Thursday, March 31, 2011

Window Shopping

Let us pray!
Here's a window that, believe it or not, reflects our up-coming forecast and this is no joke. Tomorrow is April 1 and the forecast, for around these parts, is 6-12 inches of snow. I think I have a pretty positive outlook on life, but it's being tested here. Enjoy this final day of March. In like a lion out like a lamb...?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


These acorn 'hats' were strewn across most of the landscape that I called home in my formative years. I do recall that the acorns themselves got me into mischief on a quite a few occasions. As I recall, the day I took a pocketful into my eighth grade homeroom was not a fine day. A better memory, and something we often did, was to remove the 'hats' and with our ever-present jackknives, hollow out the bowl of the acorn, poke a small hole in its side, secure a reed with a pretty large opening and insert. Voila... a homemade pipe! After filling the bowls from our pouches of Prince Albert tobacco, we'd sit beneath the trees and puff away the afternoons. Huck and Tom had nothing on us!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Blue Diner

My first job, other than caddying, was here dishwashing at the old Edna's Restaurant. She was on the job at midnight to start cooking her famous muffins. The doors opened at 2 AM and it was pretty much packed til 9. Truckers on the way up Rt 302, bar patrons looking for breakfast after a long night and guys like Dad on his way to work, they all knew the way to Edna's. Breakfast was the main draw. It was known around the city. When I walked in at 6 AM, I was always faced with a mountainous display of egg-caked dishes. It usually took me til 8 to catch up. Load after load, I washed by hand. It was just two crazy waitresses, Edna and me, along for the ride. The kitchen usually was filled with either hysterical laughter or very disturbed screaming! I saw the boss show great love towards her grown son, on his way back from Maine Maritime Academy in Castine and disdain for waitresses she fired mid-order for screwing up! It was a volatile kitchen at times. I loved it! She must have liked me though, because I got a set of keys and was allowed to lock up after I washed the floors and all was quiet. And, oh ya, it was just a one minute walk from home. That was a fun-filled summer for a sixteen year old. Remember your first job? Fun or a disaster?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring Wood

Heading to work each morning, I pass this stretch of trees and brook. Yes, one recent morning it was snowing. Snowing? Snowing! Listen, I want to hear the peepers in the evenings, see green-back frogs plopping off pond banks, and start catching polliwogs in old mayonnaise jars. Well, at least I'm thinking about that last one. I've had with winter! I want to see our backyard forsythia bush on yellow fire, as soon as possible. I think I got spoiled by our early spring in 2010. Gosh! Gee whiz! I hate March!

On a much more enjoyable topic-- My mother-in-law turns 90 today! Happy Birthday Anna (Babka)!

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Happy Maine Maple Sugar Sunday!
I stopped over to my friend JP's house last night to watch a little 'Madness' and check out his new evaporator, made by his father-in-law, for his maple sugar operation. I learned a few things about 'sugaring' in the process. First of all, you don't need towering, wide-body maples to get yourself a lot of sap, and this device (pictured here) is the mainstay of the whole procedure. The evaporator holds a strong fire below and gallons of sap juice above in a tray. A constant, steady fire and a watchful eye on keeping a full tray of sap boiling is what you need to get yourself this bottled sweetness. It's not a huge, elaborate process, like many of the sugar houses opening their doors to the public today, but it gets the job done. By the looks of the standing bottles of maple syrup he's processed already, JP will be tasting fruits of this labor for some time to come. Pass the pancakes, please!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Getting Around

There are a few of these signposts around the city. There's one at the head of Commercial Street and this one, almost at the the other end of the city, just outside of Eastern Cemetery at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Congress Streets. Portland's small city, that one can walk end to end in about an hour or so. I've always said, it has the appeal and charm of a larger city without a lot of the problems. It's not large; it's not small, but like Goldilocks said about the porridge, the chair and the bed of baby bear... "it's just right." I've lived my entire life in close proximity to this wonderful place. I don't plan to venture far, but who knows what life holds in its hands.

