Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall Umbrella

She still has a month of life left in her. The deck umbrella, that is. In another month, she'll make her way to the garage attic, but for now, she's the strongest color in the yard. For me this year, that means something's up. The front maples have gone from green to brown. No bright oranges, yellows and reds like previous falls. Off the back deck here, it's still muted greens at this point. Can you see the apple branch that Irene brought down straight ahead? It'll be a part of my late October bonfire that'll rid the yard of the bushes and limbs that have made their way to the ground and stacked up back this summer. I've learned through the years that falls in Maine are not always about bright, fiery colors. Sometimes, there's a lot more browns to it, that you'll have to search hard to find the tourist catalogues. And that's the truth! Honest!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


All back alleyways should be this lucky. It could almost pass for a front walkway beckoning shoppers to enter and spends, spend, spend! It's not though. It's the backside of a couple stores. Some attractive brickwork, lamppost lighting the way, a white trellis framing some wild flowers and a few benches scattered about, it all works. Last Sunday, I was taking a shortcut to get over to Exchange Street, looked to my left and Voila!

*Thought I'd post this beauty after the ugliness of the Red Sox season came crashing down like Icarus last night. Up by 9 1/2 games on September 3, they went 7-20 this month. Game. Season. Dream. Poof!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


A couple of strange connections today. Sunnyside and Summerside two names that come to mind when I see these sunflowers waving in garden. First of all, when I head out for breakfast to a local restaurant, I take my eggs sunny side up. I just like the looks of the plate with them set up like that. Never saw my Dad with an egg on his plate. He always claimed, that after eating the powdered variety in Italy in WWII, they made him nauseous to look at. Not me though. I don't eat a lot of them, but when I do, I like the two eyeballs staring back at me. Call me crazy! Summerside? The Waite side of my family came from Summerside P.E.I. I've never been there, but Nana's stories about her adventures there keep resounding even today. Gonna be another fine fall day. Keep it sunny!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Life Death

Life and death. You're not getting one without the other. It's a package deal. I went to a service for a friend last week. He had resigned himself to the fact that his fight was over. He had made his peace. Said his goodbyes. He was ready to go.

Life and Death
The two old, simple problems ever intertwined,
Close home, elusive, present, baffled, grappled
By each successive age insoluble, pass'd on,
To ours today-- and we pass on the same.
Walt Whitman, (1819 – 1892)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Field Deer

The gentle afternoon breezes are knocking these apples to the ground. As you can plainly see, the trees have not been sprayed so the apples are pretty much worm infested. We don't eat them, but the deer love 'em. Last week, Elenka spied 4 of them scampering about a big tree out back, jumping on each others' backs and jumping up trying to knock more off the branches. They seemed to be acting more like kittens than deer. Hunting season in Maine is fast approaching. As a matter of fact, Maine Moose Hunting season(by lottery permit only) opens today at sunrise. I'm not a hunter, but I do have many friends that partake each fall. My friend Jason has a moose permit for the first time ever and will be heading off to his camp in Washington county soon. He's pretty excited. He loves the hunt, but for him it's really all about camaraderie of being with his sons and best buddies for a week or so. I'm not going to start the pro/con hunting debate this morning. I'll end this with 'to each his own'. When you live in large rural state like Maine, I find it a pretty good rule to follow, hunting or otherwise.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Building's Past

Next to the One City Center parking garage sits the former home of the A. H. Benoit Company, a men's clothing store. At one time, the company had clothing stores in Westbrook, Biddeford, Lewiston, Brunswick, Ogunquit and here in Portland. In 1915 they were the largest clothing stores in Maine. They had a section set aside just for young men called Prep Hall, as I remember with upscale clothing with prices to match. I never remember buying anything there, but I did like to window shop. During my collegiate years, my friend Peter worked there, and I often stopped by while on vacation to catchup with his comings and goings. He had great stories of the latest screw ups by the manager or young ladies who had ventured by. Now, buddy Paul's parents bought all his Christmas gifts at the Westbrook store(The Men's Shop), and usually one night later, we were there returning all his latest fashions for cold, hard cash. I always thought that something wasn't quite right with this, but he rationalized it this way: "I don't need the preppy clothes; I need the money!" For him, it was all about the Benjamins, even back then. HoHoHo! Merry Christmas!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Going Up?

