FINALLY, THE LONG SHADOWY DAYS OF 2017 DRAW TO AN END

This year has felt like two years, at least on a national and political level. Frankly exhausting. If this were a person’s life, I would be counseling them to try to put a lot less drama in their lives. This much angst isn’t good for anyone, much less a country.

But aside from the painful political mess, it has been a pretty good year. No one got sick and despite everything, the house is still standing. We are significantly poorer, but that is the way our cookie crumbled. I can hope the next will be better, but I’m not holding my breath.

We’re going to eat meatloaf, our best “comfort food” and maybe I’ll go wild and also make mashed potatoes. Double whammy in the comfort food department! We’ll watch the big shiny ball come down in Times Square, kiss each other and load a movie into the DVD player.

May you all have a wonderful evening, whether you’re partying or dressing in PJs and snuggling up. If you live up north, snuggling sound pretty good to me! It’s a cold winter’s night!

I AM HOME – By Rich Paschall

A piece of home alone fiction by Rich Paschall


The alarm went off at 6 am as usual.  Instead of hitting the snooze bar, George turned off the alarm and got up.  It was Wednesday, trash collection day in the small Florida town.  He no longer had Ethel to push him out of bed so he had to muster the resolve to get up and take care of the chores.  Jack, the faithful terrier, got up as well and was running around George’s feet as he tried to go through his morning routine.  Terriers do not lack morning energy.

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After he got dressed and made his way to the kitchen, he started the coffee.  Ethel used to take care of this while George took care of the hyper active dog, but his wife of 40 years was gone now.  George had to make his own coffee.  George had to do all the chores.  George had to eat his meals alone.  This is not the retirement George had envisioned.

A little over two years earlier, George retired and moved from a big Midwestern city to a small town in a warm climate.  This was the retirement George always wanted.  He was no longer going to cut the grass.  There was an association for that.  He was not going to do major repairs because there was an association for that too.  And he certainly was never going to shovel snow again.  Before he moved south, he sold his snow blower, gave away his shovels and winter coats and vowed never to return north in the winter, if at all.

As the coffee was brewing, George set down a fresh bowl of water for a disinterested terrier.  Then he went to the kitchen door that led into the garage.  As he started down the two steps to garage level, he reached for the button that opened the garage door.  At that Jack came racing out the kitchen door and when the garage door was open just enough, he ran under it and onto the front lawn.  There he ran around in a circle for a couple of minutes before looking to see what George was doing.

George was busy dragging the plastic trash can down the driveway to the street where he parked it right next to his old-fashioned mail box.  After that he walked back to get the recycle bins.  One bin held old newspapers and magazines and the other had some cans and bottles.  He put one on top of the other and then maneuvered them on to a two-wheel “hand truck.”  They were too low and too heavy for George to drag down the drive way.  When this task was complete, George went back inside to get his American flag, which he promptly took down to the post that held his mail box.  On the side of the post he had affixed a flag pole holder so his flag could be seen as he came down the street.  George would never admit that it was a reminder of where his driveway began so he could find it easily when he returned from a drive, but that is why it was there.

“Come on, Jack,” George called and the dog raced half way to George and stopped.  It was a game and Jack expected George to play.  George was well aware of this game, every time George would move, the dog would race around in a circle and stop.  There he would wait for George to make another move and the race was on again.  George was too old for the game today and went into the garage and headed toward the kitchen door.  Jack watched carefully from the driveway.  When George hit the button to close the garage door, Jack raced inside.

On their return to the pale yellow kitchen, George put down a bowl of food for Jack.  Then he fixed some toast and took that, a cup of coffee and a newspaper he collected from the front porch and went to sit on the screened-in patio.  Jack came and laid down at his feet.  George liked reading the local news each morning.  Everything about small town America seemed exciting to him.  He read about civic improvements, about events at the library and about meetings at the town hall.  He read about the plans for the upcoming year and even the New Year’s party at a local hall.  George survived Christmas on his own and guessed he would not even be up at midnight on New Year’s Eve.  Without dear Ethel, he had no desire to stay up late.  While ringing in the New Year at a party might help bring back fond memories, they would also recall his dear wife who was gone too soon.  He was not sure he could bear that.

