THE LONG STAIRWAY …

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I once dreamed that I was climbing what seemed to be an endless stairway to the top of the tower. I knew there were important secrets at the end. Things I needed to know, so I just kept climbing.

When I got to the very top, the stairway ended. I found myself facing a steel door with a sign on it which said “Department of Files & Records.”

The door was locked. I didn’t have a key. A wave of sadness hit me as I realized I would not find out what was in that room.

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I still dream that there are secrets behind locked doors, up long stairways, at the tops of mountains, or buried deep in the memories of long-dead family members. I’m never going to get to that room to see the files and records.

Maybe none of us can go there.

Stairway: Daily Prompt

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT – CEE’S BLACK & WHITE PHOTO CHALLENGE

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Hiding or Camouflaged

I have trouble with this as a black and white challenge since I usually won’t use black and white except when there’s sufficient contrast and composition elements to make it “work.” But hey, I’ll try anything.

If I had not heard his song, I would never have found this little Carolina Wren.
If I had not heard his song, I would never have found this little Carolina Wren
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Garry is well camouflaged by the shrubbery.
Water shining in the Blackstone Canal
The Blackstone Canal where it can be hard to tell where the woods end and the canal begins

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The last one is a sunrise in silhouette. But being black and white, you can’t actually tell it’s a sunrise … so I guess it’s a sunrise. In hiding.

HEROES

WHO DO YOU ADMIRE?  


There are real heroes among us. They don’t wear capes and masks. Instead, they wear heavy gear and carry hoses, axes, and breathing masks. They drive big red trucks with loud sirens and in a small community like this one, they are all volunteers.

When the rest of us are running out of the burning building, these people are racing into it. Heroes. Unpaid and underpaid, they are also under-appreciated for the dangerous and vital work they do.

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This classic shot of the firefighters on 9/11 says it all. I didn’t take the picture and I don’t know who did, so I can’t credit the photographer. I would if I could.


Maybe that’s why our retired local fire truck “old number 2” has a place of her own in a field and is regularly visited by her neighbors.

I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016
I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

A DIFFERENT EYE AT THE CANAL – GARRY ARMSTRONG

When two photographers shoot the same scene, it’s always interesting to see what they will shoot that is essentially the same … and what they will see as different.

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In this case, I was able to get pictures from places Marilyn couldn’t go … partly because I’m a bit more agile than she is, but also because she spent most of our shooting time trying to figure out why her camera wasn’t working. By the time she figured out what had gone wrong, it was time to go home. Better luck next time.

I keep it simple. I use the same lens and camera. I’m happy with my Pentax Q7. It’s light, comfortable in my hands. I know how it works. Results are predictable and usually exactly what I intended. Most of the time. Marilyn says I need to make sure I’m holding the camera straight, to take a look at the horizon and align with it. My bad.

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This was a couple of days ago. Late afternoon down at the Blackstone Canal.

WHAT INSURANCE DOESN’T COVER

Seeing.

Hearing.

Eating.

Breathing.


Breathing.

No one covers asthma medication anymore. A while ago, insurance companies universally decided to stop covering medication to prevent asthma attacks. Most of us don’t have the medication anymore.

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We buy emergency inhalers because they cost around $50 — without insurance. The daily medication which would prevent the need for an emergency inhaler is about $500 for a month’s supply. No one I know can afford it, so we don’t have it.

Breathing, it turns out, is not medically necessary.

Seeing.

Vision is medically optional. Most insurance will cover a routine annual eye exam. A few will cover part of the cost of a pair of single vision eyeglasses per year. That’s pretty much it. If you need bifocals, or anything other than one cheap pair of corrective lenses, that’s too bad.

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Chewing.

Teeth falling out? Need a root canal? Tough luck. Your teeth are entirely cosmetic (bet you didn’t know this!) and therefore, are not covered by medical insurance. You can buy private insurance, but it covers less than half the actual cost of most dental procedures (usually a lot less than half) … and it’s expensive. It is never part of standard medical insurance. They don’t cover dentures either.

Hearing.

What?

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No one covers hearing aids, probably because they are extremely expensive. Thousands of dollars and the average lifespan is four to seven years, after which you need another set. If you are a state or federal employee, or you lost your hearing while serving in the military, you are probably covered. If you are anyone else?

I’m sorry. What did you say? Could you speak up please?


Private insurance plans sometimes offer riders which will cover corrective lenses and basic dental work — a cleaning, x-rays, and a filling. Maybe. Not a root canal or a crown.

No one covers hearing aids.

Classifying hearing, seeing, and anything in your mouth as “non-medical and cosmetic” is standard in the insurance industry. It saves them billions of dollars a year … and leaves you with a bill you probably can’t pay.

What’s the solution? Don’t be old. Or poor.  Especially, don’t be both.

IT’S GETTING GREENER DOWN BY THE CANAL

It was beautiful yesterday, one of the nearly perfect spring days with which New England is occasionally gifted. Spring isn’t our best — or even second-best — season.

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It’s usually very short, often going from winter to summer in just a day or two. Sometimes, you barely have time to buy a pair of shorts when yesterday’s 40 degrees turns to ninety or more, with humidity to match.

We are having a reasonably good spring this year. There have been a few setbacks. The couple of early snows in April did some damage to the blooming daffodils, but I hope not permanent damage. The flowering trees are showing young leaves. Here, in our woods and along the rivers and canal, the trees are in bud, but not leaf. Hardwood — oaks and maples, sassafras, ash and others — are the last to fill out. Mid May, usually, though the maples may be a week earlier this year. Our trees are mostly bare.

The forsythia is flowering. The lilacs are full of leaves, but no flowers yet.

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Soon. It’s lovely today. Warm and sunny and delicious. The earth is awake and everything is greening up.