Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Train 682

Ever want a glimpse of behind the scenes of a piece of a country? Take a train ride through its back yards, and see all that normally is hidden from sight.
On July 30, I caught sight of Portland with babies running free in diapers, discarded, rusting snowplows, hospital windows along the water, artwork gracing storage tanks, Rigby Yard close-up, and Old Orchard Beach, with drying motley-colored beach towels, overflowing dumpsters, an ocean beckoning, piles of twisted metal, early morning breakfast seekers, and Saco, with stacks and stacks of recyclable bottles, mills remade into condos along the river, tracks of waiting graffiti-laced tank cars, large women sunbathing, ghost signs hanging on bricks, and Wells, with pleading lonesome train whistles, wet fields of early morning grass, a lot filled with discarded cardboard boxes, overweight men in plastic chairs, and Dover, with deflated plastic swimming pools, a hustling town coming to life, delivery trucks waiting to unload, a deserted park playground, and Durham, with UNH, a woman with a homemade sign: "Hi Katie and Mimi", a sleeping college town in summer, piles of junk cars rusting in sunlight, smoking workers on back decks of restaurants, and Exeter, with impatient cars at crossings, kids waving from back porches, empty parking lots, abandoned buses, a car up on jacks, lines of laundry waving in desperation, and Haverhill, with sweating men laying track, boarded factory windows, shops longing for business, an old mill rendered to pile of rubble, a smoking woman waving to a train, and Woburn, with cement bridges going every which way, a shelter lost among the bushes, long lines of train cars on waiting tracks, trucks at loading docks, backyard treehouses, another train whooshing by, and Boston with North Station, a myriad of tracks, stacks of commuter trains, running footsteps, waving arms, yelling, faces coming alive, here.

*And that was just going down.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Name Change

Here we are in front of St. Joes' School on Stevens Avenue. Ok, I apologize for providing you with erroneous information in this blog post today. If truth be told, and to be perfectly honest with you, this is St. Bridgit School. Well, technically it's theconsolidated school of Our Lady of Hope Parish. When St. Joseph Parish and St. Patrick Parish Schools were consolidated for economical purposes in 2007, St. Bridgit's was born. Name changes. Sometimes, I just don't get it. I did time here. Seven years to be exact. In sixth grade, there was an incident. The facts are really not important other than Principal Sister Mary Delores suggested to my Dad that a public education alternative might be a good choice for me. I like to believe that today, St. Joseph is looking down on this sign and shaking his head. St. Bridgit's?
I also like to think that he's wondering what was Sr. Delores thinking.
Maybe I'm reading a bit much into that expression on his countenance.  

Monday, July 29, 2013


I'm easy to please when it comes to food. I'll try anything once. I did lamb at Edna's Restaurant while working there in high school. Once. Next question. I was thinking other day, when and where did my love of seafood begin? It was probably those Friday night plates of frozen fish sticks, that Mom slid my way. My Dad loved fresh haddock, so that was another end of the week staple. I can never remember eating lobsters at our house. Ever. Probably a bit too pricey, even back then, for a family of six. I think the first time my lips tasted the delicacy was on a trip to Boothbay Harbor, at that restaurant with the big tugboat nearby, with Mom and her sister, my Aunt Mimi. Now, I do recollect where my torrid affair with fried clams began. It was the very first time I set foot in the old Village Cafe. Do I like them? Let me just say this. I probably ate at the Village over 50 times in my life, before it closed, and I never ordered anything but the clams. Ever!
Creature of habit or what? 
I'll sign off with these 'words of wisdom': find something you love in life? 
Stick with it!
You won't go wrong... well, in most cases that is.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Screen Shot

