STATE OF MY NATION – Marilyn Armstrong

STATE OF MY NATION – RDP SATURDAY


I have forbidden television viewing today. It’s the Republican opportunity to deny everything and I don’t think I can handle it. Worse, this might be the broadcast that finally makes Garry kick the TV until it shatters. Since we need to fix a broken toilet and the floor under it, we can’t afford a new TV so we’ll have to hang onto this one. This part of the impeachment will have to wait for the evening news roundups and late-night comedies.

Watching it will make us crazy.

Trump has only been in office for three years, but it feels like at least twenty. Maybe more. It isn’t only what he has done. It’s what he has tried to do, his twisting of reality and constant blatant lies. He has been the first president in my lifetime to make me wonder whether this country has a soul, conscience, or any aspirations other than the gathering of money and “things.”

Someone — and I really have no idea who — said that no one goes to their grave wishing they’d spent more time at the office. It goes hand-in-hand with all the wealthy people who have the money to buy everything they ever wanted yet feel as if there’s a big, empty hole in the middle of their life. They are lonely, bored, and feel unloved. They (who ARE they?) actually did a survey on this which has been on the national news for the past few nights. The rich don’t have friends. Making money hasn’t been nearly as satisfying as it was supposed to be. No amount of publicity, plastic surgery, or fashionable clothing fills that hole.


I have come to believe “The American Dream” is just a soft-focus, rose-colored version of greed for all.


With all the issues we have got, I am not lonely. I wish we had more in-person time with friends, but as we have grown older, so have they.  Our contemporaries mostly don’t like long drives anymore. Distances that weren’t a big deal even five years ago seem much longer now.

I always hoped we’d somehow find a way to stick together, but life has taken us in the opposite direction. Retirement to warmer climates and/or moving to wherever our kids and grandchildren live has spread us all over the map. There have also been too many deaths.

With all that, I’m pretty sure that if I died tomorrow, there would be at least a dozen people at the wake who cared about me. It wouldn’t be a crowd of people with whom I “did business,” but people I knew, talked to, and loved.

This nightmare through which we are passing has not only caused individual personal fear but has breached many friendships and family relationships.

Where we used to disagree and were willing to “agree to disagree,” we can’t seem to do that today. I don’t think I had a lot of Republican friends, but maybe I did. I never checked anyone to make sure they agreed with me politically. We didn’t talk about politics all the time. You were allowed to believe privately and in peace.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

There is so much anger, frustration, confusion, and hatred everywhere. You can feel it prickling your skin. If we don’t manage to get Trump and his trashy pals out of office, the future looks grim and frightening.

Worse, I’m ashamed of being white, and ashamed of my nation, and seriously wondering if we will ever find our way back from this mess. I never thought it could come to this.

OUT MY BACK DOOR – Marilyn Armstrong

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Out My Backdoor


I look out my backdoor a lot. It’s a small deck leading to a rather small lawned area that when we were younger and more socially active, was the scene of many summertime barbecues, the building of a tepee, and just handing out. The tepee is gone. The idea of feeding a hoard of people — assuming we knew enough people to create a hoard — is exhausting. Nonetheless, our deck is a big piece of the territory to which we pay most attention.

The birds and squirrels believe it belongs to them and resent our presence, so we tread gently when we are out there.

A winter Goldfinch at the finch feeder

Junco keeping company with our stone Toad

The three birdfeeders which have replaced the hanging fuchsia that used to grace the hooks have greatly changed the deck from a human place to a wildlife feeding station. I believe it’s far more socially useful feeding squirrels, the occasional chipmunk, and wild birds than it was as a place for morning coffee.

Cardinal on board

Times change. Since the arrival of mosquitoes carrying diseases previously unknown in this region, it’s hard to get really thrilled about being that close to where they breed.

