‘You came back! Why? A woman like you!! To a place like this?? Why?” Those of you who don’t know that line should be ashamed. It’s a riff on Eli Wallach’s demise as the bandit chief in “The Magnificent Seven”. Well, Marilyn came back today and there’s no reason to ask why. She’s home after almost two nerve wracking weeks at Beth Israel’s Cardiac Care Unit in Boston. Marilyn gladly relinquished her status as the patient with the most seniority in her unit. Marilyn had almost become a fixture for families visiting other patients. She would wave as they passed her room. Some say Marilyn is now a legend after her stint that included a bypass, a valve replacement, a pacemaker implant and inflation of collapsed lungs. To insure her iconic status, Marilyn sustained a muscle injury in her right shoulder, her “good” shoulder. The shoulder of the hand used to send emphatic gestures to her husband.

Marilyn’s return home today came as a surprise to some of us. It was thought she needed several days in a physical therapy facility to strengthen her body after almost two weeks of immobility. Marilyn pulled a wonder woman on us by regaining mobility dramatically over the weekend. A physical therapist made it official after examining Marilyn today. Visiting families looked sad as Marilyn left Beth Israel Hospital. Who would replace the iconic patient in room 606?

The mood here at “The Kachingerosa” brightened considerably with Marilyn’s return. We had to “gate” the four furry kids to allow Marilyn to enter the house, carefully make her way up the stairs and into the living room where she settled into her favorite spot on our love seat, a smile mixed with groans of pain and pleasure. She scanned the room carefully like a stranger returning to a place of her dreams.

The two terriers, Bonnie (the Scottie and ring leader) and Nan, who sounds more like a pig than a dog were allowed to spend time with Marilyn. Nan is Marilyn’s dog. I think you could see the joy in Nan’s eyes. Dogs have a sense about their people, especially when they are hurt or healing. So, the normally playful terriers were very gentle with Marilyn.

The first evening home is going slowly for Marilyn. She’s trying to catch up on some of her favorite TV shows. But she’s still in pain and has breathing problems as she tries to relax. Marilyn still has a long way to go. There will be visiting nurses, follow up appointments with specialists and a very limited program of activities for the next few weeks. But Marilyn is home and our family is whole again.

Stay In The Car and Other Classic Lines – Marilyn Armstrong

In the spirit of clichés that pop out of the mouths of Our Heroes with alarming frequency, despite the fact that they have become standing jokes for the audience (apparently nobody mentioned this to the script writers), our personal favorite in this house is “Stay in the car.”

On the NBC TV series “Chuck.” it’s a gag line. Unfortunately, on most shows it is supposed to be real dialogue  and not cause hilarity … but it does. Every time.

I checked on Subzin, a movie database that lets you enter a piece of dialogue, then reports in how many and in the specific movies where you’ll find it. According to Subzin, “Stay in the car”  can be found in 356 phrases from 296 movies and series. Yet, they continue to use it.

Lethal Weapon 2: (1989)

uses the line a lot.

Then, there’s  Last Action Hero (1993), my favorite Arnold Schwarznegger movie in which the line is understood to be a cliché , which is more than you can say for most of the places you will hear it:

But don’t feel that this is confined to modern movies. High Sierra, with Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino, 1941 used the line too.
Speaking of Humph, there’s one great line in Treasure of the Sierra Madres that has become, by its utter perfection, a cliché or maybe … a laugh line?
And again, from Blazing Saddles (1974), a movie so quotable that we can recite the entire dialogue as we watch:
And then there is:
Ah, so many clichés. So little time. And then … they all walk away …

Neighbors and Old Friends – Marilyn Armstrong

Friends come in many sizes and shapes. Horses, dogs, cats and other warm fuzzy creatures give our lives texture and joy … and old things holding memories of other times and places … these too become friends, holding our memories and reminding us of the lives we have lived and things we have done.

Old Number 2 is one of Uxbridge‘s oldest fire trucks. Long out of service, he still has his own place, standing through the years and seasons in a field across from the post office. He’s become my old friend, put out to pasture but like me, remembering his glory days.

Old Number 2 in summer … with some special effects just because.
Seasons come and go, but Number 2 waits patiently. I visit him. He has many stories to tell and I listen so he will be less lonely and know no everyone has forgotten him.

Horses in the pasture, friendly and hoping for snack, an apple or a carrot maybe …

Retired now, she grazes in a pleasant pasture in the company of her friends and the goats in the adjacent pasture. Do they share their memories?
With a shake of her mane, the pony companion enjoys the autumn weather with an old pal.
Still beautiful, she poses with her good side, elegant in her peaceful paddock.
It’s a fine day to be a horse. Or a human.

Tinker, one of our two PBGVs romps now at the Bridge, but here, her big black nose pokes through the picket fence of our front yard. Just saying hello!

