GREAT LIGHT FOR AN ALL BLACK DOG – Marilyn Armstrong

Great light for an all-black dog 


With two black Scotties in the house, getting a good picture of them is really difficult. If there’s too much sun, the sunlit parts look like white patches. If there isn’t enough light, all you see is a fuzzy lump. We recently got Gibbs groomed and he looks very dapper. They trimmed him tightly — not like a show dog but like a dog you are trying to keep clean during a long, muddy winter.

Good light for solid black fur is bright, but not sunny. A day with a flat gray sky with the pictures taken just before the sun came around to the western side of the house. I think this is as good as it gets from the point of view of light for this picture.

Gibbs really looks like the Wolfman. Poor Larry Talbot!

Gibbs has the most soulful eyes.

With the snow and rain coming in waves and the temperature going from bitterly cold to almost spring in as little as three hours — it jumped 40 degrees today between 8 in the morning and noon — gooey mud is a big issue. So are ticks and fleas because we haven’t had weather consistently cold enough to put them into cold storage.

I figured I’d better take pictures while he still looked good. In another week, he’ll look all grubby again.

FAMILY PHOTOS – Marilyn & Garry Armstrong

It was a lovely day and we went to take pictures. But there wasn’t anything going on in the parks. It was hot — as it has been all month — and everyone is staying home with their air-conditioning.

So we took pictures of each other. We were, after all, the only people there.

Garry, upward

Marilyn

In black & white

Figuring out why the lens isn’t zooming

Garry

On the green lawn

Still Garry

Finally, a proper focus!

We got some nice pictures, but our plans for a cool day didn’t work out all that well. Our car ONLY went up to 99 degrees and after we started driving, it dropped down to 92. Not exactly comfortable. But we keep hoping and they keep promising!

 

SMILING WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Photo Challenge: Give us a Smile

Smiling pictures? I’d like to say it’s a specialty, but to be fair, birds, dogs, and squirrels aren’t big smilers. Since they constitute the majority of my pictures, I have to resort to (gasp!) pictures of people. In this case, my husband Garry — who smiles only slightly more often than the dogs.

Actually, Duke is a pretty good smiler — for a dog!

We thought the Sox were going to play a bit better, but they are perking up. So let’s smile!

Doctor and patient smiling. Hint: the doctor is wearing white.

Duke makes him laugh. Eventually.

Garry and Harvey Leonard, with a smile!

THREE OF A KIND – OR VERY CLOSE – Marilyn Armstrong

A Photo a Week Challenge: Three of a Kind

Last week, it was the rule of three, but this week, it’s three of a kind. This is pretty easy because I take the same pictures over and over hoping at least one of them will be perfect.

Nothing is ever perfect!

I was lucky. Garry actually liked all of these and a few others too.

THE WHITE ELEPHANT PARTY: A TAGALONG FROM MELANIE B CEE – Marilyn Armstrong

Look what that MELANIE B CEE gave me? What a sweetheart! That’s not a white elephant. That’s a saving grace!

From Melanie:

Okay, my gift recipients are … cough, cough … VICTIMS … cough, cough, cough …are the following: Marilyn (yeah I’m picking on you today). I hope you can use this.  I know I could! HEY SANTA?? You taking notes??!

christmas-hat-full-100-dollar-260nw-139679770

A giant Christmas stocking full of cash is no white elephant!

Is there enough money to repoint the chimney? Replace the kitchen window? Maybe even replace ALL the windows!

Oh, thank you thank you thank you!

Since so many of the people with whom I am online friends, what I will give all of you is a year of health, free of fear. Where no one hates you, no one is cruel. Where you can do what you enjoy and feel free and happy while you do it! To all of you on this first evening of Chanukah … be full of joy!

This is a joyous time of year and I send you all kisses and hugs and every sort of good feelings. May your books sell, your dogs and cats be healthy, and all your remaining parts work almost like new!

And just to keep this fun, here are some portraits of the many animals on the Commons yesterday during the preparation for the parade. Goats, sheep, and Vicuna! And one photographer.

The prettiest goat!

He could come to our place and keep my weeds cut … or at least, chewed

A very attractive sheep

And some vicuna,, a little abstract to blur faces

And one last portrait … and a reminder that — AGAIN — we will be gone all day at the audiologist at the hospital because it’s Garry’s three -month audiological checkup. There are going to be a lot of tests and a lot of tune-ups of all the equipment.

Lots of domination games in the pen. Reminds me of home!

And yes, I WILL  bring a camera this time. If I don’t have time to visit your blog, please forgive me.

It’s just going to be that kind of month. Doctors, vets, and actually a few cool parties that are long drives from here, but we’re going to try to go anyway. At least they aren’t in Boston, so we might actually get there!

DOCTOR AND PATIENT – Marilyn Armstrong

Today was Garry’s 3-month post-operative surgical appointment at UMass hospital.

He hasn’t had any problems at all with the surgery. Actually, he has not had any trouble with the process, except for the minor detail that every day is a surprise. Each new sound is something he has to recognize, then classify.

