PERMANENTLY RETRO – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Retro

At some point in time, should you live long enough, your entire life enters the retro stage. You stop trying to like “new” music and enjoy listening to old music that’s just been re-released and re-mastered for your — and your grandchildren’s — listening pleasure.

The movies you loved as a child — the ones that had plots, stories, and people who could act — and weren’t designed by computer — are still better than new ones. Funny movies from the remain funny. I can’t figure out most of the “funny” movies that are being currently promoted.

It isn’t the plots because they don’t have plots. Mostly, they just are not funny. They are often stupid and tasteless. Is that what we now call funny?

Late night TV hosts are funny, in a dark kind of way. Standup is funny. But movies? It’s like the Three Stooges, but without a plot. (You mean there was a plot for the Stooges?)

Silver Dollar Survey

Clothing has come a long way and closely resembles the stuff I wore in college, so that’s not a problem. And anyway, I don’t go many places that require “dress” clothing and since I also can’t wear dress shoes, if the event doesn’t let me wear pants, I’m not going.

In the TV and book world, mysteries stopped being mysterious and thrillers are utterly predictable. We can actually say the dialog before we hear it … and guess from the list of players “who done it.”

At least there’s variety in retro. Mind you, most movies ever made were pretty bad. For every “great” movie the studios turned out, they churned out three dozen others no one wants to remember.

I think I’m in permanent retro mode.

THE DAY WE WON IT ALL … WELL, NOT EXACTLY – Marilyn Armstrong

THE FISCAL DREAM

I just won $1,000,000,000 — that’s one billion dollars — from the lottery. It is a bit mystifying since I don’t remember buying the ticket, but I’m not going to argue the point.  

What’s next?


So there we were watching the news. Trump. Mueller. Some moron fell into the Grand Canyon trying to take a selfie. And then there’s this guy who just won the Lottery. Again. He won $10 million ten years ago and he just won ANOTHER million yesterday.

You don’t believe in luck? Really? AND he bought each ticket in a different location. I want some of his ‘not luck’ because whatever it is, I want a piece.

Winning the lottery is a major fantasy here on the Kachingerosa. I don’t know about you, but I can lull myself into a pleasant sleep imagining what I’d do if a huge amount of money — so much that I don’t even have to count how much I’m spending — were to come my way.

The only time I inherited money was when my father died. It turned out to be exactly enough to fix our dying septic system — and a new camera. It had to have been just about nine years ago because that’s when I had cancer.

The money and cancer arrived simultaneously. Everything has a price, it would seem.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

It was the defining moment of my unfortunate relationship with my father. He was much too dead for me to thank him, but it was the single nicest thing he ever did for me. No longer being alive, he could not, this once, ruin it with a lot of snarky not-funny jokes at my expense.

Home

After the executors finally coughed up a check, we had the septic system repaired. This meant we wouldn’t have to abandon the house and live in the car. We should have had the well done at the same time, but who knew it was going to pack it in? Anyway, it wasn’t enough money.

falling-money

With no windfall or backup money, we’ve been paying things off.

But with a billion dollars … well, that would turn the tide. I could pay everything off, knock this house down and build a new one suitable for we aging folks.

A flat house. No stairs. Insulated windows. New heating and cooling systems built in. New bathrooms with great showers.

Two new cars. The non-winter vehicle will be something entertaining and sporty. When bad weather comes, our little sports coupé goes into the garage. The second car will be our winter truck, an all-wheeler that can plow through snow drifts and laugh.

Oh and an extra-large garage. Enough room for the cars we use and at least one we might want to use. Sometimes. AND room for the other “stuff” like snowblowers and lawnmowers and rakes and brooms and weed-whackers. A powerful generator so we can stop being terrified of wind and snowstorms.

Huge closets. Huge. Someone to come in and clean — and a cook!

How about a garden tractor? We’ll have a guy tend the gardens, clear away the leaves in the autumn. Run heavy errands which involve hauling and lifting — groceries for example.

We won’t forget our friends and family. We’ll make sure everyone we care about has what they need. Maybe we’ll have a compound so we can live in close proximity. Visit without driving long distances.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Beyond this? Security for whatever years we have.

Life won’t have to be so hard. We can grow old and enjoy ourselves without wondering what weird laws the government will pass or which strange new rules will make it impossible to get medication. It won’t buy us more time on earth — money doesn’t matter when your number is up — but it could make the time we’ve got more fun.

