DRAMATIC CLOUDS. NO RAIN.

Outside my window, the sky is dark, dramatic, and glowering.

“Maybe there will finally be some rain today,” says my husband.

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“That would be really nice,” I answer, but then I turn to the forecast.

It says that we can expect a day of dramatic, dark clouds … but no rain. None. Nor any rain for the next week. Maybe next weekend. I know from experience that meteorologists have no idea what the weather will be doing a week from now. They just put that stuff there to keep us from losing hope.

Stormy Skies - By Marilyn Armstrong

I’m trying not to lose hope … but we sure do need rain. Clouds? They’re a tease. They make us think something is going to happen to relieve the drought.

At least it isn’t so hot. That’s something.

THE DAILY POST | DRAMATIC

FILMS ALL GUYS SHOULD SEE

My personal top 20, by Rich Paschall

This is probably the opposite of “chick flicks.”  You know what I mean, the romantic comedies starring Sandra Bullock or Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lopez, or Zac Efron.  You may have to see those as a consequence of the long tradition of “date nights,” but these are some of the films every guy should see.

There could be hundreds of good films for this list.  The heroes are strong, the action is intense, the dialogue is smart and every guy in the theater would like to be the leading man of the story.  They speak not only good versus evil, or right versus wrong, but they also include noble intentions… most of the time anyway.

Since I had to stick with movies I have seen, the list will probably date me to a time when I went to the movie theater more often.  A few of these I have only seen at home, but on a much larger television than when I was young.  Whether you are a Citizen Kane or a Raging Bull, it will be a Bad Day At Black Rock if you do not see all of these.  I normally do a top ten but I could not fit The Great Escape on the list and M.A.S.H. them down to 10.  It may not yet be High Noon, but it is time for the list.

The Magnificent Seven

The Magnificent Seven

20.  The Magnificent Seven. Outstanding remake of the Japanese classic The Seven Samurai, but set in the old West
19.  Dirty Harry. “I know what you’re thinking.”  This movie contains some of the greatest film quotes of all time.
18.  On The Waterfront. Marlon Brando could have been a contender. In fact, he won an Oscar.
17.  Patton.  George C. Scott will scare the heck out of you as the American General and war hero.
16.  Von Ryan’s Express.  Mesmerizing performance by Frank Sinatra trying to lead his troops to safety.
15.  Rocky.  Admit it, you love it.  It is a triumph of the spirit.  The sequels … not so much.
14.  Run Silent, Run Deep.  Burt Lancaster and Clark Gable face intrigue and insurrection on a submarine.
13.  The Bridge on the River Kwai.  Alec Guinness as the noble British officer forced to build a bridge with his fellow prisoners.  And the Oscar goes to…
12. The French Connection.  New York, France, drugs, car chases, cops and the perfect cast.  An Academy award winner.
11. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo. The ultimate “Spaghetti Western.”

10.  Dr. NoBond, James Bond  If it is not exactly what Ian Fleming had in mind for his spy hero, it is nonetheless a great start to the ongoing series of action adventure movies.  If it were not for Sean Connery, would this series have gone very far?

09.  The Maltese Falcon.  Humphrey Bogart plays the detective who hunts down those responsible for the death of his partner.  It’s an odd speech he gives to Mary Astor at the end, but the final scene remains a classic.

08.  North by Northwest.  Cary Grant is forced to find the killer of an official at the United Nations.  The cross-country thriller is one of the finest works of director Alfred Hitchcock.

07.  Cool Hand Luke.  Paul Newman is a hero of another kind in the 1967 prison movie which earned an academy award for George Kennedy.

06.  Glory.  I loved Matthew Broderick in a number of lightweight movies, but here he rises to the dramatic occasion as the young officer who leads a troop of black soldiers into battle during the Civil War.  Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman also head the stellar cast.

05.  12 Angry Men.  One room, 12 men, one case, all dialogue.  Henry Fonda leads the powerful cast as the hold-out jury member who is not convinced of one boy’s guilt.  The confined setting adds to the unfolding tension.

04.  Jaws.  This movie made a lot of people afraid to go in the water.  Three unlikely people (Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss) go shark hunting in this 1975 thriller, directed by Steven Spielberg.

03.  In The Heat Of The Night.  Sydney Poitier commands the screen as the Philadelphia detective in the wrong place in the South. Rod Steiger is the ultimate racist southern sheriff.  The movie should make you squirm just a bit (or a lot) no matter what side of the color line you are on.  This is way beyond the sanitized television series and an important movie in 1967.

