FROM THE DECK – GARRY & MARILYN ARMSTRONG

Whatever there is of autumn, we can see as much of it from our deck as from anywhere else we’ve traveled in the valley. Garry and I took some pictures from the deck. We are chasing a tiny bit of autumn from our tiny little deck.

HANGING AROUND: ORANGE BEGONIA MACROS

I am planning to bring both of these plants indoors at the end of the season. I thought that might mean now, but summer is lingering … so … October? November?

Macro orange begonia

I don’t know if they can survive in my house. We don’t have much sunlight. They may die a slow death in our darkness, but it’s worth a try. We are trying to swap with someone to take down some trees in return for the wood. It’s all oak, so it’s good wood … and fewer trees would brighten the place a lot.

Two orange begonias

Meanwhile, I thought I’d take a few pictures. These extremely bright flowers have been a photographic challenge for me. I think — finally — I’ve more or less “got it.”

The first thing is do not photograph them in full sun. I suppose it’s “doable,” but it’s so much harder than shooting in shade. Bright shade will give you better detail and truer color.

If you own a macro lens (or have a macro setting on our camera), this is the time to use it. I’ve taken a lot of pictures of flowers. Many lenses shoot close enough so you wouldn’t necessarily need a macro. But super bright flowers like these? The macro will help. Try it. You’ll see.

That’s it. Bright shade. Macro setting. And maybe turn down the brightness and use a little less saturation when you process them.

LAST CHANCE FOR A PLANET

After months in a cryo-tube, they finally woke me. What a headache! Sheesh. And holy moly, I really had to go to the bathroom, after which I needed not so much a shower as a sandblasting. That cryo gunk is sticky and it gets into places you just wouldn’t … well, maybe you would … believe.

Then there was food. Never in my entire life have I wanted to eat a starship, including the cargo. Talk about an appetite. Not just me. Everyone had just been wakened at the same time and we all felt hollow.

T.S. Eliot was spinning in my head:

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us-if at all-not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

I remembered more of the poem.

This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

I hoped the poem was not a predictor of explorations to come. Given the awful condition in which we left Earth, we needed to find a new home. A fertile planet on which crops will grow. Where the battered human race could remember its better self. We had not been superior to cockroaches in a long time.

Finally after eating for what seemed an eternity, we donned our lime green suits — the lightweight ones for worlds that are not hostile, merely unknown — and they opened the doors. We emerged. Into paradise.

Breathtaking. The colors were a bit odd. The plants were all kinds of colors, like a riotous flower garden. The whole planet was a garden. So we named it “Eden” — which I thought was a mistake. We got kicked out of Eden already. What do I know? I don’t make the Big Decisions. Way above my pay grade. I was just along for the ride. Before we got back on board the ship, I had a thought. I dawdled. Picked up the litter we’d left behind. Found a big piece of cardboard.

Must have been a box of some sort, but it would make a pretty good sign. I found a piece of wood to which I could attach it. I had a nail gun in my tool kit and a big marking pen. It hadn’t dried out and worked in the lower gravity of this new planet. New to us, but home to so much other life. Like Earth had been before we stripped her of everything but trash. I put my sign near where we’d landed. Hopefully future expeditions would land in more or less the same spot.

I wrote my message. In my best handwriting. Using huge letters so no one could miss it — or mistake its meaning:
72-gods-rules-in-eden

LAST CHANCE FOR A PLANET

AN UNEXPECTED MONTH OF SUMMER

It’s the end of September and Autumn should be blooming on the trees.

Bridge over the Blackstone at River Bend

It isn’t Autumn. You can see a few yellow leaves in patches, here and there. Occasionally you may see a sprig of red leaves amidst a sea of green.

Reeds along the river

The light has changed, though. Today, it was truly amber and it was clearly visible in all my pictures. They look as if they have been washed with a paintbrush of gold.

 

CLOTH DIAPERS?

PAMPERING VS. DIAPERING


When my son was born, my mother bought me dozens and dozens of diapers with big safety pins. Rubber panties, too. And, because she was no dummy, she also got me a brand new washing machine and dryer. They were Maytags and I bet they are both still running somewhere, 47 years later.

Cloth diapers by Gerber

Owen was only a few months old when Pampers, the first of the paper diapers appeared on the market. They were insanely expensive and incredibly leaky and poorly fitted. I checked them out … and stayed with cloth diapers. I liked cloth diapers. They were really useful. Dusting, mopping, polishing, among other things. I sometimes wish I had a few dozen of them. They were made pretty good dish towels.

Eventually, when the kid got older and the price of paper diapers dropped … and their quality improved, he was switched over. By then, he had mostly gotten it together with toilet training anyway.

These day, Pampers and other paper diapers have become a major source of pollution. I wonder if anyone has reconsidered making a u-turn and going back the other way. Of course, cotton has gotten ghastly expensive … but maybe there’s some other reusable material that would work. Because, before everything was disposable, many things were reusable.

