ABOUT THOSE ANTS …

AND STILL MORE ANTS!

I was dreading going into the kitchen this morning.

It will be five more days — five very long days — until the pest control people can get the job done. Until next Thursday, we will continue to have ants.

They haven’t left the premises. But not as bad as yesterday because very little is as bad as yesterday.

Gibbs is not bothered by bugs. I don’t think he even notices the ants.

I got up early to make sure the dogs had enough water and turn the coffee on … and see how many ants had returned to the kitchen. I was pleased that there were some — small bunches and single wanderers — and more of the little sugar ants than carpenter ants today, but at least it wasn’t like yesterday.

Yesterday, it was me standing alone against the crawling hordes. This wasn’t nearly as bad. I cleaned up and went back for another hour or two of sleep.

I hate ants. I’ve probably mentioned that before.

He would like to order some special treats, if only I’d leave the credit card next to the computer!

At around 11, when I know it’s get up or have Duke knock the door open and leap onto the bed, I gave Garry a shake and we got up. He hit the kitchen first. I’m sure he was filled with fear of what he might find. Not so bad … at least not compared to yesterday. Anything was better than yesterday. He killed some, and then I arrived and killed some more.

“Die you little bastards” I cry, but they don’t hear me.

Ants are single-purpose insects. It turns out these ants — the carpenter ants — kill other insects so in theory, I should welcome them.

I don’t.

Otherwise, they build monuments. They walk in lock step and build hills full of ants and more ants and if they had the world to themselves, they would fill it completely with nothing but more and more ants. Some cartoon I read said if you weighed all the ants on earth, they would weigh more than all the people on earth.

Think about that.

The Duke is alert and watching for danger … mainly for the neighbors. Ants are not on his list.

Doesn’t that give you a big pause for thought? There are a lot of ants on this earth and about half of them seem to be living in my backyard having (it would appear) built a monumental hill next to the foot of the deck.

This house is old and it has a lot of damp areas of wood. The ants like damp wood. Short of stripping the house and essentially rebuilding it — we are going to have to live with an old house and its bugs.

There are trillions of ants and one of you. They are there, watching you and waiting.

Have a fabulous holiday weekend.

SQUARING THE CIRCLE OF THE ENGINE IN AN OLD AIRCRAFT

Circles and squares in squares. What could be simpler?

Seeking squares and circles for the month of March! From the fabulous Becky B, this is the last day of the challenge. We made it! Squares and circles every day for the whole month of March!

How amazing is that?

The following picture is the propeller and engine in a World War II fighter aircraft. It is round in a square … and to me, there’s something special about this.

Propeller and engine in an old aircraft

Squaring the SQUAREs IN MARCH

NAVIGATIONALLY-CHALLENGED: MOSES IN THE DESERT

So, THE WAY THEY TELL IT, God wanted to get rid of all those who had experienced slavery. To accomplish this task, he made the twelve tribes walk around the Sinai wilderness for forty years.


Forty years? Seriously?

That area isn’t all that big. To keep walking for that long, they had to have crossed their own paths repeatedly. Didn’t anyone shout out: “Hey, Moses. I’m pretty sure we’ve been here before. Hey, Levi, haven’t we been here before? Look, there’s where we put the tents. I think there are a few poles left over …”

If the idea was to get rid of the “slave mentality,” why couldn’t they just make a camp and hang out until the time was up? Stop walking. Play guitars. Sing some songs. Play cards.

Why did they have to keep walking? Was there a fitness or exercise requirement? Was it like jail where you have this hour or two a day during which you have to keep walking and walking and walking? Why does the idea of walking in circles for 40 years make me laugh hysterically?

Garry says we have this same conversation every year, immediately following our ritual viewing of “The Ten Commandments.” It must be pretty funny, because I’m still laughing.

And because this never stops making me laugh, please enjoy this little video of “Life with the Twelve Tribes.” I’m sorry I can’t embed the video, but it’s worth a few minutes of your time to give this a look. Not only is it funny, but it is oddly timely in this strange period in which we are living.


http://videocloud.aish.com/movies/Google%20Exodus.mp4

Happy whatever you celebrate!

ALONE AND IN SOLITUDE

BEING ALONE

I’m not sure that “alone” and solitude mean the same thing. Technically, they are synonyms but the concept of “alone” implies loneliness while solitude implies a choice to remain without company. Solitude speaks of private time while alone implies the absence of people.

Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong

Maybe it’s the choice that makes the difference?


