AN EARLY VISIT – Garry Armstrong

It is the best of times. It is the worst of times.

That lends itself to our professional sports teams and our current financial dilemma. Our Boston Red Sox are almost officially eliminated from postseason play. The lamentations about the Bosox lengthy hangover from last year’s World Championship are filling up bars across Massachusetts. But sorrow is mixed with elation for the Brady Bunch aka the New England Patriots’ who opened THEIR world championship defense with a sound thumping of the Pittsburgh Steelers, always a worthy adversary.

Sports is our Rx as we try to deal with an insurance company that refuses to do the right thing. It’s an insurance company that’s had our very loyal business for 40 plus years and paid nary a cent to us. Our home has been battered by recent storms and two sides of the house could cave with the next storm. A storm due within hours. It’s a major league headache for Marilyn and me who, coincidentally, are battling a bug that leaves us wondering — who did we antagonize?

The house and health problems have prompted us to cancel two planned trips we’ve looked forward to with enthusiasm. It’s a bummer. We’re not feeling very sociable these days.  It reminds me of that old Kingston Trio song, “The Merry Minuet” about international social discord with the refrain “… and, we don’t like anybody very much.”

That’s the cue for today’s happening. The welcome sign outside our home has drawn precious few visitors — family or good friends — in the 19 years we’ve lived in picturesque Uxbridge. We almost feel like Lepers.

I was startled when Marilyn awakened me with news this morning that we had company coming — in FORTY minutes! I felt like yesterday’s garbage as I got my act together. Company?  We NEVER have company. Why TODAY? Gee Whiz!

Turns out that our visitors were one of the two families we had to cancel on because of our problems.

Garry and Karin MacMillan

Karin and her business associate lit up our house with amiable good cheer. Karin actually is a good friend of my “Baby Brother,” the noted Dr. Anton Armstrong, head of the illustrious St. Olaf’s Choir.

We’ve been swapping emails for weeks so Karin was up to speed on our problems. Despite our visit cancellation, Karin was determined to meet us and spread some cheer.

It was like sitting with old friends. We rambled on with cross conversations. I, as usual, held court with stories of my celebrity encounters. Our visitors didn’t seem bored so I kept jabbering with one eye on my watch and finally gave myself the hook — time to shut up and let the others share stories.

We laughed a lot. I was the target of some of the laughter but it was just fine. It was good to laugh, taking my mind off the headache, queasy stomach and other gifts from the stubborn bug. I was surprised about how much family stuff we shared. That’s a good indicator of relaxation with newly made friends. It doesn’t happen often with us.

We emphasized our gratitude for the visit. As mentioned, we don’t receive many social calls. You wonder if you’re a leper after extending invitations and no one shows up.

It’s been a special day. One of the last warm, sunny and perfectly golden days of summer. Our front yard has been manicured. It’ll never look better even with the furry kids staking out their territory. If we had smell-o-vision, you’d really appreciate how nice our yard looks.

It can’t obliterate our concern about the sides of the house which are in danger with the next storm on the horizon. An Insurance investigator recently documented the damage but bluntly told us not to expect much from the insurance company. We’ve reached out for help but everything is in limbo right now.  We feel very, very vulnerable. Senior citizens, surviving on social security and puny retirement funds.

For a few hours, on this day, we could laugh and relax – thanks to the kindness of strangers who now are definitely friends.

Categories: Anecdote, Blackstone Valley, Friendship, Garry Armstrong, Home, Photography

Tags: , , , ,

51 replies

  1. First of all, how wonderful and great to have received that surprise visit! It obviously did make a HUGE difference to your miserable moods you were in. Bad health, belly bugs, bad insurance companies, ill dog, mosquitos instead of sunshine and warmth; you’ve had it up to ‘there’ and you were miserable with good reason. And hey presto, a good friend comes and visits – and the world looks like a much better place.
    The ONE thing we regret with our very secluded location (it’s ‘only’ on the top of a small hill, but we’re surrounded by borders all around, we have neighbours galore we haven’t seen once in over 11 years and only regularly speak and visit with two….) is that NOBODY visits us w/o a long palaver beforehand. Being Swiss and open-hearted and -minded, we always had people just coming over for a chat, a tea, coffee or with any excuse and we enjoyed that very much. As Marilyn said somewhere, I too like the unprepared getting-togethers, because thus I’m under no stress to perform, to cook a 4 course meal or have everything in order. It’s amazing how much fun you can have when friends come to you uninvited and how little it’s bothering anyone when things are not tip-top.
    THIS is something I look very much forward to, when we once in the future will live again in company of other people, in a flat with a bell outside, where one could just ring and see if anybody is at home on their way back from shopping, or coming to ask for a walk together.


