Tuesday, October 6, 2015


When I bought my brand new, yellow Camaro, one of the first places I took it was to the Casco Bank at Morrills Corner to show my Dad. He walked around it, gave it the once over, shook his head and smiled. He said, "M- I've never had anything like this." Now, a little background is needed here. We're talking about a guy who had a Cobra Mustang,  a couple of Jags, multiple MG A and Bs, a beautiful aqua T-roof Thunderbird and an old black Mercedes in our driveways in my formative years. That statement stunned me. I couldn't understand it. I do now. J&Y's digs at their apartment complex in Northwest Austin is something I could never imagine living in before I was 30. It's an amazing place. Pool. Fitness Center. Community Building. The apartment itself is a far cry from the their Cumberland Avenue place. Compared to our first place on South Street, it's so much more. They are so lucky. Times have changed. Lifestyles have changed.
I can honestly say, before 30, "I never had anything like this."
Lucky them!
By the way, what I would give to have any of those cars in my driveway today.
Including that sleek Camaro.

Monday, October 5, 2015


It was Saturday.
College Football Saturday.
Plenty of games in Texas.
I didn't watch a one.
I was busy!
We broke the border before noon at Texarkana and stopped at a very welcoming Welcome Center. This big, black Toyota Highlander in the parking lot let us know we had made it. We posed for pictures in cowboy hats waving a sign that read "Howdy, From Texas!", raided the Austin area tour guide section and were on our way. We wanted to make it to Austin by late afternoon, and we were right on schedule. Along the way, we passed near Mt. Pleasant, Sulphur Springs, Dallas, Waxahachie, Waco, Temple, Georgetown along with many others. In Waco, we passed right by the Baylor University football stadium. From the highway, you could see the stands were packed. The roads weren't. We sailed! We finally pulled into the apartment complex in the Bull Creek area (Northwest of Austin) about 5:45, and Justin met us there in the parking lot with the widest grin.
Was it for us?
Maybe it was his Audi, that he missed so much!
Anyway, we had made it.
2084.8 miles from our driveway!
From 'Ayah to Y'all' in 4 pretty easy days.
It was an experience!

Sunday, October 4, 2015


As day 3 dawned in some steady rain, our plan was to attempt to run the state of Tennessee and make it into Arkansas by nightfall. After about four hours, the rain let up and it was clear sailing. Sitting on the porch a few days before setting out, with a couple of maps and a AAA TripTik in hand, our plan was to make it to the Lone Star State sometime Sunday, but once we were rolling, we both had late Saturday afternoon firmly in mind. You see, we had given my Garmin to J&Y, for their trip seemed a bit more convoluted. Besides, I swear to the Almighty, give Elenka 10 minutes with any foreign road map, and she has most twists and turns committed to memory. She's a map genius! She had written the routes in each state down in a notebook and that was pretty much all we needed. Smart phones with GPS's be damned! Really, our trip wasn't complicated after we got into Pennsylvania. It was pretty much a straight shot through most of the states. This day took us across the Volunteer State via Routes 81 and 40. Some beautiful mountains off in the distance to the left and right kept us company throughout the day. Our path took us near Knoxville, Nashville, and Memphis (hello Elvis!). It's a very pretty state, and we did find that 1.83 a gallon for Unleaded Regular somewhere in our day. In late afternoon, across the border into Arkansas we went. Little Rock looked like a nice landing spot. Justin found us a good room rate near the highway, and we settled there for the night.
Subs for dinner.
Day three was history.
Tomorrow brings the final push.

Saturday, October 3, 2015


*with apologies to Pee Wee Herman.

We were off!
When you know what's ahead, there's no need to panic. We pulled out of our driveway at about 10:30 AM last Wednesday, and our 'big adventure' was on the road. Our first night was all planned. We stayed with Elenka's sister Judith and her husband Anthony in Bloomfield NJ. We've been to their place so many times our car could have driven us there on its own. We spent an enjoyable and restful evening with them at their home. The next morning, we got an early start topping off the tank and grabbing a couple of coffees at Dunkin Donuts. Heck, we were in Garden State Parkway traffic by 8:30! We really made out quite well though. A little on the Parkway and a little on Rt. 78 heading into PA, and that was about it for any heavy traffic the entire way. My corn back home is still pretty green compared with this crop at our first rest stop. By the end of this our second day, we had driven through 11 states: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, and into Tennessee. It seems like a lot of driving, but we really didn't push ourselves. The second night we spent, just after we had crossed the Tennessee border, in Bristol. We got settled in our room, and then headed just a short drive to get some tacos. The car was loaded with the kids' stuff, so we travelled light, one small suitcase and two backpacks. Oh, yes, I almost forgot. We did have an audio book. It was a big one. John Irving's Until I Find You, all 35 1/2 hours of listening pleasure. We love Irving!
So, that's it.
Life on the road to Texas
Day two in the books.

