THE MOUTHS OF GIFT HORSES – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s February Expressions #15


Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth!


If someone is giving me a horse, I promise to only check to see if he or she need massive dental work. I’m already having that problem with Bonnie and the money involved is insane. It’s more expensive than having work done in Garry or my mouth! I can only shiver with fear about HOW expensive it would be to have a horse’s teeth done.

My experience with gift horses, in the more symbolic sense, is if it sounds too good to be true, it’s not true. When a company, an individual (who isn’t family or friend) is offering you stuff for free, there’s a catch. These days, we assume it’s a scammer or hacker trying to get at your personal data so he/she/they can pawn it off on the darknet or wherever they offer it.

But even if it’s a job offer that sounds way too good to be true, take it all with a dash of salt. The perfect job is rarely perfect. All my perfect jobs have turned out to be perfect when they sounded perfectly normal on the surface and only later did I realize I had somehow managed to get a fantastic boss and the world’s best co-workers. It was never in the job description. All job descriptions sound perfect — or nearly perfect. The reality is usually depressingly unlike the description.

In short, be sensible. Keep your hopes in check until you know how the land lies. Assume that if it isn’t written in the contract, it’s mostly hot air. If you turn out to be lucky and everything is amazing and wonderful, then leap for joy and smile every day that you can continue to work there.

Rarely are the things you dream about gotten free. Even if the potential is there,  you still need to put in your hours, sometimes, years to get from pretty good to great. There’s nothing wrong with optimism, but don’t confuse it with a phone call out of the blue or a headhunter who says “this job is the best ever.” Maybe it is or will be — but maybe not.

FAVORITE ROSE PHOTO – CEE’S FLOWER OF THE DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

February 15 – My Favorite Rose Photo


This is one of my top two rose photo favorites. The two pictures are very much alike.

I love this picture because the roses bloomed so intensely they look like the roses they put on the winner of the Kentucky Derby. Last year we cut them back very far and the bloomed, but not nearly as much as usual and I think the intense rain has prevented a lot of sun-loving flowers from blooming. It’s all mud out there!

OMG By Marilyn Armstrong

Have any of us ever calculated the number of posts on Facebook, Twitter, and even WordPress that start out with OMG or something like it? The sentence which follows might — or might not — have anything to do with the opening OMG. My personal favorite is when the author tried to fully engage the excitement, shock, horror, fear, loathing, and paralyzing awesomeness of his personal “event.”


She says, “OMG! I’m 25! That’s so OLD!
What can I do NOW?”


I would expect, given that she or he has lived 25 years of life to its fullest, surely it’s time to make burial plans. Buy a plot of land and a nice casket or arrange for a ceremonial burning. Any amount of time living life past 25 would be an obvious waste. Really, hasn’t she done it all? Any activity from this now on would be mere repetition

While we were out on the water with Tom and Ellin, there was an emergency in progress. A man had fallen in the water and apparently was “swept away.”

That doesn’t make a lot of sense as the water was dead-calm. It was low tide with water running into shore, not out to sea. But we’ll skip all that for now. I’m pretty sure Garry has more to say about the story. He can do news and probably never said OH, MY GOD, in all his years of reporting.

What we saw were people on jet skis closing in and apparently hoping to find … what? A living guy? A dead one? If you find a floating corpse while zipping around on your jet ski, what’s your next step? IS there a next step? Can you call the Coast Guard from your jet ski? Do you watch him float away while you zip back to shore to Tweet your friends about how you saw the “totally OMG coolest thing in the WORLD in the WATER?”

However much we may feel that the news no longer really is the news, at least not like was, if you consider how the news would be done without professionals? It makes me nearly collapse with laughter.

GOOGLY EYES – Marilyn Armstrong

I know I’ve posted this before, but I really like it so I’m doing it again! It makes me laugh every time I read it.

I woke up this morning with an earworm. Not your normal earworm. Mine was a 1920s earworm. It was a song my mother sang often and for once, she actually got the words right. Ask any member of my family and they will assure you: my mother never ever remembered the words to any song — except this one. She would sing words from other songs to whatever melody was bouncing around in her head. But she knew all the words to this one. It’s SUCH an earworm, once you listen to it, it just sort of sits in your head and goes around and around and around.

