WHY DON’T YOU WRITE ABOUT DOGS? – Marilyn Armstrong

Garry actually asked me why I don’t write about dogs. I had a hard time explaining that in addition to the idea, you need a “book concept,” an idea of where you will start, finish, and what’s going to happen in between. Unlike blogging, it isn’t anecdotal. It needs to be … well … a book.

My favorite cartoon by George Booth was originally published in The New Yorker. It shows a man sitting in front of a typewriter. Dogs are everywhere A woman, presumably, his wife watches from the doorway. The caption reads “Write about dogs.”

My home is full of dogs. Anyone who comes to visit must compete with the dogs for the comfortable chairs and the best spots on the sofa. (Come to think of it, we have to fight them for the best seats too.) That’s the way it is. The dogs are family.

If we have guests who are old, frail or allergic, we do our best to accommodate their needs. We put the most rambunctious, smelly, and hairy dogs out of the way if we can, but that depends on the weather. Basically, if you don’t like dogs, you’ve come to the wrong house. People who don’t like dogs are not frequent visitors.

That’s fine with me. I prefer the company of most dogs to most people. There are lots of reasons to prefer dogs. But the two big ones are love and honesty.

Gibbs with Duke

Dogs love you completely, totally, and without reservation. They don’t care about your social status or education, whether you are young or old, ugly or beautiful, rich or poor. They love you completely.

Your dog will never betray or abandon you.

Dogs are terrible liars. Not that they don’t try. Every dog will do his or her best to convince each human to give them treats. Your dog will tell you she needs a biscuit now or will collapse from hunger. This is not particularly convincing when the canine in question is a beefy pooch who has obviously never missed a meal. Eternally optimistic, all dogs figure it’s worth a shot. It’s a dog thing. You never know when a biscuit might fall your way.

Duke and Bonnie

When the performance our furry kids put on in hopes of getting a tasteless dry biscuit is especially hilarious, we relax the rules and give them a little something. After all, they don’t have hands and can’t grab one for themselves. Now and again, they need to get lucky because they’re cute and we love them.

Dogs lie, but their lies are simple and transparent. There’s no malice in them. They just want a biscuit or maybe have you throw that ball. If they don’t get what they want, they love you anyway.

When it comes to love, dogs are the best. They “get” love and think you are wonderful. They think you are wonderful every day of their lives. When they are dying, the last thing they will do is look at you with love in their eyes, wag their tail one final time and try to give you a kiss.

I have spent my life lurching between my quest for God and an equally ardent quest for the best dog food at the most reasonable price. When times have been hard and we’ve had to choose between food for us and food for our furry children, the fur kids always win.

Bonnie

Our dogs do not suffer from angst. They don’t worry unless supper runs late or biscuits are forgotten in the bustle of a day’s activities. If such a catastrophe should occur, they know exactly where to present their grievances and apply for redress. Dogs live close to their deities. They hang out with their gods on the sofa. They get biscuits from them in the morning and evening. If life is circumscribed and a bit confined, it is nonetheless good.

Sometimes one of their gods gets angry and yells at them. That might make them unhappy for a few minutes, but the gods of their world don’t stay angry. Our dogs have kindly and loving gods who are inclined to scratch them behind the ears and talk to them in soft voices.

TinkerizedRemotes

We are gods to our dogs and as such, we set laws for them to live by. Don’t poop or pee in the house. Do not chew things not given to you for chewing, especially not anything containing batteries. Don’t jump on old people or babies. Don’t growl at delivery people. Don’t stay up late barking. Abide by the law and all will be well. When rules are clear and understood by all, life runs smoothly.

The human side of the contract is more complicated. It’s harder being a god than being a dog.

We pledge to care for them all the days of their lives. We keep them healthy. We love and nurture them. We feed them properly, make sure they get exercise – though they don’t get enough of it and neither do we. We keep them warm and dry in winter, cool and dry in summer. If we force them to go outside to do their business, it is because they are, after all, dogs.

About to engage …

Every evening, for at least a little while, their gods climb down from heaven to play on the floor.

Dogs don’t fret about the future. They live in a joyful present. When their time comes, we will make sure they pass gently out of this world. We promise to keep them as free from suffering as is within our power. That is our solemn contract. We live up to that pledge because we really are gods to our fur children and must never let them down. Pets teach you a lot about the divine contract.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING NEW YEAR’S EVE?

Who Sang It Best? by Rich Paschall

Maybe it’s much too early in the game
Oh, but I thought I’d ask you just the same
What are you doing New Year’s?
New Year’s eve?

Wonder whose arms will hold you good and tight
When it’s exactly twelve o’clock that night
Welcoming in the New Year
New Year’s eve

Maybe I’m crazy to suppose
I’d ever be the one you chose
Out of a thousand invitations
You received

Oh, but in case I stand one little chance
Here comes the jackpot question in advance
What are you doing New Year’s?
New Year’s Eve?

Frank Loesser (Guys and Dolls) wrote the song in 1947 and it was first recorded by Margaret Whiting that same year. You can hear it above, but we could find no actual video of her singing it.

The doo-wop group The Orieoles had a hit with it in 1949 which stayed on the charts into 1950. That is the second You Tube video above.

The perpetually cute Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt posted a rather amateur video of this in 2011 which has gone viral. It has well over 20 million views.  It is the third video above.

A few years ago we posted a New Year’s article that included Seth MacFarlane singing the song with an added intro that many have used. MacFarlane is the creator of some of your animated favorites and voices multiple characters on his show, Family Guy. The multi talented performer is quite a singer as well and you can check that out here.

Frank Loesser did not intend for the song to be a holiday tune. He was looking well off into the future, “Maybe it’s much too early in the game.” According to his daughter, Susan, “It always annoyed my father when the song was sung during the holidays.”

Who do you think sang it best?

Sources: Song facts, “What are you doing New Year’s Eve?song-facts.com
What are you doing New Year’s Eve?” Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org

 

THE SONG IS YOU – Garry Armstrong

One of the great pleasures in my life these days is our car radio. Marilyn, in one of the most thoughtful of her gifts in this past year of discontent, signed us – me really – for Sirius Satellite radio, highlighted by the signature “Siriusly Sinatra” station.  It’s all Sinatra, 24-7.

Not just Sinatra. It’s all of the songs and artists from Tin Pan Alley’s swing halcyon days. Sinatra,  Dino, Sammy, Crosby, Ella, Nat Cole, Tony Bennett, Billie Holiday, The Dorsey Brothers, Glenn Miller, Irving Berlin, Jimmy Van Heusen, Sammy Kahn, Cole Porter, Rosie Clooney and other legendary musicians who performed under the umbrella of “Standards.” It’s not just cob-webby LP music. The station also features contemporary artists covering the classics that span more than a century. You’ll marvel at the likes of Springsteen, Dylan, Lady Gaga and Pink riffing Mel Torme, Sassy Sarah Vaughn, Peggy Lee, Etta James, Doris Day, Ol’ Blue Eyes and other voices. Tunesmiths from our youth.

This leads me into the theme of singing in the throne room as I assume most of us do — far from the madding crowd of critics. I don’t possess the same musical talent as my two younger brothers. Hell, it’s a miracle if I carry a tune. Lately, I’ve been serenading myself as I shave (very steady hand!).

Usually, it’s older standard music on the Sinatra station. Or maybe something Marilyn remembers her Mom singing from her childhood.  Marilyn says her Mom usually only remembered one stanza from a tune and would repeat it over and over again. I chuckle along with Marilyn because I do the same thing. Maybe two or three lines repeated myriad times until I forget those lyrics or  I’m done shaving. Then, I move into the shower. The water covering more old songs with misremembered lyrics.

It’s all good for me. Surely, I am the winner of The Lipton Tea Talent Scouts Show with Arthur Godfrey smiling and congratulating me. I’m gonna be the next Nat “King” Cole.  As sure as the turning of the earth!  I just need to pick the right song to cover.

