That question was born in the 1930’s when a dime would easily get a cup of coffee or a doughnut, or both – when multiplied thousands of Americans were out of work – when hopelessness ran like cold water through the blood stream of this country.  Panhandlers, Beggars and Hobos were all out there on the road, traveling, taking risks, surviving anyway they could.  These were the same men who built the great American infrastructure and fought a world war.
I can remember many a young man, looking older than his years showing up at our back door asking for some odd job to do for something to eat.  There was always something to eat in our house.  My mother happily provided a heaping plate of whatever was on hand.  My next-door maternal grandfather, Shug, kept gardens on several “lots” in our neighborhood and kept us in produce the year ’round.  He had a job at Standard Oil  – “the plant” –  during those years while my father was a self employed barber hauling in 25¢ for every haircut.  We felt we were rich.  By comparison, we were actually, as it was said, dirt poor. But as children we didn’t know it.  There was always something for someone in need.  It was, it seemed, not something you thought long about.
Generosity, giving, helping – all those qualities that come together in the concept of compassion – became part of the American sprit, or at least I thought so at the time.  I think the human being is a naturally compassionate being.  Superstition, fear, aggression are all are learned traits. This is something we need to work on.  It’s not just a parental issue.  It belongs to everyone of us.
I am enormously blessed to be witness to, and now and then to be a “player” in the lives of two new Americans – brother and sister – who have been adopted by CA’s daughter and son-in-law.  They are Lukas, 4, and Adiline, 6, from Ethiopia.  Here they are learning “alms  giving” as part of the family’s Lenten season observances.
There are slots in the crosses for quarters.  It’s not much, but there is a learning experience going on here that is important.  It’s good to help others in need.   It’s good for them and it’s good for us.  It helps to fulfill us and complete us.  It’s a part of a Lenten ritual to focus on the disparity between OUR bounty and the NEED all around us and throughout the world.  Folks, this is a good thing.
This is neither a conservative nor a liberal position.  It belongs to no particular religion.  It is a human position.
It doesn’t matter what the framework is for the learning and the giving.  What matters is example and training.  It doesn’t matter if there is no immediate or transformative result that can be measured, published or evaluated.  It’s the doing that is the end result.
Be well, and stay tuned.           Jerry Henderson

The question that begs to be answered is this: is bacon always bad?

Snowy mornings always put me in a pensive mood. I mean what else is there to do? This morning I woke up and looked out to see a steady fine grained snow falling. I am sure it is snowing all over the world. After a cup of Community Darkroast, and checking that all my systems were up and running, I then considered the possibility of a small bite to eat, which could include a piece of crispy fried, hickory smoked, pepper cured bacon to celebrate this beautiful gift from the weather gnomes.

I know – the thought of me having a piece of bacon will surprise many of you who think of me as the highest paradigm of healthy eating. Come on – I’m sure there is at least one out there who thinks that. I grew up in a culture that considered eating bacon as axiomatic as sparks flying upward. I will admit that in a more enlightened age, we have discovered a few drawbacks to steadily ingesting a few rashers of crispy fried bacon every morning.

Now, I know people who would simply stop breathing at the suggestion of eating bacon. These are usually the same people who would swerve across eight lanes of 80 MPH traffic to pick up a Dixie Cup that was thrown from a car window. Righteous in extremis. I’m always uncomfortable around such individuals. Not because I am so judged by them (I already know I am not as good as they are) but because I just feel so sorry for them.

Here’s what you do on such a morning as this. Fry a piece of thick sliced bacon to brittle crispness. Chop it into fine bits and set asside. Then take a cup of leftover rice. I like the short grain Italian kind. Put it into a non-stick fry pan (don’t use the grease of the bacon you just fried. (You could that, but that Dixie Cup do-gooder might break into your house and bludgeon you with a package of tofu) Instead, take a small dollop of butter and sauté the rice with the bacon bits in it until it begins to pop a little and then make a hole in the middle and drop an egg into that. Flip it at the right moment and when it reaches the right doneness for you, flip it onto a waiting plate. You can break the egg up some. It’ll probably break anyway. Drizzle some Captain Mowatt’s Greenie hot sauce with avocado (made right here in Portland) over the top and enjoy.

This is a kitchen tested recipe that you can use without a worry in the world.

Happy Snowy Tuesday.

Sunday Morning Aggregate

– – – The governor wants to take his Tea Party agenda on national right wing TV.  I say go for it Gov.  You only need a little more rope to reach that high limb.

– – – An unconscious, but well meaning, legislator down in Saco wants to raise the speed limit on I -295 to 75 MPH!  Hey!  You listening?  All those cell phone wagging, eyebrow plucking fools are already driving 75 MPH.  You want to give them tacit permission to drive 85 and 90?  This is one of the busiest 4 lane stretches in the state.  Your proposal flies in the face of every known principle of highway safety and economy.  Lower it – don’t raise it.

