THE END OF MIDDLE EARTH – Marilyn Armstrong

I don’t know how many times I’ve read these books. I know the first time was in 1967. I read it in the hospital after my spine was fused and after I decided not to die. I was in the hospital for five months and not allowed out of bed at all for any reason. That is a lot of time in bed and after getting home, it was a very long recovery.

It was more than a year before all the plaster and braces were removed and months more before I could stand upright for more than a few minutes at a time. But I was young and after a while, I was as normal as I would ever get. I had always been a voracious reader, but I had never read any science fiction. By the time I got out of the hospital, I had read every sci-fi book anyone could find for me, as well as Lord of the Rings. Twice. You have to read it twice. It takes that long to absorb it. Really, it takes even more readings than that. There’s so much to it. Moreover, each time you read it, it means something different than it did the time before.

I had crates of books to take home with me. I think I left most of them with the hospital. TV wasn’t very good back then and a lot of people needed something to read.

As I am now in the middle of “The Two Towers, ” deep in the syntax of J.R.R. Tolkien as the peoples of Middle Earth fight the encroaching darkness.

Speaking of branches, the Ents have taken a stand against Saruman. This is one of my favorite parts of the books and as far as I am concerned, I live amongst my Ents. I often talk to my trees because if they are Entish, they are listening.

Gandalf

I’ve passed the battle of Helm’s Deep when Theoden asks Gandalf if they can get back to the life they knew before all this ugliness. Gandalf says no because evil leaves traces. You fight it, but even if you win, remnants of that evil are always with you.

“But what about the peoples of Middle Earth? Will we all vanish?”

Gandalf says “Perhaps. Sometimes that’s the price we pay.” This isn’t literally what they said, but close enough.

These days, I wonder if all the people of modern earth will vanish too and that will be the price we pay. I can’t say we don’t deserve it. As a species, we’ve done terrible things to our earth.  We have a long, hard road ahead to fix it, which I sure do hope we do soon.

Will the evil of these days cause us to vanish? I have to admit, I never imagined I was living in evil times. I knew there were bad people — far too many bad people — but I thought most of us were basically decent people, good people. That our government would always stand up for us ahead of their personal agendas. And yet, here we are.

I still hope it somehow gets better and I really hope that Australia stops burning and the sea recovers. That Autumn returns and the seasons take their rightful place as the world rolls around the sun.

DRIFTING ALONG WITH THE GOOD GUYS – Marilyn Armstrong

DRIFTING ALONG

I am retired which is, by definition, at least a little bit adrift. This is a good thing and the real reason we retire. After a life of deadlines and commuting, some drifting seems like a pretty good idea. So here I am. Just drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweed … with memories of those great cowboy movies of childhood.

Hi Roy! Hi Trigger! Hey, Bullet! Hope y’all are doing well. I miss you. All of you. You were the good guys. We trusted you. Where are you now, when we need you?

ROBBIE THE ROBOT – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Saturday – ROBOT


One day, some years back,  the mailperson delivered a copy of a wildly expensive catalogue store in Manhattan. For more than $3000. they were offering a full-size version of Robbie the Robot.

The catalogue model was bigger than a normal human and featured the robotic performer — statuesque — who was a top draw on one TV show I never watched as well as the dearly beloved movie “Forbidden Planet,” a feature that fits neatly into my guilty pleasure film genre.

I believe Robbie also did a few other performances in other science fiction movies.

However huge the model, he didn’t do anything but stand in a corner and gather dust. I wanted him.

At that price, he was completely out of the question and he was huge.  We can barely fit our existing stuff into this house, which is much too big for us, yet is simultaneously not big enough.

I decided there had to be an old-style version of Robbie in a size and price I could manage.  Through the good offices of the “used/vintage” section of Amazon, I found this guy.

He is one of the originals from the 1970s and he works. He talks (badly and muffled) and he walks. Actually, he shuffles in a somewhat forward direction, then falls flat on his face.

I love him anyway. He is my favorite robot. He is my robot.

About a month after I overpaid for this vintage Robbie. His date of manufacture is on the box — which is put away somewhere safe. I’m pretty sure I know where the box is. I am pretty sure where the box is, but this is n0t the same as really sure. My memory is only 15 seconds long these days.

