Do you ever make a Dec. 31 inventory of the most exciting or curious things you’ve learned over the past year? Here are the three things at the head of my list.

• In 2023, the most exciting thing I discovered was a hair three inches long growing on the back of my right hand.

• In 2023, the most sophomoric thing I noticed on Facebook was the need to “challenge” people to repost something. “Bet you won’t do it,” they say.

• The most valuable thing I learned was from a friend who pointed out that you can start to peel a banana by biting off the bottom.

Year’s end is also a good time to divest myself of a few things I’ve been thinking about but have not been able to use in columns. So today’s offering is a palindrome; you can read it from the bottom to the top and it won’t change a thing.

• Have you been disoriented and out of sorts? I caught it three days before Christmas and quickly figured out why. The longer days have messed up my circadian rhythm.


• A friend’s wife injured her shoulder pretty badly. After an operation and a few days of keeping her arm strapped to her body, her armpit sweated and itched until her husband took a picture of it to email to their doctor with a note asking when he could look at it. He accidentally emailed it to a contractor who couldn’t fix their back porch until June 24. The man said he’d come by and look at it on Tuesday.

• The same friend says that at Christmas, he and his wife go to the card store. They each pick out a card they think the other one would like. They meet in another aisle and exchange cards. They laugh and put the cards back on the rack.  Is this a nice thing to do? Is it not like taking the Portland Press Herald off the stand, reading “The Humble Farmer,” and putting it back?

• I always thought it was “toe the line.” Then a pundit wrote on Facebook “tow the line.”  Until I looked it up, for a few uneasy moments there, I thought I could be wrong. When was the last time you were haunted by the strange feeling that you might be wrong?

• You don’t want to visit us if you can walk and bend over because there are many things we can’t do that we will ask you to do.

• Today a boat builder stopped in. I told him that my yellow storm door was sticking up at the top. “Too bad I don’t have my block plane or I’d fix it for you.” It was the wrong thing to say. My electric planer was right beside the door, waiting for the unwary, and for 10 breathless minutes he teetered on a 5-gallon bucket on the stone steps until he had trimmed our back storm door so it would close. It cost me two saw horses that an unknown carpenter left here two years ago. I also gave him a white Styrofoam box because my wife, Marsha, asked him if he planned to take lobsters with him when he goes to Florida. So he made out all right, and I’m happy now that I can open and close the door without kicking it. I showed him a 1965 family-and-friends picture of one of my earliest weddings. And because he’s new to town, he didn’t recognize his wife, a family friend, because he’d never seen her when she was 12 years old.

• Even though I don’t hear well, when Marsha tells me what she wants me to do I can understand every word. It’s the same thing she asked me to do yesterday.

• Having friends in for a 3 p.m. dinner in the summer is not like having friends in for a 3 p.m. dinner in the winter. In the winter, when you wonder why they haven’t gone home so you can go to bed, you notice that it’s only 4:30.

• A great Maine hunter stopped in at dusk. He said there were four deer standing by my house when he drove in the yard. I’m closing my curtains so the deer can’t see in. They’ve chomped the tips off the only plant I have next to the house and it’s because they’ve been watching the ads on my TV. This bud’s for you.

The humble Farmer can be visited at

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