A MID-OCTOBER WORLD SHARING EVENT!

Share My World 10-13-2020

Suddenly, it’s the middle of October. Nearly the middle. Middle-ish. Still almost no rain and the little we have gotten is barely enough to dampen a small garden, much less water a forest. The birds are eating like crazy. I put out a new water dish that they like so much, they bathe in it too. Which, I might add, makes for a bit of a mess. Birds are messy. Anyone who has owned one or fed them knows they make a terrible mess. It’s the price you pay for the joy of watching them. Our deck is very messy!

So let’s get to the questions:

Are we “here” or do we just think we are?  

Am I a butterfly dreaming I’m a man or a man dreaming I’m a butterfly? Is this the real world or have I fallen into a parallel universe where nothing makes any sense? I swing towards the latter statement because I’m not a butterfly.

Of course I can’t prove I’m here. That’s like going to court to prove you didn’t do it. I often wish I was anywhere but here — and maybe that’s the problem. I’m not where I’m supposed to be. So please, please, if you have the power, send me back.

From an identity standpoint, what would be worst for you to lose?  

If my body goes missing, I’m not here, so let’s just scratch that piece. As for the rest of me? I’ve been losing pieces of me for years now. I’ve lost my voice. My sense of smell is mediocre at best, and I neither hear nor see as well as I did. We don’t get to choose what we lose. What happens, happens. It’s our job, should we accept it, to make the best of what is left to us. We do the best living we can for as long as we are able and manage our losses.

Do you have a ‘song’?  If you’re part of a couple, you could use “your couple’s song” OR a song that’s just always resonated with you.

“Pancho and Lefty” was written by Townes Van Zandt and was first released by Townes Van Zandt in 1972. It didn’t really go anywhere until it release by Emmylou Harris — my favorite version even though many other singers have covered it. I agree it is the most difficult to understand version. You have to already know the words to figure them out. Pity I didn’t know they were printed inside the CD cover. It would have saved me hours of backing up over a line to get that word. Garry likes Emmylou, now that I’ve got the words worked out, but he also like the versions where you can actually hear the words. Merle Haggard did a nice version of it, though Emmy’s version is much punchier and and has passion and drive. This is the song, back when we had a CD player in the car, we would play over and over again. Good thing there wasn’t anyone else in the car. It would have driven them crazy. Unless they REALLY liked the song.


Following is his story about how he wrote the song.

This is Merle and Willie. Watch for Townes, singing and playing in the background. Not a bad little mini movie, either.

And finally, Emmylou Harris:


“Spooky” Halloween Question:  Oooo!  BOO!  Weeghostie

Are ghosts real or has someone been smoking something and just imagines them?

I have heard ghosts, but never seen one. I have no idea what they are or how they came to be and if I hadn’t heard them in my own house, I would think someone was one toke over the line. Maybe more than one toke. However, actual experience leaves you unable to completely dismiss the concept. I mean … I was there and so were my first husband and a whole lot of friends and family. We ALL heard it. While some of us might have been several tokes over several lines, I don’t think my mother was. So there is that.

My problem is having no idea what a ghost actually IS? Was it ever a real person or is it some bizarre cosmic screw-up that seems like an entity but is actually some so far inexplicable alteration of electrons or … something else?

TODAY IS NATIONAL ASSHOLE AWARENESS DAY!

There has never been a dearth of assholes in our world, but I think this past year has raised it to a level of importance it never previously possessed.The assholes are everywhere! They are the ones who still think the pandemic is a joke, who don’t care who gets sick because of them. They are our glorious leader and his lying tribunes.

Obviously, we all know who the biggest asshole of them all is, but please don’t forget the rest of the crowd. Because no one should be forgotten!


No need to name America’s biggest asshole. We all know him.


I have to thank my husband and his friends for bringing this important holiday to my attention. I had long felt that the morons, jerks, and assholes in our lives were not getting the recognition they deserve.

Often ignored and disrespected, this is a special day, dedicated to them all. The assholes we love, the ones we meet on the street. The ones we worked with and for. And most especially, for those we elected to run the nations of the world. If you voted for an asshole, please feel free to add yourself to the list.


To all assholes everywhere, this is for you.


Obviously, we have one overwhelming asshole, but he has gotten more than enough recognition. I think we should try to remember our local and less-international assholes. Not world leaders, yet somehow, they manage to get under your skin. They are the people you really don’t want to invite to your next party, but sometimes, you just don’t have a choice.

We worked for them and with them. We’ve lived with them. We are related to them.

