Thursday, August 27, 2015

Jersey Deck

Before we turned North on Monday and headed back on the highway to Maine, we stopped in Westwood, NJ to visit Elenka's cousin John, wife Wendy and their luscious backyard. We sat on their wonderful deck in dappled sunlight and got caught up with their latest comings and goings. Off this deck, there are gardens everywhere. Wendy has filled just about every available plot with something green. I was especially intrigued by her watermelons and limes.
Could I grow limes further North in Maine?
Perfect for my summer gin and tonics.
I might have to experiment.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Stupid Stuff

"Dad, look at that little, yellow duck on a chain."

Highway rest stops are always fun places to stop 'do you business', stretch your legs and grab some food and drink. We made lots of trips to Jersey when Justin was growing up. Three hours in, either way, was always break time. Elenka usually went off to get us some substance for the next 3 hours, and J- and I headed for the 'stupid stuff'. You know what I'm talking about. It's the t-shirts of the local sports' teams, styrofoam cup holders, all sorts of keychains, tiny toy cars that fit in your palm, decals for you car window, refrigerator magnets of all different shapes, decks of cards, coloring books and more and more and more. Elenka always cautioned me. "Don't buy anything." But I was weak, and Justin was game. We seemed to always return to the car with something stupid in our hands, laughing all the way. Good times. Lasting memories.
Heck, we needed something to break the monotony of the 6 hours.
And I longed for something other than the Boston Globe and a black coffee.
Humor was a solid choice.
What do they say?
Laughter and money are always in style.

What tricks do/did you have to kill the miles?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Baubles and Such

Oh yes, my grandmother had a drawer.
And it was loaded! 
Anybody out there in old fogy-land probably remembers "Baubles, Bangles and Beads". It was the hit from the 1953 musical Kismet. By my quick count, I've seen over 45 musical productions, but have never seen this one. However, I do remember Mom singing it around the Stevens Avenue house and attempting to accompany herself on the ivories. Peggy Lee had a hit with it, and even 'Old Blue Eyes' took a swing at it in the early 50's. At least once during my summer two week excursion at my grandparent's house, I'd get to rummage through Nana's top dresser drawer just loaded with all this stuff and more. I'd dig to the bottom and bring up my hands allowing the beads and necklaces to intertwine my fingers, so much so that just the tips were revealed. This experience had such a sensual feel. Later, I'd load each finger with her costume jewelry rings and hold them up against the window and let the sun shine through them. The aroma of her 'old lady perfume' was sprung from the drawer and was tantalizing.
For a split second, I was a star.
In Hollywood meeting my fans.
Hey, a 10 year old alone with his grandparents for two weeks had to improvise.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sock Patrol

Where do you buy your socks?
When do you buy them?
I can't remember the last time I bought a pair. I probably have about 6 black dress pairs that, for the most part, are never worn anymore. Retirement, you know. Summers, my Sperrys and I go sockless. Winters, I have a couple of heavy work socks that I don most days, whether I'm out in the snow or comfy by the woodstove. Maybe I should invest in a pair of these. They say George Hamilton, the old movie star(?) wears a pair and then throws them away. Never wearing them twice. Now, that ain't me. Here, I'd tend to gravatate towards either the cats of the bacon. They seem to be my style, although that big ol' full moon might tweak my fancy. I have a pair of 'Einsteins' that a girl gave me back a few years ago. Some kids claim that I mirror a striking resemblance to the mathematician. I really think it's all in the hair myself. Well, ok the truth be known here, I have been called a 'know it all' at certain times in my existence too.
In the market for a pair of these?
You won't find them at a Macy's or a Nordstrom's.
Try Bull Moose Music on Middle Street.
A music store hawking footwear?
Surprise, surprise!
Are you Soxy?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Water Web


Among the rotting pilings near the Ocean Gateway terminal, there is life. A couple of itsy bitsy spiders are making a claim and calling it home. Can spiders be happy and contented? Who knows. They probably are. Our lives are certainly like spiders' webs. Pretty fragile. Coming into this world and leaving it, most of us have little control. How and where it ends, we have little play in it. Will we live to 100, if we really want that lot, or will the thread be cut short suddenly? The other morning on the Tappan Zee Bridge, a box truck crossed three lanes of fast-moving traffic hitting a pickup and another box truck on the way, catapulted over a barrier and got tossed in the pathway of an barreling 18 wheeler. The driver 33 and his passenger 20 both killed. The cause has yet to be determined. Falling asleep at the wheel? Vehicle malfunction? Driver inattentiveness? Does it really matter at this point. Two lives taken early. When they awoke and headed off to work, did they have any inkling that their lives would be cut short soon? Doubt it. We all doubt it.
See, we are but dangling on those thin webs of life.
Moving ever so slightly in the wind.
Looking so simple.
Yet so complex.
Not knowing when...

