I am a lifelong baseball fan. When October rolls around, I can smell baseball in the wind, I can hear it in the rustling autumn leaves.It’s World Series time again! The Red Sox are not playing in it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t cheer from the sidelines. It’s been a long time since either contending team had a Big Win.


Even though our team  isn’t in it, it has been an interesting season.

Last year’s last place Sox made the first round of this year’s playoffs. How did they do that? How do you take a losing team and become an (erratically) successful team in one year? Two years ago, they went from world champions to last place in a season, so I suppose the magic goes both ways. They achieved the leap both times without major lineup changes or anything weird happening with owners.

Improved esprit de corps? Better coaching? Something in the water? Wanting to give Big Papi a great send-off? But, I digress.

Go Cleveland! Go Cubs!

Spectator sports give all of us less talented lovers of the game a chance to participate, if not on the field, at least in the recliner. We all yearn for our personal “walk-off home run” at the big game. These days, it might be a really great night out at our favorite Sushi bar … or a little spare money to spend on something frivolous. Maybe a new lens for one of the cameras?

Mind you, we are not unhappy. Life continues to be engaging, entertaining, amusing, satisfying. Fun.

We’ve had to adjust. Find different ways to have a good time. We aren’t going to be partying all night (did we ever enjoy that, really?). Or taking long road trips. Life is not picking on us personally. Everyone has to adapt. We change. Our world changes. Unless you want to be one of the people who sits around grumbling about the “good old days” and how nothing is as like it used to be, we need to find things to enjoy and new ways to do them. It requires an effort of will to make it happen … and maybe a bit of creative thinking.


Meanwhile, back in the stadium, the grand game — America’s Pastime — is being played out for our great enjoyment. The leaves may be falling from the trees (it was a spectacular display this Autumn), and to top it off, like the cherry on top of the banana split, we get our October classic … which could possibly run into November (but most likely, won’t).

Okay, all of these philosophical meanderings are prologue to the Frank Capra-resque World Series which begins tonight. The long-suffering Chicago Cubs versus the blue-collar Cleveland Indians. It’s Gary Cooper against Henry Fonda. Plenty of heroes and no villains except maybe the umps. It’s the sons of Tinker to Evers to Chance taking on the ghosts of Bob Feller, Al Rosen, Larry Doby and Vic Wertz.

I was collecting my first baseball cards when the Indians last won the World Series in 1948. My maternal Grandfather had just turned 21 when the Cubs won their last World Series in 1908. I still remember the stories he shared with me about those long ago Cubbies when I was still wearing short pants.

In those days, we wondered if our beloved Brooklyn Dodgers would ever beat the dreaded Yankees in the World Series. Thus began a lifetime of always rooting for the underdog. Angst has ever been a part of my DNA while rooting for my teams. So often defeat has been snatched from the veritable jaws of victory.

I felt nearer my God to thee when my hero Duke Snider and Brooklyn’s Boys of Summer finally defeated the damn Yankees for the 1955 World Series.  Apple-faced southpaw Johnny Podres was the unlikely pitching hero.


Forty-nine years later, I stared in disbelief at the television as the Boston Red Sox won their first World Series after 87 jinxed years. It was the icing on the cake after a historic comeback in the American League Championship Series against the Yankees, finally exorcising the curse of the Bambino.

I recall describing my love of baseball to Teddy Ballgame, the legendary Ted Williams. Williams didn’t usually spend time with the media. But Teddy and I shared a link to John Wayne who I’d met and with whom I’d shared stories about legends. Duke admired Boston’s #9 and Williams liked Wayne’s no-nonsense screen heroes.

The movie “Field of Dreams” comes closest to capturing my love affair with baseball. Beyond your favorite team, there’s the love of the game, its complex drama and generations of heroes.

It doesn’t take a Hoyt Wilhelm-Tim Wakefield knuckleball to understand why baseball is a religion for some of us, especially in this year of political upheaval. The Cubs-Indians World Series will be a breath of fresh air from the toxic world of Orange Head and his minions.

See you at the park. Let’s play ball!


