VAMPIRES DON’T DO TAKE OUT

dark cemetary

“VAMPIRES DON’T DO TAKE OUT.” Which is how they knew the blood bank robbery wasn’t really the work of vampires.

I heard it on Hawaii Five O. Not the old one with Jack Lord. The reboot on CBS. Great title for a Halloween post, isn’t it?

We run out of candy every year because we don’t buy candy. AT all. We live so far from anything kids won’t come down our long, dark street … and especially not our long, dark driveway where the trees lean in from both sides.

72-Driveway-Autumn-MA--1009_026

It’s dark and lonely … a perfect Halloween path for the brave of heart. The kids want well-lit suburban houses. Scary should not be really scary. So they go into town where the street light make everything cheery and every household has pounds of candy. “Boo” they say, and that’s plenty scary enough.

We used to give out 20 pounds of candy every year when we lived in Boston, but out here? No one comes. Even with the lights on.

So, happy Halloween. Have some wine with that candy, why don’t you?

AND THE GRAVE IS NOT ITS GOAL: A HALLOWEEN SPECIAL

A Halloween Special
Photography by Garry Armstrong
Poetry by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
A PSALM OF LIFE

WHAT THE HEART OF THE YOUNG MAN
SAID TO THE PSALMIST

TELL me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream ! —
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real ! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal ;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way ;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle !
Be a hero in the strife !

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant !
Let the dead Past bury its dead !
Act,— act in the living Present !
Heart within, and God o’erhead !

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time ;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate ;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

I MET A MAN WHO WASN’T THERE

Yesterday upon the stair

I met a man who wasn’t there.

He wasn’t there again today …

Gee I wish he’d go away.”

Childhood ditty 

When I was little, I had imaginary playmates. I talked to them. They followed me around. I was never lonely because I had friends who understood me. After I started school, my shadow friends left, never to return. More accurately, they consolidated and acquired a more sophisticated persona.

“They” became a “she.” My narrator. And she as been with me my entire life. A companion for sure, but also a “shadow me.” She sits on my shoulder and almost never shuts up. Whatever has gone wrong in my life, I can blame it on the narrator. It’s all her fault.

72-Cooperstown-GA_084

My narrator remembers everything. She fills in my back story. Technically, I’m in charge of my life, but sometimes, I wonder. My narrator seems to know what will happen before I do. She never stops telling my story.

She is my third person perspective on life — as I live it in real time. I’m so accustomed to her running commentary, that during her brief silences, I become alarmed by her absence. She is so much a part of how I make sense of life (the universe and everything, thank you Douglas Adams), I’m unsure whether or not I could understand anything much without the accompanying narration.

72-Marilyn-Photog-Cooperstown-GA_032

As long as I can remember, my narrator — who is me but not me — has had no name except maybe a form of mine. She is writer-Marilyn. She has a job. To fill the gaps in my story. To add “he said” and “she said.” To describe the things people do. Sometimes supply a little mood music, suggest changes to the script, and scenery. She “fictionalizes” reality.

My unreal pal distracts me and has no respect for “the moment.” No respecter of persons either, she will make me laugh precisely when I shouldn’t. Over the years, she has gotten me into trouble with bosses, teachers, spouses, and complete strangers. I can hardly explain it’s not me laughing at them … it’s that damned narrator.

Despite the perils of the relationship, I’ve learned a lot from my nameless friend. She has taught me to view life as an endless story with chapters, back stories, hilarity, weird characters, strange coincidences, tragedy, romance, hope, and despair. Because she weaves the story lines together into the epic of my life, I have a better world view, a more cohesive vision of how I fit into the fabric of others’ existences — and how other people fit into mine.

72-Cooperstown-GA_166

She complicates my life and at the same time, simplifies it. My only job is to follow the script, even when it makes no sense, and to fix the typos when I spot them. My narrator takes care of the rest.

THE OLD MILL IN BLACK AND WHITE

CEE’S BLACK & WHITE PHOTO CHALLENGE: INDOOR WALKWAYS, HALLWAYS, ELEVATORS

All of my pictures this week are of the same hallway. It’s an old cotton mill, built in the early 1800s. It has been converted into — among other things — a television studio and a carpentry shop and showroom.

72-bw-hallway-architecture-6

The architecture is beautiful. Lots of rich, dark wood. Speaking of dark, the building’s “mill” roots show in the lack of windows. The only natural light comes in through the front doors. Otherwise, there’s some dim recessed lighting overhead.

