WAY-STONES, MILESTONES: WAY-STONE #writephoto – Marilyn Armstrong

Thursday photo prompt: Way-stone #writephoto


When we first moved to Uxbridge, the woman who sold us our house drove us around and the first thing she brought us to see was the Uxbridge Way-Stone. Erected and etched in the early 1600s, it was part of the marking made along Native trails, many of which later became New England’s roads. Milestones are our way-stones and they were common — still are, if you know where to find them — on the quiet paths.

Way-stone in the woods

Mostly, they point the way and distance to Boston. Some are no longer readable. Not as old as this way-stone, but old enough to have had their etchings wash away, then disappear into the stone.

We don’t have the length of history chronicling the centuries of North America that you will find in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa, but this doesn’t mean no one was here. This wasn’t an empty land waiting for “energetic” Europeans to show up and make it whatever it is today.

No later than 1767

Lacking official written “history,” it simply means no one wrote books and saved them and whatever cities existed, they were not built from stone.

There’s a strong possibility that far earlier than the officially earliest known “cities” — Jericho circa 10,000 years, give or take a few millennia — there were other cities.  Maybe Atlantis? Probably built from wood or mud or from disposable materials that were movable.

Not built from an enduring substance, Jericho managed to survive, although it was built from mud. There was just enough stone included to form and shape to the ancient structures.

Jericho exists. It’s not big, but it is a city. Okay, maybe more of a large village. It’s also the only place in the area you can get blood oranges before the rest of the crop comes in. The first time I ate a blood orange I wasn’t sure it was an orange. Orange on the outside, it was blood-red on most of the insides. Otherwise, they taste just like other oranges.

Jericho today

Why does Jericho continue to exist? Because it is built on an oasis. In the very dry region that is the Middle East, if you are up on the mile-high hill of Jerusalem, you can see Jericho. It’s the green patch in the desert. Jericho lives on because it has water. I suspect in this country, tribes moved with the weather in the dry areas of the country but built more solidly where there was water.

I wonder what the history of America would be if Native Americans had written it rather than their European conquerors? I’m sure the story would be more interesting, rich with symbols and location which were well-known then, but have since vanished.

Just a thought. Native Americans lived for many thousands of years on this continent. The water remained clean. They left behind a world as beautiful as the one into which they were born. No piles of rubble, no ruins. They lived well and gently with the land. Not necessarily in peace, but without destroying their mother.

Europeans arrived and five-hundred years later, there’s considerable likelihood that we have effectively destroyed the earth.

Who were the savages?

A MILESTONE OF DESPAIR – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP #29: A MILESTONE OF DESPAIR

Fandango – Nightmare

It’s the one month anniversary of having WordPress abandon us for whatever future they think they see on their far horizons. I’m sure, whatever their milestone may be, it involves hitting all of us for more money. Because as far as I can tell, it’s always about money. Always and forever.

But also, these days, it’s also about meanness, cruelty and casual viciousness. As a nation, we are developing a kind of comfort with meanness and ugliness.

Jon Stewart said it well on Colbert’s show. Drumptf doesn’t merely do something harsh because he thinks it is necessary. He feels obliged to add an extra level of brutality to each thing.

He can’t say he disagrees with the press. He has to point out that they are also stupid and lazy. He can’t say he didn’t “have sex” with that woman. He also needs to mention that she’s too ugly for sex with a stud like him.

Everything he does is coated is that kind of nasty, mean-spirited ugliness and it has my head spinning. I can’t seem to wrap my brain around the beauty of the flowers when all I can see is that compared to DJT, Benito Mussolini was a real gentleman. Adolf Hitler had charm.

Drumptf has no charm. There is nothing cutesy about him. He’s not only unfunny, he’s cruel and most cruel to those who have the least ability to fight back.

He could have created an immigration package with which I’d no doubt have disagreed, but this wasn’t a political move. This was intended to show “how bad” we are and it certainly succeeded. To preventing desperate people from attempting to gain asylum here, he added to it kidnapping and imprisonment for babies, toddlers, and pre-school children. He can’t do something for some bizarre version of “the good of the country.” He also feels obliged to add a personal level of evil to the policy so it does not merely impinge on our political psyche but on our ability to believe we live in a decent society.

Michael Moore was on the show too.

He asked: “How often do you read the news and cry?” I don’t cry. I despair and have nightmares. I feel as if I’ve been overcome by a kind of mental illness. I’ve walked into a “fun house” full of hideous twisted mirrors and all I can see it an ugly, distorted version of something that used to be me or my fellows, but is now foul and twisted.

