I don’t know just when it happened, but somewhere in the past a special significance was attached to Wednesday, the mid-week day. It was important in the sense that the work week was “down hill” from there. It was the hump of the work week. If we got past Wednesday, the hump, then we had it made.

This idea was never more apparent than during those days when I earned my keep tending to the needs of the emotionally troubled. I worked in the Texas Mental Health system of community centers. I enjoyed helping people. I was moderately good at it. Most of us were. After three days of dealing with such problems we “normal” persons needed some relaxing, and for most of us in the clinic that meant meeting at a local watering hole and watering down for a couple of hours. Sometimes more. After all, it was hump night. It was down hill from there.

In recent years, the Wednesday hump has not figured that much in my life but reaching the mid point in any endeavor still remains a symbolic achievement – down hill from there. Light at the end of the tunnel and all.

As the years go by with ever increasing speed, the mid-week hump represents more of a speed indicator than an opportunity to blow off steam or relax with one’s favorite people and libation. “Good grief the week is half gone already”! The weeks seem to go by like light poles at 90 miles per hour. “What day is it,” is more often the question than,”What time is it”.
Still, there is a vestigial sensation of specialness to the day for me. I always think of it and at times am able to give the day, usually the evening part, a place of honor. Break out the good bottle. Throw a pork loin on the grill. Salute old times and friends. And be thankful that, though the speedometer of life is pegged on the red line, through the magic of optical surgery I can still read the numbers clearly.

This is what I am moved to say about all this: I resolve to enjoy the ride as best I can. After all it’s down hill from here.

Be well and stay tuned –

Jerry Henderson

Here it is again. Early spring and raining and blowing like it’s the last chance. Gold finches are getting golden. Willow branches are rusty and filled with little buds. So are the burning bushes. Crocus are just about ready to go by, bless their glorious little hearts!

The pundits are calling for 3 ]to 6 inches. Can you even conceive of what that is in snow inches? By some measurement standards it is for every 1″ of rain you would get 10″ of snow, more or less, as there are all kinds of variables involved. You know: wet snow, dry snow, blowing snow, big flakes, small flakes, that first magical snow of the season and that last “Jesus not again” snow of the season usually in April, that covers the lawn mower where you left it last night when darkness intervened while cutting the grass for the first time.

There’s a certain tension to spring in Maine. Like waiting for the other shoe to fall. It takes only a few winters here to know with gospel certainty that “it ain’t over until it’s over”. At these latitudes old Jack Frost has an indelible stamp on the back of his hand so he can come and go whenever he damned well pleases!

I looked out back a while ago and noticed that a patch of “naturalized” daffodils are up a good ten inches. The green of day-lilies is poking up all over the place. The hybrid grasses are shooting right up through the old trimmed brown stuff. And on and on it goes. A day like this is good for reading while a pot of something simmers on the stove. What shall it be – what shall it be?

I have this new app for my iPhone. It’s called ALTITUDE. It claims to be able, through some cross bearing references and the built in GPS in the phone, to give you a close approximation of your height above sea level. Obviously this is very important information. Just now, I am home and sitting at my desk and “we” are about 141 feet above sea level.

I feel, at least temporarily, safe from the possible tsunami that might roar in across the Gulf Of Maine. There is a creek about 150 yards from here that does occasionally overflow its banks and even threaten to engulf the bridge on our road. Luckily we have alternate routes to get out in case of flood danger. But just where I am now, there would have to be a national emergency type of flood to reach us. Regardless, I am 141 feet high and thanks to my new Altitude App I can know in a second my altitude and keep a sufficient elevation as much as possible throughout my day. Yet I do love to go down to Joe”s Oyster on the bay from time to time. Elevation – 2 feet. They say the Coast Guard keeps a watch on such rare events like tsunamis and would warn those of us gorging on oysters in time for us to get to high ground.

I am specially happy to be able to use this app to assure that I, in my many travels, can find and take the high road. For one thing the low road is quite crowded and dangerous these days, and becoming more so. People there are throwing bricks and threatening to mount an army of riflemen, and riflewomen in some kind of citizen’s extreme referendum in defense of liberty and they yell out inappropriate and ugly things all the time – I don’t know. It’s dangerous driving down there. These roads almost always run through places like Alabama, Tennessee, Texas and Washington DC. I think that’s odd, don’t you? Thankfully, I don’t usually need to go to those places.

