WASHING, SANDING, BUT THE PAINT CAN WON’T OPEN – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Prompt


I had a really bad case of asthma last night and finding a position in which to sleep left me a bit tired this morning. But having finally convinced my lungs to breathe rather than wheeze, I got up and decided I’d better make a head start on what I — for some obscure reason — had volunteered to do. It was a small enough job and I figured I should “Be useful.”

Paint the parts of the door that were “left over” after we installed the most recent door handle.

It looks just like the old door handle, but unlike the old one, isn’t broken. Not exactly the same size, either. It is a wee bit smaller, though it is otherwise very similar. It certainly works a lot better than the older one ever did, even when it was new. My job was to wash the door, sand the area to be painted, then paint. It went pretty well until I realized I could get the top of the paint can open. I’m not the powerhouse I was in my youth.

I had swept the door area clean a few days ago, but since then about 8 million new insects had moved back into the crevices. Mostly spiders, but also some weird-looking puffy things and other crawlies.

I’m not very fond of crawlies, but I have learned to cope with them when I have no other choice. Garry joined the party, which was nice because he has a couple of inches on me, but between the two of us, we couldn’t do the top of the door. We are too short.

We did the best we could with brooms and dust mops, but it didn’t get washed. Everything else, we washed at least twice and if we’d done it three times more, I’m pretty sure it would still be dirty.

It’s amazing how filthy a front door can get. If we had a hose in the front of the house, I could have hosed it down once in a while, but we don’t. It’s one of the broken things that hasn’t gotten fixed and may never get fixed. I have begun to accept the truth: not everything gets fixed. Not now, not eventually. Some stuff just stays broken because it’s too expensive to fix, or it’s just not up at the top of your broken-thing prompt list. We got some stuff done — even got the gutters cleared, more or less. But the chimney is still very much in need of pointing and the deck has been waiting more than a decade for some Thompsons’ water repellent.

We are in a race to see which crumbles first: us or the house.

The amount needing to be done greatly exceeds our finances or physical strength by a magnitude of at least 10.

Every now and again, we play the lottery. Not often, just when I feel I need 24 hours to dream of wealth beyond imagining. I don’t want much. Just enough money to get a house that is more suitable for us. Without stairs. Easy maintenance floors. Modern heating and cooling. Not so many trees. Not nearly as many trees. And a driveway that can’t double as the bunny slope for a small ski resort.

I also got back the results of my blood tests. I tried to read through them, I had to look up each result on Google. At first, it looked like I was a goner. But you don’t read each result. You sort of have to look at the entire picture and when I got through doping out each level — the highs and the lows — I figured out why in the end, he told me to get Vitamin D3  and take two every other day.

I’m a little bit anemic and I have the kind of vitamin deficiencies people who don’t have a normal stomach tend to get. Then there’s the spine, heart, arthritis,  fibromyalgia, and asthma. What the report really said is “She’s one tough old bird. Give her vitamins.”

And I’ve been taking my vitamins and remarkably, I’m beginning to feel a little better. It turns out that anemia makes you really tired.

I always want medical reports to say “Do this, do that and you’ll be young again.” They never say that. They never suggest that you’ll be younger, thinner, or springier in your step.

But I’m alive enough and there are plenty of reasons I might not be. Strong enough — with help — to wash that door!

Now it’ll wait a few more days to get it done. It is beautiful outside.

On the next beautiful day, for sure.

SHARING THE WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

Welcome to Share Your World for the week of October 15th!   This week’s questions include some food, some whimsy, something opinion-based and one, just because.

Share Your World  10-15-18 Questions:


What’s the biggest screw up in the kitchen that you were responsible for?

So many, I can’t even begin to list them. Before I learned to really cook, the number of inedible meals I produced makes me shutter.

Now seriously, does anyone have just ONE kitchen disaster? Aren’t there at the very least, a series of them until either (a) you get it together with the cooking thing, or (b) you realized you will never get it together and go entirely to frozen things you can cook in the mini-oven or microwave?

Gingerbread

My mother moved to “If you are that hungry, cook it yourself,” and considering her cooking, we made it ourselves. Even when we were kids, it was better to do it ourselves. She was a truly appalling cook.

What, in your opinion, makes people believe absurd conspiracy theories?

Too many hours of watching Fox News. And being Republican.

In 40 years what will people be nostalgic for?

An earth to live on.