A song that’s me!

Decades ago (The early 70’s), I used to walk around singing the very somber love ballad, “All For The Love Of A Girl.” It was the flip side of Johnny Horton’s “The Ballad of New Orleans.”  I sang “All For the Love …” with deep, sorrowful emotion. On or off the melody? I don’t remember. A lady friend asked, “Garry, why do you always sing such sad songs”?

I replied, “Because I’m sentimental.”

My friend shot back quickly, “No, You’re NOT!” And, you’re also not romantic.”   I suppressed anger and the blemish to my sensitivity.

Years later, the same performance, different song and a similar conversation with Marilyn who echoed the “No, you’re not sentimental. You may like sentimental songs and movies. But it doesn’t make you sentimental or a romantic.” This would lead down a conversational road I didn’t like. The difference between musical tastes and my own personality and behavior,  especially with people who cared about me.  The singer, not the song. But, as usual, I digress.

I chose our Wedding Song.  It was Nat Cole’s “For Sentimental Reasons.”  Marilyn and I slow danced, as bride and groom, to the dreamy ballad. It was supposed to be the standard for my behavior as Marilyn’s husband and dependable mate through good times and bad. The song proved steadier than the groom in the ensuing years.

It’s difficult living up to the romantic lyrics of a popular song when you’re dealing with bread and butter issues like bills, home repairs, and health care and working in the news business which is about as unromantic as work can be. The song isn’t always you. A very hard pill to swallow when you carry yourself off as a romantic or sentimental fella. Recognizing the difference is part of the long road to maturity, awkward when your 78th birthday is just a few, short months away.

Maybe this is part of what Frank Sinatra was trying to explain when we met half a century ago — another story in a different post. I never asked, but Sinatra told me he often felt at odds with some of his sad songs, the love affairs which supposedly went sour in smoky three o’clock in the morning gin joints.  I was the twenty-something filled with the angst of old movies and songs about love found and lost.  I still didn’t have a clue about being a three-dimensional guy ready to take on responsibility with the sensitivity essential to any meaningful relationship.

It would take a long, long time and still hasn’t been fully achieved. I always label myself – “a work in progress.”  The old love songs don’t always cover that ‘sharing and caring’ stuff.  Play “Misty” for me!

Another time travel stop for me and music. Autumn of 1959. I was brash, newly minted enlistee at Parris Island, the legendary basic training camp for young gyrenes. I was one of a very few “boots” of color and a damn Yankee in the deep south where Jim Crow still prevailed. Most of the other clean-shaven Marine wannabees were from below the Mason-Dixon line, deep in the heart of Dixie. Their music was Rebel Rock ‘n Roll, tempered with obscenities and insensitivity to anyone who was not a card-carrying beer and grits lover.

The southern music dominated our downtime. I was off in my own private world, serenading myself with the likes of “Mona Lisa”, “Stardust”, “Too Young” and “When I Fall In Love.”  My musical choices bought me a lot of grief with the good old boys. A lot of reprimands from the drill Instructors who already didn’t care for my “attitude” and added my music to their list of things for verbal reprimand.  I just laughed at them when they screamed at me. No hits of the week for me.

I got lost in a time warp when hard rock, heavy metal, rap, and hip-hop took over popular music. I guess I began to sound like my parents and grandparents wondering what happened to the good music of my early years. What happened to lyrics and melodies you could understand?

My fallback in music is the same as it is in movies. My one and only public karaoke performance was our local Tex-Mex restaurant maybe fifteen years ago. It was not my best performance, even by local standards. The restaurant closed a few years ago but I am sure some people still remember the magical night when I got up on stage, decked in western garb, reaching for the stars as I grabbed the mic and the music began. My heartfelt rendition of “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” fulfilled a lifelong dream.  I sang for applause, free drinks, and some scattered “More, more, more.”

A musical homage to all my movie cowboy heroes.

That song is me, Pilgrim.

IN THE SPIRIT OF DOING WHAT EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING … Marilyn Armstrong

These are the top 20 posts from this past year. Ironically most of them were written in other years, much earlier. As I said in comment to Fandango, popularity does not make it a “best” post. The problem is trying to remember the names of what I think were my best posts. Some of these posts weren’t written by me, either … and a few of them are photographs, not even posts.

My highest numbers were for a day of posts, rarely for one single post. I’ve gotten as many as 1400 hits on a single post in the past and it was a stupid post … AND it shows up here, again, even though I wrote it six or seven years ago.

Popularity is an odd thing and rarely seems to have much to do with what you view as your finest efforts. That’s not just true for blogging. It’s true for people who make movies, do the news, write books, take pictures. What others love is what they love.

THE TOP TWENTY FOR 2019

Title Views
Home page / Archives More stats 24,726
DESCENDING FROM THE GOLDEN HORDE – B+ AND ME More stats 1,763
GAZING THROUGH TO THE OTHER SIDE: HOLLYWOOD & MORAL CHARACTER More stats 1,107
THE MEANING OF EVERYTHING AND NOTHING More stats 701
MY BROTHER ESAU WAS A HAIRY MAN, BUT I AM A SMOOTH MAN – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 605
REMEMBERING “FAST AL” McNAUGHTON: A NEW ENGLAND TV NEWS LEGEND – Garry Armstrong More stats 440
STRAINS? NO BIG DEAL, RIGHT? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 360
DON’T DRINK THE KOOL-AID – THE JONESTOWN MASSACRE More stats 358
Destructive Gypsy Moth caterpillars More stats 346
Uncle sam political cartoon 1899 More stats 345
Those Old Catskill Comedians … More stats 326
LIMNAL VS. LIMINAL: “I” MAKE A DIFFERENCE More stats 295
DON’T DRINK THE KOOLAID: THE JONESTOWN MASSACRE More stats 280
How did your doctor’s appointment go? More stats 264
WHERE DO THE SWANS GO? More stats 242
THERE’S GOTTA BE A PONY IN HERE SOMEWHERE – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 203
A PRAYER FOR NOTRE DAME – Guest Blogger: KARIN LAINE McMILLEN More stats 181
TOM ELLIS: A TRIBUTE by George K. Regan, Jr. More stats 177
IF WISHES WERE HORSES More stats 150

As usual, the Jonestown massacre is permanently popular and should be as a reminder of what hate and cults can become.

The Gypsy Moth caterpillars is a photograph taken four years ago and the Uncle Sam political cartoon’s origins were in 1899 when despite my age, I wasn’t born.

“Where do the Swans Go?” was originally published in 2013 and I haven’t republished it. It just keeps getting hits.

“Those Old Catskill Comedians” was written and published (and never reblogged, either) in 2014.

“Gazing through to the Other Side” was published in 2014, took me less than 10 minutes to write during a television commercial break, got 1400 hits in one day and every year gets another thousand or so. Why? I didn’t understand the first time it happened and I don’t understand it now.

I wrote “Descending from The Golden Horde – B+ and Me” in 2015 and still gets hits … a lot of them … every year. I think there isn’t much information about blood types available. Either that or Google has it near the top of lists.

“A Prayer for Notre Dame” written by guest blogger Karin Laine McMillen was a beautiful piece as was the piece about Tom Ellis by guest blogger George Regan Jr.

“The Meaning of Everything and Nothing” is one of the pieces I’ve always had fun with. I wrote it in 2013, have rewritten in a couple of times. It has been longer, shorter, with and without pictures. I guess you could call it a summary of my college education in one post.

And then, this bunch also made the list. Most of these were at least written this year! The ones in red are favorites of mine.

THE REST OF THE BEST?

