SCRABBLE!

I haven’t written anything because I’m playing Scrabble. I have so missed it that finally getting a copy on my computers — got one on the Mac and the phone too — is great. I’m a really good Scrabble player and I will only play with a computer or someone who plays very well. Otherwise, it’s not fair.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

I played Scrabble every day for all nine months of my and my friend Sue’s pregnancies (we were pregnant together). We got really good at it, so when we get to see each other, yes, we play scrabble. She’s the only living person who can regularly beat me. It’s a relief.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

So if I seem to be away from the computer, it’s a couple of things: a lot of doctor visits all of which were deferred because of the quarantine — Garry’s and mine — and Scrabble. There are a lot of doctors this week alone. Three appointments, each of which is going to take most of the day.

Next Monday, Garry has an appointment to get his hearing tested and see if he can get his hearing aid repaired. It’s at the hospital, so I may not go because they won’t even let me into the waiting room while he gets all his testing done — and the testing takes hours. The repairs may take some time, too.

The road to our polling place

The next day, it’s me and the pain clinic, which is very close to Boston, so we won’t have much traffic going in at lunchtime, but we are bound to hit rush hour coming home. It’ll be interesting to see if traffic is lighter now than it used to be … and it’s election day, too. We’ve both voted already so we don’t have to take time out for that, but at night, it’s me and the election.

Back home

I am an election junkie. I have always been like that since the first one — John Kennedy — was on television when I was 13. Except when I was in Israel, I never have missed an election. This one, for obvious reasons, is extremely important and different than any other election in my lifetime, but I’m going to watch it. I don’t think we’ll know the results the same day as we usually do, but since Trump has said he isn’t going to leave the White House even if he loses, this could get very interesting and not in a good way.

Up the road

If we have a revolution or a civil war, I will play more Scrabble. And I will read a lot. Because I have no idea how to deal with a war. None whatsoever.

SHARING MY WORLD ON THE DAY WE VOTED

SHARING MY WORLD AGAIN

We voted today and now what is left is holding our breath and hoping it will all work out. I also got to actually see my doctor. Mostly, we talked about why inhalers cost so much, how tired we are of COVID and how we have no choice but to deal with it, no matter how tedious it is. Some of us do not have a choice. Then we talked about pain — mine — and how as far as I know, there’s nothing I can do about it. Nothing at all. Pain management, but that’s difficult since opioids make me sick, so what I’m taking (Tramadol) is pretty much as good as it gets. Which isn’t, sadly, very good.

It was the old High School. Now, it’s the new Middle School.

I said: “Given how bad it is now, I dread to imagine how I’ll be in five years. And my luck being what it is, I’m probably going to live forever just to keep my chronic ailments from disappearing.” So he told me the story of the supposedly oldest woman in the world — 129. He doesn’t think she is quite that old, but admits she is definitely very old. She says her long life is God’s revenge because in all her life, she can only remember two happy days in her life.

Garry shooting autumn foliage

Two days out of 129 years? That’s pretty bad. I can remember a lot of happy days, even recently, though it gets difficult as the pain keeps getting worse and I wonder how I’m going to keep managing. He wants me to go to this very special pain clinic near Boston, even though it’s very inconvenient. Because, he says, they seem to work miracles even with people like me who have pretty much given up hope. I said “What the hell, I don’t have anything to lose as long as they don’t try to give me drugs I can’t take.” The worst it can do is nothing.

And now today’s questions, which are heavily overshadowed by the day that went before them.


A Guy Called Bloke” asked this one last Saturday on a random question post he wrote: “How many people in real life or on social media (including WordPress, which has become a rather social media site) do you consider good enough friends to help you ‘hide the dead body?”

I would say three or four, except they all live terribly far away. This probably makes burying the body difficult, but they are for the most part, really good at giving emotional support. This is almost as good as burying the body and to be fair, I don’t have any unburied bodies lingering around so I’m probably good.

Are You Ready To Order?   What Are You Having (craving) right now?

Something that will make me hurt less. This is one of those days when something — rheumatoid arthritis? fibromyalgia? regular arthritis? — is making absolutely everything hurt. Yet tomorrow, it may be much better. There is absolutely no figuring why I have these really bad days, though the fibromyalgia is probably the most likely candidate because of its vagueness and unreasonable lack of reasons for showing up at all. It isn’t connected to anything that happens in the “real world.” It just drops in and makes you feel like hell until one day it goes away. For a while.

