A WALK IN THE WOODS: A SYMBOLIC JOURNEY WITH PICTURES – Marilyn Armstrong

There used to be a game we played. Not so much a game as a mental imaging exercise. I originally heard it in the 1960s when I was in college. I was told it wasn’t psychology, but rather drew on symbolism, images out of mythology and folklore. And, of course, our subconscious.

If you feel inclined, come along with me. The meanings, to the degree I understand them, are at the bottom of the page after the photo gallery. I’m pretty sure if you Google this, you’ll find other versions.

1. Imagine you are going to take a walk in the woods. What kind of day is it (sunny, cloudy, raining, warm, cold, summer, winter, autumn, spring)? It can be anything, whatever you see.

2. There is a path ahead of you. Describe the path (open and clear, full of rocks and other hazards, overgrown, etc.).

3. What is the woods like? Pine? Oak? Lots of shrubs? Does the sun filter through the trees??

4. As you walk along the path, you see a structure. What is it? It can be any kind of structure — house, shed, ruin, church, modern — anything. Describe it, please. Does anybody live there? Are they home? Do you go inside? How do you feel about the place?

5. Now it’s time to leave the house. You are back on the path and you come to a body of water. What kind of water (stream, river, ocean, lake, puddle, creek, swamp, etc.). You need to get to the other side. How do you cross the water? (Let your imagination roam free!)

6. Having crossed the water, you rejoin the path. As you stroll or stride along the path, you look down and see a cup. What does it look like? Do you pick it up? Keep it or not?

7. Further down the path, you spy a bear. What is the bear doing? What do you do about the bear?

8. You have passed the bear and you have walked a distance until you come to a wall. What does the wall look like? Can you see over it? Do you know (or can you see) what is on the other side of the wall?

What it means? This is what I learned. If you know another interpretation, you are welcome to tell me about it. I’ve been trying to find out the source of the “walk” for a very long time. Most of my adult life, actually.

1. The walk is life and the day is how you see life — dark or bright, shadowy or sunny. All that you see is part of your vision of life. Whether or not there are obstacles in the path or the path is clear are also parts of it. The nature of the woods is also descriptive of how you see life.

Little house and big maple tree

2. The structure is your childhood. Many people see a storybook house, gingerbread or the woodsman’s cottage out of Hansel and Gretel. Some people find it terrifying. Some people go inside and don’t want to leave.

3. The body of water indicates how you feel about the challenges in your life. The body of water can be just a puddle you step across or an ocean that requires you conjure up an ocean liner to cross. It can be deep and dark, scary or someplace lovely into which you want to wade or swim. How difficult (or easy) it is to cross the water talks about how you feel about overcoming obstacles you {did, are, will} face.

4. The bear equals responsibility. Some people run, others freeze. Some people make friends with the bear and it accompanies them for the rest of the walk. It’s all in your imagination and there are no limits.

5. The wall is death. The most common things to see on the other side are a beautiful mansion (heaven?) … more forest (reincarnation or just a continuation?) … the ocean … One guy saw a burning forest (ouch). What you see is what you see and it may not be what you expect.

I have done this several times at different ages and stages of my life. My answers were different each time, reflecting my current self and shows development. What little I know of this and its origins makes me suspect it was created during the 1800s.

I hope you enjoyed your stroll.

IT’S NATIONAL SQUIRREL DAY! – Marilyn Armstrong

That’s right. It’s National Squirrel Day, a special day designed to honor the furry and honorable squirrels of our world.

And here are some pictures to prove it!

SQUIRREL APPRECIATION DAY

On January 21st, Squirrel Appreciation Day recognizes a critter some consider a pest and others see as just fascinating. The creator, Christy Hargrove, is a wildlife rehabilitator in North Carolina and is affiliated with the Western North Carolina Nature Center.  According to Christy, “Celebration of the event itself is up to the individual or group — anything from putting out extra food for the squirrels to learning something new about the species.”

According to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System of North America (ITIS), there are over 200 species of squirrels.  Some of the oldest squirrels categorized on the list are the nocturnal arrow flying squirrel (validated in 1766) and the Black Giant (validated in 1778).  Of all these species, they fall into three types.