Friday, October 2, 2015


I love to drive long distances.
Elenka, not so much.
This is our our story.
The ride is free. 
Come along.
Well, some of you might remember that last month Justin and Yelena packed up and headed to Texas. Austin to be exact. They had to transport two cars to the Southwest, and we really didn't want them to take both cars at the same time. Two drivers in one car was a safer way to go; we told them. They were not taking a direct shot to get there either. They first traveled right down the East coast to Florida to visit Babka, Justin's grandmother and took a few assorted side trips. After about 17 days or so, they and the red WRX were finally settled in the Lone Star State. After talking them out of taking both cars at the same time, I suggested that Elenka and me could drive J's Audi to Austin for them. I was game from the start. Elenka had her doubts. We had both been to Texas before but never driven from Maine. 
There's a first time for everything, you know. 
So, last week we did. 
Over the next few days, I'll take you along on OUR ride.
Free up some time and come along.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Theme Day- Shelter

Today, October 1, 2015, is Theme Day across the CDP (citydailyphotoblog) world-wide community carrying this month's theme of "Shelter". Yes, I thought about beach umbrellas, canopies, homeless centers, bus stops in the rain and even lean-tos from childhood, but one type of shelter has been occupying a lot of my mind these days. What do you think it is? If you thought my new plywood floor woodshed, you were correct. Yes, I wish I could dwell for a few more weeks in 90 degree days, but I'm a realist at heart and like the ant in Aesop's "The Ant and the Grasshopper", I do so know winter days are lurking on my doorstep.
So the woodshed photo is a perfect way to relay this concept.
Take 'shelter from the storm', my friends.
No, Dylan didn't restore my floor.
But good friend Curt did.
Stupid Grasshopper!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


How are your gas prices doing? Ours keep inching downward.
I filled up here recently and was pretty happy that I sort of lost my way and found this CITGO. Prices around the city are a bit higher than this, mostly in the 2.20's. On the road last week I paid 1.83. While on the road long distance, I look for PILOT or TA stations with their tall signs that beckon me. Stations that long-haulin' truckers visit are a highway oasis that I want to pull over and visit.
Besides, they have lots of food, black coffee and loads of stupid stuff'.
And you know how 'stupid stuff' pulls me.
Look at that set of Hot Wheels' Mustangs!
Ah, just what I need.
It's a 40 channel CB radio.
"It's your Birdman, Good Buddy!"

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Dory Life

Just off Dock Square in the heart of Kennebunkport, there's a small restaurant called Three Dories. I've never taken a seat at a table there and probably never will. At first sight, I thought, now this is what a retirement lifestyle is all about. Just drifting. Doing little. No commitments. Just hangin'. On further reflection, the truth came. Today, this is the epitome of the opposite. Retirees are not bobbing in place waiting for the end. They are out and about, constantly on the move. Doing all sorts of maneuvers, reaching places they've never been, meeting new faces, accepting new challenges head on. In lots of ways, they're 'working' harder than they ever have.
Working at trying to have lots of fun that is.
Off to some water today.
Details coming soon.
Hint: I won't be bobbing about.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Shopping Trip

Well, if you are shopping for groceries in the Portland, like most cities and towns, you have quite a few choices. Mom and Pop stores can still be found in just about every neighborhood. And sure places, like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, are always lurking about. But for us die hard residents, it pretty much comes down to Shaw's Supermarkets or Hannaford's Supermarkets. From my non-statistical research, I'd say that you are either a Shaw's or a Hannaford's devotee. Most people do not crossover , back in forth. Enter Elenka. She is one frugal shopper. If there's a special sale on some item, especially meats, she has no shame. She's doing a crossover, and I'm not talking about any tricky dribbling display with a basketball. Me? I really don't mind shopping at all, but please, just get me that list and let me run the aisles.
I stick to Hannaford's.
I know my way around most of their stores.
Sometimes though, I can be thrown a curveball.
For example, milled flaxseed?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Working Shoes

