JULY BLUES AND SUNRISE ON THE VERNAL EQUINOX – Marilyn Armstrong

July Blues and the Sky at Dawn – Vernal Equinox 

It was dawn on the day of the Vernal Equinox and I had not closed the shades. I usually do, but I forgot. When I woke up, it looked as if the room was on fire. The blue sky turned deep red and violet before finally, the sun came up. It was the most amazing sunrise I’ve ever seen. My friend called me to ask: “Did you see that sunrise this morning? It was amazing!”

Dawn – Vernal Equinox

And I keep a camera in the bedroom, just for this kind of event. I can only get these amazing sunrises before the leaves come out. After that, the trees hide the sky.

JULY AND THE BLUES AGAIN … Marilyn Armstrong

Clapboard Steeple against a summer blue sky

This color sky is a summertime only sky. In the winter, we get more of a marine blue that has a hint of green. Almost turquoise. This deep, almost navy blue is from June through August. When it doesn’t rain, of course.

In September, it changes slightly and the sun has a more amber tone to it and the sky is just a tiny bit golden — the perfect time to take portraits. Everyone looks wonderful in the golden light of Autumn.

But this is full summer and the gold waits in the wings of the future.

Square steeple against a deep blue sky

And yes, in case you are wondering, I am constantly watching for the colors of the sun and sky. If you change where you live, the colors change again. In Israel, the sun was a brilliant yellow in a turquoise sky. Almost blinding it was so bright.

SOMETHING TO GO WITH YOUR COFFEE? – Marilyn Armstrong

Doughnuts are not good for me. Or you. We know that. No matter how you slice and dice it, those yummy fresh-from-the-oven treats are nothing but fat, carbohydrates, and sugar, probably with a dollop of artificial flavoring. But gee golly whiz, there’s nothing like a couple of warm crullers and a freshly brewed cuppa joe on a frosty morning. Or, if you’re me, any morning.

75-downtown-21

I love my morning coffee. Much as I complain about the problems of getting old and being poor, retirement has a few perks. The biggest and most obvious is not having to go to work, not having to put up with the idiocies of bosses who know less about the job than the newest intern and base their impossible demands on a spreadsheet.

The other big perk is time. You don’t have to gulp your coffee in the car on the way to the office. Or drink horrible machine coffee in the office. You can brew your own, sit in a comfortable chair with the morning paper, a book, laptop or tablet and savor the experience.

Doughnuts are an extension of this top of the morning experience. As tasty as ever, you can enjoy them with your own or boughten coffee. Locally, the coffee and donuts emporium of choice has always been Dunkin Donuts. Unlike Starbucks whose “dark roasted beans” is a code for “burned coffee,” and whose donuts are clearly not fresh, Dunkin Donuts coffee is mm-mm good and the doughnuts are just out of the oven — at least until 3 in the afternoon.

A couple of times over the past year, in a fit of gustatory nostalgia, Garry picked up a small box of donuts from Dunkin’s to ramp up the quality of our morning coffee experience.

The first time I could barely contain my excitement. As I reached for a second forbidden but delicious doughnut, I discovered it was guarded by a militant-looking cockroach of considerable heft. One of the big ones who is obviously daring you to “bring it on.”

I took the whole box of donuts, roach and all, and dumped them in the trash. As far as I know, we don’t have roaches here. We have ants in season (like now, for example). Mosquitoes the size of sparrows and hungrier than sharks. Slugs and beetles of all kinds in the gardens and who knows what in the woods … but no cockroaches. So I fondly hoped this was an aberration. Surely our local Dunkin Donuts was not packaging cockroaches with the doughnuts? Tell me it ain’t so!

 

When Garry asked what happened to the donuts, I made some lame excuse like having knocked them off the counter and the dogs getting to them. Garry is a brave man, but he has two phobias: snakes and cockroaches. Both knock the Semper Fi right out of him. I chose to spare him the trauma.

Operating under the optimistic assumption that Dunkin Donuts wouldn’t, couldn’t, shouldn’t include cockroaches with their mouth-watering confections, I encouraged him to pick up a second batch a few weeks later.

I ate a couple of doughnuts. Garry ate a couple of doughnuts. And standing in the box guarding the remaining Boston Creme and Honey Raised, was General Cockroach. I think he had an anti-aircraft weapon strapped to his carapace.

I carried the box and its occupant to the trash. This time, though, I told Garry. He needed to know lest he spontaneously purchases a box of fresh donuts on his way home.