I've known Paul since sixth grade. I've always thought that the congruence of our lives on a Monday night in a Confraternity class in St. Joseph School was bubbling with irony. Saints, or anything close to that, we ain't, but we do make up two of the three 'apostles' in a pretty tight group of three life long pals. Last evening, after toasting with wine on their Scarborough, breezy deck Paul, Bonnie, Elenka and the Birdman headed to Cape Porpoise for an night of laughter and frivolity with best friends. We settled on The Ramp, the bar below the restaurant Pier 77, and it was a fine choice. Although packed tight, we lucked out and got a small back room all to ourselves. We sat on soda counter swivel seats at a small bar for four that looked out on the water and surrounding harbor. The room was filled with Boston sports trivia including two classic photos: Ted Williams first at bat as a Sox and the signing of a VERY young Bill Russell without his ever present goatee. My 'favorite sports fan', Elenka, pointed this fact of that second photo out to me. I ordered the Fried Clams, when Elenka wasn't looking, and it turned out a delicious choice!
Not sure, but I think crediting her with IDing the Celtic great, William Felton Russell, got me an entree of fried clams without rolling eyes or a complaint.
Pretty good planning, huh!

*photo shot through screened window.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


I don't know about you, but in most of my life what I've discovered behind the scenes is often as revealing as what I'm focused on. Here is a place I've never been before. It's down an alleyway off of the much traveled Exchange Street. Last weekend, Elenka and I were off looking for some outside dining options. We had heard lots of raves about a particular bar just off the beaten track a bit, so we thought we'd take a look. Yes, they had outside tables, seen here behind the wooden fence. We found a table no problem, but the sightlines were not very appealing, unless your thing is looking straight into a fence of brown. Looking up and around at all the brickwork enhanced the picture, but not enough for us to linger that warm afternoon. We moved on. I must say though, this green pathway with the building of rounded brick on the right was a piece of the city that I had never scene before.
See, teaching an old dog new tricks can work.
Bow Wow!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Back Trees

Well, this morning's steady rain has put a curveball into our plans. We were to be off to Boston aboard the Downeaster, Amtrak's train to Boston, and a day of adventure, gently meandering along the Rose Kennedy Greenway towards Faneuil Hall. It'll happen soon, just not today. Ever see a scene and say, "That would make an interesting picture?" We all have, many times. I'll then grab one of my cameras or my cell, fire away and the results come back less than spectacular. Let me set the scene on this one. This morning, amid the humid air at 6:30, I saw a wonderful image of: a rain soaked screendoor, driving grey rain and our back trees in the distance. It looked intriguing; it sounded inspiring. 
However, the results were less than satisfying!
What happened?
Well, at least I get to keep that stunning image and sound to myself.
It'll come around again.
I'll be waiting!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

School Daze

I know what you are thinking. No, this isn't a photograph of George Jetson Elementary School. This  strange sculpture near the entrance walkway might lead you that conclusion, but this is really Ocean Avenue Elementary School. I'm thinking about schools this morning, because something unbelievable happened the day before my birthday this year. On July 14th, while watching TV that evening, I witnessed what I believe was the first "Back to School" commercial of the season. July! Come on. Early August is bad enough but mid-July? School had been out for summer just 4 weeks or so, and retail stores were already out destroying a kid's summer paradise. The nerve! Does this mean that I'll be able to buy my Halloween zombie costume next week?
I guess I need to just cry,"Uncle!"

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Into everyone's life a little rain must fall, and it did into mine yesterday. I had a plan for my morning. Get out early and take some photographs of the city waking up and then meet Paulie for breakfast at one of his new 'finds'. The Speckled Axe was our destination, but he called soon into my drive to relate that parking there was going to be a huge problem, so we settled on an 'old friend', Arabica, on Middle Street. The coffee was great and that was important, because my search and mood for photos was dampened by the torrential rain. I do not exaggerate here. I like taking shots in the rain but this was just too much, even for me. So we grabbed our usual stools at the counter and proceeded to get caught up. Oh, and he passed along a couple of belated birthday treats, 2 classic CDs for my listening pleasure. "LIVE at Leeds" by The Who and "One for the Road" by my favorite band, The Kinks. 
That little bit of pouring rain didn't bother me much on the drive home. Breakfast was complete and my speakers were pounding out two of my all time favorite live CDs.
A beautiful, musical start to my day... in the midst of a summer rain.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


