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

Asia

The Americas

Mostly South America and a bit of North America

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

BUT THAT CAN’T BE RIGHT, CAN IT? – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #58

To put it most simply, I always thought that — socio and psychopaths aside — everyone has a conscience. Even after Trump was elected, I thought that Americans weren’t stupid enough to actually follow this moron.

I was wrong.

All the cynicism I decried in my mother has settled on me. Apparently many people don’t have even a shred of conscience. Those that might have a conscience are prepared to ignore it in the name of promulgating their personal agendas. It’s embarrassing. I feel I should apologize for being American, even though I didn’t vote for the guy and never would.

Can we regrow a backbone? Film at eleven.

AN ALLEGORY OF LIFE AND MORAL BREAKDOWN – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Allegory


I decided this morning that if our government doesn’t feel they need to obey laws, why should we? They have declared us as a non-government. They have no laws by which they need to abide, so why are we bothering?

Allegorical equality

Our president, good old mentally defective #45 doesn’t feel he owes us, the voters and citizens of this country, anything at all. Putting aside for the moment his obvious mental illness, stupidity, bigotry, viciousness, cruelty, and mean-spiritedness — he is a big bag of air, an empty nothingness.

Allegory of hatred and bigotry – By: Aleix-Pons

Allegorically speaking, we don’t have a government. If our purported leader can do anything he wants, why can’t we? Why can’t we all do whatever we want, whenever we feel like it? We do we have to work? Or pay taxes? Why do we have to obey traffic laws? We can all carry guns and when we need something, we can just shove the gun in someone’s face and demand it. That’s what the prez does and I think he has set us a fine example of what the world he believes in.

If just one of us stops obeying laws, we’ll get busted.  But what if ALL of us — the entire body politic —  stopped obeying not one, but ALL laws? Stopped obeying even the most basic rules of common sense and civility? What if we all refused to send our children to school? Refused to stop for red lights and parked anywhere we felt like parking? We can all carry big guns so when we ran out of money or anything else, we can hold up the nearest store or bank. We’ll just take what we need, grab what we want, and when they try to arrest us, say “screw you” and shoot our way out.

Allegory of the Cave – Plato

They couldn’t catch all of us. After a while, I’m pretty sure they’d give up trying and take to chaos too. I bet the previous so-called police would be the best law-breakers of them all. They’ve got the training to do evil way better than me. Just wait until the military goes wild.

Do I really think this is a good idea? No. But that’s the example being set for us, so after a while, we have to begin to wonder “why not?” The wild west wasn’t nearly as wild as we could make today’s America.

So if you feel chaos and law-breaking is a good idea for Those People, it should be good for us too. That’s what allegory is all about, isn’t it? Or is that metaphor? So hard to be sure.

OFF ON A TANGENT – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Tangent

The tangent is a line that touches a curve or curved surface at a point, but if extended does not cross it. It’s also the line between the two arms of an equilateral triangle. How it came to also mean in common speech a completely different line of thought or action., or as we like to say, “a digression,” no one knows. I’m pretty sure most people have no idea what the word originally meant unless they are in fifth grade and learning the rudiments of geometry. I actually did very well in geometry — the only math course that didn’t lose me the first day in class. At least I could see what you might use it for. It was very useful when I was trying to measure the floor of my tepee.

A digression or tangent coming right up.

Tepees look round, but are more “egg-shaped.” It has to do with the positioning of poles. This is a bit of a measurement conundrum, so you have to visualize in segments and measure each, then add them together. You have to put a tepee on a deep layer of gravel to encourage drainage, but gravel is not comfortable. So one puts layers of coverings inside until it’s soft and cozy. I used an indoor-outdoor rug at the base and that piece needed to fit the tepee closely.

