MISS MANNERS HERE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Good Morning, Miss Manners

I am 72 years old and I still don’t know which side of the plate one puts forks versus spoons and knives. My son knows because his father taught him, but in my house, my mother — who hated cooking and refused to spend money on paper napkins (she used tissues which stuck to your fingers – yuk!) — basically threw eating implements on the table. We had no manners at all and whatever I’ve learned since childhood is at least good enough to get me through most dinners without everyone staring at me and giggling.

Manners tend to be species oriented. My dogs are very neat and always eat all the stuff they drop on the floor. Birds and squirrels too. None of them worry about where to put the forks and spoons.

On the other hand, I’m pretty persnickety about verbal manners, as in being polite, civil, and not shouting except with enthusiasm. Funny how different we can be about the same thing in different places, isn’t it?

It’s just that being a klutz at dinner will embarrass you, but being an uncivilized nasty asshole — you know, like our President — hurts a lot of other people. I’m not in favor of hurting people’s feelings unless they’ve really gotten under my skin. And it’s not easy to get that far under my skin. In the physical presence of others, I try really hard to be kind and polite. I even try to do it when writing, though I think I’m better in person. Wit can be hurtful and when I write, I too often go for “wit” when maybe I shouldn’t.

The trees are wearing their best manners today too. Our maple tree has a bunch of red leaves on it this afternoon which weren’t there yesterday. If not for the incoming storm, I think another week and the trees would be stunning and definitely better than civil. Downright glorious!

Tell me I’m not the only one who can’t set a table properly, please. I always feel like a total dunce when I’m trying to make the table look “fancy.”

THAT POOR HORSE! – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Jaded

A poor tired horse looks jaded. That’s the origin of the word. It has come to mean “worn out” or “bored with everything.”

Lately, it also means fed up. Exhausted. Too much news, too much hassle, too much of everything.

I’m jaded with the news, jaded with the tragedies we seem to promote and then deny. It used to be that when you got like “this,” you could flee to some deserted part of the world. An empty beach on a warm sea or ocean maybe. But where is there a deserted anything anymore? Is there anywhere to go where you don’t get the news? Short of going back to live in a dark cave which, I admit, isn’t awfully attractive, I’m not sure there’s anyway “out” for anyone.

We live in a world where privacy and peace are banished. Between social media and more television channels, radio stations, and Alexa, there’s no escaping.

Phones

It’s why I loathe mobile phones. Who needs to be in constant touch with everything and everyone? Don’t we get to have a little quiet time or is that forbidden?

This morning I saw a new SimpleHuman invention: Alexa linked faucets for your sink. you can make your kitchen sing from anywhere in the house and if that’s not enough, you can adjust the sound levels at your bathroom mirror while your electronic toilet device measures your output.

The toilet? The sink? The mirror? All of them will all give you the news, too. It somehow fits that the toilet will give you news. That’s pretty much where it’s coming from anyhow.


“Hey, Alexa? Tell the toilet to give me the news. Then, when it’s done, please flush!”

FLIPPER WAS FLIPPANT – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Flippant

I am one of those animal weepers that cry at anything when an animal gets hurt, dies, or is just so cute I can’t stand it. I’m pretty sure I was the only woman who cried while watching Flipper. Each time he clapped those flappers I shed a few tears. Little did I know that those tears were not wasted.

Flipper and friends

My birds are back. The big birds have returned. There are some big gray birds with white stomachs that almost look like “generic” birds, but some have a hint of pink or red on their stomachs, so maybe they are off mating season robins?

We haven’t had many robins since Monsanto told everyone to poison the weeds — and thus kill all the robins. We used to have flocks of robins. They were probably our most common birds. Maybe ten years back, we had a plague of grubs in the front yard. One morning, about 100 robins came by. They ate every last grub. It took them two full days, but they were the fattest, happiest robins ever.

Ready to go!

The next year, Mr. Poison sprayed his weeds and the two sets of robins nesting on our back porch fell over their bright blue eggs and died.

Since then, there are been very few robins. Monsanto has a LOT to answer for. Now their midwestern storage tanks are exploding and the local people are saying, “Monsanto says we shouldn’t worry but the air is nearly black and everything is covered in slimy soot.” They are definitely worried.

We aren’t learning much and we sure aren’t learning fast.

Sea lions at the Central Park Zoo, New York

I’d rather think about Flippant Flipper on television or the charming sea lions at the Central Park Zoo. They had a big beach ball and they bounced it out into the audience — and there was always an audience for the sea lions.

We’d all scurry to get the ball and throw it back. Kind of the reverse of playing ball with your pup.

