THERE WAS A FIRE AT THE HEART AND IT WILL BURN FOREVER – Marilyn Armstrong

Sioux teepee

Sioux teepee

My teepee had a firepit. I lined it with fireplace tiles, then added a surround of old red brick. It was a big pit for a small teepee, but logs come in a lot of different shapes and it was easier to leave extra space to accommodate the bigger and odder-shaped pieces than try to figure out how to fit them into a smaller pit.

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It gets very cold in winter in New England. In the deepest part of the winter, with the temperature well below freezing and several feet of snow on the ground, I liked going out to my teepee to spend a few hours by a fire. It was the most peaceful, private place in the world, one of the few places I felt really relaxed and at peace.

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I learned to build a fire very fast. In fact, I got so I could get that fire going in less than a minute. Of course, that’s not counting however much time it took to bring in the logs and stack the fire properly so it would catch and burn properly.

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A teepee fire needs to be bright and hot so the smoke will go straight up the smoke hole. In essence, a teepee is a chimney with room for other stuff. If you build the pit and the fire correctly, there is very little smoke and a lot of heat.

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Once the fire was going, the teepee, which had a lining to help insulate it, got very warm. I often had to open the door and sit half in and half out because it was so warm inside. And no, despite crackling and sparks, the teepee doesn’t catch on fire. It looks like it will, but it doesn’t, though I wouldn’t leave a fire unattended. Then again, I won’t leave any fire unattended.

A fire in a teepee on a snowy night is magic and it keeps the fire burning.

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio
Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe
Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, “The King and I” and “The Catcher in the Rye”
Eisenhower, vaccine, England’s got a new queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye
💢
We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it 

💢

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc
Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Dacron
Dien Bien Phu falls, “Rock Around the Clock”
Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn’s got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland
Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Khrushchev
Princess Grace, “Peyton Place”, trouble in the Suez

💢

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

💢

Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac
Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, “Bridge on the River Kwai”
Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball
Starkweather, homicide, children of thalidomide
Buddy Holly, “Ben Hur”, space monkey, Mafia
Hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go
U2, Syngman Rhee, payola and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, “Psycho,” Belgians in the Congo

💢

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

💢

Hemingway, Eichmann, “Stranger in a Strange Land”
Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion
“Lawrence of Arabia”, British Beatlemania
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson
Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex
JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say 

💢

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it 

💢
Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline
Ayatollah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan
“Wheel of Fortune”, Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide
Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, crack, Bernie Goetz
Hypodermics on the shores, China’s under martial law
Rock and roller cola wars, I can’t take it anymore 

💢

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
But when we are gone
Will it still burn on, and on, and on, and on 

💢

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it
We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire 

💢

No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it …

Songwriters: Billy Joel
We Didn’t Start the Fire lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

DAY OF THE MONARCHS – Marilyn Armstrong

We named our little sailboat Gwaihir, the wind lord. Really, she was a wind lady and the name was a bit pretentious for such a tiny boat. Somehow, I thought it would be a lucky name. She was a 16-foot Soling with a centerboard. She drew a mere 16-inches with the board up. I used to tell people Gwaihir could sail on a wet hankie and I believed she could.

Soling Drawiing

She was a surprisingly stable craft. We carried a 5 HP outboard motor so when tide and wind were against us, we could still get home. In the old days, sailboats had to drop anchor and wait for one or both to shift. Today, we have to get home for dinner … so we have outboards.

When my husband had the time and felt particularly frisky, we took Gwaihir out through Sloop Channel and Jones inlet into the ocean.

Even a 3-foot roller looks big when you are on the deck of such a small sloop. My then-husband was a madman on the water. He would sail through thunder squalls because he liked the challenge. His father had been equally insane, so I guess he came by it honestly.

Mostly, I piloted her through the salt marshes and canals off Long Island. She was perfect for shallow water sailing. We could sail through nesting plovers, herons, and ducks, silent except for the soft flapping of the jib. The birds were undisturbed by our passage and went about their business, white sails wing-like in the breeze.

One bright day with a warm sun lighting the water and the sky blue as a robin’s egg, I anchored on the edge of a shallow, reedy marsh. I drifted off to sleep as I watched little puffy clouds scoot across the sky.

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I awoke a while later and our white sail was covered with thousands of monarch butterflies. I had drifted into their migration route and they had stopped to rest on my little boat.

I didn’t move or say anything. Just looked up and watched, thinking that if ever there had been a perfect day, crafted for my delight, this was it.

