A MOTHER’S WALTZ by Leslie Martel and Marilyn Armstrong

Mother’s Day – Sunday, May 8, 2020

FROM swo8 (Leslie Martel): Today is Mother’s Day. To commemorate this day, we have created a photographic montage of families together. It includes eight generations of my family and three of Marilyn and Garry Armstrong’s families.

The song is bittersweet because to be a mother, is indeed bittersweet. Our children bring us our greatest joys and our greatest sorrows. The couple in the video are my great-grandparents.

My great-grandmother died in childbirth, leaving 3 babies and a husband. When my great-grandfather remarried the children were sent off to their aunt to be raised.

The aunt is the lady sitting by the fireplace. The first photo of children is of my grandmother and her twin sisters. My grandmother being the oldest would have missed her mother the most. In spite of her early losses she became an extraordinary person and had a huge influence on me and my thinking.

To be a mother has got to be one of the most difficult endeavors to undertake in one’s life. We are given this helpless creature for a short period of time to nourish, educate and inspire before they disappear into the ether of adulthood.

As a tribute to mother’s everywhere we dedicate this song, “Mother’s Waltz” by swo8 Blues Jazz and Marilyn Armstrong. 

FROM Serendipity (Marilyn & Garry Armstrong): The melody of A Mother’s Waltz echoes in my mind. I feel as if it is something I remember hearing my mother sing a long time ago, but of course, it is new from swo8 Blues Jazz

The pictures of my family include my mother, me, much younger and my son as a toddler. Pictures of Garry’s family include his mother and father’s wedding, Garry’s dad back from WWII with little Garry on his knee. Garry’s mom as a young woman.

The pictures are family heirlooms that evoke strong and sometimes conflicted feelings.

Music by swo8, with pictures from Leslie Martel (swo8) and Marilyn Armstrong (from both my family and from Garry’s family).

These are memories in music for all mothers.

PROVOCATIVE QUESTION #68 – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #68

What Fandango had to say about this:

“As I write this, the United States has had more than 1.23 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 72,000 deaths. According to the latest projections from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), by early August, the American death toll is likely to exceed 134,000. And that’s a conservative projection.”


“Yet despite these very disturbing projections, many states are “opening back up for business,” even though most medical professionals and scientists have noted that the case and death rate will likely shoot up as a result.

This seems to be fine with our president, who is encouraging states and businesses to reopen. Trump admitted that it is “possible” that many more Americans will die as stay-at-home orders are lifted. He told reporters that some people would be affected badly, “but we have to get our country open, and we have to get it open soon.”

And even though the rate of infection shows no sign of slowing, Vice President Pence told reporters yesterday that the federal government’s coronavirus task force could be dismantled in the next month because “of the tremendous progress we’ve made as a country.”

The question is:

I think Fandango answered his own question. The reality is, except for those crazies who follow Trump, most people aren’t going anywhere if they have a choice. Especially people our age. We weren’t all that sociable anyway and if the weather gets livable, I’m sure we’ll take little sojourns to parks where we can take pictures without interacting with others.

More than 28 states are not only failing to level but are in fact exploding with COVID 19. Republicans thought the virus wouldn’t cross into their states, that this was somehow a Democratic disease.

Viruses are about as apolitical as anything could possibly be. It isn’t alive and has no brain. Nature gave it just one function:


That’s it. It will keep multiplying until enough people are resistant to it, dead, or there’s a viable vaccine. Of course, if they keep the vaccine the same way they have managed testing, it could take a decade to get everyone vaccinated. Or longer. But by then, I figure we can assume Trump will have gone away. Far, far away.

Soon Fox viewers will believe that there wasn’t really a pandemic. It was a hoax. Trump has said he will hide the numbers so we don’t know how many people are dead. Does that mean people will fail to notice the people who’ve gone missing? No more grandpa or grandma. Where are the aunts and uncles? And why are all the businesses on Main Street closed?

