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.

June 29, 2013

???

... "please, sir, i want some more" ...
charles dickens, oliver twist

... i thought this was my nephew jon, but beth tells me i'm incorrect ... that means i have absolutely no clue as to the identity of this little waif ... any of you, any ideas ... ??? ...

MUGSHOT

... not counting the hand-made ones we did when we were kids, this is my very first mug design ... it is for the maine antiquarian booksellers association ... (absolutely shameless plug:  you can purchase your very own mug at re-books in downtown waterville) ... i designed the association's logo, too ... come in while i'm working the week of the 4th of july and i'll include a fill-up of fresh coffee at no extra charge ... the smile belongs to robert, the proprietor of re-books ...

ON THE ROAD - 1958

... on the trip from lake worth, florida, to alaska, june of 1958 ... i'm thinking that this picture was taken in seattle, washington, where our car was loaded into the hold of the navy troopship u.s.s. general m.m. patrick and we boarded to sail the inner passage to the port of whittier ... from there it was a train ride thru the rugged glaciated chugach mountains to the city of anchorage in what was still the "alaskan territory" ...

... most likely we stopped at this residence for a reason, either some important person lived there, had lived there, or a famous architect had designed the house ... or, knowing how pa was, it could just be that he pulled to the curb because he liked the flowers ... for sure we had already visited some of the historic sites of the pacific northwest native americans, as i recall i didn't stop making the "how" sign for weeks ...

June 23, 2013

ZOMBIE WEEKEND

... this weekend liz and i drove over to ossippee to visit with adrien, in addition to time together our goal being to see the zombie apocalypse movie, "world war z" ...

... after a wonderful breakfast at krista's in cornish—a place to which i most highly recommend a visit—we decided to take a little drive, during which we chanced upon a studio of sorts displaying these metal statues ... they're constructed of all sorts of automobile parts welded together ... another tourist told us they are imported in pieces from some third-world country, then assembled in the united states ... (sort of like apple computer wants us to believe they are doing something especially patriotic with the new "assembled in america" desktop macintosh) ...

... i think he might be a canadian ... of course, i'd never even consider offering this as an explanation, especially since sometime adrien and i might take another trip up to sherbrooke to eat some really yummy quebec style "poulet" ...

... my sweet liz, of course, when confronted with a predator isn't about to do anything but giggle a bit and say, "gimme a break, lizard, i teach roomfuls of kindergarteners" ...

... after a scenic drive through crawford notch, we made our way to the most sacred of new hampshire's cultural attractions ...

... according to the framed certificate, guiness book of records has acknowledged chutter's as having "the longest candy counter in the world" ... 112 feet of jars, i figure about 500 of them containing pretty much every form of penny candy known ... to further enhance the experience, the remainder of the store offers a huge variety of fudge, trinkets, and, hard to believe, even fresh packs of beaman's gum ... adding in the gas and mileage on the car, i'm thinking the candy costs about $25/lb., but i could care less since as always any time i get to spend with my daughters is priceless ...

... after the zombies i stopped in front of the grocery store for a quick pit stop ... before liz came out i wandered over to the center of the parking lot to snap a few pictures of what some would term "a threatening sky" ... a man came up to me and quite seriously warned, "watch out, each one of those little bits of hanging down cloud is a funnel getting ready to form" ... (i think some people spend way too much time watching the weather channel) ... when i got back to the car liz was waiting, "dad, after a zombie movie is not a good time for your daughter to come out of the store to find the motor running, the driver's side door open, and her dad missing" ... i'll take that as evidence she cares about me, although it's probably closer to the truth of the moment that she knows in a high-speed escape i'd be much better at running down the living dead" ...




June 21, 2013

CREATION


... bear with me, there's a point to this ...

... yesterday my motorcycle and i made a little wandering down to pemaquid point ... all of you know that it is one of my favorite places, and as much as i get to enjoy it all by myself off-season, equally i take pleasure in visiting when the flat-landers are swarming and i can share in their new perspectives and appreciation ...

