THE CHANGING SEASONS: MAY 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong

The Changing Seasons, May 2019

Photography: Garry and Marilyn Armstrong

It has been a weird month of May. A lot of rain, a lot of cold days with and without rain, then a couple of hot muggy days. Immediately followed by cooler dry days and then wet, quite cold days. It’s only in the low 50s right now and will be in the mid-40s tonight. That is cold for this time of year.

Flowers – Marilyn Armstrong

Weather forecasts these days are closer to guesses than they used to be. There’s so much very bad, dangerous weather rolling across the continent. Tornadoes, flooding, violent thunderstorms only a few miles south of here. As long as the winds don’t change, all we are going to get is drenching rain.

Mumford Dam and River – Garry and Marilyn Armstrong

The gardens look pretty sad. There are flowers, but everything, even the Hosta, is droopy and no really fully developed. Except for Solomon’s Seal — which is happy in gray rainy weather — everything else looks like it wishes it could have stayed in the ground.

The Village – Garry Armstrong

There were a few good days and we went out for one, and Garry for another. Otherwise, it was some of the flowers and of course, the birds.

Boys and the River – Garry and Marilyn Armstrong

The pictures make it look like we’ve had a lovely, sunny month. The truth is that all of the pictures were taken over a period of five sunny days. The rest of the months was gray, rainy, and mostly, cold.

The following pictures of the birds may tell more of the story because the birds get really hungry when the weather is cold and rainy. When it’s bright and sunny, they tend to ignore us. Also, they aren’t happy with us right now because we bought cheaper food. It’s not bad food, but it has less of the more expensive components because rain or not, there’s real, live food all over the woods. There are bugs and fruit and nuts to eat and they don’t need to depend on our buffet.

Birds – Marilyn Armstrong

Except for the squirrels. They have completely given up finding their own food. As far as they are concerned, they own us and expect a good, solid meal every single day. They ate ALL the food in two days this week. I mean down to the last few seeds at the very bottom of the hanging feeder. And they did it while we weren’t looking.

The Red Christmas Cactus – Marilyn Armstrong
Macro red cactus

Murderer’s Row – Marilyn Armstrong

They have figured out when we are around — and when we aren’t. They are smarter than people think!


About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

      • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
      • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
      • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

      • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
      • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
      • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a pingback to Su-Leslie’s post, she will update it with links to your post.

THE START OF BOATING SEASON – BY ELLIN CURLEY

From New Years on, Tom counts down the days until he can start working on the boat to get it ready to go back in the water. It spends its winters shrink wrapped and up on pilings in the parking lot of the marina, squashed together with all the other beached boats.

The first thing we have to do each spring is getting off the shrink-wrap. This involves lots of cutting and rolling of the large sheets of plastic protecting the boat from the winter elements. This usually takes one day, which is not too bad. But it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Then comes the cleaning, which is a big production. The bottom has to be painted and the hull has to be waxed and buffed. On a 40-foot boat, that’s a lot of waxing and buffing!

It also has to be over 55 degrees and dry for Tom to be able to do this kind of work and this year the weather has not been cooperating.

We had a few warmer days and he got a lot done, but then it either rained or was too cold for over a week. Tom’s brother came down to help him work on the boat, but they only got one good day out of four. This time of year the weather is always erratic, but it seems to be getting more schizophrenic each year.

Big pile of cut plastic rolled up next to the boat

The fiberglass and the metal railings on the inside of the boat also have to be cleaned and Tom likes to get this done while the boat is out of the water. That’s because once the boat is in the water, Tom gets lazy and just wants to relax and enjoy it.

My job is the interior cabins on the boat. While it’s still out of the water, I do the annual thorough cleaning. Everything is covered in black soot and dirt and is disgusting. I throw away a garbage bag full of black paper towels. But I persevere and clean every inch of the boat, including the two toilets, the bathroom floors (by hand) and the shower. This is my least favorite day of the year.

The deck inside the shrink wrapping

Once I’ve cleaned the inside, I take home all the sheets and towels, wash them, bring them back to the boat and make the bed and put the clean towels out.

My pile of laundry for the boat.

Then I have to stock the kitchen. I have to wait until the boat is in the water because the only way onto the boat in the parking lot is by ladder and I don’t want to carry heavy grocery bags up a shaky ladder. Stocking the kitchen is like stocking a house – I have to buy every necessary item in my kitchen, starting from scratch.

