Thursday, June 30, 2011


Show me! This railway car near Rocky Hill reminds me that 'talk is cheap'. Want to impress? Show me! Show me what you mean. Show me what you've done. Show me how it's done. Show me what you read. Do these things and I'll learn a lot about you, and in turn you'll learn a lot more about me. But be careful, you might be surprised at what you find. Remember, in life, things are not always as they appear. This macho, working railcar with colors of pink and baby blue might reveal something you're not expecting. Show me, but be ready to find something that might be unsettling.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Outside our kitchen window you'll find this hangout. Seen a few birdies checking out this site over the past months, but don't think any have taken up occupancy. Up back in the garden, however, it's a whole different story. There are plenty of bluebirds making homes in my birdhouses. A couple of them, didn't take kindly to my trimming with the lawnmower around the fencing of the plot. By in large, they do look mighty happy though. It's not a house; it's a home.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Shrouded Door

This front doorway, on an outer Washington Avenue home, caught my eye the other morning. The brick house is very much inhabited, but the front door is pretty much off limits. However, Johnny Weissmuller, of the old Tarzan movie fame, would probably love making an entrance through these vines. "Me Tarzan, you Jane..." I'm not really a movie buff, although I did see "King's Speech" and "The Fighter" on consecutive weekends last winter. That was rare. I do enjoy watching TMC and those movie classics. Did anyone catch Jane Greer, Robert Mitchum and an early second film of Kirk Douglas in the film noir "Out of the Past"(1947) last Saturday night? Now, that was entertaining!

Monday, June 27, 2011

1949 Mercury

Dad never had one of these, but probably wished he had. This 1949 silver-green Mercury coup, parked in the Old Port, looks like it was straight off the set of Rebel Without a Cause. In the Fifties, long before the two car family was the norm, we always had a second car parked on the rise next to the driveway. Sometimes they were just old blue-black clunkers from the Forties, that got Dad to West Falmouth and that second job, but most often it was a neat red MG-B or the old apple-red Jaguar. They were his pride and joy. When he was away, I'd sit in the driver's seat and dream I was rolling down the highway, waving at my friends. Often, I even turned the key and started them humming. If I ever hit the big time, gonna buy me a Jag!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bottled Orange

My drink of choice growing up was orange, Orange Crush. I bought bottles and bottles of the stuff for a quarter at the Amoco Gas Station, where I picked up my bundle of the Portland Evening Express each afternoon. I got bottles from the cooler at Howards' Variety and sat at the counter drinking them down, many summer mornings before 8 AM. When it came to ice cream on our Saturday night trips to Strafford Farms, it was always a large, orange sherbet cone, please. Where this strange affinity for the flavor orange emanated from I do not know. Now that I think about it, in high school I even had a pair of orange levi's. Different then... different now!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hat Delayed

This hat of mine rests on the porch, waiting out our inclement weather. You see, I like chapeaus, all kinds of hats, really. I don't think I've ever come across a derby I didn't like or at least try on. Baseball, top, straw, pork pie, cowboy, and others. Now, I know what you're thinking. No, I've never been in a stage production, but I'll take a chance on wearing any type of hat gear or disguise for that matter. This hat seen here I picked up in the Caribbean on last summer's cruise. I think, it's me. Yes, it's true. I've never really set foot on the stage in any drama production per se, unless you count my singing and silly vaudeville routines in our 'shows' in the garage on Stevens Avenue. At a nickel a head, we packed the place! But in many ways and on many days, I feel I'm giving a command performance in this play called Life. Hahaha! Yes, I've worn hats; I've worn wigs; I've worn beards. Heck, I'd even wear a dress, if the price was right. I have no shame!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Foggy Field

There's a stretch of weather that doesn't look good coming for this weekend. This is a field, shrouded in fog, that I pass often heading into the city. Days like this, in a time past, were outlets for coloring books, board games the likes of Monopoly, and Clue. It was also a time to shut the bedroom door, lie on the bed and pick up my copy of the latest Hardy Boys mystery. Shhhhh! I even enjoyed a guilty pleasure: hitting a few of my shag golf balls into the fog towards old man Bustin's house. Hey, I had to do something til the weather cleared.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Morning Shadows

