Friday, December 29, 2006

The Marine

Odie stopped by the shop the other day. 12 years ago he was a skinny little punk. When he mouthed off too much, we used to stuff him into an empty bike box and stash him up on the 3rd tier of the bike shelves out back. He was the stereotypical wise ass kid. We loved him. 

 The other day when he walked into my shop, he walked in a man. 9 years as a Marine had transformed him. No longer skinny but hard and taller. The smirk always in place years ago, replaced by serious demeanor and bearing. There was no doubt his childhood stayed in Sanford when he left to see the World. 

Odie is in Marine communications now. He had started out an embassy guard in India. That did not pan out. He was jumped while off duty and beaten so badly, he almost died. A random act of American hatred they said. Months of recovery used up his first enlistment. Fed up with the Marines he did not re-up. 

 A month later, 9/11 transformed the World, Odie's included. Like so many of us, Odie was horrified and angry beyond belief over this cowardly act of violence against his country. So he re-enlisted. He has been to Iraq. He is scheduled to go back again in August. He is enthusiastic about his 6 month rotation schedule in and out of Iraq. His specialty is battle communications and Iraq is where he feels he makes a difference. In the States, he just cools his heels and practices. It was great to see him again. It was great to see him healthy, happy, and getting on with his life. His chosen path seems to fit him.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

My New Watch

I sit here this AM admiring my new watch. It marks a return of sorts to my watch owning roots. It also indicates a spark of optimism with regards to my ability to safely own a watch again. But most of all, every time I pull it out, it reminds me of the good fight I wage against the onslaught of the neo tech gee whiz gadgetry age we all seem trapped in.

I have owned maybe 20 watches in my lifetime. None have lasted more than a couple of years under my care. I lose them. I break them. I douse them. I once dropped one in a campfire by accident. One pissed me off so much, I threw it far into the pucker out back of the house. I was sure I would never see it again. That damn watch popped up a year later when I was looking for something else. It was still ticking. A rebellious tick that said time wins out everytime.

My worst luck seems to be with wrist watches. Too much going on in too small a package. They hang out all vulnerable ready to whack themselves on any hard thing I get near to. The straps would fail. The expanding wrist bands would pinch. The crystals would quickly scuff to translucent making the hands vague reminders that time may be but a figment of my imagination.

I had my best luck with pocket watches. I have not owned as many of them as I have wrist watches. But they are the ones I remember with anything close to fondness. I loved the retro-ness, the big faces, and the satisfying tic tock almost like a small mechanical clock. They were easier to find when mislaid. Their size indicated riugged and made me feel secure they could handle my rough treatment. But like the wrist watches, they always died. Crowns broke. Crystals broke. And most of them could not handle water or fire.

I gave up having a watch a couple of years ago. The last one had all sorts of bells and whistles. Typical of today's fondness of technology for technology sake. While it did everything but drive the car for me, it was definitely not very rugged. Shit the bed about 3 months into owning it.

So I swore off carrying time with me as I careened through my day to day existence. If I did not carry a watch, I would not have to worry about breaking it. And I would feel less of an obligation to pay attention to the specific moments of every day.

This rebellious mentality always comes after a watch fails me. I swear them off forever. Never say forever. It would seem I cannot last for more than a couple of years before the itch to try it again crosses my mind. Everytime I say this will be the one. The one I don't break. The one I don't lose. Everytime. At some point the odds should start tilting in my favor. At least that is the hope everytime I decide to own another watch.

So I sit here contemplating my new watch. A spiffy Swiss Army pocket watch that set me back more than I have ever been set back before for a watch. The crystal looks like it may be inches thick and bullet proof. The back says I can drop it in the lake as long as it is only 50 meters deep. And the analog hands and numbers I can read without bifocals.

A beefy stainless steel encased chronometer that seems up to the Crum test. It does nothing but tick off the seconds of the day. No alarms. No meterological readouts. No GPS factors or paging capabilities. No lap times. No memory of time eleswhere. Just straightforward time keeping. Clean and incluttered. Kept on the mark through meticulous Swiss manufacture and help from some quartz.

And it fits sweet in that useless little watch pocket they still insist on including in jeans.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Kindergarten Divas

An interesting news item caught me eye the other night on TV. The channel was set to one of those tabloid news shows like First Edition or People. You know, the Hollywood gossip shows. My wife likes to get her check out line line fix of all the gossip a couple of times a week via the TV. Saves us the hassle of recycling the crap from the store.

