WANDERING IN THE DESERT – Marilyn Armstrong

WANDERING, BUT NOT LOST, IN
THE sOUTHWEST dESERT


Ironwood in the desert

Phoenix sunset – Photo: Garry Armstrong

For a woman raised in New York and living in Massachusetts, the desert is another world. The colors of the sky. The mountains jutting into the sky and giant cacti growing across the landscape. We have spent two vacations in Arizona and each has been glorious.

Sunset

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Another sunset

PHOTO CHALLENGE: THE MAGENTA ROSES WITH RED AND SCARLET – Marilyn Armstrong

Photo Challenge: The Magenta Rose

Oddly enough, I actually took pictures of roses in the floral party of our grocery store. I haven’t done that in a really long and I carefully took pictures of all the roses.

Pink, white, red … all of the roses grouped in a cooling bin. They certainly smelled delicious and looked downright edible.

These pink roses are indeed as close to magenta as you can get!

A VINTAGE FARM TRACTOR AS GARDEN ORNAMENT – Garry and Marilyn Armstrong

Weekend Writing Prompt #120 – Vintage

This is getting to be a very vintage house. Two vintage owners, three dogs, two of them vintage (13). The house isn’t new either. Of course, I collected (now re-homing) ancient Chinese porcelain from Neolithic to Qing. Anyone want to start a collection? I’m not asking for money, just a good home and you pay the shipping costs. They don’t weigh much.

I’m just worried that they need a safe place to continue their very long lives and won’t wind up in a dumpster after I’m gone.

My favorite vintage item is still my 1928 Fordson tractor. It’s not repairable but it does make a nice garden decoration. Highly photogenic!

PARKS BY A RIVER – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Word Prompt: Parks

We live in the Blackstone Valley Historic Corridor, so basically, we live in a park. It’s one level below a national park, but without the funding (such as it is these days). The good news is that we have parks. Everywhere.

As the Blackstone winds its way down from the Worcester Hills, there are parks in every town and at every curve along the river.

The Dam on the Mumford

From Worcester, about 20 miles north of here, all the way through Rhode Island, the Blackstone has parks with areas designed for walking, fishing, swimming, and kayaking.

Marilyn on a bench by the river

The big Canal locks and a couple of bloggers with cameras!

Garry and me – Thank you, Rich Paschall!

There are picnic tables and barbecues. Best of all, there are places to safely walk and park the car. All of them are open all year round, though when the snow is heavy, it’s difficult to get into the park. The small parks don’t always plow, but the larger ones do plow. Then all you need to do is find a way to get through the drifts.

Take a walk along the banks of the Blackstone

The stone bridge in the rain

My favorite three parks are the one in the middle of town around the Mumford (one of the larger tributaries of the Blackstone), another behind the medical building in North Uxbridge. That one has two connected parts: the Canal and its locks — as well as its lovely stone bridge — and River Bend which has turned a farmhouse from the 1600s into a small museum.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Blackstone River

You can walk from one park to the other along the route that was once used by horses to haul the barges in the canal.

And in the water …

Together forever, swans mate for life

Finally, there’s a lovely park in Smithfield, Rhode Island which is literally on the same road on which we live. It’s set up for fishing and loaded with trout. People come there to kayak, fish, and swim. We come to take pictures, enjoy their smiles and their dogs and little kayaks. And of course, the fish!

Photo: Garry Armstrong

It’s nice living in a park. For at least three seasons every year, the parks welcome us and we are always glad to visit them.

BI-WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: THE INTERESTING EDIT – Marilyn Armstrong

Photo Challenge: Edit

Three pictures using impressionist, graphic, and HDR styling.

A pole in the water – Abstract Impressionist

And here it is again, Cezanne-style, though not looking all that much different.

Rope on a boat – HDR with some graphics

And a Cezanne-style version …

If Cezanne painted my garden

THE PEOPLE, PLACES, CRITTERS WHO MATTER … Marilyn Armstrong

A Photo a Week Challenge: The Things that Matter Most

There are quite a few more people who should have pictures than I have room for but suffice to say, I have forgotten no one.

It has been a hectic year, at end of which — Garry can hear. Our deck is full of birds. The Duke roams the woods at will. Short of rebuilding the fence, which is out of the question, I have to hope he’s not planning to go anywhere — like the road. He doesn’t go anywhere. Duke roams the front and backwoods, then jumps into the yard and come home for a treat. He’s been good, hasn’t he?

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

Chef Owen, master of turkey

Bonnie with Garry

The Duke

Gibbs

And let’s not forget the birds …

Home

There’s not enough room to include all the friends and family and everything … but you are all remembered and loved!

A RIVER OF MAGICAL PLACES: WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Photo Challenge: Magical Places


The Blackstone Valley Historical Corridor is a series of connected parks in and around the Blackstone River Valley. There are dozens of little, medium, and large parks.

The parks surround many dams, ponds, and lakes. There are bicycle paths, picnic tables, even a few areas where you can swim and many where you can kayak.

Everywhere there are benches, facing the falls, the lakes. My particular favorite place is on the Mumford River (a branch of the Blackstone) in the middle of Uxbridge.