A little glitz, a little glamour. Throw in a fast car. Some fantastic tile work. Let's see. Am I leaving anything out? Oh ya... a princess! This vintage red Mercedes Benz would have had my father off and telling stories. While I might have been more interested in say the... ah,  tile and grout work here. Now the dress. I guess in some places, it's the latest teen-age rage. Get your dad to rent an extravagant dress and some jewelry for the night, and you get to dress up and play 'princess' and attempt to impress people. Believe it or not, I do believe I caught some fleeting glimpses of a reality show on TV that saw kids doing just this.
Thank Goodness!
I filled my teen years with stuff that drove my parents crazy, but they never were forced to dig into their pocketbooks to make me feel special... like they would do that anyway? Ha!
What a prince!

Monday, July 22, 2013


Saturday, as the night sky drifted in, I found myself walking up towards One City Center, after an enjoyable afternoon on the Grill Room's outdoor patio. Although the major heat of last week had passed, it was still a warm evening with lots of couples strolling in Tommy's Park. Sunday afternoon found us on the road to Brunswick and the Maine State Music Theater's rendition of Gypsy. The review in the local paper offered kind words, and referred to it as a can't miss summer production. We had never seen it and were truly looking forward to the afternoon. Although the storyline was intriguing and offered some dramatic twists and turns, I found the music uninteresting and left the theater for the ride home saying, "What's the big deal with Gypsy?" All the rave reviews on this one, I just don't get. Thank Goodness, Elenka suggested heading for South Freeport and the warm, outdoor dining tables at the Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster Restaurant. We sampled the clam cakes, clam roll, and the clam chowder. All delicious! So under warm skies and early evening sea breezes, it was a close to perfect way to end a less then perfect afternoon of theater.
Things are looking up!

Sunday, July 21, 2013


An enlargement really does wonders for this piece of art that hangs on the back deck. Anthony is a skilled silversmith by trade, but really the guy can do anything. He's a skilled craftsman who can tackle anything from a malfunctioning water heater in the basement of his home to the exquisite intricacies  of trophies like the Kick-Off Classic at Giant Stadium to many well-known and celebrated horse races around the country. This piece used to grace a wall of his home in Jersey, and I was some excited when he offered it to us to take North. It's one of my favorite pieces of his. Although as we speak, he's somewhere on a river cruise in France, he's always close to us, especially when I gaze to this wall.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Cat Days

I've heard of the 'dog days of August'. You know, those sultry days of stifling heat that often start in late July and cover the first few weeks in August. Well, at least around these parts that's the way it usually goes. The bumpkin of a weatherguy around here calls them 'the days of icky stickies'. I just call them uncomfortable. It hit 96 here at the homestead yesterday, and I hear Portland topped off at 95. It broke the previous high for the day of 94, set a few years back. If this keeps up, we'll have to start calling these the 'cat days of July'. No?
But answer me this, please. 
With all of the soft, cool grass nearby, why did she settle for the warm, hard stone?
Love 'em!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Heat Wave

My friendly TV meteorologist tells me that the definition of a heat wave consists of three consecutive days when the red-line mercury tops the 90 degree mark on my Fahrenheit scale. Well, I for one ain't buying what he's selling! It's been in the 90s or close to it every day this week so far, and so I'm declaring it our Summer of '13 Heat Wave. Cripes, I just heard on the TV last night that Hot Atlanta just crossed the 90 degree mark yesterday for the first time all summer. That's Atlanta, Georgia, folks. What's this all about? Why is this happening? Is global warming actually inching it's way to my town? Today is supposed to be the hottest day of our summer with temperatures touching 94. Hazy, Hot and Humid all week. This IS a heat wave! Around these parts we usually get one a summer. The natives rush to their nearest big box store and get the largest air conditioner on the planet. When that 'rush' hits the local stores, you can pretty much count on the thermometers staying firmly entrenched in the 70's for the foreseeable future.
Now, don't get me wrong. I really like the heat. I'm not complaining.
Remember, I'm the guy that heads to the heat of the Caribbean seas in summer.
I say get out there and water those plants, put a pitcher of fresh, lemon-drenched iced tea in the fridge and grab that favorite book.
And if that doesn't cool you off and you live near me, think about that late January blizzard that'll drop about 9 inches on my doorstep.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Are you buying the hype?
J's and my birthday fall within a week of each other, so we usually try to do something to commemorate these two amazing, July events. The night before last the three of us decided to beat the heat and stop by at a favorite restaurant, Fore Street, for appetizers. We all love their mussels so we ordered, not one but two orders. As always the mussels were delicious, but for us the added attraction is always the sauce they are delivered in. Now throw in the scrumptious homebaked wheat bread that comes as a side and start dunking. Add some beverages, and that was a meal! Now, can an overpriced restaurant still be your favorite place to eat in the city,  just appetizers or the whole meal deal?
As for the restaurant---overpriced? yes.
overrated? maybe.
But when it comes to their mussels in wine sauce, I'm buying the hype! 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Art Couch

