IT ALL LINES UP – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Saturday: PATTERNS

I like the patterns formed by nature. Rows of trees all lined up. Rows of matching (identical?) houses. Brownstones in the city.

Bricks and angles on Beacon Hill
Saguaro cacti lined up along the edge of the mountains

Rows of boats in the marina. Ripples of waves near the shore. Palm trees all lined up.

 

 

THERE WILL BE PEACE IN THE VALLEY – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Photo Challenge: Peaceful

I live in a peaceful valley and I hope it remains peaceful. We’ve got our share of troubles. Not much work, relatively poor as places to live go. But we live in beauty, sometimes so much so I am amazed that somehow I ended up living here.

Stairway by the falls
Falls in the sunshine
Peace in our valley
Closeup Mumford Dam

Not being religious — or even Christian — I have to admit a great love of Gospel music. This is one of my favorites and it sure does fit the “peaceful” challenge. The singer is Jim Reeves. Elvis also sang it beautifully. I could not find a good quality recording of it. Johnny Cash also sang this very well, but again, the recordings were poor quality. This one is just fine.

IN THE AIR AS SPRING ARRIVES – Marilyn Armstrong

Someone wrote that the weather is perfect for being outside. “Not too hot, not too cold, and the bugs aren’t in full attack mode.” Or something like that. People who don’t live here don’t “get” our bugs.

We don’t just have insects.

We have hordes of insects with jaws and stingers. Tiny ones that get into your eyes and ears and clothing.

Evil ones that carry disease and vicious ones that require trips to the doctor and antibiotics. And of course, the slithery ones that eat your trees for breakfast, lunch, and dinner until they are naked. The trees are naked. The bugs are furry and itchy.

This year, so far, the bugs are “normal.” I see no evidence of returning gypsy moth caterpillars and I just hope that we are back to normal again. Nothing more vicious than mosquitoes and flies seems to be out there, discounting the ever-present ants, of course.

So this is our forest. It has come into bloom. Yesterday, actually. You could watch the leaves unfurl. It isn’t summertime, so I think we are going to get a week or two of real spring, the typically missing season around New England. Not counting that it has been raining three out of every four days.

But otherwise, it’s spring.

FLOWERS AND GETTING LOST – Marilyn Armstrong

Flowers, but lost – FOTD – May 9, 2019

It was a gorgeous, perfect spring day today. Warm and full of bright sunshine. As we left the house this morning (it’s a 2-hour drive into Boston), I noticed that we had squirrels glued to both feeders in the back.

I would normally have gone back to the deck and chatted with the furry feeders, but I was wearing my good clothing.

And there was no time for one of those me versus squirrel conversations.

Pink tulips

I should mention these are pretty much one-way conversation. I talk. The squirrels give me the squirrel eyeball, so I talk some more, and they go back to eating. Eventually, I will open the door, step onto the deck, and stare at them. They then move a little bit — from the feeders to the railing. And stare back at me.

I can hear them thinking “And what are you gonna do about it, huh?”

Magnolias and new leaves along the Mumford River

I quite like squirrels, but I feel that by the time we are approaching midday, they should go back to being tree squirrels and stop being deck squirrels. Is that too much to ask?

We had to leave. It was going to be a long drive and traffic in and out of Boston is heavy. We were 100% sure to get lost, even though the directions appeared to be simple. There’s construction on 146, too. Of course, there has been construction on 146 for the past 19 years, but there’s more now that it has warmed up.

Snowballs along with the steps in the park

It took us almost 2 hours to get there — and we got totally lost in Boston. So did everyone else. As a result, the memorial began an hour late and ended even later. So it was a really long day.

Since we bought our GPS (maybe 2 years ago?), they’ve redesigned almost all the major roads in Boston and completely rebuilt the seaport area. The last time I was there, it was mostly vacant lots and empty warehouses and a few party cruise ships. So our GPS can’t find anything. Moreover, the directions which we got from the hotel (via Google) said to get off Route 93 at Exit 20, then follow the signs to the Seaport Cruise Terminal.

