Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Last Sunrise

So yesterday afternoon, Mr. Birdman announces to me that he wants me to compose something for his photoblog on New Years Eve proclaiming what I think his new year’s resolutions should be. 
“HO HO!!!” I yell, SILENTLY in my own head. “GOLDMINE!!” I can feel the wheels spinning…
“What?” I quietly say, “I don’t know if I can think up any…”   trying to hide my snarky grin.
So let’s see now…….I’ve been thinking about this for hours. 
I know he can easily come up with a list a mile long for me, but I also know that he would never do that. So having him be less sarcastic and demanding wouldn’t make the list.
He’s too nice.
I might go the route of him helping more around the house now that he’s retired and I’m not….nah, he’s pretty good in that department, too. (There is one part of that which needs tweaking…. I’ll get to that later.)
This isn’t as easy as I thought. Considering I do have to continue living with the man after I post my resolutions for him….I have to be careful.
So, here we go: (these are so lame….)
Close closet doors when you are finished.
After you so some work around the house, when you are done, turn around and LOOK at it. If it’s all screwed up looking, unscrew it. (this is the tweak….)
Learn to cook.
Now, I’m at a loss………
I guess that’s a good thing. My wheels have stopped spinning….
I suppose all I really want is for him to just keep on being himself. (since he can’t be Johnny Depp…)
This is the best I could do, Bird. Sigh.
Now you may give me my gift….you know, the one you were going to give to Heidi Klum if you ever ran into her. ;-)


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dig 2014

Can you dig the close to ending 2014?
Was it all you hoped for?
Did those things you wished for in January past come to fruition?
Did you accomplish all you set out to do?
What did you gain?
What did you lose?
Well, Portland gained one new rag and lost another.
The Portland Daily Sun, a free daily paper, bit the dust after just a few years existence. Most of the writers got gobbled up by their sister paper The Portland Phoenix, a weekly that has outlasted other of its ilk in New England. Boston and Providence come to mind. Dig Portland is the newest 'weekly baby' to hit the streets of the city in these bright red carriers. Apparently its Boston publisher feels that P-town is still ripe for a free weekly to survive and flourish. I must admit, at this point, that I do grab a copy on a pretty regular basis. It keeps me up on the nighty comings and goings about the city.
Does your city or town have these?
Do you pick them up?
Helpful to you?
Your year---
Successes? Regrets?
I'm sure we all had a few of each.
Bye-bye 2014! 
Can ya dig it?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Square Lights

One of our favorite restaurants is Boda at Longfellow Square. It's advertised as a "very Thai" Kitchen and Bar. There is a menu filled with tapas, soups, items from the grill bar thai salads and of course quite a full list of entrees. The last few times we've been there I've leaned towards the shrimp pad thai. Delicious! This time of year, if you are seated here at the window, you'll have an exciting view of the Square and its lights. Since childhood, I've never tired of a ride-by the 'old guy' sitting in his chair by the sea. This time of year the city has him decked out in a red and white scarf with gifts stacked beneath his chair.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Buon Natale

Buon Natale!
Our dinner theme this Christmas was Italian, and Elenka and a few of her elves outdid themselves. Here is our menu.
Our Italian Christmas 2014
Wine Greeting-
Mulled Wine Vin Brule
Antipasto Platter
Baked Brie with Balsamic Rosemary Cranberry Sauce
Pistachio Crusted Goat Cheese with PomegranateSeeds
Assorted Nuts
Assorted Crackers and Bread Sticks
Marinated Mozzarella Balls
Assorted Olives
Main Course
Italian Meatballs
Vegetarian Lasagne Roll-ups
Cheesy Garlic Bread
Italian Wines
Italian Sparkling Water
Assorted Italian Cookies
Italian Wedding Cookies
Black Bottom Bourbon Pecan Pie
Assorted Gelato
Bon App├ętit!

Saturday, December 27, 2014


Ever make one?
I did last week. I told Elenka I wanted to go to the PMA (Portland Museum of Art) and photograph the Christmas tree with the ornament designed by Christo. I seemed to recall that the tree was a permanent piece of the museum with various ornaments decorated by artists. I've always enjoyed his art, and still kick myself today that I didn't travel to NYC for his "Gates" installation in Central Park. And then to top it all off, it snowed and rendered some fabulous images of his orange curtains amid snow. Ouch! There I just kicked myself. A highlight for me in art was going to Merrill Auditorium about 10 years ago for a talk and slideshow by Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude featuring many of their world famous installations. Quite cool! Back to the tree that I called 'Christo's tree' simply for the fact that it had a 'wrapped' ornament by the artist along with many others who contributed. Entering the museum, I went right to the information desk and told the gal that we just wanted to check out the 'Christo tree' and then go to the museum shop. She said something that, a bit garbled, resembled "fine" and pointed us off towards the large hall. Driving into town, I seem to recall Elenka remarking that she thought that the tree was a piece of a traveling exhibit, while I was sure it was among the permanent pieces that the museum puts on display each holiday season. 
Long story short. 
Elenka was right... again. 
Chalk up another error for me.
I'm mistake prone at times.
The museum shop (back left) was nice though.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Exhibit A

I do. I do. I do BELIEVE!

