Sunday, December 22, 2013


As I have mentioned elsewhere, we decided not to go to the trouble of putting up a full Christmas tree this year. It's not the first time I have made this choice, but it's the first time in 15 years, and it probably will not happen again.

CA has boxes of ornaments, each one with it's history and bag of memories that must be told every year. It's very much an epochal ritual. I suppose it is a kind of validation - a connection to or honoring of who we are and who we have been. This year we decided not to go through the routine and opted for a minimalist presentation as far as the tree thing is concerned. It feels right.

There is a reason for this, of course. It's the season of CA's retirement. She works as a hospice nurse and works 12 hour shifts at night. Her last two nights to work are Christmas Eve and Christmas night. This was a conscious choice that fulfilled, a week earlier, her time in service obligation, and since it is just us two, it seemed the thing to do. It's not a sad thing, it's our chosen reality, and we are quite excited about it. Of course, it would be nice to be with family. Yes, it would be wonderful to be home together with a big bird in the oven on Christmas Day. Yes, it would be fun if it were some kind of Currier & Ives thing with dozens of people, horse drawn sleighs, reindeer and skating on the pond. But it never was that.

We'll celebrate our Christmas on the night after Christmas. I mean, it's already an arbitrary date. We'll go out for Chinese. They don't do Christmas and are always there. Furthermore, we love Chinese. We'll have cocktails and great food and drive home through the woods to our fireside and feel blessed.

Second only to Thanksgiving as a family day, Christmas holds for many of us a great host of memories and traditions long gone into the dusty bins of our past. I've grown used to that tape player in my head that goes off on those same songs, scenes and scenarios that make up my remembrance of decades of Christmases past. It's a kind of comforting sameness.

It's different when kids are around. Kids thrive on myth and festival and Christmas is bursting with myth and festival. There is always that unpredictable, spontaneous quality of life with children. If things go as we think, we'll be surrounded by kids next year. Perhaps, at times, we'll secretly yearn for the quiet warmth of our remote fire.

It's who we are - at least those of us who happened to muddle through life in a Christian tradition. So we'll have our table top tree. There will be presents and a warm fire. We'll do a "FaceTime", or at least speak with distant family and hang on every word. We will feel truly blessed and pleasantly stuffed with spicy Singapore rice noodles.

Jerry Henderson

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Seeking forgiveness for yielding unto temptation and making a batch of sugar cookies toward the tail end of an evening, I stumble across an ancient stone given to me by a traveler who once passed through that holiest of lands - that spit of earth called Cornwall.  On his way he came upon this old man sorting odd looking stones which he said came from the sea but had been found deep in a cave known only to the few who ventured into those tidal regions where the endless sea molded that coast into its signature façade.  He told how there were ancient glyphs on those cave walls that have never been completely deciphered, but which many believe were by the hand of Merlin himself.  These stones were laid out in a rough pentagram and covered with the dust and grime of ages.   

When asked what was special about those "rocks" the old man  said that if these stones were touched by the hand of Merlin, that sage advisor to Author, born of mortal woman but sired by an incubus, then they possessed many powers that transcended our physical world.  

As I now hold that stone in my hand, on this longest of nights, I think, surely among those powers would be the gift of forgiveness especially when it came to making a batch of sugar cookies.  It is well known that Merlin had a particular affection for sweetmeats and therefore could possibly find reason to make room for others who like himself find themselves powerless beneath the spell of a well made sugar cookie.  

It came to me that such a construct was not altogether unlike others upon which entire systems of belief are built.  I began to feel the weight of guilt slide from my shoulders.  Perhaps, I'm thinking, there is room for just one more cookie before turning in for the rest of this long night. 

Behold! The Light Cometh!

Thursday, December 12, 2013


You know how it goes.  A friendly recapitulation of the year.  It's not a candidate for the Pulitzer nor is it a literary achievement.  It's a simple, folksy, unadorned, informational letter.  It's sometimes called the Christmas Letter.  I always learn something from these epistles.  I love to get them.

CA mentioned earlier that she was thinking of doing one.  Today she showed me the finished product. I liked it and felt she did a good job of it.  She didn't tell me anything I didn't know, but she did capture the entire year, and there was even a line or two about me.  It's surprisingly comforting to know you are worth a line or two in someone else's recollection of the year gone past.

I got to thinking about it and concluded that I don't think I have ever tried to do an annual letter.  You know, the kind that goes through the year relating events for the family.    Except for my immediate family, and I am not sure about them, I can't imagine anyone being the least interested in what my life was like every month this past year.  When I actually think about it, I can come up with entire years that I would just as soon forget.

I don't think this years will be forgotten. This year I became fully invested in my ninth decade - an accomplishment not afforded to a lot of people - and for that I am grateful. This is also the year that my partner in this life, Carol Ann, has chosen to retire from nursing. Yes, there are many details, sideshows, detours and distractions, but those two things pretty much sum up the year for us both.

Becoming an Octogenarian is more than surviving.  It's an epiphany.  The bush is indeed burning and is not being consumed. It's time to pay attention.  I hear a voice coming from within the fire saying,  "Whoa there pilgrim, sit down here beneath this Bodhi Tree and study about things a while".  I don't believe that particular tree grows in my neighborhood, but other trees do and I have spent a fair amount of time beneath them.  So?  Nothing.  I don't feel enlightened or transported into some Nirvantic existence.  I do feel comfortable in my skin and very happy to still have it.  That's got to mean something.

For both of us to be fully retired beings up a whole set of conditions, opportunities and challenges that will take some getting used to.  Just being aware of the shift in our situation beings up some anxiety.  You think about it a lot.  I mean, what are we going go do with all that time - together?   We've about decided to just let it happen.  Take a trip.  Hang out with it for a while.  What's the rush?

In other matters - we both lost significant weight this year. I thought I'd turn out to be prettier.  CA did but guess what?  I did NOT!  The same ugly wrinkled old guy stares back at me in the bathroom mirror.  But I feel pretty good and for that alone I am thankful.

Any time you can look back at a whole year and realize you survived it in one piece, you can be thankful.  I am thankful.  Any time you can feel able to hope into another year you can be thankful.  I am thankful.

Maybe I'll have more exciting things to report next year.

Be well, and stay tuned....

I'm Jerry Henderson

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Thousands have asked for my recipe for making a pot of red beans.  I never think in terms of a recipe, but what follows is pretty close - close enough that if it is used to make a pot of red beans it will probably work.

Bear in mind that individual tastes vary and what this formula produces may not be to your satisfaction. That's when it must be remembered that a recipe is only a guide.  Follow it once, then deviate.  See something you don't like, don't put it in there.  Think of something different all on your own - go for it.  

Here's what's in it:

2 cups dry red beans.  You can soak them over night or boil them two minutes and then simmer until done.  I have done it both ways and don't see much difference.  Here's what I do:

I cover the beans with water  and bring to a vigorous rolling boil and let that go for 2 minutes.  Cover and reduce the heat to a nice simmer.  Be sure there's enough water not to run dry.

