AUTUMN’S ON THE WAY – Marilyn Armstsrong

September 16, 2019 – Autumn Leaves

Garry came back from the grocery and said that it looks like fall is showing up! So I’ll get some new pictures soon … if it doesn’t rain constantly. Last year, it rained almost every day through the end of September and then it got very warm and humid in early October. Instead of Autumn, the leaves just curled up and fell off the trees.

It started raining almost as soon as Garry got home, but if it will stay dry for a couple of weeks and give us some chilly nights, there will be pictures. Meanwhile, a look at previous Autumn seasons. We’ve had some really fabulous ones … and we’ve also had a bunch of duds. Let’s hope for a good one. I need a good Autumn. It would definitely lift my spirits!

SHARING MY VERY DAMP WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 9-3-19

From Melanie: Wow. September. Where did the summer go?  I’m not at all sure…anyway.  This week finds us with some more questions, but this week they’re all ‘deep’ ones requiring a little thought. Enjoy!”

I know where MY summer went and I hope I can forget it ASAP.

Spring was long, nasty, cold, and full of hard-driving rainstorms with lots of wind. We didn’t get a real winter. No real snow at all, so we got our first blizzard (the only blizzard, actually) around my birthday in early March.

Finally, it started to warm up, but mostly, it rained. And rained. The wind howled and sometimes it was raining so hard and for so long the house sounded like a loud faucet was running somewhere. Now that Garry can hear, he was amazed at how loud rain can be. It reminded me why I didn’t spend the extra money on a steel roof … and why I wish I had — at the same time.

Raiin on the window

A steel roof is forever, or at least as close to forever as any roof can get. It’s also noisy. Rain, sleet, hale … it’s like a million little beasties racing madly around your roof. Not to mention that they cost at least four times what a standard asphalt roof costs. But they never leak and they don’t grow lichens or other greenery, either. Win some, lose some. You take your best guess and hope it works out.

As soon as it warmed up, we grew a million daylilies and that was great, but we’d get one day of sun or at least gray skies followed by three days of howling winds and torrential rain. It was mud city. You couldn’t even mow your lawn because it was sodden.

That was followed — finally — in August, with lovely, cool dry weather. And Eastern Equine Encephalitis mosquitoes and all the nice autumn fairs got canceled because the killer mosquitoes were out.

Aw, c’mon! Really?

This was approximately when I realized something was wrong on the south-west side of the house. All that rain, you know? The climate change that hasn’t arrived seems to indeed have arrived. At least here it has.

Now, we need to strip off the vinyl, remove the mush that’s underneath it, and replace the wall, or at least most of the lower level with a new wall. Get rid of the rotting door and replace it with a window (we never use the door anyway) and get a carpenter to repair the wooden doors to the shop.

Rainy morning squirrel shaking rain off his coat

I’m wishing we’d had time to powerwash the house because it’s green with mold. Did you know vinyl can grow green mold? It’s not lethal or poisonous. It actually looks like green pollen that got stuck. It just isn’t attractive.

It made me realize for all the years we’ve been paying insurance on our houses — since 1965 — they have yet to actually pay for any damage to any house in any state. Talk about being taken over by corporations. You know all those advertisements about how insurance companies are protecting you? They aren’t.

It’s a lie. The only thing they are protecting is the value of the property owned by the mortgage company. I can’t even calculate how many years we’ve paid home insurance and it never crossed my mind that they don’t cover anything except a tree falling on the house (unless they decide you should have taken down the tree in which case it’s your fault anyway), and fire. They might cover home invasion, but I’m not sure.

I’m still thinking about the post I will write about this, how we are forced — absolutely required — to pay for home insurance or we can’t get a mortgage. Why don’t we read all the little tiny print on the policy? Because we have to have insurance, so no matter what it says, we will sign it.

It’s just like accepting the terms of your operating system for your PC or Mac. Sign or don’t use your computer. There is no option to argue about the terms, so you sign. Nobody reads them.

