I had my doubts about shooting pictures of the birds and I was right. There were a dozen birds flying around. I got the door open and there was a naked bird feeder. I waited outside for a while. Which was a big deal because it can’t be more the 10 degrees  (Fahrenheit), but I thought if I waited, they would show up.

They didn’t.

The Massachusetts state bird — the Chickadee!

I closed the door and went back into the kitchen and sure enough, they flew back. I went back to the other room to get a longer lens and when I came back, I shot through the very dirty kitchen window and hoped for the best.

The best was better than I expected. Talk about grateful!

Top of the woodpecker

While I was getting the other camera, a big red-bellied woodpecker (even though all the red is on his head!) landed. I didn’t get great pictures. The window was dirty and the birds were moving, but I got three pictures that are at least acceptable.

I was also observing that we now have fat birds. Garry asked what they usually look like and I said “Skinny.” They really love our birdseed and are eating up a storm. This is the roundest woodpecker I’ve ever seen!

Back part of the woodpecker. Between seeing him and snapping the shot, he moved. But the colors are close to normal, even if it’s a bit blurry.

Gratefully eating birds … and a grateful photographer. I still can’t figure out how to clean the outside of the window. There’s no place out there to stand or even put a ladder. Something to ponder during dinner.

Happy holiday to one and all, whatever you celebrate and however you choose to enjoy it.

THE FAMILY STRESS TEST – Marilyn Armstrong

It was Garry’s stress test, but somehow, it was mine too. He did all the running and he didn’t quit until the angle on the machine-made caused him to lose his balance. His heart peaked at 165/90 which is the reading I get when I’m a little bit nervous.

Exercise matters.

The word is that his heart is just fine. Excellent. He has a great heart, which i could have told them, but now they have all the readouts, so it’s official. It’s just that we are all getting older.

EKG setup

If I were going to start a new career today, I would go into medical technology. I have to admit — I love those machines. I love watching how neatly the valves in a heart open and close and send the oxygenated blood to be pumped to the rest of the body. I love how they have been able to notice that someone needs an immediate fix — off with you to catheterization or surgery, or intake to the cardiac ward.


I talked with the woman who was in charge of the machinery. She was also in charge of the doctor. She said she loved her job, that medical technology is a fabulous job. You get to do important, potentially life-saving work — but it’s all technology.

My kind of gig. Of course, that work didn’t even exist when I was figuring out what to do with my life. There are so many choices now. Maybe we’ll lose jobs to robots, but robots or robotic tools are going to change the world for all of us.

We came out of the hospital happy. They didn’t exactly tell Garry he was doing great, but they sort of did. I believe the expression was “nothing to worry about.”So Garry is tired after 20 minutes of running uphill. I’m tired from traipsing around the hospital. There are four huge buildings with the same address, so we had to go to two of them to find the right room. Most of the time, if you ask someone where something is, they don’t know. They know where they are going — or where they work — but where anything else might be? It’s a labyrinth.

We needed to stop at the grocery store on the way home because going shopping the day before Thanksgiving would be the ultimate stress test for us. Then he had to haul the groceries upstairs, then haul the trash up our bunny-slope driveway. It was quite a day.

At seventy-six, he is learning to hear and he has a great heart.

Happy Thanksgiving, Y’all.


My son recently got a very cool new ‘toy’ for his house. A “Sleep Number Bed.”

He raved about it and had us test it when we went to visit. Tom was instantly smitten. And why not?

It has two separate remote controls for each of us AND it connects to the internet via an app on our cell phones! What more could a man want from his bed? Maybe a cup of coffee delivered the moment he opens his eyes. But that technology is a few years away!

This bed is super complex. There are all sorts of pipes and God knows what else under there. There is even a light that turns on automatically when you get out of bed so you can see your way back and forth from the bathroom.

Technicians plugging in the wires under the bed

The set up was amazing to watch. Layer after layer went onto the base, including he mattress itself and the elements that fill with air to give support under the mattress.

The early stage of putting the bed together

The best part of this bed for me are the two remote controls. One is just for temperature settings but the other is a computer for bed comfort. You can raise and lower the foot of the bed and each side of the head of the bed, separately. I can be down in sleep position while Tom is way up in reading position. Instead of straining your neck on multiple pillows to watch TV or read, you just raise your head.

There’s a setting for watching TV with both the foot end and the head up that is so comfortable!! You feel cradled by your bed.

Remote on the left is for the bed and the one on the right is for the temperature control pad

You can also set the softness of the mattress and the level of ‘support’ you want. The air-filled compartments under the mattress give your back more or less support. So you have to find the best combination for you of mattress softness and air compartment support.

The remote and the phone App then chart your sleep and tell you how well you slept on those particular mattress settings. It charts periods of deep sleep, restless periods and the number of times you got up.

It also lets you know how effectively your body was supported and whether there were unwanted ‘pressure points’ on your body. The goal is to get rid of the pressure points and have your whole body maximally supported. When you first get the bed, you have to keep adjusting the mattress until you find your optimal settings for the best night’s sleep.

Another stage of bed setup

Another plus for this bed is that the mattress won’t begin to sag like our Temperpedic did. We loved our Temperpedic, but after a few years, Tom’s hips were in a ditch! With the new bed, you can control the air in the unit so you never lose your level of back support. The bed comes with a twenty-year warranty versus a five-year warranty for our last bed.

More bed setup

There’s an optional feature that you can buy that controls the temperature of your side of the mattress. You can either cool or heat your side of the bed, which is great because Tom is always hot and I’m always cold.

Tom says he had never stayed comfortable all night before he could cool his side of the bed. He used to wake up several times a night overheating. Now he only wakes up several times a night to pee – something this bed does not have a setting to control!

Heating pad and connection to control unit under the bed

At first, the dogs seemed confused when the bed started moving and making noise. They would raise their heads and look quizzical. They didn’t jump off and run away. They just realized that something weird was going on. After a few days, they got the hang of it. Now they don’t move a muscle even when their butt is raised up above their head or half of their body is up and the other half down.

So this new bed is going to be a fun toy for a while until it becomes routine and we don’t have to make adjustments every day. In the meantime, we eagerly await our morning sleep scores for the previous night so we can adjust our settings for the next night. We may never get tired of raising and lowering ourselves by remote control.

I certainly hope that we will actually sleep better. I keep forgetting that the bed is not meant to be entertainment, but a sleep enhancer. But for now, it’s a bit of both.


Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Funny

I have cheerful pictures, but nothing that that really makes me laugh. Well, the one where Bishop photo-bombed the shot was funny, but since he died, it’s hard for me to find it as funny as I used to.

Last night, Owen filled the feeders. The flat one was already empty. I think the bigger birds hit the flat one early in the morning and by the time I was awake, it was already empty.

There was a huge collection of birds out there this morning and afternoon. I wanted to take pictures, but I knew by the time I got the camera and got the door open, the birds would be gone, so I had to settle for my eyes.

There was a lovely red-headed woodpecker hanging on the feeder while all the chickadees fluttered around waiting for him to finish up and leave. Some people want to attract woodpeckers, other people want the woodies to leave them alone. They are very determined eaters and once they get into the seed, they don’t leave until they are good and ready. The other birds have to wait them out.

Happy, with dogs

Remembering Bishop, the photo bomber

I’m betting this is a very twisted woodpecker. They seem to be the only larger birds that really hang on the feeder. If he weren’t so twisted up, I could see whether or not he has a red patch on his head. There was a red-head out there today and I kept thinking “Hey Woody!” I know it looks like a dove, but I don’t think it actually is. But of course, I could be wrong. I often am.