Here we are deep in the bowels of Artist and Craftsman Supply on Deering Avenue. Elenka and J- were buried somewhere in here gathering needed items for a painting class, and I was left to my own devices. Bad idea! Besides art stuff this place has lots of other interesting crap like vintage kids' tinker toys, animal masks, fake moustaches for all occasions and a membership in a Tie of the Month Club (ties attached to the front of your shirt by tape) and lots of other zany items that I might just need for work. I did pick up a couple of 'couldn't pass up' items. Postcards for behind my desk: one of King Kong clutching Fay Wray at the top of the Empire State Building (Love that movie) and another of someone reading a newspaper with the huge, bold headline: The Worst Is Yet To Come! They were both keepers. I also picked up a Book Junkie button, just for good measure, and we were on our way.
Art for Art Sake.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


A delve into the archives this morning is worth a visit. This shot was taken this past May on a short trip to one of three local nurseries we like to frequent for seedlings and plants for the yard. Why three? They each seem to specialize in some aspect of gardening that works for us. This particular one really does a nice job with their hanging baskets. They are usually creatively, colorful and full bodied. We have two basket areas, one off to the side of the garage garage and one on the back deck. They also seem to quite affordable, price wise too. I really must say that our flower gardens are quite beautiful this time of year. Elenka does such a fine job keeping up with them.

Oh, that reminds me. Gotta go water the plants! We've got one of them wicked-hot stretches percolating this week. Close to 90 all week. 
"Water, water us!"

Monday, July 15, 2013

First Picture

No lie.
This is the first picture ever taken of the infamous Birdman, seen here in swaddling clothes. I'm thinking about July 18th or so. Back then, Mom said she stayed in the hospital about 3 days. I'm guessing here, but it was probably snapped in the backyard of 66 Devon Street, my home until they moved to 199 Allen Avenue September of the following year. I'm thinking that the photographer was probably Dad, although my grandmother Josie could have been a close second. They lived a couple of miles away. Lucky me. Mom kept quite an intense photographic account of my first year. The book Baby Days includes a list of baby's gifts, a graph of monthly weight gain, health records, baby teeth, food, a lock of hair, a list of 'Baby's Firsts' and pages just jammed packed with adorable shots like this. 
Interesting page of Mother's Notes:
"He likes lights, the radio, the telephone and his Daddy's car. Jabbers a lot (hahaha that's a good one. Things haven't changed much.) Wears cute sun suits."

Ya, that's me alright, but where have those years gone?
Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me, Happy...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Black Dog and Girl

This young lady was entertaining herself, while her mom and dad bought shrubs for around their house at a local nursery. 
I asked to photograph her dog, and she said, "Sure. But only take the dog's picture, not mine. Ok?"
"Of course", I replied.
 I lied.
She'll just have to live with it.
She was all excited pulling the wagon here and there. The pooch was contented too and rode happily up and down the rows of plants, shrubs and trees.
Me? Giddy! I had lied to another naive, young waif and gotten away with it.
Well, at least until her band of lawyers show up at my door today.
Kids always get even!
I know I did.

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Sunday to Sunday--- June 30- July 7. What a trip! 