72-bw-hallway-architecture-12

It was a challenge taking pictures in this light, but also a lot of fun and they converted nicely to black and white since the color in them was very muted.

72-bw-hallway-architecture-16

The final of these four shots was converted using an “antique analog” black and white effect.

Analog monochrome toning

Analog monochrome toning

FROM A DEAD SLEEP – JOHN A. DALY

FROM A DEAD SLEEP
John A. Daley

Dead-Sleep-Front-Cover

Growing up in the secluded mountain town of Winston, Colorado – the middle of nowhere – carries its own burdens. Especially when you aren’t the kind of guy who gets much respect from anyone.

Not that Sean Coleman has earned much respect. He’s always been a bully, even when he was in high school. His manners and personal habits are distasteful and he’s a drunk, the kind of drunk who gets mean then falls face down and lays there until morning.

The only thing that’s kept him going is his work as a security guard at his uncle’s company. It’s not much of a job, but Sean takes the responsibility seriously. Not far below his bad mannered alcoholic exterior, he wants to be a hero. He’s addicted to crime shows and he has an active — many would say overactive — imagination.

Whatever else is wrong with him, he’s no dummy. Sean is a keen observer of his surroundings, a man who notices small things, details others miss or dismiss. It’s gotten him into trouble in the past and it’s about to do it again.

Early in the morning following a particularly unfortunate night of bad choices and heavy drinking, Sean is the sole witness to a bizarre suicide. The man is a mystery, a total  stranger — rare in a tiny rural town. Slowed by difficult terrain and his own sluggish, hung-over reflexes, his attempt to prevent the death are unsuccessful. Equally unsuccessful but much more embarrassing are his attempts to convince local law enforcement something really happened.

There’s not a shred of solid evidence. The body is gone, flushed away by the powerful current of the river into which it fell. Most people think Sean’s account is his imagination or an outright lie. Yet a there are some folks who know him well and harbor a nagging suspicion there might be something to his strange story.

Lacking a body or hard evidence, Sean finds he has become — again — the town’s biggest joke. But this time, he knows what he saw. He can’t let it go. When he finds a few scraps of evidence, he determines to follow the trail wherever it leads. He’s going to see this through to a conclusion. For good or ill. Because he’s been living a life he no longer wants. He needs a win, something to restore his credibility with the town, his family, and above all, himself.

Sean Coleman needs redemption.

With no money or even a cell phone, a credit card or a plan … armed with a fierce determination to prove himself and his father’s old 45 revolver, Sean embarks on a quest. It takes him cross-country to uncover a network of evil uglier and more dangerous than he imagined possible.

Sean Coleman is complex. An unlikely protagonist, a gray man in a black and white world, a gruff, anti-social protagonist looking for salvation in a most unlikely way.

FROM A DEAD SLEEP is a page turner. It’s an exciting, well-written thriller with a solid back story and more than enough plot twists to keep you guessing. Most interesting is the slow discovery of Sean as his personality is peeled back, layer by layer.

Enigmas are nested inside mysteries. Nothing is as it seems.

About the Author:

A lifelong Coloradoan, John Daly graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a degree in business administration and computer information systems. He spent the next fifteen years developing accounting software and Internet-based work-flow collaboration solutions.Daly-John

John felt compelled to take his writing to the next level after watching a television interview with former NFL football player, Tim Green.

Inspired by Green’s career transition from a professional athlete to an accomplished author, John found the motivation to begin work on FROM A DEAD SLEEP. 

John lives in Greeley, Colorado, with his wife and two children.

FROM A DEAD SLEEP is available in paperback and for Kindle.

WHAT’S THAT NOISE?

I heard it, but it didn’t make any sense. Noise. Music. Shrill, loud music. Mozart. What does Mozart have against me? I never did anything to him …

fruitfly magazine telephone solicitationOh. It’s the telephone. Someone — maybe something — is calling. As the fumes clear my brain, I pick up the receiver, realize it’s an 800 number. No one in my world has an 800 number so I press “on” then “off” and the phone goes quiet.

I only answer calls from people with names or real numbers. Or which come from a number that looks like a real person’s number. No 800 numbers because they are not people. Most of the time, these calls are recordings. At best, they are hired guns trying to get my money.

I know everyone’s got to make a living, but you aren’t going to make it calling me. If I could reach through the receiver and get to a person on the other end, I would choke the life out of him or her. Or make my best effort.