After Garry stopped shivering and muttering “I hate those things,” we agreed we’d take a pass on future purchases from our local emporium. There are plenty of other doughnut shops in town.  In fact, the only shops of which our town has more than enough are hairdressers and doughnut shops.

For some reason, we’ve lost our taste for doughnuts. I don’t think either of us has eaten one since.

Odd, isn’t it?

FORGIVE ME LEST I NEVER SLEEP AGAIN – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Forgive

I didn’t sleep at all last night. I don’t mean I slept restlessly. I mean I was awake the entire night. It was a variety of physical issues. As soon as I got one problem settled down, another popped up.

There are nights like this. Fortunately, not often.

Back in the day, it didn’t bother me very much unless I had a particularly difficult day at work. I’m getting too old to go a whole night without sleep. I’ve got stuff to do. Maybe I can send Garry can pick up a few things and we can defer this for one more day? Pick up a pizza for dinner?

It’s a sunny day! Not a bird was in the sky!

It started when I got to bed very late. Why? Because I was trying to read and respond to blogs — at least to the blogs for the people I consider online friends. I didn’t get to everyone, but at least I managed to get a bunch of them done. Everything else? Deleted. It’s in the Reader. Maybe I’ll find a free hour. Maybe.

My body has shifted all its daytime stuff to the middle of the night. Lots of trips to the bathroom make it hard to settle down — and that’s not the only thing. Everyone else does that stuff during the day. Me? Middle of the night which sometimes makes deep sleep treacherous. I had a reminder list rolling through my head, too. Call the Senior Center to make an appointment to get taxes done. Their times fill up quickly because it’s a free service from the AARP, something I appreciate with all my heart. I have never been any good at doing taxes, not in my entire tax-paying life.

The bright window

And then my legs cramped. I wrapped them in heating pads and after an hour or so, they stopped trying to curl up in weird knots. It’s strange to watch them when they do that. The tendons stand out and the feet curl upwards. It means I’m not drinking enough stuff with electrolytes in it.

Whenever I felt sleepy, my body did something inconvenient and occasionally, painful. My chest, which is still loose and crunches when I move, was particularly crunchy last night. My acid reflux was refluxing like mad because I’ve been trying to take fewer antacids, but my gut doesn’t agree. I think it is never going to get on that bandwagon.

Flowering Christmas Cactus

That I didn’t get into bed until well after 2 in the morning probably didn’t help. If I stay up late enough, I wake up. I am most sleepy around 2 in the afternoon. After I overcome that drowsiness, I get more and more wakeful, so by midnight when Garry is toddling off to bed, I’m ready to party. Well, you know. Not really party hearty, but my version of partying which mostly involves computers and writing and processing photographs. At least after night falls, I stop taking pictures.

So day rolled around again and it’s a beautiful one. Relatively warm with sunshine and blue skies.  The coffee is brewing. I know in an hour, I’ll be ready to crash.

Somehow, night and day have flipped around and that circadian rhythm has gone totally askew. My body thinks night is for doing stuff and except for the 2pm sleepy time, I never seem quite ready for sleep. This didn’t bother me much when I was young. I slept very little and it was okay. I could handle a day’s work on three or four hours of sleep, but as the years have advanced, I need sleep or I’m a train wreck.

At least I figure I’ll sleep tonight. In the recliner and in bed. I think I have a solid 12 hours of sleep waiting for me. I sure hope so. Time to call the Senior Center. Well, not quite yet. in another half hour. Meanwhile, coffee anyone?

A QUINTESSENTIAL NIGHT – Marilyn Armstrong

A quintessential night and I’m too tired to hold my eyes open.

The quintessential night. My back hurt when I got into bed. I hurt slightly less when I turned on my left side but a few hours later the dull, throbbing ache had moved from quintessential to OWWWWW.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Only one thing helps and that’s moving the bed into an almost sitting position, taking much more aspirin than I should, a couple of tranquilizers (to get the muscles to calm down) and passing out for a couple of hours. I was really counting on NO phone calls and NO visitors. Lucky me. None showed up and Garry, one of the rare moments in our lives, got up before me.

Parked cars

By the time I got up, other than being zonked from an OD of over-the-counter medications, I was not screaming in pain. I wonder how much longer I can go like this?

Quick trip to the grocery. Frozen pizza for dinner. I was in no mood for cooking.

And it’s probably time for a new mattress. It has been 15 years and even a latex foam mattress grows weary.