Maybe if those folk had an altitude app on their phones they could find a higher road to travel and learn to use time-tested and effective methods of getting their points across – like discussion, debate and compromise – methods that seem to promote unity and safe travel on higher roads. The view is much better from there as well.

Meanwhile, I’ll be checking my altitude just to make sure. You never know. Yep. Still 141 feet! I hope that’s high enough.

I’m in one of my cynical moods, so I shouldn’t even be doing this. Why, you ask. I know you didn’t ask but that’s how I get into what I’m doing here. Here is the answer.

First, as you may or may not know, I have a presence on FaceBook and Twitter. Both of these occurrences are the result of yielding to some dear friend’s insistence that I would just love the experience. What I have discovered, and what everyone else already knows, is that the social networking world has it’s merits and it’s problems as well. FB does give me a contact point with many of the people I used to work with. That was the main reason I joined. Meanwhile, I discover a world of people there I had lost contact with and who are quite willing to exchange brief (and I do mean brief) greetings now and then. You don’t go to FB to actually communicate some important information like when your plane arrives or when to meet you somewhere for an important matter to be handled. It is at best a one and a half way conversation. If you are not OK with that you shouldn’t be there. I’m thinking about that.

In addition to that, there are all those cute little games pastimes and nonsense exercises that seem to appeal to a lot of people. Some of these people take up entire pages with this stuff. But it seems to meet some need out there and I suppose that is a good thing. It seems, at times, to be the biggest part of what goes on there. It looks like a barrel of fun for many. I do not touch any of that. It’s not that I think I am above it (i am) but rather it just doesn’t appeal to me. If someone sends me some Hindu Goddess treat, a bucket of flowers, or an invitation to some personal favorite cause, I just ignore it. No one should be offended by this. It simply isn’t personal. It’s not in my nature, and if you know me, this is not a surprise.

Along comes Twitter with its 140 character limit that really has a personality all its own. (Actually FB has its limit as well) It’s the old 25 words or less thing in a new coat. A friend coaxed me into getting on Twitter and so I did. I have 53 people following me! Why? I don’t even know 53 people.

Over on the north side of our town is a cross road with a quick stop store and a cafe combination. Across the road from the cafe is a little house, if you can call it that. It is little. About big enough for a card table inside and a few old guys to gather around. It’s a “club house”. Looks like something you’d find in a kid’s back yard. What it really is is a social network hub. It’s refreshing to see.

Wouldn’t it be funny to drive by and see these guys sitting around the table with their laptops open surfing FaceBook?

One of the representative from one of the northern counties here in Maine has suggested ( as someone does every few years ) that the north secede from the south. They would form their own state to be known by some name as yet to be decided, in their constitutional convention. It could be Northern Main USA, or Real Maine USA. Who knows? They will surely attach the USA to re-assure themselves and others who have always harbored doubts, that they are indeed part of the lower 47.
Those of us living in the lower tier would be known as Northern Massachusetts. I’ve been to Northern Massachusetts, and I can tell you it’s way different from here. A friend of mine living in that break-off section of our state has reminded me that she could legally call me a Masshole: a local term of endearment we often apply to our neighbors to the south. It’s a name well earned by drivers from there who feel using an automobile as a lethal weapon is a birthright of theirs. I have lived in places like Texas, for instance. You got your Panhandle, your West Texas, your Rio Grande Valley, your Big Bend, your Gulf Coast, your East Texas and that unique part known as Deep East Texas, you got Central Texas and you got North Texas and probably other places. These parts are as different from each other as day and night. It is seen as diversity, which is seen as a good thing. This “two Maine” thing comes up from time to time. The more remote part believe they constitute the “real” Maine. They believe too many of the state’s resources are used up down here. When you consider that most of the people live here it is not to hard to understand why.

There is also, and I have been told this to my face, something about a lot of the families who have lived there for generations that gives them special status. The minute I moved to Texas, I was told I was now a Texan. I could wear cowboy boots and everything. Ye Ha! But I have had “true Mainers” tell me I could never be one of them, and they did not smile. I truly believe this is a minority feeling but it is there. Why can’t we be a vastly diverse state? We could have cultural exchange programs where people from each section spend time in the other section learning the customs and language. It would go a long way toward understanding and go a long way toward dispelling the myth of primogeniture that bestows a higher standing to those whose families have been here the longest. The important thing is this: ALL OF US ARE HERE!

