TICKLING THE IVORIES – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Ivory

Way back when … No, wait. Let’s take that from the top.

WAY back when I was halfway between toddler and kindergarten, it was discovered that I had some kind of musical ability. My brother was taking piano lessons, but I could play them and he couldn’t. Turned out, he was tone-deaf. All he wanted was a ball, a bat, and lemme outta this house!

Through the wood glider

So he got the ball and bat and I got the piano lessons. Tickling the ivories, it was called because back then, piano keys were made of ivory. Or had been. By the time I got my grand piano — a 14th birthday gift from mom — they were hard plastic. Steinway didn’t want any more dead elephants on their conscience.

I got pretty good at tickling those ivories, but not good enough to be a serious performer. The truth was, I didn’t really want to be a musician. I was going to write great novels and be famous, live alone in a house on a cliff in Maine overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

And look how close I’ve come?

WHO ARE YOU AND WHY ARE YOU CALLING ME? – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #46

From Fandango:

“I was watching “Jimmy Kimmel Live” last week and he and his sidekick, Guillermo, paid a visit to the New Yorker magazine in an effort to get a cartoon published in the magazine. Neither was successful, but Jimmy came up with this cartoon, which serves as the inspiration for this week’s provocative question:
CDAE46BB-E23E-40BF-BDB9-14331575A5F4The cartoon shows a picture of a young man sitting in a jail cell with headphones on. He’s busy using his smartphone when the prison guard apparently advises the guy in the cell that he’s entitled to a phone call. The guy then asks the guard, “What’s a phone call?”

So here’s the question:

Question of the week #47

I grew up before mobile phones — or at least before mobile phones became popular and common. Garry and I were among the earliest users of cell phones. Garry was always out in the field and he really needed a phone. Even back then … the early 1990s … there weren’t many functioning payphones. Most of the booths had broken or entirely missing phones.

The first phone I bought for Garry was the size of a brick and weighed at least as much and possibly more. On the other hand, that phone could connect with anyone anywhere. It was very much like the big “field phones” the telephone technicians used.

One day, the Blackberry came out and for years that was our phone. Garry loved his Blackberry. It had good sound and he could actually hear when he used it … and he could read (and send) email. I had a phone too, which was good because I was always looking for a job and I needed to find a quiet corner to set up interviews. Sometimes the phone WAS the interview.

Texting hadn’t arrived yet and phones were not miniature computers. They were small, portable telephones that also had email and calendar. Which was what I needed.

And the granddaddy of them all:

The standard black dial telephone

But how do I feel about taking on the phone? There was a time when the phone rang and I knew it was a friend. Or someone who wanted to talk to a parent, a brother, a husband, even your child.  But now? The phone is nothing but a noisy, device large used to try to scam you out of money or steal your personal information. It’s rarely fun.

I have three or four people — close family and dear friends — to whom I enjoy talking. Otherwise, I’d rather use email. The joy of email for me is its wonderful silence. My cell is always dining and ringing and jingling and binging and bonging. It never stops updating so as soon as you think you know how it works, they decide it needs to be fixed. When it is actually broken and needs to be fixed? That’s a wholly different story and usually costs you money.

With the exception of good friends and family, I don’t want to use the phone. I have to beat myself up to actually make a phone call, even if it’s important. Email is great because I can ignore it until I feel like doing something about it. I never learned to text, probably because that would mean I’d have to leave my phone on and people would actually CALL me. I don’t want them to call me. I’m very happy to not have something ringing all the time.

The thing I don’t understand about mobile phones is that they never shut up. They are always making some kind of noise. It’s like being on an electronic leash: you are never out of touch. It’s why when people ask if I have a smartphone, I say “no.” I do have one. I just don’t use it any more than I have to … and I do NOT give out the phone number.

My favorite calls are from Indians or Pakistanis who say their names are “Bob” and they are calling from Texas. And they know a Nigerian prince. Moreover, if you give them all your personal information, you can inherit a fortune and never have to worry about money again.

My all-time favorite call was a woman who called to ask for money to be collected for women who’ve had breast cancer. The money, she averred, would be given directly to people who had cancer and needed help. I told her she could call me back when my check was ready.

Modern telephone technology has taken all the fun out of making phone calls just as “modern airplanes” have taken all the romance out of travel. From all of this, I have concluded that progress is good but not every change is going to improve your life.  The only thing I hope for is that people will get tired of living on their phones and start to consider the possibilities of conversations.

And sometimes, enjoy the amazing possibilities of quiet and even silence.

NUMBERED – Garry Armstrong

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge:
Numbers: Anything with numbers on it

I’ve been around with the camera lately and I got some numbers while I was at it. Since all the pictures are mine, I guess the post is also mine.

The church is the first Quaker Meetinghouse in this country. It’s in pretty good shape, though it’s hard to photograph because of its position on the corner atop a hill.

1770 Quaker Meetinghouse

The corner of route 146A

But the sign is green!

Fire Chief numbers

POP! NEW GUTTERS – Marilyn Armstrong

“POP!” Pop of Positivity Share
Theme: People doing the right thing
just like they promised!

Usually dealing with contractors is at it’s best, not too bad. This time, it went so easilyAtlantic Gutters were on my schedule for 2 pm. They showed up at 10:30 in the morning. Just as well we didn’t sleep late.

They went to work instantly without a moment wasted and in a few hours, they were finished. It cost $500 more than expected because there should have been fascia put on with the roof, but they weren’t there (we had really awful people doing our original work because we didn’t know anyone and we took someone’s recommendation.

New gutters from the deck

The guy turned out to be her brother-in-law and he’d never put up a roof or gutters before. It was a disaster for us, but he took the money and smiled all the way to the bank. We knew so little, it took us years to discover what a mess they had made.

Thus, for the past 19 years, gunk has been building under the edge of the roof. Without the fascia, we were going to need a roof soon. We just bought maybe 8 to 10 more years of roofing.

The company is Atlantic Gutters of New England and they are a large group, reasonable prices. Not the cheapest, but definitely not the most expensive. They are a big enough organization so that they are likely to still be in business in a few years. I sure hope so. They give a nice, long guarantee, but as I have learned, a guarantee is only good if the company stays in business.

Right now, I’m pretty happy. Even with the unexpected $500.

After they were finished … and I should add that they cleaned up every single item they used. When they were done, it was exactly as it had been before they began. Which means that we have several tons of leaves to blow into the woods. I always laugh when people suggest we need humus (no, not the delicious combination of chickpeas and tahini (with lemon, olive oil, garlic, and maybe a hint of chopped onion) but the rich soil you find on the floor of the forest.

We have a lot of humus. Enough for half a million gardens. Maybe more. So when they left and I had handed them my previously empty credit card because I really needed those gutters, I went out to the back porch to sweep up the pile of leaves and birdseed. Surprisingly, there were no seeds on the railing. Between the return of the Mourning Doves and the determined little chipmunk, every last seed got eaten.

We refilled the feeders — again. We filled them yesterday, too. We also let the Duke wander around the deck and bark himself sick. This does not scare the birds. They trust their wings. It freaked out the squirrels and the birds get a whole hour to eat before the squirrels were back.

After a while, the birds got tired of watching me push leaves off the deck and started hitting the feeders with energy, totally ignoring me and the Duke. They probably didn’t even appreciate the new gutters.