BLANKETS

We live in New England. It gets cold. Not West Coast cold. We get the real deal, including bitter days with the temperature below zero and piles of ice and snow through which only a snow plow (maybe) can pass.

We do have a heating system and good insulation, but we are always just a little bit cold, especially in the spring and fall when I’m not ready to start (or restart) the heat.

We love our blankets.

There are blankets in the guest room

We have a big comforter in our bedroom

But the biggest, most determined blanket maven in the house is Bonnie. The crate in the corner is her house and in it are her blankets. Many blankets. Periodically, we pull all the blankets out and run them through the laundry. Garry lovingly folds them and puts them neatly in Bonnie’s house.

Bonnie gives him That Look. After which she goes in her crate. Pulls the pile apart, drags each blanket out of the crate, then drags them back in. She then rearranges them until they form that perfect pile in which she will be completely at her ease. She also drags everything else in there, too. Biscuits, toys, pieces of old cardboard boxes and anything else she has found and decided to save.

She is very particular about the arrangement of her blankets. We may not be able to see the careful organization, but she knows. Don’t go messing with her blankets. She will have to start all over again, pulling them out, dragging them back in. It’s a busy life for a small, black Scottish Terrier.

BARBERSHOP AROUND THE CORNER – GARRY ARMSTRONG (WITH NEW PICTURES)

Haircuts can be a complex problem for a guy. Nay, you say?

Yay, I say — if you’re a man of color.

Not all barbers can cut “our kind” of hair. It’s one of America’s darker secrets. If one has curly, sometimes called “kinky” hair, barbers are befuddled and sometimes nervous. White barbers. Fellas used to the electric razor and scissors to trim the smooth hair of boys, teens, men, and even older gents with fair skin.

It’s a sensitive, ethnic thing.

Growing up, I always went to black-owned and operated barber shops in our diverse neighborhoods. No worries. You asked for a summer or winter haircut. Close or maybe moderate — to accommodate the weather. Awaiting my time in the barber chair, I’d peruse the men’s magazines with pictures that stimulated my growing body. The air was usually full of cigar smoke and raunchy conversation with much laughter. One of the barbers would caution there were kids in the shop. The laughter only got louder with someone slapping me on the shoulder. I remember those days with great affection.

Fast forward through the decades. It’s 1970 and I’m a newly arrived TV news reporter in Boston. Predominantly WHITE Boston. I was living IN Boston, five minutes away from downtown businesses and the TV station. There were several barber shops or men’s hair stylists in the area.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

I tried one recommended by the star anchorman whose blonde, carefully layered coif was a thing of beauty.

I could feel the stares as I entered the ornate hair salon. I waited a few, very long moments until a gent who looked like the old time actor William Powell approached me. His white barber jacket had perfect creases. He offered a polite smile while informing me his shop could not properly “address” my kind of hair. I smiled and left, quietly seething inside.

I needed a trim before making my Boston television début.  So it was that I instantly became a celebrity client at the local barber’s college. It wasn’t pretty.

Word spread quickly and I received a call from Boston Mayor Kevin White’s office. A day later, I had a personal barber. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship that lasted more than 30 years.

GARRY’S PHOTOGRAPHS OF OUR TOWN AND THE BARBER SHOP


Fast forward again, maybe another 10 years. Now retired and living in small town New England,  I had no real need for spiffy hair cuts. However, I still traveled a distance because I didn’t trust any of our local barbers who didn’t seem eager to get my business.

MARILYN’S PICTURES OF THE BARBER SHOP AND GARRY


We were now living on a fixed income. It seemed silly to travel that distance and pay $40 (plus tip) for a fancy hair salon clip with my receding hairline. I summoned up my old Marine Corps courage and decided to check out a local, corner barbershop.  The classic barber’s pole beckoned me. I entered and surprise —  smiles and friendly greetings. I walked over to the available barber and quietly, awkwardly asked if he could cut “my” hair. He smiled broadly and said, “No problem, Bro”.  It was the beginning of another beautiful friendship.

Eddie knew his stuff. He smiled as I removed my hearing aids and told him I was in his hands.  Ten minutes later and I was a new man with a crisply trimmed coif that managed to hide some of the growing shiny spots atop my head.

Eddie would tell me he prided himself with his work. It was his way of saying ethnicity was not an issue. His biggest issue? Smart-aleck kids with overbearing parents. Eddie soon opened his own shop. He branched to a second operation and is a well-respected fella in our small town. Yes, I’ve recommended him to other people of varying ethnicities.

There are no men’s magazines with adult photographs in Eddie’s place. He’s sensitive to the young people who come through the door. There are lots of interesting pictures on the wall,  most guaranteed to make you smile.

