The morning ritual begins with a trudge out to the roadside box to get the Kennebec Journal. I’ve been amazed some snowy mornings that our carrier somehow got here to deliver the paper — an extraordinary effort that I appreciated. The newspaper is as important to my mornings as the coffee.

The rocking chair is turned around so I can look out the large kitchen window at the bird feeder and front lawn. With coffee and bagel on the small table beside me, I am ready to begin reading. At some point Linda heads off to her first grade classroom, but I often sit here for an hour, thoroughly nosing through the newspaper.

Here’s how it went on Thursday, March 5. Lots of interesting news on the front page. Governor LePage decides to alienate his Republican legislators by threatening to campaign against any who oppose his tax plan. Don’t I wish he understood the art of compromise.

But it’s something else at the end of Steve Mistler’s report that jumped out at me. The governor was touting his tax plan in a speech to the conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center’s board of directors, when he stopped talking about Portland and said, “The press is here so I won’t tell you what I tried to do.” So much for his promise of the most open administration in our history!

Keith Edwards’ report on cuts being considered by the Augusta school board include Latin classes. I took three years of Latin and found it very valuable — it’s the basis of much of our language and vocabulary.

Kevin Miller’s story about the minimum wage hike indicated a very divided Legislature, despite the fact that most Mainers support it.

Once I’ve completed the front page, I like to skip around.

On page D3 a huge headline grabbed my attention, “UN sounds sugar alarm.” New guidelines from the World Health Organization say we’re eating too much sugar. AP Reporter Maria Cheng suggested that one thing we’d have to give up is beer. Noooooo!

Right below that, I learn that McDonald’s will drop human antibiotics from chicken. The chicken change will occur within the next two years. No hurry, I guess!

In Annie’s Mailbox, a lady writes, “My husband and I have been married for 10 years, but I sometimes wonder whether I love him or am just used to having him around.” Yikes! I hope Linda doesn’t read that.

I don’t spend a lot of time on the sports pages any more — most of that news comes to me more quickly online. But I do enjoy Randy Whitehouse’s columns. And on this day, Herb Wilson’s birding column appears, but I’ve already read that in the previous Sunday Telegram.

The editorial page always interests me (and not just on Wednesdays). Doug Rooks’ column this day offers some good ideas for a better tax reform plan. One of the most popular sections of any newspaper is the letters to the editor, for good reason. This morning I particularly enjoyed the exchange of thoughts on the debate about the Skowhegan Indians.

Maureen Milliken’s columns are always interesting, and today she’s reminiscing about delivering the KJ on a paper route in what she calls “the good old days of my 1970s childhood.” Yes, she’s been in the newspaper business a long time!

The St. Michael’s blessing of Augusta police Chief Robert Gregoire was heartwarming. The families and students hosted a basketball game to raise money for the chief, who is recovering after a motorcycle crash.

Occasionally there is good news in the paper amidst the murder, mayhem, and tragedy. I read that Italian owners are investing $6 million in their Lewiston’s System Logistics plant, a reminder that we are competing in a global economy.

But oh, so much of the news is bad. Headlines include: Maine heating prices continue their climb, Rome man hurt after truck rolls over, Fire in Litchfield, Cable murder jury hears tape of accused, Portland man sentenced for his role in drug ring, Eight indicted in guns-for-heroin scheme, Palmyra man charged with sexual assault, Marathon murder trial begins, Mine explosion kills at least 24 in Ukraine, and Hundreds evacuated in S. Africa wildfires. And I haven’t even got to the Police blotter.

Thank goodness this is the day the Travelin Mainer(rs) column is published, to lift your spirits!

And then, on the back page, a story from Tokyo reports, “The world’s oldest person says 117 years doesn’t seem like such a long time.” Apparently she doesn’t read a newspaper.

George Smith is a writer and TV talk show host. He can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or [email protected]. Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.