Friday, February 28, 2014


Not only did I enjoy delivering 75 copies of the Portland Press Herald each morning before heading to school, but I liked the smell. Believe it or not, but the aroma of the ink was a welcomed friend each morning. Whether it was in the cold of winter in the warm, corner laundromat or on the hot tar of the Esso station where the papers were stacked in summer, one of my first acts was grabbing a bunch and taking a good whiff. What my problem is I do not really know. I do remember being a big fan of smelling my breakfast cereal, whatever it was, each morning at the table. What do I love smelling these days? Well, all of the pleasant stuff that everyone enjoys but lots of strange stuff. Here are a few... brand new books, paperbacks or hardcovers, coffee before I measure it out each AM, any place I find leather clothing, in my closet or on a clothes rack, pillows, dusty curtains, shampoo at 5 AM, gasoline at the pump, freshly cut grass and even handfuls of dirt, any pine that I'm working with that has been cut, fresh laundry... 
I could go on forever.
Maybe I need a support group.
I've even caught myself smelling the compost pile once.
Give me something new, and I'll take a good long draw.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


I've never been framed!
I've been blamed for lots of things in my life. I must admit that for most of the charges, I stand guilty as charged. However, believe it of not, there were lots of times growing up that I found myself in the wrong place at the wrong time. For example, I and others had nothing to do with burning Lewis Lumber Company down that fall evening. We seemed guilty, but we were proven innocent. But I know who did. I had nothing to do with the large, back field that caught fire that afternoon after school. But I know who did. Did I find mischief? Sure did. Did I do a few things I regret now? Sure did. Was I ever framed for a deed I had absolutely nothing to do with? Absolutely not. Somedays, I wish I had been.
It would have made a heck of a story.
By the way, I am framing this weekend.
Does that count?  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


"Aye, matey. Tis buried treasure I'm searchin' for."

Well, no it's not really a treasure, or even an item that's treasured. It's our summer sprinkling can sticking its head up giraffe-like from under snow. Since the appearance of robins are still a ways away, I'm placing this in the corner of a harbinger of spring. I really know it's coming. I'm going to keep repeating this to myself today, as I peer out my windows at snow showers. Well, on the plus side of the ledger at least, the 'dusting'  will cover up all the dirty snow staring at us around here.
See, even in dark hours, without robins, I can keep things positive!
I think.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Snow Table

What you see pictured here is no example of trick photography. It's our back kitchen window area, with a lantern and bird feeders touching or getting close to touching the snow. Good thing this wasn't all water! I think a snow table has something to do with the measurement of the equivalent amount of water that would have fallen had all the snow been of the liquid variety and at certain temperatures. Most of the time, I hear the meteorologists telling us, after a solid, drenching spring deluge that it was a good thing this wasn't all snow. They throw out some statistical reference as to the amount of snow we'd be shoveling had it all been white stuff. I enjoy a good cover of snow, but this time of year moving another 8 inches or so of snowfall ain't fun.
Let me see.
How many days until Florida?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Shovel Rest

Ok, let me get this off my conscience right off the bat. Yes, I did put the shovel down and watch some of the Olympics over the last two weeks. No, not all of it was 'white noise', while I worked. Here are a few points that registered with me. The Downhill Giant Slalom and the Super-G might be the most exciting of all events. I do not understand why Ice Dancing is in the Olympics. Sport? Curling is comic relief for me! Hockey is still the big draw, but get rid of the professionals and bring back the collegiate skaters. Overuse of the editing button,  showing only the 'winners', ruins an event like the 4-Man Bobsled for me. The Two Man Men's Luge looks very wrong!
The NBC broadcast was embarrassing. Jingoism is alive and well and 'living' amongst us. Why, why, why when a US skier comes in 24th is he interviewed first, leaving the winners nowhere to be seen. To be perfectly honest, I want to see the great Olympic athletes compete and win their medals, NOT just the US athletes.
Oh well, with the almighty dollar in control of the Games, this will never change. 
Bottomline: what I watched, I enjoyed.
How about you?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Three Lamps

Shine a light!
Mid-afternoon last week and the set of lamps at the Post Office are a glow already. 

