Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Window Look

Who am I, really?
Here are a few hints.
I did a lot in 2013, but here are a few things that I did not do or even attempt------

I did not go on a diet.
I did not take a 'selfie'.
I did not attempt to 'twerk'.
Did not twitter.
Did not use any #birdmans.
Did not watch one episode of "Walking Dead".
Did not go to a movie theater.
Did not buy any iTunes.
Did not wish that I was in any way related to anyone named Kardashian.
Did not get a dog.
Did not eat lamb.
Did not get a tattoo.
... and don't think I'm heading in any of these directions in '14.
Enjoy your night and kiss 2013 Goodbye!

* I did do something though. I continued to post here every day. Haven't missed a day since 12/31/08. 

Monday, December 30, 2013


I just took this photograph.
We got 5-6 inches last night. It started about 6 and was all over by midnight. It's the wet, sticky stuff that my snowblower really dislikes, especially the crap that get piled up at the end of my driveway by the town plows. All this snow has got me thinking about the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Notice, I said 'thinking' not getting excited, at all.   You might catch me watching a bit of ice hockey, maybe some downhill skiing or toboggan runs, that's going to be the extent of it. Elenka, if past Olympics can be a measuring stick, will constantly have the TV on watching the opening and closing ceremonies, figure skating or anything else that might catch her fancy. My guess is that it will also be the 'white noise' that will fill our family room while she is maneuvering around Pinterest.
Do you plan to watch some?
What might peak your interest?
Women, in tiny snow outfits, don't count.

Sunday, December 29, 2013


The Apple Blossom Special ain't running through here this morning. Choo Choo!
I like to ponder situations and environs when they are caught with different looks, feels. Apple trees coated with ice. A comfortable home caught in an ice-lock without power for nine days. That was us in '98. An upheaval on the job that tosses your day up on end at 6:50 AM. An emergency on the road where split-second decisions can sometimes have lives in the balance. Put humans and or nature, for that matter, in a cloak of difference and the results most often bring forth resilience.
Next April, life comes back in this apple grove... stronger.
It always does.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Icy Spruce

Surprisingly, even with lots sunshine yesterday, the spruces up back still are coated with ice and new fallen snow. It has been a pretty picturesque backyard these last few days. Last night I ventured into the city and took in a couple of the Red Claws Holiday Basketball Tournament games with Marchin and 'annie's mom'. Growing up, it was always a sort of a rite of passage that after all the toys, games and new skates had been tried out, it was time for basketball. In my youth, basketball was king and although football and ice hockey have made inroads in the state, I still think it is. These games are always fun to watch, because they often involved games with teams across classes. You can still see some of the best high school teams in classes A, B, C on the same floor. That doesn't happen very often. In the nightcap, a couple of the best teams in the state Falmouth and Bonny Eagle squared off for bragging rights. It was a pretty entertaining game with Falmouth jumping out to an early lead and never looking back in a 66-55 win.
If you like b-ball, it was a pretty good place to be and out of the frigid temps for a few hours.
Jump ball!

Friday, December 27, 2013


It was such a fine day. It deserves a replay.

It was a day of Bruce's many bottles of wine
Georgette's funny stories and smiles
J- winning at Chronology
Donna's red spiked heels
Bonnie's salad and clementines
Marchin's entertaining us with 'smart ass' 
Peter's wide-range of historical trivia
Yelena's French easel's appearance
Paul's humorous interruptions and questions 
Christian's calm before heading to NYC 
Joanne's wonderfully touching toast
Elenka's amazingly choreographed feast
Birdman taking it all in among great friends
We lingered into the darkness together longer then most years
Call it Christmas 2013 

'Twas a special day, amid a room adorned with a sparkling tree dressed with many memorable ornaments reminding us of our past.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


