Given the furor over gay marriage, it should have come as no surprise that there would be hysterical outrage over the legalized joining of humans with their favorite device, animal, mineral, or plant.

As soon as the technology became available, millions of teenagers raced to fuse with their cell phones, nerds with their computers, aviators with fighter planes, animal rights activists with their favorite vanishing species (leading some to wonder if this will not signal the death knell for many species) and tree huggers with large forests. Fundamentalist Christian groups — never imagining the far-reaching implications of this law — scrambled to get out of church and on the street.


“Clearly,” stated the Reverend Righteous P. Indignation, spokesman for the Church of the Ridiculous Assumption, “This is not what God had in mind. Although the Bible does not specifically mention marriage — or fusion — with non-human things, this can’t be right in His eyes.” Indignation’s statement was greeted by catcalls, neighing, bleats, beeps and a goodly amount of shrill ringing.

Many, mirroring the human yearning for the freedom of flight have chosen to form a union with some kind of bird. Eagles were most popular, with geese, swans, and other water fowl close behind. Racing enthusiasts have become mostly horse, often with the rear end as the dominant segment while their bookies have chosen chainsaws and jack hammers.

While corporations hustled to reinvent themselves in light of a weirdly altered target audience, communications providers from television to Hollywood tried to reconfigure everything from seating in stadiums to snacks at movie kiosks.

The potential impact on major sports has not yet been calculated. Some prefer to be a ball and others a bat, so to speak.

Only Walmart, ever sanguine, merely widened aisles in super-stores.

“We never care what customers look like,” said a spokesman. “If they look or behave like sheep or cattle, as long as they pay at the register, everyone is welcome at Wally World.”


If you own pets, buying a vacuum cleaner is a big deal. Regular non-pet owning people go to a store and buy a vacuum. Any reasonably good machine will do the job and last for years.


For those of us who have more than one furry friend, buying a vacuum cleaner is a major life event.

In this house, pet hair is not a sidebar: it is, as David Frye says, a condiment. During high shedding season, the house looks like someone slashed open a cushion and spread the stuffing around. Vacuuming and sweeping is a daily task. Failing to vacuum for a couple of days might make the house a candidate for condemnation.

When our Australian Shepherd is blowing his coat, no amount of vacuuming is enough. Everything is covered in fur. I always swore I would never own a dog with so much fur, but promises are made to be broken.


If you happen to own a heavy coated dog or cat (or several), you are always looking for a better vacuum cleaner. It’s a mission. Thus a purchase is an event requiring consultation, discussion and complex negotiations.

What are the parameters? Mostly, that baby has to suck. I want a machine that will pull the wall-to-all off the floor, suck the cushions off the sofa and eat the draperies.

Bonnie morning

It has to be easy to clean because pet hair really clogs the works.

Last, but far from least, there’s the price tag. If I don’t keep clearing it, no vacuum will survive. Small, light machines are a waste of money. Cheap gets expensive when you have to replace it twice in three years.

After burning out two vacuum cleaners in a year, we got a Hoover Commercial Portapower Vacuum Cleaner.

Small and agile, it has done surprisingly well. The review that sold me said: “This little commercial vacuum cleaner is one of the best buys out there. I can clean up Great Pyrenees hair with ease and empty out the bag and start over again without clogging up the vacuum like other machines I have killed with dog hair.”

So far, so good. Against all odds, it is still working. Now, does anyone have a recommendation for an upright? Something that will really suck, please.


26 August 2015: GEESE

It’s Frisbee Wednesday again. Time just scoots right past me and this summer has been a blur, a whoosh of color. Bright blue skies and puffy white clouds. Spider bites and boats. Green shade trees on the town common and the cool green waters of the river.

This is the 20th prompt I’ve done. I am having trouble accounting for at least 20 weeks of my life.

And today … it’s …

Goosey goosey gander,
Whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs
And in my lady’s chamber.
There I met an old man
Who wouldn’t say his prayers,
So I took him by his left leg
And threw him down the stairs.

Nursery Rhyme by Mother Goose

These were wild geese. They were willing to share space with us … as long as we didn’t get too close.

The geese were not afraid of us, nor were they tame. Not “office park” geese either. The geese who take up residence in parking lots will boldly go where no goose has gone before, are afraid of nothing. At least nothing human.

We did our best to be stealthy. No door slamming, driving into the parking lot slowly, quietly. No talking. Getting the cameras out in the car, then walking softly, getting as close as we could without making the birds nervous.

Having long zoom lenses on our cameras helped too.

And then. there was the day I encountered this goose. He pretty much posed for me, giving me his good side. Sidling right up to me, apparently wanting a handout.