Meanwhile, in a separate pan sauté the vegetables below until the onion becomes transparent, then dump that into the beans. ( You can sauté the vegetables in the bean pot, then put the beans and water in and go from there if you want to )

1 large white onion coarsely chopped.  Any kind of onion will work, just so it is a big one.
2 or 4 cloves garlic minsed. ( If you want, you can use garlic powder.  You won't die and go to hell. Nobody will know. )
1 medium bell pepper coarsely chopped.
2 stalks of celery sliced longitudinally and thinly sliced - on the diagonal, of          course.

Once all this is combined I like to add some vegetable stock - if you have veganistic tendencies - or chicken stock if you don't give a hoot about such things.  By the way, I have always wondered that if I use animal manure to fertilize tomatoes can a vegan or vegetarian eat my tomatoes with a clear conscience?

Many times I also chop up a fresh pealed tomato or dump a can of diced tomatoes into the pot.  Be flexible.

You will notice there is no meat in this.  The reason for this is that I didn't have any.  I know, you thought I had some deep seated spiritual reason for this omission but I just didn't have anything.  I like some smoked flavor if possible.

I would liked to have had a smoked ham hoc to throw into the pot and or some andouille sausage.  If you use the hoc then when it's all done you'll need to pick the meat off the bone.  It'll fall of easily.  The sausage should be added toward the end of cooking so as not to dry out.  At least that's my experience.

Now let's talk about seasoning.  I used approximately:

1 t salt
1 t freshly ground Tellicherry black pepper. 
1 T Pickapeppa pepper sauce.  If you don't know Pickapeppa Sauce you need to go get some.  It's Jamaica's finest contribution to your pot of beans and many other bland foods in your pantry.
1 T Tabasco regular.
1 T Tabasco Chipotle sauce.
1/2 t smoked paprika.

I didn't add any herbs but I sometimes do.  Oregano, Marjoram, Basil or something else you might think of.  

Taste!  Adjust.

Here's the thing about beans:  You have to decide if you want bean soup or beans that are a little thicker, to put on rice.  If you are thinking red beans and rice then they need to be cooked down and become "creamy" thick.  It really doesn't matter, it's just the way I like them.

If this doesn't work out for you, don't call me.  I'll be out of town for a month or so.  It it works out to your ecstatic satisfaction, then I'll be happy to receive your praise any hour day or night.

Jeeze, I forgot to mention epazote.  It helps to reduce the possibility of gas production.  Popular in Mexico.  It is, however, a renewable source of energy.  Be well, and stay tuned.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Date: November 28, 2013 at 8:59 PM
Location: Elmwood Rd, Pownal, ME, United States
Weather: 21° Clear

Regarding Thanksgiving Day:  I like to think that  I am somehow immune to the emotional baggage that comes along with Thanksgiving Day.  I am not.  CA worked last night and therefore had to sleep all day.  So I was actually alone for the day and it felt like it.

On almost any other day It would have been business as usual but this day was different.  I don't know what I expected but I did know something was missing.  Of course, I knew what it was.  I missed family and friends around me.  I was not blind-sided by this at all.  It was on the calendar, so to speak.

I am alone many days without a thought toward being lonely.  Today was different.  History and tradition and the media dictate that one should be with family or friends or both on this of all days.  I am always thinking I am above all those external influences.  But today I am hauled in by the thinnest of emotional threads and beached on the sands of sentimentality.  I was lonely for the sight and sound and touch of someone I loved, and in some fair moment, who might have loved me.  Sometimes it's tough being human, or at least to own up to it.

There was no harm done.  I hauled in some wood for the fires.  I got all sweaty on the treadmill while listening to a great courtroom tale and showered off with extra warm water for an extra long time.  I permitted cocktail hour to begin half an hour earlier than usual.  To hell with those prudes who say NO to drinking alone.  It was a fine moment.

Somehow, I would be reluctant to give up the day as it was.  As the saying goes: "It's an ill wind that blows no good".  It was a good day for collecting truth stones and a few jewels of insight. 

I can imagine next Thanksgiving completely surrounded by people I love and looking for a quiet corner to collect myself in readiness for the next "event" of the day.  Be careful what you wish for....

Sometimes I am simply overcome with gratitude.  How lucky can one man be?

G B Henderson

Monday, November 25, 2013


WHETHER IT BE TRUE OR NOT, Thanksgiving is proclaimed by every media outlet, pulpit and I suppose it even resides somewhere in our DNA, to be America's Family Holiday.  

There is much to support this claim.  It isn't a day of gift giving.  It's a day of gathering together as a family, which in an age of such gross dispersion translates into the biggest travel day in the year.  Fewer children live near their parents now than ever.  First they leave for job or college or military service and that's it for the most part for having their lives centered around the family home.

It gets complicated.  Where there are two sets of parents the choice must be made.  Sometimes the choice is easy: your parents are angels and hers are demons.  OK, it could be the other way  around.  And lets go ahead and say it: you just may not like "those" people like the Good Book says you should.  In a best case scenario you manage to see everybody and eat a lot.

I love Stephan Pastis' Pearls Before Swine strip on Sunday.  It's titled: Rat Has Thanksgiving Dinner With His Family. Here's how it goes.  [ I'm not at all certain about the identities of these people but I have assigned them to the roles that seem obvious to me ]  Mother: Before we begin eating, I'd like to go around the table and each say what we're thankful for.  Grandmother: I'm thankful for family and holiday gatherings such as this.  Big sister: I'm thankful for mother nature and all of God's creatures.  Father: I'm thankful for world peace and love and brotherhood.  Rat: I'm thankful I only have to see you all once a year.  Mother: How heartwarming.  Rat: And oh, I like beer.

Before you jump on me with all four feet, I'm only trying to deal with reality here not some mush mush idea that everybody loves everybody.  (Jo Jo it just ain't so). If you extend most any family to the 1st and 2nd cousin brackets you will find people who are "interesting" at best and insufferable at worse.  It's OK.  Not everybody loves you, or me for that matter.  Hmm, that almost got stuck in my throat.

Still, we are drawn to these gatherings by some primordial force to once again be with those who share with us name, history and hope.  It's important.  It's family.  Whether it is your family or the family of someone you love or friends who gather together: it's family and it's important to that deepest part of you that only you can know.   And here I leave you to fill in the blanks according to the stirrings of your own heart.

I wish for each of you this Thanksgiving season love, warmth - the kind that's deeper than fire - and for goodness sake, don't let the day pass without a good tight hug.  Sometimes that alone is worth the price of airfare.

I'm Jerry Henderson
Be Well And Stay Tuned

Thursday, November 21, 2013


I NEVER THOUGHT MUCH ABOUT BIRTHDAYS UNTIL one morning I woke up as an octogenarian. If you are granted to live into your 80s, trust me, it will get your attention.

There are several reasons that this happens. First and foremost it's the number itself. 82 is a lot. I think everybody wishes to live long if it can be long and healthy. I've known people whose quality of life was so miserable that they wished for or welcomed the end.

The second thing that gets your attention in your 80s is physical change. It's unavoidable. Oh, you will try, but to no avail. It's bigger than you are. You slow down. You loose strength and stamina. The aches and pains seem to grow in intensity and often signal real problems that encourage a more intimate relationship with your primary physician. You begin to get those looks that say, "Well, what did you expect?"

Then there is social attrition. Friends die or move away. Spouses leave you or you leave them. It doesn't matter when in life these things happen. It is a devastating event at any time but it can be deadly when you are old. Unless, of course, she was a real bitch or he was a perfect bastard, then the event can bring on a season of true euphoria.