This past Monday, I caught these late afternoon shadows at play out back. It got me to thinking. Who hangs their clothes outside to dry anymore? I bet the numbers are way down. Well, we still do. Is this a country thing? Maybe an inner city thing? With the advent of dryers, is this becoming a thing of the past? One time back when my nephew Stephen stayed with us for a week, he helped me hang clothes, using our long clothesline. He was amazed at how the line worked and that all our washings were hanging off the deck. I showed him how to reel them out and then hours later how to reel them back in. Although we have a washer-dryer off the kitchen, we still try to hang the laundry when the weather cooperates. And of course, we get that added benefit... that fresh laundry, air-dried smell. Ah...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

After the Snow...

This painting entitled "After the Snow on Howard Street" is by Elizabeth Fraser. Her daily painting blog is called Paint Squared: Daily Paintings and Pet Portraits by Elizabeth Fraser. I so love the way she captures the city feel of Portland in her miniatures. We've been attracted to her work for quite a while now. What a surprise! It was my Father's Day gift from Elenka, along with lobster (Yeah, can you believe they were out of mussels?) and her scrumptious strawberry rhubarb pie. The rest of the day was filled with the mundane stuff, for the most part, like weed-whacking, a little work in the garden and a bit of a repair job on a birdhouse. Oh, and yeah a big bear hug from sonny boy. It was a perfect day.
* Please visit Elizabeth's site. I bet you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bread Art

Color my world. You can do it here. It's the front window of the Artists & Craftsman Supply on Deering Avenue at Woodfords Corner. If you are and artist, you can fill your bill, so to speak, here. All shapes and sizes of paper, brushes, portfolios, paint and any other artistic odds and ends. When I stop by, I usually pick up a post card or two of writers, artists or musicians to dot my office wall. If I'm hungry, I'll stop off at the Big Sky Bread Company next door in the old firehouse. While you're buying supplies, the aroma of their freshly baked breads is hard to pass up. It almost mesmerizes you and sucks you inwards. I'm especially fond of the Honey Whole Wheat. Standing in line there, it's hard not to envision that kitchen back on Coyle Street on a Saturday afternoon, with that cast iron skillet of rolls and those two to three loaves of homemade bread cooling on the sideboard. No wonder Marchin loves his bread so much.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Commercial Steps

These steps on Commercial Street lead me back to Bishop Street. There was Leo and his prowess for hitting a baseball, Eddie and his tucked away Mad Magazines, Linda and those blue eyes, Buddy's pure athleticism, Judd and her trimmed bangs, Skipper and that captivating laugh and smile, Brenda and her allure, Billy and those lame jokes, Judy and that first Byrds album, Teddy of the big blue bike and me and the camera. At thirteen, we seemed to all want to end summer days scattered about the Nelson's front steps, porch and railings. Ah... summer nights back at thirteen. It was a time!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lucky Ol' Me

Lucky ol' me. It's Father's Day, and I'm a dad. Growing up, it was the farthest thing from my mind. Believe it or not, it took me light years to figure out that boyfriends and girlfriends might lead down this pathway. I never got that embarrassing 'birds and the bees' lecture from Dad and knowing him, I guess that's all well and good. It was a different time and place; let's just leave it at that. Fast forward to today... oh my! Mister old sun is up early shining through the backyard. The plan is to do as little as possible today. A day with Elenka and J-, and if my dream holds true, Elenka's mussels in wine sauce and her strawberry-rhubarb pie later in the day. Father's Day? My best buddy and I with a day to ourselves-- now, that's a pretty good recipe in itself.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Wind Chime

Let it chime. Got one up near the apple tree at the edge of the garden, another at the corner of the family room and this one hanging off the deck. When gentle breezes blow, it's a soothing sensation to be sitting with a cup of coffee and a book or laptop and hearing the chimes wafting through the nearby screened window. One of those other pleasing reminders of summer in Maine.

