A TREE GROWS IN UXBRIDGE – Marilyn Armstrong

THE CHRISTMAS TREE FOR 2019

A small tree with tiny lights is the flower of MY day! I have to do a little rearranging of the lights, but it’s such a pretty little tree. I keep it – intact – in my spare “office” room, covered in plastic from year to year.

When the season comes around, I unwrap it — carefully — and carry it into the living room. This year, we have a CD player where the tree usually goes, so I had to do a little planning. I didn’t realize how heavy that player was, so when I picked it up to move it, me and it headed for the floor and I was trying to not drop it. I can’t afford to replace it.

I finally got it onto the semi-circular brick front of the fireplace.

Phew. After I nudged it into place, I realized I can’t use the remote because now it’s below the level of the coffee table. I have to stand and walk over and point the remote down. But it works.

Harry Belefonte’s Greatest Hits was in the machine, so the moment I plugged it in, he began to sing.  I love his voice. It’s like velvet.

I grabbed the kitchen scissors and went into my office. Very carefully, I cut the bag off the tree. I looked it over. Pretty good. The lights had sagged a little, but otherwise, it looked as good as it ever did.

I had already put down a Christmas cover and it was perfect. It’s a hand-made patchwork quilt I bought years ago in Pennsylvania. It’s long and narrow and I never really knew what to do with it. Now, for Christmas, it has a home under our tree.  I’ll take better pictures of it later.

Ever since I gave Garry my Leica, I’m having trouble using the new small camera. It has a much slower lens. I’m trying to get used to it. It’s fine in brighter light, but an f3.3 lens is slow indoors. A bit disappointing so far, but it’ll be good outside which is mostly where I take pictures.

BEHOLD THE PINK CACTUS FLOWERS – Marilyn Armstrong

Pink Cactus Flowers – December 1, 2019

The red cactus is still fully in bloom, but now, the pink is taking off too. I think this is the first time they have ever bloomed at the same time.

It was a fairly bright day today. Not sunny, but not dead and gray, either. The flowers bloomed yesterday, but it was such a busy day, I didn’t have time to take any pictures. I caught them today, though. I almost didn’t. I was setting up shots of old family pictures for Garry’s post.

I had pulled the chip and was going to the computer and then I realized the pink cactus look quite glorious, so I went back, picked up the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark I which has the 25mm f1.8 lens on it. It’s not a macro lens, but it gets very close. I replaced the chip in the camera and took a few more pictures.

I have a macro lens, but I like to leave my cameras with a lens on it because by the time I get into sorting lenses, I’ve usually missed the shot … and you can get almost as close with the 25mm (50mm if it was a DSLR) lens and it’s two stops faster. And if I want to take any other picture, it’s the magic “do anything” lens.

You just never know what tomorrow might bring, so take your flowers today.

 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! – Marilyn Armstrong, with Photos by Garry Armstrong

November 28, 2019 – Happy Thanksgiving


I couldn’t do this on Thanksgiving. The day was spent with family and chopping things for Waldorf Salad (https://wp.me/p2bT5l-1d8VE1), a roast leg of lamb, baked potatoes (which didn’t get eaten, still in the fridge), little potatoes cooked with the roast (they did get eaten), hot rolls, and green beans.

With fresh apple cider. There were apple pie and strawberry rhubarb pie for dessert — but we didn’t make it to dessert, either.


We passed along the apple pie and have been enjoying the strawberry-rhubarb pie. We sent leftovers, and today, with the last piece of lamb, I made a great little lamb curry. I have to admit, the curry is my favorite part of the lamb. All those yummy spices. Oh, and the salad went over very well.

I was too busy to take pictures, but Garry picked up the camera and here are a few. There were only four of us in the end. Sandy had to work. Healthcare workers often have to work on holidays. So do reporters, fire-fighters, police and, of course, retail workers.

Garry always worked on Thanksgiving until after we got married, but took Christmas off. Now we are both just plain OFF. All the time.

Gotta love retirement.

CHRISTMAS CACTUS, NOVEMBER 25, 2019 — Marilyn Armstrong

Christmas Cactus — November 25, 2019

Mind you, I’m still waiting for my orchids to stop sending out shoots and start putting out buds. But — you can’t hurry a plant. You can’t force buds, at least not here in this house. So we have blooming cactus until we also having blooming orchids!

There are a lot more buds ready to pop and the first flower to open is beginning to droop. Should we get a little bit of sun one of these days, all will go better. Or so I believe.

HUNGRY BIRDS, STARVING SQUIRRELS — Marilyn Armstrong

The Starving Wildlife

I think we are squirrel central for Massachusetts. They hang out on the steps to the deck, on the beams under the deck and in the tree overlooking the deck. They are always nearing starvation even as their coats grow thick and glossy and their bellies become perfectly well-rounded.

Two Titmice arriving for dinner. I swear one of them is flying upside down!

As soon as I finally chase the squirrels away … and these days it takes both Garry and me making a direct appearance at the fence and sometimes, the feeder — birds by the dozens fly in.

Three Blue Jays actually attacked a squirrel today. You gotta hand it to the squirrels. If three Blue Jays went after me, I’d run for the hills. This guy just kept eating. Blue Jays are big, strong birds with long beaks. That was one hard-headed squirrel.


I got pictures. I didn’t get all the birds because they are flying in or falling off the feeding in every direction, but I got some interesting ones. I certainly didn’t get all the squirrels. You might think all squirrels look alike, but they don’t. I think I’m going to have to start giving them names.

Missing are the Doves (but they are around, just not today), the yellow Goldfinch (still on their way back from Canada?) and I think the Jays pushed the Cowbirds out of the area for the moment.

One more Blue Jay

Blue Jays are grumpy, aggressive and rather large (11 to 12 inches) birds and since this year — unlike last year — they’ve decided this is the place to BE, they have arrived like an army battalion.

Dinner time for birds

Today there were as many as five or six lined up on the fence rail. Once I saw two of them on the feeder, but one pecked the other, and then there was one.

Cee suggested that seeds are okay and I realized “Hey, there are enough seeds for a forest of miscellaneous plants.” So, no flowers, but lots and lots of SEEDS.