Saturday, October 25, 2014


I saw a reflection of myself as I walked up to this huge glass door the other day and I was shockingly reminded of just how bent over I had become in these latter years.  The combination of cervical fusions and an arthritic backbone have become formidable obstacles to standing ramrod straight - a characteristic for which I was regionally famous in my younger days.

I can still remember standing straight in stocking feet as my mother penciled in a mark on the door jamb in the kitchen of my escalating growth record for "all time", as it was commonly noted.  Well, that door jamb is long gone as is the house in which it stood.  For that matter so is the neighborhood, which is only a fixture of memory for those few of us who remain.

I always wanted to be at least six feet tall.  Alas, such a dream was never realized.  As we all know, close only counts in horseshoes.  I got close, but I'm no horseshoe.  Five eleven and some in my prime.  You got it - even as an adult, I continued the measuring game just in case I made the jump to that hoped for goal.  I'd measure in the morning, when, as I was told you are tallest.  Standing up and walking around all day tended to compress the joints in the back enough to shorten the total length of the body.  At least that was what those who should know were saying.

One day when I was into my middle years, several colleagues and I were sitting around in my office and, though I can not recall the reason, we decided to measure our hight.  First we all had to guess our own hight.  I, of course proudly stated my stature at five feet, eleven and a half.  As this was late afternoon, I confidently mentioned that if this were early in the day I am sure I would be a full six feet.  After the laughter subsided, the measuring began.  Everybody was spot on in their guesses except for me.  I came in, after decades of daily running and standing around, at five ten and a half.  A whole inch!!!  In a rare moment of candor, I have to admit that that number was probably right all along.  Sloppy measuring had been boosting my ego all these years, and I'm not sorry.  My ego, fragile as it is, has always needed all the help it could get.  Please, those of you who may have another opinion about my ego, just keep the hell out of this - OK?

Then there was the glass door reflection episode.  That's when I realized that ego, though an important part of one's personality, is not a substitute for reality.  In reality I can not stand ramrod straight, and that's just one of a number of things I can't do very well, if at all, any more.  So I suppose that makes me at best a reluctant realist.

So, nowadays, my actual measurement is a paltry five feet ten.  It sounds so mundane, so common, so uninspiring. There must be tens of millions of others - men and women - that tall and more.  Then I discovered after some casual research, that my little five feet ten translated into 1.04477612 Smoots.  Rather technical sounding, don't you think?  (It's the actual hight of a short MIT freshman who was laid end to end to measure the length of the Harvard Bridge)  Now that's a number I can be proud of.  Well, maybe proud is not the best word for it, but it's definitely different.  I just like the sound of it.  Just thinking of it, I seem to be standing a bit taller.  Hello EGO, come to Papa?

I'm Jerry Henderson

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


In the various gardens around the house there are a few phlox still sporting a blossom or two and the horizontalis is full of red berries.  Our ancient burning bushes are starting their fiery transformation in to themselves, and chipmunks can be seen scampering about in their branches stuffing their cheeks with those little berries that are now ripe for the taking, but much of everything else has "gone by" as it is said.  Even the grass has stopped its steroidal growth pattern for the year - I'd hate to be wrong about that.

The big thing is the leaves that are drifting down steadily so that in some places the ground is covered.  I'll make a final pass with the bagged lawnmower and suck them up to be piled up for mulch.  Anyway, that's what I say about that.  I don't recall ever using that for actual mulch but this time I think I will look at the possibility of using it to insulate the garlic after the ground freezes.

GARLIC!  We purchased some "new blood" this year at the Common Ground Fair.  Probably got a bit carried away for it was enough for two beds of it - at least one bed farther than we usually plant.  If we have basil like we did this year and the garlic makes like it did this year I will be forced to lay in a supply of pesto for those moments when nothing else will do - which moments seem to occur more frequently in the frozen parts of the year, which, by all accounts is supposed to come early, bring lots of luggage and stay long.  

Now, this has nothing to do with anything, but have you ever noticed how willpower and judgement seem to weaken during the colder months? I know I find myself saying things like: It's so damned cold, I think another glass of wine would make it all better.  After all, I may not make it through until spring.  Or it might sound like this: No use in that piece of chocolate just laying there, or, even more deadly - what the hell it's macaroni and cheese tonight and regardless of what the food police say, I'm adding Spam to it, by God.  I'm sure there is a graduate student in some second tier university drawing up a proposal at this very moment to study this phenomenon.

Now back to planting garlic.  So I've got the beds prepared with just a touch of 5-10-5 and some compost, with a light sprinkling of powdered seaweed mulch freshly worked in.  I have a little 5/8" wooden dowel sharpened at one end to make holes into which I drop the cloves.  I usually plant 4 to 5 inches apart and about 3ish inches down.  Anyway that plan has worked for years.

