THE DAM IN WINTER: A PHOTO A WEEK CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

THE MUMFORD DAM IN JANUARY:
A PHOTO A WEEK CHALLENGE


A trip to the dentist also means a chance to photograph the dam in the middle of town since the two places are adjacent.

The cold dam at the end of January.

What made this interesting is that I’ve never taken a picture of this area in the winter. All my other shots began in the spring and through the late fall.

Taking advantage of a rare opportunity to take a few pictures in winter.

Gray, foggy afternoon in January

Light snow on our road

MORE OF GARRY’S WORLD IN WHITE – Garry Armstrong

I took a lot of pictures and each day Marilyn processes a few. Then I post them. This is mostly Aldrich Street, down the road from the house — and then, our house. With bushels of snow.

Down by the bar at the end of the road

As Aldrich breaks off from Route 146A

A bench on the Common with snow

Our 1928 Fordson tractor

Looking for work?

Home sweet home with our mailbox and our across the street neighbor’s mailbox

Oh, look! Mail!

Home. With snow.

We’re expected warm weather, rain, very cold weather, a bit of snow, a bit of sleet, more warm weather. These days, a forecast is everything you can think of that isn’t summer in one ten minute narration on television.

And if you wait until the end of the news, they will have revised it. Completely. Isn’t it great that there’s no such thing as climate change?

AMERICANS DON’T PICK COTTON – Marilyn Armstrong

Photography: Garry and Marilyn Armstrong

You really get a feel for rivers when you live in a regional watershed. The Blackstone and its tributaries flow down from the Worcester hills at the northern part of the state.

The Blackstone is not a wide river. Not like the Mississippi or even the Hudson. It’s a relatively narrow river that drops about 900 feet from its beginnings. It does a lot of twisting and turning, making it much more powerful than its size would suggest.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

It concludes its nearly 50-mile run as it flows into the sea down around Newport, Rhode Island. All the dams were built to power factories and mills, which is why every town in the valley is called “mill” something — or has the name of one of the mill owners.

Early greenery along the river in Rhode Island

Uxbridge is unique. We are named after Uxbridge in England. That’s our twin town, though it’s nothing like our Uxbridge. England’s Uxbridge is an affluent suburb of London. We’re not an affluent anything.

Spring by the Mumford Dam – Photo: Garry Armstrong

The problem with the dams is they block the river and make it hard for wildlife to move up and down the river and many people want to get rid of the dams.

Because this region was the “birthplace” of America’s industrial revolution (1788), most of the earth used to build the dams is hazardous. It’s amazing how much pollution we created in the good old days, before the chemical revolution. We made things every bit as poisonous as we do today.

Spring, downtown Uxbridge

So although they would like to release the dams, they can’t. That hazardous dirt would poison the river. The 45 years we’ve spent cleaning up one of the most polluted rivers in the world (as of the 1970s) would be undone. Instantly.

The train doesn’t stop here anymore – Photo: Garry Armstrong

We are — in 2019 — more or less the poor cousin to other towns in New England, but once upon a time, this was the most prosperous area in the country. Uxbridge had a population and stuff like trains, buses, and businesses.

In the early 1900s, mill owners decided they weren’t rich enough. So they moved down south to where cotton grew and where people worked cheap. By the 1920s, they had closed all the factories in New England.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

The south got the mills, the dams, and the pollution. Then, they realized they were rich, but not rich enough, so they said “Screw the USA” and moved the mills to the far east where people were willing to work for pennies, including children as young as four or five.

Suddenly, all the modestly priced cotton sheets we used to buy became expensive. Between moving the mills and fabric factories to another continent, they simultaneously realized it was also cheaper to buy the cotton there, too. Like, from India, Pakistan, Israel, and places in North Africa.

So it was and so it has remained.

Roaring Dam: Photo: Garry Armstrong

It’s why you can’t find decent percale sheets anymore. The cotton they grow overseas is different than the cotton we grew. It’s finer and silkier, but not as strong or crisp.

To finish us off, we then banned immigrants from picking crops. The idea was that Americans would pick cotton once those brown-colored foreigners were gone. Instead, it turned out that no American of any color, race, or creed will pick cotton. The professional pickers are gone and so are the farms where cotton grew.

Bridge over the Blackstone River

Americans will not pick cotton. Not only do we not do the job well, but we refuse to do it at all. Today’s Americans do not pick cotton. Not white, brown, black or any shade in between. We would rather starve.

John Grisham wrote a book about growing up in the south and picking cotton called “The Painted House.” It’s his little autobiography about before he became a lawyer, then an author. It’s enlightening.

Early autumn at Manchaug

David Baldacci has written something along the same lines about his native West Virginia and how it has been completely destroyed, its people uprooted and ruined. These lawyer-writers are interesting guys. They are more than lawyers, more than writers. They are thinkers.

