I needed to get outside and have some distraction.  Since i was a kid, going on photo field trips have been part of my life.  So it comes up for me to do just that on such a beautiful very late November Sunday afternoon.  No snow.  Mild temperatures.  Only weeks ago I took pictures in many of the same places then clothed in a wash of color.  This “between” season has less color but has it’s own kind of beauty and feeling without which the “Maine experience” would be incomplete. I hope you enjoy these pictures as I enjoyed being out and seeing them.


Where have all he petunias gone?  Long time gone now.  Nothing in the planter with roots.  Horizontalis berries and greenery clipped from around the house pretend at being winter annuals, taking over where true annuals held forth all summer long.  Tic toc, the page turns and soon the snow will fly.

Goldfinches know and have changed from their showy summer beach wear to more somber and sensible attire.  On some dark days they seem to be wearing “invisibility cloaks”, blending, as they do, into the grayness with which November has painted our world.

It isn’t much but the berries do seem to cheer things up somewhat.  I know I have to smile when I see them.


Late Fall Rail P:lanter 



Tabletop Planter



Goldfinches all snug in their winter gear

I’ve been feeling a little “off” lately. Not sick or depressed or anything like that, but just kind of unsettled or off center, if you know what I mean. It’s deeper than politics, emotional turmoil, financial instability or the onset of the dreaded Christmas season. I am pretty sure that what I need is a bowl of chili.

I spent a long time living in Texas and being immersed in the distinctive culinary culture of that grand state. I came away from those years with a near spiritual appreciation for Mexican food, barbecue and chili. Now, feeling the bone chilling cold of Maine for the past 30 winters I have come to rely on the mystically restorative powers of a bowl of my own Border Chili at the onset of winter weather as a prophylactic against the ravages of the coming holiday season. Somewhere during the month of November after the light has faded and deer season is in full swing and the scent of snow is in the evening air – like that fabled organist seeking the lost chord – I begin to feel a void, a need, an incompleteness that the usual remedies: a hot soakie bath, an hour of yoga-like stretching or a homemade martini do not seem to fix. It is as close to a spiritual need as it gets these days. Though at first I usually can’t put my finger on what it is, sooner or later it comes to me. I’m always surprised that I didn’t think of it sooner – – – I need a bowl of chili.

The restorative powers of heat have been known and documented since ancient times – heated penetrating oils rubbed into just the right places – hot springs – sweat lodges and laying out on tropical sands beneath the ultimate heat lamp. Alas, all these heat sources are external and do their job well but the soul has it’s seat within and heating up the soul requires another approach. That would be a job for chili.

It goes like this:

2 Lbs of stew meat cut in thumbnail sizes
1 Lb ground meat crumbled by hand into the pot. Leave some lumps.
( There is no end to what can be used in a good bowl of chili. Squirrel, opossum, armadillo, pork – your imagination is the only limiting element here )
4 C chopped onion
1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped fine, fresh garlic
6 to 9 T chili powder. I use Pendery’s Top Hat or Original along with a heaping t cumin,Beef bullion & Water to make a gallon. Any favorite liquid would work, even a little beer.

Amounts can be varied to suit your particular tastes. A chili recipe has a way of becoming one’s own after a few tries.

Salt and Pepper to taste

Cover the meat with the liquid and bring to a boil. Cook until meat is well browned
Add the onions and garlic.
Cook until onions are transparent
Add most of chili powder (all of the cumin)
Simmer on low for an hour.

Check for flavor.

Use more chili powder at the end for finishing if needed. It almost always needs more.

Simmer a while longer.

It is possible to thicken the broth with either flour or masa, a corn flour. i prefer the latter.

Eat it the next day.

Serve as is or over rice or make up your own method of getting it into your insides where it can make the soul whole again.

I have been known to grate a little cheddar on a bowl of this chili. A side dish of sour cream with chives can be used to cool things down, but remember it’s the heat we’re after here.

Supplies for chili making can be found at the following link.


I am indebted to my daughter, Kathy Mishler of Graham TX for the method used in this recipe.

I’m Jerry Henderson

Yesterday, I did something I have never done in my entire long life – I purchased a Slim Jim.

