FEAR AND LOATHING BY THE RIVER – Marilyn Armstrong

Since we came to the Valley, trips to the river to take pictures has been part of our life, often the high point of our lives. Now, with the hidden lurking diseases brought by southern mosquitoes that are part of our ongoing climate change, everyone is just staying inside.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

It’s ironic. We’ve had horrible weather all through the spring and much of the summer. It has been much too hot and muggy to go anywhere … or it has been storming with falling trees and broken branches and periodic outages of cable and power.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Now, finally, the weather is lovely. Warm, bright, and comfortable. It’s the kind of weather that makes you feel like you don’t have weather. It just feels good. Or it would if we were afraid that one of our local poisonous mosquitoes might bite and infect us with Eastern Equine Encephalitis or West Nile Virus.

Blackstone River at the end of August

We didn’t have these diseases a decade ago but as the temperature has risen a little higher each year — this year being a record-breaker — the mosquitoes have moved up the coastline from the deep south to New England. We’ve had small batches of them before, but they never moved in the way they have this year. Usually, the winter is cold enough to kill off the larvae. Come spring, there are few living mosquitoes and they have to breed all over again.

That’s the way it’s supposed to be. But not this year. Winter wasn’t cold enough for long enough to kill off the larvae. And the summer, usually hot and dry, has been sodden and wet creating a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.

They are supposed to spray for mosquitoes tonight, depending on the weather. The Commonwealth will spray at least a couple of more nights.

That won’t really kill the mosquitoes completely. Only a long, killing frost will accomplish that. Will we have one? Or will it be, as it was last year, a stormy fall with almost no color? We never got the snap of cold that brings on color. The wind and rain blew the dying leaves off the trees before they had a chance to brighten.

It was a pathetic version of autumn. Winter was too warm with no snow until the middle of March. Just a couple of weeks followed by a long, sodden, chilly spring. An ugly spring.

All of this was insufficient to winterize our region. The river didn’t freeze. I’m sure there were hoards of depressed young hockey players who never got to hit a puck into a net.

So actually going out today made us both feel endangered. It was the kind of hidden danger I hate because you can really see the mosquitoes and being by the river is close to their favorite haunts. Garry was clearly nervous and while we shot some pictures, we didn’t shoot many and left early.

Climate change is going to eventually harm everyone, everywhere. It’s no myth and there’s no argument among scientists about its reality. The argument is among politicians and business people worried about how it will affect the short term economy. They aren’t thinking by ignoring it, they are setting us up for a permanently unlivable world.

They don’t care.

SHARING THE WORLD AND AUGUST ENDS WITH A WHIMPER – Marilyn Armstrong

Another person died of Eastern Equine Encephalitis today. And they did not spray last night because it was too cold. Swell. Maybe it’ll be warmer tonight. We can hope.

Not that the spraying is going to fully solve the problem. We are still advised to wear long everything and a lot of DEET. Doubly swell.

And now to the sharing.

Share Your World 8-26-19

If you had to sum up the whole human species in 3 words, what would those words be?

Always too late.

Where is the strangest place you’ve relieved yourself?  Obviously in an emergency situation.

In the woods in Sinai. There weren’t any bathrooms.

1989 shot of earth’s arctic ice

What is the worst smelling place you’ve ever been?

Sitting next to Duke when he let one go. Lord almighty! He left the room and shortly thereafter, the other two left also.

I’m glad it’s not a nightly event!

How drunk is drunk enough?

For me, at all is too drunk. I don’t handle booze well and never did.

If you’d like, please list five things that are priceless to you.

I bet you could take bets on this and probably get it right. But I’m not sure priceless is really the word for it.

Times have changed and what I might have viewed as priceless 30 years ago — or even 20 or 10 — doesn’t carry the same weight it once did. I’m torn between the people I love who are priceless to me — and the world in which I live which is beyond price for the humans who live here.

If we change the wording to “things I couldn’t live without,” it would be easier. My friends and family are priceless to me, but our world is beyond any price.

AUGUST’S END AT THE BLACKSTONE – Marilyn Armstrong

River with flowers as summer ends – FOTD – 8-27-19

At least we got some pictures. It has been a while since we went out and we aren’t going out again soon. It’s simply too dangerous. But we did get some pretty pictures.

Boat launch ramp to the river
Pink water flowers
Red and pink water flowers
Garry’s Blackstone
Impressionist flowers
Marilyn by the river
More flowers along the Blackstone

POPULARITY – Marilyn Armstrong

We bloggers are endlessly in search of answers. All kinds of answers. I am, in particular, forever seeking an answer to the ultimate blogger query.

What makes people follow me? Why are some posts popular while others — which I think are better — are not?

I think I’ve got it part of the answer. Not the whole one. There are just some posts that, for reasons I cannot fathom, become wildly popular and I never figure out why.

The more typical answer became obvious while I was reading someone else’s post titled “Excellent Demo.” It was about a software presentation to a prospective client that goes horribly wrong. The WiFi connection doesn’t work. The hot spot tool doesn’t help.

It’s humiliating and the kind of experience we have all had. It’s painfully universal. I can remember at least two horrible professional moments, both involving cameras. After more than 30 years, they remain cringe-worthy and painful to the touch.

His company got the contract anyhow. He wondered why?

I realized the answer was probably simple. Everyone in that room — at some time or another — had a similar experience. That the demo went badly generated a visceral empathy with the audience. The disaster didn’t sell the product, but it didn’t unsell it, either.

Back on Serendipity, I noticed the two posts that did better than usual were both about the kind of stuff that happens to everyone. What was the common thread? I looked at other popular posts.

I looked at the list of my all-time most popular posts. Not including camera, movie, television, and technology reviews which have an evergreen cycle, all Serendipity’s most popular posts have a universal theme, something to which anyone and everyone can relate.

I don’t write this way on purpose. I’m betting most of you don’t design your style. It comes out of you. It is you. I can control my subject matter, but I have little control over my style. When anyone asks about my “process,” I come up blank. What’s a process?

I don’t have a process. I get an idea. I write about it. It may leap out of a conversation with Garry, a comment I make on someone else’s blog, a book I’m reading, a TV show I’ve watched. A dream I had or what the dogs did. Many are anecdotes … things that happened here and elsewhere. Often, the interesting part of the story isn’t the event, but how it affected me or others.

There are blogs that deal with issues. Some special interest web sites which talk about current events, news, politics, religion, archaeology, history, the power structure, education. Some are all about history or literature. Or talk only about movies. They have their audiences, people who are interested in the things these bloggers write about. I and many of you reading this have special interests too, but mostly, we are interested in life.

That’s what we write about it. Sometimes, it’s a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Nice and tidy. As often as not, it’s a memory, a string of thoughts wrapped around something that happened. A wish, a wisp, a wistful moment. And strangely, other people enjoy reading it.

Go figure, right?