THE BAY IN THE BACK

This is a nice little piece of Boston history. Most people don’t realize almost all of modern Boston began as landfill projects. I believe Back Bay was the first major city area built on landfill.

This is Real Life.

boston_1630_1675The year was 1630. They looked across a swampy bay that seemed somewhat eerie in how quiet it was. They could see their boats in the distance bobbing up and down in their newly made harbor. The smell of the mud and animals wafted up toward them as they stared into the future of what this land could behold.

Almost 400 hundred years later, I looked across the same water. It was in a very different shape now; wrinkles and hills still shaping the streets of the old city. Boston has been shaped and melded into an industrial, financial, and scholarly city that is very different from its beginnings.

I was taken to Boston the new-fangled way, a very different trip than the first settlers. Boston Logan International Airport is fairly atypical for a large city because it’s so close to downtown. It took a quick subway ride to get to…

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LIKE DRY LEAVES

WEEKLY WORDPRESS PHOTO CHALLENGENOSTALGIA | THE DAILY POST


I am not as nostalgic about the past as most people. I had a difficult and often unpleasant growing up and it’s hard to put aside the unhappy child to find happy memories. They get tangled.

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It is in the autumn where whatever good memories exist continue to live. That perpetual autumn I can sometimes smell in the air this time of year. It is probably why I love this season. Fall signals the return to school and what passed for “normal” in my world.

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I was a New Yorker. I’m sure it was cooler there 50 plus years ago than it is today. Especially in the fall.

And, I loved school. I know this was not a popular point of view in the kid world, but I loved it. Home kind of sucked. School was better. Orderly. I had assignments. Things to learn. Teachers didn’t beat students and there were very few moments of sheer terror to cope with. Unlike home. In generating fear, schoolyard bullies were amateurs compared to my father.

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The thing I remember best and most fondly were the sound of the leaves crunching under my squeaky new leather shoes. The shoes always gave me blisters, no matter what salesmen in stores told my mother about the perfect fit. I don’t know why she believed them when they told her the shoes fit, but never believed me when I told her they hurt.

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

SHARING MY WORLD ON THE LAST DAY OF SEPTEMBER

I can’t believe it’s the end of September. My head is spinning with the swift passage this year from spring through summer … with a trip to nightmare caterpillar attack in the middle.

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Exactly one year ago … the colors weren’t up yet then, either. Next week.

Well, it is here and no way around it. I love the fall, though it doesn’t look much like it yet. Still not much color showing around here, but probably more in town … which is where we will go over the weekend. Right now, we are still trying to keep Garry warm and cozy while his cold goes away.

And now …

A class you wish you would have taken?

Honestly? I can’t think of one. I pretty much took whatever I felt like, which is why it took me a long time to finish a degree, what with changing majors three (four?) times. Sometimes, I’m not clear on what my major finally turned out to be. I think Drama. Or maybe Speech. Possibly both?

What’s your favorite comic figure and why?

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Always have had a soft sport for the Supe. He could fly. If he flew very fast against the earth’s rotation, he made time go the other way, as in backward. No one would do that again until Captain Kirk did it in Star Trek. But Superman did it first and he didn’t need no stinking starship!

Name something you wish you could like.

Soy curd. Can’t stand the stuff. I wish I didn’t hate it, but I really do. Yuck.

Tell me about your first crush / first date / first kiss.

No, I don’t think so. Especially since I don’t actually remember who it was, when, or what the circumstances might have been. The one thing I’m sure of was that it was remarkably unimportant. Even when it happened.

Who was your best friend when you were 10?

Mary (left), Marilyn (middle), Carol (right). I think we were about 6 or 7.
Mary (left), Marilyn (middle), Carol (right).

Carol, from next door. From when I first moved into the neighborhood until we finished high school. College changed everything. I was her best friend, but she was not mine. Sometimes, it’s like that.

What sign are you? Do you believe in astrology?

I am a Sun in Pisces, Moon in Scorpio, with a Rising Leo conjunct Saturn (Pluto in the first house). Just saying.