This is your day, assholes. Enjoy!


AND A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO GRACE WHO SENT ME THE PERFECT SONG TO GO WITH THE MEDAL.
MAYBE WE SHOULD JUST KEEP THIS UP ALL YEAR ROUND.
YOU JUST CAN’T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF ASSHOLES.


 

BLUE BIRDS ARE HERE. CAN HAPPINESS BE FAR BEHIND? Marilyn Armstrong

I kept wondering why I never saw a bluebird. Ever. Not here or in New York. And I know they live here. This morning I got up and looked out my back windows and the deck was full of bluebirds!

Two bluebirds
Bluebird and Chickadee
And the Chickadee is about to take off!
Bluebird on the fence rail

MEMORIAL DAY: THEN AND NOW, THE DAY AFTER – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Time changes everything. It’s a given. Memorial Day is no different and that’s a shame.

When I was a kid, Memorial Day was usually a family affair. It seems as if it was always sunny and warm for the gathering of several generations. I was fascinated by the stories told by the men who’d collectively served in two World Wars and the Korean “Peace Action.” The stories were funny and sad as were the memories of when they served our country.

How many 78-year-old men can still wear the same uniform they wore at age 17?

My maternal Gramps, a Barbados native, served in the Danish Navy during World War One, the war to end all wars.  His stories seemed to be from a distant time that I grasped only in a haze. I’d read about WW1 a bit. Dry accounts in those history books of the ’40s and early ’50s we were given in school. My personal library included books by Erich Maria Remarque who gave bittersweet accounts from the German perspective.

“All Quiet On The Western Front” was the most memorable. I don’t think Gramps or the other elders liked my interest in Remarque’s books. I didn’t understand their attitude. Not then, at least. There was music, including songs like “It’s A Long Way To Tipperary” which elicited smiles. The music blended with the sounds of the parade outside all the open windows. I usually dashed outside for a glimpse.

Those parades included veterans who’d served in the Civil War.  I was always impressed and wondered how old some of those men were who marched with pride and crispness, belying their years. I felt a stirring in my heart. I wanted to be one of those men someday.

In my adolescent and early teen years, family Memorial Day celebrations changed. Some of the men were gone. So were their stories. There was still laughter, fueled by liquor consumed in prodigious amounts by uncles, cousins, and friends.

My father in uniform, World War 2

My Dad, Bill “Tappy” Armstrong, had been an Army Seargent in WW2. He had seen action in the Battle of the Bulge among other places.  He smiled at some of the war stories but never shared anything.   He never shared anything about his personal war experiences until the final year of his life.

Those accounts were harrowing and gave his three grown sons a better understanding of Dad’s quiet demeanor, moodiness. and reluctance to share his feelings. After Dad passed, we found many medals stowed away apparently for more than half a century. It was his legacy of the Greatest Generation.

One of the staples of those family Memorial Day celebrations was watching war movies. Even before cable, the networks and local TV stations ran a marathon of our favorite John Wayne, Errol Flynn, Robert Taylor, Robert Mitchum, and other Hollywood gung ho flicks that raised the roof with laughter from the real-life vets guffawing over the exploits of Hollywood heroes. There was derisive laughter for Wayne and Flynn who single-handedly won the war according to the heavy propaganda scripts.

I thought those guys were real heroes. Hell, I was gonna be a Marine like Duke Wayne’s Sgt. John Stryker in “Sands of Iwo Jima.”  The parades outside now included WW1 Vets. The last of the Civil War heroes had passed. The music of Tommy Dorsey, Vera Lynn, and Glenn Miller permeated the celebrations. I loved their sad, sweet words and music. They would always be part of my musical collection.

My vow to emulate Duke Wayne’s Sgt. John Stryker was fulfilled as I enlisted in the Marine Corps right after high school graduation in 1959. I was a baby faced 17-year-old who needed his parent’s signature to become a gyrene.

Memorial Day 1959 was in my rearview mirror when I signed up. I had clear memories of that family Memorial Day. There were only a few WW1 Vets still around to participate. WW2 uniforms dominated. A fully integrated armed services participation brought big smiles to faces in my family. The music included new interpretations of war tunes offered by Elvis, Connie Francis, Paul Anka, and other fresh faces in the top 40-market.

My Dad cried when he saw me off to basic training at Parris Island where “boots” were turned in fighting gyrenes. It was the proudest day of my life.

I never became the new version of Sgt. John Stryker because my lifelong hearing affliction made it impossible for me to serve, especially as a Marine. Imagine crawling through the jungle, listening for any sign of the enemy. It would have been a catastrophe waiting to happen. I did get to “enjoy” a fair amount of basic training.

