Typhoid Trump

Typhoid Trump refers to “typhoid Mary” who managed to spread the disease while never getting sick. He is a prime example of what NOT to do in this strange time in which we are living.

THE SHINBONE STAR

Every time I watch the president pontificate about how fantastic everything is being handled with this latest global pandemic, COVID-19, I feel less reassured, more anxious. From my point of view, nothing seems to be going well at all.

You see, I’m a family doctor. I’m on the front lines of this pandemic. People are starting to call in and show up at the office with symptoms. I don’t have any tests. There are no tests. I have swabs. I can use a culture medium that I already have for other disease testing, swab the nose with one swab, swab the throat with another, then ask the health department if they will do the test. They can say no. I don’t get to decide.

I don’t have near enough gowns or masks.

I watched the president’s press conference during which he wore a blue hat with “USA” on it and…

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A BEAUTIFUL DAY TO BE ISOLATED – Marilyn Armstrong

Something to Pass the Time While in Isolation

Anyone want to sing along? Last night, they really started to clamp down. Apparently warning people wasn’t doing the job. There are a lot of awfully selfish people. I’m sure that in the time of the Black Plague, these are the people who went dancing in the streets, just to make sure everyone got it. Of course, The Black Plague was far more lethal than this virus, but for me, it’s the same. With two implanted valves, a Pacemaker, and a complete redesign of my left ventricle, not to mention cancer that preceded it and of course, my age, I’m exactly the person on the top of the “most vulnerable” chart. I got a call from the hospital this morning where Garry’s appointment was canceled because it’s not an emergency asking me if I wanted to reschedule.

I said I watched a lot of news last night and came out of it knowing exactly what I knew when I started watching, which is not much. For all who think if I’m not dead yet, there’s nothing to worry about, you ARE the people who are most likely to be my personal poisoned arrows.

Meanwhile, it’s a beautiful day. The birds are happy, the flowers are growing, though the garden is a mess. It’s lucky we don’t go out much anyhow. We aren’t going to miss any big parties or concerts. We are hanging out with the dogs, the orchids,d the birds. Watering plants, filling feeders on a sunny day that looks like spring has sprung, except it hasn’t yet. Another week, though, and it will be official.

This was the last one on the chip from this morning

I got a call from an old friend in New York last night. No snow there, either. Not even what we call a “winter.” A lot of the weather has been so warm, a sweatshirt over a light sweater was enough and I’ve been up and around the deck in my socks (I really give my socks a hard workout) and shirtsleeves.

I haven’t seen the overnight shots yet, but something was very hungry because the fancy “trail mix” food in the big feeder is down to less than half and we filled it last night after sunset when all the birds had gone home to their trees. I wonder if it was raccoons, flying squirrels, or both.

I actually took these pictures this morning.

This was the next to the last picture on the chip. I got a little bit impressionistic. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

These are the last one and the next-to-last one taken this morning. I have another chip in my other camera. It’s the camera that has the macro lens on it, so it’s full of orchids. I want to take more pictures later, so I left that chip in the camera.

I’m sure no one is surprised that these are Goldfinches. Young ones who are still changing color. Yesterday, though I didn’t take pictures of them, there were Cardinals, boy and girl, and a few different woodpeckers as well as Titmouses and quite a few Chipping Sparrows as well as a pair of Carolina Wrens. A lot of the time, I don’t try to shoot because as soon as they see the big black camera, they fly away. They come back, but sometimes I have to wait a long time until they show up.

Even so, I’m lucky to grab a few pictures before they are off again. Unless I want to stand there for half an hour to an hour with the camera hoisted up (this is the BIG lens, so it’s got some weight to it), trying to not move at all, watching is fun. But I admit, it doesn’t make great pictures for Serendipity!

I got to thinking last night not only about old people like me who have heart problems but other people. For example, anyone with transplanted organs as well as those who donated the organs. They may not be old, but they are in danger.

All the diabetics I know … there are so many of them. The people with MS and Lupus and other illnesses that don’t necessarily show. Including a lot of people who have underlying ailments about which they don’t even.

I suppose this could be one way to lower the cost of medical care in this country. Wipe out the sick, the elderly, or anyone under treatment. It would greatly reduce the pressure on hospitals and doctor’s offices. And just like the years following the Plague in Europe, there would be plenty of jobs and nursing homes would have more than enough room.

A GLOBAL TOILET PAPER SHORTAGE! HOLY SH$T! – Marilyn Armstrong

No matter how long I live, I think the memory that will linger longer than any other is the absence of toilet paper. There’s no TP in Massachusetts, even out here in the boonies. No TP in Boston. No TP in Texas, Utah, California, or Canada. Or Australia. So far, they are holding steady in Switzerland, but they are not organizationally challenged.

They just closed all the restaurants and bars in Chicago and parts of New Jersey. Can Massachusetts be far behind?


NOTE: Two hours after I wrote this, the Governor was on TV announcing the closure of restaurants statewide and a very short opening of bars. No bars in Boston? There could be RIOTS!


Speaking of behinds, is this really because of the TP shortage? Maybe they don’t want to feed us because you know, what goes in must come out?

