MAY WATER EVER FLOW – Marilyn Armstrong

WATER EVERYWHERE


There’s a lot of wetness when you live in a water shed. It flows over rocks and down the dams. It runs into little rivulets and bigger streams and sometimes, into the old canal. We have some lakes, too, including a very large one that has a Native American name that no one who didn’t grow up in this area can ever pronounce. Webster Lake, for Anglophones.

For valley natives,  it is Lake “Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg” (/ˌleɪk tʃɚˈɡɒɡəɡɒɡ ˌmænˈtʃɔːɡəɡɒɡ tʃəˌbʌnəˈɡʌŋɡəmɔːɡ/). This is a 45-letter alternative title is frequently called the longest place-name in the United States. If there’s a longer one, no one has yet told me what it might be.

It is also one of the longest place-names in any language.

Tall Ships, Boston 2017

I grew up in New York. The city part of the state and the nearest “water” were the docks along the horribly polluted rivers. Thank Pete Seeger for helping fix that so that the Hudson River is no longer so polluted you could actually develop film in the water.

I lived in Queens and if we wanted to see water without someone driving us, we got on our bicycles and rode for a couple of hours to whatever were the nearest docks. There was a tiny little lake right by my high school, though. Beaver Dam. I’m assuming that once upon a time, there were beaver there. I suspect it is gone. It didn’t seem to have any inlets or outlets and that’s usually the end of a body of water.

We never had flowing water locally. No streams, no rivers. We did have some large puddles and named them as if they were lakes, though we knew they were not. Still, they were the only thing we had, so we had to make do.

If we wanted an ocean, someone’s mother or father had to drive us to the beach. Mine was not a beach-going family. My mother had cancer in her 40s. Too much radiation, so she could not go into the sun. When she had no choice, she wore caftans and huge hats. They hadn’t invented sun-screen yet, but later, she would wear that, too.

Sunset at the marina

I liked the beach because my friends liked the beach. I loved the ocean itself and that crazy feeling of standing in the oceans, feeling the sand moving under your feet as the wave pulled out before the next rolled in. Otherwise, I never liked sand. It always got into places I thought sand didn’t belong.

Woodcleft Canal, Freeport

I remember burning my feet trying to walk barefoot to the car through the parking lots of Jones Beach. We didn’t have flip-flops then. I don’t think anyone had invented them. I don’t remember owning sandals until I was an adult.

I liked the ocean off-season better. I liked the mist on the ocean and an empty beach. No umbrellas, no couples rubbing each other with oil. No endless smell of hot dogs.

Those were the days when everyone wanted a tan. I never tanned. I got more and more freckled though and you’d think eventually they would meld into a tan, but nope. Once, I get a slightly orange hue to my skin I thought was my best tan ever. Garry — to whom I was then married — laughed hysterically.

He used to have a contest with another Black friend about who could get the blackest over the course of the summer. Garry never won because there’s a lot of red in his skin. Probably those Irish grandparents, but Michael got really dark. I was this ghostly little thing and any attempt I made to get a golden tan resulted in days of pain and peeling.

Eventually, I gave up. I did get a sort of tan the year we went for our first cruise. Garry talked me into spending a couple of hours a week at a tanning salon so at least I would look tanned. It turns out those fake tans don’t keep you from burning, by the way. I got a terrible burn on a beach in Haiti even though I was wearing a t-shirt AND a hat — and had that fake tan. Water reflects sun upwards. Live and learn.

Local tame goose looking for something to eat

Those tans weren’t “real” anyway. They faded fast, but at least they weren’t as ugly as the spray. I did try one of those and it looked like I’d been heavily involved with orange paint I could not wash off.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Living here, in the valley with the rivers, dams , waterfalls plus all the woodland … this suits me well. The rivers are shady and cool. Not for swimming, mostly.