We spent a day last week in and around Kennebunkport taking in some sights and grabbing some lunch. We thought, with schools in session and many tourists heading back to maintain their lives, the crowds would be down. We were wrong. We had miscalculated a bit. We had not factored in the big tour busses. It was a very enjoyable adventure for us. In a small park close to the water there is this sculpture dedicated to the men and women who have worked the sea. We've been to the 'port many times but seem to have missed it on previous trips. After taking it all in, my eyes were drawn to their footwear, rugged, tough and ready for anything the day at sea might bring.
My work boots and Sperrys pale in comparison.
Wonderful details, yes?

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Drive By

I don't know if this is a Maine phenomenon or not. Does this happen in other states? In other places? Here's the scene. There are one or two beach chairs sitting in a garage or at the top of the driveway. Two best friends... maybe a husband and wife team? What do they do? Just sit in their chairs and watch cars and trucks drive by. Up in Freeport, I think, there's a chap who sits by the road and waves for hours. What's up with this? I've got too much to do in these days of leisure. Maybe they might be interested in helping me to stack some wood, split some kindling, or help me finish painting the house this fall. And that's not even including what Elenka has planned for this poor soul. You know the list  will be long. After all, if I was ever regulated to a beach chair in my yard watching the world go by,  you better believe it would be somewhere so I'd have a good views of trees, flowers and the color green. This chair was sitting along the running path of Back Cove. Whose is it? What is it used for? Perhaps someone is not sure if there is a high or, low tide and they are waiting for proof. The day I captured this image no occupant was anywhere in site.
What do you think it's all about?
Want to wager a guess?
Oh well, can't stop.
Plenty on my plate. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Prancing Gargoyles

She's to blame!
It's all Gloria's fault.
I've talked about my Aunt Gloria before. It's all her fault. She sent me my first camera from a PX on an airbase in Germany. It got into my little grubby hands in July of my 11th year and I have been photographing ever since. The first photos that I had Mom run and develop at the Rexall Drug at the corner were taken on the Nelson's porch of a bunch of best friend hanging out. Let's see, I captured Billy, Linda, Eddie, Leo, Skipper, Judy, Judd and a few others as I remember. 
Say Cheese!
And another thing, she also turned me on to gargoyles. During my eighth grade year at Lincoln Junior, she sent me a pair of gargoyle bookends, again another birthday present. I spent nights in bed rolling the ceramic bookends around in my hands. I never suffered any nightmares from this gift. I probably should have. I think I even remember doing a writing assignment on them for Ms Storer in 8th Grade.
My love of cameras came from her.
My love of gargoyles came from her.
Thank you Gigi!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Another Bridge

Here we have another bridge. It's much smaller, spans the Presumpscot River and is a part of the Allen Avenue Ext. In the foreground, you can see the beginning of the Presumpscot River Preserve Trail. It's a very walkable trail of about a mile and a quarter. This photo was taken about 8 AM, and as you might be able to see carries a lot of commuter traffic headed to the city. Now, we're not talking Garden State Parkway rush hour traffic, but there's always a steady flow using it weekdays. Let's see bottomline: if you're working, you are flying above over the asphalt, if you are retired, you might be taking a leisurely stroll, under the span along this trail to the small Presumpscot Falls.
And no, I don't know if Bonnie has painted this span.
But I will be asking.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Gray Subject

I was searching along the water's edge yesterday morning. On a bit of a quest. You see, my friend Bonnie is an artist, and she often uses bridges around the area as her subjects. This is one of her latest. It's Tukey's Bridge, a stretch of Route 295 that links the neighborhoods of East Deering and Munjoy Hill. Growing up, maybe because there was water on either side of the overpass, I always thought it was 'Two Keys' Bridge not Tukey's. I've always thought it was a funny name. Facts be told, the bridge was named for Lemuel Tukey. He was a tax collector and a tavern owner from this area of the city in the late 18th Century. Anyway, she paints quite often with her trusty companion, Paulie, nearby and a dispenser of mace at the ready. She tells me often, while working, she's approached by people, most who are just interested in seeing her work, but some who are rather shady looking characters. Hence the mace. Now, I'm not a painter and have never asked her what she calls her 'bridgework. As an outsider, I'd call it pretty abstract. In some of her work you'd be hard pressed to discover a bridge span; however, I do love her colors and designs. There's a lot more color in them then all the gray I'm offering this morning.
Now, I know what you are thinking.
No, I've never approached her while she's painting.
Besides, I'm a suspicious character not shady... or sketchy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Veg Out

