WHAT A SHOCK! – Marilyn Armstrong

You think you know someone. You hang out with them, exchange emails, jokes, and anecdotes. Maybe you even work with them. Then, one day, out of the blue, you discover they are fundamentalist Christians who believe you are going to Hell or are a hard-core right-wing Trumpist, conspiracy theorist, or believer in the upcoming zombie apocalypse.

I lived in Jerusalem for almost 9 years. You meet a lot of people who are sure they are Jesus Christ come back to finish his work on Earth. One of them worked at the local pizza joint and seemed perfectly normal, until in the middle of a casual conversation, he would drop a bomb about his mission and there you were, transported to wacko central.

I had a casual friend who was a piano player. He sang and played at fancy hotel lounges, like the Hilton Hotel lounge. He was, like me, an American, so it was inevitable we would meet. We struck up a little chatty relationship. One night, he called and invited me over. He had something important to tell me.

Important? Our relationship consisted of reminiscing about life in the U.S. in the 1960s — and I’d done his horoscope. I was (coincidentally) the astrology columnist and managing editor of a short-lived English-language weekly. Please, let’s not discuss astrology or my psychic abilities (or lack thereof). You don’t want to know and I don’t want to tell you.

Having nothing better to do at the time, I walked over to his house (just around the corner) and we got to talking. Suddenly, I knew. He was going to tell me one of two things: he was an alien and came from on another planet or galaxy … or … he was Jesus Christ.

edward-gorey-donald-imagined-thingsIt was the latter. Another Jesus. He wanted me, because of my brilliant psychic abilities, to be Paul and spread the word. I worked very hard to tell him that his timing was off and I would be sure to advise him when the right moment arrived. Then I fled into the night and home. He was one of several people who convinced me there was no future for me in the psychically predictive arts.

Then there was the guy I worked with at one or another of the many high-tech companies at which I was employed who one day informed me of his intention to quit his job and move to an underground bunker in anticipation of the coming apocalypse. I hadn’t even done his horoscope.

Not surprisingly, a series of these unwelcome surprises has made more than slightly wary of prospective friends. I’m afraid of what will be revealed as we get to know each other better.

The thing about people who believe in cabals, believe they were dropped from an alien spacecraft (or will be leaving on one shortly), are certain that God has assigned them a mission … ? You can’t argue with them.

You can’t point out the incongruities and contradictions of their beliefs. They believe what they believe and that’s that. There’s no point in offering facts. They will ignore all evidence that goes against their world-view.

These folks make me nervous. What happens when they (inevitably) decide I am one of their (many) enemies?

ALMOST A ONE-WOMAN BAND – Marilyn Armstrong

I bought another tin whistle. I bought one in the key of C yesterday and bought one in the key of D today, probably because all the “learner’s” books are written for key of D whistles. I also bought a very small electric piano designed for a child because I can’t tune anything electronically.

I need to hear the sound.

Electronic tuners are silent. They find the right pitch, but they don’t make the entire instrument come together as a whole. That requires an ear. Preferably two. The chords have to sound right.

I often forget how many years I spent studying music because it was a long time ago and my hands can’t do what they used to do which was play the piano. Yes I still want music. Not just to listen to it but to make music. I can’t help it.

I thought I might “conquer” the ukulele, but there’s really nothing to conquer and honestly, if you don’t sing, there’s not a lot of fun in a uke. It’s all strumming. It wants people sitting around and singing — in or out of key — about wild mountains in Scotland or Ireland. Or West Virginia.

I’ve never seriously played a woodwind of any kind, except for a couple of years of flute in college. I wasn’t very good at it, but I wasn’t trying very hard either. I didn’t know how to play without a keyboard or maybe I didn’t want to play without a keyboard. Maybe both. It’s why I now spend so much time staring lovingly at Xylophones and Marimbas. Searching for the lost Vibraphone that should have been there. The only instruments I could afford I didn’t want. I wanted the $4000 Marimba. What a magnificent instrument that was.

If you can play a piano, you can ultimately also play a glockenspiel, xylophone, marimba, or vibraphone. The keyboard is the same. You have to do a little adapting, but you don’t have to strain your arthritic hands the same way.

The little tiny ones had YouTube footage and the treble clanging gave me an instant migraine. I do not think there is a real, wooden (the one I loved was made of rosewood) xylophone in my future and certainly not a marimba. Aside from being around the price of a small grand piano, where would I put it? Nonetheless, I can yearn.

This is all because I studied music as a child and as a young adult and even as Owen was growing up. He can still hum most of Chopin’s Mazurkas and a lot of Scott Joplin which was what I was playing when he was a little one. I thought he was sleeping, but it turned out, he was also listening.

Right now, he is having an instrument made for me by a friend of his who makes instruments. He is making me a cigar-box three-string non-electric guitar. I have no idea how one plays a three-string cigar-box guitar, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

There are books to study cigar-box guitars

I had to buy the cigar box and since I knew it was going to become the body of a guitar, I carefully picked one that was made of spruce — one of the woods that has a good ring to it. Just so you know, real cigar boxes are all made of cardboard these days.