How’s the weather in YOUR neck of the woods?

Our home in the fall

Beautiful. No, seriously. It’s sunny, chilly at night, warm by day. It’s fantastic weather. Of course, we need rain, but in the meantime the weather is delightful.

There has always been something. Before there was something, there was only nothing. Which do you think is more likely?

I don’t have the slightest idea. I have no concept of nothing, so I figure there was something, but different — whatever it was or wasn’t.

KINDA LIKE AUTUMN LEAVES

Not by the river or along the road, but in our backyard … 

Most of the places on our property are either still green (the oaks) or bare (the maples) …. but these trees are aspen and I think in transition from green to gone. They are among our last autumn leaves.

Backyard autumn
In the front, still golden

KINDA LIKE BIRDS OF MANY FEATHERS

Kinda like Birds of Many Feathers

I have to admit, I have taken a lot of pictures of birds. i know this because when i look for pictures — any kind of pictures — the page is dominated by photographs of birds. I hadn’t realized I’d become so obsessive about taking birdy pictures, but the evidence is hard to ignore.

That for the past 7 months we have rarely left this property probably has a lot to do with it. The birds — and associated other small wildlife — are the only interesting things to take pictures of.

KINDA LIKE THE MIDDLE OF A SMALL TOWN

Kinda like the Middle of Town

Squarely in the middle of Uxbridge, it’s easy to miss the fact that you’re in the middle of anywhere. But hey, this is where you will find a grocery store, a couple of banks, the library (the first free library in the United States), Town Hall, and our brand new firehouse. And of course, Uxbridge Town Commons and its many churches.

The picture was take by Garry on his way back from the pharmacy. It’s autumn, after all and those beautiful leaves won’t last forever.

THE PATH NOT TAKEN – A PHOTO A WEEK CHALLENGE

A Photo a Week Challenge: The Road Not Taken

In the winter, in the snow … or through the autumn woods. There is always an untaken path. There is never enough time to walk every path. We are inevitably forced to choose between one and the other. I think we always believe the other road was probably better … but we’ll never know.

ONE MILLION VIEWS

Looking at my stats, I realized before this month is over, I will pass a million views. When I started blogging, I remember discovering I’d made it to a thousand views. I was thrilled. A thousand was a lot! Those were the days when getting two or three views was a big deal. Then, suddenly, I was getting a hundred, two hundred, three hundred a day. It happened fast. I never imagined I would still be blogging eight years later and suddenly, in front of me, was the million marker. I know others who have crossed it and of course, the really big bloggers who are way up there in the multi-millions, but for a regular “I do it for the fun of writing and posting photographs” kind of blogger, a million is a lot of views.

I’m not getting the kind of traffic I used to get. I think the glory days of blogging are drawing to a close. There aren’t enough platforms anymore and they all charge more money than I can reasonably pay. I’m glad, before I fade away, that I’m going to make that mark.

I stopped pushing for bigger numbers a couple of years ago. It wasn’t that I didn’t care. It was just that I cared more about the writing and the pictures. The numbers were incidental. I also felt obliged — with all this political madness — to notch my writing frenzy down a few pegs. I began to realize while I love blogging, I also enjoy the rest of life. I started baking again. Bored with the same old food, I figured if I couldn’t stop cooking, I could at least try making more interesting dishes.

I also missed the joy of wrapping myself in a book and letting the real world disappear. And music and the occasional movie. All the hassles with WordPress made blogging so much more like work and so much less fun. I’m still trying to figure out what I’ll do at the end of my fiscal year. What I’m really hoping is that they fix their block editor to make it more “bloggable” and less of an ugly clunker. Make it more friendly for people who just want to enjoy blogging. If I wanted to get really SERIOUS about blogging, there’s always Medium. They want serious writing and if you get popular, they will pay you, too.

I can write seriously. But more often than not, I want to have fun. I want the fun of remembering stuff, telling stories. Showing off a few pictures. Serious is sometimes. The rest of the time, blogging is my idea of fun. Birds, flowers, foliage, and people from olden days when we were young and frolicked more while worrying less.