Robbie is always with us. He stands on the coffee table much of the time, on the top of the huge dog crate and occasionally on some other surface, but he is always out where I can see him. No safe place for HIM. He lives with us. Our guy.

Garry went to turn off the “night-light” we leave on in the living room overnight and knocked him over. He’s not hard to knock over because his balance is bad, but at least Garry could deliver him for a few extra shots of Robbie in all his glory.

Our own Robbie. He can’t do anything much, but he not much of a robot, either. But I love, love, love him.

OUT-OF-FASHION – Marilyn Armstrong

FUCHSIA – OUT-OF-FASHION?

When I discovered my favorite hanging flowers are officially “out of fashion” — meaning I can’t buy any, at least not in Uxbridge, I got depressed. I never imagined flowers could go out-of-fashion. It’s bad enough that I’m obsolete, but fuchsia? My glorious pink and purple flowers that I love … and which grow perfectly on our rather shady deck?

Isn’t it lovely?

So imagine this morning’s delight when I realized that somehow, without much thought or attention, I’d grown orchids. I’d seen the shoots, but I didn’t see any buds. Watered lightly, left them to the light and sent them my best hope for a rapid blossoming.

One of them is blooming and there are many more buds waiting. I think only one stalk will flower, but I could be wrong.

I’d like to say that while these are some of the most beautiful flowers to look at, they are amazing tricky to photograph. They are so translucent you don’t get the flower colors as much as you get the glow of the sunlight through them. And that is not a sunny window.

I will happily accept all congratulations, even though to be fair, I didn’t do anything except water them when they got really dry. Sometimes, that’s all you really need to do.

I sure hope that these don’t go out of fashion. Between my obsolete self, my crumbling home, and variously disabled body … well — out-of-fashion is possibly the kindest way to put it.

READY TO INCITE? – Marilyn Armstrong

INSIGHT IS NOT INCITE – BUT THEY SOUND THE SAME


Sometimes, you just have to love this language. I do not feel insightful, but I could probably incite a riot. I know it’s merely a homonym. Not the same word except by sound, but I feel very non-insightful.

I want is to win a lot of money so I can fix the house. I want my life — for the first time ever — to become easier.

I’m not sure when I started believing when you got older, things slowed down and you could relax, surrounded by caring family who would take care of your needs and maybe even a few small luxuries.

That has not exactly been how it worked. I’m just pissed about the whole “getting old” thing. Why doesn’t someone else cook dinner? Why are we both still scrubbing and vacuuming and cleaning? Why does the house persist in requiring maintenance and repair? What’s WRONG with this picture?

Round up the angry mob. Let’s skip insight and go directly to INCITE!

Who’s with me?

I WANT AN AUTONOMOUS HOUSE! Marilyn Armstrong

Autonomous house, autonomous life!

The self-driving vehicle is on the way. It’s on the news and in the news. A few accidents. One death. But considering the number of accidents just backing out of a driveway in suburbia, that’s pretty good.

I can actually see a day coming when Robert Heinlein’s vision will have arrived. Not exactly as he predicted, but close enough for folk music.

We could definitely use a self-driving car because neither one of us wants to drive anywhere, but we are driving a not-yet-paid-for second-hand 2012 Jeep Patriot, so a self-driving car doesn’t look likely to appear for us.

Autonomous cars would be great. Finally, we could blame everything on computers. Nothing would be anyone’s fault. The manufacturer’s of colliding cars could duke it out in court and all we’d have to do is recover from being slammed by a 40-foot moving van. Anyway, by then, medicine will be free. I know this because we are all moving in the direction of more freedom for all Americans.

We aren’t? Did I mis-hear the news again?

However much an autonomous self-driving vehicle would solve many issues, an autonomous, self-repairing, self-cleaning house would really do the job! If a tile on the roof gets damaged, the technology will grow another in its place. You’ll never know it happened. The furnace, will operate on hydrogen drawn from well-water and will never need filling. Rugs will be permanently free of dog hair, grit, pollen, and mud.

Pipes would never clog.

Of course, this presumes that we continue to get rain and have wells and aquifers. And we don’t turn into a charred desert or return to the Cretaceous period and have to live in trees.

Mostly, I want the autonomous house where everything gets fixed and I don’t have to figure out how to pay for it or even know I have a problem.

This whole “take care of your house” and “please don’t back into anything” is getting old.

