BIRDS AND AN EARLY SNOW – Marilyn Armstrong

It was very cold and it was not supposed to snow, at least not here. It snowed all over the northern part of New England and Canada. In Chicago and Minnesota. Then, it snowed — just a little bit — here. Although I am a firm believer in climate change, New England has always had an erratic weather pattern.

We have winters so snowy we have nowhere to push it. Warm winters with no snow. Winters when it’s just like fall until spring … and that’s when the blizzards hit.

The biggest blizzard to ever hit New York was in 1888 on my birthday, March 11th. In fact, I was born the day after a blizzard so maybe it was my fate to wind up living where the snow can be relentless and the snow is so high that driving is like being in a tunnel.

A pair of hungry birds

So even though today’s storm was not even an inch deep, it was the warning. It’s going to be a long, cold winter. Snow in November isn’t common, but it isn’t rare, either. It almost always means a hard winter is on the way.

After the squirrels got through eating half the food we put out yesterday (and we have none left until the next delivery), the birds attacked the feeders with energy and fervor. I sure hope they deliver the food tomorrow.

Our squirrels need a diet and you can see the snow falling.

TOO MANY BIRDS! – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Rely

Be careful what you wish for. I wanted more birds? I got more birds. I have new birds I do not recognize, or at least don’t recognize them as the usual local avians. There is a white one with a cockade that looks like a huge, overgrown Titmouse, but he’s the size — maybe even bigger — than the Blue Jays. He looks like a Gray Jay but might be an immature flycatcher. I rely on my bird books and the Audubon lists on the Internet, but so far, they have failed me.

The birds are moving as the weather moves, so it can be hard to ascertain if that bird now lives here or you’ve got the identity all wrong.

Everything except the finches have returned. There are no finches. They may still be nesting in Canada and I think I spotted a house finch the other day, but I didn’t get a good enough look at it. They may have been pushed out of the feeders by the squirrels or Blue Jays.

We are out of bird food. They ate 36 pounds of food in about a month and that is a LOT of bird food. We need to check out the feed and grain stores and see if we can come up with something they will eat that costs less. I can’t afford $100 worth of birdseed in a month. That’s more than the dogs — including their medication — cost. And of course, there are the squirrels who eat at least half the food — if not more. I wanted birds? I got them!

Chickadee and Titmouse

Mom, he took the WHOLE FEEDER!

One little nuthatch

Two Tufted Titmice

More Titmice

Name that bird! The size of a Blue Jay with a very small crest in black or dark blue

Titmouse in early (very early!) sunset

SHARE YOUR WORLD 11-12-2019 – Marilyn Armstrong

Sharing My World – 11/12/2019

Questions:

Is copying and pasting images or information from the Internet considered plagiarism?  

Yes. Absolutely.

Do you credit those whose work you ‘borrow freely’ or do you think the idea is repugnant?  

First of all, do you steal from your friends and think it’s okay? How about stealing from casual strangers? Is that okay? Because “the idea is repugnant” doesn’t cut it. Plagiarism is ILLEGAL. Period.

If you didn’t write it and you are copying it, it is plagiarism and it doesn’t matter where you got it. You can’t always find out who wrote stuff and when you can’t find any evidence of the author, there’s nothing you can do about it. But if you are taking it from Wikipedia or any blog, you need to give them credit for authorship. Even if you are just using a piece from someone’s blog, you should give them at the very least, a link and a shout-out.

Plagiarism IS a crime. If you are a non-profit blog and you give credit, most people are okay with that. If you make a profit-making organization, you may have to pay to use the material. If you can’t pay the price, don’t use the material.

If you are using a photograph, at the very least, do NOT remove the author’s signature. I don’t mind people using my pictures, but I really resent when they remove my signature as if no one took the picture. That is insulting.

Do you let sleeping dogs lie?

If they aren’t barking, oh sleep my darlings. Sleep.

What’s the strangest pet name (for adults) that you’ve ever heard someone called?

Pagan – Ch. Goose Creek’s Dancing In The Dark

I’ve heard so many, I really can’t remember them all. Although the dog we got whose name was Pagan. Her registered name was Goose Creek Ch. Dancing in the Dark, but everyone called her Pagan was a favorite.

Do you like to dance?   If yes, what’s your favorite and if no, why not?

I was never a good dancer, but I could get up and not totally make a fool of myself. I really wish I’d been better.

Gratitude Question:

November brings Thanksgiving to Americans.  I know Canada celebrates Thanksgiving too, but I believe it’s in October.   Does your country celebrate a similar holiday?   If you’d like, share some traditions you observe around Thanksgiving or if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, what are some traditions you have?

We get together as a family and have dinner. We do it because everyone feels they need to do something. But I’m not sentimental about it and if it doesn’t happen, I’m okay with that, too. I’m also good with pizza for dinner and a good movie.

WINDOWS ON MY WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Windows On My World

My big windows on the world all need cleaning. the ones in the back are easy because you can stand on the deck and just wash them, but the ones in front of the house are two stories up. The ground in front of them is soft and muddy from the constant rain and someone stole our two-story ladder. Eventually, they will become sunglasses … or I’ll have to hire someone to clean them. Not this year, though. Or next. Too many other things need doing.

I am in the middle of a mental muddle.

