My ex husband, Larry, and I lived through a very atypical evening in Florida many years ago. We were visiting Larry’s mother, Dorothy, in Pompano Beach, Florida. She lived in a fifteen-story condo right across from the ocean and had a magnificent water view.

My mother-in-law, Dorothy, with our son, David on her beach

One night, Larry and I decided to go to the movies. Dorothy decided to stay home. We got out of the movie after dark and headed home. We came upon a police barricade complete with flashing lights and multiple police cars. We were routed off the road and in the wrong direction.

A short ways down the next road, we came upon another phalanx of police cars with flashing lights detouring us even further away from the condo. What was going on?

Larry and me on Dorothy’s balcony in Florida

Larry decided to ignore the barricades and head back in the direction we needed to go. Suddenly we saw a tree uprooted and leaning against a house. Next we saw a car upside down on the roof of a garage. One whole side of the street was total chaos and the other side was perfectly intact. I could see a glass collection in somebody’s front window on the safe side of the street.

As we got closer to the condo, we noticed that there were no lights on in any of the houses. We caught sight of the condo and it was also dark. We started to pull into the car port outside the parking garage at the condo. But it was gone! The roof was off, smashed and folded in on itself, lying on the ground. The cement blocks that held the roof up were strewn around, as were several cars.

We left our car outside and ran into the building to make sure Dorothy was okay. Just as we got to the building, the lights went back on. That meant that power was back and we could take the elevator up to the apartment.

Apparently, while we were in the movie, a tornado had hit the town, going directly through the condo’s parking area. A tornado on the water is apparently unheard of. We were the exception that proves the rule!

There was extensive damage all around. It took months to fully repair the damage to the condo. Dorothy weathered the storm safely inside, but a lady in a nearby condo was sucked out through her patio doors as she tried to close them. She was killed.

It happened so quickly, we managed to miss the whole storm. We avoided what Dorothy described as a terrifying experience full of horrifying sounds and flying objects. We were pretty freaked out just seeing the damage a tornado can do first hand.

I’ve seen disaster footage on TV many, many times. But it doesn’t hit home until you see it in person. It gave me a new respect for Mother Nature. And a new fear for what climate change may have in store for all of us down the road!


I’m not sure why we name hurricanes. I have no idea how the names get picked. I could Google it and maybe find out, but I’m too lazy to bother right now.

Regardless, I think all hurricanes should be named Darwin. Why?

Because nothing weeds out the gene pool and brings out the stupid in people like a hurricane. The bigger they are, the dumber they get. As I’m writing this, Hurricane Irma, or what I call it, Hurricane Darwin the 1st, is hitting southern Florida.

The worst is yet to come.  I’m watching the coverage, which is the exactly the same on all the networks. An anchor, who makes millions of dollars a year, is sitting in a warm cozy network studio. (Except for Lester Holt who was out there in the wind and rain just like a real reporter.)

He’s talking to the poor schmuck who drew the short straw and is standing in the middle of the hurricane telling everybody how dangerous the hurricane is and how nobody should be out in it. Except of course for him and his crew.

Now, granted, I know that they aren’t in as much danger as it seems. I worked for CBS News for 40 years and I know they set up in safe spots outside the wind. They only need one shot where the wind is howling and it looks like they are hanging on for dear life. When the live shot is over they all go back inside, smoke cigarettes, have lunch, play Candy Crush on their phones  and wait for the next live hit.

(I know Garry is nodding and laughing right now)

(Note: Garry is laughing — because he isn’t the schmuck out there in the storm.)

The really stupidest are the people who think they can ride these things out. I watched a news report a few days ago where they interviewed two people who planned on riding out Irma from a trailer park.

Excuse me? Did you just say A TRAILER PARK??? One guy said he already lost his mobile home two weeks ago in a run off the mill flood. They happen there all the time.  

His plan was to stay with a friend in another mobile home. They expected it to be destroyed too.

What was their Plan B? To hang out in a temporary construction trailer! A mobile home lite!

I’m looking at the screen screaming “Are you nuts? Don’t you know hurricanes and tornadoes hate mobile homes?! A tornado will go around an entire town to get at just ONE TRAILER PARK!!”

To a hurricane, mobile homes are just tasty little snacks!

I know it’s much more complicated than this.  Some people can’t get out for valid reasons — lack of anywhere to go or no vehicle or destitution.

But, for the guy who goes surfing as the hurricane hits, and dies ….