Turned out, he was a domestic, pet goose from a nearby farm who just dropped by and wanted to be paid for his personal appearance.


As usual, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to pick one of my pictures or any of your own photographs and write about it. Directly, tangentially, sadly or with humor.

This message will self destruct in …

FIVE … FOUR … THREE … TWO … ONE … (long pause) …


Oops, still here. Never mind.


We’ve been on a roll these past few days, the “angst mojo” temporarily set aside.


Now, we’re home, after spending a couple of wonderful days in Connecticut with old friends, sharing memories that date back to college and the 60’s when we and our world were young.

Ellin and Tom are special folks. Ellin gets top billing because she’s so quiet and often taken for granted.


She is the hostess — no matter what else she is coping with in her family life. She’s the woman you thought only existed in the movies or those old TV shows where everything is seemingly perfect.


Ellin is multi-talented. Superb cook, budding author, wife and mom. She’s humble about all her achievements. Amazing when she is surrounded by two guys with 80 plus years combined in radio and TV news. Guys who are often nonstop with their stories about the BIZ. Ellin and Marilyn have a special bond in that respect.

Gracious, I think, is the best word to describe Ellin. Like us, she and Tom always have furry kids around who brighten their lives. It’s nice to visit and come back with fur on our clothing. Makes it seem just like home.

Tom is the kid  who never grew up. We’ve known him since JFK was in the oval office. He is recently retired after 40 years as a highly respected director and audio expert with CBS News.

He’s still active, producing and directing cracker jack (does anyone say that anymore?) radio drama. Tom and Ellin actually are an impressive acting, writing and jack-of-all-trades team in radio drama that deserves a wider audience. Their work is far superior to the stuff being offered by network suits.


A day on Tom and Ellin’s boat is just what the doctor ordered for Marilyn and me. It’s a perfect day. Sunny, warm and with just a slight breeze. Surprise! Ellin has a lunch spread ready before we can settle in.

It allows me to fantasize as I survey other boats. Maybe we’ll see Bogey on Santana, Travis McGee and The Busted Flush, Slate Shannon with Bold Venture or maybe Grant and Hepburn on  True Love. Who knows what can happen as you dream?

My reverie is interrupted as Tom shares some more stories that have all of us roaring with laughter. In between we compare family drama that have us nodding at each other.


Then it’s back to more silliness and laughter. These are the best of times.

All photography by Garry Armstrong or Marilyn Armstrong with the Pentax Q7.

SERENDIPITY PHOTO PROMPT 2015 #18 — CHAI — 8-12-2015


Chai - 18 - Life

This is the 18th Serendipity Photo Prompt.

Eighteen in Hebrew is “Chai,” which means life. Every ending contains the seed of a beginning. 

Today is our little dog Nan’s date with destiny. We’ve been looking for a way out of this. Trying to find any excuse to make it unnecessary. Make it not true.

Nan Xmas

Life and death are imperatives. No matter how we parse it, Nan has run out her string. She can’t hear, barely sees, can’t manage the stairs. She has little sense of smell and often isn’t sure who we are — or for that matter, who she is.

All of which accounts for my dour mood.


Simultaneously, Amber, the mini-dachshund, has breast cancer. She isn’t well, isn’t happy, won’t eat. I suspect her final days are approaching too.

dogs with bishop and gar

One is hard. Two are very hard.


The only good side of all of this is that finally, the family is acting like a family and pulling together. Setting blame aside, now it’s time to do what needs to be done for the good of the creatures we love.


It has been a good week for pictures. Garry and I took a lot of pictures in town recently. At the dam, on the Commons.


The commons is that big green lawn in the middle of most New England towns. Boston’s got a huge one, Uxbridge has a rather small one.

The Commons

The Commons

Originally, these green spaces were called commons because they were a common area where everyone could graze sheep.


Yes, all you cowboys. Sheep. Because sheep give wool and wool becomes warm clothing, sweaters, stockings, coats. Even big Pilgrim hats.


Winter in the northeast is a cruel mistress. We need all that wood to make the warm clothing that keeps us from freezing. We thank our friends, the sheep, for their donations. And let them graze on the Commons.

You can write anything about anything, as long as you link a picture to the story. You can link several pictures and more than one story. This is a free writing challenge. Have fun.



“If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride … ” – Old Proverb


I do not know what a wish looks like, though I think it might look like a rising sun over a glassy harbor. Beggar that I am, I wish for a horse to ride and one more.


Gentle, well-school mounts so Garry and I can ride together again. And, I wish all of us the best life can give us — many sunrises on the shores of bright summer days.