Once upon a time in a world that has vanished, we dressed to look good. To other people. Remember “other people”? You know. Company for dinner? Visitors for the weekend? Hanging out in the afternoon with friends? How about a friendly conversation with a complete stranger?

Yes, those things used to happen, but no more. These days, we live inside unless it stops raining, in which case we may ramble all the way to the garden! Today I went outside on the back deck. It was warm, sunny, and lovely. Of course, the temperature is dropping tonight and it will rain tomorrow and most of next week, but we had one beautiful Saturday.

Meanwhile, a package came in today. Two packages. One included a rain jacket I ordered when it was on a one day 75% off sale (it’s back up to more money than I would ever spend). A nice bulky red sweater and because it was a two for one sale, a nice-looking pair of pajama pants.

In fact, I think pajamas and all things associated with it are the new dress garb. You can see it on television every night on Colbert’s show. Everyone is wearing pajamas. Some people are actually wearing bathrobes. The really elegantly dressed are wearing a tee shirt. I assume they are also wearing jeans or some kind of pants, but you can’t tell. I’m betting sweat pants … or pajama pants.

I was very excited about my new pajama pants. I still get dressed when I get up, though I am not sure exactly why. Garry is wearing pajama pants, but if it’s too cold for them, sweat pants. And a sweatshirt. Sometimes two sweatshirts. It gets cold in this house. I actually feel all dressed up in my new pants, worn with an almost-matching tunic. I’m ready for Lockdown high-life.

Is anyone really getting dressed anymore? I did buy some attractive spring clothing on the theory that we might have spring. If not that, maybe summer? Or fall?


No, You Don’t, by Rich Paschall

In his early adult life, George was a rather active young man.  He kept a moderate social schedule.  He met with friends, did a little volunteer work, and even joined a bowling team for a few years.  As the years wore on, George became less active, saw less of his friends, and was mostly invisible to the neighborhood.

As he passed fifty years of age, he kept to himself and seldom visited friends and family.  There was little family left actually, and the cousins seemed to have forgotten about old George.  This is not to say that George was totally inactive, for that was not the case at all.  He did a lot of maintenance on the old house.  He spent plenty of time doing gardening in the spring and summer.  He even tried to learn a new language online.

He signed up for a language site that had a social component.  On the site, you could help someone learn your language and someone else could help you learn theirs.  The site gave learners the opportunity to ask others for a chat in the language they were learning.  Since this was all anonymous, you could decline to chat.

George was not bold enough to ask anyone to chat with him live, but others contacted him when they saw an English speaker on-line and he would always accept.  Some visitors came and went quickly but a few became friends as George explained life in his city and heard about theirs.  It was all very exciting for the older, single gentleman to be talking with young people around the world.  George had a friend in France, Egypt, Russia, and Brazil.  He also had a friend in another South American country who liked George a lot.

In South America

In South America

Soon George and Jonathon were friends on Facebook and talking on Messenger and Skype.  They chatted about their countries, cities, jobs.  After a while, they were talking every day, even if only briefly.  Both loved the attention they were getting from the other.

When they were nearing the end of a year of friendship in December, George was surprised to learn he could not roll over his remaining four vacation days to the following year.  Jon, of course, felt that George should come to South America and spend some time with him.  Jon was not originally from the big city where he lived, so he had few friends and no family there.  He was excited at the thought that George would visit.

Aside from never having met Jon in person, George felt that the 30 year age difference would mean they would soon be bored with one another.  Besides, George never had a desire to go to South America or just about any place else any longer.  But Jon was persistent and George decided to be adventurous.

True to his word, Jon was waiting at the airport.  He greeted George like a long-lost friend.  He spent every minute with him for four days.  They traveled around the city like tourists.  They spent an evening in the street watching an important soccer match and celebrating with the locals.  They spent another evening at something that was like a Christmas market.  There they had local beer and too much guava liquor, frequently ordered by one of Jon’s friends.

An impulsive visit to South America

An impulsive visit to South America

The weather was perfect the entire time. Jon was nicer than George could ever imagine.  He was a good cook an excellent host.  The last-minute vacation was one of the best ever.

Upon his return home, Jon called or wrote every day.  George thought that when they met in person Jon would see that he was a lot older and the friendship would die down, but in truth, the opposite happened.  Jon’s enthusiasm for the impulsive visit did not wane.

Not knowing what to make of this friendship, George called on Arthur, an old friend, to discuss the matter.  They met at a local inn and George proceeded to explain the whole story.  He told how they met, how the friendship developed over the year, and that he impulsively went to visit.  George had never mentioned Jon to anyone before.  Now he was telling the entire history.

“By the way,” George said, “he does not want me to mention that we met on the internet because people might get the wrong idea.”

“What idea is that?” Arthur asked.

