Fandango’s Provocative Question #75 – CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS

Have you ever committed a crime? If yes, tell us about it to the extent you feel comfortable doing so. If not, is there a crime you might like to commit (i.e., fantasized about committing) if you knew in advance that you’d never be caught or prosecuted for it?

Some of the police are trying to remain under cover.

Can I be arrested for thinking? All through this pandemic, watching our world crumble, the economy collapse, and so many good people dying … and you wonder why the really evil ones are still doing fine.What happened to Karma? Are those people really demons and thus immune to the diseases of humanity.

I have committed no crime, but some days, I really, really, REALLY want to. I’m sure I’d feel fine about it and probably, so would you.


NARY A RIPPLE – Marilyn Armstrong


“With nary a ripple” signals ultimate peace. No waves, no white water. Just the smooth glassiness of water and it’s reflection of sky, clouds, and the trees along the bank. And maybe the reflection of the geese or swan that float silently along the water.

TIME OUT? IS IT PERMANENT? – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #74

From Fandango:

Most states in the U.S. are loosening restrictions put in place three months ago in order to “flatten the curve” and to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Many countries around the world are doing the same thing. Yet new cases of the virus are continuing to climb.

So, my provocative question to you this week is this:

I haven’t been anywhere off our property — except the hospital in 3 months and as far as I can tell, it’s going to stay more or less the same. We weren’t very sociable before COVID, so the restrictions haven’t been terribly restrictive for us. I would like to see some friends alive and in person and I keep hoping that we may yet see them.

Regardless, life won’t change a lot. We’ll continue to be careful until there’s some kind of substantial protection available.

I would like to go somewhere other than a doctor’s office, but I don’t see our lives changing much.



Rescue us from aging, mental exhaustion, and this dreadful government.

If you didn’t vote last time, remember how it worked out. Please please, save the world and vote this time. Even if the candidate isn’t perfect, he’s better than what we’ve got. A LOT better. And you can talk to him. He is capable of learning new things, even at his age. My husband is a year older and he is still learning new things — and discovering old things.

Rescue our planet so that we know our great grandchildren — ours or yours or anyone’s — will have a home.

Headless Catbird

Bring back Autumn and winter. Give me golden autumn leaves and fiery red sugar maples. Even if we have to plow the driveway, I’ll take it!

Give us health. Healthcare is wonderful for the old, but even better for the young. Let young people grow up without so many of the issues that plague us because we couldn’t afford to get them properly fixed.

And please — rain for a few hours tonight. That 2-gallon watering can is HEAVY!



The area in which we live is definitely rural, but I never considered it wilderness until suddenly, after 20 years of receiving packages from every known delivery service, we can’t be found. We have disappeared.

We get notes saying a post office package was “undeliverable.” Undeliverable? It’s not raining or snowing. There are no civil protests or traffic jams. No massive reconstruction projects. Personally, I think they didn’t even try to deliver to us. What happened to the packages? In the last two weeks, almost $600 of Amazon deliveries have had to be refunded to us and the same items ordered elsewhere.

I’m sure this means something, but what? Have our roads been deleted from maps and GPS’s? Has Uxbridge been banned from Mapquest?


I grant you that we live surrounded by woods. We certainly have a good deal of wildlife. Critters include fishers, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, flying squirrels, deer, skunk, chipmunks, coyotes, and foxes. In the air we have eagles, hawks, woodpeckers and every sort of garden bird. In nearby waters we have ducks, geese, herons, and divers — and some of the biggest snapping turtles you’ve ever seen. Nonetheless, these creatures are not crowding our highways or driveway. They live in the woods and unless you have feeders, they have no interest in you.

Oh look! I found a few seeds!

We have paved roads. Even a traffic light! We have a grocery, a couple of banks, hairdressers, and a really big lumber yard. Until recently, all of these made us a town that was still on the map. We aren’t huge, but we are not wilderness. In this same Blackstone Valley we have probably a dozen small towns, fire houses (with fire trucks, too!).