Marilyn's Horoscope

Share Your World – 2016 Week 39

share your world cee banner

ROUND AND ROUND – CEE’S B & W PHOTO CHALLENGE

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Circles and Curves


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From the watch on your wrist to the clock on the tower … from the wheels of your car, to the wheel that spins the thread. Inventing the wheel was one giant step for human technology. It is the basis of pretty much every else, in one way or the other.

Cee's Black & White Photo Challenge Badge

 

DOUBLE TROUBLE – THURSDAY SPECIAL

Thursday’s Special: Double


When you have two black Scottish Terriers that you, yourself have trouble telling apart at a quick glance, double is what you see. The two pups together are more obviously different. Gibbs is bigger, longer, and lower. He’s more “doggy” and Bonnie is more “bitchy” which is as it should be. Gibbs is stronger and more gracefully athletic. Bonnie is bouncy, cheerful, the happiest dog in this best of all possible worlds, the Candide of small dogs.

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And then there are the swans and the geese. Both mate for life and you will rarely see one bird without the other nearby.

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swan 93

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THE PROBLEM WITH TRUMP – THE NEW YORKER

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One of the more positive side-effects of this awful election has been that I have found myself back in the folds of “The New Yorker.” Not only because they have the best cartoons of any magazine anywhere and only partly because they have Andy Borowitz whose satiric pieces always make me laugh out loud. Good laughs have been hard to find this year and I think it will only get worse.

No, they also have some really good movie and book reviews plus political commentary. And above all, I agree with them. I know I’m not supposed to admit that I really like reading stuff with which I agree, but there it is. My guilty secret. If I agree with it, and it’s witty, well-written … and I wish I had written it … then it’s even better.

Take a look at this article by Adam Gopnik, The Problem With Trump Isn’t His Debating Skills. I found myself nodding and mumbling “yes, yes, yes” until I got to the closing lines. Then, had I not been sitting in my living room with only my dogs to wonder if I’d lost my mind, I would have cheered. Because he said this:

Pass over quickly, for the moment, Trump’s notion that contracts are to be respected depending only on the wayward autocratic impulse of the richest party to the contract. Think, instead, again, of one of the last subjects of the debate—his misogyny. By sexism, we mean something specific, not the business of appreciating beauty—if Trump wants to host beauty contests, let him—but the habit of conceiving of a woman as being a lesser species, one defined exclusively by appearance. His cruelty to Alicia Machado was unleavened by any apparent respect for her as a human being in any role other than as an envelope of flesh—an attitude he only doubled down on the following morning by complaining that she presented what he saw as an obvious problem as a reigning Miss Universe: she had gained “a massive amount of weight” (by Trump standards, that is). Again, this wasn’t a problem of how he chose to present his beliefs; the problem is with the beliefs. This wasn’t a question of preparation. It was that the things he actually believes are themselves repellent even when coherently presented. This was not a bad performance. This is a bad man.”

I couldn’t say it any better. I’m not sure anyone could say it better.

SWAG-WEAR FOR ALL

SERENDIPITY HEADER--Flare-AtteanView_003

Just as self-publishing has redefined authorship for many people, so has the “design-your-own” clothing business changed what we wear. Specialty shirts for teams, schools, and organizations have long been an industry, but in recent years “swag wear” has become ubiquitous. It’s everywhere. There’s slogan clothing for anything you can think of. And a whole bunch of stuff you would never have thought of.

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You can find a commemorative shirt for movies, authors (living and dead), as well as every book and concert tour … not to mention TV shows and their individual characters, historical, alive, or fictional — and any combination of the aforementioned.

I don’t remember exactly when tee-shirts with clever sayings became the clothing of choice for everybody, but if I had to take a guess, I’d say about 30 years ago.

Marilyn and Garry by Bette Stevens
Marilyn and Garry by Bette Stevens

That’s the first time I remember buying a tee-shirt that had people stopping me on the street so they could read it. It gave humorous definitions of world religions as they relate to the word “shit.” The only problem was it took a while to get through all the words, so I had to stand there and wait for people to finish reading.