The problem is, I’m weary. Trying to avoid getting whiny about it, as a life, this sort of sucks. Between the fibromyalgia, arthritis, heart, and a general sense of decrepitude, this is the quintessential stage when all the things that are wrong with me gang up and say “GOTCHA!”

I’m sure by this afternoon, I’ll be in a better place. Or maybe tomorrow. But right now, on a day that is the first cool and comfortable one in weeks, I HURT.

Just saying. And I really need to spend an hour in the grocery store, too. That will probably help. I may not want to do it, but going out and doing something helps. I hate the process, but the results are usually (overall) pretty good.

FLUMMOXED AGAIN – Marilyn Armstrong

Flummoxed by Life, Rain, and Dawgz

It’s a great literary word and I love what it means. To be completely (pardon the expression) bamboozled. Stunned. Lost in the complexity. Wandering mentally aimless. Made mentally woolly by the ghosts of the past.


”Naked and alone we came into exile,” Thomas Wolfe wrote. ”In her dark womb we did not know our mother’s face; from the prison of her flesh have we come into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth. . . . Which of us has not remained forever prison-pent? Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?”


And then he said … and he repeated it throughout the book: “Lost, o lost. Ghost, come back again.” By which he was remembering his dead brother.

I read this book– all of his books, actually — when I was 14 and 15. Those were my serious reading years.  Wolfe really spoke to me. “Look Homeward, Angel” was nearly 1000 pages of poetry. I don’t think I’d get through the first chapter today. My taste for poetry has withered on its vine. Even so, a really good poem grabs me by the heart.

A beautiful poem isn’t just words. It’s a cry to your soul and all of “Look Homeward, Angel” was a soul’s cry.

Duke on a rainy day

The thing that makes me bring up a book I haven’t read for nearly 60 years was that the main character in all of Wolfe’s books — especially his three early ones — was permanently flummoxed. The world meant little to him. He was never clear on where the boundaries between real and ghostly began or ended.

Gibbs

That’s how I felt then and sometimes today. It’s not dementia. That’s when I can’t remember a perfectly simple word because it has flown my mental coop and I have to find it on Google (how could I survive without Google?) … or just write around it until later when the word just shows up. Like a lost kitten who was hiding under the bed, the word looks at me and says: “What’s your problem? I was just under the bed. Didn’t you look there?”

This morning it was raining so hard I thought there was a strong wind blowing. I looked outside and realized the trees were shaking from the weight of water falling on them.

Gibbs was never housebroken. He got here, doped out where shit went and proceeded to become housebroken. Unless it rains. None of our three dogs likes rain, but Gibbs truly loathes it.

Snow? Not a problem. Cold? No worries. Light rain? Can handle that.


“HEAVY RAIN?
You want ME to go out THERE?
You go out. I’m home until it stops.”


Gibbs had already left a load for me in the kitchen, right next to the trash can. He’s very neat that way and never goes for a rug or anything soft. I threw the dogs out. Gibbs lay down in front of the doggy door and went limp. I had to lift his front end, push it out the door, then lift his butt (which seems to be growing) and pushed it out, too. Then I locked the door while I cleaned the kitchen and gave them fresh water.

They stood in front of the house. Dripping. Looking at me. Daggers to my heart. I let them back in, went to the bathroom and came back. Gibbs had saved a pile to remind me he is a proud, stubborn terrier. Amazingly, he also looked guilty and has spent the rest of the morning giving me his best “sad-eyed” look.  He knows he has done wrong, but if it rains like this again, guilt will not change him. At 11-years-old, this is not a dog with a lot of “give” in his nature. Much love, but little flexibility.

I could have gotten up earlier and tossed them out. I was tired. The bed was warm. Excuses, excuses.

I wasn’t flummoxed. I was tired, warm, and cozy — the lethal “stay in bed” potion. Pushing reluctant dogs out a dog door wasn’t on my list of “things I wanted to do.”

Life keeps getting livelier and I don’t understand how two long-since retired people could get so godawful busy this late in life. Life never seems to go where we want it to do, though sometimes —  maybe even often — it does something more strange, but better.

TRACES OF THE PAST YEAR 4 – MAY 2018 – Marilyn Armstrong

THURSDAY’S SPECIAL: TRACES OF THE PAST Y4-05

This time, it’s something old, in color.

Lacking cathedrals and mansions, we’ll have to settle for just old things. Like me?

Okay, not me.

Something else, but what? How about the old mansions along the dock in Rockport, Massachusetts. This picture was taken at sunrise on July 4th, at five in the morning.

Old houses along the dock in Rockport, Massachusetts

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