We have police (not many, but enough). We have post offices and drop-off and delivery areas for UPS and Fedex. You can get your nails done — or you could have, back in the “old days” before March 2020 — or get a tattoo. There were two dry-cleaners and a floor installer and TWO places that framed pictures.

Yet still, no one can find us.

It’s amazing after living here for 20 years and getting daily deliveries that suddenly, we don’t exist. A bit startling, too.


Fandango’s Provocative Question #73

It’s time for a little creative thinking. Here’s the setup from Fandango:

You’ve heard of extra sensory perception, right? You know, ESP. There are three forms of ESP.

  1. Telepathy — the transfer of information from one person to another without the use of sensory communication.
  2. Clairvoyance — the acquisition of information about places, people, or events without the use of normal sensory contact.
  3. Precognition — the acquisition of information about a future event that could not be anticipated through any known processes of inference.

So my question to you this week is:

Having had several significant run-ins with things that aren’t supposed to happen, none of which are described in Fandango’s lead up. Because there’s also voices you hear that are from “somewhere else” — not someone else living in your head but messages from … where? 

Twice I was dying. The first time, I was offered the option of dying or continuing to live, even though living would be hard and painful. The second time, I was told that I was going to live, even though no one thought I could since I’d been dying for days with all the appropriate symptoms: massive sepsis, fever, and multiple surgeries all of which were supposed to repair me, but didn’t. But having been told I would live, the next morning, I was fine. Fever and infection gone and I went home that  same day.

That doesn’t happen. It really doesn’t. I have never been sure what to make of both of these incidents and a number of others which probably fall into the “precognition” grouping. I knew, for example, when my first husband died, even though I was 300 miles away. I just knew. And check around. Many people who are not religious in any way have had such experiences.

I woke up one morning knowing that a helicopter had exploded and there had been a crash in New Hampshire. About an hour later, the phone rang and Garry was on the case. How did I hear that news and more to the point, why? I didn’t know the pilot, the helicopter, or anything about it at all. For some obscure reason, the story came to me. The knowledge that someone I had loved had died made some kind of sense. There was a connection there and it happens to a lot of people.

But both of those visions gave me a life I was sure was ending. These were not dreams. Dreams float away when morning breaks. These are as alive and as sharp today as they were when they happened.

What — if anything — does this have to do with religion? I do not know. I’m not sure it has anything to do with an “official” dogma.

As to the picking up of subtle signals? Absolutely. It’s why, when I “read” for someone, I preferred to do the original assessment and reading without having met the individual. I didn’t want to be influenced by what I saw or felt. I also quit reading for people. I kept finding out stuff I didn’t want (or need) to know.

I think we are all intuitive. Some of us are more open to knowledge that isn’t written or broadcast? Dogs and cats are intuitive with their owners and each other. Why would we not be? Before there were words, I’m sure we knew about each other. I suspect that creating words was how we lost a lot of the intuition with which we were born.

Non-verbal creatures communicate surprisingly well. Watch them with each other. Put out birdseed and watch one bird make a single tweet that will tell every other feathered pal in the woods to come and get it. Ditto squirrels, flying and otherwise. They just know. .

Sometimes, I know, too.  I don’t know why or how, but I happens.

Finally, the morning of 9/11, one of my bosses had booked a flight out of Kennedy to LA. About an hour before he was due to go to the airport, he got a funny mental itch. He said: “I think I’m not getting on that plane. I’ll travel tomorrow maybe,” He canceled the flight and went on living because that was one of the two planes that hit the towers.

You are welcome to be as dismissive as you like, but stuff happens and you don’t always know why. You can’t box things up according to a predetermined set of rules. There are times when you gotta go with the flow, wherever it takes you.


Fandango’s Provocative Question #72

From Fandango:

Things are pretty screwed up right now. The world is still dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The United States now has had almost 1.9 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 108,000 have died due to the virus, far and away more cases and deaths than any other country.

There is significant civil unrest and there are massive protests in the streets all across our country over our inability to come to grips with America’s original sin of slavery and the social and political inequalities that continue to persist 150 years after slavery in America ended.

