Monday, December 31, 2012

The Burren

A section of the Burren - click to enlarge
  The Burren is a karst formation in County Clare, Ireland; a part of it is one of six National Parks in Ireland.
  I was reading a magazine about people who traveled to China, the part was all of those steep sided mountains that look like fangs are.  So I read a little bit online about them and learned that they are "Karst Formations".  That means that the bedrock is soluble, limestone for example, the rock dissolves over time and leave the hard rock.  Think Grand Canyon, it's that type of erosion.
  In Ireland the karst is not shaped like those in China or other places; it's flat rolling hills and barren.  It's amazing just in the photos.
  You'll notice the cracks in the surface the longer vertical cracks are called Grikes and the short horizontal cracks are Glints, so the surface may look like paving stones.
  For more information go to or and search for The Burren or Karst Formations.
Grikes and clints, and wildflowers - click to enlarge
A fence on The Burren, made from stone of course - click to enlarge

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Just a little help for the flour mill

The Pillsbury A Mill c.1900 - click to enlarge
 I recently read that the Pillsbury A Mill in Minneapolis was listed as in grave danger if work was not started on restoration of the mill complex.  Relief is on the way!
  Pillsbury built it's A mill on the banks of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis in the 1890's.  The mills capacity of 5000 barrels of flour a day outstripped all other flour mills which averaged 500 barrels.
In 2005 - click to enlarge
  With two water tunnels each driving a water wheel there were 2400 horsepower ready for doing the mills work.  Over the course of productive life there was never an explosion (flour dust is combustible) so the original wooden framework is still in place.  Vibration of the work has called for the buildings to be reinforced from time to time and the top of the building now has bowed out so that the top is 22 inches larger than the bottom of the A building.
The A building in 2010, the bow is noticeable to some - click to enlarge

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The river got cold

The Penobscot River and Milford Dam appear frozen in this photo - click
Photo: Barb Sosman
It looks like the river froze,
by God I think it did.
You think it's frozen?  You think it did?
I didn't know, I went and hid.

I needed an escape, just what could I do?
The damned river froze. Yup, that's what it did.
It snowed forever here, how about you?
I froze the river over. Yup, that's what it did.

Now you could walk to Milford, couldn't you?
All the way from Old Town, if you watched your toes.
It was cold and snowy, we didn't know what to do,
We may be "up the creek" now that the river froze.

Disclaimer: This is pure fiction, the "river froze" in top photo was a cold and snowy day
in 2009.  This last snow was only about 9 inches.  You can't believe much of what my
imagination writes.
The same site - unfrozen - click to enlarge
Photo Linda Grant
Seen from space, Milford top right, Old Town bottom left
photos above taken from or near that little green tree. - click to enlarge
Photo: Google Earth

Friday, December 28, 2012

It ain't a whole lot. Yet.

Not the right kind of biscuits
A pan of pretty biscuits, just waiting for me,
to shovel all the snow from underneath the tree;
the tree is large and mighty, with a large spread.
Shovel all of this?  To earn my daily bread?

You see, now, what this storm means in all our lives,
a chance to shovel 'til hearts content, and get some cold hives.
Fun for all the way I see it.  It's money in the bank.
But I don't understand at all, and that's being frank.

Useless work on useless stuff, unless you ski a lot;
hey, it's them ski guys, I think I see a plot.
Ski guys, they wear those masks when they rob the banks;
catch them, catch them all and give them 30 spanks.

DISCLAIMER:  This is a work of fiction (as if you didn't know).  It is not intended to cast
blame on ski guys.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

It's going to snow.

Some snowflakes (real ones) - click to enlarge
It's going to snow today, I read it in the paper,
maybe a Noreaster' and a foot or more,
it's going to snow today, just a friendly caper,
I just don't know what people worry for.

It's going to snow today, several feet or more,
I hardly believe it, but I'll wait and see,
I'm beginning to understand what people worry for,
it's going to snow today, I saw it on TV.

It's going to snow today, nobody knows when it's gonna end,
maybe four feet or more, and that's a real good bet;
now I know why people worry - oh, we're 'round the bend,
it's going to snow today, it's on the Internet!
Shoveling makes the blood flow like a fountain,
it's going to snow today - go tell it on the mountain.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Senior coffee, black

Black coffee in a paper cup
When I go for coffee, each day at five AM,
the orders the same, as it's always been,
senior coffee black, it's not hard to understand;
no cream or sugar NO, I like mine kind of bland.

