MAINE: my final frontier. These are the voyages of the Scooter Vespa 250 i.e. Super. Its continuing mission - to explore America's most heavily forested state - to roam the vast coastline, numberless lakes, and mighty mountains. To boldly go where no scooter has gone before!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Things to do at York Beach

In the town of York, Maine are three separate and quite different beaches. Both Short Sands and Harbor Beaches are small stretches of sand with gentle surf. Long Sands Beach, the subject of this post, is, well, long.

Nearly a mile in length, it has fairly decent surf, and room for hundreds of visitors. But not all of them swim or surf. On a recent trip to Long Sands, I found the following:

Intricate sand drawing

Simple sand drawing

Walking along the beach at low tide

A Karate class

The class starts on the beach and ends up deep in the surf

Introducing a baby to the surf

Me, sans GTS, contemplating my next photo

Young lady dancing

Father and son playing baseball

Sisters burying their brother in the sand

Family playing baseball - from her body language, Mom doesn't seem to think much of  Dad's easy pitch to their son

"Yeah, I'm at the beach, but I can multi-task ... "

The best use of the beach - sit and relax

Two old men pretending to swim. Wait, that's me and my brother-in-law Dick - pretending to swim

Saturday, August 13, 2011

You can't ride if you can't find your key

Everybody loses something sometime. I seem destined for the Stuff Loser's Hall of Fame. Even with my Vespa key on a lanyard, along with a tube with my aging man's medications, my house keys, and my cell phone, I've been unable to ride several times this summer due to lack of a key.

Here are the only three places my scooter key is supposed to be:

Around my neck on the lanyard

On a hook in my study, on the lanyard

In the GTS ignition, with the lanyard around my neck and with me on the scooter

With that introduction, allow me to share a chapter from what I hope one day will become a published book called "Lucky Boy." Briefly, it's the account of my life as an adopted child, and my stubborn, stupid unwillingness to accept the reality of my great good fortune, instead choosing to become a (expletives deleted - there are no acceptable descriptions).

The opening line: "Adoption is a crap shoot. I got lucky."

Thank God for little things  

I wish there was a face-saving way to explain it, but the fact is that I lose everything. Surely I’m not alone in this malady. No one who possesses more than one thing not permanently attached to his body can keep track of even that one thing at all times.

Suppose a caveman owned only a single club—isn’t it likely that he set it down for a moment, and forgot where he’d left it, sending him into a frantic search? After all, back in those days before guns and civilization, losing your club left you defenseless.

Later, when our caveman acquired a knife, maybe a second club and a spare loincloth, the task of keeping his stuff together got more difficult.

So I don’t regard my inability to keep my things in order some new plague on my life alone. Everyone loses stuff all day, every day. I’d even wager that Eve lost the first apple with which she tried to tempt poor dumb Adam.

“Here, honey, I’ve got something new I’d like to show you,” one can hear her say. “Oh, nuts, where did I put that thing?”

Well, dear,” says patient old Adam, “call me when you find it.”

From the Bible we know that Eve found the forbidden fruit, and that Adam ate it, for suddenly the pair realized that they were naked, and carefree nudity went the way of the Dodo and the dinosaur. That was probably the only instance in history when finding a lost item diminished the world of man.

Back in the present day, my difficulty creates infuriating disarray. Before I’ve been awake for half an hour, some vital object that was at my fingertips at bedtime has slipped its mooring and threatens to disrupt my day. And once behind schedule, I know I will never catch up.

Once, I lost my car in a parking garage. Up and down I walked, searching for an hour or more. When the garage closed for the night, I still hadn’t found my car, and was doomed to walk home in the cold and dark of midnight. With sore, leaden feet, I began to trudge home when I found my car, parked on the street where I had left it.

Like everyone else, I’ve lost hats and coats, mittens and gloves, keys and wallets, baseball bats and gloves. I’ve spent a small fortune replacing misplaced items, usually just before I discover where I’d left the thing days or weeks before.

I think I was around 16- or 17-years-old when my mother, gentle and kind and pure of speech, made a statement that, while not helping me even a tiny bit in finding my misplaced car keys, put at least some things in place, and helped to appreciate God’s small gifts.

As I tore madly through our house, desperately late for school, sweating profusely, near tears of fury, I screamed, “Where the hell are my keys?”

Mom calmly said, “Well, Tommy, thank God for scrotums.”

I stopped short and stared at my mother. How does a teenaged boy react to that, coming from his mother. I didn’t realize that she even knew the term. And what was that supposed to mean, anyway?

Frankly, I was halfway to school—on foot—before I got the point: “You lost your keys today. Yesterday it was your homework assignment. Tomorrow you’ll find something else to lose. But at the very least, you have a couple of things you’ll never lose.”