So I get up this morning and this is what I’m hearing, but without the scratches:

And by golly, the words I had in my head were dead on. Next, the obvious question arises:

How did Google get its name? – Mobilis In Mobile

The mysterious mysteries of the Internet

How did Google get its name?You may have read this kind of “official answer”: Google derived its name from the word “googol”, a term coined by then nine-year-old Milton Sirotta, nephew of the American mathematician Edward Kasner. The story goes, Kasner would have asked his nephew to invent a name for a very large number – ten to the power of one hundred, and Milton called it a googol. Blah-blah-blah!

Whatever say GSpecialists, Wikipedia or Google corporate itself, last Friday I discovered the secret when I was twittering with Orli. Google was named after Barney Google.*

Just listen to Barney Google’s song. No more to say!

One of you might write an essay on how, when and why granny Brin and/or Page was singing this song.


You may have read this kind of “official” answer: “Google derived its name from the word “googol”, a term coined by then nine-year-old Milton Sirotta, nephew of the American mathematician Edward Kasner but I’d bet money (and I never bet money!) that Google was named after Barney Google.” The most popular comic strip in the U.S. for dozens of years … and still around even today.

Barney Google – The History

Now you know the truth about Google and somehow, it makes a lot more sense than
any other explanation I’ve heard!

HOUSEKEEPING BY MAGIC – Marilyn Armstrong

One night, I explained to Garry about house-elves. He isn’t a big reader of fantasy, so some of this stuff was news to him. I told him if we left milk and cookies out, the little folk would come to our house.

Overnight, while we sleep, they would clean, scrub, repair, and cook. Fix the roof. Clear the snow. When we got up the next morning, the coffee would be ready along with delicious, fresh-baked goodies.

Homemade pound cake.

He looked at me. I think he wasn’t sure if he had heard me. “Is this like, real? Has this ever happened?”

“No,” I said. “Only in folk tales and fantasy novels. And Harry Potter. But wouldn’t it be nice if it were true? We could leave out milk, cookies, and an old pair of socks. Just in case.”

“Socks?”

“Yes. They use them as clothing.”

“Oh.”

Dobby_the_house_elf

One eyebrow went up. “You know some furry family members who would surely eat everything. And Bonnie would steal the socks. They might leave us a gift, but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be freshly baked croissants … or a clean house.”

I’m sure I had him, if only for a few minutes. I think I could have turned him into a believer. Underneath our rationality, we want to believe in magic. Raw reality has such rough edges these days. It’s exhausting and frightening.

Give me myth and please pass the magic. It’s so much better than reality, isn’t it?

TASTING EVERYTHING – Marilyn Armstrong

I’m a firm believer in tasting each item on your plate separately. Why? Because I put effort into cooking each part of the meal and I want you to taste it.

I’m in favor of not mixing your whole meal into one gloppy mess. If I’ve made the effort to cook three or four separate components to make a meal for example chicken limone, garlic mashed potatoes, and fresh asparagus with a hint of butter sauce.

I want to be able to taste each part of the meal separately. I want YOU to taste each of them separately, too. If you are one of those people who mixes everything into one heap, I will sit across the table and glare malevolently at you until you finally ask me what’s wrong.

I will then tell you what is wrong. In considerable detail, probably more detail than you want to hear.

I will explain the intricacies of the preparation. not to mention the labor I put into producing these gourmet delights.  And how by mixing them, you have nullified my efforts and personally offended me.

Telling “But that’s the way I like it” will win you an invitation to go buy an everything pizza. You are not worthy of my table. If you have, perchance, put ketchup on it, just back away from the table and leave quietly. It’s for your own safety.

I have figured out that I’m not “typical” as far as this style of eating goes. I often feel like I should never bother to cook anything more complex than pasta or chili. Or stew. Why bother to make separate items if no one can tell which is which? Why not just throw it all in one pot and cook the hell out of it? It’s one of many reasons I’ve lost my interest in cooking.

THE END OF THE WAR ON THE POND – Marilyn Armstrong

And when the nest-building and love-making are done, as the long spring afternoon stretches ahead, Mr. Mute-Swan stretches his wings and heads over to the other side of the pond to harass the demon Geese who stole his nest. No matter that he has built a new nest and it is a fine nest.


“Never forgive, never forget” is his motto. He will get the geese out of the pond. There is no forgiveness between swans and geese. This appears to be a permanent grudge.

Casually paddling cross the pond towards the old homestead.