Then, as if someone had signaled, they rose as one and flew onward to complete their long journey, and I sailed home.


Check out AMAZING MATHILDA, Bette Stevens’ inspirational tale of a Monarch butterfly and her meadowland friends. This award-winning children’s book follows the life cycle of an endangered butterfly. It’s a beautiful read and learning experience.


Fandango’s Friday Flashback: June 13, 2014

WATER WATER – Marilyn Armstrong

THE BLACKSTONE RIVER 


The Blackstone is 47 miles long and drops sharply throughout it’s descent from the hill in Worcester to Nantucket Bay. It twists and turns so that if you live in the Valley, you are never more than a quarter of a mile from the Blackstone or one of its tributaries.
There are about 47 dams and waterfalls that were used to power mills and factories. A few have been removed, but most are still standing.

Manchaug dam on the Blackstone

The Mumford in the middle of town

Photo: Garry Armstrong

BY RIVER AND CANAL – GARRY ARMSTRONG

TIME OUT FOR SQUIRRELS!

I took a lot of pictures along the river. Marilyn is processing a half dozen at a time.

Meanwhile, some squirrel and bird news! In the last week, our deck has been covered by dozens of baby squirrels. I think that the mamas and papas took them as soon as they could climb to our deck and said to them: “Be joyful children for on this deck, there is always food.”

The road between the river and canal

Both Owen and Marilyn have gotten up early enough to see the madness. At six-thirty in the morning, they are on the feeders, on the steps, climbing up the pole and down the banister and across the beam. Chasing each other around the deck and actually fighting each other for a place on the feeder.

This morning the decision was made. The feeders will stay empty for a few days. The squirrel babies will have to discover the forest and the trees. The birds haven’t even had an hour when they could feed. I have a feeling (but no pictures) that we’ve been massively hit by flying squirrels all night. They too have probably been breeding up a storm and are bringing their floating kidlings to the deck for seedy delights.

I feel sorry for the birds who looked downright mournful when they couldn’t get any seeds. They sat on the railing looking at the empty hooks.

We didn’t mind some squirrels, but this was a three-ring squirrelly circus. All they needed was a marching band.

And some of those squirels fly!

If we feel things have calmed down, we’ll try putting the feeders up next week. This is the time of year when you can see birds you’ll never see the rest of the year. Maybe the break will calm the creatures. We’re also going to try and buy a lot of corncobs for the squirrels. Maybe if they get something they like better, they’ll leave the feeders?

Of one thing I am sure: all the feeding has raised the squirrel population here from a few squirrels to an awful lot of squirrels, both leapers, and flyers!

HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY – GREEN SCREEN, COMMENTARY & REBLOG BY SEAN MUNGER

We have long known — more than a hundred years and I suspect a lot longer than that — how what we do to Earth is a tragedy in slow motion. But the tragedy is not slow anymore. There is little time to fix it before it fixes us.

Each time I pass the river’s edge and see all the garbage thrown from passing cars, I feel sick. Each day if weather allows, we go to the road to clean up the mess passing cars have made by throwing bags from fast food joints into our woods. 

Now that America has moved most of our polluting industrial companies overseas, they are free to pollute in another place rather than here. As long as it isn’t next door, we feel free to ignore it. Nonetheless, we continue to wreak havoc with leaking pipelines, drilling rigs, and of course, fracking.

Digging down into the center of the earth for natural gas? What could possibly go wrong?  In case you would like to really watch the movie, here is the entire movie, straight from YouTube.

This wonderful movie was made by John Ford in 1941 about a coal slag destroying a once beautiful town. It is worth watching for many reasons including a highly intelligent script and fine acting, It’s also a reminder that today’s tragedy didn’t begin this year or even this century. We humans have been diligently working at destroying our home planet as long as we have been “civilized.”

🛑

The history of coal mining in Wales, spoil tip disasters and Roddy McDowall’s eternal youth are up for debate in our examination of this 1941 Best Picture Oscar winner.

Source: Episode 4: How Green Was My Valley – Green Screen

PRIVILEGED IN THE PARK – GARRY ARMSTRONG

It was really a lovely day. Cool, bright, not humid. The car, after these months of sitting under the trees which, these days, are covered with the remnants left by Marilyn’s birds. Our Renegade was not looking her best. And, there were a lot of medications waiting at the pharmacy.

We had gotten up early because Marilyn thought we had a doctor’s appointment, but it turned out to be next Tuesday. Since I was up already, I bravely ventured out. Mailed a long-delayed letter. Picked up medications, got the car washed, bought Marilyn a bouquet of white roses, then went down to River Bend.