I need basics like coffee and tea, salt, pepper and sugar, herbs and spices, condiments like ketchup, mustard, mayo, barbecue sauce, and salad dressings, and items to cook with like butter, oil, vinegar, chicken stock, onions, tomato sauce, etc. Then there’s snack food and company food because people are always stopping by for a drink on the dock. So I need cheese and crackers, chips and dips as well as cookies and other sweets.

The other trick in shopping for a boat, is I have to try and find the smallest versions of everything so I can fit it all in my small kitchen.

When the kitchen is stocked, my last job is to clean the deck and the flybridge. That has to be done last because Tom keeps all of his cleaning items strewn all over these areas. It looks like a bomb went off at West Marine. Once he finishes his cleaning and puts everything away, I get to do the final job.

That’s when the boating season officially begins for us.

Anchors Away!

AND SUDDENLY, IT’S ALL GREEN – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Wednesday – BREATHTAKING

It’s gray, rainy, cold and the world is made of mud. No hope of flowers because it still feels like the end of winter.

Then, suddenly, the sun appears and you get a couple of warm day and the world explodes in color. Breathtaking barely describes it. It’s like a new world, a new planet. The sky is blue, the birds are singing. Of course, the squirrels are still eating all the seeds, but the lawn got mowed, the dead bushes are gone, there’s a tall fence to keep Duke in the yard where he belongs … for today, at least, the world is just perfect.

Garry went out and took pictures yesterday. Me too. I got serious about birds. He got serious about Uxbridge. There are so many pictures, I have barely had time to scrape along the edges of the more than 200 pictures from just yesterday. Call this “Breathtaking Sample 1” with more to follow!

From Garry Armstrong, the village and neighborhood:
Photo: Garry Armstrong – This picture is my favorite.
Photo: Garry Armstrong – The brand new crossing sign in the middle of town.
Photo: Garry Armstrong – At home in the woods
Photo: Garry Armstrong – The crossroads of Uxbridge
Photo: Garry Armstrong – The perils of not having a newspaper or even a radio station — we didn’t know there was a vote — or for what!

From Marilyn Armstrong, more birds and a squirrel.
The determined squirrel
Cowbird with Hairy Woodpecker – sharing!

THE CHANGING SEASONS: APRIL 2019 – THE RAINIEST APRIL SINCE 1872 – Marilyn Armstrong

The Changing Seasons, April 2019
The Rainiest April in 140 Years

Photography: Garry and Marilyn Armstrong

It wasn’t just my imagination. Of the 29 days of this past, April 2019, twenty of them were rainy. And for the final day, tomorrow, it will also rain which will bring the total to 21 days of rain for the month of April.

Not surprisingly, we didn’t get out to take a lot of pictures this month. If it weren’t were the bird feeders on our deck, there might not be any pictures at all.

Most of the time, it has been chilly and wet. We got some daffodils and a few crocuses. We even got a few sad-looking Forsythias. Meanwhile, although we got a whole set of brand new young Rhododendrons while the mature bushes all died. I don’t know if the rain drowned them or maybe they were just ready to move on and that’s why they sent up the new shoots.

My son is going to cut them all down — the dead ones and the young ones and all of the rose bushes. They will grow back, or at least the living ones will. I guarantee that by August, the young Rhododendrons and the barbed-wire roses will be taller than me.

Owen says they cut down their bushes every year and by mid-summer, they stand more than seven feet high. Meantime, there are a lot of shoots for upcoming daylilies. Bless you, daylilies. When everything else fails, I can count on you!

Double trouble
Brown-headed Cowbirds

The rain killed most everything else. We got two tulips and a bunch of bright yellow daffodils. I’m hoping we will see some Columbine and Spiderwort, too.

When I look into the woods, I can see that there is green there. The maples are beginning to show fat buds. The young pine trees have new growth, too.

Despite having several large trees fall on it, the lilac has a full growth of new leaves. I am surprised. I was sure it was going to give up at long last, but somehow, it keeps coming back. It doesn’t bloom much anymore. There isn’t enough sunshine back at the edge of the woods. And this is not a bush anymore. It hasn’t been a bush in more than 18 years. It is old growth and almost as tall as a maple tree.

It’s baseball season again!

Whether or not it will flower? Your guess is as good as mine. It’s too early for blooming. It won’t flower until the middle of May if it flowers at all. Sunshine would help.


About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

      • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
      • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
      • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

      • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
      • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
      • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to Su-Leslie’s post, she will update it with links to of yours.

THE CHANGING SEASONS – MARCH 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong

HIBERNATING THROUGH MARCH

The season didn’t change much here, though I suppose it got warmer overall. Mostly, though, the birds changed. I spent the month hibernating. This is the time of year when I really begin to hate our weather.