Snowballs and a wooden bench

Except there were NO signs. We wound up at the airport. We did a couple of loops at Logan, including a round trip through the “Return your rental car here,” except we were in our own car and we couldn’t find anyone who knew how to find the Seaport Hotel.

Massachusetts is infamous for NOT putting up signs. I don’t know whether we are just too cheap to pay for signs, or we assume if you don’t know where you are, you shouldn’t be there.

The park at the Mumford Dam

It turned out that not only did we get lost, everyone got lost. Since this is a big expensive hotel — and NOT brand new, either — the complete lack of signs was infuriating. We almost gave up and went home and might have, but we didn’t know how to get home, either.

Finally, we were stopped by a police detective. He had a gold badge but was in street clothing, so we assumed he was a detective. He pulled us over. Garry rolled down his window. Were we going to get a ticket too? Are the fates so against us?

“Are you guys lost?” he asked. Were we that obvious?

“YES,” we cried in unison. “We are SO lost.”

Flowers and the falls

He led us to the hotel and he recognized Garry — and knew we were going to the “Tom Ellis Memorial.” I was never more grateful to see a police officer.

We knew we had to be near it. We were at the docks, so how far could we be from the Seaport Hotel? It turned out to be about a mile. Make a right, take the Ted Williams Tunnel and when you can’t go any further, make another right.

Azaleas along the path

It was good to be there, though. Many people, including Garry, shared memories and since we are all — how shall I put this — an older group of folk?

We got to do a little crying, shared some laughter about stuff no one else remembers. We saw people we rarely see except at reunions and funerals. Remember when we used to meet at weddings? It was good to hug friends, notice that although everyone looks older, I look even older than they do.

We left Boston exactly at rush hour. Three and a half hours for the homeward journey. I spent a lot of time admiring trees.

Please enjoy the photographs. They are from Tuesday which was every bit as beautiful as today, but we were outside with cameras.

SPELL CHECKING AND WORDPRESS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Semantics

It’s just a matter of semantics.

Since they got back to me from WordPress to tell me they had fixed the “Settings” function in the Reader “Manage” area, I said, “Thank you very much.” After all, they fixed it in one day. It’s a miracle!

Then I said a lot of people were really upset about the removal of the spell checker.

What they said is that almost everyone “up there” uses the free version of Grammarly (I have been using it for a while, too) — and that all browsers include free spell checkers with the browser. Of course, they seem to be unaware that if you are using an iPad or a phone, there might not BE a spell checker in there, but that was their explanation.

A lot of water pouring over the Mumford Dam right now. Another picture to keep us from losing it.

If you are on any browser, from Safari to Windows to Opera — any of them — all have spell checkers, usually somewhere in the “Language” section of the settings. My Google checker only works sporadically, possibly because when Grammarly is working, it decides to not bother. What I did count on from the WordPress spellchecker was for typos — sort of the “last outpost” before publishing.

I suppose this is truly a  matter of semantics since all spell checkers are free, assuming you are working with some standard browser. I don’t think Grammarly works on a phone, by the way (I could be wrong), but there is probably something that does work.

Spring comes to the Blackstone Valley. It has nothing to do with spelling or checking, but it’s pretty and I thought we needed a few moments of pretty.

My real objection is that they do this stuff without ever consulting their customers — us — or even sending a note to tell us about the changes they have made so we don’t get ambushed.

There are a lot of people who want the spell checker back. It’s an open issue, but I don’t know if they are going to do it or not. I see their point, which is valid, but stupid because really, how much extra work was it to just leave the spell checker there? Not everyone is equally good at dealing with browser settings. In fact, many people aren’t entirely clear that there ARE browser settings.

Snowballs and the Mumford dam in “downtown Uxbridge.”

