Tarmac ribbons criss-crossing the landscape, dusty back roads twisting between the cool shadows of ancient pines, and less traveled pathways connecting present to past, all I wander, seeking, seeing, with my keyboard and camera capturing scenes and stories to share with you.

Now in its seventh year, this venue has become an important part of my life, a place where I can express my thoughts and feelings about the things I see and do, hoping the process brings me a bit closer to friends and family who enjoy sharing my sometimes chaotic and often nonlinear observations and ideas. A journal, I suppose, but one with which I find pleasure in thinking others are alongside me on my journey.

Comments, thoughts, or just a friendly chat, use the response box below or email me at patrickgroleau@gmail.com.

December 30, 2013

FLYIN' BY PRESTON ESTERBOOK'S


... i went on a drive with liz down to augusta to get a new battery for her car ... enjoying my hands-free position in the passenger seat, i rolled* down the window and played impressionist with the light coming though the trees alongside the interstate ...

... when first moved to waterville at certain times of year i often found myself screwing up my nose as i cruised the highway between waterville and sydney ... it was explained to me, "that's preston esterbook's farm, he's one for spreading sludge" ...

... "preston esterbrook" ... such a neat name, don't you think ...

... photographers should never forget that despite the comfort found in thinking they're simply "recording," the literal meaning of the word itself, from the greek, is "to paint or draw with light" ...

... *no longer any window cranks, just a little button ... should we find a new word, use the rather mundane "opening/closing," or, as we do when we "turn on" of the lights, just stick with tradition ... ??? ...

December 29, 2013

CLEANING THE LOT

... looks like about 6-8" of heavy snow has fallen since five o'clock, radar shows that we're a little bit past the storm's halfway mark ... plow crews are making a first pass at cleaning the lot, my bet is they're going to have to do another run in a few hours ...


... tomorrow, of course, will come my turn to go down to the lot by the river and dig out my car ...

ADDEMUM - MONDAY AM

... car wasn't all that much trouble ... i helped a river parking "newbie" get his car out, he hadn't realized that he had left his vehicle in one of the lot's little downhill depressions ...


... i used my little underwater olympus to snap this picture ... when i put the flash card in the computer i found an image from last fall which will serve a pleasant reminder that winter isn't going to last forever ...



December 25, 2013

CONCERT BY THE RIVER - REVISIT

... two years ago, at an open concert in the big field down by the two-cent bridge ...


ME, MY "BRUDDER," AND MA - 1951

... in irumagawa, saitama, japan, patrick begins ...

CHRISTMAS DAY STROLL

... i put on my new boots, donned several layers of outwear, pulled my knit cap down around my ears, and headed out to view the results of the ice storm ...

... down by the old hathaway buildings the trees were coated with as much as 1/2-inch of ice ...

... "how come you're takin' pictures, do you work for the newspaper" ... "nah, just enjoying the day, how about you, why aren't you inside staying warm" ... "it's so pretty, i thought i just stand here and watch for awhile" ...

... a gentle breeze strummed the low afternoon sunbeams and together they brought a soft crystal melody from the ice encased branches ...

... a result of the very dry cold air, in the bright sunlight the ice is lasting an unusually long time ...

... frozen in flight, old glory refused to surrender to the storm ...

... i wasn't the only person out for a stroll ...


... behind one of the houses that is perched upon the bluff above the south end, the fire department responded to some sort of emergency ...

... per john meander's musing, at first i was hesitant to enjoy the results of a storm from which there are still thousands of mainers without power ... i reminded myself, however, that the universe has neither positive nor negative valence, it is within our personal interaction with the forces of nature that we assign emotion and esthetic value so as to at least try to understand the incomprehensible and feel comfort knowing we've a place in the infinite ...

