No matter how old you get, there is always a bright side to every ache and pain. This morning I discovered that if I coughed long enough I got so warm I could take off my jacket and mittens.

And no matter how long a man lives with a woman, he never learns to read her mind. Oh yes, when she comes into the room you know from her body language, or the position of her eyebrows, exactly what she’s going to say – much like Jiggs did when he saw Maggie leaning against the door casing. But when she’s out of sight there is no way of knowing what is on her mind.

Because we have no barn cat, I run a string of 15 or so mousetraps. Mice are in the garden, in the barn, under the steps. Every day I feed one or two to the crow friends. For years I baited with peanut butter. But if the ants didn’t eat it first, the mice learned to lick the trigger dry, so I shifted to sharp cheese. Sharp cheese makes great bait because you can eat one of two pieces while you’re cutting it into little squares.

We know that bacon is good bait, too, and because ham is about the same thing I cut up a scrid that was left over from supper.

“What are you doing with my ham?”

“Mousetrap bait.”

“You leave it right there. I was saving it for my salad.”

You know that I seldom get excited or worked up about anything, so you’ll be glad to hear that my wife, Marsha, can still say things that make me sit up and take notice.

She does word puzzles on her iPad, and I just heard her ask the Google machine what “plumbago” was.

You can imagine that captured my attention.

I thought it was one more disease that I hadn’t had yet.

We are pretty hip for old folks, with computers and iPads within reach in two living rooms and a Google talking machine in our dining room. We use that for the weather report, a kitchen timer and other things.

“Hey Google, alarm in three minutes.” And in three minutes the ignorant Google machine rings a chime so you can turn off the heat under your rolled oats.

You might not know that the Google machine takes on the habits of its owners. I often misunderstand what my wife, Marsha, The Almost Perfect Woman, says, and Google now often sounds just like me. One afternoon I sat by Google, looking out at the cow friends across the road and, in a whimsical mood, said, “Hey, Google. How do I get my cows to stop mooing?”

Google said, “How do I get my car to stop moving? Remove your foot from the accelerator and depress the clutch …”

Marsha says that with two of us in the house she doesn’t know how much longer she can hang on.

Yes. Beneath the veneer of even happy homes burns the white hot flames of conflict.

Only those who tuned in late don’t know that I like to see clover 2 inches high in my back lawn, but management thinks a lawn looks good only if you can see dirt between each struggling blade of grass. Dirt and dust fly when she mows.

(As I write this she interrupted me with my noontime fruit plate with peeled orange, cut-up apple and freshly made zucchini bread.)

Today the conflict overflowed into the kitchen when I cooked my hot dog for dinner. I started by placing a frozen hot dog in my rolled oats pan, knowing that although one-third of it stuck up out of the pan, it would eventually thaw, like a stiff piece of spaghetti, and gradually ease itself down into the boiling water.

While I was in the cellar putting the wash in the dryer, my hotdog was unceremoniously transferred into a frying pan – for no other reason than to exercise that mantle of authority she assumed the first day she walked in here and started to cook, scrub, clean and paint.

I am a quiet, understanding man.

There is no need of making a fuss over small, insignificant matters, and as soon as I bring in her paint and scrapers so she can start on the windows, I am going to have a nap.

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at:

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