And the U.S. has a madman for its president who is threatening to deploy the American military against American citizens on American soil.

So for this week’s provocative question, I’m going to try to shift your focus from the depressing to the exciting by asking you this simple question:

Life is insane. I’m emotionally and mentally exhausted and I’m pretty sure so is everyone else. I think if I were 30 years younger, I might be excited and more involved, but I’ve gotten on in years and I don’t have that amount of energy. Not even after a good night’s sleep and I don’t think the energy is coming back in this lifetime.

I want to help more, but I have limits. So, I write. That’s probably what I do best anyway. I write about right and wrong. I try to explain at least some of the history that has brought us to this time and place. I’m glad to help explain how this exploding country didn’t “just happen” because of one or several recent incidents. It has been growing and intermittently exploding since the colonies became the United States.

The last time the rioting started, Garry and I were living in Roxbury, aka “The Bury” which is a Black neighborhood. It is becoming (gradually) more mixed. I was an early mixer. Since Garry had always been the one dark guy in white neighborhoods, I thought it was time for me to be the white one in a Black neighborhood. Our ten years in Roxbury were wonderful. It was a great place to live and if it weren’t for The Big Dig, we might still be there.

Where Main Street ends – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Right now, I’d rather be in this little town. We do not lack our share of nutters and wackos, but I doubt you could get enough people together in one location to have a riot. It’s just not that kind of town although if the water mains go down again, that might see some yelling and carrying-on. As to national events? Everything is too far away to feel relevant to most people here.

We are secluded, surrounded by trees, garden birds, squirrels, raccoons, and flying squirrels. Hawks, owls, and eagles. Bobcats, foxes, and coyotes as well as baby squirrels and chipmunks who look like snacks to the hawks, bobcats, foxes, and coyotes. That’s the way of nature. You can’t blame the predators for getting hungry any more than you can blame the squirrels for eating all the birdseed. It’s just the way it is.

So in the midst of turmoil and trying to survive COVID, I’m home. A lot. In the name of retaining sanity, I’m looking forward to the arrival of my canisters to hold the flour, and a pound of active dry yeast. After which I’m going to bake my way to mental peace.

It’s not exciting. Not world-shaking. No airports or major travel involved. Just warm, yeasty dough and a lot of flour. I’m looking forward to baking — and consuming — the world’s most expensive bread.


Fandango’s Provocative Question #71

From Fandango:

“You’re probably familiar with the old expression, “You’re only as old as you feel.” Or maybe you’ve been told by someone at some point to “act your age.” Or perhaps you, yourself, when asked your age, have said, “Age is just a number.”

Well, that brings me to this week’s provocative question(s).”

Right now, I feel like at least 112, going on 150. Some days, I feel as young as 90.

Really, I’m 73 and this part is all about my body. I’ve had cancer twice and lost both breasts. I had ulcers and lost my stomach. Twice. I had my spine fused when I was 19 and since then, my S-1 (that’s the very bottom of your vertebrae on which the rest of your vertebrae purportedly rest) broke. The L3-4-5 vertebrae were fused and while the fusions are functional, they aren’t sturdy.

My DIL asked me what I was going to do about it. I had no answer. There isn’t anything to do. I’ve already had surgery. No quality surgeon will go near it. The entire spine, top to bottom is calcified. I’m not happy about the further breakage at the base because it has further limited movement.

I took Melanie’s advice and got a cane. It’s unnecessary in the house, but I think it might be useful outside, especially on uneven ground. Buying it was my version of optimism since we aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. I’m hoping it will keep me from falling but given my ability to entangle myself in things, it might make it worse. I guess I’ll (eventually) find out.

But that’s all physical stuff. My brain is a whole different department. Aside from forgetting every third word in a given sentence, I’m pretty sharp. Under any other circumstances — like living in a nation with a proper government — I would say my brain hasn’t passed 40 yet, but since Trumpy-Door took office, I feel a lot older. I feel mentally tired like I’ve run a marathon only to discover that I’ve got another to run.

