#writephoto regulars ~ Meet Marilyn Armstrong – SUE VINCENT’S DAILY ECHO (Reblog)

I always feel a bit odd writing about myself (again) since basically, that what I do every day. Thank you, Sue. You are one of the good ones who brings joy to everyone who knows you, personally or virtually!


#writephoto regulars ~ Meet Marilyn Armstrong

I asked the writephoto challenge regulars if they would like to come over and introduce themselves. Today we meet Marilyn Armstrong, who blogs at Serendipity.

Without those of you who write and read the pieces inspired by the weekly photos, the writephoto prompt would not exist. So, if you follow or take part in the weekly challenge, why come over and introduce yourself too?

Being a regular does not mean taking part every week… so why not drop me a line?


I know where I began and I know where I am, but how did I get here?

I think a lot has to do with — you guessed it — my mother. Born in 1910, she lived through World War I and II, then Korea and Vietnam and anything other war until she died in November 1982. She was politically active from a young age. She remembered how the government poured poison over excess food during the depression so starving people couldn’t eat it.

I thought she was making it up, but it turned out to be true. She was an avowed atheist, though I think in reality, she was angry with God. She felt that if there was one, he had failed us.

She was a bona fide liberal. She hated racism and wasn’t thrilled with any government. She believed all politicians were corrupt, regardless of party. She hated religious dogma and neglected to tell me I was Jewish until I was in second grade. The subject came up in school. One day, I came home and asked my mother: ” What’s a Jew?”

She looked at my father and spoke the immortal words: “We have to do something about this.”

When the Vietnam War (which wasn’t a war, but a “police action”) was in progress, I was part of the college anti-war group. I pointed out to my mother that all that money we used for the war could be used to fix problems at home.

She looked at me and said: “There is always money for war, but there will never be money for domestic problems.”

I thought she was just being cynical.

I had a lot to learn.

My mother was so against doing things the usual way, I didn’t do things the usual way. The only thing I wanted to do was write, so I became a music major. I never took a writing course. I was sure it would ruin my style. Like, at 17, I really had a style?

Mom

I thought she was making it up, but it turned out to be true. She was an avowed atheist, though I think in reality, she was angry with God. She felt that if there was one, he had failed us.

She was a bona fide liberal. She hated racism and wasn’t thrilled with any government. She believed all politicians were corrupt, regardless of party. She hated religious dogma and neglected to tell me I was Jewish until I was in second grade. The subject came up in school. One day, I came home and asked my mother: ” What’s a Jew?”

She looked at my father and spoke the immortal words: “We have to do something about this.”

When the Vietnam War (which wasn’t a war, but a “police action”) was in progress, I was part of the college anti-war group. I pointed out to my mother that all that money we used for the war could be used to fix problems at home.

She looked at me and said: “There is always money for war, but there will never be money for domestic problems.”

I thought she was just being cynical.

I had a lot to learn.

My mother was so against doing things the usual way, I didn’t do things the usual way either. The only thing I wanted to do was write, so I became a music major. I never took a writing course. I was sure it would ruin my style. Like, at 17, I really had a style?

Marilyn and the kiddo

I did write for a living, but I wasn’t a lonely novelist in a house on a cliff. Instead, I wrote advertising, promotional material, book flaps, and news. The “who, what, when, where, and how” of news writing turned out to be a good set up for any subject. After that, 25 years of technical documents taught me to say it simply and skip the adjectives.

I feel like a bit of a sham since unlike most of the other people who have written for Sue, I only wrote one book. Hardly anyone bought it, though someone offered to make it into a movie — except he couldn’t find a backer. I never really expected it to happen, but it was cool that he offered.

For me, blogging is the most natural way to write. I’ve spent a lifetime writing professionally with a boss looking over my shoulder. News and features. Always, there was specific material that needed to be conveyed, a character count, and a boss.

Marilyn in the teepee

The only things I ever wrote for fun were personal letters. I used to write great letters home when I lived overseas. In fact, I’m pretty sure most of my romance with Garry took place via letter.