I don’t think ANY of us should be driving. We are too distracted. Overly busy with phones, not to mention worries, conversations, and work. There are too many cars. Everywhere. Even where there aren’t a lot of people, there are still too many cars.

MAKE IT ALL AUTONOMOUS.

Anything you can run without needing me to do it, I’m a BIG yes. Please do not send me a bill.

Why is it always about MONEY?

RETROSPECTIVE: AFTERTHOUGHT AND FOND FAREWELL – Marilyn Armstrong

RETROSPECTIVE: afterthought & farewell


Do you remember when we competed to get the “Freshly Pressed” award? When there was a weekly prompt that they actually read and supposedly “judged” for quality and uniqueness?

Remember when one day, it vanished? We didn’t even get a marketing letter about that one. It vanished and never returned and Freshly Pressed went with it.

Can you recall when we got little prizes and bonuses for however many views we got … or the number of “likes” or “follows”? That was when blogging was what the platform was about. Almost every author I followed had an active blog on Word Press.

Gradually, all of that has dribbled away. With dissolving the last of it including the Daily Prompt which has got to be the most effortless prompt in creation (and is probably done by a generating app in someone’s laptop), they’ve taken a platform famed for its connectivity and unique friendliness and dropped to see if they can make two billion next year on top of the billion they got this year.

The Years of Serendipity

I know everyone says that “WordPress is free,” but how many of you do NOT pay a fee to upgrade your site? Most of us pay. It’s not the $49.99 a month they want for their business site, but most of us don’t have that kind of money and what’s more, we aren’t businesses. Authors, artists. Thoughtful people with ideas to share. Painters with art. Musicians.

Religious people and atheists share a platform and manage to communicate with each other in a world where this kind of communication is almost unheard of.

I would like to think that somehow, WordPress will still be the same place it used to be, but I doubt it. In every other blogging site where they have wrenched the soul out of it in the name of somehow making a lot more money, the results have been catastrophic. Most of those sites are gone — entirely. The rest have become something so different no one recognizes them. Remember when Reddit was the “hot spot” to get your work recognized? They changed it and now, it’s no kind of hot spot. No one cares if their material is there. It doesn’t matter.

Now, it’s all about monetizing your site. Monetizing? I am retired. I don’t sell anything. When I was selling things, I had a commercial site on a commercial marketing platform. I paid my way along with all the other business sites. In 2008, when our economy crashed, I ended that business. It was not a good business for those financial times.

I missed the extra money, but I was done with business. Meanwhile, I had been blogging a little here and there. GeoCities (remember when Yahoo did something?) and Storyline (I think that was the name — they sold themselves to Facebook which promptly dissolved them; they are gone). There some others until I hooked onto WordPress and found a home.

The blogging platform that is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

There were good years — 2012 through 2014 — and then they started urging us to make money. They would help us. Which was interesting because before that, it was illegal to try to make money on your site. We were bloggers, not businesses. Our goal was to talk about art and books and ideas. To be thoughtful, intelligent, creative.

Now … what will it be? If we aren’t bloggers – thoughtful and creative – then this is another Ruby Lane where businesses line up on a platform and everyone sells whatever they’ve got. I’m not a business. I’m not going to be a business. If I wrote another book, I could publicize it, but that’s not a “business” and anyway, writers don’t have a lot of spare change.

So this is a retrospective to what this platform was and I wish would remain. It is a sad farewell to something which is about to start its long slide to nothing special.

Should WordPress — against all odds — create a business audience out of 12-million bloggers (something no other organization has yet done), it won’t be “our” WordPress, just be another business platform.

Worse, it’s doomed to failure because this isn’t that audience. I keep saying it. The first and possibly ONLY rule of marketing is “KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.”

WordPress doesn’t get that.

And then, there is WordPress

I am linked to many of you as followers and vice versa. If you get my emails indicating I’ve posted, we will stay in touch. There are a lot of people trying to figure out a more direct way to keep in touch. I’m on top of that.

In the meantime it turns out money is what matters, forever and through all eternity. Ah-men.

BROKEN? ALSO, DISCONNECTED – Marilyn Armstrong

Broken

I got up this morning in a pretty good mood. Bright sun, not humid. Looks like a nice day as spring heads into summer. Put up the coffee, gave the dogs treats. My son came over to install the new router and that’s when things started to go downhill.