So I bought a cigar-sized box and when it arrived, I pinged it and it sounded good. Soon, it will be an instrument. With frets and strings and tuning machines (not pegs — never got good at tuning with pegs). I have no idea what mine will look like. It’s a secret, but I’m ready.

If nothing else, isolation is making me creative in some very strange ways.

By the time I get my guitar, I may already be an expert playing a tin whistle. I could be the whole band if only I had a few more hands.

A LITTLE WORLD-SHARING – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 6-29-2020


Questions:

Must we have evidence to know the truth?

I do. How about you?

How much control does a person have over their life?

As much as fate allows. Depending on how rough your road happens to be. It depends on whether or not you have talents that are useful in the game of life. It doesn’t hurt to suffer an excess of good health, either.

What is gravity and how does it work?

Gravity is what happens to your body parts while you age. You see, the ground pulls at you all the time. This is to keep you from flying off into space. But it pulls at everything else too. Breasts, butt, jowls, arms and more love the earth and want to move there. We buy things devices to prop them up or we go to surgeons to revive them, but I think I’m in favor of lying on the ground and not moving until someone makes me.

Can a person be happy if they have never experienced sadness?  How about vice versa?Don’t be silly. We know when we are happy and we know when we are sad. Even newborn babies know this and they have no experience at all.

“I AM SAMOAN!” DECLARES GARRY ARMSTRONG

I’m Samoan. You may not believe it, but a whole bevy of racists in the 1970s believed it and it has become an inside joke in local media  — or at least the retired members of local media.

Maybe you’ve heard it before and then again, maybe not. Back in the early ’70s, Boston was grappling with court ordered school desegregation and forced busing. It was an ugly time for race relations in The Hub of the Universe.

“The cradle of liberty” was under an international media microscope. Not pretty.

I was out covering the story and to my credit, everyone hated me. Black, white, politicians — everyone thought I was on the other side. I was proud of that. It meant (to me) I was on the right side.

One day, there was an incident in South Boston — also known as “Southie,” where all the action was taking place. A bunch of white thugs had cornered me and my crew. They were screaming the usual epithets, throwing rocks and bottles. They were on the move, coming in to give the hated, lying media a serious tune-up.

At that moment, I had what I call “A Mel Brooks Moment.” An veritable epiphany. The angry mob quieted as I raised my hand for silence. I spoke calmly, in my best (and most popular) soothing voice.


“Hey, I’m not a nig**r. I’m Samoan!”  


My crew looked at me dubiously. Surely, no one could be that stupid. Besides, I had that infamous ironic smile on my face. The angry mob was still quiet and obviously confused. So I repeated it again, slowly and louder, so the crowd could read my lips.


“Hey, I’m not a nig**r. I’m Samoan!”  


A brief pause and then … the crowd cheered. “He’s not a nig__r. He’s Samoan!!”  

They approached with broad smiles, offering handshakes. We got the hell out of there and pretty much ran for the truck. Yes, they were that stupid.  To this day, many colleagues call me “The Samoan.”

Now, that was real news!!

“DOUBLE TROUBLE” By GRETCHEN ARCHER

Every mystery written by Gretchen Archer has been complex with multiple subplots and complication upon complication building to a crashing yet happy ending. In this novel, the complications are so intricate you have to read carefully to pick up the clues.

Many authors write convoluted stories with the inevitable corpse showing up where a dead body is most unlikely. When it gets too labyrinthine, ye olde “Deus Ex Machina” drops by to fix everything.

Ms. Archer doesn’t have a Deus Ex Machina. If Davis found her way into the disaster, she will claw her way out. For every knot, she finds a way to unknot it before the book concludes.

This story begins with the Bird lady who runs the Lost & Found department. She is old. No one is sure how old, but very would be a good guess. She is forgetful. She has a unique way of doing things and that being said, no one knows exactly how she does whatever she does. Her entries use a unique shorthand. Birdie has her own coding system.

Gretchen with granddaughter during COVID-19 pandemic

Her codes and shorthand made letting her go a bit scary. Who’d figure out what was going on unless Birdie explained it — if she could explain it? She didn’t hear well or remember much. No one entirely understood her and she didn’t seem to fully understand herself.

There has been a massive rebuilding of the Belissimo Casino and Resort since it was nearly destroyed by Category Four Hurricane Kevin.

Davis Way is no longer in charge. She is a part-time employee. A quarter-time employee or even less. She adores her children but misses her work. She was warned to let Birdie go before something went terribly wrong, but Davis hadn’t quite gotten to it. Firing a very old woman from the only job she ever had isn’t easy. She intends to take care of it, but it’s been waiting in the wings.

Then, calamity happens. Just like everyone said it would.

