Posts Tagged ‘maine’

Ahhhh….retirement. It was a time I have looked forward to for many years and as the jump-off point moved closer, time seemed to slow exponentially until that last day of work. It has been only 3 weeks since that major day and so far…it has been very enjoyable. It has also been very busy. I have come to the conclusion that I need to slow things down a bit. I go to bed later, get up later and time and “what day it is” matters not one damned bit. I am now back on Indian time. Cyclic, not linear.  I enjoyed this when I worked on the reservation and I do like it now…
I do miss facets of the job I had. I worked as an addiction counselor for adjudicated youth and adult offenders in the corrections field. I have to say that one of the things I miss is the clients. I met many good people who had a substance problem that wound up doing time. I felt a connection with many of the men I met and worked with and if times had been different, we could of been friends. This type of work can be frustrating and the success rate is dismal, but when on rare occasion something clicked and changes were made, it was good. When I walked into the prison and was greeted with “good morning, Dave” and it was sincere, I felt like anything was possible.  I also had an understanding that (so I was told on numerous occasions) I was not all that therapeutic.  In fact, it was suggested that if a prison riot came to be, I would have been the one to instigate it.  It was made doubly clear with the nickname given me…Cob.  (Crusty old bastard).  I wore it with honor…
Now my days are filled with projects and chores. This also is good and challenging and fulfilling. I am slowly getting back into shape after sitting at a desk for years and those projects that had been on the back burner are prioritized and headed in the direction of completion.
My latest project has been restoring an older model (2000) slide in truck camper that I will test with a trip back to Maine in 3 weeks. So far, I have had to rebuild a rear corner as water had penetrated and rotted some of the infrastructure. Now, it is more solid than when it came off the factory floor 15 years ago. I also have on my travel list a trip to the Rocky Mountain National Park for some R&R and maybe a journey down to New Mexico for some good Mexican food. And maybe another trip out to the Big Horns in Wyoming and then shoot up into the back country of Montana. Time will tell but the options are there.  Hmmm…where is that freaking fishing pole?



Addendum:  1 year later…Lost the illusion.

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There are times I sit in amazement that I have made it the 63 years I have lived. I now realize that each day is a gift, to be spent wisely and enjoyably, but when I look back over my early years at some of the decisions I had made, I shake my head.   Oh, we had the usual baseball games in the local pastures, and we enjoyed many camping excursions,  sports had it’s limits. We needed excitement in our boring, young lives, and we developed the means for obtaining our adrenaline rush.

Of all our playgrounds, our choice was the local truss bridge which spanned the Androscoggin River, one of the three largest rivers in Maine. We would climb over the side of the bridge and slowly make our way down to the middle support pier, located in a section of river that would sweep anyone who fell, into an area of boulders and whitewater rapids. Or taking the other route, we would shimmy up the angled truss beams and walk over the upper horizontals plate beams. The high point being that when a large vehicle crossed the bridge, we would prepare by laying flat on the beams and was always granted several seconds of sheer terror as the bridge creaked, groaned, vibrated, and swayed with the movement the vehicle passing under us. This rush was well worth the consequences we would receive if we were caught. I am also very appreciative that my mother does not use a computer, so I can confess without fear of a mother’s wrath.


Turner, Me

Center Bridge, Turner, Maine

As I am sitting here remembering those distant times, I am still in awe that I am sitting here at all.  Having had the freedom to make my mistakes when I was younger, and to learn, for the most part, from those mistakes, has slowly given me a contented and appreciative perspective on life.


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Sometimes you have to travel back in time… I miss childhood. I miss the way I took delight in the tiniest of things and those simple pleasures that I grew up with stay with me. I remember many summer nights, leaning from the dormer window where I watched the Androscoggin River drift and roll like a long silver snake in the moonlight.  Further on, across that river shone a single light from Jenny’s Country Store. The crisp, clean air in the backwoods of Maine echoed nightly with the whip-poor-wills and peepers competing for top honor. I watched hay fields filled with the dizzying aerobatics of hundreds of fireflies and also remember the uncountable flickering of stars, easily picked out my favorite constellations and marveled the white frosted band my Dad told me they called the Milky Way. I took much joy in those simpler times.


