COLOR IN OCTOBER – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Wednesday – COLOR


Autumn is languidly considering the possibility of dropping by any day now. The rhododendrons are blooming again … simultaneously with the ones in Sydney, Australia. How weird is that? And my roses are still very much in bloom.

Our own maple tree and it’s one red branch.

The trees? Except for some older maples, meh. Lots of yellow and a bit of orange, but mostly, green. Lighter green than August or September, but still undeniably green.

Douglas

I don’t think we’re going to have much of an autumn. Maybe we’ll get a few great days before it rains again and they all fall off overnight — which is what happened last year.

Bright yellow maple – Douglas

River Bend

It’s the extra month of summer we’re getting. Summer used to be finishing up by late August and quite crisp by the end of September. It’s the nighttime cold snap that brings the leaves into full color and we haven’t had that. We’ve had a few chilly nights, but all of them have been raining.

And rain is the other thing the ruins autumn foliage.

We had to get to the medical lab this morning for bloodwork — me and Garry. Which meant no coffee or English muffins. I took a camera anyway.

I figured there might be a bright tree somewhere and sure enough, right across from the medical building, one huge — old and beginning to die — maple. An interesting mix of brilliant color and naked dead branches. I like the way these half-dead trees look. Good juxtaposition of color and nothingness.

At River Bend

So as of October 10, 2018, these are the colors. This should be full peak autumn. Typically, Columbus Day is peak foliage season. I’m not sure we will actually have a peak foliage season or even a couple of days of it, but here are the bright trees to date.

From New England to you. Color.

NO FREE PARKING – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Parking

There is no free parking in Boston. There is no free parking in New York either. I don’t know about the rest of the big cities, but I’m betting it’s pretty much the same. Assuming you can push your way through the traffic and actually get to the city … what do you do next?

Alley behind the Massachusetts Statehouse in Boston

Weaving through Boston traffic on any given day can be a traumatic experience. Cars and trucks pop out of side streets, apparently without so much as a glance for possible other traffic. If you can find a parking place (good luck with that), it will either cost you a fortune … or pretty much the same amount for a parking ticket.

I have stood there, calculating which is going to cost more — the ticket or a legal spot. The legal spot is usually not only more expensive, but it’s much less convenient than parking wherever you happen to be.

My first car experience in Boston traffic was waiting at a light and getting hit by a car leaving a parking space. I got hit by a parked car standing still. At a light. Welcome to Massachusetts.

How about the people leaving illegally parked cars and stand there with their doors open, waiting for you to knock it off the frame?

I do not know if all cities are as bad as Boston, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are. Of course, now people lurch wildly through streets talking on the phone. Blind and deaf to traffic, at the very least can’t we ban cell phones in cars? AND while walking on the street?

Walkers who have parked are the terror of the roads.

Considering how often we stand at an intersection waiting for the driver in front of us to get off the phone and drive, it’s hard to tell who is parked and who isn’t.

Out here, in the country, the roads aren’t as packed with traffic as they are in town. You can generally find a place to park — at least in the village. Out in the country, it’s perfectly legal — but the odds are very good that someone — texting or talking — is going to come around a curb and whack your car.

Remember TV shows where the cop or private detective could park anywhere? There was always a spot for him, even in the middle of Manhattan or Los Angeles. I want to see more realistic shows where the guy misses his appointment because the IS no parking. And he doesn’t have $120 for two hours of downtown parking.

IN THE DARK OF NIGHT, THE SOUNDS WE HEAR – Marilyn Armstrong

I have to start this out by explaining that just a couple of days ago, I heard a noise in the bedroom. It was the kind of noise the wakes me right up because it was a little squeaky noise. Like the sound a mouse makes. And it was followed by little scrabbly sounds.

We had a  mouse in the bedroom!

Now, we’ve put a fair amount of energy and money into controlling our mouse problems and we know we haven’t had any up here, and just a few in the basement. The last time the mouse guy was out — just a couple of weeks ago — I asked if there was any chance we’d solve the mouse problem and he said, “No. You live in the woods.”

I said: “I know the mice are just looking for a warm cozy place to spend the winter, but not here.”

He looked at me. “You are,” he said “Exactly what they are looking for. You live in the woods. The mice will find you. Do you know they can slip in through a space no wider than a dime?”

We spent considerable time cleaning the bedroom but didn’t find any sign of mice actually setting up a home in our bedroom. But if I hear that sound again, those mice people will have to get back here and do their mouse annihilation thing. I sympathize with chilled mice, but not my bedroom. Sorry small furries. If I won’t sleep with my dogs, I ain’t sleeping with you!

There are other sounds I’ve heard that cannot be managed by the mouse guy.

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-legged beasties
And things that go bump in the night
Good Lord, deliver us!

– Traditional Scottish Prayer

I’ve never met a ghoul and I have questions about long-legged beasties, but I can speak from personal experience about Things That Go Bump in the Night. Long ago in a house far away, we had our own ghosts. Friendly ghosts or at least, they were friendly to us.