02.  The Godfather.  While some will not agree, I find this the best of the trilogy.  Marlon Brando is the Godfather, the Italian don, head of the crime family.  The 1972 film is a movie you can not refuse.

01.  Casablanca.  If you did not know this was coming, you have not been following me for very long.  It may be Casablanca, but we’ll always have Paris.  Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henried, Claude Reins, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre and a supporting cast that look like they belong in the French Moroccan city.

Find trailers for the top 10 here on my You Tube channel.

TRUTH WON’T BEAT TRUMP

Democrats keep thinking — erroneously — that you can counter Trump with truth. By presenting accurate information. By countering his wild, unsupported claims with facts. Surely if we show up his lies and deceptions, his followers will realize he is a blowhard demagogue with no actual accomplishments or ideas?

Problem is, people don’t follow Trump because they believe what he says. They neither know nor care whether or not he is telling the truth.


Trump supporters do not care about facts, truth, right, or wrong.

They don’t care if he’s making it up or talking out of his ass. They do not even care whether or not he has any intention of keeping his promises. Nor do they care when he changes what he says whenever it’s politically expedient. They don’t care if he has no platform or proposed plans. And quite probably is completely amoral or immoral … and possibly, a traitor.

Trump followers need someone to affirm their fears and hates. They crave validation. Trump says what they want to hear. He authenticates their fears and validates their sense of betrayed entitlement. He tells them it’s okay to hate, to be a racist. He tells them they should be afraid of becoming marginal people in this changing world.

When Trump said “I love stupid people” it may have been one of the rare times he was telling the truth.

Trump-failure

And then Donald J. Trump tells them that only he can fix things. Only he. He is the man, the only person who can make the world right.

We call such people dictators. Donald Trump does not want to be President. He wants to be king.

And because ‘his people’ do not care if he can or will fix anything, having someone powerful agree with them and tell them they are right is enough. They will vote for him because he validates and affirms them. He makes them feel good. Empowered.

This is how Hitler took over Germany. This is the demagogue’s playbook.

He could win. All he needs is for you and you and you to keep saying there’s no difference between Hillary Clinton, a woman who has spent her entire life in public service, and Donald Trump, a man who has spent his entire life ripping off other people to enrich himself.

Donald Trump won’t make America great again. America is great. What he will do is tear this country to pieces, set neighbor against neighbor, race against race. He will eliminate centuries of diplomacy and relations with other countries and make us the laughing-stock outcast nation of the world.

Oh, and we’re going to hand him the nuclear codes. That’s a swell idea.

BLOW YE WINDS

The wind out of Cleveland stank. It was a dark, hot wind full of pollutants. It left everything it touched covered with soot and grit. The Man-Who-Would-Be-King, or as Garry calls him “Orange Head,” was a mighty wind. Warning us all that we live in a dreadful, dangerous country and have everything to fear, including fear itself. But he, our self-proclaimed savior and possibly America’s first-ever home-grown fascist demagogue would save us. He — and only he — can Make America Great Again.

It was a real shock to me. I think America is pretty great right now and always has been.

Then the wind started blowing up from the south, up from Philadelphia. A gentler cooling breeze. It carried the scent of hope and a future of which we can be proud. Finally, last night, Hillary Rodham Clinton, America’s first woman major-party presidential candidate gave us a line which resonated.

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“Aah,” I said.

“Ooh,” said Garry.

And suddenly, everyone was picking up the line and passing it around the cyber world.

I wouldn’t trust Donald Trump to not steal my silver on his way out the door. Or stab me with a kitchen knife, dull blade and all. I can’t control the winds that blow. It is the nature of wind to go where it will, but for a few days this week, the wind was fresh, warm, and scented with flowers.

THE DAILY POST | WIND

THE WEEK DRAWS TO A CLOSE

I got to see some really great x-rays of my spine yesterday. Garry got to see them too and I gave him a short course in why Marilyn’s back hurts. And how come what hurts also keeps my spine in one piece.

FYI, I'm a level 4 -- or was at the time of my surgery.

I was level 4 at the time of my surgery.

When I was 20 years old (1967), my vertebrae L3 through L5 were surgically fused. Not the way they do it today using hardware, but by taking a piece of my hip bone, pounding it into paste, and thence into glue. They first removed (to the extent they could back then, before micro instrumentation) the discs which were herniated and ruptured. Not doing me any good anyhow. They did their best to wrap the nerves to protect them from additional damage. Then, they  doped me up, wrapped me in plaster from armpit to knees, and told me not to move for a year.