We've had a little ice-in.
Parts of the state spent Christmas frozen in without power, but we were spared that hardship. The ice came here about two days ago and has stuck around. When you get temperatures, with highs for the day in the teens, that's bound to happen. 
I survived my trip to fill the bird feeders yesterday morning, although I did get temporarily impaled by a sprig of a pine needle in my hair.
Otherwise, it was a day of family and friends. Lots of laughter, toasts, memories of Christmases past, and a delicious holiday repast. The 'crowd' seems to increase a bit each year. I say the more the merrier. Elenka, with her task of feeding the masses, is not so sure. 
J- gave me a beautiful, gold tie with squirrels artistically rendered in its design.
He knows me.
It's an inside joke.
I HATE squirrels! They actually think I trudge through the deep snow, in frigid temps, just to appease them. 
It's Christmas.
I can tolerate them for a few hours, I guess.
They are very lucky.
If I had a .22, I'd send them on vacation to 'kingdom come'.
I shouldn't say that.
Bad Birdman!
After all, it's Christmas.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

I guess I wasn't the only good boy this year.
The BIG guy at Longfellow Square got a little something from Santa too. One Christmas Eve many, many Christmases ago on Stevens Avenue, I really did hear reindeer on the roof and someone banging around in the living room when all was dark and 'not a creature was stirring'.
After many years of hearing about it second hand, we finally made the 10 PM Christmas Eve service at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke last night. It was a late evening, but one filled with incense, pageantry and carols.
Merry Christmas to all!

Of course, I still believe!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Special Eve

When I caught sight of this red stone home lost in a recent snowstorm in the city, I could think of no one but Ebenezer Scrooge and that 1843 Dickens' novel. As a matter of fact, I even looked fast to see if that door knocker was present. Over the next few days, I know I'll pick up that book and read a section or two. It's just the sentimental in me.
Enjoy this holiday season; however you celebrate.

ps. Santa, I've been a very good boy this year! 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Copper Beech

The lighting of the Portland Museum of Art's Copper Beech Tree was an event we took in on a yearly basis when J- was growing up. The tree was lit December 6th this year. The festivities began with carols sung by local school children and choral music of the Vox Nova Chamber Choir. Soon after, the large group made its way out to the Joan B. Burns Sculpture Garden, picked up lighted candles, found a place to stand under the flowing tree, and ran through some notable carols to keep warm. Finally, the time arrived, the countdown was made and suddenly the white lights flashed into service. Although these days, there are lit trees all around the city, this one still holds a spectacular distinction well into January. Late nights in December and January, it's always a bit soothing to turn out of your way, make it to High Street and take a turn by this beautifully shining tree.
Tis' the season. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Gold Ribbon

I've got questions.
Did I just wake up and now the entire ballgame has changed? Did someone pull a Rip Van Winkle on me? What's the deal with all the golden ribbon this year?  It seems to be everywhere. I must surmise that gold is the new red this year, at least in my travels. Now, if you want it amid wrapping paper, I'll give you that, but on church doors and such? Will you give me back my RED? Well, I guess it has just taken the route of colored lights on trees. Growing up on Stevens Avenue, it was all about those big, fat colored lights strung among the green boughs. These days, it's all about white lights. I see them inside houses all over, as I drive at night. White, white, white! Even our tree, white! I can live with white, though. A tree, surrounded with small lights, makes a warm, enticing and soothing scene. So, I'll give you the lights.
But the gold ribbon?
Someone's going to have to do a bit more selling to win me over. 
I wonder what Santa's take on this is?
He's a big 'red' guy.
By the way, ya I've got some time on my hands.
What's it to ya?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy Winter!

Dad used to regale us kids with stories about what blizzards he endured in the ol' days on city streets. "We did this, and we did that", he's go on and on. I didn't have the heart to tell him that our feats of danger in the snow were equally death defying. One of the most exciting tricks was hitching rides on the backs of slow moving city plows. If the snow was just right, especially with recently added icy conditions, we'd ride for blocks around the neighborhood waving to the girls. 
We cool!
We went to see the Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson last night at Portland Stage with my sister and brother-in-law. I was excited all day, really looking forward to seeing the production. The ads in magazines were glossy and eye-catching. The pictures of the 'queen' in the show was stunningly, beautiful. My review? Don't bother. Pass. Looked to be some terrible meeting of Monty Python and some lopsided fairytale told in 7 stories. Well, at least I could feast my eyes upon the beautiful queen, right. Wrong! She was drab and a very plain-Jane.
Where's Heidi when I need her?
Oh well, the party tonight, at a friend's home has to be better.
If not maybe I can catch a ride back home on the back of his pick-up. 
Just for ol' time sake.