Today has been a great day. Sunny and cold. We had a fine chunk of beef on the grill with a bottle of good wine by the fire. There were presents. How lucky can one man be? Family in Florida speak of 82˚ and I count 82 years behind me and number is climbing as we speak.

Birthdays? Bring them on! It has been said many times before and I say it again: so far go good.

Thank each of you for your well wishes and greetings. You are the best. I wish for a warm hug from each of you.

Love Jerry H

Sunday, November 10, 2013


I knew immediately something was wrong the moment I woke up this morning.  First it was Sunday.  I have no particular problem with the day itself - it's just that I have so much old baggage full of Sunday issues dragging along behind.  Secondly, it was a cool dreary damp beginning that did not improve with time.  Thirdly and likely most importantly, I have not rested soundly lately for some reason and that alone has the potential to impair one's gait, to cloud one's focus, to cause one to doubt.

Suddenly I knew - I had a serious case of ennui.  I spent most of the morning letting this cloud engulf me as I probed around for another cup of coffee and finally realizing that a proven remedy for this condition is a sandwich made of an English muffin, a patty of Jimmy Dean sausage (hot) and a wad of scrambled egg with a liberal dose of Tabasco Chipotle sauce mixed in.  

It was a temporary fix, so to speak, as the sense of boredom again descended over the day.  I began to reason out the situation like this:  Do something - anything - just get busy.  I have so many things to do that it would take the rest of the day to list them.  That sounded way too boring to do.  Problem is, I didn't want to do anything.  Ennui is like that.  It's self sustaining, or defeating if that makes more sense.  Like a self fulfilling prophecy.  "Oh, that's probably not going to work out."  Sure enough it didn't.  

I had a partner years ago when we were therapists together who used to say that when sad, or depressed, or bored or whatever you want to call it, just go with it for a while and you'll see it evaporate right before your eyes.  Don't resist it for the more you do, the more it hangs in and grows in intensity.  This is a technique that has worked for me over the years but it requires one magic element that only you or I can provide: the desire to move on in the sunlight.  Ah, I just knew this was going to come up.

I am really not having that much of a problem with ennui, or whatever.  I have managed to blot out two thirds of the day dealing with this condition and before you know it - after a session on the treadmill, a little stretching and a hot soaky, it will be cocktail time and the Devil can just get in line and wait her turn.  See, I feel better already.

It just occurred to me that a trick I have used all my life to combat the ever present presence of self pity, boredom or sadness is to snack.  Since May of this year I have not snacked at all.  I mean it.  OK, maybe one or two times but I have limited my eating to two meals a day, period.  Nothing in between.  With a little effort this system has aided me in loosing a bunch of ugly fat.  I ain't going back to dealing with negative feelings with food.  Drink?  Perhaps, but not whole cans of salted nuts.

Getting back to today, I was looking in my freezer for some frozen green peppers for CA who is making turkey chowder for the evening meal and there was half a frozen pistachio muffin laying there in a plastic baggie.  I have no idea how long it had lain there, but I immediately began to feel the load of the day lift off my shoulders.   I probably should have just let the idea of the muffin do it's healing work but instead I re-heated some of the morning's darkroast and heated the remnants of the muffin and ate it.  

I could just feel my pancreas firing off insulin I did not need but I now have hope and can see the sunshine in my soul once more.  Ennui, my old friend, I know you are there.  Give it a rest for a while.  Perhaps I'll see you on the next dreary Sunday morning - OK?

Monday, November 4, 2013


I suppose that there are numbers - which of course do not lie - that would prove that daylight saving time is singlehandedly saving the planet from destruction. But I doubt it.

It's that time of year when time is the timeliest of subjects and daylight is in short supply. And if we were burning handmade candles for our light we would be shifting our schedules to conform to available light to minimize the burning of the labor intensive wick.

While in Paris in 1784, Benjamin Franklin, proposed some kind of adjustment to the available sunlight rather than adhering to the actual clock time which placed one end or the other of each day in darkness, which, as I have stated, required the consumption of expensive tapers.

While most of us nowadays forgo the use of open flame for light, the same principle holds that we try to conserve the use of expensive energy.

Just between you and me, I dislike the time changes we go through twice a year. It is, however, hard to argue with the saving of 10,000 barrels of oil through the use of the time shift as was reported during the oil embargo in the 70s.

Sifting the work day into the daylight portion of the day became an issue during war time to conserve energy. In the 40s it was called Eastern War Time, Central War Time and Western War Time. As a young teenager then, I remember vividly how everything was defined by the war. Everything.

What I remember about all this as a boy is a bus ride home from a music lesson downtown Baton Rouge at 5 PM in total darkness. I didn't even wear a watch then. I couldn't have cared less, as I recall. I always seemed to arrive at my appointed destination on time. Is there a lesson there?

Anyway, we are now on what I call real time. The time that is set by celestial pulleys and chains, set in motion by the hand of God, or Goddess, I am sure. And we'll muddle through with that until darkness falls in the middle of the afternoon next month. If I were not such a dignified old man, I'd scream!

I still have to set the clock in my car, on my stove and microwave and coffee maker. Oh the clock at my bedside as well. Better get on with it before it gets dark.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


IT'S THE LEAST ONE CAN DO and I don't do it that well. I have given up on ever being a card sender on the birthdays of my friends. It just wasn't a part of my culture, except in elementary school where it was emphasized. But like most things at that age, I didn't get it that it was being emphasized for my benefit and learning.

I grew up thinking that whatever I wanted to do at the moment was the most important thing in life. Picking out a card and filling it out for someone else's birthday never made the cut. It should have but it didn't.

My partner in life, CA, on the other hand, spends as much money on birthday cards as she does on food. Her entire family places a high priority on sending cards for everything. She can not imagine not doing it.

I go through periods of thinking that even at this late date I can learn a new trick and send out cards on time for everything. Alas, It doesn't "take", as it were.

Along comes the computer age and I plug into it with a fearlessness that astonishes even myself. I have a calendar on every device I own. There are three that matter: my desktop computer, my laptop and my phone. If I change a date or enter an appointment or birthday on one of them it instantly appears on the other two, as if by magic. You'll forgive me, but I remember when electricity was discovered. All this really does seem magical to me.

Yet, with all this assistance at my fingertips, I still am not the best at remembering. Now there is FaceBook and it's pathological insistence on reminding us of every breath anyone takes, and I have to say it helps me remember, but you must be here every day for it to work well, and I am not.

And if you are wondering - I do love getting your greetings on my birthday. I have always been amazed that anyone ever thought of me. I had this low self esteem thing, you see. I managed to compensate for that with an overwhelming bad temper and an impressive sense of being right about everything. I have overcome the former while seeing nothing wrong with the later.

But back to the card sending thing: I have this reminder pop-up that appears on all my devices that reminds me of birthdays. Yes - even that doesn't work for me all the time. But today it did. An old Istrouma High School buddy of mine is 81 today and I sent him an email with "happy birthday" in red capitol letters. He replied immediately, thanking me and telling me that he and six classmates of ours are meeting this morning for breakfast, and that he was going to tell them of my note. Now how cool is that? And how I wish I could be there.