The new one is exactly the same but bigger.

I hate new routers. It means everything which connects to WiFi is going to need a new password and a full restart. The phone started ringing … and that was when I realized we still have one, single hard-wired WiFi item in the house — my husband’s caption phone. I couldn’t get it to hook up and it turned out that this was because I had not yet fully installed the router itself.

To make this just a little more difficult, Garry’s phone is at the back of the house in his office. The router is in the middle room which used to be my office. And my computer is in the living room where I mostly live. I needed my computer. I needed information off the bottom of the previous router and I needed the serial number from the new router. It’s easily a dozen numbers long and probably 6-point type. Does anyone try to read those numbers?

I unplugged my computer and kept moving me and it from room to room.

Of course, this is the week that I had to reinstall everything on my computer and that meant I have new passwords and I don’t remember any of them. Although I used to have a NetGear account, I’ve apparently changed email addresses since then, so I had to register as if it were the first time.

I did that. Then I had to reinstall Garry’s caption phone and of course, it had a whole set of new software on it (we don’t reinstall it often, so inevitably when we do this, there’s always new software). Yet, I got all this done and somewhere in here, I vacuumed the floors, too.

I still hadn’t gotten a cup of coffee — was cruel and unusual punishment. I needed coffee!

The doctor’s scheduler called and lucky for me, that was exactly when Garry emerged from the bathroom. I set up his dates for pre-op and the surgery. Plus the first follow-up post surgery — and realized, I also had to arrange for him to get a meningitis shot. Which, it turned out, I have to get at the pharmacy, but not our usual pharmacy because the vaccine for people over 55 is different than the one for everyone else and requires a nurse practitioner. Which means CVS. Which I couldn’t speak to because they only have recorded messages. No humans.

I tried to call the hospital, but kept getting disconnected. By now, I’m breathing slowly and deeply because this is stuff I simply must get done, no matter how aggravating. It’s important. In the case of the vaccine, also expensive!

For reasons best known to our government, vaccinations (except flu) are NOT covered by medical insurance. Don’t ask. I don’t have an answer. A lot of our medical care is senseless and this is one of the more irksome items.

Garry wants a list of grocery to get and I feel brainless. I can’t give him an answer because my head is swimming with vaccinations and appointments and computers and I really, really need coffee.

It’s two in the afternoon. I still haven’t cleaned Bonnie’s eyes and I have no idea where I’m getting $150 for Garry’s vaccination. Some credit card, I assume. Lord knows how I’ll pay for it. I also have to change the post surgical checkup because it’s on the only day Owen can’t drive us there.

If I drink some coffee, I’m sure this will all work out. I’m sure of it. No, really. I’m sure.

It’s all about the coffee.

DREAM AND REAL – Marilyn Armstrong

Juxtapose

In my dreams – now rapidly fading as dreams do when you wake – is that I was so exhausted I could not continue. I didn’t know why I was so exhausted, only that I could barely raise my head from the pillow. I knew I had to quit the job that I had and I wasn’t entirely clear what job I was working

It turned out I was working for the military, searching out information on obscure (unknown?) bases in distant places … and I was not allowed to tell anyone what I was doing because I was supposedly doing something else. I had gotten my old friend Dorothy to join me and she had been working on some other base in some other part of the world, but had finally had enough and quit.

I wanted to quit too, but I felt I had to stay because it was secret and military and somehow, important, though I wasn’t sure why it was important. Or to whom.

Juxtapose reality: Life has been exhausting. I do what I must and then I do what I should and just when I think I’ve done everything I need to do, it’s the next day and I have to do most of it again and I know it will never end.

Moral of the story? I need to cut back on what I think are the requirements of life. But I’m not sure what they are anymore. I’m no longer sure where the necessities are versus the things I really want to do. For whatever reason, they have become so entangled that I just try to do everything. Because I know that no one else will do them.

Having dug my computer out of hacker land, I’m changing the router – which I can ill-afford to do – but I feel pretty exposed and I need to feel more protected in a world gone mad with crazy people who are out to get me.

Why is anyone trying to get me? Or us? We have so little, why us? We know there is no answer to that question, or at least, no answer that will make us understand. The ugliness of the world is the real truth of it.

A group who had little feel they owe nothing to anyone but themselves. They probably laugh at us when they imagine how many poor people have been made even poorer through their efforts.

