It was really a lovely day. Cool, bright, not humid. The car, after these months of sitting under the trees which, these days, are covered with the remnants left by Marilyn’s birds. Our Renegade was not looking her best. And, there were a lot of medications waiting at the pharmacy.

We had gotten up early because Marilyn thought we had a doctor’s appointment, but it turned out to be next Tuesday. Since I was up already, I bravely ventured out. Mailed a long-delayed letter. Picked up medications, got the car washed, bought Marilyn a bouquet of white roses, then went down to River Bend.

I found a great spot for photographs, an old Andy Griffith, Mayberry scene. And there was a mom and her two little kids playing in the river. I was also wearing both mask and gloves with my USMC T-shirt and an NCIS vest (bought directly from the CBS online shop).  I guess I didn’t look dangerous enough to call the cops.

I asked permission to take pictures of her and the kids. Eventually, I asked why none of them were wearing masks. She told me, “Thanks for asking permission for pictures. Yes, you can take them. As for no masks and gloves, I think the media is blowing this out of proportion. The President knows what he is talking about.”

Long pause from me. “Hey, ” she said, “You look familiar. Didn’t you used to be on TV? Oh, don’t tell me. I know! I grew up watching you on TV. You have a nice day, now.”

I also guess no one told her about the literally thousands of snapping turtle who live in that area of the river. That’s why you aren’t allowed to swim in it or even dangle your feet off the dock. They like to munch on toes and fingers and have the jaws to for it.

Her 5-year-old is in preschool. The 4-year-old is in nursery school. And mom watches Fox News. You can’t save them all.

THE COMING OF THE iPhone – Marilyn Armstrong

My son talked me into it. It was the best deal I was ever going to get. My cousin’s son and my best friends’ sons did the same for them — all at the same time. It’s probably the quarantine that did it. They said that we were seriously in need of good telephones and, it was time they did something about it.

I guess we’ve reached the point when our kids are in the lead which is great. I needed a break!

I also needed to learn to text. Owen didn’t care so much about the rest of it, but he needed me to text because whenever I called him at work, even if the rest of the day had been boring and nothing happened, the moment I called there would be ten people lined up waiting for him. One of Murphy’s Laws.

So now I have an iPhone 11. That’s the small one (I don’t need a giant phone — at that point, I might as well get an iPad and I don’t like them, either, but Garry has one and he does like it so maybe I’m just not a Mac person.

I also got a new set of regular phones for our regular number. I will happily give my cell number to people I want to hear from, but I’d be just as happy to not have everyone calling me all the time.

I don’t understand most of how it works, but I can, reluctantly text. He’d buy and pay for the phone and the monthly “rent” if I would learn to text.

As far as cameras go, it’s a pain in the butt to transfer pictures from the phone to the PC. I don’t know if it would be easier to transfer them to the Mac, but my Mac has no decent photo software and I don’t have the money to buy it right now.

To use the pictures, I have to mail them to myself. Since I take a lot of pictures at a time, I usually have at least a few dozen to download. The photographs are physically large but only 72 pixels — which I find odd. For all that, they are sharp. I wonder who makes the lenses?

For unknown reasons, the camera doesn’t recognize the difference between a short movie and a photo. When you press “photo,” you get whatever it feels like giving you. It’s an existential photographic implement. It probably was raised in France.

It is useful to have something that is small, light and can take respectable pictures, but if you really want art, you need a camera. Focusing on an iPhone is slow compared to a camera. I suspect most people just take the picture and edit later (if they bother to edit). Most snapshooters don’t edit and all they are going to do with the picture is mail it to friends or family. That’s easy. Anything else is klutzy and ponderous.

Still, having something in your bag with which you can take pictures is useful, especially when you are someplace you weren’t planning to take pictures. But LOOK! There’s the most handsome squirrel or duck you’ve ever seen giving you his or her “good side” from a nearby branch. Assuming you can get the camera set up in time, you’ll get a clear, sharp photograph. For me, it will always be a way to shoot when I wasn’t planning to take pictures. I can see how for people who don’t post photographs online or on a blog, it is the “Brownie camera” with a far better lens and some cumbersome wide-angle and telephoto capabilities.

That is always the problem with something that does everything. It never does one thing perfectly but does many things pretty well (if you are lucky).

