I knew the moment I stepped into this place I had made a mistake. The first sign was a huge yellow tabby that took one look at me and fled to regions of dark and dingy and probably safety. Good riddance! I sniffed the air and found it quite un-fresh and ladened with the false freshness of – well – – false freshness.

We were supposed to think antique / gift shoppee but in reality this was, as I discovered by engaging the owner-operator in casual conversation, an outlet for newly manufactured “old” junk, which he freely admitted was the result of his perusing of over 3000 catalogs, which he said kept coming in daily.

Now, I have been around. I’ve been in antique shops, barns, certified junk shops. understated ego infested, way over-priced Ye Olde Stuff shops, yard sales and every flea market table in Searsport, Maine. You could have put every single piece of all that into this old Victorian-ish house I was in yesterday and you would have an idea of just how jam-packed the place was. To say “overstimulating” is an understatement. The word hasn’t been invented to describe the clutter, which on closer inspection was a most carefully constructed chaos. This guy was clearly a card carrying Obsessive Compulsive. You had to admire his industry.

By now I am wheezing some and my eyes were misting. It could have been the cat, but I suspect it was more the bouquet of b-zillions of newly minted pieces of junk treated with whatever paint, chemical, or infusion it would take to make it resemble some 19th century American relic.

What is even more amazing is the quiet industry behind this “outlet” employing thousands, yea, even millions of non-American laborers on the other side of the planet who are the first link in a chain of value added wealth which culminated in our purchase of a $3.98 bauble to hang in a window to catch the sun’s rays. That same sun that shines on us all, wherever we are in the world.

6 AM Pownal

Dear Friend. It’s another cold morning here in Maine. Seems that we have had a preponderance of really cold mornings this season. We were spoiled for sure last year. But this too shall pass, as they say. I say this while looking at an icicle reaching from roof line to the ground. Not an encouraging sight.

You are fortunate indeed, to be able to migrate with the seasons. I used to make fun of all you “Snow Birds” flying south in October and north in April – having the best of both worlds. These days it’s pure unadulterated envy.

Seriously, I do love winter in the northeast, but I can see my ability to physically deal with it fading as I age. I don’t like it worth a damn, but there’s not much I can do about it. I came here 30 years ago for the winter and at the time I could go out and ski 20 miles at the drop of a mitten. That memory seems almost mythological today.

On the home front, things are going along pretty much as usual. A little shoveling and roof raking. I feel OK most of the time. I spend a while most mornings trying to clear the crud from my upper respiratory regions and from the sinuses. This has been going on since i was two days old and I can tell you I get friggin’ tired of it. Not much has ever given me relief. I do think about heating with wood and all the pollutants involved – you know – maybe there’s a connection? I can hear you now: “Central air and Arizona or Florida or even Texas as a last resort, might help.” I don’t doubt it.

I have a little line at the top of my computer screen on which the actual temperature appears. It says, 10? above zero just now. I just checked your zip code on Weather Bug and had this sudden urge to appear at your door in tee shirt and shorts – bags in hand. By the way, I was wondering, does your guest room have a view? An outside entrance would be nice. Broadband.

OK, I need to feed the stove and refill my coffee cup.

I hope this finds you well, dear Friend. See you on you next migration.

You take care now and don’t forget the sunscreen.

Your Friend – Jerry

You know what a velcro tune is, don’t you? One that sticks in your head and won’t let go. Often you don’t know why, or where it came from and time is wasted trying to figure it out. As you might guess. I have one running around in my head now. If you are old enough you might remember it.

“Blinded by the light – revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night.”

It was Manfred Mann and his Earth Band. I remember everyone in the clinic I was working in at the time – all of us hip and slim and beaded and coiffed and up to the ears in 70’s fusion and light rock – trying to figure out what this guy was actually saying, not to mention what he might have meant, if anything. Here’s what it sort of sounded like:

No autographs, please.

This guy repeats that refrain five or six times five or six times in the song. Reading all the lyrics, I am tempted to think there is no message at all. I ran it through a universal translator ant it came back “No modern language can make any sense out of this submission.” No, I made that up. But no one in my recollection made any sense of it either.

The issue here is not what it means but how to get the damned song out of your head. Here’s where i think I can help those of you who wake up with some tune bouncing around in your brain and you don’t want it to do that.

Substitute another tune for it. Perhaps a nursery rhyme, or an obscure Susa march. Usually such a substitution will not hang on like a true velcro tune.

involve yourself in some activity that demands total consecration – like cleaning your chimney or sky diving or perhaps deep frying a turkey.

If all else fails – at least this seems to work for me – copious amounts of one’s preferred adult beverage has been known to erase all traces of meaningful melody from one’s mind.

If I can be of further assistance please do not hesitate to call. Standard rates apply.


I was standing at the window looking at the dense cloud of falling snow when my phone rang. It was one of my doctor’s calling. I am scheduled for an appointment early in the morning for a complicated procedure and his assistant was calling to make sure I was coming in. When I expressed some concern about this “historical” storm now raging outside, she asked whether I would like to reschedule for Monday. I said that if it were possible, I’d like that very much, and we rescheduled. But, not before she made sure I knew she was there in her assigned place while I was safely ensconced before my fire. It was something about the tone of her voice. God knows I appreciate the sacrifice others make for my benefit. Somehow, I feel healthier already.

I have a daughter out in Graham, Texas who has a Sonic Drive-In and she was posting a FB note about the ice and snow and impossible roads there that have all but shut that little town down. Everything is closed. They will try to open for a while today but she knows it won’t be a landslide business day. She said that her storm was coming to us. I said it’s here and it had learned a few tricks on the way and was trying them out on us presently.

I am incredibly happy not to have to get out in the morning. It may be just fine but that kind of adventure does not hold the fascination for me that it once did. I remember pushing 10 inches of new un-plowed snow all the way to Millinocket from Dover in my little Honda Civic back in the early 80’s. I was a newbie in Maine then. In the words of Bullet Bob Seger, “I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.”  Clothed in such ignorance, I might now be out on every little country lane, camera in hand waiting for someone to come by and pull me out of a snow bank. Time changes everything. It’s a good thing it does.

Well, duty calls. There is a little shoveling awaiting my skills.

Stay tuned.