“I don’t know,” George exclaimed.

“So what’s the problem?” Arthur wanted to know after listening to over 45 minutes about some South American guy he had never met or seen.

“He calls every day or leaves a message to say he loves me and misses me!”


“He wants to come here and be with me.  He says he will be my prince.”

“Oh,” Arthur responded as if the light bulb just went on.

George went on to detail his responses.  “I explained I was not rich and he would have to get a job.  Despite my efforts, his English still sucks and he would have to improve.  The weather here is very different from his homeland, and he knows no one else here”

“What does he say to all these points,” Arthur inquired.

“I love you!  What kind of response is that?  Besides, I am too old for him, but he just says we will be together as long as God wills.”  George took a deep breath and continued

“So, I told him he just says that because he wants to come to America.  Since I like him very much I offered that he could come and stay and I would introduce him around and take him to places where he can meet other young people.”

“And?” Arthur prompted.

“And he said he does not want to meet others, he just wants to be with me.  I don’t know what’s wrong with the young man.”

“There is one distinct possibility,” Arthur said with a knowing tone to his comment.


“He really loves you,” Arthur said simply.

George looked at him as if he did not understand the words Arthur just said.  After a long pause, George finally spoke.


Next week: Jon’s side of the story.

Morrie’s Ball: NaPoWriMo–last day for 2020! – Judy Dykstra-Brown

I see Morrie and I see Gibbs and Bonnie. Bonnie was just 9 weeks old when we got her. Gibbs was much older, but I thought he’d be around for awhile. Dogs get old far too soon. I live in dread of the next loss, but Bonnie isn’t worried. She’s happy every day. The joy of being a dog is to never have to worry about the future. All that matters is now and the joy of the ball and the hand that throws it.

lifelessons - a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown

Morrie’s Ball

I throw the ball and throw the ball,
over my head in an arc to the garden downhill from the pool
where every midnight I do aerobic exercises and yoga,
trying to stem the freezing-up of joints,
the spreading of spare tires around the waist.

I am allergic to the sun,
and so these sometime-between-midnight-
and-3 a.m.-sessions in the pool

have come to be habit,
with both me and the small black shaggy dog
who leaves his bed in the doggie domain,
no matter how late I make the trip to the pool,
carrying his green tennis ball.

It is the latest in a long progression of balls
chewed to tatters until they are incapable of buoyancy
that sink to the pool bottom to be picked up by toes,
toed to hand, and thrown down again.
When they are replaced in the morning with a fresh ball,

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We hadn’t put out the night camera in a while and I still have a lot of unprocessed pictures from the previous two nights. But what is interesting about these is that you can see many flying squirrels gliding in. They look like bars of light, although it depends on the angle. See if you can tell how many gliding squirrels are in the pictures.

You can see a glider in the background, on the right. They are so stretched out, they don’t look like a creature. But they are.

More background gliders

Landed and hungry, He hasn’t fully tucked up his gliding “cape.”

Look in the background and what do you see?

The flat line in the front is a glider too. There’s even one or two in the background

There will be more coming, but we actually cleaned the house today and I’m beat. We even moved the refrigerator and despite my fears to the contrary, the was nothing dead back there. Just dirt.

We have reduced from two to one feeder for now. The birds and raccoons and flying squirrels are trying to drive us into bankruptcy. My theory is that no matter how much food we put out, they will eat all of it.

SO WHAT’S NEXT? – Marilyn Armstrong

There’s nothing going on. I have a telephone doctor visit on Monday and in June, there are tests and examinations. I have no idea what will be going on by then.

May, last year

While the infection and death rate is slowly diminishing in Massachusetts, it isn’t nearly as low as I need it to be before I am comfortable “out there.” Really, until someone can give me even the most basic statistics of what is going on in Worcester County, how can anyone know what to do? I hear that they are making significant progress on the vaccine in England, but by the time they test it and make sure it’s safe, it’ll be another year.

I can’t believe it’s already May. April never happened. It came, we did nothing. It went. We are still doing nothing. Which is okay. I really don’t mind the isolation since we tend to be isolated anyway by choice. But the grim, cold, wet, icy, sleety weather is maddening. We have no flowers. All we have is mud. I hear flowers are blooming elsewhere, but we haven’t had two days in a row of sunshine so I guess that is a miracle of spring.

The little footbridge in the merry month of May by the dam on the Mumford

I’m not bored, but I’m restless. I’d like to go take some pictures. I’d like to see the rivers, the dams. I’d love to just see a few small buds on the trees. A blooming magnolia and a lilac. I’m being patient. Maybe if we go down to the canal late in the day when everyone else has gone home … assuming it ever stops raining … I can take a few pictures.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Water plants along the river

Meanwhile, enjoy these pictures from days of yore when I could go places and take pictures.