When we got out of bed this morning I asked my wife, Marsha, The Almost Perfect Woman, a question:

“Do you think I could make you a cup of coffee?”

“I don’t want a cup of coffee. I’m going to do my exercises.”

Any man who is married knows that we had several more exchanges before I finally insisted in a firm, masculine voice, “Please answer the question. Do you think I could make you a cup of coffee?”

With a sad, sweet smile she softly said, “No. I don’t think you could.”

Having established my credentials, I will now mention a few of the accomplished friends who live within a mile of me in our tiny village of Wiley’s Corner.


Exceptional people have always lived quietly and unnoticed among us. They certainly exist in your community, and if you are clever enough to read this newspaper, the odds are in favor of you being one of them.

You understand that I’ve used pseudonyms only because some folks are uneasy if they see their name in the paper.

Albert can put an edge on a chisel that one could shave with. As years passed, we learned that with only a chisel he could uncover a 5-foot eagle with outspread wings that was hidden in a pine log, every feather in place and properly painted. The simple logistics in such a project stagger me. How can one ensure that every feather in the eagle is represented? And that it won’t crack when it dries out in a den in Scarsdale?

Albert looked at the wooden Pitman rod on a dysfunctional horse-drawn mowing machine and, without even seeming to have to think about it, knew just how much he had to shorten the rod to make the machine work. We are not talking about slide rules or computers here, but the intuition of an Archimedes climbing into a bathtub.

Like most gifted people, he is modest about his abilities. Because he can fix clocks, motors and gizmos – the right way the first time – fortunate are those who can call him a friend.

Steve builds fancy tables that sell for more than what I earned any year I taught school. For years Sammy produced illustrations for national magazines and The New York Times. John is reputedly licensed to repair the human eyeball.


Someone gave Eben an old car that he fixed up and sold. Aficionados would certainly tell us that any car worth more than the shop it came out of was not fixed up but completely “restored.”

Perhaps because Eben is famous for this restoration, he has been in demand as a judge at certain antique car rallies. The way I understand it, he even knows which cotter pins must be of hardened steel.

I heard that my great-great-grandmother’s brother, Church Fish, had a small shipyard less than a mile from where I am sitting. Here on the coast of Maine we all know someone who has built or worked on wooden boats. Or died young from building the fiberglass ones. But I am still in awe of my neighbor Ron, who can hack a keel out of an oak tree he has hauled into his dooryard – and saw and hack at more hunks of wood until he has a 30- or 40-foot lobster boat.

More revealing about his ability than anything I could say is an online ad for a lobster boat that says: “For sale. Just caulked by Ron.”

It goes without saying that these friends have more than one field of expertise. My congratulations to those who have escaped my attention.

These friends have two hands, as I do. And yet when I draw a picture of a person it is a round circle for a head and sticks for the body, the arms and the legs. My last construction project was a doorstep ramp that barely supported Marsha’s electric scooter. Fearing for her life, friends tore it out and replaced it.

Sadly, not everyone can excel in their occupation of choice. Marsha tells of her friend’s grown son who wants to get paid for playing guitar and singing hippie songs. Although he hangs out with those who do and performs every chance he gets, he simply can’t make it. Luckily his day job as a neurosurgeon pays the bills.

• On Feb. 23, 2022, James G. Skoglund, 81, teacher, legislator, St. George town historian, died at his sister’s winter home in Zephyrhills, Florida. A full obituary and notice of a memorial service at the St. George Baptist Church will be posted later.

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

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