We – CA, Ruth and I were at Target (Ruth’s favorite shopping spot: wide aisles, nice people and bright lights) replenishing Ruth’s weekly supply of TV dinners, which she loves and are easy for her to do herself – which is a major piece of her sense of self sufficiency. She can navigate the whole store in her GoGo scooter and loves that independence as well. The outing drains her but it is essential that she get out as long as she can.

So we are in Target and I am with them in the grocery section when I look up and there at eye level is a brace of Slim Jims. Now, I know about Slim Jims. It’s not like I just discovered them. But I have this flash of inspiration: I should try one. Yes, dear friends, I have never even held one in my hands. They always remind me of the excrement of some exotic woodland creature. OK, it’s the way my mind works – OK?

I have friends of questionable judgement who love them. I see fat butted kids waddling down the sidewalk with a Big Gulp (a gallon sized sweetened drink) in one hand and a Slim Jim in the other. It isn’t hard to connect the dots here. Anyway, I shudder when I see what most kids eat in public.
However, if you go to you see the characters there are all, well, slim. See?

I have this “thing” right here on my desk. I have been checking out the label. I do this all the time. Even if the manufacturer is fudging the truth, and I personally believe they do this all the time, it is rather scary.

“Beef, mechanically separated chicken”(now that conjures up some interesting images) and a bunch of other ingredients, extracts, spices and preservatives. There are fats, saturated and trans. Calories 150 – from fat 120. And 430 mg sodium! What got my attention most of all, however, was the “Best By:” date. Spring next year. What kind of alchemistry is necessary to keep this pseudo food substance safe for consumption on an unrefrigerated, unfrozen shelf for most of a year?

I was all set to worry until I got to the big “US Inspected and Passed – Department of Agriculture” seal. It’s a good thing we have someone in government looking after our snack food industry since it alone accounts for the largest part of the national diet. Thank God for the US Department of Agriculture.
No, I have not yet brought to bare courage to actually try it by mouth yet. It may not happen. I have until next year anyway. I think a more appropriate name for this thing would be Fat Jim. Just buying something called “Slim” would take away some of the danger wouldn’t it? It might even make me slim. Marketers. Bless their black hearts.

Jerry Henderson


Listening to Mike Dowling’s BOTTOMLANDS makes me feel as though i am a real human being alive and well in the real world.

It’s a good feeling.

Go Mike.

While my  dark roast is dripping, I took a walk out to the road to get the morning paper.  Thick frost covering everything is evidence of an overnight low in the deep 20’s.  The air is crisp and clean.  Sage, juniper and tall grasses sparkle and bow with a  covering of this airborne ice.

Deck boards are covered with a sparkling and treacherous coating.  It’s time to be wary of where and how you step.  

The slanting light gives texture to everything.  Barely visible wisps of smoke point the way to warmth and waiting coffee.

No doubt about it – officially still a month away, winter’s ambassadors have already arrived.  



I was moving books around looking for something and this one book showed up that I had not seen for years. It is entitled: STAYING FOUND. It’s a book on orienteering. With a compass and map there is a method – no longer being taught much since the advent of the GPS (Global Positioning System) – whereby one can navigate the remotest wilderness and get where he or she wants to get without getting lost. It’s a learned skill that is quite involved and satisfying. You could say that a period of instruction and practice were necessary for successful orienteering, whereas any kid with a Game Boy could make a GPS sing in moments.

For some strange reason, this lifted a rock in my mind to reveal a bunch of wormy thoughts lying there waiting for light and air, mostly having to do with the margin between technologies when there is an overlap. Where both the old and the new seem to have some usefulness but usually not at the same time and place.

There are all kinds of illustrations of this in fiction and fact. I am particularly fond of that scene in one of those Indiana Jones films where Jones, disguised as Harrison Ford. is confronted with a saber wielding would-be assassin in the street. This guy goes into some pre-assination saber brandishing ritual intended, it seemed, to terrify the be-jesus out of an intended victim. Jones, with a boyish look of disgusted puzzlement, reminiscent of a blossoming Hans Solo, whips out his foot long pistol and blows this guy right into paradise. Sabers and arms akimbo. An obvious overlap of technologies.