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Apartment Living

This is Lafayette Square. Back in the day, it was the old Laffayette Hotel. It's a beautiful, classically styled brick structure. These days it has been reconfigured all over into apartments. Friends of mine from college stayed here when they came to visit me in the 70's. It was quite a place. It was one of the 'in places' to stay before the chain hotels took over and spread about the city. I ran into Leo, a friend from back in my Gorham days, and he has moved into an apartment on the 6th floor. He's got a small kitchen, a living room and a bedroom. Perfect for a single guy in his later years. And of course, the building is in the heart of the city, so Leo can walk all over. 
So, let's see.
Got his political books.
Got the internet.
Got food.
Got legs to walk.
Happy man.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Ice Arena

I lost a good friend from work about 10 days ago. DP was a hiker, lover of 80's rock music, a hockey coach and a teacher who worked with some of the toughest  kids in our building. He taught them that no matter their lot in life they mattered to him and others. He taught them respect. He taught them integrity. Dave and I had many talks in his room about education, music, and hockey. We even discussed our preferences in thirst-quenching drinks. Dave's drink of choice was Dr. Pepper. The service for him was held here at the Troubh Ice Arena last Sunday. A fitting venue where he coached many a middle school and high school game. At the service, his dad spoke about the 'little boy Dave' he knew growing up and mentioned that his regret was that he didn't really get to know 'the man Dave', because Dave moved to Maine after college and the family remained in Massachusetts. So yesterday, I sat down on the porch and wrote his dad and sister a note telling of 'the man' I got to know pretty well. A lot of his friends did this. I hope his dad is overwhelmed at his mailbox.
David.
A fine educator.
And mighty good man.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Willard Unbrellas

We made it to Willard Beach about Noon and stayed until some time after 4. It was warm, but not uncomfortably so. The water temperature was a balmy (for Maine) 67°F, and the air temperature fell somewhere in the mid-80 for the day. An occasional sea breeze made it close to another perfect day at the water's edge. Don't get me wrong. Yesterday after a stretch of 90 degree hot and humid days, I hope no one out there in blogland, who has ever experienced a Maine February day, thought I was complaining. Far from it. This coming February in the midst of another Nor'easter dropping 10 inches or so in my driveway, I'll long for these days of the triple H's. 
Hazy. Hot. Humid.
I might even post a beach shot.
Even to myself, I can be nasty.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Lime Wisdom

Really.
It's all about the lime.
Well, the thermometer is going to be creeping towards 90 again today with no real cooling in sight. I'm going to try to talk Elenka into heading to Willard for the day. I doubt it will take much convincing. We don't have central air. It's really not needed here. We have an air conditioning unit in an upstairs window, but for the most part open windows and small strategically located fans do the trick. Otherwise, how do you keep cool? What's your tonic? This warm stretch lately has sent me hankering for an afternoon refreshing beverage. While many will reach for that bottle of Tanqueray, Bombay or Beefeaters, I prefer Gordons, and of course there's a backstory. It was Dad's drink of choice mixed with a distinctive lemon and lime soda. When the heat hit last week, I remarked. "Let's do gin and tonics". So off Elenka went and returned with a bottle of Gordons. Did she know? I doubt it. Unless she was in some way 'enlightened' as she walked among the stocked bottles, I think not. For me songs, tastes, photos and aromas can send me hurtling back to my youth.
Each time I prepare a gin and tonic with a well-placed lime, I unscrew the cap and breathe.
Whoosh!
I'm a teen back on Coyle Street.
At the kitchen counter, inhaling the Gordons.
And wondering what the 'game of alcohol' was all about.
Lime, please.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Aging Faces