  2. Hi Guys! you are so sweet to post, even if I look like a big smiling blob. have to start running again! So many comments….
    #1 – probably my favorite opening line to a book and closing line, tied with “if we shadows have offended…”. Not surprising I’m sure, it is probably the most famous opening line. I can be cheesy sometimes.
    #2 – Ameesh and I really loved our short time with you. He, not knowing much about you, was AMAZED by the stories, and wanted to know more about Marilyn.
    #3 – we did not get your bug. No worries. We both just had “exahautionitist”, having nothing to do with our happy break from driving with you.
    #4 – sad about the Red Sox – I love the Red Sox. and love the “base -a -ball a been berry, berry good to me”
    #5 – the surprise visit and subsequent comments may lead me to write a new post. I love surprise visits, I love my house invaded by people. And I did NOT grow up that way…there is a good story here…
    love to you both and said noisy and charming doggies! K

    Liked by 1 person

    • Karin, we absolutely LOVED meeting you. Hey, You are LOVELIER and More refreshing IN PERSON. An absolute delight.
      I’m glad Ameesh eenjoyed the visit and forgives me for my little gaffe.
      We look forward to seeing you again.

      Thanks so much for detouring from your business trip to schlep to Uxbridge to visit us. You are a SWEETHEART.


  3. Hey Garry…, wouldn’t it be nice if world conflicts could be worked out with a couple ball games?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Although you have a bug, your friends weren’t deterred in their visit and from the sounds of it, you had a wonderful time. Our last day of sunshine was a week ago I believe. We’ve had cloudy rainy weather since. I see others with the last rays of summer and wish it were us. We didn’t have a hot summer (thankfully in the 80 and 90 range) it was warm to hot but we slid into autumn without warning, just suddenly there! If we have a really hot summer, we have a cold snow filled winter. Since we had a medium summer, perhaps it’ll be more rainy than snowy. Watched the Canadian Forecast and we’re not due for great amounts of snow this winter, but steady rain so we’ll see.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not a sign of autumn here. Nothing.

      As for their visit, I hope they didn’t pick up the bug. It’s what they call a norovirus, which is a really common virus picked up from food – usually stuff you buy in the grocery or eat at a restaurant. We go out so rarely it’s hard to figure HOW we got it!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Covert, fingers crossed you have a mild winter.


      • Would make a nice change. Glad to see your having lovely weather. Sorry to hear your under the weather though!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well, we are going to have to start being a lot more careful about washing vegetables and fruits. A lot of our veggies come from Asia or Mexico or somewhere else in South America. Even locally grown stuff isn’t necessarily organic unless it SAYS it is and even then, I wonder. We never used to have this problem. This is a pretty new one. it’s definitely food-born. Berries, lettuce — any fruit or vegetables that are picked by hand.

          Liked by 1 person

          • My daughter was reading about garlic, for example. OMG do NOT buy garlic that is sliced or diced already. It’s prepared by prisoners who’s fingernails and skin is rotting off because of handling it (but it’s the easiest for prisoners to do so they all do it) I was horrified and couldn’t look at the pictures myself. Made me physically ill. My ex used to work in a grocery store and so did my son and celery is something they have to use gloves to handle because it is so harsh on your skin. Food for thought.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Strawberries been bery, bery good to you….Sorry.


  5. It’s those surprise visits that light up your day. Hope you are both feeling better.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Just what you and Marilyn needed, probably! Now, if only the insurance company will get on board…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The kindness of others is all empowering

    Liked by 1 person

  8. P.S. Your dogs don’t scare me!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Could the fact you have few visitors have anything to do with the fact that your welcome sign says, “Beware of Dogs?” ;o)

    Liked by 1 person

    • No. That’s just to keep delivery people from letting the dogs out. We are just inconveniently located. Or everyone hates us. I think it’s laziness. We are inconvenient.


    • Life, no. I don’t think the dog sign has anything to do with the scenario.
      Much of it may be, as Marilyn notes in the following comment, our geographical location. Uxbridge is a schlep aka inconveniently located for friends who live closer to Boston. It’s a schlep for ME – having to drive anywhere from here. Most of my former work friends live within convenient locales of each other. So, our monthly ol’ farts luncheon is not to much of a drag for most of the gang. One of my old colleagues admits to me that he hates long drives which certainly resonates with me. Long drives are no longer fun for most of us of a certain age. But this visitors thing has existed for almost the two decades we’ve lived in Uxbridge.
      It’s funny. Uxbridge and the Blackstone Valley are popular with tourists and out of state visitors looking for picturesque scenery. We certainly appreciate having nature’s beauty right in our backyard, so to speak.

      The important thing here — we are so grateful for the time and compassion Karin and her associate took to divert from their business trip and spend a little quality time with us. Marilyn and I were smiling a lot, “feel good” smiling.


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