Two years ago, I order 30 pairs of socks in all different colors and patterns. I realized, finally, that I was down to a bare two or three pairs and I wasn’t even sure they were real pairs, but they were at least more or less the same color.

Around the same time, I also bought a lot of underwear on the theory that we wouldn’t have to do laundry nearly as often if I didn’t run out of underwear. Oh, and I refilled Garry’s sock and underwear collection too.

socks without partners cartoon

Yesterday, Garry did laundry. My 30 pairs of socks have shrunk to about half a dozen pairs. I swear to you not only am I careful to keep pairs together, but Garry is passionate about matching them up. And keeping them clean.

Which isn’t always easy because I wear them as slippers and have been known to go outside in socks … not always my best choice.


Nonetheless, I realized no matter how much I didn’t want to face the crisis, I had to buy more socks. I found socks on Amazon — 12 pairs for $14.00 and they are all exactly the same. Because I know. We all know.

Socks vanish. No matter how careful you are. No matter how hard you try to keep track of them, over time, attrition will chew at the edges until you have no more than a few days worth of socks in your drawer. You will search that drawer.


“Who took my socks?” you cry, but no answer will come to you. They are gone through the black hole in the universe (via your clothes dryer) into which all the single socks are eventually drawn. The mythical land or planet where a single sock can live forever. They are looking down on us and laughing. Because we persist in looking for them. Foolish humans.


Garry, despite my assurances that there is nothing more he can do, that socks will go missing regardless, is sure I’m accusing him of sock-knapping. He does not yet understand. There is nothing anyone can do. There are greater forces at work here than mere humans can control.

So this time, I’m ordering 12 identical pairs. As each sock disappears, I can wear it with another lonely sock. Variety is not the spice of life when discussing socks.

HOME AND HUSBAND – Marilyn Armstrong

I really haven’t been getting out there to take pictures. Between Garry’s surgery and the intensely hot, steamy weather, it just hasn’t been all that inviting outside.

Four orchids, still blooming

But, yesterday, because Owen had just hacked down the insanely overgrown forsythia hedge that had fully intertwined with strangleweed and wild grape vines, it was an almost respectable yard.

Still blooming after all these weeks

And then, there was Garry. I was determined to take a picture of him where he didn’t look like he was half asleep.

August woods are the darkest green of the year

Today, when we got to the doctor’s office — 15 minutes early — we were sitting on the steps waiting for them to get back from lunch and I realized Garry looked better than yesterday, so I took a few (three is a few, right?) pictures.

A bright day with temperature nearly 100 (that’s about 38 for you metric folks). Note the missing hedge. You can see the fence!

So this is our life, for the moment. The garden has gone to weeds now that the daylilies are dead. Not to worry because I have a ton more pictures of them, as well as the roses.

Today, Garry heard from our own doctor that he’s doing really well. Now, all he has to do is start to feel well. This is often harder than it seems, especially when medically, you’re doing fine, but all your body wants to do is go back for a very long nap. But his blood pressure is perfectly normal, healing is fine. All the magnets, wires, coils are perfectly placed and he has more hearing in what was thought to be the “dead” ear than anyone thought.

It takes time to feel as good as they (your doctors) say you should feel. Been there. But you get there. It merely takes more time than you think it should. We all want to be “fine” immediately. It doesn’t usually work that way.

I’m sure I took more shots of the orchids which are, remarkably, still blooming happily in their pot by the French doors.

Old wooden lawn chairs in the shade

Life in the hazy, hot, and humid northeast.


I just finished washing the dinner dishes in cold water. I always thought having hot water was a luxury and getting stuff clean was as easy with cold as hot water. I am here to tell you it’s not a luxury. It’s much harder to wash anything without hot water. But we don’t have any hot water. Until Wednesday, we are hot-water free. Today, the hot water heater blew up. It wasn’t old. We replaced it not long ago — a few years — and it was supposed to be a super-duper fancy one which would last for twenty years. I don’t think it survived for five. It did last exactly long enough to be past its warranty date.

Why is that the way it always is?

This is not my first house. I owned two in New York. Two in Israel. This is my third in Massachusetts. And of course, I grew up in an old house that was under constant renovation from the day we moved into it when I was four, until I moved out at age seventeen.