And now I think I might have evidence. Living on Stevens Avenue one Christmas Eve I was positive I heard something walking on the roof of our house in the snow. So here's the theory of a ten year old. Noises on the roof? Santa below? I left my room and made it half way down the stairs too nervous to venture any further. I had been warned. If you see Santa, the magical spell would be over. So that's where I sat for about a half hour, stretching my neck around the banister hoping to catch a faint glimpse of that red suit. It didn't happen, and I went back to bed. At 7 AM the four of us kids raced down the stairs to the living room to find what Santa had dropped off for us. And there they were, stacked in different parts of the room: each our Christmas bounty. How did he do this? All in one night? Evidence. That's all I needed to prove that he really existed, and that he wasn't just magic. Well, yesterday in some dull morning light rain, I think I have gotten a few pieces of evidence. Reindeer footprints all over the backyard and beyond.
Reindeer footprints in the yard?
Santa on the roof in his sleigh?
Gifts under the tree?
Do you see how it's all coming together?
I still BELIEVE.
Do you?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Baby Bird

Baby's First Christmas...
Some gifts listed in my blue baby book.
Teddy Bear- Mom and Daddy
Shoe Bank and coins- Aunt Bea and Dool
Hand-Knit mittens and socks- Aunt Beverly
White Stockings- Aunt Leona and Uncle Ed
Sleigh and pajamas- Nana and Grampa Gallant
Hand Knit Brown & Yellow Suit- Aunt Mimi
Bicycle Toys- Grampa Norton
Porcelain Section Plate- Aunt Gloria
Lots of people gave me crisp $1 bills.
The only presents that I have a memory of are the big white sleigh that my grandfather constructed in his workshop and that Mom and Dad pushed around all the kids in and that shoe bank. I have a faint recollection of trying to 'get to the bottom' of it in my parents bedroom. No damage done; I was caught red-handed. Remember: when youngsters are left alone and everything seems way too quiet, some mischief is usually at the root of the silence. This tree was standing in my grandparents' house at 250 Main Street, Westbrook. No kid should be allowed to have the wonderful life-long memories that I had in every single room of this cape. I've often commented on that I'm not a gambling man, and I usually don't get to play the 'lucky card'. But when I ended up with Albert and Josephine as grandparents, I broke the bank!
Little did I know, lying on a comfy white blanket in Nana's favorite chair, how lucky those early years would be for me.
Lucky guy!

Last night, the Eve, has become bittersweet. I lost my Dad 16 years ago last night.

Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Our Eve

Even after suffering my sprain to the knee, I'm thoroughly entrenched in the Christmas spirit. Basically, I've been playing Christmas music since Thanksgiving. Such a sentimentalist! This tends to drive those that spend the most time with me crazy. My injury has made us slightly adjust our Eve schedule. Recently, each Christmas Eve we have  selected a different church and denomination to join in their services. We were planing to attend Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception tonight. We'll go next year. Maybe inviting Justin and Yelena over for pizza, watching "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" and reading a couple of Christmas stories will be in the cards. I also certainly plan to find and listen to a reading of  Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" on NPR, help Elenka (as best I can) get ready for our family party tomorrow, wrap some gifts and throw on some holiday CDs.
Oh yes, AND watch our snow disappear in the rain.
It's going to be 51°F tomorrow.
But Santa's coming.
Prancing on the roof and all that other stuff.
It's magical!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


I remember how weekends used to go. I'm looking at the guy in the rear table on the left. He looks to be in his early thirties with a stack of papers, a coffee and a red pen. That used to be me on weekends. My routine was to hold off until Sunday though. I didn't care much for correcting essays and tests 'on the road'. In a comfortable chair in the family room or upstairs in my office were my favorite work spaces at home. A coffee, a couple of correcting pens and some soft classical music playing were my friends. If I was tucked away upstairs for a couple of hours, I often would sneak a bowl or two of Captain Black pipe tobacco. These days that certainly would be a no-no here at this  hilltop coffee shop. For that matter, my pipe has been displaced for good anyway. 
I do miss the 'captain'.
I blame it all on my grandfather, Albert.
The swirling puffs of his aromatic Prince Albert had me under a spell.
Occasionally a student would complain about a small coffee stain on a paper.
But no one ever came forth and declared, "Mr. N-, smell my paper. What is it?"
I miss my pipe, not the stack of papers though.

Monday, December 22, 2014


They are everywhere. 
Got one?
Maine: The Way Life Should Be. If you are new to our state, you'll see this sign as you enter the state at its southern border in Kittery.
Portland, Maine: Yes. Life's Good Here. Our city has recently adopted one. Some like it. Some think it's silly.
Reny's: A Maine Adventure. Although there are only 16, Reny's Department stores seem to be all over the state. Since being born in Damariscotta in 1949, this place remains a part of only a few family owned and operated chains in the state. Looking for a last minute gift for Christmas, stocking stuffers for the kids or as they say just about 'anything', You'll probably leave satisfied if you are checking out in this store.
Slogans are funny things. A great deal of research, design and big bucks enter the equation when companies, states and other jurisdictions attempt set themselves apart from the pack with a catchy and unique slogan. I always got a kick out of the Dallas Cowboys billing themselves in the 80's as 'America's Team'. As if...
Seen a good one recently?
Birdman: Your Favorite Rubric's Cube.
See? Silly, maybe stupid. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