Heading into Portland this morning to meet Paulie for breakfast and get this day off to a fast start. We're going to a new place at the bottom of Brackett Street called Omi's. I think it's short for Naomi's. I'll fill you in on the details of my visit later today.

Well, I enjoyed a mild Mexican Roast, while Paulie took his double Espresso in fine fashion. We met Naomi, the owner of 5 months. After serving us, she ventured to the back, plopped herself into an overstuffed chair and regaled us on the trials and tribulations of running a small coffee shop in the dead of this cold, Maine winter. It's a small cozy spot, consisting of a couple of rooms of mixed-matched furniture and sunny window seats in the front. There'a small lending 'library' in the front too. Books, fine coffee and comfortable seating: a pretty good combination. The artwork on the walls was nothing to write home about, but I will return.
The coffee itself is enough of a draw.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Pilgrim

This world can be a rather mysterious place, even for a pretty normal guy. 
This is The Pilgrim. It's an apartment building on West Street in the West End. Walk in and ring his room. He'd buzz me in. I remember it always being toasty warm on mornings in winter. Bear a bit to the right and 'call' the elevator, and it was usually there in 30 seconds or less. Slide the heavy brass to the side and open a cage-like inner door and you were in. The ride to the 3rd floor was fast and the short amble down the hall was always met with the door ajar to let me. I'd sit at the small table overlooking the street below or take a place on the couch, and we'd talk about just about anything: antiques, our old farmhouse, a cruise that was in his future plans, some politics or even a course in Celtic he was planning on taking. I miss those visits. J- does too. We often travelled there together.
Dad's been gone since Christmas Eve 1997. 
Here's another little secret of mine.
Until last year, I would drive out of my way not to venture down West Street.
It was too hard.
Once about 5 years ago, I took a 'wrong' turn and found myself on the street.
I focused straight ahead.
Wouldn't look to the right.
I guess I'm better now.
I took this photo last week.
I really like this building.
Some significance?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Snowy Michael

Here's Michael standing bravely against the snow. I've photographed this controversial piece of art in the warm sunlight of early spring and after 'he' had been 'yarn-bombed' a couple of summers ago. The sculpture has been moved around a few times but has really found a home here on the edge of the Old Port. A movie theater across the way, a parking facility, plenty of coffee shops and restaurants nearby, yes, the 'guy' has found quite a home for himself. And dug in against the a snowfall of late February is, without a doubt, my favorite look for him.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Storming Tuesday

Happy Birthday wishes going out to my baby sister Joanne out there on the West coast this morning. It was so nice seeing her and Bruce again this Christmas. I miss her very much on her birthday, but I probably miss her the most during winter storms. We had such fun waiting out the snow on that large window seat looking out on Back Bay. Coyle Street fun, family memories.

Here I am walking among the driving snowflakes Tuesday afternoon, just around the corner from One City Center. I had a choice to make, a respite from the weather. My choices were two: a wine bar here on the right or a favorite coffee hangout across the street. Decisions, decisions, decisions. It was around 3:30 PM; I decided on a hot java sitting at a window seat watching the storm go by.
Good choice.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Snow Color

Why do somethings lie dormant for years and years, then suddenly seem pop up into your world? This happened to me yesterday driving up on the Eastern Prom. I had been motoring thru the city for an hour or so in the snow and was about to head home when some color caught my eye. I inquired of myself. Did I just see that? I backed up, not an easy task in the rutted snowfall. I said to myself my, my, my. Look at this. These three colorful buildings, I had never caught sight of before. Sometimes I see things in the snow that I drive by continuously and not notice. Is it like fog to me, bringing forth those muted colors? Like rain that heightens autumn's foliage and just seems to 'turn up the volume'? Maybe it's just one of those simple mysteries of nature.
What gives?