More fun for us and for our friends and family. Maybe for you, too.

THE BIGGEST LIE ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE – SCIENCE IS REAL

You should watch this. And don’t buy anything from ExxonMobil. Isn’t it great how giant corporations have done and continue to destroy OUR world so they can make an even bigger profit? They already have more money than anyone could possibly spend, but they want it all and the way things are going, they will get it all. And we will be left with the burnt out shell of our green planet earth.


 

ScienceSwitch

We were all lied to about climate change.

Via – AsapSCIENCE

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THE SUMMER OF ’69 – Rich Paschall

The Golden Anniversary, by Rich Paschall

There is no doubt in my cluttered mind that 1969 was the most memorable year of my life. None. Of all of the events that have happened through the years, I can not say that any other years stands out like this one.

When you are a Senior in high school and people tell you to enjoy it because these late high school, early college (if you go to college) years are the best years of your life, it is hard for you to believe.

Surely better times will come along, you think. You cling to that belief for many years. Then you realize something.

The years around your high school graduation may, in fact, have been the best years of your life. They are the touchstone. They are the yardstick by which all future events are measured. They contain the moments you treasure, and they are locked away in your memory vault for all time. They are the springboard that launched you into adulthood.

My first high school closed and I went to another for one year. Our class play is the extracurricular activity that introduced me to many of my classmates. Most seniors joined the spring musical which was South Pacific. It was a great experience as a large cast worked together at a common goal. It turned out well.

I’m in this group, just left of center.

Meanwhile, a series of astounding events filled the spring and summer of ’69. In April the convicted assassin of Senator Robert Kennedy, Sirhan Sirhan, was sentenced to the death penalty in California, but the state would eliminate the death penalty and he would never be executed. He is still incarcerated and is now 75 years old.

In May Apollo 10 took off for the moon. It was just a dress rehearsal for Apollo 11. On July 20th the world watched in wonder as Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon. President Kennedy had promised the nation in May of 1961 we could accomplish this by the end of the 1960s, although he did not live to see it himself.

A technician works atop the white room, through which the astronauts will enter the spacecraft, while other technicians look on from the launch tower at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 11, 1969. (NASA)

Also in May, The Who introduced their”rock opera,” Tommy. It was an album of rock songs that told the story of that “deaf, dumb. and blind kid” who “plays a mean pinball.” The “Pinball Wizard” may not have been the first rock opera, but it was the first album to call itself that. Others have followed to varying degrees of success.

The Beatles were still hitting the top of the charts. In May “Get Back” would reach number one. The song would later turn up on the “Let It Be” album. Who knew we were nearing the end of an era that in many ways never ended? In September The Beatles released Abbey Road.

Abbey Road

In ’69 I went to the movies a little more often than I do now. Midnight Cowboy came out in May and I recall seeing it in the theater. It was likely then that I first took notice of the Harry Nilsson song, “Everybody’s Talkin’.” It became a favorite. After the movie came out, the song received a lot of radio play.

In June the Stonewall riots took place outside a Greenwich Village, New York City gay bar. A confrontation between police and activists turned ugly over a few days period. Many say it led to the modern gay rights movements. The following year the first gay pride parades were held in several cities, including Chicago. I can not say that I was aware of any of this at the time. However, Stonewall marked an important moment in LGBT history in this country.

On two days in August, The Charles Manson “Family” killed 8 people in murders that would shock the nation. The gruesome details that came out over time were almost too horrifying to be believed. Manson was sentenced to death for his role in the killings, but, like Sirhan Sirhan, his sentence was changed to life in prison when California did away with the death penalty. Manson died in prison in 2017 at the age of 83.

By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration

In August it may not have been a half million people who went down to Max Yasgur’s dairy farm 43 miles from Woodstock, New York, but the crowd was certainly in the hundreds of thousands for the “3 days of peace and music.” Perhaps a half million said they were there. Over the festival, 32 acts performed, sometimes in the rain, while organizers proved rather unprepared for the massive event.

I can not say I knew much about Woodstock in 1969. The film, the music and the many videos that have turned up taught us about the event. It meant little to some of us back home in the Midwest at the time it was happening. The 1970 documentary of the festival won an Academy Award. Joni Mitchell wrote a popular song that was a big hit for Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young who played at the festival. Mitchell had turned it down.

