ALL THOSE BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong

So while the guy was here trying to figure out what was wrong with our boiler, he said “You know, I saw a lot of birds flying around when I came. I hope you don’t have a bird’s nest in the duct.”

Two Chickadees sharing a feeder

“No,” I assured him. “It’s just that we have a bird feeder on the deck.” Actually, when we lived in Boston, we did have a birds’ nest in a duct and we had to have it removed. I didn’t like it, but if the duct is blocked and air can’t move through it, it can get pretty funky.

Fat little Chickadee

Our woods offers plenty of places for birds to nest. Depending on mood, there are trees, tall and not so tall and a fair number of hollow trees.

Especially right now because so many trees fell during recent storms. We clean the branches off the driveway and roof, but whatever falls in the woods is a welcome home for birds and critters.

Tufted Titmouse

This morning, right before I realized it was pretty cold and determined we had no heat, I saw a full red-headed woodpecker hanging on the feeder. I went to get the camera and of course, he left and didn’t come back. But I did get some nice pictures of Tufted-Titmouse and Chickadees.

One Titmouse and a Chickadee. They will share the feeder … but from opposite sides and they never touch.

NOTE: Is the plural of Tufted Titmouse, Tufted-Titmouses? I know it’s not mice because they are birds. Anyone know? Or is the singular also the plural? Volunteers?

One more Chickadee. We have many.

Garry washed the window inside today. Maybe tomorrow’s pictures will be less blurry. I can hope.

THE POST-EVENT CRASH – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Saturday – CRASH


I noticed in the definition that my favorite slang definition of a “crash” is missing. It’s the exhausted collapse after a busy week, weekend, vacation, or period of travel. Or really, any major festivity. When you get back from whatever you were doing and you fall in a useless heap on the nearest soft surface. Be it bed or sofa, it is officially “a crash.”

“I called but you didn’t answer!”

“Hey man, I was totally crashed out. That was some weekend.”

I think we’ve been permanently crashed out since Garry began his march to hearing from non-hearing.

Sometimes crashing isn’t a physical thing, either. It’s emotional. You got all worked up about something — and not necessarily a bad thing. A big party or a series of big parties … or the winter holidays. Then, suddenly, New Year’s comes and goes and that deflation leaves you completely crashed.

Somewhere, in your mind’s ear you hear someone singing “The Party’s Over,” and you realize it’s another year. We don’t get that excited about the holidays anymore, but we do get excited about vacations — when finally they come around. It’s good I take a lot of pictures. That helps keep the mood for a while longer. Sort of stretches the even for as long as you are still processing the photographs.

Festive on the commons!

And it’s that time of year again. If you are getting all lathered up about the holidays, try to remember that it’s a month of festivities, but it ends. Please! Don’t crash!

ON THE ROAD AGAIN – THE WHICH WAY CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Which Way Challenge: November 22, 2018


Haven’t been out on the road much, but I did manage to take a few shots when we were on our way back from Connecticut.  I knew I would need some road pictures. And here they are.

We got stuck in a couple of hours of non-moving traffic which always gives me time to take a few shots. Not great shots, but … a little something.

NOW THE DAYS ARE SHORT – Rich Paschall

BUT NOW THE DAYS ARE SHORT, RICH PASCHALL

Photo: Garry Armstrong

When I was seventeen, it was a very good year…

When I turned seventeen, I had finished my Junior year in high school and was looking forward to the Senior year at a new school.  It was a bit scary, I admit.  No one wants to leave his mates behind and start again, but that was my fate, not my choice.

At least the new school was in the neighborhood, and I already knew a few students who were going there.  Although we did not admit at the time, the final year of high school put many new thoughts into our heads.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

You may think sex or sexual orientation, but those thoughts had already arrived years earlier.  All the passing of a few years meant was that these thoughts and curiosities intensified.  As you might imagine, a few of the boys and girls were a little more advanced than the others.  I think that stands out to you a little more at seventeen.

