Sunday, June 30, 2013


Life, as we know it, can be a bit of a blur from time to time, especially during summer days. Family visits, weekend trips, concerts, beach time, relaxing with friends on the deck... You can easily fall into that go, go, go trap.
Take a step back and breathe.
Heck, it's summer.

btw this is an image of a glass, deck tabletop, lit from above with some small lights.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

New Home

Over the next week or so, my comments will be spotty, but please don't forsake me. Stop by and check out my images. See you soon.

Here'a a new three-decker that has found its way into the woods up back. At first, I thought the blue would be way too bright. Now I kind of like it. However, I wonder if my bird friends will tend to shy away from it. As they say, time will tell.

Friday, June 28, 2013

14 Legs

"She's got legs, she knows how to use them...".
Here's a trivia moment. How is Portland, a small city by the sea, connected to Texas' largest city, Houston? Well, on March 3, 1977 the Cumberland County Civic Center opened its doors to just under 10,000 screaming fans to ZZ Top and their blues-inspired rock. That lil' ol' band from Houston, Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard, did a fine job breaking open those doors that night.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

24 Panes

No, I don't do windows!
This large window got me thinking. Leo once fouled off a pitch, and it shattered one of the panes on the back door leading up to our attic. Putting my hand, carefully,  through the now opened space, I was able to unlock the door, and we all scrambled up the stairs to investigate the room behind my bedroom door. There was still lots of stuff, packed in boxes from the house owners before us. However, there was nothing of real value to us, just junk. We had been told though never to go into this room. It was off limits. Were there bodies? I'm sure it was because we would only get into mischief beyond this door, and they were right. The next day, unbeknownst to anyone, I removed the nails to two bottom boards right behind the door. It made for easy access to my room. I'd crawl under the back shed, to those back steps, push up the boards, pull myself up, replace the boards, head up the stairs and into the attic, cross the attic floor quietly and into my room. It was all so clandestined. I was so proud of myself. Mom was not pleased with her oldest when I showed her my deed in a few days. 
Needless to say, I soon pounded nails.
I was kind of a pain! 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Do you believe those stories that everyone has an identical twin walking somewhere in the world? How about that often whimsical concept of 'separated at birth', where two faces are matched up emphasizing odd characteristics. You know, for example, where they put the faces of Mick Jagger and the Don Knotts' character, in the movie "The Incredible Mr. Limpet", side by side for humorous effect. Now, I've had many requests asking for a 'closer look' at the real Birdman over the last few years. There have even been a few lads, Lowell, Jack come to mind, who have made sly comments as to why they think I incorporate a paperbag mask in my avatar. Funny, guys. Real funny!
All I can say, with true certainty, is that if you want a glimpse into the real me, check out images of Twain, Einstein, Kurt Vonnegut and even on occasion, Richard Petty.
That's as close as you're going to get today, gang.

Have you ever been told you resemble someone famous? Please share. An inquiring mind wants to know.

ps. I even heard someone called Elenka, Doris Day once. What's that all about?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Four Rods Skyward

Deep sea fishing is not my cup of tea, but sitting here with a beverage watching the world go by is. However, if you thought the deck, under an umbrella, at Joe's Boathouse would provide some respite from the heat yesterday, you would have been mistaken. Even dockside looking out beyond these two tankers towards  Little Diamond Island, could provide little relief. People flock from all over to our little corner of the world. Yet sometimes we take it for granted. It's here at our fingertips 365. It's just hard some January mornings when the mercury has settled around zero to keep this upbeat perspective.
No place is perfect. They all have their pluses and minuses. Right? I haven't found paradise yet.

When our waitress asked, "What can I get you?"
My response was simply,"How about a cool breeze!"

Monday, June 24, 2013

Bike Baskets

I was never a big one for front bike baskets. Those were pretty much left the girls in the neighborhood and their moms. I did however have a dual set of those pictured here on the lefthand bike, for my 70 or so daily, afternoon newspapers. I always thought they were distracting to the rest of my sleek, silver-fendered JC Higgins, but I wasn't about to lug that  bulky bundle of papers around on my back. Teddy did, as he wobbly  navigated down Warren Avenue on his bike. Rough on the shoulders and back, he always complained. When I see the ladies peddling away on their two wheelers these days, with their front baskets stuffed with the necessities of life, I think there goes one organized gal.
Am I wrong?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Beach Rock

