You are probably incapable of pronouncing the word “filth.”

You may think you can and I can see you now, giving it several half-hearted tries.

But to properly say “filth” you have to hate dust and bread crumbs with all your heart and soul.

You have to be able to see microscopic specks with super-human eyes that can raise up dirt and grime where it only exists on the atomic level. You have to be able to scrub floors and vacuum rugs that were scrubbed or vacuumed only a day, or even hours, before.

You will recall the words of the compulsive neurotic, Martin Luther, who wrote in his diary, “The more I wash, the dirtier I get.” Or words to that effect.

There are people who can never clean a house to their own satisfaction.


For years I begged friends to simply drop in. Please don’t let us know you are coming.

An impending visit necessitates a complete vacuuming and dusting of the entire house. Days before the visit, the kitchen would be redolent of freshly baked sweetbreads and cookies.

Yes. I know. The word “filth” can express a less urgent form of grime. I remember well seeing my brother’s infant daughter “E” come into the house encrusted with some unspeakable form of caca and hearing him very kindly explain to her, “it’s a matter of filth, E.”

But he did not articulate the word as if he were expectorating some vile tasting bug.

No, to hear the word spoken as it was intended to be by the woman who coined it when she examined a fly-covered wooly mammoth steak by an ancient campfire, you had to be here this morning, see my wife curl her lip, bare her teeth, and hear her snarl, “Don’t put a thing on your table before I wash it, because it is filthy.”

Clutter and disorganization of any kind is also anathema to a professional housekeeper. How many husbands have heard the words, “Why did you invite him in when you haven’t even made the bed this morning?”


Every time I hear someone complain about the high prices that are destroying the world, I think of five separate houses I bought over 50 years ago for less than $10,000 each. One was $3,500. Two were $5,000. Young people who look at those houses today might wonder who would be reckless enough to sell a house and barn on an acre of land for $5,000. But way back in the musty shadows of time you can be sure that the village elders saw me as a crazy fool who had no understanding of how to pay off a $5,000 mortgage.

You and I now know that they were right.

In retrospect, however, we should consider this: One of the first things I learned to say in Swedish in 1960 when I lived in Sweden with my aunt was, “Everything is so expensive now.” My aunt would wander about in the tiny local grocery store and make unpleasant noises as she felt each carrot and stalk of celery. Old people have always complained about high prices. The only difference is that today even young people are doing it.

In 1951, True Hall’s father told his newly married son that he shouldn’t build a house. The elder Hall, who had lived through the Depression, which you have read might have been prevented had Hoover’s government slapped firm regulations on the bank and stock market speculators, advised young True to wait a year or two until the prices went back down. Being young and adventuresome, True discounted the advice and built his new house in the 150-year old Hall pasture right across from our driveway. And before the house was even finished my father backed his car out of our driveway and into the elder Hall’s tan Plymouth. In the 20 years my father had been backing out of our driveway he only had to look up the road and down the road for oncoming traffic. In 1951, he also had to make sure that no one had parked in front of the new house in the cow pasture.

If you think I have forgotten where I was going with this you are almost right. My message for young people is, “If you want a bargain, buy anything and wait 50 years.” It worked for Warren Buffett. And I see that I’ve also illustrated what my wise old neighbor, Carl Snow, told me 70 or so years ago: “Never back up an inch more than you have to.”

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

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