AND THE BLOOMS KEEP COMING – Marilyn Armstrong

And the cactus continues – 03/01/2019

The birds came in droves except when I picked up the camera when they vanished. Completely. For a while, we had a squirrel knocking off the seeds in the hanging feeder, but I was a couple of rooms away and I knew by the time I got the camera in my hands, he’d be gone so I settled for looking.

I’m tired. I have to admit that between the weather, a million or was it two million? trips to the doctor — mine, Garry’s, mine, mine — I’m pooped.

But the cactus keeps blooming and it’s beautiful. And, as it happens, I took a few pictures.

 

BACK COMES THE CACTUS – Marilyn Armstrong

IT ISN’T CHRISTMAS, BUT THE CACTUS IS BACK! FOTD – 02/18/2019

I thought there might be another blooming of the Christmas cactus. Why? It just looks so incredibly healthy and it’s been putting up new shoots like crazy. I wasn’t paying much attention to it, probably because of the birds. But I was noticing that the orchid has sent up a new shoot and when I looked, I realized that cactus if full of buds.

So … I took a few pictures. I think we’ll have actual flowers next week or even the middle of the week. That was a really fast turnaround, fastest ever for me.

 

AND SO BLOOMS ANOTHER CHRISTMAS CACTUS – Marilyn Armstrong

A New Year’s  Christmas Cactus – FOTD – 1-4-19

The buds have been big since before Christmas, but this cactus waited until the New Year to bloom. I suppose that would make it a New Year’s cactus?

The buds were pink and the bud which has not yet opened is also dark pink, but after opening, it seems more red than pink. In any case, that’s what the camera picked up.

The leaves are translucent, so how red or pink the blossom appears depends on the light.

Blooming

It was a sunny day. I had to wait until the sun wasn’t directly on the flower. I need the brightness of the sun, but in full sun, parts of the flower burn out and processing the pictures becomes problematic.

Very close

It’s easier to wait an hour until the sun has moved to the west a few degrees. This time of year, it doesn’t take long for the sun to move along.

These are all macros because that’s the lens I had on the camera. Besides,  what’s the point of having a macro lens if you don’t use it to photograph flowers?

NOW, IT’S THE NEW YEAR’S CACTUS – Marilyn Armstrong

While I’ve been busy shooting the birds, the cacti have been happily blooming their hearts out. The red one is still blooming. Not as fully as it was, but it still has new buds and it is very much alive and well. I can’t remember ever having a blooming period this long.

New Year’s Eve cactus blossom
A matching finch?

The second “pink” cactus is blooming now. I don’t think it’s going to have a very big bloom. Only a handful of buds. One is fully in bloom and one is likely to bloom any minute.

Happy New Year from my pink cactus. It doesn’t look entirely pink, but it sort of is
New Year cactus greetings
Ironically, this is the big bloom on the red cactus which has become a little more pinks it fully opened

I took pictures today. I should have waited for a brighter day, but when the sun is very bright, it tends to give me a lot of excessively high contrast which doesn’t look well with these translucent flowers.

And a happy and healthy New Year to everyone!
He says Happy New Year too!

The pink flowers are only slightly less red than the red cactus. The buds are pink, but when they bloom, they look darker and not as pink as the buds lead you to believe.

THE HOLIDAY SEASON – Garry Armstrong

It isn’t depression.  It isn’t anger or melancholia. Maybe, it’s just a case of the “blahs,” the post-Christmas brain drain.

Last Night, Marilyn and I were doing our usual Christmas ritual of watching a classic, old holiday movie. We started with “A Christmas Story” which is always good for laughs. Darren McGavin is a treasure as the embattled but nice Dad. Peter Billingsley’s “Ralphie” captures a little of all of us when we were kids.

We were still smiling as we went to our second feature, “Holiday Inn”. This is the 1942 version (the year many future legends made their début on the world stage): Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire with lots of Irving Berlin classics including “White Christmas” making its début with Crosby, pipe smoke billowing, crooning in familiar style.

There are problems with “Holiday Inn” which we usually ignore but really couldn’t this year. The biggest is the Blackface act with Crosby and cast singing “Abraham” to mark a holiday. I left the room as the scene began and found chores to do until the next scene.

Blackface — which has stirred new controversy — has always troubled me deeply.  This classics movie lover usually fast forwards through similar scenes in beloved films from old Hollywood where racism was a staple and white stars would usually laugh benignly at the characters played by Black actors. The Stephen Fetchit, Amos ‘n Andy factor.