... the bands of rock in the picture are layers of metamorphosed stone ... simply put, about 500,000,000 years ago there were great mountain ranges running the length of what is now the east coast of the united states ... although taller and more rugged than the current rocky mountains, still wind and water and time slowly wore them away ... their great heights were eroded and carried by streams and rivers to become layer upon layer of mud and sand beneath the dark, cold sea ... over time, million and millions of years, these layers of soft stone were compressed, and, as the continent floated around atop the fluid magma upon which it is buoyed, the thousands of feet of sediment were folded into a great arch, as if you were to take a full edition of the new york times spread flat in front of you and, with the crease in the middle, push the edges of the paper so that the fold rose towards your face ... then, again the result of wind and water and time, imagine that the thick folded crease closest to you was cut away, so that now all you could see was the new exposed edges of the paper ...

... to further complicate things, you're probably asking, "okay, but what is that white rock in the middle, the stuff that if i went to pemaquid i'd find is much, much harder than the dark stuff on each side of it, and isn't in neat, tidy layers" ...

... go back to when you were pushing the paper from the sides ... further imagine that there was a pot of boiling oatmeal beneath the pages, and that as the center of the newspaper was arching upwards the oatmeal was also flowing up between some—but not all—of the pages ... imagine that at some point a great gush of hot oatmeal had so much pressure that it formed a wedge of sort, and actually pushed apart the layers pages of the paper ... that after it did so it hardened in place ... the "oatmeal," or, in real life, "crystalline pegmatite granite" (that's hot, molten rock from way down deep in the earth), is much, much tougher than the layers of layered schist (be careful asking your students to pronounce that one), so it tends to weather more slowly ...


... but ... but, even for schist that when you stub your toe it takes a month to heal, granite so hard that if you strike it with a hammer the face of the tool is likely to shatter, there is no permanence ... wind and water and time, and scrub grass roots, too ... soon—at least, geologically speaking—soon all will be returned to the silent darkness beneath the sea ... and, after that ... after that will be new mountains and prominences and, never changing, the sound of waves crashing upon a rocky shore ...

... as a child i sat in church listening to the minister explaining the creation ... "six days" ... i tried, but even as a part of my brain was struggling to accept his wisdom another of my voices was ticking away points:  "wait a second, how could there be 'days' before the sun lit up," ... "if g*d was so big and powerful, why did g*d need six days, why didn't g*d just do it all in an instant" ... and, of course, "why would g*d need to rest" ...

... later, i'd learn that originally the word used to describe the amount of time didn't necessarily mean "twenty-four hours," as i would also discover that there are those willing to go to war over which meaning was implied by the authors of the ancient texts ...

... bishop usher calculated the age of the earth, determining the creation took place on october 23rd, 4004 b.c. (if i recall correctly, he even figured it down to the exact hour and minute) ... geologists and astrophysicists, counting spinning electrons and measuring the movement of distant quasars, calculate the universe to be 13.77 billion years old ...

... now, in these times, it is a controversy so emotionally divisive that you can determine where you are in the united states by inspecting the curriculum of a school's science program ...

... i just don't get it ...

... if it's inspiring to think that an infinitely powerful and timeless entity created the universe in a very short period of time, say, six days, then how much more inspiring it is to think that an infinitely powerful and timeless entity devoted 2,920,000,000,000 days towards doing so ...

... i remember handing my book report to ma, "what do you think" ...

... "it's good" ...

... i relaxed a bit ...

... "put more time into it, it'll be even better" ...

... to stand upon the shore at pemaquid, listening to the laughter of the tourists providing chorus to the song of the waves pounding against the rocks, this pulsing of the sea simply one movement in the symphony of time, and then to know that the faint whisper of my breathing is equally a part of the music, to comprehend that i am both infinitesimally small and yet so infinitely important ...

