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.
I took more than 2000 pictures in May, but June, not so many. Part of that was taking down the bird feeders. I really miss the birds. I got a few bird pictures early in June before I emptied the feeders. I didn’t realize how much I counted on being able to take great pictures without driving somewhere or even trekking outside with the camera.
But on the other hand, Rich Paschall came to visit from Chicago and it was great. To finally meet someone you’ve known online for many years was a huge treat. Despite it raining the entire time he was here, we still managed to get outside to take some pictures.
Mostly, it has rained. We are hoping to paint our deck. Owen power washed it, but we need two days of dry weather and then a third to do the painting. We have yet to get three non-rainy days in a row. We live in hope.
The pictures which follow are mine and Garry’s, taken whenever and wherever it wasn’t raining. We tried to cover as much territory as we could. Not bad, all the wet weather considered!
Rich, Marilyn, and Garry by the Blackstone Canal
The stone bridge in the rain
Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong – Marilyn and Rich along the Canal
The big Canal locks and a couple of bloggers with cameras!
The Blackstone Canal
Smiling, Rich and Garry along the Canal
Photo: Garry Armstrong – Blackstone River
By the Blackstone in Smithfield, Rhode Island
Yellow flowers in the river
Off he goes
Tom and Ellin, Marilyn and Garry in the Marina, Connecticut
Photo: Garry Armstrong
Along the dock — Can you spot Tom?
Cleaning the boat
Photo Garry Armstrong
Queen Anne’s Lace again
Columbine along the picket fence
Still more buds than flowers, but a very quick movement
Field of flowers
Birds and Squirrels
Lady Cardinal on a branch
About The Changing Seasons
The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.
If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:
The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):
Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them
The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):
Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.
If you do a ping-back to Su-Leslie’s post, she can update it with links to all of yours.
It was our time for a bit of R & R in the lush Connecticut woods, far from the madding crowd. It’s another world where we can recharge our life force and mental batteries.
Our hosts are the kindly friends for whom we are grateful. We’ve known Tom for more than 50 years dating back to our days in college when we and our world was young. We’ve known Ellin – it seems forever – or since she married Tommy and immediately improved the quality of life for all of us.
Our mini-vacation included time at the marina where everyone seems utterly relaxed — except when they are rehabbing their boats for another summer on the water. The much-maligned weather put on a good face for us.
Sunshine and summer-like temperatures were abundant. It was warm but not uncomfortable. The breeze from the water made it almost perfect as we relaxed for an afternoon of doing absolutely nothing.
Tom apologized for not taking the boat out because the water was a bit too choppy for his taste. No worries, we repeatedly told him as we soaked up the afternoon sun, chatting about stuff that brought giggles and contentment. Really. NO worries!
I enjoyed looking at the names of the boats in the marina and wondering about the folks who owned them. I’ve never wanted to own a boat but have fantasies, thanks to Bogie in “Key Largo” and other movies which romanticize the boating life.
I’ve always thought I’d name my boat “The Busted Flush” after fictional detective Travis McGee who chased bad guys in his trusty little houseboat which also provided room for romantic interludes with his miscellaneous yet somehow dubious love interests. Hey, just a passing fancy.
Tom has schooled me in the difficulties of keeping “Serenity” in running condition. I’m good being a guest.
There’s so much to see just relaxing with Tommy and Ellin in the Marina. The setting is soothing. You can drift off mentally without a worry. No obsessing about what’s happening in our politically-challenged world. That stuff is blocked out for a few precious hours. I could actually feel my heartbeat slowing. Just what the doctor ordered.
Back at “La Casa Bonita” of Tom and Ellin, it’s more of the easy life — at least for us, the guests. The conversation ramps up during the evening “News Hour.” Imagine sitting between two guys who’ve logged 80 years in network and top market TV News. The old, war stories fill the air spiced with profanities that befit we who ducked idiot management suits from the “Tricky Dick Era” to today’s “Follies of Donzo.”
We can name drop with the best of them. Hell, Tom and I have probably sent myriad suits seeking psychiatric care because we refused to tolerate their idiocy.
Tom is the master of his impressive entertainment room. He’s introduced Marilyn and me to shows and movies we never knew existed.
One thing that impressed me — I looked and looked around the walls and notices no awards reflecting Tommy’s long and accomplished career at the highest level of TV News. I know he’s been in the cross-hairs of some of the biggest news stories over half a century. No collection of hardware — unlike me. Tom doesn’t need any stinkin’ bodges.
Marilyn and I were very reluctant to leave Tommy and Ellin and the comfy good feeling they bestowed on us, but our dogs were calling us homeward.
We have an invite to return with Tommy taking us for a trip aboard “Serenity” when the seas are smoother. I’m already dreaming about it.
From New Years on, Tom counts down the days until he can start working on the boat to get it ready to go back in the water. It spends its winters shrink wrapped and up on pilings in the parking lot of the marina, squashed together with all the other beached boats.
