MOVING WATER IN BLACK & WHITE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Moving Water

There was a time when I thought I might eventually shoot every dam in the valley, but not all of them are accessible to traffic. A lot of mills were built by dams deep in the woods whose only access was by train — or barge. Short of going there by train (there is a train, but it only runs once a week at 5 mph) or canoe, those dams are forgotten. If they had names, they have been lost to time.

Mumford Dam, Uxbridge

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Roaring Dam, Blackstone

White water at the dam

Near Milford, name of dam unknown

Dam in Northbridge

Manchaug

Whitin’s pond

Cee's Black-White

 

STAIRS AND STEPS- Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Stairs

When we bought this house — 19 years ago — I figured there were only 12 stairs from the front door: six up and six down. We were moving from a three-story triplex in Boston, so a mere 12 steps didn’t seem like much. I could not imagine a time when I wouldn’t be able to climb six steps — or in a pinch, twelve with a landing int he middle.

Wooden steps from the deck to the backyard

Who knew? I have a stairlift for the top six, from the middle landing to where we live, bu the other six? “Haul away, men. She’s on her way.”

Garry now has to haul himself up by the handrail.

Scotties on the upper six stairs

Stairway to the river by the Mumford Dam

The problem is, I guess, that this is a hilly region, There are no flat areas and what few there are, are occupied by farms. That’s where our local fresh corn comes from. And the local grapes, cucumbers, and other produce.  Mostly these days, we seem to be breeding horses — saddle horses and huge Clydesdales and Percherons. Do we have any particular use for these gigantic (and beautiful) horses? No, not really, but they are glorious animals.

Four Clydesdales hooked to a dressy rig is a great entrance for a couple getting married., The saddle horses are owned by academies. If these places have flat areas, these are used as a ring for training riders and horses. Most places bring in bulldozers to flatten sections.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

We had to bring in a bulldozer to flatten our backyard. You can ask a lot more for houses if by some quirk it happens to be on flat ground at the top of a hill so water runs down and away from it.

We are in the middle of the hill. A long slide down the driveway from the road is our personal Bunny Slope. Thus our backyard is flat, but still needs a canal of its own so the water that collects at the base of the driveway can roll down to the woods.

From the read of the back lawn, there is a precipitous drop through some impressive boulders to a flat area at the bottom, after which the land rises again. Since the entire area is networked by bodies of water — rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and canals initially used by factories and spinning mills to move goods to the main canal or ultimately, the railroad.

The long drop from the Worcester hill into the hill-and-dale of the watershed means almost no houses can be build on flat land. Newer houses — like ours — are either split levels or Georgian-style brick buildings built into the hills. Like a split level before there were split levels.

Pretty much every house has stairs. The parks have long stairways because that’s what you can do on these rolling hills. This house is a raised ranch. The lower level has one area that is a real basement. The rest of the level includes a den with a fireplace, a big bedroom. a tiny bedroom now used as a closet, another unheated room for storage,  plus a bathroom with a shower, toilet, sink, and the washer, and dryer. What remains of the original garage is a work area.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

We find ourselves going up and down often. We store extra food on the shelves downstairs. A lot of items that come and go in the house — little table, pictures, wrapping paper, winter coats in the summer, summer clothing in the winter. The attic was never finished. It doesn’t have a complete floor and is full of loose fiberglass for insulation. We don’t go there since its pull-down wooden stairs feel dangerously creaky.

Take a walk along the banks of the Blackstone

Yet, when we moved in, I hopped up and down the stairs like they were nothing. I didn’t even mind the three-story townhouse in Boston, though I could tell a time would come when I wouldn’t be able to deal with it. By then we also had two dogs and a cat and I wanted a yard for the dogs. With a fence.

Just 12 steps, but sometimes, they feel like so many more.

VIBRANT COLORS — BIRD STYLE! – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge:
Vibrant Colors


It was a brilliant day for the birds today. The most brilliantly colored of the birds is the cardinal, and for once, I got a lot of pictures of both male and female cardinals — and a few other birds 😀

 

MY HOME TOWN – Marilyn Armstrong

My Home Town

It’s a small town. Main Street, north and south of Route 16 which crosses Uxbridge down the middle and moves on to other towns.

Thank you, Nancy Merrill, for offering such a great topic for photographs. I have had three home towns: New York, Jerusalem, and Uxbridge. With each change of home, my town has become smaller. There are a lot of issues involved in living in the country, but it beats out any city, at least for us. The beauty of our world is unmatched.

I wouldn’t mind a movie theatre and a bit more shopping,  but it’s a good and beautiful place to live. Whatever may be wrong with it, we are not spending our lives fighting for parking spaces, driving through endless crowded roads … and coping with the grime and grit of bigger cities.