Ghosts have been part of human mythology as long as tales have been told around campfires. Maybe before campfires. I don’t think if any religion excludes the possibility of ghosts. There seems to be a general agreement that ghosts and wraiths are spirits of the dead who linger on Earth after they have slipped that mortal coil. Some are malevolent, others benevolent or merely curious. Ghosts vary by mythology, religion, and era. Even today, there are rumors and stories.

I cannot claim to have seen a ghost, but I lived in a house where everyone could hear our ghosts. It was 1965 when for $20,300, we were able to buy a tidy little brick house built in 1932. On the first floor were two bedrooms and a bathroom. There was a big bedroom on the partially finished second floor. The house was small but solid, walking distance from the college where my husband worked and I was finishing my degree.

The ambiance of the house from the moment we walked into it was overtly friendly. It welcomed everyone and made them feel at home. The little house had been built by a couple who had lived, raised children, and then died in it. They were not murdered or anything sordid. They merely grew old and passed on in the home they loved.

We loved it too. My son wouldn’t come onto the scene for 4 more years, but it was a good house to raise babies. I could feel it.

The house was a bit neglected. Not falling down but in need of paint and some modernization of its infrastructure. It still had its original heating system, converted from a coal burner to an oil furnace. Not very efficient and the radiators were huge, old and iron. Oil was cheap; we didn’t worry about it. We’d get to it eventually.

Initially, we lived on the first floor since the bathroom was there. The upstairs had been an attic, but half of it had become a bedroom. We wanted to move up there. It was bigger and had great light, but we needed to fix it up first.

Before anything else, we wanted to paint. The entire house was painted pale salmon pink. It wasn’t ugly, but it wasn’t any color we’d have chosen. Worse, it was high gloss paint, like one would use in a kitchen or bath.

We painted the downstairs first. Every night, we heard our ghosts walking. You could hear the sound of heavy, loud footsteps upstairs, sharp, like the soles of hard leather shoes or boots. Everyone on the lower floor heard it.

The walking started around eight in the evening, continued for a few minutes. Then the footsteps would pause and restart randomly until around midnight. The footsteps always stopped by midnight and never began before eight.

We called them “The Old Man” and “The Old Woman.” They wore different shoes. Her shoes had a sharp sound, like high heels on a hardwood floor. His were clunkier like maybe work boots. Both of them had died in the house, so they were prime candidates for ghosthood, especially since no one ever lived in the house until we moved in.

At first, we also heard them on the steps, but after we painted the stairway, the footsteps retreated and we only heard them in the attic and bedroom. After we began painting the bedroom, we continued to hear them for a while in the attic and then, one day, they were gone, never to return.

Were they watching to see if we properly cared for and loved their home? I thought so. Were we all hallucinating? It was the 1960s, so anything is possible, but I think it was the couple who had lived there watching to make sure we did right by the house. We did and I guess they felt it was okay to depart.

Life is full of strangeness. If anyone has bumped into a long-legged beastie, please tell me about it. I’m dying to know.

CRITICISM – Marilyn Armstrong

Mostly brutal


Brutal honesty is always more brutal than honest and is never well-meant.

Honesty without kindness is meanness under false colors.

When criticism is given without love or humor, its aim is not to inform, but to hurt.


Anyone can tell — by the tone of voice and facial expression — the true intent of someone who is “only telling the truth for your own good.” Most of the time, it’s a bald-faced lie. I wish people who have a bone to pick would just say so and stop pretending it’s for my own good. It’s for their good if anyone’s good is truly involved.

brutal honesty

Some people really can’t handle criticism, no matter how gently given — or even a suggestion there might be a better way to do something. In which case, give it up. Whatever you feel you need to tell them? Don’t bother They’ll always take it the wrong way and no one will benefit. Sometimes, they have good reasons for reacting that way, but it doesn’t matter. From your point of view, it’s a lost cause. Give it up.

On the whole, people who like to criticize other people get a kick out of it. I would like to kick them back.

So, to sum this up, are you suggesting I don’t take criticism well? Who do you think you are, anyway? I take criticism fine. You are out of line, sir. I am the soul of restraint and patience and if you don’t agree, I’m going to shout at you until you apologize.

There. Now I feel better.

RHODODENDRONS BLOOMING IN OCTOBER – Marilyn Armstrong

Rhododendrons: Flower of the Day – October 9, 2018

My garden is a mess right now. Most of the flowers are dead and many need to be cleared out. I’ve done a bit of it, but it needs more. I’m not so steady on my feet right now, so I think it’s going to wait until I’m less likely to fall down.

Pretty and simple!

Meanwhile, my roses are blooming and there are a lot more rhododendrons. What’s even stranger is that the rhododendrons are blooming — in the middle of October. They don’t bloom this time of year.

These are our blooming rhododendrons. These are old-fashioned bushes with single, white flowers.