I was in the hospital for four months. Flat on my back. Then I was at home for a long time. As soon as I felt better, I got pregnant.

They don’t do the surgery like that anymore. Nowadays, the surgery is entirely different. Plus, they get you out of bed and on your feet the day after surgery. But, this was 1967.

Treatment had begun to change even then, but change hadn’t made it to Oceanside, Long Island where I had my surgery. I should have gone to a more up-to-date hospital. I would have saved myself some pain and misery, though I think, in the end, the results would have been pretty much the same.

Fast forward 49 years. The fusion disintegrated decades ago, but nature is creative. My body provided its own version of fusion using calcium. That calcification is called arthritis, but it has effectively stabilized my spine. It hurts, but I’m not falling apart. This back won’t easily break.

There’s also nothing to be done about it. No surgery. My hips are terribly painful, but my hips are fine. The pain is reflected (deflected?) pain from my spine. So how come my back hurts too? If the pain is going to make something else hurt, shouldn’t it not hurt there too?

Spondylolisthesis-1What’s an aging lady to do? I can’t do MRI because I have a pacemaker and it isn’t one of the fancy ones that are immune to magnetism. I should have a warning label that says “Keep away from magnets.” An MRI is all about magnetism, so I’ll have to settle for a simple CAT scan.

Then, off to the spine folks and see if they are able and willing to try injecting cortisone and lidocaine to at least give me a few months of relative comfort. They might not be willing to do it. My back has scared some pretty impressive medical professionals. And if they can and will do it, there’s no guarantee it would help.

The good news? That ugly mass of calcification that has formed a solid sheath around my lower spine also guarantees that I can stand on my own feet. I may not walk well or stand straight, but I’m also not falling apart. It won’t get better, but it seems likely that it won’t get a lot worse, either. It’s pretty much as bad as it can get.

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Who knew falling off horses when I was a teenager would disable me as a senior. They don’t warn you about that … and I wouldn’t have listened anyway. When you’re 15, you don’t see yourself old and broken. Probably, that’s a good thing.

The good news? My back is close to the same as it was seven years ago. It isn’t noticeably worse, though the CAT scan will paint a clearer picture. For me, not worse is good. Great, even. There are worse things than pain.

BIG STUFF IN BLACK & WHITE

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Large Subjects

Large is, of course, relative. A sunflower is large compared to the bee gathering its pollen, but a mountain is forever big … unless the other mountains nearby are huge.

We took so many pictures in Arizona, there are still hundreds of them I have yet to process. The first three were taken this past January, but (finally) processed today. Because mountains and deserts and giant cacti … you can’t argue with designating them as “large.” And per Cee’s advice, I’ve been having fun playing with filters.

Three big date palms under a bigger dome of sky against a huge backdrop of mountains & desert

Three big date palms under a bigger dome of sky against a huge backdrop of mountains & desert

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear …

The Superstitions are big, but so are the saguaro ... and that wonderful, big sky ...

The Superstitions are big, but so are the saguaro … and that wonderful, big sky …

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And here, we have a pretty big boat in the driveway of a rather small house.

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Cee's Black & White Photo Challenge Badge

A BUSY WEEK

This is a crazy busy week. Dogs and doctors.

Two weeks ago, Garry pulled his shoulder (the one on which he had rotator cuff surgery seven years ago) lifting Bishop into the Jeep. He needed to see the ortho doc today.

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I haven’t had the leisure to take many pictures or write posts. I’m surprised I’ve done as much as I have. It’s like dancing between the raindrops.

In answer to your unasked question, Garry is (apparently) okay. He hurts and it’ll take a few more weeks of healing for the pain to diminish. It’s probably a sprain, not a tear. Which doesn’t make it hurt less. As for me, I’m off to the arthritis specialist tomorrow. I’ve been avoiding this for a few years because the news on my spine is never good and the answer is always the same: there’s nothing to be done except control the pain. Bummer.

Garry’s going to be in New York next week. I’ll have plenty of time to write. Meanwhile, as our personal juggernaut drives relentlessly through a personal calendar that barely leaves me time to cook a meal, much less eat one, I’ll be thinking of you.

