THE CHANGING SEASONS: MAY 2017

THE CHANGING SEASONS – MAY AND SUMMER HAVE ARRIVED!

Spring is a fickle season in New England. It’s common for us to not get spring weather. It stays cold, wet, and generally nasty until suddenly, in the middle of May, summer happens.

You leave the house in the morning to do a little shopping, and when you come out of the grocery, summer arrived. That the way it happened this year and it is absolutely lovely outside now.

THE RIVER AND THE CANAL

Usually, May is the herald of summer in this region. Around the middle of the month, the cold, windy, damp air blows away and the flowers bloom. In a good year, it’s sort of perfect. Warm, dry, and bright.

THE GARDEN – EARLY MAY

And so it was. The warm days blew in. Except this is going to be another year of Gypsy Moths, so the beauty of the season is only going to last a few weeks and then the maniac caterpillars will defoliate the trees. We are all hoping it won’t be as bad as last year. The heavy rains this spring might help, but we won’t know for a few weeks.

SWANS ON THE POND

These are the best of the summer pictures. The roses aren’t out yet. It was so chilly for so long, some of the later blooming flowers are not flowering, but they will be here. Maybe one more week. Meanwhile, this is May — maybe our best month — especially since we don’t know what’s coming.

All the pictures were taken by me and Garry Armstrong. If you aren’t sure who took what, look for the name on the photograph.


The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by CardinalGuzman.wordpress.com.

MECHANICS CONCERT HALL – BLACK & WHITE SUNDAYS

BLACK & WHITE SUNDAYS – MUSIC


I never have enough pictures of music “in action.” I’m one of those weird people who doesn’t like taking pictures during a concert. I’ll take some before the concert starts, and sometimes one or two in the middle.

I’m so worried I might disturb someone’s concert experience, I do as little as possible.  So …  mostly … it’s all about concert hall architecture.


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TALKING ABOUT STUPID

TELL ME ABOUT STUPID

I have been assured it’s not stupid because:

  • It seemed like a good idea at the time.
  • I had a lot to drink, smoke, or was otherwise drugged.
  • Everyone was doing it.
  • I did it on a bet.
  • All my friends agreed — it was the right thing to do.
  • I’m an ignorant ass.
IT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME

This only works if you had an idea … and followed it to a logical conclusion. In other words, you were thinking about the decision. If you just did it because you were there, it or he was also there, so y’know, shit happened? That IS stupid. Sorry, but saying it seemed like a good idea doesn’t make it one. Anything done by reflex or without thought? Stupid.

I WAS DRUNK

You had too much to drink? Were really incredibly high? You took a handful of drugs?

Why would any of these things make you less stupid?

EVERYONE WAS DOING IT

As your mom used to say, “If everyone is jumping off the roof, does that mean you should do it too?” If your mom wouldn’t buy it when you were six, what makes you think anyone would buy it now that you’re … fiftyish?

Yup. Stupid.

I DID IT ON A BET

Even you think that was stupid, right?

ALL MY FRIENDS AGREED IT WAS THE BEST CHOICE

Since when are your friends, family, co-workers, shrink, or that guy you met while checking out your groceries, become the people who will decide on your future life? Since when does anyone but you count in your final decision to do anything?

I’M AN IGNORANT ASS

Right. Stupid. Because ignorance is not something you were given at birth. Ignorance is a choice.

YOU KNEW IT WAS THE WRONG CHOICE. WE ALWAYS KNOW.

When everything you know about right and wrong is telling you the choice you are about to make is wrong or bad for you — and you do it anyway? For whatever reason? That IS stupid. I’m not talking about deciding whether you should buy bananas or apples, or which television show to watch. I’m talking about decisions that will affect your life and possibly the lives of other people.

When you have an important decision to make, you are the one who gets to decide. What your friends think is neither here nor there. They have nothing to do with your understanding of right, wrong, good and evil … not to mention the larger context of who else lives in your world.

Sure, it’s possible to be intelligent and make a bad choice. We’ve all done it. It remains a stupid choice. The concept of choice and decision requires your judgments be the result of reason. If you typically make decisions without thought, do stuff you know in your gut goes is wrong, you can’t go back and say ‘Oh, it seemed like a good idea.”

No. It didn’t. It wasn’t the right idea, even when you made it. Maybe you did it out of spite or jealousy. Maybe you did it to prove something to yourself or someone else.