What do they say about growing old? The wrinkles are character lines? Are you buying it? Of course, if you have lots of money to spend, you can redesign your face the Cait Jenner way into something all new. She's spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on her face alone for her 'coming out' party. I did catch part of her reality show "I AM Cait" on a Sunday night recently, and after about about 2 minutes of looking at the restructuring of the old Bruce's face alone, I had to look away. Like taking a peek at a car crash along the highway, I slowed down to have a look but looked away fast. I don't want to see any bodies, destruction or blood. All I could think of as I gazed at her facial reconstruction was, "My God, it's a clown!" It's sad to see what some will do to try to break the hands of time of that ticking clock.
I'll stay with what brought me here.
I ain't touching a thing.
I'm already in a reality show, anyway.
Seen it?
It's called "Life".

Monday, August 17, 2015

Boats Galore

Yelena and Justin leave today on a new and exciting adventure. Austin here we come! Last evening, we dined at Joe's Boathouse Restaurant at the Spring Point Marina under a beautiful, warm summer bed of stars and toasted them multiple times that they find good fortune along the way. Yelena's dad Oleg, his wife Svetlana, her sister, Irina and son, Max, and fiance Eugene, Elenka and I all said our formal goodbyes and wished them well. As I told them, the road of life is marked by many wrong turns, breakdown lanes and dead ends, and most shortcuts on the highways and byways tend to be filled with wasted time and effort. 
Make your choices wisely. 
Support each other. 
Find success and happiness. 
Often, destinations find you.
Godspeed Y & J!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Dockside Dining

Made the trek to northern New England this summer? Survived the lines at the Kittery tolls? Kids complaining in the back seat? Are we there yet? Just 51 more miles and you're in Portland. Now, is your stomach growling? Got the hunger for some seafood while your visiting the city? Looking for a place with all the options: like crabs, crab cakes clams, a steamed lobster dinner, steamers, scallops, shrimp, calamari, haddock, mussels, fried fish, clam chowder and on and on and on? Your choices of dining places here will run in the hundreds as you might imagine. Yes, if you are planning on eating during the peak hours, there might be lines, but know the wait will be worth it. We stopped by the Portland Lobster Company the other day and took in a late lunch. If you want to be out in the bright sun with water to your left and right and lobster boats along side, this might be the place for you. For a boy who got his first taste of seafood via frozen fish sticks on Friday nights, I've made some strides in my seafood dietary habits.
If you are in a lobster etc. mood here, drop me a line.
Not a fishing line, a note, an email,  a call.
I've got some wonderful suggestions.
And YELP doesn't even pay me.
I might just join you for dinner.
... or breakfast, or brunch, or lunch. or a late night snack.
Have I told you I hunger for seafood?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Folly

I must admit, when I first heard about it, during the dead of our terrible winter, I thought it might be a pretty neat idea. Create a 'pop-up park' in the middle of the city during the height of the tourist season. So from July 3-October 12 a small block of Federal Street, just outside of the newly opened Press Hotel, has been turned into the Federal Folly, complete with white benches, red circular rugs, wooden stanchions and special night lightening. Throughout the summer and early fall, the site is hosting special events like theater productions, blue grass concerts and other unique activities planned to increase more pedestrian-friendly spaces. Maybe at an evening event with lighting and all I'd be a bit more impressed, but at mid-day the creative park was pretty empty and bland.
A pop-up park?
I'm so much more impressed with pop-up books.
And as for the The Federal Folly?
I'd just have to go with 'the FOLLY'.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Pig

Say hi to Pig!
She is our house guest for the month of August. We were a bit concerned about how our two cats Molly and Sophie would welcome her, but any fears were unfounded. All three have done very well together. Now, you are probably wondering, like me, how did a pretty little thing like this end up with the name Pig. Well, it's pretty simple. Her previous owners had dyed her pink and abandoned her in an empty apartment in the city. Yelena went over, opened the door and a little 'pink' kitten was staring up at her. It was love at first sight. Pig does have a faint, pink tint to her fur also. That's it. It's Pig. Come early September, she'll take flight to Austin, Texas and be back with her 'family'. We'll just enjoy Pig's escapades for the next 3 weeks or so. 
It fun to have a kitten back in the house.
Hilarious antics.
It so funny when she prances sideways down the hall.
Cool Piggie!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Empty Bottles