And, the guy who is kite surfing as the hurricane hits  …

Oh Boy! I’m heading right toward the tornado! Cool!

And, the family on the beach with their kids taking video of the guy kite surfing …

And, the poor schmuck interviewing them …

I hope you all survive Hurricane Darwin the 1st.

That wasn’t so bad.

I wish  mother nature could come up with a way, WAY less catastrophic method of weeding out the gene pool.

Seriously, folks — stay safe!


I woke up this morning to the roll of thunder. Not one of those loud bangs that means it has struck nearby … or worse, struck the house. We have been hit by lightning three times to date, so I’m good with rolling thunder. It’s the violent crack the means we’ve been hit I worry about.

The dogs, on the other hand, are unhappy about any kind of thunder. Rolling or on target. They are also happier without rain. Something about the falling wet stuff puts their big black noses completely out of joint. Mind you, they are fine with cold, heat, and snow. Just not rain.

I needed to get the dogs out the door … and they weren’t going. I got one out, the next one came in. They ran in three directions at the same time and Duke went into a frenzy of fence leaping for no reason I could determine. And then, the clouds opened up and it really started to rain. Very hard.

We had a vet appointment for Duke that same afternoon. He needs a new rabies shot. I’m beginning to think tranquilizers wouldn’t be a bad choice either. I called the vet and agreed I’d call back at around 1:30 if the weather was still dicey.

The sun came out for about two minutes then promptly disappeared again leaving it as close to dark as it ever gets during the day. Another rumble of thunder. I called the number. I explained in detail why we could not make it today. The final point was that the only way we would get Duke into the car would be for Garry to carry and hoist him in — and Garry was not up to the lifting. So I asked for a new appointment.

“I think,” she said, “that you were trying to call your veterinarian.”

“This isn’t the vet?”

“No,” she said. “This is your doctor’s office.”

“Oh.” I thought about that for a minute. “It was nice of you to listen to the whole story.”

“No problem,” she said. “But you probably should call your vet.”

I called the vet. I double checked just to make sure it really was the vet this time. I made an appointment for next week. Same time. Same vet. Same place. Same dog.

I really appreciate that the manager at the doctor’s office listened to the entire spiel before suggesting I call the vet. It made my spiel to the vet much more efficient. Practice makes perfect.


My ex-husband, Larry, and I had a knack for traveling to places where the weather was uncharacteristic and extreme.

Our first big trip together was our honeymoon, which took place three months BEFORE the wedding (don’t ask!). We spent three weeks in England and France at the end of June. Summer. I packed one long-sleeved shirt, one sweater and one light coat, just in case. Most of the photos of me are in these three pieces of clothing. I wore them almost every day. It was like a blustery, chilly fall day for the entire three weeks.

Me freezing in France on my pre-wedding Honeymoon in late June

My first trip to Disney World, in Orlando, Florida, was in March. Not summer but still warm in Florida. Except when we were there. It was so cold, my only souvenir from the trip was a pair of gloves – which I wore every day!

Me in my turtle neck sweater and gloves in Disney World, Fla. (pregnant)

We’ve been in Florida when the orange tree growers were frantically putting blankets on their fruit trees to try to protect them from the deadly frost. We’ve been in Los Angeles, California when the swimming pools were freezing over. Record cold weather was reported in both places.

We went to Yosemite National Park in Northern California in the fall, expecting nippy weather. It was a record-breaking 95 degrees the whole time. We had to buy shorts and tank tops to survive. We also had to cancel many of the hikes and climbs we had planned because I don’t do well in hot weather.

Me in Yosemite Nat’l Park in the heat

The funniest weather story took place in Florida during one of those record-breaking cold streaks. I flew to Larry’s mom’s condo in Pompano Beach, Florida. Larry met me there from a business trip in Colorado, where he had done some skiing. We were enjoying another uncharacteristically cold snap. Larry called the office in New York City to check in. The lawyer back home asked him about the weather. Larry replied that it was 19 degrees out! The New York lawyer said, “Great! You’ll get in some good skiing!” Frustrated, Larry answered, “Schmuck! I’m in Florida now!”

This wacky weather curse must be attached to me, because it carried over to my second husband, Tom.

We took a canal boat trip around the countryside of England in April. It was over 90 degrees for several days in a row. That would have been an anomaly in England in August, let alone April. One day Tom actually got sun stroke and came home with a wicked sunburn. People asked us how our trip went and we told them about the sunstroke. Invariably we would get a confused response like, “Oh, you were in Florida?” or “I thought you were in England!”

