OPPOSITIONS IN COLOR – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Opposing Colors

As often as we say “opposites attract, ” mostly we are not talking about colors. But opposites do attract, though they may not stay together for long periods.

On the color wheel, the opposites are:

  • Blue/Orange
  • Yellow/Purple
  • Red/Green

I don’t think I’ve ever worn a combination of blue and orange or yellow with purple. Back when we had autumn, red and green were a popular combination and always are at Christmas.

Let me see what I can find!

Bluebird on the fence – the perfect blue and orange combination!

And then, there is are bluebirds, a perfect natural combination of orange (some say red, but it really IS orange). What man may forego, nature brings perfectly to life!

Bluebird

And finally, red and green!

The shed from the side

Mumford Dam in October

The Blackstone River in the fall

And do it goes! Colors in nature and in our little world. Here’s to a vastly improved decade!

VIBRANT COLORS — BIRD STYLE! – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge:
Vibrant Colors


It was a brilliant day for the birds today. The most brilliantly colored of the birds is the cardinal, and for once, I got a lot of pictures of both male and female cardinals — and a few other birds 😀

 

IS ANYONE LISTENING? — Marilyn Armstrong

I feel like I need to keep blogging on the off-chance that whatever I’m writing, someone is reading it and thinks a little differently because of what I wrote.

In the cave

The politics of the country are also getting painful. I can’t detach from them, but they give me a permanent headache. I wonder if this really IS the end of the country I’ve loved.

I don’t know whose country this is. I don’t understand the meanness, the hatred, the lack of kindness by those who are rich enough to really make a difference. Or, for that matter, how hard we tried to do the right things and seem to have failed on every possible level.


The weather is changing, my birds are dying — and regardless of whether or not our government believes it, it’s hard to not notice that many things about our climate have altered, with a lot more to come. It’s hard to be funny when everything seems so negative. Upbeat is a bumpy road.


Meanwhile, our littlest dog has a  lot of old dog problems. She, Gibbs, Garry, me, and this house are all suffering from aging. I’m also not convinced that trying to fix each problem is necessarily the right thing to do. Should Bonnie’s last days be full of surgery and pulled teeth? Is that how I would like to pass?

I don’t think she has a lot more time. I have been watching her decline as I have watched so many other pets. Do we want to put her through massive dental work — even if we could afford it — and eye surgery — which might or might not actually help? I have had many dogs move on from this world and every time we’ve tried to do something drastic to try and stop that clock, it has not only not improved the life of the pet we loved, but rather made their last months miserable and painful. We swore to each other to never do that again, but we always want to fix it. As if somehow, we can make time stop.

Maybe it’s more sane and kind to recognize that this bell is tolling for us.


So what’s the right thing to do? My current thought is that as long as Bonnie seems to be okay with life, that’s good.  I won’t put her through surgeries or procedures. She is 13, deaf, rather blind, and a wee bit into doggie dementia. Not deep into it. And despite all of this, she is quite spritely.

Meanwhile, do I have an obligation to keep on keeping on? To try to speak up about what I believe is right? To try to fight what I know is wrong? Does anyone care what I say? Is anyone listening? Do our voices matter?

The older I get, the more I realize no one is listening to their “elders” anymore — not counting the AARP crowd who are running for President. They appear to believe they will live forever.

The political reality that has gripped this country feels unreal. The only “real things” are solid. The house, Garry, the birds, and squirrels. Friends, family, and flowers are real. Everything else is … weird.

I’m going to write, so I might as well write here. What would I do with all the photographs no one will ever see unless I post them?

I also finally realized I am living in an American version of tyranny. I hardly know HOW to feel about it. How did this happen? I wonder how many people have felt like this for a long time? We became the Banana Republic, minus the bananas. What’s strangest of all — to me — is that it life is the same as ever. We have the same problems we’ve had for years. We hope for better days … or at least better days for our son and granddaughter. The young ones deserve a world they can live in.

What a peculiar and dangerous world we are leaving to our children and grandchildren. I hope we get to fix at least some of it before it goes totally out of control. That the one thing we most need to do. Politics be damned, we need to make our world a safe and healthy place to live.

Or, as the Wicked Witch of the West (or is it East?) say: “WHAT A WORLD. WHAT A WORLD.”

