I have a lot of stuff to do right now. Doctor stuff, computer stuff, promises to keep, books to read because I owe reviews to publishers.  There’s not nearly enough time in my day to do it all and I have fallen way behind on most of the stuff I usually do for Serendipity. Lucky for me it’s October and there are lots of pictures to post, otherwise, there wouldn’t be much here, either.


I’m going to have to delete a pile of notifications. I’ll never get to them. Please accept my apologies. The “JUST two hands and one head … ” rule applies. If I add one more thing to my “to do” list, I’ll disintegrate into a mass of ones and zeroes and be permanently sucked into some virtual reality.

At least I’m still managing to write a bit. It’s going to be a while, but I’ll be back as soon as I can dig myself out of this hole I’m in.



Like the flowers before the spring? Or the Resistance during the big war? Or, maybe, the trains that rumble underneath most major cities.

drone spy

These days, it often means “hidden” as it “off the grid.” Not discoverable in the usual ways. Without an electronic footprint in the virtual universe. And good luck to you in achieving it. Got a Facebook account? Twitter? Snapchat? Do you blog or comment on others’ blogs? Do you use email? How about a credit card?

I’m not sure I was ever underground. I certainly never went to any lengths to keep my life a secret or hide whatever I was doing. As soon as there was an Internet, I was on it. The price of admission to the virtual world, the online society is personal privacy. Not every single bit of your privacy.


To the best of my knowledge, what we do and say in the privacy of our homes and cars remains there, barring some blabbermouth posting it somewhere. Otherwise, the minute you sign on up for your first social media account, you are in the net, on the grid, part of the web, and fair game for every organization who’d like a piece of you.

Is it annoying? Yes. Is it inevitable? Definitely.

You can rant, rail, whine, and moan about how the government is watching you and you would probably be correct. They are. They will. They always have done, only now, they can find you much more easily. Computers and cell phones have made spying on citizens a whole lot simpler.

And, of course, advertisers are targeting you. Scammers will find you.

Wailing and gnashing of teeth notwithstanding — what did you think was going to happen when you put your life online and made it public?



Photographs: Garry Armstrong

I don’t hate hunting season because I cried when hunters killed Bambi’s mother. Though I did cry and I personally can’t shoot things even if I like the way they taste roasted with some rosemary and garlic. No, I hate hunting season because the people with the guns are not nearly careful enough about not shooting near homes and other populated areas.


Every night between now and the middle of November, I hear the guns. Bang. Bang. Bang. I worry every time my dogs are outside and I continue to worry until they come home and no one has a hole somewhere they shouldn’t.

I always will remember,
’twas a year ago November,
I went out to hunt some deer
On a mornin’ bright and clear.
I went and shot the maximum the game laws would allow,
Two game wardens, seven hunters, and a cow.
I was in no mood to trifle,
I took down my trusty rifle
And went out to stalk my prey.
What a haul I made that day.
I tied them to my fender, and I drove them home somehow,
Two game wardens, seven hunters, and a cow.
The law was very firm, it
Took away my permit,
The worst punishment I ever endured.
It turned out there was a reason,
Cows were out of season,
And one of the hunters wasn’t insured.
People ask me how I do it,
And I say, “there’s nothin’ to it,
You just stand there lookin’ cute,
And when something moves, you shoot!”
And there’s ten stuffed heads in my trophy room right now,
Two game wardens, seven hunters, and a pure-bred Guernsey cow.


I don’t object to hunting on principle, at least not if you eat what you kill. Trophy hunting makes me queasy and killing endangered species should be a felony. But so should polluting the air and water. Let’s be fair. Anyone and everyone who is working industriously to destroy our planet for a few extra bucks or so they can hang a head or antlers on their wall? They need to experience suffering.

Otherwise … if you hunt, aim carefully. Please.


As Michael Valentine Smith used to say, “Waiting is.” Because we are all waiting for something or someone.

Bonnie and Gibbs are waiting for me or Garry to give them their next treat.72-bonnie-scotties-10172016_08


I’m waiting for Garry to rise and shine.

72-Marilyn At Canal-GA-042716_154

It’s my day to see the doctor, so he is waiting for me.

Death cust serv

The guy with the scythe is waiting for all of us … and Halloween is just around the corner!




Share Your World – 2016 Week 42

If you wanted to de-clutter where you live, what room / space would you start with?  (And why, if you’re feel like admitting to it.)

We have been gradually decluttering for several years, but it turns out that two people our age tend to have a LOT of stuff … and if you are me — someone who collects stuff like pottery, dolls, teapots, art — or Garry, who got tons of awards and miscellaneous souvenirs of the many places he’s been and people he met … well … we really have so much stuff. Decluttering is a room by room thing. It’s more of an existential attitude.


Step one is not buying books. They were our downfall in our earlier years. Some people can’t pass a music store. We were helpless in bookstores. We also had to tell everyone in our lives to not give us anything that requires room in a closet, floor space, wall space, or shelf space. Pouncing on anyone who looks or sounds interested with “You can take it with you, please … enjoy it … really … we don’t need it!!”