There is either a minor pollution problem dating back to when the Blackstone was one of the most polluted rivers in the world … or there are so many snapping turtles if you treasure your toes, don’t dangle your bits in the water.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

That’s okay. It’s great watching the herons, eagles, egrets, geese, ducks, swans and other waders pluck fish from the water. It’s sad when we have a drought and all you can see is mud and you wonder what has become of all those turtles and fish … and where have the eagles and the herons flown.

Yet the fish and the turtles and the water fowl come back, despite the bitter cold and the endless winter storms. They make new life and so far, the world spins on in the valley.

ANY KIND OF CAMERA: CEE’S FUN FOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Any kind of camera or photographer

Well, any kind of camera or photographer is, for someone like me, pretty easy. I love taking pictures of cameras. Sometimes, I love taking pictures of cameras taking pictures. Garry and I take pictures of each other taking pictures of each other.

THE AMAZING CHANGING SEASONS: APRIL 2018 – Marilyn Armstrong

The Changing Seasons: April 2018

Speaking of changing, what a month! For that matter, what a couple of months this has been. Crazy weather.

The Nice Weather Gallery

Not that crazy isn’t an inherent part of our New England weather. The northeastern piece of this continent has weather that is utterly unpredictable, especially as winter tries to turn into spring and generally fails.

Good morning little red finch!

Typically, we get winter. Then we get the end of winter which is like winter with occasional warmer days sandwiched between cold ones.

The Not Nice Weather Gallery

I suppose what has made this “spring” particularly difficult has been the cold. By this time of year, I’m usually turning down the heat, opening the windows. Cleaning out the garden. Getting excited about daffodils and glorying in the yellowness of forsythia.

As of right now, we have no flowers. We have had crocuses and they were lovely and we have a lot of growth — the beginning of what I fondly believe will be flowers in a couple of weeks. Maybe even less. But as of right now? It’s the end of the winter. Freezing temperatures at night, warming into the high forties or low fifties in the middle of the day.

Snow along the road

And then there were the super storms. We are not on the seashore, so we didn’t get the kind of battering people living closer to the ocean have gotten. During the past ten years, we’ve gotten giant storms, often stretching from coast-to-coast or taking up most of the Atlantic Ocean.

The scientists dealing with climate change believe these super storms are prime indicators of climate change.  It’s not that we don’t get strange weather in New England, but rarely do we get three super storms with hurricane-level winds in less than two weeks. With snow and rain and sleet and flooding.

Almost daffodils

It’s sort of like the weather we have always gotten multiplied by a factor of five. Very intense weather packed tightly together.

We will have spring and in many places, today was the day it seemed to show up. It was love here today. Blue skies, moderate weather and the song of the Carolina wren can be heard all around the property.

Christmas cactus ready to bloom again

Tomorrow, there will be rain and wind — but after that, I think we will have a few days of spring and then it will be summer. I’m hoping I can get down to clean up the garden before the flowers open. It’s really hard to rake when the day lilies are blooming and the roses are rampant in the garden.

SHARING THE WORLD AS WE STROLL INTO SPRING

Share Your World – March 26, 2018

It is already a week past the Vernal Equinox and it’s still surprisingly cold here. Not mid-winter cold, though and in the middle of the day, you can feel the sun.

With the change of time, we are also getting a more normal sunset. I always feel better on DST than the rest of the year. It feels “natural” and the arrival of the light in the morning feels right. Full dark at 7 in the morning always feels “off.”

What is your favorite color of hair? You can name your hair color or a color that you just like.

And the answer is — I never thought about it. I have liked natural blond hair, however rarely I see it. I had a good friend who had the most amazing blond hair in the world. Then one day, she chopped it off, I suppose because she wearied of the amount of care very long hair requires. I understood the motive, but I mourned the amazing hair and it’s many intermixing colors.

I like dark hair too. Natural hair with natural highlights. You don’t see a lot of natural anything in hair these days. No one seems happy with whatever nature bestowed on them. I liked my hair well enough, even though it was never the same color two weeks in a row. It was very dark brown when I was a kid, but lightened up to a dark amber brown — what some hairdressers called dark blond but to me was brown with lighter highlights. Then it began to go gray.