WE WENT TO THE RIVER BECAUSE THE WORLD WAS GLOWING – Garry Armstrong

By the time we got through with the bank and the grocery and the pharmacy, I was ready for an ambulance.

The years really do catch up with you. I was so tired, I hadn’t even brought a camera with me.

Of course, Marilyn just happened to have a spare travel size Leica in her purse that she let me use.

This is the “end” of peak foliage. Beautiful, but it loooked like a golden snowstorm.

Colors by the Blackstone.

I really liked that little camera. Since I have a record of adopting Marilyn’s stuff and keeping it, she sat me down and said: “You can’t have the Leica. I love you and you can borrow it, but I am not going to give you my Leica.”

Marilyn taking her own pictures.

Time to watch the water ripple

Reflections

Now those are Autumn specials!

I couldn’t even argue the point, but what a nice little camera it is! it’s doesn’t have as long a lens as some travel cameras, but it doesn’t distort images, the colors stay true … and you can clip it in your pocket. Well, not yet. But I’ll talk her out of it. In the end, she’ll give me the camera.

That’s love.

The Boyz

THEN IT WAS AUTUMN AFTER ALL – Marilyn Armstrong

October 19, 2019 – Autumn Leaves

It looked hopeless. It was a month late and there was so much rain. And it was warm too late into the season. So most of us — especially me — sighed and decided we weren’t going to get a real Autumn this year. Kind of like last year where it just never happened.

Instead, after a huge storm of torrential rain and high wind — the kind of storm that usually knocks the leaves off the trees and gives us naked limbs. But that’s not what happened.

The deep orange maple over the little house with the blue door

Golden leaves in October

Wide view of the old stone bridge, river, and canal

Along the canal pathway

The storm came. It went and suddenly, it’s really Fall. The colors are up. It was impossible — but it happened anyway.

ANOTHER DAY DOWN THE TUBES – Marilyn Armstrong

It wasn’t a bad day. More, it was a day when you don’t stop moving and when it’s over, you wonder if you accomplished anything.  There were so many stops and starts and lots of running up and downstairs.

I never made it to comments. I haven’t opened any emails. I did take quite a few pictures but haven’t had time to process them.  The rain is just starting. It may not hit us as hard here —  not the rain, anyway — but definitely very high winds. With the trees still full of leaves, that means blowing branches and breaking trees.

The animals must know what’s coming. Everything was in a feeding frenzy.

Photo” Garry Armstrong

Our nor’easters are essentially “local hurricanes.” Storms come in from the ocean and start to spin. They don’t move. So if it’s rain, there’s flooding. In the winter, we’ve gotten as much as three or four feet of snow before it finally breaks up.

With the contractor working, there was a strong sense of pressure to get finished before the weather moved in.

Then, there were phone calls. I’m checking out other medical insurance. I should have made the calls earlier in the week, but I had to make them today.

Meanwhile, it’s the world series but I think they are going to cancel the American League Pennant because of the weather. A glitch in Garry’s baseball channel went on for hours and entailed a prolonged wait on hold for tech support. To learn, as I suspected, they were having problems. The baseball channel has a lot of problems, but if you want to watch baseball, gotta have it.

I needed to fix Garry’s broken email too — which wasn’t difficult but took a long time. Warning! Delete old emails! If you don’t, eventually your email server stops serving and goes on strike.

The contractor did a GREAT job on the house. He’s still here. It is a real improvement. No more rot and no more of that sloppy, moldy old door … and the front door is finally insulated and nicely finished. It needs a new painting, but I think maybe it’s too late.


New Surroundings — our contractor — managed to do a good job without bankrupting me in the process. He did a really good job. All neat and sealed against the weather. And we sure have weather incoming. 


Tomorrow, we have to take the car in because somehow, one of the two latches that keep the hood in place broke off. No accident or anything. It’s just gone. It’s not a big deal driving a few miles into town, but a longer trip could cause serious damage.

Meanwhile, since both Garry and I have doctor appointments next week at UMass, their automated equipment calls every day for each appointment. They are such long calls, too. I feel a powerful need to go edit their electronic phone calls.

None of this sounds like a big deal and it wasn’t a big deal, but It was busy and fragmented. This is the only thing I’ve written today and I need to process at least a few pictures. Frozen pizza for dinner because I’m off my meds for a few days to give the rest of me a break. Today is the day I realized what a difference they make.

With the washing of the dishes, the official day is done. I feel like the day never fully started. I knew this month was going to get weird. On my agenda for tomorrow is explaining to the doctor that Garry’s has run out of hydrochlorothiazide because The Duke ate the container. Duke doesn’t (fortunately!) eat the pills. Just the plastic container. And any wood he can wrap his jaws around.