One would think that I'd learn from this how important it is to be consistent in the simple act of remembering important dates. Well, I have never been consistent about anything. My eye doctor asked me once if I put my glaucoma drops in every day without fail. I laughed and said, "Sam, I don't do anything without fail!". And there you have it.

Happy birthday everyone. I hope you have cake and perhaps a glass of wine to lighten your heart.

Love - Jerry

Friday, August 30, 2013


I am fortunate in that I live 1 1/2 miles from the gate to Bradbury Mountain State Park. Because of my age - just about everything these days is because of my age - I can get in free. I take advantage of this benefit as often as possible.

On this particular day I am getting my kit ready in the parking lot and I notice a quartet that about to begin their hike and notice that it consist of what seems to be a 14 year old boy, an infant in a big wheeled stroller and what I assume to be a mother and grandmother, both of whom are rather wide in the beam.

I decide that rather than overtaking them - they are surely going to be slow - I'd take a shortcut through the playing field and get out on the trail ahead of them. When I got to the head-off point they were a hundred yards beyond. These overweight women pushing a baby carriage are walking much faster than I am. Soon they are out of sight. I am quickly re-evaluating my physical condition.

However, I carry on toward my destination which is the perimeter, or boundary trail - the longest and most difficult of the walks available on the mountain. Surely these portly women will not be attempting to push a pram over those trails which can be a challenge for healthy hikers alone. Guess what? That's where they were. When I got to the junction for the perimeter trail there they were trying to decide what to do, as the terrain had begun to be challenging.

In my most genuinely supportive tone I suggest that they not attempt what would likely be impossible and to do another trail which would be possible for them and more enjoyable. They seemed to be pleased to have this information and proceeded to take my advise. I probably saved their day. However, no matter how wide their bottoms were, they were out there out pacing me, who, in my inflated ego state, felt I could and even should out pace them and their baby buggy. When will I ever learn? I can just hear Freddie Mercury's refrain: "Fat bottomed girls, you make the rockin' world go round".

Living as close as I do, I am able to report on winter, spring, summer and fall. Don't worry - I will not do that here. I do remember once when CA and I clung to each other to get over a particular passage of icy trail to get to the summit. I believe it was March. What were we thinking? During visits long ago, I actually ran the trails that I now carefully negotiate with a supporting staff. Just coming to grips with reality, folks.

Bradbury Mountain is a pocket park in the classic sense. The park is tiny as parks go but it can handle scores of people without having them bump into each other. I have gone out there when the parking lot was full and not seen a soul on the trails. Weekends in good weather excepted.

In the day, this was a farm. Stone walls are all over this mountain. Such things were not constructed in the woods. they were there to make clear the fields that were cultivated or grazed. Now, people like me walk along these trails thinking wilderness and the shades of generations past, who cleared the land and piled up these stone walls, laugh up their etherial sleeves at our hubris. Once it was wilderness, but that was long long ago.

Ultimately, I arrived at the summit and found that I was surprisingly alone. I enjoyed the view and had a swig from my bottle while a couple walked up from the opposite direction. The young woman had on a pair of pink and yellow sneaks, fresh from the box, it seemed, and loudly noticeable. They seemed almost electrified. I made some comment about the pink and yellow sneaks and she looked at me with that blank stare, which suggested to me that she did not have English as even a secondary language. Ah, Québécois perhaps? The shoes should have told me that much. She never uttered a sound. So I lifted a foot and tapped it indicating that that was the subject of my comment and she more or less smiled and went on her way with her companion. So much for my lame attempt at international sociality.

I always say that I am out there to get the exercise, but what happens is that I end up experiencing the "magic" that is there for anyone who walks in the woods. There's always the chance that I will discover something new or forgotten about being in nature. About being alive. About myself. Some days out there are more effective than others. Today was one of the good days.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Nothing, in my experience, comes close to equaling hearing loss for removing one from the mainstream. No matter how much money you spend on hearing aids, hearing loss, in most cases, is progressive. The electronic hardware can only amplify the frequencies you can hear. The more frequencies you loose the less effective hearing aids become no matter how expensive they are, or what your audiologist tells you.

I began wearing hearing aids fifteen years ago and for a few years felt that with the moderate loss I was experiencing I was still able to participate at a high level in an active social experience, which included listening to music with genuine appreciation. As time moved on, my disability became more profound and I had to move from tiny units completely within the ear canal to more powerful over the ear units with all kinds of amplification and multiple channels for amplifying selected bands of frequencies.

It was at that time that I noticed a distinct change in the level and quality of my understanding. Although I was hearing the sounds I was not hearing the subtile sibilant and explosive frequencies - like the S's and K's - which are essential for understanding words, specially if they have a common "vowel" sound, such as corn, horn, born, torn and so on. Attempts to amplify just the frequencies I needed seemed to help at first but then as my disability increased it did not matter how much specific amplification was applied, I simply was not hearing certain frequencies. Those frequencies had just dropped out of my aural repertoire.

Not long after that realization, I discovered that music no longer sounded like my memory demanded. I spent years involved in choral music and listening to all kinds of music. I also appreciated much of the popular genre from the 60's and 70's. Recently we had a roof replaced and the man doing the work had his radio blasting out what sounded to me like a metal garbage can being dragged beneath a car. Then I heard a familiar beat and realized it was John Fogerty doing his signature Proud Mary, to which I had danced and listened for hours a few years ago. The parts of the audio spectrum that are required to identify music, much less to appreciate it, were gone. It was one of the saddest moments in my life.

In a more practical sense, this has resulted in my being literally on the edge of life. Marginalized. I suppose a certain amount of marginalization goes along with being an octogenarian. Old people are not, as a rule movers and shakers, or even chosen to be on someone's softball team. However, not being able to actively participate in a conversation including more than three people because of the practical inability to understand what is being said is distressing. It gets tiresome saying, "What did you say? Will you say that again slowly and articulate clearly, please?", every other sentence. What happens is that I spend the evening simply not knowing what was being said. I find it impossible not to feel just a tad left out. You think I am feeling a bit sorry for myself? Goddamn right I am. But not that paralyzing locked down self pitying thing. I do not intend to drop out. I might become choosy in my social exercises but I'll be there.

Why should I care? Here's why. Conversation to me is one of the most exciting features of being a human being. I thrive on it. It is still possible on a one to one basis and sometimes with a few more but it must be conducted in a quiet setting. And, my partners must not mumble, talk to their armpits or slur their words and phrases.

Unfortunately, elocution, the skill of clear and expressive speech, especially of distinct pronunciation and articulation, is simply not valued anymore. If everyone sounded like Walter Cronkite, there wouldn't be a problem. Well, that may be a slight oversimplification, but you take my point.

I am clear that this is my personal problem, but if I want to be understood, it is my responsibility to speak clearly. I was taught to do that in high school. At some point such training became unimportant in the modern curriculum.

The bottom line is that I want to be included. Everybody does. However, at the rate things are going, I may be lucky just to be able to hear the dinner bell. I really don't want to miss dinner.

Please - Ring it loudly, ring it long.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Dear Pal . . .