I’m fairly certain that that was Mom’s lesson. Either that, or “Never own more than you can carry in a small sack.”

Thursday, August 11, 2011


It’s been said that confession is good for the soul; if that’s true, I hope I begin to feel better soon. I haven’t posted here for several weeks. And even this post is late because I lost the photos and the word document somewhere in the labyrinth of my computer.

My problem over the past two weeks has been a paralysis of the will. I haven’t been able to function much because of a terrifying event that would occur on August 5. I confess I didn’t handle the pressure like a grownup, and everything from riding to blogging to writing to eating and exercise suffered drastically.

The event I dreaded was the trip to the wedding of my niece in Boston. I was invited with my dear wife Kathy, and while she played the adult, I served as a reminder that some people never truly grow up.

You must understand that this involved things I fear like the plague, dread like a trip to the dentist. For a moment, it might help to picture me as a six-year-old spoiled brat, instead of a 62-year-old – well – spoiled brat.

First, I had to get to Boston. I am a life-long, deeply committed Red Sox fan, but when I had the opportunity several years ago to go to Fenway to watch Boston’s Double A team from Portland play in a minor league game, not just as a fan, but as a writer (I have covered the Portland Sea Dogs for 10 years for various newspapers and magazines), I did not go. I could have walked on the grass, stood behind the batting cage, sat in the dugout and talked to the players before the game. But I would have to get to Boston. Fear won and I stayed home.

This time, I promised my brother I surely be there for his daughter’s wedding. Long story short – we took the Amtrak Downeaster. Nice trip, actually. But once in Boston, we had to get to the Old North Church. Too far to walk – we took a taxi. No big deal, you say?

I am 62 and have never, ever been in a taxi. My philosophy is simple: If I don’t drive, I don’t go. But I’d made a promise to a man whom I have spent a lifetime disappointing. We took the taxi. To keep from falling into a coma, I talked. I talked a lot. I mean, I talked like a politician – a lot of words without a shred of meaning or sincerity.

Now we are at one of America’s most famous historical sites; the Old North Church, where a pair of lanterns informed Paul Revere that the British were coming, and by sea. It’s truly inspiring and beautiful. But the church was hot, crowded, noisy, filled with people I did not know. And I was becoming very nervous.

Suddenly, a pipe organ began to play. Softly at first, a familiar tune. Bach, I thought. Yes. Bach. But this sound was astounding, the organist’s touch perfect.

I have heard E. Power Biggs play Bach on the Kotzschmar Organ in Portland’s City Hall; built in 1912, it is one of the largest organs in the world.

This was better, finer, sweeter. My son Tim looked at me with deeply worried eyes. (He told me later that he believed I was having a stroke.) I cannot find words to explain it. It’s useless to try. I just kept saying, “That sound, that organ …

From that point on, until Kathy and I returned home 13 hours after leaving, nothing could burst the aural bubble surrounding me. After the service ended, I climbed to the organ loft and met Peter Krasinski, the organist. He asked if he could play something for me; I asked for “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” As the happy folks below headed to the wedding reception, I heard a sound far beyond my ability to describe. (Mr. Krasinski’s website is It’s really good – especially the silent movie videos.)

Two young lives about to be made one. Both look a tad nervous.


No nerves now! And Craig has already learned that even a half-decent looking groom walks behind a most stunning and beautiful bride.

Speaking of beautiful - the blonde in the sunlight is my niece Krista. 

And while we're talking about beauty, the young lady on the left is my niece Leaha, with Krista on the right, and my brother David in the middle.

Lowering the level a bit - here I am, on the right, with David and my sister Kate. Just after this picture was taken, a friend of my brother's said, "Dave, you don't look anything like your brother." Kate explained that, in fact, both she and I were adopted, while Dave came along naturally.

"Well, David, you've got some lovely daughters; I see where they got their good looks." Then, with a little laugh, glancing from Dave's trim figure, to Kate's glowing smile, to my pot belly, he said, "Well, nice to meet you, Kate. And you too, Tom."

I'm not going to argue with Dave's judgmental friend, but if he's reading this - even the less-than-perfect fathers can produce good looking kids.

The young man is my youngest son, Tim, with his wife Meredith.

And I assure you, my other two sons are handsome as well. (It's easy if one marries a beautiful girl.)

Dad and daughter dance. David wore the biggest, happiest smile I have ever seen on his face!

After an spectacular reception, Kathy and I took a taxi back to North Station. We were the only people who didn’t stay at a hotel. I have a house and a bed, and I see no reason not to sleep in my own home. (Kathy has stayed with me for 38 years – she is unquestionably the most patient and understanding person in the world. People who know us always ask, softly so I don’t hear, “How do you do it?”)