I am sitting here now for the best part of an hour reading and messaging and drinking darkroast with a toasted salsa jack cheese sandwich. The light that plays early morning peek-a-boo through the trees in back and then slants through the rear window is changing dramatically. The angle is getting more acute and the changing light makes me feel cooler though it is not. I have on a sweatshirt, just in case. Another way of saying this is that the days are getting shorter.

It’s the hardest part of the year for me. (I’ll say that now and change my mind along about the middle of March when I’d pay money to feel sweat rolling down my back.)

The wood is inside now. It’s enough. My wood guy still owes me two cords and has had some equipment issues and is quite late in delivering it. As long as I can get it into the wood shed before the show flies i’ll be OK. The wood for the stove downstairs lies in the yard waiting to be stacked. There is never nothing to do.

A new gas line has been laid down our road. We were told it was to supply L. L. Bean. I never thought of asking whether they would have brought a line in just for us. Well, we could tap into it and heat with natural gas but probably won’t. The pay out for the cost of installing the service may not be a plus for us. We’ll check it out.

I still love the “ethos” of the wood heat culture. Nothing, I say – nothing compares to backing up to the heat of an arrhythmically ticking wood burning stove, and feeling the heat of it where it counts.

Sometimes I sit back and find myself just looking at my desk and it’s environment. Well, it is an environment. I think it even has it’s own weather system.

It is the dominant feature of my room. A huge wooden teacher’s desk that spent most of its life as a work space for some professor at Tulane University. I like to think he or she was a Nobel Laureate – I am not even sure Tulane has one – or at least a popular teacher revered by students and envied by his or her peers.

It has a three inch hole in the so-called modesty panel. It looks like it could have been put there by a disgruntled student whose work was unjustly judged to be found wanting. The hole faces the wall so it is not an issue.

I both love and hate this wooden behemoth. I like wooden stuff, but the drawers are difficult to open and close. However, the desk, in all its nooks and crannies, holds a ton of my stuff. And I have it stuffed. It’s huge. It’s top is a wonderful place to keep things.

One of my favorite things to do, once every three or four years, is to actually clean it off leaving only my computer, keyboard, mouse and writing pad. At heart I am a minimalist. In practice, I am a certified pack-rat – slob. I love clean and uncluttered. I practice what I lovingly call functional clutter. I can shut my eyes and put my hand on anything I want. The minute I file everything away and get rid of all the garbage, I am lost and disoriented.

I am looking now at a stack to my left of items that need attending to immediately. It is six weeks old at least. Beyond that is my blood pressure machine and file box that has in it items that are several years old. I just noticed a set of earbuds which I can not use because of my hearing aids but which are nevertheless still on my desktop. I’ve been wearing these hearing aids for three years. There is a tape dispenser, two iPods, a USB interface for my microphone, a book of stamps and a remote for my computer. I have a Steen’s Pure Cane Syrup can full of pens and pencils I never touch. There are two external hard drives to which I back up my data, my microphone on a swing arm stand, (This looks real professional), a 20′ headphone extension, a box of Kleenex some packing tape and a cup of coffee.

Behind the computer – well you don’t even want to look.

I fully intend to do something about all this mess. I’ll do it during the first really good snow storm this winter. Drink a pot of darkroast and listen to some of that soft 70’s rock and roll. When I’m done I’ll have five minutes of pure minimalism.

Sixty years! This is one reunion I wish I could make. The 2000 miles that stand between me and Baton Rouge are not an insignificant deterrent to travel, but those miles are not the only barrier. It is simply not possible. I am, however, deeply moved by the occasion. It is enough to say, “I wish I could be with you this time”.

Thanks to Nelson, who keeps us all informed, I am reminded regularly of what was arguably the happiest time of my life. I have known, through the years, many for whom childhood and adolescence were pure hell seasoned with fear and pain. I often think of how lucky I was during those years of relative simplicity, safety and permission.

Oh, there were issues to deal with. My mouth for one. Runaway hormones for another. And the occasional bout of raw stupidity. How I got through all that alive and well has always appeared to be nothing less than miraculous. I thank you all for your support. Hmm, come to think of it, those are the same three things that have kept me in hot water all my life. Thankfully, the hormone part no longer poses a great threat.

I don’t remember being that social. And please forgive me, I don’t remember everyone. I should say, everyone’s face. My old annuals, which would help, have long fallen through the cracks of 27 moves and two divorces. I knew a lot of people but had only a few close friends. That principle holds even today. My guess that is pretty much true for most of us, specially as we grow older.

And . . . growing older is our gift. My primary physician looks at me with that no nonsense look of hers and tells me how lucky I am. We all are. And for that we are thankful.

Thank you all once more for your support during those critical years.

As you gather, love each other, say what’s so and live the day well.

Jerry Henderson

Me – Un-retouched

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The Cumberland County Fair Ground is home to a large annual craft fair, sometimes called the Christmas Craft Fair, and we – CA, Ruth and I were there yesterday. The weather was perfectly situated in the 70’s with the occasional cotton ball cloud for accent in an otherwise azure sky.

