Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Water

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.

Red kayak by the Blackstone

Paddling up the river

Bridge over the Blackstone

The dock at River Bend

Great Blue Heron

Shiny canal in summer

Autumn at the lake in Webster

Blackstone Gorge – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Spillway on the dam

Manchaug – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Upward at Roaring Dam


Flowers, but lost – FOTD – May 9, 2019

It was a gorgeous, perfect spring day today. Warm and full of bright sunshine. As we left the house this morning (it’s a 2-hour drive into Boston), I noticed that we had squirrels glued to both feeders in the back.

I would normally have gone back to the deck and chatted with the furry feeders, but I was wearing my good clothing.

And there was no time for one of those me versus squirrel conversations.

Pink tulips

I should mention these are pretty much one-way conversation. I talk. The squirrels give me the squirrel eyeball, so I talk some more, and they go back to eating. Eventually, I will open the door, step onto the deck, and stare at them. They then move a little bit — from the feeders to the railing. And stare back at me.

I can hear them thinking “And what are you gonna do about it, huh?”

Magnolias and new leaves along the Mumford River

I quite like squirrels, but I feel that by the time we are approaching midday, they should go back to being tree squirrels and stop being deck squirrels. Is that too much to ask?

We had to leave. It was going to be a long drive and traffic in and out of Boston is heavy. We were 100% sure to get lost, even though the directions appeared to be simple. There’s construction on 146, too. Of course, there has been construction on 146 for the past 19 years, but there’s more now that it has warmed up.

Snowballs along with the steps in the park

It took us almost 2 hours to get there — and we got totally lost in Boston. So did everyone else. As a result, the memorial began an hour late and ended even later. So it was a really long day.

Since we bought our GPS (maybe 2 years ago?), they’ve redesigned almost all the major roads in Boston and completely rebuilt the seaport area. The last time I was there, it was mostly vacant lots and empty warehouses and a few party cruise ships. So our GPS can’t find anything. Moreover, the directions which we got from the hotel (via Google) said to get off Route 93 at Exit 20, then follow the signs to the Seaport Cruise Terminal.

Snowballs and a wooden bench

Except there were NO signs. We wound up at the airport. We did a couple of loops at Logan, including a round trip through the “Return your rental car here,” except we were in our own car and we couldn’t find anyone who knew how to find the Seaport Hotel.

Massachusetts is infamous for NOT putting up signs. I don’t know whether we are just too cheap to pay for signs, or we assume if you don’t know where you are, you shouldn’t be there.

The park at the Mumford Dam

It turned out that not only did we get lost, everyone got lost. Since this is a big expensive hotel — and NOT brand new, either — the complete lack of signs was infuriating. We almost gave up and went home and might have, but we didn’t know how to get home, either.

Finally, we were stopped by a police detective. He had a gold badge but was in street clothing, so we assumed he was a detective. He pulled us over. Garry rolled down his window. Were we going to get a ticket too? Are the fates so against us?

“Are you guys lost?” he asked. Were we that obvious?

“YES,” we cried in unison. “We are SO lost.”

Flowers and the falls

He led us to the hotel and he recognized Garry — and knew we were going to the “Tom Ellis Memorial.” I was never more grateful to see a police officer.

We knew we had to be near it. We were at the docks, so how far could we be from the Seaport Hotel? It turned out to be about a mile. Make a right, take the Ted Williams Tunnel and when you can’t go any further, make another right.

Azaleas along the path

It was good to be there, though. Many people, including Garry, shared memories and since we are all — how shall I put this — an older group of folk?

We got to do a little crying, shared some laughter about stuff no one else remembers. We saw people we rarely see except at reunions and funerals. Remember when we used to meet at weddings? It was good to hug friends, notice that although everyone looks older, I look even older than they do.

We left Boston exactly at rush hour. Three and a half hours for the homeward journey. I spent a lot of time admiring trees.

Please enjoy the photographs. They are from Tuesday which was every bit as beautiful as today, but we were outside with cameras.

AND TONIGHT, THE STORM – Marilyn & Garry Armstrong

FOTD – October 27, 2018 – Autumn Leaves

We had a beautiful sunny day today and whatever Autumn we are getting this year, I think this was the last day of it. Tonight, tomorrow, and possibly for the two following days, we’re getting a nor’easter.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Not snow (phew), but lots of rain and wind and more falling trees. There are still a lot of limbs down in the back from the last storm, just a few days ago.

Early autumn at Manchaug

This is no fit weather for October. Effectively, the month is over anyway. Some pretty pictures have come from it, but it will be another year before it comes round again.



It’s supposed to be better tomorrow. It’s always supposed to be better tomorrow, especially if you had photographic plans for today. At least it isn’t pouring. It’s just drippy and grey and muddy.

Rocks and a tree limb

We went to the doctor yesterday and I noticed that now, many trees have changed color and if we can just get some decent weather, it might be time to go take some seriously autumnal pictures.

Garry at Manchaug

Marilyn at Manchaug

Meanwhile, we did take some pretty nice shots the other day at Manchaug. Call them the “pre-autumnal” photo set. Some by Garry, others by me.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Manchaug has one of the prettiest dams and falls in the area. Not nearly as big as many of the falls, it is high above the stream into which it falls and the way the light falls, the water is crystal pale while the background nearly black.