Five-million dollars that never should have arrived at the Casino go missing. Birdie might have the money (probably not).  It might be one of the people Birdie worked with who Davis had not been allowed to vet. Or a third unknown party.

Bradley’s away on business and Davis hasn’t told him what’s happening. Moreover, she can’t find a babysitter that she desperately needs. This is why her mother arrived accompanied by Bea (her former mother-in-law) who definitely should not be there.

Also arriving are many baby tomato plants doused with dangerous fertilizer and the smell from hell. Davis hadn’t wanted to tell Bradley what was going on, positive she could handle it in just a few hours (NOT). Bianca won’t talk to her and …

Where are the $5 million dollars? What does the money have to do with the wedding cake? Who is taking care of Birdie’s cat? Who stole the Mercedes? Did I mention all those Elvis impersonators?

“Double Trouble” is the most complex Davis Way caper ever. You’ll need your best mystery-solving abilities to find your way to the end. It’s an exciting ride with never a dull moment! But if you know Gretchen Archer’s work, you’ll know that somehow, despite the madness, it will be resolved … and hopefully, all will be forgiven.

On a personal note, I wish that Gretchen would stop keeping everything to herself and tell Bradley the truth. Upfront rather than after the disaster. I always find myself muttering, “Good grief, just TELL him already!” But of course, if she did, there wouldn’t be a story to tell.

Other reviews of previous Davis Way Capers:

A SWITCH OF REALITIES – BY TOM CURLEY

Marilyn asked me to dig this one up from the archives. It took me a while to find it. It was written quite a while ago. If I didn’t tell you this you would swear it was brand new. Unless you don’t swear. But really, who doesn’t swear? At least once in a while. There was my Aunt Helen, no wait. She could cuss like sailor …

Sorry, I got distracted.

I think if we suggested this now, everybody would go along with it. Including the idiot-in-chief. It’s the “get out of the White House without going to jail card”  he’s been looking for. The “get out of this insane reality card” we’ve all been waiting for.


I figured it out!

The solution!

To reality!

This reality!

This reality TV reality!


The problem is not so much that we are living in a reality TV reality. The problem is that we’re living in a REALLY BAD reality TV reality. Face it, it’s just not working folks.

youtube.com

Do you know what does work? Fictional TV reality! Think about it. There’s a show on TV today called “Designated Survivor.” In it, the whole U.S. government is blown up during a State of the Union Address.  The Executive Branch, the Congress, the Supreme Court, all gone. The one cabinet member that has to stay home becomes the President. He has to rebuild the entire government from the ground up. And while he’s doing that, there’s a mysterious cabal,  the ones responsible  for blowing everybody up, that’s also trying to take over the country. In spite of all that, their government and their President are doing a hell of a lot better job than ours!

tvguide.com

So here’s what we do.  Let’s just switch realities! It’s a win-win for everybody. How do we do this? Simple.

First: The current administration leaves the government and instead, goes on real TV 24 hours a day. On Fox News. They all go to work on sets that look just like Washington, D.C.  They do the exact same things they do now. It will be just like on  “Big Brother”. Only bigger. And on Fox News.

quickmeme.com

They can pass laws, write executive orders, cancel health insurance for the whole nation, cut taxes for billionaires, eliminate “Meals On Wheels” or just kick puppies. Whatever they want! And here’s the best part. Trump supporters won’t be upset because they only watch Fox News. As far as they’ll be concerned, everything is normal.

It just isn’t real.

“And it’s only on Fox.”

Second: OK, great you say. But what about real reality? Who’s going to be the real President? The real cabinet?

Here’s who. Real honest to God fictional ones.

thegeektwins.com

And the cool part is, we have a lot of options. We have lots of choices for President. We could have Jeb Bartlett. He was a great President. Don’t believe me? Watch “The West Wing.” It’s on Netflix, the whole series, all seven seasons.

theoddessyonline.com

We’ve got Dennis Haysbert. I’m pretty sure he was President twice.

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We’ve got Morgan Freeman. Not only was he President, but he was also God!

knowyourmeme.com

And the list goes on. Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline, Jack Nicholson, Peter Sellers … (Oh, for God’s sake, Google the rest.) You get my point.

Now, appointing a cabinet becomes fun!

Secretary of State? How about Tia Leoni? She’s already Secretary of State and seems to be doing a pretty decent job of it. Every Sunday. Let’s give her the job for the rest of the week.

cbs.com

Attorney General? Julianna Margulies. She’s a lawyer, ran for State’s Attorney and by almost all accounts, is a good wife.

cbs.com

Secretary of Defense? Well I admit, at first, I was leaning toward Schwarzenegger or Stallone. Then it hit me.

CHUCK NORRIS! Think about it. We could cut the military budget down to nothing. Nobody’s going to go to war with us. Nobody fucks with Chuck Norris!

memegenerator.com


ISIS COMMANDER: We will destroy America!