– – – Did those brewmasters down at Shipyard in Portland really not know they had a sewer bill like everybody else?  I don’t know how any business that size is going to come up with $300,000?  And that’s an arbitrated amount.  I want my supply of Export Ale to keep on coming so I propose we all chip in at least $5 to help pay off this odious debt.  I think a collection bucket in the beer aisle in your favorite store should do the trick.

– – – There is now an effort by the UN to curb the movement of small arms to “conflict zones” around the world.  Guess who is opposed to such an idea?  The NRA, of course.   I suppose they now say the Second Amendment applies to anybody in the world. These bozos have become the second most irrelevant, out of touch, organization on earth.

– – – FLASH!  Just off the presses!  Romney pledges to help the Republicans.  You could have fooled me.  While addressing CPAC he says he’s sorry not to be their president, but he pulls himself together and goes on to say he will work with them, shoulder to shoulder, just like a regular fellow, as they, each and every one of them,  meet their responsibility.  Here’s the picture: hand over the heart and that trademark supercilious smile.

– – – Oh, did you hear?  Governor La Page now has a permit to carry a concealed weapon.  If there ever was a reason to question the whole process, that would be reason # 1


I was boosting up my fire this morning, careful not to boost it too much for it is just not that cold. That’s when I noticed my ash bucket was full. Well, my mind, being on wheels, moving all the time, mostly rolling down hill, It occurred to me that “ash or ashes” has appeared  in the English language over the years with several connotations and uses. Here are a few.

If you have ever attended a graveside service, the person officiating may have recited or read words like, “Ashes to ashes and dust to dust”. I was once asked where in the Bible could that phrase be found. Well, it can’t. It isn’t there. There is that bit in Genesis 3:19 – By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return. No ashes there. it’s a good line, but it’s not Biblical.

Then there is that song ASHES AND WINE. Is there a chance, a fragment of light at the end of the tunnel, a reason to fight? Is there a chance you might change your mind or are we ashes and wine? No mixing ashes and wine. Total opposites. No hope for a happy combination. I know some marriages like that.

Then there is hauling your ashes, or having them hauled, which seems to be preferred. This term seems to have originated in the early part of the 20th century among blues singers who were geniuses at not saying explicitly what they were saying. Hauling one’s ashes is a reference to having wild monkey sex. “Boy, you look like someone just hauled your ashes”. As in cleaned out your stove. The actual origin of the phrase is kind of murky. Probably a good thing. But if you ever discover it, please let me know.

I read Elizabeth George’s PLAYING FOR THE ASHES some time ago. The term is a reference to a biennial cricket match between England and Australia. It seems that in 1882 Australia beat the Brits on their home field, I believe it’s popularly called a pitch, which is actually that part of the field where “Bowler” and the “Batsman” work out. The papers moaned that English cricket had died and the remains would be cremated and taken to Australia. Ever since, the two countries have been playing for an urn containing the ashes of a cricket ball. Hence – playing for the ashes. I think they drink martinis at cricket matches. It’s about the only way I could enjoy a cricket match.

It’s the Lenten season, which is also not in the Bible, but to be fair, nobody said it was. But it has it’s merits. It’s a time of fasting ( a very good thing ) and reflection ( another good thing ). In the more liturgical churches, or denominations, on that first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday, some people mark themselves or are marked in a ceremony at church, with a cross of ash on their foreheads to symbolize the ashes of penance. That can’t hurt either.

I am cleaning out my stove and in the process I have ash marks all over myself, some even, with a large dollop of imagination, resembling crosses . As I haul my ashes out to the spot where I dump them, I’ll trudge through crusty mushy muddy snow and meditate all the way on my frail humanity that truly needs Devine intervention, or in lieu off that, perhaps central heat.

Dust we are and to dust we shall return, even if we end up as a jar of ashes to be laid to rest in some sacred ground, scattered at some treasured spot or parceled out among friends and family who have always wanted a little piece of us with which to do something creative.

THE TITLE SAYS IT ALL. It was a 50˚ day with snow covering everything. Skiers were out and people were sledding down the hill and we were not the only ones out walking. Pineland Farms is a remarkable resource in our community and the roads are always plowed and should you want or need a hour’s worth of vigorous walking it is readily available.

Make a note of it: the first complete day of sunshine above the 40˚ mark this season. Scenes like this were plentiful. We did indeed do a full hour at a pretty good clip. I hope I can find my bottle of Naproxen.

You know how it is: lots of talk about the winter’s accumulated belly fat. What to do about it. Eat less, of course. Perhaps even drink less, but I need more research on that before I do something rash. :-). Exercise is the answer for many of our issues. Specially those we bring upon ourselves. We looked at each other and said, almost in unison, “We do this three times a week and we will see a difference soon!” Yes, we actually said that.

I hate having to go somewhere to exercise. I have a nice treadmill and bicycle inside but it’s the air that is the difference. I feel as though I infused more Oxygen today than the entire winter! I feel great!

Now I am really hungry.

