CAPERING OR AT LEAST NOT FALLING DOWN

Photos by Garry Armstrong


Down the canal with a wide-angle lens

I should know by now that whenever we are out shooting, Garry is going to take a bunch of pictures of me. Like many photographers, I hate having my picture taken. I feel old and lumpy and am deeply suspicious of how horrible I’m going to look as opposed to how awful I looked last time.

Marilyn in motion by the canal
Looking for another picture

These are good “action” shots.I love the movement of the dress, the flow of the fabric and the naturalness. I have labeled these as “Marilyn by Garry” for the month of July. Notice how I am not looking at him. As soon as I look, he backs off. He knows I’m terrible if I see the camera!

Searching the canal
Lining up the lilies

CAPERING – OR AT LEAST, NOT FALLING DOWN

JAPANESE MAPLE – FROM BABY TO TEENAGER

72-Jap-Maple_34

The Japanese maple in our garden came home in our car from its birthplace in Maryland. It was just a sprig, planted in a bucket. Eleven years later …

It’s a real tree now. Not entirely grown up. More like a leggy adolescent. But still, it’s a long way from its bucket days.

Because so many people have asked, I’ve added this clip from “The Complete Japanese Maple” which you can look up. I’m pretty sure they will also sell you a tree of your own. Great pictures showing all the sizes of the trees from quite small, to full-size (like ours).


“Japanese maples are the most desirable garden trees that exist. A tree in fall is guaranteed to turn heads and gather admiring looks and the enormous variety of leaf forms, colors and tree shapes means that no matter what your taste or space restrictions, there will be a tree for you. Some grow into small trees 20 feet or more in height, others remain as low shrubs reaching five feet only after many years of growth. They may be upright in form, pendulous or cascading, with red or green leaves and as well as their stunning fall coloring, many have remarkable colors on their new spring leaves too. There are also a wide number of varieties with red or purple leaves all summer, which bring a unique highlight to any garden.

These trees have a reputation for being hard to grow, but this is largely undeserved. With attention given to their location in the garden and some minimal care, they will thrive and increase in beauty every year. Compared with many other trees and shrubs they have few pests or diseases and are versatile enough to thrive in locations ranging from full shade to full sun. They can be grown in the garden, in containers and of course they are ideal subjects for the ancient Japanese art of bonsai.”


Japanese maples also have glorious fall foliage, scarlet and deep yellow, often with red edging. Although I love the red leaf varieties, the autumn tree is so beautiful, it’s worth waiting for. They are among the first to change color and the last to lose their leaves.

THE FORTUNE TELLER WHO RUINED MY GRANDFATHER’S LIFE – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My father was a scientist and a very rational man. He didn’t believe in religion or have any superstitions, except one. He told me to never, ever go to a fortune-teller. He had a logical reason. HIS father had told him an eerie story about HIS experience with a fortune-teller, which had haunted him throughout his life.

My grandfather, on a lark when he still lived in Russia, went to a gypsy fortune-teller in a nearby gypsy camp. He was given a long, detailed story about his future life. Most of the story seemed outrageous, if not impossible at the time. He forgot about the incident. Until, to his dismay, the predictions started to come true, one at a time. I don’t remember all the details but here are a few.

The gypsy told my grandfather that he would serve in the army. At the time in Russia, only first-born sons were conscripted into the army. My grandfather was the third son, so this would never happen. Except that his oldest brother shot off his toes to avoid military service. Then the second oldest brother died suddenly and young. So it fell to my grandfather to take up arms. Just like the gypsy told him. What are the odds?

My father’s father

Next the gypsy told my grandfather that he would take a long journey involving a boat. He had no intention of ever leaving Russia. Until he couldn’t make a good living as a tailor when he finished his military service. Then he decided to come to America – a very long journey, part of it by sea.

The personal details the gypsy told him were the creepiest part of the story. The gypsy told him that he would marry a young woman who would bear him seven children, including a set of twins, but only two of the children would survive. Believe it or not, my grandmother had exactly seven pregnancies, including a set of twins. The oldest and the youngest, my Dad, were the only ones to survive infancy.

By now my grandfather was freaking out! The next prediction by the gypsy was that his wife would die young and leave him to take care of two children on his own. She died of tuberculosis when my Dad was three. The gypsy said that my grandfather would struggle for a few years but would eventually marry a strong woman who would be a good mother to his children. This happened exactly as predicted. His children, aged three and eleven, were latch-key kids until he met his second wife who, my father always said, ‘rescued’ them.

The rest of my grandfather’s life also played out pretty much as the gypsy had told him. He started making a good living. (He was the first to bring the pleated skirt to America). He lived comfortably until his death as an old man for the day – he was in his 70’s.

The story doesn’t end there. My father understood his father’s aversion to clairvoyants. But as a young man, he fell madly in love with a woman who was ‘beyond his reach’. He was a poor, Jewish medical student and she was a proper WASP who wanted a comfortable and respectable life. He was not in a position to give this to her.

My Dad as a young man

My Dad was so smitten, that he took a year off from medical school to pursue the woman full-time! During this period, he came across a fortune-teller. He couldn’t resist finding out if he would ‘get the girl’ in the end. The gypsy told him that the woman would never marry him. She said that the woman would string him along but eventually would marry a man from Chicago who was ‘like a locomotive’. Dad remembers this phrase because it was an unusual way to describe someone.

As predicted, again, despite a long courtship, his paramour eventually sent him a letter breaking off the relationship. She said that she had found a well established, well-off man and was moving to Chicago to marry him. She described him as strong and commanding, ‘like a locomotive!’

Unbelievable!

My father had no rational explanation for any of this. And neither do I.

PATHS AND ROADS BY THE RIVER – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – July 7, 2017


Yesterday we went shooting. We were smarter than usual and stopped to buy a bottle of Cutter’s bug repellent first. Marilyn was already covered by mosquito bites from the mosquitoes inside the house. The bugs were so thick outside they looked like snow. Except they had wings. There were maybe a million tiny yellow moths and another million little black-winged fluttery things. Moths? Butterflies? And of course, millions upon millions of mosquitoes and flying jaws without names.

West Bend along the Blackstone River

Before we exited the car, we sprayed every part of us we could find.

It was bad. Really awful. We could feel them hitting our backs and landing on our hair. Marilyn fled early when one crawled down the back of her dress. I lasted a little longer.

First bicycle
More bikes
Good bye, bikes

It was a warm, humid day. There were supposed to be fireworks this evening at the Middle School in Uxbridge, but by the time we got home — and it was still daylight — the rain was falling in sheets. There’s a rain date tomorrow. Maybe it will be better, but I doubt we will go. July evenings outside? Think lunch and you are the only thing on the table. Even with all the DEET, I don’t think we have it in us.

Marilyn shooting by the canal

I spent too many years outside covering stories while being eaten by the local insect population. Indoors is a good place this time of year. Screens. Did I mention I hate bugs? Marilyn is afraid of them. I merely hate them.