ISIS GUY WATCHING THE NEWS: Sir, America just made Chuck Norris Secretary of Defense.

ISIS COMMANDER:  Shit.


(Insert favorite Chuck Norris joke here. My favorite? Chuck Norris once counted to infinity. Twice.)

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Department of Education? The cast of Sesame Street.

themarysue.com

Depart of Health and Human Services? Pick any of the stern but kindly Chiefs of Staff from the medical show of your choice. Any one of them will do just fine. (Except for Dr. Zorba. I’m pretty sure he’s dead.) (Extra points if you get that reference.)

humansofjudiasm.com

Department of Housing? Chris Rock. OK, he really doesn’t have any more qualifications for the job than Ben Carson does. But I just like the guy. He’s funny.

memegenerator.net

(If you get that reference, you get double extra points.) I could go on, but you get the point.

How do we do this? Simple. We have an election. Not the usual kind. Between voter suppression, low turnouts, gerrymandering, and the Electoral College, our elections are not working out well.  I mean, seriously — that’s how we got into this mess to begin with.

So what do we do? We have an election the same way reality TV shows do it. Everybody gets to vote from their smartphone, their computer, their tablet, or Android device. You can email or text your vote. You are only allowed to vote up to 20 times on any given device. You can vote up until 10 pm Eastern Standard Time. (Text and messaging fees may apply.)

ethnews.com

Granted, this will fire up the Millennials and confuse the hell out of old folks. Maybe it’s unfair, but it’s still better than the Electoral College. We can set up March Madness style brackets and have an election every week for maybe a month until we get a winner. More office pools!

yankeeinexile.wordpress.com

And we, the people, elect everybody. The President doesn’t get to appoint his cabinet. We do.


It’s Democracy at work!

And it could work!


As a cheese-faced person who somehow actually became President of the United States said to a bunch of totally incredulous Black people a while back:

theoddeseyonline


“Give it a try. What have you got to lose?”


SHARING MY WORLD – JUNE 2020 – Marilyn Armstrong

SHARING MY WORLD

Questions:

How comfortable are you speaking in front of large groups of people?

Garry receiving his Broadcasting Hall of Fame award – September 2013

As it happens, I was a broadcast/public speaking major (after being a music major and before becoming a philosophy major) and I’m a pretty good public speaker if I’m talking to live people, not a camera. I need to see people’s faces. I don’t do well if it’s all cameras.

What would be the best thing you could reasonably expect to find in a cave?

A flush toilet.

What did you think was going to be amazing but turned out to be horrible?

So I sent my best friend some new shampoo and conditioner because the iron in her water is doing some serious damage. It’s a small package and you would think that Amazon could at least get THIS ONE right, but nope. To be precise, the post office did the final screw up, but it was such a simple thing.. Just sending a small gift to a friend. Instead, it wound up an INCIDENT. Another INCIDENT. The whole point of ordering online is to simplify life, not make it more complicated!

What’s the silliest thing you’ve observed someone get upset about? 

Nothing. I’ve seen people get really upset about nothing at all and when you finally calm them down and ask them what the problem was, they do not know.

Please feel free to share something that gave you an uplifted spirit during this past week.  

I think I got a refinance on a really bad loan I signed. I’ll know for sure in a couple of days, but if it works out — and it should — it will give us enough money to fix some of the stuff that needs repair.

“DOUBLE TROUBLE” IS NOW AVAILABLE! AUDIBLE, KINDLE, AND PAPERBACK! GRETCHEN ARCHER

“DOUBLE TROUBLE” DUE FOR RELEASE JUNE 9!

Every mystery written by Gretchen Archer has been complex with multiple subplots and complication upon complication building to a crashing yet happy ending. In this novel, the complications are so intricate you have to read carefully to pick up the clues.

Many authors write convoluted stories with the inevitable corpse showing up where a dead body is most unlikely. When it gets too labyrinthine, ye olde “Deus Ex Machina” drops by to fix everything.

Ms. Archer doesn’t have a Deus Ex Machina. If Davis found her way into the disaster, she will claw her way out. For every knot, she finds a way to unknot it before the book concludes.

This story begins with the Bird lady who runs the Lost & Found department. She is old. No one is sure how old, but very would be a good guess. She is forgetful. She has a unique way of doing things and that being said, no one knows exactly how she does whatever she does. Her entries use a unique shorthand. Birdie has her own coding system.

Gretchen with granddaughter during COVID-19 pandemic

Her codes and shorthand made letting her go a bit scary. Who’d figure out what was going on unless Birdie explained it — if she could explain it? She didn’t hear well or remember much. No one entirely understood her and she didn’t seem to fully understand herself.

There has been a massive rebuilding of the Belissimo Casino and Resort since it was nearly destroyed by Category Four Hurricane Kevin.