I don't want banana-licorice, or coconut toast,
just the kind of coffee like you used to roast,
no orange marmalade double cream parfait,
senior coffee black, it's real easy to say.

Senior coffee black - no, nothing on the side,
I don't want strawberry creme double scoop slide,
no espresso supreme chocolate surprise,
and thank you no, I don't want any fries.

I'm a plain coffee guy, that's just the way I am,
and I kind of think, this coffee stuffs a scam.
Why all the excitement with plain old black joe,
without all the extras, and I don't want it to go.

By this time I'm excited, or pissed off if you please,
I'd grab his skinny throat and give it a squeeze,
when he finally hands me - now get ready for this...
...a senior coffee black, ahhh! Sweet bliss!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Christmas Story, really

You need to read this in Maine language.  Remember the letter "R" is pronounced ahhh not are.  OK?

I was afraid they'd seen me working.

Larry Grant, the geezer

Downeast in Maine it was Feliz Navidad,
And I was at work getting the car from the yard.
Come Hell or high water, I was going to go,
ridin' around, just going to and fro.

Wa'nt nobody with me, so nobody could see,
all of them reindeer, up there in a tree,
there was a red sled too, but nobody around,
then I just happened to look, down there on the ground.

They must have been some guy, that fell from the sled,
his face was all white, but he was covered in red.
then he stood up, scared the hell out of me,
asked me to help him, get his sled out of the tree.

So there's me working.  Working right hard,
got my old chain saw from out of the yard;
chopped down that tree just quick as a wink,
and they was all gone, all in a blink.

Down at the store, the very next day,
I told 'em about it, to see what they'd say,
they all laughed out loud, not even a pause,
told me "you must have seen old Santa Claus!".

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Christmas Bird Count

Belted Kingfisher - click to enlarge
Photo: Dave Small, Photos by chance
  In 1900 the American Audubon Society started to take a count of birds on Christmas day.  This was done to combat the habits of "hunters" who went out and shot birds and animals on Christmas and just left the dead birds and animals in piles to rot.
  Of course there are rules and regulations now and hunters are much more responsible, but the census of birds continues throughout the Western Hemisphere during the Christmas Season.   You will find bird watchers with sound recorders, telescopes, binoculars, notebooks and cameras out and about, busily tracking any species of fowl that they come across.  This is blog number 1300.

                               Hope is the thing with feathers,
                               that perches in the soul,
                               and sings the tune without the words,
                               and never stops at all.

                               And sweetest in the gale is heard;
                               and sore must be the storm,
                               that could abash the little bird
                               that kept so many warm.
                                                     Emily Dickinson
Evening Grosbeak
Photo: Dave Small, Photos by chance

Freeze Frame, Northern Cardinal (female)
  And a couple of birds who flew the coop, and left their work undone:
Not watching out for the little guy

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Nearing years end

March 23 2012 in Racine, Wisconsin - click to enlarge
  I could put photos on here of all the horrors we've seen unfold during 2012, but I won't.  We've seen enough of that stuff already in my opinion.  2012 was a tough year weather wise, crime wise and with the never ending war this country continues for no good reason.
  So I'm choosing to focus on some "happier" moments (it wasn't for the worm).
                          A bird came up the walk,
                          He did not know I saw,
                          He bit an angleworm in half,
                           and ate the fellow raw.
                                             Emily Dickinson
March 8 2012, Faskusfjordur Iceland
Photo - click to enlarge
  Some of natures finest fireworks were seen during the year, the suns surface was active with eruptions.  Long ago in Norway people thought the Northern Lights were the reflections of herring in the ocean.  Inuit people (Eskimo) said the lights were caused by the Gods playing ball with skulls.
I'm sure many other peoples had their own explanations. 
  Can you find the eagle?
I don't know where this was. - click to enlarge
  This cat is doing what most cats do, he sees the little bird, a chickadee maybe, and tries his damnedest to catch it.  The bird got away, and the kitty got on with life, he looks to be well fed anyway, so it wasn't life or death.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