Mustard brown, pink, light blue
All in a string.
Where have you been
All of my life?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Waiting Traps

We humans aren't the only ones waiting for the coming of spring around here. There are thousands of lobster traps standing by impatiently here on Widgery Wharf this morning. This structure has some historic roots that date back to the late 1700s. It's named after the Widgery family who plied in the molasses trade. Much of this large wharf was covered over when the main thoroughfare, Commercial Street, was constructed in the 1850s. I have seen paintings that show large sailing vessels with their prows sticking out almost touching the warehouses near the water. This area has changed quite a bit over the years. In the background you can see the condos that have crept in among the wharfs down here. As you might guess, a 'working waterfront' that the fishermen want to survive and modern living sometimes do cross tracks.
These traps will have to wait out another 'snow event' though.
Nine inches more said to be on the way this afternoon.
Ha! It's spitting snow already.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Iced In

Iced in?
Well, sort of.
I've heard the tales from my father and others about frigid winters in the city. 
How cold was it?
It was so nasty that Portland Harbor froze over, and you could actually walk the 3 miles or so to Peaks Island. My father said he did it with friends. I don't think I'd attempt that these days, but in my youth... I do think I'm a bit smarter today then back a few years. Elenka has regaled me of the time she and friends walked across Sebago Lake in the dead of night. Knowing her cautious nature, I've got to believe some alcohol was involved in this episode. The harbor does freeze over from time to time though. I do remember seeing a good deal of the harbor solid ice sometime in the Seventies, not all the way to Peaks though.
The scene depicted here today was after a stretch of below 0° temperatures for a couple of days straight.
All I can say is, if it froze to Peaks, that must have been some bone chillin' weather. 
What's up with winter?
We just returned from a snowy wedding in Jersey, and there was more snow there this year than I've ever seen.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Glass Blur

Why do the fun, exciting things in life always go by in a blur? We wait for long months, imagine the reactions of family and friends, and swish it's over in a seeming heartbeat or two. We attended the beautiful wedding yesterday in New Jersey of our stunning niece Daniella and her handsome beau Christopher. As a perfect snowfall fell outside the The Manor's wide expanse of windows, we caught up with family times, partook in a banquet-like scrumptious meal that kept coming and coming and toasted many times to a long and quintessential life to the couple.
To Daniella and Christopher:
May these next many, many years not go by in a blur.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Red and White

Well, unless you make your living plowing driveways in the winter, this is a scene that most residents have now had enough of until December of this year. Believe it or not, after  ridding my driveway of about 8 inches Thursday night, another 6- 10 is heading its way.
If it doesn't stop, this crap could be here in June.
Enough already!
I'm crying uncle!
Let me check my reservation for Florida again.

Friday, February 14, 2014


Star-crossed lovers are lurking in this window. At the Sweet Art Pop-up Shop, Romeo and Juliet, along with their buddy Willie Shakespeare are seen here romping through the hearts. Ten illustration students at MECA, Maine College of Art, set up shop on Union Street the few weeks leading up to Valentines' Day. They were selling original art consisting of cards, posters and love-themed illustrated art. There was even a red couch set up in a side room where couples or single portraits were being taken. Most of the stuff was priced to sell, and I'm sure will be opened up today.
Lots of love to spread around today.
Passing along some LOVE to my special Valentine, Elenka!
And Happy V-Day to all!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Winter Shadows

When it comes to shooting my city, here's my MO.
I just kind of liked this bit of color down at East End Beach, and the shadows added to the intrigue. I took this picture about a week ago.  On this blog, some days I try to picture the city with recognizable images, like the photo of steeple of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception yesterday. However on others I post photos that I like, pieces of the city that grab my eye. Most not recognizable at all, unless, for example, you might own or use these skiffs during the summer. I follow rules. Most days, I post a single shot. Another rule, my rule, that I try to follow is that I don't post collections of photos taken together on consecutive days. Most weeks, I'm pretty good at that. My thinking is that I could never capture every single piece, so I shoot lots of different location photos. A different particle of the jigsaw puzzle that is Portland.
When I head into the city, I always have one of my cameras.
However, I love Sundays. 
Most 'rest days' I'm shooting.
That's how I do it.
Work the magic!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Your Fears

