I’m from the old school. Wait – don’t touch that dial. Oops! See what I mean? I am sitting here and suddenly I had this yearning to hear your voice on the phone. OK, not really. But I do miss talking to friends. You say, about what? Well, there was a time when that never was a problem.

Today the spontaneous telephone chat, more often than not, goes like this: Hello. Hi, how are you? I am fine. So – what do you want? Well, nothing actually – just to talk. About what? Wait – since when did I need to submit an agenda before we could have a friendly conversation? You mean, you don’t have some specific reason for calling? No. I don’t have one of those. I just wanted to hear your voice and see how you are and perhaps you might have some curiosity about me and we could have a kind of sharing thing, if you know what I mean. And then there is this uncomfortably long silence.

Where, in our social maturation, did we loose our appreciation for a casual, random, unrehearsed, meandering and often surprising conversation, the chief characteristic of which is discovery?

Someone says, well, there is FaceBook. (28.05 – down 0.76 so far today) After I shockingly catch my breath, I reply: Are you listening? I am talking about talking, as with our vocal cords. I’d say about 10% of what’s on FaceBook is enjoyable and actually worth while, and the rest is pure JUNK or SPAM. I do enjoy the contact I have with you there, but it does not replace real conversation.

No! I do not want my phone to ring right now with you wanting to chat. Well, OK, if you want to call I’d love to hear from you. But give me time to finish this.

I have decided that along with my arthritis and persistent belly fat, my attitude toward communication is a piece of aging that is simply unavoidable. I am of the old school. I never thought I’d admit that but the time has come. It’s enough to say that I grew up in an atmosphere of conversation. People didn’t seem to be afraid of it. Anymore, there just doesn’t seem to be time for it. The way we have defined our lives leaves little doubt of that. There is a time for everything. Make an appointment.

It’s enough to say that I lament the passing of the art of conversation for conversation’s sake, and the failure to make time for it. Imagine what we might discover?

But perhaps we’ll meet in the beer aisle at Shaw’s. Maybe in one of those tall pathways at Bow Street Market. It could be the library or a doctor’s office. Don’t worry – I won’t ask why you are there. I know there won’t be that much time, but maybe we could possibly get past “Hello”. You know – just to see how it feels. Barring one of these happy events, you can call me between 8 and 8:15 PM tonight. I’ll need to be done by 8:30, however. There is this thing on TV.

Breaktime for farmer Jerry. Breaktime promotes healthy plants in the garden. Breaktime also extends the life span of farmer Jerry.

A happy farmer makes for a happy garden.

See farmer Jerry being happy.

Jerry H – iPhone

I follow this guy on Twitter. He is always saying something about this unbelievable bar or restaurant or some other “peak” experience he is having as a start-up entrepreneur, innovator and computer programer. He is feeling his obvious success and expressing his joy and enthusiasm in sophomoric simplicity and transparency. I rather enjoy his reports.

Now and then he shares some tidbit that is actual information in which I am interested and for that reason I don’t “un-follow” him. But here is the thing: He is always touting some top of the line venue or city as though he were stringing for the New Yorker of some other life style periodical.

He says things like, it’s a perfect day in this drop dead bar on the North Beach in San Francisco. Like it breaks my heart that I can’t be there with him. Know what I mean? Then, he says, it’s a perfect day in New York! My oh my God. This guy can be on one coast and then the other and I am stuck in the Maine countryside. By the way, it was a perfect day here too.

You never see where some person of interest is thrilled and excited to be in Windham, Maine. Or perhaps enjoying a thrill a minute weekend at this swanky bar in Edgecomb, Maine. Or Poteet, Texas for that matter. Yes there’s a Poteet, but I am not that certain, now that I think of it, about a swanky bar in Edgecomb.

There are some glamorous spots around the country and to be there and perhaps to be seen there can be considered the pinnacle of social achievement. But who cares? Open your laptop or break out your iPhone and go online with the event so that all those poor souls who are stuck in Caratunk, Maine or Silsbee, Texas or Saugus, MA can have a chance to feel sorry for themselves since they are not sitting on the dock of the bay with a martini in hand while the sun sets in the Pacific.

Now here’s the point: ( I knew you were wondering about the point ) there are some places, NYC being the most celebrated one, that have absolutely too much power to mold one’s appreciation of life. Who gives a Flying Wallenda that you are in NYC or San Francisco sitting on the dock of the bay? OK, I know the answer. Millions are interested. It’s just that I am not. I’ve dined at the Stock Yards in Ft. Worth, Arnaud’s in New Orleans and Cook’s Lobster House on Bailey Island Maine. I’ll take Cook’s any day. Sour grapes? Probably. I’m just not a big city kind of guy. Did I actually say, “Stock Yards?”

I know I am in a tiny minority here, but it’s my tiny minority, and I like it. So I have probably revealed more than I intended but there it is. I am not impressed with glamor, glitz and the goddamned noise that seems to go along with it. Then it came to me. it’s the age thing. I have finally ( not too enamored with that word ) reached the old curmudgeon phase of life. Sorry, but I like it.