I found a great spot for photographs, an old Andy Griffith, Mayberry scene. And there was a mom and her two little kids playing in the river. I was also wearing both mask and gloves with my USMC T-shirt and an NCIS vest (bought directly from the CBS online shop).  I guess I didn’t look dangerous enough to call the cops.

I asked permission to take pictures of her and the kids. Eventually, I asked why none of them were wearing masks. She told me, “Thanks for asking permission for pictures. Yes, you can take them. As for no masks and gloves, I think the media is blowing this out of proportion. The President knows what he is talking about.”


Long pause from me. “Hey, ” she said, “You look familiar. Didn’t you used to be on TV? Oh, don’t tell me. I know! I grew up watching you on TV. You have a nice day, now.”

I also guess no one told her about the literally thousands of snapping turtle who live in that area of the river. That’s why you aren’t allowed to swim in it or even dangle your feet off the dock. They like to munch on toes and fingers and have the jaws to for it.


Her 5-year-old is in preschool. The 4-year-old is in nursery school. And mom watches Fox News. You can’t save them all.

SPRING BY THE DAM – Marilyn Armstong

We had to get tested for antibodies today, so we had to get outside. Fortunately, it was a beautiful day. Warm and sunny and everything flowering. On the way out, we stopped at Koopman’s, the lumber yard and everything else store and I bought a big white and purple fuchsia. It will match my orchids.

The Mumford Dam in May

Puffy clouds over the river

I used my iPhone because I hadn’t brought my camera. It takes good pictures — very sharp and clear — but it isn’t a camera. And transferring the pictures from the iPhone to my PC is a real pain. But it’s a convenient backup for when I don’t have a camera with me and it’s hard to complain about the quality. I do have to learn to not get my fingers in the path of the lens. I got a lot of pictures of my fingers and thumbs.

Garry with his mask

It’s my first fuchsia in three, maybe four years, since the florist I used passed away. Fitting it in with the feeders was interesting. It couldn’t be in front of the feeders or I’d never get and bird pictures.

Columbine, at home

FLOWERS OF THE DAY: WHAT’S BLOOMING IN THE GARDEN – Marilyn Armstrong

MAY 21 – THE GARDEN GROWS

Coming home, I had my camera and stayed out long enough to get some pictures.

I missed the big blooming of the columbine, but there are some new ones with buds. I missed the daffodils, but there were a bunch of narcissus on the other side of the driveway. I don’t know how they got there since I didn’t plant them. The roses ARE back. They are just very short, but I have a feeling that one of these days they are going to go crazy. June will be the month of tearing thorns.

RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER AND THE BLUE JAY – Marilyn Armstrong

If there are two more aggressive garden birds in this part of the world, I have no idea what the might be. All garden birds are a little aggressive to other birds. Some birds, though, when they hit the feeder the other birds decide there’s a branch they’d like to visit elsewhere.

Matched pair?

All woodpeckers are aggressive — not based on their size. They are aware that they have very thick skulls to go with their deadly beak, so even bigger birds avoid them. Some of the smaller ones are more aggressive than the bigger ones.

Blue Jay

Blue Jay again

Blue Jays are aggressive. They attack the nests of other birds and eat or destroy their eggs. And if you get near a nest, don’t be surprised to have a phalanx of  Blue Jays attacking you. They don’t mess around.

One Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Eating well!

So it figures when both landed on the same feeder, it was eyeball-to-eyeball and neither backed down. They flew off together.

AN ARRAY OF PAST FLOWERS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOTD – April 23 – Past Flowers

It’s another grey, cold day. I’m not yearning for flowers as a dedicated gardener. I just long for color. It has been gray and often very dark gray almost all the time since last December. No snow all winter. A little in late autumn and very early December, then nothing until … April?

Solomon’s Seal

I cannot entirely blame climate change for our messy, cold, wet spring because spring is an awful season in New England. Everyone used to call it “Mud Season.” First, you’d get snow that lasted from Thanksgiving until late March or mid-April, then it would melt, often accompanied by torrential rains and a wet basement.

I also comforted myself by pointing out to me that at least we weren’t going to run out of water. Because from May or June through August, there was little or no rain at all.

Lilac

We went one year with not a single rainy day in May to one of two in June, so by August everything was tinder-dry. We were lucky to not have any fires. We did have a pretty big one last month, but they got it put out fast. Afterward, it rained heavily for a few days, which really put the sodden finishing touches on it.

