KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES – Marilyn Armstrong

Xfinity has an advertisement. They assure viewers that their wi-fi is so fast, you will definitely be able to keep up with the Joneses.

I didn’t know it was a race. I didn’t know I was supposed to be keeping up with anyone.

If you use Xfinity, you will be able to keep up with the Joneses, whoever they may be.

“Garry,” I asked. “Are we keeping up with the Joneses?”

“The who?”

“Joneses.”

“I don’t think so. We don’t know anyone named Jones. I actually can’t remember ever knowing anyone named Jones. Lots of Smiths and many of them named Mike. No Joneses. Of any name. So probably we aren’t keeping up with them.”

On the other hand, I don’t think I’ve ever worried about keeping up with anything that didn’t have a dollar sign attached. I certainly don’t worry whether or not I’ve got faster wi-fi than my neighbors, especially not in Uxbridge. This just isn’t a “keeping up with the Joneses” kind of town. We all use Charter. We don’t have any choice. That’s what the town decided for us.

We have enough trouble keeping up with the mortgage, bills, and taxes.

WHICH WAY? – Marilyn Armstrong

SonOfABeach’s Which Way Photographs

Which way to go on a bright, hot, murky summer’s day? I think we’re going to hit the grocery store, but not until late in the day. It is simply too hot and muggy to be outside right now.

Main Street

BLUE ON WOOD – Marilyn Armstrong

BLUE DOOR ON A HOUSE WITH A BRIGHT AUTUMN TREE

Every autumn, I go and take pictures of this little house because it sits next to a large maple tree that turns bright red or orange every fall. So I have a series of pictures of this house on subsequent autumn afternoons. Some autumn color changes are better than other years, but the little house always has its blue door.

I believe it used to be a carriage house for a larger home that is gone now.

NOT THE BUCKET LIST – Rich Paschall

Things To Do, by Rich Paschall

Perhaps you have a “bucket list.” You know, things you must do before you “kick the bucket.” That is to say before you die. Such lists seem to be popular with middle-aged and older people. Younger people may not give this much thought, as they are more likely to believe there is plenty of time left to do things.

Domed stadium, natural grass, Miller Park

If you have a list, what do you have on it?  Do you want to visit all the MLB stadiums? NFL stadiums? NBA arenas? Do you want to climb mountains? Perhaps Mount Everest holds an allure. Perhaps you want to skydive or water ski.

Maybe you want to swim with the dolphins, or watch the humpbacked whales come out of the ocean? Perhaps you wish to travel. London? Paris? Rome? Far East? The Middle East? Do you want to go to the islands of the Caribbean or the South Pacific?

In London with a friend

It may not be too late to learn a language, take a wine tasing course or learn to paint (pictures, not houses).  Maybe you want to run a marathon. You could try for every state. Maybe you want to run with the bulls. I hope you are fast. Maybe you want to visit famous places close to home. You could travel to the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls or the monuments of Washington, DC.

I guess if we thought about it enough, we could put down hundreds of ideas.  If you made a list, how would you prioritize them? Would you do the easiest to complete first, or start with the hardest? Time, health and financial resources could play into all of your decisions.

Grand Canyon

I don’t have a bucket list, nor do I feel the need to make one. I don’t wish to have a list of things I must accomplish. What if I didn’t finish them all? Was life a failure? What if I did finish them? Do I just wait around after that for the grim reaper?

Of course, there are things I would like to do. They are not bucket list items, just things I would like to accomplish if time and resources allow. I have eliminated the ambitious running around the country or around the world ideas. Anything that is too arduous is out.

Selestat, France

If you have any kind of chronic pain, you immediately cross items off the list as not worth the time and aggravation. If you have a plate and 8 screws in your spine, roller coasters and bungee jumping are not things you will consider if you still have your sanity. There are limitations to what the human body will put up with at certain stages of life.

