COMMONALITY – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Common

“Common” is a work frequently used with birds, even though sometimes the bird for which they are using it aren’t all that common. Maybe back when they got their names, they were common. It’s used for all kind of animals, actually. And plants.

Only people use it to mean “rabble.”

A very commond squirrel!

“Common squirrel,” for example. Which means whatever kind of squirrel is common in the area in which you happen to live. Red in England and some parts of the U.S. (but it isn’t the same red squirrel). Gray around these parts.

Three common pigeons

A common Mourning Dove

Common pigeon (but some pigeons are more common than others). Common grackles, common Blue Jays, common Robins (but the British Robin is a different bird than American ones, but still common). Common herons except a little different, depending on where you live.

Common Goldfinches

I’m always amused when it’s used in some movies to mean “not royal or royal or upper-class.” All it means is “typical or frequently seen.”

A common Great Blue Heron

We are all typical and thus common. We have the same number of arms, legs, eyes, head, and general body type. Strip away the clothing and we are all common. Take away the castle and put that person in a standard suburban sub-division and they are just as common as everyone else except maybe they talk funny.

Common kids by a common river

Last night we were watching “Proven Innocent” and some “upper upper” lady looked at someone else and said, “Your people are common.” What did she think her people were? Did they have three legs and one eye in the middle of their forehead? THAT would be most uncommon.

Everyone and everything else is common.

BOYS STILL PLAY, AT LEAST IN THE COUNTRY – Marilyn Armstrong

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how we used to go out to play. Without cell phones, with no communication with home. No one got worried or frantic because a kid went missing for a few hours and I wondered if kids in this country really play anymore.

It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day today and we drove down to a branch of the Blackstone that runs through Rhode Island.

We bumped into a squadron of boys. Maybe 11 or 12? They all arrived by bicycle, ditched them along the fences, pulled off their outer clothing and jumped in the river. One of them wanted to fish and was distressed that the “no fishing” sign was up and we got into one of those adult-child conversations wherein I tried to explain that this is when the trout are breeding, so they need to protect them so that next year, there will be full-grown trout.

What is that on my foot?

I think the “cycle of life” explanation doesn’t mean a lot to 12-year old boys. They simply haven’t seen that much of life, especially when they live in the Valley.

I didn’t see a single boy with a telephone. I saw them with bikes, fishing rods, baskets to collect whatever they might find in the river. I watched them grimace as they stepped on something (yuk). Gather together to try and figure out what that thing is.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

They were sure we were professional photographers come especially to take their pictures. I couldn’t figure out why until I realized they never see people with actual cameras. Everyone they know takes pictures with a telephone.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

So, ergo-ipso, we must be professional photographers. After that, it was hard to get them to stop posing. They did want me to make sure to get pictures of them jumping into the river. I did, too. Proving that I haven’t completely lost my reflexes and also proving that this is a very fast camera! Garry got more pictures, from different angles.

Getting in is easier than getting out!

What IS that?

Photo: Garry Armstrong

As one of them got out shaking, I said: “Cold isn’t it!”

He said: “Wow, yeah, cold!”

It was good to see kids just playing. No phones, no electronic anything, although they sure had nicer bicycles than we did! And they had the river and that’s no small thing. No one had to wait for mom to drive them to the beach … or even older, take the subway to a beach in Brooklyn or Queens. The just got on their bikes and went to the river that had the least current and was pretty shallow. Safe enough.

Down by the swimmin’ hole …

I guess the answer is that kids still play, just like they used to, but not in cities or suburbs. Here, in the country, they play. I would have given almost anything to have a river a place where we could swim, even if the bottom was gooey with mud and other unspeakable gunk.

What a joy to be a boy on a late spring afternoon with nothing t do but gather by the river and jump in. Even if the water is really cold.

THE START OF BOATING SEASON – BY ELLIN CURLEY

From New Years on, Tom counts down the days until he can start working on the boat to get it ready to go back in the water. It spends its winters shrink wrapped and up on pilings in the parking lot of the marina, squashed together with all the other beached boats.

The first thing we have to do each spring is getting off the shrink-wrap. This involves lots of cutting and rolling of the large sheets of plastic protecting the boat from the winter elements. This usually takes one day, which is not too bad. But it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Then comes the cleaning, which is a big production. The bottom has to be painted and the hull has to be waxed and buffed. On a 40-foot boat, that’s a lot of waxing and buffing!

It also has to be over 55 degrees and dry for Tom to be able to do this kind of work and this year the weather has not been cooperating.

We had a few warmer days and he got a lot done, but then it either rained or was too cold for over a week. Tom’s brother came down to help him work on the boat, but they only got one good day out of four. This time of year the weather is always erratic, but it seems to be getting more schizophrenic each year.

Big pile of cut plastic rolled up next to the boat

The fiberglass and the metal railings on the inside of the boat also have to be cleaned and Tom likes to get this done while the boat is out of the water. That’s because once the boat is in the water, Tom gets lazy and just wants to relax and enjoy it.

My job is the interior cabins on the boat. While it’s still out of the water, I do the annual thorough cleaning. Everything is covered in black soot and dirt and is disgusting. I throw away a garbage bag full of black paper towels. But I persevere and clean every inch of the boat, including the two toilets, the bathroom floors (by hand) and the shower. This is my least favorite day of the year.

The deck inside the shrink wrapping

Once I’ve cleaned the inside, I take home all the sheets and towels, wash them, bring them back to the boat and make the bed and put the clean towels out.

My pile of laundry for the boat.

Then I have to stock the kitchen. I have to wait until the boat is in the water because the only way onto the boat in the parking lot is by ladder and I don’t want to carry heavy grocery bags up a shaky ladder. Stocking the kitchen is like stocking a house – I have to buy every necessary item in my kitchen, starting from scratch.

I need basics like coffee and tea, salt, pepper and sugar, herbs and spices, condiments like ketchup, mustard, mayo, barbecue sauce, and salad dressings, and items to cook with like butter, oil, vinegar, chicken stock, onions, tomato sauce, etc. Then there’s snack food and company food because people are always stopping by for a drink on the dock. So I need cheese and crackers, chips and dips as well as cookies and other sweets.

The other trick in shopping for a boat, is I have to try and find the smallest versions of everything so I can fit it all in my small kitchen.

When the kitchen is stocked, my last job is to clean the deck and the flybridge. That has to be done last because Tom keeps all of his cleaning items strewn all over these areas. It looks like a bomb went off at West Marine. Once he finishes his cleaning and puts everything away, I get to do the final job.

That’s when the boating season officially begins for us.

Anchors Away!

SMILING WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Photo Challenge: Give us a Smile

Smiling pictures? I’d like to say it’s a specialty, but to be fair, birds, dogs, and squirrels aren’t big smilers. Since they constitute the majority of my pictures, I have to resort to (gasp!) pictures of people. In this case, my husband Garry — who smiles only slightly more often than the dogs.

Actually, Duke is a pretty good smiler — for a dog!

We thought the Sox were going to play a bit better, but they are perking up. So let’s smile!

Doctor and patient smiling. Hint: the doctor is wearing white.

Duke makes him laugh. Eventually.

Garry and Harvey Leonard, with a smile!