OSTENTATION – Marilyn Armstrong

WHO’S OSTENTATIOUS?

FOWCYou must be talking about someone else. We live in an old house, drive an old (yet somehow, not fully paid for) car. We wear ratty clothing (it’s really because of the dogs — nice clothing would just get covered by hair, so what’s the point?). We live in a town where you couldn’t buy a luxury item for love or money. No one sells luxury items unless you count the lumber yard or Walmart as luxury purveyors.

You know what’s really weird? I have never had any interest in impressing the world with my goods. I occasionally envy someone’s location. They live in a particularly beautiful place or near an ocean … but of all my sins, envy isn’t one of them. I come from a family where comparing things you bought is not about how much you spent, but how much you saved. As in: “I got this $400 suit for $25 on the super clearance rack!”

That’s bragging. Telling people you paid the full price for any item? Why would that impress anyone?

It’s probably why we aren’t rich. To become wealthy, you have to care about money and we’ve simply never cared enough. These days, though, I wish we’d cared a little more.

PUPPY LOVE – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I had forgotten how cute puppies are. Or how much work they are. Then my brother-in-law came to visit with his 12-week old Catahoula Leopard Dog, named Houla. She is one of the most beautiful dogs I’ve ever seen!

Houla

Before she came, Tom and I worried about how our two dogs, ages two and eight, would get along with the puppy. At first, our guys didn’t know how to react to this 17-pound ball of energy. Lexi, the eight-year-old, is usually overly aggressive with other dogs. But she played nicely and gently with Houla. Remy, the two-year-old, is usually great with other dogs. But she just barked in the puppy’s face non-stop. Total role reversal.

Then they switched back and started acting true to character. That first day involved snarling and growling and lots of human intervention to avoid a trip to the vet. But there was no bloodshed and the drama was relatively low-keyed.

Then something wonderful happened The three dogs negotiated a working agreement. Or rather, a play agreement. Suddenly the dogs were all playing together 24/7. Happy as clams. They chased each other and rolled around on the floor together. They climbed all over each other. All the time barking, yipping, and yelping with doggie glee.

Of course, the puppy still managed to find time to get into our stuff. There she goes running down the hall with a Time Magazine in her mouth! There goes one of Tom’s shoes! A wine cork is a fun chew toy to throw in the air and catch!

By evening everyone was exhausted, especially the humans. Thank God the dogs were too. After a good post-dinner romp, all three dogs found a comfy place to crash and they all passed out!

One night, Tom and his brother slept on the boat so I was home alone with the dogs. Houla slept on the bed with me and my dogs. Peace reigned until I got up to feed them at 6 AM. After eating, Houla was wired and kept running around the bed. This drove Lexi crazy and she wouldn’t stop barking at Houla. So I was up off and on for hours until Houla finally went back to sleep.

The next night, Houla slept with us till the 6 AM feeding and then I took her back to my brother-in-law’s room. She cuddled with him and slept till it was time to get up.

It’s been funny to see how three adults can barely hold their own in the face of an energetic, happy puppy. Every conversation attempt was punctuated with “Houla NO! NO!” We kept hearing suspicious sounds that had to be investigated. There goes an empty plastic bottle or a plastic bag. (Why do dogs love plastic bags? They can’t taste good). There goes a CD case whizzing by!

These few days have been SO much fun! We have all been smiling and laughing so much our faces hurt! I am SOOO sad to see this puppy depart! The house will be quiet and boring. But I think the puppy is wonderful for my brother-in-law, who lives alone in the middle of nowhere. She gives him companionship and something to do with his days as a retiree.

This visit has confirmed for me my love of all dogs. And my great appreciation for having two in my life who enrich my days and warm my heart.

LITERALLY AS OPPOSED TO FIGURATIVELY – Marilyn Armstrong

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Literally. Not figuratively. Because figuratively means “related to or analogous to” but it doesn’t mean “factually the same.”

This is one of those frequently used terms that’s often misunderstood. Literally has nothing to do with literature. I’m sure the “lit” part comes from some Greek or Latin root word but is not a literal interpretation of the expression “literally.” Figuratively speaking.

Speaking literally means that what you are saying is true. It’s not an analogy or something that’s similar to something else. If you say “That is literally what happened” you are saying this is not an exaggeration or some other kind of relationship to the whatever it was.

It’s what happened. Really. No kidding. It’s the news. Maybe it’s the news roundup. It is true.

Remember true? Literally is true, just like I said it.

GUMPTION – Marilyn Armstrong

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GETTING THE GUMPTION TO GET UP AND AT ‘EM!

