Thank goodness they’ve fixed the automatic exit door at Hannaford! Kicking it open each time I wanted to get out was becoming quite inconvenient.

* * * * *

Speaking of stores, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that, as time has passed by, the number of small stores where you can buy a gallon of milk in Rockland has decreased. Several gas station convenience stores have closed only in the past few years.

Crossroads Market (as it was) near the high school lost its gas pumps when it was bought recently, for example. The Mainway gas station near Maverick Square closed entirely, and so did the gas station opposite the railroad yard on Park Street.

Not too long ago, but probably late in the last century, Campbell’s Market on South Main Street closed and was torn down. It was in the current parking lot adjacent to Jess Wiggins’ meat market which, thank goodness, is a fairly recent addition to our collection of small food stores. But we also lost the IGA supermarket next to Rockland Savings & Loan, a spot which was taken over by Autozone (where the people are so nice they will fit your new windshield wipers for you).

Now and then you hear reports in the news about whole regions of some larger U.S. cities that have nowhere left for people to buy groceries. They call them food deserts.

Talk to enough people who have lived a really long time in the Lime City, and you will be able to put together a veritable catalog of stores that are no longer there. We are a long way off becoming a food desert ourselves, but someone should keep an eye out.

* * * * *

At 2:44 p.m. Sunday, April 14, I got my first fly of the season. A nice fat fellow, he was obviously a novice at being a fly, showing no self-defense skills and taking no evasive action whatsoever. He went down in smoke after a single burst of gunfire from the imaginary fighter plane I keep in my head for just such purposes.

There was no sign of a parachute.

* * * * *

Speaking of neighborhood stores that are no longer there, what was once Fuller’s Market on Crescent and Pacific in the South End seems to have had its asbestos shingles torn off and carted away, leaving the wooden clapboards beneath as the building’s first layer of protection against the weather.

Several of us in the neighborhood are waiting with abated breath to see what will happen next. A coat of paint? Please, Lord, let it not be demolition.

* * * * *

Speaking of nothing much in particular, TV Channel 8 reported to a waiting world on April 10 that the ice was gone from Lake Chickawaukie. Thank goodness somebody was paying attention to these little details.

Of course, the highly trained news team couldn’t resist sniggering at the name of our dear lake, but then the weatherman went on to make a hack job of trying to pronounce Palermo in Waldo County. The closest he could get to saying it properly was “Palmero.”

* * * * *

Just finished reading a book by a Republican senator from Nebraska who has tried very hard to seriously analyze the current malaise gripping our fine nation.

I must say it was no surprise to me that the one dimension he chose to skip over in his investigation was the question of poverty. Rather, he characterized the heart of the problem by writing about the computers and cellphones that so mesmerize our fellow citizens these days, especially those citizens who are lonely, and the futile attempt by such folk to find a community to belong to out there in cyberspace.

He made the point that in the heatwave that killed several hundred people in Chicago in 1995, many dozens of cadavers were only found when their mortal remains began to stink. These were people who lived apart and alone in a city of 2.8 million, their disappearance unnoticed, their absence noted by nobody.

Of course, loneliness began before computers and cellphones, as he said. These devices have simply helped some people convert mere personal isolation into a kind of radiating paranoia-verse (my own phrase) of fellow lonely-hearts who feed upon and regurgitate all manner of conspiracy theories, hatred and general detestation, as they seek to identify with the online devotees of whichever wacko is broadcasting loudest at any given moment.

Personally, I miss the good old days when you had to tune into AM talk radio late at night to listen to Art Bell and his callers’ tales of alien abductions and government coverups.

Unfortunately, Mr. Bell appears to have died a year ago.

* * * * *

I see there was a break-in at South School over the weekend, and somebody stole medications. Sad.

However, we do live in a part of Maine that has very high levels of depression and, alongside it, abuse of pain-killing drugs. It is reported that about one person a day dies from an overdose in Vacationland.

Worse still, the radio broadcast a news story on April 15 about a "Kids Count" survey that says Maine children suffer from the highest rates of anxiety in the United States.

Adult depression and opioid abuse, and miserable children. So much for the Way Life Ought To Be, huh?

I don’t entirely buy the argument made by the honorable member from Nebraska, but something is seriously wrong out there, and I salute him for writing a book about it. Yet all we can get from the chaps in the other column on our op-ed page is a list of Bible verses, printed for Easter as though they were charms or spells, as though putting them on paper changes anything.

I tell you, gentlemen, the only time these words will mean anything to anybody is when we find the grace to live them.