Friday, December 20, 2013

White Veins

I've photographed this wall before but never caught it quite like this. If you hit the pavement early, you can find gems like this. I'm hoping to ease into these last few weeks of 2013 with some festivities of the season. I think I'm going to be checking out the newly renovated Top of the East at the Westin Portland Harborview this weekend, and a party or two heading towards the 25th. Christmas Day will be at our house. I like it that way. No worry about the weather.
The 'mountain comes to Muhammad', so to speak.
After the big day, a game or two at the Expo Holiday Basketball Tournament will probably be on my schedule.
A bit of work too.
Don't want to lose my touch.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Snowy Gates

Many friends ask me where I take  my photos, and when I take them. Well, I like early morning. No news there. I think most of you know that about me. Most of my photos, unless otherwise noted, are taken between my back door and the city proper. For example, today's image was taken last Sunday morning in the middle of our 14 inches of snow. I actually stopped in the middle of the road and took it. Another reason 'early' works for me is that that the streets are relatively empty and uncluttered with traffic. It's easy in, easy out. For the most part, at least one of my Nikons is attached at my hip and at the ready in my daily sojourns.
This cemetery is a special place for us. Mom and Dad rest here.
Cemeteries are notable pieces of our lives.
For me, in a strange way, they are extremely rejuvenating.
Fountains of life.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Snowy Blur

Ok, I've been accused of doing many things during my daily affirmations. I have also been addressed by many titles, most of then on the positive side of the ledger and lots with hilarious repercussions. But I'll tell ya one thing, sister. I've never, ever been called or accused of being a geek. And if I ever got to boppin' around in one of these goofy mobiles, you better hope I'm not 'carrying'. I might resort to hurting myself. Luckily, I have a fine friend well-versed in the area of computers who I can run to.
And good news, he ain't a geek either. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Snow Cover

This is one of my favorite trees around. It stands tall and proud, amid the frigid temperatures this morning. Just about everyplace in Maine is below zero this morning. As I type these letters ahead of me, it's -3 outside my kitchen windows. Brrrrrr! What was it about the frozen weeks before Christmas that made delivering 70 odd papers pleasurable? There always seemed to be a week or so of frigid stuff, but no matter. I was always on my nightly rounds. Cold weather seemed to always bring delays of the delivering the stacks of papers to our pickup stops. It was fun for a change, delivering the last stretch of papers in the dark. It was freezing outside but toasty warm in my parka The delay provided a fresh look at the lights decorating the inside of homes on my route. There was an excitement in the air in every house, and a certain buzz evident, that was missing just the week before.
The feeling was warmth all around.
So this is Christmas...

Monday, December 16, 2013

Frozen Bottles

I like my old bottles.
I like them better filled with water and delicate flowers, then with ice.
I was doing a little cleanup on the porch before the storm yesterday and caught sight of these three. I had forgotten to drain the water from them, and I almost had a small disaster on my hands. Is there such a thing as a little disaster? Anyway, I would not have been a happy man. Little mistakes like this often drive me crazy these days.
I often can handle big screw-ups more easily than the little things. 
What's up with that?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Dirty Window

Here's a quick look out a second floor dirty window at work. Dirty windows really don't bother me, especially when they don't belong to me. I'm kinda of a neat freak. Now, I know Elenka is chuckling as she reads this, but I am. The area of disagreement centers around what I'm neat about over the long run. Now, if you are looking for a gent with good personal hygiene and a wearer of neat well ironed and pressed clothes, well I'm your man.  On a quest for someone whose life and desk are perfectly organized, with every paper in place? You might want to start your search elsewhere. The jury's still out on this one. Do I get points for trying? Didn't think so.