We did quite a lot of work on this house when we moved in. We put in drains, a sump, a pump. We replaced the roof, added vinyl siding. We’ve replaced all the toilets and sinks. All the floors. Front door and back door. The well … and the well-pump twice.

All the toilets and sinks need replacing again and we could use a new bathroom.

This all reminds me I have  finally beat the depression that stalked me most of my life. With all of this stuff going on, I’m not depressed. I’m upset. Worried. Frustrated and bummed. But not depressed. That’s a major change from my younger years. Although I have to say that a sufficient amount of worry can be surprisingly similar to depression. 

Why does everything happen at the same time? Is there some kind of law about this?

My theory is that all houses are money pits. Something always needs doing. When you don’t have resources, you wait. Hope by the time whatever it is goes critical, you’ll be in better shape. Time passes and you know you must do whatever was at the top of the list — in our case, the front door.  The water heater was not on the list because we replaced it a few years ago. Surprise!

But mostly, you knew something would happen. Problems accumulate. When you don’t have money, you wait and hope a day comes when you will be able to manage it. As far as that goes, we are better off than we were five years ago and a lot better off than ten years ago. But the difference is not very large. There’s busted and not quite busted.

Garry, who never owned a house before, is freaked. I, who have owned houses, am bummed and wondering how we will do this stuff. It’s not like we have a choice, either. We need hot water. Oh to have real incomes so we could just take out a loan and be able to pay it back.

I feel kind of stunned, probably because Garry had — just a few minutes ago — asked me the fatal question.

“So … what else is going to happen”?

The hot water heater popped.

Never ask that question. It’s right up at the top of things you should never think, much less say aloud. Akin to “what could possibly go wrong?” This is an evil question that is guaranteed to bring down the wrath of the household gods.



Photo: Garry Armstrong

During the last two weeks, since summer decided it was time to arrive, everything which had been in arrested development has grown with insane enthusiasm. Roses by the bucketful and more lilies than I’ve seen in my entire life. The jewel weeds, my favorite hardy and hideous weeds had pushed up to more than six-feet-tall. I wouldn’t mind if they weren’t so godawful ugly, but they really are. How they got the name “jewel weed” I can’t imagine. Maybe it is a form of ironic humor?

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

My son was supposed to come by with the electric clippers, but it didn’t happen. Yesterday, I realized I could not walk out my front gate. The way was locked by the twined thorny branches of the roses and our holly bush. Both had grown from tiny bushes to the size of a small buildings. During the past couple of weeks, they burst into growth and my path disappeared. I was trapped. Well, not entirely. There are other doors, but that’s the easiest way in and out of the house and has the fewest steps.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

I called Owen.

“I can no longer leave my home,” I said. “The roses and the holly have trapped me. Any chance of you coming and slicing me a passageway?” I had been thinking about the thorns which grew around Snow White’s tower. It always sounded so fanciful, how the prince could not make his way through the thorny bushes. I was in the process of retracting that entire line of thought.

Owen said, “Oh, right, sorry. I forgot.” He promised to bring the clippers next time. Which would be Wednesday.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Garry brought home flowers for me this afternoon. Red, white, and blue chrysanthemums. “For The Day,” he explained. I needed to cut them down to fit in the vase, so I took out my hand clippers and snipped them off. Much easier than using the overworked kitchen shears. I stood there, looking at the hand shears and thought “Screw it. I want my front walk back!”

Out I went, hand clippers and work gloves and the apron in which I can keep stuff (don’t laugh, they are very useful). Working my way from the door down the path, clipping as I went. Down went several monumental jewel weeds. I left them where they fell. The dogs really don’t care. At the gate, I started cutting before I even left the yard. I kept cutting. Anything that poked at me, I cut. Anything across the path, down it went. I finally gave in and cut down three large branches of roses that were heavily in bloom. I hate doing that, but if I didn’t, they would only get bigger and rougher. New sprouts would grow from them. I even had to cut down a few lilies, which broke my heart.

And down went a lot of the twining weeds and more giant jewel weeds. When I was finally done cutting, I realized I still had to rake the pile and move it off the path. It would hardly improve my mobility if I had a pile of thorny dying branches filling the walk.