The new school brought new friends, new interests and new teachers.  There were subjects and activities the other school lacked.  The final high school year also proved to be, as I suspect it did for many of my friends, one of the best years of my life.  Some of those friends and those memories stayed with me over the decades.  I had no idea then that it would be the “best of times.”

When I was twenty-one, it was a very good year…

Four years later, brought a similar situation.  It was time to move on to Senior year of university and hopefully finish my degree on time (I didn’t).  It did not hold the lasting thrills of 17, but it did seem in a certain way to represent the transition to adulthood.  In reality, I was no more adult than at 20 or twenty-two.  It was just a symbolic thing.

The “coming of age” also allows you to drink legally, but that did not mean too much. I was days, weeks or months older than the friends I hung around with so it is not like we all headed off to some bar.  Still, the year seemed to hold a certain energy that young adulthood will give you if you let it.

When I was thirty-five, it was a very good year…

I had finally earned my Masters Degree.

It was not about career advancement.  It was about reaching a goal I had set years earlier.  I sometimes studied for the Comprehensive exams with a woman in her 70’s.  She was pretty much doing the same thing, reaching for a past dream.

I could tell her of the courses I had and of books I read, and she pushed me to study things I was certain would never be on the Masters’ exam again.  She was right about the exam questions and perhaps the reason we both marched up to receive our diplomas on the same day.

It felt like I had hit my stride at 35, although I can not really point to other reasons why.  If you have good friends, good times, and a reason for doing things, all seems right with the world.

Well, almost all seemed right.  I did not find the one right person to share my very good years.  Honestly, I can not say I looked all that hard.  I guess I was having too good of a time.

But now the days are short, I’m in the autumn of the year…

One thing that you become acutely aware of as you get older is that the days are short.  They don’t seem to last as long as the days of youth, you don’t seem to get as much done and you certainly don’t feel thirty-five.  You realize, no matter how desperately you try to suppress the thought, that the days are indeed numbered.

Even if you are optimistically believing that there are, let’s say, thirty-five years left, you know none will be like the year you were thirty-five.

With any luck at all, some will still be very good years.

If your life is like a fine wine, there will be many years which are a fine vintage.  Wine aficionados will refer to this as a “very good year.”  I hope to still have them.  None are 17 or 21 or 35, nor will they be again.  With any luck at all, however, I will be able to drink in the rest and enjoy them as if I were sitting in a vineyard in France with one of my best friends while we recall our great adventures together.

And I think of my life as vintage wine
From fine old kegs,
From the brim to the dregs,
It poured sweet and clear.
It was a very good year.

Although many had recorded this song, it won the Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance, Male, in 1966 for Frank Sinatra.

It Was A Very Good Year, by Ervin Drake, 1961, lyrics © SONGWRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA OBO LINDABET MUSIC INC

HAPHAZARD AND CHAOTIC – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Haphazard

I know this isn’t the most recent prompt, but I missed it and today was just “that kind of day.”


I have spent my life trying to make sense of the chaos of life. We all think we are in charge until we realize we aren’t. In my world, every time I think I’ve finally got it together, that it’s all safely organized, neat, nothing haphazard … that’s usually when life goes off the rails and I realize that — again — the light at the end of the tunnel is indeed an onrushing train

Life is chaotic. We make sense of it when we can, but madness is always waiting around the corner. The unexpected, the unfathomable, the craziness waiting for us around the corner.

In my retirement, I have given in. I have no control and anytime I seem to be in charge I will shortly discover I’m not. Finally, I’m okay with it. I have survived the madness of life this long, so I will probably stagger through what’s left.

After all, the haphazardness of life it what keeps it from being boring. Bring on the chaos and the madness. Why should the future be different than the past?

I’ve officially joined the “what will be, will be” club. Whatever happens, happens. Since I can’t control it, there’s not much point in fretting about it.