WE ARE FINITE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Finite

Back when I was actively learning to ride and then riding as often as I could cough up the money, I also fell off horses. I don’t mean I was bucked off. No, it was the more embarrassing thing. Trying to jump a little tree limb on the path, I was positioned wrong and just fell off. Once, I fell off because a couple of German Shepherds came out of a backyard and did a lot of loud barking and the horse kicked back at them. I slid half off, then hit a tree … and I was down.

Three bright birds

I remembered the most important thing for a falling rider: hang onto the reins. If you let go, the horse will go home to his or her barn, leaving you on the trail. You may not even know the way back because it wasn’t uncommon to send people out on the trail alone and when you said: “How do I know where I’m going?” you were told: “The horse knows.”


I was never entirely happy with that answer. Horses love their stables. That’s where the food and the water trough are located. Mostly, they didn’t want to leave it in the first place, so if there’s a shortcut, they will use it. Several times, I had a horse go a couple of hundred feet, make a u-turn and trot joyfully back to the stable.

The horse knew the way. It merely wasn’t the way I wanted to go.

In the course of falling off horses while hanging onto the reins (or if that didn’t work, the stirrup), I damaged the ligaments in my right shoulder. I was young and it only bothered me when the arm was fully extended and the elbow was locked straight, so I figured, “One of these days, I’ll have it repaired.”

It was a simple repair. Other — more urgent — stuff came up through the years. My spine (falling off horses didn’t do my back much good, either) and a growth on my right leg that required a replacement of a big piece of bone and six months on crutches. I became a really good hopper. At 15, hopping was faster than crutches. My mother said I was ruining the carpeting.

Then there was a ruptured ovary from an ignored ovarian cyst … and the next thing I knew, I graduated college and I was having a baby. Then, there was work.

So for all these years, I have had a bad right shoulder. It didn’t get worse over time, but it didn’t get better either.

In November, I bought bird feeders and not long after that, I got a great long lens to take pictures of the birds. All of which has involved holding still with the heavy camera supported mainly by my right arm and trying to stay focused on one small area — the one where I’m sure the birds will show up.

A few weeks ago, that shoulder started to really hurt. Not while I was shooting, but at night when I was trying to sleep. I got a cortisone shot in that shoulder which helped calm it down, but I still have to prop it up on a pillow or the weight of my arm pulls on that old, damaged ligament.

I went to a bone and joint doctor and asked if I could get it fixed. He agreed it needed fixing but as to actually fixing it?


I double and triple checked his opinion and the answer didn’t change. It turns out there really is a finite amount of time during which you can fix broken pieces of yourself. In my case, that ligament had lost its elasticity and of course, arthritis had invaded the joint, so no one wanted to mess with it.

Add to that the number of major surgeries I’ve already had and no doctor wants to mess with me unless it’s a matter of life or death.

The shoulder was damaged while I was in my late teens, so I have had sufficient time to get it fixed. There have been too many other medical emergencies, so it never seemed critical. Now, using a heavier camera and a pretty big lens, that shoulder and I are having a rough time. My right arm really hurts. I have spent the week not taking pictures because my shoulder needs to rest. It’s frustrating and there’s nothing I can do about it … except give it a rest.

About 15 years ago, Garry had his shoulder fixed. Tommy John surgery for you baseball fans and for everyone else, tendons, rotator cuff, ligaments et al. It was a big surgery. His pitching arm went all to hell and I don’t see another Major League Baseball contract in the future. Meanwhile, his other shoulder has punked out too, but no one is willing to fix it. He’s at an age where soft connective tissues don’t heal well. Predictions for the outcome of the surgery aren’t great.

Pieces of us are finite. There’s a limit to how long you can wait to fix something and if you wait too long, oops. I was surprised. I always figured I’d deal with that shoulder “one of these days.”

I ran out of days.

Finite. Not infinity.

WHO ARE “THEY”? – Marilyn Armstrong

A couple of days ago, I commented, “They say that Boston now has America’s worst traffic.” Personally, I bet New York is much worse, no matter what “they” say.

That got me to thinking about who “they” are?

