RICH PASCHALL, GARRY AND MARILYN BY THE BLACKSTONE CANAL – Marilyn Armstrong

It didn’t happen if you don’t take any pictures. Well, that’s not exactly true, but as a photographer, that’s how I feel about many events. Which doesn’t mean I always take pictures. Much of the time, I don’t feel like taking pictures. I just want to enjoy the event and not be the photographer.

Smiling, Rich and Garry by the Canal at River Bend
Rich and Garry by the canal at River Bend

This wasn’t one of those days. We had hoped to go out yesterday, but it rained all day. This morning, we woke up to a bright blue sky and we said “Okay, this is it. Let’s do it. So while I packed up my camera, made sure Garry had a live battery, figured out which lenses I was taking and off we went to the canal.

And halfway there, it started to rain. Plop. Plop. Plop.

“Maybe it’ll stop,” I said. There were still patches of blue in the sky so it could clear.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Marilyn and Rich along the Canal

By the time we got to the canal, it was pouring. It briefly slowed down, so we started to get out of the car. The pause changed instantly into a downpour. The rain gods were still with us. We turned around and started to head to dinner, but made a brief stop at the Crown & Eagle, which is a restored cotton mill which has been repurposed into a senior living facility. It’s a particularly beautiful location with the river behind the building and its own canal full of water lilies in front.

The sun came out.

The stone bridge in the rain

We turned around and went back to the canal. By then, it had started to drizzle, but it wasn’t pouring. Rich and I decided to take a chance and get out. I was wearing open-toed sandals — not the best footwear for a muddy rainy day by the river. And while my camera is water-resistant, none of the lenses I had brought were water resistant. I picked the 50mm prime because at least it didn’t have any electronics in it.

The footbridge
Photo: Garry Armstrong – Blackstone River

We took some pictures … and finally, Garry decided to come and shoot some too. He was worried about getting his hearing gear wet … a not unreasonable concern. That’s really expensive equipment that we absolutely can’t afford to replace. But he couldn’t resist the opportunity.

We had about 10 minutes before it started to rain again and if you look, you can see the rain falling in the river. We headed back to the car as quickly as we could with all the gear on the muddy, gritty path which apparently had been really messed up by the constant heavy rains we’ve been having for months.

Then, we really did go to dinner, which was great and I had tempura. Yum!

Rich on his own
The Blackstone Canal

Of course, as we finished dinner, the sun was shining, the sky was bright blue. These are the longest days of the year and I wished we could go back and take just a few more pictures.

But it was getting late. The dogs needed feeding. Moreover, if I was going to post these pictures, I had to download and process at least a few of them. So here they are. All that rain has made everything bloom like mad. It really does look like a rain forest!

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 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.

I’LL FLY AWAY … By Marilyn Armstrong

When I was a lot younger — in my teens — America didn’t look all that wonderful to me. It was before abortion became legal. Vietnam was in high gear and my first husband and I were close to bankrupt from having my spine repaired.

When I went into the hospital, we had $20,000 in the bank which in the U.S. in 1965, was enough to buy a house and maybe a car, too. In fact, our first house cost $19,200 and our car cost under $1000.

The first house

When I staggered out of the hospital (I was there for five months), we had $10 in the bank and owed the hospital a couple of thousand dollars more. I asked my husband if we didn’t pay them back, would they find me and break my back again?

Our first house in Boston

We cashed in everything we had, sold anything that had any value. Mind you, we had insurance. Just not enough insurance. Two years later, Owen was born with two club feet. It cost us about $500 every week to treat his feet. By the time he was walking almost normally, we were thousands of dollars in debt and never recovered.

There we were, deep in the Vietnam war. We had a lot of friends over there, too. We were lucky. Most of our friends came home.

We were young. Passionate. Sure we could fix it, whatever “it” was. We also wondered if we could move to Australia, Canada or somewhere we could earn a living, but in the end, we stayed in the U.S. It was home. We never imagined it would be as bad as it is now, but it wasn’t all that great back then, either.