That is when everything I’d learned in geometry got used for the one and only time in my life, not counting sailing and figuring out how to configure the sail to the wind. One wet finger didn’t do it for me (second digression). Geometry let me figure out how big a rug I’d need before trimming. If you have enough money, you can buy all of this stuff, but we were shoe-stringing the project. Other than the canvas and instructions, it was a project of (for us) epic proportions.

More tepee construction

In a bigger tepee, (I would have liked a big one and could have gotten a huge one for free if I could acquire the poles), poles are not easy to come by. Buying them was not expensive, but trucking them across the U.S. from Washington to Massachusetts cost more than the entire project times five. Maybe more.

We don’t live in an area of lodge-pole pines. Our trees, while sturdy, are all whorls, kinks, and miscellaneous lumps. You don’t know how truly crooked a sapling is until you try to turn it into a lodge-pole. Moreover, for obvious reasons, the bigger the tepee, the bigger the poles need to be — and you also need a lot more poles. It was difficult enough finding 18 poles for a small tepee. 27 poles of twice the height? Not likely.

We never had a properly smooth tepee because oak and sassafras won’t produce straight poles, no matter how much you trim them. They stay lumpy. Moreover, we have no flat land and it turns out, you can’t build a tepee that is going to stand more than overnight without a flat piece of ground under it. If it’s a temporary overnight construction (say something to stay in while you’re hunting), you can slapdash it together, but if you want to live in it, flat ground is a mandate.

Thus we had to create a flat piece of ground. We built what (had it been surrounded on three sides with water), a peninsula of land poking into the woods off the back west corner of the yard. That’s where our land drops off from sloping and dives down about eight feet, then slopes for another few hundred feet, after which it drops off another dozen feet. After which there is a flat area.

But we could not get there on foot without felling a dozen or more big red oaks and bringing in a plow to create a path. Even inside the flat area, there was a mighty oak in its center which would have caused construction issues.

Owen designed our spit of land. Our construction crew — Owen and Garry — determined that a 12-foot teepee was about as much as they could manage. Owen designed it with old railroad ties (from an old railroad … there were a lot of them and those ties are as close to eternal as any wood product could be) as the walls. The guys then filled it with dirt and sand. It was then covered with a dump-truck full of gravel, all of which had to be hauled down one wheelbarrow at a time from the top of the driveway to the edge of the woods.

Owen and Garry grew very muscular that summer.

All of this was followed by painting (my job). I had grand plans but eventually settled on painting the door flap, with an exterior of a buffalo headdress and an interior that was all our hand-prints. I copied the design from pictures. It came out better than I expected.

From the rear of the teepee, the day is ending in mid Autumn.

I would have liked to paint the whole thing, but once it was up, it stood more than 18 feet high I designed an interior cover for insulation. By this point, I was on my own, but it was fun. I also built a fire pit and learned to get the fire blazing in under three minutes. When it’s mid-winter in New England, getting that fire roaring fast is important because after that, your hands are frozen and you can’t manage the matches. The fire was big for the 12-foot tepee but it was super cozy.

The tepee was completed and dedicated in October. For five years afterward, we had the coldest, snowiest winters anyone remembered. Many evenings I spent with a blazing fire, sitting by the open flap because the tepee sometimes (often) got a bit sauna-like Sitting in the doorway watching the snowfall with the fire behind me was everything for which I had hoped.

The tepee stood for six years, all year round, after which it came down because the poles began to rot. Also, a bobcat had moved in and had a litter of kittens there. She did not want to leave. Still, it was a great five years, pre-bobcat.

So now, you’ve gotten the tangent as geometry plus a tangent as a digression. In one post! And welcome to the tepee.

TOTALLY UNHINGED – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Unhinged


I’m voting for Yang. Even if he isn’t the nominee, he’s my guy. Anyone who’ll give me magic mushrooms and enough money to live on? My man!

The laughing Flamingo?

Does everyone feel as if they fell into the rabbit hole and that last mushroom made them huge — or tiny. My plastic flamingo is running around the garden laughing at me. I need to drink something that will make me … real.