... not so long ago, as the rocks would measure, on a beautiful afternoon off the reef of a far away tropical island, i had a conversation with g*d ... it took me a long time to understand it, or, better put since i'm still involved in the process, understand some of it ... i do know that g*d said, "patrick, you have to figure out for yourself" ...

... so ...

... me, and you, and pemaquid, too, i figure that if there is a plan we're all wonderfully a part of it ...

RESTORATION

... ma's dear friend, barbara, asked me if i could "fix up" this photograph of her parents ... i actually enjoy doing this sort of work, so i gladly accepted her request ...

... about three hours my nose to the computer screen, of which over half the effort was dust spotting ... for this project i decided to keep track of the number of steps in photoshop's "history" ... 1,114 different filterings, including tone and contrast curve alterations, clone brush corrections, and spot "healings" ... i also tightened the composition a bit without losing any of the image or altering its 8x10 proportions ...

CLICK ON THE PICTURE AND IT WILL OPEN FULL-SIZE, THEN USE THE LEFT-RIGHT ARROWS TO SWITCH BETWEEN THE ORIGINAL AND THE RESTORATION

... i'm always amazed when after an hour or so of working on images like this, often zoomed in to the point that i'm correcting image imperfections the size of a human hair, i begin to feel as if i know the people in the picture ... in my mind i start to write little stories about them ... i know absolutely nothing about this couple, of course, but after connecting with them through the transcendental magic of a photographic time warp this lack of knowledge does nothing to prevent me from wishing that they were as happy as they appear, that her future turned out as bright as the look in her eyes, that he was as warm and gentle as his smile ...

... i know, pure foolishness on my part, but, i suppose, that's the whole point of being hopeful ... after all, how sad would be our lives if we couldn't every once in awhile give the world a most foolish embrace ...

June 14, 2013

A1=A1

... yesterday i took a drive down to falmouth to ask the bmw dealer a few questions ... little things, such as, "do i need to apply conditioner to the drive belt," and, "at 15,000 miles is it okay to begin using semi-synthetic oil" ... yes, i know, all things you've been holding your breaths waiting to find out ... after that i chanced to be able to stop in and visit for awhile with a friend ... chat time was too short, which turned out to be too long, too, since by the time i left the cooler air along the coast was becoming quite chill for motorcycle riding ... half-way back to waterville i realized i was a bit tired, cold, and, my only meal for the day having been a bowl of cereal in the morning, my blood sugar was dropping, so i decided to make an emergency stop at one of my favorite eateries ...


... the "a1 diner" in gardiner, maine ... world famous ... everything that's cooked is prepared from scratch ...


... fresh haddock (delivered daily, i asked), fried to perfection ... real chips ... cole slaw, which isn't something i usually like unless it's absolutely perfect (when i was done there was little of it left) ... coffee, of course, was both endless and good ...


... if you've been to the a1 the fond memories are bringing a smile to your face ... if you haven't, go ... 


June 9, 2013

FIRST SWIM

... remnants of a tropical storm yesterday, thunderstorms forecast for later in the week, i decided to take advantage of today's nice weather by going for a little ride ... i wandered a bit until i ended up at east pond ...


... when walked into the camp nobody was home ... the boat was gone, so i went out on the dock to see if i could spot it and maybe try to get a cell signal ... i heard chuck's voice from the camp next door ("for sale," only $70,000) so i went over to see what was going on ... i found chuck working on the boat's motor ... he was saying things like, "the frangellater is flappingabbing whenever the boppinhammer reaches the glorpstop" ... or at least, that's what it sounded like to me ... he was saying some other things, too, but those i clearly understood and i'm not going to repeat them here ...


... after chuck got the motor running smooth, we all went for a ride ... ann served as bella's cushion for the first few minutes ...


... chuck said to me, "right here, pat, that's where we'll go swimming 'cause it's a nice warm spot" ...

... i trusted him because, after all, he's been my buddy for a long, long time ...