HAPPY NATIONAL ASSHOLE AWARENESS DAY! More stats 146
CONTACT More stats 143
THE FORTUNE TELLER WHO RUINED MY GRANDFATHER’S LIFE – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 140
THE RAINBOW BRIDGE – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 132
NEWS ANCHORING: LOOKING INSIDE – Garry Armstrong More stats 131
HURRAH FOR NUMBER 26! More stats 128
Violets, Dandelions, and Little Purple Flowers More stats 126
MACAVITY – THE MYSTERY CAT BY T.S. ELIOT More stats 125
The Bible Cyst on My Wrist More stats 124
SITUATIONAL FRIENDS – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 122
ONLY OLD PEOPLE WATCH CABLE NEWS – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 121
AND, THE OSCAR GOES TO … BUT, DO YOU CARE? – Garry Armstrong More stats 118
MARILYN ARMSTRONG More stats 116
Leather, explicit sex, immortals with magic powers — The Dark Hunter Series More stats 114
TWAS BRILLIG! JABBERWOCKY, LEWIS CARROLL More stats 109
THE RACIST BONE’S CONNECTED TO THE … HIP BONE? – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 107
BLOGGING – IT’S A NEW YET SOMEHOW OLD WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 106
CLYTEMNESTRA’S LAMENT – GUEST POST By KARIN LAINE MCMILLEN More stats 105
DAD WAS *MORE* THAN A CONTENDER – Garry Armstrong More stats 104
OLD MOVIES, NEW EYES – Garry Armstrong More stats 104
ROMANTIC ME – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 102
OUR CLIMATE CHANGE DIDN’T HAPPEN SINCE TRUMP TOOK OFFICE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 102
OLD ACQUAINTANCES – Garry Armstrong More stats 102
GAFFES OF AN ICONIC NAME DROPPER – Garry Armstrong More stats 102
THE LEISURE SUIT: THE LOST JOY OF POLYESTER – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 101
BEING AGAINST FORCED BUSING DOESN’T MEAN YOU OPPOSE INTEGRATION – Garry Armstrong More stats 101
THE REST OF THE STORY – Garry Armstrong More stats 98
GARRY ARMSTRONG More stats 98
LOSING YOUR JOB WITHOUT LOSING YOUR MIND – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 96
MEDICARE TO SENIORS: WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE? More stats 95
ABOUT THAT PAIN IN MY RIGHT ARM? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 94
HANGING OUT WITH ROBERT “MITCH” MITCHUM – Garry Armstrong More stats 93
FAMILY PHOTOS – Marilyn & Garry Armstrong More stats 93
REDACTED READING – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 93
BOYS STILL PLAY, AT LEAST IN THE COUNTRY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 93
NATIONAL ASSHOLE AWARENESS DAY More stats 92
TOO EARLY TO BE DRINKING? – Garry Armstrong More stats 92
A SUMMER AFTERNOON WITH JIMMY CAGNEY – Garry Armstrong More stats 91
PANCHO AND LEFTY: EMMY LOU HARRIS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 90
GARBAGE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 90
DORIEN SHOULD REALLY BE DARWIN – By TOM CURLEY More stats 90
LET’S BAN PENNIES – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 90
LIVING WITH ANTI-SEMITISM – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 88
A BIPOLAR LIFE – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 87
REMEMBERING MY MENTOR – JEFF KRAUS – Garry Armstrong More stats 86
TIME OFF AND RETIREMENT – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 86
BE HOME BEFORE THE LIGHTS COME ON – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 85
WHERE IS STEVE McQUEEN WHEN I REALLY NEED HIM? – Garry Armstrong More stats 84
WALLOWING IN THE PAST – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 84
PLEASE REGISTER TO VOTE TODAY! – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 84
QUESTIONS WITHOUT ANSWERS More stats 82
bludgeon More stats 82
I BEG TO DIFFER … Marilyn Armstrong More stats 81
NO ONE IS LISTENING – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 81
THE DAY WE GAVE UP PIZZA DELIVERY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 81
FATE IS IRREFUTABLE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 81
IMPEACHMENT FOLLIES – Garry Armstrong More stats 81
ONLINE SHOPPING REVOLUTION OR CONSUMER REBELLION? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 81
I DON’T KNOW WHY HE HATES ME SO MUCH. I NEVER DID HIM A FAVOR! – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 80
OUTLIVING THE BITCHES More stats 80
IT’S THE THEATER More stats 80
CHANGE IS ALWAYS ON THE WAY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 79
A NOSE JOB FOR MOM – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 79
A SUDDEN JOLT OF OPTIMISM – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 79
I WILL WORK FOR FOOD BUT NOT PIZZA – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 79
HOW GO YOUR YEARS? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 79
I THINK I’M TIRED – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 79
HACKING, OPERATING SYSTEMS, AND THE END OF THE WORLD – TOM CURLEY More stats 78
FLAT EARTH VS. ROUND EARTH – Reblog More stats 77
movie-set-boston More stats 77
IT’S ALWAYS SOMETHING – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 77
BRAIN DEATH AND FIBROMYALGIA – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 77
DINNER TABLE CONVERSATION – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 77
THE RISING OF THE PHOENIX – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 77
FANATICISM AND IGNORANCE IS FOREVER BUSY AND NEEDS FEEDING – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 77
NOSTALGIA IN PHOTOGRAPHY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 77
WELCOME TO MY HUMBLE HOME – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 77
WHY DID YOU TAKE THAT PICTURE? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 76
THE CHANGING SEASONS NOVEMBER 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 76
Victorian-Gingerbread-House-Template-Models More stats 76
BATHROOM REDO AND THE BUSYNESS OF LIFE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 76
THEY TELL YOU WHAT TO DO, BUT WHO ARE THEY? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 76
DON’T YOU HATE WHEN THAT HAPPENS? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 76
TEETH WITH AN HILARIOUS SPECIAL COMMENT FOLLOWUP — Marilyn Armstrong More stats 75
REALLY, MY MOTHER – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 75
WIFED OUT – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 75
MAO, A CAT – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 75
EVALUATING ART – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
WORDPRESS AND REGENERATION – OH NO! – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
WHY SERENDIPITY? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
INSTALLING A PRINTER AND WHY I HATE THEM – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
INFURIATION, RAGE, ANGER, AND OTHER BLOOD PRESSURE-RAISING MOODS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
GOLDFINCH OR WARBLER? Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
NO REFEREE? A NEW CONCEPT – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
AHOY AND AHEAD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
NOT QUITE THIRTY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
Human-Body-Muscles More stats 73
THE CHANGING SEASONS: MAY 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 73
THIS MAGIC MOMENT- Rich Paschall More stats 73
TO IMPEACH OR NOT? IS THAT EVEN A QUESTION? – By TOM CURLEY More stats 73
THE WALRUS AND THE CARPENTER More stats 73
Toilet Paper More stats 73
SHADES OF DIFFERENCE -MONOTONE AND MONOCHROME More stats 73
IT’S CALLED STRESS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 72
ONE THING I DID NOT WANT TO BE – Rich Paschall More stats 72
(unknown or deleted) More stats 72
GIFTS, DREAMS, AND MAKING IT HAPPEN – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 72
THE SUMMER OF ’69 – Rich Paschall More stats 72
I AM THE APPLE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 72
GOOD MORNING FRIENDS, BIRDS, AND A SQUIRREL – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 72
SELFIES AND AUTOGRAPHS – Garry Armstrong More stats 72
ENVY OF WORCESTER COUNTY – CAROLINE’S CANNABIS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 72
NO ESCAPE AND NOWHERE TO RUN – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 72
MY DAY: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE RIDICULOUS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 72
THERE ISN’T MUCH SNOWFALL #writephoto – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 71
JULY BLUES AND SUNRISE ON THE VERNAL EQUINOX – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 71
ESPECIALLY BAD WAYS TO DIE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 71
R&R WITH OLD FRIENDS – Garry Armstrong More stats 71
FINEST DAY OF THE WEEK, DEPENDING ON HOW YOU LOOK AT IT – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 71
THE PELLET WITH THE POISON IS IN THE VESSEL WITH THE PESTLE, I THINK – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 71
MY REMEMBERER IS BROKE More stats 71
CLOWNS ARE RUNNING THE WORLD – Garry Armstrong More stats 71
BLACK IS THE NEW BLACK – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 71
SIZE MATTERS, ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE GODZILLA – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 71
EVEN SQUIRRELS GET HUNGRY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 70
(unknown or deleted) More stats 70
WHAT’S FOR DINNER? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 70
A VINTAGE FARM TRACTOR AS GARDEN ORNAMENT – Garry and Marilyn Armstrong More stats 70
AMBITION AND THE LACK THEREOF – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 70
NATURE VS. NURTURE – DOES HARDSHIP MAKE YOU STRONGER? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 70
A Public Service Announcement – An important reblogged announcement for everyone afflicted by universal stupidity More stats 70
B+ AND ME: BLOOD TYPES AROUND THE WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 70
YOU CAN’T BUILD A FUTURE ON HATE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 70
CASH NOT ACCEPTED HERE! – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 69
WHEN NOTHING MEANS ANYTHING More stats 69
MyHeritage DNA – THE LEAST EXCITING DISCOVERY OF 2017 More stats 69
THE MOST NIMBLE OF ALL SQUIRRELS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 69
IS IT REALLY THAT BAD? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 69
WINDOWS ON MY WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 69
THE BOBCAT’S BACK – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 69
BLUE BIRDS OF HAPPINESS – Marilyn Armstong More stats 69
THERE’S NO GOOD TIME TO CALL AT&T – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 69
DIETING WITHOUT DIGNITY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 69
GOOD FRIENDS – BOSTON’S TV NEWS PERSONALITIES – GARRY ARMSTRONG WITH MARK SHANAHAN More stats 69
JACK WARNER, NAZIS, AND HOLLYWOOD – By Garry Armstrong, with a bit of inspiration from Marilyn Armstrong More stats 68
KINDNESS OF STRANGERS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 68
AN EARLY VISIT – Garry Armstrong More stats 68
OFFICIAL MINUTES FROM THE FIRST “COUNCIL OF THE TOMS” – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 68
ONE OF THE DAYS DURING ONE OF THOSE WEEKS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 68
NO SPENDTHRIFTING THIS YEAR – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 68
A DANCE IN A GRAVEYARD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 68
EVERYTHING NEW IS OLD AGAIN – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 68
INGENUITY: PLANNING A TRIP WITH THREE DOGS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 68
AND AFTER ALL THE TESTS … Marilyn Armstrong More stats 68
THE LAST OF THE SILVER SCREEN COWBOYS – Garry Armstrong More stats 68
SO HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT LINES? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
LONG, RAMBLING POLITICAL & ECOLOGICAL POST – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