Did ending our vacation and getting back on land end with a thump, someone asked yesterday? Not really. We were ready to get on with the rest of our lives. Now, you might ask, a ship with 6,000 guests must be a 'royal' pain to get off. Again, not really. As on most ships, our bags were packed and left outside our stateroom door at 11 PM the night before. We had preselected the time we wanted to get off the ship, therefore giving us plenty of time for a leisurely breakfast aboard. They assign you a waiting area till your bag number is called. Ours was the comfortable seating at Studio B, the ice skating area (yes, they have one of those too). From the time we were called, till we were sitting in the air-conditioned van and off to the hotel was no more then 30 minutes. Since our flight was not till around 6PM, we booked a hotel pool to hang out around for the afternoon. Everything went smoothly.
I say impressive! 
We're ready to book our next passage!
For us, there is a certain allure.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Rising Tide5

Every corner I turned over 7 days, I found another 'allure' on this beautiful ship. Believe it or not what you are looking at, at the top of this photo, is the bottom of a bar. It's called the Rising Tide, and it moves up and down from the bottom on the Royal Promenade up  3 decks to Central Park. Look closely and you'll see the constant fountain flow. Water shooting straight up, coming from various locations. These are but two of the neighborhoods on this huge ship. Look straight ahead through these red columns and you'll be on the Promenade, a large inside mall. Want to buy a watch, a ship souvenir, do some dancing, perhaps some karaoke, grab a pint in an English pub, book an excursion off the ship at your next port of call, get your picture taken sitting on the fender of a vintage red Mercedes. or just sit down with a free slice of pizza and do some people watching? Well, the Royal Promenade should be your destination on the Allure of the Seas, for all this and much, much more.
Travel up... come down.
About one drink's worth.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


I swear on a stack of Bibles that when I selected this deckchair, put my towel down, got my book out, and took my first sip of iced tea, there was no one in my vicinity. You've gotta believe me on this one. Sometimes my friends don't believe me, but most days life comes to me. I don't go looking for trouble or other daily highlights. They head my way. They just roll my way. As was the case this morning. The day turned quite hot, under the summer Caribbean sun so a few iced teas and other beverages were on the menu. I don't know what the secret is, but even Elenka has no problem with a pina colada before noon when she's on one of these ships. It is vacation you know! But I really must say, there are a quite a few distractions around this ship. Good grief! The last time we cruised, John Irving's Last Night in Twisted River kept me out of trouble. This time I took on In One Person. I guess you could say, for some reason, I just need to always keep one foot in Vermont or at least New England on my sojourns away. And I just really like his books!

So, I'll end today with this simple editorial comment on today's image: Is it LIVE, or is it Memorex?
What do you think?
I thought I knew.
Now, after closer examination... not so sure.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Columbus Cove3

Labadee was our first port of call on the cruise. It is a Royal Caribbean private island. There were lots of excursions on the island to take in for all kinds of added bucks, but we decided to settle in here for the day at Columbus Cove, relax in the sun with some frosty beverages. We also enjoyed a huge, delicious bar-b-que for lunch with plates loaded with burgers, dogs, ribs, potato salad, corn on the cob, watermelon and much, much more. We stayed here all day almost in the shadow of our mighty ship.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Twin Stacks2

Wishing J- a slew of Happy Birthday wishes today!

Day 2
Many have asked: how did you guys ever succumb to the cruising bug? Our answer? It came 'out of the blue' Caribbean, when J- suggested that we take a cruise on the Disney Magic back when he was in middle school. The thought of going on an adventure on the high seas wasn't even a blip on our radar screen. We did, loved it and the rest is as they say, is maritime history. Day Two, aboard the Allure of the Seas, was a Day at Sea. There was no 'port of call', so we were up early, hit the Windjammer for breakfast, gathered our stuff for the day and were off. There are so many things to do aboard, you really have to consult your Cruise Compass, delivered to your stateroom each evening to line your next day's activities. While Elenka headed out to check out parts of the ship, I headed to Deck 16, overlooking two swimming pools , with John Irving's latest book, In One Person. Without our cells (roaming is a killer while on the seas) or walkie talkies, we were pretty much left to our intuition and writing notes, as to our whereabouts. After 37 years of married bliss, we're pretty much on the same wavelength as each other, so that made keeping track easy. The day was sun-filled with a cool Caribbean breeze blowing, so it was never hot, hot. And when it did get warm, you could just head for any of the 20 odd bars scattered about the ship. Seen here are the reflecting windows of the Viking Crown Lounge overlooking a couple of the pools.
"Another frozen Mojito, please ."
So, thank you again J-, for getting us on that first cruise. As we've said many, many times, about many, many different things.... we never would have gotten here without you! Love WOW and Dad!