When the news had been devoured, George got up slowly and took his plate and coffee cup to the kitchen sink and placed them there.  He looked all around the room and could not decide on another thing to do so he thought he would go lay down awhile.  It was 10 am.  At that moment, the phone rang.

“Hello,” George said with a hint of surprise that anyone would call him.

“Hello George,” Ethel said softly.

Soon after George and Ethel moved to Florida, Ethel’s father had passed away.  He left her the big family house in rural Iowa.  It was the sort of house Ethel always wanted.  It had a big front porch where she could rock away the summer hours in her own rocking chair and a nice fireplace where she could get warm and read good books all winter.  George had no idea this is what Ethel had wanted for years, just as she had no idea he would take them to Florida on his retirement.  When she got the big Iowa house she announced to George she was moving there without him, and soon thereafter she was gone along with virtually every personal effect she could take.

Once every few months she called to see if George was OK, nothing more.

“Please come home, Ethel,” George said with a heavy dose of sadness in his voice.

“I am home,” she said and quietly hung up the phone.

MY FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPHS – 2017

And what a year it has been! Terrifying politics and weird weather. Dogs and new dogs and a summer that wouldn’t end … plus an autumn that never quite began. Now, it’s New Year’s Eve! This is it. The end and a beginning.

I don’t believe it is already 2018!

Month by month, this was the year that was.

JANUARY


FEBRUARY


MARCH


APRIL


MAY


JUNE


JULY


AUGUST


SEPTEMBER


OCTOBER


NOVEMBER


DECEMBER


I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017

GROWING UP

In my late twenties, we had friends in their 50s. One day I asked Betty at what point she had felt “grown up.” By then, I was thirty-ish, working full-time, raising a son, taking care of a home and married for ten years. I figured I ought to feel grown up.

Betty looked at me and said “I’ll let you know when it happens.”

When I was a kid, I remember wondering when I’d feel grown up. What the “magic moment” would be. Through my working years, I never entirely stopped feeling I was pretending to be an adult. I did adult things, had adult responsibilities. I was a mother, a boss, a career person. In charge of helping my son become a responsible citizen. Yet I still felt like a child.


Having a child made me responsible, but not mature. 

Now, I’m a senior citizen.

Not long ago, I realized I grew up. Somewhere between middle age and getting social security, I stopped being a girl. I’m not sure when it happened or, for that matter, why. The transition was seamless. Invisible. I don’t need to pretend I’m grown up. I am.

My bones tell me I’m mature. My heart reminds me every time I take medication. My body reminds me hourly — I’m not a kid. I rather like the me I became, though whether you think it’s good or bad is an interesting question.

Did maturity change me? I don’t know. Did it? Anyone know?

WEATHER BE US

ALMOST

The oil company’s owner came by to actually look at the condition of the ground this morning. He wasn’t wowed by how terrible it was. I could see him shaking his head as he drove off. We almost have oil.

Wait for it!

Most of our driveway is clear to the pavement with a patches of snow. If this is too terrifying to manage, the driver is going to have problems with at least half the valley residents. I have an evil driveway, but I am by no means the worst … the longest … or the iciest.

If you live in New England, you understand weather. We get a lot of it moving rapidly from steamy, hot, and humid in summer, to bitter, freezing cold with-and-without blizzards in winter. Sometimes, on a really good year, we get a few hurricanes in the fall and one or more nor’easters when the air is bored and wants to do something fun.

Add to that the infertility of the soil and the millions of tons of rocks and roots. We have more boulders per field than anywhere. Why so many people chose this region to settle (or more likely, invade), I have yet to understand. Maybe they had no choice. The boats landed and they were too tired, hungry, and frazzled to go further. Still, if they were looking for a rich and fertile region to co-opt, this isn’t it.