Who knew?
Ultramarathoner Scott Jurek's latest feat of running the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, all 2,189 miles of it, in just 46 days, 8 hours and 7 minutes has stirred quite a bit of controversy at this end of the trail. He touched the sign at the pinnacle on July 12th. The trail itself runs from Springer Mountain in Georgia to the northern terminus at Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park. His run through BSP set the scene for another clash between commercial sports and wilderness preservation. At the summit, you see, Jurek was issued 3 summonses for rules broken at Baxter Peak. The 3 rules broken were: no consumption of alcoholic beverages, no groups in your hiking party should be more than 12 in number (Scott had a large support group with him all the way) and no filming within 500 feet of the top. I've climbed Katahdin 6 times. Three of the times I assisted in our Boys' Pathfinder program, leading a group of about 15 of so eighth grade boys to the top. So, our school group sort of broke that group rule. The other three times Elenka and I have summited the mountain, once with brother Marchin. Each time we reached the top we celebrated with (as I remember) a refreshing chug from a bottle of Boones's Farm Strawberry Hill wine.
There, a second rule infraction.
Ah... but so thirst quenching!
Hey, ya gotta celebrate, right?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sleeping Bags

Let sleeping bags lie.
Getting a new sleeping bag was always fun. I liked the smell of them and the slippery, nylon feel to them as I slid in. Just about every week in the summer the gang was sleeping out somewhere. The most popular place was of course in our spacious, tree-lined backyard. I think it was because Mom always stocked us up for the night with jugs of Kool-Aid and tasty snacks to hold until morning. We were always up early, beating the sun's appearance and wandering about the neighborhood, occasionally getting into mischief even before our fathers left for work. The nights were filled with pre-teen escapades that are better left to memories. The best family camping trip was when we loaded up the station wagon and headed for an extended weekend to Camden Hills State Park. Mom and Dad borrowed a large wall tent from some neighbors for them and my sisters and my brother and I slept in our trusty pup tent. It was a fun week consisting of all our meals outside over a campfire, walks to the outhouse and showers in the dark, a hike up Mt. Battie and huge baseball games with nine players on each side, with fathers calling the balls and strikes and umpiring the bases. That was a wonderful week, and I believe it was the only time I remembered Dad taking a full week's vacation and spending everyday with us. He was a worker. 
A pile of new, Coleman sleeping bags always reminds of our week away.
Can't speak for the others.
But for me, it was the best.
Family time.
ps. I still love my mummy... bag.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

August Pie

I'm all about blueberry.
Blueberry is special.
It might just be my favorite pie of all. Please don't tell the apple, the cherry or the strawberry-rhubarb. Well, an August blueberry pie is a special, rite of passage. It makes every summer, really. And no, this one is not any of my doing. Yelena made it. Her first pie ever! It was delicious,  just overloaded with fresh blueberries picked Sunday at Blueberry Hill Farm in Acton. For me eating this tasty fruit is similar to peanuts and salty potato chips, I just can't stop at one. When no one's looking, I'll grab a loaded fist full and gobble them up all at once, chomping away making juicy juice in my mouth.
Now remember, don't let on to the apple, the cherry or the strawberry-rhubarb.
You promised, right? 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Farm Fresh

We went to the Farmers' Market at Monument Square last week. The year round Market is open here every Wednesday from 7AM-1PM. On Saturdays, it moves to Deering Oaks. It runs from basically late April through the start of December. During the dead of winter, it moves indoors. You can get just about anything for your dinner table and really a lot more. Lots of seasonal offerings like vegetables, fruit, flowers, herbs, berries, honey, jams, maple syrup, berries, seedlings, goat cheese, beef, pork, chicken, bacon, sausage, perennials, eggs are just a few of the items that you can find huddled among the Portland Public Library, shops and open- air restaurants. All the while, Our Lady of Victories keeps an eye over the entire affair.
She's taking in the whole scene.
And probably planning a little shopping on the side.
"Let's see snap peas, beets, couple of ears of corn..."