October on the Mumford – 2013

October on the Mumford – 2018

On the Mumford – 2017

I love living in a town in which a river runs through the middle of town. Like Paris with the Seine, or London on the Thames.

Manchaug dam on the Blackstone – 2018

Roaring Dam – Blackstone on the Blackstone River – 2017

Blackstone Gorge – Photo: Garry Armstrong

I have a lot of pictures of the dams, many taken in the fall because it’s the best time for pictures. Maybe not this year, but most years.

AT LEAST IT’S NOT SNOWING – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Photo Challenge: Jack Frost


Every conversation about the weather — which has been rainy and windy all the time since last March — ends with someone saying “Well, at least it’s not snowing.”

When we moved here, our very first winter, it snowed all the time. We were charmed by the beauty. Everyone shoveled and we bought a really huge snow blower.

Duke and Bonnie!

By the second year, we were less charmed, the snow blower was huge and heavy. The snow never stopped falling. Driving down our road was like driving through a tunnel. The height of the snow on both sides of the road was well over 6-feet.

We also discovered why no one cements their mailbox in place.

The deck

If you cement it in the ground when the snow plow knocks it down, you need a whole new mailbox. If it’s just stuck in the dirt, you stand it back up and push the earth back around the post, and voilà. Also, it pays to get a rubber mailbox. They survive longer and keep your mail dry.

Mailboxes across the snowy woods.  Photo: Garry Armstrong

So you talk lovingly of Jack Frost and I think “Who’s gonna plow us out THIS year?” It’s never the same guy twice and half the time it’s some kid who takes out a garden or half the backyard. We’ll get through it, but it’s always a hassle.

Photo: Garry Armstrong –Winter in New England

I have thousands — literally thousands and maybe tens of thousands of more than 100,000 photographs — of snow. Blizzards. We get a lot of snow. I mean really — a lot of snow. I get depressed thinking about it.

The Renegade – We are counting on you!

We are the kind of people who need a 4X4. For some people, it’s a style. For us, it’s how we get out of the driveway in the winter. Without one, you get stuck until spring.

MEN AT WORK – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Photo Challenge: People at Work


And finally, the big guys — my son and his friend Dave — came and installed the door. It took months between one thing and another, but it got done. Phew.

Waiting for installation

Preparation

The supervisor checks to make sure it’s being done right

Just about ready

 

Adjustments

Yup, it’s a door!

Looking out, much better light

Definitely a door!

Don’t forget the dogs

Two doors — one for humans, one for dogs

And finally, painted. Good job, guys. Brilliant guys.

Men at work, door installed, dog door ready. Great job! Thank you and again, thank you!

IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TRUTH IS, TRY ART – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Photo Challenge: Work of Art

We have tons of art in the house. I like to think we also have a fair bit of truth, but if no one seems able to define truth, how in the world do you define “art?”

Is that the stuff which is just pretty but serves no “useful” purpose … or is it anything that has a certain eye-appeal, no matter what you might want to call it.

Monochrome with red dress

I collected dolls for years and antique Chinese porcelain … and for a long time, teapots and other oddities. Some people find the dolls creepy. I love them. We have paintings and photographic prints and small items that really are pretty, but currently (in this world) useless.

Is anything that makes you feel better about life not serving a useful purpose? If it makes you feel good, isn’t that enough?

I don’t know how people manage to live in houses without any art or pictures or prints. Don’t they need the color and the motion? Something to tickle their fancy?

FROM THE CAR – WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Photo Challenge: From the Car

I cannot, in all honesty, say the “most of my best pictures were taken from the car,” but an awful lot of really good ones were. What is always surprising is how well the camera sees through all the shmutz on the windshield and actually gets relatively sharp pictures.

Typically, the harder part is avoiding reflections rather than dirt … not counting whatever the birds leave behind — and the occasional really big bug.

Here are a few favorites, mostly taken during that very long drive back and forth to Jackman, Maine.

With the atlas resting on the dashboard

The view was so good, I got Garry to pull over so I could get some without a windshield …

Tunnel on the Merritt Parkway

Best “almost home” shot EVER!

RIGHT TIME, RIGHT PLACE WITH GREAT LIGHT! – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Photo Challenge: Right Place, Right Time!


Right place, right time is the name of the photography game. That and the right light. Most of my best photographs were a combination of having a camera when I needed it and being where something happened worth commemorating.

From sunsets to laughter, it’s always about being there and having a camera ready. I always keep a camera with me and even though it weighs down my bag, you just never know what out of nowhere, suddenly, there’s a great picture.

Herons are pretty good about standing still while you take their picture. Unless you startle them.

Waiting for me in the river, one Great Blue Heron

The thing was, I didn’t have a long lens on the camera or even with me, so instead of zooming, I had to creep up on him.

More heron!

The ground was mucky and muddy, but I decided I could cope with mud because I wanted that bird. Except I was wearing open-back shoes and when I tried to clamber up from the bank of the river, my shoes stuck in the mud. My feet moved on, but my shoes stayed put. That was when I discovered I could not climb up the hill without my shoes. So I sat down to wait. I figured eventually, Garry would wander by and we’d work it out.

Which we did.

Don’t wear open back shoes in the mud by the river. And it’s always good to have a long lens with you.