Considering this area is and has always been, a farming community, it’s a strange choice. Beneath the soil, lie rocks, some the size of a small planets. This is where our rock fences came from. Everyone had piles of stones when they cleared a field. What can you do with rocks? Build fences, of course.

We have old stone fences running through areas that haven’t been farmed in more than 100 years and never will be again. At some point, they must have been farmed because the rock fences prove it. But, to no one’s surprise, they gave up and moved on, probably to somewhere with better dirt, flatter ground, and presumably, improved weather.

Light snow falling

It wouldn’t take much to improve the weather.

Just saying.

Final Note


The oil truck arrived and oil is poured into our nearly empty tank. Three barking creatures went into a frenzy because SOMETHING WAS GOING ON AND THEY WERE NOT ON HAND TO SUPERVISE. Soon soothed by a cookie.

We needed 192 gallons — the most oil we ever needed in a single pumping except for the two times they forgot to deliver anything. We would not have made it to Tuesday.

THE BUSINESS OF JURIES

I’ve been frequently called to jury duty. It’s the price you pay for voting because potential jurors get chosen from voter registration lists.

I’m convinced they call us in alphabetical order. It’s the only reason I can figure why Garry and I were called every few months. Good citizens that we are, we always showed up. Coincidentally, our last name starts with an “A.”

Garry and I were called up two or three times a year for more than a decade until one day I called them and said “I’ve had enough!” After that, they slowed down to every other year. I’m pretty sure there’s an outstanding warrant because I didn’t respond to at least one jury summons. It showed up while I was in the hospital trying not to die. So, it’s just possible I’m a wanted criminal.

I figure they’ll get back to me on that.

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They called Garry often, too, but never let him serve. Reporters are like cops. They’ve seen too much. Garry knew the judges, the D.A., the lawyers — and the criminals. And they knew Garry. Knew he knew stuff they preferred he not know. So, no matter how many times they called him, he was in and out in an hour. Maximum two.

I was a better pick. No connection to law enforcement. No lawyers, law suits, or weird political opinions. That I was a free lancer who was going to lose my salary if I couldn’t work did not matter to anyone except me. I went in, sat around. No trial needed me, so I went home. Done, until next time.

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One day, they called me — and I got assigned a trial.

I had instant images of a long criminal trial. Being sequestered for weeks in some fleabag motel. Losing all my clients. Losing my house. I was  not an enthusiastic juror, but when duty calls, you might as well go quietly. Besides, they have officers with guns stationed at the exits.

It turned out to be a minor civil case. One woman hit another at an intersection. Woman A claimed Woman B was jumping the light. Woman B said she had mistakenly thought it was a cross street. There was no evidence except “she said” versus “she said.” I thought both of them were lying. It was a matter of who you believed less. Eleven of my fellow jurors were ready to acquit. I thought we should at least talk about it. But they wanted to go home and pointed out how everyone knows the intersection isn’t a through street. I didn’t, but I have no sense of direction.

There was nothing except a small amount of money at stake. Peer pressure got to me. Eleven people wanted to go home which I was preventing. That sort of thing can get ugly fast. I caved.

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That was more than 25 years.

Tonight, we watched “Twelve Angry Men,” the movie (1957) in which Henry Fonda forces eleven of his peers to reconsider the evidence and fully grasp the concept of reasonable doubt. It’s a great movie which has aged well. Pretty much the way I remember the experience, except we had air-conditioning, sort of.

It left me wondering how many verdicts are based on jurors who just want to go home? How many people are convicted — or acquitted — because the jury couldn’t stand one more minute of examining evidence? How many jurors are bullied into a verdict with which they disagree because they are threatened — emotionally or physically?

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There are no statistics on this and by definition, there won’t ever be any. No one, given the criminal liability and potential physical danger, is going to admit to it. But it makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Next time a jury comes in with some absurd verdict, consider the possibility that at least some of them didn’t freely agree. I’m sure it happens, because it happened to me.