We were going to look for plants. It’s that time of year. If one drives west of here one is doomed (smiling) to driving on very secondary roads. In Maine we’re talking 99% of our roads. If we are going to Auburn, Minot, Mechanic Falls you have some of the loveliest of the secondary roadways anywhere. Twisty turny, up and down.

At this particular time of year when the multi hued greens are coming on, it is a special joy. The road doesn’t seem like the familiar road I know. It looks like a different road altogether, I said. Do I turn here or is our turn further on? This is the conversation in the car as we are coming home from a wonderful greenhouse tucked away down a lane and up a hill about half a mile off a Number 1, first class secondary road.

One of my sons was visiting a few years back and we were driving down this very same road and after a long period of silence, he asked, “Dad – are there any straight and level roads in Maine?” Poor boy was born in Texas and has never found the escape hatch. I tried to show the way, but to no avail.

There is a side benefit to driving in the country at this season: Roadside stands are breaking out all over. Don’t drive by too quick. Stop and browse. Take a few things home. But most importantly, look at – take in this lovely and ephemeral season while you can. It’s show is more subtile than the fall demonstration, but none the less beautiful. Oh, and do stay on your side of the road.

  • It was a stupid thing to do: staying awake reading this really good spy thing by Daniel Silva.  When I saw it was 2 AM, I knew I had crossed over the line and would pay for it the next day.  That would be today.  So far so good on 5 hours of sound sleep.  I will be visiting the coffee bar regularly.  Sunshine would be good for a change.
  • If it is still too wet to plow (plant) I understand that there is a golf tournament on this afternoon.  You have to wonder about that whole thing.  A few dozen guys chasing a million dollars.  I used to play once or twice a week back in the ’60’s.  Never was any good.  Spent more time in the “other” fairway than in my own.  But now and then I’d do it right and hit it straight and long.  I think about trying to swing a club again, but with my shoulders and back, it probably would be a 911 situation.
  • I look forward to this moment every day, that early time alone with a cup of darkroast and my laptop.  I scribble about on my blog, write a few emails and the occasional snail mail to the one or two Neanderthals on my list.  My brother, for instance, can’t see using a computer at all.  I tell him how much fun it would be to stay in touch and even look at each other and talk at the same time.  He wonders why we would want to do that.  Come to think of it, so do I.
  • I think it’s called selective observation – but I think it’s getting darker.
  • I might have to dream up some reason to get out and run an errand today.  I do need some printer paper and those small #10 staples I like to use.  Certainly seems logical that I go out for those essential items today.
  • As I think about it, it seems that I am avoiding the hard stuff like really deep cleaning my kitchen or hauling a load of useless garbage to the dump or even stacking wood.  I just hate it when I start thinking reasonably.
  • My ears play tricks on me all the time, but if I didn’t know better, I’d say I just heard thunder.  I think I need more coffee.

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Jerry Henderson

LANGUAGE IS SUCH A TEASER. What one person says and another hears can be so different as to constitute an actual language barrier.

We often use words that are clearly articulated but conjure up various meanings among our listeners. I’m thinking of he word, virgin. CA and I had a wonderful dinner at an Italian place down in Portland, recently, where they bring out a loaf of warm bread, a saucer drizzled with olive oil with a grinding of black pepper in it for dipping. I could get lost in praise for the meal and the service but what grabbed my attention for some reason was the label on this excellent bottle of olive oil: Extra Virgin! Of course, I had seen the word on olive oil bottles for ever, but for some reason it got stuck in my machinery that night.

I got virgin. No problem there. I actually knew one once. But “EXTRA”? I mean, what exactly is extra virgin? Would it be like, really, really virgin?

I confess that every time I hear the word I do think of sexual virginity. You know, what can I say? It’s the burden of our culture and language that gives this to us. We have virgin forests, virgin territory, the Virgin Mary, Virgin Airlines and even virgin naugahyde. It has become a key marketing word to impress upon us, the buying public, the pure, never touched and pristine qualities of whatever we are talking about. I got that part.

The part I don’t get is the EXTRA virgin. I mean, you have virgin or not virgin. Right? Can you have extra non-virgin? Well, lets not go too far down that path. It looks dark and murky down there. I mean I have seen wood lots that have been cut over every 20 to 30 years since anyone can remember. I guess that would be extra non-virgin forests. Non-virgin over and over again. See what I mean? We better move on.

But extra virgin? It must have something to do with being the first pressing of the olives. Nobody really believes there is some little Italian over in Tuscany with a hand press filling millions of bottles with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. But that first pressing, in whatever apparatus, is the cleanest – I am told – after which the purity of the “squeeze” can not be vouched for – they say. Still, what do you call the second run? Almost virgin? Near missed virgin. Like, “I couldda been a contender”, kind of virgin?

I remember a guy who worked in a packing plant telling me once that if people ever saw how their hamburger was made they would all become vegetarians. I suppose if we watched the path of an olive from tree to that little saucer on our table that night, the words “EXTRA virgin” would have no more meaning than “Quality is # 1”, or “Eco Friendly”, or “Operators are standing by”.