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Guitar Sale

If you're looking for an electric or acoustic guitar, mandolin, ukulele, or violin, there are many places around town that will welcome your visit. Here's a unique stand that caught my eye the other day at Monument Square. Is this how the Beatles and Stones got their start? Are these two cute little ladies, decked out in their colorful sun dresses, ready to give the Indigo Girls a run for the spotlight in a few years? You never know what's  in your cards. Back on August 15, 1965, 55,000 screaming fans saw the Beatles in NYC at Shea Stadium. I was NOT among the the throng, but I do know someone who caught the show. My friend Judd won a free ticket by calling into a radio station. I think it was WJAB. I wouldn't believe her when she told us she was going to Shea. I remember her telling us that they left Portland on a bus in the morning, traveled to NYC, took in the concert, got back on the bus and headed back. It was a whirlwind day, but I'm sure it's forever etched in her memory. I think I was a bit jealous. No, I know I was a lot jealous! It was 1965! It was the Beatles! There was nothing bigger in the states that summer.
btw Beatles '65 is one of my all time favorite albums.
That summer rushes back when I hear it begin.
"No Reply"...
That lucky Judd!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Hey Chuck

Son: "Dad, how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?"
Dad: "A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood."
What the heck is that racket? I looked up towards the garden and one of our outbuildings and wondered if Elenka was banging around up there. And then I remembered. The day before yesterday, I had set my Havahart trap up in the garden in an attempt to corral the latest varmint attacking my veggies. In the morning, I checked the trap and had nothing, but I guess an afternoon snack was just too much of a temptation for him. In the preceding days, he had helped himself to some of my lettuce, the leaves of my bush beans, and half of my beet greens. Heck, he mowed down my swiss chard! He had to go. I usually dump any invading critters I catch along the river, far away. Last evening I took this guy only about 3 miles away to an abandon softball field. Let's see if he makes his way back. I doubt it.
There. 
One mission accomplished.
I'll reset the trap this morning to see if there might be any 'family members' around.
There usually are.
After that?
I'll be tackling another age old question.
Which came first chicken or egg?
Wish me luck.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Country Linvin'

I remember first hearing the Aesop Fable tale of the "City Mouse and the Country Mouse" back in elementary school. Of course, there are many versions of the story but the outcome moral rings the same 'I'd rather gnaw a bean then be gnawed by continual fear'. Basically, city dwelling and country living both have their pluses and minuses. Stepping out of your house or apartment and within a few blocks walk, be in the middle of it all sure has its draw, but we chose the country alternative many years ago and we've never looked back.  No regrets having made that choice. And as for 'fear', these days it's not confined to one locale. You can locate it easily in both places, and it certainly can find you if it wants you. Down the road, being closer to the city will certainly be a decision we'll ponder.
City life?
Country life?
Draw your card.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Afternoon Drenching

And the rains came...
It used to be fun, surviving an afternoon thunder and lightening storm with my arms stretched toward the heavens, standing in the middle of our backyard baseball diamond. Rain pelting down, soaking every single inch of a twelve year old's body. Was it my little way to say, "You can't hurt me"? I'd race through the breezeway and shed into the kitchen shaking in total wetness. Truly, every inch of my body wringing wet. In the middle of the kitchen Mom had only one word for me. "Strip"! I immediately took everything off right down including my 'tighty whities', which were soaked and dripping too, and left them in a haphazard pile on the linoleum. Uncontrollably shivering, I raced up the back stairs to my bedroom and jumped under the covers to dry, still amid the flashing of lightening bolts in my window and the pounding torrential rain over my head
True story.
"You can't hurt me"?
I'm smarter now.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Sky Warning

Sometimes things are not as they seem. Often they are more; lots of times they return way less. This was a scary sky that drifted overhead Monday afternoon. It looked dreadful and ominous, but it was just a little ol' pussycat. Nothing became of this scary look above. Problems in other areas nearby however. Now, yesterday around here it was another matter. All morning and most of the afternoon, it was sticky, humid with a perfectly blue sky. While finishing up some painting, I heard distant rumblings of thunder for two hours or so. Later, some gray clouds covered the sky and it got dark, but nothing like pictured here from the day before. All of a sudden there was a clap of thunder that sounded more like a huge stick of dynamite. The sound lasted about 5 seconds or so. No rumble. It sounded like an explosion. Had never heard something like this storm-related, ever. The skies unloaded. Torrential rain that looked like fog. It was so heavy. Then came the dime-sized hail. They sort of resembled little sticks in a way. Pretty much covered the driveway. It was a rat-ta-tat-tat on the bulkhead, leading to the cellar, for about 15 minutes or so. We had two waves of heavy rain and hail covering about two hours. Then it was over.
One day sinister heavens.
Nothing.
Another, innocent milky gray.
Kaboom!
Weather's a funny thing.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Lobster Pots