Do you own a juicer?
Have you ever used one?
On the weekends the infomercials for them are all over the dial. Now, I'm going to admit something here. I'm kind of infatuated with them. Whether it's veggie smoothie or one made of all kinds of fruit combinations, I'm under a spell. Maybe it the swirling concoctions blending all the colors  Swirling, swirling, swirling! You know, now that I think about it, it might just be that whirring sound that has captured my imagination. What ever it is, I can't avert my eyes. 'Look away. It's hideous!" Would I like to use one? Sure. You betcha! I'd be to afraid that I'd buy one, use it a couple of times and then it would disappear into one of our 'black holes', otherwise known as our kitchen cabinets never to be seen again. And that's the truth. However, would I ever put my plastic down and buy one of those Magic Bullets or other dynamic machines?
But it is fun to watch all the 'action'.
I'm spellbound.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Tipped Urn

My sister Joanne, hanging out in Oregon, knows that Elenka and I like to pick up and head out at a moment's notice. She's building a beautiful home in Bend and has been having some ironwork done by artisan out there. In her conversations with Joe, she discovered that his brother owns a farm and greenhouse in Kennebunk, Maine about an hour away by the back roads we take. So last Thursday, we found ourselves on an excursion to Snug Harbor Farm, a small, charming complex of greenhouses, nurseries, gardens, with miniature horses, exotic chickens and birds in cages. Out front facing the street is an old rambling farmhouse, which doubles as an office and a meandering gift shop, with loads of interesting items ready to take home. His brother, Tony, was not at the farm that day, so we missed making a contact, but I left word of our mutual connection out West with a gal working in one of the greenhouses. After my slow stroll through the downstairs' rooms, my conclusion would be that this shop might be just the place to stop when searching out a gift for that special person in your life who has the proverbial 'everything'.
Now, to answer your question.
No, I didn't buy anything, but I spotted a few things.
I have a good memory, you know.
After all that we were hungry.
Off to Kennebunkport and lunch at David's KPT- The Boathouse.
Lunch was on their sunny deck overlooking the 'port'.
Fabulous way to end another day in paradise.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


It not often that you find one of these off a rally track and on a city street. I was taking some pictures of it and another guy was doing the same. "Pretty nice". I said. His retort was simply, "This could get you up and get you there." I had to agree. This GT looked like it would be right at home running the track at Watkins Glen or some place similar. Nice leather seats and a dashboard that looked to have plenty of  complicated instruments that would keep me occupied for awhile. Now, the extremely tight back seat (if that's what you call it) was thought-provoking. It had two metal lobster traps stuffed in it.
Only in Maine, I guess.
You make the call.
* Dad, on his birthday, would have loved to take a spin.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Just Moo

Hook 'Em Horns!
Ok, this is not a longhorn steer, but it will have to do. The latest news from this corner of my world is that Justin and Yelena have pulled up stakes and moved to Austin, Texas. Let me take a breath. Yelena has a friend in Austin, who she visited a few years ago and fell in love with the city. Justin and Yelena are in love, so I guess the move was the next logical step for them. For two Maine homebodies like Elenka and I, it's hard to find the logic, but we know regrets down the road can be hard to manage. What do they say, 'fish gotta swim; birds gotta fly'. They've settled into a beautiful apartment complex northwest of the city and seem so very happy together. Thanks to 'facetime' we have been able to keep track of their comings and goings, but of course it's not the same. Justin, when he makes a move, likes the 'big' step. For example, he headed off to IU for college (22 hours away), but we always knew he'd be returning. This time it seems a bit more long term... and so far away.
But for us, if it's what he truly wants, it's what we want for him.
Does this makes any sense?
I'm sure many of you have faced this same dilemma with kids.
Now, is this a steer?
A bull?
A cow?
Today, it'll have to suffice for a U of Texas longhorn.

Friday, September 18, 2015

A Plum

"I've got a plum."

