COLUMBINE BLOOMING – Marilyn Armstrong

Flower of the Day – Columbine Blooming

We had one sunny day and the columbine bloomed. It is still blooming and this, being a relatively long-lived flower, will continue blooming for at least another week.



It’s the end of a not so merry week in this murky month of May.  The weather Gods have not been kind to many people in the United States. I guess we should be happy not to have volcanoes, flowing lava, tsunamis, mud slides, blizzards or raging forest fires.

Think positive, always think positive, a political pal (currently in jail), once preached to me.

I found the shipping place!
In, get receipt and off I go!

The early wake-up had me in a sullen mood from the start. First stop, drop off a package going back to Amazon. We don’t put collars on our dogs when there are no ingredients listed for the product.

Next, the audiologist for a checkup of my hearing aids and a peek inside my ears. We’re already in the consult stage for cochlear implant surgery that may restore my hearing for the first time in my life. The hearing aids are clean, if not pristine, but one of my ears was in trouble.

Park here!
See audiologist here

I already knew the answer without asking.  I’ve done it again!  Over zealous use of Q-Tips with a piece of cotton firmly wedged deep inside my left ear.  My “good” ear.

I could see Marilyn giving me “the look.”It will be her “You’ve done it again” look.  I will have to schlep to the PC for help. If I could my punch myself in the face, I would. My excuse?  My ears were itchy and moist, so I’d probed deeper than I should with the Q-Tip the previous evening. Karma is my  frequent guest.


Not done yet, it’s off to the pharmacy at Walmart. Neither of the pharmacies we normally use had the script, so I had to go to Walmart. But, the staff was friendly and accommodating.  They laughed when I asked if someone could probe my ear for the delinquent piece of cotton.

My self-anger grew darker. I really know better. This is not the first or second time. Me and Q-Tips have a long and complex relationship.

Suspiciously empty parking lot

The parking lot at my PC’s office was unusually empty. Voila!  In and out for me,  I thought.  Wrong, Beano breath.  It was lunch hour. The offices were closed.  I sat for half an hour,  tapping my skull in sync with the “Beavis and Butthead” theme. Agony flipped to ecstasy when my PC showed up, smiled compassionately and quickly flushed out that devious cotton shred. Joy couldn’t mute the stupidity I felt.

The mower guy

Suddenly, I realized I was hungry. Starving. I’d been rushing since I awakened to complete all my errands. I hadn’t even drunk a cup of morning Joe.

Later, I passed some time with a fellow manicuring the lawn across from the medical complex. He burped, recounting his recently finished jumbo sandwich. My stomach repeatedly growled as I watched the landscape-whisperer.

I was drooling when I hit our local Deli.  Naturally,  there was a long line in front of me.  People slowly selecting lottery tickets.  My stomach sounded like an inferno.  Mother of Mercy.  It was longer than any Mickey Spillane-Mike Hammer wait.

Finally,  journey’s end. Back home to Kachingerosa.  The furry kids were full of energy, no doubt anticipating a blue plate luncheon.  They’d wait this day.  The odor of the dog’s playground did little to placate my hunger.

It was hard to face myself today where I was the perp on everything that went sour.

Adios,  Bad hombre!

BEYOND A CENTURY … Marilyn Armstrong

A Photo a Week Challenge: Over 100 Years Old

The Blackstone Canal was dug between 1824 and 1834. It was up and running almost immediately. In fewer than 50 years, the railroad took over and the canal became redundant — just another waterway in a valley full of rivers.

In many areas, the canal and river are one unit and in others, they separate and flow side by side. Where such separation wasn’t possible, locks were added to level the water for barges. You can see tiny canals and huge canals, designed for every kind of barge. The walkways we use were where the horses pulled the barges.

Sometimes, you don’t realize it’s a canal until you realize that it is sided with hewn rocks.

Birds feed there. Kayaks travel along the flat parts of the canal. Fish and turtles live along and in it. It has become another part of the river.

AS DOES THE GARDEN GROW – Marilyn Armstrong

The columbine are starting to bloom and I got pictures, but they aren’t fully open yet. After yesterday’s rain, everything is covered with drops of rain. And it’s pretty muddy.

Bunches more wild strawberries popping up everywhere and the rhododendrons look happy and healthy.

After cutting back the roses, the rhododendrons are looking very happy. It’s amazing how fast everything is growing right now.

Dryopteris filix – Common fern
Lilacs and there are more, but … it’s raining
Flowering cherry near the dam in town

And a few not fully opened Columbine (just a few more days and they will be amazing).

And of course, the deck …


Flowers of my week


Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Barns or Any Dilapidated Buildings

My house is falling down, but I discovered this morning that it is falling down in pieces, not in one solid lump. This is good.

Our shed really is collapsing and Owen is planning to take it down. What we will do with all the stuff inside it, I have no idea, but the roof is so covered with green growth if a branch falls on it, it will cave in.

Our shed does not make much of a picture. You can’t really tell how badly off it is. It looks okay, but it isn’t.