The most common lie everyone everywhere tells is that they read and understand the terms of that contract. NO ONE reads it and if we did understand it, what difference would it make? We can’t NOT sign it.

And now, on to the questions.

QUESTIONS:

When you’re 90 years old, what do you suppose will matter most to you?

Breathing.

What’s the best way to spend a rainy afternoon?

Brooding on how we used to sometimes have sunshine and playing bridge on the computer.

What is one thing you don’t understand about yourself?

How I lived long enough to see the world change into this bizarre, hate-filled mess.

When was the last time you tried something to look ‘cool’ (hip), but it ended in utter embarrassment?  Details?

About a year ago, my granddaughter dyed my hair to get the yellow out of it. It wasn’t utter embarrassment. It actually looked pretty good.

We have a lot of iron in our well water and it turns everything pink or yellow — Including my white hair. I bought some more of the same dye. I hope I don’t make a total mess of the project.

FEAR AND LOATHING BY THE RIVER – Marilyn Armstrong

Since we came to the Valley, trips to the river to take pictures has been part of our life, often the high point of our lives. Now, with the hidden lurking diseases brought by southern mosquitoes that are part of our ongoing climate change, everyone is just staying inside.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

It’s ironic. We’ve had horrible weather all through the spring and much of the summer. It has been much too hot and muggy to go anywhere … or it has been storming with falling trees and broken branches and periodic outages of cable and power.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Now, finally, the weather is lovely. Warm, bright, and comfortable. It’s the kind of weather that makes you feel like you don’t have weather. It just feels good. Or it would if we were afraid that one of our local poisonous mosquitoes might bite and infect us with Eastern Equine Encephalitis or West Nile Virus.

Blackstone River at the end of August

We didn’t have these diseases a decade ago but as the temperature has risen a little higher each year — this year being a record-breaker — the mosquitoes have moved up the coastline from the deep south to New England. We’ve had small batches of them before, but they never moved in the way they have this year. Usually, the winter is cold enough to kill off the larvae. Come spring, there are few living mosquitoes and they have to breed all over again.

That’s the way it’s supposed to be. But not this year. Winter wasn’t cold enough for long enough to kill off the larvae. And the summer, usually hot and dry, has been sodden and wet creating a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.

They are supposed to spray for mosquitoes tonight, depending on the weather. The Commonwealth will spray at least a couple of more nights.

That won’t really kill the mosquitoes completely. Only a long, killing frost will accomplish that. Will we have one? Or will it be, as it was last year, a stormy fall with almost no color? We never got the snap of cold that brings on color. The wind and rain blew the dying leaves off the trees before they had a chance to brighten.

It was a pathetic version of autumn. Winter was too warm with no snow until the middle of March. Just a couple of weeks followed by a long, sodden, chilly spring. An ugly spring.

All of this was insufficient to winterize our region. The river didn’t freeze. I’m sure there were hoards of depressed young hockey players who never got to hit a puck into a net.

So actually going out today made us both feel endangered. It was the kind of hidden danger I hate because you can really see the mosquitoes and being by the river is close to their favorite haunts. Garry was clearly nervous and while we shot some pictures, we didn’t shoot many and left early.

Climate change is going to eventually harm everyone, everywhere. It’s no myth and there’s no argument among scientists about its reality. The argument is among politicians and business people worried about how it will affect the short term economy. They aren’t thinking by ignoring it, they are setting us up for a permanently unlivable world.

They don’t care.

A VINTAGE FARM TRACTOR AS GARDEN ORNAMENT – Garry and Marilyn Armstrong

Weekend Writing Prompt #120 – Vintage

This is getting to be a very vintage house. Two vintage owners, three dogs, two of them vintage (13). The house isn’t new either. Of course, I collected (now re-homing) ancient Chinese porcelain from Neolithic to Qing. Anyone want to start a collection? I’m not asking for money, just a good home and you pay the shipping costs. They don’t weigh much.