WALK BACK FROM THE RIVER LOT

... after house sitting for sarah and gordy, i left new hampshire and drove over to portland to pick up adrien at the jetport ... her flight was delayed, so it was almost eight o'clock by the time we left the city ... due to the ice storm the ride north was slower than usual, but for the most part the roadway was easy to negotiate ... after leaving adrien at her house i drove into town, then parked down by the river because the plowing signs were up ... i took my time walking back up to the apartment ...




December 14, 2013

ANOTHER WINTER IN ANOTHER TIME

... alaska, circa 1960 ... i'd try, of course, but i was too small to be of much help to my brother, whose task was to first find the car, then clean off the snow ... the wire going to the engine was connected either to a block heater, or, perhaps, an electric "battery blanket" ... i believe that this was the winter during which temperatures sometimes dropped below -30°f ...

... prior to this time my recollections were only of living in key west and west palm beach, florida, and my very first memories were of the warm sands of the tropical beach across the road from my gram's house on grand cayman in the british west indies ... imagine young patrick in this weather ...

NOT A DAY FOR MOTORCYCLING

... 10:20am ... according to my friend, john, who while it was still dark went out to take pictures of stars, it was -8°f at 4:00am ... clearly, it is a good thing my motorcycle is resting for awhile out in mount vernon ...
... i'd ask all my dear relatives in the cayman islands, who are probably wearing their winter sweaters, if maybe one of you could go down to boggy sands beach, take off your shoes, stroll for a few minutes in the sea, and think of me ...

WAY OLD POOP

... liz came over for supper and an episode of "orphan black" ... she asked me to snap a picture of the necklace my sister, sue, made for her ...
... the stone is a small piece of cut and polished "coprolite," fossilized dinosaur dung ... the setting is copper and gold ... the earrings are liz's own creation ...

... the smile, of course, as it has been from that magical moment in the delivery room when she first flashed it at me, is both absolute proof that life is beautiful as well clear evidence that i am, indeed, blessed ...


December 11, 2013

BMW MECHANICS SCHOOL

... i started at about 1:30pm, finished up around 7:30pm ... temperature was 30°f when i began, on the way home the irving station flashing sign said it was 20°f out ... the bike is currently under the awning of the outside storage area behind c.j.'s barn ...

... my "goal" was install a new battery in the motorcycle, add a set of jumper/trickle charge cables, and check the effectiveness of the antifreeze fluid ... before i could do this, of course, i had to first figure out how to take the bike apart ...

... i learned many things ...

... first, the "glass half-empty" stuff ...

... it seems that bmw designed this motorcycle by starting with the battery and then building the bike around it ... in order to remove the battery i had to disassemble the motorcycle's entire upper assembly, including the support frame ... even with that, there was less than a millimeter clearance that required a rather complex three-dimensional rotation of the new battery to get it seated in the support case ...

... there are a multitude of cable and hose routings that were clearly designed by engineers who never do their own maintenance ... i learned all about this in the military, but, still i cursed bavaria a blue streak ...

... i don't see as well by flashlight anymore ...

... if you look at this bike with its fairing removed you can see right through the frame, yet if a bolt is accidently dropped it invariably ends up in a little mechanical cul-de-sac for which retrieval requires the removal of the bike's upper assembly ... these spots are obviously magnetic, because no matter what location the bolt comes from, it always vanishes inside the frame ...

... but, of course, there's also the "glass is half-full" stuff ...

... other my rather rickety old knees, i still work well in the cold ... score one for all the learning experiences in such environments provided me a long time ago by the united states government ...

... bmw uses seriously nice hardware ... every bolt, screw, etc., is clearly similar to aircraft grade ... i'm thinking that this alone probably accounts for 10% of the cost of the machine ...

... you can completely remove the upper assembly of a bmw f650cs using just two of the torex l-stock bits included in the under-seat toolkit ...

... my flashlights have ever-ready batteries, the bunny wasn't lying ...

... here's the machine 1/3-way through the reassembly process, the first of four go-arounds ... turns out that the round black frame doesn't go in before the air box ... after that i was reminded several times that of disassembly and reassembly the former is always the easier of the two ...