GOOD, BAD, AND UGLY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
THE LONG DELAY ENDS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
NO SPELLCHECKER – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
A GOOD NEWS-BAD NEWS KIND OF DAY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
SO HERE’S MY DEAL – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
Fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding: A Reminder from “Inherit the Wind” More stats 67
THE SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD: KUDOS TO MARTHA KENNEDY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
A WOMAN’S RIGHT TO LIVE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
THE LAST TIMES SQUARE UNTIL NEXT TIME – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
FLOWER OF THE DAY PLUS SQUARE AND SPIKY MARCH DAY 3 – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
WHAT COMPUTER TO BUY IF YOU DON’T HAVE MONEY? Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
THE GARDENER’S RESPITE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
THE STUPID IS STRONG IN THIS COUNTRY – By TOM CURLEY More stats 67
WE ARE FINITE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 66
ALL I WANT TO DO IS ENTER MY HOUSE JUSTIFIED – Garry Armstrong More stats 66
THE SUPER BOWL OF GROCERY SHOPPING – Garry Armstrong More stats 66
WOODPECKERS: NAME THAT BIRD! – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 66
(unknown or deleted) More stats 66
NOT THE BUCKET LIST – Rich Paschall More stats 66
OPTIONAL SUNDAY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 66
A BLOGGING DIARY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 66
EVENTUALLY MAKES A LONG LIST – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 66
BUCOLIC CREATURES AND THE FEEDERS ON THE DECK … Marilyn Armstrong More stats 66
A SOGGY AUTUMN THURSDAY – Garry Armstrong More stats 66
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM LIKE A MAGAT? – AGAIN! – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 66
(unknown or deleted) More stats 66
HAPPY THANKSGIVING! – Marilyn Armstrong, with Photos by Garry Armstrong More stats 66
KEEPING THE WATCH – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 66
UP UP AND AWAY: WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 66
SOME STUFF NEEDS INVENTING – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
THE CANAL FLOWS PAST US – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM LIKE A MAGAT? – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 65
WHY I WAS BUYING A LAMP AT 3 AM – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
ARE WE THERE YET? SHORT FICTION FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
IF IT WASN’T ABOUT SLAVERY, WHAT WAS IT ABOUT? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
UNEXPECTED WINDOWS: A PHOTO A WEEK CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
Deutsche Bank Executive Found Dead More stats 65
LEARNING TO GROW THINGS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
WITH GOD ON MY SIDE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
FLYPAPER (2011): A PLEASANT SURPRISE More stats 65
POPULARITY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
NOW, IT’S THE NEW YEAR’S CACTUS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
THE DAWN BREAK IN – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
PERFUNCTORY AFFECTION – A NEW NOVEL By KIM HARRISON – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
TOO MANY BIRDS! – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
SO TELL ME … WHY DO WE PAY FOR HOME INSURANCE? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
A PAIR OF LADY BIRDS IN THE AFTERNOON – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
DRAWING AND QUARTERING – MY FAVORITE NIGHTMARE More stats 64
EASTER AND PASSOVER: JOINED AT THE HIP – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
ALL LINED UP? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
THE CHANGING SEASONS – AUGUST 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
AHAB THE WANDERER – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
BRING ON THE ANGRY MOBS! – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
IF IMITATION IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF FLATTERY More stats 64
I ALMOST HAD IT – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
A COLLAPSING WORLD IN “SAN ANDREAS FAULT” – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
IT’S BEEN ONE OF THOSE MONTHS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
EYEBROWS? Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
ARE WE READY FOR A GAY PRESIDENT? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
IS THIS THE END OF DAYS? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
A WILD RUSHING OF HUNGRY BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
NOT FEELING WELL – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
A TEMPORARY FINISH LINE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE DOG-HUMAN BOND – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 63
THE RESTORATION OF ANA McGUFFEY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
HOW DO THEY DO IT? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
THE OTHER SIDE OF IMMIGRATION – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
AUTHENTIC MASCULINITY AT ITS MOST VALOROUS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
RAW OR JPG? WHAT’S YOUR FORMAT? Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
FENCES: A WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – Garry Armstrong More stats 63
UXBRIDGE ON THE RITZ! – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
SQUIRREL DU JOUR – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
HAPPY 80TH BIRTHDAY, JEFF – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
RETURNING WEDGEWOOD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
A NEW BIRD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
‘THE LATE, LATE SHOW’ – “GUILTY PLEASURES” (MA-XXX) – Garry Armstrong More stats 62
BLUE LIKE THE JAYS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
AFTER SEVEN YEARS OF BLOGGING … Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
THE MYSTERY OF THE SOCKS THAT DISAPPEAR IN THE DRYER – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 62
ASSISTED SUICIDE: YAY OR NAY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
CAR-MA AND COPS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
AN OPEN LETTER TO HUMANITY FROM PLANET EARTH – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 62
BIRDS AND THE FIRST SNOW WITH ONE SQUIRREL — Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
“LES MISERABLE” VERSUS “LESS MISERABLE” — Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
WHY ARE WE SO STUPID? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
A VISITOR TO THE DECK – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
A ROCK IS A ROCK IS A ROCK – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
AN AMERICAN CARAVAN STOPPED BY THE WALL – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
FLOWERS AND GETTING LOST – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
THE FOOL – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
TWAS THE NIGHT ‘FORE IMPEACHMENT – NOT BY TOM CURLEY More stats 62
HOUDINI DOG – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 62
SPIKY PINK CACTUS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
FAME: TO BE THE GREATEST EVER – Garry Armstrong More stats 62
SKULKING IN THE SHADOWS — Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
INDULGE AND INDULGENCES – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
MOVIE NIGHT STARRING GARRY “THE LEGEND” ARMSTRONG – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
PEDIATRIC RELIGION – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
HUMANS RIGHTS — Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
IT TOLLS FOR THEE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
NOT A PENNY FROM ME OR MINE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
MASSED SQUIRRELS ATTACK RURAL HOME SLAUGHTERING RETIREE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
A PET GOAT? – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 61
MY HOME TOWN – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
PROVOCATIVE QUESTION – CONTROLLING OUR LIVES – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
TERM LIMITS ARE A REALLY BAD IDEA – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
ORGANIZING THE PAST – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 61
WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
ANYWAY ANYWAY ANYWAY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
HAPPY BIRTHDAY OLE BLUE EYES – GARRY ARMSTRONG More stats 61
VICTIMS OR PERPETRATORS? TAKE YOUR BEST GUESS! – Garry Armstrong More stats 61
google-search-screen More stats 61
VARIETY IS MY SPICE FOR LIFE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
IT’S JUST A MATTER OF BALANCE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
A FEW PICTURES OF BIRD USING NEW VERSIONS OF TOPAZ STUDIO 2 – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
GOBLINS AND PUMPKINS BY THE ROAD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE HAPPY TO GET A PHONE CALL? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
YEARS OF BRASS, YEARS OF GOLD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
IS ANYONE LISTENING? — Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
IT’S THE LITTLE STUFF THAT GETS ME – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
FUN WITH FAKE NEWS — TOM CURLEY More stats 61
THE CHANGING SEASONS – SEPTEMBER 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
NEVER AGAIN? – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 61
selling soul to the devil More stats 60
IMMORTALITY AND AGING – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
RASPY FOR THAT FIRST ANNOYING CALL OF THE MORNING – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
YOU KNOW HOW TO WHISTLE, DON’T YOU? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
BLOGGING BETWEEN MADNESS AND SANITY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
STICKS AND STONES by Garry Armstrong More stats 60
INHERIT THE WIND (1960) – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
WHEN THEY CANCEL YOUR MEDICATIONS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
YESTERDAY WHEN MY WORLD WAS YOUNG – Garry Armstrong More stats 60
YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO LISTEN TO THE FIFTH DENTIST! – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 60
PASS ME THE MEGAPHONE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
OF ALL THE GIN JOINTS IN TOWN … — Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
MODERN CAPITALISM AND CORPORATE CORRUPTION IN ONE MEME – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
GREEN GREEN, IT’S GREEN THEY SAY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
BLACK & WHITE GEOMETRIC PHOTOGRAPHY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
BUSY, SNOWY DAY AROUND THE BIRD FEEDER – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
BENCHES BY THE RIVERS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
ASK A SILLY QUESTION – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
A MOST UNUSUAL HOBBY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
HE’S NOT A MAN, HE’S A CHICKEN, BOO – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 60
RURAL LIFE AND THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
BLUE JULY AND UP IN THE AIR! – Garry Armstrong More stats 60
ESAU WAS A HAIRY MAN … Presented by Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
EARLY RISER – A NEW NOVEL BY JASPER FFORDE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
WHEN YOU GET TOO OLD TO BE COST-EFFECTIVE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
THAT GOOD OLD RULE OF THIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong 60
ROMANTIC BLUE IN JULY – Marilyn Armstrong

