REBELLIOUS? – Marilyn Armstrong


I was never consciously a rebel, but I was definitely “different.” I’m pretty sure the difference  was books.

I read a lot of books. If you couldn’t find me, I was probably hiding somewhere. With a book. Rain, shine, sun, or snow — I read books. I read books intended for grown-ups long before I was “ready” to read them. Once, the librarian tried to prevent me from reading adult books and my mother came and tried to eat the librarian for breakfast.

After that, I could read whatever I wanted. I read ten to twelve books a week and if school hadn’t interfered with my reading program, I’d have read more. Sometimes, my mother took the books from my hand and shoved me outside. So I also jumped rope and played tag and built weird “houses” out of old crates and whatever junk we could find on the streets.

Because I read, so did my friends. Just as bad habits are contagious, sometimes, so are good ones. We were a group of completely outlandish friends who were friends only because we all lived in a strange part of town and were the only kids in the area.

Two girls attended the local Catholic school, the rest of us — a bunch of miscellaneous Jews, Lutherans, and non-believers — read books. We used to have contests with questions and answers — sort of personal trivia — about the books we read.

Of this crowd of kids who basically had nothing in common, everyone (except me) got either a Ph.D. or a Masters … and none of us really fit in anywhere. We used big words — always something that makes you an outsider in most schools — and we all wanted to be something. We got a psychologist, a Director of a NY school district, two college professors … and me.

We were different because we read books and books gave us ideas. They weren’t — apparently — like the ideas everyone else had. Maybe they were ideas others had and dismissed.

Is that really what a rebel is? Someone who has different ideas?

The official definition is:


1  –  A person who rises in opposition or armed resistance against an established government or ruler, e.g. “Tory rebels”
Synonyms: revolutionary, insurgent, revolutionist, mutineer, insurrectionist, insurrectionary, guerrilla, terrorist, freedom fighter.

reˈbəl (Accent on the second syllable)
2 – To rise in opposition or armed resistance to an established government or ruler. E.g., “the Earl of Pembroke subsequently rebelled against Henry III”

Synonyms: Revolt, mutiny, riot, rise up, take up arms, stage/mount a rebellion, be insubordinate as in “the citizens rebelled.”

I’m not insurrectionary or any kind of freedom fighter. I have had some unconventional ideas, but ideas don’t make me a rebel. Not being the same as everyone else is — or wants to be — is not revolutionary.

Having unique ideas is just “thinking for yourself.” It’s something we should all do. No one can manipulate you if you do your own thinking.

Acts of rebellion and an old dead nun – by AMPYCOM

I didn’t do anything nearly this much fun!


I’ve considered myself a rebel since I was three years old.
At least.
I hold my father responsible. The man loved rules.
Actually, he broke rules all the time, but he loved holding others up to them. Especially me.
When I was three, I used to spend a lot of time with my grandfather, who indulged my every whim. Naturally, I adored him.
Across the street from his house, there was a small private kindergarten. I used to stand at the gates of his garden and watch the children there at play. Seeing how I longed to have playmates, Grandpa spoke to the owner of the little school, and they agreed that I could join the other kids two or three days a week.
This worked out fine for a while. If I wanted to go to school, I would. If I wanted to go to the park, or a…

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WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: PLACE IN THE WORLD

I guess the height of building do it for some people, but for me, it’s the mountains and the oak trees. I live in an oak forest. The trees are tall. In winter, I worry about them falling from heavy snow or ice. In the summer, I worry about wind and then, finally, about the millions of leaves that are going to fall everywhere in my world.

Followed by the snow. Again.

Sunset – Jackman, Maine

I grew up in New York and for many years lived in Boston. None of these are “the place in the world.” For me, it’s always wild places. The height of our trees, the peaks of mountains. the valleys and rivers the places against which I measure my place on this earth.

IT MUST BE ME – Marilyn Armstrong

It can’t be coincidence. There has to be a reason. I have spent literally every day for nearly a week on the phone with customer or technical support. Earlier, it was computers. The PC, iPad, Macbook Air.

I got through it. I am alive to tell the tale.

All computers are working except the PC which still won’t accept the download from Microsoft. They try a couple of times a day and it gets rejected each time. Eventually I’ll call and find out how it’s going on, but they said it might take a few weeks — not to worry. I’m not worried, at least not about the PC. It is working fine.

Today, Garry put the laundry in the machine and kindly offered to vacuum the rug. At some point, he stopped and I emptied the cup where the dirt goes (is there a name for that? and put the dirt thingie back in the machine. Which is what we’ve done dozens of times.

Pushed the on button. Nothing happened. No clogging choking sounds. No sounds at all. An utter silence where there ought to be something, at the very least, a sucking noise.

After accusing Garry of breaking another vacuum cleaner, which he instantly rejected as he hadn’t done anything except vacuum our 4 by 6 rug  and a bit of the floor … which, he pointed out, was voluntary … and there I was accusing him … FALSELY … of malfeasance. In my own defense, Garry has slain more than a few vacuums  so it wasn’t such a big leap.

This time, it just died — on its own.

