HERE’S YOUR HAT. WHAT’S YOUR HURRY? Marilyn Armstrong

I used to be the Entertainment Queen of my crowd. It was close to 40-years ago, but I was the hostess with the mostest.

I fed the hungry, housed the homeless, cheered up the downhearted. I rescued cats, dogs, and lost people. No living creature was ever turned away. It got crowded and if feeding the birds is expensive, imagine feeding 20 extra people every week. I think I was in the kitchen whenever I wasn’t at work.

Motley crowd on Coney Island boardwalk.

One day, I realized I didn’t want to do it anymore. I wanted some privacy. I didn’t want to clean up the mess or cook gigantic meals. I was tired of spending all my money on other people. The crowd that assembled nightly in my living room weren’t really friends. I had become a facility. A place to crash. Where there was always music, food, something to smoke and probably a good conversation and a sofa.

So I started locking my front door and asked people to call before showing up. About half the crowd never came back … and I never missed them. Others drifted off in the course of time. A few are still my friends today.

Where friends … and guests … are concerned, quality is not necessarily quantity. Actually, these days? Less is definitely more.


AND NOW, TIME FOR A CLASSIC JEWISH JOKE:

A very poor man goes to his Rabbi complaining his house is too small and he can’t stand it anymore. “What should I do?” he asks.

“Get a big dog,” advises the Rabbi.

Puzzled, the man buys a sheepdog and brings him home. The house is even more crowded, and the man returns to the Rabbi. “It’s worse,” he moans.

The Rabbi nods his understanding. “Get a goat. He can be friends with the dog. Oh, and get a cat too.”

Even more confused, the man does as instructed. The house is unbearable. He returns to the Rabbi. “Please, Rebbe, it’s horrible at home. The dog, the cat, the goat … and it smells really bad.”

“I think you need a lamb,” says the Rabbi. “And a calf.”

DogsSlayThe BeastieDutiful to the end, the man gets a lamb and brings it home. The noise alone is deafening. There’s hair everywhere and the place stinks. Finally, he goes back to the Rabbi, now desperate for relief.

“Rabbi, OY VAY, IT’S TERRIBLE. The animals go all over the house and they chase each other. We have no peace, no privacy.”

“Get rid of all those animals,” orders the Rabbi. The man heaves a sigh of relief and the next week returns to see the Rabbi.

“Rebbe, it’s wonderful! We have so much room. The house is clean. Life is wonderful!”


Today, as promised I began the process of crating dolls. As boxes come in, anything big enough becomes storage for dolls. Many of these are more than 50 years old. Some are older than me, but they are effectively like new. Most will end up at the Salvation Army. I hope little girls get to play with them and love them as I did.

But the process of letting go is not merely getting rid of things, but recognizing you no longer have control over what happens to those items. That may be the most painful part of the process.

POP! NEW GUTTERS – Marilyn Armstrong

“POP!” Pop of Positivity Share
Theme: People doing the right thing
just like they promised!

Usually dealing with contractors is at it’s best, not too bad. This time, it went so easilyAtlantic Gutters were on my schedule for 2 pm. They showed up at 10:30 in the morning. Just as well we didn’t sleep late.

They went to work instantly without a moment wasted and in a few hours, they were finished. It cost $500 more than expected because there should have been fascia put on with the roof, but they weren’t there (we had really awful people doing our original work because we didn’t know anyone and we took someone’s recommendation.

New gutters from the deck

The guy turned out to be her brother-in-law and he’d never put up a roof or gutters before. It was a disaster for us, but he took the money and smiled all the way to the bank. We knew so little, it took us years to discover what a mess they had made.

Thus, for the past 19 years, gunk has been building under the edge of the roof. Without the fascia, we were going to need a roof soon. We just bought maybe 8 to 10 more years of roofing.

The company is Atlantic Gutters of New England and they are a large group, reasonable prices. Not the cheapest, but definitely not the most expensive. They are a big enough organization so that they are likely to still be in business in a few years. I sure hope so. They give a nice, long guarantee, but as I have learned, a guarantee is only good if the company stays in business.

Right now, I’m pretty happy. Even with the unexpected $500.

After they were finished … and I should add that they cleaned up every single item they used. When they were done, it was exactly as it had been before they began. Which means that we have several tons of leaves to blow into the woods. I always laugh when people suggest we need humus (no, not the delicious combination of chickpeas and tahini (with lemon, olive oil, garlic, and maybe a hint of chopped onion) but the rich soil you find on the floor of the forest.

We have a lot of humus. Enough for half a million gardens. Maybe more. So when they left and I had handed them my previously empty credit card because I really needed those gutters, I went out to the back porch to sweep up the pile of leaves and birdseed. Surprisingly, there were no seeds on the railing. Between the return of the Mourning Doves and the determined little chipmunk, every last seed got eaten.

We refilled the feeders — again. We filled them yesterday, too. We also let the Duke wander around the deck and bark himself sick. This does not scare the birds. They trust their wings. It freaked out the squirrels and the birds get a whole hour to eat before the squirrels were back.

After a while, the birds got tired of watching me push leaves off the deck and started hitting the feeders with energy, totally ignoring me and the Duke. They probably didn’t even appreciate the new gutters.