... i finished and everything seems in order ... as i said, "school" ... if i started the same task again, even in cold weather, it would take me less than an hour to complete the job ...  the bike wouldn't quite catch and start, but i'm comfortable thinking it was just too cold ... end result:  a brand-new glass-matt sealed battery providing over 165 amps, nice long leads so i can keep said battery cozy during the winter, and, courtesy of dear friends jane and alex, a wonderful homemade pizza supper ...


December 10, 2013

RESTRAINT

... a few weeks ago, while wandering through the cemetery that sits above the messalonskee river where it flows into the the kennebec at the south end of town, i came upon this mound of leaves, one of many such the maintenance workers had formed into long piles along the cemetery lanes ...

... i became almost possessed with the overwhelming urge to run through all of the piles, my heart's most fervent desire to scatter the leaves to and fro until there would be no evidence they had ever been collected ...

... i resisted my impulse, if not out of consideration for the workers, then at least in respect of the spirits who reside amongst the headstones ...

... i was quite proud of myself for having such discipline ...
... i was even prouder of myself, however, that still i fancy such thoughts ...

SLIDE & SENSOR

... the little rectangular chip inside the square black box at the left of the circuit board is the sensor a digital camera uses to capture an image ... the film inside of the cardboard is what was used in the olden days ...
... note:  as relates to photography, other than technical reasons, it really doesn't matter which of these is behind a lens ...

... {this image, by the way, was taken using a forty year-old darkroom enlarging lens attached to a modern digital camera} ....

THE GRILL

... title says it all ...
... and, yes, once again, it seems i will take a picture of just about anything ...

AN HDR REVIST

... “hdr,” or “high dynamic range,” photography is simply the use of technical means to capture an image which has a range of light intensity from black to white that is greater than a film or sensor’s ability to capture it ... the best example would be a picture taken on a sunny day while skiing ... if the snow shows detail in the final image, the deep shadows under the trees will be completely black, or, if you can see details in the shadows, the snow will be “blown out,” pure white with no detail visible ...

... film and digital sensors capture more of the dynamic range than can be printed or displayed on a monitor ... hdr photography is a way of “compressing” the dynamic range ... there are two methods of hdr photography ... one, as old as photography itself, is to simply take several pictures of the same scene, exposing one for the highlights and one for the shadows, then combine them ... this used to be done in the darkroom, now it can be done using software ...

... another method of hdr photography is to take a single image, then using darkroom techniques or software manipulate the dynamic range so that it can expressed in a print or on a monitor ...



... or, if on a rather cold and icy day a couple of weeks before christmas you're working the counter in the bookstore and the weather has kept all the customers away, you can take a "regular" image from your folder marked "revisit" and enter into a little dance with hue and value and contrast ...

... hdr photography seems to stir great debate in the photography world ... some photographers love it, some detest it ... from my perspective, there're the same camps which used to fight over "kodachrome vs. ektachrome," "black & white vs. color," or "small vs. large format negatives" ...

... me, when i'm making a picture my hope is simply that it will be appreciated by someone else ...

November 29, 2013

AUTUMN HOLDS ON

... my apartment door is hidden out of view just to the left of the aluminum bordered black marque sign in the upper center of the photograph ... from where i stood to snap this picture, behind me the sidewalk is as clear of leaves as it is further down the length of main street ... for some areodynamic reason the leaves all congregate in front of my door ... after i took this i ran back and forth through the leaves a dozen times or so, scattering them until they were piled up agains the building and all over the road ... the next day the leaves had all gotten together and rearranged themselves back into a pile identical to the one shown here ...

...  it seems to me that the city workers always wait a few days before they come by during the dark of night and suck up the pile of leaves with their humongous drivable vacuum cleaner ... proof, i think, that there is poetry in their souls, too ...

... if you give it a chance, autumn will hold on a bit longer just for you ... 



November 22, 2013

A BIG HONKIN' WATCH

... [this is where i remind you, everything has a story] ... 