In a lot of places, there’s a shortage of food. Not here, probably because we are a low-density population area. You just don’t find a lot of crowds in Worcester County. Nonetheless, the hospital called to say all non-emergency appointments are canceled and they will call us when they are ready to re-schedule. I’m counting on our lack of population to help control spreading in this area.

I’m alert but not worried. Why worry? What’s going to happen will happen, whether or not I worry.

Did anyone ever imagine living under plague conditions with the worst president ever at the helm? I didn’t think so. For the medievalists in my following, if this doesn’t remind you of the 14th century, nothing will. And the irony is that with all our “advances,” we have nothing that can stop this virus except luck and time.

SHARING MY WORLD AND OH WHAT A WORLD IT IS! – By Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 2.0


Questions: 

What harsh truths do you prefer to ignore?

All of them, thank you. But I don’t because I can’t. I’m sort of the fixer around here, so unless I want to find us out on the street or living in our very small car, what I need to deal with, I need to deal with. There’s no choice.

Is free will real or just an illusion?

I think we all have some free will, but it’s not unlimited. It’s as if you are in a special room that was made just for you. You can sit in any of the sofas or chairs, eat at the table, watch TV. Do anything the room allows, but you can’t leave the room. This is your room.

We all think we have free will until we hit a trench in the road and the bus falls into the hole. Some things we can control. Over many others, we have no control. With all our will focused on the issue, we can’t do anything about it.

Right now, we are waiting for Coronavirus to arrive or not. Will we get it? I hope not, but there is no free will involved. We do what we are supposed to do … and then, we wait.

For everything, there is a limit.

What is the meaning of true love?

All I know is that I’ve got a piece of it and I like it very much! What it means? I’m not sure it means anything. It just IS.


As for all the questions about St. Patrick, I admit I don’t know anything about him. I could look him up on Google, but what would be the fun of that? We did spend three weeks in Ireland. Does that count? And yes, it is indeed a very green country. A very beautiful and green country.

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MY OLD HOUSE AS B&B – BY ELLIN CURLEY

In 1933, my father bought 40 acres of farmland in Easton, Connecticut for around $10,000. In 1934, he built a beautiful, stone Tudor house on a hill overlooking a field. The house was built by stonemasons from Italy who had been working on church projects in Italy when the depression hit and they were put out of work.

There was also a stone garage on the other side of a large circular driveway and a beautiful stone retaining wall edging the front and side lawns. My dad also dug a pond in the field at the bottom of the hill that could be seen from the house.

In 1948 my father married my mother and I was born the next year. We all spent winters in New York City where my parents were both therapists and I went to school, but we spent three months every summer on this idyllic property. (In my teen years, we started to go to the CT house on weekends in the fall and spring as well.)

Porch, other side of house and lawn

My grandparents wanted to be with me as much as possible, so after I was born, they moved across the street from us in NYC and spent summers in my parents’ house in CT. This did not work out too well for my mother. My grandmother (her mother) was critical and intrusive and she drove Mom crazy. So when I was two, my mom convinced my dad to build another house on the property for her parents, to get them out of her house and her hair.

View of pond and fields from house

My parents and grandparents hired an architect and designed a two-family house that was built onto the back of the garage – close enough but not on top of each other. The structure was completed in 1953, commemorated by my handprint in cement next to the front door. One side of the house contained a one-bedroom ‘cottage’ for my grandparents and the other side of the building, but not connected to my grandparents’ house, was another, smaller one-bedroom house for caretakers of the property to live in full time.

Garage and 2nd house

Around the same time, my parents built a swimming pool, next to the pond at the bottom of the hill. That became an endless source of fun for me and my friends and later for my own kids.

Pool

Everyone who came to visit fell in love with the house and the grounds. We always knew we had something special and other people’s enthusiasm confirmed our own, biased opinions.

I loved summers growing up, in part because I could walk back and forth to my grandparents’ house whenever I wanted, which was a lot. I watched Grandma cook and bake and in the fall, my Grandfather and I would pick concord grapes that grew wild near the pond and then I’d help Grandma make them into delicious jam. I also played cards with my Grandparents, watched TV with them and talked endlessly, particularly to my Grandmother.

My Grandfather, unlike my parents, loved to be outdoors. So he and I went on adventures together – we dug for worms and went fishing in the canoe on the pond, we caught frogs, hiked through the woods and explored the stream and waterfall that I look at every day now from my kitchen window. Our dog loved to tag along with us and I’d often find the dog hanging out with my Grandfather on his patio. Grandpa also had a small garden (my mother had a bigger one) and I happily ‘helped’ him with his tomatoes and beans. We also spent hours together in the pool since Grandpa was a great swimmer.

View from pool to house

My grandparents’ house was very simple. It had rote iron furniture on the screened-in porch and standard patio furniture on the patio outside – you know, the kind that had plastic slats on the chairs and lounges. The round plastic table had a hole in the middle for the large umbrella that shaded the table. There was no air conditioning – my Grandmother just opened the windows at night and closed them first thing in the morning. That was the one thing I didn’t like.