In Out

Coming in and going out.
These are the outer doors at the Portland Museum of Art looking out at some of the holiday lights at Congress Square. These doors were easy to negotiate compared to what I'm trying to do today. Yesterday, while walking doing a few errands, I began to feel some sensitivity in my left knee. That evening I had to apply ice to the outer edge of my knee. By 10 PM, I was in some serious throbbing pain. I couldn't straighten my knee out. I sat up all night and entertained myself with the tube. I think I probably slept a few 15 minutes intervals. That's about it. In and now out.
Elenka drove me into QuickCare at Maine Medical at 9 this morning. We just got home. I've been diagnosed  with Patellofemoral Arthralgia of the left kneen. 
That's a mouthful. 
Let me simplify.
I have a swelling of the knee!
I could have never opened this door today.
No balance.
Now the good news.
I'm on some pretty hefty painkillers.
I hope to feel nothing soon.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Stage Door

This is NOT a Christmas story.
I wouldn't want these heavy doors to slam on my fingers or hand for that matter. Once, when I was in kindergarten, I had a car door slammed on my finger. It wasn't a pretty sight. I hid my hand in the pocket of my shorts until the blood soaked through and my teacher caught sight of it. It was a bloody mess. I got the rest of the afternoon off. If a door of this weight and girth enclosed my finger, it wouldn't be blood I would be worried about. I'd be asking, where's my finger?
Will you get it for me?
I know it's around here someplace.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday Carol

"You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There's more gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!" Charles Dickens

We attended a performance of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" at Portland Stage Company last evening. We've gone to this holiday show many, many times over the years. It is indeed a performance that for me never grows old. Each year, with a new cast, they make subtle changes that add so much. Last night was no exception. If you leave the theater and head out into the cold, dark night after this 'story' and you're not in a holiday mood, check your pulse!

"No space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunity misused."
C. Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Art Easels

Muse Paintbar has come to our city. Let me get this straight. They supply the paint, canvas, apron, some expertise and art to be painted. You check out their calendar and locate the picture you want to paint, show up 30 minutes before the session, and you are off chasing Piccaso. Oh yes, you do supply the cash anywheres from $35-$55 dollars. There is a kitchen and a bar that supplies wine and beer at a cost. You can also reserve the entire room for a large painting party for you and your friends. I looked in the windows at their site on Commercial Street. There were about 20-25 canvases set up paintbrush ready. I can see where this might be a pull to some, but not me. The painting would be difficult enough. Good grief! Alcohol would not be an enticement either. I can just image what my canvas might look like at the end of the two hour session.
Have you seen one of these in your city or town?
Would you take a chance?
There is a pull.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Barn Sky

I took this about a month back when fall was still hanging on for dear life around here, and there was a blanket of early morning fog about. I've photographed this barn a number of times, but never posted anything. It gets my attention every time I travel past it. Anyone else have this affliction? You know a barn, house, building or storefront that intrigues you, but you have no idea why. There are horses here. Quite often there are multiple horse trailers parked in the driveway. We have a harness racing facility, Scarborough Downs, nearby. Perhaps that is what the horses here do for a living. All I know is often, in January and February, on my drive bys the horses here enjoy galavanting about in the snow.
I've pulled over to watch them.
I enjoy it too.
What's that all about?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Trailer Art

I like to dream.
Perhaps I'll take up painting again. Even though the first time I attempted it you couldn't call it, in any shape or form, 'taking it up'. I spent a day or two with it. They might get to calling me 'Grandma Birdman' for my primitive work. Hey, I might finally buy that Harley and take off into the sunset for Alaska, a la "Easy Birdman". How about buying a big sailboat and setting off down the inter-coastal highway? I'd probably get stranded on some remote island and do my best 'Robinson Birdman' bit. I might make Daniel Defoe roll over six feet under. I like to walk. Maybe I might try the Camino de Santiago and walk my 'Way' across Spain. They might get to calling me the 'Walking Bird'. Maybe one of those Ironman Triathlons might just quell my dreaming fire. 'Iron Birdman' has a nice ring to it. After all, I had a bike and liked to swim growing up.
All that contemplating this morning has me pretty tired.
I better turn off the alarm and go back to sleep.
'Dreaming Birdman'.
That has a nice ring to it.
Ah... to dream.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Santa Parade

I've got a secret.
Enjoy. I haven't got many. Over the last couple of years I've been collecting little Santas. It started on a whim, and now I tell Elenka that I can't stop. I can, but it bugs her a bit when I say that. It all started two years ago when I spied a couple of 50's era Santas sitting on a shelf at the Gorham Goodwill store. I stopped to look for ties but got sidetracked. They seemed lonely. Last December I added a few and two weeks ago a few more. Like us all, I have selective memory. I can remember the strangest stuff, long past, but sometimes struggle with my plans for the day. This said, so far I have not returned to the house with a duplicate Mr. Claus. Lucky, I guess. Elenka says my collecting days are over, because this small mirrored mantle is full.
She might again be correct.
However, I wouldn't venture to Vegas with your life savings.
... if I were you.
Ho, Ho, Ho!