Three Types of Squirrels

Ground squirrels, such as the thirteen-lined ground squirrel, the rock squirrel, California ground squirrel, and many others blanket the prairies and deserts of North America. Often causing damage, they often earn the name of pest, and they are labeled rodents. Predators enjoy them as a tasty morsel, too. As a result, they work together to protect themselves. Their only protection is to flee!

Tree squirrels make their homes in the trees. However, they also find their nesting materials and food on the ground and above. Making their homes in cities and the countryside in nations all around the globe, these familiar backyard and park residents help themselves to your birdfeeders or snag your snack right from your hands if they have become practiced enough!

The third type of squirrel leaps farther than the others with flaps of skin between the legs. Flying squirrels glide greater distances giving the impression they can fly. When they jump from tree to tree or building to building, they spread their legs wide and float on the breeze escaping predators or perhaps other snarky tree squirrels with a nut to pick with them.

OBSERVING #SquirrelAppreciationDay

Learn more about these fascinating creatures. Tell us your favorite squirrel story or share a picture of your squirrel visitors.

  • Set up a squirrel feeder and watch them as they feed. Can you identify what kind they are?
  • Go to a park and watch the squirrels as they travel from tree to tree. How many are there?
  • Squirrel watching is similar to bird watching and nearly as fascinating. Study their behavior and note their differences.
  • Watch a squirrel documentary to learn more.

Use #SquirrelAppreciationDay to post on social media.

OPPOSITIONS IN COLOR – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Opposing Colors

As often as we say “opposites attract, ” mostly we are not talking about colors. But opposites do attract, though they may not stay together for long periods.

On the color wheel, the opposites are:

  • Blue/Orange
  • Yellow/Purple
  • Red/Green

I don’t think I’ve ever worn a combination of blue and orange or yellow with purple. Back when we had autumn, red and green were a popular combination and always are at Christmas.

Let me see what I can find!

Bluebird on the fence – the perfect blue and orange combination!

And then, there is are bluebirds, a perfect natural combination of orange (some say red, but it really IS orange). What man may forego, nature brings perfectly to life!

Bluebird

And finally, red and green!

The shed from the side

Mumford Dam in October

The Blackstone River in the fall

And do it goes! Colors in nature and in our little world. Here’s to a vastly improved decade!

SHARING MY WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World – 12-25-19


QUESTIONS FOR THE WEEK 12-24-19

Do dogs ‘talk’ (communicate) with their own species?   (credit to Marilyn of Serendipity)   And not just on Christmas Eve, as the old legend says all animals do.   I know that Ziggy ‘speaks’ husky (apparently) even though he’s not a husky, he’s a terrier/Chihuahua mix.   The movie the other night proved it, as there were huskies in the show, and when they barked, Ziggy got excited and stared at the TV screen with his head cocked to one side, and barked at the screen.  

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/72843/how-talking-animals-became-christmas-legend

Today we vacuumed the living room and changed the sofa covers. We moved all the things out of the way, including the step stool Bonnie uses to get up on the sofa. Some hours later, I was doing something on the computer and Bonnie was barking and whining at me. She barks a lot anyway, but she never whines.

It was too early for dinner — even for her — so I finally asked her “What’s the matter? What do you want?”

She walked over to her step stool and walked back and BARKED at me.

I put the stool back where it belongs and she happily jumped up on the sofa. I could almost hear her saying, “Those dumb two legs. They never understand a word I say!”

Have you ever had to work on Christmas Day?

No, but Garry and my son have worked on many Christmases and Thanksgivings. A lot of people work on holidays. Reporters (newspaper, television, radio, et al), retail workers, nurses, doctors, firefighters, police, all first responders.  And many others. Everyone in the health professions knows that the phone can ring any time, day or night on any day of the year. For that matter, so does every reporter.

I think the people who believe NO ONE should work on the holidays might re-think the concept should they or someone dear to them become ill on a holiday. If no one is working, then all the hospitals are closed. There are no ambulances. No drivers, no medics, no nurses, no doctors. I guess all the people who were already in the hospital just get to stay in the big, dark, empty building until the holiday is over? I hope they leave them some extra food and water.

It’s part of living in the modern world. Also, when you take those types of jobs, you KNOW you will have to work during some holidays. It really IS part of the job.

If someone gifts you something that you immediately loathe, do you pretend to really like it anyway or are you brutally honest about your opinion?