DOVES AND MORE ARE BACK AGAIN! – Marilyn Armstrong

When we manage to convince the squirrels that it’s time to unhook their claws from the feeders, the birds pour in by the dozens. They know they only have half an hour before the squirrels are back again. They don’t mind the little chipmunk who comes to clean up the fallen seeds on the wood railing and ground.

Our leaf-covered driveway.

Never mind that I swept and cleaned the entire deck yesterday. There’s no evidence today that it was ever cleaned. And then there’s the driveway. Why do the winds only blow leaves onto the drive, but never off? Just asking!

Chipmunk!

Lady Cardinal

The Mourning Doves are back

Tufted Titmice

 

LITTLE CREATURES IN AUTUMN – Marilyn Armstrong

We have quite a collection of creatures on our deck. Not only did the little chipmunk get up on the deck today, he managed to get up on the feeder, too. I have no idea how he did it. Good jumper? He can’t climb like the squirrels and he’s less than half their sign, too. Nor has he wings.

Still hungry after all those seeds!

Don’t let me interrupt your dinner

Magic chipmunk

The all year toad

Tufted Titmouse in Autumn

Golden foliage

Still got an appetite

Probably a titmouse

Rose-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Downy Woodpecker

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

But he did it. Sorry, I didn’t get a picture, but I was doing other things and I have learned to finish one thing before I start another. If I don’t finish what I’m doing, it’s entirely possible I won’t even remember what I was doing — much less finish it.

SPIDER, SPIDER – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Spider

I have always had a deep fear of spiders which wasn’t improved when Garry got bitten by a brown recluse and spent a month on antibiotics — and then I discovered we have wolf spiders all over our woods.

Our own wolf spider and he is bigger than he looks!

Spiders love our front door. No matter how many times you sweep it clear, the spiders and their webs are back in less than 24 hours. I have developed a very ambiguous set of emotions about them, too. I’m not less afraid of them …. but I also recognize that they eat other bugs that I hate even more than spiders. Okay, the gigantic black wolf spider on my back door — that was war. But he was the size of a dessert dish and I tried knocking him down to the deck, so he had three chances to run for the woods before I brought out the spider spray. And they aren’t poisonous. Just HUGE.

Our own personal Gypsy Moth caterpillars

But they eat other insects and lord knows we have plenty of bugs for them to gorge on. Just please, not in my house. Stay outside. I can cope with outdoor bugs. Just not in my house.

More ot those hideous caterpillars

We have also conquered the army of carpenter ants who were trying to take over the house and this year, finally no Gypsy Moth caterpillars.

I’m making peace — or trying to make peace — with the multi-legged universe of insects that surrounds us. I could do without the poisonous mosquitoes, though. They make me twitch.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis mosquito – Massachusetts variety

I fell in love with Blue Jays when I discovered they are one of the ONLY birds that really love eating Gypsy Moth caterpillars. May man of them come and live in our woods. We need you! Come home!

And I’m still waiting for the return of the bats. One bat eats more than double his weight in mosquitoes every night.

Welcome, Blue Jay!

BEFORE THE WINDS BLOW THE CREATURES MUST EAT – Marilyn Armstrong

There’s a story to go with these pictures. It’s one of my “Is my mind really going? Should I be taking something or stop taking something?”

I got lucky. I had the camera, I got a nearly perfect focus on the birds, the squirrel and then the chipmunk showed up too. It was the last golden leaves of Autumn. I took more than 100 pictures which I rarely do in the house.

This was a really busy day. I was running up and down to see how the contractor was doing and all three dogs were barking like mad.

And a Downy Woodpecker

Owen was coming in and out, bringing his stuff back. And my stairlift goes down ONE flight. I have to haul ass on the other stairs … and I’m off my pain meds because my body needs a break or at least, it sure feels like a break.

Looking for a few seeds?

Oh, look! I found a few seeds!

In the middle of this, there were all these creatures on the deck and I had a camera. They were incredibly cute and for once, I got the focus just about perfect — most of the time, anyway.

The Tufted Titmouse wants some food, too …

It’s all about the seeds. Really.

I thought about putting this post up later in the week, but it seemed so “now-ish” what with the storm coming and all the leaves coming down tonight.

Here is the story.

I took all these pictures and I did what I do … more to the point, I did what I thought I always do. I took the chip out of the camera and stuck it in the card reader in my computer. Then I watered all the plants (I’ve been intending to do it for a week), moved some money so I could pay the contractor, realized I’d run out of checks, realized I still had checks from when I first opened this account but I had to find them. (I did.)

I swear this squirrel was attached to the feeder from first thing in the morning until after dark. He NEVER stopped eating.

Somewhere in this process, I lost track of the chip with the pictures. I looked through every chip I own. I checked to make sure I really did take the chip out of the big Olympus.

Finally, my last hope, I looked in my mini Leica — which is the one I used to take pictures of the doors and the contractor — and there was the chip. Apparently, I pulled the chip out of the reader and stuck it in the other camera. I have no memory of doing it, but obviously, I did.

I keep saying miracles happen. I consider this to be one of them.