They do have an explanation in their huge folders full of information about WordPress. The problem is that although these explanations are good, many of them are old and based on everything from XP to Windows 10 and various versions of Safari and Android built in there too. It can be difficult to figure out which of these many choices is what you need for your equipment.

Since I already use Grammarly and I upgraded (still free, but with a few extra perks to include awkward grammar). The grammatical fixes both aggravate me and yet can also improve the phrase, so I never know whether I’m going to be annoyed or pleased.

Semantics indeed!

The little footbridge in the merry month of May by the dam on the Mumford

Anyway, Grammarly is free and it does handle punctuation better than spell checkers. We tend to be sloppy about punctuation, especially online. I know I use a lot of dots and dashes rather than correct punctuation. You can turn that part of it off. Actually, I had to make a separate installation to make that piece work  and it is called “Ginger.” Also free.

However, the simplistic WordPress version is gone. Maybe they will put it back, maybe not. But it was intentionally removed.

The little canal along the Mumford

Wouldn’t it have been a nice touch to tell us? Not just do it, but inform us what’s going on?

Spelling isn’t usually the problem anyway. Most of us can spell reasonably well and can look it up in Google if we can’t. The problem is typos and repetitive statements from too much cutting and pasting — and leaving pieces behind.

So that’s it, kids.

We were ambushed. Again. But at least they fixed those settings and we urgently needed that particular fix.

THE CANAL FLOWS PAST US – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Friday: CANAL

We live in the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor which is sort of like a national park but without the funding. That’s the Blackstone Valley for you. Incredible historic areas which are unique to this continent.

Little bridge and locks over a tiny canal

Mills and a river with many canals and locks that rolls along for miles by the river. Sometimes, the river and the canal are one unit. When the water gets rough, the two parts divide into two portions, one having locks to allow barges to deal with waterfalls and white water, the other just the river. Uxbridge has one of the larger sections of a free-flowing canal.

Canal and Blackstone River where they separate and become two streams.

In Worcester, they actually buried the canal under its streets. Worcester is an ugly little city that is always trying to dress up like a real city and never succeeds. Maybe because of its history of putrefaction, factories, river pollution, sewage pollution and some of the ugliest architecture I’ve ever seen anywhere.

Along the diagonal of the canal

Perhaps NOT burying the canal and polluting the river might have made them a more attractive location. We tried to buy a really lovely house up there, but no bank would finance it. It wasn’t that the house wasn’t a beauty. It was glorious and for us, cheap. But the banks wouldn’t finance anything up there. They said: “Buy somewhere else.”

And that is how we wound up in The Valley. By the river and the canal.

Steps to the canal

You cannot live in this valley and be further than a quarter of a mile from the river, a tributary, a stream, pond, or a canal. We have more parks than grocery stores and banks combined. We have herons, swans, ducks, geese, and about a million (or more) snapping tortoises in the river. Also, trout and baby trout.

The canal in summer

Finally, fishing is allowed in many places and sometimes, even swimming. Personally, I’m not swimming anywhere near where those snapping tortoises are hanging. I value my toes.

And the river and bridge in winter

This is a beautiful place to live. A little light in the culture department, but if nature does it for you, this is a great place to live.

And in the autumn …

And we do have the country’s first free public library in the middle of town. Just so you know, we used to be a bit snazzier!

Blackstone Canal

THE GREAT OUTDOORS, NEW ENGLAND VERSION – Marilyn Armstrong

A Photo a Week Challenge: The Great Outdoors

We live in rural Massachusetts, but it’s hard to think of it as “the great outdoors.”

There’s something a bit enclosed about New England. Trees and stone fences. No big open areas, but smaller sections. Fields, valleys, rivers, lakes … and an amazing Atlantic coast. We are less grand than the west but cozier. Greener.

Less grand than the west, but friendlier. And we get more than enough snow to make up the difference!

The cows in the meadow
The last of the woods, now bare
Vermont mountains
Roaring dam in Blackstone
Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong
River Bend in early winter
Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong –Winter at home