One of our most frequent visitors, a Tufted Titmouse

Two feeders on a very cold morning

Even though the woods have been sprayed, the spraying reduces the mosquito population. It doesn’t remove it. I’m pretty sure it also killed a few hundred birds and other small critters too. Whenever humans decide to fix something, some creature pays the price.

Mist in a January woods

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?

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!

HAPPENSTANCE JUST HAPPENS – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Wednesday – HAPPENSTANCE

It has been one of those weeks. We were supposed to go away at the end of the week to celebrate being alive and surviving this year, but happenstance really happened big-time. First, I got sick. I wasn’t sure I was sick until I talked to Cherrie and she had the same thing and then Garry came down with it. I guess that means I had something. It’s one of those stomach things, so it will go away pretty quickly (usually they only last a few days), so I’m not going running to the doctor for something that’s just “going around.”

As it happened, one of the people we would be have been visiting has to be in the hospital soon. People with contagious things don’t go visiting people who are having surgery soon. It’s just … well … rude. Unhealthy, too.

Then there’s the wall of the house. As concerned as I am about getting the insurance company to throw a few dollars our way (ONE year’s payment of our home insurance bill would more than cover the issue and we’ve been paying for a long, long time — 19 years on this house and 10 on the previous one — but they don’t “pay.” They collect.

Garry and Karin MacMillan

On the upside, Karin — who we were going to be visiting but now aren’t — dropped by this morning with her business partner and Garry got to jabber a bit and it was fun to actually have company. She commented that this is a really lovely area — which it really is. It’s a gorgeous area despite the terrible weather we’ve been having.

Owen then came over and put a new pillar under the back deck. The pillar is on cement, so it isn’t going to sink. It used to be attached to the house, but the attachment came loose. Propping it up seemed a better deal than getting a new deck. That’s a few thousand dollars and basically, there’s nothing wrong with this deck except that it has come unhitched from the house. Now, with a double-strong wooden pillar propping up that corner, it is unlikely to go anywhere. And he got the job done in under two hours. Go, Owen!

I’m still trying to get hold of the contractor. It’s a busy — SUPER busy — season for contractors. Not only is everyone desperate to get something fixed before winter drops by, but it’s hunting season. Big time. And contractors have an odd way of drifting away even when they are in the middle of a job. So I want him to come, but I have to cajole and coddle him. Can I bribe him with cookies?

And yesterday, because how loud can anyone hint before someone else gets the message, Garry bought me a brilliant purple orchid. Which meant rearranging the dining room by pushing the table against the French doors. We can use it as a sideboard if we are serving and everyone can drift off to eat wherever they are most comfy. And my flowers look so much better.

As it happens, happenstance won my day. I happened to have a new coffee machine because the old one croaked and new flowers to dream about. Garry feels a little better than yesterday and I don’t feel any worse, which is something.

INFURIATION, RAGE, ANGER, AND OTHER BLOOD PRESSURE-RAISING MOODS – Marilyn Armstrong

This has the Chinese government antique (official) insignia. Probably 1700s, but could be 100 years earlier. Possibly from Tibet, but claimed by the Chinese (who are also claiming Tibet)

RDP-Sunday–INFURIATE

Ever since Garry said he was sure I was going to have a stroke if I didn’t calm down, I have calmed down. Mostly by having all of these rage-filled battles online rather than on the phone. I didn’t really think I’d have a stroke, but who knows? Nothing good was going to come out of it, regardless.

Giant ginger jar (missing lid)

It was ALWAYS something to do with customers non-relations. missing items for which I’d paid and expected to actually receive, getting defrauded (again), failure of a company to honor an expensive service plan (and usually one I should have known better than to purchase in the first place).

When I bought my Mac, I didn’t buy the service plan. There’s nearest service area was more than 50 miles away and for the amount they charged for less than a year’s “service,” what was the point? It would work that long I was sure. Computers work perfectly from when you get them (or never start working in the first place) in which case your 90-day warranty does the job just fine.