The big news in Chicago that summer for baseball fans was the miracle collapse of the Chicago Cubs. On August 14th the Mets were nine games behind the Cubs in the standings and it looked like the long pennant drought for the northsiders was about to end. Then September happened. The Cubs lost 17 of 25 and the Mets got hot. They went on to win the World Series and the Cubs did not make it to the Fall Classic until 2016.

Sources include 1969: An eventful summer, http://www.cnn.com August 9, 2009.

See also: This Magic Moment, The Golden Age Of Rock Turns 50, 1969, SERENDIPITY, teepee12.com, 2/1/2019.
Good Old Rock ‘N Roll, One Hit Wonders of 1969, SERENDIPITY, teepee12.com, 3/10/2019.

AN ULTIMATE FINAL DAY OF BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong

My ultimate spiky square- BIRDS AGAIN

I’ll have to remember to stop trying to make all my pictures square, that other shapes are okay now!

Spikes and pokes, sharp and pointy, we’re nearing the end. I started with birds and squirrels.

Tomorrow, I’ll return but not necessarily in squares with my pink Christmas Cactus. It is just about to bloom!

A small and rather petite Blue Jay

Squabbling Juncos

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse

Two finches and a chickadee (and the tail of something else!)

Red-bellied Woodpecker

NO FEATHERED KITES IN NEW ENGLAND – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Saturday: KITE

All the Eastern coast kits live down south, from Mississippi through Florida and out towards Louisiana. It’s not that we lack for hawks around here. We have both Golden (relatively rare as they prefer mountains to valleys, but sometimes you can spot them high above you, especially if are in the White Mountains in Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, or Canada.

No hawks, safe to feed!

We see a lot of American Eagles, especially along the Merrimack — a much wider, slower-flowing river with lots of big fish and pollution to make me wonder if people really eat those fish. Nonetheless, many people nearby have boats and fish the waters of the Merrimack.

Red and yellow finches

American Eagles are lazy. Rather than do their own fishing, they station themselves in trees along the river, waiting for someone to catch their dinner. Then they drop out of the sky, grab the fish and fly off. I’m sure they are mentally grinning. Note: Beaks don’t smile.

Nuthatch on the tree

Very few people have enough character to fight off an eagle’s talons for a fish. Even a really big fish. American Eagles are not the biggest of eagles. I think the Golden is at least twice its size and there are some eagles in Africa and Asia that are also huge. Still, the talons on our Bald Eagle are no laughing matter.

Cooper’s Hawk – The white chest is a major giveaway for birders

I wouldn’t mess with them. I’ve been gored by a Cockatoo who wasn’t nearly as big as even a very small eagle and I nearly lost my thumb.

Birds have a lot of power in a lightweight body.

It’s rather like arguing with a bear over a basket of berries you are carrying across the moor. You can get more berries. You can buy them in the grocery store. Meanwhile, the bear doesn’t need a credit card and like the eagle, he’s glad enough you did the berry picking. He can as take your arm AND the berries for a healthy, balanced dinner.

To put it another way, “Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em. Know when to walk away. Know when to run.”

Don’t run from the bear. Politely put down the basket and quietly stroll off. Don’t whistle. That might irritate him and an irritated bear is … well … an irritated bear. Even a small bear is a lot bigger than you are, so be nice, quiet, and go home. Light incense. Consider not scouring the fields for wild berries.

Cooper’s Hawk. Accipiter Cooperii. Jones Beach State Park, Nassau Co. NY.
Juvenile Cooper’s hawk in close flight during autumn migration.

The closest we have to a kite here is the Cooper’s Hawk and its close relative, the Sharp-shinned Hawk. Both of these small hawks used it live largely far from humans.

Until the arrival of bird feeders. Since both of these hawks are bird hunters and considered remarkable fliers when they discover a feeder and do their famous flap-flap-glide through forest and bushes — there are those who believe these hawks could thread a needle by flying through its eye — the scare the feathers from the birds.

Comparing Cooper’s Hawk and Sharp-shinned Hawk

For reasons best known to the Mourning Doves, they least terrified of these small hawks (listed as “kite-like” in my “Peterson’s” guide). Doves are not the smartest birds in the coop.

Regardless, a single passing swoop by one of the two bird-hunting hawks, and the birds are gone. They don’t just disappear for a few hours. They are gone for days and if the Hawks are active, as long as five or six days.

Which is what the Cornell Institute and Audubon Society both suggest you do if you find that the Hawks have become a problem. Which is to say you have actually seen them more than once. They are not easy to see, either. They are exceptionally skillful fliers. The diver between trees and hedges and in fact, when they miss, they are frequently crushed because they hit a tree chest first. I guess seatbelts would not help all that much.