The right way to sleep

A cold shiver runs down my back when I realize that there are so many evil people in this world and my trusting them has not gained respect but simply made me a target.

If my dreams are telling me anything, it’s that there is too much on my plate. Too much of it feels desperately important and frightening. Oppressive. Somehow, I have to find a way to lower the pressure. I don’t know how.

I wish I had a list of ways to get it done. Something. This is no way for me to be living, not at this time in my life.

I, CLONE – Marilyn Armstrong

Doppelganger

So my clone went to the police station this morning to report being hacked. It wasn’t a crime because I was massively inconvenienced, but nothing was stolen. They tried, they failed.

I spent all day yesterday until the wee hours of the morning trying to reconstruct my computer. It’s now about 75% done. I take long periods off because I really hate this part of computing. It’s just boring and you sit for a long time watching percentages very slowly going up, finding the latest version of whatever software you used to use and you try to install like you did, but for some reason, this time is doesn’t want to install.

Some stuff has disappeared entirely and you realize you really don’t remember most of your passwords. Consider the possibility of getting one of the pieces of software that saves your passwords … but what if something happens and IT goes missing — taking all your passwords with it? Don’t tell me it can’t happen. It definitely can, has, and will again in the future.

I am adding this because it proves that I ALMOST have my photography stuff working. Almost. Not quite.

It turns out, the policeman with whom I was speaking got hacked too and his computer is in the same lock down mine was in. Lucky guy, because I know how to fix it. It is very easy, insanely boring and takes FOREVER. No hard choices to make and no requirements of knowing anything about computers. Mostly what you need is endless patience.

I told him. He was figuring he was going to have to go buy a new computer, so maybe I saved him a thousand dollars or so. It felt good to know something useful to someone else.

There’s a lot of this going around and there will always be more to come. I pointed out that Charter, our Uxbridge cable company (we don’t get a choice, someone made a deal and we live with it) has a firewall which — in theory — should have stopped this. But Adobe was hacked. Experion was hacked. Bank of America was hacked.

Given one thing or another expecting Charter to protect us was stupid, but I wasn’t thinking about getting hacked. Viruses and worms — but HACKING? Seriously? Me?

Just because I could do it!

I was afraid of viruses and worms, but not hacking. Why would anyone bother to hack me? We have no money and we are no one special.

Apparently this is a totally random venture. Because no matter who you are, these rat bastards can try to squeeze a little money out of you.

All my credit cards are fraud-protected. I lost nothing. They were also on the ball. Amazon and Walmart stopped the crooks before I knew they were there, while we were at the hospital. Which was when most of this was going on. I’m not sure if my being home would have made a difference. I wasn’t, so it doesn’t matter.

I promised the people at PayPal that I’d go to the police and report it because, she says, they collect the data and it’s important if we want to ever get rid of these rats.

They really ARE rats.

HACKED – Marilyn Armstrong

Isn’t it fortunate I got a second computer!

It turns out this hacking thing is a big deal and it was all over the TV news tonight. They are hacking routers. Apparently, if you reboot your router (unplug or turn it off — wait 20 seconds — turn it back on or plug it back in) will help, but you need a patch from your manufacturer. Which I can’t get because my aging router, bought in 2015 (!) is no longer supported, though it is still for sale on Amazon. Very popular, too.

So to get my computer back, I burned it down. Fry baby fry.

Deleted everything on both drives, added a new version of Windows 10 and now I’m reconstructing it. I kind of forgot what an empty computer looks like.

No documents. No pictures. No application. Nothing at all.

It’s alarming. It took me two tries to get it to “take,” so I’ve been on the phone or the computer pretty much all day yesterday and today. I haven’t been writing or editing photographs. I’ve been figuring out WHO the hackers are — the same groups in India that are sponsored by the Russians and gave us good old DJT, our worst ever president (though to be fair, there have been other stinkers).

This set of hackers are dark web kiddos. Wow. Amazingly, they got nothing. Not a thing. Not a dime. I have been massively inconvenienced, but it didn’t cost me any money and I am extremely lucky. I had to cancel a credit card, create ALL new passwords for anything that mattered.

My brain is spinning. I restored 70,000 pictures to the hard drive and I have to restore documents, but these are all old documents and can really live in the external drives.