WATER WATER EVERYWHERE …

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Water

We live in a watershed. What, you ask, is a watershed? Well, in theory, all the world is a watershed, to some degree … but technically, a watershed is an area of land where water arrives (as in from rain or snow-melt), then drains into a common outlet. Around here, that would be the Blackstone River and its tributaries, ponds, streams, and lakes.

These are just the areas in Massachusetts with many more in Rhode Island.

Since we moved here in 2000, I’ve been taking pictures of the river, the dams. The ponds where the swans and the herons live. The ducks and the geese and the strange area on the Blackstone where about a million snapping turtles live. After almost 18 years, I haven’t yet seen even half the places we can visit, but we’re working on it!

A STORY SURE TO BECOME FUNNY

Yesterday’s story today

No one should be surprised to hear there was no oil delivery. This is that kind of story. You know, the one where you wait all day for something, but it doesn’t happen? Everyone goes through this, but it never stops being very annoying. Frustrating. Lucky for me, I didn’t wait until we are down to the final few gallons before I requested delivery — so we aren’t going to run out of oil.

Yet.

According to the company, the truck didn’t come because the driver said it was “too icy.” He said he had called us and we weren’t home. Except, he didn’t call. Maybe he dialed the wrong number, but I was extremely in and breathing heavily while waiting for the phone to ring.

We’ve been working with this same company, same trucks, for 18 years. They have delivered oil to us during much worse weather, when the driveway was significantly more icy. I have to assume they hired a particularly wussy driver. Okay, being fair, we have an awful driveway. It came with the house. If there was one thing I could replace in this house, the driveway would be it.

Nonetheless, the driveway is not bad right now. I can easily walk up and down it and we can drive on it without using 4-wheel drive — with no hint of sliding.

And anyway, there’s no choice. We need oil because we heat with oil.

No oil? No heat.

It has been below zero every night for several days, so this is a bad time to refuse to deliver.

We pay for a delivery service. This means I pay for oil every month, including in the summer when we use very little. We have built up a hefty chunk of money in the company’s accounts to cover routine maintenance, any repairs we might need — and oil. There’s always more than enough money in the account. So I was forced to explain they are going to deliver oil, or we are going to have to find someone else to do it.

It’s not what I want to do, but either they deliver or they return our money so we can find someone who can deliver. There’s no shortage of oil delivery services, but I’d prefer to stay with people we know, as long as the people we know can do the job. If they can’t do it, they aren’t giving us a choice.

I much prefer staying with familiar people, but — what do you do with an oil company who can’t or won’t deliver oil?

I hope we get this sorted out today. I hate when simple stuff gets complicated. There are plenty of real complexities to life. This should not be one.

OIL TRUCKS, DOGS, AND AN EXTRAVAGANCE OF BARKING

We need an oil delivery. Last I looked — about a week ago — the gauge indicated just barely a quarter of a tank and it has been very cold outside. The heat has been pumping at a rate far above its normal, relatively languid rate. The truck is supposed to show up today. In a normal home, they come, pump, and leave. That’s the whole story.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

However, we’ve got dogs. Before they enter the yard, I need to secure the three of them so they can safely open the front gate and drag the long, heavy hose across the yard. They tried heaving it over the fence, but the fence collapsed. Now, they unlock it — and we have to dig through however much snow so they can do this. The year we got 12 feet of snow, we did a lot of digging.

I live in mortal terror of dogs running into the road. We don’t have a lot of traffic, but it is always too fast. People drive this road as if no one lives here, but it is lined on both sides with homes. Houses are set far apart, I grant you, but this is no kind of speedway. I sometimes wonder if they are going to whack me at the mailbox. They’ve gotten close.

Generally speaking, it’s easy to get the dogs inside. Food works wonders. If they think there is something in it for them, they are in like flashes. Then,of course, there’s dinner. They are always early for dinner by at least half an hour. From when they think they should get dinner to when they actually do get dinner, they leap into the air and twirl for us, often while barking. Because you know, if they didn’t do that, we’d probably forget to feed them. They can barely survive from meal to meal and still stand steadily on their paws, the poor starving creatures.