... chuck lied ... it was a "nice" spot, for sure, but i'm thinking only an inuit would use the word "warm" in describing it ...

... chuck always lies about the "nice warm spots" 'cause he knows i'm never going to fail to trust him ... he's been turning me into a popsicle for years, and, i guess, he's never going to stop doing so ... [sigh] ... what can i say, i guess he never got over my putting his desk in the bathroom ...


... i've got bella all trained ... without any cue whatsoever she'll come right over to me and scratch my toes with her cheeks ...


... bella loves me, she likes to give me kisses ...


... she doesn't seem to know when to stop, it seems, but, then again, maybe she knows that in a woman i find that a most charming trait ... i try to remind her that she's a dog, but when i forget to pay attention she reminds me that she doesn't care ...


... on the way home i stopped and took a picture of this field ... there's absolutely nothing fancy about, neither majestic vista nor profoundly moving spectacle ... just a few acres of long grass and the late evening sky ...

... often, quite often, by the time i get home it's later than i'd planned ...

June 6, 2013

MAINE TO OHIO TO MAINE ON TWO WHEELS - HOME


... just under three weeks and three-thousand miles, i'm home ...

... after a relaxing stay with mike and beth, i made a nice little back road wander up to a wendy's on route 9 just outside worchester, where i met up with roger who was returning back to maine after completing his madawaska to key west to san diego to seattle iron butt "four corners" ride ... we had lunch, then, both of us a bit road weary, we motored north ... the ride back to maine was uneventful ... uneventful, that is, as long as you don't consider mid-50°f temperatures in june eventful ... i think that between the recent hot weather i suffered and my i'm-almost-home lack of energy i probably chilled easily, whatever the reason i had to stop and don much of my cold weather gear ...

... i've covered the bike, piled all my gear on the table, enjoyed a hot shower, and finished a piping hot bowl of fresh cooked ramen noodles ... it's true, life is good ... as soon as i finish winding down i'll go slip into bed, which is awaiting me all freshly made just as i left it, but first i'd like to provide an epilog to my little story:

... carl and jane and family, phil and susan and family, for your wonderful hospitality and high "moocher tolerance" level, which allowed me plan and enjoy a much richer experience, thank you ...

... jon, for lending me your home, as if i'd booked a suite in the finest of hotels, thank you ... it was difficult to leave (your refrigerator i emptied might've had something to do with it, i'm afraid) ...

... mike and beth, thank you for making it so that on my drive back east i got to return home twice ...

... adrien, who jumped out of an airplane while i was away, who nourishes people, and liz, who dusted my apartment, who helps little children learn to love learning, thank you, your encouragement and support means far more to me than i can ever express ...

... and, of course, all of you, who shared my journey, thank you ... without you at my side this would have been nothing but a drive across the countryside ... instead, by allowing me to connect my life to yours, you helped insure that this wandering would become one of my life's great journeys ... thank you, thank you very much ...




June 5, 2013

OHIO TO MAINE ON TWO WHEELS - DAY 8


... weathered ruins, similar to those found on the heights overlooking the shoreline at normandy or at the edge of the white sand just above the high water mark on on the windswept beaches of distant pacific ocean atolls ... these remnants of earth-banked concrete fortifications, however, are along the rocky bluffs of "the beavertail," the southern tip of conanicut island in narragansett bay ... in various ways the anchorages and approaches of this huge natural harbor have been strategically defended since the french & indian wars, but it was during the intensive build up prior to world war 2 that extensive forts and observation sites were constructed surrounding the bay ... most have been graded back into the landscape, to the point that casual summer tourists and campers, residents and out-of-staters alike, are for the most part unaware of the foundations upon which many of the state parks have been constructed ... never to fire a shot in anger, designed by those whose mindset dismissed air power as inconsequential, these fortifications were already obsolete when the war began, and would have been completely useless defending against an invasion supported by carrier based air support ... when i was in college, i knew students who actually lived in some of these underground structures, and, even now, i know of some of the entrances hidden away in the undergrowth that were overlooked by the state landscaping crews ...