Happy B-Day Zack way out on the left coast!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Waiting Game

Life's a waiting game, isn't it? Like this section of the dock near the Casco Bay Lines Terminal, that awaits the schooners Bagheera and Wendameen return this summer, we all seem to be reaching for something not quite within our grasp. Often to the young, they seem large and way too unattainable. Sometimes, they do not even register on the radar screen of life. Whereas, another of the fine benefits of the experience of age, allows us to set realistic goals, accessible or not, in a less pressure filled time. Some are shareable with friends and associates, while others we hold closer to the heart. Today, why not ask yourself, what are your dreams? What do you hope comes your way soon?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Maple Madness

It's that time of year. I call it Maple Madness! Maple trees abound with all sorts of pail configurations collecting sap around here this time of year. Maine Maple Sunday is this coming weekend. Last year, we thought we'd head out to one of the more popular destinations, have some ice cream topped with maple syrup and take some pictures. Mistake! Twenty minutes driving around looking for a parking space, walking a quarter mile along a mud-caked road, and very long lines for ice cream sort of had me humming the old Peggy Lee tune "Is That All There Is?" This Sunday I'll stay in and watch some real March Madness on TV or maybe head over to my buddy JP's place for a taste of some of that sugary sweetness. Check out his blog.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ol' Friend

I worked nine summers at Evergreen Cemetery. My first day working there found me manning a weed-whacker with buddy Tom and trimming the grass around gravestones. Whatever I started with on that first day usually found me doing all summer long. Trimming stones, pushing a hand mower, digging graves, driving a riding mower and cleaning stones were a few of my jobs. The best was cleaning gravestones, because old buddy Ray and I would spend a lot of 'down time' with foreman Herb. My last few years there found me riding the dirt roads, checking on the crews and just shooting the crap about life with Herb. He had a wicked dry sense of humor and all kinds of stories. Some were about his experiences in WW II, while others centered around his family life- trips to Barnacle Billy's and Ken's for clams or retelling me his favorite parts of that latest Pink Panther movie. I was saddened to hear of his passing this past Sunday. Some people you can never forget.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Red in Snow

On the way home yesterday in the snow shower(ya, we got another inch out here), I caught sight of this red outbuilding near the road. With the snow sticking all over, sort of like a foggy dream, the redness just seem to jump out at me. It sent me back, for a few minutes, to old man Bustin's back yard. His rows of corn and our outfield marker(they were one in the same) often came into direct conflict, when Leo whacked a long ball. I got caught once, retrieving a homerun, and he dragged me to his backdoor all the while wagging his finger in my face. I always thought, if we ever had a neighborhood theater production, he's make an outstanding Mr. McGregor from the Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit books. Nothing really came of it. All I got was the standard, "Stay out of my garden." On nights we slept out, we'd often prowl around his garden and his garden building. Not much in there, just tools and such. We never even left 'our mark'. Fast forward- in later years, when I delivered the Portland Evening Express and the Press Herald, he always wanted to talk and often rapped the paper on the top of my head. Really, he was a pretty good, old guy.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Office Bottles

This is a window in my office. It looks out on the back field and up the road a bit. I get the afternoon sun streaming through here most days. I like its effect on these bottles, spreading defused colored light around the windowsill. I can't remember where I picked them up, but enjoy their company up here. I should tell you, ya, I enjoy collecting junk, odd bottles, small boxes, picture frames sans pictures. Often, Elenka's eyes will just roll, when I tell her I need this 'special' object. Now, as other members of my family look to be unloading everything and making their homes as stream-lined as possible, I'm collecting stuff. They're kissing goodbye to objects like pictures on the walls, knickknacks and other seemingly trivial pieces of the world, and I'm welcoming material(some say crap) with open arms. My age and my world say I should be downsizing... I seem to be upsizing! What gives?

