THE FINEST HOUR – Marilyn Armstrong

I’m not talking about when Churchill saved England from the Nazi invaders and got their army out of Dunkirk. It’s three o’clock in the afternoon, the finest hour for retired people to have an appointment. The next almost as fine hour is two o’clock.

Why? Because even if you got up late, there’s enough time for coffee, a shower, a check of your e-mail, a pat on the heads of the dogs. It’s before rush hour. Or, as we put it, traffic will probably not be stuck in the middle of Milford.

It isn’t a huge town, but there’s only one road running through. Route 16, which is the only road from where we live and at least three other towns are located, to anywhere. There literally is no other road.

Route 16 is not exactly a road, either. Sixteen is a route. This means it is made up of a bunch of different roads each of which has its own name but are part of the same route.

Exactly what is it a route to? First, it was a horse and carriage route on which they hauled produce, lumber, whatever. Then it was a mail route from out here all the way through Boston out into Lynn and points east. Mostly, for us, it’s the only way to get there from here.

To no one’s surprise, everything you need is either on Route 16 or just off Route 16 on a small side road. Regardless, you have to drive the same good old route 16 to get there.

Upwards toward Route 98

It’s a middle-sized town with one road (Main Street, in town) in each direction. There is parking on both sides of the road. Biggest hospital in the area. Doctors offices. Veterinary hospitals. Restaurants. Medical buildings. Grocery stores and the occasion mini-mall.

Footsteps — mine — from house to road

Everything is on that route. I get tired thinking about it, especially today when we are having torrential rains and our driveway looks more like what it used to be — a seasonal stream.

Which was paved to become our driveway and the driveway of everyone on the south side (downslope) of Route 98.

A repaved driveway would be a really good thing!

It was one of the more brilliant moves by the idiot who built this house. I am told they actually ran him out-of-town eventually, but before that, he built a lot of houses in really awkward, inconvenient locations.

Like ours.

As you can imagine, it took us a while to add enough French drains, sumps, pumps, et al to keep our basements from filling up with water every time we had heavy weather, snow melt-off, or both.

For me, then, getting a 3 pm appointment in Upton — on the other side of Milford, but slightly north — is a winner. The receptionist knew it, too. She said “I think I have the perfect appointment for you. How about 3 pm on Friday, the 31st?”

“The WINNER!” I said with enthusiasm. It just doesn’t get better than that. Even on a snow day, it’s perfect because by that time, unless we’ve had a major blizzard, they have finally cleared the roads. Even ours.

Three pm. Forget the blue hour. Think three o’clock. It the senior circle’s finest time to do absolutely everything.

MYSTICAL, MAGICAL SOCKS – Marilyn Armstrong

Two years ago, I order 30 pairs of socks in all different colors and patterns. I realized, finally, that I was down to a bare two or three pairs and I wasn’t even sure they were real pairs, but they were at least more or less the same color.

Around the same time, I also bought a lot of underwear on the theory that we wouldn’t have to do laundry nearly as often if I didn’t run out of underwear. Oh, and I refilled Garry’s sock and underwear collection too.

socks without partners cartoon

Yesterday, Garry did laundry. My 30 pairs of socks have shrunk to about half a dozen pairs. I swear to you not only am I careful to keep pairs together, but Garry is passionate about matching them up. And keeping them clean.

Which isn’t always easy because I wear them as slippers and have been known to go outside in socks … not always my best choice.

socks-lost-in-the-dryer

Nonetheless, I realized no matter how much I didn’t want to face the crisis, I had to buy more socks. I found socks on Amazon — 12 pairs for $14.00 and they are all exactly the same. Because I know. We all know.

Socks vanish. No matter how careful you are. No matter how hard you try to keep track of them, over time, attrition will chew at the edges until you have no more than a few days worth of socks in your drawer. You will search that drawer.

Socks-lost-in-space

“Who took my socks?” you cry, but no answer will come to you. They are gone through the black hole in the universe (via your clothes dryer) into which all the single socks are eventually drawn. The mythical land or planet where a single sock can live forever. They are looking down on us and laughing. Because we persist in looking for them. Foolish humans.

Socks-come-back

Garry, despite my assurances that there is nothing more he can do, that socks will go missing regardless, is sure I’m accusing him of sock-knapping. He does not yet understand. There is nothing anyone can do. There are greater forces at work here than mere humans can control.

So this time, I’m ordering 12 identical pairs. As each sock disappears, I can wear it with another lonely sock. Variety is not the spice of life when discussing socks.

HOME AND HUSBAND – Marilyn Armstrong

I really haven’t been getting out there to take pictures. Between Garry’s surgery and the intensely hot, steamy weather, it just hasn’t been all that inviting outside.

Four orchids, still blooming

But, yesterday, because Owen had just hacked down the insanely overgrown forsythia hedge that had fully intertwined with strangleweed and wild grape vines, it was an almost respectable yard.

Still blooming after all these weeks

And then, there was Garry. I was determined to take a picture of him where he didn’t look like he was half asleep.

August woods are the darkest green of the year

Today, when we got to the doctor’s office — 15 minutes early — we were sitting on the steps waiting for them to get back from lunch and I realized Garry looked better than yesterday, so I took a few (three is a few, right?) pictures.