Dear Pal

Thanks for your recent note. I really enjoyed reading it - several times, if you can believe that. It's always good to hear from an old friend. I have so few friends who actually write letters anymore. I can tall you that I treasure each one. I will say a special thanks for typing it. As I recall, your handwriting resembled something it would take a board certified Egyptologist to decipher. OK, OK, I know even that would not help my scribble.

I have to thank my first wife - you remember her. She was in the class ahead of us. She was a champion typist. She gave me a lesson of sorts and after some years of trying and then the advent of the computer I finally am more comfortable at the keyboard than with pen and ink. I never thought I'd be saying that.

It's funny how when I think of you, I seem to easily slip into that old comfortable memory mode - not that squishy nostalgia mind lock thing, but, well we do go back a long way - do we not?

It's probably something like a self-fulling prophesy, I suppose. The older I get the more I value someone's friendship who remembers the same things that I do.

I just thought: I am sure you remember when it was in vogue to say something like, "Do you remember what you were doing when you got the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor?" Now, try this on: do you remember when it was that you became aware that you had not heard that for the past 20 years? Hell, it might have been longer than that for me.

Anyway, you mentioned Mary Jane. Yes I remember her well. I kind of had eyes for her in High School, but never made a move. I think I was afraid of rejection. Always been an issue with me. I later found out that she said "yes" more than a little, and I probably knew that at some level and that was the real root of my fears. HA!

I am so sorry to hear that she died. I remember in High School I always thought she had one of the finest rear ends around. Her cheerleading skills were worth the price of a game ticket. I think she married that big All State guard - what was his name? I know he died some years ago. Heart attack at work. Did she remarry? I don't have any information about that. No reason I should, I suppose.

Except for you, Tyrus and sometimes J-Boy, I never hear any news from down there. Moving away early on kind of severs the connections.

I'm glad to hear that you and Rosalie are still playing golf. I'd like to think I could still do that but my shoulders would not survive three holes, I'm afraid. I love to watch the game. I had a half set of clubs about 40 years ago and a friend borrowed them for another lefty to use and I never saw them again. Probably a blessing considering what it costs to play these days.

If I remember rightly, you actually live on a golf course? That must be nice. But I don't know how I'd like that unless there were other benefits. Like a saloon near by. Maybe a pool and a work out room.

We do some hiking and now and then still get into our kayaks. But my treadmill and bicycle keep my legs moving year around. I'm afraid to stop. We have some good trails near here and get out on them as much as possible. The roads have no shoulders so that is rather dangerous with those Red Neck pick-up cowboys flying through these hills. I guess that's a bit unfair. I have more red-neck blood in my veins than any other kind.

So, as you can see, I am rambling along here and probably need to stop and put this in the mailbox. Thanks again for the letter, and we do hope to see you later this summer. Be well, and keep in touch.

As Ever - - -

Your pal Jerry

Thursday, June 20, 2013


In the early morning, I sit here with that initial cup of darkroast and have the morning sun shine directly into my face through a window that faces almost due northeast. Perhaps a little more north. In that same chair in the twilight, as I sip an evening libation, the sun shines in through a southwestern window directly through the room and out the northeastern window through which the morning sun shown. No big deal. Right? Happens all the time. It's just that I find it enchanting.

In winter time when the sun is in the southern sky the light comes into the southern window behind me but never shines in those other two windows.

Whether you notice it or not, it just happens. In our modern go to meeting kind of existence it hardly causes a ripple in the daily plan. But our forbears, however, took special notice of all these celestial shenanigans. It was big mojo to them. It was the longest day of light in the year. They had ceremonies and postulated meaning to it all. Kind of sounds like modern religion, doesn't it?

I mean if you didn't have the internet and the evening news to explain things to you, then you made up your own explanations for such phenomena. It was otherworldly. It was divine stuff. A time for chanting, drumming, and possibly a little dancing. I am so happy that Wolf Blitzer was not there to screw it up.

Every school child knows about the wobbling earth. How the planet is offset 23˚ and how it swings back and forth like a top spinning on a table top and how that wobbling is the reason for our seasons. In the summer time the top - or earth - leans toward the sun and in the winter it leans away - at least in the northern hemisphere.

That tabletop top looses its momentum ultimately and falls over and rolls onto the floor. Perhaps that's how it will all end one day. I mean, it's got to run down some day. Don't you think? I've always heard that it was axiomatic that there is no such thing as perpetual motion.

So much is going on around us - it's mind bending.

Don't forget to stay awake for every single lumen on the longest day. A little chanting or drumming might help. A small nip of something special could lighten the heart.

And - on the 23rd there is a super moon as well.

Hello SumerTime! Now if there can be just a little warmth.

It's not asking too much, you think?

Monday, June 10, 2013


When I was in graduate school, we were "blessed" sort of, by various itinerant lecturers who came by and shared with us their particular slice of the wisdom pie.

I wish I could remember this guy's name but like so much of that time, I have put it somewhere beyond reach. The thrust of his presentation was that if you couldn't say "fuck" then something was fucking up your fucking. I mean, it doesn't get much cuter than that.

He had a presentation lasting about 30 minutes and used the "F" word in just about every sentence he uttered. I think he was trying to say that it was just a word and had no particular power in and of itself. But in our culture it's an emotionally charged word. I'll say one thing: it was memorable. Funny, how I never heard of him since.

I have always wondered how many colleges he hit with that little stunt while driving around in his air-conditioned RV, taking a nip out of the student activities fund.

Recently someone posted to his FaceBook timeline another bit by some joker, who was, in reality, just another redneck shock jock. His recipe for an omelette contained more or less about 70 words, 18 of which were some form of the "F" word. In addition, it was a rather plain and incomplete recipe that would never make it to a real kitchen. Not mine, anyway.

Then there is this site called - I Fucking Love Science . No question about it: we need to love science, but do we need to "Fucking Love Science"? I want to say, why cheapen the love of science with gutter talk? Oh, wait - you're trying to reach gutter people - I got it.

The same holds for those so-called reality shows on TV where these situational characters with bad hair and grunge clothing and no future in acting, seem to be incapable of putting two complete sentences together without the "F" word popping up, bleeped out of course, so we won't hear what we know is being said. At times there are more "bleeps" than regular words. I wonder how long before the networks just forget the "bleeps" and let it all hang out. I wonder if anyone will complain.

The gratuitous use of profanity cheapens even profanity. There is no question about the value of a well placed "by-word", even "that" word, now and then. I do not claim to be some kind of example of high minded speech, but discretion seems to be a lost art these days. And, by the way, profanity free English is perhaps the most beautiful gift we have as communicating human beings. The language is so beautifully powerful as not to need any help.

If I have offended someone, I'm sorry. But remember, I told you not to read this. Anyway, I am feeling like it's time to rinse out my mouth. "Oh, Miss. A little Tanqueray on ice please?"

Sunday, May 26, 2013


If you're anywhere near the same place I am these dark, damp, dreary days, a nice culinary pick-me-up is just what can turn the tide away from the mudflats of despair, the shoals of aimlessness and the craggy rocks of self inflicted bodily harm.

The following just might save your life. First go find three other people and follow these directions. This can work for just one, or two, of course.

Go get four 6 oz salmon filets or a sections - it isn' critical. Sprinkle a little salt on the fish.

Then put these things in a small bowl and mix well. If you have large pieces of fish then increase the amounts a little. After you do this a few times you may want to add a little more of this or a little less of that. It's just a guide.