Face your fears!
No, religion is not a fear of mine.
For me, water can be difficult. I'm not talking water at the beach here. I'm talking about deep ocean water. There's a mysterious, gothic quality to it. What do they say dreaming is all about? Working out difficult problems in your real world? My most reoccurring, disturbing dreams over the last few years have progressed beyond forgetting my high school locker combination to some horrors of height. I'll find myself somewhere on a rugged mountain top clinging in an impossible situation on a ledge with no way up or down. In another favorite, I'll find myself atop a church steeple like this one and no foreseeable rescue in sight.
On second thought, maybe there is something to this religious thing.
I've left out real life fears like the stock market, retirement and losing my car keys.
You see.
Some days, I'm better off just not thinking.   
So, beware snakes, getting shocked, ordering food in a foreign country or struggling through a bad tuna tetrazzini recipe. 
Face your fears!
Well, sort of. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Green Escape

Climb to the light.
That's the mantra to be followed in this scene.
Sometimes, taking the easy way out doesn't get you the rewards that you are seeking. Then again, I hear of some that have plopped down a few bucks, at a local convenience store, playing the lottery and are set for life. I don't play poker. I don't play the weekly big tickets. I don't enjoy a good gamble. However, one or twice, when the pot looms the largest, I'll throw a buck here or there. I don't expect to walk away with anything, but it makes me feel a bit better in some strange way.
Most make their way down an escape to safety.
Today, I'm climbing to daylight.
I might pass you on my way up.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Yesterday's News

Who reads yesterdays' papers?
I did once.
It was that crazy newsboy instinct inside me. During my four years away at college, Mom subscribed to the weekly paper and had it delivered straight to my dorm mailbox. It was always four days late, but I looked forward to its arrival. I must admit I mostly skimmed it except for the sports' pages, but it brought the city, that I had never been away from, right to my bedside off in Western New York. For an emotional kid, who missed home more than I led on, it was an anchor I needed. College life had enough distractions that would lead me astray, if I let them. It's arrival was a constant reminder  to 'stay the course'.
And that life was not always 'full speed ahead'.
It must have worked.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

All My Loving

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Beatles!
"Close your eyes and I'll kiss you..."

And with that Ed Sullivan introduction and the first chords  and words of those fab guys from Liverpool, I think my life changed, 50 years ago tonight February 9, 1964.
I had been alerted to this event by my sister and some of the girls in the neighborhood. The Ed Sullivan Show was a Sunday night staple in our Stevens Avenue house. I sat through shows filled with Perry Como, Teresa Brewer, Jackie Mason, the Lennon Sisters, Eydie Gorme and Steve Lawrence, that mouse Topo Gigio and the zany Banana Man, but this night was different. 
Mom said, "They sure look handsome in those suits." Dad just sat back and shook his head and smiled. I was moved by the music, and when I saw the reaction of the girls in the audience, I knew I wanted some of that.
I changed forever.
I took the pledge: the hair was going to grow.
One night at college in a bar, I was approached by 5 girls, who said I resembled 'Harrison', and for the next 3 years or so, if I ever ran into them, they called me "George". 
I'm quite sure a couple never really knew my real name.
But I didn't care.
My love affair with music, I can honestly trace back to 50 years ago tonight in front of that round screen Philco with the family.
Favorite album?
Call me crazy, but I've always had a weak spot for Revolver.
Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Basketball Zone

*If you don't like basketball, enjoy the photograph and move along.