In the alleyway near one of the rear entrances to Portland High School, you find "The Ascent" by artist Thomas K. Kennedy commissioned by the school in 1991. In all the times I've passed it, I've been alone. It's not located in the most viewable location. Of course, days when school is in session I'm sure many teens pass it. I hope the symbolism is captured by them. I still need assistance in 'my' ascent. I think we all do, regardless of age, in our ongoing life learning. If this rain stops, I'll be ascending a ladder to continue painting the garage. What's on your docket for this fall Saturday?

Friday, September 23, 2011


Here it is! This is 820 Stevens Avenue. I've written about it many times but never shown it. It's where I hung out, aggravated girls and attempted to figure out if I might in any way play for the Red Sox someday. The frontage remains the same, sans the large wrap around front porch. It's a shame really; it added so much class and dignity to the home. We moved in between my second and third grade years and lived there till I was a junior in high school. The window on the top right was my bedroom, my domain. If there was something amiss at the convergence of Stevens and Forest a the the Corner, no matter what time, I was on it. This room and this house are just overflowing with memories and adventures. They flood my head. Unbeknownst to Mom and Dad, once at twelve I pushed open the attic trap door, scrambled across the roof peak and sat dangling my feet over the edge for about an hour watching the sights. Wild times for this sneaker clad kid.
Ever get the opportunity to get back to the old hangout? Would you ever want the chance?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Corner Pub

When I was growing up at the Corner, this place was called The Brass Rail. I always thought it was a cool name. Dad never had anything good to say about the joint other than "be careful, this place is trouble". When walking by it, I always thought I saw 'pained faces' staring out of the darkness. I even had bad dreams about it. Now, Santos, the other bar and grille there, was another story. Dad and I often went in and sat at a rear booth waiting for a large pepperoni pizza for the family. The juke box blared the Everly Brothers, neon lights were everywhere and friendly chatter came from all directions. There was, as I remember, such a strong blend of cigarettes and stale beer that I almost was forced to hold my breath til I reached the door. It seemed like a happy, safe place compared to The Rail. Hey Bartender!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Yesterday's Gone

Sunday morning I went window shopping and took a bit of a musical road trip. Here at One Longfellow Square, a musical venue in the heart of the city, the windows are plastered with placards advertising coming events. Most weeks there's a little bit of everything featuring a wide range of musical tastes. Want a trip back? Maybe Rodney Crowell, Leon Redbone or Chad and Jeremy might be just the road to take. Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde were a folk rock duo who came along with their counterparts Peter and Gordon. Their hits "Yesterday's Gone", "A Summer Song", "Willow Weep for Me", and "Before and After" were a part of the British Invasion of music in the Sixties. It's my favorite period of music ever. Sunday nights there was a parade of these band across the Ed Sullivan stage. I was tuned in. Judy, Brenda, Judd loved them. I took a pass. I'll take the Kinks, Zombies, and Yardbirds. I still do.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Vivian's was always there at the end of my paper route down Forest Avenue. Through sun, rain, sleet, and snow, one thing was constant, that gal flipping burgers at her grill. It was my last stop and after dropping her Evening Express on the counter, I often 'celebrated' with a Coke. Usually along with the refreshing drink, I sat at the windows and either counted my change, double checked for extras or briefly perused the Sports section. Fridays were special. Vivian always had a special treat for me: a delicious burger topped with cheese, grilled onions and my blend of ketchup and mustard. Vivian's Drive-In was there when I ended my 'work', and was STILL there, serving customers this week. Now, that's a stretch of burgers and red dogs!

Monday, September 19, 2011


It's cruise season in the city. The Old Port better get ready. LL Bean stock those shelves. Look out Kangamangus Highway! The tour buses are on their way. Unlike a lot of places that entice cruisers to warmer climates, the big draw in New England is the fall color and the stops at Portland, Bar Harbor and the eastern Canadian provinces. I stopped down at the new cruise ship pier, the Ocean Gateway, yesterday to take a look. The new Port of Portland facility can now dock two ships at the same time bringing twice as many visitors to the city's attractions. Bottom line, instead of backing in to the dock, ships now dock horizontal. It gives a landlubber a stunning view of the ship and the cruisers a magnificent view of the 'city on the hill'. We plan to cruise again next summer, but to places where we won't have to don jackets when we leave the ship.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Vintage Storage

Here's a look at the backside of a auto repair shop on St. John Street. It's a look you don't get to see from the front entrance. You'd be hard pressed to figure out that such a mundane appearance to the front would reveal such valuable commodities in the rear. Want to get embarrassed fast? Make a snap judgement without all the facts. We do it often. We fall into that easy trap and forget another adage that we were all exposed to growing up. 'Things are not always as they appear.' As we travel down that road of life, often the simple, prosaic aspects offer some of the most value. Don't scoff at first sight, on further reflection you might have witnessed something quite consequential.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Spare Change