We have given away thousands of books and I’ve given away or sold hundreds of dolls. I’ve given away half my antique Chinese porcelain and if I could find more people who appreciate it, I’d rehome even more.



I’d love to clean out the room that was my office, but it now mostly a storage area. But I can’t figure out what to do with the stuff that’s in the room. It’s mostly boxes from computers, lenses, cameras … and a couple of empty suitcases that don’t fit in the attic, but I can’t get rid of because that’s our “good” luggage.


Then, there’s the gigantic oak desk that’s full of old tax papers and other stuff that I have no use for, but I’m sure if I get rid of it, I will suddenly realize it was important. Garry’s office is pretty much the same. I think of it as extended storage space.

If you want to remember something important, how do you do it (sticky note on the fridge, string around your finger, etc.), and does it work?


I put everything important in my computer calendar and set up reminders. It also goes on the white board on the refrigerator AND on the paper calendar. Moreover, I tell Garry so at least there’s a chance that one of us will remember. Between one thing and another, we don’t miss much.

If you could create a one room retreat just for yourself, what would be the most important sense to emphasize:  sight (bright natural light, dim light, etc.), hearing (silence, music, fountain, etc.), smell (candles, incense, etc), touch (wood, stone, soft fabrics, etc.), or taste (herbal tea, fresh fruit, etc.)?

My whole house is a retreat. Really, it is. Most important? Comfortable furniture. Secondly? Soft lighting and a lot of art. Painting, pottery, carvings.

72-Window Dressing_01

I love textures, colors, shapes. I don’t understand blank walls. I couldn’t live like that.

If you could interview one of your great-great-great grandparents, who would it be (if you know their name) and what would you ask?

Just where we come from … if anyone knows. I’m not all that fascinated with my personal family history. I know genealogy is a big thing these days, but I really don’t care much. And weirdly, neither does Garry. We are not in step with the rest of the world.


What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

I’m grateful for the gorgeous weather and the amazing autumn we are having. I’m looking forward to more of it!


The phone rings. “ANSWER ME, ANSWER, ME ANSWER ME. URGENT!!!!” but I ignore it. It goes away and there’s no message. Obviously not all that urgent after all.

The dogs want a biscuit. “NOW, NOW, WE ARE STARVING! WE MUST HAVE SOMETHING NOW!” but I take my time, breaking a bigger biscuit into smaller pieces. They eat and are begging for another with the same urgency — as if they had received nothing. If you are a dog, the next biscuit is always an emergency.



The mail arrives. Two envelopes are pink, telling me that they contain URGENT MESSAGES … but they are addressed to “Homeowner.” I think maybe they are exaggerating the urgency.

Everything is urgent, but most of it is not merely not urgent, it’s not even of minor importance. The only mail marked “urgent” is junk mail which I will throw away, likely without opening or reading it. Now that we use “NOMOROBO .com” … those urgent calls from automatic dialers are intercepted after the first ring. The world goes on. Urgency is reduced to a ring and a half, one robot answering another’s call.

If no one is sick, no one needs an immediate trip to the emergency room? It isn’t urgent. The only true urgency in life is getting to the bathroom on time!

Otherwise? It — whatever it is — can wait.



In a recent blog I said that I didn’t think anyone would be interested if I wrote about my views on why my dog barks all the time. The comments to the blog indicated that, in fact, readers are interested in the topic of barking dogs. Apparently the topic hits a nerve, which means that there must be a lot of people who, like us, live with serial barkers.

So, here are my thoughts on why some dogs bark so much. First, their hearing is far more acute than ours. So we have to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are actually hearing something when they suddenly jump up and start barking and howling hysterically. (We have one barker and one howler).


But why do some dogs feel the need to comment on every sound they hear while others don’t?

Some dogs are specifically bred to be guard dogs and protectors. Their DNA literally programs them to alert us to any and all potential threats.


How they define ‘threats’ is a different question. It may just be anything outside the norm for the household. This means that the presence of other dogs, or even squirrels, in the immediate neighborhood could be seen as a potential threat. Cars pulling into my neighbor’s driveway always seems to present a clear and present danger to my dogs.

My husband used to joke that our dogs were actually protecting us from invading intergalactic space aliens. Then he realized that he might have stumbled upon the truth. There may really be space invaders (or ancient demons from the underworld, take your pick) who regularly attempt to take over the earth.


These predators may emit sounds that only dogs can hear. So the late night attempts at world dominion are thwarted, every time, when the evil doers hear the warning barks of the canine earth protectors. The invaders fear these protectors. They may be particularly sensitive to the sounds that dogs emit. They may even be rendered powerless when exposed to the frequencies of dogs’ courageous barks.

So when your dogs wake you at night barking frantically, don’t yell at them. Thank them and pull the covers up over your head.