Although Marsha and I no longer have the antiquated land line with outlets on the walls, we have not been able to master the modern flat thing.

We have, however, moved up to a computer phone that runs through the internet cable. So when a tree drops on the cable somewhere up the line, we have no phone. Another small disadvantage is that only one person can talk at a time. This should not be a problem because many people can converse without both feeling the need to talk at the same time. If you listen to two people, you might notice that one starts talking when the other shows signs of winding down; some do cut it close.

Fifty years ago, my neighbor Albert Smalley told me he once saw a couple of neighbors standing toe to toe talking at the same time. I was reminded of this today when we had to return two phone calls. Neither party stopped talking long enough to hear that we had answered the phone so they hung up on us – hung up on themselves would be closer to the truth.

One of the things I notice when I read a story is how long a visitor waits after knocking on a door. It might be a minute or two minutes or even more. The amount of time people are willing to stand around after knocking at a door is probably determined by cultural forces, the temperature and how much is owed them. Because it now takes us much longer to stand and get to the door than it did five years ago, we have probably missed more than a few delightful visitors. The same thing goes for answering the phone.

I am also 60 years behind with much of which now passes for civil discourse. “For many teens, playing the mandatory college prep game is a distraction from genuine self-actualization.” I have no idea what that means and for that I am grateful. You will not be surprised to learn that I read it on Facebook.

What a great thrill it must be for those who wake up in the morning with the realization that: “Today’s the day I’m finally self-actualized. Hot diggity dogs.”


To the best of my knowledge, I have never self-actualized. Unless I develop a taste for quiche, I probably never will. I have yet to worship at the shrine of self-help guru Marianne Williamson. I have never “found myself.”

You remember when collections of people would pay big money to crowd together in California auditoriums and listen to this self actualization and becoming-a-complete-person psychobabble. A friend five years my senior wrote a book that mentioned a young seeker with the same kind of mind but less money, who went to a sectarian college in North Carolina where she majored in Long Division.

After posting something similar to the above on Facebook, I added an image of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and mentioned that I had never advanced up past the stages of food and shelter. Wham! An indignant Facebook patrol immediately warned me that my post might violate Facebook’s community standards.

We are all grateful that Facebook constantly polices its pages and ruthlessly extirpates content that might offend one of its readers. You and I are aware that there are things out there that decent people should never have to think about.

Twenty years ago, “The humble Farmer,” a program that ran for 29 years on Maine Public Radio, was removed from the air when the host read a definition of fascism he had copied out of the Encyclopedia Britannica. I have often wondered whatever happened to those stalwart guardians of tender Maine sensibilities. Can it be that they now work for Facebook?

And finally, a humble paean to spring.

You know how the snowplow scrapes the topsoil off your lawn and the gravel in your driveway into an invisible pile until the snow melts and leaves a huge moraine on your lawn? It usually stays there until the lawnmower finally gets to it and, with a great rattling of small rocks against your newly-sharpened blades, the whole mess is spread on your lawn, never to be seen again.

I had been taxed with this eyesore for over a month until yesterday, pushed beyond the bounds of normal constraint, I single-handedly supervised its removal.

Please don’t tell me that you took care of yours weeks ago. It’s about time I got to feel a bit superior about something.

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