Is a hot dog a sandwich? 

Meat between bread? Why not? I think these days, they call it a “roll” because it’s in a bun.

What wonderful thing happened to you this week that you’d like to share?  It can be a gratitude moment or something that just made you feel very happy at the time or made you laugh.

It was not a laughing sort of week. Sorry.

SHELTER FROM THE STORM – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Shelter


That’s kind of how I think of my house, these days. The roof doesn’t leak and the basement doesn’t flood. The heating system still works and I have a functional kitchen.

I even have some flowers in my wild garden.

I know it’s not going to be my personal mansion and I do not set forth from it thinking of it as the backstage area to the forestage of Life. This place is pretty much all of life and we could be doing a whole lot worse.

Today, it’s where we live, where we sleep and eat, and where we try endlessly to keep it from falling down faster than we can shore it up.

We have some lottery tickets. I could look them up, see if we got rich and I don’t know it yet. But when asked these days what we’d do with the money, I think ” A simple, bright house without steps and cleaning people to come in once a week and do the basic stuff.

And a cook.

I really want that cook!

SHARING MY WORLD THIS WEEK – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 10-8-18

The Questions This Week: 

Do you prefer Apple (‘I’ products) or Android for your technology ‘fix’?   

I work primarily on a PC. I like the organization and I also appreciate the huge amounts of functional software I can get for it. I have an android (Samsung) phone which I use when I need it (not often) and three Kindles (probably more like five — a think a couple are just buried somewhere) which I use to read and listen to audio books and sometimes, to watch a movie. Mostly to read or listen.

I also have an “air” Mac. I bought it so I’d have something a bit less weighty to haul with me when I travel. I don’t do much with it, at least in part because finding decent graphics applications has turned out to be much harder than it should be. I won’t “rent” Photoshop and my disks won’t run on a Mac. I got a program for it, but haven’t gotten around to installing it and I’m sure I’ll be sorry about that in due course.

As for music? I have a CD/radio player because we have quite a few CDs. We also have a lot of DVDs and we watch them, too. I’m not a wild fan of “the cloud.” I can’t tell you how many times having something downloaded has made it possible to listen or watch or read — without cable being involved. It’s very freeing.

I like having parts of my life NOT connected to wi-fi. I’ve worked with computers enough to know what they are good for … and what they are not good for and I certainly don’t want one running my entire life!

What’s something on your personal bucket list? 

Don’t have a bucket list.

What would you name your boat if you had one?   The Unsinkable 3? The Please Don’t Sink? Your choice! Also, what would it look like? Do you want a motor yacht, a sailboat, or perhaps a dinghy?

I had a boat. A 16-foot centerboard sailboat built originally to race but used by us mostly to drift through channels on Long Island’s south shore.

We named it “Gwaihir,” the Wind Lord (eagle) from Lord of the Rings. Kind of a big name for such a small boat 😀

Which fictional character would be the most boring to meet in real life? 

Anyone from a Jane Austen novel. I am not a fan.

What brought gratitude, a smile or laughter to your life this week?

Getting out to take photographs on the only sunny day of the week AND discovering that Garry can hear!

HIGH ENTERTAINMENT AND LANGUAGE LESSONS – Marilyn Armstrong

Learning (or, in my case, trying to learn) another language was high entertainment.

In English, I rarely if ever used a word the wrong way. I was a serious reader very young and had a big passive vocabulary. By passive, I mean I knew a lot of words but had never used them in conversation. I knew what they meant and how to spell them, but not how they sounded.

I had no idea that Too-son and Tucson were one place. Or that ep-ee-TOME was epitome. I remember those two examples because of the hilarity they caused the adults in the area. I was all of 8, but adults were not all that nice to kids. They still aren’t, if I think about it.

language school

I was even more entertaining in Israel. I am sure that my fumbling attempts to learn the language, having caused hysterical laughter, probably played a part in my never properly learning Hebrew. I was so embarrassed by my errors, it didn’t seem worth it, especially since everyone knew at least a little English.

My first big discovery — during my first week in the country — was that Zion (Zy-on) means penis. In Hebrew, it’s tzee-own. So if you say that Israel is the Land of Zion using your good American pronunciation, you will reduce Israelis within earshot to tears of laughter.

They can be a rough crowd.

