OH, TO BE BACK IN OCTOBER AGAIN – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Autumn Scenes


Autumn is our season, though for the past two years, it has been abruptly shortened by unusually warm weather and far too much rain. Still, we did get at least a week or two, which is better than nothing.

My favorite house in mid-October

The shed in October

The very end of October 2019 on the Blackstone River

Maple trees in late October at River Bend

Upward from the house to the road

Mid-October, on our road towards Rhode Island

WE WENT TO THE RIVER BECAUSE THE WORLD WAS GLOWING – Garry Armstrong

By the time we got through with the bank and the grocery and the pharmacy, I was ready for an ambulance.

The years really do catch up with you. I was so tired, I hadn’t even brought a camera with me.

Of course, Marilyn just happened to have a spare travel size Leica in her purse that she let me use.

This is the “end” of peak foliage. Beautiful, but it loooked like a golden snowstorm.

Colors by the Blackstone.

I really liked that little camera. Since I have a record of adopting Marilyn’s stuff and keeping it, she sat me down and said: “You can’t have the Leica. I love you and you can borrow it, but I am not going to give you my Leica.”

Marilyn taking her own pictures.

Time to watch the water ripple

Reflections

Now those are Autumn specials!

I couldn’t even argue the point, but what a nice little camera it is! it’s doesn’t have as long a lens as some travel cameras, but it doesn’t distort images, the colors stay true … and you can clip it in your pocket. Well, not yet. But I’ll talk her out of it. In the end, she’ll give me the camera.

That’s love.

The Boyz

A PHOTO A WEEK: CHANGING SEASONS – Marilyn Armstrong

We haven’t gotten much in the way of autumn foliage. Hardly any. Little patches of yellow and occasionally a hint of red. It’s not much, especially considering how glorious our foliage can be. We were blah last year and the year before. So this will be the third year without “real” autumn.

Mumford River Dam in downtown Uxbridge

Garry’s got an ugly abscess in a tooth, so we had to be at the dentist early this morning. As it happens, the dentist’s office is next to the Mumford River dam. I took a few pictures. They aren’t great. I did intensify the colors a bit because they were so pale. It hardly looks like autumn.

But oddly, our woods is very bright with yellow leaves this year. No red or orange — we don’t have any maple trees back there. But the aspen and the vines are very bright and you can see them behind the bird feeders. So I guess it’s not a complete loss!

 

IT’S ALWAYS SOMETHING – Marilyn Armstrong

I was definitely feeling better.

For one thing, I noticed the house needed cleaning which I hadn’t noticed at all for the previous six weeks.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

There are more birds every day at the feeders and this morning, there was a big gray squirrel swinging from the wires. It appears that most of the birds have come back. I even saw a little Goldfinch the other day.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

I think I missed Autumn. To be fair so did everyone else. I was thinking “Okay, but maybe I can finally get out of the house and do something.” I’ve been stuck in the house feeling really crappy for weeks and it seemed like a couple of days more and I’d be almost normal again.

That’s when Garry broke a tooth. I think it’s in his upper jaw and the doctor concurs. Talk about a lot of pain. I broke that tooth about 15 years ago and it was really bad. I ended a vacation to come home and go to the dentist.

During the two days ago from when I was beginning to feel better and Garry broke his tooth, he seems to have developed infections in one ear and a lymph gland infection too. He’s on the biggest dose of Augmentin I’ve ever seen as well as muscle relaxants, plus some impressive pain killers. Not surprisingly, he’s also sound asleep.

It’s cold today.

I don’t mean a little chilly. It’s a two-sweater kind of cold. Maybe it’s the dampness because it’s also raining. It was this cold last week, but it didn’t feel this nasty.

I finally gave in and turned up the heat to 67 (from 65). My bones were rebelling.

I feel more than a little put upon. I can’t get well from one illness before the next thing wallops Garry? Is this some kind of competition? It ain’t fair!

Meanwhile, Autumn has gone missing. There are yellow leaves, but no reds or orange. We’ve lost that delicious fall weather with a bit of cool snap in the air, the crunching of leaves underfoot — as well as the color. If ONE season had to go missing, why did it have to be the one I like most?

On the street where we live.

I did discover that hemp seed oil makes Bonnie stop barking without putting her into a stupor, so that’s good. In fact, she likes hemp seed oil so much, I could give her the whole bottle and she’d lick her lips and ask for more. I think the other two dogs are getting jealous.

