WEATHERED AND WORN

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge – WEATHERED


I resisted putting up a picture of me first thing in the morning. It was tempting, but I finally decided to take a pass on that. Weathered and wood resonate for me.

Be there a photographer so dead that he or she had not sought out aging wood barns and homes for great pictures and when that fails, there’s always rust and rot.

An old dodge pickup

Why do we photograph old stuff with such enthusiasm? The simple answer is it’s more interesting. The textures and colors are unique. The texture alone would do it for me.

Sleek, smooth stuff is shiny and often colorful, but you get a lot of depth with the textures of old materials. Wood, brick, stone, iron … it all works beautiful in the right photograph.

Stone bridge over the river and canal
Old Uxbridge Fire Engine 2

And that’s weathered enough for the day except, of course, we can’t leave out our very own weathered 1924 Fordson tractor, growing ever more weathered in our own garden.

WHICH WAY IN A BLIZZARD – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – January 5, 2018

Aldrich Street with a blizzard blowing

I was out there in the wind and weather yesterday. It was cold, much colder than the air usually is during storms.

Woods in winter

It was also windy, the tall oak trees blowing like reeds in the storm. These are tall, heavy red oaks, so if one of them falls, it will be awhile before the lights come back on. It was snowing hard and accumulating faster than it was supposed to.

Duke on the shoveled walkway

I got some pictures of the roads, driveway, and walks, all covered in snow and ice. The pictures came out better than I expected. My hands were frozen. I could barely feel the shutter release. Five more minutes and I think my hands would have been frozen to the camera.

Duke behind the gate on the day of the blizzard

Marilyn pointed out that there is a reason she wanted weather-proof cameras … and this was it. Everything got wet, but nothing was damaged.

HAVING LEFT THE PATHS OF MODERATION

A VIABLE WINTER STORM


All day yesterday, I listened to weather reports. We were going to get snow today. The only question was “how much here.” We live in a funny bubble on the geo map. Sometimes major storms miss us — including Hurricane Sandy — even though they hit everywhere else.

Through the back screen door, clots of snow against the screen

This big blow could have stayed mostly out to sea, affecting primarily the Atlantic coastal areas and the Islands. Or it could turn more inland and whack everyone from here to downtown Cleveland.

It appears to be the latter. Hey, how are ya, Cleveland?

Probably not going to be using the deck much this winter …

This is not what I’d hoped for, but it is winter. This is New England. It gets cold. It snows. You can whine about it, but it’s coming anyway.

Duke watches the weather

Owen said he’ll come back with a plow tomorrow to clear the driveway. At least we got the oil delivery, so we are good for now. There’s more than a little wind, too.  The snow is blowing not-quite-sideways. It certainly isn’t falling straight and one of the things noticeably absent is the whiteness of the tree limbs. They stand naked, without any snow.  Blow ye winds.

Window to the snowy world

I was hoping for something a bit more moderate but these are immoderate times. This is clearly not a moderate storm. Maybe in all things, we have left the paths of moderation.

From here on in, everything will be some version of extreme? Or is it merely typical winter weather?

WATER WATER EVERYWHERE …

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Water

We live in a watershed. What, you ask, is a watershed? Well, in theory, all the world is a watershed, to some degree … but technically, a watershed is an area of land where water arrives (as in from rain or snow-melt), then drains into a common outlet. Around here, that would be the Blackstone River and its tributaries, ponds, streams, and lakes.

These are just the areas in Massachusetts with many more in Rhode Island.

Since we moved here in 2000, I’ve been taking pictures of the river, the dams. The ponds where the swans and the herons live. The ducks and the geese and the strange area on the Blackstone where about a million snapping turtles live. After almost 18 years, I haven’t yet seen even half the places we can visit, but we’re working on it!

REFLECTING — THE YEAR THAT WAS

REFLECTIONS

A lot of us have a lot of things upon which we can reflect. Many of them are at the very least, unpleasant and many verge on Perfectly Awful and Deeply Depressing. I thought it was time to skip morbid and just run with beautiful, so this is a collection by Garry and I of our favorite reflections for this year.

Here’s hoping for a better year to come. May we all have a peaceful holiday or at least, a peaceful slide from darkest, longest nights of winter to the lengthening days of Spring to come.