2 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground ancho chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp brown sugar

Heat a non-stick pan to medium and wipe the bottom with an olive oil soaked napkin, or spray with some good non-stick spray, just to be sure. We are not frying this fish.

Rub the fish with the dry spice mix to coat it well.

Cook about 7 minutes on a side and about half way through the second side cooking time, drizzle some maple syrup on the fish. Some of it will run off and sizzle in the pan. That's not a problem.

Maybe some peas or carrots on the side along with a fresh spinach salad. It's up to you. You want French Fries, go on ahead. It's your happiness we are working for here.

Most any nice chilled dry white wine will do and soon after your first taste of salmon treated this way, you'll begin to think you are truly important and that the sun will actually shine again in your lifetime.

Enjoy! Jerry Henderson

Monday, May 20, 2013

GBJerry's items Go to GBJerry's photostream

Friday, May 10, 2013


There really is nothing that compares to a nice quiet evening spent in a nice quiet restaurant with someone you care for, and enjoying a good meal and conversation.

If you find such a "quiet" place, please call me.

I love to have a dinner out now and then. I also love breakfasts at a few favorite places. But I am a special case. I know, I know, you have thought that for years. You are probably right, but I am talking about another thing altogether. Without hearing aids, I do not hear much at all. Let me be clear - I don't hear anything at all. Even with them, I am hearing only part of the audible spectrum and have great problems in noisy environments, which describes most restaurants.

Don't get me wrong. I am quite thankful for the instruments. Without them, I would be entirely left out of normal social activity. As it is, I don't get half of what's being said, even in a quiet group. Add the usual cacophony of restaurant ambient noise and I can't sift through it enough to hear my dining partner well enough to have an intelligent conversation.

Many people who have more or less normal hearing say they have similar issues in similar situations. Why, then, is this a persistent problem? Forgive me if I venture an opinion. It's either callus disregard for the customer experience or plain ignorance.

For instance: if there were some noise dampening treatments on the floors, walls and ceilings, the noise would be reduced to a tolerable level in most situations. One of my favorite places, Stones, over in North Yarmouth is the "liveliest" room on the planet. You drop your "ticket" on the floor and it sounds like an anvil falling through the roof. The Freeport Cafe is another example. I love that place but when it is full it is nearly impossible to place your order without shouting. Tin ceilings, hard floors and nothing at all in place to dampen sound.

There are places that when you go there you expect to be assaulted by deafening noise. Irish bars, sports bars, juke joints and Texas beer parlors. Places for adolescents to behave like adolescents. Ye, Ha!

I walked into a place in Camden some years ago and there was immediately a wave of quietness that washed over me as I walked into the room. I think the place was called Swan's Way. I had to wonder if Marcel Proust would have been comfortable there. There was a Willy Nelson CD playing softly and it was deliciously quiet. The tone was set by the decor and music. I feel certain that if four hockey pucks came in and began shouting and slamming fists down on the table someone would have suggested they find another place to have dinner.

Obviously this is my problem. But quite often other people with normal hearing say similar things about their experiences in restaurants and other places. There seems to be a premium on noise. The more noise the more lively things are. It's normal. I can't argue with that. But is it better? I think not.

If things keep on the way they are going and I live long enough, it won't make any difference, as far as I am concerned.  I won't be able to hear a damned thing. Hearing loss is a progressive condition.  Total silence.  There has to be an up-side to that.

Friday, May 3, 2013


Well, I'll be damned.  I can't believe it's really you.  I never thought I'd ever hear your voice again.  Where are you calling from?
LL Bean?  My god you are practically in my driveway.  I hope you are coming by here.  Surely you must.
Well, I could at least feed you and it would be great to put you up for the night.  I have fresh booze too!  Heh. Heh.
What?  Doctor took you off of the booze?  Change doctors. . . . . 
Oh, I see. . . . I see.  Well, that is too bad.  I was joking of course. You need to take care of that.
So it's just you and Darlene? That's nice. Nice little romantic getaway?
Okay, just a getaway then.  Heh Heh. 
I am curious, after what – 60 years, how did you find me? - - - Bill?  You in touch with Billy are you? Well, yes he comes up at least once a season and we have a good time with each other.
I stopped trying to find old boyhood chums a long time ago. I found it depressing.  Kind of like graveyard browsing.  But that could just be my own problem.  I drug up and left town and never returned.  It didn't occur to me at the time that I was leaving my entire childhood behind, but I suppose that's what we all do at some level. I did it big time.  2000 miles and 60 years makes intimacy just a tad difficult.  So many have passed on, you know.
Yeah. You got it.  No, I am not in touch with too many of the old gang.  Billy, of course.
Louise? Yes. She married a cousin of mine you know and we have managed to be in touch for the past 20 or so years. 
I do email another cousin now and then. I don't even know where any of the others are these days. You move on, you know. I find it best not to hang around too much or too long in the past.
So, where'd you say you are headed? Canada?  Love it up there. Well, I do wish you had the time to come by.  It would be good to see whose the fattest.
Ha!  So you think you're the champ in that category?  Let me tell you, at our age we are just plain lucky no matter what body type we sport around.
Yeah, ain't it the truth?
So you're getting on the road now, huh?
Yes, my father used to say that.  Got to make that good time when going somewhere. How far do you think you'll get today? 
All the way to Moncton? That's a good days work. And you were outside of Boston last night? 
Oh, I see. So you flew to Logan and rented a car. That's the way to go.
No, I never get down south anymore since all the old folks died.  Listen to me. Whose calling who old?
Well, yes.  I can imagine driving down.  We've talked about that.  Road trip, you know.  I'd rather like that.
Listen, I am so glad you called.   I still think you need to come by here.  

I understand, believe me, I do.

You drive carefully now, and have a good time.
And stay in touch too, you hear?
You too. . .
Bye now.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


I talk a good game.  It's easy to do when you are able to walk around, take nourishment and have more or less regular episodes in the bathroom.  Talk is cheap.  Adversity is the real test of  "a good game".  I talk a lot about growing older and all the interesting dimensions of that process.   What I don't talk a lot about is the end game.  Life after the TWO MINUTE WARNING.

I've been around the sick and dying off and on all my life.  The end game is played out in as many ways as there are players in the game.  That's all of us, folks, every last one of us.  I can't say I've seen it all.  Frankly, I am happy not to have seen it all.  But I've seen enough to feel qualified to say that though the end comes to us all, it does not come in the same way to us all. 

For many, there is no two minute warning.  A blinding flash, a numbing jolt in the brain, a simple last sigh in the night, or a stupid act by a stupid driver - no warning - CRASH!  St. Peter has heard it millions of times, "But I didn't hear the two minute warning!"

My partner CA is a hospice nurse.  She can talk about dying with as much focus as if she were describing a new cardinal pair at the feeders.  She is really engaged and loves the work.  It's a mission, if you will, that seems to me to have real value.  I couldn't do it five minutes.  The hospice mission is to seek to assure as little pain and discomfort at the end as possible. 

A dear friend of mine, living out west, says now and then in our many email exchanges, that she believes in rational suicide.  I guess what she means by that is that it's only for thinking people.  She asks, "Why can't I be in control of the end like I am in control in the middle?"  I can't find any fault with that. Although, for me, the "middle" often seems out of control.