... many years ago, while i was visiting with my family in the west indies, my little sister, sue, took me for a tour of the "duty free" shops in georgetown ... it was fun looking at the wicked expensive trinkets, but i didn't buy anything because i know "duty free" simply means "if you knew how to shop you could get it for less back home" ... sue noticed me examining the fancy dive watches ... [confession:  among my weaknesses is a fascination of stainless steel thermos bottles, high-intensity flashlights, and, of course, the aforementioned waterproof timepieces] ... i remember her saying, "pat, i know the owner, so i can get it for a lot less," to which i replied something like, "nah ... it won't tell time any better'n my inexpensive casio, and that's good for as deep as i'm ever going to submerge myself ...

... when i was getting ready to enter the boarding area at the airport she reached into her bag and handed me the watch ... something i absolutely didn't need, it was of the greatest surprises and best of presents that i have ever received ...

... every three or four years i've had to have the battery replaced ... the last time i said to myself, "this is ridiculous ... while it's true that this watch records the last ten dives i've made, keeps track of the temperature, warns me how fast i'm ascending, and is so unbelievably rugged if i'm gobbled up by a shark when it eventually poops out the watch it's sure damn thing will still be accurately ticking away, it's also a fact that $36 to have a new battery installed is pure foolishness" ...

... so, for the past couple of years the watch has been sitting in my tupperware "special treasures" bin ... (another confession:  i've torn movie ticket stubs from when i was fifteen years old ... i suppose it's good thing you can't keep a broken teenage heart in a plastic container) ... last week i said to myself, "i miss my sister"  ... so i took the watch out, made a little tool out of some scrap plastic, opened the back and removed the battery ... three days later, courtesy of amazon.com, the watch was back in service ... the bezel had gotten all scratched from banging against the sand and coral rocks, so i pried it off and gave it a coat of black lacquer ...

... yes, i'm fully aware it's just a silly wrist ornament ... but, since wearing it encourages me to think of my dear sister, i'd say that makes it a rather magical watch, too ...


November 21, 2013

THE RESCUE - PART 2

... robert said, i think i've lost my cell phone ... we tried ringing it up in the store with no luck ... i said, "m'be it's out where we were pushing the motorcycle, how about if i go look for it" ... with that i headed out to do my laundry and buy groceries, but first i drove up to the quarry road for another strenuous twenty-mile hike into the wilderness ...

... it was a beautiful afternoon ... even with the puddles and edges of the streams frozen over, still i wished my motorcycle wasn't put away for the season ...


... when i was a kid and i'd find a rock all alone like this i would very carefully move it to where it had the company of others of its kind ... and, yes, i also made sure my shoes were properly side-to-side facing in the same direction ... i know, the psychologists have a rather nasty name for this, but i like to think it just means i'm a really considerate guy ...


... new englanders used to describe their property lines using phrases such as, "more or less in a northerly direction to the big oak tree," or, "from the back edge of farmer smith's property to the large rock south of the stream" ... then they discovered metal rods ... oh, how new englanders love to drive these iron bars into the ground ... done according tradition, this one probably goes down at least six to eight feet, "just to make sure nobody moves it" ...

... 15,000 years ago the glacier ripped the entire side off this ridge of bedrock ... then, when that mile-thick pile of ice melted, the run-off further scoured the landscape along the messalonskee stream ... odd, how while most're put at ease thinking these iron stakes are going to keep their property permanently marked, i'm somehow reassured that in several thousand years, when the earth's precession and eccentric cycles harmonize, the glaciers're going to once again scrape the landscape clean so that everything can start anew again ...


 ... {yes, i actually think these things while i'm walking} ...

... i remember when dr. abel and his crew found preserved in volcanic ash the 3.6 million year-old footprints of some of our ancestral hominids ... the path of two of them, walking side-by-side, was intersected by the prints of another ... dr. abel said, "they might have been months, even years apart ... we know they didn't see one another, for if that had happened surely the prints would reflect it ... but, it just could be that they missed one another by only a few hours" ...