Since then, the world has burst into a blooming bouquet of slogans and logos on all kinds of clothing, though not yet (but never say “never”) on business suits. It will happen. Just please, not yet.

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Somewhere along the line there came into my world “CustomInk” who can make anything you want in the way of a tee-shirt, sweatshirt, mug, mousepad, pen, calendar, or poster. You name it, they can put your design on it.

Use a photograph, drawing, or use the company’s design tools to create something that says “me” or “you.”  I’ve done both. I’ve designed special shirts as Christmas and birthday presents … and of course for Serendipity because … well … why not? Of all the enterprises in which I’ve participated throughout my life, this one is the most “me.”

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There are hundreds, probably thousands of places doing custom design and printing. CustomInk happens to be the one with which I have worked. Despite sticker shock, I’ve never been disappointed with the quality of the product. I tend to reward companies that do good work by continuing to give them my work … however little it may amount to in the overall scheme of things.

Since the subject in this week’s “Discover” challenge is essentially “clothing that defines us,” what could possible define us more than unique clothing we design and create?

I should also point out what I kick I get out of designing stuff. I’ve always enjoyed design, whether it was illustrations for a technical guide, a book cover … or a tee-shirt. There’s a special satisfaction in designing apparel. It’s not high fashion, but it’s my fashion. These days, you don’t have to wait for someone else to come up with your perfect fashion statement.

You can make your own statement. Using your own words and pictures.

WordPress DISCOVER | OUTER LAYERS

WATERY WHICH WAYS

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – September 28, 2016


Having spent much of last week by the water in Connecticut, we have a lot of pictures. Pretty much all of them show water. By the dock, in front of the dock. All this week’s ways are watery.

Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Marilyn Armstrong
Photo: Marilyn Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Marilyn Armstrong
Photo: Marilyn Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong

Cee which way photo challenge

ON BEING DISAGREEABLE

It’s a real thing and it’s a TV thing. It’s a local thing. It’s international, too.

People are rude. Not argumentative and contentious. They are also that, especially in the heat of battle, so to speak. It goes beyond that. They are rude because it seems that politeness, civility, and simple good manners are currently out-of-fashion. Saying please — and sounding like you mean it — and thank you (and really meaning it) are missing-in-action.

You see it on TV shows a lot.

Scenario 1: The reporter is interviewing a subject. Instead of asking questions, he’s acting as if he’s a cop with a guilty perp. He’s interrogating his subject. He won’t let him fully answer the question before he fires off another shot across the bow. Why?

Garry got great interviews by asking questions politely, then waiting for the answer. Listening to what the interviewee said … and then following up with relevant questions. Especially if you’re dealing with people you will have to get interviews from regularly — the mayor, the police chief, judges, politicians — what’s the point of antagonizing them? You get more from people who like you than people who want to throttle you.

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Scenario 2: The cop is asking people if they’ve seen a person and holds up a picture. (Alternate scenario, cop stops driver and asks the ritual question “Sir/Madam, do you know how fast you were going?”) The kid, guy, gal, whoever — and I’ve seen this in as many shows originating in the U.K. as in U.S. versions — snarls something nasty and surly.

Okay. I get that you don’t like police, but why rile up the man with the gun and badge? Now he’s going to take a much harder look at you. You don’t really want that, so if you don’t want to coöperate, why not be civil anyhow? It could save you a ticket. Or a bullet. Rudeness is always counter-productive.

You see it in everyday. You ask the person packing your bags at the supermarket to please not put the bread (or eggs) under the heavy stuff because squashed bread is hard to use for sandwiches. They sneer at you like you’re some kind of senile old bat. Bet they wouldn’t feel that way if it was their bread arriving home flattened and useless.

Half of the world’s problems would disappear overnight if everyone would be nice. Sounds simplistic, I know but there are plenty of horrendous life-and-death issues to grapple with. Saying “please” and “thank you” while omitting the sarcasm might go quite a way towards lowering the temperature of our over-heated world.

Manners are free, you know? Civility doesn’t cost a single penny. They would not increase the national debt or require more taxation. Being nice, kind, thoughtful, and polite to others doesn’t make you a sissy. It makes you a citizen. A good one.