I do not usually pay much attention. Or if I do, I spend way too much time rolling my eyes and wondering why we are so fascinated with these losers. The only thing about any of them that interests me is when they are performing. What they do in their private lives is of no interest to me. Who's sleeping with who, who's pregnant, and who was caught OUI leave me less than impressed with American culture. As a nation, we spend entirely too much time living our lives vicariously through the lives of our chosen heroes. If we would pick better heroes, I might be kinder in my evaluation.

Anyway one segment was about the age at which a young girl should be exposed to all those female renovations that many women take for granted as adults. The story centered on one 4 year old girl who was experiencing her first makeover. Hair dyed, make up, the works. Even with my jaded attitude about America's fixation on appearance, I was taken aback by this.

I guess it was a natural progression for some mom somewhere to turn their daughter into a minature runway model. They have run out of options for themselves, and needing the fix, they look around the house for something to improve. If there are no pets to work on, they settle on what comes down for breakfast in the morning. Hubby is a lost cause. But little Nancy with her boney scratched knees, hair every which way, and wearing an old T shirt of Dad's she loves to sleep in is another matter. Glamour Mom sees this pitiful young waif and decides her little darling could stand some tuning up. Like her own live action Barbie, she schemes and makes appointments to turn her little darling into Paris Hilton.

These moms are sick puppies. Ingraining a stupid fascination with appearance into their kids' minds so early is just wrong. Kids need a grace period before they are expected to act adult like. They need a time period to find themselves. Not be forced to an idea we as parents have of them. Lord knows, we warp them in many other ways. But turning them into fashion plates at age 4 is over the top. JoBenet Ramsey comes to mind whenever I see something like this. If ever the foreign detractors of our country had good reason to hate the USA, this particular perversion lends them credibility and feeds their fire.

I grew up looking scruffy 6 days a week. Sundays, I was forced to put on the church going duds and requested to stay clean at least until we got home. I had a problem meeting that challenge. Seems dirt and grunge sought me out and still do. Most of my friends were the same. Superficial stuff like clothes or hairdos mattered not. Who could climb the highest in a tree, who was fastest, or who had the best arm in a dirt clod battle mattered more. Real tangible, get your teeth into them qualities that every kid could appreciate. Status did not depend on how deep our parents' pockets were and what store we bought our clothes in. All that began later in junior high. Sure there was class structure even us kids recognized. But we would recognize it, not focus on it.

In my opinion, when a society starts turning their children into mirror images of themselves, it is one sure sign that society has way too much time and money on it's hands. When time spent with their kids is done at the beauty parlour, or Old Navy and not the local park or playground, it indicates a breakdown in the emotional connection to our kids. The connection becomes economic and a facade. Nothing of real import passes back and forth between parent and child. One of the indicators of decadence and future decline. I hope we can snap out of it.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

It's Been Two Years

Two years ago today I blogged for the very first time. I have not posted everyday. Yet, when I look back through the previous 2 years of thoughts, I would have filled more than a few spiral notebooks. There's a lot of words saved in my blog. Words of worth I cannot say. That would be up to the eye of the beholder.

Some posts when I wrote them seemed so right. So on target. Now I wonder where the Hell they came from. The posts are what I was feeling that day. What I felt important enough to make a comment on. Some of them have lasting appeal to me. Some don't. A few put some very personal issues out there in the public domain. But the very act of posting publicly has helped me deal with them. I could care less if anyone cares less. The soul cleansing I received when I wrote them was what mattered.

For the most part, my first 2 years here in Blog Country has been fun. I may not have made many friends, but why should that aspect of my life change at this point? I was raised to be a loner. I have the temperment of a loner, and I relish being a loner. Keeping folks I love at arm's length is what I do. Right or wrong is of no matter. It is part of me.

Anyway, I just felt obligated to stop in to recognize this anniversary. And while I am at it, to all you phantom and closet fans out there----------Have a great Christmas and a better New Year!

Monday, December 18, 2006

War Games

Toy soldiers stand at attention. They are alert and ready in a foreign land among unfriendly foreigners. Their commander behind his desk staring down the map he wants to control. He has used so many up and tossed them aside. He has wasted their lives for the good of the country. At least that is what he thinks. At least that is what he tells us.