It’s still STUPID.

DESCENDING TO THE CENTER OF DISSENSION

In Hebrew, one is always said to be “going up to Jerusalem.” Not only because Jerusalem sits on a mountain — not one of the Rockies or the Himalayas, but a mountain — something you’d know if you tried to drive there in a small car up the roads to the city from the coast, but because it is closer to heaven than other parts of earth.

For Donaldo MacCheesehead, it is definitely descending.

MacCheesehead’s trip to the middle east terrifies me on one hand, but on the other makes me laugh uncontrollably — to the point of falling down. If I had another hand, I’m not sure what I would do. Maybe weep?

Jerusalem – the star in the middle was where I lived, an area called “Baka.”

I remember when I went up to live in Jerusalem. I had read Exodus (Leon Uris) probably 100 times the year I was 14. I had been exhorted by my mother and many other family members on the importance of Israel to Our People. For the life of me, I couldn’t see why everyone couldn’t reach a sensible settlement. I’m a lot smarter than Chief Orange Blossom, but it turns out, you really need to live there for a while to “get” it. When I finally got it, I knew it was time to go home. I was not going to settle the problems. Not mine or anyone else’s.

To say that it’s “not as easy as it appears” doesn’t come near the heart of the problem. There isn’t a heart to the problem. So much of what happened in the region took place long enough ago that its remembrance is wildly twisted. The shape of the past bears little resemblance to anything that really happened. It has been buried by myth, opinion, counter-opinion, hopes, dreams … and far too much money spent on guns and hate.

Israel now

Who did what, when, and why? There is some truth to everything, but there is no absolute Truth in the craziness. No final, resonating Grand Truth against which no argument will stand except this single one.

The Jewish people deserve a place on earth where they can live and not be slaughtered because they are Jews. You can’t extract that position from the equation and come up with any answer.

The return of lands to Egypt and Syria

Since that is what “the Arab States” have consistently demanded, there has been no significant progress … collectively. Yet there has been quite a lot of progress between individual countries. Even before Jordan and Israel had an “official” peace, they had a good, working, informal agreement. And a lot of traffic between the two countries.

The peace with Egypt has had its ups and downs, but it still is hanging in there, on some level, and maybe if that nation’s own craziness were to fade, things would probably improve elsewhere, too.

Syria? Well, that’s not happening anytime soon. Lebanon? I don’t know what’s going  on up there, these days, so I have no current opinion. If I had one, I’m sure it would be complex, confusing, and involve hashish.

Israel in context with neighboring countries

America’s Orange King is going to discover — soon — that nothing in this part of the world is simple. He has not risen to Jerusalem, but rather fallen into the mire. In many ways, it should remind the man of his own issues with truth. Because in the middle east, there is no truth. Just fights, disagreement, disputes, arguments, confusion, dismay, ancient hatreds, and grudges which will never die.

“Simple” in not a word to use when talking of Israel and her neighbors.

If not for the future of human life and death on Planet Earth were not part of this conversation, it really would be funny.

So. For a man whose ability to focus on a problem is shorter than two minutes, getting him to “think” about making peace in the middle east really does make me choke with laughter … and tears. I’m sure his vision for the region is … HUGE!

SUMMERTIME – MAY IN THE MIDDLE

Photo: Garry Armstrong

This is how it works in New England. It starts with winter. Which may begin as early as September, but more typically gets moving around Thanksgiving … but may hold off until late January. The worst winter we ever had (that was measurable) started January 29, 2015. We hadn’t had so much as a serious flurry.

From the end of January until March, we were hit by just about 12 feet of snow. That is a lot of snow, no matter how you count it or what measurements you use. Other years, we’ve gotten significant snow in early November and not seen the ground until the following April.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

About spring. It’s our most ephemeral season. Many years, we go directly from winter to summer without a weekend to go buy a bathing suit. The first year I spent in New England, the temperature hit 90 degrees in early April and never dropped until suddenly, in September, the temperature fell by 60 degrees. Autumn arrived.

Pink wildflowers by the river

This year was as typical or at least as typical as spring gets. Cold, wet, cold, wet, windy, cold wet. In the middle of May, overnight, the clouds broke. The next day, it hit 96 degrees on the clock in the middle of town. While all the cold, wet, and windy weather was doing its thing, flowers were budding and leaves were beginning to pop.