Casually paddling across the pond towards the old homestead.

“What ho! Incoming” cry Mr. and Mrs. Canada-Goose. “Prepare to repel Mute-Swan!”

Incoming, 12 o'clock!

Incoming!!

In the assault, notice that our swan does not actually attack the geese directly. Instead, he attacks their nest. There’s no physical contact between the warring birds. It’s a war of principle, not annihilation.

Attack!

Attack!

Perhaps that is one of the differences between “creatures” and “humans.” We actually kill each other for far less worthy reasons than having had our nest stolen. Mostly, animals don’t kill each other unless they are hungry. Or it’s mating season and there’s a lady creature to be won. Cherchez la femme, even when you are a bird.

A new nest

Full-on attack mode! Swan is much bigger, but the goose is strong.

The attack continues.

Confrontation!

Confrontation!

And again, from another angle … still, with no direct contact.

Another battle

Another battle!

The geese don’t look all that upset. Is the attack part of an ongoing ritual? All parties seems to know the rules of the game. They were probably born knowing.

Paddling like mad, the attack continues!

Paddling like mad, the attack continues!

“I think I hear my wife calling,” says Mr. Swan. He slowly circles the nesting geese one final time. “But I’ll be back. Don’t think this is over. It won’t be over until you are gone from this pond.”

I shall return!

I shall return!

And it the end, the Canada geese gave up and moved to a different part of the river. It’s hard to figure why they bother to fight since there is so much water around. There is more than enough room for both of them and all the other waterfowl, too.

Be at peace, larger feathered friends.

THE CONCERT: FEBRUARY 5, 2020 – DR. ANTON ARMSTRONG AND THE ST. OLAF CHOIR – Marilyn Armstrong

I wish I could play you the music and listen to Anton speak. But I took pictures of the performance at Mechanics Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts. It was built in 1857 and has that beautiful sound that only halls built before we tried improving them have.

The Choir Bus!

Photo: Owen Kraus

I probably should mention that Anton is Garry’s youngest brother. It’s always a delight when he is in town.

Brothers!

The beginning …

The choir was, as always wonderful. Even more important for Garry and me was the Anton stepped up. He talked about the climate, injustice, slavery. He made the concert not merely beautiful, but relevant.

It was a very good evening at the end of a very bad day.

AWAY FOR A COUPLE OF DAYS … Marilyn Armstrong

We are taking a few days off, leaving in a few hours. I have posted new material while we are away, but it’s possible I won’t have time to answer comments. I’ll try, but not making any promises.

There’s a LOT going on around here and we’ve been very busy, especially since we aren’t normally busy. We actually need and use an alarm clock.

Owen will be here to care for the pups and make sure the birds are fed. And just for reference, it turns out if you feed the squirrels separately, everyone eats and I don’t have hanging squirrels trying to get into the feeders. The problem is, we feed the squirrels on the ground, so I don’t get any pictures. Oh well. I think they are happier not hanging from the feeder and the birds are less agitated. Cooperation works well with birds and squirrels, too.

Back by the weekend, so if I’m not in touch until then, have a great rest of the week!

BIRDS OF A FEATHER SOMETIMES FLOCK TOGETHER – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s February Expressions #11


As a very birdie lady, I have this to say about that.

Cardinal (boy)

Lady Cardinal

Some birds — like finches — flock together. The Goldfinches show up in bunches, often more than a dozen at a time and they don’t mind taking in the House and Purple Finches who also live in the woods with them. They apparently don’t care whether you are red, raspberry, or bright yellow.

Goldfinches – just beginning to change to their breeding feathers.

Goldfinch and flying Titmouse

On the other hand, while the Cardinal often shows up with his mate, he will not tolerate the presence of another male Cardinal in his “patch” of woods. If they meet, they go at it like World War 1 aces, whirling and attacking each other in the air. It’s quite a thing to see.

Two bluebirds

Two more Goldfinches

The Hairy Woodpecker doesn’t like anything or anyone but will tolerate his mate if she doesn’t get in his way. The Red-Bellied Woodpecker will tolerate other birds nearby … as long as they don’t poach on his piece of feeder. The Tufted Titmouses show up in groups, but not flocks and all the other birds are perfectly okay with them. Ditto the Nuthatches. Bluebirds only show up in groups (protection?).