Davis Way is no longer in charge. She is a part-time employee. A quarter-time employee or even less. She adores her children but misses her work. She was warned to let Birdie go before something went terribly wrong, but Davis hadn’t quite gotten to it. Firing a very old woman from the only job she ever had isn’t easy. She intends to take care of it, but it’s been waiting in the wings.

Then, calamity happens. Just like everyone said it would.

Five-million dollars that never should have arrived at the Casino go missing. Birdie might have the money (probably not).  It might be one of the people Birdie worked with who Davis had not been allowed to vet. Or a third unknown party.

Bradley’s away on business and Davis hasn’t told him what’s happening. Moreover, she can’t find a babysitter that she desperately needs. This is why her mother arrived accompanied by Bea (her former mother-in-law) who definitely should not be there.

Also arriving are many baby tomato plants doused with dangerous fertilizer and the smell from hell. Davis hadn’t wanted to tell Bradley what was going on, positive she could handle it in just a few hours (NOT). Bianca won’t talk to her and …

Where are the $5 million dollars? What does the money have to do with the wedding cake? Who is taking care of Birdie’s cat? Who stole the Mercedes? Did I mention all those Elvis impersonators?

“Double Trouble” is the most complex Davis Way caper ever. You’ll need your best mystery-solving abilities to find your way to the end. It’s an exciting ride with never a dull moment! But if you know Gretchen Archer’s work, you’ll know that somehow, despite the madness, it will be resolved … and hopefully, all will be forgiven.

On a personal note, I wish that Gretchen would stop keeping everything to herself and tell Bradley the truth. Upfront rather than after the disaster. I always find myself muttering, “Good grief, just TELL him already!” But of course, if she did, there wouldn’t be a story to tell.

Other reviews of previous Davis Way Capers:

SHARE YOUR WORLD FROM LAST WEEK (WHICH I MISSED) ‘CAUSE THIS WEEK DIDN’T COME UP – MARILYN ARMSTRONG

SHARING MY WORLD – A WEEK LATE BUT I HAVE AN EXCUSE!

Is it ever okay to commit a crime?  Please explain.

I have been known to speed and park semi-legally. I’ve never intentionally done anything worse than drive too fast and wonder if I put the car too close to the “no parking” sign. I have no idea if I’m even capable of doing anything worse. It doesn’t mean I haven’t behaved badly, but it wasn’t illegal, just not very nice.

So, essentially, not really. Not counting smoking dope before it was legal, that is.

Do you deal with change well?  (not money, because I know some wit out there is thinking how bulky coins are. Well, I did anyhow.  O_o  )  

I used to deal with change well especially because the kind of work I did usually required a new job about every year and a half. I’d write the book and there wasn’t enough other work to keep paying me full time.

The older I get, though, the harder I find it making major changes in life. A lot of change, for example, involves either spending money or moving. I have no money and have trouble moving. Overall? I think I’m pretty much in what could be called a “normal” place which (I suspect) is where most people end up.

Do you like birds?   The sound of bird song in the morning, taking pictures of them, as food? 

Do I like birds? Are you serious? Sheesh. I do worry about whether or not they like ME! After all the food they get from me, you’d think they’d let me out on the deck so I could stop taking pictures of them through the glass door!

 What’s the least used item of clothing you own?

My really heavy overcoat. This is because our winters aren’t as cold as they used to be and when they ARE that cold, I stay in my warm, dry house! No more snow fortresses for this senior!

SHAREYOURWORLDSTARHANDS

PRIVILEGED IN THE PARK – GARRY ARMSTRONG

It was really a lovely day. Cool, bright, not humid. The car, after these months of sitting under the trees which, these days, are covered with the remnants left by Marilyn’s birds. Our Renegade was not looking her best. And, there were a lot of medications waiting at the pharmacy.

We had gotten up early because Marilyn thought we had a doctor’s appointment, but it turned out to be next Tuesday. Since I was up already, I bravely ventured out. Mailed a long-delayed letter. Picked up medications, got the car washed, bought Marilyn a bouquet of white roses, then went down to River Bend.

I found a great spot for photographs, an old Andy Griffith, Mayberry scene. And there was a mom and her two little kids playing in the river. I was also wearing both mask and gloves with my USMC T-shirt and an NCIS vest (bought directly from the CBS online shop).  I guess I didn’t look dangerous enough to call the cops.

I asked permission to take pictures of her and the kids. Eventually, I asked why none of them were wearing masks. She told me, “Thanks for asking permission for pictures. Yes, you can take them. As for no masks and gloves, I think the media is blowing this out of proportion. The President knows what he is talking about.”


Long pause from me. “Hey, ” she said, “You look familiar. Didn’t you used to be on TV? Oh, don’t tell me. I know! I grew up watching you on TV. You have a nice day, now.”

I also guess no one told her about the literally thousands of snapping turtle who live in that area of the river. That’s why you aren’t allowed to swim in it or even dangle your feet off the dock. They like to munch on toes and fingers and have the jaws to for it.