It really is just a test.  I mean, there is no hidden meaning or secret intent.  It’s just that sometimes there is value in seeing if a process actually works as advertised. Apparently it did.  

Thank you for your support.

Jerry Henderson

NOTHING should be easier, right?  All I wanted was to move my blog to WordPress and have it hosted by my domain manager, Godaddy.  I am beginning to feel that my advanced years are getting the upper hand in matters of technology.  They say, here, go 1,2.3 and it will be all better.   So I go 1.2,3, and it falls apart.

This is just a brief note to say to anyone who stumbles on this site, to have patience with me.  It isn’t anywhere near where I want it to be.   I’ll get it running and behaving properly soon I am sure.  No!  I am not sure.  But I am hopeful.

My issue is control.  I am used to controlling what things look like and how they do their thing and I have yet to reach that point.  I am feeling a bit inadequate.  Perhaps a Saturday morning waffle would help

Jerry Henderson

Be well, and stay tuned.

The moment I turned the light on, these flying bugs surrounded me with their erratic arial antics that defied my hand slaps and swats and I am yelling things like: “Hello. What manner of creatures are these wonderfully endowed aerialists, and who let them in?” Actually, that’s not literally what I said, but you get the idea.

Welcome to the world of the Indian Meal Moth, and the various other minuscule flying, crawling, and burrowing bugs that thrive on grains, cereals, meals and other milled materiel that are plentiful in most kitchens. Don’t worry: they didn’t just get off the jumbo jet from New Deli. They are naturalized American citizens who vote just like you do. And they love to eat the same kind of cereal grains you love. And they are better at getting at it than you are.

Personally I’m fed up with these pests! Those among you who think of yourselves as purists, and are somehow of a more elevated class than the rest of us who are willing to draw blood for blood by using the latest chemical poison, I have only this to say to you – bugger off! I have an INSECTICIDE BOMB THAT WILL KILL THE VERY AIR IN WHICH THESE PESTS FLY! But they are still here. They are the red squirrel of the pantry.

Once, they were so bad I couldn’t even open my mouth without the real possibility of inhaling one of them. Go on and blame me, if you must. I don’t care. This is a stand your ground situation. If I thought I could actually hit one of them I’d draw my little .38 caliber Smith and blow them away. But, alas. all I would accomplish would be the ventilating of my super insulated walls and ceiling, letting in the elements and creating a view to the stars and Mars above.

OK, I just had to say that. What I really will do is go through my well stocked larder and throw out anything that even thinks about being infected. I will then clean those containers and drawers and cabinets with acid if necessary to eradicate every footprint, fecal stain and larval web thatch so that the next time I come home the air is clear of flying things and I can dig into a bin of quinoa or masa or muesli without fear that some invader has been there before me, and is lying in wait to fly up my nose.

I seriously suspect that in some moment of morning haste I have poured a portion of muesli in my bowl and doused it with a little milk and a few blueberries and consumed a colony of those bugs without even knowing it. I try not to think about that possibility for more than a fleeting moment. I try only to concentrate on the added protein that I fortuitously inherited.

One of my Birkenstock friends who knows all about this kind of thing, once told me that they come in already living in the meal, grain and cereal that I buy. So there’s no hope. I suppose I could wash all the meal, cereal, grain and my beloved muesli. My mind freezes up at the thought.

By now I am half way to being depressed. I think I feel a chocolate chip cookie coming on. Now, if you bake the cookie, ten minutes at 350˚, that should kill the bugs – right? But the protein remains. Right?

Late winter in Maine is when scenes like this can be found around any stand of maple trees.  Boiling maple sap down to that heavenly elixir called maple syrup is as much a part of the Maine Mystique as the rocky coast of, the great north woods  and hard shell lobster.


I grew up on sugar cane syrup, black strap and the like.  It was a heavier sweetness that could set your teeth on edge.  There were some blends around that contained corn syrup which offered a milder treatment for your hot biscuits and pancakes but they were neither of the cane syrup sweetness nor the pure “you could just drink the stuff” quality of real 100% pure maple syrup.  It was supposed to fool us deep south boys and girls into thinking we were sampling something like real thing.  We were easy in those days.  If it was sweet it was good.  It wasn’t until I lived here and tasted some strait from the evaporator that I knew the truth.
Now, straight from the evaporator is not quite the same as poured from the spout over those biscuits I mentioned.  It is not quite “there” yet, but it has that earthy sweetness that still has something of the earth floating around in it.  It works quite well in a cup of coffee.
My neighbor called me early this morning to invite me over to hang out around the evaporator.  It’s amazing how boiling clear watery sap can produce such a fine end result.
We were finishing dinner and I noticed a truck coming into our drive which is kind of rare without us knowing ahead of time who it is.  It was that same neighbor coming over the “safe” way rather than trying to avoid the fast traffic on the narrow shoulders, or slogging through the deep snow between our houses.  You guessed it.  He presented us with a pint of freshly “squeezed” maple syrup.  And I helped!
I think there may be a waffle or two in the morning.  You think?