I couldn’t have chosen a better word for the day if I had tried.

Garry’s got another audiology appointment in about an hour and I have a doctor’s appointment in another section of the valley at three in the afternoon. Between one appointment and the other, we’ll be absent all day. By the time we get back, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to feel like writing more stuff.

These are two places that aren’t far apart, mind you — but there is no road that goes between Worcester and Upton. To get to Worcester, it’s north on Route 146 to 290, a quick right on Route 9 and voilà.

To get to Upton, you basically have to come all the way back to Uxbridge to pick up Route 16 and head east to Milford, then north to Upton. We have lots of north-south roads, but few east-west roads. No idea why.

Sometimes, living around here is very inconvenient. Getting old in a place that lacks basic services for older people is more and more difficult.

One of these issues is trash and recycling. I know we don’t have recycling locally. We also don’t have a dump and our trash people are having a very hard time finding places to put all that stuff.

Upwards toward Route 98

We’re going to recycle again because I live in hope that at least some of the stuff will actually get used to some better purpose, but I don’t hold out a lot of hope. New England does not have the services it needs to do this job right. Our dumps are full and have been for 100 years or more and it’s a small area without a lot of open lands to build more facilities.

It all costs money to recycle around here. Much of the recycling gets shipped overseas to whoever is actually recycling. It used to be China, but they seem to be overdosing on their own mess, so I have no idea where we are shipping it these days. I suspect it just lives on trucks and moves from one place to another and eventually gets dumped in the ocean or a river somewhere.

Garbage is going to kill us. How depressing is that?

The standard recycling bin here is an open bin with no wheels. Which would be impossible to get up the driveway to the road, so we are paying an extra two dollars a month to used a wheeled barrow to move the plastic bottles and cut-up cardboard every first and third Tuesday to the front. We did this before, but the truck never stopped to pick up the stuff. They kept saying we didn’t have it outside in time, but since we put it out the night before, that’s not true. They just didn’t stop. We were not on their agenda.

I’m hoping it works out better this time.

They will adjust our bill. We get the senior discount but we don’t get a senior assistance program, so we are still — no matter how old we get — required to push that barrel up that long driveway. Not me because I physically can’t do it, so it’s Garry. He’s 76 and I have this awful mental image of 90-year-old Garry pushing the trash up the hill in the middle of the winter or in the pouring rain.

It’s not a happy thought.

Of all the things that are annoying about getting old? Many of them seem like such small things until you realize you can’t do them. Suddenly, they aren’t so small.

So absent is the name of our day. I apologize, but I’ve been writing a lot more than I can manage. I will do the best I can … but if I can’t get it done, I apologize in advance.

I also can’t read and comment on everyone’s blog, even if I love you to death. I don’t have the time to even open all the blogs, much less comment on each. I try to at least take a look, but I’m out of time.

Life has entered our world. Blogging is great, but it won’t get us to the doctor on time or get the dog to the vet or clean the kitchen floor.


Can’t live with it. Can’t live without it.

THE FINEST HOUR – Marilyn Armstrong

I’m not talking about when Churchill saved England from the Nazi invaders and got their army out of Dunkirk. It’s three o’clock in the afternoon, the finest hour for retired people to have an appointment. The next almost as fine hour is two o’clock.

Why? Because even if you got up late, there’s enough time for coffee, a shower, a check of your e-mail, a pat on the heads of the dogs. It’s before rush hour. Or, as we put it, traffic will probably not be stuck in the middle of Milford.

It isn’t a huge town, but there’s only one road running through. Route 16, which is the only road from where we live and at least three other towns are located, to anywhere. There literally is no other road.

Route 16 is not exactly a road, either. Sixteen is a route. This means it is made up of a bunch of different roads each of which has its own name but are part of the same route.

Exactly what is it a route to? First, it was a horse and carriage route on which they hauled produce, lumber, whatever. Then it was a mail route from out here all the way through Boston out into Lynn and points east. Mostly, for us, it’s the only way to get there from here.

To no one’s surprise, everything you need is either on Route 16 or just off Route 16 on a small side road. Regardless, you have to drive the same good old route 16 to get there.

Upwards toward Route 98

It’s a middle-sized town with one road (Main Street, in town) in each direction. There is parking on both sides of the road. Biggest hospital in the area. Doctors offices. Veterinary hospitals. Restaurants. Medical buildings. Grocery stores and the occasion mini-mall.

Footsteps — mine — from house to road

Everything is on that route. I get tired thinking about it, especially today when we are having torrential rains and our driveway looks more like what it used to be — a seasonal stream.