DNC democratic national convention logo_2016

Tonight, watching the DNC, I was proud to be a Democrat, the party that talks about inclusion and coming together. We ain’t perfect, but we are not demonizing minorities and spewing hate. We fight among ourselves, but in the end we are for America and for each other. And that makes me feel pretty good in a year when Orange Head is telling everyone we should be afraid of everyone, and especially each other.

I’m not afraid. I bet neither are you.

Today’s Daily Post theme is “unstoppable.” I’m hoping that’s exactly what we are. Unstoppable, brave, and honorable.

RETURN OF CEE’S WHICH WAY CHALLENGE

Cee’s Which Way Challenge – July 27, 2016

Lots of road pictures in my world. For people who don’t travel much, we seem to be on the road all the time. Lots of little trips … vets, doctors, groceries, friends, the pharmacy … and back again.

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And everywhere … construction. From the day after the snow melts until the next time the snow falls, almost every road in the northeast is being repaired, upgraded, resurfaced. It never seems to end.

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Cee which way photo challenge

5 REASONS WHY TRUMP WILL WIN – MICHAEL MOORE

This is a really scary article. I wish I could find a way to refute it, but I can’t. It is certainly food for thought. And the stuff of nightmares.

By: politicalavenue-com

By: politicalavenue-com


Friends:

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I gave it to you straight last summer when I told you that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee for president. And now I have even more awful, depressing news for you: Donald J. Trump is going to win in November. This wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown and full-time sociopath is going to be our next president. President Trump. Go ahead and say the words, ‘cause you’ll be saying them for the next four years: “PRESIDENT TRUMP.”

Never in my life have I wanted to be proven wrong more than I do right now.

I can see what you’re doing right now. You’re shaking your head wildly – “No, Mike, this won’t happen!” Unfortunately, you are living in a bubble that comes with an adjoining echo chamber where you and your friends are convinced the American people are not going to elect an idiot for president. You alternate between being appalled at him and laughing at him because of his latest crazy comment or his embarrassingly narcissistic stance on everything because everything is about him. And then you listen to Hillary and you behold our very first female president, someone the world respects, someone who is whip-smart and cares about kids, who will continue the Obama legacy because that is what the American people clearly want! Yes! Four more years of this!

You need to exit that bubble right now. You need to stop living in denial and face the truth which you know deep down is very, very real. Trying to soothe yourself with the facts – “77% of the electorate are women, people of color, young adults under 35 and Trump can’t win a majority of any of them!” – or logic – “people aren’t going to vote for a buffoon or against their own best interests!” – is your brain’s way of trying to protect you from trauma. Like when you hear a loud noise on the street and you think, “oh, a tire just blew out,” or, “wow, who’s playing with firecrackers?” because you don’t want to think you just heard someone being shot with a gun. It’s the same reason why all the initial news and eyewitness reports on 9/11 said “a small plane accidentally flew into the World Trade Center.”

We want to – we need to – hope for the best because, frankly, life is already a shit show and it’s hard enough struggling to get by from paycheck to paycheck. We can’t handle much more bad news. So our mental state goes to default when something scary is actually, truly happening. The first people plowed down by the truck in Nice spent their final moments on earth waving at the driver whom they thought had simply lost control of his truck, trying to tell him that he jumped the curb: “Watch out!,” they shouted. “There are people on the sidewalk!”

Well, folks, this isn’t an accident. It is happening. And if you believe Hillary Clinton is going to beat Trump with facts and smarts and logic, then you obviously missed the past year of 56 primaries and caucuses where 16 Republican candidates tried that and every kitchen sink they could throw at Trump and nothing could stop his juggernaut. As of today, as things stand now, I believe this is going to happen – and in order to deal with it, I need you first to acknowledge it, and then maybe, just maybe, we can find a way out of the mess we’re in.

READ FULL ARTICLE (and there’s a lot more worth reading!)

DAILY POST | CRISIS

SCOTTIES AT FURRY FRIENDS SALON & SOCIAL CLUB

Grooming day! Time to take the fur-people to Furry Friends Grooming and Social Club. Do not be deceived by the humble exterior. This is a class act.

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Gibbs has never learned to walk on a leash, so if you put a leash on him, he just locks all four legs. You have to drag and coax him. Bonnie has never received any formal training, but she will walk along reasonably nicely anyhow, with occasional twining about your ankles … in case you aren’t paying attention.

We didn’t have to be at the salon until noon, so we were spared our version of “rush hour.” On some level, it’s always rush hour around here. The roads are all two lanes, one in each direction … or less. A slow driver (there are so many!) and road construction (everywhere from March through November) turn even a few cars into a traffic jam.

