POLITICS, WEATHER, AND LAST HURRAH SONGS – GARRY ARMSTRONG

I promised Marilyn I’d write a little something to ease her burden of SERENDIPITY blogs. It’s difficult to be prolific and creative. I recall that dilemma from my TV news days. It’s a grind turning out daily, quality pieces.

My mind is a whirling dervish of loose marbles, some of which also contain the germ of an idea.

I’ve had enough of presidential politics for a while. My hearing aids are on overload. The Donald’s clown car needs a lube job. Hillary and Bernie need to tone it down and treat themselves to a spa weekend. Together. Maybe spend a little time reminiscing about the good old days in the Senate.

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Politics has taken a temporary back seat to violent weather conditions disrupting many parts of the country. Those of us whining about dreary, endless rain would do well to look at regions battling killer fires, floods, and tornadoes.

The violent weather reminds me about the fragility of life. It also, in the dark recesses of my mind, reminds me of funerals and the music of such solemn gatherings. Weddings and funerals are big deals. They bring people together. Funerals can be awkward. Old animosities are suspended while the deceased are mourned. Music soothes the depressed, the craven, and those barely keeping it together.

I was at my best covering funerals during my years as a TV news reporter. I was allowed to stir the pot of sentimentality. Music was always the key. One time, I covered the last hurrah of a politician who was rumored to have had shady dealings in his past. Shocking, of course. Many were cynical about the praise heaped upon this scion of local politics. In this instance, I chose the high ground. My report was dominated by close up shots of grieving family, friends and colleagues.

I selected the Boston Irish favorite, “Galway Bay” as the music to dominate my piece. We ended the report with the casket being carried out of the cathedral into a gray, overcast day with the strains of “Galway Bay” echoing to the fade out.

I was lauded by many for providing just the right, sensitive touch for a man who was both adored and jeered in his lifetime. Music bridged the chasm.

I’ve given lots of thought about the music for my last hurrah. I’m a card-carrying sentimentalist. It juxtaposes with my cynicism. So,  I have a suggested play list for my final appearance on center stage as I begin the big sleep.

My favorites include “Nearer My God To Thee”, “Amazing Grace”, “Abide With Me”, “In The Garden”, “Shall We Gather By The River” and “Beautiful Savior” (my Mom’s favorite which my youngest brother plays at all his concerts).

The ringer could be “Happy Trails” because I’ll be riding the high country with my heroes – who have always been cowboys.

HOPING AGAINST HOPE

Back in the golden olden days, hope had two meanings: “wished for” and “expectation,” the latter meaning being (mostly) obsolete though we still use it. For example, “I would hope your future plans include a college education” which from a parent really means “I expect you to go to college, young lady!”

Today, “hoping-against-hope” would loosely translate to mean “Who — against expectation (logic and reason) — nonetheless believes that the thing(s) he/she hoped for will (still) happen?”

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Right now, I am hoping against hope that the rain will pause and let the sun shine for at least a little while. It has been a full week of rain.

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Chilly and damp, I’m sure the earth is happy for the moisture. I’m grateful to have the rivers and our well filled. Even so, couldn’t we fit a little sunshine into the mix? Just a bit?

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Our dogs have been extra cheerful since the rain started. I don’t know what that means, since they don’t like rain and are afraid of thunder. But, they’ve been in a super good mood since the first downpours on Sunday.

I asked them (several times and I was very respectful) what’s happening, but they have not been forthcoming.

Daily Post: Hope

CONTRAST: SPRING TO WINTER AND BACK AGAIN

CONTRAST: SPRING TO WINTER AND BACK AGAIN IN LESS THAN A WEEK

It’s snowing again today. Like yesterday, but more steadily. A fine, dry snow that means business. None of the fat, wet flakes that are decorative, but frivolous — for snow. We had a veterinarian appointment today for Gibbs and Bonnie.

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I looked out the window, realized I was not going to even try wrangling two Scotties into the car, then drive on slippery roads (they don’t plow this time of year; they let nature take its course) for an hour (usually half an hour; longer with ice and snow).

Especially since it’s not an emergency visit. It can wait a week.

weather map

It’s gotten cold out there. Yesterday felt like joke, not to be taken seriously. Temperature rose into the forties before the snow stopped falling. Essentially, it was all gone before nightfall.

Not today.

Today it has that grey, grim sky thing happening that say “I’m gonna get you, sucker!”