These calls come in by the dozens. I don’t know how exactly the find me, but they do. My favorite recent one was a recorded message that started with “We are calling in response to your inquiry about a television advertisement for a back brace.”

72-Phones_04

Speechless, I stared at the receiver. Then I pressed the off button. I have never called in response to any television advertisement for anything. Not even once in my entire life.

So I was awake. Fortunately, it was already 10 in the morning and I would be getting up around now anyhow. Though just once, I would like to sleep in and not be jarred out of a dream by the telephone. It turns out you can only program the ringer to not ring between the hours of 11 pm and 9:30 am. After that, you’re on your own.

In case you didn’t know it, putting yourself on a “Do Not Call” list is the perfect way to distribute your phone number to organizations who sell data to telephone solicitation spammers.

I cannot stop the calls. All I can do is turn them off when they come. Too many mornings are the same, beginning with a ringing phone … followed by a day peppered with similar calls. Maybe that’s just life in the no-privacy, let-it-all-hang-out connected world.

I have only one question: Do these recorded calls actually earn money for anyone? Does someone actually buy a product because a recording called them?

THE LEAVES FELL

72-Aldrich-Foliage-1013_013

Autumn was late by about two weeks. Though late, it arrived and wasn’t bad, all things considered. As a result, the peak foliage was also two weeks late. That was just a couple of days ago, when normally our trees are half stripped of leaves.

72-Aldrich-Foliage-1013_034

72-Mumford-Autumn-Uxbridge-MA_020

Today, the “fall” part of Fall occurred. What normally takes a couple of weeks, took a few hours. We took Bonnie to the groomer at 10:30 in the morning and the trees were glorious.

72-CCY-Aldrich-Foliage-1013_011

72-foliage-1026_039

It’s a half hour drive from our house to the groomer. A slow crawl down Route 16, through Milford. Which, like Uxbridge, is doing late season roadwork. They have police misdirecting traffic. It makes everything worse.

72-Autumn-Light-1027_32

By one in the afternoon, when we went to pick Bonnie up, most of the trees went almost bare.

72-Autumn-Light-1027_24

These are the pictures I took the day before yesterday. It was the last best day of this year’s Autumn foliage.

72-fallen-leaves-foliage-1026_049

It’ll be another year before it comes round again. If only it could have lasted longer.

72-dry-leaves-foliage-1026_034

LINES AND CURVES: THE FOLLOWING EYE

CEE’S COMPOSE YOURSELF CHALLENGE

Exercise:  Show us 4 to 6 leading lines photos.  These photos should have fairly straight lines.

Extra credit for Gold Star Award: Show at least two photos of lines that have a slight curve or “S” curves.  This a different kind of leading line than the straight one, but it still takes your eye through your photo.


The first composition technique I learned was the importance of lines. Diagonal lines often are the difference between a dynamic picture and one that is pretty, but just sits there.

72-fence-corn-0918_46

72-Uxbridge-Snow-Roads_029

Little Colorado bridge - 2

72-Dam-Mumford-River-0807_188

72-bridge-ma-0731-25_084

72-Fence-Blizzard_023

72-Canal-River Bend_052

And finally, the curve in my road and the curve of the bridge over the Blackstone River.

72-Aldrich-Foliage-1013_030

72-Dam-Canal_092

TIME IS RELATIVE

In younger days, I felt if you didn’t celebrate on the day … birthday, Christmas, anniversary, whatever … that you’d blown it.

You might think with the passing of time, I would be even more eager to get right into any life event. After all, this IS tomorrow.

Autumns glorious final days

We are past waiting for a rainy day. Get out your umbrella, the rain has arrived. Who knows how much time we’ve got left? (Really, does anyone know? We could any of us be hit tomorrow by a runaway beer truck.)

Life is ironic and never what you expect. As it turns out, I am infinitely more patient than I was when I was younger.

Near death experiences notwithstanding, I’m in no rush to get anywhere or do anything. There is going to be a tomorrow. I know it. If not? C’est la vie … well … maybe not.

We celebrate everything by going to Wanakura for Japanese food. Garry orders the sashimi special. I order the Wanakura maki roll.

Waiting, as Michael Valentine Smith used to say, IS.