I’m strong about this issue. Unless we are going out and need to feed them early, they get dinner at four and occasionally — please, understand that life sometimes causes the dog’s dinners to be deferred — as late as five or six. I try not break down and give them dinner early because if they eat early, they are sure they need another dinner a few hours later.

They do not need another dinner. It’s a lie. They lie like dogs.

Getting them in the house is usually easy. Unless there’s someone or something on the property. A vehicle. A delivery person. A truck in the driveway produces chaos and all bets are off. No bribery will nudge them from their assigned duty of protecting us from deliveries — and neighbors.

Gibbs races around the yard at a speed you wouldn’t think a Scottie could manage while simultaneously barking in a frenzy until whatever was there is gone. This means if it’s a worker — say, the cable guy — who is going to be here a while, Gibbs will continuously race around the yard barking frantically the entire time. It is wearing on everyone’s nerves and it is, as far as we can tell, impossible to get him to shut up — or  even come inside. The few times we have convinced him to come in, he still barks the whole time. Inside. Barking.

Bonnie gives a few friendly “got a cookie?” barks. She’s fine with everybody. Not a great watch dog and lacking the deep suspicion of strangers Gibbs and Duke have.

Duke goes all protective — a 40-pound coil of canine protection, including a considerable amount of growling. He’s not obedient any time, but with someone in the driveway and in particular, a truck? He is The Guardian. If the oil people are coming, I need to have them call me before they open the gate. All drivers have cell phones, so it’s not so hard. As soon as we get the call, Garry and I race out to corral the dogs and lock the dog’s door.

This was easier when we were younger.

We could try to keep them inside, but they have lost that “tell your people when you need to go out” thing dogs usually have as part of housebreaking. They know they can always get outside, the same way we know the bathroom is just down the hall. It is one of the side effects of having a door of their own. I’m not sure they entirely recognize that “out” is a different place than “in.” It’s all just “home” to them.

So today, we wait for when cometh the oil delivery.  As I type, the dogs are calm, collected, peacefully resting on the sofa. Yet I know, at any moment, the truck will show up and these same peaceful dogs will become insane balls of fiery protective energy.

It’s fortunate we don’t need oil very often.

MARTYR – I’M NOT AND YOU AREN’T EITHER

I don’t know any martyrs. Historically, there are plenty to choose from, but in the context of “real life,” I don’t know any.

I’m not a martyr. Not even close. Whatever sacrifices I have made on behalf of my beliefs, they never came anywhere near martyrdom. Discomfort or disruption to your normal life does not make you a martyr. Taking care of your kids, working at jobs you don’t like, or struggling to survive? None of these make you a martyr.

This is one of those greatly overused words, along with “awesome,” “resonate,” and the ubiquitous “back in the day.”

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How many times have I read “I’m a martyr to housework.” Really? What strange belief system do you follow?

You are not a martyr, even if you are depressed and miserable. If merely being miserable were enough for martyrdom … well … who wouldn’t be one? These days, there are an awful lot of thoroughly wretched people and if you don’t believe me, read a few columns in Facebook and count the whining, pathetic chorus.

In the “not a martyr” category, I assure you that neither your father, mother, or any of your friends were or will be martyrs. Even if they served in the military or worked in a coal mine.

English is a wonderful, rich language. We have millions of words. Which means the language has a special word for pretty much everything.  “Martyr” is a specific term, often used incorrectly to mean “dedicated,” “dutiful,” “honorable,” “generous,” or “self-sacrificing.” Unless you are in jail and likely to die for your political or religious beliefs, you are not a martyr nor will you be.

Dedicating your life to a cause doesn’t make you a martyr. On the other hand, if they kill you because of your faith and dedication, then you have achieved the basics of martyrdom. Remember though. The bad guys can torture you, but unless they really kill you, you don’t get the full title.

I’d last about 10 seconds under torture. The threat alone would make me spill my guts. I guess I’m lucky I don’t know anything important enough to kill me for, eh?

So, in the name of keeping us all sane, if you have a dark secret, spare us both a problem and keep it to yourself. Please.

