SPRING IN THE VALLEY – CEE’S FUN FOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Spring Scenes and flowers of the day

We don’t have much of a spring season here. It tends to stay cold until suddenly in May, the leaves pop out of the trees and everything blooms during one, sunny midday. The process takes just a few hours. It’s amazing. One year, it was winter when we went into the grocery and summer when we came out.

Autumn to winter can be like that too. Garry and I went out for lunch in Boston wearing tee-shirts and shorts,. Two hours later, we came out and it was near freezing, We ran home — which, fortunately, wasn’t very far.

We do get spring flowers, though. And birds. I hope that will count because otherwise, I’m just out of luck!

Harbinger of spring – our purple crocuses

Columbine

More yellow daffodils

The Goldfinch turning bright yellow for mating season.

Spring along the river

Our last Tulip.

More bright Goldfinch

Baby oak leaves and a very blue sky

Along the fence, Forsythia flowers

And the House Finch turns brighter too

Spring on the Mumford River

Solomon’s Seal

Springtime on the Commons

FOTD – January 14, 2020 – Daffodils in Bloom

THE CHANGING SEASONS, DECEMBER 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong

The Changing Seasons, December 2019

The weather has definitely become an issue around here. We got some snow at the end of November and then again at the beginning of December. That appears to have been winter.

Since then, we’ve had heavy rain, a week of bitterly cold days, a few light dustings of snow, a lot of days so warm we had to put flea and tick collars back on the dogs because the moment the temperature goes into the 50s and 60s, the fleas and ticks pop up as if summer never ended.

For those who are waiting for climate change to show up, I have a flash for them. It’s here.

Many of us already live in hotspots where the temperature has met or exceeded the 2 degree Celsius level. The seasons are changing. Autumn is vanishing … and apparently, so is winter. The bugs are going to have a real field day this year since they’ve never died off.

Most large American cities are hotspots. All of Australia and Tasmania are in trouble. I suspect most major cities on every continent are already at, over, or approaching the tipping point. Between the fires, mudslides, giant storms, floods, polar ice melting … it’s here. Now. We are in it. Some places more obviously than others. I do not think we have a decade or two to fix our climate problems and I don’t see any evidence that we are doing anything positive to deal with the changing climate or our planetary ecology.

I’m trying to find something about which to be optimistic, but I’m not having much success.

Nuthatch and incoming Bluebird

Frozen woods

Carolina Wren

A huge Tufted Titmice!

Ice everywhere

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 original post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

 

THE CHANGING SEASONS NOVEMBER 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong

THE CHANGING SEASONS – NOVEMBER 2019

This is one of the big change months of our calendar. We go from warm late fall days to bitter cold and sometimes snow. We didn’t (praise be!) get snow, but we got a lot of rain. We had one perfect week of Autumn. We used to get a month of it, but times are changing. It arrived late and departed in one night. A lot of trees just dropped their leaves without them even changing color.

But we got Cardinals and our very first Bluebirds. A triumph!

Bluebird and Chickadee

Very pretty Bluebird

Like Su Leslie, I’ve largely retreated emotionally to home and things I have some control over. I try to keep in touch with the world because maybe big things are coming and I hope I’m still here to participate. Meanwhile, I feed the birds — a small thing to help beleaguered creatures — and simultaneously am growing the fattest squirrels in North America.

From the front of the Bluebird

And one day, we had bluebirds!

It’s supposed to snow tomorrow and the news has been full of it. But when they talk about huge snowstorms, they mean nine inches to a foot. I am meanwhile thinking two to three feet or, as you folks say, a meter or more. What we are actually supposed to get is one to three inches, which isn’t snow. It’s a dusting.

It does mean winter really is here. I hope it isn’t really awful. A mild winter would be easier for everyone!

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 original post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

FAREWELL OCTOBER – Marilyn Armstrong

END OF THE AUTUMN – ANOTHER YEAR PASSES

It’s the last day of October and most of the trees are bare. It has been raining all week and last night’s wind and rain finally finished off the trees. So, in this vintage version of the old Inn around the corner, we say gooodbye and hope that winter is more kindly this year.

Photo by Garry Armstrong, processing by Marilyn Armstrong.

The 1700s Inn at at the end of our road. It has been added to, but the basic building remains. Until recently, it was a restaurant. Maybe it will be again.

ALMOST THE END OF THE LINE – Marilyn Armstrong

ALMOST THE END OF THE LINE

Hard to imagine October is done. Finito. My favorite month. The only thing about it I don’t like is that winter is right behind it.

The cold is closing in quickly. I don’t have a good feeling about this winter. Last year, we had basically “late Autumn” until March. Then it snowed like mad for a few weeks. The rest of the season was not snowy. We had a lot of rain and mud and ice, but hardly any snow until my birthday.