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Well, as you can see parts of the city are ready, willing and able for the start of spring today, March 20, at 7:21 P.M. EDT. Out our way, however, there is still a lot of snow cover along the roadways and across the fields. This is a picture of the old Arbor Street fire house in our old neighborhood. This building is now on the list of National Register of Historic Places in the city. I'm sure our almost daily visits, on our bikes, to check out the comings and goings of the firetrucks and firefighters probably had a lot to do with this recognition. Could there be any other reason? hahaha!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Do Not Enter

Back to reality! One more full day of winter. One more thrust of winter! After the mild weather of last week around here, this morning we're waking to a late winter snow event. What a way for ol' man winter say his goodbyes. Back a few years, my friends and I would relish one more 'hit' like this. One last snowball fight, one remaining trip down the backyard hill, one more school day slip sliding our way to Lincoln. Big flakes this time of year usually meant the walk home would be on sun-covered wet sidewalks anyway. Besides, our baseball gloves were already being worked over with linseed oil and repeated workouts with a ball. That wonderful season baseball was lurking over the horizon for all to enjoy. This morning, all I can say is 'good riddance'! Why? There are just 13 days til opening day for the Sox!

Friday, March 18, 2011


Portland has quite a seafaring tradition, and this window, on a Portland side street, seems quite symbolic to me. Like a boat in a bottle, my eye has been drawn to this window scene often in my travels in these parts. In a past life, it seems it was a small produce warehouse. Today, it's office space. This weekend? Sail away!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Pipes

Happy St. Paddy's Day! Sunday afternoon, fighting away the showers, I attended Portland's annual St. Patrick's Day parade. It was short, but with some fine music and color. The Dunlop Highland Band (seen here) and The Claddagh Mhor Pipe Band provided the pipes, and there were kilts and sporrans abound. Since I didn't attend the ceili at RiRas afterwards, the highlights for me were the remarks of the General Consul of Ireland Michael Lonergan, with that Irish brogue and the pipe bands.
Remember: Brave Men Wear Kilts!
I haven't got one... but I WANT one!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Renowned for their live performances, the Irish rock band the Saw Doctors did not disappoint the crowd at PCMH last night. For two hours straight, the high energy band rocked out favorite after favorite. And they have a softer side too. I love this one. Perfect for the evening.

Share the Darkness
Hey I can't I say that I love you
I can't say that I don't
I can't say that I couldn't
And I won't say that I won't
But I really like your company
I'm enjoying myself no end
But I can't keep from thinking
Why don't we share the darkness tonight
Make it warm and burning bright
I'll not say nothing
I'll be polite
Why don't we share the darkness tonight

Ah life's too short for wasting
For ifs and might have been's
Life's too short for wondering if
You could have lived your dreams
And its way too short for loneliness
We don't have to be

Now that we trust each other
Why don't you stay with me?
Why don't we share the darkness tonight
Make it warm and burning bright
I'll not say nothing
I'll be polite
Why don't we share the darkness tonight

When the world belongs to distant dogs
And the air is dark and still
And drunken conversations pass
beneath the window sill
And there's someone singing
Elvis songs as they make their way back home
and all your fears and worries
attack when you're alone
when you're alone, when you're
alone, when you're alone
Why don't we share the darkness tonight
Make it warm and burning bright
I'll not say nothing
I'll be polite
Why don't we share the darkness tonight
Why don't we share the darkness tonight

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Concert Poster

To celebrate an early St. Paddy'd Day, Marchin and I are off tonight to see the Saw Doctors in Portland at the Port City Music Hall. A good night of Irish rock. Last year they visited the city, and they sold out. I've been trying to get tickets but the box office has been closed through the weekend. Will we get tickets? Your guess is as good as mine. We'll stop by early and take our chances. Can't wait to hear "I Useta Lover", "N17", "Share the Darkness", "The Green and Red of Mayo", Hay Wrap", and "Bless Me Father" among others. Love Irish rock? Gotta see 'em! If we don't get in, we'll be rippin' in the AM! Stay tuned.
Try this out.