Today should be a guilt free day.
Hide the honey-do list!
Take some images of the 8-14 inches of new snow.
Load the wood stove.
Do a little blogging.
Watch the Patriots. With all the injuries, Jack, I fear the Fish today.
Load the wood stove.
Take in a bit of vacuuming, and help pick up the house (my sister and husband are coming for the holidays).
Listen to some Christmas music.
Throw some snow around the yard with my snowblower.
Load the wood stove.
Eat turkey.
I hope this is the better part of my day.
News and photos at 11.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Red Berries

This next week or so, I plan to share how a simple man attempts to enjoy the season.

I'm up early this morning. I've got some things to do. I light the tree and go around and put the window lights on for Elenka. She likes that. Next, I'm outside to fill our birdfeeders, a storm report of perhaps 8-14 inches of snow headed our way can do this to a Mainer. I like doing this. The chickadees thank me. Back in the house, Elenka is up and we both settle, she with a cup of tea and some yogurty, concoction that she claims is 'breakfast'. I'm going with a cup of coffee with some eggnog added. While watching some eNews about Chloe Kardashian( why, why, why have we made this stupid family relevant)  filing for divorce, I hear Elenka utter these holiday wishes my way. 
"Twitter should be shot!"
Ah, now there are some seasonal words of love! 
No, I don't send tweets. (Hey, there's even a Twitter Help Center.)
No, I don't Facebook. People of the World should be so happy with this. At this point, you'll find little sympathy here for that 'mutual admiration society'. 
No, I don't instagram.
No, I don't do any sexting. Sheesh!
No, I don't Snapchat, Skype or iChat.
No, I don't do FaceTime either... bags are not allowed, I hear.
Is my life complete?
I don't even know what that is suppose to mean.
But I am happy.
I'll be enjoying this bitterly cold and snowy weekend with some pre-holiday spirit. 
Mazel tov!

ps No, I don't Pinterest or Manterest either. I knew you were thinking that.

Friday, December 13, 2013


Ever bought anything at a pawn shop? I never have. Then again, there are many things I've never done, places I've not entered and don't plan on touching in the near future. There are a couple of these shops in the city. This one's at Woodfords Corner. It gets a lot of vehicle traffic daily, but I don't know how many pull over and walk through the door. A few years ago, I read a story about how there was going to be an explosion of pawn shops given the economic times. I don't know about where you hang out, but around here it never happened. In high school there was a kid whose dad ran the only one in town. Many years later, there are now just a couple.
Quite an explosion! 
I do enjoy that 'reality show' on cable, Pawn Stars.
It's the closest I'm going to get to a pawn shop.
I find it hilarious at times.
What a family!

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Note to Self-
Pick-up m-bread, froz bl ber, p-butter, wet cat...

Piece Work is the name of the 2013 Portland Museum of Art Biennial. The show is the eighth in a series of juried exhibitions showcasing the work of new or recent work of living artists. This banner, hanging over the entranceway advertising the Biennial, shows a very small piece of the combined work of artists Adriane Herman and Brian Reeves. It's called Dually Noted, and it's composed of what looks to be some 500 or so sticky notes in all shapes, sizes and colors. The installation covers an entire wall as you enter the Great Hall area of the museum, just inside the main doors. The messages that I took the time to peruse ran the gamut from the mundane to the sublime, nothing more or less than I have covering my work area around my desk. I wish they had asked me for a contribution or two of my 'leftovers'.
I have some real doozies.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


"So much depends upon a red wheel barrow..."
I would love to have been looking over the shoulder of William Carlos Williams, in 1923, when he penned this classic. So simple. So complex. 

so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white

This former 'red' wheelbarrow of ours is a well traveled device. Mom bought it when she moved into her new house on Bancroft Street in the city. Elenka and I helped her spread loam and seed her front yard. It's not the most rugged of barrows, but it has survived. These days Elenka uses it to transport plants and such around her gardens. That wheel is wobbly, but otherwise it survives, with dents, rust and a couple of holes, in its 'retirement' home.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Don't the wrong idea. I didn't split all of this by hand. A wood splitter did most of the damage. The ax helped with all the kindling though. Call me crazy, but I like to do some splitting of wood in November. I used to get my wood in tree lengths right off the logging truck. Starting in the summer heat, I'd cut,  split, and stack it all, but those days are long gone. We do like that ol' wood stove chugging away during winter storms and cold January days though. This is our woodshed. For three seasons, it's an opened-faced lean-to that gets a lot sun, birds, garter snakes, mice, hornets and a skunk once. It's quite a menagerie. When late fall hits, all but the mice have left to warmer spots. When all the wood is stacked, I have a large brown tarp that I attach to the front, protecting all within from the nasty elements of a Maine winter. I completed that task this past weekend.
Maine winter...
Bring it on!