CHRISTMAS 2017 OR BAH, HUMBUG! – GARRY ARMSTRONG

This is the time of year we usually share memories of Christmases past as we deal with this holiday season. We have already watched a few of our favorite “r/x” movies. “It’s A Wonderful Life,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” and “A Christmas Carol” (the 1951  Alistair Sim version). It was fun, in the moment, viewing those classics, but the feel-good vibes didn’t linger.

This, I suspect, is the winter of discontent for many of us. I think of my fellow retirees, those deep into double-digit years of retirement. The “golden years” myth disappeared long ago. The celebratory wine now is cheap hooch as we absorb the first year of the White House tenant and his minions. How would Charles Dickens begin chapter one of this historical piece?

Photo: Garry Armstrong

It was the worst of times….

We’re bombarded with holiday TV specials, new age Carols I don’t recall, sung by smiley faces I don’t recognize.  The nightly network news/24 hour cable news are relentless with “Dr. Strangelove” breaking news tweets, apocalyptic natural disasters involving every country on the planet, and daily offerings of mass shootings.  The news outlets usually give us a “kicker” story with a Hollywood happy ending. I don’t find myself smiling.

As I write, I find myself in a Jimmy Stewart/George Bailey moment wondering how it went so sour.  I know I’ve made my share of mistakes on the home front but they hardly seem deserving to be one of the usual suspects in this turgid real life melodrama.

Our furry kids —  Bonnie, Gibbs, and Duke seem oblivious to the scenario. They’re waiting for Santa Claus, sure their dreams of mammoth offerings of biscuits and other treats will be waiting for them when the Big Guy drops by our house.

The dogs are our comedy central. They make us smile and laugh in the middle of our anger and, yes, self-pity. I can feel the “woe is me” heavy on my shoulders as I write. I’d like to think I’m not alone in my whining.

When our world was young, I never took time to see or hear what my parents were doing during this time of year. I didn’t see my Mother grimace as she pored over the bills, the annoying phone calls from the bad bank people and others asking for past due payments. I didn’t really pay attention to my Dad’s exasperation over where the hard-earned pay from his two jobs went.  I didn’t see the anger on his face or frustration in his voice because I was too busy pestering them about the stuff I wanted from Santa Claus. After all, what I wanted was really the most important issue. That much was clear to me.

One December evening, I recall my Mom biting her lip, reaching for patience and calmly telling me, “Garry, one day when you’re a man, you’ll understand why your Father and I seem so short with you. You’ll see. I just hope I’m around to see how you handle things.”

I thought Mom was kidding with me, putting me off about my toys list. Adult stuff which didn’t make sense to me. Mom and Dad were always quietly — or so they thought — arguing about how they could pay for essentials and take care of me (and later, my two younger brothers) and my not-so-secret Santa list.

I’d usually shrug them off. It was just boring parent stuff, I reasoned, then sneaked off to listen to my radio shows. Off with my heroes of yesteryear,  The Lone Ranger,  Sgt. Preston, Superman, The Shadow, others, I was oblivious to the real world problems of my parents.

All was calm, all was right.

Mom isn’t here to see how I deal with things now. Neither is Dad. They’d probably grin at all my soul-searching and “why me?” queries.

I’ll never know how many bleak Christmases Mom and Dad endured while making sure everything was good for me and my brothers. Kids never know. If they’re lucky, as we were,  it’s a Walt Disney world with no grumbling about the state of our nation. No awareness about how bad hombres are in charge of our ship of state.

Marilyn and me, in a much lesser role, will try to make Christmas 2017 a happy time for our family. Marilyn is already busy with tonight’s dinner.  Tomorrow’s festive dinner is in progress. She feels much the way I do about this Christmas but carries the major load in keeping us afloat, including taking of me. That’s her year round gift to me.

Marilyn isn’t Clarence but she’s long overdue for wings.  Wait! Don’t I hear a distant bell?

Attagirl, Marilyn!

Photo: Garry Armstrong

SNOW SKY AT DUSK

I believe I have mentioned how the light the day after snow is different. The sky seems to glow in a variety of magical colors. Today, it was a pale tangerine — a cross between pink and light orange.

I didn’t get out to the deck until the latter part of the afternoon, so it’s a dusk sky with the glow of oncoming evening. I would have taken some even better sky shots, but I didn’t have boots and this year, I am not going to destroy my slippers.