War games have played out too often these last 54 years. War games have deprived our women of the men they love. War Games are an essential ingredient I guess. An integral part of what makes us the USA. Without a war, we are incomplete. Without boys and now girls coming home in boxes, we are not happy.

Korea, Viet Nam, Panama, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and now Iraq. 54 years of fighting, just got done fighting, or getting ready for that next fight. My life has had to accomodate the idea of War from the beginning. My guess is when I get planted, the toy soldiers will still be at attention and alert somewhere we should not be.

GI Joe and GI Jane willingly go into any battle. Their President's wish is their command. Laying their lives on the line without question. And that is a shame one man can use them like this. Abuse them like this. Our best and brightest get chewed up and used up. Their enthusiastic smiles becoming that "thousand yard stare"by the time they come home. Many never lose it.

I sit here at 54 and wonder the same thing I wondered when I was 4. Why do we need to blow each other up?


Everyone's pain is different. Everyone's pain is not the same. But we all experience pain. It gets in our face and makes us pay attention. It can seep into our soul and make us weep. At times it is fleeting. Sometimes it never leaves. And sometimes it is what we need.

Pain can make you feel alive when it just nicks you and makes you wince. Pain can make you feel dead inside as it digs into your memories. It wears many faces and speaks many tongues. But it always says the same thing.

I have eaten my share of pain. When I was younger and fresh meat, I took it hard. I had not learned to gird myself against it's impact. It always suprised me. Growing up means a constant onslaught of new ways to feel pain.

I am older and wiser now. I have been through the gambit of pain and it's myriad manifestations. Some of it I now endure daily as I wind down and look forward to my Sunset. And some of it now settled in, rears up and still makes me weep.

I have learned to live with pain. I have learned it will always be with me. I accept it now. I know it will always be entwined in my being. Still suprising at times, but now I can let it in and work it's magic. Cleanse me of the wounds and hopefully leave but the trace of a scar.

Spring Clean Up

I have spent many hours grooming various yards over the course of my lifetime. At an early age my father considered me slave labor to use and abuse in his quest to maintain a decent looking yard. I have mowed acres and acres of grass. I have trimmed forests of hedges. I have pulled bales of weeds. And do not even mention the evil rake. I have worn out more than my fair share of those devilish tools.

Many a Saturday was ruined by my father's stupid insistence that we keep our yard as nice as the neighbors. As a strapping lazy youngster, I always looked with envy at yards the owners allowed to flow freely. Every neighborhood had at least one yard like that. A yard that was in a constant state of scruffiness. It was a rule I think. The one nasty house lot gave everyone else a standard to beat. The flip side was the one yard with nothing out of place or weed visible. The yard that always had that "Better Homes & Garden" look. The "anal retentive" lives here house.

With the high and low standards set, my father thankfully only insisted we fall comfortably on the high side of the middle. Control was his first priority. He never engaged in over the top efforts to one up anyone else. Still, the time needed to just maintain order was in my young mind energy wasted when a pick up game of football awaited and would need all the energy and focus I had just used up raking up every leaf into tidy mounds to be bagged and gotten rid of.

I am my father now. Unfortunately, I have no bitch to use and abuse out in the yard. I am still the bitch. My wife refuses to do any yard work. And that is okay. I tend to refuse to do any house work. I guess we have an arrangement. Unplanned and not discussed, we just sort of settled on what our individual responsibilities were.

When I took over this house back in 1980, I was an eager new home owner. I paid attention to details and kept the yard on a short leash. I remember spending up to 20 hours a week just keeping the jungle from creeping inside the borders my dad had set when he moved here in 1967.

At some point around 17 years ago, my enthusiasm nose dived. About the time I became a small business owner I guess. Most of my time was spent keeping the business going. By the time I got home, any energy left to mow or trim was MIA. I had shot my daily wad at the shop. So I let things go. I began mowing more infrequently. I stopped cutting back the encroaching forest. My home became that low standard for the neighborhood. And that is saying a lot here in this part of Acton, Maine. Neighbors here have very low standards. No post card yards on my road. And mine became the worst of the bunch.