Bonnie guarding my computer

I’m sure everyone who has ever been hacked has asked the big question: Why me? There is no answer. People get their identities stolen every day. Credit cards are frequently hacked. This is not even unusual. I suppose what made it unusual was that I am so careful, I didn’t expect it.

Although I’ve restored pictures to my computer, it’s midnight and I’m tired. It’s going to take me a few days get a grip on things again, so I’m probably going to comment when I can, respond as best I can manage, but this has put a big hole in my life.

You have no idea how glad I am that I had my photographs and documents backed up on external hard drives. If I had been using all “clouds,” I’m not sure I could have restored things they way I have. Mind you, I’m not done. There’s a lot of software I still need to download including OpenOffice.

That’s for tomorrow. I’m glad I have my computer back. I wasn’t sure how this would go. It could have been much worse — and this was bad enough.

Reboot your routers, folks. Actually, it’s probably a good idea to do that every day or so. On principle.

WE ARE ARCHAIC – AND I’VE BEEN HACKED – Marilyn Armstrong

ARCHAIC

We were the hot new writers that got WordPress ‘on the board’ back in their early days, but we are old now and they want something different. More money. A lot more money. Apparently the profits they are making are insufficient to keep them rolling along, so pretty much everything that made them special is being trashed in favor of getting more people to buy expensive — very expensive — business accounts.

Since most of us are NOT businesses, we can’t possibly afford the price and for a writer or photographer, the offering is meaningless. If you aren’t selling a product, you simply don’t need what they are selling. And since they aren’t offering it “piecemeal,” it’s impossible. So at the end of this month, there will be no daily post, no weekly photo challenge, no other challenges. None.

That was the second worst news of yesterday. The top news of the day was I got hacked. Not infected with a virus, but actually hacked, like big companies. Which is pretty weird since this isn’t a company, big or little and we don’t have any money. What we do have and what they are after, are credit cards. I have been very cautious about adding cards to services. That’s the plus. And they didn’t get anything money from me, though they tried. Amazon spotted them and closed me down immediately as did PayPal. Walmart took a lot longer, but ultimately got it done.

The problem was not solved on my computer, so lurking beneath the surface of my computer is a massive porn site in Nigeria and under the pornography is a bunch of hackers from the dark web.

Whoa! The dark web? Seriously? Me? Why me?

I’m sure everyone who has ever been hacked has asked that question while pointing their lonely face at the virtual sky.

The answer is I don’t know. I’m sure that Microsoft knows and so does Dell, because the only way I realized I had been hacked was that they called ME. These guys are on their “hot list” of dangerous hackers, so now I’m listed on the “dangerous hackers” site too.

My accounts are closed and the only serious problem for me is that this includes Kindle books and Audible. I don’t have a password at Amazon and won’t until I call them and tell them it’s safe.

That’s the bad news. The better news is that I back up my stuff. Pictures and documents are all backed up to external hard drives. NOT clouds because if they were clouded, I might not be able to even get to them. The less good news is that my PC is closed down — off — and that’s where all my photography and processing software lives. So making pictures is going to be difficult until I get my other computer back.

The better news is that Garry and his ears are ready to move on to the electric Borg cycle in his hearing epic. We are waiting for the doctor’s scheduler to call. Sometime in July, probably. We’ll know more soon.

Overall, it hasn’t been one of my better weeks. I’m trying to not get too depressed — and not quite succeeding. It has been a week of losses and discovering no matter how careful you are, you are vulnerable. The bad guys are out there and you are the target. It isn’t because of who you are or anything special. They are looking to steal your credit card information and they have some amazing tools with which to do it.

Back up your stuff externally on hard drives you own — and be extremely careful about leaving credit card information in your online accounts.

Then hope for the best.

Just one picture today because it’s the only one I’ve got at the moment. Everything else is on hard drives that don’t interact well with this Mac … or on the other, off-line computer.

Great day in the morning, my friend. GREAT day.

GUILTY – BUT WAS I CHARGED? Marilyn Armstrong

BROUGHT UP GUILTY

To be brought up Jewish is to be brought up guilty. I think Catholics have a similar problem. We are guilty of different things, however. Catholics have the whole “sin” thing to deal with. Jews get to be guilty about all of Our People who were slaughtered in various parts of the world because they were Jews in the wrong country at the wrong political period.