If you’re in our town and need a haircut, stop in at Eddie’s place. You’ll like him.

You’ll love his prices.

WANDERLUST IN THE SONORAN DESERT

PHOTO CHALLENGE: WANDERLUST


Ironwood in the desert

For a woman raised in New York and living in Massachusetts, the desert is another world. The colors of the sky. The mountains jutting into the sky and giant cacti growing across the landscape. We have spent two vacations in Arizona and each has been glorious.

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017

WHEN YOU NEED TO FIND A SECTION – CROPPING

THURSDAY’S SPECIAL: SECTION – CROPPING


A pair of red finchess

Today I saw a bird I didn’t recognize. At first I thought it was an immature Cardinal, but when I got a closer look, I saw that the beak was not rose or red, but white. There were two birds: a pale grey-beige female and a matching male with a red-head and a gray-beige body. Both have pale beaks and they can’t be Cardinals.

Heavily cropped but sadly, not sharp — so — I went for artistic. You can, at least, see the colors properly

I went on line and couldn’t find any local birds resembling them. I dug out my books … and the only bird these two can be are a pair of red finches, birds that were introduced here as caged birds in the 1940s and 1950s. They appear to be building a nest in the tree in front of my picture window.

The male of the species

In any case, I can’t find anything else they could be. They are known to be occasional, accidental travelers to this region, but are rare. The good news? These are big time insect eaters. Maybe they heard about our massive attack of Gypsy caterpillars and moved here for the chow. Maybe we can get a whole flock of them? I’d like that!

They have been on the branch in front of my window on and off for the past four or five days. Today, they were in my view much of the day and I badly wanted pictures. The only way I could shoot them would be through my picture window. And the branch on which they have decided to perch is far off to the left side of the window. A difficult angle at best.

I shot more than 100 pictures of the birds and maybe a half-dozen were remotely acceptable. All of these have been cropped, some heavily. All the pictures were blurry. Streaked windows, too many branches, buds, and leaves. I can’t shoot them from the ground — they would be invisible in the tree. These are as good as I’ll get. More than a little frustrating.

If anyone has a better idea what these birds might be, I’d be happy to hear from you! They do look like red finches. If they are moving in here, that will be great for the birds and as far as I am concerned, every bug-eating bird and bat is welcome to settle down on my place.

Beautiful birds, your dinner is waiting. Come and get it!

ROOTS: ROOM FOR REALITY?

I’m not thrilled with news. Any news. I can’t abide right-wing lies based on the exact opposite of what happened, especially when they are talking about things through which I lived and have seen. For shear blatant not-even-a-hint-of truth lying, they are the winners. But the left of the aisle crap is only nominally better. They may begin from a hint of truth, but then take some minor thing and blow it up to something gigantic. Put up a headline on it which sounds as if something astounding is about to (or just did) happen. So whatever it was, it ends up a total lie.


At the root was something real, but the result is nonsense.
I would have to be a fool to believe it.
At this point, I don’t believe anything.

My personal political allegiances are not news. I don’t need news organizations to approve or disapprove on my behalf. That’s not the point of news.

I want information, data, and facts based on a recognizable reality. I want the news to give me an informed, intelligent, and preferably neutral idea of what’s going on. I don’t want overblown headlines about how Trump is about to be impeached. Because he isn’t about to be impeached (yet) and anyone with half a brain knows that. I don’t want shouted headlines about stuff that isn’t happening and will never occur. Nor do I want distorted stories which only make the stuff in which I believe look stupid.


I don’t want right-wing “summaries” about news that never happened and will never occur.  I don’t want left-wing fairy tales, either. 

It’s hard to find believable news from any source. I don’t trust anything from any form of social media. Each has its own version of what they think I want to hear. I don’t want to hear what they think I want to hear. I want to know what happened. What was seen. What was written. Then I will decide what I believe.

In today’s world, is there room for reality?

We’ve been watching a PBS series about World War 1. It was a terrible time. It was also when many of the myths, fables, and lies with which we are now living, began. It was the time when we started thinking we were fighting for democracy, and that somehow, we were “the right country” to defend democracy everywhere. It wasn’t true then. It isn’t true now.

We have been believing those same lies since 1914, the beginning of the breach between our political halves. It was the start of what we see every day in 2017. A hundred years of lying. Wilson could have gotten everything he wanted from Congress including the League of Nations, but refused to accept it because (are you ready?) the “deal” was offered by the wrong party.

Bringing us to today. News agencies? Please get off your soap boxes. Give me facts. That might be a start to a better world. For everyone.