When we get old – when we have lived long enough to have seen and heard more than most of the people in the world today – we often have to change beliefs that we have cherished for 70 or 80 years.

And that is the position I find myself in today.

Even the youngest among us have seen or heard of stone statues that cry or potatoes that have faces like a favorite dog or cat.

For years I have looked down at anyone who could take such poppycock seriously.

So it is with hat in hand that I humbly approach you today with the news that only a few minutes ago, I looked out the dining room window and saw, clearly revealed on the lawn in the melted snow, a matrix of mouse tunnels that are an exact duplication of a map of the streets in downtown Boston.

It would be a waste of my time to mention that to my wife, Marsha, The Almost Perfect Woman, because she takes my most profound observations for granted and wouldn’t even look up.


Her conversation with me is more often of a more serious nature. She’ll say, “You’ll spill that cup of coffee. Look how your hand is shaking.”

“Look. My hand stops shaking when I put it on the counter.”

“But now the rest of your body is shaking.”

A woman with an elderly husband might ask him to listen closely because she has something very important to tell him.

We got past that long ago.

When Marsha wants to have my undivided attention, she simply shuts off my oxygen.


Have you ever shared a living space with an oxygen machine? After a few months it is no more than elevator music, softly playing in the background. It no longer keeps Marsha awake at night or annoys her in the daytime, even though 24 hours a day it plays the same two notes, dropping a major fourth each time, followed by a crunching and knocking sound.

“Ahhh doooo crunch crunch crunch knock knock knock ahhh doooo crunch crunch crunch knock knock knock.”

Hearing the same tune over and over made me realize that, with enough constant exposure, I could probably learn to like country and western music.

You have often heard me say that when I crave excitement, I have to look outside of our home, and for that I now have Facebook. Lacking the stimulus young people find in pub crawling or rock concerts, I can become engrossed in a friend’s lengthy account of losing her contact lens. I can now tell you anything you’d want to know about the service she got in one of Portland’s better restaurants, what is on their menu and who she went with. And I didn’t have to leave a tip. Her story didn’t get really exciting until two days after the lunch date, when she stepped out of the shower and found the missing contact on the side of the tub. The fact that she was able to see it at all made me wonder why she needed glasses.

If you are able to get out and about, you might be surprised that something that wanders about like the plot in a Henry James novel would interest anybody. But I often wonder if I should write similar things myself.

Did I ever tell you, in painful detail, how I got Marsha’s antique gold earring out of the upstairs shower drain, using a vacuum cleaner with a cloth held over the business end by a rubber band? That was a saga enshrouded with suspense and mystery.


And then there was the hearing aid I lost 20 or so years ago. At the time, that one hearing aid cost more than I earned during my two-year stint in the Coast Guard. I went over the lawn with a metal detector. I spent days looking for it. It is a story that could fill a page or two.

Years later I looked down and saw it in the metal cup on the front of a Model T engine where the crank goes in. When I was putting the engine in the barn, the hearing aid had fallen out of my ear and landed in that cup.

Lost letters are notorious for turning up 70 years after they were mailed. An aged woman in Caratunk could learn that all has been forgiven by her grandfather and the Maine island is now hers.

You can tell similar stories.

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

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