It didn’t go gray evenly or elegantly. Just patches of battleship gray here and there. So much for natural! For the next 40 years (I went gray when I was still in my 20s) I dyed it back to what had once been my color.

Then, I had some serious life and death surgery and when I came home, my hair was not gray — it was snow-white. You hear that such a thing is possible in books, but to have it happen to you is more than a little startling. I gave up dying my hair. The difference between white and even light brown was too abrupt and I always looked a bit skunkish, with white streaks here and there along my scalp.

Since going white, my hair has reverted to a bit brown in some areas (yes, you can revert to brown from white — hair is a moving target) and darker gray in others, but it’s mostly white. I gave up dying it a long time ago. I am pleasantly surprised at how many older actresses have done the same. Probably for the same reason.

It’s nearly impossible to maintain another color when your hair is white. The contrast is intense and you would have to keep retouching it every few days to keep from showing white stripes.  White is not a bad color either Highly reflective and interesting. And, should you get the urge to change to some other color in the spectrum, it’s easy when the base color is white.

List at least 5 things that you are good at.

Writing. Taking pictures. Figuring out how to pay bills when we have no money. Thinking really weird thoughts. Writing the weird thoughts down, then blogging them. Because no one has enough weird ideas of their own. They need mine, too!

What is your favorite animal or type of animal? (pets, dolphins, stuffed, wild cats, etc)

I’m pretty fond of dogs, but I also love horses, cats, birds and ferrets. If it’s friendly and furry, I probably like it.

Which doesn’t mean I want to have them in the house. I think we have enough life here already.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  

The news made me howl. It has gotten so ridiculous, I can choose to laugh or I can spend my life ranting and raging about it. Laughter is better for one’s soul and a lot easier on the people around you!

MY FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPHS – 2017

And what a year it has been! Terrifying politics and weird weather. Dogs and new dogs and a summer that wouldn’t end … plus an autumn that never quite began. Now, it’s New Year’s Eve! This is it. The end and a beginning.

I don’t believe it is already 2018!

Month by month, this was the year that was.

JANUARY


FEBRUARY


MARCH


APRIL


MAY


JUNE


JULY


AUGUST


SEPTEMBER


OCTOBER


NOVEMBER


DECEMBER


I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017

THE CHANGING SEASONS – DECEMBER 2017 AND THE YEAR COMES TO AN END

I didn’t do a lot of shooting this month. Almost all of the little I did was taken indoors. Lots of dogs and Christmas trees.

We had a little bit of snow at the beginning of the month and a tiny bit more here and there, but mostly, it has been cold and dry. It is supposed to snow tomorrow or the day after, but not soon enough for photography this month.


Su Leslie has mentioned that she is willing to run this challenge next year, so if you feel like joining in, make sure to follow her blog where this challenge will continue to live on without Max (Cardinal Guzman) as host. He has done a brilliant job and I have very much enjoyed the challenge from year to year. Thanks, Max! Please check out his beautiful photography on his site.


Almost all of these were shot today — a few earlier in the month. I hope to see all of you next year. Have a great holiday season and may winter not be too cruel to any of you.

Photo: Garry Armstrong
Marilyn on Main Street – Photo: Garry Armstrong

TheChangingSeasons_6367

THE BEST OF THE MONTHS OF 2017

And what a year it has been! Terrifying politics and weird weather. Dogs and new dogs and a summer that wouldn’t end … plus an autumn that never quite began. Now, here we are. December, the last month of the year. Christmas is just days away and you know I haven’t wrapped anything. This may be the year I skip the wrapping and just hand them out!

Okay, I’ll try to do better than that.

Month by month, this was the year that was.

JANUARY


FEBRUARY


MARCH


APRIL


MAY


JUNE


JULY


AUGUST


SEPTEMBER


OCTOBER


NOVEMBER


DECEMBER


I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017