Last year sometime I found I could not look out the office window and see who was driving up the drive. Noticing this caused me to notice other things. The piles of junk scattered about had begun to disappear behind screens of thorny vines. Anything covered up by a blue tarp had long ago lost the blue part. I began to mow more saplings than grass. My yard had gone native.

It has been over a year now since I began the impossible task of land reclamation. I have created huge brush piles. I have burned huge brush piles. And while I can see some progress, at this point all I have done is block the advance. The woods up here are insistent. They fill in as fast as I remove. The woods up here are attacking on every front.

So I keep at it every chance I get. For the forseeable future you will find me with yard tool in hand fighting the good fight. I have resigned myself that I will be forever in a state of perpetual Spring Clean up.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


"The Observer" is a free local weekly paper distributed to 14,000 homes in the area. It is actually a decent little rag. Keeps me up to date on the what have yous and what nots of the neighbors. The police log is especially interesting when I find someone I know listed there. Seems every week I spot someone I have known in the past or present. Many years ago I spotted my own name there. The crimes are never serious. Criminal mischief, pot possesion, OUI, OAS, domestic disputes; the regular minor hassles of a fairly peaceful community. Just enough activity to justify a police force.

What I like about this small paper is it does not shy away from the ugly controversies that every community always has brewing. In my town, they brought to light the current IRS troubles of a local man known more for his con man ways and his big mouth than any real action that has resulted from his chest thumping. He owes the IRS $6million and change. They have seized his various properties and will auction them off in the upcoming weeks. Or they already have. I am not sure.

This guy was not a happy camper that this small paper stirred up his private business. I find it amusing. Here this guy has been scamming the towns in the area for years and now he gets all indignant when he is bagged by the IRS. Like he is some sort of pillar of the community or something. A legend in his own mind I guess. I am relishing his current troubles. He is finally reaping what he has sown.

One of the local milk companies sponsors a weekly Spotlight on a local high school athelete. They provide a picture and then a type of quetionaire the "athelete" answers. Saying that I am underwhelmed with the caliber of the answers would be an understatement. It seems they take pride in finding the numbest and dumbest of the students who play sports in the area. When asked what is their favorite subject, answers such as "studyhall" and "lunch" seem the most popular. When asked what other activities they enjoy besides football or soccer, they come up with "tanning" or "sleeping".

I know for a fact there are smarter and more clever student/atheletes in the area. Through my bike shop, I pretty much meet all of them at one point or another. Yet, this milk company seems determined to highlight the idiots, the mediocre. So far, in the past few weeks, all who have been picked are in my opinion future slugs. And they by no means are worthy of the accolades bestowed on them.

I wonder just why we seem to accept this mediocrity in our younger folks. Where is the pressure to make the grade? Why are they allowed to slide and "just get by"? And why do we feed their egos by giving them notice? Pretty sad in my opinion.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Wasting Energy

I will often begin a morning of blogging by reviewing some of my previous stuff. I will be looking for inspiration for the words I want to put down this day. I do not know why I do this. It never works. I either use up my allotted blog time lost in admiration of my own mind or I sit there and wonder where the Hell that came from. Regardless, precious time is wasted and taken away from the all important chore of pouring my soul onto the Internet community.

I often review some daily news clips for inspiration. This rarely works either. Most days, the news just gets me fired up and all I want to do is rant. I determined a long time ago, rants have their place, but not everyday.

Like today, I will often just start typing exactly what is in my head at the moment. Funny how there seems to be mostly inanity and not much of substance up there betwix the ears. The moments of truely inspired ideas or thoughts are a minute percentage of the total synaptic energy wasted every day. Most of us just waste it without notice. A few sick puppies like me waste more of it logging it into our blogs, journals and diaries.

After a few paragraphs, I will sit back and review. I used to be a very harsh critic. Passing my own muster was tough. I wanted to make sure that what I wrote was worthy of someone else's time. That was back when I thought folks actually might stop by.

Now, I could care less. I pretty much let any stupid thing into my blog. This blog is but one tree among a forest of blog trees out there. Without something like good writing to differentiate it from the pack, it sits here in ignored grandeur for an audience of one. And that is okay. As always, I write for me first and foremost.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Without Remorse I am Incomplete

Not sure why I am re-visiting the blog today. But I am. The itch seems to need more attention than my usual 5 paragraph fix. Or I might just be avoiding the best laid plans I made yesterday regarding the flow of my day today. Whatever the reason is, I am back.