The one post that, with the help of Judy Dykstra-Brown (lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown) was actually published. But it didn’t make the popularity list. It was probably my best writing of the year and it was really nice to see an article in print again! Like print, as in “paper”!

The post was “BE HOME BEFORE THE LIGHTS COME ON” and if we are going by “well-written” rather than “most popular,” I think this one wins the cup. Thank you Judy, for ALL your help! I literally could not have done it without you!

Some of my personal favorites (and I didn’t write all of them) are bold and in red, but there are other pretty good pieces, especially in the not as popular section. I’m glad I did this. Now, if ONLY I could remember the titles of other really good ones. Pathetic, isn’t it?

THE CHANGING SEASONS, DECEMBER 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong

The Changing Seasons, December 2019

The weather has definitely become an issue around here. We got some snow at the end of November and then again at the beginning of December. That appears to have been winter.

Since then, we’ve had heavy rain, a week of bitterly cold days, a few light dustings of snow, a lot of days so warm we had to put flea and tick collars back on the dogs because the moment the temperature goes into the 50s and 60s, the fleas and ticks pop up as if summer never ended.

For those who are waiting for climate change to show up, I have a flash for them. It’s here.

Many of us already live in hotspots where the temperature has met or exceeded the 2 degree Celsius level. The seasons are changing. Autumn is vanishing … and apparently, so is winter. The bugs are going to have a real field day this year since they’ve never died off.

Most large American cities are hotspots. All of Australia and Tasmania are in trouble. I suspect most major cities on every continent are already at, over, or approaching the tipping point. Between the fires, mudslides, giant storms, floods, polar ice melting … it’s here. Now. We are in it. Some places more obviously than others. I do not think we have a decade or two to fix our climate problems and I don’t see any evidence that we are doing anything positive to deal with the changing climate or our planetary ecology.

I’m trying to find something about which to be optimistic, but I’m not having much success.

Nuthatch and incoming Bluebird

Frozen woods

Carolina Wren

A huge Tufted Titmice!

Ice everywhere

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to Su Leslie’s original post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

 

OPTIMISM SEEMS A BIT MISPLACED AT THE MOMENT – Marilyn Armstrong

I started reading an article about what’s going on in Tasmania and Australia. The apocalyptic heat. The fires. The dying animals. The dying giant kelp. Dead koalas falling from the trees. I got about halfway through the article and couldn’t read anymore.

I am trying to keep my hopes up but it’s hard going. We are having a non-winter. A few days of cold, a bit of snow, then the temperature zips up to shirtsleeve levels again. And still, the idiot in the White House keeps making it worse. Then there’s the moron in Brazil burning down the rain forest because things aren’t bad enough.

That was the most depressing newspaper article I’ve ever read. If you have any doubt that climate change is real, check it out for yourself. Following is just a piece of it. If you are subscribed to the Washington Post, you can use the link under the title to read the whole thing. Otherwise, these are sections. Maybe as much as you can handle.


2°C: BEYOND THE LIMIT
On land, Australia’s rising heat is ‘apocalyptic.’ In the ocean, it’s worse.

BRUNY ISLAND, Tasmania — Even before the ocean caught fever and reached temperatures no one had ever seen, Australia’s ancient giant kelp was cooked.

Australia is a poster child for climate change. Wildfires are currently raging on the outskirts of its most iconic city and drought is choking a significant portion of the country.

Nearly 100 fires are burning in New South Wales, nearly half of them out of control. Residents of the state, where Sydney sits, wear breathing masks to tolerate the heavy smoke, which has drifted more than 500 miles south to the outskirts of Melbourne.

This is happening even though average atmospheric temperatures in Australia have yet to increase by 2 degrees Celsius.

The ocean is another story.

A stretch of the Tasman Sea right along Tasmania’s eastern coast has already warmed by just a fraction below 2 degrees Celsius, according to ocean temperature data from the Hadley Center, the U.K. government research agency on climate change.

The bats, called flying foxes, cannot survive temperatures above 42 degrees Celsius. Another 10,000 black flying foxes, a different species, also died. Bodies plopped into meadows, backyard gardens and swimming pools.

A month later, more than 100 ringtail possums fell dead in Victoria when temperatures topped 35 degrees Celsius for four consecutive days.

The warming waters off Tasmania are not just killing the giant kelp, but transforming life for marine animals.

Warm-water species are swimming south to places where they could not have survived a few years ago. Kingfish, sea urchins, zooplankton and even microbes from the warmer north near the mainland now occupy waters closer to the South Pole.