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Do you straggle?
I try not to.
However, sometimes I sin.
There are stragglers in this world.
Similar to these few remaining leaves, reminders of a summer past, they cling hoping against hope that they might hold on. I really don't like to drag myself in 'after the dance has started'. I'm an early bird when it comes to most aspect of my life, up early, at my desk with coffee before the masses, at meetings on time. However, when I'm in the partying mood, I'm a strong advocate of arriving a bit on the side of being 'fashionable late'. When I have a get-to-gether, I do not want to meet and greet all 15 of the revelers at once, especially if there has been some distance since our last meeting. I'm not talking laziness here. That's an entirely different animal. Always getting a late start and dragging yourself in or around your world, not a good attribute. 
So if I arrive late, don't roll your eyes.
It won't happen again.
Have you noticed?
It's never the same leaves.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Winter Games

Our 'winter games' have started.
And no, not the Olympics.
I don't really care that my calendar is saying it's the 13th of December and not the 21st. I don't care if the winter solstice is still more than a week away. Sunrise to sunset, it bothers me not a bit that today still is not the shortest day of the year. As far as I'm concerned, it's winter! The snow blanket sticking to all the evergreens in a winterland delight, the temperatures pretty solidly encased in the 30's or below each morning and snowplows awakening me at 3 AM as they run the hill by the house are all determiners in my book of the season change. I say; it's winter. Deal with it. Oh, and my birdfeeders need refilling sooner. When my feeders are active areas it's cold or a storm is on the horizon. 
Bank on it.
Brisk chickadee action breeds winter.
I've got to load my feeders again this morning.
Enjoy the season change.
There's no avoiding it.
Play by the rules. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Going Down

Going down?
And we were, as we began our decent back to the first floor in the Victorian Mansion last week. There was a time I would have loved to just hop on these slippery, wooden balustrades and take the quick trip down instead of taking the lazy man's way. Our house on Coyle Street had a quite wide expanse of a front stairway. Nothing as elaborate as this though. It did have a large window seat, that in the winter when the trees were devoid of leaves, allowed you to lookout over Back Bay. I never tried to 'ride the banister' there, however the railing on Stevens Avenue wasn't so lucky. There were lots of trips down to our music room 'on wood' in that house. We lived there from the time I started third grade until I was a sophomore in high school, and in those early years my weight, age and the sturdy rails were a lethal combination. 
Of course, if Mom caught me I was in trouble.
But I picked my spots.
I wasn't crazy.
Going down?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ice Cover

Welcome to my world!
This is a bush just off the back step. It'll give you a pretty good idea of what we have been up against the last few days. No, it in no way comes close to reaching the pinnacle of ice cover we had in Maine back in 1996, but it has made moving about pretty treacherous. Now, with a solid day of heavy rain at times, getting from the back step to the safety of the dry garage floor has become quite a task. There's something about adding a 1/4 inch of water atop the ice that puts all bets off. Somedays, it almost makes you long for a six inch snowfall. 
Ah, but as they say, 'be careful what you wish for'.
A broken leg, hip or wrist, just before the holiday or anytime, wouldn't be a pretty picture.
That would be the wrong kind of ice breaker.
Tread carefully.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Reception Room

The spirit of Christmas is among us.
On Saturday Elenka and I took a little trip to "100 Years Past". We visited the Victorian Mansion on Danforth Street in all its holiday grandeur. The stately home, decked out for the holiday season, was completed in 1860 as the summer home of Mr. Ruggles Morse and his family. He made his fortune in hotels in Boston, New Orleans and New York. He died in 1893 and the home and its contents were sold to local merchant Joseph Ralph Libby. His family lived here for over 30 years without making any major changes to the house and its contents. The home was rescued from demolition in 1941 by William H. Holmes, who opened it as the Victorian Mansion, in a tribute to British Queen Victoria. What we are looking at here is the Reception Room, which is the first room you enter to the right of the main staircase. Most days I'm really not into white Christmas trees but this one was quite beautiful. Every decoration loaded on this tree seemed to give the impression of some sort of  snow-covered dream. All of the rooms on the first and second floors are open, overly decorated for Christmas and instill the holiday spirit of the times.
It was a inspiring trip back 100 years.
Sort of dream-like.
"Mr. and Mrs. Birdman here to see Mr. Ruggles Morse and his wife Olive, please."

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


It doesn't look like much on an early Sunday morning, but the wharves in this port city provide few parking spots and lots of activity on a working day. While in high school, the 'fish factory' a local fish processing plant, provided working opportunities for guys and gals. I was too young to work at the time, but Leo took a chance. Pretty good money, but with a couple of downsides. The aroma was strong and followed you for days. Similar to a couple of older guys living in the six-links apartments nearby. They were painters by day and had a terrifically hard time eliminating the smell of paint and turpentine from their skin and clothes. 
The second drawback to working at the fish factory?
Every feline in the neighborhood followed you for days.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Ice Walk

We took a stroll on Danforth Street on Saturday afternoon. After a plate of Irish nachos and something to wash it down at Bull Feeney's, we headed to the Victoria Mansion to view the rooms decked out in all their holiday splendor. As I recall, the last time I was there was as a high school junior on a field trip. When we exited close to 4:30 PM, this slushy sidewalk had began its turn to a treacherous, frozen walkway. Since this image was taken, we've seen a bright sun but with temperatures encased in the 20's not much melting. When walking on this stuff, you need your wits about you or the results might be quite  unpleasant.
Pretty scenes can lead to danger.
Slip-sliding away.
Call 911!  

Sunday, December 7, 2014


WHAT was he thinking?
For that matter, WHAT was he doing?

Ever question why someone would do or say something and wish you could get inside their brain for about 30 seconds? You know, get 'interior'. Case in point. Did anyone else struggle through the NBC adaptation of the Peter Pan LIVE the other night? I did. I wish I hadn't. That's 3 hours of my life I'll never get back! I usually love Christopher Walken, but... What the heck was he doing for his 180 minutes? Did he forget his lines? He was constantly looking for the teleprompter. A couple of times, closeups showed him with mouth open, moving but no words coming forth. Some very odd stares. He seemed to miss his marks. He can't sing. He surely can't dance. He put so little into his performance, and I use that term so very loosely here. I mean, Cyril Ritchard (the original Captain Hook) must have been flip-floppin in his grave. Why? How could he do this? Sad to say, he looked to be under the influence of something. Some catatonic state?