A "nonsense" coin produced by the US Mint - click to enlarge
Photo" AP
  It costs eleven cents to make a nickel, and 2 cents to make a penny; that ain't good math.  The U S Mint is now in the process of trying out new materials. 
  The metals used now; copper (in every coin), nickel (in all except the penny) are expensive.  There are 80 metals and four of them are less expensive than the metals used now.  Aluminum, Lead, Iron and Zinc are less costly than the metals used now.  Lead is out for obvious reasons.  The Mint is playing with the others to make new alloys or "sandwich" metals (like quarters and dimes now).  Copper is used now in all coins because of its electro-magnetic qualities, that is what is needed in vending machines.  To change vending machines to work a different way would cost up to 3.5 billion dollars - if the copper was missing.  Personally I don't think I've used a vending machine in over 30 years, maybe we could scrap them (just a thought).
  Canada has stopped making pennies and have removed them from circulation, it saved 14 billion dollars over a ten year period.  Something to think about.  Nickels could be made from aluminum I don't think they are used in vending machines (?).
  Does this make "cents"?
A new "quarter" maybe? -click
Photo: AP
A penny maybe. - click
Photo: AP

Friday, December 21, 2012

It is not a noxious weed

The Kansas state flower
Photo: Jaime Greene, The Wichita Eagle
  In 1895 the Sunflower was declared a noxious weed.  The Kansas Legislature wanted it cleared from the State.  Eight years later it was declared the State flower, and Kansas become known as The Sunflower State.
  There are a lot of sunflowers in Kansas, but North Dakota grows more than any other state, and the cooking oil and bird seed companies are grateful.  Personally I just like to look at them, the plant not the seeds.
  I do see that a lot of people will grow a small patch and at least one farm, in Newport, grows a small commercial crop of sunflowers.  Click on photos to enlarge
A crop near Hutchinson, Kansas
Photo: Jaime Greene, Wichita Eagle
A Kansas roadsign speaks for itself.
Photo: Jaime Green,

Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's cold in Ohio

January 21, 1977 people walk from Kentucky to Cincinnati on the
frozen Ohio River, a dangerous thing to do. - click to enlarge The Cincinnati Enquirer
  I mentioned yesterday that my family lived in Ohio for a few years, the last three years of my high school life.  I entered the 10th grade at Woodward High in Cincinnati; there were more students in that school than in the whole town we moved from.  I remember being sent to a speech therapist because I talked funny.  She had me read two paragraphs and said "there's nothing wrong with your speech, you're from Maine!".  Embarrassed me though.
  We lived in Swifton Village a housing complex.  Turns out it was the first property Donald Trump received from his father.
  We moved to Milford, Ohio for the next two years, a small town (then) it was much better.  I got a job through the school at Bob Williams Oldsmobile-Chevrolet dealership.  I worked with the service manager a couple of days, the parts department a couple of days and one day (Wednesday) with the accountant doing payroll.  That job had prepared me for all of the jobs I've had since.
January 2009, cold again as fog comes off the warmer water at
the "Town Landing".  The Majestic Show Boat is seen. The Cincinnati Enquirer
Geese on Cedar Lake in Warren County Ohio. November 2009. The Cincinnati Enquirer

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dying mills and dye jobs

An old photo of the Biddeford Mills
  Back in what seems like a long time ago Maine had thriving textile factory centers, Biddeford was among them along with across the river neighbor Saco.  Cloth for military uniforms (Saco), blankets for the United States Navy(Biddeford), upholstery material for the auto industry(Sanford), if it was cloth Maine could make it.  Those cities and towns just mentioned are but a tip of the iceberg.
  Then came tax deals with the southern states, a desire to move closer to the cotton farms, but mostly the tax deals, it's always about the money.  Maine collapsed, employment was gone south.  The 1950s were brutal times in Maine.  My own family moved to Ohio for a few years so Dad could work.
  Forward to today.  There are more farms in Maine today then there ever were.  Most farms in Maine produce food crops like vegetables or fruit, but a large number produce fiber.  There are a large number of sheep, rabbits, goats and alpaca grown for fiber.
  Fiber needs to be (among other things) cleaned, carded, spun into yarn or thread.  It also needs to be available in different colors.  Enter a portion of one of the Biddeford mills.
  The Saco River Dye House is in operation to make those yarns any color people want.  In the end, if things work out, twenty thousand pounds of fiber will be processed.  Click to enlarge the photos.
Don Morton the dye master carries yarn to a water extractor after dyeing.
Shawn Ouelette/ Photo