Don't get nervous. 
All the beach rocks, I complained about yesterday at Willard Beach, weren't this big. I know I have the 'gift' of heightened exaggeration, but even you would question this. I must say though one of the saving graces of traveling to this beach was the large outcroppings of rocks and the fortress to the left of the beach area. After lunch, the old wives tale of not being able to go in the water for one hour was strictly enforced by Mom, so we sought out other avenues of entertainment. Climbing those large boulders filled the time nicely and made mommy dearest as nervous as all heck. Somewhere along this time, I read The Guns of Navarone for a book report and was sold on risking life and limb climbing rock faces. If you've read the book or seen the movie, you know what I mean. Most of the time, Mom probably wished she had persuaded us to hit the surf right after those egg salad sandwiches. It would have made her beach time a lot more enjoyable, I'd wager.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Beach Stats

We complained often as kids. Well, I did anyway. I better not vouch for my brothers and sisters and paint with a wide brush on this one. However, one thing we could all agree on. When the station wagon headed out to the beach, we all tried to convince Mom to steer clear of Willard. We'd cry Crescent! We'd scream Higgins! Heck, we even tried to direct her towards a lake Forest Lake (blasphemy!), but she wasn't buyin'. Willard was relatively close, with easy parking and it had restrooms. No peeing in the ocean for this lady, I guess. Two aspects always to consider when going to the ocean to swim in Maine. Stay clear of freezing water and rocks! Willard had both in abundance! Cold water is a givin in this state, until at least August. 57.6 yesterday morning. That's freezing to me, anyway you measure it. As for the unpleasantness to your feet, I don't know what was worse: low tide where it seemed you walked for a mile on little rocks or playing in the surf at high tide and being bounced around on them. Ah... the cuts and bruises. Pick your poison, I guess.

Yesterday's Beach Report: YES, the rocks were still there, the water was icy cold, but the afternoon temperature topped off in the low 80s, under solid blue skies. Hot!
Monday is going to be hot, humid, in the 90s.
We're headed back!
Just when I get out of the water... it pulls me back in!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Feet

Summer arrived this morning at 1:04 AM... finally!
Like this guy, seen partially in this picture, I plan to spend the next two months or so in my shorts and Sperries. Hanging out in the early morning's warmth is something I've been looking forward to for quite awhile now. We're heading to Willard Beach today. 
 Hey, it's summer!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Silver Shoes

So, some mornings I just wake up with unresolved questions. I wouldn't always call them big ticket items, but sometimes getting to the bottom of the issue can take one or two items off my plate. Maybe you can help me today. Here goes. What's the deal about women and shoes? Shoes? Sandals? Slippers? Formal? Everyday?  Why, why, why do they need a million of them? Back a ways, I laughed with everyone when the closet of Imelda Marcos was forced open to reveal that she had 2,700 pairs of shoes. What is this fascination with footwear? I like shoes too. A pair of brown, a pair of black and a couple of pairs of Sperries for the summer, and that's about it for me. But women. I hear them talk. I've overheard conversations. I do believe, in the pecking order of things, shoes might even come before, are you ready for this... sex. So what's the big deal with shoes? Can anyone out there set me straight? I'm waiting.
Tomorrow I might take on Facebook. What the big deal with this mutual admiration society? 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Congress Square

I really must say. 
When I heard that the city was going to release its new marketing slogan yesterday, I had high hopes. I was kind of excited, wondering in what direction it might go. Would it be a bit shocking? Take a humorous route? Be just plain boring? Or might it play it safe and fall somewhere in the middle?

"Portland, Maine. Yes. Life's Good Here."

Of course, the powers that be down at City Hall think it's downright perfect. For the past few days, via social media they have been floating 'test balloons' with various versions. So, let me get this right. If I have a food truck running city streets this summer and my claim to fame is my scrumptious fried clams, all I need do is replace Portland, Maine with "Fried Clams. Yes. Life's Good Here. How about if I'm a big furniture outlet? Shall I just run a huge banner across my store and my website proclaiming. "Convertible Sofas. Yes. Life's Good Here."
Ok, I think I've got the idea.
I'm willing to bet, by September all the trendy places I frequent will have plastered ad nauseam... "(fill in the blank. Yes. Life's Good Here."
If that's what they want for advertising this city, that's what they'll get.
As Ed Grimley (Martin Short) would say on those old SNL skits, "I really must say..." 
I'm seriously underwhelmed with this slogan. Unless of course. Ah yes. How about this?
"Birdman. Ayah. Life's Good Here." 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bike Shadow

City living... country living.
In the city these days, you won't find a bike left unattended without some huge lock wrapped around it. Of course, bicycles are more specialized, more elaborate and a great deal more expensive too. Out this way, it's fun to see life hasn't changed an awful lot. Bikes are still left littered across country lawns. Left for days where kids spill them. I was forever leaving that silver-fendered JC Higgins scattered about the neighborhood. Heck, I even left it deep in the cemetery one night, after an afternoon of catching frogs at one of its ponds. I located it the next morning but not without some serious backtracking of my yesterday.
Were the spirits at play?
After all, bike riding, for me, was always a spiritual undertaking anyway.  