And so it goes. The doctor today and the dentist tomorrow. Are we having fun yet?

Still water and the rush of the dam

Nonetheless, hope remains alive. We have one bright red leaf on our maple tree out front. A single scarlet leaf. It’s a promise that no matter how miserable it is now, it will get better. That red leaf is a promise of more and better to come.

These photographs are here to remind us of Autumns we used to have, back in those golden olden days.

CEE’S FUN FOTO CHALLENGE: UP IN THE TREES! – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Trees

We’ve been away for a few days and I’m going to need a bit of time to get up to speed. I’ve got some interesting ideas, but it will take me a bit of time to write and edit them, so be a little patient. Didn’t take any pictures. It rained the entire time we were away, so there was no boating and mostly, Garry was trying to learn how to use a microphone and cut audio tracks — something with which I am NOT familiar, so I couldn’t be of much help.

Japanese maple in full leaf

My primary function seems to have been surrendering my Mac to Garry’s professional ambitions. I didn’t use it much anyway.

Meanwhile, I’ve got some trees!

Trees along the river and the pathway to the road

Sun through the trees

STILL AUTUMN IN MY MIND – Marilyn Armstrong

FOTD – November 18, 2018


It’s cold out and there’s snow in the driveway. We haven’t found a plow guy yet, but we live in hope. As long as he or she (we’ve never found a she who drives a plow, but why not?) gets here before we need an oil delivery, we’re good.

Martha Kennedy suggested YakTrax so we can walk up our frozen driveway and not fall on our collective heads and the dogs like snow a lot better than they like rain. They hate rain.

Well, to be fair, Gibbs feels that the sofa is the right place for him pretty much all the time, but the Duke loves everything. Bonnie only goes out when it’s 72 degrees with a light breeze.

Never you mind. We will survive winter. I just wish it hadn’t decided to begin before Thanksgiving.

The last time we had a big snow in early November, we got 120 inches for the season which was an all-time record. Even if you really like snow, that is a great deal of snow and a lot of money for plowing.

Meanwhile, I’m still living in my dreams of the autumn we almost had. Don’t ruin my dreams. I need them.

ROSES AND OAK LEAVES – Marilyn Armstrong

Roses & Oak Leaves 


A few days ago, our entire property was completely covered by a full carpet of oak leaves. You couldn’t see anything but leaves and broken branches from the trees. The rain and wind have never quit for more than a day or two at a time.

The leaf vacuum crew came and cleaned us up yesterday and while we aren’t completely free of leaves … there are always more up there in the trees … we can see the deck and the driveway … and even the front lawn.

Late roses and oak leaves

Oak leaves in the ground cover

Of course, the rain and the wind are coming back. It’s going to be a bad week. Regardless, we’re going to be away in Connecticut for a few days, so the dogs and the weather are going to have to try and get along without us for a few days.

Leaves and the dog’s rope toy still wet from rain

The weather has gotten pretty weird. It’s hard to explain, but it doesn’t “feel” normal. The weather has always followed a pattern. Not the exact same pattern every year, but typically in late August, you’d see the first yellow leaves. Night time temperatures would begin to drop which triggered the leaf change.

Oak leaves

By mid-September, nights were chilly, even though the days were usually quite warm. By the end of September, at least half the trees had changed color and two or three weeks later, by mid-October, Autumn peaked. When we got lucky, it would linger a couple of extra weeks. If the winds didn’t rise and we didn’t get a lot of rain, you might still see quite a lot of fall right through November.

The last of the woods. Bare now

This year, spring never came. Summer started more than a month late and the flowers that bloom in May didn’t bloom until July. Some never bloomed at all. The dry days of summer never happened and the wind and the rain have continued undaunted and as far as I can tell, are not going to stop. Eventually, it will be cold enough that the wind and rain will become snow and rain.

We didn’t really have Autumn or spring. We’ve had a few days here and there, but mostly, it’s not the seasons. It’s just weather.

MORE OF THE LAST AUTUMN TREE – Marilyn Armstrong

The Last Autumn Tree – FOTD – November 9, 2018


We had a second sunny day in a row. Unbelievable! But not to worry. It will rain tomorrow. Probably not until the evening. The rivers are full and they are expecting rivers to flood.

I am trying not to think about it, hoping the sump and the pump are up to the task. And our French drains are not clogged with leaves and the gutters are still viable. And the roof doesn’t leak.