“There’s about 60 or 70 species of fish that now have established populations in Tasmania that used not to be here,” said Craig Johnson, who leads the ecology and biodiversity center at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania. “You might see them occasionally as sort of vagrants, but they certainly did not have established populations.”

But the region’s indigenous cold-water species have no place to go. Animals such as the prehistoric-looking red handfish are accustomed to the frigid water closer to the shore. They cannot live in the deep-water abyss between the bottom tip of Tasmania and Antarctica.

“It’s a geographic climate trap,” Johnson said. Marine animals unique to Australia — the wallabies and koalas of the deep — could easily vanish. “So there’s going to be a whole bunch of species here that we expect will just go extinct.

“You know, it’s not a happy story.”

“It’s getting hotter and that heat, it’s affecting not only the giant kelp, but the color of the abalone is changing,” Dillon said.

“We just take too much out of the Earth and we don’t put it back,” Dillon said. “Australia is one of the worst if you know about coal. How much coal do we need to dig up? And we’re too stupid to see what this is causing . . . because we make money out of it.”

And now, Australia is caught in a record-breaking heatwave. 

The apocalypse

The heartbreaking video went viral late in November: A koala bear slowly walked through wildfire.

The marsupial, euthanized days later because its burns didn’t heal, was just one victim of the many wildfires that started burning in the Australian spring and are still going at the start of summer.

At least nine people have died and 700 homes have been destroyed. One woman in New South Wales took a few of her house’s charred remains to Australia’s Parliament in early December with a message for Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“Morrison, your climate crisis destroyed my home,” Melinda Plesman wrote in bold red letters.

Morrison is an ardent supporter of coal excavation in a country that produced 44 million tons in 2017. Australia is the world’s leading exporter of coal, mostly to Asia, and the fourth-largest producer.

A few weeks before the koala — nicknamed Lewis — was euthanized, the newly re-elected prime minister took his advocacy for coal to a new level. He pledged to outlaw environmental demonstrations, calling the protests a “new breed of radical activism” that is “apocalyptic in tone.”

One month later, a Sydney Morning Herald headline described conditions in Australia’s most iconic city as “apocalyptic,” as residents choked in a smoky haze from bush fires. A coalition of doctors and climate researchers declared it a public health emergency.

The bush fires have arrived amid record heat and particularly dry conditions that experts say are being made more common thanks to climate change.

Fire!

The country experienced a five-day heatwave in the state of Victoria that shattered records. The Friday before Christmas was the hottest December day on record, measuring 47.9 degrees Celsius at the Horsham weather station.

Rescuers searching for human survivors in the scorched remains of forests have discovered koalas, a creature found only in Australia, burned to death in eucalyptus trees where they sought shelter. At the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, where Lewis was put down, it was called “a national tragedy.”

The tragedy playing out underwater is much worse, but invisible to most.


There is quite a bit more and these are clips, not the entire piece. If for some reason you are still convinced that this is some kind of overblown rhetoric by a crazy bunch of scientists, take a look at maps and see if you are living in an area that has already met or exceeded the 2 degree Celsius limit. This area already has. New Jersey has.

So I’m going to try and not think about this right now. I’m going to try to believe that we can fix this. Somehow, some way. Because the time we thought we had isn’t really there. This is terrifying information and it affects ALL of us. You can make yourself a billionaire, but when the world is on fire, your money won’t make the flames disappear.

VIOLENCE, VIOLENCE! – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My husband is a sweet and gentle man. He is not aggressive and doesn’t have a violent bone in his body. Yet he spends hours a day watching violence on TV, in movies and actively participating in it with video games. What is going on? His appetite for onscreen blood and gore is unfathomable and unsettling to me.

He says that it’s all make believe, that none of it is real. But my problem is that to me, it’s all way too realistic. I have no tolerance whatsoever for any kind of on screen blood and guts. I can’t even watch realistic operating room scenes on my TV medical shows. The sight of someone getting an injection makes me cringe, let alone someone being sliced and diced, even by a pretend doctor. I am a total wuss.

I may have become more sensitive as I get older. Or maybe it’s just that the entertainment industry has taken onscreen violence to another level. It’s more extreme and more gruesome these days. It’s also more graphic and much more realistic looking.

Onscreen violence used to be more suggested and less in your face. When someone got shot or hit on the head, they just fell down and maybe bled a little. Now, wounds are gaping, flesh is torn, internal organs are everywhere and blood is all over everything.

I can’t handle it. I could deal with pretending that someone’s hand was cut off. But in a recent episode of my favorite show, “Outlander”, the cutting off of the hand looked so real I almost lost my dinner. This is true everywhere in the mainstream now, not just on the military, underworld, superhero or shoot ‘em up shows.

There is so much fighting and brutality on TV and in movies. People seem to be more inhuman to each other, and also more creative in their violence. Torture is portrayed, again realistically, all the time. People don’t just shoot each other or stab each other, they use more inventive and sicker ways to inflict pain and suffering.

The world is portrayed these days as a much more brutal place. Man’s inhumanity to man is front and center and perverse sadists are everywhere you look. Many shows are very dark. They are dark in theme as well as lighting. I can tolerate some, like “The Blacklist” and “Blindspot.” But some — like “Gotham” — are over the top for me.

They portray the underside of life, the worst of the worst, the ugliest of the ugly. The public’s appetite for darkness, crime, and plain meanness seem boundless.

Close to half the shows my husband watches on TV, he watches without me. I can’t stomach them. If I did try to watch them, I think I’d be depressed and anxious all the time. I know there is horrible stuff going on out there. But I can’t focus on it or wallow in it. I can’t even bear to read stories about cruelty to animals or children. If I think about it, I become obsessed with awful images and I literally feel sick.

I need to spend most of my time dealing with the normal and the positive. I get enough angst from reading and watching the news. I don’t need to add to that by watching sadism and butchery as entertainment. There is enough crazy and destructive going on in the government, I don’t need to watch pretend craziness and destruction on television in my downtime.

Please let me keep some of my illusions about people having common sense and caring about each other. If I can’t keep some of these fantasies alive, I don’t think I’ll ever make it out of bed.

COMRADE LEADER AND THE BLOGSTERS – Rich Paschall

A SERENDIPITY Fractured Spy Tale, by Rich Paschall

It was a long hall with high, vaulted ceilings, elegantly appointed with gold-leaf trim. The walls were appropriately red on the upper two thirds, with an elegant dark cherry wood wainscoting below. Down the middle of the hall ran a long table made of the finest dark wood. It could seat 20 comrades along each side. The room was empty now, except for the big man seated at the head of the table.

He was patiently waiting in the Great Hall of the Central Committee. The room was quiet and serene, just like the meetings presided over by the big man. As he sat admiring a portrait of himself, Comrade Number Eight entered the room and walked to the front of the hall. Number Eight stood at attention and waited to be acknowledged.

“Report!” ordered the man at the head of the table.

“Comrade Leader,” Number Eight began. “I am pleased to report the success of our blog writers in foreign lands. Already today, six more articles have been posted. They are all well received, especially the ones we have designated as coming from ‘news’ sites.”

“What is the most popular story you have planted recently?” the Leader inquired.

“Comrade Leader, we have reported that the main opponent of our appointed foreign leader is running a scandalous sex ring from the back of a Taco truck.”

The Leader of the Federation looks a bit confused at this.  “Taco Truck? What do you mean?”

“Comrade Leader…” said Number Eight hesitantly. All reports began by addressing “Comrade Leader” but from there he was not sure how to proceed on this one.

“This is a truck that travels around the streets selling food. Tacos, Tortas, Burritos.”

“And the political opponent runs a ‘sex ring’ from such a truck?”

“Yes, Comrade Leader.”

“And the people of that nation believe this story?”

“Oh yes, Comrade Leader. We placed the story on several blogs and it was picked up and distributed by other blog sites. It has even been run by some news stations.  It has many ‘shares’ and ‘likes’ on social media. It is being spread all around the country.”