I have a lot of natural antiqued wood furniture. Duke is not the first wood chewer in the household. Only the most enthusiastic.

The Wood-Eating Duke

LINES AND SQUARES – DAY SIXTEEN! – Marilyn Armstrong

LINES AND SQUARES ON THE SIXTEENTH DAY

Autumn is here — but likely will be gone by tomorrow. A major north Atlantic storm is due to hit us tomorrow by late afternoon. This will hopefully leave enough time for the contractor to finish the front door finishing. The door and wall are done already.

The contractor showed up on time and everything! He didn’t have his hand out before he took the tools out of the truck! There ARE miracles.

The sun wasn’t supposed to show up in that picture. I didn’t know it was there until I put the photos on the hard drive. I love the way the sun makes its own rays if you get the lens at the right angle.

Along our road

AUTUMN CAME BY FOR THE DAY! – Marilyn Armstrong

Autumn at the Canal and River – October 14, 2019

In a desperate attempt to cut down on email, I put all my emails from blogs onto the Reader and now I’m not getting anything at all and can’t FIND anything even when I look. At least I found this.

It’s hopeless. No matter what I do, I either don’t have anything at all or I have mountains of stuff.

Today we had Autumn. Sunshine and golden trees and everything. We took pictures. Not enough. I’m going to try to get out tomorrow, too because by Wednesday, torrential rain will be back and that will probably finish it off.

These are from both Garry and me, all taken down by the dam and Blackstone River. We had bigger plans, but I needed to hustle home to the bathroom. It turns out, there are none of them anywhere around that park. Not even one of those plastic horrors.

From Garry:

From Marilyn:

MY WORLD GOES ROUND AND ROUND – Marilyn Armstrong

I was about to give up. Contractors have a weird way of vanishing just when you think you’ve got a deal. You have the money in hand. The house awaits some long-awaited repairs. Which is when your contractor slips into the mists of time and disappears. What happened?

But not this time — or at least I don’t think this time. We have a date. I have the money. If we don’t get typhoon-level rain for all next week, we’ll have a fixed side of the house and a repaired (and hopefully freshly painted) front door.

The deck Dutch door won’t make this year’s repair list. We’ve run out of time. The weather is turning, so that job will have to wait until our next not-winter. I would say spring, but spring is usually winter, but wetter. So the next time after the regular winter when we have weather in which a carpenter can work … like maybe May or June, the Dutch door gets fixed. Along with the rot around it.

I am thrilled. No, really. I know there are too many other things going on about which I seem unable to do much. So I send $5 to Elizabeth Warren and fill my bird feeders which somehow doesn’t seem nearly enough, but it’s what I’ve got to offer and I figure it beats nothing by a little something.

Oh, and I switched to all wind-powered electricity. Yes, I know it costs more, but I figure it’ll be maybe $5 a month … well, with Owen coming back and all his stuff, probably more but he’ll pay his way, so it should be fine.

Meanwhile, Garry is feeling better and Bonnie seems to be barking less. She now seems to require a biscuit from both of us. We have to both appear and bribe her and then she goes back to sleep. Don’t ask me. I don’t get it either.

I’m just really happy the house is getting 2/3 fixed. We didn’t really have the money for the Dutch door anyway, but I was going to try to “make a deal.”

Something I read today — I think an article in the Washington Post — the author said that by Friday, she can’t remember what happened on Monday unless she goes back and reads her notes. That’s just how I feel. By Friday, this world has whizzed around its axis about 48 times. I sometimes forget the morning news before lunch.

But at least I am getting a couple of major items cared for. So in case the world survives, I’ll have a great front door and won’t have that rotten side door anymore.


This song was written by  Tom Paxton, but I can’t find a copy of him doing the singing. This singer’s okay and he plays the guitar well. So he will have to do!

In case you may be wondering why, despite the fact that the door that opens onto the deck is not getting replaces, it’s because I simply love that door. I love being able to open the top and have the air blow through the screen in the door. It turns out that Dutch doors are well-loved and wildly expensive. I could probably make a fair bit selling it, but I just love that door.

Scrabbling Junco feet!

Today we had two rather hungry looking squirrels, our usual chipmunk who is beginning to become a teenage chipmunk … and a lot of woodpeckers. I wonder why the woodpeckers are so fond of our feeders? We have a woods full of trees and a fair number of them are old and hollow, so there ought to be plenty for them to eat … but maybe we serve a better meal?

IT’S BEEN ONE OF THOSE MONTHS – Marilyn Armstrong

Garry is the most obsessive tooth-brusher and general oral cleaner I’ve ever met. Apparently, this alone was not enough to stop an abscess from forming under a filling in the gum right on top of the tooth’s root. OUCH.