There’s no need to be rude. Smile, say thank you, and re-gift whatever it is next Christmas. You may hate it, but someone will love it.

Which popular drink, found during the Christmas season most often, is called “milk punch?”

Eggnog? Milk and scotch?

How many ghosts show up during “A Christmas Carol?” 

It depends on how you count. Three ghosts of Christmas plus Marley equals four. Do you count the dream where Tiny Tim is dead?

Are you all about the holly and jolly or more about remembering the alleged ‘true’ meaning of Christmas?    

I’m not Christian. It’s your holiday. I’m glad to partake of it, but it has no deep meaning for me. By the way, Jesus Christ was JEWISH. He was a rabbi. He would be celebrating Chanukah.

Please share a memory or thought about the holiday season if you’d like, whatever kind of celebration you may observe. 

Not buying expensive presents has really improved our holidays and made it possible to go into the New Year without months of debt from last Christmas. I buy small gifts for close family and Garry and I go shopping after the holidays if we need anything and have money to spend.

It works very well. I recommend it. The whole thing of going deeply into debt to buy a lot of gifts which, as often as not, no one needs or wants puts a huge strain on families. There’s no need for it. If it’s the thought that counts, maybe we should put more thought into the gifts and less money. That could work out for everyone.

VIBRANT COLORS — BIRD STYLE! – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge:
Vibrant Colors


It was a brilliant day for the birds today. The most brilliantly colored of the birds is the cardinal, and for once, I got a lot of pictures of both male and female cardinals — and a few other birds 😀

 

A BIG DAY FOR BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong

It snowed last night. We had no idea how much we’d get because one minute they’d say “just a dusting” and the next they’d say “maybe five or six inches” and finally someone would admit they didn’t know, but something was going to happen.

I sort of hoped nothing would happen, but it’s and early winter, so I was pretty sure we’d have snow. I was hoping it wasn’t going to be a HUGE amount of snow, but that’s not coming till next week.

Flying!

When I woke this morning, it had definitely snowed and every bird in the woods was diving on the feeders. It was earlier than I usually get up, but the birds were enticing. When it’s cold and snowy, they forget to hide from me. They just want food and more food. I believe they eat a great deal when it’s cold and that’s how they survive the weather.

Taking off

I took a few pictures. More than a few. I burned through a whole battery and had to insert a new one. Usually, the birds leave while I’m changing batteries. This time, though, they were too hungry to go anywhere.

A Titmouse and a Flying Chickadee

So I got some great shots of Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal, Mr. and Mrs. Downy Woodpecker, Tufted Titmice, Chickadees, Carolina Wrens and Chipping Sparrows … among others. And a squirrel who snuck in for a snack. For once, I think the overwhelming flock of birds won the day and he left pretty quickly.

Getting wings ready to fly

But Garry said the squirrels were chowing down all morning, so maybe they finally got tired and went home for a nap.

Woodpecker and Titmouse

ELDERLY INSPIRATION – Marilyn Armstrong

We are them. We are full of inspiration. We want to fix the world, end the Trump reign. Force congressional representatives and senators to do their jobs. No, really, that’s what we want.

The problem is the “elder” part of the title. We did this already. I did in personally with letters and protests and all that collegiate and post-college stuff. Garry did it on the air, with cameras, and the world watching.

Since retiring, we’ve been doing it online. Writing and urging people to vote. Warning people how dangerous not voting will be. Discussing issues. Making fun of The Bad Guys in DC. Personally, in conversation. Rationally, in words.

And maybe, after all this … just maybe we’ve gotten a few people here and there to take the issue seriously. Unfortunately, quite a few of them are not American and while they wholehearted agree, they can’t vote here. Oh well.

I’ve had old friends — from the south and that’s not a small thing — tell me that all reporters lie.

When I pointed out my husband was a reporter and trust me, he never got up in the morning and went to work for the purpose of deluding the public, they went silent, finally responding with “Does it really matter?”

You mean … DOES TRUTH MATTER?

When the truth stops mattering, nothing else matters.

So we are inspired and I’m pretty sure we are going to remain inspired, but unfortunately, we aren’t getting any younger. I’m very glad to see so many fresh, new political faces. We desperately need them because the battle that is building is going to need a force behind it that isn’t old and tired.