At that. the Big Man, Head Mister of all the Misters on the Central Committee, stared at Number Eight with the most incredulous look Comrade Leader had ever given anyone. After a brief moment, he roared with laughter.  He was laughing so hard he nearly fell out of his high backed leather chair. Number Eight felt he could finally relax and laughed a little bit too.

“Have you designated a particular truck?” the important man wanted to know.

“No sir, Comrade Leader, sir. There are many of these trucks in the big cities and we wish to throw suspicion on all of them. With a little more prodding, we think the people will start attacking some of them.”

The leader laughed some more.

“Next week, Comrade Leader, we are going to have our asset speculate that these trucks are all run by illegal aliens and should be shut down. He will try to make a link between the illegals, his opponent and the sex ring. They are all selling prostitutes to fund the political campaign against our appointed one.”

“Stop, you’re killing me,” the boss man said as he was laughing so hard his sides began to hurt. “This is the funniest thing I have heard in years. Your team has done excellent work and brought me great joy. You will receive the People’s Medal for your achievement.”

“Thank You, Comrade Leader. I am very… (pause) pleased… that you are… (pause) pleased… sir” Number Eight puffed out his chest and stood in the Great Hall with a large smile on his face. It would not last long.

“Now, Number Eight, tell me how our special agents, Boris and Natasha, are doing on their secret mission.”

Number Eight looked down at the carpet that covered the floor beneath his feet. He did not know how to explain what was happening.

“I am sorry to say, Comrade Leader, that our operatives in the foreign land have not yet completed their assignment. We still have high hopes that they will succeed soon.”

“What has been the problem for them so far?” the leader of Covert Operations wanted to know.

“Sir, at every turn in the road they have been thwarted by two other agents who seem to be of superior intelligence.”

“I see, have you identified these other agents? We must deal with them severely.”

“No, Comrade Leader, but we have learned their code names, ‘Moose’ and ‘Squirrel.'”

The big man nodded his head knowingly as if he had encountered these crafty beasts before.

True patriots — American Heroes!

YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO LISTEN TO THE FIFTH DENTIST! – BY TOM CURLEY

“Four out of Five Dentists agree Trident Gum is the best.”


We’ve all heard that commercial or any of its variations. The logic is, if a majority of experts agree on something, it’s probably the truth.

Every time I would see one of those spots my first thought was always “What does that fifth dentist have to say?” I imagined it would be something like.

“Trident Gum sucks! Brush your teeth with chocolate!

Sugar is good for your teeth!!
Dental hygiene is a hoax! It’s a vast conspiracy by a deep state cabal of evil dentists owned by toothpaste companies!
They’re fluoridating our water for mind control!!”

You get the idea. The point is, you’re not supposed to listen to the fifth dentist or the 10th doctor.

But today that’s exactly what approximately one-third of the country is doing. The Republican party and all the Trump supporters only listen to the fifth dentist. And he’s fucking insane. Drill baby drill!

You saw it during the impeachment hearings. The Judiciary committee called on four constitutional scholars to explain why impeachment is important. Three of them were adamant and in total agreement that the impeachment clause was written for exactly this president. They unequivocally said that we HAD to impeach this idiot.

And then there was the fourth guy. He hemmed and hawed and said that maybe he did some stuff wrong but impeaching him would be mean. Or something like that. But every Republican-held him up as proof positive that, well, impeachment is mean. And mean people suck.

And then there is the ultimate fifth dentist.
Fox News.

I worked for over 40 years at CBS. Mostly in the news division. In any network news control room is a bank of monitors that everybody can see.  On them are all of the other news network feeds. In our case, NBC, ABC, PBS, CNN, MSNBC,

and Fox News.

One of the things that always drove me crazy was that every day, we would spend hours and hours planning a half-hour news show. We would determine the “line up”, i.e. the stories we would report and the order in which we would report them.

If you watched all the news shows, you’d see them all report the same stories. Why? Because that was what the news was on that day! (Duh) The only real difference was the order in which the stories were reported.

Every night, as the show started, one of the senior producers would be watching all the other network feeds and suddenly scream! NBC is running the (fill in the blank) story first! We have to change the whole line up!! So, now the director would have to frantically re-arrange scripts, the poor tape operators would have to kick the tapes they had cued up out of the machines and frantically try to find the new ones, the font’s would be all out of order.

The control room would descend into chaos. I used to sit there in the audio booth shouting “What the hell are you doing? Nobody at home is watching five televisions!! If they’re watching CBS, they have no idea what’s on ABC or NBC. And they don’t care!”

But today we have a new phenomenon. Fox News doesn’t run the same stories as everybody else. They make shit up. I know, I worked there, briefly. They were always bad, but since Adolf Twittler got elected, they’ve gone off the deep end.

Conspiracy theories are the news over there. As the naked emperor descends ever further into madness, they twist themselves into mathematically impossible shapes to defend him and pretend everything he says is true.

A Fox News poll came out the other day saying that a majority of Americans want the president impeached and removed and the clowns on the Fox morning show short-circuited. I could see the techs coming onto the set during the commercial to re-set the circuit boards in all three hosts because they were fried.

Does not compute. Does not compute. Does not compute.

And yet, somehow, according to Republicans, all of the media is fake news. Except for Fox. The fifth dentist.

Climate change is a hoax!
Caravans of evil rapists and terrorists are invading America.
Toddlers and children are not being held in concentration camps! They’re summer camps!
Liberals want to eat your children!
Brush your teeth with chocolate!”

You can believe in your own reality, but that doesn’t make it real. To all Republicans and Trump supporters: STOP LISTENING TO THE FIFTH DENTIST!

And stop brushing your teeth with chocolate. It’s going to ruin your dinner. And your teeth.

BIRD OF THE WEEK – Marilyn Armstrong

With some time available, I took these pictures and spent hours messing with the software. I still don’t think I’ve quite got them exactly how I want them, but I think they are okay. These are two pictures of the same chip. I have more, but they are all similar, I haven’t done anything with the rest of them. Yet.

Taking off

Yet one more Tufted Titmouse.

READING UNDER THE COVERS – Marilyn Armstrong

If reading were illegal, I’d have spent my life in prison. The most frightening book I ever read was Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. I couldn’t imagine anything more terrifying than a life with no books.

As a kid, I literally read myself cross-eyed, but today, I have been redeemed by audiobooks. Early during the 1990s, I discovered audiobooks. I was a “wrong way” commuter, which meant my commute started in Boston and took me out to the suburbs. This was supposed to make the drive easier than going the other way.

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The reality was different. Traffic was heavy in all directions, from Boston or from the suburbs. The east-west commute was nominally less awful than the north-south commutes, though coming from the north shore down to Boston was and is still probably the worst commute anywhere.

When we lived in Boston on the 17th floor of Charles River Park, we had a perfect view of the Charles River … and an even better view of 93 northbound. We could look out the window any time of the day or night. It was bumper to bumper as far as the eye could see every day of the week, any time of day or night. Garry had a 5-minute walk to work. I always drove somewhere. You’d think at least once during the more than 29 years Garry and I have been together I’d have found one job near home. Funny how that never happened.

In New England, you do not measure a commute by distance. Distance is irrelevant. It’s how long it takes that matters. No one talks in terms of miles. The mall is half an hour away. Boston is about an hour in good traffic, who knows how long in rush hour traffic. It can take you 2 hours to go six miles, but maybe you can travel 15 miles in half an hour. In which case 15 miles is the shorter commute. Ask anyone.

My commute was never short. Wherever my work took me, it was never convenient, except for those wonderful periods when I worked at home and had to go to the “office” only occasionally. The 1990s were serious commuting years. Boston to Amesbury, Boston to Burlington, Boston to Waltham.