I’m absolutely sure being disagreeable, snarky, nasty, and sarcastic never improved a relationship or a situation. And best of all, being polite, being nice feels good.

DISAGREE | THE DAILY POST

NATURE’S FIRST GREEN IS GOLD

CEE’S FUN FOTO CHALLENGE: LIGHT GREEN


Light green is the color of springtime. It’s the color of new leaves, young grass … and my favorite earrings.

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nothing gold can stay

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The Japanese Maple is first tree to show green in the spring, yet is the last to lose its leaves in autumn.

spring on the canal

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CFFC

SLEEPING IN. OR NOT.

It’s raining. Not heavily. Not enough to make up for all the dry months this spring and summer.

It’s exactly enough to make the dogs unhappy. Our dogs — Gibbs and Bonnie — and for that matter, almost all the dogs who have gone before them (with a few notable exceptions) do not, did not, like rain. More accurately, going outside when it’s raining.

To sleep perchance to dream

I don’t understand their aversion to rain, especially in view of their fondness for pretty much anything else the weather can throw at us. They like dirt, they like digging in mud. Gibbs thinks paddling in his water bowl is an Olympic sport. Yet, irrational or not, they don’t like rain.

Snow? Not a problem. It can be blowing a full blizzard and they’ll go out to play.

Rain? No way, mom. We are not going out there. Yuck.

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Why? You’d have to ask them. What it means to me, is unless I get up and tell them to go out, then make them stay out long enough to “do something,” they will leave me pools and piles right in front of the doggy door. They get there, stick their little heads out, realize it’s raining and that’s as far as they go, unless I exert my authority. They’re sure that wet stuff falling from the sky is my fault and I should make it stop. Since it always stops … eventually … I guess it proves them right.

I was up at 5. I was up at 6:30. At 8. At 9, the phone began to ring. I have it set to silent nights, but my phone’s programming is inflexible on the definition of “night.” Night ends at 9 in the morning. Short of turning off the ringer completely, 10PM to 9AM are the maximum number of hours for which I can prevent it from ringing. It’s got such a raucous ringtone and is so near my head when I’m in bed, there’s no ignoring it.

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Between 9 in the morning and 11 when I reluctantly got up for the day, the phone rang six times. One-two-three-four-five-six. Garry has a cold, so he’s staying in bed as long as possible. It was raining. I had nothing planned. There was no reason on earth for me to get up early …

I don’t remember the details of each call, but none of them were personal or relevant. One was a bill collector for someone who hasn’t lived here for years. I would have told them to stop calling me (they call dozens of times a week), but it’s a recorded message so there’s no one to talk to. The next one, though, was someone trying to sell me an extended warranty on a car we sold a couple of year ago. She was a live human person, so I could say “Sold it, go away. Don’t call again.” Click. (Someone else from the same company called later anyway. So much for getting them to stop calling me.)72-Phones_04

One of the subsequent calls was a recorded message assuring me I’d won a long weekend in Bermuda if only I would agree to participate in their survey. No idea what kind of survey it was, but I don’t participate in surveys. All they really want is personal information they can use to target you for further phone calls.

It was a recording, but they left a pause during which you could say “NO!!” and I did. I swear the recorded messenger was baffled why I wouldn’t want a FREE VACATION IN BERMUDA. Right. There’ll be a real free vacation when pigs have wings. The recording said “You really don’t want a free vacation? You said ‘No?”

“NO” I yelled into the phone. Again. Then, I clicked off. I miss the days when you could slam the phone into the cradle. Pressing off is not nearly as satisfying.

I’m pretty sure the pace of these calls has recently picked up. There seems to be no way to dump them because most of the time, there’s nobody on the other end of the line. I am being hounded by robots.

Of course by then, I was up for the day. The phone only rang once more. The same company trying to sell me an extended warranty on a car I no longer own, and another call trying to collect money from that same former tenant.

It’s a conspiracy. It’s the only possible explanation. Unless you have a better one?