... if, perchance, sometime before it rains again a great volcano should erupt and cover maine with settled ash, would it then be that millions of years from now a new species, or, perhaps, aliens from another world, will gaze upon these tracks and wonder, "who were they ... two of them, obviously, shared the path ... but, what of the other ... did he turn to find them, or ... or, did he change direction leaving them behind" ...


 ... {yes, i actually think lots of strange things while i'm walking} ...

... this is milkweed, i think ... even when i was little, i wondered, "milkweed, dandelions, crab grass, black-eyed susan, pigweed ... they're all so cool, why're they hated so" ... how odd, the ones so good at taking care of themselves, they get this label ...


 ... {yes, even when i was little, i would think strange things as i walked} ...

... these are altocumulus clouds (i think) ... my friend, chuck, who, as far as i'm concerned, is perhaps the greatest science teacher in the world, knows all the names of all the clouds ... none of his names match mine ... to me, these are washerboard clouds ...



... i like my names for clouds ...

 ... {sigh ... looking up, looking down, thinking, yes, you're right, i often bump into things, but that just gives me more to think about} ...

... i saw this couple walking ... they were wearing their special orange hats so that they won't get shot by a hunter ... foolishness, that's my opinion ... "good" hunters would never shoot them, even if they weren't wearing the hats ... "bad" hunters will shoot them even with the hats, because, after all, when it comes to not getting shot by a hunter, they are doing two things wrong:  a) they're in the woods, and, b) they're moving ... me, personally, if i'm going to wear orange it'll be a florescent flak vest ...




 ... {i've been shot at, so during hunting season i think these things while i'm walking} ...

... some ancient philosopher, i can't recall his name, he said, "you can't ever get to where you're going" ... his theory, "at some point you'll be halfway to your goal ... then you'll be half of that ... and, in time, half of that ... and so-on and so-on such that you'll never actually arrive" ... i've always liked that ... autumn in new england, quite obviously the winter can never get here ...



 ... {next spring, when i'm out walking in the late snow, i'll still be saying this} ...

... just as i was getting back to the trailhead (i never found the phone, because, it turns out, it was at robert's house) i noticed there were cars going down the road ... seems what i hadn't noticed when i arrived was that the gate was open ... there's a special word the backwoods people use for this, "duh" ...


... {i won't tell you what i was thinking, other'n the sky was very pretty} ...

... at the trailhead i found workers reinstalling the gate posts ... seems they'd been put in three feet, the "proper" depth, which everyone who knows anything about frost will tell you is a foot too shallow ... i said, "why is it we have ipads, cell phones, space stations, and instant oatmeal, but you worker people are still digging  post holes the same way they did in the way-long-ago ancient roman times" ... response was, "they sent a three-foot auger, this is quicker'n waiting for a longer one" ... this guy wants to go to alaska someday, but right now he's raising two kids ... i said, "soon as you can, do it" ...


 ... i had a nice little walk ... i didn't find the phone, but i thought a lot of neat thoughts ...

THE RESCUE - PART 1

... with wonder hillary managing the bookstore, saving the world from malignant mounds of toxic waste, and waging the good fight against the oppressively paternalistic fascism of federal usurpation ...


... robert and i were down in augusta, exploring central maine's lunch offerings, when roger called, "can you do me a big favor" ...

Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there
You've got a friend
You've got a friend
Ain't it good to know, ain't it good to know, ain't it good to know
You've got a friend.
CAROL KING

... okay, so that wasn't actually playing on the radio ... no matter, children of the sixties, both robert and i know that there're times you have to hear that tune, so we scurried back to waterville, stopping for subway sandwiches before we headed out to the quarry road to rescue roger ...

... after what i figure was at least a twenty-mile hike into the maine wilderness, roger brought us to the spot on the road where clearly the maine department of transportation had not done its job ...


... robert took one look, then, being as he's both a man of faith and a notary public, he offered some sort of last rites for the poor machine ...