Woods and fence blizzard

Welcome to my 72 birthday. It was a 15-inch blizzard. And there I was, thinking we were going to get through winter without snow. One year (during the past 20) we had a snow-free winter, but the following year we had so much snow we had to have our roof shoveled three times to keep it from caving in.

That’s the really bad part of really good attic insulation. The heat from the house never gets to your roof, so the tons of snow never melts. Each subsequent snow piles on top of earlier blizzards.

Farewell, October

The winters of 2015 and 2016 were both like living in Mongolia or maybe Antarctica. One of our cars (we had two back then) was literally buried. You literally could not see it. Driving down our narrow roads was like driving in a tunnel with the snow 10 feet high on both sides from the plowing. I remember when Kaity was very young and she asked if the giant piles of snow and ice were going to become glaciers which they were studying in school.

I explained that I didn’t think so, but who could tell anymore?

Nonetheless, this is still nominally October, so let’s think orange and pumpkin-flavored donuts.

IT’S GLOWING TODAY BUT TOMORROW, THE RAIN WILL COME – Marilyn Armstrong

Driving home from River Bend, I was still — after all these years — breathless at how beautiful this area is. It’s love at the river and even in town, but as you turn down our street, it’s just so much color, it’s hard to even absorb it.

I didn’t think there were any more pictures to take, but the trees are much brighter today than they were yesterday. The maple is redder and the yellow has turned to deep orange. The yellow just makes your eys go “pop.”

Looking south on Aldrich Street

Down the driveway

Northbound on Aldrich Street

Maple in front of the house

I had to take a few more pictures. By then I was so tired, I could barely stand up, but I did it anyway because Autumn doesn’t come every year and rarely looks as glorious as it did today!

Upward from the house to the road

Bright yellow maple

Behind the green lawns, a tractor is on the way

I bought a new pair of Minnetonka little shoes AND I bought them half a size too big so there would be room for socks. And they wouldn’t fit. I finally realized my feet were so swollen from all the walking, I just stuck a pair of shoe trees in them and went back to socks. They ALWAYS stretch. I’m fondly hoping that those suede Minnetonka’s will stretch too!

THE MAPLE TREE IN THE FRONT YARD – Marilyn Armstrong

MORE AUTUMNAL COLORS!

It’s a lot harder to get the colors right on the photograph that one might think. Especially the reds. They may look like red to your eyes, but to the camera, they appear closer to bronze-brown. The problem is that leaves are a mix of colors, including more orange than red and a sizable dollop of yellow and magenta.

I took a bunch of pictures and I spent hours trying to make the colors look the way they looked to me. They don’t exactly, but they are close. Regardless, they are as close as I could get them.

My house with its maple tree. I couldn’t get the red correct without making the house look really strange. Sorry about that.

Much closer, but still more orange than red. Pretty, though.

This is relatively accurate, though the reds are a bit too orangy.

Still maple. Maybe a bit more red?

This is close to the real color, but it blocked out all the other colors!

This may be the closest to the real color. Not as dark a red color, but the range of colors is right.

 

THEN IT WAS AUTUMN AFTER ALL – Marilyn Armstrong

October 19, 2019 – Autumn Leaves

It looked hopeless. It was a month late and there was so much rain. And it was warm too late into the season. So most of us — especially me — sighed and decided we weren’t going to get a real Autumn this year. Kind of like last year where it just never happened.

Instead, after a huge storm of torrential rain and high wind — the kind of storm that usually knocks the leaves off the trees and gives us naked limbs. But that’s not what happened.

The deep orange maple over the little house with the blue door

Golden leaves in October

Wide view of the old stone bridge, river, and canal

Along the canal pathway

The storm came. It went and suddenly, it’s really Fall. The colors are up. It was impossible — but it happened anyway.

SHARING MY WORLD AT HARVEST TIME – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 10-14-19

QUESTIONS:

Why do we have such trouble telling our loved ones that we love them?  Do you have that kind of communication issue with your loved ones?

I did have that problem when I was younger, but I worked on fixing it and I don’t have it anymore. Probably proving that yes, some problems can be fixed.

Decorations for holidays?   Spirit lifters or pain in the butt?   Or a mix?  

It used to be a bit of both, but I’ve sort of streamlined the process and it’s so easy these days, it’s pretty much no trouble at all. I don’t decorate for all the holidays anyway. Just Christmas.

Do you donate to charities?  Of your time, do you feel money is the only true gift, or other?  

I give a little when I have a little to give. I used to offer services, but it never seemed to work out the right way, so I gave up. I offer people posts if they think they can use them, editing if they need it. But if it gets complicated, I jump overboard. Mostly, I do what I can within the limits of financial means. It isn’t much, but it also isn’t nothing.

Are you too superstitious or have you ever played with an Ouija Board?