I left my mark with many a hard-nosed Drill Instructor frustrated when I laughed as they barked out intimidating orders. I drank homemade hooch (I’ll never give up the brewer), stripped and refitted my M-1 blindfolded, survived a few double-time forced marches, and had my first barroom fight with peckerwood Southern bigots in a nearby Beaufort gin mill.

My platoon mates and I cleared out the place with just a few scratches to show for our brawl. Now, I was officially a Marine!   Our C.O. smiled when he chewed us out for drinking and fighting. His main concern: Did we leave any of those miscreants standing?  Hell, NO!  The C.O. gave us a sharp salute and a night off to soothe our bruises.

A few days later, thanks to my hearing problems, Pvt E-1 Garry Armstrong was mustered out and headed home. in uniform.

My Dad cried again when I arrived home in uniform. Yes, he saluted me.

OO-rah!

This past weekend’s Memorial Day celebrations were lost in the COVID-19 headlines. A sad sign of the times for those who served and still serve our country. I salute all who put their lives on the line and am proud I still have my Marine Corps uniform. It fits better than ever.

I’ve never marched in a Memorial Day Parade. I leave that to those who’ve spent full tours in service and beyond.

Semper Fi!

LITTLE FLAGS IN A COUNTRY THAT’S DYING – Marilyn Armstrong

I don’t know how they will get it done, but I’m sure there will be flags in the Revolutionary War cemetery in the middle of town. It’s directly across from the dam and it is beautiful especially in the autumn.

It is just a hundred or so yards from the river itself. Uphill, so it never floods, even when the rivers rush over their banks. The people who created that cemetery knew about the rivers and flooding. They picked a beautiful spot, but dry and safe for the bones and memories.

An old cemetery, dating back to the early 1700s. It contains traces of many generations of those who lived and died in this town, this valley. Folks who lived along the Blackstone and its many tributaries fished in its lakes and streams. They fought in our wars and are buried here — Revolutionary War soldiers, Civil War veterans as well as those who fought in all the American wars since.

Every Independence Day, Memorial Day, and Veteran’s Day, the cemetery blooms with bouquets and flags. The schools bring the children here, so they will remember too and traditions will be maintained. They bring bouquets of wildflowers or from the back garden. Lilacs and lilies, scarlet poppies … and always a miniature American flag. Even if there’s no special holiday, the cemetery always shows signs of caring, remembering.

Maybe it’s easier to remember here, with such a small population. Is that it? Or it’s just part of the air, the character, the history. Remembering is what we do in the Valley.

The cemetery is one of my favorite places. We’re newcomers after all, only living here 17 years. Our ancestors — Garry’s and mine — come from Sligo, Antigua, Minsk, Bialystok … from tiny villages in Ireland and the West Indies and the shtetls of Eastern Europe.

Valley people have been here longer. Many came from French Canada in the late 19th century to work in the mills. Another large group formed the dominant Dutch population. They built churches, businesses and factories, dairy and truck farms, shops, horse farms, and sawmills. Their names are prominent wherever the rivers run.

Newcomers, like us, aren’t quite as rare these days, and anyway, we’ve lived here 18 years, so we are no longer outsiders. Nonetheless, we have no ancestors in this cemetery.

The valley is the only place I’ve lived where the majority of families have lived in this town or in nearby villages for three, four, five generations.

“We’ve always lived in the Valley,” they say, meaning as long as anyone can remember. If gently prodded, they may recall at some point, long ago, they came from somewhere else … but some can’t remember when or if it’s true.

I point out they must have come from somewhere because unless they are Native American, they came to this place, even if a long time since. They get misty-eyed trying to remember old family stories handed down when they were young. Hard to remember, they tell you. “You know, that was 75 years ago … a long time.”

We nod. It was a long time ago. A year has passed. Little flags and flowers bloom in the cemetery. It’s a nice thing they do. Remembering.

But this is not like any other year. I wonder who remembers the holiday.

THE STRANGEST EVER MOTHER’S DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

What a year! What a time for Mother’s Day!

What a time!

For all of us – mothers and grandmothers and great grandmothers. Let’s keep on keeping on. From the strange old world into the even stranger new one.

Mother Day 2020

BE JOYFUL! IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY!

When you’ve been married for a long time, there’s nothing new you can say that you haven’t said on all those other birthdays. I know this isn’t a great time for celebrations, … but we are alive and so far, so good.