Younger people must stand up, be counted, and become involved in the NOW. The world is forever changing, rarely for the better. We — my generation of boomers and pre-boomers — didn’t start this fire. Nor did our parents or grandparents.

Time for an anthem:

WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE


Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio

Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe

Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, “The King and I” and “The Catcher in the Rye”

Eisenhower, Vaccine, England’s got a new queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc

Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Dacron
Dien Bien Phu falls, “Rock Around the Clock”

Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn’s got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland

Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Krushchev
Princess Grace, “Peyton Place”, trouble in the Suez

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac
Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, “Bridge on the River Kwai”

Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball
Starkweather, homicide, children of thalidomide

Buddy Holly, “Ben Hur”, space monkey, Mafia
Hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go

U2, Syngman Rhee, payola, and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, “Psycho”, Belgians in the Congo

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Hemingway, Eichmann, “Stranger in a Strange Land”
Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion

“Lawrence of Arabia”, British Beatlemania
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson

Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex
JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline
Ayatollah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

“Wheel of Fortune”, Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide
Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, crack, Bernie Goetz
Hypodermics on the shores, China’s under martial law
Rock and roller cola wars, I can’t take it anymore

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
But when we are gone
Will it still burn on, and on, and on, and on

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it.

Songwriter: Billy Joel
We Didn’t Start the Fire lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

No one living today — or even during the past couple of hundred years — started the fire. Regardless, each person of every generation shares an obligation to stop looking for someone to blame and try to make this world better. Not only for yourselves but for every child who will come.

Do it for every child, all races, any religion or none.
Do the best you can for the humans of planet Earth.
Before the big giant head sends us all home.

If you don’t, there will come a time and I think sooner rather than later when there’s nothing remaining to be done. No number of inspired elders or youngers will matter by then. Do what you can while you have a world that can be repaired. It’s not going to wait much longer … if it is waiting. I certainly hope it’s still on hold!

A TINY CHURCH – Marilyn Armstrong

It’s a tiny church hidden behind houses in Amherst. If you don’t know to look, you would never find it. About the size of my living room and dining room combined, the cross on top is a bit crooked. Such a small church, such a long history.

The Goodwin Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church is a historic church on Woodside Avenue in Amherst, Massachusetts.

The church, built in 1910, is located down a narrow lane in the otherwise residential neighborhood. It is about 25 feet by 50 feet, styled in the Craftsman style popular at the time of its construction. It remains essentially the same since being built.

The church is named for Moses Goodwin, a local resident and parishioner. It was the second building for the African-American congregation that occupies it. The first — built in 1869 on a nearby lot — was demolished in 1917. It continues to be a social and religious center for Amherst’s African-American community.

Zion Church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.

BIRDS AND THE FIRST SNOW WITH ONE SQUIRREL — Marilyn Armstrong

This is not the first major storm on the second day of December. There was a blizzard in Boston in December in the mid-1990s. The thing is, when we got significant early snow, it generally means that it’s going to be a rough winter. A snowy winter. Last year was, as we say around here, a piece of cake.

Not this year.

Oh how much I want to be wrong about this. And, you never know. We might have a month of fine weather after this. Even two months. It has happened. In terms of weather? If you live around here, EVERYTHING has happened and not just once.

The birds were really hungry today. There were flocks of them surrounding the feeders. I know the squirrels line up in the morning and I let them have the morning to feed, but by lunchtime, it’s time to let the rest of the wildlife have some food. If it were possible to actually reason with the feathery and furry crew, I’d explain that they could share. Squirrels on one feeder, birds on the other.

Sharing!

In fact, I have a picture — something you never see: a Chickadee and a squirrel together on one feeder. If a squirrel and a Chickadee can do it, why can’t our senators and congresspeople be equally reasonable?

THE CHANGING SEASONS NOVEMBER 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong

THE CHANGING SEASONS – NOVEMBER 2019

This is one of the big change months of our calendar. We go from warm late fall days to bitter cold and sometimes snow. We didn’t (praise be!) get snow, but we got a lot of rain. We had one perfect week of Autumn. We used to get a month of it, but times are changing. It arrived late and departed in one night. A lot of trees just dropped their leaves without them even changing color.

But we got Cardinals and our very first Bluebirds. A triumph!