Thus, I went out and took some pictures today. I was surprised that we have no sign of roses yet. Usually we see rose buds by mid May, but not this year.

Look closely and you can see the tiny black caterpillars destined to eat every leaf on the trees.

Bad news? The caterpillars are back. Tiny little Gypsy Moth caterpillars are crawling all over the oak trees along the canal. How bad will it be this year? No way to know. We had a lot of rain and that may help … but there’s really no way to know. Our property has been sprayed as much as we can without killing everything. It won’t solve the larger problem, but it will make it possible for us to come and go from our house without getting assaulted by hairy, poisonous caterpillars.

I’m trying to focus on enjoying the flowers and leaves while we have them. And hoping the trees survive another defoliation.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

There’s nothing “gradual” about weather in this part of New England. It doesn’t change a little bit from minute to minute. It can change with hilarious suddenness. Back when Garry and I were living in Boston, one warm November day, we walked to the nearby bar to grab some lunch. We were wearing shorts and tee shirts. We were there for an hour and half.

When we hit the door to depart, it was 35 degrees and blowing a minor gale. We ran all the way home.

MY NOTORIOUSLY NEW PRINTER

I hate printers. I also hate copiers, scanners, and fax machines.

Nowadays, you get one, you get the batch, but I still hate all of them, whether in one package or many. I got my new printer a few days ago and finally got around to installing it yesterday. Maybe I should have waited.

When you are setting up a new printer, what can you do if your WiFi simply won’t “see” it?

It turns out, the most popular technique is highly technical denial. This means you turn everything off and go shopping. Really, any outside-the-house activity will do the job. We went to Garry’s hearing place to see if they have a significantly better hearing aid for him. Not quite. Yet. Maybe it would be a little better, but not $4000 better.

When we came back from the hearing place and having briefly stopped at the grocery store, I realized I had to confront the printer again. Another one of the small aggravations of modern times: new computers — like this one — don’t have DVD players. I bought an external one, but first I tried downloading the setup instructions from the website. This is supposed to work just like the disc, but surprisingly, didn’t.

Probably, because the WiFi did not find the printer. Or maybe there was some other inexplicable reason.

When your WiFi won’t find a device, there isn’t much you can do about it. You can wave your hands in the air like a fan. Maybe that will blow the WiFi in the right direction. You can shake your devices — but this may work to your disadvantage. Then, there’s cursing. For many people, that works well, but for me, it’s a distraction from getting on with the job.

Turning everything off, then turning every back on is one of the most effective ways of convincing something that should be working to really work, but this time, it didn’t. I should have figured if going shopping didn’t fix it, I needed a new approach.

So, after we came home and I quickly realized it hadn’t magically fixed itself (damn), I hauled my laptop and DVD player into the office. There are — as it turns out — alternate instructions which only appear when you click “NO, that didn’t work either”  for the third time. At which point alternate instructions pop into your browser. These are apparently dangerous weapons of mass destruction and can only be used if your WiFi absolutely can not find the printer, even after you wave your arms and plead with the manufacturer.

It turns out, you have to press the WiFi button until the ALERT button flashes twice. Not three times. If it flashes three times, you have to start over. Next, you have to push the start button again, at which time the WiFi button should start to flash very quickly (not slowly … slowly won’t do the job). They also don’t warn you there’s a pause before it starts rapidly flashing — but if you push it again, you have to start over from the top.

If all goes well, at this point, unless your WiFi is actually out, you should have a connection.

Then you push another button while pressing a third button. Which prints a sheet which you will attempt to scan. Which inevitably produces an error message. If you try to do it again, all it will do is keep printing the same page.

I said screw it and gave up. Then, I decided to register the printer. It turns out, I can’t. Because I am a Canon user — but have no idea what my password used to be. I’m exhausted from carrying the laptop around and having to follow all those instructions.

Since the printer was been found by the WiFi, it would surely print if asked. If the WiFi had found the printer all by itself like it should have, I wouldn’t have had to do any of this. Windows would have taken over and installed everything. Immediately.

Good news? The printer says it works. I’m trusting this to be true. I’m not at all sure about the scanner, but I’ll save that for another day.

Have I mentioned how much I really hate printers? I used to hate fax machines and copy machines too, but now they’re all one thing. So I have just one big thing to hate instead of three.

Is this a good or bad thing?