I took pictures at the dam the day before yesterday. I didn’t take my camera because it’s so heavy, but the day was beautiful and we were actually outside in The Big World.

The pictures are surprisingly good. It also took me the better part of the afternoon emailing them to myself. You can email them individually or as a compressed file, but one way or another, there’s a good deal of work you will need to do from the computer end of the process.

I had a lot of trouble figuring out how to hold the phone without my thumb in the middle of the shot. I still haven’t fully downloaded all the pictures. I probably never will. It’s too much like work.

I can text — slowly — and as a telephone, it’s loud enough for Garry to hear comfortably and that’s a big plus for him. It’s the first time he’s had a cell loud enough to hear clearly since we owned our first Blackberries. Those were classy phones! No photographs, but great sound, a clear signal, plus a usable keyboard. A great portable “office” to carry with you wherever you went. Lacking bells and whistles, but a fine working unit.

So, in summary, for a cell phone, it’s a good camera for grabbing a snapshot on the go.

SO WHAT’S NEXT? – Marilyn Armstrong

There’s nothing going on. I have a telephone doctor visit on Monday and in June, there are tests and examinations. I have no idea what will be going on by then.

May, last year

While the infection and death rate is slowly diminishing in Massachusetts, it isn’t nearly as low as I need it to be before I am comfortable “out there.” Really, until someone can give me even the most basic statistics of what is going on in Worcester County, how can anyone know what to do? I hear that they are making significant progress on the vaccine in England, but by the time they test it and make sure it’s safe, it’ll be another year.

I can’t believe it’s already May. April never happened. It came, we did nothing. It went. We are still doing nothing. Which is okay. I really don’t mind the isolation since we tend to be isolated anyway by choice. But the grim, cold, wet, icy, sleety weather is maddening. We have no flowers. All we have is mud. I hear flowers are blooming elsewhere, but we haven’t had two days in a row of sunshine so I guess that is a miracle of spring.

The little footbridge in the merry month of May by the dam on the Mumford

I’m not bored, but I’m restless. I’d like to go take some pictures. I’d like to see the rivers, the dams. I’d love to just see a few small buds on the trees. A blooming magnolia and a lilac. I’m being patient. Maybe if we go down to the canal late in the day when everyone else has gone home … assuming it ever stops raining … I can take a few pictures.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Water plants along the river

Meanwhile, enjoy these pictures from days of yore when I could go places and take pictures.


FOTD – May 2 – Flowers that bloomed in May 2019

Last May seems a decade ago. I remember this time of year we were going to the dentist. His office is right next to the waterfall and Mumford River. There were tulips and big puffy white flowers. We even had flowers in our own garden.

This year, our garden is more like a mud puddle. If it would stop raining, I bet we’d have a powerhouse of flowers. They just need some warm weather and sunshine.


Last night, our trail camera took 781 pictures. That is a lot of pictures. It was windy, because about 500 pictures were nothing, just waving feeders. But after deleting the first few hundred, there were actual pictures on it. About half raccoons and half flying squirrels.

You can actually see some of their features. It’s a miracle!

This is the beginning of the eating frenzy that happens every night. By the time you get to the raccoons, a lot of seeds are gone.

And just look at the heft of those raccoons!



Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Autumn Scenes

Autumn is our season, though for the past two years, it has been abruptly shortened by unusually warm weather and far too much rain. Still, we did get at least a week or two, which is better than nothing.

My favorite house in mid-October

The shed in October

The very end of October 2019 on the Blackstone River

Maple trees in late October at River Bend

Upward from the house to the road

Mid-October, on our road towards Rhode Island

THE CHANGING SEASONS, JANUARY 2020 – Marilyn Armstrong

The Changing Seasons, January 2020

This hasn’t been a normal January. We had no measurable snow and only 4 out of 31 days have been lower than average January temperature. Every other day was higher than average bringing this month in as the third warmest recorded.

Most of my pictures this month were birds. Without snow to make the landscape interesting, there hasn’t been much to photograph. Glad I have the birds!

At the very end, I realized my Christmas cactus is blooming again and my big purple orchid is about to bloom too.

Orchid ready to bloom

I almost missed it!

Icy small canal off the Mumford Dam

Wide view of mid-winter on the Mumford

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version 1 (Photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version 2 (Choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to Su Leslie’s original post, she can update it with links to all of yours.