Whenever this siege ends, we will celebrate your birthday, probably Owen’s too. We’ll celebrate surviving, on managing to have sufficient toilet paper and with a little luck, not having you-know-who in charge.

Meanwhile, tons of love from everyone because you are just such a lovable guy!

Happy very big birthday!

AN ODD ST. PATRICK’S DAY POST – GARRY ARMSTRONG

St. Patrick’s Day usually is a cause for upbeat feelings around here.  But the 2020 version brings no joy.

The Coronavirus aka “The Satan Bug” has thrown cold water on worldwide celebrations. Hell froze over in Ireland where all pubs were ordered closed as safety measures. It became clear the action was necessary when bleary-eyed celebrants seemed oblivious to the danger of public gatherings right now.

Irish Eyes are not smiling in Boston where the St. Patrick’s Day Parade has also been canceled. No parade. No boisterous parties with green beer spouting from spigots hither and yon. No one day Irishmen puking their guts on the streets of revelry.

Shamrocks

I usually covered St. Patrick’s Day for the Boston TV station where I toiled for 31 years.   Yes, I hauled out my green corduroy sports jacket, dark green dress shirt, plaid green tie, and loden green khakis. I topped it off with some awful green-tinged tobacco in my pipe which was constantly lit through the long, loud and off-key version of “Danny Boy,” “Galway Bay,” and “Wild, Colonial Boy” streaming out of myriad pubs I visited for stories.

Each stop required I share a pint or two with the regulars to confirm my Irish roots. The legend had become fact after our 1990 Irish Honeymoon where I learned, to my great surprise, that I indeed had Irish ancestors.  It made me something of a local hero in Southie (South Boston) where Irish Boyos are regarded with esteem.

Our news “live shots” were always a challenge on St. Patrick’s Day. No way of dispersing the lively crowds who surrounded our camera and equipment, serenading me as I delivered my reports with exuberance. I frequently was doused with “good stuff” as I wrapped up my reports. I’m proud to say it WAS good stuff, usually Guinness. Sometimes Guinness and Irish Whiskey, depending on the crowd’s affection for me. Ah, those were the days.

All the old school Irish Pols showed up, telling the same tales about the good old days with “himself,” James Michael Curley, the legendary Boston Mayor of “The Last Hurrah” fame. Crime usually took a partial day off. Lots of drunks and disorderlies but few hardcore, violent felonies. There was a line you didn’t cross on St. Patrick’s Day in Boston.

From “The Quiet Man”

Then – as now – I looked forward to the traditional viewings of “The Quiet Man”.  I remember one year, Marilyn and I watched the John Ford classic about the ‘old country’ on several stations running the film simultaneously. You could catch John Wayne courting Maureen O’Hara for several hours all over the TV channels. When we watch “The Quiet Man”, Marilyn and I exchange smiles, taking in the places we visited on our honeymoon, including young Sean Thornton’s cabin which was still in decent shape in 1990.  No, I never give Marilyn a whack on her backside. John  Wayne could do that to Maureen O’Hara but not Garry Armstrong to his Marilyn.

“The Quiet Man” will air tonight at 8pm our local time and I wonder how it will feel on another day of the Coronavirus, the political follies and our general sense of melancholy. I’m putting my money on Young Sean Thornton,  Red Will Danaher and all the rest of those folks from Innisfree to bolster our spirits on THIS St. Patrick’s Day.

Any question about who’s the best man in Innisfree?

A FRIGID DAY FOR SHARING MY WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World on a Snowy Day – 12-3-19

It started snowing yesterday afternoon and hasn’t stopped yet. Sometimes, the snow has been mixed with rain and other times, it has been the “two inches per hour” blinding snow. It’s supposed to snow all night tonight with a heavy burst in the morning. I so badly wanted a nice cool snow-free winter. Oh well.

What’s your remedy for the Holiday blues?

North end of the commons – Photo Marilyn Armstrong

I don’t have that problem anymore. Not since I stopped spending half my annual salary on gifts for people who didn’t appreciate them!

Your favorite beverage (if it differs) during the holiday season?  If it doesn’t differ, just answer the ‘what’s your favorite beverage” part. 

I used to love eggnog. Homemade. But Garry and I don’t drink anymore and it’s so fattening. And the stuff they sell in the grocery just doesn’t do it for me.

This one has been asked before, but what’s your take on pumpkin spice?

I like some. I don’t think it belongs in absolutely EVERYTHING. I love the smell of it better than the way it tastes.

Is there is a person or god connected with your holiday? 