MAY WATER EVER FLOW – Marilyn Armstrong


There’s a lot of wetness when you live in a water shed. It flows over rocks and down the dams. It runs into little rivulets and bigger streams and sometimes, into the old canal. We have some lakes, too, including a very large one that has a Native American name that no one who didn’t grow up in this area can ever pronounce. Webster Lake, for Anglophones.

For valley natives,  it is Lake “Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg” (/ˌleɪk tʃɚˈɡɒɡəɡɒɡ ˌmænˈtʃɔːɡəɡɒɡ tʃəˌbʌnəˈɡʌŋɡəmɔːɡ/). This is a 45-letter alternative title is frequently called the longest place-name in the United States. If there’s a longer one, no one has yet told me what it might be.

It is also one of the longest place-names in any language.

Tall Ships, Boston 2017

I grew up in New York. The city part of the state and the nearest “water” were the docks along the horribly polluted rivers. Thank Pete Seeger for helping fix that so that the Hudson River is no longer so polluted you could actually develop film in the water.

I lived in Queens and if we wanted to see water without someone driving us, we got on our bicycles and rode for a couple of hours to whatever were the nearest docks. There was a tiny little lake right by my high school, though. Beaver Dam. I’m assuming that once upon a time, there were beaver there. I suspect it is gone. It didn’t seem to have any inlets or outlets and that’s usually the end of a body of water.

We never had flowing water locally. No streams, no rivers. We did have some large puddles and named them as if they were lakes, though we knew they were not. Still, they were the only thing we had, so we had to make do.

If we wanted an ocean, someone’s mother or father had to drive us to the beach. Mine was not a beach-going family. My mother had cancer in her 40s. Too much radiation, so she could not go into the sun. When she had no choice, she wore caftans and huge hats. They hadn’t invented sun-screen yet, but later, she would wear that, too.

Sunset at the marina

I liked the beach because my friends liked the beach. I loved the ocean itself and that crazy feeling of standing in the oceans, feeling the sand moving under your feet as the wave pulled out before the next rolled in. Otherwise, I never liked sand. It always got into places I thought sand didn’t belong.

Woodcleft Canal, Freeport

I remember burning my feet trying to walk barefoot to the car through the parking lots of Jones Beach. We didn’t have flip-flops then. I don’t think anyone had invented them. I don’t remember owning sandals until I was an adult.

I liked the ocean off-season better. I liked the mist on the ocean and an empty beach. No umbrellas, no couples rubbing each other with oil. No endless smell of hot dogs.

Those were the days when everyone wanted a tan. I never tanned. I got more and more freckled though and you’d think eventually they would meld into a tan, but nope. Once, I get a slightly orange hue to my skin I thought was my best tan ever. Garry — to whom I was then married — laughed hysterically.

He used to have a contest with another Black friend about who could get the blackest over the course of the summer. Garry never won because there’s a lot of red in his skin. Probably those Irish grandparents, but Michael got really dark. I was this ghostly little thing and any attempt I made to get a golden tan resulted in days of pain and peeling.

Eventually, I gave up. I did get a sort of tan the year we went for our first cruise. Garry talked me into spending a couple of hours a week at a tanning salon so at least I would look tanned. It turns out those fake tans don’t keep you from burning, by the way. I got a terrible burn on a beach in Haiti even though I was wearing a t-shirt AND a hat — and had that fake tan. Water reflects sun upwards. Live and learn.

Local tame goose looking for something to eat

Those tans weren’t “real” anyway. They faded fast, but at least they weren’t as ugly as the spray. I did try one of those and it looked like I’d been heavily involved with orange paint I could not wash off.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Living here, in the valley with the rivers, dams , waterfalls plus all the woodland … this suits me well. The rivers are shady and cool. Not for swimming, mostly.

There is either a minor pollution problem dating back to when the Blackstone was one of the most polluted rivers in the world … or there are so many snapping turtles if you treasure your toes, don’t dangle your bits in the water.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

That’s okay. It’s great watching the herons, eagles, egrets, geese, ducks, swans and other waders pluck fish from the water. It’s sad when we have a drought and all you can see is mud and you wonder what has become of all those turtles and fish … and where have the eagles and the herons flown.

Yet the fish and the turtles and the water fowl come back, despite the bitter cold and the endless winter storms. They make new life and so far, the world spins on in the valley.


Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge:

May 13, 2018

I’ve taken a fair number of odd pictures this months. I’m not sure what one might consider “oddball.”

As Alice might have said: “Curiouser and Curiouser!”

Matryoshka – Russian Wooden Nesting Dolls

I bought this set of dolls at a local craft show for what I thought was a song. Since then, having seen many others of these, I was right. These Russian nesting dolls are beautifully painted … and if I were to unpack them, there are eight of them inside her.

Atop the shelves in the living room.
In close communion with a particularly beautiful Navajo bowl.
Other Stuff

If Van Gogh lived here, he might have painted my sunflowers thusly.

Highly zoomorphic