TWO BABY DUCKS AND A COUPLE OF KIDS

Every once in a while, I have a dream so weird, I write it down. I write it while I’m basically still asleep and sometimes, when I’m awake and I read what I wrote, it’s … well … almost as weird as the dream itself. For example …


I found 2 baby ducks with wings tinted mauve. I brought them home to live in a lake on the third floor of our condo. They needed food to eat, so I went downstairs where it was now the city of Boston. Apparently we had a pet store right under the house, so I bought them food and went back upstairs to feed the babies.

At which point, I realized that the two little ducks were small children though sometimes, they were also two baby ducks. Both ducks and children seemed surprisingly mature.

Garry and I decided to take the whole crew out for dinner. The restaurant was one of the places where only rich folks usually go, but both ducks and children apparently knew all about the markets and which companies would do well in the coming year. All the brokers were listening to the ducks or children. It was hard to tell.

By now, there were two children, both about 7, maybe older and they were giving advice to the traders in the restaurant. I think that’s when I started to scream. Too many children and ducks and the restaurant served tiny portions. That would make anyone scream.


And here it is, a week later and I haven’t the slightest idea what — if anything — it meant. Especially the baby ducks with the mauve wings.

Why mauve?

DOGS, TOYS AND A HOLIDAY

We gave them three brand new Kong toys … the only ones worth buying because they are the only ones that last longer than a couple of minutes. Of the three, the one that looked like a little Teddy Bear disappeared entirely within minutes of Bonnie adopting it, but has reappeared several times. I saw it as recently as this morning, but when we came back from the hospital, I saw it on the far side of the front yard near the other gate.

We gave the strange birdlike stuffed creature to The Duke and eventually when Gibbs appeared, gave the Dodo to him.

Sometimes missing toys reappear. Others vanish and are never seen again.

Of the original three, one still looks almost newish. It’s identical to its original, the strangely birdlike creature that all the dogs dearly love. So there are two of them — the old one and the new one.

Then, there’s the blue Dodo. It was brand new. Gibbs grabbed it and took it outside. Later, he brought it back. Covered in ice and snow and mud, it was one of the most disgusting items ever brought in from outside. I washed it with soap and hot water and Garry threw it in the dryer. It sat in lonely isolation on the end table until Duke, frustrated by seeing it but not having it, went rogue and got it on his own. It is out in the snow in the front yard now. Maybe it will come home later.

You certainly couldn’t accuse our dogs of not appreciating their new toys. I wish they wouldn’t drag them out into the mud and ice so fast, but they don’t lack enthusiasm. They sure do love the toys. Looking around, one of the two strange birdlike creatures has gone missing. Again.

COZY MORNING

Garry was up early because he has a medical thing today. He wanted the extra time to have coffee, for showering and all that morning stuff. I lolled in bed for an extra hour, mostly because that’s how long it takes me to get my back functioning.

I’ve gotten pretty good at untangling myself. It’s all about positioning, taking the pill I sometimes don’t want to take, but if I take it, the day goes a lot better than if I don’t … and slowly stretching until things are more or less mobile. My back has been in poor shape since I was a teenager. I had my big surgery on it when I was just 19 and time hasn’t been kind to the bones.

Time generally isn’t kind to bones. Arthritis seems to be universal for damaged joints, whether broken by accident or surgically renovated … and often, just “because.”

Mine are a mess both because of surgery — and “just because.” Arthritis is not a special issue at our age. It’s not a matter of “if,” but more like “how bad” and “how much does it affect you.” It wasn’t too bad this morning. I slept on my back and generally, if I make myself sleep on my back, I wake up more mobile than sleeping on my side, which I find a lot more natural. My back doesn’t agree. There’s not much point in arguing with my spine. It always wins.

So we are off. Garry is getting a CATscan of his head to make sure he has all the requisite pieces for a cochlear implant. Then, in another few weeks, the first doctor’s appointment with the cochlear audiologist, then after that, the surgeons. This stuff takes a lot more time than people think it will.

