THE NATURE OF THE CONTRACT – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Contract

I spent a very large part of yesterday trying to get the mailing address for my mortgage company. Not the address for paying the bill, but where to send the tax paperwork so they could pay it out of my escrow account.

My bank wouldn’t give me the information. They said it was secret. Secret? It’s MY mortgage and I’m the one who pays the bill. But it was too secret to tell me, assuming they even had that address. So, I went to the website and there must have been thirty different addresses listed, one of which was for tax bills. Except the address was incorrect. They have changed the name of the group that pays tax bills but neglected to notify those of us who have tax bills to be paid of the changes. This is what happens when you switch to online bills. You don’t get any details at all.

Downtown Uxbridge

Meanwhile, I couldn’t get into my account which turned out (eventually) to be (probably) my own fault because there was a number missing. Oops. Also, in the process of trying to argue with my bank into giving me the address for my mortgage company, I realized I couldn’t find my checkbook.

Not like I use checks very often these days, but I know I had one. I have a vague and distant memory of having removed it from my bag because my bag had gotten so heavy, I could barely pick it up and I thought “Why keep all this paperwork in here when I don’t use it anyway?”

And for this, we pay the mortgage

Sadly, that’s the last memory I have of that stuff. I don’t know if I accidentally threw it away during one or another of our major cleanup efforts, or — worst of all — put it “someplace safe.”

“Someplace safe” means I will probably never see it again, or if I do, it will be years in the future and I won’t care anymore. I do have a couple of other checkbooks. Garry found them in the drawer under the printer and since our address hasn’t changed in 18 years, they are fine if we happen to need a check. But I’d really like to figure out where my checkbook and check entry pad went. I’m sure they are in this house. Somewhere.

I looked hopefully at Garry and he looked blankly back at me. He can barely find his own shit, much less mine. Ditto my son who thought my believing he might actually remember something was pretty funny. The dogs, who think it’s much too hot to go outside, were all asleep and for once, I could hardly blame them.

I’m still mad at the bank. How can they prevent me from knowing the address of the biggest bill I pay? Did I sign some kind of contract that says they can do whatever they want with this information?

Night in Uxbridge

In an earlier, more innocent time, we actually had to add the address for our payees. Now, the moment we enter the name of the company, the bank grabs it and says “Okay, thanks. Ready to go.”

This is supposed to protect me from hacking. I think it is possible that it is mainly protecting the information from me.

I am not going to be done in by the awful things happening in the world. I’m going to die of details. Of lost passwords. Of vanished items that are safely put away … somewhere. I will be crushed under the weight of miscellany.

SERRIED ORCHIDS ON A STALK – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP # 33: Serried

Well. Now here’s a word I’ve never used.

Never even heard it, actually. Nonetheless, it’s not a bad word for a group of flowers on a stem.

Rather like my orchids, for example. Oh, I haven’t talked about the orchids lately, but they are still blooming.

No new ones (no new buds), but looking remarkably hardy. Orchids are nothing if not sturdy flowers.

So, here are some serried orchids for your consideration.

SUDDENLY THINGS CHANGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Growing up, I was constantly lectured about World War II and the Holocaust. Not a big surprise. I was born in 1947 and the war was barely over by then. Moreover, the lessons of the Holocaust was not lost on my family. Any members of my family that had not come to this country before the war, died in the Holocaust. How many? No one knows for sure.

European border before the first World War
European borders – 1939
European political map – 2018

My parents were permanently grateful to be living here, in the U.S. But they were never passively certain that everything was “just fine” in this country. There was HUAC. There was censorship. There was J. Edgar Hoover. Nor was I ever allowed to forget — not for a minute — that Germany didn’t get Hitler through some kind of military coup.


Hitler was elected. It happened there and it could happen here.

I didn’t believe them. How innocent I was.

In a country that was famed for its love of the arts and liberal democracy and free speech, Germany went from a haven for intellectuals and artists to the home of the most bestial leader in known history … and it happened in under ten years.

I say “known history” because there’s a lot of history we don’t know. What happened in those places too far away to become part of our history or too many years back for us to remember?