Are you at all claustrophobic?
Do you like small places?
I do.
I enjoyed my four years of dorm life. I found it greatly to my liking.
At home here I have a very small den, loaded with books and photos. It has a small TV that is just perfect to wall myself away with a late night baseball game on a warm July night or the Patriots on a frozen December Sunday. But to tell you the truth, I don't think I could ever  survive working at a place the size of PLUM. Could you? Way to tiny even for a guy who likes to get cozy. For a whole different reason the place haunts me though. I don't even like to read the word when I pass the structure.
"I've got a plum."These were Mom's words to me on a Christmas break home from college. Out of the blue she said, "I've got a plum." 
"What?", I said.
"I've got a plum." She repeated. 
I thought she was going crazy. With her 4 growing teens, it would have been easy to do.
"What are you talking about?" Was my refrain.
Any idea what she was up to?
Ever heard that expression?
Well, sad to say, she claimed she had caught my father in a mild indiscretion.
Is that a nice way to put it?
I had never heard that expression before.
I hope to never hear it again.
... a pin prick to the 'balloon of life' for me. 
Quite a plum...

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Split

We learn new things everyday.
I did today.
However, somethings remain mysteries.
This is the old H.H. Hay Drug store at Congress Square. The Square spits here. To the left is Congress Street the city's so called main thoroughfare. The construction of the Maine Mall in South Portland in 1971 pretty much 'stuck a dagger to the heart' of this once bustling street of department stores, movie theaters and restaurants. It's been on the rebound over the last 20 years or so, but it still struggles for its new identity. To the right is Free Street. Travel down this avenue and you'll find Portland's oldest bar, the Cross Insurance Area home to the Portland Pirates and various concerts, and lots of little shops. Here's what I learned today. Long ago Mom always remarked to me that she worked at H.H. Hay Drug, and I thought it was in this classic flat iron building. What I found out was that there was another Hay's Drug, also in a flat iron building, at the corner of Congress and Middle streets called H. H. Hay Apothecary. This one was identified as 'lower', and the one at the Square was the 'upper'. I never knew this. I do now. And I'm going to check out this second building to see if it is still standing. Details to follow.
So, Mom worked at Hay Drug, but which one?
I always thought I knew.
Not so fast, Bird!
A mystery lingers.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Green Sneaks

Green is very cool.
Back at my old stomping grounds, another year is underway. Each recent September, the first day begins with the staff decked out in t-shirts with an upbeat positive saying on the back. This year was no different. Since I live nearby, I got a call in August for a favor. "Will you take a photo of us?" Someone also got the idea to add another special touch to the day: green Converses. You see, green and white are the school colors. Well, at least 5 took them up on it. Not a great percentage, considering you're talking a school staff of over 100. Oh well, maybe it'll catch on during the year, and there's always next September. After all, sometimes fads start slow and build to a crescendo.  I'm an optimist, you know. 
I WAS disappointed in one aspect of this fashion statement though. 
All of them were low cuts.
Not a hightop in sight.
Converse hightops are very cool.
BE Pride!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Beach Trail

Here's a shortcut through the dunes laced along the way with fading summer flowers. Summer's hanging on around here. Another stretch of the 80s this week, and then as the local meteorologist mentioned on last evening's news, more seasonal temperatures will be headed our way. Like a small child waiting for his turn on the swing at the playground, I think I can hear that faint wail of autumn now, "It's my turn, it's my turn."
My fall 'to do list' grows by the day:
Finish the painting on the driveway side
'Hit the road'
Get me some kindling
Stack the wood
Clean the garage
Organize the workbench, again
Do more clearing up back
Burn some slash
Bring in the birdhouses
Mow lawn
Rake leaves
... and on and on.
How's you list coming?
Keep in mind this is ONLY my list.
I think there's another list (for me) perculating around here somewhere.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Laying Low