I saw this enormously gripping program about assisted suicide where this middle aged man with  amyotrophic lateral sclerosis - ALS - Lou Gehrig's Disease.  In its final stages one can not even swallow, having lost all control of bodily functions.  It's a less than ideal exit I am told.  He and his wife traveled to Switzerland, where it is apparently legal to have someone who is licensed, to assist in the end of life process.  This man wanted to have control over his dying while he could still hold the cup containing his "cocktail" and swallow it.  He went to sleep listening to his favorite music and holding his wife's hand.  He heard the two minute warning and he played it out according to his own play book.  I sat there as a stone, much the same way I remember feeling when I first saw that clip of the first atomic bomb test in the desert.  I had to remember to breathe.

The other "personal" way out is what I call the Kodak method, named after the inventor of the once ubiquitous Brownie roll film camera.  George Eastman sat in his office one night in March 1932 at the age of 77 years and put a pistol to his chest and fired a bullet into his heart.  Now, a head shot would have been an instantaneous "light's out" experience - I am told.  I am convinced that there was a beat or two before the lights went all the way out that the fly on the wall might have heard something like, "My goodness, but that hurt."  But, probably not.  He was a determined man.  He left a note - "To my friends: my work is done. Why wait?" 

There is the view that claims that we should hold out as long as possible in case someone bursts through the door with the hoped for miracle cure, or just a raw miracle.   I suppose that could happen, but it sounds more like magical thinking than science.  If you live long enough the very idea of a miracle cure becomes kind of irrelevant, if not darkly humorous.

I suppose that if we are lucky we will hear the two minute warning and begin executing our end of game plan.  Things like making sure everyone knows where your last will and testament is filed, what you want to happen to your mortal remains, who gets your porno films, your old drug paraphernalia, your gun and your leftover prescription drugs which could be worth a lot of money on the street.  It would, however, seem the ultimate irony to think of luck at the time of one's death.  I mean, really.

No, incase you're wondering, I have not heard a two minute warning.  However, I do remember that impossibly boring half time program that seems like a long time ago. 

I'll see you around.

Jerry Henderson

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


My FaceBook sidebar is telling me about some of my FB friends who have several hundred FB friends. I think FB is trying to make me feel guilty for not having as many friends as I could have. I think I am friendly, but maybe I'm not. I mean, I don't even know 300 people. 500 people. I suppose if I tried, I could think of 300 people, but there is no way I could call all of them actual friends. I heard of a woman who had over 1000 FB friends. I am sure there are people who have more. Maybe there should be a button for acquaintances. People you know of, but perhaps do not actually know - you know?

I saw a most remarkable presentation at the Portland Museum of Art last year, that exhibited dozens of photographs of the artist's FaceBook friends. She went around and made very tasteful portraits of her friends and presented them in this show. I was fascinated with the whole effort. But did she send birthday greetings to them all? Send Holiday greetings to them all? Call them all and have coffee now and then? You know the answer to that.

Here's a test. In a friendship there is always mutual knowledge and understanding. It has to go both ways. There is a level of intimacy - closeness in a real friendship. That doesn't mean there is a lot of groping every time you meet, but there are some shared experiences that merit at least a gentle fist bump upon greeting. Know what I mean?

It takes more than simple recognition to make a friendship. In a country that makes so much of freedom of speech any word can be word-naped and given a new identity. FaceBook has done this with "friend". Friend has been taken from her home in the middle of the night and given a new hairdo, a facelift and new clothes and passport. A friend now is anyone who was at the same party you attended, passed you on the street, worked for the same company, served in the same battalion, or lives on the same planet as you do. "Hey, somebody who knows you and is your FB friend, also knows Joe Bliztifac. Why not be Joe Bliztifac's friend." It's not far from that. Wait a minute - that's exactly what it is.

The one thing that doesn't need watering down in our culture is friendship. But if someone comes up and says, "Hey, I want to be your friend," what do you say? "Sure, it's an honor to be your friend". Wait -
is it really? I mean you could say something like, I would love to be an acquaintance of yours and then perhaps as time goes by, we may become real friends. Get to know each other. Something like that. We don't do that, do we? And that's the little chink in our social armor that Mr. Zuckeberg exploits.

Here is test #2. The next time you get a friend request, go ahead and accept it and then send a private message and ask the person to meet you next friday at Slumgullion's or where ever for a beer. Maybe they'll pay. You never know - you may have just met your long sought soul buddy. Ya think?

Here's a disclaimer for you: I actually like FaceBook. Not the whole thing, but the bulletin board feature where we actually go back and forth on some subject or other. It is an over the backyard fence thing at heart and that is all it is for me. The games, the sidebars, the crap that wants to snare you into sharing more of your personal information is garbage. Of course, this is only one man's opinion.

I love communicating with people. It's what drives me. When something better comes along I'll go to it. Meanwhile - - - - - - - will you be my friend?

I'm Jerry Henderson

Friday, April 5, 2013


If you are one of those unfortunates who stumble upon this site and wonder what's going on, well it is under construction.  I am experimenting with a PODCASTING host, the results of which effort I would like to post here.

Those wonderfully smart people who write these programs that are touted to work miracles with the very thing you want to do can't seem to explain - at least to my dim lights - to me how these things work.  It is just near impossible for an engineer to talk down to the level of ordinary humans.

As you will note, I did manage to post an experimental audio file here but do not seem to be able to replicate the experience in the same way as before.  I am certain that there is a normal, regular and predictable path to successfully posting a podcast to this or any other site - as is clearly stated in their mission statement.  God forbid that I should want to add theme music!

Well, anyway, I need something to do.  Actually, I have plenty to do and THIS is what I do instead.  HA!

Your patience is deeply appreciated.        Thank You

Jerry Henderson

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Forgive the attitude, but I have to say that some of our fine elected legislators - which means we're to blame - seem to think that if they have nothing better to do then they have to come up with a new law.  I mean, they're legislators - but do they have to make laws, whether needed or not?  Such a mind set deserves to be tied to a post and every glop of mud, garbage and cesspool overflow dumped on his/her head for at least a fortnight.  I always wanted to use that word.

This is a prime example of what I am talking about.  It seems that a fine Democrat, no less, has proposed to make I-295 in the southern Maine region, a toll road.  This would be like requiring you to pay $2 to enter your grocery store, get out of your driveway or go to the post office.  Although, in the latter case, it seems that might not be an issue much longer.

First, dozens of toll booths would need to be built at incalculable expense.  Then you need an entire bureaucracy  to run the thing.  Not to mention the constant bother to daily commuters by the thousands who have been using the roadway for years without political meddling.

In response, I am proposing a secret, clandestine, subversive and militant quasi religious force of freedom fighters whose single purpose if to fight the pernicious political practice of gouging the citizenry of our fair state every time they get a chance.  I would tell you what we intend to do but that would be breaking our sacred vow of secrecy.

I will tell you this much, confidentially - I am installing a quick release cover to my septic tank to facilitate the odd last minute midnight "baptism", if you know what I mean, of the most serious offenders.

Who do these bozos in Augusta and Washington, for that matter, think they are?  We the people sent them there to see if they can make our lives better, not to burden us with petty projects and power pandering.