Tinker’s big black nose — a perfect nose for such a hound as this Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen hound nose — pokes through our pickets. She’s gone to the Bridge, but lives on in our hearts and her tooth marks remain forever embedded in our furniture, shoes, remote controls and paranoid nightmares of destruction.
Griffin, our big boy PBGV died last winter, as did Tinker. He was my personal cuddle puppy, full of joy and humor. He always made me laugh and the more I laughed, the more he would act the clown. Never has a dog enjoyed making people laugh more than Griffin. A marathon barker, entertainer par excellence, he was the best.

Many of our fur children have gone to the bridge, but they are never forgotten. More of them  on other days, I promise.

One autumn day, in a rare family project, we made a couple of friends of our own … classic New England symbols of Autumn and the harvest. We made them from yard sale clothing, two bales of hay, and their painted faces on old pillow cases were created by Kaity and Stefania … at that brief period as they were transitioning from girls to young women.

Some friends we made ourselves to celebrate the harvest and the season, sitting on a bench, backed by flowering bushes and shaded by oaks.

Finally, we meet the farmer’s old truck. He stands in a field around the corner, behind the fire station … an old friend put out to pasture, holding too many fond memories to send him to a junk yard. Instead, he stands ever waiting if he should  be called back to duty.

Just this, no more, all within a mile of home. It IS home.


The title of today’s blog should be a hint. I’ll get to it in a minute. Marilyn asked me to bring her clothing, her lap top and myself — in that order. Oh, yes, make sure there’s clean underwear in the clothing bag. Didn’t your mother warn you about going anywhere without clean under wear??  Marilyn sounded relatively upbeat when we chatted on the phone this morning before I left home. I should know better by now. I really should.

By the time I walked into Marilyn’s room at Beth Israel Hospital’s Cardiac Care Unit, things had changed. She wasn’t upbeat anymore. She was in pain. Lots of pain! Marilyn’s right shoulder, her “good” shoulder was the source of the pain. She said she thought she might need Tommy John surgery. Somehow during the past few days, she was jostled around and her right shoulder took a beating. She said it hurt more than her tender left shoulder where surgeons had gone in to implant her pacemaker. Trying to fend off the pain, Marilyn’s breathing became sporadic, exacerbating her situation. A nurse was summoned and a painkiller was administered. It took awhile for the pain to subside and Marilyn’s breathing to become more even. The pain was still clearly etched across her face although she tried not make any loud sounds. I just held her hand, feeling essentially helpless. There wasn’t much I could say that wouldn’t sound like mindless babble.

Finally, Marilyn looked up at me, a smile slowly replacing the grimaces. She patted my hand and softly said, “I love you”. “I love you, too,” I replied. “I love you three,” she countered. Always having the last word. Time crept along slowly. We didn’t say much. I think that was good. Later, a staffer came in to take X-rays of Marilyn’s lungs. There’s still concern about pneumonia. A half hour later, another staffer came in to discuss decisions surrounding which physical therapy facility Marilyn will be going to in one or two or three days. Hopefully, we’ll be meeting with administrators tomorrow to make that decision. Marilyn is anxious to get to PT and begin strengthening her body. She’s bored and restless. But she is still weak!!

The laughs came as Marilyn was trying to make a dinner choice. She read aloud from the hospital menu, making faces as she described each meal. One item caught her eye. The meatballs! She’d had the meatballs a few days ago and there were okay. Matter of fact, she had EIGHT meatballs the first time. They were tiny, Marilyn emphasized, but okay. The only problem was that when Marilyn ordered meatballs again they cut the serving to FOUR small servings. I suggested she go for broke. Take no prisoners. demand EIGHT meatballs!! I left before dinner arrived, wanting to avoid the possible high drama if Marilyn’s meatball demands were not met.

I called Marilyn just awhile ago after finishing my dinner here at home. She sounded upbeat. Maybe chipper. I paused before asking the dangerous question. “How many meatballs did you get??” A short pause. I sighed deeply. “Honey, I got EIGHT meatballs!!”, Marilyn exclaimed. “Wow!!!,” I rejoiced. “You’re on a roll now,” I congratulated Marilyn. She laughed. A nice long laugh. I promised to call later in the evening to make sure all was okay.

A Gaggle of Geese – Marilyn Armstrong

On a pond on a sunny summer’s day, on a shiny pond on Cape Cod, a gaggle of Canada geese came to visit.

The Five Second Rule

A few curious thoughts by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Admit it.  You have probably invoked the five second rule many times in your life.  Maybe you tend to do it when no one else is around, but you do it nonetheless.  No matter what some in society may say, you can not help yourself.  You may think it just a little bit evil, but you do it anyway.  You may even do it openly, not caring what others may think.  Don’t worry.  They do it too.