This isn’t going to be a relaxed retirement. This isn’t going to be chilling out into old age, enjoying the little things and each other. Financial stressors, worries about Garry as his age begins to slow him down. And wondering how my son will manage as he ages.

I’m confused, too. I thought we’d begun to make progress as I was going from child to woman and from woman to crone.

The Ancient Crone

by Anya Silverman – “The Crones Counsel, Celebrating Wise Women”:

ancient-croneThe mythological Crone comes to us from the mists of ancient times in the part of the world we now know as the Middle East, Greece, and the Balkans. Many people now believe that in the Paleolithic era (c.30,000 – 10,000 BCE) the goddess was revered as one all-encompassing mother goddess who controlled birth, death, and rebirth. As patriarchy began to arise after c.7000 BCE, this concept began to change as women themselves became increasingly under the dominion of men. The one mother goddess image was split into three aspects reflecting the stages of women’s lives – maiden, mother, and crone. The crone goddess represented the older woman aspect of a woman’s life.”


When I was in my 20s, we had friends who were in their fifties. I asked them how — and when — they knew they had grown up. They said they would let me know when they figured it out.

I don’t know when it happened, but sometime during the past 20 years, I grew up. I am adulterated.

What age am I? Old, cynical, skeptical, and sad. A crone with a negative attitude and just a hint of optimism, safely stored in a closet.


I’m not done, butI’m slowing down. It’s hard to move, difficult to get up in the morning. or fall asleep at night. I’d love to be around long enough to see the world moving forward and fixing the things wrong with it, but I don’t know that I have enough time. This isn’t going to be an overnight fix.

There is so much that needs to be done. I would like to be a part of it.

ARE YOU A SUPERHERO? – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #69

So this is what Fandango had to say:

There’s a lot of heavy shit that is going on these days, so I thought I’d go with something lightweight this week. A softball provocative question. Something you might have some fun with.

I came up with this week’s question after Marilyn Armstrong asked this question in one of her recent posts.“Have you watched any superhero movies? Don’t you wish we had some real ones?”

My question this week is a variation on Marilyn’s. My question is:

I think I’m running low on super anything this week. I do some stuff well. I’m pretty good at writing, taking pictures, and organizing life as we used to know it. The problem is that all the things I used to do seem to be off the boards and I don’t know if they will ever come back.

That’s why I wanted a superhero invented by superhero master inventors. I want the Green Lantern and his buddies to fly down and save our planet from the evil madman who is destroying it and us.

What CAN I do, other than vote? I can write when I feel I have something to say that no one else has said a thousand times before. I don’t know how we are going to get even the simplest things done, but I suppose I’ll figure them out.

Maybe that is my super-power. Somehow, someway, I figure it out, whatever it is. I figure out things I don’t know anything about, never studied. I’m a good student. When I want to know something, if there’s any way to find out about it, I’ll do it. And I’ll keep hunting down the information until I know everything I can find.

So around here, when someone can’t figure out something, they ask me. But if it needs height or strength or mechanical ability, it’s definitely my son. If it has anything to do with movies, that’s absolutely a Garry. Also, all news and current events that have occurred during the past 55 years.

That being said, I really want the Green Lantern and his crew. Maybe they’d find a way to fix everything. What worries me is that I’m not sure there is anyone anywhere who can fix what’s wrong with the world in 2020.

PROVOCATIVE QUESTION #68 – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #68

What Fandango had to say about this:

“As I write this, the United States has had more than 1.23 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 72,000 deaths. According to the latest projections from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), by early August, the American death toll is likely to exceed 134,000. And that’s a conservative projection.”


“Yet despite these very disturbing projections, many states are “opening back up for business,” even though most medical professionals and scientists have noted that the case and death rate will likely shoot up as a result.

This seems to be fine with our president, who is encouraging states and businesses to reopen. Trump admitted that it is “possible” that many more Americans will die as stay-at-home orders are lifted. He told reporters that some people would be affected badly, “but we have to get our country open, and we have to get it open soon.”