Is there a special group dedicated to calculating how bad traffic is in every city in the U.S.? How often do they check? Do they check all the inbound road as well as the in-town roads? Do they check every city in every state? What about people who tell us about our manners. Like, “They say it’s okay to not change hands and only American eat that anyway.”

Who are they?

Weddings. “They” say you don’t really need a veil, just the ‘idea’ of a veil. WHO ARE THEY?

They say more American are Democrats than Republicans. If that’s true, how did we elect you-know-who?

Whoever they are, they have a lot to say.

I think when “they” get quoted, we should establish who they are. Are they an official government group? Just a bunch of people who got together and decided to write a blog or a tweet? A bunch of college kids? Or maybe — third graders?


I say let us put man and a woman together
To find out which one is smarter.
Some say man but I say no.
The woman got the man de day should know.

And not me but the people they say
That de man are leading de women astray
But I say, that the women of today
Smarter than the man in every way

That’s right de woman is, uh, smarter
That’s right de woman is, uh, smarter
That’s right de woman is, uh, smarter, that’s right, that’s right!

Ever since the world began
Woman was always teaching man.
And I tell you, listen to my bid attentively
I goin’ tell you how she smarter than me.

Samson was the strongest man long ago
No one could beat him, as we all know
Until he clash with Deliah on top of the bed
She told them all the strength was in the hair of his head.

You meet a girl at a pretty dance
Thinking that you would stand a chance.
Take her home, thinking she’s alone
Open de door you find her husband home.

I was treating a girl independently
She was making baby for me
When de baby born and I went to see
Eyes was blue — it was not by me.

Garden of Eden was very nice
Adam never work in Paradise.
Eve meet snake, Paradise gone
She make Adam work from that day on.

Methuselah spent all his life in tears
Lived without a woman for 900 years.
One day he decided to have some fun
The poor man never lived to see 900 and one.

Songwriters: Norman Span
Act II “In the Caribbean.” Man Smart (Woman Smarter) lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Next Decade Entertainment, Inc


Who Sang It Better? by Rich Paschall

Mornin’ girl, how’d ya sleep last night?
You’re sev’ral ages older now

Oh, no, things are different now than they were before
You know love is more than kisses

The Neon Philharmonic – 1969

The Lettermen – 1971

Morning girl, where you been so long?
Your lips have got some color now
A little too much color now
Your clothes have gone from nylon to lace, somehow

Shaun Cassidy – 1976

It was a one hit wonder for The Neon Philharmonic in 1969.  They achieved the big sound by using musicians from the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.  The lead singer was Don Gant. It only made number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.  It did somewhat better in Canada.

Although credited to the Lettermen, you are only hearing one of their singers in the 1971 cover. Jim Pike sang with the group from 1959 to 1974 and does the honors here. The Lettermen were quite successful covering the songs of others.

The Shaun Cassidy cover is his first single. It may seem strange that the teen heart-throb of the 70’s is singing different lyrics than the others. That is because he is actually singing a follow-up song from The Neon Philharmonic entitled “Morning Girl, Later.” It had the exact same melody and was meant to take the story, if you could even say there was one, a little further along.  Perhaps it was felt the lyrics were a little better for the young Cassidy than the other one. He was still in high school.


I was surprised when I realized the cactus was going to bloom again. It only stopped blooming a month ago, but apparently, this wasn’t so much a new bloom as the end of the intermission following the first blooming.

I’m sorry I didn’t write anything more today. It was another doctor day followed by a grocery shopping day. I haven’t been out much, so I met all the people I haven’t seen in a while — quite a while — and we all had to talk and then a few more people showed up, so we needed more. Turns out we were blocking the aisle, so we had to break up the party.

It got downright riotous in the old grocery store this afternoon.

When I came home, my lift chair was refusing to work and I realized I’m going to have to get the manufacturer to send someone and have it set up properly. Owen did the best he could with it, but it needs the pros.

I was also thrilled to see that my blood pressure was down by 20 points up and down today, though I think it’s because the nurse in my PCP’s office knows how to take a manual blood pressure measurement.

Two cactus buds
Big bud – will bloom first?
Lots of buds and more to come
Almost ready
Early morning — almost ready!
Lunchtime – First bloom!