Columbine

We had a ridiculously warm winter with the kind of torrential rain and wind we normally reserve for our so-to-speak spring. Then, it turned cold. Most of the winter was in the fifties and sixties and periodically, the 70s.

As soon as it became “technically” spring, the temperature at night dropped into the 30s and occasionally even colder and even in the middle of the day, it was only in the low 40s. This can be bearable if the sun would shine. I don’t need sun every day, but once in a while would be nice, especially if we got two days in a row without a storm!

Since our flowers are more than a little pathetic, I thought I’d find flowers of the past. Maybe I’ll feel warmer. You think?

Chinese lily

The Flowers

From Child’s Garden of Verses

– – –

All the names I know from nurse:

Gardener’s garters, Shepherd’s purse

Bachelor’s buttons, Lady’s smock

And the Lady Hollyhock

Tiny trees for tiny dames —

These must be fairy names!

Tiny woods below whose boughs

Shady fairies weave a house;

Tiny tree-tops rose or thyme,

Where the braver fairies climb!

Fair are grown-up people’s trees,

But the fairest woods are these;

Where, if I were not so tall,

I should live for good and all.

MAPLE FLOWERS – Marilyn Armstrong

MAPLE FLOWERS

Everyone knows that Maple trees make really great syrup. Also, lovely green leaves and gorgeous scarlet ones in the autumn. But did you know that they also flower before they leaves open? These flowers are very up in the air.


I can only see them from the picture window in the living room, the second floor. This Maple has grown, so they now are close to the roof.

But yesterday, right before the rain began, I got a few photographs of the flowers. I  love the color, deep dusty pink with yellow centers. The yellow centers will grow a lot and become pollen.

AN OPEN LETTER TO HUMANITY FROM PLANET EARTH. AGAIN – BY TOM CURLEY

Hi Humanity.

Earth here.

I just heard that today you are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.  You seem to think it’s a pretty big deal.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate you noticing me. I’ve been around for about 5-billion years and you just started noticing me, ‘ by my time frame, about a second ago.  Even so, I’ve noticed that you have started to make my surface a little better. And a lot cleaner. In the last few months, the pollution in my air has been dramatically reduced.

Animals and plants are thriving and all my birds seem to me in a much better mood than normal. You didn’t do it on purpose, but hey, it feels great to me. You seem to be getting sick and you all staying home all the time. I could go on, but I’m still binge-watching Tiger King on Netflix.  So I think I’ll just re-send you the letter I wrote to you last year.


Happy Me Day!!


Here’s the original letter:

Hello humanity. Earth here. Planet Earth. You’ve called me by different names like Gaia, Mother Earth, Terra, etc.

It really doesn’t matter what you call me as long as you don’t call me late for dinner. To be honest, I never got that joke. I’m not sure exactly what “dinner” is., but I’ve noticed it’s a popular joke with you folks.

Anyway, I’m writing this open letter because I’ve noticed a lot of you have been concerned with what you call “climate change.”  You seem to be concerned about “saving the planet.”

I’m flattered that so many of you are concerned about me. I mean, the dinosaurs were living on me for almost a billion years and never once did one of them even notice I existed. Now that I think about it, the fact they had brains the size of a walnut might have had something to do with that.

“How do you expect me to remember birthdays? You know my brain is the size of a walnut!”

I digress. Sorry. I do that a lot. I’ve been around for over four and a half billion years. Cut me some slack. Be that as it may, the reason I’m writing this letter to you is though I appreciate your concern about my welfare, you need to know you don’t need to save me.  I’m doing fine.

Earth’s day in court

I’ll continue to do just fine. Like I said, I’ve been around for over four and a half billion years and my surface is constantly changing.  When I started out, I was basically a really hot rock. The only thing I had to do was make volcanoes.

Granted, at first, it was interesting, but I got to tell you, after the first billion years or so, it got a little old. Next, it started raining. It rained for a long time, even by my standards.  All of a sudden almost three-quarters of my surface was covered in water.

That was cool.  I had clouds and snow and much better sunrises and sunsets.

Then the oddest thing happened. I’m not really sure how, but life formed. At first, it was pretty boring. Single-celled organisms that pretty much ate stuff and reproduced.

But then they got bigger and more complex. First small fish, then bigger fish. That was neat. Then a few of them left the water and started walking around on land.  That was weird.

Hey Phil! You got to come up here and see this!

