I just read a piece by Verlyn Klinkenborg in the Times today. I love his stuff. He is arguably one of the best writers out there.

His piece on digital books is spot on and should be read by anyone who reads and specially anyone who ever uses a lending library. E-book reading won’t come of age until you can “borrow” a book for say a month, after which it would be removed from your device. For a small fee per year you could belong to a library and purchase or borrow a book. That would be the grown up attitude about it.

What’s going on in the digital industry now is purely commercial. You may be able to get on the Internet for free, but after that you pay for everything. A lending library for digital books makes sense. We are being told how wonderful it would be to have hundreds of books on our Kindles or iPads. That idea my friends is pure bullshit. That’s a Pitchman’s idea that has no purpose other than to get your money.

What is needed in the digital world is the old fashioned idea of customer service. What millions of us do is borrow books from the local library. I would like to be able to continue that practice online. Just do it Steve. Just do it Jeff.

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It is a balmy 60? here with the occasional drop falling randomly but nothing you could call real rain. Our plan is to try to set out tomato plants today and wet soil would be a problem.

I just had a sweet roll and am on the second cup of dark roast and am still in the mood for more to munch on. So what? I’ll just think about it and try to pass on the temptation. I haven’t read all the stuff in the paper yet and may not get into the more agonizing parts today. I feel like feeling good.

I haven’t decided wether to buy the Times when it begins to sell access again or look elsewhere for my news source. It used to be $90 a year I think. I pay that for my Mobil Me account that synchronizes everything between my iPod, iPhone, laptop and desktop. It also stores backups and other media that can be shared. It may be come free soon I am told. It is really fun to enter a date on the phone and it turns up on the desktop in 15 minutes. I love that part. Coffee is specially good this morning. I slept well. Just realized I still have my hat on from when I went out to get the paper which had not arrived at 7 AM!! Laziest paper guy I ever had. It’s for Ruth, and were it not for that I’d give it up and tell them why. Get the damned thing here in time for coffee or stuff it. I wouldn’t want the job but if you do it do it right. It’s so easy to criticize. My best thing, It would be really bad if not for the fact that I am usually right on nearly everything. It’s a burden to bear the responsibility gracefully.

I am in the mood to putter today. I don’t rule out the odd nap or two either. If this piece is any indication, there isn’t much purpose identified for the day yet. Why am I not worried about that? The umbrella is up on the deck and sitting there and quietly remembering, on this Memorial Day Eve, those who have gone on to wherever or whatever, and letting their lives meld into mine again, sounds like a good plan.

Be well and stay tuned.

So cried the headlines of the Portland Press Herald this morning. At our little enclave in the woods two thermometers registered 95 in the late afternoon. Folks it ain’t even June yet! This morning I walked out to the road to get the paper and was in my usual warm weather attire: minimum everything, and I thought what a great morning to have coffee on the deck. So I hoisted the umbrella and did just that. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

It’s not unusual to have some warm weather in May. And last year I burned wood into the middle of June. Thing is, you just can’t depend on summer until the 4th of July. Even then…. I remember one year we went down to Bar Harbor for the 4th. I had on shorts, of course – it’s the law. I did have a sweater or sweat shirt with me, I don’t actually remember which, but my legs, which hardly ever get cold were freezing. I went into one of those Maineish clothing shops and got a pair of wool knee socks that saved the day for me.

The last thing on my mind in that heat yesterday was winter until Gregg, the farmer down the road who brings my firewood, came over with the first load of beautiful maple cut just right for my little Waterford 100. He usually calls but he said he had it ready and because he knew where to drop it he might as well bring a load on over. As we chatted by his huge International Harvester (yes you read correctly) dumper and swatted black flies, we spoke of cold weather, dwindling wood supplies, double paned windows, alpaca babies (he raises them) and the endless list of stuff one has to do when you have a house an acre or two. I’ll add – put wood in woodshed – to my list. Hmm. Just had a little twitch in my back.

It’s 9:00 and it’s already 79?. I constantly marvel at the extent weather invades Maine conversation. I mean, I get kind of bored talking about tall pines, rocky coast, azure ocean and babbling brooks. The weather never disappoints. It will surprise you, thrill you, challenge you, threaten to kill you, seduce you, make you wonder why the hell you live here and in quieter moments it makes you realize it is one of the major reasons you do live here. We’ve had one earthquake in the 30 years I have lived here. It was of a vestigial nature. I think one or two hurricanes have breezed through. Tornados are rare. There is some flooding next to rivers and streams. We do have our ice storms and storm tides. But all in all, I’ll take it over Lubbock or New Orleans or some Ohio flood plain subdivision.

You can’t tell it but I have knocked on wood between every five words. Nature, dear reader, is not our friend. IT is not our mother in that sense that IT watches over us caringly. IT is a coexisting partner on this planet who couldn’t give a fly’s butt about you or me. There are no guarantees. Meanwhile, I am going to take my final cup beneath the umbrella on the deck and contemplate my next move on this 26th of May. I’m not sayin’, but that move may be a new pot of dark roast.

Throughout my life, I never thought much about what retirement would look like ?It’s not that I didn’t imagine that my working life would taper off and end one day, but rather specifically, what form that would take just never presented itself clearly to me. ?My life has been so peripatetic and unsettled that the idea of a permanent rocking chair on a permanent porch just didn’t fit into my consciousness. ?In light of that, here are a few thoughts on the state of things right now.