Even the stupidest of the stupid are not going to be convinced that “nothing happened.” They may be confused about the details, but something definitely, absolutely, 100% happened. Whether it is going to happen to you is an issue with which each of us must grapple.

As for me, I’m going to be very careful and wary with where I go and with whom I interact.


Steven Miller. advisor to Donald J. Trump and Katie Millie, Press Secretary to Vice President Mike Pence, who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Both Millers have daily access to Trump and Pence.

By Nat Helms of natshouseblog

Mother Nature apparently doesn’t like the way things are going in the world at the moment and banded together with irresistible karma to take a whack at Donald J. Trump, the original source of most of the chaos in the world today. It seems the Fates selected a close advisor inside Trump’s White House to host treacherously virulent novel coronavirus spores that have a tendency to make those around the unsuspecting host either sick or dead. It could mean there are about to be some sinister changes inside the White House.

There are plenty of reasons of the gods to take aim at the incendiary narcissist and bungler working diligently to destroy all the institutions of America. Their displeasure could be over Trump’s treatment of Mother Earth, or his disregard for the lives of millions of Americans and almost all those who live beyond our borders, or because Trump is just such an asshole all the time. Some things are best left to the gods and the 12 rules of karma to understand.

A real good example of karma in action is the haunting of the White House by dem-princess Katie Rose Waldman Miller, the new wife of Stephen Miller, one of Trump’s closest advisors. Both Millers work deep in the Trumplandian swamp where nepotism is A-Okay as long as they keep it in the family.

Her husband Steven  Miller, 34,  is the unfortunate Jewish doppelgänger of super-Nazi Reinhart Heydrich. Unlike the assassinated architect of Germany’s “Jewish Solution”, Miller keeps his iron fists in velvet gloves while he tramples on the basic rights of his fellow human beings. His thing is staying almost morbidly silent in the background generating ultra-right wing, white nationalist policy that eschews black, brown, and Arab peoples from coming to America.

Karma adherents have always maintained Trump and his gang have something bad coming at them. The Sanskrit For Dummy’s definition of the word karma is “action.”  Laws of karma are all about the positive or negative implications of our words, thoughts, and deeds. Everything we do good or bad creates corresponding energy that comes back to gobsmack us in some form or another.

Miller currently lives high on the hog. The international villain and fawning Trump loyalist married Katie last Feb. 16 at Trump International Hotel in Washington with Uncle Donald in attendance. The event was officiated by Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone, a senior adviser to the United States ambassador to Israel. The ambassador apparently was taking time off from helping Israel steal more stuff from the caged Palestinians.

Mrs. Miller, 28, served as a spokeswoman for the United States Department of Homeland Security during the tenure of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Her husband helped engineer Nielsen’s controversial public firing for being too lenient to the babies and children her agency tore from their parent’s arms and stuffed into brutal concentration camps Miller helped organize.

Ms. Miller’s reported affliction with the coronavirus on Friday was the second known case of COVID-19 this week in someone who moves inside Trump’s inner circle.

According to White House pool reports, Pence’s flight to Des Moines, Iowa, was delayed on the tarmac of Joint Base Andrews in Maryland for an hour Friday morning, where six people who had contact with Katie Miller deplaned. On  Thursday, the White House confirmed that a personal valet for Trump – a staff member who comes in close contact with both him and his family – also had a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Both Trump and Pence reportedly tested negative for the coronavirus on Thursday, the White House said.  Trump often downplays the magnitude of the pandemic while he focuses on reopening the nation’s economy that his weak, vacillating policies helped destroy.

Pence is equally culpable for misdirecting the country through his brainless thoughts and deeds. He came under fire last week for not wearing a mask during a visit to Minnesota’s prestigious Mayo Clinic. He later admitted he made a mistake, claiming he “didn’t think it was necessary, but I should have worn a mask.”

No shit Sherlock, that’s why the country is falling apart.


