Righteous Anguish

By David Grima | Oct 17, 2019

Received a mysterious message by e-mail, early Saturday morning:

“Dogs welcomed. Well behaved humans, as always, are optional. Just heard from Susan that is doing the Rockland documentary. She will be there filming. Pulled pork still in the oven. Been there since 11am. This is an organic event. Whatever happens, happens. Potluck but no worries if you are overtaxed and can’t decide what to bring. We have hotdogs and chips. BYOB though.”

Most curious! It sounds as though I missed something splendid. However, it’s not surprising. My ability to receive email in the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where I am forced to live, is rather non-existent.

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Also on Saturday, yet another email was had, equally mysterious in its nature:

“I have what I think is a pretty good idea, but first I should ask, are you a bicyclist? A bicyclist on a regular basis. Don’t worry.  It's not something I’d make money from.”

Possibly I will never know what this non-revenue-producing idea really is. Oh well, I’ll put it in the shoebox where I try to keep track of all the other things that have never earned me a red cent.

* * * * *

Well, I have started this week by providing snippets of stuff from my In Box, so I might as well continue in that vein. Last week I saw a fascinating item in the news about Maine and Finland:

“Governor Janet Mills and Finland Prime Minister Antti Rinne signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance forest sector collaboration, with a focus on forest bioeconomy innovation, at a signing ceremony today in Reykjavik, Iceland. The collaborative effort between the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Finland Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry established under the MOU will help leverage the culture, insights, strengths and resources of Maine and Finland to strengthen respective forest-based sectors and enhance forest health and sustainability in the face of climate change.”

Something in this item made me think of Dearly Beloved Lord Prez Trumpleton’s righteous anguish a year ago during the enormous wildfires in California, said to be a state west of here. The Lord Prez expressed the infallible opinion that if only Americans would sweep up the leaves in our forests like the Finns do, we’d not have such outrageous forest fires. Maybe part of this new international agreement involves Finland sending in teams of broom-wielding volunteers to the forests of Maine, to sweep them up and make things nice and safe from fire?

* * * * *

Last Thursday I got my first taste of what it means to try and work in a situation where people who strongly disagree on the issue are sitting in front of you, all trying to drag you to their side of the argument.

It should be no secret to anybody that, as punishment for my many sins, I was sentenced last year to serve as chair of the city’s Ad Hoc Harbor Plan Committee, a group of stalwart individuals charged by city council with solving all their problems concerning the harbor, including the question of what to do about large-scale cruise ship visits to Rockland.

Last week we began to talk about these large cruise vessels for the first time. We have been at work for more than 12 months, and normally we only have two or three members of the public in attendance during these highly stimulating meetings, but on this occasion there must have been upwards of 20, several of them loaded for bear. We doubled the normal amount of public comment time so that people could have their say, and added more at the end of the meeting.

Speaking only for myself, it felt like being compelled to walk through an unswept Maine forest in a time of drought during an electric storm. In my mind I could hear echoes of the robot who accompanied the Space Family Robinson on their eternal voyages during the 60s TV show “Lost in Space”. At some point in the show the large mechanical man would usually detect some unseen hazard ahead and announce in alarming tones “Danger, Will Robinson!” while gesticulating wildly with his flexible robotic arms.

Actually, the meeting was not that bad, and as usual I suppose I am exaggerating. But it was certainly an interesting experience, and I suppose there will be more of it this week.

* * * * *

I understand that plans to close up the Rockland landfill have received a stay of execution, as the city (or rather the state) has miraculously discovered extra space in the old limerock quarries where we have been stuffing our rubbish these many decades. It certainly beats dumping everything on the shore and letting the tide take it all away, which is what we used to do in Rockland. I understand that parts of the public landing and the ferry terminal parking lot are built on these primitive pre-war waste dumps.

When I settled in Rockland in the preceding century and was cutting timber to build our family’s first sod-roofed hut, the landfill was an enormous gaping cavity in the ground, and the transfer station had just been built nearby to help us ship much of our pesky trash away to somebody else’s town. Now the surface of the landfill towers above us like some modest municipal Mount Everest.

I must say that the introduction of recycling to my own domestic economy has helped me do my part to reduce our garbage bills, and some weeks more than half the waste generated in my little cardboard home (see above) is made up of recyclables rather than kitchen sludge. Oh, virtuous me!

* * * * *

I hear that Brecht’s version of the “Thruppenny Opera” is coming to an opera house 'near you' in about three weeks. I have spelled it that way to preserve the correct pronunciation, which is in British idiom. Furthermore, I am told that the highly trained American cast will attempt to deliver their lines with working class London accents. All they have to do to succeed is not sound like Dick Van Dyke’s chimney sweep character in “Mary Poppins”.

It’s going to be in Rockport, which has the opera house nearest to the Lime City.

Beware Macheath!

* * * * *

Speaking of British things, I saw the other day that a dependable reader has told a joke about three of the four or more types who make up that peculiar nation, written at the foot of the online version of last week’s column, and seeing as how I am obviously in a quoting mood this week, I will share it:

“I am reminded of a joke. All three were having tea when they discovered they each had a fly in their cup. The Englishman properly asked the waiter to replace it. The Irishman stated that it was no big deal, removed the fly with a spoon, and drank the tea. The Scotsman picked up the fly gently by its wings and said "Spit it out, laddie, spit it out."

It’s a good joke, but when I first heard it, it was not a quantity of tea the Scotsman was trying to recover but whiskey.

David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at davidgrima@ymail.com.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Steven Cornforth | Oct 18, 2019 09:30

Shame David - it's whisky

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Oct 17, 2019 15:13

I ponder the joke and finally got out a HA! Love catching up with Rockland and your news David!

Here in AZ now and love to keep in touch, so I do read your comments with admiration and mirth.

Mary "Mickey" (Brown) McKeever +;0).....

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