I like change. I like it at work. I like it in music. I like it in the seasons. I like it in most things, and I understand why I appreciate transformations. But one type of change, coinage, has me baffled. Why, oh why, will I stop and pick up nickels, dimes and yes, EVEN pennies that I pass in my daily travels? I spy a penny while I'm pumping gas, I pick it up. A nickel on the carpet at work? It's in my pocket. I've always been like this. What's this all all about? It's like I'm fixated on it. Some sort of fetish? I wasn't a Depression baby, so it can't be traced to that. I did have a paper route and Fridays and through the weekend, I was always stopping by houses to get paid and making change with my little metallic coin changer that I wore on my belt. Could that be it? I always liked to stack the pennies and roll them before my paper manager, Mr. Priest, arrived. At school, we banked weekly, and I always, it seemed, took change never bills to put in my school account. Could this be a root to my fondness for that jingling in my pocket? We weren't rich growing up, but then again never lacked for anything either. My parents did in still in us the adage that a 'penny saved is a penny earned', but never 'pick up every small coin you ever find'. My photo, today, is a scene I came across recently. Goldmine! I'm baffled. Can you help?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Test Tubes

During club time in Seventh Grade, I joined the Science Club with Mr. Gabriel Walker. He was young; he was cool; and in science class, he did experiments every Friday. I always looked forward to what he was going to do. After years, of 'book science' with nuns, it was neat to see experiments using bunsen burners glowing, cans of evaporating water being destroyed, test tubes bubbling away and plants flourishing around the room. My interest in science had its birth in this classroom and continued to thrive throughout my high school years. I don't think I got a grade below an A in any of my science classes over those 4 years. I even started college as a Biology major, but that 'life' was short-lived.
Did you have a favorite high school class or activity?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bow Wow

Good dog! No, I'm not going to complain. No, I'm not going to whine. Oh well, maybe a little. I was just thinking this morning. NONE. Not one of my friends, and there were many as most of you know, had a dog growing up. Not Teddy! Not Leo! Not Eddie! Not Buddy! Not Skipper! Not Billy! You know, not a family pet but a dog that got to follow us everywhere. For some strange reason, we were all canine-free. What was that all about? In my bit of whining(ok, complaining), I had never really made that connection. I feel a bit better now. You see(read parents, Elenka, Donna etc.), it wasn't ME! I think I would have made a good daddy... for a puppy. Oh well, these days when I'm feelin' a bit blue, I'll just travel to Westbrook and visit my pal Annie. There, all better now.
ps. No, this is not Annie in the photo. She's prettier than this!
pss. Stay, girl!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Along with lots of white hair, there were classic t-shirts in evidence at last night's Moody Blues concert. If you are a Moodies fan, it was a 2 1/2 hour stretch where it was hard to stay seated. Here's the Setlist:
Set 1
The Voice
The Day We Meet Again
Stepping in a Slide Zone
Tuesday Afternoon
Lean on Me
Peak Hour
I know You're Out There Somewhere
The Story in Your Eyes
Set 2
Your Wildest Dreams
Isn't Life Strange
The Other Side of Life
Higher and Higher
Are You Sitting Comfortably
I'm Just a Singer(in a Rock & Roll Band)
Late Lament
Nights in White Satin
Ride My See-Saw

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Trombone Noise

I wish I could play a musical instrument. Never really got the chance. Back in seventh grade I had my window. Lincoln Junior High School had a marching band, and I wanted in. I had no interest in sitting in a band room and playing. I wanted to march in parades! I had my mind and heart set on the trombone. It made a lot of noise, and that was a big selling point. All us guys had a plan. We took all the papers home to our parents to sign up and where and when to rent. There was Buddy, Leo, Skipper, Eddie, and in no particular order there were drums, trumpets, tubas, clarinets to play. Well, bottom line-- we were shutout, all of us! It wasn't in the cards, I guess. So my dreams of wearing that bright blue and gold marching uniform at Saturday parades and football games were dashed that day. No problem. I lived with it.

Back to the here and now--
Tonight, we have tickets to The Moody Blues at Merrill Auditorium at 8PM. We've seen them quite a few times but always under summer skies. We are really looking forward to hearing them in Merrill with those acoustics.
"Lovely To See You"

Monday, September 12, 2011

Perfect Design?