We are (usually) past major amounts of snow, though some of the heaviest snow we’ve ever seen has shown up in March and April. In this area in 1997, 36 inches of snow fell on April 1st and almost 25 in Boston.

Garry’s Snow Pictures

There is a storm on the way, but I am expecting mostly rain. I could be wrong, but I’m counting on being right.

Birds in March

Red-Bellied Woodpecker at feeding time

We got the heaviest snow of the winter at the beginning of the month and Garry took the pictures. It took about a week to melt and then it got warm, rained, was windy, got cold. Then a day or two of warm.

Garry’s Valley In March

Cardinal back in the woods

I’m trying to pay as little attention as I can to the news. I’m not very good at it, but I keep trying. All of the news from everywhere on the globe, but even more from here, is bad. I feel like the entire world has gone wrong. I really want to live through this and see it get better. I do not want this to be the last I see of this world!

Cardinal in the woods
We see each other!
Scarred and scornful, I stand my ground!
One of my birthday bouquets!

And the new bathroom!


About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to Su-Leslie’s post, she will update it with links to of yours.

THE CHANGING SEASONS: FEBRUARY 2019 – Marilyn and Garry Armstrong

The Changing Seasons: February 2019

This has been a very strange winter. Instead of what we usually get — mountains of snow accompanied by very cold weather — we got a tiny bit of snow, a fair amount of sleet, and a lot of rain and wind.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – House and some snow
Aldrich Street – Photo: Garry Armstrong

In a lot of ways, this is a good summary of this winter. A little snow, a lot of sleet, and when this picture was taken, 60 mph winds were blowing.

And of course, there were the birds. Two bird feeders, about 100 pounds of birdseed … and one Panasonic 4/3 telephoto 100-300 mm lens later …

And of course, our Christmas cactus that has been in more or less continuous bloom since Thanksgiving ..

And more pictures from Garry.

Photo: Garry Armstrong
If you look beyond the fence, you’ll see Gibbs and the Duke by the front steps
Photo: Garry Armstrong

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

    • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
    • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
    • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them
Bonnie and living room

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

    • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
    • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
    • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.
Three bright birds

If you do a ping-back to this post, Su-Leslie will update it with links to all the other photographers.

AND THEN IT SNOWED AND WE CANCELLED THE DAY … Marilyn Armstrong

I’m not afraid of winter. I’ve lived most of my life in areas with serious winters, the most serious of all here where we live.

This year, we’ve had the least snow ever recorded for any winter. It isn’t that there wasn’t snow elsewhere. It’s just the storms blew out to sea south of here, or took a path past us and went straight into northern New England and Canada. So we’ve been surrounded by snow, but it missed us.

Snowy Goldfinch

Not this time, though this isn’t exactly a monumental snowfall. In fact, it’s just a nasty little snow and sleet combination. It’s the sort of storm that makes the roads dangerous without adding any of the beauty of the season. It lands on the ground and gets sodden then hard as a rock. Not a really fun kind of snow. You don’t build snow people from this kind of storm.

Woodpecker in snow

What you do is cancel non-critical appointments and wait until they clean up the roads … or the rain takes care of it for you. Regardless, we live on a pretty lethal road. People drive as if their four-wheel-drive cars make them impervious to road conditions. Maybe (only maybe) on snowy roads, but 4WD is no better for driving on ice than any other car.

Goldfinch in snow

No one seems to have conveyed this to the drivers. We have more fatal accidents on this road than on any other road in the state … which is saying something because Massachusetts drivers are not known for their cautious driving habits.

Junco on the railing

Once we decided to not test the roads, we settled down and I made chili, my favorite cold-weather dinner.

As soon as we get “weather,” the birds get crazy as if this is going to be their last seed, ever. The moment it started to snow, there were dozens of birds on the deck, knocking each other off the feeders.

This was one of those days when many beautiful birds appeared and the moment I raised my camera, vanished. Sometimes, I think it’s personal.

This Junco has an attitude!

I’m sure Duke’s excursions into the backyard don’t encourage the birds to get friendlier, though to be fair, he showed no sign of being interested in hunting the birds. He was just curious about them.

Junco atop the Frog

And for the day, my favorite show. There were not only a lot of birds on the deck. They were also very active. Lots of fluttering and flapping as they knocked each other off the feeder. Normally, we’d have filled the feeder today, but it was snowing a bit hard and there are still plenty of seeds left if they’d stop banging each other around!

It’s difficult to show the activity, though. This picture shows it as well as I think I can!

Some fluttering in the snow