The tree in all her glory

It has been raining  … major storms … several times each week and the rivers are cresting. And guess who lives in a river valley?

Amazing colors!

I went out and took more pictures of The Tree. Because after tomorrow’s storm, it won’t have any leaves left. Count on it.

I have save more pictures because I’m going to need them.

A SUNNY FALL DAY IN NOVEMBER – Marilyn Armstrong

A Beautiful Autumn Day in November


An orange maple leaf

It has been a pretty sad sack of Autumn in Massachusetts. Last week, the leaves finally decided to change. Unfortunately, it was in the middle of our now daily rain. A particularly heavy rain with plenty of wind.

The best leaves

I pondered the situation and realized we were indeed going to get some lovely autumn foliage, but half the trees will be naked by then. Today, finally, it was (mostly) sunny for most of the day. But tomorrow, the rain is back. Wind too. Good thing I took my camera with me. I could tell Garry wished he brought his because he had to borrow mine and take a few shots.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Always have a camera. You just never know!

Photo: Garry Armstrong

It was a running around day. We had to catch up on errands. We get money on the first of the month, so we go shopping. By the first, we are out of everything except coffee, half-and-half, and dog food. And of course, treats for the dogs. Can’t run out of treats.

Curving rail tracks

The trees — wherever they still were trees and not naked limbs — were beautiful. Not much red, but deep orange and a glorious golden-yellow. The woods were lit up when the sun hit them.

BE IT EVER SO HUMBLE – Garry Armstrong

FOTD – Be It Ever So Humble – October 26, 2018

It was a beautiful day. Actually sunny from earliest rays of the morning until sunset. I went out to clean up our front walk — the dogs, you know — and everything looked bright. We didn’t get much in the way of reds or orange, but the woods are quite yellow and the oaks are beginning to turn to bronze.

I went in to grab my camera and took a few pictures.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Aldrich Street

Photo: Garry Armstrong -The oaks are changing color

Fred the Flamingo is still in the garden – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Down the driveway – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong – West past the shed into the woods

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME – Marilyn Armstrong

FOTD – No Place Like Home – October 23, 2018

It rained in the morning.

These days, it always rains in the morning. Every morning. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow morning, too.

With a little luck, it’ll stop before they start the World Series.

Sassafras

Which starts tomorrow evening. It’s on Fox network so most people with American television will be able to see it. Probably in Mexico and Canada, too.

Route 98, heading north

We had a bit of sunshine right before our doctor appointment, but by the time we got out, the sun was gone.

There’s no place like home.

There wasn’t much to photograph until we got home and I realized that at least our street had some nice color. No sun, but the trees look pretty nice.

SUNSET THROUGH AUTUMN LEAVES – Marilyn Armstrong

FOTD – Sunset Through Foliage – October 22, 2018

It rained in the morning, cleared up briefly mid-morning, went back to drizzly and gray by lunchtime … and suddenly, just before sunset, the light turned that beautiful amber that screams OCTOBER!

The sun, just over the gate. If you look, you can still see the roses

Towards the road

It was cold, but I pulled on a heavy sweatshirt and a camera and took pictures. For almost an hour, it really looked like Autumn.

Leaves are gold

A hint of scarlet and a flash of sunlight from the setting sun

About half an hour later, the meteorologist on the news was pointing out t was a beautiful sunset, but we should not be deluded. It will be even colder tomorrow.

I took in the aloe. I was afraid it would freeze tonight.

THE STORM ENDS AND CLEANUP BEGINS

MORE THEN MERELY MESSY


All that drenching rain came pouring out of the skies — and it wasn’t the first time in the past couple of weeks, either. What had remained of grass in the front of the house  was just dried or almost dried mud. When these rains came, it washed the mud down from the upper lawn and turned the sidewalk into a mess of oozy brown mud.

Many leaves will fall!

It’s pretty awful out there. Drying out as we speak, but what to do?

Between two old and broken backs and arthritis crawling into every part of two skeletons, it’s hard to figure how we will get it cleaned up. It’s not like the dogs … who think layers of dirt are just fine, thank you … are likely to help. Right now, the yard is exactly the way they like it. There are fallen branches and twigs everywhere plus all the leaves that fell after last fall’s cleanup.

Our leaves are a three-stage process. During the early Autumn days, the maple leaves fall first. As soon as the color fades, they come down like rain into giant leafy drifts. Owen usually cleans them up. He has a machine to do that and it helps.

