Bonnie turned 8 this past Halloween. She joined our household when she was a mere 9 weeks old, rather younger than I will usually take a puppy. She was a rescue and her temporary home had too many other puppies … so she joined us as a baby Scottish Terrier.


Is there anything cuter than a baby Scottie?


I don’t think so. From her first day, she was absolutely adorable, funny, playful. Charming in the extreme. We were still mourning the passing of Divot, our Norwich Terrier, but somehow, Bonnie broke through the grief and gamboled into our hearts.


Since day one, she has been a uniquely smart and funny little dog. Also, by a big margin, the most uncooperative photo subject. Ever. Anywhere.

She sees cameras as The Enemy. She will run far and fast … or crowd the lens so you can’t focus. Barring the first two options, she will hide in shadow so her dark fur and eyes meld into an indistinguishable lump of fuzz.

My most successful picture of Bonnie in which she has eyes!

My most successful picture of Bonnie in which she has eyes!

I took more pictures of her today. She sat there. She waited for me to focus and shoot. I’m sure she was laughing at me because she knows I will never get a good picture of her in natural light.

She’s a black dog with black eyes. Bushy eyebrows. All light comes from the window behind her. Backlighting makes a difficult photographic situation impossible.


Next time, I need to use a faster lens because in all of these pictures, she has no eyes. At least she has a pink tongue. That’s something.

I’m not ready to give up. Someday I will get her in good light, groomed, eyes open. Sparkling white smile. She’s slowing down, so any day now.

dogs on stairs

Should you decide to accept this challenge, you can use a picture from this or any post of mine  — or any other picture you like. Write something about the picture or make something up, using a photograph — any photo — as a jumping off point.



We’ve had company for the past couple of days. It including taking a time out from blogging.


Spending some much-needed, real up close and personal time with someone from the good old days about which we talk.


There aren’t many people left who were there, in those days. Who remember …

Garry with dogs and me at home. Photo by Ben Taylor

Garry with dogs and me at home. Photo by Ben Taylor


Questions: I’ve got a vial of truth serum. To whom should I give it? Why should I give it? If I could figure out why… but ...

Answer: I can’t imagine ever giving a “truth” drug to anyone. I’m not a cop. I’m not military. I cannot imagine any situation in which I would need “the truth” at any cost and would need a drug to obtain it. I might give it to the dogs, just to find out which of our many kinds of biscuits they prefer.




Bonnie? Amber? Bishop? Would you prefer chewy or crunchy? Salmon or chicken flavored? Greenie? Arf? You mean … all of the above. Okie dokie.? You must be telling me the truth because I dosed your kibble.

Dogs lie. You just can’t trust them, but now, at last, I know the truth.


Photography by Garry and Marilyn Armstrong

It takes a village to raise a child. It take two photographers and a lot of coaxing to photograph a Scottish Terrier.


You could say that Garry and I teamed up … but I think if you were Bonnie, you’d say we ganged up. On her.


Forced her to sit still. Coerced her into letting us see her eyes. How undignified!


Although more than half the shots were blurry, we got a few we like. Presenting Bonnie. With and without her favorite person.



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.


We’re going through a difficult period, mostly because of the dogs. Dogs getting old and sick. Having to deal with stuff we don’t want to deal with.

Everything has hit at the same time. All the family drama and three out of four dogs ill or aging. That’s a lot. Garry and I are by turns, depressed, distressed, and exhausted. Not feeling much like partying.

kitchen in hadley

Everything has a cost. Nothing is simple.

Our son gave us a new television, which was great because the one we had was getting on in years. It still works fine, but it’s an older technology. Difficult to find equipment that will work with it. We were going to have to trade up, like it or not. Getting a new television was good thing, a positive thing about which to be glad. Right?

The new one is significantly sharper, almost like 3-D. But (there’s always a but), the old one had pretty good speakers.  The new one has speakers that wouldn’t be good enough for a laptop, much less a television. Not only could Garry not hear it, I couldn’t hear it either. If I turned it up loud enough, it over-modulated, buzzed, and emitted a high-pitched whistle that gave me an instant headache.


I had to get some kind of sound system. Without money to invest in a premium system, I found a sound bar on Amazon. Tonight, we have television sound again. Following three days using headphones all the time, what a relief! I feel like we’ve overcome at least one crisis.

I know it sounds trivial. It is trivial. Just $100 on a credit card. Voila. Problem solved. It was one more thing on top of all the other things. Somehow, it seemed a bigger deal than it ought.

That’s the thing with trivial problems when they show up together with serious ones. When you’ve got enough stress, anything that happens feels like a big deal. Feels like more than the nothing it really is. Small things feel much more important than they are, get more attention than they deserve.


I got a new lens for my Olympus. A great little f1.8 25 mm lens. Came with a lens hood. But I couldn’t put the lens hood on because there was no thread on the front of the lens. So I called Adorama, from whom I bought the lens. I told them there was no damned thread, so I couldn’t use the hood.

It took them a week to get back to me. There is, they explained (it took them a week to track down this information) a decorative ring on the lens. Remove it and the hood screws on.

They couldn’t include a slip of paper with the lens to tell me there was a decorative ring covering the thread on the front of the lens? The whole “we don’t need no stinking instructions” attitude by the tech industry is pissing me off. Just one more aggravation on top of other aggravations.

Finally, here’s the ultimate stupid problem.

There’s a fly in the house. A regular house fly. Every time he flies past my face, I feel a ground swell of rage, that this stupid fly won’t go away. How long does a fly live? This fly has so far been buzzing around for three days. Isn’t that too long? Just saying.

fuchsia macro june 2015

The dogs. The family drama. Every little hassle that should be nothing is exaggerated because we’re already stressed.

Soon, it will pass. It always passes. My mother’s favorite saying was “This too shall pass” and truly, everything will settle down. All will be well.

In the meantime, forgive me. I’m cranky.