Because I too am unhinged!

FOLLOW, FOLLOW, FOLLOW, FOLLOW – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s – Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Definitely follow the road, but be sure whoever is leading your march isn’t some crazy orange guy with a very bad attitude.

Remember, those bricks weren’t always yellow!

EVERY DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Daily

There was a time … and not very long ago at that … when daily meant normal. Things that occurred on a daily basis were normal and we didn’t need to pay a lot of attention to them. These days, it’s a new crisis every day. Not a little crisis either. Major crises, Nearly end of the world crises. Stress and high blood pressure are the words of the year. Years. No matter how frightening yesterday was, we count on tomorrow being just as bad or worse.

The world

It used to be as you got older, mostly you complained about the music the kids were playing. These days, we wonder if we are going to have a world to live in. Is it going to blow up? Drown as the ice melts? Will there be any birds or lions or elephants left?We are moving from a natural world into a world so highly mechanized that I barely understand it. Maybe I don’t want to recognize it.

The silly daily dilly-dally of the earlier years has turned into the terror of nuclear war and loss of our entire democracy. For once, being old isn’t so bad. We won’t need to see it all happen. At least that’s a good thing, right?

STAIRS AND STEPS- Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Stairs

When we bought this house — 19 years ago — I figured there were only 12 stairs from the front door: six up and six down. We were moving from a three-story triplex in Boston, so a mere 12 steps didn’t seem like much. I could not imagine a time when I wouldn’t be able to climb six steps — or in a pinch, twelve with a landing int he middle.

Wooden steps from the deck to the backyard

Who knew? I have a stairlift for the top six, from the middle landing to where we live, bu the other six? “Haul away, men. She’s on her way.”

Garry now has to haul himself up by the handrail.

Scotties on the upper six stairs

Stairway to the river by the Mumford Dam

The problem is, I guess, that this is a hilly region, There are no flat areas and what few there are, are occupied by farms. That’s where our local fresh corn comes from. And the local grapes, cucumbers, and other produce.  Mostly these days, we seem to be breeding horses — saddle horses and huge Clydesdales and Percherons. Do we have any particular use for these gigantic (and beautiful) horses? No, not really, but they are glorious animals.

Four Clydesdales hooked to a dressy rig is a great entrance for a couple getting married., The saddle horses are owned by academies. If these places have flat areas, these are used as a ring for training riders and horses. Most places bring in bulldozers to flatten sections.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

We had to bring in a bulldozer to flatten our backyard. You can ask a lot more for houses if by some quirk it happens to be on flat ground at the top of a hill so water runs down and away from it.

We are in the middle of the hill. A long slide down the driveway from the road is our personal Bunny Slope. Thus our backyard is flat, but still needs a canal of its own so the water that collects at the base of the driveway can roll down to the woods.

From the read of the back lawn, there is a precipitous drop through some impressive boulders to a flat area at the bottom, after which the land rises again. Since the entire area is networked by bodies of water — rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and canals initially used by factories and spinning mills to move goods to the main canal or ultimately, the railroad.

The long drop from the Worcester hill into the hill-and-dale of the watershed means almost no houses can be build on flat land. Newer houses — like ours — are either split levels or Georgian-style brick buildings built into the hills. Like a split level before there were split levels.

Pretty much every house has stairs. The parks have long stairways because that’s what you can do on these rolling hills. This house is a raised ranch. The lower level has one area that is a real basement. The rest of the level includes a den with a fireplace, a big bedroom. a tiny bedroom now used as a closet, another unheated room for storage,  plus a bathroom with a shower, toilet, sink, and the washer, and dryer. What remains of the original garage is a work area.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

We find ourselves going up and down often. We store extra food on the shelves downstairs. A lot of items that come and go in the house — little table, pictures, wrapping paper, winter coats in the summer, summer clothing in the winter. The attic was never finished. It doesn’t have a complete floor and is full of loose fiberglass for insulation. We don’t go there since its pull-down wooden stairs feel dangerously creaky.