Monday, June 17, 2013

C Street

I've heard some call Portland a small, big city. In lots of ways, that oxymoron works for me. One sure indication that it's not all that big is that every school has a name. We have no Public School 250. As a matter of fact, to my knowledge every school in Maine has a rightful moniker. Now, we have no 42nd Street in our claim to fame, but we do surprisingly have three of the oddest street titles. Just behind the Greyhound bus station, you'll find A, B, and C Streets. These street names have been there forever, and I have always thought it a bit of a joke that a city of this size had to resort to letters of the alphabet for 'creative names'. I do so love a good book or article filled with the assorted 26 letters of the alphabet, but these three streets in my book just have to go. Heck, I could throw some names in the direction of the city fathers. How about Birdman Lane or Birdman Drive? There, that took me about three seconds to come up with. I wonder what they are waiting for--- the perfect name?

By the way, rest easy tonight, I recently read that the three aforementioned streets are getting real names this summer. I wonder why it took our city so long. To me the idea that all streets should have real names is as easy as A, B, C.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Donald and Steve

Happy Fathers' Day!
This was a happy day. 
J- was in The Secret Garden in 1997, and his two grandfathers attended the matinee. Just before we headed out, I snapped this picture of them on the deck. This is the last picture I have of them together. It's special to me. They were two fine dads and grandfathers. I'll be thinking a lot of them today.
I always do.
... and it's not easy somedays. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

College Chairs

Our journey today finds us on the campus of the University of New England. The history of this college began in 1831 when the Kennebec Association of Universalists founded the Westbrook Seminary on a track on land in Portland. A gift from Zachariah Stevens (for whom Stevens Avenue is named) and Oliver Buckley, it started as a co-educational institution, but in 1925 it became an all female school and took on the name Westbrook Junior College. Confused yet? Lots of my formative years were spent lurking about this campus: trick or treating, ice hockey where these chairs are situated, football on the field hockey field, and much more. College girls were always traipsing by our house on warm spring evenings. It was never easy trying to do my 7th Grade homework for Mrs. Kibler. From 1970-1996, the appellation was shortened to Westbrook College, and to day it's title really is the Westbrook College Campus of the University of New England. No wait! Recently it has be changed again to the the Portland Campus of the University of New England. 
Whew! Those are lot of changes and words in a college title.
No wonder today they just call it UNE.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Old Glory

Happy Flag Day!
Growing up June 14th was quite a pivotal day in my academic life. School days for me always seemed to come to a close on some day in June. I always thought that if I was walking down Stevens Avenue shouting, screaming and planning my summer, that was a good thing. Heck, we've had winters lately that have pushed summer school vacations well into the mid-20s in June. In my wicked mind, it's really not a good start to a vacation, if the first day of summer (June 21)  finds kids still doing their readin' and writin'. And that's a fact, Jack!
By the way, this very, large patriotic banner flying over a local business looks a bit want for repair.
Did you know there are 6 'old glories' flying on that moon tonight?

"I pledge allegiance to the flag...".

Thursday, June 13, 2013


I've heard others say that back then it was an easier, simpler time. I really don't know though. It seems like it was. Historical records tend to lean that way. Letters from the past and early photographs seem to tell that story, but I didn't walk those streets, didn't wear those shoes, didn't breath that air. I need proof. I have to smile a bit when I hear the curmudgeons of my world go on and on... How this was better. That was better. Kids today... and on and on. Bottonline for me? My life today is pretty darn good. I ain't going back, and you're not going to be hearing those whining phrases coming from these lips.
Want to hear that stuff?
Go find an old fart.
Enjoy every minute of this mighty Thursday!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pup Tent