ALONE – adjective & adverb

1. Having no one else present; on one’s own.
“she was alone that evening”
Synonyms: by oneself, on one’s own, all alone, solitary, single, singly, solo, solus.

2. Indicating that something is confined to the specified subject or recipient.
“we agreed to set up such a test for him alone”
Synonyms: only, solely, just.


Photo: Garry Armstrong
One dog alone, guarding us all!

SOLITUDE: noun
1. The state or situation of being alone. “She savored her few hours of freedom and solitude.”
Synonyms: loneliness, solitariness, isolation, seclusion, sequestration, withdrawal, privacy, peace. “She savored her solitude.”

A lonely or uninhabited place.
Plural noun: solitudes
Synonyms: wilderness, rural area, wilds, backwoods.


Garry shooting
Photo: Garry Armstrong –
One blossom

TILTED – A PHOTO A WEEK CHALLENGE

A Photo a Week Challenge: Tilted

Sometimes, the way things line up is funny. Yesterday I was at the Dana-Farber. They have a long air shaft which makes great geometric pictures, so I took a bunch. All of them are tilted.

I’m usually a very straight shooter, but in this case, the tilt is quite the thing.

Tilted air shaft 1
Tilted air shaft 2
Tilted and mirrored

To be fair, it’s impossible to create a straight shot down the air shaft. To do that, you’d have to be suspended in the middle of the shaft at the top.

ONE ANT, TWO ANTS, THREE ANTS, TEN MILLION ANTS

ONE ANT, TWO ANTS, THREE ANTS, MORE …

Yesterday, I saw an ant. Just one ant. He climbed onto my computer screen. Yuck.

I said  to Garry”I guess it really IS spring. There’s an ant on my computer.”

Mental marker. Call D&T Pest Control. They fixed us last year. They will fix us this year. Decent prices and if there’s another problem, they come back and do it again, free.


D & T Pest and Termite Control, Inc.  
5 Stars (from everyone, no less)
21 Google reviews
Pest control service in Bellingham, Massachusetts
7 Judy Lane, Bellingham, MA 02019
Hours: Open 24 hours
Phone: (508) 966-4470


This morning I went into the kitchen and there were a million ants. Everywhere. In every drawer and cabinet. On the floor. Not in any of the food because every single food item in this house is in a sealed container. Been here before. Between the mice and the ants, I’m a serious sealer-upper of all food stuffs. I wash every item as soon as it gets used.

Where did they come from? Yesterday, ONE ant. Today — the world is covered in big black (no wings, so not termites) ants. Carpenter ants, probably. They are the big black ones, but I also saw a good number of little sugar ants. Where there’s one, the others can’t be far behind.

Garry and I ripped the kitchen apart. Finally threw away ALL those old Dunkin’ Donut cups and containers from who knows when that that gathered under the sink. Washed, sprayed, washed, sprayed. Hauled trash.

Then washed, vacuumed, sprayed, washed and sprayed more.

And then called D&T and said I had a serious ant emergency and how could so many ants show up when there was just ONE yesterday? I must have had that desperate sound in my voice. I had been invaded.

“Who knows?” she said.

I think they came up from a hill in the backyard and are coming in under the French doors and the kitchen door because they are definitely centered in the kitchen. I found a bunch in the dining room and we haven’t even used that room for months.

Although we have mostly cleared them out for the moment, I don’t doubt they will be back in three heartbeats.

And, it’s pouring rain. They want us and the dogs OUT of the house for at least four hours. On a normal day, no problem. Dogs go into yard, we take cameras and take pictures of the dam, but we were …

BETRAYED!

In this weather, I can’t in any conscience put the dogs outside. So we are going to have to set up a date for the first day it isn’t raining, hopefully tomorrow.

It has been beautiful for the past two days. Why is it cold and raining today? Why us? Why are the heavens falling on us when we need dry?

Meanwhile, the nice lady from UMass Memorial called . Just to find out how I’m doing. They’ve been doing that lately. It was a bad day for that call. I was not in a happy mood. I have been spraying and cleaning and spraying and tossing trash for hours and I am NOT feeling polite. Or even civil. So she got the sharper side of my tongue. Not that the hospital didn’t deserve it, but this was the wrong day to try to have a normal conversation with me. There were ANTS EVERYWHERE.

I hate ants.

Ants. I hate the ants. They have followed us from Charles River Park in Boston to Beacon Hill. From Beacon Hill, they came to join us in Roxbury. And then, they showed up here. Worse than ever.

