BLOGGING BETWEEN MADNESS AND SANITY – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Madness

Between sanity and madness, there has always lain writing. I have written my way out of deep depression, terrible grief, loneliness, and hopelessness. When I write, I find my way. Lately, photography has become part of the writing. Not instead of it, but in addition to it. The pictures are part of my story, the thing that I am doing besides pondering the evils of the world.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

It’s not just because “birds are pretty” or for that matter, because “flowers are pretty.” It’s because both of these things are of the earth and remind me that the earth brings forth beauty. Sometimes, the beauty is also terrible in its potential and consequences. Gigantic storms flood coastlines and river valleys. Fires destroy woods and towns. Winds blow down ancient trees and make the oak trees in our woods groan with the strain of motion for which they are never ready.

Tufted Titmouse

The process of taking these pictures is calming and it brings up a kind of genetic memory of a past built into my bones but lost from active memory. It reminds me of a childhood lived under waving white oaks — and that was the good part of childhood memories. It reminds me of the summer I spent reading hundreds of books about paleontology, volcanoes, and earthquakes.

So much of the stuff I know now I learned before I was ten. The things you learn “way back then” stick in your memory forever. The things I learned yesterday may scatter before dinner, but memories of books I read in childhood are permanent and have become the basis of later learning.

Chickadee

Today is a gray day with patches of blue. I realized that the birds needed feeding. I should have done it yesterday, but there was a holiday this week and it knocked my (very shaky) calendar off-balance. And so, while Garry is out testing the limits of his cochlear implant on creaky old colleagues from his working days, I refilled the bird feeders.

The pink cactus flowering

I had to learn to do it myself because no matter who else I depend on, in the end, I need to be able to do it alone. Sometimes, that’s the way it works. Garry is out, Owen is recovering from surgery and the birds are hungry.

And I need the pictures.

Blessed be the birds the fly through my woods. They keep me sane, keep madness outside the door and let me live just like a regular person.

MY DAY: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE RIDICULOUS – Marilyn Armstrong

So I looked at last year’s stats and realized I did well, stat wise. And I also posted more than 600 MORE pieces than I did in any previous year. That explains a lot of why I feel so pressured.

I understand there seems to be some kind of race to see who can post the most. I got a bit swept up in it. Whereas I used to post three posts a day and thought that was pretty good, the ante went up. Now I’m back down to four and working on getting back to three or even two.

My day starts off late. I sleep late. Not as late as some people I know, but I’m not a dawn riser because I get to bed late, too. Unless I am not feeling well, I like hanging out in bed in the morning. This particular morning I was up early because I was thirsty.

I went to the kitchen to get something cold and wet. While I was there, I sent the dogs out. They went out. They came back in. I gave them a treat which made them were happy.

Two well-fed Chickadees

Since I was up anyway, I looked to see what animals were on my deck and it turned out, there was a squirrel convention in progress.

All those seeds we spilled on the deck? The squirrels were cleaning up. Good squirrels! No birds yet, just squirrels. I could have tried taking pictures, but I chose to go back to bed. I know. Very lame, but I was tired.

Really getting into his food

When I did get up, a few hours later, I realized we had a lot of birds on the deck. Flocks of Chickadees and the Titmouse were flying at the feeder, grabbing seeds and flying off. They were on the feeder, in the trees, on the table, on the deck, on the railing — and in both feeders. It was a relatively warm, sunny day and they were eating their hearts out.

I took pictures. Before I got to take the SD chip to the computer, a Red-Bellied Woodpecker needed photographing. He didn’t stay long because the Chickadees were not going two days without eating because the woodpeckers took over.

I took more pictures. Then I took out the chip and put a new one in … and then there were even more birds, so I took more pictures. At that point, my need for coffee overcame all other needs.

I downloaded all the picture — all 140 of them. I hadn’t even left the house. I never did get around to backing up December. I guess I’ll do that tomorrow. Garry has one of his “old media guys” get-togethers tomorrow, so while he’s schmoozing, I’ll back up my computer. Unless I wind up taking more pictures. I also have to remember to give the dogs their heartworm meds.

And go grocery shopping. Because I didn’t go today.

Junco, one of the walking birds

Somewhere in there, I’ll write something, if I have the time. If not, the world will have to cope with a little less of me.

It’s no wonder I don’t have any time to do anything but blog, run errands, and catch a few hours of sleep. There isn’t enough time to do anything else. I’m pretty sure there’s gotta be a better way.