After I stopped paying for service plans. life got better. The people who supposedly provided the service rarely knew more than I did anyway.

Hand-carved Burmese Buddha – 20th-Century

At least I knew a reboot usually helped.

I stopped working with undependable companies and stayed with places that honored their warrantees: LL Beane, Land’s End, Amazon, Audible. and I never call my electric or internet company unless everything stopped working (which usually meant an area outage so there wasn’t much point in it).  Even then, I knew if I just waited, by morning it would get fixed.

I think Tibetan

I haven’t worked full time for so long I don’t actually remember many boss-slave relationships. I remember good ones, the wonderful ones — and have mostly forgotten the terrible ones. I remember the completely IRRATIONAL ones, though- the people who told you to do things that were physically impossible and I remember the great ones who were more like pals than bosses. I hold in deep fondness the mentors who taught me what I needed to know to make my way in a strange world.

Chinese Astrological figures etc

But right now, I’m not even angry. I’m just confused, scared, baffled. What to do about my house? How to get my insurance company to pay for legitimate weather damage that has — simply by driving around an looking at all the battered houses in the area — taken a terrible toll in the Valley.

I don’t know where to begin and on who to do it. In ALL the years I’ve owned houses, no insurance company has given me anything, no matter what had happened. I’ve gotten used to assuming there’s no point bothering to ask and it was always something I could somehow manage to take care of. Somehow.

This time, I can’t do it alone. I don’t have the skills or money. The adjuster came and went — and I have yet to see a report or a summary or ANYTHING indicating that the company got the pictures and proof of water damage. You’d think after 47 years between Garry and I with this same company that would count for something, right? It would seem I was deluded. Again.

I’m not even mad, just lost.

Simultaneously, I’m trying to sell as many of my antiques and paintings as I can. I don’t think they are worth all that much, pretty as they are, but other people don’t agree — so on the theory that other people’s ideas are often better than mine, why not at least try?

Sui musicians, restored

In the interim, it means carefully, oh SO carefully, dusting them. You can’t wash them — they are too old and the glazes are gone after a few hundred to thousands of years in caves or craters or underneath the ocean. It turns out, the ocean crashes did the LEAST damage … who’d have guessed it?

I’ve (nervously) assigned this task to Garry with the warning if he can’t reach it, don’t even try. The stuff is fragile.

When Owen, the tall one, is here, I will get him to help — and even HE is afraid of them, too. They are SO old.

Rage? More like complete confusion.

I’m probably enraged by what I (humorously) call my insurance company who doesn’t actually insure anything unless it affects the value of the house to the mortgage company (though you’d think a wall about to collapse from water damage would affect its overall value). They take our money, more every year — and it is a LOT of money — and never give anything back.

Miscellaneous and old!

I’m not angry. Just shocked, saddened, and dismayed that the situation could be this bad and MAPFRE will somehow manage to get away with it. Even more shocked at my own lack of understanding of the process. Boy oh boy, could I use a lawyer!

If I manage to figure out how to emerge from this mess, I’ll let you know.

I wonder — if I do nothing — how long it will take for the house to fall down? Do you think the insurance would pay for that? The mortgage company might get downright pissy about a pile of junk where a house used to be. I wouldn’t care for it much, either.

COUNTRY GARDENS BETWEEN STORMS – Marilyn Armstrong

AMELIORATING AND JUDICIOUS WILD PLANTING OF FLOWERS IN THE TINY TOWN OF UXBRIDGE

Our lawns are essentially wild,, too. I can’t turn on the hose because that pipe broke a few years ago and I haven’t figured out where to attach the new hose, (there’s a spout somewhere, but where?) — and so the hose is still in its original box in the basement.

Watering is hardly an issue. We are wet enough for several thousand lawns.

