FIGHT FIERCELY HARVARD! – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Fierce

FIGHT FIERCELY HARVARD! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!
as sung by Professor Tom Lehrer

MAPLES TREES ALONG THE BLACKSTONE RIVER – Marilyn Armstrong

FOTD – October 20, 2018 – Maple Trees

Garry and I went down to the River Bend Farm along the Blackstone River. The trees were still green except for the maple trees, a giant pear tree, and some Virginia Creepers. Also at home, I found some brilliant sassafras leaves which turn an incredible shade of yellow gold.

Red creeper
A really big maple tree
Virginia creeper in yellow – See the red version, too
Yellow leaves in a big pear tree
Fallen leaves
Oak leaves

SERENDIPITY IN MATURITY – WHAT’S NEXT? – Marilyn Armstrong

WHAT’S NEXT?


I had been having the same depressing dream for a while. I’d wake up, fall back to sleep and there that stupid dream was. Again. When I opened my eyes, finally realizing I wasn’t going to close them again, I thought: “Forget about fixing the universe. I should just fix me.”

I have really loved this blog. I’ve loved being able to write whatever I want without a boss looking over my shoulder. Now, I’m wondering why I feel like I’ve blocked myself off into a corner, why nothing feels quite “right.”

It used to be if you wrote a good piece, people read it. Now, I’ve got lots of people stopping by and “liking” stuff, but I have a distinct impression folks don’t really read anything.

Meanwhile, I have a huge base of “followers” — and I never hear from 99% of them. Who ARE those people? They can’t all be Russian hackers, can they?

I don’t want to get rid of Serendipity. I’ve put years of effort into it and it matters. To me, anyway. I realize it’s no big deal in the great scheme of things, but it’s meant a lot to me. I want it to go on, but I don’t want it to rule my life.

Where is that middle ground we are always talking about?

I enjoy writing. I like communicating. These days, I’m not sure I’m doing either. Is anyone hearing anyone anymore?

How do you feel? Do you feel your better pieces get attention or does it seem that posts fly by and no one hears you?

LOOKING OUT – THE GLASS CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

A Photo a Week Challenge: Through Glass


I take a lot of pictures through glass probably because I live in a land of snow, ice, rain, and mud — conditions which sometimes make going out to take pictures less than pleasant.

But to deal with the bad weather, we have doors and windows.

Two dogs looking through the picture window. They too enjoy watching, even on a very lovely, but chilly day.
Autumn window from the kitchen
Autumn from the front 
Gibbs, Duke, and a window

And taking pictures through them is one of the ways I cope with recovering from something, or inclement weather.

WHO IS RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR IN MASSACHUSETTS? – Marilyn Armstrong

I had to look it up. I actually didn’t know who else was running for governor. Shame on me.

Shame on us!

We were watching the millionth advertisement for Charlie Baker, our current governor. He’s a Republican, but not the kind you find in Washington D.C. Massachusetts’ spawns very liberal Republicans. They are so liberal, it’s can be hard to figure out to what party they belong.

Our Republican governors run on everybody’s money — Democrat and Republican — because he manages to be nice to everyone, or at least nice enough to keep them on his side, more or less.

Charlie Baker is not a bad governor or a bad guy. He has basically followed the path of previous governors, except he has been more parsimonious. He hasn’t done anything very different from other governors or “Republicanized” our laws. He briefly waved at supporting Trump and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts came down on him like a mountain.

He backed off faster than a speeding bullet. This is the bluest state in the U.S. and a really red Republican was not going to do well here.

Since then, he has streamlined the budget until we now have a billion dollar surplus in the state treasury. Golly! That’s a fair bit of change. I have nothing against dealing wisely with finances. But where is the money coming from?

On the surface, a billion buck surplus sounds great, right?

Except in order to accumulate that billion dollars, he simply stopped doing stuff which urgently needs doing. The roads have gone unpaved. The rails are downright unsafe. Bridges are crumbling.

We are short 13,000 nurses statewide and many hospitals have closed. There are large areas without any local hospitals and barely any doctors.

Fall at UMass Amherst

The University of Massachusetts is as expensive as many private universities — and that is for people who are Massachusetts residents. The curriculum has been cut, too.

Meanwhile, our public schools are not improving. In another effort to financially cut back, MassHealth, our state’s version Medicaid has been slashed. A lot of people who have no other medical insurance now are forced to pay some dollar amount monthly.

It usually isn’t a lot in gross amounts but it can seem an awful lot to a family who depends on it. Still, compared to other American states, it’s about as good as American medical care gets. It even includes some care for eyes and teeth! It used to have more, but each year there’s less.

So then, I asked Garry which Democrat is running against Charlie Baker? He said “Someone with a Spanish last name,” but he couldn’t remember the actual name. Jay Gonzalez hasn’t had any television ads — or at least we haven’t seen them. None.

Basically, we have a choice of voting for Charlie Baker or someone about whom we know nothing because he apparently has no war chest for getting out the vote.

This bothers me.

I should at least know who else is running. It shouldn’t be that one guy has all the money, all the advertisements, all the endorsements, so naturally, we all vote for him. That’s not how it’s supposed to be.

The thing is, with all the advertisements about the great things Charlie Baker has done, he hasn’t done anything in this part of the state. The bridges are as bad as ever. The roads are worse. The schools are mediocre, ranging to pathetic.

BOSTON, MA. – SEPTEMBER 26: Gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez speaks to media at The Massachusetts Statehouse on September 26, 2018, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo By Patrick Whittemore/Boston Herald)

All public schools teach is how to pass required tests. Students learn nothing. They memorize what teachers expect to find on the exams. Good memorizers get good grades. Not such good memorizers do poorly.

Bad teachers, not enough teachers, huge classes. A lot of kids fall by the wayside.

When money goes to “help” schools, it always goes to some “charter school” in Boston or suburban Boston where the leaves are green and so is the money. And, because the population in Worcester county doesn’t come close to Boston or any of the areas near it, we can vote our hearts out, but unless it’s a local representative, we don’t have much effect on the election. Essentially, unless it’s a very local representative, our votes don’t count. Not nationally or regionally.

Areas with very with small populations don’t get much say in American politics.

So I’m voting for the other guy.

Because when I look at Charlie Baker’s slick advertising? What I I see is Boston. I see him cutting the bottom out of our upper and lower educational systems, failing to help improve our medical facilities, not helping the nursing schools engage students or helping hospitals pay for more nurses. I’m sure we can get him to pass a law about it, but that won’t solve the problem and will probably make it worse because the rest of the issue is that we need nurses and the money to pay them. And a law isn’t going to make that happen. Laws need funding and enforcement and some concept of the potential side effects of the law.

We have a habit in this state and this country of passing laws and then trying to figure out how to make it work. On a national level, sometimes this works, but mostly, it doesn’t work anywhere. Passing laws is not a single-layer job.

Even though I’m voting “no” on mandatory nursing ratios, it’s not because I don’t believe our nurses deserve a better deal but because I live in an area where there are very few decent hospitals. If mandatory nursing ratios force another 200 hospitals to close and any of them is in Worcester County,  it’s going to be hard to get into a hospital. I’d rather have overworked nurses than no place able to care for me.

For some of us, this is a life or death set of issues in this election and I’ve decided I want to live.