It has come around again. My mother’s birthday. She would have been 105 today, which reminds me that she died so long ago … more than 30 years, now. This melody, A Mother’s Waltz, is dedicated to mothers and seems a fitting reminder of mine.

It echoes in my mind, as if I remember hearing my mother hum it a long time ago … but of course, it is new from swo8 Blues JazzBut it’s that kind of melody. It resonates.

The pictures of my family include my mother, me, much younger and my son as a toddler. Pictures of Garry’s family include his mother and father’s wedding, Garry’s dad back from WWII with little Garry on his knee. Garry’s mom as a young woman.

The pictures are family heirlooms that evoke strong and sometimes conflicted feelings.

Music by swo8 with pictures from Leslie Martel (swo8) and Marilyn Armstrong. Memories in music for all mothers everywhere.

FROM swo8 (Leslie Martel): This is Marilyn and my second collaboration. We’ve created a montage photographic memories — families together. It includes eight generations of my family and three of Marilyn and Garry Armstrong’s families.

The song is bittersweet because to be a mother, is indeed bittersweet. Our children bring us our greatest joys and our greatest sorrows. The first couple in the video are my great-grandparents. My great-grandmother died in childbirth leaving 3 babies and a husband.

When my great-grandfather remarried the children were sent off to their aunt to be raised. The aunt is the lady sitting by the fire-place. The first photo of children is of my grandmother and her twin sisters. My grandmother being the oldest would have missed her mother the most. In spite of her early losses she became an extraordinary person and had a huge influence on me and my thinking.

To be a mother has got to be one of the most difficult endeavours to under take in one’s life. We are given this helpless creature for a short period of time to nourish, educate and inspire before they disappear into the ether of adulthood.

“Mother’s Waltz,” music by swo8 Blues Jazz and photography by Marilyn Armstrong and Leslie Martel. 

For more about my mom:



Prompts for the Promptless: Remembering Mom



This week’s topic is Building and Trees. Any building, any tree as long as they are in the same photo.


There are trees everywhere in the valley. I don’t believe you can find any building without a tree.



Without the dramatic colors of other seasons, I love the subtle gradations of color and light.


Can you see the house (above) tucked in between the trees?


house by whitins pond november


Gratefully Guilty 

Afternoon walk - Tombstone

This prompt is 100% rerun. And this response is the identical (except for a teeny tiny bit of editing) response I made the first time around, on June 23, 2013. I keep saying: if you are going to re-issue the same prompts, I’m going to republish what I wrote in response. Not that anyone from WordPress pays the least bit of attention to what we write. You guys up there think we are really not very bright, don’t you.

No matter how sophisticated we become, how many degrees in film, literature or the arts we obtain, we keep our guilty pleasures. By which I mean the movies, books, books, and television shows we know aren’t great — and may be really dumb.

It doesn’t matter. We love them anyway.


I have a whole bushel of them, ranging from television shows about vampires with glowing eyes (Forever Knight), to reruns of the original Lassie. I’m a sucker for any movie featuring a non-human, be it cat, dog, horse, or sea creature. I’ll watch pretty much anything in which Candice Bergen starred or was at least featured. I’ll watch anything from any season of any Star Trek, even if I’ve seen it a hundred times.

I love comedies by Mel Brooks, even the bad ones because they make me laugh. Ditto the Zucker brothers for the same reason. If you can make me laugh, you’ve got me. Sometimes, I watch things that are unintentionally funny … Xena, Princess Warrior comes to mind. I don’t know whether it was supposed to be funny, but it made me laugh until I cried.

My lists of favorite movies, books and television shows are a study in contrasts. I love The Lion In Winter and The Seventh Seal. I love Airplane and Hotshots Deux. I never miss a run of Best Of Show or A Mighty Wind. Or the original version of The Haunting.  From the sublime to the ridiculous, I will watch or read whatever grabs my fancy or makes me laugh without discrimination.


It’s one of the reasons I think that “awards” like the Golden Globes and the Oscars need many more categories. How can you put a screwball comedy against a serious drama and have any kind of sensible outcome? It would be like having a dog show that included camels and goats. It wouldn’t matter how beautiful a goat or camel you have entered, it would never win Best of show.

What makes you laugh? What cheers you up when you’ve got the blues? Are you a secret fan of Gilligan’s Island or Love Boat? Time to come clean!



The mums look surprisingly good, especially considering the temperatures dipped down into the low 20s last night.


It’s “hard freeze” time. Winter has tipped his hat. Reminded us he’s waiting in the wings. Dressed for the show. Are you ready?


The chrysanthemums continue to bloom, the last of the flowers to give up.

You have to admire their determination. Hail, oh mums! You are the staunchest of our flowers, our most intrepid, doughty floral citizens.

If you like flowers, check out Cee’s Flower of the Day!


It must be something about me. Dishes come back. First there was the Spode’s Tower, about which I wrote several times.

Spode Tower Pink

Spode Tower Pink

This time, it’s Wedgewood.

This morning, a large rather heavy carton arrived via UPS. It was from my sister-in-law who lives in northern Maine. I haven’t seen her for a long time, though we’ve emailed back and forth occasionally and exchanged Christmas presents and cards.

There was a card taped to the box which said “OPEN ME FIRST.”


Translated into years and a timeline, Garry — the man to whom I have been married for 25 years — was my first husband’s (now deceased) best friend and my son’s godfather. He had just come back from vacationing in Ireland when Jeff and I were married. It was August 1965 when I first owned the Wedgewood — a mere 50 years ago.

Jeff and I separated in 1978. My son and I went to live in Israel at the end of that year and didn’t come back until 1987.

Garry gave Jeff and I the Wedgewood as a wedding present. I didn’t take it to Israel, so Jeff gave it to his mother. She loved it. Moreover, she had room to display it.


Grandma Kraus died last year at 103. This morning, the Wedgewood came home. It is — for now — on the coffee table in the living room. I’m not sure what to do with it. I guess it can live on the coffee table, at least until Garry does laundry and needs to sort it, something he does on the big glass coffee table. Which is useless for any other purpose, unless you count barking your shins as useful.


And so, another set of dishes has come home. I don’t know or can’t remember if any other china, porcelain, or pottery is lurking in my past. For all I know, it’s in the mail, winging its way back to me.

Life is circular. Really. Circular. Stuff comes back. Especially dishes.


BaryshnikovWhen I was a girl, my mother took me to the ballet. Not the classic Nutcracker Suite that mommies take their little girls to see, but the New York City Ballet Company, with Balanchine still at the helm. I left the theater  feeling light as a snowflake, sure that I’d found my future … that all I needed were a few lessons, a pair of those cool ballet slippers and I could leap and twirl on my tippy toes just like the stars at the ballet.

bolshoiI had not accounted for the klutz factor. I was very young and sure that wanting it badly enough would make it happen.

But, I had no talent for dance. I tried everything from ballet, through tap, to jazz and belly dancing — with the same results. I survived the disappointment.

For anyone who likes dance … even if you don’t … check out the  delicious parody of classical ballet from the “Fantasia.” No matter how many times I see it, it always makes me laugh. You have to love hippos in tutus.

If this doesn’t make you laugh, maybe you were replaced by a pod while you slept.