... what roger was saying translated out to be, "you're each going to stand behind me pushing on the luggage rails so that when i give 'er full throttle the motorcycle'll go up the hill and the two of you will fall on your faces in the mud like this was an abbot and costello movie" ...


... "yea, as if," we chorused, but, per carol's advice, we didn't have much choice ... grunting and groaning and saying to ourselves, "why can't he just get an x-box and stay home," we extricated the honda from the bog ...


... roger offered each of us a ride back to the trailhead, but we both figured the walk would do us good, and, in any case, the back perch on his motorcycle didn't look all that comfortable ...


 ... at the trailhead we found that the new quarry road recreational area, even unfinished as it is right now, is a most fascinating place ...


Keep smiling and keep shining
Knowing you can always count on me, for sure
That's what friends are for
In good times and bad times
I'll be on your side forever more
That's what friends are for.
BACHARACH & SAGER

... the thing that's really cool, at least, as far as i'm concerned, is that while it is so incredibly wonderful that i have friends i know would come to pull me out of the mud, even more important is that i've those who think to call me ...


November 17, 2013

BON VOYAGE, AMANDA

... ann and amanda invited me to go with them to drop amanda off a her ship, which was berthed in portland ... it ended up that chuck could join us, so we all got to share the trip ...

... while she was loading her gear in the back of the truck i took a little wanderabout along the edge of the lake ...
... we've already had spitting snow, and in the early morning there've been places where the road was a bit slick, but here along the shore of east pond the autumn is still holding on ...
... this little guy always warmly greets me each time i arrive at what is clearly my "second home" on east pond ...
... bella, carefully adorned with her don't-shoot-me-you-idiot-i'm-a-dog-not-a-deer neckerchief, always acts as if it's been a hundred years since we've seen one another ...
... at the dock in portland amanda proudly introduced us to the vessel which is both her work place and, for want of a better word, "apartment" ...
... we went aboard so she could show us around ... since she is part of a team that catches fish and studies them to find out how much we humans are messing up their lives, the ship has great nets with which it can trawl the vast seas above the continental shelf ...
... unknown to us, while we were below decks a great storm arose and the ship broke free from its moorings and was blown far, far out into ocean ... !!! ...
... despite the crew's herculean efforts, it soon became apparent that we were doomed, that for us, like the tragic edmund fitzgerald, all that was to remain would be a catchy tune on the radio ... then, even as we huddled on the well deck getting ready to stuff our pathetic farewell notes into a bottle, upon the flying bridge above us a hero appeared ...

 ... "avast, ye maties," he snarled, "snitzen that witzenjammer ... furl that what'chmacallet ... grrrrrrrrrr ... we're not sunk until i say we're sunk, and i say that i see the way back to port" ...
... "hurrah-hurrah-hurrah," we all cheered, for the steely look in his eyes and the way he scoffed at the storm removed any doubt that we'd be sleeping on land that night ... he took the wheel and steered the mighty craft through the mountainous waves back to the safety of the harbor, all the while his faithful sidekick watching out the window to make sure he didn't run into an iceberg (i mean, after all, we already saw that movie and didn't want any part of that kind of trouble) ...
"hurrah-hurrah-hurrah, again," we all cheered, as the great captain returned all of us to portland harbor's tranquil waters ...
... "hurrah-hurrah-hurrah," his wife and daughter exclaimed, "ours is the greatest most wonderful captain in the whole world" ...
... "hurrah-hurrah-hurrah," yelled amanda and katie (and nikki, too, who is in the picture but doesn't show because of her ninjalike stealthiness), "if it weren't for the great captain we would've been lost" ...
... then, courtesy of the captain and his first mate, we did what all seafarers do upon first setting ashore after surviving a storm ... we scoffed down several huge flatbreads and celebrated our great fortune ...
... the end ...

... (except, that is, to add a "thank you" to commander richard behn of the n.o.a.a. corps for the picture of the ship's bow in the storm) ...