WHY AM I ASKING YOU? – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Ellen wrote a piece just the other day. She called it THE INMATES ARE RUNNING THE ASYLUM. When I got through reading it and then commenting, I realized I’d written a post. This is one of the better parts of reading and posting on the net. One idea bounces around and out comes a newer idea.


Thinking is like breathing for us. We even do it when we don’t want to. Like asking each other why they are doing dumb things on TV shows when we know it just whatever the writers put there. If it makes no sense, it’s because that’s the way they wrote it. It’s like HEDley Lamarr in “Blazing Saddles.” He poses a question, then turns to camera and says “Why am I asking you?”

Thinking gets us past the daily landmines and guerrilla raids staged by Agent Orange and his minions. A personal casualty is my ability to freely enjoy the late night TV shows. They are all doing bits on the same 45 “presidential” follies of the day. We get the straight story from the top of the “Nightly News”.

Even the news pros seem to be trying not to laugh as they deliver traditional news reports. It’s as if they’re thinking “I can’t believe I’m reporting this stuff”. Marilyn and I process the news reports and exchange our opinions. We usually eat dinner as we watch the news. Sometimes I can feel my stomach moving. The food is always delicious. It must be what I’m seeing. Hearing.

Fast forward a few hours. We’ve relaxed after enjoying Brit Cop Shows or NCIS or whatever is on our viewing menu. I’m feeling fairly good.

We turn to “The Daily Show.” Trevor Noah is a funny, charming and razor-sharp humorist. He does his SCROTUS material. It’s usually funny and spot on. Then he brings on the staff comics to further smack Orange Head. It’s rant comedy and over the next few minutes, my good feeling fade.

The same is true when we turn to Stephen Colbert. Funny, sharp. Clever. Same bits on 45’s daily follies. The irony is we need these comedic observations to remind us what’s going on. They are aimed at thought and reason as well as laughter. But it hurts. Sometimes, actual pain.

Someone — I don’t remember where I saw it so I apologize to whoever I’m stealing this from — said we should only watch news on comedy shows. Part of survival, I think.

It is survival. I wish it was also funnier.

NOT TO WORRY. IT WON’T LAST.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

It was snowing. Pretty hard. We could get 8 or 10 inches before the day was out.

It won’t last.

It’ll sit on the ground for a couple of days until the bitterly cold weather goes away. After that, maybe another day, then whoosh, gone. Spring snows don’t hang around and become part of the furniture. Not like January snows do.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

It was pretty odd this morning, though. Shows you how I’ve stopped watching news even when it’s something I should know.

I got up at around 5. Looked out the window and said WTF?  I shook my aging gray head, and went back to bed. An hour later I got up again. I had  that uneasy feeling of a household with dogs and snow falling. It’s not that the dogs don’t like snow, but they really adore the sofa. Snow is cold. Snow is wet. The sofa is warm and dry.

I threw the dogs out. This involves a running battle with Bonnie who goes down one single step at a time. Looks at me, pleadingly.

“GO OUT!” I say again, and down she goes … one more step. Another look. We do this for all six steps, and then — at the doggy door — she gives me a final, haunted look. I persist. She goes out and the two dogs have a rollicking good time because they don’t really mind snow. Once they are outside, it’s just fun and games in the fluff. The whole tortured trip down the stairs is a way of playing mind games with us.

That was when I thought about The Car. We had slipped back into parking it down next to the house. The normal thing to do, unless snow and ice are expected. So, on a sort of whim, I turned on the computer. Big note from the Boston Globe (to which we subscribe, thank you) that it’s beautiful “up here” — meaning Boston — but if you live anywhere below the Pike (Route 90) or anywhere else down south, it’s a whole other story.”