We purchased three different varieties and I thought the names of these different varieties was noted on the tags but it isn't there.  How about that?  Well, I couldn't tell you the name of last year's variety either - so there!

I sit on the edge of the planting box out in the garden and break apart the bulbs piling the cloves to the side.  A steady breeze is blowing the tissue like material that holds everything together as I peal it off.  Little flakes of it covers the ground and me as well.  It is quiet except for a pileated woodpecker off in the back woods yelling about something.  Even so, it seems so peaceful.  This close work in the garden is a part of gardening that I love dearly.  Well, harvesting, of course, but for a fall activity, there is nothing to compare to planting garlic.  I guess you could say the activity pretty well defines the concept of hope.  Maine winters are nothing to laugh about yet we believe in the life force of garlic to survive and bring joy to our hearts come next summer.

Some of the cloves are quite large while most are of average size.  I think, as I push them into their homes for the winter - I can just taste the goodness your children will add to my pasta sauce, or the scampi I love to make - and eat!  And also - and this is the secret of growing good garlic - the first thing I do when I harvest garlic is to brake open a bulb and peal a big clove, pop it into my mouth and eat it right there in the garden, dirty fingers and all.  My eyes almost tear up just thinking of it.  I don't quite know how it's connected, it's one of those "spiritual" things, but that little ritual at harvest time is big Mojo for next year's crop.  Don't question it.  Just do it and you will see.  Tell 'em I said so.

GB Henderson

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


I've been thinking. I know it's risky, but sometimes it just happens without me even thinking about it. Whoops! See what I mean?

OK, here's the deal: I have this stable of MDs (medical doctors), a few of whom I see on a more or less regular basis throughout the year. There is, of course, my primary physician, who I see for a regular examination once a year and who I call for those unscheduled acute experiences that go "bump" in the night from time to time, for which she will schedule me to come in or refer me to another doctor that specializes in that particular "Bump".

There are specialists I see regularly who monitor those standard, reoccurring bumps that have become routine in my life.

For instance, there is a dermatologist, an attractive woman for whom I must undress - "You can leave your underpants on." I'm always certain to wear my best Jocky snug fitting boxers with breathable panels. There are so many "points of interest" on my skin - the largest organ of the body - that she has resorted to calling them "barnacles" many of which can be burned, frozen, scraped or cut off, while others we just leave alone to become a fixtures of my persona.

Then there is a cardiologist who keeps a watch on my circulatory system with special attention to the anterior coronary artery which contains a little sludge. He is quite happy that I have lost a bunch of weight. I figure as long as he is happy I will be happy.

Everybody should know a gastroenterologist. I always have something for them to do when they are looking into my gut. I know this pleases them for they always ask me back. This time I go back in only a year. Interesting stuff in there she said. Can't wait to see if there is more, she said. Well, I'm glad someone is having fun.

While I am on the "nether" regions, I might as well mention my urologist. He's he one that is concerned with how many times I go to the bathroom and the size of my prostate. Just the other day he scraped out a polyp in my bladder. I'll see him more frequently now for a while. He's the nicest guy. I look forward to seeing him, but just thinking about what has to happen for him to "see" what's going on in my bladder gives me pause. Oh well, moving on, now.

I see an ophthalmologist twice or more times a year to monitor glaucoma and other transient issues with my eyes. I have been seeing an ophthalmologist longer than any other specialist. I suppose that's because when there is a vision problem you "see" it immediately. When I think about it, the procedures I have had done to my eyes are mind boggling. There was a time in the past, when, by now, I would just be blind. We're on a first name basis.

I've been seeing a pulmonologist for over a year now and I am still having the issue that brought me to him - a near constant wad of crud in my bronchial area and larynx. Finally he directed me to see an otolaryngologist. Commonly called an ENT (ear, nose & throat) specialist to see why I am loosing my voice. Well, whew!. It's not cancer and it's something we can deal with over time. That "dealing" has to do with a speech therapist. I thought I "spoke" rather well. So what do I know? I can see it now - yodel in the morning, yodel at noon, yodel in the afternoon. Not if I have anything to do with it.

Mr. Spock's greeting, "Live long and prosper", is nice, but long life without health is no fun. We all love a long life, but sadly there are some trade-offs. I think luck has a lot to do with it. What luck can't deal with a team of great physicians is a handy thing to have.

Well, I gotta go. I'm getting my flu shot today and having my cholesterol checked as well. Nothing by mouth now for twelve hours. After the shot and blood draw, I'll be at Panera just around the corner from my Primary's office. They have great carbohydrates and strong caffeine. Just what the doctor ordered!