These southern authors come in two varieties: racist and incredibly liberal.

Guess which ones I read?

RADICAL SHMADICAL- Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Not Feeling Radical


I couldn’t think of anything radical except maybe for that day I went in for a light trim to my waist length hair and before I had a chance to say what I wanted, the guy with the scissors had lopped off 10 years of care and love and left me with a chin length “bob.”

Photo: Garry Armstrong

That was really radical and I can’t even begin to tell how seriously pissed off I was. It took years to grow it back and now, I can’t grow it back — it’s too thin, so I keep it around shoulder length. At least I’m not bald. Yet.

Otherwise, it’s Sunday. I need a break. I’m tired, half asleep and the house is pretty cold … and I can’t afford to turn the heat on yet. It’s too soon.

We took photographs yesterday and then I came home and made fish chowder. Then I realized I was going to sit down or fall down … and where was my wrist brace?

So today is a radical day off.

THE FAVORITE … ALL TIME? MAYBE, BUT THE FUTURE LIES AHEAD … Marilyn Armstrong

Favorite and Final – Morning in Peacham, Vermont

Two pictures, both taken on the same morning in Peacham, Vermont.

The mist is heavy in the valley early in the day

More mountains appear as the mist begins to lift with the arrival of the sun

ALONE AND IN SOLITUDE

BEING ALONE

I’m not sure that “alone” and solitude mean the same thing. Technically, they are synonyms but the concept of “alone” implies loneliness while solitude implies a choice to remain without company. Solitude speaks of private time while alone implies the absence of people.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Maybe it’s the choice that makes the difference?


ALONE – adjective & adverb

1. Having no one else present; on one’s own.
“she was alone that evening”
Synonyms: by oneself, on one’s own, all alone, solitary, single, singly, solo, solus.

2. Indicating that something is confined to the specified subject or recipient.
“we agreed to set up such a test for him alone”
Synonyms: only, solely, just.


Photo: Garry Armstrong

One dog alone, guarding us all!


SOLITUDE: noun
1. The state or situation of being alone. “She savored her few hours of freedom and solitude.”
Synonyms: loneliness, solitariness, isolation, seclusion, sequestration, withdrawal, privacy, peace. “She savored her solitude.”

A lonely or uninhabited place.
Plural noun: solitudes
Synonyms: wilderness, rural area, wilds, backwoods.


Garry shooting

Photo: Garry Armstrong –

One blossom

WHICH WAY IN SLUSH, ICE, AND MUD

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – January 12, 2018


It’s fully winter in these parts. The ways are covered in snow and ice and today, with the falling rain, mostly covered in slush and mud. Slush and mud don’t make beautiful pictures … so …

Driving through Whitinsville in winter

Local roads

Downtown Northbridge

Out near Amherst

THE CHANGING SEASONS – JULY 2017

The Changing Seasons: July 2017


It stopped raining for a few days this month and we took advantage of the time, brief as it was, to go take some pictures. Last month, everything was still sparse due to the cold, rainy weather we’ve been having since March.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

As soon as it warmed up at the very end of June, everything that could grow went into hyper-overdrive, producing the must intense, lush flowers and leaves and ferns I’ve ever seen. To make up for the lost weeks of non-spring, we got spring and summer wrapped up on one crazy-ass ball!

The pictures were taken by both of us — Marilyn and Garry Armstrong. Except those taken around the house, they were taken in one of the Blackstone Valley Historic Corridor parks in Uxbridge.


Don’t miss Max “The Cardinal’s” wonderful pictures! Drop by his site and take a look.


The sun has been slipping in and out all morning … maybe there will be more pictures today.

 

TWISTED RIVER IN EARLY SPRING – THURSDAY’S SPECIAL

THURSDAY’S SPECIAL: S-CURVE

Twisted River in March

The banks of the river are an endless series of curves. This is especially prominent in winter, when the water seems black as pitch against the snow along the shore. And yet these were taken in spring. Many inches of snow had already melted and the ice was mostly gone from the river. Not black and white, but definitely monochrome.

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WHAT FOREST?

CAN YOU SEE THE FOREST FOR THE TREES?


As early as the 1500s, “you can’t see the forest for the trees” was in wide enough use that it was published in collections of proverbs and slang. As anyone who has been in a forest knows, it can be easy to fall into the trap of just looking at the individual trees, rather than considering the forest as a whole.


According to the “saying,” it’s really easy to lose the forest while you are looking at a tree.

Is that true? When you look at a tree, do you forget you’re in a forest? Is it that easy to forget the larger picture because you can only see part of it? Do we forget we are in a city because we’re looking at a building? Do we forget we are reading a book because we are looking at one page? At the risk of arguing with a “known fact,” I don’t need to see the whole city to know I’m in one.