No. As far as how I feel about other peoples’ holidays, I absolutely do NOT care what you celebrate as long as you aren’t forcing it down my throat. Enjoy your celebration. I might be happy to enjoy it with you. I have nothing against Chrismas, Easter, or Ramadan. Or, for that matter, Hanukah. I love the food and the decorations. I even like church services and hymns.

I say “Happy Holiday” because I don’t always know what holiday someone is celebrating or not celebrating. We don’t wear patches that state our religious beliefs. When we do, we will all be damned.

Cee’s Flower of the Day


Share a song that you enjoy during this Winter season (whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, The Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa and so forth.


SYWeyesonworld

BLUE BIRDS OF HAPPINESS – Marilyn Armstong

I kept wondering why I never saw a bluebird. Ever. Not here or in New York. And I know they live here. But this morning I got up and looked out my back windows and the deck was full of bluebirds!

A good sign for Thanksgiving, isn’t it? Here are some of them.

Two bluebirds
Bluebird and Chickadee
And the Chickadee is about to take off!
Bluebird on the fence rail

THE POINT OF THE HOLIDAY IS GRATITUDE – Marilyn Armstrong

I know that theoretically “Thanksgiving” is about gratitude. Personally, I think it’s much more about overeating than gratitude, but call me skeptical. At age 72, I’ve can remember probably 50 to 60 Thanksgiving dinners and while none of them were particularly unpleasant or angry, (no hostile relatives and no arguments allowed), none of them celebrated anything except food and sometimes, getting to see people you only saw once or twice a year during holidays.


It’s really not my favorite holiday. Firstly, I’m not fond of turkey. The small ones taste better, but are hard to find unfrozen. The big ones take so long to cook, by the time they are done they taste like stuffed dust. So we usually have something else.

It used to be ham, but recently it has been lamb. This year, we aren’t sure. Owen says if they don’t have the right size piece of lamb, he’ll get some kind of beef roast. Garry pointed out that neither of us eats very much, so try not to get into a bankruptcy level of food. (NOTE: It’s lamb!)


We bought a couple of pies — a Dutch apple and a Strawberry-Rhubarb, plus little rolls that need to be baked and a gallon of apple cider. I’m thinking of getting some apples and celery and adding all my walnuts with a bit of sour cream and mayonnaise. Surprise the crowd with something different.

It’s not much of a crowd, but it’s the whole family.

Moving on to music, the hymn du jour is “We Gather Together.” Why do I like the song? Well, the words of the hymn were changed and it became my High School’s “song.” It always made me laugh every time I was supposed to be singing the hymn. Somehow, my high school’s song popped up.

So I’m not particularly sentimental about the holiday. It’s hard for me to celebrate eating when I eat so little, but it is a chance to actually get everyone together on the same day, same time, same station.


And I still say that anyone who wants to work on any holiday should feel okay about it. Not everyone has a family with whom to celebrate — or a family with whom they want to celebrate. For many people, it’s an opportunity to make a little extra money and in a many families, overtime is a big deal.

Stop warning me how I should care more about the holiday. I’m glad there IS a holiday, but as far as how one celebrates? I’m in favor of complete freedom. Complete personal freedom. I really believe in it. And frankly, as a non-Christian? I’m extremely tired of being ordered around by Christians who believe they own the road to god. Until God tells me him or herself, it’s just someone else’s opinion.

SKULKING IN THE SHADOWS — Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Skulk

This is one of those words that sounds like what it means. Skulking in the shadows in the darkened alleys of Gotham. Bwa-ha-ha-ha! The man in the black coat and fedora gum-shoeing after him. And somewhere, a cop, an FBI agent, and private-eye are lurking, waiting for the moment of truth if there is any such thing.

Reindeer, sleigh, snow guy, and a path.

It’s a great, cold day here on the Atlantic coast. A good day for skulking. Even the birds seem rather sinister. I think I’m too tired to feel sinister. And we have an evening event. At least the hearings are over and I can go back to having a permanent nervous breakdown.

All the buds … and notice in front the one red segment. That too will flower.

Does anyone believe we are already supposedly “in the holiday spirit?” I’m not sure what that means anymore. I think it’s mostly about taking my tree from last year, plugging it in and making it ready to do its annual job as “tree of the holidays.”


Personally, before the subject comes up (again), I don’t care whether you say Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel, Good Chanuka, Felice Navidad, or Happy Kwanza. Or just “Hi, how are you?”

I do not care! It’s the thought that counts … and a fat envelope full of greenbacks wouldn’t hurt either.