It’s not even anger. I’ve run out of anger. My current state is more like being a permanently abused child wondering if there’s any hope of rescue before I am beaten to death.

Like the cherry on the sundae, Drumptf is also a minority president. He was not elected by the majority of American citizens. Now that the not-so-Supreme Court has formally decided racial gerrymandering is legal — along with sending five-year-olds to court without a lawyer — one has to wonder with the likelihood of Russia messing with our elections (again) and gerrymandering if there’s any chance we will have an honest election.

I know this much.

All the people who didn’t bother to vote at all or who felt voting for a useless third-party candidate didn’t matter? You screwed us.

You know who you are.

If you do it again, Drumptf or one of his non-biological sycophants will be running this country when your great-grandchildren are praying for asylum in Canada.

Milestone? Really? For me, it feels more like a month of nausea and despair. Maybe it’s just me. Then again, maybe it’s not.

SIX YEARS AND A MILLION MILES TO GO

According to WordPress, I started this blog on February 4, 2012. That’s not entirely accurate. I picked the name and signed up with WordPress on that date, but all I did was write a couple of paragraphs that basically said “I have no idea what I’m doing or why I’m doing it.” It took until the following June for me to blog more than once a month and it was August by the time I got into the swing of things, so to speak.

At least I sort of know why and what I’m doing this these days. Put most simply, I always wanted to run a newspaper and this is as close as I am going to get. I don’t even need to sell advertising to keep the paper running. Also, I think there’s a chance Serendipity can make a difference. Even if it’s a little, tiny difference … it’s something.

International Serendipity

Besides … I’m retired. What else should I be doing with my time?

Writing is my thing. I starting writing as soon as I could form letters and clutch a pencil. I don’t seem likely to run out of words anytime soon.

With joy in my heart, I have corralled others into my scheme. It has made this site infinitely better. We all have something worthwhile to say, but each of us says it in our own voice. Garry couldn’t escape my clutches and was doomed from the start. Rich was a great writer who deserved a bigger audience. Ellin thought it sounded interesting and she had stories to tell. After which I pointed out to Tom that he would feel much better about life if he would write too. So he did.

Wasn’t I lucky? All these smart, funny people contributing, so instead of this site beginning to fade from time and tedium, it feels like we’re just getting started.

I never imagined that Serendipity would become an enterprise, but I’m delighted that it has. If I had not been able to come up with such fantastic support, you’d be bored to death with me by now. Or maybe I’d be bored to death with me. Maybe both.

The Years of Serendipity

So in the course of 6 years, we’ve got almost 644,00 views and together we’ve written more than 7,000 posts. I have no idea how many photographs we’ve got. I’m afraid to find out.


14,800 followers, but I only hear from a couple of dozen of you. Will the rest of you please wave your hands in the air?


Thanks. I needed that.

It’s such a strange time in which we are living. I started writing the year Obama was running for the second time. I though that was a rough, tough political time. Little did I know what was lurking in our future.

The craziness of what’s going on in the world has changed the way we all write. I know there are a lot of people who feel they can’t must never write about politics. The thing is, I don’t feel you can not write about politics any more than you can avoid mentioning ecology and climate change, economy and education. All the life and death issues facing us … how can we pretend they don’t exist?

This is the stuff of our daily lives . We don’t have to write about it all the time and we don’t need to be deadly serious, either … but I don’t think we can simply act like it’s not there. Or maybe I just think we shouldn’t do that.

Regardless, I’m a writer and what I see as reality tends to intrude on my head space.

In the end, for me, reality simply is. What goes on — everywhere — is my virtual house. I can’t ignore it. I don’t want to beat it to death or make it the only thing I talk about … but I won’t pretend it’s not there — nor will I run from possible controversy. I think it’s too important to ignore, more so because it is so troubling.

Maybe that’s my self-appointed job — to look at the world and talk about it. If we can all do it with humor and commonsense, even better.

Six years. 7,030 posts. 643,800 views and a million miles to go …

HALF A MILLION – A LOT OF VIEWS

We have a small pond in our woods. It’s way far back and though I can see it from two windows in the house, I have never been there. There’s no path. Getting there would mean climbing boulders and crossing rough terrain. At least half the year, I can’t even see it. In the summer, the trees hide it. In winter, it’s buried under snow. As summer ends, it becomes so dry, there’s little to see. Right now, though, for this brief period after a lot of rain and before leaves come out, I can see it clearly, bright behind the trees.