THE THREE SEASON YEAR – Marilyn Armstrong

We don’t get four seasons. We get three. Summer — hot, sticky, and buggy, but at least it’s warm. Okay, a lot of humidity, but you have to take the good with the bad.

I had been hoping we’d more Autumn, and we did. It was short — just about a week — but glorious for that week. Which is good because it’s only the first week in November and they are predicting snow. I don’t think we’ll get any here, but it would not be a surprise. I can remember many years when it snowed before Thanksgiving and stayed snowy until Summer showed up.

Sometimes we get a second Autumn in November that lasts until after Christmas. Last year, it lasted until March, at which point we had three blizzards in a row. The snow hung around until the trees began to bloom after which we got two months of heavy rains and wind. No climate change here!

Last week it was pretty warm, but right now, it’s cold. Very cold.

House in summer

Summer by the Blackstone

Autumn by the river and canal

Now those are Autumn specials! – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong –Winter at home

Junco atop the Toad

No pictures of spring because that’s a season we don’t really get. It’s winter, then summer. We always HOPE for spring, though. Even though we know it isn’t happening, we figure maybe one year it will.

You never know, right?

LEARNING TO GROW THINGS – Marilyn Armstrong

I started to grow plants because my friend Mary was a crazed grower of potted plants. She lived in Brooklyn. Park Slope at the time.

These years, she has a house out on Staten Island. We haven’t seen each other in a really long time. Not since right after I got back from Israel — which was August 1987.

She was the first person to encourage me to grow things. I’d really never tried. But she gave me some of the cuttings from her plants. Told me to put them in a sunny window and water them when they got dry. They did very well and soon, all I wanted to do was haunt nurseries.

She taught me how to examine a plant, make sure it didn’t have any diseases or insect invasions.

Somewhere in the course of my conversion from non-growing to a wild-eyed enthusiast, basically converted the first floor of a really big house into a giant nursery. No curtains. Plants hung from the ceiling, lived on glass shelving. I put metal trays with gravel and water in the trays so when the radiators came up, they created a nice mist for the plants to live in.

They thrived. I was also the editor of the Doubleday Garden Guild. Because I’m me, I read all of the books we published, so whatever I hadn’t gotten from Mary, I learned from reading hundreds of books about growing plants. Indoors and outside.

I never took to outdoor gardening the way I did to indoor pottery gardens. For one thing, even way back then I’d already had major surgery on my spine and although I was a lot more limber than I am now, a lot of bending more or less did me in, even then. I left the outdoor gardening to husband and son.

So when I tell you that all you need to grow plants indoors is decent light and go easy with the watering can, maybe I’m understating where I learned what I learned. Mostly, it came from Mary and other friends who grew plants. We traded cuttings, sometimes passed off our huge plants for smaller ones.

My ceilings were only 10 feet high on the ground floor and once a plant started trying to dig through to the upper story, it had to move on. Which is why, now, I have a small but a good-size Norfolk Island pine in exchange for a Dracaena Marginata I had been growing for almost 20 years. It got too tall. In the wild, a Norfolk Island pine will grow hundreds of feet tall, but in this house, 7 foot 6 inches is as tall as it can get before it moves to another house.

I don’t have the volume of plants I did. Having an entire house full of plants became a job — at least an hour or two every night going from plant to plant, pulling off dead leaves, turning plants so they would grow evenly. And how many times did I fill the watering can before I finished with all 6 ground floor rooms? It was a big house with tall windows.

Today we were passing a house on our way to River Bend and there was a little house that had the most lovely garden I’ve seen in years. All the white picket fences were lined with sunflowers and a rather wild, yet obviously well-tended crop of bright flowers surrounded the front of the house.

I took pictures. It was just the way I’d make my garden if my spine would let me.

THE ANNIVERSARY BOUQUET – Marilyn Armstrong

The 29th Anniversary Bouquet

And so our anniversary came and went. As have the other 28 anniversaries. It’s a bit hard to believe it has gone so fast. Next year, thirty. One of the zero years. Maybe we’ll do something bigger. Or maybe not. Somebody better throw us a party because I’m too tired to do it myself.