So I sit here in the office avoiding that which needs doing. I would rather contemplate my navel than face the chores out in the early morning chill. And the whole while feel intensely guilty about it. It is as if I need the guilt to put my life in perspective. Without remorse I am incomplete. If there is not at least one undone thing in my life, I am not happily unhappy.

Living 54 years by the credo, "Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow", I find my recent "Git er Done" attitude a bit unsettling. I have bulled ahead and tackled chores successfully avoided for years. What's up with that? Maybe my small rebellion this morning is an attempt to balance my scale. Besides, I would not want to create too much precedence. This recent nose to the grindstone attitude might just become expected rather than the delightful change it is now.

Okay I am done screwing the pooch now. I will close and face the day's labors with enthusiasm and vigor. At least I will know I fought it for a little while anyway. See ya.


Today is my wedding anniversary. To be exact, my 26th wedding anniversary. Generally not as important as say, the 25th one. This one is more noteworthy for 2 reasons. One is I forgot the big one last year and I did not forget this year. Two is my wife forgot this one and I did not. A reversal of roles, the shoe on the other foot, in her face for a change.

Now I am not one to lord over someone else about something like this. And I am not looking for confrontation. It's just nice to know that if I ever again get raked over the coals for my poor memory of things she deems important, I will have something in the arsenal other than "Yes Dear".

I did not come here today to brag about one upping my wife. Well, maybe a little. I should be careful of getting on my high horse. One success in a lifetime of failures to remember does not put me ahead or even close to equal by any stretch of the imagination. I really thought I should be writing about what 26 years married to the same woman feels like. Just what was it that made us make this far. Try to put some perspective on something that really was not thought about, just experienced as it came.

I have chewed on this question for close to an hour now. I have looked deep for the one thing that, in a nutshell, speaks to our success at making it 26 years. It would be nice to say it was Love. But that is not it. Love by itself rarely sustains a marriage. Love needs to accompanied by something else. Tolerance is needed by both to make it happen.

But I tell you what. I will now go ask my wife and she will tell me what I think the reason is. That is how we lasted 26 years.

Monday, December 11, 2006

No Comment

This is turning into a "no comment" Monday. I have begun several entries and after a few words and phrases, deleted them. It is not as if I have nothing to say. It is not as if I have no opinions. Lord knows that is surely the truth. I just cannot seem to find something in the jumbled up mess in my head that strikes a chord this AM.

Recently I placed more pressure on myself. I determined that if I was going to have a blog, I better damn well post to it on a regular basis. So what if no one stops by. Long ago I gave up caring about that. I just want to write and become a better writer. When I glance back through the almost two years of inanity on this blog, I do notice subtle changes in my writing.

My posts have become more structured and less spontaneous. My previous tendency to stream of conciousness writing is evolving into pieces that look like they may have had some thought behind them. Grammatically, they seem better. But I have never been too concerned with that. In my opinion, the rules of English are like the lines on the road. Suggestions that one would be wise to pay attention too, but if needed can be crossed without penalty as long as another car or grammar Nazi is not headed right at me.

So this day's entry is going down hard. Like pulling teeth, I am wrestling with each sentence and thought like I have never written before. What a struggle. Damn. I hope this is not an indication of how my day will go.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Damn Trees

I pulled out the chain saw yesterday morning. My intended victim an overgrown shrub between the dug well and the corner of the kitchen. My father and I had allowed this bush to exceed it's accepted height by many many feet. Growing unchecked for over 30 years, it grew to a point where windows were blocked. Snow was blocked from sliding off the roof. The top had grown high enough to be snapped off by a westerly wind coming over the house. It was huge. I was determined to remove it from my landscape.

When it was planted, it obviously had started with three main trunks from which the rest of the bush developed. Years of twisting in the wind had created a three trunk braid. The 6 inch trunks wrapped and intertwined with each other as each sought the Sun in their own way. I only realized the signifigance of this after I had limbed enough to actually get a good look at it. The total girth of the three trunks was over 15 inches. But it was the twisted nature that made me pause. How to approach it?

