I can’t believe it’s the end of September. My head is spinning with the swift passage this year from spring through summer … with a trip to nightmare caterpillar attack in the middle.

72-Aldrich Creek_006

Exactly one year ago … the colors weren’t up yet then, either. Next week.

Well, it is here and no way around it. I love the fall, though it doesn’t look much like it yet. Still not much color showing around here, but probably more in town … which is where we will go over the weekend. Right now, we are still trying to keep Garry warm and cozy while his cold goes away.

And now …

A class you wish you would have taken?

Honestly? I can’t think of one. I pretty much took whatever I felt like, which is why it took me a long time to finish a degree, what with changing majors three (four?) times. Sometimes, I’m not clear on what my major finally turned out to be. I think Drama. Or maybe Speech. Possibly both?

What’s your favorite comic figure and why?


Always have had a soft sport for the Supe. He could fly. If he flew very fast against the earth’s rotation, he made time go the other way, as in backward. No one would do that again until Captain Kirk did it in Star Trek. But Superman did it first and he didn’t need no stinking starship!

Name something you wish you could like.

Soy curd. Can’t stand the stuff. I wish I didn’t hate it, but I really do. Yuck.

Tell me about your first crush / first date / first kiss.

No, I don’t think so. Especially since I don’t actually remember who it was, when, or what the circumstances might have been. The one thing I’m sure of was that it was remarkably unimportant. Even when it happened.

Who was your best friend when you were 10?

Mary (left), Marilyn (middle), Carol (right). I think we were about 6 or 7.

Mary (left), Marilyn (middle), Carol (right).

Carol, from next door. From when I first moved into the neighborhood until we finished high school. College changed everything. I was her best friend, but she was not mine. Sometimes, it’s like that.

What sign are you? Do you believe in astrology?

I am a Sun in Pisces, Moon in Scorpio, with a Rising Leo conjunct Saturn (Pluto in the first house). Just saying.

Marilyn's Horoscope

Share Your World – 2016 Week 39

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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Circles and Curves


From the watch on your wrist to the clock on the tower … from the wheels of your car, to the wheel that spins the thread. Inventing the wheel was one giant step for human technology. It is the basis of pretty much every else, in one way or the other.

Cee's Black & White Photo Challenge Badge



Thursday’s Special: Double

When you have two black Scottish Terriers that you, yourself have trouble telling apart at a quick glance, double is what you see. The two pups together are more obviously different. Gibbs is bigger, longer, and lower. He’s more “doggy” and Bonnie is more “bitchy” which is as it should be. Gibbs is stronger and more gracefully athletic. Bonnie is bouncy, cheerful, the happiest dog in this best of all possible worlds, the Candide of small dogs.



And then there are the swans and the geese. Both mate for life and you will rarely see one bird without the other nearby.


swan 93




One of the more positive side-effects of this awful election has been that I have found myself back in the folds of “The New Yorker.” Not only because they have the best cartoons of any magazine anywhere and only partly because they have Andy Borowitz whose satiric pieces always make me laugh out loud. Good laughs have been hard to find this year and I think it will only get worse.

No, they also have some really good movie and book reviews plus political commentary. And above all, I agree with them. I know I’m not supposed to admit that I really like reading stuff with which I agree, but there it is. My guilty secret. If I agree with it, and it’s witty, well-written … and I wish I had written it … then it’s even better.

Take a look at this article by Adam Gopnik, The Problem With Trump Isn’t His Debating Skills. I found myself nodding and mumbling “yes, yes, yes” until I got to the closing lines. Then, had I not been sitting in my living room with only my dogs to wonder if I’d lost my mind, I would have cheered. Because he said this:

Pass over quickly, for the moment, Trump’s notion that contracts are to be respected depending only on the wayward autocratic impulse of the richest party to the contract. Think, instead, again, of one of the last subjects of the debate—his misogyny. By sexism, we mean something specific, not the business of appreciating beauty—if Trump wants to host beauty contests, let him—but the habit of conceiving of a woman as being a lesser species, one defined exclusively by appearance. His cruelty to Alicia Machado was unleavened by any apparent respect for her as a human being in any role other than as an envelope of flesh—an attitude he only doubled down on the following morning by complaining that she presented what he saw as an obvious problem as a reigning Miss Universe: she had gained “a massive amount of weight” (by Trump standards, that is). Again, this wasn’t a problem of how he chose to present his beliefs; the problem is with the beliefs. This wasn’t a question of preparation. It was that the things he actually believes are themselves repellent even when coherently presented. This was not a bad performance. This is a bad man.”

I couldn’t say it any better. I’m not sure anyone could say it better.


SERENDIPITY HEADER--Flare-AtteanView_003

Just as self-publishing has redefined authorship for many people, so has the “design-your-own” clothing business changed what we wear. Specialty shirts for teams, schools, and organizations have long been an industry, but in recent years “swag wear” has become ubiquitous. It’s everywhere. There’s slogan clothing for anything you can think of. And a whole bunch of stuff you would never have thought of.