A bright day with temperature nearly 100 (that’s about 38 for you metric folks). Note the missing hedge. You can see the fence!

So this is our life, for the moment. The garden has gone to weeds now that the daylilies are dead. Not to worry because I have a ton more pictures of them, as well as the roses.

Today, Garry heard from our own doctor that he’s doing really well. Now, all he has to do is start to feel well. This is often harder than it seems, especially when medically, you’re doing fine, but all your body wants to do is go back for a very long nap. But his blood pressure is perfectly normal, healing is fine. All the magnets, wires, coils are perfectly placed and he has more hearing in what was thought to be the “dead” ear than anyone thought.

It takes time to feel as good as they (your doctors) say you should feel. Been there. But you get there. It merely takes more time than you think it should. We all want to be “fine” immediately. It doesn’t usually work that way.

I’m sure I took more shots of the orchids which are, remarkably, still blooming happily in their pot by the French doors.

Old wooden lawn chairs in the shade

Life in the hazy, hot, and humid northeast.

STAY AT HOME KIDS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I have a friend who has three daughters, including a set of twins. They are now in their late twenties and early thirties. And they are all back living at home now. I was shocked to hear this.

All three girls have four-year college degrees. All three have full-time jobs. But none can earn enough to live on their own. One of the girls has a one and a half-year-old baby. The mom is no longer with the father, though he is still in the baby’s life. He also works but doesn’t earn enough to contribute to his daughter’s support.

What is going on here? What a tragedy, that middle class, educated working, young people can’t afford to live on their own without their parents’ support. It can’t be good for twenty and thirty-somethings to be living with their parents. It’s infantilizing and demoralizing. There also doesn’t seem to be any prospect for them to move out in the near future. This set up is not necessarily great for the parents either, especially if they want to retire at some point.

Starting wages today don’t seem to be high enough to pay for a home and even minimal living expenses. At least in New England, where I live. And this is even true with a college degree. Part of the problem may be that kids leave college with heavy debts that contribute to their financial dependence on their parents. So, it’s a vicious cycle.

And if you have a baby, the financial situation becomes exponentially worse!

My friend’s daughters are lucky that their parents can afford to support them. And that they didn’t already downsize their home. The kids contribute to the household, but not significantly. What will happen when my friend and her husband want to retire? They probably won’t be able to.

My friend is also lucky that she can work part-time from home. So, with the help of the other girls, they don’t have to pay for daycare or other childcare. This makes a big difference, financially. I know young people who pay a large percentage of their annual income on childcare – just so they can continue to work. This is also a travesty.

I don’t have any earth-shattering insights or solutions to any of these problems. I just got to see first hand what this economy and this society can do to young adults and their retirement age parents.

I’ve read about this phenomenon, but things affect you differently when people you know are involved. I can now put a face on this problem. It’s no longer an abstract issue, but a personal story. I’m shocked, appalled and depressed.

What will happen to whole generations? What will happen to our society? This is our future. And it looks pretty bleak.

A FEW MORE DAYLILIES – Marilyn Armstrong

Flower of the Day – Daylilies

They are beginning to wilt a bit. There are more buds, so we aren’t going to run out of daylilies quite yet. Nonetheless, when you look at the garden, you can see the difference. Lots more wilted lilies, many of them going to seed.

Nearly perfect daylily

The big mass of red roses is beginning to fade too. But unlike the daylilies, the roses will keep coming back all summer. Not with the same massive blanket-like enthusiasm of this month, but there will still be roses until winter’s frost arrives.

DAILY PROMPTS: SUNSHINE LESSENED BY SUMMER LEAVES IS DAPPLED – Marilyn Armstrong

#FOWC – SUNSHINE LESSENED BY SUMMER

#RDP – CREATES TREES AND PATHS DAPPLED IN LIGHT


I am not confused by the dappling of the paths and lawns. That’s the way the shady part of summertime looks. My problem is entirely grammatical.

Sunshine lessened through summer leaves IS or ARE dappled?

Dappled deck

I keep thinking the “sunshine” is collective and should take “is,” but one of my three grammar fixers will always disagree with me. I was pretty sure I had the whole present tense issue locked up, but as it turns out, it’s more complicated than that.

And then, there’s the lawn …

How does anyone actually learn English when even the “machinery” used to check it can’t figure it out?

And the woods itself …

Getting past the grammatical confusion, I’m glad I took some wondrously leafy photographs last week … or was it just a couple of days ago? Time is fleeing past me so quickly, I don’t know whether I did whatever it was this morning or a week ago.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Lad with dappled unicorn!

Just so you know, there are lots of dappled horses and you can lessen anything that was at one time (or another) bigger. I just don’t know if I have any dappled horses or dogs, though I have ridden and kept many dappled creatures.

DAYLILIES – FLOWERS OF THE DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

Lilies of the Field and Garden

We got all our lilies by digging them up in the woods and from along the road. There were a few in the garden, but there were thousands of them everywhere, so we took some. We also took spiderwort and redistributed Solomon’s Seal from deep shade to more sunlight where they have thrived.

Of all our replanted wildflowers, my favorites remain the daylily. 

They are bright and tall. On a good year — like this one — they stand taller than me. Of course, I’m so short it’s nothing special being taller than me, but you get the point I’m sure.