On a good day, I still enjoy blogging … but I don’t want to give it my all every day. This morning, I looked at Garry and asked him: “What’s going to happen next month? Are we heading for a civil war? When I lived in Israel, we were always expecting a war. War could come from outside. It wasn’t a civil war. This is something entirely different.”

Garry admitted he has no idea what is going to happen because this isn’t like anything he’s lived through before. I’m not sure anyone in our generation or younger who was raised in this country has any idea what might happen. I need to put some time into thinking about what living means to me, to Garry, to all of us. How we are going to find our way from this very dark place to a happier one. A million views is a nice thing but I’m not sure how much it’s going to help us get through whatever is coming next.

KINDA FULL OF GOLDFINCHES

Kinda full of Goldfinches

From late in December, they show up in flocks. They are gone now, off to Ontario where in November, they breed. When they come back, they won’t be the same bright yellow they were all summer. They won’t be in breeding colors. But they will still be a pleasure to have around.

A small flock of Goldfinches on the feeder

 

KINDA UP A TREE

Kinda up a tree

This is the one time of year where getting stuck up a tree might be kinda good. Or at least very pretty. These sugar maple trees turn the best colors of all the trees. Scarlet and orange, they are the absolutely prettiest trees in New England. We don’t have many on our property because the oaks are so tall, they shade the maples and keep them from growing. But where they have the light, the are magnificent.

A FEW MORE PICTURES FROM OUR (BRIEFLY) COLORFUL FALL

It didn’t last long, but at least it was there, however briefly. I didn’t think I took a lot of autumnal pictures, but between August and September, Garry and I too more than 3000 pictures, so I guess we were busier than we thought. I sometimes take a couple of hundred bird pictures in the morning, before coffee! In between the cooking yesterday, I got some great pictures of the last set of orange-billed Cardinals. Each set of fledglings look different than the others. The DNA in these birds is working overtime.

And I still have bunches of River Bend pictures from both me and Garry. So we’ll just celebrate fall a little while longer. It’s still “fallish” outside and the oak leaves are still green.

CLIMATE CHANGE IN SOUTH CENTRAL MASSACHUSETTS

We don’t need scientists to explain climate change to us. We can see it all around us. The rivers are dry with their muddy bottoms showing. Fall came weeks early and blew away a week later. The winds which normally blow straight up the Atlantic shore are twisting eastward, so all the rain goes from the mid-Atlantic area straight out to sea, completely missing the northeast.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

As a watershed area, the water that we store here is part of the water that keeps the entire state flowing wetly along. And some of the water normally flows down into Connecticut and parts of southern New Hampshire.

Muddy banks, short dock at Riverbend

I leave a bowl of water on the deck. Squirrels, chipmunks, birds  … they all come to drink. Usually there are little rivulets and patches of wet through the woods. But not this year. It’s bone dry which is scary for any number of reasons, including the danger of fire. So far, it has just been little brush fires, quickly squelched. But New England is 70% wooded. There’s a lot of forest and it’s dry. And contrary to presidential warnings, no one has been out there raking the woodlands to keep them neat. What a really stupid idea that is. There’s so much stupidity going around. It’s hard to keep track of all the dumbness. I wish some of the incredibly stupid ones would drop by. Check out our dry rivers. Maybe pick up a rake and start raking my woods. Maybe cut down a few ailing trees while he’s at it.

We aren’t waiting for climate change to come. It’s here. We’re living in it.

A GOLDEN DAY IN AUTUMN

Autumn came weeks early because of the long summer drought that is not over yet. We had a normal spring, but then the rain stopped falling. We’ve had a bit of rain and too much wind and autumn flew away. Very early. At least we almost had autumn this year, which beats out last year when we pretty much nearly missed it completely.

Our house is not normally an area that gets a lot of color, but we did this year. But we did get outside a bit. I was hoping to get one more trip down to the river … maybe down to the river in Rhode Island.

I have reached the outer edges of my political process. It’s not that I’ve changed my mind. I think Trump is the worst president America has ever had and god forbid we should give him another four years at the helm. I do not believe we would have a country anyone would want to live in.