In the spring, the back lawn is covered with dandelions, wild violets, and Mayflowers. I love the yellow and blue combination. I won’t let anyone cut it until after they have all died back. Half our “front” garden is full of Asters, Columbine, Spiderwort, Solomon’s Seal. and Daylilies culled from the roads and woods. Other than the Roses and a big old-fashioned white Rhododendron that came before we moved in, all the other things we planted disappeared.

I think we have ONE remaining tulip and an azalea that’s too shady to bloom much. About twice a year, my son mows everything and hits the giant forsythia with an electric hedge cutter. Otherwise, it is what it is. Wild thing overtaking wild thing. Right now, it’s Jimson Weed with its bright purple berries (it came out of nowhere, but we have had a lot of birds and they bring seeds).

Jimson weed

We rarely go into the garden for recreation but we do occasionally hang out on the deck which is falling down. The bird feeders will go back up at the end of the month. I can’t wait until November. I want my birds back.

The dogs own the front yard and it looks like a site on which they shoot missiles. Garry cleans the pathway to the house, but otherwise, it’s pretty ripe. The other 4 acres are woods. These days, almost entirely oak behind the house and a 50-50 mix of sugar maple, oak, and our one and only decorative tree, the Japanese maple culled from my cousin’s crop (he has many).

This year, the wild grape vines are covering everything and growing insanely fast, too. As is the Bitterroot which is a transplant from somewhere else. Not on this continent.

There are a few miniature Korean lilacs I planted 20 years ago and are growing, but I have trouble finding them between the bigger trees.  Our only, very beaten and battered (and aging) lilac that is the size of a medium-size maple still throws up a few flowers. I need a very long lens to find the few we get and those are way up at the top of the tree.

Few people have much in the way of gardens. It’s dark from the canopy of oaks which shade out most other trees. We had ash and maple and we do have a fair growth of sassafras — but only along the edge of the woods.

A million kinds of grasping vines fighting for dominance. The rain has changed that. Last year it was wild morning glory which at least had a few flowers, but this year, it’s those huge grapevines. They have grown so tall they cover some of the mid-size oak trees.
I have ONE really well-grown maple right in front of my house which I treasure because it’s the only place on the property (other than the Japanese maple) that gives me real color.

Sunshine and oak trees

The deep green of the oaks become a golden bronze late in the season (November, usually) and the few remaining Ash change to bright yellow — usually now — but the rain has changed it so there is NO color anywhere.

At least I don’t have to worry about mowing because there’s no lawn. There was — for a single season — a back lawn after we had our backyard flattened and seeded, but the following year, after a wild and crazy winter of blizzards and brutally low temperatures, the wildflowers came back and the grass gave up.

It’s easier in the country. No one expects a big floral show (but a great ripening of tomatoes will bring admiring neighbors from near and far), so if you have a few daffodils and daylilies, that’s fine.

Everyone has one or more dogs. If you listen, you can always hear one barking. Occasionally, in the evening, they all get a good solid group bark going. It’s the Canine Earphone Collective. Free. No devices needed. That’s how dogs keep in touch, pass along the gossip, and let all the other canines know what’s happening out here in the never-ever lands beyond the city and suburban borders.

Back — now nearly 10 years ago — when we had our three long-eared hounds, they would sing in the morning. How I miss them! None of our current generation of dogs sing. No idea what DNA created El Duque , but the Scotties only sing if other dogs begin the chorus. Then they will yelp during appropriate moments in the finale.

EVENTUALLY MAKES A LONG LIST – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP SATURDAY : Eventually

Be there anyone amongst us who doth not make lists.

Not all my lists are written, mind you. Some are mental. I have a wedding coming up. It’s a very big piece of my “eventually” list and includes:

      • Can we afford reservations anywhere?
      • Am I physically up to a long drive from Massachusetts to Virginia?
      • Is Garry up to a long drive from New England to down there?

These lists used to be smaller and I used to be better at approaching them. I always did things quickly — just to get done with them and not have to worry. Reservations are probably manageable — one way or the other. Probably the other. I really want to go to this wedding.