I’m really not that big on Christmas. If some sleepy calendar editor left it out one year, I wouldn’t be too upset, if at all. However, around here it is considered by everyone else to be the premier event of the year, and it behooves anyone with a glimmer of hope for approval to honor the holiday gift-giving traditions and to keep cynicism down to a level that is easily managed with a dollop of high test gin toward the end of the day.

Ruth will be 92 in December and can negotiate the house with her walker but is bound to a wheel chair or her electric scooter when we take her out. The surface at the fair ground is mixed, so the scooter was out and the wheel chair, not being an all terrain vehicle, was even limited to some degree. It was rough going in some places but being the loyal mule that I am, we covered most of them.

Here’s the deal: you might walk right by some stuffed animal, umbrella, or bird house booth but one must occupy every jewelry booth completely. I lost count of them but I believe something like 400 sounds right. It’s truly amazing what one can find at these events even though you are not looking for anything. Speaking for myself, that is.

There were hundreds of people out looking for some hidden treasure. Not a few of them were testing the seams of their pants. People are getting larger and larger. It is becoming a darkly ominous norm. (Have you noticed the wide body wheelchairs at medical facilities lately?) The food fare at these events does not even get close to addressing this issue. It is more like fun food – the more you eat the more fun you have – and stretch pants are the best pants.

A fried dough stand loomed up ahead and Ruth asked about it. It had been a hundred years since I had had some, in Texas I think, where people eat anything, and I suggested that we split one of the dinner plate sized pieces with some cinnamon sugar on it. We ate in the shade of a big tent set up for just that purpose and we all agreed that it was not a memorable lunch. It’s the kind of activity one does at these events knowing that it would likely not happen in real life again for a long time.

We moved on to the next jewelry booth.

Of course I found a few things to buy. So what? After all I did eat some fried dough.

Here it is 7:45 and I have my second cup sitting by the keyboard and am on-line after an hour of trying to figure out just what the issue was. First I tried TV and that worked, so the cable was functioning. Don’t always mean the internet is though.

So next I restarted all the airports, modems hearing aids and refrigerators in the house and still no internet. I was beginning to wonder if a call to Time Warner (the root canal of help lines) was in order. I am sitting here sipping that mysteriously magical brew when I mentally went through the list of possible user fixes available to me and the only thing I did not do was to restart the computer. I felt, well, if I am going to restart I might as well logoff and let it get cold. It’s been years since such an event.

My usual modus operandi is to let the machine just go to sleep between sessions so that a key tap brings things to life instantly. CA, my partner in life shuts her iMac down completely each time she uses it even it if is multiple time a day. It’s her way.

Anyway, here I go. I logged off completely and went for a refill. When the moment came to turn the computer on I felt a little anxious – if this doesn’t work then I am screwed for another hour or two, hoping that there is indeed an up-the-line problem with the server and that as soon as coffee brake is over in Consumption Gulch, Joe or Jane the technician will fix the issue and we will all be happy again, not actually doing much on the internet, but enjoying the “feeling” of being connected.

I sat down with my fresh cup and pushed the magic button on the back of my iMac and in moments I found all was once again part of this global community to which I have become so addicted. Am I ashamed? No. Do I spend too much time here? Yes. Will my day go more smoothy now? Definitely.

Wait a minute – that’s only the beginning. Two guys are coming over in moments to measure for new windows upstairs. Later R.O. the plumber is coming to install new bath fixtures upstairs and tinker with my leaking water closet. Yes I keep a little water in a closet. Then I drive down to Portland to my eye doctor for a wrap-up visit after some surgery I had about six weeks ago. I just thought: I won’t be but a block or two from the Apple Store. Hmm. Well, it’s just a thought.

When, I might ask, with all this going on, does a guy have time to cut a little grass?

Well, I’ll be damned. I never thought I’d ever hear your voice again. Passing through, you say? To where? Vacation? Well, lots of folk do that here. We are Vacation Land, after all.

Where are you calling from? LL Beans? You could drop by here for a while – let me fix you a bite to eat, and you could spend the night, as well. We’re only five miles out of town from where you are now.

Well, no, I understand. I am kind of that way myself. I have a destination in mind I want to keep on the trail. I could make it worth your while, however. Good food and excellent booze. 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 – 50 years, how did you find my phone number? 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, 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 geographically. 2000 miles and 50 years makes intimacy just a tad difficult.

Yes. 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 past15 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 are you all headed? Canada? Love it up there. Well, I wish you had the time to come by too. 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 ways for a 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 after CA retires. Road trip, you know. I’d rather like that. Listen, I am so glad you called. Drive carefully and have a good time.

You too. . .

Bye now.

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My lakeside bedroom – bunkhouse

For me there is no more meaningful place than among friends.  We are born to family, but we choose and are chosen in friendship.  Family is there in good times and bad without much attention but friendship demands attention.


We all know what happens to friendship from other times and places.  Many times they occupy places in memory but do not thrive in the present.  The distance in space and time is too great for adequate maintenance.  We are more because of them but vitality is reserved for those relationships into which we can invest present tense love and care.

This weekend I was privileged to spend time among present friends and celebrate the 25th wedding anniversary of two of them.  It was good.  A festive occasion with great food, drink and laughter.  We were blessed with the best weather and the setting was country beautiful.

There must be something else to celebrate again soon.  If not, we’ll just make it up.

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I thought it looked like prayer
flags.  Maybe they were.