I’m just worried that they need a safe place to continue their very long lives and won’t wind up in a dumpster after I’m gone.

My favorite vintage item is still my 1928 Fordson tractor. It’s not repairable but it does make a nice garden decoration. Highly photogenic!

THIRD HUMAN CASE OF EASTERN EQUINE ENCEPHALITIS (EEE) IN MASSACHUSETTS – CBS NEWS

BOSTON (CBS) – The state’s Department of Public Health has confirmed a third human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), this one from northern Franklin County.


Mosquito spraying in Worcester Country begins today depending on the weather. There will probably be several spraying, again depending on the weather. Avoid going outside at dusk and dawn.

Wear long sleeves, long pants, and use DEET. It can be lethal to humans. Dogs are less likely to get it than people or horses — and when they do, it tends to be milder. It can kill horses as well as llamas and alpacas. There is no human vaccine, but there is a vaccine for horses. This situation will continue until hard frost.

We need a cold winter with less rain.


The latest victim is a man older than 60.

Massachusetts has not seen a human case of EEE since 2011 until this summer when now-three people contracted the virus.

The risk level in the towns of Heath and Colrain in Franklin County has been raised to critical.

A horse in Mendon and a horse in Uxbridge, both towns in Worcester County, have also tested positive for the EEE virus. The risk in those towns has also been raised to critical.

Massachusetts EEE risk levels as of Aug. 19 (WBZ-TV)

The threat caused Mendon to cancel Saturday night’s “Mendonfest” because it’s scheduled during peak biting hours.

“2019 is really turning out to be not just an active year, but a very active year,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown.

Dr. Brown said several factors are contributing including changing temperatures and precipitation along with the shifting types of mosquito species.

“Because we’re seeing an increase in the populations of the mammal biting mosquitoes, we think that might be one of the reasons that the cycle is changing a little bit as well,” Dr. Brown said.

Earlier this week, DPH and the Department of Agricultural Resources said aerial spraying in specific areas of Worcester and Middlesex counties is scheduled to begin Sunday, Aug. 25. As a result of the elevated risk in several communities, the spray zone has been expanded. The additional communities either partially or fully in the spray zone are Blackstone, Douglas, Dudley, Holliston, Hopedale, Mendon, Millville, Oxford, Uxbridge, and Webster.

In total across Massachusetts, there are 23 communities now at critical risk, 22 at high risk and 52 at moderate risk for the EEE virus. So far, EEE has been found in 330 mosquito samples this year, many of them from species that can spread the virus to humans.

EEE symptoms can range from a stiff neck, headache, and lack of energy to dangerous complications like inflammation and swelling of the brain.

The risk of EEE will remain until the first killing frost.

Aren’t we glad that climate change is a myth?

AUGUST: DOG AND OTHER DAYS – Marilyn Armstrong

August 2012 through 2019

A little photographic journey around the northeastern end of the American continent.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Rockport, Massachusetts at sunrise

I didn’t have a single fire pump for Cee’s challenge, so I went back through seven years of August. From Glocester to Rockport, from Connecticut to Maine … these are the hot, humid, hazy days of late summer in New England.

PLENTY OF WATER IN THE WATERSHED – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Water

Our valley is full of rivers. Mostly, it is full of the Blackstone which winds its way down from the Worcester hills to its end in Newport, Rhode Island. Incidental to its biggest river, are several substantial tributaries including the Mumford in the heart of Uxbridge and a few others.

Hard to say if they are creeks or smaller rivers, but lots and lots of water from tiny little streams, to large lakes, to big shallow ponds beloved by swans and geese for nesting.

Red kayak by the Blackstone
Paddling up the river
Bridge over the Blackstone
The dock at River Bend
Great Blue Heron
Shiny canal in summer
Autumn at the lake in Webster
Blackstone Gorge – Photo: Garry Armstrong
Spillway on the dam
Manchaug – Photo: Garry Armstrong
Upward at Roaring Dam