My actual retirement is a year old and I find that I still work on adjusting to it or rather I am still working on adjusting the status of retirement to my life. ?This subtile distinction came to me soon upon entering into retirement. ?It occurred to me that all the discussion about retirement was aimed at me fitting into that situation. ?You’re retired now – this is your new job and you have to go out and do it, ?and this is what that means: Travel, teach, (what for goodness sake?) volunteer, take classes create a hobby – and the list continues. ?I felt no desire to get into any of these activities. They all sound like they could be fun and even fulfilling for the right person at the right time, but none of them held a spark of interest for me – ?now.
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All those suggestions required that I go out into the world and relate to people. Now, I’ve spent my life relating to people doing whatever I did for work. ?For the present, at least, I prefer a more private experience, not excluding others, but not jumping into some public situation dealing with people. This might change but now I have some personal work to do. ?

The first thing I wanted to do was master the skill of un-work. Not that anything I do every day is not technically work, it is. ?Un-work to me is working for me and not for anyone else accomplishing their goals. ?By actual count, there are 17,324 jobs waiting their turn right here on this little farmette. ?There is no unemployment here. There is a little supervision but I circumvent that most of the time.

The second thing I wanted to do was to give myself permission to take the time to meditate, to think, read and write. ?This is my real job. ?It’s the job that if it goes undone I feel bad. ?I understand that nobody cares about that but me, but that is hot the point of it. It’s what I want to do. ?That’s all the justification I need. ?I could live with never cutting another blade of grass but I’d be in trouble if I could not think, read and write.

The third thing I wanted to do was make a real effort at physical fitness. ?In my observations of the aging process, physical fitness is the one thing that is easiest to let go. ?Hey I am retired, I don’t have to get physical anymore. ?Hand me down my walking cane and rocking chair! ?Well, it might come to that but as long as I can move I am going to move. ?

So there it is: Work, Mind and Body. ?Where’s the soul you ask? My friend, if the soul can’t be found in Work, Mind and Body I’ll just have to pass on it this go round. ??

Retirement isn’t perfect yet. ?I won’t be, I suspect. ?But so far so good. ?I guess that is really as good as it gets. This is the part where every moment counts because they are my moments. ?But it is important to remember – that does not mean to hurry up. Actually – – there is soul in that.

Memories are the stuff of aging. The longer one lives the more memories one collects. This is pretty straight forward stuff. After a while it seems – I am told so by the really old – that memory is all that’s left. I just hate that part. But it’s now my part – damit. There are two features of remembering that are most fascinating. One is the tendency to embellish what one actually remembers. I always say, “They are my memories and I’ll tell them the way I want to tell them!”

For instance, I remember my actions as a young parent being unhysterical, level headed and wise. My children seem to have a different “take” on matters. When these discussions come up I seem to always come off as, at best, addled and at the worst, just plain stupid. I chalk that up to the fact that they were just kids and I was a mature adult. What this tells me is that the memories of your children are not to be completely trusted.

The second feature of memory that is so fascinating is – well, it’s called fiction. If what you are talking about is far enough in the past then you can make it up to suit yourself. Whose going to know? This is a double sided feature of memory. The other side is the art and facility of just ignoring what is actually known about history and substituting your own special version. This takes some courage but then it’s more fun than prime time.

Isn’t it funny though, the way clarity of recollection is positively related to the distance the memory is in the past? Or, in other words, the older the memory the clearer it is.

There was one other thing I wanted to say about this and I made a note somewhere so I wouldn’t forget it and now I can’t remember where I put it. No, I am not making that up. I really did have a note.

Oh well, if I live long enough, HA, I’ll remember.

Somebody is bound to get it right sooner or later and Times Square – or some other iconographic location in America will be senselessly obliterated – in the name of God of course. It would be tragic indeed for such a horrific event to go down in the name of senseless whim, insanity, misguided ideology or some stupid notion that they just hate our freedom. Funny, in times of war or pseudo war, God is always on “our” side.

The bar has already been set quite high at the World Trade Center. All those tragically murdered people are now memorialized in a brand new federal agency that has as it’s main thrust our national security. We all hope it works.

To be an American these days means a little more than amber waves of grain. It means knowing that there are really people out there who would gladly murder YOU for no other reason than that you are an American. It means all you have to do is wake up to be on somebody’s hit list.

Now, if it were my task to compose that hit list . . . . Well I could fix congress with the stroke of a pen.

It’s enough to wake you up in the middle of the night. I did hear a noise the other night, and it did wake me. I am essentially deaf without these instruments stuck in my ears. But there was something that was clearly audible – enough so that it woke me. You can imagine that it got my attention. No! I did not even think of some Jihadist set out to blow me up, but I did think that there may be some crazed Red Neck looking for a thrill. So, here’s what ran through my mind. Should I get up and inventory my supply of home defense hardware? Perhaps polish my piece? Maybe living out here in the country, I should start openly carrying just in case you know. A shoulder holster in bed? Hell, I have trouble with a twisted up tee shirt much less some S.W.A.T. nightie.

Thunderwear-c

Although this is a possibility. I advise not having a round in the chamber for “obvious” reasons.

What I did was to make sure everything was secure and that the arsenal was available. I DON’T LIKE THIS FEELING AT ALL! So, I played a few games of solitaire on my iPod and then went to sleep. God Bless America!

That, of course, is the difference between then and now. We all know it’s a different world. The rules have changed. The principles have not! Living by the sword still means dying by the sword. Yet we seem to be Hell bent on that life. We like to say “they” are the violent ones yet we spend more of our resources than anyone else does on warfare hardware.

I don’t know what the answer is. I do know that my bullets are old and probably need to be replaced. It’s probably time for some test shots too. You know, just to make sure.

Be well and sleep well.