It was sunny today. Yay for the sun and yay for having a day bright enough to take a few pictures. Just as I picked up the camera, a Red-bellied Woodpecker and a Blue Jay met and ultimately shared the feeder. These are two highly aggressive birds, though the blue jay is actually a bit bigger of the two, the woodpecker has a far more potent beak.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

And here they are. Most of the Blue Jay pictures were taken with no processing. The combination of both birds got a bit more sun, which is a problem shooting out this window. Until the afternoon, there’s a lot of solar glare, but you can clearly see the birds well. You need a slower lens and maybe a filter.

Blue Jay

There’s a big storm tomorrow night and Monday morning so grab the pictures now!

Blue and Red … how topical.
Woodpecker and Blue Jay


Pick Me Up – I choose to raise orchids 

The electric company came this morning and took down the tree! The whole tree. I’m assuming that they couldn’t find an easier way to remove the branches. I guess it was the fifth call that was sent to the correct office that deals with fallen limbs. By the time they removed it, the entire tree was leaning on the high tension line. Ever since Columbia Gas blew up a city in northern Massachusetts a couple of years ago, I’ve been waiting for the next calamity. One has now been avoided, but it wasn’t easy!

Like Cee and maybe many photographers, I usually have a camera in my hand or without reach. There are two. no three, cameras on the living room coffee table, a bunch of various cameras, Garry’s and mine, on the wooden bench. Those are the ones We are not using much at the moment. Five dining room chairs hold camera bags. The two cameras I use to shoot birds and flowers. Especially birds, because if I have to go and get the camera out of the bag and get it pointed, the bird got bored and left. The flowers usually hang around, so I always take the birds first.

Flowers under lights
You can see that the last orchid is going to fall off.

Thus while writing is a big deal for me, taking pictures is right up there. I’ve been taking pictures pretty much as long as I’ve been writing, though I didn’t put a lot of effort into trying to become a professional photographer. I was a better writer and there were better jobs for writers, too. I am still happily wrapped in orchids.

You can almost see all of them
The young lifely orchids

I haven’t been feeling well. It’s not just my arm. It’s allergies. Anyone who thinks allergies don’t count because they aren’t a “real disease” never suffered from allergies. Now that we’ve had just enough sun (3 partial days with more than two hours each day of sunshine) to bring forth the buds, weeds. and flowers which will create something like spring or summer, I’m not sure. It has been so long since we saw nice weather.

Meanwhile, the biggest pollen roaming the airways is oak. We live in oak woods.

Orchid again

The second biggest pollinator is birch and we have them too. And of course, the maples are flowering. Not to mention the weeds and flowers. You name it, it’s pollinating. Which leaves both of us with sore throats that disappear after we get out of bed and sit up. The aches and pains? Could it be the rain, wind, dampness, and chill? Not to mention the constant changes in the weather?

Cold, snowy, and below freezing tomorrow and Monday. I hear there is possibly an end in sight around the end of the month. I’m holding my breath.


The Supply Chain and You – Rich Paschall

Toilet paper isles in most stores in New York and CT

This is about more than the amount of toilet paper you can get the next time you go shopping if you can get any at all. This is about all the other stuff. We all have a lot of stuff. Some of the stuff is made up of lots of stuff from various places. No manufacturer actually makes all the items they use when they assemble stuff for you. Cars, radios, televisions, stoves, washing machines…well you name it. They were probably made with items that came from various sources. This means the shipping and receiving of goods play an important role in all the things you buy.

Even the simplest of goods rely on an efficient means of transportation. People have gotten so used to getting things quickly, that people are actually lodging complaints with Amazon for not delivering their groceries, widgets, or whatever on the same day, or even a two-hour window where they offer it. Transportation companies are down-sizing. Airlines are grounded. People are sick. Stuff is not moving like it used to move. It’s not going to recover overnight, even if some politician says it should.