Message to all elected persons:



Friday, March 15, 2013


Some years ago, I was blessed or sentenced - from day to day it was difficult to tell - to live in New Orleans for about two years. We lived in Uptown where there were fewer drive-by shootings rapes and robberies than in the Downtown areas. I guess it could be said, that was the blessing part.

There was another perk that you had to live there to enjoy: there was always some kind of celebration going on. New Orleanians could organize a parade complete with floats and a jazz band for any reason at all. There didn't seem to be a lack of reasons.

I once race-walked in a 10K that began in the French Quarter and ended on the riverside end of Audubon Park. At each major, and some minor crossings, there was a band playing lively jazz. It had a positive effect.

On St. Patrick's Day we decided to visit one of our favorite cafés, Joey K's, on Magazine for breakfast. As a testament to how distracted one can be in a city of constant attractions, we did not know it was St. Patrick's Day. Magazine St. was blocked off for parking, to make way for a parade, so we had to find a place on a side street.

Clay, the owner of the café waited on us and confirmed that there was to be a parade with floats with dozens of Irishmen in tuxedos and tailcoats, green cummerbunds and white sneakers, marching and riding on floats. Over the weekend there will be four parades, he said.

Today's parade will pass in front of the restaurant. Soon, he said, we will have a full house of those tuxedo clad gentlemen drinking milk laced with Irish whiskey with their breakfast. He allowed that some of the gents seemed not to have a tolerance for the milk. For the sake of disambiguation, It was a bit before 8: AM.

It was further explained that these men would throw potatoes and cabbages to the crowds lining the parade route. And yes, there have been injuries.

It will be a quiet day here in Pownal for St. Patrick's Day. No green beer. No Irish whiskey. No boisterous parade. No formal dress. Out of deference to the day, however, I will cook a cabbage with a few Irish potatoes thrown in, demonstrating, I hope beyond a doubt, my spiritual side.

Friday, March 8, 2013


Here we are at the end of another week of this off and on weather that hovers around that point where water turns to ice and ice turns to water.  It's bone cuddling chilly.  It's messy and muddy.  I'm tired of it.

Here's the thing: it seems that I just do not deal with it as I once did.  I want to sit on the deck under the umbrella and have coffee, read the morning paper and watch the birds and red squirrels at the feeders.  I want to sit under that lovely maple at the corner of the house and think about things.  I want to walk in the woods and climb the mountain. Hell, I want to cut the grass!  

I know what it is.  It's SAD.  Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Or in plain terms: I'm friggin' tired of this winter.  It will be just the same next winter and the one after that.  

We got a light inch last night.  Hopefully that is all we will have of this latest storm which dumped tons of wet messy snow on much of the mid-section of the nation.  Oh well, it's March.  We ain't done yet.

We have a temporary solution for today, however.  We are going down to the big city of Portland to the annual flower show!  At least we can enjoy some color and smells and a cup of coffee.  We can say things like, "Wouldn't that look nice on the deck?", or , "That would look great in the new garden on the south side, wouldn't it?".

I can't believe they want $13 to get in this year.  Another American tradition of paying for the privilege of viewing demonstration gardens staged by dozens of garden stores and greenhouses, all of them wanting to sell you stuff for your gardens.  The man from Mars would say they should pay me to come see their presentations.  After all, it it were not good for business it wouldn't be happening.

It is enjoyable, however, and restful and a great photo opportunity as well.  So, it's something to do, and we're going to do it.  Maybe I'll see you there.  We can smile and say it's wonderful.  We can talk about the beautiful creations set out for our enjoyment.  We can say it was good to see each other.   But let's have an agreement NOT to mention the weather.  That's really why we're there, you know.  

Wednesday, March 6, 2013



Champions of the practice of raping and pillaging.  The Olympic gold medalists for chopping down every tree they ever saw.  

Yes, they were amazing navigators and sailors.  Yes they traveled thousands of miles across open seas.  They came, they saw and they disappeared. They left a some scratches and a few artifacts of interest to students of such things, and that's all.  The Sons of Norway can whoop and holler all they want, but their storied ancestors were a scruffy  lot, not given to elevating the cultural station of those they met on the way to the mall.  Unless, that is, you think a credit card has something to do with culture.

Lately, it seems there is a renewed interest in the Viking era.  At least among TV producers.  I watched a brief segment the other night of THE VIKINGS and was amazed at the gratuitous killing and stylized grunge depicted in the piece.  Beards, hair and costume that seemed to me to have been carefully prepared before the shoot to comply with historical accuracy (excuse me, but there is not much on which to base anything in such detail)  and audience appeal, of course.  It's all about perception.  

Well, are we supposed to really believe those people looked like that?  I suppose that is the "Hollywood" effect.  Those people could make Hell seem like a "neat" weekend destination.  A reality retreat that's guaranteed to make you want to come back soon, ya hear?.

But really, it's hard to believe that it was much different for anyone around the turn of the 1st millennium AD.  You can read as much as you will, but a thousand years ago was not yesterday, and whatever was accomplished by the Vikings, or anyone else during that age, has to be judged by those standards not by the standards we would impose today.  So I didn't mean what I said?  Listen: I am ecstatic that I was not then.  

I couldn't have survived five minutes, I am sure. There I go again.  Standards change.  So, maybe I would have made it as a Viking?  It's a moot point.  Who cares?  I only know one thing for sure: I don't want any history passed on to me to be concocted by Hollywood or their kissing cousins, TV producers.  

Too bad there are no iPhone videos to reveal what those guys really looked like and what they really did.  I'm not that happy that too many such documents actually exist to reveal what we are really like to our descendants a thousand years hence.  If, that is, there is a thousand years hence.

Alas, what others now or then think of me or you, for that matter, is none of our business.  So carry on the best you can and look your best, if you can.  Neatness probably counts. ( I'll take a pass on that one. ) Try not to be so violent and warlike.  That's hard to hide from those who dig up your bones, excavate your dwellings, imagine your long boats and fast cars. 

Monday, March 4, 2013


I remember waking up on my 60th birthday thinking, "Well that was easy.  I just had to wake up and I am 60 years old!"  That was then - this is now and it is 21 years later.

That day seems a lifetime ago.  It wash't easy for me.  It was the first time in my life that I really felt old.  Not old and decrepit but not young or even middle aged anymore.  It got my attention.

I do not plan to use these pages to complain - much.  I only want to find the voice of an octogenarian who actually believes this is that part that Browning referred to when he said, "The best is yet to be..."  I like being old.  However, I purely don't give a damn for the physical limitations that inevitably accompany the aging process.  You want to be old, then pardoner, you better buckle on your sword and shield, because there's a battle raging and you are needed on the front lines.  It's your battle.  It's my battle.

Luck has a lot to do with how well we age.  Attitude has more to do with it.   Luck is easy.  You either have some or you don't.  Attitude is all work but the payoff is pure gold.  I am a naturally pessimistic, sarcastic, naysaying curmudgeon.  I know this so I work on keeping those urges in the background and it wold seem that I am getting better at doing that.  Old dogs can learn.

So, I hope we all can enjoy a measure of good luck, good food and good company as we move into this best part of life.  Watch your step.   Stay in touch.  Laugh a lot.  Why not?

Jerry Henderson