He didn’t just have an abscess either. He had managed to contract an ear and lymph node infection — just to round it all out. Some people have all the fun!

He’s taking the biggest amoxicillin pills I’ve ever seen along with gigantic muscle relaxants and some pretty hefty pain medications. He says he feels like he’s got a really bad hangover. You think?

But he’s sleeping really well.

Next door to the dentist!

They won’t pull the tooth until next Wednesday by which time the antibiotics will have knocked out most of the abscess. Followed by two fillings for small breaks in teeth that aren’t really cavities, but do need to be patched before they become something worse.

He is not a happy camper and I’m trying to figure out what to cook since he can’t chew much and can’t have any sugar or anything crunchy. Too bad he really hates oatmeal.

Chicken soup?

And there goes the repair on the back door. Oh well. Sometimes life is just like this. I’m hoping after this, we get a bit of a break. Please!

SUNFLOWERS BY FARM, ROAD, AND RIVER – Marilyn Armstrong

Sunflowers by the Farm-September 29, 2019

Apparently, the original owners of our favorite farm have sold to a new owner. He’s not a new owner in the sense of being young and looking to make a splash in the local farming world.

He is also Native American and I’m guessing the only Native in town. I wasn’t comfortable enough with him to ask him about tribe and affiliation … but he looked like a classic painting and he had long wavey white hair. Handsome man. Maybe a bit young for me and anyway, what would Garry say? Of course at our age, Garry is most likely to ask when the next corn cutting is coming. We are no longer hot to trot.

I think he is in his early sixties though he might be older, just in very good physical shape. Friendly, too. I was grateful. There’s no guarantee that new owners will be as friendly and glad to have visitors as previous owners.

I’m assuming the original owners retired. For one thing, their house is huge and now that I’m pretty sure the kids have left, that’s 18 rooms plust at least two full levels of stairs. Way too much to try and care for. And the house is more than 100 years old, so figure there’s a lot to be done.

Farming is hard, even if you aren’t trying to prove anything. I’m glad he sold to someone who wants to keep the farm as a farm and not turn it into condominiums along the Blackstone. Uxbridge is underpopulated and that’s the way I like it. I know it’s hard to find work and if we had more people, we might get something better resembling a “government.” But who needs a government anyway?

When all my other flowers die, this is what takes over.

As it is, we don’t have a mayor — or anyone who wants to be one. No one wants to be anything. It’s a “head’s down and you’ll keep out of trouble” sort of place.

The next farm down the road has a herd of dappled Tennessee Walkers. I think all Walkers are dappled and their colors change from year to year. Mostly, they are gray, ranging from nearly white, to medium gray. If I were still riding, what a discovery this would be!

Garry with chickens

Even though it has been more than 20 years since I rode, I still get excited at the smell of horse. Non-horse folks wrinkle their noses, but the smell of a well-worn set of leather chaps is like perfume to me. Maybe that’s why I don’t mind that my house smells like dogs who urgently need a bath.

FOUND ON THE FARM – Marilyn Armstrong

Things Found on a Farm

It had been a lovely morning and early afternoon, but by the time we go our gear together, the sun was playing peek-a-boo. We went anyway. We were just going around the block to the farm along the river.

There are two or three farms along the Blackstone. Maybe four. The first one, where we usually go, is a dairy farm. Corn, eggs, fresh milk, butter are sold on-site. We never get any of the corn because we show up too late. By then, the corn is gone except for the hulls that would be good for squirrels or cattle, but not for people. They did have apples, but I still have a bunch of Galas at home.

You definitely need some cows on a dairy farm!

I had a fair number of pictures from the farms already, but they weren’t “things.” More like animals and products, so this time, I tried to get pictures of implements. We got done just in time before the (not predicted) rain started to fall.

Ignore the chickens!

Corn and apples for sale

Not sure if this is a tiller or just a groundbreaker. I may live in farm country, but I ain’t no farmer!

The guy who owns the other farm came by and invited us to come on over and take pictures of his new horses. He has quite a lovely heard of Tennessee Walkers, known as the most comfortable horse to sit on if you are going to be on a horse for a whole day. The guy, who wasn’t much younger than me, still rides all day long. He only uses his truck when he goes into town.

Farming implements, including a John Deere — the Rolls Royce of farming equipment.

More farm equipment, but I couldn’t name it for you. Sorry!

I was impressed. But he never took a bad fall, either. It’s not the riding that’s the problem. It’s the falling off. Next time!

And just a few more cows

I used a filter called “opalescent” to give some very soft color to a couple of pictures. They are almost color, but almost not. Regardless, very pretty.

Cee's Black-White