Non-fiction

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47 articles in category Non-fiction / Subscribe

Every four years we are inundated with political advertisements telling us why those guys are bad and these other guys are the greatest since applesauce. It doesn’t matter what viewpoint you have because the debate over who is right or wrong has been going on since our nation began more than two centuries ago.

It seems easy to tell who is a Republican and who is a Democratic by listening to them. You can also tell the difference by the way they dress and their mannerisms. For example, Richard Nixon was a Republican and wore shorts and wing tip shoes when he went for a stroll on the beach, whereas Bill Clinton is a Democrat and couldn’t keep his pants on in the Oval Office.

Sitting in my old dilapidated beach chair one morning at York Beach I found myself wondering idly if it was possible to tell Republicans from Democrats when they were wearing almost no clothes and were supposed to be on vacation. Take away the Republican’s business suit and the Democrat’s blue collar and is there any real difference between them? Of course, today this concept seems to be reversed.
The first family I observed was a group of four with the father leading the way and the rest of the family following Indian file behind. This clear demarcation of power had me convinced this family was Republican. Actually I suspected the father was Republican with the wife and mother of his children bowing to the political consciousness of her husband. This little group planted themselves a good distance away from me. Actually, no one gets too close to me when I am in my retired mode. In the morning I actually scare myself with my untrimmed beard and rapidly decaying skin.

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Autumn is part of an integral cycle. This is the time we have to pull up the plants we cherished, fed, and protected during the last five months of the year. During the summer months we were proud of how strong our plants looked. We waited patiently for their fruit to ripen so we could fill our family’s tables with delicious vegetables and sweet-scented flowers. Like everything in everyone’s life all things change and nothing stays the same. In other words, everything is mortal.

Walking into my garden, I am saddened to see my tomato plants turn black with brownish green tomatoes left on dying stems. When the tomatoes were in full bloom you couldn’t see the cage through the thick foliage of green leaves and ripened tomatoes. In fact, throughout the entire summer I had to add miles of twine in order to keep my once giant tomato plants from falling to the ground. This of course made the task of cleaning up this part of my garden more difficult, because I had to separate the plants from the cages and then from the twine.

After I pulled the main part of the tomato plant away from the cages I accidentally knocked my glasses from my head and proceeded to step on them in the muck of mud and crushed tomatoes. Looking down at them and seeing they no longer looked like glasses I decided to leave them in the garden over the winter. Who knows maybe I’ll grow an eye-glass plant. Continue Reading →

The other day, my wife and I took my grand kids to McDonalds. We clearly understand this is not the best place to take them for lunch but it is nearly impossible to tell them different. We sat in our normal corner booth with my wife organizing the chaos while I went up to the counter to get them their favorite ‘Happy Meals’.

On my way back to the booth I noticed an elderly gentleman sitting at the next booth by himself. He had no food or drink in front of him and for some odd reason he brought a story into my mind. He was very old or at least he appeared to have survived too many decades. His skin was the color of over-cooked chicken and hung from what was probably a strong, structured face.

The skin on his face was freckled with the type of marks that had nothing to do with cute. He had large, dark bags under each eye that were permanently placed there from years of worry and concern about everything he once found important. He also wore eyeglasses that hung on the end of his pocked nose. These glasses had nothing to do with anything modern because they were large and, like his skin,were gray.

My grandkids were deeply involved in their ‘Happy meals’ and were playing with their ‘Happy Toy’. My wife was enjoying her ice coffee making sure neither of them swallowed one of their ‘Happy Toys’. Sneaking a peak over the side of the booth I noticed the old man wore a blue flannel shirt and bright greenish yellow shorts. I then assumed he wasn’t married because no wife would allow this combination to see the light of day. Continue Reading →

I felt it snap as it left my hand. A little tingle in my shoulder was felt as the horseshoe flew away. As soon as I felt this seemingly little discomfort I knew that within the next few hours I would be popping Advil like a six-year-old would pop candy. The feeling also showed me that the summer of discomfort was about to begin.

The game of horseshoes has never been associated with any type of sport injury. That is unless you observe the many backyard and beach competitions that take place during all of the summer months. These are usually associated with a lot of yelling and making fun of where this horseshoe landed or why a certain relative or friend never experienced the concept of a “ringer”.

Some of the other horse-shoe related injuries include the pesky thumb blister that never heals until the last horseshoe is thrown on Labor Day weekend. The shin knob is another popular injury in that it begins after an older uncle’s horseshoe flies out of the pit and directly onto your shin.The color and size are the most interesting parts of this particular injury in that its deep purple sheen never fades away and the horseshoe shaped swell becomes a permanent part of one’s leg. Continue Reading →

My wife was annoyed with me the other day. I was sent to my closet to get rid of items that I no longer wore. These included t-shirts, sweat-shirts, pants, jeans, shorts, hats, and every other thing I have covered my body with, for the past 50 or so years.

H.G. Wells should have known, that if one could find a time-machine in this universe, all one had to do was look in an old man’s closet. As always, my wife was right. When I opened my closet it looked like it was filled with a solid block of multi-colored cloth. There was not a space either hanging or on the shelf that could fit another item. How the shelf didn’t fall, because of the massive weight of sweatshirts and sweaters, is above and beyond my comprehension.