He wrote. I wrote. He wrote. I wrote. For almost 10 years, we never stopped writing. Once I came back to the U.S., neither of us wrote another letter.

But I remember thinking “I wish there was something I could do which was just like writing letters.” Along came blogging.

Voila!

Blogging is exactly like writing letters to everyone at the same time. It’s what I always wanted to do and I don’t have a boss at my back. The only thing I miss is having an editor to fix typos and warn me to rewrite awkward language. And a paycheck.


About the Author

Marilyn as writer (matching shirt)

Marilyn Armstrong is a writer, blogger, and photographer. She started writing as soon as she could form letters and has never heard a single good reason why she should stop.

Marilyn and her husband Garry — and various intrepid canines live in a setting of rare natural beauty and gigantic rocks in rural Massachusetts.

Marilyn blogs at Serendipity – Seeking Intelligent Life On Earth  where she offers “memories via anecdotes, observations, occasional fiction, and photographs.”


Find and follow Marilyn

Serendipity blog     Twitter    Facebook

Amazon     Goodreads     Google+


The Twelve Foot Teepee

Fighting the of demons of an abusive childhood and having given up on traditional paths to personal salvation, Maggie decides to find her own path … by building a teepee in her backyard. It’s a peculiar route, but her goal is simple: offload the cargo of her past and move into a future, sans luggage. Armed with a draw knife and a sense of humor, she peels poles and paints canvas until winter passes and she is free.


Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo

SURPRISE AND MORTIFICATION

What We Know Now, by Rich Paschall

From the 2016 campaign right up to the 2018 midterm elections the best and worst of America has been on display, mostly the worst.  While the vocal Trump minority will not agree, the picture of America now not only is degrading to most, it is also an international embarrassment of epic proportion. Having just returned from an international trip, I can verify that we look like third world thugs from the outside.  Forty-five’s supporters just don’t care, however.

Believe me, folks.

Imagine if you can, any America politician saying the following:

“A vote for the Democrats in November is a vote to let MS-13 run wild in our communities.”  (MS-13 is a criminal gang, most of Central American ethnicity.)

“Democrats want anarchy, they really do, and they don’t know who they’re playing with, folks.”  (Another fear tactic of epic proportion)

“Who wouldn’t take Kate’s picture and make lots of money if she does the nude sunbathing thing. Come on, Kate!” (Regarding the Duchess of Cambridge)

“Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest – and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault.”  (You be the judge.)

“This is an island surrounded by water, big water, ocean water.” (On Puerto Rico, see above)

“We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden! Who would believe this?” (This was said on Feb. 18, 2017.  Nothing of note was reported in Sweden the night before.)

There are literally thousands of these statements.  Reputable websites and media outlets have reported them to the general public.  There is video evidence on these and just about all of the thousands of lies and outrageous opinions expressed by 45.  It would seem to be an indisputable fact that 45 is not just a bad president, he is also one on the most narcissistic and deceitful people on the planet.

The level of the con job being perpetrated on the American public by 45 might be of little surprise to the people who have done business with him in the past.  It might also be of no surprise to those who followed the celebrity of the reality TV star.  But it sure seems to be a surprise to much of the public.

With someone who is not a politician, diplomat or even a good businessman (reportedly), the West Wing of the White House often seems to be in disarray.  The lies and contradictions that come out are not as bad as some of the policies put into place by Cabinet appointees and Republican legislators.

The party of Trump would like you to believe they have a mandate for their harmful positions.  You know the ones: tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations that have exploded the deficit, deregulation allowing pollution of the air and waterways, elimination of school policies that protect students from unfair treatment,  filling federal court vacancies with extreme right-wing conservatives (that will protect them), putting immigrant children in cages, ignoring the needs of Puerto Rico (a Commonwealth of the United States), and the list goes on.