For example, POTUS has ordered meatpacking plants to remain open and ship to stores. Despite his “executive order,” plants are closing around the country.  In fact, seven more have closed since he ordered them to stay open on April 28. One hundred sixty-seven plants have had coronavirus outbreaks and over 9400 people were stricken. At least 45 have died. Sorry, but the bacon order is going to be delayed.

While a lot of these companies use their own trucks to get food from point A to your grocery store, others rely on other truckers and the airlines to move their product around, but what if the trucks are not trucking?

Truck Transportation.

You see trucks of all sizes all over the road. If you live near an airport you likely see quite a few due to the practice of locating truck terminals near airports, seaports, and rail yards. Like every industry, trucking has been hit by illness. So have warehouse workers, ground handlers at the ports, trucker loaders, document checkers, security guards, and a variety of people who are part of the transportation chain. One COVID-19 outbreak at a truck terminal can shut it down for a day or more while the area is sanitized. After that, you can understand a reluctance by others to return to the scene.

If goods are traveling across the country by rail or plane, then you have to rely on a trucker to pick up the goods and deliver to the destination. But that might actually be several truckers. One picks it up and takes to his terminal. Someone unloads the goods and then loads to another truck with other items going across the country or to the airport or wherever.  There are many people handling goods in the supply chain and for some industries, the chain is just broken.

With many factories and warehouses shut, some truckers have stopped working on the weekends. Some have far fewer truck runs and it is not economical for an over the road trucker to go with a half-empty truck. His company may have him wait until the truck will be full, at least in one direction. Hence, YOUR goods are delayed.

Air Transportation.

Sometimes your goods are moving around by more than the freighter airplanes. Widebody aircraft usually fill up to two-thirds of the belly space with cargo. Even those small planes might be moving small packages along with the people. Air Canada for example, was moving one to one and a half million metric tons of cargo a day systemwide prior to an almost complete halt of shipping due to COVID-19. Every airline is in the same situation.

Pinal Air Park, Arizona

If many millions of tons of cargo a day can not move, how do things get from place to place? From mid-March to until now, the demand has been down, but there is still some demand. As a point of full disclosure, as they say, I work for Air Canada. I have worked in transportation for over 35 years. In the last six weeks, I have probably said no to more requests for bookings than I have taken.

The skies are starting to open up as more places are allowing flights, but there is one big problem for passenger airlines like Air Canda, United, American, Delta, and so on. How can you fly those big passenger planes without passengers? An orange politician may tell us that everything is OK and we can all go back to normal but are you going to go to a crowded airport and take a flight anywhere in the next few months?  No, I didn’t think so.

By the end of March, the airline industry had felt that they could get back to 90 percent of the business they were doing at the beginning of the year by this December. The prediction now is 50 percent.  Air Canada said this week that they are currently operating at 5 percent of capacity. For your stuff to move, there are fewer flights on all airlines, and the cost can be as much as six times higher than it used to be to move your stuff from here to there. How long can that go on?


Seats removed from Boeing 777

So what do you do with an airline that has most of its fleet parked and a slow recovery ahead? You know you have to bring the cost of transportation down, even if you can not bring it to pre-COVID-19 levels. So, you have to reinvent yourself. Survival depends on it.  Air Canada will retire 79 aircraft this year, roughly 1/3 of its fleet. It will become much smaller in the hopes of building back up. And what about all those large airplanes? Increase cargo capacity.

Air Canada has removed 442 seats from 4 of their 777 passenger flights and will do the same with another one as well as three Airbus 333. The seat tracks on the floor work well to secure cargo netting and the main deck can be loaded with cargo. There is no cargo door, and loading equipment can not be used. But the short term solution, although labor-intensive, is to replace passengers with cargo so your stuff can get here.

No passengers? Move cargo.

Sources include: “Trump executive order didn’t stop meat plant closures. Seven more shut in the past week,” By Kyle Bagenstose and Sky Chadde, USA TODAY, May 5, 2020.
See also: The Global Supply Chain Disruption, The Pandemic Problem, SERENDIPITY, April 15, 2020.