Cutting all three at once seemed foolish. My memory of a good friend killed by a tree he cut down loomed large in my mind. It seems that some trees decide to go down fighting. This shrub turned tree had that punk look that told me this was such a tree. Once the trunks were laid bare, I could tell it would make it a real scrap to get it down clean without damage to the house or myself. I had to think it through.

So I limbed some more. Taking more branches first made sense. The problem was getting at the ones over the roof. Snow and the roof's steep pitch made them hard to get at. Once I had removed enough limbs to feel secure in taking on the main trunks, I anquished for a few minutes and then just picked one.

I should have anquished longer I guess. As soon as the first trunk let go, it twisted before it started to fall, then jumped down, hit the side of the other two trunks, kicked out and the butt caught me square under the chin. As I toppled over backward with a chain saw still whining in one hand, I backstepped to try to regain my balance. Like stepping on a banana peel, I performed what could only be described as the perfect prat fall. The engaged and running saw chain in my hand landed not 6 inches from my right leg. Whew!

I laid in the snow and sawdust. I looked up at the sky and then over to the idling saw. Then a sort of movement caught my eye. Turning my head, I was sure I saw the neighboring Red Maple chuckling. Damn trees!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

No Coffee

With no coffee to put into the coffee maker this morning, my wife and I were immediately thrown off our routine. A sense of panic and fear seemed to drop out of that empty coffee can. Not a good omen for the rest of the day. The only logical thing to do to get us back on track was an early run to the Acton Trading Post for some java to brew. I gathered up Stubby, found the truck keys and headed out.

Maybe I should have thrown the truck in 4WD. Or maybe thrown some water in my face to wake up a tad before I headed out. And maybe I should have just been going slower. I drove as if there was not a sheet of ice covering the road. Heading down my road to 109 I turned to look at Stub next to me. She always sat at attention, closely watching the road and all that was whizzing by. I smiled. It was at that moment the truck made the decision to change directions. All of a sudden we were sideways, then backwards heading forward and I was viewing where we had just been. As we slid backwards, I remember thinking all of the above when abruptly the ditch stopped us. Both Stub and I slammed into our respective seat backs.

After I checked my britches and made sure Stub was okay, I got out to see if we were stuck or just off the road in a minor way. It really did not matter. I was not going to let this little mishap keep me from my goal. Coffee. We needed, no, we must have, absolutely without a doubt, it was obvious now that only coffee would bring this day back into line.

I looked the truck over and the incline at which it sat and figured no big deal. Got back in, slammed the 4WD lever and nursed the truck back onto the road. Five minutes later I was gladly over paying for a can of mediocre coffee. And even though I was jonesing hard for some caffeine and wanted to punch it, I kept my speed down in respect to my recent mishap.

I sit here now with my second cup next to me. The security it offers just by it's presence has turned my encounter a half hour ago into nothing but a bad memory that will fade to nothingness when I pour the third cup. My day is back on track now.

Friday, December 08, 2006

26 Years

We have been lucky this winter. Until waking up to 5 inches of snow this AM, we had so far enjoyed an unseasonably mild Fall and early Winter. Jeez, yesterday I wore shorts and a T to work. It seemed even us hard core Mainers can be fooled into hoping that maybe this year Ole Man WInter was going to give us a bye. Maybe forget us in his eagerness to spread nastiness elsewhere.

This morning reality came home to roost. 5 or so inches of fluffy white stuff and gusting wind quickly reminded me of what a Maine winter is all about. And being ever so inconsiderate, this small storm showed up in our dooryard on a morning that my wife had some distance to drive.

I knew my morning was toast when she came in from the early morning dog walk. Never one to be overly pleasant and friendly in the morning, she came in covered in snow with a deeper early morning scowl than usual. I caught the body language immediately and was soon outside removing snow from her car and shoveling a pathway to it from the front door. Without a word of thanks for this unasked for token jesture, she got in her car at 6:05 AM, said "See Ya" and headed over to Manchester.

Twenty years ago I would have been pissed at her for this brusk and generally unfriendly exit. Earlier in our marriage we were both thinner skinned and more senstive to our perceptions of each other. After 26 years of marriage, her gruff exit was not taken personally. I have grown accustomed to many of her minor negativities. I have learned to blow off the stupid little irritations she exhibits as part of her character. And I assume she has done the same for me. I only say this because I am still alive. Lord knows I have given her many a reason to kill me in my sleep.