When I first knew it was happening, I promised myself I would find a way to make it happen. Which automatically put it on my primary “eventually” list. I did not count on how hard I would find just getting through a normal day. Or how exhausted I would be after even a minimal effort.

Why am I so tired? My back is badly broken and my heart is tired. The back is both broken and arthritic. It hurts. I have better medication than I used to, so that’s a good thing, but the heart is a whole other issue.

The heart is genetic and I never knew I had. Most people who have the problem are unaware of it until it kills them. I was lucky I discovered it before it killed me. I was born with it. Probably so was my father and for all I know, my mother too. I’ve already had major surgery to repair it which involved installing two replacement valves, an electronic (metal) Pacemaker, and surgery which remodeled the entire left ventricle and a bypass.

The problem was my heart walls continue to thicken. The walls become inflexible. It’s harder for the valves to work – which means my red blood cell count drops which probably explains why I’ve had problems with minimal anemia since I was a kid. So far, though, it has never dropped dangerously low.

Can I get there and enjoy it? Can Garry make it? He isn’t good with long drives anymore. He used to love driving. For that matter, I used to love driving!

There are a lot other eventually lists. I’m not sure I can take a long walk to take pictures. I finally use the chair lift because hauling myself up and down the stairs isn’t going to improve my spine or my heart. The heart will get worse until it stops working.  No one will redo the surgery. I figure I’ve got another five years if I’m careful and a little bit lucky. Maybe longer. They keep improving the technology, so maybe they’ll come up with a miracle drug — and it will even be affordable.

The way we were – September 15, 1990

But that’s not so bad, right? I’ve had a full life. Not a super long one, but not cut excessively short either. Eventually is the rest of my life. There is so much eventually waiting for me to get to it.

Sometimes, I think, “What if I win the lottery? Could I somehow manage to travel to Europe and see Paris?” When we hit our 25th-anniversary and I wanted to go to Paris because I always wanted to see Paris (though I think I wanted to see the Paris that disappeared 100 years ago), we didn’t go. If you can’t walk, what do you do in Paris? If you can’t walk through Versailles or the Louvre — or walk those cobblestone streets — what else is there to do?

We went to visit Ben in Arizona and that was actually fantastic. The dry heat improved my ability to breathe and my spine hurt a lot less. I don’t know if I could live in that kind of heat all the time, but winter in Arizona is heavenly.

All my eventually lists are waiting for me. Sometimes, I forget what’s on the lists and by the time I remember, it’s too late. This time, though, I have to deal with it. One way or the other, it’s on top.

HACKED AND HATING IT – Marilyn Armstrong

We Did It! — Maybe?        RDP Monday: PRINCE

I’m sorry. Didn’t use the “word of the day” because this needed to go out to everyone I could send it to. No matter how little you pay attention to what’s going on in your technical department, you should read this because it really does matter to you and all of us.


So, for the moment, Tyngpress.com is closed, but despite that everyone says “it was closed down,” they closed THEMSELVES down and were NOT forced to close. I got this note this morning from “Web.Informer.com”:


Hello,
Thanks for your message. Could you please send us a direct link to this info on website.informer.com? We will remove it asap.
Best Regards, 
Website.Informer Project Team

On Fri, 2 Aug at 11:28 PM , MARILYN ARMSTRONG <fivedawgz@gmail.com> wrote:

This is a full spammer website stealing other people’s material without authorization or permission. Does not create any of his/her own material but steals it, largely from WordPress but probably from others, too. Remove him. Dangerous.

79011:414394


 But the message on the actual website (Tygpress.com) was this:


Tygpress.com is temporarily out of service due to technical issues. will be back soon…

Tygpress.com was created with an intention to create a blog search site, but due to some techical issues, full contents of respective sites were being displayed instead of just excerpts as intended. We thank the complainants for bringing this issue to our notice and We are extremely sorry to the content owners.