Her 5-year-old is in preschool. The 4-year-old is in nursery school. And mom watches Fox News. You can’t save them all.

“DOUBLE TROUBLE” AT THE BELISSIMO! BY GRETCHEN ARCHER

“DOUBLE TROUBLE” DUE FOR RELEASE JUNE 9!

Every mystery written by Gretchen Archer has been complex with multiple subplots and complication upon complication building to a crashing yet happy ending. In this novel, the complications are so intricate you have to read carefully to pick up the clues.

Many authors write convoluted stories with the inevitable corpse showing up where a dead body is most unlikely. When it gets too labyrinthine, ye olde “Deus Ex Machina” drops by to fix everything.

Ms. Archer doesn’t have a Deus Ex Machina. If Davis found her way into the disaster, she will claw her way out. For every knot, she finds a way to unknot it before the book concludes.

This story begins with the Bird lady who runs the Lost & Found department. She is old. No one is sure how old, but very would be a good guess. She is forgetful. She has a unique way of doing things and that being said, no one knows exactly how she does whatever she does. Her entries use a unique shorthand. Birdie has her own coding system.

Gretchen with granddaughter during COVID-19 pandemic

Her codes and shorthand made letting her go a bit scary. Who’d figure out what was going on unless Birdie explained it — if she could explain it? She didn’t hear well or remember much. No one entirely understood her and she didn’t seem to fully understand herself.

There has been a massive rebuilding of the Belissimo Casino and Resort since it was nearly destroyed by Category Four Hurricane Kevin.

Davis Way is no longer in charge. She is a part-time employee. A quarter-time employee or even less. She adores her children but misses her work. She was warned to let Birdie go before something went terribly wrong, but Davis hadn’t quite gotten to it. Firing a very old woman from the only job she ever had isn’t easy. She intends to take care of it, but it’s been waiting in the wings.

Then, calamity happens. Just like everyone said it would.

Five-million dollars that never should have arrived at the Casino go missing. Birdie might have the money (probably not).  It might be one of the people Birdie worked with who Davis had not been allowed to vet. Or a third unknown party.

Bradley’s away on business and Davis hasn’t told him what’s happening. Moreover, she can’t find a babysitter that she desperately needs. This is why her mother arrived accompanied by Bea (her former mother-in-law) who definitely should not be there.

Also arriving are many baby tomato plants doused with dangerous fertilizer and the smell from hell. Davis hadn’t wanted to tell Bradley what was going on, positive she could handle it in just a few hours (NOT). Bianca won’t talk to her and …

Where are the $5 million dollars? What does the money have to do with the wedding cake? Who is taking care of Birdie’s cat? Who stole the Mercedes? Did I mention all those Elvis impersonators?

“Double Trouble” is the most complex Davis Way caper ever. You’ll need your best mystery-solving abilities to find your way to the end. It’s an exciting ride with never a dull moment! But if you know Gretchen Archer’s work, you’ll know that somehow, despite the madness, it will be resolved … and hopefully, all will be forgiven.

On a personal note, I wish that Gretchen would stop keeping everything to herself and tell Bradley the truth. Upfront rather than after the disaster. I always find myself muttering, “Good grief, just TELL him already!” But of course, if she did, there wouldn’t be a story to tell.

Other reviews of previous Davis Way Capers:

HOT ONES AND COLD ONES – Marilyn Armstrong

A couple of years ago, I discovered my most popular post was black & white pictures of implements in my kitchen. Also well-favored were cute pictures of Bonnie and a 300-word piece on why I’d like to be called “Spike.”

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You can read my MOST popular ever piece here and try to figure out why for yourself.

Also, about once per year, other than my faithful friends, I have a whole new group of followers and a piece I’ve revived is new to them. Even I don’t remember everything I’ve written. It’s not that each item isn’t good, but they aren’t all that much better of different than the other 10,690 posts I’ve written.

The “biggest post” has gleaned more than 10,000 hits. It’s a complete puzzle since it’s not topical, not especially well researched or passionate. If you can figure out why everyone wants to read about why my blood type is B+. I’d like to know.

What do these posts have in common? Let’s analyze them a bit. The pictures are good, but this isn’t the first time I’ve published them. On previous occasions, no one found them particularly remarkable. I’m sure this means something, but what?

Coming home at sunset

Cute pictures of Bonnie? Well, you can’t argue with cute pet pictures, now can you? I mean … who doesn’t like kittens and puppies and adorable animals in general?

Finally, everyone has a name and everyone wishes it was something else. Now there’s a revelation.

Why are these three most popular posts more popular than other better pieces? What do they have in common, other than having been written and photographed by me? I can’t see anything special in any of them. Well, maybe the swan.

I have no idea. I can publish the same piece three times under slightly different names. It will be ignored twice, but be almost viral the third time.

My most popular photograph. It’s a good picture, but is it the best?