Well, the 2014 high school basketball schedule has run its course, and it's Tournament Time. In Class A (largest enrollment schools) Boys, it's the top 3 and then all the rest. I have to chuckle. Some years it certainly is wide-open but not this year. The local sport pundits caution that this might be the year of the underdog. I say, not this year fellers! Portland High (18-0), Falmouth High (17-1) and Bonny Eagle High (17-1) are the class of the 17 schools. A couple of points here-- Portland dispatched all comers, including a solid beating of Bonny Eagle on a neutral court in their only meeting. I was in attendance to see Falmouth manhandle BE in a Holiday Tournament game. This game did not count in the standings, but said a lot. There was no stopping the Yachtmen's height. Falmouth played a quirky schedule, all Class B teams. They'll play a full Class A schedule next year, but how will they fare next week playing the A schools? Bonny Eagle has lost the last three years in the Western A Final. Is this their year to finally take the last step to a State Final and a chance to hoist the Gold Ball?
Don't bet against PHS Bulldogs in the Western Maine Finals.
It might be quite a State Final against Hampden Academy (#1 in Eastern Maine) also 18-0 this morning.
I've got a funny feeling about  Bonny Eagle though.
This just might be the Scots' year.
Let's play the games!

Friday, February 7, 2014


"I'm playing this one close to the vest..."

This rusted piece of rigging on a docked dragger, I'm sure, serves a useful purpose bringing fish aboard. It helps bring this vessel through its day.

Idioms do the same for me. I use a lot of them.
Here are a few that often are a part of my day:
close to the vest
loaded for bear
devil in the details
ass backwards
head above water
spill the beans
take a leak
kick the bucket
add fuel to the fire
it's Greek to me
in the same boat
high as kite
back to square one
eyes bigger than your stomach
chip off the block
cut to the chase
eat crow
down to the wire
fish or cut bait
out on a limb
hit the books
heat of the moment
method to the madness
pedal to the metal
saved by the bell

Elenka has heard them all, and when she hears a few of them, she just says, "What are you talking about?"
Do you have some favorites?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Chowder Up!

Corn chowder was one of the  winter, Friday night staples growing up. Good Catholics that we were meant no meat. Along with the corn and fish chowders, we had delicious haddock and marginal, frozen fish sticks. Yesterday, I made Mom' corn chowder and here it is:
1/2 lb bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup of chopped celery
1/2 cup of chopped carrots
1 quart of milk
2 tbsp flour
1 can of cream style corn
1 can of diced potatoes
salt and pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, fry bacon til crisp. Pour all but 3 tbsp drip from saucepan. Add onion and celery to drip in pan. Cook and stir tip the onion is tender. Remove from heat-- blend in flour. Cook over low heat, stirring tip mixture is bubbly. Remove from heat. Put in milk. Bring to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for 1 minute. Stir in corn, potatoes, salt, pepper. Heat then stir in bacon.

Now, where's my favorite mug that I got on a trip to Rangeley?
It was delicious!
Elenka's homemade bread only added to the meal.
Best part?
Bet you can't guess.
The recipe card was written in Mom's distinctive, cursive style.
It made a cold night just a bit warmer.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Yesterday afternoon, as I was returning to work, I looked up and was startled by the most wonderful blue, winter sky. Later, last night on a trip to the woodshed, I looked up to a fast-moving, fishback sky in the heavens. It was a harbinger of a storm on the horizon, for sure. This morning we woke to a fine veil of whiteness, lacing the countryside. You see, around here,  just when there's a hint of a thaw, or that fickled spring really is near;  it's BOOM-time! 
It really always comes back to nature's way.

*Note the Portland Landmarks sign Brooks Bakery 1887.   