He hears the squeaky ball that Duke is chewing. He hears the trucks pulling into the driveway. He recognizes the opening and closing of the gate downstairs. He can hear his own breathing and finds it distracting. We all assure him he will learn to filter that kind of sound, as well as many other ordinary sounds that the rest of us automatically don’t notice.

It takes a lot of work to learn to hear when you are 76. Sounds that the rest of us have always recognized, he is hearing for the first time. It’s a lot of work and a lot of mental processing.

Garry and Dr. Remenschneider. When your doctor is not much older than your grandchild, you know you’ve put on a few years.

It can be a bit exhausting for him. I suspect sometimes all he wants is that old familiar silence where no one expects him to answer because they know he didn’t hear them.

Today he picked up the phone when it rang … and he heard it. He hates telephones and has for a very long time. It has a lot to do with getting calls from work at all hours of the day and night. Over the years it became a bit of a phobia. Hopefully, he will get over it. Because all of us deserve to have to listen to the other electric company’s spiel on how they will lower our rates (no they won’t). At least the political season is over for a couple of months so the surveyors won’t be calling. That’s something.

Dr. Aaron Remenschneider – and a great surgeon!

On the positive side, I am (finally) not the only one who wonders what that weird noise is in the basement. Also, when we have an argument, he knows what I said — which is not always ideal.

He is not the only one who has to learn new things. I have lost my role as permanent interpreter, which to be fair, I’m glad to lose. I have not lost my role in telling people to please speak up, especially the receptionists in the Hearing Clinic.

They speak so softly, I can barely hear them. Meanwhile, the people they are talking to are actually in the process of trying to learn to hear. I figure they should speak up. Put a little diaphragmatic air into your larynx and push it out through your vocal cords. That’s what makes it possible for others else to hear you.

It’s what speakers are taught. Actors and reporters, too. Sometimes, you don’t have a microphone. You just have you.

Okay, among other things, I was a speech major. Actually, I have a degree in it. I have never used the degree for anything except telling other people to “please speak up!”

Doctor and patient. Hint: the doctor is wearing white.

Garry is quite the star of the Otolaryngology Department. He can hear remarkably well for just three months into the program.

I expected him to be a star. When Garry works at something, he really works at it. He had to learn to speak properly with significant deafness. He learned it well enough to be on television every day for many years. So given this challenge, I knew he’d work at it as hard as he has ever worked at anything else in his life.

The hard work paid off. He can hear. I wish he had this option in his life many years earlier but if ever the expression “better late than never” had relevance, now is that moment.

Next week, he has his three-month audiological checkup. I bet he’s going to be a star.

SHINY HAIR: WHAT’S THE SECRET?

RDP Monday: LUSTRE

A friend of mine, also suffering from thinning hair, pointed out that at least my hair is shiny. It’s the result of insanely expensive shampoo and conditioner, a carefully chosen hairbrush … and unmitigated luck.

I don’t have a lot of hair … but by golly, it has lustre.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

The secret — other than the wildly expensive shampoo and conditioner? A very soft hairbrush, wash it ONLY when it is really dirty … like once a week. When it was a lot longer (waist length) and much thicker, I washed it every two to three weeks because the longer it gets, the more fragile it becomes. It was explained to me that the hair at the bottom was the oldest hair on your head.

For example, if you have been growing your hair for four or five years, even with regular end trimming, the hair at the ends has been around for four or five years. It is essentially dead, so treat it with great care.

Also, when your hair is that long, it takes a REALLY long time to dry and when I was working, I had to have a strategy. Wash hair Saturday morning and by Monday, it would finally be dry.

I had a best friend who was a hairdresser and always reminded me to NOT WASH YOUR HAIR EVERY DAY.

Your hair is supposed to have natural oils in it. The first time you let it go a few days, it feels weird, but after a while, it all settles down, so unless you’ve been gardening, running, or seriously exercising, your hair doesn’t need a daily scrubbing.

Of course, there are people who have fantastic hair that never seems to thin and always looks great no matter what they do to it. Sadly, I’m not one of them.

The other thing? DNA. You just have to have “that kind of hair.” I may not have a lot of it, but it is shiny.


Note: My hair is always tied back except when I sleep. When it was very long, it was always in a braid, including when I slept.

Why? I take pictures and my hair is fine. A little tiny bit of wind gets it into everything. It covers my eyes so I can’t take a picture because I can’t see anything. It gets tangled with my glasses. It sticks in my teeth. It’s hard to tell who sheds more — me or The Duke.

FROM THE BACK – Garry Armstrong

My Wife from the Back, Side, or Merely Off-Center


Marilyn does not like having her picture taken. She always feels fat or old or her hair is a mess and the clothing doesn’t fit. She would much rather be behind the lens than in front of it.

I have tested the limits of her patience. I sneak up from every direction. Determined to get a few good shots and I do. And anyway, since she does all the downloading and processing, she can just delete the ones she hates.

So this is a gallery of backward Marilyn.