There were at last count, 46 dams on the Blackstone River. That’s not counting any of its tributaries, most of which also have dams. We’ve seen maybe a dozen of them locally, but today, my granddaughter and I discovered another: Roaring Dam in Blackstone, Massachusetts.

There was a large factory here, now long gone. Every time you see a dam, you know there was a factory of some kind that used the power from that dam. The group managing the river has been trying to remove dams, so I don’t know how many dams remain and I couldn’t find a count anywhere. I’m guessing fewer than the original 46.

I have no idea which ones have been taken down and which remain. Removing the dams would allow the river to run freely and encourage trout and other fish to return.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of polluted soil buried near the dams. The river has come back a long way from being the most polluted river in the country during the mid 1970s. This is not a minor problem. The amount of pollution in the earth in those areas is hazardous to humans, animals, and the water itself.

This is a water shed. We all drink this water, whether we realize it or not.

But we are satisfied with how far the river has come. It’s hard to even explain how evil this river was. It was pure poison from top to bottom and now, areas are safe for boating and even a few area are safe for swimming. Anything that might upset the balance must be undertaken with the greatest care.

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017


Summer has come. It is raining. What a shock! We had a nearly full day of sun on Monday. It didn’t begin to rain until late in the afternoon. Just enough time for the guys to fix our front hall and door. Big improvement. As soon as it stops raining, I’ll take new pictures. Meanwhile … from summer days by the canal …

Photos by Garry Armstrong and Marilyn Armstrong


A Photo a Week Challenge: It All Depends on What You Want

I can do a lot of post processing, but more than half the time, I do almost none except for a bit of cropping and sharpening. Other times, I play around, just to see what I can do. So here are three shots. No cropping. I sharpened it and lightened it and the second one would usually have been my stopping point. But, just for the fun of it, I tried it in black and white, too.

First shot. Didn’t do anything.

Second shot, I added contrast, and brightened it. Usually, this would be the end of the process.

To make life interesting, I turned it into a bit more of a painting. And changed it to black and white.

As I’ve acquired more filters, I’ve found so many new ways to show a picture. On the average, I keep pictures simple unless I’m feeling playful. Then who knows what will show up?


Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – November 16, 2016

The bridge over the Blackstone Canal, peak foliage, October 2016

The bridge over the Blackstone Canal, peak foliage, October 2016

There were a lot of wonderful paths, roads, docks, dams, and other ways to travel these past few months. All of these are favorites, but one of them is my favoritest favorite. You are free to guess which one.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Straight to Rhode Island ...

Past our house and on to Rhode Island …

A sign to make your way

A sign to make your way

A walk on a warm day in October

Walking the little dog on a warm day in October


Walking along the old cemetery wall in the middle of town


Garry under the canopy of changing leaves

Marina - Connecticut- Curleys - Sept 2016

On the dock at the marina – one day in late September 2016


Little bridge across the small canal along the Mumford River – August 2016

72-Aldrich Street-Summer-Solstice-062116_12

Defoliated trees on Route 98 in June, 2016


Defoliated woods on the Summer Solstice, June 2016

They are predicting a little bit of snow for the end of this week, but I don’t expect it to stick to the ground or last past an hour or less. Still, it’s a warning, the proverbial “shot over the bow” telling us that it’s time to get those leaves up, the lawn equipment put away, and shake the mothballs out of the winter coats!


Dam over the Mumford River, August in late afternoon

Cee which way photo challenge



Every dam in the Blackstone Valley, whether on the Blackstone River or one of its tributaries (in this case, the Mumford River) has a number. It’s etched in stone somewhere in the stones. You need a long lens to find them and sometimes, they have become obscured by plants or flowing water.


The numbers are mapped designations which water regulators use to control water flow during drought and flood. The mechanical infrastructure for the many dams was built mostly during the late eighteen hundreds.


It consists of levers and gears which open and close spillways, allowing engineers to control the water based on rainfall, current water levels, and predicted weather (and river) conditions.


This is Dam 190, in downtown Uxbridge on the Mumford River.


I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016


Yesterday was one of those days. Get up early and keep running until you fall down. Nothing major happening, just lots of little things.

We had to take the new car back to the dealer to get the windshield replaced — a two-car excursion. The chip in the windshield would only get worse when the weather gets cold, so the sooner the work gets done, the better.


Next stop was the insurance agent. I had to give her the papers she needs to write the new policy. It’s easier to take the papers to her office than to mail them. Her office is closer than the post office.


We also had to drop prescriptions at the pharmacy, which ought to be easy, but isn’t. All summer long the weather was dry and not terribly hot. We had almost no rain in July and none in August. The town did absolutely nothing about the roads. No pothole repair, no storm drain installation.

As soon as October hit, someone said to someone else: “You know, winter is going to come and we haven’t done any work on the roads.” The town went into emergency mode, promptly dug up Main Street. Brought in cranes manned by dangerously inept crane operators. Made driving into town pretty scary.