When I called the vet, I started by saying “I bet you won’t be surprised when I say I’d like to reschedule today’s appointments.”

“Not at all,” she said. She was laughing.

Weather report

“This is so wrong,” I said.

“I know,” she said. “It’s like Mother Nature felt that winter wasn’t bad enough, so she decided to give us a bit more, just so we didn’t feel cheated.”

A couple of days ago, my woods looked ready to bloom.

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March 31, 2016

March 30, 2016

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April 2, 2016

The forsythia were beginning to bloom.

Now … how about today and yesterday?

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The Vernal Equinox came. You can’t argue with the Equinox. It happens and the earth literally shifts into the tilt towards warm weather. Polar Vortex, be gone! Your time has passed.

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By next weekend, it will be over, finally and fully.

A week from today, the Red Sox will open their season at Fenway Park. Play ball!

SNOW? REALLY? SERIOUSLY?

What? It’s spring, isn’t it? Just yesterday, I was looking at the fat buds on the daffodils and noticing that the forsythia has started blooming.

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It was hard to believe the forecast. Snow? Really? High winds? Really? Easter is over. Is this a joke?

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More is expected tomorrow. After that, can we please settle down and “do spring?” Like a normal place?

SPRING IS SPRUNG

Ode to Spring

“Spring has sprung,

The Grass has riz,

I wonder where the flowers is?

The little bird is on the wing,

But that’s absurd!

Because the wing is on the bird!”

A ditty by Unknown

It will be near 70 degrees tomorrow. That’s 21 in Celsius, by the way. Weather just doesn’t get nicer than this.

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This is it. We wait for it all year. We dream of it while we shovel tons of snow and wash the residue of salt from our car’s under-body.

Solomon's Seal

Solomon’s Seal

We yearn for it through mud season while mopping the mess off the floors. Will winter never end? Will spring never come?

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Winter ended.

Spring came.

I wonder where the flowers is?

THE CHANGING SEASONS: VERNAL EQUINOX 2016

THE CHANGING SEASONS: MARCH 2016

Welcome to spring! Sunday was the Vernal Equinox, when day and night were the same length.

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Knowing it was the first day of spring, I set my alarm to wake me in time to photograph the sunrise. This sequence of shots were all take during the approximately 2 minute window of the equinox.

SUNDAY MORNING: DAWN ON THE EQUINOX

Spring is here. The earth rejoices. Me too!

And then, the following morning (yesterday), the fickle finger of fate, known locally as “the weather” decided to make a point.

MONDAY MORNING: DAWN, 2nd DAY OF SPRING

Please visit Cardinal Guzman’s gorgeous site to see his amazing pictures and find links to other participants in this wonderful year-long challenge!

The Rules:

These are the rules for Version 1 (Changing Seasons V1):

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

These are the rules for Version 2 (Changing Seasons V2):

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

This is a fascinating challenge and if you take pictures, you will enjoy it. This is my second year as a participant and I still love it!

DROP, DROP, DROP

DROP

It is raining. It has been raining hard and steadily for two days — so far. According to the forecast, it is going to continue to do this for at least a week. After which, there’s a good chance we’ll have a short break followed by more rain.

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It’s mud season in New England.

This is not unusual. March is traditional mud and flood season. A combination of melting snow and spring rains turns the ground to goo. Mold grows on every surface. Did you know that vinyl siding can grow green with mold? It can and does.

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This year, we have no melting snow, but we are getting plenty of rain. We need the rain. (Rain is good. OM.)

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Although I am painfully aware of just how badly we need water to refill rivers, ponds, and the aquifer, a lot of rain in a very short time makes life difficult.

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The good news about rain? You don’t have to shovel it. When it’s over, usually that’s the whole story. The flowers and other plants love and need it. It refills our wells.  Our water pressure gets better when the well is full.

The bad news?

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Mud. Yucky, sucking black mud. With many paws coming in and out of the house, the amount of dirt is impressive. It doesn’t take long to make our living room floor suitable for planting.

If the rain continues with enthusiasm for a long time, the valley will flood. The rivers rise over their banks and try to eat the towns. This is a river valley in which every town is built along one or more rivers, so it’s messy.

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Basements flood. We’ve got a system of French drains as well as a sump and a pump. In recent years, this has been enough to keep the water outside, but if it gets bad enough … well, it goes to show you never can tell.

Anyone who has ever been in a flood knows what I mean. You can’t hold back water.

It starts with a drop, continues with millions upon millions of drops. After which, there is the mud.