Yarns are dried.
Photo: Shawn Ouelette/
Samples of the finished product.
Photo: Shawn Ouelette/

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Other things on the water

The Wagner House, one of the houseboats in Seattle,
it's on the National Register of Historic Places. - click to enlarge
  When I lived in Seattle I worked at the computer center for Seattle First National Bank.  My workplace was right on Lake Union and I would always look out and see the houseboats.  I always wanted to live on one.  But now there is trouble in Paradise.  The City of Seattle has found that a number of the newer home exceed eighteen feet in height.  That is against the rules.
This is a naughty house - too tall. 
Photo: City of Seattle via
  The newer homes even look out of place to me.  I understand that some folks need more room, but they could always move on land to a regular house I guess.
  Here are a few more views:
Back in the day, all homes were sort of like this.
The City of Seattle used this photo to show what
height houseboats should be.
Photo: City of Seattle, via

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas on the water

Rounding the point.  12th Annual Holiday Parade of Boat Lights. click to enlarge
Photo: Tom Greenway
  Yesterday the dog owners today some boat owners who celebrate while at the same time raising money for SailMaine safety courses.
  The Boats, full of light, cruise Portland, Maine harbor.  In the photo above the boats round Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse, probably a turn-around point in the cruise. 
   I would love to see this in person, but these photos may still be the best views.
Fireworks displays light up the boats in Portland Harbor. click to enlarge
Tom Greenway photo

Sunday, December 16, 2012

It's not all that different

12th Annual Reindog Parade, Cincinnati - click to enlarge photo
  Just when you think you've seen it all....well, you haven't.  People all over the world are inventive and give much thought to finding new ways to celebrate.  Dog lovers are included in that group.  Most often groups of dog lovers will get together to think up new things to do.  I am positive that the group in Cincinnati is no different.  It's just "what can we do together, with the dogs?".
  So here it is, the 12th Annual Reindog Parade, held recently.
Cha-cha, the Snow Queen

Hobbs and Guiness

Saturday, December 15, 2012

It's not named for Buster

The Alameda Portal for the Posey Tube - click to enlarge photo
  Shortly after the Holland Tunnel opened in New York City, the nation's second oldest tunnel project opened on October 27, 1928 - The Posey Tube.
  Posey connects the island city Alameda with Oakland's downtown section.  There was, before the tube, a swing bridge.  The bridge hindered navigation of ocean going ships and needed to be replaced.  The Surveyor of Alameda County, George Posey, suggested the tube.  Mr. Posey oversaw the construction of his namesake.  Are you homesick Wilbur?
  Just as an aside; you can get really dirty walking through the tube when you're drunk and wearing a white shirt - I know.
Under construction- the concrete tube is
submerged, a complicated process.
An article from the San Francisco Chronicle about
the opening of the Posey Tube.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Think first, Act later

An early photo of Pioneer Square, Seattle.  Note the Totem Pole
in the center, and early vehicles. - click to enlarge
  Pioneer Square is one of Seattle's early centers as a city.  It was, in my opinion, a very classy place in the early days - long before my time. 
  As will often happen the area decayed with neglect and when "Urban Renewal" came along the whole shebang almost got the wrecking ball.  What a shame that would have been.  Pioneer Sqare was spared from the program.  Other cities haven't been as lucky; Portland and Bangor Maine both lost Union Stations, the old passenger rail terminals.  Other cities lost valuable history too.
  I'll try to show the photos in some sort of order. Please click to enlarge on any or all.
  For more information visit
  I will be "venting" at the end of todays session.
A bus, taxi, livery stop.  Also an undated early photo.
By 1975 when this photo was taken you could see
the deterioration of the area.
After the "renewal" people visit the Grand Central Arcade Occidental Park
in Pioneer Square in this 1991 photo
Now I can vent.  I read an article this morning, about 1:45AM, about the noise a passenger train makes in Brunswick Maine.  A writer decried the fact of "very early morning noise - usually 5 to 7 AM!  Can you even imagine calling 5 to 7 AM "early morning".  I can't.  That's damned near my lunch time.  As for noise in Brunswick; did they so soon forget the Navy aircraft that were based there?