The other night in one of my waking dream periods where I was seeking sleep and instead was conjuring up page after page of ridiculous reconstructed history for my entertainment, I began to wonder what would have been the result of some future time traveler getting bumped by a Civil War horse and dropping his Uzi and ten clips of ammo on one or the other camps and what that soldier might have done ( had he been able to figure out how to work the thing ) to change the course of history. One man using such technology against thousands with muzzle loaders and sabers? Someone would have picked him off sooner or later but he could have cut down a few in what would have been an historically astonishing moment at Bull Run or Manassas. Pistol vs. saber. For the time it took to empty those 10 clips the fight would seem unfair, then it would all revert to it’s normal bloody equality.
Thankfully I soon dropped off into soundless sleep with not a shot to be heard.

Well it’s hunting season here in Maine. I’ll wager there is not a single spear chunking hunter in the woods. Not even a saber. It’s a guns and ammo sport. Quick, efficient and little chance of getting hurt in some close combat situation with Bambi. Of course armed and dangerous co-hunters are another problem at times. It’s a high risk world out there. But whoever they are they will all find their cars with the aid of the ubiquitous GPS device.

It’s a new day. Distant family were visiting nearby a while ago from Connecticut and were coming by for dinner. They had never been here. On the phone we started to give then turn by turn directions envisioning a road map spread out and marker pen at the ready being still locked into a map and compass mentality, when he interrupted and said all he needed was an address. His GPS would find us. It did, of course. The pistol and the saber all over again.

Now I have to go to the market. I’ll key in the address on my iPhone just in case I forget. I can follow my progress on Google Maps.

Wait a minute – do I turn east or west to get there? Where’d I put that compass?

Be well, and stay found.

I’m Jerry Henderson

Here I am in the cockpit of my little VW. Ready to attack the twisting turning roads of rural Maine – hopefully to stay clear of I-95.



Yesterday I was there again seeing my doctor for this persistent cough. She said it was about time we got a new chest X-Ray and I said OK. Well I would have had to wait two hours to get it then and considered that a bit beneath me at the moment and chose rather to come back the next day. Now it is the next day and in hindsight, I realize it is going to take at least two hours to drive back and get the picture and come home. This is also beneath me but it is the substance of my life at the moment. Grumble, grumble. I am such a child of the instant payoff. So I’ll drive down and back again and try to redeem the time invested by a side trip to the ocean or other scenic place to get a few pictures with my new camera that is burning a hole in my pocket. B UTIFUL CLICH? below is the photographic result of that little foray into the countryside, far from the controlled access jungle of I-95.

I don’t know what i’d do without the ability to get in my little car and go when I need or want to go. I also know that at some point I will have to consider that a privilege no longer available to me, for a variety of reasons, none of which, thankfully, are obvious now.

I have known several people of a certain age who voluntarily gave up their driver’s licenses after reaching a perceived level of driving incompetence. Either age, or some diminished skill level coupled with the presence of mind to recognize the dangers inherent in continuing to drive led these people to just stop. Just thinking of this gives me pause. Doubtless, that day will come for us all – meaning me, of course. When that day comes I hope I have the mind to do what I need to do. Driving 25 miles to Portland daily for a week sounds and feels like something I could give up in the twinkling of an eye.

I have a friend who in the course of a day taking children to their daily round of schooling, other classes, doctor’s offices and shopping drives more than I do and thinks nothing of it, or rather accepts it as a given for her life. But I am probably 30 years her senior. For a number of years I paddled my kayak in white water until that got too fast for me and I spent more time upside down than right side up. I gave up the paddling fast lane for the more enjoyable “flat water” paddling lanes. I can see that happening with driving as well.

I really don’t worry about my driving skill. It’s the youthful (usually) brainless idiot who can’t stand being behind anyone and who has to cut you off at the pass for no other reason than that he can do it. Watch car adds on TV. Competition and performance are the only reasons some people get into a car. This crowd is responsible for most of the so-called accidents on the roads and if it were left to me, these people would be tested twice a year and given refresher courses in driving safety, rules and common sense. I would add the same for anyone driving past the age of 70. That includes me.
Oh well, I need another touch of dark roast. Be well, and stay tuned.

I’m Jerry Henderson

The clich? is the clich? for a reason. Overuse, of course but of some appeal nevertheless. White fences in the country are a dead cinch to stop me and bring out my camera. Today was one of those days. All these pictures were at Pineland, a beautiful working farm, business park and store where the finest provisions can be found year ’round.

I present these photographs unadorned to convey their own message. I hope you enjoy these clich?s as I do. Jerry Henderson