Two sticks straight enough to use

By David Grima | Feb 08, 2013

Ever since the woman wearing pink pajama pants in the Rockland library expressed sympathy with mass shooters the other week, I have been thinking about grown adults who wear children’s clothing.

Something depressing has happened to the mass clothing market in recent years. You see people all over the place wearing the stylistic equivalent of children’s clothes, only now manufactured in sizes L, XL and XXL.

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Speaking of a drop-off in quality, I notice the chopsticks now being provided at a local restaurant have definitely declined in effectiveness. I think they have switched brands, and the ones you get now are often 50 percent bent and hard to eat with. The other day I had to get two or three pairs, in order to find two sticks straight enough to use.

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The bent chopsticks do have some use, if only as kindling for my modest attempts to obtain warmth from the tiny hearth up here on top of the grain tower.

As I am sure you will agree, it has been a little frosty at night recently. I am making as much use as possible of the pigeon and seagull feathers that I can salvage. But at least the sun is rising earlier and setting later. The other night there was still a kind of daylight at 5 p.m., and I could clearly see the mice at the top of the west tower as they scurried desperately to escape from the one-legged gull.

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I see we are in the middle of another supermarket eruption, something that seems to happen about once a decade.

One reads that Shaw’s laid off hundreds of workers across Maine late last year, and was then sold to a company called Cerberus. Then Hannaford's parent company, Delhaize America, cut its number of executive employees by 25 percent, according to Maine Biz, which also reported that Delhaize cut nearly 5,000 employees from its Food Lion supermarket chain located in a state farther south than us.

Next, we see that Hannaford in Rockland is undergoing an internal facelift, which among other things has the effect of moving products from familiar locations and putting them somewhere entirely different.

And of course preparation has begun for construction of the Super Walmart in Thomaston which will feature a vast supermarket, and must be seen by everyone else as serious competition. This inevitably means that Walmart will stop using its store in Rockland, making it available for use by another retailer.

This is where it gets personal, because my long-range economic plans for the grain towers involved attracting some fascinating business to move into the west tower, to provide some additional interest here in the extreme south-east corner of the South End.

But I fear the surplus Walmart store will almost certainly prove more attractive to any entrepreneur than my humble tower, and so my dreams of financial security are already starting to fade.

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Heard a story the other evening about a local fellow who has “flown under the radar” for many a year. One day at long last he bought a computer, and began emailing people all over the planet.

Soon after this he started getting messages back from people he used to know, saying they were astonished to hear from him. They had assumed he was dead, and had apparently even held a memorial service for him.

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On Sunday morning I heard and saw Canada geese at the ‘Keag, and could not help trying to interpret it as a sign about the season.

We so much want spring to arrive, and are often willing to suspend all rational thought in order to fool ourselves into thinking it is happening when it isn’t.

Why, I hear there are people in Pennsylvania who believe they have hold of a poor dumb animal that can help them forecast how long winter will last. This is the nature of people. We insist we are rational as can be, yet we will believe anything that gives us hope.

It is the animals that are rational, not us, and we know it. Any time we see an animal that is not behaving rationally, we conclude it has gone insane so we shoot it to end its suffering. But if we were to cull people who are acting irrationally the planet would soon be an intolerable slaughterhouse. At the very least we would have to start by getting rid of people who are in love. Next would be the poets, of whom very few are left anyway.

With people, I am forced to conclude, it is the crazy ones who do the shooting.

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Meanwhile the deterioration of my ruinous property at Linden Street continues apace. Not only did the little wooden house itself sink completely into the mud last spring, obliging me to move into these battlemented towers, but now the last remaining scrap of fencing has been laid low, a consequence of last week’s strong winds.

It wasn’t much of a fence, as fences go. But it was my fence. And now it is gone.

Sigh, oh sigh.

I did see my house briefly a few weeks back, when I think some sort of subterranean frost heave momentarily thrust it up above the surface again.

I was able to force my way inside and bring out a few books, a chipped coffee mug, a clean pair of socks, and some cornflakes with which to improve my diet of wild grass and grocery store dumpster specials. But after only a day or two the frost moved again and it all sank back into the pit.

The cornflakes did not last me very long at all, and in fact the bloody seagulls got most of them. But I still have the books, including “Monkeys I Have Known” by Edward Gibbon, and “How to Live With Suspicious Seabirds” by Cyril Gulliver.

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The concrete lions are back on the steps at the house on South Main Street, each wrapped in a pink scarf. I had thought the scarves were for warmth against the cold, but apparently concrete lions do not feel cold so they must mean something else.

I wonder if the concrete lions are related at all to the Food Lion?

David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at, or by leaving a message under the broken fence.

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