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Whatever they are doing in downtown Uxbridge, it involves heavy equipment with caterpillar treads and massive fork lifts with earth moving scoops. Drains perhaps? New water mains for the town where there is “city water” rather than private wells? They’ve been working on this project for a couple of years. Like most projects in Massachusetts, it promises to go on more or less forever. Garry says when he came to Boston in 1970, they were working on the Mystic River bridge. They are still working on it. That’s 46 years plus however many years they were working on it before Garry moved here. I think this is our state’s answer to unemployment. If you never finish a project, at least a few people will have a job.

But … I digress.

We managed to get both Scotties into the back of the Jeep … a much more comfortable arrangement for all of us compared to previous vehicles. At least they are on a flat surface and cannot decide to help drive the car. Bonnie is a very persistent back seat river and will periodically try to move into the front seat to provide more direct input to whoever is driving — nearly always Garry.

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It took us just half an hour to get there. A possible land speed record for getting from Uxbridge through Milford. We delivered the little dogs. Had a conversation about grooming them to look like Scotties and not deformed poodles. Nothing against poodles, but Bonnie and Gibbs are Scottish Terriers. They look silly with plumed tails or tufted ears. Pom-poms do not look well on short-legged terriers.

We settled on modified Scottie clips. I like their faces with eyebrows and beards, but I want everything else shaved close since these guys revel in filth. They don’t appreciate our attempts to change their earthy odor to something more pleasing to human noses. They do the best to return to their previous grungy state as soon as possible.

While we talked, Gibbs carefully marked the room lest some other dog not know he had been there. He also marked Garry’s leg which was a first for Garry. Probably Gibbs, too. I’m pretty sure it was a sign of acceptance, but unreasonably, Garry didn’t like it.

We went home with construction in full gear. The return drive took longer.

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Garry hit the shower. I made a sandwich. We both took a breath. The phone rang. Gibbs and Bonnie were finished. Ready for their closeups.

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The construction had ended for the day by the time we went back through town which was a gift. I stopped. I bought a lottery scratch ticket — the first time this year — and won $20. That will pay for something. Maybe a trip to MacDonald’s?

Bonnie

Bonnie

Gibbs

Gibbs

They are home. Gibbs survived, though apparently he had prior bad grooming experiences. He freaked out at bath time and subsequently required a two groomer team to keep him from bolting backwards off the grooming table.

I got a couple of pictures of them which are actually (more or less) in focus. You can see their eyes. I swear they know when they look good because Bonnie actually stood still for two nanoseconds while I got one decent head shot.

SHARING MY WORLD – JULY 27, 2016

SHARE YOUR WORLD – 2016 WEEK 30


Do you prefer a bath or shower?

These days, I’d go with a shower because I can get into the bathtub, but I’d need the jaws of life to extract me from it. Going down, gravity is on my side, but up? The Universe is against me … so I’ll stay on my feet, thank you very much.

But, if it’s available, can I please have the bathroom in this picture? I copied it from Cee’s site because I’m in love. I could live there full-time. Maybe add a bookcase, a small laptop. I’d never come out. That is a bathroom to die for.

If you had an unlimited shopping spree at only one store, which one would you choose? Why?

Amazon. They have everything. You can buy a house and a car and everything else on Amazon … and have two-day delivery too.

If you could be one age for the rest of your life, what age would that be?

I think I’d be me about ten years ago. When I was thin, but not emaciated. Before cancer and heart disease, but old enough to have a real brain in my head.

Marilyn - at Loch Gill

I’ve gotten smarter with age, even if I can’t remember anything. Maybe that’s why I’m smarter.

List at least five movies that cheer you up.

  • Murphy’s Romance (James Garner, Sally Field)
  • Casablanca
  • A Mighty Wind
  • My Favorite Year (Richard Benjamin, director (and it’s really about Mel Brooks and Errol Flynn) … and when I wrote Woody Allen, I was thinking of Radio Days, which I forgot to include and which Woody directed)
  • Tombstone (Righteous violence … YES!)
  • Rustler’s Rhapsody
  • A Little Romance
  • The Wind and the Lion
  • History of the World, Part I
  • The Americanization of Emily

There are so many more I could add. Really, anything that makes me laugh will cheer me up. Above and beyond, any movie with good performances and a well written script will make me happy. As long as it isn’t too “noir.”