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Sometimes names are strange. Here on Valley Street is Salvage BBQ and Smokehouse. It's a new place. I think it opened the end of last summer. My guess is that the name is derived from a small salvage operation that once occupied the premises. It certainly has the look, from the outside, of a small warehouse facility. It has an attractively painted facade facing Congress Street, with four large windows that really reveal a sense of what's going on within. Not a big bbq guy. It's a bit messy for my taste, and I've heard that a diet of it is not all that good for me. So I've been told by a close and personal friend.
But I've glanced at the menu. 
I'd take a chance.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Max Height 6'

I got measured at 18 when I got my draft card, and I was quite happy that I topped 6 feet. My dad was about 6' 2'' and brother Marchin is securely over the 6 foot barrier somewhere. Every driver's license I've ever had has my height list at 6 feet. My weight has been all over the place. Once, the summer before I got married, I actually tipped the scales at over 200 pounds. There's a picture of me somewhere looking conspicuously like Junior Sample from the old Saturday night tv show Hee Haw. I got a bit scared when I saw that photo. I lost quite a bit of weight for my spring wedding the following year, and it has always fluctuated from about 190-162. The last time I weighed in I rode the scale at 172. I can 'live' with that, but what I struggle with this morning is that my height was 5'11. I even had the gal double check it. "Sorry", she said, "it's 5'11'."
I guess I couldn't stay 6 feet forever.
This is gonna take some getting used to.
Shhhhhh now.
Don't tell anyone our little secret.

ps. Did anyone else have a Mom who religiously marked the vertical growth of her kids on a wall someplace in the house? Ours was in the kitchen next to the woodstove. I got so excited by my growth. It was all about the little things.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


Well, we thought it was a great idea. And we could make some money at it too. Catching and raising homing pigeons and then selling them off. We had a plan, but no real knowledge about the training of these birds. No idea at all. But it would be a fun and beneficial way to spend a long boring summer. It was Teddy’s bright idea. He claimed he had caught lots of pigeons with other friends in years past. He said it would be easy, and he knew just where to find them. He led us across the tracks, down to a couple of the large lumber sheds of the NT Fox Co. When we got to the buildings, we were staring up at large stacks of lumber that smelled so sweet drying in the summer heat. He then proceeded to tell us what the ‘plan’ was. We’d each work our way to the top of the piles and reach in and grab the birds, while they sat perched and cooing on the eaves. It just seemed too darn easy. After about an hour of moving around precariously on the top of the wood stacks and not even coming close to touching a bird, we all realized our dreams of ‘hitting the big-time’ in the world of raising and selling homing pigeons was going to be a dream that we would fall short of by a wide margin.
I suggested, “Teddy, maybe if we got some cardboard boxes, filled them with pigeon food (by the way, what do pigeons eat anyway? peanuts?), tied a string to the lid, sat below, they’d walk in so we might close the lid from below.” 
“They’re not that stupid.”, he laughed in front of all the guys. I was the one feeling kinda stupid now. I guess writing that great American story entitled: “My Life in Pigeon Cages” was going to have to be delayed for a few years. Now that I look back on it, it probably wouldn’t have went well anyway, given that Dad had already released the rabbit I caught in the field weeks ago. He said it escaped, but I knew better. If he couldn’t handle a small rabbit, how would he ever survive the cooing on the roof of the house of twenty pigeons.
Later, after an afternoon of pickup baseball, I asked, Teddy, “Don'’t you have to have a special breed of pigeon to make them keep returning and delivering messages?”
I had read a story recently about how these birds were used effectively in WW2.
He came back with the retort, “Hey any animal can be trained. They’re all pretty stupid anyway.”
Teddy was the oldest kid in our gang, but he had a lot to learn about life and pigeons.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Theme Day: Entry

Today, February 1, 2014 is Theme Day across the CityDailyPhoto (citydailyphotoblog) community.
This month theme is "Entry", and I attempted to capture it by leaning over on a slippery wharf and peering in this lobster boat door. I would hope that all endeavors that we attempt have challenges built in that supply us with the hidden will to push on and eventually reach our goals. After all, where we end in life, is usually is a place far removed from where we entered. It's filled with many twists and turns, joys and heartbreaks. Coming through it all intact and a far better person is really what it's all about in my book. For me, it'll be important to be able to turn around at the conclusion and say, "Now, that was a ride!"
I plan to do that soon.
I'll remember this too---
It's not the 'entry' that counts.
It's the culmination and the faces you've encountered along the way..
 "All's well that ends well."