Friday, June 17, 2011


After all that rain, our garden has exploded. Hey, it's Friday and the weekend. ENJOY!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

39 Years

Congratulations to the Bruins! Lord Stanley's Cup is back in New England. 39 years? It's about time!

We skated on the swamp pond next to the dump at the end of Mayfield Street, the cemetery ponds down back and even a few times on the large Allen's Avenue pond. We played pickup, just our gang. Skates, sticks and heavy winter sweaters. We never, ever skated indoors. It was unheard of in our part of Maine. Basketball was King! It was years before the Maine Mariners hit the ice at CCCC and brought basketball, in the state during the winter, a little competition putting fannies in the seats. There was an NHL game of the week on Saturday afternoon and that was about it. Oh, and my brother and I had the 'hit' of the neighborhood one Christmas... a hockey game, featuring the six originals from the NHL: the Bruins, Blackhawks(my favorite sweater), Canadians, Maple Leafs, Red Wings and Rangers. Our kitchen table was the hub of activity on many a winter afternoon and evening. SCORE!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Beach Puzzle

Here are some rocks along the beach at Peaks Island. During those cold winters nights around the kitchen wood stove, when the games of Old Maid, Crazy Eights and Gin Rummy got old, Mom pulled out her boxes of Jigsaw puzzles. She had about ten boxes hidden away in the dining room closet. One was an image of horses gallivanting around in a corral, another was of an old covered bridge in fall, still one more was of a snow-covered mountain top scene.When she tired of them, she traded with her friends or bought one or two cheap at a church rummage sale. We all enjoyed doing puzzles. Four kids gathered around a tippy card table made frigid nights go fast, and she got the job done. She kept us quiet and entertained for hours. I'll not forget those fun-filled evenings.
Life's a puzzle. Put it together!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Flag Day

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson officially proclaimed June 14th Flag Day. This is the flag on my Uncle Leonard's marker at St. Hyacinth's Cemetery. I captured it on Memorial Day in some early morning fog. Knowing my grandparents as I did, I can in no way fathom how they dealt with the death of their only son, Buster. I have the telegrams the family received. First, the one declaring him MIA, and then the second one that started: "We regret to inform you..."
His marker reads:
Leonard A. Gallant
LT 390
AAF Bomb GP, World War II
March 2, 1919-April 13, 1944
The family has recently found out some new information surrounding his death, that I'm not emotionally ready to write about yet. This country will raise many flags today.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rock Formation

On May 3, 2003 the Old Man of the Mountain tumbled from his perch on the side of Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire. The natural stone formation was and still is the state symbol of the Granite State. We took a trip across the state line to New Hampshire when I was about ten, stayed in a hotel for the first time in my life and the next morning in a pea- soup fog, traveled to the base of the mountain. Dad said, "Look up, it's there". But I never really saw it. A couple of years later, we read The Great Stone Face by Hawthorne in Ms. Storer's eighth grade classroom. These two memories came to mind last week when the ferry ride on the Bay Mist took me to the back side of Cushing Island and the indian head formation seen here. This island is privately owned and part of the City of Portland. Can you see it?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pond Rain

I never was a big guy on frogs. I enjoyed the peepers at nearby ponds chirping at twilight, but catching frogs and handling them in my hands was not something I was excited about at all. The best places to see them and catch them were in Evergreen, the nearby cemetery. Creeping silently along the banks, Leo and Eddie were were skilled artisans of the hunt. On every trip to the ponds, they'd come back with one or two BIG ones. Me? All I ever got was the splash, splash, splash sounds of these creatures escaping into deeper waters, and that was fine with me. Now, I never believed the tales of getting warts from these green amphibians. I just disliked the whole idea of having them squirming around in my hands.
I'm still chuckling at that Far Side cartoon of the couple in a restaurant with the large sign "Frog legs our specialty", and out of the kitchen comes a frog on a roller skate. hahaha!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Name Game