I don’t think this two Maine thing has a hope in a hurricane of ever becoming a reality, and within a few generations It will become a quaint part of the growing history of this genuinely wonderful place to live. I do believe Native Mainers do have a point about how money from the south has taken the finest from them but it was a two way street. Choices were made. Consequences endured and will be endured. And it is OK to bitch about the past but not too long. We are likely on the threshold of the most exciting history making period in Maine. It’s going to take Old Salts and Newbies alike to make Maine’s future work. Jerry Henderson

In the midst of a non-winter when spring is eagerly awaited, the artificial display of genuine plantings brings welcomed palpations to the heart. These iPhone pictures tell only a fraction of the tale.  Enjoy and get those seeds ordered!  Of course, you could just go down to the show.

A golden goldfinch was spotted yesterday at our feeders. These little critters of the male persuasion are usually a duil yellow gray-green up until April at least but with these mild mid-winter temperatures dominating the news, these poor birds think it’s spring. Well, I can’t complain: I walked out for the paper this morning in shorts much to the enjoyment to a couple of passersby who honked at the crazy old guy picking up his morning paper along with the recycle bins. Was that you?

The weather is always something to talk about here in Maine. It is a significant part of life in the region. But this winter has been historically unusual with such early and deep snowfalls and this spring-like February and now into March. You want to say, “What gives?”

I read where the Chilean earthquake, which was a deep one, actually moved the earth off it’s axis a miniscule amount but moved it, it did. I am sure that the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, the dust of which circled the earth, had to have made some measurable difference in the tilt of the earth. Now that we can measure such things the added knowledge is bound to give more acute pause when things happen. Before we didn’t know. Now we do.

It all makes me feel not as secure on this planet as I have felt in the past. We are really this tiny blue speck in the unimaginable vastness of the universe. We are almost pre-copernican in our earth centered smugness. We have grown to believe we are safe, and can expect the usual in terms of weather and season into the ages.

I’ll bet that if you did a man on the street survey you would still find a few of us out there who really believe the sun goes around the earth. Actually, having worked in retail for a number of years, I can tell you without blinking that there are many of our brothers and sisters out there who question reality and worship the gods of Nascar, WallMart and the deep fryer. Deep fryer? Hmm – that actually sounds pretty good.

Well, I’m probably overly concerned about nothing. But I don’t think so. Something is going on. And I am not even sure I want to know what it is. I’ll think about it tomorrow. Jerry Henderson

Why is it that I never seem to tire of old issues of MASH?  I think I’ve seen them all or nearly so.  Is it that good or is it that my level of appreciation is that low?  I am pretty sure it is the anti-authoritarian tone that attracts me so.  I suppose you could say I am somewhat anti-authoritarian.   

The characters are strong.  The stories are good and we are never long between laughs.  It’s serious to the core, but above all, entertaining.  I guess that’s it for me.  It’s fun that occasionally beings a tear and makes a point.  

I’ll never forget the last episode.  We watched it in the Congregational Church Manse in Dover Foxcroft, Maine.  The minister and I were friends and we made a party of it. He brought our a six-pack of Bass Ale and snacks.  At the time we felt that there would be re-runs into the sunset.  Sure enough, the sun is setting and we still have MASH. 

I am also a Trekie – The Second Gen.  I love it when they are all bouncing around in their harness free chairs hurdling through space at multiples of the speed of light.  It’s like a well crafted fairy tale.  You know stuff like that does not happen but you want to believe it.  So for a moment logic and reason are suspended for the fun of it. 

In the spirit of honoring old productions: I recently watched North By Northwest, the movie that is supposed to have made Cary Grant a bankable star.  Eva Marie Saint, James Mason and Martin Landau  round out a stellar cast that despite 50 years of movie making evolution held my attention throughout.  It seemed that story was important then, more so than now.  Some if it even seemed amateurish by present standards but that was acting as it was then.  It was Ok if it seemed that an actor was actually acting.  And it was also Hitchcock.  That’s always good.

I know –  some would say this thing with re-runs has more to do with age than anything else.  But you don’t have to be old to appreciate MASH.  It helps to have been a contemporary in the fifties.  It helps to be fed up with gratuitous sex, bloody violence and this pseudo-reality thing.  Spit!  Spit!

After a while, I figured out the real reason I love re-runs.  I’m a re-run myself.  I enjoy it.  Sometimes I forget just how much fun the story was.  

Jerry Henderson