The storm of yesterday

The next wave of falling leaves consist of half the oaks, as well as the sassafras, any remaining maples, and the few other deciduous trees such as the Catalpa. Owen gets them, too, or most of them. There are always a few which are missed.

Finally, there are the leaves we don’t collect because they hang on the limbs until winter. Some don’t fall until the following spring. The last, late oak leaves don’t drop until late November or December. No one cleans them up because there is usually snow on the ground by then. There are — I don’t think this is much of an exaggeration — millions of leaves every autumn. Anyone who wanted to live in a woods and thought it would be romantic was right — except that living in a woods gets complicated and often messy.

You can’t leave the sodden leaves rotting against your house because it’s unhealthy for the house. It keeps your foundation damp. Damp foundations are unhappy foundations.

The bed of leaves remaining in what we humorously call “the garden” goes to insulate flowers (and weeds) from the bitter cold. We certainly had a bitterly cold winter. January was one of the coldest months on record. It was so cold, we didn’t get nearly as much snow as usual because when it’s that cold, the air is too dry to make snow.

But then, we moved abruptly — in a matter of hours — from well below freezing into the extremely springlike, mild temperatures. All of February was punctuated by a couple of warm days followed by a couple of bitter days. A bit of snow, a bit more snow, more melting … and deluges of rain.

Window outward

It’s a mess around here and I feel I should shut up about it because however much of a mess we have got, a lot of other people have a lot worse with which to contend. We didn’t lose any trees. Our roof is intact. No cars or people were crushed. We have some small branches and a million twigs everywhere, but no larger life-threatening limbs fell. Something of a minor miracle considering what might well have occurred.

These are the times when being old is a significant deficit. If we had even a little more money — we got whacked last year by the door replacement (Thanks Bob, for the help or we’d never have made it!), the exploded hot water heater (third times the charm?) and adding a stair climber to the steps from the front door to the living room. But to use the climber requires a viable walkway from driveway to door … and right now, we don’t have one. Fortunately, I can still lumber my way up the extra steps from the basement. I notice that Garry is beginning to have trouble with the steps too, these days.

The long driveway when the leaves are (mostly) gone

The great truth is we are not getting younger. Garry is in good shape for a man turning 76, but he is turning 76. He was never handy around the house. That is a kind way of saying that he has never had either interest or aptitude for house stuff. For years, Owen took care of it, but Owen moved out and doesn’t have nearly enough time to take care of it … and Owen himself is eligible for AARP. How time flies!

Withe the failure of our government to support older people both in health care and generally in keeping them from falling below the poverty line, hiring others to do the work isn’t really in the cards. We got a 2% raise in Social Security last year — less than $5 per month per check and of course retirement funds never go up, so whatever you got last year, any inflation means you are that percentage poorer. It is fortunate we don’t eat a lot.

Meanwhile,  I’d like about two weeks of a strong young handy-person to help straighten up the mess. I thought I had one, but he seems to have vanished. It’s possible poverty forced him to look for a better deal elsewhere.

Yellow before red

In the midst of the deluge and hurricane winds of yesterday, the builder came by to look at the problems we are having. We have a window that has sagged and is under the vinyl, obviously rotted out. It will need to be replaced. Whether or not it’s just the window that need replacing or the wall around it also need replacing remains to be seen. Regardless, it has to be fixed. There’s no alternative. We cannot easily extract ourselves from this house. We can’t “keep it up” the way it should be and that saddens me … but we can at least make our best effort to keep it from falling down.

It’s not the “what” of the mess with which we deal. It’s the “how” that’s killing us. Now, I have to call my son and find out where the faucet is in the front of the house. I think it’s buried in leaves near the front door. I hope it is!

 

THE LAST AUTUMN FOLIAGE

The day before all the leaves fell from the trees was beautiful. Garry wasn’t up to going out — his shoulder has a nerve issue and he’s getting a cortisone shot for it next week. But the sun was out and filtering through the leaves in our woods in mid-afternoon. I just grabbed my little camera and went out. Shot half a dozen pictures of the sun filtering through the oak trees. 

I did not know that these would be the last pictures of the leaves this year. Autumn was so short … just three weeks from when the leaves changed to disappearing. Now, it’s very cold outside. It will warm up a bit, but fall ended abruptly. Overnight. These are my last two pictures from Autumn 2017, taken November 8th. Our oak woods.