When you have an emergency, everything happens in a hurry, but when you have choices to make, it takes time. And of course, it’s winter, so everything takes more time. Christmas vacations chop December into pieces and the hangovers from New Year’s take care of early January.

I remember waiting for my heart surgery. First, they hustled me along. Urgent, urgent, urgent … but they delayed it three-times. I had to delay it once because I had pneumonia. Heavy coughing doesn’t go well with heart surgery. It took — in total — more than three months between determining I needed the surgery and actually having the surgeon and me both available at the same time. Emergencies came up and for a heart surgeon, they are always first. Heart surgeons live on emergency schedules. By the time I actually got into the hospital, I was an emergency. You can’t always tell from testing alone — and that’s something everyone needs to remember.

This surgery for Garry isn’t an emergency, but it is not optional, either. It needs to be done. Hearing aids won’t work for him anymore, so it is this or a gradual  and close to total loss of hearing for him. He needs his hearing back. I need it back, too, though I wonder what it will be like knowing he really can hear me. I won’t be able to mutter under my breath all the time!

Our granddaughter sent me a note last night suggesting  we should have Garry run for president … because we know Garry could fix everything. I’m pretty sure Garry doesn’t think he could fix everything, but sometimes, I wonder. He’s been a pretty good fixer over the years — and even when he can’t fix stuff, he’s very good at getting everyone to CALM DOWN. In the process, he may be leaning towards madness, but you’d never know it to look at him.

A man with a poker face like that should have played poker. What a waste!

I’ll be back later, but not with more news. They never tell you anything at radiology. You have to wait for the doctor to officially tell you. Eventually, news will follow but do not hold your breath!

THE BEST OF 2017 – ONE OR TWO FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPHS

THURSDAY’S SPECIAL: MY BEST PHOTO IN 2017

Talk about a daunting challenge. My best picture for 2017! I think maybe I need to look for my favorite because I’m not sure what “best” would really be. Even “favorite” is pretty daunting. I know which was the most popular, but best?

I couldn’t do it. I got it down to two, but I apologize because I just couldn’t decide.

This first one is a favorite because it is the road on which we live with the sun going down. It probably isn’t “best” because it wasn’t taken with one of my better lenses and was a “grabbed” shot, less than half a mile from home. Taken mid January 2017.

But this final one is a picture I’ve taken almost every year for the past ten years. This particular tree is a sugar maple and on a good year turns completely scarlet. This year, it didn’t turn red, but pumpkin orange. In its own way, it is nearly perfect because it is exactly what I wanted.

October 11, 2017


GARRY’S PHOTOGRAPHS – MY FAVORITE AMONG HIS PHOTOGRAPHS

This is my favorite among Garry’s pictures. It is as good an autumn shot of the Blackstone Canal as I’ve seen.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

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BLOGGER AND A CAUSE

The question was: “Would you, if your day-to-day responsibilities were taken care of and you could throw yourself completely behind a cause, what would it be?”


The answer is … I wouldn’t. In the immortal words of Phil Ochs, “I ain’t marchin’ anymore.”

I marched against war and for peace.

I marched for civil rights.

I campaigned for universal health care and free care for anyone who needs it.

I marched against evil and for justice for my entire adult life and though the world has fallen into a terrible place, I’ve served my time and done my job. I’m tired. It’s time for the younger generations — those with stronger backs — to do the marching.

The worst part of this time is I’m not sure, after all the marching, if I accomplished anything other than making denim a fashion fabric. I think I’ve probably accomplished more blogging than I did by marching. There’s an irony in there and maybe I’ll find it. Eventually.

Photo: NY Times

I have discovered that the world spins on its axis and night follows day, whether or not I march. I do the best I can with the means at my disposal … which means I have a platform and I write. Every now and then, I dig a little money out of the emptiness of our “family wealth” and give $5 or $10 to someone who is fighting for a better world.

If you are going out there to do battle, fight the good fight. Know my best wishes and hopes go with you. Also, take sandwiches, something to drink, and wear your most comfortable shoes.