The next time I took a look (you have to realize that your perception of time is different when you’ve been around for billions of years) I was covered in plants and trees and there were insects and dinosaurs everywhere. They were interesting but all they really did was wander around and eat each other.

Get in my belly!

Again, cool at first, but trust me, anything gets boring after the first hundred million years or so. Things were going fine until this big asteroid crashed into me. I gotta tell you, that one hurt. I remember thinking “Oww! That’s going to leave a mark!”

And it did. After that, the climate on my surface changed and all the dinosaurs disappeared.

Then you guys came along. Now realize, that by my standards you’ve only been around for about a year or so. Even so, I’ve been fascinated by watching you. You guys figured out how to use fire.

You invented the wheel. You created civilization. You created beer! Not one dinosaur in over 500 million years ever came close to doing anything like that. You guys did it after being around for only a few hundred thousand years.

Walt Kelley’s first Earth Day poster

I was impressed. Lately, and by lately I mean for maybe the last 40-thousand years give or take a millennium or two, you’ve been inventing all sorts of interesting things. I have to confess, I’ve really gotten into Netflix.

I have noticed that you’ve been changing my surface environment lately.

It’s definitely you folks doing it. It took me hundreds of millions of years to transform hundreds of millions of dead dinosaurs and plant life into coal and oil. You’ve managed to burn most of it and dump trillions of tons of CO2 into my atmosphere in a few minutes by my time frame.

Impressive.

You might want to stop doing that. After the asteroid hit, my surface changed so much that the dinosaurs died out. All of them. It happens. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to have a harder and harder time living on me. Trust me, you’re not the first living things that have come and gone, and you won’t be the last.

I have to admit, I’ll miss you guys. Like I said, I’m really into Netflix and you invented beer!

So basically, what I’m trying to tell you is even if you keep doing what you’re doing, I’m going to be fine. You don’t need to worry about me. You need to worry about you.

Sincerely yours,

According to Terry Pratchett

Earth

WILDLIFE IN THE WAY – Marilyn Armstrong

Despite all evidence to the contrary, I continue to hope that we will come to our senses and save our wild creatures. That being said, I have serious doubts that anything larger than a squirrel will survive in the wild.

I believe that all Earth’s large animals are doomed in their native habitats. Some will be gone soon. We will see the last of them in our lifetime.  The remaining species will succumb eventually. Tigers, wolves, lions, jaguars — all the big cats — as well as other large land animals — elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, apes and many more –will no longer have a home on this planet.

There will be no wild places.

Humans will, for a while, maintain controlled populations of various species in zoos and special habitats, as if that could make up for their disappearance. As if warehousing is the same as having a wild kingdom. We’ll see the end of tigers and elephants in less than a decade. It’s possible the rhinoceroses are already gone. If wolves are removed from endangered species status, they will be hunted to extinction in no time flat.

elephants-in-the-serengeti

Want to know why? Really? It isn’t the long complicated explanation you will get from environmentalists or public talking heads. Let’s skip past statistical analyses and the convoluted nonsense spouted by government officials and corporate stooges.

It’s simpler than that.

The animals will disappear because they are in our way. Animals don’t fit with human civilization. They are untidy. They eat cattle, goats, chickens, sheep. They trample fields, demolish gardens. They take up space that could be more profitably used for shopping malls and suburban subdivisions. They are more valuable dead than alive — and ever so much fun to kill.


Predators and large animals are inconvenient.


When humans find something — anything — inconvenient, we eliminate it. Kill it. Demolish it. Knock it down. Whether it’s a species, a river, a mountain, or a classic old building. If it’s in our way, we make it disappear.

There’s a moral to the story. We should all take care because we can be eliminated too. If we don’t watch our step, we will eliminate ourselves.

Siberian Tiger Français : Tigre de sibérie Ita...

If you think I’m exaggerating, please check out the Durell Wildlife Foundation, which is one of many organizations desperately trying to save what is left of our wild creatures. Durrell is my favorite, probably because Gerald Durrell who founded it was the writer whose work first got me interested in wildlife and saving it.

IF WISHES WERE HORSES, WE COULD RIDE TOGETHER – Marilyn Armstrong

“If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride … ” – Old Proverb

I do not know what a wish looks like, though I think it might look like a rising sun over a glassy harbor. Beggar that I am, I wish for a horse to ride and one more. Gentle, well-schooled mounts so Garry and I can ride together again. And, I wish all of us the best life can give us — many sunrises on the shores of bright summer days.

96-Sunrise-Rockport-NK-1

Rockport Harbor at dawn

72-Percheron-Horses_06