It rained like crazy yesterday, so this morning, my little pond was shining in the sun. I could easily see it, so I tried to get some pictures. They aren’t good pictures. Even with a my longest lens, there are so many trees and branches and weeds in the way, the lens had a hard time focusing. But I know it’s there. Sometimes, it sort of disappears, but it pops up again.

During the five years of doing this daily, I’ve seen my numbers rise and fall. Sometimes dramatically. I have learned to not let statistics drive my writing. I am tenacious. Stubborn. Determined. If I think a post is good — mine or anyone else’s — I’ll keep putting it out there until it gets its due. Like that little pond. I may have to wait for rain, but it always rains. Eventually.


This has been a very rainy year.

I’ve been watching Serendipity’s numbers climb. Despite hearing repeatedly how “blogging is dying,” I’ve seen our statistics rise by at least 50% since last summer. I’m sure having so much help in writing makes a big difference as do the various points of view. We have more voices. More interesting ideas to think about. More dogs, too.

I always wonder what makes some sites “popular,” while others go off with a bang and then fade away. Sometimes, it’s because the blogger loses interest, gets busy with work or whatever else. Other times, there’s a sense of mental exhaustion. Good ideas popping when the blog began fade and there’s nothing new. It isn’t easy to write day after day.

I spent my life writing professionally, so I’m accustomed to writing. It isn’t exactly automatic, but I don’t suffer from writer’s block. Almost any idea can be a post. Before blogging, my best writing was done writing letters. When blogging arrived, I instantly realized I’d found my thing: blogging is letter writing with an audience.

On Serendipity, we don’t write the same way. We each have a personal style. I don’t always agree with everything, but that’s the point of not being the only writer. If I wanted it all to sound like me, I’d write it myself.

I like writing. I’ve always liked it, since the first time I picked up a pencil. Now that I blog, people read what I write. Before that, I wrote, but I no one read it. I’ve heard people say it doesn’t matter if anyone reads what they write, but I don’t buy it. Writing is meant to be read. That’s the point. If no one reads it, why bother?

Being a good writer and a pretty good photographer improves the blogging process. Varied content matters too. There’s so much available online. It is a busy, electronic world. You need to be entertaining. Five writers are a huge plus. No two people write the same Even when we write about the same thing, we each have our own way of doing it.

The pictures are pretty and our dogs are cute. Posts are funny — or at the least, humorous. On the whole, we don’t rant. Much. Okay, there’s an occasional rant, but it isn’t a daily event. Also, though we all have issues, we try not to dump it all on the blog. Everyone’s got their own bag of rocks to work through; you probably don’t need ours.

From the start of Serendipity, I got plenty of advice from WordPress. They assured me I needed a theme. I needed to have a direction because no one would want to read just anything. Personally, I’m a big reader of just anything. There are a few things I avoid. If it’s gory, I usually move on. Mostly I’m willing to try anything you throw at me.  I figured I can’t be the only one who feels like that.

So I rejected their advice, though I did wonder if I was making a mistake. Ultimately, I figured if the posts are well written well and the  pictures are pretty, a few people are bound to drop by for a look.

The new Serendipity shirt!

I was surprised — and still am — at all of you who have dropped by. Even more rewarded by how many of you have become friends. You are the biggest and happiest surprise of all. We may not be able to hop on an airplane to hang out for coffee, but we are friends.


From Ellin: CONGRATULATIONS MARILYN!

You started your blog five years ago, by yourself, from nothing. You now have accumulated a half million views! You have a crew of talented and devoted contributors to help you with content. You have faithful and enthusiastic regular readers. And you’re winning over new people every day. Your hard work has paid off and you deserve all the success you’ve achieved!

Thank you for including Tom and me in the Serendipity family. Here’s to the next 500,000 views!


For anyone who hasn’t noticed, there are “author pages” for everyone as well as a contact page under the graphic. So if you want to leave messages, please feel free!

Thanks to all my authors — and all our friends.

I know I’m small potatoes compared to many other sites. I know bloggers who have millions of hits and tens of thousands of followers.  For me, this is fine. Moreover, it’s fun. I get to write whatever I want, when I want … or not. No one tells me what to say or in how many words in which to say it. If you have spent a lifetime writing as a business, you have no idea how special this is.

Thank you for finding Serendipity interesting enough to visit when there is so much else going on in the world. What are my chances of making it to a million? You think?

FIVE YEARS OF SERENDIPITY

Today is Serendipity’s fifth birthday. Very few blogs survive this long. I’m amazed to find myself in such rarefied company!

