Sunday, July 30, 2006

Coffee Break No More

I was saddened to read an obituary in today’s Maine Sunday Telegram about the passing of Margery Eliscu. I am actually surprised the newspaper didn’t have a featured story about Marge, but perhaps they are working on that now.

Marge wrote a weekly column in the MST which I must admit to enjoying on many occasions. Like me, Marge was born in New York City and, according to the obituary, grew up out on “the Island” – Long Island, NY for those of you not from the area. Also like me, Marge fell in love with Maine and came with her husband Larry to live here permanently in 1970, which interestingly is the year I first came to Maine and fell in love.

For 20 odd years, Marge penned the Coffee Break column which was a short personal reflection of her times and activities. In it, we regularly heard stories about Larry, their children, grandchildren, and particularly her daughter, “Kathy-the-nurse.” Her column had an Erma Bombeck quality, but it was always with a Maine flavor and I looked forward to reading her entry each week where she would sometimes rant about something; but always in good style and with lots of humor. In some ways, Marge wrote the first Maine blog, as her commentary had the same tone often found in blogs – but without all of the techno stuff. She was a writer ahead of her time.

I suspected something was not right when after a short hiatus early this year, her returning column referred to some medical issues which in typical form she dismissed in importance.

Then in July, the column disappeared completely and only a short note was found indicating the column would be gone “until further notice” or with some other ominous wording. I kept watch each Sunday following, hoping for the return. So, I guess I was not really surprised by the obituary today.

It looks like Marge Eliscu lived a long, full and happy life right to the end and was surrounded by her many friends and family. There are a couple of references in the obituary suggesting how Marge would like to be remembered:

“In her last days, her daughter Kathy (the nurse) asked if she had any wishes. ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘that everyone should be happy and well.’

“In Marge’s memory, it is requested that everyone who reads this hug their loved ones and laugh together!”

Consider it done, Marge.


Brooklyn in Maine

There is a "Brooklyn" in Maine, but it's spelled Brooklin. Located downeast near Blue Hill, it's a lovely area. I think I've passed through it once; quite remote.

But the picture in last Friday's Kennebec Journal was the other Brooklyn, the real Brooklyn, the place of my birth. Why it was included in a story about "housing starts" and a title "Big ticket durable goods orders rise" is beyond me. But the picture was interesting nonetheless.

This picture of Grand Army Plaza is not far from where I grew up in Clinton Hill. Not included in the picture, but just to the right of this scene is the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library where I spent may hours in my youth. In fact, we often took the Vanderbilt Ave bus (Route B69?) up Vanderbilt to GAP and then crossed in this very cross walk pictured. It is also right next to Prospect Park, the greatest urban park in the world (sorry Central Park enthusiasts).

The building shown in the picture being build is on an open lot which I remember being there as far back as the early 1960's. It's hard to believe that it has remained open all this time. But then again, this section of Brooklyn has seem more deterioration than building growth - until perhaps the last 10-15 years. Glad to see the neighborhood is growing in a positive direction.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Congratulations Tiger

Congratulations, Tiger Woods - 2006 Champion of the British Open


Bloglines is looking for some feedback (codeword: "freedback") on their service and have asked folks to blog their comments. So this entry is in response to that request.

Bloglines is great.

For those who don't know what Bloglines is (are?), basically it is a RSS aggregator that allows you to track and read various feeds. When Bloglines was first introduced, the primary source of RSS feeds were blogs. Now, many websites are providing RSS feeds including news services, weather and sports sites. So, Bloglines now becomes even more valuable since you can track lots of information on one page quick and easy. Also, because the application is web-based, you can use any browser, from any computer, to check your "lines." A great advantage. And, of course you may organize your feeds into catagories and even share them with others.

I've used several aggregators before Bloglines, but stopped looking once I found this service.

And, did I mention it was free?


Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Clean-Up

It didn't take long. The trucks and chainsaws have been rumbling and buzzing all day.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

No Wicked Witch - But Ding Dong Anyway

I need to get the song correct:

"It really was no miracle, what happened was just this....
The wind began to switch,
the house to pitch.
And suddenly the hinges started to unhitch.
Just then the Witch,
to satisfy an itch,
went flying on her broomstick thumbin' for a hitch.

And oh, what happened then was rich.
The house began to pitch,
the kitchen took a slitch.
It landed on the Wicked Witch in the middle of a ditch.
Which was not a healthy sit-
uation for the Wicked Witch..."

More pictures on the KJ Newpaper site. The E/PRO building and the Capital Buffet are all within 200 yards of my house.

Also in that article is a quote from my next door neighbors who were here with the winds flew (their's is one of the porches you see in my photos below). Here's the quote:

Laurette McGuire, of Old Winthrop Road in Augusta, said she lost four large poplar trees in her yard as the wind and rain kicked up very quickly -- almost out of nowhere, she said.

" 'Oh my Lord,' I told my husband," McGuire said. "It looked like a tornado, so I told him, 'Let's hit the decks,' you know? The trees were just lying down like dominoes on the ground. And, of course, there I was trying to rescue my plants on my deck. My husband said, 'Get in here, you ding dong.' So I did."

More pictures coming of the cleanup....vroom, vroom.


A Mighty Wind

I wasn't home when the "House began to pitch, the roof to hitch..." And there were no dead witches anywhere to be found. But these trees didn't make it.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Hot Fun in Summertime - Not!

Those who know me know I am not a fan of hot sticky atmospheric conditions. The primary reason for moving from NYC to Maine nearly 30 years ago was to find someplace that was cold most of the time. Until this past decade, Maine fit the bill.

Thanks to Mr. Bush and his conservative cronies, the consequences of Global Warming are becoming quite evident.

Last winter was one of the mildest on record with limited snow and temps never going below zero farenheit here in Augusta. This had been preceeded by the wettest year (2005) on record and followed by the wettest spring (2006) on record. Flooding caused havoc in the southern part of the state and the months of May, June and now July are recording excessive amounts of rain.

The ocean temps off of Portland - which by the way are reported every evening on the local weather - are running in the low to mid 60's, That is totally unheard of in these parts of the world. In a "regular" winter, the ocean temperature off Portland gets down to the very low 30s. Sometimes it even crosses over to below 32.

In the "good old days" the locals tell us the bays would always freeze and that you could often walk across Portland harbor to South Portland. Mind you, that was a very long time ago.

But seriously, I can remember many summers in the 1970s and 80s when you really could not go into the ocean off the coast of Maine until late July when the temps got into the high 50s. By comparison, the ocean temps in Florida are in the 70s in the winter and much higher in the summer. Maine is simply not a place where you spend a lot of time swimming in the ocean except in the southern most reaches of the state, and even then always for brief periods of time.

Being a bit of a weather buff (I believe all true Mainers are), I've made it my business to follow the various statistics. My family in NYC loves to kid me about this by asking if the tide is coming or going; something I almost always know. So, I predicted that this summer in Maine was going to be hot and damp. So far I have been correct. And, the predictions for this weekend are HHH. Ugh!

While Maine is the nation's Vacationland - at least according to our license plates - there is not much escape from the summer heat unless you own a camp on a lake or a place near the ocean. In central Maine, there are limited swimming pools and public beaches. The nearest is in Jefferson about 20 miles away and usually crowded beyond belief when it gets this hot.

So, crank up the A/C - thank God I have A/C - and look forward to the fall. Thankfully, it should be here in a few weeks.