Steamin'!
The outside lobster pots were loaded when we visited Stewman's Lobster Pound recently on our trip to Bar Harbor. When I'm out to a restaurant, my summer menu selection usually gravitates towards a meal that I can't get at home. Lobsters are easy to prepare. For me, the most difficult 'mountain to climb' in the enjoyment of this Maine succulent delicacy is the price per pound. It fluctuates quite a bit throughout the year, usually peaking during the summer tourist season. Here they are cooked over a wood-fired oven. At home, the recipe is simple: fill our lobster pot about 3/4 full of water, bring to a boil, look away and drop in the soon to be tasty crustaceans into the steaming water for about 20 minutes. They enter a dull greenish hue and come out bright red. Regardless to what PETA dishes out, you will hear no screams, and it's a pretty painless operation for Mr. and Mrs. Lobster. Next, sit back and enjoy the feast. The tail and the claws contain the most meat. Whether you've got a hard or soft shell, melt some butter, crack them open and let the pleasurable activity commence.
Out the other night, we did partake in couple of lobster rolls at the Harraseeket Lobster Pound.
Delicious too!
Do it yourself or let someone else prepare them.
The results will both be scrumptious!
Pass the butter, please. 
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm.  

Monday, August 3, 2015

Moose Stare

Don't panic.
It's a sculpture.
But if you ever were to hit one of these, say on the Maine Turnpike going about 70 MPH, you're probably dead. Run-ins with moose are usually lethal. In the collision, the front bumper will break their legs, and because of their height (ave. 6ft 6in. at shoulders), they will slide across the hood, smash through the windshield and crush the occupants. Not a pretty picture at all. They are drawn to roadways in winter to lick the salt that is deposited to melt the snow and ice. Maine does have a controversial moose hunting season used to thin the herd. Other than hunters, bears and wolves are its natural predators. A sighting is quite amazing. I've seen them traveling the Golden Road in the Great North Woods and hiking in Baxter State Park on my way up Mt. Katahdin. They are quite a  majestic animal when seen in the wild. FACT. I have had an actual run-in with a cow (female) on Running Hill Road in Scarborough back a few years. It was just after dusk and luckily my headlights lit up her eyes and I braked. She slid across my front bumper and was knocked to the ground. She got up and ambled off into the woods. My car went sideways and ended up off in a ditch. I forgot to mention my 'sighting' to Elenka that night, and the next morning she asked what happened to the front of her Honda. "What are you talking about?" I said. I went out and looked. The bumper and parts of the hood of her car were covered with moose hair.
Whew!
That was my close call.
Word of caution here.
Driving at night in our state?
Drive defensively.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Cashin' In

It was a night of: "Modern Blue", "The Sunken Lands", "Etta Tune", "The Long Way Home",  50,000 Watts","I'm Moving On", "Long Black Veil", "Ode To Billie Joe", "When the  Master Calls the Roll", "World of Strange Design", "Night School", "Money Road", "Tennessee Flat Top Box", "Seven Year Ache", "Heartaches By the Numbers" and a few more. Under a perfectly warm Maine summer evening under the stars, we met Rosanne Cash for about and hour and forty minutes. What a beautiful voice! The majority of the selections were from her highly acclaimed latest album The River & the Thread and The List. She introduced most of her songs with some brief pieces of background, and when she was not playing the guitar, her hands were constantly in motion to enhance the emotion of the music. She seemed so honestly appreciative of her audience. Such a personal touch. During most of the numbers the audience was eerily quiet. Just listening so respectfully to an artist at work. "Black Veil", Ode To Billie Joe", "Seven Year Ache" and "Heartaches By the Numbers" were my favorites. Why do I get goosebumps everytime I hear that "Seven Year Ache"?
That voice.
That woman.
Those words.
That melody.
It was a night. 
When she left the stage, she walked to the back of the packed lawn right by us. She made her way within two feet of us, made eye contact, smiled at Elenka, and thanked us for listening.
We 'cashed in' for sure. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Theme Day: Bicycle