Now, looking back over the 6 decades of attempting to be a human being, I seem to have become disengaged with what is happening in the world today. I don’t know if this is part of the aging sequence or that I have placated defeat in my battle to understand human decisions and choices. I do understand the problems we are facing as a population and I am aware of the consequences if we do not find solutions. When younger, I worried about the world, where it was going and grasping onto anything solid when the global odyssey hit snags along the way. Now the bumps seem to manifest themselves with ever more severity, dwindling tolerance and patience and a growing sense of confusion and frustration.


The brainstorming for solutions are better left to those younger people who have found the passion and bravery to face the challenges of the future, while I sit quietly among the pine trees, listening to the coyotes and wind.  There has been ‘No easy 8’s” in this saga but it sure did create some awesome memories.


From sun rise to sunset.


Sunrise in Maine

Sunrise in Maine



Sunset in South Dakota

Sunset in South Dakota



“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was*?” Satchel Paige (1906-1982)

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Ignacio is a crusty old bastard.  Or so everyone told me after I met him for the first time.  He was one of those mixed breeds of men, a blood line blended from all the major human food groups.  He had a look of an old warrior, eyes that could penetrate the soul of any man and a laugh that was contagious as any I have ever encountered.

I met him that first time a number of months ago when I asked him to share my table at one of the many over-crowded greasy spoon diners that permeate the Midwest landscape along Interstate 90.  He had an air of “I don’t give a shit” and another one that said “Don’t fuck with me”, yet he seemed amiable enough when he sat down and nodded a thank you in my direction.

“How be ya, son?”, he asked me in an accent that had that a twinge of that “Downeast Mainah” thing going on.

“I recognize that accent.  You from Maine?”, I asked.

“Ayuh” he chuckled as he exaggerated the word, “Born and raised up around a place called Millinocket.  The gateway to nowhere.   Left there to join the military back in 71 and never looked back.  Get up that way to visit once in a while, but wouldn’t move back to live. Pretty country but the politics sucks.  Too many educated idiots making too many regulations to live by. 

“So, what brings you out this way?”, I asked

“Hell, this is probably just another stop along the way, although a longer stop than usual.  Since Vietnam, I really haven’t stopped moving.  I like variety, both in work and in location…..and in my women.” He added with what looked like an innocent grin though it was difficult to tell under his shaggy, salt and pepper beard. 

“Quite the gypsy.  Sounds like you have had an interesting life.”, I said

“Had?…Shit, man…I ain’t dead yet.” He laughed as his plate of home cooked beans and steak was dropped in front of him.  He looked up at the young waitress.

“Thank you, Emma.  Looks and smells great.”

“Any time Roach.”, she said as she walked off.

“Ok. You’re not dead yet.  Any plans for the future? I asked, hoping that it would lead into a longer conversation.  His demeanor and his attitude created this certain curiosity.  There might be a story somewhere inside this man’s life. 

“What was Maine like…growing up”? I asked. “And…Roach?”

He just looked at me with those black eyes of his and said something about Roach being another story.  I accepted that graciously and commenced to eating the greasy cheeseburger I had ordered, along with the greasy fries and my weakness…chocolate milk.

“Growing up in Maine?  Probably like any other backwoods country place during the 50’s.  We never locked our doors; we raised our own meat and vegetables and hunted when we needed to.  Were we poor?  My dad worked hard for little money, but we never were cold or hungry and we enjoyed ourselves as much as any kids of that time.  So, no, we were not poor by those standards.  Using today’s elitist criteria for measuring “poor people”, I would have to say we would probably be called poor today.  God damned government idiots.  Have to put a label on everything, based on unrealistic statistics, just to validate to themselves that they are important and that we are too stupid to take care of ourselves without government assistance.  Shit, what I carry in the treads of my boots has more value than most politicians.”