Garry had really gone in to get me another orchid, but the ones left were kind of dry and tired looking. I’d been explaining to him that when you look to buy a growing plant, you don’t look for the largest or showiest plant. You look for one that has young leaves and new roots coming up. Preferably rather than full flowering, you want buds that will fill out.

He realized I probably knew what I meant … so he went with the bouquet. It’s glorious and the color or Autumn in the sunshine.

I used to love giving parties. I like giving them a lot better than going to one because if I gave it, at least I knew everyone.

A rose is a rose?

More bouquet. This one is a beauty!

THE NEW LITTLE GARDEN – Marilyn Armstrong

The New Little Garden – 09-13-2019

I wanted a new orchid. To bring in any new plant, I needed someplace to put them. Everything was on a leftover dining chair, a stool. There was one plant stand, but everything else was a piece of something I found somewhere in the house.

Overview

We have a dining room table that folds into three pieces, so it can be a relatively small table pushed against the wall or opened all the way, seat 8 people comfortably. When Garry brought home the new orchid, there was no more putting it off.

We settled for dropping one-third of it and pushing that end against the glass doors. I have been thinking of dropping another third until we need it, but I’m thinking about it. Meanwhile, there’s room for more plants. Not a lot more plants unless I hang some from the ceiling (which I might do).

HAPPENSTANCE JUST HAPPENS – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Wednesday – HAPPENSTANCE

It has been one of those weeks. We were supposed to go away at the end of the week to celebrate being alive and surviving this year, but happenstance really happened big-time. First, I got sick. I wasn’t sure I was sick until I talked to Cherrie and she had the same thing and then Garry came down with it. I guess that means I had something. It’s one of those stomach things, so it will go away pretty quickly (usually they only last a few days), so I’m not going running to the doctor for something that’s just “going around.”

As it happened, one of the people we would be have been visiting has to be in the hospital soon. People with contagious things don’t go visiting people who are having surgery soon. It’s just … well … rude. Unhealthy, too.

Then there’s the wall of the house. As concerned as I am about getting the insurance company to throw a few dollars our way (ONE year’s payment of our home insurance bill would more than cover the issue and we’ve been paying for a long, long time — 19 years on this house and 10 on the previous one — but they don’t “pay.” They collect.

Garry and Karin MacMillan

On the upside, Karin — who we were going to be visiting but now aren’t — dropped by this morning with her business partner and Garry got to jabber a bit and it was fun to actually have company. She commented that this is a really lovely area — which it really is. It’s a gorgeous area despite the terrible weather we’ve been having.

Owen then came over and put a new pillar under the back deck. The pillar is on cement, so it isn’t going to sink. It used to be attached to the house, but the attachment came loose. Propping it up seemed a better deal than getting a new deck. That’s a few thousand dollars and basically, there’s nothing wrong with this deck except that it has come unhitched from the house. Now, with a double-strong wooden pillar propping up that corner, it is unlikely to go anywhere. And he got the job done in under two hours. Go, Owen!

I’m still trying to get hold of the contractor. It’s a busy — SUPER busy — season for contractors. Not only is everyone desperate to get something fixed before winter drops by, but it’s hunting season. Big time. And contractors have an odd way of drifting away even when they are in the middle of a job. So I want him to come, but I have to cajole and coddle him. Can I bribe him with cookies?

And yesterday, because how loud can anyone hint before someone else gets the message, Garry bought me a brilliant purple orchid. Which meant rearranging the dining room by pushing the table against the French doors. We can use it as a sideboard if we are serving and everyone can drift off to eat wherever they are most comfy. And my flowers look so much better.

As it happens, happenstance won my day. I happened to have a new coffee machine because the old one croaked and new flowers to dream about. Garry feels a little better than yesterday and I don’t feel any worse, which is something.

COUNTRY GARDENS BETWEEN STORMS – Marilyn Armstrong

AMELIORATING AND JUDICIOUS WILD PLANTING OF FLOWERS IN THE TINY TOWN OF UXBRIDGE

Our lawns are essentially wild,, too. I can’t turn on the hose because that pipe broke a few years ago and I haven’t figured out where to attach the new hose, (there’s a spout somewhere, but where?) — and so the hose is still in its original box in the basement.