I hate bugs. I really hate bugs. No one hates bugs MORE than I do and in recent years, I have been plagued by these nasty things. I actually took some kind of sick pleasure is squashing these little bastards and hearing their thorax go crunch. It is unworthy of me.

I apologize.

The ants are just being ants. But I am just being human.

Cochlear Implant Update – By Jan Wilberg

One of the most thoughtful pieces of writing on this subject and particularly relevant in this household. Few people really understand how much lack of hearing removes you from “real life.” Garry once commented that even if you are blind, you can still communicate, but when you are deaf — you lose the ability to communicate and that’s a massive personal loss.

Red's Wrap

I wear this thing on my head. Looking at it now in the photo, it strikes me as enormous, a contraption. I wonder why people don’t just stop in their tracks and ask me what it is. But they never do. It’s like seeing someone with an artificial leg and wanting to inquire about how it works but being compelled to ignore it. What artificial leg? I didn’t see an artificial leg, did you?

This is the receiver (behind my ear) that captures sound that travels through the wire to the round thing (which is actually a magnet) and transmits the signals through my skull to a twin round thing inside my head which then sends the signals along several wires to 22 electrodes hanging out in my cochlea. The electrodes recreate the function of the nerves in my cochlea, sending the sound signals to my brain to be made…

View original post 725 more words

THE BARRYMORES: AMERICA’S ROYAL FAMILY OF ACTORS

This week, we tuned into Drew Barrymore’s latest show on Netflix. It’s called “The Santa Clarita Diet.” She has, in this story, become a zombie. It’s funny because she’s a very suburban and rather bouncy zombie. She certainly dresses a lot better than any other zombie I’ve seen on the screen.

If you are a huge fan of blood, gore, and massive quantities of vomit, this might be the right show for you.

Garry commented that “It’s probably a matter of personal taste.” That was his way of saying “Ew, disgusting, yuck, I’ll never watch it again.” She’s a Barrymore, so he’s being polite. She has a heritage. If anyone in the movie world could be considered royalty, Drew Barrymore has got to be “it.” Regardless, I don’t think I’ll be watching this show ever. I’m pretty sure this could have been a witty, entertaining show without the massive quantities of vomit, blood, and torn out internal organs.

Probably we’re a bit old-fashioned, but all that stuff does is turn my stomach.

For a few years, Drew Barrymore was working on Turner Classic movies with Robert Osborne, discussing and introducing classic movies. It was a treat listening to her observations. She should know, after all.

Drew Barrymore by David Shankbone

She was on Colbert last week, too. Her face has changed in recent years. Now, she really looks like a Barrymore.

John Barrymore as Hamlet, 1922
John Barrymore as Hamlet, 1922

That’s no small thing because she is this generation’s only representative of what is the longest running act in show business.

Several families have two or three generations of actors and a couple of families have three or more generations of directors. Only one has been on stage and screen for more than 100 years, the royal family of stage and screen, the Barrymores.

As of this writing, Drew Barrymore is her generation’s only working actor. John Drew, Diana, Drew, and John Blyth are the only descendants of John Barrymore who became actors.

Garry and I were trying to guess how many acting dynasties include at least three generations, in which at least one family member in each generation has done something noteworthy as an actor. Not as a director, producer, or writer. Only actors.

dynasties_01

Define “noteworthy” please!

It started when we noticed a Capra listed as a crew member of an NCIS episode. Garry wondered if this was a fourth generation of Capras. There was a Frank Capra I, II and III, so it seemed likely to be members of the same family. The Capras are directors. No actors, so they don’t count for the purposes of this post.

Reality shows do not count. Non-speaking and cameo roles do not count, nor does work as a TV announcer, talk show host, or sportscaster. Mere celebrity does not count. Only acting.

The Barrymore genealogy is complicated because it is extensive. There have many marriages and a slew of children. Most of the men in the family are named John, which doesn’t make it easier to follow the trail.

Other acting families are even more confusing. Actors marry each other, divorce frequently, and have children by many partners. They adopt and raise children from former marriages and from spouses’ former relationships. It’s hard to keep track and sometimes, relationships intertwine to such a degree it’s impossible to say to which family a particular person belongs. Not unlike European royal families.

If you count only acting families — and only family members who have had a real acting careers — the number of entries in the field are manageable. You’ll quite a few 2-generation families. A handful of 3-generation families.

Only one family has four generations of working actors.

The Barrymore family.

Barrymore family tree graphic
A very simplified Barrymore family tree

Drew Barrymore is the family’s current representative.There are many other family members, but none are acting, as of this writing. It doesn’t mean they or their offspring won’t enter the family business in the future. It’s quite a legacy. Talk about family pressure.