Monday, December 04, 2006


I am currently cleaning out a small section of my property. An area that has never been modified by me or my father before me. We allowed Nature to take it's course. It became a puckered up mess of wild rose bushes, sumac, wild cherry and twisted half grown maple saplings. None of these plants are appealing in the least. But the gnarled up and closed area was a haven for the many wild critters that habitate in that kind of enviroment.

As I work and clean my way into it, I am finding out just how connected this area is to the rest of my property for the local wild animal population. I found a dead tree still standing that has been an obvious point of interest for at least one local bear. The trunk has been dug out to a height of around 6 feet with bear scat liberally sprinkled in the area. I did not inform my wife of this as the tree sits but a scant 80 feet from the back of the house. I also have found a territorial marker of scat from at least one bobcat. In the winter, many local deer yard up there.

In the front side yard, a hickory sits. Each year it draws squirrels from all around to the many nuts it produces. It is possible for squirrels to get at it via the tree to tree highway that exists along the edge of my property. I am now faced with a dilemma. The next tree I want to take out is a sad excuse of a wild cherry. All bent and broken from the ice storm in 98, it is not just an eyesore but square in the way of my future plans for this section. But should I remove it, this important conduit to the hickory will be severed. The squirrels will have to touch ground for a short space before reaching the relative safety of the treeline again.

I am not particularily concerned about the squirrels. They are just big rats with bushy tails in my opinion. I guess I am just making note of how connected everything in Nature is. I am also admitting to my part in changing the status of that connection. That the very act of cleaning up a small 100 foot square area in Maine will affect the local wildlife in a negative way.

When I see the results of my small efforts and then look at the thousands of acres clear cut behind my property, I have a better understanding of the impact Man has on his world. I am less isolated now. I am more intimately involved. I am the ultimate predator. Nothing living is safe in my presence. And I consider myself one of the good guys.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

A Typical 21st Century Morning

Just had a morning that really drove home how much "the good ole days" always look better with each passing year.

My wife has her accounting office set up in our house. Being the hip accountant she is, she has every electronic gizmo and gadget out there to process the information of her profession. Well yesterday a big storm went through and flicked lightening everywhere. And once again one of her wonderful 21st century gadgets would not work this morning.

This did not kick the day off on a very good footing for her. As shit rolls downhill, it was not a good start for me also. Apparently the printing center failed to power up when she pushed the button. No satisfying whir of mechanical gears warming up or that pleasing digital banner welcoming one to the joyous experience of printing documents. This machine has so much going on that when it fails, she can't fax, scan, print, or urinate.

We both know I am only barely smart enough to turn these new machines on, but I get the call anyway. Seems I am the avenue of last resort. She knows that when I tackle one of these electronic wonders, it is a 50/50 proposition it will survive the ordeal.

So I get my favorite flathead screwdriver and head up to her office. After a few moments of debriefing on what she had done so far to make it work again I proceeded to open the damn thing up. Apparently, the folks at HP have heard of me. They successfully designed this wonder machine to ward off my hamfisted efforts at exposing the inner workings. With my previously hardwon experience on the breaking point of plastic clips, I stopped before I broke one.

The machine was just too new for me to justify laying into it. So instead I blew out the parts I could expose, put everything back and went to the kitchen for another cup of coffee. As I was stirring in the cream and sugar, I hear my wife, "It's on." Apparently she had been messing with the wrong power supply. Easy to do as there is a tangled nest of wires, power supplys, and other wiring hardware buried under that table.

Which brings me to my point. I am old enough to remember when people used pens and pencils, not palm pilots and mini computer printer machines they pull out of their bag at lunch so they can finish that novel. I remember when folks often had only one phone in the house and had to share their line with 10 other folks. And I am not old. Not real old anyway.

This age of electronic wonders has turned all of us into junkies. We have come to rely on the instant access to information, people, and things that when it is interrupted or not available, we start jonesing hard like a heroin addict looking for their daily fix but there is none on the street. Today proved that all progress has it's Yang to go along with it's Ying. The view through my rose colored glasses is not muddied but crystal clear.

And in an effort to regain some perspective, when I turn this damn thing off, I am headed to the back forty to test my powers at terraforming. With rake, hand saw, and cutters, I will prove that I don't rely on electricity or petroleum for all my fun.