Which was paved to become our driveway and the driveway of everyone on the south side (downslope) of Route 98.

A repaved driveway would be a really good thing!

It was one of the more brilliant moves by the idiot who built this house. I am told they actually ran him out-of-town eventually, but before that, he built a lot of houses in really awkward, inconvenient locations.

Like ours.

As you can imagine, it took us a while to add enough French drains, sumps, pumps, et al to keep our basements from filling up with water every time we had heavy weather, snow melt-off, or both.

For me, then, getting a 3 pm appointment in Upton — on the other side of Milford, but slightly north — is a winner. The receptionist knew it, too. She said “I think I have the perfect appointment for you. How about 3 pm on Friday, the 31st?”

“The WINNER!” I said with enthusiasm. It just doesn’t get better than that. Even on a snow day, it’s perfect because by that time, unless we’ve had a major blizzard, they have finally cleared the roads. Even ours.

Three pm. Forget the blue hour. Think three o’clock. It the senior circle’s finest time to do absolutely everything.

THE WAY HOME – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – June 29, 2018

Sometimes, there’s way and it takes you home. Everywhere on the property is full of flowers now.

Baby trees — more than a dozen sassafras saplings and several Catalpa growing like crazy. I have trouble believing how quickly these trees grow from nothing to a big, sturdy sapling several feet taller than me.

We are going to have to saw them down in the fall. If we don’t, the driveway won’t be a way to drive anymore.

Pass the garden and up the hill to the mailboxes and the road. It’s a long driveway and feels longest in heat or snow. It’s not so bad when the weather is in the middle.
This is OUR way!
Daylilies on the walk
The long green in the backyard
Up the driveway



This week’s topic is alleys, driveways, parking lots, and dirt. I have new material for this and a lot of archival pictures that apply. So many, in fact, that I’m going to have to restrain my enthusiasm.

72-Road to Mountains-GAR-Sunday-011016_158
Arizona desert road – Garry Armstrong, photographer
Our driveway, looking down from the street
Our driveway, looking down from the street
Handicapped parking at the medical building
Handicapped parking at the medical building
Alley behind the Massachusetts Statehouse in Boston
Alley behind the Massachusetts Statehouse in Boston
Our path through the woods
Our path through the woods
Down by the sawmill
Down by the sawmill

cee's fun foto chall


A small town with just one traffic light. Passing the same intersection every day. The same mini mall — we only have one. Churches, including the empty one that someone bought but is still boarded up. Before we go anywhere, though, there’s getting from the house up to the road.

Driveway in the front

It’s a long driveway, perilous in the winter. In terrible shape but we can’t afford to fix it, so gradually with the years, the asphalt breaks into small and smaller pieces until it’s almost gravel. Hard to use the snowblower on it. What’s the choice?



It’s beautiful everywhere right now. I don’t have to go far — just my front yard. Typically, we don’t get much color on our property since our woods are predominantly oak which don’t — as a rule — produce bright colors. This year is different.

It’s coming along very nicely. Spectacularly. A few years ago, we started letting a neighbor harvest some of our trees to thin the woods. Let more light in. The oaks had formed a solid canopy; it was killing off the maples and sassafras that don’t grow as tall and need sun. And the oaks were not looking as healthy as they could either.


The result was exactly what we needed. The remaining oaks — hundreds of them — look healthier and the maples and sassafras surged back. We lost a few of our most colorful trees to Sandy, but nature has replaced them.


This year, for the first time since we’ve lived here, there is scarlet and yellow in our own front yard and in the woods by the driveway and behind the house. It  looks electrified. The best color we have ever had!

We took Bonnie to the vet today and just standing in the parking lot gave me plenty to shoot. And it wasn’t a bright day. The sun peeped out for a few minutes, but mostly, it was drizzly and gray. Yet the trees were still aglow.

Welcome to Main Street

Lots of Snow

I could not go very far. To be exact, I could go as far as the snowblower had gone before and could take pictures only until my fingers froze. I had wanted to go back towards the woods, but the snow is just about up to my waist, so that’s a non starter, which is why all of the pictures I took today were shot from the bottom of our driveway.


My plan to explore was short-circuited by a wall of snow. It is a lot of snow.


We were fresh from the city when we bought the house. Neither of us noticed it had a driveway that could easily double as the bunny slope for skiers. I suppose we would have bought it anyhow, but it’s a lot of driveway, especially when it’s buried under 3 feet (more or less) of snow.