If you want to see the other families, or at least most of them, you can look them up. Google “multi-generational acting families“. Wikipedia has a good write-up, but omits significant British families.

This link takes you to an alphabetical list of show business families. The intricacies of the marriages, divorces and resulting complex relationships will make your head spin.

The Barrymore family reigns. No other family comes near the prominence or longevity of this family of actors.

Wikipedia’s entry on the Barrymores includes actors and non-actors. There are quite a few family members who are not in show business. The acting family members are shown in blue.

NOT FRANTIC – THE ONGOING MEDICAL MESS

NOT FRANTIC

The past few weeks have been intense. I lose track of time. Retirement tends to make our days and weeks run into each other seamlessly. It can be difficult to remember when something happened — whether it was yesterday or a week ago.

I generally don’t mind the streaming life we lead. It’s peaceful and I’ve grown fond of our quiet life in the country.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

The medical stuff, though, has lent a level of pressure and complexity that has made me more alert. The first was the realization that the hospital we supposedly depend on is a genuine, card-carrying mess. It’s not just me saying so, either. The Internet is full of upset people who have registered complaints and never had them addressed. Nurses assure us that the hospital is “atrocious,” which isn’t the word you want used to describe your primary medical facility. This wouldn’t be such a big deal for me because I have my cardiologist and oncologist at other facilities. I am graced by Blue Cross’s PPO for Medicare patients which lets us use any doctor and hospital.

While I’ve been getting aggravated about my own little issue, I’ve been getting more worried about Garry’s cochlear implant. We have only seen the doctor at UMass. There is more I don’t know about this procedure than I ought.

There are many ways to do it. I haven’t done my homework. Meanwhile, putting Garry in the hands of the people at UMass? If I can’t trust them to take a simple message, why would I want to put my beloved into their hands?


Hospitals aren’t about doctors. The people who run hospitals are receptionists, office managers, nurse’s aides, and nurses. You don’t see doctors much. They come, perform surgery, drop by to tell you you’re fine (or not fine or will be fine), but they are rarely visible on a hospital floor. All  your daily business will be managed by the underpaid, overworked, and often foreign-language-speaking minimum-wage workers who slouch your way when you press that “I need help” button.


I’ve been overdosed with medication to which I’m allergic despite my urgent warnings. Found myself with no functioning lungs and a stopped heart — information that was conveniently never written into my records. Hallucinating from morphine, to which I am allergic.  Fed food guaranteed to kill me if I was foolish enough to eat it.

Why?

Because nurse’s aides in most big hospitals don’t speak or read English. The doctor’s messages are meaningless to them. They have no idea what they are doing because no one trained them. And some of them just don’t care. All they want it a paycheck and to get off their tired feet.

They are greatly overworked and deeply underpaid. What do their bosses expect will happen? Are you really going to get top quality service from these downtrodden people?

Only at Beth Israel were real nurses attending me. Everywhere else, my interactions were with aides and orderlies and occasional a receptionist at a desk somewhere. Conversations were with rude, short-tempered women (sometimes men) who followed “rules” that could kill you because the human mouthing “the rules” didn’t care if you lived or died. The rules were the important part. They were trained to follow the rules. If something went wrong, well, no one can blame them. They followed the rules. They did what they were supposed to do. If there was collateral damage — like a few deaths here and there — oh well. Oops.


No hospital will ever be better than its lowest paid, most exhausted worker. If you can’t improve the quality of your staff with intelligent training, your hospital will always be a horror show for patients.


I should be frantic and would be, but my Blue Cross Plan gives me choices. My alternatives will be less convenient, but at least we will feel safe.

Safe seems the place to be.

TWO BY TWO – SUNRISE-SUNSET

Photo Challenge – Rise and Set

For this week’s photo challenge, explore the vibrant, hopeful colors of your favorite sunrise or sunset.

Other than from the direction, you can’t tell if the sun is coming up or setting. I’ve done all the checking I can and in fact, the light is the same. It depends on the season of the year, but the coloring is identical otherwise.

And yet we are fascinated by the coming and going of the sun. Even when I was a child, I used to stand outside and watch the sky, sometimes for a full hour from late afternoon until final darkness, watching the delicate changes in the sky and the clouds and the way the light filtered through the trees.

I have not yet lost my wonder.


The rising sun in the mountains in October
A gull at sunrise
Sunset in Douglas
Sunset through clouds