Here is the Designer Show House Portland 2011 that opened this weekend. Seventeen designers showcase their ideas in redesigns throughout the Hamlen House on the Western Promenade. The home is open now through October 2. Our house was always open, everyday, all day. This place a 'show house'? I'll tell you what a show house was all about. It was the neighborhood hangout 365 days a year. If it wasn't daily football and baseball games on our homemade fields in the backyard, or basketball games in our driveway, well into the darkness, hockey tournaments with our table-top hockey game, around our kitchen table on cold January days, or 8-10 of us guys tenting out in the backyard with pup tents scattered about, it was the secretive meetings of the Skeleton Club in our cellar once a week that made 820 Stevens the place to be. How did our place end up being the place to be at Morrill's Corner? Was it because the house was big, the yard was spacious or just in a central space? Well, probably it was a little bit of all of those. Throw in kid-frendly parents and you'll probably have the picture. Designer house? No way! A great place to grow up? It was the perfect 'design' for a childhood.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11

This country is resilient. Knock me down; I stand back up!

How did 93 comic strips remember ten years ago? Take a look. (scroll to the bottom)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tall Weeds

These tall weeds, blowing gently this morning in the city under a blue sky, assure me that indeed the season has moved. Now, the weekends are prime time to ready the home for the foreboding winds and snows ahead. It's the time of the year that we can really appreciate the the golden yellows and strong browns of our natural world. When I was growing up, I passed them by on my Schwin with never a look or a care. I plotted my time by the school year and its boring routines. These days, I'm much more in tune to the world around me and its seemingly daily changes. On my drive to work, I almost can chart the moves of nature: lily pads dying away in the pond, the leaf-covered back roads, the coal-black oak branches against the slate gray skies, the browning of lawns and fields and the late-rising, low-lying morning sun dipping through the distant trees when I make the turn on 35. September's here... live with it!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Teen Jewelry

This jewelry was seen on a table at the local library. I asked for a picture, and she obliged. Fashion is a fickle thing. As Heidi says, what's IN today is OUT tomorrow. As we all know, fashion indeed is a circuitous thing. Like a bad penny, it keeps coming back. Besides the economy these days, it's a very good reason to visit secondhand stores these days. Teens today can't go wrong wearing jeans, sneakers and a t-shirt or a hoodie, sporting a favorite team, band or clothing company. That's pretty SAFE! Keep it safe, but keep it cool. However, I love those individuals who dare to take a chance with shoes, colors, jewelry, hair and designs. It's exciting to see these young, unique personalities emerging. And sit down for this... dresses and skirts for young ladies are making a comeback in some circles. I've seen them with my own eyes at the bus stop. I think I'm going to deep in my closet this morning and wear something that's been lonely back there. Well, maybe not today, but the weekend is close by, I think. Enjoy it! Wear something daring!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Just Red

This color finds itself almost around every corner in our world. If you want to attract some attention, you better use it. Political signs, advertisements, cars, even buildings carry it. The Casco Bay Lines ferry service uses it in its attractive color scheme along with yellow and black. See it here on benches of the Island Romance. I like it. It's a strong color. I think if you're trying to make a statement, it's for you. I have nothing against the color red, but within my closet hangs a few ties and one pink shirt. That's it! Not much of that tint resides there. To me it's kind of strange, because usually I'll wear anything. Favorite color, at least based on my closet? The prize goes to BLUE. How about you? Got a favorite color?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wormy Apple

Up in the garden, Hurricane Irene wreaked a bit of damage. She knocked over my corn, cut my tall sunflowers at the knees and bounced quite a few apples to the ground. Back a ways, the neighborhood had quite a few scattered apple trees. Most of them were crab, goldens and macs. They grew wild, weren't cared for and therefore were occupied with plenty of disfigurements, assorted bugs and worms. The apples, as I remember, were delicious, however you had to very carefully negotiate the worms. It was always a bad sign to take a delicious bite and see 1/2 a worm wiggling away. It happened countless times; you got used to it. Just spit it out and move to the next one. That was my approach. I get a kick out of that children's book title, How To Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell.
Heck, we ate 'em raw!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bus Stop

Schools open in the city today. My formal schooling began at Allen's Corner School and Perry Elementary School, both no longer standing. Then it was off to St. Joseph's Grammar School for six years, just a short 10 minute walk from our house. Lots of memories jump back at me. In Third Grade, I carried an antique butter churn up Stevens Avenue for a history project, and later in Fifth did a neat project on an explorer where we had to write a diary of their exploration. I chose Father Jacques Marquette. There were dark days too. In Sister Joanne's Sixth Grade adventure, I got in BIG trouble for opening Carol M's desk without her permission. I copied the dictionary after school. As I've stated many times... trouble finds me a lot!

