Old Gettysburg – Marilyn Armstrong

Horse and buggy. Easy to shoot. Horse doesn’t move much. Okay. Not at all.

When you think of Gettysburg, you probably think “battlefield.” Military history. Civil War.

I’ve never seen an actual “cigar store Indian.” Heard about them, but never seen one.

What does not likely come immediately to mind are “Ghosts” and “Ghouls.” However unlikely, that seems to be the most prominent theme of this historic town and its battlegrounds.

Old soldiers never die?

The shops are full of ghosts, ghouls, and zombies representing the dead soldiers. And, of course, there are tee shirts. Many varieties of ghosts, ghouls, and zombies, dressed in both Confederate and Union uniforms. Some, with no uniforms.

A zombie of Gettysburg.

This is tourist central, but it’s charming and quaint and everything is nicely clumped together in a small area. Even for me, it’s not too much walking. That the temperature has dropped quite a bit helps too.

Tunnel on the path.

You can get a tee-shirt with the entire Gettysburg Address on it, with or without Abraham Lincoln. You can get a wide variety of  Confederate, Union, or combination tee-shirts. Guns and knives vie with children’s toys as souvenirs.

Tee shirts … whatever you want, bet they have it.

The honored dead did not die in vain. They died so we could have cool tee shirts.

The Blue and Grey Tee Shirt Emporium.

Marsh and Wetlands – Marilyn Armstrong

Along the river you will find marsh and wetlands. These are the places where the birds feed and breed, where fish lay their eggs, where turtles multiply and come out to sun themselves on the rocks.

Herons, egrets, and other water fowl make their homes here. Humans generally don’t like these areas much. Too many bugs.

Mosquitoes are thick in the air, but they make wonderful food for many of the smaller creatures that live in these areas. Rich with life of all kinds, the wetlands are fed by the same river that flows down from the Worcester hills to the sea at Providence.

The wetlands are beautiful and rich … Just make sure you wear a lot of insect repellent. And bring your camera.

The wetlands and marsh that spreads out along the river are the richest ecological areas in the region and are fragile. Around the valley, because the river so dominates our environment, the wetlands are to be found anywhere and everywhere.

Homeowners get upset when they are told they aren’t allowed to build on areas of their own land because it’s protected wetlands … especially when they didn’t know they had on wetlands on the property.

I think we have some wetland way back in our woods … a small pond too, though I’ve never made it there through the brambles. It’s not a place I’d ever think to build anyway. They are an inconvenience and we have to work around them, but we protect them because we need them. And they need us.

The River – Marilyn Armstrong

When first we moved here from Boston, it was wonderful, but so different.

Although I’d lived in the suburbs and spent most of my vacation time through the years out in the country, I’d never lived so far from a major city nor in a river valley, which has a particular character of its own.

The dominance of the Blackstone both over the ecology of the valley and its economy is hard to over-emphasize.

The Blackstone River National Heritage Corridor is actual part of the National Parks system and includes all the cities in the valley, from Worcester, where the river starts, to Providence where it ends. It is a protected area, though not a park, because so many people live here, but it is considered to be of significant historical importance.

A small pond where herons like to fish is formed by the river and canal’s congruence just above the falls.

It was in this valley that the American Industrial Revolution took place.

I call it the “keyhole” bridge. It’s just before the river divides.

I became fascinated with the river. It was everywhere. Even though you can’t always see it, the Blackstone or one of its tributaries is everywhere you travel, just off the road, hidden by a hillock or trees.

There’s a walkway along the canal where everyone likes to stroll. It’s right next to the parking lot for a medical building, and there’s a small picnic area there, too.

Twelve years later, the river still fascinates me … in all its seasons and permutations. This is the river in late summer/early Autumn, from last September. This is just a single hour of shooting by the river last September. You can be sure there will be much more.

MARILYN’S BACK HOME-DOG DAY TUESDAY

The long national nightmare is over for our four furry children. Mom’s back!! During Marilyn’s nearly two week stay at Beth Israel Hospital for heart surgeries, the dogs almost seemed to be grieving. They were quiet. They had to be cajoled to eat. They refused to play all the games that are part of our usual days. Obviously, the past two weeks were anything but usual for the four legged and two legged members of our family. Our spirits had dimmed. Anxiety was high. Each new hospital report cut through our collective morale. It all changed with Marilyn’s surprise weekend rehab therapy work. The projected extended PT schedule was cancelled and we brought Marilyn home late yesterday afternoon.

The dogs usually greet family members with exuberance and enthusiasm. We were concerned because Marilyn is still in the early stages of recovery and very sensitive to any body contact. When we allowed the dogs access to Marilyn last night, they were very tentative. Later, they crowded around her but kept their distance. The two terriers joined Marilyn on our love seat  but were very careful. Dogs have a keen sense of when their humans are hurting. They are protective rather than playful. When Marilyn fell asleep while watching TV, the dogs dozed off. When she woke up, they opened their eyes looking at her. When Marilyn’s pain and breathing issues rose, the dogs made moaning sounds. When Marilyn’s pain subsided and her breathing improved, the dogs visibly relaxed.