This is a literal paste-down, so the misspellings are (for once) not mine.

This comment does NOT indicate they were closed down but are obviously getting hit by a lot of complaints. Duh.

And this site is one of the thousands, maybe millions of such sites. They are all over the world. We have no control over them. This particular one actually had a platform on another server, but many of them have their own servers and work for governments who not only do not care about “us,” but are intentionally out to get us.

Be careful what you post, especially if you have any intention of publishing it. Do NOT publish original artwork if it is something you intend to sell or simply is very dear to you.

These pieces of scum are everywhere and they are targeting every single one of us. I’ve been hacked. Fandango has been hacked. I’m sure many more of us have been hacked. Some of us got off lightly, others had to pay for it. I was also locked out of my own computer, but I spent two full days UNlocking.


PLEASE BACK UP YOUR MATERIAL AND DO IT REGULARLY, EVEN THOUGH IT IS BORING.
MORE IS BETTER.


When you clean off your computer, you clean off EVERYTHING THAT WAS ON IT. You are effectively wiping your hard drive which is fine if your material was backed up onto at least TWO SEPARATE EXTERNAL DRIVES and the rest of it lives on external drives belonging to companies like Amazon and Dell and other major cloud providers.

Google is useless. They won’t do anything and we won’t even discuss Facebook.

WordPress is equally useless. You can enter into their “blocked” functions anything you like, but it doesn’t accomplish anything. They have no effective security arrangements.

No matter WHAT they say, they are lying.

They have also made it (by the way), nearly impossible to get material from new folders in graphics (photographs, in essence).

All you get now is a list. You can’t see any of the images in the folder.

For those of us that are serious photographers and artists, that means you have to carefully name each item in every new folder– or any older folder you haven’t yet opened.

This is going to require endless hours of additional work for everyone who uses a lot of graphics content. I haven’t even bothered to complain to them, though I suppose I should. From previous experience, when they’ve decided to do something exceptionally stupid, pointless, and counter-productive, they never go back and make it work the way it used to. But this is worse than usual. This is AWFUL.

I’m getting close to giving up. It’s not that I don’t love you all, but I’m paying for the privilege of being virtually completely hackable. I’m running some of the world’s worst software and being talked down to like an infant by the baby morons running their “technical” division — our glorious “happiness engineers.”

All they want is more money when they can’t even deliver what we are already paying for.


NOTE: Adjacent to the “select” section from which you need to pull up a picture, there’s a small icon (I can’t copy it, my snap-catch function won’t work on that screen), but if you click on it, it offers you some choices about how to see images. Anyone who recently got a Microsoft “upgrade” will probably have this problem. Select one of the images!


 

ASTRALLY SWINGING ON A STAR – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Monday: ASTRAL

I started reading the news this morning and it was so depressing, I decided to skip it and go straight to music. Swinging on a start sounds like a good choice, don’t you think? This is the Frank Sinatra version. It was the best reproduction I could find.

It’s a cheerful song. Nothing to do with the news and that’s just fine with me. Less is definitely more!

CHANGE IS ALWAYS ON THE WAY – Marilyn Armstrong

CHANGE IS ALWAYS

If only we could find that perfect, sweet, happy place and just sink into it. Stay there and never have to deal with change again. But of course, that’s impossible, isn’t it? Because if the world doesn’t change — and it never stops — we also change too, physically and emotionally.

We find a perfect job except we run out of work or they sell to another company. We learn everything we need to know except we turn around and it’s all different and we have to relearn it.

I don’t remember where I read it, but it was a list of the things that we find most stressful. It included things like death, job loss, and many other bad things … but it also included good things. Marriage and weddings are enormous stressors. Moving, even if you choose the move, are going somewhere you want to be is a  major stressor.

All change is stressful. Whatever our personality or feelings about change, in the end, it pushes us in ways we may not like.  Are bad changes — death, dying, sickness, poverty — worse than good changes? Sure, but don’t try to explain it to your body. All it knows is the tension and stress. It doesn’t care if it’s good or bad, only that it’s hard.