Bluebird and Chickadee

Very pretty Bluebird

Like Su Leslie, I’ve largely retreated emotionally to home and things I have some control over. I try to keep in touch with the world because maybe big things are coming and I hope I’m still here to participate. Meanwhile, I feed the birds — a small thing to help beleaguered creatures — and simultaneously am growing the fattest squirrels in North America.

From the front of the Bluebird

And one day, we had bluebirds!

It’s supposed to snow tomorrow and the news has been full of it. But when they talk about huge snowstorms, they mean nine inches to a foot. I am meanwhile thinking two to three feet or, as you folks say, a meter or more. What we are actually supposed to get is one to three inches, which isn’t snow. It’s a dusting.

It does mean winter really is here. I hope it isn’t really awful. A mild winter would be easier for everyone!

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to Su Leslie’s original post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

BEHOLD THE PINK CACTUS FLOWERS – Marilyn Armstrong

Pink Cactus Flowers – December 1, 2019

The red cactus is still fully in bloom, but now, the pink is taking off too. I think this is the first time they have ever bloomed at the same time.

It was a fairly bright day today. Not sunny, but not dead and gray, either. The flowers bloomed yesterday, but it was such a busy day, I didn’t have time to take any pictures. I caught them today, though. I almost didn’t. I was setting up shots of old family pictures for Garry’s post.

I had pulled the chip and was going to the computer and then I realized the pink cactus look quite glorious, so I went back, picked up the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark I which has the 25mm f1.8 lens on it. It’s not a macro lens, but it gets very close. I replaced the chip in the camera and took a few more pictures.

I have a macro lens, but I like to leave my cameras with a lens on it because by the time I get into sorting lenses, I’ve usually missed the shot … and you can get almost as close with the 25mm (50mm if it was a DSLR) lens and it’s two stops faster. And if I want to take any other picture, it’s the magic “do anything” lens.

You just never know what tomorrow might bring, so take your flowers today.

 

GROWLING AT THE SQUIRRELS – Marilyn Armstrong

I’m sorry no one took pictures this morning before I decided that they’d already knocked off most of the seeds in two 4-1/2-pound feeders. No matter what they think, they are going to have to get at least some of their food somewhere else.

But it was funny. There were two squirrels clinging to each wired feeder and literally, a line of squirrels on the rail of the fence. There must have been at least ten squirrels on the deck and the feeders. There was also a tiny chipmunk on the deck and all the birds waiting in the nearby trees, waiting for me to do whatever I do so they could have a little bit of lunch.

I opened the top of the Dutch door and explained, in my best dulcet tones, that we had already discussed this business of endless eating. They dead-eyed me. I swear they did. They wouldn’t budge. I could hear their little squirrelly brains thinking: “She won’t do anything anyway. All she does is yell at us.” They kept eating while ignoring me.

I opened the screen door and starting growling. I’ve been practicing. Obviously talking to them hasn’t done the job. Growling works for the Duke. It worked pretty well for me except for that one big fat guy who would NOT leave feeder. Then, after dropping the few inches to the railing stared right back at me. For all I know he was growling too.

I finally went out onto the deck and chased him around until he finally gave up and leapt for the nearest tree. I went to get a cup of coffee while he and two of his best buds came back to the feeders. I wasn’t gone longer than a minute or two. Those guys are FAST.

I did some more running around the deck while growling — with a little background help from the Duke himself.

Oh, how much he’d like to join in the festivities. We never do anything really fun and he wanted to come outside and play too. My problem is I’m afraid he’ll try to jump the fence and that’s a long first step. The birds like to dive off the feeders, waiting until they are nearly on the ground before opening their wings, but I don’t think this would work out well for the Duke. It’s that whole “lack of wings” thing.


Actually, I wish someone had videoed me and the squirrels chasing around our 12-foot by 12-foot deck. It’s not a very big deck. It was like one of those 1920s cartoons with the mice and the farmer chasing each other around the kitchen table.

I was trying to figure out if there was a way I could put in a special squirrel feeding station and maybe they’d do their eating over there and let the birds eat … but then I realized they would eat everything in their feeder and when they were finished, they’d be back.

They aren’t going to leave. Ever. If there is food, they will be lining up, wearing their bibs. I hope they bring their own utensils. I wouldn’t want them to be stopped by not having the proper nutcracker!