Cooper’s Hawk

It’s not that we don’t believe every creature deserves its dinner, but most of us don’t want to be setting the table for this particularly gastronomic feast. We invited the birds to come and chow down, so when it’s obvious that we’ve set them up as someone else’s main course, it takes a lot of the joy out of the party.

We also don’t fly paper kites around here. The trees, abounding as they do with bird life and trillions of insects, have their own killer instinct and will happily eat your kite.

The last time I flew a big kite, it was down on Cape Cod. The wind caught it and over the waves, it flew. Eventually, I ran out of string. I had a couple of thousand feet of thousand-pound nylon cord, so it was far away. Way beyond the breakers and invisible.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

There was no way I could bring it home. The outbound wind was strong and had taken it way out to sea. We could not see it. I cut the string and let it fly.

I wonder if anyone found it and pondered where it had started? In case it was you, it was on a nearly deserted beach in November on Cape Cod.

SOMETHING TO GO WITH YOUR COFFEE? – Marilyn Armstrong

Doughnuts are not good for me. Or you. We know that. No matter how you slice and dice it, those yummy fresh-from-the-oven treats are nothing but fat, carbohydrates, and sugar, probably with a dollop of artificial flavoring. But gee golly whiz, there’s nothing like a couple of warm crullers and a freshly brewed cuppa joe on a frosty morning. Or, if you’re me, any morning.

75-downtown-21

I love my morning coffee. Much as I complain about the problems of getting old and being poor, retirement has a few perks. The biggest and most obvious is not having to go to work, not having to put up with the idiocies of bosses who know less about the job than the newest intern and base their impossible demands on a spreadsheet.

The other big perk is time. You don’t have to gulp your coffee in the car on the way to the office. Or drink horrible machine coffee in the office. You can brew your own, sit in a comfortable chair with the morning paper, a book, laptop or tablet and savor the experience.

Doughnuts are an extension of this top of the morning experience. As tasty as ever, you can enjoy them with your own or boughten coffee. Locally, the coffee and donuts emporium of choice has always been Dunkin Donuts. Unlike Starbucks whose “dark roasted beans” is a code for “burned coffee,” and whose donuts are clearly not fresh, Dunkin Donuts coffee is mm-mm good and the doughnuts are just out of the oven — at least until 3 in the afternoon.

A couple of times over the past year, in a fit of gustatory nostalgia, Garry picked up a small box of donuts from Dunkin’s to ramp up the quality of our morning coffee experience.

The first time I could barely contain my excitement. As I reached for a second forbidden but delicious doughnut, I discovered it was guarded by a militant-looking cockroach of considerable heft. One of the big ones who is obviously daring you to “bring it on.”

I took the whole box of donuts, roach and all, and dumped them in the trash. As far as I know, we don’t have roaches here. We have ants in season (like now, for example). Mosquitoes the size of sparrows and hungrier than sharks. Slugs and beetles of all kinds in the gardens and who knows what in the woods … but no cockroaches. So I fondly hoped this was an aberration. Surely our local Dunkin Donuts was not packaging cockroaches with the doughnuts? Tell me it ain’t so!

 

When Garry asked what happened to the donuts, I made some lame excuse like having knocked them off the counter and the dogs getting to them. Garry is a brave man, but he has two phobias: snakes and cockroaches. Both knock the Semper Fi right out of him. I chose to spare him the trauma.

Operating under the optimistic assumption that Dunkin Donuts wouldn’t, couldn’t, shouldn’t include cockroaches with their mouth-watering confections, I encouraged him to pick up a second batch a few weeks later.

I ate a couple of doughnuts. Garry ate a couple of doughnuts. And standing in the box guarding the remaining Boston Creme and Honey Raised, was General Cockroach. I think he had an anti-aircraft weapon strapped to his carapace.

I carried the box and its occupant to the trash. This time, though, I told Garry. He needed to know lest he spontaneously purchases a box of fresh donuts on his way home.

After Garry stopped shivering and muttering “I hate those things,” we agreed we’d take a pass on future purchases from our local emporium. There are plenty of other doughnut shops in town.  In fact, the only shops of which our town has more than enough are hairdressers and doughnut shops.

For some reason, we’ve lost our taste for doughnuts. I don’t think either of us has eaten one since.

Odd, isn’t it?