Take a walk along the banks of the Blackstone

Yet, when we moved in, I hopped up and down the stairs like they were nothing. I didn’t even mind the three-story townhouse in Boston, though I could tell a time would come when I wouldn’t be able to deal with it. By then we also had two dogs and a cat and I wanted a yard for the dogs. With a fence.

Just 12 steps, but sometimes, they feel like so many more.

EITHER, OR, AND WHATEVER by Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Either, Or, and Whatever

I don’t want to complain. Okay, I really do want to complain.

I was just beginning to feel a little optimistic about the house. We got the rotting door removed the side of the house. It’s a lot warmer without the draft. The front door has been insulated, finished and if we get it painted, it’ll be perfect. We put up a set of gutters which, with a little luck, will help our roof survive.

Home. With snow.

Lately, I’ve been hearing a banging sound and I could never figure out where it was coming from. I thought it was outside, that the drain pipes from the gutter were banging against the house.

It turned out to be the boiler. It was replaced was in 2009. Which turns out to have been 10 years ago. Ten years?

2009 was ten years ago? How did THAT happen? I calculated last night that our boiler was 12 years old when we bought this house in 2000. Which meant that our boiler is 31 years old. We’ve been pretty good about getting it serviced regularly. The parts we’ve replaced have all been parts that normally need replacement. Sort of like the boiler version of changing the oil, replacing brakes, tires, and windshield wipers.

Thirty-one years for this boiler is a lot. About 10 years longer than this system was supposed to work, since it was an inexpensive unit. While I was busy congratulating myself on having somehow, with the grace, love, and caring of friends, the boiler was quietly aging.

In addition to all the other indignities of getting old, you get to outlive your “stuff.” Your new roof gets old.

It’s not fair! I still maintain that one roof is the only roof you should ever need. You shouldn’t need three front doors or four hot water heaters. The shed shouldn’t rot. The Hollyhocks shouldn’t die. The well shouldn’t need major repairs. Having fixed the septic system, it should survive us.

Whatever deities you may worship, Murphy’s Law rules them all. How in the world can I save up five or six thousand dollars for a new boiler?

Okay. I’ve complained enough for one day. Maybe for an entire month or two. And there really is no way to live without central heating in this climate. I’d love to say we’re going to save up the money but there are still other things that need fixing. I guess something will work out.

Either this, that, or some other thing will happen. I have to believe. It’s the only option I have.

INDULGE AND INDULGENCES – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Indulge & Indulgences


Oh, what a difference there is between these two similar words. You’d think “indulgences” would be the plural of “indulge” — except it isn’t. To indulge is to allow yourself or someone else to eat or have or use something special. Chocolate. Rare wine. Fancy clothing.

Indulgence is what you paid the medieval church to “pay off” one or more of your sins. It was a major issue in Luther’s 95 Theses:

“Analysis Of Martin Luther 95 Theses

The message of 95 Theses gave the summary and expressed the feelings of many of his peers already had about the corruption of Christ’s teachings. Luther illustrated the spiritual, material, and psychological truths behind abuses in the practice of buying and selling indulgences.”

It’s easy to see how the one word could morph into another, although I think it’s possible that it went in the other direction, that “indulgences” came first and “indulge” was a less charged version of the original term.

I indulge in cameras, computers, lenses and all the software that goes with the cameras and lenses and pictures. I originally “arting” as a painter. With oil paint. Probably because my mother worked with oils and I had spent a lot of years watching her work, so I had a few clues about how to use them.

I was not a great painter, but for some obscure reason, people really liked the pieces and one day, when I had stopped painting because I’d just had a baby and I couldn’t leave the easel standing because toddlers and easels are not a good mix. There were also dogs and cats and they were very good at tipping the easel over. Oil paint doesn’t come out of rugs or at least I never figured out high. Acrylics were just coming out, but they dried too fast for me. I needed time to go back and mess with an image.

