ARTS AND BIRDS: A SMILE FOR THE WEEK – Marilyn Armstrong

The cleaning of the kitchen window has produced better pictures, but not nearly as good as they would be if I were outside taking them.

Every attempt I make to sneak outside, they fly away and they don’t come back until I go in the house. I can see them up in the branches, waiting for me to leave.

In warmer weather, I could sit quietly and wait and after a while, they would decide I’m a piece of furniture and come back, but today it was cold and rainy, so I wasn’t going to work well as a piece of furniture.

Two birds
Chickadee
One plump Chickadee

It’s hard to get a grip on whether or not I’ve sharply focused through a window. To be fair, shooting through glass — even very clean glass — is usually a problem for photographers. Either you get too much shine or reflections, or dirt smears so small you can see them come up bright and clear on the pictures.

Two little birds – Chickadee and Tufted-Titmouse

So, until I can go outside and pretend to be a chair, I’m going to be stuck with some good photographs that require artistic treatment.

And this is definitely my smile of the week! I made the birds happy and that made me happy, too.

IMPRESSION OF A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER – Marilyn Armstrong

No matter what anyone says, trying to be artistic with a picture you love that has flaws is a lot of work. I’ve been working on this one for hours. Literally at least two hours.

I tried it earlier, but the colors were all wrong. This time, the colors are closer to true, but I had to use a lot of filters to bring the colors at least close to the way they looked.

Impressionist red-bellied woodpecker …

Now I have to figure out how to get the shot without shooting through the grubby kitchen window at a 45-degree angle!

ONCE UPON A TIME … – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Erratic

Once upon a time, I was a total wacko. That is not an exaggeration. In my late teens, I was nuts. Big time.

Fortunately, by the time I hit my twenties, I had settled a lot of my hash. If I wasn’t exactly “normal,” I was no longer completely loony tunes. As the years have rolled on, I have become more “normal” and less crazy until these days, I’m about as normal as I will ever be. So far, so good which is really the story of my life.

I am not particularly erratic. I am, if anything, a bit inclined towards doing being extra careful. I write with great courage, but I walk with utmost care.

I don’t know if this is how life goes for others who started out pretty wild and weird. I have gone through periods of serious depression and with some good psychiatric talk therapy, found ways to climb out of them. I also learned to control a lot of the mind muck that used to turn me into a mental tar pit.

One shrink pointed out to me that depression wasn’t just a feeling. It was a reaction to life, that it could become habitual. You are depressed because you are always depressed and that is how you see yourself, understand yourself.

And from that point, because he hit a nerve with that observation, I began to be happier. I stopped looking for the dark places and started hearing joyful music.

It probably helped that I was madly in love with Garry.

No, you can’t have him. He’s mine.

UNUSUAL PAPERWEIGHTS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I have been lucky to find some very unusual paperweights over the years. I have made a point of collecting the unique ones and displaying them around my house.

Here are some of my favorites.

PHOTO CHALLENGE: ANIMALS IN NATURE – Marilyn Armstrong

Photo Challenge: Animals in Nature

I realized this omitted my dogs, the local milk cows, and the chickens. That left birds. I have seen many wild creatures, but I haven’t gotten their pictures. I can tell you about the tortoises and coyote, chipmunk, bobcat, and fisher cat. Squirrels, deer, rabbits, gophers and I know we have begun to have bears, too.

But when we get right down to it, what I have photographically, are birds.


Reflective 
Turtles
Geese swimming in one line down the Blackstone River 
Our own little Red Finch
Dirty water swan 

Cardinal in snow
Up and away! Photo: Garry Armstrong – Not wild, but maybe he should be? 
Junco, probably.
Great Blue Heron 
Black-crowned night heron 

GARRY DESERVES THE DUKE, BUT WHAT ABOUT ME? – Marilyn Armstrong

Duke is not our first dog. We’ve had a big selection of hounds, terriers, and mutts of various backgrounds, sizes, ages. Somehow or other they have all fit in here because anyone or anything can fit in here, assuming they want to. For years, there has been great howling and yapping and barking in this house and that’s the way we seem to like it.

Duke

The thing we’ve never had, however, are truly obedient dogs. We don’t demand obedience, so we don’t get it. I wasn’t a very good disciplinarian as a mom, either.

Discipline makes me feel guilty. Who am I to demand obedience? Who do I think I am anyway?

Garry is worse. Garry was born with a gene that says “whatever you tell me to do, I won’t do it.” It’s a special piece of DNA that screams “Oh yeah? Who’s gonna make me?” Even in the Marine Corps, when his drill instructor yelled at him, he laughed.

It got him a lot of days scrubbing bathrooms with toothbrushes, but it’s in his blood. He cannot help himself. I cannot help him either. He’s a tough nut. People think he’s so easy-going … and he is … unless you get him mad. Then he isn’t. Easy-going.

Duke is the dog Garry deserves. Duke also has no grip on “Do what they tell you. Be a GOOD dog.” You stare at Duke and he stares back. You can see every inch of Duke screaming “Oh yeah? Who’s gonna make me?”

Certainly not Garry. They try to stare each other down, but Garry starts laughing long before he manages to get obedience … and anyway, I don’t think Duke can do it. It’s not in him. The other dogs, if they hear that “tone” in my voice will do what I say because they hear the “alpha” note — and figure they ought to behave, even if it’s just a few minutes.

Not Duke. Nope. Never. He doesn’t do “obey.” He would make a feral cat look like a well-trained pup.

Unless I’m holding a piece of chicken. Chicken is another level of training and if I actually needed Duke to behave, I would need a lot of chickens. Possibly a whole cow. Or an entire flock of sheep and maybe a school of shrimp. Do shrimp swim in a school or is that just fish?

Anyway, Duke is the dog Garry needed. He is the dog that will go eyeball-to-eyeball with Garry until they are both laughing themselves silly. Well, Garry does most of the laughing, but I swear Duke is grinning.

So we know why Garry wound up with Duke, but what did the two Scotties and I do to deserve him?

EVEN MORE INTERESTING GLASS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I have even more interesting glass in my home. I’ve shared many with you already. Here are more I particularly like and think are unusual and maybe interesting.