The character of Hook should be hilarious as he vamps his way back and forth across the stage. His make-up was atrocious! Was he doing 'whiteface'? His entire performance should have been title "Dazed and Confused". If I was writing the review for the show, the headline might would read, "Sadly, This Peter Pan Doesn't Fly!"
More fairy dust, please!
*If that doesn't work, cast Birdman as Hook. 
He could do it!
... or at least take a chance with say, a Nicholson or a Shatner?
Hold on.
I think Mr. Walken just rang my cell.

Check out Ritchard doing "The Captain Hook Waltz".

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Up Stairway

Up the stairs.
Down the stairs.
I do believe there used to be a restaurant at the top of these stairs back a bunch of years. These days there are a few shops up there. One looks to be a photography gallery. Photos lining the stairs? This is an interesting advertising ploy, if you ask me. Well, you really can't blame them. If you pay rent for one of these high-priced shops, you need to make some big money over these five weeks between turkey and Santa. The adage 'any port in a storm' almost works here, especially if your store is not the walk-in variety, right off the street. Having to journey up these steps would offer that extra challenge to sell your wares.
Luckily, I don't have the pressure to make rent in a downtown shop this time of year.
I can just walk and take-in what I want.
I did not venture up these stairs.
Case in point.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Nature's Tinsel

Tinsel's birth was in Nuremburg, Germany in 1610. That's where all my trouble started. You see, I really like tinsel. I used to love it, but now realize I am resigned to liking. You see, little of this silver makes its way to our tree. Long story... I still can conjure up vivid, painted memories of lying on my back in the Stevens Avenue living room under the Christmas tree trying to make my way visually to the angel riding on the top. It was quite a task. It was a dream world. I imagined myself lost in the blizzard of colored lights, sparkling decorations and of course the silver strips of tinsel. These strands of sparkle would enhance every inch of our tree, and I really thought brought the tree to life. It was always a sad that day, in the week after Christmas, when Mom deemed the holiday structure a safety hazard, and we had to take it down. All the big colorful ornaments we stored away in their boxes, long strings of synthetic garland were folded up and the fun part for me all the silver tinsel was saved for another year. I made it my job to circle the tree repeatedly gathering the shinny silver over my hand. It came off last and signaled for me the official end to the holiday. The dragging the tree out of the house into the backyard was nothing compared to removing the strands.
Tinsel, though, always brought back smiles.
Especially in March or April...
When I'd see our cat streak by me running down the hall, trailing tinsel out of his butt.
Now that's a lasting holiday image!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Burger Joint

I can commit sin.
Does the fact that cattle is classified as 'grass-fed beef' make a difference when I'm face to face with a double-decker cheese burger with a couple of slices of bacon, onions, lettuce, tomato with relish or mayo topping it off. What? Do you think I'm crazy? The temptation is too severe. I'll visit my local confessional, do my penance and deal with the guilt. This is a slice of one of our Elevation Burger establishments around the city. This one, with its rounded front, sits on Commercial Street. We visited it last winter, when it was the Farmer's Table, a full service restaurant not just a burger joint. Our meals were fine. I guess it just wasn't getting the traffic in the door needed to survive. As for this place, I've never sat down to sample its fare. I've never eaten at Red Robin either. We have one of these in the Mall area. I'm intrigued to sample one of their 'gourmet burgers' though. Their online menu looks delicious! Now, unlike these two places, I have eaten a couple of times at Five Guys. I've stopped on the run for cheese burgers. They were greasy, and the burgers slid off the roll repeatedly, but they were scrumptious! I'm cautioned often, by a close and personal friend, about how meals like this are not good for me, and my comeback is always the same. It's not like I'm sitting down across from one of these everyday. Fried food(see clams), anything that even resembles fettuccine alfredo and these greasy burgers, when I'm EVEN just glancing at these on a menu, elicit the same response from my 'food cop'. 
"Are you kidding me?"
Thanks to her, what goes into my body is good for me.
My diet is extremely nutritious.
That's a very good thing.
But can't I just sin a bit?
I didn't think so.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Maya Katherine

Welcome to the world little girl!
Let me introduce you to my new grand niece.
Maya Katherine
Born: Friday November 28, 2014
 @ 2:44 PM
6lbs. 15 1/2 oz. 20 inches.
Sleep tight little one. This world can be a crazy place some days. You'll need your rest. Can't wait to meet you.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Fish Heads

There used to be a pretty good seafood restaurant off of Commercial Street called The Holy Mackerel. It's gone now. Financial issues, I hear, took it under. I'm sure, if it was still in operation, gulls like this would be hanging around it all day too. You see seagulls have never met a french fry, a sandwich of any persuasion, seafood or not, roadkill or any example of edible trash that they didn't like and 'take care of'. They are pretty much scavengers and for the most part steer clear of people. That's good thing, because I wouldn't want to come between a gull and lunch. They can be pretty aggressive. These fish heads strew along Custom House Wharf would attest to that and be my Exhibit A.
I sat and watched them for a spell the other morning.
It was kind of disgusting, really. (I wouldn't enlarge this, if I were you).
Pick, pick, pick.
It was too early for lunch for me.
Good thing too.
There is no way I'd get a lobster roll down after watching this episode.
Life on the wharves... every gull for himself.
The heads have it!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Theme Day: Worker