Shrink wrapped bow of the boat
Shrink wrapped stern of the boat
The first thing we have to do each spring is getting off the shrink-wrap. This involves lots of cutting and rolling of the large sheets of plastic protecting the boat from the winter elements. This usually takes one day, which is not too bad. But it’s not as easy as it sounds.
Tom on the inside during the cutting process
Tom cutting off the shrink wrap
Then comes the cleaning, which is a big production. The bottom has to be painted and the hull has to be waxed and buffed. On a 40-foot boat, that’s a lot of waxing and buffing!
It also has to be over 55 degrees and dry for Tom to be able to do this kind of work and this year the weather has not been cooperating.
We had a few warmer days and he got a lot done, but then it either rained or was too cold for over a week. Tom’s brother came down to help him work on the boat, but they only got one good day out of four. This time of year the weather is always erratic, but it seems to be getting more schizophrenic each year.
The fiberglass and the metal railings on the inside of the boat also have to be cleaned and Tom likes to get this done while the boat is out of the water. That’s because once the boat is in the water, Tom gets lazy and just wants to relax and enjoy it.
My job is the interior cabins on the boat. While it’s still out of the water, I do the annual thorough cleaning. Everything is covered in black soot and dirt and is disgusting. I throw away a garbage bag full of black paper towels. But I persevere and clean every inch of the boat, including the two toilets, the bathroom floors (by hand) and the shower. This is my least favorite day of the year.
Once I’ve cleaned the inside, I take home all the sheets and towels, wash them, bring them back to the boat and make the bed and put the clean towels out.
Then I have to stock the kitchen. I have to wait until the boat is in the water because the only way onto the boat in the parking lot is by ladder and I don’t want to carry heavy grocery bags up a shaky ladder. Stocking the kitchen is like stocking a house – I have to buy every necessary item in my kitchen, starting from scratch.
I need basics like coffee and tea, salt, pepper and sugar, herbs and spices, condiments like ketchup, mustard, mayo, barbecue sauce, and salad dressings, and items to cook with like butter, oil, vinegar, chicken stock, onions, tomato sauce, etc. Then there’s snack food and company food because people are always stopping by for a drink on the dock. So I need cheese and crackers, chips and dips as well as cookies and other sweets.
Herbs and spices at home
Condiments I have to duplicate for the boat
The other trick in shopping for a boat, is I have to try and find the smallest versions of everything so I can fit it all in my small kitchen.
When the kitchen is stocked, my last job is to clean the deck and the flybridge. That has to be done last because Tom keeps all of his cleaning items strewn all over these areas. It looks like a bomb went off at West Marine. Once he finishes his cleaning and puts everything away, I get to do the final job.
That’s when the boating season officially begins for us.
We are in Connecticut and it is snowing. We knew it was going to snow, but it was only a maybe. Meanwhile, the white stuff is falling, but before the snow began, I saw the title for this and said “Oh, hey, I’ll take a few pictures of the stream.”
Then I bumped into WordPress’s new — and incredibly buggy — format. It is currently not usable and I’ve been trying to get back to the old format since this morning. It’s seriously full of bugs and you should wait before you even consider trying it out. I’m not kidding. It may eventually be okay, but right now, it is what I call “unfinished software.” There are actually good ideas in it, but it has clearly NOT been beta tested and there are so many missing elements, it should never have been released until they made it suitable for customers to use. Shame on their software department for putting out a product that is so full of bugs it is functionally useless.
Don’t go there. It’s really not ready to use. They are going to need months to get it to work properly, so stay with whatever already works for you.
And finally, here I am again.
And this next one is definitely NOT the stream, but Roaring Dam in Blackstone. But it’s a great picture of water in motion.
Tom’s brother, Todd, came down to visit for a week and he brought his six-month-old Catahoula Leopard Dog, Houla. with him. It was like having a toddler around! We spent four days on the boat with the three dogs. It was exhausting to supervise the puppy, but it was also a lot of fun.
Here are some photos from our time on the boat with our dogs.
You could stand in the cove and feel the sands move out from underneath your feet. You could walk a little and feel the brush of underwater grasses against your ankles and see the tiny baby fish, schools of them looking for a tiny something to nibble.
It was warm there. Especially in the morning, when all you could see were the fishermen going out in little boats. Sometimes, they would come back with a lobster, smile at you. Then they would toss you the lobster. Just because they were happy and you were smiling.
The thing about that world was people were nice for no reason at all. They would give you things because you were there, the sun was shining, and the sea was warm. We didn’t need to talk, though we did urgently needed to dance.
Oh, how we danced. Steel drums beating so loudly in a cement basement, steamy in the heat of September on a Caribbean night. I’d like to go back now, even without the dancing. Just for the peace of that place — far away and long ago.
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