Today, August 1, is Theme Day across the world-wide  CDP (citydailyphoto) blog community. Can you think of an image that better encapsulates a warm August summer day than a bike ready for action? Sure you could, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a better one. I still remember the afternoon in July that I got my brand new JC Higgins model. Bright red with silver fenders, I was the envy of the neighborhood. Ok, I made that last sentence up in my imagination, but I envied myself, if it is possible do that. It had front and rear hand brakes, and I bet I rode it up and down Stevens practicing using them hundreds of times. It was a work bike. When I got my paper route, I put wire baskets on the back able to lug 75 newspapers through the neighborhood. It was a fun bike. Back then, we did everything it seemed and went everywhere on our bicycles. Night or day, rain or snow or hot blazing sun, we had them with us. It was my friend. I'm not exaggerating either. We were inseparable. I fell in love with it. It was a big boy bike. With silver fenders, white-wall tires, silver light on the front, a comfortable seat and a little, black, faux leather pouch hanging off the seat for 'secret stuff', we were made for each other. It served me well all through those growing up years. Well, at least until I got my Honda. Then it was bye-bye.
Best friends.
Through the good days and the not so good.
The not so good days?
Rainy days.
But then again, rain and bikes were fun too.
Boys, bikes and rain: an entirely different dimension.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Waiting Game

Life isn't always perfect.
Sometimes it rains on the best of parades. I've got a few years under my belt, and I've come to realize a couple of truisms. You've got to let life come to you. Now, on first reflection you're probably saying we don't really have a choice in the  matter. Life will do what life will do. I say seek out what you want. Prepare with the best of them. If you are depending on luck to assist you, you'll be waiting a long time. Being relegated to a holding pattern can be a beneficial ingredient in any choice looming on the horizon. One day happiness, the next tears. Patience is good though sometimes hard to locate in our world today. Don't plan for perfection. It ain't gonna occur that way. Let it try to find you.
It will.
These clouds will lift.
The sun will break through.
Just maybe not on your terms.
Today, looking up...
I'd bring the umbrella, if I were you.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Harbor Night

Night closes in on Bar Harbor on July 25.
This is the view from Jane's balcony at the Bar Harbor Inn. Quite spectacular, yet pleasantly serene. Growing up, the task of babysitting us kids, while Mom took Sister Adelaide and Sister Marie out for fried clams, often fell to Jane, and I for one took on the responsibility of trying to drive her crazy. As I remember, she took  most of my antics with a smile. "Oh Mark, ..." I must say; she hasn't changed much. Her easy going nature is still a strong attribute that makes you want to spend time with her. I like to think that I know quite a bit about our family's bloodlines, but she puts me to shame. Ask her anything about the three sisters Josie (my grandmother), Frances (her grandmother), Aunt Bea or their brother Howard, and she's a walking Wikipedia. Jane can recall our family's glories and their sins. Each time I see her she seems to reveal little known trinkets about our family's travails that I never knew, let alone remember.
Knowing Jane, she probably knows stuff about me that I don't even know about me.
Heck, about little ol' me?
Probably shouldn't see the light of day.
... or night for that matter.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wobbly Bench

It looks like this bench is going to be needing some attention pretty soon. It might be heading sideways, with a crash, at anytime now. I had a little help as I was setting up to take this shot the other afternoon. The young, blonde chap in the window of this cafe was waving at me and making stupid faces constantly, as I attempted to photograph the blue bench amid this display of flowers. I had to chuckle to myself. When my parents were away, distracted with one of the other kids or ordering ice cream for us, this was certainly something that I would have pulled. This kid was pretty persistent in his antics too. His expressions and arms were in a constant state of motion for a time. He must have been a wee bit disappointed, as I snapped and moved on down the street.
It's not often that you get a living, breathing glance at the 'back then'.
Sunday afternoon, I think I might have.
Look closely.
It's me!
Back then.
Smile!
It's a candid camera.