This year I decided on something I should do that had crossed my mind before. There just was no more putting it off. The opportunity to get away was at hand and all I needed was the go-ahead from my destination hosts. When the arrangements were complete I was off to the destination that had moved to the top of my list of places to go. Uxbridge, MA!

Downtown Uxbridge

If you have been following SERENDIPITY for very long, then you have seen plenty of photos of Uxbridge from Marilyn and Garry Armstrong. Marilyn is our editor, photographer, publisher, sage and idea guru. I dropped in on SERENDIPITY in 2013 with a short story, and Marilyn has let me hang around ever since. I am here on Sundays and I sneak in an extra article from time to time on another day.

The interesting thing about the internet is you can contribute articles from anywhere. While Marilyn and Garry are outside the Boston area, I am in Chicago. You may be surprised to learn that prior to this year, we had never met. So Uxbridge became my destination of choice.

My hosts: Garry, Duke, Marilyn

We were going to tour the area and visit many of the spots I had seen before on the blog. The weather held other ideas for us. We were in the pattern of daily ran and spent much of the time indoors. As it turns out, that was just fine. We never ran out of things to talk about. After five and a half years of articles, comments and emails there were plenty of topics to discuss. It was just a couple of days before my trip in early June that I heard Marilyn’s voice for the first time. We were coordinating our arrangements by phone. In the days ahead, we had a lot of time to talk.

With a very small window of opportunity, we headed out to grab a few pictures. The rain held off for a few moments allowing us our touristy pictures. Then it was back inside to our regular greeters, the three dogs.

Cameras at the ready

Nighttime gave us the opportunity to view Westerns we had discussed back and forth in comments and emails. This included one of the Armstrongs’ favorites, Rustlers’ Rhapsody. It is an homage to the great B-movies of a bygone era. It’s a good cast and wacky entertainment. I will get the opportunity to see this send-up again and again as I was sent home with a copy.

It was the opportune moment to meet friends at the other side of the internet universe. I don’t know if I will ever make it back to Uxbridge, but it was on this year’s To Do List and it got done.

I make a careful distinction between things I want to do and a “bucket list.” I have no crazy ideas or personal challenges, just a desire to visit friends when I can. It does not matter where they are in the world. If I can make the trip, then it becomes the next adventure.

Check out this adventure’s photo gallery at Sunday Night Blog: A Visit To Uxbridge

GARRY IN BLUE BY THE MUMFORD DAM – Marilyn Armstrong

Garry in July Blues

Garry in blue down by the Mumford Dam in downtown (!) Uxbridge. Background includes the falls and dam, Route 16 bridge, and the odd floral bush.

Garry in blue amidst much greenery

THE WONT OF WIT, THE BATING PLACE OF WOE – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 6-24-19

Are you more a thinker or a doer?   

Either I just do it and then have a lifetime to think about how I — if I’d thought about it more — could have done it better or preferably, not at all.  As an alternative, I think about it, decide not to do it, then spend years wishing I had done it.

As a third choice, I think, rethink, change my mind, begin the process, stop — write something or take a few pictures — while completely forgetting what I was going to do. When finally I remember my original intention, it doesn’t seem all that important so I read a book.

Why is beauty associated with mortality?

Because dead people putrefy? Because rotting bodies aren’t as attractive as live ones? Even when that individual — when alive — wasn’t beautiful they look worse when dead.

As proof of this statement, I have yet to see a single advertisement for anything using rotting corpses. I mean — seriously — dead people don’t enjoy beer and don’t look good in snug jeans. I’m pretty sure if advertisers aren’t using corpses (who would probably not need to be paid, so it would definitely be to their advantage to work with the dead), it’s probably because corpses are not attractive.

But when I die, hey, if you think this is a good idea, by all means. I’m pretty sure I won’t care.

If everyone spoke their mind (told the literal truth), would this world be a better place?

No. It would be just like it is but worse. Life would be harder, colder, and even more full of blowhards who don’t bother to give a moment’s thought before running their mouths. It’s bad enough now. That would make it oh so much worse.