There’s no accounting for taste. Also, no accounting for when people feel like reading and the other times when no one bothers to read anything and my stats fall through the floor. To keep myself from getting crazy, I have stopped trying to figure it out.

I take pictures of what I see in a world grown much smaller in recent months. This piece may get a great response or fall flat. If something does poorly, I run it again later. Often, it’s a big hit on a different day because … well … who knows? Full moon? Wind from the north?

Do you know? I don’t know. I don’t think anyone really knows. We just do what we love and hope the rest will follow.

ALMOST INTERVIEWING JIMMY STEWART – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Full disclosure upfront. I never met Jimmy Stewart. No interviews. No emails. No phone conversations. But I’ve got Jimmy Stewart in my brain, maybe because Stewart is TCM’s “Star of the month.” They’ve been airing most of the legendary star’s films from the ’30s through the ’80s. There was a masterful Stewart profile hosted by Stewart’s good friend, Johnny Carson. He made it feel like two buddies reminiscing about the best years of their lives.

Stewart, (center) with Amos on his right, and the B-52 crew moments after safely landing at Andersen. Before leaving Guam the next morning, Stewart again thanked Amos for his professionalism during the emergency and presented him with signed prints for each of the crewmen. (Courtesy Bob Amos)

The other night might have been my first (Yes!) viewing of 1954’s “The Glenn Miller Story.” Somehow, “The Miller Story” escaped me during those years when I went to the movies 3 or more times a week. I absolutely enjoyed the warmth and nostalgia of the movie in a way I rarely feel about contemporary films. I’ve been steadily humming “Moonlight Serenade” for the last two or three days.

Jimmy Stewart is stuck in my mind. I’m doing an interview with him — but it never really occurred. I’ve been digging through my mental folders and files for why I feel this link to Stewart. I’m aware of all his unforgettable film performances, from “Mr. Smith” to “Wonderful Life” to “Harvey.” And all those rugged 1950s and 1960s westerns — including “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”

I couldn’t find that link.  It’s more than just the fan and movie maven thing going on.  What was it?

It hit me as I was cleaning my hearing aids. The answer!

During the late 1980s — maybe 1988 or 1989 — during Ronald Reagan’s second term in the White House, life was changing for me. Marilyn was back in my life after spending almost a decade in Israel. And I finally was able to wear the new, smaller hearing aids that are nearly invisible to onlookers.

I was elated!  No more of those ugly, big hearing aids. I was always sure people stared at them while I worked on local TV News. That was when I remembered — a conversation I had with a colleague. She was the station’s entertainment reporter and had noticed me talking to myself as I checked the audio of my tiny new hearing aids with a big smile on my face.

I was in the middle of covering a major trial that was getting international attention. I saw my image on network news shows. No hearing aids were visible. Oh, the vanity! I explained to my colleague what the tiny hearing aids meant to me. How I’d coped with a major hearing loss most of my life and the adjustments I had made to succeed in TV News.  She was genuinely surprised and smiled with an appreciative tap on my shoulder. We’d sat close to each other in the newsroom for months, talked about business and personal things — but I’d never mentioned my hearing loss.

That was also the summer Marilyn and I entertained actress Patricia Neal and legendary photographer Alfred Eisenstadt at our Martha’s Vineyard cottage, a rented place we shared with other TV news friends. Word of our friendship with Neal and Eisenstadt made the rounds in the local entertainment news world. I remember sharing stories with my entertainment reporter colleague. Sometimes name dropping can be a lot of fun … and this was one of those times.

“I met Jimmy Stewart at a Washington, D.C. cocktail party,” my colleague told me one afternoon. She had my complete attention.  “Poor Jimmy. He was struggling with his gigantic hearings aids.”

I listened with fascination. I didn’t know Jimmy Stewart needed hearing aids. It never showed in his movies or TV interviews. I listened closely for details on Stewart’s dilemma.

“Jimmy couldn’t hear what was being said at the party,” my colleague told me, “He kept looking at me awkwardly and fumbled with the conversation.”

I had an epiphany.  Jimmy Stewart fumbled with a conversation because he was trying to absorb and register what people were saying to him. The famous Jimmy Stewart verbal fumble was his way of coping with hearing problems. I probably smiled to myself as my colleague went on with her description of Jimmy Stewart’s cocktail party struggles. Fascination turned to compassion as I imagined myself in Stewart’s place, trying to filter our multiple conversations, loud music, and ambient background noise.

The Stewart story quickly faded out from my mind as I returned to my story and a pressing news deadline.

There was a letter on my desk a few days later. I was running late for the trial and was worried about getting a good seat so I could hear the lawyers and the judge,, so I didn’t get to it that day.

Trials were always a major headache for me. Years earlier, I’d taken my situation to myriad judges, court officers, and lawyers. I wanted everyone to know I was working with this handicap and wanted to be sure I got all their wise words accurately. They appreciated my candor and efforts were made to make sure I could get the information accurately and efficiently.  My best, most sincere face helped my cause. If you’ve heard this from me before, know it was the prologue for my relationship with Jimmy Stewart.