Today is December 1, 2014 Theme Day across the world-wide CDP (citydailyphotoblog) community. This month's theme is of the worker population. Easy one. Find someone who's working and click away. Here's Mark making his stand. Could be his last stand. I don't really know or pardon me for saying this really, care. Unlike a lot of photo bloggers, unless I know them, they go nameless, anonymous. This guy has a hot dog stand at Tommy's Park in the Old Port. The stand has competition, lots of pushcarts and food trucks in the summer, of course, but even in winter there are always a couple of wagons in the area. Heck, this guy must have a real following. He sells t-shirt, for crying out loud. That's not an expression I use a lot, but it fits here.
Nope, never have sampled his goods.
Don't plan on doing it soon either.
Elenka has taught me a lot about what I put into my body.
Greasy dogs and burgers with cheese, onions and sauerkraut.
Tsk, tsk, tsk...
He's got a fine Christian forename though.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Bait Shack

Strange bedfellows.
I like them. I enjoy reading about and researching when strange combinations, sometimes through no fault of their own, are thrust together, side by side. For example, some might shy away from buying a luxurious condominium on Chandler's Wharf off of Commercial Street, because this neat bait shop finds a home right next to you. I've seen actual photographs of the units. They are quite beautiful, and what views! If you might enjoy a life, sometimes complicated by sea smells, feral cats, the constant squawking of gulls, wharf traffic and (from what I hear) other wharf 'critters', you can call this brick condo just to the left your home. 
What do they say, "Nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want..."
When, or if, it's a condo life for me, it'll be on land.
Solid, solid land.
I ain't no pirate! 
"Drink up me hearties, yo ho! Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me!"(from one of my favorite rides at Disney World: Pirates of the Caribbean)

Saturday, November 29, 2014


The Portland Company has quite a history. It was founded in 1846 as a foundry for building locomotives and other railroad equipment. It built 626 locomotives and 160 ships including Iron Clads in its early years. Today the nine acre site houses mostly marine-related businesses on a prime piece of real estate just below the Eastern Prom on Fore Street. It looks to be pretty dead in this shot, but there's a lot of activity in and around its many buildings. Much of the traffic in the area between now and December 25th will be for tickets to Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad's "Polar Express" ride along the waterfront. The Chris Van Alsburg picture book is one of my favorite holiday stories. Now Portland Yacht Services is one of the linchpins of the complex, although there is no holiday story attached to PYS that I know of at this time.
Perhaps I could pen, "The Little Yacht That Couldn't Find Christmas".
Any other suggested titles? 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Tree Farm

Heading into the city, I pass this small tree farm many times in many different weather conditions. I must say this snowy scene tops the book. I drove by it at first the afternoon of our storm and then circled back. I do believe it was worth the return trip. What do you think? My plans for today do not include any 'Black Friday' shopping, shoveling or cutting down of any Christmas tree. The tree will come soon enough. Doing little today. Resting up from yesterday. I'm pretty good at that. I've perfected the art. Really, just awaiting word on the birth of our grand niece in New Jersey. Daniella got an epidermal at 2 AM. 
Our thoughts are with you, Daniella.
A new little tree taking root soon.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Land Ho!

The Pilgrims have landed!
Until yesterday I did not know that the Mayflower really landed on the shores of Casco Bay. Here's proof positive that it really happened. I've been listening to a lot of 'talk' recently in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Everybody trying to share the 'real' story of the event and its repercussions. It seemed like all the tales had their own take on when, why and how it happened. All I really wanted was a plateful of truth, but everywhere I searched I seemed to be subject to overlapping facts and the real differences as to the first 'real' Thanksgiving and the coming ashore of the Pilgrims. All with similarities. All with some differences. So, if you're are waiting for my story on when, why and how, you'll have to suffice with this. The Mayflower landed in Portland near Fore Street yesterday.
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
If you're are celebrating with turkey today, enjoy.
Family, friends, the bird, football... and about 12 inches of snow here.
Gotta love it.
Happy Thanksgiving!  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


I was ankle-deep in yellow leaves the other day when I took this photograph in the Old Port. I seem to always find interesting sights 'behind the scenes'. These barrels are lined up at the rear of a local restaurant and are just inundated with fallen leaves. Autumn's final goodbye. This sight will be gone forever later today. Starting around noon and running into tonight, we are expecting 9-12 inches of snow. I don't know if they plan to move these soon. If not, this might make for an interesting image come February. Maybe just the tops will be peeking out then. I might return. Of course, by then I'll be more than ankle-deep in the results of winter's fury. Until then, if you're in the upper Northeast today, bundle up and bear it.
We're a hardy bunch up here.
Bring it on!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Math Time

Outside, it's a math problem.
There are rectangles, circles, triangles and an infinity sign gracing the outside of In'finiti Fermentation & Distillation on Commercial Street. Inside, it's anything but. You'll find a restaurant, a bar, a distillery and a brewery. Just before you step through the doors, you see a stack of wooden barrels each showing its name and logo. That's the only hint that seems to reveal the contents of this building. To me, it's always given me the look of a factory not a restaurant. I was really surprised when I found out it was a restaurant and brewery. I have a good friend who teaches math to middle school kids. She'd be really excited with all the math 'angles' seen on the exterior of the building. She's a great educator. Each time I entered her room, I attempted to solve the math problem that was being discussed. Most times my answers ended with the room in laughter. However, I reminded her students and mine that Freshman year I ended first quarter with a 105 average in Algebra. So I knew what I was talking about. She'd just smile and move on with the lesson.
Math is everywhere.
In school and sometimes when you're out on the town.
Remember: always check your work.
Miss you, Alexis.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Water Taxi