The kitchen had the Formica counters of the day and a bright yellow Formica and metal folding table we couldn’t open all the way because the kitchen was too small. The floor was linoleum, changed many years later to a tacky indoor-outdoor carpet. The living room had grey and white stained wood built-in sofas, catty-corner, banquette style in an ugly orange fabric with brown dots. The beautiful wood floor was covered with a beige area rug which was later changed to an appalling wall to wall carpet with a brown background and large orange and beige flowers on it.

The downstairs bathroom tiles were blue-green and the tiny master bathroom had pink tiles with black trim around the room. None of this was particularly attractive in any design period.

My parents’ lawn with lawn furniture

My Grandfather died in 1972 when I was 22 and my Grandmother died in 1975 when I was 25 and had recently married. Before she died, it was decided that my husband and I would move into her house on my parents’ property as a weekend and vacation house. My Grandmother made me promise that I wouldn’t make any major changes to the house, but in truth, we didn’t have the money to redecorate anyway.

We stayed in that small house, as it was, for fourteen years, until our kids were four and nine. (We did add air conditioning but changed little else). At that point, the only living space in the house served as a living room, playroom, and kids’ bedroom. It was constantly cluttered with kids’ toys and was no longer a pleasant place to hang out for long periods. Fortunately, we finally had enough money, with my mother’s help (my father had died), to design and build a beautiful house in the woods behind my Mom’s house, on land that she gifted to us.

Even after the move, we all still spent a lot of time at my mom’s house, at the caretaker’s house (because he had become a dear friend over the 20 years he worked for my mom) and, of course, at the swimming pool, which my kids loved as much as I had growing up.

My mom’s porch and view to lawn

So I spent the first 53 years of my life passionately attached to my parents’ Connecticut property. As a child, I used to make my father promise that he would never sell the house so I could keep it forever. But forever ended in 2002 when my mother died and we had to sell the property to pay my mother’s estate taxes. It broke my heart. It’s the next house down the street from me and for years I would get choked up whenever I drove past my beloved property.

Skip ahead fifteen years. The people who bought my parents’ property had worked in the food industry and in marketing and they loved the property as much as I had. They combined the two halves of my grandparents’/caretaker’s house into one larger house and rented it out. Then they decided to redecorate the house and landscape the backyard/patio AND the pool and patio and turn it all into a B&B!

They created a zen-like garden in my grandparents’ backyard, complete with stone-filled walking paths and a fountain. The additional patio, as well as the plantings, sculptures, and landscaping around the new pool, make it look like an elegant spa or resort.

Patio area behind the house

Gardens on the old lawn of cottage

Now the whole place looks like it belongs in a magazine! It is beautiful, inside and out, classy and high end in every way.

My old living room now

My old bedroom as a room for up to three people

My old pink and black master bathroom

The couple established a catering company that provides breakfasts as well as other meals on request. They cater to banquets, weddings and all other kinds of events, large and small. Their impressive marketing expertise has put their “Fox Pond Farm” on the map. You can go to Fox Pond Farm online and their B&B marketing sites will pop up, complete with beautiful photos.

Catered events at Fox Pond Farm

I am so thrilled that the beautiful, peaceful property I grew up on has reached its full potential as a magnificent place that people can come to for relaxation and enjoyment of country life. It’s odd though to think that I can sleep in my old bedroom at the cottage if I’m willing to pay something like $600! But I’m so glad that lots of other people can get to experience and enjoy the property where I grew up.

CELEBRATING WW3 SINCE WE WON’T HAVE TIME LATER – Marilyn Armstrong

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO NATIONAL BROTHERHOOD WEEK? LET’S START CELEBRATING WORLD WAR THREE TODAY SINCE WE WON ‘T HAVE TIME, LATER.


Way back in the dark ages, the third week in February (an otherwise dreary and neglected month) was designated National Brotherhood Week. As designated special weeks go, it was never a big hit with the general public. In the 1980s, it disappeared. Probably because it failed to sell greeting cards which is probably the point of such created events.

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The National Conference for Christians and Jews (NCCJ) came up with the idea of National Brotherhood Week in 1934. Given the current political climate, maybe we can agree more brotherhood year-round would be an improvement. Sadly, we no longer have even that one, measly week.

February is Black History Month these days. Movie channels run films featuring non-white stars.

The guy who took it seriously — even way back in the old days — was Tom Lehrer. He taught math at Hahvid (Harvard, if you aren’t from around here). He didn’t write a lot of songs since he, till his dying day (which hasn’t occurred yet — he’s alive and living in California), thought of himself as a math teacher who wrote silly songs rather than as an entertainer.

Despite this unfair self-assessment, I’ve always felt Tom got this particular holiday dead to rights. Ya’ think?

He got a lot of stuff right. Check him out on YouTube. He only wrote about 50 songs and most of them are posted in some video or other. Me? I own the CDs.

And because the news has been so … fraught … I thought I’d add a couple  more shockingly relevant songs.

My, how times have not really changed — except we really do have colored TV pretty much everywhere! Facebook and Twitter too.