Yes, but I was maybe 10? I don’t believe they work so it’s just a game.


halloween-clipart-vintage-5

HARVEST GRATITUDE:

This week please share a photo or image of what ‘harvest’ and “Autumn” mean to you!   Thanks! 

A VISITOR TO THE DECK – Marilyn Armstrong

We used to have dozens of chipmunks all over our woods. Cheeky little things. If we were “in their way (!),” they would come out onto the driveway and chatter at us.

I know a lot of people don’t like them, but they are funny and for something so small, have a lot of attitude.

One day, a bobcat — a pregnant bobcat — moved into our neighbor’s woodshed and had a little of four cubs. Bobcats don’t live collectively, so all but one of the cubs … and mom too … moved to other parts of the woods. In any case, considering how hungry these little cats seem to be, they need room to find food.

They ate every rabbit, chipmunk, squirrel … basically anything furry and cute. The next generation was born in my tepee. I remember the day I opened the door to my tepee and out leaped a bobcat. New England’s bobcats are about the size of a large housecat, but you’d know immediately it was no house lounger. With the rump set much higher than their front legs — the better to do some incredible leaping — and that funny pointed little tail, not to mention their glowing eyes that shine like torches … that ain’t no pussycat, no sirree.

The bobcat leaped from the tepee. I squawked and moved out of the way. I explained to the cat “Mi casa, su casa,” and I don’t think I ever went into the tepee again.

By the time that second litter was grown and on their own, they used to sit in front of the dog’s fence just to make the dogs bark in a frenzy. I would go out and yell at them to leave the dogs alone. They totally ignored me and would saunter slowly off into the woods.

So this is the first chipmunk I’ve seen since then. I haven’t seen a rabbit yet, but I figure if a chipmunk has found his way home, eventually the rabbits will come back, too.

JUST A FEW MORE IMPRESSIONIST BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong

There were new birds including some I don’t think I recognize. Except that the moment I picked up the camera, they vanished. Just like last year. I played peekaboo with a Cardinal and then there was a big gray and white bird … NO idea what he or she was.

Also, a variety of woodpeckers, which seem to be the only birds that hang around the feeder long enough for me to get a picture. There are always a few Tufted Titmice dashing up to the feeder, grabbing a seed and flying up to the branch of the nearest tree plus the odd Chickadee. Except I didn’t get any shots of them, either.

If I could convince my aching body to crawl out of bed earlier, there are hordes of birds in the morning. They line the fence and the limb of the tree that overhangs the deck. Pity I can’t seem to get any of their pictures.

I guess you’ll just have to (ahem!) … TRUST ME.

NOTE: I never trust anyway who says “trust me.” I figure if I need him/her to tell me, I’m already talking to the wrong person. Especially when that person is a contractor.

THE CHANGING SEASONS – SEPTEMBER 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong

The Changing Seasons, September 2019


It’s the last day of September. In New England, that’s Autumn. It’s sort of Autumn out there, but not a lot. It may get better, but a lot has to do with rain and if it gets very warm again.

It’s been very up and down. Moreover, climate change has made our erratic weather even more erratic than it was before, so it’s very hard to figure out what happening. Or will happen.

The trees are mostly green with large patches of bright yellow and in a few places, some red and orange. But the color is very slow in coming and if the rain starts before the color shows up, fall will wash away with the rain. As it did last year and the year before.

The barn and corral and our car, tucked in the corner. happy weather watching.

The farm road. Follow it if you want to see the horses.

We have taken some nice pictures, so even if we aren’t getting that golden red fall feeling, it certainly is lovely outside.

I’d hate to lose a whole season, especially Autumn.

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 this post, Su-Leslie can update her post with links to all of your posts.

SUNFLOWERS BY FARM, ROAD, AND RIVER – Marilyn Armstrong

Sunflowers by the Farm-September 29, 2019

Apparently, the original owners of our favorite farm have sold to a new owner. He’s not a new owner in the sense of being young and looking to make a splash in the local farming world.

He is also Native American and I’m guessing the only Native in town. I wasn’t comfortable enough with him to ask him about tribe and affiliation … but he looked like a classic painting and he had long wavey white hair. Handsome man. Maybe a bit young for me and anyway, what would Garry say? Of course at our age, Garry is most likely to ask when the next corn cutting is coming. We are no longer hot to trot.

I think he is in his early sixties though he might be older, just in very good physical shape. Friendly, too. I was grateful. There’s no guarantee that new owners will be as friendly and glad to have visitors as previous owners.

I’m assuming the original owners retired. For one thing, their house is huge and now that I’m pretty sure the kids have left, that’s 18 rooms plust at least two full levels of stairs. Way too much to try and care for. And the house is more than 100 years old, so figure there’s a lot to be done.