Here in the foreground is one of the small water taxis that service the the islands of Casco Bay. I've never taken it or any other for that matter on the water. Let me think back a moment. I've probably only taken a street taxi about 10 times in my entire life, and most of those were during my collegiate years when the Greyhound, due to bad weather, got in well after midnight. It was about the only way you were going to negotiate East Avenue at that time in the morning. The bus station was located in a pretty shady part of the city too. I must say traveling that stretch along the New York Thruway in the winter months, late arrivals seemed to happen a lot. Now, on the water, if I'm heading for an island excursion or just a day trip cruise, I'll hop a ride on one of the Casco Bay Line ferries, that are lined up here in the background and at the ready. Riding them with the 'island crowd' is always a treat too. They always seem to lugging such an interesting conglomerate of stuff in their bags. Life on these islands is different than spending your days on the mainland. That's for sure.

*Note: just hate to watch that meter movin' so fast. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Stand Alone

Amid the cursed, brown, dying bamboo this birch tree takes its stand in the fog. Have you ever stood alone? Could you? I can't really say I have. I think it would be extremely difficult for me. I've taken lots of sides in my life but can't ever recall being on an island alone. I like company. I've always been a team player, and I think I've been pretty good at it. I like results too. When I do anything, I want results. Call me a pragmatist. I can live with that. I know the value of the numbers game. I've always been one who likes to play the numbers. I'm not talking gambling here. That's not a game I play, ever. I sure would love to win the lottery though. That Jaguar would look so wonderful parked in my driveway. 
Being the only one with a winning Megabucks ticket?
I could do that.
But as they say, "Gotta be in it to WIN it."
Maybe I need to rethink this 'standing alone' deal.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Bit o' Blue

Some days you just have to look to the heavens. Last week we had one  of those exciting cloud days with pretty much cloud cover all day. It was hard to see them moving, but they were. At one point, when I was up back, the sky broke to display this patch of blue. It didn't last very long, but you got an idea at how fast those clouds were motoring. Things were moving fast like the approaching holidays. I'm just happy 'lake effect snow' doesn't move fast or travel long distances. Elenka's cousin Irene and her family live in Hamburg, New York, the epi-center of all that snow last week. Most reports coming from the area were saying they got close to 80 inches. Yikes! Before Thanksgiving? That's scary. We live near the deepest lake in Maine, Sebago, but you seldom hear the about snow building off the lake. Let's see five days until 'turkey time' and I still have a few outdoor items to take care of this weekend: birdhouses taken in, some leaves to be mowed about, a couple of loads of wood to be moved to the garage, kindling to be chopped and stacked in the woodshed out back and the porch roof to be secured.
These will keep me honest till turkey.
Hopefully the snow will hold off until March.
Ya, I'm dreaming.
I do that a lot these days.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Walled In

Stone walls are pretty much New England. They are a way of life up here. They are relentless. Around here, if you look long and hard you'll see them everywhere. I've had friends from 'away' on their first visit to the area remark, "Who built all these walls?" This one is on our property nestled in the woods, and to be perfectly honest I had never really checked out this corner and the wall until a couple of weeks ago. Elenka pointed it out to me, and I ventured over. I do believe Robert Frost has captured the essence of the 'lives of walls' in his poem "Mending Wall". I can't help thinking of his words as I stroll along the rocks, or attempt to cross over one...
In these parts, farmers went for the stones, they found while clearing their land, long before they they looked to wood for fences to mark property lines.
"Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast..."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Coffee Pot

Giddy up!
Some days I just want to load up a pack horse and hit the trail. I'm just dreaming of course, but in another life... Do you believe that we've been here before in another life? That we come back? I like to dwell on that feeling that I've been down this road before, but I can't seem to dig up a lot of evidence. As for 'coming back', I'm a bit more pessimistic. If in the big picture of things this really is some sort of merry-go-round we're on, I hope I'm given a choice whether I'll be in for a return engagement. There are some worlds I want no part of in an Act II. Being a card carrying agnostic, puts me in a tough place from time to time, but I'm living with it.
No, I don't want to return as a coyote.
No, I have no interest in being a waterfall.
A cowboy on a distant planet?
Ok, this has got to cease right now!
Then again, maybe a month on a dude ranch would get it out of my system.
What do you think?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Book Talk

Well, when you get right down to it, it'll be more of a book comment than a talk. For the most part, my reading interest seems to always fall into the fiction realm. Something must be up though, because my last few selections are falling into the non-fiction category. If you read and liked the book The Endurance, the story of Shackleton's incredible voyage, you'll LOVE In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides. It's the amazing tale of journey of the USS Jeannette and her crew. On many occasions while turning the pages, I kept saying to myself, "This can't be happening". But it was and it did. Pick it up. What a story! If you have family who are members of the 'Greatest Generation' and who played a role in the the Good War, you'll want to read Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken, the courageous story of heroism that is the life of Lou Zamperini. If you enjoy stories where a theme of 'against all odds' runs across each page, you'll want to put this book on your Christmas list. On more than one occasion, I couldn't stop thinking of what my Uncle Leonard and his plight aboard his B-17 must have gone through during his agonizing end. In some chapters, I had to put my finger between the pages, close the book and just stare off to blue sky. His was a life that might have been. The imagination is a pretty potent tool.
So, any recommendations for my bookstand?
It's a long winter up here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Four Step