The fact is they have no mandate at all.  Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by 2.9 million votes.  While 45 likes to tell his followers that the Democrats stole millions of votes as a way of explaining this, if the Russia collusion claim is true, millions of votes may have been stolen for Trump.

Here is the mortifying part of all this.  There is an overwhelming number of people in this country who believe the lies told regularly, daily in fact, by the Trump administration, or they just don’t care.  They have a man who will speak his mind, no matter how crazy it is, and they like that.  While they are cheering him on, his government is enacting policies that hurt almost every one of them.

“I think the most damaging aspect of Trump’s lies is that many people believe him. The more Trump tells lies, the fewer people seem to care,” opined Ted Slowak of the Daily Southtown.  “I think it’s wrong for the president to say those who disagree with his views on immigration want terrorists and violent criminals to come into our country.” But that is what he says and what his followers believe.

As he left the Senate, former Senator Al Franken commented that he felt we were losing the war for truth. “And if that’s the case — if that’s what happens — then we have lost the ability to have the kinds of arguments that help build consensus, or at least help the American people make informed choices about the issues that affect their lives.”

Sources include: “The 11 most dangerous things Donald Trump said in his Montana speech,” The Point, July 6, 2018, cnn.com
“(Only) 35 of the stupidest Donald Trump quotes,” 4 October 2017, tattler.com
“Trump’s biggest whoppers of 2017,” December 24, 2017, nbc.com
“Trump’s ‘best policies’ are the worst,” 8/12/2018, opinion, washingtonpost.com
“Slowik: Worst part of Trump’s lies is so many people believe him,” June 28, 2018, chicagotribune.com

LIVING ABSTRACT WHEN TRUTH NO LONGER SERVES – by Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Abstract

Life is abstract. Truth, apparently, is the ultimate abstraction. Today, we live in a fictional, abstract universe and wonder why we aren’t entirely happy.

It’s hard remaining at peace with the world. Between the political mess into which we’ve been sucked and the slow but steady erosion of the planet, it can be terrifying. It’s a lot easier to not really look at it and pretend it just can’t be true. Reality is not abstract and frequently very unpleasant.

Someone, the other day, wrote that there were plenty of “nice people” in the world and therefore, the planet couldn’t really be falling apart. That’s kind of like saying you bought a new sweater at a terrific discount and therefore, you can’t possibly fall down the stairs.

The planet. Earth. Our planet has been in trouble for a long time. The climate changes we are seeing now are relatively recent and mostly are emerging from the past couple of hundred years of coal smoke and poisons in the soil and water. But even before the industrial revolution, ancient men turned open grassland into the Sahara desert while killing off the woolly mammoths.

Roaring Dam: Garry Armstrong – They cannot remove the dam because it is built on horribly poisonous earth and freeing that earth would destroy the river — all over again.

We are a murderous race. We are also the only animal on this planet who pollutes. Nothing else living ruins the home in which they live: just people. Every other species seems able to live in harmony with Mother Earth. Only humans cut it up into pieces, pour trash in the oceans and hazardous waste into the ground.

Do scientists argue about this development?

No, they don’t. ALL of them are in complete agreement that we are trashing the earth. There is some minor discussion of exactly how long it will take to fully accomplish the task, but no argument that we’ll get there. We are determined to kill ourselves off.

Flames from the Valley Fire cover a hillside along Highway 29 in Lower Lake, California September 13, 2015. The swiftly spreading wildfire destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands of residents to flee as it roared unchecked through the northern California village of Middletown and nearby communities, REUTERS/Noah Berger

Trashing a whole planet is not an overnight job. You aren’t going to see a timeline with a steady line of changes, evenly spread out. Some places will be hurt worse than others and along the oceans, you’ll see the disasters first. Really, you are already seeing them, but most people don’t want to recognize the pattern. It’s a relatively recent development. A giant storm that might have happened “once in a lifetime” is now just “wait a few weeks.”

