We finished watching the third 4-1/2 hour piece of “The Lord of the Rings,” extended version last night. Given the weather, I pointed out that we could be trying to climb Caradhras, but Sauron was totally against it and we never made it.

For a variety of reasons — aching muscles maybe? — Garry didn’t find it nearly as hilarious as I did, but the man who shovels is allowed to get grumpy about it. Still, we were definitely atop Caradhras and the snow was not going to quit anytime soon.

There was no noise at all until we heard that wonderful sound, the sound for which I yearn all through the storms of the last two weeks: a plow clearing our driveway. There was an awful lot of snow out there, but the dogs, who go into a medium-level frenzy when trucks are in our drive, gave us a lot of energy. Gibbs is particularly noisy about two things: any kind of diesel-powered vehicle and my son, Owen, of whom he is insanely fond.

Duke and Bonnie in snow

Duke barks hysterically whenever the neighbors emerge from their house. He seems to believe they are about to intrude on our space. Also, they have dogs. Very big dogs. Really, huge dogs. English Mastiff and a boxer. They are really quiet, peaceful creatures who bother no one — except The Duke who gets extremely feisty in the face of Other Dogs Nearby. And they aren’t that near. It’s at least 300 feet from here. More, maybe. We have what is considered a really tiny plot of 2.43 acres of land. Next door, they have maybe 27 acres? Possibly more?

It doesn’t look real. I’m not even sure what bush that is. Rhododendron maybe?

A lot of people around here have a huge amount of land, but the majority of it is wild, thorny, rocky, and generally uninviting to walkers. No trails, either. So mostly, no one on two legs goes in there. No one goes there in the summer because you will be consumed by mosquitoes.

Many other creatures live there, though. Deer, raccoon, fishers, skunk, coyote, bobcats, squirrels, rabbits, bats, eagles and other raptors. Red-tailed hawks and owls. I almost never see them, but I hear woodpeckers constantly.

Foxes, chipmunks. Many fewer chipmunks since the arrival of the bobcat who is very fond of fresh chipmunk. Rats, mice, and some of the biggest spiders to make landfall since Shelob didn’t kill Frodo.

I yearn for New Zealand. If the world should bestow many dollars (or any other currency — I’m not picky) on us, that is the single vacation I would take. Fly to the west coast. Take a ship down the Pacific Ocean and land in some famed harbor. I know that’s the long way, but a cruise to New Zealand and a cruise back sounds like heaven to me.

We might never leave Hobbiton. Well, I suppose we’d have to. There are dogs and family and friends back here … but these days, not living in the U.S. doesn’t seem like such an awful idea. I’ve lived abroad before and I liked it, so it’s not that crazy, for me anyway.

Bonnie and Duke like snow. Gibbs was serious about the sofa.

If New Zealand is impossible, how about San Diego? Great weather. Beautiful beaches. One 5-hour flight and voilà. No more snow. Ever. Or we could go back to Israel. I’ve got a passport. As a citizen, I have — in theory — another home. But that may be my other country. It isn’t Garry’s and while he has nothing against a Jewish country — he’s put up with me for long enough — it might be more change than he is entirely ready for.

So in answer to two questions of the day — where would I rather be and what about noise? I’d like my dogs to shut up, but please, bring the snow plow. Then, send me to New Zealand.


Captivating. Adorable. Charming.
And then, there’s the Motor Vehicle Bureau

For me, that would probably mean dogs, cats, birds, horses … and anything going on in New England in the Autumn. And, okay … those first few minutes after snow has fallen when the world is hushed and completely white, blanketed in snow so that every little thing is hidden by that perfect white frosting.

Late afternoon with the sun low in the sky
The little white house with the big red tree
The Duke
Sunrise – Home on the Vernal Equinox
Sunset – Jackman, Maine

I hope you will find this all quite captivating. It makes me years to go out and shoot a few more pictures. Except today, we are off to the Motor Vehicle Bureau because — yes, it has come around again and Garry is past 75 and he has to go in and prove he can see and understand simple instructions. I think from this point on in our lives, we are never going to escape again.

At least we can still renew the registration by mail. I’m going to try to deal with this with as little stress as I can manage. Thing beautiful images, oh self. Think sunrise and mountains and rivers and don’t think about bureaucrats.

Today, I am thinking captivating, beautiful




All that drenching rain came pouring out of the skies — and it wasn’t the first time in the past couple of weeks, either. What had remained of grass in the front of the house  was just dried or almost dried mud. When these rains came, it washed the mud down from the upper lawn and turned the sidewalk into a mess of oozy brown mud.

Many leaves will fall!

It’s pretty awful out there. Drying out as we speak, but what to do?

Between two old and broken backs and arthritis crawling into every part of two skeletons, it’s hard to figure how we will get it cleaned up. It’s not like the dogs … who think layers of dirt are just fine, thank you … are likely to help. Right now, the yard is exactly the way they like it. There are fallen branches and twigs everywhere plus all the leaves that fell after last fall’s cleanup.

Our leaves are a three-stage process. During the early Autumn days, the maple leaves fall first. As soon as the color fades, they come down like rain into giant leafy drifts. Owen usually cleans them up. He has a machine to do that and it helps.

The storm of yesterday

The next wave of falling leaves consist of half the oaks, as well as the sassafras, any remaining maples, and the few other deciduous trees such as the Catalpa. Owen gets them, too, or most of them. There are always a few which are missed.