Monday, July 8, 2013


We're just back from a jammed packed week aboard the Allure of the Seas, the largest ship sailing the 'seven seas' at this point. It travels with over 8,000 passengers and crew, but after that first day, you'd never know it. Everybody finds their own way over the 17 decks, 5 pools, many restaurants, bars, the three floors of the Adagio diningroom and 7 distinct neighborhoods like Central Park, the Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Sports Deck, Vitality Spa, Casino Royale and the Kids Area. Amazingly, my only real complaint was that there was just too much to do, while at sea or at any of our three ports of call: Labadee, Falmouth Jamaica and Cozumel, Mexico. Over the next few days, I'll take you along and attempt to give you the feel of my last seven days.
Come on aboard.
Bon Voyage!

Sunday, July 7, 2013


New parking meters have 'hit' the city.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


I'm walking down Congress Street the other morning, and I stumble upon this shop. I know it's a thrift shop, with lots of clothes for sale, but other than that I'm adrift at sea. Now, you know I love the Moody Blues, but what does the title of this place of business Moody Lords refer too? I simple have to imagine that it must have some inkling of the something happening in the fashion world. The guy in this placard certainly looks clothes-wise like he's lost, somewhere mid-stride in the 60s-70s. Next time, I plan to venture in and do some firsthand investigating. Maybe pickup a 'new' tie or jacket for the fall.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Water Choices

Going to be 'attacking' your local beach today? Perhaps, one of these weapons might be among your choices. But beware, I think I can just barely make out the faint sounds of that "Jaws" theme playing in the distance.
See you on the sands today!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Thrill Ride

Happy Fourth of July!
Smokey's Greater Shows made an appearance near the city last weekend. It's a carnival roadshow that winds its way around the state summers in Maine. This one was set up on a large concrete parking lot, with many trailers ringing the 'fairgrounds'. At 10:30 AM there wasn't a lot of hustle and bustle that could be seen. Most of the lot area was pretty vacant with just 5-10 carneys milling about with coffees and cigarettes. They probably were scratching their heads wondering why this crazy camera nut was hanging about shooting pictures of abandon rides.
Maybe the lives of carneys and photographers are linked a bit closer than we might think.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


First of all. The answer is No. I don't spend a lot of time photographing women's legs. This particular day I just happened to be leaning against a wall, watching passer-bys heading off to work or to a favorite coffee shop. We travel past , thousands and thousands perhaps many, many more people everyday. Never, ever to see them again. They are off living their lives a million or more miles removed from our individual worlds. 
This truly amazes me.
There are a lot of people in this world.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Smoke Shop

When Elenka moved from North Sebago to the city to be closer to work, she got a small studio apartment on Deering Street. Parking, even back then, was hard to come by in this area. Her landlord told her of available monthly parking behind Joe's Smoke Shop on Congress Street. It was $10 a month, easily walkable, plowed in winter and safe.
Paid in cash! 
What a deal!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Theme Day:Facade

Today, July 1, 2013, is Theme Day across the CDPB community (citydailyphotoblog). The theme this month is "Facade", and I chose to photograph the Everett Hotel. It's situated on a side street off Congress Street. Growing up, everyone I knew lived in their own individual house. I thought it rather strange that anyone might choose to live in large apartment buildings, housing many families. I guess I got that idea from growing up in a small, suburban neighborhood. Of course, I feel anything but that these days. Home is where you find it.