Tahlequah and her dead calf

Meanwhile, there is the incredible stupidity of the “anti-vaccinators.” They are convinced — based on zero evidence — that vaccination is in some way dangerous, so measles and whooping-cough are back. Measles is sweeping the U.S. and Europe. We are actually going backward and behaving like the morons who refused to let Pasteur vaccinate cattle against anthrax or the people who drowned witches for helping sick people survive. And last year, we had more deaths from flu than we’ve had in 50 years. Not because the flu was worse, but because adults decided to not get flu shots. I know people who point out they haven’t gotten the flu, so they don’t need a shot.

You can only die once. For old people like me and my friends, one round can finish you off. You don’t get to say “oops” when you’ve had two heart by-passes and catch the flu. I don’t care how much yogurt you eat. Diseases are caused by germs — bacteria and viruses. As we get older, we get more fragile and stuff that would have inconvenienced us when we were thirty can kill us.

Don’t be stupid – get a flu shot. I don’t have enough friends and I don’t want to lose any.

Add that to the growing fascist politics worldwide? What a world, eh?

I am personally pretty happy. Poor, but happy. I wish I were healthier and wealthier, but within the limits of our lives, I’m pretty good. My family and friends are great people and we meet plenty of lovely people outside in the world.

A child wearing a gas mask against air pollution
Photo Credit: xef/Shutterstock

But all the lovely people won’t stop the ice from melting, un-pollute the oceans, or stop superstorms from devastating our coastlines. Or educate the idiots who think eliminating lethal diseases is a bad idea. Some of these people are simply too stupid to fix.

Add it all up? Kind of hard to really feel happy with our world as they threaten to remove the money on which we live, the medical care we need, make our air unbreathable while polluting the water we drink.

Hurricane Florence in North Carolina

Terry Pratchett used to point out that if humans lived long enough to see how much damage they do, they might think twice before doing it. Polluters need to live in their own filth. People who try to sell “clean coal” should live next to one of those generators and spend their lives breathing it. What a pity that the worst of them don’t have to live with the horrors they create. And what morons are we that we believe the tripe they tell us?

And the other thing I heard: “Don’t watch the news. It’s all lies. Get your information from knowledgeable sources … like Facebook.”

The news is not all lies, but quite possibly Facebook IS.

In the end, I’m okay. I’m old and before it all turns to crap, I’ll be outta here. If humanity is that stupid, we deserve to vanish. I’m sure the earth will be better without us.

This isn’t abstract.

It’s true. Provable. Scientific. Factual. Real. But before you believe it, better check Facebook. You wouldn’t want to be deluded by facts!

REFLECTIONS: THE COLORS OF FALL – Garry & Marilyn Armstrong

A Photo a Week Challenge: Reflection


Reflections in the Blackstone in the fall are beautiful. The colors are soft in the water, though if the water is quiet, sometimes it is as close as you can get to a mirror.

Rivers usually are not quite as silky as bigger bodies of water. Ponds and lakes sometimes are so smooth, you can turn the picture upside down and it looks almost the same, both ways.

Despite the lack of a brilliant fall, this October has produced a lot of pictures. Garry was outside today because we had sunshine. No reflections today … we don’t have any water here … but plenty of pictures.

River reflections – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Blackstone River in Rhode Island – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Reflecting river – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Mumford river reflections – Photo: Marilyn Armstrong

Reflection of the bridge on the canal – Photo: Marilyn Armstrong

Full reflection in the canal – Photo: Marilyn Armstrong

BE IT EVER SO HUMBLE – Garry Armstrong

FOTD – Be It Ever So Humble – October 26, 2018

It was a beautiful day. Actually sunny from earliest rays of the morning until sunset. I went out to clean up our front walk — the dogs, you know — and everything looked bright. We didn’t get much in the way of reds or orange, but the woods are quite yellow and the oaks are beginning to turn to bronze.

I went in to grab my camera and took a few pictures.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Aldrich Street

Photo: Garry Armstrong -The oaks are changing color

Fred the Flamingo is still in the garden – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Down the driveway – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong – West past the shed into the woods