Names are funny things. Take Portland for instance. It was originally named Machigonne by Native Americans. In 1633, it was called Casco and settled as a fishing village. When the Massachusetts Bay Colony took it over in 1658, its name was changed again. This time to Falmouth. Later in 1786, part of the village, that was growing into a shipping port, formed a separate town and named it Portland. This monument, on Eastern Prom overlooking Casco Bay in the fog this morning, recognizes all four names on its base. Now, when you are born with just a few letters in your first name, you're stuck. Eddie, Skipper, Buddy, Billy, Teddy all had good nicknames, but Leo and I had no where to go. Never had a good nickname. Well, not one I'd admit to this morning anyway. Oh, don't get me wrong. When you occasionally (hahaha) exhibit that 'shoot from the hip', 'non-filter lip' you're called all sorts of names! I guess I'm fated to stick with those.

Friday, June 10, 2011


"Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!
Blood-red were his spurs in the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat,
When they shot him down on the highway,
Down like a dog on the highway,
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat."
The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes is a favorite ballad of mine. I love to read it, and dwell on the wonderful images. This is just the culminating stanza when the robber gets his 'just deserts' (yes, I always thought the play on words was spelled 'just desserts too, but no... just deserts), if you will. I think that Ms. Storer and her eighth grade English classroom might be a bit surprised at how far her discussion on the anti-hero in literature has taken me. Ok, even I must agree. How can looking at a stunning red iris, outside a kitchen window, transport me to an old inn yard and 'a Redcoat troop a marching, marching, marching...'?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Island Bike

Yesterday, as the temperature creeped towards the 90's inland, I hopped on the Bay Mist, one of Casco Bay Lines ferries, and took a short cruise to nowhere. On board, it was sunny and warm but not hot. I'd say, close to perfect. Around noon, I got off at Peaks Island and with views of the city and bay traffic in the background, took in lunch on the beach. It was nice sitting on the rocks in the sun, munching on my tuna sandwich. Heading back to the dock later, I caught sight of this island bike leaning against a signpost. Flashback! I got a brand new, JC Higgins, red bike with silver fenders for my tenth birthday. I couldn't believe my eyes, when I saw it in the driveway. All mine? As memory serves me, it had to be one of my all time best possessions ever. And most summer and yes, winter days, we were inseparable. Hey, I didn't have a dog, but I had an envious bike.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Yellow Iris

My favorite flower is the iris. Right now the backyard is scattered with them, various purples, these yellow ones and assorted blood reds. The iris pops up in lots of places, besides Elenka's gardens. The fleur-de-lis, a stylized iris, can be found on the flags of Quebec and St. Louis Missouri and on the helmet of the New Orleans Saints, the professional football team. Interesting! The saddest part for me is their stay in the yard is so brief. I'll enjoy them the next few days waving the the gentle afternoon breezes.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Park Scene

This is Lincoln Park about a week ago, with still a lot of yellow in her early leaves. As far as parks go, it's not large and meandering but interesting with angled walkways, stone pillars, black iron fencing all around, benches about, a stone water fountain for cooling off in the summer heat and plenty of shady trees. No wonder it's a pretty popular environment for small fairs and festivals and the like. On early mornings like this one, you've pretty much got it to yourself. You can stop by, grab a bench and watch and listen to a city waking up. It's a good thing to do!

Monday, June 6, 2011


Each spring I attend a Civil War Reenactment nearby. There is dancing to various reels and mixers, some singing of patriotic songs and a band playing era music. My friend is a reenactor, and I caught up with him recently. Rick is a private in Company A, Third Regiment Maine Volunteer Infantry. He did a informative demonstration of camp life and a firing of his rifle. The day ended with a reenactment of the famous Pickett's Charge, a reading of the Gettysburg Address and the playing ot Taps. Day is done.

