27.1, with a snowfall of 31.9 inches of whiteness. The Public Works Dept. says it might take weeks to clear the snow off streets and sidewalks. When you live in Maine year round, yes, you like to see it snow. These days, I'll take that early snowfall, usually around Turkey Day, gotta wish for a white Christmas each December, and maybe a day off here and there to watch a Nor'easter roll through the southern part of the state, but that's about it. And a dropping of this size with frigid temperatures right along with it? I say enough already. I hear Punxsutawney Phil didn't get frightened by his shadow. Good! After this stretch of weather, bring on spring! I think I can take it.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Storm Front

Here's what we woke to yesterday morning. Yes, it was still snowing and continued until about 1 PM. It certainly was a good thing that I ran the snowblower up the driveway a few times Friday afternoon. The main blizzard transpired overnight and dropped over 2 feet. The look when daylight struck was a bit jaw-dropping! My Toro a very good machine, but at 35.5 inches, it just about met its match. The drifts were the killers! This photo is no exaggeration. We got a lot of snow. The previous weeks' relatively mild weather and rain had rendered the ground down to the grass in most cases. This was a good thing. After we shoveled and looked back at the walkway and saw the size of the banks, Elenka and I both realized something. Since 1977, indeed we have had this much snow before, but NEVER all at once like this deluge. 
I'd love to keep typing, but I really need to go shovel some more. That and do some day-dreaming of the warm Florida sunshine. Ah...

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Off Park

Twenty- four hours ago this alleyway off Park street looked like this, however, it's a whole new ballgame now.
The snowfall totals are crazy this morning. Outside the kitchen window, here in Gorham they are saying 33 inches and counting. The weathergal just said maybe expect another 6-8 inches before this white deluge comes to an end in the overnight hours. Portland just broke the all time record for snowfall. The city just topped 29 inches, smashing the old record of 27.9. I guess you could say, if you get all excited about snowfall totals for a storm, well the New England coast, this morning, is the place to be. And the gusts of up to 50 mph are adding wonderful sound effects and waist-high drifts. I maneuvered my way out to the garage earlier to gather some kindling to start the woodstove and had to wade the snow drift at the back door. I'm glad I got the snowblower out yesterday afternoon and ran it up and down the driveway a few times. It'll make tomorrows' work a bit easier... I hope. Until then, I'll watch the storm peter out from this side of the window and feed the stove.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Calm

... before the storm. 
In 1978 I remember seeing the front page of the Boston Globe with cars stranded all along Rt. 128, caught in waves of snow.  Hundreds spent the night in their cars. It was a horror show. I don't expect to spend the night sleeping in my car tonight, but we are readying for anywheres between 1-2 feet of snow, blizzard conditions, with periods of whiteouts. Oh, and close to hurricane winds. It's going to snow all day today and most of Saturday, ending in the evening. Just another winter weekend in Maine. The WORD for today is WHITE... can you say that? I know you can.
I'll catch you on the other side.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Here's a slice of Americana. 
A friend's back porch, that I pass each day, has this old sled propped against the wall. She tells me its been passed down through her family for generations and that her grandmother once rode it down snow covered hills in the area. It reminds me so much of the iconic Flexible Flyer sled invented in 1889 by Samuel Leeds Allen. He owned a farm equipment company out of Philadelphia, added the sled to his hardware line and hit it big. Lots of companies attempted to copy the steel-runner designed sled, including the made-in-Maine "Speedway". I had one passed down from my Uncle Leonard, and it was the biggest, and fastest on our neighborhood hills, whether I was flat on my belly or sitting up with my feet propped on the steering device with buddies sitting behind me. By the way, the Flyer, King of the Sleds, still lives today. It is manufactured by Paricon LLC out of South Paris, Maine. It's kind of ironic too, because my Mom's family, including my uncle lived, for many years, in South Paris.
I guess you could say; it's all downhill from here! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Branched Tree

We learn from trees.
Even the oldest of trees can bud new branches. Forty years ago, I was officially hired at my place of work and have been there ever since. Never wavered? I truly can't say that, but in the big pictured of things,  I've loved my 'long distance run'. Heck, these days 20 years can be a long run. I've been asked lately, by many, how I did it, and my refrain has been the same. Find what you love, welcome the sun each day, immerse yourself in learning, fear no change, and always welcome new branches. Any strong, growing tree has all these attributes and lives its life with vigor. Now, let's see. Forty more? Are you kidding me? 
This horsie  is getting ready for the pasture!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Well, this one is not abandoned as the past two. At least I don't think so. Let's call it empty for right now. It rests looking across the Saco River and has been vacant, at least winters, for the last few years.  I seem to pass it but a few times during the summer, and have  never taken notice of any vehicles in the driveway or other activity around the yard. It might be occupied summers by people from 'away'. I just don't know. However, there is one thing I know about her. She's a real, classic beauty. Twin bow windows in the front, cupola at the top, two story square garage on the left and its location, make it a piece of prime real estate in the area. Maybe my brother might be able to do a bit more research on it.
Anyone looking for a house in rural Maine?

Monday, February 4, 2013


More rural dreams gone bad---
Here's another house that's been vacant for well over twenty-five years. This place looks a lot more worse for wear than yesterday's house. Someone mentioned it in a comment that they wondered what the critter situation might be in these places. I thought of that too. This one looks a little strange too, without a chimney in evidence, but for some reason I don't think Santa's going to be in a quandary on this roof ever again.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Over the next few days, I'll be taking a look at a few abandoned, rural houses nearby. I'm not going to be saying much, just shedding a few tears about what once was and what might be again. I've always liked the look and set up of this cape. It's been vacant for over 30 years, and I'm quite surprised that someone hasn't taken a chance with it. I like to take a few chances. It tends to keep me honest, but I don't know if this would be one of those times.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Ok, let's set the scene. I'm a 'dead man walking', and I'm heading to my last meal. The warden asks, "Whatca want son?" Now, you might want to sit down for this. My reply would be a toasted tunafish sandwich, with cheese and lettuce. Hey, call me crazy... and many of you will, but that would be my call. Mom made them all the time, and I got hooked. There used to be a wonderful vegetarian restaurant in the city called The Hollow Reed that we often went to on Saturdays for lunch. Elenka would always order something unique and especially veggie oriented. Me? They had an outstanding tuna sandwich on delicious homemade, wheat bread with a generous spread of sprouts. Every time we went there, that's what I ordered. Elenka would open the menu, wave it in my face and just rolled her eyes.
She'd say, "Nothing else interests you on this menu? Come on." My refrain was always the same, "Nope." Drove her crazy!
Love tunafish; always will! 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Theme Day: Umbrellas

Today, February 1, 2013, is Theme Day across the CDP Blog(citydailyphotoblog) community. Ya, I had a few umbrellas I could have used, even a parasol or two. The other morning, this caught my eye. Umbrella is a new gift shop that I do believe opened just last October. It's a small shop. It's a narrow venue that hopes to have a lot of visitors stopping tonight. It's the First Friday ArtWalk in the city. I won't be stopping by this evening; however, it is a site I'll drop by soon to take a look. These small shops, carrying eclectic, creative items, intrigue me.