Today, Marilyn’s first full day home, the dogs took to barking and romping again but kept a respectful distance from Marilyn. One of the Terriers, as I write, is nestled at Marilyn feet. It’s her favorite spot. Nan is Marilyn’s dog. She’s the one who was most out of sorts during Marilyn’s absence. Bonnie, our vivacious Scottie, is lying atop the sofa, comfortable in her watchdog spot. We believe Bonnie has her own Facebook page. She monitors all street activity and is, I believe, captain of the neighbor dog watch committee. She periodically cocks her head back to make sure all is okay with Marilyn.

The big difference came at chow time. I filled the four food bowls and summoned the kids. They raced into the kitchen, eyed their dishes and scoffed the food down, barely pausing for breath. Everything was okay again. Licking their lips and barking with satisfaction, they raced towards the doggie door, pausing briefly to make sure Mom was okay and then dashing outside to do their business.

Marilyn smiled as the kids sped by, nodding her approval and satisfaction that she had returned a sense of normalcy to our furry kids’ world. Reality set in with a jolt of pain to Marilyn’s right arm which sustained muscle damage during her hospital stay. She winced, muttered something I couldn’t hear and then leaned back to wait for the pain subside.

The dog day afternoon continued with the furry kids outside loudly informing neighbors that Mom was back. Marilyn’s pain gradually subsided and we hoped the rest of her first day home would would allow us to enjoy each other’s company. Beats the hell out of making conversation in a hospital room.

Around the Neighborhood … Marilyn Armstrong

Just pictures of my village. Some taken around the corner, others down the road, and a few, up the street … Summertime in the Valley.

THE LAST UPDATE? MONDAY: MARILYN COMES HOME

‘You came back! Why? A woman like you!! To a place like this?? Why?” Those of you who don’t know that line should be ashamed. It’s a riff on Eli Wallach’s demise as the bandit chief in “The Magnificent Seven”. Well, Marilyn came back today and there’s no reason to ask why. She’s home after almost two nerve wracking weeks at Beth Israel’s Cardiac Care Unit in Boston. Marilyn gladly relinquished her status as the patient with the most seniority in her unit. Marilyn had almost become a fixture for families visiting other patients. She would wave as they passed her room. Some say Marilyn is now a legend after her stint that included a bypass, a valve replacement, a pacemaker implant and inflation of collapsed lungs. To insure her iconic status, Marilyn sustained a muscle injury in her right shoulder, her “good” shoulder. The shoulder of the hand used to send emphatic gestures to her husband.

Marilyn’s return home today came as a surprise to some of us. It was thought she needed several days in a physical therapy facility to strengthen her body after almost two weeks of immobility. Marilyn pulled a wonder woman on us by regaining mobility dramatically over the weekend. A physical therapist made it official after examining Marilyn today. Visiting families looked sad as Marilyn left Beth Israel Hospital. Who would replace the iconic patient in room 606?

The mood here at “The Kachingerosa” brightened considerably with Marilyn’s return. We had to “gate” the four furry kids to allow Marilyn to enter the house, carefully make her way up the stairs and into the living room where she settled into her favorite spot on our love seat, a smile mixed with groans of pain and pleasure. She scanned the room carefully like a stranger returning to a place of her dreams.

The two terriers, Bonnie (the Scottie and ring leader) and Nan, who sounds more like a pig than a dog were allowed to spend time with Marilyn. Nan is Marilyn’s dog. I think you could see the joy in Nan’s eyes. Dogs have a sense about their people, especially when they are hurt or healing. So, the normally playful terriers were very gentle with Marilyn.

The first evening home is going slowly for Marilyn. She’s trying to catch up on some of her favorite TV shows. But she’s still in pain and has breathing problems as she tries to relax. Marilyn still has a long way to go. There will be visiting nurses, follow up appointments with specialists and a very limited program of activities for the next few weeks. But Marilyn is home and our family is whole again.

Stay In The Car and Other Classic Lines – Marilyn Armstrong

In the spirit of clichés that pop out of the mouths of Our Heroes with alarming frequency, despite the fact that they have become standing jokes for the audience (apparently nobody mentioned this to the script writers), our personal favorite in this house is “Stay in the car.”

On the NBC TV series “Chuck.” it’s a gag line. Unfortunately, on most shows it is supposed to be real dialogue  and not cause hilarity … but it does. Every time.

I checked on Subzin, a movie database that lets you enter a piece of dialogue, then reports in how many and in the specific movies where you’ll find it. According to Subzin, “Stay in the car”  can be found in 356 phrases from 296 movies and series. Yet, they continue to use it.

Lethal Weapon 2: (1989)

uses the line a lot.

Then, there’s  Last Action Hero (1993), my favorite Arnold Schwarznegger movie in which the line is understood to be a cliché , which is more than you can say for most of the places you will hear it:

But don’t feel that this is confined to modern movies. High Sierra, with Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino, 1941 used the line too.
Speaking of Humph, there’s one great line in Treasure of the Sierra Madres that has become, by its utter perfection, a cliché or maybe … a laugh line?
And again, from Blazing Saddles (1974), a movie so quotable that we can recite the entire dialogue as we watch:
And then there is:
Ah, so many clichés. So little time. And then … they all walk away …