Just the other day in Rhode Island … Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

ATTITUDE – A PHOTO A WEEK CHALLENGE – #FOWC- Marilyn and Garry Armstrong

A Photo a Week Challenge: Attitude & #FOWC


I once took a series of pictures of Garry. All of them came out kind of dull. He looked at them. I looked at them. He said, “Why didn’t you tell me I needed to give you some ‘attitude’?”

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Someone has an attitude. Horse or rider? Maybe both?

That was, believe it or not, the first time I’d heard that expression used as a photographic term. I’m not a portrait artist. What I do best are landscapes and casual portraits, more or less on the fly. I’ve done very few “formal” portraits. Anything else has been candid, at best.

Kaity (I think this is her “good side”)

But Garry worked on television, so he “got it.” He also knew “his good side,” something about which I knew nothing. To this day, I don’t know if I have a good side, but then again, I didn’t spend forty years in front of a camera.

Good side?

I have, however, spent more than 40 years on the other side, so I probably ought to know more. I guess this is what you get for picking it all up without any training at all. You know things, but you don’t know what to call them. Terminology doesn’t come with “hands-on” learning.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – An actual portrait! I’m even dressed for the event!

Garry is the only person in my current life who seems able to take a picture of me I don’t immediately hate and want to delete. He has a knack for finding the “me” under the wrinkles and bags of age.

And also: FOWC with Fandango — Attitude

QUIETYLY, DOGS AT HOME – Marilyn Armstrong

Quietly At Home

Just because.

My dogs are looking good. All freshly groomed and smelling rather better than they normally do. With all the mud and gunk outside, it won’t last, but I grabbed a few shots while I could.

I could not send the smell.

If Mr. Gibbs were a flower, I could link him up. But he is a dog. There’s no special dog link for him, but he was looking good today, so I thought I might show him off.

Mr. Gibbs, looking good

Aww. She’s so sweet

And then, of course, there’s the Duke …

 

GARRY’S COCHLEAR IMPLANT IS TODAY – Marilyn Armstrong

By the time you read this, we will be at the hospital and quite probably surgery will be underway or even finished. I guess it depends on what time zone you’re in.

This is exciting stuff. Nervous-making, too. It will be at least 5 weeks until he is out of bandages and fitted with all the technology.

Remi, Garry, Tom, and sunshine

After that, it will take a few more weeks while we wait for the magic to work. The technology doesn’t produce “natural” sound. It is essentially electronic, yet the brain converts it into “real” sound. Or, more to the point, makes it sound like whatever sound we recognize as “natural.”

How it does the brain do that? No one really knows for sure. It just does it. Why? That’s another thing we don’t know. It’s a little miracle in its own right.

What we know for sure is that it happens. At some point during the first few months, the brain converts those “electric” impulses into what it “knows” as “real” (normal) sound. For some people, it happens very quickly. For others, it takes a longer and there’s no predicting which way it will go. The important thing is understanding that it will occur and when it does, its magic time.

For Garry, it has been a lifetime waiting to hear. It’s also going to mean some big changes around here. For one thing, I’m going to have to stop muttering under my breath. For the first time in our lives together, he will be able to hear what I’m really saying.

DEBONAIR – IT’S A HARD ACT TO LIVE UP TO! – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC

And the word of the day is DEBONAIR!

My husband used to be the best dresser in Boston. He spent a fortune on clothing. He loved looking good. His father was a tailor and for him, a suit that fit perfectly was like a hot sports car — and he had one of them, too. Did I mention his 1969 hot orange convertible Challenger? He actually had a matching wristwatch — gold with an orange background. That’s what he was showing Tip O’Neill in this now almost-famous photograph.

Garry wanted to be debonair. Like Cary Grant. He loved the way Cary Grant wore clothing and over time, Garry became quite a clothes-horse. You’d never know it from his stretchy pants these days, but in his time, he was quite the dresser. He still irons a crease in his jeans because they need that crease or they don’t look right.

Except he almost never wears jeans anymore. He is retired and so is his wardrobe. But he keeps a few things because every now and then, he has to stand in front of an audience and look good.

He looks good!

Recently – Photo: Garry Armstrong

I always felt slightly underdressed in his company — even when he was wearing shorts and a tee-shirt. Even my father — who rarely noticed anything other than himself (a consummate narcissist) — remarked that Garry looked better dressed in a grungy pair of shorts and shirt than most people looked in a tuxedo.

It was hard for me to live up to that, but Garry was a big help to me in finding clothing that looked good on me. He had an eye for drape and line. Even our granddaughter wouldn’t go shopping for a prom dress without his help. That is something!

At Broadcasting Hall Of Fame, September 2013

He never managed to help Owen much, though, but Owen was allergic to nice clothing. Greasy jeans and tee shirts with holes were his thing from very early on. Clothing that didn’t have paint stains on them wasn’t worth wearing. I guess that’s the flip side of debonair? Anti-debonair?

These days, it’s all about comfort. Elastic. I warned him, though. Once you discover elastic, you’ll never go back. it’s true. After you have learned to love stretch, nothing else feels right.

Yoga pants forever!