Summer fun.
Growing up I had a really neat pup tent. It was patterned after the tents used in WW2. Mine was green with flaps and had a constant oily smell, that I think was an attempt at making it waterproof. Leo had one too, and if we put them face to face and Mom threw a blanket over the top to cover the opening, the mosquitoes stayed clear for the most part. We could fit three in each tent on a crowded night, but it always made for more fun. We ate potato chips, assorted candies and drank Pepsis. We played poker well into the darkness, peed on the grass and after midnight walked around the neighborhood when all the lights were out. We raided old Mr. Oliver's fruit trees, and ate raw potatoes out of Mr. Bustin's garden till we got stomach cramps. Back in the tents, we played cards, told ghost stories, talked about the neighborhood girls and other forbidden subjects. Leo always seemed to crash first and others followed soon after.
These nights were always filled with lots of 'boys will be boys' stuff.
We really were, you know.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Until I moved to country, I had not even heard about fiddleheads. Boy, what I was missing! They are delicious! Harvested early in the season, they are good for you too. They are a source of antioxidants, of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. The vegetation,  which grows wild often along side roadways, gets its name by resembling the curled  ornamentation often found at the end of a violin, fiddle or other stringed instrument. Elenka prepared them the other night with a steak. That meal was mighty fine. I wonder if brother Marchin might take a gamble and try a side dish? His dietary map doesn't stray far from the beaten path. Maybe he'd roll the dice. 
How about you? 
Ever tried them? 

Monday, June 10, 2013


Well, if it's June I must find an iris to post. I do believe, at least for me, it is the perfect flower. This is one among many coloring the backyard gardens this morning. 
"Bless me father for I have sinned..." sort of.
So the truth needs to be told. Last weekend I found an almost black iris at a local nursery that we frequent. I think it's a very dark blue, but it looks black to me. I had the perfect place for it too, right along side a white one. They would have screamed, "Take our picture, please." Well, two days of heavy rain did some damage and took the large 'black blossom' off and placed it on the rocks below. There are a couple left that haven't blossomed yet, so I hold out hope. If not, it will get 'face time' next June.
What do they say "the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry"?
Do you think Steinbeck was thinking about flowers here?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Tomb Entrance

Pine Grove seems to be one of the most popular cemetery names in the country. Just here in southern Maine, there are about seven by my quick count. This is small tomb in Pine Grove Cemetery in the city. It lies at the end of College Street, adjacent to the much more expansive Evergreen Cemetery, the largest burial grounds in Portland. Most people, in the city, don't even know of its existence. There are no demarcation lines that might determine where one cemetery ends and the other takes over. How did I find this tidbit of knowledge? In my first few years of working for the City of Portland at Evergreen, I pushed a lawn mower for 8 hours a day. I pushed and pushed and pushed. While others smoked cigarettes avoided work as much as possible, I pushed. It made the hours go by, so I pushed. Some of the others mowers use to complain about my mowing while they sat, but I just kept pushing. I just didn't have time to explain to them that my parents taught me that if someone paid you to work, you better work. So I pushed. The guys didn't like it, but the foreman did. It wasn't long before I was riding around in his truck checking out all the mowers. In my early years there, I think I mowed every burial plot on those grounds, except those in Pine Grove. 
See, work pays!

Saturday, June 8, 2013


Back in '77 when we moved into the homestead, one of the first purchases I made was a lawn mower. The area was big but certainly not overwhelming. In about an hour the deed was done. Each year I expanded my mowing. Flower gardens, a small baseball field, a stone wall here and there were added to the yard and of course meant my cutting expertise was to be tested. Finally, I broke done and bought a riding mower. The wear and tear on my legs was over but the expanding of what was to be mowed increased. It became an evil plan. The faster accomplishment of my task at hand only meant what area of our property do I expand next. It became known as the 'summer project'. Just last week, Elenka joked, "so what's the project?; what's the plan?" I think she was kidding me. Right? Anyway, it looks like our lawn to mow has just about run its course. It would be something though, if I ever had to tackle the roofline of this house in disrepair. 
I better not laugh though. 
We do have 10 acres.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Yellow Dory

Near Stroudwater Village coming into the city, I came across this boat leaning against a fence. When I was in college, 'Son of Sor' (a very good friend. Don't ask) came to Maine for a visit, and I took him to the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in his life. He lived in Western New York and truly had never tipped a toe in the ocean. Having lived in close proximity to the water, I thought this rather strange. On the other hand, I've lived near the water, not on the water most of my life. I've never owned a canoe or any type of boat for that matter, and I have no problem with this. I sleep well at night too. When I'm on the water, I want to be aboard a BIG boat, preferably one with many lifeboats. 
Bon voyage!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