It would finally and completely eliminate manners (such as they are). It would dispose of any remaining civility, kindness, politeness, delicacy, and good taste.

Your mouth is not supposed to be where random crap just falls out. We are supposed to think. That is why we have brains — which are supposed to be in charge of our mouths. Ponder that.

In the toilet, things just “fall out.” When they stink, you flush them away.

Sadly, once said, you have put it into the world and can never make it go away. There’s no flushing your words. They sear permanently on the minds of whoever is unlucky enough to hear them.

Your mouth isn’t supposed to be the verbal end of your anus. What comes out of it is supposed to have polish. Class. Wit. Elegance. Kindness. Compassion. Love. Maybe even brilliance. Toddlers say whatever flows into their unkempt young minds and that’s okay. They were born to learn and we teach them to not grow up and continue to act like toddlers.

Remove the training in manners and civility and the world would be all adult toddlers. The idea is nauseating. We have one of those in the White House. Isn’t that guy our national huckleberry?

I am sick to death of people who think they are “special” because they don’t know when to shut up.

We went to a party (left early) where one (drunken) woman was blathering endlessly about how proud she was to have started smoking again now that she was done with chemo and cancer. She was proud of this. She has a daughter. What’s her message?

The first amendment protects free speech. It isn’t a license for everyone to say anything, anytime, anywhere, under any and all circumstances.

What happened to class? Grammar? Elegant phrasing? Facts before opinions? Where went wit and cleverness? Concepts based on research? Has intelligence gone completely out of style? If it has, we are doomed.

Can religious beliefs affect scientific thinking?

Amongst the stupid, yes. Brighter people don’t seem to have this problem.

An attitude of gratitude: If you’d like to, share some gratitude in a photo, written, or song. 

The day is bright and sunny and for this small thing, praised be the rain gods for going somewhere else to do their thing.

Now, I’m going to put on a pair of sandals and go take a few pictures before the sky goes gray and the next rain comes.

DOES IT GET MORE HUMDRUM THAN THIS? – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Humdrum

All photography Garry Armstrong

Today is another doctor visit, the follow-up to the follow-up of the tests which were the follow-up to the original meeting — and all the other tests. None of which have provided any significant information. But she is the best-looking neurologist Garry has ever met and he would be terribly disappointed to miss this appointment.

Main Street, Uxbridge
The Uxbridge crossroad where Route 16 dis-angularly crosses Main Street. Note the single traffic light.

You know how the doctors on television shows have these smashingly gorgeous physicians? She is one of them. Ready for television now — without extra makeup.

It’s probably worth the $40 copay to watch Garry enjoy the view.

Our brand spanking new crossing sign! Isn’t this exciting? It’s educational. Of course, if you stop to read it, you’ll miss your crossing. Not to worry. There’s not very much traffic anyway.

But this isn’t about our humdrum doctor’s visit. No, this is about the overwrought traffic sign we have in the middle of Uxbridge.

Downtown – the center of the excitement!
Route 16 heading for Main Stree, past the dam and the cemetery.

Remember that we are a one road town. Two lanes, one in each direction. There is a crossroad, though the two ends of it are about a block apart. I’m sure someone knows why, but I am not one of them.

Recently, the decision was made that what we really need to spruce up little old Uxbridge was an especially complicated pedestrian crossing sign. It’s so long, I doubt anyone has read it except us because Garry took a picture of it. This morning, looking at the picture of it again, I wondered where the town got it and how much it cost.

So if you need one of your own, this is where you can buy it. It’s less than $20, plus shipping and you have to find somewhere to nail it up. I notice this is considered an “educational” traffic sign. Will it improve our children’s reading scores?

It took me four different traffic sign companies before I found it, but I did. I am relentless in the pursuit of trivia. If that isn’t humdrum, I just don’t know what is.

It was not even expensive, so I still don’t know what they do with our tax money, other than repaving the same section of Main Street every year for the past 19 years. Maybe it’s trying to figure out what’s wrong with the town water.