We live in a river valley. You can see here transformation from winter to spring to summer to fall. In some cases, you can see huge differences in the same months from one year to the next. There’s not much to show for mid-winter along the river and canal. They become hard to access when several feet of snow cover the ground. Not to mention that its cold out there. Frozen fingers are not steady on the shutter, I fear. November, however, is sometimes quite mild, so we frequently shoot in November. If the weather allows, in December too … but rarely along the river. It’s always colder there.

The Pond: March 2016 - Garry Armstrong

The Pond: March 2016 – Garry Armstrong

Here are the months in the Valley by the river and canal. Not all the same year. Some months, we shot elsewhere or, as in January of this year, were in far away, warm, sunny, beautiful Arizona. I wish we could be there every January. It’s a vast improvement over local weather!

River - March 2015

River – March 2015

The Canal - April 2016 - Garry Armstrong

The Canal – April 2016 – Garry Armstrong

The Pond - April 2016

The Pond – April 2016

The Canal - April 2016

The Canal – April 2016

The Canal - April 2016 - By: Garry Armstrong

The Canal – April 2016 – By: Garry Armstrong

The Canal - June 2015

The Canal – June 2015

The Canal - August 2016

The Canal – August 2016

The Canal - Sept 2016

The Canal – September 2016

October Gallery by Garry Armstrong

December 2015

The Woods – December 2015




In another life, I owned my own power tools. Drills and saws and all that stuff. My big projects days are over, but there are always jobs to be done. Every job has its own tools, whether it’s editing photographs, cutting a pizza, or trimming the roses.


A Photo a Week Challenge: Tools (power and otherwise)


A woman, younger than me, has no children. So she asks: “What is empty nest syndrome?” The subtext is “why” because we all know the “what.”

I gave it a bit of thought. After all, my nest is empty except for two terriers and an adorable husband.

The empty nest is one in which the children have grown up and moved out. They have independent lives. These newly made adults have left the family nest and assumed the mantle of adult responsibility.  Isn’t that what we wanted all along?


My mother’s life did not revolve around me, though I kept her pretty busy for a long time. She was a dutiful mother insofar as she did the right stuff. She fed us, though this was her least shining achievement. She clothed us … and to this day I wish I’d better appreciated the amazing clothing she made for me. I was just too young, awkward, and afraid someone might notice I was dressed “differently” from the others to see that this clothing was the finest I’d ever own. All other garments would subsequently pale in comparison.

She talked to me about adult things in an adult way. She gave me books, lots of books. Not the books my friends and schoolmates read, but grown-up stuff. Sometimes, I had to ask her what it meant because if anything, she overestimated my understanding of the larger world. When I was ready to go, she was proud of me for taking the leap.

It freed her to paint and sculpt and travel. To read, go to the theater, spend time with her sisters. Not cook and clean all the time. Make her own clothing instead of mine. She was glad my brother and I were independent and built lives of our own.

Mom1973PaintI doubt she suffered from any kind of empty nest issues.

Nor did I. Of course, mine kept coming back alone and then with the entire family so I could only yearn for an emptier nest. Having finally achieved it, do I miss the patter of little feet? The thunder of big ones?

Should I? Is there something wrong with enjoying the company of ones adult children more than little kids? I love having real conversations with grownups who look eerily like me. Even if we disagree, I’m delighted they have opinions. That they are part of a bigger world and standing on their own feet.

Maybe the difference is that so many women seem to prefers babies and little kids to adults. They don’t want the kids to become independent. They need to be needed. They need to nurture.

Children need nurturing, but they don’t need it all the time or forever. They shouldn’t, anyhow. After a certain point in time, their drive for separateness should overtake their nurturing needs. The drive to be independent should become primary. I have always thought it’s our obligation as parents to help them achieve that. We won’t be here forever. They will need to walk on without us.

An empty nest is one in which you don’t need to do a  load of laundry a day. A house in which the sink isn’t always full and you can park your car where you want it. A home where family dinners are a happy event when everyone is glad to see each other and has stuff to share.

Those extra rooms revert to your use, even if you use them as closets for all that stuff you seem to have collected. If you have a life of your own, interests of your own, there’s no such thing as an empty nest. It’s just the time when your kids grow up and all the work you did to raise them right pays off — for them and you.