Farming is hard, even if you aren’t trying to prove anything. I’m glad he sold to someone who wants to keep the farm as a farm and not turn it into condominiums along the Blackstone. Uxbridge is underpopulated and that’s the way I like it. I know it’s hard to find work and if we had more people, we might get something better resembling a “government.” But who needs a government anyway?

When all my other flowers die, this is what takes over.

As it is, we don’t have a mayor — or anyone who wants to be one. No one wants to be anything. It’s a “head’s down and you’ll keep out of trouble” sort of place.

The next farm down the road has a herd of dappled Tennessee Walkers. I think all Walkers are dappled and their colors change from year to year. Mostly, they are gray, ranging from nearly white, to medium gray. If I were still riding, what a discovery this would be!

Garry with chickens

Even though it has been more than 20 years since I rode, I still get excited at the smell of horse. Non-horse folks wrinkle their noses, but the smell of a well-worn set of leather chaps is like perfume to me. Maybe that’s why I don’t mind that my house smells like dogs who urgently need a bath.

OUR CLIMATE CHANGE DIDN’T HAPPEN SINCE TRUMP TOOK OFFICE – Marilyn Armstrong

NOTE: I’m not putting in any pictures of dead creatures, malls, or rivers the color of fire. These are too depressing. There are plenty of pictures of slaughtered animals, poisonous rivers, dead malls.

If you have the stomach for it, look them up. 


Forty years ago, I was the English-language editor at the University of Jerusalem’s Environmental Health Laboratory. I worked there for almost five years during which we addressed issues of wastewater, air and soil management.

The country was still quite small. I think we had maybe 7 million people at that point. The scientific staff traveled from kibbutz to kibbutz, then to any other area that was under cultivation. The goal was trying to explain why it was so critical we stop using nitrogen-enriched fertilizer and start managing wastewater while finding ways to use it.

No one listened. My boss predicted we’d lose our aquifer by 1985. He was wrong. It was dead by 1983.

The point to this is not that I knew something secret and important about our climate before most people were really up to speed on the subject. The point is that we have known about the danger to our environment for at least 100 years. We have had better science and statistics about it for at least the past fifty.

We can loathe Trump for taking a desperately bad situation and making it worse at every possible opportunity. But the reality is that with or without Trump, the planetary climate madness we are seeing was going to happen anyway, no matter who was in office. Because we didn’t do nearly enough. This issue did not begin in 2016. Much of the worst damage was done in 1916 when we casually and carelessly dumped poison into our air, water, and land.

Since the 1970s when we declared “Earth Day,” we’ve done some good stuff. We didn’t do nothing, but we didn’t do enough. Not here. Not in China. Not in Europe. Not in South America or Africa or Australia.

We improved car emissions. We knocked out the smog in some major cities. We cleaned up some horribly polluted rivers. Some of us did our best to manage recyclables. Some places did better than others. We didn’t build enough plants to deal with the plastic and paper and we charged extra for products made from recycled materials — which was not what people expected. Reality notwithstanding, we didn’t expect to be charged a premium for recycled goods. A lot of places — like where we live — do not have “real” recycling. We don’t even have a dump much less a recycling plant.


Despite all arguments anyone cares to make, WE DID NOT DO ENOUGH. If we had done enough, we would not be where we currently are. 

The world’s population has grown exponentially everywhere. For every little green area we plow so we can build a condo or mall we don’t need, birds and other small animals die, often forever. In poor countries, you can’t blame them for trying to create farms to feed their people. Large mammals — like elephants — are antithetical to local farming.

Of course, most of the large mammals are murdered for worse reasons: fun. I have a venal hatred of “sport” killing. There’s nothing sporting about it and I think everyone who slaughters an animal that is disappearing deserves to die a similar death, but slower including a full understanding of why he is dying.

Then there’s all the drilling for oil — and the massive spillage in the arctic and the Gulf of Mexico — and add to that fracking. What could possibly go wrong with that?

I spent five years surrounded by nothing but environmental scientists. I edited their material, sent it to magazines for publication. Read the papers. Understood how important it was.

And for all of that, I didn’t understand. I didn’t imagine it would happen to me. That my world would change. That my birds would die. That insects that aren’t supposed to live in this climate would move in bringing with them diseases that would kill us. And our way of stopping the insects –which are the direct result of the climate change we’ve been denying or worse, ignoring — is poisoning everything.


It’s a planetary problem and it needs a planetary solution. It needs us to do the single thing we never successfully do. Work together for a common cause, even if we hate each other. It doesn’t matter how we feel or what our political system is. This is a planetary issue and we need a planet-size solution.

For all I know, we are beyond fixing it. Maybe we can ameliorate the process. Maybe we can stop building on every piece of ground we find. Maybe we can do something to create food for more people with less destruction to the earth. I don’t really have answers. I just know we are in serious trouble and aren’t addressing it.