Shoes and old worn-out sneakers covered the floor of the closet that I assumed had a rug over it. I assumed this because there was a possibility that the shoes could have been on top of even older sweaters. I decided to start at the top and work my way down.  When I reached and grabbed what I thought was a single sweatshirt the entire contents of the shelf came tumbling down. How I survived the avalanche is above and beyond my comprehension. Continue Reading →

They say that all things are relative but the time-span and areas they are related to can cause problems. In my case too many of the ‘old days’ could not be described as ‘Good’.

World War 2 against Germany was declared a few months before my fifth birthday and the area of the south coast of England, where I lived, soon became affected. I can remember my infants/primary school lessons being interupted by air-raid sirens and having to go outside to the former playground which had been filled with a number of corrugated-steel shelters.

Once inside them, we settled on the hard wooden benches, lit a candle and tried to read our lesson books until the all-clear alarm sounded. Too often this process happened more than once a day and became unsettling to some. Looking back, I realise that, even with the covering of turf on the shelter, a falling bomb would still have blown us to pieces.

In fact, this was soon realised by my father who had served in the Royal Horse Artillery in WW1. After being woken one night by the Air-raid alarm, we slept the rest of the night in the shelter installed in our back garden. Next morning he decided that, if we were bombed, it would be better to die in our warm home than spend too many of our nights in the freezing cold, useless ‘shelter’. It wasn’t wasted though, as it soon became a place to grow mushrooms and keep our home-grown vegetables and fruit. Continue Reading →

I have lived and worked in Maine for about 35 years. Since I am now 66 years old and a native of Flushing, NY it is time to make a decision as to where my wife and I want to spend this newest chapters of our lives.

I’ve talked to many people and a good majority believes it’s time to find a new warmer home to live. Even though Maine has the second oldest population, Florida is the oldest; I wanted to investigate why older people seem to want to live in Maine.

Why Maine shouldn’t be a place to grow old is obvious. It’s cold. The average temperature in Maine is approximately 45.5F throughout the year with a summer average temperature of 79F and a winter average temperature of 12F.

This makes Maine the third coldest state in our nation behind Alaska and North Dakota. Most older people like warmer temperatures but are there other reasons why older people should not consider retirement in Maine? Continue Reading →

There are many laws of science that can’t be questions. One of the most important laws is The Law of the Conservation of Matter and Energy. It clearly states that matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed.

Thinking back to my catechism days I clearly remember the nuns and brothers of my past drilling into all who had to be there that God has always been and always will be. In Genesis 1:3, God said: “Let there be light”; and there was light. God  saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
 
Over the centuries there has been an argument between religion and science. Webster defines religion as: “the service and worship of God or the supernatural”.  Science is defined as: “a branch of knowledge in which what is known is presented in an orderly way.”
An orderly representation of God can be in many forms like The Bible or The Quran. In order to attempt to understand the concepts of God, Science, and energy one has to have a concept of time.
 
Man, or a comparison to man about 203 million years ago, has inhabited the Earth. The Earth itself is said to be 4.5 billion years old. The concept of Christ is approximately 2016 years and Mohammed is said to have lived about 1446 years ago.

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There are many ways of evaluating what kind of a week you had. You could review your checkbook to see if you added or reduced your balance. You could weigh yourself to see if that extra glass of wine or can of beer actually increased the size of your waste or butt.
Or you could focus on your eyes in a mirror, to see if the bags under your eyes increased in bulk. Scientifically the best way of measuring the success of your week is by checking to see what’s inside your dishwasher. 
The next time you have to run your dishwasher, because nothing else can fit in it, observe what is in it. If the number of wine glasses or beer mugs overwhelms the number of dinner dishes, you probably had a very stressful week.
If you think back you probably had little energy to cook or even open a can. Pouring a glass of wine or opening a bottle of beer takes a lot less energy, plus it lessens the time to end up falling asleep in front of your TV.
If the number of coffee cups overwhelms the number of dinner dishes, you were definitely expecting a rough day. There are certain mornings when all it takes to get you going is a single cup of coffee.
There are also certain mornings when you realize the day ahead will be filled with many explanations as to why something wasn’t done, or why you did it.

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There I stood at the end of my driveway looking out into my front yard from my garage for the first time since late November. Obviously I’ve looked at my yard before but concentrating on its appearance was now important because I was pretty sure the last of the snow had fallen. This meant the snows of winter would no longer disguise the debris that found its way onto my property. Before walking on my lawn I tested the ground to make sure it was dry enough so my feet wouldn’t make indentations that would probably mean the death of my lawn mower.

The first thing I did was pick-up all the cigarette butts that ended up on the peripheral of where my property ends and the road begins. I could never figure out why people throw something out the windows of their cars they know will never disintegrate. Hell, I could never figure out why people throw any type of garbage out of their cars and into the road. I wonder if they think some magical force would make their garbage disappear?

This year I counted 86 cigarette butts thrown on my lawn. I looked up at my house and wondered where the sign was hidden that advertised how my property was one large ashtray. Or did my property have some sort of a magnetic attraction for the plastic in the filters of the butts, so all of the discarded butts in the western world ended up on my property. Continue Reading →