Someone must have pointed out that cars can’t duck and maybe the combination of cranes and cars was awesome in the wrong way, so today, they had the road blocked. An unmarked detour took us around on Route 16, but eventually we found our way back into town.


I promised to take some pictures because Garry is sure this is proof positive — finally — there’s a conspiracy to drive him crazy by destroying roads while populating them with slow drivers who are talking on the phone and texting … while weaving all over the place.

We had to do a quick bit of shopping too, since the pharmacy is in Hannaford. Which is in the middle of town, as is the dam. Autumn is at peak — about a week late — so I asked if we could stop and take some foliage shots — and I promised not to forget to take pictures of the roadwork, too.


Garry hadn’t brought his camera, but our cameras are identical, so I took some, then he took some. Then we went across the street and Garry realized the leaves are always brightest in the cemetery. Shh. Don’t tell everyone!

Then home, stopping to take pictures of the ongoing road work. There was actual work going on, which is unusual in Massachusetts where they close the roads with heavy machinery, after which everyone takes a break and comes back at closing time to lock up the machines before going home.


When we finally inched our way home, there were packages from Amazon and mail to open. We had bought a couple of pots of chrysanthemums. Garry carried them to the deck and took away the now-dead fuchsias for a proper burial.

I put away the groceries.

Then, while Garry caught up with some old black and white movies, I processed the pictures, which turned out to be more than I thought, especially since I took a bunch more after we got home. The light was awesome.


Then they called from the dealer to say that they couldn’t finish the windshield installation because they don’t have the trim. I said they might as well keep the car through Monday because it’s easier than bringing it home for the weekend, but I need it Monday night.

We have stuff to do on Tuesday and Wednesday and need that car. The service guy sounded dubious. I said “We need the car Monday night” and he said “We can arrange a loaner” and I said “We NEED the car Monday night.” And then we both hung up. I will call on Monday. Why does everything have to be so complicated?


Garry eventually had to drive back into town to pick up the prescriptions, weaving his way through the maze of detours and earth-moving machinery. I was still processing photographs.

Tomorrow is another day and I think I’m going to sleep through it.



WEDNESDAY – June 10, 2015 #9

Welcome, again, to Frisbee Wednesday. Today I have wonderful pictures of my favorite local dam. And a story to go with it. Two of the best pictures were taken by Garry.

You may write about any of these pictures. Or any of your pictures or someone else’s picture. Write a little, write a lot. At your pleasure.

The picture for this week is by Garry Armstrong, who is coincidentally, the subject of today’s story.


Please add your own ping back (links) or put your link in a comment, then link back to this post so other people can find you and me. My effort for this week follows.

Garry as John Ford

Garry as John Ford

Garry has been feeling unwell. Something happened and it started with a bug bite. My first guess would be a brown recluse spider, but according to the authorities, that’s impossible because “they don’t live here.” We do have black widows … even the experts admit that … and giant wolf spiders (let us hope I never encounter one because I would probably die of fright) …  but no brown recluses.

Whatever it was, the bite was painless and the culprit got away. The experts get to retain plausible deniability for their contention “it didn’t really happen.”

Only the spider — if it was a spider — knows for sure, and he isn’t talking. Yet.

Garry started to feel not-so-good shortly after Kaity’s graduation. He was energetic during the event, the picture of a proud grandfather with field producer experience.


The day after The Big Event, a different story emerged. His left leg hurt. Shooting pains. He was limping. Both of us assumed (never assume) this was because he’d pushed too hard the previous day.

That wasn’t it, because it got steadily worse. On Thursday, while towelling off post-shower, he noticed something nasty on the back of his left calf, down near the ankle. He showed me.

Garry at Manchaug

It was an ugly wound. Two areas affected, the larger one had two big gray-blue, oddly shaped blisters surrounded by dark red inflammation plus a smaller version lower on the ankle. I lanced the blisters, cauterized everything with surgical iodine, slathered it with antibiotic ointment and bandaged him like a wounded soldier on the battlefield.

He said he felt better. Friday passed, but on Saturday morning, I didn’t like the way it looked. It seemed redder and the area of redness had expanded. I called the doctor. Drove him there.. Brought him home, then went out to the pharmacy for antibiotics. It was the first time I had driven since before the heart surgery in March 2014.

Just a day later — Sunday — the weather being fine and Garry feeling a little better, I suggested an airing. Manchaug. I’d drive. It would be low impact.

The shot for which life and limb were imperiled.

The shot for which life and limb were imperiled.

I should have known better.

I left with Garry, my husband, but arrived in Manchaug with director John Ford. Squatting in the tall grass to get that great shot of the dam with the wild daisies in the foreground, leaving me wondering if he’d be able to get up — as I pondered how many biting insects were hiding in that grass. I would have thought he’s had enough of getting bit. But it’s not about me. Who am I to keep an artist from his moment?


The doctor was worried about Lyme. Although I saw no evidence of a tick, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t bitten by one or several. Ticks drop off when they’ve completed their meal and Lyme is endemic to this region.

I’m counting on it not being Lyme. Or anything serious. Because the maestro needs his space — and I need the maestro.