SPEAKING SENSIBLY – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Sensible

Speaking sensibly, I should be up and about doing things that need doing. I probably should be organizing the house so I can sell it and maybe move someplace sane … if there is any such place remaining in the world.

My front gate and the Duke

I’m not doing any of that. I’m writing blogs, reading blogs, reading the news and The New Yorker … and taking pictures of birds. Discovering that the gray-blue bird is actually a real Bluebird and the reason I didn’t recognize it is that it doesn’t look like the English Bluebird who decorated all my children’s books … and the blue tends to look gray in bright light.

House Finch

I’m looking at the naked trees and wondering how many weeks before they have leaves and the doors that need replacing. The toilet that needs replacing. The dusting that needs doing. Wondering if I should call the doctor who is supposed to be setting up tests, but doesn’t seem to be doing anything and maybe I don’t care whether the tests are set up or not.

What is that blue bird is in the front? Can’t find anything with a beak that blue!

I’m not worried about the future because why bother? Will worrying about it improve it? I’ll vote. I’ll write. I’ll do the best I can. And if that’s not enough, I don’t have more to give. I’ve been doing the best I can for my whole life and while I was doing it, everything I did was getting ready to crumble into junk. And I wasn’t all that sensible then, either.

I’m not sure I’ve ever been particularly sensible. I do what I need to do to survive and then, I write something, read a book, take some pictures. Life will stagger on regardless.

So I’m through with sensible, whatever it is. I’m too old to be sensible if I knew what that meant. I think I’ll just be crazy to whatever degree I can manage it.

Maybe that is sensible. You think?


Weekly Word Prompt: Spring Fever

I don’t have even a hint of spring fever unless you count a deep yearning to see a flower bloom and have the temperature rise regularly about 60 degrees. But spring isn’t much of a season in New England and every year, we hope we’ll get a “real” spring … and we don’t. It’s something about winds and ocean and rivers and rocks.

Birds not of a feather

Living in New York, which is just 240 miles south of here, we got a real spring. By this time of year, we had magnolias and crab apple blossoms and the daffodils were up and the grass was green. You wouldn’t think a mere 4 or 5-hour drive could make such a difference in climate, but it does.

Two Goldfinch

The closest vision to spring I’ve had is watching the birds change from their winter colors to their breeding colors. The dull greenish-yellow Goldfinch are brilliant yellow and even the brightest birds of winter are brighter now. Otherwise, though, we have some green shoots coming up from the ground, but other than a few crocuses, that’s pretty much it. No leaves, no flowers. No green grass.

A pair of Goldfinch – Two boys this time

We do, however, have ticks. And ants. They know it’s spring, even if the rest of New England still thinks it might yet return to winter. I think we are past that, however. It isn’t warm, but the really deep cold is gone. Now, it’s just muddy and chilly. And, I need to remind myself, by a few weeks from now, summer will show up overnight.

Our spring is usually one afternoon in early May. The next day, it’s 85 degrees. Flowers are blooming like mad and all the trees are in full leaf. Sometimes, this rollover into summer happens in a few hours. We go grocery shopping and by the time we are on our way home, everything is blooming.

I’ve lived up this way for more than 30 years and I’ve never gotten used to the suddenness of the seasons. Autumn was like that too, until recently with climate changing. It would be summer and the next day, it looked like every tree had been lit from within.

For the past few years, we’ve barely had any autumn at all. I’m used to missing spring, but fall has always been my favorite season, especially in New England … and having it disappear is very sad.

Maybe it will come back this year.


“Les Miserables” is coming to Boston. I know this because the advertisement for it is on TV every few minutes. I read the book originally in French, back when I could actually read French and sort of mumble in French if forced.

I never spoke the language well, but I could read surprisingly well. However, I have to admit that “Les Miserables” was very long and frankly, I just didn’t understand why whats-his-face, the detective didn’t just say “screw it” and go back to Paris. Buy a high-quality bottle of red and get bombed.

By the time I was nearing the end of the book I was sick of everybody and even though I don’t drink, I was ready to get bombed too.

Unlike most cop thrillers, no one got shot. No car chases. Okay, no cars, but how about horse and carriage chases? Or even people running fast? Something, please. A little action maybe?

Much less miserable!

So the other day with the advertisement reminding me that I should see the show — I didn’t see the play on Broadway or the movie. The book really did me in. I realized what we needed was an alternative to “Les Miz” titled “Less Miserable.”

It would be a book about thieves who are not all that miserable. They live comfortably in the suburbs of Paris. The real drama (which isn’t in the book, but is occasionally referred to) happens in court. Lawyers duking it out. Meanwhile, everyone adjourns to whatever they call a pub in France. I don’t think they taught us that word.

Much less miserable, don’t you think?

If I could write plays I’d enjoy writing “Less Miserable.” It would be a lot shorter than the original book and the police guy would give up after one long weekend. Why? Because his boss would object to so many overtime hours and tell him to pack it in.

Like real bosses do.


72-Quincy Harbor_036

Rules of criticism:
      1. Brutal honesty is always more brutal than honest. It is never well-meant. There are plenty of ways to be honest that are not brutal.
      2. Honesty lacking kindness is merely spite and malice flying under false colors.
      3. When criticism is given without affection or humor, its aim is not to inform, but to wound.
      4. Be wary of anyone who starts the sentence with “Trust me.” To me, that screams “The guy is a liar.”

Anyone can tell the real intentions of someone who is “only telling the truth for your own good.” Mostly, it’s a lie with a wash of “honest” on it.

Usually, it’s an outright lie. I wish people who have a bone to pick would say so and stop pretending it’s for “my own good.” It’s for their good if any “good” is involved. Personally, I doubt it.

brutal honesty

Some people really can’t handle criticism, no matter how gently given — or even a suggestion there might be a better way to do something. For these people, quit trying. Sometimes, they have good reasons for reacting that way, but you’re in a lose-lose position. Move on. You cannot make the unreasonable see reason.

On the whole, people who constantly criticize other people enjoy it. They should shut up and look in a mirror.

So, to sum this up, are you suggesting I don’t take criticism well? Who do you think you are, anyway? I take criticism fine. You are out of line. I am the soul of restraint and patience and if you don’t agree, I’m going to shout at you until you apologize.


Now I feel better.


Pink Christmas Cactus – FOTD – 04/11/2019

It’s pretty much in full bloom, but despite all logic and reason, the red one is making new buds. These are the most blooming Christmas cacti ever!

Pink cactus flowers