I have to admit, these days, it takes a certain amount of good ole’ gumption to get myself out of bed at all. It has been a frantic month and I can count on a frantic couple of months to come. I’m feeling the stress.

Finally, after relaxing enough to enjoy retirement, I feel like I’m back on a treadmill. I suppose I should feel good about it because it will have — I believe — good results and make our world a better place. Nonetheless, it has been a rough road. I’ve worked hard at unknotting the stress mess I’d become by the time I quit work and realized I wasn’t going to do it anymore. Now, it’s back.

Gumption is a great word and one you don’t hear much anymore. I remember when it was quite common, but our language has turned into a kind of internet shorthand and all the gorgeous, rich words seem to be disappearing. “LOL” and “OMG” and the like will never give us the feeling or wealth our previous language allowed.

These days, it’s had to have the gumption to just get on with it and survive. From a relatively peaceful world — which had its problems, mind you — we have been tossed willy-nilly into a nightmare world where everything we believed before makes no sense.

As I said: It takes a fair bit of gumption to just get up in the morning and face the day.

Does anyone think it is going to get easier? Yesterday, they actually locked up Manafort. I think that was the first thing all week that made me feel almost good.

World? Throw me a few crumbs! I need hope to keep on keeping on!

IN ALL CANDOR – Marilyn Armstrong

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In all candor, you can trust me!

There are some things that as soon as someone says it, you just know you should make sure you still have your wallet.

Anyone who looks you in the eyes and says “Trust me,” you should absolutely not trust him or her.

Anyone who starts a sentence with “In all candor,” is lying.

Other lookout words?

“Honestly,” and “I wouldn’t lie to you.” I’m sure that somewhere in that pack there are people who you can trust and who isn’t lying, but mostly, all of them ARE lying and you should not trust them. Not anyone. These days, given the state of things, probably you should be very careful about trusting yourself, much less the rest of the world.

In all candor, you’ll simply have to trust me on this one!

TO MOM ON YOUR 101st BIRTHDAY

Today is “Flag Day” throughout much of the world.  Here, it is much more. It’s my Mom’s birthday.

Happy Flag Day, America

Esther Letticia Holder Armstrong left us 11 years ago. But for me and my family, she’s very much alive in spirit and 101 years young. They were singing “You’re A Grand Old Flag” and “Over There” when Mom was born on that June 14th in 1917.  Mom’s father,  my grandfather,  was over there. He was a sailor in the Danish Navy during World War 1.

Gramps, a Barbados native, saw plenty of action as he would tell us many times in the years to come.

Esther Holder, as Aunts and Uncles would gleefully tell me, was a feisty child and teenager.  “Smart as a whip,” friends said about Mom. She graduated near the top of her Julia Richmond High School class of 1935.  My Mother once described herself to me as a “Jazz baby,” showing off pictures of herself as a young woman who liked to dance. I’m not sure how that resonated with some of the older folks in the family but none of them lived in a glass house – if you get my drift.

I guess Mom left a trail of broken hearts when she and my dad, William Benfield Armstrong, married in 1941.  It was one of the biggest social events of the year. However, modesty aside,  the glittering affair was just the warm up to my début on the world stage in April of 1942.  A star was born —  at least that’s how I’d see it in my private fantasies which Mom frequently punctured.

Mom was a single parent during my early years because Dad was away — in the Army – seeing some of the heaviest action of World War 2 in France and Germany as a Sargeant in the still-segregated armed forces.

We looked like a Hollywood family when Dad finally came home from the war. At least that’s what I thought. Mom was beautiful and Dad was such a handsome guy.

Over the years, my Mother was “the voice” of our family. She clearly set the parameters for right and wrong, good and bad for my two younger brothers and me. I tested her many times, especially as I got older and became a “man” in my immature mind.  I always lost those confrontations.

Mom was tough! She was also tender, in her own way. She encouraged me to read and write.  She actually read my first attempts at fiction and assured me I had talent. She told me I should pursue my dreams.

We weren’t big on outward displays of affection,  something that I would have to deal with in later years. However,  Mom always found quality time for me. She knew I had a huge passion for movies.  We’d go to the movies, 3 times a week.  I was “Mom’s date.” She would explain who the people on the big screen were.

They were Gable, Tracy, Hepburn, Cooper,  Grant and all the others who reigned over my fantasies through my many years of loving Hollywood.  Mom said she named me after her favorite star,  Gary Cooper.  There was a mixup in recording the birth certificate and Gary became Garry.

There would be frequent mixups later when I became a news guy on television. Actually, there are still frequent mixups. Some things never change.