Company A, Third Maine Regiment Volunteer Infantry

Sunday, June 5, 2011


We lived on Stevens Avenue, a main thoroughfare in the city. From Morrills Corner to Westgate Shopping Center, it's a direct shot of just a little over a mile. In that short distance you can start your schooling in kindergarden, attend elementary school, middle school, high school and graduate from college. Kind of unique, if you ask me. Since it was such a main drag, it got plenty of attention. During my elementary school years, there were quite a few summers that the paving machines and tar trucks lined the Avenue, and the smell of new laid tar permeated the air. After the layer of tar went down, sand was applied and was rolled. The sand was allowed to work its way into the new asphalt and vehicle traffic could proceed. For us and on our bikes, this was always a fun time (you could fly down the street at top speed and slam on your brakes and skid and slide all over the place, kicking up sand in all directions) and a dangerous time (during this activity, kids often went flying off their bikes rolling and tumbling in the street). These were times of major scraped knees, legs and yes, butts. It was summer in the city.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


People are different. Elenka wants to go to Italy. Me? Right now, flying over the big pond and spending a few weeks viewing canals, vineyards and old cathedrals is low on my places to go. Dreams? I have a few. I'd like to head to Ireland someday, but fear I'll never get to go. Another one is closer to home. This past April was the Sesquicentennial of our country's Civil War. I'd really like to visit some Civil War battlefields. I'm not a history buff, but I am intrigued a bit by the exploits of the 20th Maine Volunteer Regiment commanded by Col. Joshua Chamberlain. I also have a friend R- who is a reenactor for the 3rd Maine Regiment Volunteer Infantry, and I enjoy listening to what he is up to in his reenacting. Gettysburg, Antietam and the like might be in my future. You never know the places you'll go!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Point Warehouse

Took a trip recently down memory lane. Come on along for the ride. When I was 12, I made the baseball All Star team for Little League 3. In the Playoffs, we won our first game in fine fashion, no problems. Game two was a different matter altogether. The game was played on the Thompson's Point field, a field notorious for more rocks then grass. The filed itself was situated on an outgrowth of land sticking out into the Fore River. I had always wanted to play a game here along the river. You probably know the ending. We ventured into the game a bit cocky from our first win and got our butts kicked and good. Why this image today? This warehouse sits on the site of that field. It's the first time I have gone back to this area since that final out. Where once there were fly balls to be caught, now there are only commercial jetliners in the air approaching their landings. End of story!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Street Sign

Our Governor has gotten a lot of ink and face time since November, and much of it ain't pretty. Perhaps you saw him opening his mouth on your local cable outlets. His anti-labor and anti-art rampage that he went on shortly after taking the reins of power at the Statehouse was, well, very embarrassing to our great state. Kill All Art? Well, in seventh grade, I did my part. I had GB, a wonderful art teacher, but just didn't get it. His projects were neat, but I struggled to be mediocre. In a memorable activity, he read us a LIFE Magazine story about the hermit and his goats living on Manana Island, near Monhegan Island off the coast of Maine. After hearing the tale, we had to paint his portrait without seeing a picture of him. My picture wasn't too good, although I remember GB stopping by my table offering me advice with my coloring and shading, but I had fun on that project. I looked forward to art. I still do!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Theme Day: Under Construction

Today, June 1, 2011 is Theme Day across the CDPB (citydailyphotoblog) community. Growing up, whenever I saw construction sawhorses and those soot-laced old kerosene lamps marking danger zones at night, I knew I was in for an exciting few days. If the hole wasn't too deep, (we weren't that crazy) long after the workers quit for the day, we'd navigate to the bottom to check out their work. What fun! What excitement! What mischief! Those were days well before OSHA regulations ever saw the light of day. Their unfinished work was always left wide open for our investigations. One time heading up for bed, mom inquired, "Why the heck do I smell kerosene?" My passing retort was, "Mom, I've been working!" We kids drove our mothers crazy, I'm sure!