You can find a commemorative shirt for movies, authors (living and dead), as well as every book and concert tour … not to mention TV shows and their individual characters, historical, alive, or fictional — and any combination of the aforementioned.

I don’t remember exactly when tee-shirts with clever sayings became the clothing of choice for everybody, but if I had to take a guess, I’d say about 30 years ago.

Marilyn and Garry by Bette Stevens

Marilyn and Garry by Bette Stevens

That’s the first time I remember buying a tee-shirt that had people stopping me on the street so they could read it. It gave humorous definitions of world religions as they relate to the word “shit.” The only problem was it took a while to get through all the words, so I had to stand there and wait for people to finish reading.

Since then, the world has burst into a blooming bouquet of slogans and logos on all kinds of clothing, though not yet (but never say “never”) on business suits. It will happen. Just please, not yet.


Somewhere along the line there came into my world “CustomInk” who can make anything you want in the way of a tee-shirt, sweatshirt, mug, mousepad, pen, calendar, or poster. You name it, they can put your design on it.

Use a photograph, drawing, or use the company’s design tools to create something that says “me” or “you.”  I’ve done both. I’ve designed special shirts as Christmas and birthday presents … and of course for Serendipity because … well … why not? Of all the enterprises in which I’ve participated throughout my life, this one is the most “me.”


There are hundreds, probably thousands of places doing custom design and printing. CustomInk happens to be the one with which I have worked. Despite sticker shock, I’ve never been disappointed with the quality of the product. I tend to reward companies that do good work by continuing to give them my work … however little it may amount to in the overall scheme of things.

Since the subject in this week’s “Discover” challenge is essentially “clothing that defines us,” what could possible define us more than unique clothing we design and create?

I should also point out what I kick I get out of designing stuff. I’ve always enjoyed design, whether it was illustrations for a technical guide, a book cover … or a tee-shirt. There’s a special satisfaction in designing apparel. It’s not high fashion, but it’s my fashion. These days, you don’t have to wait for someone else to come up with your perfect fashion statement.

You can make your own statement. Using your own words and pictures.



Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – September 28, 2016

Having spent much of last week by the water in Connecticut, we have a lot of pictures. Pretty much all of them show water. By the dock, in front of the dock. All this week’s ways are watery.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Marilyn Armstrong

Photo: Marilyn Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Marilyn Armstrong

Photo: Marilyn Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Cee which way photo challenge


It’s a real thing and it’s a TV thing. It’s a local thing. It’s international, too.

People are rude. Not argumentative and contentious. They are also that, especially in the heat of battle, so to speak. It goes beyond that. They are rude because it seems that politeness, civility, and simple good manners are currently out-of-fashion. Saying please — and sounding like you mean it — and thank you (and really meaning it) are missing-in-action.

You see it on TV shows a lot.

Scenario 1: The reporter is interviewing a subject. Instead of asking questions, he’s acting as if he’s a cop with a guilty perp. He’s interrogating his subject. He won’t let him fully answer the question before he fires off another shot across the bow. Why?

Garry got great interviews by asking questions politely, then waiting for the answer. Listening to what the interviewee said … and then following up with relevant questions. Especially if you’re dealing with people you will have to get interviews from regularly — the mayor, the police chief, judges, politicians — what’s the point of antagonizing them? You get more from people who like you than people who want to throttle you.


Scenario 2: The cop is asking people if they’ve seen a person and holds up a picture. (Alternate scenario, cop stops driver and asks the ritual question “Sir/Madam, do you know how fast you were going?”) The kid, guy, gal, whoever — and I’ve seen this in as many shows originating in the U.K. as in U.S. versions — snarls something nasty and surly.

Okay. I get that you don’t like police, but why rile up the man with the gun and badge? Now he’s going to take a much harder look at you. You don’t really want that, so if you don’t want to coöperate, why not be civil anyhow? It could save you a ticket. Or a bullet. Rudeness is always counter-productive.

You see it in everyday. You ask the person packing your bags at the supermarket to please not put the bread (or eggs) under the heavy stuff because squashed bread is hard to use for sandwiches. They sneer at you like you’re some kind of senile old bat. Bet they wouldn’t feel that way if it was their bread arriving home flattened and useless.

Half of the world’s problems would disappear overnight if everyone would be nice. Sounds simplistic, I know but there are plenty of horrendous life-and-death issues to grapple with. Saying “please” and “thank you” while omitting the sarcasm might go quite a way towards lowering the temperature of our over-heated world.

Manners are free, you know? Civility doesn’t cost a single penny. They would not increase the national debt or require more taxation. Being nice, kind, thoughtful, and polite to others doesn’t make you a sissy. It makes you a citizen. A good one.

I’m absolutely sure being disagreeable, snarky, nasty, and sarcastic never improved a relationship or a situation. And best of all, being polite, being nice feels good.