Meanwhile, I really do live in a forest. Not an allegorical or metaphorical forest. We have a whole lot of trees covering a substantial amount of terrain. Our house is right on the edge of it. The forest is primarily red oak trees, with some other hardwood and a bare hint of pine. We used to have a walnut tree, but it went down in a hurricane years back.

If you live in a woods, it’s true that you can’t see the whole forest, but it doesn’t mean you don’t know it’s there.

Unless you looking down from a helicopter, you will never see the whole forest, yet I’m sure all of us can deduce, infer, and assume the larger picture. Whether or not you can see it in its entirety changes nothing. You see trees, but your brain believes “forest.” Not seeing the whole picture does not mean you don’t know there is one

Photo: Garry Armstrong

How many trees I can see from my house depends on where I am. From the back deck, I see forest. Fewer trees from the front or side of the house. But what’s the difference between the forest and the trees? Isn’t a forest just a bunch of trees? How many trees do you need before it’s a forest (rather than a bunch of trees)? Is there a definition?

Despite this, I bet you can tell the different between a group of trees and a forest every time, without assistance.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Parts of things embody the spirit of the whole. This is how we understand our world and ourselves. No matter what piece you look at, you retain awareness of its connection to something larger. We are individuals, but part of a family, a company, clan, tribe. Humanity as a whole. Without this fundamental grasp of reality, we could not live in the world.

So how do you know whether you’re looking at a single tree, or standing at the edge of a forest? Look around. If you see a lot more trees, put your money on “forest.” If you see a parking lot and a Walmart sign? Think “mall.” Of course, the Walmart could be at the edge of the forest. but I think you’ll work it out.

NATURAL FRAMES AND PERSPECTIVE

FRAME | THE WEEKLY WORDPRESS PHOTO CHALLENGE


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I learned to take pictures by copying other photographers work, especially the landscapes of Martha’s Vineyard by Alfred Eisenstadt.

72-Closeup-Dam-Mumford-MA-082516_006One of the first things I noticed is that he invariably had something in the foreground as well as a strong diagonal leading into the frame.

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And he used natural formations of trees and rocks to frame it.

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I do the same or, at least, try. Probably not quite a well as the master, but I aim high, even if I don’t always hit the target.

I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

DAY TWO – THE SEVEN DAY NATURE CHALLENGE

I feel honored to be chosen by Cee Neuner  to participate in the Seven Day Nature Challenge.

I am supposed to post a photo per day for seven days. The subject can be anything from the natural world. Each day I will try to nominate a new participant.  I’ll do the best I can with that, but if you would like to participate … especially if you are a nature photographer … please, contact me. I prefer to not draft people without asking first.

I have thousands of photographs, about 90% landscapes and other natural subjects. Autumn, the Blackstone River, water fowl, Arizona, and sunrises are all favorite subjects. This has encouraged me to go back into my files and process pictures that I’ve never worked with.

THE SUPERSTITION MOUNTAINS

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I took these photographs on one wonderful, long day in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona. It was mid January with the sun high in the sky. The Superstitions (locally called “the Supes”) are impressive and forbidding. Beautiful to look at and a joy to photograph.

This final photograph has the distinction of being unprocessed except for a bit of cropping. It looked exactly like this, except maybe better.

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We took thousands of pictures in Arizona. I haven’t gotten to processing more than a quarter of them. I tried to limit myself to one picture today, but I failed. Sorry!

Cee and I are acquainted with most of the same groups of photo bloggers and pretty much anyone I can think to nominate has already been nominated. If by some quirk of luck, you have been overlooked, PLEASE participate. Consider yourself nominated and chosen! Especially if these are the kind of pictures you usually post, it’s no stretch to just post them as part of the challenge. Come one, come all!

DAY ONE – THE SEVEN DAY NATURE CHALLENGE

I am honored to be chosen by the fabulous Cee Neuner  to participate in the Seven Day Nature Challenge.

To take part in the challenge I’m supposed to post one photo per day for seven days. The subject can be anything from the natural world. Each day I will try to nominate a new participant.  I’ll do the best I can with that, but if you would like to participate … especially if you are a nature photographer … please, contact me. I prefer to not draft people without asking first.

I have more than 100,000 archived photographs, about 90% landscapes and other natural subjects. Autumn, the Blackstone River, water fowl, sunrises are all favorite subjects. This as an opportunity to show off pictures I’ve taken, but never processed.

THE GOLDEN HOUR

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I took this photo from the scenic overlook called Attean view, a few miles south of Jackman, Maine. It was late afternoon, just before sunset during the last week of September, 2014. The angle of the sun was directly in our faces while we were shooting and the glare made this picture very hard to work with … but thanks to new filter sets, I have been able to make this one work.

My first selected participant is a wonderful photographer from New York. I’ve been following A Day In The Life for years and she just gets better ever day!