In the watery world of fowl, Canada Geese and Swans hate each other. Meanwhile, Herons will eat the eggs of any other fowl if they can find the nests.

But all of these fighting birds are happy to hang around with ducks. No other bird has a problem with ducks and when the ducks hang out, they don’t care what kind of duck you are. Whatever feathers you wear are fine with all the ducks.

VANISHING & LEADING LINES: CEE’S FUN FOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Vanishing or Leading Lines


I always enjoy my chance to watch paths, tracks, and roads disappear at the horizon line.

Curves have a vanishing point

Grafton-Worcester-Line

Mumford River to its horizon point

Route 2 in Maine

The wires run forever over the desert and into the mountains

By the Canal in Uxbridge.

Bridge into Tampa

Winter in Northbridge

Photo: Garry Armstrong\

Hyannis to the Kennedy Museum

Is Coronavirus the Earth Abides plague? – Reblog from the Earth Abides Project

In his amazing predictive authoring, Stewart revived the earth by a plague. Is it here?


 

the EARTH ABIDES project

George R. Stewart was quite a prophet.

In his first great work, Ordeal By Hunger, he told the story from an ecological (or Ranger’s) point of view, but he began with the Astronaut’s point of view from Low Earth Orbit.  Not bad for a book published in 1936 (and still the best book about the Donner Party).

As he prepared for the publication of his ecological novel, Fire, he sent a letter to the Book-of-the-Month club publicist that prophetically explained:

“I consider the main theme … to be the problem of the relationship of man to his environment.  I really think of myself, in most of my books, as what might be called an ecologist. ”  (From a letter in the Bancroft Library’s George Rippey Stewart Papers. Published with permission of the family.)

In the Third Book of The Years of the City, Stewart pretty well…

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THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE – By DUKE ARMSTRONG

Barking up the wrong tree? Not a chance!


Fandango’s February Expressions #10

As soon as I saw this, I made mom give me the mouse. Okay, well, I sort of had to steal it while she wasn’t looking. She’ll never notice, arf arf arf.

Here I am, guarding the house!

What’s this stuff ’bout barking up the wrong tree? Barking is always right. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tree, a rock, or I think a squirrel was there yesterday. Barking is always right. Just ask Mom and Dad. They are always telling me to “Shut up already!” Do I listen? Of course not. Secretly, they REALLY know I’m protecting them from unseen and strange hazards from other dimensions. And squirrels.

Here I am again, listening for any sound that requires more barking. As long as my bark resonates throughout the house and yard, all is well. I’m very alert. Bet you wish I was watching YOUR world!

I have to keep turning to make sure I see everything.

I know it’s really fine because even after I bark for a long time, they always give me a delish crunchy. ‘Cause they know. My barking makes them secure. When I’m not barking? I’m watching for something to bark at. So there. Well, maybe I take an occasional nap.

Resting, but still keeping my eyes open. I’m such a GOOD boy.

 

CHRISTMAS CACTUS BLOOMING AGAIN – Marilyn Armstrong

FOTD – 02-11-2020 – Christmas Cactus


I didn’t even realize it had started blooming because part of the table cloth on which the plants stand is red. But it’s blooming. Not with quite the verve it showed last November and December, but definitely blooming. And I gave it a shot of 10-10-10 fertilizer because it’s a cactus so I thought what worked for an orchid might reasonably work for a cactus. I hope I’m right. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Red blooms

Wider shot

Warmer

The Big Lie and Spasms of Spite – Reblog – Gordon Stewart

Some good words for people who still have a conscience …


 

Views from the Edge

IF I ONLY HAD A SHIOE

The president’s spasms of spite at Friday’s post-acquittal White House celebration sent my soul into spasms of its own. Hearing the president claiming that the impeachment trial’s acquittal exonerates him of all wrongdoing, calling out Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff as “evil people” on his enemies list, and belittling the conscience and religious conviction of Sen. Mitt Romney — his party’s only senator to break ranks — with the cheering peanut gallery that knows, but will not publicly recognize, the president’s sociopathic character was more than I could take. The party that swallowed a fly gave credence to the lie.

“Telling a big enough lie, and telling it often enough that people will believe it” has a history. So do spite and scapegoating. If in Germany the scapegoats were communists, Jews, gypsies, and “homosexuals”; and if in the McCarthy Era, they were leftist traitors…

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