A LADDER ON THE DECK – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Chutes and Ladders

Someone left the ladder on our deck, probably whoever last looked at my chimney. This made taking the pictures today a lot easier than usual. Just a quick step onto the back deck, startling a few birds and scaring a squirrel back into the trees. You can tell it was a squirrel because the feeder is swinging wildly side to side.

Snap, snap, snap. Ladder shot!

A short ladder
Our ladder

SHRIMP SKIMP – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Skimp

“What is this?” she asked him as he portioned out dinner on the plates.

“Hot and sour Chinese fried shrimp,” he said proudly.

“I sense the Chinese part, although as hot and sour goes, it’s not really that,” she commented, “But where is the shrimp? And for that matter, are we out of hot sauce too?”

“We were a bit short on shrimp. I couldn’t work out the sour part, so I just made do with what we had. Since I skimped on the shrimp, I added extra vegetables.”

“I haven’t found a single shrimp yet.”

“Maybe I skimped a bit too much,” he admitted and went fishing in the pan. “Here’s one,” he announced proudly. “Wait a minute, I think I see another one in there. No, that’s a water chestnut. There’s got to be another one in here somewhere…” as he trailed off.

“Listen. You can cook anything any way you like,  but if you don’t have the ingredients, maybe try a different dish?”

“Okay. We’re having hot and sour fried mystery shrimp with Chinese vegetables. Is that better?”

“It isn’t hot. It isn’t sour. And you didn’t fry anything,” she pointed out, using her well-worn chopsticks as she plowed through dinner. “It tastes okay, but you need a new recipe name. It is shrimpless. Fundamentally, it’s missing all the key ingredients. It tastes okay, but… Well, I’m not sure what it is, exactly. Pass the hot sauce. Maybe use chicken next time? You won’t have to skimp quite as much.”

FLOWERS AND GETTING LOST – Marilyn Armstrong

Flowers, but lost – FOTD – May 9, 2019

It was a gorgeous, perfect spring day today. Warm and full of bright sunshine. As we left the house this morning (it’s a 2-hour drive into Boston), I noticed that we had squirrels glued to both feeders in the back.

I would normally have gone back to the deck and chatted with the furry feeders, but I was wearing my good clothing.

And there was no time for one of those me versus squirrel conversations.

Pink tulips

I should mention these are pretty much one-way conversation. I talk. The squirrels give me the squirrel eyeball, so I talk some more, and they go back to eating. Eventually, I will open the door, step onto the deck, and stare at them. They then move a little bit — from the feeders to the railing. And stare back at me.

I can hear them thinking “And what are you gonna do about it, huh?”

Magnolias and new leaves along the Mumford River

I quite like squirrels, but I feel that by the time we are approaching midday, they should go back to being tree squirrels and stop being deck squirrels. Is that too much to ask?

We had to leave. It was going to be a long drive and traffic in and out of Boston is heavy. We were 100% sure to get lost, even though the directions appeared to be simple. There’s construction on 146, too. Of course, there has been construction on 146 for the past 19 years, but there’s more now that it has warmed up.

Snowballs along with the steps in the park

It took us almost 2 hours to get there — and we got totally lost in Boston. So did everyone else. As a result, the memorial began an hour late and ended even later. So it was a really long day.

Since we bought our GPS (maybe 2 years ago?), they’ve redesigned almost all the major roads in Boston and completely rebuilt the seaport area. The last time I was there, it was mostly vacant lots and empty warehouses and a few party cruise ships. So our GPS can’t find anything. Moreover, the directions which we got from the hotel (via Google) said to get off Route 93 at Exit 20, then follow the signs to the Seaport Cruise Terminal.

Snowballs and a wooden bench

Except there were NO signs. We wound up at the airport. We did a couple of loops at Logan, including a round trip through the “Return your rental car here,” except we were in our own car and we couldn’t find anyone who knew how to find the Seaport Hotel.

Massachusetts is infamous for NOT putting up signs. I don’t know whether we are just too cheap to pay for signs, or we assume if you don’t know where you are, you shouldn’t be there.

The park at the Mumford Dam

It turned out that not only did we get lost, everyone got lost. Since this is a big expensive hotel — and NOT brand new, either — the complete lack of signs was infuriating. We almost gave up and went home and might have, but we didn’t know how to get home, either.

Finally, we were stopped by a police detective. He had a gold badge but was in street clothing, so we assumed he was a detective. He pulled us over. Garry rolled down his window. Were we going to get a ticket too? Are the fates so against us?

“Are you guys lost?” he asked. Were we that obvious?

“YES,” we cried in unison. “We are SO lost.”

Flowers and the falls

He led us to the hotel and he recognized Garry — and knew we were going to the “Tom Ellis Memorial.” I was never more grateful to see a police officer.

We knew we had to be near it. We were at the docks, so how far could we be from the Seaport Hotel? It turned out to be about a mile. Make a right, take the Ted Williams Tunnel and when you can’t go any further, make another right.

Azaleas along the path

It was good to be there, though. Many people, including Garry, shared memories and since we are all — how shall I put this — an older group of folk?

We got to do a little crying, shared some laughter about stuff no one else remembers. We saw people we rarely see except at reunions and funerals. Remember when we used to meet at weddings? It was good to hug friends, notice that although everyone looks older, I look even older than they do.

We left Boston exactly at rush hour. Three and a half hours for the homeward journey. I spent a lot of time admiring trees.

Please enjoy the photographs. They are from Tuesday which was every bit as beautiful as today, but we were outside with cameras.

DISHES AS DECOR, PART 2 – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I love to use all kinds of dishes and serving pieces as part of the decor in my home. I find it’s an inexpensive way to fill the walls and the shelves all over the house.

In Part 1, I showed you the kitchen area, where you would be most likely to find dishes as part of the decor. Now we’re moving into my family room, my dining room, and my foyer, where I also use decorative plates and other dishes, such as candy dishes.

These plates are in the wall cabinet in my dining room. I use the other dishes from these sets when I have company.
One of my favorite mid-century candy dishes used in the hanging shelves in the dining room
These two mid-century candy dishes are in the large, decorative bookcase in the family room
Red and blue mid-century candy dishes accent my artwork in the family room
This Crate and Barrel platter works beautifully with my art deco decanter and a modern glass box in my foyer. They sit on a 1906 stove with a glass top over the burners.

THE RETURN OF BELL BOTTOMS – Marilyn Armstrong

When I look back at what I miss from my old days, mostly, I miss the pants. The wide bell bottoms were the most flattering jeans I ever wore. They made my legs look longer and my hips narrower.

From 1969 and for the next few years, fashion and I were simpatico.

It was the hippest of times and I was happy. I was young. I wore bell bottoms. Patchwork jeans were my favorites, although at the end of the day I looked like I’d been sitting on a waffle iron.

My shirts had purple fringes.

96-BabyOandMe-HPI wore granny glasses with rose-tinted lenses. My hair was cut in a shag. I had my baby in a sling on my hip, a Leica on my shoulder and a song in my heart (probably the Beatles). That was a good as it got for me.

I miss that clothing, the bell bottoms, the fringes. I really miss my old Leica. Mostly, I want my bell bottoms back!