Adult children are great. If you need to nurture, get pets. Adopt dogs and cats and ferrets and parrots. They will always need you.

If you did it right, your kids will always love you … but not always need you.


Readers seemed to like a blog I wrote recently about dog training. I got many comments about the aspects of dog psychology I discussed. So I figured I’d share some other ideas I have gleaned by working with various dog trainers over the years.

The most important thing I learned about dogs is that they can not and do not think like humans. We tend to anthropomorphize them and attribute to them motives that they are incapable of having. For example, most people believe that dogs chew furniture or poop in the house when they are left alone because they are ‘getting back’ at their humans for leaving them. The problem with that theory is that it requires levels of conceptualization, insight and understanding of cause and effect that is way beyond a dog’s capabilities.


First, they must have the self-awareness to realize that they are feeling angry at you, which they can’t and don’t. Then they have to understand that they can get ‘revenge’ (a human concept) if they make you mad or upset too. That is more than a two-year old child can do let alone a dog. Thirdly, they have to figure out, in the abstract, what behaviors they could do to make you upset. This is more than a reasonable stretch for any dog.


The explanation for most negative dog behavior seems to be stress or anxiety. Different things cause stress in different dogs and different dogs react to stress in different ways. Chewing and making in the house are examples of anxiety driven behaviors, as are excessive barking and hyperactivity. None of these are thought out revenge schemes. My anxiety prone dog gets most anxious when other people come into the house. Apparently that’s because she thinks she has to ‘protect’ me, which means that she is on duty when the doorbell rings. However, this skittish dog does not react to things that stress out many other dogs, like thunder, vacuum cleaners, packed suitcases or even a trip to the vet. She is the calmest, most relaxed dog my vet has ever seen in her office! Go figure!

Another interesting fact I learned about dog psychology is that dogs are very Zen. They truly live in the moment. They can only think about what just happened for about 10 seconds. That’s why to train a dog you have to reward them the minute they do what you want them to. When housebreaking a dog, you have to praise them profusely while they are in the act of making, not even a minute later. If you rewarded your dog right after they made, they would think you were praising them for whatever they were doing in that exact moment, like sniffing a bush or wagging their tail.

This brings up a funny story about how my anxious girl, Lexi flummoxed the dog trainer. It also points up how dogs can see things differently than even the dog trainer believes they should. When Lexi was on the sofa with me, she would often growl at our other dog when he came near the sofa. So we followed the trainer’s advice and told her ‘no’ immediately and threw her off the sofa. In most dogs, this would end the offensive behavior.


However Lexi continues to growl at her brother, but as soon as she does, she immediately jumps off the sofa and lies down on the floor. The trainer has never seen a case of self punishment before. Her takeaway is logical though; ‘when you growl, you have to get off of the sofa’ is as valid a lesson to take from the situation as is just ‘stop growling’!

Think of your dog as a two-year old child. You can’t expect the child or the dog to act or react like an adult/human or understand the world the way we do. You are the superior intellect in the relationship so you have to try and understand how your dog perceives and thinks. Don’t get mad at your dog for ‘scheming’ against you and ‘purposely’ behaving badly to annoy you. His brain doesn’t work that way. Figure out what stressor is triggering his undesirable behavior and deal with the stressor or channel the dog’s anxiety in another way.


Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: 2016 Week 42

We don’t use the room very often anymore. It’s just the two of us and sitting formally at the big table seems a bit of overkill for our dinners. It has become, by default, my museum. It has a lot of dolls. Art. Collectibles. The interesting odds and ends that I’ve bought, found, or been given through the years. These are a few. Please forgive the dust!


Tweedledum & Tweedledee … my favorite salt and pepper shakers. They make me laugh every time I look at them.


Rice and half an oven. We eat a lot of rice. A bit of ginger in the foreground. You’re right. This is the kitchen, but I liked the picture.

One old English china plate. Three very old Chinese porcelain astrological figures, and one old Chinese porcelain ginger jar.

One old English china plate. Three very old Chinese porcelain astrological figures, and one old Chinese porcelain ginger jar.

Tableau ... the top shelf in the small dining room armoire

Tableau … the top shelf in the small dining room armoire. I am nothing if not eclectic.