That was when I realized that I didn’t own a single picture I’d painted. I had sold them. I tried to buy a couple back, but no one would sell me one. I doubt any of them still exist, either. I really didn’t know how to stretch a canvas properly, so I’m pretty sure the pictures all disintegrated through the past 50 years. Serves them right. I would have thought ONE person would have sold me ONE picture. Sheesh.

I never went back to painting because by then I had discovered photography. I loved photography and got pretty good at it almost immediately. Of course, cameras were so much simpler back in the 1960s. Film speed, shutter speed, Lens opening size (f-stop), focus. The rest was art.

Most cameras didn’t even have built-in light meters. I got really good at looking at the light and gauging how to set the camera. I couldn’t do that anymore. I’ve become so dependent on autofocus and electronic gauges, I’ve lost those instincts.

If I’m going to indulge in anything other than photographic stuff, it’ll be socks. I love socks. My feet have been cold since childhood and I’m so enjoying the pleasure of well-fitted wool socks.

Once upon a time, to indulge had a lot to do with horses, but my spine said no. You just can’t argue with your spine. You can try, but you never get the answers you are looking for. Mostly, you get pain and silence.

SKULKING IN THE SHADOWS — Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Skulk

This is one of those words that sounds like what it means. Skulking in the shadows in the darkened alleys of Gotham. Bwa-ha-ha-ha! The man in the black coat and fedora gum-shoeing after him. And somewhere, a cop, an FBI agent, and private-eye are lurking, waiting for the moment of truth if there is any such thing.

Reindeer, sleigh, snow guy, and a path.

It’s a great, cold day here on the Atlantic coast. A good day for skulking. Even the birds seem rather sinister. I think I’m too tired to feel sinister. And we have an evening event. At least the hearings are over and I can go back to having a permanent nervous breakdown.

All the buds … and notice in front the one red segment. That too will flower.

Does anyone believe we are already supposedly “in the holiday spirit?” I’m not sure what that means anymore. I think it’s mostly about taking my tree from last year, plugging it in and making it ready to do its annual job as “tree of the holidays.”


Personally, before the subject comes up (again), I don’t care whether you say Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel, Good Chanuka, Felice Navidad, or Happy Kwanza. Or just “Hi, how are you?”

I do not care! It’s the thought that counts … and a fat envelope full of greenbacks wouldn’t hurt either.

LOBBY AND LOBBYING – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Lobby

I grew up in a world where “lobby” was the big room in a hotel where you got the keys to your room.

Today lobbying is a definition of what’s wrong with the country.

PRUDENT IS UNAMERICAN — Marilyn Armstrong

Prudent. Maybe like the Impeachment Hearings?

Prudent seems like a very strange word these days. Here we are — Garry and I — and the impeachment hearings are on the TV and we’re having little conversations about how people feel about this. I gathered, but last night’s “comedy” television that these hearings are getting gigantic ratings. Garry said he was sure that Trump would be very proud of this and I thought that was pretty funny.

I think this IS part of the space force!

I guess he moves on with his life in which I think he still wants another television show of his own (like who does he think would hire him?) explaining that he had the highest-rated television show of 2019. But if he’s not the President, I don’t think he’s going to get such great ratings.

I also learned last night that he was worried that naked pictures of him (Trump) would surface. Naked pictures of DJT? And the man who is our “president” is worried about naked pictures of his big fat self?

No, no, no.


I can barely stand to see whats-his-face fully clothed. The idea of all that blubber naked is beyond me on every level.

Prudent? Careful? Working within limits? Honest?

Sometimes these guys go on for five minutes and I look at Garry and say “Was there a question in there?” We have our own version of “Law and Order” going on here.

Prudent?

I don’t know how the reporters understand what’s being asked and answered. Do they?