While sitting in my doctor’s waiting room I chatted with a pleasant man sitting across from me.

“Why,” I asked, “do you pull your mask away from your mouth when you speak?”

He said, “Because I’m deaf.”

Comments like that fascinate – much like the stories that you simply have to accept, like them or not. I’m talking about implausible things like the Maine Volvo station wagon with no ski racks or the three-quarter-ton monster black pickup truck without a Trump sticker. I recently heard that somewhere, way up north of Madison, there is a Maine man who says he has a big enough barn.

Because we don’t dare go to Florida this winter, we need another barn for the car and, somewhat like one of the three little pigs, I am building one out of sticks and plastic. My neighbor, Jimmy Parker, has a plastic barn in which he builds boats in comfort all winter. As this goes to press, mine, which is just like his, is complete except for the two hinged garage doors.

You will not be surprised to hear that Maine people will stand in line for a chance to tell you how to do anything, and erecting plastic buildings is no exception. I post a daily progress report on my Facebook page – replete with pictures – and have been advised that the building will blow away in the first November gale, that the roof will fall in under the first snow and that without purlins, it not only fails to meet code but also could earn me a managerial position in any construction company in Queens.


If it were summer and there were no plague, I’d put out a row of chairs in the driveway where you and my other friends could sit and either applaud or shout constructive criticism. My wife, Marsha, could be kept busy selling bottles of water and popcorn.

There will come a day when this wonderful plastic building, and everything else, will belong to the oldest of Marsha’s three grandchildren. Yes, the oldest one gets it all. Since they were toddlers they’ve all known that there will be none of this selling the farm, which is in conservation, and splitting the money three ways. That’s a proven way to destroy an estate.

When she was able to walk, the child started acrobatic dancing so she’s been at it for 15 or more years. She also plays soccer and is a force to be reckoned with because the acrobatics have made her wicked nimble. After years of acrobatic dancing, this child can run along, jump in the air, do a somersault, land on her feet and never break her stride.

Suppose you were out on the soccer field and someone is running toward you when all of a sudden she jumps in the air and flips upside-down and lands on her feet like Spiderman and is still coming at you. I don’t know about you, but it would scare the bejeezus out of me.

Aged grandparents remember some things very well, and you can understand why just talking about them makes some of our neighbors uncomfortable. When I was a little boy, a few of the older boys in town were fighting Nazis in Europe. Months before they volunteered to go, I saw World War I veteran Ralph Cline training them with hunting rifles in our field. “Cline’s Hellcats” would run and crawl around. Years later, those who came home squeezed into their uniforms and proudly marched with American flags in every Memorial Day parade. Risking one’s life to fight evil was an honorable thing to do.

If those old veterans were alive today, what do you think they’d say when they saw on their great-grandchildren’s lawns the political signs of a presidential candidate who has the enthusiastic support of American neo-Nazis?

It’s the day-to-day things that old folks are likely to forget. Years ago, before Marsha would leave for work, she’d simply tell me what to do, but I would often forget so she started asking me to look her in the eyes and to listen closely. “When the pork chops have thawed, put them in the refrigerator.”

But even then I’d forget, so she now embellishes her requests with a bit of poetry. The other morning before she left she asked me to look into her eyes and listen closely. And then she said, “When the pork chops have thawed, put them in the refrigerator. If you do not do so, the meat will spoil and when you eat them you will die.”

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

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