On average, the culinary quality of dining establishments in the Blackstone Valley varies from barely acceptable to so awful I can’t talk about it without weeping. The ultimate in haute cuisine is a burger. Other than that, you can get mediocre pizza from a variety of national and regional chains. They also serve sandwiches, some of which are almost edible.

There are a few awful Italian restaurants, one that is only half bad, and a variety of places which serve tasteless Chinese food but have good bars. Then there is Wanakura.

It keeps us from going mad with insatiable longing for a decent meal.

72-CCY-Foliage-1013_018

We wanted to go to dinner yesterday, but by the time it was time, we were too tired to bother. Maybe today, if the weather is agreeable. We would have been there in September for our anniversary, but we were in Cooperstown. So we are left with an unsatisfied yearning for sashimi and maki rolls.

As Michael Valentine Smith used to say: “Waiting is. One must grok in fullness.”

SCREAMING AND HOTDOGS

75-Cyclone-NK-066

I don’t like horror movies, except the old ones which are more funny than scary. I thought Jurassic Park and Jaws were scary enough. Life is plenty full of thrills and chills without seeking out more.

Then, there are roller coasters. Especially our hometown favorite — the Cyclone at Coney Island.

CYCLONE-a

LIVING WITH NATURE: CAREFULLY WOVEN LIVE ROOT BRIDGES OF MEGHALAYA

This is one of the most remarkable things I’ve seen. A brilliant concept. Living bridges created by the twined roots of trees. I know it wouldn’t work here in New England. Wrong climate, wrong trees … but if we could, how great would that be? Maybe not for cars, but for foot traffic, totally cool. Talk about cooperating with nature. Great pictures, too.

soul n spirit

They are live, gain strength each day, marvel of nature, bless the tribals, live in perfect harmony and pride of Meghalaya.

Yes, I am talking about the centuries old live root bridges which is a tribal art ofcarefullymanipulating the roots of a tree into a live bridge, basically for the commuting purpose to cross rivers and streams. 

DSC02805Khasi people have been trained to grow these bridges across the raised banks of streams to form root bridges made from the roots of the Ficus elastica tree, which produces a series of secondary roots that are perched atop huge boulders along the streams or the riverbanks.

DSC02794

Stones and banyan tree roots provide strongest path to cross rivers and streams. Stones and banyan tree roots provide strongest path to cross rivers and streams.

These root bridges are located in and around Cherrapunji/Sohra, Meghalaya, the wettest state of India. Some of these root bridges are more than 150 years old and strong enough to carry…

View original post 94 more words

SERENDIPITY PHOTO PROMPT 2015 – 27: AT HOME WITH DOGS

SERENDIPITY PHOTO PROMPT 2015 – 27
28 octoBER 2015: AT HOME WITH DOGS

With Halloween a couple of days away and the foliage finally at peak — two weeks behind schedule — the weather is beginning to cool down.

72-Autumn-Light-1027_31

The fuchsia are gone, interred with the memories of summer so recently passed. Chrysanthemums stand in their place on the deck.

72-Mums-Autumn-Light-1027_37

The World Series is being played out, Kansas City Royals facing down the New York Mets. For lots of reasons, this is a great match-up, but we had wistfully hoped the Cubs would finally get a shot at the Big One. Maybe next year.

72-Evening-Home-Autumn-1023_007

Life has begun to move inside. Pictures are taken from doorways and windows and the view from my picture window is a bit mind-boggling. I think you’d have to see it with your own eyes to believe it … but just for the record, a few pictures seem to be in order.

72-Evening-Home-Autumn-1023_001

72-Autumn-Light-1027_18

Bob Mielke has settled in. With three photographers and who knows how many cameras in this house, I figure little will go undocumented.

72-Bob-Amber-1027_05

Bonnie is off to the groomer today … and when she gets home, we will get several hours of her being clean and smelling good before she can roll in dirt until she smells like a proper Scottie.

Bishop

And at least one more of Bishop, who seems to have a genuine love for having his picture taken …

72-Bishop-Home-1024_013

Garry got serious about our downtown graveyard. I’m saving the rest of his great photos for Halloween. Boo!

72-Cemetary-Autumn-Uxbridge-GA_021

When we next meet, Halloween will have passed, so may the spooks, goblins, vampires, ghosts, and other denizens of the dark and dubious places of the earth be kind to you on All Hallows Eve. Don’t let the zombies bite!


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.

This is the easiest prompt in the world.