Photo: Garry Armstrong

For such a little state, Massachusetts has a busy weather department. Down here, it was snowing and would keep snowing until late in the day. Maybe collecting as much as 10 inches.  And, the story continued “With bitterly cold weather coming in tonight …”

I sighed. Shook Garry. Asked him where he left the car. “Down by the garage,” he said. Note that the garage isn’t a garage. It’s a shop and a small storage room, so the car lives in the driveway. I told him it was snowing and I hated to bother him, but …

He got up. Put on the pants,  boots, vest, coat, gloves — and moved the car to the top by the road. We should have paid more attention to the weather last night — I’m sure they mentioned this — but the news is depressing. We listen to as much of it as we can handle, then move on to other things. Mostly murder mysteries. I decided we were NOT getting snow. Period.

We got snow. It will be gone in a couple of days. The earth is warm from the past few weeks of almost summer weather.

There will be a lot of chilly, wet spring days when it appears nothing is happening at all, but the buds will grow fat. A day will come, maybe around the end of April or early in May. Suddenly, it will be GLORIOUS AND BEAUTIFUL. Everything will burst into flower and the trees will go from bare branches to full leaf between late morning and early afternoon.

That’s when the caterpillars will show up.


I wrote this before the prediction came up that next week will be just as bad as this one. Worse, actually. Nonetheless, when all is said and done … we’ll still have caterpillars eating the trees.

WHICH WAY IN OUR SECOND WINTER – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – March 10, 2017


Two weeks ago, it was summer here in the Blackstone Valley. No, really. Summer. Tee-shirts. Fishing. It was beautiful. It wasn’t a single day. It was a couple of weeks and even after the temperature dropped into the forties, it was still pretty nice out. We began to think that maybe winter really was over.

I am never sure winter is over in New England until the middle of April. I’ve lived here a long time. I’ve seen winter roar back so many times, early and late. So, when Marilyn woke me up this morning to ask me to move the car to the top of our long, sloping driveway, I was not happy. But I also wasn’t surprised.

Winter is back.

Not for the last time, either. Next week we’re expecting (probably) a much bigger storm. It is what it is, but it would be nice if it were something else. Mostly, warm.

TRANSFORMATIVE EXPERIENCES

Most apologies aren’t.

“Well, I’m sorry,” is not an apology. Neither is ” Well sorry to bother you!”  On the domestic front, most mid-battle apologies aren’t worth the paper on which they are not printed. As in “Pardon me for living” and “Sorry, but you’re a fine one to talk!” These rank very low on the sincerity scale.

I have received very few heartfelt apologies in my life and never from anyone who owed me one. When all else fails, pretending nothing happened works pretty well. Amnesia is the backbone of many relationships. When coupled with denial, it’s powerful stuff. I think our entire country is going through some level of amnesia coupled with a hefty dose of denial.

But I digress.

Especially when whatever happened was stupid, no one can remember what it was about anyway. Sometimes, right in the middle of battle, you can’t remember why you’re fighting. That’s a sure sign you should quickly and efficiently change the subject. Watch some television. Maybe something with demons and secret agents.

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I am 70 years old today. No one has apologized for any of the awful things which were done to me. All the people who should have said something are dead, or gone. It’s never happening. I probably would have fainted with shock had anyone said they were sorry and by now, I’d merely find it embarrassing. Thanks for everything and please, go away.

The people who do horrible things worthy of a full, groveling apology will never apologize. They are people who don’t see what they do as wrong. Who feel they have the right to do it because (a) “I have to do what’s right for me,” even if it’s wrong in every other way … or (b) “I’m always right” (and you’re not).

The rest of us? Depending on our ethnic and religious background, we feel varying levels of guilt. In my experience, feeling guilty and being guilty are not the same. Some of us have a high guilt level from birth. It’s part of our cultural package.

Most of us are sinners in a small “s” way. The great big “S” sinners — the really bad guys — won’t be doing any apologizing. Ever. If you’re waiting for your evil former boss, scumbag ex, or abusive parent to — as seen on TV — come to tell you he or she has seen the light? That you are right and he or she was wrong and oh, they are so terribly sorry … can you ever forgive them?

Don’t hold your breath.

Apologies may be transformative experiences. I wouldn’t know. It’s not an experience I’ve had.