And even though the rate of infection shows no sign of slowing, Vice President Pence told reporters yesterday that the federal government’s coronavirus task force could be dismantled in the next month because “of the tremendous progress we’ve made as a country.”

The question is:

I think Fandango answered his own question. The reality is, except for those crazies who follow Trump, most people aren’t going anywhere if they have a choice. Especially people our age. We weren’t all that sociable anyway and if the weather gets livable, I’m sure we’ll take little sojourns to parks where we can take pictures without interacting with others.

More than 28 states are not only failing to level but are in fact exploding with COVID 19. Republicans thought the virus wouldn’t cross into their states, that this was somehow a Democratic disease.

Viruses are about as apolitical as anything could possibly be. It isn’t alive and has no brain. Nature gave it just one function:


That’s it. It will keep multiplying until enough people are resistant to it, dead, or there’s a viable vaccine. Of course, if they keep the vaccine the same way they have managed testing, it could take a decade to get everyone vaccinated. Or longer. But by then, I figure we can assume Trump will have gone away. Far, far away.

Soon Fox viewers will believe that there wasn’t really a pandemic. It was a hoax. Trump has said he will hide the numbers so we don’t know how many people are dead. Does that mean people will fail to notice the people who’ve gone missing? No more grandpa or grandma. Where are the aunts and uncles? And why are all the businesses on Main Street closed?

Even the stupidest of the stupid are not going to be convinced that “nothing happened.” They may be confused about the details, but something definitely, absolutely, 100% happened. Whether it is going to happen to you is an issue with which each of us must grapple.

As for me, I’m going to be very careful and wary with where I go and with whom I interact.


Blogging Insights — What’s Next?

Here are the original questions:


What suggestions / tipsdo you have for improving/upgrading this series?Do you have any questions that you would like me to feature?

If you are new to the Blogging Insights series, how about trying out some of the questions?There is no time limit so feel free to answer any whenever you please. 

Remember to tag your post #blogging insightsand also linkback to my blog. This will make sure that I do not miss out on reading your views and will also enable me to share your posts on my blog. You can check out the previous questions by clicking on the links below:

I’ve been following this series through other blogs. It pops up pretty often. I think you are doing just fine. I don’t want to put ideas in your head because I think your ideas are good and your own creativity will find the right way.

Seven orchids on a shoot

Blogging isn’t just something we do because we have nothing more interesting to do. And we each have our own reasons, often many different reasons. It’s a hobby, an avocation, a dedication, an art form, a post-occupation-occupation — all at the same time.

That’s probably why we like to ask each other about blogging and why you do it which makes me think about why I do it. For those of us who are retired, it has become our new occupation after giving up whatever it is we used to do. Since before this, I was a writer, I am now truly enjoying this busman’s holiday.

Three on the yellow feeder

I started out doing this because I had a ton of pictures and no one ever saw them because they were all on my computer. I figured what the heck, I might as well publish them where others might enjoy them. It became a good reason for spending way too much money on cameras and lenses and the urge for better and better cameras and lenses and processing software never ends.

In this age of Trump and the crushing of everything I believed in, not to mention the eruption of our very own plague, I’ve felt that I need to not just post pretty pictures, but talk about the world. Climate change. Oppression. Racism. The hatred that seems to bind us tighter than love ever could.

I keep hearing that all we need is love, but that’s a song lyric, not a meaningful way of life. We need a lot more than love. We certainly can love people who aren’t our personal family or friends a lot more than we do, but that’s not going to fix the ozone layer or bring back the dying creatures our “development” of the wild places have killed. I fear that in the end, this world will be entirely paved over with roads running from an empty mall to another empty mall.

And if that isn’t scary enough, we need to get serious about figuring out how we can support all these PEOPLE. We are so over-populated, it’s terrifying. You know when you crowd the rats this much, they start to try to kill each other. Periodically Garry and I congratulate each other on having the sense to get OUT of Boston. With all the limitations of living in the middle of nowhere, it’s a whole lot easier on the nervous system than any city anywhere.