An old friend emailed a few days earlier, expressing her distaste for the “Holiday Inn” scene. It had made an admired film unwatchable for her. The racial controversy took a back seat as we enjoyed the rest of “White Christmas,” it’s creaky plot and great music. But it left us both feeling uneasy.

I had “A Christmas Carol” (The Alistair Sims version) ready for our holiday movie trifecta. Marilyn said she wasn’t in the mood for any more holiday movies after “Holiday Inn.” I usually stand up for old movies but I instantly knew what Marilyn was saying.

The Blackface scene reminded us of much of what’s wrong in our world now.  You can’t escape it by watching another old movie. The melancholia had settled in. We had striven all day to keep our minds off reality and just enjoy Christmas.  We couldn’t maintain the happy glow. I was reminded of Commander-In-Chief Donzo’s insensitive remark to a child about believing in Santa Claus.  All of the bad stuff started to march forward in our brains.

We settled on watching “Midsomer Murders,” a BBC series we’ve grown to love in recent years. That was the temporary Rx to our blahs as the dogs found their second wind and raced outside to bark at the moon, serenade our neighbors, and irritate the bejesus out of me now that I can hear them with my Cochlear implant.

Marilyn and I discussed some upcoming stuff and, clearly, we had lost the thin veneer of holiday cheer. We touched on my overfeeding the dogs which we’ve discussed before and I have ignored.  It endangers the furry kids’ health.  Marilyn’s point is on target even as I used their begging as an excuse to shirk responsibility.  The mood was clearly changing as we tried to engage our attention on “Midsomer Murders”.

The dogs provided some humor with their barkathon, my racing in and out to admonish them with no real success. I focused on Duke who was the main noise culprit. At one point, Duke raced into the crate before I could order him to do so as punishment.  We all laughed at the silliness of the moment. I think some of our good humor was restored as Christmas night drew to a close for us.

It’s still interesting how quickly things can change compared to the yesteryear world of Ralphie and “A Christmas Story”.

CHRISTMAS EVE 2018 – Garry Armstrong

It was a very enjoyable Christmas Eve. A drama free (dee-lish) dinner.

Everyone enjoyed their gifts including the furry kids who hadn’t destroyed their toys as of Christmas morning.

I had a long and delightful phone chat with my family. Two younger Brothers, cousins, and cousin-in-law. I was able to hear everyone clearly (first time!) with my cochlear implant. I think I was a bit giddy because I rambled all over the place, chatting about how the cochlear implant has changed my life.

We shared memories about Christmases past. Lots of laughter as I said goodbye.

Owen brought over a bunch of old ’78’s (Those of a certain age know what I’m talking about).

We listened to vintage performances of Christmas music performed by Bing Crosby, Mahalia Jackson, Gene Autry and Red Foley. Yes, Red Foley. “White Christmas” is still a signature song of the season and it belongs to Harry Lillis “Bing” Crosby.

One of the 78’s contained soundtrack music from the 1942 film, “Holiday Inn” in which Bing Crosby introduced Irving Berlin’s beloved “White Christmas.” Gene Autry’s “Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer” brought back a rush of childhood memories as did a rendition of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” I found myself singing along — softly — because I sing off-key.

What a blast! Thanks, Owen.

I, too, wonder about the mince-pie mystery.

What happened to mince-pie? Marilyn and I have been searching in recent weeks for mince-pie, fresh or frozen.  No luck.  No answers.  I just read an online piece about a cache of mince pies discovered in England, stashed in a basement — from World War Two. A Mom’s gift to her Son in the army. The pies are over 70 years old. No mention of how they taste.

This still doesn’t answer our mince-pie mystery. Russian collusion?

Christmas Day is upon us. The house is quiet. The furry kids are searching for their toys. Santa Claus has been very kind to us. Yes, Donzo, there is a Santa Claus.

I suppose he forgot about you.

ON CHRISTMAS DAY IN THE MORNING – Marilyn Armstrong

On the first day of Christmas

And so there we were. The family. We actually opened presents before dinner because no one could wait. And that’s sort of funny because they were all small presents. Not big, grand surprises. And I think everyone liked their stuff.

Owen brought over a record player and a bunch of Christmas 78 RPM records. They still play, too. Lots of crackle and pop. Amazing.

There was a roast at least a pound bigger than we needed, making me wonder what I’m going to do with the food I defrosted for tomorrow because we have a lot of food. Really. A lot of food. An entire unopened key lime pie, too and half a cheesecake.

Good thing I didn’t also make apple pie.