Watering is hardly an issue. We are wet enough for several thousand lawns.

In the spring, the back lawn is covered with dandelions, wild violets, and Mayflowers. I love the yellow and blue combination. I won’t let anyone cut it until after they have all died back. Half our “front” garden is full of Asters, Columbine, Spiderwort, Solomon’s Seal. and Daylilies culled from the roads and woods. Other than the Roses and a big old-fashioned white Rhododendron that came before we moved in, all the other things we planted disappeared.

I think we have ONE remaining tulip and an azalea that’s too shady to bloom much. About twice a year, my son mows everything and hits the giant forsythia with an electric hedge cutter. Otherwise, it is what it is. Wild thing overtaking wild thing. Right now, it’s Jimson Weed with its bright purple berries (it came out of nowhere, but we have had a lot of birds and they bring seeds).

Jimson weed

We rarely go into the garden for recreation but we do occasionally hang out on the deck which is falling down. The bird feeders will go back up at the end of the month. I can’t wait until November. I want my birds back.

The dogs own the front yard and it looks like a site on which they shoot missiles. Garry cleans the pathway to the house, but otherwise, it’s pretty ripe. The other 4 acres are woods. These days, almost entirely oak behind the house and a 50-50 mix of sugar maple, oak, and our one and only decorative tree, the Japanese maple culled from my cousin’s crop (he has many).

This year, the wild grape vines are covering everything and growing insanely fast, too. As is the Bitterroot which is a transplant from somewhere else. Not on this continent.

There are a few miniature Korean lilacs I planted 20 years ago and are growing, but I have trouble finding them between the bigger trees.  Our only, very beaten and battered (and aging) lilac that is the size of a medium-size maple still throws up a few flowers. I need a very long lens to find the few we get and those are way up at the top of the tree.

Few people have much in the way of gardens. It’s dark from the canopy of oaks which shade out most other trees. We had ash and maple and we do have a fair growth of sassafras — but only along the edge of the woods.

A million kinds of grasping vines fighting for dominance. The rain has changed that. Last year it was wild morning glory which at least had a few flowers, but this year, it’s those huge grapevines. They have grown so tall they cover some of the mid-size oak trees.
I have ONE really well-grown maple right in front of my house which I treasure because it’s the only place on the property (other than the Japanese maple) that gives me real color.

Sunshine and oak trees

The deep green of the oaks become a golden bronze late in the season (November, usually) and the few remaining Ash change to bright yellow — usually now — but the rain has changed it so there is NO color anywhere.

At least I don’t have to worry about mowing because there’s no lawn. There was — for a single season — a back lawn after we had our backyard flattened and seeded, but the following year, after a wild and crazy winter of blizzards and brutally low temperatures, the wildflowers came back and the grass gave up.

It’s easier in the country. No one expects a big floral show (but a great ripening of tomatoes will bring admiring neighbors from near and far), so if you have a few daffodils and daylilies, that’s fine.

Everyone has one or more dogs. If you listen, you can always hear one barking. Occasionally, in the evening, they all get a good solid group bark going. It’s the Canine Earphone Collective. Free. No devices needed. That’s how dogs keep in touch, pass along the gossip, and let all the other canines know what’s happening out here in the never-ever lands beyond the city and suburban borders.

Back — now nearly 10 years ago — when we had our three long-eared hounds, they would sing in the morning. How I miss them! None of our current generation of dogs sing. No idea what DNA created El Duque , but the Scotties only sing if other dogs begin the chorus. Then they will yelp during appropriate moments in the finale.

AUGUST: DOG AND OTHER DAYS – Marilyn Armstrong

August 2012 through 2019

A little photographic journey around the northeastern end of the American continent.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Rockport, Massachusetts at sunrise

I didn’t have a single fire pump for Cee’s challenge, so I went back through seven years of August. From Glocester to Rockport, from Connecticut to Maine … these are the hot, humid, hazy days of late summer in New England.

NEW ENGLAND GARDENS – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Gardens

The gardens of New England are a bit tired as we go into August. Most of my flowers are early summer flowers. They used to bloom in May and June, but recently they bloom in late June and July. Right now, it just looks awful! The Daylilies are gone, the roses are pretty, but there aren’t a lot of them.

And in the water …