I’m not sure what induced me to take on a day of this prompt. I swore I’d never go back to prompting again, I needed a bit of change that wasn’t forced on me. Something small, but which would force me into thinking about “stuff.”

These past few years have been terrifying. Considering I’ve “grown-up” with news as a major part of my world, you wouldn’t think that it would affect me so much, but it has. It turns out we — Americans — are having a bit of a national nervous breakdown. Even people who (Dog may know why) like this administration are finding it stressful. We aren’t alone. Other countries are undergoing their own stressors. Between the climate changing and the bizarre leadership shifts? It’s messy and scary.

I’ve been dealing with my particular big bad dragon — money — so I haven’t had time to dive in and see what I need to do. I’m sure I’ll work it out, but be a patient, please. On top of everything else, we’ve been having problems with Charter, all of which seem to have started when we cut the cable cord. I don’t suppose that has anything to do with it? They wouldn’t be that petty, would they?

We’re also having a lot of glitches with WordPress. I’ll do my best and hopefully, it will all work out. If not, maybe I’ll take up bungee jumping. If I’m going to stress, I might as well go all in.

A FEW PICTURES OF BIRD USING NEW VERSIONS OF TOPAZ STUDIO 2 – Marilyn Armstrong

PREPARE!

So I prepared a few pictures of a friendly little house finch. This one lives in the maple tree in front of the house, so I see him a lot. For some reason, he tries to climb in our picture window. I have no idea why unless it’s a reflection and he thinks it’s another bird.

He’s awfully cute!

TOO MANY MURDER MYSTERIES – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Thursday: PROXY

As soon as whoever it is — usually, a child or grandchild of some older person shows up clutching a proxy in hand, evil will be done. The old person will be forced out of his home, all his possessions will be stolen right down to and including his most comfortable chair.

The two Barnabys

Soon, a scream will echo through the halls of the lordly manor as the corpse is discovered.

The REAL star of the show, Sykes

Will it be the old person or the young person … or, sometimes, someone apparently completely disconnected from the event? Barnaby and his sidekick Ben will investigate.

A little map of Midsomer

The truth will always surface and that person found dead — who I assure you will not be the only person found dead because no good Midsomer Murder has fewer than three murders in any episode — will ultimately be discovered to have some hidden, furtive relationship with everyone else.

Typical local home in Midsomer

Who is everyone else? Family, of course. And the wealthier and nobler the family, the more murders will have occurred before the show ends.

I always feel short-shrifted if there are fewer than three murders in an episode. And there has to be at least one scream.

A PASSAGE OVER WATER – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP TUESDAY: PASSAGE

In the I Ching, a passage is not just a passage. A passage over water means something different than a passage over a mountain or across a meadow. Each movement carries its own specific message for you.

I was never very good at deciphering it.

Passage over water usually means a long journey to another country. It doesn’t have to mean “real water,” either. It merely implies “a long trip.” Someone in Israel taught me to read the I Ching. I don’t remember who it was. I was never very good at it anyway. It usually made more sense after it happened than it did in the original reading.

Still, I remember that passage over water. I was thinking of vacations to distant lands. Maybe a trip home to visit family. That was definitely over water — an entire ocean.

It turned out to be leaving Israel and never coming back to live there. I did return once to work, but that trip was even more unreal because it landed me back in Boston two days before 9/11.

Thus whenever I hear the word “passage,” I remember the journey back to the United States, I recall leaving behind everything I’d accumulated during the 9 years I lived there. Some of it came back, but most didn’t. It made Israel a trip that lost its reality quickly. I had no photographs or items that meant something special. My friends were gone and I only saw just one of them ever again.

In less time than I had spent living there, it became distant, misty, and unreal. And now, with all the changes that have occurred, it is even further away than it was before.