Monday, March 14, 2011


It sits and lights up our kitchen table, this amaryllis. It's upbeat. It reminds us, daily, that Maine winters do come to an end. In some small way, it does take a bit of the sting away from a 'disastrous' event that unfolded at the entrance way of our kitchen last week. I dropped my best camera and destroyed a favorite lens. So stupid! It was just me, trying to carry too many things in from a trip of errands. It's usually tucked away in my backpack, but this time it was just in my hand... and well, I'll spare you any more gory details. I've got backup cameras, but this one's a favorite. Needless to say, I'm shopping for a new lens.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Missing Piece

Is it just me? Can you help me answer one of the age-old questions this morning? Why? The final nail that I pound into a piece of wood always splits it. The last remaining screw, into my sheetrock project, always misses its mark and creates an ugly hole. There's always one last piece to the puzzle that's not there at the end. When I'm in a rush, the parking spot is elusive. Sometimes the more I plan and fine tune a project, the less fulfillment is achieved. Why is it that, a lot of times, planning on the fly procures the most satisfaction? What exactly is the allure of the missing piece? Why is it, that on my search for the that most important object I need, I find everything else I've been looking for recently? Is it just me?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Free Star

I get a kick out of some ads on the radio. Some just make me wonder, who in their right mind, would take the bait. So, there are definitely bodies out there in their wrong minds for sure. Looking for the ultimate birthday or anniversary gift for a loved one? Why not buy them a star. Whaaaaaaa? You send the the bucks and they'll send you 'your star' complete with a certificate of authenticity. I still say whaaaaaaa? Ok, let me admit something right here and now. Call me a fool or whatever you will, but on clear, star-studded nights in winter and summer, I often find myself staring up towards the Milky Way searching for Stephen, a loved member of our family who we lost in '84. I know he's up there, but I never bought his star. When I think about him and all the great times we had, I smile, and I can be happy in a strange way... But I'd NEVER buy a star. Cripes, they're free for the taking... every night!

Friday, March 11, 2011


Now, this seems a strange combination of sorts. Fine food, spirits and water closets? This warehouse is situated just up from Gorham's Corner, where Fore, Bank, York, Pleasant and Danforth streets meet. I'm sure at one time there was a lot of 'action' in the long brick building. These days there are shops within. There used to be an interesting bookstore in here, where I once attended a poetry slam with a buddy. The last time we were here was to hear a friend of Elenka' sing and play guitar with friends in a small restaurant located in this block. This weekend? Finally, we will get around to celebrating Valentine's Day together, in a quaint restaurant. Why the month's delay? Hey, during a long, cold, Maine winter, you tend to take life slow... and as it comes.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hill Bench

Well, after yesterday's post, I really feel I must post an uplifting image. Not everything is depressingly white around here in March. Here on the Hill, things are beginning to change. Spring is in the air. Brown grass has made an appearance. Although in our family it's a happy month with all the birthdays, I've always struggled with March. You see, in most states, it's a spring month. However, up here in the Northeast corner of the continental US, I've always thought of it as winter. Heck, take the 31 days of March and spread it out among the other eleven months, and I'd be a happy guy.

Today, March 10 is Mom's birthday. I only wish we might spend a few more moments here on this bench, overlooking the ocean, sharing some laughter and smiles. I miss you... a lot.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Flash Snow

Monday, just after the rain ended a flash blizzard hit for about 15 minutes. A bit more snow is scheduled for tonight and Thursday morning around these parts. Will it ever end? At Congress Square Park against the brickwork, the snow looked exciting. Most days in high school, I walked back and forth to school by myself, and often March caught me heading out in weather like this. It was about a 25 minute walk, that allowed me to get my thoughts together for the day. I often timed myself to see how fast I could do it. The afternoon trip was another matter. Slightly uphill, in inclement weather my walk wasn't much fun. However, on many occasions in the rain and snow, Mom met me in the blue Falcon. Those days were special! Amazing, what a kid remembers.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Drew Mysteries

Happy, Happy. Joy Joy! Happy Birthday to my sister in sunny Florida today!