Today I write as much because I think there are important issues that need to be talked about. It’s not just about trashing the president. He’ll be gone soon enough. But clearly, we need to hate less and care more. The world has become ugly and greedy. For there to be subsequent generations of humans, we need to be a lot less ugly and massively less greedy. So I figure I have a small, but living bully pulpit and I might as well use it. And I can still post pretty pictures. I wouldn’t want to stress everyone out.

So for me, what’s next is to do the best I can do. Write, create pictures, count the flying squirrels, and hope I can keep affording food for the creatures of the woods.

GLOBE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Globe

As it happened, I recently bought a globe. It lights up from inside, so I also use it as a soft lamp om the side table. I also love hearing the name of a country and finding it on the globe.

Globes have a lot more information on them than the location and names of places. This one shows the path explorers used. Not just the explorers of the Americas, but those who explored Asia and Australia. Magellan’s journey is really interesting. It’s hard to believe that a small wooden ship took such an incredible journey.

Here’s my globe. Someday, I’d love to get a better one with raised areas for mountains. Preferably a real antique. This one is a fake antique.

China, East Asia, Australia, and New Zealand


The Americas

Mostly South America and a bit of North America


Fandango’s Provocative Question #65

A very relevant question this time.

To a large degree, I’ve already answered this question in a couple of posts, as has Tom Curley. It’s certainly a question we have all asked each other. Meanwhile, our president is not merely a moron. He is a murderer. Thank the heavens that we have governors who seem to actually care about the people who live in their states.

The question is:

First, yes, we are living in a locked-down state. Massachusetts is just beginning to surge. Here in Worcester County, we have no tests. When Owen asked his doctor if he could get a test, she just laughed.

We have no way to figure out who has it, or who already had it. The only place there is testing is in Boston and we aren’t there. Out here, we have no tests, no grocery delivery, and empty shelves in the grocery because all the deliveries go to Boston and almost nothing comes out this way.

May 1st is just two weeks away. Since we have no tests or a vaccine, essentially if Garry and I were to take Coronahead seriously, we’d likely be dead in a couple of weeks. The reality is that until most of us have been tested and a vaccine has been authorized — and enough people have been vaccinated to limit the potential spread of the disease — we aren’t going anywhere.

Why not? Well, let’s see. Garry is 78 and by age alone is highly vulnerable. I’m a mere 73, but I’ve got asthma and have had major heart surgery, which makes me super vulnerable. Or, to put it another way, our doctor said (and I quote): “You and your husband are not going anywhere. Nowhere. You get this disease and you are both dead. So you aren’t going anywhere!”

We haven’t gone anywhere nor have we plans to go anywhere. For me, until most people have been tested and we know who was sick and who is sick, we can’t even think about it.

How are we going to handle a presidential election? Are they going to send us paper ballots that we can mail? Probably in Massachusetts and New York, but there are a lot of states that might not. In those states, the people who are most likely to vote — senior citizens — won’t go anywhere near a polling place.

Everything the president has said is a lie. A big lie or a gigantic lie. The millions of tests we are supposed to have never arrived, The drive-through test sites? There is one in the entire state and I’m betting most states have none. We don’t know how many sick people there are in many states because they’ve done no testing on anyone.

So when are we going to feel safe going out?

When there are tests and we know who is or was sick and there’s a vaccine. And most people have been vaccinated. That could be months away. Maybe a year away. This could be a very long siege.

SHIP’S AHOY? – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Ship

What could I do with this that doesn’t require I start writing? Oh, I know. How about pictures of ships. I have a fair number of them.

I tend to love anything on the water. in, or near water. I love watching the tide and breakers. I used to love swimming. I was never exactly an Olympic swimmer, but I could do a sidestroke forever and I don’t even know how long I can tread water.

Lines and sheets and ropes and sails on one of the original Tea party ships on Boston’s wharf

The purple and pink side of the sunset sky

Fishing boats in Gloucester