I did it and it’s good or at least, better. I’m still feeling bad about having to cut off the roses, but I couldn’t see any other choice.

The prince can come now because once more, there is a path to the castle.

Flower of the Day – July 5, 2017 – Lily


The sun is shining and today is door shopping day!

It was pouring last night, but they promised a sunny day today and for once, they delivered. It’s bright and beautiful out there and in a few minutes, my son and I are hitting the road, hopefully to order a door for the house. I haven’t entirely worked out how I’ll pay for it, but since I absolutely need it, there’s no choice but to get a door.

Choices are:

Wood — No way! I don’t care how fancy it is or how much it costs. Wood rots fast in this climate and it would need replacing in just a couple of years.

Fiberglass — If affordable, they are strong, look for all practical purposes like wood and do not rot.  (Note: Not affordable! Not even close!)

Steel — Steel are now designed to look just like any other door, though they do not imitate wood to the degree that Fiberglass will. You can paint it, but you can’t stain it. Cheaper than Fiberglass. Much cheaper than wood. Very sturdy, but might rust or dent. Still, it’s significantly cheaper than Fiberglass and will probably be our best bet. The styles look just like any other door with sidelights. I am NOT sure how you put a doggy door in a steel door. That’s a bit worrisome.

This is it! Bought it. Delivery in a couple of weeks!

I like simple doors. A lot of them come with really fancy glass, but this is not a fancy house and all that etched glass and other designs would look (I think) out-of-place.

Now, I have to figure out what color I want. Would green clash? Some kind of blue with white trim?


A paper is just a paper unless everyone abides by it. 

Yesterday, I had arranged for Shawn Perry (Clear Vision Construction) to fix our front door. He wasn’t doing the work himself, but sent two guys to do it. The quality of the work is possibly the worst I’ve ever seen. I don’t believe (or at least, I don’t want to believe) that he has actually seen this atrocity personally, but he says “his guys sent him pictures and it looks OK to him.”

So. Here is a set of photographs. This is less than 24 hours after the work was deemed “finished” and complete. I called him one more time to tell him this was his last opportunity to come over, look at it, and do the right thing. He would not take my call. I left a message which said: “I’ve given you every chance to do right by me, but you have refused to even take a look at the job. Be it on your own head from this point on.”

The name: Clear Vision Construction, Owner: Shawn Perry. Maybe find a different guy.

Maybe Shawn is capable — but this is work done by his company and it is not merely unprofessional. It isn’t even amateur. It is horrendous. His workmen, his responsibility. It’s a pity he refused to make an attempt come back and do it properly. A shame. IF you insist on hiring this company, be VERY sure you have every detail of the job written clearly and accurately. His “words” are empty. I’ve had work done in my home many times over the years. I have NEVER seen anything this atrocious.

You can write the paper and sign the paper. But in the end, the other party has to live up to his part of the deal. I’m sure there’s a clever way to say this, but I’m not into “clever me” mode at the moment. Maybe tomorrow.


No meddling, please!

Yesterday was “front door day” and it got done. Not properly, in my opinion. Better, but not really fixed. They are coming back tomorrow because they want more work and unless they do this job right, they won’t get it.

It looks better than it is! But the new doggy door — identical to the previous one, I might add — looks good.

Meanwhile, today is a doctor and shopping day. Tomorrow, Bonnie’s at the vet getting her eye and teeth cared for … and after that, the guys come back to deal with the rest of the door and Garry and I go back to cleaning up more areas where those damned ants may be hiding. It’s just one of those weeks.

I was trying to catch that last “good hour” of sleep when the vet called to remind me of tomorrow’s appointment. We got a great invitation to go into Boston and spend some time aboard one of the tall ships moored in Boston’s Harbor, except the day is already all wrapped up in doctor and cleaning. If they had sent the invitation a couple of days earlier, we might have done it. Of course, maybe have sent it a week ago, but Garry doesn’t check his mail as thoroughly as he should.

We may not have flowers, but “stuff” is getting done. I suppose I’ll have to mark this summer off to “work accomplished” without the pretty wrapping paper. We definitely not going visiting because all our money is going into the house. No meddling here, uh-uh.

And tomorrow is this regions first full day of summer! Imagine that!