In case you are one of the few who have not heard about it and have not followed the widely disputed practice, the “Five Second Rule” is the belief that if you drop some food on the floor, it is alright to eat if you pick it up right away, say in five seconds.  While common sense may speak to you against such a practice, science seems to be coming down in favor of what once was folklore or an “old wives’ tale.”  A recent study seems to suggest that a few seconds on the floor does not matter much.  Your wet gummy bears are not likely to pick up much in the way of bacteria if you pick them up right away.the special

Unbelievably, dropping food on your carpet seems to pick up less bacteria than dropping it on your tile or linoleum floor.  Of course, if you own a dog or a cat the food item may pick up some animal hair or dander you might not want to pop in your mouth.  No matter how clean Fido looks to you, all that rolling around on the floor is not good for your dropped food.  Also, you have to consider that Fido might beat you to the item, in which case your dog has the treat you lost and let’s face it.  Your dog never seems to get sick after eating food off the floor.

While I would not care to eat off my floors, considering what I know, I may be less reluctant elsewhere.  You may have heard that Aunt Matilda’s house was so clean you could eat off the floors.  That may literally be true, although I do not think I would try that on a dare.  Still, it is good to know that your odds of puking later are greatly diminished according to modern-day science, if your food is not down there too long.

Who funds this type of study, you may wonder?  Who cares?  This particular science is extremely important when you consider the amount of people who drop food on the floor, then pop it in their mouths.  Isn’t it time we got the answer to the age-old question, “Does the five second rule really exist?”  Now we know, until the next study comes along to debunk this whole thing, and you know that will eventually happen.

Life itself also has a rule like the Five Second Rule.  It goes like this, the longer you are down, the more likely you are to pick up dirt.  When you fall down, get knocked down, get tripped up or whatever it is that causes you to land on your butt or your face, it is best if you get right back up and get going.  The world just does not look as good when you have fallen to the floor.

No scientific study is needed here.  Hopefully common sense will tell you, the quicker you get up and clean yourself off the better it is for you.  If it has been a particularly bad day, it can be hard to convince yourself to get off the ground.  You may wish to wallow in whatever is down there.  Just like the food in the study, more is likely to jump on you if you stay put.  It is the nature of life.

There is one more thing to consider while we are invoking scientific studies.  It is a known fact that if you fall and stay down, you will look like a dropped treat to people-eating Cyclops.  In that case one of them is likely to scoop you up and pop you in his mouth.  Another thing to know from the most recent study is that Cyclops have a long time, a 5 day rule perhaps.  In that case, wallowing in the muck with one of Fido’s playmates is likely to do you in.  Being chomped on by Cyclops is far worse than eating candy off the floor.  You have been warned.


Time flies when you’re having fun. Let’s attribute that line to Marilyn who’s now almost a week and a half into her stay at Beth Israel Hospital’s Cardiac Care Unit. The fun includes a bypass, valve replacement, pacemaker implant and inflation of collapsed lungs. Today, there was another infection scare but tests came back negative. A day after our friends Ross and Mary Mitchell came to the rescue volunteering to pay for physical therapy rejected by Marilyn’s health insurance, Marilyn was in good spirits but weak and very pale. She was dehydrated.

Cherrie Welburn and I noticed Marilyn’s condition the moment we arrived around midday. Why didn’t anyone else, we wondered. Cherrie scurried around outside, talking to nurses and other staff members about Marilyn’s condition. I think she heard something about it being a weekend and there were fewer staffers on duty. I’m just a layperson but I find that puzzling in a hospital. Are patients less important on weekends?? Cherrie and I swapped off helping Marilyn walk to the bathroom, made sure she kept drinking water during our visit and promised to call frequently tonight, nagging her about drinking water. Marilyn seemed to perk up. She checked her tablet, scanning last night’s blog about the unexpected generosity of the Mitchells and the impressive number of comments from people damning health insurers and lauding the kindness of our friends.

Marilyn, again, complimented me on my blogging efforts. High praise from Caesar, indeed!! Cherrie, Marilyn and I discussed the days ahead. Marilyn likely will remain at Beth Israel until Tuesday at least until we decide on a satisfactory physical therapy facility. Marilyn noticed that Cherrie and I were a little wobbly on our feet and suggested that we head home to rest a little.

The drive home actually was the most interesting part of the day. It included impressive construction detours around “hospital city” that had changed in two or three hours. I switched into my Boston driver mode, skillfully out matching cabbies, texting motorists surely headed to their maker and touristas confused by everything. It had a classic demolition derby feel to it.

The final leg of our drive on the Mass Pike west and onto Rt. 146 included a pelting rain and an increasingly dense fog. I felt the juices flow. I was Steve McQueen. Despite my idiocy, we arrived home safely. Cherrie has gone back to her home in Hadley to deal with a bunch of her own family crises. I’ll miss her. She’s kept me sane. She’ll be back as soon as possible. Meantime, I’ll be flying solo, keeping the faith with my fair lady.