A Kindle and a Bluetooth speaker for listening to audiobooks

It got worse. By 2000, we had moved to Uxbridge. It’s never easier to get from Uxbridge to anywhere, except one of the other Valley towns … and I never worked in any of them. Probably because there is no work there …

As jobs got ever more scarce and I got older and less employable, I found myself commuting longer distances. First, Providence, Rhode Island, which wasn’t too bad. But after that, I had to drive to Groton, Connecticut a few times a week — 140 miles each way — a good deal of it on unlit, unmarked local roads. It was a killer commute and unsurprisingly, I was an early GPS adopter. Even though I didn’t have to do it every day, Groton did me in.

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Hudson was almost as bad, and Amesbury was no piece of cake either. The distance from Uxbridge to Newton was not far as the crow flies, but since I was not a crow, it was a nightmare. On any Friday afternoon, it took more than three hours to go twenty some odd miles. On Friday afternoons in the summer when everyone was taking off on for the weekend, I found myself battling not merely regular commuter traffic, but crazed vacationers, desperate to get out of Dodge.

The job market had become unstable, and it seemed every time I turned around, I was working in a different part of the Commonwealth or in another state entirely. If it weren’t for audiobooks, I’d probably have needed a rubber room.

First, I discovered Books On Tape. Originally intended as books for the blind, I and a million other commuters discovered them during the mid-1990s. They were a godsend. Instead of listening to the news, talk radio, or some jabbering DJ, I could drift off into whatever world of literature I could pop into my car’s cassette player.

I bought a lot of audiobooks and as cassettes began to disappear and everything was on CD, Books On Tape ceased renting books to the consumer market. Fortunately, audiobooks had become downright popular and were available at book stores like Barnes and Noble. Everybody was listening and most of us couldn’t imagine how we’d survived before audiobooks.

In 2002, along came Audible.com. At first, it was a bit of a problem, figuring out how to transport audible books into your car, but technology came up with MP3 players and widgets that let you plug your player, whatever it is, into your car’s sound system.

Audible started off modestly, but grew and grew and having been acquired by Amazon is getting bigger by the minute. For once, I don’t mind a bit. The company was well run before Amazon, and Amazon had the good sense to not mess with success. It is still easy to work with them, literally a pleasure doing business.

Taste of my Audible library …

Ten years ago, I became too sick to work anymore. Would that mean giving up audiobooks? Not on your life. When I was nearly dead, I listened to books and they distracted me from pain and fear, kept me company when I was alone and wondering if I’d live to see morning. Sometimes, they made me laugh in the midst of what can only be described as a time when humor is at a premium.

Today, I listen as I do everything except writing. I can listen to books as I play games, edit photographs, or pay bills. I admit I cannot listen and write at the same time. That seems to be the point where multi-tasking ends. Actually, I can’t do anything while I write except write. I get a lot of reading done while accomplishing the computerized tasks of life, not to mention turning hours of mindless messing around into valuable reading time. I am, in effect always reading.

Reading in Bed: My Guilty Pleasure

I read at night on my Kindle using a good little Bluetooth speaker. Reading in bed has always been my biggest guilty pleasure. I remember reading in my bedroom under the covers using a flashlight, or worse, trying to read from the sliver of light coming from the hallway nightlight, or, if everything else failed, by the light of a bright moon.

“You’ll ruin your eyes” cried my mother who probably had snuck books into her bed and read by candlelight.

To this day, I don’t know why she didn’t just let me turn a light on. She had to know I was going to read anyhow. She was always reading too. In fact, if books were my addiction, she was my dealer. Even in today’s politically correct world, giving your kid too many books to read is not yet considered child abuse. I think there was some kind of law in her generation that kids had to go to bed by a specific time, whether or not they were sleepy. It was the eleventh commandment.

My love affair with literature in all its forms continues. My tastes change, favorite authors move up or down the list. I go through phases: all history, nothing but fantasy, a run of thrillers, a series of biographies. Getting older has few advantages but there is one huge gift — time. I often get so involved in a book that I look up and realize that oops, the sun is coming up and I’ve lost another night’s sleep. But now, I can sleep in. Not all day, but enough to not be exhausted in the morning — depending on when the dogs decide it’s time to bark.

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I don’t have to commute anymore. I don’t have to leap out of bed and in 15 minutes, shower, dress, put on makeup, and chop the ice off my car windows. I can stay up late whether it’s for reading, \writing, or watching movies. No one can make me stop. There are no official bedtime hours for senior citizens.

I knew there has to be some benefit to the whole age thing.

Climate Change–Everyone is a long story

Giving up is NOT an option. We’ve lived with the fire and now we have to finally, at long last, figure out how to put it out. Once and for all, end the burning.

Views from the Edge

David Kanigan’s Sunday Morning introduced me to Niall Williams’s words and a photograph of architecture from Berlin. “We are our stories. We tell them to stay alive or keep alive those who only live now in the telling. In Faha, County Clare, everyone is a long story….” — Niall Williams, History of the Rain.

HEARING AND TELLING STORIES

Pondering Williams’ short sentence reminded me of Frederick Buechner’s Telling Secrets. We don’t just have stories. We ARE our stories. And our stories contain secrets.

I’m imagining a scene that will not happen in real time. There is a large room. Folding wooden chairs have been arranged in a huge circle. Members of Congress and their staff members are sitting there. There is no assigned seating. Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi are there.

Adam Schiff and Doug Collins are there. Scattered among the tailored suits and silk ties are…

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MARCHING FOR THE CAUSE? NOT EXACTLY. – Marilyn Armstrong

So the question was:

“If your day-to-day responsibilities were taken care of and you could throw yourself completely behind a cause, what would it be?”

You mean other than loathing our current president? The answer is I wouldn’t. I can and do write about it, the evil minions in our capital. When I have a spare $5, I try to make some kind of minimal contribution. Otherwise, in the immortal words of Phil Ochs, “I ain’t marchin’ anymore.”

I marched against war and for peace.

I marched for civil rights.

I campaigned for universal health care and free care for anyone who needs it.

I marched against evil and for justice all my life and now, it’s time for a younger generation with better feet and hips to do the marching. I’m not sure, after all that marching whether or not I even accomplished anything … other than to make denim a fashion fabric. Now, with my spine a mangled wreck of arthritis and just plain falling-apartness, my marching days are done.

So far, at least, the world spins and night follows day whether or not I can get my feet moving.

If you are marching, good luck. Take a few sandwiches and something to drink. And wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be glad you did.

A LITTLE SOMETHING WITH WORDPRESS – Marilyn Armstrong

I write comments, but when I go back and look, they are gone. Likes appear, then vanish. If I don’t seem to be responding, it isn’t that I’m not. It’s that my comments are vanishing. If I discover one missing, I try to replace it. But sometimes the second one doesn’t “take” either.

I’m hoping this is one of those problems that will take care of itself. Since I wasn’t writing new posts, I’ve had time to read other people’s work and commented on almost everything … and I have a funny feeling that my comments never made it. And today, I have no new email, either. None. instead of the few hundred I get, there’s nothing at all.

It’s all weird, but part of our special high-end service from WordPress.

But just so you know, I have been doing a LOT of commenting but how much of it appears I don’t know. And I haven’t gotten any notices of new posts from ANYONE tonight.

Nothing at all. Has everyone stopped writing? All at the same time?

WINTER YET TO COME – Rich Paschall

Winter In The Air, Rich Paschall

It’s not in the air now. It was, but not now. Back in late October winter arrived before we could even rake up all the leaves. In fact, many of the trees still had their leaves. There was no chance to clean up. And snow appeared in time for Halloween.

The problem with early snow is that the Streets and Sanitation Department takes that as the sign to put away the street sweepers and bring out the snowplows. November remained cold, but little additional snow was ever sighted. The leaves came down throughout the month.

Then December brought warmer temperatures. We actually had several days in the ’60s and expect at least one more warm day. I raked leaves December 22 and 23rd in the pleasant fall weather.

No worries about Winter, however.  He will be here soon. You will feel it in the air.