It's a cow's life.
I'm sure we've all done it.
Have a small project that can be remedied with some minor supplies and a few labor intensive hours. 
There, job done. 
Ah... not so fast, my friend!
Once you get a little demolition underway, you realize there' a bit more in the offering than you bargained for. Well, case in point. My woodshed, attached to the back of my garage, has been begging for a little TLC the last couple of years. The front edge of the shed gets a lot of snow and ice accumulating in the front over the winter months. I hang a large tarp over the opening to keep the snow and ice away from my wood, but it still piles up there and melts big time in the spring. In 26 years, I've had to replace the plywood flooring once and now a second time. What I didn't realize until I had the old flooring up was that the weight of the cords of wood, a pesky woodchuck and the water damage had seriously damaged the main 2x6s running beneath the floor. My friend Curt, who had done some major work here at the homestead, stopped over to survey the damage and is going to take care of it this week. A job, that I thought I could take care of easily, now will entail some major work. Now, where am I in all of this? Well yesterday, while ripping up the rotting flooring, I threw out my back or something. No problem sitting or sleeping, but at the moment, any up or down movement is out of the question. So, I won't even be able to assist him this afternoon. 
Not good.
Not good at all.
I'll be laying low for a few days.
See, little jobs often do turn into so much more.
Not good at all.
*(shot taken on outer Stroudwater Street... yes, cows in the city proper.)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Blurred Dream

I don't dream much.
Well, at least that I remember.
Do you?
Last night I dreamed a lot. They seemed to follow right after the other. One was quite vivid and scary. I found myself somewhere on a cliff with a couple thousand foot drop. Surely, death would meet me at the bottom. Of all my fright-alarming dreams I have had being on sheer cliffs with no way up or down is the most common. Last night I was peering over a very steep and perpendicular drop. Suddenly, I slipped and found myself slowly sliding over the edge. And get this, I had only one toothpick to stick into the ground as I was slipping away. It was horrifying! How I got back to the top, I'll never know. One single, wooden toothpick. The dream woke me up. I had both my fists clenched. It was unnerving for a few moments. I was wide-eyed. Falling back to sleep, for awhile, was out of the question. This one was chilling. Most dreams that I recall, I get over fast and fall right back to sleep, but not this one. I'm still a bit troubled by it now.
Anybody out there a dream solver?
Yes, I know it supposed to be helping me resolve conflicts in my daily living.
But sliding off a mountain...
On second thought...
Might it really have to do with my fondness for toothpicks?
*(A Sunday AM @Arabica Coffee on Commercial Street)

Saturday, September 12, 2015


A Lockdown?
Be careful.
Things are not always as they appear.
Don't let this photo fool you. 
Lincoln Park is very much open for business year round. It's a rectangular green space bounded by Congress, Federal, Pearl and Market streets. It was created in 1866 following the Great Fire that took most of the buildings down in the city. It was named for President Lincoln and was dedicated on the 100th year anniversary of his birth on February 12, 1909. These days the park is home to a few small summer festivals, and really the only time it got close to a 'lockdown' was when the city finally voted, after about 3 months of having many tents pitched illegally on the grounds, to throw 'Occupy Maine' out of the park for good. However, the chain and lock here have nothing to do with that incident. It seems to secure a large gated opening used to bring in food stands and equipment for the summer festivals.
The park does have nice walkways with assorted iron benches that make for a pleasant stay among its trees and dappled sunshine.
Looks can be deceiving.

Friday, September 11, 2015


After our trip up the Mt. Washington Cog Railway on Tuesday and my photograph at the top of the engine and passenger car, I thought you'd like  a closeup of what the cog really looks like. The dictionary says a cog is: one of a series of teeth, as on the rim of a wheel or gear, whose engagement transmits successive motive force to a corresponding wheel or gear. In this photo you are looking at one of the switchback tracks that's used when two engines are passing. We were heading up at this point. An engine and car coming down from the top would pull over and let us pass, and then the track would be moved back to the left. You can clearly see the teeth in this picture, and in the distance a water tank for the one steam engine that makes the trip once a day. On this narrow gauge track the engine and car just 'zips' along up the mountain. Of course, we're all cogs in the big picture of the world at one time or another. When we function as: a member of an organization who performs necessary but usually minor or routine functions, we're cogs. 
You see.
The railway of life just keeps chuggin' along.
Clickety clack, clickety clack...