I reviewed the machine. I checked the brushes. Put the plug in a different outlet. This machine isn’t rechargeable and has a 25 foot cord. I have heard, though, that other machines have this problem. Apparently something in the electrical box pulls apart during use. Easy to fix — if you can fix something electrical. Which I definitely can’t. I’m not even sure why electricity doesn’t come slithering out of the walls on its own.

I switched it on again. Nope.

Turned it off. Resisted the temptation to give it a whack with a hammer. Did it again and again because I couldn’t believe it would just stop working, for no reason, when there had been no previous problem.

Finally, I said: “Well, for once, I actually bought a warranty.”

Why? Because these little lightweight machines don’t hold up. I’ve never had one survive longer than a year. This one didn’t make it to six months. Five months, less three days, actually. The warranty cost only $10, so I said “You know what? I’ll buy it.”

I found the warranty and the website. They wanted information in formats I couldn’t provide, so finally I called them. The third time, I got a human on the phone. She said it was still under the manufacturer’s warranty, so they should take care of it. She called them as a three-way call.

Shark offered — IF I sent it back — to send me a new one for just $20 … plus tax on the full price ($8) — and I would have to buy the box. Which, considering this is a vacuum cleaner, would be another $30. But they’d pay for the shipping.

Wow. That’s real service.

Moral of the story? A limited warranty is worthless. In years of buying things with limited warranties, never has one of them paid for anything. Limited means “You’re kidding, right?” If it’s limited, it’s not a warranty.

Eventually, the SquareTrade representative said “Shark is giving you a ridiculously hard time, so we’ll just honor our warranty and refund your money. Let’s hear it for SquareTrade!

“And I won’t,” I commented, ” be buying another Shark.” But I don’t know what I’m going to buy. I can’t push a heavy machine and Garry’s getting tired too. Maybe an Oreck Commercial type.

They  break too. I know. I owned one and the belt broke almost every time I used it. Of course, that was years ago, so maybe they have improved. I sure hope so.

Is it me? Do I have some kind of weird problem with service? Or do they do this to everyone? If this is how the world is turning, life is going to be a total bummer … even worse than it already is!

From start to finish, this event took almost four hours. Four more hours spent dealing with customer service and I didn’t shout at anyone, not even once. All for a $99.99 vacuum cleaner I bought last December that should still be working.

Oreck vacuumI used to earn that much every other hour I worked and now, I do this for free. It must be some bizarre karmic thing because nobody who isn’t working for customer service should spend this much time talking to them.

It was a pretty good machine — for its brief life of just under five months. I noticed that Amazon isn’t selling it anymore. Shocking.

I wonder why not?

GARDEN REPORT – Marilyn Armstrong

I fear we shall not see daffodils or tulips this year. Nonetheless, other flowers are blooming, or soon will be. It will not be a flowerless year. We are missing some of the early spring bulbs, but they will probably come back next year.

Because I’ve planted so many wildflowers, we have an abundance of them. I love wildflowers and always have. More than that, wildflowers are hardy — far more than garden flowers. Since I don’t have the energy to nurture delicate plants, I’m glad I dug up dozens of day lilies and put them in the garden. They will find a way to bloom. Although they are actually not native to this region, they have become a very common. They grow everywhere, in woods and along the roads throughout New England. I think their original home was in China or northern Asia.

The Solomon’s Seal is local. It was used medicinally and as food by native Americans. I just find it lovely. When I found a few of them in our woods, I moved them to a sunnier location where they bloom like mad, even this year, though they are not as big as they usually get. I think they started growing rather late.

Budding lilacs a the very top of a tall tree. These are not bushes. Much too big for that. These are lilac trees!

Among other amazing things, we actually managed to get one some lilacs. They are the pale light lavender flowers, not the dark French ones.

The trees on which they grow are not in good shape.

This is a very old lilac tree and was probably here before this house was built. There was another house here before this one. Sometimes, you can see the corner of what was probably its basement out in the woods. The lilac was from that early house’s planting. Bet it was located by the kitchen. It used to be lucky to have a lilac bloom near the kitchen.

During the past three winters, it has been hit be at several falling trees. Another one got it in March. I need a chain saw to cut out the dead wood. With a little luck,  we might get new shoots from the ground up.

Wild strawberries

I am optimistic about the day lilies. There are dozens and dozens of stems, so I think they will bloom.

Mayflowers, another wild local flower

All the wild violets are brightly purple and I found two wild strawberry flowers. There is also a lot of columbine coming up and the roses look pretty healthy.

We will have a garden this year. Not quite the same garden we usually have, but a pretty garden.


There’s a white rhododendron already blooming and a second big pink bud almost ready to pop.

The holly is sending forth oodles of baby berries. Considering that holly is known as a Christmas flower, it’s interesting it blooms early in spring. By Christmas, all the berries have been eaten by birds. I have to get  my Christmas pictures in late May and June.

Common fern growing under the deck steps

Finally, there are the ferns. We have the most common of the ferns, literally known as “common ferns.” They are everywhere in the woods and wherever there is shade, they just show up. They grow under the steps to the deck, too and I like them, so I let them grow. In the fall, they all turn bright yellow and orange and make the woods beautiful. Sometimes, their colors are so rich they don’t look like real plants, but rather as if they were painted. Right now, they are just green … but they are back for another season.