... i met this sweet couple just below the lighthouse ... he told me that he had sold his jeep, but that he enjoyed playing with his rather complex radio controlled vehicle ... when i asked her she smiled, "no, i don't play with toys, i've still got a real one at home" ...


... he seemed to be having so much fun, and equally she seemed to enjoy that he was ... that was a nice thing to see ...


... as i've said before, "rats with wings," but floating in the wind coming off the sea, when they're not begging for food or decorating my car, i find them to be the epitome of grace ...


... i've been snapping pictures of seagulls since the first time one crossed in front of me while i had a camera in hand ... that my little olympus only has a wide angle and isn't really designed for taking such pictures, well, some habits are not to be dismissed ...


... over forty years ago, on this very spot, my good friend m------- and i sat cuddled in a blanket ... we remained well after the sun had set behind us and through the soft fog the ocean below had become nothing but a gentle song, and, even then, it was difficult to get up and return to time ...


... i don't think i've ever visited the beavertail without taking a picture of one of these pretty flowers ...


... my brother treated me to a nice lunch at a japanese restaurant, one where both the quality and presentation of the food is an art form elevated to the level of almost-religion ... we shared a nice drive to jamestown, then down along the shore to narragansett for a cup of coffee ... mike and i talked of how the coast had changed, and how it hadn't, and of how my ma had so loved her drives along the shore ... we had a good time ...

... tomorrow is to be the last leg of my little wander-about ...



June 4, 2013

OHIO TO MAINE ON TWO WHEELS - DAY 7

... my brother took me to lunch and to share a little cribbage visit with his friend ...



... after having a nice conversation with the owner of the restaurant about driving motorcycles, i enjoyed watching mike and bill play cribbage ... i know the game, but i've still not mastered the art of counting, or, to be more accurate, these two can play a full hand in the time it takes me to determine, usually inaccurately, how many points i've earned ...



... if you don't know my brother, this is not his serious face ... that brow of his, since i can first remember, it's had that furrowed look ... 


... i went out to get some contact cement to fix the back seat storage area on mike's impala ... after getting a tube of cement at benny's i wandered a bit, ending up stopping in front of the pawn shop that for years and years was knight's garage ... here is the very spot that i met my first car, a kelly green datsun 510—at that time what was called the "poor man's bmw" ... after having them install a z-car wooden steering wheel and shift knob, the final cost was $2,400 ...


... across the street from knight's garage is an empty marquee ... once, a long, long time ago, the brightly illuminated sign served enticement to passing motorists that they stop for supper at "henry ladder's log cabin" ... ma told me that she and pa would hang out there after closing, playing cards with the owner ... while mike explored and involved himself in his usual shenanigans, i was confined beneath the table in a cage composed of chair and table legs ... not to fret, apparently i found great joy in my companions in captivity, a pot full of huge stainless steel spoons and spatulas and an assortment of wooden restaurant kitchen utensils ... later, years after we'd moved away to distant parts of the globe, the log cabin became  a nightclub know as "the station" ...


... is was here, on february 21, 2003, that 100 people died in a fire that began when pyrotechnics set off by the band "the great white" ignited highly inflammable foam that had been applied to the walls and ceiling of the building as sound proofing ... it was only a minute or so from the time the blaze began until there was no chance of escape for those who couldn't find their way to safety in the dense suffocating smoke ...

... one hundred people, in a floor space not a whole lot bigger than a large american house, dead ... 


... there's more than enough blame to go around ... the band, and its manager, for using fireworks never intended for the type of space they were playing ... the owners of the nightclub, for allowing the number of patrons to exceed the legal capacity of the building, for failing to provided adequate fire escape routes, for accepting the use of sound deadening material that was not fire proof (indeed, was the exact opposite, highly flammable) ... the town building inspectors, for not properly carrying out their duties ... the list goes on, but, of course, it's a compilation means nothing to the dead ...


