BIRDS, THE DUKE, AND GOOD MORNING WORLD! – Marilyn Armstrong

I wanted to use someone’s prompt this morning, but nothing fit and I don’t have much time. We have a doctor appointment in less than an hour, so we have to run — and it’s snowing. Lightly so far, but the roads are going to get slippery and I’d rather be home for the slippery part.

Cardinal in the woods

I stood at my bathroom window this morning and was amused to see how many birds were around. Waiting on tree limbs, on branches, in the bushes. I figured they seem to know when the weather is about to turn and like to chow down in advance. Then suddenly, all the birds were in flight.

In flight?

The Duke
Bright Chickadee
Tufted titmouse

It’s The Duke. He has jumped the fence (you can’t keep him in) and is examining — but not chasing — the birds in the backyard. He isn’t supposed to BE in the backyard because we have a fenced front yard. Not for him, but for every other dog we’ve ever had. Just that The Duke is a flyer and I thought he’d stop flying so high as he got a little older.

I was wrong. He’s getting increasingly airborne.

Lately, he has taken to leaping the fence and jumping into the driver’s seat, looking eager. “Dad, can I drive?”

No Duke, you don’t have a license. Pass your written exam first.

Junco

Eventually, I mentally push him back into the house and luckily, he has no interest in the road. Just the woods. He likes hanging around the woods.

But he scattered all my birds this morning and only the sound of me opening the treats carton got him back inside.

A few pictures and we’re outta here. Now it’s REALLY snowing.

I think maybe we aren’t going to the doctor. If it keeps up like this, it is going to be icy and unplowed and now, I can’t even see the road from the front window. Not an emergency. It’ll wait till next week.

It wasn’t supposed to start until around four or five. OH well. I should have known when they canceled school last night that they weren’t sure when it would start. We’ve had a lot of school bus accidents and why they don’t fit them with snow tired, I still don’t understand. But I guess we’re home for a little while. Maybe the birds are back?

A GRADUAL CONGREGATION – Marilyn Armstrong

It turns out, there are a lot of variations of congregate meaning “to get together, join together, group together, party hearty.”

With some fish, it also means collaboration to make baby fish. Or is that conjugation?

But there is no word which means “someone who congregates.” No congregator. Congregationalist? Congregationistic? Congruent?

 Way back when, in the days when I had energy, enthusiasm, and I liked most people, I was much more enthusiastic about “getting together.” I was considered sociable and I almost agreed with that.

I was never quite as sociable many thought. I was a party “edge person.” I would look for whoever was standing along at the edges of a party and engage them in conversation. I never like big groups of people in one place because you couldn’t have a conversation with anyone when everyone was trying to talk.

I made exceptions when I gave the party because if it was my party, I didn’t expect to engage in conversation. Party giving was more about flitting about and making sure everyone else was having a good time. I gave a few good parties through the decades (generations?), but mostly, I preferred having a friend or two or three — and a great conversation about everything.

Remember conversations that lasted until dawn? We covered philosophy, government, the meaning of life. Travel to the stars, reincarnation and the best books we’d read lately. No one was bored or left out.

Later, people got old. Died. Drifted into a world of their own, moved to senior housing “somewhere near their kids” which was always hundreds of miles from us. Others simply drifted.

What we had previously held in common — work — it was no longer relevant after we all had stopped working.

Those of us with functional marriages who really liked our partners have been lucky. Singleness is fine when you are active enough to travel and gadabout, but these days, it’s an abiding joy to have a partner whose hand you can hold while you watch old movies, cuddled by dogs with cold noses.

We’ve been talking lately about how few friends we have remaining. This isn’t unusual at our age. People leave and don’t come back. Many others don’t like traveling. Or driving any distance. More don’t like going to places with which they are unfamiliar. Everyone like their own bed.

If you have pets, it gets increasingly difficult to find someone to take care of them, especially as your pets get old, too.

We still have friends. They are old friends. Friends forever. Who knew the people we knew and share memories of the times through which we’ve lived. Have common political and philosophical beliefs — and hopefully enjoy the same movies.

So let us congregate to our greater enjoyment! Or try, anyhow.

AT&T’S “WHY DID YOU CANCEL” SURVEY – Marilyn Armstrong

They all do it. They sent me a survey to find out “why I had canceled my AT&T subscription.”

Lists of reason, 1 to 10 … and a LOT of them. Usually, I don’t bother to do these surveys, but I was seriously pissed with them, so this gave me one more chance to tell them how pissed I really am.

The sent me a new bill for $71. For leaving. I upgraded my package by resigning. Canceling.

She said it was for the month of January. I asked why it was $20 higher than my standard bill. Because I upgraded my package.

By canceling.

So the survey asked what (precisely) I hated the MOST about AT&T. Hard call.


I had 100 points to use for up to five selections, of which four were strongly in the running:

a — Bad customer service

b — Too expensive

c — Failure to have a plan that I need

d — Limited ability to actually get their signal. 


It was a difficult choice on every level. I really wanted to give whole hundred points (each) to a & b and another 200 points to “too expensive.” Maybe 75 for “lousy connection.” It would be more, but we so rarely used the telephone, the crappy signal hardly mattered.

That was too many points. Painful. I needed many, many more points.  And no matter how I did it, I would need a few extra points for barely usable service and an old phone that we couldn’t afford to upgrade. And a simple, elderly plan because we barely use the phone. We have 5 computers (maybe 6 or possibly 7 if you count a Kindle as a computer) and a landline. We virtually never go anywhere, so for what do I need cell phone except for the occasional emergency in the car or our more typically “We are completely lost. How do we find you”?

I got it down to three: bad customer service, too expensive, and lousy signal. I put 50-points on “Too expensive,” 40-points on “Bad customer service,” and 10-points on “Lousy signal strength.”

I would never use a mobile telephone for any financial purpose, so all the phone needed to do was make an occasional phone call or receive a text. In theory, I can also send texts but I don’t know how.

Personally, I think people who live on their phones are being awfully casual about security. With all the hacking and thieving via cell phones, people just keep adding more and more apps. How many of those apps are really worms? You folks who use phones for everything could be in for a rude surprise.

Meanwhile, one of the final question they asked if I would ever recommend the services of AT&T to a friend.  So let me be clear about this:

SHARE YOUR WORLD WITH ROSES, BUT NOT THE VALENTINE EDITION – Marilyn Armstrong

This week, Melanie said: “This week, instead of gratitude/thankful for question(s), I’m asking romantic, squishy booby hug, possibly sappy and overly sugary QUESTIONS about love.”

I’m here to say at our age, don’t be silly. Holding hands, hugging, kissing … you know, the normal stuff … but the rest of that is for the “hot to trot” or “I’m in LOVE” crowd. Worse, we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day and never have. So we’ll just have to make do with the rest of the questions!

And finally, I’m not comfortable with these questions anyway. They just aren’t “me.”

Anniversary roses

What’s your favorite way to spend a weekend?

At home with good movies and each other … or with friends doing the same but as a foursome. Good weather helps!

Who do you admire most in the world?

In the world? I really have no idea. I admire a lot of writers and artists and athletes. Actors, directors, inventors. Who do I admire most? Honestly, I haven’t the slightest way to know that.

 What do you regret not doing?

Not much. Wish we’d gotten to Paris and Japan, but otherwise, it’s been a pretty good life. I regret not getting filthy rich, though given who I am, I can’t imagine how that could have happened. Some of us were not born to collect great wealth.

If you see a puddle on the ground, do you walk around it or over/in it?

If it’s little, I’ll step over it. If I can’t avoid it, I’ll tiptoe through it. Are there any other options?