Monday, September 5, 2011


Here three empty bottles sit on a windowsill, having been drained many years ago. That one on the right reminds of a Father John's Medicine bottle. Growing up , it seemed to be the cure for any ill. If the tall brown bottle was out in plain view, you knew one of the kids was sick. It was a cough medicine that, for some reason, I always connected with Nana and her Canadian roots, but truth be known it had its birth in Lowell, Massachusetts way back in 1855. It was creamy and gave me the shivers going down. And yes, there really was a Father John. If you're a big fan of cod liver oil and licorice flavoring, this stuff is for you! What were you forced to endure for the common cold, fever, flu, headaches? Wow! When comes to illness, the power parents wield.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Work Space

On her post this week SCreech photographed her laptop and a turtle companion. She also showed other pieces of her writing environment, including chocolate. It got me thinking about our work spaces and what we need to keep us company while we work. This is a shot of my home office desk. If you don't like clutter, please keep back behind the yellow police tape. Some items on the desk are obvious items I need nearby: pens, coffee, and laptop. Others might present no rhyme or reason. Assorted mini boxes, pipe rack, mini typewriter, metallic poetry pieces, rocks and a timepiece to just point out a few items that keep me company. Ya, that's a bobble-head. And yes, the stuff changes from time to time too. Comfort to some, clutter to others. It makes the process work, writing or otherwise.
What keeps you company at work?
Check out Words We Say:

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Light Rust

This looks like a dead ringer for the light on my Schwin. Big difference though. Unless, I screwed up big time or got caught 'doing papers' in a downpour, I would never allow my bike's light, or any other part of the frame, to get anywhere near this condition. It was my pride and joy. Red frame with silver fenders and I think it might have been the envy of the neighborhood when it first arrived in the driveway. No secondhand, repainted, retooled bike for me. My brother had a little repainted red number that he rode around on til he was ready for a big boy bike. Later he got a new, red Columbia. All of us guys had a bike that we wouldn't part with. They were all unique in some way, all possessing 'rare powers'. Some fast; some so dangerous; and some able to leap and do special tricks. We traveled around the surrounding streets and pathways, with baseball cards attached to the spokes to create that special sound. Even Teddy, who hated baseball, did it. Ya, that Schwin of mine was the coolest, but I must say, cool bikes never got the chicks, at least not in our neighborhood.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ice Cream

Ice cream, ice cream! We all scream for ice cream!
When I'm out and about and looking for a treat, I'm not a big hard ice cream fan and all the mom and pop ice cream shops scattered around the city. This one is on 18 Veranda Street. If left to its own devices, my steering wheel would turn my vehicle to the nearest Dairy Queen every time, and I'd have no problem with that. I think my addiction can be traced back to my annual two weeks 'vacation' each summer at my grandparents house in Westbrook. It was one building away from the DQ. Like clockwork each evening at 7 PM, Nana walked me over and got me a Dilly Bar. Back then, I was a loyal supporter of that delicious chocolate covered treat. In my later years, I've become a BIG fan of their Blizzard. This past summer, my Blizzard of choice has been the medium Hawaiian. I sampled others but always seem happy with the combination of vanilla ice cream, bananas, pineapple and, of course, you probably knew this was coming---coconut! Ah... What your favorite summer treat?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Theme Day: Perspective

"I went to a restaurant that advertised breakfast anytime, so I ordered French Toast in the Renaissance." -Steven Wright

Today, September 1, 2011, is Theme Day across the CDPB (citydailyphotoblog) community.
Now, I'm just sayin'...
I'm sitting here at Willard Beach and just taking in the SIGHTS and sounds of a late summer afternoon. I'm kicking back to the Kinks on my iPod. Perspective? It's really in the EYE of the beholder. What might be INTERESTING to one, might(?) bore another. Everything, in life, depends on your reference point. If you never look up, you might not ever realize that you are nowhere near the mountain top. Here's what amazing me. This blonde sitting in her chair, enraptured by her trashy summer novel is but 10 feet away from me here in the sunshine. So close, I can almost peer into her dreams, but yet, she's a million miles away from my world. I'll never hear her voice, never know her name, never come close to ever, ever seeing her again. It's like I'm amazed glancing out a bus window while traveling through Times Square and seeing the endless streams of faces, all in their own orbits, all within their own lives, with their own families and their millions of unique stories. Simple moments sometimes stop me in my tracks! So where ever you find yourself today... enjoy the VIEW!