Finally, there are the leaves we don’t collect because they hang on the limbs until winter. Some don’t fall until the following spring. The last, late oak leaves don’t drop until late November or December. No one cleans them up because there is usually snow on the ground by then. There are — I don’t think this is much of an exaggeration — millions of leaves every autumn. Anyone who wanted to live in a woods and thought it would be romantic was right — except that living in a woods gets complicated and often messy.

You can’t leave the sodden leaves rotting against your house because it’s unhealthy for the house. It keeps your foundation damp. Damp foundations are unhappy foundations.

The bed of leaves remaining in what we humorously call “the garden” goes to insulate flowers (and weeds) from the bitter cold. We certainly had a bitterly cold winter. January was one of the coldest months on record. It was so cold, we didn’t get nearly as much snow as usual because when it’s that cold, the air is too dry to make snow.

But then, we moved abruptly — in a matter of hours — from well below freezing into the extremely springlike, mild temperatures. All of February was punctuated by a couple of warm days followed by a couple of bitter days. A bit of snow, a bit more snow, more melting … and deluges of rain.

Window outward

It’s a mess around here and I feel I should shut up about it because however much of a mess we have got, a lot of other people have a lot worse with which to contend. We didn’t lose any trees. Our roof is intact. No cars or people were crushed. We have some small branches and a million twigs everywhere, but no larger life-threatening limbs fell. Something of a minor miracle considering what might well have occurred.

These are the times when being old is a significant deficit. If we had even a little more money — we got whacked last year by the door replacement (Thanks Bob, for the help or we’d never have made it!), the exploded hot water heater (third times the charm?) and adding a stair climber to the steps from the front door to the living room. But to use the climber requires a viable walkway from driveway to door … and right now, we don’t have one. Fortunately, I can still lumber my way up the extra steps from the basement. I notice that Garry is beginning to have trouble with the steps too, these days.

The long driveway when the leaves are (mostly) gone

The great truth is we are not getting younger. Garry is in good shape for a man turning 76, but he is turning 76. He was never handy around the house. That is a kind way of saying that he has never had either interest or aptitude for house stuff. For years, Owen took care of it, but Owen moved out and doesn’t have nearly enough time to take care of it … and Owen himself is eligible for AARP. How time flies!

Withe the failure of our government to support older people both in health care and generally in keeping them from falling below the poverty line, hiring others to do the work isn’t really in the cards. We got a 2% raise in Social Security last year — less than $5 per month per check and of course retirement funds never go up, so whatever you got last year, any inflation means you are that percentage poorer. It is fortunate we don’t eat a lot.

Meanwhile,  I’d like about two weeks of a strong young handy-person to help straighten up the mess. I thought I had one, but he seems to have vanished. It’s possible poverty forced him to look for a better deal elsewhere.

Yellow before red

In the midst of the deluge and hurricane winds of yesterday, the builder came by to look at the problems we are having. We have a window that has sagged and is under the vinyl, obviously rotted out. It will need to be replaced. Whether or not it’s just the window that need replacing or the wall around it also need replacing remains to be seen. Regardless, it has to be fixed. There’s no alternative. We cannot easily extract ourselves from this house. We can’t “keep it up” the way it should be and that saddens me … but we can at least make our best effort to keep it from falling down.

It’s not the “what” of the mess with which we deal. It’s the “how” that’s killing us. Now, I have to call my son and find out where the faucet is in the front of the house. I think it’s buried in leaves near the front door. I hope it is!



Circles and squares in squares. What could be simpler? Almost anything? This was an early experiment in squaring the square. One walker on a beach, seeing the same sky over and over.

I’m not sure this is precisely what you had in mind, but I put this together just to see if I could do it.  It’s a sunrise over Ogunquit beach in Maine. About 4:30 in the morning in early September.

This is my first real try at this challenge and I’m sure it won’t be my last!

Squaring the Circle with Squared Squares


Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – February 2, 2018

This Which Way challenge is all about capturing the roads, walks, trails, rails, steps, signs, etc. we move from one place to another on. You can walk on them, climb them, drive them, ride on them, as long as the specific way is visible. Any angle of a bridge is acceptable as are any signs.

Photo: Garry Armstrong 
By the Mumford – Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong

Snow on steps
Road to the lake
The corner by the barber shop – Photo: Garry Armstrong
Dam across the Mumford


Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: January 28, 2018

I went to a birthday party a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been playing with the pictures ever since. The goal? To make portraits look like portraits, yet make it difficult to see specific facial features. Of course, if you know the people involved, you’d recognize them, but I’m guessing you don’t know them.

The whole gang in a sketch
DaVinci’s drawing of a three generation family
If Monet knew the Duke …
Rembrandt’s first New England blizzard



Two pictures — the first way I published it and the redo, just accomplished. These are the rapids by Roaring Dam in Blackstone, Massachusetts.

Roaring Dam rapids … first try

Whether you like the first of the second depends on what you are looking for. The first is high contrast. The “wet” parts look wetter. The second one has more details in the water and the rocks and a slightly different color curve.

Next time around

I decided to do a second set because I wanted to show something different.

Bonnie and Gibbs
I do not believe my dogs are the cutest dogs on Earth, but really, they are

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