Monday, December 9, 2013


So, I'm parked on Valley Street, looking up. Any idea why they call it Valley? Pretty easy, huh. Basically it's the street between the Western Prom (look up) and water of the Fore River behind. As you might imagine, this time of year is the only time you can see all the way to the top from this point. Leaf cover, you know. I like the view up all along this thoroughfare, and the roadway is well named. Long ago, the city fathers made a smart choice when they pushed this road through. Valley, it certainly is. Creative too. A+ for effort! Don't get too excited about those 'great minds' quite yet though. Now, when naming the four streets going from Valley to St. John Street, they must have been caught in some alphabetical time warp, because they named them, are you ready for this: A Street, B Street C Street and D Street!
This is not a joke.
I think it's mind-boggling.
Years and years and now years later, they are still A, B, C, D.
No change.
I say, give these neighborhoods some class.
Give 'em real monikers.
Names they can be proud of.
This continues to be a real head-shaker for me.
Can ya tell?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Lineup

We got our tree yesterday. Pretty much right on schedule. We usually target the weekend after Thanksgiving to get a tree and put it up. Everyday this past week, it seemed, someone was waving a cell at me and asking if I wanted to see their tree. Based on this unscientific theory, it seems a lot of trees go up once the turkey is cleared. I asked a friend at work where they got their tree and she told me, "It's been a tradition of ours to cut our own at a Christmas tree farm." She said she's been going to the same farm in Dayton since she was a little kid, and now she still lugs her family there. If I was getting our trees at the same place I did as a kid, I'd be in jail every December. This I truly believe. You see each December my Dad would throw my brother, me and a good, sharp crosscut saw into the station wagon and head off to Cumberland. He said he had a friend out there who told him we could cut any trees on his property. I didn't believe him, based on Dad's seemingly clandestine approach he had in his eye, as we scouted out mile after mile of woods and fields. All of a sudden he'd brake, pull over onto a gravel pull-off and exclaim, "There it is!" After about 20 minutes of trudging here and there, the deed was done. The imperfect tree got attached to the roof, and we were off. I'd like to say this is how we got our tree in the wilds of Maine yesterday, but that would be an untruth. We bought our Fraser for $35, where we've bought our tree for the last 5 years or so.
We've had good luck there. Last New Years, the tree was still going strong with not a real loss of needles, and with a woodstove cranking most of the month, a drying tree can be a real issue.
So, you have good luck?
Creatures of habit always return to the well; we did.
It sits this morning in the family room loaded with decorations and memories from past Decembers.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Early Snow5

Here's a look at Longfellow Square in a thin cover of  ice on lighted trees. Covering trees from head to foot in same colored lights is the latest holiday fad, I guess. It reminds me of that saying 'nice to visit but I wouldn't want to live there'. I enjoy walking under and around them through January, but I wouldn't want to see one in my yard. White lights in the windows, a lit garland around the front door, a spotlight on the front door till New Years and a wreath with lights above the garage doors, is how we decorate the outside. That's enough! Oh, and last year, we placed some white solar lights on a little fir outside our back windows. When we're home, this puts us in the spirit of the season.
Hold on.
It's coming!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Early Snow4

Luckily, the birdies that use this birdbath flew to southern climes weeks ago. Ok, that was a lie! I tend to lie to myself a lot. You see, I have never, ever seen a bird taking a little dip in this cement basin. I'm sure they have been in it, but I've never seen any action in it. I've seen a couple of chipmunks taking a most treacherous trip around the edge, but that's about it. I always get a kick out of the PEANUTS comic strip when Woodstock would take a skating misadventure across a frozen birdbath. This photo reminds me that I've got to flip this top upside down and get it on the ground this weekend.
Gotta find a mousetrap too.
Ah, that's another story.
Oh, and I might be firing my two cats also.
Details soon.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Early Snow3