Since February 2012 when I decided to give this blogging thing a shot, to an eclectic site featuring five intelligent, creative, smart — and often funny — writers creating relevant, unique content, it’s been quite a trip. We’ve got friends around the world in places I’ve only dreamed about and probably will never be able to visit in person, but I go there regularly in spirit.

serendipity-five-years

Through Serendipity, I’ve traveled to every continent and I hope the journey never ends. There’s so much world out there.

It’s really hopping on the Internet these days and we are closing rapidly on half a million views. I’m personally astounded at this turn of events and all I can say, is wow, thanks everyone! And it’s not because of one or two viral posts but rather a compendium of many posts, by me, but  now by Rich, Garry, Ellin, and Tom, too.

Online friends are real. I feel like I know you and share your lives and I hope you feel the same about me. I miss you when I don’t hear from you, worry when you are sick. Always wish you were my real-life neighbor so we could sit and schmooze and eat too many cookies.

A blog is a living thing. It thrives because of you. You read. You comment — and you inspire me. We engage each other. Exchange ideas, news. We teach each other all kinds of stuff. We enrich each others’ lives. We make each other laugh and cry. In time of trouble, you make me feel better. Because out there, in that great big world, we are friends.

I didn’t think I’d still be here — writing or even breathing — in 2017. I certainly didn’t expect this bizarre world in which we are currently living. But, if there’s a bright side to this mess. Life may be horrifying, frightening, weird, and surreal, but it’s not boring. There’s always something to write about. Maybe you shouldn’t think about that too hard. Maybe I shouldn’t, either. In fact, forget I even said it.

From all of us, to all of you, I’m very glad we inhabit the same planet and are connected to each other. I love you guys.

THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE – THE MUSIC AND LYRICS (AND A LITTLE HISTORY)

sounds-of-silence-album-cover

I would be surprised if almost everyone in my age grew — boomers — who grew up in the U.S. didn’t immediately hear this song in their head when they saw this prompt.

“The Sounds of Silence” was published in 1964 and became a generational anthem. What it means or doesn’t mean is immaterial compared to the way the lyrics and the music felt to us. It spoke to our loneliness, our fears of the future, our hopes that we could change the world coupled with angst about personal powerlessness.


The Sound Of Silence (3:08) MIDI
P. Simon, 1964


Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turn my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never shared
No one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

“Fools,” said I, “you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sound of silence


In 1964 I was a sophomore in college. Seventeen years old. Afraid of everything, afraid of nothing. In love, in fear, in hope. About to launch my personal ship of state. I had already left my parents home and was living on my own, making a million mistakes almost by the hour.

I bought this album and played it until the grooves wore out.

The version I’ve included on here is not the original recorded version. It’s the “reunion” of Simon & Garfunkel many years later. Not a lesser version, just a little bit different. The song still resonates … but maybe it says something different to me today than it did all those years ago.

SILENCE | THE DAILY POST

ANOTHER ANNIVERSARY – WITH CHRYSANTHEMUMS

I forget birthdays and other occasions. Not just other people’s birthdays. I have been known to miss my own and only realize a few days later that it had passed. Oops. Usually, I remember our anniversary. Last year was our 25th and it being one of those milestone years, we were both aware of it.

Unlike this year.

I have our anniversary marked in our shared Google calendar so that I get a notification a day in advance. So when an email showed up saying “Happy Anniversary Marilyn & Garry,” I said “Oh.”


happy-anniversary-september-deck-09132016_019


72-water-reflection-mid-september-mums-09132016_015

72-mid-september-mums09132016_010

I knew yesterday was the fourteenth thus making today the fifteenth. I knew our anniversary is the fifteenth of September … yet somehow, I didn’t connect the dots. The pieces of information lived in my brain, separately. Until I saw the email.

“Garry,” I said. “It’s our anniversary tomorrow.”

He got that look that husbands get when they figure they have just made some terrible mistake, a combination of guilt and fear.

“I only realized it now because it popped up in my email,” I said. “I put it in our calendar. You would have seen it when you turned on your computer.”

“I thought I’d really blown it.”

“Well, you weren’t alone. We both blew it.”

“I remembered last year,” he pointed out.

“I know.” I thought awhile. “We don’t have any money, but we could go out for dinner if we put it on a credit card. If you’d like.” I was thinking how glad I was that I had bought him his gift a while ago and being me, already given it to him. I’m such a child about gifts. I can’t wait. I have to give them immediately.

So today is our anniversary. Yay. Another year. We are both hitting milestone birthdays in the spring, so I doubt we’ll forget them.

With a little luck, the chrysanthemums will bloom tomorrow. I’m pretty sure they, at least, will remember the day.

FLOWER OF THE DAY – CHRYSANTHEMUM