Here we have a few steps up to a family plot near the ponds at Evergreen Cemetery. The sun shines brightly this morning, but the temperature will stay solidly in the mid-30's all day. With the leaves down and pretty dry, it seems like we're heading into that waiting period, just waiting for the death-covering of snow. We've had snow in October before. Last year, I think it was, the 'little marauders' of Halloween had to dodge snowflakes, and November dawned with a solid layer of snow. Luckily, like most early storms, the snow usually doesn't stick around all that long. Most Thanksgiving, around these parts, find the ground frozen but free of whiteness. Although I do remember one Portland vs Deering Thanksgiving Football Game, where the teams played in a driving snowstorm on a six inch carpet of snow. During the game, they had adults shoveling the yard markers from one side of the field to the other.
I don't expect to be snowblowing before eating turkey in a week, but you never know.
I do know this.
Weather-wise in this state come early winter...
Life's crapshoot.
Roll your dice.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Last Rites

Mother Nature works fast!
Last week on a trip to the garden, I noticed that the lilac bush at the corner was still full of leaves, some yellow, some still green. Today, about 3 days later, just about all of the leaves have fallen. I count 10 still hanging on for dear life. I thought the still colored leaves lying on the snow were a good contrast to most of them at the foot of the small tree.
That's all I've got today.
Weather? There's another icy, snow mix a fallen all around me now.
Some days I long for a cocoon.
This is about it with regards to fall colors around our place.
The last rites have been performed.
Rest in peace, autumn.
Yes please, a moment of silence.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Bus Stop

Well, you certainly could say that this bus has seen better days. Over the last 15 years or so this bus has been parked on the front lawn of this old farm house near the river. I noticed the other day that now the house had joined this motorhome in the world of the 'abandoned'. This vehicle must be home these days to plenty of varmints, the likes of which I don't even want to imagine. I'm sure in its time it provided lots of enjoyment on family trips, but these days the wheels on this bus aren't 'going round and round'. Its rollin' days have come to a close. Even the Dead, with all their equipment, wouldn't take a chance on this baby.
This 'road yacht' as been docked!
Kinda sad, really.

*Hey, if you put your ear to the side, just above that rear tire, I think you can hear The Hollies' "Bus Stop"(1966).

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Deck Fright

"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown." King Henry IV

When the sun crept across the deck yesterday morning, this is what revealed itself to me. Not quite a month into his reign and he's already beginning to droop a bit. This morning his crown of white is all but gone. Even for Shakespeare, this feller's 'reign of terror' was a swift one. All in all, he ruled about 10 hours. In the play, King Henry, with this quote, is complaining about not being able to get a decent night's sleep. The vilest of the vile and those working mundane, boring jobs are drifting off to never never land he complains, but not the supreme ruler of the land? He might want to recall how he seized the thrown and what he had done to his predecessor. Anyone might have trouble getting his 'snooze on' under those conditions. 
Now that I think about it, I'm in a stretch of restlessness these last few weeks. Sleep seems to come in bursts.
I wonder what that's all about?
Might a hypnotist be an answer?
"You are getting very sleepy..."

Friday, November 14, 2014

Blue Morning

I'm a bit blue this morning. As you can see by this early 6:15 AM shot, the first arrow of this winter has been slung and has hit its mark. Looks like about 2 inches. Follow the line of the hose to the garden, and you'll see old man winter's folly has stuck to any able branch in the vicinity. Although they say the whiteness won't last the weekend, I am glad I finally got around to burning that huge pile of brush up back Wednesday night. If this was the weekend before December 25th, I'd be excited, but for now I'll be a bit blue and wait for the sun to do its thing. It better. You see, I have work to to that involves the woodshed this weekend.
Load that cart.
Stack that wood.
Bye green!
See you in March, if I'm lucky.
Hopefully, like the wicked witch of Oz, "I'm melting, melting, melting ...

Thursday, November 13, 2014


If you detest sports, please move along...

Art and Sports are entwined today. When I think of the number 7, there is but one person that comes to mind: MANTLE, Mickey Mantle of my hated New York Yankees. My love of baseball was groomed watching "The Game of the Week" on Saturday afternoons. That I could sit there by myself in front of the Philco and watch a baseball game someplace around the country was a pretty big deal for this kid. This game, the Friday night fights, the Olympics and a little hockey was about it in the early days of TV up here in my corner of the world. Dizzy Dean, an ex-pitcher for the Cards, Cubs and Browns, was a colorful figure, who broke just about every grammatical rule on the planet each telecast, but I loved listening to his broadcasts. Jay Hanna "Dizzy" is in the Baseball Hall of Fame, made the cover of TIME magazine and was the last National League pitcher to win 30 games. Now, that's a record that's stood some time.  It seemed that just about every Saturday I had to watch a Yankee game, but at least I could watch Mickey bat. He was amazing!
When I heard that the Portland Museum of Art was going to install the Robert Indiana, a resident of Vinalhaven, Maine, piece "SEVEN" in front of the museum, it was Mantle's number not art that came to mind. Why the 7 at the museum? The building is located at 7 Congress Street. The sculpture will stand there indefinitely.
Didn't think I could connect, two of my loves, baseball and art?
Sort of a 'tangled web' today.
Play Ball!