I’m not sure my Mother was excited about my career choice.  She always said I should become a doctor, lawyer, or minister.  She agreed I talked well.  What she really said was,  “Garry,  you have a big mouth!”  I’d smirk when she said that.  The smirk usually quickly disappeared she gave me “the look.” Mom also thought I was too good for the women I dated. I think she left that impression with many of those women in my life. I got lots of feedback about it.

I remember Mom and Dad celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.  I saw a look in their eyes I hadn’t seen too often.  The look of love.

Dementia took hold of Mom in her last few years. Dad had passed away.  Mom was alone with my middle brother Billy in the old family home on Long Island. Anton,  my youngest Brother, was busy with his blooming career as director of the St. Olaf Choir in Minnesota. I was the married, busy TV news guy up in Boston.  Family get-togethers were difficult.

In what would be her last coherent afternoon with me,  My Mom floored me when she admonished me to be a good husband, to find quality time with Marilyn, to show affection and not stonewall Marilyn with internalized emotions. Mom held my face close with her hands like I was that stupid teenager. She smiled with patience and compassion, counseling me to “… be good to your Wife … you are lucky to have her. Show her you appreciate her, that you love her.”

I’m still trying Mom.  I’m not there yet.

In the meantime,  Happy, Happy Birthday.  Mom.  You’re the best!

WE HAVE TO APOLOGIZE TO CANADA – BY TOM CURLEY

I’ve given up trying to make sense out of anything anymore. After over a year living in the waking nightmare that is our current government, I thought nothing could surprise me anymore.

Do I know what SCROTUS is going to do tomorrow? What he’s going to do in the next hour? Hell no. I gave up on trying to figure that out a long time ago. You can’t figure out what a crazy person is going to do. That’s what makes them crazy.

Our cheese-headed-so-called president has pissed off a lot of people. 60 to 75 percent of Americans. Pretty much all of Mexico. His new US Ambassador to Germany pissed them off so much his first day on the job they’re threatening to throw him out. For the last year, there’s been constant talk about rage fatigue. We can’t keep up this level of anger.

I’m not worried about that. No matter how mad you get at what he did today, I guarantee you he’ll come up with something tomorrow that will shoot your blood pressure right back up to 11.

But last week, the idiot-in-chief did something unbelievable. Even for him.

He pissed off Canada.

Think about that for a second. HE PISSED OFF CANADA!

I didn’t know that was possible! I mean, we’re talking about Canada! The country whose worst stereotype is that they’re all incredibly polite and they apologize for everything. Hell, they apologize for apologizing!

CANADIAN: Hey, sorry about that, eh?

AMERICAN: You didn’t do anything wrong. You don’t have to apologize.

CANADIAN: Oh, I see, sorry.

This moron goes to the G7 summit, called the G6 + 1 by all the other members. And insults everyone. He then threatens them with more tariffs if they don’t do everything he tells them to do.

His excuse for doing this to Canada, Europe, and Japan?  Our allies? An obscure rule in the trade agreement that says the President can impose tariffs on a country if it’s a “threat to our national security.”

Not surprisingly, everybody, especially Canada went “WTF!! We’re a threat to your national security?? We fought with you in two World Wars for Christ’s sake!”

What was his reply? “Well, didn’t you guys burn down the White House?” referring to the burning of the White House during the War of 1812. Which is when the British burned down the White House. When Canada wasn’t even a country!  Then, he leaves the summit early, in a huff. After he left, Justin Trudeau gave a press conference where he basically told the US president to go fuck himself.

He did it in the most polite way possible. He said, “I know we have a reputation for being polite, but we won’t be pushed around.”

He didn’t apologize for the statement! The media and the world were shocked. If we translate what he said into American it would be something like this. “WTF! You want to start a trade war with us!? FUCK YOU, you Goddamn moron! You think you can fuck with us? Oh, hell no! Oh, and sorry about the foul language.”

There’s a great picture that Angela Merkel released. It sums up the whole meeting. It looks like it should be a Rockwell painting.

You need to go to your room and think about what you did!

I’ve realized that we Americans have to stand up, take responsibility and do something about this. We have to apologize to Canada.  We need to start a movement. Use Twitter, Facebook, email, Instagram. I don’t care.

Each of us needs to say “Canada. I’m sorry. We all know this guy’s a fucking moron. He’s embarrassing all of us. Our bad.”

If you don’t have a social media account, just send Canada an “I’m sorry” greeting card. You can find them in any drug store.

The majority of us didn’t vote for the asshole

And while we’re at it, we also need to apologize to France, England, Germany, Italy, and Japan. Who am I kidding? Except for China, Russia and now, North Korea, we have to apologize to everyone.

We are sorry, World.

We’re working on fixing this next November.