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Slingshot Splat

That hurt!
When the acorns began falling, it was time to make our slingshots. Now, you could go to White's 5¢ and 10¢ Store on the corner and buy a steel one, but it was cheaper and a lot for fun to make your own. We usually headed for the line of bushes in our backyard. The branches were so much more pliable then the ones on apple trees nearby. You just had to wade through the trees until you found a 'Y branch' that was not too big or not too small, but just right. That Goldilocks principle "of not to big, not too small etc." made perfect sense in so many cases growing up. This was one of those times. Unlike the one pictured here, ours were not constructed of a single branch split in two. Our search was to attempt find that almost perfect combination of two branches intersecting at a 'perfect' point, while having some good weight to it. It needed to bend but not too much. You see, the search took a bit of time and often suffered through many a trial and error phase. Next, it was off to locate a piece of elastic to wrap around each end. Luckily, my Dad was a letter carrier and kept a drawer full of large, thick elastics that he used to bind big stacks of mail. After construction was complete and trial runs were made, it was off to find ammo. Very small crab apples or the aforementioned acorn, we found the best. They traveled wicked fast and could make one shriek a bit if you were hit. OUCH! Now, when we wanted to drive our moms crazy, we'd load them up with small raspberries or bright red, choke cherries. 
Splat! Splat!
What a mess!
Our white t-shirts would end up covered some days.
What, we worry?
I'm better now.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

6,288 Feet

We took an excursion yesterday.
One of the things we had never done, but certainly something Elenka wanted to do was to ride the cog railway to the top of Mt. Washington.  We can now say that is done. We pulled out of the driveway just after 6 AM, grabbed a couple of coffees and were at Marshfield Station in New Hampshire at about 8. The weather was quite heavily overcast, and we debated a bit about an alternative schedule for the day, as we watched a couple of trains head to the top loaded with passengers. Towards the top the sky looked to be clearing, so we 'bit the bullet' and bought tickets. In retrospect, it was a smart thing to do. The clouds continued to break and at the top you could even feel the warm sun through the cloud cover. The cog railway takes you pretty much straight up the mountain using the 'cog system' to get the job done. Believe it or not, the railroad up the mountain, the dream of Samuel Marsh, has been in operation since 1869. When Marsh displayed his plans for what he wanted to do, he was thought to be totally insane. At the time one of the NH legislators said he might as well continue his tracks straight to the moon. The engines, one steam and 5 bio-diesels, make their runs basically on the half hour. It was a fun-filled adventure for us both up and down. We highly recommend taking this trip to the 6,288 ft. summit. In Elenka's words, "That was so cool and so interesting!" 
Now, I have climbed the mountain 5 times (Elenka 4), but this was certainly a different take on 'mountain climbing'. 
This mountain has a very special meaning for both Elenka and me.
 You see, on a trip down in the fall of 1973, I asked Elenka to marry me. 
AND she said yes!
Making me both a very lucky and happy man. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Park Redesign

Welcome to Congress Square Park. Right now. You might not recognize it in a year or so. 
It sits at the corner of Congress and High Streets tucked between  the Portland Museum of Art and the Westin Portland Harborview Hotel in the heart of the Arts District of the city. These past summer days its been home to weekly movies, various installations, the music scene and food trucks, but there is a plan in the works for it to be so much more. Several designers from around the world have been asked to reimage this vibrant piece of real estate. Hopefully someday soon, it will hardly be recognizable to those looking on it today. And yes, there is a dark underbelly to this placid scene on an early morning sun-dappled shot. The homeless like it too. Just to the left in this photograph is the guts of the old Union Station clock.
Don't get me on a rant about that.
I'm not going there today,
It's too early.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Some Junk

Got junk?
I do.
Don't feel sad.
I've got plenty to share.
What do you need?
I've got a bowl in the den, that I keep wallet and car keys in. They are at the ready. If I need them, I know right where to go. Trouble is there's a lot of other crap 'trapped' inside that 5 inch deep bowl that just refuses to part company with me. Truth be told, this stuff even is not from THAT bowl. This is from a dish on our hutch cabinet that Elenka set aside for basically my spare change. Pretty sad, huh? Like a good plague, it just has spread like a wildfire. THAT bowl, you know that other container, now, when my wallet and keys have been deposited is overflowing. Ya, I'm sort of a pack rat. But where do I put this stuff. Every few months or so, I sit down really determined to do 'some damage' and throw out stuff, but I always seem to find important reasons to reclaim a lot of it. Look here. Keys that don't work, bracelets, a college ring, a couple of watches, my Dad's WW2 dog tags, his rosary, a few thumb drives, a couple of rocks, two Santa pins, more assorted pins that I have accumulated over the years...
What's it all about?
Am I in trouble?
Did I tell you about the draw in the living room?
Hey, is there a group meeting of 'junk anonymous' nearby?
A sad commentary on my times?
"Hi, I'm Birdman, and I'm a junk-aholic."