It was 4:00 AM this morning and I was vaguely up. Elenka was in the same state and turned on TCM. An old Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers' movie was flickering across the screen. I think it was "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle"(1939). 
Each year the early dusting of snow was a harbinger of another long winter in Maine. Elenka and I came from different places. I filled my winters with Old Maids with brother and sisters, attending high school basketball games at the Expo, hockey games around the kitchen table with pals, meetings of the Skeleton Club, and countless nights of sledding under the stars. Elenka growing up in Parsippany, NJ, on the other hand, filled lots of her hours dancing, with sister Judy, as Fred and Ginger. 
I guess that made her time fly by.
I hope it did.
Me? I didn't even know of this dance team until years later.
We both had fun; I guess.
Boys and girls. 
We were different.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Early Snow2

I think this is Oakdale Street. As you can see, it has been flurried upon. Delivering papers on mornings like this was a blast. You had the continuous feeling of just slip sliding away. It was early, and my footprints were the only ones in town it seemed. On days like this, my bike still served me well. It always seemed to go a bit faster and had the tint of danger, as I braked and skidded about at every corner. That added to my early morning 'adventure'. When the snow got deeper in January, an old banana basket rescued from the local A&P and attached by wires to a small sled, provided just the device to give my shoulders a break and allow me to 'run' my paper route quite quickly. Now remember, for me, getting my route done as fast as possible was paramount.
Once, I delivered all my 75 Press Heralds in about 22 minutes.
I think that record still stands.  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Early Snow1

This past Sunday---
Got some ice. Got some rain. Got some serious snow flurries. I had a little trimming, near the kitchen window, to get done, and I got that completed on Saturday. As you can see by this shot, I guess I forgot to get my equipment back into a snug place for the winter. Over the next few days I'll post some photos of what things looked like around here after the early flurries.
For anyone not familiar with me and my relationship with snow, here's a primer.
Yes, it's pretty.
Yes, snow days as a child were very fun.
These days?
Snow falling on December 24th. Yes!
Snow cover on the 25th. Yes!
That's it.
Game over.
Not that long ago, we got 36 inches in one blizzard.
Not fun.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Plow Truck

Some days I really wish I had one of these. Well, at least from December through April, I wish I had one sitting near my driveway. Then come the end of April it could magically disappear and return the next year. Ya, I know I'd get the calls during big storms, friends calling favors, but I could handle it. You see, the idea of another winter of snowblowing my driveway is beginning to get old. I could sit in the cab all toasty with the heat  going full blast, with the news blaring about how bad the storm was going to be, a cup of java at the ready, and I'd be perfectly content. As a matter of fact, I might run the plow up and down the tar 3 or 4 times just to make sure everything was clean.
This ain't a dream.
I've thought of the idea lots of times.
I'd just need a place to hide it for about 7 months.
Of course, with 10 acres or so I might be able to find a place.
Would it be worth it?
To keep an uninspected truck and plow up back in the trees, away from Elenka's eyes.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Theme Day: Looking Out

Do you think it's easy? Looking out at the world from this point of view? Laughter. Ridicule. Sarcastic side comments. Rollin' of the eyes. Fingers pointing. Heads shaking.

Today, December 1, is Theme Day across the CityDailyPhoto (citydailyphotoblog) community. Sometimes, I struggle with the theme. Sometimes, it comes right away, although boring. I attempt to search out the theme seen from a different slice of life. Sometimes, I feel I fall short of the mark. At other times I sit back and release a small grin. I always run the theme by Elenka, whether I have a photo in mind or not. I don't like boring. I like to try to get a different slant on the subject. I certainly didn't want any shot of the camera looking out a shop window, if I could help it. I had an idea at the ready for this one. Since I've been stacking and chopping wood for awhile. I was thinking a 'chopping shot' with an alarming cry of-- LOOK-ing OUT!
Then Elenka said, "Hey, just shoot you and the bag, and get it over with."
Here I am 'looking out' at the world. 
Playing a bit of hide and seek.