... now, over ten years later, the photographs continue to fade ...


... once brightly painted wooden crosses ever so slowly decay  away to the dark, sad earth that fills what was once the building's foundation ...


... bleaching in the sun, color fades from the icons and mementos tenderly offered as symbols of love and life and loss ....


... there is no glistening marble here, nor a wall of names ... no monument, no memorial, not even the temporary sign that once shouted indignantly to the world the outrage of the relatives of the dead, it, too, is gone ... i think back to my journal entry from that beautiful hillside along the lincoln highway in pennsylvania, to the words i penned as i listened to the whispers of the ghosts in a once blood soaked cornfield in maryland, and i ask myself questions ...

... i'm told, "it's been voted, the money's in the bank, soon, soon something will be erected to honor the dead, to help us so that we won't forget" ...

... but, for now, all i see is that one-hundred people died, and the cars just drive by, and this little patch of earth, beautifully lush in overgrown green and pretty wildflowers, it seems so empty, quiet, like the silence of the witness room to an execution ... here, i think, in this tranquil lot, a hundred souls are holding their breath ... so it seems, did i ...

- - - - -

... for supper mike and beth cooked especially for me what was absolutely one of best hamburgers i have ever in my entire life eaten ... it had green stuff on it that i found so delicious that i added extra to my burger ... on my little wanderabout, another great day ...





June 3, 2013

OHIO TO MAINE ON TWO WHEELS - DAY 6

... exhausted, i slept like a log last night ... (pa once said, "why do you say that, a log is a piece of a dead tree, it's not waking up") ... i asked my butt, which responded, "yes, i'd appreciate a day off," so mike took me over to barb and bob's house ...

... we got lost on way, which brought back the memory of ma, frustrated, "well, it's somewhere around here" ... mike took out his iphone and used the g.p.s. to find our way ... ah, the wonders of our age ...

 ... barb was one of ma's best friends, for the past three years her husband has been building a 1932 three-window ford coupe ...

... this is neither "restoration" nor "kit car," bob's project involves constructing his very own custom version of the ford ... the final car will not be a show car, it is meant to be a machine within which he and barbara can enjoy cruising the countryside ...

... i took notes, but left them at the house, so i'll have to do the best i can with the details ... this is a 350 cubic inch v-8 chevrolet engine that bob destroked to 327 cubic inches displacement ... that means the engine will have a little less torque but will be much more responsive to throttle commands ... at well over 300 horsepower, i don't think there'll be any problem with the lightweight car emulating the space shuttle at take-off ... and, yes, those of you who know a thing or two about these things, this engine is most definitely not supposed to fit into a 1932 ford coupe ... i am absolutely amazed at the "adjustments" bob has created in order to make this magic trick work ...

... when finished the car will have no outside door or trunk handles, everything that opens will do so at the press of a button ... it appears to me that the wire is one of those "enough to go around the world" things ...

... i said, "stand in front of it like a teenager with his car" ... he did ... how cool ...

... this is kind of what it'll look like when he's finished ... 'cept his will have a hard top, fatter tires, no door handles, and will have a humongous engine ...

... back home, i decided to take a little stroll around the yard ...

... these are "bearded irises" ... i know that because beth is sitting next to me ... i always like these flowers, especially because they look so pretty without really looking like flowers ...

... these little flowers are "love-in-a-mist" ... what a neat name ...

... what can i say, "barbecue craticulam" ...

... clematis "ramona" ... so absolutely beautiful that i'm compelled to present them again ...

... i stood so long barefooted in the wet grass looking at these flowers and photographing them that my toes became a bit pruned ...

... a fern, i think, offered humbly as homage to van dyke and adams and the other members of their little "school" ...

... tonight i'm taking mike and beth to see "star trek" ... what a nice day ...