ENDING POLIO – HAPPY BIRTHDAY JONAS SALK

For reasons that completely elude me, quite a few people are rejecting vaccination. They have somehow rationalized away some of the most important progress in human history. The result has been the reappearance of diseases we conquered, of which we thought we’d seen the last.

I remember the annual terror the summertime brought before polio vaccines made the world a safe place to be a kid.

anti-vaccine-cartoon

I remember lining up in school — a first grader — with all the other kids to get my shot and how happy our parents were that finally, we didn’t live under the terrible shadow of polio.

Here’s a reminder of how things were before there was such a thing as a polio vaccination, when summer was filled with fear for every child, everywhere.


Today would be Jonas Salk’s 101st birthday. Conquering polio was not only about Dr. Salk, though he was first at the starting line. As polio ravaged patients worldwide, two gifted American researchers developed distinct vaccines against it. Then the question was: Which one to use?

By Gilbert King – Smithsonian.com – April 3, 2012


They were two young Jewish men who grew up just a few years apart in the New York area during the Great Depression. Though both were both drawn to the study of medicine and did not know each other at the time, their names would be linked in a heroic struggle that played out on the front pages of newspapers around the world.

polio ward

In the end, both Albert Sabin and Jonas Salk could rightfully claim credit for one of humanity’s greatest accomplishments—the near-eradication of polio in the 20th century. And yet debate still echoes over whose method is best suited for the mass vaccination needed to finish the job: Salk’s injected, dead-virus vaccine or Sabin’s oral, live-virus version.

In the first half of the 20th century, Americans lived in fear of the incurable paralytic poliomyelitis (polio) disease, which they barely understood and knew not how to contain. That the disease led to some kind of infection in the central nervous system that crippled so many children, and even a president (Franklin D. Roosevelt) was alarming enough.

Polio-salk-vaccine newspaper

But the psychological trauma that followed a neighborhood outbreak resonated. Under the mistaken belief that poor sanitary conditions during the “polio season” of summer increased exposure to the virus, people resorted to measures that had been used to combat the spread of influenza or the plague. Areas were quarantined, schools and movie theaters were closed, windows were sealed shut in the heat of summer, public swimming pools were abandoned, and draft inductions were suspended.

Just about 100 years ago, in 1916, polio rampaged through the U.S.

Just about 100 years ago, in 1916, polio rampaged through the U.S.

Worse, many hospitals refused to admit patients who were believed to have contracted polio, and the afflicted were forced to rely on home care by doctors and nurses who could do little more than fit children for braces and crutches. In its early stages, polio paralyzed some patients’ chest muscles; if they were fortunate, they would be placed in an “iron lung,” a tank respirator with vacuum pumps pressurized to pull air in and out of the lungs. The iron lungs saved lives, but became an intimidating visual reminder of polio’s often devastating effects.

PHONES AND ‘PUTERS: CEE’S FUN FOTO CHALLENGE

We aren’t big on phones around here. We have a VOIP “landline” and a cell phone which I usually forget to turn on. But computers? We got them. And cameras. Lots of cameras.

72-Phones_02

Kindle and iPad

plugs roku and headphones

72-Computer-Camera-Bob-Amber-1027_08

alienware side view computer

72-garry-hand-oddballs_011

Most real communication is done via email. Electronic, non-voice. Oh, and Garry has a special caption phone, but since he hates telephones on principle, it doesn’t get much use.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Phones and Computers

MACRO MUMS WITH A SIDE OF FOLIAGE

72-mum-macros-1026_004

My new chrysanthemums make great subjects for macro photography and the weather was lovely today, so out I went. It is Indian Summer here. The great weather may a couple more weeks … but could also disappear overnight. Weather is fickle in New England, probably an understatement.

72-mum-macros-1026_008

Although I’ve had my macro lens for a while, I’m still a bit bedazzled by the effects it creates.

72-mum-macros-1026_002

Among the many lessons I have learned is that shooting with this lens in sunshine is entirely different than in shade or with overcast skies.

72-mum-macros-1026_030

Bright sun is significantly more difficult, causing changes to both texture and color that need to be corrected during processing.

72-mum-macros-1026_029

Regardless, the macro is a lot of fun. It’s not only good for extreme closeups. It’s also a great portrait lens and mid-length general purpose lens with great bokeh.

72-mum-macros-1026_022

It’s still full-bore autumn. Using the same lens, I couldn’t resist a foliage shot.

72-foliage-1026_033

Flower of the Day