When Jeff and I split up late in 1979, I moved to Israel with Owen and it became my “other: home. I became a citizen but in the end, I came back to the U.S. Because I knew where “home” was and it wasn’t there.

House in summer

I have been back since the end of the 1980s. Things got better, worse, then better, worse, better — and now, simply awful. Until Netanyahu was re-elected in Israel yesterday, I had this underlying belief that at least I had another home to which I could flee — if fleeing was what we had to do.

It turns out that any place we might go to has its own issues, most of which are as bad (and surprisingly similar) as ours. They may lack our disgusting, lying president, but they are battling over immigration, health care, taxes, the climate. Their politicians are also liars. More polite than ours. Not less sleazy but they have better manners.

Meanwhile, climate change will affect the entire world. All the pointless arguments in the world are not going to change that reality.

Is there anywhere for us to go? Is there a safe place with sane leaders who would want us? I think not.

First of all, we are old and not rich. Most countries, if they are looking for immigrants, are looking for young, well-educated people who will contribute to their economy or older people who have money. Israel would take us because I’m a citizen, but their problems are serious; I don’t see them improving soon.

The home in Baka, Jerusalem

Effectively, there is nowhere for us to go.

I think in years to come there will be only two kinds of people in this world: those who hate immigrants and immigrants.

Everyone else will be hiding in a cave.

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 BIGGEST LIE ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE – SCIENCE IS REAL

You should watch this. And don’t buy anything from ExxonMobil. Isn’t it great how giant corporations have done and continue to destroy OUR world so they can make an even bigger profit? They already have more money than anyone could possibly spend, but they want it all and the way things are going, they will get it all. And we will be left with the burnt out shell of our green planet earth.


 

ScienceSwitch

We were all lied to about climate change.

Via – AsapSCIENCE

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MAKING DO AND SOMETIMES, A SURPRISE – Marilyn Armstrong

Our mailbox got beat up. Was it whacked by a teenager and a baseball bat or hit by a plow? Since we didn’t see it happen, it’s a guess. What we know it that it got mashed. Not just ours, but our neighbors and other people on the same route. The ground is still pretty hard, making putting in a new post difficult, but the post office refused to deliver mail without a mailbox.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Buds in March

Yet somehow, the mailbox got repaired. Not replaced, but fixed. Along with our neighbor across the street. Owen didn’t do it. I asked and he said no, he hadn’t repaired it, so either the neighbor did a secret repair … or the plow driver took responsibility and did it … or the post office did it … or some stranger did it. We are still going to need to do a proper repair. It’s not an expensive repair, mind you. $20 for a post and another $22 for a post box.

Voila! Ready for mail for at least another decade or two, depending on snowfall, plow, teenagers and garbage trucks who also have been known to back into mailboxes.

Photo Garry Armstrong

I’m betting on the guy across the street and the next time we see him, we’ll have to ask. We aren’t exactly friends, but we aren’t exactly not friends. We are the kind of “over the hedge” friends you become in New England. He gives us extra tomatoes (he grows beautiful tomatoes) and we are always very happy to get them.

We have watched his children grow from little kids to college graduates. I remember when our children (our grandchild, actually) took the same school buses. Time has flown!

And now another summer is lurking a few months in the future. It’s only March so it’s still cold but it will get warmer. Eventually, it will be spring, then summer. Before we have time to blink, winter will be back.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – March down by the Mumford Dam

It seems to me the summer is when you race like mad to try and get everything done because there is very little time between the end of winter and winter’s return.

Weather is changing. Autumn is shorter. Summer is shorter and winter lasts longer. There is more rain, more ice, less snow. I don’t know what it means because New England is the kind of environment for erratic weather. Now it’s more erratic, but because it has always been strange. it is more strange, but what does it mean?

I’m sure it means something, but I’m not enough of a scientist to be able to tease the threads apart and make the right deductions. I simply know for the past two years, autumn has gone missing and we’ve had more rain and ice, less snow and more wind than I’ve ever seen. Which for New England IS unusual.