“Problem with today, son, is the government is running scared.  Politicians are scared of losing their ill-gotten and undeserved benefits and their status with the people is lower than whale shit.  Government agencies have infringed themselves into people’s lives without permission and they are now beginning to understand that the citizens of this country are becoming extremely pissed off.  Rules, regulations, licenses, fees, taxes, spying and a whole shitload of other unnecessary crap.  Ain’t much that does get me riled except the fucking government, religious fanatics….. and thieving insurance companies.” he added with another grin.

“So, who the hell are you”?, he asked.

“My name is Bruce Swanson.  I make my living by writing and photography.  Nothing special, but it pays the bills.” I answered him.

“Shit, that is all that counts.  Doing something you like and earning enough money to get through life.  More people need to follow their dreams but don’t have the cojones to do so.  Be a lot less bitching to listen to if they did.” He said as he finished his plate.

“Anyway, thanks for the chair and have a good one.”,  he said as he pushed his chair from the table, dropped a couple dollars for a tip and headed to the cashier.

For some reason, I liked the coot.  He was opinionated and sometimes vulgar but he was the genuine article.  He wasn’t like the many people I have met that offered little, if any, transparency of their life.  Always trying to impress with exaggerated innuendos of how great they are.  This guy didn’t care one bit if you liked him or not, had actually lived the political history of the social upheaval of the 60’s, of the hippy movement with their “Peace, love, dove and pass the joint” philosophy and the vulgar events of Vietnam.  And due to his long history he could definitely understand that the recent raping of the Constitution by our so-called leaders is a serious problem that would eventually come to a head.  I needed to learn more about this guy.  What actually made him tick and how he faced life with patience, understanding and a slightly off kilter perspective that might make for good reading.  Now all I had to do was figure out a way to get to know him without pissing him off.  This type of guy you don’t piss off.  I needed a plan……(con’t)

Fish Pond, Northern Maine in autumn.

Fish Pond, Northern Maine in autumn.


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I took these shots from from an open ridge, looking west into the hills and mountains of western Maine. Though I may never return there to live, I find places like this a way to reconnect….


The fire ignites…


The blaze finds fuel…


The sky exploded and the clouds caught fire.


The most powerful weapon on earth is the fire of the human spirit.


Fire on the Mountain: Marshall Tucker Band


Took my fam’ly away from my Carolina home 
Had dreams about the West and started to roam 
Six long months on a dust covered trail 
They say heaven’s at the end but so far it’s been hell 
And there’s fire on the mountain, lightnin’ in the air 
Gold in them hills and it’s waitin’ for me there 

We were diggin’ and siftin’ from five to five
Sellin’ everything we found just to stay alive
Gold flowed free like the whiskey in the bars
Sinnin’ was the big thing, lord and Satan was his star 
And there’s fire on the mountain, lightnin’ in the air 
Gold in them hills and it’s waitin’ for me there 

Dance hall girls were the evenin’ treat
Empty cartridges and blood lined the gutters of the street
Men were shot down for the sake of fun
Or just to hear the noise of their forty-four guns
And there’s fire on the mountain, lightnin’ in the air
Gold in them hills and it’s waitin’ for me there

Now my widow she weeps by my grave
Tears flow free for her man she couldn’t save
Shot down in cold blood by a gun that carried fame
All for a useless and no good worthless claim

And there’s fire on the mountain, lightnin’ in the air
Gold in them hills and it’s waitin’ for me there
Fire on the mountain, lightnin’ in the air
Gold in them hills and it’s waitin’ for me there
Waitin’ for me there



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Sleep did not last long so I decided to visit my friend, the ocean. A gypsy light, subtle yet slowly expanding reigned over the deep waters. The ever-present song of surf against rock surrounded and enveloped my walk along the craggy cliffs. As the sun rose, diamonds danced upon the waters while the cries of gulls kept time.  I have been here before, witnessing the same sounds and the smell of the salt air carried on a cool breeze.  I will be here forever.


From Cape Elizabeth, Maine…






Life on the rocks…



Miniature Worlds…

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Back in Maine.  Some random shots of the old homestead…


Overtaking the homestead…



Western Hills…



After the rain



Beaver dam…



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