Whenever I see one of these old, blue covered Nancy Drews I think of her. She had a large collection in her bedroom, and there was a time when it seemed her face was always stuck in one. She also had some of the newer, yellow covered ones with a picture to grab the reader. I read a few. A favorite was "The Secret of the Old Clock". The Hardy Boys, of course, were a favorite collection of mine, along with a series about life at the service academies: "Midshipman... something." Reading... the great escape!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Encased Leaf

Will spring come this week and free me from all our snow and ice? My guess is no, but I can wait. There's a lot of rain coming, and the thawing will continue. However, the sight of green grass is still a ways away. One good thing is that, as a we grow older, we gather many articles to take with us as our 'trip' continues. A special piece that most of us require, that's usually missing in our youth, is patience. It's an important quality for happiness. I'm patient now; spring will spring soon... I hope.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lone Tree

On this mild March morning, this lone tree stands against the blue sky. I don't often venture on this road to get into the city, but when I do, regardless of the season, I enjoy this 'lone soldier'. Growing up, a tree like this was meant to be climbed or attacked with nails, hammer and boards for a treehouse. These days, I'll stick with just gentle admiration from a distance. This tree is on the verge of changing soon, with buds breaking out all over. Life pushes forward.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Old Glove

Happy, Happy, Joy Joy! Happy Birthday to my younger brother celebrating his special day, today!

Baseball. He loves this game. Here's his glove, a relic of a past... a sure true friend. It has survived many a battle with him, through high school, college and the Twilight League. Today, it's still at his side, as a softball career continues. Two summers ago, it traveled with him to California to compete in the Senior Olympic Games. Have a special day my friend! Legs spread! Glove down! Eyes looking ahead!
Play ball!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Birthday Season

What do they say about March? If it comes in like a lion, will it go out like a lamb? All I know is around our group of family and friends March is the birthday season. Let's see: my brother, a sister, my mom, my mother-in-law, a nephew, a best friend, a brother-in-law. Whew! I'm sure I'm forgetting a couple. Oh well, there's not much to say other than... CELEBRATE!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Truck Wipers

Swish, swish, swish. Back and forth. Back and forth. The wipers, on this old Chevy pickup, were getting a solid workout the other day. As a matter of fact, the small, faded black truck looked a bit anachronically lost amid the snow, slush and whizzing vehicles of this 2011 winter, but no matter. It just kept poking along. As I passed it on the left, those Frost lines from "The Runaway" came to mind:
"Whoever it is that leaves him out so late,
When other creatures have gone to stall and bin, Ought to be told to come and take him in."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

State Reflection

Don't be fooled. It might look flaky, but this recent driving snow was not soft to the cheeks or eyes. The colors, of this doorway, caught my attention as I made my way to Congress Square. Across the street, you can see a brief reflection of the State Theater, enjoying another rebirth as a fine music venue. A cup of Coke, some angry snow, varied colors, and the State... it's got it all!

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!
"Read Across America" Day!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Theme Day: Favorite Part of Town

Today, March 1, 2011, is Theme Day across the CDPB(citydailyphotoblog) community. Today's theme was certainly a challenge. Where do I pick? What do I include? My favorite haunts as a youth and as an adult include: the Oaks, the Old Port, Morrill's Corner, Congress and Middle Streets and both the Western and Eastern Proms. So, what do I select? Well, none of the above-- I'm going with Evergreen Cemetery. Here captured, early this December, in all its whiteness. I grew up spending lots of days in here and even today, if I have something on my mind, it's a unique spot to sit and sort out some feelings. Enjoy!