Take your mind off current events and roam into the medieval world. England from The Battle of Hastings onward.

As several of my blogging friends are aware, I’m currently up to my ears in revision for my impending OU Latin exam in a couple of weeks’ time. However, after hours of work yesterday, I was in desperate need of a medieval break, so I escaped to a place I’ve only been to a couple of times before. And it was a good choice, because although little remains of its medieval stone structures, Berkhamsted Castle is a hugely important site, not just for its string of famous owners, but because it witnessed first-hand the single biggest change in England’s history.

Me relaxing on wall.JPGTaking time out from the hard work to relax on the castle walls

There has been a castle here since the late 11th Century, but our story begins before it was even built; in fact we have to travel back to Hastings in 1066 and the aftermath of the iconic…

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SEEING DOUBLE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Double

Among the final tests they did on me — after the fancy arterial testing, mental testing and a lot of stuff I barely remember, they ran an eye test. You know: holding up the card and asking you to read the letters? It turned out I saw it twice with my left eye, but only once with my right one.

“AHA,” they cried. “By George, I think we’ve got it!”

They peered into my eyes, but couldn’t see anything in the left one. It was murky.

“CATARACTS!” they exclaimed, looking and sounding relieved. By then, we were ALL relieved. The seizures weren’t seizures — they were narcolepsy which is in my records, but no one ever looks at your records. They do everything except check to see if you have by some odd chance another condition which could account for the current problem. Why do they bother to keep records since no one reads them anyway?

Remarkably, it is exactly like the folks in customer service who never look to see if someone left notes in your records. It’s probably part of the onrushing of stupid that makes the world such a dandy place for all of us.

Suddenly, all was (sorry for the pun) made clear. Double and/or fuzzy, depending on which way you looked at it, or more to the point, depending on which angle I am looking at it.

I only have double vision peripherally and only on the left. Looking straight ahead, it’s a single image but fuzzy. The left side of my right eye is also murky. Who said everything has to grow evenly?

Just for a statistical explanation for you number-minded folks, at age 75, you either have cataracts or have had cataract surgery. They expect to do more than 30 million such surgeries this coming year — worldwide (only about 3 million in the U.S.). There might be more because cataracts are inevitable. There would be even more except for poor countries which don’t have the facilities or doctors to perform the surgery.

Someone at some institute is working on eye-drops that will make cataracts disappear, but it hasn’t happened yet. This would be great because it might be a way for all the people worldwide who don’t have facilities for eye surgery to have their cataracts corrected. But drops would mean you won’t get those corrective lenses that give you perfect vision (for a few years, anyway). You probably haven’t seen that well since you were a toddler. I really want that perfect vision.

Warning: You will absolutely need reading glasses! But the good news? You can get the cheap ones from Target or Walmart.

What a great idea, to be able to open my eyes in the morning and see clearly! Without fumbling for my glasses. Totally cool!

So. This old lady has cataracts. How utterly normal.

Note for photographers of a certain age

If you are a photographer, one of the signs of cataracts is that the colors in your pictures seem dull. If you find you have to keep turning up the saturation and sharpness, you might have cataracts. You don’t need to be old, either. They can occur at any age, though more likely when you’ve passed 60.



A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no?

The strength of many schools, churches and community organizations lies in its rituals and traditions.  They provide a constancy that is reassuring to students, members, and alumni.  While traditions may seem a bit crazy to some, to most they are cherished as part of their heritage.  Those who do not honor tradition are likely to incur the wrath of those who want to find comfort and solace in the reassurance that traditions may bring.

When traditions remain constant throughout the years, they begin to bring identity to organizations.  The school, recreation program, and community center become known for their special features and regular activities.  Identity leads to purpose and purpose leads to dedication and commitment.  Maintaining what you have been good at through the years is important to gathering loyalty.

And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you
in one word… Tradition.Fiddler 73

Consider the years you went to elementary school or high school.  If you should return to those institutions you are likely to ask if they have the same tournaments and games.  You may ask about the basketball, football or baseball teams.  You may want to know if the school still has the Arts Festival, Chorale and Band concerts.  You may be interested in whether the big annual show is still produced, even if you were not actually a part of the shows.  These were traditions and you want to know if they are still alive.

Because of our traditions, we’ve kept our balance for many, many years.

Long lasting and enjoyable traditions will find support in parents and alumni.  Just as everyone wants to feel that they have a purpose and identity, they also want to see that their schools, parks and community organizations maintain an identity and purpose as well.

While some graduates may always feel that their years, their programs and participation were the best years of a school or organization, they will nonetheless support an organization with their word of mouth praises, and perhaps even their dollars, in order to keep the traditions alive.

Because of our traditions, everyone knows who he is and what God expects him to do.

It is true that some remain a part of their school or recreational program throughout their entire lives.  As students become young adults and then parents, they may feel it important to maintain a relationship to those places that were important to them when they were young.  They may even wish to send their children to these same schools and programs.  That is how strong the bond of tradition can be.

Not long ago, a former community resident passed away at the age of 90.  From the time I was a child at the local Boys Club until just a few years ago, this dedicated woman was always at the carnivals, festivals, and fund-raisers of all sorts.  It was her passion to be a part of the traditional events each year.  The value of her volunteer service cannot be calculated.  The importance of the traditions she helped to maintain was something beyond measure, to her and everyone who knew her.

Unfortunately, leadership comes along in the life of some schools and community groups who do not understand the importance of what they have.  They set about changing things for no other reason than change.  These types of people can quickly tear down what took generations to build.  A decade of bad leadership can wipe out a lifetime of good will and dedication.

When I returned to certain alumni events in recent years, I was disheartened to see the lack of concern for the past.  It is not that we were better than anyone else, but it is that we had an identity in our long cherished events.  For our school, it was the Fine Arts.  The Fine Arts meant nothing to recent leaders which was disheartening to many of us.

When you walk the halls of an old and venerable institution, you like to see the pictures, trophies, artwork and sayings of the past.  It is discouraging to know that the school song is unimportant, the traditions are gone and the leadership is oblivious to its importance.  When someone takes away your tradition and legacy, it is time to move on.

Tradition. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as… as a fiddler on the roof!

COLUMBINE – IT CAME BACK! – Marilyn Armstrong

Columbine – FOTD – June 2, 2019

I thought the Columbine had bloomed and died in a week. I was wrong. Apparently, that was merely the leading edge of a whole lot more Columbine.

One of the odd outcomes of the recent windy weather we’ve had because, as we all know, climate change is propaganda created by the Chinese, is that flowers are showing up in places they were never planted. Half of our garden is now on the other side of the driveway. Not roses or other things that have shoots but flowers with seeds which could be blown a distance.

That’s how we found Narcissus over there — which is still puzzling since no narcissus has grown in the regular garden in years, so those seeds were either dropped by a bird or blown from who knows where. Now there’s a lot of Columbine there, too. There has been so much wind and so often, I have no idea what’s going to show up next.

Meanwhile, there’s Columbine all over the garden, at least twice as much as I’ve seen there before.