To add another layer of problems over the difficulty in just getting the words out through my teeth which were clearly not designed for all those gutturals, many words in Hebrew are very much like one another, yet have hugely different meanings. Sha-ah is an hour. Shan-nah is a year. So there you are saying “My Hebrew isn’t all that good, I’ve only been here for two hours.”

After a while, I mostly spoke English and used Hebrew words as needed when I could find no English equivalent. Eventually, I got to a point where almost everyone could be expected to understand most of what I said. Without laughing at me. But not happily. My accent made their ears hurt.

You might consider this when you meet immigrants who are trying to learn English. I mention this only because, having been on the other side of this experience, a bit of kindness to people trying to work through a difficult life transition while learning a new language and culture can go a long way to make them feel less lonely, threatened, excluded, and generally miserable.

Just a thought.

I’D RATHER BE A JUDGE THAN A MINER: BEYOND THE FRINGE – Marilyn Armstrong

We now, after almost 350 years of nationhood, have a president who thinks mining — coal mining — is a good idea and a fine way to make a living. Oddly enough, someone else had this idea years ago.

It was hilarious — and stupid — then. It is no less stupid and hilarious now.

BEYOND THE FRINGE – Peter Cook
Why I’d Rather Be A Judge Than A Miner


I think it might really be funnier now than it was in 1964.

HOW A FORTUNE TELLER RUINED MY GRANDFATHER’S LIFE – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My father was a scientist and a very rational man. He didn’t believe in religion or have any superstitions, except one. He told me to never, ever go to a fortune-teller. He had a logical reason. HIS father had told him an eerie story about HIS experience with a fortune-teller, which had haunted him throughout his life.

My grandfather, on a lark, when he still lived in Russia, went to a gypsy fortune-teller in a nearby gypsy camp. He was given a long, detailed story about his future life. Most of the story seemed outrageous, if not impossible at the time. He forgot about the incident. Until, to his dismay, the predictions started to come true, one at a time. I don’t remember all the details but here are a few.

The gypsy told my grandfather that he would serve in the army. At the time in Russia, only first-born sons were conscripted into the army. My grandfather was the third son, so this would never happen. Except that his oldest brother shot off his toes to avoid military service. Then the second oldest brother died suddenly and young. So it fell to my grandfather to take up arms. Just like the gypsy told him. What are the odds?

My father’s father

Next, the gypsy told my grandfather that he would take a long journey involving a boat. He had no intention of ever leaving Russia. Until he couldn’t make a good living as a tailor when he finished his military service. Then he decided to come to America – a very long journey, part of it by sea.

The personal details the gypsy told him were the creepiest part of the story. The gypsy told him that he would marry a young woman who would bear him seven children, including a set of twins, but only two of the children would survive. Believe it or not, my grandmother had exactly seven pregnancies, including a set of twins. The oldest and the youngest, my Dad, were the only ones to survive infancy.

By now my grandfather was freaking out! The next prediction by the gypsy was that his wife would die young and leave him to take care of two children on his own. She died of tuberculosis when my Dad was three. The gypsy said that my grandfather would struggle for a few years but would eventually marry a strong woman who would be a good mother to his children. This happened exactly as predicted. His children, aged three and eleven, were latch-key kids until he met his second wife who, my father always said, ‘rescued’ them.

The rest of my grandfather’s life also played out pretty much as the gypsy had told him. He started making a good living. (He was the first to bring the pleated skirt to America). He lived comfortably until his death as an old man for the day – he was in his 70’s.

The story doesn’t end there. My father understood his father’s aversion to clairvoyants. But as a young man, he fell madly in love with a woman who was ‘beyond his reach’. He was a poor, Jewish medical student and she was a proper WASP who wanted a comfortable and respectable life. He was not in a position to give this to her.

My Dad as a young man

My Dad was so smitten, that he took a year off from medical school to pursue the woman full-time! During this period, he came across a fortune-teller. He couldn’t resist finding out if he would ‘get the girl’ in the end. The gypsy told him that the woman would never marry him. She said that the woman would string him along but eventually would marry a man from Chicago who was ‘like a locomotive’. Dad remembers this phrase because it was an unusual way to describe someone.

As predicted, again, despite a long courtship, his paramour eventually sent him a letter breaking off the relationship. She said that she had found a well established, well-off man and was moving to Chicago to marry him. She described him as strong and commanding, ‘like a locomotive!’

Unbelievable! My father had no rational explanation for any of this.

Neither do I.