My wife, Marsha, The Almost Perfect Woman, has help today and is throwing out everything she can. Ever hear of Robert M. Chute? I have a book here he must have given me in 1990, back when I moved in literary circles. In it I find this hand-written note: “Ain’t got brains enough to pack sand in a rat hole.” The expression is new to me, but I Googled and found it was very common here 100 years ago. Probably because they had more rat holes.

Marsha turned up another book by Jnana-Devenandashram with some funny quotes in it. A third book, this one on Maine lighthouses by Bill Caldwell, also survived the trash and is here on my eating tray.

We recently had visitors who put a great strain on my wife. She was in her room talking to the daughter, who is studying advanced computer science at Smith, and I was discussing languages with the father, who was in my room.

Marsha, who hates to miss out on anything, was trying to listen to both conversations at the same time. As soon as they were out the door, she wanted me to fill her in on the scraps of my conversation that she missed. And that put a great strain on me. I would have changed places with her had I realized that in one afternoon, I might have learned how to hack into computers.

It’s been a few minutes since I heard from Marsha. This is because she just asked a neighbor to pick up our mail and bring it in the next time he happens to be going by.

As soon as she has asked someone to bring in the mail, she starts composing a list of all the other things she will ask them to do once they have been lured inside. If you have handicapped friends, you know how that goes.


A typical conversation in this home might go like this:

Marsha: “Didn’t your friends stay quite a while this afternoon?”

“They didn’t plan to, but they got their feet tangled in my oxygen supply tubing.”

One afternoon, six hot and thirsty people arrived in three autos to brighten the day of two lonely shut-ins. Had we known what being lonely shut-ins entailed, we could have set up a cash bar and done quite well.


You read that Americans are not moving to climate-friendly places. Many more have moved away from them and into places like Phoenix that have seen temperatures over 110 for most of the summer. That could change as people tired of living with disaster will move to climate-friendly areas like Maine and Siberia. I dislike cold weather so much, were I not attached to the coastal Maine village where I was born, I would have moved to Siberia 70 years ago.



After two seasons of cowering at home because of COVID, I attended our Gilchrest-Robinson family reunion. The hardest part of attending family reunions that attracts seventh, eighth and ninth cousins, many of whom were born and raised in the same village, is trying to remember what you shouldn’t say.

You can’t say, “I liked your father. He was a good friend of mine,” to some people because 60 years ago he might have abandoned their mother and run off with a younger woman, leaving that cousin fatherless. So they don’t even want to hear his name.

At 87, I was the oldest person there. Only three years ago, that would have been my wicked stepmother, Sally.

Last year at this time, I didn’t think I’d live till Christmas. At Christmas, I hoped I’d live to see my 87th birthday. When I was 87, I hoped I’d live to go to my 70th high school reunion. After the reunion, I hoped I’d get to go to the family reunion on Aug. 20.

I have had to reset my goals many times over the past year, and this year, on Sept. 11, I am doing it again. I am going to try to live to see the first snow here in St. George, Maine.


Can I last two more weeks?

From time to time I compose a poem that I think has great possibilities had I but world enough and time to publish. Upon seeing beets from the town pantry on Marsha’s kitchen counter on a foggy morning:

Whose beets these are, I do not know

They did not in our garden grow

For though I plant the pretty seeds

Not much comes up but lots of weeds.

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

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