SO WHY DON’T I HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY? – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Verbose

So this morning, when Bonnie went into her barkathon, I knew one more night of no sleep was going to knock me off the ledge into a deep, pit. I would be in a coma from which I’d never wake up. Garry actually got up and went to sleep in the living room and I got to sleep.

I’m really grateful. I also feel guilty, but I don’t feel like I’m falling apart. It’s the first time in weeks I haven’t felt on the edge of collapse. Most of my parts don’t hurt (much) either. Golly whizzaker!

But I also don’t have anything to say. I’m all spoke out. I’ve been chatting it up for weeks and months and years and I don’t seem — at least for now — to have any chat left. I’m sure it will come back, but right now, I’m SO happy to be sitting here, coffee on the left, Garry on the right, dogs soundly asleep on the sofa.

Why can’t they do that in the morning when I’m trying to sleep? Is this one of those Murphy Laws?

Have a great day! I’ll be fully ready to chat tomorrow. Or maybe the next day. Hard to tell.

TAKE YOUR UMBRAGE ON THE ROAD – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Umbrage

I always wanted to take an Umbrage. I wanted one in British Racing Green with a 5 on the floor.

That way when anyone said “I take umbrage at that,” I could respond by saying, “Hey, my umbrage is parked right out front. Let’s take a drive!”

No? Why not?

HOW MANY MAGNANIMOUSES MAKE UP A CONFUSION? – Marilyn Armstrong

Magnanimous but Confused

It is a beautiful day. Cool, comfortable, with a shining sun and no rain predicted. It doesn’t mean it won’t rain. It just means it’s less likely to rain than if they had predicted rain and anyway, it’s less like to rain as hard as it might if they had assured us by email and television that rain was coming.

Nuthatch

Basically, rain is always coming. The only issue is when it is coming and how hard it’s coming and how muddy the dogs will get.

Hairy Woodpecker

The birds really love the rain. Or maybe they don’t like hunting for food in the rain, so they love our feeders in the rain? Last night, by the time we got home, it was nearly dark, but there must have been a dozen birds squabbling over who should get the best seed.

Chickadee

I pointed out to them that the seeds were essentially all the same because they all came from the same big bag of black sunflower seeds mixed with shell and hull free food. I’m still trying really hard to find ways to have birds and not have as big a mess to clean up.

There were maybe two dozen birds all in a flying battle for seeds this morning. I still don’t recognize one of them. I think it’s a female and it’s mostly beige and brown with nothing particularly obvious in its design. The Hairy Woodpecker came back and as soon as he left, the Downy Woodpecker came by. There were half a dozen Nuthatches, something red (House Finch?) and a big Cardinal. He was there last night, too. And the usual woodpeckers.

Downy Woodpecker

I took pictures. I haven’t looked at them yet because I’ve been reading, commenting and drinking coffee, but they are up next. I haven’t quite gotten my sharp fix on the birdies yet. Need more practice.

Days like this leave me feeling magnanimous because it’s so lovely, but very confused since it’s really a confused mess. I decided to magnanimously enjoy the chaos. With a camera.

Nuthatch

That’s how I know I’m getting better. I can actually lift up my camera with the big lens on it! Oh yay!

DEBUT OF THE CHICKADEES – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Debut

We hung the feeders on Sunday. By Monday, we had birds. Tufted Titmice and Chickadees and a few woodpeckers. Also some little ones I think are some sort of sparrow or finch. They are all rather beige now, it being winter coat season.

The birds are all shy now and fly away as soon as they see me by the window, but they will relax as the year moves along. Yesterday, I finally hoisted my rig onto my shoulder to take a few pictures of our Massachusetts State Birds, the Black-Throated Chickadees.

I know the birds are busy because the level of seed keeps dropping and I’m pretty sure when I put fresher food in the feeders, they will be even happier. This is the last food from last winter and it’s a bit stale.

Still wondering what to do about the squirrels. The suggestion is to put squirrel feeders at least 15 feet away from the bird feeders to distract them from the feeders — and some of the designs are hilarious and I’m sure the squirrels are pretty funny as they figure out how to get the corn out of the hole or the big jug or the roof flap.

The problem is that 15 feet from the bird feeders is the woods and once the snow falls, I can’t get to the woods. So I’d be able to feed them until December or thereabouts, but after that, I’d be snowed in and they will promptly take over the feeders.

Chickadee

They will do that anyway. I don’t see any reason why they should stop with their food and not move on to finishing the food in the feeders. Food is food is food.

They are such greedy guts!