It wasn’t such a bad arrangement, as long as you had a good washing machine and dryer.

THE DOCK BY THE RIVER – AFTER AND BEFORE

BLACK & WHITE SUNDAY: AFTER AND BEFORE Y1-08


From Paula: This challenge is the AFTER and BEFORE. It invites you to post the same image in black and white, and in colour. The topic and subject are arbitrary. The only condition is you post an image captured in colour and you turn it monochrome in post processing.


We were down by the river today. I was hoping to discover Autumn lurking in the trees, but we found, instead, a fine summer’s day. Rather warm and bright … and humid enough so I had a lot of trouble keeping my glasses from skittering down my nose whenever I looked into my camera. Plastic eyeglasses and a sweaty nose-bridge do not go well together.

The little pier that was falling down last time we were here has been repaired … and here it is. First, in color, then black & white.

The dock at River Bend

The dock at River Bend – monochrome

A lovely day … but not Autumn yet. The light is the right color — yellow, almost amber — especially as it gets late in the afternoon. There is a yellow gold tint in some leaves, but overall …. it’s still summer in the valley. Hot and humid.

Garry is gratefully enjoying an unexpected month of summer. He has rightly pointed out Autumn will be here soon enough. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy the blue sky and the deep green trees.

mergeyes_widget

WAKE UP AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

During the past two and a half years, Garry and I have logged endless hours watching the current political nightmare unfold. I can’t count the number of hours spent analyzing “millennials,” folks approximately my granddaughter’s age. How disaffected they are. How they aren’t going to vote because “this has nothing to do with me” — a direct quote from my granddaughter.

I love my granddaughter with all my heart, but that just pissed me off to a fare-thee-well.

The world into which the now oft-dismissed “baby boomers” were raised — despite maudlin memes on Facebook — was very far from a perfect world. Classified advertisements for jobs were divided into “Help Wanted: Male” and “Help Wanted: Female.” It was legal and enforced. As for people of color and immigrants, their help wasn’t wanted on any page.

help-wanted-advert-1892

70 years later, the Help Wanted advertisements looked pretty much the same as they had in 1892. Photograph: Library of Congress Archives

Jim Crow laws were legal. Inter-marriage between races was illegal in all southern states and many northern ones. There was no Medicare. No Medicaid. If you lost your job, or your job didn’t offer medical benefits — and employers were not obligated to provide benefits — you were out of luck.

People reminisce about the 1950s and early 1960s as if they were perfect days for everyone. A world in which jobs lasted forever. Spanking kids was totally cool. No one was hungry. True-ish — but only if you were triple white.


Triple white = White collar. White skin. White picket fence.


If you were anything else, you lived a very different reality.

civil-rights-bill-passage-nytimesheadline

Did I mention that abortion was illegal? Illegal abortions were frequently fatal and effective birth control hadn’t been invented. It’s not that we didn’t have sex outside of marriage. Of course we did. Hormones, boys, girls, love, and passion were never different than now, but acting on these urges was far more dangerous. The ramifications of “getting caught” were perilous and possibly illegal, so we were sneaky. We had sex in cars, not beds.

We hid our social lives from “the grownups” who were also “the enemy.” Child abuse was not illegal. It was ignored or absolutely approved of. Beating your kids was “discipline.” Which is why I get enraged every time I read one of those Facebook “nostalgia” posts about how great it was to be able to hit your kids.

Hitting kids doesn’t make them better people. It just informs them it’s okay for bigger, stronger people to hit smaller, weaker ones.

January 22, 1973 woman could finally breathe a sigh of relief. We thought the days of back room abortion were finally over. Maybe yes. But maybe it was just a temporary reprieve.

January 22, 1973 woman could finally breathe a sigh of relief. We thought the days of back room abortion were finally over. Maybe yes. But maybe it was just a temporary reprieve. Photograph: New York Times archive

My generation — we old people — were out there manning the barricades. Marching for justice.

We changed the world. Not as much as we hoped, but some. We certainly tried. We fought racial and gender discrimination. While waiting for the law to change, we hid our homosexuality or trans-gender identities. Not doing so might do us in. We never gave up the fight, but time has had its way. We got old and most of us have put down the signs and stopped marching.

It’s your turn.

Selma alabama 1965 resized

The world got so much better and now it’s getting so much worse again. Looks like the stuff we fought for is going down the tubes.  I know you feel the world has failed to live up to its promises to you. Life is hard. Good jobs are scarce.

The truth is that life — real life — has always been hard. Good jobs were always hard to find. No one told me life would be easy. Did someone tell you that? If they did, they lied.

It’s time for your generation to step up to the plate. Put down your phone. Go fix stuff. Fight for a better life and a better world. Vote! That’s how change happens. If you don’t care enough to stand up for yourselves and your future, no one else will care. All the work we did will vanish. It will be the real 1950s all over again. I don’t think you will like it.

Then, as my mom used to say, you’ll really have something to cry about.