I have a big collection (not, fortunately, as big as it used to be!) of antique Asian art and hundreds of dolls from the 1930s through 1970s, all in pretty good shape. Some are still rather new, tags and all.

No one wants the pottery, which is heartbreaking. To me, these are pieces of the past. I hold one of these pieces and I can see the world in which they were born. I wonder how many hundreds — thousands? — of people have held them and in how many homes they were things of beauty. But unless I can find homes for them, these irreplaceable pieces will disappear from the world forever.

When you get to my age and the age of my friends, no one is collecting. Everyone is trying to find homes for things because we are suddenly sharply aware that we aren’t going to live forever and those pieces of porcelain aren’t going to live forever on the mantel or the shelves or cabinets. The idea of all of these things going to some big dumpster makes me a little bit sick.

Seriously: if you know someone who wants them, free, no strings, please let me know. I’ve run out of local places with room for them and my friends are my age and don’t want more of anything.

Does is really matter if the world has one more Han pot or Tang horse? I don’t know.

What about all the dolls of youth. Toys represent the world in which we live more than anything except maybe books. They show how we viewed children, especially girls and their roles in the world. I would love to know they will survive!

DOWNSIZING YOUR LIFE – BY ELLIN CURLEY

One of my friends, Rachel, is trying to get her 94-year-old mother, Blanche, to clean out the house she’s lived in for 45 years. She’ll be moving from a big house in Long Island, NY to a small apartment in an independent living facility in Portland, OR. That’s where Rachel, Rachel’s two daughters, and Rachel’s brand-new granddaughter live.

Blanche is a ‘collector’ to put it charitably. She doesn’t like to part with anything. She has literally hundreds of paintings, many by her late husband, on the walls and floors of every room as well as in storage in her large basement. She has almost as many photos and photomontages and old holiday cards crowded onto every wall and piled on every flat surface in the house. Then there are the piles of books and papers literally everywhere. Rachel found a file cabinet with tax returns from the 1960s.

An example of a cluttered room

The problem is that everything is precious to Blanche. She feels that the house and its contents represent her life and she has trouble getting rid of anything. To me, she seems overly attached to the physical objects, which only represent the memories of the past. I’m not sure how the move will go because Blanche has not yet accepted that her smaller accommodations will not hold everything she insists she needs.

Another example of ‘stuff’ on every surface

This got me thinking about what I would do if I had to downsize dramatically. What would be important to me to keep with me? A good portion of my memories are in my photo albums. These start with my grandparents and go through my mom’s life, my early years, and my life with my kids. But the albums stop in 2002 when I married Tom. My kids were 22 and 17. My phone has most of the recent photos and I have boxes of photos that have not yet been put into albums. I can be happy with my mish-mash of photographic memories.

Some of my photo albums

I’m also lucky in that I have written a lot of biographical material over the years and I’ve collected my writings into binders. For 40 years I’ve written humorous, rhyming poems commemorating birthdays, anniversaries and father’s and mother’s days. My early poems were ostensibly ‘from’ my young son, David, so they documented his early years and his relationships with his family and loved ones. Then I started doing poems about the birthday person and I branched out into major events like Bar Mitzvah’s and weddings.

But my major biographical opus is my collection of blogs for Serendipity that tell my family history starting with my grandparents’ early years. I documented stories from my parents’ lives, my childhood, and my kids’ childhoods into the present day. I also wrote blogs about relationships that shaped our lives and I arranged the blogs in a sort of chronological order. I ended up with a 370-page document that I am very proud of. I have given copies to both of my children so they will always have their family stories close at hand.

Because I have so many of my cherished memories saved in photographic or written form, I think that I could pack my ‘life’ into just a few boxes. I’m not really attached to my furniture – except for a beautiful, custom made kitchen table embedded with sea glass and a matching sea glass mobile. I do love some of my chatchkis, particularly my glass and paperweight collections and a few things from my mom and grandmother. But I could live with just a few of them, decoratively placed around my living space.

So I don’t think I’ll drive my kids crazy if I ever have to leave my home and move to a smaller place. I’ve already condensed my past into manageable form.

However, my jewelry is another story!

MORE BIRDS OF VARIOUS FEATHERS – Marilyn Armstrong

I almost have my graphic software working again. There are also a few more downloads waiting for me to say “yes.” Right now, I’m in a very “no” kind of mood. Maybe Monday I’ll be ready to redo this whole mess again. Or maybe Tuesday.

Meanwhile, though I still have some fun pictures from yesterday’s dinner dervish by the feeders. And I still don’t know what those big grey birds are. They aren’t showing up in my bird book. And there’s a big white one that looks like a Tufted Titmouse, but he’s twice their size and he’s almost entirely white except for some slashes of black on his wings.

And one really fat white bird!

Name that bird!

Birds in sunlight

Handsome Chickadee

Sharing dinner

Tufted Titmouse (I think) about to take flight

And no doubt more tomorrow. As the weather gets colder, the birds get more audacious about feeding!

THE SWING – Robert Louis Stevenson

FOWC with Fandango — Youth

The Swing

The swingset for grownups

I still want a swing set! I already have two of them, but I want one like I had in the playground as a youth!

How do you like to go up in a swing,
   Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
   Ever a child can do!
Up in the air and over the wall,
   Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
   Over the countryside—
Till I look down on the garden green,
   Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
   Up in the air and down!

Through the wooden glider