Tom and me on our canal boat in the heat

One of our vacations was actually ruined because of crazy weather. We flew all the way to Hawaii, expecting the beautiful scenery and the consistently idyllic weather we’d been told about by our friends. We went there primarily to go on dive trips in the pristine waters. Unfortunately, there had been a hurricane just before we arrived. The water had been churned up so badly that the ocean stayed muddy the entire week we were there. There was no visibility underwater so all of our dive trips were canceled.

To add insult to injury, it rained every single day and was overcast the whole time. The sun came out for the first time to taunt us as we drove to the airport to go home!

Kauai, Hawaii in the rain

We also lost a day on a cruise because of bad weather. We were scheduled to leave on a cruise to Bermuda from a pier in New York City right near Tom’s office. He had always dreamed of walking to the pier and getting on a cruise ship. We were finally doing it!

Instead, a tropical storm delayed the incoming ship and rerouted it to Boston. We not only lost one day of our trip, but we had to drive all the way to Boston to get the ship. So much for Tom’s dream cruise from New York City.

Weather has not always been my friend in my travels, though overall, I’ve lucked out more often than not. However, the crazy weather stories are much more fun to write about. So, let’s hear it for funky weather on vacations!


Share Your World – August 7, 2017

What was the last URL that you bookmarked or saved? It’s the local weather station. Local for everyone, actually because it’s based on everyone’s private little weather station in backyards, fields, and other non-official places.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

I often get better information from them for my immediate area. The bigger weather stations give me the weather for the region, generally Worcester or northern Rhode Island … but we live some miles away.

Even a few miles and the weather can be surprisingly different. It may be pouring  five miles up the road and sunny here. Or vice versa, of course.

Do you believe in the afterlife?  Reincarnation?

I don’t know. I really don’t know. I stopped thinking about it because I haven’t the slightest idea. No one has come back from the other side to tell me, so … until then? I haven’t any idea.

If you were or are a writer do you prefer writing short stories, poems or novels?

These days, blogs are fine. I’ve written technical manuals. Instructional books. One novel. Lots of short stories. Mountains of letters.

Whatever I’m writing, it’s the right thing for me to write. So, for now, this is the right thing for me to write but maybe next week, it’ll be something entirely different.

What inspired you this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. 

Nothing inspired me this week. A few things genuinely pissed me off, but that’s not what you want to hear. So we’ll stick with “sorry, not an inspirational week.”


The Changing Seasons: July 2017

It stopped raining for a few days this month and we took advantage of the time, brief as it was, to go take some pictures. Last month, everything was still sparse due to the cold, rainy weather we’ve been having since March.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

As soon as it warmed up at the very end of June, everything that could grow went into hyper-overdrive, producing the must intense, lush flowers and leaves and ferns I’ve ever seen. To make up for the lost weeks of non-spring, we got spring and summer wrapped up on one crazy-ass ball!

The pictures were taken by both of us — Marilyn and Garry Armstrong. Except those taken around the house, they were taken in one of the Blackstone Valley Historic Corridor parks in Uxbridge.

Don’t miss Max “The Cardinal’s” wonderful pictures! Drop by his site and take a look.

The sun has been slipping in and out all morning … maybe there will be more pictures today.



The Changing Seasons: June 2017

This has been the coldest, wettest spring I can remember and today is the start of our official summer. Longest day of the year, and from now on, each day will be just a little bit shorter. It’s hard to believe.

My garden is incredibly green. It has rained almost nonstop since the melting of the snows in March. Green, but without flowers. Mostly it has been dark and chilly. The roses are branching out like barbed wire with roots … and not a single bud. The lilies have buds, but no flowers. The columbine are gone for the year. Even the hosta are looking pathetic.

All of these pictures were taken during the perhaps three or four days of sunshine we’ve had … or indoors. I have gone out to shoot half a dozen times … and come back with nothing much.

Vines in the woods

That rarely happens, but this time it did. I’m not sure what all this dark, wet weather means relative to autumn to come. Super wet weather frequently means a rather dull autumn.

Summer woods

Many of the photos are Garry’s and the rest are mine except for the one shot by the stranger who snapped us at a restaurant we were visiting with friends.

Max “The Cardinal” has more interesting pictures to show, so drop by his site and take a look.

Speaking of weather, no matter who says what about the changing weather? This has been one peculiar year.

The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by