Gone. Maybe there were others equally brutal. Maybe many others as bestial or worse. That we don’t know their names mean nothing.

What I do know is that borders — the lines on the maps — are essentially meaningless. How many times have the “lines” bordering the U.S. changed as we acquired lands from Spain, Russia, France, and Mexico? How many nations in Europe have been part of one empire, then another, and another, and then one more?

I used to have an old globe in the house. It was created in the late 1950s and almost none of the borders in Europe on that globe exist today. For that matter, many of the names of countries are different. It was interesting as a historical document but useless as a map.

Africa has been made, remade, and made again along with Asia. Where does China begin or end? How big is Korea?

Remember East Germany?

It is presumptuous indeed that we believe our current borders are somehow more real than any other borders we’ve had. That Europe will not reshuffle itself in years to come. That the two Koreas will not at some point decide to rejoin. Or that Russia won’t decide to go and rearrange eastern Europe as it has done so many times before.

Even people who think they don’t believe in borders, really do. They are sure Texas is going to stay Texas and won’t, in some bizarre future iteration of the U.S., be returned to Mexico. Or that Maine won’t decide that Canada looks like a better deal than the U.S. Or Puerto Rico, tired of being our neglected toy, won’t join with other Caribbean countries to form a separate (but hopefully equal) nation.

The world isn’t a fixed ball with permanent lines drawn on the landscape. Hadrian’s wall and the Great Wall of China are huge reminders of how impermanent borders are. What we believe is all about who we are right now, this minute, this decade. This weekend.

As we go forward to celebrate the fourth of July, it’s wise to remember how much and how often the world changes. Our aging would-be demagogue could have a heart attack. The next election could turn the House of Representatives upside down. Or the demagogue could live long enough to eliminate democracy and found Imperial America. It happened to Rome and they were a lot older and better organized than we are.

The world

Our idiotic arguments with our current allies (versus our earlier allies) mean nothing in the long run. Worse, we as individuals mean nothing either. Short of really blowing up the world, our presence or absence is of no great account except to those we love and who love us in return. Maybe the most important thing is to remember is who we love and who loves us back.

Is that comforting or the opposite? I’m not sure.

Sometimes my irrelevance is surprisingly comforting. The world will not rise or fall based on me, my opinions, or actions. That’s good, right?

THE WAY HOME – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – June 29, 2018

Sometimes, there’s way and it takes you home. Everywhere on the property is full of flowers now.

Baby trees — more than a dozen sassafras saplings and several Catalpa growing like crazy. I have trouble believing how quickly these trees grow from nothing to a big, sturdy sapling several feet taller than me.

We are going to have to saw them down in the fall. If we don’t, the driveway won’t be a way to drive anymore.

Pass the garden and up the hill to the mailboxes and the road. It’s a long driveway and feels longest in heat or snow. It’s not so bad when the weather is in the middle.
This is OUR way!
Daylilies on the walk
The long green in the backyard
Up the driveway

LOST IN THE DETAILS FROM LOST IN TRANSLATION – Marilyn Armstrong

THURSDAY’S SPECIAL: LOST IN DETAILS

It’s not a macro, but it is as detailed a photograph of a daylily as I’ve ever taken. 

jupiter najnajnoviji

The Whopper at the Burger King – by Gordon C. Stewart

Some things to think about as America comes into another of its years. He says it as well as anyone could.

Views from the Edge

A friendly young man at the Burger King — I don’t eat Whoppers; I drive to the Burger King in rural Minnesota for the free WiFi — draws my attention. “What’s going on?” he asks, staring at the television monitor behind me and my MacBook Air. I assume he is responding to the breaking news I’d heard moments before on the drive from the cabin to the Burger King — the shooting of journalists in the office of an Annapolis newspaper. He is. He shakes his head; I shake mine. Then the words spill out. “I guess this is what happens when the press is targeted as public enemy number one.” He shakes his head again and walks away.

MARYLAND NEWSPAPER SHOOTINGA few minutes later he returns to speak his support for the Second Amendment and the president. “All this gun stuff . . . we’ve always had guns in school and…

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