On a positive note, taking pictures of birds has saved me from an endless preoccupation with the horrors of the world. Our government, the rest of the world’s horrors, the condition of the planet, and the likelihood we’ll wind up without a planet we can live in slightly more than a decade. There’s a lot of potential obsessing in that bundle and I’m grateful to have something else to do with my brain.

Nuthatch with Chickadee

Tonight on television they were selling burial insurance. It was a very pushy ad. For free, you can get a copy of “Things to Take Do Before You Kick The Bucket” or something like that. It’s free! It gives you lists of stuff you need to deal with so you can be buried. Garry laughed. I laughed. We’ll deal with it when it happens. I refuse to sit and write-up lists of what to do before I die so my dying will be neat and tidy.

I lived a messy life. I might as well die a messy death.

MOONSETTING AS THE SUN RISES – Marilyn Armstrong

I used to long for many things. Later, I did most of them. Now they are memories. No need for longing.

These past few years have been difficult. For once, not because of illness of dire poverty, but because the world tipped over and I’ve been clinging to the edges.

In the yearning department, I’ll settle for simple things. Warm weather. Bright skies. This morning, very early — just before five — the sun was rising as the moon was finishing her travels across the night sky.

72-sunrise-moonset-030316_020-2

The moon longed for me. She told me so.

72-Moon-set-030316_008

At least, I believe that is what she said. Sometimes, when the moon speaks, her language is strange and not entirely clear.

What do you think?

FAMILY FIXERS – Marilyn Armstrong

Everyone needs help sometimes … so where do you go to get that quick fix? How about your family?

If it isn’t something I can fix myself or Garry can manage, I usually ask my son for help. He’s not shy about asking for my assistance if he needs it. We are good at different things. Also, he is tall and I am not.

My granddaughter can sometimes be cajoled into cutting or dying my hair … and occasionally, can be urged to come out and take some pictures with me. She’s a good photographer and has a great eye.

Kaiti

When my brother was alive, if there was anything that had anything to do with printing he was always my first call. I do miss him very much. Too many have died too soon.

Other than these folks? The rest of my family was more or less stuck in the 19th century. They were already past middle age when I was a kid and they never made it into the computer era.

I had Uncles. Jack, Abe, Herman, Louis, Mickey, and Sam. I still have an Uncle Sam, come to think of it, but I’m sure he’s not related by blood.

I cannot imagine under what circumstances I would have called any of these uncles to help me with anything at any point in my life, not even when they were still alive. Their current lack of aliveness makes them even less likely to be helpful in a crisis than formerly. It’s hard for me to picture big, bluff Uncle Abe, the guy who used to toss me in the air to make me giggle and scream, giving me advice on Men, Marriage, Career … or how to fix a computer.

uncle-sam

Or even asking him to read something I wrote to see if he liked it.

He wouldn’t have liked it. None of them would have liked it. Or understood it. Their brows would have furrowed and I am sure they would have found my interest in Such Matters perturbing and disturbing. At the very least.

So here’s the scenario.

Ring. Ring. Ring.

“Hello?”

“Uncle Herman, hi. It’s Marilyn.”

“Who?”

“Marilyn. Dorothy’s daughter.”

“Oh, Dorothy. How is she? Is she coming to visit? I haven’t seen my little sister since … ” Long pause.

“Last month,” I offer helpfully. I’m nothing if not helpful.

“Yes,” he agrees.

“Uncle Herman, I have a problem. My laptop screen seems to have an intermittent connection to the keyboard and I can’t figure out how to fix it. Can I bring it over and have you take a look?”

“Sure Bubbala. Your Aunt just made a big batch of the jello you like so much.”

I really did love the jello Aunt Ethel made. It was never too hard or too soft — always perfect. And she used bunny rabbit-shaped molds so the jello wriggled and jiggled, as jello should.

Jello notwithstanding, I cannot imagine a positive outcome to this encounter. Although in his day, Uncle Herman was good with machines, especially sewing machines (he was a cutter and tailor, as were most of the men in my mother’s family in that generation), computers were … well … not his thing.

July 1963

He could give it a good whack, which might cure the problem or finish off the computer. A simple, fast, permanent fix. Not exactly what I had in mind.

Or they could have served me jello and we would talk about this and that, forgetting the reason for the visit because seriously, when you have a problem, do you call your family to help you out? Really?

And as a final note of caution, quick fixes are rarely good fixes. Just an observation.