Hofstra University 2014

Often, for us, there was no right period. Until relatively modern times — minus Nazi Germany, of course — Jews were anathema to most Christian monarchies.

And all the countries were monarchies. We did our best for the long years under Islāmic rule. They were fine with Jews as long as we didn’t tread on their religious sensibilities and tiptoeing through other religious ideologies is a very Jewish thing. We got lots of practice.

When I married my first husband, he had no religion. I mean literally none. They didn’t attend any church and I doubt anyone had ever been baptized. Jeff thought he might be a Druid and planned to return as an oak tree. I was a non-practicing Jew. So we got married by a minister that his mother remembered had buried some family member.

We didn’t have a real wedding. No church or synagogue. No wedding gown. Just a little get together with a minister (Methodist, I think) and a few friends. A couple of weeks later, my mother had a reception at their house, which was nice because it was casual. We didn’t need fancy invitations. After which, we got on with the business of being married.

Our house in Baka, in Jerusalem

So, when Owen was about to be born, we had to figure out what to do about religion. We didn’t have any and neither of us were believers in dogma. I had a friend who was also a rabbi and he said he was not a believer in pediatric Judaism.

Neither were we, so we just didn’t do anything … except we had Owen circumcised which gave him a whole set of Jewish godparents … then we had him Baptized and Garry became his godfather. And that is why Owen’s middle name is Garry.

The Dead Sea

When Jeff and I divorced and I took Owen to Israel, it seemed a good time for him to be Jewish, so he had a Bar Mitzvah there, at the only Reform synagogue in Jerusalem.

He got a 6-year dose of Jewish guilt, but then he went back to the U.S. and forgot all about religion.

I got to keep the guilt. He got to be American.

Summer afternoon on the Mumford

Guilt can be a mother’s best weapon to manage recalcitrant children, by the way. Owen may not remember much Judaism, but he sure does remember guilt. Not bad at using it himself, now that I think of it.

AWKWARD CAN BE CUTE IN A KLUTZY WAY, RIGHT? – Marilyn Armstrong

Awkward?

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Me walking anywhere. More like limping. Me, trying to clamber into the bathtub and hoping, praying, I’m not going to fall down in the process.  Awkward is anytime I have to go upstairs. Worse, slowly and awkwardly going down. I rarely fear falling upward, but I’m always sure I’m going to fall down.

My days of grace have wandered far into the distance. Not that I was ever really graceful, even way back in the days of youth. I always felt like my feet were about to get tangled together and down I’d go. About the most graceful I ever felt was on horseback!

Now, I’m glad if I can get anywhere and not fall on my face doing it! Some of us are just born that way.

MISCELLANY OF ODDBALL PHOTOS FOR CEE’S CHALLENGE – Marilyn & Garry Armstrong

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge

With a mere hint of Narcissism

I was reading through Rich’s story of ye olde days of vinyl records and remembering when we had probably a thousand pounds of them — between all of mine and all of Garry through 30 or more years of collecting — and how getting rid of them was really easy after they were all soaked when the basement flooded.

As for narcissism? Regard this and ponder the word and its meaning:

As I was remember fancy sound systems with speakers all of the room so you’d get the sound “just right” — if you sat right in the middle of the room which was pretty much impossible because there was inevitably a table or something else already in the middle of the room.

While thinking about this, what should pop out of the bottom drawer of my night table, but …

One Sony Walkman

I was pondering whether I should call a  museum and see if I could get a few bucks for it … and whether or not it might work, assuming there wasn’t an exploded battery inside it. I had to take a picture of it anyway. I mean — who has an almost perfect Sony Walkman anymore? I remember when this was THE device to have. Before cell phones and a thousand versions of listening thingies, this was the one to have. Now, they are trash. So goes the world.

And then, Garry found this one. What is most interesting is the question: you mean, we have water slides in Uxbridge? Where?

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Waterslides?

I also took a picture of what has to be the very last cactus flower.

Finally, the very last Christmas Cactus flower

On one of the many long rainy days of the past couple of months, a wistful picture of the Duke, looking out the window into the gloppy, muddy yard.

Duke on a rainy day

And finally, a laboring gardener, optimistically assuming that we are going to have a summer … if it stops raining. Any day now …

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Happy Sunday. Since I started writing this, we have had rain and sun, rain and sun. Right now, sunny … but I see the clouds coming back so soon? Who knows?