I finally opened the letter a day or two after it arrived. I was immediately suspicious. Phony, threatening, and suggestive letters are common for a TV news reporter. This one wasn’t in thick crayon or illegible ink scrawl, but I was still suspicious.


“Dear Garry,

I hope you don’t mind my assumption of friendship since we’ve never met. I deal with this business of celebrity all the time and it is presumptuous.”


I continued to read with skepticism until I realized this missive was from Jimmy Stewart. He went on to explain his cocktail party hearing problems, his encounter with my colleague who apparently talked about me and my hearing problems. Jimmy Stewart heard about this Garry Armstrong guy who was a success on Boston television news despite hearing problems. I blushed a little as I read Stewart’s account of my bravery. Most of the letter, however, dealt with Stewart’s details about his hearing aids, its components. He wanted my take on the efficiency of these new little hearing aids.

I put the letter in my desk, planning to take it home and show to Marilyn because I wasn’t good at holding on to such possessions in my professional life. My attention turned to the trial and my report for the six o’clock news.

Fast forward several hours, including my ritual, stop at the local bar before heading home — without the letter. Out of sight and mind.

I did manage to write Jimmy Stewart a few days later. I spent most of the letter talking about how I struggled with my hearing and the use of the aids. I must have appeared awfully vain, talking about overcoming my reluctance to wear hearing aids because I thought it was a stigma. My vanity was probably also obvious when I mentioned some of Stewart’s colleagues I’d met in my career.  I was young and lacked humility, telling Stewart about time I’d spent with Katherine Hepburn, Jimmy Cagney, Gregory Peck, and other stars. I forgot to mention the other stars, like Albert DiSalvo, Whitey Bulger, and Tip O’Neil.

In retrospect, I can only wonder what Jimmy Stewart thought as he read this silly, name dropping letter from a young Boston reporter.

Another Stewart letter arrived several days later. No indication of displeasure in my letter. He asked lots of questions about my hearing aids, my interview tact, and how I handled myself in large crowds. There was a hint of getting together when he came east again.

The meeting never occurred. Perhaps that’s why I’m now having these dreams about the sit-down interview that might have been.

Me and Jimmy Stewart. It never happened, but it could have. It almost happened.

ABOUT THAT TOILET PAPER – Marilyn Armstrong

I got really tired of the endless hunt for toilet paper, especially when you find some, they say you can have one roll. We have three toilets, so what do we do? Pass it around?

I managed to get the last known 24-roll package of Charmin on Amazon in March and it was finally delivered sometime in early April. Not only do we have three toilets, we also have three asses. Two guys and me. Owen and I took readily to the “point and shoot” hose type of bidet. Garry took a while longer, but eventually, he liked it too.

You actually feel clean. I have never found that kind of cleanliness with toilet paper. A few people went “EW. TMI!” This made me wonder why it should be more repulsive to hose your butt with clean, cold water rather than smearing the gunk around with paper — not to mention the paper clogs in the pipes.

Did you know that worldwide, the equivalent of almost 270,000 trees is either flushed or dumped in landfills 365 days a year? Roughly 10% of that total is attributable to toilet paper (according to the latest issue of World Watch Magazine). Toilet paper wipes out 27,000 trees a day. If for no better reason, we might consider that in every country around the world, trees are vanishing and we are using them to wipe our asses.

Unless you designed your bathroom to have a separate space for a bidet in its own place — which would require a rather bigger bathroom than most of us have –you can add an adjustable hose. It is very easy to install and I like the hose better. I like to aim it where I want it — and It has other uses, like cleaning the toilet. I’m told it’s marvelous for washing diapers now that cloth diapers have made a comeback. I was actually surprised at the popularity of paper diapers. I used cloth for my kid and paper only when we were traveling.

Hibbent Dual Function 2 Sprayer(Stream/Jet) Handheld Bidet Toilet Shattaf Cloth Diaper Sprayer Kit – Premium Hand Shower for Personal Hygiene Cleaning with No Leaking Attachment – Stainless Steel

That’s what I love about how we save the world. We go back to cloth diapers. Nice. Diapers have a lot of uses and make the best polishing cloths (if you are a polishing kind of person). BUT. We while we aren’t using paper diapers, we cut down 27,000 trees every single day because we think we need to use mounds of paper to smear our butts rather than hosing it down.

We have three of them, one for each potty. I’m not happy with mine, only because turning it on and off is awkward. I like Garry’s much better. It has an easy to use on/off valve and you don’t need to peer behind the toilet to find it.

It’s not that I never use toilet paper. I just use a lot less and I feel a lot cleaner too. I use paper to clean my eyeglasses, clean the sink drain, blow my nose (no tissues either). It’s less expensive, less environmentally damaging in an area with plenty of water, and makes us all feel so clean.