3 Decks

The city mouse or the country mouse. What's your choice? Remember that little tale? Urban living? Country living? Where do you fall? I grew up amid the hustle and bustle of city living. There was lots of everything:  on one hand wailing sirens, neighbors' loud talking and shouting, constant traffic to mention just a few, but on the other sat the close proximity and easy access to all that city life had to offer. I had no choice on that one. The city was where I found Mom and Dad. However, these days I'm my 'country cousin'. We've been thirsting on life among the trees since 1977. What are the overwhelming irritants that we must survive? 
Pretty much solitude, quietness, darkness and stars.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

School Daze

It really was a school daze.
Why is it that when we're in the middle of some common drudgery, the hours and days seem to just creep by, but later with a good dose of perspective on our side, they seem to have just raced by us in a blur. The culmination of my formal education in this city brought no tears to me. I was eager, like most, to enter that 'real world' and see what it held for me. In retrospect, those years were long then but short now. Schools in Maine, over the next few weeks, will be closing up shop for another school year. Another graduating class will be soon pushing themselves out these doors and taking off on their quest for the self. This is the backside of Deering High School. It is one of the large public high schools in the city. If I didn't do 'time' with the Jesuits, I would have spent four years within its walls. As it was, I took six weeks of algebra here in summer school before entering high school. Warm days? Me and Algebra? Giving up weeks of a valuable summer vacation? It did have its benefits though. It was my last taste of the fairer sex in the classroom, side by side, for four years. As I glance back, I really didn't mind those warm weeks at all. 
What's up with that?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Purple Doors

Can houses die of loneliness?
If so, this one might just might be on life support. This cape on outer Congress has been abandoned now, for just about a year. A sign on the door reads that it is in the midst of foreclosure. Structurally, it looks to be in pretty good shape, no boarded-up windows nor sagging roofline. Portland has a monthly paper called the Bollard. There's a gal who writes a column called "That's My Dump". She rides around the city and checks out abandon properties each month. Now, these buildings are pretty much local eyesores, and she does her research and finds out who owns them and interviews the owners. Her choices are really dumps! I don't think I'd put this house into that category yet. It really is a cute little place, nestled among a few towering spruces.
Dr. Birdman wonders, "Might loneliness be its distant killer." 
Can houses die of lonely hearts?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Pink Gutter

Sometimes man-made structures get a bad rap, ugly edifices stretching to the sky, lots of black-top on every corner block, seemingly endless highways running off into the hills. I guess constructions blueprinted by humans are just fated to come in a distant second when it gets a scheduled weekend series with ol' mother nature. When she does her thing, you best not compete. Just sit back and take it all in. It's out of our control anyway, and as we can see by the destruction and havoc seen in the Midwest the last week or so, often it can be anything but pretty. Sometimes though, through no fault of our own, we find a rare, simple yet beautiful confluence of man and nature.
Beware. It might be at your feet, just off the sidewalk

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Summer hasn't officially arrived yet, even though the temperature topped off at 93 yesterday around here. Many people are making their summer travel plans. Going here. Going there. I've been to Oneonta, NY but never to Chattanooga. Maybe someday. I've traveled to the West Coast a few times. Been back and forth through the Midwest on numerous trips. Got to know the New York Truway like the back of my hand. Have ventured up and down the East Coast and been all over New England, but the part of the country that I've spent little time in has been the Deep South. With the exception of Florida, I've vacationed in none of those states. I've driven through a few, but that's about it. If I ever retire, some people say I will someday, the Carolinas seem enticing. East Coast, near the water, mostly comfortable temperatures... there's a draw there. Mom and Dad never moved away from Maine but for totally different reasons. Mom never got the chance. Dad? It never, EVER entered the man's mind.
Right now?
I just don't know.
Maybe I could get a job as one of those comedians on a cruise ship...
I'm a good dreamer.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Theme Day: Beauty of Decay

Today, June 1, 2013, is Theme Day across the CityDailyPhotoBlog (cdpb) community.This month's theme is an easy one. The 'beauty of decay' is everywhere around us. I took a walk in the cemetery recently looking for the stone that had an old tintype photograph embedded on the front. I've seen it many years ago when I was working there cleaning gravestones. I know the relative area of the stone, but for the life of me the location, these days, escapes me. I'm going to keep at it though. 
I like a good challenge.
When I find it, it will be posted.